May 11th, 2017

Bookmark: http://www.directzine4dems.com

Please forward this eZine to your like-minded friends!

To subscribe to this weekly free eZine email jellison3@me.com with "subscribe" as the subject.

ON THE RECORD.....

“The irony of Comey firing is that the man who helped make Trump president was the one guy who might well have also brought him down.” -- Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign’s national press secretary and a former Justice Department spokesman. 5/09/17

Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation.”-- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) 5/09/17

The White House counsel was described yesterday as being told that his national security adviser was subject to blackmail by the Russians, and they fired the attorney general a few days later. Now they’ve fired the FBI director. I mean, what kind of country is this?” -- CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin 5/09/17

“Somewhere Dick Nixon is smiling.” — Trump confidant Roger Stone on the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

“Hey GOP, don’t ever lecture us again on fiscal responsibility. You’re about to reorder 1/6 of the US economy with no idea what it costs.” — Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Twitter.

#Trumpcare has never been about health care. It serves only as an excuse for a massive tax cut for the rich. -- Nancy Pelosi✔@NancyPelosi

Trump administration has requested that all FDA television monitors at the FDA Headquarters’ at the White Oak Campus show only Fox News. -- An email to employees the FDA

“You have every provision of this bill tattooed on your forehead. You will glow in the dark.” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) about Republicans who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“How am I doing? Am I doing okay? I’m president. Hey, I’m president. Can you believe it?”— Trump at a Rose Garden victory lap that was unusually elaborate for a bill still so far from becoming law.

“Explain that to me.” -- Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) when told by a Buffalo News reporter that his state's largest loss of federal funds under the bill would be $3 billion annually that goes to the state's Essential Health Plan that provides low-cost health insurance to lower-income residents who don't qualify for Medicaid.

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” — Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) during a town hall meeting defending his vote on the GOP health care bill.

“Let’s get this f**king thing done!” — Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in a House GOP conference meeting before the health care vote.

“I offered each of them the lead spot on this show this morning, to the one-on-one with me, to explain why they voted for the bill. And not a single one agreed … all those names.” -- MSNBC host Joy Reid who invited the 217 House Republicans who voted in favor of the GOP’s bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare to come on her program.

'Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.' -- Eric Trump when asked by James Dodson “who’s funding” your golf courses.

“What does it matter to the Justice Department if one White House official lies to another?” -- White House Counsel Donald McGahn when informed by Acting AG Sally Yates that Gen. Flynn had lied about his contacts with Russian officials to the vice president making him susceptible to blackmail. 5.08.17

"The public wants every dime they can be given. Let's face it, once you get them on the dole, they'll take every dime they can. We've got to find some way of getting things under control or this country and your future is going to be gone." -- Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch about the 212,400 Utahnswho stand to lose health coverage under Trumpcare. May 9, 2017


IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Supporters Celebrate Imminent Loss Of Their Health Insurance
2. GOP's Obamacare replacement bill would protect just 5 percent of people with pre-existing conditions
3. Days Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for Money for Russia Investigation
4. Trump Was Enraged by Russia Investigation5. GOP health care bill hurts Trump voters the most
5. GOP health care bill hurts Trump voters the most
6. Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748
)7. The DAILY GRILL
8. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
9. From the Late Shows
10. Flashback
11. Cook Political Report: House 2018: Rating Changes in 20 Districts
12. Wealthy Would Get Billions in Tax Cuts Under Obamacare Repeal Plan
13. California Republicans Tip The Balance On O’care Repeal Vote
14. Mark Fiore: Trump Branded Solutions
15. Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Majority Say Republicans Should Make The Current Health Care Law Work
16. Republicans Now Own Health Care
17. Kushner’s Sister Offered Visas to Chinese Investors
18. House Republicans Go Off a Cliff
19. Late Nite Jokes
20. Trump's multiple residences, large jet-setting family and commuter marriage drive up first family travel and protection costs

OPINION

1. Julian Zelizer: Comey's firing was Trump's nuclear option on Russia probe
2. John Cassidy:: An Attack on American Democracy
3. Peter Baker: Echoes of Watergate
4. James Avlon: Trumpistan Turns on James Comey
5. David Leonhardt: Donald Trump Is Lying Again, Now About James Comey
6. Jonathan Chait: President Trump Fired James Comey Because the Government Works for Donald Trump
7. Jay Michaelson: Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order Is a Triumph of Fake News
8. Jonathan Chait: The GOP Health-Care Bill Is an Abdication of Responsibility and a Moral Disgrace
9. Defunding Planned Parenthood is just one of the attacks on women’s health in the GOP’s repeal bill
10. Psychologist John Gartner: Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is toxic: Psychologist
11. NY Times Editorial: The Trumpcare Disaster
12. Peter Suderman: The House Health Care Disaster Is Really About Taxes
13. Maureen Dowd: Trump: Hazardous to Our Health
14. Margaret Carlson: ‘Hey, I’m President!’—Donald Trump’s All-Madness, No-Method Administration
15. Paul Krugman: Republicans Party Like It’s 1984
16. John Cassidy: Donald Trump’s Firing Of James Comey Is An Attack On American Democracy

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Supporters Celebrate Imminent Loss Of Their Health Insurance

Moments after House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, millions of Trump supporters celebrated the imminent loss of their health insurance.

