Monday, July 31, 2017


In the aftermath of a massive failure on health care, we start to see how dangerous Trump really is
Coming off a failure this big, Trump will be looking for people to hurt, things to break. Everybody be safe out there. . . .

Here it comes:
Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, said Sunday he will make a decision this week on ending key payments to insurance companies under ObamaCare. . . .
[Trump] "Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!"
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Sunday . . . that “yes,” it's official White House policy that the Senate shouldn’t hold a vote on another issue — not even an imminent crisis like raising the debt ceiling— until the Senate votes again on health care.

[NB: Our only hope is that there is no appetite among the GOP for revisiting the health care debacle any time soon -- and that Trump has zero leverage or credibility in urging the Senate to bash their heads against that particular wall one more time. Still, it tells us everything about his bullheadedness and refusal to admit error that he wants to throw the entire government into jeopardy to try to get what he wants. EVERYONE wants to move on to other issues, even ones where some agreement across the parties might be possible. But his arrogance won't allow him to do that. He would say it's about "winning" -- but the truth is it's about refusing to admit when he's lost.]

One of Trump's favorite phrases is that he is "disappointed." He is disappointed in the Republicans for not repealing Obamacare. He is disappointed in Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation. He is disappointed in China for not doing more to tame North Korea. Disappointed -- as if these people owe something TO HIM. And when he is "disappointed" he starts looking for ways to hurt and humiliate
"I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!"

Trump blamed China for North Korea. Then he changed his mind. Then he changed it again. 

Russia dismisses 755 U.S diplomatic staff. This is Trump's first major foreign policy crisis. Is he ready for it?

"More than 1,000 workers — diplomats and support staff — were working and are still working in Russia; 755 must stop their activity in the Russian Federation," Putin said, per Reuters. This does not mean, as early news reports suggested, that 755 US diplomats will be expelled from the country entirely — but it is a serious cut to America’s diplomatic presence in Russia. The order is retaliation, plain and simple. . .  [read on] 

Putin's bet
A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll. . .That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come. . . . [read on] 

Is Trump a Republican? 
“This no longer seems accidental. Trump has, since taking office, consistently referred to Republicans as though he is not one himself—it’s invariably ‘they’ or ‘them.’ Unlike past presidents of his party, Trump entered the White House with few personal relationships with prominent Republicans: donors, lobbyists, party activists, politicians. This liberated him to say whatever he pleased as a candidate, and by firing Priebus, Trump might feel similarly liberated. The fear now, among Republicans in his administration and on Capitol Hill, is that Trump will turn against the party, waging rhetorical warfare against a straw-man GOP whom he blames for the legislative failures and swamp-stained inertia that has bedeviled his young presidency. It would represent a new, harsher type of triangulation, turning his base against the politicians of his own party that they elected.” “Things have not yet escalated to that point. But some, including officials in his own administration, took the dismissal of Priebus as a signal that Trump is willing to go rogue against the GOP… More and more, Trump talks as though there are Democrats and Republicans—and him, a party of one. If unchecked, this poses an existential threat to the GOP. But it’s not Priebus’s problem anymore.” 

This is a very good piece. Think of the past week. Trump's outrageous exploitation of the Boy Scout Jamboree. His announcement by tweet of a major policy shift on transgender folk in the military. His inflammatory suggestion to cops that they should be more brutal with prisoners. And of course the health care debacle. In each case Trump tried to push an institution beyond where it was willing to go, out of his own ignorance and impetuousness. And in each case the institution pushed back. Fallows calls this “positive dynamic stability: That is a system that pushes back against dangerous dislocations after being upset, and tries to return itself to normal

Why Trump can't close a deal (thanks to RR for the link) 

Will WH staffers report through the new Chief of Staff?

Will Republicans work with Democrats on health care?


Newt Gingrich: the DOJ is a "left wing" enemy of Trump

Oh, nice
Hackers at at a conference in Las Vegas were able to successfully breach the software of U.S. voting machines in just 90 minutes on Friday, illuminating glaring security deficiencies in America's election infrastructure. . . .

How garbage from the alt-right gets recycled through GOP staffers

The rise -- and fall -- of Reince Priebus

Self-proclaimed "representative" of Anthony Scaramucci threatens to reveal Reince Priebus's "mistress"

Are people finally getting wise to Kellyanne Conway?
'Let's Not Waste Any More Time': Chris Wallace Shuts Down Kellyanne Conway For Linking Clinton To Russia

Bonus item: It really IS a reality show!

