ON THE RECORD. . .
“I think that the Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia. They have a blind spot on Russia I still can’t figure out.” -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Meet the Press..
“We need you to take this seriously. Our democracy is at stake. Elections matter. Voting matters. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t sit this one out.” — Former President Barack Obama in Richmond, VA. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/19/obama-virginia-campaign-trail-ralph-northam-trump-243976.
Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)? -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump suggesting that the FBI, Democrats and Russia might be co-conspirators.
“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never, ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we’re going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
I do think, when you’re having the kind of issue we’re having with North Korea where we have a very unstable leader there, when you send out tweets into the region to raise tension, when you kneecap your secretary of state whose diplomacy you have to depend upon … you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war. -- Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show:
“By my count, Trump has personally attacked 11 senators — or, roughly, 21% of the entire 52 person GOP conference between his time as a candidate and his nine months in the White House.” -- Chris Cillizza
“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him. I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.” -- Former Fox News host Bill O’Reillyblaming God for the sexual misconduct allegations he’s faced in recent months.
“It’s not exactly a news flash at this point that Donald Trump isn’t very fluent on questions of public policy, but his interview over the weekend with Fox Business Channel’s Maria Bartiromo is really a sobering reminder of the levels of ignorance and dishonesty that the country is dealing with.” -- Matthew Yglesias
“We must stop pretending that the degradation of politics in our executive branch are normal, they’re not normal… it’s reckless, outrageous, and undignified… it’s dangerous to our democracy.” — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Trump will be most remembered for “the debasement of our nation. I think at the end of the day, when his term is over. I think the debasing of our nation, the constant not truth telling, just the name calling, the things… I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for and that’s regretful.” -- Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
"I wasn’t part of any conversations about the initiation of these new investigations so I can’t comment on what meetings or discussions took place. But I can say this. There are three committees involved in these new investigations: Judiciary Committee, Government Reform Committee, and the Intelligence Committee. This had to be orchestrated with the approval of the speaker of the House. So this is a partisan effort to distract. It’s a partisan effort aligned with what the White House has been urging, and Fox and Breitbart and which there was no consultation with the Democrats in Congress. And I think that tells you all need to know about whether this is good faith or not." -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on the GOP investigations of Hillary.
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Says He Is Only President in History with Courage to Stand Up to War Widows
Trump Says He Is Only President in History with Courage to Stand Up to War Widows
Calling himself “unbelievably brave,” Donald Trump said on Monday that he is the only President in U.S. history with the courage to stand up to war widows.
“You look at guys like Obama and Clinton and the Bushes, when it came to war widows, they all blinked,” he said. “For years, we weren’t winning at widows.”
In contrast, Trump said, he has made defeating war widows one of his top priorities as President. “Forget about Iran and China and Little Rocket Man,” he said. “This country has been pushed around by war widows for far too long.”
Trump said that Senator John McCain, who has mocked the President’s draft-dodging during Vietnam, has “never shown an ounce of courage when it comes to fighting war widows.”
ELSEWHERE: In a stirring defense of Donald Trump’s chief of staff, General John Kelly, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Friday that it was “unpatriotic in the extreme” to offer irrefutable video proof that a four-star general lied.
“General Kelly has served our country with courage and valor,” she said. “He has earned the right to lie without fear of being contradicted by the facts.”
Minutes after Sanders concluded her remarks, Kelly also received a vote of confidence from Trump, who called his chief of staff “a good liar, for a beginner.”https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/
2. These are the Facebook posts Russia used to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign
By meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Moscow appears to have initially aimed to plant Donald Trump in the White House. But as signs toward the end of the campaign pointed to Trump’s defeat, actors in Russia were primarily trying to hamstring Hillary Clinton’s perceived ascension to the presidency. That theme ThinkProgress detailed earlier this week by analyzing Russia’s creation of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, pumped via ads and promotion into Americans’ feeds.
Anti-Clinton rhetoric shone through on the “Heart of Texas” page, a Russian account that advocated for Texas secession. When the page, which was the most popular Texas secession account on Facebook, wasn’t pushing to break Texas off from the rest of the U.S., it was railing against Clinton’s campaign, policies, and personality.
