February 22nd, 2018

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ON THE RECORD.....

“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment. We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.” -- EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt explaining that he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.

“As long as the president allows Steve Miller and others to run the show down there, we’re never going to get anywhere.” --  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on findiing a solution for the dreamers.

Today's revelations confirm what we've long known. Time will tell us more, but Russia went to great lengths to undermine our democracy, & the President won't protect us. No matter your politics, it's un-American. We have an adversary that is laughing at us, who will act again. -- Hillary spoksperson Nick Merrill @NickMerrill

CLINTON: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.

CLINTON: And it’s pretty clear…

TRUMP: You’re the puppet!

CLINTON: It’s pretty clear you won’t admit…

TRUMP: No, you’re the puppet. -- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/19/the-final-trump-clinton-debate-transcript-annotated/

“It is a tried and true maxim. As a former prosecutor, you follow the money. We have not been able to adequately follow the money. And I think the allegations on money laundering are credible enough that we ought to, in the exercise of due diligence, see if this was one of the other vectors of the Russian active measures campaign.We know that in other places they use money laundering as a way of entangling people, as a way of compromising people. To me that is far more potentially compromising than any salacious video would be.” -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

“Why is Mr. Trump still ignoring such conclusions? Some have said he is giving Russia a green light to tamper with the 2018 elections. That would have once been an absurd suggestion. It can no longer be dismissed out of hand.”-- NY Times Editorial

 

“America was attacked, and our commander in chief said nothing in response. He looks weak, not only in Moscow but throughout the world.” — Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul

“He clearly, I think, has failed in carrying out his duty as president of the United States, which is to protect our democracy. If this is information warfare, then I think he’s the first draft dodger in the war.” — Former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, on President Trump’s unwillingness to stand up to Russian attacks on U.S. elections.

“It is the beginnings, in many other countries it’s been the beginnings of an authoritarian rule, and that’s the larger threat hanging over us now,” -- David Gergen, who has worked as a White House aide for four different presidents, issuing a stark warning about the Trump administration.

The indictment revealed that the efforts included “operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” -- Politico on Robert Mueller’s recently released indictment.

“Donald Trump represents kind of a dark underbelly of America.” — Historian Douglas Brinkley, interviewed on C-SPAN

Trump’s erratic tweeting “reminds me very much of the last days of President Nixon when he became deeply, deeply insecure, lashed out in all sorts of ways and didn’t remain focused on the job at hand. But this, I’m afraid, has been President Trump’s pattern for some time. I don’t know why he is so insecure. It certainly suggests that as Mueller closes in more, that there is he very much does not want us to know, and he is very afraid that Mueller is going to get there.” -- Former Nixon speechwriter David Gergen on CNN.

“These races are like canaries in the coal mine. For Republicans, the canaries are dying.” — Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), on GOP losses in state legislative races across the country.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. The DAILY GRILL
2. Media Matters
3. Right-Wing Media Uses Parkland Shooting as Conspiracy Fodder
4. From the Late Shows
5. Donald Trump Raids the Pantry of Poor Americans
6. Another Trump victim: Migratory birds7. Mark Fiore cartoon "TrumpBox"
8. Obama’s Retrospective Approval Rate Is 63%
9. Kushner Investors Subpoenaed by U.S. Tax Authorities
10. Stalemate Over Guns and Immigration Isn’t Going Away
11. More Than Half of Trump’s Cabinet Is Ethically Challenged
12. Russian Bots Flooded Twitter After Parkland Shooting
13. Inside the Russian Effort to Bamboozle Florida
14. Trump administration assault on bipartisan immigration plan ensured its demise
15. A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’
16. How Trump took advantage of Russian interference: Amplifying Wikileaks
17. How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents?
18. Big Majority Wants Stricter Gun Laws
19. Late Night Jokes for Dems

OPINION

1. NY Times Editorial: Will America Choose Its Children Over Guns?
2. Philip Rucker Trump’s ‘Russia hoax’ turns out to be real
3. Thomas Friedman: Whatever Trump is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now
4. Molly Ball: Why Trump’s ‘Forgotten Man’ Still Supports Him
5. Charles M. Blow: Scandal-Ridden Scoundrel
6. Nicholas Kristof: The Trump Stain Spreads
7. Paul Waldman: Trump's budget reveals the GOP's priorities in all their hideous glory
8. Ed Kilgore: Why Rural America Controls the Debates Over Guns and Immigration
9. James Risen: Is Donald Trump a Traitor
10. David Frum: America Is Under Attack and the President Doesn't Care
11. Paul Krugman: The Content of the G.O.P.’s Character
12. Karen Tumulty: We’ve just hit a new presidential low

FYI

1. The DAILY GRILL

"Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election" #Axios360 ---- VP Mike Pence saying that U.S. intelligence has determined that Russian meddling in the 2016 election did not affect the outcome.

