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Article posted April 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM

By (David Waldman)

Friday! It’s a wrap on another week of The Presidential Apprentice, and it’s looking like it ends with yet another failure on the “repeal & replace” front, as Trumpcare 3.0 appears headed back to the sidelines for now.

Let’s catch up on the other bits and pieces of this collage of insanity as we wrap up the “First 100 Days,” despite The Donald’s middling efforts to kill the concept. No stamina. Low energy!

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Greg Dworkin, M.D., advocate, activist, and budding foley artist, aspires to be a Senate procedural expert. If you do too, today’s KITM is a great place to start! David Waldman leads today’s “Understanding the Tax Reform Process” seminar touching on the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, which contains the Byrd Rule, which brings a sunset provision to when the reconciliation process can and cannot be used, which is all very interesting for those interested in playing by the rules. Donald Trump has no particular intention to follow or not follow rules. He’ll do what we make him do, eventually, or just change the rules. Greg rounds up the stories of us Trump wranglers. Then there are the Trump supporters, ruining America for all of us. You can damage your brain reading what they say they believe, or just cut to the chase with Armando. Honestly, some of them are idiots. Lucky for us Democrats are all smart and unified. The Trump Tax Plan is so well crafted, it can fit on a single sheet of toilet paper. Is Ivanka really, officially setting up a bribery fund, or not quite officially? Is Donald really breaking up the 9th circuit court, or in his dreams? Is he bored with blowing up North Korea? Is he terminating NAFTA, or maybe not? Is this an f***ing game? Wait—is the Troll Administration‘s 4 Chan staffers maybe pulling our leg for… the LULZ? The entire Senate sits on a whoopee cushion. Justice John Roberts has no sense of humor. Physicians show interest in the health of their patients. Jesse Watters takes some time off to be with his family, if they haven’t already left him for a better microphone.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.


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Abbreviated pundit roundup: 100 days of chaos and failure

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 11:36 AM

By (Georgia Logothetis)

With headlines like these, you have to wonder if Donald Trump is tired of “winning” yet…first up, The Washington Post:

Mr. Trump has reversed a generation-old trend toward openness, becoming the first president in modern times to conceal his tax returns and scrapping an Obama-era policy of publishing a list of White House visitors. He and his spokesmen frequently ignore facts and embrace misinformation. If he gets his way on policy, the nation will plunge more deeply into debt, global warming will accelerate and millions of vulnerable Americans will lose access to health care while the wealthy are further enriched.

But some of these policies are meeting resistance. When the nonpartisan CBO estimated that 24 million Americans would lose health coverage under Mr. Trump’s plan, even Republicans in Congress balked. Opposition bloomed at town hall meetings across the country. There have been women’s marches and scientists’ marches — and some politicians have listened. Federal judges have slowed Mr. Trump’s efforts to go after immigrants and immigration, efforts that at least in their early versions were closer to demonization than serious policy. Meanwhile, voters in Europe, perhaps sobered by what they see in the United States, have been choosing centrist internationalism and rejecting the kind of ethno-nationalist politics that animated the most dangerous of Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Peter Dreier at The Nation:

The president shouldn’t be so defensive. He has indeed accomplished a lot in the 100 days since his inauguration. Here is just a partial list of all that Trump has already achieved:

1. Revitalized Alec Baldwin’s otherwise fading career and expanded Melissa McCarthy’s visibility due to their respective impersonations of Trump and press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live.

2. Galvanized a massive resistance movement that included what was likely the largest protest (as many as 5 million people) in American history—the January 21 women’s marches and rallies in over 600 cities. […]

10. Set a record for the number (15!) of high-level appointees who withdrew (such as Andrew Puzder, his pick for labor secretary), quit (such as deputy White House chief of staff Katie Walsh), or were quickly fired (such as national-security adviser Michael Flynn) within a few weeks or months as a result of conflicts of interest, lousy vetting, ethics violations, negative media stories, and/or their inability to handle the White House’s chaos.


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From Fox News to ‘Breitbart’: Liars, Harassers, and Far-Right Bottom-Feeders

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 11:30 AM

By Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

I’ve argued for years that treating Fox as legitimate was a terrible mistake. The rise of Breitbart shows I should have been even more cynical.


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Friday’s Morning Email: Trump: ‘I Thought It Would Be Easier’

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 11:17 AM

By Lauren Weber


(And want to get The Morning Email each weekday? Sign up here.)

