Extremely Lazy Saturday Reads: International Incidents Galore

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, I’ve hit an mental and emotion wall after another depressing, exhausting week of tRump assaults on poor and elderly people, on science and the arts, and on our closest international allies.

Yesterday tRump managed to make an abject fool of himself in public by calling Fox News conspiracy theorist Andrew Napolitano a “very talented legal mind,” in trying to shift the blame for his shameful claim that former President Barack Obama “tapped my wires” in Trump Tower during the transition period.

Napolitano had been quoted by Sean Spicer on Wednesday as claiming that British intelligence had helped Obama wiretap Trump Tower. Napolitano is also a 9/11 truther who has appeared on Alex Jones’ radio show, but tRump thinks he’s brilliant.

The attack on British intelligence was the first international incident of the day. The second was when tRump refused to shake hands with Angela Merkel. tRump also publicly chastised Merkel and other European leaders during their press conference for not spending enough on their own defense.

All of this helped to demonstrate that Angela Merkel is the new leader of the free world and the U.S. “president” is a clear and present danger to America and the rest of the world.

How this brilliant woman could stand to be in the same room, much less try to communicate with this ignorant, repulsive misogynist, I’ll never understand, but she managed to remain dignified while the President of the United State {shudder} humiliated us before the world.

Shortly after the press conference ended, Fox News’ Shep Smith stated on air that “the network does not have any evidence that President Donald Trump was ever placed under surveillance, despite the his repeated insistence that former President Barack Obama’s intelligence agencies wiretapped his phones,” according to Politico.

BTW, Ivanka was seated next to Merkel in the Oval Office meeting!

Last night Chris Matthew said it reminded him of something the Saudi royal family would do–including family members in high level meetings. Not bad, Chris!

tRump has gone all in for the disastrous GOP health care bill, which looks to be on it’s last legs–especially after Speaker Paul Ryan made his most revealing remarks yet about his personal motivations in writing and pushing Trump/Ryancare.

Slate: Paul Ryan: I’ve Been Dreaming About Kicking Poors Off Medicaid Since I Was a Drunk Frat Boy.

At the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit on Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan had an interesting exchange with National Review editor Rich Lowry about the AHCA’s changes to Medicaid:

Lowry: You have been very clear for years—and we’ve seen compelling PowerPoint presentations—about how the entitlements and entitlements growing out of control is driving the country into a ditch on the debt. And we have a president of the United States who basically seems pledged not to touch entitlements. Where does that leave us?

Ryan: So, the health care entitlements are the big, big, big drivers of our debt. There are three. Obamacare, Medicaid, and Medicare. Two out of three are going through Congress right now. So, Medicaid—sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg.

Lowry: I was thinking about something else, he was thinking about reforming Medicaid.

Ryan: I was, I was! I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. We are on the cusp of doing something we’ve long believed in.

As I wrote the other day, Ryan is either a blithering idiot or a terrible politician. Apparently no one ever explained to him that you’re supposed to at least pretend to be at least a tiny bit compassionate, not blurt out heartless statements that clearly demonstrate your pure enjoyment in causing the poor, elderly, and disabled to sicken and die.

Do you suppose tRump even knows what this bill will do to his own biggest supporters? I doubt it. Ezra Klein thinks he may not be aware.

“I want everyone to know I’m 100 percent behind [the American Health Care Act],” President Trump said today. “The press has not been speaking properly about how great this is going to be. I watch, I say, ‘That’s not the bill we’re passing.’

But does Trump really know what’s in the bill he’s passing, or trying to pass?

With the help of Vox’s Jacob Gardenswartz, I collected and read absolutely everything Donald Trump has said publicly about the AHCA. The transcripts cover speeches, rallies, meetings with congressional leaders, interviews with friendly news outlets, and, of course, tweets.

I learned a few things from the exercise. First, Trump has a very limited set of talking points on health care, and he repeats the same words and sentences constantly — his comfort zone on both the issue and the legislation is very narrow.

