March 23rd, 2017

Bookmark: http://www.directzine4dems.com

Please forward this eZine to your like-minded friends!

To subscribe to this weekly free eZine email jellison@san.rr.com with "subscribe" as the subject.

ON THE RECORD.....

‘I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coördination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”-- F.B.I. director James Comey testifying at the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Russia’s involvement in the Presidential election. 3/20/17

“Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental.” -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) after offered a long, detailed description of the publicly available reports of Russian activity and contacts with members of Mr. Trump’s campaign.3/20/17

“If the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history,” -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) 3/20/17

“President Trump doesn’t want to spend federal dollars on after-school programs, meals for poor people, or heating assistance that helps keep folks alive. But he has no problem wasting more than $3 million a pop to spend weekends at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.” -- Aaron Rupar in ThinkProgress

“Then there’s the oddity of now knowing that both major candidates were under FBI investigation during the last campaign. The only one to pay a price was the one who was formally exonerated – not once, but twice.” -- Rick Klein and Shushannah Walshe 3/21/17

"The administration is weighing the option of raising money for the wall by cutting funds to such essential government agencies as the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That’s brilliant. So, to recap, we’re building a wall to keep Americans safe. And we’re paying for it by making cuts that will, in all likelihood, make Americans less safe? It appears that, whatever happens on the U.S.-Mexico border, the administration is already walled off — from reality." -- Ruben Navarrette

“There’s not a person in Washington who thinks that there actually was a wiretap, that this is true… It makes you question the credibility of the president on anything.” — Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News.

“It is mortally wounded, I don’t know if it’s died yet.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on the GOP health care bill.

"Medicaid—sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg.” -- House Speaker Paul Ryan had an exchange with National Review editor Rich Lowry

“I am ready to come out of the woods and to shine a light on what’s already happening around kitchen tables at dinners like this to help draw strength to enable everyone to keep going.” — Hillary Clinton 4//17/17

"We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain, very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox. Okay?"-- Donald Trump suggesting his administration bore no responsibility for promoting a Fox News analyst's baseless claim that British intelligence agency GCHQ spied on Trump for former President Barack Obama. 3/17/17

"I’ve been doing what I do for a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never seen a president that can make a comment that’s dead wrong, and he hangs onto the comment. I’ve never seen a president saying about his opponent “lock her up, lock her up.” That was kind of the beginning for me that I understood that we were dealing with a totally different phenomenon here. And I think we have to be aware of that. And be smart. And watch. And make our notes. And do our bills. And then we’ll see what happens". -- Senator Dianne Feinstein 3/17/17

"There is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin." -- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) throwing cold water on remarks from top Republicans that the repeal bill is just one of three phases in their plan.

“I know why you’re so frustrated: You don’t know how to listen.” — Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) addressing a town hall of 2,000 angry constituents.

Monthly cost of:
Guarding Trump Tower: $30 million
Section 8 for all 15,856 homeless NYC families: $28 million -- Mark Elliott‏ @markmobility

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.” — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.” -- WSJ editorial 3/22/17

“There’s just never been any question in my mind about that. I’ve been inside a cover-up. I know how they look and feel. And every signal they’re sending is: ‘We’re covering this thing up.'” — Ex-Nixon White House counsel John Dean on the Trump administration’s reaction to ongoing investigations of Russian ties and Trump’s wiretapping accusations.

Obviously, we all understand the importance of this presidential race. I would just ask everybody this: Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI? Think of the trauma that would do to this country. -- Marco Rubio 11/01/16

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Able-bodied Senior Who Watches TV All Day Receives Free Government Meals
2. Rep. Adam Schiff’s short speech crisply lays out the evidence connecting Trump and Russia
3. Debt Ceiling Creates New Headache for Republicans
4. The DAILY GRILL
5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
6. From the Late Shows
7. Trump’s Budget Stuck In the Mud
8. F.B.I.’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far right news sites
9. Tom Perez Begins Overhaul of DNC
10. GOP’s Trumpcare has at least one fan: Russian state media
11. Trump Is Big Beneficiary of GOP Tax Bill
12. Most Young Americans Don’t See Trump as Legitimate
13. Trump Ready to Seize Land for Border Wall
14. Roger Stone Under F.B.I. Scrutiny
15. Late Nite Jokes
16. GOP Health Care Bill Only Helps the Wealthy
17. Paul Manafort Had Plan To "greatly Benefit" Putin's Government
18. Poll: Support for GOP Health Care Bill Fades
19. CBO: Republican repeal plan is literally worse than no plan at all

