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Updated: 21 min 54 sec ago

Spicer channels Trump's fierce urgency of whenever on vote timing

2 hours 25 min ago

A week after Donald Trump told reporters he hoped to "get both" a spending bill and a Trumpcare 2.0 vote—and then pledged an all-caps “TAX REFORM AND TAX REDUCTION" roll out to punctuate his first 100 days in office, press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday was a lot more like, yeah, whenever.

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Of course, this is exactly what Paul Ryan told his GOP colleagues about the health care measure during a weekend conference call: When we have the votes (i.e. who the hell knows).

Trump is so desperate for a legislative win right now, he's taken to downplaying expectations and declaring victory in a single tweet:

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Frankly, we think Trump's tweet volume alone should be counted as a Trump accomplishment. Why not add “most tweets ever” to signing the most executive orders ever (not really, but close enough for Trump’s purposes), dropping the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever, and breaking the biggest Senate rule ever (i.e. the filibuster) to advance a Supreme Court nominee and finally, finally put a “win” on the score board—phew!—by cheating.

Categories: Politics

Trump's 'big, beautiful' wall gets downsized to a couple of 'high priority' areas

2 hours 38 min ago

Donald Trump is desperate to get the ball rolling on his precious border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for—but in reality could lead to a government shutdown. So maybe that’s why he wants “to start with a much less ambitious footprint” for that “big, beautiful” wall and focus “only on the most highly trafficked corridors” to start with. The price tag? More than $3 billion:

Identified as “high priority” in the document are the border sectors of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas -- encompassing Rio Grande City, McAllen and Weslaco -- as well as El Paso, Tucson and San Diego.

The areas were selected because of their proximity to urban centers and roads, allowing those who cross to vanish quickly, according to the document, which was made public by congressional committee staffers.

The preliminary plan anticipates adding more than 100 new miles of wall over the next two years, on top of the 700 miles of fencing that already exists, at an initial cost of more than $3.6 billion.

The wall, even on a smaller scope than billed during the campaign, is a sticking point in high-stakes budget negotiations to avert a government shutdown this week.  

Trump himself weighed in Monday, tweeting: "The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!"

Except most southwest border residents think otherwise, with a poll last year finding that 72 percent of Americans who live in the region opposed building a wall. “The wall might make mid-America feel safer,” one expert said at the time, “but for those of us that live on the border, it’s not making us feel any safer when we know that people can go over it, around it, under it and through it.” Says Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal: “Donald Trump sold a seamless wall as the solution to our immigration problems, but a wall is more symbolic. I don’t believe it’s going to produce statistically significant results.”

Categories: Politics

Shameless promotion, U.S. Embassy website features ‘Mar-A-Lago: the winter White House’ article

3 hours 33 min ago

For 12 weekends in a row, Donald Trump has spent time at a Donald Trump-owned or managed property in what has to be a financial boon for the Trump family. Of course, everywhere Donald Trump goes, gaggles of Secret Service agents, staff and pool reporters follow—many or most of them staying at a Trump property, using taxpayer dollars, directly benefiting Donald Trump and his family. Paying members of these clubs regularly take to social media bragging about access to Trump and his offspring. And now, the official website of the U.S. Embassy & Consultants in the United Kingdom is featuring a glowing article on the “winter White House” that is a barely disguised advertisement:

Mar-A-Lago featured on the U.S. Embassy website All aboard the Emoluments Clause Express

Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida estate, has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.

The first meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping of China will take place April 6–7 at Mar-a-Lago, which is located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.

Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it. By visiting this “winter White House,” Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.

When socialite and cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post built Mar-a-Lago — Spanish for “Sea to Lake” — in 1927, she spared no expense. The 114-room mansion sits on 8 hectares of land, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and an inland waterway on the other.

Upon her death in 1973, she willed the estate to the U.S. government, intending it to be used as a winter White House for the U.S. president to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: French election, Confederate monuments and hate

3 hours 44 min ago
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  • What you missed on Sunday Kos …
  • Ooh la la. (Note: Major eye-roll at “firebrand” and “global populist wave.”)

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen appeared positioned Sunday to move to the second round of the most tightly contested French presidential election in decades, in the latest test of a global populist wave that led to surprise electoral results in the United States and elsewhere.

New Orleans officials removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

The first memorial to come down was the Liberty Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League. Workers arrived to begin removing the statue, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, around 1:25 a.m. in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.

The workers inspecting the statue ahead of its removal could be seen wearing flak jackets and helmets.

