Monday, December 31, 2018


Losing the generals
Retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal criticized President Trump’s behavior and handling of the presidency . . . [read on]
Trump’s ‘crazy narcissistic moods’ are national security issue . . . General Mark Herling (Ret.)  

Outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly goes off message
Of Trump’s demanded wall, for which he has shut down the US government despite campaigning on a promise to make Mexico pay, Kelly said: “To be honest, it’s not a wall.”  “The president still says ‘wall’,” he said. “Oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration . . .” 


[NB: The new phase of this nonsense is that Trump has quietly redefined what the Wall™ means. It was originally supposed to be an impermeable concrete barrier stretching the entire length of the border (and Mexico was going to pay for it). Now he has said it is 500 miles or so of "new or renovated" fencing. Some of that might be brand new "steel slats," but the main stretches that CAN be built and NEED to be built are ALREADY built. Building wall in the middle of wilderness areas is pointless. So what is this all about now? Clearly, and simply, a way for him to get off the hook with his base to be able to say that he has built the Wall™ -- whatever that means now.] 

Trump Compares Border Wall to Wall Around Obama Home
He's so wrong

According to a report by The Daily Beast, the president and his allies consider it a win merely if the government shutdown continues as a stalemate. Even if Trump doesn’t get his border wall, they reason, the shutdown fight will shift attention from incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda to the president’s — and make it harder for Democrats to spend any effort investigating his administration . . .

With President Trump, there is no bottom. Every time you think you have seen it, he manages to sink even lower. . . . [read on]

Lindsey Graham leaves a lunch meeting with Trump and claims that he's reconsidering his stance on Syria. And Graham thinks he can broker a deal on the shutdown too. But it isn't clear Trump wants one

What the president who campaigned on his ability to cut deals has not done, nine days into a partial government shutdown over his signature campaign issue, is reach out to Democratic congressional leaders to strike one. . . Mr. Trump appears to have dug in. . . . Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, met with Mr. Trump over lunch on Sunday. . . “At the end of the day, there’s a deal to be had,” he said on Sunday. . . . Mr. Graham said after the meeting that the president had not signed on to his potential compromise, which would provide wall funding in return for work permits for the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers. Democrats also have no interest in such a plan right now. . . .The president is also concerned that if he makes a deal, his core political support will falter, and his voters will see him as inauthentic after he talked about a wall in rally after rally for three years. . . . 

He just says s--t

Trump went on to claim that "everybody and his uncle" wanted the position. "Everybody wants that position. Everybody. Everybody — so many people want to be — who wouldn't want to be Secretary of Defense?" . . . "So we have a lot of people," Trump said. "We have a lot of great people who want to be Secretary of Defense. We'll take our time and we'll make the right decision." 

No One Lining Up to Replace Mattis 

Trump passes the 7500 mark for lies in 2018
Trump isn't “twisting the truth” or “stubbornly refusing to admit error.” Trump is engaged in *disinformation.* This is a different thing entirely. . . [read on]

Donald Trump uttered an astounding number of falsehoods in 2018. These are our favorites.

Trump's federal pay freeze may not affect his own people

More details on how Trump's properties used undocumented workers
Reports this weekend said the FBI and authorities in New Jersey are investigating whether management at Trump’s New Jersey golf club actually provided immigrants employed with fake documents to make it seem as if they had legal employment status when they did not.  The Washington Post interviewed a lawyer for two women who worked at the Bedminster golf resort. The attorney said he met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that club management gave to his clients. . . . “The important point that I think has been left out is that Americans think these hard-working women get these jobs on their own — that’s not what happened,” attorney Anibal Romero told The Post. “People employed by the golf club recruited her and made her the phony documents.” 

In Russia news . . .
Trump tweets that the FBI was part of a fix to throw the 2016 election to Clinton. If so, they did a pretty piss-poor job of it
“It turns out to be true now, that the Department of Justice and the FBI, under President Obama, rigged the investigation for Hillary and really turned the screws on Trump, and now it looks like in a corrupt & illegal way. The facts are out now. Whole Hoax exposed.
[June 14] A hotly anticipated inspector general report about then-FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is finally complete. . . . The report contradicts President Trump’s often-expressed belief that the investigation was rigged to get Clinton off the hook. . . . Comey’s public statements about the case continued, first in extensive congressional testimony, then in an October 28 letter announcing the FBI had discovered new emails that could be relevant. . . All this was highly unusual, to say the least, and some analysts believe Comey‘s late letters helped swing the election to Trump. . . .

[NB: Meanwhile, the FBI said NOTHING publicly about the ongoing investigation of Trump and Russia, and the suspicious meetings they already knew about. You might think that if they were trying to throw the election to Clinton they would have said something about that. But . . . they didn't.] 

