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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Relaxing With Nature, A Good Way To Spend A Holiday Weekend

Bad News For Brand USA: America's Slice Of The Global Tourism Pie Keeps Shrinking

International travel is up, but the United States is capturing a smaller piece of the tourism pie.

"These are sobering times for the U.S. tourism industry. While international tourism is growing around the world, America’s slice of the pie has been shrinking.

America’s share of the global travel market dropped from 13.7 percent in 2015 to just 11.7 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
That 2 percent drop is a very big deal. In 2018, international visitors to the U.S. spent $256 billion — so a two percent drop translates to around $5 billion annually. And the travel industry is a huge job generator. Last year, travelers spent $1.1 trillion in the U.S. and directly supported 8.9 million U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
“When we met last year, I told you that the U.S. is losing international travel market share. Unfortunately, that is still the case,” U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow told a crowd at IPW, the travel industry's premier inbound international conference, last week in Anaheim, California.
Dow noted that the U.S. Department of Commerce just put out figures showing that international travel to the U.S. grew by 3.5 percent last year. “That might sound pretty good — but not when you consider that globally, long-haul travel grew by 7 percent,” he said. “What that means is that the U.S. is still falling behind in the competition to attract international visitors. That’s the bad news.”
On one hand, Dow was reluctant to blame politics. “I know a lot of people want to lay this at the feet of our president. But we’ve come a long way helping the administration appreciate travel as a crucial U.S. export and job creator,” said Dow. “We certainly don’t think the president says often enough that he wants healthy numbers of visitors to come to the U.S. but there is an opening to talk to this administration about policies that help with visitation.”
To illustrate his point, Dow showed a clip from the 2019 State of the Union, where President Trump stated that the U.S. wants international visitors before making a crack about illegal immigration. The IPW audience reacted with cynical laughter.
But the same day Dow had to acknowledge that politics were contributing at least in part to the country’s tourism woes after the Chinese government issued multiple warnings to its citizens about traveling to the United States. Three of China’s ministries — Foreign Affairs, Education, and Culture and Tourism — issued separate warnings to business travelers, students and leisure travelers.
The Chinese government recently issued warnings to citizens about traveling to the United States.
The Chinese government recently issued warnings to citizens about traveling to the United States.
Even before these warnings, there was a drop in Chinese tourism numbers that appears to be connected to politics. After seven years of double-digit growth through 2016, it slowed to only 4 percent in 2017 and remained flat in 2018.
“This move would appear connected to the U.S.-China trade dispute,” said Dow in a statement. “While it's too early to know the impact this might have on inbound travel from one of our top source markets, announcements such as this can have a chilling effect.” Chinese tourists spend $6,700 per trip compared to an average of $4,200 for international tourists overall.
“We continue to urge both governments not to politicize travel for the reasons I have stated often: travel is incredibly valuable for both countries in terms of direct commercial activity and business relationships that have a broad downstream economic impact,” according to Dow’s statement.
“America can be — and should be — the most secure and the most visited country in the world,” said Dow."

Bad News For Brand USA: America's Slice Of The Global Tourism Pie Keeps Shrinking

Thursday, August 29, 2019

EPA's rollback of methane regulation is bad for the climate — and energy companies

A natural gas flare on an oil well pad burns as the sun sets outside Watford City, North Dakota

"On december 19 of last year, Admiral Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met James Mattis for lunch at the Pentagon. Mattis was a day away from resigning as Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, but he tends to keep his own counsel, and he did not suggest to Mullen, his friend and former commander, that he was thinking of leaving.

To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app.

But Mullen did think Mattis appeared unusually afflicted that day. Mattis often seemed burdened in his role. His aides and friends say he found the president to be of limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character. Now Mattis was becoming more and more isolated in the administration, especially since the defenestration of his closest Cabinet ally, the former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, several months earlier. Mattis and Tillerson had together smothered some of Trump’s more extreme and imprudent ideas. But now Mattis was operating without cover. Trump was turning on him publicly; two months earlier, he had speculated that Mattis might be a Democrat and said, in reference to NATO, “I think I know more about it than he does.” (Mattis, as a Marine general, once served as the supreme allied commander in charge of NATO transformation.)"

EPA's rollback of methane regulation is bad for the climate — and energy companies

Trump administration changing citizenship rules for some children of US ...