One post described Clinton as “pure evil,” while another shared an obviously photoshopped picture of her shaking hands with Osama bin Laden. Another post exclaimed “Hillary for prison!”, saying that Clinton “committed so many crimes that lifelong prison sentence is the least of what she deserves [sic].” All but one of these posts were published in the run-up to the election.
3. Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election
Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. pushed messages from an account operated from Russia’s ‘troll farm’—including allegations of voter fraud a week before Election Day.
Some of the Trump campaign’s most prominent names and supporters, including Trump’s campaign manager, digital director, and son, pushed tweets from professional trolls paid by the Russian government in the heat of the 2016 election campaign.
The Twitter account @Ten_GOP, which called itself the “Unofficial Twitter account of Tennessee Republicans,” was operated from the Kremlin-backed “Russian troll farm,” or Internet Research Agency, a source familiar with the account confirmed with The Daily Beast.
The account’s origins in the Internet Research Agency were originally reported by the independent Russian news outlet RBC. @Ten_GOP was created on Nov. 19, 2015, and accumulated over 100 thousand followers before Twitter shut it down. The Daily Beast independently confirmed the reasons for @Ten_GOP’s account termination.
The discovery of the now-unavailable tweets presents the first evidence that several members of the Trump campaign pushed covert Russian propaganda on social media in the run-up to the 2016 election. https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-campaign-staffers-pushed-russian-propaganda-days-before-the-election
4. WA Post VIDEO: How Russian operatives used Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 election
5. The Trump Budget Legacy: A Permanent $1 Trillion Federal Deficit
The U.S. Treasury Department reported last Friday that the federal budget deficit for the just-completed fiscal year had risen by $80 billion over fiscal 2016 to the ominous-sounding $666 billion, a number many people think is an omen for the coming of the devil or anti-Christ.
In this case they may be right: The spending and taxing policies about to be put in place by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress will balloon the federal deficit to $1 trillion or more every year going forward. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/10/22/the-trump-budget-legacy-a-permanent-1-trillion-federal-deficit/#7abaa6287a65
6. Trump pick for top environmental post called belief in global warming a 'kind of paganism'
Trump’s nominee to be the White House senior adviser for environmental policy, Kathleen Hartnett White, in 2016 described the belief in “global warming” as a “kind of paganism” for “secular elites.”
Hartnett White, currently a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, has long expressed skepticism about established climate science and once dismissed the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, calling it ‘the gas of life on this planet.'”
As head of the Council on Environmental Quality, Hartnett White would oversee environmental and energy policies across the government. http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/politics/kfile-kathleen-hartnett-white-paganism/index.html
7. How Trump Is Poisoning World Trade
How many poison pills does it take to kill a trade deal? Three, according to Donald Trump. Mexico and Canada are bending over backwards to preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement. But their tolerance for Mr Trump’s demands is wearing thin. It seems a matter of time before he declares America’s exit from ‘the worst trade deal ever.’ The temptation to withdraw from the World Trade Organization will grow as Mr Trump’s term wears on. Anyone who thinks he has dropped his vow to rip up the global trading system has not been paying attention.”
Such tactics are the opposite of the art-of-the-deal image Mr Trump has spun. According to that playbook, Mr Trump opens with extravagant demands that force his counterparties to improve their offers. The final deal is far better than had he begun with a realistic gambit. Yet when Mr Trump refuses to dilute his outrageous opening offer, the suspicion arises that he never wanted a deal. That, indeed, has been his approach to almost every negotiation. https://politicalwire.com/2017/10/19/trump-poisoning-world-trade/
8.Trump keeps his focus on outrage
Trump “was expected to spend the fall pushing his ambitious tax reform agenda and helping devastated regions in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico recover from hurricanes.
Instead, over a period of three weeks, Trump has hammered the NFL into submission over the national anthem protests, repeatedly attacked the “fake news” media and now reopened a fight over his — and his predecessor’s — handling of Gold Star families.
