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"How Could Modern Orthodox Judaism Produce Jared Kushner?"

The Frisch School, the prestigious New Jersey yeshiva from which Kushner graduated, should conduct the kind of after-action report that the military conducts when its operations go awry. Every synagogue where Kushner prayed regularly should ask itself whether it bears some of the blame for having failed to instill in him the obligations of Jewish memory. Even if it is too late to influence Kushner, Modern Orthodox leaders still can work to ensure that they do not produce more like him in the years to come.

"Incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed: Trump’s New York Times interview is a scary read

 Remember, these are President Donald Trump’s words, after being told a recording device is on:

"Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. ..."

It almost goes without saying that literally zero congressional Democrats have said that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. Zero.

Lying or delusional? It's a hard call.

The columnist Bret Stephens points out, accurately, that President Trump has checked off a number of ideological boxes. He's tossed out a lot of liberal policies and implemented conservative ones instead. But the blogger asks, and I agree, how do any of these changes actually advance US interests? How does it help achieve any US objectives to increase rather than decrease the number of American troops in Afghanistan? What's the end-game? Is there any long-term strategy or is this just not-Obama's policy?

Colombia Journalism Review puts numbers to an accusation we've reviewed before. Yes, the press was very deeply anti-Clinton during the 2016 campaign. What's really astounding though, is that we expect supermarket tabloids like the Enquirer and the Star to have the same focus that the CJR documents the NY Times, WaPo and other "serious" news sources as having. In the military, we referred to this as "Dereliction of Duty."

The second book here, "Asymmetric Politics," is exactly what I've been saying for awhile. It's not that Democrats/liberals/the Left are necessarily better or more virtuous than Republicans/conservatives/right-wingers, but we are most certainly not just mirror images of each other. We are two very different groups.

Good piece, showing that the reputation of Senator Susan Collins as a moderate is hugely overrated. The piece documents that she's a hard-core right-winger when it actually counts and a true, principled moderate when it couldn't matter less.

"In December of last year, renowned white supremacist, misogynist, plagiarist and then Breitbart technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos" had a book deal with Simon & Schuster. Yiannopoulos sued because Simon & Schuster cancelled the deal. The notes that the editor took on the Yiannopoulos manuscript shows there was good reason for Simon & Schuster to cancel. Tweets from someone who read all of the editor notes. 

From an impromptu NY Times interview: "TRUMP: What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department." 😮 That and more jaw-dropping stuff here. NY Times takes lots of grief for permitting Trump to simply ramble on without any serious challenges. As a result of the interview, this blogger is convinced the President has an advanced case of Alzheimer's. Other bloggers agree

Hmm. "Insurance association." President Trump feels these will solve all of our problems with the ACA.
Insurance associations, fraud, scam or just plain bad idea? MedCityNews says: 

In the past, some had solvency problems and went bankrupt, leaving consumers on the hook with unpaid medical bills.
In several states, regulators investigated whether the plans were advertising that they had comprehensive coverage when, in fact, they provided little or no coverage for such things as chemotherapy or doctor office visits.

We've chosen the asteroid named Bennu for the mission of sending a spacecraft to it, picking up some soil samples and returning to Earth. The story of how we chose that asteroid out of around 500,000 candidates is pretty cool.

A chart showing the days presidents spent on vacation, starting with Carter. Trump of course is way ahead of everyone else with 111 days for his first year. The younger George Bush is in second place with about 60 vacation days (Remember, 9-11 occurred after Bush's one-month vacation out West).  Others are 40 or less.

President Trump reportedly watches lots and lots of TV news. A NY Times reporters says:

I saw @BarackObama speak in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. He said that he didn’t watch cable news when he was POTUS because everything on there was stuff he had learned a long time before it was on TV.

Yeah, Jen Kerns of The Washington Examiner tries really hard but clearly doesn't have a case. Joy Reid of MSNBC makes it very clear that the Uranium One case and the Robert Mueller investigation are not equal in any way, shape or form.

Haaretz says: "Judge Benisho accepted police claims that Ahed Tamimi presents a danger, and that she could impede soldiers in their work." Keep in mind that Tamimi is 16 years old.

Israeli journalist makes truly horrible and vicious suggestion. Thankfully, he received lots of negative pushback on his idea.

Of all of the Trump Administration officials, The OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has probably made the biggest effort to reach out to non-Republican/conservative audiences with four CNN appearances and one with MSNBC. Basically, if you're not already on their side and thereby watching Fox News, eff you.

President Trump wants to compile a "long and beautiful list" of all of his many positive accomplishments over the past year. Well okay, but here's the headline from a recent Rachel Maddow show segment: "Trump administration hemorrhaging staff." Which is, ehh, not exactly the headline one expects from a winning administration.

So every now and then I check in on Bret Stephens, the fellow that the NY Times hired to provide a pro-global warming point of view. He's in favor of the tax cut bill that the House and Senate just passed or at least he believes that liberals should be wary of condemning it too quickly. Problem is, tax cuts aren't free. The national debt is over $20 trillion, the cut will cost us at least another trillion and it is highly likely that this particular cut may cost us deep cuts in Medicare and Social Security. It's already costing us the ACA/Obamacare as the ACA may not survive the repeal of the health care mandate. The fact that Congress has yet to get around to renewing CHIP tells we shouldn't put a lot of faith in their capability or intention to "do no harm." .

“U.S. forces have conducted multiple ground operations [in Yemen] and more than 120 strikes in 2017,” - U.S. Central Command, Centcom.
CNN says President Trump is really upset about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. CNN gets around to mentioning the US role there in their 16th paragraph in their written story and not at all in their film clip. Seriously and honestly, I wonder how much our president is aware of the role the US is playing there?

The President is very upset that people aren't singing praises to him about the Republican tax bill, but as a blogger put it: "As for his role as 'the marketer in chief,' let’s also not forget that the GOP tax plan is the least popular major piece of legislation to pass in three decades," meaning not only didn't he do very much to carry the ball to the goal, the one part of the job that he really should have been in charge of, he screwed up!

"All 6 Defendants Not Guilty In Key Felony Trial Of Trump Inauguration Protesters" The ACLU says: "This is an important victory for the First Amendment.
"We hope today’s verdict begins the important work of teaching police and prosecutors to respect the line between lawbreaking and constitutionally protected protest."

Well, the UN has voted and President Trump's mobster-like threats failed to prevent a very lopsided vote in favor of the resolution condemning the US for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So much for the "soft power" that Trump spoke in favor of just a short while ago.

Day after UN vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally rejects US as honest and objective mediator.

The Washington Monthly points out that messaging like that of Bill Morris

There is no distinctly American criminal class—except Congress. —Mark Twain 
Congress never loses its capacity to disappoint you. —John Oliver 
You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think. —Milton Berle

feeds right into Republican propaganda. Yes, there are areas where Rs and Ds are on the same page, moving the Israeli US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is an idea that both parties heartily endorse. But on the tax bill that was just passed, Democrats were unanimously and firmly all on one side.

Now, when people talk about "all that government spending," this is what we mean! In Detroit alone, a very small fraction (11,000) of all of the untested rape kits (around 400,000) were tested and over 800 repeat, serial rapists were caught!

"Trump celebrates tax bill with very creepy, cult-like cabinet meeting
"[HUD Secretary Ben] Carson proceeded to offer a prayer where he thanked God 'for the unity in Congress that has presented an opportunity for our economy to expand, so that we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future.'”
Erm, the bill that Congress just passed will add around $2 trillion to this very "corrosive" national debt. No one at the meeting thought this to be worthy of mention.

A dark day for America. The Republican tax bill passes. Majority Leader McConnell's statement "After years of work, dozens of hearings, and an open process, we passed an historic overhaul of our nation’s tax code."
See, here's the problem with that statement, there were no "years of work," there most certainly were not "dozens of hearings," and the process was most certainly not open. If he has such a strong case for this bill, why all the lying?

How popular is the bill? The undecides shrank from November to December. Those in favor went from 31% to 33%. Those opposed went from 45% to 55%. 

Yes, it's amusing to see how the carried-interest loophole was still in the final Republican tax bill and amazingly enough, the ability of big sports teams to issue tax-exempt bonds was also preserved. Somehow, that mean ol' Republican Party refused to respond to the Republican President's request to do something about eliminating those two items after, get this, 25 requests, but gee, wow, amazingly enough, they allowed a presidential priority, a valuable perk for the owners of sports teams, to be preseved.

So how's the tax scam/rip-off of the American people going? Huse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not impressed
How does the new tax bill treat victims of natural disasters

Disaster victims currently can deduct losses that are not insured and that amount to more than 10 percent of their incomes. Under the new tax plan, deductions for personal loss from natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires would be eliminated unless the event is a federally-declared disaster.

The Fox News legal analyst is a former judge but his legal advice can't be taken seriously. Andrew Napolitano tells us that the GSA had a legal obligation to inform the Presidential Transition Team that Mueller's investigation had obtained their emails. Nope. No such obligation existed as the team was told that the emails were not their private property. The emails were the property of the GSA. That means that the GSA was able to do whatever it pleased with them. 

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders complains about all the negative coverage the President receives and goes on about two things that the President's policies have ;ittle or nothing to do with, the economy and the fall of ISIS. President Obama deserves all of the credit for these two. Also, it's clear in this exchange that she really can't defend the tax bill that Congress is trying to get passed. The bill fulfils none of the promises that were made concerning it. There's a very good reason the President gets negative coverage.

Social media has fun with the President drinking water. They show a brief shot of Senator Rubio doing it a while back and yes, Trump looked better. Rubio attempted to drink without breaking stride. Trump halted, paused and drank. But newsperson Chris Cuomo demonstrates the really proper way to do it.

"Self-described Christian ‘prophet’ predicts Trump will cure cancer and Alzheimer’s during his second term" Obviously a strong supporter of the President, the prediction here is not precisely that Trump will discover cures for cancer and Alzheimer's, but that such cures already exist and are being held back by corruption. Slight problem with the idea that Trump is battling corruption is that he and his family are the most blatantly corrupt in American history. Recent analysis piece in Newsweek: "TRUMP IS LEADING THE MOST CORRUPT ADMINISTRATION IN U.S. HISTORY, ONE OF FIRST-CLASS KLEPTOCRATS"

Our blogger finds President Trump's National Security speech to be very seriously lacking in facts and reality. Terrorist acts by jihadists outnumber those of left-wing terrorists but terrorism by right-wing terrorists vastly outnumber those of jihadists.

Kind of a problem for President Trump's team that the FBI is saying they told him and company of Russian interference in the election during the presidential campaign. Yes, we all knew that Trump and Clinton were both receiving classified briefings as early as late July or early August, but we didn't know that they were receiving that specific information. Trump team responds with the non-sequitur that the leaking of this information is the important story.

My local paper documents the Republican response to Democratic charges of the "Corker Kickback." Yeah, this was a thoroughly corrupt bargain and yes, Corker's "Deficit Hawk" fašade was always a phony one.
And the conversation here makes it quite clear that the Corker Kickback provision was added during the House-Senate Conference. That is, after the bill was voted on by both chambers.

Good deepthink piece on why Republicans are pushing such an incredibly unpopular tax bill.

D'oh! Now that the US has tossed its neutrality aside in the Israel-Palestinian dispute, the 57 member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has retaliated by recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Yup, great diplomacy there, guys!

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) makes a curious complaint, that Democrats "refused to participate" in the big tax bill that the GOP is trying to pass. This is a bill for which there were no hearings and no expert testimony. Democrats didn't have any chances to participate.

As far as repatriating overseas profits goes, I've mentioned the 2004 tax holiday a few times.

A 2004 law temporarily cut taxes on repatriated profits to 5.25 percent from 35 percent. That prompted 843 companies to bring back $312 billion. But those companies tended to use the money to buy back shares of their own stock, not to hire or expand operations.
A 2011 Congressional Research Service report found that the tax holiday "did not increase domestic investment or employment.”

Colin Kaepernick has managed to be an extremely influential player even though he's been unemployed for a while. Of course, when he favors programs like Meals on Wheels and the Trump Administration/Republican Party doesn't, the contrast is pretty stark.

This is extremely good news. It indicates that emails from the Trump Transition Team were obtained from the GSA as opposed to from the writers of the emails. That means Mueller's team was able to get everything downloaded without any editing or anything being held back by the TTT. Special bonus was that Mueller's team was able to surprise Trump officials with documents the officials didn't think Mueller's team had. 

So what are Democrats doing about all the bad President Trump news? Quite a bit, actually! The Democratic Party is getting a huge increase in donations

So the proportion of Americans who think dumping Net Neutrality is a really bad idea is 83%. As the only beneficiaries are the big internet service providers, I don't find that at all surprising. But Ajit Pai and his merry band of saboteurs have repealed Net Neutrality anyway. Excellent quote:

It is the responsibility of the minority who wants net neutrality regulations repealed to win the war of ideas in public discourse. The fact that this change is being forced through without the case having first been made to the American people is disturbing...

Of course, this is not what we mean when we speak of public discourse: "The EPA spent $120,000 in taxpayer funds to hire a GOP public relations firm." 

TV news seriously dropped the ball on Net Neutrality.

So an FBI agent was caught sending anti-Trump text messages. Does that constitute any sort of scandal?  No. Now, if people could demonstrate that the agents permitted his personal opinions to affect his actual, publicly-available work product, then there would be a problem. No one has shown that any personal bias has had any effect.

More on the "We think President Trump is an idiot-texting" mini-sorta-kinda-not-really "scandal."

Good twitter thread on the Strzok texting. Noteworthy observations: 

They didn’t like Trump...But they didn’t like LOTS of people: Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jeff Sessions, even Chelsea Clinton! Strzok called Bernie an “idiot.” Strzok, in partiuclar, wasn't a fan of Eric Holder, former President Obama's AG. They didn’t seem guided as much by partisanship as by what they perceived competence.

Good, straightforward explanation on Net Neutrality using beer as an example.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley presents some shaky, dodgy evidence of Iran doing bad things. The 2015 agreement with Iran very specifically excludes any actions outside what was explicitly agreed to. There was a very good reason for that. If we had tried to solve every single problem we have with them all at once, we would have achieved absolutely nothing. Believe this is called "the monkey trap." That is, the monkey grabs a fistful of walnuts, can't get his now-full fist out of the jar but won't let go of some of the walnuts, so he's trapped. 

Speaker Ryan says: "And when we have tens of millions of people right here in this country falling short of their potential — not working, not looking for a job, or not in school getting a skill to get a job — that’s a problem.” The piece here suggest numerous ways other than the hopelessly simplistic method of having women have more babies to address the problem. The Brookings Institution also has a number of suggestions as to why employment is so low. And of course, as Marxists explain, having a high unemployment rate keeps wages low.

A little while ago, Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were invited to take part in what was advertised as a substantive meeting but was essentially just a photo-op. Schumer and Pelosi decided not to show, so we got a photo of the President, flanked by two empty chairs. In this case, Democrats did show up, but it was announced that work on the bill had already been completed, so again, the meeting was essentially just a photo-op.

Trump Administration spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders tries to justify the Republican lack of action on guns. Her response was a mess because the party doesn't have any sort of answer on what to do about guns. Sarah's dad, Mike Huckabee, feels that feminists treat Sarah poorly. Sorry Mike, but being female does not entitle someone to be free from feminist criticism.

"Whiny Sore Loser Roy Moore Refuses To Concede" Fortunately, his concession is a formality, not a requirement, so his refusal to concede is merely an annoyance. Kind of amusing that, at the 2:50 minute mark, Moore complains about the huge, out-of-control national debt. Yet, he's running as a Republican, the party that's putting together a package that will add $1 trillion to the debt!

"Trump's lap dogs at the FCC just voted to kill net neutrality, we're not going to let that stand"
%$#@&@!!!! There's never been the slightest question that the only people in the country to benefit from this are the big internet service providers.

Lot of good commentary about the special election that put Doug Jones into the Senate. Very important is the "air war" (TV advertising) versus the "ground war" (door to door canvassing). Why is this important? Because it calls int question how necessary big money is. Obviously ground wars also cost money, but nowhere near as much money as air wars do. The election also showed that Democrats don't need to compromise on positions like CHIP or reproductive choice.

President Trump seems willing to climb out onto a thin and shaky branch by moving the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem. Foreign leaders are perfectly content to observe the US doing this and to refrain from any further action. Unfortunately, Democrats are all-in in support of the embassy move.

The US was really never an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, but other countries were wiling to give us the benefit of the doubt. Until now.

Terrorist attempts to set off a bomb in New York City. New Yorkers unimpressed.

People outside of NYC: TERRORISM!!!!! New Yorkers: Dude’s a loser with a crappy bomb who’s crowning life achievement is making my train 36 minutes late.

So Alex Jones gets very excitable about Democrats allegedly stealing the recent Alabama special election via dead people and busing people in from out of state. Funny, but the fellow in charge of President Trump's commission to prove that voter fraud is rampant, Kris Kobach, recently tried to show that New Hampshire had permitted nearly 6,000 out-of-staters to vote in their election. Slight problem was that news organizations very quickly debunked that idea. If Jones was correct, that voter fraud was rampant, why was Kobach reduced to making an easily-disproven claim?

Dayum! Omarosa Manigault Newman had a pretty sweet gig here. She was pretty much the only African-American to work in the Trump Whte Hose. No one really know what it was she actually did there and she was "dragged" out of the White House "offering vulgarities and curse words as she was escorted out," but she made the maximum $179,000 a year while she was employed there anyway! Pretty good work if you can get it!

Woo hoo! Doug Jones wins! He's now the Senator from Alabama! Awesome!

Doug Jones did not take the African-American vote for granted and that seems to be what gave him his victory.

Brave, valiant, principled Senate Republicans bravely make courageous speeches against Roy Moore after, of course, he's been safely defeated

Pretty cool that Think Progress is considered a real-enough news source that the White House Press Office responded directly to them to provide them with a list of "eyewitnesses" who allegedly confirmed that Donald Trump never sexually harassed anyone. Kind of a problem with the list is that the people cited were not at the events that the allegedly-harassed women described.

The case that 21 kids have pursued against the Trump Administration is still alive and well. The complaint is that Trump and his enablers have wrecked their future.

The middle class has been declining for a while. In the TV series "Chuck," it was seen as a rapidly-disappearing group that was on the verge of extinction. Here's the other end of that process. Parts of the US are rapidly sinking into the sort of poverty we last saw in the 1800s and see in poverty-stricken areas of the world today.

Portrait of a single-issue voter: "Unfortunately, the Democrats could have won this handily if they had been willing to put forward a pro-life Democrat.” Hmm, so although Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was a pedophile, he was at least anti-choice when it came to unwanted pregnancies. 

Republicans come out against Moore, even though it's the 11th hour and 55th minute.

Hmm. So the American Society of Civil Engineers figures we need a $2 trillion plan (2.5% to 3.5% of GDP) over the next 10 years in order to bring our infrstructure up to basic sufficiency. But the Republican tax plan adds $1 trillion to the deficit. So, in addition to kicking poor people (welfare reform), the Treasury Department "analysis" (It's a single page) of the tax plan states that "infrastructure spending" is needed. It's not at all clear how the Trump Administration is going to address the need for substantial spending with the tax plan's major cuts in revenue.  

Hmm. this is very peculiar: "Russia issued an announcement last week that ISIL has been wiped out in Syria.
"Iraqi prime minister Haydar al-Abadi said Saturday that Iraq had been completely liberated from the terrorists."
But no celebrations in the US. In fact, the government hasn't even acknowledged victory. Wonder why that is? Could it be that a live and kicking ISIS is more useful as a bogeyman than a defeated one?

How relevant and currently meaningful is former Sheriff David Clarke? He called  Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) “irrelevant” and “reduced to a caricature.” Lewis was a leader of the sit-in protest in the House last year (The House doesn't have a filibuster, so a sit-in was the only way to stop up business) and when a Lewis biography came out earlier this year, Amazon ran out of copies and had to put prospective buyers onto a month-long wait list.

Before President Obama left office, he expressed amazement that people thought he was planning to confiscate everybody's guns. He knew that doing that would be a big operation and that he'd need to do some serious advance planning and lots of work in preparation. Everybody would know about it years in advance of that move. Moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Does President Trump do any advance planning? Any sort of preparation? Ha, ha, ha! Nah, none of that. Nothing has been arranged or prepared. 

Y'know, it really does help to do some advance preparation. What's really sad here is the President's complete lack of preparation for his speech at the opening for the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, MS. He was reading a summary of Medgar Evers' life and obviously had no idea that Evers' widow would be at the ceremony, had no idea what she looked like or where she was. 

Good to see that anger at police shootings isn't a partisan issue as the right-wing National Review agrees that the killing of Daniel Shaver really should have gotten a verdict of second-degree murder. Also: 

Finally, I know that police have a dangerous job, but they’re not at war. As I noted above, it’s infuriating to see civilian police exercise less discipline than I’ve seen from soldiers in infinitely more dangerous situations. Not one of the men I deployed with would have handled a terrorist detention the way these officers treated American citizens.

CNN misread a date on a deocument and news of their "amazing scoop" traveled pretty far and wide before someone caught the error. The blogs don't have mud on their faces. They didn't buy into the hype and waited for details to be confirmed.

Various quarters of the Middle East weigh in on decision to move US Embassy from Tal Aviv to Jerusalem. Nobody thinks the President's speech was a good idea.

I respected Michael Steele back when he ran the RNC. I've at least mildly liked him ever since. Hmm, was Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore saying things were better when we had slavery or was he simply looking back on that era and saying that, yeah, we had slaves back then, but they were good days anyway? Steele has no doubt Moore means the former.

Big trend this year of people paying for what was once free. President Trump takes some of the blame, but fake news in general is much of the problem. People will pay for truthful news.

Very cool! ALEC, known as a "corporate bill mill," usually has no trouble getting all sorts of anti-humanity resolutions passed. But they're getting lots of pushback on proposal to not regulate atmospheric carbon as many corporations are fully aware of the danger.

"Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) claimed that to achieve the growth the tax plan forecasts, 'we have to have welfare reform.'” and
"Blum went so far as to say, 'Sometimes we need to force people to go to work.'” but
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) "defended this by claiming the bill would generate $1 trillion dollars in revenues, which is a common talking point in support of the legislation. But a recent analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the nearly $1.5 trillion tax plan will only generate around $400 billion dollars in growth, meaning it’ll actually fall $1 trillion short of breaking even. In other words, it’ll grow the deficit, not shrink it."
So Republicans are essentially ensuring the failure of people to gain employment and then punishing them for failing to get employed.

"Trump didn't seem to have complete understanding of Jerusalem decision."
Unfortunately, I agree that the President doesn't appear to have any real understanding of the issues involved in moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I'm not aware of any evidence that he understood the impact of changing our health care system off of the ACA/Obamacare and he doesn't appear to understand the problems people have with the bill just passed by the House and Senate on the budget. It's not at all surprising he's equally clueless on this embassy move.

Are there any groups that support President Trump's announcement on Jerusalem? Erm, uh, well, yes, actually. There is one, Iranian hard-liners!

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore says people in Washington DC are afraid he'll bring "Alabama Values" to the nation's capitol. Hmm, okay. What exactly does he mean by that

As a state, Alabama ranks…

#47 in Healthcare
#47 in Education
#45 in Economy
#42 in Crime/Corrections
#42 in Government
#50 in Infant Mortality
#49 in Obesity

From 2011 to the present, Republicans have had the majority in the House. The House passed an anti-ACA/Obamacare bill, I dunno, some 50 or 60 times. This was a fun, easy cost-free way to express a viewpoint that was popular with their base voters. They knew the Senate would toss it out and then once the Senate became Republican, they knew the President would veto it. The Senate got similarly irresponsible. With the President now a Republican, some have realized that they need to become a governing party. But they really have no idea how.

"The biggest loser in Trump's high-stakes Jerusalem embassy decision: Netanyahu."
Has the delicate balancing act spoken of here at an end? That would be very unfortunate if true.

For decades, in well-rehearsed, all-too-familiar choreography, presidential candidates both Democratic and Republican vowed to move the embassy once in office, and Israel politely applauded their words. Once in office, the presidents, Trump until recently included, refrained from moving the embassy, and Israel silently uttered a sigh of relief.

The most mind-boggling thing about the President's Jerusalem move is what possible purpose it could serve to advance any of his goals?!?!?!

Palestinians are left up the creek by the Jerusalem decision. 

Palestinians have three options: 1) acquiesce and remain forever in socio-political and ethno-national limbo, 2) make a good faith effort via a peace negotiation to get the best deal they can get and then live with it as the best that could be gotten, or 3) revolt.

1) will never work and the President's speech makes 2) pretty much impossible.

Andrea Mitchell has been on the Israeli-Palestinian beat for quite a long time. She's asked whether anyone supports President Trump's suggestion that we move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Nope.

The effects of the tax cut bill passed by both the House and Senate (but not yet combined and reconciled) has been downgraded from "really bad idea" to "epic disaster" for the economy.

Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) appears to think cutting the budget so that regular citizens don't get hurt is child's play. Problem wth that theory is that the US has been trying to make "painless" cuts since the early 80s. That hasn't worked. There's a reason for that. There's nowhere near as much "fat" in the budget as Republicans seem to think there is. 

President Trump puts out a tweet expalining what the Republican Party stands for: 1. More police and harsher laws/penalties 2. Even more resources for ICE 3. Billions of $ for a wall 4. More billions for the military 5. Hatred of women (no controlling their own reproductive systems) 6. I guess number 6  means veterans support 7. Judges who will make right-wing rulings 8. Guns everywhere, lots of guns, unrestricted guns. Obviously, it's better to vote in pedophiles than it is to compromise any of these goals. Erm, yeah. I'll vote for Democrats, thank you very much.

So what's the moral status of supporters of the big tax bill that just passed? Senator Heller just had a woman tossed out of one of his Town Halls because she was asking uncomfortable questions. She has Stage 4 Cancer and was asking about why Heller wants to take away her health care.

If states are the laboratories of our republic, how are the tax cuts in North Carolina working? The results aren't as flat-out horrible as they were in Kansas, but the tax cuts  were carried out at the expense of educational institutions and other wellsprings of prosperity. Tax cuts aren't free. Like much else in politics, you have to weigh priorities. 

Sean Hannity of Fox News seeks to delegitimize a federal investigation. That's a dangerous rhetorical game to play. He may be protecting a political target at the moment, but reducing the credibility of federal prosecutors is a very bad long-term action.

Consortium News concludes that holdovers from the Obama Administration set a perjury trap for Security Adviser Flynn by knowing what he said to Russian Ambassador Kislyak and then publicly questioning him on that conversation. Flynn gave them an inaccurate account that he was then called on. But for a member of an incoming administration to be contacting a foreign country's ambassador without going through the current US Secretary of State? How is that legitimate? We're supposed to only have one president at a time.

I heard about Kushner's investments in an Israeli settlement a while back, but don't think I was able to confirm it at that time. Yes, 1. such an investment would constitute a serious conflict of interest with his attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and BTW 2. All Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international law. No exceptions.

Senator Chuck "Grassley Implies Working Class Spends Tax Cuts On 'Booze Or Women Or Movies'"
The piece makes the very good point that Senator Grassley is being elitist, classist and sexist. What concerns me as a Keynesian is that if I had to choose between someone spending their hard-earned cash on booze, hookers and movies or someone spending it on credit default swaps or high-speed stock trades or buying back already-issued stock, I'd really have to come down in favor of the first set of choices. The first set of choices would do far more to boost the economy than the second set would.

Very, very interesting! Three men busted over the last month for sexual harassment lasting years, Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin and Charlie Rose, were all very over-the-top in their loud, dogged criticisms of Hillary Clinton and very tender and gentle in how they treated Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell doesn't believe the tax bill just passed by the Senate will increase the deficit. In fact, revenue produced by new investments might even exceed what the tax cut costs the economy. The Joint Committee on Taxation produced a contrasting study on November 30th that predicted that the tax plan would cost $1.4 trillion, would produce $400 billion in growth thanks to new investments, but that the US would end up an added $1 trillion in debt. What does McConnell base his conviction on? Pixie dust, apparently.

In a cheerful bit of positive news for the day, Matt Lauer's lawyers claimed that he was due the rest of the pay in his contract (About $25 million). As NBC maintains that he was fired "for cause," Lauer won't collect anything beyond his last day worked.

Fox News tries to explain why they didn't run an ad that was against the giveaway-to-the-wealthy tax bill. (Words to the effect of) "Ah ... well ... y'see ... well, it's like this ... erm .. .tch ... lemme think now." But hey, Betsy DeVos appears to have gotten a special favor out of the giveawat-to-the-rich bill. The alma mate of Erik Prince (Brother of  DeVos) got a major tax break out of it. 

Small piece of good news is that "the backdoor 'personhood' provision didn't make it." This was an extreme anti-choice measure. 

Yup, so the bastards really did it! As a blogger says: "The saucer that cools the coffee has turned into the septic tank that stores the swill." I once read somewhere that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to be known and remembered as a great legislator. This bill, passed in the dead of night with a razor-thin majority, with no hearings and no expert testimony, is not a legacy to be proud of!

I was just talking with my sister about how the debt/deficit becomes a huge issue when Democrats are in charge and then not so much when the GOP is in charge. This is from 2011 when Democrats had the Senate. Mitch McConnell, then the Senate Minority Leader, weeps big crocodile tears over the debt/deficit, which of course, the proposed tax bill adds a trillion dollars to. Are the Democrats equally hypocritical? At least not liberal Democrats. The deficit has always been important, but we've always seen a number of other issues as being more important. Also note here that McConnell states that he's willing to cut Social Security and Democrats have never agreed to that.

Congressman Farenthold is the dashing, handsome fellow wearing the blue PJs. Again, the whole point of charging financial punishments is that it's supposed to cause the perp some pain! That's. The. Whole. Idea! Using a slush fund defeats the whole purpose of having trials and awarding punishments! Besides which, Farenthold is worth around $5 million!!!

Back during the Obama Administration, the GOP insisted that bills had to be posted on the internet for everyone to see and examine well in advance of votes taking place on them. A few weeks ago, Senator McCain expressed a desire for "regular order." The procedure that Majority Leader McConnell suggest here is something you'd expect from one of those banana republics of a few decades back.

*Sigh* Very sad that I burst out laughing at this. One of those "almost too true to be funny" pieces. "Kim Jong Un Fears That G.O.P. Tax Bill Makes His Plan to Destroy the U.S. Redundant."

The Trump Administration wants to appoint Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) as CIA Director. It's difficult to come up with a worse choice  than this guy. My main concern with him for the past year or two is that he seems to think attacking Iran would be a cakewalk. I do not share his confidence.

In hindsight, people at NBC look back at Matt Lauer's behavior in light of the many sexual harrassment accusations against him and say "Ohhh, yeah!"

Normaly, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree is a standing-room only event, wth more people outside trying to get in. This year? Ehh, Trump is President.

November                      back to top

Back during Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012 and during President Trump's staffing his presidency, a common belief was that rich people are more competent than poor people (That is, people making less than $100,000 a year). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is very, very rich. So how competent is he? Ehhh, not so much. He really has no excuse for being unable to produce an analysis of the Republican tax bill even though he claimed over and over that he was working really hard on it.  

"Will the Republican tax-cut-for-the-wealthy bill return some profit to the US Treasury?"
"Nope. It'll push us very heavily into debt."
"Oh. Will it at least pay for itself?"
"No. It'll cost the Treasury $1.4 trillion and we'll then only get $400 billion back as a result of new investments."
"But how about dynamic scoring? That should make everything balance out."
"We used dynamic scoring in just the way we were told. A $1 trillion loss is the result."

Republican commenter Ana Navarro lists the people who have lost jobs over sexual misconduct allegations. There is, of course, some good news to report on Representative Conyers. Minority Leader Pelosi and Representative Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American Democrat in Congress, have both called upon Conyers to resign.

Senator Susan Collins says Majority Leader McConnell has promised her that in the big Republican tax bill, the PAYGO rule will be overriden and will not cause massive cuts in Medicare. Problem is, overriding this requires 60 Senate votes, eight more than McConnell can deliver.
Senator Marco Rubio confirms the worst, most pessimistic fears of liberals, that the massive tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy bill that the GOP is trying to ram through will cost the rest of us our Social Security and Medicare.

The headline here is a seriously lame joke that no one laughed at (Pictured, Greg Gutfeld, who considers himself a comedian), but the commentary here is a useful look into the minds of the right wing. They cheerfully lie and repeat the false charge that Senator Warren used what she thought was her ethnicity to obtain career advancement.

Truly disgusting details on Matt Lauer's sexual assaults that went on for well over a decade. And I agree with the blogger. Matt Lauer's interview of Trump during the 2016 campaign was an absolute and utter disgrace. It was also disgraceful that Lauer spent so much time on Hillary Clinton's emails, but that was a fault he shared with the US media generally.

Senator Orrin Hatch got all indignant and defensive when he was challenged on the tax bill. The important point here is that that was the only option available to him. He couldn't defend the bill on its merits because it has no merits.

An overall excellent column of how we should handle sexual misconduct scandals by a conservative columnist. Especially noteworthy is this paragraph, written before President Trump commented on the Matt Lauer case: "For starters, no one who has endorsed Trump and has stood by him has the moral authority to judge political opponents accused of sexual misconduct."

The essential public relations profile of feelings on Net Neutrality haven't changed much since the younger George Bush tried to overturn it. Big internet service providers hate it, everyone else loves it. But the comments sent to the FCC have been spammed and so "there were 7.5 million identical comments that came from 45,000 unique names and addresses, apparently due to a scammer who repeatedly submitted the same comment under a series of different names."

This presents a fascinating video where James O'Keefe tries really, really hard to make Media Matters look bad, but MMFA looks to both me and the author of the tweet like just a really professionally-run organization that takes its job seriously. Among other things, note that MMFA does not say that they're saying anything that's untrue. 

NY Times ran a few pieces that seemed to take the view that hey, Nazis are just regular people like you and me! So Soledad O'Brien ran a picture of some Nazis. "Hey @nytimes, look! Nazis can seem like regular folks! From the @AuschwitzMuseum: a photo of Nazi staffers having fun between killing Jews."  
Also, the Times does an 8,000 word essay on Sean Hannity, who's fond of presenting wild, hysterical conspiracy theories on his Fox News show, but very oddly [/snark] fails to take any notice of him constantly presenting conspiracy theories. 

Author of this piece feels feminism and Zionism can't be reconciled. You can be one or the other, but not both.

James O'Keefe, the fellow who, with plenty of assistance from the right-wing noise machine, bought down ACORN, tries yet again to damage a progressive target. As the WaPo people were on the ball and know how to properly vet and fact-check a story, the "sting" went nowhere.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was called "Pocahontas" by President Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims that the term isn't racist. Senator Warren makes it quite clear that the term is a racal slur
In this 2012 piece, The Atlantic concluded 1. Elizabeth Warren was told at an early age that she had Native American ancestors, 2. It's not out of the question that she does, but she has no documentary evidence that proves any such thing and 3. She never attempted to use her ancestry to obtain any competitive advantage. Had she ever done that, it's not the institution that would have insisted on verifying her claim, but her peers.

Wonderful! [/snark] Iran's hard-liners were doing poorly while Obama was the Commander-in-Chief. They simply couldn't convince anybody that the US was hatching any sinister plots against them. Now, President Trump has made their jobs much easier.

Ahh! Very pleasant political outlook here. The President's "strong disapproval" rating is somewhere around 48% or 50%. 

Generally speaking, when voters get to the point of strong disapproval, they never make it back to approval. Fluctuations come from those who somewhat or moderately approve or disapprove, or those who are undecided.

Also, those who want to retain the ACA/Obamacare as is or even more effective are at 60%. Those who want to repeal it completely are at 28%, the approximate number of the Bush Dead-Enders/Tea Party/Freedom Caucus contingent.

Susan Sarandon makes the very good point that the Republican and Democratic Parties have far more in common than I and many others would prefer they have. I'd much rather see a bigger difference, I'd much rather see the Democratic Party be more populist. Now as to the question of whether Clinton was in any way worse than Trump. Ha, ha, ha! That's just plain stupid.

Interesting argument by the Fox News crew. Funny how there's all this rhetoric about how overreaching and pro-bureaucracy the CFPB is, but no one can come up with any sort of specific examples of the CFPB overreaching or doing anything that goes beyond its mandate.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came onto Chuck Todd's show to talk about the Republican tax bill, but Todd filibusteed all of her time away by dragging up old Democratic sex scandals.

Fortune reported in January of this year that "Donald Trump Is Targeting an Agency [The CFPB] That Has Recovered $11.8 Billion for Consumers," so it's far from clear what the President means when he says "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick. Financial Institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!"
Hmm, wonder what "it" refers to that needs to be brought "back to life." What is this "disaster" that Trump is referring to? "Financial Institutions have been devastated"? Ah, now I understand! $11.8 billion is pocket change for these big institutions, but by being prevented from ripping off consumers, that's the "devastated" that Trump's referring to!

This "tax cut for the rich" plan by Republicans just looks worse and worse when you start applying facts, reason and research into it.

Representative John Conyers (D-MI) tells us his side of the sexual harrassment story.

As Rachel Maddow and Xeni Jardin explained last night, the only people who had any positive feelings about revoking Net Neutrality were the big ISPs. The rest of us have to make a stink about it and to let our legislators know this is a terrible idea!

