Saturday, July 1, 2017

Trump's Morning Joe Tweet Trifecta: He's Callous, Creepy, and (Again) a Liar

It may be that we'll never get over our "president" being an unrepentant liar, but the creepiness that accompanies his untruths and his callous disregard for all sense of decency calls into question his very fitness for office. But we knew that.

Mika Brzezinski at Mar-a-Lago on the night in question. What bleeding?

CNN's Brian Stetler -- whose job it is to report on the media and accuracy -- tweeted a picture of Mika Brzezinski during her now-infamous visit to Mar-a-Lago about which Donald Trump tweeted his "bleeding badly from a face-lift" remark, and clearly Trump was lying yet again.

Commenters on Stetler's tweet both condemned Stetler's playing into Trump's hands and supported his effort to call out Trump's outright deception. I fall on the side of call-out-the-bastard-always-and-repeatedly because the narrative should be that falsehood is at the core of Donald Trump's hopelessly flawed character.

BTW, Trump's outed fake cover of Time that decorates the walls of several of his golf courses is a near-perfect caricature of his abiding insecurity. What a little phony!

Truth is resistance. Repeat after me: Trump is an insecure, lying phony. But there's a small, pitiable caveat: Trump's M. O. is a feature, not a bug, for his legions. What does that tell us? Something we wish we didn't know about a deeply ingrained facet of our American character.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump Is Not Normal. The Press Needs to End Normal Coverage.

Donald Trump's fledgling presidency has never been "normal," no matter the hopes of observers here and abroad, and no group suffers this reality more than the press, who have tied themselves in knots trying to cover him in conventional ways. It's high time they gave up the effort.

For Energy Week, Trump took a self-aggrandizing picture. Anything actually
 new on energy? Sure, some tweets. Well, that's almost like policy!

I've been watching in horror this whole presidency -- hell, during the campaign, as well -- as the mainstream media tried to cover Donald Trump and his minions as if they're normal. Sorry, but normal they're not.

People and the press are finally catching on. First, I spotted a Alex Pareene piece on Fusion in which he helps us confront this new "normal." Hint, folks: This normal ain't new.
What most of the worst people in Donald Trump’s administration have in common is that they are Republicans. This simple fact is obscured sometimes by the many ways in which Trump is genuinely an aberration from the political norm—like his practice of naked nepotism rather than laundering the perpetuation of class advantage through a “meritocratic” process—and by the fact that many of the most vocal online spokespeople for “the resistance” ignore the recent history of the Republican Party in favor of a Trump-centric theory of How Fucked Up Everything Is.
But it is necessary for liberals, leftists, and Democrats to actually be clear on the fact that the Republican Party is responsible for Trump. The Democrats’ longterm failure to make a compelling and all-encompassing case against conservatism and the GOP as institutions, rather than making specific cases against specific Republican politicians, is one of the reasons the party is currently in the political wilderness.
Nearly everything Trump’s done with his appointments and hires, even his chief adviser’s devious plan to destroy the administrative state through understaffing and the installation of loyalists and hacks at every government agency, is just a continuation of a mission begun under George W. Bush. Mike Brown’s sole “experience” before running FEMA was that he was a friend of George W. Bush’s campaign manager. Bush’s ICE chief was a lawyer who’d worked for Kenneth Starr. Monica Goodling, the central figure in the Bush administration’s politically motivated purge of U.S. Attorneys, was a dimwit ideologue lawyer with a degree from Pat Robertson’s bottom-rung law school.
Next time you boggle at the sight of the president’s unqualified son-in-law flying to Iraq to get briefed by generals on the facts on the ground, remember that George W. Bush sent a business school chum to privatize Iraq’s economy and a 24-year-old with no relevant experience to reopen the Iraqi stock market.
Seen in that light, Donald Trump may not be the scariest aspect of this new Normal.

