Monday, June 26, 2017


Inside the strangest mind in American politics today . . .

Trump: Obama called the health care bill "mean" -- but I called it mean FIRST!

Trump: I know calling Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" is racist -- but I'm going to keep doing it

Trump: Russian meddling in the election (to help me and hurt Hillary) was real -- and Obama should have done something about it! 

[NB: Yes, and I am sure that Trump would have welcomed that at the time. He was already complaining that it was a "rigged" election.] 

No, he doesn't give a damn about Russian hacking (which one could take as a clue that he WELCOMED it)
Government officials, members of Congress from both parties and even some Trump supporters had hoped that, with the campaign behind him, Mr. Trump would finally speak declaratively about the email hacking and recognize the threat Russian cyberattacks present, without asterisks, wisecracks, caveats or obfuscation. That hope has dissipated. . . . [read on] 

Trump can't get Hillary out of his head

Poor Donald, just can't understand how politics became so mean-spirited 

Since Thomas Jefferson!
Breaking 200 Year Tradition, Trump Skips WH Ramadan Celebration 

How Trump's presidency will end -- thirteen guesses
Proshchay, Sergey
“Ending one the most turbulent tenures of a Washington-based ambassador in recent memory, the Kremlin has decided to recall its ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak” . . . 

Quid pro quo?
“One month before Election Day, Jared Kushner’s real estate company finalized a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square in Manhattan,” the Washington Post reports. “The loan came at a critical moment. Kushner was playing a key role in the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump. The lender, Deutsche Bank, was negotiating to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The cases were settled in December and January.” . . . [read on]

Jared Kushner’s family real estate company received a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank the month before the 2016 election, which Kushner did not disclose on his financial disclosure form . . . [read on]

Working the refs: the CBO is the only remotely reliable, nonpartisan judge of the budget and policy consequences of new legislation. It's not perfect. So what do you do if you know their assessment of the new Senate health care bill is going to be devastating?

Trumpcare Will Bring Chaos to Health Care Market

As of now, there aren't the votes to pass the horrible Senate health care bill
Opposition to GOP Health Care Bill Grows 

McConnell will demand a vote anyway:

A system of torture and interrogation -- it's not good enough for the U.S to say, "WE weren't torturing anybody"

Kellyanne Conway, professional BSer
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted on Sunday that the Senate health care bill would not make cuts to Medicaid, regardless of projections that suggest the program will be cut by over $800 billion. “These are not cuts to Medicaid,” Conway told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “This slows the rate for the future and it allows governors more flexibility, with Medicaid dollars, because they’re closest to the people in need,” she added. . . .


Fox World's tough reporting: Hey Eric, how do you thik your Dad is doing?
"He's been in office 150-something days, and I think he has accomplished more than any president arguably in history has over that same period of time," Eric Trump insisted. 

More from the upside-down minds of Fox World
Brit Hume, sub(par) host for Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, opined that while being distasteful, if the Trump camp did collude with Russia to steal the general election "it's not a crime," so what's the big deal? While leading a panel discussion on the special counsel, Hume put on his Trump apologist big boots this morning as he smeared Robert Mueller (something that directly contradicts his praise for Mueller as the "grown up we need" six weeks ago) and then pawned off the potential collusion with Trump's team and the Russian government as nothing more than being "highly inappropriate." . . .

"Fox & Friends" sure are friends. . .  to Trump
“Fox & Friends” is Donald Trump’s safe space
Stelter: 'Fox & Friends' A 'Daily Infomercial' For The Trump Administration

Bonus item: Obama's presidency, in pictures

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

[May 3] Trump: Middle East Peace Is 'Not as Difficult as People Have Thought'
[Now: Who knew that Middle East Peace would be so difficult?] President Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a “tense” meeting between Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Jerusalem Post reports. “Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.”

[NB: This is just about the least surprising news imaginable. Besides Trump, who believed for an instant that this young man of no experience or substantive knowledge could parachute in and suddenly unravel the most vexed negotiating challenge in the world today?]

Trump finally acknowledges Russian meddling in the election -- because he now sees it as an opportunity to blame Obama

Trump Administration Has Done Next to Nothing to Prevent Future Election Hacking

Not only is Trump breaking promises, he is claiming as successfully completed things he hasn't even done yet

Trump has been bragging about the 40 bills he has signed. But what are they, and what do they actually do?

The "L" word: Trump's lies, the definitive list
There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant. . . . Trump achieved something remarkable: He said something untrue, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency. . . . [read on]


The other "L" word: aside from anti-Trumpism, what is the liberal agenda today? 


