- Trump is threatening to gut the Affordable Care Act by refusing payments to insurance companies. This would have a severely destabilizing effect on the insurance markets, and the blood would be on Trump's hands alone. The deadline to make these payments is Thursday.
- The CBO has scored Republican's attempt to repeal Obamacare directly, and estimated 32 million people would lose health insurance as a result. That's 10% of the US population. And yet they're still trying? Worse, premiums can be expected to double in ten years. These guys do not care about people at all.
- There was apparently a meeting tonight between key senators who stood in the way of Zombiecare. I imagine it was mostly bluster by Trump, but these guys just won't let it lie, will they? I hope to have an update tomorrow on the details of the meeting.
- Trump has ended a covert CIA program to arm Syrian rebels, something that is sure to please Russia (senior officials described it as a major concession). Because Trump has zero interest in actual policy, it's almost certain that somebody asked him to do so (most likely Putin).
- In a mixed bag, the Supreme Court let the expanded definition of relatives constructed by a Hawaiian judge stand, but limited his ruling on refugees. I'll take it.
- Republicans are trying to undo the 17th amendment to the constitution, so that state legislatures can pick the senators representing their state at the federal level. This would be tantamount to destroying the democracy of the USA.
- You may have heard of Charlie Gard, a terminally ill baby in the UK. A special committee in the US has taken the first steps towards granting Charlie and his parents permanent residency in America, which could sidestep a UK court's ruling to withdraw Gard from life support all together. However, because the amendment is attached to a highly contentious immigration bill, this is merely a cynical attempt to solidify support by bartering the life of this baby.
- Given the strict disclosure requirements to obtain a security clearance, House Democrats have asked the FBI to investigate if various members of the Trump family have violated those requirements (they obviously have).
- The US military is renting space in Trump tower at a cost of $130,000 per month. This, despite the fact that he has not stayed at the place since assuming the mantle of President. This fucker is milking the Presidency for as much money as he possibly can. (Sorry, paywall at WSJ)
- Trump seems to think that only two things are important: that he gets rich, and that other people think he's powerful. In the vein of the latter, he is obsessed with sanctions and tariffs on other countries. Case in point: a day after certifying Iran's compliance with a treaty, he slapped further sanctions on them.
- Kris Kobach continues to be a terrible person.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
I'm just going to dive straight into this one...
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Ugh. The news is no better today than any other day with this administration.
- Trump had another previously-undisclosed hour-long meeting with Putin at the G20, without the presence of any US personnel. The optics on this are so freaking bad, even if they just sat and basked in each other's presence for an hour.
- In the wake of the crumbling Zombiecare plan, Trump demanded a full repeal. This lasted all of a few hours before it was shot down. Trump then declared that he would let the health care system fail, and blame it on democrats. Not how it works, buddy. You're in charge, and the buck stops with you. Letting the health system fail out of fucking spite is so juvenile.
- Trump has gone all in on the "collusion is the new normal!" defense of his son. There is no denying their actions (despite their continuously changing story over the past two weeks), and this is the latest pathetic attempt to cover their sorry asses.
- Trump has declared this week "Made In America" week. Very appropriate, given his status as the king of hypocrisy.
- Another Russian has been identified in Donny Jr's infamous meeting. How many freaking Russians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? (With all apologies to Russians who do not work in the government...)
- House Republicans have proposed completely defunding the Election Assistance Commission, whose sole job is to ensure the integrity of elections. Of course the fuckers have. Why don't these people feel that they can be held accountable any more? (Sorry, paywall at WSJ)
- Tillerson is shuttering the War Crimes Office at the State Department. Moral high ground? We don't need no stinking moral high ground...
- And finally, House Republicans have made their budget proposal for 2018. It contains huge rollbacks and cuts, and goes far beyond tax policy. Are you surprised that it further "sets out special procedures that could ultimately allow Republicans to pass legislation over the objections of Senate Democrats who can normally block bills they oppose"? I didn't think so.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Some big news on the zombiecare bill:
- Over the weekend, John McCain had surgery, and said he would be out from the Senate for a week, possibly more. This put McConnell in a bind, as McCain's vote would be critical after two Republican defections. The vote was then postponed.
- Insurance companies came out against the bill, deriding it as completely unworkable.
- Today, news came out of two further defections (from the conservative wing), essentially killing the bill completely. It now appears that Republicans cannot craft a bill that they can pass to replace Obamacare. Trump has repeated his calls for a straight-up repeal; this is essentially guaranteed to be dead on arrival.
- Give yourselves a pat on the back, but don't fool yourself into thinking that this is over.
- Adam Schiff summed up things very well. The administration has completely destroyed their credibility on this one (not that they had any to begin with).
- Donny Jr's lawyer went on the defensive on Sunday, claiming that the Secret Service (who pride themselves on being apolitical) were at fault for not stopping the meeting. Only problem: Donny Jr wasn't under Secret Service protection at that stage. Or was he saying that the Turnip himself was actually present?
