Showing posts with label Trump-Stupidity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump-Stupidity. Show all posts

April 29, 2020

GOP Are Looking At Trump As The Titanic Taking The Senate Down with Him

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

The scale of the G.O.P.’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Mr. Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.

Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Mr. Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super PACs plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.

Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage. 

His daily news briefings on the coronavirus outbreak are inflicting grave damage on his political standing, Republicans believe, and his recent remarks about combating the virus with sunlight and disinfectant were a breaking point for a number of senior party officials.

On Friday evening, Mr. Trump conducted only a short briefing and took no questions, a format that a senior administration official said was being discussed as the best option for the president going forward.

Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, said the landscape for his party had become far grimmer compared with the pre-virus plan to run almost singularly around the country’s prosperity.
“With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment and it’s a total shift from where we were a few months ago,” Mr. Bolger said. “Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers and allies have often blamed external events for his most self-destructive acts, such as his repeated outbursts during the two-year investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia. Now, there is no such explanation — and, so far, there have been exceedingly few successful interventions regarding Mr. Trump’s behavior at the podium.
Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said the president had to change his tone and offer more than a campaign of grievance.

“You got to have some hope to sell people,” Mr. Cole said. “But Trump usually sells anger, division and ‘we’re the victim.’”
Latest Updates: Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S.

Trump unveils a plan to help states expand testing. Experts say it is not enough.
Mnuchin says that companies could face “criminal liability” for improperly taking relief funds.
The C.D.C. expands the list of symptoms, and the W.H.O. warns of a long road ahead.

There are still more than six months until the election, and many Republicans are hoping that the dynamics of the race will shift once Mr. Biden is thrust back into the campaign spotlight. At that point, they believe, the race will not simply be the up-or-down referendum on the president it is now, and Mr. Trump will be able to more effectively sell himself as the person to rebuild the economy.
[Read about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s cloistered mode of campaigning during the coronavirus lockdown.]

(There have been no successful interventions regarding Mr. Trump’s behavior at the podium during his daily coronavirus briefings.Credit...Al Drago for The New York Times)

“We built the greatest economy in the world; I’ll do it a second time,” Mr. Trump said earlier this month, road-testing a theme he will deploy in the coming weeks.
Still, a recent wave of polling has fueled Republican anxieties, as Mr. Biden leads in virtually every competitive state.

The surveys also showed Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine trailing or locked in a dead heat with potential Democratic rivals — in part because their fate is linked to Mr. Trump’s job performance. If incumbents in those states lose, and Republicans pick up only the Senate seat in Alabama, Democrats would take control of the chamber should Mr. Biden win the presidency. 

“He’s got to run very close for us to keep the Senate,” Charles R. Black Jr., a veteran Republican consultant, said of Mr. Trump. “I’ve always thought we were favored to, but I can’t say that now with all these cards up in the air.”

Republicans were taken aback this past week by the results of a 17-state survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee. It found the president struggling in the Electoral College battlegrounds and likely to lose without signs of an economic rebound this fall, according to a party strategist outside the R.N.C. who is familiar with the poll’s results.

The Trump campaign’s own surveys have also shown an erosion of support, according to four people familiar with the data, as the coronavirus remains the No. 1 issue worrying voters.
Polling this early is, of course, not determinative: In 2016 Hillary Clinton also enjoyed a wide advantage in many states well before November.

Yet Mr. Trump’s best hope to win a state he lost in 2016, Minnesota, also seems increasingly challenging. A Democratic survey taken by Senator Tina Smith showed the president trailing by 10 percentage points there, according to a Democratic strategist who viewed the poll.
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The private data of the two parties is largely mirrored by public surveys. Just last week, three Pennsylvania polls and two Michigan surveys were released showing Mr. Trump losing outside the margin of error. And a pair of Florida polls were released that showed Mr. Biden enjoying a slim advantage in a state that is all but essential for Republicans to retain the presidency.
To some in the party, this feels all too similar to the last time they held the White House.

