As Congress sees a shutdown as increasingly inevitable, the president sees a chance to show more swagger.
Mr. Trump’s embrace of a shutdown has given lawmakers on both sides the freedom to throw up their hands and claim this whole mess is beyond their control. The mood around the Capitol is less one of urgency and activity than of fatalism. Last week, Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Congress looked to be “headed down the road to nowhere.”
.. Not only did Speaker Paul Ryan fail to mobilize lawmakers for a vote on Mr. Trump’s $5 billion, but many lame-duck members couldn’t be bothered to show up for work at all. (Nothing like an electoral rout to take the starch out of a conference.) Counting, much less whipping, the vote became all but impossible. By Thursday, House leaders gave up and sent members home for a six-day weekend.
.. On the Senate side, Mr. Schumer’s office is insisting that everything depends on whether the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, can persuade the president to embrace a deal that Democrats can live with. The latest offer on the table is for a one-year “continuing resolution,” or C.R., that would delay the fight by temporarily funding parts of the government at current levels.
Shutdowns are especially fertile ground for Mr. Trump because they pit him against a political establishment that, as he sees it, obstinately refuses to pay proper deference to his genius. He has repeatedly voiced frustration at Congress’s unwillingness to lie back and let him run things as he sees fit.
Threatening to throw the government into chaos — to furlough, or in the case of personnel deemed “essential,”withhold paychecks from hundreds of thousands of workers, includingFood and Drug Administration inspectors, Transportation Security Administration inspectors and, paradoxically, Border Patrol agents — lets him exact a bit of cathartic payback, reminding lawmakers just how uncomfortable he can make their lives.
Chest thumping and trash talking remain central to Mr. Trump’s brand as a disrupter. His followers thrill to him precisely because of his pugilistic, vaguely unhinged personality. The more he rails against politics as usual, the more his base swoons.
As for those who see Mr. Trump as behaving like a petulant toddler, he doesn’t have to face their electoral judgment for another two years — an eternity in politics.
For now, the president can relish playing the tough guy. Even if he winds up folding, he’ll doubtless toss out some alternative facts and declare victory. As usual, he has ensured that this holiday season’s drama is all about him.
for more than two decades during the Cold War, the public was bombarded by an enormous publicity campaign to shape American views of Russia and its foreign policy.
.. in 1950, it created Radio Free Europe, a government-sponsored broadcasting station. Ostensibly, it provided unbiased news for Eastern Europeans, but in fact the agency used it to wage a subversive campaign to weaken Communist governments behind the Iron Curtain.
.. how to hide the agency’s hand? How to account for the millions of C.I.A. dollars pouring into the broadcasting station? Simple: pretend that ordinary Americans are paying the bills.
.. a well-heeled and well-connected front group, the National Committee for a Free Europe. Each year it ran an enormous fund-raising campaign called the Crusade for Freedom
.. annual appeals resembling a hybrid of World War II war bond campaigns and contemporary NPR pledge drives.
.. Even newspaper delivery boys played a part, soliciting donations from subscribers on their paper routes.
.. They dutifully wrote checks to Radio Free Europe, and their contributions were magnified by gifts from many of the country’s biggest corporations, yielding, on average, about $1 million annually.
It wasn’t enough: The donations barely covered the cost of running the “fund-raising drives,” to say nothing of Radio Free Europe’s $30 million annual budgets. But that wasn’t the point.
.. the C.I.A. saw that it could exploit the fund-raising campaign as a conduit for domestic propaganda.
.. It provided the leitmotif for Reagan’s denunciations of the “evil empire” in the 1980s. One can even hear echoes in Donald Trump’s recent speech to the United Nations: His long digression on the evils of socialism seems drawn from the heated rhetoric of ads gone by.
.. The crusade blasted all information from enemy sources as lies and deceit — fake news, we could say. This counter-propaganda sought to inoculate the public from being receptive to anything said by the other side. It’s a tactic we’ve seen play out in real time on the president’s Twitter feed.
.. Radio Free Europe itself — which continues to operate out of its headquarters in Prague — has shaped Vladimir Putin’s worldview. Russia has long tried to claim Eastern Europe as its sphere of influence. Moscow hated the station for its meddling. As a K.G.B. officer, Mr. Putin no doubt spent many hours fretting over its activities in the Soviet bloc. It was a major irritant. He may even see the 2016 election hack as a way to even the score. If so, it’s payback indeed.