September 7th, 2017

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ON THE RECORD.....

“I have nothing against any of the people my age who will run, but I really do believe that if we’re going to appeal to the younger generation, we’ve got to change the party.” — Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, on the need for Democrats to have a younger presidential nominee in 2020.

“I intend to co-sponsor the Medicaid-for-All bill. It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative [is] we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts for money for them to get their health care in an emergency room. “It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right, it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers. -- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

“To target these young people is wrong ― because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating ― because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people ― and who we want to be.” -- Barack Obama on Trump’s decision to dismantle the program protecting young undocumented immigrants. 

“Is the United States of America, or the city of Chicago, better off for deporting this woman, who has been here for 16 years?. It makes no sense whatsoever.” -- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (R-IL) in response to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) order to Genoveva Ramirez, a 67-year-old undocumented grandmother of ten children, to leave the United States by the end of October.

“I realize that I come to Italy at a time when many are questioning whether America is still committed to remaining engaged in the world, to upholding our traditional alliances, and standing up for the values we share. I also realize — and there is no point in avoiding a little straight talk here — that this doubt has much to do with some of the actions and statements of our President.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at an international economic and policy conference in Lake Como, Italy.

“They were just happy. We saw a lot of happiness. It’s been really nice. It’s been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.” — Trump, after visiting a shelter for hurricane victims in Houston.

"This is a sad day for our country. The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 9/05/2017

Republican leadership already has a brutal month ahead, but the House Freedom Caucus — a collection of around 40 ultra conservative members — is going to fight them every step of the way. -- Jonathan Swan in Axios

“They’ll eat grass, but they won’t abandon their program unless they feel secure.” — Vladimir Putin arguing that sanctions against North Korea are “useless and ineffective.”

Kim Jong Un is "begging for war." -- U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley

“Mitch? Are you there?” — Trump on a call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had stopped responding to Trump’s “chatter about the day’s headlines or what he had seen on TV.”

If you wanted to offer a graduate-school class in how not to be an effective president of the United States, Donald Trump could write the textbook and teach the course.” -- Charlie Cook

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Eight Hundred Thousand People with Dreams to Be Deported by One with Delusions
2. The DAILY GRILL
3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
4. Mueller Enlists IRS for Trump-Russia Investigation
5. Russian Hacking Efforts Draw Little Scrutiny
6. From the Late Shows
7. Late Night Jokes for Dems
8. How Washington lobbyists fought flood insurance reform
9. Russian politician says 'let's hit Trump with our Kompromat' on state TV
10. Poll: Majority opposes deporting Dreamers
11. Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election

OPINION

1. John McCain: It’s time Congress returns to regular order
2. Jonathan Chait: Robert Mueller Eliminates Trump’s Trump Card
3. Abigail Tracy: "From Russia with Love." Robert Mueller Just Formed An Alliance That Should Terrify Trump
4. Jonathan Chait: Trump, DeVos, and the Creation of an American Oligarchy
5. Robert Shrum: Donald Trump Is Not a Populist
6. Anthea Butler: The Cheap Prosperity Gospel of Trump and Osteen
7. Damon Linker: The GOP's dishonest charade on disaster relief
8. David Faris: Trump's narcissism is poisoning America
9. Andrew Sullivan: Trump Flaunts His Indifference to the Rule of Law
10. USA Today Editorial: President Trump, leave DACA alone
11. George E. Condon Jr.: The Buck Never Stops With Trump
12. Paul Krugman: The Very Bad Economics of Killing DACA
13. Anthony L. Fisher: Trump's DACA suspension proves his brand isn't winning — it's cruelty
14. Cristian Farias: Trump’s Cowardly Dodge on DACA
15. Elizabeth Kolbert: Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Eight Hundred Thousand People with Dreams to Be Deported by One with Delusions

Eight hundred thousand people with dreams will be deported by one person with delusions, sources confirmed on Tuesday.

According to reports, U.S. residents who have obtained advanced degrees, served in the military, and saved people from Hurricane Harvey will be kicked out of the country by a man who believes that his microwave is spying on him.