From coast to coast, Americans who cast their votes for Donald J. Trump expressed jubilation at finally being relieved of the burden of being insured in the event of catastrophic illness.

“Ever since President Trump was inaugurated, I’ve been counting the days for him to take away my health insurance,” Carol Foyler, a Trump supporter in Houston, said. “Today I just want to say thank you, Mr. President, for keeping your promise.”

“Knowing that Trump could take away my Obamacare makes me feel super optimistic about what he’s capable of,” Tracy Klugian, of Columbus, Ohio, said. “I can’t wait until he gets rid of my Medicare.” http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. GOP's Obamacare replacement bill would protect just 5 percent of people with pre-existing conditions

The Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare does not allocate nearly enough money to protect people with pre-existing health conditions from potentially higher insurance premiums, an analysis finds.

The bill's $23 billion in funding specifically for such people would cover just 110,000 Americans, according to the Avalere Health study released Thursday.

That's only 5 percent of the 2.2 million current enrollees in the individual insurance market with some type of pre-existing chronic condition. May 4, 2017 http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/04/gops-obamacare-replacement-bill-would-protect-just-5-percent-of-people-with-pre-existing-conditions-analysis.html

3. Days Before He Was Fired, Comey Asked for Money for Russia Investigation

Days before he was fired, James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election,.

Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of the F.B.I. director this week.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/us/politics/comey-russia-investigation-fbi.html?_r=0

4. Trump Was Enraged by Russia Investigation

President Donald Trump “weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters,” Politico reports.

He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said. May 10, 2017 http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/10/comey-firing-trump-russia-238192

5. GOP health care bill hurts Trump voters the most

The Republican bill to repeal Obamacare is an unpopular disaster. And it turns out the very people who voted for Donald Trump could suffer the most if it becomes law.

The repeal bill removes the current ban on excluding patients with pre-existing conditions from health insurance coverage, one of the most popular provisions of Obamacare. A new CNN analysis finds that of the states most affected by this new bill, the top 11 — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia — all voted for Trump in the 2016 election. http://shareblue.com/gop-health-care-bill-hurts-trump-voters-the-most/

6. Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748)

While states with no change to voter identification laws witnessed an average increased turnout of +1.3% from 2012 to 2016, Wisconsin’s turnout (where voter ID laws changed to strict) dropped by -3.3%. If turnout had instead increased by the national- no-change average, we estimate that over 200,000 more voters would have voted in Wisconsin in 2016. For context, Clinton lost to Trump in Wisconsin by only 20,000 votes. https://www.scribd.com/document/347821649/Priorities-USA-Voter-Suppression-Memo

7. The DAILY GRILL

“... the fact of the matter is, the bill that went through the House yesterday is one that will provide coverage for every single American, and it’ll do so in a way that allows them to select the kind of coverage that they want.” -- HHS Secretary Tom Price

VERSUS

Far from providing coverage for every American, the AHCA would result in upwards of 24 million Americans losing their health insurance because of premium increases and the bill’s $880 billion Medicaid cut. And Price’s remark about being able to “select the kind of coverage that they want” is code for the bill’s provision allowing states to sell insurance plans that don’t cover services currently mandated in every plan under the ACA, such as maternity care and hospitalizations. -- Aaron Rupar for Think Progress

 

“Obama has every right to give speeches to whomever he chooses at the going market rate. But, there is no way to pretend that taking this kind of money from people that he and his party paint as evil is anything but hypocritical.-- Tim Morris, an opinions columnist at NOLA.com

VERSUS

Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he and Michelle Obama would personally donate $2 million to support summer jobs for Chicago young people this year. --

 

People in the State of Virginia, they voted for you not your staff and there were protesters there who said Obamacare saved their life. What do you say to that? -- MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle MAY 4, 2017

VERSUS

I would wager based on the locality that that particular event occurred in, I wasn’t there, that none of those people did vote for me. -- Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA) MAY 4, 2017

 


On Oct. 28, just days before the presidential election and before they had been examined properly by investigators FBI Director James Comey alleged the Clinton aide had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton’s emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner, to be printed out, a move Comey said forced the FBI to renew its investigation. 5/08/17

VERSUS

Sources cited by ProPublica said Comey’s claims were inaccurate and that Abedin had sent only a handful of emails to Weiner, none of which carried “classified” labels. Officials cited by ProPublica said the emails may have gotten onto Weiner’s computer from a backup of Abedin’s BlackBerry device. 5/08/17

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

Trump Fired The FBI Director. No Journalist Should Believe Anything The White House Says About It.. https://www.mediamatters.org/node/750621?mc_cid=94feade315&mc_eid=5807e62acb

Why Republicans Think They Can Get Away With Devastating Health Care https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/05/04/why-republicans-think-they-can-get-away-devastating-health-care/216276