Another view of this comes from Josh Marshall of TPM. Donald Trump's pissing contests are at the core of his psyche: He can't help himself. Somewhere in his lifetime -- middle school, perhaps? -- he was scarred to the point where EVERY FIGHT IS THE BIGGEST FIGHT. What the media needs to do is drop out of this game because it's unwinnable.
We’ve collectively been living in Donald Trump’s house now for more than two years. We know him really well. We know that he sees everything through a prism of the dominating and the dominated. It’s a zero-sum economy of power and humiliation. For those in his orbit he demands and gets a slavish adoration. Even those who take on his yoke of indignity are fed a steady diet mid-grade humiliations to drive home their status and satisfy Trump’s need not only for dominance but unending public displays of dominance. He is a dark, damaged person.
Trump’s treatment of the press is really a version of the same game, a set of actions meant to produce the public spectacle of ‘Trump acts; reporters beg.’ ‘Reporters beg and Trump says no.’ Demanding, shaming all amount to trying to force actions which reporters have no ability to compel. That signals weakness. And that’s the point.
How does the media drop out of this game? Start by treating Trump -- and, by extension, the rest of the Republican hordes -- as exactly what he is: a bully who doesn't deserve the bully pulpit. But have it he does, and it's high time the media stop trying to be deliberative and start being the front line of the resistance. Call out every one on Trump's horrifying tweets and every one of his or the Republicans' nearly endless lies.

It's what they do, and it's now the media's full-time job to stop this nonsense. Otherwise, it continues unabated while reporters try to frame polite, tepid questions.

Of course, until it doesn't:

Okay, good. That's a start.

Oh, and for your amusement, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have disinvited Trump from watching their show, saying it's for the good of the country. True patriots.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Donald Trump Tweets His Way into the Doghouse. How Much Longer Can His People Defend Him?

Many were alarmed that a man as coarse and undisciplined -- especially when attacked -- as Donald Trump made his way to the White House. That alarm is proven almost daily to be prescient.

Oh, would Sarah Huckabee Sanders like to say, "not my job" defending Trump.

Tough luck Sarah. It's your job. How much dirtier a job can you stand? I won't be surprised if we discover soon there's a limit. Not to Trump's reckless and tasteless urges, though.

Case in point:

In short, this behavior is indefensible. Odds he never crosses this line again? Takers?

Paul Krugman put it succinctly:

Sanders put it badly:

For the most part, I've enjoyed the various jobs I've had in life, feeling that I was adding to, not subtracting from, our greater society both here and abroad (Not even slightly claiming to be perfect!). If I were Sanders, though, I'd be tempted to take off the mic and walk, never to look back.

Trump's team will, at some point, start to do that. How many are thinking harder about that today?

What Kind of Country Takes Away Healthcare?? (Right, that would be the U.S.)

Through chicanery, gerrymandering, mastery of messaging (no matter how untruthful), and the corralling of white nationalism -- and a helping hand from conniving Russia -- the GOP now rules the roost. So what do they do? Wreak havoc on the government.

The Trump administration is destroying the government -- and the U.S. by extension -- with cuts and curbs and deletions all over the place. It's healthcare that's in the barrel right now.

To help the destruction along, Trump commits a classic manipulation of data. Here's his fake Twitter graphic from this morning:

Trump "gets" it wrong, and Vox puts it right. Plus, if Trump is misinforming by making a drastic cut in Medicaid look like an increase, then what he says the Democrats did is also a blatant lie. Oh well, it was for Trump's base, who'll believe him to the grave. (Oops, they might get there faster under Trumpcare.)

By way of explanation about the data manipulation: If my new lease says my landlord is raising my rent $500 a month, and I pay him only $200 a month more, I can't say, "But I am increasing my rent to you!" and not expect to get evicted pretty soon.

If healthcare costs are going up by 100% over ten years -- and the population in need of help goes up 10% -- raising healthcare spending by only 30% doesn't get you there. You can't say, "But we're spending more than we used to!"

The GOP is actively seeking a way to throw people off health insurance and uses the savings for tax cuts primarily for the rich. What kind of country does that? The GOP answers, "America, does that."

Very bad answer, but true.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

GOP Healthcare Ninjas

Not really healthcare ninjas. They're tax-cut ninjas that were prevented this time from taking healthcare away from the poor and working class to pay for tax cuts for >500k-per-year people. (Actually not even tax-cut ninjas because tax-cut EPIC FAIL THANK GOD.) (this time...)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What's at Stake with the GOP Senate "Healthcare" Bill, Beyond Simple Healthcare

Paul Krugman captures the truth in a simple graph:

The point is the Senate bill -- or BCRA -- is singularly ill-timed to serve the baby-boomer generation that by happenstance are reaching the critical care phase of their lives. If you cut Medicaid as the GOP wants to, you trap a whole generation in a vice of insufficient care (not all boomers have reached 65!) as well as booting many of them out of nursing homes. Who chooses to do that as public policy? Hmm... maybe the guys pictured below.

