October 5, 2017


“Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.” — Michelle Obama.

 "Tax cuts shouldn't be handed out like Halloween candy. To grow the economy, they must be paid for, and the details of this plan appear to come up $2 to $2.5 trillion short." -- Nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“It’s the difference between succeeding as a party and failing. It’s the difference between having a majority in 2018 or losing it. It’s the difference between one term and two.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on the need to pass the Republican tax reform package.

Obama’s popularity makes him an inconvenient figure for left-wing triumphalism to reckon with. It is common to read Sandernistas describing the Democratic electorate as if Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were the only two choices available. They may discover, in 2020 and beyond, that the 44th president and his public philosophy remain very much alive. --  Jonathan Chait in NY Magazine

"Trump doesn't care about people of color.” -- Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who commanded the military response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans slamming President Trump’s response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.


“It has to go down as the biggest cover-up in the history of the United States. Nobody wants to touch it.” — Recently-pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio saying he plans on continuing a long-running investigation into Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

“We urge you to immediately reconsider and reverse this harmful directive to HHS Regional Offices. The Trump Administration’s latest effort to sabotage health care will likely lead to additional confusion, creating unnecessary barriers for patients and families seeking to purchase insurance.” -- Democrats in the House and Senate who work on health care policy demanding answers about a host of recent HHS decisions—including an abrupt order to all 10 regional offices to stop participating in local open enrollment events.

You're going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. 
No long lines for you.
Someone will say, "Right this way, sir."
They'll clear a path. ...
She has been working 24/7.
You have been GOLFING.
You're going straight to hell. 
Fastest golf cart you ever took. -- Lin-Manuel Miranda @Lin_Manuel, the composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton. 


"I think it's (health care) probably more of a privilege. ... Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us to afford those things." -- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to a group of high school students when asked if he personally consides healthcare as a privilege or a right.

“Easily bored, hedonists constantly seek novelty and are vulnerable to addiction. This extreme present hedonism is apparent in Trump, because he will say whatever it takes to pump up his ego and to assuage his inherent low self-esteem, without any thought for the potentially devastating future outcomes from his off-the-cuff remarks or even major decisions.”  -- Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University and a scholar-author best known for his landmark prison study.

"I will not vote for a tax reform package if “we’re adding one penny to the defic it.I am not going to be for it, OK. I’m sorry. It is the greatest threat to our nation.” -- Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who announced last week that he won’t seek re-election next year, told NBC News 

“That has a lot more to do with mass shootings than gun owners laws. You can go ahead and breaka law and you can come to a sanctuary city, and they wouldn’t enforce the laws.” -- Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) saying that gun laws don’t affect gun violence, instead it’s the existence of “sanctuary cities” that creates a lawless culture fostering mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas.

There’s “violence in the streets” because “we have disrespect for authority. There is profound disrespect for our president, all across this nation they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news, it’s in other places.” -- Pat Robertson, blaming the Las Vegas shooting on disrespect for Trump.

“I don’t remember the President telling Texas that they threw our budget out of whack after Harvey, or Florida after Irma.” -- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticizing Trump on Tuesday for complaining that the devastation Hurricane Maria left in Puerto Rico has “thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this. But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, number one. And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.” -- Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff railing against congressional leaders in closed-door remarks to wealthy donors and called for a “purge” if GOP lawmakers don’t quickly rally behind President Trump’s agenda.

“My source didn’t just say he called him a moron. He said he called him an f-ing moron.” -- Stephany Ruhle @Stephanie Ruhle standing by her report about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s characterization of Donald Trump. -- Ken Dilanian ‏@KenDilanianNBC 



1. Trump Tax Cut Already In Trouble

While they say they expect that some Democrats will support the tax cut, the decision to exclude them from the planning process — the Big Six consisted of four congressional Republicans and two members of the Trump administration — means that it is anything but bipartisan. Because of that, and given the lack of any economic imperative and the substantive problems with the proposed tax cut (especially that it would harm taxpayers in blue states), House and Senate Democrats are far less likely to support the plan in its current incarnation than Trump, Ryan and McConnell are hoping.”

That will make every GOP vote critical to passing the Trump tax cut and, as of a last Friday, significantly large groups of Republicans in both houses of Congress had already made it clear that they could not vote for the plan as drafted. Without any Democrats supporting the bill, McConnell will only be able to lose two Republican senators and still pass the bill. As of last Friday, there were more than two who were expressing doubts about their support.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/10/01/trump-tax-cut-already-in-trouble/#6f1587f46783


2. Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under His New Tax Plan

President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes,” a New York Times analysis has found.