All Hell Breaks Loose When Someone On Fox Mentions What The GOP Health Care Bill Actually Does https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/05/04/fox-news-hosts-shout-down-one-their-own-attempting-speak-truth-about-republican-health-care-bill/216295

Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, On Need For Essential Health Benefits: "People Don't Know What They Need Until They Need It"https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/05/05/cnns-chief-medical-correspondent-need-essential-health-benefits-people-dont-know-what-they-need/216298

Right-Wing Media Outlets Echo Trump's Unfounded Smears Of Sally Yates https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/05/08/right-wing-media-outlets-echo-trumps-unfounded-smears-sally-yates/216332

9. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Comey Testifies and GOP Tries Again on Health Care: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/EIpCCmI4l14

SNL Cold Open: Morning Joe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZXNqic_Zi8&feature=youtu.be

SNL Weekend Update on the AHCA: https://youtu.be/Or8edpMeDk0

SNL: Where in the World Is Kellyanne Conway?: https://youtu.be/NgWWube0M1c

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality II: https://youtu.be/92vuuZt7wak

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: God Weighs In On Trump's Religious Liberty Executive Order: https://youtu.be/xJIuPhTjE38

10. Flashback

From the Articles of Impeachment adopted by House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 1974:

Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following… interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees.” http://watergate.info/impeachment/articles-of-impeachment

11. Cook Political Report: House 2018: Rating Changes in 20 Districts

Republicans' 217-213 passage of the American Health Care Act on Thursday guarantees Democrats will have at least one major on-the-record vote to exploit in the next elections. Although it's the first of potentially many explosive votes, House Republicans' willingness to spend political capital on a proposal that garnered the support of just 17 percent of the public in a March Quinnipiac poll is consistent with past scenarios that have generated a midterm wave.

Not only did dozens of Republicans in marginal districts just hitch their names to an unpopular piece of legislation, Democrats just received another valuable candidate recruitment tool. In fact, Democrats aren't so much recruiting candidates as they are overwhelmed by a deluge of eager newcomers, including doctors and veterans in traditionally red seats who have no political record for the GOP to attack - almost a mirror image of 2010. May 5, 2017 http://cookpolitical.com/story/10342

12. Wealthy Would Get Billions in Tax Cuts Under Obamacare Repeal Plan

Two of the biggest tax cuts in Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act would deliver roughly $144 billion over the coming decade to those with incomes of $1 million or more, according to a congressional analysis.

The assessment was made by the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan panel that provides research on tax issues.

It is not unusual for tax cuts to benefit mostly the wealthiest, but still save some money for a majority of Americans. But the benefits of these reductions would be aimed squarely at the top. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/business/tax-cuts-affordable-care-act-repeal.html?_r=1

13. California Republicans Tip The Balance On O’care Repeal Vote

It all came down to California.

With House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) furiously whipping wobbling Republican members, the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act passed the House by just two votes Thursday afternoon.

Right up until the final hours before the vote, a number of California Republicans remained publicly undecided. Yet by the time the gavel came down, enough fell in line and voted with the majority of their party to nudge the bill over the finish line.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is particularly politically vulnerable, refused to comment on his yes vote. (Note: Issa’s votes were in line with Trump’s position 100%of the time <https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/darrell-e-issa/>). http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/california-republicans-obamacare-repeal-vote

14. Mark Fiore: Trump Branded Solutions

http://www.markfiore.com/april-june-2017/2017/5/3/trump-branded-solutions

15. Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Majority Say Republicans Should Make The Current Health Care Law Work

Nine in ten Democrats (91 percent) and eight in ten independents (79 percent) say Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the law work as do half of Republicans. Among Trump supporters, more say Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the law work (53 percent) than say they should do what they can to make the law fail so they can replace it later (35 percent). http://kff.org/health-reform/report/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-late-april-2017-the-future-of-the-aca-and-health-care-the-budget/

16. Republicans Now Own Health Care

The House Republican vote Thursday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act means the GOP now has to answer for every problem with the health care law: the premium increases due to materialize this summer, more insurers leaving the markets, and regions where no one is willing to sell coverage at all anymore.

Democrats — who were blamed for every problem in the health industry, from rising premiums to overbooked doctor’s offices to long emergency room waits — couldn’t be more excited to give it to them. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/06/health-care-republicans-trumpcare-gopcare-blame-238058

17. Kushner’s Sister Offered Visas to Chinese Investors

Nicole Kushner Meyer took the stage at a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Beijing on Saturday with a pitch to a room with about 100 investors: They could get green cards if they poured money into One Journal Square, a $150 million luxury Jersey City development from her family. May 7, 2017 May 7, 2017 http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/jared-kushner-sister-offers-u-s-visas-chinese-investors-article-1.3144365

18. House Republicans Go Off a Cliff

As written, the A.H.C.A. basically takes Trump’s gift to the party and hurls it off the highest possible cliff. It is not just the scale of the likely insurance losses, or how much the rich benefit from repeal relative to everybody else. It’s also the gulf between that reality and what Trump and various Republican leaders explicitly promised — insisting that their plan would deliver better coverage, lower premiums, and a lot of other things that have since taken a back seat to making room in the budget for more tax cuts.

