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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

 
69 years ago today

by digby











Trump and his voters would like to reverse that too, I'm sure.


.

 
I guess he showed them

by digby




Trump put all those "moderates" in their place with this one:
After a week sparring with his attorney general and steaming over the Russia investigation consuming his agenda, President Donald Trump was closing in on an important win.

House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.


But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex reassignment operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.

They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.

Trump’s sudden decision was, in part, a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat, numerous congressional and White House sources said.

The president had always planned to scale back President Barack Obama-era policies welcoming such individuals in combat and greenlighting the military to pay for their medical treatment plans. But a behind-the-scenes GOP brawl threatening to tank a Pentagon funding increase and wall construction hastened Trump’s decision.

Numerous House conservatives and defense hawks this week had threatened to derail their own legislation if it did not include a prohibition on Pentagon funding for gender reassignment surgeries, which they deem a waste of taxpayer money. But GOP leaders were caught in a pinch between those demands and moderate Republicans who felt the proposal was blatantly discriminatory.

“There are several members of the conference who feel this really needs to be addressed,” said senior House Appropriations Committee member Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) on Tuesday. “This isn’t about the transgender issue; it’s about the taxpayer dollars going to pay for the surgery out of the defense budget."

That’s why House lawmakers took the matter to the Trump administration. And when Defense Secretary James Mattis refused to immediately upend the policy, they went straight to the White House. Trump — never one for political correctness — was all too happy to oblige.

“[P]lease be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

The president’s directive, of course, took the House issue a step beyond paying for gender reassignment surgery and other medical treatment. House Republicans were never debating expelling all transgender troops from the military.

"This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire,” said one senior House Republican aide. The source said that while GOP leaders asked the White House for help, they weren't expecting — and got no heads up on — Trump's far-reaching directive.

While Democrats and centrist Republicans are already blasting the move, one White House official said the decision would be "seen as common-sense" by millions — though likely vociferously protested by others.

"It's not the worst thing in the world to have this fight," the administration official said.

The announcement, multiple sources said, did not sit well with Mattis, who appeared to be trying to avoid the matter in recent weeks. Congressional sources say Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), the original author of the House’s transgender proposal, tried numerous times to phone Mattis to discuss the transgender issue.

He only got back to her the day she forced the matter on the House floor in mid-July.

It is unclear what Mattis told Hartzler at that time. But insiders say he felt there was no need to rush upending the policy, arguing the Pentagon needed time to study the issue. Their decision would affect at least 2,450 transgender active-military personnel, according to a Rand report — though military LGBT activist groups as many as as 15,000 soldiers fall into that category.

After lawmakers went around Mattis to engage the White House, Mattis was consulted before the announcement and knew the ban was being considered, according to several White House officials. But the decision ultimately came down from Trump and was "White House-driven," Trump aides said.

The president was also annoyed by the Pentagon delay, one person said. A different official said the White House had gotten positive reaction from conservatives, an important factor amid their displeasure with Trump's recent bashing of Jeff Sessions.

There was no deliberation, no understanding of the full dimension of the issue. The far right wingnuts went to him and told him that his favorite pet issues were being threatened and he just issued an edict. On twitter.

I hope people understand what this means. The president will act like a dictator without a second thought if he can get away with it.

And who's going to stop him? The "moderates"?

lol

Update: Wow

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter. 



.
 
Stephen, Stephen, Stephen

by digby


Last night was a good one:











 
This is what leadership looks like to little kids today

by digby




The Boy Scout Jamboree blog posted this before Trump's visit. Obviously, they knew what was possible:

As a unit leader or staff member, you can help make the president’s visit a success by ensuring that any reactions to the president’s address are, as we state in our Scout Law, friendly, courteous, and kind. This includes understanding that chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. “build the wall,” “lock her up”) are considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction between individuals and units. Please help us ensure that all Scouts can enjoy this historical address by making sure that your troop members are respectful not only of the president, but of the wide variety of viewpoints held by Scouts and Scouters in the audience tonight.

What a sad comment on our country that the Boy Scouts had to warn their members about not joining in the disgusting divisive, misogynist, racist  rhetoric of the President of the United States.

Even sadder that he went there --- and that the crowd booed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, led by that fascist creep who went on to allude to orgies on yachts in front of a group of teen-age boys.


1. Trump starts off by marveling at the size of the crowd and attacking the press.

“Boy, you have a lot of people here. The press will say it’s about 200 people. [Laughter.] It looks like about 45,000 people. You set a record today. [Applause.] You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me. Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about that with the fake news and all of that. [Applause.] We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams … I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts, right?”

2. Trump calls our nation’s capital a “cesspool.” 

“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact, today, I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool, or perhaps, to the word sewer. But it’s not good. Not good.” [Applause.]

3. Trump boasts that ten members of his cabinet were Boy Scouts, then threatens to fire one of them.

“Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.”

[Applause. Crowd chants “USA! USA! USA!”]

“He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say ‘Tom, you’re fired!’ I’ll get somebody. [Applause.] He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it. Hopefully they’ll do it.”


4. Trump says we need more “loyalty,” doesn’t explain what he’s referring to.
“As the Scout Law says: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal’ — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”

5. Trump marvels at the size of the crowd and attacks the “fake media” for refusing to show it (though CNN aired the speech).

“I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible. By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero? [Applause.] The fake media will say: President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today. That’s some — that is some crowd. [Applause.] Fake media. Fake news. Thank you.”

6. Trump attacks his predecessor for failing to address the Boy Scouts (Obama sent a video message in 2010).
[Audience chants, “We love Trump! We love Trump! We love Trump!”]

“By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?”

[Audience shouts, “No!”]

“And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no, but we’ll be back.”

7. Trump tells a long, meandering story about the real-estate developer William Levitt and alludes to “interesting” activities he engaged in on his yacht. 

“[Levitt] he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. At the time especially — this was a long time ago — [he] sold his company for a tremendous amount of money. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go on any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.”

[Audience boos.]

