Tuesday Reads

Girl reading on a rainy day, Dominique Amendola

Girl reading on a rainy day, Dominique Amendola

Good Morning!!

Sorry I’m so late this morning. I have no excuse other than my mental block against reading about the tRump horror show. Every day I wake up expecting to find that this narcissistic, unstable man has blown something up. One interesting thing is that the White House is leaking like a sieve every time tRump has one of his tantrums. The Washington Post got some doozies yesterday.

The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot.

President Trump had just returned to the White House on Saturday from his final inauguration event, a tranquil interfaith prayer service, when the flashes of anger began to build.

Trump turned on the television to see a jarring juxtaposition — massive demonstrations around the globe protesting his day-old presidency and footage of the sparser crowd at his inauguration, with large patches of white empty space on the Mall….Trump grew increasingly and visibly enraged.

Pundits were dissing his turnout. The National Park Service had retweeted a photo unfavorably comparing the size of his inauguration crowd with the one that attended Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony in 2009. A journalist had misreported that Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. And celebrities at the protests were denouncing the new commander in chief — Madonna even referenced “blowing up the White House.”

A Student of Art History, Ivanov Sakachev

A Student of Art History, Ivanov Sakachev

So he sent Sean Spicer out to claim that his inauguration was the most attended and watched in American history–an easily refuted lie.

Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media’s failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.

On Monday, Spicer returned to the lectern, crisply dressed and appearing more comfortable as he parried questions from the press corps.

“There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has,” he told reporters. “And I think that it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win.”

Be sure to read the whole thing. It’s hilarious. The whining from tRump and his people is getting really old. I hope these folks will get their act together pretty soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

The New York Times finally worked up the courage to call a tRump statement a lie in a headline last night: Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers.

President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.

The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power….

As part of that conversation, Mr. Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton. That is similar to a Twitter message he posted in late November that said he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Voting officials across the country have said there is virtually no evidence of people voting illegally, and certainly not millions of them.

One thing we can be sure of: tRump will never get enough affirmation to satisfy his narcissistic needs. He is so psychologically damaged that he very likely can’t find enjoyment in anything other than finding ways to hurt other people–and now he’s in a position to hurt millions of people around the world.

Girl Reading, Coles Phillips

Girl Reading, Coles Phillips

It seems clear that tRump is a control freak, and here’s a creepy story at politico that demonstrates it: Trump assembles a shadow Cabinet.

The White House is installing senior aides atop major federal agencies to shadow the administration’s Cabinet secretaries, creating a direct line with loyalists who can monitor and shape White House goals across the federal bureaucracy.

The aides chosen by the White House — given the title of senior adviser in each agency — have already been responsible for hiring at some departments and crafting the blueprint of Trump policy before the Cabinet members win Senate confirmation to take office. They have worked with congressional aides, lobbyists and others seeking influence in the new administration.

The arrangement, described by four people involved in the transition planning, appears designed to help the White House maintain control over its priorities despite pledging to give Cabinet secretaries unusual autonomy. Having senior advisers reporting to both the agency chiefs and the White House could spur early tensions and create conflicts with that pledge of autonomy.

This morning tRump signed executive orders to resume building the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, along with five other orders related to the environment. NBC reports:

Trump signed a total of five orders regarding environmental issues in the Oval Office, including a pair addressing the pipeline projects as well as actions to expedite environmental reviews for high priority projects.

“The regulatory process in this country has become a tangled up mess,” Trump said.

Trump added that his actions on the Keystone and Dakota Access projects would be subject to terms and conditions being negotiated by the United States.

He also told reporters gathered in the Oval Office that if a pipeline is built in the United States, the pipe material should also be built domestically.

The decision has angered environmental advocates who say that the projects would have severe negative impacts on the areas where they are built and would encourage more reliance on fossil fuels. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its allies have vigorously protested the Dakota Access project, saying it would damage cultural sites.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II told NBC News that the tribe would take immediate legal action to fight the executive order.