OPINION

1. Charles M. Blow: Disciples of a False Prophet
2. Michael Tomasky: Trump’s Budget Hits Trump’s Voters Hard
3. Jonathan Chait: Who’s to Blame for the Trumpcare Debacle, Donald Trump or Paul Ryan?
4. Nicholas Kristof: And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan ...
5. John Cassidy: Donald Trump Finally Pays A Price For His False And Reckless Words
6. Theo Anderson: The Right-Wing Machine Behind The Curtain
7. Joy-Ann Reid: Time to Call Out the Big GOP Lie on Obamacare
8. Maureen Dowd: Trump, Working-Class Zero
9. Paul Krugman: America’s Epidemic of Infallibility
10. Juan Williams: For GOP, a domino effect on health and taxes
11. David Leonhardt: All the President’s Lies

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Able-bodied Senior Who Watches TV All Day Receives Free Government Meals

An able-bodied senior citizen who refuses to do anything but watch television receives three free government meals every day, according to reports.

The senior, who has three piping-hot meals wheeled up to him each day, reportedly has no intention of working and prefers to fill his hours watching cable news.

Even more outrageously, the recipient of the meals spends most weekends in Florida, where the flow of free government food continues without interruption.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of the Center for Benefit Reduction, a think tank that focuses on reducing federal benefits, called the individual’s consumption of free government meals “the worst abuse of the system I’ve ever seen.”

“I might be accused of being heartless for saying this, but this person should be thrown out on the street,” he said.

But, according to a source familiar with the senior, those calling for him to work for his meals are, at best, ill-informed. “You can’t expect someone to do a job when he’s completely unqualified,” the source said.. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Rep. Adam Schiff’s short speech crisply lays out the evidence connecting Trump and Russia

According to Christopher Steele (a former British intelligence officer) Russian sources, the Trump campaign is offered documents damaging to Hillary Clinton, which the Russians would publish through an outlet that gives them deniability, like Wikileaks. The hacked documents would be in exchange for a Trump Administration policy that de-emphasizes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and instead focuses on criticizing NATO countries for not paying their fare share – policies which, even as recently as the President’s meeting last week with Angela Merkel, have now presciently come to pass. ...

Later in July, and after the convention, the first stolen emails detrimental to Hillary Clinton appear on Wikileaks. A hacker who goes by the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claims responsibility for hacking the DNC and giving the documents to Wikileaks. But leading private cyber security firms including CrowdStrike, Mandiant, and ThreatConnect review the evidence of the hack and conclude with high certainty that it was the work of APT28 and APT29, who were known to be Russian intelligence services.

Read Rep. Schiff’s entire statement at http://time.com/4706721/read-rep-adam-schiffs-opening-statement-on-russian-meddling-in-the-election/

3. Debt Ceiling Creates New Headache for Republicans

The legal limit on how much the United States government can borrow returns on Thursday, potentially setting up an intense political battle in Congress.

Lawmakers will have until sometime this autumn to raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury runs out of ways to make essential payments, putting the nation at risk of its first-ever debt default.

The debt limit is a major test for the Trump administration and Republican congressional leaders who’ve sought major spending cuts before previous increases in the debt ceiling. 3/16/17 http://thehill.com/policy/finance/324197-debt-ceiling-returns-creating-new-headache-for-gop

4. The DAILY GRILL

Self-proclaimed birther Donald Trump is now so doubtful of President Obama's birthplace that he's sent a team of his own investigators to Hawaii in hopes of getting to the bottom of the issue. Trump himself, in an interview with NBC, warned his investigators just might uncover "one of the greatest cons in the history of politics and beyond. I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding," -- DonaldTrump April 7, 2011

VERSUS

I said, ‘Wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about.’ I’ve been seeing a lot of things. Now, for the most part, I’m not going to discuss it, because we have it before the committee and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn’t been submitted as of yet. But it's potentially a very serious issue." -- Donald Trump to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama ordered wiretapping at Trump Tower

 

"I promise you, I will not be taking very long vacations, if I take ’em at all. There’s no time for vacation. We’re not going to be big on vacation. You know, there’s so many things — it’s sort of interesting, Chris, the White House is, like, this incredible place, right? Represents so much, and you’re there for a limited period of time. If you’re at the White House, and you have so much work to do, why do you fly so — why do you leave so much, why? You know, you think you’d wanna work, work, work, straighten it out, get it done, fix it up, make it great, and then when you’re finished, you could be proud. But boy, are we a mess." -- Trump during a Q & A session with Chris Christie

VERSUS

This last weekend marked the seventh consecutive time he has flown off to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend since taking office, at tremendous cost to taxpayers nationwide, and locally. The violation of this promise is galling on its face, but unconscionable when compared with the cost of the programs Trump’s budget slashes. -- Shareblue 3/19/17

FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia. --
President Trump ✔ @POTUS

VERSUS

The FBI Director was just asked under oath if this tweet was accurate. He said this tweet is not what he said.  -- Liam Stack ✔@liamstack

 

“Virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.” -- Former Colorado Republican Party chairman Steven Curtis in a pre-election interview

VERSUS

Former Colorado Republican Party chairman Steven Curtis “is charged with forgery and voter fraud for allegedly forging his wife’s mail-in ballot from last year’s election.” -- ABC Denver.