Theocracy watch
Mike Pence assures evangelicals Trump is their "unwavering ally"

Why we call it "Fox World"
Unhinged Hannity Commands Trump Attorney: ‘I Want Hillary Prosecuted’

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


It's all about the "win"
The new Senate health-care bill is just the latest shining example. As Peter Suderman explains, it certainly isn’t based on any serious conservative ideas about reforming health care; it has no vision of how it wants health care to be organized; the loss of health care for the working poor will be most intense in Republican districts; and, just as important, a huge amount of it is simply kicked into the future — and could easily be forestalled or nullified by future Congresses and presidents. For good measure, by ending many of the taxes in the bill that make it work, and by removing the individual mandate, it risks sending the insurance markets into a deeper crisis. So what on earth is the point? For Trump, it seems to me, the whole point is to have a “win.” He doesn’t give a shit about what the bill actually contains. He’ll just lie about it afterward and assume his cult followers will believe him. For Ryan, it’s just a way to make a future tax cut for the superrich more budget-friendly, while pushing the political costs of shredding Medicaid onto some future sucker. . . . The only theme I can infer is this: Whatever Obama did, Trump will try to undo. The perversity is the flip side of spite. [read on] 

Conservative senators will try to pull the health care bill even further to the right. Will that jeopardize moderate support? Probably not
Republican Aide Says ‘Moderates Always Cave.’

May be the first firm (?) Republican "no" on the bill
Nevada Senator Dean Heller just made an appearance with Nevada's Republican Governor to announce his position on Trumpcare -- it is a "no." . . . . So there are four Senators who are opposing the bill because it doesn't take enough away from the poor, disabled, and middle class. And then there is at least one who opposes because it does harm to those same people. Which way do you suppose the negotiations are going to go? Assuming Susan Collins and Dean Heller are the two approved "No" votes, and further taking into account the declarations of House conservatives that the Senate framework is too generous for them, I think we can assume this bill is about to get meaner, not kinder. What will Senator Jeff Flake do? He knows how the plan for Medicaid works, because it nearly destroyed his state, pre-Obamacare. He, too, is up for re-election in 2018. Will he also oppose, or will he get on the Mean Train with the tea party contingent? Maybe, just maybe, they won't have the votes no matter what. Maybe we're winning. 

The knee breakers give Heller a warning:
A pro-Trump non-profit said Friday it would spend seven figures against Republican Sen. Dean Heller if he stood in the way of the Senate health care bill. . . 

Obamacare now supported by a majority

Republicans’ main argument for Obamacare repeal is a lie

This pretty much says it all
[Matt McDermott‏] Reminder: Trump promised voters... 1. No one would lose coverage 2. Premiums would go down 3. No Medicaid changes  Every promise was a lie.


Yes, it does
“It depends on how you define better.”  
     — Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), in an interview on Fox News, when asked if the GOP’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” actually made health care better.

My Thoughtful Critique of Trumpcare
People who follow health care policy discussions have known how crazy this is forever. But GOP criticisms of Obamacare for high deductibles and out of pocket costs have always been particularly duplicitous and dishonest since Republicans think out of pocket costs and deductibles should be higher! . . . 

The FBI is focusing on Paul Manafort's deals

The Senate is investigating a Russian fund tied to Trump associates

Coats Told House Intel Committee Trump Is Obsessed With Russia Probe

President Donald Trump is reportedly blaming one of his most loyal Washington hands for not containing the Russia probe before it got messy. According to a Friday report from Politico — which cited anonymous White House advisers, both formal and informal — White House counsel Donald McGahn is the latest person on the receiving end of Trump’s outbursts toward staff. . . . One of Politico’s sources said Trump’s anger toward McGahn for failing to contain the investigation represents his need to blame someone for the legal problems that have plagued his young presidency. “This is one of the misconceptions about the White House counsel’s office. Don represents the institution. What is going on with Russia and Mueller are matters involving Trump in his personal capacity,” one of the informal White House advisers told Politico. “I am not sure the president completely understands how these roles are segregated.” . . . 

Why did Trump mislead everyone about the possible existence of "tapes"?
In an interview with “Fox and Friends” that aired Friday morning, President Donald Trump suggested that his tweet threatening that there might be “tapes” of his conversations with James Comey influenced the former FBI director’s testimony. . . . The President then suggested that Comey “changed” his story when he learned that there could be tapes, offering a long, confusing explanation that Comey’s “story” may have changed. . .
Is there anything more cringe-worthy than watching someone falsely assume he's fiendishly clever? 

