October 19th, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....


“It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” — Trump in an Oval Office appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Democrats are on the cusp of where they need to be to take the House back… Everything we’re seeing now is a mirror image of 2009.” -- Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, who reviews House races district by district.

Said Cruz: “If tax reform crashes and burns, if on Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath.” -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) warning that Republicans could face a “Watergate-level blowout” in the midterm elections if they don’t make major legislative strides on taxes and health care, the Washington Post reports.

“Obviously, the estate tax, I will concede, disproportionately helps rich people.” -- Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, offered a significant concession about who would benefit the most if the so-called death tax disappears: the rich.

“In the last 10 months we have followed through on one promise after another. I didn’t have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.” — Trump

By the way, why is it he doesn’t put the same tweets when it comes to Texas or Florida? You invaded Puerto Rico. The United States of America invaded Puerto Rico. My uncle participated in the Korean War. We shed blood to defend the freedoms that every American in this country enjoys. So to kick fellow citizens when they are down is shameful.” -- Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) blasting Donald Trump for threatening to end disaster relief for Puerto Rico

“Gonna blow that thing up. Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?” -- Steve Bannon in a speech at the Values Voter Summit.

“It’s classic Trump: bluff and bombast substituting for actual deeds. He’s the political equivalent of the Washington Nationals — a choke artist at critical moments.” -- Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of The National Interest, on the gap between Trump’s ambitious promises and actual policies.

“ This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.” -- San Antonio Spurs’ coach, Gregg Popovich 

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), ]at the 2017 Liberty Medal ceremony.

"Trump’s not just a moron. He’s a despicable human being. And he’s getting crazier. Paranoid. Unhinged. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in sh*t up to our eyeballs with this guy." — A Republican former member of Congress to  Robert Reich’  

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Accepts Larry Flynt’s Ten-Million-Dollar Offer for Information Leading to His Impeachment
2. The DAILY GRILL
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. From the Late Shows
5. Video: Andy Borowitz: The End Of Trump
6. Stepped-up attacks on the press reflect Trump’s bunker mentality
7. Pro sports teams were once reliable patrons of Trump’s hotels. Not anymore.
8. $10 Million for Trump’s Impeachment
9. Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data Gurus
10. Trump Seethes As Advisers Fear The President Is “Unraveling”
11. How Russia’s Propaganda Campaign Exploited America’s Prejudices
12. Trump Makes Puzzling Claim That Rising Stock Market Erases Debt
13. Who Trump attacks the most on Twitter
14. Bushonomics Is Back Because the GOP Has No Other Ideas
15. Inside the ‘adult day-care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump
16. Trump seeks sharp cuts to housing aid, except for program that brings him millions
17. Trump is negotiating like a hostage-taker
18. Late Nite Jokes for Dems

OPINION

1. Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump is acting like a fifth-grade bully
2. Michael Gerson: Republicans, it’s time to panic
3. Amy Davidson Sorkin: Donald Trump’s Terrible Executive Order on Health Care
4. Sarah Kliff: Trump’s acting like Obamacare is just politics. It’s people’s lives.
5. Michael Kruse: The Power of Trump’s Positive Thinking
6. Dan Balz: Trump governs by disruption — and overloads all the circuits
7. Scott D. Sagan: The Korean Missile Crisis
8. Barbara Radnofsky: The Founding Fathers designed impeachment for someone exactly like Donald Trump
9. Charles M. Blow: Trump, Chieftain of Spite
10. Evan Osnos: Trump’s Irrational Hatred of the Iran Deal
11. Michael Scherer: For each scene of his presidency, Trump casts a villain (or two, or three …)
12. Michelle Goldberg: Save the Phony Weinstein Outrage, Republicans
13. Paul Krugman: The G.O.P. Is No Party for Honest Men
14. Jack Shafer: Trump’s Fake Jihad Against the Fake News

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Accepts Larry Flynt’s Ten-Million-Dollar Offer for Information Leading to His Impeachment

Just minutes after the publisher Larry Flynt offered ten million dollars in exchange for information leading to Donald Trump’s impeachment, Trump contacted Flynt and said that he would gladly provide the information himself in exchange for the cash.

Robert Mueller, the independent counsel investigating Trump’s ties to Russia, expressed some sadness that he was not able to bring his probe to a conclusion. “I don’t know what evidence Trump had against himself, but I guarantee you I had more,” he said.

Meanwhile, the success of Flynt’s cash offer appears to have only emboldened the publisher, who announced that he is now offering twenty million dollars for information leading to the impeachment of Mike Pence.

