Thursday Reads: America’s Ongoing Crisis Has Reached Emergency Levels

Good Morning!!

The media is finally waking up to the fact that the “president” of the U.S. is not just a pathological liar, not just a sociopath and a malignant narcissist–he is actually suffering from a serious thought disorder with delusions.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional.

The Washington Post and New York Times have accounts from insiders suggesting Trump habitually insists upon the impossible in private. He does not merely tell lies in order to gull the public or to manipulate allies. He tells lies in private that he has no reason to tell. He still questions the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birthplace, despite the birth certificate. He insists voter fraud may have denied him a popular-vote triumph. He tells people Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation, with a total vindication of the president, by the end of the year.

He questions whether the Access Hollywood tape, on which he was recorded boasting of sexual assault, is even him. (Both the Post and the Times report Trump repeatedly has denied the validity of the tape in private, “stunning his advisers,” as the Times puts it.)

It is of course entirely possible that Trump is lying to everybody, including his own staff. But the lies in these articles do not always fit into any pattern of rational self-aggrandizement. Trump tells senators or his aides the Access Hollywood tape is not him, but they don’t believe him. He has no reason to bring up the birther fabrication in private.

His apparent belief that Mueller will complete his sprawling investigation by the end of the year is not only pointless but self-defeating — rather than prepare allies for a long defense, he is preparing them for a fantastical scenario. (It is also further evidence that, when Mueller fails to vindicate him by the new year, Trump will lash out wildly, firing him, Jeff Sessions, or others.)

If Trump actually has the ability to convince himself of his own lies, it would suggest a possibility far more dangerous than even his critics have previously assumed. He might be in the grip of a mental-health issue, or at least one more serious than mere sociopathy. And the mutterings that he might need to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment could grow more serious than many of us have expected.

Gee, no kidding. It was obvious during the campaign that Trump was nuts, to use a technical term. Now people in the media are waking up to the reality of the situation when it may well be too late. BTW, a person can be a liar and delusional at the same time.

Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker at The Washington Post: Trump veers past guardrails, feeling impervious to the uproar he causes.

President Trump this week disseminated on social media three inflammatory and unverified ­anti-Muslim videos, took glee in the firing of a news anchor for sexual harassment allegations despite facing more than a dozen of his own accusers and used a ceremony honoring Navajo war heroes to malign a senator with a derogatory nickname, “Pocahontas.”

Again and again, Trump veered far past the guardrails of presidential behavior. But despite the now-routine condemnations, the president is acting emboldened, as if he were impervious to the uproar he causes.

If there are consequences for his actions, Trump does not seem to feel their burden personally. The Republican tax bill appears on track for passage, putting the president on the cusp of his first major legislative achievement. Trump himself remains the ­highest-profile man accused of sexual improprieties to keep his job with no repercussions.

Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on. Fellow Republican leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior — or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian, chief of staff John F. Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president.

Rucker and Parker quote from Trump’s speech in Missouri last night:

In Missouri, he was talking about taxes, but he might as well been describing his mind-set.

“Hey, look, I’m president,” Trump said. “I don’t care. I don’t care anymore.”

The Hill: Scarborough: Trump allies told me he has dementia.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said on Thursday that people close to President Trump told him during the campaign that Trump has “early stages of dementia.”

During MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Scarborough said Trump is “completely detached from reality.”

“You have somebody inside the White House that the New York Daily News says is mentally unfit,” Scarborough said.

“That people close to him say is mentally unfit, that people close to him during the campaign told me had early stages of dementia.”

Scarborough said the country is closer to war on the Korean Peninsula than most Americans know.

“We heard this months ago, that we are going to have a ground war in Korea, they believe that inside the White House for a very long time,” Scarborough said.

“If this is not what the 25th Amendment was drafted for,” he added, referring to the amendment that covers presidential succession and the response to a president with disabilities.

Hey Joe, why didn’t you say this during the campaign??

Last night during his speech in Missouri, Trump gave a clear demonstration of how jumbled his thought process is. Someone put the words “rocket fuel” on the teleprompter and he veered off into an attack on Kim Jong Un.

The Hill: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-author: Trump ‘losing his grip on reality.’

“But what it means in simple terms is he’s losing his grip on reality,” Schwartz told MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” when asked about Trump’s reported suggestion that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape may not be real.

“His reality testing is really poor and I believe that’s exactly what’s going on,” Schwartz added.

Schwartz described “a dramatic change” in Trump from when he co-authored the book with him to how the president speaks now.