Newt Gingrich, then and now
[1998] "There is something profoundly demeaning and destructive to have the White House systematically undermine the Department of Justice. And when I watch these paid hacks on television, to be quite honest, I am sickened . . . ."

[Now] "This whole thing is an absurdity. We've now had Paul Manafort and his wife in their pajamas at 3 in the morning having the FBI break down the door. Cohen, the lawyer, had the door taken off of the hinges at 6 in the morning. It ain't the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 in the morning and you're faced with armed men. And you have had no reason to be told you're going to have that kind of treatment. That's Stalin. That's the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn't be the American FBI."

In other news . . .

We used to talk about "education presidents," in both parties. No one would ever make the mistake of calling Trump that
The damage done to our educational system by Betsy DeVos may be deep and long-lasting
Teachers quit their jobs in record numbers during 2018
The labor unrest that swept across schools in red states earlier this year has now reached blue states too, as teachers in Los Angles, the nation’s second-largest school district, and across the state of Washington have threatened to strike, or are on strike, over working conditions and poor pay. . . 

Bad news for election transparency
Congress unlikely to stop super PACs from hiding donors

Sixty percent of gun deaths in 2017 were suicides. . . .

***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.***

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Trump heaps more punishment on federal workers
Trump freezes federal workers’ 2019 pay amid government shutdown

The freeze doesn’t affect military personnel, who are scheduled to receive a 2.6 percent raise in 2019. . . .

[NB: Didn't we just hear Trump brag about getting the military a 10% raise?]

Trump keeps threatening to shut down the border with Mexico if he doesn't get his Wall™. Who does he think he's punishing?

Trump blames Democrats for the deaths of two migrant children
This marks the first time the president has publicly mentioned the death of the migrant children . . . “Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally,” the president wrote on Twitter. “If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!” 


Trump is still losing the shutdown showdown
"I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Border Security. From what I hear, they are spending so much time on Presidential Harassment that they have little time left for things like stopping crime and our military!"


Hurting his base:
Trump’s shutdown takes a toll on the farmers who are already hurting from Trump’s trade war

Why the Wall™ makes no sense -- in just 48 seconds 

Federal immigration crimes at Trump's golf club 

There was a time when people's political careers were ruined when news like this was revealed . . .
Trump's anti-capitalist trade policies

The Cesspool: Trump stays at his resort Mar-a-Lago on the taxpayer's dime. But other residents were charged extra for New Year's party tickets because Trump would be there (and who gets that money?)
President Donald Trump has canceled plans to spend the New Year’s holiday at Mar-a-Lago. A source who had planned to attend the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party said Friday Palm Beach was abuzz with members and guests talking about their own plans to bail on the Trump family’s annual gala. It’s unclear whether Mar-a-Lago will let people wiggle out of their tickets at this late date. But evidently, some club members and guests have no interest in paying extra-high ticket prices if the president will not be in attendance.

In Russia news . . . 

More Manafort links to Russia
“Boyarkin … was a key link between a senior member of the Trump campaign and a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. . . Boyarkin told Time this fall that he was in touch with Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the heat of the presidential race on behalf of the Russian oligarch. . . Said Boyarkin: “He owed us a lot of money. And he was offering ways to pay it back.”


The problem with the Michael Cohen in Prague story

I think I know a lot about the Trump/Russia affair, and then I read Marcy Wheeler. Sheesh

Update on the "mystery subpoena" case now being heard by the Supreme Court

Here is the letter from House Republicans asking that investigations into bias against Trump in the Russia investigation (Strzok, Page, etc) be continued -- and the DOJ Inspector General report that has already addressed those concerns

[DOJ IG] In particular, we were concerned about text messages exchanged by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Special Counsel to the Deputy Director, that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted  by bias or improper considerations . . . . However, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five, or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretextual. Nonetheless, these messages cast a cloud over the FBI’s handling of the Midyear investigation and the investigation’s credibility. But our review did not find evidence to connect the political views expressed in these messages to the specific investigative decisions  that we reviewed; rather, consistent with the analytic approach described above, we found that these specific decisions were the result of discretionary judgments made during the course of an investigation by the Midyear agents and prosecutors and that these judgment calls were not unreasonable. . .

Trump's latest desperate distraction
"The Mueller Angry Democrats recently deleted approximately 19,000 Text messages between FBI Agent Lisa Page and her lover, Agent Peter S. These Texts were asked for and INVALUABLE to the truth of the Witch Hunt Hoax. This is a total Obstruction of Justice. All Texts Demanded!"

The fact:
There are some major factual problems with Trump’s claim . . . First, a new report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog suggests the roughly 19,000 messages slipped through the cracks due to technical glitches with the FBI’s data-collection tool on Samsung devices . . . . Second, perhaps most importantly, while the messages were initially not captured, they have since been recovered. . . .

In other news . . .

