Category Archives: American Politics

Yappers

Br'er_Rabbit_and_Tar-BabyTrump.

There really has never been a President anything like Trump. Or a Presidency.

There was a fair bit of anti-Bush sentiment, and Reagan was often attacked, and, of course, Nixon was vilified long before Watergate; but for sheer, sustained, noise, anti-Trump campaigning by the Democrats and the mainstream media is an order of magnitude or two greater. Everything is a potentially impeachable offence or an indication that Trump is mentally unbalanced or both. The never-Trumpers in the RINO section of the Republican party are having a great time suggesting that Trump is a threat and a menace and needs a good impeaching.

In the hysteria virtually any bit of information, regardless of source, so long as it is anti-Trump, is a page one story. Anonymous sources say Trump revealed super secret stuff to the Russians? Perfect, Wapo is on the job and he’s a traitor or an incompetent or both. Doesn’t matter that the people in the room heard nothing of the sort. Impeach him! Guy phones the NYT with a pull quote from a memo that former FBI Director Comey wrote to file on a meeting with Trump? Quote says Trump said, ““I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump allegedly told Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”” which is clearly the biggest obstruction of justice since Nixon wanted Archibald Cox fired.

At this point, Trump supporters usually say, “but the White House could have handled this better.” I don’t. I don’t say that because there is no “handling” the mainstream media, rabid Democrats and charging RINOs.

Trump and his people have to make a choice between conforming to the norms of a Washington Presidency or simply saying that was what Trump was elected to fix.

“I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests,” Trump said. “I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing.” (Breitbart)

It is an audacious position to take. It will only work if Trump sticks to his guns and backs up his people. And it will only work if some of those people are smart enough to be silent officially while working very hard and very quietly. Trump was elected as an oppositional President and he does best when he is opposing.

An encouraging sign is the Congressional reaction to the Comey “memo”. Unlike the NYT, Congressional  Committees have subpoena power. They want to see the Comey memo. And, perhaps more to the point, Senators and Representatives are asking to see Comey memos on his conversations during the Obama administration. In particular, they are looking for memos to file vis a vis the decision not to prosecute Hilly.

The Trump remark about Flynn, assuming it was made as Comey is reported as having recorded, is not an obvious candidate for an obstruction of justice charge. It might be an impeachable offence as an abuse of Presidential power but, as written, that would be a stretch. But, by leaking the contents of his memo to file, Comey has put his archive of such memos into play.

I don’t have any sense that Trump or the White House staff know much about “damage control”; however, they have a good deal of capacity to, in the words of a former President, punch back twice as hard. To do that they need to ignore the storm and fury of the Washington establishment and the legacy media and go for kill shots with live ammunition. The Comey memo archive is a great place to start.

Fragility

Lower-Otay-Dam-DisasterThe NYT published a rather mild piece on climate policy written by its new “conservative” hire Bret Stephens. The consensus claque went nuts. Dana Nuccitelli, who was in on the fraudulent Cook et al consensus paper so often cited, put up a spectacularly unhinged piece at the Guardian rallying the troops and denouncing Stephens as a “hippy puncher”. Subscription are being cancelled as we speak.

The, more or less, instant over the top reaction to a not terrifically radical suggestion that the more strident claims of the climate alarmists need a second look is not surprising. In fact, it is pretty much the only reaction the climate alarmists can have.

The problem climate alarmists have, along with the fact fewer and few people take climate alarmism seriously, is that their coalition is fragile. At one point, I would say about a decade ago, the need to “do something” about “climate change” as a motherhood issue. After all, the science was certain and the time for debate was over. People who were unwilling to accept the innate truth of the IPCC reports and the urgent need for expensive action were “deniers” and entirely excluded from the scientific or policy discussion. The alarmists knew The Truth.