DONALD TRUMP IN INTERVIEW WITH REUTERS: ‘I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE EASIER’ “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.”

GOP DOESN’T HAVE THE HEALTHCARE VOTES To take a vote on the health law repeal. And take a look at the HuffPost whip count of where members stand. [NYT]

TRUMP: ‘MAJOR, MAJOR’ CONFLICT WITH NORTH KOREA POSSIBLE But the president said in an interview with Reuters that hehoped there was a diplomatic answer. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that the administration would negotiate directly with North Korea over ending its nuclear program.

SEAN SPICER: THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RENEWED MICHAEL FLYNN’S CLEARANCE Yes, forget the part about making him head of the National Security Council. The Pentagon has opened an investigation into Flynn’s failure to disclose payments from foreign governments.

ARKANSAS EXECUTED FOURTH INMATE IN A WEEK The other four inmates who were set for lethal injection have received stays of execution.

‘THE ART OF THE RETREAT’ “Trump went from accusing the Chinese of manipulating their currency to agreeing that they didn’t. He has not made any visible progress in forcing Mexico to pay for a border wall. He was talked out of abandoning the North American Free Trade Agreement by the leaders of Mexico and Canada. And he was unable to bully Democrats into working with him to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

JESSE WATTERS TAKES VACATION AFTER IVANKA TRUMP COMMENT A week into being promoted to head host of “The Five,” Watters made what appeared to be a lewd joke about Ivanka Trump. Hetook a vacation following the firestorm, in the latest wave of bad press for Fox News.

UNITED SETTLES WITH PASSENGER DRAGGED OFF PLANE For an undisclosed amount. And here’s why airlines will still keep overbooking despite the infamous incident.


HAVE AN AMAZON ECHO? You can now ask Alexa to listen to The Morning Email! Start your day with a quick update on the latest news by enabling our skill here.

MICHELLE OBAMA ON WHETHER SHE’D EVER RUN FOR OFFICE “I wouldn’t ask my children to do this again.”

‘THE WOMAN WHO TOOK BILL O’REILLY DOWN’ “He was the most popular figure on the country’s highest-rated television network. But he was no match for New York Times reporter Emily Steel.” [Marie Claire]

START BUILDING YOUR RAFTS NOW California sea levels could rise 10 feet by the end of this century.

‘ELISABETH MOSS IS THE QUEEN OF PEAK TV’ “How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale star built the most enviable résumé in television and discovered her personal feminism along the way.” [Vulture]



— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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In 100 Days, Donald Trump Hasn’t Done Much Except Show Off His Signature

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 10:48 AM

By S.V. Dáte

KENOSHA, Wisconsin – On Day 89 of his presidency, Donald Trump set down his felt-tipped pen and did what he’s done most and best so far in his new job: held up a piece of paper he had just signed for news cameras to record for posterity.

More than four dozen times since taking office, Trump has invited the media he regularly attacks to show off his distinctive cursive on a presidential document ― a document that, the vast majority of the time, has been completely unnecessary to accomplish the stated goal.

Previous presidents have signed executive orders and memoranda. None appeared to be compelled to hold them up and show off their penmanship.

“It’s show and tell,” Duke University historian William Chafe said. “It’s basically trying to create the impression of decisiveness.”

In Chafe’s view, it’s actually a misimpression, given the lack of a single significant piece of legislation to pass under Trump’s watch, including the 10 he specifically promised he would shepherd through Congress in his first 100 days.

“The executive orders are the only substantive things that he’s accomplished,” Chafe said, adding that even those have not been particularly substantial. All but a handful of the objectives described in the directives did not even need a formal presidential authorization for the agency heads to pursue them.

In Kenosha, for example, as employees at the Snap-on tools headquarters applauded, Trump signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which he claimed would “help protect workers and students, like those of you in the audience today.”

Except the actual language of the order affects purchasing by federal agencies he controls and asks his own departments to look for ways to tighten some work visa rules. So why issue an executive order ― a tool that historically has reinterpreted laws or rules to achieve a desired goal ― when a simple email or phone call might have done the job?

“An executive order is a signal to every single worker in the federal government, including career workers, lifelong workers, every one across the federal government, that this is an order from the president of the United States, memorialized in writing,” a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity on the Air Force One flight from Wisconsin back to Washington, D.C. “There is no higher statement of executive direction than the form of an executive order.”

