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Hullabaloo


Friday, March 24, 2017

 
Friday night soother: flying tigers

by digby































Ok, here's some cute:



After they were ignored by their mother following their birth on February 3, three Malayan Tiger cubs have been cared for by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s nursery staff. Now, the cubs’ care team includes the zoo’s four-legged, resident nursery companion and former nanny to several zoo babies: Blakely the Australian Shepherd Dog. The six-year-old super-dog has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort, and a body for the cubs to climb on.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs. Blakely is the adult in the room. He teaches them proper Tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”



The cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) would have received similar cues from their mom. Because being with her is not an option, Blakely is the next best thing.  His baby-rearing resume includes experience with Cheetahs, an Ocelot, a Takin, a Warthog, Wallabies, Skunks, and Bat-eared Foxes.  Last year, to recognize Blakely’s nurturing nature, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!

“My team can feed and care for the Tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out’. So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet Tigers at other zoos in the future.” The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.

Malayan Tigers are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 250 breeding-age adults living in the wild.  Less than 100 of these Cats live in zoos, making these three cubs – and Blakely’s job as caregiver – incredibly important to the effort to save Malayan Tigers.

He is a very, very good boy.

.
 
QOTD: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

by digby



On Trump:
"He's got perfect genes. He has incredible energy and he's unbelievably healthy."

ok.
 
Daddy's kids

by digby



























Schmaht as whips:
Eric Trump told Forbes he will keep his father “abreast of the family business’ profits.” 
Said Trump: “I am deadly serious about that exercise. I do not talk about the government with him, and he does not talk about the business with us. That’s kind of a steadfast pact we made, and it’s something that we honor.” 
However, just two minutes later he admitted he would give his father reports “on the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that, but you know, that’s about it,”  adding that the updates will be “probably quarterly.”
 What?

Then there's Junior who instead of keeping his distance and concentrating on the business, took to the twitter:
It has become something of an online custom in the social media age to react to tragic news stories — like Wednesday’s attack in London — with well-meaning if sometimes rote messages like “thoughts and prayers.” But that does not appear to be Donald Trump Jr.’s style.

“You have to be kidding me?!” Mr. Trump said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter, as details of the episode — which left at least five dead, including the assailant, and 40 injured — continued to unfold. The message continued, “Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”

Mr. Trump, the oldest son of President Trump, was calling attention to an article from September in The Independent, a British newspaper, that described Mr. Khan’s reaction to a bombing then in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

Mr. Trump mischaracterized the London mayor’s remarks. Mr. Khan did not describe terrorism as “part of living in a big city,” as if bombings and shootings were an inescapable fact of life. He said that terrorism preparedness, including providing sufficient support to the police, was “part and parcel of living in a great global city.”

“That means being vigilant, having a police force that is in touch with communities; it means the security services being ready, but it also means exchanging ideas and best practice,” Mr. Khan said in a video interview published by The Evening Standard, another British paper. (For the record, Mr. Khan did say the victims of the Chelsea bombing were in his “thoughts and prayers.”)

“Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe,” Mr. Khan added. “I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.”

On Thursday morning, Mr. Khan said in an interview on CNN that he would not respond to Mr. Trump’s tweet because he had “been doing far more important things over the last 24 hours.”

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And then there's his closest advisers Ivanka and Jared who, instead of being in town for the big Obamacare repeal negotiations, are vacationing in Aspen.

I don't know what Tiffany and Baron are up to.


.
 
Loser!

by digby






















He lost. Big time. Trump tweeted and called and according to Sean Spicer, he "left everything on the field."

He tried his hardest. Let's give him a participation trophy.

Sean Spicer said this morning that they demanded the bill get a vote. Then they switched gears and said the President demanded that the bill be pulled. Whatever.

The upshot is that the great negotiator couldn't even get his own party to agree to a bill they all ran on.  He made the ultimate miscalculation by backing the Freedom Caucus, notorious nihilist back-stabbers whose seats are entirely safe instead of the moderates who would be primaried from the right for voting against the bill and opening up the seat to a Democrat. They were the ones who needed his protection but he's too dumb to know that.

The White House finally realized that a vote on this bill was worse than no vote at all and they defaulted to Trump's preferred strategy which is to just keep ragging on the hated black guy which he knows his voters love more than anything.

I can hardly wait to see what he does in his unilateral trade negotiations. Get ready to pay 20 bucks a pound for tomatoes, folks.




























This is what Republicans get for voting for a cheap huckster who went bankrupt four times. Too bad for the majority that didn't vote for him.


.
 
What's really going on with Nunes?

by digby




It gets weirder ever day. Here's the latest from David Corn at Mother Jones:

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the now-famous (for the wrong reasons) chair of the House intelligence committee, held another weird press conference Friday morning. It wasn't as much of a doozy as his double feature on Wednesday, when he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump's presidential transition team, including possibly Trump himself, had been picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities had been disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. That triggered a hullabaloo—had Nunes revealed classified information? was he pulling this stunt to help Trump?—and his actions prompted Democrats to question Nunes' ability to lead an effective probe of Moscow's meddling in the 2016 campaign and the interactions between the Trump camp and Russia. On Thursday, in a private meeting of the committee, Nunes apologized to his fellow committee members for his bizarre pressers but did not fully explain his move or share the information he had. This was part of an already bad week for Nunes.

Nunes' own account bolsters the argument that he is not a credible manager of the probe of the Trump-Russia scandal.
On Friday, Nunes didn't make anything better. In fact, with a series of elliptical statements, he suggested that on Wednesday he had gone off half-cocked—which is not SOP for an intelligence committee chairman in charge of a highly sensitive and politically charged investigation. Asked repeatedly about the information that was the basis for his charge that Trump and his associates were inappropriately "unmasked" in classified intelligence reports based on legally authorized top-secret surveillance of foreign targets, Nunes said he did not have that material in hand. He noted he had "viewed" the documents this week. And he said that he hoped to receive copies of the material "from the NSA and other agencies" on Friday, over the weekend, or early next week. He also indicated that there were more documents related to this matter than he had seen. Nunes added that he had been aware of the "unmasking" prior to reviewing the documents he saw.