“Should I tell you? Should I tell you?”

[Audience shouts, “Yes!”]

“Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life. So — look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?”

“So, he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate …” [Trump explains that years later Levitt bought his company back.]

“He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored, too. Believe me. Of course, having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.”

8. Trump recalls meeting Levitt at a hot New York party.

“In the end he failed, and he failed badly. Lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people — he came up and discovered — really founded — Time Warner and he was a great guy.”

“He had a lot of successful people at the party. And I was doing well so I got invited to the party. I was very young, and I go in — but I’m in the real-estate business — and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business …”

[Trump recognizes Levitt.] “So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, ‘I’m Donald Trump.’ He said ‘I know.’”

9. Trump tells the boys the lesson to take from Levitt’s life is not to lose “momentum” — but if you do, that’s okay, too.

“But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment. And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum. Meaning, he took this period of time off long — years — and then when he got back, he didn’t have the same momentum. In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it that’s okay. Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word momentum.”

10. Trump recalls his victory on November 8, and attacks the “dishonest people” for doubting that he could win.

“Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8. Do we remember that date? [Applause.] Was that a beautiful date? [Applause.] What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump? They forgot about the forgotten people. By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They’re going crazy trying to figure it out. But I told them, far too late. It’s far too late.”

“But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say?” [Applause.]

11. Trump goes through his victories state by state and criticizes Hillary Clinton. 

And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier. Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania. [Applause.] We won and won. So when they said there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270, I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. But we won — one vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years — Michigan came in. And we worked hard there. My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —”

[Audience boos.]

12. Trump thanks his audience — which again, consisted largely of children — for voting for him in November. 

“[Clinton] was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move — she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move? And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan? They’re coming back to Ohio. They’re starting to peel back in.” [Applause.]

“And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds. I’d say, why are we going to lose this state? The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.” [Applause.]

“So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, this is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”

[Audience chants “USA! USA! USA!”]

13. Trump makes a false claim about the latest jobs reports, and updates the kids on his tax-repatriation plan. 

“We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high. We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America.”

14. Trump assures the Scouts, out of nowhere, that they can finally say “Merry Christmas” again. 

“In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. [Applause.] And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. [Applause.] They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, folks.” [Applause.]



It makes me feel like crying. The celebration of rank stupidity, the crude brutality, the incessant bragging, the whining and the lying in front of a bunch of cheering and jeering boy scouts is almost physically painful to watch.

That's being imprinted on this next generation as leadership.

.
 
Brilliant strategery

by digby



Apparently the geniuses in the Trump political operation think the next election is going to be about transgender people in the military instead of the deranged, cretinous, orange Commander in Chief of the military.

Good luck with that.


.

 
"He will torture him every single day"

by digby




I wrote about Trump and Sessions for Salon this morning:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is so committed to his draconian white nationalist agenda that he’s willing to allow the president of the United States to repeatedly humiliate, denigrate and demean him in public rather than resign. And the president who made his name growling “You’re fired” every week on his reality TV show is reported to be unable to personally fire anyone in real life, so he’s instead displaying what MSNBC’s Chris Hayes has called “titanic levels of passive-aggressiveness” with his constant expressions of “disappointment” in his attorney general.

Donald Trump has always been a big fan of torture and according to Politico, that’s part of the fun for him here:
“He wants to fire him but he doesn’t want the confrontation,” said one adviser who frequently speaks to him. “He doesn’t mind the long negative storyline. He will torture him every single day.”
This person said Trump also wants to see how Sessions will respond to humiliation and has mocked his response so far.

It’s embarrassing to watch at this point. This administration is a bad soap opera on a good day, and these two are the rival divas of the moment. But the drama obscures the serious issue that lies at the heat of this dispute. Our president is abusing the powers of his office to try to stop an investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign and his own possible complicity in the crime.

It’s not necessary to go over all the weirdness of Trump’s strange affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin again. This has been well documented, and nobody has yet fully explained his motives in any persuasive way. Considering all the evidence of Russian government meddling and the contacts with members of his campaign, investigations are necessary. That Trump cannot seem to grasp this and is so determined to shut down any inquiry only raises the suspicions even higher.

Trump seems to be ordering Sessions to go after Hillary Clinton and James Comey, which is highly inappropriate in itself. Over the weekend, he sent this series of tweets:
















Suggesting that the attorney general go after his defeated rival and the former FBI director and start hunting for leakers among their own ranks is bound to blow back on him. On top of his swipes at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Trump seems to be determined to antagonize the entire Department of Justice and the intelligence community for reasons that are both self-serving and self-destructive.


Trump has been complaining bitterly about people he perceives as disloyal to him; he disparaged Sessions’ early endorsement of his campaign in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, suggesting that it was to Sessions’ advantage, not his own. At a news conference on Tuesday with the prime minister of Lebanon, the president refused to say that he wouldn’t fire Sessions, saying, “Time will tell, time will tell …”

Trump is obviously upset by the revelations about Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner taking that meeting with the Russian lawyer and has reportedly told confidantes that he’s worried about special counsel Robert Mueller getting ahold of his tax returns. Clearly, he is also panicked by the fact that the Russia investigation is now turning to look at his family’s finances. Trump told the New York Times that he considers this a “violation,” as if he were unaware until now that law enforcement always follows the facts wherever they lead. This realization that his finances will be scrutinized seems to have unhinged him even more than usual. Believing that he could run for president without serious legal exposure, as may very well be the case, was the craziest thing he’s done — and that’s saying something.


Trump certainly has no understanding of the role the attorney general plays in our system and the requirement that he be independent from exactly this sort of interference. The irony is that during Sessions’ Senate career on the Judiciary Committee he was specifically known for his insistence that officials in the Department of Justice be completely independent of the executive branch, often haranguing nominees on the subject during confirmation hearings. (He memorably did that here to former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — later fired by Trump for being too independent.)

