Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Hill — Trump: My first 100 days 'just about the most successful' ever

In Friday’s weekly address, President Trump said to America, “I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history. Our country is going up, and it's going up fast."

“A new optimism is sweeping our country as we return power from Washington and give it back to the American People, where it belongs,” according to Trump.

New polls, however, show Trump will conclude his first 100 days as the least popular president in modern history. And his first 100 days was an orgy of unnecessary cruelty.

Trump lives in his own delusional world. He’s not interested in facts or being honest with others. He’s a liar, it’s as simple as that. But for him, it works. The president knows that “through lies, boasts, and bombast.” he gets the media’s attention. It increases his brand identification, whether it is the result of good things or bad things, and that only benefits the Trump businesses’ bottom line.

Trump: My first 100 days 'just about the most successful' ever

By Nikita Vladimirov







Reuters: No vote on healthcare bill this week in U.S. House


Donald Trump knows how to enhance his own bottom line and knows how to work the media to his advantage, but as President of the United States, he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

For example President Trump didn’t know being president was hard work and complicated. He didn’t know that the United States could not negotiate a trade deal with Germany and must deal with the European Union. After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump realized the problem with North Korea was not so easy. After accusing China of currency manipulation, Trump learned that China no longer manipulated its currency. And he has realized that backing out of NATO wasn’t such a great idea.

And Trump said, “nobody knew health care could be this complicated.” It’s doubtful he really knows what benefits the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) actually provide.

Moreover, Trump didn’t know of the congressional procedures that forced him to push for health care changes before overhauling the tax code. “Trump has several times referred vaguely to complicated statutory requirements that forced him to prioritize Obamacare repeal. His explanations of this are invariably fuzzy because in fact there is no statutory requirement for him to do health care reform before he works on tax reform.”

Because of his ignorance, Trump is easily swayed by bad information.

The “ ‘health care before tax reform’ idea was simply Paul Ryan’s legislative strategy. Ryan wants to pass a tax reform plan with a party-line vote, which means he needs to use the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Senate filibuster.

“Ryan has his reasons for wanting to do it this way, and those reasons to involve procedural arcana. But nothing is being forced on anyone here. It’s simply a choice he made and then apparently tricked the president into endorsing.

“Trump’s basic worldview, as articulated on the campaign trail, was that all the major dilemmas of American public policy had easy solutions. The reason the problems had not been solved already was that America’s political leaders were too stupid, too corrupt, or too ‘politically correct’ to solve them.”

However, it looks like Trump is the one who is too stupid, too corrupt, and doesn’t understand that it takes a lot of political correctness—on many levels (words, actions, and knowledge of legislative procedure)—to get things done.

That’s why his first 100 days have not been successful. It’s why health care replacement and tax reform legislation as proposed will fail. It’s why “Trump is getting zilch from House Republicans.”

Robert Reich says, “Tonight, [Thursday] Republican House leaders couldn't muster enough votes on their revised bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill would have allowed states to opt out of the Act's central provisions: requiring coverage for “essential health benefits” such as maternity and preventive care, and barring insurers from charging people with pre-existing medical problems more than others. The revised bill would also cut Medicaid by $880 billion.

“House leaders need 216 votes to pass a bill. They couldn't get them because every House Democrat opposes their legislation, and more than 22 Republicans from districts that could flip to Democrats in 2018 also refused to go along.

“Trump is getting zilch from House Republicans. He couldn’t even get them to include money for his wall in the Republican bill to continue funding government.

“I think House Republicans are watching Trump’s sagging polls, chaotic White House, and blow-hard threats, and deciding they can buck him.”


By Susan Cornwell 















USA Today: Pope Francis warns in TED talk: 'Power can ruin you'

"People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people," he said. "And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves 'respectable,' of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road."

Capitalism is the culprit. Capitalism is a system that only nurtures winners, making most of us losers. It is what is responsible for so much suffering in the world. It's caused by the self-centeredness of the few who have money, and therefore have control over the lives of the rest of us.

To make things worse,  America now has a President Donald Trump, a Republican Congress, and a significant number of Americans who support them, capitalism and the free market system.

Trump and the Republican Party are among America's least compassionate. They offer no inspiration that things will improve for poor and middle-class Americans.

It means, if they get their way, most of us will experience greater hardships over the next four years.

"Pope Francis, an outspoken champion of science and technology, gave his own TED talk Tuesday night, speaking from the Vatican with a three-part message calling for a "revolution of tenderness" and warning those in power to act responsibly or "your power will ruin you."

"In his remarks, the pope addressed the connection between the rich and powerful and the less fortunate, with a pointed appeal to those with wealth and influence.

"He called for a 'revolution of tenderness' toward the weak, the poor, children and the 'sick and polluted earth' by everyone, particularly by the strong.

" 'Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly,' "If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: 'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.' You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.' "

Pope Francis warns in TED talk: 'Power can ruin you'

By Doug Stanglin

Friday, April 28, 2017

Inequality Media and Robert Reich: Climate and Inequality, the Result of Years of Living Dangerously



Robert Reich, as usual, offers sound perspectives regarding the relationship of climate change and widening inequality. He says that they are not two separate issues. They're intimately connected. And there's at least one solution to both. It can be a win-win proposition.





Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mother Jones: Why It's Impossible for Republicans to Investigate the Trump-Russia Scandal


Here's an excerpt from the Mother Jones' story:

“On Monday, Yahoo News broke an important—but unsurprising—story: the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal has made little progress, with its Republican chairman, Richard Burr of North Carolina, refusing to sign off on subpoenas and witness interviews and failing to devote to the inquiry sufficient staff power and resources.

“This was the latest blow to the effort to scrutinize Russia's effort to disrupt the 2016 election and the connections between Donald Trump's inner circle and Russians. Several weeks earlier, the House Intelligence Committee led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) imploded, when Nunes discredited himself with a bizarre stunt: He claimed he had obtained from secret sources classified evidence that Obama administration officials had improperly obtained the identities of Trump associates who were unintentionally picked up in intelligence intercepts, and he dashed to the White House to inform President Trump before sharing (and evaluating) this information with his staff and committee colleagues. It turned out Nunes' sources were White House officials and his conspiratorial characterization of the material was inaccurate and overblown. This curious episode led to the House Ethics Committee launching a probe into whether Nunes had revealed sensitive information, and Nunes recused himself from his committee's Russia investigation.