As Stephens points out in his piece, 100% certainty is almost always an indication of a cult rather than any sort of actual truth. And the problem with complete certainty is that there is no flexibility. Either the claim is correct in every particular – which is very unlikely – or it is not. So, for example, the decade old consensus position that the world was growing warmer and warmer and that increases in CO2 were responsible for that warming was a hostage to fortune which was very unlikely to survive. One cooling year could be waved away as “weather”; declining estimates of temperature sensitivity to CO2 were just obscure enough that they could be ignored or suppressed; but the overall claim and the consensus which surrounded it were and are extremely vulnerable to contradiction or even mild doubt.

On the science side the greatest threats were the inadequacy of the climate models and the advent of the “hiatus”. The models entirely failed to project any circumstances in which temperature ceased to rise when CO2 continued to rise. However the hiatus created exactly that set of conditions for what is now looking like twenty years. (Right this instant, last year’s El Nino, broke the hiatus. However, rapidly cooling post El Nino temperatures look set to bring the hiatus back into play in the next six months to a year.)

The economic side is even worse. It turns out that renewable energy – windmills and solar – costs a fortune and is profoundly unreliable. Governments which went all in for renewables (see Ontario) found their energy prices hockey sticking and the popularity plummeting without, as it turns out, making even a slight impression on the rise of CO2 concentrations.

The economics of climate change and its “mitigation” are a shambles. And it is beginning to dawn on assorted politicians that they might have been railroaded with science which was not quite ready for prime time.

Which makes it all the more imperative for the Nuccitelli and DeSmog blogs of this world to redouble their attacks on even mildly sceptical positions. Had the alarmists been less certain their edifice could have easily withstood a recalibration of the science and a recalculation of the cost/benefits. But they weren’t. They went all in for a position which claimed to know for certain that CO2 was driving world temperature and that there was no other possible cause for an increase or decrease in that temperature.

The problem with that position is that it was premature and very brittle. As lower sensitivity estimates emerge, as other, non-CO2 driven, temperature controls are discovered, consensus climate science becomes more and more embattled. What had looked like a monopoly on political discourse and media comment begins to fray. The advent of Trump and a merry band of climate change skeptics in the regulatory agencies and in Congress, has pretty much killed any forward motion for the climate alarmists in the US. And the US is where this battle will be won or lost. However, the sheer cost of so called “carbon reduction” schemes in the UK, Germany and the rest of Europe has been staggering and has shown next to no actual benefit so scepticism is rising there too. China has both embarked on an embrace of climate change abatement and the construction of dozens of coal fired electrical generation plants every year.

What had been a climate change thought monopoly a decade ago has fractured along dozens of scientific, economic and policy lines. Some of the more intelligent alarmists realize that if dissent is not snuffed out ferociously it will spread. Heterodox science will appear in respectable journals,  non-conforming scientists will be invited to appear before Congress (as happened a few weeks ago), the costs and limited to non-existent benefits of renewable energy and carbon taxes will be closely examined; once the thought monopoly is broken the collapse of the climate change scam is inevitable.

Speed the day.Lower-Otay-Dam-Disaster

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Bully! A Splendid Little War

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So The Donald has sent in the cruise missiles in response to the Syrian sarin gas assault on its own people.

Sending 59 cruise missiles with conventional warheads and then sitting down to dinner with the Chinese President pretty much establishes Trump as a “tough guy”. But will he be smart enough to leave it at that?

In a very real sense, Trump has redrawn the “red line” which Obama and Kerry allowed to fade to palest pink. Served notice that “there is a new Sheriff in town” to quote an awful lot of pro-Trump blogs. Which, I suspect, most international players had already noticed.

The question is whether Trump is able to enjoy an American casualty free battle and move on to the next thing on his agenda. Obama demonstrated in Libya that regime change may, or may not, be for the better. Generally, it seems to be a bad idea in the Middle East simply because the next regime may be worse than the one you “changed”. During the campaign, Trump seemed to get that. Does he now?

Assad needs to go. Murderous barbarian and all. However, he needs to go when there is some idea of a better thing to replace him. That might be a new regime or it might be the carve up of both Syria and Iraq and the end of the Sykes-Picot travesty which has haunted the Middle East for nearly a hundred years.

Regime change could be accomplished with a lot of money, a few Russian Spetsnaz and a dozen bullets. But what then?