Most experts speculate that the president believes that driving Sessions from office will allow him to appoint a new A.G. who won’t need to recuse himself or herself from the Russia probe and can then keep a tight leash on the Mueller investigation, or even end it. For a variety of reasons, that’s unlikely. And in the process, Trump is blowing himself up.

We’ve wondered for months what it might take for the president to lose his base of support, and treating a far-right loyalist like Jeff Sessions as his personal doormat might just be it. The right-wing media, starting with Breitbart News, is very unhappy about this. They have reminded their readers that it was Trump who backed away from their religious crusade to put Hillary Clinton in jail. (The congressional committees are following their president’s orders and getting ready to “investigate” Clinton again, so that should appease them a bit.)

Rush Limbaugh said that while he agrees there was no reason for Sessions to recuse himself, he’s a by-the-book legal mind and it’s “a little bit discomforting, unseemly for Trump to go after such a loyal supporter this way. Especially when Sessions made it obvious he’s not gonna resign.” The Drudge Report’s banner headline read “Civil War” on Tuesday morning.

Right-wing media is not Trump’s only problem. Republican senators are speaking out as well:










Members of the Cabinet are also starting to freak out. Erick Erickson reported that he spoke with one Cabinet member who said: “If he can get treated that way, what about the rest of us? … It’s more of a clusterf**k than you even know.” This Cabinet member confirmed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is seriously considering quitting and said that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is also bothered by Trump’s behavior.

Despite his hiring of a new communications director, the president seems to be hurtling more and more out of control, and it’s finally starting to penetrate the right-wing bubble. So far they seem to be most concerned about the mistreatment of one of Trump’s most loyal soldiers. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that this also demonstrates how little Trump really cares about their agenda.

Sessions is the most effective member of the Trump administration, working day and night to take the nation back to the ’50s — the 1850s. Donald Trump could not care less.

Trump only cares about Trump. It’s amazing it’s taken them this long to see that.


 

"We have seen this with cults and religions."

by Tom Sullivan


Saucepan Revolution, Iceland, 2008-2009.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., appeared on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night after the Senate voted 51-50 to begin debate on ... something unspecified related to gutting Americans' access to health care. Warren was defiant, visibly shaken, and emotional at the prospect that Republicans might vote to take away health care coverage from tens of millions. Madame professor was gone. A mother was speaking:

For me, it's about the families ... This is about the mammas and the daddies who were out there, who ended up just creating a crowd this afternoon after our vote to stand on the steps of the United States Capitol and to plead, plead for health care coverage for their children.
Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote for Republicans to begin debate after Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a few days out of brain surgery, flew in on a private jet to vote for the motion. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who had reason to give Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) his middle finger, spent ten minutes speaking with a tense and red-faced McConnell before voting aye after McCain did.

There will be a lot of histrionics over the next few days, but even for Republicans they could be meaningless even if something passes out of the Senate. David Dayen and Ryan Grim explain at The Intercept:
This upends the long-standing promise McConnell made these wavering senators over health care. He said repeatedly that they would have the opportunity to amend the bill to their liking on the floor, if they’d only pass a motion to proceed. Even in his floor speech before the vote, McConnell referred to an “open amendment” process, where Senators could “work their will.”

But what McConnell has set in motion would rob these Senators of that ability.

That’s because skinny repeal is just a vehicle to advance the process, as Thune articulated. What’s in it doesn’t really matter, and that includes any additional amendments senators manage to attach. The real action would occur in that House-Senate conference negotiation, where the leadership teams of both Republican caucuses would hash out the final bill. Portman, Murkowski, Heller and their colleagues would be as distant from that negotiation as they were from knowing what they would voted on today.

And then the so-called moderates, with no chance to pass an amendment, would be told to vote for the bill out of party solidarity, to keep the seven-year promise of repealing Obamacare. They would face enormous pressure to advance a bill they had no say on. It is the exact opposite of what McConnell promised.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told a crowd following the vote:
Make no mistake about it: There is no doubt-and we all know when the bill gets to conference-who’s going to call the shots. The Freedom Caucus which will be for full repeal or something even worse than what came from the House. And remember-on the House bill, a whole number of Republican Senators said they wouldn’t vote for it.

Those Republicans promised they could make changes will face an up-or-down vote on whatever emerges from the conference, with even more pressure to pass it than they faced on Tuesday.

After the vote, McCain delivered a self-serving lecture about how the Senate doesn't behave like the Senate anymore, having just reaffirmed the non-deliberative process he decried. That he drew plaudits for a speech after failing to take a stand spoke more loudly than his words. Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, spoke with Slate after the vote. What is on display in the Senate, particularly among Republicans "of otherwise admirable character and intelligence," is behavior similar to people fearful of being shunned by their tribes. "We have seen this with cults and religions." Ornstein explains our system is supposed to defend itself against, "I will be blunt, a deranged president." And yet, members with larger responsibilities are jumping to his tune. "This vote tells me: Be very afraid."

Clearly, some Democrats are. Warren is.

Yes, this is very tiresome. But that's how it is with zealots. When you run out of steam, they run right over you. Not this time. Look, I'm not the protesty type. But I ran by a dollar store the other day and grabbed a cheap pot and a wooden spoon to keep in the car. You never know where you'll be when a deranged president fires Robert Mueller and sparks "the greatest constitutional crisis since Watergate." Besides, I might need them before that. I thought what Icelanders did in 2008-2009 was pretty cool.

Go watch the Warren interview (can't embed here).





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

 
MSNBC Number One

by digby



It isn't just the Trump bump:

MSNBC finished as the most-watched network in all of basic cable in primetime on Monday, for the first time in its 21-year history, according to Nielsen Research. 
The Comcast-owned network averaged 2.34 million viewers, edging Fox News and its average of 2.25 million. Disney's 1.74 million viewers, USA Network's 1.57 million viewers and HGTV's 1.51 million viewers rounded out the top five. 
Cable news rival CNN finished ninth behind the Discovery Channel in total viewers in primetime, averaging 875,000 viewers. 
Fox News still finished first in the "Total Day" (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.) category, extending its winning streak over all basic cable channels to 29 consecutive weeks, averaging 1.4 million viewers. 
New daily developments regarding investigations into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with Trump campaign associates has been a boon for progressive MSNBC, particularly host Rachel Maddow. 
Maddow again had the No. 1 program of the week in cable news, averaging 2.94 million total viewers and 711,000 in the key 25-54 demographic advertisers covet most. In all of basic cable, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) on USA Network was the most-watched, with Maddow coming in second.

