Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Il miglior fabbro

The smartest piece I've seen so far about Trump's early days is from Victor Davis Hanson. You should read the whole thing, but Hanson brings up two points that are worthy of our attention. First, the current state of the Democrats:
The Democratic party has been absorbed by its left wing and is beginning to resemble the impotent British Labour party. Certainly it no longer is a national party. Mostly it’s a local and municipal coastal force, galvanized to promote a race and gender agenda and opposed to conservatism yet without a pragmatic alternative vision. Its dilemma is largely due to the personal success but presidential failure of Barack Obama, who moved the party leftward and yet bequeathed an electoral matrix that will deprive future national candidates of swing-state constituencies without compensating for that downside with massive minority turnouts, which were unique to Obama’s candidacy.
I've seen this argument made before and it's essentially spot-on. You've probably seen this map, or something similar to it:

Blue fringe
It's getting close to impossible to elect a Democrat in large sections of the country. Many of the bright blue splotches in the seas of red represent major metropolitan areas, but it's become clear that the Democrats can't even compete in a lot of places.

That's the world Trump works in at the moment. And yet some people who might otherwise support his policies are arrayed against him. Back to Hanson:
Usually conservative pundits and journalists would push back against this extraordinary effort to delegitimize a Republican president. But due to a year of Never Trump politicking and opposition, and Trump’s own in-your-face, unorthodox style and grating temperament, hundreds of Republican intellectuals and journalists, former officeholders and current politicians — who shared a common belief that Trump had no chance of winning and thus could be safely written off — find themselves without influence in either the White House or indeed in their own party, over 90 percent of which voted for Trump. In other words, the Right ruling class is still in a civil war of sorts.
Hanson thus holds up a mirror to my face. I do find Trump grating. I wish he didn't speak elliptically and garble his messages. Having said that, I see no reason to sandbag him, or his administration. Up to this point, he hasn't pursued any disastrous policies, and it doesn't appear he will, based on the people he has around him. If Trump pursues policies that are contrary to the nation's interests, I will oppose him. Up to this point, he hasn't.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Boozin' on Sunday

As most readers of this feature know, I grew up in Wisconsin, where you can buy alcohol pretty much any time you'd like, any day you'd like. When I moved here nearly 25 years ago, I was surprised to learn that you couldn't buy alcohol on Sunday in Minnesota, aside from warm 3.2 beer. That may change now, the Star Tribune reports:
The Minnesota House passed a bill on Monday legalizing the retail sale of alcohol on Sundays, but tipplers must win over a more resistant Senate before they can buy their beer, wine and spirits any day of the week.

This is the first time in state history that a legislative chamber has passed a bill overturning the Sunday ban, a law that has been in effect since statehood in 1858 and remained in place after Prohibition.

“It’s time to bring Minnesota liquor laws into the 21st century,” said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, the bill’s chief author.
For the most part, blue laws are gone, although you can't buy a car in Minnesota on Sunday, either.  It's never been a major problem for me, since I don't drink much any more, but if you are throwing a football party or something similar, it's nice to have options other than piling in the car and driving to Hudson.

While the Star Tribune article reports that passage in the Senate is far from certain, it's possible we could have a change soon. This is a classic battle of special interests:
A wall of interest group opposition has for years stymied efforts to end the ban. It is led by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars and liquor stores that prefer the status quo and fear the end of the Sunday ban will lead to a cascade of deregulation — and with it, new competition — in what is currently a heavily regulated industry.

Tony Chesak, executive director of the group, issued a statement calling the vote “one step in a long legislative process.” Ending the prohibition, Chesak said, would “raise costs for small, family-owned businesses and consumers.”

Deregulating the liquor industry would “lead to reduced choices for consumers and the un-leveling of the playing field in favor of big box retailers,” he said.

