NEWS AND OPINION:
Political attacks on President Trump and his administration continue, amplified by media coverage that is often melodramatic, negative and manipulative — long on speculation and short on facts. Jittery voters are continually distracted and often confused by conflicting or shifting news accounts, along with anonymously sourced reporting and an emphasis on a select narratives that incorporate partisan opinion.
But this is the landscape Mr. Trump faces — along with obstruction by Senate Democrats. So far, only a quarter of the president’s nominations for administration posts have been confirmed, according to both the Republican National Committee and the White House itself. By this point in his presidency, 69 percent of former President Obama‘s nominations had been confirmed.
Despite all of this, Mr. Trump has signed 37 bills into law six months into his presidency, more than all four of his predecessors — besting Mr. Obama, who had signed 24 bills by that time in office. At this point in their terms, George W. Bush had signed 15 bills, Bill Clinton 33 bills, and George H.W. Bush 35, according to a report from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Meanwhile, economic indicators released in the last four weeks remain positive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded its 23rd all-time high of 2017 last week; since the Nov. 8 election, it has reached record highs 40 times, says a close analysis by Gateway Pundit. The market is up 9 percent since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, and 17 percent since the election.
There’s more. A Pew Research Center poll conducted in 38 nations found that the U.S. is still considered the world’s leading economy, with China in second place. Meanwhile, 60 percent of U.S. employers plan to hire permanent, full-time workers in the “second half of the year,” according to a Harris Poll while a Harvard University survey found that 55 percent of voters approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling both job creation and the economy.
On Friday, Rasmussen Reports noted that “confidence in personal finances hits a four-year high,” citing their own daily consumer confidence index, up five percentage points this month to 157.3.
“Immediately following the 2016 presidential election, enthusiasm about the economy started to grow and has been on the upswing for six of the last eight months. In President Obama’s final year in office, economic ratings ranged from 112.7 to 122.9,” the pollster noted.
RUSSIA SCANDAL ‘LOOKS DIFFERENT’ BEYOND BELTWAY
There have been emerging squabbles among Republicans, conservatives, Trump backers and anti-Trumpers in the nation’s capital as the Russia collusion matter plays out, writes Jason Willick, a staff writer covering domestic politics and policy for The American Interest.
“And yet despite this unmistakable, watershed shift, Republican voters appear to be (mostly) unmoved. This is a reminder of how marginal D.C. media is when it comes to shaping the opinion of the mass of actual conservatives in the heartland — a lesson learned during the primary election, but worth keeping in mind during this tumultuous time as well,” Mr. Willick reasons. “The D.C. media environment is a simply a different world from what most conservative voters are exposed to. As long as the GOP controls both houses of Congress, it’s possible for a scandal to play out 24/7 for months on virtually all mainstream media platforms without it actually moving the needle politically.”
AND THE RUSSIA NUMBERS
The aforementioned Jason Willick is right about Republican voters, according to an ABC/Washington Post poll released Sunday, which found that 60 percent of Americans say Russia meddled in the 2016 campaign.
“The number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who think that the Russians sought to influence the election, and that the Trump team intentionally helped them, has fallen from 18 percent in April to 9 percent now, indicating even stiffer GOP resistance to the idea. Among leaned Democrats it’s gone from 60 to 64 percent, not a significant shift,” the poll analysis said.
“Differences among groups mark the partisan nature of these times: At the most extreme, Trump ranges from a 90 percent approval rating among conservative Republicans to 5 percent among liberal Democrats.”
A CHANGING MENU
News from the recent School Nutrition Association, which staged a national conference last week in Atlanta attended by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and some 6,500 professionals in the field.
Among the new “student friendly menu items” which the throng sampled: chicken tikka masala, Thai-style fish tacos, spicy Korean BBQ strips, Southwestern chili con carne, and grass-fed beef burgers.
THE PRICE OF OVERTIME
“The U.S. Postal Service spent $90,000 on overtime to cover for employees who took time off to campaign in advance of the 2016 election,” writes Eric Katz, a correspondent for Government Executive. “Unionized postal workers are allowed to take unpaid leave to engage in official activities on behalf of their labor groups, according to the USPS inspector general, but the agency did not follow proper protocols to ensure it should have granted the time off.”
Ninety-seven letter carriers took leave without pay to “participate in political activities on behalf of” the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) in the months leading up to the November election, Mr. Katz said.
“While the practice of allowing employees to take leave without pay to conduct union business is legal, a spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel said it is coordinating with the Postal Service’s IG to determine whether any of the employees violated the Hatch Act. The IG found in its initial report the employees disproportionately took time off — about 82 percent of the cumulative 2,776 days — in political battleground states in which NALC had endorsed candidates.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 37 percent of Americans agree they are “mostly free” to do what they want in life; 47 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats agree.
• 35 percent of overall feel “somewhat free” to do what they want; 34 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 34 percent of Democrats agree.
• 14 percent overall feel “a little bit free”; 11 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree.
• 7 percent “don’t feel free” to do what they want in life; 4 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A YouGov poll of 6,241 U.S. adults conducted Saturday and released Sunday.
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