Bloomberg reports that foreigners are tripping over themselves to unload their holdings of US treasuries:

In the age of Trump, America’s biggest foreign creditors are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

....From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear: few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now. Whether it’s the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world’s safest debt market seems less of a sure thing — particularly after the upswing in yields since November. And then there is Trump’s penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier.

....Combined with the unpredictability of Trump’s tweet storms, interest-rate increases in the U.S. could further sap overseas demand....Right now, it’s just “much easier to stay home than go abroad,” said Shyam Rajan, Bank of America’s head of U.S. rates strategy.

Hmmm. The age of Trump? According to the Treasury Department, the selloff started in June:

Preliminary figures from Japan suggest that December will be much the same as November, which means foreigners will have sold off nearly a half-trillion dollars worth of treasuries in six months. That's 7 percent of their total holdings. The only other time there's been a selloff this sustained was at the tail end of the dotcom boom.

But is it Trump's fault? Nobody thought he had a chance of winning until November, so it's hard to see how he could have caused uneasiness with federal debt back in June. I don't imagine Trump has done the US debt market any favors, but on this score, at least, I suspect he's getting more blame than he deserves.

I'm not a music person, so I have no particular personal opinion about Beyoncé's musical powers. However, I do have an opinion about the increasingly tedious insistence that every time she shows her face publicly she has absolutely crushed, slayed, and otherwise annihilated every other musician currently alive or who has ever lived. I figured the same thing would happen tonight at the Grammys. Sure enough, the Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon posted a thousand-word review of her performance that is, in tribute to Beyoncé's reality-warping power, time-stamped an hour before she actually performed. Here's a sample:

It’s a remarkable feat to resuscitate a nation while simultaneously taking their breath away, but such is the otherworldly power of Beyoncé...spiritual, sweeping...ethereal glow...jaw-dropping...leaps and bounds ahead of all her peers...trippy, spellbinding...a tribute to healing and resilience...Glorious is certainly one word to describe Sunday night’s galvanizing affair...ambitious, artistically audacious...she rises, and she lifts us up with her bold performance...gorgeous, provocative...It was glorious.

I assume the second use of "glorious" is because Fallon ran out of entries in his thesaurus.

Come on, folks. Beyoncé may be the best performer working today—I wouldn't know—but can we start treating her like an actual human being? This stuff is just embarrassing.

Here is more on President Trump's reading habits:

While Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps. “The president likes maps,” one official said.

One page with lots of graphics and maps? Is there room for any words at all? Hell, even comic books have words. We also learn this:

Two people with direct access to the White House leadership said Mr. Flynn was surprised to learn that the State Department and Congress play a pivotal role in foreign arms sales and technology transfers. So it was a rude discovery that Mr. Trump could not simply order the Pentagon to send more weapons to Saudi Arabia — which is clamoring to have an Obama administration ban on the sale of cluster bombs and precision-guided weapons lifted — or to deliver bigger weapons packages to the United Arab Emirates.

Congress keeps getting in his way! But I guess that's not going to last long. Here is Stephen Miller on Face the Nation, where John Dickerson asked him about yet another branch of government that's been getting in Trump's way:

We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government....The idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

Tough talk! Dickerson also asked Miller what Trump is planning to do about North Korea's "intolerable" ballistic missile test yesterday:

MILLER: So you saw the president following through on exactly what he said he would. He went out last night in front of the TV cameras and stood shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister of Japan and sent a message to the whole world that we stand with our allies....

DICKERSON: So no other show of strength in terms of military —

MILLER: That show last night was a show of strength, saying that we stand with our ally. Having the two men appear on camera worldwide to all of planet earth was a statement that will be understood very well by North Korea.

That's...not so tough. In political movies, the final act often has the president going in front of the cameras and saying something strong and resolute—which somehow makes the opposition melt away. I guess Miller and Trump believe this is how the real world works too. Merely appearing on camera is a show of strength that will surely stop these North Korean tests in their tracks.

Then again, Trump has warned us many times that he doesn't like to signal military action before it happens. Maybe he's planning to lob a nuke at Pyongyang on Monday. Can anyone say for sure that he won't?

Your Morning Trump

First up, here is Haaretz today on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's phone conversation with President Trump a couple of weeks ago:

Netanyahu said that he told Trump that he supports the two-state solution and a final status agreement, but stressed that he told the president that the Palestinians are unwilling and detailed the reasons why a peace deal cannot be reached at this time...."Trump believes in a deal and in running peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu stressed. "We should be careful and not do things that will cause everything to break down. We mustn't get into a confrontation with him."

