December 14th and 21st, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....


“Doug Jones didn’t just defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race on Tuesday night — he administered the most crushing and embarrassing political blow of President Trump’s young presidency,” --  Politico 

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”-- USA Today Editorial

“Fundamentally the bill has been mislabeled. From a truth in advertising standpoint it would have been a lot simpler if we just acknowledged really on this bill, which is it’s fundamentally a corporate tax reduction and restructuring bill, period.” -- Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) pointing out that Republicans are not accurately portraying their tax bill: It isn’t a middle-class tax cut, it’s a corporate one.

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” -- Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), announcing his resignation.

“Strange principle is emerging: If you admit misconduct, you resign. But if you deny it, however compelling or voluminous the testimony against you, you continue in office-or on to office-with impunity?” -- David Axelrod @davidaxelrod

We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit. Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.” -- House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) saying that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs.

"As time goes by, more and more of the claims first reported by Steele have been borne out. In general, there is a split between the credibility afforded the dossier by the mainstream media and by intelligence professionals. The former treat it is gossip; the latter take it seriously. Unverified private reporting should not be taken as gospel truth, and no doubt some of the tips Steele picked up are false. But we should probably be giving far more weight to the possibility that the darkest interpretation of Trump’s relations with Russia is actually true. --Jonathan Chait

“I have deep respect for the career Foreign and Civil Service staff who, despite the stinging disrespect this Administration has shown our profession, continue the struggle to keep our foreign policy on the positive trajectory necessary to avert global disaster in increasingly dangerous times” -- Elizabeth Shackelford, in her scathing resignation letter, “accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration of undercutting the State Department and damaging America’s influence in the world.” 

“There is a deliberate, very well-organized, sophisticated assault on facts and reason and evidence. In our country, it’s driven originally by a cabal of billionaires and religious fundamentalists, and their view is that it doesn’t matter what they say. If they say it often enough and they put enough money behind it, they’ll convince a significant number of people.” — Hillary Clinton

“We have all of these facts in chronology, you’d have to believe that these were all isolated incidents, not connected to each other — just doesn’t make rational sense… We do know this: the Russians offered help, the campaign accepted help, the Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help. That is pretty damning, whether it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.” -- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, saying that there is considerable evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Devastated Roy Moore Consoles Himself by Heading to Mall
2. Polls
3. What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?
4. The Closing of the Republican Mind
5. The DAILY GRILL
6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
7. From the Late Shows
8. Late Night Jokes for Dems
9. I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.
10. Tax Bill Could Make ‘Dark Money’ Tax Deductible
11. Fox's pro-Trump hosts are working overtime to discredit Robert Mueller
12. Brave New Films: 16 Women and Donald Trump: Hear their stories
13. Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes
14. Trump’s Plan to Target the Federal Safety Net 

OPINION

1. David Brooks: The G.O.P. Is Rotting
2. Andrew Totias: This Is An Emergency: We Should Break The Glass 
3.  Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker: Inside Trump’s Hour-by-hour Battle For Self-preservation
4. Paul Waldman: Trump's unintentionally profound insight into American politics
5. Erin Gloria Ryan: Dumb And Dumber
6. Jonathan Chait: Why the Trump Tax Cuts Might Jack Up the Deficit More Than Anybody Expects
7. NY TImes Editorial Board: Fox News v. Robert Mueller
8. Timothy Egan:Trumpocalypse: The End Game
9. Max Boot: America Is Heading for an Unprecedented Constitutional Crisis
10. Jonathan Chait: Why the Trump Tax Cuts Might Jack Up the Deficit More Than Anybody Expects
11. NY TImes Editorial Board: Fox News v. Robert Mueller

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Alabama Loses Yet Another Fight to Remain in Eighteenth Century

On Monday, the state of Alabama lost yet another fight to remain in the eighteenth century, extending a losing streak that dates back to the nineteenth century.

Alabama, whose first attempt to remain in the eighteenth century took place between 1861 and 1865, has never shown signs of giving up the fight, even after being dealt a string of stunning defeats in the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties.

According to historians, Monday’s loss brings the number of failed attempts by Alabama to more than four thousand.

But even with this latest defeat, some of the state’s residents, such as Chief Justice Roy Moore, of the Alabama Supreme Court, remained resolute in their fight to return to a time before electricity and indoor plumbing.