“Under this new decision, if you have worked hard, gone to school, and contributed to the country, you face immediate deportation,” one legal expert said. “On the other hand, if you can prove that you have a glaring personality disorder and a flimsy grasp on reality, you can decide the fate of those other people.”

The delusional man defended his controversial decision late Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by several key voices in his head.

“The people I am deporting are parasites who have exploited our economy,” the man, who has declared bankruptcy six times, said. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. The DAILY GRILL

“The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of the bill had nothing to do with Sandy. And what I said then and still believe now is it’s not right for politicians to exploit a disaster and people who are hurting, for them to pay for their own political wishlist.” -- Sen. Ted Cruz asking the federal government to provide disaster relief funding for his flood-ravaged state of Texas while also trying to justify why he voted against the very same thing after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

VERSUS

“It is wildly incorrect to claim that the bill was ‘filled with unrelated pork’The bill was largely aimed at dealing with Sandy, along with relatively minor items to address other or future disasters.” -- Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler 

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before," -- Donald Trump, August 8th

VERSUS

North Korea lauded its sixth and strongest nuclear weapons test yet as a “complete success.” -- NY Daily News, September 3rd

 

South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing! -- Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

S. Korea's Blue House just put out a statement rebutting Trump's "appeasement" tweet, saying it's totally on board with "maximum sanctions." -- Jonathan Cheng‏ @JChengWSJ

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

Fox & Friends’ Kilmeade calls for an end date for the Russia investigation: “Six months is enough.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/31/Fox---Friends-Kilmeade-calls-for-an-end-date-for-the-Russia-investigation-Six-months-is-en/217813

Fox host Brian Kilmeade: "Do you think there might be on some level a fear among Democrats that if tax reform is passed for America, the economy will grow at such a rate it will be impossible for them to win an election? https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/31/fox-host-democrats-are-afraid-tax-reform-because-economy-will-grow-so-much-they-won-t-win-any/217814

Right-wing trolls are waging a harassment campaign against CNN contributor Ana Navarro. Using the #AnaGate hashtag, right-wing trolls and other Twitter users are harassing Republican CNN contributor Ana Navarro, criticizing her for having donated to Democrats, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/08/30/hannity-gets-his-stories-internet-fever-swamps-ana-navarro-story/217810

Trump (again) tweeted a misleading claim after Fox & Friends reported it, this time about James Comey. -- No, Comey did not "exonerate Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over. "https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/01/trump-again-tweeted-misleading-claim-after-fox-friends-reported-it-time-about-james-comey/217825

Fox Business panel hopeful Houston tragedy will be a "positive" boost to the economy. Panelist predicts destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey will help auto companies "clear ... excess inventory." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/01/fox-business-panel-hopeful-houston-tragedy-will-be-positive-boost-economy/217824

After SPLC releases list of confederate monuments, Tucker Carlson accuses them of threatening violence. -- Carlson: SPLC's press release on monuments "sounds like a threat to me." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/31/after-splc-releases-list-confederate-monuments-tucker-carlson-accuses-them-threatening-violence/217821

Alex Jones: “One of the only good things in Islam” is that “they’ll execute you for abortion.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/08/31/alex-jones-one-only-good-things-islam-they-ll-execute-you-abortion/217818

Fox's Kilmeade: Trump "didn't kill" DACA, "He told Congress to make a decision." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/05/foxs-kilmeade-trump-didnt-kill-daca/217846

Jeff Sessions' statement rescinding DACA was packed with bigoted right-wing media lies https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2017/09/05/jeff-sessions-statement-rescinding-daca-was-packed-bigoted-right-wing-media-lies/217841

Alex Jones: “The NRA is more amazing than ever, the best organization on earth, in my view” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/05/alex-jones-nra-more-amazing-ever-best-organization-earth-my-view/217843

Limbaugh says Irma hurricane warnings are a scheme to benefit retailers, media, and the “climate change agenda” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2017/09/05/limbaugh-says-irma-hurricane-warnings-are-scheme-benefit-retailers-media-and-climate-change-agenda/217842

4. Mueller Enlists IRS for Trump-Russia Investigation

Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.

This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.

