Tuesday, February 28, 2017


By "nobody knew," I think he means "everybody but me knew"

Trump: 'Nobody Knew That Health Care Could Be So Complicated'

More: http://www.vox.com/2017/2/27/14750944/trump-health-care-complicated 

The chairman of a group of House conservatives known for causing GOP leadership problems is already resisting Obamacare replacement proposals surfaced in leaked Republican draft legislation. . . . 

This stinks

New reports suggest that President Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer personally tried to discredit a story about the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Spicer asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, R-N.C., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman David Nunes, R-Calif., to contact reporters . . .


More: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/priebus-improper-contacts-the-fbi-come-focus

White House makes matters worse by trying to suppress Russia scandal

The WH gets its wish: House Intelligence Committee chair says there's nothing to the Trump-Russia story -- before the investigation is even completed



Then Sean Spicer unilaterally declares the Trump-Russia scandal over -- nothing to see here folks, now just move along


More: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/02/27/1638176/-Another-day-another-Trump-cabinet-nominee-with-Russian-connections
Another day, another Trump cabinet nominee with Russian connections 

Trumpism: if you don't get the intelligence answers you want, ask again


Trump said during the campaign that he had a "secret plan" to defeat ISIS. Then he promised us a plan in the first thirty days of his presidency, after talking to his generals. We're still waiting. But what we have heard is. . . . interesting

The month-long strategic review, which Trump requested Jan. 28, is expected to include proposals to send more U.S. troops to both countries, deploy more U.S. forces near the front lines, give greater authority to ground commanders, and possibly provide weapons to Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria. . . . U.S. analysts said they don’t expect the new plan to differ dramatically from the Obama administration’s approach, at least in Iraq. 

Trump says he loves and respects the military. He also says he knows more than the generals. Then he defers to the generals when he needs concrete plans. Now he calls the military losers

In another bizarre speech, Trump told a gaggle of governors that the U.S. military never wins anymore and "we don't fight to win." . . .
[NB: Ah, we're going to START WINNING. Now why didn't those idiots in the Obama administration think of that?]

More: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daOH-pTd_nk
[May 2016] "We're gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning and you'll say please, please Mr. president, It's too much winning! We can't take it anymore!"

Trump’s pledge to “start winning wars again” is ignorant and delusional — and highly dangerous 

Trump says he will raise military spending $54 billion, and pay for it entirely with cuts elsewhere -- without touching Social Security or Medicare, and without increasing the deficit. (He can't do it)


More: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/02/27/1638279/-Treasury-Secretary-Mnuchin-says-Trump-s-budget-won-t-cut-Social-Security-Medicare-yet
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says Trump's budget won't cut Social Security, Medicare—yet

All the Trump promises he hasn't made good on


More: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/here-are-top-ten-republican-accomplishments-2017-so-far
  1. Trump signs executive order on immigration, but it's so badly drafted it causes chaos around the country and is immediately put on hold by court.
  2. Trump chooses crackpot as National Security Advisor, fires him three weeks after inauguration.
  3. Trump tries to bully China by playing games with One China policy, is forced into humiliating retreat after realizing he's playing out of his league.
  4. Paul Ryan proposes border adjustment tax to raise $1 trillion, but can't convince anyone to sign on.
  5. Trump casually green-lights raid on Yemen over dinner, it turns into an epic disaster that kills a SEAL and accomplishes nothing.
  6. Trump blathers about the wall and a 20 percent border tax on Mexico, causing the Mexican president to cancel a planned visit.
  7. Congress goes into recess, but Republicans are embarrassingly forced to cancel town hall events because they're afraid of facing big crowds opposed to their policies.
  8. Trump continues to claim that crime is skyrocketing; that he won a huge election victory; that his inauguration crowd was immense; that polls showing his unpopularity are fake; and that refugees have wreaked terror on America, despite the fact that these are all easily-checkable lies.
  9. After weeks of confusion on their signature priority, Republicans finally realize that repealing Obamacare isn't all that easy and basically give up.
  10. Trump proposes spending an extra $54 billion on defense without realizing he can't do that.
So now the US Justice Dept is officially on the side of voter suppression


Trump has to keep ratcheting up the rhetorical attack on the media

Trump, Still Railing Against Media, Says NYT's 'Intent Is So Evil And So Bad'

[NB: Coming up next: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."]

Heh, heh -- I think he's paying attention

Donald Trump is annoyed at you: 'Resist, resist, they want to resist everything'

Signs of the times

Another Jewish cemetery has been vandalized 

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/new-wave-bomb-threats-to-jewish-community-centers
New Wave Of Bomb Threats Hits Jewish Community Centers Across U.S.