Huh. Charles Manson is dead. Good riddance.

President Reagan wasn't considered the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even he was smart enough to see that tactical nuclear weapons were far more trouble than they were worth. They essentially just make a nuclear war easier to start.

Hmm, so our President wants his lack of action on Moore's behalf to be taken as a positive signal that he disapproves of Moore campaign to become a senator. I'm perfectly willing to read it that way. I get why Trump doesn't want to take a clear stand on this situation as it's a clear lose-lose for him. He either alienates his rabid, hard-core base voters or he alienates the rest of the country. That's not to say I respect his solution at all.

Eric Trump says it's unfair for the media to not focus on the Uranion One story (Which Jeff Sessions, the Trump Administration Attorney General, declined to open a new investigation into as there's simply not enough evidence to warrant that) and is instead investigating Trump's collusion with Russia. He speaks wth such fire and conviction. Is he a good actor or does he get all of his information from right-wing sources?  

MSNBC's Joy Reid has a guest who speaks of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Pastor Mark Burns defended Moore by said that morality wasn't "the only quality that makes a good leader." Reid  asks, incredulously, "Aren’t you a moral leader? Like isn’t that what you’re supposed to be advocating for, for moral leadership?”

"RNC stops paying Trump’s legal bills" Good! Anerican taxpayers were and are not paying anything, but Bill Clinton did not use DNC funds to pay his legal expenses during the 90s, he covered his expenses out of his own pocket and through private fund-raising, so President Trump should do the same and should pay all of his legal expenses, either from his own funds (He claims to be a billionaire) or via private fund-raising.

For people who want to re-open the Bill Clinton cases from nearly 20 years ago, our blogger goes over each of them. These cases were exhaustively litigated and Clinton received the appropriate punishments in all of them. 

The EPA is not the NSC or the FBI, it doesn't engage in a lot of top-secret discussions with anyone. The office of the head of the EPA is not on a public street, so no one is going to get into that office unless the head of the EPA wants that person to be there. So no, Scott Pruitt doesn't need a "cone of silence" in his office. Also, Pruitt claims, without evidence of course, that he's "more aggressive than the Obama administration on tackling pollution."    

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a whole bunch of taxpayer money for consultants. His effort wasn't completely useless, but for him to have just sat around a table with some knowledgeable people would have produced similar results. Bascially, he got a document stuffed full of useless buzzwords
So, how well is Tillerson fulfilling his main function? How's he doing on the day job? Hoo boy! He's threatening to close down the office of the Palestinians that they have in Washington DC "unless they’ve entered serious peace talks with Israel." Which of course goes over like a lead balloon with them.   

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) gets very upset when a Denocratic Senator says the Republican tax bill favors the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Hatch goes into a lengthy story about how he was poor once (He became a lawyer in 1962 and is worth $5 million today, so his humble beginnings are long behind him) because he can't talk about the subsance of the tax bill as the bill does favor the wealthy!

US drops from number one in "Most Admired" to number six in less than a year.  Most of the change was in "Governence," meaning President Trump is most responsible for the drop. 

Yep, no one could possibly have predicted that the Keyston XL pipeline could possibly spill any oil!  About 200,000 gallons of oil leaked in South Dakoa. 

Porn performer Ron Jeremy accused of sexual harassment.

Senator Al Franken is accused of sexual assault. He made a statement that was pretty weak sauce. He then made a better one. Very distressing to see him attacked as he's a very good Democratic Senator and the accusation doesn't seem to be all that legitimate.
President Trump criticizes Franken without having the slightest legitimacy to do so! He has way too much to criticize on his side for him to be taken seriously. Term is "throwing stones from a glass house."  . 

130 million years ago, two black holes crashed into each other. We caught the gravitational wave and the light wave at the same time on August 17th. The light from the collision faded within the hour, x-rays arrived nine days later and in another 16 days, radio waves arrived. The really cool news is that astronomers can now sort through the data of the last several decades and find other celestial events now that they know what to look for. Piece has good explanation of how gravity waves are detected.

Yeah, Alabama citizens have every right to complain that this defense of Roy Moore's dating habits makes them sound like the citizens of Dogpatch, Kentucky (See this clip from the film version of the Broadway hit L'il Abner). Asking for a mother's permission to date a woman in high school and younger is perfectly appropriate. If she's a high school graduate and still living at home? Yeah, but that's kind of over-the-top knightly, chivalric and corny. If she's not living at home, then that's ridiculous. So yes, when Moore says he got the mother's permission before dating someone when he was in his early 30s, that does indeed mean that he was dating underage girls.
Pro-Roy Moore Pastor Mark Burns says we need to be careful with accusations. Okay. MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle asks him what constitutes proof? He talks a lot more, but never gets around to answering that.

"There’s a lot Jeff Sessions ‘can’t recall’ about Russia contacts" Kind of amazing how someone with such responsibilities as an Attorney General has could have such a hazy memory of so many events. In the Navy, we said that "attention to detail" was a very important quality.

What the %$#@!?!?!?! 250 ISIS fighters were let go from Raqqa, the "capitol" of the "caliphate"?

*Sigh* “Things i didn’t anticipate having to re-litigate in 2017: ☑️ Nazis, bad ☑️ Slave owners, bad ☑️ Pedophiles, bad”

Not saying the political left is superior, but I do agree with the point that left and right are not mirror images of each other with both extremes being equally bad. A fellow on twitter says: "Anthony Weiner sent a picture of his junk to a 16 year old and the left threw him under the bus immediately. No defenses, no justification nothing. Very Good This freak [Roy Moore] molested children and the right is citing biblical passages to normalize it."

Natural gas has been presented as an alternative to other fossil fuels. Nah, it's no better than coal or oil. We need renewables.

"Report: Alabama Mall Banned Roy Moore in the ’80s for Pursuing Teens" Gadsden's a town of around 35K people today, so it was probably a bit smaller in the early 80s. Roy Moore was an Assistant District Attorney, so it stands to reason that people generally knew who he was.
"Moore was known to 'flirt with all the young girls,' and would hang out at the mall on weekends 'like the kids did.' Other locals told that Moore's penchant for flirting with teens was common knowledge in town."
Yep, sounds to me like Senate Majority Leader McConnell knew that Moore was a lost cause and hurried to cut him loose. Problem is, of course, that if Moore is kicked out of the Republican Party, he could just mount a write-in campaign as an independent. If he wins, the Senate would most likely muster the 2/3rds vote necessary to not seat him.

Aww! Poor Ivanka Trump! She started out this year hanging out with Al Gore and learning about global warming and Cecile Richards and learning about Planned Parenthood. She proved herself so useless to the liberal cause and so ineffective as an advocate for our side, she's now just seen as the butt of jokes.

So much for our President being The Great Negotiator. The idea was to replace TPP with individual country-to-country trade treaties
“In every country Trump visited, none of the leaders entered trade negotiations or offered significant concessions.”
I was never a supporter of the TPP as it seemed heavily weighted towards investors and against everybody else connected to international trade. That being said, this seems yet another case of the Trump Administration tossing out the old without having anything new to replace it with.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a hard core capitalist free-marketer. Problem is, how relevant is the free market model to schools? Ehh, not very.

Kellyanne Conway insists we need proof befoe condemning Roy Moore. ABC's Martha Raddatz agrees and asks again and again, what exactly constitutes proof? What's the standard of evidence here? And Raddatz just never gets a straight answer.

What? The Army's pulling out of Puerto Rico already? The job's not even half-done! The Secretary of Public Safety is going to create his own team? He can't form one while on deck to step up and then replace the Army? Military was just in PR for the “emergency response”? Okay, but the emergency is by no means handled or taken care of! Dunno whether this is evil or just more cluster-**** screw-ups.

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was asked if he dated teenage girls in the 1970s, when he was in his early 30s. "Not generally, no," does not constitute a denial. Also, 

“I don’t remember dating any girl without the permission of her mother…her mother encouraged her to go out with me.” Yeah, buddy, if you’re dating girls young enough to need parental permission, we have a problem...

I agree that it would be inappropriate for the President to get involved in revoking the tax-exempt status of the Church of Scientology, but I'm sympathetic with Leah Rimini's crusade against them and wish her the best of luck in seeing them damaged.

Laura Ingraham at the 4:00 minute mark reproduces President Trump's promise of being a "president for all Americans." How is the Republican Party carrying out that promise? Well, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan "just set a record for the most closed rules in a session — barring lawmakers for the 49th time from offering amendments on a bill." That means more than 1,300 amendments to bills have been blocked, essentially meaning that input from lawmakers after bills are passed out of committee is just plain shut out.
And of course the two big initiatives that the House and Senate have undertaken this year, trying to repeal the ACA/Obamacare and giving tax breaks to the wealthy, have both been closed processes with no hearings or expert testimony where the Senate tries to use a rule that permits a vote by just 51 Senators.
So, are "all" Americans being represented? Not under President Trump they haven't been.

So the Senate candidate from Alabama went out with a number of teenagers when he was in his 30s. Can the GOP do anything to boot him out of the race? Much too late in the race for one thing and very importantly, establishment Republicans opposed him in the first instance, so he owes them nothing.

Okay, so UN Ambassador Nikki Haley says for the UN to stop criticizing the human rights situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Hmm, how IS the situation there? Well, let's see. "The Coordinator of the Israeli Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai" feels that the living situation in Gaza has gotten so bad, it's become a matter of Israeli national security. Hamas is making political gains from the miserable living conditions there.

The nine kilometer-wide asteroid that hit at the tip of what today is Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago could have hit 87% of the Earth's surface without causing so much damage. Problem was, the parcel where it did hit was rich in hydrocarbons (oil, coal or natural gas).

Hmm, yeah. ISIS/ISIL is clearly on its last legs in Syria. They'll soon have to go back to being just a terrorist group. Wonder why our media isn't making a bigger deal out of their defeat?

Have to marvel at the sheer and utter stupidity of the Newsweek headline here "After Texas Church Shooting, Trump Fails as Comforter in Chief by Staying in Asia." No, I think he failed anyway. President's shouldn't change their schedules after a disaster of that particular variety because there's nothing for them to do on the scene. If he wants to talk to people after his schedule frees up, that's fine. But ther was absoltely no need whatsoever to return from Asia. Also, his "comforting" presence is neither needed nor wanted.

Okay, finally ran across the story of the "good guy with a gun" that was involved with the Texas church shooting.  President Trump comments on him, never mind the fact that the "good guy" acted well after the shooting was done. After the shooting, the "good guy" gave chase, caught up with the shooter and shot him. Could vetting have prevented the shooting from taking place? Yes. There was dereliction on the part of the Air Force. Better procedures would have helped. An Army veteran examines the whole "good guy with a gun" notion and finds it seriously wanting

Election takes place. Democrats make big gains in my town. First time Democrats have won seats on the Town Council since the 1970s. Woo hoo! The Democratic candidate won the VA Governor's race!!! Ed Gillespie was running a horribly Trumpian, racist as hell campaign and very deservedly crashed and burned!!! President Trump is very disappointed. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for."
Danica Roem's victoryin VA is important because the "bathroom bill" and transgender issues generally were very much an integral part of the campaign. 
Cool! Philip Murphy wins NJ Governorship by substantial margin! 

The US has about $1 trillion invested in coastal properties. The flooding that global warming is expected to cause over the next few decades is expected to wipe many of those properties out. Does that mean we have a financial bubble? At the very least, a very great number of peole stand to lose fortunes as the waters rise.

"Hours after horrific mass shooting, Texas attorney general urges more people to bring guns to church
Problem with this theory is of course that while reducing the amount of guns is always a good option and is always practical and sensible, shooting back isn't always a practical option. In the Las Vegas shooting of a little over a month ago, it was effectively impossible for personal side-arms to reach the shooter while he was free to hose the crowd below with bullets.

Senator Lindsay Grahm (R-SC) was angry at Justice Department assertions concerning the New York terrorist who used a pick-up truck for murder. The Justice Department "said the reason they didn’t declare the New York guy an enemy combatant, even though he pledged allegiance to ISIL … is because there’s no evidence of command and control. That is ridiculous.” Actually, that isn't ridiculos at all. ISIL/ISIS has taken a DIY model of simply advocating terrorism and then taking credit for anyone who follows their suggestions. There's no command and control system because there doesn't need to be. 

And in other news, Speaker Ryan promotes the new tax plan that adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit as being truly deficit neutral.
Kind of a problem with that: "...dynamic scoring is often little more than economic wishful thinking: previous tax cuts have often failed to produce the promised growth and have meant increased federal budget deficits."

Oh, good heavens!!! Major shooting in a Texas church! President suggests that the problem wasn't too many guns being too available, but mental health. Hmm. Okay, let's follow that train of thought for a bit. The GOP spent months trying to take down the ACA/Obamacare without providing an even halfway-decent replacement. The President put in a number of "poison pills" such as shortening the enrolment period for obtaining ACA health care plans. So if they truly believed that mental health was the problem, why are they doing the very opposite of ensuring better health care coverage that would get America better mental health? 

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster accuses the North Korea's leader of terrorism. If the accusation against him is true (which appears likely), then Kim Jong Nam, brother of Kim Jong Un, was poisoned and later died in Malaysia. Would that constitute an evil act? Sure, no two ways about it. Would it constitute terrorism? Ehh, that's a much harder case to make as terrorism usually means political violence that's intended to frighten the people who are attacked. As only a North Koran citizen was attacked, it kinda stretches the definition of terrorism.

Donna Brazile wrote a book. It's kind of a mess and raises more questions than it answers. The fellow who runs the TPM website feels that Donna Brazile has made a very flawed and incomplete case. She comes nowhere near proving her most inflammatory accusations. MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid asks exactly the right questions concerning Brazile's "Hillary ripped off Bernie's certain victory" narrative. Good quote: "The question is: what does the DNC actually do, and can it, even if it wanted to, rig 50+ primaries for any given candidate?"

Huh. So the President is frustrated that he isn't helping to investigate Clinton. He's right. As president, he has no role to play in any investigation of anyone. Let's see, what has Clinton done? 1. Compiling oppo research. Last I checked, this was something everyone does and is not a crime. 2. The uranium story was opened and closed back in 2015. 3. The email case was closed because there's simply nothing there. So it's really not clear what Trump would help to investigate.

Oh, good grief! Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is asked: “Why are you against clean air and why are you against people’s health?”
I'm even going to TRY to summarize his rambling, incoherent response!

"Republicans (Once Again) Thirsting for A Dictatorship" The President calls for kangaroo courts, without Miranda rights, for terrorist suspects.  

Heh! WH Chief of Staff Kelly doesn't want the Trump Administration to be thought of as racist. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

Hmm. Very, very interesting that right after the shooting in Las Vegas, conservatives complained that liberals wanted to talk about legislative solutions to gun violence so quickly afterwards. Y'know "before the bodies are even cold," etc. But gee, it seems to be perfectly okay to discuss immigration policies right after a terrorist attack. Funny how that works! 

Our President rushed out with a quick condemnation of that attack in NYC yesterday. But he was very slow to condemn the shooting is Las Vegas as it was quickly clear that the shooter there was a white guy.

"Donald Trump Jr. Takes Away Half of Daughter's Halloween Candy to 'Teach Her About Socialism'"  *Sigh* Poor Don Jr. desperately needs a PR person who can tell how to do public relations. He tries to teach his adorable little daughter about what he thinks is socialism. Gets himself all sorts of mockery!  

October                      back to top

Research and calculations show that 126 million Americans saw Russian-sponsored ads in 2016. Obviously, the number of ads seen by individual people varied by demographics and geography, so a lot of people saw very little and a few people saw a lot. How many votes were affected? Hard to say. Nobody likes to think of themselves as having been influenced by ads. Senator Al Franken gets Facebook executive to agree to no more foreign-sponsored political ads. 

Horrible! Driver runs car into pedestrians in NYC. Clearly an act of terrorism, meant to kill many people. The perpetrator shouted something as he exited the pick-up truck. The police will not confirm what it was, though some say it was "Allahu Akbar!"

Okay, the President's call to a grieving widow. Was it a major screw-up? Yes. Was it intentional? Did he deliberately make her cry? No, not at all. Does he and Chief of Staff Kelly owe her an apology? Absolutely! Regardless of intent, the call was a major cluster%$#@ and calls for an apology.

"John Kelly says Civil War was caused by 'lack of the ability to compromise'; Twitter has words"  
Oh good grief! First off, WH Chief of Staff Kelly can't besmirch or dishonor himself much further anyway. He's a thug in any event, so this statement doesn't downgrade him.
And no. I was a history major in college and put a bit of time into studying the Civil War ("Battle Cry of Freedom" by James M McPherson is an especially recommended volume). There was no possibity that any compromise could ever have found approval on both sides. No, the "ability to compromise" did not hold any promise. WaPo says historians blast Kelly for getting crucial facts on Civil War wrong. Actually, Kelly was promoting the "Jim Crow version" of the Civil War. 

Yeah, the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the one who shares a hometown with the company that got an incredibly favorable contract to restore Puerto Rico's power grid. He also seems to be quite free and easy when it comes to getting goodies from government service. He "took a $12,375 chartered flight from Las Vegas to an area near his Montana home, when a commercial equivalent would have cost around $300." Now this wasn't paid for by the public but by an executive in oil & gas, which is a concern to environmentalists.

So why are all these Republicans talking about the Uranium One story that was debunked so very, very long ago? MSNBC's Joy Reid gets her guest to admit that everybody on that side is using RNC talking points.

Truly, truly seriously unimpressive! It's not like the HUD Secretary Ben Carson hasn't had plenty of time to get up to speed on the job. And seriously? To not even have his aides provide him with a tabbed briefing book or a tablet or something that would enable him to answer basic, predictable questions?!?!?!

Yes, the massive shooting in Las Vegas that took so many lives was almost a month ago. Conservatives got all bent out of shape that liberals were calling for legislative solutions "before the bodies are even cold." But here's the price of delay:

Once the horror of those killed and wounded in Las Vegas receded slightly from the headlines, however, the NRA announced its opposition to legislation that would ban the production and sale of bump stocks.

Border Patrol agents interfered with an emergency operation for Rosamaria Hernandez, a 10-year old undocumented immigrant living in Laredo, TX. That level of decency, morality and human feeling reminds me of Nazis making lampshades out of human skin. The term is "morally bankrupt."

So the object designated A2017 U1 is only about 1,300 feet wide and missed us by about 15 million miles (60 times the distance from Earth to Moon) and appears to be headed on back out of our solar system. It's making pretty good time, travelling at about 97,200 mph. Not sure what "outside the solar system" means. The Oort Cloud stretches out about 9.3 trillion miles or 1.56 light years (Nearest other star is Alpha Centauri at 4.37 light years away), but I guess they're saying it came from between the Oort Cloud and whatever surrounds Alpha Centauri, from interstellar space. Video.

Puerto Rico made a deal with Whitefish Energy, what was at the time of signing the deal a two-person firm.

...minimum wage in Puerto Rico is $7.25 an hour. According to, the average salary for a journeyman electrical lineman is $39.03 per hour in the continental U.S. However, a journeyman lineman on Whitefish Energy's Puerto Rico project will earn $277.88 per hour.

And yes, Whitefish Energy just happens to be based in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Very interestingly, Fox News was very, very quiet about the whole deal.

Ah yes, the ol' "offsets" idea! The idea is that if we want something good, we have to pay for it without new taxes. If we want the CHIP program, we need to find $8 billion in savings by cutting other government expenditures. Do we need to find $1.5 trillion in savings to offset the tax "reform" (that is, tax breaks for rich people)? Ha, ha! No, of course not! Tax breaks for rich people is a national necessity whereas health for children is a mere luxury!

*Sigh* The Trump Administration has run into a snag on releasing the JFK Assassination files. Sinister, evil plotting? Nah, stupdity and incompetence. 

"Jane Doe" was the undocumented immigrant who was in US Government custody. She was finally able to obtain an abortion. The statement that "Jane Doe" made right before she was able to do so ends with: "This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice." She had lots of harsh words for "people I don't even know" trying to talk her out of it. 

On racism, there's obviously a scale. Wearing blackface is not the same as lynching someone. But who gets to decide where someone is on the scale? Certainly not white people. The writer Megan McArdle has absolutely zero business condemning black people for deciding that someone is a white supremacist. She doesn't get a vote in the matter.

Oh, good grief! Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to bring back DARE. Why did they drop the program in the first place? It was ineffective.

So the opioid epidemic, which was considered a "national emergency" back in August, is just a "public health emergency" now. This requires no big national action or, more importantly, no big funding. Hey, can't let national emergencies get in the way of tax cuts for rich people, now! Democrats are underwhelmed. Update: "Trump’s big opioid emergency speech is an exercise in fluff, misdirection, and deceit"

Lots and lots of problems involved with rebuilding Puerto Rico's power grid. Governor of Puerto Rico very, very interested in how a particular contract got awarded. 

Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert):

Day Two: @CNN can't explain why it matters if Clinton paid for oppo research.

CNN has mentioned "dossier" more than 110 times in 30 hrs.

"Trump Calls Clinton, DNC's Funding Of Dossier A 'Sad Commentary' On Politics" I can understand why political partisans might try to make people believe that oppo research is a bad thing, but seriously, Hillary Clinton did not invent this for the 2016 campaign. As a commenter says: "You wouldn’t go into a hostile business meeting without knowing every thing about the opposition why would you go into a 1 year election cycle without knowing your opponents?"

David Begnaud has been tweeting frequently about the situation in Puerto Rico. Horrifying to see how PR has been treated! He stays current, but important tweets are here, here and here

"How Bannon and Hannity's ginned up Hillary Clinton uranium story became a congressional investigation"
And yeah, the whole story on Uranium One was examined and resolved back before the campaign of 2016 even really started. It was a nothing-burger then and continues to be a nothing-burger now.

"In the dead of night, Republicans vote to give lawsuit immunity to banks"  
Lately, we've been getting lots of sturm und drang from Republican "rebels" who have had harsh words for the President. So out of all of those furious, grand, principled speeches made against the President yesterday, how many of them resulted in a truly principled vote for the people and against those big, abusive financial institutions? None of them, actually. The two good Republican votes came from people who have not been criticizing Trump. All of the people who have been making stormy speeches voted with their party. Because, hey, party before country.

Our local paper puts out a tone-deaf defense of the President that takes a "from 30,000 feet" view of the muddled mess that President Trump and the White House Chief of Staff made of what should have been a simple and uneventful call. Kind of useful to see how partisans can distort and re-interpret events that seem pretty clear-cut.

In a demonstration of how limited some legislators are in their news consumption, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was shocked to learn that US soldiers were fighting in Africa. There was no need to have been surprised as investigative reporters and various bloggers have been covering this for a while now.

So Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore feels that insisting upon the human rights and dignity of gays and lesbians to marry and to have the same full civil rights that the rest of us have is worse than being able to own people as slaves. Okay. Right. Got it.

"Trump keeps rejecting plans to pay for his proposed tax cuts."
As with health care, I agree with the blogger. I just don't get that the President understands the issue at all. He doesn't appear to comprehend that many political issues involve having to make choices. That there is no easy, perfect answer. That there are trade-offs to keep in mind or that there are going to be winners and losers. I just don't see that he realizes that.

On the First Lady's anti-bullying efforts:
"On Monday, First Lady Melania Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos traveled to the Detroit suburbs for an event at a middle school meant to commemorate the 'Week of Inclusion' that’s part of National Bullying Prevention Month."
Yeah, what's kind of a problem with that is that DeVos "has already rescinded guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination, and earlier this month, the department rescinded protections for students with disabilities."
File Melania Trump's efforts under "All talk, no action." 

Oh. good grief! "Nasser, who is being honored by the CPJ for her reporting on 'human rights violations, women’s issues, and press freedom in her home country,' was asked in both her applications for a U.S. visa whether she had visited Yemen in the last five years." Well, yeah, considering she's a Yemeni and has been reporting from there! She was denied entry to the US because of the Trump Administration's fear of anyone who's been there. This keeping people out who've been to certain countries has done absolutely zip to keep the US safe, but is really effective at making our country look as though it's being run by idiots. Doesn't help that the Trump Administration is also hostile to the press generally.

Fox & Friends got really upset over Rachel Maddow's explanation of the attack in Niger. But they never explained what the attack was all about. They "rebutted" her theory while refusing to provide any alternative explanation.   

The federal government appears to be trying to neutralize Roe vs Wade by means of being overly "protective" of an underage woman in immigration custody.

White House Chief of Staff Kelly said:: "It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases." In response, a person on Twitter said: "I don’t need to be 'held sacred'. I need birth control, paid maternity leave, child care options, universal pre-K, and a safe work place." 

Presiden Trump has been disrespecting the Iran deal. Are China and North Koea the big winners from his doing so?

This school voucher program is kind of a "best of both worlds" situation for charter schools. They get lots of money from the state with weak oversight and little supervision. The "little people" of course, don't get much at all.

The President put out two tweets, the first of which read "The Budget passed late last night, 51 to 49. We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against...." Gee, I wonder why no Democrats voted for a package that gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy? Hmm, lemme think about that. Maybe because the US needs lots and lots of spending while the rich really don't need a tax cut?

As a former member of the military (PN3, USN, 1991-2001), no there's nothing inappropriate about disagreeing with a military person of any rank. Obviously a person of lower rank should not be rude to a person of higher rank, there are proper protocols to observe and obviously when a person of high rank is talking about a subject within his specialty then the odds that he or she knows more than you are very good. But I was at an event where a three-star Admiral talked about bicycling and I figured it had been at least three decades since he used a bike in any serious way and I was using one regularly for both commuting and pleasure. No, I didn't get up and tell the Admiral he was wrong, but I felt he was. More on civilians vs military people

Hmm, so the deal Israel is offering to Hamas appears to be "Surrender and give us everything we want. In return, you get nothing." More on that. 

For many, many years, right-wingers have characterized the estate tax ("death tax") as hurting small businesspeople and farmers and for just as many years, liberals and other fact-based people have been pointing out that the real losers from the estate tax are the descendants of suit-wearing, yacht-sailing, golf-playing moguls who mostly inherited their wealth to begin with.

Oh, good grief! Chad was added to the latest iteration of the travel ban (thankfully struck down by the courts) for the dumbest, most moronic reason imaginable! It was matter of a lack of office supplies, specifically a lack of a special type of passport paper! Various extremist groups are active in Chad, so it's very, very important to retain Chad as an ally. More on that. Is the passport snafu related to the attack that took four soldiers' loves? Ehh, hard to say. This blogger doesn't think the two are connectd. 

Attorney General Sessions was already under fire for "moving the goalposts," changing his story to fit newly revealed evidence, so he then moved the goal posts again. He also got very huffy and defensive when Senator Al Franken pointed this out.

Current status of Puerto Rico: still not looking so great.

Hmm, the blogger brings up a very good point. Fox News never mentioned the US conflict in Niger. Is that why the President has no idea that there even is a conflict there?
Also, the guest mentions that while US troops allegedly felt confident that the younger George Bush and Trump "have their backs," they supposedly didn't feel the same way about Obama. So, does "support the troops" just mean "keep them fighting forever"?

Woo hoo! After the fall of their capital Raqqa, ISIS is pretty much defeated. Assistance from Obama and Trump helped. but Muslims did the great majority of on-the-ground fighting.

President Trump takes credit for the defeat of ISIS. *Sigh* Okay, if we were to use World War II analogies and consider the fall of Mosul in 2014 as Pearl Harbor, then when the Trump Administration took office, Allied troops had won the Battle of Normandy and were taking France. Soviet troops had won the Battle of Kursk and were well on the way to Berlin, and the Japanese Navy had lost the Battle of Guadalcanal and the US Navy was well on its way to Tokyo. Yes, the Trump Administration was not completely irrelevant, but all they did was to follow the Obama plan. 

"Judge: Newest Travel Ban Has ‘Same Maladies’ As Previous Version"
How the ban is put together is still a complete cluster****. 

For example, Iraq failed to meet the security benchmark but was omitted from the ban. Somalia met the information-sharing benchmark but was included. 

And BTW, there have been no attacks from any of the banned countries since the first ban was initiated. What no one appears to be able to satisfactorily explain is why Chad ever made it onto the list of banned countries. 

President Trump says:
"Obamacare is finished, it's dead, gone. You shouldn't even mention it. It's gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore."
Is he right? Yeah, it's Trumpcare now. Any problems or price rises are all entirely his fault now. Ah, but of course "And I'm not going to blame myself" because he's never to blame for anything.
The blogger also lists lots of lies that Trump told.

Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) tried very hard to make a public impression of a hard-nosed, hard-charging former prosecutor who didn't easily let guilty politicians off the hook when he went after Hillary Clinton and her emails. Gowdy has asked the Trump White House about email use by various people including Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House has said effectively "eff you." So what will Gowdy do now?
Update: Nah, subject changed. Gowdy is drawing equivalences between Obama and Trump DOJs, claiming both were improperly using the Steele Dossier on Trump's Russian activities. 

Attack in Niger leaves three US Green Berets dead and two others injured. 

President Trump, after a very lengthy silence on Niger attack, makes an astonishingly clumsy, thoughtless and careless condolence call to one of the widows. 

President claims to have proof that he didn't make an astonishingly insensitive statement concerning a dead Army Sargeant, but we remember that Trump made the same claim concerning a conversation with former FBI director James Comey and that turned out to be a lie.

Mother of widow confirms Trump's "disrespect" of fallen soldier. 

Touching twittter story about getting a puppy from Iraq to the US and responsibility and professionalism.

Here's the problem with having an unregulated, un-mediated window into the mind of an erratic, impulsive chief executive like President Trump. Not only do we get a window into what he thinks, but we get an insight into the what subjects he's NOT giving any thought to. And the latter list is a pretty lengthy one.

Back in 1996, engineers estimated it would cost $400 million to fix problems in Houston that were making flooding much more serious than it had to be. What does it cost to fix hurricane damage in Houston today? Eh, a mere $180 billion.

The SF Chronicle wonders: 

As raging wildfires devour the lives, homes and dreams of Californians in an unprecedented scale, one voice has been conspicuously mute through day after day of crisis: President Trump.

One of the many tweets put out by the President since the California wildfires began was “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation.” The appreciation of US citizens would be a whole lot greater if the guy would do his job. That is, his whole job and not just the parts he finds agreeable!

It was clear to me that, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump's criticisms of the Iran agreement were very vague, fuzzy and non-specific. The blogger presents an excerpt from a Fox News interview that shows that the President really has no idea what the agreement contains. 

Since the beginning of Trump’s political career, there are all kinds of examples of him condemning the Iran deal, but there are literally no examples of him accurately describing what the policy is, what it does, what it includes, or what would happen if he kills it.

Should President Trump talk with people like Sean Hannity and John Bolton about Iran and nuclear weapons? Sure. One never knows where one will get good advice from. But the real question here is should the president depend exclusively on people like Hannity and Bolton? There I have to come down squarely on "No!" A decision this important requires listening to all viewpoints and making a carefully reasoned decision.
Can a president rely on his "gut"? The younger George Bush did that quite a bit and I think his gut was about the worst decision-maker I ever saw.

Heh! You know the war against weed is going poorly when a governor has to make up a completely fictitious reason to keep waging it. “Kentucky governor says he’ll never legalize marijuana because of the ‘overdoses'

Oh, good grief!
"It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Irans government end its pursuit of death and destruction. President Donald J. Trump"
Yeah, the blogger I got this from described as a paper that seems as though it was written by a 20-year old pulling an all-nighter. Note that in the very first sentence, the writer(s) forgot the apostrophe when referring to Iran.

Regardless of potential legal problems with the ACA/Obamacare, there are appropriate and there are wildly irresponsible and inappropriate ways of dealing with those problems. The Trump Administration has obviously chosen to take the hastiest and most destructive route possible.

A corporation has a "religious objection"?
Sorry, but I've worked for my share of incompetent bosses who couldn't even do their own, mandated jobs properly. In no way, shape or form is a corporation capable of making deeply personal decisions for employees.

Results be damned, Betsy DeVos loves her some online charter schools
As we've seen with regular brick and mortar charter schools, this not a movement driven by parents, teachers or students as it's not a matter of people discovering that charters work better than regular schools. This is instead a movement driven by investors who have captured the government and who then bend it to serve their interests.

FEMA says it's the responsibility of the mayors of towns in Perto Rico to get food, water and other supplies to residents. Okay, but do the mayors have the trucks, fuel and communications necessary to do that? Also, residents are being asked to do lots and lots of bureaucratic paperwork before they get assistance. 
Reminds me of the system the younger George Bush set up for the areas surrounding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Residents of areas that needed help had to phone in their requests. Problem was, the phone system wasn't working as the floods had wiped most of it out.

A Twitter user posts a picture of a sheet telling residentsof a town in Puerto Rico who need assistance to phone or email for that assistance. The island doesn't have phone service or the internet as all of the electricity is knocked out.

On the wildfires in California.
“Satellite image of California last night. Those aren’t lights. They’re wildfires.” And
“California wildfires 
17: Deaths so far 
100+: Injuries 
200+: Missing persons 
122,000: Acres burned
$65 billion: Est property damage" 

Yeah, Harvey Weinstein is guilty of terrible things and Clinton and Obama should probably have spoken up earlier, but seriously, members of the Trump Administration are tossing stones from a glass house here! They have no business trying to put on airs and to act all holier-than-thou here 

Whuuh!?!?!?! Rush Limbaugh, taking the correct, First Amendment-friendly position on football players kneeling?!?!?! I'm pleasantly shocked and surprised.

Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev’s granddaughter notes that President Trump's attacks on our media today remind her of Joseph Stalin's attacks on the media in his day. 

“Here, President Trump defined ‘fake news’ the way Joseph Stalin defined ‘enemies of the people’: if they offer a slightest objection to his rule they must be wrong,” Kruscheva told the Washington Examiner. “And they must be silenced.”.

Two months ago, the President declared opioids to be a crisis. But nothing's been done since then. Opioid policy is at a complete standstill. I would suggest that the proposed policy is causing a lot of confusion and indecision. When Ronald Reagan became president, he said that the fiscal deficit was the nation's biggest domestic problem. That's been the word for the Republican Party ever since. But there's a very well-understood way to fight the opioid epidemic and that involves spending a lot of money. But the party wants to pass big tax cuts for the rich (they're calling it "tax reform"). The result is that no one in Congress or the presidency really wants to do anything about opioids.

Ah, here we go! The story-behind-the-story as to why Secretary of State Tillerson called President Trump a "f***ing moron" and yes, it does indeed make Trump sound like a complete and utter idiot.

Hackers from DEFCON found it very easy to hack voting systems. Fortunately, they're helping to fix the problem.

After oil, coffee is second-most traded commodity in the world. Climate change puts coffee at great risk.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein found to be a serial sexual harasser. He was a straight-up rapist along with using blackmail and pressuring Hollywood women to have sex with him. He was also very litigious towards those who wanted to make accusations. 

Alex Jones: "I mean, there’s some truth to, hey you know what you’re getting into when you go to Hollywood."
No, that's something that needs to be changed. That's not something where we can say it's the fault of anybody but the attacker. With Jones' attitude, nothing will ever get cleaned up.

Representative Marsha Blackburn includes in her campaign video (She's running to become a Senator) the statement: “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts. Thank God.” Twitter ruled that the statement could not be used because it was inflammatory. They later reversed themselves. But what what was obvious from the very first day that the video from the Center for Medical Progress aired was that the statement was an unmitigated, flat-out lie. Years of investigations showed that no "baby body parts" were ever sold, by anybody, to anybody. Apparently, Twitter does not make decisions based on truthfulness.

Got this link from comments to a tweet. Kind of amazing how many diplomatic positions are still unconfirmed or where no nomination has even been made. If a certain president were to spend less time on the golf course and more time working, there might not be so many empty spots.

Survey of President Trump's obsession with IQ scores. Interesting that for an alleged intellectual giant, he spelled Jon Stewart's first name correctly on 8 May 2013 (though he put a question mark after Stewart) but spelled it "John" on 22 May 2013. Yep, real intellectual powerhouse there!

"The Mad King & His Criminal Enablers" Status on Puerto Rican recovery.

Comedian John Oliver looks at Confederate monuments and how we might deal with them. 

Hmm. Interesting response to Senator Meadows' criticisms. 
"It's easy to be bold when you're not coming back."”
Yeah, file this under "Profiles in Cowardice."

Dove Soap puts out an ad where a black woman uses it and then magically turns into a white woman. The way to head off debacles like this is to get some ethnic diversity in the team that approves and produces ads. 
It's good to use focus groups and other tools, but I'm thinking of Robert Clary, who played Corporal Louis LeBeau in the TV show Hogan's Heroes. Clary was a Holocaust survivor, who could monitor scripts as they were presented to the actors at rehearsals. Did the scriptwriters ever come up with plot situations that would offend those who survived the Holocaust? We'll never know, because Clary was there to nip any such things in the bud.
The idea behind the Dove Soap ad, turning an African into a European is actually quite old.

"Pence leaves Colts game after protest during anthem"
I guess Pence's poor tender fee-fees were hurt by players exercising their First Amendment rights. Considering the hours it took to fly there and on to Pence's next stop, the cost must have been a least $250K. 

Very, very interesting that a white nationalist demonstration took place just the night before and neither the POTUS nor the VPOTUS had anything to say about it.  

