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Oh That Totally Makes Sense

This statement, which was released by Press Secretary Sean Spicer just before 6:30 this evening, is a masterful evocation of a first glancing blow with reality (emphasis for purposes of humor) ...

“The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”

It's a lesson even bad people need to learn. Never trust Donald Trump.

President Trump met briefly today with King Abdullah of Jordan.

Yeah, There's an App for That

In all of Trump's bullying of US corporations, threats of erecting 35% tariffs on goods either from various countries or on specific US corporations, one thing that strikes me is this: In many ways, this is just industrial policy, only done in the stupidest possible way. And yet, the concept of industrial policy has basically been verboten in US political discourse for 25 years. It was briefly a big thing at the beginning of the Clinton administration. But it didn't survive first contact with Washington, DC. And it was written off entirely after Republicans took over Congress in 1995.

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Bombshell Lands in the Antipodes

I've heard from various observers in Australia in response to the now widely-reported rage bender call - some from readers outside of politics, others deeply ensconced in the political establishment. The one word I hear over and over is "bombshell." This is just today's freakshow here in the United States. It's quite a bit more down there. Here's one analysis of the background that I found edifying ...

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Pentagon Points Finger of Blame at Trump

It now seems clear the special ops raid in Yemen did not go according to plan and it went badly. This Times account relates a "a chain of mishaps and misjudgments that plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three others wounded and a $75 million aircraft deliberately destroyed." Chief Petty Officer William Owens was killed in the operation. There also appear to have been a large number of civilian casualties.

Obviously, not every military operation is successful. But there is an extraordinary passage in this article just out from Reuters. What Reuters identifies as "U.S. military officials" says that "[President] Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations."

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Cleaning Up the Mess

Not long after The Washington Post published its blockbuster story about President Trump's tirade at the Australian Prime Minister, the State Department went into damage control mode.

Going Downhill Fast, Folks

This evening we learned that President Trump went on a rage bender in a call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, berated the PM, boasted repeatedly about the scale of his electoral win and hung up on Turnbull abruptly 25 minutes into what was scheduled to be an hour long conversation. In a similarly hostile call, Trump threatened to invade Mexico and have US military personnel secure the country if Mexico's military was afraid to do so.

Inside the Trump-CNN Phony War

Donald Trump's 'war' with CNN has been the most consistent media-bashing theme from him for the last 18 months. But it is as phony as they come. CNN has quite simply been more compliant with Trump than any other news organization. This isn't a knock at the journalists. Some of them recently have been quite good. And I wouldn't say, in general, that they've been worse than their cable news colleagues. But from the business and programming side they've been the most accommodating. Think about it. What other network has a permanent list of pro-Trump pundits on payroll?

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