Cuomo to Trump campaign press secy: He lies and you know it

Eugene Robinson: ‘Trump’s Obama Envy Is Getting Even Worse’ | Morning Jo...

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Trump Administration Is Now Deporting Kids With Cancer | Vanity Fair 😡 😡 😡

Trump looking at sky.

The Trump Administration Is Now Deporting Kids With Cancer | Vanity Fair

Trump campaign attacks AOC, Democrats: 'This is our country, not theirs'. Trump has clearly defined himself as our enemy. We must treat him as such. Pelosi is his biggest enabler.

Image: Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a news conference on Capitol Hill on July 15, 2019.

Trump campaign attacks AOC, Democrats: 'This is our country, not theirs'

New Polls: Trump Disapproval Skyrockets In Key States | The Last Word | ...

‘Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day.

"President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.
Trump has repeatedly promised to complete 500 miles of fencing by the time voters go to the polls in November 2020, stirring chants of “Finish the Wall!” at his political rallies as he pushes for tighter border controls. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of “replacement” barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure.
The president has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat. With the election 14 months away and hundreds of miles of fencing plans still in blueprint form, Trump has held regular White House meetings for progress updates and to hasten the pace, according to several people involved in the discussions.
When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials who attended the meetings.
“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he has told officials in meetings about the wall. 
“He said people expected him to build a wall, and it had to be done by the election,” one former official said.
Asked for comment, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons.
Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said Tuesday that the president is protecting the country with the addition of new border barriers.
“Donald Trump promised to secure our border with sane, rational immigration policies to make American communities safer, and that’s happening everywhere the wall is being built,” Gidley said. He called internal criticisms of the president “just more fabrications by people who hate the fact the status quo, that has crippled this country for decades, is finally changing as President Trump is moving quicker than anyone in history to build the wall, secure the border and enact the very immigration policies the American people voted for.”
“President Trump is fighting aggressively for the American people where other leaders in the past have rolled over, sold out, and done absolutely nothing,” he said. 
A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands Aug. 23 in Calexico, Calif., next to a stretch of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border that is to be replaced. As the 2020 election nears, the border is said to be an increasingly urgent concern to the president. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
Materials are positioned in Calexico, Calif., near the U.S. border with Mexico for construction that will will replace old border fencing. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
A section of the border fence that is painted black near downtown Calexico. President Trump wants all new border barriers to be painted black. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper is expected to approve a White House request to divert $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to the barrier project in coming weeks, money that Trump sought after lawmakers refused to allocate $5 billion. The funds will be pulled from Defense Department projects in 26 states, according to administration officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the matter.
Trump’s determination to build the barriers as quickly as possible has not diminished his interest in the aesthetic aspects of the project, particularly the requirement that the looming steel barriers be painted black and topped with sharpened tips.
In a meeting at the White House on May 23, Trump ordered the Army Corps and the Department of Homeland Security to paint the structure black, according to internal communications reviewed by The Washington Post.
Administration officials have stopped trying to talk him out of the demands, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to instruct contractors to apply black paint or coating to all new barrier fencing, the communications show.
A look at Trump’s border wall prototypes
Trump conceded last year in an immigration meeting with lawmakers that a wall or barrier is not the most effective mechanism to curb illegal immigration, recognizing it would accomplish less than a major expansion of U.S. enforcement powers and deportation authority. But he told lawmakers that his supporters want a wall and that he has to deliver it.
Trump talked about the loud cheers the wall brought at rallies, according to one person with direct knowledge of the meeting.
Former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly would often tell administration officials to disregard the president’s demands if Kelly did not think they were feasible or legally sound, according to current and former aides.
Replacement of existing barriers is underway on the U.S. border with Mexico on Aug. 23 near Calexico. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
During a conference call last week, officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Army Corps engineers that the hundreds of miles of fencing must be completed before the next presidential election, according to administration officials with knowledge of the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal communications.
“Border Patrol insists on compressed acquisition timelines, and we consent. Their goal is to get contracts awarded, not for us to get a quality contract with a thoroughly vetted contractor,” said one senior official who is concerned the agency has been hurried to hand out contracts as quickly as possible.
Military officials expect more contract protests because the arrangements have been rushed, the official added. The Army Corps already has had to take corrective actions for two procurement contracts, after companies protested.
The companies building the fencing and access roads have been taking heavy earth-moving equipment into environmentally sensitive border areas adjacent to U.S. national parks and wildlife preserves, but the administration has waived procedural safeguards and impact studies, citing national security concerns.
“They don’t care how much money is spent, whether landowners’ rights are violated, whether the environment is damaged, the law, the regs or even prudent business practices,” the senior official said.
CBP has suggested no longer writing risk-assessment memos “related to the fact that we don’t have real estate rights and how this will impact construction,” the official said.