Said Trump: “I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/28/us/politics/trump-tax-benefit.html

3. Lobbyists Rally to Save Tax Breaks Under Threat in Trump Plan

Republicans’ release of a sweeping plan to rewrite the tax code has set off a scramble among Washington lobbyists and trade groups to protect valuable tax breaks and other long-ingrained provisions. The plan’s scant details make it hard to know what, exactly, is on the chopping block. But within hours of the plan’s unveiling on Wednesday, flash points emerged over measures that supporters said could hurt the housing market, raise borrowing costs and increase the tax burden on families in high-tax states.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/us/politics/a-fight-erupts-to-shield-tax-breaks-threatened-by-gop-plan.html

4. How Republicans Ditched Tax Reform for Tax Cuts

The Big Six… couldn’t agree on enough reforms to raise revenue. Paul Ryan had one idea, a so-called border-adjustment tax, which would have raised a trillion dollars to offset some of the rate cuts in the plan by taxing imports. But that was nixed by the White House and never replaced with anything as ambitious. In the end, the Big Six also couldn’t agree on as many details as the group originally proclaimed.

Instead of doing the hard work of crafting a revenue-neutral tax reform, which requires taking on powerful political constituencies and working with Democrats, Republicans will fall back on arguing that the economic effects of the tax legislation will be so powerful that it will pay for itself with growth.”  https://www.newyorker.com/news/ryan-lizza/how-republicans-ditched-tax-reform-for-tax-cuts


5. Roy Moore’s Alabama Victory Sets Off Talk of a G.O.P. Insurrection

Republicans are confronting an insurrection on the right that is angry enough to imperil their grip on Congress, and senior party strategists have concluded that the conservative base now loathes its leaders in Washington the same way it detested President Barack Obama.

Mr. Strange’s demise, senior party strategists and conservative activists said Wednesday, makes it likelier that Republican incumbents in the House and Senate will face serious primary challenges in 2018, fueled by anger at the party’s apparent ineptitude at wielding power in Washington. Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist and a vehement antagonist of the party establishment, said on Tuesday night that he intends to target Republican senators in Mississippi, Arizona and Nevada for defeat.

And that rebellion could spread.

Trent Lott, a former Senate Republican leader, was blunt: “Every Republican senator had better get prepared for a challenge from the far right.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/us/politics/republican-senate-alabama-mcconnell.html

6. Andy Borowitz: Puerto Rico Issues Travel Ban on Malignant Narcissists

Calling the move an “urgent response to recent unfortunate events,” Puerto Rico has issued a sweeping travel ban on malignant narcissists, effective immediately.

Starting on Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection officials at Puerto Rico’s ports of entry will be equipped with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–V) issued by the American Psychiatric Association, and will be instructed to look for symptoms of malignant narcissism in those attempting to enter.

“If port officials encounter a visitor who has a pompous and arrogant demeanor, needs the constant admiration of others, and is unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs, that visitor will be denied entry,” a Puerto Rican government statement read.

Puerto Rico took the forceful action after an incident on Tuesday, in which a man with narcissistic-personality disorder gained entry to the island and inexplicably hurled projectiles at unwitting Puerto Ricans.

“We had to do something,” one government official said. “Enough is enough.”

Puerto Rico’s ban on malignant narcissists drew widespread praise from people around the world, with many Americans calling for a similar ban in the mainland United States.

ELSEWHERE: In a ringing endorsement from the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos said on Thursday that she did the math on Donald Trump’s tax plan and that she estimates it will save the United States roughly eleventy krillion dollars.

“I took out a pencil and paper and figured it out the old-fashioned way,” DeVos told reporters. “I wound up going through a lot of paper, because eleventy krillion has ten hundredteen zeroes.”

The Education Secretary said that the national debt, which currently stands at more than twenty trillion dollars, would be greatly reduced by the eleventy-krillion-dollar windfall.

“If you subtract eleventy krillion from twenty trillion, you get a number so small it has no name,” she explained.

ELSEWHERE 2: In an experience that he called “traumatic” and “horrifying,” the departing Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, was seated between two screaming babies Friday night on his first-ever commercial flight.  https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/


Being nice to Rocket Man hasn't worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won't fail. -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump


25 years ago, Kim Jong Un was only 8 years old! -- Daniel Dale @ddale8


TRUMP: I just wanted to say though on health care, we have the votes for health care. We have one senator (Thad Cochran of Mississippi) that's in the hospital. He can't vote because he's in the hospital. -- Donald Trump


"Thanks for the well-wishes. I'm not hospitalized."-- Sen. Thad Cochran


I know it is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place in such a devastating hurricane." -- Homeland Security head Elaine Duke


"When you are drinking from a creek this is not a good news story. ... Dammit, this is not a good news story. This is a people are dying story. This is a life or death story. This is a truckload of stuff that can’t be taken to people story. This is the story of a devastation that continues to worsen story! -- San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said on "New Day" Friday



