Sunday, December 31, 2017


From the very start, Trump-Russia was all about getting Russia's help to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton. That's what the Trump Tower meeting was about. That's what Trump's infamous quote “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” was about. Later it became about other things too, like helping Russia target social media messages to key Trump constituencies. And we know now with certainty that offering to lift sanctions was one of the quids to those quos
New York Times: “During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.” “About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.” . . .  Two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

"The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election? It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies. Interviews and previously undisclosed documents show that Mr. Papadopoulos played a critical role in this drama and reveal a Russian operation that was more aggressive and widespread than previously known. . . ." [read on!] 

The problem with Mar-a-Lago
Trump Is Still Happily Mixing Government Affairs With His Private Businesses 

Trump is “definitely still involved” in his hotel business, a new report says

Trump doesn't like the SALT component of the tax bill. Or he is proud of passing it. Or he would have been willing to give it up but it's the Democrats' fault it passed

Trump is killing the Republican party -- and by holding his supporters as a threat he is forcing the party to accommodate and normalize his decidedly unnormal views and behavior. Look at the numbers

What we've learned about Trump
The most consequential aspect of President Trump—like the most consequential aspect of Candidate Trump—has been his relentless shattering of norms: norms of honesty, decency, diversity, strategy, diplomacy and democracy, norms of what presidents are supposed to say and do when the world is and isn’t watching. As I keep arguing in these periodic Trump reviews, it’s a mistake to describe his all-caps rage-tweeting or his endorsement of an accused child molester or his threats to wipe out “Little Rocket Man” as unpresidential, because he’s the president. He’s by definition presidential. The norms he’s shattered are by definition no longer norms. His erratic behavior isn’t normal, but it’s inevitably becoming normalized . . . [read on]

Don't miss this one:
One year, many Trumps: 2017’s 10 best theories about our Great Leader 

America's Great Abdication on the global stage

Trump admits defeat on the transgender ban for the military

We always knew that Trump supporter and wanna-be administration staffer Sheriff David Clarke was trouble. Yes, big trouble


The Justice Dept wants to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. This will probably suppress participation, which will have other distorting effects on the results

***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. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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Saturday, December 30, 2017


Feeling emboldened, and with key advisors leaving, Trump may become even more Trumpian in 2018
If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it's not Robert Mueller's probe. It's that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump's actual instincts take over. Next year will bring "full Trump," said one person who recently talked to the president. . . [read on]
A damaged and dangerous president is feeling his power . . .

American democracy will be put up the test:

The NY Times has taken some heat for their interview with Trump, not interrupting him more with questions. But here is something their stream-of-consciousness methodology revealed
This simply is not a man in full control of his mental faculties. He’s always been narcissistic and blowhardish, but over the course of the interview he’s completely unable to stay focused on a topic for even a few seconds. He veers off into his Electoral College win constantly. He stops to insist there’s no Russian collusion at least a dozen times. He displays no knowledge of anything. It’s like talking to a third-grader. I don’t know what’s going on with the guy, but even by Donald Trump standards he’s not all there. This is not someone who should be occupying the Oval Office.
I have spoken to people who brief Trump and people who have been briefed by him. I’ve talked to policy experts who have sat in the Oval Office explaining their ideas to the president and to members of Congress who have listened to the president sell his ideas to them. I’ve talked to both Democrats and Republicans who have occupied these roles. In all cases, their judgment of Trump is identical: He is not just notably uninformed but also notably difficult to inform — his attention span is thin, he hears what he wants to hear, he wanders off topic, he has trouble following complex arguments. Trump has trouble following his briefings or even correctly repeating what he has heard. . . . This is the president of the United States speaking to the New York Times. His comments are, by turns, incoherent, incorrect, conspiratorial, delusional, self-aggrandizing, and underinformed. . . . . As has been true since he entered American politics, Trump is interested in Trump — over the course of the interview, he mentions his Electoral College strategy seven times, in each case using it to underscore his political savvy and to suggest that he could easily have won the popular vote if he had tried. . . . Whatever the cause, it is plainly obvious from Trump’s words that this is not a man fit to be president, that he is not well or capable in some fundamental way. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, and so many prefer not to say it, but Trump does not occupy a job where such deficiencies can be safely ignored.

“I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that — I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him… And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.”

[NB: That isn't even remotely true, but it does reveal his view that the role of the AG should be to PROTECT him from investigations. This and other quotes from the interview show that he is far from reconciled with Jeff Sessions -- and of course this is why he thinks Sessions shouldn't have recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation.]

