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Analysis: On first day in the White House bubble, no mention of protesters massed outside

By David Nakamura
Analysis: On first day in the White House bubble, no mention of protesters massed outside
Erin Moskowitz, 9, of Pelham, N.Y., who attended the Women's March on Washington with her parents, grandmother and three sisters, finds a perch from which to view the crowd at the Mall. Must credit: Washington Post photo by Michael S. Williamson

The chanting and cheering could be heard Saturday from the White House lawn.

And, if one craned their neck over a shrub or two, the protest signs, in pink and yellow and white, could be seen barely a block away from the West Wing driveway - bobbing along with a slow-moving mass of human bodies, encircling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as close as they could get. But inside the "bubble," as reporters refer to secure perimeter around the president of the United States, the massive women's march on Washington might as well have been in another Zip code.

Neither President Donald Trump nor his staff gave any indication they had seen anything.

Instead, the president and his aides went about their first full day by getting to know their new workplace and the responsibilities that come with it. Staff members began slowly staking claims to offices. Technicians helped activate phones and computers. Press secretary Sean Spicer huddled with staff behind closed doors that less than two days before had belonged to his predecessor, Josh Earnest.

Trump's aides did not appear to venture out for a look at the marchers beyond the gates. The president, meanwhile, busied himself with a mix of tradition - a post-inaugural morning prayer service at Washington National Cathedral - and with business. Trump traveled by motorcade to Langley, Virginia, to meet with CIA leaders and deliver remarks to 400 employees, hoping to ease tensions over Trump's dismissal of the agency's intelligence reports on Russian hacking.

Trump also spoke by phone with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, Spicer later told reporters, and agreed to met. Aides put the finishing touches on Trump's first bilateral summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House on Friday. He also plans to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Jan. 31, Spicer told reporters.

But Trump and his press team offered no public reaction to the dramatic outpouring of emotion, most of it in protest of the new administration, from the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Washington's streets and many more across the country.

"A fantastic day and evening in Washington D.C.," Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning, referring to his inauguration and the balls that followed on the previous day. "Thank you to @FoxNews and so many other news outlets for the GREAT reviews of the speech!"

The first days of any administration are a mix of trying to get up to speed and to hit the ground running in what must be a surreal new environment - thrust into the epicenter of political power, but confined at an artificial remove from the public that you represent.

Rarely, however, has an opening day produced this kind of jarring juxtaposition.

"Family bowling session at The White House," Donald Trump Jr., who does not have an official role in the administration, tweeted in the morning. He added a video of his wife, Vanessa, knocking down eight out of 10 pins in the White House bowling alley.

The video footage appeared to have been shot Friday. But the lighthearted tweet of the Trump family getting comfortable in their new digs was posted as tens of thousands of women in pink p---yhats streamed past the White House toward the Mall for the largest demonstration in Washington in years.

Inside the White House grounds, the driveway outside the West Wing was quiet. There was no sign of the Marine sentry who stands at the entrance when the president is working in the Oval Office. Unlike the previous day, when Trump aides Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway toured the press corps workroom, there were no surprise visits from senior officials. A junior aide sat behind a desk just off the press briefing room, giving out White House email domain addresses for communications staff to reporters.

Yet beyond the gates, the protest was in full swing, demonstrators moving slowly north on 17th Street NW, then turning east on H Street, before doubling back down 15th - encircling the complex. They could get no closer; Lafayette Square park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, remained closed to the public as workers dismantled the massive viewing stand for the inaugural parade.

A handful of workers, on their lunch break, watched the protesters stream by as Secret Service members made sure the crowds did not attempt to breach the barriers. The protesters held signs reading, "Keep your small hands off!" and "You messed with the wrong p---y," aimed at Trump's lewd comments about women revealed during the campaign.

The new president left the White House complex twice in his motorcade, passing directly by the protesters, some of whom held up their middle fingers toward the caravan.

As the day wore on, and reports of the larger-than-expected crowds dominated the news, expectations grew in the White House press briefing room over how the media-obsessed Trump team would react.

The White House issued a bulletin announcing that Spicer would make a statement at 4:30 p.m. Reporters gathered - though many of the 49 seats remained empty on a Saturday afternoon.

The appointed time came and went. An hour later, reporters were still waiting. Finally, Spicer emerged. But if reporters expected a reaction to the news of the day, they didn't get it. Instead, the White House spokesman opened by attacking the media for "deliberately false reporting" over a mistaken report the day before that Trump had removed a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. He moved it to a different part of the room.

Spicer also upbraided reporters for their coverage of Trump's inauguration, claiming, as Trump did during his CIA visit, that the media deliberately underestimated the size of the crowd. He accused the media of pursuing "false narratives" about the new president.

When he was done, Spicer gave a summary of Trump's day, then turned and left. He did not respond to shouted questions about the marchers still massed on the streets of the nation's capital.

Unique programs offer people with mental illness a place in their communities

By Colby Itkowitz
Unique programs offer people with mental illness a place in their communities
David Weiss, above, who is successfully dealing with several serious menta-lhealth conditions, plays a song he wrote about his sister Faith while his cat, Bab-Babes, rests close by in Weiss's one-bedroom apartment in Frederick, Maryland. Way Station provided Weiss with the apartment as well as a case manager. Must credit: Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey

FREDERICK, Md. - It's a little after noon. Usually by this hour, David Weiss would be waking for the second time, still groggy from his antipsychotics. He'd have gotten up once at dawn, maybe made himself an egg with toast. He might have gone into the back bedroom to scan his ham radio or played a few chords on his guitar. Then he'd go back to sleep.