When President Obama said — lyingly – that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” his party ultimately paid for it. A reasonably competent Democratic Party, with something like the A.H.C.A. to run against, should be able to make Republicans pay dearly in their turn.

Indeed, the A.H.C.A. should make the Democrats’ various internal dilemmas easier to resolve. Were Trump actually governing along the populist lines he promised, the intra-Democratic debate over “identity politics versus class politics versus making it all about Trump (and Russia?)” would be fraught and complicated, the best course of action murky. -- Ross Douthat 5/06/17 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/house-republicans-go-off-the-cliff.html

19. Late Nite Jokes

Today the House voted to pass the Republican healthcare bill before taking an 11-day recess. They say they’re going to use the break to kick back, relax, and finally read the bill they just voted for. -- JimmyFallon

Democrats are calling for the new Republican healthcare bill to be called “Trumpcare.” Experts say that’s the first time the words “Trump” and “care” have ever been said together. -- JimmyFallon

Today, Trump tweeted that the media is out of control, saying that they will do or say anything to get attention. Then he honked the horn of an 18-wheeler, posed for a picture with Kid Rock, and accused Obama of spying on him from his microwave. -- JimmyFallon

President Trump canceled his White House Cinco de Mayo celebration. He made the decision after Mexico said they wouldn’t pay for it. -- JimmyFallon

Today isn’t only Cinco de Mayo, it’s also the one-year anniversary of this [Trump] tweet: “Happy #CincodeMayo. I love Hispanics!” You know, a year has gone by, but I’m just as embarrassed today as I was the day it was posted. -- James Corden

House Republicans today voted on and passed an Obamacare replacement bill without knowing how much it could cost. Though I’m not surprised — they also voted on an Obama replacement without knowing the cost. -- Seth Meyer

A member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said yesterday that it can be difficult to negotiate with President Trump because it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. Also, if. -- Seth Meyer

Yesterday, Trump had a big phone call with Vladimir Putin, where they agreed to work together on handling Kim Jong Un. You know a leader’s unstable when Trump and Putin are like, “We gotta keep an eye on that guy!” -- James Corden

I mean, seriously — Trump and Putin “fixing” North Korea? That’s like Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich “guarding” a wedding cake. -- James Corden

Today, FBI Director James Comey said the thought that he helped Donald Trump get elected president makes him “mildly nauseous.” Comey then excused himself to attend a meeting of Underreacters Anonymous. -- Conan O’Brien

Nissan is developing technology that blocks cellphone signals so people won’t be distracted by their smartphones. First Nissan will put the technology in their cars, then they’ll put it in the Oval Office. -- Conan O’Brien

President Trump will return to New York City tomorrow for the first time since taking office. Melania was like, “Oh, that’s so crazy, I’m flying to D.C. tomorrow. Oh, you should have told me. Ships in the night.” -- Seth Meyers

According to a new Politico poll, 48 percent of voters approve of the job President Trump is doing. Of course, a lot of them think that job is plus-sized golf shirt model. -- Seth Meyers

20. Trump's multiple residences, large jet-setting family and commuter marriage drive up first family travel and protection costs

On the Thursday evening before Easter, photographers staking out Palm Beach International Airport in Florida awaiting President Trump were surprised to see not one, but two Air Force planes arriving within minutes of each other.

Shortly before the president landed, Melania Trump arrived on a Boeing C-32 — a military version of a 757 — with their 11-year-old son, Barron, and other family members to spend the holiday at the Mar-a-Lago golf resort. Her one-way trip from New York, where she lives separately from her husband so their son can finish the school year, cost taxpayers more than $110,000.

Nobody questions that the safety of the president and his family is of vital national interest, or that the costs of first family travel and protection have soared in the age of terrorism.

But a unique set of circumstances has made the current presidential family the most expensive in history. There is no standard methodology to tally travel and protection costs, but based on publicly available information reviewed by The Times, the total for Trump’s first 100 days was at least $30 million. By comparison, the conservative think tank Judicial Watch found that costs for President Obama and his much smaller family averaged $12 million a year. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-trump-costs-20170508-story.html

OPINION

1. Julian Zelizer: Comey's firing was Trump's nuclear option on Russia probe

When the President announced the resignation of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates in January for refusing to implement the administration's refugee ban, the comparison to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" instantly lit up the headlines.

In that 1973 event, Nixon fired independent prosecutor Archibald Cox for his aggressive inquiry into Watergate. It turns out that was nothing, compared with the firing of Comey in the middle of this inquiry. It is a stunning blow to any attempt to obtain legitimate, non-partisan information about what went wrong in the campaign and why.

The justification provided in the administration's memorandum on the firing -- that it came in response to Comey's mishandling of the Clinton investigation -- doesn't pass the laugh test.

From the start, President Trump has showed little interest in finding out what happened during the election. This has been one of the most suspicious aspects of his response. He has attacked President Barack Obama with false allegations of wiretapping, he has dismissed all the evidence and accusations coming out about campaign officials, and he has taken a strident stand against all the institutions that show any sign of standing up to him.