“All of this rigmarole leads to an obvious question: Can the Republicans mount an independent and effective investigation of Moscow's hacking during the 2016 campaign and the interactions between Trump's crew and Russia? There is now a good argument that the answer is no.

“It would take a Republican of tremendous fortitude and independence to withstand all the political pressure and lead a thorough, come-what-may probe that could end up blemishing if not endangering the Trump presidency. So far, no GOPer has assumed this role. And in today's hyperpartisan political environment, that may be too much to ask for. The alternatives, then, would be an independent, nonpartisan commission that was not part of Congress or a bipartisan select committee of Congress. The problem: Either one would have to be backed by the Republican leaders of Congress. (A commission, if created by an act of Congress, would have to be signed into existence by Trump.) That, too, would take more guts than most Republicans can muster when it comes to uncovering the truth about Putin's operation and Trump links to the regime that waged covert political warfare against the United States.”

Robert Reich’s opinion:

What happened to the promised investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election? The House intelligence committee has been plagued by infighting and missteps. While the Senate investigative committee has pledged a thorough probe, it’s done little so far -- no high-profile hearings, until very recently no full-time staff, and its few part-time staffers have no investigative experience or expertise with Russia.

Why? Look at history. When the parties are intensely polarized, congressional majorities investigate only when the White House is held by the other party. When different parties control the executive and legislative branches, congressional investigations multiply. But when the same party controls the White House and Congress, congressional investigations stall or disappear.

The period from 1898 to 1936 — from the Gilded Age to the depths of the Depression — was, like today, an era of deep partisan polarization. And since the Reagan era began in 1981, partisan polarization has increased steadily. In polarized eras (both in the early 20th century and today), when one party held both branches of government, the president’s partisan allies have routinely ignored calls for serious investigations.

In other words, don’t expect Republicans to investigate Trump’s Russian connection. It will only happen if and when Congress is flipped in 2018. Or if and when the intelligence agencies produce (or leak) a smoking gun.

Why It's Impossible for Republicans to Investigate the Trump-Russia Scandal

By David Corn









Democracy Now: Chomsky on the GOP: Has Any Organization Ever Been So Committed to Destruction of Life on Earth?


In an interview covering a variety of subjects, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman recently spoke with renowned linguist, political activist, and MIT’s Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky in Cambridge, MA.

Goodman began by asking Chomsky about a comment he made that the Republican Party was the most dangerous organization in world history.

Chomsky said that it’s an “extremely outrageous statement. But the question is whether it’s true. I mean, has there ever been an organization in human history that is dedicated, with such commitment, to the destruction of organized human life on Earth? Not that I’m aware of. Is the Republican organization . . . committed to that? Overwhelmingly. There isn’t even any question about it.”

Referring to the 2016 republican presidential campaign, Chomsky said that every single candidate either denied global warming or, as in the case of Jeb Bush, who said, "Maybe it’s happening. We really don’t know. But it doesn’t matter, because fracking is working fine, so we can get more fossil fuels."And then John Kasich admitted “global warming is going on,” but as Governor of Ohio “we’re going to go on using coal for energy, and we’re not going to apologize for it."

Chomsky added that because of the most dangerous organization in human history—the Republican Congress—the Paris Conference accord was effectively derailed.

“And it turns out that the most powerful country in human history, the richest, most powerful, most influential, the leader of the free world, has just decided not only not to support the efforts, but actively to undermine them. So there’s the whole world on one side, literally, at least trying to do something or other, not enough maybe, although some places are going pretty far, like Denmark, couple of others; and on the other side, in splendid isolation, is the country led by the most dangerous organization in human history, which is saying, "We’re not part of this. In fact, we’re going to try to undermine it." We’re going to maximize the use of fossil fuels—could carry us past the tipping point. We’re not going to provide funding for—as committed in Paris, to developing countries that are trying to do something about the climate problems. We’re going to dismantle regulations that retard the impact, the devastating impact, of production of carbon dioxide and, in fact, other dangerous gases—methane, others.

“And I don’t have to go through what’s happened since, but the—in general, the Cabinet appointments are designed to—assigned to people whose commitment and beliefs are that it’s necessary to destroy everything in their department that could be of any use to human beings and wouldn’t just increase profits and power. And they’re doing it very systematically, one after another. EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has been very sharply cut. Actually, the main department that’s concerned with environmental issues is the Department of Energy, which also had very sharp cuts, particularly in the environment-related programs. In fact, there’s even a ban on posting and publishing information and material about this.”

The Republican Party is dangerous. As Chomsky said, there should be no question about it. Trump's First 100 Days Was An Orgy Of Unnecessary Cruelty, acquiesced or otherwise supported by the Republican Party.
.
In addition to climate change, Goodman’s interview with Chomsky covers nuclear weapons, North Korea, Iran, the war in Syria and the Trump administration’s threat to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Read the transcript. As always Chomsky has interesting answers to Goodman’s questions.

Chomsky on the GOP: Has Any Organization Ever Been So Committed to Destruction of Life on Earth?

Here's the video:






The Hill: White House 'covering up' for Flynn



The Inspector General and the Department of Defense are now launching their own investigation into the former National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn. This latest twist in the Russia scandal was announced today during a news conference by Representative Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

"I honestly do not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it. After the president fired him for lying. So, the president fired him for lying about his communications with the Russian Ambassador. They should be bending over backwards to help us. It does not make any sense, and it makes the American people think the White House has something to hide.

“There's obviously a paper trail, ladies and gentlemen. There is a paper trail that the White House does not want our committee to follow, but let it be known that we will follow it. we will follow it with everything we've got." —Rep. Elijah Cummings

Robert Reich’s reaction:

This week is turning out to be a giant publicity stunt staged by Trump to disguise the fact that he’s accomplished almost nothing of his own agenda as his “first 100 days” deadline looms this Saturday (the “wall,” repeal of the Affordable Care Act, tax cuts, Muslim travel ban, labeling China a currency manipulator, renegotiating NAFTA, and so on).