But on this day, he had somewhere to be. It's easier to get up on days like this, days with a purpose.

And so at noon, he is sitting in an abnormal-psychology class at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, his arms crossed and a plate of pizza balanced on his lap. At 64, Weiss still has a full head of wavy silver hair and a broad, kind face and a bulbous nose that make him a dead ringer for a mall Santa. He wears a Hawaiian shirt that smells faintly of incense.

He's giving a talk to the students about life with mental illness.

Weiss talks about his hallucinations. He's seen tigers in the trees and black triangles in the sky. He's heard his late mother's voice and ringing bells. He makes a motion like he's stabbing himself with a pitchfork. "The devil was on my ass," he says.

There was a time in the United States that a person talking about visions and voices may have been condemned as crazy and removed from society. But in 1963, President John F. Kennedy set in motion the deinstitutionalization of patients in psychiatric hospitals and called for community-based programs to take their place. An unintended consequence has been that people with mental illnesses have increasingly ended up without access to services at all, living on the streets or in jail.

This was the case for Weiss, who for a time was homeless. But eventually, Weiss wound up lucky.

Weiss is a client - there are no patients, only clients - at Way Station Inc. run by Sheppard Pratt Health System in Frederick, one of the first programs of its kind in the country to use social support systems to integrate people with mental illnesses into their communities. Way Station gave him his own apartment as well as a case manager who checks in with him daily. It even helped him enroll in community college, where in 2010 he realized his teenage dream and graduated with an associate degree in music.

But slowly, funding has stalled for the program he has come to rely on, and a part of it that was improved by the Affordable Care Act is threatened by the Trump administration's plan to dismantle health-care reform. And so Weiss, who has been emboldened as an advocate by his experience with Way Station, feels even more urgency on this afternoon as he tries to explain to these college students what the program has meant to his life.

He shares the accumulation of experiences that brought him here: Depression as a child. Obsessive-compulsive disorder as a teenager. Major depression and paranoia in his 40s. Then, recently, bipolar disorder. He checked himself into the hospital five times last year with mania. Depression makes you loathe yourself, he'll say, while mania makes you rage at the world.

There's no hint of self-pity. Way Station has given him a voice. It's given him a life.

"The inmates ran the asylum, and I loved that. We had a hand in our own future. I liked it. I liked the freedom," he recalls of his first impression of the program. "This is a good time for mental illness, if there ever is a good time."

As the psychology students pack up after class, a male student approaches Weiss and shakes his hand. "Thank you for everything," he says.

"Good luck, brother," Weiss says, placing a hand on the undergrad's shoulder. "That's a great thing to help people out of their suffering."

- - -

Way Station is part of the fabric of the community here. Local businesses hire its clients. Tree-lined residential neighborhoods are dotted with houses and apartments occupied by people with mental illness. A community center where some clients gather for a day program is located just several blocks from the bustling downtown of antique shops and boutiques.

"We all need to feel like part of a community. We need to feel meaning in our life. These programs acknowledge these basic human needs," said Jackie Goldstein, a retired psychology professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, who spent years traveling the United States identifying programs that take a similar approach. She found them scattered in places big and small - from New York City and Chicago to Cuttingsville, Vermont, and Crozet, Virginia.

No matter the severity of clients' illnesses at Way Station, they can have jobs, real homes and control over their lives. Jim Kreuzburg, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and depression, lives alone in his own basement apartment and clears carts in a supermarket parking lot twice a week. On days off, he'll go to work anyway just to see his co-workers. Susie MacMullen, who has serious cognitive disabilities in addition to her mental illness, prepares trays once a week for kids' night at Roy Rogers restaurants. For the first time in her life, she sees herself as a winner, she said.

Over the years, there has been some resistance, particularly from those wary of living in a neighborhood with Way Station housing.

Joe Fitzgibbon, his two children then quite young, was devastated when Way Station converted a house in his neighborhood into one of its group homes.

To win his acceptance, Scott Rose, Way Station's chief executive director, met with him for monthly breakfasts and gave him his personal cellphone number.

"Looking back on it, it was ignorance on my behalf," Fitzgibbon now says.

It's difficult to quantify how many programs there are across the country that implement some or all of these social supports, but it's far fewer than it should be, according to Howard Goldman, a Maryland psychiatrist who participated in the surgeon general's first critique of the U.S. mental health system in 1999.

There's little appetite to invest in them, and it's still an uphill battle to convince insurance companies that covering a jobs-placement program is a health issue, he said.

Way Station, which serves more than 5,000 people across Maryland, is fortunate that Maryland strongly supports these types of programs, but funding has become precarious.

The program receives 84 percent of its $37 million annual budget from local, state and federal funds, with a majority coming through Medicaid spending. Since 2004, the state's spending per person on mental-health services has fallen 27 percent when adjusted for inflation, according to the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

There's high attrition among Way Station staff seeking higher-salaried jobs. They've had to cut popular programs, like a horticultural unit where Weiss once worked.

There's also the looming threat of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which made Medicaid funds available for coordinated care, also called health homes. Way Station has taken advantage of this program, allowing its clients access to primary care nurses and doctors in conjunction with their mental-health services.

It's through this program that Weiss has managed his physical ailments. He has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from years of smoking - although Way Station helped him quit - as well as diabetes and heart disease.