More than anything else thus far, this announcement fuels the perception that President Trump is scared about something. There was no obvious reason for the administration to take this step and it's hard not to be skeptical about the reasons for it to be taken at this moment.

Senate Republicans must show that they are more loyal to the nation than their party. Democrats, who have little love for Comey after his pronouncements about Clinton before the election, need to show that they can work with the GOP on this issue to make sure someone strong takes over the job. Better yet would be to take up Senator Chuck Schumer's plan to appoint a special prosecutor, which is now the only way to move forward with a serious investigation.

Without such action, the legitimacy of the 2016 election and the legitimacy of this President will remain a question. Congress must rectifying this imperial act -- or the health of our democracy will continue to hang in the balance. http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/opinions/comeys-firing-a-stunning-blow-to-russia-probe-zelizer/index.html

2. John Cassidy: An Attack on American Democracy

At a time like this, it is important to express things plainly. On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump acted like a despot. Without warning or provocation, he summarily fired the independent-minded director of the F.B.I., James Comey. Comey had been overseeing an investigation into whether there was any collusion between Trump’s Presidential campaign and the government of Russia. With Comey out of the way, Trump can now pick his own man (or woman) to run the Bureau, and this person will have the authority to close down that investigation.

That is what has happened. It amounts to a premeditated and terrifying attack on the American system of government. Quite possibly, it will usher in a constitutional crisis. Even if it doesn’t, it represents the most unnerving turn yet in what is a uniquely unnerving Presidency.

“Things like this are not supposed to happen in a liberal democracy, especially in one that takes pride, as the United States does, in safeguards put in place against the arbitrary exercise of power. May 10, 2017 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trump-has-attacked-american-democracy

3. Peter Baker: Echoes of Watergate

Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ in October 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.”

“The decision stunned members of both parties, who saw it as a brazen act sure to inflame an already politically explosive investigation.”

“Trump may have assumed that Democrats so loathed Mr. Comey because of his actions last year in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server that they would support or at least acquiesce to the dismissal. But if so, he miscalculated.”

'Smell of Watergate' Hits Trump's White House

‘This is not fake news, this is real news, and it evokes historical memories in a lot of people in Washington who remember what happened in 1974.’ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/us/politics/trump-fbi-investigation-nixon.html

4. James Avlon: Trumpistan Turns on James Comey

Freedom and accountability are not priorities for this president. Power is his bottom line.

Welcome to Trumpistan. Our country is better than this. But our president, sadly, is not.

FBI Director James Comey was suddenly fired Tuesday, even as the FBI investigates ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Subpoenas were reportedly being issued for a grand jury. This is exactly what it appears to be: executive overreach driven by an authoritarian impulse to derail an investigation.

Don’t buy the official line. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s letter arguing that Comey deserved dismissal for mishandling the Hillary Clinton email investigation and insubordination against then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch is pure crocodile tears. Trump had everything but pom-poms when he was cheerleading Comey’s actions during the campaign.

The high-minded idea that firing Comey represents a bipartisan consensus doesn’t begin to pass the laugh test. The only bipartisan consensus in the hours after the announcement came from horrified senators on both sides of the aisle. Republican reaction ranged from the calls for an independent investigative committee by Sen. John McCain to Sen. Richard Burr tweeting that he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination” to moral exhaustion from libertarian Jeff Flake, who confessed that “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.” Even Democrats who detested Comey’s election interference were predictably outraged, calling for a special prosecutor and describing the concurrent chaos as nothing less than a constitutional crisis. MAY 9, 2017 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/10/trumpistan-turns-on-james-comey.html

5. David Leonhardt: Donald Trump Is Lying Again, Now About James Comey

The president of the United States is lying again.

He is lying about the reason he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director. Trump claimed that he was doing so because Comey bungled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email, which meant that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

There is no reason to believe Trump’s version of the facts and many reasons to believe he is lying. How can I be so confident?

First, it’s important to remember just how often Trump lies. Virtually whenever he finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood.

An incomplete list of the things he has lied about include: Barack Obama’s birthplace, Obama’s phone “tapp,” John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq war, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud, the size of his inaugural crowd, his health care bill and his own groping of women. MAY 9, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/09/opinion/donald-trump-is-lying-again-now-about-james-comey.html

6. Jonathan Chait: President Trump Fired James Comey Because the Government Works for Donald Trump

Trump has demonstrated his inability to tolerate any authority that lies beyond his control. He disputes the right of courts to review and overturn his actions; he regards his power as a vehicle for enriching himself and his family, and recognizes no public right to know even the contours of his self-interest. It is fitting that Trump sent his personal bodyguard to hand-deliver Comey’s letter of termination. He sees the federal government as a whole as personally subordinate to himself, exactly like his business. He would no more tolerate independent legal enforcement investigating his potential misdeeds than he would allow his own private security detail to dig up dirt on him.

