Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 11, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page B:4



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 11, 2017 


Mountain Views



Susan Henderson


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Richard Garcia


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Marc Garlett

Keely Toten


 After his speech to a joint session of Congress last week, where President 
Donald Trump successfully managed to read, from a teleprompter, a speech 
that someone else had written for him and not sound barking mad, some 
members of the Beltway punditocracy fell all over themselves to declare 

 It had happened -- that magic moment we’d all been waiting for: Trump 
had, finally, and at long last, made the presidential pivot. He’d finally moved 
past reality TV host and become something approximating statesmanlike.


 By the weekend, Trump was back to his old tricks, ranting on Twitter, without a shred of evidence, 
that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower.

 As expected, Trump’s thus-far groundless complaints devoured the weekend’s news cycle and 
deflected attention away from the woes of embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the endless 
drumbeat of questions about Trump’s -- and his inner circle’s -- ties to Russia.

 But it also provided formal confirmation of something that should be screamingly obvious to 
anyone who doesn’t spend their weekends hurtling up and down the Acela corridor:

 Donald Trump will never “pivot” and become presidential.


 The sooner the Beltway punditocracy accepts this and stops crediting him for getting through a 
speech without saying something completely unhinged, the safer and better off we’re all going to be as 
a nation.

 Since exploding onto the public stage more than 18 months ago, someone, somewhere has declared 
a pivot to the presidential at least a dozen times.

 Donald Trump is 70 years old. If he’d actually pivoted that sharply that many times, he’d need a 
double-hip replacement.

 In case you’re skeptical, the good folks at Slate, last August, compiled a list of alleged Trumpian 
pivots and resets.

 It’s worth reading in full. But here are a few highlights:

 The earliest such instance was last March where Trump finally embraced the teleprompter during a 
speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He was hailed for his sober embrace of policy.

Two days later, he made fun of Ted Cruz’s wife on Twitter, Slate reported.

 Or, there was that time last May where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supposedly 
performed a magical intervention, telling Trump to “cool it.”

 Three days later, Slate recounted, Trump suggested Bill and Hillary Clinton were killers and he 
followed it up by accusing an Indiana-born judge hearing a fraud case against Trump of being biased 
against him because he was of Mexican descent.

 Last July, Trump picked now-Veep Mike Pence as his running-mate, which apparently signaled 
some kind political maturity. During their first public appearance, Trump ignored him for 15 minutes 
and then reminded the crowd that Pence had backed Ted Cruz over him during the primary season. 

 Pence, readers will remember, was also apparently last to know about former National Security 
Adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia problem.

 Perhaps only Ben Kingsley’s Vice President Jim Nance in the 1993 presidential spoof “Dave” has 
suffered more indignities.

 Which brings us to the most recent alleged Trumpian pivot.

 The proximate cause, we were told, was Trump pausing to honor war widow Carryn Owens, whose 
husband, Navy SEAL, William Ryan Owens, was killed in a botched raid in Yemen earlier this year.

 Owens is a hero, no doubt about it. And his wife and family have endured an unspeakable tragedy.

 But the sustained ovation Trump prompted came only hours after he threw his generals under the 
bus and tried to evade responsibility for the botched raid. It was an act whose political cynicism knows 
few parallels.

 It also managed to deflect attention to a speech, while calm and measured in its tones, that actually 
offered little variance from the standard Trumpian script: Tough talk on immigration and an ongoing 
fear of the other.

 Yes, there were some things to like about it - such as a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal. But that 
glossed over Trump’s creation of an office focused on crimes by undocumented immigrants, a move 
that was straight-up fear-mongering.

 “Trump, dare I say, gracefully handed the spotlight to Owens -- even taking a few steps back to let 
her have that moment,” Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza wrote. “For a candidate, a man and 
a president who has shown a stunning inability to ever make it about anyone other than him, it was a 
very deft move.”

 In other words, he didn’t completely bungle it. 

 Which may be the best we can ever expect from him.


© Copyright 2017 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/
The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him 

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Sometimes it’s possible to tell a big story in few words — as 
evidenced by an episode earlier this week that nicely illustrates 
this president’s addiction to infauxmation (via Fox News) and 
blatant lying (via Twitter).

 Basically, it’s a closed loop. Fox News pumps bilge into his brain, and he spews it out 
through his fingers. Here’s how it works:

 At 6:12 a.m. Tuesday, Trump was watching cable, as he is wont to do, and he saw 
this breaking news on Fox: “A win in the war on terror. The Trump administration just 
killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama. Yasir al-Silmi, 
once considered the worst of the worst, killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen. He had 
been released back in 2009 even though the Department of Defense recommended 
that he stay behind bars. One hundred twenty-two prisoners released from Gitmo 
have returned to the battlefield.”

 It was a classic Fox pseudo-story, and it got Trump’s full attention — no surprise, 
given his current heightened obsession with President Obama. It’s true that Yasir 
al-Silmi was released by Obama; it’s true that he was a recidivist who’d returned to 
terrorism. But when Fox said that 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned 
to terrorism, it left the impression — without explicitly saying so — that Obama had 
freed them all.

 So Trump thumbed his phone and explicitly decreed on Twitter that Obama had 
freed them all.

 Trump didn’t bother to run a fact-check, even though presidents have unparalleled 
access to data and stats. Nah, he just tweeted on impulse and animus:

 “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have 
returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!”