MSNBC's shows consistently have an interesting  rotation of experts, pundits, reporters and political insiders while CNN hasa format of featuring the same people spouting predictable talking points day after day. It's dull.

Fox, of course, is simply in Bizarroworld.

.
 
Trump and his mini-me

by digby




 
About that incivility

by digby

We're being admonished not to say anything critical of John McCain's vote to proceed with the destruction of health care for millions of people because it would be indecent considering what he's dealing with.

Just a little reminder:



Note that those signed were printed.

.


 
"I think he's crazy"

by digby





Yeah, no kidding:


At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday morning, Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) didn’t switch off her microphone. Apparently speaking to Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat of the committee, Collins discussed the federal budget — and President Trump’s lack of familiarity with the details of governing.

After Reed praises Collins’s handling of the hearing, held by the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she laments the administration’s handling of spending.

“I swear, [the Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was ‘grant,’ they just X it out,” Collins says. “With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It’s just incredibly irresponsible.”

“Yes,” Reed replies. “I think — I think he’s crazy,” apparently referring to the president. “I mean, I don’t say that lightly and as a kind of a goofy guy.”

“I’m worried,” Collins replies.

“Oof,” Reed continues. “You know, this thing — if we don’t get a budget deal, we’re going to be paralyzed.”

“I know,” Collins replies.

 Twitter Ads info and privacy
“[Department of Defense] is going to be paralyzed, everybody is going to be paralyzed,” Reed says.

“I don’t think he knows there is a [Budget Control Act] or anything,” Collins says, referring to a 2011 law that defines the budget process.

“He was down at the Ford commissioning,” Reed says, referring to President Trump’s weekend event launching a new aircraft carrier, “saying, ‘I want them to pass my budget.’ Okay, so we give him $54 billion and then we take it away across the board which would cause chaos.”

“Right,” Collins replies.

“It’s just — and he hasn’t — not one word about the budget. Not one word about the debt ceiling,” Reed says.

“Good point,” Collins replies.

“You’ve got [Budget Director Mick] Mulvaney saying we’re going to put in all sorts of stuff like a border wall. Then you’ve got [Treasury Secretary Steve] Mnuchin saying it’s got to be clean,” Reed continues. “We’re going to be back in September, and, you know, you’re going to have crazy people in the House.”

Yikes.

And now he's insisting that the DOJ  prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Will Sessions be fired? I don't know. But this could be something that finally dislodges some members of the base.They don't care about much of anything he does but this might shake them a bit.

.
 
The health care holy grail

by digby




I wrote about it for Salon:

Going all the way back to the first months of Barack Obama’s administration, when the Tea Party rose up in the midst of the worst economic crisis in half a century to oppose heath care reform, I’ve been struck by the right’s visceral loathing for the concept of expanding access to health insurance. There’s almost a cultish component to this opposition, an apparent belief that health care is a devil’s bargain of some sort that will doom America to burn in hell. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated in the long months of hearings and town halls back in 2009, its opponents worked themselves up into a frenzy of outrage over a market-friendly program that would allow people to have access to health care at a reasonable cost and wouldn’t discriminate against sick people.

Did all the stories of suffering and financial ruin associated with lack of health care not move them at all? Did they believe it could never happen to them, that they or their loved ones could never lose their health insurance or go bankrupt from medical bills? Beyond the obvious fact that they hated President Obama and that their team was against government in general so they were too, I never understood the overwhelming rage this seemed to induce in so many Republicans. It exposed a streak of cruelty in some Americans that I have to admit surprised me.

Since last November’s election the ACA has grown substantially in popularity. Nonetheless,the GOP majority in Congress is hellbent on repealing it even though they clearly have absolutely no idea what to do about the inevitable chaos that will ensue. It’s a crusade whose purpose is no longer clear — the act itself is apparently the goal.

At this point, Republicans aren’t under particular pressure from the faction of their coalition one might expect to push for this repeal. Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, many businesses and the AARP are all on record opposing the current GOP strategy. Some of their big ideological donors, including the Koch brothers, support repeal but don’t seem to be making a huge deal out of it. The most loyal base supporters want it, of course. They also want a 2,000-mile border wall and think that Donald Trump is going to bring back the Industrial Revolution. But the fear of the Tea Party running primaries against anyone who fails to vote for this seems overblown at this point. That bubble burst. (Early indications are that Republicans are lagging far behind in candidate recruitment for the 2018 midterms.)

This is just a mindless drive for a “win,” in order to justify a cynical political ploy that energized their voters to oppose the hated Obama and took on a life of its own. Now Republicans would rather see people’s lives destroyed than admit to all that.

The Senate will vote on Tuesday whether to proceed to debate on a bill that nobody except Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has seen. For all we know, the bill doesn’t yet exist. It’s possible they will be voting on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA) — which is total repeal, causing 32 million people to lose their health insurance — or the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate’s “repeal and replace” bill that will cause 22 million to lose insurance. That latter bill has changed so many times that nobody has any idea what’s in it. There are a number of provisions that have been rejected by the parliamentarian, some of which will result in a death spiral for the individual insurance industry — although there’s no reason to think Republicans care about that in the least.

Nothing matters at all except somehow getting to 50 votes in the Senate. And the truly astonishing thing is that through this entire chaotic process, the leadership has consistently had well over 40 votes, no matter what insane proposal it was contemplating. As Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said on Monday when asked if he was worried about what was in the bill, “it doesn’t concern me. As I said, I’ll vote for anything.”