But these seeming distractions are the president’s substance — and the legislative agenda his predecessors have approached with a singular focus is, for him, largely a diversion.
“He thinks he was elected on this stuff, this is the stuff he knows how to talk about, and this is the stuff that would make the front page of the New York Post,” said Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of National Review. “The problem is, is that the job is still the job.” http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/18/trump-widows-flag-anthem-243928
9. The DAILY GRILL
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.” -- George W. Bush delivering what sounded like a sustained rebuke to President Trump, decrying nationalism, protectionism and the coarsening of public debate while calling for a robust response to Russian interference in American democracy.
“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s ... Bush has no earthly idea of whether he’s coming or going… just like it was when he was president.” -- Stephen Bannon responding to Former President G.W. Bush's speech in New York. https://www.apnews.com/844e89cbdf5941dd8b509228ec3cab4f/Bannon-faults-George-W.-Bush-for-'destructive'-presidency
... @BillOreilly: “Sean Hannity kicking serious butt in the ratings. Tapper on CNN as low as you can go.”
… @jaketapper: “‘Low’ would be sexually harassing staffers and then getting fired for it -- humiliated in front of the world. Now THAT would be low.”
"A congresswoma (Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)) stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money—the twenty million dollars— to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned. But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, “O.K., fine.”” -- WH Chief of Staff General Kelly
Rep. Wilson called Kelly’s description of her speech a “lie,” noting that funding for the building had been secured before she ever took office and that she only helped to pass legislation naming the building after two slain FBI agents. The video from the Sun Sentinel supported Wilson’s version of events.
“I would say it’s a 10.” -- Trump saying the federal response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico deserves a grade of 10 out of 10.
“If it’s a 10 out of a scale of 100, of course, it’s a failing grade.-- San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz
Trump: “ISIS strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa” have been liberated “as a result” of orders he gave to U.S. commanders during his first days in office. “We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years."
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter: The plan to retake Raqqa from ISIS was actually laid out two years ago, “and has been executed pretty much in the manner and the schedule that was foreseen then.”
“The intelligence community's assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election,” Pompeo said. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/19/mike-pompeo-cia-russia-influence-election-243967
We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion. -- Director of National Intelligence assessment. https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf
10. Federal judge refuses to erase Joe Arpaio’s conviction despite Trump pardon
“A federal judge shot down former sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid to sweep his criminal record clean,” the Washington Post reports.
“In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said the pardon only freed Arpaio from possible punishment. In a four-page order offering a check on the president’s executive power, Bolton wrote that a pardon could not erase the facts of the case.
“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping,” Bolton wrote in the decision. “To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction. The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/20/federal-judge-refuses-to-erase-joe-arpaios-conviction-despite-trump-pardon/
11. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
Hannity conspiracy theory: Christopher Steele paid Russians "to give false stories about Donald Trump, with hookers in the Ritz" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/10/19/hannity-conspiracy-theory-christopher-steele-paid-russians-give-false-stories-about-donald-trump/218273
Breitbart adopts Ed Gillespie’s spin in attempt to link sanctuary cities to murder of Muslim teenager https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/10/19/breitbart-adopts-ed-gillespie-s-spin-attempt-link-sanctuary-cities-murder-muslim-teenager/218268
Fox's Tucker Carlson is mad about an undocumented teen paying for her own abortion. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/10/19/foxs-tucker-carlson-mad-about-undocumented-teen-paying-her-own-abortion/218271
Trump tweet about UK crime and Muslims mirrors segment the One America News Network (OANN) which has a history of shilling for Trump and pushing shameful Seth Rich conspiracy theories. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/10/20/trump-tweet-about-uk-crime-and-muslims-mirrors-segment-conspiracy-mongering-network-oann/218281
12. How Fiction Becomes Fact on Social Media
Agents with links to the Russian government set up an endless array of fake accounts and websites and purchased a slew of advertisements on Google and Facebook, spreading dubious claims that seemed intended to sow division all along the political spectrum — “a cultural hack,” in the words of one expert.