And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public. http://www.thedailybeast.com/exclusive-mueller-enlists-the-irs-for-his-trump-russia-investigation

5. Russian Hacking Efforts Draw Little Scrutiny

After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/us/politics/russia-election-hacking.html

6. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Ends DACA, Responds to Hurricane Harvey: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/qWFydl-nFsw

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Trump Kids Come Out in Support of DACA: https://youtu.be/LZEhFEpjyBM

7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

It was announced today that President Trump is ending the DACA program, and may deport immigrants who came to the U.S. decades ago. Many people are outraged, while Melania was like, "Well, rules are rules." -- Jimmy Fallon

There's a man-made disaster unfolding in Washington because the Trump administration has announced they're ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The thing is, the vast majority of Americans like this program, so by canceling it, Trump has stepped in some deep DACA. -- Stephen Colbert

Earlier today, he tweeted, "Congress, get ready to do your job. DACA!" He loves the abbreviations. "DACA! MAGA! MAGA! DACA!" He's speaking in tongues at this point, is what is happening. -- Stephen Colbert

Meanwhile, our pumpkin spice president was very busy. He was on the scene in Houston over the weekend to meet with Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. And watch this. He's with a group. They were serving meals to people who were displaced from their homes. They handed him a pair of latex gloves for health reasons because he's serving food. And here's how that went: "My hands are too big." His hands are too big for the gloves? Like O.J. They're too big. -- Jimmy Kimmel

This morning our president woke up and asked his staff, "Now that this hurricane is over, what's something horrible I can do to distract people from the Russia investigation?" Someone said, "You know, there are 800,000 innocent kids you could deport for no good reason." And he said, "Done and done."-- Jimmy Kimmel

President Trump has decided to do away with what's known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA, they call it. It's a program that gives undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country when they were children the chance to work and go to school legally. And this is what he wants to do away with. Mostly because President Obama's the one who ordered it. It seems like his main agenda is just to undo everything Obama did. I hope he doesn't bring bin Laden back to life. -- Jimmy Kimmel

The president's spokesperson said it was a difficult decision, the president's been debating it for months, but ultimately Donald Trump believes that if these kids want to be American they have to do it the right way. By marrying Donald Trump. And that's as simple as that. -- Jimmy Kimmel

The announcement was formally made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who spoke about the young people facing deportation. And, during the announcement, he said, "This does not mean they are bad people." To which everyone replied, "No, YOU’RE bad people." -- James Corden

8. How Washington lobbyists fought flood insurance reform

The catastrophic weather in Texas has thrown the spotlight on the federal government’s troubled flood insurance program, which is nearly $25 billion in debt after huge payouts following Katrina, Sandy and other devastating hurricanes.

But as Houston starts the long process of recovering, lobbyists in Washington have already maneuvered to slow lawmakers efforts’ to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program and protect their industries’ profits.

The powerful home builders’ lobby helped kill a proposal that would have phased out coverage for new construction in high-risk areas. The National Association of Realtors blocked an attempt to rein in discounted insurance rates that homeowners can get when their flood risk increases. And the American Bankers Association has warned of a “regional foreclosure crisis” if Congress axes coverage for homes with excessive claims.

Lawmakers who want to reel in the program are finding that they must appease the influential industry groups whose support they need to move forward.

"We want to have a vibrant construction industry," said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), who's pushing for a greater private-sector presence in the flood insurance market. "We want to have a vibrant real estate industry. That's all great. But we're incentivizing building in high-risk areas, which is a moral hazard." http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/02/flood-insurance-program-lobbyists-242275

9. Russian politician says 'let's hit Trump with our Kompromat' on state TV

Speaking on Russia-24, Nikita Isaev, leader of the far-right New Russia Movement, said that compromising material should be released in retaliation over the closure of several Russian diplomatic compounds across the US.”

When asked whether Russia has such material, Mr Isaev replied: “Of course we have it!” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-donald-trump-kompromat-nikita-isaev-new-russia-movement-state-tv-us-president-a7929966.html

10. Poll: Majority opposes deporting Dreamers

A majority of voters, 58%, think these undocumented immigrants, also known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements — a sentiment that goes well beyond the existing DACA program. Another 18% think they should be allowed to stay and become legal residents, but not citizens. Only 15% think they should be removed or deported from the country.” 9/05/17 http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/05/poll-trump-deporting-daca-dreamers-242343

11. Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election

Representatives of Facebook told congressional investigators Wednesday that the social network has discovered that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, according to several people familiar with the company’s findings.

