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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ryan Lizza, New Yorker: On Wednesday night, I received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. He wasn't happy. Earlier in the night, I'd tweeted, citing a "senior White House official," that Scaramucci was having dinner at the White House with President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity and the former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It was an interesting group, and raised some questions. Was Trump getting strategic advice from Hannity? Was he considering hiring Shine? But Scaramucci had his own question -- for me. "Who leaked that to you?" he asked. I said I couldn't give him that information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. "What I'm going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we'll start over," he said. I laughed ... "O.K., I'm going to fire every one of them, and then you haven't protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks." read more


E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: The news is being reported on split screen as if the one big story in Washington is disconnected from the other. But President Trump's lawless threats against Attorney General Jeff Sessions have a lot in common with the Senate's reckless approach to the health coverage of tens of millions of Americans. On both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, we are witnessing a collapse of the norms of governing, constant violations of our legitimate expectations of political leaders, and the mutation of the normal conflicts of democracy into a form of warfare that demands the opposition's unconditional surrender. Our country is now as close to crossing the line from democracy to autocracy as it has been in our lifetimes. Trump's ignorant, self-involved contempt for his duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" ought to inspire patriots of every ideological disposition to a robust and fearless defiance.


President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that transgender people cannot "serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," repeating a claim from conservative Republicans that transgender service members disrupt the ranks and add medical costs that undermine troop readiness. The abrupt announcement seemed to stun military leaders, even though Trump said in a series of tweets that he consulted with "my generals and military experts." At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter. read more


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ross Douthat, New York Times: So it's basically madness all the way to the top: bad policy, bad strategy, bad politics, bad legal maneuvering, bad optics, a self-defeating venture carried out via deranged-as-usual tweets and public insults. Trump hasn't had a stroke or suffered a neurological disaster, and his behavior in the White House is no different from the behavior he manifested consistently while winning enough votes to take the presidency. Nonetheless clearly impaired, gravely deficient somewhere at the intersection of reason and judgment and conscience and self-control. Pointing this out is wearying and repetitive, but still it must be pointed out. You can be as loyal as Jeff Sessions and still suffer the consequences of that plain and inescapable truth: This president should not be the president, and the sooner he is not, the better.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In case Senate Republicans' efforts to pass a bill to both repeal and replace Obamacare didn't look dire enough already, the Senate parliamentarian has decided two more portions of the bill can't be included without a 60-vote threshold. According to Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee, the parliamentarian has struck down even larger portions of the bill than before. The latest parts of the bill subject to the so-called "Byrd Bath," violating the Byrd rule that constrains what can be considered under reconciliation, are the GOP's plan to allow insurers to charge older Americans five times more for health insurance than younger ones, and a provision allowing small businesses to create health associations that could be sold across state lines. That's on top of a whole host of other objections the parliamentarian has made that already were going to force a 60-vote majority to pass and kill the bill, as it currently doesn't even have majority support in the Senate. read more


Comments

Murkowski's committee postponed confirmation vote for Trump nominees

The committee led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski postponed a vote on six Trump administration nominees on Wednesday, the same day a Cabinet secretary allegedly threatened retribution against the Alaska Republican over her healthcare vote. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee publicized the postponement of the vote, which included three Department of the Interior nominees, shortly after 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Damn, Donnie is doing what I thought would nigh be impossible these days in Washington: He's bringing Republicans and Democrats together in opposing his insane need to dominate and seek immediate retribution over any slight he feels is directed toward him. It's almost like he's ignorant that in the likelihood of an impeachment the very people he decries and seeks revenge on today will stand in judgment of him tomorrow.

We (the Trump realists) told you over and over again the man did not have the intellect, curiosity, nor disposition to be the POTUS. Not just because of his disparate policies which often contradicted each other, and not because he nakedly used fear and hatred to bludgeon both his primary and general election opponents, but because he is, was, and forever will be completely unfit for the office the Electoral College elevated him to and now the world stands to suffer from his personal failings instead of just his creditors and the countless contractors he swindled through the years.