Two days later, Trump signed an official memorandum before the cameras, asking his Commerce Department to look into whether steel imports were unfairly undercutting the U.S. steel industry. Why the formal memo, rather than just asking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to look into it?

“He has issued this memorandum to stress that he would like us to make this a real priority and to expedite it,” said Ross, who acknowledged that he had already started the review the previous day, before the memo was issued.

And the very next morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded that Trump’s executive order that afternoon to study the tax code also wasn’t really necessary, despite the televised signing and passing out of pens. “I think the purpose of the orders is to make clear what the president and the administration’s priorities are, and to signify the importance of these issues to the American people,” Mnuchin said.

Chafe and other critics remain unimpressed, and argue that the rash of meaningless signing ceremonies is simply more evidence of a White House that cannot figure out a way to get what it wants ― and maybe cannot even figure out what exactly it does want ― and so settles on PR stunts.

“This administration is still operating under chaos and capriciousness,” Chafe said of Trump. “He’s erratic. He’s all over the place.”

Promises For 100 Days

Trump had been in office for just a few weeks when he began bragging that he was already accomplishing more than any previous president.

“There has never been a presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time,” Trump proclaimed in a Feb. 16 White House news conference.

As the days slipped past and it became clear the only bills reaching his desk were feel-good measures such as the one encouraging women to pursue science careers or measures using the Congressional Review Act to undo agency rules passed in the final days of the Obama administration, Trump’s White House began recalibrating its message.

Early this month, Trump’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short, asked reporters “to consider” making the CRAs a bigger deal in their news coverage. “I think if you take into [account] in totality what we’ve been trying to do on the regulatory front, it is a news story. And so I do think it’s an accomplishment,” he said.

The White House began bragging about the increase in the stock market, decreases in illegal border crossings from Mexico and strong job growth numbers ― and attributed them all to Trump’s election.

Eventually, Trump, even as he continued to boast about how great he was doing, began diminishing the whole 100-day concept. “I think the 100 days is, you know, it’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press last week.

Measuring a president by accomplishments in the first 100 days only came into vogue with the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat who entered office at the nadir of the Great Depression. Roosevelt jammed through a significant chuck of his New Deal initiatives in those first months, and that yardstick has stuck ever since.

It is not necessarily fair, particularly to presidents who take office in times of relative peace and prosperity, said University of Texas historian H.W. Brands. Roosevelt in 1933 and Barack Obama in 2009 had to act quickly or risk seeing the nation fall even deeper into economic peril.

Trump, in contrast, took office following 75 straight months of job growth, a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and the wind down of massive, post-Sept. 11 troop deployments.

“He didn’t face a crisis, he didn’t face those emergencies,” Brands said. “But he’s bringing it on himself. … If the tax code isn’t changed in six months or two years, the world’s not going to end.”

Trump, nevertheless, has claimed he had to act quickly because he inherited “a mess” from his predecessor. That, in fact, was a central theme of his campaign: that the country was a disaster that only he could fix. And on Oct. 22, just weeks before the election, Trump traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and issued a series of promises, some that he would do on his first day in office and the rest that he would accomplish in his first 100.

Based on the list Trump himself created, his track record has been abysmal. Trump actually participated in inaugural activities his first day in office, and spent much of the second day complaining about the media coverage of the first day.

In the coming days and weeks, though, Trump did follow through on some of the 18 actions he said he would start pursuing on Day One, signing orders to deport more undocumented immigrants, to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and to require that each new regulation be accompanied by the repeal of two existing regulations. He also appointed a Supreme Court justice off the list he had previously made public, as he had promised.

But Trump failed to follow through on other items from that list of Day One actions. He did not propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress. Not only did he fail to label China a currency manipulator, as he promised he would, but he later came out and specifically said that China is not one. Most famously, his promises to “cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities” and to “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions” are tied up in the courts, thanks to poorly drafted language and Trump’s own inflammatory statements about Muslims during the campaign.

And among the 10 pieces of legislation Trump promised to fight to pass “within the first 100 days of my administration,” he is zero for 10.

The End the Offshoring Act, the Clean Up Corruption in Washington Act, the Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act ― not one enjoys much of an existence outside of Trump’s October press release. Even his signature campaign promise, to build a “great wall” along the southern border with Mexico, has now been effectively put off until at least October.