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

White Fox host: Black NFL players should devote more time talking about black violence instead of police brutality.Greg Gutfeld: "There is a social problem with how black men are dealing with other black men."  https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/28/white-fox-host-black-nfl-players-should-devote-more-time-talking-about-black-violence-instead-police/218079

Fox guest: "Liberal elites" on college campuses are turning our children into "politically correct thugs."  https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/29/Fox-guest-Liberal-elites-on-college-campuses-are-turning-our-children-into-politically-cor/218091

Fox contributor Tomi Lahren: In removing confederate statues, the left is trying "to erase history and to erase every shred of patriotism."  https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/29/fox-contributor-tomi-lahren-removing-confederate-statues-left-trying-erase-history-and-erase-every/218085

White Fox host: Black NFL players should devote more time talking about black violence instead of police brutality. --Greg Gutfeld: "There is a social problem with how black men are dealing with other black men."  https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/28/white-fox-host-black-nfl-players-should-devote-more-time-talking-about-black-violence-instead-police/218079

Fox host uses Las Vegas shooting to attack NFL players who protest during national anthem. Jesse Watters: "So all those kneelers in the NFL out there ... we are supposed to be honoring law enforcement, law enforcement that is trying to save lives, not take lives."  https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/10/02/fox-host-uses-las-vegas-shooting-attack-nfl-players-who-protest-during-national-anthem/218112

9. Twitter finds hundreds of accounts tied to Russian operatives

 Twitter said Thursday that it had shut down 201 accounts that were tied to the same Russian operatives who posted thousands of political ads on Facebook, but the effort frustrated lawmakers who said the problem is far broader than the company appeared to know.

The company said it also found three accounts from the news site RT — which Twitter linked to the Kremlin — that spent $274,100 in ads on its platform in 2016.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/twitter-finds-hundreds-of-accounts-tied-to-russian-operatives/2017/09/28/6cf26f7e-a484-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html

10. Soon,’ ‘Very Soon,’ ‘Eventually’: A Detailed List of Things Trump Said Would Happen’

Using a website called Factbase, the NY Times reviewed nearly all the president’s remarks since his election, searching for references to specific time frames, like ‘soon’ or ‘very soon’ (a full list of such words is at the bottom of this article). Factbase transcribes, sorts and tags nearly every public statement made by President Trump – spanning official White House releases, speeches, interviews and even tweets.

Like most politicians, the president makes plenty of claims that are imprecise, mundane or not easily checkable. But many claims were very specific. Among more than 100 specific policy predictions Mr. Trump said would happen soon, we found that at least 75 percent of the time, they did not – or had not, as of this writing.  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/27/upshot/trump-statements-soon.html

11. Dispelling the GOP Tax Myth: Tax cuts don’t equal growth

Four decades ago, while working for Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY), Bruce Bartlett had a hand in creating the Republican tax myth. Of course, it didn’t seem like a myth at that time — taxes were rising rapidly because of inflation and bracket creep, the top tax rate was 70 percent and the economy seemed trapped in stagflation with no way out. Tax cuts, at that time, were an appropriate remedy for the economy’s ills.

Tax cuts became the GOP’s go-to solution for nearly every economic problem. Extravagant claims are made for any proposed tax cut…”

That’s wishful thinking. So is most Republican rhetoric around tax cutting. In reality, there’s no evidence that a tax cut now would spur growth.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/28/i-helped-create-the-gop-tax-myth-trump-is-wrong-tax-cuts-dont-equal-growth/

12. Senate Republicans have never heard of Roy Moore

Numerous GOP senators said they were not familiar with the Alabama Senate candidate’s controversial views — but they want him elected.

Senate Republicans say they know almost nothing about Roy Moore, their wildly controversial candidate in the Alabama special election. But they really, really want him to be elected to the Senate.

What about Moore's history of racially insensitive comments? Haven't heard anything. Homophobic remarks? Nada. Moore's claim that some American communities are living under Sharia law? Crickets. Moore's statement that 9/11 happened "because we’ve distanced ourselves from God"? Nothing for you on that. Moore's assertion that Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress because he's a Muslim? We'll get back to you. Moore saying Mitch McConnell should be replaced as Senate majority leader? Uhh, zip.  http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/27/roy-moore-senate-republicans-no-comment-243220

13. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Lies About Taxes, Health Care Amid Cabinet Scandals: A Closer Look:  https://youtu.be/htpR770aP2k

Late Night with Seth Meyers: What Roy Moore and Donald Trump Have In Common: A Closer Look:  https://youtu.be/FtPKfYaqjv0

The Chaos President Cold Open - SNL:  https://youtu.be/7e4vFMJmBIc

The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper - Donald Trump's Hurricane Maria Response:  https://youtu.be/PQ2LolUh1wU