There is no longer any serious possibility that he will respect the norms of conduct governing his office. The only questions are how far his fellow Republicans, who control all the power in Washington, will let him go before they stop him, or whether the midterm elections will give Democrats the chance. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/trump-fired-comey-because-the-government-works-for-trump.html

7. Jay Michaelson: Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order Is a Triumph of Fake News

The Christian Right invented a non-existent problem: persecution by the government. By focusing on that, the president may have undermined their campaign against LGBT people.

President Donald Trump’s “Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” is the triumph of fake news.

The order does not allow greater discrimination against LGBT people by those with a religious excuse. That absence speaks volumes, and may well portend a significant transformation in LGBT equality.

But what the order does do is solves two problems that simply do not exist.

First, the order effectively nullifies the 1954 law called the Johnson Amendment, by directing the IRS to not enforce it. The law forbids all tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, from engaging in political campaigns, endorse candidates, or collect contributions to a political campaign.

According to the Christian Right’s fake news machine, this common-sense law has muzzled the free speech rights of pastors, who can’t say anything political from the pulpit. Actually, that’s not true at all. Pastors can (and do) still talk politics, they just can’t overtly endorse a candidate. And remember, the law actually applies to all nonprofits, not just churches. This non-issue is just hysteria-mongering among national Christian Right organizations, designed to gin up outrage – and to allow them, not churches, to endorse political candidates.

Oh and guess what: the IRS hasn’t been enforcing the Johnson Amendment against pastors anyway. Since 2008, they’ve only audited one — one — pastor for violating the law, and even he wasn’t punished. And during that time, the “religious liberty” group Alliance Defending Freedom has been promoting “Pulpit Freedom Sundays,” encouraging pastors to openly break the law. Trump’s order changes nothing.

The second nothing-burger in the order provides “regulatory relief” to organizations “persecuted” by Obamacare. Here again, the effect is effectively nil. Churches and religious organizations already have a blanket exemption from the ACA, including its much-hated requirement that insurance plans include contraception coverage. 5.04.17 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/04/trump-s-religious-liberty-executive-order-is-a-triumph-of-fake-news

8. Jonathan Chait: The GOP Health-Care Bill Is an Abdication of Responsibility and a Moral Disgrace

The heart of the bill is the same one that was polling at under 20 percent and failed two months ago: a near-trillion dollar tax cut for wealthy investors, financed by cuts to insurance subsidies for the poor and middle class. They have added a series of hazily defined changes: waivers for states to allow insurers to charge higher rates to people with preexisting conditions and to avoid covering essential health benefits, and a pitifully small amount of money to finance high-risk pools for sick patients.

The implications of these changes are vast. The Brookings Institution notes that if a single state eliminated the cap on lifetime benefits for a single employee, then employers in every state could actually follow suit, thus bringing back a horrid feature of the pre-Obamacare system, in which people who get hit with expensive treatment suddenly discover that their insurer will no longer pay for their care. This would affect not only those getting insurance through Medicaid or the state exchanges, but also through their job.

The ambiguity of the details is the strategy. Republican leaders have been “assuring centrists that the Senate would make changes to allay their concerns and insisting that few states would actually use the waivers allowing higher premiums for pre-existing conditions,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Sean Spicer says it would be “literally impossible … to do an analysis of any level of factual basis.” Representative Fred Upton told reporters that if the Congressional Budget Office says the bill is underfunded he will push for more money — after it passes his chamber.

They are rushing through a chamber of Congress a bill reorganizing one-fifth of the economy, without even cursory attempts to gauge its impact. Its budgetary impact is as yet unknown. The same is true of its social impact, though the broad strokes are clear enough: Millions of Americans will lose access to medical care, and tens of thousands of them will die, and Congress is eager to hasten these results without knowing them more precisely. Their haste and secrecy are a way of distancing the House Republicans from the immorality of their actions. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/trumpcare-an-abdication-of-responsibility-a-moral-disgrace.html

9. Defunding Planned Parenthood is just one of the attacks on women’s health in the GOP’s repeal bill

"The American Health Care Act is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation,” said Erica Sackin, the political communications director for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Getty Images

When you add up all the changes to health care the House GOP is proposing, they look like a not-so-veiled attack on women’s health.

The Affordable Care Act was a big leap forward for women in the US. The law expanded contraceptive access, finally required private small-group insurers to cover maternity care, and broadened the number of people who could access Medicaid — which pays for half of all births in this country.

These advances mattered to public health when you think about how poorly American women fare compared with women in other rich countries. (We have some of the worst maternal health and mortality outcomes in the developed world.) They also gave women some relief from worry about accessing very basic health services they will at some time or another need.

Now the GOP’s health reform bill, the American Health Care Act, looks like a big step backward, doctors and reproductive health advocates are saying. Here are the five key ways this bill, and a related executive order from President Trump, would undermine the health of women in this country.

While Congress votes on the AHCA, Trump signed a “religious freedom” executive order today. It’s expected to give “regulatory relief” to people who objected to the Obama-era requirement that contraception be covered as part of health plans for religious reasons, among other changes.