- Here's a look at the timeline of that fateful day. It's very possible that Trump was actually in that meeting. Either way, he almost certainly knew about it.
- Donny Jr's attorney was paid $50,000 in June. I wonder what they were worried about.
- Trump has once again claimed he's signed more bills than anybody ever. This is wrong by a long shot, and the NY Times has you covered with all the details. The present total is 42 bills, 15 of which were CRA bills to undo Obama regulations, 14 were ceremonial and routine lawmaking, 5 were bureaucratic tweaks, 4 were space and science, and 4 were veteran's affairs. None of these bills constitute major policy.
- Trump has reluctantly signed off on the Iran nuclear deal once again. Apparently this took a lot of convincing from basically everybody.
- The administration has released its agenda for the NAFTA renegotiation talks. I don't know enough about economics to comment meaningfully on this, however.
- A judge has ordered Mar-A-Lago to release their visitor logs, in response to a transparency lawsuit. I seem to recall that their record-keeping was abysmal, so I don't know how much we'll learn.
- Sessions wants police to increase their seizure of property and cash under civil forfeiture laws. This is a terrible idea, because those laws do not require convictions, let alone charges to be brought, to justify the permanent seizure of assets. Because police departments keep the assets they seize, this is a terrible incentive for police to undertake profiling and arbitrary seizures. In short, these laws are terrible, and Sessions wants more of them.
- How do you think the USA's reputation is holding up abroad? Perhaps on issues like anti-corruption and ethics? The resigning ethics chief for the USA claims we're presently a complete laughing stock. But I could have told you that...
- The first section of Trump's wall to be built would completely destroy a wildlife refuge established in 1943. Fucking fantastic.
- The military had a program to recruit soldiers from other countries to make use of their language skills, in exchange for a pathway towards citizenship. Those soldiers are now deportation fodder. This is how we treat our allies. This is disgusting.
- Is election hacking a problem? An analysis from South Carolina suggests 150,000 attempts to hack their registration database on election day last year (sorry, paywall - WSJ).
- This is apparently "Made In America" week, according to Trump at least. Too bad his companies (and his daughter's) don't do that. To add insult to injury, the DHS just added 15,000 visas for low-pay immigrant workers.
Monday, July 17, 2017
I apologize that I'm slow on the uptake of these posts at the moment. I'm presently out of the country on business, and keeping up with the administration's shenanigans is really very time-consuming!
Here's what I've found today.
Here's what I've found today.
- There were apparently 8 people in Donny Jr's infamous meeting. One of them was a Soviet intelligence officer. What the fuck was this meeting about?
- Kushner is now complaining that somebody hit the wrong button on this security clearance form. Not sure what gives here; apparently you need to enter your password repeatedly to submit the damn thing...
- Finally, we have a formal complaint to the Federal Election Commission about Donny Jr's meeting.
- The administration has turned to the Supreme Court to clarify their ruling on the travel ban. This is in response to a judge undermining everything yesterday by broadly increasing the scope of the ruling.
- The Trump administration is quietly terminating funding to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars that had been promised for teen pregnancy prevention. I will never understand how Republicans hate abortions, but hate the concept of birth control nearly as much. Abstinence has been shown time and time again to be a dismal failure of a policy. Family planning services are crucial to helping break the cycle of poverty.
- The White House just posted the personal contact information of people who emailed them imploring them not to release their personal information. This is sickening (and as an article pointed out yesterday, all part of the master plan).
- Health groups have come firmly out against the new Senate zombiecare bill. As expected.
- Ugh. More Trump conflicts of interest, this time in the Philippines.
While Donny is still in the news today, we also have a zombiecare bill coming back from the dead. Let's see what there is...
- Republicans have unveiled their revised healthcare bill (BBC's hyper-non-partisan analysis). Politico reports that two senators have already defected - from the left and right. The bill continues to be complete and utter garbage.
- Trump is trying to justify his son's treason by calling it "opposition research", saying that "most people would have taken that meeting". No, most people in that situation would be calling the FBI... PSA: Donny Jr is 40 years old. He is not a "young man".
- Trump's lawyers discovered the infamous emails three weeks ago, as a result of amending Kushner's security clearance request. There is no way that Trump only found out about them a couple of days ago.
- A judge has just dramatically expanded the definition of "close relative" for the purpose of Turnip's travel ban (so I'm being juvenile - sue me). This will almost certainly go back to the Supreme Court.
- Trump is on a crusade to slash legal immigration. All of their talking points are demonstrably mendacious garbage.
- Why was a Russian money-laundering case involving more than $230 million dismissed without explanation by the DOJ? Inquiring minds want to know!
- The White House has stated (I almost wrote "honestly believes"!) that it is being as transparent as humanly possible. Also, I'm a unicorn.
- Trump is in France. As far as I can tell, nothing concrete has come out of this visit.
- Here's a deconstruction of Trump's Reuters interview. I think the translation is pretty spot on.