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Sunday, July 30, 2017


I understand that Priebus is playing a little game here. But could he come across as any more feckless and pathetic?
The former White House chief of staff insisted in a Friday night interview that his ouster by President Donald Trump “is actually a good thing.” “I’m feeling good about the fact that he’s making a change that makes him comfortable with moving forward,” Reince Priebus told Fox News’ Sean Hannity . . . Priebus lavished praise on the President and promised he will “be on Team Trump all the time.” It was an inglorious swan song for the former Republican National Committee chairman and senior Trump official, whose control over the White House staff was tenuous from the start. . . .
I might be a little more willing to believe this baloney were it not for the fact that just one week ago, Hannity and Priebus were insisting what good friends Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci are. . . .

Priebus was apparently the most frequent target of Trump’s habitual bullying. The president “told associates that Priebus would make a good car salesman” and “mocked him for expressing excitement when he spotted his house from Air Force One, flying over Wisconsin,” reports Politico. But perhaps the most telling details, from the same Post story, is that Trump always distrusted Priebus because Priebus recoiled from the revelation of Trump boasting on tape about sexual assault . . .
The Unending Humiliations Of Reince Priebus
Staff shake-ups are a standard way for administrations in crisis to try to get a fresh start. It is clear that Priebus was a mistake, ill-suited for the job and lacking the one thing an effective Chief of Staff needs, which is the respect and trust of his boss. Given Trump's love affair with tough guys, especially military tough guys, he may give John Kelly the authority he never gave Priebus. But these changes also come at the cost of further losing contact and credibility with the GOP establishment. Trump doesn't have it, Bannon doesn't have it, Jared Kushner doesn't have it, Scaramucci doesn't have it, and Kelly doesn't have it. That's his senior team now. (Mike Pence is the one exception.)
Trump Orchestrates Staffing Shake-up In Effort To Address His Stalled Agenda

The Trump administration’s chaos has reached an astounding new level
Can Kelly Pull the White House Together?
With a new chief of staff, Trump's refocusing on his top priority: making America afraid again. . .
So Trumpian: the big bully baby doesn't get what he wants, and starts looking for people to punish
Still blistering over the latest defeat of Obamacare repeal, Trump on Saturday threatened to do away with health care subsidies that affect both the poorest Americans and Congress. . . . [read on]

Trump Is Trying to Reanimate Trumpcare Using Threats and Ridicule
Trump meets with three senators who have a Big Bold New Health Care plan. Does anyone have the stomach to go through all of that again? 

[Trump] "Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!"
What did cops think about Trump's suggestion they they should rough up suspects more?
In a rebuke to President Donald Trump, multiple police departments have condemned a Friday speech he made endorsing the rough treatment of suspected criminals and gang members. . . .

This two-bit gangster, would-be dictator just set police-community relations back by a quarter of a century. . . . [read on] 

Here's the new game in town: don't "fire" Jeff Sessions, just move him to Homeland Security where he can keep working on immigration issues, creating a vacancy at AG 

Jeff Sessions Deserves to Be Humiliated 

Trump says he will sign the Russia sanctions bill. And we will hear forever that this "proves" that he isn't in the pocket of the Russians

Speaking of "in the pocket," that's one of the things that really scares Trump about the Mueller investigation
Russia investigation could uncover how much money Trump is still getting from Moscow

I don't even know why I bother to post this. Trump loves this Fox News bit that says Russia OPPOSED Trump in the 2016 election. This is ridiculous, no one believes it, and once again it insults and ignores the unanimous verdict of his own intelligence agencies. But it does illustrate the reciprocal BS game Trump and Fox play with each other, each telling the other what it wants to believe

Trump's dangerous game with Iran 

In five straight tweets Trump obsesses about the need for the Senate to eliminate the filibuster. (I don't think they are interested in his opinion)

Worst week ever?
Our lying president
Last week Donald Trump told more lies than during any other week of his 'presidency'. . .

Does perjury matter any more? (thanks to RR for the link)
The Treasury Secretary Just Lied Under Oath

How the conservative media made the health care debate worse  

The number of new challengers for House seats on the Democratic side is amazing, and a good sign. But more candidates doesn't necessarily mean better ones, and the number of vulnerable GOP seats still isn't enough for a Dem takeover (yet)

Finally! A Democratic org bridges the gap between grassroots activism and state legislative races

Bonus item: Stand up and salute!
Analysis shows that the military spends 5 times more on Viagra than it would on transgender troops

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media.

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I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Trump is expert at redeflecting blame against anyone but himself. But it's obvious that his "I'm sitting here with my pen" approach to health care reform failed miserably. Now he's back to the bitter, vindictive "Let Obamacare fail" approach. He doesn't know, and doesn't care, about the human costs that would entail. He doesn't know, and doesn't care, about improving health care. For him it's all about credit and blame

This is what failure looks like
The dealmaker in chief has proven a singular impediment to making a deal. The core problem is Trump has no idea what he’s talking about on health care and never bothered to learn. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” he famously, and absurdly, said. His inability to navigate its complexities meant he couldn’t make persuasive arguments on behalf of the bills he supported, and he routinely made statements that undercut the legislative process and forced Republicans to defend the indefensible.  Trump’s post-election promise of “insurance for everybody” with “much lower deductibles” set up a standard Republicans had no intention of ever meeting but kept having to answer for. At his occasional meetings with wavering members of Congress, he’s made superficial political arguments to people who had deep policy concerns. The discussions left legislators feeling insulted and annoyed that the president hadn’t bothered to do the barest amount of homework.