He also wants to deflect attention from the latest news about Michael Flynn and the FBI investigation of his campaign and Russia (see below), and the mounting ethical bog of his White House and administration.

So Trump and the White House are:

1. Pushing the House to vote on another last-minute attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act, this one even worse than the last. But Democrats won’t budge, and it looks like moderate Republicans won’t vote for it. So right now it’s dead.

2. Pushing a tax-cut plan that will cause the federal debt to balloon $2 trillion over the next 10 years by giving giant tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy. Neither Democrats nor Republican deficit hawks will support it. So right now it’s dead, too.

3. Saber-rattling over North Korea. Yesterday the White House bussed the entire Senate to the White House for a briefing on North Korea. Senators later said that nothing new was revealed and they were “mystified” as to why they had to go to the White House.

4. Launching another a verbal war against the judiciary -- denigrating judges who have stopped both their Muslim travel ban and their attack on sanctuary cities, and threatening to break up the 9th circuit court of appeals.

Here's what you need to keep in mind: Whenever Trump wants press coverage, you can bet it’s a cover-up for something he doesn’t want the public to know about.

Cummings: White House 'covering up' for Flynn

By Katie Bo Williams







Things got interesting when Stephanopoulos asked Mnuchin about Trump's own tax returns


President Trump ran on a platform that promised no tax cuts for the rich. Now under a new proposed tax plan, it looks like the rich will get richer after all.

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about this today and he also asked how these tax cuts will help the middle class. The answer? Well, it doesn't look like there is a clear plan in place.

Things also got interesting when Stephanopoulos asked Mnuchin about Trump's own tax returns. Here's the interview.


Robert Reich: 5 Reasons Why Trump’s Corporate Tax Cut is Appallingly Dumb


President Donald Trump released his proposal of broad principles to overhaul the tax code on Wednesday. But it will not bear much resemblance to tax reform that Congress might legislate. For example, it’s likely Congress will not lower corporate and pass-through tax (business taxes that are passed through to personal income tax returns) rates to 15 percent. Without some way of compensating for low rates-like huge reductions in federal spending-these rates would result in a large increase in the national debt.

Here are some of the other tax reforms that Trump proposes:

The proposal reduces seven tax brackets to three brackets with tax rates at 10 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent.

“The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Part of Trump’s proposal calls for doubling the standard deduction that people can claim on their income tax returns. Gary Cohn, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council said that the higher standard deduction means that fewer people will have to file itemized deductions to reduce their taxable income, which could lead to a simpler tax return.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that most tax deductions are going away. All individual tax deductions would be eliminated with the exception of deductions related to home ownership and charitable contributions.

But here’s the real kicker: DONALD TRUMP STANDS TO MAKE MILLIONS OFF HIS OWN TAX PLAN

Here’s the Full text of Trump administration tax reform principles.

Robert Reich says Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, in order to “make the United States more competitive.”

This is truly dumb, for 5 reasons:

1. The White House says the United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Baloney. After corporate deductions and tax credits, the typical corporation pays an effective tax rate of 27.9 percent, only a tad higher than the average of 27.7 percent among advanced nations.

2. Trump’s corporate tax cut will bust the federal budget. According to the Congress’s own Join Committee on Taxation, it will reduce federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years. This will either require huge cuts in programs for the poor, or additional tax revenues from the rest of us.

3. The White House says the tax cuts will create a jump in economic growth that will generate enough new revenue to wipe out any increase in the budget deficit. This is supply-side nonsense. The Congressional Research Service reviewed tax cuts since 1945 and found no evidence they generate economic growth. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both cut taxes, and both ended their presidencies with huge budget deficits. Bill Clinton raised taxes, and the economy created more jobs than it did under Bush or Reagan.

4. American corporations don’t need a tax cut. They’re already hugely competitive as measured by their profits – which are at near record highs.

5. The White House says corporations will use the extra profits they get from the tax cut to invest in more capacity and jobs. Rubbish. They’re now using a large portion of their profits to buy back their shares of stock and to buy other companies, in order to raise their stock prices. There’s no reason to suppose they’ll do any different with even more profits.

Don’t fall for Trump’s corporate tax giveaway. It will be a huge windfall for corporations and a huge burden on ordinary Americans.

White House unveils dramatic plan to overhaul tax code in major test for Trump

By Damian Paletta

The Hill: Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him, a perspective from Robert Reich

Robert Reich:

One way dictators take over democracies is by threatening the independence of a nation’s courts.

Connect the following dots:

1. In January, Trump blasted a federal judge for staying his travel ban. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” he tweeted.

2. Then, after the judge made the stay permanent, Trump made it a personal vendetta: "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

3. Last week, after another federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking Trump’s travel ban, Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

4. On Tuesday, after another federal judge blocked the Trump administration from enforcing a threat to take away funds from sanctuary cities as an unconstitutional abridgement of Congress’s power to determine how dollars will be spent, the White House issued a statement condemning the judge as “unelected,” and charged that “this San Francisco judge's erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk. This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.”

5. On Wednesday, Trump said he was considering breaking up the court of appeals for the 9th Circuit, in which these three federal judges hear and decide cases. "There are many people who want to break up the 9th Circuit," he said. "It's outrageous." The 9th Circuit Court covers Arizona, California, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington and Hawaii, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Eighteen of the court's 25 judges were appointed by Democratic presidents.

It is the job of the Justice Department to provide a reasoned case for overruling a federal judge’s decision. In condemning federal judges and threatening to break up the 9th circuit court of appeals instead, Trump is attacking the foundations of the separation of powers in the Constitution.

This assault on the federal judiciary is an abuse of Trump’s constitutional authority – yet another ground for impeachment.

Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him

BY JOHN BOWDEN

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

USA Today: Federal judge blocks Trump plan to punish ‘sanctuary cities’


A U.S. federal judge in San Fransisco agreed with two California counties (San Francisco and Santa Clara) that Trump's Jan. 25 executive order, which would prevent them from receiving federal funding if they did not comply with federal deportation requests, is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick said the loss of funds would cause cities "to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction.