 

I am not trying to get "top level security clearance" for my children. This was a typically false news story. - Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 16 Nov 2016

VERSUS

“Ivanka Trump to get top security clearance and office, White House official says” — CNN 3/21/17 .

 

Trump’s Budget: Promises versus Reality

The government will stop wasting money overseas and “rebuild” our inner cities.

VERSUS

Trump’s budget cuts $2 billion from public housing and $300 million from rental assistance, while abolishing the Community Development Block Grant program which funds affordable housing, community recreation centers, and food assistance, among other things. The budget also cuts job-training programs, legal aid, and home energy subsidies to low-income Americans.

 

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.”

VERSUS

Trump’s budget cuts nearly $500 million from the Department of Transportation’s budget for road projects.

 

My administration will “promote clean air and water.”

VERSUS

Trump’s budget would abolish the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a popular, bipartisan program that preserves the health of the lakes that eight Midwestern states depend on.

 

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

VERSUS

The president proposes slashing $4.7 billion from the Department of Agriculture; cutting more than $500 million from Rural Development; eliminating the Rural Business-Cooperative Service; and abolishing the Appalachian Regional Commission, which promotes economic development and infrastructure in poor rural areas. Budget cuts subsidies to rural airports which reduces much of rural America to literal “flyover country.”

 

America will eliminate its national debt “over a period of eight years.”

VERSUS

Despite all these cuts, Trump’s budget would still increase the deficit by $488 billion.

5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Donald Trump Jr. Retweets Right-Wing Radio Host Pushing The Conspiracy Theory https://mediamatters.org/research/2017/03/16/new-alt-right-theory-obama-was-secretly-behind-judicial-halt-trumps-muslim-ban/215712

The Five's Eric Bolling: "You Could Use Mexicans To Build The Wall" -- Bolling: "Hire Mexicans And Have The Mexican Government Pay For It. Bingo."https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/16/fives-eric-bolling-you-could-use-mexicans-build-wall/215728

Fox News Host On Trump's Budget Gutting Public Broadcasting: "More Killing, Less Kermit"https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/16/fox-news-host-trumps-budget-gutting-public-broadcasting-more-killing-less-kermit/215726

Sean Hannity Cites Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Asks If  Who Blocked Muslim Ban Was "Part Of The Choom Gang" With Obama "Doing A Little Bit Of Weed And Maybe Even A Little Blow?" https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/16/hannity-suggests-judge-who-blocked-muslim-ban-did-weed-and-blow-obama-college/215717

Public Media Executives: Trump's "Foolish" Public Broadcasting Cuts Will Hurt “Small-Town America” “The 2018 budget plan from the White House would eliminate all federal subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which was allotted $445 million to fund local National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations and productions in the 2017 federal budget. Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services -- which totaled more than $500 million in the 2017 budget -- would also be eliminated. “ https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/16/public-media-executives-trumps-foolish-public-broadcasting-cuts-will-hurt-small-town-america/215716

Tucker Carlson: Sen. Gillibrand And The Left "Hate The Culture Of The Military Because It's Warlike And Masculine"https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/17/tucker-carlson-sen-gillibrand-and-left-hate-culture-military-because-its-warlike-and-masculine/215750

Report Confirms Fox News’ Napolitano Repeated Russian Media For His British Intelligence Conspiracy Theory https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/17/report-confirms-fox-news-napolitano-repeated-russian-media-his-british-intelligence-conspiracy/215751

Rebecca Berg On CNN: Trump "Listens To Fox News And Other Cable News Shows As If They Were His Advisers" https://mediamatters.org/video/2017/03/18/rebecca-berg-cnn-trump-listens-fox-news-and-other-cable-news-shows-if-they-were-his-advisers/215752

FBI Director Puts To Rest Two Weeks Of Fox Lies About Trump's False Wiretap Claim https://mediamatters.org/research/2017/03/20/fbi-director-puts-rest-two-weeks-fox-lies-about-trumps-false-wiretap-claim/215761

6. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump's Cruel Budget Caps off Bad Week: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/sIQ4ng0e1GU

John Oliver Addresses Angela Merkel & Trump`s Handshake: https://youtu.be/gsGVDqLBRBE

John Oliver onTrump's Wiretapping Claim: https://youtu.be/bigXKsgUg8k

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: The WERD: Screw Unto Others: https://youtu.be/e2wSfP0qoMk

Trevor Noah: Forget Trump, Fox News Is the ‘Real President’: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/k3etya/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-is-fox-news-the-real-president-

7. Trump’s Budget Stuck In the Mud

The budget that President Trump sent to Congress Thursday sums up his first eight weeks in office. It’s bold, brash, boisterous — and not going anywhere.