Without Way Station, he says, he'd most likely be dead.

- - -

On a warm fall afternoon, Weiss is in his one-bedroom Way Station-owned apartment, sitting cross-legged on the twin bed he keeps in his living room. A flat-screen television stands alongside it, barely a foot from where he sleeps. It's hooked up to the Internet, and he uses it mostly to watch jazz musicians on YouTube. If life had gone differently, maybe he could have been one of them.

His case manager, Jim Williams, walks in, as he does almost every day around this time. Even with Way Station's financial burdens, Weiss is among the more fortunate. Staff turnover is quick, but Williams and Weiss have had 3 1/2 years together.

Williams tells Weiss that he sounds tired, and Weiss says he is. Williams asks him if he's still working on his coping skills - playing music and using deep breathing to lessen negative thinking.

"Yeah, it works like magic, too," Weiss says of the meditation.

"Pull a weed, plant a flower" is a favorite mantra, a reminder to replace a negative thought with a positive one. Weiss is a spiritual man, a practicing Buddhist from his days as a pot-smoking hippie hanging out in the District of Columbia. During the good times in the 1970s and 1980s, he worked as a champion of affordable-housing issues in Arlington, Va., and later took his advocacy to Jackson, Mississippi, and - for a brief time - Maui, Hawaii, all while raising his son, Damien, as a single father.

It's difficult for him to square his anger with the inner peace he strives for. He likes to walk the quiet grounds of a secluded, wooded Tibetan meditation center 20 minutes from his home, talking to the monks and kneeling in prayer in the shrine hall.

His medication exhausts him, or he'd go more often. But at least the pills are working to halt the mania.

"It keeps me from going up, not from going down," Weiss says to Williams.

"This goddamn illness," he mutters to himself with a sigh.

For now, his depression is mostly under control. After his son left home in the early 1990s, the anguish had built up like piles of weights on his chest until he could no longer lift himself up out of bed to go to work.

He lost his job as computer bench technician. Without a paycheck, he couldn't afford rent. He slept in his truck, parked in campgrounds and under trees. He became paranoid. He wanted to die.

In 1999, after years of homelessness, his younger sister, Faye, who lived in Frederick, told him he should come check out this program called Way Station.

- - -

Way Station is not a panacea. Weiss's mania emerged only recently. When he's been manic, he tried to wrestle guards at the hospital, drove with his eyes closed for seconds at a time, and called Faye, the person he's closest to in the world, and threatened to "[defecate] on her lawn, kill her dog and burn down her house."

But the program has offered him a chance to lead a meaningful life, in part by helping clients like him identify their passions and interests and helping them pursue them.

For Weiss, that's meditation. And it's his music. So when he expressed a desire to earn a college degree in music, Way Station helped him enroll. He graduated, feeling an emotion he hadn't in many years: pride.

His professor, Anita Thomas, an Australian jazz musician, has a gig most Thursday nights at a local restaurant. Weiss has an open invitation to join her to play any time.

On this night, Weiss drags his amp and acoustic-electric guitar inside the dimly lit restaurant. He sits at a round table with Thomas and the other professional musicians she plays with. Weiss sips a soda and listens to them talk about jazz.

None of them, other than Thomas, knows he has a severe mental illness.

After a few songs, Thomas motions for Weiss to come join them. He sits on a chair facing the room of beer-slugging strangers. To them, he's just a guitar-playing middle-aged man in a Hawaiian shirt jamming with the band. It would be, Thomas would say later, the best she'd ever heard him play.

He strums the opening notes of Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies." It's just an instrumental, but the lyrics are there in his mind.

I was blue, just as blue as I could be

Ev'ry day was a cloudy day for me

Then good luck came a-knocking at my door

Skies were gray but they're not gray anymore

This deeply blue Wisconsin village still seems surprised it voted for Trump

By Jenna Johnson
This deeply blue Wisconsin village still seems surprised it voted for Trump
Theresa Bennett, 33, of Holmen, Wis., is one of the owners of the Vet's Bar in Trempealeau, Wis. The bar has a

TREMPEALEAU, Wis. - As the Packers and Cowboys kicked off earlier this week, a couple of dozen regulars arrived at the Vet's Bar with potluck dishes to share, including a crockpot of hot dogs, macaroni salad, deviled eggs and layered dip. Many brought along their own beer koozies, and the bartender passed out green or yellow Jell-O shots every time the Packers scored a touchdown.

Sitting at the bar was a 63-year-old cook who voted for Donald Trump because "everything sucks" right now and there's no way things could get worse. Next to him was a 59-year-old school lunch lady who believes Trump's policies will lead to a significant increase in her wages and cheaper health care.

Farther down the long wooden bar was a 67-year-old truck driver who voted for Hillary Clinton and earlier this month pulled all of her money out of the stock market because she's worried Trump will crash the economy. And there was a 30-year-old union worker at a brewery who voted for the Green Party candidate because he didn't think Trump or Clinton could relate to guys like him.

There's a reason that the Vet's owners have a strict "no politics" rule. It seems as if any conversation about politics these days can quickly become heated.

For decades, Trempealeau - along with the surrounding county by the same name - has been deeply Democratic, with President Barack Obama getting 56 percent of the vote here in 2012 and 60 percent in 2008. But in November, Trump won Trempealeau with 53 percent.