Unwinding Sykes-Picot is a much larger and, strategically, more intelligent enterprise. Defeat ISIS and then carve out the Sunni, Kurd and Shia enclaves being sensitive to the worries of the Turks and the position of the minorities. That is the work of a negotiator and a statesman. And it is something which will involve Putin as well as Trump. No bad thing that.

Right at the moment, Russia is hanging on by a thread. Demographically, economically it is in huge trouble. For Putin to survive he needs to seem indispensable. Trump can give him that. Putin can give Trump essentially nothing. Other than his nukes and his special forces, he is the Tsar of a gradually dying nation and only massive help from America can really save him. Monkeys can climb a very long way up trees, it is the getting down part which is tricky.

Syria offers Putin the opportunity to act as and be seen as a statesman.  With Trump’s help, he can open the book on Sykes-Picot and facilitate the reformation of Syria and Iraq into a loose confederation of ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets. Between the Americans and the Russians, all of the factions can be brought to the table and, with luck, disarmed and sent on their way. None of the resulting states will be heard of again for generations.

Trump has played the first card of a strategy which will likely take a few years to play out. By being willing to punish actions which are against all agreed-upon international norms Trump makes it clear that hard power is a real thing for America again.

Trump knew the world was watching and he gave them a show. Now we’ll see what he does with the attention.

 

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How Trump Won

So this was Joe’s funeral. It was filled with Deplorables. They danced to Steve Earle.

No one who went to Princeton could do that…Well, except Kim, but she is very gifted indeed.

Most of elite thought is focused on the activities of other members of the elite. Dancing to Copperhead Road is not in the lexicon. More’s the pity.

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Cat Meet Pigeons

smoking-gunTrump has been tweeting again and this time he’s dropped the bomb on the Obama Administration’s alleged tapping of the Trump campaign.

Assorted Obama spokespeople have said that Obama himself did not order the wiretaps. Which many have taken as tacit confirmation that there were wiretaps but that the big O did not actually put them in place.

There is a bit of business about two separate applications to the FISA Court which grants wiretap authorizations for surveillance of agents of foreign states – but not Americans. And the wonderfully oily James Clapper told “Meet the Press”:

“For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign,” Clapper said Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Asked whether he could confirm or deny whether the FBI could have tapped Trump’s phones under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Clapper was unequivocal.
“I can deny it,” he said. “There is no FISA court order, not to my knowledge, of anything at Trump Tower.” CNN
That this activity was reported some time ago in the NYT is largely dismissed as the Times apparently relied on a report at Heat Street where the very excitable Louise Mensch reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant.
Clapper has a bit of form as being willing to lie under oath but I can’t see any reason why he would lie in these circumstances when it is pretty much inevitable that a FISA application will or will not have been made and decided. There is a record and that record will come out.
At the same time, there is no reason to believe that Trump is not in possession of some evidence that his campaign was tapped. Otherwise, why make the allegation? (And, for sake of argument, let’s put aside the idea that the human Cheeto is simply a deranged lunatic liable to tweet anything.)
The  “Trump ties to Russia” story keeps surfacing as various members of the “intelligence community” leak material to MSM. There does not seem to be much there but what there is can be amped up and puts the Trump Administration on the defensive.  From his tweets and other statements, it is pretty clear Trump is, like many Presidents before him, annoyed with the leaks.
Unlike many Presidents whose response to leaks usually involves some sort of internal investigation, Trump seems willing to try and get to the source of the leaks. He has called for, and is apparently getting, a full scale Congressional investigation of his allegations within the context of an overall investigation of the “Russian influence” on the election.
One read of this is that Trump wants to put the Russian connection allegations on ice for a while and kicking the whole thing over to Congress might have that effect. It is a plausible explanation but it seems somehow inefficient. Very little reward for a significant risk.
My own sense is that Trump has, or thinks he has, a smoking gun. Something which will tie Obama and his administration to illegal activity. If there was a FISA application there would have to be affidavits in support of that application. There would have to be disclosure of the sources and methods whereby the DOJ (the only entity which appears before the FISA court) concluded that there was foreign agent activity at Trump Tower. And that would open several cans of worms.
It is also pure speculation. What is not speculation is that no one in the Obama administration ever, for a minute, believed that Trump would win. Playing a bit fast and loose with rules when there was a Hillary lock on the next administration might well have seemed like a good idea at the time.After all, the orangutang and his flying monkeys were hardly ever going to be in a position to find out.
If there is a “smoking gun”, Trump, by making his allegations and then calling for a Congressional investigation, is ensuring that its discovery will be the work of Congress and not the Trump Administration. Which is not to say the Trump Administration will not leave a trail of boulder-sized, glow in the dark, bread crumbs which even the thickest Congressional investigator will be able to follow.
Trump and his people know that if they are going to put the Russian claims behind them and, perhaps, tarnish the halo the MSM has placed on Obama’s head, the actual investigation has to be at arm’s length. Trump has got his arms-length investigation, now the question is whether he has the actual smoking gun.
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Gotcha!

