1. says

    “Senators say they’ll look into Trump wiretapping claims”:

    A Senate subcommittee is taking up the White House’s call to investigate the veracity of President Trump’s claim that former President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

    Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, sent a letter Wednesday afternoon to the Department of Justice requesting evidence of, “any warrant applications and court orders…related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”

    “He’s challenged Congress to do something about it,” Graham told CBS News referring to Trump. “I accept that challenge, and I expect the FBI Director and Department of Justice to notify us if this warrant was obtained.”

    “We are reviewing the letter,” a Justice Department spokesman said in response….

    Graham also said that if the answer is that there was no warrant “we can move on.” Ridiculous.

  2. says

    SC @499, a lot of that staffing seems to reflect the wishes of Steve Bannon. When staffers were former Breitbart or WorldNetDaily writers, that spells trouble.

    In other news, here is a follow-up to comments 456 and 483. Nurses are also condemning the Republican health care plan.

    […] the American Nurses Association condemned the House Republicans’ health care plan, explaining that the American Health Care Act “threatens health care affordability, access, and delivery for individuals across the nation.”

    The ANA, representing over 3.6 million nurses, is hardly the only major stakeholder drawing this conclusion. The list of organizations that have come out against the Republican plan has grown quite quickly, and includes the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP, the American Cancer Society, and the American Psychiatric Association, among others. […]

    At least some on Capitol Hill, however, have embraced an amazing new phrase to dismiss critics of their ridiculous plan from throughout the system.

    Opposition to the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act continued to emerge on Wednesday — the bill’s second day in the public eye — with statements condemning the bill from groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the elderly.

    Mobbed by reporters as he emerged from casting an afternoon vote, the bill’s author Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) brushed off the latest round of criticism, saying the thousands of hospitals and hundreds of thousands of doctors are part of a “medical industrial complex” that opposes major reforms to Medicaid. […]


    So now team Trump is telling us not to listen to doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators. How many groups of experts have team Trump told us not to trust?

    bass mike @497:

    So in the US the current administration is dismantling the machinery of government, removing workers rights, allowing the environment to be destroyed, ensuring that large numbers will die due to lack of health care, having policy dictated by fascists and conspiracy theorists, and all the time blaming everything on the previous president. Do I have that about right?

    Yes, that’s about right. It would be kind of like an entertaining, but very dark comic book if it wasn’t real life.
    Read more:

    From comment 467:

    Bird flu has started killing more people in China, and no one’s sure why. Zika virus is set to come back with a vengeance as the weather warms up and mosquitoes get hungry. Yellow fever is spreading in Brazil, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are evolving faster than doctors can keep up with them.
    And the new health care replacement bill released Monday night by Republican leaders in Congress would slash a billion-dollar prevention fund designed to help protect against those and other threats.

    Read more:

  3. says

    This article makes an interesting suggestion:


    NBC also reported that the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence [“(the alleged source of the documents discussed in this story)”] was tasked by the Obama administration last year to devise cyber attack strategies in response to Russia’s alleged involvement in the siphoning of emails from Democratic National Committee servers as well as from Hillary Clinton‘s campaign chief John Podesta. Those emails were ultimately published online by Wikileaks last summer.

    NBC reported that the “wide-ranging ‘clandestine’ cyber operation designed to harass and ’embarrass’ the Kremlin leadership was being lead by the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence.” Could this attack have been the Kremlin’s response to an action or actions by the CIA’s cyber center? Perhaps time (or future leaks) will tell.

    It’s certainly also possible that the Kremlin had a mole or found a turncoat among the people who had access to this information.

  4. says

    SC @1, I look at that as Senators Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse calling Trump’s bluff.

    In healthcare news, the ongoing debate in the House has produced a few fiery moments. Democratic U.S. House Representative Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, for example, highlighted the fact that the Republican plan could cut coverage for people suffering from mental illness:

    Kennedy: “Question for the legislative council, just to make sure I fully understand it.

    Based off of what you were saying, sir, I understand the fact that this law does not impact mental health parity. But it was the combination of mental health parity and the ACA that included mental health benefits as part of the essential health benefits package. The parity just says if you offer mental health benefits, they have to be offered the same way that physical health benefits are — it does not mandate the offering of mental health benefits.

    With the combination of the repeal language that we see on page 8, it means that mental health benefits are not required now, by federal law — that it would be up to the states to actually impose, so when we look at those essential health benefits, whether it’s mental healthcare or potentially for other health conditions, that is no longer essentially covered, or required to be covered by this version of this text, is that not correct?”

    Attorney: “The text before us does remove the application of the central health benefits for the alternative plans in Medicaid.”

    Kennedy: “It does remove them — including mental health. Yes, thank you.”

  5. says

    One of Trump’s ignorant appointees is busy proving his ignorance:

    The man in charge of the protecting the country’s environment, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday morning and falsely claimed carbon dioxide emissions are not the “primary cause” of global warming.

    “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he said.

    Pruitt might choose not to accept that fact, but it’s true. Scientists have overwhelmingly found a causal relationship between the carbon dioxide humanity has been spewing into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution and the ever-increasing global temperatures. […]

    Think Progress link

    Pruitt is the guy that cut-and-pasted oil and gas industry recommendations onto Oklahoma Attorney General letterhead, and then sent those missives to the EPA. He is, essentially, an industry lackey.

  6. says

    “Cork Wine Bar Sues Trump Hotel Over Unfair Competition”:

    Cork Wine Bar owners Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross filed an unfair competition lawsuit against Donald Trump and the Trump International Hotel in DC Wednesday night, alleging that the president’s continued affiliation with the government-owned property puts competing businesses at a disadvantage.

    Scott Rome, one of Cork Wine Bar’s attorneys, says government officials, lobbyists, foreign dignitaries, and others seeking political influence—part of the restaurant’s clientele—now “feel pressure” or an “obligation” to frequent the hotel. “If they have a party to book, they’re going to book it there first, whether to gain influence with the president, to gain influence with the administration,” Rome says. “And he shows up there on weekends, so you get personal face time by going there. It seems to us to be a clear situation in which he’s using his office of the president to get a financial gain at the expense of local businesses.”

    Cork Wine Bar, which hosts political fundraisers and international law firms, saw “significantly less income” after this inauguration than they’ve seen after other inaugurations, but Rome says the crux of the case isn’t going to be “look at our balance sheet” or pointing to a single specific incident in which a dinner was booked at Cork Wine Bar then switched to the Trump hotel. “It’s just that there’s more business that could be going to them and it’s not,” he says. “We feel like every place in town now is second place if you want to do business with the government in any way.”

    All the lawyers are working on the case pro bono, and the lawsuit isn’t seeking any money. Rather, they’re looking for a court order to stop the “unfair competition,” whether that means Trump divests or sells the hotel or takes his name off of it and transforms it into something else.

    Cork Wine Bar may not be the last DC restaurant to file such a lawsuit against the Trump hotel either. Rome says the lawyers are actively talking to other potential plaintiffs as well. A press conference about the lawsuit is scheduled this morning, so stay tuned for more information….

  7. says

    So just Nigel Farage visits Assange just hours after TSG runs a blockbuster story about Roger Stone having private communications with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker identified as the source of the DNC emails given to wikileaks and purported by US intelligence agencies as being GRU, a state sponsored Russian hacking group.

    Even if the TSG story is BS, which it could be because it’s not corroborated yet or being reported anywhere else, How ignorant of optics are these guys? Crazy.

  8. says

    Jeff Sessions, who is now Attorney General of the USA and supposedly a nonpartisan top law enforcement official, is so nakedly partisan that its breathtaking:

    […] no special prosecutor needed to investigate Donald Trump’s web of ties to Russia during the months when Russia was interfering in the U.S. election and Sessions himself was meeting with the Russian ambassador, meetings he then told the Senate Judiciary Committee hadn’t happened (we call that lying).

    But that’s not to say Sessions wouldn’t consider outside counsel to look into goings-on at the Justice Department. Just, you know, the Obama Justice Department.

    Rightwing talk radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Sessions if he would bring in outside counsel to investigate the tenures of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch:

    That counsel, Hewitt suggested, would have “authority to bring charges if underlying crimes were uncovered,” and pointed to controversies including alleged bias within the IRS against conservative political groups and the “Fast and Furious” scandal […]

    “Well I’m going to do everything I possibly can to restore the independence and professionalism of the Department of Justice,” Sessions replied. “So we’ll have to consider whether or not some outside counsel is needed. Generally, a good review of that internally is the first step before any such decision is made.”

    The Obama administration was remarkably scandal-free, but maybe we can change that by a politicized, after-the-fact “investigation” into a bunch of conspiracy theories popular on the right! Also, how exactly would it be “restoring the independence” of the Justice Department to do exactly what the party currently in power would like to see done, while refusing to seriously investigate the guy who appointed you despite a lot of evidence that such an investigation might turn up real problems?

    Oh, right. It’s Republican world. Logic does not apply, and “independence and professionalism” does not mean independence and professionalism.


  9. says

    One top administrator still working for team Trump has spoken out against the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare:

    Andrey Ostrovsky, the chief medical officer for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), announced in a Twitter post that he was opposed to the Republican bill pending in the House. CMCS is a division within the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Secretary Tom Price, a former Republican congressman, is the Trump administration’s point person on Obamacare repeal and replace.

    “Despite political messaging from others at HHS, I align with the experts from [American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Medical Association] in opposition to #AHCA,” Andrey Ostrovsky, chief medical officer for The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), wrote on Twitter. […]

    Talking Points Memo

    Team Trump will likely dismiss Ostrovsky’s criticism as coming form an Obama appointee. Sally Yates may have some company soon.

  10. says

    Another interesting BuzzFeed article: “The British Press Can’t Stop Writing About Marine Le Pen”

    It’s quite annoying. Seems to be the same with Wilders (here’s a decent article about him, though; but, typically, it doesn’t talk about any other candidates or discuss policy differences in any detail). And there’s nothing really new or exciting or interesting about these people. They’re just rehashing bankrupt fascist ideology from the 1930s.

  11. says

    So much for Trump’s promise to fix “inner cities.”

    […] In 2010, HUD [Housing and Urban Development] reported that $21 billion was needed for public housing inspections nationwide, with kitchens, bathrooms, and windows in dire need of repair.

    [Trump’s] proposed budget would slash the existing funds, which are already insufficient to address the necessary repairs, by approximately 32 percent, or $1.3 billion.

    The budget will also gut community development spending altogether, cutting $4 billion from funding that was once geared toward projects like neighborhood clean-ups, creating an exercise trail, and building Boys and Girls Club facilities […]

    The massive cuts align with Trump’s plan to drastically increase the national defense budget while slashing money for nearly all other domestic programs funded by the government. But they don’t support his repeated promises to revitalize “inner cities.” […]


    What Trump said in July of 2016:

    For too many years, our inner cities have been left behind. I am going to deliver jobs, safety and protection for those in need.
    Inner-city crime is reaching record levels. African-Americans will vote for Trump because they know I will stop the slaughter going on!

    About 1/3 of African Americans live in cities, but Trump seems to think they all live there.

    Poor and low-income people who live in cities are a diverse population. They all need affordable housing. Trump said one thing, and he is doing the opposite.

  12. says

    SC @11, sounds like the kind of coverage Trump got during his campaign.

    In other news, Trump is slashing the environmental safety net.

    […] we are headed for the worst-case scenario of sea level rise. At the same time, President Trump plans to block climate action while slashing funding for coastal adaptation and monitoring.

    Together, this is very bad news for U.S. coastlines, and the only question left for Americans is: When will coastal property values crash?

    […] values will will start dropping before we hit a few feet of sea level rise. They will crash when a large fraction of the financial community — mortgage bankers and opinion-makers, along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public — realize that it is too late for us to stop catastrophic sea level rise. […]

    The country is facing a trillion-dollar bubble in coastal property values, a time bomb which has been inflated by U.S. taxpayers in the form of the National Flood Insurance Program. A 2014 Reuters analysis of this “slow-motion disaster” explained that there is nearly $1.25 trillion in coastal property being covered at below-market rates. […]

    When sellers outnumber buyers, and banks become reluctant to write 30-year mortgages for doomed property, and insurance rates soar, then the coastal property bubble will slow, peak, and crash. […]

    The time for the bubble to fully burst appears to be almost at hand, thanks to accelerating sea level rise and Trump’s coastal-destroying policies.[…]

    Arctic and Antarctic ice continue to disappear at an unexpectedly rapid rate. […]

    Donald Trump has appointed climate science deniers to almost every relevant position, and he has floated budgets that would gut not just climate science, but devastate our ability to monitor ice melt and to forecast extreme coastal weather such as hurricanes. […]

    Think Progress link

    So, yeah, we can look forward not only to plagues of disease and reduced health care; we can also look forward to a lack of federal help when environmental disaster strikes. Sounds biblical.

  13. says

    Wonkette covered a Rachel Maddow segment with admirable gusto:

    […] Rachel Maddow went over something people aren’t really talking about, but they should be. […] Trump and Tillerson have been effing CLEANING HOUSE, getting rid of career foreign service officers that have been there for DECADES. If by “drain the swamp,” Trump meant “literally destroy one of the most important, longest standing departments of the U.S. government,” then that mission is being accomplished!

    Maddow talked about all the things State does to support democracy and human rights around the world, including supporting dissident movements in nations like, well, you know, RUSSIA, […] It was mean terrible Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after all, who in 2011 called Russia’s bullshit parliamentary elections out for the sham bullshit elections they were, […]. Putin blamed the protests on Hillary, and by extension, on State […]

    Maddow notes that Tillerson, the man from Exxon who holds Clinton’s former position, is a guy who had never met Donald Trump before he was nominated, but he sure as hell was already pals with Uncle Vlad Putin, having been awarded Russia’s Order Of Friendship in 2013. Putin gave it to Tillerson himself!

    Of course Tillerson’s Exxon also did YOOGE DEALS with Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft. (Yes, that’s the same Rosneft that Trump stooge Carter Page attended meetings with, about the sale of 19.5% of the company to — ??? — in exchange for a loosening of U.S. sanctions. The Trump campaign, having originally denied that Page took that trip, now admits it. After the election, 19.5% of Rosneft was indeed sold to ???. FUNNY!)

    So what Rachel Maddow is asking is, if Putin really wanted to destroy the State Department, if Putin wanted to destroy American institutions that threaten his own power, what better guy is there than Rex Tillerson to hold the very important job of standing there and looking pretty while Trump dismantles the “administrative state” (in Steve Bannon’s words), […]

    And her bigger question, the question that, as she notes, nobody is really asking, is, aside from getting to the bottom of what Russia and Trump DID to undermine American democracy during the 2016 election, what are they STILL DOING RIGHT NOW to undermine us?

    Was the election interference a one-off deal where Putin vanquishes Hillary and then goes home fat and happy? Or was it part of something bigger, where Putin is using Trump […] to achieve much wider goals?

    Here, watch a video and let Rachel Maddow scare you […]

    Scroll down at the link to watch the video.

    Did Trump weaken the State Department as part of a collusion agreement with Russia?

  14. says


    […] It took three cops and a chemical spray to subdue the youngest son of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Saturday after he was identified as one of the counterprotesters who allegedly used fireworks to disrupt a rally in support of President Donald Trump at the Minnesota State Capitol.

    Twin Cities Pioneer Press link

  15. says

    Hillary Clinton’s message to women: Never lose your resistance.

    ‘As we all stop to look fear in the face, the result has not only been action, but passion. […]

    Never lose your optimism, your persistence and your resistance. We can build the future we envisioned when we started on this journey with Vital Voices two decades ago, for women, for girls around the world and for us here at home.

    Our voices have always been vital but they’ve never been more vital than they are now […]

    Let us hope there is a wave of young women running for office in America. And let’s be sure we support them in every way we can. Let’s help them shatter stereotypes and lift each other up.

  16. says

    Maddow talked about all the things State does to support democracy and human rights around the world,…

    Maddow has long been far too indulgent of the (erstwhile) State Department’s propaganda.

  17. tomh says

    @ #17
    Some of the protesters even had “apparent anti-fascist leanings.” Imagine the horror when that was discovered.

  18. says

    SC @18, FFS.

    Farage has also been spending a lot of time in Washington D.C. with Trump.

    The UK Independent confirmed that Farage met with Assange, so maybe Nigel can read that.

    A source close to Mr Farage confirmed to The Independent that the Ukip politician was at the embassy to visit Mr Assange.

    I think Bannon and Trump sent Farage to meet with Assange because they were afraid that electronic communication would be tapped.

  19. says

    From Jonathan Cohn:

    Paul Ryan says insurance can’t work if healthy must pay more to subsidize the sick. But this is exactly what happens in every employer plan.

    Yes, that’s right, Paul Ryan gave a long speech/PowerPoint torture session today during which he proved that he does not know how insurance works.

    I have always thought the Paul Ryan’s intellectual prowess was overrated. He can speak in complete sentences and projects confidence, but his ability to analyze policy decisions is remarkably shallow.

  20. says

    Trump’s contribution to the health care debate:

    Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!

    It’s not just the press questioning your plan, you doofus. AARP, the American Medical Association, lots of hospital trade associations, nurses, the chief medical officer at the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, and even some insurance industry groups are against the Trumpcare/Ryancare.

  21. says

    I have always thought the Paul Ryan’s intellectual prowess was overrated. He can speak in complete sentences and projects confidence, but his ability to analyze policy decisions is remarkably shallow.

    I agree. He’s another mediocre white man who was able to rise to prominence by dancing to the tune of his rich white masters and be credited for abilities and knowledge he doesn’t possess.

  22. says

    SC @1, I look at that as Senators Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse calling Trump’s bluff.

    Oh, I think so, too. But the idea that after debunking his libelous claim about Obama and the intelligence community, which he then called on congress to investigate, everyone should just “move on” adds insult to injury.

  23. says

    “Justice Dept. Declines to Back Claim Trump Is Not Under Investigation”:

    With questions still swirling over President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was wiretapped on orders of President Barack Obama,* the Justice Department on Thursday declined to confirm statements a day earlier from the White House that Mr. Trump was not the target of a counterintelligence investigation.

    Officials also said the White House had not relied on any information from the Justice Department in offering a statement denying the existence of an investigation….

    * There are no questions swirling over that bullshit.

  24. says

    I think these cancellations are due to their awareness that Trump doesn’t know anything about healthcare, the ACA, or his own bill. They’re talking about how he’s going to be going around “selling” it, but he wouldn’t be able to answer the most basic questions about it. He doesn’t speak policy – he speaks con.

  25. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    “If you were an anthropologist specializing in human ecological relationships, you may well conclude that one of our distinguishing features as a species is an inability to coexist peacefully with elephants.”

    Actually, it depends on the elephants. Asian elephants have been domesticated for centuries, and while the occasional villager gets trampled, and the elephants often resent the hell out of it, the relationship has been mostly successful.

    African elephants…not so much. I was never charged by an elephant with serious intent to do harm. Friends of mine were, and were damned lucky to escape.
    I lived 20 km from an elephant reserve when I was in the Peace Corps. A single elephant can take out a whole mango grove in a night. Sometimes, we’d ride out there just to watch them…amazing, even though we knew they’d as soon stomp us into red and pink ooze.

  26. blf says

    Re @11/@14, I predicted to myself before reading that Buzzfeed article it wasn’t talking so much about the sneakily-implied all British press as the mostly-English conservative-leaning press, including the so-called “red top” tabloids (which, as a rule of thumb, are not reliable but are where Murdork does much of his damage). Yep, albeit they do, buried down in the article, acknowledge not all the press is le penazi sycophants.

    Fortunately, it’s the French press which is more important (for the upcoming French presidential election). I neither have my own impression about, nor read any analysis of, any such shenanigans in the French press — which must not be construed as meaning there isn’t any…

    Today’s Grauniad article on the French election, Emmanuel Macron leads in French presidential election poll for first time (“Harris Interactive poll shows Macron one percentage point ahead of National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the first round”).

    The more interesting English-language article is in today’s dead-tree edition of the INYT (ex-IHT), and is about the Dutch election, Geert Wilders’s Far-Right Dutch Party Sees Drop in U.S. Money:

    As concern grows that Dutch politics is being influenced by American money, a new campaign disclosure report released in the Netherlands on Wednesday provided a twist: The spigot of American cash seems to have been mostly shut off.

    The report, coming a week ahead of contentious national elections and amid a Dutch experiment with campaign finance disclosure, showed that the burst of money donated in 2015 to the far-right leader Geert Wilders has dropped sharply. Yet in Europe, where disclosure laws are porous, loopholes in the Dutch laws still prevent a full picture of the scope and influence of foreign money.

    The report showed that Mr Wilders and his Party for Freedom, which has been running first or second in Dutch polls, received about $25,000 last year from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, run by David Horowitz, an American activist with strident views on Islam. In addition, a Buffalo-based company, listed in the new Dutch records as FOL Inc., appeared in the records as giving roughly $7,400 in November. The company could not be immediately identified in New York State records.

    That is still a sharp drop from 2015, when Mr Horowitz’s center donated nearly $120,000 to the Party for Freedom, making it the largest individual donation that year in the Dutch political system […].


    With political populism surging across Europe, the Party for Freedom has been a polarizing presence in Dutch politics, with inflammatory views of Islam, and the party’s financing has been largely mysterious. Political campaigns in the Netherlands are usually funded with public money or from party membership fees. But unlike other parties, the Party for Freedom has only one official member, Mr Wilders, allowing it to avoid internal budget disclosures to a broader membership.

    The Dutch have tightened their disclosure system in recent years, but gaps still leave it open to outside manipulation. […]


    The Party for Freedom listed only three donors in the latest filing, two of which were American. Few other foreign donations have surfaced in Dutch records in recent years. One exception was Chris Rufer, an American […]. He gave nearly $5,000 to the tiny Libertarian Party in 2015. According to federal records, he has been an active donor to libertarian candidates and groups in the United States.


  27. says

    Actually, it depends on the elephants. Asian elephants have been domesticated for centuries, and while the occasional villager gets trampled, and the elephants often resent the hell out of it, the relationship has been mostly successful.

    Did you read the article?

  28. says

    Re @11/@14, I predicted to myself before reading that Buzzfeed article it wasn’t talking so much about the sneakily-implied all British press as the mostly-English conservative-leaning press, including the so-called “red top” tabloids (which, as a rule of thumb, are not reliable but are where Murdork does much of his damage). Yep, albeit they do, buried down in the article, acknowledge not all the press is le penazi sycophants.

    The part about disproportionate coverage – the main headline – was based on a standard Nexis search:

    The UK press is providing disproportionate attention to France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, analysis by BuzzFeed News has found.

    In the past three months, UK news publications listed with the aggregation service Nexis produced 602 headlines about Le Pen, four and a half times the number of stories they published about the French election’s frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron.

    The other aspect of the article was the sycophantic coverage of the rightwing tabloidy papers, but the Nexis search determining the amount of coverage included all.

  29. says

    SC @28, I agree. Rightwingers are not going to move on, no matter what facts are unearthed by Lindsey Graham. If necessary, rightwingers will just adjust their current conspiracy theories, and/or they will invent new conspiracy theories.

    There’s no way they are going to drop the satisfying theory that intelligence agencies spied on Donald Trump, and that they are trying to bring him down.

    My take is that Trump and his minions are doing a damned good job of bringing themselves down. They just have to caught over and over until the facts overwhelm the lies.

    It will help, marginally, if Graham proves that no warrants were issued to allow for electronic eavesdropping on Trump.

  30. says

    SC @28, I agree. Rightwingers are not going to move on, no matter what facts are unearthed by Lindsey Graham. If necessary, rightwingers will just adjust their current conspiracy theories, and/or they will invent new conspiracy theories.

    Sorry – I was too vague. I just meant that no one should move on until Trump issues a formal apology to everyone he libeled, and to everyone else for the waste of time and resources. Of course, he won’t, but Graham shouldn’t be helping him out by suggesting that debunking should be the end of it. It was an outrageous smear. He’s not held to any reasonable standard, and it encourages more of the same.

  31. says

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter asking Congress to “raise the federal debt limit at the first opportunity.” Mnuchin’s letter does not propose balancing the debt limit increase with spending cuts or tax increases.

    Yep, it looks like team Trump is going to spend a lot of money, and they are going to increase the debt. During his campaign, Trump said that he would be “very very strong on the debt limit,” and that he would not agree to an increase in the debt limit without requiring “a very big pound of flesh.”

    Trump is finding that he can’t increase military spending; give tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people; and fund his proposed health care plan without raising the debt ceiling. And … there’s that damned wall on the southern border. He has to pay for that.

    When Sean Spicer was asked about Mnuchin’s request, Spicer replied that the debt issue is “beyond our control.”

  32. says

    Jake Tapper:

    “Secretary of State Tillerson about to embark on first major trip to Asia in the midst of North Korean crisis.

    Not bringing any reporters.”

    “Not bringing press on a trip like that is unusual & insulting to any American who is looking for anything but a state-run version of events.”

  33. blf says

    The part about disproportionate coverage – the main headline — was based on a standard Nexis search

    Stop and think: There were N pro–le penazi articles in A (and about zero which weren’t), N+ in B (also about zero which weren’t), and essentially 0 (zero) in C (with N– which weren’t), so therefore all the press is pro–le penazi. The implied “all (UK press)” is simply transparent bullshite.

    I’ve made this point before about the term “MSM” (or if your prefer, “lamestream media”) — that is usually not-qualified, with a clear intent to be read as “all …”. Which is so not-true it rivals a typical hair furor tweet for guilt-by-implication.

    It case you are not getting my hints yet again, then in this case a summary / statement more supported by the presented evidence would be “most surveyed UK press…”, which can be abbreviated as (e.g.) “most UK press…”.

    I repeat (for the feckteenth time): It is the sneakily-implied “all” I take serious exception to.

  34. says

    Sean Spicer is unaware of the meanings of words.

    Question: Is there an investigation going on into Trump’s connection with Russia?

    Spicer: I am not aware of it. But that’s my point, we’re not aware of anything.

    Question: So there might be one you just don’t know about?

    Spicer:Right, I said I’m not aware …

    Question: The Justice Department is saying they never gave you the assurances you gave us.

    Spicer:The assurance I gave you is I’m not aware. That’s 100 percent accurate.

    Question: The questions is whether Trump is the target of—

    Spicer: The answer is we’re not aware. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.

    Question: So when you said “no reason to believe,” it’s really “I am not aware if there was an investigation.”

    Spicer: I’m not aware. I don’t believe. I’m not sure there’s a distinction there that’s noteworthy. But we’re not aware.

    Question: The White House is not aware if the president is the target of a counterintelligence probe?

    Spicer: Correct. I’m not sure why we’re dancing around the same question.

    Question: Because yesterday when you came out and clarified, people took that as a definitive answer that there was—

    Spicer: It means we’re not aware. That should be the definitive answer.

  35. says

    Congressman Joe Kennedy III pointed out a few more problems with the lack of logic in the Republican health care plan:

    I’m a bit concerned with the logic … There is no doubt, obviously, that if this plan is enacted, that there are going to be hospitals all over the country that receive federal funding for hospital services. Those hospitals will also provide abortions. Under the logic that you laid out, saying that any organization that provides any abortion services shouldn’t get any federal funding, is it the intent of this bill to strip all funding from every hospital, and any doctor’s office that might provide that consultation?

    Kennedy also pointed out that studies have shown repeatedly that health centers cannot meet the increased demand for services if Planned Parenthood clinics are shut down. Kennedy asked where people are supposed to get those services:

    Where are you supposed to get them? How is that supposed to happen? And how can we say that that is not a small problem when we also sit there and hear that people are so passionate about women’s health?

  36. says

    White House aide Sebastian Gorka wants to assure us that he is completely clueless:

    Today I do not see, as a nation, systemic persecution based on skin color.

    [The interviewer, Al Letson, who is black, pointed out that black Americans still lag far behind their white counterparts in income and wealth.]

    But what’s the cause for that? As far as I’m concerned, it’s not because of systematic oppression by the state; it’s not because of the laws we had in the 1950s; it’s not because of Jim Crow. The reality is it is the other side, the side that lost, [Democrats] that has for 30 years kept black Americans down.

    As someone who consciously chose to be a citizen of this great nation I wholeheartedly reject your assertion that white supremacism is some foundational element of our society,. Historically it existed but my issue is this: how are you helping bridge divisions by using phrases like white supremacism? Because white supremacism is a conscious decision. It’s the individual who is denying the other their civil rights. Today I do not see, as a nation, systemic persecution based on skin color.

    Gorka is a former Breitbart News editor

    The quoted text is excerpted from, and summarized from, a Talking Points Memo article.

  37. says

    Writing for Think Progress, Ian Millhiser educates Paul Ryan:

    […] Car insurance redistributes wealth from people who aren’t in accidents to people who are. Fire insurance redistributes wealth from people whose houses did not burn down to people whose houses did burn down. Flood insurance redistributes wealth from people who are dry to people whose belongings are soaking wet. And yes, health insurance redistributes wealth from people who are healthy to people who are sick. […]

  38. says

    Stop and think: There were N pro–le penazi articles in A (and about zero which weren’t), N+ in B (also about zero which weren’t), and essentially 0 (zero) in C (with N– which weren’t), so therefore all the press is pro–le penazi. The implied “all (UK press)” is simply transparent bullshite.

    Sigh. There are two aspects to the article. One deals with the amount of coverage and the other with the nature of the coverage. The amount of coverage aspect is based on a Nexis search, which includes basically all the news. They did a search for how much coverage the different candidates got throughout all the news. That argument isn’t saying all of the coverage of Le Pen has been positive – just that she gets more. If you’re suggesting that the numbers are skewed by the heavy coverage in a handful of rightwing outlets, that could be. The article doesn’t break it down enough – I’d like to see the figures for the Guardian, BBC, etc. On the other hand, we know Trump’s hugely disproportionate coverage in the US wasn’t just driven by pro-Trump outlets.

    In any case, you’re conflating two separate arguments: “The British press gives Le Pen disproportionate coverage” – which he is arguing, perhaps with insufficient granularity – and “The British press gives Le Pen positive coverage” – which he isn’t arguing, although he talks about a certain group of outlets that are flogging a pro-Le Pen narrative.

    I repeat (for the feckteenth time): It is the sneakily-implied “all” I take serious exception to.

    That’s unnecessarily snotty.

  39. says

    Trump has taken actions to sabotage Obamacare so that it will be more likely to “implode,” as Republicans keep claiming it will do.

    I don’t know if Trump’s sabotage activities will succeed. Obamacare is more robust than Republicans will admit, but Trump is certainly trying to make his “disaster” characterization come true.

    I think he worries that Republicans will make a complete hash of health care, and he is trying to make conditions ripe for blaming Obamacare and the Democrats.