In 2006, anger at President George W. Bush and unease with the Iraq war propelled Democrats to reclaim Congress; two years later they captured the presidency thanks to the same anti-incumbent themes and an unexpected crisis that accelerated their advantage, the economic collapse of 2008. The two elections were effectively a single continuous rejection of Republican rule, as some in the G.O.P. fear 2018 and 2020 could become in a worst-case scenario. 

“It already feels very similar to the 2008 cycle,” said Billy Piper, a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Senator Mitch McConnell.

Significant questions remain that could tilt the outcome of this election: whether Americans experience a second wave of the virus in the fall, the condition of the economy and how well Mr. Biden performs after he emerges from his Wilmington, Del., basement, which many in his party are privately happy to keep him in so long as Mr. Trump is fumbling as he governs amid a crisis.

Defeating Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has become a cause for national liberal activists.

(Defeating Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, has become a cause for national liberal activists.Credit...Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times)

But if Republicans are comforted by the uncertainties that remain, they are alarmed by one element of this election that is already abundantly clear: The small-dollar fund-raising energy Democrats enjoyed in the midterms has not abated.

Most of the incumbent House Democrats facing competitive races enjoy a vast financial advantage over Republican challengers, who are struggling to garner attention as the virus overwhelms news coverage.

Still, few officials in either party believed the House was in play this year. There was also similar skepticism about the Senate. Then the virus struck and fund-raising reports covering the first three months of this year were released in mid-April.

Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed. 

In Maine, for example, Senator Susan Collins brought in $2.4 million while her little-known rival, the House speaker Sara Gideon, raised more than $7 million. Even more concerning to Republicans is the lesser-known Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Republican officials are especially irritated at Mr. Tillis because he has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million, which was more than doubled by his Democratic opponent.

“These Senate first-quarter fund-raising numbers are a serious wake-up call for the G.O.P.,” said Scott Reed, the top political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Republican Senate woes come as anger toward Mr. Trump is rising from some of the party’s most influential figures on Capitol Hill.

After working closely with Senate Republicans at the start of the year, some of the party’s top congressional strategists say the handful of political advisers Mr. Trump retains have communicated little with them since the health crisis began.

In a campaign steered by Mr. Trump, whose rallies drove fund-raising and data harvesting, the center of gravity has of late shifted to the White House. His campaign headquarters will remain closed for another few weeks, and West Wing officials say the president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, hasn’t been to the White House since last month, though he is in touch by phone.
Then there is the president’s conduct.

In just the last week, he has undercut the efforts of his campaign and his allies to attack Mr. Biden on China; suddenly proposed a halt on immigration; and said governors should not move too soon to reopen their economies — a week after calling on protesters to “liberate” their states. And that was all before his digression into the potential healing powers of disinfectants.

Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, has little small-dollar support and raised only $2.1 million in the first quarter. Credit...Pete Marovich for The New York Times
Republican lawmakers have gone from watching his lengthy daily briefings with a tight-lipped grimace to looking upon them with horror.

“Any of us can be onstage too much,” said the longtime Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, noting that “there’s a burnout factor no matter who you are, you’ve got to think about that.”
Privately, other party leaders are less restrained about the political damage they believe Mr. Trump is doing to himself and Republican candidates. One prominent G.O.P. senator said the nightly sessions were so painful he could not bear watching any longer.

“I would urge the president to focus on the positive, all that has been done and how we are preparing for a possible renewal of the pandemic in the fall,” said Representative Peter King, Republican of New York.

Asked about concerns over Mr. Trump’s briefings, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said, “Millions and millions of Americans tune in each day to hear directly from President Trump and appreciate his leadership, unprecedented coronavirus response, and confident outlook for America’s future.”

Mr. Trump’s thrashing about partly reflects his frustration with the virus and his inability to slow Mr. Biden’s rise in the polls. It’s also an illustration of his broader inability to shift the public conversation to another topic, something he has almost always been able to do when confronted with negative story lines ranging from impeachment proceedings to payouts to adult film stars.

Mr. Trump is also restless. Administration officials said they were looking to resume his travel in as soon as a week, although campaign rallies remain distant for now.
As they look for ways to regain the advantage, some Republicans believe the party must mount an immediate ad campaign blitzing Mr. Biden, identifying him to their advantage and framing the election as a clear choice.