GOPers hitch their fortunes to Trump's. Bad call

McConnell: Republican Agenda 'Is Exactly The Same As The Trump Agenda'

Can the Dems retake Congress?


Bonus item: John Oliver on the Obamacare fight, and how screwed the Republicans are


More: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/wsj-republicans-give-admit-they-cant-create-non-appalling-health-care-plan
Republicans spent years vilifying Obamacare and promising to repeal and replace it at their first opportunity. Then that opportunity came, but they still couldn't agree on the "replace" part, so they suggested something called repeal-and-delay: repeal Obamacare now, and work on a replacement plan later. But that turned out to be pretty unpopular even among Republicans, who naturally wanted to know what they were going to get before Obamacare was dismantled. So Republican leaders went back to the drawing board and tried to draw up a replacement plan. So far this has been a dismal failure, for the obvious reason that even a mediocre replacement plan will cost a lot of money, and they don't want to spend a lot of money. What to do? The Wall Street Journal reports that repeal-and-delay is back . . .

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media.

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Monday, February 27, 2017


Leakers leak details of Sean Spicer's leak investigation

Spicer met last week with communications staffers to express his frustration over ongoing leaks, Politico reported . . . He told staffers to place their phones on a table for a "phone check" of whatever devices staffers were carrying at the time, including both government-issued and personal phones, according to the report. . . . White House lawyers were also present for the meeting. . . . Spicer warned those present that there would be "more problems" if news of the meeting and "phone check" was leaked to the press.

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/spicers-staff-leaks-news-of-phone-check-targeting-leaks.html

But with mounting tension inside the West Wing over stories portraying an administration lurching between crises and simmering in dysfunction, aides are increasingly frustrated by the pressure-cooker environment and worried about their futures there. . . As word of the hunt has ripped through the office, talk has turned to the question of whether firings are to come. 

Another Trump staff departure -- the list is growing

President Donald Trump’s nominee for Navy secretary, investor Philip Bilden, is expected to withdraw from consideration, sources familiar with the decision told Politico, becoming the second Pentagon pick unable to untangle their financial investments in the vetting process . . .
More: http://www.vox.com/2017/2/26/14746376/sean-spicers-navy-secretary
Back on February 18, CBS News’s Major Garrett reported that Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as secretary of the Navy was likely to withdraw from consideration.  . . . Press secretary Sean Spicer, however, angrily and somewhat obnoxiously denied the report. Then Sunday evening, it turned out that Garrett was right all along.  

Here's a fascinating inside look at the chaotic, ignorant way policy gets "made" in the Trump admin. And it all starts with a boss who has no comprehension whatsoever of the issues at stake


Watch Trump get ready to break a huge promise

Then: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/312454-conway-nobody-will-lose-coverage-under-obamacare-replacement
Conway: Nobody will lose coverage under ObamaCare replacement

Now: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/02/trump-spox-cant-guarante-obamacare
Trump Spox Can't Guarantee ACA Replacement Won't Kick Millions Off Their Healthcare

The "swamp cabinet"


Trump says he won't take a salary -- but he is taking millions in unnecessary and excessive travel expenses


58% find Trump "embarrassing"


[NB: I would choose a stronger word.]

Here's a story you won't see a lot about

‘I want an investigation’: Father of slain SEAL blames Trump’s carelessness and ego for son’s death

"Somebody's trying to stir up trouble. . . . There are some people trying to get in my way. I've also gobbled up a lot of other people's TV opportunities. There's some resentment . . ."

One step forward for the Dems


Why does Trump care about the DNC chair vote? Is he still making a pitch for disaffected Bernie supporters?

President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed that the election for Democratic National Committee chair was "totally rigged" but offered no evidence to back up his allegations. Trump tweeted that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) "never had a chance." . . .

Trump has tweeted 53 times that the NY Times is failing. It's not

'Every Time He Tweets It Drives Subscriptions Wildly'
Bonus item: Jimmy Kimmel at the Oscars

But Kimmel’s pièce de résistance came when he addressed Trump’s Twitter attack on “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood,” Meryl Streep. “We are here tonight to honor great actors but we’re also here to honor the actors who seem great but actually really aren’t,” Kimmel said. “And of all the great actors here in Hollywood, one in particular has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances.” As the camera cut to Streep, she tried to hide in her seat. “May I say, from her mediocre early work in The Deer Hunter and Out of Africa to her underwhelming performances in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice, Meryl Streep has phoned it in for more than 50 films over the course of her lackluster career.” He called on the audience to give Streep a “totally undeserved round of applause,” adding, “The highly overrated Meryl Streep, everyone.”