"The Constitution vests the spending power in Congress, not the president, so the order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds.”

Across the United Sates, there are approximately 300 jurisdiction that have adopted Sanctuary City policies. Policies that limit cooperation by state and local police from enforcing federal immigration policy.

Robert Reich wrote, “This is an unqualified early victory for California — and sanctuary cities across the nation that have said they'll refuse to comply with Trump administration's deportation requests. This includes some of the nation's largest cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

[In Massachusetts, Boston has an ordinance, enacted in 2014, that bars the Boston Police Department "from detaining anyone based on their immigration status unless they have a criminal warrant." Cambridge, Chelsea, Somerville, Orleans, Northampton, and Springfield have similar legislation.]

“Kudos to Judge Orrick. Shame on Trump and his Justice Department of Justice.”

Robert Reich: Trump's First 100 Days Was An Orgy Of Unnecessary Cruelty

Federal judge blocks Trump plan to punish ‘sanctuary cities’

Alan Gomez , USA TODAY









Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Business Insider: New Polls Show Trump Will Conclude His First 100 Days As The Least Popular President In Modern History



“President Donald Trump set another record low approval rating as he concludes his first 100 days in office, though his core supporters largely support his brief tenure.

“A Washington Post/ABC poll released on Sunday showed the new president with the lowest approval rating at this point of any president since the polling began in 1945 — 42% of respondents told pollsters they approved of his performance thus far, while 53% disapproved.

“An NBC poll released on Sunday showed similar results: Just 40% said they approved of Trump's job performance, a 4 percentage-point drop from February. Fifty-four percent disapproved, a 6 point increase.

“The polls continued to demonstrate that Trump did not experience the traditional honeymoon period most new presidents receive following the conclusion of the presidential election and the ceremonies associated with taking office.

“NBC pointed out that at similar points in their presidencies, President Barack Obama had a 61% approval rating, while President George W. Bush had a 56% approval rating and President Bill Clinton's was at 52%.

Since taking office, Trump's approval rating has hovered in the low-40's and even dipped into the high-30's, according to at least one major recent poll.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s congratulates President Trump. “He has set a new record—having the lowest approval rating of any president after the first three months in office. This tells us something very important. Americans clearly aren’t on board with his disastrous agenda: xenophobic immigration policies, throwing millions off health care, putting corporate profits over the safety of our environment, and many more horrible decisions. What we need to do is push a progressive agenda that brings people together and says, we can have health care for all people as a right. We can raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Climate change is not a hoax. The American people are on our side and this is how we can win.”

2 Major New Polls Show Trump Will Conclude His First 100 Days As The Least Popular President In Modern History

By Maxwell Tani









Robert Reich: Trump's First 100 Days Was An Orgy Of Unnecessary Cruelty


This Saturday marks Donald Trump’s first 100 days of his presidency.

Other than the successful nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the dropping of a ‘Yuge” bomb on Syria—if that should be determined an accomplishment—Trump has accomplished very little.

Trump has softened his demand for border wall funding because of the possibility of a government shutdown if he did not. A government shutdown would certainly mar his first 100 days. Now wouldn't it.

Of course, Trump touts successes for his first 100 days. He even has launched a website: President Trump's 100 Days of Historic Accomplishments.

Robert Reich says what Trump really accomplished in his first 100 days was an orgy of unnecessary cruelty.

I agree.

Reich’s Inequality Media lays it all out in his latest video.






Huffington Post: 7 Baffling Moments From Donald Trump’s AP Interview


Trump’s interview with Associated Press (AP) reporter Jackie Pace would be laughable if it were not for the fact that he is the President of the United States.

Leadership partly requires the ability to convey ideas, concepts, policy, and details. The President of a country must have the ability to comprehensively explain foreign policy issues. President Donald Trump does not possess any of these.

In the interview, Trump lacks details. His responses are wordy with an overuse, as usual, of superlatives. He uses “So many words, so little sense.”

Even the kids on Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots respond more appropriately and comprehensively than Donald Trump.

Under Trump, there clearly must be a question of the legitimacy of United States leadership and its institutions.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you're not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?

TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything's so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —

AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —

TRUMP: Number One, there's great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I'm saying to myself, "You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that's involved," because people could have been killed. This is risk that's involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet .... every decision is much harder than you'd normally make. (unintelligible) ... This is involving death and life and so many things. ... So it's far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ....The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.

AP: Right.

TRUMP. It's massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that's involved in some of the decisions.

“I would not inflict this on you except that I think it important you read it -- the full transcript of Trump's Friday interview with the White House correspondent for the Associated Press.

“It shows that we are dealing with someone who is becoming seriously unhinged -- not just a pathological narcissist but a borderline sociopath who will almost certainly self destruct.

“The question I keep asking myself is whether he'll self destruct in a relatively harmless way, or will take down many others with him.”Robert Reich

7 Baffling Moments From Donald Trump’s AP Interview

By Alana Horowitz Satlin












Monday, April 24, 2017

The Guardian: Taliban kill more than 140 Afghan soldiers at army base

From TomDispatch regarding “‘A Shortage of Coffins’ After Taliban Slaughter Unarmed Soldiers” published by the New York Times:

America's Afghan War is now in its 16th year and how's it goin'? An incident this last week, caught the carnage and horror of it -- a disguised group of Taliban militants broke into the country's largest military installation and slaughtered up to 200 unarmed Afghan soldiers. The answer, of course, is that 16 years later it's going terribly and the American response: drop the largest non-nuclear bomb on Earth in the backlands of that country and start thinking about sending a new mini-surge of U.S. troops there. And how will that go? Well, 16 years later, I think we have a clue or two as to how successful the latest round of U.S. tactics is likely to be.

William Astore gives three reasons why we Fail, Fail, and Fail Again. However, there is one more significant reason: Just perhaps the United States doesn’t want to succeed in Afghanistan: A Perpetual and Prosperous War: The lure of profit is an obstacle to world peace. Peace to the Pentagon and war profiteers clearly represent a conflict of interest.