ELSEWHERE: Robert Mueller is renting a massive warehouse facility in suburban Virginia to accommodate the approximately forty cubic tons of evidence against Donald Trump that the independent counsel’s investigation is generating on a daily basis.

Employing over two thousand workers in a warehouse the size of seven football fields, the Mueller investigation has become the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ELSEWHERE 2: Hinting darkly that "there's something going on," Donald J. Trump complained on Friday that he has been treated "very unfairly" by the people who wrote the United States Constitution.

In an ominous warning, Trump said that, as of Friday, he was putting the writers of the U.S. Constitution "on notice."

"I don't have their names yet, but that's something I'm looking into," he said. "These jokers are not going to get away with this."

ELSEWHERE 3: Former President Barack Obama has started calling every person in America to offer consolation about Donald Trump being President, Obama has confirmed.

Carol Foyler, who has been grieving since Trump was elected, last November, said that receiving a call from Obama on Monday “meant a lot.”

“The fact that he took the time to call me, when he had three hundred million more people left to call, is something I’ll never forget,” she said. Read more at https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. The DAILY GRILL

-- With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

-- Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Mr. President: Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment? -- Ben Sasse @BenSasse (R-WI)

Very proud of my Executive Order which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for HealthCare. Millions of people benefit! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

The CBO projected in August that cutting off CSRs would increase the federal deficit nearly $200 billion between 2017 and 2026, and that individuals whose care depended on the payments could see 20 percent higher premiums by 2018, and 25 percent higher premiums by 2020. -- Talking Points Memo


TEXAS: We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

...We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever! -- Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump

 “President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” to the families of fallen service members..” --Trump

VERSUS

This is an outrageous and disrespectful lie even by Trump standards. Also: Obama never attacked a Gold Star family.-- Ben Rhodes‏ @brhodes

 

“I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back and it won’t be pretty.” -- Trump after Sen. McCain questioned Trump's “half-baked, spurious nationalism” in America’s foreign policy,

VERSUS

“I have faced tougher adversaries.” -- McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump.

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

Fox analyst blatantly lies about top military officials who say the Iran deal is working. Top Trump advisers have said in testimony and in interviews that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement and that remaining in the deal is in the national security interest of the United States. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/10/13/fox-analyst-blatantly-lies-about-top-military-officials-who-say-iran-deal-working/218221

Trump ended health care subsidies that made insurance affordable, and Fox & Friends isn’t telling the truth about it. Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments will cause premiums to spike https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/10/13/trump-ended-health-care-subsidies-made-insurance-affordable-and-fox-friends-isn-t-telling-truth/218216

Trump and Hannity unite for prime-time attack on free press. A would-be authoritarian and his chief propagandist lash out at the “fake media” https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/10/11/trump-and-hannity-unite-prime-time-attack-free-press/218203

4. From the Late Shows

Donald Trump Trucker Rally Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/PfVobgfXE34

Kellywise - SNL: https://youtu.be/Hlt3rA-oDao

5. Video: Andy Borowitz: The End Of Trump

Andy Borowitz discusses Nazis, Donald Trump and impeachment, and starting his own movement, élitism. Andy Borowitz notes that the Republicans have gone from Abraham Lincoln, to Sarah Palin to Donald Trump, explaining why they don’t believe in evolution. http://video.newyorker.com/watch/the-new-yorker-festival-andy-borowitz-the-end-of-trump

6. Stepped-up attacks on the press reflect Trump’s bunker mentality

Much will be written about how Trump’s diatribe highlights his lack of respect for the Constitution and the institutions that make America great, including but not limited to the fourth estate, but the comments also add fresh data points to the cementing narrative that the brooding president has become increasingly isolated and angry. Feeling under siege, whether from special counsel Robert Mueller or Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), the president has adopted a bunker mentality that prompts him to lash out at any perceived enemy.”

“Like Elvis shot up his TV, Trump is shooting the messenger because he doesn’t like stories that reflect poorly on his leadership abilities. The conservative base distrusts the mainstream media, so it’s always been politically useful for the president to use the press as a foil. But it’s created a vicious cycle. The more that gets revealed about Trump’s struggles and White House dysfunction, the angrier and more distracted he becomes. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/10/12/daily-202-stepped-up-attacks-on-the-press-reflect-trump-s-bunker-mentality/59de6f3f30fb0468cea81e90/

7. Pro sports teams were once reliable patrons of Trump’s hotels. Not anymore.

The Washington Post found that 17 teams from across the four major sports had stayed at Trump properties in recent years. Now, at least 16 are no longer customers.