The victory stunned many residents, even though Trump signs had plastered the area for months. The same flip happened in 50 other Midwestern counties clustered in western Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois.

Die-hard Democrats are still trying to figure out which of their roughly 1,600 neighbors were the 482 people who voted for Trump. Several lifelong Republicans say they voted for him, often reluctantly, but they didn't expect him to win - and, as Inauguration Day approached, they were concerned that the country is even more divided.

Everyone at the bar agreed that it will take at least another presidential election to see if this was a fluke or a lasting shift.

"I just think that people were not feeling the greatest about the direction of the country and thought: 'Oh well, I'm just going to throw my vote to somebody that I think will change things.' Still, with the idea: 'Well, he wasn't going to win,' " said Kurt Wood, who has been village president since 1993 and voted for Clinton. "I think, in all honesty, people already realize what a mistake they made."

David Samb, 60, came to the bar with his longtime girlfriend, whom he plans to soon marry - at least partly to get on her health insurance plan instead of paying $670 per month for one from a marketplace. Samb considered himself a "lifelong Democrat," but he voted for Trump.

"I'm just tired of where everything is going in the country. It's like we're giving everything away, and we're not getting anywhere," said Samb, who recently retired from his union printing job. "I just kind of want to get the country back to the way it was."

Samb voted for Obama twice, but his support evaporated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. Samb said he only briefly considered Clinton, saying that her gun-control proposals alone showed she was out of touch with rural America. As long as Trump controls his "hothead" tendencies and fully repeals Obamacare, Samb will consider his vote a wisely placed one.

"I'm not exactly sure what their ideas are, but I know it's not working out the way it was planned," Samb said. "I just don't like it being pushed down our throat."

Samb still voted for Democrats in down-ballot races, but he thinks that he has become a Republican.

"Now, depending on how Trump goes," he said, "I may switch back."


Nearly every storefront in downtown Trempealeau is filled, and the village booms with activity during the summer, when tourists arrive to bike, hike, fish and enjoy riverside concerts.

Local business owners say it's difficult to find workers, as there are so many entry-level jobs in the area, including at a massive Ashley Furniture manufacturing plant about 20 miles north in Arcadia. The unemployment rate in Trempealeau County was 3 percent late last year, one of the lowest rates in the state.

What's missing are the higher-paying jobs for more-skilled workers, several residents said, and many feel as if their salaries or retirement savings haven't kept up with their expenses, especially for health care.

Trempealeau County is 97 percent white, but a growing number of Latinos have moved to the area for manufacturing and agriculture jobs. Arcadia's downtown has been revitalized thanks to a half-dozen brightly colored Latino restaurants and grocery stores - but that rapid change has unsettled some longtime residents.

Chris Danou, a Democrat who represented this area in the state Assembly until unexpectedly losing to a Republican in November, said he thinks that resentment contributed to Trump's victory.

"It's infuriating, and it's sad," said Danou, who lives in Trempealeau but will soon move to the Madison area with his family. "I was disappointed in my constituents."

Danou, a former police officer with two graduate degrees, lost to Treig Pronschinske, a technical-college graduate who worked in construction and was a small-town mayor.

Pronschinske said accusations of racism are "a cop-out" from Democrats who are out of touch with how frustrated many in rural towns have become.

"You could feel it coming," Pronschinske said. "The comments were a lot of: 'I agree with what Trump says, but I don't really like how he acts.' I saw right through that. They weren't saying they wouldn't vote for him. They just didn't want to fight about it."

And Clinton just was not liked in the area, a shortcoming exposed when Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primaries in the village and surrounding county. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. - who did not face a Republican challenger, even though most of his congressional district went to Trump - said the only campaign sign he saw that mentioned Clinton was one calling for her to go to prison.

Clinton didn't visit the state once.

Stop by Trempealeau's River Cafe - the only place to get a full breakfast in the winter - and it's packed with retirees, families and young professionals. A survey of the weekend rush illustrates the nuances of the village's unsettled political views.

Donald and Alice Brenengen, both 76, are longtime Republicans who live on a farm near the edge of town. They dutifully voted for Trump, even though they wish the Republican nominee had been Ohio Gov. John Kasich. They learned that Trump won the morning after the election when Donald Brenengen turned on the television.

"I thought something happened to him, he had this crazy look on his face," Alice Brenengen said Saturday morning. "He couldn't believe it."

"I was shocked," he said.

"He just doesn't seem like he's president material," she said of Trump, "although I think he will be better" than Clinton would have been.

Sarah and Derek Stoner both voted in the primary - her for Sanders, him for Trump - but just weren't motivated to vote in the general election. They both now say that Trump could shake things up for the better.

"If it doesn't work out, there will be another election in four years," said Derek Stoner, 41, who is studying computer science.

Sunday morning brought a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran who voted for Trump because "I don't think a woman could be president" and a 39-year-old firefighter who voted for Trump because he wants immigrants to follow the tradition of Ellis Island, arriving legally with documentation. Nearby, a 31-year-old woman having breakfast with two friends said she voted for Clinton and was so upset the day after the election that she cried at her desk at work. There was also a union leader visiting from another county who didn't want to be quoted, saying that he voted for Clinton and that Trump-supporting union members get angry when he talks politics.

Jesse Cox, 42, always voted for Democrats and voted for Sanders in the primary. He's worried about the cost of health care, because in his 20s - before the Affordable Care Act - he didn't have insurance and had to pay about $11,000 to have his gallbladder removed, a price that more than doubled with interest.