“The United States Supreme Court has decided that it is the twenty-first century,” Moore said on Monday. “I say, ‘Not in Alabama, it isn’t.’ ”

LATER: Moments after his stunning defeat in Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election, the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, told reporters that he was planning to cheer himself up by “heading to the mall.” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Polls

Most Republicans Still Think Obama Was Born In Kenya: A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that 51% of Republicans continue to believe the claim that former President Obama was born in Kenya. With that backdrop, most Republicans also “doubt that Russia hacked into DNC emails or spread fake news during last year’s campaign in order to help elect Donald Trump president.” https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/12/08/republicans-see-little-need-russia-investigation/

 Support For GOP Tax Plan Could Hurt Candidates: A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters disapprove of the pending Republican tax plan by a wide margin, 55% to 26%, and 43% say they are less likely to vote for a U.S. Senator or Congressperson who supports the plan. Key finding: “Only 16% of American voters say the tax plan will reduce their taxes, while 44% say it will increase their taxes and 30% say the tax plan will have little impact.” https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2508

Trump Rating Hits Record Low: A new Monmouth poll finds President Trump’s job approval at 32% to 56%, the lowest since he’s taken office. The decline in Trump’s job rating has come much more from women, currently 24% to 68%, than from men, which is 40% to 44%. Democrats lead the generic congressional ballot by 15 percentage points, 51% to 36%. https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/MonmouthPoll_US_121317/

Majority Want Trump Investigated for Sexual Harassment: A new Quinnipiac poll finds 70% of Americans believe the U.S. Congress should investigate allegations of sexual harassment against President Trump, while 25% say he should not be investigated. https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2505

Most Americans Disapprove of Tax Plan: A new CBS News poll finds 53% of Americans disapprove of the Republican tax plan being considered by Congress – including four in 10 who disapprove strongly, and only one in five Americans expect their own taxes to go down. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-poll-americans-say-tax-plan-helps-wealthy-not-middle-class/

Drop In Voters Identifying as Republicans: From November 2016 to November 2017 there was a 5-point drop in the number of people who call themselves Republicans, from 42% to 37%, according to Gallup. In that same time, the number of people identifying as Democrats stayed flat at 44%. https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/trumps-victory-1-year-later/data-republican-party-id-drops-after-trump-election-n828141

Voters Have Few Kind Words for Trump: In an open ended question asking for the right word for Trump, voters are overwhelmingly negative with the most popular word being “idiot,” followed by “liar” and “incompetent.” https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2507

3. What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?

We need to prepare for the eventuality that the Mueller probe catches President Trump, family members and associates red-handed — and Republicans in Congress refuse to do anything about it.

This is beginning to look like a possible or even probable outcome. With a cravenness matched only by its arrogance, the GOP is Trump’s party now. It no longer has any claim to be Lincoln’s. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-if-mueller-catches-trump--and-it-isnt-enough/2017/12/07/8c55de94-db81-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html

4. The Closing of the Republican Mind

There is a straightforward reason why not a single Democrat backed the GOP tax-plan: The GOP not only entirely excluded Democrats from the process of drafting the bills, but the party punished Democratic constituencies—from residents of high-tax states to graduate students—in the bills’ substance. The tax plans represent a political closed circle: bills written solely by Republicans and passed solely by Republican votes that shower their greatest benefits on Republican constituencies. Meanwhile, the biggest losers in the plans are the constituencies of the Democrats who universally opposed them. It’s not just redistribution: The tax bills are also grounded in retribution.”

In that way, the tax debate offers the clearest measure of how powerfully the Republican Party in the Trump era is folding inward. Neither Trump nor GOP congressional leaders are even pretending to represent the entire country—or to consider perspectives beyond those of their core coalition. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/12/taxes-trump-congress/547706/

5. The DAILY GRILL

Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down. -- Newt Gingrich✔@newtgingrich 5/17/17

VERSUS

“Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt." -- Newt Gingrich, who is part of a ramped up GOP effort to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller.