Yet the psychology behind social media platforms — the dynamics that make them such powerful vectors of misinformation in the first place — are at least as important, experts say, especially for those who think they’re immune to being duped. For all the suspicions about social media companies’ motives and ethics, it is the interaction of the technology with our common, often subconscious psychological biases that make so many of us vulnerable to misinformation, and this has largely escaped notice.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/health/social-media-fake-news.html
13. ‘My pain is everyday’: After Weinstein’s fall, Trump accusers wonder: Why not him?
The Weinstein scandal, which has featured graphic accounts of assault from a string of celebrity accusers, has sparked a national debate about sexual harassment. Many women, inspired by a #MeToo campaign, have taken to social media to tell their own stories, and calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline have risen sharply.
But for Trump’s accusers, the renewed debate offers a reminder that their allegations did not have the same effect.
Trump, unlike Weinstein, was able to deflect their claims — despite the disclosure of a video in which he was heard bragging about the kind of behavior some of the women had alleged. Trump has never followed through with his vow to sue his accusers or produce the ‘substantial evidence’ he said would refute their claims. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/my-pain-is-everyday-after-weinsteins-fall-trump-accusers-wonder-why-not-him/2017/10/21/bce67720-b585-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html
14. America, armed and dangerous - how severe is the problem?
It's worse than in any other nation in the civilized world. Every day, an average of 300 Americans are shot. There were 36,252 firearm deaths in the U.S. in 2015 — including 22,018 suicides and 12,979 homicides — and at least 85,000 injuries.
Every day, an average of nearly two women are shot dead by their partners. Nearly 6,000 children are shot each year, a fifth accidentally, with 1,300 fatalities. Since 1982, there have been 81 mass shootings — using the definition in which four or more victims die in a public incident — including three this year. (Under an alternative definition of four or more people shot in one incident, there have been 273 mass shootings so far this year.)
Over the past 50 years, more Americans have been killed by guns than in all the wars in the nation's history. The U.S. "suffers disproportionately from firearms," says Erin Grinshteyn, author of a recent study on U.S. gun violence. "They are killing us rather than protecting us." http://theweek.com/articles/731863/america-armed-dangerous
15. Donald Trump's Approval Rating Plunges As Popularity Nears All-Time Low In Latest Polls
Trump's approval rating neared his all-time low in the Gallup poll. The latest figure in Gallup's tracking survey,<http://news.gallup.com/poll/201617/gallup-daily-trump-job-approval.aspx> released Thursday, pegged Trump's approval at just 35 percent, down from 38 percent at this point last week. He's just one percentage point higher than his lowest rating ever of 34 percent. To make matters worse for the commander-in-chief, Trump's disapproval was nearing his all-time high, as well. It stood at 60 percent, just one percentage point off from his all-time high of 61 percent in early September. The Gallup poll surveys 1,500 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-approval-rating-popularity-low-latest-polls-690138l
16. Congress On Track for Another Shutdown Showdown
Don’t look now, but it’s becoming a real possibility that the government will shut down in December. Congress has until midnight on December 15 to pass a spending bill or the federal government will run out of money.”
The tricky thing is that Republicans need at least eight Democrats in the Senate to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to pass a bill, which means they will need to make some serious compromises to get a spending bill through. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/23/16492584/government-shutdown-explained
17. EPA Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists
The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island.
The move highlights widespread concern that the E.P.A. will silence government scientists from speaking publicly or conducting work on climate change. Scott Pruitt, the agency administrator, has said that he does not believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/climate/epa-scientists.html
18. Hopes Dim for Congressional Russia Inquiries
All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems, from insufficient staffing to fights over when the committees should wrap up their investigations. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find.
Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/us/politics/russia-investigation-congress-intelligence-committees-gowdy.html
19. $300m Puerto Rico Recovery Contract Awarded to Tiny Utility Company Linked to Major Trump Donor
Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.
Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents. https://www.thedailybeast.com/dollar300m-puerto-rico-recovery-contract-awarded-to-tiny-utility-company-linked-to-major-trump-donor
20. Late Night Jokes for Dems
President Trump is planning to release a treasure trove, thousands of classified documents connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is of intense interest to historians and conspiracy theorists. This is a bombshell. The real killer is not Lee Harvey Oswald. It was a 16-year-old Hillary Clinton. Isn’t that something? -- Jimmy Kimmel
The White House released a statement saying the president believes the documents should be made available in the interest of full transparency. His tax returns, however, will remain secret forever, no matter what. -- Jimmy Kimmel
Over the weekend, Sen. John McCain appeared to take a swipe at Donald Trump’s lack of military service. He said that during the Vietnam War a lot of rich people got out of the draft by claiming they had bone spurs. And as you may know Donald Trump famously got out of service in Vietnam due to bone spurs. Now, if you don’t know what bone spurs are, don’t worry, Donald Trump doesn’t know either. -- James Corden
But seriously, bone spurs can make walking very difficult, unless you carry a bag of golf clubs; apparently, then it’s fine. -- James Corden
Trump got out of going to Vietnam five times, and now he’s the president of the United States. So including the World Series, 2017 has been a great year for dodgers. -- James Corden
Did you guys see this conspiracy theory that was going around the internet last week? People claim that Melania Trump had a body double impersonate her during an appearance with her husband. And if you think that is weird, Donald Trump has been impersonating a president for almost a year. -- James Corden
The latest rumor in Washington is President Trump is looking for a replacement for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. After hearing the job entails constant trips out of the country, Melania volunteered. -- Conan O’Brien
Trump announced that he will release over 3,000 classified files relating to the Kennedy assassination. Spoiler alert: Apparently Hillary did it. -- James Corden
21. Tax Cuts Are the Glue Holding a Fractured Republican Party Together
The Republican tax plan is a bit like having a baby to save a failing marriage.
With divisions roiling the party, the prospect of a once-in-a-generation bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals increasingly appears to be the last, best hope for a fractured establishment desperate to find common ground and advance an effort it has long championed as the pinnacle of Republican orthodoxy.
But even in this policy refuge, tensions are sure to rise as the details of a formal tax plan spill out. On Wednesday, a top House Republican said that changes to retirement savings were still being considered, even after Mr. Trump declared Monday that “there will be NO change to your 401(k).” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/us/politics/republican-party-tax-cuts.html
22. Trump purges enemies and reshapes party in his image
Donald Trump is squeezing out his enemies in the Republican Party — diminishing the power of the GOP establishment and reshaping his party in his own image.
With the looming exits of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Trump will rid himself of his two most outspoken Republican detractors. What happens before they depart in 2019 — Flake and Corker demonstrated Tuesday they are fully emboldened now to take on the president without fear of consequences — could determine the success or failure of the GOP-controlled Congress through the 2018 midterms.
But in the short term, there is no question: Trump, and his former strategist and now-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, are winning. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/24/trump-republicans-corker-flake-purge-244139
1. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ): Enough
The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well.
After Welch said his piece, the hearing room erupted in applause, those in attendance seemingly shocked by such bracing moral clarity in the face of a moral vandal. Someone had finally spoken up and said: Enough.
By doing so, Welch reawakened the conscience of the country. The moment was a shock to the system, a powerful dose of cure for an American democracy that was questioning its values during a time of global tumult and threat. We had temporarily forgotten who we were supposed to be.
We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be.
There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious.
How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?
How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?
How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?
How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?
Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/enough--it-is-time-to-stand-up-to-trump/2017/10/24/12488ee4-b908-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html
2. Max Boot: Republicans Have Stockholm Syndrome, and It’s Getting Worse
The lobotomization of the Republican Party appeared complete last year when the same GOP paladins who had denounced Donald Trump as a “lunatic trying to get ahold of nuclear weapons” (Marco Rubio), as a bigot who was guilty of “the textbook definition of a racist comment” (Paul Ryan), and as a “narcissist,” “serial philanderer,” “pathological liar,” and “bully” (Ted Cruz) nevertheless endorsed him for the most powerful position in the world. Tragedy turned to farce (or is it the other way around?) after the emergence of the “grab ‘em by the pussy” tape on October 7, 2016. Republicans such as Sens. John Thune, Mike Crapo, and Deb Fischer called for Trump to leave the race on the grounds that he was unfit for office, only to change their minds and re-endorse him when it became evident that he was still polling strongly among base voters.