Why is this a problem? "The de facto head of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission [Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach] drafted a proposal for the administration to amend the National Voter Registration Act with a proof of citizenship requirement to join the rolls..."
Because "Research shows that up to seven percent of Americans do not have a birth certificate or U.S. passport and that people without access to such documents proving citizenship are disproportionately minority citizens." Voter suppresssion works to favor Republican voters.

Keith Olbermann examines President Trump's disdain for Puerto Rico.

Gotta say, I have no faith whatsoever in Senator Cotton’s military analysis of the situation with Iran. I think he’s being hugely over-optimistic about not having to fight an enormous conventional conflict in that country. It’s good that Cotton doesn’t want to simply throw out our nuclear agreement with Iran. His preference is to go back to the negotiating table and to obtain a “better deal” ("better" would be entirely from the perspective of the US, of course). But Iran has no reason whatsoever to renegotiate anything. They’re happy with the deal as is. If the US decides to pull out of the deal, the onus for breaking it will be entirely on us. And of course, if the US proves to be a faithless negotiating partner, that impacts how seriously North Korea will take anything we say.

"Trump: Filibuster Rule Is A ‘Death Sentence’ For Republicans"
This is disturbing because President Trump seems to feel that political parties, or at least the Republican Party, exists only to pass highly partisan bills, bills that the other party, in this case Democrats, will never even consider agreeing to. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of having a democracy when a party completely gives up on even trying to persuade or to find any sort of consensus or common ground.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was very skeptical of the US when negotiations began under Obama, charging that the US would drag in unrelated issues to try and toss a monkey-wrench into the deal. Nobody's mocking Khamenei now as that's exactly wha Trump is now doing

Good thing the Mueller investigation continues! Yeah, this Trump dossier was unverified, but the reporting it did continues to have been pretty solid.

Republican donors are making it very clear that they're upset at not getting their money's worth from the the GOP Congress and the Trump Administration. And yes, I agree with the blogger that, hey now "Let’s not insult honest sex workers" when talking about Congress.

Our former FLOTUS Michelle Obama points out that, y'know, Republicans may be a bit unsympathetic towards women and people of color because, y'know, they're usually "all men, all white."
This of course caused Fox News to have an absolute conniption and to completely lose it.

UN Ambassador Nikki "Haley tries, fails to explain UN vote against rebuking use of death penalty to target LGBTQ people" Major problem with Haley's explanation was that she claimed the death penalty was being condemned wholesale, for all cases of all types. No, this concerned the death penalty for being gay. Period. The ensuing lies and confusion proceeded from that false premise.

Presiden Trump suggests wiping out Puerto Rico's debt? Sounds like a winner to me! Of course, if I were in charge, I'd do something like take over PR's debt payments for a few years or bargain down creditors to take a "haircut" on repayment (creditors would have to settle for so many dimes on the dollar) or something else that wouldn't just wipe out creditors. But yeah, this is a good way to begin the conversation!
Update: D'oh! President Trump changes his mind and decides that Puerto Rican crditors have to have their interests taken into consideration. It's really a problem to have an amateur president who started at the top and doesn't understand how loose, casual comments can panic financial markets. 

"We Asked GOP Senators What Congress Can Do To Prevent Mass Shootings” One telling question was "Any laws he broke, any loopholes and laws he took advantage of?"
Yes, actually. A big loophole was that once a background check is run, federal computers "forget" the person that was just investigated. That is, any record that the person had a check run on them is promptly deleted. That's how the shooter was able to acquire so many guns without ringing any alarm bells. It's one thing to acquire collectables, it's quit another to amass modern, highly lethal weapons.   

"House Passes An Abortion Ban After Letting Children’s Health Program Expire" Subtitle to piece: "The White House said the move will 'facilitate a culture of life.'” *Sigh* Truly difficult to parody or make fun of such ridiculous nonsense. 
Now, the children who were benefiting from the CHIP program were not simply cut off with nothing as of 1 October. The states still have money to continue the program for at least a month or so. But it does show the truth of the saying that anti-choicers care deeply about the child until the child is born! Once the child is out of the womb "You got a problem? Ha! Tough luck, kiddo!"

Big rate hikes happening to the ACA/Obamacare. This has everything to do with Republican sabotage and attempts to repeal it and nothing to do with the shape the program was in during January of this year.

So former Sheriff David Clarke, who served four terms as Milwaukee’s top law enforcement official and was the go-to guy for commentary on law enforcement issues for Fox News, is asked what we can do about events like the massacre that just occurred in Las Vegas. He shrugged his shoulders and wondered why people even ask. In other words, pro-gun conservatives don't have anything even vaguely resembling an answer.

White House decides that national unity after the Las Vegas shooting is best served by a focus on ... abortion?!?!?!

The singer Tom Petty died last night (Oct 2). His death was announced a few hours before he actually passed, so there was a lot of confusion, but it was clear from the descriptions of his condition that he wouldn't survive for long.
This video is based on Little Nemo in Slumbreland (the strip ran from 1905 to 1914) and the video came out shortly after this volume of reprints did. Happy to see Petty was either a comics fan or history buff or something like that.

Awww! Laura Ingraham steps all over Sean Hannity's boyish fantasy of being the hero that saves the day. Yeah, these heroes who step in and stop the bad guy do occasionally appear, but they're always off-duty police and never free-lance heroes who just happen to be armed and on the scene.

The shooter wasn't in a steel-reinforced concrete bunker, but as far as people with pistols shooting back from the ground were concerned, he might as well have been. Pictures starting at about the 3:20 mark.He was several hundred yards away and a few hundred feet up in the air and no one wanted to strike any of th surrounding rooms. Maybe a professional sniper, properly armed could have successfuly shot back.

In December of last year, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that would have prevented 75,000 people from buying guns (People who couldn't handle their own financial affairs, for example). In February, the Republican House and Senate passed a bill repealing the Obama rule and the Republican President signed it. #complicit

For quite some time, the mantra of the NRA has been: "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
I think by now that theory has been thoroughly tested and has been found wanting.

Dana Perino of Fox News says:
"...what if it turned out that there was some sort of ISIS connection? And that takes the NRA piece off the table."
Erm, no. No, it doesn't. It just means that an ISIS person was able to exploit weak gun laws to obtain a gun inside the US without a background check. Yes, ISIS has really told their members not to try and smuggle guns into the US as it's so easy to legally pick up a gun once they get here.

Very good piece on the Puerto Rico issue. Severe dereliction of duty on the President's part.

Horrors! Shooting in Las Vegas leaves at least 50 dead.

"Thoughts and prayers" tweets from Congresspeople & Senators who voted against the 2013 Assault Weapons Ban. Also, President makes brief speech. In both cases, no policy solutions are offered. Since Newtown, CT, there have been many solutions available, but none have been enacted into legislation.

And remember, it's never the correct or proper or appropriate time to talk about solutions to mass killings.

President Trump is correct when he says that three presidents prior to him didn't manage to find a permanent solution to North Korea and nuclear weapons. He also appears to be confused by the last several North Korean leaders all having names that started with Kim Jong and seems to think they're all one person. This does not give me the slightest confidence that he has the vaguest clue as to what he's doing!

Puerto Ricans jumping in and doing what they can. No, they aren't just sitting around and waiting for help to arrive.

Ana Navarro is furious at President Trump's attacks on the Mayor of San Juan.

The Kurds have been strong, loyal and militarily effective allies against ISIS, but their vote for independence creates lots of headaches. None of the surrounding countries that contain Kurdish minorities are happy.

Justice Department lawyer Hashim Mooppan says:
"Employers under Title VII are permitted to consider employees' out-of-work sexual conduct," Mooppan told the judges. "There is a common sense, intuitive difference between sex and sexual orientation."
But it's far from clear why the difference should be meaningful. Sure, back in the old days, way back when, one might argue that from a company's public relations perspective, but that ol' dog hasn't hunted for quite some time now. It's far from clear why the off-hours sexual conduct of an employee should be of any concern to anyone.

Rather odd statement concerning the response to the Puerto Rican crisis:
“It didn’t require a three-star general eight days ago,” [Tom] Bossert [President Trump’s homeland security adviser] said of the government response.
Erm, yeah, it kinda did. Had there been someone with real authority and a sense of urgency there, the situation might not have deteriorated so much.

San Juan has plenty of shipping containers full of needed goods, the problem now is getting them from the capital city to where they're needed. But yeah, the President is confirmig the worst, most pessimistic fears of his critics. He's completely unfit for office.

September                      back to top

Rally for Puerto Rico and observance of 250th day of Trump Administration.

The Mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, wonders where this "good news" is that a bureaucrat is talking about. President Trump is, of course, less than pleased about being criticized over his failure to do his job. 

President Trump complains that the Mayor of San Juan is demonstrating poor leadership. Joe Scarborough responds: “Poor leadership would be hiding at a country club golfing while fellow Americans are suffering and dying. She's not doing that. You are."

President Trump wants to use small nuclear plants to restore Puerto Rico's power grid. Not a bad idea (Except for the time involved, of course), but he appears to be fuzzy on the deatils.

“Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of C-17 [military cargo] aircraft, transport it to an area like Puerto Rico, and push it out the back end, crank it up, and plug it in?”

Erm, the plants weigh about 650 tons, showing yet again how in touch he is with his own proposals.

Kurds in Iraq vote overwhelmingly to establish a separate state. Iraq not at all pleased by that. This is kind of a touchy situation because there are Kurds in Iran, Turkey and Syria, so none of those states want to see Kurdish independence.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price draws a rather, erm, shall we say, interesting distinction here. He spent at least $400,000 of taxpayer money on chartered flights, but wants to cover only "his seat," which he calculates at just a little over $50,000. The problem is that a chartered flight is one that wasn't scheduled to go to a destination. It's a plane that was just going to sit in hangar until you chartered it and you then directed it to go to a destination.

Price gets booted out. The whole incident points to extremely sloppy supervision and oversight on the part of the Trump Administration. Reporters are finding new travel abuses as we speak. 

Price claims that he got approval for all of his flights. Very clearly, the Trump Administration had an utterly worthles travel approval process where bureaucrats just rubber-stamp every request. 

So what do the deficit hawks have to say about the Republican plan to slash taxes for the wealthy? Crickets, of course. Yep, as usual. Deficits are awful under Democratic administration. Under Republican ones? Eh. Somehow those "iron laws" of fiscal discipline become fuzzy and irrelevant.
This latest round of excuse-making is a good one: One of their goals is to "end carve outs for special interests." Ha, ha, ha! That, I assure you, will never happen!

Good! The Jones Act stated that all seaborne transportation has to be American-flagged. This was preventing much-needed supplies from reachng Puerto Rico. Still more to be done, but a very good beginning.

Media gives President Trump's statements on his tax plan a pass, uncritically repeating his statements without noting that the pressure to move on to taxes is coming from major campaign donors. Obviously, campaign contributors aren't concerned about how taxes affect common people, so the media should always keep the motivations of those who are pushing the tax issue in mind.

Reporter asks President why Sudan was removed from the travel ban. President really doesn't appear to have a clue.

Senator Lindsey Graham admits hae had no clue as to what he was doing when he served as the point person for the latest attempt to repeal/replace the ACA/Obamacare.
You know what's amazing here is that the time to start designing a replacement for the ACA was in 2010, right after it passed. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has been content to have other paint him as a master strategist and Speaker Ryan really enjoys playing a policy wonk. If either of these images were true, the GOP would have had a fully-worked out plan ready to go when Trump took office. Problem is, both of these images are complete fiction and always have been.

One quick item to remember about the proposed tax breaks is that 65% of the people oppose cutting taxes for rich people.

Wow! The statement of a whacked-out, raging fanatic. "[Trump] has done such a tremendous job with virtually no help." You know why he's received no help? He has deliberately and consciously alienated people. In his very first statement to the assembled VIPs of government, he talked about the "millions" of illegally-cast votes that Clinton received and that's why didn't win the popular vote. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told him he wasn't going to get anywhere by openly mixing fantasy with reality. He didn't appreciate her comment. That's why he doesn't get much help!

When policemen kill unarmed black civilians,and football players kneel during the anthem in response, it's Rush Limbaugh who's the real victim here. Problem is, sports figures are just supposed to be TV characters, they're not supposed to be real people with real issues.  

Extremely happy to see that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is faring so poorly and that's not just schadenfreude. His plan was to spend years and years blocking and obstructing, after which he was going to become a successful Majority Leader who was going to pass all sorts of good legislation. Had the second part of his agenda been successful (The first part was undeniably very successful), many people were prepared to copy his obstructionist tactics. I would love to see McConnell forcibly retired from his position in disgrace!

Trevor Noah was on fire here with a really good show on our President and race relations. The Katy Tur interview is well worth watching, but the first two segments are really good.

It's a really wonderful and marvelous thing that all five living former presidents are united in calling for aid to Puerto Rico, which really, desperately needs aid immediately. The current POTUS and the House and Senate? Taking away health care plans from tens of millions and giving more tax cuts to the wealthy are their priorities! The term for that is moral bankruptcy.

Puerto Rico could be a serious showcase for wind and solar energy but Congress has to drop its obsession with the ACA/Obamacare and needs to forgive Puerto Rico its $70 billion debt.

Even if we presume, as the newsperson here suggests, that Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) is correct about the flaws and problems with the ACA/Obamacare, that still leaves unanswered the question: "How is the Graham-Cassidy bill any sort of improvement over the ACA?"

On the one hand, we (quite justifiably) beat up on the President for ignoring Puerto Rico at a time when the American territory really desperately needs help. On the other hand, the press doesn't really seem to give a damn any more than the political leadership of the country does.

"Kushner used private email to conduct White House business"  
Hmm. Gee, I think I recall someone else doing the same thing. What was considered the appropriate response? Oh, yeah, that's right! "Lock him up! Lock him up!"

"'They Can Do Free Speech On Their Own Time': Mnuchin Lashes Out At Players Who Take A Knee For Anthem"
Sounds like Treasury Secretary Mnuchin would have liked the younger George Bush practice of "Free Speech Zones," areas where people could protest but that were set well away from where anybody could see them.

Russian cyber-attacks on election systems in 2016 mainly consisted of reconnaissance missions, hackers trying to determine where the weak spots were. States are wondering though, why they're just now getting informed of these attacks.

If campaign donors are demanding that the ACA/Obamacare be dismantled so as to make it easier to get tax cuts, then that sounds to me like a really, really seriously good argument for campaign finance reform. If politicians are pushing for a bill that the entire medical profession opposes strictly because campaign donors are demanding it, that sounds an awful lot like a seriously broken system

What's interesting about President Trump's speech here is to see that, once again (as has been clear for several months), he has absolutely no clue as to what's actually in the bill he's promoting. Therefore, he can't fathom why anyone would oppose it.

NSFW (Not Safe For Work) summary of President's speech. Seriously, if drug sugglers are going to toss drugs over the wall, they're not going to toss five to ten pound bags by hand. It's far more likely they'd use bags that were 100 pounds or over and they'd use a catapault. Whether the wall was transparent or not, you'd never see it coming and if it hit you, you woudn't survive it. 

Fox News host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery suggests that charity can make up for the deficiencies in the Grahan-Cassidy bill. It was in the 1700s that people began thinking that charity really wasn't enough and was insufficient by itself to solve health problems. So hey, she's only about 300 years off! 

Lou Dobbs says:  President Trump is "possibly the strongest individual to serve in the Oval Office in my lifetime" and that he has "established himself as the leader of this nation." Hmm. Well,if you read the first few paragraphs here, it's very clear that, as Jimmy Kimmel said "At this point [Trump] would sign anything if it meant getting rid of ObamaCare. He’d sign copies of the Koran at the Barnes and Noble in Fallujah, if it meant he could get rid of ObamaCare.” I'm just not sure what definition of "strength" covers such utter and absolute desperation to repeal something that regular people all over the US are fighting very hard to keep.

Very cool! The current FLOTUS could very easily have had Michelle Obama's White House garden dismantled or could have just ignored it and allowed it to fall into disrepair. Melania Trump put on some jeans and a flannel shirt, invited some young people over and spent a few hours in the garden.

White House has questions about the new replacement bill for the ACA/Obamacare. 
Let's take these objections one at a time:
1. "One official said the concerns from governors have alarmed some in the White House" Good! The White House should be alarmed because it's an awful bill that will hurt people!
2. "we really aren't sure what the impact will be” Erm, have y'all tried actually reading the bill or getting the architects to explain it to you? Figuring out what a bill will do isn't that hard!
3. "the bill could bring political blowback from the left and right." Yes, yes it very much could because it's a bill that neither completely throws out all the aspects of the ACA nor does it improve on the ACA. It's a stinking, flea-ridden dog of a bill that should be put out of its misery. As Senator McCain says, the Senate needs to go back to regular order.

So Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price appears to have used private jets for government business when cheaper commercial flights were most likely available. Normally, politicians accused of such things can lean on their reputations for straight dealing and selfless service. Kind of a problem with that is that Price has no such record to fall back on.

Hard to take issue with any of this:
Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday that Donald Trump’s address to the UN had been the performance of a “cowboy” or a “mobster.” The US president’s words, he said, were “disturbed” and “detached from reality.”

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel claimed that Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was misrepresenting his own bill. Politico refereed. Turns out Kimmel and his crew were making completely accurate charges and the Senator wasn't being at all truthful.
*Sigh* America 2017!

Computers are great. I use 'em all the time. But for balloting, we can never have an all-digital system. Paper must be part of the picture! Computers can only be a side feature.

Asked why it's necessary to replace the ACA/Obamacare, nine Republican Senators come up with some, erm, ah, interesting answers. Senator Inhofe's idea that "as a general rule the states do things better than the federal government does [things]" and that transferring health care to the states will cause efficiencies that will make up for federal cuts seems very highly questionable. I'm not really sure that's the case at all. Senator Cruz likes the idea of "consumer freedom,"
but medical care doesn't respond to market incentives as a medical procedure is not a market capitalist procedure. And Senator Kennedy demonstrates that the theory of states rights has definite limits as he wants to forbid states to set up single-payer systems. He should talk to Senator Inhofe about how states always make better decisions than the federal government does.

Senator Bill Cassidy just can't help lying about his horrible, vicious health plan. He says it's designed to be better than the ACA/Obamacare, but no one who has crunched the numbers on it agrees. Does the bill cover pre-existing conditions as Cassidy claims it does? Not really. States are permitted to charge higher premiums for those people, meaning sure, people can get coverage, but they'll somehow have to come up with the money for ruinously higher premiums.

Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds. No one there has electrical power because the power lines were all brought down. The island got a foot of rain in just a few hors.

Ahh, so that's what's been going on with former Sheriff David Clarke lately. He was caught plagiarising his 2013 thesis. Kind of stupid in that he stole from the "9/11 Commission Report" and the younger George Bush's "Decision Points," neither of which is an obscure source.

"Trump blocks woman with stage 4 cancer on Twitter after she criticized his latest health care plan."
Interesting piece. Reminds me of the younger George Bush and Cindy Sheehan. Like President Trump today, Bush demonstrated cowardice in the face of a woman who just wanted a real conversation about a serious issue.

In an absolutely astonishing bit of poor timing, President Trump threatens the lives of all 25 milion North Korean citiznes and FLOTUS Melania Trump makes a speech denouncing cyber-bullying.

Senator Chuck Grassley says:

Despite many reasons to oppose Graham-Cassidy, GOP must support it to uphold campaign promises.

This is not even remotely close to being a good enough reason to pass the latest monstrosity of a health care bill. If Republicans couldn't come up with a better plan in seven years, that's not a reason to just pass any ol' thing in a rush. It's a reason to pull back, have open hearings and to spend some serious time trying to make the ACA/Obamacare better.

I guess Rick Santorum never got over his electoral drubbing and that his grim, furious hatred for the American people lived on in the form of the worst ACA/Obamacare alternative yet.

Good to see confirmation here

In a clear bid to boost the bill’s prospects Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House came out in opposition to a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare being written by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash). The intention was to put pressure on Republican senators to back the last-ditch effort to gut Obamacare.

There is no problem with the ACA/Obamacare that is encouraging the GOP to kill the ACA. If the ACA is suffering problems, they are entirely because the Republican Party is sabotaging it.

Senator Bill Cassidy told late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he was in favor of applying the "Jimmy Kimmel test" to health care bills. Kimmel rakes him over the coals for lying.

A tweet on the Graham-Cassidy ACA/Obamacare replacement plan notes:

Telling moment from Graham:
Notes CA & NY are "big blue states"
“I'm not out to hurt them—but Im trying to, you know, create parity here”

Rather interesting excuse on the Speaker's part: “I’ll take [the] federalism of Graham-Cassidy over a collapsing ObamaCare system any day.”
But when Obama left office, the ACA was in no danger whatsoever of collapsing. If it's in any danger of that today, it's 100% because of Republican sabotage, not because of any inherent or built-in weaknesses within the ACA.

"In ‘aggressive move,’ federal agency overrules New York on pipeline permit
Yeah, the slogans "state's rights" and "local control" are really popular with right-wingers. Until the moment comes when those oh-so-precious states rights conflict with corporate greed. Then states rights get tossed out the window without a moment's hesitation.

Yeah, President Trump collected quite a bit of money for his inaugural celebration. He promised to give the excess to charity. No evidence that he's done that. It's really easy to make promises. Following up requires time and effort.

Whoa! Meat grown in a lab? In the attached video, vegans aren't impressed and won't eat it anyway but the meat-eaters are cool with it! They aren't fussy at all. Personally, I've tried vegetarian meat-like-looking dishes. They don't taste bad, but I prefer vegetables that look like vegetables and that don't try to disguise themselves as meat.

An even worse bill for the American people (Though, as usual, the really wealthy taxpayers will get away with big tax breaks) that delivers an even more inferior health care package, but advocacy group aren't taking any chances as we thought the repeal effort was dead before.

President Trump may as well have just put out a pre-recorded message to Jewish leaders as he spoke uninterruptedly and didn't take questions for the traditional pre-Roch Hashanah phone call. This is a call that normally lasts about 45 minutes and is marked by two-way communications. This one-way call took only eight minutes

President Trump put out a tweet depicting himself hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball and knocking her down. This kind of violent image wasn't put out in good, clean fun and it's not harmless. Was he endrsing violence against a former political opponents? Ana Navarro is 100% correct. Of course he was!

Israel requests a 40-mile thick buffer zone between Russian-allied troops in Syria and itself. Russia says essentially: "Hmm. Ehh, we'll give you a three-mile zone." The ability of Syrian allies to fire rockets into Israel unimpeded could convince lots of Israelis to move to Europe and the US without any shots being fired.

David Cay Johnston has covered Trump for decades. "...Donald Trump is a racist. He isn't just a white supremacist, he's a flat out, full racist. Unless your definition of a racist is someone who hung somebody from a tree, he is a racist. He's made awful comments over the years. He is the embodiment of being a racist..."

So there were two rallies on the National Mall in Washington DC yesterday, the "Mother Of All Rallies" and one that was organized by the Juggalo movement. The Juggalo rally eclipsed the thinly-attended pro-President Trump MOAR.

Hillary Clinton's book has now come out and has been declared worth reading. Why did Hillary Clinton lose the 2016 election? She takes the main share of the blame herself. Second place is FBI Director James Comey, third is Vladimir Putin, fourth interestingly enough, is the NY Times and other members of the press corps. If you look at the "Airwave-Grab" chart shows that media coverage of Senators Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined was half that of Clinton's. Clinton then had half of Trump's share. Fallows produces two word frequency charts, showing what words were used to describe Clinton and Trump. Her chart is dominated by "email" and "scandal," Trump's is dominated by "immigration" and "businessman."

Two wannabe "moderate" Republican Senators demonstrate that they really don't understand why block grants, which may work in other contexts, are such a terrible idea for health care.

Essential problem here is that Harvard needed to recognize that its decision to offer Chelsea Manning a Fellowship would be controversial and needed to decide beforehand how to resolve the completely predictable objections. They got the worst of both worlds by 1. inviting Manning in the first place and 2. then withdrawing their invitation under blatant pressure from CIA people. Classic lose-lose situation. Update: Manning says she's "honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting @harvard fellow 😌 they chill marginalized voices under @cia pressure" Further update: Manning met with Harvard students in a quiet, low-profile event. 

The earthquake in Mexico occurred seven days ago. President Trump said it took him three days to reach Mexican President Enrique Pe˝a Nieto to offer condolences for his country's devastating earthquake because of bad cellphone reception.

So President Trump wants to cut taxes for corporations, the middle class and of course for the wealthy. Will Reagan's trickle-down economcs balance out the massive red ink that entails? Investopedia reports that the effects of tax cuts on growing the economy are mixed at best. Deficits are terrible, of course (or at least they are under Democratic presidents), so how in the heck are these massive tax cuts good fiscal policy?

Good! In 2015, AG Eric Holder introduced some long-overdue restrictions on the federal asset forfeiture program. Both AG Sessions and President Trump favor tossing those restrictions aside. The good news is that they're getting lots of pushback from both Rs & Ds in both the House and Senate.

Hah! "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli has to report to jail early due to "solicitation of assault." He was offering money for a bit of Hillary Clinton's hair.

Very pleased to see that ESPN appears disinclined to fire Jemele Hill for her anti-Trump comment. She charged him with being a white supremacist, which of course he is. Being a private company, they could fire her and there wouldn't be much she could do about it. White House, OTOH, appears determined to punish political speech they don't like.

Okay, so we've got a national crisis declared. Opioids were declared to be a national crisis a month ago. What does that require a president to do? Well, he needs to come up with a plan as to how to tackle the crisis and then he needs to produce a shopping list, a list of the material and personnel needed to carry out the plan. As Eisenhower said, it was great fun for Roosevelt and Churchill to go hurling thunderbolts from Mount Olympus but each thunderbolt required thousands of hours of staff work. President Trump can't just direct a few underlings to do all the work and then swoop in at the last minute, sign the documents and get all the glory. American government isn't designed that way.

Our blogger suggests several ways that Saudi Arabia can improve its image. I heartily and cheerfully agree with all of them. 1. Stop war on Yemen. 2. Stop trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad of Syria. 3. Stop beating up on Qatar. 4. Seek peace with Iran. 5. Allow Christian churches in their land. We allow mosques in ours, fair is fair. 6. "Stop pushing climate change denialism. Petroleum is done; put a fork in it." 7. "Let women drive."   

"House votes to curb asset seizures"
Good! I agree with AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III that asset seizures are a really effective tool against crime, but they're also a highly effective tool against innocent people who haven't done anything wrong. The initial idea back in the 1970s was that crime bosses were getting high-priced lawyers and getting off. But seizing assets never struck me as a fair or legitimate way to counter that.

So Kris Kobach, the head of the Voter Integrity Commission. found it difficult to explain in a "mere" 800-word essay, just what a "domicile" is and why around 5,500 New Hampshire voters didn't break any laws by not getting their drivers licenses updated. And gee, NH voters weren't very pleased to have their state held up as an example of voter fraud.

The Hurricane of 1938 struck, hitting Long Island NY very suddenly and then moving on to the New England states. No advance warning could reach Long Island in time and  immense damage was done. All the money and time and effort that we've since put into tracking and warning people about hurricanes has been money that was very well spent and that has saved many, many lives. Hurricane Irma unexpectedly shifted to the West side of Florida, people were quickly told and were able to make preparations and to get to shelters.

Stuart Varney of Fox News points out, correctly, that it's government's role to respond to natural disasters and that it's really neither here nor there whether you use federak or state governments to do the job. Judge Napolitano has nothing coherent to say in response.

And yes, back in 1996, engineers took a hard look at potential flooding problems in Houston, TX and recommended ways to deal with them. Of course, the fixes would have cost around $400 million so they were never done. Update: Fortunes estimates hurricane damage costs in Houston could be as high as $180 billion. 

Hurricane Irma hits Florida. Winds have now died down a bit, which is good. Real upcoming problem is storm surge as water comes into shore driven by wind. Update: 
A collection of tweets on damage in Florida.

The "Ivanka drive-by" is a fairly canny strategy that encourages President Trump and other right-wingers to see all women as emotionally immature.

The police in Houston, TX have stated clearly and repeatedly that cooperation between regular people and regular people and police has been exemplary. There's been pretty much zero looting. But Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson feel the need to make it sound as though armed African-American gangs are robbing and looting and threatening every white person with guns because that's the picture they want to paint.

Why aren't/weren't passenger rail cars in Florida carrying millions to safety? Why are/were Southern Florida residents so utterly dependent on automobiles? A big problem with rail service in Florida is partially that Republicans have a phobia about necessary public spending, but also that they're unclear as to how to merge rail traffic with foot and auto traffic. In New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, they elevate and depress railroad tracks so that foot and auto traffic can pass over and under the railroad. Of course, the Northern states are in pretty hilly country and Florida doesn't have many hills.

The Trump Election Integrity Commission claims to have found proof of serious, substantive, in-person voter fraud in New Hampshire during the 2016 election. Over 6,500 people registered to vote on Election Day using out-of-state driver's licenses. "Conservatives say the state’s same-day registration is an invitation for fraud because of loose proof-of-residence rules." Or it might just mean that an out-of-state student doesn't own a car yet and so doesn't see the need to update her or his driver's license. They most likely presented other proof of residence, such as a college ID or utility bill. The lack of an in-state license doesn't by any means prove that voters didn't reside in New Hampshire when they registerd to vote. It's an interesting theory that "So if those 6,540 voters were bona fide New Hampshire residents, they would get their driver’s license no later than January 7, 2017," and about 1,000 did, but there's no legal requirement to do so. 

Mike Huckabee claims that liberals are expressing a "hatred for Donald Trump [that] is so irrational..." No, there's nothing at all irrational about hating a person who doesn't represent American values serving as our chief representative to the world.

An examination on the contention of columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates that Trump is our "first white president." That is, Trump is the first to make a big deal out of his ethnicity. For every other president before Obama, whiteness was simply assumed.

Wind farms survived Hurricane Harvey quite nicely, thank you. Two good pieces, pro and con of using electric cars for an evacuations. 

All five lving ex-presidents have joined together to request donations for Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

Wow! "The epicenter of Thursday’s earthquake was about 60 miles off the coast of Chiapas state, near the border with Guatemala" and yet the quake was felt as far away as Mexico City.

Rush Limbaugh initially denounced Hurricane Irma as a liberal conspiracy because of course he did. Now, he's taking off on a private plane and making the excuse that he can't do his radio show for a bit because of "the security nature of things," which of course has nothing to do with anything.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney says he and President Trump are both upset at the inability of Congress to pass legislation, which is kind of hilarious because Mulvaney was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, which has done far more to block legislation than it's ever done to actually advane anything.

Former Trump Administration strategist Steve Bannon says Roman Catholic Church has ulterior motive for protecting undocumented immigrants because he just can't imagine anyone having a purely religious or moral motive for anything. 

Equifax was breached from mid-May to July. Up to 143 million accounts were compromised with thieves able to get lots of personal info on people.

On the extreme severity of the Equifax breach. The piece recommends not using Equifax's website to check your status.

House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes seems awfully upset and irritable about the Steele Dossier. This is a dossier full of unvetted, unverified, raw intelligence. Problem for President Trump and enablers like Nunes is that it's holding up remarkably well under examination.

Hurricane Irma passes through the island of St. Martin and wreaks havoc.

It's really critical to quickly ram through a bill for Hurricane Harvey relief, but the Freedom Caucus was threatening to make a fuss, so President Trump agreed to a Democratic proposal.

Regnery Publishing is upset that the NY Times refuses to put Dinesh D'Souza's latest effort (a re-hashing of Jonah Goldberg's thoroughly debunked Liberal Facism) at better than #7, but that's because D'Souza's a really lousy writer, not because the NY Times best-seller list is biased against conservatives.

Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who already has a "Marie Antoinette problem," apologizes for her conduct while wearing a very espensive-looking gown

800K "Dreamers" were protected from deportation by the DACA program. That's now been cancelled. Apparently, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner wanted the program to remain active, but "...they are either the most impotent White House advisers in the history of the American presidency or they're lying about everything and they simply say to the press if something is unpopular, 'Oh, I was against that.'"

Speaker Ryan puts ot statement on DACA, claming it wasn't working and that former President Obama was over-reaching his authority to insitute DACA in the first place. Personally, I think Obama was exercising prosecutorial discretion and not over-reaching, but let's accept Speaker Ryan's assertion for the momoent. What was Congress doing about immigration issues? Nothing!!! They were sitting around and twiddling their thumbs! Congress isn't helpless. If they don't like what an exective order does, they can over-ride it by passing a law. 

Kris Kobach tells us that out of around 780,000 people benefiting from DACA, 1,500 are documented as being criminals. Kobach has anecdotal evidence that the number of criminals should be higher, but from the evidence he cites, it sounds like the number should be 2,000 or at the most 2,100 instead of 1,500. He presents these other criminals as though they're a meaningful and significant part of the picture.

The siege of Gaza has been in place for a decade now and living conditions there are awful.

"President accuses South Korean government of 'appeasement.'" Trump is upset that South Korea seems to want to find a diplomatic solution to the problem of North Korea. That reminds me that a few months after the fall of Baghdad, the younger George Bush said about Iraqi insurgents "Bring them on!" This was, of course, from an air-conditioned studio many thousands of miles from where the fighting was taking place. If North Korea attacks the South, Seoul is likely to get hit within the first 15 minutes and there might not be much left except piles of ash.

Back in July, the President "joked" about not protecting people in police custody, essentially suggesting that police "act as judge, jury and executioner" right there on the street. By pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump shows us that his comment was a deadly serious one. He meant every word of it.

AP reporters went to several hazardous-waste sites near Houston and found no evidence that the EPA had inspected many of them. A spokesperson's use of the term "yellow journalism" to describe the APs reporting does absolutely nothing to reassure me that the agency is being run by professionals. In fact, it sounds like Scott Pruitt's energetic efforts to dismantle the EPA combined with President Trump's sluggish rate of appointing personnel to key positions has had the effect of seriously slowing down the EPA's ability to respond to environmental catastrophes.

Kelllyanne Conway attempts to justify President Trump's record. She points out that many people approved of President Trump's "Fire and fury" statement, but North Korea has made far more progress in building nuclear weapons in response to Trump's provocative and belligerent language than they ever did in response to Obama's bribery, nice words and dipolomacy. 
Trump raised the issue of undocumented immigrants? No, that issue was tackled back in 2013 when the Senate passed a bill (S.744). No one was entirely happy with it as both sides made compromises. The House then got the bill where it's been sitting around gathering dust because the Freedom Caucus doesn't like it. Of course, Trump hasn't tried to re-start the Senate bill. Thank him and the Republicans in the House for lack of progress on immigration.

WaPo says:
"These voters — and almost all of them voted — see Trump’s flaws but perceive him as a fellow sinner willing to fight the forces of the establishment on their behalf."
As the DKos blogger says: "So … the argument is that they’re willing to overlook anything because they think Trump is doing what they want and will give them a political advantage. Congratulations! That’s the cynical position held by every, single, person, ever who was ready to discard morality for gain."

Extremely good news on wind power vs fossil fuels, not only is wind power non-polluting, but during Hurricane Harvey, it kept on producing power. There were some losses, but the majority of the windmills just kept right on turning. The fossil fuel depots and producers had to be shut down. Also, wireless networks proved to be more survivable than traditional phone lines did, but they could use some improvement.  

A critical examination of the whole "snowflake" insult.

Very cool! Representative Blake Farenthold (TX-27) has taken a LOT of (entirely justified) grief on social media, but comes up with a very sensible answer here. The President should put the idea of a wall aside and should instead use all of those resources and people-power and dollars to rebuild Houston instead.

Very shortly after Fox & Friends demands a swift end to Robert Muelller's investigation of the President, it's discovered that Russian hacking has been far more extensive than was previously reported.

This is insane! The nurse is obviously a professional and clearly takes her job very seriously. The policeman here just loses his %$#@ and goes all Hulk smash on her.

Wow! This is the most heartless, most thuggish, most Schutzstaffel (Nazi SS) idea I've seen coming from an elected official in quite a while! Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach argues that if local law enforcement can't make a case against someone they have in custody, hey, not a problem! Let's just send him over to ICE and see if he or she can be deported! Yes, Kobach has a point that sending someone to Mexico isn't quite the same as locking them up, but the same argument was made about people being denied the ability to get onto airplanes and that clearly needs to have some judicial process.

Yeah, this is an interview where it's so delusional and pro-Trump, you feel obliged to ask Kelly Conway "What's the color of the sky on your planet?" She really said that "humility" was one of Trump's traits.  

And *sigh* yes, Bret Stephens, the climate dismissive, is still employed by the NY Times.

August                      back to top

President Trump decides to cut 90% of ACA/Obamacare ad budget. Keep in mind that there is nothing resembling any sort of even halfway decent replacement for the ACA.

Erm, no. Not even close. President Trump claimed:

"After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey..."

This is so literally not true! Reporters were with Trump the whole time. Yes, he was within the geographical vicinity of where the flooding occurred (Yes, he got over the younger George Bush's very low bar) but it is a documented fact that that he never personally witnessed any of the flooding!

Why do empty positions at the EPA matter? A chemical plant outside Houston has chemicals that need to be kept cool and the generator, being flooded, can't do so. The EPA is tasked with exactly this sort of problem. More details on that.

Mumbai and Niger also got hit with torrential floods this week.