“Wars without end” have become a windfall for the military and war’s dealers, the profiteers, financiers, industries, and contractors that find war and security extremely lucrative enterprises. A war without end maintains troops at combat-readiness, hardened and experienced, a level of readiness that training alone cannot duplicate. War enhances Congress’ willingness to authorize defense and security appropriations. It makes all those non-military industries that profit from war viable and prosperous. And, we have a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a “hidden world, growing beyond control,” whose supporting industries also maintain their viability and prosperity from America’s fear of the next terrorist attack. And, all offer secure employment for a significant number of Americans.

Essentially, Americans, the Pentagon, politicians, and capitalist do not have the will to end this absurdity. “And nowhere, not even in Iraq, is it clear that Washington is committed to packing up its tents, abandoning its billion-dollar monuments, and coming home.”

Unless the greater community of nations, the major countries that make up G-20 (group of 20), unite, by employing overwhelming force, to stop bloodshed where ever it may be and make a unified comment to end war and terrorism by ignoring the profits of war that contribute to their economies there will never be peace.

"It’s been sixteen years and counting, but we still don’t see the light. Maybe in another sixteen years?"

Afghan national army troops arrive near the site
 of an ongoing attack on an army headquarters
in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern 
Afghanistan on Friday.

 Photograph: Anil Usyan/Reuters

Taliban kill more than 140 Afghan soldiers at army base

















The Guardian: Trump push for border wall threatens to cause government shutdown


"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I build them very inexpensively." President Donald Trump

Trump demands that the federal funding of government for next year include the cost to build, according to him, an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall.”

With it comes the threat of a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t include funding fot the wall.

The funding will be expensive:

Trump claims his wall will cost $10bn to $12bn.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimates the cost between $12bn and $15bn.

“A study by the Washington Post estimated the cost of the president's wall would be closer to $25bn.”

“The 650 miles of fencing already put up has cost the government more than $7bn, and none of it could be described, even charitably, as impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful or beautiful.

“There are other reasons the costs would be likely to escalate beyond Mr. Trump's price tag - his plans require extending the wall into increasingly remote and mountainous regions, raising the building costs substantially.

“Adding even more to the expense, the new 1,000 miles would crisscross private land, which would have to be purchased, perhaps by legal force, or financial settlements made with owners,” according to the BBC.

TomDispatch says, Honestly, here's the joke story of the week (in my opinion) -- even if it is the darkest of humor. The president may shut down the government on -- exactly -- his 100th day in office and deport it for not building his wall! 

Here are the opening paragraphs from the Guardian:

"Looming above Washington as Congress and the White House attempt to avert a funding shutdown in only five days’ time, Donald Trump’s central campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border threatens to bring the US government to a halt this week in a national display of dysfunction.

"On Sunday, even White House officials expressed uncertainty about whether the president would sign a funding bill that did not include money for a wall, which Trump has promised since the first day of his presidential campaign.

“We don’t know yet,” said the White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, on Fox News Sunday. “We are asking for our priorities.”

"The president himself waded into the negotiations on Sunday, holding out two sticks and no carrot. ‘ObamaCare is in serious trouble,’ he tweeted. ‘The Dems need big money to keep it going – otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.’

“ ‘The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,’ he continued, suggesting he would accuse Democrats of being soft on international crime.

"But Trump also retreated from a related pledge to the American people: that he would ‘make Mexico pay’ for the wall, which is estimated to cost billions.

“ ‘Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall,’ the president tweeted, without offering a plan or timeline.

"Without a deal, funding for the government will run out at midnight on 28 April, Trump’s 100th day in office. The secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday he suspected the president would push for the wall."

Donald Trump softened his line on
making Mexico pay. ‘Eventually,
but at a later date so we can get
started early, Mexico will be paying,
in some form, for the badly needed
border wall,’ he tweeted.

Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP
Trump push for border wall threatens to cause government shutdown













Sunday, April 23, 2017

Robert Reich on Trump’s First 100 Days


Trump's failure to accomplish little or any of his agenda during his first 100 days is striking. But I think it also important to focus on the vast harm he has done in this comparatively short time -- especially his degradation of the presidency.

From early in the Republic, we have looked at the office of the presidency as a focal point for the nation's values. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and his Teddy's fifth cousin, Franklin, are studied by school children as both exemplars of what it means to be president and of the moral authority of the presidency. It is not merely what they accomplished, but how they did it; not just their policies but their principled ways of pulling them off.

True, many of our presidents have fallen short of those ideals. But the sadness or rebuke engendered by their failures reveals the high standard we had come to expect from our presidents, and the value we place on the office of the presidency.

But not until Trump has the moral authority of the office disappeared.

I'm old enough to recall when John F. Kennedy invited the world's great artists, writers, and philosophers to dine at the White House. The nation felt ennobled. Donald Trump invites Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent, who once called President Obama a "mongrel," and we feel sullied.

But it has not been just Trump's vulgarity.

There have also been Trump's lies -- blatant, continuous, unsubstantiated, even after the lack of evidence has been pointed out repeatedly. They are lies that deepen Americans' suspicion of one another and undermine our confidence in our system of government, such as his repeated contention that "three to five million" people voted illegally in the last election, or that Obama spied on Trump during the campaign.

Prior presidents have embellished the truth or, occasionally, lied about a particular important thing, such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction. But before Trump we have never before had a president who chronically lies, whose lies have become an integral part of his presidency even in the first 100 days.

There has also been Trump's vast family business -- from which he continues to benefit, even though the decisions he makes in office affect the money he makes off of them, and foreign governments cater to them in order to curry favor. He shrugs off such conflicts, even refusing to release his tax returns, even inviting his daughter and son-in-law, each with their own businesses and conflicts of interest, to join him at the highest reaches of the White House.

Some presidents have profited from their presidencies after they leave office, through large speaking fees. But never before Trump have we had a president for whom conflicts of financial interest during his presidency are so flagrant yet so ignored.

The first 100 days has also been marked by Trump's divisiveness -- turning Americans against each other, legitimizing hatefulness toward Mexican-Americans and Muslim-Americans and African-Americans, fueling violence between his supporters and his opponents.

We have had divisive elections before. But after them, other presidents have sought to bring us together. Even after the horrors of the Civil War, Lincoln famously asked us to rejoin without malice. Trump seems to delight in creating and and encouraging warring camps -- calling his opponents "enemies," and staging rallies only for his bedrock supporters.