Facebook officials reported that they traced the ad sales, totaling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda, these people said. 9/06/17 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/facebook-says-it-sold-political-ads-to-russian-company-during-2016-election/2017/09/06/32f01fd2-931e-11e7-89fa-bb822a46da5b_story.html

OPINION

1. John McCain: It’s time Congress returns to regular order

Congress returns from recess facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.

That’s not how we were meant to govern. Our entire system of government — with its checks and balances, its bicameral Congress, its protections of the rights of the minority — was designed for compromise. It seldom works smoothly or speedily. It was never expected to.

It requires pragmatic problem-solving from even the most passionate partisans. It relies on compromise between opposing sides to protect the interests we share. We can fight like hell for our ideas to prevail. But we have to respect each other or at least respect the fact that we need each other.

That has never been truer than today, when Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.

We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.

Let’s try it on tax reform and infrastructure improvement and all the other urgent priorities confronting us. These are all opportunities to show that ordinary, decent, free people can govern competently, respectfully and humbly, and to prove the value of the United States Congress to the great nation we serve. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-mccain-its-time-congress-returns-to-regular-order/2017/08/31/f62a3e0c-8cfb-11e7-8df5-c2e5cf46c1e2_story.html

2. Jonathan Chait: Robert Mueller Eliminates Trump’s Trump Card

Donald Trump’s ability to issue presidential pardons has been the ultimate weapon looming over Robert Mueller’s investigation. Trump could potentially pardon himself of any crimes. More important, he could dangle a pardon to his former staffers to encourage them not to supply Mueller with any incriminating information on Trump. Mueller is apparently handling his investigating like the prosecution of a mob boss, pressuring underlings to flip on the boss. Trump’s advantage is that, unlike a mob boss, he can give out an unlimited number of get-out-of-jail-free cards. Trump has reportedly mused in public about using the pardon — and his pardon of Joe Arpaio flaunted his willingness to use it on behalf of a political ally, even in outrageous fashion.

But it turns out that there is a flaw in Trump’s strategy. The presidential pardon only applies to federal crimes. As NBC reported last night, it is possible for state governments to press charges in some of the alleged crimes committed by Trump’s cronies. “You would have to find that one of those [election] crimes occurred in New York,” Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor, told NBC. Of course, some of the alleged crimes almost certainly did take place in New York. And sure enough, Josh Dawseyreports, Mueller is teaming up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering,” he notes.

Trump can pardon anybody facing charges from Mueller, but not from Schneiderman. It is probably significant that Mueller is letting this fact be known to Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s biggest source of leverage over Mueller just disappeared. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/robert-mueller-eliminates-trumps-trump-card.html

3. Abigail Tracy: "From Russia with Love." Robert Mueller Just Formed An Alliance That Should Terrify Trump

On Thursday, Politico reported that Mueller has teamed up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office. Mueller and Schneiderman have reportedly begun sharing evidence from their parallel probes into Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. Manafort, who has long-standing financial ties to Russian interests, has been a focus in the F.B.I. investigation since last summer, but he has come under heightened scrutiny in recent months. Federal investigators have issued a number of subpoenas to associates of the longtime political operative and at the end of last month conducted a raid on his home, reportedly seeking documents. (Manafort has not been accused of any crime and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.)

Prosecutors worried that the possibility of a presidential pardon might allow Manafort to avoid working with investigators. But leaning on Schneiderman’s office to bring charges against the former campaign chairman could force his cooperation. The New York attorney general’s office is also said to be in the early stages of a probe into the Trump Organization’s business transactions. “One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering,” according to Politico’s Josh Dawsey.