Second, Trump seems confused about what the GOP bill does. It is possible, of course, that he knows more than he is saying, and has decided to simply say things that aren’t true. But it’s also possible he’s being spun by more ideologically motivated advisers (that’s certainly the narrative pro-Trump outlets like Breitbart are pushing).

Third, Trump has bought into a caricature of Obamacare’s condition that heavily informs his thinking on both the politics and the policy of the AHCA. This could prove more consequential than people realize.

The AHCA does literally none of the things Trump says it does.

On March 8, Trump laid out his case for the American Health Care Act. Here’s what he said:

It follows the guidelines I laid out in my congressional address: a plan that will lower costs, expand choices, increase competition, and ensure health care access for all Americans. This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor. This will be a plan where you can choose your plan.

These talking points are familiar enough that it’s easy to let them fade into the background. But it’s worth taking them seriously. This is Trump’s case for the bill he’s backing. Does he know that literally every single one of these points is wrong?

I’m sure tRump would never bother to read the bill, and there’s a good chance Paul Ryan has sold him a bill of goods, but I also doubt that tRump cares that his policies will literally kill people. The only thing he cares about his his own personal gratification.

Here’s a new horror from the tRump crowd via The Washington Post: Trump administration rolls back protections for people in default on student loans.

Days after a report on federal student loans revealed a double-digit rise in defaults, President Trump’s administration revoked federal guidance Thursday that barred student debt collectors from charging high fees on past-due loans.

The Education Department is ordering guarantee agencies that collect on defaulted debt to disregard a memo former President Barack Obama’s administration issued on the old bank-based federal lending program, known as the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. That memo forbid the agencies from charging fees for up to 16 percent of the principal and accrued interest owed on the loans, if the borrower entered the government’s loan rehabilitation program within 60 days of default….

The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration walks back the department’s previous stance on the grounds that there should have been public input on the issue.

“The department will not require compliance with the interpretations set forth” in the previous memo “without providing prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the issues,” the letter said.

The action does not affect any borrowers whose loans are held by the Education Department, according to the department. It could, however, impact nearly 7 million people with $162 billion in FFEL loans held by guarantee agencies.

Who cares if millions of people go bankrupt because of this tRump decision? Not tRump and his billionaire buddies.

Fortunately, many Americans do care about other people. The Washington Post: Meals on Wheels sees donation surge after Trump proposes funding cuts.

Senior citizens in one suburb could see Meals on Wheels deliveries cut in half if President Trump’s budget cuts become reality, a spokeswoman for the network told CNN, as it anticipated “deep cuts” to a nonprofit that serves 2.4 million Americans.

Donations surged to 50 times their daily rate Thursday, the spokeswoman said, after the White House proposed eliminating the Community Development Block Grant program.

While the block grants fund only a small portion of Meals on Wheels’ operations nationwide, spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette told CNN that some of the group’s 5,000 local branches rely on the money to bring food to people.

A Meals on Wheels branch outside Detroit, she said, would lose one-third of its budget without the grants. The branch in San Jose, Calif., would lose $100,000.

And the organization has speculated that Trump’s vague budget outline could also slash the Older Americans Act, which it says funds more than one-third of its operations across the United States.

A North Korean soldier had more access to Rex Tillerson than the U.S. media.

Another big story yesterday was the announcement by tRump’s secretary of state that he might (not completely clear) be considering the possibility of first strike on North Korea. Since SOS Rex Tillerson is basically refusing to answer questions from the media, we can’t be sure; but what he said sounded scary. The LA Times:

“Certainly we do not want things to get to a military conflict,” Tillerson told reporters in Seoul. But he added that “if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that will be met with an appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that

There’s nothing new about the idea that the U.S. would defend South Korea against an attack from the North. But Tillerson seemed to be raising the possibility of a preemptive strike. If that was his meaning, the threat was premature, because the U.S. has other ways to deter North Korea. But the ambiguity of his words was itself a problem. Its vagueness recalled former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s warning earlier this year that he was putting Iran “on notice.”

Tillerson finally agreed to an interview with the Independent Journal Review, a right wing website. Business Insider provides a summary.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in his first sit-down interview since assuming his role as the nation’s top diplomat, addressed a number of pressing issues regarding the US’ role in the global order, the Korean peninsula, the precarious situation with North Korea, the US-China alliance, and his relationship with the press.