President Trump appears to be pretty miserable in his job.
"Trump returned from a 17-day vacation to find his influence shrunken..."
Uh, yeah! When your accumulated vacation days already exceed Obama's eight year's worth in only a half a year's time, gee, I wonder why your influence has shrunken! At this point, Trump has no political power, no ability to mone legislation and no ability to inspire people. Granted, VP Pence isn't much better, but yeah, I have zero problems with Trump taking an immediate early retirement.

Trump's son Eric has what's absolutely the worst advice I can imagine giving any politician, to "tune out" criticism. If the elder Trump is in danger of commting suicide, then for heaven's sake, quit!

Conservative radio and TV commenter Laura Ingraham agrees with Fox & Friends that the government is severely understaffed for handling Hurricane Harvey. 

Just a few days ago, Sean Hannity was describing North Korea as a solved and handled problem. "Now after failed attempts to smear President Trump with cries of Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, after claiming the president is about to start a nuclear war with North Korea..." D'oh!. North Korea  carried out another missile test.

Celebrity pastor Joel Osteen is being furiously criticized for keeping his mega-church closed during the storm. Houston's been very, very good to him over the years and people are loudly wondering why he isn't helping his neighbors in their time of need. After public shaming, Osteen opens his church.  

Mexico unwilling to spend anything on wall, but is fully prepared to assist Texas.

How relevant is climate change to Hurricane Harvey? Unfortunately, it's very highly relevant.

President Trump proposes to remove lmits on what military gear can be transferred to police. But there's a reason that American citizens were concerned about military gear going to police. There is absolutely nothing that has changed that would justify going backwards. 

Piece makes clear that what President Obama put into place was a partial ban. He just said certain weapons had no place in a civilian police department. There's no legitimate reason to overturn the ban,

How's Houston, TX doing? Not good. 17 feet of water in some places. Oh, and by discussing climate change during the catastrophic flooding there, Fox News says that those who believe global warming is real are "pushing a leftist agenda."

In terms of electoral mandates, yes, President Trump very clearly has a solid mandate to build a wall on our Southern border. He proposed it and his voters enthusiastically endorsed it. But that mandate had two parts! We weren't just going to build it, Mexico was going to pay for it. Nope. Without the second part, the first part's inoperative.

Arpaio pardon causing lots and lots of hate and discontent, especially among Latinos.

Hurricane Harvey hits Houston and area. No concern about waves from the Gulf, but rainfall has been above 14 inches in areas.

With a major hurricane headed for Texas and North Korea testing missiles, seems a pretty odd time for the President to go running off to a golfing vacation. There are also lots of unfilled seats in the EPA.

Was the President aware that Hurricane Harvey was headed for Texas? Eventually, he made it clear that he was aware of it. How about local and state officials? Ehh, kind of a cluster****. Of course, the two sentors from Texas want lots and lots of federal dollars to deal wih Harvey, even though they both voted against federal aid for Hurricane Sandy.  

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio pardoned.
ACLU explains what it did that got Arpaio sentenced to begin with. It's quite disgusting that he got pardoned. 

Did President Trump follow the guidelines and protocols for pardoning? It's far from clear that the President actuall broke any sort of law, this is more of a question of customes and traditions. But in general, a pardon is granted on the basis of the petitioner's demonstrated good conduct for a substantial period of time after conviction and service of sentence. The Department's regulations require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement. Arpaio was pardoned before having served a single day in jail. 

Jesse Waters, a Fox News defender of President Trump, says: “Stable, conventional politicians have gotten us trillions of dollars into debt, open borders, and stagnant wages,” he said. “So that’s why Donald Trump was elected.”
Okay, but what's President Trump going to do about any of that? He has no real understanding of these issues and no self-discipline with which to fix any of them. Any political capital, any of people giving him the "benefit of the doubt" is long gone. 

People have commented "Hey, what happened to the Russia investigation while all this other stuff has been going on?" Grinding relentlessly on, thank you very much!

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio complains: "If they can go after me, they can go after anyone in this country." Well, yeah. That is indeed how the law works. When we have a law, we don't carve out a special exception for people who have been in law enforcement for a long time of for those who are politically popular with the current administration. The law applies to them, too. 
Arpaio ran a very brutal, horrible, inhumane jail. He was also found guilty of criminal contempt of cout orders to reform that jail.

Boo! Hiss! Ronald Reagan to be honored by being inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame
Yes, he led the Screen Actors Guild and did a decent job there, but his busting of the air traffic controllers in 1981 as the POTUS was vastly more consequential and did enormous damage to US labor. No, he shouldn't be receiving any honors from labor. Update: In an "eff you" to labor, Reagan was inducted anyway. BTW, was the strike illegal? Well, after a number of moves and counter-moves, "Reagan branded the strike illegal." So apparently it was, but only because he declared it to be so halfway through the negotiating process. 

"All righty! First day of school! Now to get to ... erm ... uh, where's the school?!?!?! Oh, okay. Israeli forces have destroyed it."
The school was built by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union.

Poor Energy Secretary Rick Perry! The draft of the report on the nation's electrical grid was leaked and the research strongly indicates that wind and solar power are extremely helpful to the grid.

So President Trump verbally declared that the US was suffering an opioid crisis. Great! That's just what police and addiction specialists wanted to hear! Slight problem is that such a verbal declaration has to be followed up with paperwork and we're still waiting on that, two weeks later.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife makes a splash by dressing down an Oregon housewife for criticizing her, then media notices that when she stepped off a small airplane, she sent out a tweet that specified all of the glam fashion accessories she was wearing. A few thoughts expressed on the wives that successful men are expected to get these days. 

Detailed examination of the plans of the "zombie-eyed granny starver" to reduce poverty. Spoiler alert: Speaker Ryan's own budgets reduce the money he claims is needed to fight poverty.

Nearly ten minutes of the President's speech is a very, very highly selective re-telling of his response to violence in Charlottesville. He also claimed there weren't many protesters outside at the rally. Ha, ha, ha! 

Detailed critique of President Trump's speech last night. It's just really difficult to have a conversation with someone who's fundamentally dishonest. Piece includes video of protest "turning chaotic." Funny, but all of the video is of police launching tear gas. No sign of crowd being violent at all.  

Interesting to see the bubble that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan obviously lives in

“The House has passed its bill; we’re waiting for the Senate to pass theirs,” he said. “Who wasn’t disappointed that the Senate failed to pass that bill by one vote the other day? We all are.”

Erm, no. Actually, hundreds of millions of Americans were quite pleased that the far-right Trumpcare bill didn't pass. Polls were showing that it had only 12% support. The only people who supported it were people who wanted to say "eff you, Obama!" more than they wanted good health care and then there were people who would have saved a bundle on their taxes. Everyone else in the country wanted to preserve the ACA/Obamacare.  

Heh! Senate Majority Leader McConnell is getting hammered from both sides for his actions on Kynect/the ACA/Obamacare. He's hated for trying to take away a popular program and for failing to take it away!

Motive for remaining in Afghanistan may be its mineral wealth. Is it good strategy just to seize that though? I seem to recall that the younger George Bush was a bit sensitive about the charge that he was just invading Iraq for the oil. Wouldn't this pretty much be the same thing?

President outlines "new" Afghanistan strategy. It amounts to essentialy just more of everything. The blogger agrees that if the US were to pull out, that would probably guarantee a Taliban victory within the year.  Very interesting comments from the attached MSNBC clip. President tried to outsource the ability to call up more troops to  the Secretary of Defense. Jim Mattis very deliberately left the decision to escalate in Afghanstan to the President. 

Also, it's kind of a problem that there is currently no confirmed Ambassador to Afghanistan. Update: As of October, there is an Ambassador to Afghanstan.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) attempts to appear to be a "Reasonable Republican" on the issue of Confederate statues.

"But they have ZERO uncertainty about a choice between a Trump who would defend statues of Washington and Jefferson, and a national media elite who they assume would not defend monuments to Washington and Jefferson."

But the national MSM (MainStream Media) did defend statues of Washington and Jefferson! They very clearly stated that those two presidents stood for more than just slavery but that Confederates really can't claim that.

Comedian Jerry Lewis dies. He stopped with his zany comedy movies when I was less than 10 years old. Videotapes didn't make his work available until much later, so I was aware of his reputation growing up, but I never saw any of his comedy flicks. The first movie of his I saw was "King of Comedy" where he played what he was by then, a retired comedian.

Heh! All of the sudden people at Fox News have become lovers of art! As the piece here points out, the intentions in putting up statues of Confederates was hardly art or heritage. Also, as is pointed out, in 1980 Trump was faced with a problem. He could take an extra two weeks (money was not an issue) to preserve some valuable and unusual Art Deco pieces that were part of a building he wanted to demolish or he could save time by destroying the pieces. He destroyed them.

Yeah, it takes a lot to document all of the President's doings. This host reads off of a list so long she has to pause and take a sip of water. Keep in mind, she's only listing the President's outrages for one month! .

A sweet, sad song for departed members of the Trump Administration (a very partial list of only the most well-known and prominent).

Kinda fascinating that fewer than 500 counties voted for Clinton. Those counties produce 64% of GDP. Over 2,600 counties voted for Trump and account for only 36% of GDP.

And Steve Bannon gets booted from the White House! This occurs very shortly after Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone said that Bannon and Trump made for a dangerous partnership.

Rather interesting to compare which attacks President Trump labels as "terrorism" and which ones he's more cautious on.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is weeping, weeping I tell you!, great, big glistening crocodile tears over the President's comments on the alt-Right white supremacists. Yep, by golly, he's really sad about that. Just broken up, I tell you. Y'know, if McConnell was really concerned about civil rights, the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court back in 2013. Funny how Republicans have been in control for quite some time now and haven't seen any need to restore that.

I think there are probably some politics to David Crosby's snub of Ted Nugent (Nugent is on the board of the NRA, among many other politically objectionable things), but yeah, seriously, "Cat Scratch Fever" came out when I was in high school (1977 and it got to 30 on the Billboard chart) and that was Nugent's last big hit.

Good to see the Charlotesville torch-lit procession followed by a much, much larger candle-lit procession.

Heh! VP Mke Pence says he "stands with the President" on Charlottesville. Kind of a problem with that is that the President's stances have been all over the place. Pence should be a bit more specific, but of course he won't be.

Yes, the violence of the "antifa" (a term that goes back to the 1920s) is troubling and is worth discussion and debate. No, the violence of the antifa is nowhere near the violence of the alt-Right (a term they invented themselves) and, very importantly, the violence of the antifa is a direct reaction to fascism.

President Trump's two business councils, the Strategy & Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council, saw members start quitting rather than have anything to do with a leader who stayed faithful to the alt-Right (Hey, they were part of his winning coalition), a group that included Nazis and the KKK. How about Trump's Religious Advisory Council? No indication that any of them felt obliged to quit. Was happy to see the council is mostly evangelicals,  no Methodists among them or anyone who's a member of the United Church of Christ.

Also, all four service chiefs came out against racism and white supremacy.

I'm sure everyone remembers Martin Shkreli, the fellow who brought Daraprim and raised the price from $13.50 a pill to over $750. The man with the "most punchable face." Well, it turns out potential jurors weren't impressed, either.

juror no. 52: When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

Fascism in Charlottesville:

People don’t come to mere rallies with Klan torches and bats and shields and brickbats and even guns. The Unite the Right mob invasion of Charlottesville was not a political protest. It was intended as a Kristallnacht, as the breaking of the windows of the shops of the liberal Jews and Blacks who the ‘Alt-Right’ believes runs the small college town of Charlottesville.

And no, the “alt-Left” is not a thing.

Full transcript of President Trump's press conference today. Trump keeps givin' it the ol' college try to switch the subject to the economy, but reporters hang in there on his love for Nazis and KKK members and white supremacists. Draws a number of false equivalences between left-wingers and the alt-right that have no basis in fact.

Several times during today's press conference, President Trump said he wanted to be careful and to get all the facts before speaking. This would be a rather new thing for him to do. He has very frequently jumped the gun in an impulsive manner and acted before thinking on many past occasions.

Also, former Klansman David Duke and alt-right figures are both absolutely convinced President Trump is on his side. I wish I could say they were wrong.

The Vanguard Group, a company with a trillion in investments and four trillion in assets, has seen the light and is adopting climate change-aware policies.

Yup, gotta love the timing here. Fox News guy states that America isn't racist, followed by two segment promos that sure do indeed seem to be pretty danged racist.

President Trump makes a clear and unequivocable statement condemning white supremacists. He then suggested he'd like to invade Venezuela.

Fox’s Jeanine Pirro and Mike Huckabee discuss why people are so upset at President Trump's false eqquivalence at Charlottesville (Trump said there were bad people "on both sides"). Huckabee condemns former President Obama for his statement on Michael Browns death in Ferguson, MO. Here's the statement. Sounds to me like Huckabee is trying to draw a false equivalence because I'm not really sure where Obama said anything that was irresponsible or where he jumped the gun at all. Yes, he said he was "heartbroken" by what happened, but he emphasized that the investigation into what happened was incomplete and ongoing.

Iran reacts (in an entirely predictable manner) to US accusations that it has violated the understanding over its nuclear weapons capacity.

On North Korea right now, the most urgent job of the US military is to keep the Commander in Chief convinced that a pre-emptive strike would be a bad idea.

Some young fellow was photographed taking part in the Charlottesville rally, carrying a torch and shouting Nazi slogans along with everybody else. Our blogger is skeptical of his claim that he's not an angry Nazi/alt-right protester like the rest of the marchers. Ivanka Trump condemns "white supremacy." 
How did white supremacists feel about President Trump's comments on Charlottesville? Soledad O'Brien gives us excerpts (They really liked his comments).

*Sigh* People who just don't get it. Lengthy piece showing the President's not part of the white nationalist problem that took place in Charlottesville, he is the problem! 

Is our President equipped to deal with North Korea? Ehh, doesn't look like it.

But with no ambassador in place in South Korea to establish a channel of communication and no assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs in the State Department or an assistant secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs at the Defense Department, there’s no one left to rein in Trump’s messaging.

White House official Omarosa Manigault-Newman went to a panel discussion and faced a rather obvious question, how to respond to President Trump's suggestion that suspects in police custody should by physically abused, but she obviously didn't do any prep work to be able to formulate a response, got all huffy and offended and walked off.

In "Kids these days," the blogger comments:

I have incredible respect for those students. If I was 19 and standing there, I would have punched someone. The discipline and the courage to bear witness and hold onto their values without allowing themselves to respond to clear and constant provocations is incredible.
The kids are alright.

Person dies from being run over by car at Charlottesville rally. Amazing coincidence:
"In the middle of some Nazi's livestream about how the left is not tolerant a driver ploughs through Charlottesville counter-demo." President's response? "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" White nationalists cheered and gratified by Trump's "many sides" response. 

The outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner sought to do the incoming Speaker Paul Ryan a favor by pushing through a vote to extend the debt limit by two years, until mid-2017. How had Ryan used that time? Poorly.

Horrifying! A nighttime torchlight parade in Charlottesville, VA. A collection of "white nationalists, white supremacists and alt-right groups" had gathered to protest the removal of statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. 
Tweet by reporter Glenn Thrush - “No tweets by Trump on Charlottesville or mosque attack in Minnesota. When Islamic militant attacked guard at the Louvre he Tweeted instantly”

The lefty magazine The Nation has published a piece that claims to prove that the Russians didn't hack the DNC servers. New York Magazine finds the piece considerably less than impressive.

Sebastian Gorka quotes a Holocaust survivor: "When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously." Couple of problems with that. First, that's an absolutely terrible way to view foreign policy, with the presumption that the other side will not be content with anything less than your absolute destruction.
Second, the Nazis didn't start out by saying they wanted to kill all of the Jewish people. They started out by saying that Jews were less than human. They used what's called "eliminationalist" language. The idea was that the Jews were so completely and irredeemably harmful to others and a burden on the rest of society, that it was cheaper and quicker and less troublesome to simply kill them all.

President Trump apparently considers Senate Majority Leader McConnell to be sort of a glorified matre d. In a tweet, he tells McConnell "you" can do it. Not "we." Trump seems to regard himself as the chairman of the board and McConnell as the employee who needs to prepare legislation so that the boss can sign it.

Charlottesville VA is expecting a big alt-right demonstration this Saturday.

Sebastian Gorka starts off by saying: "[t]here has never been a serious attack or a serious plot that was unconnected from ISIS or al Qaeda.”
People pointed out such attacks as the one by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City.
"Go to Sinjar. Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today. Go to Manchester."
Yes indeed, all of these particular, specific attacks were all inspired by ISIS and/or al Qaeda, But that hardly answers the point that there are a great many attacks that have nothing to do with Middle Eastern radicals

So Secretary of HUD Ben Carson made a really awesome-sounding statement about the people occupying housing developments in Cairo, IL: “I think by the grace of God it’s possible to save this place,” he said at another. His overall message, per NPR, was “to offer assurances that HUD will help everyone who wants to stay in Cairo to be able to do so.”
Great! But fixing up the developments costs "about $7.5 million of immediate work to render the apartments habitable, and another $37.5 million of work over the next two decades to remain that way." So is Carson going to come through with the money? Unfortunately, Cairo's not an isolated example. Just how far does Carson's compassion go?

The ACA/Obamacare is a large, complex program with many moving parts. Bringing it down through sabotage isn't all that difficult and the Trump Administration is now apparently doing just that. Problem is of course, that after seven-plus years, the GOP still doesn't have any idea of how to replace it with something better.

So the NY Times leaked the science portion of the upcoming EPA report on climate change. That way, the American people get to take a look at the science before EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump get to edit out all of the things that might alarm people. Pruitt's response? “The American people deserve an open, honest, transparent discussion about this supposed threat to this country.” But that's exactly what scientists were trying to ensure. They wanted to make sure their side got a full hearing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivers some very mild criticism of the President, but that's an escalation from before and signifies growing distance between the legislative and executive branches. 
Heh! Sean Hannity is, erm, less than impressed with McConnell's moderate criticism. 
Heh! President Trump reacts to Majority Leader McConnell's mild criticism of him. Hmm, the President does have a point! 

Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?

The blogger discussed the North Korean threat to launch missiles and further looked at Kim Jong-Un's odd mixed metaphors and strange language last night. The real problem is that now he's got someone who's apparently equally unhinged on the American side. Background piece on how NK got nukes in the first place. 
So what was the strategy behind the President's "fire and fury" statement? Turns out there wasn't any. He was just winging it, improvising on the spot.

A major section of a 2018 report is leaked before EPA head Pruitt or President Trump can make anti-science changes to it. 

Good! Constituents are not forgetting that their Republican Representatives and Senators made a wildly irresponsible vote concerning health care. We should keep up the pressure and demand an apology right up until their reelection!

At this point, Trump's vacation days after seven months exceed those of Obama for eight years. 
So having racked up 53 days of vacation in a little over half a year, is President Trump at least doing a good job? No, and the newbie excuse no longer applies. He's had more than enough time to get up to speed and he just isn't leaning or retaining information.

Republicans recommend hearings on “ground rules for the internet” in September, that is, on Net Neutrality but have only invited the CEOs of multi-billion dollar telecommunications firms to testify. That are many hundreds of millions of people going unrepresented in this scheme.

Very revealing that the Trump Administration has permitted an agency that was designed to counter foreign propaganda to sink into irrelevance, even after Congress allocated $80 million to keep it going.

In response to a slideshow starting with a picture of Donald Trump Jr. leaning casually on an animal that he just shot, I realize the Trump adult children are more behind the times than anything else. After Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, he took off to a major hunting trip in Africa. He collected lots of zoologically worthwhile samples and gathered a significant amount of data about the animals he killed. The problem nowadays with the Tump children is that there's no knowledge to be gained and there's no challenge in it. With modern technology and high-powered rifles, the Trump guys may as well sit around at home playing video games.

President Trump's insistence that we emphasize coal now sems particularly ill-timed. Coal is dying and is being replaced, for good reason.

Oliver North tries to make it sound as though all Congressional interventions in foreign policy have been bad, but I still think the Boland Amendment was a good idea and still believe that cutting off assistance to South Vietnam in 1975 was also a good idea.

Russia puts out a message on possible sanction. As a blogger says "seems as if Putin is planning to go all medieval on someone’s dupa."

Lots of big talk. I don't see it happening. But just for the record, right wingers are promising violence if Trump is impeached. Liberals tend to skew a good deal younger than conservatives, so I doubt conservatives would win an actual, physical war.

So the next big item on the legislative agenda appears to giving big tax cuts to the rich - oops! - sorry, "tax reform." It pomises to be about a successful as repealing the ACA.

Very important to understand the roots of the insult that Stephen Miller used yesterday. "Cosmopolitan" has a real history to it. And yes, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both in agrement that comopolitan people were terrible. Today's white nationalist movement uses the term frequently. So what is a cosmopolitan? "...the dictionary defines it as 'familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures.'” Sounds an awful lot like yer basic, every day liberal to me! 
Dinesh D'Souza has a new book out arguing that “The Democratic left has an ideology virtually identical with fascism and routinely borrows tactics of intimidation and political terror from the Nazi Brownshirts.” And D'Souza had an interesting justification for his book: "Met with Steve Bannon at the White House today to discuss how President @realDonaldTrump can flip the accusation of fascism back on the Left." Back in 2008, Jonah Goldberg revealed a very similar motivation for writing "Liberal Fascism."
But not only did Goldberhg make a poor case in 2008, Stephen Miller serves in a Republican administraton and he does not appear to be any sort of outlier or odd person out. 

President tends to tell "jokes" that have a real threatening edge to them.

Lengthy look at Jared Kushner's proposed Israel-Palestine peace plan.

Extremely good news! A Republican committee chairman is following regular order in a bipartisan manner to fix the ACA/Obamacare.

Will John Kelly, the new White House Chief of Staff, be a savior? There are reasons to be concerned.

Chealsea Clinton reacts to Trump's statement that the White House is a "dump." The thing to remember about both the White  House and Camp David (The President went there once and found it boring and dull) is that they are working residences. They're not luxury digs where the occupant is expected to just relax and chill out.

The President's lawyers stated in mid-July that the President had nothing to do with the statement on Donald Trump Junior's meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya. D'oh! The Senior Donald Trump now admits he helped draft the statement. Not entirely clear the lawyer knew, so it's no clear anyone will get busted.  

Oh, and it seems the Trump Administration also worked hand in glove with Fox News to promote the Seth Rich story

GDP growth rate last quarter was 2.6%. Certainly good news, but contrary to the President's belief, hardly "Stop the presses," spectacular news. Third quarter of last year was better, as were two quarters in 2015.

I have a hard time using the term "iron fisted" or "iron glove" for actions like this, where a Palestinian family is ejected from their home because, apparently, Israeli settlers wanted the home, as the term implies a struggle of equals. This seems to me more like "iron booted." A greatly superior force stomps upon a Palestinian family. Good to see that there's some controversy among Israelis as to whether the seizure is legal.

We know Alex Jones as this really crazy guy who makes wacko statements. But he's also a highly successful businessman who's apparently raking in the bucks hand over fist.

Ivanka Trump says she wants to lower expectations about what she’s able to accomplish as the liberal wing of the Trump Administration. Problem is, she put out a tweet - “I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans ...” And now, she doesn’t want to say anything about her father’s decision to put military trans-gender people back into the closet.
So, expectations are already pretty low. No well-informed liberal expects much of anything from her at this point. Yeah, “Ivanka Trump is aware she needs a real win ... to win back credibility,” but she doesn’t need to win back credibility, she needs a win in order to get some credibility in the first place.

July                      back to top

Hmm. Interesting comparison. NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch feels that for a gun-owner to be asked to properly store a firearm is just like asking a woman to wear less revealing clothing. Because for someone to steal an inanimate object is just like someone raping a woman.

And the new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is outta there! Newswoman admits she's shocked by Scarmucci's sudden departure. From a tweet:

Scaramucci's *official start date* as WH Communications Director was August 15th. It's July 31st. That's gotta be some kind of record.

Unfortunately, it's not at all difficult to break into a voting machine and change te resuts. Systems with paper are the best as they can be easiy audited and verified.

Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks debates Ann Coulter. One of the things that the two of them disagree on is how productive President Trump's first six months have been. Coulter says that it's only been a few months and is thus too early to tell. Problem with this is that by his six-month mark, Obama had gotten the Stimulus passed and then moved onto laying the groundwork for the ACA/Obamacare.
As to the younger George Bush, the tax cut of $1.25 trillion was done, No Child Left Behind was signed in May and he took various initiatives on prescription drugs and Social Security. So neither of the two 21st Century presidencies were as free of accomplishments at their six-month mark as Trump's has been.

Truly revolting and disgusting story about Senator Grassley (R-IA) and unsubstantiated accusations.

How much did residents of Maine appreciate the vote that Senator Susan Collins took to retain the ACA/Obamacare? She has spent two decades as a senator and in that time has taken 6,300 votes. For the first time ever, as she returned home in the airport terminal, she received spontaneous applause from all of the passengers in the terminal

Well, that's depressing! Chris Wallace of Fox News asks Kellyanne Conway if President Trump is going to continue to tilt at the windmill of repealing the ACA/Obamacare.
"The president will not accept those who said it's time to move on," the White House aide insisted. "We've met with the Obamacare victims at the White House several times now. They are real people."
To which I'd say that I'm sure there are people who would be doing better without the ACA, but I think they were doing poorly beforehand and will do much worse when several tens of thousands of people lose coverage because of any of the proposed Republican plans passing.

North Korean "Missile test disconcerting. But talk of a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea is far more so."  The last four US Presidents have tried their hand at containing North Korea's nuclear program. The progress of the North Korean missile program slows down under the Democrat's bribery and flattery and speeds up under the Republican's sword-rattling and bluster.

Right-wing media was very heavily complicit in the failure of the Republican Party to remove the health care plans of tens of millions of American citizens.

The backstory on Senator McCain's change of heart on Trumpcare.

The Trump Labor Department decides against boosting the salaries of workers.

So,how did our President regard the defeat of the health care replacement that had been pressed for many years? Not very well, it seems. Here he recommends violence against people who have not yet been tried in a court of law by policemen on the scene acting as lawless vigilantes. The police leadership immediately put out statement making clear their disagreement.

Huh! So Reince Priebus has now been fired from the White House Chief of Staff position.
Heh! I recall the first time I heard about him. He was being considered for head of the RNC and the comedian Jon Stewart reported on his investigation of Priebus "Nothing funny about him except his name. Too dull to provide any good comedy."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “Our friends on the other side decided early on they didn’t want to engage with us in a serious way, a serious way to help those suffering under Obamacare.” First off, "suffering" is a huge exaggeration for technical problems that could have been quickly and easily fixed. And also, the piece here goes through just how "serious" the GOP fixes actually were.
Update: A Republican Trump supporter argued that Senate Minority Leader Schumer wasn't serious about helping out on ACA/Obamacre repeal: 

It starts with conversation, and [Trump] was shut down immediately by Senator Schumer and the others, in saying that they weren't going to support anything called a repeal of Obamacare. They worked to put more money into the individual marketplace, but that was it. At which point [Trump] had no choice, but to turn to the Republicans, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan.

Woo hoo!!!! Senator McCain voted with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins against the final Trumpcare bill! McCain may have put us all through some unnecessary drama, but he somewhat redeemed himself in the end. Democrats deserve a big cheer as they were absolutely rock-solid! Not a single one ever wavered!

Y'know, this is not how laws are made in a mature country! What the moderate Republicans are hoping to do is to pass any ol' thing and then pass it along to the Majority Leader so that he can take it to the House-Senate Conference and then the moderates are just going to hope that the House wouldn't simply accept the "Skinny Repeal" bill (that is, the re-written "Repeal and Delay" bill that was rejected a few months ago). This is an incredibly irresponsible way to make laws!

Good! The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has made it clear that the policy on transgender servicepeople won't change until the President uses the appropriate chain of command. Sending out a tweet won't work.

Seen some anti-war buddies commenting on the issue of transgender people in the military and wondering why anyone would fight to become part of the military-industrial complex. I very much get that and understand that. But joining the military means you're part of an organization that puts mission above whatever social customs are prevalent at the time. See the movie "Hidden Figures." The women featured there made social progress because NASA didn't have time or patience to permit social customs and mores to compromise the mission. Social mores had to take second place.
Also, a veteran has some NSFW words to say about the transgender ban. 
And, of course, once again “The more socially liberal factions of Trump’s inner circle" (Specifically Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner) prove to be completely useless whenever it comes to serious issues.

Senator John McCain makes a really, really good case for voting against Trumpcare and then ... votes for it!

The President, suddenly and without any warning, decided transgender troops could no longer serve in the military, where they've been serving openly for about a year.
"After consultation with my generals..." sounds an awful lot to me like "All these people come up to me and say..."
Watched a little of the news this morning and they agree there are roughly 8,000 transgender people serving right now without incident and without costing much more than "regular" solders, sailors and airmen do. Whether transgender people should serve is a litigated, settled issue. There are side issues involved, but they're in the process of being worked out. Nobody in the field has indicated that these problems are insurmountable.

So the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, wants to recruit a "red team" to deny global warming and a "blue team" to try and prove the basic frickin' science of the matter. He's decided to ask the Heartland Institute for help in getting his "red team." A few years ago, the Heartland Institute ran an ad that accurately pointed out that Osama bin Laden believed in man-made climate change and then suggested that if you believed in the basic science of the matter, you were in agreement with a terrorist.

Good! Republican Senators kept "Trumpcare 3.0" undeservedly alivevia a "motion to proceed," but the specific Senate plan, the BCRA, was slapped down decisively by a 43 to 57 vote.

So the state of Israel now considers BDS activists to be physical, imminent threats to their national security. As our President would say "Sad!"

Hmm, so the latest Senate Trumpcare plan is to essentially kick out one of the legs of the three-legged stool that supports the ACA/Obamacare. In other words "Repeal Without Replace."
*Sigh* and all of the "brave" and "principled" moderates collapsed and voted to permit Senate Majority Leader McConnell to make the bill whatever he wants in the House-Senate Conference.

And the maverick himself, Sen. John McCain? He left his taxpayer-funded sickbed to cast what ultimately was the deciding vote to make sure the kind of health care he’s receiving is denied to millions of others. So much for his legacy.

Have to agree with the blogger's comments on US program to aid Syrian rebels, now cancelled by President Trump. The program wasn't worth much anyway.
As to a question the blogger doesn't address - did the President cancel the program as a favor to his good buddy Vladimir Putin? My suspicion is that he did, but on balance, I think it was a good decision.

Also, Iran and Iraq make serious, far-ranging agreement. US doesn't seem to have much to say about it.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell still trying to get the Trumpcare bill through the Senate wthout making any substantial changes to it.
Heh! "The last three weeks of feverish negotiations have been less about moving the ball, and more about moving the dirt around the ball to give it the appearance of moving."

The President thoroughly disgraces America at the Boy Scout Jamboree. Saw several comparisons here and elsewhere to Hitler Youth rallies.
Update: BSA distances itself from the President.

President Trump urges military members to press their Senators and Congresspeople.
The problem with the Command in Chief confusing legal military instructions with inappropriate political suggestions is, let's say you're an Italian soldier in the late 1930s. Your Duce (Leader) has permitted you to wear uniforms at political demonstrations. You attend a demonstration of people who want peace. You, along with several buddies from the same unit, start roughing up the protesters. Are you acting spontaneously? Are you just acting out of your convictions? Or are you following orders? That's precisely the point of Americans not wearing any sort of military uniform at political events. Military people may get in touch with political representatives, but they shouldn't do so as military members.

House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black (R-TN) and Neil Cavuto, a Fox News host, have a discussion in which Black declares that she has found a "sweet spot" for budget targets. How does she know that this is the right amount? Not from any reference to human needs. Her "proof" is entirely mathematical. How does she know her math is correct? Because it's consistent with Reaganomics, supply-side economics, the Laffer Curve, whatever you want to call it. Is this an accurate theory? No. It's complete nonsense. Wealthy campaign donors like it because it justifies tax breaks that leave lots of money to the wealthy, but there's zero real-world evidence that it actually helps anybody else. So, for this completely invalid  theory, Black is willing to sacrifice the welfare of hundreds of millions of people.

So, six months in on the Trump Presidency and how many promises has he broken?
Actually, one of the broken promises I think we can all be pleased about is the commitment to undo the Iran nuclear deal. It's a deal where Iran has kept its side of the bargain.

So how's the war in Afghanistan doing? Ehh, not so good. Corruption's a major problem. Simply throwing in more troops isn't going to solve anything.

And how's "Mooch" doing? Senator Franken thought he was hearing about the opinion of some obscure expert. 

Within one minute @Scaramucci outs scandal plagued Republican @realDonaldTrump as his anonymous source.

So the new White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Yep, she took over Sean Spicer's old position), makes a really wonderful pledge to never lie to the American people a-a-a-and...breaks that pledge within two minutes by obviously lying and trying to drag the Clintons in to make a false equivalence with.

"...heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site" cause echoes in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank, where a Palestinian teenager conducted a home invasion, stabbing several family members who were just finishing up a dinner.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan just wants everyone to get along and to be civil to each other.  Sounds great, but this is also when he wants to ram this totally one-sided health care bill down our throats. Sorry, but it's hard to be civil when this bill will take away the health care plans of at least 20 million Americans. There have been no hearings, no speeches and no opportunity of offer amendments.

People have suggested that just as we liberals gained a new affection for James Comey after he was fired by President Trump, we now like Sean Spicer because he quit Trump's service.
Nope. Not true for either one of them. Comey threw a giant monkey wrench into the final weeks of the 2016 election that resulted in Trump becoming the President and Spicer served Trump loyally, repeating obvious lies. We haven't changed our opinion of either person.

Yeah, our intelligence agencies knew about these possibly treasonous conversations in real time. Here we are spending $50 to $75 billion for those agencies and they didn't leak this information until we're already six months into this new administration. Would have done a lot more good for us to have known about the Don Trump Jr. meeting with Vesselnitskaya back around when it happened as opposed to now. President Obama maintained a really tight control of that sort of information though, so he would not have had plausible deniability to have said "Aw gee! A 'rogue' agency spilled some information! I didn't authorize that."

You can carry a firearm in your luggage, but there's proper means and procedure to carrying it. Can't just toss it in your luggage loaded. People losing frearms all the time because they don't follow procedure. All these "open carry" laws appear to be making people casual and careless.

A review of the politics of the ACA/Obamacare. Democrats and Republicans took opposite bets. Ds put their money on success, Rs put theirs on failure. Rs were wrong pretty much every single time, in all of their predictions.
Now Rs want us to trust them to get a replacement plan right.

Sean Spicer is let go as Press Secretary. What do we know of his successor, Anthony Scaramucci? Well, he once compared the fiduciary rule to the Dred Scott decision.

Oopsie! Jared Kushner "forgot" to include 77 items worth at least $2.5 million on his disclosure form!

Update: Ooh! Here's a good idea! If an asset (over $1 million) isn't important enough to remember for a disclosure form, it should be okay for the government to to seize it! 

Natalia Veselnitskaya worked with the FSB (successor to the KGB) for a number of years. She is the first person that was identified as having met with Donald Trump Jr. in Trump Tower in 2016.

Yep, the President inquired about pardoning himself over his Russia scandal. And yes, the elder George Bush pardoned co-conspirators in the Iran-Contra case, but Gerald Ford was really the one who started that ball rolling, on letting presidents get away with crimes, by pardoning Richard Nixon. As young as I was when that happened, I was pretty shocked by that and still regard it as unforgivable.

Update: Nixon's Justice Department concluded that a president cannot be the judge in hiw own case, meaning no, Trump can't pardon himself.

A blogger runs though the highlight (or lowlights) of the President's interview with the NY Times. Wow! Just ... wow! And I don't mean that in a good way. Trump declares that his rather dull, pedestrian, utterly forgettable speech in Poland was some world-historical masterpiece of rhetoric. I was a history major in college and was not at all impressed by his history. I do admit that I wasn't aware of Napoleon III re-designing Paris. I was just familiar with his military goof-ups and how he embarrassed Napoleon I in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Democratic leaders want to ban boycotts of Israel. This is a bad idea and is contrary to the best of American history. 

I agree with this. I blame the failure of Trumpcare far more on Speaker Ryan than on President Trump. From the piece:
"Many Republicans suspect there might be a connection between the president’s gross incompetence, and his party’s legislative woes. And they’re right about that — but only because a more competent president would have put less faith in Paul Ryan’s policy judgment."

One of the problems is that President Trump has no idea how much health care even costs for average citizens. He was asked about that and confused health care policy with a life insurance policy.

A supporter of Trump's maintans there's nothing wrong with the President not knowing the deatils of policy. Well, sure, if he's making a speech at a rally, he doesn't need to know details. But if he's trying to speak to and convince informed skeptics, he really needs to know what he's talking about.

NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield tells us that in South African "white families are being tortured and killed almost every day in racist violence. It is a warning for the United States that you will never hear from the mainstream media in this country." Well, there's a reason you won't hear about this in the mainstrea media. The problem doesn't really exist in the way that Stinchfield describes it. Yes,  murders in South Africa are up, but no, there's no racial pattern to them. South Africa simply has a high rate of murders.