The Mueller-Schneiderman coalition also represents the pairing of two Trump foes. Schneiderman, who on several occasions has found himself on the receiving end of the president’s attacks, won a $25 million settlement against Trump University after a long class-action fraud investigation. The Jared Kushner-owned New York Observer also published a memorably critical hit piece on the New York A.G., in which he was portrayed as a character in the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange. The 1921 Martin Act gives New York’s top prosecutor additional powers to fight financial fraud, which could make it much easier to build a case. 8/31/17 https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/08/trump-robert-mueller-eric-schneiderman

4. Jonathan Chait: Trump, DeVos, and the Creation of an American Oligarchy

Trump has done many shocking things in office, but most of them follow directly, even explicitly, from the persona he put on full display during the campaign. Trump promised the country he would unleash law enforcement without restraint. He made clear his warm feelings toward Vladimir Putin – justifying his authoritarianism and even going so far as to literally ask him in public to hack his opponent’s email. He may not be building the wall and imposing tariffs, but he is at least trying. Even Trump’s, shall we say, free-form managerial style was well known.

His utter subservience to the party’s donor class breaks from the pattern. It is a complete reversal of his promise to “drain the swamp.” Decades ago, academics formulated a term that roughly corresponds to “the swamp.” It’s “regulatory capture,” which describes a process by which staffers in government make rules designed to benefit incumbent industries rather than the general public. Much of the work of government under Trump has consisted of turning over public policy directly to the Washington business lobby. Trump may like war heroes who weren’t captured, but he likes regulators who were.

The spectacular and telegenic failures of the Trump administration are obscuring the highly effective policies under way. Trump has transformed the government into an apparatus for protecting and enriching incumbent wealth. His chaos and incompetence are tolerable to his party because Trump is fashioning an American oligarchy. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/trump-devos-and-the-creation-of-an-american-oligarchy.html

5. Robert Shrum: Donald Trump Is Not a Populist

Donald J. Trump is a populist in the same sense that the Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea is democratic.

He is a demagogue who, under the cover of a contrived populism that traffics in resentment of “the other,” pursues a plutocratic course that betrays the very people he tricked into voting against themselves. After an election in which he played on their economic insecurities, he now proposes to cut taxes mostly for corporations and the top 1 percent, not for them; to strip away their health coverage; to dismember protections for workers on the job; to let the highest bidders poison our water and pollute our air. The list goes on and on—from opposing an increase in the minimum wage to calling for draconian cutbacks in college loan programs for hard-pressed middle and working-class students.

Trump himself constantly offers a conspicuous profile in plutocracy. Think of his treatment of the Secret Service – bankrupting jaunts to Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, his private clubs in Florida and New Jersey. And he is far from alone in the arrogantly gilded ranks of this administration. Consider the wife of Treasury secretary and multi-millionaire Steve Mnuchin, a bejeweled B actress named Louise Linton, who Instagrammed a photo identifying her lavish designer clothes by name and then berated a critic, a mother of three, by belittling her lesser wealth and deriding her life as “cute.” The episode instantly went viral.

How do Trump and his minions get away with this – and they do, at least with a so-called “base” that’s shrinking toward 30 percent of the voters? And why are Democrats struggling to make him pay for his plutocratic ways? The answer is rooted in the history of American populism and the apostates who perverted it into a toxic brew of cultural and ethnic resentments. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/29/donald-trump-not-a-populist-215552

6. Anthea Butler: The Cheap Prosperity Gospel of Trump and Osteen

Before it began to rain in Houston last week, the spectacularly wealthy pastor Joel Osteen could have opened up his megachurch to serve as a logistics center. He could have announced that evacuees were welcome to take shelter there when Hurricane Harvey landed. Instead he wrote tweets like “God’s got this” and “don’t drift into doubt and fear … stay anchored to hope.” Only a couple of his posts on Twitter offered “prayers.”

On Sunday, Mr. Osteen’s church announced that it was inaccessible because of “flooding.” But intrepid journalists proved otherwise. After Mr. Osteen was humiliated on social media, he finally opened the 16,800-seat church to the public on Tuesday. When asked about the delay, Mr. Osteen said that “the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter.”