    Trump’s plan B is to have Obamacare implode and/or get shakier while Republicans bumble around.

    […] One of the first actions the Trump administration took to foster uncertainty about Obamacare was issuing an executive order that directed federal agencies to delay implementation of any provisions that “impose a fiscal burden on any State, or a cost, fee, tax penalty, or regulatory burden.” It also told agencies to encourage development of a “free and open market” in health care services in the states.

    The Affordable Care Act was running ahead of 2016 enrollment totals through mid-January, according to the CBPP, but final 2017 enrollment fell by 4 percent. On January 26, the administration said it would stop running ads for the final week of open enrollment.

    In February, the Trump administration proposed rules that discouraged enrollment and took away an IRS tool for enforcing the individual mandate. Even though the mandate still exists, the IRS announced that it would stop its plans to reject tax returns if people did not say whether they had coverage. Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, told ThinkProgress that tax preparation companies are already preparing software that acknowledges these new rules by not asking people to answer yes or no on whether they have coverage. […]

    A few days after the confirmation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed rules it claimed would lead to “market stabilization,” but would in fact do the opposite. The rules would give insurers more power to offer less generous plans and allow fewer people to sign up for the ACA’s “special enrollment period.” The rules would also shorten the sign-up period from three months to 45 days. […]

    “They could dramatically expand what hardship means so fewer people would be subject to the mandate, and then fewer people participate. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.” […]

    Think Progress link

  40. says

    The USA just deployed about 400 heavily armed marines to Syria. This is in addition to advisory troops and special operators that were already there.

    Did President Trump make this decision?

    Sean Spicer said:

    Obviously the president was made aware of that. This is something that was done in consultation. He understands the regional issues that need to be addressed there.

    So, that would be a “No” then.

  41. says

    Maddow is crushing it tonight. She brought up Stone and his wikileaks ties and the newest shadow figure who is a verified Russian GRU agent who had meetings with Manafort while he was campaign manager and around the time of the GOP platform change, which JD Gordon now admits was the work of Manafort and Trump. This GUR agent bragged to friends that he was behind the platform change. Yet another connection.

    I honestly think there’s enough known evidence to convict Trump and everyone on his team, publicly known and confirmed evidence. I’m not sure what they are waiting for, but this HAS to end in an arrest and a trial, it has to. If it doesn’t, it will be the greatest travesty in the history of modern global politics.

  42. says

    Vice President Mike Pence commented on Michael Flynn’s work for the government of Turkey.

    […] the first I heard of it and I think it is an affirmation of the President’s decision to ask General Flynn to resign.

    Note that “first I heard of it” part. Team Trump is still claiming that they had no idea Flynn was working as a foreign agent for Turkey while he was also working for Trump.

  43. says

    @60 – Notice that Pence is playing the role of the outsider. It was him Flynn lied to, he knows nothing, nothing connects him to the Russia scandal. Drip drip drip…. *Imagine the x-wing pilot from Star wars* Stay on target, stay on target! That’s how I view Pence and Ryan and their allies right now, they are just waiting for their time to turn on Trump and run him out and take over.

  44. says

    If anyone is watching Maddow, it struck me that she spent a great deal of time painting the Trump administration as clearing house at the state dept, and painted her guest as a victim of that house clearing, but then he says during the interview that he was not fired, he decided to retire.

    She does tend to warp things a little when she’s riffing.

  45. KG says

    Flynn was working as a foreign agent for Turkey while he was also working for Trump – Lynna@60

    That’s disgraceful – how could he betray his Russian handlers like that?

  46. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    erikthebassist @62:

    . . . but then he says during the interview that he was not fired, he decided to retire.

    I was born in 1966. That means that I can retire at age 56 and 4 months. I am not unique among federal civil service employees. Once I hit my Minimum Retirement Age (which the government insists on referring to as MRA), it is my choice as to whether I retire. Okay, nothing new there.

    Consider this, though: 43% of federal FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) hit their MRAs in the next 5 years OR ARE ALREADY THERE. Almost 1 in 4 federal workers can retire TODAY and be done with it.

    It is very difficult to fire federal workers. This is deliberate. It depoliticizes the civil service. We serve the government no matter who is in charge. I cannot be replaced based on who I voted for. Which means that the only real way to get rid of senior civil servants (not the political appointees that are the purview of the President) is by making life so intolerable that we just say, “Screw it,” and leave.

    I do not know if I will retire at my MRA. If management at my park turns to liquid shit (right now it is just shit), I’ll pull the trigger. If the GOPholes continue to defund what I and my agency do, I’ll pull the trigger.

    I suspect that Maddow’s guest has been around long enough to be eligible for retirement. So yeah, he may have been pushed into making a decision which, maybe, he didn’t want to make because the Trumpoids have made work intolerable.

    Forty three percent of us hit MRA in the next five years (that almost includes me). In order to be eligible for MRA, the worker must have a minimum of 30 years creditable service. There are about 14 million federal workers who are in FERS. So, 14,000.000 * .43 = 6,030,000 employees who can retire in the next five years. At a minimum of 30 years service, that is 180,600,000 years of institutional memory, of knowing the rules, the regulations and the laws, of knowing how to get things done, of knowing the resources, of understanding, that will be gone when we retire. One hundred and eighty million years of memory will be gone. (and these are conservative numbers — I’m taking a wild guess that 1/3 of the 22 million or so federal employees are term, temporary or non-career seasonal, so the numbers are probably higher)

    So, when senior bureaucrats take their retirement at the earliest date, or before they planned to,because of intolerable working conditions or because of political meddling, then yes, that is cleaning house. That is making the agency more compliant. Because they are removing the institutional memory. Choice between getting an ulcer, getting stress-related diseases, and retirement is not really a choice.

    So yes, he was not fired, he decided to retire. The situation got so bad that he decided to leave the career he chose, the job he worked, the position he attained, the cause he devoted his adult life to, the job most likely loved. Yeah, that’s clearing house by the Fascicons.

  47. says

    Trump and Pence are claiming that they were unaware of Flynn’s working as a foreign agent for Turkey prior to the most recent reports about the DOJ FARA filing. They’re lying through their teeth. Josh Marshall provides a list of news reports about it from November and December (I’m sure Lynna or I posted about it here at the time) and an 11/18 letter sent from Elijah Cummings directly to Mike Pence, which reads in part:

    I am writing to raise questions about the apparent conflicts of interest of the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Transition Team, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who reportedly has been selected by the President-elect to be his National Security Advisor.

    Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests. Lt. Gen. Flynn’s General Counsel and Principal, Robert Kelley, confirmed that they were hired by a foreign company to lobby for Turkish interests, stating: “They want to keep posted on what we all want to be informed of: the present situation, the transition between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.” When asked whether the firm had been hired because of Lt. Gen. Flynn’s close ties to President-elect Trump, Mr. Kelley responded, “I hope so.”

    Flynn Intel Group apparently was hired by a company whose founder, Kamil Ekim Alptekin, is the Chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, represents Turkey in the Board of the United States Nowruz Commission, and reportedly helped organize the Turkish President’s 2016 visit to Washington, D.C. Mr. Ekim Alptekin has described himself as being “committed to boosting Transatlantic trade and bolstering the commercial angle of decades-long Turkish-American partnership.”

    On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Lt. Gen. Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill advocating on behalf of the government of Turkey, entitled: “Our Ally Turkey Is In Crisis and Needs Our Support.”[1] In that op-ed, Lt. Gen. Flynn wrote: “The U.S. media is doing a bang-up job of reporting the Erdogan government’s crackdown on dissidents, but it’s not putting it into perspective.” He also wrote: “We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective.”

    Lt. Gen. Flynn also was paid to travel to Moscow in December 2015 and join Vladimir Putin at the head table during a dinner honoring the Kremlin-backed media network RT. During the event, Lt. Gen. Flynn gave a speech that was highly critical of the United States, stating, “The United States can’t sit there and say, ‘Russia, you’re bad.’” Lt. Gen. Flynn has stated that he was paid by his speaker’s bureau, LAI, but he has not disclosed how much he made or what entity hired LAI….

  48. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Brother Og,
    Hey, you and I reach our retirement age at about the same time. In 2022, my pension will max out, and I’ll be 62 and able to retire without penalty to that pension. Will I last that long? I don’t know. Rather than name my agency, I will refer to it as the International Worldwide House of Rocket Exploration (IWHORE).

    My agency is one of those that the new administration wants desperately to keep from pointing instruments at Earth for fear of revealing how badly we are fucking up the planet. When I became a civil servant, I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution. The question now is how I defend said compact when the constitutionally legitimate President wipes his arse with the constitution thrice daily.

    Our agency is aware of the precarious position it is in with regard to loss of technical expertise. They have tried to develop remedies under the last administration. Now, the current administration views civil servants as the enemy. The next president will have a very different country than the one we have now.

  49. says

    Follow-up to #67 – Politico is pointing out that the Trump transition was asked for a comment, which they didn’t provide, for its 11/14 story about Flynn’s foreign-agent work:

    Kelley said he didn’t know if the client presented a conflict of interest. A spokesman for Flynn said he was too busy to answer questions. The Trump transition didn’t answer a request for comment.

    The 11/19 AP report, also linked at Marshall’s article, also noted that their request for comment wasn’t responded to. I assume CNN and others also contacted the Trump gang to ask for comment.

  50. says

    “Ryan On Millions Losing Care: ‘Never Going To Win A Coverage Beauty Contest'”:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted Friday that the Congressional Budget Office will likely estimate that millions of people would lose health insurance under the GOP’s proposed health care bill.

    But he said that the the bill wasn’t meant to address the “beauty contest” of increasing coverage.

    “We always know, you’re never going to win a coverage beauty contest when it’s free market versus government mandates,” Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt, after Hewitt floated the possibility that the CBO would estimate 15 million people will lose health insurance because of the American Health Care Act.

    “If the government says, ‘Thou shall buy our health insurance,’ the government estimates are going to say people will comply and it will happen. And when you replace that with, ‘We’re going to have a free market and you buy what you want to buy,’ they’re going to say not nearly as many people are going to do that,” Ryan continued. “That’s just going to happen. And so you’ll have those coverage estimates. We assume that’s going to happen. That’s not our goal. Our goal is not to show a pretty piece of paper that says, ‘We’re mandating great things for Americans.’…

  51. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The astounding thing to me is that Ryan almost admits that the free market will produce an inferior outcome, but endorses it because it is ideologically pure! Ayn Rand would be so proud.

  52. says

    It’s hard to believe this argument is still being made, but it is.

    From 2009 hearings on health care (Affordable Care Act/Obamacare):

    Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican from Arizona said, “I don’t need maternity care.”

    ”I think your mom probably did,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan said.

    From the Washington Post, this week:

    At the start, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) was talking with Republican Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.) about Shimkus’s objections to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for health-insurance plans…. “What mandate in the Obamacare bill does he take issue with?” Doyle asked Shimkus, using the formal parlance of congressional committees.

    “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” Shimkus said.

    From New Republic:

    The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers cover maternity care is a major manifestation of its broader prohibition against gender rating. Before Obamacare, it made sense actuarially for insurers to charge women more than men for coverage on the individual market. The fact that women, rather than men, incur maternity costs was a big part of their justification, though women were also generally charged more for equivalent coverage. By prohibiting the practice, Obamacare doesn’t just strike a blow for moral reasoning. It effectuates a billion-dollar transfer of wealth from men to women.

    By undertaking to foist the costs of maternity care back onto women alone, Ellmers was proposing, perhaps unwittingly, to transfer all of that wealth from women back to men.

    The Affordable Care Act does not penalize women for being women. Under the ACA, women do not pay more for coverage than men. That’s a good thing.

  53. says

    Follow-up to comment 78. Women will not need a prostrate exam, so perhaps they should not have to pay for coverage for that? Viagra? Testicular cancer treatment?

    The premise is ridiculous, and it doesn’t work well in the insurance market.

    Also, it is often the case that men are involved when women get pregnant.

  54. microraptor says

    SC @65:

    I’d like to hear one of them explain in a couple of sentences what the CIA’s purpose would be in doing this

    Something, something, take away our guns, probably.

  55. says

    The whole healthcare debate boils down to whether or not you believe that healthcare is a right or a privilege. Republicans believe that only the people that can afford it should get it, democrats believe everyone should have equal access.

    Health care isn’t housing or automobiles. One can survive poor housing or not having a car. As miserable a life as it can be, it won’t kill you. Not going to the doctor when you have signs of a heart attack, stroke or cancer because you are afraid of the bill it will generate will. Not getting regular health checks because you are afraid of the bill can kill you.

    Unfortunately, this is still the case even with obamacare. It is basically catastrophic insurance, but it still puts people in to crushing debt when something goes wrong, so the end effect in many cases is the same.

    I have more medical debt than I make in 2 years, and I was insured during every visit to the hospital. I’ll never be able to pay it. I can’t even afford to try and make a dent in it, so I have no choice but to let it ruin my credit, so I’ll never be able to have a credit card or finance a house or a car. I am now a permanent member of the lower class because of medical debt, when I was once comfortably middle class.

    Until we start talking about socialized healthcare, we are never going to have anything approaching a fair system that works for everybody. Health insurance companies are useless middlemen who add nothing of value, nothing necessary to the system yet they reap outrageously high profits off of it’s back.

    So republicans can argue with each other and Trump all day long about how they are going to fix the problem, but they can’t, because they won’t consider single payer.

  56. says

    Steve Benen pointed out that Republicans are working hard to discredit the Congressional Budget Office before a report is issued on Trumpcare/Ryancare.

    […] At some point very soon, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is going to issue a non-partisan report on the impact of the Republicans’ American Health Care Act […] The analysis will provide all kinds of important data, including the cost of the GOP bill and how many Americans are likely to have health insurance if the Republican proposal is implemented.

    The CBO’s conclusions are not likely to be flattering – which is why Republican leaders are scrambling to push their bill now, before lawmakers and the public have all the facts, since reality is likely to cast “Trumpcare” in a very unflattering light.

    But GOP officials can only rush so much, and the CBO score will be available long before the American Health Care Act comes to the floor for a vote. That, in turn, leads Republicans to believe it’s time to go after the Congressional Budget Office’s credibility now, […]

    On the surface, this is plainly ridiculous. No one’s ever suggested the CBO is perfect, but to preemptively attack Congress’ scorekeepers, with a series of claims that aren’t true, in order to mask a bad bill’s flaws, adds insult to legislative injury. […]

    But just below the surface, there’s a larger pattern of GOP efforts to undermine confidence in objective sources of information. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman noted yesterday,:

    This is straight out of President Trump’s playbook, one that tries to convince everyone that there’s no such thing as a neutral authority on anything. If the CBO might say your bill will have problematic effects, then the answer is not to rebut its particular critique, but to attack the institution itself as fundamentally illegitimate. If the news media report things that don’t reflect well on you, then they’re “the enemy of the American People.” If polls show you with a low approval rating, then “any negative polls are fake news.” If a court issues a ruling you don’t like, then it’s a “so-called judge” who has no right to constrain you.


    Benen’s article goes on to present a Republican trust/mistrust comparison.
    Congressional Budget office
    Doctors, nurses, hospitals
    Climate scientists
    Scholars and subject-matter experts
    Intelligence agencies
    Judges and the court system

    Republicans in Congress
    Republicans in the White House
    Conservative media aligned with Republicans in the White House.

  57. says

    erik @81, thanks for that analysis. I am close to being in the same situation. Paying for health care that saved my life moved me from middle class to lower-middle class, and for a period of time into poverty. I have paid off my medical debt (that took years), but now I still can’t afford the kind of medical care I need.

    I have insurance now, but I can’t afford to pay the deductible.

  58. says

    Paul Ryan:

    But we always know you’re never going to win a coverage beauty contest when it’s free market versus government mandates.

    Translation: I don’t care if millions of people lose their health insurance.

  59. tomh says

    These are the people that are deciding health care for the country. Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), is a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, an influential group of 16 Republican representatives who are at the center of the fight. In an interview with STAT, Marshall said, “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” he said. “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Pressed on that point, Marshall shrugged. “Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, [some people] just don’t want health care,” he said.

  60. says

    House Republicans do not know how many of their constituents are on Obamacare.

    On Thursday evening, two House Republicans — Steve King (IA) and Leonard Lance (NJ) — went on Christopher Hayes’ MSNBC show and were asked how many of their constituents have healthcare coverage obtained through an Affordable Care Act exchange.

    Neither had a clue. […]

    As Hayes pointed out, roughly 11,400 people in King’s district have obtained health care through an ACA exchange in King’s district, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Hayes then pressed King as to whether he knows “what’s gonna happen to them under this [replacement] bill. Have you talked to constituents, particularly in rural areas, who are going to be paying more out of pocket under this plan?” […]

    “Well, of course we don’t have that data, because first of all we just gotta look at this bill that’s been offered,” [King] replied.

    But data is in fact available. According to numbers compiled by, 43,100 out of the 585,305 people in King’s district are projected to lose their healthcare if “Trumpcare” and the bill’s Medicaid rollback becomes law.

    Later, Hayes pressed Lance with a similar line of questioning.

    Asked how many people in his district are “on the exchanges,” Lance replied, “I would say roughly 5,000 or so, Chris.”

    Hayes corrected Lance, telling him, “my understanding from Kaiser Family Foundation is it’s as much as four times that, I think it’s much more like 20,000.” Indeed, according to Kaiser, 20,600 people in Lance’s district are ACA enrollees.

    A total of 38,063 people in Lance’s district are projected to lose their healthcare under Trumpcare. […]

    Think Progress link

    This kind of ignorance is not a virtue.

  61. says

    “The Republican health plan is a huge betrayal of Trump’s campaign promises”:

    Donald Trump’s embrace of the American Health Care Act, authored by Paul Ryan and other House Republicans seemingly in collaboration with establishment-minded members of his administration, represents a massive betrayal of his own clear and repeated promises to the American people.

    To an extent, sophisticated political journalists always knew Trump was likely to break those promises. And his embrace of conventional, conservative House Republicans such as Mick Mulvaney to run the Office of Management and Budget and Tom Price to run the Department of Health and Human Services was a clear indication that he intended to break them. But it would be a mistake to simply gloss over this breach of faith.

    Trump’s embrace of more centrist positions on health care and retirement security was a crucial aspect of his campaign, and there was enough campaign-season tension between Trump and the GOP leadership that a voter could be forgiven for assuming Trump meant what he was saying.

    He did not. Trump ran and won promising to cover everyone, avoid Medicaid cuts, and boost funding for opioid abuse treatment. He is now lobbying Congress to pass a bill that does none of those things. Instead, millions will lose insurance and Medicaid spending will be sacrificed on the altar of tax cuts for the rich.

    While cutting financial assistance overall to ensure that most people are worse off, the American Health Care Act also specifically advantages and disadvantages certain groups of people relative to the ACA. In particular, residents of rural areas where the cost of health insurance is inherently higher due to reduced competition will get less help under the AHCA. Older Americans will also face drastically higher premiums due to laxer regulation of insurance companies.

    This means that not only will Trump be betraying his promises in general, but, as Nate Cohn writes for the New York Times, he’ll be specifically harming people who voted for him the most.

    Jonathan Weisman, a political editor at the Times, breezily asserts that Trump voters “probably wouldn’t care” about this even if they understood it. It’s certainly true that Trump voters might still support Trump all things considered, regardless of his health care plan, since they likely agree with him about guns, immigration, the environment, abortion, and other topics. But Trump probably didn’t run around the country promising people lower deductibles, universal coverage, and no cuts to Medicaid for no reason at all. He said that stuff because it’s popular….

    Yes to this. It’s frustrating that more Democrats and people in the media aren’t calling attention to it. And people are largely letting them get away with claiming that this was the plan Trump ran on. It’s plainly false – this is something they cobbled together from a scrapyard of rightwing talking points in the past few weeks. But it obviously can’t be what he ran on, because it’s not what he fucking ran on.

  62. says

    Writing for Mother Jones, Josh Harkinson investigated the influence of the “alt-right” in Silicon Valley.

    Readers of The Right Stuff long knew that founder “Mike Enoch” had two main interests: technology and white supremacy. […]

    In January, Enoch was outed as Mike Peinovich, a Manhattan-based software engineer. His unmasking highlighted a lingering question about the racist far-right movement that rose to prominence with Donald Trump’s election: What support might the so-called alt-right have among techies?

    […] “The average alt-right-ist is probably a 28-year-old tech-savvy guy working in IT,” white nationalist Richard Spencer insisted when I interviewed him a few weeks before the election. […] Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, told me he gets donations from Silicon Valley, and that Santa Clara County, home to Apple and Intel, is his site’s largest traffic source. […]

    None of these alt-right figures would provide any data to support their claims. As I’ve reported, some alt-right sites have wildly overstated their reach. Moreover, the tech industry is renowned for its globalist outlook: Public-opinion surveys conducted by a Stanford political economist have found that rank-and-file workers in Silicon Valley exhibit less racial resentment and more favorable views toward most forms of immigration than average Americans.

    Nonetheless, “alt-techies,” as Spencer and others call them, do appear to play a role in a movement that first incubated in the backwaters of the internet and eventually spread online with the rise of Trump. Some heroes of the far right are associated with tech: They include former Breitbart News “tech editor” Milo Yiannopoulos; the infamous neo-Nazi hacker Andrew Auernheimer (a.k.a. Weev); and the video gaming vlogger Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, whose “Pewdiepie” YouTube channel featuring Nazi-themed jokes has 54 million subscribers. […]

    There are also successful figures in the tech industry who appeal to and have commingled with the alt-right: The DeploraBall, a gathering of far-right activists and conspiracy theorists during Trump’s inauguration, was co-organized by software investor Jeff Giesea and attended by tech billionaire and Trump backer Peter Thiel. […]

    Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who reportedly gave Trump more than $1 million during the campaign and was an adviser on Trump’s transition team, has circled neoreactionary ideas. “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” he wrote on the Cato Institute’s blog in 2009, adding that women and “welfare beneficiaries” have through their voting habits “rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron” […]

    White supremacists see the historical dominance of Silicon Valley by white males as a reflection of the world’s natural order. […]

    The alt-techies I spoke with remain aware of the risks of emerging further from the shadows. “If I posted publicly about what I told you, I’d get fired,” says Larry, the Google software engineer. “Even with Trump, there is huge cultural inertia.”

    Read the full article at the link for more details.

  63. says

    Roger Stone appeared on RT (Russian Television) again. Stone is pushing the lie that someone wiretapped Trump and Trump Tower.

    In an interview with RT, at least his fifth since 2015, Stone stated that both he and Trump believe that Trump Tower “was under surveillance by the federal government and the intelligence agencies” during the 2016 presidential campaign in “potentially the greatest scandal in American history.” […] He called for a “grand jury” where Obama would be “questioned under oath.” […]

    During the interview, Stone also disputed the American intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, […]

    Since June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign, Stone appeared on RT at least four times before this latest interview. He claimed in a 2015 interview that Chelsea Clinton was a “co-conspirator” in the “profiteering” and “bribes” of the Clinton Foundation, and said in a February 2016 RT interview that Jeb Bush “brings out his mother” Barbara Bush “on those rare occasions when she’s sober” and that the Bush family is “like an organized crime family.”

    In another February 2016 interview, he pushed for the election of Trump and said the U.S needed “to have a leader, to have a president kind of like Comrade Putin.” […]

    Media Matters link

  64. says

    Trump thinks that Obamacare was “meant to explode” in 2017:

    […] ‘17 would be a disaster for Obamacare. That’s the year it was meant to explode because Obama won’t be here. That was when it was supposed to be even worse.

  65. says

    SC @90, all too true.

    Wonkette covered the fact that Republican men do not want to pay for insurance that covers prenatal care and other medical needs related to maternity.

    If there is any population that has the sympathy of the Right, it is the unborn. The unborn are much better and purer than the born, for reasons. They have not committed sins yet, like being born to poor people or anything like that, and everything possible must be done to protect them.

    Anything, that is, other than expecting men who cannot give birth to have to pay for insurance that covers prenatal care. At least according to Illinois Congressman John Shimkus, who is apparently very unclear about how insurance or sex or human reproduction work. […]

    Mr. Shimkus took some time to kvetch about how it is unfair for men like him to have to pay for insurance that covers prenatal care, because they are not the ones who were dumb enough to raise their hands when God was asking who wanted to take on the baby-having duties. […]

    Doyle [Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle] then explained that there is no such thing as “a la carte insurance” and that no insurance company in the world will let you go and do things that way. Shimkus explained that it should be, and that he and other consumers would like to do things that way.

    Of course, the way insurance works is that everyone chips in to a big pool of money, and then that money is there when you need it to cover your medical bills. It’s not just you contributing towards you and the specific things that affect you, personally, or we ladies would all have carveouts for Viagra and prostate and/or nut cancer. […]

    Until women figure out the whole asexual reproduction thing, babby cannot be formed without sperm, often contributed by penis-havers […] men who have heterosexual sex are just as responsible for the need for prenatal care as women are. […] Also, they are just as responsible for the need for birth control as we are. Because if we were not fucking them, those things would be unnecessary. Ta-da! […]

  66. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @82

    Under the Trust list you forgot
    Oligarchs that aren’t George Soros

  67. says

    This is one of those “oh, FFS” moments.

    Maricopa County [Arizona] burnished its reputation as the Trumpiest in America last weekend as hundreds of locals, including heavily armed militamen, white nationalists and even a few elected officials, gathered to support the 45th president. The ensuing “March for Trump” was as horrifying as it sounds.

    “I heard ‘lock her up, lock her up,’ and we still need to pursue that,” announced Arizona Rep. Anthony Kern; […]

    “If you don’t like it here, go to Syria, go to someplace else,” one attendee shouted. […]

    “If she’s Jewish, she should go back to her country,” a 13-year-old Trump supporter said of a protester.

    “This is America, we don’t want Sharia Law,” one attendee explained. “Christian country,” he added.[…]

    “I think there’s a lot there,” another said of Pizzagate, a deranged right-wing conspiracy theory that Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta ran a child prostitution ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. “Definitely enough to warrant an investigation.” […]

    “I just want to let them know that I can’t wait for the liberal genocide to begin,” an Oath Keeper shouted at a small group of protesters.

    “That’s the way to make America great again,” he later told Cohen. “Liberals are destroying the country.”


    Offensive and infuriating video is available at the link.

  68. says

    miltantagnostic @94, I considered just adding Vladimir Putin, and maybe Julian Assange.

    On the “trust” list, Trump would add himself. We had “Republicans in the White House” on the list of people team Trump wants us to trust, but I think Trump himself deserves an individual listing. Here’s an example of why we can’t do that trust thing, why we don’t believe him. Trump said on January 15, 2017:

    We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.

  69. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @83

    I have insurance now, but I can’t afford to pay the deductible.

    So effectively you don’t have insurance except for something completely catastrophic?

  70. Czech American says

    @Lynna OM #93

    Asking consumers what specific things they want covered is ridiculous from both a consumer and a business perspective. No one would ever be able to calculate a premium for something that complicated, and consumers have a hard enough time understanding their coverage now. Imagine if they had to tic 500 boxes on what they wanted covered? And how often would they fail to tic the box for what actually happens to them?

  71. militantagnostic says

    SC @ 98

    The WH counsel is supposed to help them avoid legal issues, not cover them up.

    This is Trumpigula were talking about. The primary role of a legal adviser is to tell him what he wants to hear. Covering things up when the shit hits fan as the result of the primary role is the secondary role. In the past this was done be wearing to the people he stiffed and settling out of court when that failed.

  72. militantagnostic says

    The apostrophe in my comment #101 went the way of Trump’s promises to ensure that no-one would lose coverage.

  73. says

    So effectively you don’t have insurance except for something completely catastrophic?

    Answering for myself not Lynna, but essentially yes, this is Obamacare. It was never a great law, mainly because republicans obstructed any attempt by dems to make a good law. It was a poor compromise and largely understood to be a stop gap, and in that respect it worked. Now if we had a dem congress and whitehouse, we could have further improved it and ultimately gotten to a single payer solution, but that hope is gone now.

    It’s worth noting that preventative care, iow regular check ups and screenings, have to be 100% covered sans deductible under the ACA so we have that going for us which is nice.

  74. militantagnostic says

    It’s worth noting that preventative care, iow regular check ups and screenings, have to be 100% covered sans deductible under the ACA so we have that going for us which is nice.

    So not as bad as I thought it was. Is the case with the proposed replacement?

    I had a checkup yesterday – I showed up, got weighed saw the doctor and left – zero paperwork on my part (and probably very little for them) since they already had my Alberta Health Care number. Tell me again how private enterprise is so more efficient than socialism.

  75. says

    militantagnostic (104):
    Tell me about it. It once took over a month for me to be told “no, we only do pediatric neurology”. Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve ever had a DMV visit lasting more than half an hour, and that’s what people always point to as their example of “bloated bureaucracy”. Where did this idea that government is always less efficient than the market come from?

  76. says

    militant agnostic @99, correct. I do receive a certain amount of wellness/preventative care (stuff that Obamacare mandated when adjustments were made to the insurance market regulations).

  77. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Right wing/libertarian billionaires (like the Koch family) setting up think tanks like the Heritage Foundation to push for less government in people’s lives. Usually meaning theirs, and their money doesn’t get spent helping the shameless immoral/poor people.

  78. says

    Another, “oh, FFS!” moment. During his press briefing today, Sean Spicer confirmed a rapidly metastasizing rightwing conspiracy theory:

    […] Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if the White House believes “there’s such a thing as the deep state actively working to undermine the President.”

    Though he did not use the phrase “deep state” in his response to Yahoo News reporter Hunter Walker, Spicer replied affirmatively.

    “I think there’s no question when you have eight years of one party in office that there are people who stay in government who are affiliated with, joined and continue to espouse the agenda of the previous administration,” he said. “So I don’t think it should come to any surprise that there are people that burrowed into government during the eight years of the last administration and, you know, may have believed that agenda and want to continue to seek it.”

    “I don’t think that should come to a surprise to anyone,” he added.

    Trump and his senior advisers, including chief strategist Steve Bannon, reportedly believe that leftovers from the Obama administration are actively working to discredit his authority and leak damaging information to the press. This concern fueled Trump’s allegation over the weekend that Obama himself ordered Trump Tower wiretapped during the campaign.

    That information is believed to have come from a Breitbart News story that circulated around the White House last week. […]

  79. says

    Another “oh, FFS” moment, courtesy of Sean Spicer:

    [A reporter asked] “Does the President believe that this jobs report was accurate and a fair way to measure the economy?”

    “I talked to the President prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer said. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

  80. says

    As expected, Fox News ignored Nigel Farage’s visit to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to meet with Julian Assange.