VERSUS

No, Mr. Vice President, that’s false. The Intelligence Community reached no conclusion as to whether Russia’s actions had a determinative effect on the election’s outcome. For you and the President to continue saying it did, gravely misrepresents their work. -- Adam Schiff‏ @RepAdamSchiff

 

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud! -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

“You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born.” — Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), on Twitter

 

My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school. -- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

“I don't want your condolences you f—ing price [sic] of s—t, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won't fix this. But control will prevent it from happening again.“ — sarah (@chaddiedabaddie)

 

A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security...... -- Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006. Let’s clear this up for everyone. It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself.-- Rachel Crooks for Ohio @RachelforOhio

2. Media Matters

Sean Hannity downplays indictment of Russian nationals: "It basically had nothing to do with the Trump campaign."In fact, indictment says Russian defendants "communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign” and supported “the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/02/16/sean-hannity-downplays-indictment-russian-nationals-it-basically-had-nothing-do-trump-campaign/219416

Fox host falsely claims the deputy attorney general said indicted Russians “didn't influence the outcome” of the election. In his statement, Rosenstein said the indictment didn’t make any allegations that the outcome was affected. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/02/16/fox-host-falsely-claims-deputy-attorney-general-said-indicted-russians-didnt-influence-outcome/219410

3. Right-Wing Media Uses Parkland Shooting as Conspiracy Fodder

In certain right-wing corners of the web — and, increasingly, from more mainstream voices like Rush Limbaugh and a commentator on CNN — the students are being portrayed not as grief-ridden survivors but as pawns and conspiracists intent on exploiting a tragedy to undermine the nation’s laws.

In these baseless accounts, … the students are described as ‘crisis actors,’ who travel to the sites of shootings to instigate fury against guns. Or they are called F.B.I. plants, defending the bureau for its failure to catch the shooter. They have been portrayed as puppets being coached and manipulated by the Democratic Party, gun control activists, the so-called antifa movement and the left-wing billionaire George Soros. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/business/media/parkland-shooting-media-conspiracy.html

4. From the Late Shows

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 02/18/18: https://youtu.be/WHCBWnCo3QQ

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Trump's Lawyer Paid Off Stormy Daniels: https://youtu.be/w8IOkO8cLgg

Jimmy Kimmel on School Shooting in Parkland, Florida: https://youtu.be/Z0vLiQLpsc8

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: If Politicians Won't Take Action, These High Schoolers Will: https://youtu.be/Oa0tSw2iV5o

5. Donald Trump Raids the Pantry of Poor Americans

Among the numerous harebrained ideas in President Trump’s budget proposal this week, one stands out as especially pernicious: a scheme that would slash an essential antipoverty program and put fresh food further out of reach for 46 million low-income people, or one in seven Americans.

Mr. Trump’s proposal for slashing SNAP and introducing food boxes comes just as Congress is working on a new Farm Bill, which lawmakers have to pass before the end of September, when authorizations for food stamps and other agricultural programs are scheduled to end. Several Republican lawmakers have said they are unlikely to get on board with the administration’s retrograde ideas. That’s good. But given how far members of Congress have gone to do Mr. Trump’s bidding in the last year, it won’t be a complete relief until lawmakers vote to keep the program going without cuts. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/opinion/food-stamps-trump-boxes.html

6. Another Trump victim: Migratory birds

On the eve of the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the nation's bedrock environmental laws, the Trump administration delivered a churlish anniversary present: It gutted the law.

Three days before Christmas, the U.S. Interior Department quietly issued a reinterpretation of the law, effective immediately. It freed private interests — most notably, energy companies — from criminal prosecutions and fines for the deaths of migratory birds killed by industrial practices.