 

.@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?) showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired. -- Donald J.Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

... Trump has lied 22 times this year about crowds. I’ve had to invent a separate Crowds category on the fact-check page. He’s never corrected any of them. https://www.thestar.com/news/world/analysis/2017/11/28/daniel-dales-donald-trump-fact-check-updates.htmlDaniel Dale✔@ddale8

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

Sean Hannity: Obama is "obviously sick, pathetic, and twisted in this obsession with President Trump."https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/12/07/sean-hannity-obama-obviously-sick-pathetic-and-twisted-obsession-president-trump/218775

Lou Dobbs: Trump should be exonerated in the Russia investigation because "we elected a Republican president."https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/12/11/lou-dobbs-trump-should-be-exonerated-russia-investigation-because-we-elected-republican-president/218811

Fox's Gregg Jarrett: The special counsel appears to be "manufacturing crimes where crimes don't exist" to get to Trump. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/12/11/foxs-gregg-jarrett-special-counsel-appears-be-manufacturing-crimes-where-crimes-dont-exist-get-trump/218807

7. From the Late Shows

Visit with Santa Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/A8HLnDP6uRM

Weekend Update on Trump Recognizing Jerusalem as i Capital - SNL: https://youtu.be/s4M28JMIyTo

8. Late Night Jokes for Dems

The New York Times also said there is a rule in the White House that no one is allowed to touch the TV remote except President Trump, and the technical support staff, and I know that sounds insane, but, remember, that’s literally the only rule.

According to a Gallup poll, 80 percent of Russians approve of Vladimir Putin’s leadership, while the other 20 percent are missing. -- Seth Meyers

According to the New York Post, host Matt Lauer plans to disappear, play golf, and stay in the Hamptons after being fired. You hear that, Donald? If you let us fire you for sexual harassment, your life will be exactly the same. -- Seth Meyers

Yesterday, we finally got congressional testimony from Donald Trump Jr. His grilling by the House Intelligence Committee lasted roughly eight hours, making it the first time a Trump has put in a full work day. -- Stephen Colbert

Now, Donald Trump Jr. has long insisted that there was no follow-up to his meeting with Veselnitskaya. CNN got their hands on previously undisclosed emails that show a follow-up after the Trump Tower meeting. Wow. It seems like there’s no end to the number of emails Don Jr. is hiding. We need to see them all. Can anyone help? Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. -- Stephen Colbert

Vladimir Putin announced he’s running for reelection as president of Russia. Putin’s campaign slogan is “I Made America Great Again.” -- Conan O’Brien

9. I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.

I spent the first two decades of my career as a social scientist studying liars and their lies. I thought I had developed a sense of what to expect from them. Then along came President Trump. His lies are both more frequent and more malicious than ordinary people’s.

Trump told 6.6 times as many self-serving lies as kind ones. That’s a much higher ratio than we found for our study participants, who told about double the number of self-centered lies compared with kind ones.

The most stunning way Trump’s lies differed from our participants, though, was in their cruelty. An astonishing 50 percent of Trump’s lies were hurtful or disparaging. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/i-study-liars-ive-never-seen-one-like-president-trump/2017/12/07/4e529efe-da3f-11e7-a841-2066faf731ef_story.html

10. Tax Bill Could Make ‘Dark Money’ Tax Deductible

For the first time in American politics, anonymous ‘dark money’ political donations could become tax-deductible. That’s if a provision currently being debated between House and Senate negotiators makes it into the final tax bill.

The issue at hand started with the ‘Johnson Amendment,’ named after then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson’s 1954 measure that prohibits nonprofit groups who maintain tax-exempt status, including churches and charities, from directly participating in politics.

But efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment have resulted in language that would ease political speech rules for all nonprofits. The results, critics say, could effectively let people deduct de-facto political donations and further hide those political donations and further hide those donations and spending from the public. http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/08/politics/tax-bill-dark-money-political-contributions-tax-deductible/index.html

11. Fox's pro-Trump hosts are working overtime to discredit Robert Mueller

He's hearing that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is "illegitimate and corrupt." That it's led by a "band of merry Trump-haters" who are trying to reverse the results of the election. And that it must be stopped.

He's also hearing that the FBI is becoming "America's secret police," akin to the KGB in Russia, full of "sickness" and "corruption."

He's hearing that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is "illegitimate and corrupt." That it's led by a "band of merry Trump-haters" who are trying to reverse the results of the election. And that it must be stopped.

He's also hearing that the FBI is becoming "America's secret police," akin to the KGB in Russia, full of "sickness" and "corruption."

The repetition is really something to behold -- not just by hosts but by guests who back up the anti-Mueller arguments. "There needs to be an investigation of the investigation," Mike Huckabee, father of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, said on "Fox & Friends" on Monday.