If his presidency were to end tomorrow, he wouldn’t get a mention at all. Nothing has happened.
H.W. Brands, University of Texas historian

The only one of those 10 bills that has moved in either chamber ― repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act ― had to be pulled from the House floor just before a scheduled vote last month because of a lack of Republican support, although a revamped version could soon be up for consideration.

“If his presidency were to end tomorrow, he wouldn’t get a mention at all,” Brands said. “Nothing has happened.”

Trump has even failed to follow through on the very first promise he made in that October Gettysburg speech, which came not long after a series of women went public with accusations of Trump’s inappropriate sexual conduct toward them.

“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump said. “Total fabrications. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

In fact, Trump does not appear to have sued even one of those women.

A Consistent Track Record

To Trump’s many critics, both Democratic and Republican, none of this comes as a surprise.

His decades as a publicity-hungry businessman are littered with enterprises he plunged into with impulsive, poorly researched decisions that later failed, sometimes spectacularly ― everything from his Trump Shuttle airline to his branded Trump Steaks.

In the early 1990s, Trump’s entire business empire was on the verge of collapse. His Atlantic City casinos were bleeding money, and because he had personally guaranteed nearly $1 billion in business loans, their failure would have meant personal bankruptcy for him, too.

Fortunately for Trump, his lenders risked financial ruin themselves if he went down, so they continued to work with him to keep him solvent. Over a period of years, though, his empire shrank as banks forced him to hand over ever-larger portions of his holdings and made him give up extravagances like his 281-foot yacht. They even restricted him to an allowance.

Unable to borrow money for construction projects, Trump shifted his business model toward licensing his name to hotels and condominiums that he didn’t own ― a marketing scheme that became far more successful thanks to the adaptation of his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, into a hit television series.

Trump’s track record did not suggest a brilliant and savvy businessman, but that’s what he played on “The Apprentice,” talking tough and making shrewd decisions in every episode.

He thinks he’s the best businessman of all time. He thinks he’s the most attractive man to women of all time. He’s a fabulist. None of this is real.
Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican political consultant

It was an image that burned into the American popular consciousness over a dozen years, and one that tens of millions of dollars of negative advertising featuring Trump’s actual business record could not undo in the months leading up to last November’s election.

“He thinks he’s the best businessman of all time. He thinks he’s the most attractive man to women of all time,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican political consultant and longtime Trump critic. “He’s a fabulist. None of this is real. … This is also because he’s fundamentally an unserious person. He’ll say whatever it takes to get the sucker to sign on the dotted line.”

Never Afraid To Brag

Unsurprisingly, Trump brought the habit of claiming phenomenal success, regardless of the actual facts of the case, with him into the White House.

But with no obvious foils to blame as he had during the presidential campaign, Trump’s own character traits underlying his inability to get things done have become more obvious to more observers: His profound ignorance of both domestic and world affairs, an inability or unwillingness to focus, and an eagerness to lash out at perceived threats.

His short attention span and lack of interest in details became clear even to Republican House members during the initial attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month. Trump did not appear to know how that law or his proposed replacement actually worked, and seemed more interested in passing something ― anything ― that he could call a victory.

His defenders, who say his lack of knowledge is understandable, given his lack of previous political office, argue that Trump will be held to a different standard by voters judging his performance now, just as they did heading into the 2016 election.

Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush, said that, in any case, the voting public’s verdict about Trump will not be determined in the first 100 days. Rather, their views about whether their individual lives and the lives of their families and friends are improved or made more difficult will decide how Republicans fare in the 2018 midterm elections and whether Trump can win a second term two years later.

Be that as it may, the Trump White House this week pulled out all the stops in touting its 100 Day successes ― a new page on the White House website, daily recitations by his press shop of his accomplishments, and a flurry of televised signings of presidential pieces of paper.

Among them are orders and memos asking for studies about agriculture, federal education policy and national monuments. All could have been accomplished without a formal presidential declaration.

The White House also staged a closed-door briefing with members of Congress about North Korea (members said afterward they did not learn anything new and wondered what the point of it was), released a single page of bullet points of a “tax reform” proposal (it was so vague that it was impossible to determine how any given taxpayer’s bill would be affected), and floated the idea of an order to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (pulling out of NAFTA could require congressional approval, which he isn’t likely to get).