“The president has seemingly made a point of dividing us as best he can,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told The Post in an interview this week, explaining the shift. His team quit using Trump SoHo in 2016. “He continually offends people, and so people don’t want to stay at his hotel. It’s pretty simple.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pro-sports-teams-were-once-reliable-patrons-of-trumps-hotels-not-anymore/2017/10/11/113ceb8a-a47c-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html

8. $10 Million for Trump’s Impeachment

Larry Flynt took out an advertisement in the Washington Post offering $10 million for information leading to “the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump.” Read the advertisement at https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/files/2017/10/LarryFlyntAd.pdf

9. Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data Gurus

A data firm backed by some of Donald Trump’s closest allies is now facing scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible collusion between the president’s team and Russian operatives, The Daily Beast has learned.

Cambridge purports to go beyond the typical voter targeting—relying on online clues like Facebook Likes to give a hint at a user’s political leanings and construct a picture of a voter’s mental state. The “psychographic” picture Cambridge ostensibly provides to a campaign is the ability to tailor a specific message based on personality type – angry, fearful, optimistic and so forth – rather than simply aiming ads at voters from likely convivial candidates.

The Kremlin-orchestrated propaganda efforts on Facebook have evinced a level of sophistication surprising for a foreign entity, prompting speculation that Russians may have received some kind of targeting help. Such targeting reached voters in states where Clinton enjoyed a traditional advantage but went for Trump, including Michigan and Wisconsin, CNN reported. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-probe-now-investigating-cambridge-analytica-trumps-psychographic-data-gurus

10. Trump Seethes As Advisers Fear The President Is “Unraveling”

At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/donald-trump-is-unraveling-white-house-advisers

11. How Russia’s Propaganda Campaign Exploited America’s Prejudices

Reporters and analysts have long suspected and, over the past several weeks, confirmed that Russian cyberactors were running propaganda campaigns under the noses of three major tech companies—Facebook, Twitter and Google—during the 2016 elections. Even Microsoft’s Bing network reportedly sold ads to the Russians.

Those interlocking propaganda campaigns didn’t consist of merely stumping for Donald Trump or deriding Hillary Clinton. Instead, most of the ads unearthed thus far appear to have been devoted to reinforcing the American electorate’s own prejudices; that gambit appears terribly obvious and unsubtle in hindsight, as the contents of the ads continue to trickle out in the press. But no one spotted it at the time.

For example, YouTube videos recently uncovered by the Daily Beast feature two black men with African accents calling Clinton an “evildoer” next to a Black Lives Matter logo. One meme posted on a Russian troll-operated Facebook account read—with a dropped article worthy of Boris Badenov—“Why do I have a gun? Because it’s easier for my family to get me out of jail than out of cemetery.”

Facebook has said the Russian-bought ads were probably viewed 10 million times; Columbia University professor Jonathan Albright has suggested that the ads actually were viewed hundreds of millions, and possibly billions, of times. Nevertheless, such examples of ham-handed propaganda likely didn’t raise eyebrows at the time because the function of social media is to affirm its users, said Gordon Borrell, CEO of ad industry analytics firm Borrell Associates. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/how-russian-social-media-posts-exploit-american-prejudices

12. Trump Makes Puzzling Claim That Rising Stock Market Erases Debt

President Trump “suggested that a soaring stock market might be ‘in a sense’ reducing the national debt, a statement that is not true, in any sense,” the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “The country — we took it over and owed over $20 trillion. As you know the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value.”

He added: “So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/us/politics/trump-stock-market-national-debt-fact-check.html

13. Who Trump attacks the most on Twitter

Donald Trump has become infamous for using Twitter to attack people or news agencies that are getting on his nerves — CNN, Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Senators of his own party. For a graphic that shows who POTUS has attacked on Twitter since taking office go to https://www.axios.com/list-of-people-trump-attacked-on-twitter-since-becoming-president-2484429964.html

14. Bushonomics Is Back Because the GOP Has No Other Ideas

The last time Republicans had control of government, they explained that cutting taxes would not get in the way of fiscal responsibility. Not only would tax cuts produce faster growth, they argued, they would also force Congress to restrain spending. Their strategy utterly failed. Not only did the tax cuts fail to produce higher growth, they also failed to encourage spending restraint…

And so there they are, back to the exact same policy they tried in 2001: Pass a huge tax cut and hope somehow it leads to cutting spending. That this policy is now being carried out by the same people who rose to power by denouncing the failure of the exact same policy last time tells you everything you need to know about the state of economic policy thought in the Republican Party now. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/10/bushonomics-is-back-because-the-gop-has-no-other-ideas.html

15. Inside the ‘adult day-care center’: How aides try to control and coerce Trump

When Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) described the White House as ‘an adult day-care center’ on Twitter last week, he gave voice to a certain Trumpian truth: The president is often impulsive, impetuous and difficult to manage, leading those around him to find creative ways to channel his energies.

Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-adult-day-care-center-how-aides-try-to-control-and-coerce-trump/2017/10/15/810b4296-b03d-11e7-99c6-46bdf7f6f8ba_story.html

16. Trump seeks sharp cuts to housing aid, except for program that brings him millions

President Trump’s budget calls for sharply reducing funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness — with a notable exception: It leaves intact a type of federal housing subsidy that is paid directly to private landlords.

One of those landlords is Trump himself, who earns millions of dollars each year as a part-owner of Starrett City, the nation’s largest subsidized housing complex. Trump’s 4 percent stake in the Brooklyn complex earned him at least $5 million between January of last year and April 15, according to his recent financial disclosure. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/trump-seeks-sharp-cuts-to-housing-aid-except-for-program-that-brings-him-millions/2017/06/20/bf1fb2b8-5531-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html

17. Trump is negotiating like a hostage-taker

As a candidate, Donald Trump sold himself as a deal maker. As president, he's governing more as a hostage taker.

Across an array of domestic and foreign challenges, Trump's go-to move has become to create what amounts to a political hostage situation. He's either terminating, or threatening to terminate, a series of domestic and international policies adopted by earlier administrations -- and insisting that others grant him concessions to change his mind. http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/17/politics/donald-trump-negotiating-strategy/index.html

18. Late Nite Jokes for Dems

Following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, President Trump tweeted this morning that the White House cannot keep FEMA, the military, and first responders in Puerto Rico forever. Forever? It’s been three weeks! That’s like saying you worked with Scaramucci forever. -- Seth Meyers

What’s your hurry? We still have troops in Germany! What are they doing, checking Hitler’s pulse? Look, we can afford to keep troops in Puerto Rico until long after you’ve left the White House. Maybe even until Christmas. -- Seth Meyers

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly gave the daily press briefing today, and said his job is not to control President Trump — it’s to FIND President Trump. “Donald, where are you? Time to run the country, big guy. Donald?” -- Seth Meyers

During the press briefing today, John Kelly said that President Trump’s tweets don’t make his job more difficult. Really? Because they’re making mine impossible. Do you have any idea what I would give to be making a Hillary Clinton pantsuit joke right now? -- Seth Meyers

For the last 24 hours, Donald Trump has been the president of busy town. This morning, he signed an executive order to get rid of some key provisions of Obamacare. For instance, the care part. -- Stephen Colbert

Trump made a big show of it in the White House, gathered a bunch of people in there, invited the media, bragged about how great it was gonna be. Then came the big moment, the signing. [clip of Trump leaving podium without signing] He forgot to sign the order! That is troubling. At the signing, he forgot to do the signing. But, on the plus side, let’s hope he forgets the launch codes. -- Stephen Colbert

President Trump this morning got to work doing the damage the asteroid that passed by the Earth couldn’t. Today he signed an executive order that threatens to cripple the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. He tweeted, “Since Congress can’t get its act together on healthcare, I’ll be using the power of the pen to give great healthcare to many people fast.” This is big — usually when Trump uses the power of the pen, it’s to declare bankruptcy. -- Jimmy Kimmel

An explosive new article about the White House in Vanity Fair magazine says according to staffers, Donald Trump is actually moodier and more erratic every day, and recently confided in one White House aide, “I hate everyone in the White House. There are a few exceptions but I hate them.” Is this guy the president of the United States or a cast member on “Big Brother?” -- James Corden

In the article, aides who are close to Donald Trump describe him as “unstable,” “losing a step” and “unraveling.” Meanwhile those of us NOT close to Donald Trump are like, “Yep, I’ve used those words too.” -- James Corden

Trump is basically like an old Christmas sweater. He’s unraveling and you have to pretend you like him in front of your grandmother. -- James Corden

A big story right now is this Vanity Fair article about the White House. They say that Trump’s becoming unhinged, and that he recently shouted, “I hate everyone in the White House!” But later, he clarified his remarks, saying, “Except for me. I still like me a lot.” -- Jimmy Fallon

Yeah, Trump apparently had an outburst and yelled, “I hate everyone in the White House!” When Mike Pence tried to calm him down, Trump said, “Go away! You’re not even my REAL dad!” -- Jimmy Fallon

OPINION

1.  Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump is acting like a fifth-grade bully

There was also some sense -- among his supporters and even those who didn't vote for him and couldn't even imagine him becoming president -- that once the gravity of the office hit him, he might change. There was some thinking -- occasionally stoked by Trump himself -- that he was only acting like this because it was how he had to win the campaign. Once he was elected president, everything would change.