- Pence's press secretary won't say if his boss met with Russians. It's a freaking Russian nesting doll!
- An important read: Why is this administration so dysfunctional? The purpose is to break things. Every thing.
- Holy fuck. Session's speech yesterday? He compared the anti-LGBT "crusade" to the civil rights movement.
Oh boy. Let's just get straight to it...
- The fallout from Donny Jr continues, with headlines such as "White House Under Siege" from the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Trump says the mood in the White House is "fantastic."
- Donny's defense? "Someone sent me an email. I can't help what someone sends me." This is a true statement. However, it is NOT a defense of his response: "I love it! Can we meet next week?"
- Trump Jr's responses to the unfolding calamity? They were scripted by the highest echelons of the administration. "Don Jr.'s false statement Sat. was drafted by WH aides & seen by Trump. This wasn't Jr being dopey. This was an attempted WH cover-up." - Bill Kristol (of all people).
- Trump is congratulating his son on his "transparency". Oh my. "Yes, you're so good for being transparent, even if that transparency just revealed concrete evidence of collusion with Russia..." Missing the forest for the flying unicorns in your imagination.
- Trump gave an interview to Reuters. This serves to highlight only how terrible he is, and how nothing he says can be believed.
- Trump has been sued for blocking people on twitter. Last month, Mr Spicer said Mr Trump's tweets were considered "official statements by the president of the United States".
- We have concrete evidence of the government pouring money into Trump's pockets: the State Department spent over $15,000 at a Trump hotel in Vancouver.
- Christopher Wray, who was nominated to fill the role of the head of the FBI (replacing Comey), was testifying before the Senate today. People are reporting that he refused to answer when asked if Russia was an enemy of the USA, and seemed to squirm through other Russian and election-related questions, as if Trump was watching... Here is the only report on the hearing that I've found, describing him as coming out "largely unscathed".
- In what bodes well (ie, terribly) for Title IX, DeVos is meeting with men's rights activists to learn about how Title IX treats men terribly. Everything is normal (everything is not normal).
- Sessions is giving a speech to an anti-LGBT hate group at a closed event. WTF?
- The Department of Homeland Security won't commit to defending DACA in court. I am utterly disgusted, and not the least bit surprised. These are people's lives they're playing with, who have done absolutely no wrong other than to be born in the wrong place and brought here by their parents, and know no other life.
- Another lawsuit against the EPA, this time over their attempt to delay regulation regarding ozone pollution...
The explosive revelations from the NY Times continue apace today, as they publish the full email chain as evidence of young Donny's collusion with the Russians. The coverup that the administration was attempting has been blown out of the water, for the umpteenth time.
- Here is the NY Times piece: Donny knew full well he was meeting with Russians who were offering dirt on Clinton, and his response: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
- The BBC's analysis: "The pattern has been set. The New York Times runs a story, Trump Jr issues his response, then the noose tightens."
- The Washington Post is now going so far as to report that this is concrete evidence of attempted collusion by the Trump campaign.
- Trump put out a very brief statement defending his son: "My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency." Given Trump's usual love of superlatives, that's damn close to a back-handed compliment.
- Donny tried to get ahead of the NY Times story by tweeting the email chain himself. Wow. Talk about implicating himself, Kushner, Manafort and the entire Trump campaign and administration in multiple ways! The narrative is completely out of his control now, and there will be no recovering it.
- Here's a fairly readable summary of where things stand. You just know this is going to get worse before it gets better, too...
- Trump is presently claiming he knew nothing. However... Two days before the now infamous meeting, Trump promised big news about Hillary's crimes the following week.
- Conway, as always, is claiming that nothing underhanded occurred. I automatically choose to believe the opposite of anything that she says, so something was definitely going on.
- Russia is holding Trump's feet to the fire, demanding that their seized diplomatic mansions be returned. This makes things quite awkward for him.
- GOP Senators vow to release a new health care bill on Thursday. I bet it will be crap. They are apparently planning one final last blitz to push it through. Cruz is pushing an idea to allow insurers to offer stingy plans (death spiral fodder). For reference, here is an overview of how the GOP has misrepresented and demonized Obamacare. Prepare to resist.
- Two important outcomes from the G20: World leaders push ahead on climate change without the US. And How Putin and Trump cost the G20 its Moral Authority.
- Pruitt is planning to give climate change denial "scientists" an equal platform with actual scientists in a "televised debate". Ugh. This guy is the worst.
- Sessions wants to waste more money on his war against drugs by reintroducing a failed program called "D.A.R.E."
- The election fraud commission has asked states to hold off on sending data, as legal challenges grow and concerns over data security mount.
- An important article discussing the Trump administration's deregulation efforts at agencies. "Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams and what the appointees are working on." Evidence of conflicts of interest abounds.
- Kushner was seeking half a billion dollars of investment from Qatar, which he apparently didn't receive, months before Trump went on the offensive calling for a blockade of the country. Wow. Conflicts of interest muchly? Businesspeople should not be running our foreign policy.