Fleischer said he agrees the presidential orders have been mainly stagecraft. “Legally speaking, there isn’t a big difference between an executive order and a president telling his agencies to do something,” he said. “But, no harm done in packaging it.”

Of course, if Trump’s press team gets truly desperate for accomplishments, they can reach back to a campaign promise he made when announcing his candidacy in June 2015, following his now-famous ride down the Trump Tower escalator.

Right after criticizing the Obama administration’s deal to suspend Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief ― ironically, a deal the Trump administration last week acknowledged Iran is living up to ― Trump laid into Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, for crashing his bicycle.

“Goes into a bicycle race at 72 years old, and falls and breaks his leg. I won’t be doing that,” Trump said. “And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.”

Trump has not, at least thus far in his presidency, participated in a single bicycle race.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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Press Secretaries Get Paid To Clean Up Flubs. But Sometimes Even They Screw Up.

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM

By Sam Levine

Before the words were even completely out of the mouth of his boss, Stu Loeser knew he had screwed up.

It was 2010, and as New York City recovered from a massive snowstorm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had been giving regular televised updates to New Yorkers about storm cleanup efforts. Many people were canceling their Broadway theater tickets due to the snow, and Loeser, Bloomberg’s press secretary, advised the mayor to say on live television that New Yorkers should buy tickets amid the disaster.

The plug was meant to be a simple boost for Broadway. But the problem was that the city was still struggling to get the streets plowed in many neighborhoods, and the comment fed the perception that Bloomberg was out of touch with regular New Yorkers.

The comment was carried live on nine local television stations and several cable networks. As Bloomberg spoke, Loeser noticed many of the reporters in the room writing down the timestamp.

“At the time, we had ambulances stuck and streets that weren’t getting cleared as quickly as usual, so I wasn’t really focused on the Broadway line even though I saw reporters almost physically responding to it,” recalled Loeser. “When you have potential loss of life, focusing on the damage you may have inadvertently done to yourself seems secondary.”

But the outrage about the comment was swift. Peter Vallone, a city councilman from Queens, fumed about the comment in the New York tabloids. Bloomberg eventually apologized for the city’s snow response.

A press secretary’s main job is message discipline. They are paid to spin political agendas and minimize distractions, and to act as a shield, ensuring their boss never looks bad in the news. But every so often, press secretaries screw up. They botch the messaging or say something that doesn’t align with the perception they’re trying to create ― and then it’s the press secretary who’s in the spotlight. When that happens, there aren’t a lot of options for damage control other than to offer a full mea culpa.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer found himself on in this situation earlier this month when he told a room full of reporters that Hitler wasn’t as bad as Syrian President Bashar Assad because he didn’t use chemical weapons on his own people, and then referred to concentration camps as “Holocaust centers.” It became immediately obvious he had majorly messed up ― an MSNBC chyron posted below Spicer’s televised speech fact-checked him in real time, noting Hitler gassed millions and videos of reporters looking baffled quickly went viral.

He appeared on CNN several hours later to apologize. “I made a mistake; there’s no other way to say it,” he told Wolf Blitzer. “I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have, and I screwed up.”

Spicer talked about the scrutiny he faces as the chief spokesman for the president of the United States in a panel discussion at the Newseum the following day.

“No matter what you do, what you wear, it gets amplified to a degree that you couldn’t imagine,” he told moderator Greta Van Susteren.

Sometimes, however, the only way for a press secretary control the damage is to leave. That’s what happened to Kurt Bardella, the former spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). In 2011, Politico broke the news Bardella had shared email exchanges he had with other reporters with The New York Times’ Mark Leibovich for a book Leibovich was writing on Washington culture. Bardella was fired over the incident shortly after.

“I can’t believe how stupid I was,” Bardella said in a recent interview with HuffPost. “As it’s going on and you’re breaking news on every outlet, and every story at that point in time is being written about your downfall and how you’re ambition and ego got the best of you, while people go on background and talk shit about you, it’s one of the most unpleasant professional situations you ever find yourself in.”

Bardella said his conversation with Issa about his future employment following the incident was “pretty brief.”

“At the end of the day, you still have a responsibility to serve your boss to the best of your ability. And it doesn’t take a lot of time to realize that the best thing you can do for your boss is to be removed from that situation,” Bardella said. “It was a pretty immediate conclusion given the situation. This wasn’t a long, drawn out, strategic thoughtful process. It was ‘well it’s pretty obvious you’re gonna have to fire me.’” (Bardella ended up being hired to work for the House committee Issa chaired later that year.)