A wave of lobbying muscle on the other side, led by such retailers as Total Wine, has weakened resistance to Sunday sales.
There's little question that Total Wine's entry into the market has made a difference. We have one nearby in Roseville, and the sheer scope of the enterprise makes smaller liquor stores seem inferior. I've mostly bought my booze from one of the two municipal liquor stores in Saint Anthony, although there are several other choices nearby. If I were looking to have a big blowout, I'd probably go to Total Wine -- the only reason I avoid going there is because it's too close to Rosedale Mall and I'm not a fan of the crowds or traffic in the area. Yeah, I'm getting cranky. Not as cranky as one of the foes of Sunday sales, however. Back to the Strib article:
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said it was a “libertine” measure representing “licentious freedom.”

“I grew up in a time where adults limited and restricted their freedoms for the benefit of children, when it came to a product that has severe negative consequences,” he said.
How do I put this delicately? Gruenhagen is a moron.

On balance, I think opening sales up on Sunday is the right thing to do. Municipal liquor stores are a dubious enterprise on a number of levels, even though I currently use one. I'll be watching the results, more as an academic exercise than anything else.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New York conversations

So what is a New York conversation? Around the time it came out, I remember reading an old Robert Christgau review of Lou Reed's album, "New York," from 1989:
Protesting, elegizing, carping, waxing sarcastic, forcing jokes, stating facts, garbling what he just read in the Times, free-associating to doomsday, Lou carries on a New York conversation--all that's missing is a disquisition on real estate. 
If you substitute "Trump" for "Lou," that's a perfect description of Trump's speaking style. And because he's into free-associating, he gets himself in trouble. But is it really trouble? Let's consider the latest outrage that was all over the ol' social media feed this weekend, the incident in Sweden that didn't happen:
Here’s the bottom line. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world.
Did anything specific happen in Sweden the other night? No. But that's not what Trump was saying. At the link, John Hinderaker does a good job of Trumpsplaining:
Yes. Or, in other words, “having problems like they never thought possible.” Liberals pretended not to understand Trump’s point, and made believe that Trump was talking about a phantom terrorist attack on Friday night. The Swedish government even joined in the faux mirth. The linked AP story is deeply dishonest. It joins in the absurd misinterpretation of Trump’s remarks, and never even mentions what he actually said about Sweden: “Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” But dishonesty has become a daily occurrence at the Associated Press.
And the story? This is what the Associated Press had to say:
On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to explain: "My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden." A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, says that Trump was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general, not referring to a specific issue.

The president may be referring to a segment aired Friday night on the Fox News Channel show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 of the migrants had found jobs in Sweden. The report, which was illustrated with video of broken windows and fires, went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.
Are the assertions made on Carlson's show accurate? The AP doesn't tell us. But the New York Times reported as much last year:
Sweden, once one of the most welcoming countries for refugees, on Tuesday introduced tough new restrictions on asylum seekers, including rules that would limit the number of people granted permanent residency and make it more difficult for parents to reunite with their children.

The government said the legislation, proposed by the Social Democrat minority government and enacted by a vote of 240 to 45, was necessary to prevent the country from becoming overstretched by the surge of migration to Europe that began last year.

The country, which has a population of 9.5 million, took in 160,000 asylum seekers last year.
To be clear, the "last year" in the linked piece refers to 2015, but from what we know most of those refugees are still in Sweden. How about the 500 jobs? Here's a report from the Independent from about six months ago:
Sweden used to be one of Europe’s most popular destinations for migrants, with the number of asylum applications doubling between 2014 and 2015 to more than 160,000.

A high success rate – 55 per cent of claims were accepted in 2015 – combined with generous welfare benefits for asylum seekers, and a comparatively welcoming population, made the country extremely popular with people fleeing war and persecution, and left the Scandinavian nation with the second highest number of refugees per capita in Europe.

But for many asylum seekers who arrived during the influx last year, Sweden has proved less of a utopia than they hoped. Many faced a long, cold winter in political limbo, camped out in makeshift accomodation while the state struggled to cope with the large number of new claims. Less than 500 of the 160,000 arrivals have managed to secure jobs.
Maybe, pace Christgau, Trump was free associating to doomsday and garbled what he read in the Times. That might be an overly charitable assessment of what Trump said the other day, but it's closer to true than asserting Trump had claimed a terror attack had occurred in Sweden. Back to Hinderaker:
As happens so often, liberals think they are scoring points against Trump when in fact they are making fools of themselves. As Trump said, Sweden has imported too many refugees, and the results aren’t pretty. Most are living off the government, and some are committing crimes, especially sex crimes. 
Hinderaker even produces a chart that documents the significant uptake in sex crime activity, which you can see at the link.

