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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 29,890

Journal Archives

Dems see huge field emerging to take on Trump

BY AMIE PARNES - 07/20/17 06:54 AM EDT

Democrats are expecting one of their party’s biggest fields in history will battle to take on President Trump in the 2020 election.

They say Trump’s low approval ratings, his lack of legislative accomplishments and the lingering controversy surrounding multiple investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 race have a number of Democrats positioning themselves for a White House run.

“So long as Trump is hanging around [with approval ratings] in the 40s, potential challengers will be attracted like moths to a flame,” said David Wade, a Democratic strategist who served as a top aide to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in his 2004 presidential run.

Another factor? The lack of a whale candidate who might scare off other rivals.

For the first time since Kerry was the party’s nominee, no one named Clinton or Obama is expected to run for the Democratic nomination.


GOP reverses course on healthcare

Source: The Hill


Senate Republican leaders are desperately searching for the 50 votes they need to open a debate on ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation after a Wednesday scolding at the White House from President Trump.

Leaders have reopened negotiations on their previous bill, reversing course from their plans to move to a vote on a straight repeal of ObamaCare. But it’s not clear if they will have any more luck this time in corralling enough centrist and conservative Republicans to move the bill forward.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs to win 50 votes to proceed and has faced opposition from conservatives, who believe the previous bill kept too much of ObamaCare, and centrists, who think it would leave too many people without affordable insurance.

GOP leaders haven’t closed the door on bringing a straight repeal of ObamaCare, with a two-year delay, to the floor.

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/342850-trump-tries-to-save-health-repeal

The Times Interview, Annotated - Josh Marshall

By JOSH MARSHALL Published JULY 20, 2017 11:24 AM

Entirely unsurprisingly, the new New York Times interview with President Trump shows he has learned nothing from the biggest mistakes of the first six months of his presidency. He has turned completely against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of his staunchest loyalists, who he now blames for essentially launching the Russia probe. He is also lashing out at Rod Rosenstein. Sessions and Rosenstein, were complicit, substantively if not legally, in firing FBI Director James Comey, what I believe is to date the greatest impeachable offense of his Presidency. He is setting out the terms upon which he will fire Robert Mueller. He inexplicably admitted to using his second conversation with Vladimir Putin to discuss the issues that had come up a year ago in that Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr.

You’ve heard about those. What I was almost more interested was the litany of bizarre and often inexplicable statements and claims that came before he even got to those issues. So I took a moment to annotate each of these passages …



Insurance For $12? Trump Betrays Health Care Ignorance In NYT Interview

By ALICE OLLSTEIN Published JULY 20, 2017 11:13 AM

President Donald Trump’s interview with the New York Times on Wednesday garnered headlines for comments in which he lashed out at his own attorney general for recusing himself from the federal Russia probe and warned special counsel Bob Mueller not to look too closely into his personal finances and business ties.

But the President’s comments on health care—relevant as he involves himself in the Senate’s struggle to repeal the Affordable Care Act—are just as shocking, revealing a deep ignorance of the basic parameters of the American health care system.

Asked by the Times’ Maggie Haberman about the political difficulty of taking away a benefit that the American people have gotten used to—namely, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and generous tax credits—Trump gave a rambling answer describing a fantastical system where insurance costs just $12 per year and that money accrues in some sort of account over one’s lifetime:

“As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.”

Possibly confusing health insurance with life insurance, Trump seemed unaware that health care premiums can cost hundreds of dollars per month, even for a young, healthy individual.


No, President Trump, Sessionss recusal is not 'very unfair' to you. This is Ethics 101 - Ruth Marcus

July 20 at 10:14 AM

It is no surprise, but it is still a shock, to see how little President Trump understands about the independence of the Justice Department and the importance of the rule of law.

Trump’s jaw-dropping interview with the New York Times featured an unprecedented and unvarnished invitation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to quit. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, Jeff, Trump might as well have said.

Sessions’s sin is failing to do his job, which, as Trump sees it, is not overseeing the impartial administration of justice but assiduously protecting the legal interests of Donald J. Trump. Thus, in Trump’s view, it was “very unfair to the president” — actually, “extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word” — for Sessions to have recused himself from overseeing the department’s probe into Russian meddling into the election and the possible role of the Trump campaign.

Let us review the facts and the law. The facts: Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump and served as a close campaign adviser. That is conflict enough, but he piled conflict on conflict by meeting during the campaign with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then omitting to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee of the meetings when questioned about it.

The law: Justice Department regulations provide that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship” with the subject of the investigation or “any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.” A political relationship “means a close identification with an elected official … arising from service as a principal adviser thereto.”


Trump's deeply worrisome New York Times interview reveals a lawless president - By Greg Sargent

July 20 at 10:45 AM


President Trump’s extended, rambling new interview with the New York Times provides perhaps the clearest picture yet of his conviction that he is above the law — a conviction, crucially, that appears to be deeply felt on an instinctual level — and of his total lack of any clear conception of the basic obligations to the public he assumed upon taking office.

There are numerous worrisome moments in this interview, from his incoherence on the health-care debate (“preexisting conditions are a tough deal”) to his odd asides about history (Napoleon “didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death”). But I wanted to highlight the sum total of the picture that results from three things Trump said:

* Trump flatly declared that if Attorney General Jeff Sessions had told him in advance that he would recuse himself from the Russia probe, “I would have picked somebody else.” Just as bad, Trump also said that Sessions’s recusal was “very unfair to the president,” i.e., unfair to him.