President Trump, too, revealed his morally bankrupt soul during the storm when he said that he timed his pardon of the racist former sheriff Joe Arpaio to coincide with the hurricane’s landfall because he assumed that it would garner “far higher” TV ratings than usual. Mr. Trump did visit Texas, but there was apparently no mention of dead or displaced Texans, and no expressions of sympathy.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Osteen are mirrors of each other. Both enjoy enormous support among evangelicals, yet they lack a command of biblical scripture. Both are among the 1 percent.

Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey are the worst kind of crises for people like Mr. Trump and Mr. Osteen, who purvey their own versions of the prosperity gospel. This is a belief that says if you think positively and make affirmations, God will reward you with financial success and good health. If you don’t, you may face unemployment, poverty or sickness. (Mr. Trump in particular always speaks in laudatory terms about himself and his companies.)

But the problem is that it’s hard to promote “Your Best Life Now” or “The Art of the Deal” to people whose houses have flooded or been blown away, or to evacuees who have only the clothes on their backs.

The survivors of Hurricane Harvey do not need empty tweets and platitudes from people like Donald Trump and Joel Osteen. They have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that, as we say in Texas, they are all hat and no cattle. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/opinion/trump-osteen-harvey-church.html

7. Damon Linker: The GOP's dishonest charade on disaster relief

As Tropical Storm Harvey pummeled Texas and Louisiana this week, the contrast between the GOP's rhetoric and actions was stark — but also terribly familiar.

While the greater Houston area continued to suffer through catastrophic flooding that is sure to leave countless thousands homeless and displaced, many Republicans said the right things. But quietly (or loudly in the case of President Trump), they also showed the country where the party's priorities truly lie.

First, The Associated Press reported that House Republicans are "looking at cutting almost $1 billion from disaster accounts to help finance [the] Trump border wall." Then the president delivered a speech in Springfield, Missouri, in which he made a case for helping America's middle class by sharply cutting taxes on corporations and rich people.

There's your Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen — the party that sought to block aid to New Jersey and New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy; the party that fights to give families the "choice" to drop health insurance it would also make many times more expensive; the party that venerates libertarian economists and entrepreneurs and private charities but that has no concept at all of the public and its place in our lives and in the life of our nation. http://theweek.com/articles/721990/gops-dishonest-charade-disaster-relief

8. David Faris: Trump's narcissism is poisoning America

President Trump's leadership during the Hurricane Harvey nightmare is a microcosm of everything he is incapable of as a human being: sustained empathy, determined focus, and the ability to put aside one's short-term needs and desires for the sake of people who need help. He put the dark abyss of his soul on display for everyone to see.

It wasn't just his revolting "What a turnout, what a crowd" moment when he visited Texas. It was conducting his Oceania-Eurasia war with the media while people were still fleeing disaster and trying not to drown. It was using the hurricane to execute his inexcusable pardon of the unapologetic sadist Joe Arpaio and then claiming he had done it to increase the "ratings." Amazingly, this pampered billionaire who failed up into the world's most prestigious and coveted job spent his time feeling sorry for himself rather than caring for the vulnerable citizens who are his responsibility.

It's not just that he couldn't muster the right tone when he was in front of the cameras — White House reporters noted that, even in private, the president expressed no sympathy for the suffering. And while this provided ample fodder for sarcastic Twitter takedowns, the president's persistent emotional void imperils the fragile bonds of community and fellowship that are the only things holding this country together.

These are not political failings, things which President Trump possesses in almost biblical abundance. They are, instead, the pathologies of a deeply broken man, a person so devoid of feeling for his fellow humans that he reliably has exactly the wrong reaction to every single event that captures the public's attention. And while such people are, in some cases, deserving of a certain kind of sympathy, they have no business being in charge of the world's most critical symbolic job.

They are toxic. And we are stuck with one of these hapless egomaniacs as our president. http://theweek.com/articles/721952/trumps-narcissism-poisoning-america

9. Andrew Sullivan: Trump Flaunts His Indifference to the Rule of Law

Even a week later, the stench of it hangs in the air. The pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of the more chilling authoritarian moves that Trump has made so far. I say this not simply because Arpaio treated prisoners in his charge in barbaric ways; not just because the president described this brutality as Arpaio simply “doing his job”; not even because Arpaio proudly and constantly engaged in racial profiling, making Latino citizens and noncitizens alike afraid to leave their own homes. I say it for a simpler reason: because it is Trump’s deepest indication yet that the rule of law means nothing to him.