“If Trump is the issue, he probably loses,” said Mr. Black, the consultant. “If he makes it about Biden and the economy is getting better, he has a chance.”

April 27, 2020

Poison Control Centers Real Busy People Poisoning Themselves Following Trump Comments

If you think there are not enough stupid or ignorant people to follow the Presidents crazy advice then answer. Why they voted for him and still support him?...

After President Trump suggested Thursday that it’d be “interesting to check” whether or not household disinfectant could help combat coronavirus by injection — something that’s obviously dangerous, if not outright deadly — some poison centers saw an increase in people injuring themselves with bleach and other dangerous substances. 
In the 18 hours after Trump’s widely condemned comments during the White House’s coronavirus briefing, the New York City Poison Control Center reported that it received nine calls about Lysol exposure, 10 calls about bleach exposure, and 11 about exposure to unnamed cleaners, according to WNBC in New York. That’s more than double the exposure calls the center received during the same period last year.  
Two people in Illinois called the Illinois Poison Control Center’s hotline to report “inappropriate exposure” to disinfectants, according to WCIA, a CBS affiliate. Calls have also spiked in recent weeks in Maryland, Kentucky, and Iowa, although many cases appear to result from kids consuming household cleaners. 
Still, Trump gave an enormous platform to quack cures and conspiracies Thursday when he suggested in a briefing — broadcast across national networks — that “powerful light” could be brought inside the body as a treatment, after lab evidence suggested warm weather would slow the virus. Then he took it a step further, after William Bryan, an acting under-secretary for science at the Department of Homeland Security, briefly mentioned the widely-known fact that hand sanitizer and bleach could kill the virus. 
"And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds, it sounds interesting to me,” Trump said. 
After that, Lysol was forced to tell its consumers not to drink or inject bleachLocal health departments pleaded with people not to do anything stupid. Google searches for terms including “disinfectant,” “bleach,” and “injection” spiked. Trump later said he was posing the question about disinfectant “sarcastically” to a reporter to see “what would happen” — although he said it completely unprompted. 
This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has had to walk backbunk claims about cure-alls. For one, Trump touted a legitimate drug — the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine — as an unproven coronavirus treatment for weeks. While some scientists and health professionals were game to start up clinical trials, Trump’s political appointees were simultaneously pressuring health officials to prescribe the drug off-label so people could take it in their homes, according to emails obtained by Vanity Fair. That was while lupus patients were reporting that they couldn’t get their own, legitimate prescriptions filled due to shortages stoked by Trump’s hydroxychloroquine hype. 
The Food and Drug Administration warned Americans this week to not take the drug for coronavirus treatment if they weren’t enrolled in a clinical trial or under hospital care, as hydroxychloroquine has been linked to abnormal heart rhythms. Researchers said Friday that they ended their clinical trial early because nearly two dozen patients died after taking daily doses of the drug.
And, people have poisoned themselves by abusing the drug, according to Forbes; data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed the number of hydroxychloroquine exposure cases more than doubled from March 18 to April 6, compared to the same period last year.
Poison Control centers across the U.S. have been reporting an alarming rise in people exposing themselves to dangerous cleaners — particularly bleach — and drugs in recent weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported Monday that there’d been a rise of approximately 20.4% in calls to poison centers from January to March, mostly over accidental exposure to cleaners and disinfectants, when compared to the same period in 2019.

