Editor’s Blog

Did Trump Self-Report His Height?

Longtime TPM Reader BW has an interesting hypothesis about the chatter surrounding President Trump’s medical exam results. Read More

Like a Perfect SAT Score

From Reuters … Trump’s pumped he scored so high on a cognitive decline diagnostic test …

He blamed his three immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for failing to resolve the crisis and, a day after his doctor gave him a perfect score on a cognitive test, suggested he had the mental acuity to solve it.

“I guess they all realized they were going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he said.

This was first flagged by Daniel Dale.

Off To A Great Start!

Tierney Sneed offers this reporter’s notebook (Prime access) on the innumerable ways Paul Manafort’s attorney has already gotten crosswise with the federal judge in the case.

Give This a Read

Definitely give this piece by Alice Ollstein a read. It’s not what the article is mainly about. But it’s another example of a key reality everyone should understand by now. John Kelly is really what amounts to Total Quality Trumpism, the same politics, in all its dimensions just with better impulse control and organizational discipline. He’s not some career professional doing the best he can to keep Trump normal. He’s all in. Definitely read this piece.

Hmmm

Steven Bannon’s attorney was relaying questions to the White House during his House intelligence committee interview. The White House repeatedly said not to answer questions.

Can Social Networks Do Better? We Don’t Know Because They Haven’t Tried

In the on-going tragedy of the expulsion and massacre of the Rohingya from Myanmar there’s a small part of the story which overlaps with our domestic discussion of the way social media platforms have been used to sow propaganda, hate speech, fake news and even become the tools of foreign intelligence organizations. It turns out that Facebook has been one of the primary channels for organizing the expulsion and the incitement of religious/ethnic hatred and vigilanteism which is a key part of it.

Much of the central role of Facebook, apparently, is tied to the fact that much of Myanmar until very recently had little modern media infrastructure. Then cell phones grew rapidly. So Facebook is a key way many people get their news. It’s a singular or near singular source of news to a far greater degree than in the developed world or many other parts of the developing world. Read More

Wisconsin Dems Flip GOP Held State Senate Seat

In an upset victory, Democrats flipped a reliably Republican state senate seat in Wisconsin tonight. Barack Obama lost Wisconsin’s 10th senate district by 6 points in 2012 and Hillary Clinton lost it by 17 in 2016. But Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow. Late returns showed Schachtner ahead by roughly 1600 votes out of more than 20,000 cast. Read More

Meet the New Class of Extradition Migrants

Few stories I’ve read recently better capture the Trump administration’s mix of mendacity and ridiculousness. The Department of Justice prepared a report seeking to show that a huge percentage of terrorist crimes in the US are committed by immigrants. They did this by defining people extradited to the US to face terrorism charges for crimes committed overseas as “immigrants”. Here’s the story.

Worse Than We Thought

We’ve been focused for several days on the President’s “shithole countries” remark, as we should be. But that only seems like one part of the story of that meeting, in some ways, not the most consequential or significant, inasmuch as it’s really not a surprise that President Trump thinks or speaks this way. A big story in The Washington Post and other information that has come out over the course of the day puts the whole meeting in a different light. Read More

Lies, Bad Lies and Trump Lies
Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., right, look on as President Donald Trump speaks during the unveiling of legislation that would place new limits on legal immigration, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

One of the most striking things about the last several days after the President’s “shithole” outburst is that two of the Senators in the room have now willingly and repeatedly lied on the President’s behalf to serve his narrow interests. Of course, politicians lie. Even the good ones will shade the truth and fail to speak up to clarify public confusion. But this is an extreme and almost unique case. Read More

Thoughts on Dr. King’s Day

A few more miscellaneous thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. on this day of remembrance.

One: King was a troublemaker. In many ways, he became more of a troublemaker as he progressed through his life. In key ways, in the final years and especially the final year of his life, he was being abandoned by key supporters and sidelined because he was focusing not solely on race (on which the country was then beginning to build at least a notional elite consensus) but on poverty and democratic socialism and the Vietnam War, issues that divided many of his supporters. It is always important to remember that King died in Memphis because he was there to support a strike not an integration march, though racial discrimination and labor rights were and are impossible to separate. Read More

“King, There Is Only One Thing Left For You To Do.”

The fact that the FBI sent Martin Luther King a letter demanding he kill himself or risk the release of recordings of his extra-marital assignations has been known for decades. But the complete and uncensored version of the letter only came to light three years ago. You can see it here. Yale historian Beverly Gage happened on the original version of the letter during research at the National Archives.

There is a lot contained in this letter. To put it mildly. Read More

False Alarm Terrifies and Terrorizes Hawaii

We still have no clear explanation, certainly no good explanation, other than that it was a false alarm. But just after 8 AM this morning in Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on television and mobile devices warning of an incoming missile attack on the state. It was explicitly alerted as “not a drill.” Again, it was a false alarm.  Read More

Trump’s Tirade is a Return of the Repressed in American Politics

I am of Trump’s generation, and I grew up with the sentiments that he expressed about Haiti and African countries. When I was a kid, one of the hit songs in 1948 was the Andrew Sisters’ “Civilization.” You can click here to listen to it. Here’s a stanza:

So bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no no
Bingo, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle, I refuse to go
Don’t want no jailhouse, shotgun, fish-hooks, golf clubs, I got my spears
So, no matter how they coax him, I’ll stay right here.

