Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. I don’t think this thread will run dry for a long time.


(Previous thread)


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Finally watching AM Joy from the morning (recorded). A rethug is lying his his ass off on coverage versus cost to me.
    Did the asshole ask me if the cost, in taxes, of medicaid, was worth it? NO! Fuck him and his idiotology. I am facing this problem, where my father, at 88 years old, is facing having to be on medicaid to pay his bills for nursing home costs, after what SSA and Medicare pays, after his savings run out.
    What fucking assholes they are for even thinking they they have a plan….

  2. KG says

    In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries [Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain] demand [Qatar close al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran, sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and end] Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. = blf@555 quoting The Grauniad.

    Dealing with a serious falling-out between important allies is surely one of the most difficult parts of diplomacy. On a scale of 0 to 100, how prepared is President Donald J. Trump to handle such a situation? (Turkey backing Qatar makes things even more difficult. without that, the USA would probably be best off siding with the blockaders, and even removing Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir, as quietly as possible.)

  3. KG says

    Re #2: Sorry: the current Emir of Qatar is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, son of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. And@555 should be @455.

  4. says

    Trump is still mouthing off about the Democratic Party primary:

    Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!

    He sent that tweet at 6:00 AM today.

  5. says

    A poll showed that just 38% of U.S. voters know that TrumpCare cuts Medicaid. Part of the reason for this lack of knowledge is that Trump’s advisors are on TV constantly repeating the lie that TrumpCare does not cut Medicaid:

    The Senate health care bill makes massive cuts to Medicaid. But you wouldn’t know that just from listening to Trump administration officials on the Sunday shows.

    “These are not cuts to Medicaid, George,” Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

    “It just wouldn’t happen,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told CNN’s Dana Bash when asked about Republican concerns over Medicaid cuts.

    “Nobody will fall through the cracks,” Price said on Fox News Sunday when asked about the Medicaid coverage gap. […]

    […] most Americans don’t know the House-passed bill would make significant cuts to Medicaid. […]Those cuts are even deeper in the Senate version, experts say, and media appearances like these make it less surprising that the public isn’t aware of the drastic changes the legislation would introduce.

    The Senate bill’s main advocate and author, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), actually tried to argue that the bill will strengthen Medicaid when he introduced it last Thursday on the Senate floor. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) argued on CBS’ Face the Nation that the bill would “make permanent” Medicaid expansion and also said “no one loses coverage.”

    The bill would in fact massively cut Medicaid, threatening to completely phase out the program as we currently know it. The legislation would roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, starting in four short years. It would also make deeper cuts to Medicaid by placing “per capita caps” on the program such that states will receive only a set amount of money for each recipient, no matter how much their care actually costs.

    Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicaid in the Obama administration, said on Twitter that “the main event in the Senate bill is the destruction of Medicaid,” characterizing it as “far, far worse than even the House bill.” And the House bill, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, would leave 23 million more people without coverage. […]

    “This bill has even more Medicaid cuts than the House bill,” said ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “Why is the president going back on his promise?”

    “These are not cuts to Medicaid, George,” she replied. “It slows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars, because they’re closest to the people in need. Medicaid’s imperative. Its founding was meant to help the poor, the sick, the needy, disabled, children, some elderly, women, particularly pregnant women. We are trying to get Medicaid back to its original mores.” […]

    Not only does this show a fundamental misunderstanding of how people get health insurance, but Conway says that the White House does not see the cuts they wish to make as cuts. […]


  6. says

    Gerrymandering is a way to cheat when it comes to electing officials to serve in government. The Associated Press published an analysis today that confirms that gerrymandering gave Republicans an advantage in House elections and in state-level elections.


    […] The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

    The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

    Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

    The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one. […]

    […] the data suggest that even if Democrats had turned out in larger numbers, their chances of substantial legislative gains were limited by gerrymandering. […]

    If partisan gerrymandering “goes unchecked, it’s going to be worse — no matter who’s in charge,” said Sam Wang, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. […]

  7. says

    Trump spouted some more bullshit on Fox and Friends this morning. some of the bullshit contradicted some of the other bullshit. Some of the bullshit was blatantly hypocritical.