Diane Horvath-Cosper, an OB-GYN and reproductive health advocacy fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health notes that “This just compounds this administration’s efforts to roll back progress on reproductive health care.” https://www.vox.com/2017/5/4/15542734/defunding-planned-parenthood-republican-health-bill

10. Psychologist John Gartner: Donald Trump's malignant narcissism is toxic: Psychologist

If you take President Trump’s words literally, you have no choice but to conclude that he is psychotic. A delusion is “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump asserts that his New York office was bugged by President Obama, and that his inauguration had the biggest crowd size in history. Before the election, Right Wing Watch published a list of 58 conspiracies proclaimed by Trump.

Is it all for effect, to rile up his base, deflect blame and distract from his shortcomings, or does Trump really believe the insane things he says? It’s often hard to know, because as Harvard psychoanalyst Lance Dodes put it, Trump tells two kinds of lies: the ones he tells others to scam them, and those he tells himself. “He lies because of his sociopathic tendencies," Dodes said. "There's also the kind of lying he has that is in a way more serious, that he has a loose grip on reality." Is he crazy like a fox or just plain crazy? Not a question we want to be asking about our president.

Much has been written about Trump having narcissistic personality disorder. As critics have pointed out, merely saying a leader is narcissistic is hardly disqualifying. But malignant narcissism is like a malignant tumor: toxic.

Psychoanalyst and Holocaust survivor Erich Fromm, who invented the diagnosis of malignant narcissism, argues that it “lies on the borderline between sanity and insanity.” Otto Kernberg, a psychoanalyst specializing in borderline personalities, defined malignant narcissism as having four components: narcissism, paranoia, antisocial personality and sadism. Trump exhibits all four.

His narcissism is evident in his “grandiose sense of self-importance … without commensurate achievements.” From viewing cable news, he knows "more about ISIS than the generals” and believes that among all human beings on the planet, “I alone can fix it.” His "repeated lying," “disregard for and violation of the rights of others” (Trump University fraud and multiple sexual assault allegations) and “lack of remorse” meet the clinical criteria for anti-social personality. His bizarre conspiracy theories, false sense of victimization, and demonization of the press, minorities and anyone who opposes him are textbook paranoia. Like most sadists, Trump has been a bully since childhood, and his thousands of vicious tweets make him perhaps the most prolific cyber bully in history. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/04/trump-malignant-narcissistic-disorder-psychiatry-column/101243584

11. NY Times Editorial: The Trumpcare Disaster

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, and other Republicans falsely accused Democrats of rushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress. On Thursday, in a display of breathtaking hypocrisy, House Republicans — without holding any hearings or giving the Congressional Budget Office time to do an analysis — passed a bill that would strip at least 24 million Americans of health insurance.

Pushed by President Trump to repeal the A.C.A., or Obamacare, so he could claim a legislative win, Mr. Ryan and his lieutenants browbeat and cajoled members of their caucus to pass the bill. Groups representing doctors, hospitals, nurses, older people and people with illnesses like cancer opposed the bill. Just 17 percent of Americans supported an earlier version of the measure, and Republicans have made the legislation only worse since that poll was conducted. Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Ryan seemed bothered by this overwhelming criticism of their Trumpcare bill, the American Health Care Act. They seemed concerned only about appeasing the House Freedom Caucus, the far-right flank of their party.

Mr. Trump in particular has been spreading misinformation and lies about health care, arguing that the legislation would lower costs while guaranteeing that people with pre-existing health conditions could get affordable health insurance. It would do the opposite. Here is what the bill actually does: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/opinion/obamacare-house-vote.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

12. Peter Suderman: The House Health Care Disaster Is Really About Taxes

I have been a critic of Obamacare since it became law, but the Republican alternative is worse in nearly every way.
The American Health Care Act, which was narrowly passed in the House last week, would worsen Obamacare’s problems rather than fix them. Coverage would be disrupted for millions almost immediately, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of a previous iteration of the legislation.

The bill would end Obamacare’s individual mandate, already too weak as a policy mechanism, and impose a fee on those who go without coverage and want to re-enter the insurance market — creating an incentive for relatively healthy people to remain uncovered. As a result, the instability that already exists in Obamacare’s exchanges as insurers scale back around the country would only be increased.

It’s unclear what health policy problem this bill would solve. Even for an opponent of Obamacare, it is difficult to understand why House Republicans chose this path to revamping the nation’s health care

It’s difficult to understand, that is, if you think they were passing a health care bill. It makes more sense when you realize that isn’t what they were doing at all. They were passing a tax cut — one intended to pave the way for more tax cuts. May 7, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/sunday/the-house-health-care-disaster-is-really-about-taxes.html


13. Maureen Dowd: Trump: Hazardous to Our Health

In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump said that playing to people’s fantasies and promising the greatest product was “an innocent form of exaggeration.”

But it’s one thing when you do that for condos and cologne and mattresses and steaks. It’s another for life-or-death health care policy.

Trump has twice pushed to pass disgraceful health care bills without even trying to grasp what’s in them — or more important, what’s not in them. He couldn’t care less that the dog’s breakfast served up by the House on Thursday wounds the struggling Americans he had promised to lift up.

It is “something terrific,” as he vowed, but only for the superrich who are getting a Marie Antoinette wealth transfer at the expense of health care for the poor.