Put this all together, and the scenario looks like this: Someone told Nunes that the identities of Trump and/or Trump associates appeared in intelligence reports based on surveillance conducted during the transition. Nunes then reviewed some of these documents this week. And on Wednesday afternoon (two days after a holding a day-long hearing with FBI chief James Comey and NSA head Mike Rogers), Nunes—without telling his fellow committee members and without conducting any thorough examination of the matter—went public. That is, he went rogue. And he rushed to the White House to share his half-baked information with Trump. (Afterward, Trump declared that he was now "somewhat" vindicated for claiming Obama had illegally wiretapped him in Trump Tower during the election—despite the fact that Nunes' statements were not related to Trump's fact-free charge.)

I was on the Majority Report with Sam Seder earlier and Sam had a very interesting alternative theory about what actually happened. He points out that after the hearing the other day the committee held a closed door meeting and for the first time Comey revealed some of what he had. Sam's hypothesis is that Nunes, as a member of the transition team whomay not feel entirely secure from surveillance himself had to figure out a way to get Comey's information to the White House and needed to find reason to go up there personally to deliver it. So he came up with this cockamamie scheme, which would explain why he didn't share what he had with the committee --- he didn't have anything.

It's an interesting theory. This Nunes gambit was very strange and certainly gives rise to suspicions that he was doing something other than what he said he was doing. The fact that suddenly three former Trump associates have agreed to testify before the committee makes you wonder why they might feel more confident in their stories all of a sudden.

Nunes should have recused himself from this committee. He was a member of the transition and for all we know he's implicated himself. He's not smart enough to outwit the counterintelligence agents, though. He probably shouldn't try ...

.





 
In case you were wondering if the GOP health care bill was nuts ...

by digby













Matthew Yglesias at Vox has the details --- at least as much as we know now:
In both its substance and its procedural details, the plan cooked up by the Trump administration and House Republican leadership to overhaul the American health care system is completely insane.

As of Thursday evening, Republicans have announced a plan to stage a do-or-die vote on the legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new system. They’re not sure they have the votes to pass the bill, in part because the actual substance of the bill was only coming out at around 9 pm. With the text finalized so late, they won’t have analysis from the Congressional Budget Office before the planned vote.

What we do know is that the bill is unpopular — with a favorable rating of 17 percent according to a Quinnipiac University poll — and that it can’t pass the Senate without either substantial modification or a whole bunch of senators very suddenly dropping major objections to anything that causes so many people to lose their insurance coverage.

But House Republicans are in such a hurry to pass an unpopular bill that won’t become law that they won’t even take the time to figure out what the law does.
AHCA 1.0 meant 24 million people lost insurance

What we do have is a CBO score of an earlier version of the bill, which said it would cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance while raising premiums and deductibles for remaining patients on the individual market. It would also accelerate the bankruptcy of the Medicare Trust Fund, all in pursuit of a large tax cut overwhelmingly tilted toward millionaires.

That bill, as written, was too right-wing to pass the Senate, where a number of Republicans have raised concerns about the defunding of Planned Parenthood and draconian cuts to Medicaid.

But that wasn’t right-wing enough for the right wing of the House GOP caucus, so now changes are in the works to eliminate federal regulations that require plans on the individual health insurance market to provide “essential health benefits.” (The bill would instruct states to set such regulations on their own.) Those federally mandated benefits, which members of the House Freedom Caucus find so irksome, are as follows:

Outpatient care without a hospital admission, known as ambulatory patient services
Emergency services
Hospitalization
Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
Mental health and substance use disorder services, including counseling and psychotherapy
Prescription drugs
Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, which help people with injuries and disabilities to recover
Laboratory services
Preventive care, wellness services, and chronic disease management
Pediatric services, including oral and vision care for children

It’s easy to demagogue the idea of removing those regulatory protections. The specter of an all-male meeting deciding that there’s no need for pregnancy, maternity, and newborn coverage is particularly egregious. But many of these line items simply test the conceptual limits of a health insurance plan. Suppose you bought something called health insurance that didn’t cover emergency services, hospitalization, preventive care, or rehabilitative services. Would that even be health insurance?

Worse, neither the authors of the revised legislation nor the members of Congress being asked to vote on it have any idea what the revised bill’s effects would actually be. There are a lot of moving parts to legislation. Will this deregulatory drive make total spending go down (because skimpier plans will be cheaper) or up, because cheaper, skimpier plans will attract more customers who are spending the government’s money? I’m not sure, and members of Congress aren’t sure either. Unlike me, Congress has a team of experts at their disposal who could figure it out for them if they had a few days to work. But House GOP leaders don’t want to know — they’re desperate to hold a vote tomorrow before any analysis is done.
Rush to nowhere

That’s the fundamental insanity of running headlong toward a floor vote without a score from the CBO. A lot of pixels have been spilled on the basic hypocrisy of the procedural aspects of the AHCA. But the real issue here is about substance, not process. Making public policy is hard. The CBO is a tool to help make sure members of Congress understand what they’re doing. They are not using that tool, and consequently, they are flying blind — voting for a series of interlocking changes that will drastically impact tens of millions of people’s lives with no idea what is going to happen.

Most egregiously of all, at this point the tempo is apparently being dictated by Donald Trump’s personal pique at recalcitrant House members.

A president with no interest in the details of public policy is impatient with the idea that House members might care what the content of the bills they pass is, and has decided to make passing this law a test of personal loyalty to him.

That’s a ridiculous way to think about legislation in general. But it’s a particularly egregious way to think about this particular bill, since candidate Trump would have thoroughly denounced it. He promised — in the primary, in the general election, and even during the transition — to put forward a plan that covers everyone, lowers deductibles, and protects Medicaid. He then hashed out a bill that doesn’t do any of those things, and is now professing to be not just eager to pass a bill that defies all of his campaign commitments but furious at people who are skeptical of the merits. Meanwhile, even if it does pass, the bill would have to be substantially revised to have any chance in the Senate.