 According to facts that are readily available in the real world — facts attributed 
to the U.S. director of national intelligence — 113 of those 122 Gitmo prisoners, 
“confirmed of re-engaging in terrorist activity,” were actually released from Gitmo by 
... George W. Bush.

 And of the 86 Gitmo prisoners who are “suspected on re-engaging in terrorist 
activity,” 75 were released by George W. Bush.

 I suppose this is not a surprise, given Trump’s obsession with spewing fake news 
about Obama — ranging from his multi-year falsehoods about Obama’s place of 
birth to his evidence-free contention that Obama illegally wiretapped his Manhattan 
tower — but it’s instructive nonetheless to track Tuesday’s episode from Fox News’ 
insinuation to Trump’s outright concoction.

 This is the world we now live in, and I almost feel sorry for Sean Spicer (almost), 
because it’s his job to mop up for his boss’ BS. At a press briefing a few hours after 
Trump’s big little lie, Spicer was asked: “Will the president offer a correction to his 
tweet this morning that states that 122 prisoners were released from Gitmo by the 
Obama administration and then returned to the battlefield?”

 Spicer’s reply: “Yes, I mean, obviously the president meant in totality the number 
that had been released on the battlefield — that have been released from Gitmo since 
— individuals have been released. So that is correct.”

 If you can fork your way through that word salad, you’ll discover that Spicer did 
two contradictory things: He basically acknowledged that Trump had lied, but he 
also appeared to insist that Trump’s lie had been inadvertent, because “obviously the 
president meant in totality the number.”

 Whatever. The bottom line is that we’re stuck with a president whose habit is to 
pollute the information stream by taking stuff from Fox News and conflating it into 
fake news. In recent years numerous studies have concluded that Fox devotees are less 
well-informed than those who get most of their news from other outlets. 

 It’s our national tragedy, and an assault on truth itself, that a Fox superfan is 
occupying the White House.


Copyright 2017 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper 

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia 
( and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Pennsylvania. 
Email him at


 Sausage is being made in Washington.

 But you don’t want to watch.

 Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or 
conservative, watching Washington’s sausage being made will make you lose your appetite 
for democracy.

 Whether it’s rewriting tax policy or repealing and replacing Obamacare, I’ve always 
imagined the process starts somewhere in the basement of the Capitol Building…

 A bunch of politicians who couldn’t scramble an egg for their own breakfast are stuffing 
their favorite kinds of pork and spices into a gigantic meat grinder.

 They argue about whose ideas are better and make private deals with each other. All their 
ingredients get smashed and squished together. Stuff falls on the floor.

 Some guys who want to please their special friends back home sneak in crazy stuff at the 
last minute. Others take important stuff out for the same reason.

 The whole dirty legislative process is too gross for anyone with high morals or political 
principles to watch, but in the end it turns out a piece of sausage that everyone in the country 
has to eat whether they like it or not.

 American sausage is not perfect and never will be. And for the last century way too much 
of it has been made by liberals in Washington.

 Now Republicans are trying to reverse things by replacing Obamacare with a huge new 
law that will bring market reforms, lower costs and patient choice to health care.

The whole country has been watching Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the House as 
they try to make their Repeal & Replace sausage — on TV.

 Even with their majorities and a Republican in the White House, Republicans have a lot 
of tough work to do.

 Speaker Ryan, as he explained Thursday, will have to pull out every parliamentary trick in 
the book to slow-walk the Republicans’ conservative sausage through Congress.

 It’s also going to take President Trump and every Republican in Washington to unite and 
work hard to overcome the opposition of Democrats and the liberal media.

The president has to take the lead.

 He needs to meet with the Republican caucus, get everyone on the same page with him 
and lay down the law to any conservatives who are thinking of not supporting Repeal & 

 Too many “pure” conservatives in the Senate, the House Freedom Caucus and at think 
tanks have been criticizing R&R, calling it “Obamacare Lite” and complaining that it doesn’t 
do X or Y or Z. 

 But Republicans who are expecting R&R to be perfect out of the box, or expect it already 
to be totally finished and tied with a nice red bow, are dreaming.

 What’s most important is they need to remember Ronald Reagan’s 80-20 doctrine, which 
said that in Congress no one ever gets 100 percent of what they want in their sausage.

 In the real world that’s the way the lawmaking process works.

Conservative Republicans have to be willing to give a little, be happy to get 80 percent now 
and work on getting the remaining 20 percent they want later.

 Republicans can’t blow this opportunity or they might as well forget tax reform and any 
other big dream for the next four years.

 They need to find a way to come together to make Repeal & Replace work.

 They also have to stay off Fox News and CBS and do their complaining in private. 
Let the Democrats, the pundits and the liberal media do the public criticizing.

 When Republicans add their criticism to the mix, the public perceives Republicans to be 
in absolute disarray while the liberals who gave us Obamacare are unified and look like they 
know what they are doing.

 The only time we should hear a public statement from a Republican Congressman who 
doesn’t like the House’s Repeal & Replace legislation is after it has passed.

 Then he can say, “You know it might not be perfect but it’s a heck of lot better than where 
we were headed under Obamacare.”

 Until that great day, if a Republican doesn’t like the way Paul Ryan is making the R&R 
sausage, he should just shut the hell up.


 Copyright ©2017 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a 
political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is 
the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. 
Visit his websites at and Send comments to Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. 

 Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For 
info on using columns contact Sales at

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