    […] Trump decried “the level of hostility” Democrats show him and suggested their new theme should be “let’s get together.” […]

    [Then he proceeded to insult Elizabeth Warren.] “I call her Pocahontas,” Trump said, “and that’s an insult to Pocahontas.” […]

    Trump went on to describe himself in laudatory terms and to decry the “hostility” coming from the Democratic Party.

    I’m open arms, but I don’t see that happening [a reference to his advise that Democrats resist fake news media, resist deep state leaks, and get together with Republicans].

    They fight each other. The level of hostility. […] It’s been like this for years. You’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s been like that for a long time. But the level of hostility — as an example, the health care bill that you are reporting on and that everybody’s reporting on, it would be so great if the Democrats and Republicans could get together, wrap their arms around it, and come up with something that everybody’s happy with. It’s so easy, but we won’t get one Democrat vote. Not one. If we had the greatest bill ever proposed in mankind, we wouldn’t get a vote. And that’s a terrible thing. Their theme is resist. I’ve never heard of anything like this.

  8. says

    From Hunter, writing for Daily Kos:

    […] There may be an argument to be had in how much government ought to do to ensure health coverage for citizens; we aren’t having it. There may be a number of deaths that may be considered acceptable in order to give an “economy-boosting” tax cut; no such number has been presented.

    There has been no debate on what happens to poor Americans with diabetes or cancer. There has been no debate on how Americans almost but not yet at Medicare age are supposed to cope with rate increases that could range up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

    There is no argument being made, period. The public is told that there are no cuts, there will be no loss of services, there will be no price increases, there will be no harm to those with preexisting conditions, or those that lose their jobs and cannot afford continued coverage, […]

    And you cannot blame that on Trump, or on the public, or even on the media. The Republican Party as a whole has adopted intentional misinformation—that is, propaganda—as their prime vehicle for selling policies that directly damage the public. It was their choice.

  9. says

    A lot of people on the right were upset with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren when they pointed out that if the Republican health care plan passes, people will die. Sanders said, “Let us be clear and this is not trying to be overly dramatic: Thousands of people will die if the Republican health care bill becomes law.”

    As noted earlier on this thread, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.”

    Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, snarked, “The brief time when we were not accusing those we disagree with of murder was nice while it lasted.” Hatch was referring to the camaraderie that was evident after Steve Scalise was shot.

    The problem for Republicans is that Sanders, Clinton, and other democrats are right. A lot of health care professionals are backing them up:

    “There has never been a rollback of basic services to Americans like this ever in U.S. history,” said Bruce Siegel, president of America’s Essential Hospitals, a coalition of about 300 hospitals that treat a large share of low-income patients. “Let’s not mince words. This bill will close hospitals. It will hammer rural hospitals, it will close nursing homes. It will lead to disabled children not getting services…. People will die.”

    Quoted text is from the Washington Post.

    Atul Gawande said, “The bottom line is that if you’re passing a bill that cuts $1.2 trillion in taxes that have paid for health care coverage, there’s almost no way that does not end up terminating insurance for large numbers of people. If you are doing that, then there’s clear evidence that you will be harming people. You will be hurting their access to care. You will be harming their health — their physical health and mental health. There will be deaths. As a doctor, I find this unconscionable.”

    Surprisingly, some Republicans, Trump included, think that these and other protests against the Republican health care bill should not carry that much weight because they are coming from people who did not vote for Republicans. First of all, that’s wrong. A lot of Republican voters are critical of the bill. And, fundamentally, it is wrong for the President and for elected officials to presume that they only represent the people who voted for them.

    Vox’s Sarah Kliff attended an event last week and heard a candid remark from an unnamed Republican member of Congress.

    “The way I look at is there is no question we’re getting inundated with calls and emails and protests. There is all this energy and anger on the left. The people who lost are the ones who are angry. We won the entire elected government. So I remind my staff after a long day of hostile calls, it was less than six months we got more votes than a person on the other side in [my state]. The people who voted for me are still out there.” […]

    At a White House press conference in March, the president acknowledged the progressive activists who’ve taken to the streets to condemn his agenda, but Trump dismissed their relevance.