Late in the day it was announced that Sen. John McCain would return to D.C. today to cast a vote despite having just undergone brain surgery. Why GOP leaders could not hold off on this vote for a week or so to allow him to recuperate a little more is a mystery. They’re in a big hurry to get this done. It is assumed that McCain would not return under such circumstances if he weren’t going to vote for the motion to proceed, so that much is likely a done deal. Whether there will be enough votes for whatever monstrosity McConnell eventually gets to the floor is still unknown.

But as I wrote last week, even if this effort fails in the Senate, that’s not the end of the story. Even more dispiriting, perhaps, President Donald Trump believes that such a failure has a silver lining since he can then sabotage the existing Obamacare law and “blame it on the Democrats,” which he believes is smart politics.

According to the Daily Beast, the administration is already using money designated to encourage enrollment in Obamacare to spread propaganda against the program and urge people to push their congressional representatives to repeal it, which is against the law. Your tax dollars are being used to fund the cynical partisan work of the Trump administration and the Republican Party. That’s just for starters.

As Ian Millhiser of Think Progress explains, due to some complicated legal issues, it’s possible that the Trump administration will simply stop paying the subsidies that make the Obamacare exchanges work. They could basically pull the fiscal plug, and that would be that. Politico reported last week:
Trump has repeatedly told aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments, and he has not changed his position, according to several people who have spoken with him. “Why are we making these payments?” Trump has asked.
This will throw the Obamacare exchanges into turmoil and chaos, which is evidently something he would very much enjoy. Polling shows that six in 10 Americans will blame Republicans for the catastrophe, but bear in mind that Donald Trump’s entire life has been organized around blaming others for his mistakes, so he’s confident he can pull this off too.

Tuesday is going to be a dramatic. If this latest attempt at repeal goes down in flames in the Senate, Republicans may have to table their dream for a little while. But they’ll come back with something. It’s a fixation. And until they do, Trump will have his henchmen do everything in their power to undermine the existing program. Either way, these people are going to ensure that the poor and middle class who have the bad luck to need Medicaid or individual insurance will pay the price.

.
 

The one-eyed man is president

by Tom Sullivan

A "Listening to America" RNC survey signed by Donald J. Trump is going around via email. Example: "Are you concerned by the potential spread of Sharia Law?" Trump wants to hear from "the REAL America." (I'm guessing readers of this blog do not qualify.) He writes:

The mainstream media and Hollywood love to tell you “how America is feeling.” But they know nothing. They live in a world where you get to your keep job even if you fail to get anything done.
We are going to have to come up something better than "irony is dead" for the Trump presidency. There's no tread left on it.

With any luck, Senate Republicans and their twittering leader will fail again today at getting anything done regarding the Affordable Care Act. Afterwards, perhaps Trump will fire someone and blame Hillary Clinton.

The scary part is they just might pull off something, whatever that is. Sam Baker writes at Axios:
* Stranger things have happened, but Sen. John McCain probably isn't taking a break from his brain-cancer treatments to travel 2,300 miles across the country so he can torpedo a bill about an issue he's never been especially invested in, which he could have torpedoed just as easily by staying in Arizona.

* If McCain is a "yes" on today's motion to proceed — and, sure, take nothing for granted, but if — then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a considerably better position.

* Sen. Susan Collins is a "no." But it sounds like Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee will get their request to begin the voting with a modified version of the 2015 straight-repeal vote. If those two support the motion to proceed, it would take two more moderates to join Collins and prevent a vote-a-rama.
If Sen. Mitch McConnell gets his motion to proceed, the legislative show will probably begin with a substitute amendment. Senate aides believe it would be the 2015 repeal-only bill. A version of the Republican repeal-and-replace scheme could come as an amendment to the amendment. Clear? After 20 hours of debate have expired, the Congressional Budget Office will not have time to score the final bill before voting occurs.

But to get there, McConnell will have to break out the big carrots and sticks on holdouts like Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Trump appeared yesterday at a national Boy Scouts gathering in Capito's West Virginia and told Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on stage that he'd better get Capito's vote. Talking Points Memo reports that Murkowski told reporters last week, “I have said all along that I felt that the Medicaid reforms should have been separate from the effort that we were undertaking with the ACA fixes.” There is no indication yet this morning on whether they are still no votes.

Others in the caucus are finding McConnell's closed-doors horse-trading offensive:
“It’s starting to feel like a bazaar, $50 billion here, $100 billion there, and I feel like it’s losing coherency so I hope that somehow or another it can move in a different direction,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters last week.

And then there’s the biggest question: will the replacement legislation be the actual final bill the Senate votes on, or will McConnell put forward a bill modeled after 2015 legislation that repealed Obamacare without a replacement, but with a two-year delay.

As of Monday evening, Republicans weren’t sure exactly which bill they’d be moving forward after Tuesday’s procedural vote.
Trump's incoherence is rubbing off.

UPDATE:
McConnell and his leadership team are throwing everything they have at wavering senators: the threat of political disaster if they fail, an open amendment process to allow their ideas to be debated — and the argument that a flawed Senate bill can be fixed later in conference negotiations with the House. Administration officials and senators are discussing adding as much as $100 billion more to earlier drafts to help low-income people with premiums, Republicans said, while senators also may consider a scaled back version of Obamacare repeal that would allow them to at least pass something in the Senate and get to conference, Republicans said.

[...]

Republicans are strongly considering a strategy that would tee up two separate votes — one on the repeal only and another on the plan the Senate has been working on to repeal and replace Obamacare.