Tillerson said the US’ main objective with regard to the east is a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
He also believes that based on recent actions taken by North Korea, the nation is “an imminent threat” that China needs to work with the US to combat.

The secretary of state articulated a the need for a “higher level of dialogue” between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Tillerson said that his relationship with the press would be “trip dependent” and that he is not a “big media press access person.”

Regarding the revelation that he allegedly used an email alias to communicate with Exxon officials about the risks of climate change, Tillerson said he could not comment on it and that questions should be directed at Exxon Mobil.

That’s all I have for you today. Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend.

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78 Comments on “Extremely Lazy Saturday Reads: International Incidents Galore”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry this is so late. I’m struggling with tRump overload.

    • NW Luna says:

      We understand. Yesterday was worse than usual, I thought.

    • Fannie says:

      Don’t know how much more I can take of him……….it’s toooo much.

    • janicen says:

      Me too. That’s why I don’t comment much anymore. It’s all so overwhelming. Thank you for the post though. I do read it but by the time I get through it I’m so done. Sigh!

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    It just gets worse every day. Not a day goes by that some surgical evil is proposed or signed into law and it is a sure bet that President Zero has no idea of what they entail. His chief and only concern is “winning” and if that means pushing through horrible legislation then so be it.

    We have an Ignoramus In Chief sitting in the Oval Office with nazi sympathizers whispering in his ear. An incurious man with some dangerous thoughts rolling around in his empty, over coiffed head, who could not care less about anybody but his pampered, egotistical, stupid self.

    While his evil “budget” calls for cutting off Meals on Wheels and other programs that benefit the public at large, he flies off to yet another weekend at Mar A Lago to the tune of 3 million dollars a pop. Does he not see the optics here? Is he that dense? Apparently so since he seems to ignore what it takes to govern while wallowing in conspiracy theories. What a guy!

    His treatment of Angela Merkel was offensive. Certainly not the stature of a president but of a spoiled, indulgent, petulant child. It was remarkable to watch a 70 yr old man behave like a miserable brat but this is who he is.

    Not sure how much longer the public can take this travesty particularly when you consider him involving himself with North Korea. This situation calls for saner and informed heads and he lacks both.

    The man is nuts! This bears repeating. And where is the majority GOP who are witnessing the same insanity as the rest of us?

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The “majority GOP” is trying to pass and sign as many bills as possible before the snake sheds it’s skin.

  3. Enheduanna says:

    BB thank you for the post. We are only a few weeks in and it’s unrelenting, isn’t it. I am wondering if a strategy could be in the works to make him resign and blame conflicts of interest or else face impeachment for treason? I think they have the goods on his collusion with Russia. Maybe we won’t have to go the full four years.

    The Mar-a-Lago pictures of tRump in his tastefully appointed and restrained rooms (/s) are almost laughable. Mirrored bedroom walls – natch.

    Do you think Ivanka has to be there for him when it’s a high-pressure situation? Seems like they have to babysit him a lot.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think it’s going to take awhile to get rid of him, but I wouldn’t bet on his lasting 4 years.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I detested Bush but Trump is making me reach higher levels of hate. It is almost visceral.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I’m in a “how long will he last” pool. I have him out by January 2019. You want to start a pool here?

        • Pat Johnson says:

          2019 seems like an eternity! I’m holding onto 12 months from today. Otherwise I doubt I can endure another 24 months of this insanity.

          He gets bored easily.

        • Pat Johnson says:

          Put me down for January 2018. Maybe the Russian connection, the conflicts of interest, or another loopy conspiracy theory might do him in before long.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            I’ve got you covered baby!

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Hey Mouse…can you put me down in the pool for Aug 21, 2017. That is the date of the eclipse. Blairsville is in the direct path…and my mom is certain it is an omen. I’m just hoping it is something more along the lines of getting the tRump asshole out of office.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Got You JJ. 8/21/17…..How’s momma feeling?