March 11, 2020

Donald Trump Thinks He is "Got Natural Ability" to Know, Address Viral Outbreaks


By Steve Benen

During Donald Trump's visit to the CDC in Atlanta on Friday, a reporter asked the president how American hospitals can properly prepare for a viral outbreak if they have no idea how many patients to expect. Trump's answer rambled a bit, before the Republican assured everyone, "I like this stuff."
"You know, my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT. He taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius. Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, 'How do you know so much about this? ' Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president."
For weeks, many have marveled at Trump's willingness to ignore, reject, and contradict assessments from experts on the coronavirus outbreak, but these comments help make clear why the president is comfortable doing so: he's convinced himself that he's an expert.
If this sounds at all familiar, it may be because it's happened several times before. About a year ago, for example, Trump was reflecting on technology measures that have been deployed along the U.S./Mexico border, and he assured the public, "I'm a professional at technology."
What kind of technology? He didn't say, but we can probably assume he meant every possible kind.
As we discussed at the time, Trump has also claimed to be the world's foremost authority on everything from terrorism to campaign finance, the judicial system to infrastructure, trade to renewable energy. NowThis prepared a video montage on the subject a while back, and it was amazing to see the many subjects on which the president considers himself a world-class expert. Soon after, Trump billed himself as "the greatest hostage negotiator" in American history. Now, our polymathic leader has "a natural ability" to understand epidemiology, too, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
It's not reasonable to expect a president to be an expert in everything, but it's quite reasonable to expect him to realize that he's not an expert in everything.

February 13, 2020

Trump Asks For Help with Iran From Allies He knocks and Gets~A Loud Silence~


By David Gilbert/Vise

President Donald Trump has spent the last three years alienating allies in Europe and undermining the decades-old relationship with NATO. Now he needs their help.
Trump on Wednesday appealed to the leaders of Germany, France, and the U.K. to help resolve the crisis in Iran by abandoning the nuclear deal and join his campaign of “maximum pressure.”
While NATO has pledged to do more, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have ignored Trump's demands, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose to phone Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday morning, reaffirming the U.K.’s support for the Iran nuclear deal. None of this should shock anyone given how the relationship between Washington and its allies across the Atlantic has deteriorated during Trump’s presidency. Iran has been central to this breakdown since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 over the objections of France, Germany, and the U.K. 
But as Trump threatens even more sanctions and Iran says it's abandoning all restrictions on uranium enrichment, Europe is caught in the middle.
“If the Europeans walk out, they will commit the same mistake Trump did, which is to lose the ability to go forward with snap-back sanctions and at the same time give the Iranians the license to completely shred any of the restrictions that they have on the nuclear program,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, told VICE News. 
But Europe’s reticence to kowtow to Trump’s desires is nothing new.
In August of last year when Trump and the U.S. went looking for support from Europe for a plan to bolster security in the Persian Gulf by providing patrols to ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the requests were met with silence and, in Berlin, with a blunt “no.”
Trump also didn’t bother to warn the Europeans about the deadly drone strike last week that could have sparked an all-out war.
 “There is deep frustration on all sides,” Sanam Vakil, an Iran expert at London-based think tank Chatham House, told VICE News. “Case in point is that Trump didn’t confer or even alert Europe about the killing of [top Iranian General Qassem] Soleimani.”
On Wednesday, as Trump was making his demands in a televised address, Boris Johnson was speaking in the House of Commons reiterating his commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.
“It is our view that the JCPOA remains the best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, the best way of encouraging the Iranians not to develop a nuclear weapon,” Johnson told Parliament.
“We think that after this crisis has abated, which of course we sincerely hope it will, that way forward will remain,” Johnson added. “It is a shell that has currently been voided, but it remains a shell into which we can put substance again.”
Even an in-person appeal by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t work. 
In a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, Pompeo failed to convince Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, with the U.K. lawmaker once again reiterating the U.K.’s commitment to the JCPOAin a BBC interview. 
The offices of Macron, Merkel, and Johnson did not respond when VICE News asked whether they would meet Trump’s demand to withdraw from the nuclear pact. However, the trio made their desire to see the 2015 pact endure in a statement published earlier this week, calling on Tehran to “withdraw all measures that are not in line with the nuclear agreement.”
That statement was published in response to Iran’s announcement that it was removing all limits on uranium enrichment after the U.S. assassination of Soleimani, one of Iran's most powerful leaders.
However, Iran left the door open for a possible return to the nuclear deal if crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. were lifted.
But rather than offering an olive branch on Wednesday, Trump doubled down, saying his administration would impose fresh “powerful sanctions” on Iran — without giving any specifics on what that might look like.
Under the terms of the JCPOA, all signatories are required to ensure that trading relationships with Iran remain normal as long as Iran abides by the terms of the nuclear deal. 
Since the U.S. withdrawal, Iran has broken the terms of the pact on several occasions, but European countries have also failed to live up to their end of the bargain, preferring instead to implement Trump’s sanctions over fears of losing access to the U.S. market.
European countries are therefore doing a balancing act: trying to keep Tehran within the JCPOA while trying not to anger Trump and losing access to the lucrative U.S. market. 
Trump may be hoping that the desire to maintain trading relations with the U.S. will be enough to make Europe act even if doesn't want to.
“With the JCPOA being in shambles, Trump is calculating that Europe will eventually be forced to trigger the dispute resolution mechanism — a process that even if dragged out will result in the return of snapback sanctions and the further isolation of Iran,” Vakil said.