    Farage is a paid contributor for the Fox News network (has been since January). Nevertheless, Fox News has not featured Farage talking about his meeting with Assange, nor has any other Fox News host questioned Farage about the meeting.

  81. says

    Hmmm, sounds like a different kind of mass deportation. Jeff Sessions just asked all the attorneys appointed by Obama, 46 of them, to resign.
    Daily Beast link

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking the resignations of 46 United States attorneys who were appointed during the prior presidential administration, the Justice Department said Friday. […]

    It is customary, though not automatic, for the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office. The Obama administration allowed political appointees of President George W. Bush to serve until their replacement had been nominated and confirmed.

    The federal prosecutors are nominated by the president, generally upon the recommendation of a home-state senator.

    One U.S. attorney appointed by Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general. […]

    Star Tribune link

  82. tomh says

    @ #103
    “Now if we had a dem congress and whitehouse, we could have further improved it and ultimately gotten to a single payer solution, but that hope is gone now.”

    There was a Democratic Congress, both houses, and a Democrat in the White House when the ACA was passed. Single payer was never an option, too many Democrats oppose it. The ACA was pretty much the best compromise (and that’s compromise with right leaning Democrats, not Republicans) that could be passed at the time, and there’s little indication that it would have been changed much if the Democrats had held on to the majority.

  83. says

    @112 – That’s some interesting revisionist history:

    Senate Democrats were engaged in a highly contentious debate throughout the fall of 2009, and the political life of the public option changed almost daily. The debate reached a critical impasse in November 2009, when Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who usually caucuses with the Democrats, threatened to filibuster the Senate bill if it included a public option.

    During this period, several alternatives were considered. One compromise proposal included a Medicare buy-in for people age fifty-five and older. However, both Senator Lieberman and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) opposed the Medicare buy-in, which evoked concerns similar to those raised about the public option. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) proposed using nonprofit health care cooperatives to compete with for-profit plans, but this concept also sparked little enthusiasm.

    I can’t copy paste from the above, but there’s a bit in there about Baucus, one of the senators who voted against the public option in committee doing so because he didn’t think anything with a public option could get past a republican filibuster.

  84. tomh says

    Where’s the revisionism? Here’s an AP article, 10/27/2009 that leads off, “Democratic moderates who control the balance of power on health care legislation, balked Tuesday at a government-run insurance option for millions of Americans.” If you were paying attention in 2009 you would know that many Democrats opposed the public option. I think you have an exalted ideal of how invested Democrats are in health care in general and a public option in particular.

    And Lieberman was as much a Democrat as Bernie Sanders, more so even, since he actually ran for VP on the Democratic ticket.

  85. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It was Lieberman who tipped the scales, and he was NOT a democrat.

    Lieberman was simply the face of the opposition within the democratic party. When Obama was in the IL Senate, he shared a desk with the democratic whip, who has been my state senator for years. He learned to count the votes prior to voting, and see what the who the in-party opposition was, and what was their complaints.
    Obama knew there was too much opposition within the democrats for a public option of any sort. So he didn’t bother to fight for it, being a realist. I’m sure he would have gone there if he thought he could get it passed.
    Sometimes folks here think that all the democrats are all on the far left, like most of the rethugs are on the far right. Those on the left haven’t fought tooth and nail for party purity like the religious right/reactionary/libertarian end of the rethugs. Some democrats are really about 40-60% on the left (0) right (100) axis. The public option is pushed by those who are lower than 35-40% on that axis. It does include me, but not all democrats.

  86. says

    Do you buy this? Sean Spicer said the Michael Flynn’s lobbying for Turkish interests was a “personal matter.” How is it a “personal matter” that Flynn was working as a foreign agent for Turkey at the same time that he was working for Trump?

    It may have been personally important to Flynn, but it was also a conflict of interest during the campaign season, the transition, and after January 20 when Trump took office.

  87. says

    @115 – For one thing you said it was “Never an option” because “too many democrats opposed it”. In both my links and the one you provided, it’s clear that it was an option, an option that was voted down. In most cases, the dems that opposed it only did so because they didn’t think it was realistic to get the 60 votes needed to get it through, and could probably not get past a filibuster.

    Joe Lieberman was no democrat, he was more conservative than a lot of republicans. The fact that he was on that ticket was a mistake. He was always a snake in the grass.

    Bottom line is, the overwhelming majority of dems supported a public option. Only a few balked, mostly for political reasons and not because they actually opposed it, and Joe Lieberman was the main spearhead in getting it shot down.

    So yes, revisionist. If you are going to claim the democrats are the reason we don’t have a public option, you are out in left field.

  88. says

    I’m not claiming the dems are pure and monolithic, I’m just saying to lay blame at the feet of the dems when it was clear the ruthugs would filibuster and stand unified against any bill with a public option is just wrong. With any support from the other side of the aisle at all they could have gotten it through.

  89. tomh says

    The idea that “the overwhelming majority of dems supported a public option” is revisionism in the extreme. And if you think most decisions aren’t made for “political reasons,” I don’t know what to tell you. The public option was painted as “socialized medicine,” support for which, in many districts, would be a death blow to re-election hopes. So for whatever reasons, many Democrats opposed it. I don’t know why you’re arguing about that.

  90. says

    I think that it was SC who first predicted on this thread a decline in tourism in the U.S. thanks to Trump.

    Time/Money link

    […] the “Trump Slump”—the anticipated decline in foreign travelers to the U.S. due to the reality of Donald Trump as president—is not boding quite as well for the American economy.

    The rise of Trump, and specifically his policies on immigration and the Muslim ban, appears to be causing some foreign tourists to rethink plans to visit the U.S. Search engines reported a steep decline in international travelers looking for flights to America immediately after Trump issued a controversial order banning refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries in early 2017. Many overseas-based tour operaters noticed a sharp dip in bookings to the U.S. around this time as well.

    […] “The livelihood of millions of Americans depends on people being able to use planes, trains and automobiles to spend their tourist dollars.”

    […] On Tuesday, the New York Times cited a forecast from the international firm Tourism Economics stating that the number of foreign travelers in the U.S. could drop by 6.3 million annually due to Trump rhetoric and policies. America welcomed about 77 million international visitors in 2016, so that would mean a decrease of 8.2%.

    What could such a drop mean in terms of dollars? According to U.S. Travel Association data for 2015, “each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,400 when they visit the U.S. and stays an average of 18 nights.” A more recent estimate from the Global Business Travel Association holds that “each overseas traveler spends approximately $5,000 when they visit” the U.S.

    Multiply that spending by a theoretical decline of 6.3 million foreign visitors, and what you get is a potential loss of $27 billion to $31.5 billion annually. That would be a devastating slump indeed. […]

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    With any support from the other side of the aisle at all they could have gotten it through.

    Fine, please link to the support from ANY Rethugs…..

  92. Pierce R. Butler says

    erikthebassist @ # 113: … Baucus… didn’t think anything with a public option could get past a republican filibuster.

    As I recall from following the debate fairly closely (remember, Obama promised an end to back-room deals, then got his signature program through mostly by same), Max Baucus was notoriously in the pocket of insurance and financial interests and had a reputation for, ah, negotiable virtue generally. I advise treating his excuses and rationales with the same credence you’d give, say, Sean Spicer.

  93. says

    Nerd @ 122 – did I ever say a single ruthug supported it? That’s my point. They weren’t going to let it get through.

    Tomh, nevermind, I don’t want to derail this thread with a silly argument. I just get pissed when people try and make the “dems are just as bad” argument. The parties are not the same, and I’m proud to be a dem. Even though they aren’t perfect, they are generally on the right side of history.

  94. tomh says

    Oh please, I never said or implied that the “dems are just as bad.” I’ve been a Democrat my whole life and I’m over 70. My father worked in the FDR administration, for crying out loud, I never implied there’s any equivalency between the two parties. I merely pointed out that single payer wasn’t going to happen, and a lot of Democrats weren’t (and still aren’t) in favor of it. No big deal.

  95. says

    @127 – Fair enough. I hold out hope however that the backlash against Trump and the GOP is going to be severe enough that we will again be able to hope for socialized health care. We’re the last western liberal democracy to not have it.

  96. says


    March 11: Go to a #PeoplePower watch party to watch a livestream of ACLU’s first Resistance Training.

    These events are being held across the US this afternoon, and there are a lot of them! There’s a map at the link. They also say in the responses that the resistance training will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube and available after that, but going to your local watch party, if you can make it, is the best way to get involved.

  97. says

    Update, of sorts, to #124 – I can’t get over this. MSNBC is asking right now if there’s really “a ‘deep state’ in the Trump admin.?” At the same time that it’s coming out that McCauley, a former FBI agent, alleged in October an attempted quid pro quo effort with the State Department regarding Benghazi-related emails while he was being secretly paid by Michael Flynn as part of Flynn’s work as an agent of the Turkish regime. How are they not asking about a cabal in the FBI working as a shadow state, in league with the Trump campaign, to sabotage Clinton’s candidacy?

  98. says

    As far as I can tell, Rachel Maddow showed quite plainly that Vice President Pence also lied about the entire Mike Flynn story. The video is 23:08 minutes long.

    Speaking of lies, Chris Hayes covered the first 50 days of the Trump administration and came to the conclusion that “nothing can be taken at face value.” This is Chris Hayes at his best. The video is 6:47 minutes long. Excerpt:

    […] The White House is full of it, and they know it, and they know that reporters know it. And they don’t care. You see, not a single thing that emanates from this White House can ever, ever be completely believed, or granted presumptive authority, or assumed to be true. Not one thing. Not what the President says, not what Sean Spicer says, or what officials say on the record or off the record. Nothing, no matter how serious or how trivial. You simply cannot take any of it at face value. […] This White House has shown, at the most fundamental level, that BS is part of its DNA. […]

  99. says

    SC @132, so glad to see that court decision. Republicans in Texas had diluted Latino voting strength, and/or had packed Latinos into fewer districts.

    In other news, here is an update on US Attorney Preet Bharara:

    I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.

    It looks like team Trump watched a Hannity show on Fox News in which Hannity urged Trump to fire everyone, so Trump did. As was already pointed out, in November both Trump and Sessions had asked Bharara to stay on.

  100. says

    A concise response from Robert Baer to the Trump administration’s “Deep State” conspiracy theory:

    This is an alt-right conspiracy theory that there’s such a thing as the deep state. I have dealt with deep states in the Middle East where there are generals and intelligence officers and they are deep states. We don’t have one here in the United States. There is not a concerted effort. There are leakers, both Republicans and Democrats, but they’re not organized and there’s nobody organized this. Certainly the former president, President Obama, is not doing this. And this is another distraction. I think going down the conspiracy theory hole is not going to get us anywhere and it’s just going to wreck the credibility of this administration and, you know, we need some adult supervision here.

    And for more on the “alt-right” and its influence within the Trump administration watch this video from John Kerr, Sarah Wasko, Dayanita Ramesh, and Alazar Moges. The video is only 1:47 minutes long, but covers a lot of material.

  101. says

    Michael Flynn’s good buddy and former boss, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was exceptionally obnoxious in referring to the Dutch government today. Erdogan was trying to bully the Dutch. Emphasis is mine.

    […] Authorities in the Netherlands stripped the Turkish [foreign] minister of his landing rights ahead of a planned rally in support of a controversial Turkish referendum. Rotterdam’s mayor had earlier banned the rally over “risks to public order and security,” though Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had vowed to speak at the rally despite the ban.

    The security concerns cited by the Dutch mayor were shared by authorities in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, where separate rallies were also blocked. The April 16 referendum on constitutional reform has been met with concern in parts of Europe, with some worried that by expanding Erdogan’s powers, it would pave the way to full-on authoritarian rule.

    Erdogan responded to the Netherlands’ move on Saturday by promising retaliation. “Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on, let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey,” he was cited as saying by the BBC.

    Earlier, he accused German authorities of “Nazi” practices for barring another rally in support of a “yes” vote in the referendum. The Dutch government said it was trying to find an “acceptable solution” to Cavsoglu’s campaign plans, but “before these talks were completed, Turkish authorities publicly threatened sanctions. That makes the search for a reasonable solution impossible.” It said the Turkish government “does not want to respect the rules” for public meetings in the Netherlands.


  102. says

    Matthew Miller: “If Preet wasn’t investigating Trump in any way, this will all blow over quickly. If he was, hang on to your hats.”

    I think I heard one of the people on CNN say earlier that he was investigating some Russians who were unusually rich possibly due to their links to Putin (but I was on the treadmill trying to follow two TVs at once, so didn’t quite catch it). I’ve also heard that there was also a request a couple of days ago for him to investigate something related to Trump, and an investigation of the Ailes payout at Fox. I’m not very clear about any of it.

  103. says

    Oh, FFS, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, is being wildly inappropriate with this praise for Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn:

    From everything that I can see, his [Flynn’s] conversations with the Russian ambassador, he was doing this country a favor, and he should be thanked for it.

    Nunes is the guy in charge of holding the committee’s public hearings on issues related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

  104. says

    In case you are keeping track, Trump is now on his ninth golf course visit. That’s nine golf games in seven weeks.

    In related news, I’m starting to see articles that are more specific about the costs of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago, and perhaps more importantly, about how the visits to Mar-a-Lago are a spy’s dream and security personnel’s nightmare.

  105. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 145.

    NPR link

    With Congress showing no signs of taking action, a group of ethics watchdogs is turning to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to look into whether President Trump’s many business interests violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    “Published reports indicate that the Trump Organization and related Trump business entities have been receiving payments from foreign government sources which benefit President Trump through his ownership of the Trump Organization and related business entities,” according to a letter sent to Bharara. […]

  106. says

    The Hannity connection to the sudden purges of “Obama holdovers” in the Justice Department was covered by Ryan Koronowski, writing for Think Progress.

    […] On Friday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions “abruptly” asked for the resignations of all 46 remaining U.S. Attorneys at the Justice Department appointed during the Obama administration. Career prosecutors will oversee cases until the Trump administration begins nominating new U.S. Attorneys to take their place.

    While this action is not unprecedented — Sessions himself was asked to resign as U.S. Attorney in 1993 by the Clinton administration — both George W. Bush and Barack Obama gradually eased prosecutors out of their appointments as they sought replacements, to preserve continuity.

    “In January, I met with Vice President Pence and White House Counsel Donald McGahn and asked specifically whether all U.S. attorneys would be fired at once,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement. “Mr. McGahn told me that the transition would be done in an orderly fashion to preserve continuity. Clearly this is not the case. I’m very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement.”

    The Trump administration indicated they would follow suit, but reversed course without warning. In fact, on a Thursday conference call with U.S. Attorneys, Sessions wished them “happy hunting!” with no indication that they would all be asked to resign the next day by midnight.

    […] on Sean Hannity’s Thursday evening show, he warned of “deep-state Obama holdovers embedded like barnacles in the federal bureaucracy” saying they are “hell-bent on destroying President Trump.” Hannity said “it’s time for the Trump administration to purge these saboteurs.”

    The day before, Hannity pushed the theory that the CIA actually hacked Democrats’ emails during the election and framed Russia for it. Hannity has been giving Trump dozens of fawning interviews for years. He’s a big fan of the president, and Trump returns the favor, talking up and reportedly watching his show regularly. […]

  107. says

    So Trump has fired career professionals from the State Department, the Justice Department, and others. Who is he hiring?

    A Trump campaign aide who argues that Democrats committed “ethnic cleansing” in a plot to “liquidate” the white working class. A former reality show contestant whose study of societal collapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-survivalist multi-tool. A pair of health care industry lobbyists. A lobbyist for defense contractors. An “evangelist” and lobbyist for Palantir, the Silicon Valley company with close ties to intelligence agencies. And a New Hampshire Trump supporter who has only recently graduated from high school.

    These are some of the people the Trump administration has hired for positions across the federal government, according to documents received by ProPublica through public-records requests.

    While President Donald Trump has not moved to fill many jobs that require Senate confirmation, he has quietly installed hundreds of officials to serve as his eyes and ears at every major federal agency, from the Pentagon to the Department of Interior.

    Unlike appointees exposed to the scrutiny of the Senate, members of these so-called “beachhead teams” have operated largely in the shadows, with the White House declining to publicly reveal their identities. […]

    Mother Jones link

  108. says

    Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is heaven — for spies.

    President Donald Trump relishes the comforts of his Mar-a-Lago estate for repeated weekends away from Washington, but former Secret Service and intelligence officials say the resort is a security nightmare vulnerable to both casual and professional spies.

    While Trump’s private club in South Florida has been transformed into a fortress of armed guards, military-grade radar, bomb sniffing dogs and metal-detection checkpoints, there are still notable vulnerabilities, namely the stream of guests who can enter the property without a background check.

    And security experts warn that the commander in chief’s frequent visits — four since he took office in January — afford an unprecedented opportunity for eavesdropping and building dossiers on the president’s routines and habits, as well as those of the inner circle around him. They add that with each repeat visit, the security risk escalates. […]

  109. Anton Mates says

    I love the phrase “casual and professional spies.” You don’t even have to work at it to crack the Trump administration’s security. You can be casual about it; just kinda lean over at the next table and put a hand to your ear. It’s almost democratic, except that most of us couldn’t afford to get into Mar-a-Lago in the first place.

  110. says

    Ok, I need a recap, a sort of “Where are we now?” sorta post. There are so many scandals and injustices happening at such a rapid pace that I just can’t keep up with them all.

    I propose PZ create 3 new threads:

    1. #russiagate – Here we aggregate everything relating to Trump and his war with IC and his attempts to strangle the Justice Dept.’s ability to investigate this aspect of his presidency.

    2. #fuckthegop – Here we document how the GOP is enabling the dismantling of our government, our constitution, and our idea of liberal democracy.

    3. #indivisible – here we talk about news related to the fight for a morally and ethically redeemable culture. Protest, stand up, sue, use the law, use your voice, use everything in your power to be heard. Celebrate heroes and expose injustice.

  111. says

    You did. I think the news is that now he’s admitted to it.

    That’s as much a smoking gun as anything in my mind and should definitely predict the end of the trump dynasty

    But then I remember Cheney and his shit eating grin as he and his cronies bit off chunks of the american pie and threw the crumbs on the floor. I’m a little disgusted by this liberal urge to reach out to classic conservatives as if they are somehow better than what we have. GHWB is starting to gain sainthood with liberals.

  112. says

    wow that was a typo, that second paragraph was supposed to go on an entirely different post and discussion. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it shouldn’t… lol?

  113. says

    “Preet Bharara Is Fired After Refusing to Step Down as U.S. Attorney”:

    The call to Preet Bharara’s office from President Trump’s assistant came on Thursday. Would Mr. Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, please call back? He did not.

    The following day, Mr. Bharara was one of 46 United States attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama asked to resign — and to immediately clean out their offices. The request took many in his office by surprise because, in a meeting in November, Mr. Bharara was asked by the then-president-elect to stay on.

    Mr. Bharara refused to resign. On Saturday, he announced on Twitter that he had been fired.

    It was unclear whether the president’s call on Thursday was an effort to explain his change of heart about keeping Mr. Bharara or to discuss another matter. The White House would not comment on Saturday.

    However, there are protocols governing a president’s direct contact with federal prosecutors. According to two people with knowledge of the events who were not authorized to discuss sensitive conversations publicly, Mr. Bharara notified an adviser to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that the president had tried to contact him and that he would not respond because of those protocols….

  114. says

    SC @163, right away Trump knew that Preet Bharara was not the kind of guy who break the rules just for Trump.

    In other news, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price told a blatant lie (or several lies):

    I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we’re going through.

    [Brookings Institute estimating that at least 15 million people will lose coverage under the bill.]

    I’ll tell you that the plan that we’ve laid out here will not leave that number of individuals uncovered. In fact I believe, again, that we’ll have more individuals covered.

    […] It means more people covered than are covered right now, and at an average cost that is less. And I believe we can firmly do that with the plan that we’ve laid out there. […]

  115. says

    Oh, FFS. Congress critter Steve King, a Republican representative from Iowa, is lauding Dutch white nationalist Geert Wilders. King is blatantly promoting white nationalism:

    Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

    So, of course, David Duke (former KKK Imperial Wizard) thinks Steve King is just wonderful:

    Just in case you were thinking about moving, sanity reigns supreme in Iowa’s 4th congressional district. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.

  116. KG says

    Nicola Sturgeon has announced she’s going for a new referendum on Scottish independence. The UK Parliament has to agree for it to be legally binding, but next week she will ask for a vote of the Scottish Parliament, where there’s a small pro-indy majority, to negotiate terms for it with the UK government, who are unlikely to refuse outright, may try to delay it beyond the end of the Brexit process. There’s already been some world-class hypocrisy from Tory spokespersons on both sides of the border, complaining about a new referendum causing uncertaity and being divisive!

  117. says

    Mike Pence went to Kentucky to tell lies on Saturday:

    Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky. It’s failed the people of America, and Obamacare must go. [Kentucky is] a textbook example of Obamacare’s failures.

    WTF? Let’s looks at the facts. As Steve Benen summarized:

    […] Even by 2017 standards, this is bizarre. To the extent that reality still matters, Kentucky is actually a textbook example of the Affordable Care Act succeeding. As regular readers know, under Gov. Steve Beshear’s (D) leadership, the state’s success story has served as a national model, watching its uninsured rate drop from 20.4% to just 7.5%. In terms of state-by-state improvement, the Bluegrass State is tied for first the best turnaround in the nation.

    Pence pointed to increases in premiums, but (a) premium hikes were common before “Obamacare” became law; (b) the vast majority of consumers aren’t seeing sharp spikes; and (c) the Republican plan Pence was in Kentucky to promote will very likely push premiums even higher. […]

    Pence is turning more and more to lies when he tries to promote Trump’s policies. Pence is more articulate that Trump when he tells blatant lies, but otherwise the two seem to be converging toward an all-lies-all-the-time modus operandi.

    Pence lied about when he learned that Flynn was working as a foreign agent for Turkey. Pence lied about job creation claims.

    Pence’s lies should be scrutinized and discussed by Fox News. (I dream big.)

  118. says

    Representative Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said some stupid and inflammatory stuff:

    President Obama himself said he was going to stay in Washington until his daughter graduated. I think we ought to pitch in to let him go someplace else, because he is only there for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to run a shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda. […]

    And people sit back and they say to me, “My gosh, why can’t you guys get this done?” I say, “We’ve got a new CEO, we’ve got some new heads in the different departments, but the same people are there, and they don’t believe that the new owners or the new managers should be running the ship.”

    After spewing that bullshit at a GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, Kelly’s office offered an explanation:

    Reached by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kelly’s office insisted the comments were supposed to be private and that he was merely reflecting Republicans’ frustration with the deep state. “Rep. Kelly delivered his remarks at a private meeting to an audience of fellow Republicans. He was sharing the frustration of everyone in the room over how they believe certain Obama administration holdovers within the federal bureaucracy are attempting to upset President Trump’s agenda.”

    So apparently offering conspiracy theories about former presidents running “shadow governments” is okay if it’s done behind closed doors and in the company of like-minded people.

    The quoted text is from the Washington Post.

    Additional details: Philadelphia Inquirer link

    Later, Kelly’s office gave a different statement of explanation to the Associated Press:

    Representative Kelly does not believe that President Obama is personally operating a shadow government.

  119. says

    Follow-up to comment 173. Steve Bannon is running a shadow government.

    Follow-up to comment 133. In other news, SC commented on the fact that Michael Flynn paid Brian McCauley (a former FBI agent that worked out of the notorious New York office) tens of thousands of dollars while the presidential campaign was in progress. The source of that money should be investigated. My bet is that Flynn did not personally pay McCauley. He was given those funds. Did the funds come from Trump? From Bannon? From campaign coffers? From Russians? From Trump supporters or Super PACs?

    McCauley is a smoking gun because he played a role in hyping the email controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton. And he played a role in disseminating misleading information. He also worked to get the classification of some emails changed so that it would look more like Clinton sent and/or received classified information on her private server.

  120. says

    Debunking Sean Spicer’s lie that the CBO was “way, way off” when it scored Obamacare:

    Aiming to erode public trust in the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office ahead of its report this week expected to show that the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance, Republican lawmakers and Trump administration officials are rewriting the history of the CBO’s analysis of the Affordable Care Act.

    “If the CBO was right about Obamacare to begin with, there’d be 8 million more people on Obamacare today than there actually are,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told ABC on Sunday. “So I love the folks at the CBO, they work really hard, they do, but sometimes we ask them to do stuff they’re not capable of doing.”

    On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price piled on. “CBO has been very adept in not providing appropriate coverage statistics,” he said.

    […] the office’s projections of how many total people would gain coverage under Obamacare and of the average cost of health insurance premiums turned out to be quite close to the eventual reality. The office missed the mark in some areas […] due to unpredictable developments like the Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to refuse to expand Medicaid. […]

    A report by the Commonwealth Fund comparing the CBO’s 2010 predictions to how the ACA played out over the next five years found the agency was “reasonably accurate,” with estimates “closer to realized experience than those of many other prominent forecasters.” […]

    “While the CBO was off on where people would get their coverage, they did pretty well on how many people would gain coverage overall,” [Brookings Institute’s Matthew Fiedler] explained to TPM. “They expected the uninsured rate to fall roughly by half, in the long run, from where it was in 2010. If you look at the actual data we have today, the uninsured rate has fallen by about 43 percent. It’s a fairly modest error, and there’s probably more room to make progress if the law is left in place.” […]

    “CBO was right that employers would not stop offering health insurance in large numbers. The CBO was right, roughly, about the level of insurance premiums today.”

    “Premiums came in below CBO’s forecast, but they’ve since caught up,” he clarified. “CBO estimated what insurers would need to charge in order to cover their costs. But in fact, for the first few years, insurers charged less and suffered losses. Now they are charging closer to what CBO expected.” […]

    The overall cost of the law to the federal government has turned out to be a full third less than originally predicted. The CBO also overestimated enrollment in the exchanges by about 30 percent, and underestimated Medicaid enrollment by about 14 percent, according to the Commonwealth Fund. […]

  121. says

    Trump’s stupid and half-threatening tweet from early this morning:

    It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my very hard working representatives. Be nice, you will do much better!

    Trump may have been referring to interviews in which Kellyanne Conway was questioned on NSNBC’s “The Bergen Record” and on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    Q: Do you know if Trump Tower was wiretapped?

    Kellyanne: What I can say is that there are many ways to surveil each other, unfortunately. There was an article this week—you can surveil someone through their phone, though their television sets, any number of ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, etc.

    Kellyanne (in the ABC interview): No, of course I don’t have any evidence for those allegations.

    I included more of a transcript than was presented in the Twitter feed so that you would get a better idea of how true it is that Kellyanne Conway should be put back in her box.

    Kellyanne’s explanation is that she was speaking generally, and she doesn’t know why people take her answers to mean that she was answering specifically. She was asked a specific question, and she wants us to understand, I guess, that she was not answering that question. [eyeroll]

  122. says

    Here’s the claim Trump made about his salary as president:

    I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year. But it’s a — I don’t even know what it is.”

    [Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes”: “[That’s] $400,000 you’re giving up.”]

    No, I’m not gonna take the salary. I’m not taking it.

    That’s just one example out of many.

    From CNBC:

    MSNBC requested details and documentation about any salary donations from the White House, the Treasury Department and the Office of Personnel Management, which all declined to say whether Trump has donated any of his salary to date. (OPM referred questions to the White House.)

    Last month, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the website Politifact that Trump “will be giving” his salary “back to Treasury or donating.” The site noted the White House “declined to answer several inquiries into whether Trump has gotten a paycheck already.” […]

    During the transition, Trump also unveiled a plan to “donate all profits from foreign governments’ patronage of his hotels and similar businesses” to the Treasury Department. The plan was released by Trump’s private law firm, Morgan Lewis, but no system or accounting has been released for how or when such donations will be processed or disclosed. […]

    Trump promises to make donations. He does not make those donations. That’s his modus operandi.

    From David Fahrenthold:

    @NBCNews also can’t get answers about when/if @realDonaldTrump is actually donating his salary, as promised. Glad it’s not just me!

    Fahrenthold said that he cannot find any evidence that the Trump Organization is donating hotel profits it receives from foreign governments to … well, anyone. However, Fahrenthold is still looking. He sent requests for information to the Trump Organization.

  123. says

    Sean Spicer is in the middle of giving his daily press briefing. He said that Trump will be signing an executive order to “reorganize the federal government.”

    Right. I’m sure that will go well.

  124. says


    Ok, I need a recap, a sort of “Where are we now?” sorta post. There are so many scandals and injustices happening at such a rapid pace that I just can’t keep up with them all.

    I don’t agree with the idea of breaking things up into separate threads, but I compiled (from this thread) a summary of the past couple of weeks of scandals, injustice, and resistance in the US (and it only took me…several hours):

    Court decisions concerning Virginia and Texas have challenged Republican gerrymandering efforts for racial bias.

    After Sessions withdrew DOJ support, the Supreme Court sent Gavin Grimm’s case back to the lower court, vacating the lower court’s decision in Grimm’s favor.

    Attacks on and threats to Jewish organizations and institutions continued, as did other hate crimes.

    The climate news has been terrible. Meanwhile, Trump and his minions continue to cut regulations and destroy environmental/monitoring agencies from within. The head of the EPA publicly suggested that CO2 doesn’t contribute to global warming, and the EPA deleted the word “science” from its Science Mission Statement.

    Questions continue to be raised about the disastrous Yemen raid the motives for it. Reporting in the Intercept described the slaughter of civilians in the raid, while the Trump regime hinted at changes that would weaken or eliminate further the (already insufficient) protections for civilians during US military operations at the same time these operations appear to be expanding.

    The terrorizing of immigrants through raids, threats, detentions, and deportations continued apace. ICE continued to operate largely in secret, with little accountability. It was reported that Trump wanted to expand the organization by hiring 10,000 more people, tripling its current staff levels.

    There were reports of Trump’s would-be regime contemplating huge increases in immigrant detention – which would probably be done by for-profit companies – and separating undocumented mothers and children crossing the border.

    The Trumpublican regulatory rollback – including efforts to make it harder for workers and others to fight back against corporations or hold them accountable – accelerated. Trump put out an official statement that was a slightly altered version of an ExxonMobil press release. Called on it, they were happy to let it stand.

    On the resistance front: More packed, energetic Republican town halls. More resistance to ICE detentions and deportations. The Day Without a Woman and International Women’s Strike renewed attention to women’s resistance. On March 11th, people organized 2300 watch parties/meetings for the inauguration of the ACLU’s People Power initiative. 200,000 people across every state attended the events. Other governments held a conference dedicated to working to set aside funds to compensate for those withheld by the US’ global gag rule. Planned pro-Trump rallies were sparsely attended and sad.

