The Trump Watch (late January 2018)

Wrong Time, Wrong Place

Okay, The Curmudgeon gets it: Agent Orange wants to replay the 2016 campaign on an endless loop and continue to criticize Hillary Clinton, for four reasons: he doesn’t respect Hillary, he doesn’t respect women, he hates that the press respects her, and doing so easily distracts that same press from whatever nonsense he’s most recently spouted.

But there’s a time and a place, and an unscheduled visit to a White House event for women that included more than a dozen female officials in the administration and 200 prominent female guests was neither.

But he showed up and couldn’t resist scratching that itch, as CNN reported:

“Arkansas, great state,” Trump said, after noting a woman attending from the state. “How did I win Arkansas by so much when she came from Arkansas?”

Let it go, dude.

A Strongman’s Tactic

Naturally, Trump wasn’t happy about Michael Wolff’s kiss and tell book about him and his administration, and in the tradition of political strongmen, he lashed out: by repeating a campaign promise and threatening to make it hard for anyone to write anything bad about him:

We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws, so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.

And this:

Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.

The reality, though, is that no libel law will protect him from the truth – and despite all of the bloviating about the book, no one has refuted what it says.

Besides, we already have one really great libel law: we call it the first amendment.

Now THAT’S an American value.

Strongman, Part 2

In the past Trump demanded personal loyalty from the FBI director and fired him when he didn’t get it.

He’s threatened to fire his attorney general for showing insufficient loyalty by recusing himself from an investigation in which he is himself a subject.

He’s criticized the FBI, his deputy attorney general, and the special counsel and had his attempt to order the Justice Department to fire special counsel Robert Mueller thwarted by his own White House counsel. Just last week he forced a reorganization of the FBI director’s top staff and asked a deputy FBI director whom he voted for in the 2016 presidential election.

So where does he believe he gets the authority to do all these things?

I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.

Somewhere in hell, the devil and Richard Nixon are smiling.

“Am I Great or What?”

As you are undoubtedly aware, Kim Jong-Trump held a televised bipartisan “negotiating session” about DACA with congressional leaders a few weeks ago. During that meeting he changed his position on the issue and then said he’d sign whatever bipartisan agreement the participants brought to him. Well, they called his bluff: they brought him a bipartisan agreement to solve the DACA problem.

He rejected it, of course.

But all Trump really wanted to talk about after the meeting was his own performance. He treated it, in fact, like an episode of The Apprentice.

It was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good…It got great reviews by everybody other than two networks, who were phenomenal for about two hours.

Actually, no one reported it as “incredibly good.” Most reported it to be just awful.

But Trump wasn’t done, as the Washington Post reported:

Trump went on to say he had received letters from news anchors calling it “one of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed.”

Just one problem: when asked about those letters, no one in the Trump administration could produce one.

In other words, he just made it up.

“Reinventing” or “Destroying”?

Earlier this month the New York Times published an article titled “For Trump, a Year of Reinventing the Presidency.”

“Reinventing” is not the word The Curmudgeon would use.

As the Times explained,

He has kept a business on the side; attacked the F.B.I., C.I.A. and other institutions he oversees; threatened to use his power against rivals; and waged war against members of his own  party  and even his own cabinet. He fired the man investigating his campaign and has not ruled out firing the one who took over. He has appealed to base instincts on race, religion and gender as no president has in generations. And he has rattled the nuclear saber more bombastically than it has been since the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There’s more.

The presidency has served as a vehicle for Mr. Trump to construct and promote his own narrative, one with crackling verve but riddled with inaccuracies, distortions and outright lies, according to fact checkers. Rather than a force for unity or a calming voice in turbulent times, the presidency now is another weapon in a permanent campaign of divisiveness.


…he has bristled at the restraints imposed on the presidency as few have, lashing out at judges, lawmakers, investigators and journalists who anger him and expressing frustration that he is not supposed to use the F.B.I. as he sees fit. His sense of government is not based on coalition building or a balancing act between equal branches. It is one where he deems what is necessary and the system should fall in line.


He distorted a comment by the Muslim mayor of London to paint him as soft on terrorism. He accused Mr. Obama of tapping Trump Tower, calling him a “Bad (or sick) guy!” — a claim Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department rejected. He said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a white supremacist rally and counterprotest in Charlottesville, Va. He endorsed an accused child molester for Senate.


On three successive days last summer, Mr. Trump made threats to use the power of the government to punish perceived adversaries. He warned that he would eliminate the N.F.L.’s tax break, revoke NBC’s broadcast license and pull recovery workers out of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico after criticism of his efforts.

Well, look at the bright side: only a little more than a thousand days left in this term. What else could possibly go wrong?

Bankers’ Hours

Agent Orange is not exactly a hard worker, we’ve learned lately. As reported by the online publication The Hill,

Trump’s day now starts around 11 a.m., and he is holding far fewer meetings during his workday, Axios reported after viewing copies of Trump’s private schedule.

The first part of Trump’s day is known as “Executive Time.” According to the schedule, it takes place in the Oval Office, but officials told Axios it actually takes place in Trump’s White House residence and consists of Trump watching TV and tweeting.

Trump reportedly arrives in the Oval Office for his intelligence briefing at 11 a.m., his first meeting of the day. He returns to his residence by 6 p.m.