“The problem? ‘It’s dead on arrival,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said last month, objecting to the cuts in State Department funding. What’s more, Republicans will need 60 votes to erase the budget caps in military spending put in place by sequestration. And while all it takes are simple majorities to pass a budget resolution bill, the White House and the GOP Congress will need 60 votes to eventually spend/cut money through the appropriations process. Oh, and you could argue that this Trump budget outline might make it harder for Congress to pass ANY budget resolution — which will be needed to get the reconciliation protection to pass the tax cuts that Trump and congressional Republicans want.” 3/16/17 http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/trump-s-budget-much-his-agenda-still-stuck-mud-n734286

8. F.B.I.’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far right news sites

Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as ‘bots,’ to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. 3/21/17 http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article139695453.html

9. Tom Perez Begins Overhaul of DNC

To guide his transition process, Perez on Wednesday tapped a wide range of Democrats for a transition advisory committee that will work over the next month or so to provide advice and recommendations. The 30 members of the committee were selected to represent and highlight the party’s broad coalition, from former Alaska Sen. Mark Begich to Black Lives Matters activist Deray McKesson to former South Carolina Gov. and DNC Chair Don Fowler to undocumented immigrant activist Astrid Silva.”

“And in a nod to Bernie Sanders allies, the committee includes freshman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who won an election last year in Washington state with the backing of the Vermont senator.” 3/16/17 http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/new-chairman-begins-remake-democratic-national-committee-n734001

10. GOP’s Trumpcare has at least one fan: Russian state media

In February, sources reported the Kremlin had directed state media outlets to cut back on their coverage of Trump. While some have proposed this is because the Kremlin is concerned Trump might be “less friendly” to Russia than Russian officials initially thought, it is just as likely the order came as part of an effort to reduce the appearance of improper Russian support for Trump in the midst of ongoing concerns about possible collusion between the Trump team and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Nonetheless, when it comes to the introduction of GOP legislation to enact Trump’s promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare” (aka Trumpcare), Russian state media has once again been largely positive — which stands in stark contrast to the response to the plan by both Democrats and even some conservative groups and individual Republican lawmakers.

Such uncritical framing of Trumpcare by Russian state media is even more striking when you compare it to coverage of the same subject by a conservative and generally pro-Trump and pro-GOP news outlet here in the U.S.:

Given that Putin’s apparent goal is to destroy the United States from the inside and from without, positive coverage of a Trump and GOP domestic policy action by Russian state media can generally be seen as an indication the Kremlin has evaluated that policy as being ultimately damaging for Americans or significantly divisive in terms of U.S. domestic politics.

Something to think about. -- Leah McElrath 3/8/17 http://shareblue.com/gops-trumpcare-has-at-least-one-fan-russian-state-media/

11. Trump Is Big Beneficiary of GOP Tax Bill

The first big tax cut moving through Congress under President Donald Trump would likely benefit the president himself, potentially saving him millions of dollars in taxes on his rental income next year and even more money on other income if he wins a second term.

Mr. Trump’s decision to continue owning his businesses as president without running them expands the tax’s effect on him and thus makes him benefit more from the proposed repeal, which would take effect in 2018, according to accountants and tax lawyers.” 3/17/17 https://www.wsj.com/articles/one-beneficiary-of-gops-tax-bill-president-trump-1489743000?mod=e2tw

12. Most Young Americans Don’t See Trump as Legitimate

A new Associated Press-GenForward poll finds that 57% of Americans ages 18 to 30 view Donald Trump’s presidency as illegitimate. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/51f9dd74d55e42ef8f16e7154fce60d9/most-young-americans-dont-see-trump-legitimate-leader

13. Trump Ready to Seize Land for Border Wall

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) “said the Trump administration is gearing up for a fight over taking private land needed to build the president’s border wall — and Texas is likely to be ground zero,” the Texas Observer reports.