    On March 1st, the NYT published a story about how “in the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government.”

    The same night, WaPo published another blockbuster: “Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.”

    In response to the WaPo article, some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and many others called out Sessions for having lied during his confirmation hearings both in person and in writing when he denied communications with the Russians. His letter “updating” his testimony (note: he had several weeks to update his testimony prior to this) was inadequate and, in Al Franken’s words, “insulting,” and Franken and others have called for him to return before the committee in person to explain his actions. While a number of people called on him to resign, Sessions recused himself from campaign-related investigations. His press conference announcing his recusal only raised more questions, and reporters found that no other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee met with Kislyak in 2016. In response to Sessions’ recusal, Trump issued a ridiculous statement and tried to use silly photos to insinuate improper connections between Democrats and Putin.

    In the wake of the Sessions revelations, several others in Trump’s camp either came forward or were named by others as having communicated with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign, including Carter Page and JD Gordon, who admitted what was previously denied (even though everyone knew it was true) – that they worked to block the proposal to add the supply of weapons of lethal force to Ukraine for defense against Russian incursions to the Republican Platform. Gordon claimed that they were acting on Trump’s wishes as expressed in a meeting – also attended by Jeff Sessions – at Trump’s unfinished DC hotel in March 2016. The campaign’s previous denials were shown to be replete with falsehoods and evasions.

    More questions arose about Kislyak’s attendance at Trump’s (very Russia-friendly) foreign-policy speech on April 27, 2016 following reports that Trump personally – despite previous denials – met briefly with Kislyak at a reception prior to the speech. (Kislyak was also seated in the front row for the speech, which was attended by Jeff Sessions.) There was some renewed attention to Trump’s wildly changing story about his relationship with Putin and Russia.

    People called more attention to the Russian connections of others in Trump’s circle, including Wilbur Ross; Dana Rohrabacher; David Clarke; Donald Jr.; Paul Manafort; Jared Kushner (who, along with Flynn, met with Kislyak in December when he was snuck into Trump Tower); Michael Cohen; and the NRA.

    More questions emerged as more evidence (re)appeared surrounding Trump’s financial links to Russian people and organizations, including organized crime, that are connected to Putin. Sherrod Brown called for an investigation “to examine whether the President or his family is exposed to terrorist financing, sanctions, money laundering, and other imprudent associations through their business holdings and connections” around the world. Rep. Jerry Nadler promised more Resolutions of Inquiry concerning Trump’s finances, taxes, and Russian connections.

    Photos spread of Kislyak at Trump’s recent speech to Congress.

    Members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees indicated that they would like to have Christopher Steele testify. Meanwhile, Steele suddenly emerged from hiding and returned to work. The Independent reported that Steele had regularly been giving the FBI information in 2016, but that

    Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him.

    He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. The MI6 officer’s passing of information to the FBI ceased in December last year.

    The heads of the House Intelligence Committee said that the FBI/Comey is not giving them full information regarding the investigation into Russia and possible collusion. Republican chair Devin Nunes continued to show his lack of impartiality and his strong bias towards Trump.

    The Smoking Gun reported that Trump chum and dirty-tricks operative Roger Stone was in contact during the campaign with the Russian front Guccifer 2.0, responsible for hacking Democratic organizations during the campaign. Stone later admitted to the contact. He told the NYT that he’d provided TSG with the messages when in fact he’d told them he didn’t recall the communications.

    Michael Flynn, the circumstances of whose resignation as NSA are still suspicious and murky and about which the would-be regime clearly lied, registered retroactively with the DOJ (probably under pressure) as a foreign agent for the Turkish regime. Trump’s and Pence’s claims that they didn’t know about this work were completely implausible given: the numerous news accounts about it in November, some if not all of which had requested comment from the Trump transition; a November letter from Elijah Cummings directly to Mike Pence spelling it out in detail and alerting him to the clear conflict of interest; Flynn’s lawyers contacting Don McGahn and the transition team, headed by Pence, twice to inform them of the issue. There was renewed attention to Flynn’s election-day piece in The Hill celebrating the Turkish regime and railing against its opponents.

    It also emerged that as part of his super-shady and mysterious efforts on behalf of Turkey, Flynn had hired several former law-enforcement and intelligence people. Among them was a Brian McCauley (formerly of the New York office, naturally), who in October, while he was being paid by Flynn, alleged an attempted quid pro quo deal with the State Department concerning the classification of some of Clinton’s emails, which he claimed he rejected when he heard the emails in question related to Benghazi. I believe he told this tale under oath, without revealing to anyone as far as I know the secret payments from Flynn. Flynn then promoted the scandalous story on Twitter.

    More evidence emerged of continuing Russian hacking of liberal and leftwing organizations, though it’s unclear whether this is directed by the government or just criminals (to whatever extent that distinction applies). Bloomberg noted that:

    The day after the election, the FSB, Russia’s main intelligence agency, targeted the personal emails of hundreds of people, including national security experts, military officers and former White House officials, according to data provided by cyber security researchers who are tracking the spying and who asked not to be identified because of the risks of retaliation. The list was weighted toward people who have worked in Democratic administrations or who are linked with liberal causes.

    There was a breach of voter data in GA ahead of the upcoming special election in the 6th district. The FBI is investigating.

    Kremlin-supported media appeared to have cut most of their pro-Trump coverage, but remained active in promoting the rightwing conspiracies endorsed by Trump and his lackeys.

    Trump awoke on March 4th and compulsively fired off a series of tweets alleging the Obama was a bad/sick guy who wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, providing no evidence for this allegation which had earlier appeared at Breitbart. This was denied by a spokesman for Obama, Clapper publicly, and Comey behind the scenes, Faced with the incredulous response, Trump asked congress to investigate his claim, which they agreed to do. As I write this, the deadline for evidence to be produced for the libelous claim is today. John McCain has called on him to produce evidence or retract it.

    The outrageous tweets about Obama and other actions in the past two weeks proved too much, at least for now, for “Intermittent Lackey” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who publicly criticized him. Trump unfollowed the pair on Twitter over the weekend.

    The claim could have been based on an absurdly exaggerated and spun version of a story about an FBI investigation into “odd” communications between two Russian banks and the Trump Organization. Reports this week suggested that this investigation is ongoing. Other investigations related to Kremlin-linked Russians and Trump associates also appear to be ongoing (if they’re not, they damn well should be). After Spicer said during a press briefing that Trump wasn’t under investigation, the DOJ said they weren’t the source of that claim and refused to back it.

    The corrupt practices of the Trump family continued and expanded. Meanwhile, the OGE wrote to the White House after they refused to take serious action in response to Conway’s explicit promotion of Ivanka Trump’s business, challenging the regime’s claims to be above the law. A DC business filed suit against Trump’s Emoluments International Hotel claiming unfair competition. The family is spending tens of millions in public funds on travel and security, while continuing to promote their businesses and “brand” while the Trumpistas push for cuts to basic government services and aid, environmental protection, regulation and accountability, and the arts.

    WikiLeaks dropped what they said was the first tranche of stolen CIA documents related to their spying methods. This was exploited by the rightwing fever swamp and Trump minions to suggest, astoundingly and nonsensically, that the CIA hacked the Democrats and framed the Kremlin and might have used these techniques to spy on Trump under Obama’s direction. The same day the documents were released Trump advisor/friend, Brexit cheerleader, and new Fox commentator Nigel Farage met with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Confronted by BuzzFeed reporters as he left the building, Farage claimed he couldn’t remember what he’d been doing there.

    The House Intelligence Committee scheduled its first public hearing on Russian interference for March 20th, and released the names of witnesses called to testify.

    The Trump regime suggested cuts to the Coast Guard, TSA, and FEMA to fund a border wall.

    Trump saw something on Fox and then lied on Twitter about people released from Guantánamo by Obama. Called out on the falsehood during press briefings, Spicer claimed that it was “obvious” that Trump meant something completely other than what he tweeted.

    Trump celebrated the February jobs report (235,000 jobs added, which continued a longstanding trend and was comparable to February Obama numbers: 238,000 in Feb 2016, 237,000 in Feb 2016). When reporters pointed out that Trump had claimed throughout the campaign that the jobs numbers were fake, Spicer responded that Trump had told him to say “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now,” which he considered a good joke.

    More investigative reports and academic studies were published showing the distortions and insularity of the rightwing media in the US, the size of the Russian military-political operation, and the techniques used by the Kremlin to interfere with elections in a number of countries. The latter included the targeting of Bernie Sanders supporters for a barrage of negative and distorted stories about Hillary Clinton.

    The Trump would-be regime continued to be obsessed with leaks. News of its ham-handed, authoritarian efforts to stop leaks was quickly leaked to the media, to great amusement.

    Republican-dominated state legislatures continued to propose and pass vicious, partisan, anti-democratic, anti-human rights bills.

    The State Department: There was a purge of officials, including career diplomats, while many key positions remain unfilled. It’s been reported that Trump wants to cut State’s budget by 37% to fund increased military spending, despite warnings from top military people that national security requires diplomacy, and to make drastic cuts to foreign aid. Tillerson didn’t present the State Department’s human rights report. The longtime practice of daily press briefings came to an abrupt halt after the inauguration, and they aren’t set to resume. The first official briefing (with Obama State spokesman Mark Toner, of all people) wasn’t until March 7th. Tillerson continued to avoid public statements to the press, and when reporters attempted to ask questions during photo ops they were summarily removed. In a very unusual move, it was decided that the press wouldn’t accompany Tillerson on his trip to Asia; various bogus rationalizations were provided. There’s a widespread belief that Bannon and Trump want to gut the State Department.

    It was revealed that Mike Pence used a private AOL account as governor of Indiana and that it was hacked.

    After a petition opposing a state visit, large protests in London, and outspoken rejection in Parliament, Trump moved most of his British visit to Scotland, presumably to locations where protesting is more difficult.

    Amidst a frenzy of “deep state” and “shadow government” claims and appeals to “purge” the government of “saboteurs,” Trump and Bannon quietly attempted to fill the government with far-Right kooks and ideologues, unqualified campaign staffers, and others presumed to be unquestioning Trump loyalists, as well as lobbyists and other corporate tools.

    Over the past weekend, Sessions informed 46 US attorneys appointed by Obama that they were immediately relieved of their duties. This was unusual for its abruptness and for the fact that replacements weren’t lined up, which interferes with the work of these offices. Among those asked to resign was Preet Bharara, attorney for the SDNY, who Trump had previously told he would be staying on (as did Sessions recently, according to reports). Bharara refused to resign, forcing them to fire him. Afterwards, he tweeted “By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.”

    Trump released Muslim ban 2.0, which contained some changes reflecting the legal victories over the first attempt but remained largely unchanged in many respects and continues to have the same underlying intent. Several states’ attorneys general are already challenging it before it could come into effect this week.

    Rachel Maddow was leaked a DHS document which, like the previous shorter report leaked to the AP, undercut the claimed national-security rationale for the Muslim ban.

    The Republicans kept their repeal-and-replace bill secret and hidden in a basement room for several days, including from some Republican legislators.

    The Republicans released their repeal-and-replace bill, which would throw 10-20 million people off their health care and raise prices while transferring hundreds of billions to rich people. The cuts will hurt millions of Trump supporters, especially older and rural voters, as well as children, women, people with disabilities, people with psychological problems, people who are addicted to drugs, people with Black Lung disease,… (There would also be funding cuts at the CDC, at a time when the risk of a global pandemic grows and is exacerbated by other Trumpublican policies.) These effects are in direct contradiction to the promises of expanded coverage at lower prices and the protection of Medicaid and Medicare that Trump ran on. The Trumpublican bill is opposed by the organizations of doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical schools, and the AARP, who care about health, and on the other side by the Kochs and others on the far Right who care about rich people. Rushing the bill through committees with virtually no opportunity for public comment, debates, or amendments, Republicans spent the week and weekend lying about what it would do and pre-emptively seeking to discredit the CBO before its score appears (possibly today), all the while revealing their ignorance and their profound contempt for the millions of people who would be harmed or killed by this policy. Trump, who knows and understands little if anything about health policy, avoided the press.

    Trump supporter Steve King continued to openly espouse white supremacist views.

  125. says

    “No, The CBO Was Not ‘Way, Way Off’ On Scoring Obamacare”

    Best part: The CBO prediction for the number of people who would be covered under the ACA was based on the Medicaid expansion provision. The Right fought this provision to the Supreme Court, which ruled that taking the Medicaid expansion was optional for states; then several states controlled by Republicans refused the Medicaid expansion so poor people in these states didn’t get that coverage. Now the Republicans argue that the CBO lacks credibility because its coverage estimates were too high.

  126. says

    SC @179, that was a tour de force! Thanks for that recap.

    So much malfeasance would be funny (black comedy) in a TV serial, but since it is our reality, it is horrifying.

    Steve King’s recent racist comments were mentioned. I’ll add one from King’s past in order to back up my claim that he’s always been a white nationalist (comment 165), and an ignorant one at that (comment 87). This is from September 2016:

    @FraukePetry Wishing you successful vote. Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end. @geertwilderspvv

    Frauke Petry is the rightist, nationalist leader of Germany’s Alternative for Germany party. You already know who Geert Wilder is.

  127. says

    An excerpt from Sean Spicer’s daily briefing:

    “Every time that he [Trump] speaks authoritatively, he speaks – he’s speaking as President of the United States,” Spicer said of Trump’s credibility.

    “More than 3 million Americans voted illegally. Was he joking or does he still believe that?” NBC’s Peter Alexander asked.

    “Yes, and he still believes that. He does believe it,” Spicer replied.

    In the press briefing, Spicer continued to back up Trump’s claim of having been “wiretapped” by pointing to media reports. He did not provide any evidence.

    Spicer criticized the press’ coverage of Obamacare as “puppies and rainbows.” He continued to repeat the misleading information/lie that only 10 million people are covered by Obamacare. (Still sounds like a big number to me.) See comment 175 for a debunking of Spicer’s lies.

  128. says

    White nationalists are praising Steve King.

    From the Daily Stormer:

    Steve King is basically an open white nationalist at this point. […]

    He is saying the country is white, it is our country and we shouldn’t be raising other people’s kids.

    King famously declared the supremacy of the white race at the RNC in an MSNBC interview. It was awesome.[…]

    When asked to apologize, he doubled down. […]

    He is /ourguy/. […]

    It’s time for KING STEVE to take his place below the throne of the GOD EMPEROR [President Donald Trump].

    […] [The Daily Stormer, 3/13/17]

    From Infostormer:

    Congressman Steve King is openly endorsing White nationalism for America. In a tweet referencing Geert Wilders, King states the obvious fact that we can’t restore our civilization with babies from foreign countries.[…]

    He’s 100 percent right. Race, demographics and culture are all linked. Western civilization will be destroyed if these third world populations are allowed to continue migrating into our lands.

    People are already crying about his tweet.

    The closet faggot Evan McMullin called King’s statement un-American. […]

    Whites built America Evan so there is nothing un-American about what King said. What’s un-American is unlimited immigration, multiculturalism and this Jewish agenda that has destroyed the original intent of what America was supposed to be. [Infostormer, 3/12/17]

  129. says

    Former Attorney General Eric Holder, the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, has teamed up with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to raise funds needed to redraw districting maps.

    “The American people deserve confidence in their democracy,” Pelosi said, calling the NDRC an “important effort to undo Republican gerrymandering and build a fairer map for the decade to come.”

    President Obama is staying in the background for now, but he is expected to participate in fundraising in the future. (No events featuring Obama have been scheduled so far.)

    Politico link

  130. says

    The CBO score for Trumpcare has arrived.

    Link to Congressional Budget Office PDF

    […] CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. […]

    CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. […]

    Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026.

    […] In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with
    28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. […]

    The legislation would tend to increase average premiums in the nongroup market prior to 2020 and lower average premiums thereafter, relative to projections under current law.

    In 2018 and 2019, according to CBO and JCT’s estimates, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher than under current law […]

    […] By 2026, average premiums for single policyholders in the nongroup market under the legislation would be roughly 10 percent lower than under current law, CBO and JCT estimate.

    Although average premiums would increase prior to 2020 and decrease starting in 2020, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in premiums relative to those under current law would differ significantly for people of different ages because of a change in age-rating rules.

    Under the legislation, insurers would be allowed to generally charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones rather than three times more as under current law, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people. […]

  131. says

    Trump seems to making sure that cutting federal funds to so-called “sanctuary cities” will hurt poor people the most.

    […] New York City’s public housing authority received a letter from the Trump administration last week informing it that its federal funding will be cut by millions this year, the largest decrease in five years.

    It’s the first wave of potential funding cuts to hit New York City, which has declared itself a sanctuary city. President Trump has already signed an executive order saying that he will strip such cities, which have said they will refuse to have their police enforce deportation and immigration orders, of federal funding.

    And the cuts are about to take a huge toll on low-income city residents.

    The letter from the federal government said that aid to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) would be cut by 5 percent. Three streams will be reduced: money to operate public housing, money to operate the Section 8 rental voucher program, and money that actually funds those vouchers. The reductions will leave the agency with a $35 million shortfall.

    To deal with the cuts, NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye said on Monday that service will have to be reduced, particularly in maintenance and repairs for public housing, and the agency will have to consider reducing how many families get rental vouchers and how much rent each voucher will cover. […]

    Think Progress link

  132. says

    No, Microwave Ovens Cannot Spy on You—for Lots of Reasons says Lily Hay Newman of WIRED magazine.

    […] [Kellyanne] Conway isn’t even the only one who associates microwave ovens with government spying. “Is the CIA listening to me through my microwave oven, and through my TV, and through my cell phone,” asked late-night host Stephen Colbert of former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden last week. (The answer was “no,” at least if you’re an American citizen.)

    Still, it must be said: Microwave ovens are not an effective spy tool.

    First, let’s take Conway’s assertion literally. Microwaves (the waves) can be used for certain types of imaging, as in radar, but a microwave oven can’t be used as a camera unless it literally has an outward-facing webcam onboard. No such microwave appears to exist. That’s in contrast to the case of the spying Samsung TVs, referenced by Conway, that each come with a built-in, internet-connected microphone.

    But what if we were to take Conway not literally, but seriously? Asked whether a microwave could be turned into not a camera, specifically, but a listening device, Stephen Frasier, a microwave imaging and radar researcher at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, let out several seconds of sustained laughter. […]

    See comment 176.

  133. says

    Kellyanne Conway added “I’m not in the job of having evidence” to her list of all time hits like, “alternative facts” and “the Bowling Green Massacre.”

    Her self-styled job description of “not having evidence” may be accurate, but is not a good excuse for having no facts to back up Trump’s claim that President Obama wire tapped him. The Washington Post put it this way:

    You are in the business of having evidence, Ms. Conway. You are a representative of the president of the United States, and your business is presenting accurate information to the American people on his behalf. Providing accurate information is predicated on having evidence – public or private! – to bolster the arguments you’re making.

  134. says

    Follow-up to comment 192.

    From Brian Beutler:

    AHCA reduces deficits by $336 billion, despite huge regressive tax cuts, because it offers people $1.2 trillion less help affording care.

  135. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Obamacare raised money and made various structural changes to insurance provision that lead to millions of people getting health insurance who didn’t have it before. Let’s be clear: who didn’t have it before and in most cases couldn’t get it before. There were some losers in the process. But this is greatly overstated. There were people who were purchasing extremely skimpy coverage who were forced to buy fuller coverage. There were also people high on the income scale who had their taxes raised. But by and large, the idea that people were hurt by Obamacare is mainly bogus.

    What Obamacare did do was add millions of people to the health care rolls.

    Getting rid of it leads to millions losing their care. […]

    People who have a hard time buying care have their subsidies slashed. Many of those people will go back to not having coverage at all. Meanwhile, in addition to the repeal of taxes on people with high incomes, the new plan actually gives subsidies to millions of people who are fairly well off and can afford insurance already. As many have said, Trumpcare is a tax cut disguised as an Obamacare replacement.

    It’s a joke.

    On top of that, in addition to the roll back of Medicaid expansion, Trumpcare also fundamentally changes and damages Medicaid itself and paves the way for phasing out Medicare. So the plan actually does more than simply take us back to the 2009 status quo ante.

    The plan does generate $337 billion in savings. But that’s not annual. It’s over the decade from 2017 to 2026. In other words, the plan saves a bit more than $30 billion a year for pushing 24 million off the health care insurance rolls. […]

    What Donald Trump said on February 17, 2016:

    The new plan is good. It’s going to be inexpensive. It’s going to be much better for the people at the bottom, people that don’t have any money. We’re going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare. Now, some people would say, “that’s not a very Republican thing to say.” That’s not single payer, by the way. That’s called heart. We gotta take care of people that can’t take care of themselves.

  136. says

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

    The bill spends almost twice as much on tax cuts for the wealthy compared to tax credits to help older middle-class Americans afford health insurance. The rich get $592 billion in tax cuts for the richest, compared to only $361 billion for the middle class and the working class to afford health care.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said:

    […] But think of yourself as a Trump voter in West Virginia or someplace, or Kentucky, which has really done a good job with the Affordable Care Act, too, thinking “I’m going to lose my coverage and they’re going to give $7 million to each of the richest families in America every year instead of giving me health care”.

  137. says

    SC @198, Trump may have created political stars when he fired Preet Bharara and Sally Yates.

    In other news, the American Medical Association has responded to the new CBO report.

    If this bill were to become law, CBO projects 14 million Americans who have gained coverage in recent years could lose it in 2018. For the AMA, that outcome is unacceptable. […]

    The expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations [is unacceptable] […]

    Unfortunately, the current proposal – as the CBO analysis shows – would result in the most vulnerable population losing their coverage […]

    The above text is excerpted from a Talking Points Memo article.

  138. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, just saw former congresscritter from IL, Joe Walsh, on “Hardball”. Poor bigoted asshole, he was defeated for re-election by Tammy Duckworth (now our Jr. Senator), and he was trying to defend Rep. King (IA). He came off as a KKK member.

  139. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes of MSNBC will be with Bernie Sanders at a Town Hall Meeting in WV at 8pm edt on MSNBC. (Sanders in Trump Country). Should be interesting.

  140. says

    In my summary @ #179 I referred to “the targeting of Bernie Sanders supporters for a barrage of negative and distorted stories about Hillary Clinton.” I don’t think the story I was referring to has been posted here. It was this one – “Major Bernie Sanders backers suspect Russians flooded their social sites with anti-Hillary memes”:

    Professional presidential campaign staff for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) confirmed to the Huffington Post that Russian trolls were responsible for pushing out anti-Hillary Clinton memes and social media content.

    The shocking series of interviews revealed large Facebook groups supporting Sanders were inundated with content from people with no ties to the regions in which the pages were located. Former reporter John Mattes explained that his San Diego page became overwhelmed with anti-Clinton memes with messages he’d never heard coming out of the Sanders campaign. Instead, they were memes alleging Clinton used body doubles and murdered political opponents.

    He initially suspected the posts were coming from anti-Clinton sites run by 1990s Clinton opponents, but he quickly found out that domain names were registered in Macedonia and Albania…. By the end of October he traced at least 40 percent of the domain registrations of the fake news sites on pro-Sanders pages back to Eastern Europe. Some others were based in Panama and the U.S. or untraceable.

    He wasn’t the only one that saw it either. Sanders supporters saw the strange connection well before the DNC hack was revealed in June 2016.

    One woman even drafted a memo to Sanders supporters to warn them against fake news sites so they wouldn’t traffic in misinformation and fake news.

    One Tennessee man noticed all of the anti-Clinton content came from the same accounts and all of those sites he traced went back to Veles, Macedonia. Matthew Smollon said that he never found a single pro-Clinton link from any of the accounts. Huffington Post noted that Wired dubbed the country as the “Fake News Factory of the World” in a Feb. 2017 expose.

    Smollon said that he tried to convince other Sanders supporters they were being played but none of them cared. “At that point, you were a Hillary shill. It was like an echo chamber of anger,” he said…

    “It’s the closest I’ve been to being gaslit in my life,” he said. He resorted to writing a Medium post with the headline “Dear Bernie Supporters: Stop sharing posts from dumpster fire websites.” He called on Sanders fans to stop “circle-jerking clickbait links in between wondering how Hillary Clinton is behind the FEMA Earthquake drill that happens on several days with one of them being primary day?”

    He was removed from another Facebook group, “Bernie Believers” as a result of the piece.

    “This is a pretty solid case for admins/mods being part of the spam,” Smollon wrote….

  141. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Re the CBO report on Ryancare, sure, 24 million people would lose coverage, but Paul Ryan has his priorities:

    House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), meanwhile, said in a Fox News interview that the report exceeded his expectations, and he jumped on its prediction of a smaller deficit to try to assuage the chamber’s most conservative members, many of whom oppose the idea of new tax credits to help some Americans buy coverage on their own.

    Declaring that the plans would usher in the most fundamental entitlement reform in a generation, Ryan said the legislation is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford. When people have more choices, costs go down. That’s what this report shows.

    (Emphasis added.)

    As an added benefit, all the extra deaths that are sure to result will mean reductions in Social Security payouts. Such is life under the yoke of the pro-life party.

  142. militantagnostic says

    On my drive home today I heard this interesting comparison of outcomes.

    Canadians with Cystic Fibrosis live 10 years linger than their American counterparts

    The differences were attributed to 3 factors:
    Number of Lung Transplants
    Universal Health Insurance
    A high fat diet was adopted earlier in Canada

    I think the greater number of lung transplants in Canada my be due in part to the Canadian single payer health insurance system. This leads me to wonder if transplantable organs ever get wasted in the US due to potential recipients inability to pay.

  143. militantagnostic says

    Paul Ryan from What a Maroon @207

    When people have more choices, costs go down. That’s what this report shows.

    When you never change the oil and oil filter operating costs for your car go down.

  144. says

    “‘I won’t defend Trump — not now, not in the future’: Paul Ryan caught on tape trashing Trump before election”:

    Conservative website Breitbart continued their war on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Monday night, releasing audio taken just prior to the election saying he had no interest in sticking up for Donald Trump. has long been known for attacking Ryan on orders from chairman Steve Bannon, with the current senior adviser to Trump once telling his staffers “Paul Ryan is the enemy.”

    Monday evening, as Ryan was fending off a CBO report stating his health care plan would leave an additional 14 million Americans without health insurance in 2018, the website chose to create friction between the House Speaker and President Trump.

    In the audio taken during a private October conference call with House Republican members, Ryan has few kind words for then-GOP presidential nominee Trump.

    “I am not going to defend Donald Trump not now, not in the future,” Ryan can be heard saying….

  145. says

    “Kushners Set to Get $400 Million From Chinese Firm on Tower”:

    A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Ave.

    The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.

    The details of the agreement, which is being circulated to attract additional investors, were shared with Bloomberg. It would make business partners of Kushner Cos. and Anbang, whose murky links to the Chinese power structure have raised national security concerns over its U.S. investments. In the process, an existing mortgage owed by the Kushners will be slashed to about a fifth of its current amount.

    The document offers a rare look at a major deal by a close Trump associate and family member. It’s unclear whether the deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.

    “At the very least, this raises serious questions about the appearance of a conflict that arises from the possibility that the Kushners are getting a sweetheart deal,” said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “A classic way you influence people is by financially helping their family.”

    The transaction would allow the Kushner Cos.’ investment in the tower to be salvaged by lenders and businesses that could have extensive dealings with the federal government, while also permitting the Kushners to buy back into the building’s more lucrative retail spaces and maintain a 20 percent stake.

    The deal would allow Vornado Realty Trust — which is partnered with Trump in his two most valuable properties — to exit a troubled asset with a 10-fold payout on its stake in the building’s offices and a doubling of its investment in its stores. It declined to discuss the deal.

    Anbang would pay a hefty price for both sections of the 666 Fifth Ave. project but score its first U.S. real estate investment of the year. The company’s ties to the Chinese government are sufficiently unclear that former President Barack Obama declined to stay at the Waldorf after Anbang bought it because of fears of espionage. Now Anbang will be business partners with in-laws of the First Family….

    This comes on the heels of news about China granting Trump 38 trademarks, all ahead of Xi Jinping’s visit to…Mar a Lago.

  146. says

    “Federal Inquiry of Fox News Moves to a Grand Jury, but Without Preet Bharara”:

    The political drama around the federal courthouse in Manhattan did not end with the sudden, unexplained turnabout of President Trump in firing Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

    While that prominent post always gets attention, one candidate frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Mr. Bharara could sharpen the scrutiny to new levels: Marc L. Mukasey, a former prosecutor who now works in white-collar criminal defense.

    As it happens, Mr. Mukasey has represented Roger E. Ailes, the former chairman of Fox News, who has long had a mogul-to-mogul relationship with Mr. Trump.

    Whomever Mr. Trump nominates to replace Mr. Bharara will inherit an investigation of Fox News.

    A federal grand jury sitting in Manhattan is expected to soon hear testimony from at least two witnesses to testify in coming days about business practices at Fox News when it was led by Mr. Ailes, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Ailes, who was forced out in July amid revelations of multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has denied those charges.

    The current inquiry, which began in September and appears to be in an early stage, may be focused, at least in part, on settlement payments, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

    One of those subpoenaed, according to the two people, is Mark Kranz, the former chief financial officer for Fox News who oversaw the network’s finances when it paid millions of dollars in settlements….

    Mr. Mukasey’s firm has handled real estate development matters for the family of Jared Kushner, who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Among his partners is Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and vigorous advocate for Mr. Trump during the campaign….

  147. says

    A week ago, I wondered aloud about the status of the MA/NY case against ExxonMobil for hiding climate data. There’s a new development:

    “Tillerson Used ‘Alias’ Email for Climate Messages, N.Y. Says”:

    New York says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was Exxon Mobil Corp.’s chief executive: Wayne Tracker.

    Tillerson sent messages from the account to discuss the risks posed by climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said.

    Schneiderman made the claim in a letter Monday to Justice Barry Ostrager in New York state court in Manhattan, accusing Exxon of failing to turn over all relevant documents required by a court order. The filing comes in a protracted legal dispute in which Exxon seeks to derail probes by New York and Massachusetts into whether the company misled investors for years about the possible impact of climate change on its business.

    The investigations are also the subject of a dispute in Washington, where House Republicans are seeking to derail the state probes on the grounds that they seek to silence scientists who disagree with the widely accepted theory that climate change is caused by humans. New York and Massachusetts earlier this month said they’d refuse to comply with subpoenas by the House Committee on Science Space and Technology, setting the stage for a possible legal showdown over state and federal investigatory powers….

  148. says

    “White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO”:

    A White House analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by POLITICO on Monday.

    The executive branch analysis forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimates. The White House has made efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO.