    “I mean, they fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there,” Trump said, referring to GOP lawmakers who received earfuls at town-hall events, “but they’re not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.”

    In other words, “Republican people” count, and others don’t. “Republican people” deserve to be represented on Capitol Hill, and everyone else deserves to be disregarded. […]


  10. says

    Another display of ignorance from Trump:

    Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that. The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election…. It’s an amazing thing. To me — in other words, the question is, if he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.

    The quote if from an interview on Fox News.

    The Obama administration did something. They imposed new sanctions on Russia and they kicked some Russians out of the country. Also, Obama spoke personally to Putin asking him to stop the intrusions in the election process.

    Last week, Trump again denied that Russian intervention in the election even existed. As he has done before, Trump dismissed the allegations as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats. Now he says Russia did interfere and that Obama did nothing. Incoherent much?

    Also, did Trump forget that he was briefed on the Russian interference even before he took office?

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump used to argue that Russia didn’t interfere in the election; then he argued that Russia may have interfered, but it didn’t matter; then he argued that it may have mattered, but the Trump campaign didn’t cooperate with the Russian crimes; then he went back to saying Russia didn’t intervene at all, only to say a few days later that Russia did intervene, and Obama deserves the blame.

    […] if Trump is going to blame Obama and his team for not responding aggressively enough, he might also want to have a chat with congressional Republican leaders – who were notified and who refused to take the matter seriously.

    […] why in the world has Trump taken no action in response to the intervention he now admits happened?

    And finally, for all the love of all that is good in the world, why is Trump saying he “just heard today” about this “for the first time”? Sure, the amateur president has a steep learning curve, and he appears to struggle to keep up with current events. But Americans have known for a while about the Obama White House’s challenges in responding to the Russian attack last year. Unless he daydreamed through every intelligence briefing he’s received, Trump has been notified about the details more than once, and didn’t need the Washington Post’s reporting to shed light on the subject.

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard Trump say he’s “just” learned something the rest of us have known for months. Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the president resembles a low-information voter, there’s a problem.


  11. says

    More of Trump’s childish blame-Obama tweets:

    The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win

    …and did not want to “rock the boat.” He didn’t “choke,” he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good.

    The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia…

    ..under a magnifying glass, they have zero “tapes” of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!

  12. says

    On the Sunday ABC show “This Week” Kellyanne Conway was interviewed. You know this is going to be bad, right?

    Obamacare took Medicaid, which was designed to help the poor, the needy, the sick, disabled, also children and pregnant women, it took it and went way above the poverty line to many able-bodied Americans. [They] should probably find other — at least see if there are other options for them.

    If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do.

    Umm, dear Kellyanne, the majority of people on Medicaid who can work do work. They work in jobs that pay low salaries and offer no healthcare benefit packages.

    Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears that out: “Among Medicaid adults (including parents and childless adults — the group targeted by the Medicaid expansion) nearly 8 in 10 live in working families, and a majority are working themselves.” Fifty-nine percent of them work either part or full time. Their jobs, however, do not offer health insurance.

    Those people do not get paid a six-figure salary to lie and to refuse to learn the facts … unlike Kellyanne Conway.

  13. says

    The Supreme Court is sort-of, kind-of, a-little-bit letting Trump’s Muslim ban take effect.

    The ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries can apply for now to everyone except people who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” the justices said in an unsigned opinion.

    That includes people visiting a close family member, students who have been admitted to a university or workers who have accepted an employment offer, the court said. But the court said people can’t avoid the travel ban by entering into a relationship solely to enter the U.S.

    The stays put in place by two appeals courts have been partially lifted. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case this fall.

    In the meantime, Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch are on record as recommending that the stay be lifted completely.

    The parts of the ban that have been allowed to proceed will take effect in 72 hours.



  14. KG says

    The Tories and DUP have signed an agreement aimed at keeping the May regime in power. I think they’ve spent the time haggling about the size of the pork barrel, settling on £1bn. The DUP promise to support the Government in all Brexit and security legislation as well as votes of confidence and supply (tax raising). The promise on Brexit is interesting – I wonder if there have been some private assurances to the DUP about the priority that will be given to keeping an open border with the Republic of Ireland. The promise on “Security” is ominous: both May and the DUP are instinctive authoritarians, and they’ve just had a nice cluster of terrorist attacks* to motivate new surveillance powers.