November 20, 2018

Trump Has The Answer For Forest Fires But Strangely People Are Laughing Worldwide

 Raking the forest! Why nobody thought of it before?

Update: Since this article originally published in the Washington Post, some have suggested that Trump had in mind a more esoteric form of raking, such as perhaps an excavator rake; or a McLeod tool (a.k.a. a “fire rake”); or the 19th century European practice of removing organic topsoil known as “litter raking;" or — as a reader put it in a profanity-laced email to The Washington Post — “He didn’t mean literally raking with a rake, like some guy with a little rake from Home Depot, it’s a term meaning to clear underbrush and rotted forest floors with control burns which California does not do.”
The White House has not responded to a request for clarification on what Trump meant by “raking," so the above possibilities cannot be totally discounted. 
However, it’s worth pointing out that when the president spoke of watching firemen rake beneath a little nut tree, he moved his hands back and forth as if he were miming a garden rake.
Original article:
Reversing course on his threat to cut the state’s federal funding if Californians don’t solve their forest fire problem, President Trump now says he’ll solve it with them.
“We go through this every year; we can’t go through this,” Trump said Saturday as he toured the state’s massive wildfire zones. “We’re going to have safe forests.”
How to make California’s vast drought-stricken forests “safe” after the Camp Fire grew to the size of Chicago this month, killing dozens if not hundreds of people and burning an entire town to the ground? Trump promised federal funds and says he has some ideas.
One of those ideas is raking.
It’s not a popular idea.
“You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forests, it’s very important,” Trump told reporters as he posed with California officials in the charred ruins of Paradise — his first stop on the tour.
Trump went on to explain that the president of Finland, whom he met on an overseas trip a week earlier, told him about raking the forest floors. “He called it a forest nation,” Trump said, “and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem."
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto later disputed this. He told a local newspaper that he had briefed Trump on Finland’s efforts to surveil and care for its forests, the Associated Press wrote, “but said he can’t recall anything being mentioned on raking.”
Maybe it wasn’t Niinisto who gave Trump the raking idea. Maybe it was something he saw on TV.
“I was watching the firemen the other day, and they were raking areas. They were raking areas!” Trump told Fox News from the Oval Office on Friday — before he left for California. “They’re raking trees, little trees like this — nut trees, little bushes, that you could see are totally dry. Weeds! And they’re raking them. They’re on fire.”
“That should have been all raked out,” he concluded. “You wouldn’t have the fires.”
The Fox host, Chris Wallace, asked whether climate change might not be a larger wildfire factor than unraked debris, but Trump didn’t think so.
Wherever Trump got the notion that raking parts of California — be it entire forest floors or the areas around little nut trees — could have prevented the Camp Fire, not many people seem to agree.
The online reaction in Finland alternated between those pointing out that the country has a vastly different climate and population density and those making jokes.
The idea’s domestic reception wasn’t much better.
“If preventing wildfires were as easy as raking leaves, we would have done that by now, but it is a very complicated issue.” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told MSNBC on Sunday, mentioning climate change, dry weather, and high winds. “I hope the president consults some experts, maybe talks to folks who actually know something about wildfires, and really stop believing these bizarre theories that he has.”
This is not to say that raking has nothing to do with fire prevention — even if it’s not the exotic and comprehensive solution Trump made it sound like.
“His general sentiment is correct — that we need to manage fuels,” said Yana Valachovic a forest adviser with the University of California’s Cooperative Extension program. “And yeah, managing that pine litter adjacent to our homes and buildings is super important. … But the reality is, to manage every little bit of fuel with a rake is not practical.”
Raking is an effective way to clear light debris like leaves and pine needles away from residences, she said. It’s of much less use on the forest floor, where infernos burn through swaths of brush and large debris that only heavy machinery can clear.
California’s problems are complicated, she said — a combination of hot, dry climates, poor community design and “100 years of fire suppression” that helped turn forests into tinderboxes.
Like Trump, Valachovic said the problem is solvable — but through long-term programs of community education, controlled burns, forest thinning and economic incentives.
Much more than rakes, in other words.