The talkingpointsmemo.com>following is a comment from a former federal prosecutor with extensive experience in public corruption cases:

The Sessions tweets and comments are nuts in so many ways. They are also incredibly stupid and self-defeating. Yes, he's attacking the rule of law and undermining his own DOJ. That's bad. He's also continuing to build a case against himself in real time on Twitter and through public comments–and he doesn't seem to realize it. The statements represent admissible state of mind/corrupt intent evidence that Mueller can and will use to continue to build an obstruction case. Why is he so upset Sessions recused? Why does he want someone running this investigation who he can control? For the same reason he fired Comey: Because he wants to shut the investigation down. Trump's lawyers (at least the ones who understand federal criminal law) must be beside themselves. Meanwhile, the special counsel and his staff can just sit back and watch their case-in-chief get better and better. He can't seem to help himself from acting guilty AF. Keep tweeting, Mr. President. Keep tweeting.

Trump just keeps on digging in the minds of most objective people. He can't help himself, it's who he is and how he sees the world.

Military Leaders Feared Trump Trangender Tweet Was an Order to Strike

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

The United States of America can ill afford to operate in this manner. It never has before and I'm almost certain that it never will again after all the turmoil and chaos this President is causing with his personal shortcomings and ill-judgments.

Governance by tweet is not governance, it's insanity and unsettling to the world of normal presidential communications.

I, of course, wholeheartedly agree with all of this, but I think we really do ourselves a disservice if we focus on sideshows like his treatment of Sessions. I know full well that underneath the Sessions insanity is some kind of panic and desire to avoid legal scrutiny, and that this controversy has the most immediate potential to cause a constitutional crisis. But it's Trump's insanity that is the real reason he should be removed. It's the risk involved in having him handle our nuclear weapons and be responsible for dealing with the nuclear weapons and ICBM's under development in North Korea. It's a close look at how he's going about setting our policy in Afghanistan based on 19th-Century ideas about colonial exploitation of mineral resources and claiming the spoils of war. The man is nuttier than a Snickers Bar, and a real live demonstration of The Emperor Wears No Clothes fable. I don't care that he routinely incriminates himself. In fact, that makes it easier to make the case for removing him. What I care about is that he's in charge of the largest and most lethal arsenal ever assembled on Earth, and no human being can safely trust him with that responsibility.

I'm glad that Douthat and his ideological kin see things largely the same way that I do, but I wish they'd make their argument more urgently and with more focus and punch. - Martin Longman

Not much more to be said. It's not the policies or the politics alone. It's the man and his lack of reason and unwillingness to show a modicum of respect and decency for the office and responsibilities he's holding at the moment along with his overt contempt and condemnation for any and all that don't agree with every single utterance that emits from either his mouth or Twitter feed.

Let me be clear from the start: This article is NOT about the supposition in the title. That is my creation, though the author touched on the process of how it could conceivably happen. But there should be no denial that such an outcome is indeed possible if enough political pressure is brought forth by the White House in the very same manner it politicizes and weaponizes every obstacle in the path to its goals.

Hear me out: This issue isn't being discussed by anyone outside of true geeks (guilty as charged) that get into the minutia. Rachel is announcing right now that the GOP wasn't able to reach a 60 vote threshold on an early vote. The moment Trump figures out that because the Senate parliamentarian has ruled some changes break the rules for reconciliation, Donald will declare this person a partisan and hostile to his authority, then the games begin. If these rules become a rallying cry for the Republicans as an affront because they disagree with the ruling, there is nothing stopping the majority from simply ignoring the ruling and passing their bills with a 50 vote threshold. This is the part that would essentially eliminate the filibuster at least in this particular area.

Trump is placing too much of his energy in killing Obamacare and it's blatantly obvious he doesn't care how it gets done, just that it does. Keep your eyes open and watch whether this prophecy is floated as a possibility. Hopefully it won't be, but after all we've seen in only 6 months, I wouldn't bet on it.

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