14. Late Night Jokes for Dems

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today said there isn’t anything to clarify about Trump’s position on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, because the issue is, quote, “pretty black and white.” And then she winked so hard, her podium fell over. -- Seth Meyers

This weekend, he launched an asymmetrical tweet assault against the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Here’s how it started: In response about the administration’s relief efforts, on Thursday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said this: “It is really a good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place.” You know you work for the Trump administration when one of the worst disasters in history seems like a good news story to you. -- Stephen Colbert

And that first tweet was just the tip of the douche-berg. Because he sent out 20 tweets about Puerto Rico this weekend. He continued: “Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.” Yes, Trump is blaming the victim. “I like islands that weren’t hit by a hurricane, OK? That’s what I like.” -- Stephen Colbert

15. Democrats Have a Big Enthusiasm Edge

Democrats have a 10-point ‘enthusiasm’ advantage over Republicans – 44% to 34%. What’s more, this gap is considerably larger than the one Republicans had at this point in 2009. Back in late October of 2009, Republicans had a one-point enthusiasm advantage.  http://cookpolitical.com/analysis/national/national-politics/divided-party-cannot-stand-or-can-it



16. Tax Plan’s Impact a Mystery for Middle Class, but Not for Trump

The clearest windfall comes from ending the estate tax, which only affects individual estates larger than $5.49 million and $11 million for couples. The estate tax is currently 40 percent. Trump has claimed in the past he is worth $10 billion. If his children inherit that amount, they’d save $4 billion in taxes.

In addition to a lower top rate on income tax, the proposal ends the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is designed to prevent wealthy filers from using deductions to wipe out their tax bill entirely. Trump has not released his taxes, but a leaked return from 2005 showed he paid $38 million in taxes on $150 million in income, $31 million of which was due to the AMT.  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/tax-plan-impact-mystery-middle-class-not-trump-n805331

17. With Tax Cuts on the Table, Once-Mighty Deficit Hawks Hardly Chirp

For years, Republican lawmakers lamented the soaring national debt, pressing for spending cuts and clinging to the mantle of fiscal responsibility. But last week, Senate Republicans hammered out a deal to allow for as much as $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, betting that supercharged growth will make up for lost revenue, a potentially dubious prospect.

This month, the majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted to raise the debt limit without doing anything to rein in spending.”

Republican lawmakers are pushing to increase military spending by tens of billions of dollars, topping even Mr. Trump’s request for a beefed-up military… And as Congress mulls large tax cuts, the tabs for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria keep rising.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/us/politics/trump-tax-cuts-deficit-republicans-congress.html

18. Twitter Was Used By Russia More Than Facebook

Since last month, researchers at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan initiative of the German Marshall Fund, a public policy research group in Washington, have been publicly tracking 600 Twitter accounts — human users and suspected bots alike — they have linked to Russian influence operations. Those were the accounts pushing the opposing messages on the N.F.L. and the national anthem.

Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent “had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,” the researchers found. About 15 percent were critical of Hillary Clinton, falsely accusing her of funding left-wing antifa — short for anti-fascist — protesters, tying her to the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 and discussing her daughter Chelsea’s use of Twitter. Eleven percent focused on wiretapping in the federal investigation into Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, with most of them treated the news as a vindication for President Trump’s earlier wiretapping claims.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/technology/twitter-russia-election.html

19. Oklahoma House Candidate Lists Online Porn in Campaign Expense Report

Jason Reese (R), who is running for the Oklahoma state House of Representatives, listed online pornography in his most recent campaign expense report, the Lost Ogle reports.

Reese later blamed the incident on “human error.”  https://www.thelostogle.com/2017/09/28/oklahoma-house-candidate-lists-online-porn-in-campaign-expense-report/

20. GOP Insurgency Plans for Civil War in 2018 Midterms

That populist rage in the base as Trump struggles to enact his priorities — which lifted former judge Roy Moore to victory on Tuesday against Trump’s ally, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) — now threatens to upend GOP incumbents in 2018 as the latest incarnation of Republican grievance takes hold.”

Stoked by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and his incendiary media platform, Breitbart News, a new wave of anti-establishment activists and contenders are emerging to plot a political insurrection that is with Trump in spirit but entirely out of his — or anyone’s — control.”