As always, I go back to the valuable observation of Salena Zito:
When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
If you watch a Trump rally, that's the response of the people who support him. The challenge for those of us who aren't on the Trump train, but who recognize the mendacity of those who would destroy Trump, is how to suss all this out.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The toy department

A question that answers itself:
“How many sportswriters have you seen on Twitter defending Donald Trump?” asked the baseball writer Rob Neyer. “I haven’t seen one. I’m sure there must have been a few writers out there who did vote for him, but there’s a lot of pressure not to be public about it.”
Just like real life, actually. I recommend the linked article from Bryan Curtis because it confirms something you've most likely sensed for a long time. It also explains why the portsiders who are now firmly in control of the sports media intend to keep things just as they are.

Goodbye and Good Riddance

Out they go:
The two highest-profile public officials on the U.S. Bank Stadium oversight commission stepped down Thursday amid growing legislative and public pressure over their use of two luxury suites to host friends, family and political allies at games and concerts.

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), announced her resignation early in the day, saying the decision was her own. By early afternoon, Executive Director Ted Mondale resigned rather than face an impending vote to remove him.
It's not every day that a Mondale gets removed from a governmental position, but the corruption from the MSFA was too much and Mondale was up to his eyeballs in it. We have our royal families in Minnesota and the key player in yet another of those families, Gov. Mark Dayton, was still not 100% with the new program:
The departures came as state legislators move to overhaul the MSFA’s structure, claiming lax management and oversight by the pair. Gov. Mark Dayton, who had been supportive of the two, said their resignations would “enable the authority to move ahead and, hopefully, allow everyone to regain perspective” on the stadium.

The DFL governor praised Mondale and Kelm-Helgen for “commendable” and “exceptional” work and pledged to work with legislators on the future of the MSFA.

“Everybody’s still kind of taking stock of what’s occurred” in the past 24 hours, Dayton said.
In this instance, "regaining perspective" means no longer paying attention to the men and women behind the curtain. More changes are likely coming. We'll keep watching.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thinking about Flynn

I'm still thinking about the long-term use of this space and whether political commentary should play such a major role in it. Regular commenter Jerry suggested that one use of the blog should be to explain things clearly:
We know you have clear opinions about what SHOULD be happening. Just contrast news reports with that and let us sort out the inconsistencies. 
So on that note, let's consider the distinctions between the Wikileaks postings of John Podesta's hacked computer vs. the current leaking that brought down Michael Flynn.

  • It is possible that the Russian government, or an affiliated entity, was involved in the hack of Podesta. There is no evidence that anyone from the federal government was involved.
  • It is without question that federal government officials, who prefer to be anonymous, were involved in the Flynn incident.
  • Podesta was not a government official at the time his computer was hacked.
  • Flynn was not a government official yet, but was going to be.
  • We can accurately gauge the validity of the Podesta materials, because they are posted for all to see.
  • We cannot gauge the validity of the Flynn materials, because the information is classified.
The last point is crucial. Andy McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor who now writes for National Review, has a useful suggestion for how we might get at the truth about Michael Flynn's actions:

The Flynn affair is a tale of intrigue, with head-spinning twists and turns, manipulative spies, narrative-weaving pols, and strategists who mostly outsmart themselves. It is easy to get lost in the weeds. There is one easy way to get to the bottom of it, though — one way to get a real sense of whether General Michael Flynn, the now-former national-security adviser, is a lying rogue who deceived every Trump administration official in sight, or the victim of an elaborate “deep state” scam whose real objective is to destroy not merely Flynn but the Trump presidency.