But the Republicans’ race to the bottom — to the absolute lowest moral and intellectual depths — wasn’t over last year, and it’s not over now. It’s still continuing, with even supposedly “normal,” “moderate,” “mainstream” Republicans increasingly echoing Trump’s know-nothing effusions. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/19/republicans-have-stockholm-syndrome-and-its-getting-worse/
3. Charles Blow: Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying …
It is a commonly accepted rule among those who are in the business of argument, especially online, that he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument.
The reference is deemed far too extreme, too explosive, too far beyond rational correlation. No matter how bad a present-day politician, not one of them has charted or is charting a course to exterminate millions of innocent people as an act of ethnic cleansing.
Hitler stands alone in this regard, without rival, a warning to the world about how evil and lethal human beings can be, a warning that what he did can never be allowed again.
That said, there are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others.
Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance. Demagogy has a fixed design. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/trump-isnt-hitler-but-the-lying.html
4. Matt Bai: Silent Republicans have their reasons. They don't have an excuse.
Whatever his impact may be on the country or the world, Donald Trump’s presidency imperils the future of his party, and there isn’t a serious-minded Republican in Washington who would tell you otherwise, privately.
Trump doesn’t care what happens to Republicans after he’s gone. The party was always like an Uber to him — a way to get from point A to point B without having to find some other route or expend any cash.
Which leads to the question I hear all the time these days. Why aren’t more Republicans separating themselves from Trump? And why aren’t they doing more with the power they have to get in his way?
Key takeaway: “The real fear for most elected officials in Washington isn’t that they may say something to offend persuadable voters… No, the fear now, if you’re sitting on either end of the Capitol, is that some no-name activist will decide to primary you, because you’ve somehow run afoul of extremists with followings on Twitter and Facebook, and you’ll have to spend all your time and money holding onto a job that you might very well lose, since it takes only one fringe group or millionaire and a few thousand angry voters to tip the balance in your average congressional primary. https://www.yahoo.com/news/silent-republicans-reasons-dont-excuse-090011049.html
5. Robert L. Borosage: The Republican Plan to Rob America
The Republican tax plan is a lie. It’s being sold with the promise that the tax cut will create jobs and growth. In fact, the Republican tax cuts, if passed, will become the major obstacle to the very investments vital to generating good jobs and future economic growth.
Contrary to Donald Trump’s claims, the rich and big corporations will pocket the vast bulkof the tax cuts, not working people. The tax cuts won’t pay for themselves. They will increase the deficit. By 2027, one in four taxpayers will end up paying more. And for 80 percent of Americans, the tax cut they do get would be so small that it will go virtually unnoticed in most households. For example, the Tax Policy Center estimates that in 2027, the 27 million households with children and incomes under $75,000 will receive an average tax cut of all of $20 when the provisions are in full effect.
Americans get this. Fewer than one-third think they will end up paying less under the Republican plan, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll; about the same number think they’ll end up paying more. By a 41-28 margin, Americans know the rich will end up paying less, rather than more. Yet a plurality, 44 percent, thinks the tax cuts will have a “positive impact on the US economy,” while only 24 percent think the tax cuts will have a negative impact. The big lie still works. https://www.thenation.com/article/the-republican-plan-to-rob-america/
6. George Zornick: Trump’s Latest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Pass His Own Tax Plan
he Senate passed a budget resolutionThursday night that paves the way for a gargantuan $1.5 trillion tax cut. In a broad sense, the Republican tax plan is a massive heist: a historical upward redistribution of wealth that would benefit corporations and very rich Americans at the expense of many domestic spending priorities.
