I'm away on holiday at the moment, and the internet is terrible at this hotel. I hope to be back online in the next couple of days.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
This opening item is a big one.
- "I feel like we sort of choked" - a senior aide to Obama, regarding their response to the unfolding calamity of Russian election hacking. I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing, and find out how the Obama administration stayed mum on the Russian threat so as to appear not to politicize the issue. Might as well have had them rooting for Republicans...
- Cracks are showing in the support of the Republican death bill. Keep up that pressure!
- The Trump administration is being particularly opaque in dealings with the media. Lately, they've been holding "off-camera" press conferences (if holding them at all). CNN's response was to send a sketch artist to the briefing. From the article: "The Trump White House has been cutting back on the frequency and the length of on-camera briefings" and "The White House has also prohibited live audio broadcasts of the briefingT. This is he White House has also prohibited live audio broadcasts of the briefing". This is terrible for government transparency.
- What the fuck is the administration doing? "The Trump administration on Friday moved to eliminate the State Department unit responsible for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan — transferring its duties to a regional bureau whose leadership ranks have been decimated... The development came with less than a day's notice."
- Wow. I'll let this headline speak for itself: FBI official won't say that President Trump is not a Russian agent.
- Apparently Tillerson is frustrating the White House by caring more about setting the State Department up for solid functioning than appointing Republican political appointees. Huh.
- Trump signed a bill today "making it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees". Despite receiving Democrat support (an oddity), I'm still not sure that it's actually a good thing.
- The NY Times crawled through Trump's public comments to construct a map of all of his lies during his time in office. It's really disturbing.
Friday, June 23, 2017
Today's coverage is dominated by the heinous "health care" bill that was released by Senate Republicans after much secrecy. Here's what I've distilled:
In other news:
- This bill does away with the employer mandate and the individual mandate.
- It begins the process of dismantling federal support for Medicare.
- It allows states to set the level at which people are eligible for Medicare at 0% of the Federal Poverty Line (ie, Medicare doesn't exist).
- It strips back to completely barebones what is required of an insurance "plan".
- It eliminates the essential health benefits mandated by Obamacare, including maternity care, newborn care, mental health services, and prescription drug coverage.
- It targets abortion providers and abortion coverage.
- It reduces subsidies.
- And it does all of this by giving enormous tax cuts to the rich.
- From the mouth of Obama: "It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else."
- No wonder it was crafted in secrecy - this thing is vile, worse than the House bill on some important measures.
- NY Times - G.O.P. Health Plan Is Really a Rollback of Medicaid
- Washington Post - Senate Republicans’ claim of saving individual health insurance markets could prove hollow
In other news:
- Trump says he doesn't have recordings of his discussions with Comey. Yawn. I've said it before: Don't listen to Trump; he only lies. Watch what he does.
- More on the election hacking: hackers got hold of voter registration information, and in at least one case, managed to modify the database. Haven't we been told for 8 months that it would be impossible to modify voter rolls? This should be setting off alarm bells!
- Dozens of disabled protestors were dragged from their wheelchairs by police at a protest against the "health care" bill today. This really makes those police look bad.
- The Directors of National Intelligence and the NSA told Mueller that Trump pressured them to publicly say that there was no collusion with Russia. How's that obstruction charge going?
- The mass arrests on Inauguration Day followed by reports of maltreatment were already bad. Now we have multiple arestees suing the police department with charges of rape. This report is really awful. I don't know what to say. Police are already shielded so strongly from the law in this country that they can murder people without repercussions. I wish the plaintiffs luck.
- Remember how Trump promised to rid Washington of special interests? One of Trump's recent appointees is a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia who has been paid almost half a million dollars to represent their interests. Disgusting.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Today is an odd mixed-bag of headlines. Nothing particularly major, but bits and pieces from all walks.
- Trump wants solar panels on his wall. Of course, he's claiming it's his own idea (it isn't). Of course, a stupendously better idea would be to invest the money earmarked for the wall in solar panels.