    *To give credit where it’s due, the attack on Muslims leaving a the Finsbury Park Mosque (in which one man died and several people were injured) was quickly labelled a terrorist attack by police and government spokespeople. On the other hnd, we have been informed that the attacker on that occasion was “not racist”. Well OK, he had just been sounding off about Muslims, and he did follow far right tweeters linked to “Britain Frist”, but he wasn’t racist!

  15. KG says

    Further to #15, i should make clear that it’s the family of the Finsbury Park attacker who assure us he’s “not racist”, but this claim has been reported uncritically in the media.

  16. says

    Justice Neil Gorsuch is showing his true colors when it comes to LGBTQ rights … he’s against them, or at least he places the right of Christians to discriminate against LGBTQ people at the top of his priority list. Mike Pence must be so happy.

    […] The Supreme Court took two actions Monday morning that provide a fairly clear window into how Gorsuch will handle claims alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    First, the Court announced that it will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case brought by a baker who claims that religion gives anti-LGBTQ business owners the right to ignore civil rights laws.

    We cannot know for sure whether Gorsuch voted to take up this case — but it is notable that the Court decided not to consider this issue when Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive. Gorsuch now occupies Scalia’s seat.

    Second, the Court reversed an Arkansas Supreme Court decision permitting the state to engage in a subtle form of discrimination against same-sex couples. [Good] Gorsuch criticized the majority’s decision striking down Arkansas’s practice, relying on a narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. [Bad, very bad.]

    Pavan v. Smith involved an unusual Arkansas law providing that, when a child is born to woman married to a man, “[i]f the mother was married at the time of either conception or birth . . . the name of [her] husband shall be entered on the certificate as the father of the child.” But under this law, when a child is born to someone in a same-sex marriage, the state does not automatically list the mother’s spouse as a co-parent.

    For example, if a woman in an opposite-sex couple is artificially inseminated, her husband will be listed as the child’s parent. But if a lesbian woman is artificially inseminated, her wife will not automatically be listed as the child’s parent. […]

    Gorsuch’s dissent […] suggests that the Arkansas regime can be justified because it “establishes a set of rules designed to ensure that the biological parents of a child are listed on the child’s birth certificate.”

    However, the Arkansas rule applies even to married opposite-sex couples even if the couple is fully aware that the mother’s husband is not the child’s biological father.

    Notably, even Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented in Obergefell, joined the majority in Pavan.

    Taken together, these two cases suggest Gorsuch will join the Court’s rightmost faction in matters relating to LGBTQ rights.


  17. says

    This is kind of, sort of good news. It’s bad that rightwing doofuses are still holding rallies in Washington DC, but it is very good news that almost no one showed up.

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    Two different bunches of far-right morons had competing rallies in Washington DC to protest how white people and wingnuts have it so rough these days, and maybe a hundred people showed up. In total, at both, combined, by Newsweek’s estimate. […]

    Why two rallies? Well, you got your “Freedom of Speech Rally” at the Lincoln Memorial, where your open white-supremacist morons showed up, […] plus a bunch of assorted creeps who warned of Jewish control of the media and how diversity is another word for anti-white. […]

    The other rally, in Lafayette Park, near the White House, was organized by Pizzagate True Believer Jack Posobiec, who was very, very offended that the openly racist “alt-right” loons were making decent, upstanding “alt-right” loons like him look bad.