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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.***

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Let's put some details together: the Trump gang, in an act of unbelievable audacity, goes to the FBI and asks them to say there is nothing to the Trump-Russia story (the FBI refused). They went to the Republican chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence committees and asked them to say the same thing. They are punishing and characterizing as "fake news" ONLY THOSE news outlets who have aggressively pursued Trump-Russia stories. And they are trying to crack down on intelligence leaks that put Trump-Russia information into the public domain. 

These aren't the actions of people who believe that there is nothing to this story; they are the actions of people who know there is, and who are desperate to block anything new from coming out



More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mark-warner-grave-concerns-independence-russia-probe
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday that he has "grave concerns" about the independence of an investigation into ties between President Donald Trump's top aides and Russia.  "I have seen the press reports suggesting that the White House enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress to counter allegations regarding issues that are currently under SSCI investigation," Warner wrote in a statement.

The broader context of Russian election hacking


It's significant when Darrell Issa, investigation-crazy House Republican, calls for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump-Russia ties

Issa agreed with Maher’s call for a special prosecutor. “There may or may not be fault,” Issa said, “We need to investigate their [Russia’s] activities, because they are bad people.” “That’s certainly not the opinion of the Trump administration,” Maher responded. “I thank you for saying it publicly.” . . .

Trump apparently thinks when you ask for an intelligence assessment, the agency has to tell you what you want to hear

White House officials said a report disputing the threat posed by travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries included in President Donald Trump's executive order was "not the intelligence assessment the president asked for," according to a report published Saturday by the Wall Street Journal. “The President asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the President asked for,” an unnamed senior administration official said . . . [read on]

The problem with the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," which Trump uses so much, is that it equates terrorism with Islam. But most Muslims aren't pro-terrorism, and the religion itself doesn't condone such actions. Are the KKK, or abortion bombers (or for that matter the Crusades or the Inquisition) "Christian terrorists"? Here are some sensible comments from . . . the new National Security Advisor

McMaster told National Security Council staff in a meeting that the label "radical Islamic terrorism" is not helpful and that terrorists are "un-Islamic" . . .

More: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/mcmaster-pans-the-term-radical-islamic-terrorism.html

Trump wants to deport all those damn Mexicans back to Mexico. Problem is, they're not all Mexicans -- and Mexico won't take them


Dumb, dumb, dumb

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials earlier this month at a Florida airport . . . Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?" When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.

I don't believe you can lay blame for the actions of every extremist nut at the feet of Trump. But when a guy shoots three people, thinking wrongly that they are Muslim, while yelling "get out of my country" -- well, you have to wonder


More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/ap-fact-check-donald-trump-apocalypse
Trump And His Overdrawn Rhetorical Apocalypse

More details on the GOP Obamacare replacement plan. Millions would lose coverage


More: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/25/14738710/gop-republican-medicaid-plans

Finding out more about Scott Pruitt, already approved as EPA head

Pruitt lied to senators in saying he did not use a private email server for official state business
Tom Perez wins DNC chair, Keith Ellison Deputy Chair. Now, get to work!



More: http://www.vox.com/2017/2/25/14736930/tom-perez-dnc-race
Why Tom Perez won

Looking for hopeful signs?

Delaware Special Election Win Shows Energized Democratic Turnout 

Well, why SHOULD you hobnob with people you consider "enemies of the people"?

Pr*sident Trump bails on White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

More: http://crooksandliars.com/2017/02/trump-distracts-again-skipping-nerdprom

Bonus item: Hilarious -- just slow down Trump's voice, and this is what you get


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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.***

Saturday, February 25, 2017


The Trump gang blackballs the news outlets who report on Trump-Russia ties 

The White House picked which journalists could participate in the press briefing Friday. Reporters for CNN, the New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, and the majority of the foreign press were not among them.  The press pool, including NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News, were allowed in, as well as several smaller conservative media outlets, including the Washington Times, the One America News Network, and Breitbart, which was formerly run by White House senior strategist Steve Bannon. Time and the Associated Press boycotted the gaggle, according to reporting from CNN. . . .

More: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/02/24/1637361/-White-House-blackballs-news-outlets-that-are-breaking-stories-on-Trump-s-ties-to-Russia
A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam area. As it turned out, he didn't, but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.  This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation. . . .

What Spicer said

Sean Spicer once said that banning media outlets is something only dictatorships do

Reince Priebus says that the media shouldn't use anonymous sources -- can you guess what comes next?

[Feb 18] “I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff. Put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren't willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn't be listed,” Priebus said. 