EPSON scanner image

The continuing farce of the deep state versus Trump took another turn with the “revelation” that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s AG and a former Senator, may have met twice with the Russian Ambassador. And then, when asked a question during his confirmation hearings which was, at a stretch, tangentially related to his possible meetings, said he had no meetings about the particular topic he was being questioned about.

This is pretty much politics as usual except for one important detail. The Washington Post which broke “the story” was a bit coy as to its sources for the news of Sessions meetings. I have seen “intelligence sources” mentioned but that could really mean just about anything.

The partisan spin machines came up to speed this morning with the Democrats claiming perjury and demanding a special prosecutor, recusal and resignation and the Republicans suggesting that this is a “nothing burger”.

The accusations themselves may be meritless but the fact they have been made at all based on information fed to the Washington Post by people inside the government is significant. So is the ongoing attempt to implicate the Russians in Trump’s victory.

It is more than a little unlikely that the two meetings Sessions had with the Russian Ambassador will do any great harm, nor will his answer to the Senate Committee, simply because there is very little wrong with either. But that is not, I don’t think, the intent of this attack.

The objective is longer range. Taking on Trump directly is beyond the capacity of the Democratic party at this stage. They can and will snipe at him. But creating a climate of suspicion around Trump officials has the potential for long-term payoffs while keeping the administration off balance.

No single “gotcha” will take down Trump. A series of minor scandals and embarrassments punctuated by the occasional full on investigation, might succeed in rendering the Trump Administration timid and gun shy. At this point, it is the best option deep state Democrats and their media minnions have.

When Hercules battled the hydra – pictured above – one of the ways he won was to have a friend hold a torch to the hydra’s neck as Hercules lopped off the head thereby prevent the traditional two heads from growing in place of the severed one. At the moment Trump and his people are lopping off the media serpents’ heads as fast as they can; but they are not cauterising the wounds they are inflicting and the serpent keeps fighting. What is needed is a more serious strategy, a long term strategy of marginalising the media and responding directly and forcefully to any allegations made. Some guy once said, “Punch back twice as hard.”

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The Reveal

05744777I have not written much about Trump post election. Quite honestly, up until he took the Oath of Office, I could not quite believe that the elites arrayed against him would not come up with something to avoid the accession of the Cheeto vulgarian. I guess they just don’t make elites like they used to and there it is, President Trump.

Smart people on the right have noted: 1) in his first week Trump has “flooded the zone” with Executive Orders, appointments, website changes and tweets, almost all of which producing outrage, apoplexy and scorn from lefties and liberals, 2) it turns out that the elite media have been successfully bypassed by the Trumpians by the simple expedient of largely ignoring it, 3) it appears that Trump proposes to keep most of his campaign promises, 4) perhaps most importantly, unlike his predecessor, Trump intuitively understands the real power of the White House is not about intelligence briefings and budget planning, it is about getting things done.