He didn't want to vote for Clinton or Trump, as he thinks both are "in the pocket of Wall Street banks," so he voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson and has no regrets.

"I might be done with the Democratic Party, actually," said Cox, who works as a technician for a cable and Internet provider. "Unless they can really show me something."

Pulitzer-winning opinion from the most respected voices in the world.

In defense of globalization

By fareed zakaria
In defense of globalization

DAVOS, Switzerland -- The World Economic Forum this year feels like an exercise in ritual self-flagellation, which -- as with the old Christian practice of fasting and whipping one’s own body -- is supposed to purify the sinful nature of man. The sin, of course, is globalization, which everyone now seems to agree has been lopsided, inequitable, and dangerous. In fact, most of the flaws attributed to globalization are actually mistakes in national policy that can be corrected.

It took a Chinese billionaire to speak frankly on this topic. Jack Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba, estimated that over the last three decades the U.S. government spent $14.2 trillion fighting 13 wars. That money could easily have been invested in America, building infrastructure and creating jobs. “You’re supposed to spend money on your own people,” he said. “It’s not [that] the other countries steal jobs from you guys -- it is your strategy.” He pointed out that globalization produced massive profits for the American economy but much of that money ended up on Wall Street. “And what happened? Year 2008. The financial crisis wiped out $19.2 trillion [in the] USA alone. ... What if the money [was] spent on the Midwest of the United States developing the industry there?”

You don’t have to accept Ma’s specifics and statistics to recognize the validity of his general point. Globalization created huge opportunities for growth, many of which were taken by U.S. companies. The global economy today is still pervasively dominated by large American firms; 134 of Fortune’s Global 500 are American. And if you look at those in cutting-edge industries, the vast majority are American. These companies have benefited enormously by having global supply chains that can source goods and services around the world, either to lower labor costs or to be close to the markets in which they sell. Since 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers live outside the United States, finding ways to sell to them will have to be a core strategy for growth, even for a country with a large domestic economy like America.

Obviously globalization has large effects on national economies and societies, and it produces some significant problems. What complex phenomenon does not? But it also generates opportunities, innovation and wealth for nations that they can then use to address these problems through good national strategies. The solutions are easy to state in theory -- education, skills-based training and retraining, infrastructure. But they are extremely expensive and hard to execute well.

It is much easier to rail against foreigners and promise to fight them with tariffs and fines. But the cost of addressing these problems at the global level is massive. The Economist reports, in a survey on globalization, that in 2009 the Obama administration punished China with a tariff on their tires. Two years later, the cost to American consumers was $1.1 billion, or $900,000 for every job “saved.” The impact of such tariffs is usually felt disproportionately by the poor and middle class because they spend a larger share of their income on imported goods -- like food and clothing. That same Economist survey points to a study that calculated that, across 40 countries, if transnational trade ended, the wealthiest consumers would lose 28 percent of their purchasing power but the poorest one-tenth would lose a staggering 63 percent.

Perhaps most important, the key driver that is depressing wages and eliminating jobs in the industrialized world is technology, not globalization. For example, between 1990 and 2014, U.S. automotive production increased by 19 percent, but with 240,000 fewer workers.

Even when manufacturing comes back to the United States, it is high-end manufacturing. It’s not just new Intel plants that have few workers anymore. Adidas has set up a new shoe factory in Germany that is run almost entirely by robots. It will open a similar one in Atlanta later this year. And the few workers in these factories tend to be highly skilled technicians and software engineers. You can’t turn off technological revolutions. Nor can you stop China from growing. Tariffs on China will simply mean that production will come from some Third World country.

The best approach to the world we are living in is not denial but empowerment. Countries should recognize that the global economy and the technological revolution require large, sustained national efforts to equip workers with the skills, capital and infrastructure they need to succeed. Nations should embrace an open world but only as long as they are properly armed to compete in it. And that requires smart, effective -- and very expensive -- national policies, not some grand reversal of globalization.

Fareed Zakaria’s email address is

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Is this what we’ve come to, America?

By dana milbank
Is this what we’ve come to, America?

WASHINGTON -- It began at about the time Chuck Schumer, addressing the inauguration crowd from the Capitol, lamented that politics is “frequently consumed by rancor.”

It sounded at first, from my seat in the plaza below the inaugural platform, like a helicopter flying low over the mall, or perhaps an unusually loud jet taking off from Reagan National Airport. But I turned to discover the noise was the combined booing and jeering of thousands in the sea of red “Make America Great Again” caps.

They weren’t only booing and jeering Schumer, the highest ranking Democrat in the land; they were booing and jeering what he was saying.

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we are immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty,” the Senate minority leader said, “we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country.”

The booing intensified when Schumer mentioned “immigrant.” It continued as he read a letter from a Civil War soldier saying “my love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.”

The crowd responded: “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

Is this what we’ve come to, America?

President Trump had yet another chance to affirm national unity in his inaugural address Friday, and yet again he went the other way, delivering a modified version of his campaign speech, angry and divisive.

Yet again, he divided the United States into us vs. them. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”

Trump made only a feint toward unity, admonishing the crowd, almost all white, to remember that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.” He proposed that a “new national pride” would “heal our divisions.”

Yet he furthered those divisions by proposing “total allegiance to the United States” -- as if this weren’t previously the standard -- and by saying Americans had been “forgotten” and “ignored” by those who led the country, leaders who left “children trapped in poverty ... rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones ... students deprived of all knowledge ... the crime and the gangs and drugs ... American carnage.”

