Sunday, I found myself accidentally at close range of what turned into another big media controversy over President Trump. I was a guest on Fox News’ “Judge Jeanine” (we’ll have a link to that video up elsewhere), appearing right after her monologue in which she called on Paul Ryan to step down as Speaker over House Republicans’ embarrassing failure to pass an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill.

Earlier, Trump had tweeted to his followers to be sure to watch Jeanine Pirro’s show, so the media naturally leaped to the conclusion that he was endorsing her message to Ryan, which had yet to be revealed. Trump has praised Ryan for his efforts, and the White House insists he didn’t know in advance what the Judge would say in her monologue, he was just giving a plug to his friend and supporter’s show.

I think it’s interesting that when it suits the media to depict Trump as a clueless know-nothing, that’s the story; and when it suits them to depict him as a Machiavellian manipulator who was psychic enough to know in advance what Judge Pirro would say, that’s the story.


Trump Budget Breakdown

March 20, 2017

Here is a breakdown of President Trump’s proposed budget that’s making steam shoot out of ears all over Washington. True to his word, he is calling for increases to some agencies, such as Defense and Veterans Affairs, deep cuts to many others and the complete elimination of a number of programs, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. It’s the kind of budget that’s sure to meet fierce opposition even among some Republicans (I support Trump, but I think that eliminating the NEA would be a tragic mistake. While I was among the first to criticize some of the controversial grants to individual artists that it made in the past, the community arts programs that it currently funds help countless children, seed creativity in many fields, and support the arts industry that generates many billions more in tax dollars than the NEA costs.)

The thing to remember is that Presidents’ budgets are never simply rubber-stamped by Congress (Obama’s budgets were unanimously rejected by both Houses.) They just serve as a blueprint for what the President wants, but the final result never reflects exactly that. So Trump decided not to be timid in laying down his priorities. This is his opening bid for the deal negotiation, but he knows the starting point is never where we end up. I’d be very surprised if the final budget is anywhere near this. But if Congress passes a budget at all, at least that will be an improvement over much of the Obama years.