"I will be so presidential, you will be so bored," Trump promised in April 2016. "You'll say, 'Can't he have a little more energy?'"

Trump didn't change. If anything, he has become more of a name-calling bully than he was in the campaign. (Side bar: How many 71-year-old men fundamentally change their personality? If you answered "none," you got it right!)

Including his ongoing fight with Corker, Trump has insulted or personally impugned well more than a dozen Republican senators. That's stunning given that Republicans only have a two-seat majority in the Senate and, as the health care fight showed, have almost no margin for error on anything but the most benign pieces of legislation.

That's a very bad thing -- whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or don't care about politics at all. http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/10/politics/trump-corker-liddle/index.html

2. Michael Gerson: Republicans, it’s time to panic

GOP denial about Trump has generally taken Ryan’s form. The president may be eccentric and divisive, but Republicans need to keep their heads down and think of tax reform. This assumes that the main challenge is to avoid distraction from essential tasks.”

But the real problem has always been Trump’s fundamental unfitness for high office. It is not Trump’s indiscipline and lack of leadership, which make carrying a legislative agenda forward nearly impossible. It is not his vulgarity and smallness, which have been the equivalent of spray-painting graffiti on the Washington Monument. It is not his nearly complete ignorance of policy and history, which condemns him to live in the eternal present of his own immediate desires.”

No, Corker has given public permission to raise the most serious questions: Is Trump psychologically and morally equipped to be president? And could his unfitness cause permanent damage to the country? https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-its-time-to-panic/2017/10/12/5775d558-af76-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

3. Amy Davidson Sorkin: Donald Trump’s Terrible Executive Order on Health Care

The most Trumpian aspect of Trump's executive order designed to push people into what are known, accurately, as “junk” insurance plans is that it makes life easier for con men. It does so by allowing the sale of insurance plans that do not meet basic standards through “associations,” which might be made up of employers, interest groups, or just entrepreneurial opportunists—the exact rules still have to be written. Obamacare plans offer certain defined essential services, such as preventive and obstetric care and hospitalization, that an insurance plan has to cover, and cover substantially, to call itself an insurance plan. In other words, the A.C.A. made it harder for employers or insurers to claim that they were covering people if, when it counted, they really weren’t. (Such a bait and switch was common in the pre-Obamacare days; many people who went bankrupt after a medical emergency actually had insurance plans.) The executive order would create a sham market alongside the real one. One concern is that young, healthy people will be drawn to association plans because they don’t “need” comprehensive coverage, and are making what they believe is a rational calculation, albeit one that will drive up premiums in the Obamacare market, by making that pool of people, on average, sicker and older. (Paul Ryan, who has complained that it is unfair that healthy people help pay for sick people—the premise of insurance—is an association-plan enthusiast.)

In presenting the plan at the executive-order signing, Trump did his best impression of a flim-flam man—that is to say, he was entirely in character. The guests included members of his Administration, some small-business representatives, and Senator Rand Paul, who believed that the Senate’s last attempt to break Obamacare was not radical enough. Trump didn’t have many details other than the promise that a “nightmare” was over, that millions of people would be “very happy,” and that the whole thing would produce better plans at no expense whatsoever to the government. “That’s not too bad, right?” he said. https://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson-sorkin/donald-trumps-terrible-executive-order-on-health-care

4.  Sarah Kliff: Trump’s acting like Obamacare is just politics. It’s people’s lives.

DThe White House announced late Thursday morning it would cut off a key Obamacare subsidy that makes copayments and deductibles more affordable for low-income Americans. Trump pulled the trigger on the plan late Thursday night.

There is no question that this new policy is lose-lose-lose for key stakeholders with no upside:

It will raise Obamacare premiums by an estimated 20 percent in 2018, as health plans have to charge more to make up the lost funds. By 2020, premiums would increase 25 percent due to this change.

Pulling the plug actually increases the national deficit. As those insurance plans make double-digit rate increases, the government will have to spend billions more on the other subsidies that 10 million Americans receive to purchase that coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this move will ultimately cost the government $194 billion over the next decade.

The number of uninsured Americans would rise by one million people in 2018, in the CBO’s estimate.

Insurance companies lose out, too, particularly those that assumed Trump would pay these subsidies and set their premiums accordingly. They now stand to face significant financial loses on the Obamacare marketplaces.

To recap: Trump is enacting a policy where the government spends billions more to insure fewer people.