American carnage! Even the heavens seemed sad. The moment Trump began his address, the skies opened and plastic ponchos unfurled.

Inaugurations are designed to build national unity, packed with national symbols and rituals: the Marine band and buglers, the historic flags draped from the Capitol, the 21-gun salute. Before the proceedings, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address played on the giant screens: “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the master of ceremonies, mentioned two other inaugural addresses that appealed to national unity: Thomas Jefferson’s in 1801 (”We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists”) and Abraham Lincoln’s in 1865 (”With malice toward none, with charity for all”).

Kennedy used his inaugural to “let the word go forth from this time and place to friend and foe alike” that his generation of Americans wouldn’t allow the undoing of human rights. Trump’s version, a “decree” he addressed to “every foreign capital,” was inward-looking: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.”

Trump’s behavior doesn’t excuse the violent clashes with police that led to more than 200 arrests, or the whistling and heckling from a few while Trump took the oath.

But are things so far gone that Trump supporters in the crowd thought it appropriate to chant “lock her up!” when Hillary Clinton was announced? Or that they would jeer Schumer’s reading of the poignant letter of Maj. Sullivan Ballou, who said, a week before he fell at Bull Run, that he was “willing to lay down all my joys in this life” for his country?

Here’s what else they booed:

“Today, we celebrate one of democracy’s core attributes, the peaceful transfer of power,” Schumer said. “And every day, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution -- the rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion.”

If such ideas earn jeers in Trump’s presidency, the American carnage is only beginning.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group


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Millennials need to learn to lose

By catherine rampell
Millennials need to learn to lose

WASHINGTON -- “In a democracy, sometimes you’re going to win on those issues and sometimes you’re going to lose,” Barack Obama said this week at his final presidential news conference, echoing words he used the day after the election.

This is a truism to most Americans. But it has been a shock for many millennials.

We millennials, for most of our adult lives, have become blissfully accustomed to winning. I don’t mean in the everyone-gets-a-trophy sense. Nor do I mean in the housing, employment or romantic sense; on many milestones of economic security and adulthood, we appear to be losers. Particularly if you ask our elders.

But when it comes to politics, we -- or at least the majority of us who are left-of-center -- have been spoiled to the hilt.

Same-sex marriage legalized? Check. Expanded access to health care? Yup. Protecting the “Dreamers” from deportation? Absolutely. International climate change agreement? You got it.

#Winning, across the board.

Sure, there’s been obstruction; by some measures, record levels of it in the past couple of years, in fact. And, yes, there have been ugly, violent, retrograde events, particularly on race relations, but arguably those have always occurred. Thanks to cellphone documentation, the public is just more aware of them today. And also better able to organize. So, still forward movement, for the most part.

In recent years, across multiple surveys, young people have viewed themselves as falling behind their elders when it comes to finances but gaining ground on political values.

A 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center, for example, asked whether “on the issues that matter to you in politics today,” respondents viewed their side as winning or losing. A majority saw themselves as losing. (Thanks, victimhood culture.) But even so, respondents under 30 were substantially more likely than those over 65 to say they were coming out ahead (32 percent vs. 19 percent, respectively).

In early 2016, a Post-ABC News poll asked respondents whether they think people and groups that hold values similar to their own are gaining or losing influence in American politics. Again, millennials were much more likely than other Americans to feel strongly that their team was gaining; seniors were much more likely to feel strongly that theirs was losing.

And millennials were generally accurate in this assessment. Our generation’s predominantly liberal positions -- on LGBT issues, immigration, marijuana legalization, abortion, the death penalty -- gained traction across the general populace over the past eight years, even as our legislative leadership grew more conservative.

During that same period -- the majority of our adult lives for most of us, as well as some of our most formative political years -- we’ve experienced only a president whose vision and policies we generally agreed with. Sure, we picked at him and complained about the pace of change. Still, there was consistent, measurable progress, at least on the domestic agenda.

Even when progress stalled at the federal level, progressives made gains at the state and local levels, particularly in locations attracting influxes of young people. Family leave, sick leave and minimum-wage increases have found homes in youthful bastions of blueness.

For eight years, when we put our shoulder to the wheel, we usually saw it move. Like the generation of home buyers who saw housing prices move in only one direction, many of us took for granted it would be ever thus.

When Donald Trump won, then, many millennials were body-slammed by disillusionment. That whole arc-of-history-bending-toward-justice thing? We’d never realized that there might be dips and divots that sometimes seem to zag in the wrong direction.

We’d had a taste of stagnation, sure. But we had little inkling that the wheel could roll backward.

Many of us cried, and some missed exams. Some became cynical and decided our beloved country might be more evil than good. Or we became paralytically nostalgic, filling our Facebook feeds with sappy supercuts of Obama’s most telegenic moments with puppies and children.

On Friday, a new era began, yes. And many of us fear that the likely dismantlement of progressive legacies and the damage to our hard-won international reputation for stability and leadership may be lasting.

But the world isn’t over, not yet. To my fellow millennials who have felt like giving up, and extracting themselves from a grinding political process that they were only superficially connected to in the first place, who have viewed this election as a wholesale repudiation of our values, remember: Public opinion is still mostly in our favor.

More important, if we can lose sometimes, we can also win again.