    White House officials late Monday night disputed that the document is an analysis of the bill’s coverage effects. Instead, they say it was an attempt by the Office of Management and Budget to predict what CBO’s scorekeepers would conclude about the GOP repeal plan….

  149. says

    “Yes, the media do underreport some terrorist attacks. Just not the ones most people think of.”:

    …In a recent study, we found that the news media do not cover all terrorist attacks the same way. Rather, they give drastically more coverage to attacks by Muslims, particularly foreign-born Muslims — even though those are far less common than other kinds of terrorist attacks.

    In total, there were 89 attacks committed by different perpetrators in the United States during the five-year period we examined. Between 2011 and 2015 in the United States, Muslims perpetrated 12.4 percent of those attacks.

    We then searched for media coverage of each attack from U.S.-based print sources in LexisNexis Academic. Since many Americans get their news online, we supplemented the print media with coverage from Each article we counted had focused primarily on the act of terrorism, its perpetrators or the victims, and it had to appear in a U.S.-based media source between the attack date and the end of 2016. We found 2,413 news articles that met our criteria.

    Of the 89 attacks, 24 did not receive any media coverage from the sources we examined. The small proportion of attacks that were by Muslims — remember, only 12 percent — received 44 percent of the news coverage. In only 5 percent of all the terrorist attacks, the perpetrator was both Muslim and foreign-born — but those four attacks got 32 percent of all the media coverage.

    In real numbers, the average attack with a Muslim perpetrator is covered in 90.8 articles. Attacks with a Muslim, foreign-born perpetrator are covered in 192.8 articles on average. Compare this with other attacks, which received an average of 18.1 articles.

    Certainly, how much media coverage a particular terrorist attack gets is influenced by a host of factors….

    But even controlling for all this, attacks by a Muslim perpetrator get, on average, about 4½ times more coverage. In other words, whether intentional or not, U.S. media outlets disproportionately emphasize the smaller number of terrorist attacks by Muslims — leading Americans to have an exaggerated sense of that threat….

  150. says

    Great interview – Joy Reid talks to Aodhán Ó Ríordáin about the Irish Stand rally, which will be at the Riverside Church in New York on St. Patrick’s Day, this Friday the 17th, at 7:30 PM.

    You can get tickets at All proceeds benefit the NYCLU (New York chapter of the ACLU).

    “I think our responsibility as Irish people is to to grab St. Patrick’s Day back from that white nationalist viewpoint, and to present it as a celebration of immigration. And if you’re an Irish-American who is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, or any sort of American who is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, you have to realize it’s a celebration of an immigrant people here. And what the Irish went through here in America is exactly what, as you say, Mexicans, or Puerto Ricans, or whoever else is going through now. It’s the same fight. It’s the same story.”

  151. says

    Democrats are considering recruiting the dozens of U.S. Attorneys that Trump fired to run for elected offices in 2018. Sounds like a good idea to me.

    In other news, as was pointed out several times up-thread, Trump and his minions are intensifying efforts to discredit the Congressional Budget Office. From the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent:

    We’re seeing a broad White House effort to corrode the very ideal of reality-based governing, something that includes not just a discrediting of institutions such as the CBO but also the weakening of the influence of science and data over agency decision-making and the deliberate misuse of our democracy’s institutional processes to prop up Trump’s lies about his popular support and political opponents.

    Steve Benen called this a “war on empiricism.”

    […] Welcome to the war on empiricism. For Team Trump and its Republican allies, some may present themselves as authorities – on health care data, on the unemployment rate, on climate science, on how many people showed up to witness a presidential inauguration – but right-thinking people should dismiss those sources as illegitimate. […]

    […] the White House isn’t exactly subtle about its vision: Don’t trust news organizations. Don’t trust the courts. Don’t trust pollsters. Don’t trust U.S. intelligence agencies. Don’t trust unemployment numbers. Don’t even trust election results. […]

    If Republicans have a problem with a CBO report, fine. They can and should make their case, point to flaws, present evidence, and respond with competing data. The rest of us can then evaluate that data and draw conclusions. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    But when far-right officials make the case that there are no authorities, and subject-matter expertise is an illusion intended to distract people from “alternative facts” that Republicans find more satisfying, the damage to our discourse and policymaking process is incalculable.

  152. says

    Senator Tom Cotton, part-time Republican doofus, is currently speaking the truth (sort of, and from a narrow perspective) when it comes to the supposed “three-phase process” the White House is touting in reference to their health care bill(s).

    […] ‘There is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin,” Cotton told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

    Republicans have said that after passing the House GOP’s repeal bill, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price plans to follow up with regulations and Congress plans to pass another bill with additional reforms that would need to net 60 votes in the Senate.

    [Tom Price said]: “What the report looked at was only one third of our plan. And that’s why you can’t look at this in isolation,” Price said. “The fact of the matter is, with our whole plan, every single American will have access to coverage.” [cough, sputter]

    [Cotton said that regulation changes will be] “subject to court challenge [and the third step] will never happen, describing it as “some mythical legislation in the future that is going to garner Democratic support and help us get over 60 votes in the Senate.”

    “If we had those Democratic votes, we wouldn’t need three steps. We would just be doing that right now on this legislation altogether,” Cotton told Hewitt. “That’s why it’s so important that we get this legislation right, because there is no step three. And step two is not completely under our control.”

    […] he did say that the CBO is “directionally correct” on the impact of the Republican plan. […]


    Some Republicans that are bothered by aspects of the current Ryan plan are being persuaded to vote “yes” with an argument that says flaws will be fixed in phase 2 and phase 3. Bullshit.

  153. says

    To the surprise of no one at all, yet another Youtube gaming douchebag has been exposed as a racist.

    I want to call out special attention to the most upvoted comment on this post:

    I recently visited my girlfriend’s aunt, uncle and her nephews – the kids are the only ones who play video games in their whole family so I have a pretty good rapport with them. We’re sitting there chatting about stupid little kid stuff (they’re 9 and 11) and they start talking about bashing Jews and laughing about Hitler. I tell them no that’s obviously not something to joke about and do they know who Hitler was, and who did you hear this from, yadda yadda.

    They’ve learned all this stupidity from these dumb fucking youtube minecraft streamers and repeat it mindlessly. They (edit: meaning the kids) obviously have no idea how offensive they were being. We talked about it and I think (hope?) they have a better idea, but think about how many children are out here learning all this horrible shit like it’s normal.

    It’s just in this same stream of consciousness as John Cena jokes and fart noises and then suddenly you’re mocking jews and Christ this country really is going to fall apart in the next four years isn’t it?

    edit: before you ask: No, they don’t do this around their parents. No, the parents don’t really pre-screen every single video these kids watch on youtube.. they’re blue collar trump people themselves who work all the time and see video games on screen so it isn’t a red flag. Yes I am trying to be the best influence I can be.

    I have said before, and am becoming more and more convinced, that Youtube and Twitch are cesspools for racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia and primary outlets for disseminating racist and sexist viewpoints. I think it’s time for the general public to start putting pressure on Youtube and Twitch to reign this in because they are a huge part of the reason for the rise of white nationalism in my opinion.

  154. says

    I wrote @ #180:

    Best part: The CBO prediction for the number of people who would be covered under the ACA was based on the Medicaid expansion provision. The Right fought this provision to the Supreme Court, which ruled that taking the Medicaid expansion was optional for states; then several states controlled by Republicans refused the Medicaid expansion so poor people in these states didn’t get that coverage. Now the Republicans argue that the CBO lacks credibility because its coverage estimates were too high.

    I’ve been mulling this over. So in effect the CBO overestimated the number of people who would be covered under the ACA because they didn’t factor in Republican villainy. This suggests that the CBO estimate for the number of people who would lose coverage under the Trumpublican plan could well be too low. For example, Medicaid block grants to states could allow Republican-controlled states to divert funds away from people in need. In analyzing the potential consequences of any piece of legislation, RV has to be anticipated and taken into account.

  155. says

    Mike Pence touted a meeting he had with Greg Knox in Ohio: “a small biz owner hurting under Obamacare. Now, he’s at the @WhiteHouse to share his story.”

    Uh, that’s not exactly the full story. Greg Knox is obnoxious. Here are some excerpst from a tirade Knox sent to General Motors President Troy Clark in December 2008:

    […] You are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has bred like cancerous germs in UAW [United Auto Workers union] halls for the last countless decades […]

    our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded ‘laborer’ […]

    I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM’s and Tier ones for 3 decades now throughout the Midwest and what I’ve seen over the years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting […]

    how about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour week. […]

    Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins […]

    Link. The full text of the letter is available at the link.

    Another excerpt:

    […] I attended an economic summit last week where a brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of “bailout money”. […] That is how a free market system works. It does work if we would let it work.

    But for some reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn’t work that we need the government to step in and “save us”. Save us, hell! We’re nationalizing and unfortunately too many of this once fine nations citizens don’t even have a clue that this is what’s really happening […]

    Needless to say, Greg Knox was proven wrong.

    Here are comments from the White House that were released yesterday:

    Mr. Greg Knox of Ohio, the owner of Knox Machinery and Chairman of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association. The businesses in Mr. Knox’s association have been significantly affected by Obamacare’s rising prices. Mr. Knox expressed optimism that President Trump will return free market principles to our Nation’s healthcare system, which will benefit consumers by increasing options and lowering costs.

    Yeah, right. Knox is a good example of the kind of people that Pence and Trump invite to the White House to give them advice. As Josh Marshall said, Knox is a “toxic right wing asshole.”

  156. says

    Some Republicans that are bothered by aspects of the current Ryan plan are being persuaded to vote “yes” with an argument that says flaws will be fixed in phase 2 and phase 3. Bullshit.

    Phase 3 = Gold Elite level at Trump U.

  157. says

    PZ posted about Steve King, and he created a separate thread to discuss King and his assholery. I will post a short update here. Refer to PZ’s new post for more information.

    Steve King is in a hole and still digging:

    Rep. Steve King […], of newfound “somebody else’s babies” infamy, said on Monday that black and Hispanic populations “will be fighting each other” before outnumbering the population of white people in the United States. […]

    King referred to Univision anchor Jorge Ramos […] “And he’s adding up Hispanics and blacks into what he predicts will be in greater number than whites in America,” King said. “I will predict that Hispanics and the blacks will be fighting each other before that happens.” […]


  158. says

    We’ve talked before about Sean Spicer, (and the White House in general), bringing fringe rightwingers into the fold. Spicer amplifies and legitimizes total dunderheads by granting them a presence in the White House briefing room. Now we have another rightwing troll to add to out list, Lauren Southern.

    Lauren Southern, a Canadian “alt-right” media figure, is the latest troll to gain access to the White House press briefing. Southern has a record of making incendiary remarks, denying the existence of rape culture, and demonizing racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Southern is just the latest of the fringe, sycophantic “alt-right” media personalities that the White House is letting into its press briefings.

    Southern gained prominence as An “Alt-Right” media personality. Southern was formerly “one of the most popular hosts for Canada’s alt-right media torchbearer, the Rebel.” […]

    Southern spread unverified Reddit rumors about the Quebec mosque shooting to falsely paint two innocent Syrians as suspects. […]

    In a viral video posted by Southern titled “Why I Am Not A Feminist,” Southern dismissed the notion of rape culture by noting that men are raped too. […]

    Southern mocked feminist protesters at a demonstration against libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Augustus Sol Invictus, arguing that people are too quick to believe rape victims’ charges without proof and yelling, “There are only two genders,” male and female. […]


    Southern also has many connections to Breitbart. Just the type of faux journalist we do not want in the White House briefing room.

  159. says

    Remember Monica Crowley? She’s the woman that was considered for a post in the White House Security Council until it was discovered that she plagiarized a significant amount of text for her book “What the (Bleep) Just Happened,” and that her Columbia University Ph.D. dissertation was largely plagiarized.

    Crowley was dropped from team Trump. She offered an eyebrow-raising explanation for all that plagiarized text:

    What happened to me was a despicable straight-up political hit job. It’s been debunked, my editor has completely supported me and backed me up.

    Bullshit. Nope, not debunked!

    Crowley ended up with a soft landing, thanks (probably) to team Trump’s extensive connections to the small world of Russian oligarchs.

    […] she will represent billionaire Victor Pinchuk in discussions with U.S. government officials “and other policy makers” regarding “issues of concern to Mr. Pinchuk.” [Crowley will be] “providing outreach services on behalf of Mr. Victor Pinchuk.” […]


    Who promoted Crowley for a job on team Trump in the first place? Michael Flynn. (And probably Paul Manafort.)

    Pinchuk has called on Ukrainian leaders to make additional concessions to Vladimir Putin’s government. Pinchuk also wants Ukraine to give up on its plans to join the European Union, and the plans to join NATO. Sounds very much like Trump policy, like Manafort policy, etc.

    In 2015, the Pinchuk Foundation paid the Trump Foundation $150,000 in exchange for a video appearance by Trump at Pinchuk’s annual Yalta European Strategy meeting.

  160. says

    Back to the horrors associated with Steve Bannon, (with a tie-in to the novel, “The Camp of the Saints,” that was highlighted in PZ’s comments about Steve King):

    […] There is simply so much garbage pouring out of 1600 Pennsylvania on any given day that it’s beyond the capacity of any human to properly comprehend and become outraged by all of it.

    And yet, I would like to complain that it should be bigger news that the second-most-powerful person in the White House has in recent days been revealed to have repeatedly endorsed an extremely racist 1970s novel, The Camp of the Saints, that is “revered” in the foulest depths of the white-power movement. Newly infamous Iowa congressman/white nationalist Steve King just endorsed The Camp of the Saints in a radio interview; two days ago, white supremacist Jared Taylor—who organizes an annual conference attended by KKK figures and “white pride” advocates—celebrated its newfound prominence on Twitter. […]

    Slate link
    More details at the link.

  161. says

    Some people, especially people who rely on Social Security benefits, may die if the Republican health care plan passes. The analysis below is based on information in from a footnote on page 33 of the CBO report:

    Approximately 17,000 people could die in 2018 who otherwise would have lived if a House Republican health proposal endorsed by the Trump administration becomes law. By 2026, the number of people killed by Trumpcare could grow to approximately 29,000 in that year alone.

    Think Progress link

    That’s why the report projects that Social Security outlays would decrease: more dead old people.

  162. says

    I think that team Trump sees that the Republican health care plan is going to fail. They are setting up Paul Ryan to take the fall for its failure. Steve Bannon’s Breitbart site is repeatedly going after Ryan to set him up to take the blame.
    Media Matters link

  163. says

    Writing for The New Yorker, John Cassidy made some excellent points when he analyzed the effects of proposed replacement for Obamacare:

    […] The C.B.O. analysis didn’t account for the possibility of insurers being able to offer cheap and lousy plans. The main thing driving its conclusions wasn’t changes to the individual market but the House Republicans’ reckless and deliberate assault on Medicaid, the federal program that provides health care for the poverty-stricken and the working poor. In estimating that twenty-four million people stand to lose their insurance coverage, the C.B.O. said that fourteen million of this total would be accounted for by reductions in Medicaid rolls.

    It is important to understand how this estimate was arrived at, and why it is reasonable. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government lifted the income threshold for Medicaid eligibility to nearly a hundred and forty per cent of the poverty line. At the same time, Washington also promised states, which administer Medicaid, that it would pay ninety per cent of any costs entailed in this expansion. Thirty-one states, including sixteen that now have Republican governors, took the feds up on this offer. The G.O.P. bill would end the Medicaid expansion in 2020 […] would also change the way the rest of the Medicaid system is financed, shifting to a “block grant” model in which Washington would pay a fixed amount to the states for each recipient.

    As a result of these changes, the C.B.O. report said that “some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped.” The end result would be a big drop in enrollment and also a big drop in spending—eight hundred and eighty billion dollars over ten years. “By 2026, Medicaid spending would be about 25 percent less than what CBO projects under current law,” the report says.

    The drop in spending on Medicaid helps explain why the C.B.O. estimated that the G.O.P. reform would reduce the deficit by three hundred and thirty-seven billion dollars—a fact that some Republicans seized upon. But why, you might ask, would the deficit be reduced by just three hundred and thirty-seven billion dollars over ten years when spending on Medicaid would fall by eight hundred and eighty billion dollars? The answer is that the bill would take most of the money that is saved from reducing Medicaid and hand it out to rich people in the form of tax cuts. […]

    Much more at the link.

  164. says

    So the latest conspiracy theory is that Obama outsourced his surveillance of Trump to British intelligence. (Who I assume charged extra for adapting the plugs on their microwave-cameras for US outlets.)

  165. says

    “The Executive Branch Is About to Be ‘Reorganized’ into Oblivion: Steve Bannon’s time has come.”:

    This was ominous from the first tweet. While everyone was breathlessly awaiting the CBO numbers on the Republican tax-cut plan, the one that was so well-camouflaged beneath gauze and surgical gloves, the president* announced that he would be signing an executive order through which he planned to “reorganize” the executive branch of government. On Monday, not long after the CBO numbers lit the entire healthcare debate aflame again, he made good on his threat. He signed the “Comprehensive Plan For Reorganizing The Executive Branch.” I didn’t like the sound of this at the time, and it sounds even worse now that it’s here.

    Quite simply, this empowers the president* and his advisers simply to eviscerate the federal agencies that might inconvenience them by actually acting like they’re part of the government or something. Not long ago, the president*’s plans for drastic budgetary cuts in discretionary spending leaked. People howled. (The Coast Guard? Really?). This latest move impresses me most as a backup plan in case those cuts don’t fly in Congress. And considering that the White House really is being run by Steve Bannon, last heir to House Harkonnen and destroyer of the administrative state, it seems likely that this is the fundamental purpose behind the order….

  166. says

    @247 no fucking way! All of them or just a few pages again like last time?

    No clue! I’ve read a few things suggesting the involvement of David Cay Johnston. Won’t get carried away, but should be interesting in any event!

  167. says

    I have the feeling though that there isn’t going to be a smoking gun here. I hope that feeling is wrong.

    Yes. This could also be true. On the other hand, this should definitely reawaken the public interest in these forms, so if Trump leaked them it could well backfire. The public needs to see these fucking taxes. All of them.

  168. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *snicker* Alternative Minimum Tax. Spelled tax dodger….

  169. says

    @262 it could be but we’ll never know, although I now consider it likely. This is going to backfire on the dems and Rachel and now I’m disappointed she took the bait. This should have been back page in comparison to all the Russiagate news. Seems like some wagging the dog is going on here.

  170. says

    @265 – Your comment seems like it took a bit of a side swipe at me in my 264, but I could be wrong, so I’m not taking it personally yet. However, I want to dig in to a level of nuance here and slightly disagree with you.

    As skeptics, we should both be aware of some basic concepts from the world of magic, one of the most fundamental being ‘misdirection’. This basic tendency of people to be easily distracted can and does get capitalized on in politics, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out that there might be some misdirection going on.

    Rachel Maddow has been doing some dogged anchor work and digging into the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal. She’s been primarily focused on it and doing a bang up job of it.

    I agree with you in principal that we should be pulling every loose thread of the sweater that is the Trump regime, but we can do so while being careful not to fall for the misdirection, and I think that’s what’s going on here.

  171. militantagnostic says


    I have the feeling though that there isn’t going to be a smoking gun here. I hope that feeling is wrong.

    Based on the 2 Episodes of the Opening Arguments Podcast (Thomas Smith and Lawyer Andrew Torrez) that had a CPA discussing what could be determined from Trump’s tax returns your feeling is probably correct.

  172. says

    Your comment seems like it took a bit of a side swipe at me in my 264, but I could be wrong, so I’m not taking it personally yet.

    You’re wrong – not aimed at you at all.

    This basic tendency of people to be easily distracted can and does get capitalized on in politics, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out that there might be some misdirection going on.

    But the thing is that none of these subjects – taxes, Russia, policy, kleptocracy, dishonesty, insanity, white male supremacy, authoritarianism, sabotage of the government from within,… – is misdirection. It’s very much intertwined, and it’s all significant. It’s an exhausting waste of everyone’s time to debate what’s allegedly important in any moment. In the past week, I’ve read several articles telling people not to focus on Russia, and several others instructing us to focus only on Russia. It’s pointless.

  173. says

    @269 – Oh OK, I know exactly what you are talking about and I apologize for making it about me. Rolling Stone and Vanity fair have both published articles “warning” progressives to not keep going down the #russiagate rabbithole. I was equally disgusted. Mea Culpa.

  174. says

    Oh OK, I know exactly what you are talking about and I apologize for making it about me. Rolling Stone and Vanity fair have both published articles “warning” progressives to not keep going down the #russiagate rabbithole. I was equally disgusted.

    Right? I have nothing against the authors, but the articles were smug and intellectually dishonest.

    Thank you, Charles Pierce.

  175. says

    I worry that there is a strategy for the republicans here that is fairly obvious, but one that could work. They are going to slowly leak legit information and keep painting the left as crazy when they jump on it and get let down. The only counter is to keep exposing the evidence that shows how shady and fucked up this administration is.

  176. says

    And I don’t think it hurts to let those republicans who are breaking ranks to have a clear path to retaining some level of personal power when the dust settles. If Lindsay Graham keeps going I’d be willing to give him a pass and let him keep his district.

  177. says

    ^^ I didn’t mean to say that as if it were my decision, lol. Just saying, at some point the left has to let some key players on the right know that the fire is indeed better than the frying pan.

  178. says

    I worry that there is a strategy for the republicans here that is fairly obvious, but one that could work. They are going to slowly leak legit information and keep painting the left as crazy when they jump on it and get let down.

    Hm. On the other hand… This showed once again that there’s intense public interest in Trump’s tax returns – blew up the internet. It brought renewed attention to the importance of the public knowing what’s in them (and Maddow did a good job of bringing in the many shady aspects he could be hiding in his taxes that are important for national security and constitutionality even though these two pages said nothing about it). True, it was a bit of a tease, but it distracted from other stories for about 2 1/2 hours, which is nothing. And there’s much more out there on a number of fronts. (I truly believe this, because my reading on the subject has made me aware that Trump is far worse than people realize. I strongly suspect that the reality is worse than people even imagine. And there’s a lot of smoke.)

  179. says

    (I truly believe this, because my reading on the subject has made me aware that Trump is far worse than people realize. I strongly suspect that the reality is worse than people even imagine. And there’s a lot of smoke.)

    He’s wholly owned and subsidized by a warped combination of Russian and Chinese power brokers. He’s only outwardly nationalist, and blatantly plays on the lowest common prejudices of cynical and fearful people in order to promote his own interests; yet he’s president of the United States of America. I don’t know how the reality could be any worse.

  180. says

    I think most rightwing media outlets, and most Trump supporters will adopt the same attitude that Donald Trump Jr. exhibited in response to Maddow’s show:

    Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!

    I don’t think the figure was $40 million, Don Jr., but what’s a couple of million here or there.

    I think it is highly likely that most people will ignore the import of the fact that Trump is now, as president, in a position to push for tax policies that would obviously benefit him.

    […] The new documents, which were posted online and broadcast on MSNBC, show Trump and his wife Melania paid $5.3 million in standard federal income tax and more than $31 million in the alternative minimum tax. The Alternative Minimum Tax is intended to prevent taxpayers from excessively reducing their tax liabilities by taking many or sizable deductions.

    Trump has proposed eliminating the AMT as part of an overhaul of the tax code. […]

    According to the document, Trump earned about $150 million, including some $32 million in capital gains.

    But he reported a $100 million loss he was able to subtract from that. MSNBC only released the first two pages of the return, and it’s impossible to tell from them what produced that loss.

    Trump’s adjusted gross income was $48.5 million that year. He took $17 million in itemized deductions against that, though, again, the documents do not detail speifics. Among the likely candidates: a deduction for state and local taxes important to high-tax states like New York.

    That left Trump with about $31.5 million in taxable income, and his regular income tax on that was about $5.3 million.

    But the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to prevent the wealthy from ducking the tax man, forced Trump to pay an additional $31.2 million in taxes.

    “If it weren’t for the AMT, he’d pay a very, very low tax rate,” said Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

    Politico link

    I think it is likely that Trump and/or team Trump released the 2005 partial tax return in order to deflate the demands for the rest of his tax returns.

    Background for massive deductions:

    […] In October, at the height the 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times obtained and published three pages of Trump’s 1995 state tax returns, which showed he took a deduction of $916 million on losses, which could have allowed him to avoid paying taxes for 18 years.

    While it’s not unusual that Trump would use that tax break, the losses he claimed were so large they amounted to almost 2 percent of all such deductions claimed that year by taxpayers. […]

    David Cay Johnston pointed out that Trump should not have been able to claim that deduction. He lost the bank’s money, not his own. The loophole allowing that deduction taken in 1995 was closed the next year.

  181. says

    From The Daily Beast:

    […] 2005 was the year that Trump, a newly minted reality star, made his last big score as a real-life real estate developer, when he sold two properties, one on Manhattan’s west side and one in San Francisco, to Hong Kong investors, accounting for the lion’s share of his income that year. […]

    Maybe more fuel for the theory that Trump himself leaked the 2005 tax return? Was it the last year in which he looked like a guy who earns a lot of money?

  182. says

    erik @278, I think Trump is also “owned” psychologically by Steve Bannon. That “reorganization” executive order has Bannon’s fingerprints all over it. (Comments 178 and 242)

    Back to the tax return issue, there’s this from David Brock:

    More questions than answers tonight. I’m offering a $5m reward to anyone with Trump’s complete, legally obtained tax returns.

    The DNC is pushing hard for more information:

    The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Tuesday slammed President Trump for long claiming that he can’t release his tax returns due to an audit after the White House made some tax info public to undercut an MSNBC report.

    “The White House’s willingness to release some tax information when it suits them proves Donald Trump’s audit excuse is a sham,” DNC senior adviser Zac Petkanas said in a statement.

    “If they can release some of his information, they can release all of the information. The only reason not to release his returns is to hide what’s in them such as financial connections with Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin.”

    The White House said late Tuesday Trump reported $150 million in income and paid $38 million in federal taxes in 2005, releasing a statement before MSNBC could reveal the documents on air. […]

  183. KG says

    Further to SC’s info about the UK press’s focus on Le Pen (#11, #35), the BBC is just as bad. Here is a disgraceful puff piece normalising this disgusting fascist. A similar process is evident over Wilders and the Dutch election (which happens today). Every BBC item on the latter leads on Wilders and the PVV (here is the latest). That one is obliged to admit that Wilders’ support appears to have fallen, so his* PVV is no longer likely to come first – but there’s nothing about the other very interesting aspects of these polls: the sharp fall in support for both the government parties (the VVD and PvdA – supposedly centre-right and centre-left respectively, but which have followed hardline “austerity” economic policies), to the advantage not just of the PVV, but of GroenLinks (Green Left), the CDA (a centrist, largely Catholic party) and others. If the polls are anywhere near correct, the pseudo-left PvdA will for the first time have fewer seats than either of the significant parties of the real left, GroenLinks and the SP (Socialist Party). I heard a BBC radio documentary – again focused exclusively on Wilders and the PVV – in which the reporter clearly didn’t even know there was a “Green Left” party.

    I doubt that all this is because the BBC has suddenly been taken over by fascists – rather, it has been decided that the rise of the far right is the only “sexy” story about European politics at present – apart from Brexit. The two are conveniently linked, as the far-right parties are also anti-EU, and took great encouragement from the Brexit vote – although as it turns out, this may not actually help them as it becomes clear what a complete clusterfuck Brexit is going to be. Maybe there’s also a feeling that the BBC had better hedge its bets to ensure access to fascist leaders if they do come to power.

    *The PVV is Wilders’ party in the most literal sense – he’s legally the only member. This is a scam to avoid revealing his sources of funding to a wider membership (see blf@34).

  184. says

    It seems as if the Huffpo read my mind and published a pretty extensive history of the Trump campaign / Russia ties.

    There are some missing things like the real estate deal that netted Trump $60 mill from the Russian fertilizer king, and how that same fertilizer king later ended up on the board of Cypress bank with Wilbur Ross and another close Putin associate who was previously on the board of Deutsche Bank while it was being fined $630m for Russian money laundering.

    There’s also some slightly more sketchy reporting that’s been done but has some merit about the Trump owned server that was curiously only ever being looked up by Alfa Bank and a company owned by Betsy Devos’ husband, reporting which was likely the source of Trump’s tweet rage about being wiretapped.

    They also left out anything about Farage visiting Julian Assange on the same day Stone admitted to private communications with Guccifer2.0 and only days after the CIA vault7 wikileaks dump. Nigel Farage had spent the better part of the week or the inauguration in the personal company of Trump and his associates partying it up.

    There’s also the whole Paul Manafort’s daughter’s texts thing which isn’t getting much play. If true, Trump’s former campaign manager may be guilty of things far more sinister than taking money from and lobbying for the ousted pro-russian Ukrainian leader, he may have had a direct hand in the deaths of 100 pro west protesters.

  185. says

    “America’s Top High School Science Students Are the Children of Immigrants”


    He’s wholly owned and subsidized by a warped combination of Russian and Chinese power brokers. He’s only outwardly nationalist, and blatantly plays on the lowest common prejudices of cynical and fearful people in order to promote his own interests; yet he’s president of the United States of America. I don’t know how the reality could be any worse.

    I wasn’t talking about reality in general, but the reality of who he is. He’s awful. Months ago, Tony Schwartz, who wrote The Art of the Deal, said he has “no redeeming qualities.” And Schwartz and others have been clear that it goes beyond this. He doesn’t just lack compassion or a moral compass – his “moral code” is to destroy anyone who stands in his way. He’s sadistic, abusive, cruel, violent, and destructive. He doesn’t care who he hurts, and often delights in causing others pain. (Not only would he not consider this an insult, he’s bragged about it on many occasions.) He lies constantly, to anyone and everyone. He cheats gleefully. Since he has no core feeling of self-worth, when he feels threatened he lashes out viciously and compulsively. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to get more money or power or to keep them. His mentor was Roy Cohn. It goes well beyond his fascistic politics – I don’t think there’s ever been such a genuinely terrible person in US political life. (Like Schwartz, I say this with compassion – he’s the product of an authoritarian familial, institutional, and cultural environment, and a miserable empty shell of a human being.)

  186. says

    Minor observation re demands for Trump’s taxes: Historically, Trump has lied on his taxes. He’s been caught several times and paid fines and back taxes. So on the one hand his taxes wouldn’t necessarily show everything people might expect if they’re making the assumption that he’s always been truthful in his returns. But on the other, if what he said on his taxes can be shown to be false, he would be open to criminal prosecution.

    He’s definitely hiding something, and if he did leak these pages to Johnston it raises even more questions. Congress and the public need to see his tax returns.