While Trump has insisted that the barriers be painted, the cost of painting them will reduce the length of the fence the government will be able to build. According to the internal analysis, painting or coating 175 miles of barriers “will add between $70 million and $133 million in cost,” trimming the amount of fencing the Army Corps will be able to install by four to seven miles.
Sections of barrier being installed on the U.S.-Mexico border near Calexico. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
A section of border barrier that has been painted black near Calexico. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
Razor-fitted concertina wire tops the border barrier in Calexico. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
In June, teams of U.S. soldiers painted a one-mile section of fence in Calexico, Calif., at a cost of $1 million. The coating, known as “matte black” or “flat black,” absorbs heat, making the fence hot to the touch, more slippery and therefore tougher to climb, according to border agents.
At Trump’s behest, the Army Corps also is preparing to instruct contractors to remove from the upper part of the fence the smooth metal plates that are used to thwart climbers. The president considered that design feature unsightly, according to officials familiar with his directives.
Instead, contractors have been asked to cut the tips of the steel bollards to a sharpened point. Trump had told aides this spring he thought the barrier should be spiked to instill a fear of injury.
The change in the bollard design is likely to reduce the overall length of the barrier by two to three miles, according to the administration’s cost assessments.
CBP has used a pointed design in the past, according to agency officials, either by installing a pyramid-shaped cap or making what the agency refers to as a “miter cut” in the metal.
Trump remains keen to tout incremental progress toward his wall-building commitments, and in recent weeks, top Homeland Security officials have taken to Twitter to promote the advances.
People walk on the Tijuana, Mexico, side of the border near the primary fence that separates the United States and Mexico in the San Diego Sector on Aug. 22. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
In recent days, DHS leaders including acting CBP chief Mark Morgan and the top official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, have tweeted photos of border fence construction, echoing promises that 450 miles of new barrier will be completed by next year. Another senior administration official credited both men with injecting urgency, saying that “things are starting to crank away,” even though Cuccinelli’s agency is not involved in the project.
Dan Scavino Jr., the White House social media director, has asked for video footage and photos of equipment digging up the desert and planting the barriers so that administration officials can tweet about it, aides said.
Administration officials involved in the project also defended the president’s use of eminent domain laws to speed the process.
“There is no more constitutionally permissible public purpose for eminent domain than national defense,” said a current administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record about the contracting process.
“Our intention is to negotiate with every property owner, and every property owner will receive fair market value for the land,” the official said. “But the land that is needed is not replaceable land. This is not like building a hospital or even a school. There is no alternative land to the border.”
CBP and Pentagon officials insist they remain on track to complete about 450 miles of fencing by the election. Of that, about 110 miles will be added to areas where there is currently no barrier. The height of the structure will vary between 18 and 30 feet, high enough to inflict severe injury or death from a fall.
The Border Patrol’s strategic planning and analysis office has not made a final decision on the black paint or other White House design requests .
“Ultimately, we’ll do our assessment and determine what is the best for us operationally,” said Brian Martin, the office’s chief, adding that the agency is waiting to get border agents’ feedback on whether the coating would be beneficial.
Martin also said CBP would continue to install anti-climb panels on portions of the barrier already under contract, calling the design “very vital to overall effectiveness.” But he and other CBP officials said that some new portions of barriers will have the panels and that others will not, a determination that he said will be guided by necessity, not aesthetics.
Trump has recently urged the Army Corps to award a contract to a company he favors, North Dakota-based Fisher Industries, though the firm has not been selected. Fisher has been aggressively pushed by Trump ally Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who briefly held up the confirmation of a Trump budget office nominee last month in an attempt to put pressure on the Army Corps.
Cramer demanded to see the contracts awarded to Fisher’s competitors, lashing out at the “arrogance” of the Army Corps in emails to military officials after he was told the bidding process involved proprietary information that could not be shared. The CEO of Fisher Industries is a major backer of Cramer and has donated to his campaigns.
Cramer visited the El Paso area Tuesday to tour border facilities and view a span of privately funded border fencing Fisher built as a showcase for what it claims are superior construction techniques. Cramer posted videos of his tour to social media. He undertook the tour “to see the crisis at our border firsthand.”
The senator had asked Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commander of the Army Corps, to meet him at the site, but Semonite is traveling in Brazil, where the Trump administration has offered to help fight wildfires in the Amazon.
In an email to The Post, Cramer said he met with CEO Tommy Fisher on Tuesday at a span of fencing the company built on private land; he said Army Corps officials joined them at the site.
“The agents on the ground said the walls have been very helpful in slowing illegal crossings,” Cramer wrote. “I’m not a wall-building expert, but at the pace of the last few years, it’s hard to see how 450 miles gets built with the same process. . . . I wish DHS would engage a whole bunch of builders and innovators rather than rely on the same decades old bureaucracy.”
Cramer said he shared the president’s “frustration” with the pace of progress.
Several administration officials who confirmed the White House’s urgency said they expect to be able to deliver on Trump’s demands because the actual construction of the barriers is typically the last step in the process.
“There is a long lead time to acquiring land, getting permits and identifying funding,” the official said. “I think you will see a dramatic increase in wall construction next year because all of the work over the past two years has primed the pump.”