Let’s go to the audio tape: the government’s recording of a December 29, 2016, conversation, intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that Flynn had with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. 
Releasing would solve the mystery. But it's not likely to happen. McCarthy explains why:
For now, the so-called deep state — the intelligence operatives and highly placed officials who run the United States government because they have the power to ruin their opposition — would apparently prefer that we not hear the tape. Many of them are Obama functionaries who are content to shape opinion by leaking their edited version of events to media allies. Some of them are Trump functionaries whose mishandling of what may be a tempest in a teapot has made them vulnerable less than four weeks into the new administration.
So as you consider recent events and their presentation, it's crucial to understand you only know what you are being told. McCarthy also explains the motive:
Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, is not just a long-time intelligence veteran. He was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). How could he not have realized that, even in the best of times, Russian officials are routinely monitored under FISA — and this, far from the best of times, was a time of high suspicion? It seems inconceivable that Flynn did not consider the likelihood, the virtual certainty, that he was calling a wiretapped line, that his call would be recorded and reviewed by the intelligence community — a community he was part of and has made a business of antagonizing since being fired by Obama in 2014.

Even if the call had been prearranged by text messages (the two men have known each other since Flynn’s DIA days), how could Flynn have gone through with it when Obama’s announcement of punitive measures that very day made it a certainty that Kislyak would mention them? It makes no difference that Flynn had no intention or authority to make a deal with Russia on Trump’s behalf. If Kislyak broached the subject of relief from Obama’s actions — something that Flynn would be powerless to prevent him from doing — it could then be reported, accurately if misleadingly, that they had “discussed the sanctions.”

That was all the Democrats needed.
Indeed. Narratives are everything and Team Trump has lost control of the narrative, just as Team Hillary did when the Podesta materials were decanted at Julian Assange's direction. Trump has myriad ways to seize control of the narrative. He'd better get to it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Incentives

The Deep State is on offense now following the successful hit on Michael Flynn. And as usual, the whole thing is straight out of the funhouse, as Eli Lake, an old hand himself, writes for Bloomberg:
It's not even clear that Flynn lied. He says in his resignation letter that he did not deliberately leave out elements of his conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he recounted them to Vice President Mike Pence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the transcript of the phone call reviewed over the weekend by the White House could be read different ways. One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That's neither illegal nor improper.  
Then again, the Russians have problems of their own:
Meanwhile Trump, who some believe is under Putin’s control, is focused on driving down oil and gas prices and pushing NATO to increase defense spending, both of which are hard blows to Russia. Trump is also promoting pro-growth policies which will help fund a military buildup and modernization.

Russia has no prayer of matching this. 
Putin has real problems, with no real solutions.

Trump is confronting Putin with challenges he cannot overcome, which will only grow worse over time.

The idea that Russia is capable of embarking on a new Cold War against the United States is laughable.

Russia is only considered to be a country of the first rank because of its nuclear arsenal. But that arsenal is useless, other than as a deterrent to invasion, or as a way to commit suicide. No one is going to invade Russia any time soon. More importantly, Putin and his cronies are not suicidal. Putin may even be the richest man in the world. Putin and his posse have a nice life, and a lot to lose. They likely want to enjoy the benefits of their despotism in peace, not see their dachas reduced to radioactive ash.
What we're seeing, both from the Russians and from the Deep State, is a group of people who are scared to death and defending their prerogatives. Back to Lake:
Flynn was a fat target for the national security state. He has cultivated a reputation as a reformer and a fierce critic of the intelligence community leaders he once served with when he was the director the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. Flynn was working to reform the intelligence-industrial complex, something that threatened the bureaucratic prerogatives of his rivals.

He was also a fat target for Democrats. Remember Flynn's breakout national moment last summer was when he joined the crowd at the Republican National Convention from the dais calling for Hillary Clinton to be jailed.
Trump is getting a message -- stay in your lane. We'll know soon enough if he accepts the message.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

He's a helper. He helps.

Mitch Berg, doing the taxonomy thing again.

Just read it.

Flynn is out

I have to admit I barely knew he was in:
President Donald Trump's embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump's senior team after less than one month in office.

In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Vice President Mike Pence and others "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.
Sounds like he screwed up. Sounds like he needed to go. It also sounds like the Deep State was involved. You might recognize one name here:
A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.

An administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed the Justice Department warnings on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was unclear when Trump and Pence learned about the Justice Department outreach.