Catherine Rampell’s email address is Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Patriotism on steroids: Trump’s isolationism

By robert j. samuelson
Patriotism on steroids: Trump’s isolationism

WASHINGTON -- The question that swirls around Donald Trump’s inaugural address is whether his aggressively pronounced policy of America First will actually result in America Last -- not literally last, but declining in power and prestige because the United States no longer views its role in the world as promoting economic and geopolitical stability for our allies.

Instead, he imagines a world in which America takes what it can and worries about others only as an afterthought. What does he expect other countries to do? The answer is obvious. They will act more aggressively in their own selfish interests, leading to a further disintegration of post-World War II economic and political alliances.

It is not that all countries, including the United States, haven’t always acted in their own interests. But, for decades, they and we have identified self-interest with collective commitments to global commerce and military cooperation. If the leader of these arrangements -- the United States -- now forsakes them, other countries will look to make new economic and security arrangements, with China and Russia as leading alternatives.

This breakdown threatens the greater American prosperity that Trump promises. A changing world economic order will generate enormous uncertainty, as other countries rush to protect their markets from competitors. Companies may reduce investment spending, which is already weak. Slower economic growth, or outright recessions, will make it harder for governments and companies to service their high debts. This would further darken prospects for the global economy.

In the short run, the president’s speech -- and the policies that would flow from it -- may be a crowd-pleaser. It’s patriotism on steroids: America’s economic problems are caused largely by foreigners, aided by footloose U.S. multinationals. They have taken our jobs, flooded the country with immigrants, and cost us trillions of dollars in overseas military spending.

It is comforting to think that our most serious economic problems stem from our being too generous -- or not tough enough -- with foreigners. It exonerates us from most responsibility for our own faults and dictates that the remedy of being too soft is to be more hard-nosed. Simple.

But it is a complete delusion and, therefore, is dangerous because it causes us to misunderstand our own predicament. In truth, most of our serious economic problems are homegrown.

Consider. Chicago’s high murder rate is not the result of Chinese imports. The often-dreary performance of our schools for minority students is not a consequence of a strong dollar on foreign exchange markets. The 2008-09 financial crisis did not have foreign roots. (The proximate causes were financial speculation and an overheated housing market.) America’s budget deficits aren’t caused by Russia’s warmongering.

Economic nationalism is a powerful potion, made more powerful by the president’s overwrought rhetoric. “We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon,” he complains. It’s true that open trade, championed by the United States, created a framework conducive to other countries’ success, but mostly they created their own wealth.

This does not mean that some of our economic problems don’t originate abroad, that illegal immigration isn’t serious or that unfair trade practices, intellectual espionage, and distorted exchange rates should be ignored. But they are second-order problems, not the crux of our difficulties, as Trump portrays.

Trump’s inaugural declaration (which mirrored much of what he said in the campaign) is a historic milestone, but not in the way Trump believes. It’s a formula for America’s decline on the world stage and runs enormous risks of destabilizing the global economy. For the first time since World War II, an American president has made isolationism the political centerpiece of his administration.

It is possible that, in practice, Trump’s policies will be more moderate and more in line with the traditional policies of previous presidents, Democratic and Republican. Some of his Cabinet selections, in their confirmation hearings, have sounded much more conventional than their boss.

Still, this illuminates the dilemma Trump has created for himself. The full implications of what he’s proposed, if implemented, would be disastrous. But if he retreats significantly, he may alienate many of his fervent followers, who will feel rightly that they’ve been betrayed.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

President. Trump.

By kathleen parker
President. Trump.

WASHINGTON -- So, that happened.

Let us pray.

Yes, of course, you can go back to sleep, Mr. Van Winkle, but it won’t change the facts. Donald Trump is the president of the United States.

The humble, warm and engaging Trump we’d hoped to meet on Inauguration Day failed to make an appearance. We’ve heard he exists, but shtick is shtick, and Trump is Trump. He was, is and apparently intends to run the nation as a populist. Elites, stand down.

To sum up Trump’s mercifully short-ish speech: We’re Americans, America comes first, we love America, America will be great again. In other words, he said nothing new -- or remarkable -- except perhaps when he said people would look back on Jan. 20, 2017, and remember ... I didn’t hear the rest because I was paralyzed by the foreboding in his fierce countenance and the possibility of so many perilous things that could potentially flow from that moment.

In all other respects, it was a run-of-the-mill campaign speech. And while Trump spoke of inclusivity, saying that prejudice has no place in his America, he certainly conveyed something entirely different during the past 18 months. No one reading this needs to be reminded of the many examples related to Mexicans, Muslims and others.

Notably in low attendance at the speech were African-Americans, which needn’t have been the case. Trump’s message of jobs, better education, immigration reform and other tenets of his campaign should be equally appealing to all. Vexing was always the how. And the style with which the celebrity-bully expressed his intent.

Trump may fervently wish to improve conditions in the inner cities where so many black families suffer, but telling black America, “What do you have to lose?” wasn’t the most effective way to build solidarity.

Meanwhile, a large bulk of the nation mourns or prepares to protest. As I wrote this Friday at The Washington Post building, police barricades were blocking hundreds of demonstrators who seem itching for a fight. Elsewhere, millions are filled with despair amid the alienation from a country they barely recognize. Trump’s months of insults aimed at igniting resentment toward “others” can’t be erased by his citing the Bible telling us “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

There’s a reason people are clashing with police. There’s a reason a large throng of women (and their male sympathizers) will be protesting the new president and his boasts about manhandling women at his pleasure.