The next night, on Fox Business, fervently pro-Trump host Lou Dobbs tried to outdo his colleagues. He said Strzok, Mueller and former FBI director James Comey "should be the subjects of criminal investigations and held fully accountable for crimes against a sitting president and the voters who supported him." http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/07/media/fox-news-mueller-investigation-coverage/index.html

12. Brave New Films: 16 Women and Donald Trump: Hear their stories

https://www.facebook.com/bravenewfilms/videos/10154851191342016/

13. Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes

Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan.

Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/precision-sacrificed-for-speed-as-gop-rushes-ahead-on-taxes/2017/12/10/876ab274-dc62-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html

14. Trump’s Plan to Target the Federal Safety Net 

The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are hoping to make the most sweeping changes to federal safety net programs in a generation, using legislation and executive actions to target recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and housing benefits

The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/11/trump-welfare-reform-safety-net-288623

OPINION

1. David Brooks: The G.O.P. Is Rotting

A lot of good, honorable Republicans used to believe there was a safe middle ground. You didn’t have to tie yourself hip to hip with Donald Trump, but you didn’t have to go all the way to the other extreme and commit political suicide like the dissident Jeff Flake, either. You could sort of float along in the middle, and keep your head down until this whole Trump thing passed.

Now it’s clear that middle ground doesn’t exist. That’s because Donald Trump never stops asking. First, he asked the party to swallow the idea of a narcissistic sexual harasser and a routine liar as its party leader. Then he asked the party to accept his comprehensive ignorance and his politics of racial division. Now he asks the party to give up its reputation for fiscal conservatism. At the same time he asks the party to become the party of Roy Moore, the party of bigotry, alleged sexual harassment and child assault.

There is no end to what Trump will ask of his party. He is defined by shamelessness, and so there is no bottom. And apparently there is no end to what regular Republicans are willing to give him. Trump may soon ask them to accept his firing of Robert Mueller, and yes, after some sighing, they will accept that, too.

That’s the way these corrupt bargains always work. You think you’re only giving your tormentor a little piece of yourself, but he keeps asking and asking, and before long he owns your entire soul.

The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive — moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: “I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/07/opinion/the-gop-is-rotting.html

2. Andrew Totias: This Is An Emergency: We Should Break The Glass 

The Republican Party is doing harm to every cause it purports to serve. If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may, for a couple years, have one more vote for a justice or a tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation. The pro-life cause will be forever associated with moral hypocrisy on an epic scale. The word “evangelical” is already being discredited for an entire generation. Young people and people of color look at the Trump-Moore G.O.P. and they are repulsed, maybe forever.

The GOP sold its soul a long time ago. Trump only revealed the black, evil monster that hid behind the doors...

“What shall it profit a man,” Jesus asked, “if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?” The current Republican Party seems to not understand that question. Donald Trump seems to have made gaining the world at the cost of his soul his entire life’s motto. . . .

It’s amazing that there haven’t been more Republicans like Mitt Romney who have said: “Enough is enough! I can go no further!”

The reason, I guess, is that the rot that has brought us to the brink of Senator Roy Moore began long ago. Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism. https://andrewtobias.com/this-is-an-emergency-we-should-break-the-glass/

3.  Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker: Inside Trump’s Hour-by-hour Battle For Self-preservation

Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “ & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.

Energized, infuriated — often a gumbo of both — Mr. Trump grabs his iPhone. Sometimes he tweets while propped on his pillow, according to aides. Other times he tweets from the den next door, watching another television. Less frequently, he makes his way up the hall to the ornate Treaty Room, sometimes dressed for the day, sometimes still in night clothes, where he begins his official and unofficial calls.

As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously, according to interviews with 60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.

For other presidents, every day is a test of how to lead a country, not just a faction, balancing competing interests. For Mr. Trump, every day is an hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation. He still relitigates last year’s election, convinced that the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russia’s interference is a plot to delegitimize him.. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/us/politics/donald-trump-president.html

4. Paul Waldman: Trump's unintentionally profound insight into American politics

It's not just scandals, sexual or otherwise, in which the GOP has apparently decided it can say literally anything. Their entire party has decided that their tax plan, which showers benefits on the wealthy and corporations, will generate so much economic activity that it will pay for itself, despite the fact that this has never happened and will never happen, and not even conservative economists will claim it to be true. But it's what every Republican in Congress is saying, apparently on the theory that Paul Ryan is in possession of a pocketful of magic beans that will make it come true. That includes the supposedly moderate and thoughtful Sen. Susan Collins, who went on TV and cited conservative economists to support this fantastical claim; when The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin contactedthose economists, they said Collins doesn't know what she's talking about. And she's just about the sanest person they've got.