Actually, there was never any big mystery about whether or not there were tapes. No one who has watched this president for any length of time thought that if he had tapes that exonerated himself and contracted Comey’s testimony he would have kept them secret. What is significant about this admission (although nothing new for how Trump operates) is that he couldn’t simply say that there were no tapes. He had to harken back to a previous lie about being wiretapped by the Obama administration along with claims about unmasking and illegal leaks in order to distract from his suggestion that tapes might exist. In other words, it is yet another example of this president’s pattern of lie, distract and blame. . . .

It's important to note the possibility that there WERE (and are?) tapes, which Trump either destroyed or decided wouldn't help his case, and he's just lying when he says "I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings" 

Why didn't the Obama admin do more about Russian hacking, and tell everyone what they knew?
“I feel like we sort of choked.”


Is Trump losing patience with Rex Tillerson, Sect'y of State? Why not just appoint Jared Kushner and be done with it?

Donald Trump's White House is positively toxic. . . .

Run as a populist, govern as an elitist

Trump tweets "I've helped pass and signed 38 Legislative Bills." That's not true

Trump plays to the crowd in Iowa, calling for a "new" law that's already been on the books for more than 20 years

What. A. Jerk.

Remember those jobs at Carrier Trump claimed to have saved? Guess what?
Trump can’t govern by stunt

I suppose we don't even need to ask why
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is defunding an anti-Nazi program  

This contrast, between Trump’s rhetoric and the reality of domestic terrorism, extends far beyond Pennsylvania. A database of nine years of domestic terrorism incidents compiled by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has produced a very different picture of the threat than that advanced by the current White House . . .

Reince Priebus's impossible job

Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating Loretta Lynch
In a letter to Lynch Friday, senators from both parties asked for information about an email that reportedly influenced former FBI director James Comey’s decision to leave Lynch out of the loop when he announced the end of the Clinton email investigation. The email, first reported by the New York Times, was supposedly sent by former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to an official at George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. It allegedly described a conversation between Lynch and Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that saw the attorney general promise not to “go too far” with the Clinton investigation.

More evidence of the stark gap between Dem and Repub views of the world: Who do you believe, Trump or Comey?

Crimes against humanity
ISIS just blew up the 842-year-old mosque where it announced its caliphate
THE world's two largest standing Buddhas - one of them 165ft high - were blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan at the weekend. . . .

Mika Brezinski won't have Kellyanne Conway on her show any more. Too bad others won't follow that lead
President Donald Trump’s White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, was notably evasive during a CNN interview in which she was asked tough questions about the president’s reaction to Russia’s alleged election meddling. . . .

'Everyone should ban' Kellyanne Conway

The mood of the day is to condemn violent rhetoric in politics, which is fine with me. But shouldn't Trump and the Trumpians start with themselves?

Bonus item: Nicely done

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Friday, June 23, 2017


The Senate health care bill is a massive con
  • It’s a huge tax cut for the rich.
  • It slashes Medicaid for the poor.
  • It allows states to cut back on essential benefits.
  • It abolishes the individual mandate.
Unlike the House bill, it keeps Obamacare’s income-based subsidies, which makes it a little more friendly to the working poor. However, it also cuts back on those subsidies. . . .
The net result is that if this bill passes, people will be free to go without insurance while they’re healthy, and then buy insurance if and when they get seriously ill. This is a disaster for the health insurance industry. . . .
Five Ways the Senate Health Care Bill Raises the Cost of Insurance

Here is how the Senate bill works . . .

What do you expect from a bill written by thirteen white guys in private?
The Senate health bill would hugely roll back women's health care

Really, it's a tax cut bill
At its core, the Senate health bill slashes Medicaid to finance a tax cut for the rich

The Republicans’ Obamacare repeal is one big lie

The initial opposition to the bill comes from the right!
4 Senate Conservatives Are Worried Trumpcare Isn’t Mean Enough

Conservatives are rage-tweeting that the Senate health care bill is "Obamacare lite"
Conservatives complain that Senate Republicans’ plan to repeal Obamacare doesn’t go far enough 

Why are Senators supporting a bill THEY KNOW is bad?

Three Republican senators will announce opposition to Trumpcare. They will be lying
It will reportedly draw public opposition from at least some holdout Republicans. At that point, the holdouts will be able to wrest relatively small concessions from McConnell. These concessions will have outsized political impact. They will be new and newsy, and reporters will be drawn from the old story — the outlines of the bill — toward the newer developments. The major coverage of the bill will likely focus on changes in the proposed law that make coverage more affordable. The overall law will still make coverage less affordable overall, but that large fact will remain in the background. Social scientists call this this “anchoring effect.” . . .