“This week, the Observer was the first to report that some landowners have already received condemnation notices they have vowed to resist. And in the proposed White House budget released Thursday, the Trump administration is asking for funding to hire 20 additional Department of Justice attorneys to pursue condemnations.” 3/20/17 https://www.texasobserver.org/texas-border-wall-mexico-condemnation-letter/

14. Roger Stone Under F.B.I. Scrutiny

Only two months into the Trump presidency, Mr. Roger Stone., known for his pinstripe suits, the Nixon tattoo spanning his shoulder blades, and decades of outlandish statements, is under investigation for what would be his dirtiest trick — colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton and put his friend Donald Trump in the White House. 3/21/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/us/roger-stone-donald-trump-russia.html

15. Late Nite Jokes

The White House is also criticizing Rachel Maddow, saying it’s “totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.” They said the documents should be released the proper way: by having a Russian hacker give them to WikiLeaks. -- Jimmy Fallon

Yesterday Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to marijuana as, quote, “only slightly less awful than heroin.” Only slightly less awful — I mean, is he on crack? -- James Corden

There are a lot of cuts in Trump’s proposed budget. PBS, Meals on Wheels, the National Endowment for the Arts would be cut. The guy who has three oil paintings of himself in his bathroom wants to cut the National Endowment for the Arts. Meals on Wheels is out, but don’t worry, the golf trips to Mar-a-Lago every weekend, those will not stop. -- Jimmy Kimmel

Before he gets rid of “Sesame Street,” I think we should make the president watch it a couple of times. That show teaches so many things he needs to know — which thing is bigger than the other, how to spell, the importance of telling the truth and sharing, listening to others, maybe throw in some “Schoolhouse Rock” — he can find out how government works. -- Jimmy Kimmel

The live action version of “Beauty and the Beast” opens tomorrow. It’s the story of a beautiful woman from a small village who falls for a selfish, disgusting monster who lives in a palace filled with gold. Melania Trump is calling it the feel-good movie of the year. -- Jimmy Kimmel

Here’s the thing: Donald Trump is never going to release his taxes — or Melania, for that matter. -- Jimmy Kimmel

16. GOP Health Care Bill Only Helps the Wealthy

The typical family making less than $10,000 will lose $1,420 if the Republican health care plan passes, a cut that amounts to almost one-third of their income. Meanwhile, the average family making $200,000 or more would gain $5,640, according to a new analysis from the Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center:

It's not surprising that cutting taxes on the rich while gutting health coverage for the poor and middle class has regressive consequences. But the numbers the Urban analysts arrive at are still shocking. People making more than $1 million a year would get an average tax cut of $51,410. 3/22/17 http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/89071/2001188-who-gains-and-who-loses-under-the-american-health-care-act_1.pdf

17. Paul Manafort Had Plan To "greatly Benefit" Putin's Government

U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire and made plans to “greatly benefit” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, AP reports.

The news agency says it has gained access to business records, including a confidential strategy plan sent to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska in June 2005, in which Manafort allegedly proposed influencing politics, business dealings and media coverage to advance the Russian government’s interests in the West and within former Soviet states. http://www.newsweek.com/manafort-plan-benefit-putin-administration-572163?rx=us

18. Poll: Support for GOP Health Care Bill Fades

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds just 40% of voters approve of the GOP health care bill, a 6-point drop since last week, while 37% disapprove and 22% are undecided. 3/22/17 http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/health-reform-implementation/325136-poll-support-for-gop-healthcare-bill-fades

19. CBO: Republican repeal plan is literally worse than no plan at all

One piece of context has gone little noticed: The Republican bill would actually result in more people being uninsured than if Obamacare were simply repealed. Getting rid of the major coverage provisions and regulations of Obamacare would cost 23 million Americans their health insurance, according to another recent C.B.O. report. In other words, 1 million more Americans would have health insurance with a clean repeal than with the Republican replacement plan, according to C.B.O. estimates. 3/21/17 http://shareblue.com/cbo-republican-repeal-plan-literally-worse-no-plan/

OPINION

1. Charles M. Blow: Disciples of a False Prophet

The con Donald Trump committed on his voters is slowly coming undone. He is not honest. He is not a brilliant deal maker. He is not even competent.

His entire life, Trump has sold shimmer and called it silver. It was and is all an illusion, a brand built on selling banality with braggadocio. He shaped vapors into dreams and delivered them to those hungry for a taste of the showy, hollow form of the high life he came to represent. He was successful at exploiting those with an ostentatious appetite for the air of success. Trump’s life story is a pyramid scheme of ambitions.

He took that history to a people struggling through a drought of opportunity and he exploited their weaknesses: a shrinking sense of economic security and growing nativist tendencies.

But Trump doesn’t speak so much from facts as from feelings. For him, the truth is malleable and a lie is valuable. He creates his own reality rather than living in the reality of others. Deception is just a tool; betrayal is just an inconvenience.

Now even some of the people who once supported him with vigor are being forced to remove the scales from their eyes. They are now the betrayed disciples of a false prophet.