A construction site for a secondary border fence follows the length of the primary border fence that separates the United States and Mexico in the San Diego Sector on Aug. 22, in San Diego (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)
‘Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day.

Ex-Fox News reporter says Trump is a cry-baby President

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Sixty-eight minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind - The Washington Post

"BIARRITZ, France —  For many minutes on Monday, President Trump stood on foreign soil at the close of the Group of Seven summit here and trashed his predecessor. He bragged about his personal properties from the presidential podium and suggested that he will hold next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral golf course in Florida, which has “incredible” conference rooms and “magnificent” bungalows.

And he defended both Vladi­mir Putin and Kim Jong Un, suggesting that the Russian strongman deserves an invite to future G-7 summits and that the North Korean dictator is an honorable man who will not let Trump down.

The U.S. president’s news conference here was presaged by an aide saying Trump would answer anything if the first two questions stayed on topic. Trump seemed more interested when the questions went off topic — and for 68 minutes in a seaside auditorium, he offered a lens into his un­or­tho­dox mind, a range of false or dubious statements, and the myriad ways he has changed the presidency in 31 months.

He attacked former president Barack Obama’s intellect while defending Putin for annexing part of Crimea — a move that drove Russia’s expulsion from what was then called the G-8. To many world leaders, Putin’s move was illegal and had nothing to do with Obama. To Trump, it showed that his predecessor was a sucker and that criticizing him (along with former vice president “Sleepy Joe” Biden, in Trump’s words) was fair banter. He veered into a similar diatribe on Obama not enforcing a “red line” in Syria, though he was not queried on the topic.

“President Putin outsmarted President Obama,” Trump said, calling it “very embarrassing” for Obama. The realpolitik of the world, he said, meant Russia should be in the room at future summits. And he said he would like to invite Putin next year to his golf course, claiming without evidence that other leaders agreed with his predilection — even as they said otherwise.

Asked why he continued to falsely blame Obama for the annexation of Crimea, as he did almost a dozen times Monday, the president suggested that he knew the black journalist asking the question, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS News, had an ulterior motive. “I know you like President Obama,” he said, without saying how he knew that.

 President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron arrive to participate in a joint news conference at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Monday.

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron arrive to participate in a joint news conference at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, Monday.

“I’m not blaming him,” he said, before blaming him extensively because “a lot of bad things happened.”

Trump admitted no blunder in his escalating trade fight with China, even as his flummoxing moves have rattled the markets and his own aides.

In four days, Trump imposed new tariffs on China, called the country’s president an “enemy,” admitted “second thoughts” on the escalating trade war, reversed course hours later to say he only wished he had raised the tariffs higher, and then vowed a deal would be coming soon — because China wants one desperately, in the president’s telling. Doesn’t that make it harder, a reporter asked, to make a deal?

“Sorry, it’s how I negotiate,” he said. “It’s been very successful over the years.”

His assertion that China is itching to strike a compromise has been contradicted by multiple reports and Chinese officials. When Fox News reporter John Roberts expressed skepticism, Trump forged ahead by saying the Chinese had been working behind the scenes.