Harassment, vandalism and other hostile acts against Jewish people and sites in the U.S. increased by 34 percent last year and are up 86 percent through the first three months of 2017, according tdata released on Monday.

President Donald Trump raised more than a few eyebrows during his first visit as president to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday when he awarded the Purple Heart to Army Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos.

"When I heard about this, I wanted to do it myself," Trump told Barrientos as he placed the Purple Heart on the soldier's lapel. "Congratulations … tremendous." [...]

This isn’t the first time the president has been criticized for remarks he made about the Purple Heart. During the campaign, a veteran gave the then-nominee his Purple heart.

"I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier," Trump said at the time.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin rounds up weekend news, the worst of the gobbledygook AP interview, the science march, and the search for self-reflection on 2016. As sexual harassment suits come in from all quarters, a reminder that the culture at Fox begins with Murdoch.

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Categories: Politics

Huge majority of Americans demand an independent commission to investigate Trump–Russia connections

4 hours 13 min ago

When it comes to investigating the Trump-Russia connection, the House Intelligence Committee has been successfully driven into the weeds by Devin Nunes. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been slowed to a stop by Richard Burr

While an investigation continues within the FBI, there are reasons for people at both ends of the political spectrum to worry about the efficacy of that agency. And besides, the investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s government is easily the most important political issue since Watergate. In fact, this is the most important political issue in a century—including Watergate. The public deserves to feel that this matter has been investigated both thoroughly and openly, in a way that resolves loose ends and doesn’t leave the impression that the outcome was either foregone or arbitrary.

For that to happen, there is only one avenue remaining.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they want an independent, non-partisan commission instead of Congress to investigate Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

A majority of Americans want the congressional investigation to continue, but an overwhelming majority feels that the congressional investigation is not enough on its own. Why an independent commission?

A combined 61 percent of Americans say they have little to no confidence in Congress conducting a fair and impartial investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.

Categories: Politics

Trump claims he's 'not after the Dreamers' despite the fact he's gone after Dreamers

4 hours 20 min ago

Popular vote loser Donald Trump claimed last week that his mass deportation dragnet is “not after the Dreamers,” but “after the criminals” and those bad hombres. Department of Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also tried to offer similar reassurances, but it’s really best to just file every single one of their claims under “bullshit.” Just ask Juan Manuel Montes, a Dreamer who was arrested by immigration officials despite having valid DACA status and deported to Mexico three hours later:

Montes’ situation came to light Tuesday when he sued the Trump administration in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego. The civil suit alleges that he had been wrongly deported to Mexico by officials who refused to tell him why.

The suit claims the government is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act because no records have been released on Montes’ case, despite numerous requests, which is a violation of the statute. It asks the court to order the government to release those records.

“Under Trump, ICE has already arrested several beneficiaries of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” notes Roque Planas. During his arrest, Juan was not allowed to retrieve his DACA card from a vehicle, with federal officials later trying to save their butts by lying and claiming it had expired. They were forced to walk back the claim after USA Today publicly verified it didn’t expire until 2018. The truth is that immigration officials have been unmercifully targeting Dreamers for arrest, which is why so many are not one bit reassured by Trump’s claim that they are safe from his grasp.

Categories: Politics

Republican candidates weigh sitting out 2018, because Trump

4 hours 23 min ago

The struggle is real for prospective 2018 GOP candidates: Should they or shouldn't they jump in?

With a commander in chief who's as predictable as an untethered balloon in a tornado touting a list of legislative accomplishments as short as his stubby thumbs, many would-be GOP candidates are strongly weighing becoming 2018 won't bes.

For instance, former Florida Rep. David Jolly won a 2014 special election, lost in 2016, and is having heartburn over whether to take a stab at reclaiming his seat in 2018. Jolly said watching the GA-06 special election where Democrat Jon Ossoff will be facing Republican Karen Handel in June has been instructive. Alex Isenstadt of Politico writes:

“Ossoff simply has to speak to the president's failure, while Republicans have to wrestle with whether and how to defend Trump's historically low approval ratings and how closely to align with a president who at any moment could undermine Handel's entire messaging strategy with an indefensible tweet or an outright lie.”

Jolly, who lost reelection in 2016 and is considering running again, said he and other would-be GOP midterm contenders are struggling to take measure of what they’d be getting themselves into. The election is bound to be a referendum on Trump’s first two years. Two Republicans, Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy and Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, recently announced they will be forgoing Senate runs.

"If you're a prospective candidate, boy, it's tough," Jolly said.