Here's why Trump can't win in 2020
He's 'Hemorrhaging' Independents

Trump’s Base Strategy Raises Questions About Re-Election

Another gender gap facing Trump: veterans 

Trump's one-way loyalty
Trump Now Mocks Scott Pruitt

House Dems sign a powerhouse General Counsel
Nancy Pelosi isn't messing around

Boo hoo
“About two-thirds of Republicans returning to the House for the 116th Congress this week have never experienced the exquisite pain of being on the outs in an institution where the party in charge is totally in charge. Majority control runs the gamut from determining the floor agenda to determining access to the prime meeting space. It will be a rude awakening for many who have known only their exalted majority status.”

Start your engines!
Four Senators Gear Up for 2020 Bids

One consequence of a huge pool of nominees: limited fundraising opportunities

Trump's visit to troops in Iraq raised some difficult questions: but not for the pundits of Fox World

The perfect story for Fox World
[T]he hosts of Fox & Friends attacked California Democrats following the tragic shooting of Newman California officer Ronil Singh by an undocumented immigrant who was said to be fleeing to Mexico. . .

***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.***

Saturday, December 29, 2018


Part of the self-perpetuating myth of Trump is that he's fabulously successful -- and lucky. In fact his career has been a series of failures both personal and professional: divorces, bankruptcies, and transparent scams (TRUMP UNIVERSITY???).

His unexpected win in 2016 (which we now know was manufactured for him) is the source of an unbelievable amount of bragging. But then the 2018 midterms happened, the stock market collapsed, the government shut down, and the Mueller investigation snagged some huge convictions of people close to Trump, who are now cooperating against him.

I said I stay away from predictions, but it's not much of a prediction to say that 2019 is going to be a very rough year for Trump. He is LOSING on issue after issue, he is losing support from his party, and most of all he is losing his ability to drive the news cycle through his boasting, his outbursts, and his lies
[May 26, 2016]  Trump: 'We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning'

A look ahead:
“Anyone who thinks Trump is a master politician is wrong. He’s a master illusionist, which isn’t the same thing. Politicians can’t keep pulling rabbits out of empty hats forever. At some point, they face a reckoning, and Trump’s is well underway . . . Trump is talented at making it appear that he has more than he really does — more money, more respect, more support. All those campaign rallies before the midterm elections were not just an attempt to save the Republican majorities in Congress or feed Trump’s insatiable ego. They were also demonstrations of the fervor of his core supporters — and implied warnings to Republicans who might cross him.”
[W]hen shutdowns occur, we tend to see officials taking steps to resolve the problem. Policymakers are quickly shuttled between meetings; proposals and counter-proposals change hands; and some sense of urgency hangs over the standoff. The current shutdown is … different. Efforts to resolve the problem are as haphazard as they are sporadic, and on Capitol Hill, in the waning days of Republican congressional dominance, no one seems to be doing any work at all. . . .
Nancy Pelosi “will be speaker in six days, and she plans to do one of the following things to open the shuttered portion of the government . . . Each one of those options would result in President Trump getting $1.3 billion for border security. No wall. Not $1.6 billion. No slush fund. Nada. . . . A smart Republican Hill hand makes this point: Trump can not get out of here without folding in some way, since he won’t be getting the $5 billion he’s asking for. Why isn’t he folding before the Dem majority takes over, and before it seems like he’s folding to Pelosi?”
“Days into a partial government shutdown that has left tens of thousands of federal workers furloughed, President Donald Trump and his close allies have begun feeling more confident about the political perch they occupy. . . . In their eyes, a prolonged stalemate will likely fracture voters along traditional partisan lines, and the ultimate outcome will be a debate waged largely on the president’s terms. Increasingly, they see an upside in forcing likely incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have to spend the first days, if not weeks, of the next Congress engaged in an argument over border wall funding rather than her preferred agenda: a mix of sweeping ethics and election reforms and congressional oversight. And they continue to believe that a conversation around immigration and border security is in the president’s best political interests.”

[NB: I do hope this is what they are thinking. Every poll shows the opposite. And all the Dems have to do is say they WILL fund border security but NOT the Wall™. People understand the difference. And they understand what it means when the president won't even talk with Democrats. He said throughout the campaign that Mexico would pay for the Wall™. Then he had two years of GOP control in Congress and couldn't get it funded. And now he expects people to blame the Dems?]

Trump and Republicans dumping shutdown mess on Pelosi, which is their first mistake

Home alone
President Donald Trump is venting in public and private about Democrats’ refusal to fund a border wall, but there is no sign the president is advancing deadlocked budget negotiations that have kept the government closed for a week. Cooped up in the White House after canceling his planned two-week-plus vacation to his private Florida club, Trump is consumed by the shutdown, according to people close to him. And the president is increasingly isolated. . . .