There’s simply no reason to be doing this. At best, House members will be taking a politically tough vote for an unpopular bill that doesn’t become law. At worst, it will somehow actually become law, and members will find themselves accountable for the catastrophic consequences they haven’t even bothered to try to understand. All out of misguided loyalty to a president who never supported these ideas and doesn’t appear to have any interest in the content of the legislation.


Jesus H Christ...

.
 
That was the surreal week that was

by digby


















On Thursday I wrote a snarky lead for my story about the Devin Nunes mini-drama commenting on how “prescient” Donald Trump and his associates have been — implying that they are often scheming and just can’t keep their mouths shut about what they are up to. It turns out that I’m the one who’s prescient. Later that morning Time magazine’s Michael Scherer released an interview with President Trump about his relationship with facts and the truth, in which he essentially said that he’s an “instinctual” person who says things that may not be factual in the moment but that will come true in the future.

As I write this, we are waiting to see if Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump will be able to corral enough Republican votes to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the legislative mutant they call the American Health Care Act. It’s unknown at this hour exactly what’s in it but reports have it growing more cruel and heartless by the minute. This was largely because Trump himself got into the negotiations with the hard-right Freedom Caucus and promised its members the moon. Here’s how it looked:


You’ll notice that the group was unmistakably estrogen free (as well as blindingly white). That was particularly offensive since those legislators had spent the day insisting that men shouldn’t have to pay for women’s health care (a problem that analyst Ron Brownstein has dubbed “the mommy tax“).If the Freedom Caucus dream bill were to pass into law, it would essentially create a lucrative government subsidy for insurance companies that no longer have any obligation to provide actual insurance. As Chris Hayes said on his show on Thursday night, it’s an invitation for thousands of Trump University-style scams to spring up all over the country to take advantage of free money in an unregulated market.Trump made lots of promises but didn’t really get anywhere as one vote gained became two votes lost. If he knew anything about what really makes Republicans tick he would have taken a page from his vice president’s playbook and simply reminded them of their reason for living:




By the end of the day Trump put his foot down and threatened the caucus with a vow to keep Obamacare in place if they don’t pass the bill on Friday. They all undoubtedly know that keeping Obamacare has been Trump’s real preference for some time now. If his vaunted “instincts” are truly as keen as he thinks they are, this would likely be the outcome. He can say it’s what he always wanted, rail against former President Barack Obama for a few more years and blame Paul Ryan for the political fallout.Of course, if they do manage to pass the bill, Trump will take credit for being the greatest negotiator the world has ever seen. He will win no matter what because in his mind everything in the world is about who gets blamed — and as I wrote a while back, it’s never going to be him. He told Scherer in the Time interview:
What am I going to tell you? I tend to be right. I’m an instinctual person, I happen to be a person that knows how life works.
One would think that a momentous legislative event like this would be the only real political news out there, but the near-death of the AHCA was just one of several stories in this wild week. Early on came the shocking House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers in which it was confirmed that there were investigations of possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and agents of the Russian government to tilt the election in favor of Trump. Both also testified in no uncertain terms that the wiretapping accusations by the president against former President Obama were untrue.

Two days later this serious event turned darkly comical when Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, called a press conference to reveal that a “source” had shown him evidence that Trump’s transition staff had been under surveillance after all and he needed to rush over to the White House to inform the president. Nunes has refused to share the evidence with anyone else, but from what people have gathered it’s likely that some routine intercepts captured conversations or emails involving members of the Trump team.
The Time interview was being held as the Nunes story was breaking and Scherer hadn’t even heard about it. Trump immediately informed him that Nunes had a lot of information about the surveillance and went on and on with an unintelligible rationale for the nasty accusation. But buried in the middle of that word salad was this:
[A] lot of information has just been learned, and a lot of information may be learned over the next coming period of time. We will see what happens. Look. I predicted a lot of things that took a little of bit of time.
Nunes made a valiant first pass at making his president’s prediction come true but he didn’t get the job done.
Trump went on to list other predictions that came true, most of which were figments of his imagination. He truly believes that he’s never ever been wrong about anything and when he lies he’s actually telling the future. He said it over and over again in that astonishing interview. When asked if he will have a credibility problem when he has to deal with a serious national security event, he replied:
The country believes me. Hey. I went to Kentucky two nights ago, we had 25,000 people in a massive basketball arena. There wasn’t a seat, they had to send away people. I went to Tennessee four nights ago. We had a packed house, they had to send away thousands of people. You saw that, right? Did you see that? . . . The country’s not buying it, it is fake news.
He signed off the interview simply saying, “Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

Believe it or not, that’s still not the most surreal thing that happened this week. In the middle of the hard-fought health care negotiations on Thursday, Trump held yet another one of his tedious photo-ops. And this happened:


Other than totally abdicating every promise he made to his voters on health care and being implicated in potentially the biggest scandal in American history, it was a good week for the president. He got to sit in a big truck.

.

 

Trumpcare for Men:
for men with hair and men without

by Tom Sullivan

Thursday's Obamacare repeal and replace vote is now Friday's Obamacare repeal and replace vote. Donald Trump, legendary closer, delivered an ultimatum to House Republicans whipping for votes on the American Health Care Act:

Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney made clear Thursday evening that President Donald Trump is done negotiating on the hotly-debated health care bill and wants a vote on Friday.

And, if the president doesn't get a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, he will move on to other priorities, Mulvaney said according to a source in the room during the tense talks with GOP members. A senior administration source confirms to NBC News the "very definitive, very clarifying" message from the president and the administration's intention to move on — should the health care bill fail to move forward — to other matters such as tax reform, trade and border security.
Trump faces a major defeat on his first big legislative push and doesn't seem to care. He doesn't have the attention span for it and it's not his problem:
If the bill does not pass, the president would see it as "people in Congress breaking their promises to their constituents to repeal and replace Obamacare" even with a Republican president in the White House," the source told NBC News.
Thursday was supposed to be a signature day for Trump and the Republicans. The seventh year anniversary of Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act would see its demise. For seven years and after dozens of show votes, Republicans promised to repeal it at the first opportunity, but they spent yesterday furiously attempting to get their fractious caucus behind the unpopular measure. The White House's effort to satisfy members of the House Freedom caucus yielded a photo that drew the ire of women.