Monday, July 24, 2017

 
"They would never do this to the Clintons"

by digby

via GIPHY



This made me laugh out loud:

Jason Chaffetz, who recently stepped down from the House of Representatives and into a Fox News gig, wondered why congressional investigators are focusing on Jared Kushner instead of Chelsea Clinton. 
Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser, released an 11-page statement detailing his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign ahead of his closed-door hearing with congressional lawmakers — and Chaffetz echoed President Donald Trump’s recent Twitter complaints. 
“Republicans need to get a backbone,” Chaffetz said. 
“Every time the Democrats say they need to call up Jared Kushner or Don Jr. — call up Chelsea Clinton, call up the Clintons.” 
The president tweeted over the weekend that Republicans had not done enough to protect him from the Russia investigation, and suggested Hillary Clinton should instead be the target — which Chaffetz endorsed. 
“There we have an inspector general who issues a report stating an actual crime,” Chaffetz said. “You have Bill Clinton, the former president, taking millions and millions of dollars from countries, that Hillary Clinton is going in and then doing business.” 
“So every time a Democrat says ‘I gotta talk to Donald Trump Jr.,’ then go up and bring Chelsea Clinton in there,” Chaffetz continued, “because she was involved in the Benghazi situation, she was involved with the (Clinton) Foundation.” 
He didn’t detail what possible crimes Chelsea Clinton may have committed, but Chaffetz said it was ridiculous that congressional investigators wanted to speak with Kushner about the foreign contacts and loans he failed to disclose on his security clearance forms. 
“They would never, ever, ever do this to the Clintons,” Chaffetz said.

ROTFLMAO!!!!

Yeah, they Clintons are immune from investigations.

Well, except for the dozens of bogus investigations including impeachment during the 90s and Cheffetz's own Benghazi crusade. But other than that ...

More here from Wonkette. Oy ...


.


 
Oh those darned Republican women

by digby


They're ruining everything:


During a radio interview on a Corpus Christi station last Friday, Farenthold said he finds it “absolutely repugnant” that “the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do.”

Farenthold singled out female senators for opposing the repeal of Obamacare, before suggesting that if they were men, he’d ask them to settle things with a gunfight.

“Some of the people that are opposed to this [i.e., repealing Obamacare] — there are some female senators from the northeast,” Farenthold said. “If it was a guy from south Texas I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”

I'm not sure when Alaska and West Virginia became part of the Northeast. Republicans across the board don't seem to be good with basic grade school level facts.

More importantly, I'd put my money on Murkowski, Capito or Collins in any duel with this guy:


 
People are stepping up, people

by digby


Call me crazy but this seems like it might mean something:






As of the end of June, 209 Democratic challengers had registered with the FEC and raised at least $5,000. That more than doubled the previous high mark since 2003. In 2009, the Republicans had 78 challengers with at least $5,000. The early GOP challengers in 2009 foreshadowed the party’s regaining majority control. The question is whether the same will hold true for the Democrats in 2018.

They have already recruited more candidates than every midterm since 2009 combined.  We're 18 months out.

Obviously, the Democrats could still lose. But maybe it's not such a good idea to keep harping on the fact that Democrats are such  worthless pieces of garbage that there's probably no point in even listening to what they have to say. All these people stepping up to do this thing and it might be useful to be a little bit more encouraging.

.



 
Meanwhile, down at the border

by digby




The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer has been speaking to an ICE agent on background for some months. He's  disturbed by what he's seeing:
The agent’s decision to allow me to write about our conversations came after learning that ice was making a push, beginning this week, to arrest young undocumented immigrants who were part of a large wave of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in recent years and who, until now, had been allowed to live in the U.S. Rather than detaining these young people, the government had placed them in the care of families around the country. Most of them are trying to lead new lives as American transplants, going to school and working. ice now plans to pursue those who have turned eighteen since crossing the border, and who, as a result, qualify for detention as legal adults. “I don’t see the point in it,” the agent said. “The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don’t understand it. We’re doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me.”

The agent went on, “The whole idea is targeting kids. I know that technically they meet the legal definition of being adults. Fine. But if they were my kids travelling in a foreign country, I wouldn’t be O.K. with this. We’re not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it’s people who’ve been here for years. They’re supposed to be in high school.”

The agent was especially concerned about a new policy that allows ice to investigate cases of immigrants who may have paid smugglers to bring their children or relatives into the country. ice considers these family members guilty of placing children “directly in harm’s way,” as one spokeswoman recently put it, and the agency will hold them “accountable for their role in these conspiracies.” According to ice, these measures will help combat “a constant humanitarian threat,” but the agent said that rationale was just a pretext to increase arrests and eventually deport more people. “We seem to be targeting the most vulnerable people, not the worst.” The agent also believes that the policy will make it harder for the government to handle unaccompanied children who show up at the border. “You’re going to have kids stuck in detention because parents are too scared of being prosecuted to want to pick them up!” the agent said.

U.S. immigration courts are facing a backlog of half a million cases, with only a limited number of judges available to hear them and issue rulings. “We still have to make decisions based on a responsible use of the government’s resources—you can’t lock everybody up,” the agent said. “We’re putting more people into that overburdened system just because we can. There’s just this school of thought that, well, we can do what we want.”

Before this year, the agent had never spoken to the media. “I have a couple of colleagues that I can kind of talk to, but not many,” the agent said. “This has been a difficult year for many of us.” These people, not just at ice but also at other federal agencies tasked with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, are “trying to figure out how to minimize the damage.” It isn’t clear what, exactly, they can do under the circumstances. “Immigration is a pendulum—it swings to the left sometimes, or it swings to the right,” the agent told me last week. “But there was a normal range. Now people are bringing their own opinions into work.” In the agent’s view, ice is a changed agency.


What he's seeing is a bunch of guys with guns and uniforms drunk with power believing hey have a free hand to go after a particular vulnerable population. I think

“I like predictability,” the agent said. “I like being able to go into work and have faith in my senior managers and the Administration, and to know that, regardless of their political views, at the end of the day they’re going to do something that’s appropriate. I don’t feel that way anymore.”

And the Trump administration wants to hire thousands more, many of whom will not be vetted or properly trained.

Many local police and border patrol and ICE and DHS have all adopted military tactics over the past few years. They see themselves as being at war. The enemy depends on the agency but it's almost always black and brown.