Rewriting history
McConnell blames Democrats for not contributing to health care process he entirely shut them out of
[Trump] He told the crowd that he wanted a “plan with heart,” even though a draft of the Senate bill proposed deeper funding cuts to Medicaid than the House version.  “If we had even a little Democrat support, just a little, like a couple of votes, you’d have everything. And you could give us a lot of votes and we’d even be willing to change it and move it around and try and make it even better,” Trump said. “But again, They just want to stop, they just want to obstruct. A few votes from the Democrats, seriously, a few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy and so beautiful, and you’d have cooperation.”  

CBO estimate coming next week

Obama defends his health care bill
“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” the former president wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.” “Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family ― this bill will do you harm,” he added. “And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.” . . .

Seth Meyers on the health care bill 

Trump said 18 flat-out lies in his Iowa speech: here's a list, added to the 300 lies he has uttered so far

The complete list:

Trump's morning wake-up calls on Russia
“President Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia . . . The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump’s lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the ‘fake news”’ media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president’s own Justice Department overseeing the probe.” 

Why the Coats-Rogers conversations are a big problem for Trump
Trump reportedly asked top intelligence officials to say there was no Russia collusion

This goes further than what Trump asked James Comey to do. He wanted Comey to publicly acknowledge that Trump himself wasn’t under investigation, which was at least true. But he apparently asked the intelligence chiefs to say that his campaign didn’t collude with the Russians, which is precisely what’s under investigation. That’s like asking the district attorney to publicly exonerate a murder suspect while police are still collecting evidence. This may not have been an order to interfere with an ongoing investigation, but it was sure as hell inappropriate, as both Coats and Rogers obviously knew. 

Trump announced his FBI Director choice by tweet -- but hasn't actually nominated him yet. Why? 

Trump claims again complete and total vindication on Russia, says it is all "a big Dem HOAX"

No, it's not a hoax:
The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers . . .
Congress is investigating whether any private voter information allegedly stolen by Russian hackers was passed to or used by the Trump campaign . . .
Meet Felix Sater

Trump says that there aren't "tapes" of his conversations with Comey after all. But the questions abound: what about OTHER conversations with other people?

"With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."
It took him an entire 42 days for Trump to ultimately say “nevermind.”
The Lasting Damage of Trump's 'Tapes' Bluff
Now the president and his team have grudgingly acknowledged that Trump’s tweet was bogus, Greg argued, it’s effectively been confirmed that “Trump invented the existence of these tapes to chill Comey from offering a full public accounting of the events leading up to his firing.”  Agreed. Many have long been skeptical of Trump’s oblique reference to secret recording that, evidently, don’t exist. But the underlying question is still in need of answer: why exactly did the president publish this tweet in the first place? 

Trump trashes Mueller . . . and lies some more
“He’s very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome, but he’s also — we’re gonna have to see,” Trump said in an excerpt published Thursday evening. The President claimed that “all of the people” hired by Mueller to work on the Russia probe “are Hillary Clinton supporters.” . . .


Of course they are
An ethics watchdog group claims in a new lawsuit that White House staff are illegally hiding internal communications from public view through the use of encrypted messaging apps. . . . Those apps automatically delete past messages, which would prevent them from being archived by the government as required by law . . . 

Why does Trump keep hiring lobbyists for (authoritarian) foreign governments into his administration? 

One of Trump's tricks is to exploit photo ops at places, take credit for them, and then leave before things turn to crap
Trump visited this Boeing factory to celebrate jobs. It just announced layoffs

“Trump doesn’t really want to be president. . . .” [read on]

Monetizing the presidency 

He said it:
The notion that Trump could make money running for president (let alone being president) goes back at least 17 years, to when he was considering running for office on the Reform Party ticket. In fact, he himself was the one to suggest it: In a 2000 interview with Forbes, Trump mused that, by planning his campaign stops around a set of appearances he was contracted to make with the motivational speaker Tony Robbins, “it’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” . . .

I find this statistic astounding
44 percent of Americans know someone shot by a gun

Remember that big investigation that was going to prove that 3 MILLION people voted illegally? Well guess what? 

More evidence for how Repubs and Dems live in different epistemic worlds. There are few "facts" they agree on

Bonus item: You have to be a golfer to fully appreciate what a truly assholish thing this is to do
Watch Out! Trump Runs Over Putting Green With Golf Cart

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media.

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I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***