Saturday, September 30, 2017


Trump focuses like a laser beam on the most important aspect of the Puerto Rico crisis -- that he get credit for dealing with it

Trump's Katrina?
Trump faces growing backlash over Puerto Rico response
Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria
Puerto Ricans: Trump's relief efforts are a 'disaster'

[Trump] “The response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”
[Trump] “The loss of life, it’s always tragic. But it’s been incredible. The results that we’ve had with respect to loss of life.”
Speaking outside the White House on Thursday, Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said she is “very satisfied” with efforts to aid Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria, which devastated the island and has created a humanitarian crisis. Duke said, “It is really a good-news story,” an assessment that prompted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz's strong rebuttal. “Well, maybe from where she's standing, it's a good-news story. When you’re drinking from a creek, it's not a good-news story. When you don't have food for a baby, it's not a good-news story,” Cruz told CNN . . . “When you have to pull people down from their buildings — I'm sorry, but that really upsets me and frustrates me. You know, I would ask her to come down here and visit the towns, and then make a statement like that, which frankly, it is an irresponsible statement. . . . Damn it, this is not a good-news story. This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story.”  

[NB: Heckuva job, Dukey!]

Can you guess what happened next?
President Trump slammed San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Twitter this morning for criticizing the federal relief efforts for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria . . .

"Tax reform" now just means "tax cut"

The Republican effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system obviously didn’t turn out well for the party. One of the key questions now is what lessons, if any, GOP leaders have learned from their most recent fiasco. Given the rollout of the Republicans’ tax “framework” this week, there’s reason to believe the party is repeating some of its more glaring mistakes. . . . 

Trump says he won't benefit from the tax cut -- that's a massive lie
Trump: "My plan is for the working people, and my plan is for jobs. . . . I don't benefit. I don't benefit. In fact, very very strongly, as you see, I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth."
Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under Tax Plan 

Trump’s Tax Cut Is a House of Lies
Republican Tax Plan Literally Benefits Only Millionaires
Study: Trump's plan would hike taxes for almost 30 percent of households making $50,000 - $150,000

The only black Republican senator pitches the tax plan to black Americans in what he thinks is their own language -- and no, I am not making this up  
"Keep 'Yo Money!"

Nope, not racist at all
“Lynch Kaepernick” 

HHS Sect'y Tom Price is still in serious jeopardy of losing his job

What about the other jet setters in the Cabinet? 

BREAKING NEWS: Price "resigns"

Firings/Resignations under Trump

Robert Mueller's choice
Of all the avenues in the sprawling Russia investigation, Robert Mueller appears to have advanced the furthest toward assembling an argument that Donald Trump obstructed justice. . . The core of the obstruction claim has been clear for months. On February 14, 2017, Trump convened eight of his top advisers in the Oval Office for a counterterrorism briefing. That subject, all by itself, made for plenty of tension: courts were rejecting Trump’s first travel ban, and he’d recently fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend it. But it’s what happened at the end of the meeting that Mueller cares about.  According to the highly detailed, now-famous testimony by former F.B.I. director James Comey, Trump shooed the other seven witnesses out of the room, then leaned on Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, who the day before had resigned as national security adviser, leaving behind a tangle of dubious Russian relationships. Trump has disputed that account, but what could be important supporting evidence has emerged regularly ever since. In May, Trump fired Comey, then blabbed to NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he made the move. In July, Donald Trump Jr. issued a misleading statement to The New York Times about his meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower—a statement that his father, the president, helped craft. At the beginning of September came reports of a letter Trump drafted to explain Comey’s firing, with rationale that included Comey’s unwillingness to publicly exonerate Trump. “I think there’s a lot of evidence here for obstruction,” said Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor. “Most recently, you’ve got the reports of Trump repeatedly lambasting Jeff Sessions for recusing himself, which led to the hiring of Mueller. That’s supporting of obstruction too. It shows Trump doesn’t want this thing investigated. The only issue is proving corrupt intent.” That’s where Reince Priebus comes in. . .