  187. says

    “‘People are scared’: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House”:

    A culture of paranoia is consuming the Trump administration, with staffers increasingly preoccupied with perceived enemies—inside their own government.

    In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to President Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a “deep state” of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them.

    Aides are going to great lengths to protect themselves. They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop. They’re staying mum in meetings out of concern that their comments could be leaked to the press by foes.

    Many are using encrypted apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read, or are leaving their personal cell phones at home in case their bosses initiate phone checks of the sort that press secretary Sean Spicer deployed last month to identify leakers on his team.

    It’s an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf, key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal, and Trump’s ambitious agenda has been eclipsed by headlines surrounding his unproven claim that former President Barack Obama tapped his phone lines.

    One senior administration aide, who like most others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that was unsustainable….

  188. militantagnostic says

    SC @ 184

    “America’s Top High School Science Students Are the Children of Immigrants”

    You say that like it (science) is a good thing,

  189. says

    Joe Scarborough tweeted: “This one tax return is not bad for him because he cherry picked one return from over a decade ago and had it leaked to the press.”

    Infamous goon Michael Cohen responded: “As #potus @realDonaldTrump personal attorney, I know who has his taxes. You better have proof to back up your claim and big mouth!”

    Cohen, who has zero credibility, could easily advise Trump to release several years’ full tax returns if he wants to show that there are no shenanigans. This is the expectation and the norm, and more than called for in this case.


    Nunes and Schiff are doing a press conference. Announcing that they have no evidence that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower. It’s painful to watch Schiff have to gingerly deal with Nunes’ partisan insinuations.

  190. says

    The Justice Dept. is announcing that they’re indicting FSB people and paid hackers in 2013/2014 hacking of Yahoo and other US companies – calling it “foreign, state-sponsored criminal behavior.” At least one has been arrested.

  191. militantagnostic says

    Aides are going to great lengths to protect themselves. They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop.

    But are they unplugging their microwave ovens?

    Perhaps Trump will suffer the fate of Caligula.

  192. says

    Trump tweeted: “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”

    David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on taxes and tax loopholes. He’s also been reporting on Trump since like the ’80s or ’90s. Trump has his phone number and called him at home last year. Johnston said this morning that Trump followers are threatening his family over this.

  193. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @280

    Maybe more fuel for the theory that Trump himself leaked the 2005 tax return? Was it the last year in which he looked like a guy who earns a lot of money?

    It is probably the last year he paid a significant amount of taxes.

    “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done just for show.” — Mitt Romney on why he released 12 years of tax returns

  194. says

    During his campaign, Trump claimed that Ted Cruz “is in bed w/ Wall St. & is funded by Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs owns [Cruz], he will do anything they demand. Not much of a reformer!”

    Trump also claimed that Goldman Sachs had “total control” over Hillary Clinton.

    Trump just added a seventh Goldman Sachs veteran to his team. From the New York Times:

    James Donovan, a longtime Goldman banking and investment management executive, has been named to be the deputy to the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

    Mr. Donovan, 50, would be responsible for helping Mr. Mnuchin, also a Goldman alumnus, in running a government agency that handles a wide range of economic matters, from producing physical currency to enforcing economic sanctions against nations.

    Other Goldman Sachs vets already on the team:
    – Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary
    – Steve Bannon, Chief White House strategist
    – Gary Cohn, chief economics advisor (and ormer president of Goldman Sachs)
    – Jay Clayton, nominated to head the Securities and Exchange Commission
    – Dina Powell, on the economic team
    – Anthony Scaramucci, White House “confidant” to the president —Scaramucci later withdrew

  195. says

    Trump’s morning tweet reveals, once again, that he knows less than almost everyone:

    Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!

    So, he doesn’t know who David Cay Johnston is. I do.

    The White House already confirmed that the 2005 tax returns are the real deal, so that’s not fake.

    As Rachel Maddow pointed out, she’s not fake.

    Related links:

  196. says

    militant agnostic @294

    It is probably the last year he paid a significant amount of taxes.

    Right. That’s a better way to put it.

    SC @293

    David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on taxes and tax loopholes. He’s also been reporting on Trump since like the ’80s or ’90s. Trump has his phone number and called him at home last year. Johnston said this morning that Trump followers are threatening his family over this.

    Thanks for that info. Sorry I didn’t refresh before I posted comment 296.

  197. says

    Paul Ryan is getting desperate. He does not want to be the only one on the sinking Republican health care boat.

    Josh Marshall noticed:

    […] Speaker Ryan from about an hour ago: “This is something we wrote with President Trump.”

    In other words, let me invite you back on my sinking boat. Ryan went on to say: “This is something we wrote with the Senate committees. So just so you know, Maria (Bartiromo), this is the plan we ran on all last year.” So he wants to invite a lot of people onboard.

    As the Trumpcare/Ryan bill has endured a murderous three days, there’s been a growing move, from various feral and high profile Trump supporters outside the White House, as well as Breitbart News, to say the bill is at least politically a disaster and that Ryan is to blame.

    Is this really what Trump and Republicans ran on, as Ryan claims?

    Well, here’s President Trump in September, 2015: “Everybody’s got to be covered … I’m going to take care of everybody.” […]

    In January 2017: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

    Clearly, this is not what President Trump ran on.

    […] Trump was assured it would be awesome and that was good enough for him.

    […] Trump’s ideological commitment to this bill? Basically zero. Trump’s commitment to being loved and not looking stupid? Incalculable. Trump seems at least temporarily imprinted with the access/freedom Ryan mantra. But there’s every reason to think that is just skin deep.

    Trump may not care in any deep sense about millions of people losing their insurance coverage. But he did say his genius and deal making power would make things awesome for everyone. He wants everyone happy and loving him. This bill is not good for that agenda.

    Trump’s friends are telling him Ryan is leading him into a trap, either through malice or incompetence. The bill is looking like a loser, which will matter to Trump a lot. All of this looks to be converging on Paul Ryan being the fall guy. Which we can’t say is really unfair because it is his creation.

  198. says

    This is a follow-up to comment 279.

    More from Donald Trump Jr.:

    Watching the media aka #fakenews implode on tv now because they got what they wanted is simply awesome. Who else knew that Rachel Maddow was a Republican???

    I don’t know much, but if I recall correctly $38,000,000 is a lot more than $0… right?????? #thankyoumaddow

    Now @CNN is upset that the returns that they have been dying to get their hands on for 18 months are out but it doesn’t fit their narrative!

    BREAKING NEWS: 12 years ago @realDonaldTrump made a lot of money and paid a lot in taxes

    Who else knew that Rachel Maddow was a Republican???

    I guess he thought that last one was so clever that he had to repeat it. Maybe it was Don Jr.’s idea to release the tax return that looked most legit?

  199. says

    […] Melania’s citizenship depended on a squeaky clean join tax filing in 2005. This is why Trump, yesterday, leaked his own (partial) 2005 1040 form. It was the only year he was forced to play by the rules.

    […] THE WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE: As soon as the first Maddow tweet went out touting the tax forms and promising a segment with David Cay Johnston, the White House issued a pre-emptive whine about “illegally published” tax returns. This was unusual because the White House has been slow to respond to allegations or ignores them all together. But Tuesday night, they seemed to have a canned response ready to go. Veteran reporters who covered Trump on the campaign trail said the language of the statement points to being written by Donald Trump, not an aide. […]


    The copy of the two-page tax form is clearly marked “Client Copy,” which indicates it came from Donald or Melania Trump.

  200. says

    The Chinese American businesswoman who recently bought a $15.8 million penthouse in a Trump-owned building has ties to “an organization considered a front group for Chinese military intelligence.”

    [Angela] Chen, who also goes by the names Xiao Yan Chen and Chen Yu, purchased the four-bedroom condo in the Trump Park Avenue building in New York City on February 21. As Mother Jones first reported, Chen runs a business consulting firm, Global Alliance Associates, which specializes in linking US businesses seeking deals in China with the country’s top power brokers. […] But Chen has another job: She chairs the US arm of a nonprofit called the China Arts Foundation, which was founded in 2006 and has links with Chinese elites and the country’s military intelligence service.

    […] China experts say CAIFC [China Association for International Friendly Contacts] exists to cultivate relationships with former leaders and retired military officials and diplomats of various countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, in order to influence foreign defense policies toward China and the Far East.

    To sum up: An influence-peddler who works with a princeling tied to Chinese military intelligence placed $15.8 million in the pockets of the president of the United States. […]

    In 2012, the Republican National Committee considered a resolution expressing concern about a cultural exchange program organized by CAIFC because of the group’s ties to Chinese military intelligence. The resolution, which was not adopted, was fueled by a report from a congressional committee that studies US-China relations. The report labeled CAIFC “a front organization for the International Liaison Department of the People’s Liberation Army’s General Political Department.” […]

    Norm Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s lead ethics lawyer, says the links between Chen, the foundation, CAIFC, and the Chinese government and military raise “a series of very profound and troubling questions.” He notes that there is no transparency regarding the vetting of business deals benefiting Trump. Without such a process, he points out, there are well-founded questions about the true source of the funds used to buy the $15.8 million condo. “When, as here, the public interest is implicated, we’re left at a loss,” Eisen says. “You shouldn’t be asking these questions about a president.”

    Mother Jones link

    Chen paid cash for the penthouse.

  201. says

    More details regarding the “alt-right” scumbags who are threatening David Cay Johnston and his family:

    […] his home phone number and address were posted on the anonymous forum 8chan. Forums like 8chan, 4chan, and Reddit are home to many in the “alt-right” and have been the base for many other harassment campaigns. […]

    Some of the threats appeared to have originated from 8chan’s “/pol/” message board, which Mic has described as “one of the nexuses of the alternative right.” A thread on the message board included Johnston’s home address and home phone number, asking if users were “BRAVE ENOUGH TO CALL THAT NUMBER??” Others said they called the number, and they posted tips for those who also intended to call.

    Forums like 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit are hotbeds of harassment by those in the so-called “alt-right,” a self-designated term for a faction of the white nationalist movement. The forums have been used by Trump supporters to launch harassment campaigns against anti-Trump individuals, as well as to troll Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, and undocumented immigrants. 8chan was also one of the forums used by those involved in the Gamergate movement to harass those who, according to The Washington Post, advocated “for greater inclusion in [video] gaming.”

    Media Matters link

  202. says

    Writing for The Daily Beast, Michael Daly highlighted some more interesting facts related to Trump’s 2005 tax return, and the possibility that he leaked it himself in lieu of releasing all of his tax returns.

    […] if he had released the 2005 return, he would have been expected to release the 2006 return, in which he likely listed the charitable donation of 436 acres from a failed golf course venture to New York State as a park. He proclaimed at the time of the donation that the land was worth $100 million. That is around $85 million more than what Westchester County officials peg as its actual value at the time.

    […] Even in 2005, the full return would have details beyond the immediate income and tax numbers that Trump would no doubt just as soon keep private.

    The rest of the filing would show that the 2005 windfall was the result of a deal made not by him, but by Chinese partners who had rescued him from a financial implosion a decade before and then parlayed the investment into a huge score. […]

  203. says

    Stephen Colbert covered Paul Ryan’s reaction to the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the Republican health care plan. Scroll down for the video. This is a good one. The video is 6:17 minutes long.

  204. says

    Speculation about another source for the 2005 tax returns:

    […] The Associated Press has reported that there are dozens of instances where Trump has turned over multiple years worth of tax returns to engage in business deals, to request a loan, or to comply with court orders.

    Those who have received the returns are legally barred from talking about them, but could potentially get away with anonymously mailing copies to reporters […]

    The Hill link

  205. blf says

    The copy of the two-page tax form is clearly marked “Client Copy,” which indicates it came from Donald or Melania Trump.

    Not exactly: That means it was intended for the Trumps, and presumably is in their possession. As such, it does not mean either had anything to do with the making or sending the copy to Johnston (theoretically including ordering the leak). As the Grauniad says (02:17 mark), “The taxes [sic] themselves say ‘client copy’ on them, so whoever sent them to Johnston had access to Trump’s personal files, rather than those belonging to his accountant or the Internal Revenue Service.”

    Which does not mean one of the Trumps isn’t responsible.

    No apologies for being pedantic here: “The resistance” must avoid spreading lies and innuendos, and certainly not any of its own making. Please do not normalize the dalekocracy’s behaviour by doing the same-ish!

  206. says

    More doofuses and dunderheads joining team Trump:

    David Malpass, a veteran of two previous Republican Party administrations as well as a former chief economist for the now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns, has been nominated to serve as undersecretary of Treasury for international affairs. […]

    But despite decent paper credentials, Malpass has a striking track record of poor judgment about major economic issues over the past decade — cheerleading the economy on the verge of the Great Recession while warning of a collapse just as recovery was getting underway.

    […] And as Jordan Weissmann writes, investigations would reveal that “Bear Stearns’ own hedge funds were already in turmoil due to mortgage losses” at the time Malpass’s [optimistic] op-ed ran. By March 2008, Bear Stearns was bankrupt. […]

    You don’t get a financial crisis without a lot of people at a lot of banks making a lot of mistakes, but Malpass stood out from the crowd by aggressively telling everyone to calm down while his own employer was actually on the bleeding edge of the disaster. […]

  207. says

    blf @307, thank you for that correction, and for the explanation. I soon realized I had made a mistake earlier. Your correction was needed.

    Wonkette covered the reaction to Maddow’s show:

    […] Rachel Maddow broke the entire internet when she tweeted that she had “Trump taxes” to share on her nightly TV program! The internet LITERALLY DIED OF ORGASMS […] Then, perhaps sensing that the internet was losing it a li’l too much in anticipation, Maddow’s team tweeted a bit later that what they had was from Trump’s 2005 1040 form. And they did! It was interesting! […] It was the first two pages, and it showed, in very little detail, that Trump indeed paid some taxes that year, and it brought up more questions than it answered, quite frankly.

    And ever since, Liberals On The Internet have been shouting “BURN HER,” except they’re liberals, so they’re more like “TRIGGER WARNING FOR RACHEL MADDOW SUX NOW!” We think this happened for two reasons: 1) It was kind of underwhelming, or as much of Twitter apparently couldn’t stop saying, a “nothingburger.” 2) […] Given the opportunity to jack ourselves into a frenzy with anticipation that maybe Rachel had THE SMOKING GUN, we allowed ourselves (literally, we are including ourselves!) to believe maybe just maybe Rachel Maddow had a story that was about to Change Everything!!!!1!!!!

    Instead, we have a document that actually, in this one isolated instance, makes Trump look like a halfway decent rich person who paid some taxes that one time! Which immediately leads us to, AHEM EXCUSE US, did Donald Trump leak his own taxes like a common Russian pee hooker?

    Did he pick one of what we are imagining are very few returns that make him look pretty decent, creep out of the White House at night and pitter patter to journalist David Cay Johnston’s mailbox and stick them in there? Lots of people think so! […]

    Look, did Maddow’s team go a little bit too hard with the hype for this one? Maybe probably sure we guess — although “sending two tweets” doesn’t actually sound like that much overhype. We read into those two tweets what we wanted them to mean. […]

  208. says

    Follow-up to comment 146.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman David Nunes, a Republican from California, may have finally gotten a clue, or at least half a clue:

    About the issue with the president talking about tapping Trump Tower, that evidence still remains the same. We don’t have any evidence that that took place. In fact, I don’t believe, just in the last week of time, the people we’ve talked to, I don’t believe there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

    Nunes soiled his moment-of-reasonableness by saying that that reporters are guilty of taking Trump’s tweets literally. Nevertheless, he took a baby step in the right direction.

  209. says

    From Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price:

    The Trump administration will work with states that want to alter their Medicaid programs by imposing work requirements, premiums, emergency-room copayments and other changes, part of a Republican effort to give states more authority over the program’s implementation.

    […] add several first-ever obligations for beneficiaries and pare back coverage. […]

    This may be a ploy by Price to get Republican Freedom Caucus members to vote for Trumpcare. Let’s humiliate Medicaid recipients!

  210. says

    Jesus fuck, when will MSNBC and CNN learn that their audiences want to see Senate and House hearings more than Trump rallies, and in fact generally don’t believe there’s any obligation to show Trump’s rallies in the first place which contributes to his propaganda? (It’s true that I speak only for myself here, but if the developments cited @ #205 above are any indication many others agree.) They both actually cut away from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s public hearing about FBI investigations to go to Trump reading off a teleprompter and saying nothing.

  211. says

    This may be a ploy by Price to get Republican Freedom Caucus members to vote for Trumpcare. Let’s humiliate Medicaid recipients!

    Like I said @ #226, RV has to be factored into any analysis.

  212. says

    CNN and MSNBC are entertainment outlets that barely qualify as news most of the time, hearings are long boring dry affairs that do little to boost ratings. They rarely show committee hearings in their entirety, but they are likely to give a summary later.

  213. says

    Whoa – this Senate discussion is lively. John McCain, Jeanne Shaheen, and others are talking about supporting Montenegro and NATO. Rand Paul objected and then walked away without explanation. Now McCain and Shaheen are going after Paul. McCain: “The Senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

  214. says

    CNN and MSNBC are entertainment outlets that barely qualify as news most of the time, hearings are long boring dry affairs that do little to boost ratings. They rarely show committee hearings in their entirety, but they are likely to give a summary later.

    They were showing the short Senate hearing in which Graham and Whitehouse were talking about the FBI, alleged wiretapping, and Russia. There’s an enormous amount of interest in that. They cut away from that to go to a Trump teleprompter rally. I can pretty much guarantee that’s not what the vast majority of their viewers wanted.

  215. says

    When a Trump rally is aired on MSNBC, I tune out. Maybe they will notice that their ratings drop when they air repetitive nonsense from Hair Furor.

  216. says

    Oh, FFS. We know that President Obama rescued the American auto industry. But in the speech Trump gave at a campaign rally (a rally is untimely nonsense in and of itself), he said:

    The assault on the American auto industry, believe me, is over. It’s over. Not going to have it anymore. I kept my word […] followed through on my promise, and by the way many other promises.

    Trump seems to believe that Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards are an “assault.”

    As far as keeping his word goes, he hasn’t made and real changes yet. The EPA has been asked by team Trump “to determine no later than April 2018 whether the 2022-2025 standards established are appropriate. If the EPA determines they are not appropriate, the agency will submit a new proposal next year.”

    I don’t know what Trump thinks is “over,” but I don’t see any indication that Trump knows a damned thing about the auto industry.

  217. says

    erik @323, hooray! Good news. That makes me happy. Let’s hope those exits polls represent the true situation.

    In other news, Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Dreamer from Seattle, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post.

    Last week, I spent my 24th birthday in detention.

    I’ve been in an immigrant detention center in Tacoma, Wash., for more than a month. That’s a month away from my family, a month further away from doing everything I can to support my 3-year-old son and a lifetime away from the future my parents wished for me when I was brought here from Mexico at age 7. I’ve spent nearly my whole life in the United States — as a child, a teenager and now an adult with a child of my own. This country is my home.

    I was detained and brought here on Feb. 10, just over a month after moving from the Central Valley in California to the Seattle area to find a better job to support my family. It has been difficult to keep a positive outlook. It’s gray here, and I mostly keep to myself, except for the prayer group I attend twice a day. To pass the time, I recently started learning how to make origami animals to give to my son when I see him again.

  218. says

    Continuation of comment 326:

    They don’t even need to take my word for it — the government already knows that I’m not a gang member. Like all “dreamers,” I gave all of my personal information and fingerprints to the government to qualify for DACA. I’ve been checked against every state and federal database. They verified twice that I have no criminal history, was never affiliated with any gang and was not a threat to public safety. Despite that, I was treated as though my DACA status and my work authorization meant nothing.

    Despite how terrible this situation has been, in some ways, I am still one of the lucky ones. I have an incredible team of lawyers who are helping me every step of the way; they have interviewed me here in detention and used our conversations to draft this essay so I can tell my story to the public before I’m released. I have the support of my family and friends who will not stop fighting for me until I am back home. I have a son who I love and miss every day. And I have received incredible support from people nationwide in a way I never could have imagined. I’m now waiting for the judge to decide whether I can be released and whether he will hear my case in federal court.

    I am hopeful that I will have a future in this country, but I know that this case is not just about me. Hundreds of thousands of dreamers are questioning just what sort of protection the government’s promise provides. If I can be arrested and detained without any evidence, what will happen to them?

    My parents brought me to the United States because they wanted for me what all parents want for their kids — a good shot at life. Dreamers like me aren’t asking for handouts. We want the government to stand by its promise and let us contribute to our communities and take care of our families without being sent back to a country we don’t know. Part of why I love the United States is because it embraces people who have different cultures and languages. It rewards people who work hard and help others. And it stands for the promise of a better future. This is the America that I love and the America that I hope will stand behind us dreamers.

  219. says

    The state of Florida is changing its stand-your-ground laws so that it will be even easier to shoot someone and get away with it:

    […] If the measure becomes law, the state would again be at the forefront of expanding self-defense laws. Florida would become the first state to apply a tougher standard to the law during the pretrial hearing. Under the measure, the burden of proof would be shifted to prosecutors and defendants would no longer have to present evidence, typically by taking the stand, to prove their claim of self-defense.

    Instead, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt — the highest legal standard — that the use of force was not justified. […]

    Prosecutors have fiercely opposed the measure, saying it runs counter to the traditional workings of the criminal justice system. Typically, when defendants seek the dismissal of charges at a hearing — arguing entrapment, for example — it is up to them to present evidence and persuade the court, not the other way around.

    The new standard would require prosecutors to essentially put on a nonjury mini-trial, requiring victims and witnesses to testify twice and delaying the actual trial, prosecutors said. And with defendants no longer required to offer evidence — which usually means taking the stand — there will be little, if any downside, for them to claim a Stand Your Ground defense.

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

  220. says

    Poor poor Geert.

    I really hope the exit polls prove accurate, because this is awesome (and I’m sick and grumpy and could use it right now). Also if correct, the Party for the Animals (mentioned @ #215) went from 2 to 5 seats.

    Very high turnout.

  221. Alex the Pretty Good says

    In my experience, exit polls in NL are usually quite accurate. They can be off by a few seats (so PVV could gain of loose 2 or 3 seats, as could the other number 2 polling parties or VVD) but the general story is normally on the money. And the general story today is that Wilders is NOT the largest faction; that his gain is smaller compared to the gain of other parties that profit of the fall of the governing parties and that the largest governing party clearly stays the largest.
    It makes a difference of course that with a coalition government a difference of one percent isn’t typically make-or-break.
    Also important is that the turn-out was significantly larger than last time… From 74% to over 80% . Clearly a lot of the voters did learn from Brexit and Trump that theorie vote dies make a difference.
    Also important … The total of Eurosceptic parties did not break the 20% barrier. This is a positive vote for cooperation.

  222. says

    The assault on the American auto industry, believe me, is over. It’s over. Not going to have it anymore. I kept my word […] followed through on my promise, and by the way many other promises.


  223. says

    In my experience, exit polls in NL are usually quite accurate. They can be off by a few seats (so PVV could gain of loose 2 or 3 seats, as could the other number 2 polling parties or VVD) but the general story is normally on the money.


    Also important is that the turn-out was significantly larger than last time… From 74% to over 80% . Clearly a lot of the voters did learn from Brexit and Trump that theorie vote dies make a difference.

    That’s also encouraging. It seems like rather than Brexit and Trump being the beginning of a far-Right wave sweeping across Europe, people are looking at them and like “Hard pass.”

  224. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Reuters is reporting that Dutch PM Rutte has a big lead over the rightists.

    The Netherlands’ center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte roundly saw off a challenge by anti-Islam, anti-EU Geert Wilders in an election on Wednesday, exit polls said, a huge relief to other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism.

    Rutte’s VVD Party was projected to win 31 of parliament’s 150 seats, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012, but ahead of Wilders who tied in second place with two other parties at 19 each, according to the polls by national broadcaster NOS based on interviews with voters.

    At 81 percent, turnout was the highest in 30 years in an election that was a test of whether the Dutch wanted to end decades of liberalism and choose a nationalist, nativist path by voting for Wilders and his promise to “de-Islamicise” the Netherlands and quit the European Union.

  225. says

    @336 – I’m so sick of people wanting to reel in the movement to expose Trump and his cronies. Just based on the facts we know he should be impeached and indicted, just based on the lies and the known ties. This isn’t debatable, he’s crooked, beholden to the Russians and there’s plenty of verified and corroborated evidence to prove it.

    That whole Buzzfeed article is basically one giant false equivalency. Typical conspiracy theorists go anomaly hunting, dismiss evidence that doesn’t fit their world view and make ridiculous leaps of logic to posit their harebrained theories. That is not what is happening with Russiagate. The only reason we don’t have “The Smoking Gun” yet, is that there is an ongoing investigation, with a lot of politics and maneuvering surrounding it.

    I don’t think there’s going to be a single smoking gun, it’s going to be a mountain of evidence that adds up to the big picture.

    By Buzzfeed logic, we should never ever investigate anything unless it falls in our laps our someone confesses ffs. We discussed that upthread with the Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair articles spouting the same bullshit.

    Sigh… I guess there’s always going to be those journalists who are afraid to commit and want to appear like Switzerland so that they come out smelling like a rose regardless of the outcome, but fuck them. This real, not a conspiracy theory, and it obvious!

  226. says

    I don’t think there’s going to be a single smoking gun, it’s going to be a mountain of evidence that adds up to the big picture.

    Right, and these articles can’t point to any actual people holding their breath for a smoking gun. What people want is a thorough, public investigation. And as you say, and he admits in the article, what we’ve already seen is sufficiently damning – if Trump were a Democrat he would already have been impeached – and suggestive of worse. We just need a public accounting.

  227. says

    SC @340, such good news! The hold is for 90 days. Trump shot himself in the foot when he was so obvious during the campaign about intending to ban Muslims.

  228. Saad says

    SC, #340

    Woohoo! “Judge In Hawaii Puts Trump’s Revised Federal Travel Ban On Hold”

    Oooh, I can’t wait for the tweets!

  229. Alex the Pretty Good says

    @SC, 343

    Unfortunately, he’s also rightist (but not far-Right like Wilders).

    VVD is right of center for the Netherlands but would probably be considered centrist or even left of center (especially on its social views) in the US from what I can see of all the discussion in the previous years here.
    I would’t be surprised to find out that on average, VVD policies fall to the left of 8 years President Obama.
    Also, VVD is (just like its former coalition partner PvdA) a strongly secular party, unlike the centrist Christian Democrats (CDA) who will become the kingmaker for either a possible center-right or a center-left coalition. So I wonder how the CDA will put a religious slant on policy in the coming years.

  230. says

    VVD is right of center for the Netherlands but would probably be considered centrist or even left of center (especially on its social views) in the US from what I can see of all the discussion in the previous years here.

    Thanks again. Yes, I have to remember the rightward warp in the US.

  231. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, Chris Hayes on MSNBC is showing The Donald, who appears to be totally oblivious to the fact that his decisions must follow the US Constitution.

  232. says

    Well, I’ll say one thing about listening to part of a Trump campaign rally: it reminds me afresh of how awful he is, how ignorant, how willing to mislead his followers.

  233. says

    Trump threatening to break up the the Ninth Circuit Court is going to hurt him when his lawyers have to defend Muslin ban 2.0 in front of the …. wait for it … the Ninth Circuit Court.

    That “lock her up” chant should come back to bite him, I hope. He has so many legal problems.

  234. says

    Update to #321 – Now Breitbart is going after McCain, calling him senile:

    “Breitbart is already attacking the McCain-Montenegro story by intimating McCain is ‘senile’. Expect a fake news onslaught about his health.”

    “This is bigger than Montenegro and NATO. Discrediting McCain is not only about Russia policy but also about silencing any GOP dissent.”

  235. Alex the Pretty Good says

    So with more than 50% of the results in, the Dutch election shows the samen picture as the exit polls. One extra seat (prognosis) for VVD and one less for Green Left. With more than 10 parties with enough votes to get at least one seat, “fractions of a seat” results will still cause minor shifts, but the general picture now stands: it will not be an easy coalition (probably 4 parties needed … Always messy) and though Wilders gained seats, he didn’t do so as much as the other medium-to-large parties and he still isn’t back at the highest score they had in 2010.

  236. KG says

    Final results of the Dutch election. I didn’t see the exit polls referred to above, but to judge by comments the main points remain, although perhaps slightly less good: Wilders’ PVV did come second, with 20 seats (a gain of 5), but three other parties gained more (CDA and D66, both centrist, and GroenLinks – Green Left – which gained more than any other party – 10 seats to take 14 altogether, not quite as many as some reent polls, but obviously a very good resul). PvA (Party for Animals) gained 3 seats for a total of 5. Both the parties of the current coalition lost seats – the VVD lost 8, the PvdA a disastrous 29, a good lesson for what happens to a supposedly leftish party that backs neoliberal “austerity” economic policies. However, the VVD is still clearly the largest party and will presumably cobble together some sort of coalition, excluding both the PVV and the left.

    I’m sure the failure of Wilders to come anywhere near his goal will be a great disappointment not only to racists and fascists everywhere, but to all the journalists and commenters who have been boosting the far right over the last months and years just because it “makes a good story” – and fuck those who would be on the sharp end of fascist oppression and violence.

  237. says

    Trump’s proposed budget in all its destructive glory. They want to cut Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels!

    Also LIHEAP (heating assistance for low income people), and cleanup efforts for the great lakes.

    Seems the rust belt is going to get hit hardest by this. Side note… one of the commenters at my link is disgustingly brazen about the typical Trump voter’s mindset:

    None of this affects me personally… go Trump

    – and no, she wasn’t trolling.

  238. says

    From Politico:

    Trump made a delayed appearance inside the packed Municipal Auditorium, where local speakers, country singers and bands warmed up the waiting crowd for about two hours. His remarks were written last minute, White House sources said. And backstage, White House officials traveling with him tried to cheer the president up by showing him remarks that Harvard University Law professor Alan Dershowitz made on Greta Van Susteren’s MSNBC show, arguing that the Supreme Court would never uphold the court’s ruling.

    All of the legal experts on CNN and MSNBC seem to think these judges’ decisions are misguided and weak and that Trump would win at the Supreme Court. I’m not a lawyer and they could well be right, but I’m not convinced by their argument about judicial deference to the president in these matters. There’s overwhelming evidence of religious animus in the intent behind the ban, and not only are they not providing any real national security justification but their own national security agencies’ analyses have concluded that it wouldn’t help and would indeed harm national security. I don’t think deference to irrational bigotry is in keeping with the courts’ duty to uphold the Constitution, as many past horrors testify.

  239. says

    @366 – The point Dershowitz made is that the justification given by the judge in HI means that the same EO made by any other president who didn’t have Trump’s history would be considered constitutional, and I can’t seem to find fault in that argument. The order itself is either constitutional or it isn’t. Legally it has to be considered on it’s own merits.

