- Is American Democracy Strong Enough for Trump? – POLITICO Magazine 012317
Francis Fukuyama: As an American citizen, I have been rather appalled, like many others, at the rise of Donald Trump. I find it hard to imagine a personality less suited by temperament and background to be the leader of the world’s foremost democracy.
On the other hand, as a political scientist, I am looking ahead to his presidency with great interest, since it will be a fascinating test of how strong American institutions are. Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules. So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men.
… So I’m willing to let Trump govern without trying to obstruct every single initiative that comes from him. I don’t think his policies will work, and I believe the American people will see this very soon. However, the single most dangerous abuses of power are ones affecting the system’s future accountability. What the new generation of populist-nationalists like Putin, Chávez in Venezuela, Erdogan in Turkey, and Orbán in Hungary have done is to tilt the playing field to make sure they can never be removed from power in the future. That process has already been underway for some time in America, through Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts and the use of voter ID laws to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters. The moment that the field is so tilted that accountability becomes impossible is when the system shifts from being a real liberal democracy to being an electoral authoritarian one.
- President Trump Declared His Inauguration A “National Day Of Patriotic Devotion” – BuzzFeed News
In one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump declared the day of his inauguration to be “National Day of Patriotic Devotion.”
President Trump signed the National Day of Patriotism proclamation — the text which was placed on the Federal Register’s website on Monday — in addition to formally nominating members of his cabinet and signing a law allowing James Mattis to become defense secretary.
In the proclamation, Trump said he was designating Jan. 20, 2017, as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion “in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country — and to renew the duties of Government to the people.”
- Put on Your Big-Boy Pants, Journos – POLITICO Magazine 012317
Jack Shafer: Extraordinary times—and we are living in an extraordinary time—do not necessarily call for extraordinary measures on the part of the press, as comforting as a full berserking might make many of us feel. The opening minutes of the Trump administration—the lies told by press secretary Sean Spicer about the size of the inauguration crowd, the president’s whopper at CIA headquarters claiming the media made up his feud with the agency, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway’s notion that “alternative facts” support Trump’s imaginary numbers—have stirred bladder-emptying panic among some in the press corps.
But the Trump administration cannot by itself pollute the river of truth with its bogus tweets, its press conferences in which no questions are allowed, or by Conway jibber jabber. Extraordinary times like these call for normal measures: The meticulous, aggressive, and calm presentation of the news. One of our examples should be the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold. Fahrenthold could have assessed the Trump candidacy by filling Twitter with angry comments or by setting himself on fire. Instead, as everybody knows, he excavated the self-dealing garbage dump that was the Trump Foundation as if he were an archeologist and published a series of patient stories that resulted in a penalty against the foundation and its planned closure.
- Sean Spicer and the ‘rodeo clown’ strategy – POLITICO 012317
Patrick Reis: A quick briefing on rodeo clowns, for those unfamiliar: In bull riding, when a bucked rider finds himself in the path of a charging steer, the clowns are tasked with jumping into the arena and kicking up enough of a fuss to pull the bull their way. A clown might get upended, but the rider gets a clear path to safety.
That is, as several astute media observers pointed out over the weekend, not all that far from what Sean Spicer attempted Saturday night. With mass protests taking aim at Trump’s presidency and the press taking notice, Spicer came out and, by haranguing reporters and coughing up 5 falsehoods in 5 minutes, did all he could to get to draw attention away from the marches.
- For mourning Democrats, Michelle Obama offers hope – POLITICO 012317
Madeline Conway: The former first lady’s superfans, still wishing she would run, hotly anticipate her next move.
- POLITICO Playbook 012317
TRUMP’s rocky start — TODAY’S SCANDAL, NOW: Will Trump ditch assigned seats in W.H. briefing — PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW with Paul Ryan Friday — POLITICO is 10 — B’DAY: Norah O’Donnell
- Predicting Trump is like ‘sculpting fog’ – POLITICO MM 012317
Here’s Cumberland Advisors David Kotok’s take on the current state of the market and concerns about the new White House: “I think a stock market correction is building. We see it in some of our math work. Trump is the cause in my opinion … It started in mid-December and we immediately raised a portion of a cash reserve. Our binary full volatility trading strategies have been 100 percent in cash since mid-December. Our core US model is 30 percent in cash right now.”
“The more Trump sends a mixed message the worse this will get in my opinion. Look at the latest tax return fiasco. ‘I will release my return after the audit has become a Conway statement of ‘no’. The bottom line is credibility is destroyed with such behavior and never restored. The count of the crowd is another example … Right now reading this new president is like sculpting fog.”