“The Trump administration’s politically motivated decision violates the law and the Tribe will take legal action to fight it,” said Archambault. “We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”

Greenpeace also announced that it would continue to fight the pipeline projects.

Woman Reading, Wil Barnet

Woman Reading, Wil Barnet

A couple of recommended long reads you should check out:

Michio Kakutani at Vanity Fair: Donald Trump’s Chilling Language and the Fearsome Power of Words.

The New Yorker: Philip Roth Emails on Trump (Roth wrote the alternate history novel The Plot Against America).

Please read them both if you have the time to spare.

I’ll wrap this up with some gossipy stories, because I just can’t write anymore about tRump’s “American catastrophe.”

Grayden Carter at Vanity Fair:

Trump’s messy birdcage of a mind careens from one random thought to the next. He likes to strut and talk big-league. One of his ongoing observations—in tweets and elsewhere—is that “many people” have been calling him “the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter!” These are presumably people who have never read one of Hemingway’s books. In manner and execution, and in his almost touching desire to be liked, Trump comes across not as larger than life but as one of the smaller people on the world stage. He always had a sort of oafish charisma: as we used to say at Spy, a hustler on his best behavior. In small groups, as many can attest, he has mastered the salesman’s trick of creating faux sincerity and intimacy when answering a question by including the first name of the person who asked it. But no amount of grifter charm can conceal his alarming disregard for facts and truth. It’s this combination of utter ignorance and complete certitude that his detractors find most terrifying. Trump not only doesn’t know the unknowns but appears to have no interest in even knowing the knowns. Fact-checkers can’t keep up. How often does Obama play golf? Who cares—let’s inflate the number by 50 percent. What’s the murder rate in a major American city? What the hell—let’s multiply it by 10. The writer Michael O’Donoghue used to say that the definition of insanity is the length of time it takes for a lie to be uncovered. The shorter the period, the crazier you are. By this standard, our president will be setting a new threshold for that definition.

In temperament, we now have an unbridled man-boy in the highest office in the land, one who will lash out at the most reasoned criticism. The brusque childishness of his response to Meryl Streep’s measured comments at the Golden Globes—about Trump’s mocking gestures in reference to disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski—was enough to be worried about. Then he hurled insults at Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a living icon of the civil-rights movement. Really? John Lewis? If he feels that he can so blithely attack two of the most respected people in the country, who is off limits? Trump was always a bad loser. But in the weeks since his disputed victory in the election we’ve discovered that this preening narcissist is also a very bad winner.

Read the rest at Vanity Fair.

Bridget Reading, Peter Samuelson

Bridget Reading, Peter Samuelson

Jezabel: Melania Hates Donald: A Theory, by Gabrielle Bluestone.

Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, are now our president and first lady. But for how long?

Donald Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Ronald Reagan, an actor-turned-president who governed our country even in the face of his rumored deteriorating mental state. He even borrowed, and then copyrighted, Reagan’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

But there’s more—until Trump, Reagan was the only divorcée to ascend to the presidency. But Trump has never been content to merely follow in someone’s footsteps. Could he be the first president to actually get divorced while in the White House?

Either way, the Trumps certainly don’t mind spending time away from each other. In fact, Melania won’t be joining him in the White House until at least the summer, when Baron’s school term and her most convenient excuse for remaining in New York both expire. What will happen then? Only time—and their body language—will tell.

Click on the link to watch the telltale videos and read the commentary.

The New York Daily News: Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway allegedly punched a man in the face at President Trump’s inaugural ball.

Top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway allegedly punched a tuxedo-clad man at an exclusive inauguration ball just hours after the new commander-in-chief was sworn in, according to a witness.

Conway, who serves as President Trump’s senior counselor, apparently stepped between two men after they got into a scuffle at the invite-only Liberty Ball on Friday evening, an attendee told the Daily News.

But the two men wouldn’t break up the fight and Conway apparently punched one of them in the face with closed fists at least three times, according to the stunned onlooker.

More details at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a nice Tuesday.