Sean Hannity says a lot that I agree with. Of course, people were talking about a health care system at least as far back as the late 1940s. If it was easy to create a capitalist, free-market based system, it would have been done by the 1950s at the latest. Doesn't mean it can't be done, I just don't think Hannity's suggestion of a single negotiating session is going to do it. Yeah, basically, the Republican Party spent seven years twiddling their thumbs and lying about having a plan.

Back in 2014, we looked at the last billion votes that had been cast and out of that billion, 31 were found to be cases of in-person voter fraud. But somehow, Kobach says that his commission has identified around 3 million cases of in-person voter fraud by spinning a highly unlikely tale of very questionable methods.

The attempted Republican "reform" of the ACA/Obamacare was covered by the blogger back in March and there really isn't much to add this time. This latest attempt failed for many the same reasons. Problem now is that the GOP has so "salted the earth" and insulted and alienated Democrats, it's difficult to see how the President, the Senate or the House is going to get any work done with Democrats.

Rush Limbaugh is very upset that just a few Senators had the ability to put the kibosh on the Trumpcare bill. Welcome to closely divided government! Democrats had the same trouble with Joe Lieberman and other centrists back during the younger George Bush Administration. Closely-divided legislatures gives the dissidents and hold-outs a lot of influence that they don't usually have.

Right now, Republicans appear to only have 48 senators supporting Trumpcare. The President says that's a "pretty impressive vote." Actually, it really isn't.  He again complains of no Democrats voting for his plan. It's not at all clear why they would want to, considering they were completely shut out of the planning or of any chance to participate. This is also a good point. Trump never once demonstrated a grasp of the details of the bill. Also, vote is a reminder that Harry Reid was a genuinely skilled Majority Leader, who operated with no cushion. He couldn't afford to lose a single vote and didn't.  

He truly hates the fact, but Presidetnt Trump is forced to grudgingly admit that the nuclear deal with Iran is working.

So how's the Megyn Kelly show doing? After MSNBC spent millions for the former Fox News anchorwoman, um, yeah. She's less popular than reruns of a not-all-that-popular show.
Brilliant move, MSNBC!

Spokesperson Sean Spicer is asked a reasonable question about "Made in America Week" and declares the question "out of bounds." Why they ever decided on such a theme amazes me because Donald and Ivanka Trump are about the worst possible representatives for such an idea as they make pretty much all of their products out of the country.

Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer for President Trump, shows that he does not have a professional demeanor and does not have a thick skin when it comes to being criticized.
It would be difficult for him to effectively represent his client in any event, but as the piece points out, representing this particular client would be a Herculean task for any lawyer, even a far better one.

A lot of our coal and nuclear plants are aging and are uneconomical to repair. We'd be far better off tearng them down and replacing them with wind or solar power. Obviously, this is not what Energy Secretary Rick Perry wants to hear.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell decides to go for "Repeal and Delay," basically toss everybody off their health plan and somehow, someday, come up with a replacemet. President Trump makes same proposal with the prediction that "Dems will join in" to help design a new plan. Which of course, they won't. Dems will sit back and point out, correctly, that the ACA was working just fine before the GOP stepped in and messed everything up.

After a reporters lists the many reasons why people hate the Trumpcare proposal, HHS Secretary Tom Price says:

"It’s really perplexing, especially from the insurance companies, because all they have to do is dust off how they did business before Obamacare."

But why should America "dust off" anything? Trump and other Republicans didn't run on returning to the old days, they all ran on producing something better than the ACA/Obamacare.

Yeah, the President is now conducting a "Made in America" week. Kind of a problem with that is that pretty much all of the products he's ever sold were and still are made overseas. Of all the presidents, Trump is about the least credible one to conduct this sort of PR exercise.
MSNBC's Ali Velshi specifies just where all of the Trump products are made.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a speech in 2014 about how he'd run the Senate if he had the chance. His current strategy to replace the ACA/Obamacare violates every single one of those promises. If he succeeds in this plan, his strategy will be copied and the Senate will effectively become a partisan institution, creating plans in secret, behind closed doors and then ramming them through in a "party over country" manner.

A piece in our local paper tries to paint liberals as being just as violent as conservatives are. The central part of its case is the liberal accusation that the Republican health care plan will kill people. But as Vox explains, this is an entirely accurate accusation. If you withdraw health care plans from people who have recently gained coverage under the ACA/Obamacare, you are indeed condemning people to death. This is not a case of hyperbole.

From the piece: "Norm Eisen, the Obama White House’s chief ethics attorney, recently told the AP that Trump is 'becoming more and more brazen in his efforts to monetize the presidency.' The fact that this quote is broadly applicable is a problem."

Energy Secretary Rick Perry asks Energy Department to study proposition that renewables weaken electrical grid. Department concludes renewables strengthen electrical grid. Problem is that the Department is clearly skeptical that Perry will include their conclusion in his final report.

With two firm "no" votes in a closely-divided Senate. moderate have nowhere to hide. They can vote for a bill they have denounced as horrible or they can be a lightning rod for outraged hardcore right-wingers. One vote can decisively kill the replacement plan, but that involves lots and lots of very real risk.

Update: Right-wing Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) rescue the GOP moderates by coming out against the Trumpcare bill. 

Secret Service gets blamed for not screening/vetting Donald Trump Jrs visitors.
1. USSS wasn't protecting Don Jr at the time of his meeting with Russians
2. USSS is not a political chaperone. They do not screen visitors for politics.

What's amazing here is that some people still don't understand that capitalism and health care simply don't mix. Never have. Never will. We've had since at least the Truman Administration to set up a private-enterprise-based health care insurance system. We went for the ACA/Obamacare because it couldn't be done.

Fox News complains about how the ACA/Obamacare was passed. Sorry, but as the article here specifies, the passages of Obamacare and Trumpcare are like night and day. The Trumpcare procedure is far more closed, rushed and secretive than Obamacare ever was!

VP Pence's lies about Trumpcare are so bad, a Republican Governor feels obliged to publicly correct him.

This just amazes me! Senator Cruz is alleged to be a really smart guy and he comes out with this really mangy, flea-ridden dog of a plan. Is it his fault or is Trumpcare just essentially unworkable to begin with?
BTW, according to Fox News' Sean Hannity, any Republican senator that doesn't vote for Trumpcare is a dirty, rotten, no good scoundrel and traitor!

With Senators Collins and Paul both being a firm "No" and McCain being out for surgery, McConnell only has 49 votes. Any and all delays are good!!!

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said this week that it is “crazy” for people to refer to him as a “climate denier.”
Pruitt puts forward four questions that he feels need to be answered. All four of them have long since been answered.

Very cool Bastille Day gift to justice! Woman who was busted for laughing at a Jeff Sessions hearing exonerated!

Good! Most of the Republican members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus held firm when it came to permitting the military to study the impacts of climate change 20 years out.

Commission that has requested enormous amounts of of private, confidential information publishes private, confidential information of critics. On the one hand, this appears to be standard, basic Trump Administration incompetence. A failure to consider important aspects and to be responsible and diligent. I suspect there's also a royalist feeling of "How dare those wretched peasants oppose the magnificent plans of Our Glorious Leader!!!"

Woo hoo! Muslim ban takes a legal hit! The Supreme Court left the definition of "close family member" vague, so the federal court in Hawaii has now ruled that it includes grandparents.

D'oh! So much for Senator Ted Cruz being the smart one. His ACA/Obamacare repeal bill counts the same pot of money several times. Hey! Math is hard!

The House Judiciary Committee sends the Attorney General a letter (Letter included with piece), asking why a case involving Natalia Veselnitskaya and $230 million was abruptly settled for a token $6 million just two days before it was scheduled to go to trial. Natalia, as you may recall, is the Russian lawyer that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with and that allegedly did not provide them with anything useful to use against Hillary Clinton.

President boasts of great achievements, but neither one had anything to do with him. ISIS in Iraq and Syria in January of this year was already collapsing. To use a World War II analogy, the battle of Normandy was over, the Rhine River Valley had been occupied and the race to Berlin was on. In terms of the economy, his actions to slow down economic growth haven't taken effect yet. He's simply fortunate to have taken office at this time.
Detailed rundown of "achievements."

Wow! What an incredibly, brazenly cynical way to sell the most damaging possible policy! The idea McConnell is selling is that future lawmakers will intervene to make sure that really damaging provisions won't get carried out. As the blogger says: "This isn’t how responsible legislating in a mature democracy is supposed to work."

I consider this statement to be entirely believable

"Many people, and many political pros, said everybody would do that. If you got a call and said, 'Listen I have information on Hillary and the DNC,' or whatever it was they said, most people are going to take that meeting, I think."

Yes, I truly believe President Trump sees absolutely nothing wrong with getting clandestine help from a foreigner when conducting a campaign against a domestic political opponent.

Wow! The Trump Administration thought they'd get good coverage from the President's European trip? That was a horrible trip that revealed the complete contempt in which our country is now held by the rest of the world.

Crowd of lefties is supposedly fooled into cheering for Adolf Hitler quote. Not much cheering is audible and the quote isn't from der Fuhrer anyway. There was a book put out in 2009 called "Liberal Fascism," where the author was convinced that liberal ideology was derived from fascism. Problem is, fascism is a strictly and entirely right-wing ideology. People took strong exception to the idea that liberal ideology had any connection at all to fascist ideology and said so very eloquently.

The Larsen C ice shelf just calved, a chunk of now-floating ice about the size of Delaware, another reminder that sea level rise is coming

Unfortunately, there's nothing surprising about teen abortions surging in Texas after Planned Parenthood was defunded. Can the pregnancy-related services that PP provides be replaced? Sure, but it requires a substantial investment and the monetary returns are slim to none. You have to make the investment for the mission, not for the money. There's no sign that there's any will to provide that investment, so the services that PP provides don't get replaced and unwanted pregnancies happen more frequently.

Very good question. How could anyone have believed that a private citizen from Russia could possibly have derotarory information Clinton? Wouldn't that information, by definition, have to have come from its government?

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) says we're too concerned with scandal and wants us to focus on "what Congress and the administration is doing to create jobs and provide health care.”
Fine. They haven't done diddly-squat to create jobs since the stimulus was passed in 2009 and are attempting to take away health care from tens of millions of citizens. 

Very happy to hear that the Voter Integrity Commission has been stopped in its tracks. As many bloggers and reporters pointed out when the commission first started out, the security for the information that was submitted was seriously short of requirements. A lawsuit is forcing them to protect the data they get from around the country before any other action can be taken.

Woo hoo! Trumpcare vote delayed yet again!!!!
Good commentary on the scandal with Russia versus Trumpcare. We should redouble efforts against Trumpcare!

CAIRO/BEIRUT (Reuters) - "The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had "confirmed information" that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed."

Heh! How unpopular was the President's idea of a "Joint Cybersecurity thing with Russia"?
It was so-o-o-o unpopular...!!!!!!
Seriously, it was really unpopular. The idea has been withdrawn and President Trump now claims that he never meant it seriously and tries to switch the subejct to Syria. 

“Short version--> @DonaldJTrumpJr met with known Russian agent to get damaging info on Clinton and was disappointed when she didn't deliver”
Sounds about right to me. Further details.

It's pretty obvious here that UN Ambassador Nikki Haley isn't on the same page with the President, that she got her briefing from someone who's PR-aware and who knows what the President should say instead of from the President himself. It's also quite clear she has no idea what Rudy Giuliani is talking about.

Very sad to hear that the Trump Administration wants to re-fill Guantanamo with prisonrs because emptying out Gitmo was a big priority of Obama's. Once the Supreme Court declared that Gitmo fell under US jurisdiction, there really wasn't any point in keeping it open. The whole point of it was to be outside US law. It's nothing but a stain on our reputation.

So Kris Kobach, whose voter fraud commission has requested that all 50 states give it massive amounts of voter data, had an opportunity to talk to all 50 state Secretaries of State and declined to try and engage in any sort of face-to-face persuasion.

So, at about the six-month mark of the Trump Presidency, how is Melania's anti-cyber-bullying effort going? Well, there's an office that deals with that, they know everyone in the field and no one reports her having been in touch with any of them.

Picture is shown of President Trump as isolated with no one talking to him. I found this
disturbing because it reminds me of the younger George Bush during the last years of his presidency when he was similarly isolated. And clearly, policy has a LOT to do with it.

"Just a few weeks ago, in an interview on Fox News, Ivanka Trump said that she tries 'to stay out of politics.'”
Yes, heads of governments often have others sit in their places for short periods, but these are usually the Secretary of State, other government ministers or senior officials. Not often one has a daughter sit in. 

"He was there at conception so he ought to be there through the whole process," Republican Representative Kim Hammer, the bill's primary sponsor, tells Bustle. "I think that all life, from conception through birth and right up through death by natural causes, needs to be treated with dignity, respect, and also a unified approach to deal with the remains."
But of course, if the fellow "was there" because he was a rapist, then the woman who's been raped gets treated like absolute dirt as the dignity of the fetus takes priority over hers.

Assessing the Trump-Putin meeting at the G20 Summit. Good quote on Trump "questoning" Putin on whether he hacked the US electoral system in 2016: “Both the fence and the burglar agreed there was no need to relitigate who the TV belonged to.”

The idea of "clean coal" never made any sense to me. Hey, guess what? Yeah, it's a complete myth.

Top White House ethics official decides he's really not accomplishing anything and quits.

So, when you get a student loan and then get poor grades, you pay. Everybody understands that. No one has a problem with that. But what if the school goes bankrupt, leaving you with a big loan to pay off? There was going to be a solution for that starting July 1st, but we have a Secretary for Education who happens to favor for-profit schools. So too bad, so sad! DeVos has "delayed" the law taking effect.

Republican Senators re-define losing health care coverage as gaining freedom

So Rush Limbaugh is sort of a Republican Party whip. He puts out the word of the day to the faithful and tells us what the GOP bigwigs are thinking. He's currently amazed that Stephen Hawking is predicting Venus-like conditions if we don't get global warming under control soon. 
Does LiveScience agree? They don't agree with Hawking completely, but they feel that Hawking is more right than wrong.
BTW, according to Climate Central, the Larsen C ice shelf is near breaking off. The shelf is 277 cubin miles or about the size of Delaware.

D'oh! Trump's people neglected to book a hotel for the G20 Summit, so they have to stay in government-owned quarters in Hamburg, Germany. Still quite luxurious, but an embarrassment. Not entirely clear why the Obama Administration didn't book rooms.

Pennsylvania's Senator Pat Toomey shows us how courageous he is and assembles eight people for a "town hall" to discuss the Republican alternative to the ACA/Obamacare. 
“In the Jewish tradition, you need ten for communal prayer. Fewer than that is definitely not a town hall." 

Awww! Poor Dana Loesch! (I rub my fingers together in "tiny violin" motion) Loesch claims that this statement:

"The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth."

is NOT a call for violence. "it’s just word play" she says.

D'oh! Hobby Lobby was cheered on by Christians as it stood against women's contraception. Now they've been caught with ancient Iraqi artifacts. Such moral people!
Heh! "Green said that Hobby Lobby imported the artifacts as part of its 'passion for the Bible.'”

Gee, who would have thought it? There's a procedure for the federal government to request information from states, a procedure that was completely ignored in the case of the voter fraud commission. 

Iran holds a cartoon contest starring President Trump. Over 75 countries participated with 1,600 enries.

It's distorbing to see an American politician trying to de-legitimize their opposition. Senator Ted Cruz was asked about the opposition to the Republican alternative to the ACA/Obamacare and he "dismissed them as a 'small group of people on the left who right now are very angry.'”
Actually, the Indiana Republican Party put out the request to hear "horror stories" about the ACA and people instead made 7,500 comments about how much they valued and appreciated it. But society can't have any sort of real debate when one side regards the other as not legitimately expressing real opposition. 

Bipartisan group of senators visits Afghanistan. They decide that it's not so much that the US has a bad strategy on Afghanistan, but that it has no coherent strategy at all on Afghanistan.

Good! There are essentially two greenhouse gases, carbon (which mixes with oxygen to become CO2) and methane, which is an even more potent at keeping heat trapped close to the surface. This decision restricts methane.

A thinkpiece on why a third of the Democratic Party now opposes Israel.

Woo hoo! As I said earlier, if you want to draw parallels between the war against ISIS and World War II, we're coming up on the Battle for Berlin/Okinawa stage!

North Korea launched another missile last night.
“Picking a twitter fight with a nuclear-armed dictator is not wise – this is not reality TV anymore. 12/”

Good! As usual, the administration's actions are a complete cluster****, with their request for huge amounts of voter data  running headlong into voter privacy laws, security concerns and questions about how the requested data will be used.

CNN expresses outrage at the video of the President slamming a person with a CNN logo for a head. "The president fights back,” one staffer said. “It’s rich that some of you people [in the media] can never take a joke.” Yeah, it's hilarious that the President is getting violent material from a far-right subsection of Reddit. And BTW, a journalist who tracked down where the President got the video from has been receiving death threats, so the "joke" is very much in the minds of the people reacting to it.

Sure, this makes complete sense! [/snark] Y'see, MSNBC's Chuck Todd is wrong about the effects of the Republican replacement for the ACA/Obamacare because Todd isn't taking into account legislation that hasn't yet been written!

President Trump tweets a slightly-altered video of himself from his wrestling promoter days beating the crap out of a person whose head has been replaced with a CNN logo.  Ana Navarro from This Week says: “It is an incitement to violence. He is going to get somebody killed in the media.”
Kind of amusing that Sarah Sanders Huckabee put this statement out just a few days ago: "The President in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary." 
@SHSanders45 6/29/17

So how are things going with the Russia connection? Here's a rundown.

Tucker Carlson tries desperately to draw a false equivalence between the former president and the current one. And no, the left doesn't hate President Trump because he's a nationalist, the left hates the fact that Trump tries to conduct policy as though there was no one to his left on any policy issue. When it comes to conducting or even discussing any kind of policy, he only recognizes the right and the far-right points of view. Trump has made absolutely zero real outreach to any Democrats. He's just not the slightest bit interested in getting their policy input.

"The last employees departed from the science division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy last week, leaving the division completely unstaffed." CBS News.
As with the White House office for women and girls, the Trump Administration obviously just couldn't care less about certain issues. People who work there know that, they can see it and they're reacting to it.

"Trump has shown himself intellectually and emotionally incapable of making the transition from minor entertainment figure to major political figure." Quote 1
"Barack Obama says Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is “unfit to serve as president.”  [The former] President Obama is correct." Quote 2
Quotes from my usual lefty sources? Actually, no. These are from the National Review.  NR was a "Never Trump" publication, decided to support him, still supports him on the Russian connection, but has serious doubts about his fitness for the office he holds. 

Ugh! The wild, unhinged conspiracy theorist Alex Jones put out the bizarre notion that there were sex slave on Mars. People actually took this nonsense so seriously that NASA had to officially deny it. 

As the piece says, if you care about, say, bringing business principles to government, you're going to allocate office space, personnel, time and money to that project. If you don't care about supporting women and girls as a distinct group as Ivanka Trump obviously doesn't, then yeah, you're just going to do some public relations posturing and will then leave it at that.
BTW, and now seriously, would an administration that cared, even a little, tiny bit, for the status of women, ever be pulling crap like this?!?!? A group of young women from Afghanistan was going to the US as part of a robotics team and were denied visas. 
Update: the young women made it to the robotics event on time, only because the Trump Administration was embarrassed enough.

Ah, here we go. The whole "red team/blue team" concept of challenging the science of climate change didn't begin with Secretary of Energy Rick Rick Perry, but with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. As a scientist points out though:
“You don’t set up peer review by finding people opposed and people in favor,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told ThinkProgress. “What you find are really good scientists that are willing to put in the time to dig in.”
BTW, here's the scene where Secretary of Energy Rick Rick Perry gets completely owned by Senator Al Franken.

New analysis from CBO with longer timeline shows even more massive losses to regular folks. The point, of course, is that the "health care" plan put forward by the Senate is really just a tax cut for those who make over $100,000 year. It's especially generous to those making plus-$400,000.

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The right-wing commenter Meghan McCain brought up a very good point about Presdent Trump's rather disgusting comment about Mika Brzezinski: "It makes my job talking to millennial women about politics - about why they should become conservatives? Much more difficult."

In 2001, shortly after the September 11 attack, the US passed an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). Congresswoman Barbara Lee has put forward a resolution cancelling it. This time, it was accepted by the House Appropriations Committee!

Kris Kobach has demonstrated enormous enthusiasm for suppressing the votes of demographics that are likely to vote Democratic. The call for voter data from all 50 states is deeply worrisome.
Assistant Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Huckabee demonstrates just why there's so much hostility between the Trump Administration and the press corps. The newly-assembled election commission is run by someone (Arkansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach) with a long history of working to suppress the votes of likely Democrats and he's made a highly suspicious information request without any clear justification for it. Sanders, speaking for the President, is convinced that anyone who refuses Kobach's request is just playing PR games and is grandstanding just for the publicity. It's impossible to have a productive dialogue when there's so much contempt for any opposition being expressed by the Administration.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says words to the effect of: "Aww, you mean, terrible, judgemental liberals! You're holding the President of the United States to the civilized standards we'd expect of that office!"
An especially amusing actual quote from her: “He’s new. He will adapt and he will learn.” Ha, ha, ha! No, he won't. The "pivot" is something people have been claiming will come for several months. Never had, never will.

Yes, the NRA ad here is quite disturbing. Borrows very freely and heavily from Nazi heritage to make its point.
One very important aspect of gun ownership the NRA ad makes clear. By completely ignoring the Philando Castile case, where a peaceful, law-abiding, legally gun-owning black man got gunned down by the police, the NRA makes it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that guns are for white people only.

A suggestion is made to build an island with seaport facilities right off of Gaza. It would be connected to the mainland via a long, narrow bridge. There's no reason that all of the facilities can't be located right on mainland Gaza except for Israel's security needs. 

As the blogger says, this is hardly a reason to point and laugh at the President, but a reason instead to be concerned. The President simply doesn't have a firm enough grasp of policy details to be a meaningful presence during policy negotiations. Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are carrying the entire weight of negotiations over the AHCA/Trumpcare themselves. 
Also, a local columnist points out that foreign policy is also a complete mess.

The author of this piece also presses for Voter ID, a method that disenfranchises many millions of legitimate voters for every fraudulent voter that it catches, but his central point is a sound one. Paper ballots can't be hacked and are easy to keep track of. They constitute a permanent, audit-able record.
We need to go "old school" on voting.

Woo hoo! "In a unanimous vote Monday, the typically staid U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution backing municipalities’ efforts to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2035."

From back in January, but very good to keep in mind. No, the ACA/Obamacre was not failing when Obama left office!

In a segment where a Fox News person tries to blame Democrats for Republican troubles with ther health care bill, I found one line from this really troubling: “They don’t have faith in free markets.”
Well, why should they? If the free markets were doing such a great job, why did Bill Clinton put Hillary in charge of coming up with big revisions to the health care system? If free enterprise was doing such a wonderful job, why did the younger George Bush put Medicare Part D into place? Making big changes to the system was part of Obama's presidential campaigns in both 2008 and 2012 and he won both by substantial margins. I see no reason why any such faith in free markets would exist. 

Ah, poor Secretary Perry, with his oh-so-inn-tell-lek-shoo-al-looking glasses, wants to have a debate, he says. Actually that debate on climate change is long since over. Most of the world is satisfied with the answer and has moved on to solutions.

Shorter Senator Ron Johnson: "Yeah, the new version of the Senate replacement for the ACA/Obamacare takes coverage away from 19 million people, but hey! We spend less meony!" Which is kind of like saying you got a great deal on a car, it just doesn't have any doors or an engine.

Wolf Blitze and Dana Bash discuss health care and bemoan that Republicans and Democrats can't agree to cooperate. But when the CBO scores three Republican plans and each time concludes that the plan with deny coverage to over 20 million people, then denying coverage is very clearly not an accident or a mistake. It's not a bug, it's a feature. It shows the two parties are viewing the issue from fundamentally different angles.

I've always understood the term "pro-life" to apply exclusively and entirely to the pregnancy/abortion question. Rolling Stone: "Every single GOP senator who calls him or herself pro-life who votes for the Republican health care bill knowingly will be voting for legislation that will kill tens of thousands of Americans per year." Being "pro-life" has absolutely nothing to do with any other part of human affairs.

Senator Al Franken is becoming a real threat to climate change dismissives. Hoo yah for him!

So the CBO score for the Senate's version of the AHCA/Trumpcare is out. Is there any meaningful distinction between this and the House version? There are a few minor differences, but the bills are pretty much "six of one, half dozen of the other."

Hmm, interesting. I hadn't gotten the impression that there was any meaningful distinction between types of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Obviously, any and all settlements can be negotiated, provided there was equivalent land that could be traded for and where it was might make a difference, but I've never heard of any of the Palestinians drawing distinctions between types of settlements. According to the Palestinians that I've spoken with, all Israeli settlements are bad and they should all be removed.  

President Trump makes a not-terribly-credible call for unity and togetherness. One of the problem with Democrats working with the President to join efforts is that, at the same time Trump calls for Democrats to help out, he blames “Democrats resisting, fake news media,” or even “deep state leaks.” He also insists on referring to Senator Warren (D-MA) as "Pocahontas." Oh, and that Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders. Trump then wonders why Democrats aren't eager to join him.  

Sarah Klift is a real go-to source for a number of the blogs and she looks here at "process stories" as opposed to substantive stories on what a policy will do. Unfortunately, TV news generally does much better with process stories and does a poor job of examining the substance of proposed policies.

The Senate version of the AHCA/Trumpcare is unveiled. Gee! What a surprise! A bill written by 13 men behind closed doors gives very little consideration to women and their health needs. Most mentions of women have to do with pregnancy/abortion.

A detailed run-down of the promises made, and broken, by the AHCA/Trumpcare. 
General consensus of major editorials on the AHCA is that it's more just a tax break for the rich than anything else.

So how's the whole election integrity issues going? Yeah, President Trump is still convinced that three to five million improper votes were cast in the 2016 election, even though the statistical record shows that illegitimate in-person voter frauds constitute about one out of every three to four million legitimate votes.
Having worked as an election clerk, I can testify that in-person voter fraud would not be an easy thing to pull off.

Any chance that Republican moderates will vote against the horrible botch that is the AHCA/Trumpcare? Personally, I wouldn't bet a plugged nickel on it.

*Sigh* A complete idiot (Secretary Perry) tries to argue with an informed and intelligent person (Senator Franken).

"Behind all of Trump’s boneheaded policies in the Middle East is an unmistakable urge for confrontation with Iran." Informed Comment.
Invading Iran was an awful, terrible, no-good idea back in 2003 when "Real man go to Tehran" was a phrase. The idea hasn't improved in the slightest.

From NBC Politics:
“Mitch McConnell: "I regret that our Democratic friends made clear early on they did not want to work with us"”
But the process was completely closed, there were no hearings, no opportunity to participate. Of course Democrats were most likely asked to agree that the ACA/Obamacare was falling apart and of course it wasn't, so that's probably what McConnell means. As Democrats disagreed with the premise of the bill, there was no room for any further discussion with them.

I really don't blame Jared Kushner for taking an old idea and re-packaging it as his own inspiration (The GAO has identified nearly 10,000 data centers, of which almost half have been closed as data can be easily transferred). It just shows that he has a ridiculously large portfolio. Again, I'm absolutely fascinated to see what he comes up with as a Mid East, Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Demonstrating his complete political impotence, President Trump insists that air traffic control be separated into a private organization. Republican senators ignored him.
Working on infrastructure was a big campaign promise that Democrats could get behind and support. Democrats have now given up on working with the President.
Quote from the piece: "The president’s political capital doesn’t really exist in any meaningful sense."

The Congressional Black Caucus met with President Trump in March. Now Trump is requesting another such meeting and again, he wants to meet with the entire 49-member caucus. For fhe first meeting, it made sense to meet all 49 members at once. For subsequent meetings? If all he wants is a photo-op, then having all of the members present would be an understandable thing to do. Wouldn't make sense for any othen reason. Besides, they asked him to do something about Flint, Michigan's water crisis and he's done nothing so a meeting would be pointless in any event.

"A new Missouri bill would target abortion providers and sanction employment and housing discrimination against people who use birth control or have an abortion." Feministing. Sorry, but I have a major problem with permitting employers to have that much control over an employee's personal life. Birth control is an extremely personal issue and is none of the employers' business. Heck, employers don't have any business even knowing about whether an employee uses birth control or not!   

‘I Need More Mexicans’: A Kansas Farmer’s Message to Trump
File this under "Be careful what you wish for..."
The movie "Seven Years a Slave" touched on this. There was a scene where a white worker labored (for pay) next to black slaves and they all picked cotton together. The white person underperformed and thus disappointed the slave-holder. The lesson here is that people who have worked better, less strenuous jobs don't like going backwards to field work. Even if we free up positions in field labor by discouraging undocumented immigrants, that won't automatically get those jobs filled.

Comparison of the process used to construct the ACA/Obamacare with the highly restricted and secretive process used for the AHCA/Trumpcare.

So what's the President's policy towards Cuba? Essentially, as with a great many other things, he's concerned with the priorities of a very small group of people (in this case, hardline Cuban emigrants back from when Cuba went Communist) and eff everybody else and any other consideration. ,

Milestone gets crossed! Wind and solar energy now make up 10% of all energy produced in US!

Philandro Castile was murdered by a trigger-happy, overzealous policeman. The policeman has now been cleared completely.  
Many African-American men are now concerned and asking "If I'm pulled over, should I tell the police I'm armed? That's what  Castile did and look what happened to him!" Even the right-wing National Review agrees that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice. Comedian Trevor Noah wonders why the NRA has a problem with this as the case represents everything they allegedly oppose.

This is very disturbing. Eight senators were asked what the purpose of the AHCA/Trumpcare bill was. It shouldn't have been that difficult to answer that question. But yeah, they fully intend to ram through the bill anyway.

Woo-hoo! President Trump has set a record! It took Richard Nixon 1,580 days for a federal investigation of him to begin. For Bill Clinton, it was 1,835 days, Trump has achieved that landmark in only 145 days!   

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calls for regime change in Iran. This just strikes me as an amazingly, incredibly fantastically bad idea! Conquering Iraq was relatively easy, holding onto it proved incredibly tough. Iran's army won't fall anywhere near as easily and they've had years to prepare a behind-the-lines guerrilla war.

Fox News drops its "Fair and Balanced" slogan. I've never had a problem with fair. Fair is always good, always appropriate and always welcome. Balance has always been tougher and more problematic.
Anyway, happy to see an always-inaccurate descrition bite the dust.

Earthjustice: "In a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Court finds that approval of Dakota Access Pipeline violated the law."

Hmm, eleventy-dimensional chess or an old man's confused ramblings? President Trump "“...said we shouldn’t worry about rising sea levels,” Eskridge said. “He said that ‘your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”

President Trump has caused problems for Senate Republicans by calling their AHCA/Trumpcare proposal "mean." Apparently, this unmasking has made it harder to pass a bill that will plainly cause serious problems for regular Americans.

*Sigh* No, Bill Cosby is a living, breathing human being with flaws that he can be held legally liable for. Cliff Huxtable is a TV character who has not been damaged in any way by Cosby's actions.

Hmm. Very interesting. I am, of course, in complete agreement with the resolution that says white supremacy is a "toxic menace." Interesting to see how controversial the resolution was

Horrified to hear of the shooting in Virginia at a practice for a Congressional baseball game. Thoughts and prayers for Representative Steve Scalise. Good point

No background checks
No licensing
No registration
No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns
Open carry long guns & handguns

Yes, the shooting was political. The now-deceased shooter was a supporter of Senator Sanders (Who is sickened by the act) and anti-President Trump. Of course, supporters of Trump react by blaming liberals for provoking the shooting with heated language. Some thoughts

Nah, Senator Sanders is correct. Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin repeats a lot of talking points that were old and long-debunked when the younger George Bush put them out. There's no evidence that the planned tax cuts will spur anything. This is just impoverishing the poor in order to enrich the already-rich.

Troubles in the Middle East constitute a really, really good reason to get our country off of fossil fuels and onto wind and solar energy.

From TPM:

“I’m not able to discuss with you, or confirm or deny, the nature of private conversations that I may have had with the President on this subject or others,” Sessions told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in one typical exchange.

Problem is, there's no legal basis for this assertion. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has become a liberal internet sensation because her questioning of AG Sessions showed a black woman causing a whte man to get all defensive. I think what's more to the point is that she shows that Sessions' defense is BS. He has no legal basis for not commenting on conversations with the President. 

Good summary of AG Sessions' testimony yesterday. "Everybody on that committee knew that JeffBo's memory lapses were at best highly convenient." And yeah, on Lawrence O'Donnell, he and Senator Franken reviewed this "rambling question" of Franken's. It was a pretty direct and to the point question.

The Russians hacked as many as 39 state electoral systems!

Absolutely amazing! The Senate AHCA/Trumpcare bill is going to be kept secret until the last possible minute, after which it will be rammed through as quickly as possible, with no hearings, no chance to examine it.

Description's of the President's Cabinet meeting ranges from "creepy" to "creepy as f###" to "third-world dictator creepy" (Are we sensing a theme here?). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer mocks it

Woo hoo! Muslim ban still illegal! Government unequivocally loses case in Ninth Circuit.

Golly gee willikers Ivanka! You poor, misunderstood guys are simply trying to enable global warming which will then destroy the human race, you're trying to take out Dodd-Frank which was put in place after the Great Recession and that prevents a repeat of same and you're trying to take away the health care plans of tens of millions of people! Dang, those darned liberals are so judgmental! The Young Turks comment. And again.

Whuuh?!?! How could Iran possibly accuse the US of ... oh ... yeah .. this guy. "Idiot Republican Congressman Suggests We Back ISIS"

A 2016 story about a 2007 case. In a 140-page deposition, they caught Trump lying 30 times.

First off, I wholly and completely agree with Senator Bob Casey's view of the pregnancy/abortion issue. But what that means is that there is no "middle" or "compromis" position on the issue, The opponent that the article quotes, Bob Salera, makes the very good point that Casey has abandoned his father's view "to fall in line with the liberal base." Casey accepts a pro-choice framing for the issue. That the best way to reduce abortions is not through legal restrictions and shaming and punishing, but through better medical care, contraceptives and education.

BlackRock, the world’s largest investment group, with $5 trillion in assets, says the last decade's slide in coal is irreversible and with the improvement in batteries, electric cars are looking better and better.

From The Guardian:
"Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming."
Ha, ha, ha! Okay, no visit for the duration of Trump's term, then!

Hey, did y'all know that last week was "Infrastructure Week"? Nah, neither did I. Kind of a problem with the plan is that, like all of the President's plans so far, there's no room for Democrats to participate in any meaningful way. A really big problem, though, is that there's no clearly proposed way to pay for it. The regular budget proposed slashes several tens of billions from infrastructure spending, then the plan put out last week adds several tens of billions back into it. Eleventy-dimensional chess or complete cluster####?

Lawsuit is launched in 2015 to say that the administration is robbing young people of a future. The question of "standing" is usually one that knocks out many lawsuits. Not this one. Defendents can prove climate change affects them. The case continues.

Qatar is a perfect example of having a problem that appears to be really simple and straightforward but, oops!, really isn't.

Various statements from female politicians. Very happy to see the Senator Claire McCaskill statement being picked up and repeated a lot.

"9 legal experts react to James Comey’s testimony: Trump 'crossed a line'"
"What strikes me as clear — clear beyond a reasonable doubt — is that President Trump acted improperly, even egregiously so." —Joshua Dressler, Professor of Law at Ohio State University

Good! I have problems with Senator Grassley over the Judge Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, but he's 100% correct here. If the precedent is set that departments can ignore certain oversight requests, then when the current party is in the minority, they're going to very seriously regret that policy.

A budget is a moral document. It tells us a great deal about a president's or party's priorities. What this budget tells us about our current president isn't good.

"Bipartisan! Kansas Legislature Overrides Brownback's Tax Cuts"
Woo hoo! Governor Brownback is still a "True Believer" in the magical properties of tax cuts for wealthy people, but the rest of Kansas has allowed the scales to fall from their eyes.

IS/ISIL/ISIS is suffering severe setbacks from attacks on Raqqa and Mosul, but is clearly behind the attack in Iran.

Good thinkpiece looking at the skills needed to gain office and the skills needed to do something with it once you've gotten it. "The dog who caught the car" problem.

Whuuh? Aggressive immigration enforcement has impacted food producers in a way that it affects food prices?!?!?! Huh! Wonder how that happened?

"‘They’re not even people’: Bitter Eric Trump smears Democrats critical of his father"
Gee, ya think the fact that after five months in office his dad has not made the slightest attempt to reach out to Democrats or liberals in any way might have something to do with the hatred that Eric Trump dislikes so much? And the "not even people" part of Eric Trump's interview caught my attention as well. To portray your opponents as not fully human is straight out of the facist playbook.

Education Secretary DeVos robotically repeated the highly unsatisfactory answer that she'll follow the law, which would have been fine if the law was clear on LGBTQ issues, but it isn't. 

Oh, okay. The former Air Force linguist Reality Winner (Yes, that really was her name) was caught by the almost-invisible markings on the paper she copied the classified information onto. The markings told investigators when and on what machine the copies were made. Then it was just a matter of figuring out who was using that particular copier at that time.