But on a smaller scale, the tax plan is also more standard, grubby-type graft, because by passing it, President Trump and the members of his administration will earn billions of dollars. Trump’s cabinet already has more wealth than the combined wealth of one-third of Americans, and so naturally it will reap the rewards of a tax plan aimed at helping the already rich.
A partial analysis of of Trump cabinet members’ finances and the GOP tax plan released this week by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that by eliminating the estate tax alone Trump and his cabinet would save over $3.5 billion. Trump, Betsy DeVos, and Jared Kushner would save many millions more thanks to the GOP tax plan’s pass-through corporation provisions.
The biggest winner would be the president himself. The Trump Corporation—which he very notably has not divested from—is one big tangle of LLCs, S-corps, and other pass-through entities. In 2016, Trump said in his financial disclosure forms that he earned $150 million from these businesses. That would get him a $23 million prize for passing just this particular provision of his tax plan, on top of the $1.15 billion tax cut his family would receive from ending the estate tax. https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-latest-get-rich-quick-scheme-pass-his-own-tax-plan/
7. Peggy Noonan: Trump May Be Following Palin’s Trajectory
The president has been understandably confident in his supporters. They appreciate his efforts, admire his accomplishments (Justice Neil Gorsuch, ISIS’ setbacks), claim bragging rights for possibly related occurrences (the stock market’s rise), and feel sympathy for him as an outsider up against the swamp. They see his roughness as evidence of his authenticity, so he doesn’t freak them out every day. In this they are like Sarah Palin’s supporters, who saw her lack of intellectual polish as proof of sincerity. At her height, in 2008, she had almost the entire Republican Party behind her, and was pushed forward most forcefully by those who went on to lead Never Trump. But in time she lost her place through antic statements, intellectual thinness and general strangeness.
The same may well happen—or be happening—with Donald Trump.
One reason is that there is no hard constituency in America for political incompetence, and that is what he continues to demonstrate. https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-may-be-following-palins-trajectory-1508454875
8. Ed Kilgore: GOP Deficit Hawkery Dies in the Dark of Night
But all the GOP deficit-hawkery that reigned during the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency vanished literally overnight, as the House leadership agreed to surrender to the Senate budget resolution’s abandonment of both spending cuts and deficit neutrality. Under a late-night amendment that Senate Budget Committee chairman Mike Enzi offered with Paul Ryan’s blessings, the House will be able to skip a House-Senate conference committee and go straight to a quick vote to rubber-stamp the Senate’s handiwork. And that will include a minimum $1.5 trillion boost in the budget deficit and no major spending cuts. Indeed, the big concession House conservatives appear to have gotten from the Senate is an understanding that the GOP will later pursue a suspension of spending “caps” in order to boost defense spending. Such tough guys!
If past behavior is any indication, before long we will hear Republicans justify their tax-cutting, deficit-ignoring conduct with a new iteration of the infamous “starve the beast” theory: that by cutting taxes, they are increasing the pressure for future spending cuts which fortunately for them they need not identify at the moment. They will also, of course, repeat the familiar if discredited claim that the enormous, historic growth their tax cuts will unleash is certain to boost revenues in a way that is sure to cancel most if not all the negative implications for the budget deficit.
More-honest Republicans might finally admit once and for all that in their hierarchy of values, fiscal restraint and deficit and debt reduction rank very low whenever they come into conflict with the root conservative belief that both justice and prosperity are served by letting markets determine the distribution of wealth, with minimal interference from government and minimal deference to millennia of religious and ethical condemnations of economic inequality. Next time they claim otherwise, the rest of us should just laugh. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/10/gop-deficit-hawkery-dies-in-the-dark-of-night.html
9. Baltimore Sun Editorial: Trump tax cuts: A 'win' for the GOP, a disaster for the rest of us
With the Senate’s passage of a budget framework on Thursday night, Republicans hope to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code by Christmas. What that “sweeping overhaul” entails, however, we don’t really know, except that it cannot possibly live up to all that President Donald Trump has promised. His biggest tax cut in history will put $4,000 to $9,000 in the pockets of average families, spur massive economic growth and lead to a balanced budget within eight years. Or so he says.