"No collusion." Trump actually repeats it sixteen times during the interview, and it has become his go-to phrase whenever Russia comes up. Why?
Trump's 'No collusion!' cry is getting increasingly desperate
Contra Trump, Collusion Is Already a Slam Dunk
Trump’s “No Collusion” Defense Is Falling Apart
It sure looks like there was collusion between the Trump operation and Russia
Trump administration: There's no evidence of collusion. 12 legal experts: Yes, there is.

[NB: Trump is going to have to learn that relying on Alan Dershowitz for serious legal advice is like relying on "Fox and Friends" for serious news. Oh, wait. . . .]

When Trump says "Mueller will be fair," this is what he really means 

A smoking gun
Shortly before moving into the White House, Donald Trump promised to turn over “complete and total control” of his business to his adult sons Don Jr. and Eric. “They are not going to discuss it with me,” the then-president-elect assured the nation he was about to govern — though, a couple months later, Eric Trump admitted that he would still provide his father with “profitability reports and stuff like that” at least every quarter. Now, a new report by The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff suggests that President Trump may have far more direct involvement with his businesses than he promised nearly a year ago. Woodruff quotes an email from Jeng Chi Hung, director of revenue management for the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC. “DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he’s definitely still involved,” Hung wrote in that email. “I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he was asking about banquet revenues and demographics. And, he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses.” . . .

Trump predicts more bipartisanship in 2018, on DACA, infrastructure, and health care. But if this is what he means by "bipartisanship," forget it
Trump holds DACA recipients hostage in exchange for his white supremacist wish list
Trump: Give Me a Border Wall or I’ll Deport the Dreamers


This is not the language of bipartisanship:
"The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc." 

[NB: Yes, you tell them how things will have to be. That'll bring them to the negotiating table for sure.]
Trump's strategy for dealing with North Korea has failed. That makes this a dangerous time

The State Dept releases some of Huma Abedin's emails, reigniting the Clinton email controversy


Theocracy watch: the role of right-wing religion in politics may be growing

Trump Fires Entire AIDS/HIV Council 

[NB: Well, sure, since AIDS is God's punishment against gay people, why would we want to interfere with that?]

One of the standard denialist strategies is to point to cold snaps and use them to "prove" that global warming is a myth. Today, Trump's version

Was 2017 the craziest year in U.S. political history? Maybe not

Promising news for 2018: Trump's base is a demographic that doesn't turn out well in off-year elections. I expect a strong push around "My enemies are trying to force me out and negate YOUR VOTE," i.e. trying to turn it into in effect a presidential election for them. Will that work?

Democrats run left

Bonus item: Barack Obama tweets out some good news stories

***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. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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.***

Friday, December 29, 2017


This shows that about half of the Republican party believes anything out of Trump's mouth, just because he says it (thanks to RR for the graphic)
Trump’s fake news works: Nearly half of Republicans believe he repealed Obamacare

That said, as a political matter, I’m not convinced this is a bad thing for health care advocates. If Trump believes the ACA has been repealed, and much of the Republican Party’s base also believes the ACA has been repealed, maybe everyone else should just play along? Perhaps the American mainstream can simply let the right believe this falsehood in the hopes that Trump and his allies will find something else to do and leave the remaining elements of the Affordable Care Act alone? . . . [read on]

Trump: even worse than perpetually lying, he actually believes his lies

For example:
"I know more about the big bills. …Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. . . . I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most."

Another example: "We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win."

[John Harwood] I think this interview is profoundly disturbing, if you read it and think about it. The way the president speaks in such grandiose terms about himself suggests a level of delusion. I save coal. I was treated better than anyone in the history of China. I did things that Ronald Reagan couldn't do. The news media has to keep me president because the entire media system would fall apart without me. This suggests a level of mental functioning which is not particularly acute and when he starts talking about the Russia investigation and he says 16 times there's been no collusion, absolutely no collusion, everyone agrees there's no collusion and some point you're just kind of babbling and this is the President of the United States . . . He doesn't seem to be aware of what he is revealing in these interviews. And the -- anyone who speaks about himself in the kind of terms that he does . . . These are statements that are obviously cartoonishly ridiculous.