It's understandable if you don't like Kathy Griffith's politics (She showed herself with a bloody, chopped-off head of the President), but if Ted Nugent was okay by you (He screamed at a concert that he'd like to shove his guitar up into Clinton's crotch), then let's think about what you're really opposed to.

Iran made itself very unpopular in 1979 with the hostage crisis, but with the signing of the nuclear deal between itself and the US and several other countries, it's going all-out to boost it's tourism industry.

Wow! Judith Miller contradicts a Fox News host twice! She's right both times, BTW.

Very interesting. Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol at the last minute before leaving office, leaving him no time to try and get it ratified. The younger George Bush wasn't interested and dropped it. That gave the US a reputation for not being serious or reliable and really hurt us in the long run.

On the busting of a 25-year old for spilling classfied information on hacking of voting software: 
Funny, but it's usually government workers who leak info, not private contractors.

Interesting. President Trump holds a faux bill-signing ceremony, but just yesterday, Corey Lewandowski said: 
"By every measure that you can look at, this administration has been successful and the mainstream media has given him no credit. That doesn’t even include all the executive orders that he’s done..."
Could it be that Lewandowski is engaging in a bit of empty puffing up of our President's very modest accomplishments?

"Texas lawmakers spent so much time bickering over abortion, they failed to address pregnancy deaths"
"We're 'pro-life!' Eh, what' that? Does 'pro-life refer to grown women? Ha, ha, ha! No, no, no silly! 'Pro-life' refers exclusively to the unborn! What ever gave you the idea we give a rat's ass about grown women?"

Piece on NY Times and climate indifference. Unfortunately, the Times and "false balance" are very much part of the problem.

Unfortunately, the Europeans are probably right. America will probably never regain a leadership position after the current President.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gives us a bunch of vague, unclear gobbledegook as to how the Trump Administration views global warming. She leaves very unclear just how the issue is understood by the President.
What's really amazing is that she implies that the Paris Climate Agreement was imposed on the US from the outside. Jake Tapper points out that it was President Obama that set the terms, so no, the terms were not imposed on us by outside forces. Haley's reply seems to suggest that Obama was some outside, non-American who was forcing America to do terrible things.

Very heartening to see states and cities overriding the President's decision to get out of the Paris Climate Accord. Also, Europe is willing to work with states and cities.

Fox News people are probably correct that the Wonder Woman in this weekend's movie has been de-Americanized. Last year, people tried to get Wonder Woman appointed as an official international symbol of women. The idea was shot down precisely because of WW's overtly star-spangled, very American outfit.

Good going NY Times [/snark]! Times provides propaganda assist to Trump Administration with climate dismissive columnist, enabling the administration to say "EvenTheLiberal NY Times agrees..."

Oh, good grief! Local Philly columnist compares media treatment of the President to that of Emmanuel Goldstein of 1984. Erm, the President has the megaphone with which to set the media agenda, but after about five months in office, has gotten one major bill passed (AHCA/Trumpcare) through only one branch of Congress and it's a horrible cluster#### of a bill that everybody hates. Why is he deserving of better treatment?

Worthwhile statement from UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, but it does more to raise questions than it does to provide answers. The purpose of pulling out of the Paris Climate agreement is now fuzzier than ever. As I pointed out here, there is no indication that anything about the climate agreement is open to re-negotiation.

Horrors! IISIS launches a coordinated attack in the middle of London in an area full of bar and restaurants!

If theACA/Obamacare collapses, the polls have remained rock-steady. A large majority will blame the Republican Party.

Poses the famous question: "Stupid or evil?" Is the President aware that there is no agreed-upon tax bill, so it can't possibly be "moving along in Congress"? Many people arediscussing such a bill, but it hasn't been introduced yet. Is the man really that dim and uniformed and out of it?

Just to be thorough, I read the President's speech on climate change and have a number of critical questions. Not at all impressed. 

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has precisely the very same objection to the CBO that President Trump had to acting Attorney General Sally Yates and that is that the CBO is telling him something he doesn't want to hear. So, his proposed solution is also the same, to get rid of it. 

The NY Times has eliminated its Public Edtor position. No big loss.

Interesting analysis behind what drives the President's climate change policy, the rage and fear behind it. Also interesting is that he consulted Kimberly Guilfoyle, a member of Fox News' The Five.

On the Young Turks show (Available on Youtube) Cenk Uygur is a good deal more cynical than Ana Kasparian, but they have a good discussion of the fellow who thinks God will save us all from the bad consequences of climate change.

Pulling out of the 197-nation climate agreement would irreversibly take away America's leadership role on this issue. The damage this would do to us can't be fixed.

So what did people think of the President's climate speech? Kind of interesting that the press release can only quote reactions from members of the President's own party. More

Oh, lovely! As hurricane season begins, the Trump Administration has appointed neither the head of FEMA nor NOAA. Keep in mind that when Bill Clinton was running in 1992, he paid very close and careful attention to how the elder George Bush had handled a hurricane down in Florida. Clinton realized that his FEMA head would only get attention for 1% of Clinton's term, but for that 1%, ALL eyes would be upon him. Both he and Obama made good choices for that position.

White House reveals details as to how its enforcing its ethics policy. 16 exceptions have already been made (The Obama Admnistration had this many over their full eight years). It's not much of a policy if it has that many exceptions. 

Woo hoo! VERY cool!! Exxon shareholders step up! The company must now consider climate change in calculating risks to its assets. 

From Sports Illustrated twitter:
“LeBron James responds to the vandalism incident at his home." 
No matter how rich and famous you are, being black in America is tough. My sympathies to him.

The Obamas were renting an eight-bedroom house in Washington DC. They now just went ahead and bought it for $8.1 million. 

Oh good grief! Poor Press Secretary Sean Spicer tries to push a ridiculous story about how "covfefe" was an intentional act when it's obvious the President was up too late and should not have been tweeting at that late hour.
A few days earlier, President Trump put out the suggestion of spending more on health care. What did his tweet mean? It was pretty clear that it meant nothing, that it was just a random thought that he then quickly forgot about. He really needs to compose tweets, allow his staff to look them over, talk about it and vet them before 0heyt go out.

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President Trump wants to end the filbuster entirely. As I said, the President is a wannabe dictator. He can't work with democracy. His businesses were run as absolute autocracies. He never has and never will be comfortable with running the US in a give-and-take, cooperative fashion.

Well, of course Presiden Trump wants to revive the old Cuba polcy. Because why not drag some old, useless unworkable policy out of mothballs and re-institute it?

The President says in a tweet that: "I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare." What does that mean, exactly? Well, with other presidents, it would mean a serious policy statement. With this one, he's pretty much just rambling and doesn't understand his own policy.

After the President's first big foreign trip, the good news is that Europeans don't see our President as dangerously out of control. They just see his constant flip-flops as weakness and amateurism. They don't think Trump will even finish out his term, either. So they're not very concerned about him.

Well, the President's foreign trip is over and the big winners are Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia. 

The State Department is trying to slim down and discharge 2000 employees, so hey, diplomatic relations with the Muslim world will have to be a casualty. It's all about priorities, y'see. 
This occurs, of course, after the President makes an extremely offensive and tone-deaf Ramadan greeting. 

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner set up a backchannel line of comunication between himself and Russia last December.  NY Times puts out piece defending Kushner.

"Trump’s Proposed Budget Would Invest $277 Million in Abstinence-Only Education"

As I recall, the younger George Bush put a fair amount of money into abstinence-only program. Liberals had many better things to concern themselves with, so his people had a free hand to design the programs however they felt might work. They were a complete bust and accomplished nothing. The Guttmacher Institute found that there was a decline in teenage pregnency during Bush's terms, but that the rate of decline was the same from a few years before Bush's terms to a few years after, so it's pretty clear that the policies he instituted during his time in office had little or nothing to do with the decline.   

After a terrorist attack in Manchester, England, killed some fans of the singer Ariana Grande and wounded many others, Alex Jones (who now has a press pass and can attend White House briefings) engages in some victim-blaming

Okay, so AG Jeff Sessions is engaged in a big drug war. Oops! "Banamex and Citi officials knew of some 18,000 separate suspicious account activities from 2007 to 2012 yet reported just six to regulators."
Well, ya see, hey, some crimes are bad and others are really bad and y'know, we can't chase everybody and...

As to the Montana special election, 538 said: "A 4-8 point win for Gianforte would fall somewhere between a pretty good/very good political environment for Dems."
The Democrat lost, but by only six points. Democrats should compete everywhere!

First sign of actual collusion between Russian hackers and an American political operative  uncovered. 

In return, that operative received valuable Democratic voter-turnout analyses, which the newspaper found at least one GOP campaign consultant took advantage of the information.

After Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed a BBC repoter, some conservatives referred to that as "Montana Justice." Wow! Suppose Barack Obama did the same thing and called it "Chicago Justice"? Would they find that so humourous? 

Education Secretary DeVos responds to question on schoools discrimination:
“The bottom line is we believe that parents are the best equipped to make choices for their children’s schooling and education decisions,” DeVos said. “States and local communities are best equipped to make these decisions and framework.”
Which is fine if the school is entirely dependent on tuition snf private donations. If they get any public money at all, then no, it's not fine! Then they need to respect all citizens.

From a twittter post

at briefing today, [Budget Director Mick] Mulvaney told me Trump promise not to touch Medicaid had been overridden by Trump promise to repeal/replace Obamacare

This is a rather interesting justification because it's not like the President suddenly discovered that the ACA/Obamacare needed to be repealed and that his earlier promise to not touch Medicaid couldn't be kept. He knew full well that 1. these promises couldn't both be kept when he made them and 2. is it necessary to touch Mediaic in the first place? The ACA didn't need to touch Medicaid, so it's not at all clear that the AHCA needs to either.

CBO score in on AHCA/Trumpcare: passing the bill would be even worse for regular citizens than before the ACA/Obamacare was instituted.

Montana Congressional candidate body-slams reporter. Reporter not wounded, but glasses broken. The candidate later won his contest.

Yeah, "Idiot level: Hogan's Heroes facepalm" (photo of three of the characters all doing a facepalm). President has conversation with Filipino President Duterte and lets slip that we have two nuclear subs in the area.

Senate Majority Leader "McConnell on why no Ds in healthcare talks: 'We're not going to waste our time talking to people who have no interest in fixing the problem'"
Rather interesting statement from McConnell, considering that Democrats unveiled a 1,000 page plan in July 2009. faced town halls of people strenuously objecting to the plan, and didn't finally pass it until March 2010. More.
Raises an interesting question of just what McConnell thinks Democrats want to do, exactly.

The deeply misogynist nature of the terrorist attack in England.

From Snopes: Seth "Rich, a 27-year-old DNC staffer, was shot twice in the back at 4:20 in the morning on 10 July 2016 amid the run-up to the presidential election. Although none of his possessions were taken from him, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police consider it a botched robbery attempt, because there had been a spate of muggings in Rich’s Bloomingdale neighborhood at the time." Sean Hannity of Fox News and many others are convinced that the murder was far more sinister than that and have been pushing various conspiracy theories. Rich's family has sent conspiracy theorists a "cease and desist" order. Finally, Fox News management denounced Hannity and his wild theories.

The polls taken on the make-up of Obama's support didn't change much throughout his eight years, so it's unlikely Trump's will change much, either. Trump has the really hard-core Bush Dead-Enders/Tea Partiers/Freedom Caucus in his corner, but mild Republican supporters are below 75% and everybody else is below 25% support. For Obama in contrast, all Democrats were above 75% support, mild Republicans and Independents were around 50%, it was only the hard-core opponents that were below 25%. . 

Interesting. The charge here is that an anti-Clinton young woman in the Anthony Weiner sexting case lied about her age (she was just under 17, not 15, when the sexting was reported) and made use of Weiner's known vulnerability to damage the Clinton campaign.

"Hey, so we made a small bit of a slight slip-up! Gosh, you liberals are so judgmental! So we're off by $2 trillion! C'mon, who hasn't made a teeny-tiny error like that?"
The assumption is that not only will the $2 trillion tax cut pay for itself, but an additioal $2 trillion will be produced.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defeated his closest rival, Ebrahim Raisi. 

Riding a large turnout from Iran's urban middle classes, President Hassan Rouhani won re-election in a landslide on Saturday, giving him a mandate to continue his quest to expand personal freedoms and open Iran's ailing economy to global investors.

So we had these clear, unequivocal, repeated promises from candidate Trump concerning Medicaid. Absolutely no cuts would be made. Now, of course, we have proposals of $600 billion in cuts to not only Medicaid, but SCHIP (the children's program) over a decade as well, to be combined with the $820 billion in Medicaid cuts in the AHCA/Trumpcare. 
Plans are for $1.7 trillion in cuts, to include SSDI as well (Still Social Security, but disability, as opposed to old age insurance).

Horrors! ISIS suicide bomber attacks a concert in Manchester, England and kills 22.

Anfrew Sullivan gives a pretty good summary of the President's trip so far. It's interesting that Scottie Neil Hughes, who's on after Sullivan here, thinks it's more praiseworthy for the President to speak to 50 friendly leaders than it is to make a deal with Iran. But isn't making a deal with an adversary more of a challenge than schmoozing with old buddies?

Good, detailed examination of a hopelessly confused cluster#### of a policy.
A blogger documents numerous contradictions between the President's previous rhetoric and current actions, then says: 

These aren’t flip-flops, exactly. They’re examples of Trump failing to take his own posturing seriously. For all of his rhetoric about “toughness” and “strength,” the president is only too pleased to retreat when forced to confront those he’s admonished.

A right-wing blog looks at the Bill Maher-Cornel West argument. Gotta say, I'm in 100% agreement with the bloggers evaluation of how a race between Trump and Sanders would have gone. Sanders would have been crushed like a bug. He would have lost by way more than Clinton did.

Good1 The President did not use the inflammatory language he suggested he would and used appropriate terms instead. The weeping and wailing of the hard-core right-wingers (They're referring to Trump as a "cuck") is music to my ears!

"Trump signs $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia"
This is one of those things that's pretty much six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other. If Clinton was in office, I'm sure she would have signed a similar deal. So I really can't muster up much outrage over this.

Update: The Obama Administration had a $115 billion arms deal planned with the Saudis, but nixed it because of human rights abuses in Yemen. The Trump Administration cares far more about money than other peoples' rights. Might be wrong, but I doubt that Clinton would be so blase on the subject.

Hmm, the President appears to "bow" or "curtsy" to receive a medal. Seems a bit of a stretch to interpret it that way, but I never saw the Obama "bow." 
Judge Jeanine Pirro obviously did think it looked like that, as she quickly made a small hand gesture and the screen immediately blocked out any view of the President until the "bowing" was over.

Aww! The miserable, unhappy lives of Trump staffers.

I've seen suggestions that Russian hacking and their semi-covert assistance to the Trump campaign is all a "Deep State" scam and that the CIA has been manipulating us all. That's hard to square with Speaker Ryan's reaction to being informed that the Russians might be paying Trump. Ryan appears to have genuinely believed that, and frankly, to still believe it.

President Trump begins his first trip abroad. Saudi Arabia is first on the list.

Yeah, two years ago, it was a scandal, A scandal I tell you!, that FLOTUS Michelle Obama didn't wear a headscarf while visiting Saudi Arabia. How about now, when FLOTUS Melania Trump does the same thing? Well ... erm ... um ... ya see, hey, it's different because Melania's a Republican!

"Trump administration puts indefinite hold on plan to measure carbon pollution from cars and trucks"
Yeah, what's up with all of this making decisions based on solid facts and data? Who needs science? We're only talking about the survival of the human race! [/snark]

Senator Warren was a co-sponsor of "21st Century Glass-Steagall." Then, On March 18, Warren said "[President Trump] has claimed for months that he supports reinstating Glass-Steagall - the law separating commercial & investment banking."
"Now that [President] Trump & US Treasury Sec Mnuchin have met with the Wall Street lobbyists, they’ve done a complete 180 on Glass-Steagall."
So what exactly does "21st Century Glass-Steagall." mean now? Senator Warren points out, correctly, that the meaning of "Glass-Steagall" is to separate commercial banking from investment banking. Apparently, by adding "21st Century" to the front of "Glass-Steagall," that now totally and completely changes the meaning of "Glass-Steagall" in a way that it's impossible to publicly explain in just a few minutes.

Representative Chaffetz just doesn't see any upside to being the head of the House Oversight Committee when a Republican President is being investigated for scandal. It'd be one thing if the scandal were a nothingburger, but I think Chaffetz knows otherwise.

Upon hearing that Joe Lieberman is the President's possible pick for FBI Director:
"1) We’ll have to look at Lieberman’s stupid fucking face and hear his mewling voice for the next 10 goddamn years."

Swedish charges are dropped, but Julian Assange is still, for all intents and purposes, imprisioned in the London Ecuadrean Embassy. He's been there since 2012. Rather interesting that the charges were dropped  right after Chelsea Manning was freed.  

So, more than 100 days after taking office, how's he doing on immigration reform? Well, numbers of arrests are way up, ICE has gotten a lot crueller and more vicious and ... hmm... yeah, that's about it.

Hmm, keep the Confederate statue intact, but move it to a graveyard. A more appropriate place than in the middle of the city where descendants of the people who didn't approve of the Confederate cause don't have to see it. 
Sounds like a reasonable compromise, but as the piece makes clear, that solution still won't satisfy the white supremacists.

Education Secretary "Betsy DeVos Wants to Kill a Major Student Loan Forgiveness Program" because...hmm, I dunno.  She just seems to be determined to prove that she's just as bad as everyone said she'd be for education in this country. She appears to be focused on short-term profits of lenders with no plans to see to the education of students.

Chelsea Manning got out of jail today!

On May 16th, Sean Hannity attacks Seth Rich, a dead man. His attack was discredited even before he made it.
On May 18th, Hannity calls upon people to respect Roger Ailes, who just passed today.
But hey, it's not like Hannity is expressing hypocrisy or anythng.

The President is very unhappy about the decision to investigate his dealings with Russia. Listen to how unhappy he is: "I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not unified country."
Now, keep in mind that he's been pursuing a far-right wing agenda without even a nod to the concerns of Democrats.

Hmm, the Pentagon is getting ready for an audit at the same time it's preparing to spend tens of billions of new dollars. Can it successsfully do both? Ehh, probably not
I seem to recall that Donald Rumsfeld once called attention to military waste and cost overruns. When was that? Ah yes
September 10, 2001. Seem to remember something that happened the next day that made everyone forget about this.

Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, has passed away at 77.
The evil that men do lives on after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.

William Shakespeare

Also, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone gives us a great recap of Ailes' career.

Very concerning that the boduguards of Turkish President Erdogan beat anti-Turkish protesters. Could have been worse as bodyguards were armed. No surprise that the President was silent on treatment of protesters.

There are essentially two ways to prevent abortions. One, the liberal way, is to make them unnecessary. You give early and accurate sex education, make contraceptives available and generously fund pregnancy health programs. The other way is to just punish and punish and punish, the hell with how it hurts women.

A survey recently showed that undocumented immigrants and Black Lives Matter are both really, really unpopular with far-right supporters of President Trump. David Clarke is a really extreme opponent of both. So it's understandable that this appointment shores up Trump's far-right base. But Clarke is an outright fascist.

Some of what the President said to FBI Director Comey: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
Republicans are saying this plea was somehow a "joke." Uh ... ri-i-i-i-ght!

Turns out President Trump revealed that there was a spy within the high command of ISIS. The spy was Israeli. There's no reason to think that Russia is at all motivated to hand information over to ISIS. Still, this episode raises serious concerns about the President's fitness for office, whether he can handle the responsibilities of it.
Will Republicans break with Trump over this? Nah. If tax cuts for the wealthy and the process of taking health plans away from millions don't work out, then Republicans will abandon the President.
And the really major problem with the President being all chatty with classified data is not the domestic legal problem, it's the pragmatic problem of our allies not being able to trust us.
Oh, and it turns out that the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster wasn't aware of the importance of the information that was passed on and so didn't bref the press correctly on it for several days.

Hmm, so ISIS tells its followers "Hey, no need to go through all the hassle and bother of trying to sneak weapons through US Customs. Just get to the US and purchase guns once you're there!" They point to how weak US gun laws are.
What do conservatives think of that? Why, it's a liberal plot to strengthen gun laws! Becase, y'lnpw, ISIS and liberals are in close contact and all.

Yeah, so remember those halcyon days of yore, when in July of 2016, Speaker Ryan declared that because Hillary Clinton was said by FBI Director James Comey to have been careless with classified information, she couldn't be trusted as Commander in Chief? Yeah, good times.
Apparently Presiden Trump has shared information on ISIS that was super-duper top secret with Russia.

Chilling and disturbing. "House Republican writes letter to constituent's employer complaining about her progressive activism." The activist was a Senior Vice President of her firm, but resigned because of the complaint.

Senator John McCain makes an obviously stategic, "mavericky" move by referring to Senate Majorty Leader McConnell as a "stupid idiot" for using the "nuclear option" of overriding the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees Neil Gorsuch. Kind of a problem wth that is that Senator McCain was in favor of overriding the Democratic filibuster. Which means this speech was all political calculation and zero real outrage.  

Presidential spokesperson Kellyanne Conway is upset that the media doesn't give due time and attention to President Trump's positive accomplishments. Well, let's look at one of them. The AHCA/Trumpcare is about the only piece of major legislation that's been passed on his watch. GOP Representative Tom MacArthur found out, in a raucous five-hour town hall, just how his constituents felt about it.

A blogger has gotten into the habit of referring to the current officeholder as an "amateur president." That fits here as President Trump refers to "Palestine" instead of "Palestinian Territories." Obviously someone called and  yelled about that as the wording was soon changed.
Again, I think it's a great idea for Trump to try and bring peace to the Middle East. His attempt will obviously be a complete cluster****, but hey, sure, give it a whirl!

I think I understand the Senate Majority Leader's strategy here. He figures that as long as all of the critics are on one side and all of the defenders on the other, the public will see the dispute over the President's actions as nothing more than a partisan food fight. Problem is, it's a whole lot more than that. Comey is no hero to liberals, but we don't have to lionize Comey at the expense of the President or vice-versa. They can both be wrong!

The NY Time hired a global warming dismissive as a regular columnist. Their publisher argues that we should listen to all points of view, not just those we agree with. Well okay, but as I argue here, the columnist Bret Stephens does not argue in a direct and honest manner, he doesn't use facts and figures in a straightforward fashion. No, I think those who cancelled their subscriptions were right.

The "Deep State" makes its appearance as an anti-Trump/right wing bogeyman here and here.

The President's lawyers:
"The President's tax returns show that he has no extensive financial ties to Russia."
"Oh, okay. Can we see those returns so as to verify your claim?"
"What? Oh no. No, no, no. You'll just have to take our word for it."

The Comey-Trump conflict is much worse than Watergate. Big differences between Presidents Trump and Nixon, but the real problem is that the Republican Party is very different now from what it was like back then.

Wow! North Carolina had a disaster, they asked for $929 million, they're getting $6.1 million.

FBI Director Comey claims President Trump demanded loyalty from him during a private dinner. Just as with the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, no, it is not the job of certain government officials to just salute and to promptly carry out every order they're given. It is not the job of an FBI Director to demonstrate "loyalty."

If the President seriously believes "that 'it is not possible' for his staff to speak with 'perfect accuracy' to the American public," then perhaps he should admit that the job is just too tough for him and should resign.

President Trump says that FBI Director Comey asked to have dinner with him. Other sources agree that the dinner took place, but that the President was the one who requested it. Trump has himself suggested that the firing of Comey had to do with the Russia investigation.

"23 Reasons Trump’s Firing of James Comey Is a World-Historic Shit Show"
Yeah, item 11: 

This level of disorganization testifies either to the administration’s astounding incompetence or else to the urgency with which it needed to dispatch the FBI director. And it is hard to think of a benign explanation for why the White House would have felt such an urgency.

Okay, when liberals said Benghazi was exhaustively, completely and thoroughly covered at the end of 2013, that's because it was. There simply wasn't anything further to say about it, even though the numerous investigations continued up until the end of 2016. Comey's recent request for more money and personnel to look into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia was clearly in response to further connections being discovered. His investigation was clearly ready to ramp up. No, we're nowhere near finished looking into this.

This is pretty disturbing. We can tell what's on the President's Twitter feed and it consists pretty much entirely of people who think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. That means that when he does something like abruptly firing the guy who's investigating his campaign, he's completely blindsided by the reaction from people who weren't his fans to begin with. He had absolutely NO idea that people would find that objectionable.

Not at all surprised that Senate Majority Leader McConnell is opposed to an independent counsel investigation.
McConnell complains that Democrats thought Comey deliberately interfered in the 2016 election AND that Comey was fired for transparently dishonest reasons. Yeah, Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. They can be outraged about both.

Good, solid arguments from a Bernie supporter turned reluctant Hillary supporter who explains that the difference between Clinton and Trump was real, but really could have and should have been bigger.

A reporter wanted to know if domestic violence counted as a pre-existing condition. Obviously HHS Secretary Price considered that to be an annoying question and the reporter was arrested and charged $5K for alledgedly getting into Price's face and violating security. Heyman graduated with a BA in Journalism and has over 30 years of experience in the field.

Heh! Interesting strategy to explain the AHCA/Trumpcare vote! I'm sure any Democrat reading this is like "Whuuh?!?!"

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Ca.), facing angry constituents at town hall, calls GOP health care bill “bipartisan..both parties working together"

Haven't seen any reports as to what, if any, role the fellow who was named as the Trump Administration's "strategist" played, but Steve Bannon, if he played any role at all, is doing an incredibly crappy job! The guy's "strategy" appears to be that of complete cluster****.
And yeah, no one believes that anyone in the Trump Administration gives a flying leap about how Comey treated Clinton. That's so obviously a convenient excuse it's just laughable.

Dena Takruri of Al Jazeera interviews Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT).

Huh! Well, whattya know? Comey is out as FBI Director. 

CNN reporter Dana Bash tells us "Source w knowledge of wh discussions tells me senior officials did not think firing james comey would be a big political explosion."

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): "We need a real, independent prosecutor who @realDonaldTrump can't fire, Sessions can't intimidate, & Congress can't muzzle. We need it now."


"Won’t millions of Americans lose their health insurance because of your plan?"
"No. We are working to give all Americans peace of mind about their health care."
The day after 217 House Republicans voted for their party’s health care plan, the website was changed – and these promises, which Republicans broke, were replaced with new text.

Erm, wasn't this a feature of what the government did in the novel "1984"? Wasn't that Winston's job? To delete information that was no longer consistent with reality?

FBI Director James Comey testified on his handling of Clinton's emails right before the election. ProPublica supplies much, much more convincing and credible explanations of Huma Abedin's email practices than Comey does.
Also, whether information should be classified is something that serious, patriotic and experienced people can honestly disagree on. The controlling factor here, under these particular circumstances, is whether or not it's marked classified. And believe me, such markings are very clear and unambiguous.

Did the President actually engage in witness tampering? Absolutely. I don't think there's any question of that. As to motivation, did he deliberately and consciously decide to engage in witness tampering, knowing that it was a felony? That part's not so clear. Does anyone on his staff dare to correct him and to inform him that he's breaking the law? Obviously not.

The once-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was able to testify on the matter of the trump campaign and Michael Flynn. In the process, she was able to defend her conduct from right after the first Muslim ban. She very clearly knew her role and it was not to simply salute and follow the President's orders. As acting AG, it was very much within her authority to ask questions and to insist the administration meet certain standards.

For the run-off vote in Georgia, the Republican is furious because the rule was that voters had to regster 90 days in advance. The Democrat just got a ruling that lowerded that period to 30 days.

Heh! How proud are GOP members of their AHCA/Trumpcare bill? "...only 14 of the 217 House Republicans who voted for the bill last week — less than 7 percent — are listed as holding town halls with their constituents."

Ivanka Trump's new book borrows quotes from all sorts of people, many of whom are pretty unhappy about their being quoted. Joy Reid of MSNBC gleefully mocks the book.

From TPM:

“More importantly we got two CBO scores,” Ryan told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, referring to the bill’s previous iterations (the version which passed the House has not yet been scored). “And the most recent CBO score showed that we’re perfectly in compliance with the Senate budget rules, which is what matters here.”

Erm, no. What matters is whether tens of millions of Americans lose their health insurance to a bill that was rushed through without hearings. Lack of a current CBO score for the latest verson of the bill means members were voting in the dark because they just didn't care.

This fellow who writes books on golf met Donald Trump three years ago and talks with Trump and Trump's son Eric

I said, 'What are you using to pay for these courses?' And [Donald Trump] just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million."

$100 million.

"So when I got in the cart with Eric," Dodson says, "as we were setting off, I said, 'Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.' And this is what he said. He said, 'Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.'

Oh, and Trump Administration is still way behind on filling positions.

Good! Some bipartisan concern for the environment as a climate bill draws support from both sides of the aisle. D'oh! Just as Trump Administration refuses to re-appoint several scientists from the EPA, to be replace with industry representatives.

The President asks why news media is so slanted against the AHCA and also asks: "Why is it that the Fake News rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs?"
Well, maybe because, while it may need minor adjustments, it isn't on its last legs at all. Maybe because it would be doing fine without Republican sabotage and with proper support.

This is an extremely powerful testimony as to how wretched and awful and utterly indefensible the AHCA/Trumpcare bill is. Not one of 217 Representatives was willing to go onto Joy Reid's show to explain and defend the bill they just passed.

Hmm. Interesting piece on Jimmy Kimmel's recet speech on health care and his newborn son. If you're in favor of the ACA/Obamacare, you favor "bloated federal bureaucracy, socialized medicine, higher taxes and tons of more debt piled onto your grandchildren."
Funny, but the AHCA/Trumpcare doesn't deliver better, cheaper service. In fact, it delivers markedly inferior service and much higher prices.

Investigation of 2016 election continues. Hey, it took two years for Watergate to go from "third-rate burglary" to Nixon helicoptering out of the White House. These things take time!

Uh. Mah. Gawd! Yep, the Alex Jones site InfoWars now has a weekly press pass to the White House, full credentials pending! Video of Jones.

Does the AHCA bill cover those with pre-existing conditions? Well, yeah, but $8 billion is kind of a drop in the bucket that covers only 4% of the projected need.

VP Pence is filling the Trump White House with anti-choicers. Heartbreaking interview on the passage of the AHCA/Trumpcare bill: "I'm 46 years old. What about MY right to life?"

In non-news of the day. The ACLU decided not to sue over Trump Administration "religious freedom" executive order as it really doesn't do anything..

From the Rachel Maddow Blog

In 2009, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appeared on MSNBC and declared, in reference to a Democratic health care bill:
“I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read, that we don’t know what they cost.”
Ryan is now rushing through his health care bill, despite the fact his own members haven’t read it, and despite the fact that they have no idea what the bill costs. (GOP leaders refuse to consider waiting for a report from the Congressional Budget Office.)

House votes and passes the AHCA/Trumpcare! Democrats denounce it and point out that there was no Presidential speech, no CBO score and no explanation as to why this bill doesn't resemble pre-election promises.

Five-Thirty-Eight does an analysis of the 2016 election. Yes, FBI Director Comey's last-minute interjection most likely cost Clinton the election.

This is ... wow! This. Is. Not. Normal! Woman is convicted of laughing at the Attorney General during a hearing!

House votes on a new AHCA/Trumpcare bill tomorrow. Funny, but I thought they were supposed to post bills three days in advance and they're only doing this with one day's notice.

House passes truly awful bill that permits employers to compensate employees who work overtime with time off as opposed to money. Of course, the unpaid leave time is to be taken at the employer's convenience. No Democrats voted fror this and six Republicas joined them.

From a tweet: "Trump is clearly frustrated that media aren't playing spending deal as a W-I-N." Erm, there's a reason media isn't portraying budget negotiation as a Presidential win. Trump didn't win on any of his priorities.

From the Arizona Capitol Times: "Arizona House Majority Leader John Allen (R) believes that Arizona’s teachers should lower their salary expectations." Amazingly enough, Arizona is suffering a teacher shortage! Gee, I wonder of this guy's attitude and that shortage could be connected somehow?

Hmm. The EPAs case against excess carbon in the atmosphere "is the product of serious legal, scientific, evidentiary, and procedural errors." Problem is, the group petitioning to stop considering excess carbon as a pollutant is a very, very long way away from proving that statement.

The President has an interesting solution for the Senate's failure to pass his proposals

The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good "shutdown" in September to fix mess!

Or, maybe perhaps, propose better, more popular soltions? BTW, Senate does not agree.

The President appears to be caught in a vicious cycle. When his agenda bogs down, he goes back to the campaign trail (or the golf course), which means he takes time and attention away from getting things done in Washington, which means he gets frustrated and takes to the campaign trail...

Good riddance! Conversion therapy for gays has been tried and has failed. It does more harm than good.

Before Trump's inaguration, a lot of people were frantically preserving government websites in anticipation of the governmet deleting important sites. Good thing, because the EPA just removed the climate science site.

Good point of comparison between Trump's and Obama's first 100 days is that while the ACA/Obamacare didn't get passed until March 2010, Obama was very successful in laying the groundwork for its passage by this time eight years ago. What has Trump laid the groundwork for? Erm, nothing really.

April                       back to top

So Fox News puts out a chart (Unemployment at the 100-day mark for Clinton 7.1%, Bush 4.4%, Obama 9.0%, Trump 4.4%). To which someone makes the very good response: "So Democratic presidents have inherited economic messes and have left the economy in much better shape for their GOP successors. Got it."

Heh! Suggestion is that defending President Trump's first 100 days is kind of like being a Pharaoh after the Book of Exodus. "The cattle haven’t all died. We’ve seen less fiery hail. And pestilence has been kept to an acceptable minimum."

Oops! After first denying it and claiming that Obama was responsible for clearing Mike Flynn (Obama fired Flynn), it seems the Trump Administration DID investgate and cleared Flynn! 

From the LA Times: "Babies and children listed in Homeland Security's immigrant database of alleged criminals."

Yeah, this raises the old question: "Stupid or Evil?" Does the Trump Administration do things because they're understaffed and/or incompetent or because they just don't give a crap?

Oh, good grief, what a horribly idiotic story! Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton have "uncanny similarities"?!?!?! Such as? Seriously?

Hmm, the President figures the Middle East, the relationship between Israel and Palestine should be a piece of cake to solve.

The following question and answer got a number of favorable headlines: "NBC News asked [Ivanka Trump] about admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, she said that it should be 'part of the discussion, but that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.'”
Maybe I'm just used to reading such statements cynically, but I'm surprised this answer got her good headlines as it strikes me more as deliberate obsfuscation than as a clear and honest answer. Trump could very easily have said straight out that she approved of letting in Syrian refugees and then that we needed to do still more. Not at all clear what making them "part of the discussion" means.

On the Russian TV station RT, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accuses President Trump of being a puppet of the Deep State.

Aww! The President tells us that he's unhappy with his job and finds it a lot of work.

From Rawstory

The Trump administration this week launched a new hotline called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) for people to learn more information about crimes that have been committed by undocumented immigrants. 

The piece goes on to document how liberals messed it up. Yee hah! This is truly a Nazi, Third-Reich style of program. Glad to hear it was disrupted.

Kudos to the Today crew for doing some good questioning! After the four-minute mark, Mnuchin mentions how a tax amnesty is going to create growth. Problem: The younger George Bush tried this exact same idea.
"But Rich, how come I've never heard of this?"
"Because it has absolutely zero effect. It did not result in any new investments."

Wow! The new AHCA/Trumpcare plan is so bad, Republican legislators wrote themselves out of it! "This plan is fine for the peasants, but we won't touch it!"

Hmm, this Ivanka/Donald Trump foundation requires very, very close and careful scrutiny. This, frankly, looks exactly like the Clinton Foundation in that it opens the way for conflicts of interest. The difference is that Clinton kept her State Department business separate from the Clinton Foundation. We have no reason to believe that this new Trump Foundation will be run in anything like the same way.

Yeah, the guy's microphone joke really wipes out any feminist credibility he gained during the rest of his talk. But I've always found it interesting that conservatives think that feminism means that women should support other women all the time, no matter how anti-female their policies are or if they make silly comments.

Greg Gutfeld, the *ahem* er "comedian" of The Five at Fox News, puts out some very dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric. And no, the analogy between abortion and slavery is deeply flawed as a baby is not grown in a vase or petri dish. There's another human being involved in the baby-making process.

Serious foot-dragging going on concerning the investigation of Russian influence? Considering that virtually nothings been done and only part-timers working on it, yeah.

To mark President Trump's 100 days in office, his people release a list of accomplishments. They have to engage in some serious list-padding here in order to puff up a record that's pretty bare in terms of accomplishments. Here's a fun tweet from December 2015:

“I don’t think he even tries anymore. I think he just signs executive actions,” Trump said of Obama. “That’s the way the system is supposed to work. And then all of a sudden, I hear he tried, he can’t do it, and then, boom, and then another one, boom.”

New Orleans removed the first of four Confederate monuments. Having learned from South Carolina's experience at flag removal, the remova was done at night and workers wore facemasks and bulletproof vests.

The pre-Industrial Age amount of carbon in the atmosphere in parts per million (ppm) was 280. The highest safe level is 350 ppm.
We've just gone above 410 ppm. It's been 3 million years since carbon has been that high.

After complaining that the "Muslim ban" executive order was stopped by "a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific," AG Sessions got lots and lots of pushback. To which he responded "nobody has a sense of humor anymore."