There has also been Trump's necessary cruelty -- toward refugees, undocumented immigrants, and the poor among us. He has issued a budget that would deeply harm the least advantaged Americans, and supported a repeal of the Affordable Care Act that would also hurt those most in need.

He has refused asylum to refugees at a time when the world faces the largest refugee crisis since World War II, and unleashed immigration enforcers on 11 million people who are not authorized to be in America but many of whom have been productive members of their communities for years. He has even deported people who have been here since childhood and know know no other nation.

Other presidents have on occasion been hard and cruel. But Trump has evinced a cruelty that defies reason, a cruelty that has no basis in fact and is utterly unnecessary.

There has been Trump's affect on the rest of the world -- legitimizing crude nationalism and hateful xenophobia, as evinced by France's Marine Le Pen, encouraging dictators and authoritarians, such as Turkey's Erdogan, while confusing our allies and friends.

Finally, there is Donald Trump himself -- who in the first 100 days as president has shown himself to be narcissistic, compassionless, xenophobic, paranoid, vindictive, and thin-skinned; who takes credit for the work of others and blames others for his own failings; who lashes out at the press and journalists when they criticize him, and who demonizes judges who disagree with him.

We have before had presidents such as Richard Nixon and Warren G. Harding, whose personality defects harmed their presidencies and tainted the office of the president. But Donald Trump is in a different league altogether. He exhibits the opposite of every civic virtue ever encouraged in our school rooms, town halls, and churches.

The first 100 days is an artificial landmark for presidents. But it does offer an opportunity to pause and assess their accomplishments. Too often, though, we think in the narrow gauge of policies and legislation.

With Trump, it's important to think more broadly. Among the biggest legacies of his first 100 days is his degrading of the moral authority of the office of the president, and, thereby, of America.


Trump’s First 100 Days

by Robert Reich
















N.Y. Times: 4 Hours at the White House with Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, and Kid Rock.


Ted Nugent with Donald Trump

"David Crosby and Ted Nugent have engaged in a war of words following the ultra-conservative rocker's White House visit.

"On Thursday, Nugent and Kid Rock served as Sarah Palin's guests when the former vice presidential candidate visited Donald Trump in the White House. Nugent later posted a photo of him and Trump, which Crosby retweeted with the caption, 'This picture says it all... the two most insincere smiles in history what a pair of assholes.'

"Nugent was informed of Crosby's tweet Friday during an interview with WABC Radio's Rita Cosby and lit into the CSNY singer. 'David Crosby, he's kind of a lost soul, and he's done so much substance abuse throughout his life that his logic meter is gone," Nugent said. "His reasoning and his depth of understanding is pretty much gone, so it doesn't surprise me, I feel quite sad for the guy,' " according to Rolling Stone.

As Robert Reich says now that is real "Classy." But, then again, why would anyone think anything different about Trump's White House.

Here's Robert Reich's take:

I’m old enough to remember when John F. Kennedy invited the world’s greatest artists, writers, scientists, and philosophers to dine in the White House. The entire nation felt ennobled.

This week, Trump invited Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and Sarah Palin.

Nugent once referred to former President Barack Obama as a “mongrel.” He has said he wanted to shoot former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and called for Obama and Hillary Clinton to be assassinated. In 2012, after making a threatening remark about Obama, Nugent was the subject of a Secret Service investigation.

As Trump’s dinner guest, Nugent was asked if he regretted his comments about Obama and Clinton. He responded, “No! I will never apologize for calling out evil people.”

Sarah Palin needs no introduction. During the 2012 campaign, she accused Obama of viewing America “as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

Kid Rock, whose legal name is Robert Ritchie, rode the short-lived country-rap-rock music fad, famously arguing he was an American badass in the hit song “American Bad Ass.” He was briefly married to the actress Pamela Anderson.

When Trump gave the three of them a tour of the White House and they came to Hillary Clinton’s portrait, a member of the group asked the three to extend their middle fingers beneath the portrait, according to Nugent. They chose instead to sneer, as shown in the photo below.

Classy.

One of Trump’s major accomplishments in his first 100 days has been to demean and degrade both the 0ffice of the presidency and the White House. Rather than feel ennobled, I suspect most Americans feel saddened and embarrassed.

4 Hours at the White House with Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, and Kid Rock.






Life nowadays, Perfectly telling the way it is.

We had a problem before Donald Trump. But now it will be even worse.

NCR Today: Pope Francis' message faces intensifying criticism


“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”
― William J. Toms

To those who voted for and continue to support Donald Trump. Here’s a message for you. Particularly those who claim to be Christians.

To others who too have a problem with the presence in our country of Muslims, homeless people, poor people, immigrants . . . illegal or not, and refugees, this message is for you too.

“If some are made uncomfortable, it’s supposed to be that way. It is supposed to help nudge you out of the darkness. During the life of Jesus on this planet, he made some people uncomfortable too.” ― JoAngela Morin

Here’s the full text of Pat Perriello’s “Pope Francis' message faces intensifying criticism.”

“A parish priest in the Italian town of Montesilvano has criticized Pope Francis during Mass. Fr. Edward Pushparaj from India said that Francis has been only bad for the church, referring to Francis washing the feet of a Muslim woman during his 2013 Holy Thursday liturgy. Many angry parishioners walked out of the small church in Montesilvano.

“It seems that criticism of Francis is increasing and becoming more overt and intense. What is it about Francis that is making him a more and more controversial figure? One reason, of course is that he has created a more open papacy in which dissent is tolerated and even encouraged. The opportunity to share one’s thoughts, however, should not include being disrespectful.

“It is also fair to say that there is a growing sentiment in the United States and parts of Europe that stands in opposition to many of this pope's priorities. Francis stresses mercy and compassion. He expects us to exercise a sense of caring for the thousands upon thousands of refugees, including women and children, who are desperate to find some place for their families to live without fear of violence.

“On one level, Francis’ message seems quintessentially Christian. How can any Christian disagree with a message of love that reaches out to help others? Caring for the poor is at the heart of the Francis Gospel. Bible stories of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, and the woman caught in adultery exemplify the Christianity espoused by Francis. People are more important than rules. Salvation comes from how we treat other people rather than strict adherence to a codified set of proscriptions.