Because Trump didn’t understand the legislation or the trade-offs it made, he couldn’t make persuasive arguments on its behalf in public or private, and so he mostly didn’t try. Trump and his team were not frequent presences in the public debate trying to sell the legislation they were so keen to sign. That’s one reason the various bills routinely polled around 20 percent: Without Trump using the bully pulpit to argue on behalf of the legislation, critics, terrible Congressional Budget Office reports, and news of congressional infighting filled the void.

When Trump did weigh in, it was often a disaster. Asked by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson how he responded to analyses showing the House health bill would hurt the people who voted for him, he replied, “Oh, I know,” and said the bill was “very preliminary.” Later, after holding a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate the passage of the House health bill, he called it “mean.” But he never articulated a standard for a bill that wouldn’t be mean, and he never came up with a policy that wouldn’t hurt his supporters.

Perhaps Trump still could have been useful if he had a deep well of support or loyalty to draw on with wavering Republican senators. But the reality is quite the opposite. . . . [read on] 

'As I Have Always Said': Trump's Ever-Changing Positions on Health Care
“It’s going to be fine,” Trump said told reporters as he stepped off Air Force One for an event in Long Island, New York Friday afternoon. . . “They should have approved health care last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that?” he said. “The swamp. But, we’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done. You know, I said from the beginning, ‘let Obamacare implode and then do it.’ I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode.”

As usual, Trump draws the proper conclusions about what went wrong
Trump Wants To Blow Up Senate Rules After Obamacare Repeal Push Collapses

Trump fails math . . .  

Yet another sacrificial victim pays the price for Trump's own failings: Reince Priebus is out
But the departure was still handled bizarrely. For one thing, Trump announced the appointment of Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to be chief of staff (and thus that Priebus was leaving) through a string of three tweets. Second, according to a pool report by Politico’s Josh Gerstein, following an Air Force One flight Priebus was almost literally kicked to the curb. After Air Force One arrived in Andrews Air Force base in Maryland outside DC, following a trip to Long Island, Priebus initially boarded an SUV with other senior White House staff — before those staff members left his vehicle for another one. And when news broke of the firing, Priebus’s car was literally pulled out of the motorcade and sent on its way. The whole time, Trump sat in Air Force One . . .
By pushing out Priebus, Trump is ousting a Republican Party man and replacing him with a less political former general who has few ties to the GOP or even politics in general. This newfound preference for outsiders is in keeping with Trump’s recent appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director — an event that seems to have precipitated Priebus’s exit.  Still, while Priebus is nominally the top-ranking White House staffer and is widely viewed as weak and ineffective, it’s unclear how much blame he truly deserves for the administration’s biggest missteps . . . Priebus hardly even got the chance to operate as an effective chief of staff. Instead, he was constantly hemmed in by other advisers like Steve Bannon — named to a “chief strategist” position that wasn’t subordinate to Priebus — and Jared Kushner, who, as Trump’s son-in-law, seemingly can’t be fired.  All the while, he was undercut by the president himself at every turn — in private, it’s reportedly common for Trump to mock and belittle Priebus. The president simply never really respected his chief of staff, and that situation just wasn’t tenable. [read on]


The new Chief of Staff: Director of Homeland Security John Kelly
Why John Kelly is the perfect pick for Trump's new chief of staff Or, at least, why Trump thinks he is. . . .
The Homeland Security chief’s aggression and blunt style endeared him to his boss. But a White House chief of staff needs a smoother approach. . . .


Who is the acting head of Homeland Security going to be? Apparently Trump hadn't thought that through before making the Kelly announcement (by tweet)  

The problems with the WH aren't primarily organizational. They all start with Trump's undisciplined and self-serving style. But if Kelly is going to be a strong Chief of Staff, he is going to have to take charge and change the pattern of multiple folks all having direct lines to the President -- that's a key part of what a Chief of Staff does. Kelly certainly understands chain of command from the military. But will Trump go along? 

Dominance games. We know this about Trump, of course. But sometimes it's the little true stories that tell so much
Trump’s demeaning of Priebus came through in other ways, too. At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident. . .

[NB: He won't be pulling this crap with John Kelly, that's for sure.] 