That's the exact ambivalence that not only has Paul Ryan but also Mitch McConnell fretting over the upcoming midterms.

Democrats will need about two dozen pickups to retake the House in 2018; they need only three pickups to flip the Senate, though they'll be defending 25 seats (including those of two independents who caucus with them) to only nine seats for the GOP.

On the positive side, Democrats are seeing a surge in interested candidates, small-dollar donations, and voter enthusiasm. That’s a lot of momentum. Godspeed, Trump.

Categories: Politics

Trump's disastrous start is leading to Democrats feeling feisty

4 hours 26 min ago

House Democrats have been constrained by being a distinct minority since November 2010. But popular vote loser Donald Trump and his disastrous poll numbers, as well as the total dysfunction in the fractious Republican party is giving them both hope and the drive to follow the lead of the people and resist.

House Democrats are ready to flex their muscles, providing a list of demands Republicans must meet if they want Democratic votes to keep the government running beyond Friday. And they could be key players on tax reform and infrastructure in the coming months, if Trump ends up needing bipartisan buy-in.

“It’s a great time to be a Democrat,” said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, warning Republicans that even if they do achieve some of their biggest goals—like dismantling Obamacare—they will pay at the polls.

“We know we’re going to lose some battles between now and 2018, but every one of those losses costs the other side votes,” he said. […]

In the immediate future, House Democrats have significant leverage in ongoing talks to keep the government open beyond the April 28 deadline.

With hard-line conservatives frequently opposed to spending bills, Republican leaders will likely need a number of Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown. And [Democratic leader Nancy] Pelosi is nothing if not an expert vote counter.

The energy of the people—we saw it again this weekend in the nationwide March for Science—is certainly helping strengthen their backbone. That's not just showing up in the streets in these huge marches and protests, but also in public polling, where there's a massive enthusiasm gap in favor of Democrats, as shown in a survey from Global Strategy Group and Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, Priorities USA conducted at the beginning of April.

Categories: Politics

Democrats are putting the blame for shutdown talk where it belongs: Donald Trump

5 hours 25 min ago

Democrats are putting the responsibility for any potential border wall-related government shutdown right where it belongs: on Donald Trump.

“If the president stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday in a conference call with reporters, referring to Democratic and Republican budget negotiators.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed. She said that while Trump had promised during his campaign to build the barrier, “He did not promise that he would take food out of the mouths of babies” and cut programs for seniors, education and the environment to pay for it. She called the wall an “immoral, ineffective, unwise proposal.”

Trump is still making the ludicrous claim that Mexico will pay for the wall. “Eventually, but at a later date ... in some form.” But Congress should definitely make massive cuts elsewhere to give him the giant pile of cash needed to get started on a project that could cost tens of billions of dollars. You know, while we all wait for Mexico to do something its leaders have made absolutely clear will never happen.

This fight isn’t a straightforward Democrats vs. Republicans one, Schumer made clear, saying “Instead of risking a government shutdown by shoving this wall down Congress’s and the American people’s throats, the president ought to just let us come to an agreement”—the wall wouldn’t be a priority for many congressional Republicans without White House pressure on them. But Donald wants his precious wall, so that’s a Republican priority now and Democrats just have to keep saying no and reminding the media whose fault this really is. 

Categories: Politics

Jon Ossoff challenges Planned Parenthood-hating Republican opponent to six debates

5 hours 41 min ago

Goal Thermometer

Jon Ossoff is ready to win the special election against Republican and notorious Planned Parenthood foe Karen Handel. He's asking for six debates between now and June 20, when the run-off is held. From his emailed press release:

"I believe that part of bringing fresh leadership and accountability to Washington is to engage with as many voters as possible, which is why our people-powered community of volunteers has talked to more than one hundred thousand 6th District Georgians over the past four months," said Ossoff.

“Publicly debating the issues that matter the most to Georgians, especially as it concerns growing the local economy, cutting government waste, keeping Americans safe, and bringing accountability to Washington, is paramount to ensuring that our democracy is as transparent and accessible as possible."

Ossoff is acting like the front-runner he is, having finished the first round of voting 28 points ahead of Handel. He's keeping the momentum of his campaign strong and asking for six debates in eight weeks is smart, aggressive strategy.

Let's help keep that momentum going strong. Please chip in $3 to help Jon Ossoff win on June 20.

Categories: Politics

Republicans fret that Trump's ineptitude will turn 2018 into their worst nightmare

5 hours 55 min ago

Trumpidation (noun): That uneasy sinking feeling you get when you realize that the guy who infiltrated your party and took it over is going to take you down with him.