Trump’s lies, his brand and his presidency are like a house of cards and the truth is a box of matches. It’s becoming ever more likely that the consuming flames — destined to reduce the entire edifice to ashes — are imminent, as Trump slowly converts former acolytes into disappointed adversaries. 3/16/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/opinion/disciples-of-a-false-prophet.html

2. Michael Tomasky: Trump’s Budget Hits Trump’s Voters Hard

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was created in 1965 as a federal-state partnership to spur economic development in 420 counties across 13 states, serving some 25 million people, in the region we call Appalachia. West Virginia is the only one of the 13 states that the government identifies as being wholly within the region.

The ARC had a budget of around $120 million in 2016, and here are some of the indefensible projects it wasted that coal miner’s money on. Around $3 million in regional development and planning programs for West Virginia. Numerous other grants ranging from around $1 million to as much as $7 million or so to help small towns in depressed counties develop tourism, build rail links, expand airports, fund local health departments, erect city parks and amphitheaters, construct access roads, improve water systems…

In other words, socialism of every evil variety you can name.

I should note that Barack Obama, the man who supposedly hates West Virginians proposed a 5.5 percent increase in his 2016 budget in the ARC’s development budget. It’s Donald Trump,  toasted like Caesar there, who’s proposing to do away entirely with the agency that in 2015 spent $7 million making water-system improvements and without whose help over these last five decades that poor state’s poor towns and counties would be in far worse shape than they are.

That’s just Appalachia. Trump’s budget is going to hit Trump’s voters everywhere, and hard. As long as he keeps braying about foreigners and stuff, it’ll take people a while to notice. But they will. One thing I agree with Trump on: These people aren’t dumb. He’ll soon learn that. 3/'16/17 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/16/trump-s-budget-hits-trump-s-voters-hard.html

3. Jonathan Chait: Who’s to Blame for the Trumpcare Debacle, Donald Trump or Paul Ryan?

Health care has risen to the top of Trump’s vulnerabilities. A new Fox News poll shows that the public disapproves of his handling of health care by a 22-point margin. His allies have mounted an aggressive effort to shift the blame for this debacle from Trump to Paul Ryan. Hilariously, the pro-Trump spin depicts the president as a dupe for the wily House Speaker, and Trump’s aides are trashing the bill in private. Of course, the lack of presidential support drives the chance that the bill can pass the House even lower. The Obamacare repeal debacle is already moving out of the how-a-bill-becomes-a-law stage and into the blame-shifting stage.

Trump has been persuaded that he has to repeal Obamacare first in order to have a gigantic tax cut. But that, again, relies on Ryan’s wildly complex and probably impossible plan to write a huge tax cut for the rich that won’t expire. When Trump talks about the tax-cut plan, he describes it in a very different way than Ryan does. Ryan calls his idea “tax reform,” a nod to his notion that the revenue losses will be offset by higher revenue from other sources, at least on paper. Trump doesn’t say that. He just calls it tax cutting.

“I want to get to taxes, I want to cut the hell out of taxes,” Trump told his audience last night, “But before I can do that — I would have loved to have put it first, I’ll be honest — there is one more very important thing that we have to do: We are going to repeal and replace the horrible, disastrous Obamacare.”

Does Trump understand that he doesn’t actually have to repeal Obamacare first? That he could just cut the hell out of the taxes for the next decade? http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/whos-to-blame-for-the-trumpcare-debacle-trump-or-ryan.html

4. Nicholas Kristof: And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan ...

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.”

Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”
They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”

“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”

Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.

“Why, they can pray for a cure,” Pious Paul explained. “I call that universal health care access.” 3/16/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/opinion/and-jesus-said-unto-paul-of-ryan.html

5. John Cassidy: Donald Trump Finally Pays A Price For His False And Reckless Words

As a Presidential candidate, Donald Trump led a charmed existence. Whatever he said, no matter how outrageous, it didn’t seem to hurt him. He could insult his Republican opponents, make misogynistic comments about female journalists, call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, describe Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers, trot out blatant falsehoods by the dozen, encourage the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s e-mail account—none of it proved damaging to his candidacy. As he famously remarked, it was as if he could go out and shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue “and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Now things have changed. He might never admit it, but Trump has belatedly discovered a basic principle of politics: words matter. They matter so much, in fact, that they can make or break a Presidency. That’s why every one of his predecessors—during the modern era, at least—has chosen his words carefully. It took a few weeks for it to become clear that President Trump, as opposed to candidate Trump, would be subject to this principle. But, at this stage, there can be no doubt about it. Virtually every day brings a fresh example of his own loose words coming back to hurt him.

What can’t be denied is that, yet again, the White House is in the soup. The President and his aides now know that words and truth do matter. Yet they continue to act as if they are oblivious. At a press conference with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, on Friday afternoon, a German reporter asked Trump, “Why do you keep saying things you know are not true?” Trump didn’t answer directly. When another German reporter asked Trump about the White House citing claims that the British government bugged him, he refused to take responsibility. “We said nothing,” he said. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.” And, once again, Trump refused to back off the discredited claim that Obama bugged him. Looking at Merkel, whose phone the N.S.A. reportedly tapped for years, he said, jokingly, “At least we have something in common, perhaps.”