The opinion is such an outlier that 17 former high-ranking government conservation officials, representing both parties, sent a letter⁠ to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke denouncing it as a "new, contrived legal standard that creates a huge loophole in the MBTA, allowing companies to engage in activities that routinely kill migratory birds." Signers of the letter included five of the six living former U.S. Fish and Wildlife directors and seven of the eight former migratory bird management chiefs who served under Presidents Nixon through Obama.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act has provided the foundation⁠ of federal protection for birds in the United States since it was enacted in 1918. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-leslie-migratory-bird-act-trump-administration-20180214-story.html

7. Mark Fiore cartoon "TrumpBox"

https://vimeo.com/255857819

8. Obama’s Retrospective Approval Rate Is 63%

A new Gallup survey finds 63% of Americans in hindsight say they approve of the way Barack Obama handled his job.

Gallup’s first measure of Obama’s retrospective job approval rating places him behind only John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan among the 10 most recent presidents. Richard Nixon is rated worst today for how he handled his job, with 28% approving. http://news.gallup.com/poll/226994/obama-first-retrospective-job-approval-rating.aspx

9. Kushner Investors Subpoenaed by U.S. Tax Authorities

“U.S. tax authorities have requested documents from lenders and investors in real estate projects managed by Jared Kushner’s family,” Bloomberg reports.

“They have gathered information from people who lent money and assembled investors for some Kushner Cos. real estate projects in New York and New Jersey.”

“The Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department issued the subpoenas within the past year… The tax inquiry appears unrelated to other investigations that have since burst into public view.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-15/kushner-investors-said-to-be-subpoenaed-by-u-s-tax-authorities

10. Stalemate Over Guns and Immigration Isn’t Going Away

On both matters, Republicans are championing primarily non-urban and predominantly white constituencies that want fewer immigrants and more access to guns. Democrats reflect a mirror-image consensus: Their voters coming from diverse urban areas usually support more immigrants and fewer guns.”

“The predictability of deadlock testifies to the power of the intertwined cultural, demographic, and economic divide now separating urban and non-urban America—and how closely the nation’s partisan split follows the contours of that larger separation.” http://freebeacon.com/columns/gop-tax-cut-gamble/

11. More Than Half of Trump’s Cabinet Is Ethically Challenged

An APM Reports review of news coverage, ethics agreements and government financial disclosure forms has found that more than half of Trump's 20-person Cabinet has engaged in questionable or unethical conduct. https://www.apmreports.org/ethics

12. Russian Bots Flooded Twitter After Parkland Shooting

Following the school shooting in Florida on Wednesday, Russian bots “flooded Twitter” to spread pro-gun messaging and stir up discord. https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/

13. Inside the Russian Effort to Bamboozle Florida

The scathing indictment unsealed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller outlines a multi-state scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. But the document makes clear that the operation in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, was in a class by itself.

The indictment is packed with details of how Russian nationals duped Donald Trump campaign volunteers and grass-roots organizations in Florida into holding rallies they organized and helped fund with foreign cash… During the heat of the 2016 race, Trump campaign officials in Florida said they were surprised by all the grass-roots support for the president — which seemed entirely organic at the time. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/mueller-indictment-russia-florida-interference-416255

14. Trump administration assault on bipartisan immigration plan ensured its demise

“We’re going to bury it,” one senior administration official told a reporter about 10:30  that evening.

The Trump administration’s extraordinary 11th-hour strategy to sabotage the immigration bill showed how, after weeks of intense bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill, it was the White House that emerged as a key obstacle preventing a deal to help the dreamers.

The episode reflected President Trump’s inability — or lack of desire — to cut a deal with his adversaries even when doing so could have yielded a signature domestic policy achievement and delivered the U.S.-Mexico border wall he repeatedly promised during the campaign.

Along the way, Trump demonstrated the sort of unpredictable behavior that has come to define his topsy-turvy tenure, frequently sending mixed signals that kept leaders in both parties guessing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-assault-on-bipartisan-immigration-plan-ensured-its-demise/2018/02/17/ad1661f4-133e-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

15. A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’

The Washington Post spoke to Marat Mindiyarov, one of the 13 Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last week, who described what it was like at the “troll factory” where he worked:

I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book 1984 by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.