Bardella said the episode showed him who his real friends were. The night he was fired, 14 friends showed up at his house with beer, pizza and Trivial Pursuit.

“I think most people are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to redeem yourself,” Bardella reflected. “If anything, I think what can compound a mistake is doubling down on it and not facing it directly.”

Mike McCurry, who served as Bill Clinton’s press secretary from 1995 to 1998, had his own run-in with infamy. In an October 1995 White House press briefing, McCurry accused Republicans of wanting to kill seniors because they wanted to cut Medicare.

“Eventually they’d like to see the program just die and go away. You know, that’s probably what they’d like to see happen to seniors too. If you think about it. Oh, that’s too far, that goes beyond the point,” he said at the time.

McCurry later recalled that House Speaker Newt Gingrich was furious over the comment ― which seems almost benign by today’s standards of political discourse ― and threatened to stop negotiating with the White House on the federal budget unless McCurry was fired. There were backchannel negotiations between Gingrich’s chief of staff and the White House, and the dust up ended with McCurry apologizing from the White House briefing room and burying the hatchet with Gingrich.

“I sent the speaker a note saying that I quickly realized I had made a mistake and I apologize for that. And hope he understood that I did not intend to impugn his character,” McCurry said at the time.

When McCurry left the White House a few years later, Gingrich sent him a crystal decanter and four glasses so he “could enjoy some Jack Daniels in retirement,” McCurry recalls.

“Moral of the story: all press secretaries say stupid things,” McCurry, who is now a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary, wrote in an email. “It works out better when you ‘fess up quickly.”

A fast apology is essential, said George Arzt, who served as former New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s press secretary. As he was leaving City Hall one day in the late 1980s, Arzt heard from the police that a bear at the zoo had mauled two zookeepers and possibly killed one. He told reporters to check with the police about the incident, but one paper ran the story on its front page without verifying it. In fact, only one zookeeper had been injured, and only slightly. The paper ran a correction that blamed Arzt for the error.

“I still apologized for any miscommunication and decided never to give out half-assed information even if I was going off the record to help out reporters,” Arzt said. “You just have to show that it does not bother you ― even when you are in pain ― and life goes on.”

In a crisis, Arzt, said, a press secretary can never show frustration and must remain unflappable.

“Reporters have great pressures dealing with deadlines, competition and dumb editors asking dumb questions. They need someone to believe in,” he said. “If the press secretary has no credibility, reporters will seek someone out who can give them credible information and that usually is not good for the administration.”

The necessity of a quick and clear apology seems to be anathema to President Donald Trump, who has shown an extreme aversion to admitting he was wrong. Trump has made all kinds of untrue public claims and unfounded allegations ― that there was widespread voter fraud in last year’s election and that he was wiretapped in Trump tower among them ― and refused to back down when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In a 2015 interview, Trump suggested that he never apologizes because he’s never wrong: “I fully think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong.”

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HuffPost Headline Quiz: April 21 to April 27

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM

By Christine Roberts

From the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s tax plan to Republicans’ renewed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a lot happened this week.

See how closely you’ve been following the news below:

Want to ace the answers to this news quiz? Subscribe to The Huffington Post’s Morning Email:

Also, don’t forget to try our quiz on Google Home!

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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After 84 Years, FDR’s First 100 Days Remain A Benchmark

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM

By Zach Carter

Thousands of banks had failed, reducing millions of middle-class Americans to sudden, shocking poverty. Families packed up and migrated from town to town in search of work as factories shuttered across the country. Farmers as far flung as the Dakotas, Tennessee and New York had taken over highways, physically blocking transport of meats and vegetables in a desperate bid to raise food prices. In a few weeks, a judge in LeMars, Iowa, presiding over 15 farm foreclosure cases would be dragged from his courtroom with a rope around his neck. A year earlier, police in Dearborn, Michigan, had fired on an army of unemployed workers led by Communist Party officials, killing five and injuring dozens more. This was no mere economic calamity. The American political project appeared to be in its death throes.

It was early March of 1933. By mid-June, the threat of revolution would be gone. The American presidency would be redefined, and the federal government’s role in civic life overhauled under a political realignment unlike anything since the Civil War. The power of big business would be subjugated to the voting public for decades to come.