 President Trump and and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One in Biarritz, France, Monday to return to Washington following the G-7 summit.

President Trump and and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One in Biarritz, France, Monday to return to Washington following the G-7 summit.

Trump claimed to have gotten two phone calls on Sunday night from high-ranking Chinese officials seeking to negotiate a trade deal. “High-level calls,” he said. Chinese government officials said Monday that they were unaware of any such calls. When Trump asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to back him up, Mnuchin would only say there had been “communication,” avoiding the word “call.” The treasury secretary quickly interjected again Monday afternoon to add “communications.”

Trump suggested that within weeks he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. “Now, is that based on fact or based on gut? It’s based on gut,” he said. He added: “Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. I say it all the time about everything.”

Although he said French President Emmanuel Macron asked his permission to invite Iran’s foreign minister to the G-7, Macron said that he simply “informed” Trump in advance of his plan and that it was Macron’s idea alone.

At length, he boasted about his private properties. Trump refused to divest, unlike many of his predecessors, and has profited from an influx of Republican fundraisers and other political events. Questioned about the propriety of profiting from next year’s summit of world leaders, he batted down any concern.

“I don’t want to make money,” he said. “I don’t care about making money.”

His resort in Miami, he said, would make a terrific locale for the G-7 because of its bungalows, proximity to the airport, large ballrooms and substantial parking.

“Biggest ballrooms in Florida,” he said.

He offered an unproven claim, as he has done before, that the presidency has cost him $3 billion to $5 billion. He then moved on to praise his golf courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Seeming to change course, he moved into a soliloquy about the nomenclature of Europe.

“What’s England? What’s happening with England? They don’t use it too much anymore,” Trump says he told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He described both Iran and North Korea in terms of their real estate potential, saying the countries would want to deal with Trump because they sit on valuable, or gentrifying, properties.

“A location that’s a little rough neighborhood,” he said of Iran, in the middle of the war-torn Middle East. “But eventually it’s going to be a beautiful neighborhood.”

He showed no concern that the North Korean dictator had violated U.N. resolutions by firing missiles, instead saying that Kim would not personally disappoint Trump. In a long-winded answer, Trump nodded to his wife, Melania, and claimed she had gotten to know Kim Jong Un very well; the White House later acknowledged that Kim and the U.S. first lady have never met.

He also jousted with journalists. When a French reporter charged at the podium without being called on, he pointed to Jim Acosta of CNN and grinned. “She’s worse than you!” he said, before explaining that his wife likes French wine.

When Hallie Jackson, an NBC reporter, stood up, Trump said, “Here we go,” before repeatedly telling her she would get only one question.

Even as he spent several days on Twitter decrying the “Fake and Disgusting News,” he seemed much more enthusiastic once Macron left the stage and he was able to hold forth alone.

“You can’t say I don’t give you access,” he said.

Toluse Olorunnipa contributed to this report."

Sixty-eight minutes in Biarritz: A glimpse into Trump’s unorthodox mind - The Washington Post

Monday, August 26, 2019

Former Fox News Reporter Unloads On Trump’s Embarrassing Conduct | The B...