Blogger picks out two quotes from NY Times report that shows, yeah, FBI Director Comey was terrified that Hillary Clinton might win and that Republicans would then launch a whole series of investigations.

Trump Administration Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has a difficult time explaining why, when President Trump has over 550 positions to fill, he's only submitted less then 25 nominations.  

Heh! Most interesting! Executive orders are now a good thing! Funny, when was it? Yeah, here we go. Just a few months ago, in December 2016, President Obama was described by World Net Daily as "pen-happy" because he was putting out so many evil, awful, terrible executive orders. But now, Fox News' Jeanine Pirro says "28 executives orders to date.That’s more than any president in half a century." Now undeersand, she's not saying that as a condemnation. No, she's saying that as a compliment

Buried deep in this piece is a look at just how Representative Jason Chaffetz sees his job:
"Had Clinton won, Chaffetz would have used the platform to attack the administration at every turn... But now, he was suddenly limited by demands to play team ball ..."
So hey, Chaffetz would have done his job as head of the House Oversight Committee, but hey, y'know, players gotta play with the team, y'know?

Hmm. Well, the President's talked about items 1, 2 & 5. Done any of it? Ehh, not so much.

It's grimly hilarious that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney is trying to get Democrats to sign off on funding for the wall with Mexico. First off, President Trump can legitimately say that he has a mandate to build the wall as that was a prominent part of his winning campaign. but he also made it very clear that Mexico was going to pay for it. So Democrats are entirely justified in saying his mandate isn't applicable. Update: None of the border state governors are in favor of the wall.

Can Republicans get away with saying it's not their fault that the ACA/Obamacare collapses? Nope. Not with their party owning the House, Senate and Presidency.

Whoo-weee! With John F. Kennedy getting a 74% average approval rating for his first quarter and Bill Clinton getting a much lower 55% (Barack Obama got 63%), Donald Trump straggles badly with 41%!

March for Science. Includes lots of updates as it marks the 92nd day of the Trump Administration. 

Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempts to debate the meaning of the word "is" in relation to the "Lost Armada" (The President said a US Naval Task Force was 3,000 miles away from where it actually was).    
And yes, if you think this sounds like a familiar debate, President Clinton did indeed debate the meaning of the word "is" back in 1998.                  
Of course, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) picks now to commend Trump's people as "the best national security team I've seen since I've been in government."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to establish new standards for Iran to meet in order to keep the nuclear agreement that President Obama reached with them. Problem is, Tillerson wants to simply impose this new standard unilaterally. This is a truly awful idea. Iran and the US had to negotiated long and hard before they were both reasonably satisfied. To unilaterally and arbitrarily throw in new requirements is to make keeping the agreement impossible.

New York reports: "The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end."
Great memories of Bill O'Reilly! Senator Al Franken looks back at an instance where Bill just completely made up a study to make a point.

CBS News says "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says tax reform unlikely to happen by August." 

Works for me!  As this was highly likely to be "Reverse Robin Hood" stuff (Take from the poor to give to the rich), I don't see this as bad news at all.

This is rather deeply concerning. This is kind of a problem with having a part-time Commander in Chief who spends more time on the golf course than just about anywhere else. President Trump announed that an "Armada" was saling twards the Sea of Japan. But instead of heading towards North Korea, the USS Carl Vinson and accompanying ships were actually heading towards Australia to take part in an exercise. South Korea has absolutely no faith in anything the President says now. A deep dive into how this ridiculous cluster**** occurred. 

Not unprecedented or illegitimate, ALL of the state US attrneys were forced to resign a month ago today. What's unusual is that not one has been replaced yet. The Trump Administration had already wated about two months. Not a all clear why they couldn't have waited until they had at least a few replacements lined up. 

Woo hoo! In terms of red to blue voters (Republican to Democrat), this seat is DEEP red and a Democratic (blue) candidate just got a plurality of votes for it!

From the piece's conclusion:

If only someone could have predicted that a policy of targeting people by religion followed by “extreme vetting” practices and random searches of domestic air travelers would make us a pariah in the international community. Who could have known it would be so complicated?

VP Pence wants to "abandon the failed policy of strategic patience." Erm, not sure what he means by "failed." Under Clinton, North Korea did not have nuclear weapons, under the younger George Bush, NK had nukes shortly after Bush made it clear that he held their "Dear Leader" in contempt. Under Obama, NK made a few noises, but modest concessions and displays of respect kept everything quiet.

White House visitor logs were kept completely secret until the Obama Administration. With a few exceptions for national security, family visits, etc., these logs were made open to the public. President Trump is going backwards in the area of transparency by making the logs secret again.
In the words of conservatives "If you didn't have anything to hide..."

So, did the First Family manage to pull off an Easter Egg Roll without excessive embarrassment? Yeah, they just sort of squeaked over the top. Nothing TOO embarrassing happened.

I've long been sentimentally in favor of the Kurds, even though I've always recognized that, their being submerged in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria meant an alliance was always implausible. I would take very seriously the warning from a Kuedish leader here that we should not overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Nation: "House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked"

“It is my firm belief that the EAC has outlived its usefulness and purpose,” said Committee chair Gregg Harper (R-MS).

Em, seems to me that the Supreme Court felt the same way about sections of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and were proven very, very wrong.

Yeah, first off, it's really quite insulting to start off by calling Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) "Pocahontas," as it's an insult that's not grounded in any facts at all. Second, the Obama Administration made about as much progress against al Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS as could reasonably be expected of it. The current administration may desire to send in more than a few thousand troops, but I don't think Americans generally desire to go to war over there. It's one thing for elderly people to say "Send the troops," it's quite another for younger people to actually put on uniforms, pick up guns and go there.

Lefties spanked Fareed Zakaria for this yesterday, but it really is a widespread problem. Pundits showed far more enthusiasm for bombing then they should have. A more sober and rational and questioning punditry would serve America far better.

Yeah, it's kind of ludicrous for the NY Times to be running an ad at Daily Kos that reads "The truth matters now more than ever" while, at the same time, hiring Bret Stephens, who 

has repeatedly dismissed as "imaginary" the climate reality reported on every week by the Times’ own journalists.

Huh! Well, that's good. I guess. Apparently NK wanted to shoot a missile at our Naval Task Force that was steaming their way, but their attempt failed.

[Warning - autoplay. I just turned the sound off] Fascinating how the pictures of the black hole's event horizon was taken. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until early 2018 for it to fully come out.

Demos looks at a whole series of questions as to why Trump won and Clinton lost. Supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders keep saying "If only Bernie had been the nominee instead of Hillary..." but this piece casts a lot of doubt on that.

National Enquirer makes no secret of being a pro-Trump rag. CEO David Pecker is a long-time friend of the President. Dick Morris, first a consultant for Bill Clinton, then a right-wing pundit with Fox News, is the Enquirer's Political Director. His predictions were noted for being wildly inaccurate. More from ThinkProgreee.

Here's the rundown on the fellow who has added "women's issues" to his portfolio:

The 31-year-old adviser and speechwriter honed his anti-immigration bonafides as the communications director for Alabama senator-turned-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He wrote both Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, which was criticized as overly dark and apocalyptic, and his inauguration address, in which the President heralded the end of an era of “American carnage.” Miller was also behind the first failed effort to impose a travel ban on residents of seven majority-Muslim countries.

No question the sarin gas attack took place, but that's about all that can be proven. It's far from clear that the container was even dropped from a plane. Is there any proof that the Syrian government of Assad is responsible? The Trump Administration doesn't supply any such proof.
Update: NY Times says sarin gas was indeed deployed by Syria.
Further update: Consortium News says Times is wrong.

Yeah, I'm pretty baffled why we have an Attorney General who puts out nutty statements like this “I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use, but too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable.."
Erm, marijuana has never killed anybody. It's a drug that may have subtle medical effects, but after decades of studies, it's not clear why our AG is so excitable about it.
Are there other issues he could be working on? Well, yeah!

If, after four election cycles (2010-2016), Republicans now find themselves with only bad options on the ACA/Obamacare vs AHCA/Trumpcare, they really have no one to blame but themselves. They can't repeal the ACA as that will throw around 30 million people off of their plans, they can't replace it with the AHCA as that's a flea-bitten dog of a plan, they've gotten their voters all riled up for complete repeal and the insurance companies can't put up with delay.

California has put out a study of its charter schools. No question, the schools are a great deal for investors. For anyone else? Ehh, no.

Major problem with NY Times being "the answer to fake news" is that they've now hired a climate science denier. Kinda like the old problem of saying on their editorial page that invading Iraq was a bad idea while featuring Judith Miller's hysterical stuff on their front page. Further details.

TPM: "The United States may launch a preemptive strike using conventional weapons if North Korea moves toward a nuclear weapons test."
Sounds like a really, really bad idea! North Korea (And Iran, BTW) is a mountainous country, meaning it's easy to hide and protect nuclear weapons. It's very highly unlikely we could get them before North Korea gets off a few rockets to nearby countries.
Both Clinton and Obama preferred the flattery/bribery route. G.W. Bush tried the belligerence route and North Korea made big strides in their nuclear program during the Bush Administration.

No sign that there's actually life on Saturn's moon Enceladus, but all of the necessary building blocks are there.

Ivanka Trump has had meetings with Cecile Richards the head of Planned Parenthood, but her daddy's adinistration keeps making policies that are opposed to PP. Sounds like it's a complete waste of time for anybody to meet with ivanka. 

Interesting! It's long been obvious that big money was opposed to environmental regulations, but this piece makes the case that nationalism is also opposed to it. Nationalists prefer to believe that nothing is connected and that actions in Country A don't affect life in Country B. 

Well,the idea was to publicly shame "Sanctuary Cities" by publishing detailed reports on what they were doing. Oops! The government reports were so filled with errors that they essentially said "Erm, uh, never mind."

Is there solid evidence that Syria used Sarin gas on Syrian civilians? White House says yes, but that evidence is secret for now. Most interesting. If we have solid evidence, why not release it? 

Congressperson Tulsi Gabbard adds a further note of skepticism as to whether Assad deployed chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.

Daily Kos: "Classified docs show Susan Rice's actions were 'normal and appropriate'—Nunes and Trump lied."
This is what we call a "nothingburger," an event that's made out to be a big thing by people hysterically screaming about how important it all is and then, when other people calmly examine it, turns out to have been about not much at all.

Patheos: "Why Isn’t the Media Pointing Out That the San Bernardino Shooter Was an Outspoken Christian?"
Problem is, when an "outspken Chrisitan" commits an atrocity, that doesn't fir the "narrative" that the news source is trying to convey. But it's the job of reporters to tell us what happened. If the story fits into a narrative, fine. But if it doesn't, and it frequently doesn't, toss the narrative aside and just report the facts!

Nah, the fight in Syria isn't over oil. It's about old-fashioned spheres of influence. This is as basic and standard as it gets.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer makes the rather amazing claim that Hitler was better than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because der Fuhrer didn't use chemical weapons. It is true that Hitler didn't use chemical wapons on the battlefield, but yes, he most certainly used chemical to kill people. A PR disaster ensued.

White House: "We're going to cancel Sesame Street."
Easter Egg Roll comes up. White House needs Sesame Street characters.
White House: "Oh, wait a sec..." 
Sesame Street contributed one character.

I believe there are two kinds of lefties. One kind says both the Republicans and Democrats are essentially alike and basically indistinguishable. The other says yes, they're a lot alike, but there are important distinctions between the two. This somewhat lengthy piece is a very good explanation of the second point of view.

Yeah, the hypocrisy goes all the way down. In 2013, only 22% of Republicans approved of the proposed bombing of Syria. Now, 86% approve of actual bombing. What's the meaningful policy difference between 2013 and today? Other than the fact we had a Democrat in the White House then and a Republican now?

Trump Administration people start to worry about the 100-day mark, by which time Presidents usually have significant accomplishments they can brag about.

A flight was overbooked, but the normal number of people didn't show up, but the airline needed to get four employees to another point. Peopl were offered incentives, but had to be compelled to give up their setas. One fellow was a doctor and absolutely had to be on that flight. The airline had him dragged off the flight. Social media was, quite properly, outraged
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel offers up a bit of explanaton but otherwise joins the bashing of United. CEO of United puts out a very poor explanation/apology.
Update: NY Times disgraced itself by permitting Ross Douthat to make a really stupid comment on the incident.

A while ago, Obama was asked why he didn't invade Syria. His answer is well worth being familiar with in light of trump's recent bombing there.

Oh great!!! This is the sort of sterling, marvelous, far-sighted leadership our country has now:

That’s why White House officials are taking out their frustration on House leaders, urging them to pass something—anything...

Yeah, great way to handle such a large and important sector of the economy!

Yeah, it's an interesting notion that cutting taxes is a sure-fire way to improve the economy, but the evidence since Reagan tried it is that making the rich richer by letting keep more money as opposed to paying it in taxes, it really doesn't do anything but make the rich richer.

Tch, tch, tch! Chinese President Xi Jinping visited President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, but as soon as the Chinese President was safely back home, Chinese state media criticized Trump.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks a great game in sketching out a regime change plan for Syria. Problem is that Obama already tried it. Obama's military identified 60 "moderate rebels," by July 2015. The group was decimated very quickly in its first battle. .

It's a pity that CNN host Jake Tapper isn't able to really follow up and question his guests more closely or to correct flagrat falsehoods. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gaves a reasonable good response to a question about Syrian refugees, but she seriously misrepresented the vetting process, which is really quite thorough. It lasts well over a year. 

Fareed Zakaria says "Trump Became President" when he ordered Syrian airstrike. 

*Sigh* Look, when you're Richard the Lion-Hearted and go off to where the battle is yourself or you're John Paul Jones and you make a brave statement with cannonballs whizzing past your ears ("I have not yet begun to fight!"), that's one thing. That's brave and dashing and heroic. Sitting in the Oval Office and giving orders to people half a world away is the result of political calculation. Whether one approves of the action or not, the elder George Bush didn't demonstrate any macho courage by saying to get Manuel Noriega and Barack Obama didn't demonstrate any moral courage by launching drone strikes. They both made calculations and then issued orders from the safety of the White House.

Back during the early 2010's, Obama was constantly advised and admonished to try and make more personal contact with the opposition party. He was told to schmooze and hang out more. But the relationship between Ivanka Trump and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood demonstrate the very real limits of personal contact without political progress.

Rather disturbing to see people jumping to commend Trump for airstrike. But yes, there's a name for it. It's called the "rally 'round the flag" effect. 

In the past few months, we've seen a lot of comments about "fake news." Usually, the NY Times is identified as a reliable source of "real news." Bit of a problem with that is that the Times sometimes gets carried away and credits whatever the current presidential administration is with far more honesty than it deserves.

Uuh...what!?!? George W. Bush should be commended for anything having to do with Iraq? According to Business Insider, Iraq is number 11 of 25 failed states. Before the occupation of 2003-2011, Iraq had 24 hour a day electricity. In 2008, it still hadn't recovered to 2002 levels.

Heh! Comparison of Sean Hannity statements "then and now", from proposed 2013 strike and many others today. Trump's own statement from October 2013. And here are 10 Republicans who hated the proposed 2013 strike, but love Trump's strike. 

US blasts Syrian airstrip with cruise missiles. Not concerned about the welfare of ISIS, moderately concerned about the fate of Iranian troops, Very concerned about accidentally hitting any Russian troops! Sounds like the US took great care on that front, though. Is this a one-time thing? Sounds like it. Hope it is as I don't want to see us dragged into it.

Rather interesting that the President didn't get Congressional approval before the strike. Especially given that many Congresspeople wholeheartedly approved.

Ah well. Sad to see the filibuster deminished like this, but it wouls have been sadder to have seen Democrats cave. "Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, Mitch McConnell kills the Supreme Court filibuster for Donald Trump"  

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) takes an allegedly principled stand on the filibster for Suipreme Court nominees. But the time to take such a stand is before the principle is discarded, not afterwards, saying "We won't do that again." 

Very cool! Global mining industry is embracing renewable energy!

It's sinking in to people that the ACA repeal crusade cannot be revived. In fact, it would be far better for the GOP to allow ACA repeal to sink out of sight as taking away millions of health care plans would be a political disaster to the Republican Party.
The real sticking point here is that there's a faction that wants repeal and a faction that wants to improve the ACA. There is no common ground to build on.

The CFPB has done an enormous amount of good for consumers. For the big boyz of finance, not so much. As the piece concludes: "The CFPB isn’t being targeted because it has failed. It has been targeted because it is succeeding. It must be defended at all costs."

Piece makes a number of excellent points about why comedians are doing a better job of reporting on the Trump Administration than most news shows are.
I was especially struck by the section on the endless media debates on whether President Trump was wire-tapped. Comedians made very short work of this and moved on. The regular news shows debated this and debated it and debated it. Reminds me of the second complaint I make in this piece (Conan the Barbarian and his warrior-lover Belit) where an authors are clearly just trying to pad the story. 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wants to block-grant Medicaid and to then reduce the amount it gives to states every year so that states depend more on their own resources. Problem that's pointed out here is "How do we then handle epidemics/ pandemics such as Zika?"

You know what's sad about this talk by President Trump? I mean, I get it. I understand that getting elected President is a big deal. I totally get that, I understand that. But five months after a victory that was aided by FBI Director Comey's last-minute "discovery" of Hillary Clinton emails, a campaign in which the media focussed obsessively on the Clinton Foundation's possible conflicts of interest (and ignoring four years during which she demonstrated she could keep Foundation business separate from her job as SoS) while ignoring Trump's many, many serious potential conflicts of interest, a campaign where major media outlets gave Trump hundreds of hours of free advertising...
The sad part is that getting elected President remains Trump's biggest achievement to date.

US Pacific Command detects North Korean missile launch.

Trump donates a paycheck of his ($77K) to the Park Rangers. Pretty cool, but he's also cutting the Park Ranger budget by $1.5 billion. Park Ranger receiving paycheck is obviously less than thrilled.

Subordinates of the President have filled out financial disclosures. How useful and informative are they? As the old saying goes "the fish rots from the head." When the guy in charge doesn't disclose his taxes and retains control of his businesses, his people are going to do the same. So the disclosures are pretty worthless.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gets the Supreme Court nomination fight backwards. The loss of comity and bipartisanship occurred about a year ago when Republican Senators unilaterally and arbitrarily decided they weren't going to permit Judge Merrick Garland even a hearing.
Graham: “We’re not going to have a rule, a tradition in the Senate where they get their judges and President Trump can’t get his.”
But Democrats didn't get their judge!!! We got robbed!!!

Strong possibility of being another Benghazi-style nothingburger, but National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested several names from national security reports.

Update: Yeah, just as we suspected.

"Hey, why don't we move [any program] out of the federal government and give it back to the states?" So goes the conservative mantra. Well, this is what happens when programs get moved to the states. Block grants get stolen and moved into other programs.

Good on Chris Wallace of Fox News (!) for pushing back on EPA head Scott Pruitts global warming denial.
A problem I have with Pruitt's logic of course is 1. carbon in the atmosphere contributes to global warming, And 2. we don't have to be putting carbon into the atmosphere, there are alternative forms of energy that don't emit carbon at all. So why are Pruitt/Trump settling for policies like "clean coal" when we don't have to be using coal in the first place?

From Crooks and Liars:

"Rep. Jordan: We'll Work With Democrats... If They'll Tank Obamacare." 

So, if Democrats cooperate to take down their own plan...uh, right. Yeah, that's never going to happen!
But this also highlights that President Trump can either work with Representative Jordan and his buddies in the Freedom Caucus or he can work with Democrats. Working with Democrats means going back on pretty much all of his policies so far.

From Raw Story:

“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” the president said. “That is all I am telling you.”

Now, to me, when a President says he's got a secret plan, that tells me that he's got a hazy notion that hasn't been examined or vetted or worked out in any detail. What it does not tell me is that he's got a sure-fire, can't-miss scheme.

Is FBI Director Comey doing good now? Sure.
Can he ever be forgiven for interfering the the 2016 election? Oh, HELL no!

Judge okays lawsuit against President concerning violence at campaign rallies. Fne by me! I thought at the time that Trump was putting himself very explicitly on the side of the people who were being violent towards protesters at his speeches.

Good to see the media recognizing that the ACA/Obamacare is not in any sort of trouble from "death spirals," etc.

So what has Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) been up to lately as head of the House Oversight Committee? Eh, basically sitting back and relaxing and snoring and just being about as useful as the "g" in lasagna.

March                        back to top

Okay, so House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) tells us that the FBI "incidentally collected information" on members of the Trump transition team. That means they were surveiling someone suspected to be a foreign agent and a member of Trump's team spoke to that person and the FBI caught that conversation on their surveillance.
I'm concerned that Nunes did not tell Democrats on the Intelligence Committee before he went scrambling off to tell the Whit House and a press conference. That's very highly irregular.

The ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee was less than pleased with the Chairman's actions.

The House is due to vote on the AHCA/Trumpcare tomorrow, well before the CBO has had a chance to score it. Why are Representatives in such a rush? That's easy, support for the bill is sinking like a rock. Speaker Ryan is trying to jam this through before even Republican voters learn too much about the bill.

This is a state-level win, not a national win. The State Assembly Speaker said: "No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment."
Okay, but the court said that if unions are going to be required to provide services to workers for free, that amounts to taking resources from the unions without compensation. Good decision!

Is it "part of being President" to go scampering off to play golf every frikkin' weekend?!?!?! The hypocrisy here is absolutely staggering. This is a president who railed and complained and carried on about Obama's much more modest and restrained schedule and who is viciously and without restraint slicing away at government programs that serve the needs of regular citizens. The ACA/Obamacare being tossed out in favor of the AHCA/Trumpcare, a very inferior substitute, is just the latest and most egregious example.

Very interesting that neither Speaker Ryan, nor Majority Leader McConnell, nor President Trump are defending the AHCA on its alleged merits. They're all defending it on purely electoral/strategic grounds.

Gotta say, Senator Franken (D-WI) makes a pretty darned devastating case here that Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch is a deeply flawed candidate of the Judge Bork type. A man obsessed with philosophical details to the point where it clouds his vision of basic humanity.  

Texas wants to pass a bill that, essentialy, would permit doctors to lie to their patients if lying to them would prevent them from having an abortion.  This is a "fruit of a poisoned tree" policy. By definition, no policy based on lying and dishonesty can ever produce good results!

Republicans in Congress prove beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that they are utterly incapable of conducting an impartial inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. We need an independent prosecutor!

Another good reason to have an independent prosecutor. Representative. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, does not appear to be familiar with major players in the Russian collusion scandal.

So, the very good news is that carbon emissions have been flat the last three years. The even better news is that economic growth is up by 3.1%. What does that means? It means no, we don't have to sacrifice economic growth in order to prevent climate change from choking us all.

From TPM "Trump Now Says U.S. Military 'Should Never Ever Have Left' Iraq"

Which is kind of an interesting statement, considering that neither Iraqi nor American citizens wanted the US to stay in Iraq by the time Obama came into office. The right-wing Cato Institute wrote this piece in 2007. Granted, this was prior to The Surge, but it makes a lot of good points. The Surge has grown mightier in post-war mythology, but as the right-wing Washington Times points out here, The Surge was irrelevant to really getting a real and lasting victory in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  

Trump appoints a group of people to offices. In terms of their functions, they sound precisely like Soviet "political officers" or "commissars."  Their job is not to do the job, their job is to keep an eye on those who are doing the job and to make sure they stay within ideological boundaries. 

Success for the new immigration policy [/snark]!!! Almost 100 Africans who had all paid $500 to attend a conference in the US on African trade policy and had arranged travel several months in advance were ALL denied visas!

So the President is now at a 37% approval rating after not having gotten any better than 45% so far in his term. There are presidents who have dipped below 40% for short periods, but only four from Truman to the younger George Bush that were substantially below 40% for significant periods of time (Truman, Nixon, Carter and G.W. Bush).

How does Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price reconcile the two positions, that President Trump will provduce a plan that provides "insurance for everybody" with the fact that the CBO estimates the current "Trumpcare" bill will deny coverage to 24 million people? Price tells us that the plan consists of three "buckets" and that the really good plan will be here in the third bucket. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) "scoffed at that plan...'That ain't gonna happen.'"

Very interesting bit of good news. The private gun industry is doing very poorly under Trump. Paranoia was a big reason for people to stock up on guns under the Obama Administration.

A Fox News analyst made a baseless claim that British intelligence agency GCHQ spied on Trump for former President Barack Obama. The President said it wasn't his fault that he and his people repeated the claim.
Here's the problem with that. The Captain of a ship can take advice from a Seaman because good ideas can come from anywhere. But the Captain should have the ability to filter out and reject bad ideas. The President's people should have said "Interesting claim made by Fox News. Let's research that claim and determine whether it's true or not."

AG Sessions: "I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable."
Considering that a whopping grand total of zero people have died from overdosing on marijuana, no, your opposition is not merely unfashionable.

Art Laffer has never, to my knowledge, been part of the "Reality-Based Community" and he demonstrates that he's still not in that camp. He thinks the collapse of Kansas' budget was not because of ruinous tax cuts, but because the cuts weren't big enough. In reality, the failure of Kansas was that tax cuts are a non-solution.

Right-wing local columnist, with whom I'm rarely on the same page, gets it right. Muslim ban 2.0 was about the same subject the first ban was, religion and not security. It was about sweeping generalizations, not specific facts.

Okay, seen a couple of pieces over the last few months where people try to delineate the US media universe and where all of the media outlets fit into it. This is a much better study than any of them and matches my view of what our media universe is like.

Amazing that any human being can demonstrate such utter heartlessness.
"On after-school programs, [White House budget chief Mick] Mulvaney said services intended to help feed hungry students in order to improve their academic performance deserve to be cut because proof of that progress has not materialized."
Erm, exactly how does one do a cost-benefit analysis of feeding hungry children?!?!?!?! And who's likely to volunteer to be in the control group thaat doesn't get fed? 
A blogger's comment: "WHO thinks like this? And then who says this. Out loud. In public. As part of an actual planned argument?"

Someone (likely Trump himself) got Trump's 2005 tax return to Rachel Maddow. Maddow goes over the reasons that 2005 may have been a highly unusual year for Trump's taxes.

President Trump proposes ending "Meals on Wheels" for seniors.
Saves a ridiculously small amount of money? Check!
Needlessly cruel? Check!
Is Trump an outlier? Is he expressing an unusual philosophy? No, not at all. A policy decision like this is precisely what "small-government conservatives" think is good policy.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was asked about cooperating with Republicans on AHCA. She has a carefully nuanced response that's well worth reading in full.

Interesting. Israel is accused of the "crime of apartheid." Had no idea there was such a thing. 

Travel ban 2.0 blocked by court right in the nick of time. Ban has same legal problems as version 1.0 did. It discriminates against arrivals based not on actions, but on country of origin. 

Heh! So we've got President Trump partisans blaming Speaker Ryan for the AHCA/Trumpcare PR disaster, then we have Ryan hit back by saying Trump's people helped to write the AHCA!

A really aggressive crackdown on unauthorized immigrants has the entirely predictable result of discouraging women from going to hospitals to give birth

Tweet from Fox News. Very, very interesting! T-shirts with slogans like “Journalism Matters,” “Speaking truth to power since 1847” and “Democracy dies in darkness” are “anti-Trump rhetoric” and “media bias on display.” ZOMG!

Baker with strong Christian beliefs refuses to bake cake for gay couple. Pays $135K. Do I have any sympathy for them? Nah. Proper customer service means you don't go getting all fussy and particular about the moral qualifications of you customers. The shop owners should have simply made the cake, said a series of "Hail Marys" or whatever form of religious penance was needed and then, to avoid further trouble, should have folded up shop.

Can we please now toss out the notion that Speaker Paul Ryan is some sort of policy wonk?
This rolling back of the ACA/Obamacare was his supreme "put up or shut up" moment and he failed that, spectacularly!

Back during the early 1800s, "states rights" was used as a proxy for being pro-slavery. Representative Joe Barton has updated it only in the sense that "states rights" are now being used against women.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney wildly misstates the process used to pass the ACA/Obamacare. His claim that no one was able to read the bill is false. A few months before It was passed, I read a conservative blog post where a conservative went through all of the things he objected to in the ACA bill, citing each page that contained what he objected to. This put the lie to all of the Republicans who were running around with great piles of paper, "dramatizing" how huge and unreadable the bill was. Of course people could read it and many did.

Title of piece is NSFW, but seriously, the former NC Governor who championed the "bathroom bill" is upset because people now think he's a bigot!

CBO report on the effects of passing the TrumpCare bill. Massive numbers of people would lose coverage. 
Extra: Speaker Ryan "shines that turd,"

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price doesn't appear to be describing any proposal that actually exists in reality when he describes the proposed replacement for the ACA/Obamacare. Price describes a system that sounds really good, but that doesn't appear to resemble the AHCA that the Congress has proposed

First question: Does the president have the right to dismiss some or all of the State Attorney Generals (SAGs) upon entering office? Yes.
Does he have the right to do so for any reason after that first wave? No, that's what tripped up Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. AGAG, with G.W. Bush's obvious approval, fired people for blatantly political reasons. Once you get your first overall replacements, you're supposed to leave SAGs in place unless there is clear misconduct on their part.
It's okay for President Trump and AG Sessions to do a mass replacement at this time (though as this piece points out, it's being done in a massively incompetent manner), but any replacements done for any reasons of "disloyalty" or "not being with the program" are contrary to the intention of having SAGs.

For US troops to help in fighting Daesh/ISIS in Iraq has never been a big problem to me. For them to fight in Syria has always been more of a concern as Russia has a very serious investment in keeping Bashar Assad in power. I support the Kurds and the US military is putting its weight behind them, so that's good. But Turkey doesn't like the Kurds, so the US may end up dumping them and betraying them anyway.Yeah, I'd say if Assad is now calling for US troops to stay out of Syria, we'd be better off reducing our involvement.

Very interesting that Representative King thinks six months is a reasonable time to examine a bill before passing it, a position that's in no way consistent with what the Congress is trying to do now. Couple of other interesting statements reveal that King neither knows or cares much about the impact repeal of the ACA will have on his constituents.

Before President Trump was inaugurated, the job numbers were fake. even thogh they're now very similar (Feb16 - 242k jobs, Feb 17 - 235k jobs) and now theyve become real. This is a perfect example of what's called "gaslighting." We're supposed to believe that nothing is true unless we're told it's true. The evidence of our own eyes and ears means nothing. We should be completely dependent on what we're told.

I like Professor Krugman's idea here! Instead of referring to the Republican health care replacement bill as Obamacare 2.0, it's a lot more accurate to refer to it as Obamacare 0.5.
It's a replacement that accepts many of the premises of the ACA/Obamacare, but it's a really cheap and shoddy imitation.

Heh! In February 2016, we added 242,000 jobs. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said it was "disappointing to see so little growth."
In February 2017, we added 235,000 jobs. What does Brady have to say now? "our economy is moving in the right direction."

400 more troops go to Syria. Erm, extremely important question: What exactly is their mission?

CBO has not weighed in yet on TrumpCare (Yep, President is now all-in on backing it), but Brookings Institute has and they figure that only a quarter of the people who got insurance under Obama would keep it and premiums would rise by 20%.

So is there an upside to the report on CIA hacking? Yes. Regular citizens can protect their communications and the report tells us how. 
Is the whole CIA hacking report designed to make us think that the Russians are being framed? That the Russians didn't actually hack the DNC's email servers?  Yeah, looks like it.

GOPCare is massively unpopular. Why is that? Well, "Liberal censors" had nothing to do with it. Problem is that conservatives didn't run on the idea that health care isn't the job of the federal government because the idea of leaving it all up to free enterprise is a massively unpopular one! But while they can't say that, they actually believe that, so they're stuck. 

Very encouraging to see that, while Speaker Ryan is in a great, tearing hurry to ram the Republican ACA replacement bill through as quickly as possible, some Senators who actually, y'know, listen to their constituents, are saying to slow down and hold off.

So the other part of the Russian hacking equation is: "Does Putin have a grudge against Hillary Clinton?" Turns out, and the Russian dossier that surfaced a few months ago confirms this, yes he does!

The essential problem with the official Trump Administration response to violence committed by white nationalists, the KKK and Neo-Nazis, is that there appear to be broad areas of agreement between the administration and these groups.

Kellyanne Conway doesn't seem to be really clear on whether she wants the Republican health care plan to be called "TrumpCare." I kind of agree with her on that. According to everything I've been reading, the plan is a complete cluster**** and nobody wants their name associated with it. I think the President would be smart to disavow the plan completely. Second, the GOP has been working on this since 2010, so it's easy to say "Hey, I came in late, they screwed it up without me."

Another reason to throw the House bill under the bus is that the bill:

...doesn’t cover “everybody,” doesn’t lower deductibles, doesn’t ensure that all Americans are “beautifully covered,” and doesn’t guarantee that “everybody” is “taken care of.

It would be a very good idea for Trump to distance himself from this bill.

It's pretty amazing that the Republican ACA repeal bill manages to alienate all sides of the debate.
The only meaningful measure of success for the GOPCare bill is how many people are insured. Under all of the Republican versions, millions of people will lose their coverage.

Someone argues against "white guilt" because only 1.6% of Southerners owned slaves when slavery was at its peak.
But I've seen the 1.6% claim before and am really unclear as to how this absolves the South. Southern society as a whole very much depended on slavery and very much profited from it.
Is removing Confederate monuments going to reduce black hate and discontent? Yes, obviously. If society is not openly advertising their hatred and contempt for their African-American citizens, those citizens will be less inclined to be "thugs."

The economist Paul Krugman is less than impressed with the Republican health care plan. He'll have more details tomorrow, but posts a preliminary assessment

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) concedes that the Republican health care plan may be completely inadequate and might leave millions of people out in the cold, but hey, poor people spend money on iPhones, so they could get better coverage if they just had better priorities!
Also, the GOP health care plan apparently gets rid of the individual mandate. that makes, it far from clear how the finances would work to deliver adequate coverage. Everything in the ACA is dependent on everything else. Can't just take out bits and pieces and expect it all to keep standing.

The ACLU does a thorough debunking of the idea that the Trump Administration parental leave plan is even mildly adequate.

Protest against desecration of Jewish cemetaries - 41st day of the Trump Presidency.

"House Republicans have unveiled their long-awaited ObamaCare repeal bill." 
Sounds like the really essential difference is that subsisides get cancelled, making coverage under the ACA less affordable.

And now for some comic relief, we have HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson! Y'see, some slaves, according to Carson, had dreams and ambitions and bright visions of the future! This was while, of course, they were being taken without ther consent, to America.
Movie star Samuel Jackson had some NSFW commentary on that. 
Update: Carson doubles down and refers to slaves as "involuntarty immigrants."

Very interesting! President Trump appears to be comparing his first 100 days with Obama's and finds his own coming up short.

I blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's strategy of the last eight years for that. His heels-dug-in, scorched-earth strategy was very effective for getting the GOP into positions of power, but is a very poor strategy for actually governing anything. They're having a hard time switching over.

The blog Crooks & Liars complained before about being lumped in with unreliable, irresponsible websites that were just looking for clicks and bucks. They call attention today to "identity theft," sites that name themselves deceptively close to what legitimate sites call themselves.

So the idea is that Ivanka Trump is actually a closet liberal, who secretly influences her father behind the scenes. 

..rumors began circulating that the White House was preparing an executive order that would overturn Obama-era protections of LGBTQ workers...

Pretty cool, right? Ivanka is acting behind the scenes to protect LGBTQ workers. But...

...almost a month after pledging to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, the White House rolled back federal protections for transgender students. This time, there was no word from Ivanka — not even through anonymous sources.

So yeah, Ivanka's on the side of people who need protection, until of course, they actually need protection! Then she goes silent.

Disney puts out a cartoon story (Star vs The Forces of Evil) where, after a part of the singing takes place, we pan over a group of couples kissing each other in relief. One of those couples is, horros!, two men!
Franklin Graham denouces it, speaking for a subset of Christians that's getting smaller all the time. Heh! I once was getting back to a pro-gay demonstration and passed a fellow with a really lengthy and densely-worded sign and found myself wondering "Is this guy pro-love and happiness or is he opposed to that?"
Anyway, bravo for Disney!

Most of the President's Cabinet is in place by now, but yes, the whole idea of liberals and Democrats is to gum up the works and to slow down the President's agenda. Why is that? Because the results of conservative policies that the US has been conducting since Reagan was in office (1981) have been crystal clear for quite some time. Helping the wealthy by taxing them at lower rates makes wealthy people happy, but that's all that it ever accomplishes. It never leads to anything worthwhile. "Trickle-down economics" never accomplishes anything for the non-wealthy.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has called it a “good and growing example of what can happen when you have a robust array of [school] choices.” Okay, so let's look at her idea of what constitutes a good educational choice. 

The voucher program offers different voucher amounts depending on what a student’s disability is; a child is assigned a funding level, known as a “matrix of services.” This website tells parents to go to a link to find their “child’s matrix number” for a 504 funding plan. This abstruse website is a good example of why some education experts say that vouchers work better for parents who have the time and resources to investigate how these programs work, and who can ferret out which school best serves their child’s needs.

Thinkpiece: what exactly constitutes a "good" political speech?

Just in case anyone wants a handy-dandy reference sheet, the LA Times is keeping a detailed, day-by-day run-down of everything that's happening for President Trump's first 100 days.