    The supposed purpose of the Lafayette Park rally was to decry all the violence from the Left, like how the actors in Julius Caesar shot Steve Scalise. […] at that rally was failed Virginia Republican candidate for governor Corey Stewart, who ran on a platform of protecting Confederate flags and monuments, which is clearly a high priority for any governor. […]

    Posobiec thought his rally, which also featured one-man conspiracy-theory factory Mike Cernovich and a reporter from the Gateway Pundit, was a huge success […]

    The split between the hardcore racists and the schmucks who prefer weirdass conspiracy theories with no Hitler salutes is an outgrowth of their fuck-tussle shortly before Trump’s inauguration, when Cernovich wouldn’t let Tim Gionet (“Baked Alaska”) attend the “DeploraBall” because of all that Nazi stuff. So Gionet and the other overt white supremacists at the Lincoln Memorial gathering were really glad the fakers and cucks went off and had their own rally. Spencer derided the competing event as the “Alt Lite,” called the organizers “these fairly repulsive and creepy” rightwing media guys, and complained those other guys were dumb:

    “I think a lot of those people are really against intelligent people,” Spencer said […] “If you’re a total goofball or someone who has no connection with the facts and reality, it’s like ‘ok you’re fucking based.’ They’re all just bad human beings. So many of them are just physically ugly people.”

    He claimed that the divergent events on Sunday were actually helpful for the alt-right because it helped determine who to essentially weed out from the movement. […]

  18. says

    Josh Voorhees a closer look at the revelations surrounding Jared Kushner’s shady financial deals:

    […] a $285 million loan Jared Kushner’s family business, Kushner Companies, received from Deutsche Bank the month before the 2016 election. […]

    The loan came as the German bank was in the midst of negotiating settlements with the U.S. Justice Department over a mortgage fraud case, and with New York state regulators on charges related to an apparent Russian money-laundering scheme. (The bank agreed to pay a $7.2 billion federal penalty in December to settle the former, and a $425 million state fine the next month tied to the latter. The feds, however, are reportedly not done investigating the money-laundering case.)

    Kushner did not list the Deutsche corporate loan—or his own personal guarantee of it—on the financial disclosure form he filed with the Office of Government Ethics after joining the Trump administration as a senior adviser.

    The loan was part of a refinancing package for Kushner-owned retail space in the former New York Times building in Manhattan. Kushner Companies purchased said space in 2015 from a company called Africa-Israel Investments, the chairman of which was/is Lev Leviev, an Uzbek-born Israeli citizen […]

    Leviev told the New York Times in 2007, shortly after his company bought the property from its previous owner, that he was a “true friend” of Vladimir Putin. […]

    Leviev invited Trump in 2008 to a meeting at one of his New York properties, an invitation he says Trump accepted. The Russian press reported at the time that Leviev hoped to work with Trump on real estate deals in Moscow. […]

    It’s pretty easy to make the case that the Deutsche Bank loan presents a conflict of interest. Kushner, the first son-in-law and powerful White House adviser, has an existing financial relationship with one of the world’s largest banks (as does Trump), which is said to be under investigation by Trump’s DOJ and which generally operates in a marketplace where U.S. regulations can dictate its bottom line. […]

    The timing of the Deutsche loan certainly looks sketchy—but it’s not automatically damning. […] The fact Trump looked like such a long shot when the deal was finalized makes the case that the loan was politically motivated by either party considerably more difficult to prove without further evidence.

    […] Kushner’s lawyers told the Post that the agency’s own guidance didn’t technically require their client to disclose a loan like this one. Keeping it off his filing likely violated the spirit of the law, as one former OGE lawyer suggested it did to the Post, but Kushner appears to have an argument that he followed the letter of it. […]

    […] this story illustrates just how Herculean of a task Mueller has been given. He’s said to be currently looking into Kushner and his financial history as a part of a broader investigation into Russian meddling in the general election. […]

    Ultimately, Mueller reports to Trump’s DOJ, which means that if he does find the goods on Trump or one of his associates, he’ll almost certainly need the backing of Congress to take action. But as long as Republicans control the legislative branch, they won’t feel pressure to break with their president until their constituents turn on him first. […]

    Slate link

  19. tomh says

    From a survey at Detox.net, tracking what people would give up alcohol for, over 73 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of Republicans would give up alcohol forever if it meant President Trump would be impeached tomorrow.

    On the other hand, nearly 31 percent of Republicans would give up drinking if it meant the media stopped writing negative things about the president.