What unites these episodes is the belief that it really doesn't matter what you say when you're arguing for a candidate, a policy, or even a legal defense. There's no point in even trying to make your argument persuasive, because persuading people who might not already be with you isn't really the point. All you have to is signal to your partisans: This is what we're saying now, and yes I know it's ridiculous, but just say it.

And they will. To return to our friend Billy Bush and his supporting role in that historic episode, you may remember that after the Access Hollywoodtape emerged, many Republicans panicked, assuming that Trump couldn't possibly win after he was revealed on tape bragging about his ability to sexually assault with impunity. But they were wrong, and they've learned their lesson.

"People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you." http://theweek.com/articles/741495/trumps-unintentionally-profound-insight-into-american-politics

5. Erin Gloria Ryan: Dumb And Dumber

A vigorous national debate has erupted over which of President Trump’s adult sons is The Idiot. SNL thinks it’s Eric, because Eric looks dumber than Donald Jr. But there’s really no contest. Donald Junior is The Idiot. Donald Junior is such an Idiot Son that his overconfident dumbassery might sink his father’s entire administration. And he still doesn’t seem to understand how much trouble he could be in.

Via email, Don Jr. accepted a meeting with a Kremlin-tied Russian attorney whom a charlatan intermediary promised would deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton. “I love it!” the Idiot Son replied before ensnaring the top levels of the Trump campaign in at the very least a pretty bad optical moment, at the very worst an attempt to collude with a foreign power.

When The New York Times was about to publish the email trail implicating Junior in the affair this past summer, The Idiot Son released a statement claiming the meeting was about Russian-American adoptions, a statement that was crafted aboard Air Force One and with the aid of an Idiot number of Trump administration officials. When it turned out that the Times had the “I love it!” email, Junior took it upon himself to tweet screen grabs of the emails himself, as though there was a clause in the criminal code that specifies that you can’t get in trouble for something you admit to. (Oddly enough, President Trump would espouse the opposite belief when dodging questions about his support for accused child molester and Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has not admitted to any child molestation despite the nine women who have come forward. But I digress.)

Idiot Sons are often used as leverage in investigations into their less-stupid, but-still-dumb fathers. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, also has an Idiot Son named Michael Flynn Junior. His Idiot Son was once the chief of staff at Flynn Intel Group and a principle disseminator of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory which posited that Democrats were running a secret child sex ring out of the basement of a pizza restaurant in D.C. News reports indicate that Flynn Junior’s activities associated with the former put him in the line of Robert Mueller’s investigation, which gave the FBI the leverage it needed to convince Michael Flynn Senior to plead guilty to a felony and flip.

Juniors Flynn and Trump might never grasp the extent of their own stupidity; it’s part of what makes them idiots. But for the rest of us, we can take comfort in the fact that the entire course of American history could be changed by the fact that two Idiot Sons don’t know how to do crimes very well. https://www.thedailybeast.com/if-time-picked-loser-of-the-year-it-would-be-the-idiot-son

6. Jonathan Chait: Why the Trump Tax Cuts Might Jack Up the Deficit More Than Anybody Expects

Republicans in Congress have spent weeks insisting their tax-cut plan would increase rather than decrease tax revenue, the findings of every credible budget estimate notwithstanding. Yesterday, the Treasury Department published an “analysis” purporting to support the Republican claim. The document, one page long, consisted of restating its assumption that the tax cuts — in combination with other, as-yet-unwritten bills to reduce social spending and increase infrastructure — would increase growth enough to pay for itself. It does not show how the tax cuts, or the tax cuts plus all the rest of Trump’s ideas, would produce the growth rate it assumes.

The fiscal defense of the Trump tax cuts is a failure even on its own, Alice in Wonderland-ish terms. If your plan only pays for itself when its effects are combined with the effects of other pieces of legislation, it does not pay for itself. Especially if the other legislation doesn’t exist. It’s like claiming for months you can beat up the toughest kid in school, then finally backing up the boast by describing a hypothetical fight where you beat him up with the aid of your black-belt cousin, when in fact your cousin’s grasp of martial arts has not advanced beyond an intention to enroll in a karate class at the YMCA.