Trump has long predicted the implosion of the Affordable Care Act. It’s now become clear he plans to use the White House to tear down his predecessor rather than to help the people who voted him into office. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/13/16467910/trump-obamacare-politics-aca

5. Michael Kruse: The Power of Trump’s Positive Thinking

Donald Trump is a self-help apostle. He always has tried to create his own reality by saying what he wants to be true. Where many see failure, Trump sees only success, and expresses it out loud, again and again.

“We have the votes” to pass a new health care bill, he said last month even though he and Republicans didn’t then and still don’t.

“We get an A-plus,” he said last week of his and his administration’s response to the devastating recent hurricanes as others doled out withering reviews.

“I’ve had just about the most legislation passed of any president, in a nine-month period, that’s ever served,” he said this week in an interview with Forbes, contradicting objective metrics and repeating his frequent and dubious assertion of unprecedented success throughout the first year of his first term as president.

The reality is that Trump is in a rut. His legislative agenda is floundering. His approval ratings are historically low. He’s raging privately while engaging in noisy, internecine squabbles. He’s increasingly isolated. And yet his fact-flouting declarations of positivity continue unabated. For Trump, though, these statements are not issues of right or wrong or true or false. They are something much more elemental. They are a direct result of the closest thing the stubborn, ideologically malleable celebrity businessman turned most powerful person on the planet has ever had to a devout religious faith. This is not his mother’s flinty Scottish Presbyterianism but Norman Vincent Peale’s “power of positive thinking,” the utterly American belief in self above all else and the conviction that thoughts can be causative, that basic assertion can lead to actual achievement. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/13/donald-trump-positive-thinking-215704

6. Dan Balz: Trump governs by disruption — and overloads all the circuits

Nine months into his first term, President Trump is perfecting a style of leadership commensurate with his campaign promise to disrupt business as usual in Washington. Call it governing by cattle prod.

It is a tactic born of frustration and dissatisfaction. Its impact has been to overload the circuits of government — from Capitol Hill to the White House to the Pentagon to the State Department and beyond. In the face of his own unhappiness, the president is trying to raise the pain level wherever he can.

The permanent campaign has long been a staple of politics in this country, the idea that running for office never stops and that decisions are shaped by what will help one candidate or another, one party or another, win the next election.

President Trump has raised this to a high and at times destructive art. He cares about ratings, praise and success. Absent demonstrable achievements, he reverts to what worked during the campaign, which is to depend on his own instincts and to touch the hot buttons that roused his voters in 2016. As president, he has never tried seriously to reach beyond that base. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-governs-by-disruption--and-overloads-all-the-circuits/2017/10/14/d28df604-b100-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

7. Scott D. Sagan: The Korean Missile Crisis

It is time for the U.S. government to admit that it has failed to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. North Korea no longer poses a nonproliferation problem; it poses a nuclear deterrence problem. The gravest danger now is that North Korea, South Korea, and the United States will stumble into a catastrophic war that none of them wants.

The world has traveled down this perilous path before. In 1950, the Truman administration contemplated a preventive strike to keep the Soviet Union from acquiring nuclear weapons but decided that the resulting conflict would resemble World War II in scope and that containment and deterrence were better options. In the 1960s, the Kennedy administration feared that Chinese leader Mao Zedong was mentally unstable and proposed a joint strike against the nascent Chinese nuclear program to the Soviets. (Moscow rejected the idea.) Ultimately, the United States learned to live with a nuclear Russia and a nuclear China. It can now learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.

Doing so will not be risk free, however. Accidents, misperceptions, and volatile leaders could all too easily cause disaster. The Cold War offers important lessons in how to reduce these risks by practicing containment and deterrence wisely. But officials in the Pentagon and the White House face a new and unprecedented challenge: they must deter North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while also preventing U.S. President Donald Trump from bumbling into war. U.S. military leaders should make plain to their political superiors and the American public that any U.S. first strike on North Korea would result in a devastating loss of American and South Korean lives. And civilian leaders must convince Kim that the United States will not attempt to overthrow his regime unless he begins a war. If the U.S. civilian and military leaderships perform these tasks well, the same approach that prevented nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War can deter Pyongyang until the day that communist North Korea, like the Soviet Union before it, collapses under its own weight. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-korea/2017-09-10/korean-missile-crisis

8. Barbara Radnofsky: The Founding Fathers designed impeachment for someone exactly like Donald Trump

Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — “Mad” King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about.