My untruths amounted to posting comments. I worked in the commenting department — I had to comment on the news. No one asked me my opinion. My opinions were already written for me, and I had to write in my own words that which I was ordered to write. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/17/a-former-russian-troll-speaks-it-was-like-being-in-orwells-world/

16. How Trump took advantage of Russian interference: Amplifying Wikileaks

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments on Friday focused only on the social media and grassroots components of Russia’s interference campaign. But they didn’t address the hacked emails from John Podesta and the DNC that WikiLeaks released — and which Donald Trump and his campaign eagerly used during the final days of the 2016 election.

Trump insists he and his campaign didn’t collude with Russia… But his campaign certainly took advantage of the WikiLeaks release — about which Mueller’s investigation has been silent. At least so far. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/how-trump-took-advantage-russian-interference-amplifying-wikileaks-n849326

17. How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents?

The New York Times surveyed 170 political scientists and found that President Trump is currently ranked as the worst U.S. president in history. Compare the scores of all American presidents at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/19/opinion/how-does-trump-stack-up-against-the-best-and-worst-presidents.html

18. Big Majority Wants Stricter Gun Laws

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters support stricter gun laws, 66% to 31%, the highest level of support ever measured by the poll, with 50% to 44% support among gun owners and 62% to 35% support from white voters with no college degree and 58% to 38% support among white men.

In addition, Americans support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, 67% to 29%, and a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases, 83% to 14%.

This is stunning: Support for universal background checks is itself almost universal, 97% to 2%, including 97% to 3% among gun owners. https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail

OPINION

1. NY Times Editorial: Will America Choose Its Children Over Guns?

As surely as there are camels’ backs and straws to break them, moments arrive when citizens say they’ve had enough, when they rise up against political leaders who do not speak for them and whose moral fecklessness imperils lives. We may be witness to such a moment now with the protests by American teenagers sickened — and terrified — by the latest mass murder at the hands of someone with easy access to a weapon fit for a battlefield, not a school.

These kids have had enough. They’ve had enough of empty expressions of sympathy in the wake of the sort of atrocities they’ve grown up with, like last week’s mass shooting that took 17 lives at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Enough of the ritualistic mouthing of thoughts and prayers for the victims. Enough of living in fear that they could be next in the cross hairs of a well-armed deranged killer, even with all the active shooter drills and lockdowns they’ve gone through. Enough of craven politicians who kneel before the National Rifle Association and its cynically fundamentalist approach to the Second Amendment. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/opinion/america-children-guns-shooting-florida.html

2. Philip Rucker Trump’s ‘Russia hoax’ turns out to be real

 The hackers, he suggested, may have been Chinese. Or some 400-pound guy sitting on his bed. Again and again, he insisted, Russian interference was a hoax — a fiction created by Democrats as an excuse for losing an election they should have won.

When Donald Trump finally acknowledged publicly that Russians had hacked Democratic emails and interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the then-president elect immediately regretted it. He confided to advisers that he did not believe the intelligence. The last thing Trump wanted to do was to endorse the notion that his victory may have been caused by any force other than his own strategy, message and charisma.

“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” Trump tweeted last Feb. 26.

But Trump’s own Justice Department has concluded otherwise. A 37-page federal indictment released Friday afternoon spells out in exhaustive detail a three-year Russian plot to disrupt America’s democracy and boost Trump’s campaign, dealing a fatal blow to one of the president’s favorite talking points. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-russia-hoax-turns-out-to-be-real/2018/02/16/be3d174a-1346-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

3. Thomas Friedman: Whatever Trump is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/opinion/trump-russia-putin.html

4. Molly Ball: Why Trump’s ‘Forgotten Man’ Still Supports Him

As long sees it, no one should feel more betrayed by the Trump presidency than the archetypical Trump supporter: the white working-class voter whom Trump dubbed the Forgotten Man. And yet, to his great frustration, many of his fellow blue collar workers don’t seem to grasp how Trump has abandoned them.

The immovable loyalty of Trump’s narrow but vocal base has broad ramifications, not just for the Democratic Party but also for the nation. Unbridgeable divides make governing nearly impossible: there can be no consensus in a politics of blind tribalism. http://time.com/5159859/why-trumps-forgotten-man-still-supports-him/

5. Charles M. Blow: Scandal-Ridden Scoundrel

Donald Trump has turned the political world upside down, again and again, like a kid flipping a coin. Every day we wake up to either a new scandal or several lingering ones.