And yet, as cartoonish as the fantasies of the Republican voodoo economists have been, they have succeeded in the most important respects: They persuaded their party’s entire political class that the tax-cut bill will not increase the deficit. And merely by causing the rest of us to refute the silly claims that the tax cuts will fail to lose revenue, it has shoved out of the public eye a much more plausible outcome: that the tax cuts will not lose zero revenue, or less revenue than forecast, but actually more. Possibly much more. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/trumps-tax-cuts-might-jack-up-deficit-more-than-you-expect.html

7. NY TImes Editorial Board: Fox News v. Robert Mueller

If only we could dismiss Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham and the other well-paid propagandists at Fox News as though they were harmless drunks at the end of the bar, ticking off their conspiracy theories to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately, the guy sitting on the next stool is the president of the United States, and he’s all ears.

When the propagandists say, “Get rid of Mueller,” it’s not the truth they’re trying to protect; it’s Mr. Trump himself. Any genuine interest in objective reality left the building a while ago, replaced by a self-sustaining fantasyland. If it’s hard to understand how roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — a fact that is glaringly obvious to everyone else, including the nation’s intelligence community and Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson — remember that a majority of the same people continue to believe that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

There was a time not too long ago when Republicans in Congress seemed genuinely interested in protecting Mr. Mueller — who, it bears noting, was originally appointed to head the F.B.I. by George W. Bush and who was named special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, also a Bush appointee. But Fox’s alt-reality vortex has sucked in previously levelheaded members of the G.O.P. like Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who said as recently as October that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Mr. Trump tried to fire Mr. Mueller. Last Friday, Mr. Graham tweeted in support of “a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia.” On Monday night, according to Axios, Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, called for a special prosecutor to investigate … the special prosecutor. The tipping point? An article on Fox News’s website about a top Justice Department official’s wife and her work for Fusion GPS, the research firm behind the so-called Steele dossier.

None of these attacks or insinuations are grounded in good faith. The anti-Mueller brigade cares not a whit about possible bias in the Justice Department or the F.B.I. It simply wants the investigation shut down out of a fear of what it might reveal. But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/opinion/fox-news-robert-mueller.html

8. Timothy Egan:Trumpocalypse: The End Game

You can see where this is headed, the once bright and shiny democracy going down the drain before the holidays are out. The Russians, the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his agents, desperate men flipped and singing to save their souls — all may soon be gone, by President Trump’s design.

If there’s any outrage left in the tank, use it now, because Trump has signaled exactly what he’s going to do. First, he had to set some brush fires, impugning the legitimacy of the rule of law — an old dictator’s trick. Trump is no Hitler, but when the German Reichstag burned in 1933, it was all the Nazis needed to gut civil liberties.

So, before Trump can fire the prosecutor who is hot on the corruption trail of those in the president’s inner circle, he needs a pretext. He could just work his way down the line at the Justice Department, until he found a quisling willing to remove the special counsel. But before he gets to that, he has to delegitimize the whole investigation.

Thus, he’s now attacking the F.B.I., saying the agency is in “Tatters” and its standing “the worst in History.” Bashing cops — wasn’t that what those Black Lives Matter people did to disrespect Blue Lives? https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/08/opinion/trumpocalypse-russia-democracy-.html

9. Max Boot: America Is Heading for an Unprecedented Constitutional Crisis

White House lawyer Ty Cobb has been attempting to keep the First Client in check by telling him that Robert Mueller’s investigation will soon be over and result in his exoneration. Back in August, Cobb was confident that it would all be over by Thanksgiving. When that didn’t happen, Cobb, like a millenarian cultist adjusting the date of doomsday, claimed that it would end by Christmas. Now Christmas is almost upon us, and no light is visible at the end of the tunnel. Far from it. The investigation, which has already resulted in two indictments and two guilty pleas of Trump advisors, appears to be accelerating and drawing ever closer to the Oval Office.

What will Trump’s reaction be when he figures out he’s been duped — and that the Mueller probe, far from a “nothing burger,” is a carafe of strychnine that poses an existential threat to his presidency? The likely result is that Trump will either pardon everyone involved or try to fire the special counsel, or both. And then the nation will be plunged into a constitutional crisis the likes of which we have not seen since Watergate. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/12/11/america-is-heading-for-an-unprecedented-constitutional-crisis/

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