- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2017

President Trump passes a noteworthy milestone on Tuesday. He begins his 33rd day in office — which means he is no longer the shortest-serving president in history — a title his critics likely wish he had obtained. The shortest-serving president on record was William Henry Harrison, who was in the White House for 32 days before he died of pneumonia, brought on by a severe chill on his Inauguration Day in 1841.

“When Trump surpasses Harrison on Tuesday, he will hit yet another political milestone that many Americans thought he would never achieve,” observes Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor. “In what might be described as a perpetual unwillingness over the last 20 months in some quarters to accept reality on reality’s terms, the 45th president has time and time again proven his skeptics wrong and exceeded expectations.”

The professor points out that, among other things, Mr. Trump’s critics never thought he’d actually run for president, win the Republican primary or see the election through to the finish.

“With a colorful first month in office under his belt, and no end of controversy or divisiveness among the public in sight, speculation has already begun of Trump’s eventual impeachment or resignation,” Mr. Ostermeier says. “There is little doubt Trump will continue to disappoint his critics and political opponents as he survives and advances, leaving them in a continued state of bewilderment about his intentions and political longevity.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP VERSUS THE ‘SOFT COUP’

There’s been a lot of chatter in the press about a “shadow presidency” or “shadow government” now poised to challenge President Trump and the White House. It is a popular speculation in the news media, which has been bandying those terms about since Mr. Trump won the election. There’s another term to consider, however: “soft coup,” a variation of the old coup d’etat. And the president may be facing one, some say.

“The soft coup against the Trump administration continues. A soft coup is a coordinated effort to delegitimize or undermine a lawfully elected official,” says Chris Farrell, director of investigations for Judicial Watch. “Soft coups include actions by senior government officials refusing to carry out their roles and critical tasks, or otherwise acting in opposition to the letter or spirit of law to diminish or remove de facto power from those who otherwise would legally wield it.”

Mr. Farrell says shoddy journalism plays a distinct role in the phenomenon.

“Politicized news media can be complicit in the scheme of the soft coup by engaging in false or misleading reporting or acting as the propaganda arms of the opposition,” he says, citing overuse of anonymous sources, an increase in corrected news reports and repeated use of certain key words as giveaways.

“How many times have you seen the word ‘chaos’ in the reporting on President Trump?” he asks. “Before our highly politicized news media slides into complete irrelevancy, I strongly advise reporters and editors to pause and evaluate their reporting — set aside personal biases, reinvigorate journalistic standards — then get back to reporting facts.”

VOTERS SIDE WITH TRUMP ON ISIS

President Trump’s belief that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to America is one of the primary reasons behind his temporary hold on refugees from seven nations. There has been an outcry from those who believe the travel restriction constitutes a “Muslim ban.” Nevertheless, most voters side with the president, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey.

It finds that 80 percent of likely U.S. voters consider radical Islamic terrorism “a serious threat to America,” including 54 percent who consider it a “very serious” threat. Nineteen percent feel radical Islamic terrorism is not a serious threat, but that includes just 3 percent who say it is “not at all serious.”

THE GROCERY CART SURGE

The cost of groceries is surging. Between 2006 and 2016, the price of typical grocery items has increased by 28 percent, according to an analysis by WallStreet24/7.com. Based on the Consumer Price Index and Labor Bureau statistics, the organization has figured out the top 20 items driving up the tab. Yes, bacon is on the list.

Tobacco products are in first place, with a price increase of 90 percent. In second: margarine, up 64 percent, followed by ground beef (46 percent), seafood (45 percent), prescription drugs (43 percent), pasta and rice (40 percent), bread (39 percent), snack foods (38 percent), poultry including turkey (37 percent) and apples (37 percent).

In 11th place, it’s hot dogs with a 36 percent price increase, followed by canned vegetables (35 percent), seasonings, including salt and spices (34 percent), butter and assorted fats (increasing from 34 percent to 52 percent for peanut butter), dried fruits and beans (33 percent), bacon (also up 33 percent), fresh whole chicken (32 percent), cakes and cookies (32 percent), flour (32 percent) and canned fruits (32 percent).

FOXIFIED

It is always helpful to have a public dialogue about complex issues. Fox News offers a town hall on Tuesday, broadcast live from Jacksonville, Florida, exploring immigration, focusing on its impact on national security and jobs. Among those on stage before an audience of voters: Rep. Ron DeSantis, Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez, three immigration lawyers, Sarah Saldana, former ICE director, plus a local sheriff. Martha MacCallum is the moderator; things get underway at 7 p.m.

POLL DU JOUR

• 80 percent of small-business owners are confident in the future of their business.

• 78 percent say their business is already growing.

• 57 percent expect their employees’ compensation to increase in the next 12 months.

• 53 percent say that the national economy has improved in the past year; 43 percent expect to hire more employees in the next year.

Source: A National Small Business Association survey of 1,426 small-business owners conducted Jan. 16-Feb. 8 and released Friday.

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