In a hopeful sign, the left and farther left factions in the Democratic party realize they need to work together in 2018

Meanwhile, the GOP is fracturing before our very eyes
GOP Insurgency Plans for Civil War in 2018 Midterms 

More hopeful signs?
“My colleagues Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns reported recently that Republicans fear a wave of additional retirements. And Roy Moore’s victory over the establishment-backed Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary this week could further embolden primary challenges to G.O.P. House incumbents, increasing the chances that they step aside.”

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Friday, September 29, 2017


Trump seems to believe that the only reason Obamacare repeal failed is because a yes-vote senator was in the hospital -- except, he wasn't in the hospital, and the vote would have failed anyway. But Trump keeps repeating the lie
It's crystal-clear why Trump is doing this: It's an excuse for not getting the bill passed, given the deadline for passing it via reconciliation (i.e. 50 votes instead of 60) is Friday. Trump is embarrassed, and it seems likely he'll continue to make the claim when asked about why he couldn't seal the deal. . . 

White House officials could not quite rationalize why President Trump keeps promoting the bizarre claim. One senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast that the president was “just, you know, doing his thing,” in riffing on a topic and reiterating a false claim to which he feels attached. . . .

[NB: Well, that makes it sound rather quaint, but it's something deeper -- He can't accept losing. He can't admit picking the wrong side of the issue. He can't take responsibility for failure. So he has to construct an utterly false reality in which HE HAD THE VOTES TO WIN, but it was just bad luck and poor timing that caused things to go against him. This is a bad quality in anyone, but especially a leader who can't, and won't, learn from mistakes.] 

Seth Meyers:

Trump doesn't understand his own travel ban

Trump and the GOP are trying to pass a tax reform bill (like health care) that isn't what people want

That middle class tax cut? Don't hold your breath

Nobody can say whether the tax plan will help ordinary folks or not -- but here is one group we DO know will benefit
9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself

White House tries to defend Trump’s claim that he pays more under his tax plan. It’s a train wreck. 

More ridiculous nonsense from Gary Cohn:
Never Send Out a Millionaire to Explain Tax Cut
Republican Tax Plan Quickly Hits First Hurdle  

The Republicans only care about the deficit when Democrats are in charge -- and this Republican admits it

Trump: let me tell you that everyone is saying I am doing a terrific job on Puerto Rico (thanks to Digby for the quote)
"The governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the great job that we're doing. . . The governor said we are doing a great job. . . We have had tremendous reviews from government officials . . . and this morning, the governor made incredible statements about how well we're doing. . . So everybody has said it's amazing the job that we've done in Puerto Rico, we're very proud of it. . . I think we've done a really good job . . . and we are going to do far more than anybody else would ever be able to do and it's being recognized as such."

Trump is intentionally undermining Obamacare, then complaining that it's failing

Meanwhile, two senators are closing in on a bipartisan plan

Another broken promise: where is Trump's infrastructure plan?

One of Trump's favorite ways to buy time is to mumble, "we'll see." But his very best is to promise that something will happen "soon." He has promised it over a hundred times. Guess what? 

It's been more than two months since John Kelly was promoted from the Dept of Homeland Security to WH Chief of Staff -- why hasn't the DHS position been filled?

The Roy Moore candidacy is going to present a real test to see whether there is ANYTHING the Republicans won't swallow their principles over
Roy Moore's foundation hosted pro-Confederate secession events
The Muted GOP Response to Roy Moore's Anti-Muslim Prejudice
Moore in 2005 said homosexual activity should be illegal and compared it to bestiality. In 2006, he wrote that the first Muslim elected to Congress, Keith Ellison, should not be sworn into office because the Quran was incompatible with the Constitution. . . Another reporter followed up, adding Moore’s assertion that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School had occurred “because we’ve forgotten the law of God.”
Let’s Talk About Roy Moore’s Extremism on Abortion

Atta boy!
Roy Moore Failed to Disclose Massive Amount of Income on His Senate Ethics Form 