The Washington Post was the first to report the communication between former acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, and the Trump White House. The Post also first reported last week that Flynn had indeed spoken about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
Let's tally it up:

  • An anonymous "U.S. official" leaked to the Associated Press
  • An "administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation" confirmed the story, even though "they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly"
  • Sally Yates, who Trump ashcanned two weeks ago was involved in the whole mess
  • Apparently it's okay to let reporters know when we are bugging phone conversations
None of this should be particularly surprising. Part of the game has been slow-walking Trump's team through the confirmation process, which allows Obama-era holdovers like Sally Yates to throw sand in the gears. They are doing what they do.

I hold no brief for Flynn. If what has been reported is true, he was reckless at best. As long as Barack Obama was president, Flynn had no business conducting any diplomacy. And if he lied to Mike Pence, he had to go.

The lesson should be clear to Trump -- he can't trust anyone in Washington that he didn't bring in personally. We'll see if he's capable of learning.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Whole lotta spillway going on

The one thing about California -- there's a whole lot of it. And infrastructure is a big problem:
At least 188,000 people remain under evacuation orders after Northern California authorities warned an emergency spillway in the country's tallest dam was in danger of failing Sunday and unleashing uncontrolled flood waters on towns below.

About 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, Lake Oroville is one of California's largest man-made lakes, and the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam is the nation's tallest.

The evacuation was ordered Sunday afternoon after engineers spotted erosion on the dam's secondary spillway. Hours later, panicked and angry people were sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to leave the area.
One of the primary reasons I'm skeptical of California's talk of secession is that the infrastructure problems are so varied and vast. This dam is just one of them, as Victor Davis Hanson points out:
The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income, and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.

Gone With the Wind–like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye. Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside. California is becoming a reactionary two-tier state of masters and serfs whose culture is as peculiar and out of step with the rest of the country as was the antebellum South’s.

The California elite, wishing to keep the natural environment unchanged, opposes internal improvements and sues to stop pipelines, aqueducts, reservoirs, freeways, and affordable housing for the coastal poor.

California’s crumbling roads and bridges sometimes resemble those of the old rural South. The state’s public schools remain among the nation’s poorest. Private academies are booming for the offspring of the coastal privileged, just as they did among the plantation class of the South.
There's a whole lot of Oroville out there. And it's going to continue to get worse.

It's getting difficult

It's becoming damned near impossible to blog about politics these days, because the political world is chock to the brim with unreliable narrators. I can't trust anything I read about Trump in the MSM, because they aren't even trying to be objective about what's happening. The right-wing media is either completely on board with whatever Trump is doing, or the few NeverTrumpers around are still fulminating about disputes that were resolved months ago.

Until and unless we start to get some clarity, I'm not sure what to do. I suspect we may be changing gears around here, at least for a while.

Wit

I was waiting up for my daughter to get back from her drumline show on Saturday night, so I decided to actually watch Saturday Night Live. Apparently dressing Melissa McCarthy up as Sean Spicer and having her attack Cecily Strong with a cordless leaf blower is the soul of wit these days. Thought you'd want to know.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Meanwhile, also on the Left Coast

The problem with pensions continues to get worse in California. Walter Russell Mead has noticed:
For a state talking about “Calexit” and boasting about the vibrance of its economy and its non-Trumpian politics, the pensions crisis is a highly inconvenient reality. The state’s finances aren’t in as good shape as they appear on paper, its governance isn’t sustainable (you can’t keep giving public sector workers benefits raises ad infinitum), and its leaders don’t seem serious enough to even acknowledge the magnitude of the problem.
The numbers CalPERS expected are, well, absurd. Mead quotes from a Reuters piece that lays it out:
California Public Employees' Retirement System expects a 5.8 percent annual investment return under its new portfolio asset allocation, significantly lower than the fund's assumed rate of return of 7 percent by 2020.

The reduced expectation, disclosed late Monday in documents from the largest U.S. public pension fund, is based on a lower-risk, lower-return asset allocation adopted by CalPERS in September and announced in December.