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

But prescient as they were, what the framers may not have anticipated was someone who epitomized so many of their fears at once — someone like Donald Trump — being elected to the presidency in the first place. They hoped that the electoral college system would prevent that from happening. But in the event that didn’t happen, they added an additional fail-safe: impeachment. It’s now up to Congress to fulfill the framers’ vision. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/10/15/the-founding-fathers-designed-impeachment-for-someone-exactly-like-donald-trump/

9. Charles M. Blow: Trump, Chieftain of Spite

It must be cold and miserable standing in the shadow of someone greater and smarter, more loved and more admired. It must be infuriating to have risen on the wings of your derision of that person’s every decision, and even his very existence, and yet not be able to measure up — in either stratagem or efficacy — when you sit where that person once sat.

This is the existence of Donald Trump in the wake of President Barack Obama. Trump can’t hold a candle to Obama, so he’s taking a tiki torch to Obama’s legacy. Trump can’t get his bad ideas through Congress, but he can use the power of the presidency to sabotage or even sink Obama’s signature deeds.

In fact, if there is a defining feature of Trump as “president,” it is that he is in all ways the anti-Obama — not only on policy but also on matters of propriety and polish. While Obama was erudite, Trump is ignorant. Obama was civil, Trump is churlish. Obama was tactful, Trump is tacky.

There is a thing present in Obama and absent from Trump that no amount of money or power can alter: a sense of elegant intellectualism and taste.

Trump isn’t governing with a vision, he’s governing out of spite. Obama’s effectiveness highlights Trump’s ineptitude, and this incenses Trump. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/opinion/columnists/trump-spite-obama-legacy.html

10. Evan Osnos: Trump’s Irrational Hatred of the Iran Deal

Long before Donald Trump was mocking “Little Rocket Man” in North Korea, or taunting “fools” in the Republican foreign-policy establishment, he expressed special contempt for one international agreement: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which blocked Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. After the Obama Administration signed the agreement, in 2015, then candidate Trump called it “the worst deal ever,” and vowed to “renegotiate” it once he was in office. In fact, the landmark agreement capitalized on a rare consensus. After years of hesitating, China and Russia joined the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, along with Germany and the European Union, in supporting American pressure on Iran to change course. At a negotiating session in Vienna, the coalition was so large that, for appearance’s sake, Iran stocked its side of the table with additional staffers. Jake Sullivan, one of the U.S. negotiators, recalled, “It was the whole world versus Iran.”

The deal did not change all of Iran’s bad behavior: Tehran continued to test conventional ballistic missiles, to foment violence in Iraq and Syria, and to unjustly detain Americans. But the effect on its nuclear program was unquestionable. In return for the removal of sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations, which had crippled its economy, Iran agreed to shut down facilities and to give broad access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even fierce critics of Tehran, including U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, have held the agreement to be vital to international security. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign-affairs chief, were widely mentioned as contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Decertifying the Iran agreement would fracture the United States’ credibility among its original partners in the deal. It would open a rift with China just as it is weighing whether to join the United States again, this time in negotiating with North Korea. Global Times, a state-backed Chinese newspaper, has asked, “If America would overturn a pact it made to the rest of the world, solely because of a transition in government, how can it retain the reputation of a great power?” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/23/trumps-irrational-hatred-of-the-iran-deal

11. Michael Scherer: For each scene of his presidency, Trump casts a villain (or two, or three …)

Most days bring another round, often at dawn, like plot points in a 24-7 miniseries. In just the past few weeks, Trump has started, without any clear provocation, fights with football players who kneel during the national anthem, department stores that declare “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and late-night television hosts for their “unfunny and repetitive material.”

Then there are the individual targets: Clinton, of course, but also “Liddle” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and a shifting array of reporters, newspapers and networks he labels as the “fake news.”

Although the targets often appear tangential, if not contradictory, to his governing priorities, both the president and his senior aides see them as central to his political strategy. In each instance, the combat allows Trump to underline for his core supporters the populist promise of his election: to challenge the power of political elites and those who have unfairly benefited from their “politically correct” vision.

It’s a tactic he has employed for years — defining himself against a negative space, as a tough truth teller who opposes others. In 1990, he condemned his New York real estate rival, Leona Helmsley, as a “truly evil human being,” and decades later he spent years nursing a viciously personal feud with Rosie O’Donnell, a daytime television host, largely through social media. His rise to politics was built upon sometimes shocking denunciations and insults.