Here's how badly this can go sideways:

We don’t know if Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa realizes it. But no other event since the Duterte administration came to power has dealt a greater blow to the credibility of the police in the war on drugs than the treacherous killing last Sunday of anticrime crusader Zenaida Luz in Oriental Mindoro.
Ms. Luz’s killers drove by her house on a motorcycle wearing a bonnet and a mask. It was close to midnight. She was shot in cold blood while standing in front of her house, waiting for someone who had contacted her asking for help. It was clearly a ruse.

Responding to a distress call from village officials, a police patrol team caught up with the fleeing masked killers, who traded shots with them. Cornered and wounded, the gunmen desperately shouted “Tropa, tropa!” to signal that they were friendly troops. To their horror and shock, the police recognized the gunmen as indeed from their ranks. The assailants turned out to be Senior Insp. Magdaleno Pimentel Jr. and Insp. Markson Almeranez—out of their uniforms, moonlighting as vigilante killers.

Are we there yet? No. But too close for comfort.

.








 
Role Model

by digby







President Trump rolled his eyes and made a face Monday after a reporter hurled a question at him about Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the president was posing for a photo with dozens of White House interns.

Trump made a face, amid laughter from the interns, after the question about whether he thought Sessions should resign, which he did not answer.

A reporter then asked another question about whether he had a message about healthcare, to which Trump said, “Quiet.”
Trump turned to the interns standing on a podium behind him, telling them that the reporters are not supposed to ask questions at the photo opportunity.

“They’re not supposed to do that. But they do it, but they’re not supposed to,” he said.

 
Thanks Comey


by digby

One little acknowledged reason he fired him is because he hates the idea that his win was a fluke








The New York Times' David Leonhardt:
The polling analysts who worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had a name for the many Americans who didn’t like him but didn’t like Hillary Clinton either: “double haters.” 
Many of these double haters seemed likely to vote anyway, given their long voting history. “They were a sizable bloc,” Joshua Green writes in his new book “Devil’s Bargain,” the first deeply insightful political narrative of the Trump era, “3 to 5 percent of the 15 million voters across 17 battleground states.” 
The double haters spent much of the campaign unsure what to do. In the end, as Green told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross last week, “they broke to Trump.” As part of his reporting for the book, Green got access to internal polls and memos from the Trump campaign, and this material makes clear that Trump’s aides believed one factor made a bigger difference than any other. 
It was the memo that James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, released about Clinton’s emails on Oct. 28. 
The memo, Green says, “got them to come out, not to support Trump but essentially to vote against Hillary, which in the end was the same thing.”

We knew this because the Trump campaign pollsters talked about it after the election. But nobody wanted to hear it then and I suspect nobody wants to hear it now.

Still, for the record, Comey's bombshell did make the difference.

.
 
Counting on the GOP to do their duty is a fool's errand

by digby



I wrote about the Republicans cowards for Salon this morning:

I have the feeling that we may look back on the week just past as a watershed moment in the Trump era. I know it seems as if we have those every other day and it's true that this isn't the first one. Firing the FBI Director certainly counts as a historical turning point. But last week was the six month anniversary of the inauguration and it featured two events that I think may turn out to have been extremely important, even if nothing comes of it.

The first was the stunning interview with the New York Times which demonstrated that the president is psychologically unbalanced and dangerously ignorant. We knew that before. But he's getting worse not better.

It wasn't just the strange historical fantasies such as his assertion that Napoleon’s “one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities,” or his obvious confusion between life insurance and health insurance. It wasn't even the fact that he seemed to have hallucinated that he'd instituted cast, sweeping reforms such as when he stated "I've given the farmers back their farms. I’ve given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things.”  All of this was extremely bizarre to say the least. If you didn't know better you might think it was some kind of elaborate put-on.

But underneath this farcical display of presidential ineptitude was something more sinister. He spent much of the time railing against law enforcement officials whom he perceives to either be disloyal to him personally by failing to corrupt themselves on his behalf or are corruptly serving his enemies.

He smeared former FBI Director Comey with the accusation that his private briefing of the Steele dossier was an attempt to get "leverage" on the president. He threatened Special Prosecutor Mueller that he'd better not go beyond what he sees as a very narrow mandate to look into the possible campaign collusion to
look into his finances.

He said the current acting FBI director is tainted by the fact that his wife ran for office as a Democrat and that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein can't be trusted because he's from Baltimore and it's a Democratic city. Perhaps the most astonishing attack was made against his most loyal Republican ally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he seems to have irrationally latched on to as the reason for all his troubles when he recused himself from the Russia investigation.

He is clearly terrified by the Special Prosecutor and is contemplating taking drastic action to put an end to his probe.

Which brings us to the second bombshell that happened last week. After this New York Times interview was published, the Washington Post reported that Trump has been talking to his lawyers about the presidential pardon and even if he might be able to pardon himself. If he wants to abruptly put and end to the investigation one imagines that might do it.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted this:




Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow appeared with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News and said that this tweet meant nothing and that pardons had not been discussed at all.  Then Trump's new communications director Anthony Scaramucci told Fox News that he talked with president last week about the pardon but Trump said he wouldn't have to do it because he hadn't done anything wrong.  Clearly, it is on his mind.

The question of whether the president could conceivably pardon his accomplices and himself has been around since the drafting of the constitution. Indeed,  the possibility of that is one of the reasons George Mason gave for refusing to sign it.  He wrote:
The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt.
And who says no one ever anticipated someone like Donald Trump becoming president?

Other founders said that it was impossible to believe that any president would do such a thing. Why he'd be remembered as Benedict Arnold! James Madison wrote,  “If the President can be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him.” One might have assumed that at one time, but it's looks as though that's not going to work out.

After that shocking interview in which the president babbled ignorantly about history, policy and politics and then threatened and smeared law enforcement, inappropriately defined the boundaries of the Special Prosecutor's investigation and attempted to get the Attorney General to resign so that he can replace him with someone who won't recuse himself from the Russia probe, the Republican congressional majority gave a collective shrug. They don't care.

