* If maintaining your sanity while trying to keep track of the Trump administration seems to be increasingly difficult, Adam Gopnik suggests that’s a feature, not a bug.
The blind, blatant disregard for truth is offered without even the sugar-façade of sweetness of temper or equableness or entertainment—offered not with a sheen of condescending consensus but in an ancient tone of rage, vanity, and vengeance. Trump is pure raging authoritarian id…
When Trump repeats the ridiculous story about the three million illegal voters—a story that no one who knows, that not a single White House “staffer,” not a single Republican congressman actually believes to be true—he does not really care if anyone believes it, even if, at some crazy level, he does, sort of. People aren’t meant to believe it; they’re meant to be intimidated by it. The lie is not a claim about specific facts; the lunacy is a deliberate challenge to the whole larger idea of sanity. Once a lie that big is in circulation, trying to reel the conversation back into the territory of rational argument becomes impossible.
* Ryan Lizza sums up how Trump’s feud with Mexico is another indicator of his disastrous approach to foreign policy.
Trump is turning American diplomacy into a series of personal relationships unguided by strategy or forethought. He praises foreign leaders who flatter him, such as Vladimir Putin, and marginalizes those who criticize him, like Peña Nieto, without regard to the strategic value of the relationship. He is turning foreign policy into a version of professional wrestling, where alliances and rivalries shift based on petty personal factors.
…Trump’s treatment of Mexico reinforces an emerging world view that casts aside the values at the center of American foreign policy since the Second World War. As with his degrading comments about nato, his view that Taiwanese democracy and independence is a negotiating chip with China, his cavalier attitude toward Russia’s annexation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine, his abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership without even a cursory consultation with allies in the region who fear Chinese hegemony, his obsessions with the use of torture and the seizure of Iraq’s oil fields, Trump’s views on U.S.-Mexico relations are devoid of the liberal values that have kept Western democracies together for decades.
* Paul Krugman says that Trump will make the rust belt rustier.
On Thursday the White House said it was considering a 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico; doing so wouldn’t just pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, it would violate all our trading agreements.
Why does he want this? Because he sees international trade the way he sees everything else: as a struggle for dominance, in which you only win at somebody else’s expense.
His Inaugural Address made that perfectly clear: “For many decades we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry.” And he sees punitive tariffs as a way to stop foreigners from selling us stuff, and thereby revive the “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape.”
Unfortunately, as just about any economist could tell him — but probably not within his three-minute attention span — it doesn’t work that way. Even if tariffs lead to a partial reversal of the long decline in manufacturing employment, they won’t add jobs on net, just shift employment around. And they probably won’t even do that: Taken together, the new regime’s policies will probably lead to a faster, not slower, decline in American manufacturing.
* Chico Harlan explains what happened in six American towns that passed laws targeting “illegals.”
Starting a decade ago, a group of small U.S. cities began passing laws to block undocumented immigrants from living within their borders.
They were a collection of mostly white exurbs and faded manufacturing towns whose populations suddenly were transforming. More Latinos were arriving in search of jobs, and the towns’ leaders complained of burdened schools and higher crime.
Here in this northeastern Pennsylvania city, then-Mayor Lou Barletta said he would do what he could to restore “law and order” and take back his city. It was time, Barletta said, for a “war on the illegals.”
And while that sentiment is shared among some advisers to President Trump, the experiences of these towns show how measures targeting undocumented immigrants can leave lasting and bitter racial divisions while doing little to address the underlying forces that often determine where newcomers settle.
* Just sayin…
Obama’s first week:
*Recovery Act introduced
*Lilly Ledbetter Act clears Congress
*Torture, black sites banned
*Global gag rule scrapped
* Finally, I’d like to sign off on a more positive note for the weekend. So here’s a video that captures what Hillary Clinton meant when she said that we’re stronger together.
And this one from the Obama Foundation goes out to all the young ones – and those who care about the young ones.