However, the one member of Trump’s inner circle named in the article, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, spoke at length on two Sunday political talk shows about his contact with unnamed intelligence officials in the days following reports that Trump campaign associates had been in contact with Russian officials. . ..

Following reports that White House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to dispute a story saying aides to President Donald Trump were in contact with Russian officials before the election, senior administration officials insisted that FBI officials came to Priebus to say the reporting was inaccurate. . . .

More: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/white-house-offers-excuse-improper-behavior-fbi-started-it 

In these interviews, Priebus didn’t just dispute details of the Times report. He didn’t argue that it had been misread to imply evidence of collusion. He claimed that he had approval from the FBI and the intelligence community to deny the Times story in its entirety. And five days later, according to the Associated Press, the White House told reporters that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and director James Comey “gave Priebus the go-ahead to discredit the story publicly.”  Is that true? . . . Preliminary signs suggest Priebus is fudging what the FBI told him about the Times story. . . . [read on] 

Now Trump attacks the FBI (because they wouldn't refute the Trump-Russia story?)

Trump Rages At FBI: 'They Can't Even Find Leakers' In Their Own Bureau

More: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/02/24/the-trump-white-house-just-inflicted-a-serious-wound-on-itself/?utm_source=rss_plum-line&utm_term=.ca056bb821dc

Trump puts the FBI on his low-life leaker list 

Trump tries to bully Homeland Security and Justice Dept to "help build the legal case" for his Muslim ban. The suggested implications are clear 


It didn't work

Draft Homeland Security intel report contradicts Trump's rationale for Muslim ban

More: http://www.salon.com/2017/02/24/homeland-security-intelligence-report-disputes-threat-posed-by-citizens-of-7-nations-in-trump-travel-ban/

Trump says he loves the First Amendment -- all except for the free press part. And the free speech part

Trump Praises First Amendment, Calls for Media Suppression and Fewer Protests

Republican lawmakers introduce bills to curb protesting in at least 18 states

More: http://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/02/24/trump-knows-how-to-make-enemies-not-deals/
Trump Knows How to Make Enemies, Not Deals 

Each day brings more signs that President Trump has no regard for democratic norms, no understanding of how government works, and no interest in repairing these deficiencies.

Trump keeps taking credit


Is the Trump infrastructure plan dead?


For now? http://www.salon.com/2017/02/24/trump-republicans-may-hold-off-on-infrastructure-plan-so-they-can-use-it-for-the-2018-midterms/
Trump, Republicans may hold off on infrastructure plan so they can use it for the 2018 midterms

Trump's health care nightmare


More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/two-polls-support-affordable-care-act
Two Polls Show Highest Support Of Affordable Care Act Since 2010 

The GOP replacement plan -- what's in it?




A nice analysis: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/theres-only-one-big-thing-matters-about-upcoming-republican-health-care-plan

When will the working class realize they were HAD by Trump?

Trump ditches labor voices from CEO-heavy discussion of manufacturing jobs

See a pattern? 

Gorka Linked To Anti-Semitic Groups During His Time In Hungarian Politics

More: http://www.salon.com/2017/02/24/trump-white-house-staffer-sebastian-gorka-worked-with-anti-semitic-leaders-in-hungary-report/ 

The NRA is catching on to the new conservative discourse: attack, attack, attack -- and don't let the facts get in the way 

The head of the NRA defines his new enemies: The ‘violent left’ and judges who ‘do violence’ to the Constitution

Theocracy watch

Why the Christian Right is rejoicing under Trump’s presidency  

Scenes from the Conservative Political Action Conference 

Crowd Waves Russian Flags for Trump

Trump Attacks Media In CPAC Speech

More: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-media-makes-up-sources
“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. . . . Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none.” 

CPAC Crowd Chants 'Lock Her Up' At Trump Speech 

More: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2017/02/hes-still-ginning-up-crowd-to-scream.html

CPAC speaker says the alt-right is actually “left-wing” 

More: http://www.salon.com/2017/02/24/alt-right-is-a-left-wing-plot-say-some-conservatives-but-they-cant-run-from-it-forever/

Trump's comments, full text: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/24/14726584/transcript-donald-trump-cpac-speech

A tender moment between Reince and Steve

On Thursday afternoon, American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp hosted a conversation on the mainstage of CPAC with Steve Bannon, Trump’s White House chief strategist, and Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. The two men shook hands and patted each other’s shoulders center-stage to (once again!) affirm that they were practically the best of friends, and were definitely, absolutely, 100-percent not backbiting and leaking on each other. . . .

But WATCH this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STC_AyZX3bA

Scenes from the Resistance


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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.***