  20. blf says

    Three-quarters of world has little or no confidence in Trump, Pew study finds:

    ● Support for US president [sic] now below that of George Bush following Iraq invasion
    ● Israel and Russia have faith in Trump — not so European allies

    More than three-quarters of the world has little or no confidence in Donald Trump’s global leadership [sic] and his signature policies, with support for the American presidency [sic] collapsing fastest among America’s traditional allies in Europe, according to new polling by the Pew Research Center.

    In many countries, support for the US president [sic] is now below that of George Bush in 2004, following the Iraq invasion. Globally, two-thirds of respondents describe Trump as “arrogant and dangerous”.

    The research conducted across 37 countries shows a median of 22% have some or a great deal of confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. Almost three-quarters (74%) have little to no confidence in the Republican leader.

    By contrast, in the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.


    For the first time in Pew research history, most Canadians no longer regard America as a force for good in the world.

    Just 43% of Canadians have a positive view of their neighbour.


    [… J]ust 6% of Germans said they believed Trump was qualified to be president; 13% believe he cares about ordinary people; and 91% regard him as arrogant, 81% as intolerant, and 76% as dangerous.

    In the UK, 89% see him as arrogant, 77% as intolerant and 69% as dangerous. Globally, 65% think Trump is intolerant and 62% that he is dangerous.


  21. says

    This statement from the White House makes it sound like Trump is getting ready to fire more cruise missiles into Syria:

    The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.

    As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.

    Several Pentagon sources, when questioned by reporters, said they didn’t know what the White House was referring to. Other sources also had no idea:

    […] NBC News had a similar report, citing defense, military, and intelligence officials who were “caught off guard by the White House statement.” One responded, “I don’t know what the [White House] statement is.”

    Often these kinds of statements are accompanied by some kind of press briefing, in which supporting information is presented to reporters, but there was no such effort last night.

    At least so far this morning, Donald Trump published a variety of tweets, nearly all of which promoted Fox News, and none of which referenced his White House’s warning to Syria about chemical weapons. […]

    This is the challenge of Americans having a president whose word isn’t reliable. Trump’s track record of brazenly lying, about matters large and small, is well documented, and the result is a dangerous crisis of credibility.

    We shouldn’t have conditions in which a White House issues a public warning about a possible chemical-weapons attack, and Americans have no idea whether to believe the warning or not. And yet, here we are.


  22. says

    The Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate’s Republican health care plan presents some really brutal facts:

    The Senate health care bill would insure 22 million fewer people after a decade than current law, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

    It would save $321 billion in the same period overall by spending $1 trillion less on health care and using the savings to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s taxes, which primarily affect wealthy individuals and medical companies.


    From Steve Benen:

    […] Note that the impact imposed on the nation would be felt almost immediately – there would be 15 million more uninsured Americans next year, which happens to be an election year, according to the non-partisan office’s estimate – before getting worse in the years that follow.

    Complicating matters, the CBO score added, “By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

    I should concede that this report is quite a bit worse than I thought it’d be. Senate Republican leaders worked fairly closely with CBO officials while writing their secret legislation, getting periodic updates. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons the CBO score, which would ordinarily take two weeks, was turned around so quickly.

    With this in mind, I figured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office would carefully game the system, and tweak his blueprint in such a way that the numbers would look less awful. But if that was the plan, it failed spectacularly: the CBO’s findings are, or at least should be, a punch to the gut of proponents of Senate Republicans’ legislation.

    Donald Trump has gone out of his way lately to say he wants to see a health care bill “with heart.” By any sensible standard, it’s now painfully obvious that the GOP legislation fails this simple test.

    Republicans like to pretend their bill wouldn’t cut Medicaid, but the CBO report discredits the argument. Republicans like to argue that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t cover enough Americans, and the CBO report shows that the GOP’s alternative would make matters vastly worse. Republicans like to argue that the consumer costs are too high under the ACA, and the CBO report points to much higher costs for the poor, who’ll be left with worse coverage. […]

  23. says

    More details from the CBO report on the Republican health care bill:

    […] a person at 75 percent of the poverty line (making $11,400 in 2026) would pay only $300 in annual premiums but face a deductible more than half their annual income, the CBO predicted. […]

    “Some sparsely populated areas might have no nongroup insurance offered because the reductions in subsidies would lead fewer people to decide to purchase insurance—and markets with few purchasers are less profitable for insurers. Insurance covering certain services would become more expensive—in some cases, extremely expensive—in some areas because the scope of the EHBs would be narrowed through waivers affecting close to half the population, CBO and JCT expect.” […]

    The $321 billion in net government savings the CBO found the legislation would result in means that Republican leaders have $200 billion or so to play with and still hit the $119 billion savings target of the House bill that makes their legislation eligible for reconciliation.