        • Enheduanna says:

          If we do a pool put me down for 9 months from now. Trying to be optimistic and they seem to know a great deal of really bad stuff already if you judge by Feinstein (and Maxine Waters’ comments in the past).

          http://shareblue.com/sen-dianne-feinstein-on-getting-trump-out-of-office-hes-gonna-get-himself-out/

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Ok……You want December 2017?

          • Pat Johnson says:

            Unfortunately it is going to take the GOP majority to get off their butts and act. Since congress is held by them I am not banking on anyone in that group as yet for “doing the right thing”.

            The Russian connections alone call for exposure. The refusal to release tax forms while still running the enterprise is yet another. The lies are so frequent it is difficult to keep up and have now become the “norm”.

            The press can keep digging but it will be up to the GOP leadership to call a halt to this mess before we all get blown to Kingdom Come.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            They will try to ignore trump’s crimes for as long as they can, but when the tide turns it will turn quickly and it will be so obvious they can no longer hide behind their silly excuses. My greatest fear is that he will start a war to take the focus off of himself. If he does that it will make it much harder to get the Congress to focus on his crimes.

          • NW Luna says:

            A few months back I wouldn’t have thought he could do all this shit and still be in office without impeachment hearings starting. Now I don’t know. The intransigent evilness of the GOP is startling.

          • Enheduanna says:

            Sorry Mouse, I should have been more specific – December 2017 is good!

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Ok…..12/1/2017. I hope you’re right but I think it will take a lot longer. I can’t get Watergate out of my memory bank. From the date the burglary happened until Nixon left office was over 2 years.

        • janicen says:

          I like February 2018. I think the Republicans in Congress will wait to see what happens in the November 2017 elections. When they get decimated they won’t wait because the congressional elections will be coming up in November 2018. It will take them a couple months but then they will impeach him.

        • Sweet Sue says:

          Will we all still be alive?

      • Fannie says:

        Hit me for 9 Oct 2017………..seems to be a long time out………..and that was Hillary’s last debate night (9 Oct 2016).

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    Very good post BB. I totally agree with you trump doesn’t give a damn what the repercussions of his health care plan will be. He doesn’t care about what his budget and the repeal of the ACA will do to millions of Americans. He simply does not care about anything or anyone but himself, his fragile ego and how much money he can make out of this venture. The only reason he ran for POTUS to begin with was money and glory. He’s the very definition of vainglorious.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    I got this from Janicen’s Twitter feed.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    The day is coming when every trump voter will have to admit to this.

  7. dakinikat says:

    I’m hoping for this:

    ‘I think he’s going to get himself out’: Feinstein hints that Trump may resign at Q&A session

    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/i-think-hes-going-to-get-himself-out-feinstein-hints-that-trump-may-resign-at-qa-session/

    “You looked white as a ghost after that meeting yesterday,” one person said to Feinstein — referring to Feinstein and Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)’s briefings with FBI Dir. James Comey on Wednesday. Comey declined to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee request that he go on the record by Wednesday confirming or denying whether the FBI is currently investigating Pres. Donald Trump’s campaign and its connections to the Russian government.

    “There are so many things [Trump] is doing that are unconstitutional,” a protester said. “How are we going to get him out?”

    “We have a lot of people looking at this,” Feinstein said. “I think he’s going to get himself out… I think that sending his sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with government expenses. I believe that should not be allowed.”

    “We’re working on a bill that would do that now,” she said. “We’re working on a couple of bills that would deal with conflicts of interest.”

    Best news all week.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’m going to do a pool for all of the Sky Dancers called the “How long will he last” pool. Would you like to proffer a guess? We might as well try to find ways to make this interesting in a positive way.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Bill Clinton had a consensual tryst with an intern. Sleazy maybe but not lawbreaking. We endured 15 relentless months of investigation about something better left to the husband and wife to sort out.

      We now have a man who I believe has been compromised by a hostile government and for the most part has been deliberately ignored by his “patriotic” party.

      This is far more damaging and dangerously serious yet the Dems must beg to hold a hearing to get to the bottom of these actions.

      Something is wrong with this picture.

