The Unmonitored President

By John McWhorter

“I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’tbe Russia. Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in. And I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”

In this post-Helsinki feint in defense of his endorsing Vladimir Putin’s denial about meddling in our election over the ironclad findings of the FBI, President Trump’s hallmark traits were on display in rather awesome consistency. The mendacity was as serene, the ignorance as infinite, and the sensitivity to protocol as numb as always—and all complemented by the now familiar clubfooted approach to language. “Sort of” a double negative: Why the sloppy hedge on something so urgent, except as a giveaway that he knew he was lying? “Clarifies things pretty good”: That “good” is solid, backyard-barbecue colloquial, but mightn’t we use the form that goes with wearing a tie and speaking to the world, “well”?

And so it had gone in the runup to this whole catastrophe. His estimation of NATO: “I believe NATO’s a very important—probably the greatest ever done.” But, a very important what? Greatest what? And whatever unspecified kind of institution had slipped off of his mental parsing tree, just what makes NATO apparently the most estimable example in …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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ICE Is the Ugly Face of Big-Government Populism

By Conor Friedersdorf

House Republicans passed a resolution Wednesday that lauded as “brave” and “heroic” the federal workers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the bureaucracy that identifies, arrests, immiserates, imprisons, and deports unlawful immigrants (though not the one that stands guard at the border to stop unlawful entries).

Two hundred and forty-four GOP representatives voted in favor.

They want to be seen as standing up for law and order while portraying Democrats who are critical of ICE as favoring “open borders.”

The non-binding, symbolic resolution is of a piece with the GOP’s treatment of the agency as a political opportunity more than an arm of the federal government that is prone to abuses—not because its personnel are uniquely deplorable, but because it aggressively intrudes into relatively powerless communities, mostly deals with people who lack money for quality legal aid, and is under no obligation to provide those it arrests with attorneys in the vast majority of cases as they concern civil rather than criminal infractions.

Consider the GOP’s posture toward ICE in relative terms.

Cast your memory back to the Obama administration. Imagine that House Democrats in those years had passed a resolution lauding ATF  personnel shortly after the revelation of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Trump’s Troubling Helsinki Remarks: Bizarre—and Historic?

By Todd S. Purdum

Whether Donald Trump is president for four years or eight, whatever history’s ultimate judgment of him, and however he tries to explain it away, his remarks in Helsinki absolving Vladimir Putin of interference in the 2016 election will stand as the most surreal moment in 70 years of Russian-American relations, an ineradicable blot on the ledger of his presidency and maybe—just maybe—the most bizarre and troubling utterance by any chief executive in American history.

It is almost beside the point whether Trump’s defense of Putin will have lasting impact on his political fortunes—any more than the Access Hollywood tape, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his equivalence of white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville, or his forced separation of parents and children at the Mexico border seriously damaged his standing with the voters and Republican officials whose loyalty seems unswerving.

Each of those events was greeted to one degree or another as the end of the road, only to wind up as speed bumps. Trump’s comments on Russia are qualitatively and quantitatively different, and in the white-hot speed of the digital age are already guaranteed a permanent place in the history books. No less a self-styled student of the past than …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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The Fourteenth Amendment Can’t Be Revoked by Executive Order

By Garrett Epps Three weeks after he was elected president, Donald Trump tweeted, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Donald Trump thinks about citizenship—and about taking it away—a lot. His entry into Republican politics was […]

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: RSVPutin

By Elaine Godfrey Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey), Maddie Carlisle (@maddiecarlisle2), and Olivia Paschal (@oliviacpaschal) Today in 5 Lines The White House said that President Trump “disagrees” with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to interrogate 11 Americans, in exchange for allowing the U.S. to question the 12 Russians indicted last week. Trump first called the […]

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A New Talking Point From the Pro-Trump Fringe

By McKay Coppins Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET On Wednesday morning, in the midst of yet another contentious news cycle dominated by coverage of Russian election meddling, I tweeted a kind of thought experiment: “If Trump & co. just pivoted to ‘Aren’t you glad Russia helped us defeat Hillary Clinton?’ would there be any serious […]

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Trump’s Missing A-Game

By Dick Polman It’s often hard to parse a historic marker, to pluck one from the velocity of events, but Helsinki may truly be the extraordinary moment when Donald Trump’s worst traits were so blatantly self-exposed that even some of his own partisans, in Congress and the conservative media, were compelled to confront the truth. […]

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Jeff Flake Hints at the T-Word

By Russell Berman Eighteen months into Donald Trump’s tumultuous tenure in the White House, and days into a ferocious public backlash against Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Jeff Flake stands alone among the president’s Republican critics in the Senate. Bob Corker, who once likened Trump’s White House to an “adult day-care center,” vacillates […]

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Trump Can Never Go Too Far for Republicans

By David A. Graham Give Donald Trump and his team this much: They didn’t have a lot to work with. Facing an uproar even among allies, the president on Tuesday sought to reverse the controversial comments he’d made alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. Speaking before a meeting with members of Congress, Trump said […]

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Can Trump’s Republican Critics Find Strength in Numbers?

By Ronald Brownstein Even after Hurricane Helsinki, Donald Trump’s Republican critics still find themselves shouting into the wind. While more Republicans than usual criticized Trump’s dizzying news conference with Vladimir Putin earlier this week, the possibility of a sustained backlash inside the party is already dwindling. It’s splintering against the same rocks that quickly ended […]

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: ‘No’ Problem

By Elaine Godfrey Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey), Maddie Carlisle (@maddiecarlisle2), and Olivia Paschal (@oliviacpaschal) Today in 5 Lines When asked by a reporter on Wednesday whether Russia was still targeting the U.S., President Trump answered, “no.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later clarified Trump’s response, saying the “no” was in reference to […]

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