More immigration horror stories. This man is not a US citizen, but owns property in NYC and was denied food or contact with anyone for 14 hours, then hustled onto a flight back to Brazil!

Companies relieved of the requirement to report methane pollution. There are other greenhouse gases, but carbon and methane are the two big ones. 

There were no big policy changes and plenty of falsehoods and exaggerations in the President's speech to Congress, but some pundits were very taken by the fact that he "used his indoor voice" and stayed on-message.

There are two types of online education, public and private. Public online education is cheap, so all the student loses is time during which they could have been learning something useful. But private online education is expensive and neither the sudent nor the taxpayers makes the investment back. In neither case does the online education student really profit from the experience and employers are equally dissatisfied.

A mere 2.5 hours away from Standing Rock, where Native American Water Protectors were blocking the Dakota Access pipeline, a pipeline leaked 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek.

After the new AG Jeff Sessions admited that he met twice with the Russians during the 2016 campaign, a blogger put out this on Twitter: "PRO TIP: Next time Coretta Scott King tells you not to trust someone, believe her."

Also: here's a clip of Sessions yelling at President Bill Clinton for perjury back in 1999.

Verbalizing our outrage matters. Citizens of Arizona were infuriated that their state wanted to make protest illegal and said so, loudly! And the Arizona legislature backed down

Yes, Chris Cillizza is correct in that tone and delivery should be noted when politicians give speeches, but the whole point of having highly paid and educated reporters is to go below the surface and to tell citizens whether what the speaker says is true or whether the speech leaves out important details. Anybody can be a theater critic of political speeches.

Hmm, so let's see. On the one hand:

The contentious rule had been fought for years by farmers, ranchers, real estate developers and others, who complained it invited heavy-handed bureaucrats to burden their businesses with onerous restrictions and fines for minor violations.


Both the climate and the clean water rules were enacted only after a long and tedious process of public hearings, scientific analysis and bureaucratic review.

Yeah, I'm kind of inclined to with the clean-water folks on this. 

February                        back to top

Argggh! The stupidity! It hurts!!! *Sigh* No, Historically Black Colleges and Universities did not arise because of free enterprise competition. They arose because white colleges did not permit black students to attend them. It was not a matter of "School Choice" in a capitalist, free-enterprise, competition sort of way. Our Education Secretary doesn't appear to grasp that.

And oh yeah, remember that first foreign policy initiative of the Trump Administration, the raid in Yemen? Turned out it provided no significant intelligence.

I completely understand the President wanting to save a few relative nickels and dimes on a climate change envoy as, y'know, having such an envoy would prioritize the survival of the human race above short-term business interests. But not wanting an anti-Semitism envoy? After Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized? As a Democrat, I rejoice that he's so tone-deaf, but I'm distressed as an American citizen that our President just doesn't appear to really care.

As one of his first acts as Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III reveres DOJ support for a Voter-ID case. His reasoning? No one knows. "'We can’t make heads or tails of any factual reason for the change. There has been no new evidence that’s come to light,' Lang told the AP."

Education Secretary DeVos questions why schools should provide free lunches. Naturally. She's been wealthy all her life. She hasn't the vaguest clue of what it's like to be food-insecure.

A Twitter post:

Trump on health reform: "Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."

Good to see that our president is now aware of ... well...a blatantly obvious fact that many others have been aware of for many years. But hey! Good to see this.

Rabbi from Philadelphia speaks out on toppled Jewish gravestones.

President Trump brags about the economy on his watch. The first part of his claim ($12 bn reduction in debt) may be true. The second part (Obama had $200 bn added to debt) is definitely true, But recall that Obama took office in the middle of the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Is the media "ignoring" Trump's "great achievement?" I seriously doubt any of Trump's policies could possibly have had any serious economic impact this early in his term.  

Heh! Amazingly enough, people like clean air and water! The Congressperson has clearly never heard of the concept "race to the bottom." Obviously, if you hand off all enforcement powers to the states, states will then compete with each other to offer laxer and looser enforcement.

The cost of mass deportations shouldn't be calculated in just what it costs to round up and deport people. We should also take into account the taxes that those people are currently paying and would no longer be contributing to the Treasury. In Florida, that's $753 million, nationally that's $11.6 billion.

Muhammad Ali's son detained for two hours.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly contended that his executive order banning refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries is 'not a Muslim ban'

Well okay. But Muhammad Ali Jr. was a American citizen, had no criminal record and was arriving from Jamaica, so what then was the reason that he was detained?!?!?!

An Australian children's book author, Mem Fox,  was detained by US immigration authorties. She'll most likely never return to the US.

While I was in the Navy, I knew several sailors who were serving with me and didn't yet have their US citizenship. Because the President is acting in a highly un-American way and taking sudden, arbitrary actions without going through any sort of consultative or legislative process, this dropping of the ball, dropping of protections for the families of military members who are not yet citizens, is an entirely predictable result.

It takes more time and money and people to figure out which undocumented immigrants go back to which country. Mexico is told that it will take in all undocumented immigrants whether they're from Mexico or not. Mexico's response: "Oh, HELL no!!!"

From the piece

The [Kansas] governor [Brownback] has fiercely defended the tax cuts, arguing that they stimulated job creation while it was the decline in oil and agriculture prices—the 'rural recession,' as he calls it—that caused the budget shortfall. '[the tax cuts] worked!' Brownback told my colleague...

Governor Brownback has continued to claim that his 2011 and 2012 tax cuts boosted job creation and new business formation. But as
points out, the economic performance of Kansas has been poor and, very importantly, poor in relation to that of other states both in the immediate region and nationally.
The really ridiculous part of the story? Republicans want to bring Brownback's tax cutting strategy to the nation as a whole!

Lots of loud, agry protests at the thought of repealing the ACA/Obamacare. Good! Sounds as though the protests are having the salutary effect of weakening the determination of Republicans to repeal the ACA/Obamacare. As long as the GOP doesn't have a replacement, repeal would be an awful idea.

Currently, Russia has 7000 nuclear weapons in their "triad" (land-based, submarine based and aerial bombs) and the US has 6800. By 5 February 2018, we're both supposed to have just 800. I feel we could easily go lower, but yeah, good start. The last time I looked seriously at nuclear weapons was when I did a paper on Star Wars/NMD/Missile Defense, but I really can't see a problem with the START Treaty idea. President Trump says he wants the US to be the "top of the pack." Why? What would it accomplish? Why we'd rather spend another $1 trillion over 30 years is not at all clear.

Representative Louie Gohmert hugely exaggerates the dangers of holding a town hall meeting. He's perfectly free to set up a meeting where citizens have to be cleared through metal detectors. I've been to many such political rallies. No one minds doing it. It's also important to remember that Rep. Gabby Giffords was out in the open when she was shot. She was not in any sort of protected space.
Update: Former Rep. Gabby Giffords has absolutely no respect for Gohmert's cowardice.

Trump says words to the effect of: "Whuuh? Democracy? Will of the people? Ha, ha, ha! What are these things you speak of? No, no, if people are showing up at town halls who are not in complete agreement with us, it must be a conspiracy of some sort!"

Very sad to see the Water Protectors having to abandon their campsite, but it was pretty clear that the alternative was a massacre or at the least, severe brutality.

The Trappist-1 system is a mere 39 light-years away and that has seven planets within the habitable zone where water can exist as a liquid. If there's anywhere that's likely to host life, that system is an A1 candidate. 

Awww! The poor, tender, delicate little snowflake! Angry people chanting "Do your job!" makes Representative Chaffetz feel convinced that the citizens were all just paid protesters. Yeah, that's it, they were all just being paid by special interests!

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce appears to believe that because FLOTUS Melania Trump and First Daughter Ivanka Trump are women, they automatically should be embraced and not "dismissed and disparaged because they won't conform" to what feminists would prefer their agenda to be. Of course, feminists did not consider Sarah Palin to be worth defending, either.  .

So the Trump Administration wants to re-word their Muslim ban so that it passes judicial scrutiny. Andrew Napalitano says they're trying to make it clear that it's a "security ban" as opposed to being a Muslim ban. But it's' not just a problem of wording. It violates American law and values to discriminate against people just because they're from certain countries. Besides which, the seven identified countries have never been a source of terrorists attacking the US.

President Trump claims that he's been very energetic in denouncing anti-Semitism. Actually, he's been very slow to react to the surge of anti-Semitic incidents and threats that started after he was sworn in.

And an important reminder: the problem isn't just the President. It's his whole party.

Yeah, Representative Steve Womack is upset that liberal voters want to "investigate everybody" in the Trump Administration. Says a guy from the party that investigated Benghazi NINE frickin' times!!!

The Water Protectors of North Dakota who are standing in the way of the Dakota Access pipeline have been given until today to move out of the way. Check this site to get their side of what happens.

Generally, I don't begrudge presidents their downtime. I thought G.W .Bush took way too many vacations for someone who got us into an occupation of Iraq and then had no idea what to do once the guerilla war began in earnest, I had no problems with Clinton or Obama. Only problem I have with President Trump takings lots of vacation time is the stunning hypocrisy of it. Trump complained mightily about Obama's vacation time and especially of Obama playing golf. So now Trump has spent the last three weekends taking vacations and playing golf!

FLOTUS Melania Trump appears with BlackForTrump2020, a group that's "far out and I hope they stay there"! (Quote is from Banana Splits)

A major campaign promise was to have a plan to defeat Daesh/ISIS within 30 days of the President's inauguration. Oops! But, to use a World War II analogy (My detailed comment is here) we're in late 1944 right now, well after the battles of Kursk, Guadalcanal and Normandy. Best plan now is to just keep on with the same plan.

This is very, VERY excellent news! Back in 2012, Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) decided to massively cut taxes, expecting prosperity to flood in. That didn't happen and citizens of Kansas have finally said "Enough, already!"

It's good that the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to clean up Superfund toxic waste sites. Now, the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate excess carbon as pollution. For some reason, Pruitt wants to re-open the question to presumably open the way to put still more carbon into the atmosphere.

Good! Court rules that doctors can indeed discuss guns with their patients. Guns are indeed a faimly safety issue.

Okay, so the proposed Republican alternative the the ACA/Obamacare is unveiled at last and it's meaner and stingier than the ACA in important respects.

Piece purports to identify sources of "real news," but essentially, it just names the big, established brands. There have been quite a few specific problems with the first three brands named (NYT, WSJ, WaPo). Readers would be better off examining each piece they read separately as opposed to saying "This brand s generally more reliable than that brand." Just the other day, a conservative complained that Media Matters was "hardly a reliable source," but couldn't cite any reason to not take its reporting seriously.

In defending his executive order on deporting long-time resident undocumented immigrants, President Trump "...tied crime rates in various cities across the country to 'transnational criminal cartels.'”
Okay, but who's getting busted and deported?

Following Donald Trump’s executive order expanding the power of immigration authorities, those affected have included a married mom of two, an individual protected by DACA, and a victim of domestic violence who was in court seeking a protective order. Now ICE has moved on to target people seeking safety from deadly weather.

Oklahoma just passed a law to "bring the father into the conversation" of whether or not a woman can have an abortion. "My bill would stop an abortion if a father does not agree to the abortion..."
The problem with that concept is that pregnancy/abortion is an all or nothing choice. 49% of the decision is effectively 0% of the decision, 51% is effectively 100%. There's no practical, meaningful way any two people can both have 50% of the decision.
My vote of course is that the woman must have 100% of the decision.

This is one of those "Yeah, yeah, we've known that for years" things, but it's good to get proof from social scientists that yes, strict Voter ID laws do more to suppress votes from people who are likely to vote Democratic than anything else.

President Trump asked a reporter to get him in touch with the Black Caucus (bcause, y'know, she was black and all black know each other). D'on! Seems the Black Caucus tried to get in touch with him several weeks ago!  Their Tweet: 

Hi, @realDonaldTrump. We’re the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad!

Wow! I truly and seriously do not believe the President knew of the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus before this. It really and truly sounded as if he was hearing of them for the first time.

One of the items Trump complained about today was inheriting a lousy economy from Obama. Actually, although it still has many long-term problems, Obama handed over a reasonably healthy economy

Hmm. Okay. President Trump complains about getting an "unfair question." He is not himself, personally, anti-Semitic. He's not personally opposed to the Jewish people as a group. Sure. Okay. But there has been a rise in Antisemitism. There have been violent and insulting acts since late January of this year. People with Nazi beliefs have felt empowered and energized by the Trump Administration. Yes, it's an entirely fair and proper question nd he didn't answer it at all.

Saudis are being smart and looking to the future. They know that oil prices will crash in the early 2020s, so they're trying to diversify while they have the cash to do it.

On Monday evening the Freedom Caucus made the risky decision to return to pushing the 2015 repeal bill, arguing that it’s already proven it can win majorities in both chambers and clear the Senate’s parliamentary hurdles.

But there's a very important, very critical distinction between 2015 and today. In 2015, President Obama's veto pen was the assurance that the 2015 vote to repeal the ACA/Obamacare was a 'free' vote, one that wouldn't have any consequences. Today, there's nothing to prevent a repeal bill from becoming law and a total of 30 million people who didn't have health insurance before 2014 would all lose their plans..

In order to justify their immigration ban, the Trump Administration produces a list of terrorist suspects. Some of the examples are legitimate, but there's quite a bit of list-padding here as it includes quite a few suspects whose crimes have nothing to do with terrorism. Kind of interesting that they came up with the number 72 as "72 virgins" is a popular reward for engaging in holy war.
BTW, the US has settled over three quarters of a million refugees, including nearly 280,000 Muslims, since 9/11.

Huh! Very interesting. Somehow, Fox News has no problem posting a celebratory tweet about Joy Villa being a supporter of President Trump, but Katy Perry is somehow violating some sort of norm by speaking out in opposition.

"A proposed Tennessee bill aims to label children born through artificial insemination illegitimate."

This is why, when people say they're "pro-life,"* I have to wonder exactly what they mean by that term. Why do they seek to create divisions and hate and discontent and completely unnecessary aggravation?

*The Twitter feed of the Repesentative who proposed the bill does not feature any anti-choice statements by her, but has numerous such statements by others. 

Update: Ah, here we go. The purpose of the proposal is to discriminate against same-sex couples. 

White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns, "making him one of the shortest-serving senior presidential advisers in modern history."

Senior presidential advisor Stephen Miller says

"President Trump has done more in three weeks than most other presidents did in their entire administrations." 

Wow! Fascist, heel-clicking henchman much? To be clear, President Trump's "accomplishments" in his first 25 days has been to put out an executive order that that courts have demolished and launched an operation in Yemen that was a complete disaster.

The Morning Joe crowd is utterly astonished and rightly so!

Wow! What an incredibly vicious, cold-hearted SOB Congressman Sensenbrenner is! I can understand that Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has been voting to repeal the ACA/Obamacare for years. I can also understand that if the ACA isn't repealed in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, it probably never will be. But repealing it without a replacement will leave 30 million American citizens without the healthcare they've just gained in the last few years. Congress is nowhere near agreeing on even a basic design for a new plan. Sensenbrenner seems sorta, kinda, vaguely aware of the dilemma, but he's right now more concerned with just plain shutting down the critics than he is with resolving the dilemma.

10-year old asks a pretty basic, straightforward question: "Do you believe in science?" after describing threats to our air and water. In a sad day for our nation, a Republican Representative fails to convince his audience that, yes, he believes in science. Very sad!

Okay, so our President tweets that: "Our legal system is broken! "77% of refugees allowed into U.S. since travel reprieve hail from seven suspect countries." (WT) SO DANGEROUS!"
Problem: The Trump Administration has utterly and completely failed to prove that there's anything dangerous about people arriving from the seven countries in question. That's the problem with the immigration order. We're not just talking about a few passages that could be worded better.

The Election Assistance Commission is the only federal agency specifically tasked with seeing to it that elections are kept honest, so why is Congress trying to eliminate it?!??!
Fortunately, the GOP is not in lockstep and there are plenty of state secretaries of state who would like to keep the agency.

Oh, okay. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is now the face of the Democrats? Works for me!
Of course, President Trump's continued use of a derogatory term for Native Americans doesn't bode well for the Standing Rock Sioux, who are defending their section of the Missouri River.

President Trump finds hiw work challenging. Seems pretty overwhelmed by it all. I don't find this at all surprising. G.W. Bush claimed that he'd find good people to advise him to make up for his lack of policy knowledge. Problem is, when you lack policy knowledge, you also lack the judgment necessary to pick good people.Obama did deep dives into policy details. He knew that good policies take massive efforts and years to construct. Trump's immigration executive order and the military raid in Yemen were complete cluster****s because they were hurried, slapdash affairs.

EVEN Representative Jason Chaffetz (Who's been sitting around, not wanting to investigate the Trump Administration) had to finally decided to get off of his butt to do, y'know, HIS JOB as the head of the House Oversight Committee and to call out a member of his own party on a really, REALLY blatant violation (Krllyanne Conway's televised plea in front of the White Hose briefing room to buy Ivanka's stuff).

Trump Administration says they want social media passwords from people enering the country. 
First off, we've brought in over 3/4ths of a million refugees since 9/11 and have had fewer than a half-dozen incidents from them. The Trump Administration is trying to fix what isn't broken.
I can understand wanting to see social media accounts. I can understand why you'd want to identify those. Not sure why we need to collect passwords. That sounds to me like an unnecessarily intrusive measure.

Several people have posted a graphic showing the profile of right and left news sites to be absolutely symmetrical. These diagrams make it look as though the far left is just as bad and unbelievable as the far right. Media Matters has never pretended to be a middle-of-the-road source, but they draw some important distinctions between the two sides here.

My photoessay as of the 15th day of the Trump Presidency.

A generally negative piece on the clusterf*** of a raid in Yemen, but I'd like to call attention to this paragraph: "And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to be present as the body of the American commando killed in the raid was returned home."
This is something that G.W. Bush avoided doing, so I commend President Trump for doing it. .

Very happy to see the effort to repeal the ACA/Obamacare is losing steam. The GOP is now facing the problem of: 

But now Republicans are learning the difference between posturing against a law, and cherry-picking its downsides, and actually having to endorse an alternative position. When you have to pick winners and losers, not just complain about the losers in the other party’s law, you make people mad.

Jill Stein of the Green Party blasts Democrats for the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But it's difficult to see what Democrats could have done since the election to have been more effective then they were. All 48 democratic Senators voted against DeVos.

President Trump sets up a "listening session" for veterans. The very small guest list doesn't include any veteran's organizations advocates.

SMDH! (Shakin' My Damn Head) Senator Warren quoted a letter by Coretta Scott King written in 1986 that opposed the confirmation of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for a judgeship. Warren was silenced by Majority Leader McConnell in a very low point for the US Senate that will live in infamy for a long time. .

From TalkingPointsMemo:

Melania Trump’s lawyers alleged in a lawsuit filed Monday that the First Lady’s “unique once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to profit from her White House role was damaged by a Daily Mail article claiming she once worked as an escort.

Not clear from the piece whether she was supposed to start profiting immediately or after her husband left office.

I think President Trump's problem with media reporting on terrorism is that they restrict themselves to reporting real events that have actually occurred. Fake stories like the "Bowling Green Massacre" are described accurately as fake stories.

Liberals like myself were having great fun over Kellyanne Conway's "Bowling Green Massacre" comment. Conway claims she just made a slip of the tongue.Problem with that theory is that she had also added that President Obama had instituted a travel ban "because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills..."
Nope. That story includes a completely made-up detail. The two idiots who tried to send rocket launchers through the mail never left the US.

Back after John Boehner took over from Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, Boehner was caught by surprise a number of times by how his own caucus wanted to vote on measures. Pelosi had never been caught by surprise and always knew how her caucus felt about everything. I just can't imagine President Obama signing an EO (Executive Order) without being 100% aware of what it said and meant.

Well, uh...yeah! When your team bypasses a whole series of, y'know, checks and balances and just runs ahead and puts something into place, then yes, that means there's going to be chaos.

Good to see that at least a few Republicans got a bit upset over President Trump's remarks that suggest killing political opponents is no big deal.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell takes a good position on President Trump's wild, hysterical voter fraud claims.  Basically, voter fraud is a state problem (The federal government already investigated those claims 2002-05).

Very, very bad news from Japan. "A single dose of one sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea; 5 sieverts would kill half those exposed to it within a month, and a single dose of 10 sieverts would prove fatal within weeks."
Fukushima reactor #2 is putting out 530 sieverts. Fukushina was wrecked by a combination earthquake/tsunami back in 2011.

Interesting that the somewhat conservative Economist and the left-leaning Daily Kos would come to the exact same conclusion, that President Trump is a chaos agent. The chaos we've seen for the past two weeks is not accidental. It's part of Trump's very deliberate, very thought-out strategy.

The jobs report is a very good one. President Trump very suddenly declares that the job numbers are wonderful. Of course, as Blitzer says, he had a very different view on those same numbers when the other president was in charge. Thing is, steering the economy is like steering an oil tanker. You've got a big ship and a small engine. Now, if you start up a big initiative, such as the 2009 stimulus , then you can have a big effect right away. But modest changes take a long time to have an effect.

US Federal District Court judge halts Muslim immigration ban. Temporary, but might be made permanent later on.

WaPo headline: "Kellyanne Conway cites ‘Bowling Green massacre’ that never happened to defend travel ban." 

So either presidential spokesperson Kellyanne Conway carelessly confused the facts and spoke without a script or she was trying to gin up another Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Being a more suspicious type, I'm inclined to believe the latter, but I agree we have the strong possibility of the former being true. 

Update: Twitter users react hilariously.

Trump launches a military raid. Raid is horribly botched with leadership from White House being very poor.

So how are things doing in Ukraine? Ehh, not so hot.

A CNN producer was caught up in the new immigration order. Mohammed Tawfeeq is an Emmy-nominated CNN producer and is an Iraqi national, but has been a legal resident of the United States since 2013. This gives CNN a powerful, first-hand reason to "have a dog in that fight."

Well, we can clearly count out the House Oversight Committee as having any meaningful impact in the next several years as the fellow in charge, Representative Jason Chaffetz, just doesn't seem to have much interest in investigating the new President. Keep in mind the headline that "Rep. Chaffetz Promises ‘Years’ Of Clinton Investigations If She’s Elected" back during last October.

Newt Gingrich has a point. When Sally Yates said in a letter: "...nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful,” that was indeed a statement that came reasonably close to being a case of insubordination. But an Attorney General's job is not so just salute and do what the boss tells her to do, it's to ensure that the policies she's being told to execute are lawful.

The UN's Human Rights division, the European Union and Doctors Without Borders all weigh in on the US's immigration policy of excluding citizens from specific Islamic nations.

January                        back to top

Supreme Court nominee has been picked.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s crusade against Planned Parenthood

"So Richmond," you ask, "how can I tell whether our political leadership is leaning towards fascism or not?"
"The US Holocaust Museum put out a handy-dandy guide of 12 items to watch for."

"AP: Trump's voter fraud expert registered in 3 states." Ha, ha, ha! But actually, this brings up a good point. There's nothing really wrong with being registered in two or more states. The real problem comes if you try to vote in two or more states! If you vote in just one state and the other "account" remains inactive, no biggie.
The reason I mention this is because if a voting station has several dead people on their lists, that's not a problem until living people try to exploit those unused "accounts" to cast illegal votes with. If a dead person on the rolls doesn't actually "cast a vote," then what' the problem?

Happy to hear that Senate Democrats stood firm on the Betsy DeVos nomination to be the Secretary of Education. Very sad that Republican Senators could not take their partisan blinders off long enough to see that DeVos is utterly unqualified for the post and will do far more to damage our educational system than to help it.

Hmm, so just as with Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" of 1973, President Trump apparently had to burn through several candidates before he found someone pliable enough to give him the answer he wanted.

As Joy Reid says, this interview gives us great clarity into what anti-choicers stand for. One would think they'd approve of contraception as that would have the effect of fewer abortons, but no. 

Of concern is the statement: "That’s why we want Planned Parenthood’s money to go to health centers which don’t do contraception.”

Okay, but Federal Health Centers exist because of the ACA/Obamacare and anti-choicers are strongly against the ACA because the rest of the Republican Party is. 

Very, very interesting that the just-fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates was asked a highly relevant question by the current Attorney General nominee Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III during her confirmation hearing.

The acting Attorney General Sally Yates questions the legal basis for President Trump's Muslim ban and refuses to defend it before she gets a staisfactory explanation. She was promptly fired. Over 100 State Department employees had aleady circulated a letter opposing the ban. 

Yeah, very interesting correlations here. None of the seven majority-Muslim countries have ever sent people over to the US to commit terrorist acts. Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and the UAE have, but they're 1. not included in the Muslim ban and 2. host Trump properties

Heh! The ACLU typically pulls in about $4 million a year in online donations. They pulled in $24 million over the weekend.

Oh yeah, remember that Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, who said everything with that immigration blockage was going great? Erm, where did he get his information? Why, by watching TV, of course!

I'm sure everyone's familiar with what's called a "win-win" situation. Two people give up something of value but get what they consider to be of greater value in return. There's also what's called a "lose-lose" situation. Someone surrenders something of value but gets nothing worthwhile in return.
In this case, Kellyanne Conway describes a situation where the US surrenders its image as welcoming land of opportunity and second chances in return for  very highly dubious promises of greater security.

The White House explains why its Holocaust memorial statement did not mention Jews. It's not a very convincing explanation.

White House issues immigration ban from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. 
As though having the air travel all over the country pretty much shut down wasn't causing enough problems:
"After DHS determined Trump's immigration ban didn't apply to green card holders, Steve Bannon intervened so it would."
What's Congress' role? Ha, ha! They've acted to enable the ban.
Judge very quickly blocks the ban as it's far from clear that it serves any national security purpose.

During the 2012 campaign, there were a lot of discussions as to whether being a successful businessman would make Mitt Romney a good president. Liberals like myself concluded that no, success in one field doesn't necessarily predict success in the other. But businesspeople have a lot to teach us about management and running successful organizations. Businesspeople have looked at the Trump Administration so far and they think it looks like a poorly-run business

Christiane Amanpour has decades of experience covering foreign countries, so when she compares the US to other dictatorial countries, she knows what she's talking about.

For the purpose of moving fossil fuels, pipelines are safer than trains or trucks, but only relatively. Story is about 138,000+ gallons of diesel fuel leaking in in Iowa. A far better option is to stop using fossil fuels entirely and to switch to renewable energy.

Very interesting. Dystopian novels are making a big comeback. 1984 is selling really well. As I recall, Werewolf, Frankenstein, Dracula and the new creation Ghost Rider were really popular comic books during the Watergate era.

The former President of Mexico has said this, but now the current President of Mexico goes on the record. If the US wants to build a wall, the entire cost of it will have to come from us.

Aww! Mary Tyler Moore passes away at 80 years.

When Native Americans stood against the Dakota Access pipeline, they were standing up for the interests of all of humanity. We all lose if either of these pipelines are built! We need to do as China is doing and to go full speed ahead to renewable energy!'s Pledge of Resistece

Hmm, yeah. I can believe that Donald treats Melania poorly without believing Melania is some sort of innocent victim.

President Trump issues a gag order to prevent agencies from talking directly to Congress.

So is the Texas voter ID law discriminatory? Well, let's see...
"The seven types of government-issued identification permitted under the law as proof of identity included a driver's license, a concealed handgun license, a military ID card and a U.S. passport but not state university ID cards or identification issued to obtain welfare benefits."
Gee. I wonder why they'd exclude those last two forms of ID? Hmmmm.

Now, there are five Trump children. Donald Jr., who is 39, Ivanka is 35, Eric is 33, Tiffany (Who's kept herself out of the news) is 23 and Barron is 11. The three oldest children are entirely fair game and can take care of themselves, but an SNL writer picked on Barron and was properly scorned and criticized for doing so.

Heh! Kellyanne Conway coins a new phrase: "Alternative facts," about the crowd size at Trump's inauguration. Gotta love it!

My coverage of the Women's March in Philadelphia the day after Trump's inauguration. The reviews are in and the President's Inaugural Speech was about the darkest, most divisive, most ominous speech I've ever read from any American President. Oh yes, and that march got plenty of tsk-tsking from right-wingers. 

Preliminary report on Donald Trump's Inauguration.

*Sigh* a fond look back at our last president. What did he accomplish? Quite a bit, actually!

Having a big tent and taking in a wide variety of groups is a great idea in theory, but I have a hard time seeing how an anti-choice group counts as a feminist group. There's a limit as to how big the tent can be and still represent a coherent movement.

Okay, so the Trump team's plan is to make sharp and deep cuts to government spending. Seems I've heard that one before. Oh yeah!  Reagan tried to eliminate the office of Legal Services as well and that office is still around. Hey, whatevuh! Poor people don't need legal representation anyway! And of course they want to eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and to scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Let's just burn up the planet. Never mind that 2016 was the hottest year ever on record.

The team that President-Elect Trump has assembled for his cabinet is an extremely weak one that has to do lots and lots of OJT (On the Job Training) in order to reach minimal proficiency. Could Republican Senators and Congresspersons possibly care less? Doesn't appear so.

A horrifying sort of "Greatest Hits" of Mrs DeVos' answers. Essentially, her qualification to be the Secretary of Edcation is that shes wealthy and she's made lots of campaign Republican politicians.

Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's sentence commuted so that she will be released in May of this year as opposed to 2045.

Heh! With four days lefy until the inaugration, scalpers are losing their shirts! They thought they were making an investment by buying inauguration tickets. Oops! Very low demand means they can't sell them! 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March. Lots and lots of concern about the incoming Trump Administration.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will close after 146 years. I might possibly have seen a show, but think I was five or less. Problems with how they treated animals was a big factor.

Hey wow! Amazingly enough, when you pledge to remove 30 million people off of their health care plans (around 10 million on Medicaid and 20 million on an ACA plan), they express a bit of concern about that!

It's purely a matter of dishonest crocodile tears to weep that Democrats are asking uncomfortable questions about the legitimacy of the 2016 election. If Trump started pressing the Birther conspiracy theory at 9:00am on a workday, he finally quit doing so around 4:45pm.

Major news media are projecting a bit, I think. They're accusing Buzzfeed of putting out "fake news" by putting out the admittedly unverified Trump dossier. The dossier is a collection of accounts by Russian agents who have interacted with Trump and his people. 

So what is fake news? How about allowing proponents of trickle-down economics to get on the airwaves and promote it as a policy that creates jobs and encourages wealth building for the masses, when reality and deterministic numerical analysis prove otherwise? That’s fake news. The mainstream media lies through their acquiescence and virtual silence.

Update on the D.C. National Guard General being asked to turn over duties in the middle of the Inauguration. Good news. As of April 2017, Major General Schwartz is still in charge

Several pieces in here of note: A Tweet from Andrew Kaczynski tells us that friendly intelligence agencies are looking into the dossier on President-Elect Trump to see how much of it is true. Could the US have properly done that job itself? Well, as Joy Reid and The Hill report, FBI Director Comey appears to have waved aside accusations of Russian hacking in order to focus on Hillary Clinton's email protocols. Very seriously, Comey is accused of failing to properly inform Democratic lawmakers that the Russian hacking was taking place. Is the House Oversight Committee of any use? Vox reports, uh, no.

*Sigh*, fellow from Fox News drags out that old charge, that Senator Elizabeth Warren "the ELITE Elizabeth Warren, who had not been truthful about her ethnicity..."
When Warren was asked for demographic purposes to tell her employer what her ancestry was, she replied that she had some Native Americans in her family tree. This was something she had been told while growing up. Did she gain any material benefit with that claim? No, because her colleagues would have insisted on proof, some sort of documentary evidence, to back up her claim. There is no such evidence, so no material benefits were ever offered.

Major problem for Israel is that the Israel vs Palestine issue has become a partisan one. Republicans are still strongly pro-Israel (74%), but Democrats are considerably less so (33%).

One of my big problems with the conservative drive to take out Planned Parenthood is that PP does a lot more than just abortions. They also provide reproductive health services that other places don't. Speaker Ryan says hey, not a problem! Federal Health Centers will take up the slack. Erm, slight problem with that. The ACA/Obamacare funds Federal Health Centers and guess what both the House and Senate have been busily trying to kill for the past week?

See, here's the problem with having inexperienced people in office, people who have never held political positions of responsibility before. HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson accuses LGBTQ people of wanting "extra" rights. No, they want to be explicitly guaranteed the same rights that everybody else has.

So the Senate held a vote-a-rama last night where they defeated every single, solitary amendment in favor of beginning the process of straight-out repealing the ACA/Obamacare. So much for the earlier promise of preserving the no pre-existing conditions clause.
But liberals and Democrats can be proud because all of the Democrats stood up to oppose repealing the ACA. Every. Single. One.

Are sex scandals important in the Trump-Russian collusion/alliance? Naw, forget the sex stuff, the real scandal is highly likely to be financial in nature. BTW, interesting quote:
"In fact, big business people often seal deals at strip clubs, and sex parties in St. Petersburg were likely to be sweeteners for a business deal. Only puritan Americans would think it was the sex party that was the important thing."

Republicans in 2009, led by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, insisted on a whole list of criteria before confirmation hearings could take place. Now, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to brush those very same criteria aside for completely BS reasons. 

Senator Inhofe acknowledges the double standard that they're applying to Trump nominees and Obama's nominees, but insists it's no big deal.

Saw a posting from 2014 advocating housing the homeless before trying to do anything else for them. This update says that the program works well. The initial costs to the public are high, but quickly decline when the once-homeless are settled into housing.

GOP promises that no one will lose coverage if the ACA is repealed.This is a great promise and I totally support this, but Republicans in the House and Senate are a long way from agreeing on a plan that's both different from the ACA and that preserves those 20 million health care plans. Great promise, but I hope the promise-makers are fully aware that it will take years to develop such a plan.

Senator Jeff Session has claimed that as the US Attorney for Alabama, he "filed 20 or 30 civil rights cases." Investigations show that his record is considerably more modest than that. As a US Attorney, his name was more or less automatically placed on many civil-rights lawsuits, but participants say he had very little to actually do with them.

Good discussion on The View on Planned Parenthood and federal funding. I, of course, completely agree with Goldberg!
Also, if right-wingers want to start up organizations that do everything for women but abortions, there's nothing stopping them from doing so. Only reason that doesn't happen is that it isn't profitable. PP serves a very poor population.

Very cool! China plans to spend 2.5 trillion Yuan or $361 billion by 2020 on renewable energy!

Whoops! Sorry! Wrong answer! Mexico's not paying for a border wall after all.

Woo hoo! Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) advocated abysmally awful ideas concerning Iran, but he's 100% correct here. The ACA should not be repealed until a replacement plan is in place. How long is that likely to take? The American free enterprise system had several decades to come up with a better idea and couldn't.

Doesn't strike me as being very bright. Speaker Ryan wants to fight two battles at once, the anti-ACA/Obamacare fight and the anti-Planned Parenthood fight.
Hey, works for me! The more fronts you fight on, the greater the chance of defeat.

Wow! Woman's March in Washington DC already has 150,000 people who have signed up to take part in it!
"They’re not anti-Trump; they’re just pro-everything Trump and his followers hate / fear / despise."

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) thought she’d take the temperature of her constituents regarding the Affordable Care Act and it didn’t quite go as Blackburn planned. Turns out, people like having health insurance: The vote on her poll was 84% favorable and only 16% opposed. 

Teachers being instructed to "out" gay students to their parents?
Yeah, I think there's about a 100% chance that telling the parents of a closeted gay student that the student is gay will result in ugly consequences for the student. If a students has not voluntarily confided in his or her parents, there's probably a good reason for that.

McConnell insists that Americans will not accept Democrats blocking a SCOTUS nominee.
Let me put it this way - some Americans seem to have thought it was perfectly fair to have blocked a Democratic SCOTUS nominee for most of a year. Other Americans think a turnabout in this case is appropriate and fair.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's spokesperson says: "Surely [Senate Democrats] won't object to treating the incoming president's nominees with the same courtesy and seriousness with which the Senate acted on President Obama's nominees."
Okay. Let's take a close, detailed look at how Obamas' nominees were treated in 2009, shall we?

In one of the very first acts of the newly sworn-in House of Representatives, Republicans vote to gut their Office of Congressional Ethics. They shortly changed their minds and reinstated it after citizens complained furiously, but it was not an auspicious beginning

Turns out that PEOTUS Trump charged  $575 to attend his New Year's Eve party. Is this a reasonable cost? Sure, if you're a businessperson with a product or service to pitch to the President-Elect. If you're a regular person, no. Same goes for the proposed $70,000 coffee with Ivanka Trump or the proposed $1 million hunting trip with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. 

More on the fantasies and wishful thinking of those who want to toss out the ACA/Obamcare. Darrell Issa appears to be under the impression that tort reform alone can make the ACA unneeded. Both this piece and the NCBI agree that tort or liability reform would save, at most, around 2% to 3% of medical costs. Of course, it isn't clear how, when instituting tort reform, doctors would be disciplined for conducting sloppy medicine.

Good to hear this. The largely white and at least somewhat wealthy environmental movement is having to peek out of its shell and to bring in other demographics. Neither Flint, MI or Standing Rock, ND had the attention of the environmental movement at first.
And yes, I was heavily involved in the anti-war movement of the early aughts and felt at the time it was a largely elderly, very white movement.