    I’m no lawyer either, but in my totally uneducated opinion I have the feeling SCOTUS might uphold it.

  240. says

    The point Dershowitz made is that the justification given by the judge in HI means that the same EO made by any other president who didn’t have Trump’s history would be considered constitutional, and I can’t seem to find fault in that argument. The order itself is either constitutional or it isn’t. Legally it has to be considered on it’s own merits.

    But like I said, and the judges so far have said, the record – not just Trump’s history but the history of the ban itself – offers clear evidence of religious animus, which is unconstitutional. Further, this appears to be the only intent; the national security justification is plainly retconned and undercut by their own analysis. I understand the point he’s making, but I think he’s leaving out key elements. (I have a personal anti-Dershowitz animus, but I’m trying to leave that to the side, especially because others I don’t necessarily dislike have made similar points.) He/they could well be right about the likelihood of a Supreme Court victory, but I think such a decision would be a betrayal of the Court’s constitutional obligation and of basic reasoning on the basis of the totality of the evidence. It wouldn’t be treating Trump or this ban differently, just recognizing the extensive evidence of discriminatory intent.

    The country already has a shameful history of immigration and internment policies of this sort – we don’t need another for kids to be reading about in history books a few decades from now (that’s assuming there will still be schools and reality-based history lessons…) and wondering what otherwise intelligent judges were thinking.

  241. says

    So the official McDonald’s account tweeted “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a president and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.” Matt Yglesias retweeted it and I saw it before it disappeared.

  242. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka As Sworn Member”:

    Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II, leaders of the organization have told the Forward.

    The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was established as a loyalist group by Admiral Miklos Horthy, who ruled Hungary as a staunch nationalist from 1920 to October 1944. A self-confessed anti-Semite, Horthy imposed restrictive Jewish laws prior to World War II and collaborated with Hitler during the conflict. His cooperation with the Nazi regime included the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews into Nazi hands.

    Gorka’s membership in the organization — if these Vitézi Rend leaders are correct, and if Gorka did not disclose this when he entered the United States as an immigrant — could have implications for his immigration status. The State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual specifies that members of the Vitézi Rend “are presumed to be inadmissible” to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act….

  243. says

    Follow-up to SC @364 and erik @365: For good measure, Trump’s budget cuts home-heating assistance funds. Poor, elderly, and disabled people he does not manage to starve may freeze to death in the winter.

  244. says

    I see rightwingers defending Trump’s budget by saying that the State Department will have less to do because Trump’s beefed up military will prevent wars.


  245. says

    As erik pointed out in 365, that cut to LIHEAP (heating assistance for low income people) is going to hurt people who are already hurting. It’s going to hurt people that Trump promised to help.

    To save money, I often turn my own heat down during the cool-to-cold months. It’s a hardship, but it is nothing like going without heat. A lack of heat also tends to ruin your living space in other ways. Pipes freeze and burst. People die when they try to heat one room by other means.

  246. says

    Trump defended his wiretapping claim, again.

    TUCKER CARLSON: On March 4th, 6:45 in the morning, you are down in Florida, and you tweet, “The former administration wiretapped me, surveilled me at Trump Tower during the last election.” How did you find out? You said “I just found out,” how did you learn that?

    TRUMP: I had been reading about things. I read in — I think it was January 20th, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term. I read other things. I watched your friend Bret Baier the day previous, where he was talking about certain, very complex sets of things happening, and wiretapping. I said “Wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about.” I have been seeing a lot of things. […]

    if you watched the Bret Baier and what he was saying, and what he was talking about and how he mentioned the word wiretap, you would feel very confident that you could mention the name. He mentioned it, and other people mentioned it.

    I would just like to point out that the New York Times did not write about President Obama wiretapping anyone. Even Bret Baier’s presentation did not support the claim that Obama wiretapped Trump.

    Also, Trump’s explanation is inadequate and clownish. He looked unstable and stupid during the interview.

    Media Matters link. You can view the video there without having to go to Fox News. More of the transcript is also presented at the link.

  247. Saad says

    SC, #370

    So the official McDonald’s account tweeted “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a president and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.” Matt Yglesias retweeted it and I saw it before it disappeared.

    It would be awesome if it wasn’t a hack and was just McDonald’s coming up with a way to troll the orange shitstain.

    This could be a thing. Like every couple of weeks, a different major company’s Twitter gets “hacked”.

  248. says

    Writing for Think Progress, Jessica Goldstein pointed out that rural and underserved communities will suffer the most if Trump is successful in cutting arts funding.

    […] Among the agencies that Trump hopes to eliminate entirely: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    What would that mean in practice? Those who stand to lose out here are not the coastal elites Trump loves to hate but Americans in rural and underserved communities. According to the Washington Post, “About 25 percent of NEA block-grant funds go to rural communities and 54 percent to low-income areas.”)

    The cuts would devastate local TV and radio stations in places where heaps of Trump voters live. As for the savings, well, the combined national budgets for the Center for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities account for “much less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending,” as the New York Times reported. […]

    From the Washington Post:

    Because the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has low overhead costs, it distributes almost all of the taxpayer money it receives, in the form of grants. From its $445 million appropriation in 2014, the corporation paid out $441.7 million, or 99.3 percent. The vast majority of that money, 90.3 percent, went to local stations in places such as Lawton, Okla., and Texarkana, Tex., not to PBS and NPR.

    Goldstein’s comments on the planned cuts for meals on wheels and for home-heating assistance:

    Many of the cuts Trump proposes in his budget, like the elimination of a program that makes sure low-income families can have heat in their homes and another that delivers meals and safety checks to senior citizens in need, are cruel but in character. They’re compassionless and shortsighted, with a particular malice toward the poor.

    An excerpt from Goldstein’s conclusion:

    Trump’s proposed budget cuts aren’t aimed at the likes of NBC — this isn’t so much a literal biting-of-the-hand-that-feeds as it is an insistence that people who can’t afford the arts neither deserve nor need access to them. […]

  249. says

    Yeah, Trump lied. And Trump misinterpreted an article published in the New York Times in January. Trump even misinterpreted a presentation on Fox News. All around Fail at all levels.

    Now we have a bipartisan statement from the Senate Intelligence Committee confirming that there is “no indication” that Trump Tower was under surveillance.

    The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that there is “no indication” Trump Tower was secretly surveilled during the presidential election, as President Donald Trump has claimed without evidence.

    “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) wrote in a statement.

    This reinforces the assessment House Intelligence Committee leaders made Wednesday. Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) and ranking member Adam Schiff (D-CA) agreed there is “no evidence” to support Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped during the final weeks of the 2016 race.

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have also said there is no indication that this alleged surveillance occurred.

    Talking Points Memo link

  250. says

    “Mike Flynn Worked for Several Russian Companies, Was Paid More Than $50,000, Documents Show”:

    President Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, was paid tens of thousands of dollars by Russian companies shortly before he became a formal adviser to the then-candidate, according to documents obtained by a congressional oversight committee that revealed business interests that hadn’t been previously known.

    Mr. Flynn was paid $11,250 each by a Russian air cargo company that had been suspended as a vendor to the United Nations following a corruption scandal, and by a Russian cybersecurity company that was then trying to expand its business with the U.S. government, according to the documents, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Those engagements took place in the summer and fall of 2015, a year after Mr. Flynn had been fired as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and while he continued to maintain a top-secret level security clearance.

    The new details about Mr. Flynn’s speaking engagements are contained in emails and documents provided to congress by his speaker’s bureau, which is called Leading Authorities, and shed light on a continuing inquiry into Mr. Flynn’s and other Trump associates’ ties to Moscow.

    While the documents from Mr. Flynn’s speaker’s bureau provide the most detail to date on his business dealings with Russia, they don’t show what other work he may have been doing outside his role as a paid speaker. Mr. Flynn commanded high fees for speaking on the state of global security and talking about his role as one of the most senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration.

    Little additional information has become public about other clients the former military intelligence chief’s private consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, may have had before the retired general’s appointment as national security adviser.

    In a letter sent Thursday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) to Mr. Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Mr. Comey, Mr. Cummings wrote that by taking the RT speaking fee, Mr. Flynn had “accepted funds from an instrument of the Russian government.”

    While Mr. Flynn’s speakers’ bureau acted as a middleman, email communications indicate that RT sought to orchestrate the event and the content of his remarks.

    In an earlier email in October, an RT official described the event as a networking opportunity for Mr. Flynn and an occasion to meet “political influencers from Russia and around the world.” At a gala dinner during the event, Mr. Flynn sat at the head table next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    It isn’t clear what Mr. Flynn said during speeches to the other two companies, computer security firm Kaspersky and Russian airliner Volga-Dnepr….

    “Mr. Flynn resigned under pressure in February after he failed to tell White House officials about phone calls he had with Mr. Kislyak…” Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

  251. says

    I’m sure this will come as a surprise to you: Mexico is not paying for Trump’s border wall.

    Mick Mulvaney confirmed that U.S. taxpayers are paying for the wall by noting that the funds are “coming out of the treasury.” That is another way of saying “from U.S. taxpayers.”

    The Trump administration proposes to kick-start construction of a border wall with $4.1 billion in spending through 2018, an official said Wednesday.

    Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the president would request $1.5 billion in a supplemental spending bill and $2.6 billion in his fiscal year 2018 budget…. Despite Trump’s repeated campaign promises, the administration does not expect Mexico to pay for the wall. “It’s coming out of the treasury,” Mulvaney said.

    Politico link

    Last night, at his surreal campaign rally, Chief Orange Dunderhead said that the border wall is “way ahead of schedule.” There is no schedule, not yet anyway. The money to start the project is planned for by Mick Mulvaney, but nobody has that money yet. No schedule. No money. No way to be “way ahead.”

    The $4.1 billion Mick Mulvaney is supposedly scaring up adds up to about 1/5th of the cost for the wall.

  252. says

    “Follow The Money, Donald Trump Edition”:

    There’s a very good story out today from Bloomberg chronicling the flow of money from the former Soviet Union into real estate ventures built by or licensed with the name of Donald Trump. In this case most of what we are talking about is not investment in projects or loans to fund them but the purchase of individual apartments units – though sometimes in bulk – in Trump branded or owned buildings….

    If you read the piece, the anecdotes follow a standard pattern. Fabulously wealthy immigrant or national from the former Soviet Union either sets up shop in a Trump property, purchases one or helps finance one…. They almost all seem to be under some kind of investigation for money laundering or mob ties. Usually they’re never charged. Sometimes they’re gunned down in mafia assassinations. As Trump himself might say, there’s something going on.

    There is only so much we can piece together without access to Trump’s internal business records. As I’ve noted before, the great bulk of what we do know about these ventures comes from lawsuits when things went south. (Much of what we know about Trump Soho comes to us that way.) What does seem clear though is that what began as Trump being a go to place for Russian and former Soviet Union money wanting to buy up individual apartment units and luxury homes was shifting in the middle of the last decade to much larger investments to fund the building projects themselves.

    Many people look at this arc of growing dependency on money from the former Soviet Union and look for that moment when Trump becomes so dependent on money from Russia that he’s forced to cut a deal with Vladimir Putin; or perhaps his business partners catch him in a compromising situation and then he’s owned by nefarious forces in Russia. I do not rule out the possibility that some less lurid version of one of these scenarios did happen. But what many of us see as the smoke, which must somewhere lead to fire, is actually the story itself. The smoke is the story! Or to put it differently, the deep business ties provide a compelling explanation and I think likely sufficient explanation of Trump’s persistent coziness and affection with top figures in Russia and Russian geopolitical interests.

    I don’t deny that we may eventually find a needle in this haystack. There are parts of the story which remain difficult to piece together based on what I’ve called this “innocent explanation.” There are so many sleazy characters, so many connections to figures in the Russian criminal underworld that I’m sure there are at least a few sub-needles there. But haystack itself is a very, very big story.

  253. says

    More details regarding the Education Department cuts that are proposed in Trump’s budget:

    Education would suffer deep cuts under Donald Trump’s budget—a total of $9.2 billion, equal to 13.5 percent of the Education Department’s budget. That would include cuts to programs that help disadvantaged students prepare for college, cuts to after-school and summer programs, and cuts to teacher preparation and training. But one thing isn’t just dodging the cuts, it’s getting a big pile of extra money. No surprise, it’s a terrible idea:

    Along with the cuts, among the steepest the agency has ever sustained, the administration is also proposing to shift $1.4 billion toward one of President Trump’s key priorities: Expanding charter schools, private-school vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public schools. His $59 billion education budget for 2018 would include an unprecedented federal investment in such “school choice” initiatives, signaling a push to reshape K-12 education in America.

    The president is proposing a $168 million increase for charter schools — 50 percent above the current level — and a new $250 million private-school choice program, which would probably provide vouchers for families to use at private or parochial schools.

    Daily Kos link</a<. Laura Clawson is the journalist.
    Sounds like the kind of cuts that will have negative effects for decades, if not more.

  254. says

    I think the link in 384 works, even though I borked the html code.

    In other news, here is an “oh, FFS” moment for today.

    Reddit and other rightwing sources for questionable conspiracy theories are blaming the latest judicial rulings against Trump’s Muslim ban 2.0 on … Obama. Of course they are.

    Hawaii Judge Derrick Kahala Watson graduated with Obama at Harvard Law in 1991. Obama was seen in Hawaii yesterday. Really makes you think.

    That’s from @TheDonaldReddit.

    This is from Freedom Daily:

    Ever since Trump became president, Obama has been massively butthurt, causing chaos and disruption whenever he gets half a chance. We are constantly hearing more and more about Obama’s malicious shadow government, as he heads up the anti-Trump resistance movement sweeping the nation. Now it appears as though Obama’s mysterious and unannounced trip to Hawaii earlier this week was all to drive the knife even further into President Trump’s back.

    Seemingly out of no where, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order Wednesday evening blocking Trump’s travel ban, dealing a massive blow to the President Trump that has Obama and all his little minions cheering. […]

    This is from InfoWars:

    A ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii that blocked President Donald Trump’s travel ban was announced less than 48 hours after Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Honolulu, leading some to speculate that the former president may have schemed with the judge he originally appointed. […]

    Eagle-eyed Reddit users noted that Obama had dinner at the Noi Thai restaurant, which is just minutes away from the courthouse and that Obama was, “likely within 5 minutes of the judge’s house at one point on the drive over.” […]

    Given that Obama appointed the judge, graduated in the same year as him and visited Honolulu and was within minutes of the judge less than 48 hours before Judge Watson made a major ruling that blocked Trump’s travel ban, it doesn’t take a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist to insinuate that the two could have met.

    Media Matters link.

    There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

  255. says

    On Fox News, Sean Hannity is now saying that the Hawaiian judge who approved the temporary restraining order on Trump’s Muslim ban 2.0 cannot be trusted because he supposedly did weed and blow with Obama in college. Sheesh!

  256. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Not exactly breaking news, but SC @ 389 reminds me of this. The background: back in the ’80s and early ’90s Virginia had a well-deserved reputation as the top source of guns for gun-runners up and down the east coast. Pretty much anyone could go into a gun store, buy as many guns as they liked, and do whatever they wanted with them. So back in ’93 VA did the unthinkable: it passed a simple, common-sense gun law that dried up the gun stream without unduly inconveniencing the 2nd Amendment crowd. The law limited purchases to one gun a month. Who could object, right? Even the fondliest gun fondler doesn’t have much use for more than twelve new guns a year.

    So where’s the connection to @389? Flash forward to 2013, with good ol’ gopper Bob McDonnell in office, and the gop in control of the state legislature. VA decides to repeal the law. As I recall, one of the arguments for repeal was that the program had been successful and gun running wasn’t a problem anymore.

    And so we’ve come full circle.

    The traffickers were caught on wiretaps. One was quoted by New York authorities as saying, “There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. I can do that Monday through Friday. They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.”

    Did I mention that VA is where the NRA is headquartered?

  257. blf says

    Al Jazeera confirms there has been an airstrike on a mosque (see @392), but at the moment is not calling who did it: USAnnihilate!Annihilate!Annihilate! or Russia being the two main suspects.

  258. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Damn, I’m getting so tired of rethugs only talking about money, instead of the effects of their decisions upon the poor/lower income people.

  259. tomh says

    @ 394
    You must be following Budget Director Mick Mulvaney who said Thursday that cutting funding to several anti-poverty programs is “one of the most compassionate things we can do.” According to Mulvaney, your problem is that you’re focusing on the recipients of the funding, rather than the ones who provide the funding. You know, the rich who have to pay taxes, they’re the ones who need compassion.

  260. militantagnostic says

    Lynna @375

    To save money, I often turn my own heat down during the cool-to-cold months. It’s a hardship, but it is nothing like going without heat. A lack of heat also tends to ruin your living space in other ways. Pipes freeze and burst. People die when they try to heat one room by other means.

    I don’t know about the other provinces, but in Alberta utilities can not shut off service for non-payment during the winter months.

  261. blf says

    [I]n Alberta utilities can not shut off service for non-payment during the winter months.

    There are similar laws in some European countries. And if I recall correctly, here in France, broadly speaking, an eviction cannot occur during the winter.

  262. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You know, the rich who have to pay taxes, they’re the ones who need compassion.

    Gee, that should include me who only on my IRA and income. I don’t need compassion. My compassion is for those who weren’t able to save due to life’s uncertainties. They need help, not me.

  263. says

    I don’t know about the other provinces, but in Alberta utilities can not shut off service for non-payment during the winter months.

    Here in New York state they can and most certainly do. I had mine almost shut off, caught the guy and made him wait while I called customer service because I had submitted the payment the day before but it hadn’t processed yet.

  264. says

    Gee, that should include me who only on my IRA and income. I don’t need compassion. My compassion is for those who weren’t able to save due to life’s uncertainties their own laziness or stupidity. They need help, not me to die off, survival of the fittest.

    FIFY – If I was a clueless, heartless rethuglican. That is not an exaggeration, it’s what they actually believe.

  265. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    FIFY – If I was a clueless, heartless rethuglican. That is not an exaggeration, it’s what they actually believe.

    I don’t disagree with your showing what heartless rethugs believe. And I have absolutely no agreement with them. Tax my retirement, as I still have to support those less fortunate than me. I’ll deal with it.

  266. says

    I don’t disagree with your showing what heartless rethugs believe. And I have absolutely no agreement with them. Tax my retirement, as I still have to support those less fortunate than me. I’ll deal with it.

    I make $37k a year, have no savings and a mountain of medical debt, and I still say take my tax dollars so long as they are well spent. Taking care of the least among us, that’s well spent. Roads, fire, police, protecting the environment, reigning in corrupt corporations, national defence, education (with equal access to it), investments in science and the arts, enforcing civil rights, protecting us from each other, engaging with the world in an effort to bring about peace and reduce suffering, that’s all money well spent…

    SC’s link at #392 isn’t.

  267. says

    I’m just going to leave this right here.

    I’m really interested in this community’s thoughts on that.

    My take, Ivanka knows the truth about dad but knows she can’t stop him, and is positioning herself to win back liberal favor. Who knows where that leads but she’s not thinking about her Dad’s reputation, she’s thinking about her own. I think she’d let him burn.

  268. says



    Rachel Maddow just reported that Schiff and Nunes sent a letter to the intelligence agencies demanding an answer on why Mike Flynn’s communications with Kislyak were recorded/preserved. The deadline is tomorrow. As she puts it, it’ll be a scandal whatever happens. A nonresponse to an oversight committee would be unprecedented. If he was illegally or mistakenly surveilled, that would be a scandal. And if he was the target of a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation, it would of course also be a scandal. I suppose they could do what Comey did with Feinstein and Grassley yesterday and meet in a SCIF to give information that can’t be shared…

  269. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m so glad Maddow is now talking about the cyberattack on the DCCC in 2016. I never understood why that didn’t get more attention.

    Looks like she’ll have to write a note to the interviewee’s babysitter. Go Racheal Go. Write that note…

  270. says

    Well, well, well. At least one reporter for a conservative website has a line he will not cross when it comes to telling lies and/or pushing batcrap crazy conspiracy theories.

    The congressional reporter for Independent Journal Review, the conservative website whose profile has risen during the Trump administration, quit on Thursday over disagreements with the website’s direction, […]

    Joe Perticone felt as though his credibility as a congressional reporter was damaged by the actions of other writers on the millennial-focused viral news site, people familiar with the situation said. Perticone removed reference to IJR from his Twitter profile on Thursday afternoon.

    The last straw, they said, was a post published earlier on Thursday connecting former President Barack Obama’s visit to Hawaii with a Hawaiian federal judge’s ruling against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. […]

    Politico link

    IJR later pulled the story off the website.

  271. says

    That was “Mostly False” hours ago, I know because I checked it. They are editing on the fly.

    I think they’re going to have to keep editing. It’s true that cutting MoW entirely isn’t part of the budget (although Mulvaney seemed fine with idea), which would be impossible because the program receives probably the majority of its funding from nongovernmental sources. However, the 3% figure isn’t correct. The nationwide network receives 35% of its funding through the Older Americans Act, which is administered through HHS. They also receive some funding through the Community Development Block Grant and/or other similar block grants.

    Cutting the CDBG would eliminate this source of funding for MoW (as well as harm or destroy many other valuable and needed programs that rely on this entirely). More to the point, though, the proposed budget calls for cutting HHS by almost 18%, which would very likely translate into significant cuts to OAA funds. This could potentially include cutting all OAA funds to MoW, depending on how the cuts play out; it’s certainly a legitimate concern, given Mulvaney’s attitude. So the threat of losing 35%+ of its funding is real, and would very much affect the organization’s ability to carry out its work.

    More broadly, an 18% cut to Health and Human Services – like cutting CDBG – would mean damaging cuts to, if not the elimination of, a good portion of programs with these sorts of missions. However the specific cuts were decided, it would make for a crueler, less compassionate, less hopeful, hungrier, sicker, lonelier, sadder country.

  272. says

    “US will ‘not repeat’ claims GCHQ wiretapped Donald Trump”:

    The US has agreed not to repeat claims the UK’s communications intelligence agency wiretapped Donald Trump in the weeks after he won the US election.

    GCHQ denied allegations made by the White House that it spied on Mr Trump as president-elect.

    No 10 has been assured the allegations would not be repeated, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

    He said it had been made clear to US authorities the claims were “ridiculous and should have been ignored”.

    It is unusual for GCHQ to comment directly on a report about its intelligence work, normally preferring to stick to the policy of neither confirming nor denying any activity.

    The phrase “utterly ridiculous” is also very unusual for the agency.

    But it’s a sign of just how seriously they take it. The allegations are so sensitive that the agency clearly felt they could not let them go unchallenged….

  273. says

    From Time:

    The NYPD said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s enormous slate of proposed budget cuts would take away “critical” funding the department uses to fight terrorism in New York.

    The cuts could impact everything from active-shooter training to intelligence analysis to bomb squad equipment, police said at a briefing with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday.

    “Under the president’s proposal, nearly all federal funding to the NYPD would be eradicated,” James P. O’Neill, the New York City police commissioner, said during the briefing. “This funding is absolutely critical. It is the backbone of our entire counter-terrorism apparatus.”…

    Trump’s proposed budget would cut counter-terrorism funding from the city where his wife and young child live.

  274. says

    Good. Action.

    Sign the National Petition to President Trump to Support the Arts in America.

    Following a tumultuous election, the arts community is asking what they can do. With so much change coming so quickly, arts advocates need to organize. We need to raise our collective and individual voices with precision and in a unified manner. The new Administration and Congress will swiftly pass their biggest legislative changes in the first 2 to 3 months of the new year. Please, we need to act now.

    That’s why the Arts Action Fund has developed this nationwide petition to President Trump to support the arts by taking specific pro-arts actions within his Administration. […] We are grateful to our state arts advocacy partners for helping to advance this grassroots campaign, as well as customized grasstops campaigns. […]

  275. says

    SC @418, I can imagine what they would say if Hillary Clinton did that.

    In other news, Ben Carson may not know that Trump’s proposed budget cuts the very programs Carson is praising:

    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was in Detroit yesterday, visiting one of the cabinet agency’s field offices, and visiting a local restaurant funded by the Motor City Match program, which as CNBC reported, “pairs businesses in Detroit with available real estate options” and “helps businesses locate and thrive in Detroit by providing competitive grants, loans and counseling to building owners and business owners.”

    Carson pointed to the program as “a wonderful example of community revitalization at work.”

    And while that may be true, Motor City Match receives federal funding through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program. As CNBC’s report added, under Donald Trump’s budget, the Community Development Block Grant program would be eliminated entirely. […]


    From NBC:

    Released Thursday, the budget calls for $6.2 billion of cuts to the nation’s Housing and Urban Development agency, putting the already strapped federal housing authority under even bigger strain. […]

    To slash an additional 1.1 billion from the HUD budget, Trump’s proposal eliminates the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity program, SHOP. The administration calls these “lower priority programs.”

    From Steve Benen:

    Mary Cunningham, co-director of the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Center, told NBC News, “The impact of this budget is there’s going to be more people who are homeless, who are living in substandard housing, or struggling to pay rent. This budget does not outline a plan to fix the inner cities – it does the opposite. It cuts money that cities rely on.”

    On the campaign trail, the Republican candidate routinely told largely white audiences, “Look at how much African-American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: what do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?”

  276. says

    Remember how excited team Trump was when a single large insurance company vaguely and mildly expressed support for Trumpcare/Ryancare? Well, there’s a back story that explains that mild support.

    From the New York Times:

    It turns out that one of the bill’s few high-profile fans may not even support it on the merits. Instead, Anthem appears to be providing political cover to the administration at the same time that company officials are lobbying the administration for a favorable decision on another matter. It’s pretty brazen.

    Here are the details: Anthem, which is based in Indiana, is already the largest insurer in California, Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere. Two years ago, its chief executive, Joseph Swedish, made a big bet. He decided to put public pressure on Cigna, another major insurer, to accept a merger. Eventually, Swedish succeeded, and Anthem agreed to pay $48 billion to buy its rival.

    But the Obama administration’s Justice Department filed suit against the merger, arguing that it would force consumers to pay higher prices. Last month, a federal judge agreed and blocked the merger. Cigna isn’t happy with the deal anymore either and has filed a $14 billion lawsuit against Anthem. None of it makes Swedish look good.

    From Steve Benen:

    Anthem executives were invited to a private meeting with Donald Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price this week, where the company was able to make the case for possible changes that would benefit itself.

    In other words, by expressing mild support for the GOP legislation, Anthem was rewarded with key access others haven’t received.

  277. says

    From the Washington Post:

    Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters. […]

    The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where 1 in 3 people are living paycheck to paycheck — a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.

  278. says

    SC @420. Scary. And not an example of good diplomacy from Tillerson.

    Trump is backing him up:

    North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!

    The tweet was posted at 7:07 AM this morning.

    In other news, there are 500,000 military veterans who rely on Meals on Wheels.

    In other, other news, Trump celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by reading an “Irish proverb” that is not Irish, its Nigerian. The display of Republican inability to use Google occurred during a welcome meeting for Ireland’s Prime Minister Edna Kenney, who was traveling with an Irish press pool. Both Pence and Trump looked and sounded foolish.

    The day began with a cringe-worthy, mildly offensive Irish cliche in front of a room-full of Irish people, and it all went downhill from there.

    “Top of the morning,” said Vice President Pence, as he hosted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at his residence for breakfast Thursday.

    Really? The reaction by Irish on social media was palpable.

    When Trump took the podium, he mispronounced Fionnuala, the name of the Prime Minister’s wife. Then Trump read from the poem “Remember to Forget” by poet Adam Alhassan, a Nigerian. This is a poem, not a proverb. It is not Irish, nor from Ireland, nor by anyone living in Ireland.

    Always remember to forget, 
    The things that make you sad, 
    But never forget to remember, 
    The things that make you glad.

    Always remember to forget, 
    The friends that proved untrue, 
    But never forget to remember, 
    Those that have stuck to you.

    Always remember to forget, 
    The trouble that passed away, 
    But never forget to remember, 
    The blessings that come each day.

    Always remember to do your duty, 
    And some kindness day by day, 
    But never forget to live a useful and happy life, 
    That is the only way.

  279. says

    Remember how excited team Trump was when a single large insurance company vaguely and mildly expressed support for Trumpcare/Ryancare? Well, there’s a back story that explains that mild support….

    So just like Aetna. They’re all just so evil and corrupt.

  280. says

    “AARP to Alert 38 Million Members How Their Members of Congress Vote on Health Bill”:

    AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond released the following statement today in response to the pending vote on the House bill that would create an “Age Tax,” weaken Medicare’s solvency, put at risk seniors’ ability to live independently as they age, and give sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies. In a letter sent to all 435 members of the House of Representatives, AARP maintained its strong opposition to this harmful bill and urged each Representative to vote ‘No’ on the proposed legislation. AARP believes this legislation will have a significant negative impact on the health of millions of older Americans ages 50 to 64, as well as other vulnerable groups, including poor seniors and disabled children and adults.

    “AARP recognizes the magnitude of the upcoming vote on this harmful legislation that creates an Age Tax, cuts the life of Medicare, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of health care or prescriptions. We intend on letting all 38 million of our members know exactly how their Representative voted. Our members care deeply about their health care and have told us repeatedly that they want to know where their elected officials stand. We will communicate the results of the House vote to our members and the public through The Bulletin, a print publication that goes to all of our members, as well as through emails, social media, and other communications channels.

    “This bill, if passed in its current form, will disproportionately hurt older adults between the ages of 50 and 64 by dramatically increasing insurance premiums to unaffordable rates. Allowing insurance companies to charge older adults an Age Tax 5 times or more than others for health insurance, and reducing tax credits to help pay for it, is quite simply unfair.

    “AARP is also concerned that this bill weakens the fiscal sustainability of Medicare, reduces cost-sharing help for out-of-pocket costs for 50- to 64-year-olds purchasing coverage on the individual insurance market, increases the number of uninsured Americans, and puts at risk the health and well-being of millions of poor seniors and disabled adults and children by capping funding for much needed services that allow individuals to live independently in their homes and communities.

    “We are also profoundly disappointed that the big drug and insurance companies were given sweetheart deals while nothing was done to lower the cost of health care or prescriptions. Congress must do more to bring down the unsustainably high health care and prescription drug costs for consumers and taxpayers.”

  281. says

    Follow-up to 424.

    From the Irish Times:

    In the midst the madness sat a silent Donald Trump and a fairly silent Enda, who was desperately trying to make small talk. But Trump just sat there like a sulky child, leaning forward in his seat, hands steepled between his knees, looking into the distance. He seemed bored.