- A DHS official in a senate hearing reported she knew of evidence of Russian electoral hacking in 21 states. Not quite as many as had been previously leaked, but still definitely worth paying attention to.
- Now Sessions has retained counsel too. His lawyer sounds like a terrible person.
- The DHS never ran any audits to determine if the election results were hacked. This seems monumentally stupid to me. They should be required to run risk-limiting audits by default.
- Under likely pressure from the White House, the House has accused the Senate's sanctions bill of violating the constitution. This appears to be a delaying tactic; the House could easily remedy the supposed situation.
- The EPA plans to make 8% of their workforce redundant. Remember that the EPA is still in a hiring freeze. Yup, hard to do your job at the EPA in this climate. Disgusting.
- Trump wants sharp cuts to subsidized housing in every program except the one that makes him a profit. Why am I no longer surprised...
- Having essentially forced out the previous government loan chief, DeVos has picked a new candidate for the job who is a relative nobody, has limited experience, and an extremely dodgy-sounding PhD. This is going to end in tears. There is no other way.
- Yikes - Senate Republicans seem to be setting up to rewrite the senate rules again in order to get their crappy healthcare bill through. This is an incredibly dangerous precedent to set. Shifting the goalposts every time you don't get your way is no way to govern.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
So, we've been promised a health care bill on Thursday. Pigs may fly. Here's an update on what's been leaked about it so far. There appears to be troubled among Republican senators regarding how to treat opioid addiction, too.
In other news:
In other news:
- Republicans held the day in special elections in South Carolina and Georgia. The special election in Georgia had huge sums of money thrown at it, but John Ossoff fell short 5% in a very high turnout election. The South Carolina election had a much lower turnout, and had the democrat trailing by only 3%.
- Despite strong concerns that the national security apparatus had regarding Flynn, the new CIA director was happy to tell him CIA secrets... This all looks shady for Pompeo.
- Fresh from shooting down a Syrian plane, the US has now shot down a Syrian drone. This seems to be escalating.
- Tillerson has decided he wants to work with Russia on... wait for it... cyberwarfare and cybersecurity. I don't understand, and I think he's got some strong articulating to do.
- And finally, Pruitt is still cleaning up at the EPA, dismantling as much of it as he possibly can. They're not going to be able to do their jobs at all, soon. "This says to me that they do not want objective science."
Another day down...
- Republicans are trying to push their crappy health care bill through the senate before the July 4th recess. Presently, the entire thing is a secret. They are refusing to allow Democrats ten hours to review the bill before less than 20 hours of debate before a vote, in what can only be described as a brazenly undemocratic sham. A reminder that the Obamacare vote in the senate had 25 days of debate, with numerous Republican amendments being discussed and adopted. Democrats have responded by withholding consent in all senate operations. Please contact your Senators. (I'm sorry for being a broken record.)
- In what is going to be a diplomatic nightmare, US coalition forces shot down a Syrian plane. Russia responded sharply, warning that aircraft in certain airspaces will be treated as targets.
- In a patronizing display of bullshit, Trump met with the President of Panama, and made public remarks that the US did a good job building the Panama Canal.
- Essentially everybody just resigned from the President's Advisory Council on HIV/Aids. Basically, the administration wasn't listening to them and was actively undermining them. None of this is normal or good.
- Rick Perry, Secretary for Energy, has gone on the record disputing human involvement with climate change. Apparently CO2 is harmless, folks. Further evidence that this administration is dangerously incompetent.
- The State Department just fucked over students in its fellowship program. Just read the first few paragraphs of this article. This is absolutely pathetic, particularly when you have the creme de la creme wanting to work with you.
- The White House is suppressing the release of information by declining to hold any press briefings. This is completely unacceptable from the government, who only govern because of We the People.
- The White House is pushing House Republicans to defang the Russian sanctions bill that the Senate passed last week.
- Remember Manafort? Apparently he had even more meetings that we should be worried about...
- ICE continues to be terrible.