Assuming these guys aren't idiots, that answers the stupid-or-evil question.

From the Medicare page that speaks about long-term care (which Medicare doesn't cover):

How can I pay for nursing home care?

There are many ways you can pay for nursing home care. Most people who enter nursing homes begin by paying for their care out-of-pocket. As you use your resources (like bank accounts and stocks) over a period of time, you may eventually become eligible for Medicaid.
Got that? Whatever wealth you've acquired in your life is by design supposed to be eaten up by your long-term care. When it does, Medicaid is there. Unless, of course, the GOP gets its way. Holy shit. Talk about a death tax.

And just not to forget the rest of the poor and working class, regardless of age, the Senate bill dooms another 22 million to lose their coverage, though there's some overlap here. Anyway you look at it, it's a gruesome choice the GOP are making. People will die for tax cuts for the rich. Not close to funny.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Horrible Human Being Rises to the Top: AG Jeff Sessions Adopts All-Out Lying as a Legal Tactic

Hearing that Miami-Dade may have collapsed under the contemptible pressure tactics of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was disheartening. I hold out hope and expectations that other urban areas will be savvy enough to understand that Sessions' club is made of paper mâché.

What makes guys like this tick? Utter, outright racism. It's not complicated.

No, it's not complicated finding the motivation for an attorney general who was once denied the federal bench for being the racist that he is. But what stretches the imagination is that Sessions would imitate his boss, Donald Trump, whose pathological lying has gotten him to the White House with little other gear to help him get anything done.

And yet here we are, with Sessions threatening to withhold federal grants and such from jurisdictions that make themselves sanctuaries for undocumented workers. Nothing less than the Supreme Court has weighed in on such tactics -- on a number of cases -- and so Sessions should understand that he's already on thin ice. But that's not stopping him:
We’re familiar with President Trump’s dystopian vision of an America in chaos, preyed on by foreigners and awash in citizens violated by feral criminals and “illegals.” Through last year’s campaign and into this year, Trump has repeatedly lied about the national crime rate, murder rates and much more. Here though is a case where anti-immigrant policies continue to be justified by at least deliberately misleading statements and what can only be called incitement.
Here’s a statement released today by the Justice Department, justifying a letter sent out to nine so-called “sanctuary cities” threatening loss of federal funds if they don’t collaborate and assist Trump administration immigration policies.
Here’s the second paragraph (emphasis added) …
Additionally, many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime. The number of murders in Chicago has skyrocketed, rising more than 50 percent from the 2015 levels. New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s “soft on crime” stance. And just several weeks ago in California’s Bay Area, after a raid captured 11 MS-13 members on charges including murder, extortion and drug trafficking, city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next.
The second highlighted sentence doesn’t explicitly say the murder rate continues to rise in New York City. But that is certainly the intended impression, along with the dig at ‘soft on crime’ policies.
Read the rest of Josh Marshall's piece to discover what obvious horseshit these claims are. Crime and murder are way down, especially in New York City, and in any event undocumented workers commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.

Just to be clear, there's method to the madness of sanctuary cities. Not only is it a humane way to deal with a problem that's not going away anytime soon, but it's actually a law enforcement tool to reduce crime. NPR had a good piece on this:
But the available data on crime, immigration, and safety in cities does not support the premise for the president's actions. News outlets and researchers pointed out during the presidential campaign that immigrants who are in the country illegally are less likely to commit crimes or be incarcerated than the general population. The American Immigration Council noted in a 2015 study that the recent period of rising immigration to the United States from 1990 to 2013 also corresponded with plummeting crime rates across the country.
This past Thursday, a new study conducted Tom K. Wong, a political scientist at the University of California-San Diego, found that there are broad benefits for local jurisdictions that resist cooperating with federal immigration enforcement — they are safer in the aggregate and enjoy stronger economies. "For the first time we're kind of seeing that crime rates are lower when localities stay out of the business of federal immigration enforcement," Wong said.

You'd think an attorney general would want that. You'd be wrong.

We'll see if Sessions pulls off this corrupt bit of Kabuki theater. I say no. Will he become the newest resident of Bullshit Mountain, as Jon Stewart used to call it? It's pretty obvious he already has.