    Disappointingly, Trump didn’t look as orange as we expected. More a shade of weak Fanta on the face with a pale tinge of cold porridge around the eyes. His hair is truly fascinating, blond and tufted along the parting like a Crolly doll.

    For what it’s worth, Enda has bigger hands.

    Say something. What about Ireland?

    “Love Ireland. I really love Ireland, yeah.”

    Will he visit? (You had to be there. The tension was only massive.)

    “I’ll be there, thank you.”

  282. says

    SC @425, yes, like Aetna. Makes you think that insurance company CEOs must all be scam artists and “deal makers” like Trump.

    In other news, the White House has an explanation for reading out loud in the press briefing room an accusation that Obama used GCHQ, Britain’s spy agency, to spy on Trump. They didn’t mean it that way. Oh, FFS.

    The White House statement said that Sean Spicer was ““simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.” Bullshit. Spicer used that report and others to back up Trump’s claim, and to say that it is obvious that the issue needs to be investigated.

  283. says

    [head-meet-desk moment]

    Before taking off for another long weekend of playing golf with his billionaire Cabinet members and the paying members of his private golf club, Trump squeezed in a press conference with recently confirmed Veterans Administration Secretary David Shulkin.

    Trump was touting a return to Mar-A-Lago, saying he was hosting a big meeting at his “Southern White House” to tackle veteran’s issues with billionaire Ike Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel Entertainment.

    One problem. He turned to the man in charge of Veterans Affairs and said, “So, are you going to be at that meeting?” Shulkin shakes his head no. No, the man in charge of Veterans Affairs apparently did not make the cut for the billionaire gathering at Mar-A-Lago to discuss Veterans Affairs. […]


  284. says

    The House of Representatives passed a bill that is likely to make it easier for veterans suffering from PTSD to kill themselves:

    On Thursday night, the House passed a bill allowing thousands of veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness” (i.e., blackouts) to buy guns — a measure could make America’s veteran suicide epidemic even worse, according to veteran advocates and mental health researchers.

    Currently, the VA refers the names of veterans who are deemed “mentally defective” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which blocks them from buying weapons. […]

    Think Progress link

  285. says

    Seth Meyers took a closer look at Trump’s recent failures. After a summary of recent failures, Meyers excoriates Trump for cutting federal funds for programs like Meals on Wheels.

    Meyers also covered Trump’s ridiculous attacks on the media.

    Scroll down for the video, which is 9:58 minutes long.

  286. says

    @431 – More evidence that the Bannon philosophy is one of mass genocide. I think he honestly believes that we need a culling of the weak, the poor, the un-american and the undesirables.

  287. says

    In the midst the madness sat a silent Donald Trump and a fairly silent Enda, who was desperately trying to make small talk. But Trump just sat there like a sulky child, leaning forward in his seat, hands steepled between his knees, looking into the distance. He seemed bored.

    And today, this.

  288. says

    blf @432, thanks for the correction.

    In other news, the White House is using an article that mocks Trump’s budget blueprint to raise funds. They didn’t realize that the article mocked them.

    On Friday, the White House blasted out an email that included headlines from and links to favorable news articles—it’s just that one of those links was to a satirical comedy piece written by Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri that mocks President Donald Trump’s new budget blueprint.

    Petri’s “analysis,” titled, “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why,” includes such lines as “AMERICA WILL BE STRONGER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN! Anyone who survives will be a gun covered in the fur of a rare mammal, capable of fighting disease with a single muscular flex. RAW POWER! HARD RAW POWER GRRRRRR HISSS POW!” […]


  289. says

    Follow-up to comment 436.

    Alexandra Petri responded:

    I am honored to finally be real, true news, which is all I’ve ever striven for. […]

    It goes to show that as long as you confirm what the Trump White House wants to believe, you too can be cited in an email—and you can even work for the mainstream media and do it! […] can’t stop laughing.

  290. blf says

    Follow-up to @392/@393, the attack on a mosque was by USAnnihilate!Annihilate!Annihilate! muppets, US admits Syria airstrike that killed 46 but denies targeting mosque. In fact, the muppets seem to think the mosque is still standing, “We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50ft (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing, said Col John J Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.” This is despite press and other observers reporting the destroyed building clearly was a mosque.

    And who deliberately attacks a building only a few metres away from a place known to contain civilians at a time when civilians are known to be in that place? Not muppets, terrorists…

  291. says

    Trevor Noah covered Geert Wilders’ defeat in the Dutch election.

    In a nice conclusion, Noah connects Wilders’s defeat to, in part, Trump’s manifest incompetence.

    The video is a about five minutes long.

  292. blf says

    I haven’t seen this explicitly mentioned yet, but apparently Mick Mulvaney wants to eliminate (subsidized?) school meals, claiming — falsely — There’s no demonstrable evidence [school meals] actually helping results, helping kids do better in school, ‘Outrageous’: expert slams White House for denying school meals’ link to learning: “Author of groundbreaking study of school meals’ impact on class achievement said proposed cuts to programs reflects ‘lack of knowledge or{…} dishonesty’.”

    The article points out the Orwellian-named School Nutrition Association (“which campaigns for lowered nutritional standards in children’s meals”) seems likely to have influence in the matter.

  293. blf says

    An article with barely-controlled anger (the British are really fuming abut the GCHQ accusation), White House–GCHQ row reveals a leader [sic] willing to alienate allies to save face, concludes:

    One option always available to the White House is to forthrightly concede Trump was wrong. It has shown no appetite for that. Instead, Trump and his allies have grasped for whatever explanation might keep alive an incendiary accusation [wires tapped] — one that is itself an unforced error — without regard for the relationships those explanations damage.

    Even now, with GCHQ and 10 Downing Street angry, the White House is stopping short of an apology. […]

    Trump, like all recent presidents [sic], will soon confront a major domestic or international crisis. It may be a mass shooting, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, a foreign threat, a military debacle. At that point, the US and the world will, as it does, look to the White House for a truthful account of what has happened, both to understand the US assessment of the danger and for reassurance. Yet Trump’s behavior has drained away the very credibility he attempts to preserve.

  294. says

    blf @441, I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone pointed out, using actual facts, that Mick Mulvaney was wrong. An “oh, FFS” moment for sure.

    Even if there were no studies showing that feeding children helps them do better in school, anyone with a working brain and some empathy would know that feeding children helps them do better overall.

    In other news, Trump’s proposed budget also fails to fulfill his promises related to investing in the nation’s infrastructure.

    […] Proposed cuts to transportation—including the call for the practical elimination of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program—signal misplaced priorities within the administration and raise real questions about how America’s mobility needs will be met.

    The popular White House talking point on infrastructure in this budget is placating. A message not to worry about infrastructure; it will be funded in the yet-to-be-written, poorly defined and less-than-popular-in-Congress $1 trillion infrastructure bill. In fact, it appears we’re sacrificing a successful program with demonstrable results for something that may or may not see the light of day. […]

    TIGER promotes innovative collaboration between jurisdictions and forces conversations about multimodal transportation. The program prioritizes projects that better integrate roads, rails and trails and consider the needs of all who use our transportation system. […] it has been wildly successful. […]

    […] Deaths among pedestrians and bicyclists, who now account for 18 percent of all traffic fatalities, rose more steeply over the past decade than any other category. TIGER is one example of a federal tool that is effective in building active transportation networks—trails, and biking and walking facilities—that make our transportation system safe for everyone who uses it, particularly those who don’t drive, including the young, the elderly and people with disabilities. […]

  295. says

    Trump is basing his support for the Republican health care plan largely on fear, on fear of impending disasters that are made up:

    […] ObamaCare is dead.

    I want people to know ObamaCare is dead; it’s a dead healthcare plan. […]

    Only because everyone knows it’s on its last, dying feet, the fake news is trying to say good things about it, the fake media. There is no good news about ObamaCare. ObamaCare is dead. […]

    The Hill link

  296. says

    An article with barely-controlled anger (the British are really fuming abut the GCHQ accusation),…

    I can only imagine their rage will grow after today’s press conference. During it, Trump blew it off, saying Spicer had merely cited a “very talented” Fox commentator (Napolitano, the 9/11 truther). Afterwards, Spicer told reporters he didn’t regret anything he said.

    (In response to a question about the false wiretapping claim, Trump turned to Merkel and said “As far as wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.”)

  297. says

    During it, Trump blew it off, saying Spicer had merely cited a “very talented” Fox commentator (Napolitano, the 9/11 truther).

    “…And so you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.”

  298. says

    An excerpt from what the prime minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, said while Trump was standing right there next to him:

    […] It’s fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy. He too of course was an immigrant. And though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe he’s also a symbol of — indeed the patron of — immigrants.

    Here in America, in your great country, 35 million people claim Irish heritage, and the Irish have contributed to the economic, social, political, and cultural life of this great country over the last 200 years. Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed.

    And four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America. We came and we became Americans. We lived the words of John F. Kennedy long before he uttered them: We asked not what America can do for us, but what we could do for America. And we still do. […]

  299. says

    SC @446, team Trump is never going to take responsibility for relying on untrustworthy “news” sources.

    Trump’s “blame somebody else” statement included another deflection from personal responsibility: “I didn’t make an opinion on it.”

    We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain, very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox. Okay?

  300. says

    Oh, FFS.

    “As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” he [Trump] said, gesturing to a visibly uncomfortable Merkel. The crowd laughed several seconds later.

    Trump, you buffoon, stop talking about the wiretapping story you made up in which you envision yourself being persecuted by President Obama.

  301. says

    Good video of Angela Merkel’s classic “what the fuck?” look can be viewed on Talking Points Memo.

    She did not laugh.

    I didn’t attack the journalists in the briefing who laughed when Spicer made the “joke” about the jobs numbers, because it seemed in many cases like a nervous laugh or an expression of surprise rather than a real laugh. But Merkel shows how it’s done. She basically rolled her eyes without having to roll her eyes.

  302. says

    To summarize, this is where we are when it comes to hypocrite Trump and spending taxpayer dollars:

    President Trump doesn’t want to spend federal dollars on after-school programs, meals for poor people, or heating assistance that helps keep folks alive.

    But he has no problem wasting more than $3 million a pop to spend weekends at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Trump has already made four trips there since becoming president on January 20, and on Friday he confirmed he’s headed there this weekend for the fifth time. […]


  303. says

    Follow-up to comment 454:

    […] after this weekend, Trump will have already spent about $16.5 million on trips to Mar-a-Lago. For that amount, Meals on Wheels could feed 5,967 seniors for a year and after school programs could feed 114,583 children for a year. […]

  304. says

    Shep Smith just read a statement from Fox News saying they couldn’t confirm Napolitano’s claims, and that they know “of no evidence of any kind that the now president [sic] of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.”

  305. says

    Don Jr. is helping to spread the myth that President Obama used British spies to spy on Daddy Trump:

    Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet by Alex Jones pushing the baseless claim that President Barack Obama “went outside” the chain of command “to spy on Trump” during the 2016 election with the help of the British government. […]

    Jones’ tweet linked to a March 14 Infowars piece with the headline “Judge Napolitano: Obama Used British Intelligence To Spy On Trump.” The unbylined article highlighted an appearance Napolitano made on Fox & Friends during which he said that “three intelligence sources told him if Obama asked an American agency for a wiretap on Trump, there would be a record of that request, but by using British agency GCHQ Obama avoided leaving any ‘fingerprints.’”


    Don Jr. is good at spreading baseless conspiracy theories.

  306. says

    From Patrick Healy of The New York Times:

    […] the real danger is that the White House is choosing to use a talking head, Judge Andrew Napolitano, on Fox News as some kind of, basically of evidence of wrongdoing […] Why are they trusting Judge Andrew Napolitano more than the FBI and more than James Comey? […] If they are going to make charges, again, against Great Britain for doing this, they need to provide evidence. […]

    The bottom line in this is very clear. The longer that the administration plays this game with words where the danger is coming up where they are basically making accusations out there and putting things out there that they can’t defend, credibility goes down. Credibility goes down. And, frankly, from at least the White House briefing podium, it’s all about credibility.

  307. blf says

    In the Onion, ‘Curses!’ Shouts Fist-Shaking Meals On Wheels Ringleader As Trump Cuts Off Gravy Train:

    Throwing President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal across the room in a fit of anger, James Scheri, ringleader of the Meals on Wheels America program, reportedly shook his fist in the air and shouted “Curses!” Thursday upon learning that his gravy train could soon be cut off. “Blast—my scheme has been found out!” said Scheri, his face growing red with rage after learning of the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate federal grants that fund his elaborate moneymaking swindle of delivering food to the homes of elderly and disabled Americans. […] At press time, Scheri was excitedly rubbing his hands together after realizing the government had yet to pick up on his secret racket to make billions through federal housing programs for homeless veterans.

  308. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Here’s the US attorney’s statement on the arrest. They have an almost comically strong case.

    I’ve seen much from criminal enforcement that if criminals weren’t stupid enough to brag about their crimes, nobody would ever be convicted….

  309. says

    As I expected, Nunes read the materials and just released a statement saying the agencies had satisfied the committee’s request for information about surveillance. But it’s classified information, so he couldn’t say anything about the content of the documents. Schiff hasn’t had a chance to read through them since when they were delivered he (along with several others) was already on his way to the airport.

  310. says

    This is an old article, but it illustrates why I think dems need to add abolishing the electoral college to the party platform. One person, one vote. Besides, it was proven this past election that the EC stands no chance of ever doing the job it was created to do in the first place, which is keep the presidency out of the hands of a charismatic madman who lacks the qualifications for the job.

  311. says

    Trump followed up on his awkward meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel by tweeting this:

    Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes…..

    …vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

    The man has no class.

    Trump had his daughter Ivanka sit in on a meeting with Merkel. Ivanka is not, officially, on the White House staff. What was she doing there? The White House is claiming that it was Merkel’s staff that asked Trump to set up a meeting with Ivanka. That might be a lie.

    […] During the session, Trump and Merkel talked with American and German executives and discussed how companies can better train workers.

    In his opening remarks, Trump said that “training our workforce for the 21st century” was a top priority, adding that “we want to make sure we have the workforce development programs we need to ensure these jobs are being filled by American workers.”

    Ivanka Trump, who recruited the American executives in attendance, guided the discussion. She praised her father’s “commitment to creating millions of jobs” and stressed the need for private investment, noting that “ingenuity, creativity often comes from the determination of the private sector.”

    The conversation was focused on vocational training and workforce development, not on the thornier issues of international trade. At the end of the session, Ivanka Trump said the executives would form a task force that will provide a report in three months detailing programs that could be expanded and ways the countries can work together. […]

    Japan Times link

    Jared Kushner was also at the meeting.

  312. says

    Are you ready for yet another stupid idea from team trump: air pollution doesn’t really kill people.

    […] There are, indeed, very few people who believe air pollution—specifically “fine particulate” pollution, or PM2.5—doesn’t cause death. Those who do, however, are getting louder and gaining influence in conservative political circles and inside President Donald Trump’s administration. These air-pollution deniers have just one hope: the repeal of clean-air regulations that have long protected Americans’ health.

    At last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during a little-noticed panel on climate change and environmental regulation, air pollution denial was rampant and went unchallenged. Steve Milloy, formerly a paid flack for the tobacco and fossil fuel industries and member of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, argued that excessive air pollution is not linked to premature death. “My particular interest is air pollution,” Milloy said, alleging that EPA’s scientists are inherently biased. “These people validate and rubber-stamp the EPA’s conclusion that air pollution kills people.” Milloy also said, baselessly, that EPA scientists are “paying for the science it wants,” and that Trump must change the research process at the agency.

    It is extensively proven, and widely accepted, that air pollution can harm humans, which is why the government regulates it. […] [PM2.5 particles] are currently regulated under the Clean Air Act, […] The CAA currently requires Congress to set what’s known as National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter.

    Even Breitbart, the alt-right media organization with close ties to Trump, seems to accept that air pollution is bad for human health. […]

    But, Breitbart has also provided a platform for those leading the charge for air pollution denial. Last year, it published a column by Milloy titled, “How stupid is air pollution ‘science’?” […] Breitbart columnist James Delingpole [wrote] “The EPA’s Air Pollution Scare Is Just Another Fake News Myth,” Delingpole took issue with the most recent State of Global Air report, which found that air pollution contributed to 4.2 million deaths in 2015, because the study was partly funded by the EPA—while conveniently ignoring that it was also funded by 23 car companies and Exxon Mobil. […]

    “Frankly, it’s full of stuff and nonsense,” said Janice Nolen, the assistant vice president of national policy at the American Lung Association, referring to Milloy’s fact sheet. “Particle pollution is one of the most researched topics in the scientific world, and has been reviewed extensively.”

    [Milloy’s claims are] the basis of a Republican-led bill currently being pushed through the House of Representatives. […]

    Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week undoing the Clean Power Plan, which regulates carbon emissions from fossil fuel plants. He is also considering withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the landmark international accord to stop global warming.

    Milloy and Delingpole surely would like air-pollution deniers to have a similar impact on national policy. Given Milloy’s closeness to Trump’s inner circle, […] these deniers have already succeeded in shaping—or rather, creating—a debate that no politician or scientist should rightly entertain. And that debate is now a public reality. Milloy’s “fact sheet,” for instance, is the first result in a Google search of “PM 2.5 science.” A legitimate scientific article is second.

  313. says

    Rightwing doofus, and the guy Trump praised vociferously during his press briefing with Angela Merkel, Andrew Napolitano, got his bogus claim that Obama used a British intelligence agency to spy on Trump from … wait for it … Russian media.

    The New York Times has confirmed that Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano sourced his false allegation that former President Barack Obama asked British intelligence to spy on President Donald Trump to a discredited former CIA analyst. This analyst, Larry C. Johnson, floated the conspiracy theory on the Russian state-sponsored news network RT on March 6, the week after Trump’s original accusation that Obama was responsible for an illegal wiretap.

    On March 13, Napolitano told hosts of Fox News’ Fox & Friends that Obama circumvented the American intelligence community to ask “the British spying agency” for “transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump” without “American fingerprints.” Napolitano’s claims were cited by White House press secretary Sean Spicer while defending Trump’s baseless claims that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.

    On March 14, Media Matters uncovered the link between Napolitano’s claims and an interview Johnson gave to RT. The New York Times confirmed Media Matters’ reporting that Napolitano used Johnson as “one of the sources” for his “claim about British intelligence.” The Times also noted Johnson’s direct involvement in spreading false rumors that video existed of Michelle Obama using a racial slur against white people. From the March 17 article:

    Mr. [Andrew] Napolitano’s unlikely leap into global politics can be explained by his friendship with Mr. Trump, whom he met with this year to discuss potential Supreme Court nominees. Mr. Napolitano also has a taste for conspiracy theories, which led him to Larry C. Johnson, a former intelligence officer best known for spreading a hoax about Michelle Obama.n[…]

    Mr. Johnson, who was himself once a Fox News contributor, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Napolitano called him on Friday and requested that he speak to The New York Times. Mr. Johnson said he was one of the sources for Mr. Napolitano’s claim about British intelligence. […]


    He might be one or two steps away from the inner circle, but Trump is still doing Russia’s bidding.

  314. says

    Joy Reid took the time to thoroughly debunk the Republican talking point that Obamacare is in a “death spiral.”

    The video is 16:16 minutes long. Reid covers a lot of issues related to health care. She had an expert panel to help her prove that the “death spiral” claim is false.

  315. says

    Joy Reid talked about the blatantly racist French novel, “The Camp of the Saints,” that rightwing leaders (including Steve Bannon) have referred to repeatedly.


    [Jan Mickelson speaking] If we don’t rear godly children to take our place, that vacuum will be filled by whatever washes up on our shore and makes a claim on our territory. Civilization has to be on purpose. […]

    [Steve King speaking] It has to be on purpose and I would recommend a book to your listeners, and the title of it is The Camp of the Saints.

    Kurt Eichenwald and other’s on the panel contributed to Joy’s discussion.

  316. says

    This is a follow-up to comment 471.

    […] The RT interview of [Larry C.] Johnson was picked up and disseminated by Breitbart, InfoWars, and Reddit sites, before it was appropriated as fact by the current occupant of the Oval Office, then used to by him to smear and discredit the British government, an action that has infuriated and alienated our closest strategic ally.

    I would guess that Vladimir Putin is laughing his ass off right now.


  317. says

    tales from the dark side II:

    I’m watching this idiot Gutsfeld on Fox. It’s republicans attempting to be funny, and failing. Failing so bad in fact that they have an obvious laugh track overdubbed on top of the sporadic applause they do get from their hand picked idiot audience. Nothing is ad-libbed, everything is scripted, and poorly.

    One skit was all about how bad it would be if kid rock had put a gun to obama’s head in a video (supposedly making fun of Snoop, and trying to equate the two)

    It’s really embarrassing.

  318. blf says

    The rise of the far right is, unfortunately, by no means limited to the USA, Russia and Europe.

    Indeed. As I’ve pointed out before, with the sole exception of France, all of the world’s nuclear weapons are currently controlled by authoritarians.

    Others have since pointed out that authoritarians tend to be paranoid and not-rational. A understandable suspicion is, therefore, one or more nuclear broadly-unconstrained “wars”, and the collapse of humanity.

  319. says

    On March 4, Trump tweeted that President Obama is a “Bad (or sick) guy!”

    And now, Trump tells Jesse Watters on Fox News, “He’s been very nice to me personally, but his people haven’t been nice. While he’s nice personally, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes, and that’s unfortunate.”

    Trump just says whatever the fuck, and he doesn’t care if he contradicts himself.

    To bring us up to date, Trump has offered no evidence for his claim that President Obama tapped his wires in Trump Tower.

  320. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Had AM Joy of MSNBC on this morning while doing some household chores. She had a congresscritter from the Georgia first district on to defend what she calls “Tryancare”. No doubt the congresscritter is a liberturd. He used buzz words like “free markets”, “choice”, “lower taxes”, and “debt reduction” religiously, and never could answer Joy’s question about how a 60 year old losing $8700 in subsidies under the ACA and making only $30,000 could afford to buy decent health care. Nothing but the non-sequitur buzzwords, and “those numbers are fake”. Not one ounce of compassion shown toward the people who would lose their health care.
    That segment isn’t up yet, and not sure it will be.

  321. says

    Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, described the seriousness of the situation well. It matters what that doofus Trump posts on Twitter:

    […] “What the President said was just patently false, and the wrecking ball it created now has banged into our British allies and our German allies,” Schiff said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

    He said that Trump “needs to put an end” to growing damage resulting from his claims.

    “I suspect what’s really at root here, Chuck, is this is just how the President does business. Now maybe this is the way he conducted his real estate business, with half-truths and sometimes no truths and a lot of bluster,” Schiff said. “That, in my opinion, is no way to run a business, but it’s an even worse way to run a country.” […]


  322. says

    Nerd @ 485. That was a good segment. Reid tried hard to hold the congress critter’s feet to the fire, but he stuck to his talking points like his life depended on it.

    It’s as if Republicans believe that constant repetition of those talking points will actually make it possible for a 60-year-old person who loses $8,700 in subsidies to buy health insurance.

    Repetition does not change the reality of the situation.

  323. says

    Typical response from a Trump follower who believes Trump’s wiretapping claims:

    If the president said it, if I were you, I would believe it because Trump is not going to say a thing that is not true.

    That’s Jesse Lee Peterson talking. Peterson is president and founder of BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny), a religious organization dedicated to “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.”

    BOND is recognized as a church by the Internal Revenue Service.

    From Right Wing Watch: “Peterson, a right-wing African American activist, has built an entire career out of calling African American Democrats racists while defending white people who are actually … you know … racist […]”


  324. microraptor says

    Lynna @484:

    Trump just says whatever the fuck, and he doesn’t care if he contradicts himself.

    It honestly looks like Trump may not have the memory or attention span necessary to tell when he contradicts himself.

  325. says

    Trump said he was going to holding meetings this weekend, that he was not going to be playing golf. But he is playing golf, for the tenth time in eight weeks.
    Daily Kos link.

    Meanwhile, other members of Trump’s family are flying to Aspen, Colorado for a ski vacation:

    The Trump family is expected to arrive in Aspen late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, along with about 100 Secret Service agents, a source said.

    “It’s a big gathering,” the source said.

    Another Aspen area law enforcement source said the Trump visitors to Aspen will include Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and their families. That source, however, said the number of agents in town will likely be quite a bit less than 100.

    Aspen Times link

    As far as we know, Trump’s proposed budget for other Americans includes a plan to stop sending federal funds to programs that deliver food to elderly, homebound citizens.

  326. says

    Writing for The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb analyzed Congressman Steve King’s recent racist comments. Cobb put those comments into a well-described historical context.

    In 1963, the historian Richard Hofstadter delivered a landmark address at Oxford University, titled “The Paranoid Style of American Politics.” […] Hofstadter argued that the hypertensive zeal and conspiracy-mongering that attended McCarthy’s anti-Communism was not a departure from the tradition of American liberalism but a regular feature embedded within it. At various points, movements bearing a familial resemblance to McCarthyism have assailed the hallucinatory menace of anarchists, Catholics, Freemasons, and, at the outset of the Republic, clandestine British loyalists. As Hoftstadter wrote:

    The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plot here and there in history but that they regard a “vast” or “gigantic” conspiracy as the motive force in historical events. History is a conspiracy, set in motion by demonic forces of almost transcendent power and what is felt to be needed to defeat it is not the usual methods of political give-and-take but an all-out crusade. […]

    […] the striking thing about the Trump era is not the clanging echoes of the past but the fact that they have sounded with such fidelity and symmetry. […] In short, that paranoid, racialist, xenophobic past seems to an amazing degree to have been superimposed upon the present. There is a sense that we are living inside some future history dissertation.

    For this and reasons like it, Congressman Steve King’s comments last weekend about the demographic future of the United States can’t be dismissed as the random Twitter ravings of a paranoiac […] King tweeted in support of the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders that “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t rebuild our civilization with someone else’s babies.” King defended himself from ensuing charges of racism by pointing out that his tweet said nothing about race. It didn’t have to: the phrase “someone else’s babies” did all the heavy lifting. The tweet, with an amazing degree of economy, channelled the racialist themes that figured prominently in the Trump insurgency last year.[…]

    The 2016 election would have looked familiar to Hofstadter in part because the conspiratorial and reactionary politics of the early twentieth century were driven by demographic fears of the exact sort King invoked.

    […] When King referenced “culture and demographics,” he was not talking about two distinct concerns but rather harking back to a tradition that saw the former as the invariable product of the latter. As the historian Matthew Guterl described Grant’s thinking, “the white Nordic working class needed to have its race-consciousness awakened if the greatness of America was to survive.” […]

    In the fifty-two years since the United States liberalized its immigration laws—which is to say, since it eliminated the most overtly racialist elements of immigration law—this kind of doomsaying has retained a certain underground currency. King’s sentiments are not unique or novel […] The only difference is a context in which he feels empowered to state those ideas in public. […]

    Read the complete article to see all of Cobb’s elegant argument.

  327. says

    Dear Paul Ryan, your desperation is showing.

    Now that many of Ryan’s Republican cohorts have criticized his health care plan, Ryan has finally admitted that he would be willing to make major changes.

    However, he wants those changes made immediately (within the next few days), and he refuses to postpone the vote on the bill in order to give the Congressional Budget Office time to reassess the bill after the new changes are made. Ryan insists that the House of Representatives will still vote on the bill on Thursday.

    Despite his effort to spin the last CBO report as positive, Ryan must be having nightmares about a report that showed that 14 million people would almost immediately lose their health insurance if his plan passed. And that was not the only downside to the ridiculous Republican health care plan tax break for rich people.

    Nancy Pelosi responded: “Republicans are terrified the American people will see the reality of their disastrous TrumpCare bill. If the GOP are afraid of the public having the facts about their bill, they shouldn’t be voting on it.”

    More information can be found at Think Progress.

  328. says

    Big day today. If I had any PTO I’d take the day off and watch the hearings live. Unfortunately I’ll be working and will only be able to watch sporadically. I’m looking forward to some good “live blogging” in this thread of the Comey hearings!

  329. says

    More about Republican villainy in health policy (see #226 above): “Republicans Are Crying About Obamacare Problems They Helped Create: They’ve been trying to undermine the health care program — and they have.”

    They’re also continuing to lie about the ACA, claiming the process was rushed and hidden, that Obama didn’t reach out to Republicans or ask for their ideas, and so on.

    Neera Tanden: “Every single false Republican criticism of Obamacare applies perfectly to Trumpcare.”

  330. says

    This interview with Bill Browder is interesting. Two significant passages:

    Jeff Schechtman: How does all of this continue to play out, Bill, in your opinion?

    Bill Browder: It’s very uncertain how it all plays out as far as Putin goes. Putin has got a very unstable situation, which is that Russia is in an economic crisis. People are getting poorer, people are dying young, there’s no medical care there, people are dying from drinking tainted alcohol because they drink bath gels to get drunk, all sorts of crazy stuff happening in Russia. As a result, people are grumbling and they’re angry and Putin has successfully created this image of himself as being a nationalist, he’s looking out for their interest, he’s fighting foreign enemies. But it’s one of those things that works up until the point that it doesn’t work. In other words, at some point in time, people may wake up and say why are we putting up with this guy who’s stealing everything, he’s making our lives miserable, I don’t believe a word he says. If you get enough people saying that at any spur of the moment, there’s nothing he can do. He could be overthrown by his people. He could also be overthrown by the people surrounding him; there could be a palace coup. Or he could end up like the president of Zimbabwe, Mugabe, who’s been there for 28 years. It’s really hard to say how it all plays itself out. One thing that we can say is that it’s a very brittle, very uncertain situation and the worse things get over there, the more totalitarian they get. I imagine that Russia is going to more and more close itself off from the West and become more and more North Korea-like as Putin desperately holds onto power to make sure that he doesn’t get overthrown.

    Jeff Schechtman: What is the best way in your view, for the rest of the world, for the west to deal with Russia at this point?

    Bill Browder: I don’t think it’s our place to overthrow him or not. It’s not our place and it’s not our ability to do that. What the West needs to do is understand that this man is an international menace, he intends nothing but bad things to happen to us in the West. It’s been proven that that’s how he is and so we need to contain him. This is a different type of Cold War situation, but one where we can’t let him make another further move in the West. And we have to stop all the stuff that he’s doing, which means we need a very strong military presence on NATO countries on the border. And we need to be doing big, big investigations into the money laundering of Russians in the Western banking system. And we need to freeze the assets of the oligarchs and ban their travel for the ones who are managing Putin’s money, which is a lot of them. If we did that stuff, we would completely clip his wings and he wouldn’t become an international menace, he would stop doing what he’s doing because the West is infinitely more powerful than him if we worked together.