CalPERS' caution mirrors outlooks from public pension funds across the United States as they try to grapple with investment forecasts of slow market growth over the next decade.
Do you get a 7% rate of return? It's difficult to see that happening. Back to Mead:
California has vibrant industries and a large tax base, but people and companies can move to less costly states. Increasingly, many of them are doing just that—take out immigrants, and California has experienced a net exodus in recent years. The aging population exacerbates the pensions crisis. Fewer working people as a percentage of the population will hurt the tax base and make it even harder to fund pensions.
California will be coming, hat in hand, to Uncle Sam in due course. Uncle Sam has no money, either, and California will be standing in line with Illinois, New Jersey, and a bunch of other states that made promises they can't keep. Maybe the 9th Circuit can make some arrangements.

De minimis

My portside social media posse is deliriously happy because the 9th Circuit backstopped one its judges on Trump's executive order. I don't think it will matter very much. Trump has multiple options:

  • He can let the parallel case in Boston work its way through and the matter will need to be adjudicated at the Supreme Court, where he will have an excellent chance to prevail; or
  • He can alter the order slightly and ram it home again; or
  • He can change course.
He won't take the latter approach, but either of the first two will work. As John Hinderaker points out, the relevant statute makes it clear that Trump has the power to take action:
Remarkably, the Ninth Circuit decision fails ever to mention the relevant portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §1182(f), which provides:

(f) Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

That's about as categorical as it gets. Unless the plaintiffs in this case are prepared to argue that the Immgration and Nationality Act is unconstitutional, which they have not, Trump will eventually prevail. I'm betting Trump will pick the second option.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

They didn't ask me, but. . .

. . . this seems right:
The Trump administration is more trusted than the news media among voters, according to a new Emerson College poll.

The administration is considered truthful by 49 percent of registered voters and untruthful by 48 percent.

But the news media is less trusted than the administration, with 53 percent calling it untruthful and just 39 percent finding it honest.
I finished college just before the Derrida/Foucault wave really hit my campus, so I can't claim any specific expertise involving post-structuralism, but it seems we're here. Here is a quick and dirty definition of post-structuralism:

 In the Post-Structuralist approach to textual analysis, the reader replaces the author as the primary subject of inquiry and, without a central fixation on the author, Post-Structuralists examine other sources for meaning (e.g., readers, cultural norms, other literature, etc), which are are therefore never authoritative, and promise no consistency. A reader's culture and society, then, share at least an equal part in the interpretation of a piece to the cultural and social circumstances of the author. 
Some of the key assumptions underlying Post-Structuralism include:
  • The concept of "self" as a singular and coherent entity is a fictional construct, and an individual rather comprises conflicting tensions and knowledge claims (e.g. gender, class, profession, etc). The interpretation of meaning of a text is therefore dependent on a reader's own personal concept of self.
  • An author's intended meaning (although the author's own identity as a stable "self" with a single, discernible "intent" is also a fictional construct) is secondary to the meaning that the reader perceives, and a literary text (or, indeed, any situation where a subject perceives a sign) has no single purpose, meaning or existence.
  • It is necessary to utilize a variety of perspectives to create a multi-faceted interpretation of a text, even if these interpretations conflict with one another.
This is a great approach to take, so long as you are able to control how things are interpreted, and the Left has exercised this control in the main for the last 50 years. It's also a great approach if you're into gaslighting. The key to making post-structuralism work for you is to ensure the "variety of perspectives" brought to bear in the interpretation support your agenda. It's also a great way to drain meaning from anything you find uncongenial to your agenda.

I don't know if Trump ever studied such things, but he understands the value of the strategies one can take from draining meaning from an author. As soon as the idea of "fake news" began to take root, his team grabbed it and placed the label on his opponents. Trump is violating ethics rules left and right? Fake news. Trump is Hitler? Fake news. And if it is true that Trump has marginally more credibility than his critics, his interpretation will prevail. And the continual rage on the Left merely reinforces the idea that a more leftist interpretation of events is something that can be ignored. As long as Trump doesn't blink, he'll continue to win the larger arguments. I've seen thousands of examples of people on social media bashing Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. They are both in office today.