The president feted his fake-news “win” in the Rose Garden, sprinkling flimflam dust to deflect from his ludicrous legislation. Paul Ryan slobbered over Trump’s leadership even as the Senate made plans to shred the House bill and start over.

“Hey, I’m president,” Trump told his sycophants, or in this case, sickophants. “Can you believe it, right?”

No, I can’t.

The Republicans now have a pre-existing condition: They voted for something that will cause them a lot of pain in the future. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/opinion/sunday/trump-hazardous-to-our-health.html?_r=1

14. Margaret Carlson: ‘Hey, I’m President!’—Donald Trump’s All-Madness, No-Method Administration

It may look like Trump’s governing is a result of which side of the bed he gets up on before tweeting, but two themes are emerging.

The first is he must be as removed from life’s losers as possible. Everything, even his own words, pale next to winning, on whatever terms—as we saw with the House health-care vote last week that revealed his prior promise to provide better insurance at a lower cost while covering pre-existing conditions as a sham.

The second is his belief in flattery as a means to winning. That, too, was at work in Trump’s all-out effort to erase his first legislative defeat with a steaming mess that strips health care from millions, a “win” so bad that it’s headed for a mercy killing in the Senate.

But that’s tomorrow. Speaker Paul Ryan who’s wanted to slash Medicaid since he was drinking beer from a keg, wanted to wait —but not Trump. To shake that icky loser feeling, the Trump administration did its bit to cobble together a hodgepodge of a bill and set about flattering some members, and threatening others, with how smart they are, like Rep. Chris Collins who admitted he hadn’t even read the bill before voting for it and leaving town. If town halls were ugly before, imagine them now as people read estimates that under Trumpcare asthma sufferers would be paying $4,ooo more per year, those with diabetes, $5,500, and cancer, $140,000. By no means get pregnant as insurers can remove maternity coverage. It’s a boy! He just cost you $17,000.

Trump won by convincing voters that he might be rough around the edges, slip into locker room talk, and not know what the nuclear triad is, but that was all part of being real. After a hundred rocky, feckless, bombastic, inconsistent days, it’s fair to ask who’s faking it now. 05.07.17 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/05/08/hey-i-m-president-donald-trump-s-all-madness-no-method-administration.html

15. Paul Krugman: Republicans Party Like It’s 1984

There have been many bad laws in U.S. history. Some bills were poorly conceived; some were cruel and unjust; some were sold on false pretenses. Some were all of the above.

But has there ever been anything like Trumpcare, the health legislation Republicans rammed through the House last week? It’s a miserably designed law, full of unintended consequences. It’s a moral disaster, snatching health care from tens of millions mainly to give the very wealthy a near-trillion-dollar tax cut.

What really stands out, however, is the Orwell-level dishonesty of the whole effort. As far as I can tell, every word Republicans, from Trump on down, have said about their bill — about why they want to replace Obamacare, about what their replacement would do, and about how it would work — is a lie, including “a,” “and” and “the.”

And what does it say about the state of American politics that a majority of the representatives of one of our major political parties have gone along with this nightmarish process?

What just happened on health care shouldn’t be treated as just another case of cynical political deal making. This was a Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength moment. And it may be the shape of things to come. MAY 8, 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/opinion/republicans-party-like-its-1984.html

16. John Cassidy: Donald Trump’s Firing Of James Comey Is An Attack On American Democracy

At a time like this, it is important to express things plainly. On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump acted like a despot. Without warning or provocation, he summarily fired the independent-minded director of the F.B.I., James Comey. Comey had been overseeing an investigation into whether there was any collusion between Trump’s Presidential campaign and the government of Russia. With Comey out of the way, Trump can now pick his own man (or woman) to run the Bureau, and this person will have the authority to close down that investigation.

That is what has happened. It amounts to a premeditated and terrifying attack on the American system of government. Quite possibly, it will usher in a constitutional crisis. Even if it doesn’t, it represents the most unnerving turn yet in what is a uniquely unnerving Presidency.

Ever since Trump took office, many people have worried about his commitment to democratic norms, the Constitution, and the rule of law. From the hasty promulgation of his anti-Muslim travel ban onward, he has done little to salve these concerns. Now he has acted like one of the authoritarian leaders he so admires—a Putin, an Erdoğan, or an El-Sisi.

Congress must restrain him and reassert the principles of American democracy by appointing an independent special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. If the legislature won’t act unprompted—and the initial signs are that most of the G.O.P. intends to yield to the President’s abuse of his power—it will be incumbent on the American people to register their protests forcefully, and to put pressure on their elected officials. Trump is a menace. He must be stopped. May 9, 2017 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/donald-trump-has-attacked-american-democracy

ARCHIVES

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

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

To SUBSCRIBE: Email jellison3@me.com with "subscribe" on the subject line. NOTE: Your email address will not be shared - ever!

To UNSUBSCRIBE: Email jellison3@me.com with "unsubscribe" as the subject.

Your comments and/or suggestions are always welcome!! Please send them to jellison3@me.com

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

Fair Use Notice:

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