The New York Times reported that Trump spends up to 8 hours a day watching television, which Trump has disputed.

Not True

Kim Jong-Trump recently boasted that the first of 52 “F-52 and F-35” fighter jets has been delivered to Norway.

Just one problem: there’s no such thing as an F-52 fighter jet.

Unless you’re talking about “Call of Duty” video games, which feature F-52 fighter jets.

So maybe Trump is telling the truth when he says he doesn’t watch nearly as much television as his critics maintain. Maybe he’s actually playing video games.

“But some of my best friends are…”

Not True, Part Two

Trump recently tweeted that

Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled.

One small problem: it’s not true.

Shortly after his inauguration, 15 percent of African American voters approved of Trump’s performance in a Gallup poll.

Now? Six percent.

The Curmudgeon didn’t major in math but he’s pretty sure that six isn’t twice as much as 15.


Earlier this month the White House urged Congress to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, a law that permits U.S. law enforcement agencies to conduct foreign surveillance on American soil. When a House member proposed an amendment that would have weakened the law, the White House released a statement expressing the president’s opposition to the amendment.

The president’s closest advisors

But then Trump’s favorite television show, Full House – er, Fox & Friends – called the program “controversial” and linked it to the dossier that suggested that Trump, a lover of gold, enjoyed golden showers, among other things. Trump immediately tweeted his opposition to FISA, noting that it had been used “to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign.”

The bill’s supporters – the congressional Republicans he asked to renew the law – were surprised and appalled.

No matter: just two hours later Agent Orange tweeted “We need it! Get smart!”

Lovely and shapely, yes, but $130,000 worth of lovely and shapely?

Is The Curmudgeon mistaken in finding something wrong with this picture?

The President and the Porn Star

It’s obvious that he did it: just one year into his marriage to Melania and while she was pregnant he had an affair with a porn actress and then paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about it.

A guy who’s so smart about money surely should know that no one needs to spend that much for sex.

Oh Say Can You Sing?

Apparently not.

Agent Orange, who has railed against professional football players who choose not to stand during the national anthem, apparently doesn’t know the words to that very song. That’s right: Mr. Patriotism appears to have no idea what’s happening by the dawn’s early light. See for yourself here.

The Stable Genius

That’s what Agent Orange declared himself to be after observers questioned whether the man in the White House had all of marbles.

He started off gently, in a manner of speaking, tweeting that

Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.

Let us put aside for now that the people expressing concern about Ronald Reagan’t mental health have been proven 100 percent correct and that Reagan was experiencing dementia at a time when he was responsible for the nuclear launch codes.

And then, another tweet:

Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

LIKE really smart, man.

He also tweeted, according to the New York Times, that he was a

VERY successful businessman” and television star who won the presidency on his first try. “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

Is there something special about winning the presidency on the first try that has eluded The Curmudgeon for lo these 60 years? Well, Trump is the 45th president and as far as The Curmudgeon can tell, 39 of his 44 predecessors won it on their first try. The exceptions: Jefferson, Jackson, Nixon, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.

About That Genius

Trump sought to disabuse reporters of the notion that he didn’t even understand the tax bill he signed.

I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest CPA.

Such modesty.

They Like Him, They Really Like Him

Trump on China:

I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China.

In the HISTORY of China!

So Much for Vote Fraud

Remember the vote fraud commission Trump created with so much fanfare because he was sure he had actually won the popular vote and only lost because millions – millions! – of fraudulent votes had been cast?

Well, he abolished the commission.


Because it couldn’t find any proof of his allegations.

Say What?

Speaking of the Mueller investigation, Trump recently said that

It makes the country look very bad.

You didn’t need an investigation to do that, Donnie; you’re taking care of that all by yourself.

Well, Maybe Not

Remember during the campaign when Trump declared that

Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.

He certainly displayed those fixing skills during the recent budget and DACA negotiations, didn’t he?

Grab Them by the P—-

Remember when Agent Orange apologized for that nonsense?

Now he’s suggesting that the voice we heard on the Access Hollywood tape isn’t his.

Which of course is ludicrous, yet you know – you absolutely KNOW – that some of his supporters are going to believe that nonsense.

More proof that you really can fool some of the people at least some of the time.

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news: Trump announced that “I think I know the answer” to America’s opioid crisis.

The bad news: he won’t tell us that answer.

Seriously: he says we’re not ready for it yet.

Trumpian Logic

From the New York Times.

Mr. Trump said he believes members of the news media will eventually cover him more favorably because they are profiting from the interest in his presidency and thus will want him re-elected.

“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes,” Mr. Trump said, then invoked one of his preferred insults. “Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times.”

He added: “So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”

 The self-love is an endless love.

 Just a Thought

Is it possible that Trump is the way he is because he learned everything he thinks he knows about being president from House of Cards?

A Little Perspective

Let us give the final word in this installment to Sean Wilentz, a Princeton history professor who recently compared Trump to five men – Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding, and George W. Bush – widely considered to be the worst of this country’s forty-five presidents.

…he is the first president to fail to defend the nation from an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power — and to resist the investigation of that attack. He is the first to enrich his private interests, and those of his family, directly and openly.

He is the first president to denounce the press not simply as unfair but as “the enemy of the American people.” He is the first to threaten his defeated political opponent with imprisonment. He is the first to have denigrated friendly countries and allies as well as a whole continent with racist vulgarities.


















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