A Twitter user praised the diversity in the Trumpcare meeting: white men with hair and without.

"Nobody knew health care could be so complicated," Trump informed his base in February. Except Trump was the only nobody in the room. Everyone else who had paid any attention did. The complicating factor in today's House vote is after all the late-night negotiations and sweeteners added to land this GOP vote or that, nobody knows what is in the bill coming to the floor. The Washington Post's Dan Balz confirms:

Hardly anyone knows what is in the current bill, or what could be in it after further negotiations. Concessions to conservatives have brought defections among some moderates. Rep. Mark Meadows, (R-N.C.), the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Thursday afternoon that there were still 30 to 40 Republicans not committed to supporting the bill. Republicans can afford to lose only 21 or 22 of them, depending on how many Democrats are present to vote.
Republicans are keenly aware that a vote that harms GOP primary voters could mean an end to their careers. But a vote against the president could damage Republicans' ability to get passed many of the other legislative goodies on their wish list. "If we vote it down, we will neuter Donald Trump's presidency," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told reporters yesterday:
There were daunting obstacles to a deal heading into the White House meeting Thursday morning. A number of Freedom Caucus members had suggested Trump’s latest concession — repealing Obamacare's mandate that insurance plans provide a minimum level of "essential" benefits — wasn't enough. The group wants a complete repeal of all Affordable Care Act regulations — including popular provisions Trump promised he would maintain.
"This sounds barbaric. It is barbaric," writes Jordan Weissmann at Slate. "Obamacare's regulations, remember, really were designed to work as a cohesive whole. If you pull out a few of its key stones, you're likely to create as much wreckage, if not more, than if you demolished the whole thing."

Two thoughts come to mind. First, the image at the top of this post of the Three Stooges' Curly — another man without hair — trying to fix a leaking faucet by threading on lengths of pipe, only to have the leak move to the end of the new pipe. Second, for all the money, sweat and contortions legislators have gone through to save America's complex, private insurance-based health system (and insurance company profits), we could have had a simpler, single-payer system to serve all Americans that looked less like a leaking cage of pipe. But that would make too much sense.

For his part, Donald Trump spent yesterday generating memes and leaving the heavy lifting to people accustomed to working.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

 
"Have you had a chance to meet the beautiful Melania yet, Sergey?"

by digby
















That's what the allegedly nefarious intercepts probably say, now that we know what Nunes the tool was talking about.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know "for sure" whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

"He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure," a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the Trump transition team executive committee.

At a press conference yesterday, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community -- through its "normal foreign surveillance" -- "incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes never said Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted.

Nevertheless, Nunes called it a "significant" development, and President Trump later said it "somewhat" vindicated his controversial Tweets two weeks ago alleging that President Obama wiretapped him and his campaign.

Based on the limited amount of information provided by Nunes so far, it's possible that foreign officials were overheard talking about Trump transition team members, one intelligence official speculated, as opposed to transition members participating directly in the communications.

"We don't know exactly how it was picked up," Nunes acknowledged yesterday.

Fergawdsakes.

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Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

by digby

There were a lot of complaints from the Freedom Caucus about men having to pay for any insurance policy that includes maternity benefits or mammograms. They met with Trump earlier today to try to hammer out a deal:


Do you notice anything odd about that group?





Roberts apologized later.  But he can't un-say it.

Trump agreed to scrap all the Essential Health Benefits, including the provision on pre-existing conditions, the maternity benefits, the kids under 26 --- all of it. They still refused to take yes for an answer. That's what they do.

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Chart o' the day

by digby



The vote was postponed. The ultimate closer couldn't close, apparently.

These dogs caught the car and they don't now what to do. The smart ones are letting go. The rest are letting themselves be dragged all the way down the street.

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Devin Nunes and Cokie's Law

by digby
















So Nunes took a bullet today and sort of, kind of admitted that he's busted all norms by running to the White House with his "scoop" that Trump transition officials had been picked up in some surveillance with foreign actors.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he regrets informing President Trump of surveillance affecting the president’s transition team before he updated his panel.

“It’s a judgement call on my part,” he told reporters when asked why he spoke with Trump and the media before House Intelligence Committee Democrats.

“At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you don’t,” Nunes added, noting he could not show the panel information that was given to him by a source.

Nunes declined to disclose his source’s identity when asked if it was the White House.

Read Trump's bizarro interview in the post below and it's not hard to conclude that the White House was the source. Probably Trump himself.

But as much as Nunes may have thrown himself in front of the bus for his president on this --- and may have actually made things worse by pushing this scandal closer to an independent commission, he did succeed in upholding what I like to call Cokie's Law, which says, "it doesn't matter if it's true or not, it's out there."

That's the only law Trump cares about.

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Yes, it almost certainly came from the White House. There's a history.

by digby























I wrote about Nunes' little gambit yesterday for Salon this morning:

One of the more unusual characteristics of President Donald Trump and his closest associates is the extent to which they seem to have psychic powers. Recall that on Aug. 21 conservative operative and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone tweeted gleefully, “it will soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel,” referring to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Lo and behold, on Oct. 7 WikiLeaks released its trove of Podesta’s emails.

It wasn’t long after this that Trump’s close ally, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, exhibited a similar eerie prescience. Days before FBI Director James Comey announced that his agency would examine Clinton emails found on a computer used by Anthony Weiner, Giuliani told Fox News Trump has “got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. . . . I’m talking about some pretty big surprises. . . . . We got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn this around.” Was he ever right.

Then on March 15, in the wake of the president’s manic early-morning tweetstorm accusing former President Barack Obama of arranging for him to be wiretapped, Trump demonstrated his own awe-inspiring clairvoyance. Trump told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that despite all the denials from every institution and person in a position to know, “You’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”

Wouldn’t you know it? On Wednesday House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was shown some documents by a “source” that had him so up in arms he couldn’t even take the time to alert the other committee members before he ran to the White House to show the president. When asked if he felt vindicated by this alleged bombshell, Trump replied:


I somewhat do. I must tell you I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, I somewhat do.

It’s amazing how Trump and his people are able to see into the future this way, isn’t it?

Of course, Roger Stone is now in the crosshairs of a serious counterintelligence investigation and undoubtedly regrets crowing about what he knew. Giuliani was unceremoniously put out to pasture after it was rumored he helped rogue elements of law enforcement with an anti-Clinton crusade on behalf of Donald Trump. And nobody on the planet really believes that Nunes’ bizarre performance “somewhat” vindicated Trump — or vindicated him at all. Indeed, all Nunes’ stunt did was open the door to a bunch of new questions that Trump may very well regret being asked.

In a nutshell, Nunes claimed that this unnamed source showed him some intelligence intercept from the transition period before Trump took office that indicated members of the Trump team were under surveillance. Inexplicably, the congressman thought it was appropriate to immediately inform the the subject of the investigation and tell the world that he did it. Under questioning in the two (!) press conferences that Nunes held on the matter, it became clear that he was talking about routine legal surveillance of foreign actors that caught some conversations with Trump transition officials. His only complaint was that reports of these intercepts were disseminated inside the government without properly masking the Trump officials’ identities, a process known as “minimization.” (The inadequacy of this protection has been a gripe of civil libertarians for years — something the GOP dismissed as overwrought until it happened to Republicans.)

Since even Nunes admits that this surveillance was routine, why this revelation would “vindicate” Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped him remains a mystery. But it certainly didn’t stop Trump defenders from sending up celebratory fireworks.




Trump’s staffers don’t seem to understand the separation of powers or have respect for the necessary protocols in an intelligence investigation any better than their boss:




Devin Nunes should have recused himself from this investigation the moment behavior of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, during the transition came to light, since Nunes was also a member of that transition. (It’s mind-boggling that Republicans who were recently obsessed with the “possible appearance of the potential conflict of interest” of the former secretary of state in 2010 have now decided that demonstrable conflicts in recent months are no longer relevant.) Nunes did not do that obviously. Instead he has basically been running interference for the Trump administration ever since — and frankly not doing a very good job of it.

Neither is he a competent chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Earlier in the week Nunes pretended that he had never heard of the Trump associates who have been widely reported to be under investigation, even though he has been on the record talking about them. And he lamely led GOP members of his committee at Monday’s hearing in a clumsy dance to try to change the subject from the investigation of Russian interference with the election campaign to leaks to the press about the investigation. It didn’t work and served only to make them look as partisan as possible.

Yet after making a fetish out of leaked sensitive and classified information (an issue he and other Republican committee members were not so fastidious about when it came to the interminable Benghazi saga), Nunes was apparently so excited about finding out that some routine intercepts included Trump transition officials that he disclosed their existence without giving a thought to the national security implications. After all, it’s possible that the surveillance his source showed him was pertinent to the investigation.

Nunes’ mini drama came on the heels of a startling Associated Press report on Wednesday morning about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s ties to a Russian oligarch known to be very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. And late on Wednesday, CNN reported that the FBI had obtained information that some of Trump’s associates may have coordinated the release of information with Russian operatives to damage the Clinton campaign. That makes Nunes’ revelation about additional surveillance of Trump’s transition officials seem downright foolish if his intention was to vindicate the president. When you add it all up, the Trump administration looks guiltier than ever.

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"I'm president and you're not"

by digby

















This may be his most disturbing interview ever. I think he's melting down:
President Trump spoke with TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer on March 22 for a cover story about the way he has handled truth and falsehood in his career.


This is a transcript of the exchange, with some minor edits. The transcript does not include requests he made of his staff during the interview, or a comment he made after asking to go off the record.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hey, Michael.

TIME: Hey Mr. President, Thank you for taking the time.

Absolutely. How have you been, OK?

Yeah, it has been a wild couple months. You keep us busy.

Yeah, it’s been good though. It’s been good.

Do you want me to give you a quick overview [of the story]?

Yeah, it’s a cool story. I mean it’s, the concept is right. I predicted a lot of things, Michael. Some things that came to you a little bit later. But, you know, we just rolled out a list. Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems. Huma [Abedin] and Anthony [Weiner], you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing. NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before. Brussels, I said, Brussels is not Brussels. I mean many other things, the election’s riggedagainst Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of things.

But there’s other things you said that haven’t panned out. The peg for this story is the wiretapping hearing on Monday, in which [FBI Director James] Comey and [NSA Director Mike] Rogers testified about your tweets there.

Yeah well if you’d look at, in fact I’ll give you the front page story, and just today I heard, just a little while ago, that Devin Nunes had a news conference, did you hear about this, where they have a lot of information on tapping. Did you hear about that?

One of my ideas here is that throughout the campaign and now as president, you have used disputed statements, this is one of them that is disputed, the claim thatthree million undocumented people voted in the election…

Well I think I will be proved right about that too.

The claim that Muslims celebrated on 9-11 in New Jersey…

Well if you look at the reporter, he wrote the story in the Washington Post.

But my idea is that whatever the reality of what you are describing, the fact that they are disputed makes them a more effective message, that you are able to spread the message further, that more people get excited about it, that it gets on TV.

Well now if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong, in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people. In fact I’m forming a committee on it.

But there’s no evidence that 3 million people voted with…

We’ll see after the committee. I have people say it was more than that. We will see after we have. But there will be, we are forming a committee. And we are going to do a study on it, a very serious problem.

Is there anything different about making these kinds of predictions without having the factual evidence as President?


I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. When everyone said I wasn’t going to win the election, I said well I think I would. You know it is interesting, somebody came up to me and said the other day, gee whiz, the New York Times and other people, you know other groups, had you down at one percent, well, I said no I think I am going to win, and people smiled, George Stephanopoulos laughed, you remember. He thought it was very cute, and very funny. Other people smiled. And some people, the smart people or the people that know me didn’t laugh at all. There are people that know me, like Carl Icahn and many others, that didn’t laugh at all, they thought I was going to win, because they understand how I, they understand me. They get it. But you take a look and guess what, I won, and I won easily. I predicted Brexit. Remember they said there was no way to get to 270? Well I ended up at 306. I had election night, 306. But there was no way to get to, in fact I went to Maine four times, four times I went to Maine, because I had to get one vote, because there was no way to get to 270, but I ended up getting to 306. Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, no, Brexit is going to happen, and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many many things. They turn out to be right. And now today, Devin Nunes, just had a news conference.

I’ll look that up.

Yeah, just had it. Now the problem, the thing is, I’m not sure they are watching anything other than that, let’s see members of Donald Trump transition team, possibly, oh this just came out. This is a Politico story. Members of the Donald Trump Transition team possibly including Trump himself were under surveillance during the Obama administration following November’s election. House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes told reporters, wow. Nunes said, so that means I’m right, Nunes said the surveillance appears to have been ... incidental collection, that does not appear to have been related to concerns over Russia.

But so incidental collection would not be wiretapping of you, it would be wiretapping of…

Who knows what it is? You know, why, because somebody says incidental. Nunes is going to the White House.

Nunes has also said that he has no evidence that your tweet was right, previously.

Well, he just got this information. This was new information. That was just got. Members, of, let’s see, were under surveillance during the Obama Administration following November’s election. Wow. This just came out. So, ah, just came out.

Mitch McConnell has said he’d rather you stop tweeting, that he sees it as a distraction.

Mitch will speak for himself. Mitch is a wonderful man. Mitch should speak for himself.

But you don’t see any problems caused by these kinds of controversies. Does this, when we are talking in the press about whether the president was wiretapped or not, is this good for you or bad for you?

Probably neither. Probably neither. What I said, look I said, Donna Brazile had information, and she had information on Hillary’s debate questions. I said why didn’t Hillary apologize. Donna Brazile just admitted that that was right. I said the election was rigged against Bernie, a lot of people agree with that one, a lot of people hated the statement when I made it.

But I grant you some of those. But you would agree also that some of the things you have said haven’t been true. You say that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.

That gets close to the heart…

Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.

But traditionally people in your position in the Oval Office have not said things unless they can verify they are true.

Well, I’m not, well, I think, I’m not saying, I’m quoting, Michael, I’m quoting highly respected people and sources from major television networks.

Did you see the Wall Street Journal opinion page today, the editorial page?

I thought it was, I thought it was a disgrace that they could write that.

But let me just, the hypothetical they started with, you have to announce to the country or to the world that some serious national security event has happened, and…

The country believes me. Hey. I went to Kentucky two nights ago, we had 25,000 people in a massive basketball arena. There wasn’t a seat, they had to send away people. I went to Tennessee four nights ago. We had a packed house, they had to send away thousands of people. You saw that, right. Did you see that?

Yes I did.

The country’s not buying it, it is fake media. And the Wall Street Journal is a part of it.

Ok. So you don’t worry that your credibility, that if you’ve cited things that later turn out to be wrong, based on anonymous sources that that hurts you.

Name what’s wrong! I mean, honestly.

Fox News said…

Brexit. Wait a minute. I predicted Brexit. What I said about NATO was true, people aren’t paying their bills. And everyone said it was a horrible thing to say. And then they found out. And when Germany was over here I said, we are going to have a great relationship with Germany but you have to pay your NATO bills, and they don’t even dispute it, ok. So what have I said that is wrong? Everyone, I got attacked on NATO and now they are all saying I was right. I got attacked on Brexit, when I was saying, I said long before the day before, I said the day before the opening, but I was saying Brexit was going to pass, and everybody was laughing, and I turned out to be right on that. I took a lot of heat when I said Brexit was going to pass. Don’t forget, Obama said that U.K. will go to the back of the line, and I talked about Sweden, and may have been somewhat different, but the following day, two days later, they had a massive riot in Sweden, exactly what I was talking about, I was right about that.

But even in that Sweden quote, you said look at what happened on Friday in Sweden. But you are now saying you were referring to something that happened the following day.

No I am saying I was right. I am talking about Sweden. I’m talking about what Sweden has done to themselves is very sad, that is what I am talking about. That is what I am talking about. You can phrase it any way you want. A day later they had a horrible, horrible riot in Sweden and you saw what happened. I talked about Brussels. I was on the front page of the New York Times for my quote. I said Brussels is not what it used to be, very sad what has happened to Brussels. I was absolutely lambasted. A short time later they had the major attack in Brussels. One year ago today. Exactly one year ago today. And then people said you know Trump was right. What am I going to tell you? I tend to be right. I’m an instinctual person, I happen to be a person that knows how life works. I said I was going to win the election, I won the election, in fact I was number one the entire route, in the primaries, from the day I announced, I was number one. And the New York Times and CNN and all of them, they did these polls, which were extremely bad and they turned out to be totally wrong, and my polls showed I was going to win. We thought we were going to win the night of the election.

So when you…

And then TIME magazine, which treats me horribly, but obviously I sell, I assume this is going to be a cover too, have I set the record? I guess, right? Covers, nobody’s had more covers.

I think Richard Nixon still has you beat. But he was in office for longer, so give yourself time.

Ok good. I’m sure I’ll win.

If you go back to Comey testifying that he and the Justice Department have no information to back up your tweet, the head of the NSA testifying that there is no information to back up your tweet, or the claim made by Judge Napolitano…

On front page of the New York Times, OK? It’s in the title of the front page. And I would like you to officially—I know you are going to write a bad article because you always do—[mention] wiretap data used in inquiry of Trump aides. OK. Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aids. Ok? Can you possibly put that down? Front page, January 20th. Now in their second editions, they took it all down under the internet. They took that out. Ok? But that’s the way it is. And then they just had a news conference now where they turned out, you watch. You watch.

That is different…

I’m not criticizing anybody, I’m just saying.

That is different that the president wiretapping you which would be a crime outside of a court.

Well I don’t know where these wiretaps came from. They came from someplace. That is what they should find out. And you know the real story here is about the leakers. OK? You don’t write about that. But the real story here is, who released General Flynn’s name? Who released, who released my conversations with Australia, and who released my conversation with Mexico? To me, Michael, that’s the story, these leakers, they are disgusting. These are horrible people.

And apparently there is an investigation into that as well.

Well should be, because that’s where the whole, who would think that you are speaking to the head of Mexico, the head of Australia, or General Flynn, who was, they are not supposed to release that. That is the most confidential stuff. Classified. That’s classified. You go to prison when you release stuff like that. And who would release that? The real story is, they have to work, intelligence has to work on finding out who are the leakers. Because you know what? When things get involved with North Korea and all the problems we have there, in the Middle East, I mean, that information cannot be leaked out, and it will be by this, this same, and these people were here in the Obama years, because he had plenty of leakers also. But intelligence has to find out, who are these people. Because the biggest story here is, who is leaking this classified information.

But isn’t there, it strikes me there is still an issue of credibility. If the intelligence community came out and said, we have determined that so and so is the leaker here, but you are saying to me now, that you don’t believe the intelligence community when they say your tweet was wrong.

I’m not saying—no, I’m not blaming. First of all, I put Mike Pompeo in. I put Senator Dan Coats in. These are great people. I think they are great people and they are going to, I have a lot of confidence in them. So hopefully things will straighten out. But I inherited a mess, I inherited a mess in so many ways. I inherited a mess in the Middle East, and a mess with North Korea, I inherited a mess with jobs, despite the statistics, you know, my statistics are even better, but they are not the real statistics because you have millions of people that can’t get a job, ok. And I inherited a mess on trade. I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder. But that’s the story. Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody OK?

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

 
They hate it, they really hate it

by digby
















People know how bad it is:

American voters disapprove 56 - 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided, of the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Support among Republicans is a lackluster 41 - 24 percent.

If their U.S. Senator or member of Congress votes to replace Obamacare with the Republican health care plan, 46 percent of voters say they will be less likely to vote for that person, while 19 percent say they will be more likely and 29 percent say this vote won't matter, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

Disapproval of the Republican plan is 56 - 22 percent among men, 56 - 13 percent among women, 54 - 20 percent among white voters, 64 - 10 percent among non-white voters, 80 - 3 percent among Democrats, 58 - 14 percent among independent voters and by margins of 2-1 or more in every age group.

One out of every seven Americans, 14 percent, think they will lose their health insurance under the Republican plan. That 14 percent includes 27 percent of voters in families with household income below $30,000, 18 percent of working class families and 14 percent of middle class families.

Fewer Americans would be covered under the GOP plan than are covered under Obamacare, 61 percent of voters find, while 8 percent say more would be covered and 18 percent say the number would be about the same.

"Replacing Obamacare will come with a price for elected representatives who vote to scrap it, say many Americans, who clearly feel their health is in peril under the Republican alternative," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

It is "very important" that health insurance be affordable for all Americans, 85 percent of voters say. Another 13 percent say it is "somewhat important."

When it is explained that federal funding for Planned Parenthood is used only for non- abortion health issues, American voters oppose cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood 80 - 14 percent, including 60 - 32 percent among Republicans. In a simple question, without the explanation, voters oppose cutting Planned Parenthood funding 61 - 33 percent.

Voters also oppose 74 - 22 percent, including 54 - 39 percent among Republicans, cutting federal funding for Medicaid.

Only 12 percent of American voters say the Republican health care plan would have a positive impact on their health care, as 30 percent say it will have a negative impact and 50 percent say it will have no impact.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress should repeal all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 20 percent of voters say. Another 50 percent say repeal parts of the ACA and 27 percent say don't repeal any of the ACA.

Voters disapprove 61 - 29 percent of the way President Trump is handling health care.


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Sad days

by Tom Sullivan

In the flood of news this morning what stands out is the general dyspepsia behind so much of it. Being pissed off now seems to be policy itself, or else the result of it.

In London, a yet-unidentified attacker in an SUV ran down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, crashed into a wall outside the Houses of Parliament, then stabbed a policeman to death before being shot and killed himself by police. Five are known dead, including the attacker. Dozens are injured, some severely. Police suspect a connection to "Islamic terrorism in some form".

In New York, police detained a white supremacist for murder:

A white supremacist used a sword to kill a black homeless man in Manhattan, telling investigators he went to the city because he "wanted to make a statement," reports say.

James Harris Jackson, 28, of Baltimore, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, is accused of driving a 26-inch sword with an 18-inch blade through the chest of Timothy Caughman, 66, at 11:15 p.m. Monday as Caughman was searching for cans and bottles to recycle, ABC News reports .
Jackson went to New York City for better media coverage.

These are bizarre and unhappy times for Donald Trump. Or should we say, Sad!? His Obamacare repeal may fail today in the House. And worse.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” historian Douglas Brinkley told the Washington Post after FBI Director James Comey testified on Monday that there is an investigation into Trump's Russia connections:
“Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”

Brinkley went on to say that he has never seen a new president grow so unpopular so quickly, as Trump’s low approval ratings combined with the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia have created massive storm clouds hanging over his presidency.

