Tuesday Reads: Everything Trump Touches Turns to Sh*tPosted: October 24, 2017
There is so much news this morning that I was once again wondering where to begin, but then all hell broke loose. This morning tRump attacked Bob Corker on Twitter again.
Corker quickly responded on Twitter:
This all started because Corker said last night that tRump’s luncheon with GOP Senators today would be nothing more than a “photo op,” implying that tRump has no clue about the tax bill the Senators will be discussing. Corker had more to say this morning on Good Morning America: Republican Sen. Bob Corker to Trump: ‘Leave it to the professionals.’
Republican Sen. Bob Corker today stood by his remarks criticizing the White House as an “adult day care center” and arguing that President Trump is putting the United States on a path toward “World War III.” ….
“When you look at the fact that we’ve got this issue in North Korea and the president continues to kneecap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of state, and really move him away from successful diplomatic negotiations with China, which is key to this, you’re taking us on a path to combat,” Corker told “Good Morning America” today.
He added that when it comes to the diplomatic efforts underway to manage the rising tensions with North Korea, he would like for Trump to “leave it to the professionals for a while.”
“The president undermines our secretary of state [and] raises tensions in the area by virtue of the tweets that he sends out,” Corker told “GMA.”
Another negotiation Corker wants Trump to stay out of is the tax debate….
Corker, as Trump plans to travel to Capitol Hill today to pitch tax overhaul to Senate Republicans during their policy lunch, told “Good Morning America”, “What I hope is going to happen is the president will leave this effort, if you will, to the tax-writing committees, let them do their work and not begin taking things off the table that ought to be debated in these committees at the proper time.”
After the Twitter exchange, CNN reporter Manu Raju interviewed Corker in person: Trump-Corker feud explodes ahead of critical Hill visit.
Corker, asked if he should have backed Trump’s presidential campaign, said he “would not do that again.” He also said Trump has “great difficulty with the truth.”“You wouldn’t support him again?” Raju asked.
“No, no way,” Corker said.
“The president has great difficulty with the truth,” Corker said in a CNN interview at the Capitol, where Trump is due to meet with senators later in the day to forge consensus on a tax reform plan. “He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation.
“I think the debasement of our nation is what he’ll be remembered most for.”
Of course tRump had to respond.
In more substantive news, I was really glad I watched Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night. He gave a clear explanation of what’s going on in Congress with the budget bill and tax cuts. I panicked when I read that the Senate had passed a budget bill with deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; but it turns out that the House still has to go along with what the Senate did. O’Donnell said he expects some in the House to put up a fight.
O’Donnell also expressed doubts about Congress passing a tax cut bill, particularly because tRump keeps interfering. For example, Trump undercut Congress by tweeting that the proposal for cuts to how much Americans can contribute to their 401K plans was not going to happen.
This proposal was to be used as a negotiating tool, along with the proposal to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes. But tRump has ruined that now. I can’t find the segment on line, unfortunately.
After this morning’s tRump-Corker blowup, there’s a good chance the tax bill is dead.
The New York Times: Cutting Taxes Is Hard. Trump Is Making It Harder.
President Trump said on Monday that he would oppose any effort to reduce the amount of pretax income that American workers can save in 401(k) retirement accounts, effectively killing an idea that Republicans were mulling as a way to help pay for a $1.5 trillion tax cut.
The directive, issued via Twitter, underscored a growing fear among Republicans and business lobbyists that Mr. Trump’s bully-pulpit whims could undermine the party’s best chance to pass the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in decades. When you want discount codes for markets, go to Aldi website.
Overhauling the tax code was never going to be easy given that it requires targeting lucrative and politically popular tax breaks to mitigate the magnitude of cuts Republicans are envisioning. Lawmakers must mitigate the revenue loss from those tax cuts in order to avoid a Democratic filibuster and pass a bill along party lines.
Publicly and privately, supporters of the Republican tax effort say they are concerned that Mr. Trump will make a hard task even harder. The Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was a similarly difficult effort, and the president’s comments and actions were often not helpful. For instance, Mr. Trump hosted House Republicans in the Rose Garden to celebrate passage of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, only to call the same bill “mean” later. Last week, he confounded Republicans again by backing away from his endorsement of a bipartisan Senate proposal to stabilize health insurance markets.
“The Trump calling things ‘mean’ threat is very real right now,” said Jon Lieber, a former top aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
President Clueless Moron.