The strong implication here is that Netanyahu has no intention of negotiating a two-state final agreement, but he's telling everyone to smile and nod when Trump insists on trying to broker one. Eventually Trump will give up, and in the meantime he has to be suckered into believing that Israel was earnest about a peace deal all along.

Next up, a Trump friend throws Reince Priebus under the bus:

One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff.

....Ruddy went on to detail his critique of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus: “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”

The fact that Ruddy said this on national TV and then to the Post right after talking with Trump means that he must have Trump's implicit blessing to run this up the flagpole and see what happens. It's remarkable that there are so many rumors about senior administration officials leaving or getting fired a mere three weeks into Trump's term.

And speaking of senior officials, the odious Stephen Miller was on TV this morning, and with only a couple of exceptions nearly every word out of his mouth about voter fraud was a lie:

Here's a detailed takedown of Miller's claim that 14 percent of all noncitizens are registered to vote. Here's the Washington Post with "bushels of Pinocchios" in a long fact check of everything Miller said. And here's Josh Marshall pointing out that Miller also lied this morning about foreigners pouring into the country to plot acts of terrorism. Naturally Trump was delighted: "Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!"

I honestly don't know how TV networks should handle the Trump White House. On the one hand, they have to cover the president. And that means putting his aides on the air.

On the other hand, his aides have made it clear that they will use these opportunities to flatly lie over and over and over. They don't care if the interviewer badgers them for evidence and they don't even care if the interviewer chastises them for fibbing. They just want to give their lies a public airing, and they know that most of the audience can't judge who's right and probably doesn't trust TV interviewers all that much anyway. And unlike print reporters, TV folks pretty much have to allow unedited remarks to go on the air.

So what's the answer? This is not a new problem, but the scale has changed so much under Trump that it might as well be new.

Health Update

Nothing new to report this month. My immune system is fine. My platelets are fine. My calcium is fine, my lactate dehydrogenase is fine, my liver is fine, my creatinine is fine, and my beta-2 microglobulins are fine. And of course, my all-important M-protein level is stable, which means the cancer is being held at bay. For now, everything is just fine.

Am I wearing out my welcome with all my little lists? Maybe, but it occurred to me yesterday that we needed a record of the never-ending flow of leaks from the White House (and elsewhere) that are seemingly designed to show what an idiot Donald Trump is. Leaks, of course, are common, but leaks designed to embarrass the president aren't. Especially in the first month of a new administration.

So here it is. It might not be exhaustive, but I tried to include everything that Google and I could remember. Additions welcome.

Donald Trump keeps saying that the murder rate is the highest it's been in 45 years. This is wildly untrue, but other people are joining the bandwagon anyway. Jeff Sessions says the current rise in crime is a "dangerous permanent trend." Talk show hosts agree. America is a dark and dangerous place, and it's getting more dangerous all the time.

Aside from outright lies, a lot of this is based on cherry-picked statistics. The murder rate in Chicago has skyrocketed over the past three years. Los Angeles has seen a substantial rise in its violent crime rate. Etc. But if you're interested in the whole picture, I have it for you below, complete and un-cherry-picked.

You're all used to seeing long-term crime charts from me because I'm usually illustrating the effect of lead on crime over the past 50 or 60 years. Those charts show national crime rates plummeting in the 90s and early aughts. This time, though, the chatter is all about recent increases in murder and violent crime in big cities. For starters, then, here are the basic numbers for the past decade on violent crime in large cities from the National Crime Victimization Survey:1

The data goes through 2015,2 and shows that big-city violent crime did tick upward slightly in 2015. More generally, though, violent crime has displayed a noisy but steadily downward trend over the past decade. In 2015, violent crime in big cities was nearly a third lower than it was in 2007.

Next up is violent crime from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. This is based on reports from police departments, and includes detailed data at the city level. Here are violent crime rates in America's ten biggest cities3 through the first half of 2016:4

Some big cities have indeed shown worrying upward trends: Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles are all up over the past two or three years. At the same time, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Diego are all down. More generally, except for San Antonio every single one of these cities has a lower violent crime rate than in 2006, ranging from 4 percent down (San Jose) to 40 percent down (Dallas and Philadelphia). The overall violent crime rate for all big cities is up over the past two years, but still lower than it was in 2006.