No question, U.S. tax code needs simplification and reform. Virtually everybody agrees about that — an amendment to the Senate budget bill calling for making the “American tax system simpler and fairer for all Americans” passed 98-0. But that’s not what this is about. Republicans recognize that their serial failures to accomplish anything of substance (besides the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice) during a period when they control the White House and both chambers of Congress is a recipe for electoral disaster in next year’s midterm elections. On issue after issue, President Trump has demonstrated that he doesn’t care about policy or principle so long as he can claim a win, and in this instance, Congressional Republicans are just the same.
Republicans may want a win, but the rest of us are going to be paying the consequences. And sadly, we know exactly what they will be. How many times do we have to try the same idea to realize that massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy don’t translate into higher wages and better standards of living for the poor and middle class but instead massive deficits and widening inequality? If the goal is really a simpler and fairer tax code, Congress should slow down and debate the legislation in the light of day. That would be a “win” for all of us. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-1023-trump-taxes-20171020-story.html
10. Juan Williams: Trump's cynical sabotage of ObamaCare
Last week, Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, and the ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), unveiled a bipartisan compromise bill to shore up a key ObamaCare subsidy to benefit low-income Americans for two years.
The bill came in reaction to President Trump’s threats to end these cost sharing reductions (CSRs).
Trump falsely claimed that these were “bailouts” to insurance companies, when they are help for poor people.
“The fact of the matter is the president is trying to sabotage the American health care system, trying to put a gun to the head of our constituents by taking away their health care or raising their costs in order to force us to repeal a bill the American public doesn’t want us to repeal,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told Fox News Sunday recently.
The real problem here is that while Trump is playing politics he is treating people in need of health care as collateral damage, a cruel afterthought.
There is one true statement from Trump on ObamaCare that will stand the test of time.
“Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” he said in February. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/356624-juan-williams-trumps-cynical-sabotage-of-obamacare
11. Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Boogeymen? Women!
Donald Trump has a particular taste for the degradation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities and women — and God forbid those identities should overlap — as a way of playing out his personal sense of racial, sexist, and patriarchal entitlement. And as he degrades, he plays to those very same entitlements in the base that elected him.
This has manifested itself most recently in a despicable episode in which Trump became embroiled in a controversy — mostly of his own making! — over an unacceptable call he made to a pregnant widow of one of four soldiers killed in a still-murky attack in Niger.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a black woman, knew the fallen soldier and his widow and was in the car when the president called to offer condolences. Wilson seems to have correctly reported what Trump said.
This set Trump off and he issued a stream of lies to defame Wilson. The White House even sent its chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, out to defend the president. He, too, lied about Wilson.
When asked about Kelly’s lies, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “highly inappropriate” to question a four-star general.
Aside from this not being a third-world military junta where a person in a high-profile political job can’t be questioned, this illustrates how Trump’s fetish for military generals also acts as an expression of his racial exclusion and preference for patriarchy. Military generals are a fraternity comprised almost exclusively of white men, according to a government report from 2011. How dare their word be questioned?https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/opinion/trump-federica-women.html
12. John Nichols: Jeff Flake’s Call of Conscience Will Not Be Answered by Soulless Republicans
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, an old-school conservative Republican who rejects Donald Trump’s remodeling of the Republican Party as a dangerously destructive cult of personality, announced Tuesday that he would not seek reelection to a Republican-controlled Senate that more frequently than not serves as a rubber stamp for Trump and Trumpism.
The maverick senator, who had been targeted for defeat in the 2018 Arizona Republican primary by the president’s political henchmen (most notably former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon), did not mention Trump by name in his emotional address to the Senate. But there could be no mistaking Flake’s message to his stunned colleagues and to his country.
“Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified,” Flake declared. “And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.”
Flake addressed much of his speech to his fellow Republicans, whose complicity with Trump he warned is transforming the GOP into a “fearful, backward-looking minority party. https://www.thenation.com/article/jeff-flakes-call-of-conscience-will-not-be-answered-by-soulless-republicans/