Folks, the enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican voters is real, and everyone from White House aides to Mitch McConnell to Democratic groups are obsessed with it.

At the White House, Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon have been studying the special elections thus far in Kansas and especially Georgia, where Democratic candidates ran far better than would be expected in any environment that didn't include Donald Trump's wild misfires and dreadful approval ratings. They breathed a sigh of relief when Democrat Jon Ossoff didn’t clear the 50 percent mark necessary for him to avoid a June runoff with a Republican, writes Politico:

Yet as Republican strategists examine that special election, and one for a conservative Kansas seat a week earlier, they’re seeing evidence of a worrisome enthusiasm gap. In the run-up to the Georgia election, low-propensity Democratic voters — people who in years past did not consistently turn out to the polls — cast ballots at a rate nearly 7 percentage points higher than low-propensity Republicans, according to private polling by one Republican group.

In Kansas, the chasm was wider. Infrequent Democratic voters cast ballots at a rate of 9 percentage points higher than low-propensity Republicans did.

Democratic voters are essentially champing at the bit for any opportunity they get to grind Trump's administration to a halt, though the popular vote loser's overall ineptitude has been giving progressives a huge assist. While many Republicans worry about losing some two dozen seats that would flip the House majority to Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't taking the Senate for granted either:

McConnell has privately expressed concern about Trump’s approval ratings and lack of legislative wins, according to two people familiar with this thinking. A student of political history, the Senate leader has warned that the 2018 map shouldn’t give Republicans solace, reminding people that the party in power during a president’s first term often suffers electorally.

Categories: Politics

Racist-as-all-hell Sessions: Child tax credits going to 'mostly Mexicans' can pay for the wall

6 hours 12 min ago

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As the administration quickly approaches a disastrous, historically unpopular 100 days mark, America’s most racist Keebler elf has a pretty offensive plan to salvage Donald Trump’s failing presidential campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful” wall along the entirety of the southern border and have Mexico pay for it, and it’s exactly what someone named Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III would brainstorm:

“We're going to get paid for it one way or the other," Sessions said on ABC's This Week. "I know there's $4 billion a year in excess payments, according to the Department of the Treasury's own inspector general several years ago, that are going to payments to people — tax credits that they shouldn't get.”

"Now, these are mostly Mexicans," he continued. "And those kind of things add up — $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion. There are a lot of ways we can find money to help pay for this."

Not only is this goblin racist as all hell, he has no clue what he’s talking about. First of all, the report he cites makes no mention of Mexicans, or any other nationality for that matter. According to the most recent data from Pew, Mexicans make up about half of the undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. But to Sessions and his white nationalist buddies, all undocumented immigrants are Mexicans. And if they’re all Mexicans, they must love their public benefits. Which brings up the second matter:

Sessions appears to be referencing a 2011 audit report Trump also cited while campaigning. As Politifact explains, the report said that in 2011, $4.2 billion in child tax credits was paid to people filing income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. Some of these filers are illegal immigrants, but many are legal foreign workers, and the audit did not say how many are Mexican.

"The vast majority of that $4.2 billion, the filer may be undocumented, but you have to have a child to receive it," said Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "And the children are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens."

Categories: Politics

What if hundreds of thousands of people marched for scientific truth—and the media yawned?

7 hours 38 min ago

If you watched the round of Sunday talk shows, it was easy to miss the fact that hundreds of thousands marched across the country and around the world this weekend in defense of science, reason, logic, and the value of facts.

In hundreds of "March for Science" events from Boston to Sydney, Australia, engineers, researchers and teachers took a break from the lab to apply their ingenuity to colorful protest placards. …

While the events were non-partisan according to organizers, many marchers were in effect protesting Trump's proposal to sharply cut federal science and research budgets and his administration's skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming.

The marches were large, colorful, and important. They were also also both peaceful and accompanied by thoughtful speeches, both of which are things the media hates

Most of the Sunday news shows failed to cover the worldwide March for Science protests, an international demonstration partly meant to draw attention to President Donald Trump’s “disregard for evidence-based knowledge” and climate change denial.

“Failed to cover” doesn’t mean provided only a brief discussion, or didn’t give it the coverage it deserved. It means this.

ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and NBC’s Meet the Press failed to mention the March for Science at all.

Face the Nation was busy talking with Marco Rubio. That’s important because … because. Anyway, Meet the Press talked with … Marco Rubio. So glad they did that instead of interviewing people about a unique and vital event that spanned the globe.