Of course, it’s no joke. But will he ever learn? 3/17/17 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trump-finally-pays-a-price-for-his-false-and-reckless-words

6. Theo Anderson: The Right-Wing Machine Behind The Curtain

Heritage defines its mission as creating “an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.” It has an annual budget of about $100 million and a staff of about 90 “experts” who hold such pseudo-academic titles as “research fellow’ and “policy analyst.” One example is libertarian economist Stephen Moore, a Trump advisor and a Heritage “distinguished visiting fellow.”

Heritage’s ties to the administration have received relatively little press. With its academic gloss, it may seem benign set against the extremism and zaniness that dominate the headlines: a press secretary only marginally less bizarre than the Saturday Night Live spoof of him; a key advisor who embraces the role of Darth Vader; cabinet picks who have promised to abolish the institutions they lead; executive orders that stigmatize Muslims and violate the Constitution; attacks on the press as “the enemy of the American people”; and on and on. 

Yet a grim reality underlies the White House circus. Trump’s election is the culmination of a radical right-wing movement that began with the founding of Heritage in 1973. “We are different from previous generations of conservatives,” Weyrich said in the early 1980s. “We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country.” 

Trump is that movement’s best hope yet for achieving its great dream of gutting government. Heritage isn’t an appendage of the Trump administration’s radicalism. It’s the heart of it. Trump is just a tool. 3/14/17 http://inthesetimes.com/features/trump_pence_heritage_foundation.html

7. Joy-Ann Reid: Time to Call Out the Big GOP Lie on Obamacare

“Obamacare is imploding” has become the Republicans’ Big Lie; a lie that doesn’t get nearly the disrespect it deserves. Every day, on cable and broadcast news, and in press conferences, Republicans look into the camera and claim that Obamacare is imploding, collapsing, and death spiraling; frequently to either non-responses or the obligatory “uh-huh” in reply. It’s quite a concession on the part of members of the media; allowing Republicans to recast their greatest obsession—repealing  Obamacare—as an emergency rescue operation, or even an “act of mercy.”

Obamacare is not imploding. Nor is it collapsing. Nor is it a “ticking time bomb” that Obama ordered B613 to set to go off the moment he left office and he and Michelle arrived in New York City looking younger than you.

So while Republicans really want Obamacare to collapse, and indeed they’ve tried very hard to make it collapse so they could have an excuse to repeal it; the law is not, in fact, collapsing.

What we do know is that Trumpcare (or Trump-Ryancare, or whatever it’s being called today) would mean 24 million fewer people with healthcare by 2024. Republicans like Ryan and Price want you to believe that’s because once the individual mandate is gone, 24 million people would deliberately drop their insurance to live a life of healthcare “freedom.” Well, you won’t be surprised to hear, that too is horse puckey. Most of the newly uninsured would lose their insurance by having the Medicaid expansion stripped away or see their subsidies slashed so much that they could no longer afford a policy; all so that Ryan, Trump, Price, Mulvaney and Co. can hand the richest Americans a $600 billion tax cut.

It’s an ethos not unlike the one that produced a Trump budget that hacks away at everything from mine safety to Big Bird to Meals on Wheels. What you’re seeing in Washington today is exactly what you think you see: a bunch of rich men; modern-day robber barons, giddily drawing up plans to pull off a giant reverse Robin Hood—transferring billions of dollars from the poorest Americans to the richest, just because they can. All that matters is that the wealthy make a profit; and to hell with everyone else.

You want a dose of truth? Donald Trump—the supposed “populist” president; the all-gold everything, New York penthouse-dwelling, Mar-a-Lago every weekend on your dime golf-hopping, wannabe Russian oligarch—is one of them. 3.17.17 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/17/time-to-call-out-the-big-gop-lie-on-obamacare.html

8. Maureen Dowd: Trump, Working-Class Zero

President Trump has created troubles by believing TV reports. The worldview of Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, was shaped by his father’s trust of TV advice.

It’s not unknown, of course.

In ancient Egypt, there was the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. Nerve-addled octopuses sometimes consume their own arms.

But we’ve never watched a president so hungrily devour his own presidency.

Soon, there won’t be anything left except the sound of people snickering.

Consumed by his paranoia about the deep state, Donald Trump has disappeared into the fog of his own conspiracy theories. As he rages in the storm, Lear-like, howling about poisonous fake news, he is spewing poisonous fake news.

He trusts his beliefs more than facts. So many secrets, so many plots, so many shards of gossip swirl in his head, there seems to be no room for reality.