- Can History Prepare Us for the Trump Presidency? – POLITICO Magazine 012217
The 45th president had already broken many norms when he took the oath of office: Donald Trump is the first commander in chief never to have served in public office or the military; he enters the White House with historically low favorability ratings; and he won an election despite losing the popular vote, after a campaign marked by scandal and unprecedented foreign meddling. But is the United States witnessing a truly unique moment with Trump’s arrival in the White House, or can history offer models for what 2017—and the four or eight years ahead—might look like? Politico Magazine asked historians to identify which moments in history most resemble this one, and what those moments can teach us about the presidency and the country today. Their answers ranged from the presidencies of Andrew Jackson (“wild and unpredictable”) to Abraham Lincoln (characterized by “geographical division”), from Andrew Johnson (an “outsider determined to bring insiders to heel”) to Richard Nixon (who brought to the White House “a deep distrust of government officials”). Still other historians, however, insisted the Trump presidency will be like nothing America has witnessed before.
- Did a dictionary diss Trump team’s ‘alternative facts’? – POLITICO 012217
Merriam-Webster poked at the Trump administration through its Twitter feed, appearing to take senior adviser Kellyanne Conway to task for saying that press secretary Sean Spicer was offering up “alternative facts” about the crowd size at the inauguration.
“A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality,” the dictionary company said in a pinned tweet that linked to a Merriam-Webster posting about how lookups for the word “fact” spiked after Conway’s comment.
Conway, counselor to Trump, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday morning that Spicer was offering “alternative facts” when he told reporters Saturday night during an impromptu briefing that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” (Aerial footage and Metro ridership statistics show that attendance was down significantly from President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.)
“Alternative facts are not facts,” Todd responded. “They’re falsehoods.”
- Could Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ put lives at risk? – POLITICO 012217
Isaac Dovere and Josh Dawsey: “‘Alternative facts” could kill, warn national security and other government veterans, and eventually could unravel the fabric of democracy and America’s standing in the world. This weekend, it was crowd size. By next week, it could be how many troops were killed, and who was responsible for the attack. Or how successful the American response was. Or whether there is an actual threat to homeland security that requires government action. Or even a dispute with a foreign government over a sensitive detail in negotiations.”
- Trump struggles to shake his erratic campaign habits – POLITICO 012217
Josh Dawsey: “That Donald Trump chose to spend the first 48 hours of his presidency feuding with the news media over crowd sizes, crowing about his win in front of a wall of killed CIA agents, spreading inaccurate information and firing off tweets didn’t shock his supporters or critics. But it showed two likely hallmarks of the Trump administration, according to interviews with people involved in and close to his government. First, his team will be very combative, even when the facts are not on their side, trusting that their political base dislikes the news media and will believe them no matter what. … [S]econd, when Trump grows angry, he will usually want the strongest response possible, unless he is told no, and that he will often govern or make decisions based off news coverage.”
- ‘What Do You Do if a Red State Moves to You?’ – POLITICO Magazine 012217
Michael Kruse: Many Americans woke up after the election to discover that they lived in Trump Country. In one corner of Wisconsin, shocked liberals can’t escape an uneasy feeling: They were the reason why.
- Vladimir Putin Cold Open – SNL – YouTube 012117
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett) and Olya Povlatsky (Kate McKinnon) assure Americans that everything will be fine under President Donald Trump.
- How David Ricardo Became Wealthy and Wise | Foundation for Economic Education
What was Ricardo’s “secret” for success in business? Shortly before his death, a friend asked how he had been able to accumulate such a large fortune when he was still a relatively young man. Ricardo said it was all a matter of taking advantage of profit opportunities, while not waiting too long to gain the positive return:
“My whole art in getting rich lay in my always being contented with small profits; or, in other words, never holding on to the commodities or goods in my possession too long, when small profits could be had, in an ill-grounded expectation of realizing eventually a higher rate of profit. I had my eyes, for example, upon every new road, bank, or other joint stock concern, and, where I deemed the prospect of success to be a fair one, I was ever ready to buy a certain number of shares. These shares, from the nature of all new undertaking of a joint-stock character, seldom failed, after a short time, to rise in value beyond the point about which they would afterwards have a tendency to fluctuate. Before the full accomplishment of this rise, however, my shares were in most instances already disposed of to others, and the proceeds invested in a different manner.”