August 12, 2018

What Hurts Trump is Not The Deep State But The Shallow State

President Trump and his supporters have often complained about the "deep state" — a supposedly shadowy cabal of opposition bureaucrats buried deep within the government. But perhaps the biggest impediment to the president isn't the deep state at all. It's the "shallow state" — which exists right below Donald Trump at the Cabinet level. 
After all, there's a distinct pattern in the administration. The president makes a claim that seems to contradict longstanding policy. Shortly thereafter, a Cabinet member or two will step up to a microphone and reiterate U.S. policy, contradicting the president. 
 The most recent example are new sanctions the Trump administration plans to level against Russia for using a nerve agent in the attempted assassination of a former Russian agent in the United Kingdom. Shortly after the British government declared in March that Russia was behind the chemical weapons use, Trump sowed doubt on the findings.
"As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be," said Trump in March of conclusions drawn by the intelligence agencies of the United States' closest ally. 
The administration quickly put out a stronger statement in Trump's name and this week's sanctions show that it's another of many disconnects between what the president has said (or tweets) and what his top officials and Cabinet secretaries do. 
Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, says this dynamic is unusual for a president.

"Almost all presidents plan what they're going to say and plan how to have the government behind them when they go to implement what they say," she says.
For the Trump administration, that formula is turned on its head. 
There was the time Trump said he'd forgive Puerto Rico's debt. His budget director stepped in and said, no, in fact, that wasn't going to happen. 
There was the time when Trump went to the NATO headquarters and refused to say the U.S. was committed to NATO's mutual defense pact. His defense secretary and vice president rushed out to say, in effect, the president's words, or the absence of them, was not the official U.S. policy toward NATO.
Last week, the president continued his rhetoric on the special counsel's "witch hunt" and wrote what seemed like a request to his attorney general on Twitter. Quickly, his administration sought to clarify that the president wasn't issuing any commands — just his opinion. 
One of Trump's top lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, said the president has established a clear practice that he expresses his opinions on Twitter. 
"He used the word 'should.' He didn't use the word 'must.' And there was no presidential directive that followed it," Giuliani said. "He didn't direct him to do it and he's not going to direct him to do it."
Press secretary Sarah Sanders echoed that sentiment during a briefing. "It's not an order," she reiterated. "It's the president's opinion." 
That opinion, which the president repeatedly expresses, is that the Mueller probe is a rigged witch hunt, something that top administration officials, including the president's FBI director, Christopher Wray, deny.  
Kamarck says Donald Trump increasingly operates as a party of one, untethered from his own administration.
"This president simply seems to wake up in the morning and say things with nothing behind them, no preparation, no theory of the case, and no coherency," she says. "And it's causing a lot of confusion in his White House because they're always scrambling after him."
Sometimes, that scrambling ties Cabinet secretaries in knots. 
Take Iran, for example. During a press conference with the Italian prime minister, President Trump said he would be willing to meet with the leaders of Iran without any preconditions. 
"No preconditions, no," he said in response to a reporter's question. "If they wanna meet, I'll meet."
Hours later on CNBC, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to backtrack that idea, sharing a long list of preconditions that Iran would have to meet before sitting down with the president — like reducing its malign behavior and agreeing that it's worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that prevents proliferation.
The difference between what the president says and the policy of the United States is yet another question that tripped up the secretary of state during a Senate hearing on July 25.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., questioned Pompeo about U.S. policy versus a statement from the president regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. 
"I make lots of statements. They're not U.S. policy. The president says things, right?" Pompeo said. "The president makes comments in certain places. We have we have a National Security Council. We meet, we lay out strategies, we develop policies, right?"
Later on in the hearing, Pompeo asked for a redo on how to decipher policy from presidential messaging.
"I misspoke. It is the case that the president calls the ball," he said. "His statements are in fact policy."
Kamarck says these kind of back and forths between the administration and the president cause "confusion internationally among our allies [and] some glee among our adversaries."
She says it also causes confusion for leaders in Trump's own party.  
"Just the other day, he said he was going to shut down the government because they they haven't appropriated money for the wall," she says. "It took hours, if not minutes, for Mitch McConnell to say, no we're not shutting down the government."
But on some level, she says, what the president of the United States says or doesn't say really might not matter.
"What's important to remember is we have never been a government of men.
We are a government of laws," she says. "So the laws of the land, the treaties that we have signed to, that's what is operative for the United States government, not what any president may say one morning."
Barbara Sprunt contributed to this report.