Americans didn’t talk about the first 100 days of their first 31 presidents. But the frantic reforms implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the spring of 1933 set a new standard for leadership that his successors would struggle to live up to. When President John Fitzgerald Kennedy laid out his agenda in 1961, his plea for patience reflected heightened public expectations established by FDR: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, not in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.”

FDR signed 76 bills into law during in his first 100 days in office, 15 of which are legislative landmarks. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush each signed fewer than 10 bills during their first 100 days, none of them iconic achievements. Donald Trump’s policy record is limited to the reversal of a few regulations approved by Barack Obama. (This has not prevented Trump from laughably declaring his first 100 days the most “accomplished” since FDR.)

Roosevelt rescued the financial system, imposed sweeping new banking reforms, protected families from foreclosure, provided aid to farmers and laid-off factory workers, and created new government agencies that directly employed people desperate for jobs. FDR founded the Civilian Conservation Corps. to put millions of young men to work on environmental conservation efforts, along with the Public Works Administration to construct schools, dams, airports and other infrastructure. The Tennessee Valley Authority brought electricity to much of the South and broke predatory monopolies in the power market. Roosevelt established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to guarantee citizens wouldn’t lose their savings in a bank failure (this came in pretty handy in 2008 and 2009), and the Securities and Exchange Commission to protect investors from corporate fraud.

“Much of what was pushed through in the first 100 days were things for which there was pent-up demand within the Democratic electorate,” notes Eric Rauchway, a historian at the University of California, Davis and author of The Money Makers, a study of Roosevelt’s economic program. “There was farm relief, labor relief, there were some early steps at public works. … But other stuff was just forced on him by the extreme circumstance of the moment.”

The bursting of a stock market bubble and the collapse of farm prices had all but destroyed the American banking system. Roosevelt’s first order of business upon taking office was to declare a bank holiday, closing every bank in the country and dispatch inspectors to pore over books and accounts. Under FDR’s Emergency Banking Act, the federal government agreed to meet the liabilities for any solvent bank. When the banks reopened a few days later, depositors were able to make withdrawals and the panic subsided.

Today, many New Deal ideas and institutions are considered a normal part of governing. Even the most ardent conservatives don’t talk seriously about eliminating the FDIC or the SEC, and the TVA remains one of the largest U.S. producers of electricity.

Progressive and populist reformers had been clamoring for these policies for years, but they had no academic or intellectual support for their agenda. Roosevelt financed his project by taking the United States off the gold standard ― a radical change to the country’s monetary system that conservatives derided as “communist” well into the 1950s ― and by borrowing and printing money. In 1936, British economist John Maynard Keynes would publish his landmark The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, demonstrating why this strategy could work. But in 1933, the economic establishment believed these moves to be dangerous, even insane.

But economists of the day had also believed that prolonged economic downturns were impossible. After a few weeks or months, prices would adjust and markets would get back to normal. The Great Depression upended these theories, throwing society into frightening, unchartered territory. Though it would take years for many of the projects from Roosevelt’s first 100 days to be implemented, the furious pace of activity helped calm an anxious public.

“In his inaugural speech, Roosevelt says the country ‘demands action and action now,’” notes presidential historian Robert Dallek, whose FDR biography will be published in the fall. “And he set out that he could do what he could in the first 100 days of his term to remedy the sense of despair.”

Although the titans of American finance and industry were generally opposed to Roosevelt’s policies, his firm agenda helped the economy rebound before the spending he had approved actually began flowing into the economy.

“Roosevelt’s first 100 days revived business confidence, as is shown by the remarkable recovery of production which took place, without fiscal stimulus, during the second quarter of 1933,” economic historian Robert Skidelsky notes in an essay published in 1978.

FDR’s presidency was experimental. It didn’t achieve anything like ideological unity until 1938. His spending projects repeatedly came into conflict with counterproductive efforts to balance the federal budget. Even his admirers, including Keynes, would at times accuse him of doing too much ― focusing too much on rewriting the rules of commerce and not enough on putting people to work (Keynes would not live long enough to fully appreciate the significance of FDR’s reforms. The Glass-Steagall Act’s separation between traditional banking and risky securities trading would put an end to U.S. banking panics for 50 years.).

But after FDR’s first 100 days, the U.S. government wasn’t going back to a laissez-faire system. He had invented modern American government.