Opinion | Trump’s Paradigm of the Personal

For Donald Trump, all is personal.
And in his view, he is not the executive of the company. He is the embodiment of the country. He runs the country the way he ran his business, as the curating and promotion of his personal brand.
The people who support him are customers — people to be sold a vision and a dream. The people who criticize or oppose him threaten the brand and must be dealt with.
For Trump, everything is image-based and rooted in the appearance of personal relationships. When the Danish prime minister rebuffed his overture about buying Greenland, calling the idea “absurd,” Trump threw a tantrum and canceled his visit to Denmark.
Trump discussed the episode at one of his press gaggles, calling the prime minister’s response “nasty’ and saying, “We can’t treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama.” He went on to say: “She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the United States of America. You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.”
No, actually, she was talking to him.
America was not being dismissed or disrespected. This proposal, which sounded like a joke, was being laughed at. And this president hates being laughed at.
Everything in Trump’s view is about whether someone is nice or nasty to him. It’s not about the country at all. It’s not about historical precedent or value of continuity.
His dislike of his predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even Jimmy Carter — is personal, not rooted in policy. He has a particular obsession with Obama, and has set about to undo everything Obama had done.
It’s petty and small and beneath the presidency, much like Trump himself.
I believe that Trump has had a longstanding belief about how China should be dealt with, but I believe that the current trade war is as much a personal beef with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. Trump thought that he could play rough and that Xi would fold.
That was silly and shortsighted. The U.S. presidency is term-limited. China’s is not. The Chinese may experience pain from the trade war, but they can afford to wait Trump out.
The fact that Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, won’t attempt to manipulate the economy in ways Trump thinks would be favorable, but is instead operating as an independent thinker, Trump takes as a personal slight. Trump appointed him. Trump demands loyalty and blind obeisance.
When China announced another round of retaliatory tariffs this week, Trump had a Twitter meltdown, tweeting “... My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” and sending the markets into a tailspin.
Trump hated North Korea’s Kim Jong-un before he loved him. Kim has played Trump like a fiddle. Kim has baited Trump into two summits, where Trump got nothing and Kim got a priceless public relations moment. Kim can just send Trump love letters and do what he wants and surrender nothing. In Trump’s paradigm of the personal, Kim likes him and is his friend.
Vladimir Putin is also exploiting Trump’s personal need to be liked — his weak man’s desire to be admired by strong men. Trump has a deep and mysterious affection for Putin. Yes, Putin helped to get him elected, but I’m not sure even that explains the way Trump genuflects for him.
Everyone around Trump knows his weakness: He is a bottomless pit of emotional need, someone who desperately wants friends but doesn’t have the emotional quotient to know how to make and keep them. So, they flatter him and inflate him.
They have all become major-league yes men and women.
None of this is good for the country. The presidency is not owned; it is occupied. It is bigger than any man or woman. Men have grown into it, but they have never subsumed it.
The presidency must have one eye on the past and one on the future. It must place national interest over personal interest. It has absolutely nothing to do with any one person’s feelings.
“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”
Trump is trying to embody the country and to lead it astray in the way that Washington warned against. Trump is a slave to his emotions, and this impulse is doing great harm to the nation, both internally and on the world stage.
I’m not sure that damage is irreparable. Our democracy, though fragile in many ways, has proved remarkably durable in others. But there is no doubt that the damage Trump is doing is deep and will take time and effort to undo.
Trump’s personal problems will leave a national scar."