It is astounding. It is maddening. It is numbing.

At this moment, he is embroiled in a scandal of a six-figure payment to a porn star who goes by the name Stormy Daniels and who, at one point, gave an interview in which she claimed that the two were engaged in an extramarital sexual affair.

He is also embroiled in a scandal over why a top aide, Rob Porter, accused of physically assaulting his two ex-wives, was allowed to remainon the White House staff even after these allegations had been brought to the attention of the White House by the F.B.I.

Exacerbating this scandal is the fact that the official White House timeline about the events leading to Porter’s resignation turned out to be a lie, according to sworn testimony on Tuesday by the F.B.I. director Christopher Wray. It is also exacerbated by the fact that after Porter resigned, Trump praised him, and initially failed to say anything about domestic violence in general, reserving that condemnation for a week later, when he said, “I’m totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.”

And of course, there is the omnipresent issue of Russia attacking our elections in 2016 and the investigation into whether anyone in the Trump orbit colluded or cooperated with the Russians, conspired to commit a crime, lied to officers or tried to obstruct justice.

That’s just the big three at the moment. We also mustn’t forget that the president has never released his tax returns, he refused to sever ties with his businesses, and he is burning through our money going to golf courses or his properties with decadent regularity. He also defended Nazis and was disrespectful to the hurricane-ravaged people of Puerto Rico. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/opinion/scandal-ridden-scoundrel.html

6. Nicholas Kristof: The Trump Stain Spreads

Sometimes politicians, liberals and conservatives alike, are unprincipled in pursuit of principles they are passionate about. But Trump aides don’t seem to believe in any cause larger than themselves or their leader.

That’s alarming because of the risks that even worse might lie ahead. When self-absorbed people are caught in a growing scandal, they overreach. In this case, that might mean the firing of Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, or some military clash that changes the subject. To be clear, I don’t think officials would deliberately turn to war as a solution to political problems, but we all have a remarkable ability to persuade ourselves that what is good for us is also good for the country.Every administration suffers embarrassments. But when there is a basic lack of integrity at the top, these do not easily self-correct; rather, they build upon themselves because of an impulse to cover up and layer new deceptions on top of old deceit. That seems to be what is happening in both the Rob Porter and porn-payoff scandals.

The risk is that this stain continues to spread, metastasizing and bringing down everything around it. And to me, it looks as if the Trump administration is now metastasizing. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/opinion/porter-trump-domestic-violence.html

7. Paul Waldman: Trump's budget reveals the GOP's priorities in all their hideous glory

The president's budget is always a window into the administration's thinking and priorities. In this case, that window opens on an ugly place, where the world the Republican Party would like to see is laid out in all its hideous glory.

Let's take a look at just some of the highlights. The budget would do the following:

Spend $716 billion this year on the military

Spend $18 billion over two years to build a border wall

Cut $554 billion from Medicare over 10 years

Cut $250 billion from Medicaid over 10 years

Cut $214 billion from food stamps over 10 years

Cut the EPA's budget by 34 percent

Cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development budget by 14 percent, including eliminating the fund that pays for capital repairs to public housing

Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding to PBS and NPR

Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities

Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal help to poor Americans

Eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which ensures that poor Americans don't freeze to death in the winter

Cut funding for Amtrak in half

Eliminate ARPA-E, which does cutting-edge research on energy technology

Now tell me those aren't moral choices.

If you're looking for a silver lining, you might observe that unlike prior Republican budgets, this one does not pretend that it will be balanced in 10 years. Which might sound like some admirable candor, were it not for the fact that this one is as full of magic asterisks, fairy dust, and unicorn kisses as ever. Most importantly, it assumes that GDP growth will quickly top 3 percent then stay that high through 2024, a stretch unlike anything we've seen in decades. That allows them to say they aren't ballooning the deficit as much as they actually would. http://theweek.com/articles/754741/trumps-budget-reveals-gops-priorities-all-hideous-glory

8. Ed Kilgore: Why Rural America Controls the Debates Over Guns and Immigration

The predictability of deadlock testifies to the power of the intertwined cultural, demographic, and economic divide now separating urban and non-urban America — and how closely the nation’s partisan split follows the contours of that larger separation. It also shows how population-distribution patterns that concentrate Democratic strength in the House of Representatives into the largest urban areas, combined with the small-state bias that accords each state two senators regardless of population, elevate rural over urban priorities in these polarized debates.

