Tough guy!

Sure, official presidential portraits are a small thing, but like so much else, I think this adds some fairly transparent insight into Donald Trump’s simple mind.  You can practically see him thinking, “look how tough I look.  I am the toughest.”  I swear, my first reaction to this was that it reminded me of the look you’d get from a 10-year old kid (I have experience with those) when you tell them to look tough.  A little more on the matter and the oddness of it at Vox.

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This is our president

What does it say about our country that we elected (and nearly half support) a completely unmoored narcissist?  Nothing good, that’s for sure.  And even though we’ve had plenty of time to get used to Trump, it still is pretty amazing to be reminded time and time again in such dramatic ways what a breathtakingly emotionally immature person he is.  Jenna Johnson on last night’s TV interview:

The way President Trump tells it, the meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved speech that he gave at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters was one of the greatest addresses ever given.

“That speech was a home run,” Trump told ABC News just a few minutes into his first major television interview since moving into the White House. “See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.”

The most powerful man in the world continued: “You probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. … People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. … That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did.”

Trump brushed off the suggestion that it was disrespectful to deliver Saturday’s speech — which included musings about magazine covers and crowd sizes — in front of a hallowed memorial to CIA agents killed in the line of duty. He insisted that the crowd was filled with “the people of the CIA,” not his supporters, and could have been several times larger than it was. Had a poll been taken of the 350-person audience to gauge the speech’s greatness, Trump said the result would have been “350 to nothing” in his favor.

The lengthy interview, which aired late Wednesday night, provided a glimpse of the president and his state-of-mind on his fifth full day in office. It revealed a man who is obsessed with his own popularity and eager to provide evidence of his likability, even if that information doesn’t match reality.

Trump insisted that he could have “very, very easily” won the popular vote in the election — which concluded more than 11 weeks ago — had he simply tried. He again suggested that Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because of widespread voter fraud, of which there is no evidence. He hinted that he thinks voter fraud might have also helped elect former president Barack Obama, whose favorability ratings were higher than his on Inauguration Day. He justified some of his unsubstantiated claims by saying that millions of his supporters agree with him. He did acknowledge that his own approval rating is “pretty bad,” but he blamed that on the media.

Trump plugged an “extraordinary poll” that he said found that people “loved and liked” his inaugural address. He again claimed to have “the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches” and accused the media of demeaning his supporters by underreporting turnout. Trump also took credit for the Dow Jones industrial average closing above 20,000 for the first time on Wednesday, referred to a former rival as “one of the combatants that I fought to get here” and said that a recent visitor told him that their meeting “was the single greatest meeting I’ve ever had with anybody.”

I think there’s plenty of use for “most” and “greatest” with Trump, but here in the real world, those are not going to be positive words following “most” and “greatest.”

How to lose the War on Terror

Robin Wright:

On Wednesday, a draft executive order circulated that would call for an end to all processing and admission of Syrian refugees in the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made.” The arrival of Temple Sinai’s refugee family, who have been waiting for years and come so close to finding a safe haven, could now be put off indefinitely “or forever,” Dettelbach told me. “They were vetted to an inch of their lives. It’s insane to hold them accountable for what is going on in their country—or in our country.”

The restriction would be part of a wide-ranging, eight-page document titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.” It would also halt all refugee admissions and resettlements from any country for the next four months, to allow for a review of vetting procedures. It would order an immediate thirty-day halt to the admission of all people—even for business or trade, family reasons, humanitarian emergencies, or tourism—from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as Syria. Trump would also cut the number of visas for refugees worldwide by more than half, to fifty thousand, for 2017…

A recent report by the international-security program of New America, a Washington think tank, echoes the Rand study. “Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents,” it said. Even more notable, “every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident. In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration.” …

The terrorism threat from Syrian refugees is low for three reasons, according to Dan Byman, a staff member of the 9/11 Commission, which in 2011 conducted the official inquiry into the Al Qaeda attacks. “First, very few among the refugees support the terrorists,” Byman, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me. “Second, the vetting for the refugees is extensive. Third, the American Muslim community has consistently shown itself to be hostile to terrorism and reports most of the few suspects in their ranks.”

The real danger is the rippling effect that the order would have on allies and enemies—and even at home. Trump’s decision, Byman said, would discourage other countries from taking in refugees. It could legitimize or fuel anti-immigration movements that have been gaining ground across Europe. It could indefinitely set adrift almost five million Syrians sitting in camps in Turkey (2.8 million), Lebanon (one million), Jordan (six hundred and fifty-five thousand), Iraq (two hundred and thirty thousand), and Egypt (a hundred and sixteen thousand), where employment opportunities are often nonexistent and education is limited. The kids have few outlets; they are susceptible to criminal and extremist groups. Inside Syria, another six and a half million people are displaced, or forced from their homes; many want to flee.

Jihadi movements—the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and dozens of smaller groups—will almost certainly exploit the move as proof that the West is at war with world’s 1.7 billion Muslims. In a recruitment video last year, an Al Qaeda branch in Somalia showed footage of Trump, then on the campaign trail, proposing his ban of all Muslims from the United States. [emphasis mine]

Or, nicely summed up in this tweet:

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