Finally, here are the murder rates in our ten biggest cities:

Chicago, obviously, is a big outlier, with a high and rising murder rate (up 53 percent over the past two years). The three biggest cities in Texas have also seen big recent increases. Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and New York City are down compared to 2015.

You can draw different conclusions from this data depending on what you look at.5 However, this is the best data we have. This is reality. Whatever you decide to say about violent crime, it needs to be based on this.


1The NCVS data on violent crime doesn't include homicide because, obviously, you can't call up people and ask if they've been murdered in the past year. Generally speaking, however, violent crime as a category includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

2Unlike the other charts in this post, this one starts in 2007 because the Bureau of Justice Statistics warns that a change in methodology in 2006 makes it difficult to compare 2006 to other years.

3Because of a dispute over methodology, Chicago has no official numbers for forcible rape before 2015. Because of this, it also has no official numbers for violent crime. However, it's pretty easy to create a close estimate of the rape rate and then use that to recreate the violent crime rate. That's what I've done here.

4I've annualized the rates for the first half of 2016 so they're comparable to the other years.

5It's worth mentioning that property crime is also down over the past decade. Ditto for crime in smaller cities and towns. I haven't shown any of that here because big-city violent crime seems to be the topic of the moment. However, you might be interested in a little-known bit of crime trivia that will surprise most people: violent crime in big cities has fallen so much that it's actually lower than anyplace else. The safest places in America are the biggest and smallest cities. It's the medium-sized cities that now have the biggest violent crime problems.

Donald Trump's implicit appeal during the presidential campaign was his status as a complete outsider, a proverbial bull in a china shop who didn't care if pearl clutching elites took to their fainting couches while he turned their Ivy League world upside down. Was he ignorant? Sure, maybe, but that's what the country needed: someone with common sense who would just go ahead and do the right thing and not worry about smashing the crockery along the way.

But just as Theresa May and her fellow Brexiteers are learning that the real world is more complicated than they thought, Trump is learning that just because he doesn't know something doesn't mean it's not important:

President Trump, who presented himself as a staunch supporter of Israel during last year’s campaign, took a harder line on settlements in an interview published on Friday and indicated that he was rethinking his promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem....Mr. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, have been exploring an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative that would enlist Arab allies, and a host of Arab leaders have told the new president that provocative pro-Israel positions would not help.

....“They don’t help the process,” Mr. Trump said of settlements in the Israel Hayom interview. “I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left.” He added: “I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

Imagine that. Trump and Kushner have talked to Arab leaders—for the first time ever, I imagine—and discovered that they have big issues with things like settlements and Jerusalem. It wasn't just a bunch of milksop lefty nonsense after all. It was reality.

But this lesson still hasn't filtered down to his UN ambassador:

This is all very Trumpish: Obama coddled the Palestinians, therefore we don't like them and oppose their appointment to anything. As it turns out, a moment's worth of consultation would have informed Haley that Salam Fayyad is widely respected, including within Israel. He's long been a moderate, anti-Hamas, anti-corruption voice in the Palestinian Authority, and he was appointed to the Libya mission by a newly installed UN chief who is notably more sympathetic to Israel than his predecessors. The "signal" his appointment sent was a very pro-Western one.

But once again, bumper stickers won the day.

As if National Security Advisor Michael Flynn doesn't already have enough bad news on his plate, today he got some more:

On Friday, one of Flynn’s closest deputies on the National Security Council, senior director for Africa Robin Townley, was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency had rejected his request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

That forced Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer who had long maintained a top secret-level security clearance, out of his NSC post, explained the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters. One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.

Flynn has been sharply critical of the CIA, and apparently he's regarded by some in the White House as waging "a jihad against the intelligence community." So was this a little chin music by the CIA to warn Flynn to back off? Or was there really some kind of problem with Townley? Maybe someday we'll find out.

According to a new PPP poll released today, here are some of the views of people who voted for Donald Trump:

Now, before you all get too bent out of shape, I'd like to point out that there's some good news here: only 14 percent of Trump's supporters want to invade Mexico. Not so bad, eh?

I'd also like to point out that a week ago I predicted that lots of Trump supporters would hear about the Bowling Green massacre but only a few would hear that it didn't actually happen. Well, I was right. Belief in the BGM outscored disbelief 51-23 percent. And isn't that what's really important? That I was right?