Opinion | Trump’s Paradigm of the Personal

Analysis | The Trump vs. Obama economy — in 15 charts

The Trump vs. Obama economy — in 15 charts

Amid economic indicators signaling a potential recession, White House advisers were bullish discussing the economy on the Aug. 18 Sunday shows. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)
Is a recession coming in 2020 or 2021? Experts continue to debate the conflicting signals, but an equally telling question might be: How does the “Trump economy” compare to Barack Obama’s?
President Trump constantly refers to the economy with descriptors such as “strong,” “terrific” and the “greatest in the history of our country,” but a closer look at the data shows a mixed picture in terms of whether the economy is any better than it was in Obama’s final years. The economy is growing at about the same pace as it did in Obama’s last years, and unemployment, while lower under Trump, has continued a trend that began in 2011.
The best case Trump can make for improvement since he took office is higher wages. The typical American worker’s pay is finally growing more than 3 percent a year, a level not seen since before the Great Recession. Similarly, consumer and business confidence surged after Trump’s election and has remained high, and manufacturing output (and jobs) also saw a noticeable jump in 2018 after Trump’s tax cut, although manufacturing is now struggling. There’s also been a drop in the number of Americans on food stamps.
But in other areas, Trump’s record does not look as rosy. Government debt and thetrade deficit are climbing (while most economists don’t worry about the rising trade deficit, Trump made it a central part of his 2016 election campaign), and business investment is faltering as corporate leaders say they are wary of Trump’s trade war. The number of Americans lacking health insurance is also ticking up slightly.
As for two of Trump’s favorite metrics — stocks and jobs — there is a case to be made that those looked better under Obama, although most economists expected job gains to slow now that the economic recovery is a decade old.
Presidents have only so much control over the economy, but how voters perceive economic conditions and their personal finances can play a key role in how they vote. Lately, Republicans and many wealthy voters rate this economy as the best since the 1990s boom, while Democrats and many lower-income voters are less enthusiastic.
Here’s a look at the Trump economy vs. the Obama economy in 15 charts.
1. Job gains. The U.S. economy typically added more than 250,000 jobs each month in 2014 and 227,000 a month in 2015. Trump has not been able to top that yet, but experts say job growth remains surprisingly robust, especially given how many baby boomers are retiring and how many business owners complain they can’t find any more workers.
(Heather Long)
2. Unemployment rate. The nation’s unemployment rate is at a half-century low, a source of pride for Trump. But many economists have pointed out that the rate has been falling steadily since 2011, making it difficult to see much difference after Trump took office.
(Heather Long)
3. Growth. After a painful 2009, the economy has been growing for a decade. In the early years of the recovery, growth was lackluster, but it started to pick up in 2014 and 2015. Trump told America he could do even better as president, but his record so far looks similar to Obama’s final few years in office. While his tax cut and deregulatory push boosted growth in 2018, that appears to be fading as business owners grow concerned about the trade war.
(Heather Long)
4. Middle-class income. Most Americans saw a noticeable decline in their income during the Great Recession, and it took years for wages to recover. In 2017, a typical middle-class family finally saw their income climb above where it was in 1999. (Data for 2018 will be released in September.) Incomes have been rising steadily in recent years as more Americans get jobs.
(Heather Long)
5. Stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 46 percent at this point in Obama’s presidency vs. 25 percent for Trump. Stocks soared under Obama, and he ended his White House tenure with one of the best gains of any president in modern history. Trump started out with a lot of love from Wall Street as well, especially with his tax cut, but stocks have moved sideways since he began his trade war.
(Heather Long)
6. Food stamps. About 1 out of 7 Americans received food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in 2013 in the aftermath of the Great Recession, as people struggled to find good-paying jobs again. The numbers came down slightly under Obama, and the decline has accelerated under Trump as more Americans have obtained jobs and the requirements to remain on food stamps have tightened.
(Heather Long)
7. Manufacturing. Trump campaigned heavily on reviving blue-collar industries and jobs. While service-sector jobs in health care, technology and hospitality rebounded quickly after the Great Recession, manufacturing did not. Trump’s tax cuts helped boost manufacturing in 2018 (blue-collar job growth hit the fastest pace since the early 1980s), but the president’s tariffs have since taken a toll, sending manufacturing into a “technical recession” in 2019.
(Heather Long)
8. Home prices. The housing market was at the heart of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and many Americans lost their homes or watched the value of their homes plummet. Home prices bounced back at the end of Obama’s term and have continued a steady climb under Trump.
(Heather Long)
9. Gas prices. Americans keep a close eye on gas prices and tend to get nervous when it climbs above $3 a gallon nationally, but for much of Obama’s second term and Trump’s first term, gas prices have remained under that key threshold.
(Heather Long)
10. Federal debt. The national debt swelled under Obama as the federal government spent money trying to rebuild the economy after the Great Recession. At the end of Obama’s term, the annual deficit had declined considerably, but it has since jumped up again under Trump because of his tax cut and increased government spending.
(Heather Long)
11. Wages. For much of Obama’s time in office, wages remained subdued, and his economic team cited lackluster wager gains as the “unfinished business” of his presidency. Under Trump, average hourly pay has climbed and is now growing more than 3 percent a year for the first time in more than a decade. There’s debate about how much credit Trump deserves for this, but his tax cuts and the jump in business optimism probably played a role. Concern is rising, however, that wage growth is stalling in 2019.
(Heather Long)
12. Consumer confidence. Confidence in the economy has jumped since Trump’s election. This is an area where there has been a clear break from Obama, although experts debate how much of a difference it has made. Normally when confidence rises, businesses and consumers spend more, but that hasn’t been the case, especially for businesses. Still, high confidence is probably playing a role in keeping the United States out of a recession, even as other parts of the world falter.
13. Trade deficit. The United States has purchased more from overseas than it has sold abroad for years, a situation known as a trade deficit. The trade deficit declined during the Great Recession but has since expanded, which is typically a sign that the U.S. economy is growing robustly. Trump campaigned on bringing the trade deficit down, but it has grown during his tenure.
(Heather Long)
14. Uninsured Americans. One of Obama’s key policy goals was to get more Americans health insurance. The number of people without health insurance fell noticeably during his tenure after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Progress has since stalled under Trump, who attempted (unsuccessfully) to repeal Obamacare.
(Heather Long)
15. Business investment. Trump and his advisers said the goal of the GOP tax cuts was to encourage businesses to spend and invest more in new equipment and factories, which would then help boost the economy in years to come. While there was a slight bounce in business spending in early 2018, it has since plunged (even turning negative in the spring of 2019), largely because of the trade war.
(Heather Long)

Analysis | The Trump vs. Obama economy — in 15 charts

FACTS DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS! Obama's Economic Record Crushes Tr...