These are among the reasons one might have hoped that Trump would rise to the occasion of this quadrennial event when America swaps out presidents for a new charge toward a better future. This go-round, the future felt up for grabs as Barack Obama and the former first lady lifted off in a military helicopter. One needn’t have approved of the past eight years of liberal policies to appreciate (and soon miss) the contagious sense of calm Obama exuded. He was all grace and, yes, beauty when he waved, and smiled and, said, “Come on, man.”

Perhaps Trump’s fist-punching finale was mere punctuation to his patriotic song of nationalism, but it somehow felt threatening. Most presidents and politicians show an open hand of nonthreatening conciliation as they wave to a crowd. Not Trump. He’s all fist and in your face. From what Trump has said and projected, it’s not a leap to imagine an increasingly militaristic society in which individual choices (to pray or pledge) are not so voluntary. Already we’ve seen hints as Trump trashes dissenters and tries to diminish reporters and news organizations as “fake news” to the detriment of a free society that, without a robust media presence, isn’t likely to long remain free.

Even with all of that, Donald Trump is our president. He deserves a chance to prove us doubters wrong; to create a government that he thinks will bring jobs and money back to the U.S.; to enhance educational opportunities for the less-privileged; to enhance our military defense without yearning to test it; to reform the tax and regulatory codes with deference to economic realities.

I had intended to mention our role as wards of the planet, but it would appear that this has already been resolved. All mention of climate was removed from the White House website moments after Trump took office. So that also happened.


Pray that our country survives these next few years and that the new president is both wiser and less impetuous than he seems. It’s the least and the best we can do -- for now.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Can Trump make the world stable again?

By david ignatius
Can Trump make the world stable again?

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump’s inauguration marks a global inflection point: He takes office at a moment when many analysts see a transition to a new economic and political order -- one where the risks for the United States and its allies are likely to increase.

Trump’s promise to “make America great again” resonated with many disaffected voters at home. But abroad, it created fear that America’s global power is receding, with China and Russia moving to fill the vacuum. Analysts forecast a new era in which the U.S.-led, post-1945 global order, which brought unparalleled economic growth, will be replaced by another structure whose rules and rewards aren’t yet clear.

Financial markets have so far been surprisingly steady, given the rising uncertainty and risk levels. But outgoing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cautioned in a recent interview: “In an economy where confidence is one of the factors that leads to investment, and uncertainty and political instability undermine confidence, there is a real risk that the cumulative amount of political instability in the world slows down investment.”

Trump has embraced the breakup of the old order. He has criticized NATO as “obsolete” and predicted the European Union’s demise -- challenging two pillars of America’s network of power. He has talked of imposing tariffs against imports not just from China, but from Germany, raising fears of a global trade war. He has promised a revival of U.S. manufacturing jobs that many economists argue can’t be restored without disrupting other parts of the economy.

“Wait and see” is always a good rule on Inauguration Day, but we’ve never had a president quite like Trump, with so many disruptive ideas and so little experience. Change is his political brand. If he carries through on what he has talked and tweeted about, he will reshape the framework of global economic and security relationships -- for the worse, I fear.

Trump was elected with a minority of the popular vote, and his behavior since Election Day has lowered his popularity. But with Republican control of the House and Senate, he’ll probably be able to enact major changes quickly. He has proposed big infrastructure spending, but also large tax cuts. The result could produce a sharp increase in the deficit similar to what happened during the early Reagan years.

Lew cautions about the financial consequences of such populist economics: “We know from history that decisions that are made to pursue a less-disciplined path can sometimes take place very quickly, but they tend to have very long tails.” Restoring discipline requires a bipartisan cooperation in Congress that was present during Reagan’s tenure but has now disappeared.

Trump’s vision that the old order is cracking is shared by many leading foreign policy analysts. But they’re less sanguine about its consequences. The revolt against economic globalization has boosted right-wing nationalist politicians in America and Europe. But the real beneficiaries may be Russia and China, which seek to replace the U.S.-led system.

This theme of risky transition was explored in “Global Trends,” a report published this month by the National Intelligence Council. “The next five years will see rising tensions within and between countries. ... An era of American dominance following the Cold War [is ending]. So, too, perhaps, is the rules-based international order that emerged after World War II. It will be much harder to cooperate internationally and govern in ways publics expect.”

A similar grim assessment was offered this month by the Rand Corp. In a study titled “Strategic Choices for a Turbulent World,” Rand described a global tipping point: “The post-Cold War period is over. While historians may argue about the timing, it has become clear to most foreign policy practitioners that the world has entered a new era, a complex age of turbulence and opportunity.”

A “Come Home America” strategy similar to what Trump proposes would narrow U.S. goals and influence “in exchange for limiting U.S. exposure to a more unstable world,” the Rand report argued. Russia and China would seek to benefit, and although Russia has long-term economic troubles, “declining powers can sometimes be the most dangerous.”

Trump has a big vision of deals with Russia, China and Europe that could redraw the terms of trade and rebalance an unstable world, to America’s benefit. And he’s the leader, now, of a worldwide movement against a globalization that disproportionately benefited elites in the U.S. and Europe. But as Lew says, this “anti-expert, anti-elite mood ... doesn’t change classical economics.”

Trump now owns responsibility for shaping a world in turmoil. And America owns the stark reality that Trump is president.

David Ignatius’ email address is

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

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