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October 16, 2018

President Trump loves the troops, but do they love him back?

In a new Military Times poll, 44 percent of active-duty personnel said they approve of Trump, compared to 43 percent who disapprove. It's not the warmest reception, but at least it's higher than his approval with the general public. Still, his numbers within the military have sunk — in fall 2016, 46 percent of active-duty troops told the Military Times they approved of Trump, while just 37 percent said they disapproved. Analysis suggests the biggest change since 2016 is that many troops have made up their minds, instead of saying they have "no opinion" on Trump.

Though 43 percent disapprove of Trump, that's much better than his national disapproval rating among civilians. A recent Gallup survey found that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of the president. Among military women, Trump's disapproval rating in this poll, 68 percent, is higher than it was among women in general in a recent CNN poll, 62 percent.

Interestingly, though, about 60 percent of troops in this same survey said they approve of Trump's handling of the military and, in fact, believe it is in better shape now than it was under former President Barack Obama. Troops also overwhelmingly love Secretary of Defense James Mattis, with 84 percent approving of the retired four-star Marine Corps general who Trump recently called "sort of a Democrat."

The Military Times surveyed 829 active-duty troops online between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2. The margin of error is 2 percentage points. Brendan Morrow

June 26, 2018

The Republican tax reform plan has accomplished one of President Trump's fondest dreams: development of a tax form the size of a postcard. But there's a catch: Our income tax system is still super complicated, so the postcard is small not because the process has been simplified but because it leaves out important details.

For example, it includes a line for the expanded child tax credit but excludes other child care costs. Particularly confusing is a line which requires taxpayers to consult one of six accompanying worksheets, find and tally a number of popular deductions, and then come back to the postcard to enter the result.

For the 9 in 10 taxpayers who file online, this change will be irrelevant. However, if the postcard prompts those with relatively simple tax situations to send in hard copies, the IRS will struggle to handle the new influx of paperwork which electronic filing presently eliminates.

See a side-by-side comparison of the old and new forms, plus images of the many accompanying worksheets, at The New York Times — or watch below as Trump bestows the postcard with a kiss. Bonnie Kristian

May 21, 2018

Hillary Clinton spoke at Yale's Class Day on Sunday, referencing the university's tradition of wearing silly (typically DIY) hats for the occasion by bringing a Ushanka hat along for a predictable joke about President Trump. "A Russian hat," she said, waving but not actually wearing it. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Clinton also revisited her loss to Trump in a more serious tone. "I'm not over it," she said. "I still think about the 2016 election. I still regret the mistakes I made. I still think, though, that understanding what happened in such a weird and wild election in American history will help us defend our democracy in the future."

Watch the hat moment below. Bonnie Kristian

August 16, 2017

Fox News anchor Shep Smith admitted Wednesday that the network "reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country" to find someone willing to come on air to defend President Trump's remarks about the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but they came up empty-handed.

"Let's be honest, Republicans don't often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn't get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that," Smith said. "We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful."

In this way, Smith pointed out in his show-opening monologue, Trump has "brought together some Americans." "Many Republicans and Democrats are now uniting in criticism of the president of the United States, after his reprehensible comments about Charlottesville," Smith said, referring to Trump's remarks Tuesday blaming "both sides" for the violence at the white nationalist rally and suggesting that there were "some fine people" marching alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists. "Now some of the president's own party are lining up to pin blame where they say it actually belongs: on the white supremacists and on the neo-Nazis." Becca Stanek

July 20, 2017

Fear can be an effective tool for a political leader — and, per The New York Times, it's one President Trump totally lacks:

Fear is perhaps the most powerful motivating force in politics, and fear of a powerful president is the surest lever to move a lawmaker from a "no" to a "yes" on a presidential priority. But over the past month, Mr. Trump scared no one into supporting the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He has proved simply too unpopular nationally — polling at 36 to 40 percent approval this week — too weak in many senators' home states, too erratic, and too disengaged from the details of governing to harness his party, as other new presidents have. [The New York Times]

Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a former aide to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), told The New York Times the total lack of fear is "a real problem," and one Trump "hasn't really tried" to remedy. "I don't get why he hasn't been more engaged," Jesmer said, wondering why Trump hasn't, for instance, appeared on local talk radio or made a trip to Kansas.

And it's not just senators who are totally unafraid of the man in the Oval Office: A Republican senator told The New York Times that Trump "scares no one in the Senate, not even the pages."

Read more on Trump's inability to inspire fear at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

July 19, 2017

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) admitted Wednesday that there might not even be 40 votes for Senate Republicans' plan to repeal ObamaCare now and replace it later. "I don't think there are 40 votes to repeal and say to the American people, 'Well, trust us to come up with something in the next couple of years.' I don't think that's a good idea," Alexander told CNN reporters.

Alexander's comments came just after he and other Senate Republicans attended a luncheon hosted by President Trump at the White House to talk about health care. On Monday evening, it became clear that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare did not have enough support to move forward, leaving Republicans to resort to attempting repeal without a replacement in hand.

Three senators — enough to kill the effort — have already announced their opposition to a clean repeal, suggesting Alexander might have a point. Becca Stanek

July 6, 2017

Tesla is no longer the biggest automaker in America. Following the recent plummet in the electric car company's shares, the top position now belongs to General Motors, valued at $52.7 billion to Tesla's $51.6 billion.

On Thursday, Tesla's stock fell another 5 percent, continuing its multi-day tumble. Since hitting an "all-time high" just two weeks ago, Tesla's shares had dropped by a total of 20 percent as of Thursday afternoon. Losses for the week now sit at 14 percent.

The week's drop coincides with Tesla's disappointing second-quarter results, which the company has blamed on "a production issue with its 100 kilowatt-hour battery packs," CNBC reported. Tesla's new Model S also recently failed to meet top safety standards, seemingly debunking Tesla's claim that the car was the safest ever.

High Tech editor Fred Hickey contended Tesla's stock "was pushed to ridiculous levels on the notion that the Model 3 would be a slam-dunk success," and he also noted that the company's "$100,000+ models aren't selling as well and are piling up in inventory." "This bubble stock is losing air rapidly, as it should," Hickey said. Becca Stanek

June 7, 2017

Readership on right-wing website Breitbart News has dropped dramatically since President Trump won the election. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that visitor traffic on the site "has fallen 53 percent since November, from 22.96 million unique individuals to 10.76 million last month."

While Breitbart isn't the only news site to suffer a traffic drop-off since the election — The New York Times, for instance, has seen a 26 percent drop in traffic since November — Breitbart's dive is noticeably steeper. In a statement to the Post, Breitbart framed claims about its dwindling traffic as "liberal hysteria," noting its traffic "has increased 59 percent on a year-to-year basis and that it ranks No. 60 among U.S.-based websites."

But traffic isn't the only thing slipping at Breitbart. The number of advertisers on the site has also sunk, dropping from 242 companies with ads on the site in March to just 26 companies last month. The company has also pushed back plans to expand to France and Germany. Most recently, Breitbart fired reporter Katie McHugh for suggesting "there would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims didn't live there."

All of that combined has raised the question of whether Breitbart will be forced to change, as the right starts to turn on the site. "Breitbart has never been under more pressure than it is now, trying to establish itself as the premiere right-wing outlet even as liberal boycott threats have cost it hundreds of advertisers," said Will Sommer, who writes a newsletter on conservative media. "So now, any staffer who hurts Breitbart's request for respectability (and advertisers) can expect to be fired." Becca Stanek

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