    That may provide the opportunity for leadership to figuratively buy off the votes from skeptical moderates, by funneling the extra savings into substance abuse programs or other requests moderates have made to blunt the effects of the Medicaid cuts.


  24. says

    Starting tomorrow, I will be involved in several days of intensive work that will, for the most part, prevent me from posting on this thread. Carry on, my friends.

    In other news, yesterday Republican Representative Devin Nunes added more comments to his already huge portfolio of stupid comments:

    I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee [House Intelligence Committee]. I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.

    When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in.

    Every decision I make is my own. I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.

    I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all. That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.

    The quotes are from an interview on CNN.

  25. says

    Starting tomorrow, I will be involved in several days of intensive work that will, for the most part, prevent me from posting on this thread. Carry on, my friends.

    In other news, yesterday Republican Representative Devin Nunes added more comments to his already huge portfolio of stupid comments:

    I can do whatever I want, I’m the chairman of the committee [House Intelligence Committee]. I voluntarily, temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation.

    When I temporarily stepped aside from leading the investigation, that’s exactly what it means: It doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be involved, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to be fully read in.

    Every decision I make is my own. I can go back right after this conversation and take the investigation over. Although I think everybody’s learning there’s not really much there because there’s no collusion — which is what I had said several months ago, I hadn’t seen any evidence.

    I temporarily stepped aside, just to make sure there was no issue at all, just to give everybody assurance there was no ethical issues at all. That is not withdrawing, that is not recusing myself from an investigation.

    The quotes are from an interview on CNN.

    In Trump Twitter Land, we have this from early this morning:

    So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!

  26. blf says

    Dozens dead in ‘US-led strike’ in Syria’s al-Mayadeen (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Monitor says suspected US-led raid killed dozens of people, mostly civilian inmates, at an ISIL [daesh]-run jail in Deir Az Zor.

    A suspected US-led coalition air raid on an ISIL-run prison in eastern Syria has killed at least 57 people, according to a monitoring group.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that most of the fatalities in the town of al-Mayadeen in Deir Az Zor province were civilian inmates.

    At least 15 ISIL fighters were also killed in the raid, the UK-based monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s long-running conflict via a network of contacts on the ground, said.

    Al-Ikhbariya, a Syrian state-run TV station, also cited its Deir Az Zor correspondent as saying coalition fighter jets had destroyed a building in al-Mayadeen used as a prison by ISIL to hold a “large number of civilians”.

    An activist-run media outlet in Deir Az Zor also reported the hit, which it said took place at dawn on Monday.

    The US Central Command [CENTCOM] confirmed to the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that it struck ISIL facilities in al-Mayadeen on June 25 and 26, but made no direct reference to the alleged ISIL prison.

    CENTCOM said it will assess the allegations that civilian prisoners were killed, and it would publish the results of its assessment in its monthly civilian casualty report.

    It said the Mayadeen mission was meticulously planned and executed to reduce the risk{…} to non-combatants.


    Should the military admit a prison was bombed — a rather big if — I wonder if they’ll use excuse the Israelis are fond of, there was a ‘legitimate’ target nearby / inside / on the roof… so it’s Ok or try something slightly more plausible? I note they’ve already rolled out the carefully planed, small numbers blown up, and (redacted from the above excerpt) we blew up a suspiciously large number of whom we claim are the bad guys disclaimers.

  27. says

    Steve Benen posted an amusing, yet horrifying exposé of the incoherent rhetoric Republicans use to describe people who are uninsured:

    […] of all the arguments GOP officials are pushing aggressively, I think we’ve identified the worst.

    Yesterday afternoon, for example, Donald Trump’s White House published a curious tweet: “FACT: when #Obamacare was signed, CBO estimated that 23M would be covered in 2017. They were off by 100%. Only 10.3M people are covered.”