* Trump said clearly that if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is examining his family’s finances, he would view that as an abuse of his role. While Trump declined to say whether he would try to get Mueller removed, he said he would view any such overstepping as a “violation.”

* In at least two exchanges, Trump was asked directly about the fact that Donald Trump Jr.’s email chain showed that the information offered to his campaign in advance of the now-notorious meeting came from the Russian government. In one of them, he strongly suggested that being open to such information was no biggie. In the other, he dismissed the offer itself as “standard political stuff.”

First, Sessions. The attorney general recused himself from overseeing the FBI probe into Russia’s undermining of our election, and possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, because it had become obvious that he could not preside over an impartial investigation, given the lack of clarity around his own dealings with Russia while serving on the Trump campaign. Reading this interview, I think it is not clear that Trump even grasps the idea that the public deserves an investigation that follows rules and procedures designed to bolster confidence that it will be impartial.


Kobach is a 'useful idiot' for Russia - By Jennifer Rubin

July 20 at 11:15 AM

Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, candidate for governor and the vice chairman of President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, leads the widely ridiculed group supposed to investigate millions of illegal voters, whom the president seems to believe cast votes for Hillary Clinton. The idea is preposterous, lacks any evidence according to the people who know (secretaries of state from 50 states) and appears to be a thinly-veiled effort to ratchet up voting restrictions (which, incidentally, federal courts are now routinely striking down).

Vice President Pence, who has been put in charge of this operation (although Kobach is running the show) must realize his group’s credibility is nearly nonexistent. At its first meeting Wednesday, he therefore insisted, “This commission — let me be clear — this commission has no preconceived notions or preordained results.” He added, “We’re fact-finders. And in the days ahead, we will gather the relevant facts and data, and at the conclusion of our work, we will present the president with a report of our findings.” Now if you believe this group of vocal activists who have perpetuated the idea that widespread voting fraud is real are open-minded, we have a bridge to sell you. But at least Pence understands the commission is on thin ice with not just Democrats but all sensible Americans. Not Kobach.

Kobach quickly confirmed suspicions that he and his commission members are, well, crackpots. Asked if he thinks Clinton won the popular vote, he blithely proclaimed, “We will probably never know the answer to that question. Because even if you could prove that a certain number of votes were cast by ineligible voters, for example, you wouldn’t know how they voted.” What?! “What we really (will) never know is how otherwise smart people allow themselves to be part of a giant goat rope meant to validate the lunatic tweets of a president deeply insecure about losing the popular vote,” wisecracked GOP operative and #NeverTrumper Rick Wilson. To be clear once again, there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

Moreover, if we don’t know if Clinton won the popular then do we know Trump won states that made up his electoral college majority? Asked if “the votes for Donald Trump that led him to win the election (are) in doubt as well,” he replied, “Absolutely.” Thunk.

“This is what happens when you have a president making policy based on his own lies — you have to keep telling that lie, even when the logical extension is questioning the president’s own election, as Kobach conceded,” former Justice Department public relations director Matt Miller told me. “The problem is that the policy that will be produced will be deeply damaging to millions of Americans.”


For 1st time, over half of people with HIV taking AIDS drugs

Source: Associated Press


LONDON (AP) — For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries. Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.

“When you think about the money that’s been spent on AIDS, it could have been better,” said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London. She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries.

“The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down,” Harman said, warning that some countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own.

Read more: https://apnews.com/fe79f17fc9614e41af2cd99c25cb01fa/For-1st-time,-over-half-of-people-with-HIV-taking-AIDS-drugs

Rand Paul Agrees With Trump: Sessions Shouldn't Have Recused Himself

Source: Talking Points Memo

By NICOLE LAFOND Published JULY 20, 2017 10:44 AM

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) came to President Donald Trump’s defense on Thursday.

In an interview in the New York Times Wednesday, Trump told the paper he would not have hired Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he knew that Sessions would ultimately recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation.

“You know, I think the President has a point, because the thing here is if everybody is going to recuse themselves just for incidental contact, I think you don’t get really good governance,” Paul said in an interview on “Fox and Friends,” the President’s favored morning news show. “I believe that Jeff Sessions’ contact with the Russians was incidental. In the usual duties of being in Senate, and it being incidental, he should have stayed in the fray and been more supportive of the President.”

Paul went on to rail against Sessions for his actions enforcing asset forfeiture policy, which he says gives the attorney general the power to disproportionately take property from minority and low-income people.

“I think we shouldn’t take people’s property without conviction. This is something I believe very strongly in, and I’m disappointed that Sessions is going after a lot of poor minorities to take their property without due process,” he said.


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-paul-agrees-with-trump-sessions-shouldnt-have-recusedhimself

Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while SoS Tiller was CEO

Source: Associated Press

Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while Secretary of State Tillerson was CEO

By Associated Press July 20 at 10:20 AM

WASHINGTON — Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while Secretary of State Tillerson was CEO.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/treasury-fines-exxon-mobil-2-million-for-violating-russia-sanctions-while-secretary-of-state-tillerson-was-ceo/2017/07/20/8bf8944e-6d56-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_story.html?utm_term=.152e6173fc89


U.S. Treasury Fines Exxon $2M for Violating Russia Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it’s fining Exxon Mobil Corp $2 million for showing “reckless disregard” for Russia sanctions, the Associated Press reported. Treasury said Exxon subsidiaries signed a deal with Igor Sechin, the chairman of a Russian oil giant, who is on a U.S. blacklist in May 2014. At the time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil company's CEO, and Exxon executives allegedly knew Sechin was blacklisted but proceeded to do business with him.



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