Central command is the ‘Breitbart Embassy,’ a Capitol Hill townhouse where Bannon has recently huddled with candidates, from House prospects to Senate primary recruits. Hedge fund executive Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah — Bannon’s wealthy allies — have already pledged millions to the cause, said people briefed on their plans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/with-or-without-trump-gop-insurgency-plans-for-a-civil-war-in-2018-midterms/2017/09/29/11fecb6c-a47a-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html

21. Trump kids' ski vacation incurs over $300,000 in security costs

“The annual Aspen ski vacation taken in March by President Trump’s children, Ivanka and Eric Trump, and their families, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, left taxpayers on the hook for security costs of at least $330,000,” CBS News reports.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-kids-ski-vacation-incurs-over-300000-in-security-costs/?linkId=42939789

22. Fine Print in the GOP’s Budget Would Help Rush a Tax Cut Through Congress

Buried in the fine print of the newly released Senate Republican budget: language making it much easier to rush a tax cut through Congress,” Bloomberg reports.

“The budget would erase a Senate rule requiring a full Congressional Budget Office estimate of the cost of the legislation at least 28 hours before a vote. It would get rid of a provision that required a Senate budget reconciliation bill to reduce the deficit by at least as much as a House reconciliation bill. That language caused headaches for Republicans during their failed Obamacare repeal effort.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-29/budget-fine-print-would-help-rush-tax-cut-through-u-s-congress

23. GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says

The Republican tax plan would deliver a major benefit to the top 1 percent of Americans, according to a new analysis by a leading group of nonpartisan tax experts that challenges the White House’s portrayal of its effects.

The plan would deliver far more modest tax cuts to most other households — an average cut of $1,700 for households in 2027… But the results would be unevnly spread, with 1 in 4 households paying more in taxes.”

“Despite repeated promises from Republican lawmakers that the plan is designed to provide relief to the middle class, nearly 30 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see a tax increase… The majority of households that made between $150,000 and $300,000 would see a tax increase.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/29/gop-tax-plan-would-provide-major-gains-for-richest-1-percent-and-uneven-benefits-for-the-middle-class-report-says/


24. Twitter and Facebook haven’t stopped Russia-backed RT from advertising on their websites

Twitter has continued to allow a Russian government-supported news network to advertise on its platform, even though the tech company sounded alarms about its ads to lawmakers investigating the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook, meanwhile, similarly has not shut down RT’s official pages, one of which boasts more than 4.5 million followers. Nor has Facebook targeted any new advertising restrictions against the news network.”  https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/03/twitter-and-facebook-havent-stopped-russia-backed-rt-from-advertising-on-their-websites.html


1. Paul Krugman: Trump’s Deadly Narcissism

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, a majority of Americans believe that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. That’s pretty remarkable. But you have to wonder how much higher the number would be if people really knew what’s going on.

For the trouble with Trump isn’t just what he’s doing, but what he isn’t. In his mind, it’s all about him — and while he’s stroking his fragile ego, basic functions of government are being neglected or worse.

Let’s talk about two stories that might seem separate: the deadly neglect of Puerto Rico, and the ongoing sabotage of American health care. What these stories have in common is that millions of Americans are going to suffer, and hundreds if not thousands die, because Trump and his officials are too self-centered to do their jobs.

Start with the disaster in Puerto Rico and the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.

When Hurricane Maria struck, more than a week ago, it knocked out power to the whole of Puerto Rico, and it will be months before the electricity comes back. Lack of power can be deadly in itself, but what’s even worse is that, thanks largely to the blackout, much of the population still lacks access to drinkable water. How many will die because hospitals can’t function, or because of diseases spread by unsafe water? Nobody knows.

But Trump spent days after Maria’s strike tweeting about football players. When he finally got around to saying something about Puerto Rico, it was to blame the territory for its own problems.

The impression one gets is of a massively self-centered individual who can’t bring himself to focus on other people’s needs, even when that’s the core of his job.

In short, Trump truly is unfit for this or any high office. And the damage caused by his unfitness will just keep growing.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/trumps-deadly-narcissism.html


2. NY Times Editorial: A Boondoggle Masquerading as Tax Reform

After months of secret negotiations, the Trump administration and congressional leaders have come up with a tax plan — sort of. What they have really come up with is a wish list of tax cuts for the wealthy, with lots of “we’ll get back to you on that” promises where the details are supposed to be.

This much is clear: The tax “framework” published by Republican leaders on Wednesday would greatly increase the federal deficit, would not turbocharge economic growth and could leave many middle-class families worse off by ending deductions they rely on. It would do little or nothing to improve the lot of the working class, a group President Trump says he is fighting for. It would instead provide a windfall to hedge fund managers, corporate executives, real estate developers and other members of the 1 percent. And can it be just a happy coincidence that Mr. Trump and his family would benefit “bigly” from this plan?

It’s hard to predict the economic impact of these skeletal proposals. But most experts agree that they could raise the federal budget deficit by trillions of dollars. As they have so many times in the past, Republicans will surely argue that the cuts would spur growth, and, in some measure, pay for themselves. This is the old supply-side hooey. In fact, over time the increased borrowing for unproductive tax cuts could depress growth by driving up interest rates.