    […] someone over there probably should’ve read this before publishing it. If the Congressional Budget Office projected that the ACA would cover 23 million Americans, and the CBO was “off by 100%,” that means it would’ve been off by 23 million – because 100% of 23 million is 23 million. According to the White House’s own message, that’s not what happened.

    Worse, by claiming that “only” 10.3 million Americans have gained coverage through the ACA, Trump World has cut the actual number roughly in half (though it is a nice change of pace for Republicans to acknowledge that the ACA has brought coverage to millions, even if the White House’s numbers are all wrong). The figure only includes consumers who’ve bought insurance through exchange marketplaces, and ignores others who’ve gained coverage through the law.

    But the underlying point of the tweet is that coverage levels matter. If you want to evaluate a health care blueprint, the argument goes, then take seriously how many Americans are insured under that system.

    Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), in a message apparently intended to serve as criticism of the ACA, added yesterday, “28 million uninsured under Obamacare.” The White House has been pushing this data point, too.

    It’s baffling to see Republicans push this argument because it makes their own side look so much worse.

    Yes, in reality, the Congressional Budget Office has found that under the Affordable Care Act, there are still 28 million uninsured Americans. […]

    Of course, that number would be much lower if Republican governors had adopted Medicaid expansion through the ACA – in other words, the 28 million figure is partly a failure of GOP governance, not “Obamacare” as a model […]

    The Congressional Budget Office also found, however, that the Republican alternative to the ACA would make this problem vastly worse, forcing 22 million Americans into the ranks of the uninsured. […]

    The number of uninsured does matter, they’ve decided. […]

    There is no sensible explanation for such an approach. Leading Republican officials have decided to argue, in all seriousness, that they see 28 million uninsured as a problem that they’re desperate to make worse. […]

    The Republican line isn’t just wrong; it’s gibberish. The party should be genuinely embarrassed by their own nonsense.

  28. says

    Ha! Mitch McConnell has been forced to retreat. He does not have the votes to pass the Republican health care bill. Schadenfreude moment.

    In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered the message to GOP senators at a private lunch also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. The decision was described by a Republican aide and another informed person who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door decision. […]


  29. says

    The net loss of health insurance for 22 million people, (as reported by the CBO), has been broken down by state. For example, 480,500 in Alabama.

    You can view the compete chart here or here.

  30. says

    Yesterday, Republican senators got on buses and went to the White House to have a meeting with Trump about health care. From the New York Times:

    A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.

    Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added.

    Trump tweeted this morning:

    Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the president has literally never demonstrated any real familiarity with the details of the debate, and accounts of his private interactions with lawmakers bolster concerns that Trump simply has no idea what he’s talking about.

    Either he’s ignorant about the substance of health care or he’s doing a remarkable imitation of someone who’s ignorant about the substance of health care.

    Eight years ago this week, then-President Barack Obama hosted a 90-minute public forum exclusively on health care policy, fielding questions from doctors, reporters, and the public at large. Can anyone imagine Donald J. Trump doing something similar? Does anyone seriously believe he’d want to try? […]


  31. says

    “Trump Campaign Chief’s Firm Got $17 Million From Pro-Russia Party”:

    Paul Manafort, who was forced out as President Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed Tuesday that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.

    The filing serves as a retroactive admission that Mr. Manafort performed work in the United States on behalf of a foreign power — Ukraine’s Party of Regions — without disclosing it at the time, as required by law. The Party of Regions is the political base of former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who fled to Russia during a popular uprising in 2014.

    Tuesday’s filing acknowledges one contact with an American official in the United States: a March 2013 meeting with Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, who is known for his pro-Russian views.

    The filing also contains details about various contractors, both from the United States and from Ukraine, whom Mr. Manafort employed for the Party of Regions. Mr. Manafort paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a firm co-owned by a Republican pollster, Tony Fabrizio, who would later work on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Over a two-year period, the firm billed the Party of Regions for more than $2 million in travel and living expenses.

    Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine coincided with large real estate investments he made in the United States, some of which are being scrutinized by federal investigators….

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