Why the GOP keeps losing to its far right
The long triumph of the far right in the Republican Party is a process of asymmetric warfare. The insurgents are willing to destroy the party in order to prevail, while the Establishment’s primary goal is to hold the party together. A war between a faction determined to win and a faction determined to patch things up can only have one outcome. The nomination of Roy Moore is another marker in this ongoing struggle. . . [read on]

Last spring I said the Trump phenomenon was a product of what I termed ‘nonsense debt‘. Republicans had spent years pumping their voters up on increasingly extreme and nonsensical claims and promises. This worked very well for winning elections. But it had also built up a debt that eventually had to be repaid. Concretely, they were making claims and promises that were either factually ridiculous, politically unviable or unacceptable to a broad swath of the voting public. Eventually, you get elected and need to produce. By definition that’s never really possible: both because the claims and promises are nonsensical and unviable but also because a politics based on reclamation, revenge, and impulse is almost impossible to satisfy through normal legislative politics. . . . Now we have all of this coming home to roost in a far more explosive way. Republicans were never going to be able to turn back Obamacare and its death panels while Obama was President. That was straight up obvious. Anyone should have understood that. But it really should have been possible for them to do it when they controlled the entire government. They clearly can’t. That same pattern has played out across the whole legislative landscape. But it’s not really a matter of two groups battling each other. It’s the fallout of a conservative movement engaging in massive resistance against the rest of the country and the inevitable cycle of extremity and betrayal that goes with that.

The Price is WRONG
Price will reimburse only a small portion of private jet travel expenses
Sorry Not Sorry: Tom Price Apologizes For Private Jet Costs, Then Defends Use
Earlier today the theoretically remorseful Trump Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced he would be paying back taxpayers for his use of chartered jets to traverse the country—only for it to be revealed that he would "reimburse" taxpayers only about $50,000 towards the $400,000 cost of those flights. Within hours of that revelation POLITICO dropped yet another shoe: The costs racked up by Price's penchant for private travel since he took the job earlier this year aren't just $400,000. It turns out they're well over double that. . . .

Price bought and sold stock in more than 40 health care companies, stocks worth more than $300,000, as a Congress member. Despite appearances, most of those sales and purchases seemed to comply with House ethics rules.  However, there were a number of specific transactions and accompanying actions by Price that raised eyebrows:     
  • In March 2016, according to CNN, Price bought up to $15,000 worth of stock in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company that specializes in hip and knee implants. Two days later, he introduced legislation to delay a regulation that would have hurt the company’s business by changing how Medicare and Medicaid reimburse those procedures. Zimmer Biomet then donated to his campaign. (Price says he was not aware of the purchase, which was made by his broker.) 
  • Price also bought shares in six pharmaceutical companies a week after a federal regulation was proposed that would lower reimbursements for doctors who prescribe expensive drugs for cancer and arthritis, according to Time magazine. The regulation was meant to help control health care costs by encouraging doctors to prescribe generic drugs and cheaper alternatives instead, and would have hurt pharmaceutical companies’ bottom lines. The companies lobbied against the regulation, and Price sponsored legislation to block it. It was never enacted.
  • Price was able to take advantage of a special deal in another biotech firm, Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian company developing a multiple sclerosis drug, according to Kaiser Health News. Price was offered discounted shares for “sophisticated investors” in summer 2016 after making a smaller investment in the company in 2015. (A fellow member of Congress, Rep. Chris Collins, is on the company’s board; members of the Collins family own about 20 percent of the company.)
But that's not why he might lose his job
A source who has watched President Trump and Price interact at length told my colleague Jonathan Swan that Price burned his credibility when health care failed to get across the finish line in Congress. . . .  

Jared Kushner: what is it, incredibly sloppy, dumb, criminally dishonest, or just way in over his head?
Kushner Didn’t Disclose Email Account to Senators 

The first steps toward a big win in 2018
Democrats Have a Big Enthusiasm Edge 

More evidence that Russian social media use was targeted to swing states and high impact audiences. Who helped them identify those targets? (thanks to RR for the link) 

Russian trolling in support of the racist alt-right agenda -- NFL version

Bonus item: The headline says, the best five minutes you will see on the NFL issue. I think that's right

***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.***