There are important public purposes that could justify increasing the deficit — repairing the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, for instance, or paying for hurricane recovery efforts. Making the rich richer is not one of them.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/opinion/a-boondoggle-masquerading-as-tax-reform.html


3. Bill Scher: The Culture War President

Trump has all but given up on governing. He’s a full-time cultural warrior now.

In the wake of 9/11 and with the Iraq war not yet a year old, President George W. Bush bluntly described himself as a “war president” who makes “decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind.”

President Donald Trump is a war president of a different sort: a culture war president. As the New York Times reported this week, “In private, the president and his top aides freely admit that he is engaged in a culture war on behalf of his white, working-class base … against ‘politically correct’ coastal elites … He believes the war was foisted upon him by former President Barack Obama and other Democrats — and he is determined to win.”

Who is winning this culture war presidency? Trump feeds a base that lives to thwart further liberal advancements, but starves everyone else. Democrats ponder endlessly how to win back the hundreds of seats they’ve lost across the country and regain the support of white working class voters, but are constantly drawn into cultural battles that fire up their base but can alienate those very voters. It’s a stalemate—we’re all losing this war.

When viewed from a crude, narrow, electoral perspective, the culture war makes no political sense for anyone. It dominates cable news, electrifies Twitter, revs up partisans on both sides and drives fundraising. But neither party’s presidential candidate cracked 50 percent last year, so neither can feel sanguine about the potency of their base. Our endless and escalating fights over race, abortion, guns, sexuality and now football make it hard for either party to assemble a governing coalition.

Trump may be the aggressor, but the bases of both parties are effectively demanding this culture war be fought, regardless of the political consequences. That leaves Democratic leaders trying to win back white noncollege voters while remaining true to their multicultural principles. And it leaves Republicans, many of whom did not ask to be led by Trump and are privately embarrassed by their own voters, resigned to leading a party of white grievance in an increasingly diverse nation.

Tell me how this ends.  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/27/trump-culture-war-215653


4. Jonathan Chait: Trump, Roy Moore, and the Craven Surrender of the GOP Establishment

The long triumph of the far right in the Republican Party is a process of asymmetric warfare. The insurgents are willing to destroy the party in order to prevail, while the Establishment’s primary goal is to hold the party together. A war between a faction determined to win and a faction determined to patch things up can only have one outcome.

The nomination of Roy Moore is another marker in this ongoing struggle. Moore prevailed in his primary by attacking Mitch McConnell, whom the insurgents blame for undermining the Trump presidency. Moore has openly defied legal authority in service of his belief that his theology overrides the authority of the United States government. This ought to disqualify Moore for service in public office, the most minimal qualification for which is a profession of respect for the rule of law. And yet, rather than declaring Moore unfit to serve, Republicans have endorsed his candidacy. Their stated qualms are limited to the concern that he might fail to vote for their tax-cut plan.

The insurgents don’t have to make public displays of support for McConnell or Ryan or the party agenda. They advertise their opposition at every turn. The Establishment, on the other hand, is terrified of any schism, and willing to prostrate itself in the service of unity. A decade ago, Paul Ryan himself was the right-wing alternative to the party Establishment. The long rightward march has no end in sight.  http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trump-moore-and-the-craven-surrender-of-the-establishment.html

5. NY Times Editorial: Private Emails, Private Jets and Mr. Trump’s Idea of Public Service

Electing him, Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail, would “make every dream you ever dreamed for your country come true.” Among those reveries, he suggested, would be a government free of self-dealing and one devoted to public service. “If we want to make America great again,” he wrote in an op-ed for USA Today days before the election, “we must clean up this corruption.”

This ambition has all but vanished from Mr. Trump’s field of vision, assuming he ever meant it. Not least because of his own self-dealing — the hotel down the block, the failure to fully divorce himself from the Trump Organization, all the rest — the White House became ground zero for grasping lobbyists and ethically challenged, self-promoting staffers. So great was the back stabbing and chaos that, in July, Mr. Trump turned to an upright military figure, Retired Gen. John Kelly, to set things straight as chief of staff.

It has proved an impossible task. The tighter ship Mr. Kelly vowed to run seems to be springing ethical leaks almost daily, as more and more accounts surface of this or that official using public resources for private gain or crossing a line demarcating personal from government business.

On Monday, it emerged that at least six current and former top White House officials, including Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his daughter Ivanka Trump; and his chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, have been using private email accounts at least sporadically for government business. This is both dumb and richly paradoxical when one considers that Mr. Trump has continued to attack Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account and server as secretary of state, and has prodded his Justice Department to restart an inquiry that cleared her of criminal wrongdoing.