A few of the usual suspects like Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she thought he should just let the investigation play out. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said that he believed Trump could pardon himself but "cautioned" him that there might be political fallout. For the most part, Republicans ran in cowardly fashion from the question, unwilling to stand up and do what's necessary in this situation which is to tell the president that if he fires the Special Prosecutor or starts pardoning people, they will have no choice but to start impeachment proceedings.

It's possible that they don't think he's really serious about this. It is pretty crazy. But it's obvious by that loony interview that he's losing his grip and that there aren't people around him who will restrain his worst impulses. He already fired James Comey. There is nothing really to stop him from firing Sessions, Rosenstein and anyone else who stands in his way.

And he does have a plenary pardon power although it's disputed whether he could pardon himself or issue a broad enough pardon to encompass a full scope of crimes his associates haven't even been charged with. Nonetheless, it's certainly possible that he will try and the only real way to stop him is for the Republican leadership in congress to let him know that they will not let him.

They have shown no sign that they will do their duty.

And yet their president is unsatisfied. It's not enough for them to simply let him get away with destroying every ethical norm and pushing every law to the limit. He demands that they defend his outrageous behavior. On Sunday he tweeted:


He couldn't be more wrong.  They are more loyal to him than they are to their own oaths to the constitution. He should be thanking them for their service.

.
 

Legislative malpractice

by Tom Sullivan


Still from Roanoke Times video (below).

"Health care in the United States is pathetic ... when you don't have the insurance, you don't have the access." — Dr. Teresa Tyson, Executive Director of the Health Wagon
The Affordable Care Act needs reforming, Dr. Teresa Tyson told the Roanoke Times. Repealing it is not an option. Tyson's team was treating patients at the annual Remote Area Medical free clinic weekend in Wise, Virginia. Obamacare is by no means the full answer to the health care crisis in this country, but it was an improvement. An improvement that needs improvement. Instead, Sen. Mitch McConnell means to roll it back.

This year's RAM clinic weekend in Wise, Virginia crept up on me. I didn't make the trip up as I did last year. But since McConnell and his band plan to try repealing Obamacare again this week, perhaps the timing and the little press it receives will open some eyes to what they mean to do. President Trump himself used that word, even as his administration was sabotaging the Obamacare program.
"Mr. Trump really needed to be here ... There’s been absolutely no change in the number of people that come to these events since the day I started it in the United States ... We are number 37 in the World Health Organization's rankings." — Stan Brock, Remote Area Medical founder
Stan Brock has held these free clinics in Wise for 18 years, the Roanoke Times reports. Most come for dental care covered as a luxury extra under most insurance, including the Obamacare exchange plans:
Located near the Virginia- Kentucky border, the clinic at the Wise County Fairgrounds attracts residents from a wide area. The clinic, the largest of the year, has 1,400 volunteers who serve thousands of people in one weekend.

At 5 a.m. Friday — the first day of the clinic — RAM founder and British philanthropist Stan Brock stood at the entrance of the clinic as volunteers prepared to let people through the gate.

Hundreds arrived at the fairgrounds in the dead of the night to secure a decent spot in line. They slept in their cars or pitched tents as they waited for the clinic gates to open. Before the sun crested the surrounding mountains, volunteers had given out all of the numbers for the day and began turning people away.
On the heels of this, Reuters reports that McConnell's procedural vote to repeal Obamacare could come as early as Tuesday. In what conforms to a pattern of legislative malpractice by McConnell, his caucus doesn't yet know on what legislation they will be voting.

The Associated Press report wasn't any more specific:
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will make a decision soon on which bill to bring up for a vote, depending on ongoing discussions with GOP senators. Thune sought to cast this week's initial vote as important but mostly procedural, allowing senators to begin debate and propose amendments. But he acknowledged that senators should be able to know beforehand what bill they will be considering.

"That's a judgment that Senator McConnell will make at some point this week before the vote," Thune said, expressing his own hope it will be a repeal-and-replace measure. "But no matter which camp you're in, you can't have a debate about either unless we get on the bill. So we need a 'yes' vote."
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that thousands of Catholic nuns have written a letter to senators urging them to reject the Republican effort as "immoral and contrary to the teachings of our Catholic faith." The letter signed by over 7,000 sisters insists senators vote against advancing "any bill that would repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid." The report states that Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine are both Catholics. Both are cited as undecided on the measures under consideration.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) might also be independent enough from his caucus to play a roll in defeating any bill McConnell brings to the Senate floor. Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio are two other Republicans said to be on the fence. Sen. John McCain remains in his home state of Arizona after surgery for a blood clot. He is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.

McConnell is short of votes as long as none of the fence-sitters votes to advance whatever bill McConnell offers.

Read this thread from Ben Wikler on how this week might go down. Note:

Watch the video below, then make some noise about how the GOP thinks "pathetic" needs to be made worse.

The Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121. I offer some immodest instructions for organizing an effort to bypass busy phone lines here. The Senate convenes at 4 p.m. EDT.

Unleash hell.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

 
Politics and Reality Radio: Is Medicare-for-All the Path to Single-Payer?; Fighting Fake News; Susie Madrak on Trump’s Meltdown

with Joshua Holland

























This week, we kick off the show with a brief tribute to the one and only Sean Spicer, may he rest behind a bush somewhere.

Then we'll be joined by mild-mannered health care wonk Harold Pollack from the University of Chicago to talk policy on the left and the right: Why the GOP's zombie bill never dies, and whether making a rapid transition to Medicare-for-All is a viable way to get to affordable universal coverage.

Then we'll be joined by Ohio State University scholar Gleb Tsipursky to talk about The Truth Pledge -- his scheme to use behavioral science to "nudge" people into combating fake news.

Finally, we'll talk to Susie Madrak, a contributing editor at Crooks and Liars, about a pretty zany week in Trumpland that began with POTUS trashing everyone in sight to the NYT.






Playlist:
Supreme Deluxe: "Alex Jones Rants as an Indie Folk Song"
Rolling Stones: "Play With Fire"
George McCrae: "Rock Your Baby"
Erykah Badu: "Rimshot (Outro)


As always, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes, Soundcloud or Podbean.