Yes, the pardon power has been abused before — as any perusal of Bill Clinton’s final days in office will confirm. But it makes a difference, it seems to me, when the president pardons a law-enforcement officer for openly breaking the law, and refusing to abide by a court order to stop doing so. It makes an even bigger difference if the pardon is granted long before the legal process has played itself out. This isn’t a pardon, as is usually the case, for someone who has served time, shows contrition and deserves some kind of mercy. It is a pardon seemingly designed to blow a raspberry at the court system, and tell anyone in law enforcement or border control or ICE or anywhere for that matter that, if you commit brutal or illegal acts, the big man has your back.

This is government as an unaccountable, legally immune thug. Of course Trump telegraphed this in the campaign by backing violence against dissenters in his rallies, championing torture, and when he recently told police officers it was fine to manhandle criminal suspects. I still have a hard time imagining a president of the United States openly showing contempt for due process or basic decency; but here we are. No one could defend this — even National Review and The Wall Street Journal were disgusted. But say what you like about Trump, this attraction to brute force, this reveling in it, is something he has never hidden. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trump-flaunts-his-indifference-to-the-rule-of-law.html

10. USA Today Editorial: President Trump, leave DACA alone

Dreamers, more than any other immigrant group, are well integrated into American society. They learned English as children and were educated in U.S. schools. Many have become small business owners or have highly coveted job skills. Deporting them would be quite disruptive to communities around the country while hurting the U.S. economy.

Unlike other undocumented immigrants, they did not make an affirmative decision to break the law. They merely followed the instructions of parents in coming here.

Americans intrinsically know this. A poll by Morning Consult in April found that only 14% of registered voters favored deporting dreamers; 78% said they should be allowed to stay, with most saying they should also be given a path to citizenship.

Many Republicans also know that deporting dreamers would be a disaster. But they cynically argue that the matter should be dealt with through legislation. That way, they'd have a bargaining chip to pressure Democrats to support something else, perhaps funding for a border wall.

In a perfect world, Congress would have passed a law granting dreamers relief from deportation long ago. In fact, lawmakers would have done this as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

But using 800,000 members of American society as political pawns is not the answer. The best answer is simply to let the dreamers be.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/08/31/president-trump-leave-daca-alone-editorials-debates/613855001/

11. George E. Condon Jr.: The Buck Never Stops With Trump

For eight years, President Reagan kept a plaque on his desk in the Oval Office that simply declared, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” Similarly, President Truman had a sign on his desk proclaiming, “The buck stops here.” Today, President Trump has no such sign in the Oval Office.

But don’t blame him. He is no Ronald Reagan and no Harry Truman. He wants us to know it is not his fault. For his first seven months in office, he has repeatedly blamed others for any stumbles by his administration, or has laid the groundwork to blame others for future failures.

For those who watched his business career or his presidential campaign, that cannot be surprising. In business, he blamed vendors, his executives, or—in the case of his bankrupt casinos—the state of New Jersey for his setbacks. In the campaign, he blamed a “really bad microphone” and a biased moderator for his bad performance in the first debate with Hillary Clinton. He also blamed “the microphones” for his Access Hollywood embarrassment. And he blamed others for trying to “rig” the election against him and costing him the popular vote.

In office, that pattern has continued. Most frequently, he has blamed President Obama for leaving him “a mess.”

For other important instances when Trump has blamed others see: https://www.nationaljournal.com/

12. Paul Krugman: The Very Bad Economics of Killing DACA

Trump’s decision to kill DACA — never mind the attempt to obscure things with that meaningless delay — is, first and foremost, a moral obscenity: throwing out 800,000 young people who are Americans in every way that matters, who have done nothing wrong, basically for racial reasons. But it’s also worth noting that Jeff Sessions just tried to sell it with junk economics, claiming that the Dreamers are taking American jobs. No, they aren’t, even if we leave aside the question of who’s an American. DACA is very much a boon to the rest of the U.S. population, and killing it will make everyone worse off.