Getting things done, impressing his agenda on the United States and the world, is all about using the full tool kit of the White House. Probably the most powerful tool in that kit is the allure of the White House itself. An invitation to have a cup of coffee with the President of the United States is irresistible to almost anyone in the world, (except the President of Mexico, apparently, but I suspect this is mainly posturing). It is particularly attractive to members of official Washington on both sides of the aisle. For an incoming President, making time to shake hands with potentially useful Congressmen is a force multiplier. So is sitting down with the captains of industry and union leaders.

While the pussy capped ninnies paraded in the streets about just what an awful man Trump is, Trump was in the process of building his own bully pulpit. (“Bully” in the sense Teddy Roosevelt used that word.) He is also making it very clear, particularly to the press, that he is indifferent, if not actively hostile, towards negative opinions of his person or work. He and his staff are not even pretending to take the mainstream media seriously which seems to be resulting in ever shriller and therefore credibility destroying efforts on MSM’s part to demonise Trump and all his works.

After a week of President Trump a bit of an outline is emerging: “Do what you said you were going to do.” “Use the power of the White House to build up a bit of a favour bank.” “Ignore the media when not actively making fun of them.” “Behave seriously but enjoy the office.” If Trump can keep it up he may have a shot at being a genuinely great President.

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Denial

Last year’s media have suddenly discovered that the CIA on not very much evidence have reached a “consensus” that the evil Vlad caused his flying monkeys to hack the DNC servers and access material which was then used via Wikileaks to help crush Hilly so The Donald could win the Presidency. Apparently, this is the biggest political story ever!

Or not.

Probably not. Quick, name a revelation from the Wikileaks trove which would have caused people to switch their vote from Hilly to Trump? Stumped? So am I. I read a lot of the leaks and, while they certainly revealed a rather unpleasant culture of entitlement and corruption at the DNC, there was nothing which was terrifically shocking.

This is just one of the Dem narratives designed to call into question Trump’s legitimacy as President. There are also loser ideas like Steve Bannon being a secret white supremacist, the whole “fake news” lunacy aided and abetted by a brilliant WaPo confection which was sourced to an anonymous website, and, of course, the “billionaire has business interests” routine and shrill cries of “popular vote” as if it mattered. None of it seems to be sticking because none of it has much substance.

What these narratives share in common is the fact the Dems and their enabling media cannot quite bring themselves to accept that the “deplorables” won the election. As Trump goes about assembling one of the most impressive Cabinets in recent memory, the Dems cling to the idea that he can’t really be President. They want a do over.

As each new anti-Trump narrative is run up the media flagpole Trump’s polling popularity inches up. The more desperate the Dems sound the more inclined the general population is to give Trump a chance. The shriller the special snowflakes’ angst becomes the more inclined normal Americans are to be rid of the idiots. Calling Trump an “orange Nazi” may make the snowflakes feel better but it is not likely to make them any less odious.

Trump is going to be President. The only remaining question is whether the Democratic Party is going to be an effective opposition or if it is going to give itself over to denialist tantrums for the next few years. My bet is tantrums.

Trump is also going to be a President who does not need and will not bow to the pathetic mainstream media. As I suggested a month ago, a good place to start would be exiling the White House Press corps from the White House. Putting the media in their place after their awful election coverage is a luxury Trump can afford. The Press needs the President far more than the President needs the Press.

Ultimately Trump will be judged on his performance. To date, he seems to have a pretty solid grasp of the job ahead. We’ll see how he does in office.

 

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She Skates?

Grrrr….

There is just so much wrong with this: http://nypost.com/2016/11/22/trump-wont-pursue-charges-against-clinton/

First off, it is not Trump’s decision to make. The basic principle is that the Attorney General makes the call as to whether and when to appoint a special prosecutor. That is designed to prevent politics from getting in the way of the operation of law.

Second, sending your ex-campaign manager off to deliver the news is entirely wrong. If you are serious you need to appear serious. Either Sessions or Trump himself should have dropped this particular bomb. Coming from Kerryanne Conway it is not in the least clear what, in fact, was decided. Does this mean there will be no investigation ever? Or is it the current view of the incoming administration subject to revision in the light of new evidence. Does it just include Hilly or does the “stay” include the Clinton Foundation, Huma, Cheryl Mills and so on?