“Yet, it seems that too many people are concerned only about their own personal needs. Little interest is paid to the needs of others. Laws are made to enhance the wealth of those who are already wealthy and deny benefits to those in need. No one wants to hear the cry of the poor. Who will advocate for their needs?

“Fear of those who look different or hold different religious beliefs is fostered with little or no attention to the relevant facts. Immigrants seeking a better life for their families are being returned to their country of origin, regardless of what dangers they may face there. The fact they may have lived almost their entire lives in this country means nothing. Foreigners who we think may be dangerous because of their religion are denied entrance. Refugees are left to linger in inhospitable camps with no hope in sight.  

“Francis becomes the voice of one crying in the wilderness. We need to join our voices to his, and to those of the parishioners who walked out of that small church in Italy. We need to remind those who have forgotten that we are all neighbors, and whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for the Lord.” 

Pope Francis' message faces intensifying criticism
By Pat Perriello

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dr. Robert Lanza: Is Death An Illusion? Evidence Suggests Death Isn’t the End


Ultimate Reality
This post requires open-mindedness and the ability to think outside of the box . . . another perspective. It's not atheistic to believe there is an alternate view other than the Bible. There is an ultimate reality. It's perfectly okay if we call that reality  God.

Dr. Robert Lanza, head of Astellas Global Regenerative Medicine, Chief Scientific Officer of the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Adjunct Professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, “provides a compelling argument for consciousness as the basis for the universe, rather than consciousness simply being its by-product.”

Dr. Lanza seems to be given credit for some thinking that has been in the scientific communtity-particularly in the world of Quantum Physics-for quite a while. What is fairly new is the perspective that death is an illusion created by our consciousness. But the concept of illusions produced be the brain are not new. These views are profound, but as yet, are not accepted by most people.

Central to his perspective is biocentrism. It’s his ‘theory of everything.’ He just might be right. It basically means the ‘life centre’ and is the belief that life and biology are central to reality and that life creates the universe, not the other way round.

“According to biocentrism, space and time aren’t the hard, cold objects we think. Wave your hand through the air – if you take everything away, what’s left? Nothing. The same thing applies for time. Space and time are simply the tools for putting everything together.” Therefore death and the idea of immortality exists in a world without space and time boundaries.

Lanza provides an example of what he means: “Consider the weather ‘outside’: You see a blue sky, but the cells in your brain could be changed so the sky looks green or red. In fact, with a little genetic engineering we could probably make everything that is red vibrate or make a noise, or even make you want to have sex like with some birds. You think its bright out, but your brain circuits could be changed so it looks dark out. You think it feels hot and humid, but to a tropical frog it would feel cold and dry. This logic applies to virtually everything. Bottom line: What you see could not be present without your consciousness.”

Our purpose in life is our evolution. It’s the process of making this a better world. Having an open-mind and being receptive to new ideas is a significant part of the evolutionary process. It will bring us where we want to go-a progression not regression-at least for me, and I hope for you.

Who knows. Someday we may even be able to walk on water.

Is Death An Illusion? Evidence Suggests Death Isn’t the End













Chicago Tribune: Battle for Berkeley: Will Ann Coulter spark another clash?


Ann Coulter, the right-wing hate-monger and regular contributor to Breitbart News, was invited to speak at University of California, Berkeley, the most liberal university in the country.

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks canceled the original date of the invitation, April 27th, and instead proposed an alternate May 2 date. But Coulter said, "I'm speaking at Berkeley on April 27th, as I was invited to do and have a contract to do."

Now, “The campus is bracing for trouble next week . . . Officials, police and even the campus Republicans who invited Coulter say there is reason to fear violence in what is being called the Battle for Berkeley.”

“Berkeley's reputation as one of the country's most liberal universities, in one of America's most liberal cities, has made it a flashpoint for the nation's political divisions in the era of Donald Trump.

“The campus and the city itself have become a target for militant right-wing organizations that have clashed in recent months with militant left-wing or anarchist groups from the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Robert Reich says, “I'm glad the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, has reversed its decision and is now allowing Ann Coulter to speak.

"Free speech is the central idea of a university. If unpopular views can't be expressed at a university, university education is severely compromised, and the First Amendment is reduced to a popularity contest.

"Speech should not be blocked because it's offensive, provocative, or even hateful. The essence of education is provocation. Students should be able to directly hear and question someone who utters offensive or hateful things so they can understand why such statements are brainless and vacuous, and also gain a deeper appreciation for openness and tolerance.

"The only exception is when hateful speech is calculated to -- and is likely to -- incite violence by others toward groups or people against whom the hateful speech is directed. But even then, universities must make every effort to protect those individuals or groups rather than prevent such speech.

"One of Trump's worst legacies after nearly 100 days of this, the worst of all American presidencies so far, is his legitimizing of hate in America and elsewhere around the world. But the proper response is not to try to shut it up. That only allows hatefulness to fester and even become politically subversive. A better alternative is to allow it to express itself, so everyone can behold its fatuousness and moral bankruptcy."


Ann Coulter rejects UC Berkeley's rescheduling, vows to keep original speech date

By Jocelyn Gecker
Associated Press






Friday, April 21, 2017

AP Explains: How a single Trump sentence enraged South Korea


“U.S. President Donald Trump's apparently offhand comment after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — that ‘Korea actually used to be a part of China’ — has enraged many South Koreans.

“The historically inaccurate sentence from a Wall Street Journal interview bumps up against a raft of historical and political sensitivities in a country where many have long feared Chinese designs on the Korean Peninsula. It also feeds neatly into longstanding worries about Seoul's shrinking role in dealing with its nuclear-armed rival, North Korea.

“Ahn Hong-seok, a 22-year-old college student, said that if Trump ‘is a person capable of becoming a president, I think he should not distort the precious history of another country.’

“Many here assume that Xi fed that ahistorical nugget to Trump, who also admitted that after 10 minutes listening to Xi, he realized that Beijing's influence over North Korea was much less than he had thought.”