Categories: Politics

Worried Republicans pour money into Montana House special election following near-loss in Georgia

7 hours 53 min ago

​After their close call with a first-round knockout in last Tuesday’s Georgia 6th District special election, national Republicans are sounding the alarms ahead of Montana’s own May 25 special election for its lone House seat.

Goal Thermometer

The NRCC has added $1.2 million in TV ad reservations, while the House GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC is airing a new ad that attacks Democrat Rob Quist as part of an $800,000 buy. CLF tries to tie Quist to Nancy Pelosi, skewering him for wanting government-funded health care and supposedly supporting cuts to the defense budget, while they also hit him for his past debt troubles.

Meanwhile, Republican Greg Gianforte released an ad that warns Quist wants a national gun registry “in a big government computer,” which Gianforte claims could lead to “federal bureaucrats [grabbing] your guns.” Gianforte then fires a shotgun at a computer monitor flashing the word “confiscate” and destroys it, promising he’ll stand up for the 2nd Amendment. Gianforte’s spot is hammering Quist over an earlier interview where Quist suggested registering assault weapons like one registers a car, a common-sense gun safety proposal that sends the NRA into a frenzy.

Can you give $3 to help Rob Quist to shock Republicans and turn Montana blue?

Categories: Politics

Donald's kids have a plan to profit from the White House: Take the Trump brand downmarket

7 hours 55 min ago

The Trump offspring are hard at work trying to figure out how to turn their father’s base of political support into family profit, and they think they’ve found the answer: putting hotels in states Donald Trump won, even if it means developing hotels that are not Donald Trump’s idea of the pinnacle of elegant luxury or luxurious elegance, or however he’d describe his decidedly inelegant aesthetic. In a word, the Trumps are ready to go downmarket.

Last fall, the company announced the creation of a four-star hotel chain called Scion, which is meant to offer upscale service in U.S. cities that could not support a full-fledged Trump luxury property. More than two dozen letters of intent have been signed, though no ground has been broken yet.

Among the possible locations being considered: Texas, parts of the South, and perhaps the nation’s capital, where the hotel would exist with the Trump luxury property in the former home of the Old Post Office not far from the White House. The company is also in the very early stages of considering a three-star hotel chain. [...]

Similarly, daughter Ivanka Trump has made a pitch for Trump’s blue-collar supporters by replacing her high-end jewelry line with a mass-market brand.

Are there ethics concerns? Naaaah. They’re just independently using the publicity to benefit the family business and expanding in the way that makes the most sense from a profit standpoint. It’s not a conflict of interest, it’s just plain old capitalism!

As for those conflicts of interest, Uday and Qusay insist they’re not talking to their father about the business they now “run” while he still owns it—and can take profits at will.

Categories: Politics

Despite legal opposition, Missouri Republicans determined to limit women's access to abortions

7 hours 56 min ago

Missouri lawmakers are hellbent on making sure that women in the state are unable to obtain abortions and it seems that nothing will stop them. With GOP leaders emboldened by the new Trump era of politics (which means even more open misogyny than ever), state legislators have already filed a number of anti-abortion proposals (including 14 prior to the start of the legislative session alone) in what is a clear violation of women’s access to reproductive justice. As it stands, one Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis remains the sole licensed abortion provider in the state.

"People are driving hours to St. Louis, or they’re crossing over the state line into Kansas or other states in order to access services," says Laura McQuade, the President and CEO of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, one of the Planned Parenthood affiliates that filed a lawsuit last year challenging the Missouri restrictions.

As a leader in restricting abortion access, Missouri passed laws more than a decade ago that required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and abortion clinics to meet the same structural requirements as ambulatory surgical centers. 

Last week, US District Court Judge Howard Sachs agreed with Planned Parenthood that these restrictions had a negative impact on the women of Missouri and that they failed to comply with an earlier Supreme Court ruling that these kinds of laws violate the Constitution. 

"The abortion rights of Missouri women, guaranteed by constitutional rulings, are being denied on a daily basis, in irreparable fashion," he said. "The public interest clearly favors prompt relief." The restrictions will be halted while the effort to permanently strike down the laws moves through the courts.

Categories: Politics

Congress returns to shutdown threats from an out-of-control White House

8 hours 38 min ago

It's a short but big week in Washington as Congress returns from two weeks of recess. The Senate convenes Monday afternoon and the House doesn't wander in until Tuesday, when they'll face a potential government shutdown at the end of the week. We've been here before, way too many times, but now there's an entirely new dynamic—a White House that is making the shutdown threats and throwing the process into total chaos as they keep throwing in new issues to muck things up.