Sunday, August 25, 2019

UK Prime Minister embarrasses Trump at G7 summit. LOL, Boris Johnson of all people embarrasses Trump. He is the foolish English version of Trump. This shows how foolish Trump is viewed in the EU.

Joe Biden inspires no one — not even his own wife | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian

Joe Biden<br>Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Federation of Labor convention, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, in Altoona, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
"Much like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Joe Biden’s Democratic primary campaign has thus far cloaked itself in an aura of inevitability. You might not like Joe Biden. He might say racist or sexist stuff from time to time. His gaffes might be occurring at an alarming rate. He might have uninspiring policy ideas. But he’s going to win the primary anyway, so you better get used to him.
That was the subtext, at least, and an explanation for how banal Biden’s campaign has been so far. If victory is certain, why not hold the ball and milk the clock? Jill Biden, the former vice-president’s wife, made the case bizarrely explicit on MSNBC earlier this week. “Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care, than Joe is,” Biden said, “but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘Okay, I personally like so-and-so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”
To be sure, Joe Biden is leading among Democrats thus far. The RealClearPolitics average has him ahead of Bernie Sanders by around 12 points, and he has the support of major party funders. But less than a third of Democratic voters are planning to vote for Biden, down from more than 40% the week after his 25 April announcement. An Economist/YouGov poll from this week shows the race narrowing to within the margin of error – Biden at 22%, Sanders at 19%, and Elizabeth Warren at 18%.
Biden’s fundraising picture also looks less rosy than it did back in May. He’s still the preferred choice of big party donors, but grassroots enthusiasm is receding. After raising an impressive $4.6m online on this first day of his campaign in April, things have slowed to a trickle. As Politico reports, Biden’s median online daily fundraising by the end of June was just $67,000 a day, considerably below Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.
Sanders is an especially important benchmark for Biden. They seem to be competing over much the same base – working class, diverse, not college educated – and either would benefit from the other’s downfall. Despite a narrative earlier this summer of campaign dysfunction and imminent collapse, recent polls have showed that the Vermont senator in a steady position within striking distance of Biden. Sanders has a rabid base of volunteers, superior online fundraising infrastructure, and his existing support may even be undercounted by most polls.
Yet the media narrative continues to paint Sanders as a fringe pariah and Biden as the inevitable 2020 candidate. It’s reminiscent of the 2016 Republican primaries, in which Donald Trump was considered an unserious candidate whose support was continually underestimated. The serious commentators kept waiting for an establishment wave of moderate Republicans to make first Jed Bush, then Marco Rubio, and then even Ted Cruz happen.
The case for Biden’s invincibility is especially baffling – he’s been running for the Democratic nomination (and losing) since the 1980s. It simply boils down to Obama coalition supporters (particularly black and brown voters) going with the most familiar face to rid of Trump era upheavals.
But electability is just one element of what voters are looking for, and Biden is running on nothing else. He has failed to adequate address his past positions in favor of Medicare and Social Security cuts, his engineering of loathed free trade deals, or his opposition to important desegregation measures.
While other candidates are galvanizing people around Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and calls to redistribute wealth and power from the 1% to working Americans, Biden is offering nothing. Poke one hole in his electability bubble and his campaign looks ready to implode.
This early in the race things are constantly changing – many people are still undecided and won’t start paying attention until much later on – so we would do ourselves a lot of good not to live and die with every poll. However, if there is one lesson from the 2016 general election worth remembering it’s this: most people might have not liked Donald Trump, but he gave those who did a real reason to turn out on Election Day. He was a candidate with very obvious convictions running against someone who seemed to focus group and triangulate her every position.
Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0. Perhaps Trump’s time in office has been enough of a disaster that idea-avoidance will work this time. But if voters want to be inspired, they’ll turn elsewhere or just stay at home again. Who knows, Jill Biden might even join them.
Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine and a Guardian US columnist. He is the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality"
Joe Biden inspires no one — not even his own wife | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian