July 6, 2017


What gives us hope is the conviction that the American people are better than the misogyny and rudeness we see spewing from the White House. Our politics have always been rough-and-tumble, but most of us don’t want to see this kind of ugliness become the dominant trait. We should all be focused on preserving a little flame of decency so that, whenever the Trump era ends, that flame can be rekindled into the kind of discourse that would make the country proud again. -- Washington Post Editorial Board 6/29/17

"In many ways he was just joining in on the fun.” -- Kellyanne Conway on President Trump’s tweets about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski.

“Stop. Just stop.” -- New York Post's three-word editorial imploring President Trump to stop using Twitter after he used the social network to attack “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski


“There may be some philosophical, you know, kind of textbook disagreement. But when you sit in a room and you say to people, ‘Should we strip coverage from somebody who’s mentally ill?’ I’ve never heard anybody say yes.” — Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R)

“The president has just sent his 33 million followers a video of himself pummeling a man covered by the CNN logo. CNN anchors and reporters — indeed, anchors and reporters from many media outlets — have been threatened and harassed. The president tweeted this message from the comfort of his summer golf home in New Jersey, surrounded by Secret Service. Meanwhile journalists are in the field, across the country and the world.” -- Politico.

“By 2040, 70 percent of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, which are also home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities in the country. By extension, 30 percent of Americans will live in the other 35 states. That means that the 70 percent of Americans get all of 30 Senators and 30 percent of Americans get 70 Senators.” — Political scientist David Birdsell

A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. -- NPR ✔@NPR


“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues. I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health-care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!'” — Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)




      1. As White House denials intensify, growing public evidence of collusion with Russia

      The most recent and potentially most damning link between the Trump campaign and Russia comes from a Thursday report by The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports a Republican group trying to obtain 33,000 Hillary Clinton emails they believed were stolen by Russian hackers appeared to be in communication with Michael Flynn, who was serving as a senior adviser to the Trump campaign at the time.

      The Journal’s source, a Republican opposition researcher named Peter W. Smith, mounted an independent investigation into the missing Clinton emails and in the process, interacted with 5 groups of hackers who claimed to have the emails, two of which were Russian. Emails by Smith to close associates reveal Flynn and his consulting group to be “allies in their quest.”

      The Journal also reported that “investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.”

      In sum, there is evidence that individuals connected to the Trump campaign were seeking stolen emails from Russian hackers and evidence that Russian hackers were trying to provide them to a top Trump adviser. 6/30/17 https://thinkprogress.org/as-white-house-denials-intensify-growing-public-evidence-of-collusion-with-russia-c0dd40849cf5


      2. The Entire Trump Agenda Is At A Tipping Point

      The GOP has adopted a major—even radical—agenda: transforming a massive sector of the economy, slashing taxes and rewriting the entire tax code, passing a budget that would dramatically reduce the size of government, and, in the middle of all of that, raising the debt limit. They have a plan to accomplish almost all of it before the end of the year, with minimal transparency, and without relying on a single Democratic vote. But if health-care reform goes down this summer, the rest of the plan may sink with it.

      For obscure parliamentary reasons, Republicans can’t move on with the rest of their wish list until they pass the health-care bill. And those prospects are not looking good. http://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizza/the-entire-trump-agenda-is-at-a-tipping-point


      3. Indiana GOP asked Facebook for Obamacare horror stories. The responses were surprising!

      The Indiana Republican Party posed a question to Facebook on Monday: "What's your Obamacare horror story? Let us know."

      The responses were unexpected.

      "My sister finally has access to affordable quality care and treatment for her diabetes." 

      "My father's small business was able to insure its employees for the first time ever. #thanksObama" 

      "Love Obamacare!" 

      "The only horror in the story is that Republicans might take it away." http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2017/07/04/indiana-gop-asked-facebook-obamacare-horror-stories-responses-were-surprising/449586001/

      4. News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters

      Criticism dogged Hillary Clinton at every step of the general election. Her “bad press” outpaced her “good press” by 64 percent to 36 percent. She was criticized for everything from her speaking style to her use of emails.

      As Clinton was being attacked in the press, Donald Trump was attacking the press, claiming that it was trying to “rig” the election in her favor. If that’s true, journalists had a peculiar way of going about it. Trump’s coverage during the general election was more negative than Clinton’s, running 77 percent negative to 23 percent positive. But over the full course of the election, it was Clinton, not Trump, who was more often the target of negative coverage (see Figure 1). Overall, the coverage of her candidacy was 62 percent negative to 38 percent positive, while his coverage was 56 percent negative to 44 percent positive. https://shorensteincenter.org/news-coverage-2016-general-election/

      For more of this multi-part series of research analyzing news media coverage of candidates and issues during the 2016 presidential election by the Harvard Kennedy School go to https://shorensteincenter.org/research-media-coverage-2016-election/

      5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

      A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals the GOP operative that tried to obtain hacked emails from Russian hackers. The operative implied at the time that he was working with Michael Flynn. https://www.facebook.com/Mediamatters/videos/10154714889486167/

      Newt Gingrich: The Congressional Budget Office is "part of the deep state" - the CBO is "doing a hit job on the Senate Republicans" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/29/newt-gingrich-congressional-budget-office-part-deep-state/217111

      Ali Velshi slams Kris Kobach for claiming a dead man voted in 2006 "who was very much alive." Velshi: "You got this wrong. You actually went after a particular voter who you said was dead and voted ... a newspaper found him mowing his lawn" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/30/watch-ali-velshi-slam-kris-kobach-claiming-dead-man-voted-2006-who-was-very-much-alive/217131

      Fox contributor says Trump can't be a misogynist because he also insults men. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/07/02/Fox-contributor-says-Trump-cant-be-a-misogynist-because-he-also-insults-men/217135

      Fox host lets Gov. Scott Walker falsely state that “28 million Americans will lose” health insurance if Obamacare stays. 28 million is the current number of uninsured people, and the CBO projects it would remain stable. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/06/30/fox-host-lets-gov-scott-walker-falsely-state-28-million-americans-will-lose-health-insurance-if/217130

      6. Investigators explore if Russia colluded with pro-Trump sites during US election

      The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

      Investigators are looking into whether Trump supporters and far-right websites coordinated with Moscow over the release of fake news, including stories implicating Clinton in murder or paedophilia, or paid to boost those stories on Facebook.

      The head of the Trump digital camp, Brad Parscale, has reportedly been summoned to appear before the House intelligence committee looking into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US election. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee carrying out a parallel inquiry, has said that at least 1,000 “paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia” were pumping anti-Clinton fake news into social media sites during the campaign.

      Warner said there was evidence that this campaign appeared to be focused on key voters in swing states, raising the question over whether there was coordination with US political operatives in directing the flow of bogus stories. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/05/donald-trump-russia-investigation-fake-news-hillary-clinton

      7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

      Trump accused Mika Brzezinski of getting plastic surgery, which is odd, because that’s the only thing covered by his healthcare plan. -- Conan O’Brien

      I saw that President Trump retweeted a 16-year-old who posted a photo calling CNN the "Fake News Network." When asked what it's like to have a child follow you on Twitter, the 16-year-old said, "Pretty cool!"-- Conan O’Brien

      I saw yesterday Republican senators took coach buses to the White House to meet with Trump about healthcare. You could tell which senators actually read the bill, 'cuz they were the ones buckling their seat belts. -- Jimmy Kimmel -- Conan O’Brien

      I’m going to say something I didn’t think was possible anymore: I am shocked by something Donald Trump said. I thought, by now, that my soul had calcified into a crouton. Not true, because today, the president of the United States tweeted, “How come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” -- Stephen Colbert

      First of all, someone bleeding badly at your door, and you say no? Sounds like your healthcare plan. I mean, turning them away from your hotel during the middle of winter is literally the story of Christmas. Only there wasn’t a wise man in sight. -- Stephen Colbert

      Let’s stop pretending Trump is a symptom of something. He’s the disease, and the only cure is three and a half years of liquor and bed rest. -- Stephen Colbert

      Of course, the first lady defended her husband via her spokesperson: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.” Yes, as the first lady says, “When they go low, we go 10 times lower.” -- Stephen Colbert

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that voting on the [healthcare] bill would be delayed until after the Fourth of July. It's a smart move. You don't want to strip people of healthcare until after the holiday that mixes booze and explosives. -- Stephen Colbert

      The New York Times said Donald Trump "faltered in his role as a 'closer.'" Yeah, usually, he's a great closer. Just look at his casinos. Oh wait, you can't, they're gone. -- Stephen Colbert

      President Trump today met several Native American tribal leaders. They had a lot of questions for the president, such as, "How the hell did you manage to lose money running a casino?" -- Seth Meyers

      8. Polls

      Big Majority of Americans Feel ‘Alarmed’ or ‘Uneasy’: A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds that 42% of of those surveyed when asked how they felt when they think about how things are going in Washington today said there were “alarmed.” Another 33% feel “uneasy.” Just 11% choose the positive “excited.The air of angst is bipartisan. Nine of 10 Democrats feel uneasy or alarmed; so do a majority of Republicans.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/29/poll-donald-trump-washington-republicans-alarmed-uneasy-russia-investigation/103269454/

      Americans Say Civility Has Worsened Under Trump: Trust In Institutions Down; Seven in 10 Americans say the level of civility in Washington has gotten worse since President Trump was elected, while just 6 percent say the overall tone has improved. Twenty percent say it's stayed the same. For comparison, 35 percent in 2009 said civility in the country had declined in the U.S. following President Obama's election, per a Gallup survey. Eight years ago, 21 percent of Americans in that poll thought civility and the tone of discourse in the country had improved. http://www.npr.org/2017/07/03/535044005/americans-say-civility-has-worsened-under-trump-trust-in-institutions-down

      U.S. Image Suffers as Publics Around World Question Trump’s Leadership: When asked about their confidence in the U.S. president to “do the right thing” regarding world affairs, Pew research shows a stark contrast between responses regarding Trump compared to those about President Barack Obama:

      Confident that US President will do the right thing:
        Obama   Trump  
      Germany  86 %  11 %
      France  84 %  14 %
      South Korea  86 %  17 %
      United Kingdom  79 %  22 %
      Japan  78 %  24 %


      9. Trump’s Attack On Mika Brzezinski Is Apparently Too Much For Some GOPers

      Trump’s attack on Brzezinski, who he claimed visited his Mar-a-Lago resort while “bleeding badly from a face-lift,” was reminiscent of his many remarks on women’s appearances during his campaign for president.

      After a debate in August 2015 hosted by Fox News, Trump suggested that moderator Megyn Kelly asked him difficult questions because she had “blood coming out of her wherever.”

      In September 2016, Trump claimed Hillary Clinton did not “have the look” to be president.

      A month later, he appeared to disparage Clinton’s appearance again, saying he “wasn’t impressed” when she walked in front of him at a debate.

      During the Republican primary race, Trump insulted rival Carly Fiorina’s physical appearance as well.

      “Look at that face!” he reportedly said. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next President?”

      “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” Trump added, as quoted by Rolling Stone.

      When the infamous “Access Hollywood” recording surfaced of Trump bragging about forcibly grabbing and kissing women, several of the Republicans who found his tweets on Thursday unacceptable similarly condemned his “Access Hollywood”remarks but, like then, took no further action. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-morning-joe-attack-gop-response


      10. Trump trashes media, cheers wins at $10 million fundraiser

      Trump’s decision to hold a fundraiser at his own hotel has raised issues about his continued financial interest in the companies he owns.

      Unlike previous presidents who have divested from their business holdings or interests before taking office, Trump moved his global business empire assets into a trust that he can take control of at any time. That means that when his properties — including his Washington hotel — do well, he stands to make money.

      Trump technically leases the hotel from the General Services Administration, and profits are supposed to go to an account of the corporate entity that holds the lease, Trump Old Post Office LLC. It remains unclear what might happen to any profits from the hotel after Trump leaves office, or whether they will be transferred to Trump at that time.

      Under campaign finance rules, neither the hotel nor the Trump Organization that operates it can donate the space for political fundraisers. It must be rented at fair-market value and paid for by the Trump campaign, the RNC or both. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-40-months-to-go-trump-holds-re-election-fundraiser/2017/06/28/d6af5da0-5c68-11e7-aa69-3964a7d55207_story.html


      11. Trump Idea Would Lead to 26 Million Uninsured

      President Trump tweets on Friday: “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”

      President Trump “wants Congress to repeal Obamacare now and worry about replacing it later. But that’s a non-starter for many congressional Republicans who don’t want to scrap a plan that’s covering millions of Americans without something to take its place,” Politico reports.

      “Repealing the health law without a replacement would kick about 18 million Americans off of health coverage in the first year — and reach 26 million a few years later, according to a CBO analysis of a 2015 bill to repeal the health law without a replacement.” http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/30/trump-repeal-obamacare-effects-cbo-240140


      12. Trump strips health care from 8,000 of his own voters in rural Nevada

      8,000 people in rural Nevada will lose their health insurance options as a result of Donald Trump’s engineered sabotage of the Obamacare insurance markets.

      The insurance carriers in the region are citing Trump’s public reluctance to pay subsidies to the companies that are owed money, as well as provisions in the Republican health care bill that would pull back on those subsidies.

      Those affected live in Carson City, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties — rural regions of the state. Those counties all voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 election, though Hillary Clinton won the overall vote. 6/30/17 http://shareblue.com/trump-takes-health-care-away-from-8000-of-his-own-voters-in-rural-nevada/


      13. From the Late Shows

      Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: ICE Unleashed: https://youtu.be/kqvtKtJaXPs

      Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Trump's Travel Ban Returns: https://youtu.be/vqkQs6ul6_Q

      Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sinclair Broadcast Group: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvtNyOzGogc

      14. Denied: Afghanistan's All-Girl Robotics Team Can't Get Visas To The US

      Their robot may have permission to travel, but six teenage Afghan inventors are staying put this summer.

      They've been rejected for a one-week travel visa to escort their robot to the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge – an international robotics competition happening in Washington DC in mid-July.

      The all-girl team representing Afghanistan hails from Herat, a city of half a million people in the western part of the country. To interview for their visas, the girls risked a 500 mile trek cross-country to the American embassy in Kabul – the site of several recent suicide attacks and one deadly truck bomb in early June that killed at least 90 people. Despite the recent violence, the teenagers braved the trip to the country's capital not once, but twice, hoping a second round of interviews might help secure their 7-day visas after the team was rejected on its first try. But no luck. https://www.forbes.com/sites/hilarybrueck/2017/06/29/denied-afghanistans-all-girl-robotics-team-cant-get-visas-to-the-u-s/#1d7ae4c3367f

      15. Climate Change

      Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start: In the four months since he took office as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history, according to experts in environmental law. Environmental advocates have watched in horror as Mr. Pruitt has worked to disable the authority of the agency charged with protecting the nation’s air, water and public health. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/us/politics/trump-epa-chief-pruitt-regulations-climate-change.html


      Extreme Heat Could Leave Swaths Of The Planet Uninhabitable: Among weather experts there is universal acceptance that global warming is a fact and that it is caused by human enterprise. As a result, dangerous heat waves are hitting with ever greater severity. In June, the National Weather Service warned of record-shattering heat in the American Southwest that it went so far as to label “crazy.” This is a trend that will continue worldwide, with lethal consequences, especially for the young, the old, outdoor workers, and the poor. Forget about hurricanes and blizzards, cyclones and floods: heat waves already cause by far the largest number of weather-related deaths—many thousands every year—and they are to be feared. Virtually no weather expert thinks otherwise. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/extreme-heat-global-warming

      16. Media reaps dividends from Trump attacks

      Cable news outlets are pulling huge ratings and reporters are becoming overnight celebrities as the attacks between President Trump and the media enter strange new territory.

      According to Nielsen’s second-quarter ratings, MSNBC’s total viewers are up 73 percent year-over-year, with prime-time viewership up 86 percent, easily making it the fastest-growing cable news outlet.

      Anchor Rachel Maddow has become a cultural icon on the left while also attracting a younger audience of viewers. MSNBC’s share of the coveted 25- to 54-year-old demographic grew 78 percent in prime time over last year. Its prime-time audience has nearly tripled since second quarter of 2014. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/340318-media-reaps-dividends-from-trump-attacks

      17. At G-20 summit, it looks more and more like Trump against the world

      President Trump and key global leaders are on a collision course ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Germany this week, with Trump’s unapologetic ‘America First’ mantra on trade and climate change running into emboldened, and increasingly united, opposition overseas.

      Trump reiterated his threats on Wednesday to pull the United States back from existing trade deals, arguing they were against the national interest. As Trump threatens to retreat from global trade, other world powers are exploring new economic ties.

      The European Union and Japan are expected on Thursday to announce plans for a major new free trade agreement… If completed, the E.U.-Japan trade deal would be a sign of other top economies adjusting to a new world order in which they attempt to work around the United States instead of looking to it for direction on building global trade. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/05/at-g-20-meeting-it-looks-more-and-more-like-trump-against-the-world/

      18. All the President’s Lawyers

      But there may never be enough Trump Lawyers to get the job done. The work is hard, sometimes even humiliating. In fact, the one irreducible character trait of a Trump Lawyer is that he or she is willing to take on Trump as a client, one who often either doesn’t solicit their advice or simply ignores it; who subverts their legal strategy on national television; who requires them to deny facts that he has confirmed and confirm facts that he has denied; who won’t stop tweeting inflammatory, threatening and clearly false statements. It’s a lot to ask of a professional. As Robert Luskin, a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame investigation, explains: ‘‘There are folks who come to you because you have a certain expertise and folks who come to you because they have already figured out what they want and need, and they want to use you as a dinner fork.’’

      Washington lawyers have defended spies, embezzlers, strongmen, torturers. But the prospect of defending Trump has apparently given them pause. Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, who represented Oliver North, and Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn, who represented the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, are among the veterans of Washington scandals who have reportedly rejected overtures to join Trump’s legal defense team.

      To the Trump Lawyer, the problem could never be Trump: That’s the first rule of Trump Law. Instead, Goldberg had his own explanation for Trump’s current legal difficulties: ‘‘He’s trying to break in a new pair of shoes, and they won’t let him.’’ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/magazine/all-the-presidents-lawyers.html



      1. Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Obama Obsession

      Donald Trump has a thing about Barack Obama. Trump is obsessed with Obama. Obama haunts Trump’s dreams. One of Trump’s primary motivators is the absolute erasure of Obama — were it possible — not only from the political landscape but also from the history books.

      Trump is president because of Obama, or more precisely, because of his hostility to Obama. Trump came onto the political scene by attacking Obama.

      Trump has questioned not only Obama’s birthplace but also his academicand literary pedigree. He was head cheerleader of the racial “birther” lie and also cast doubt on whether Obama attended the schools he attended or even whether he wrote his acclaimed books.

      Trump wants to be Obama — held in high esteem. But, alas, Trump is Trump, and that is now and has always been trashy. Trump accrued financial wealth, but he never accrued cultural capital, at least not among the people from whom he most wanted it.

      For Trump, the mark of being a successful president is the degree to which he can expunge Obama’s presidency.  6/29/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/opinion/trumps-obama-obsession.html?ref=opinion

      2. Ronald Brownstein: Why the GOP's Plan for Health Care Hit a Wall

      Not surprisingly the House and Senate health care proposals benefit high earners the most. The Senate bill would cut taxes by $180 annually for a family in the bottom fifth of the income distribution and by $280 for one in the middle fifth, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center determined this week. By contrast, households in the top 1 percent would save $45,000. In all, the center calculated, the top 10 percent of earners would receive over 60 percent of the Senate bill’s tax savings. That’s far more than the roughly one-third of savings directed to households in the bottom four-fifths of the income distribution combined, even though that group is over 12 times bigger than the top 10 percent. All of these numbers are similar for the House plan.

      On the other side, the cuts’ corresponding benefit reductions would hit lower-income and older workers hardest, particularly in the last years before retirement. Those are cornerstone Republican voters: Nationwide, over two-thirds of all adults ages 45 to 64 are white and Trump dominated among them.

      The losers in the GOP bills are beginning to notice. The latest Kaiser poll shows that while most non-college-educated whites and whites age 50 or older remain negative on the ACA, only about one-third of each group supports the Republican alternatives. And majorities of each group oppose cutting Medicaid funding. Perhaps most older and blue-collar whites feel such a strong cultural and racial affinity for the GOP that no offense against their economic interests can shatter that bond. But the grudging reset facing McConnell’s health-care bill suggests that, at least for now, too many Senate Republicans are not willing to test that proposition. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/senate-republican-health-care/531993/


      3. Jonathan Chait: The Republican Health-Care Lie Is Collapsing

      Republicans have justified their health-care rollback as a “rescue mission” to save America from a “failing” law. Their insistence that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing on its own is demonstrably false. But even if it were correct, the case is a non sequitur, because the most significant changes in the law have nothing to do with the alleged failure of Obamacare. Throughout the health-care debate, Republicans have managed to submerge this disconnected, obfuscatory rhetoric. But now the lie is finally coming to the surface, and the willingness of Republicans to indulge it is dissolving.

      When McConnell warns his party that the alternative to failure is bipartisanship, it sounds comical to outside ears. But he is deadly serious about it. He is telling conservatives that they are on the verge of forfeiting a historic opportunity to use the pretext of Obamacare repeal and replace to fulfill longstanding goals. The least committed conservatives in his party seem unwilling to risk their own popularity for these audacious goals. “If for some reason it fails … the floodgates would probably open to reach a bipartisan compromise,” West Virginia senator Shelley Moore Capito said on CNN. The term “floodgates” is telling. It indicates built-up pressure to abandon ideological maximalism and instead try to actually improve Obamacare.

      McConnell is trying to use the urgency of a deadline to force through a law enabling his grandest ideological dreams. Instead, the pressure of timing may have opened up a schism within his party he cannot mend. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/the-republican-health-care-lie-is-collapsing.html


      4. John Cassidy: Why Mitch McConnell and the Republicans Can’t Fix Health Care

      Even if McConnell somehow manages to revive the bill in the coming weeks and put together the fifty votes that he needs to get it through the Senate, that broader failure will remain a problem for him and his party. If they end up passing this bill or something like it, they will be betting their future on a reform that cannot deliver what Donald Trump promised during the election campaign and what Paul Ryan and his colleagues promised last December: reasonably priced access to health care for every American. Over time, political pressure would mount for the restoration of Obamacare, or even for a public option available to everyone.

      Conservative supporters of the Senate bill disagree, of course. Writing in the Washington Post over the weekend, Avik Roy, a former health-care adviser to Mitt Romney, said that passing this legislation would “represent the greatest policy achievement by a Republican Congress in generations.” It would create “a thriving, consumer-driven individual insurance market, with as many as 30 million participants, available to the healthy and the sick and the young and the old, whose successes will lay the groundwork for future efforts at entitlement reform.”

      The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Senate bill, which was released on Monday, offered a very different picture. If the bill were signed into law, the C.B.O. said, tens of millions of Americans would eventually be added to the ranks of the uninsured. Many others would face higher premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket limits. Older and poorer people, in particular, would find it harder to pay for health care.

      In reality, of course, the only party here that is really exercising choice is the Republican Party, which is refusing to accept the principle of genuine universal access to health care—a principle that virtually every other developed nation in the world recognizes. Until the Republicans and their conservative backers surmount their objections to this principle, they will be obliged to try and foist upon the country policies that can only do harm to many of their own supporters. After the July 4th break, they will doubtless hurry back to this task. 6/28/17 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/why-mitch-mcconnell-and-the-republicans-cant-fix-health-care


      5. Paul Waldman: How Trump’s disgusting behavior will make Republican disunity more likely

      Let’s be clear about something: Republicans are not a profile in courage on the question of Donald Trump’s boorishness. They supported him in 2016 — when he was accused by multiple women of harassment, when he made racist attacks on a judge, when he picked a fight with a Gold Star family, when he was caught on tape bragging about his ability to commit sexual assault with impunity — and they still support him as long as he’s doing what they want. There are precious few of them who stood up and said that they could not in good conscience stand behind such a despicable human being, and history will judge them harshly for their complicity in this disaster of a presidency.

      But what I’m talking about here are the moments when they aren’t all in agreement, and Trump would have to exercise leadership to pull them together. If you’re a member of Congress, making the decision to overcome your doubts and do what the president asks isn’t easy. A lot of factors play into it — your fear that he might punish you, the personal relationship you’ve built with him, your constituents’ feelings about him, your worries about reelection, your belief in your own independence and so on. Trump has been president for barely five months, and we’re already seeing that members of Congress don’t really fear him, they’re continually amazed by his ignorance about policy, and they think his White House is a bunch of amateurs.

      There are always going to be times when a member of Congress says, “Mr. President, I respect and admire you, but I have to say no this time.” That happens to every president. But if you convince them that you’re not worthy of their respect and admiration, saying “No” becomes a lot easier. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/06/29/how-trumps-disgusting-behavior-will-make-republican-disunity-more-likely/?tid=pm_opinions_pop

      6. Ruth Marcus: Authoritarianism creeps up on you. This is how.

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

      Fine, Mr. President, there’s an easy way to prove your asserted knowledge: Have a news conference. Answer questions that aren’t softballs tossed by your friends at Fox News.

      Remember back when Trump and his campaign were busy blasting Hillary Clinton for failing to hold a news conference?

      As for other ways in which Trump has made himself accessible, or not? Well, he went 41 days between interviews — from May 13 with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro(“Your agenda is not getting out, because people are caught up on the [James B.] Comey issue, and ridiculous stuff”) to June 23 with Fox News’s Ainsley Earhardt(on Trump’s bogus suggestion there might be tapes of Comey, she said, “That was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings”).

      Is this what our democracy has been reduced to? We in the media can’t make Trump take our questions. But supinely accepting his silence threatens to normalize the distinctly abnormal. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-creeping-authoritarianism-of-trumps-attacks-on-the-free-press/2017/06/29/81e92ca6-5cea-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html


      7. Ryan Cooper: The GOP's cartwheeling troupe of sycophants and hacks are lying their heads off about health care

      Senate Republicans are struggling mightily to pass their version of TrumpCare. They had originally scheduled a vote for this week, but have pushed it back to after the July recess to give the leadership more time to shore up the party's wobbling right and left flanks.

      Here's what TrumpCare does, in all its various manifestations: cut taxes on roughly the top 2 percent of families, and pay for it by slashing ObamaCare subsidies and Medicaid, throwing tens of millions off their health insurance. The motivation for such a bill can only be some combination of two things: the belief that wealthy people's incomes are too low, and the belief that government health insurance programs are too generous (or should not exist at all).

      That argument is too brutal and unpopular for most people to face, so the Republican Party and its cartwheeling troupe of media sycophants and hacks have chosen lying, dissembling, and prevaricating to sell their monstrous legislation. http://theweek.com/articles/708786/gops-cartwheeling-troupe-sycophants-hacks-are-lying-heads-about-health-care


      8. Jonathan Chait: Now We Have a Roadmap to the Trump Campaign’s Collusion with Russia

      Most of the commentary surrounding the Russia scandal has treated the possibility that Donald Trump’s campaign deliberately colluded with Moscow as remote, unfounded speculation. The new reporting that has broken this weekend suggests instead that this collusion likely did take place. It provides a roadmap to the, or perhaps a, likely avenue through which this occurred.

      The figure carrying out the operation in question was Peter W. Smith, who died at the age of 81 earlier this year. Smith is hardly a lone kook. He’s an established Republican donor with a demonstrated history in financing ethically murky investigations, such as paying Arkansas state troopers for stories of Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances.

      Smith surfaced earlier in the week in an explosive Wall Street Journalreport by Shane Harris, which Harris followed-up Friday night. What really underscores the significance of Harris’s reporting, though, is a detailed account, also published Friday night, by Matt Tait, a British cybersecurity expert who dealt extensively with Smith. Tait’s report makes it clear that Smith had access to Michael Flynn, at the very least, and was working not only to obtain stolen Clinton emails but also to hide the Trump campaign’s involvement.

      Smith is deceased (at an old age; there is no grounds for suspicion about the cause of his death.) But Michael Flynn, a figure he reportedly worked for, is very much with us, and facing significant legal jeopardy. Flynn’s lawyer has said he has “a story to tell.” This might be part of the story. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/now-we-have-a-roadmap-to-trump-campaigns-russia-collusion.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=s3&utm_campaign=sharebutton-b

      9. Kia Makarechi: Did Trump Just Begin Laying The Groundwork For “mass Voter Purging”?

      In a letter issued Wednesday, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a creation of one of Donald Trump’s executive orders, has asked every state in the country to hand over its publicly available voter data, including full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, last-four digits of Social Security numbers, voting history from 2006 on, and more. The official document is signed by Vice-Chair Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and conservative activist who has become infamous for his efforts to enact stricter voter-ID laws and purge voter rolls of duplicate or allegedly fraudulent voter registrations. Kobach and chairman Vice President Mike Pence give the states a deadline of July 14 to comply, and asks states to submit the information over e-mail or through a government file-transfer system.

      Critics of the White House’s voter fraud crackdown were appalled. “That they would be able to build out this nationwide database [on such a timeline] with any level of accuracy defies the imagination,” Vanita Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, said in an interview. The letter “lays the groundwork for mass voter purging,” she added. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/trump-kobach-voter-fraud


      10. Peter Beinart: Trump's Grudges Are His Agenda

      The least convincing Republican defense of Donald Trump’s attack on Mika Brzezinski surely belongs to White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who declared that Americans “knew what they were getting” when they elected him. The implication is that because Americans understood that Trump was a vulgar misogynist during the campaign, there’s nothing wrong with his vulgar misogyny today.

      Put aside the fact that a majority of Americans voted against Trump. Put aside the fact that even those Americans who did vote for him largely did so in spite of, rather than because of, his crude, sexist outbursts: Exit polls showed that among Americans who prioritized “good judgment,” Clinton beat Trump by 40 points.

      On policy, Trump is inattentive and inconsistent. Where he’s attentive and consistent is in his personal attacks on his adversaries. Trump’s presidency will have vast and frightening policy implications, most which he doesn’t understand. But Trump’s primary goal as president does not appear to be enacting a set of policies; his behavior suggests that his real goal is feeding his ego and vanquishing his enemies. He’s only truly interested in his presidency’s impact on himself. Calling Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky a diversion made sense because Clinton was genuinely committed to certain policy goals, which he undermined by his personal recklessness. With Trump, personal recklessness is all there is.

      That’s why Trump will launch attacks like the one he launched against Mika Brzezinski for as long as he’s president, and likely after that. Saying he attacks people viciously because he lacks impulse control is like saying a professional boxer lacks impulse control because he punches people in the ring. For Trump, this is the true purpose of politics, if not life itself. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/trumps-grudges-are-his-agenda/532395/

      11. Maureen Dowd: Cruella de Trump

       So, with this latest toad jumping from our president’s mouth, is Donald Trump acting like a sexist pig or simply a pig?

      I proffer, a pig.

      I have no doubt that he would attack a man’s appearance in the same breathtakingly below-the-belt way if he felt humiliated by that man and had the ammunition.

      In his vile tweet about Mika Brzezinski, he called her crazy. He often tweets that women journalists — including me — are crazy. Yet in that same tweet about Mika, he called Joe Scarborough “psycho.” And he told the Russians in May that James Comey was “a nut job.”

      It’s cruelty on a Grand Guignol scale, both in Trump’s heartless tweets and in his mindless salesmanship of the Republicans’ heartless budget. When Trump called the House health care bill mean, he knows whereof he speaks. He’s the King of Mean. Pathetically, Trump mistakes cruelty for strength. 7/01/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-cruelty-dowd.html

      12. Sarah Holder: How the Psychology of Cyberbullying Explains Trump’s Tweets

      That’s one big reason Trump is unlike any other cyberbully on the internet: Because he’s arguably the most important person in the world, more people listen to him, and his words can have far broader consequences than hurt feelings.

      “Now it’s a huge set of headlines. … It's a huge distraction and kerfuffle,” Bazelon says. “It’s important both to recognize that Trump in some ways is a classic bully, and also that when you’re a bully and you’re the president, it’s very different.”