Last night The Washington Post broke another corruption story about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: Small Montana firm lands Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to get the power back on. The firm has only two regular employees and is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana.
For the sprawling effort to restore Puerto Rico’s crippled electrical grid, the territory’s state-owned utility has turned to a two-year-old company from Montana that had just two full-time employees on the day Hurricane Maria made landfall.
The company, Whitefish Energy, said last week that it had signed a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to repair and reconstruct large portions of the island’s electrical infrastructure. The contract is the biggest yet issued in the troubled relief effort.
Whitefish said Monday that it has 280 workers in the territory, using linemen from across the country, most of them as subcontractors, and that the number grows on average from 10 to 20 people a day. It said it was close to completing infrastructure work that will energize some of the key industrial facilities that are critical to restarting the local economy.
The power authority, also known as PREPA, opted to hire Whitefish rather than activate the “mutual aid” arrangements it has with other utilities. For many years, such agreements have helped U.S. utilities — including those in Florida and Texas recently — to recover quickly after natural disasters.
The unusual decision to instead hire a tiny for-profit company is drawing scrutiny from Congress and comes amid concerns about bankrupt Puerto Rico’s spending as it seeks to provide relief to its 3.4 million residents, the great majority of whom remain without power a month after the storm.
Charles Pierce has a few choice words about this deal: A Rather Serious Clog in That There Swamp Drain.
It’s quite fitting thatof the Drain The Swamp administration* is the Department of the Interior, presided over by that famous campaign-finance wrangler, Ryan Zinke. After all, the department has responsibility for the public lands, such as they may be once these thieves and vandals get through with them. This includes the public swamplands.
Check it out at Esquire.
More information is coming out about the ambush in Niger in which four U.S. soldiers died.
An emerging theory among U.S. military investigators is that the Army Special Forces soldiers ambushed in Niger were set up by terrorists, who were tipped off in advance about a meeting in a village sympathetic to local ISIS affiliates, three U.S. officials who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News. There are now going to be installing these high security gates to protect villages from terrorist.
The group of American Green Berets and support soldiers had requested a meeting with elders of a village that was seen as supportive of ISIS, and they attended the meeting at around 11 a.m. local time on Oct. 4, after a long night of patrolling, the officials said. Such meetings are a routine part of the Green Beret mission, but it wasn’t clear whether this meeting was part of the unit’s plan….
Investigators are leaning toward a conclusion that local militants used the meeting in the village of Tongo Tongo to mount a sneak attack, officials said. Villagers sought to delay the troops as they tried to leave the village, according to officials. Once they departed, in unarmored vehicles, militants attacked them with small arms and machine-gun fire, the officials said.
The solders dismounted and began returning fire, and were soon facing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades launched from “technical” vehicles — light military vehicles — the officials said.
The soldiers got back in their trucks and retreated about a mile before they were ambushed again. The attackers had trapped the Americans in a kill zone, the officials said, where they could envelop them in fire.
The two separate ambush sites could explain why Sgt. La David Johnson’s body was found more than a mile from the coordinates from which the other dead and injured troops were evacuated by helicopter.
Nearly three weeks after the deadly ambush on U.S. Special Ops forces in Niger, ABC News has learned chilling new details about the mission gone wrong from a survivor of the attack and a senior U.S. intelligence official.
Their accounts, provided in separate interviews, raise questions about why a second, potentially more dangerous mission was tacked on late in the day even after a second team that was supposed to join them was unable to do so.
What was started as a reconnaissance mission to meet with local leaders turned into a kill-or-capture mission aimed at a high-value target, according to both sources.
That target – codenamed Naylor Road – has ties to both al Qaeda and ISIS, according to the intelligence official.
According to multiple intelligence sources, this target is one of the U.S.’s “top three objectives in Niger,” one that the U.S. has been “actively pursuing.”
But that change in plan meant that the team was out for over 24 hours and put them at greater risk.
“They should have been up and back in a day. Because they were up there so f—— long on a mission that morphed, they were spotted, surveilled and ultimately hit,” the official said.
Regarding Sgt. La David Johnson:
Despite being massively outnumbered, the American and Nigerien troops held their own — including Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in the ambush, the sources told ABC News.
“He was the best kid you could ask for,” the survivor said of Johnson, who fought back the militants with machine gun fire from the back of a pickup truck, before grabbing a sniper rifle and continuing to shoot.
“The guy is a true war hero,” the survivor added. “I really want his wife and kids to know that.”
There’s more interesting stuff at the link.
I’ll add more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?