Without a fresh foe to rail against in real time, his political aides have observed, Trump can struggle, uncertain of his next move and unable to frame the political debate. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-each-scene-of-his-presidency-trump-casts-a-villain-or-two-or-three-/2017/10/16/d29d2330-b287-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html

12. Michelle Goldberg: Save the Phony Weinstein Outrage, Republicans

Say this for Donald Trump: When it comes to sex, he’s less of a hypocrite than Harvey Weinstein. Until Weinstein’s abrupt downfall amid proliferating accusations of sexual assault and harassment, he posed as a backer of women’s rights. He made films with substantive female leads (82-year-old Judi Dench joked that she’d tattooed his name on her butt in gratitude), donated money to politicians supporting feminist policies and contributed to endow a chair at Rutgers University honoring Gloria Steinem. He even attended the Women’s March at Sundance. Yet privately, he appears to have been a sexist ogre, using his power to exploit and humiliate women. After the truth about his conduct was widely revealed, he was cast out of his professional community and rendered a pariah.

Trump is more consistent. He is a pig in public as well as behind closed doors. In 1992, New York Magazine reported that he said the best way to deal with women is to treat them like excrement, though he used a more vulgar term. He has followed his own advice. His first wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of raping her in a fit of rage. (She later denied that the events she’d recounted were rape “in a literal or criminal sense,” but stuck to the underlying story.) Trump reportedly pressured his second wife, Marla Maples, to pose for Playboy. He owned beauty pageants and, by his own admission, would barge into changing rooms to ogle the naked contestants. The makeup artist Jill Harth said that he tried to rape her. Multiple women have accused him of groping and sexual harassment. Those charges appear credible in light of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasted of grabbing women by their genitals. After the truth about his conduct was widely revealed, he was elected president of the United States. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/opinion/columnists/weinstein-sexual-harassment-republicans.html

13. Paul Krugman: The G.O.P. Is No Party for Honest Men

So the question about this plan isn’t whether it favors the wealthy — it does, to an outrageous extent. The questions we should be asking instead are why Republicans are pushing this so hard, and how they can hope to get away with it.

The Republicans have been lying to the middle-class since the days of Regan. They know of no other way to govern. Now we have the real lair...

Bear in mind that there is essentially no popular constituency demanding tax cuts for the rich. By a large margin, the general public wants to see taxes on corporations and the wealthy go up, not down; even Republicans are divided, with only a modest margin in favor of cuts.

Yet tax cuts for the rich are the overriding objective of the modern G.O.P. They were the principal motivation for the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, since that would also mean repealing the high-income taxes that pay for it; from Republicans’ point of view, depriving millions of health care was just a minor side benefit. And now tax cuts for the wealthy are pretty much the only thing left on the G.O.P.’s legislative agenda.

In fact, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the hope for tax cuts is the main thing keeping congressional Republicans in line behind Donald Trump. They know he’s unfit for office, and many worry about his mental stability. But they’ll back him as long as they think he might get those tax cuts through.
Newsletter Sign Up. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/opinion/columnists/republicans-taxes-honesty.html

14. Jack Shafer: Trump’s Fake Jihad Against the Fake News

Ever since Democrats started complaining about the rise of genuinely fake fake news after the election, Trump hasn’t stopped throwing around the term. In December, he began accusing all the top media news outlets—except Fox News Channel, that is—of promulgating fake news. In this revised formulation, fake news was anything Trump didn’t like, anything that made him look bad, anything that threatened him personally or politically, or anything that contradicted him. Unflattering leaks from the intelligence community got the fake news stamp, as did reports connecting him or his campaign to Russia. Critical stories about Ivanka and Donald Jr. fell into the category, too. Anonymously sourced tales about White House chaos? FAKE! Campaign aides taking credit for his electoral victory? Puerto Rico rescue efforts a shambles? Fake, fake. Whenever he failed to find a specific news story to misdiagnose, he can always be relied upon to issue his rat-a-tat condemnation of CNN as fake, fake, fake.

The trouble with Trump’s blanket condemnation of fake news is that it has a few holes in it. It’s not fake news if he likes it or if it delivers findings that damage somebody else. When he needs to make a point, he thinks nothing of favorably citing pieces from news outlets he has repeatedly nailed as “fake.” For instance, when asked earlier this month about the Harvey Weinstein sex harassment scandal—a subject area in which Trump has more than a little exposure—he came close to endorsing the New York Times investigation. “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it,” he said to reporters while leaving the White House for a fundraiser. How about similar groping charges against him? Trump backpedaled with his “That’s locker room, that’s locker room” excuse. Donald Jr. was in lockstep with his dad, validating the Times story in a series of tweets.

Like demagogues before him, Trump relies on the ignorance of the crowd, which makes exciting their passions and short-circuiting their powers of reason a simple task. Like a comedian’s catch phrase, the charge of “fake news” brings down the house every time Trump utters it, making irrelevant the fact that his views on fake news are fake—very fake. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/17/trumps-jihad-fake-news-215722

 

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