Here's why Trump's comments strike a nerve in South Korea:

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
AP Explains: How a single Trump sentence enraged South Korea

By Kim Tong-Hyung












Robert Reich addressed the issue:

Trump's offhand comment after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — that "Korea actually used to be a part of China" — has enraged South Korea.

1. First, it’s not true. "Throughout the thousands of years of relations, Korea has never been part of China, and this is a historical fact that is recognized internationally and something no one can deny," said a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday, and almost all historians agree.

2. It's also a super-sensitive issue, since South Korea worries that in order to get China to put more influence on North Korea, the United States might loosen its protections of the South. Insecurities about both China's and Trump's intentions in the region will be among the big issues as South Koreans vote next month for their next president.

3. Finally, it plays right into South Korean nationalism. Korean newspapers lashed out at Trump over the comments, and at Xi for allegedly feeding the U.S. president Chinese-centric views.


Most U.S. presidents are carefully briefed before they talk about other countries. Trump blabs about anything, and doesn’t know what a briefing is.






Robert Reich: Trump’s hatefulness is extending around the world


“A deadly shootout on Paris’s best-known boulevard darkened the final day of campaigning Friday in France’s pivotal presidential election, as President Trump predicted that the attack would help shape the outcome of voting Sunday, primarily benefiting far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

“Trump told the Associated Press that the assault on French police Thursday night would ‘probably help’ Le Pen, who has raised many of the same anti-immigrant and security issues that were pushed by Trump during his campaign. Trump said he was not explicitly endorsing Le Pen but that he believes she is the candidate who is ‘strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,’ AP reported.”

According to Robert Reich, “For Trump to use yesterday’s deadly shootout on Paris’s best-known boulevard to try to score political points for far-right Marine Le Pen – who has based her campaign on the same sort of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hatemongering that Trump used in his campaign – is contemptible.

“And it plays right into the “war of civilizations” that Islamic extremists seek. The timing of Thursday’s attack seemed to have been linked to the election, coming just as the 11 candidates were speaking in a televised debate event before a reported audience of millions.

“Trump’s hatefulness is extending around the world. Humankind is already paying a price.”

Trump predicts deadly Paris shooting will have ‘big effect’ on key French election

By James McAuley

Washington Times: Trump raises stakes on government shutdown, demands border wall funds in spending bill


“The White House said Thursday that it wants to see money for President Trump’s border wall included in the spending bill Congress must pass next week — a demand Democrats said sours negotiations and makes a government shutdown more likely.

“The demands mark a reversal for the administration, which had been saying it found enough money to build prototypes this year and wouldn’t need a major infusion of cash until next year.

“But White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the wall and the money for more immigration agents are priorities.”

Robert Reich concurs and writes, “Let me get this straight. Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall. But Mexico said it wouldn’t.

“So Trump asked congressional Republicans to vote the funds to pay for the wall. But even though Republicans are in the majority, many Republicans have refused.

“So now Trump is threatening Democrats that if they don’t vote to pay for his wall by midnight next Friday, he’ll let the government shut down.

“Even though it’s Trump's government now.

“Am I missing something here?”

(Associated Press/File)
Trump raises stakes on government shutdown, demands border wall funds in spending bill

By Stephen Dinan





Bill Moyers: 100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 2


Bill Moyers:

In part two of his series, "100 days of Deconstruction," Stephen Harper dives into the deep cuts at federal agencies designed to improve people's lives
.
Harper looks at what the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, the secretary of health and human services, Tom Price, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been up to during Trump’s first 100 days.

In part one, Harper examines the records of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

Here’s a snippet of Harper’s essay:

Beware of the enemy within. With respect to the US government, the ultimate inside job is well underway. Through key Cabinet appointments, Trump is gutting federal agencies that have improved citizens’ daily lives in ways that most Americans will no longer take for granted.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

In her confirmation hearing, billionaire Betsy DeVos made the world painfully aware that she isn’t an educator or expert in curriculum. She’s not familiar with the decades-old Individuals with Disabilities Act, or the fraudulent for-profit colleges and graduate schools that exploit their students. She seems unconcerned about the funding crisis that confronts public education in America. But she has all of the credentials required to serve in the Trump administration: She’s a billionaire with a mission to destroy the federal department she now heads.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price

Tom Price is an orthopedic surgeon who seems to have forgotten his profession’s seminal creed, “First, do no harm.” As a Georgia congressman, Price was among the most prominent critics of Obamacare, which has provided more than 20 million citizens with health insurance that they otherwise would not have. As the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he is now working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions is just the person to send the federal agency charged with the pursuit of justice on a one-way ride back to a time of unspeakable injustice. In 1985 he led the prosecution of three African-American voter rights activists for voter fraud. As the US attorney for the southern district of Alabama, Sessions lost that case. Ruling that his theory was contrary to election law and the Constitution, the judge threw out many of the counts and a jury acquitted the defendants of everything else. A year later, even the Republican-controlled Senate considered Sessions too racist to become a federal judge after President Reagan nominated him.

Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images
100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 2

By Steven Harper







Thursday, April 20, 2017

NY Times: White House Officials, Craving Progress, Push Revised Health Bill; Robert Reich Commentary


“White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a Republican health care bill before his 100th day in office next week.”

Robert Reich says, “Keep this date in mind. Trump’s first hundred-day mark is reached a week from Saturday, on April 29.

“That date is not only a symbolic watershed – presidents have been judged on what they accomplish during their first hundred days since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s extraordinary round of lawmaking during his first hundred days in 1933.

“But this April 29 also happens to be when much of the federal government will run out of money. Reaching agreement on a measure to keep the government open past midnight on April 28 should be the first priority of Republican leaders when Congress returns Monday from a two-week spring recess.

“The question will be what games they’ll choose to play to get what they want. The difference between their former threats to close government and the situation now is that that they now control the White House and both houses of Congress.

“If they can’t get the votes for what they want, it’s their fault. If they close government down, it’s their fault. And the fact that Donald Trump is reaching his 100th day in office – almost completely devoid of accomplishment – is also their fault.”


White House Officials, Craving Progress, Push Revised Health Bill

By Matt Flegenheimer And Reed Abelson