Interesting to watch the shifting strategies from Trump and the White House over Michael Flynn: Phase One was, "He's a great guy and a fine public servant. He told some little fibs to VP Pence, but I was really reluctant to let him go." Phase Two was, "Maybe I will pardon him. He hasn't really done anything seriously wrong. Let's wait and see." Phase Three, now, is "He's a lying SOB and you can't believe a word out of his mouth." Sounds like he's cooperating with Mueller and they know he's going to really hurt them

What we know, and what we don't know (yet) about Trump-Russia collusion

Special counsel Robert Mueller has begun to question RNC staffers about the party’s 2016 campaign data operation, which helped the Trump campaign target voters in key swing states, Yahoo News reports. Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC-Trump campaign data operation — which was managed by Jared Kushner — “was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.”
Trump says the Russia investigation makes the U.S. look bad. He's right, but not for the reasons he intends
After playing golf on Thursday at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., President Trump said in an interview with The New York Times that he thought the Russia investigation “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position.” . . . “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.” Asked whether he would order the Justice Department to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Mr. Trump appeared to remain focused on the Russia investigation. “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department,” he said, echoing claims by his supporters that as president he has the power to open or end an investigation. “But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”


Another GOP Rep joins the attack against Mueller and the FBI
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) earlier this week accused special counsel Robert Mueller of leading a “witch hunt” with his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and called on Mueller to step down. “Mueller’s investigation is clearly careening far beyond the scope of his original charge,” Biggs wrote . . . [read on]

In the twisted world we live in, reactionary Repubs are doing the dirty work for the head of Russia
Vladimir Putin would obviously like to know who the sources are who talked to Christopher Steele. For example, the first thing we see in the Steele Dossier is an account of comments Source A (“a senior Russian foreign ministry officer”) made in confidence to Source B (“a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin”). . .  There’s someone else who claims to know the sources, and that’s a man named David Kramer who works as a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. . . . Kramer testified on December 19th before the House Intelligence Committee. He asserted that he knew Steele’s sources, but he refused to provide their identities. As a result, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has slapped a subpoena on Prof. Kramer in the hope that he will spill what he knows. Chairman Nunes supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation but he’s still issuing subpoenas. That’s a concern, but it’s more troubling that he’s asking for information that would help Putin liquidate the people who talked to Steele. . . 

Trump has damaged the international image and status of the U.S. 

Bad policy in the Trump™ Tax Plan
There is almost no limit to the bad policy included in the new GOP tax law. Indeed, even within ‘bad policy’ which can distinguish between ‘bad policy’ in the sense of conservative public policy which I and likely many readers think will have bad outcomes and ‘bad policy’ in the sense of poorly constructed tax law which almost no one would devise if they had time and weren’t so focused on giveaways to major donors. Of all these however I continue to believe that the (near total) end of deductions for SALT taxes are likely to have the greatest political impact. . . . [read on]
Republican tax plan already generating confusion, chaos

Howard Dean: Republicans will be “nailed with corruption” for GOP tax bill

The anti-regulatory spirit of the Trump admin is removing important protections in several key areas

It's finally over in Alabama: Doug Jones's victory is official 

Unsuccessful Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore on Thursday said he has “no regrets” about unsuccessfully challenging his Democratic opponent’s victory and refusing to concede the Senate election he lost earlier in December. “I have no regrets. To God be the glory,” Moore said . . . Moore claimed that “election fraud experts across the country have agreed that this was a fraudulent election,” though an Alabama judge threw out Moore’s lawsuit alleging voter fraud . . .

This is just WEIRD 
“After living in Washington for nearly a year, President Trump has yet to enjoy a single non-working meal at a restaurant that doesn’t pay him rent. He hasn’t taken in a performance at the Kennedy Center; hasn’t been to a sporting event; hasn’t toured most of the sights,” the AP reports.

The recurring efforts of the WH staff to deny that Trump is golfing . . . when he actually is

Ivanka Trump is a walking billboard for her own products

The Trumpians are all lined up with a coordinated attack against the fake media. Liberals don't have a strategy to counter it. Call it "the hack gap"
Today, the LA Times presents a great example of the hack gap. They invited a conservative and a liberal to make a list of the top 10 under-covered stories of the year. . . . Then there’s Sean Davis, former CFO of the Daily Caller and former aide to Sen. Tom Coburn. His list is a little different. The Russia investigation is ridiculous! The economy is booming! The stock market is booming too! Trump crushed ISIS! The FBI is in tatters! And that’s just the first five. He also tells us that the Iran deal has collapsed; ESPN is in big trouble thanks to its “seemingly nonstop left-wing politics”; and Betsy DeVos has restored the rule of law to college campuses. You can only call these under-covered if you’ve never watched Fox News. . . .

Trouble for the GOP
The Republican Party Has Lost Its Way 

A new Republican civil war brewing between House and Senate over destroying the social safety net
McConnell expects a 'knock down, drag out' fight for the Senate, with a side of Republican civil war
After throwing away a Senate seat in Alabama, Republicans fret over possible Mississippi chaos

I'm with Howard Dean
Howard Dean told MSNBC that older members of the Democratic Party need “to get the hell out of the way and have somebody who is 50 running the country.” . . .

Two Different Paths for Democrats

***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. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

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.***