While the president whips up chants of “Lock her up” in red states, his daughter — one of the less credible “moderating” forces in White House history — has been tapping away on her personal email despite being an administration official. Personal emails are not illegal per se, as long as those about government business are forwarded to government accounts. Failure to do that is a potential violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act, which preserve public access to government documents..

In August, Mr. Kelly embarked on what he said would be a thorough housecleaning. Time now for him to round up top members of the administration for an all-hands lecture on the difference between public service and self-enrichment, and the importance of sunlight as a disinfectant. Sadly, though, they seem to have already absorbed a more persuasive lesson from the chief executive — get it while you can and to hell with the rules.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/editorials/tom-price-plane-trump-cabinet.html


6. Paul Waldman: Trump says he won't benefit from his tax plan. That's nonsense.

President Trump wants you to know that his push for tax cuts isn't about him. As he said during his big unveiling on Wednesday, the new tax proposal is only to help "low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want. It's not going to help. I'm doing the right thing, and it's not good for me. Believe me."

If you've been paying close attention for the last couple of years, you know that when Trump says the words "believe me," it is a clear signal that he's lying. This is no exception.

Trump has been adamant that he won't profit from his tax plan. Asked by a reporter whether he'd benefit from the plan, the president responded, "No, I don't benefit. I don't benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, there's no — I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth."

There is one way that might possibly be true: if Trump pays no taxes at all, in which case his taxes can't go down any further. Of course, it's impossible to know for sure, since unlike every president in the last half-century, he refuses to release his tax returns. But if we set aside that no-tax possibility, we can look at the plan to see the ways Trump and other rich people would get a windfall from the changes he wants to make to the tax code. And there are plenty.  http://theweek.com/articles/727647/trump-says-wont-benefit-from-tax-plan-thats-nonsense

7. Charles M. Blow: Divert, Divide, Destroy

In one week’s time, President Trump has again demonstrated that his sympathies stretch no further than his personal fortunes and personal favors.

Last week, Trump diverted attention from his dying health reform plan and failing Republican senatorial choice in Alabama by denigrating N.F.L. players protesting for racial justice and equality. That got people talking, and arguing. It was all over TV, Trump’s gauge of all things good.

Furthermore, Trump saw the issue as a winning one for him. Indeed, a CNN/SSRS poll released Friday found that about half of respondents overall and nearly nine in 10 Republicans believed that “protesting players are doing the wrong thing to express their political opinion when they kneel during the National Anthem.”

But I would argue that first, if a majority agreed with a protest it would partially negate the need to protest, and second, majorities are not the measure of what is moral.

Using the majority-equals-morality argument, Bull Connor was on the right side of the civil rights protests. According to Gallup polls conducted in the early 1960s, a majority of Americans disapproved of the “freedom riders,” and thought “sit-ins” at lunch counters, “freedom buses” and other demonstrations were more likely to hurt than help integration in the South.

So Trump ran with his crusade against the players, even as he paid little attention to the suffering of millions of American citizens on the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico. (They are not Trump’s base. They can only vote in primaries, and in the Republican primary there last year, Marco Rubio trounced Trump.)  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/opinion/columnists/divert-divide-destroy.html


8. Bloomberg Editors: Trump's Cynical Betrayal of Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act needs repair, not sabotage.

Annoyed by Congress's failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is redoubling its efforts to undermine the law. The latest act of sabotage: Top federal health officials have been told not to help states sign up Americans for insurance policies as part of this fall's open enrollment period. 

Reducing the number of people who buy policies will raise premiums for those who do. And the administration has already done plenty on that score -- by signaling it may weaken enforcement of the requirement to have insurance, by repeatedly (and falsely) claiming that the law is collapsing, and, most of all, by routinely threatening to stop reimbursing insurers for lowering out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers.

For good measure, the administration is cutting Affordable Care Act advertising by 90 percent and closing the federal insurance exchange -- which serves 39 states -- on Sunday mornings. For maintenance, you understand.

This behavior is spiteful, irresponsible and a violation of the Constitution's insistence that the president "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." And it will inflict needless added expense on American taxpayers.

The administration and congressional Republicans should be working with Democrats to fix Obamacare's flaws and strengthen the U.S. health-care system. This comprehensive effort to wreck, as opposed to repair, the Affordable Care Act is a cynical betrayal of the public's trust.  https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-29/trump-s-cynical-betrayal-of-obamacare

9. Matthew Yglesias: Puerto Rico is all our worst fears about Trump becoming real

For the first nine months of Donald Trump’s administration, observers have had occasion to wonder — and wonder, and wonder, and wonder — how exactly he would manage to handle a real crisis imposed by external events rather than his own impulsiveness. The answer is now apparent in the blackened streets of San Juan and the villages of interior Puerto Rico that, more than a week after Hurricane Maria struck, remain without access to food or clean water.

