Quick Takes: There Is a Reason Why Nepotism Is Frowned Upon

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* The President of the United States made his son-in-law, who has no government or foreign policy experience and is up to his eyeballs in debt, his top White House advisor. What could possibly go wrong? Politico was the first to weigh in on that today.

Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded — a move that will prevent him from viewing many of the sensitive documents to which he once had unfettered access.

* Next came this bombshell from the Washington Post:

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.

Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said…

H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perception of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

* Paul Waldman comments on the shocking news that Democrats’ predictions about the GOP tax cuts are coming true.

Among the things Democrats pointed out was that even before the tax cut, corporations were making near-record profits and sitting on mountains of cash; if they wanted to invest, create jobs and raise wages, they already had the means to do it. They also observed that even before the tax cut passed, corporations were saying publicly that they intended to use the money for stock buybacks…

How many times do we have to play this game? When a new policy debate emerges, Democrats try to make an argument that has some connection to reality, while Republicans make absurd claims in the knowledge that even if they get debunked in the occasional “news analysis” piece, on the whole they’ll be treated with complete seriousness, no matter how ridiculous they are.

* I wish news like this came as a surprise, but in the Trump era, it doesn’t. That doesn’t make it any less deplorable.

Antisemitic incidents in the US surged 57% in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League said on Tuesday, the largest year-on-year increase since the Jewish civil rights group began collecting data in 1979.

Close to 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and physical assault were recorded, the highest number of antisemitic incidents since 1994, it said.

The rise comes amid a climate of rising incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in American society, according to ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt.

* Anyone who still thinks Trump will do something on common sense gun safety measures should remind themselves about the time he said this:

* Jennifer Rubin starts off by summarizing all of the ways that Trump has reacted to the Mueller investigation. Then she writes this:

The remarkable part of this is that none of it has slowed Mueller one iota. He’s proceeding with remarkable speed, building a chain of subordinates who appear ready to flip on their former bosses. None of Trump’s nonsensical tactics even register with Mueller, except maybe to confirm Trump’s corrupt intent to short-circuit the investigation. Mueller is a decidedly non-political actor by virtue of his job and temperament. Trump, for the first time since he was president (perhaps the first time in his life), has met someone he cannot distract, threaten, charm or discredit.

I’m not so sure that Trump’s patterns have ever worked that well with most people. But they certainly aren’t going to phase Mueller.

* Sometimes these kinds of comparisons are a good reminder.

* Finally, on a lighter note, remember the days when this is how far Fox had to reach for a scandal?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.