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NOAA Probes Mystery Deaths Of 41 Humpback Whales Along U.S. Coast

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 9:32 AM

By Nick Visser

Scientists have launched an investigation into the unexplained deaths of 41 humpback whales along the Atlantic coast of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

Researchers declared the ongoing phenomenon that’s affected whale populations stretching from Maine to North Carolina since the start of 2016 an “unusual mortality event.” About 14 whales usually die in the region annually ― but they documented 26 deaths in 2016 and nine this year.

NOAA said it doesn’t yet have a concrete reason why all of the animals have died. The agency conducted necropsies on 20 whales, and 10 appeared to have been struck and killed by ships.

Deborah Fauquier, NOAA Fisheries veterinary medical officer, said the dead marine mammals had sustained “blunt force trauma” or “large propellor cuts” (NOAA released a graphic photo of such injuries).

There are usually fewer than two such deaths per year, and while trends have increased, scientists said there was no apparent cause of mortality linking all of the whales together.

“The answer is really unknown,” said Greg Silber, NOAA Fisheries’ large whale recovery coordinator, in a news briefing. “There’s probably no spike in vessel traffic in these areas. It’s probably linked to prey sources. Humpback whales follow where prey is, and there may be aggregation where there are shipping routes.”

Mendy Garron, the stranding coordinator for the greater Atlantic region of NOAA Fisheries, said there was no indication that a disease had killed any whales and there was no unusual level of exposure to biotoxins. However, the agency said it would begin a formal investigation into the mortality event and conduct further necropsies, so those conclusions could change.

There are about 10,400 humpbacks in the Atlantic region, and federal authorities delisted the species from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in September (they still fall under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, however). NOAA has issued three unusual mortality event investigations involving humpbacks before, in 2003, 2005 and 2006. In each instance, the agency was unable to determine the cause of death.

NOAA said there are rules in effect meant to protect whales, including ship speed reduction provisions and others that mandate recreational boats stay at least 100 feet away from the animals. The agency said “the most important step members of the public can take” if they spot a distressed or dead whale is to call the local Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline and avoid approaching the animals.

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This Instagram Account Is Documenting Every Anti-Donald Trump Sticker In NYC

Article posted April 28, 2017 at 9:23 AM

By Lee Moran

These small stickers are being used to make a big political point.

Dozens of different anti-Donald Trump labels have appeared across New York City since his presidential election win in November 2016. And the man behind the Resist Trump account on Instagram is on a mission to document each and every one of them.

“They’re basically all over the place, anywhere you would normally see street art,” said the photographer, who declined to be publicly identified, via email this week. “Phone booths are surprisingly fertile ground, I’ve noticed.”

#resist #resisttrump #trump #trumpmemes

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 14, 2017 at 1:40pm PDT

The photographer said he was inspired to chronicle the often inconspicuous works of art after seeing the message “Fuck Trump” scrawled on New York City’s Manhattan Bridge.

“Since then I have just kept an eye out for it,” he said, revealing that he photographs the stickers as he walks around Manhattan and Brooklyn. He also occasionally features other forms of protest art on his account.

His favorite label is currently the above one with the word “NO” underneath an emblem depicting Trump’s coiffed hair. He prefers the pieces that make you think.

#resist #resisttrump #trump #trumpmemes

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:11pm PDT

“I mean, the ones where people just write ‘Fuck Trump’ or ‘Trump sucks’ don’t exactly grab my attention the way, for instance, (Steve) Bannon puppeteering Trump does,” he said of the above image of the White House Chief Strategist in control of the president.

The underlying theme behind all the stickers he has photographed is “probably the same thing that inspired me to start taking the pictures,” he said. “It’s a way of dealing with and trying to make at least a little light out of a dark situation.”

Visit the account here, see more anti-Trump street art here and check out some of the other stickers below:

#resist #resisttrump #trump #trumpmemes

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 14, 2017 at 1:30pm PDT

#resisttrump #resist #trump #trumpmemes

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 25, 2017 at 2:06pm PDT

#resist #trump #trumpmemes #resisttrump

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Mar 9, 2017 at 6:04am PST

#resist #trump #trumpmemes #resisttrump

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Mar 24, 2017 at 3:12pm PDT

#trumpmemes #trump #resisttrump #resist

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 21, 2017 at 4:52pm PDT

#resist #resisttrump #trump #trumpmemes

A post shared by Resist Trump (@resistrump) on Apr 15, 2017 at 8:27pm PDT

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