To an extent, the United States of America held up surprisingly well from Inauguration Day until September 20 or so. The ongoing degradation of American civic institutions, at a minimum, did not have an immediate negative impact on the typical person’s life.

But the world is beginning to draw a straight line from the devastation in Puerto Rico to the White House. Trump’s instinct so far is to turn the island’s devastation into another front in culture war politics, a strategy that could help his own political career survive.

The rest of us will just have to pray for good luck.

We’re witnessing the Trump administration at peak performance, and it’s appalling. Bismarck supposedly said that God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America. If we’re lucky, he’ll be proven right, and nothing much else bad will happen for the next three years. If not, buckle your seat belts.  https://www.vox.com/2017/10/1/16390006/puerto-rico-trump


10. Doyle McManus: Promise the moon, deliver tax cuts for the wealthy

“My plan is for the working people,” the president said. “There’s very little benefit for people of wealth.” Including, emphatically, himself: “I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit.”

Except he does. Trump and his family would benefit in at least four ways from his plan. The top tax rate on any regular income they earned would drop from 39.6% to 35%. The top rate on the profits of the Trump Organization, their family firm, would drop to an even lower 25%. They no longer would have to worry about the Alternative Minimum Tax, which cost Trump $31 million in 2005. And the president’s heirs no longer would face the estate tax, which could have cost them as much as $1.1 billion, according to the New York Times.Other billionaires would benefit from those provisions too, and other breaks as well. So much for the wealthy getting “very little.”

Some kind of tax cut still appears likely to pass, for the simple reason that many Republicans believe their political survival depends on it.

“It’s the difference between succeeding as a party and failing,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said last week. “It’s the difference between having a majority in 2018 or losing it. It’s the difference between one term and two.”

But wait. Didn’t he say that during the healthcare fight too?  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-tax-plan-20171001-story.html


11. Timothy Egan: The Trump Fog Machine

Do you remember what monstrous, contemptible or demonstrably false thing Donald Trump said one year ago? Six months ago? O.K., last week? Probably not. The effect of this presidency-by-horrors is to induce amnesia in the public, as if we’d all been given a memory-loss drug.

To recap: A year ago, Trump lied repeatedly in his first debate with Hillary Clinton, and was reminded that he had called women pigs, slobs and dogs. Six months go, he settled for $25 million two lawsuits and a fraud case regarding his phony university, a huckster scheme that duped people out of their personal savings. And last week, he unleashed an attack on the free-speech rights of athletes, using a profanity that could not be repeated on the news without a warning to children.

It’s. All. Going. According. To. Plan. The Trump presidency is a monumental failure on multiple levels. None of what he has promised — the wall, paid for by Mexico, repealing Obamacare, “so much winning” — has been achieved. He’s made much of the world hate us, and a majority of his fellow citizens believe that he is unfit for office.

What’s been forgotten at times in the blur of bloviation is astonishing. Possibly colluding with Russia to hijack an American election. Firing the F.B.I. director who was looking into that maze of questions. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord. Rolling back protections for clean air, water and workplace safety. Losing half his staff to scandal, deceit or overt idiocy.

He has made a joke of civility, promoted bullying and sexual assault by his words. He pardons one criminal, a racist sheriff found guilty of contempt of court, and implies that he would do the same thing for the people around him who may have sold their country out to Russia.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/opinion/trump-agenda-distraction-.html

12. Paul Waldman: America's most radical gun nuts are the Republicans in Congress

The American people are, as a whole, reasonably sane when it comes to guns. But we have the craziest gun laws in the developed world. Why is that? The biggest reason is the pernicious influence of a group of radical activists who would rather thousands upon thousands of Americans die every year from gun violence than the country take even the most modest steps to try to rein in the carnage.

I speak not of the National Rifle Association, as important as it is. No, I'm talking about the Republican Party, particularly its politicians who populate the U.S. Congress and state legislatures around the country.

Perhaps the two most critical facts about horrific mass shootings like the one that happened in Las Vegas are that they are made possible by our lax gun laws, and that they aren't the heart of our real gun problem. There's a reason that events like this one are vanishingly rare outside the United States, and it isn't that Americans are an inherently homicidal people. People murder each other all over the world, with whatever means they have at their disposal; the difference is that Americans can get their hands on as much weaponry as they want.

The daily parade of dead bodies from gun violence produces no new laws to address the problem. The reason is simple: One of our two great parties, the one that happens to control Congress and most state legislatures at the moment, is categorically opposed to any law that might restrict gun rights in any way.  http://theweek.com/articles/728279/americas-most-radical-gun-nuts-are-republicans-congress#