      Another way in which Trump’s online behavior differs from typical cyberbullying? For most adults who practice cyberbullying, online anonymity gives them the liberty to be less mature, says Aboujaoude. “So cyberbullying isn’t just an expression of the aggression trait—it’s also an expression of the regression trait.” But Trump doesn’t, and can’t, usually go incognito—and it’s not clear he would want to, given his history of lobbing insults in speeches, interviews and other in-person appearances.

      So, how can a cyberbully be stopped? In this case, can he? The answer isn’t just “take away his phone.” A bully’s power has everything to do with social status. If a community—a school, a Congress, a country—accepts and tolerates a bully’s actions, those actions usually continue. It’s only through social rejection that they are incentivized to stop.

      “It’s not up to the victim of bullying to stop it or fight back,” explains Bazelon, drawing on her research about adolescent bullies and their victims. “It’s up to the community to make it clear to the bully that bullying is unacceptable. It’s on all of us.” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/03/how-the-psychology-of-cyberbullying-explains-trumps-tweets-215333


      13. Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump

      Perhaps the most contested question from the 2016 presidential election is what factors motivated white working-class voters to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of roughly two to one. New analysis by PRRI and The Atlantic, based on surveys conducted before and after the 2016 election, developed a model to test a variety of potential factors influencing support for Trump among white working-class voters. The model identifies five significant independent predictors of support for Trump among white working-class voters. No other factors were significant at conventional levels.

      Overall, the model demonstrates that besides partisanship, fears about immigrants and cultural displacement were more powerful factors than economic concerns in predicting support for Trump among white working-class voters. Moreover, the effects of economic concerns were complex—with economic fatalism predicting support for Trump, but economic hardship predicting support for Clinton.

      Identification with the Republican Party. Identifying as Republican, not surprisingly, was strongly predictive of Trump support. White working-class voters who identified as Republican were 11 times more likely to support Trump than those who did not identify as Republican. No other demographic attribute was significant.

      Fears about cultural displacement. White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.

      Support for deporting immigrants living in the country illegally. White working-class voters who favored deporting immigrants living in the country illegally were 3.3 times more likely to express a preference for Trump than those who did not.

      Economic fatalism. White working-class voters who said that college education is a gamble were almost twice as likely to express a preference for Trump as those who said it was an important investment in the future.

      Economic hardship. Notably, while only marginally significant at conventional levels (P<0.1), being in fair or poor financial shape actually predicted support for Hillary Clinton among white working-class Americans, rather than support for Donald Trump. Those who reported being in fair or poor financial shape were 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton, compared to those who were in better financial shape. https://www.prri.org/research/white-working-class-attitudes-economy-trade-immigration-election-donald-trump/

      14. Charles Blow: The Hijacked American Presidency

      Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.

      There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.

      We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

      The presidency has been hijacked. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/opinion/trump-hijacked-american-presidency.html?ref=opinion

      15. Max Boot: The System Works

      With President Trump spending the days leading up to the Fourth of July tweeting an increasingly outlandish and offensive series of insults against members of the Fourth Estate (specifically, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and CNN), I was left to reflect on the wisdom of the Founders. More than two centuries ago, they came up with a system of government that contains, at least to a large extent, even the damage that a personality as protean and disordered as Donald Trump’s can do.

      The president may rage against the media—bizarrely, he accuses the mainstream press of being “fake” even as he posts a doctored video from a professional wrestling match, the most artificial entertainment imaginable—but his ability to do anything more than vent on social media is decidedly limited. Thanks, James Madison, for drafting the Bill of Rights and, in particular, the First Amendment that protects our most precious liberties. Trump has talked in the past about changing the libel laws, but that’s not something he can do by executive fiat. It will take an act of Congress, and the odds of such legislation passing are scant even in a Republican-dominated legislature. 7/04/17 


      16. Laura Rosenberger : How President Trump could tweet his way into nuclear war with North Korea

      President Trump’s reaction to North Korea’s intercontinental missile test was to immediately reach for his phone and sound off with chest-thumping statements on Twitter.  This is a very reckless reaction, and one that risks miscalculation by adversary and ally alike.

      North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea..... Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

      North Korea will parse every word of Trump’s Twitter statement looking for clear signals of intention in Trump’s tweets. The problem is, it’s not clear that Trump has any idea what his intentions are. He is sending signals that foreign officials will attach meanings to — meanings he may not have intended and might not even realize he’s sending.

      Bluster and chest-thumping may feel good — but it will not make us safer. The threat posed by North Korea is serious, urgent and reaching a critical point. It requires a real, coordinated strategy in which the president works in concert with his national security team to protect the country. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/05/how-president-trump-could-tweet-his-way-into-nuclear-war-with-north-korea/