“This is the most failed first 100 days of any president,” he said. “To be as low as he is in the polls, in the 30s, while the FBI director is on television saying they launched an investigation into your ties with Russia, I don’t know how it can get much worse.”
At Slate, Katy Waldman writes about Trump's sad, angry tenure. Trump got the job he dreamed of. He'd be the boss of everybody. Turns out it's no fun. He has to meet with foreign leaders who make him look like a sullen, scolded child. The intelligence services listen in on his colleagues' conversations with Russians. At least Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has an excuse. He didn't want his job. Waldman writes:
Why is Trump so out of sorts? It could be that he’s simply found, in fire-and-brimstone Donald, his latest role. Yet it seems equally likely that Trump has stumbled into an Aesop’s fable of his own making. Having received what he so fervently wished for, he’s now found that leading the free world is a miserable chore. Trump, who loves Trump more than he loves anything else, used to jet around selling that self-love to voters. Now he’s stuck in meetings pondering policies and ideologies that matter a whole lot more to the American people than they matter to him. As a candidate, he got to accuse the establishment of trashing the country. He played hype-man for a future in which he’d refresh our ideals. Now he’s accountable in the present to all the men and women whose lives haven’t become fairy tales since he took office. That’s not fun. That’s a full-time job, and that’s the one thing Donald Trump has never wanted.
And take Sean Spicer. Please.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

 
Did I mention that he was a cretin?


by digby


Yet another weirdly sexualized photo of Dad and daughter


















Here's one I haven't heard before:
Watching TV commentators applaud him for containing himself for a little over an hour was like hearing a parent praise a difficult child for not pooping in his pants during a pre-school interview. Besides, vintage Trump is not going anywhere anytime soon. A couple of weeks earlier, during a visit by the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, the president told an acquaintance that he was obsessed with the translator’s breasts—although he expressed this in his own, fragrant fashion.

He is so screwed up in so many ways ...


That's from a very tart column by Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair.
 
To the victor belongs the spoils system

by digby


























And if they have to purge the executive branch of all but the most loyal Republicans, even civil servants, so be it.And if they spread their names all over the wingnut media and get the gun toting nutballs all riled up, that's just the way the game is played now:
Conservative news outlets, including one with links to a top White House official, are singling out individual career government employees for criticism, suggesting in articles that certain staffers will not be sufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump by virtue of their work under former President Barack Obama.

The articles — which have appeared in Breitbart News, the Conservative Review, and other outlets — have alarmed veteran officials in both parties as well as current executive branch staffers. They say the stories are adding to tensions between career staffers and political appointees as they begin to implement Trump's agenda, and they worry that the stories could inspire Trump to try purging federal agencies of perceived enemies.


The claims posted on the conservative sites include allegations of anti-Israel and pro-Iran bias against staffers at institutions such as the State Department and the National Security Council. Breitbart News, whose former executive chairman Steve Bannon is now Trump’s chief strategist, has even published lists of workers that the president should fire.

Washington veterans say they can't recall similar targeting of government employees, who are required to stay apolitical and generally shun the spotlight.

"It’s deeply unfair to single people out and question their loyalty,” said William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former longtime diplomat, “It’s demoralizing for institutions. It’s demoralizing for professionals, and it’s offensive.”

Elliott Abrams, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration who was passed over last month for the role of deputy secretary of state because of his past criticism of Trump, agreed with Burns. Career staffers, he said "are trying to do their jobs and will respond to presidential leadership — including from a new president when an administration changes.”

U.S. civil and foreign service officers have long been seen by Republicans and Democrats as the backbone of government — subject matter experts who help political appointees administer their policy agenda regardless of who serves as commander-in-chief. But many in the Trump administration and its allies on the right are skeptical of career staffers, believing they are part of an American “deep state” that is working in secret to undermine the president.

Several people who have been targeted did not respond to requests for comment. But one said the information being spread was unnerving, in part because even if Trump's top aides don't always believe the reports they read in the conservative press, they may still feel pressure to act from voters in the Republican base who do believe the accounts.

“I, of course, worry about the fact that there are people inside the administration and outside it who may believe what they read in these things, who don’t necessarily appreciate what it means to be a career staffer,” said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity for job protection reasons. “Most people don’t understand that that does not come with politics attached.”

There's more. And it's creepy. But Trump did say that he believed the victor was entitled to the spoils and on of the big spoils is the ability to give out patronage jobs to your lackeys.I have to believe that's a big part of this.

.
 
All rise for the ice road trucker chucker

by Dennis Hartley





As the confirmation hearings continue for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, we’re getting wind of some interesting rulings he has made through the course of his judicial career. “Interesting” in the sense of giving us a glimpse of his character.

So far, it’s pointing south of “empathetic”. From Democracy Now:

One of the most riveting moments in the Gorsuch hearing occurred when Minnesota Senator Al Franken questioned Gorsuch about his ruling in a case involving a truck driver who got fired after he disobeyed a supervisor and abandoned his trailer that he was driving, because he was on the verge of freezing to death. The truck driver couldn’t drive off with the trailer, because the trailer’s brakes had frozen. In the case, Judge Gorsuch cast the sole dissent ruling in favor of the trucking company against the trucker.

[…]

SEN. AL FRANKEN: There were two safety issues here: one, the possibility of freezing to death, or driving with that rig in a very, very—a very dangerous way. Which would you have chosen? Which would you have done, Judge?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: Oh, Senator, I don’t know what I would have done if I were in his shoes, and I don’t blame him at all, for a moment, for doing what he did do.

SEN. AL FRANKEN: But—but—but—

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: I empathize with him entirely.

SEN. AL FRANKEN: OK, just you’ve—we’ve been talking about this case. Don’t—you don’t—you haven’t decided what you would have done? You haven’t thought about, for a second, what you would have done in his case?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: Oh, Senator, I thought a lot about this case, because I—

SEN. AL FRANKEN: And what would you have done?

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: I totally empathize and understand—

SEN. AL FRANKEN: I’m asking you a question. Please answer questions.

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: Senator, I don’t know. I wasn’t in the man’s shoes. But I understand why he did—

SEN. AL FRANKEN: You don’t know what you would have done.

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: I understand—

SEN. AL FRANKEN: OK, I’ll tell you what I would have done. I would have done exactly what he did.

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH: Yeah, I understand that.

SEN. AL FRANKEN: I think everybody here would have done exactly what he did. … It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. That’s absurd. Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity, and I know it when I see it. And it makes me—you know, it makes me question your judgment.


He seems nice. While that case is getting a lot of press, it’s only part of a larger pattern that emerges when you study his past. Corporate America will have a real SCOTUS bud in Neil Gorsuch; because they can rest assured they won’t lose any more of those $400 handcarts:


--- Dennis Hartley