Fox is No Fox More Like a Dingo! Fell For North Korean Propaganda and so Did DJT

 Praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for spending time “out with the people.
” Describing him as “quite the romantic.” Even lauding Kim’s uncharacteristically casual summer outfit.

That may sound like typical North Korean propaganda, but in this case, the fawning comments came from Fox News.
Yes, seriously.
Here’s what happened: On Wednesday, Kim traveled with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, to a fish-pickling plant. On New Year’s Day 2018, Kim announced he would be prioritizing improving his country’s struggling economy instead of its nuclear program. Visiting the fish-pickling plant was part of that effort — with the bonus of being a great publicity stunt complete with multiple photo ops.
But what really caught people’s attention was Kim’s clothing. 
Photos showed Kim wearing a breezy short-sleeve white shirt, light gray slacks, and some sort of floppy Panama/cowboy/beach hat hybrid. (Note: We asked our friends over at Racked to help us figure out what kind of hat it was. As of publication time, they are still stumped.)
That’s a whole different outfit for Kim, who usually sports austere dark-colored suits in the style popularized by former Chinese strongman Mao Zedong. (One possible explanation for the wardrobe change is that North Korea is in the middle of a dramatic heat wave, so perhaps Kim was merely trying to beat the heat.)
The hosts of Fox & Friends, the conservative news channel’s morning show that President Donald Trump watches regularly, also noticed Kim’s more relaxed outfit and fun summer outing to the fish-pickling plant.
So on Thursday, instead of explaining the context of the trip — that it’s quintessential North Korean propaganda — the show’s hosts proceeded to applaud Kim. 
 “The last couple of times have you seen him, it’s been out with the people,” said Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts. “Turns out Kim Jong Un is quite the romantic,” quipped Jillian Mele, another co-anchor, referencing the fact that Kim brought his wife along on the factory tour. (However, the segment beforehand did call Kim a “dictator” and North Korea a “rogue regime.”) Needless to say — but I’ll say it anyway — that’s not a great look for Fox News. 
Even if they meant their comments sarcastically, failing to provide any context and merely portraying Kim as a kooky character at best and a fun-loving man of the people at worst only serves to humanize the bloody, murderous dictator.
Since Kim took over the country from his father in 2011, he’s ruled as a brutal dictator who starves and imprisons his own citizens. 
He oversees prison camps that detain 80,000 to 130,000 people in conditions one organization said are “as terrible [as] Nazi camps.” He had his uncle and half-brother murdered, perhaps because he worried they were plotting to overthrow him. And until recently, he had no problem spending time and money on building up a nuclear arsenal instead of betting the lives of his citizens who live on about $1,700 a year.
For Fox News hosts to laugh and celebrate him simply because he hung out at a factory in hipper clothes shows how just good North Korea propaganda really is — or, perhaps, just how bad Fox News can be.

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