Dean Baker: Donald Trump is a malevolent version of Mr. Magoo. For all his offensive comments and mean-spirited policies, it's obvious that most of the time he has no clue about what is going on. Trump's Magoo-like behavior carries over to his claims about the economy. By almost every measure, we are merely seeing the continuation of trends from the Obama years. In spite of Trump's get-tough rhetoric on trade, the trade deficit actually rose by $50 billion in 2017 to $571 billion. It now stands at just under 3.0% of GDP. Nonetheless, the economy is looking pretty good, at least by the standards of the last forty-five years. With the exception of the year 2000, the unemployment rate has not been this low since the early 1970s. Donald Trump will undoubtedly continue to boast about his great economy. He is right about the economy looking comparatively good, but the credit belongs to Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen and President Obama, not to Mr. Magoo in the White House. read more
The Insane Clown President's idiotic and offensive conduct has been so bad that one wonders how he has managed to hold a base of between 33-39%. Here's why: 1. Trump's virulent white nationalism resonates with a significant part of the white populace. 2. A significant part of the white electorate is every bit as ignorant, stupid, unreflective, selfish, vile, and anti-intellectual as the president. 3. Trump symbolizes many Americans' disgust with and disrespect for the professional-class and its meritocratic ideology. 4. Fox News, right-wing talk radio, Breitbart and other media outlets have become an inbred right-wing universe that guides millions of white Americans through life with false political information. 5. Trump benefits from the underlying, ever-sharpening partisan schism between the Republican and Democratic parties over the last three decades. 6. The Democrat Party is steeped in cronyism, just like the Republicans. read more
Nunes is the man behind a secret Republican memo that suggests the F.B.I. and the Justice Department abused their authority to obtain a warrant to spy on a former campaign adviser to President Trump, (lying to obtain a FISA warrant). Nunes is using his position as Chairman of the Intelligence committee to obstruct its investigation by among other things to refuse to issue subpoenas to people of interest in the FBI and Justice Department, based on the argument that they are currently under investigation (by him). The Nunes Memo was created by the White House and later altered. Defense of Trump is based on a broad campaign to discredit the FBI and Department of Justice. read more
US foreign policy in the Middle East is not just adrift, it is in a state of crisis. As Turkish tanks and warplanes pound the Kurds a US ally, powerbrokers in the White House and the Pentagon are unable to settle on a path forward. Attempts to placate their NATO ally, Turkey, while trying to assuage the fears of their mostly Kurdish proxy-army (Syrian Democratic Forces) has underscored the dismal absence of a coherent policy that will address the rapidly-changing battle space and also deal with the prospect that Turkey might seek strategic objectives that are directly at odds with Washington. The present disaster that is unfolding in Syria's northwest corner could have been avoided had the Trump administration abstained from announcing that it planned a permanent military presence in east Syria, which implied its tacit support for an independent Kurdish state. This was the trigger for the current crisis, the provocation that set the dominoes in motion. read more
The FBI's No. 2 official, who has for months been under fire from President Donald Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill, is resigning. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who served as the acting director of the bureau last year after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, is stepping down, NBC's Pete Williams first reported.