Third, what does it say about the idea of the rule of law? It is all very well to talk about “healing” but not at the expense of having a justice system which operates differently for elite players.

I completely understand the impulse to be gracious in victory and to avoid even the appearance of trying to jail your political opponent. At that level it is a political decision and one which might be defended at a political level. However, at a process level and a legal level, this is exactly the sort of seat of the pants decision making which creates contempt for the Office of the Presidency.

Not smart Trump, not smart at all.

UPDATE: 

“I’m not looking to go back through this,” he explained to reporters at the New York Timesoffices on Tuesday.

When asked if he was taking prosecution off of the table, Trump said “no,” but he appeared eager to move on.

“My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward,” he said. “This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.“

Trump argued against prosecuting the Clintons, suggesting that it would be better for the country and his administration if they moved on.

“I think it would be very, very divisive for the country,” he said. breitbart

That leaves the door open but it is still a lousy way to deal with a question of law. Nice as it is for Trump to have an “inclination” the correct way to proceed is to leave the door wide open until Sessions is confirmed by the Senate and has conduct of the file(s).

Part of the reason for electing Trump was to restore some semblance of the rule of law and respect for process. Short cutting that process is not helping.

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racist/homophobic/islamophobic/fascist/nazi poopy pants

Trump, Hitler, Dr. DawgHoward Dean is a proven idiot but he eliminated any doubt on Evan Solomon’s show by announcing, “He appoints a reasonable person, who’s much more conservative than I am, but someone you can talk to, as his Chief of Staff — and then the senior adviser’s a Nazi,” link

Keith Olbermann has examined the evidence and arrived at the conclusion Trump’s campaign manager, Kerryanne Conway is a fascist. link

My pal Dr. Dawg is happy to announce today that “Donald Trump, [who] is busy at the moment staffing the White House with fascists.” link Dawg goes on to talk about how he “prefer(s) to focus on Trump and his Fourth Reich supporters” in the comments. (link)

I get that these poor people are beside themselves with anti-Trump hysteria. But to go direct to “Nazi” or “fascist” or misogynist or racist suggests a degree of intellectual laziness which does not bode well for the left’s capacity to rebound from the shock of the Trump victory.

It also suggests that the left is under the illusion that these epithets still have much power. Even ten years ago calling someone a racist was a really powerful slur. It signified because it was a word which actually meant something. Now, people are called racist for saying that “all lives matter” or that open borders have real costs. Apparently, you can be labelled an anti-Semite because someone you don’t know and certainly don’t countenance has said something anti-Semitic somewhere on the internet which has nothing to do with your own patch of the net. All that needs to happen is that these people have to vaguely endorse your site.

No one really knows what goes on in Howard Dean’s rather worn out brain but when Solomon followed up on his Nazi remark he said vis a vis Bannon,

“Well, he’s anti-Semitic, he’s anti-black and he’s anti-women.”

“It’s a big word,” he said. “I don’t usually use it unless somebody’s really anti-Semitic, really misogynist, really anti-black.” link

Dean seems to think that if someone (in his opinion and without evidence) is “really” some bad things then, well, “He’s a Nazi.”

This is the language of the pure smear. It is not about any sort of political discourse or argument, it is simply taking the worst word you can think of and slapping it on your political opponent. Three-year-olds understand the tactic.

“You’re a poopy pants.” they will merrily cry in the sandbox.

The infantilization of the left, replete with safe spaces, Play-Do, puppies, safety pins continues apace in the face of Trump. I expect we’ll be seeing more acting out as Trump appoints more adults to his Administration. But it is just unfortunate when people who should know better join in the sandbox melee.


Having said all that, it would be wise of Bannon and the rest of the White House team to keep a lot of blue water between themselves and the actual Nazis at the Richard Spencer backed National Policy Institute. The alt-right contains many, often contradictory, strands of thought and blocking the NPI line would be both prudent and right. Bannon says zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and racism, making sure that NPI is pointedly excluded from even a look in at the Trump White House would be a good first step.

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