      • NW Luna says:

        The GOP Congress is complicit. Oh, and kompromat. The RNC hack but nothing released yet.

    • quixote says:

      Feinstein: “We’re working on a bill that would do that now,” she said. “We’re working on a couple of bills that would deal with conflicts of interest.”

      What in seven hells do they need a bill for? It’s already against the law. Hello? Is this thing on?

      /*endless screaming*/

  8. NW Luna says:

    • NW Luna says:

      This burns:

      Some of the attempts to question Manafort coincided with a time period when the FBI grappled with the issue of whether to subpoena Manafort in its separate investigation surrounding his business dealings in Ukraine, last summer. Comey has faced criticism for taking a different approach on legal matters relating to the Hillary Clinton campaign after he controversially sent a letter to Congress announcing the FBI’s renewed interest in her use of a personal server during her time as Secretary of State just 11 days before the election.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Spineless Comey was facing criticism from the GOP by “clearing” Hillary from prosecution.

        He tried to “clear” himself by falsely asserting that they had uncovered more e-mails 2 weeks from the vote. This caused her votes by those fence sitters who either voted 3rd party or stayed home.

        Comey put “party first” and his own reputation by inferring there was more bad stuff out there when it had not been proven.

        He should have resigned and I am sick to death of his continuing to “play cute” when it comes to Trump,Flynn and the Russian connection as the public has the right to know if their government has been compromised.

        Enough of this tippy toeing around the seriousness of this issue.

  9. Enheduanna says:

    Here’s reminder for all the TCM fans here – this is the weekend they are highlighting Robert Osborne’s career with his Private Screenings interviews. They are about to start the feature they did on his career in a few minutes.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Got to see this!

      • Enheduanna says:

        I was mistaken – this is an anniversary show – there is another feature they ran at 6AM about his career. I hope they’ll repeat that – it’s fascinating.

        This one is good too – can you believe how gorgeous Diane Baker is at about 80 years old?

      • Enheduanna says:

        I think the retrospective on Robert Osborne’s career will be repeated at 5:30PM on Sunday. Set your DVR!

  10. Pat, I’m with you. I do not trust Comey at all. Dakinikat–do you think T. will resign? I would love to think that. Maybe in exchange for not going to jail? I’d almost rather he go to jail.

    • NW Luna says:

      IMO treason deserves jail time at the very least.

      If Comey resigned — which at the time I thought he should have been asked to do — someone worse would be in his place now.

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      tRumpanzees are the first that will be hit. tRump and Co. are so racist they think all the so-called “moochers’ are people of color. He has no idea they are mostly his white supporters.

      Everything the GOP is trying to do will harm the economy – already has. Tourism to the US is taking a terrible hit. I work in the travel industry.

      All those government jobs gone – if they succeed – will be a huge blow to the economy. The whole ACHA fiasco. Environmental devastation with no corporate regulation. Letting other countries supersede us in renewable energy development. They even want to cut FEMA at a a time when environmental catastrophes are surely looming. Jobs and GDP numbers are going to tank if they succeed. The best we can hope is it kills their brand I guess.

  13. bostonboomer says:

  14. dakinikat says:

  15. NW Luna says:

    Oooh! Good smackdown there, Sally!

    in re:
    Thom Hartmann‏Verified account @Thom_Hartmann
    Why Won’t Democrats Embrace the Most Popular Politician in America? @alternet

    The self-delusion of Sanders’ followers is mind-boggling.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’m not on Twitter but if I was I’d point out that Thom Hartmann sowed real division during the primary campaign and that his Radio Program that is also televised is broadcast by RT.

      • NW Luna says:

        Broadcast by RT? I can’t stand listening to talk radio and haven’t heart his show since, oh, 2009 I think. How coincidental that Hartmann and Ed Schultz both went over to Russia. Not.

    • Enheduanna says:

      No kidding. I run into whiny Sander’s comments all the time clicking around (Alternet and C&L). I never see that with Clinton supporters, or if you do it’s more like a wistful sigh instead of a stupid non-truth about her popularity.

      I’ll always believe the Bernie bros and Stein idiots enabled a tRump victory.