So to many people of, say, sixty years or over, what Trump said resonated. It was all very familiar. So what? you might ask.

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A Lot of Must Watch Video These Days

This is what Martin Luther King, Jr’s nephew said about President Trump after appearing with him at a White House even honoring Dr. King.

“I don’t think he’s a racist in the traditional sense.”

Thoughts on Shithole and Racist Xenophobia At the Heart of Trumpism
on January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Let me take a moment to speak up for the word “shithole” which is seeing its reputation damaged by association with Donald Trump. We went to this dive bar. It was a total shithole. That town? Total shithole, never want to go there again. It’s a dump. Closer to President Trump’s ugly usage, Trump wouldn’t be the only American to call a poor or underdeveloped country a shithole. That’s not okay. But my point here is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the word – nothing more than any other not for polite conversation swear word. And even this ugly usage doesn’t capture the essence of Trump’s meaning.  The context and import of President Trump’s remarks are not simply that the countries are “shitholes.” It’s much more than that. It’s that we don’t want people from those countries because the awfulness of the countries attaches to the people themselves. Speaking of whole classes of people, specifically people of color, as basically garbage – is not only disgusting but entirely of a piece with the campaign President Trump ran in 2016 and the policies he is implementing as President today. Read More

How Often Does This Happen?

Here’s one thing that occurs to me. When I first heard about the “shithole” meeting at the White House I thought it was a bipartisan meeting. Technically it was. But my understanding now is that there was only one Democrat there: Dick Durbin (D-IL). He went there with Lindsey Graham. But there were a handful of other Republican senators already there. Would we have ever heard about this if a Democrat hadn’t been in the room?

Our Calendar for Jan. 12, 2018

Good morning and happy Friday. Both the House and Senate will meet only briefly today for pro-forma sessions. Here’s what’s on TPM editors’ radar today. 

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This Is Must Watch

Please take a moment to watch this video. It’s remarkable and important. The words themselves are not terribly surprising. They’re really undeniable. But reporters on network or cable network TV simply do not talk this way. They don’t cut this close to the reality of situation.

It’s CNN’s Jim Acosta. The video is after the jump. Watch. It’s important and remarkable. Read More

I Am The State

According to the President, federal law enforcement officers criticizing him on government phone and text devices amounts to ‘treason’. Read More

Fox News Tricks President Into Opposing His Own Bill

This morning the President got confused by a Fox news segment and lashed out at his own FISA reauthorization bill on Twitter.

Here’s a White House statement from last night, opposing an amendment that would restrict intelligence surveillance under FISA. Read More

Interesting Times in Missouri

As you can see there’s quite a lot going on in Missouri politics this morning. Here’s our first report on the story from overnight. We’re following this one closely. More to come.

Our Calendar for Jan. 11, 2017

Good morning. Here’s what’s on TPM’s editors’ radar today.

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Missouri Gov In Lots of Hot Water

It sounds like Missouri may end up with a new Governor.

Goodbye, Darrell Issa

With Rep. Darrell Issa, a prolific investigator of the Obama administration, on his way out the door, we take a look back at a few of his greatest hits (Prime access).

Must Read Story, Critical Issue

This is a must-read story on a critical topic we plan on following for the duration. The big line separating rule-of-law democracies from broken democracies and post-democratic strong man government is law enforcement becoming a weapon in the hands of the government rather than a more or less disinterested government function the government oversees. President Trump has repeatedly demanded the former kind of system. Now we have evidence he’s starting to get it. Here’s our story.

Have you heard about things that aren’t public yet? Do you have a story? We want to know. Contact us.

Trump Rages; Grassley Responds

Interesting exchange here. President Trump just went on Twitter and demanded Republicans “take control” of the Hill Russia investigations. For the moment, Chuck Grassley isn’t playing ball. If past is prologue, I wouldn’t assume Grassley’s resistance lasts long. Read More

Bob Dylan and The Cross

You don’t know it. But Bob Dylan’s “Christian period” albums are his most underrated and among his best. In case you missed it, here’s my look at and review of the new retrospective release (Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981) from this period.

Our Calendar for Jan. 10, 2018

Good morning. Here’s our daily calendar letting you know what TPM is up to. Congress is in session today and legislators will be holding a number of meetings with the press on the Hill. Here’s what else our editors have their eyes on.

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The Only News Out of The Simpson Testimony is Republican Disgrace

Over the course of the day I’ve been listening to news reports which say that the Fusion GPS testimony from co-owner Glenn Simpson belies the received narrative about the Steele dossier, or at least that argued by Republicans and Trump supporters. As Jake Tapper put it when speaking with CNN’s Jim Acosta today, Simpson’s account “contradicts president Trump and his supporters who argue that the dossier was a purely political document paid for by Democrats trying to hurt Trump.” Really though this is a testament to the power of disinformation when it is empowered by one of the country’s two political parties. Let’s put this more simply: this is a testament to what can happen when the GOP unites behind a campaign of willful disinformation at the country’s expense. Read More

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