Maybe if these elites-pretending-not-to-be-elites deigned to talk to some knowledgeable elites in government once in a while, they might emerge from the distorted, belligerent, dystopian, Darwinian, cracked-mirror world that is alarming Americans and our allies. They might even stop ripping off the working-class people they claim to be helping. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/18/opinion/sunday/trump-working-class-zero.html

9. Paul Krugman: America’s Epidemic of Infallibility

Two weeks after President Trump claimed, bizarrely, that the Obama administration had wiretapped his campaign, his press secretary suggested that GCHQ — Britain’s counterpart to the National Security Agency — had done the imaginary bugging. British officials were outraged. And soon the British press was reporting that the Trump administration had apologized.

But no: Meeting with the chancellor of Germany, another ally he’s alienating, Mr. Trump insisted that there was nothing to apologize for. He said, “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind,” a commentator on (of course) Fox News.

Was anyone surprised? This administration operates under the doctrine of Trumpal infallibility: Nothing the president says is wrong, whether it’s his false claim that he won the popular vote or his assertion that the historically low murder rate is at a record high. No error is ever admitted. And there is never anything to apologize for.

O.K., at this point it’s not news that the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military is a man you wouldn’t trust to park your car or feed your cat. Thanks, Comey. But Mr. Trump’s pathological inability to accept responsibility is just the culmination of a trend. American politics — at least on one side of the aisle — is suffering from an epidemic of infallibility, of powerful people who never, ever admit to making a mistake.

We can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience — not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll eventually put a responsible adult back in the White House. 3/20/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/opinion/americas-epidemic-of-infallibility.html

10. Juan Williams: For GOP, a domino effect on health and taxes

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House Democratic Leader, reduces the many problems with the GOP healthcare plan to this: “They have no idea how to explain stealing $600 billion from working families’ health care to give more tax breaks to the richest people in our country.”

Conservative political observers are also connecting the troubled GOP healthcare proposal to the Republicans’ longstanding promise to act on tax reform.

Once again, the most important tweet last week in conservative politics did not come from President @realDonaldTrump. It came from Matt Drudge, the proprietor of the Drudge Report.

“Republicans lied about wanting tax cuts,” he tweeted. “Can we get our votes back?”

Drudge is looking ahead on the political horizon and seeing that ObamaCare replacement and tax reform can’t be separated. Without a healthcare plan that cuts federal spending, there is no chance for tax reform.

President Trump stunned a lot of people with his honesty when he recently blurted out that he’d discovered that healthcare is “an unbelievably complex subject.” He added that he remained determined on healthcare for one reason:

“And for budget purposes, as you know, we have to do healthcare before we do the tax cut,” he explained.

In their talking points, Congressional Republicans like to remind people that the nation has not seen comprehensive tax reform since 1986, when Republican President Ronald Reagan worked with a Democratic Speaker, Tip O’Neill.

Republicans are learning there is a reason why it hasn’t happened in over three decades. Perhaps they should have listened to Camp when they had the chance.

When it comes to a healthcare plan and tax reform, the GOP might as well echo the famous words of the comic-strip character Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” 3/20/17 http://thehill.com/opinion/juan-williams/324717-juan-williams-for-gop-a-domino-effect-on-health-and-taxes

11. David Leonhardt: All the President’s Lies

But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women.

He tells so many untruths that it’s time to leave behind the textual parsing over which are unwitting and which are deliberate — as well as the condescending notion that most of Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies.

Trump sets out to deceive people. As he has put it, “I play to people’s fantasies.”

Caveat emptor: When Donald Trump says something happened, it should not change anyone’s estimation of whether the event actually happened. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. His claim doesn’t change the odds.

Comey, as much as liberals may loathe him for his 2016 bungling, seems to be one of the few public officials with the ability and willingness to pursue the truth. I dearly hope that Republican members of the Senate are patriotic enough to do so as well.
Our president is a liar, and we need to find out how serious his latest lies are. 3/20/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/opinion/all-the-presidents-lies.html

ARCHIVES

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

DIRECT is a FREE web based weekly eZine. On most Thursday mornings subscribers are sent an email notice with the table of contents and link to the current issue.

To SUBSCRIBE: Email jellison@san.rr.com with "subscribe" on the subject line. NOTE: Your email address will not be shared - ever!

To UNSUBSCRIBE: Email jellison@san.rr.com with "unsubscribe" as the subject.

Your comments and/or suggestions are always welcome!! Please send them to jellison@san.rr.com

Read what other readers have said about DIRECT at http://www.directzine4dems.com/comments.htm

Fair Use Notice:

This site contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. "Go to Original" links are provided as a convenience to allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the "Go to Original" links.