What it all means
President Trump fired Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, “a move that completes a purge of Washington insiders from Trump’s inner circle and virtually ensures an even harder turn into his outsider rhetoric and approach,” CNN reports. “The Priebus firing proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Trump’s attempts to merge his New York and family worlds with the staider environment of official Washington had failed miserably — and that he has clearly sided with those urging him to be more himself over those who had hoped to bend him somewhat to the ways of the nation’s capital.” . . . “With every staff move, Trump seems to be moving ever further away from the Republican establishment and building a much more insular team that fits his narrow worldview. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Priebus-Kelly switch.”

Trump gives a speech in front of law enforcement officers. Guess what he said?
When you see these towns, and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough,” he said, referring to the arrest of alleged gang members. “I said, please don’t be too nice.” “When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over,” he mimicked an officer putting a handcuffed person in the back of a squad car, the officer’s hand over the suspect’s head. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody? Don’t hit their head?” “I said, you can take the hand away, OK?” he concluded, to laughter, and then loud applause. That sentiment characterized much of the red meat speech, in which Trump contrasted himself frequently to his predecessor. “We have your backs 100 percent,” Trump said near the beginning of his remarks. “Not like the old days.” . . .

Trump just delivered the most chilling speech of his presidency
Trump's Vision of Lawless Order
The most alarming passages from Trump’s fearmongering Long Island speech

We've written versions of this story before, but is this the worst week of a presidency ever (aside from assassinations and impeachments)?

The failures so far have been spectacular, but they’re just the warm up act. The real consequences are just on the horizon, and all queued up to hit us between Labor Day and Halloween. Trump has not yet begun to lose . . .
G.O.P. Support for Trump Is Starting to Crack 

McCain's health care vote -- a sense of the drama

[NB: Look at McConnell, a few feet away, arms folded and glaring at him!]

McCain's vote was dramatic -- but remember that women did the heavy lifting


Here's the truth
“I think the repeal effort is now done,” NBC political host Chuck Todd said on “Today” Friday morning, adding that insofar as a strictly GOP-led repeal effort is concerned, that movement is “dead.” Todd then presciently added, “There’s a good dozen Republican senators this morning that are relieved John McCain took one for that team.”

Kevin expresses what has been bouncing inside my head, more clearly than I could -- killing the skinny bill was an act of mercy. A House-Senate conference could not have produced a bill acceptable to the House Freedom Caucus AND at the same time something that wouldn't have lost Senate moderates. That's already been tried -- and failed -- what reason is there to think it would succeed a second time? A few weeks from now we would be facing another Dramatic Vote, with Trump pressing to pass something, anything, so he can claim a "win," and moderates hearing from their governors and folks back home that passing a bad compromise is worse than doing nothing at all

Conservatives are irate 

Here is the opportunity for Dems to take up McCain's call for bipartisanship and "regular order" to offer to work with Repubs (and with governors of both parties) to fix a flawed health care system  


Here comes the Russia sanctions bill. What will Trump do?

Rallies, rallies, and more rallies
President Donald Trump is holding an early August campaign rally in West Virginia.  Trump’s campaign says the event is scheduled for Aug. 3 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. Trump held a campaign rally this week in Youngstown, Ohio. The president has been holding campaign-style events in friendly territory to escape Washington and recharge in front of crowds of boisterous supporters. . . .

After what must have been the worst 24 hours of any WH Communications Director, ever, Anthony Scaramucci says he is going to be less visible to the press

Why the Mooch matters
“In other words, the Mooch matters because the Mooch helps to clarify what matters most to the President and his family. What matters most is Trump’s grip on his base voters and his survival in office. Everything else—a sane health-care policy, the dignity of the transgender people who have volunteered to serve their country, a rational environmental policy, a foreign policy that serves basic democratic values, rule of law—is of tertiary interest.” “Trump’s focus is not impossible to divine. He is increasingly anxious that Mueller and congressional investigators are exploring the details of his business transactions and financial holdings, and how they might have exposed him to being targeted by the Russian government.”

The many moods of Mooch

“Anthony Scaramucci, the White House’s potty-mouthed new communications director, has been dumped by his beautiful blond wife because of his ‘naked political ambition'” . . . 

Theocracy watch
Here’s the list of the President’s evangelical leaders team members who’ve expressed concern about Mooch’s language/behavior . . .

Omerta in the Trump Organization
CBS News has obtained a new confidentiality agreement rolled out after the election. “The Trump Organization is requiring employees at all levels to sign it, or else they will lose their jobs. Employees must agree to keep secret any information they learn about anyone in the ‘Trump family’ and extended family, including their ‘present, former and future spouses, children, parents, in-laws.”

Looking forward . . . .
The 10 Challenges Republicans Now Face

In Fox World, a health care wake
If you were looking for the most bitter, most callous, hottest moronic take on the failed health care vote, then look no further! Fox News is here for you. . . .

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media.

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I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***