“On back-to-back days last week, Trump hosted large bipartisan gatherings that were meant to be valedictory, year-end statements of success . . . Instead, Trump used each ceremony as an opportunity to denounce Democrats for opposing his multibillion-dollar demands for U.S. taxpayer money to fund a southern border wall. . . .” 

Mick Mulvaney now claims, ridiculously, that Trump is trying to meet with Schumer and Pelosi, but can't find them -- because THEY don't want to make a deal with HIM 

[NB: Here's the proof that this is all B.S. You don't NEED Pelosi right now to make a deal. She isn't Speaker yet.]

Trump and his cronies are trying to drive a wedge between the two Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. It's so obvious and ham-handed -- but two old hands like Schumer and Pelosi have seen it all]
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Trump claimed, is more amenable to an agreement. “Nancy Pelosi is calling the shots, not Chuck. And Chuck wants to have this done, I really believe that," Trump said, according to Bloomberg. “But she’s calling the shots, and she’s calling them because she wants the votes, and probably if they do something she’s not going to get the votes and she’s not going to speaker of the House and that would not be good for her.” 
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News that Nancy Pelosi can’t support border wall funding because of the Jan. 3 floor vote for House Speaker . . .
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made similar comments Friday on CBS News. “Nancy Pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership and not protect our borders,” she said. “And that’s why she’s unwilling to negotiate with us and unwilling to make any type of a deal.”. . .

Remember when the Dems offered Trump $25 BILLION for his Wall™, in exchange for fixing DACA? Trump doesn't

The big problem with the Wall™? NO ONE believes it's a good idea, except Trump 

None of the "reasons" he gives hold up under scrutiny: 

[NB: Saying "I want it because I want it" or "I want it because I promised it to my base during the election" aren't changing any minds.]

Trump thinks that the way to get what he wants is to ratchet up his threats
President Trump “threatened on Friday to close the nation’s southern border if Congress doesn’t fund his border wall, . . . Trump also said he would cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where violence and crime have motivated thousands of people to flee and seek asylum in the United States . . . .”

[NB: Of course, this is an acknowledgment that he WON'T get the border wall funding he wants. Savvy negotiating move!]

Never mind what the State Department said just 10 days ago: "The United States, joining an effort by Mexico, will commit to investing billions in Central America in hopes of ending the poverty, violence and drug-trafficking that are driving thousands of people in the region to undertake the difficult trek to the United States, the State Department announced on Tuesday." And forget that his head of Customs and Border Protection told Congress: "… that solving the migrant crisis requires financial support for economic development in Central America and increased regional cooperation more generally."
In a befuddling series of tweets Friday . . .

The Dems are going to look into the deaths of those two migrant children in U.S. custody  

House Dems Beef Up Legal Teams For Various And Wide-Ranging Trump Probes

Has Trump changed the presidency?
In Trump’s Washington, facts are less relevant. Insults and highly personal attacks are increasingly employed by members of both parties. The White House press briefing is all but gone, international summits are optional, the arts are an afterthought and everything — including inherently nonpartisan institutions and investigations — is suddenly political.  aking a wrecking ball to decorum and institutions, Trump has changed, in ways both subtle and profound, how Washington works and how it is viewed by the rest of the nation and world. “He’s dynamited the institution of the presidency,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. . . . Indeed, Trump brought to the White House the same fact-challenged, convention-defying style that got him elected. From his first days in office, Trump pushed falsehoods about the size of the inaugural crowd and unfounded allegations about millions of illegal voters. He has not let up since. . .[read on]


In Russia news. . .

Giuliani struggles to keep his story straight on Mueller cooperation
Rudy Giuliani is now calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to be investigated for "destruction of evidence"
“House Republicans . . . brought an unceremonious end to their yearlong look at the [FBI]’s handling of probes into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails and Donald Trump’s ties to Russia . . . The wrapping up of the congressional investigation, done in a letter and without a full final report, was a quiet end to a probe that was conducted mostly behind closed doors . . . .”

In other news . . .

Nancy Pelosi's successor?

GOP winner of corrupt NC election won't be seated by the incoming Democratic House

Trump keeps wrecking environmental regulations. The new Democratic House creates a Climate Change Committee
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed yet another weakening of an Obama-era regulation on Friday, this time targeting toxic chemicals from oil and coal-fired power plants. . .
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will chair the new Select Committee on Climate Change, House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said today in a statement. . .  

It's getting harder and harder to make bipartisanship work

Who the Repubs do (and don't) fear in 2020

The concern that citizenship data in the census is being used to drive partisan redistricting is no longer hypothetical

MSNBC tops Fox World ratings

Fox World hosts keep blurting out the truth
On Fox News' Outnumbered, the panel members were discussing the volatile stock market leading up to 2019, when Kat Timpf remarked, "[Trump] is very willing to take the credit but he’s not addressing the blame." . . .

Bonus item: TPM announces its Golden Dukes awards

***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.***