Democrats have made their demands—funding for Obamacare's cost sharing repayments to keep the marketplace stable, permanent funding for retired coal miners' health benefits, and no border wall. Over the past few weeks, bipartisan negotiations on those issues have been stumbling along because those are actually all things House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would like to achieve, too. They're getting pressured on the Obamacare payments from the entire healthcare industry as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Settling the issue for coal miners is perhaps less urgent, but McConnell made a solemn promise to the coal miners of Kentucky that he'd take care of them this year. Passing wall funding isn't going to be easy in either chamber. So getting to agreement would probably not be as hard as previous confrontation when the demands coming from the House were Freedom Caucus-inspired and outlandish.

Now it's popular vote loser Trump's turn to make the outlandish demands, striving for something, anything to call an accomplishment in his first 100 days. He's throwing everything into the mix and making threats left and right to complicate the week. He's already tried to hold Obamacare payments hostage to border wall funding to make Democrats cave, a challenge Democrats laughed at, with the reminder that Trump promised Mexico would be paying for that wall. Plenty of Republicans remember that promise, too. Trump's latest tweet on the situation is not convincing anyone.

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Categories: Politics

Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia has no staff, no witnesses, no progress

8 hours 43 min ago

With Devin Nunes leading the House Intelligence Committee down the “unmasking” blind alley, there’s been a general feeling that at least the Senate investigation appeared to be on track. Multiple articles were written praising Republican Committee Chairman Richard Burr who, despite his own connections to Trump, made good noises about being impartial, country first, etc. But while the House investigation finally seems to be getting back down to business, the truth seems to be that Richard Burr has been following one of the core precepts of Donald Trump: Talk big, but do nothing.

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As the Daily Beast reported over the weekend, Burr hasn’t moved the Senate investigation even one step forward. They have no staff …

The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. 

They have talked to none of the principals …

No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures.
 

And Yahoo News shows how confidence that the senior circuit was going to handle this thing properly has been strongly eroded.

More than three months after the Senate Intelligence Committee launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — including allegations of collusion by associates of President Trump — the panel has made little progress and is increasingly stymied by partisan divisions that are jeopardizing the future of the inquiry, according to multiple sources involved in the probe.

By “partisan divisions” they mean “Republicans refuse to do anything.”

Categories: Politics

Trump demands his wall, Republicans are afraid to fund it, and media will want to blame Democrats

9 hours 2 min ago

If the government shuts down over funding for Donald Trump’s precious border wall, who will be to blame? Be prepared for an avalanche of “both sides” claims from journalists—even where their own reporting doesn’t back that up. Take this self-contradictory three-reporter effort from Politico. According to the lede:

President Donald Trump and Congress are on a collision course over government funding this week, as the White House demands money for a border wall with Mexico and Democrats vow it will never see a penny.

Democrats vow? Good for them, and it’s a crucial piece of blocking border wall billions, but that’s not all that’s going on here.

Even Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the former Homeland Security Committee chairman who wrote the 2006 law authorizing the wall’s construction, said the White House should push for it later in the year.

“There’s going to be compromises going on,” King said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “Once the government is up and running, and stays open and running, then we have to fight this out over the next year.”

Sen. Marco Rubio echoed those sentiments:

“We cannot shut down the government right now,” Rubio said on CBS' "Face the Nation," later adding that the border fight is “worth having for 2018” funding rather than for the current fiscal year. “The last thing we can afford is to send a message to the world is that the United States government, by the way, is partially functioning.”

Democratic opposition to the Trump border wall is a necessary but not a sufficient condition here, so any “both sides” reporting—and this article literally contains the claim that “both sides are puffing up their chests”—is just silly, because there are at a minimum three sides here: the Trump side, Democrats, and congressional Republicans. And congressional Republicans may have embraced Trump as the best way for them to pass their hateful agenda, but that doesn’t mean they have the nerve to actually pass his agenda.

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: How government works now

9 hours 4 min ago

This cartoon was initially inspired by Trump’s “Obama tapped my wires” tweets, and the laughably supportive GOP response. It was supposed to run a couple weeks ago, but I ended up bumping it for a last-minute cartoon on the Syria missile strike. Bannon had just been kicked off the NSC at that point; I wasn’t entirely sure he’d still be in the White House by the time this one finally ran. It’s not easy staying ahead of the news these days. (But as always, if you want to support my ongoing attempts, please consider joining Sparky’s List!)
 

Categories: Politics