Thanks to the Senate’s wildly anti-democratic nature, which is reflected in an Electoral College that lifted Donald Trump to the presidency despite his popular-vote loss, compounded by the gerrymandering and superior vote efficiency that give the GOP an advantage even in the “people’s branch” of the federal government, what Brownstein calls “rural priorities” are very powerful in a Republican-controlled federal government. To a considerable extent, in obstructing popular immigration and gun legislation, the GOP is reflecting the values and interests of its predominant demographic constituency. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/rural-america-controls-the-debates-over-guns-and-immigration.html

 

9. James Risen: Is Donald Trump a Traitor

Most pundits in Washington now recoil at any suggestion that the Trump-Russia story is really about treason. They all want to say it’s about something else – what, they aren’t quite sure. They are afraid to use serious words. They are in the business of breaking down the Trump-Russia narrative into a long series of bite-sized, incremental stories in which the gravity of the overall case often gets lost. They seem to think that treason is too much of a conversation-stopper, that it interrupts the flow of cable television and Twitter. God forbid you might upset the right wing! (And the left wing, for that matter.)

But if a presidential candidate or his lieutenants secretly work with a foreign government that is a longtime adversary of the United States to manipulate and then win a presidential election, that is almost a textbook definition of treason. https://theintercept.com/2018/02/16/trump-russia-election-hacking-investigation/

10. David Frum: America Is Under Attack and the President Doesn't Care

As the rest of America mourns the victims of the Parkland, Florida, massacre, President Trump took to Twitter.

Not for him the rituals of grief. He is too consumed by rage and resentment. He interrupted his holidaying schedule at Mar-a-Lago only briefly, for a visit to a hospital where some of the shooting victims were treated. He posed afterward for a grinning thumbs-up photo op. Pain at another’s heartbreak—that emotion is for losers, apparently.

Having failed at one presidential duty, to speak for the nation at times of national tragedy, Trump resumed shirking an even more supreme task: defending the nation against foreign attack.

The new question is this: What has been—what will be done—to protect American democracy from such attacks in the future? The Russian attack in 2016 worked, yielding dividends beyond Vladimir Putin’s wildest hopes. The Russians hoped to cast a shadow over the Clinton presidency. Instead, they outright elected their preferred candidate. Americans once thought it was a big deal that Alger Hiss rose to serve as acting temporary secretary general of the United Nations. This time, a Russian-backed  individual was installed in the Oval Office. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/america-is-under-attack-and-the-president-doesnt-care/553667/

11. Paul Krugman: The Content of the G.O.P.’s Character

Even those who have long since accepted the premise that Donald Trump is corrupt, self-centered and dishonest seem a bit shocked by his tirades over the Presidents’ Day weekend. Using the Parkland, Fla., massacre as an excuse to attack the F.B.I. for investigating Russian election intervention on his behalf — while lying about his own past denials that such intervention took place — took vileness to a new level, which is truly impressive given Trump’s previous record.

Yet if you step back a bit and think about it, Trump’s latest outbursts were very much in character — and I don’t just mean his personal character. When did you last see a member of the Trump administration, or for that matter any prominent Republican, admit error or accept responsibility for problems?

Don’t say that it has always been that way, that it’s just the way people are. On the contrary, taking responsibility for your actions — what my parents called being a mensch — used to be considered an essential virtue in politicians and adults in general. And in this as in so many things, there’s a huge asymmetry between the parties. Of course not all Democrats are honest and upstanding; but as far as I can tell, there’s almost nobody left in the G.O.P. willing to take responsibility for, well, anything. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/opinion/gop-character-bad-faith.html

12. Karen Tumulty: We’ve just hit a new presidential low

Donald Trump has taken the presidency to yet another new low.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” the president tweeted. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

His claim was grotesque and baseless, even by Trumpian standards. His self-absorption is such that he cannot see beyond his own fixation, which is that all of this has no meaning beyond the legitimacy of his own election.

Moscow must indeed be laughing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2018/02/18/weve-just-hit-a-new-presidential-low/

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