So this is a double blow to the U.S. economy; it will make everyone worse off. There is no upside whatever to this cruelty, unless you just want to have fewer people with brown skin and Hispanic surnames around. Which is, of course, what this is really all about. 9/05/17 https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/the-very-bad-economics-of-killing-daca/

13. Anthony L. Fisher: Trump's DACA suspension proves his brand isn't winning — it's cruelty

The fact that among these 800,000 "DREAMers" (named for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) are valedictorians, military veterans, and doctors makes no difference to Trump or his nationalist allies. Nor does it matter to them that entire families are put at risk for deportation by this action. To hardcore Trumpists, DREAMers are just budding rapists or murderers, and ours is a country of secure borders and the rule of law, so they must all pay.

Winning and cruelty go hand in hand with Trump, and a policy doesn't even have to be successful to be considered a win, it just has to be needlessly vicious. In authorizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reboot the failed and bipartisanly despised war on drugs, Trump ignores the fact that punitive prohibition has contributed to the bloating of prison populations, ravaged inner cities, and turned local police agencies into militarized occupying armies. To Trump, the only reason armies don't win is because their hands are tied, and Trump supports Sessions' quixotic determination to win the drug war through vigorous enforcement and punishment. http://theweek.com/articles/722742/trumps-daca-suspension-proves-brand-isnt-winning--cruelty

14. Cristian Farias: Trump’s Cowardly Dodge on DACA

Without much of a moral compass to guide him, the president ducked responsibility for the needless suffering he’d be causing Dreamers by deferring to Congress, which since 2001 has tried and failed to pass legislation to shield these young immigrants — who never had the intent to violate the law — from a legal regime that otherwise treats them as deportable aliens that don’t belong here. Does anyone really believe that Trump, whose rode into office by attempting to appease a nationalist base, will sign a codified version of DACA that would give more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants a chance of joining the polity?

More cowardly still, he deputized the historically anti-immigrant Sessions to deliver the blow on DACA, which was couched in legalese and a veneer of compassion, and features a six-month “wind-down” period. When the DREAM Act failed in 2010, Sessions suggested Dreamers were no more than the kind of bad hombres Trump would later want to save us from: “This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity,” he said at the time. He hasn’t changed. During his briefing Tuesday, he referred to them dismissively as “mostly adult illegal aliens

“We’re a people of compassion and we’re a people of law,” declared Sessions without a hint of irony over the unspeakable cruelty DACA’s demise represents. This was a punch in the face to Dreamers, to advocates, to immigrants, and Americans like myself who once even helped would-be recipients as they fearfully, hopefully filled out applications for relief. These young immigrants won’t go down quietly. That’s not who they are. Undaunted by Trump’s empty appeals to what’s right and lawful, they’ll continue fighting and representing the very best America has to offer. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trumps-cowardly-dodge-on-daca.html

15. Elizabeth Kolbert: Hurricane Harvey and the Storms to Come

Just ten days before Harvey hit, the President rescinded a 2015 executive order requiring public-infrastructure projects in flood-prone areas to be designed with sea-level rise in mind. This move is likely to have particularly unfortunate consequences for Houston, a city with no zoning code, where thousands of buildings constructed on floodplains but lacking flood insurance are now filled with soggy debris. Last Monday, as rainfall totals in Houston were topping forty inches, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress that he was planning to eliminate his department’s special envoy for climate change.

Many members of Congress share Trump’s climate-change delusions, especially in the Texas delegation. Lamar Smith, a Republican who represents parts of San Antonio, chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Smith has spent the better part of his career harassing climate scientists, and in a recent op-ed for the Daily Signal, a Web site sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation, he celebrated the effects of global warming, arguing that they were producing “beneficial changes to the earth’s geography.” At a town-hall meeting in April, Joe Barton, a Republican who represents parts of Fort Worth and is the vice-chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, repeated the old denier canard that clouds are the cause of climate change. And, in June, House Republicans introduced a bill to prevent federal agencies such as the Department of Energy from considering the societal costs of carbon pollution when fashioning regulations. Among the co-sponsors were three Texas representatives. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/09/11/hurricane-harvey-and-the-storms-to-come

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