“He is more limited in his vocabulary. He is further from as I say- this connection to what is factual and real. He is more impulsive. He is more reactive. This is a guy in deep trouble,” said Schwartz.

He also said that many employees at the White House are “hostages to a cult leader.”

“When you watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders right now, you really feel as if you’re watching somebody who is being brainwashed, or has been brainwashed,” Schwartz said, referencing the White House press secretary.

Mike Allen at Axios: The White House expects Trump to get even more outrageous.

What we’re hearing: Officials tell us Trump seems more self-assured, more prone to confidently indulging wild conspiracies and fantasies, more quick-triggered to fight than he was during the Wild West of the first 100 days in office.

   .  Imagine Trump if he signs a huge tax cut into law, which seems likely, amid soaring stocks and rising economic growth.
  .  Imagine if Roy Moore wins in Alabama, which seems likely, too. It surely won’t humble Trump — or hem him in.
  .  He’s like the Incredible Hulk, after the media and Mueller made him mad.

I could go on and on posting articles from members of the media who are finally waking up to reality, but is it too late?

Even Ezra Klein is writing about impeachment: The case for normalizing impeachment.

In recent months, I have grown obsessed with a seemingly simple question: Does the American political system have a remedy if we elect the wrong person to be president? There are clear answers if we elect a criminal, or if the president falls into a coma. But what if we just make a hiring mistake, as companies do all the time? What if we elect someone who proves himself or herself unfit for office — impulsive, conspiratorial, undisciplined, destructive, cruel?

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are in thrall to the cult of “tax cuts” that will remake the entire U.S. economy and way of life. Unfortunately John McCain just announced that he’s voting for tax scam. It looks like we’re completely screwed.

Marco Rubio, quoted at Financial Advisor: Rubio: Offset Tax Cuts By Reducing Social Security, Medicare Benefits.

Tax reform is only one piece of the overall puzzle needed to revitalize the American economy, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told a group of Washington, D.C., lobbyists and policy analysts this morning at a Politico Playbook Interview sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable. The other part? Reduce the deficit and offset the cost of the reform, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates at $1.3 trillion.

“I analyze this very differently than most,” Rubio told the crowd. “Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,” the senator said.

If lawmakers can act strategically sooner rather than later to come up with some combination of reforms to reduce benefits and raise retirement age, the pain of change and reduced benefits will be greatly mitigated, said the lawmaker who ran for president in 2016 and is once again sounding presidential.

Oh really?

“We don’t need to reduce benefits on current retirees or even near-term retirees, but we can make changes for future generations such as mine, and do so in a way that people can prepare for, so the changes will barely be felt,” Rubio said.

As much as 23 percent of Social Security benefits and 14 percent of Medicaid benefits could disappear by 2034 unless Congress acts, according to a the most recent report from trustees. Without a political fix, future retirees could experience a 23 percent reduction in benefits or a 20 percent increase in payroll taxes to fund the shortfalls, the trustee analysis found.

“Tax reform is the economic component of this equation,” said Rubio, who expressed doubts that there will be a government shutdown. “When more people are working, there are more taxpayers and more revenue, but that alone won’t be enough. You are still going to have a debt problem in the absence of spending cuts.”

The New York Times: It Started as a Tax Cut. Now It Could Change American Life.

The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.

Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.

Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

Click on the link to read the rest.

They are doing this without any real analysis of what the disastrous effects will be. The New York Times again: Ahead of Vote, Promised Treasury Analysis of Tax Bill Proves Elusive.

In pitching the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, has said repeatedly that the plan will pay for itself through a surge of economic growth and that over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us.”

Mr. Mnuchin has promised that Treasury will release its analysis in full. Yet, just one day before the full Senate prepares to vote on a sweeping tax rewrite, the administration has yet to produce the type of economic analysis that it is citing as a reason to pass the tax cut.

Those inside Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which Mr. Mnuchin has credited with running the models, say they have been largely shut out of the process and are not working on the type of detailed analysis that he has mentioned. An economist at the Office of Tax Analysis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize his job, said Treasury had not released a “dynamic” analysis showing that the tax plan would be paid for with economic growth because one did not exist.

Instead of conducting full analyses of tax proposals, staff members have been running numbers on individual provisions or policy ideas, like lowering the tax rate on so-called pass-through businesses and figuring out how many family farms would benefit from the repeal of the estate tax. Activity has picked up more recently as Treasury has sought to provide technical assistance to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office for their estimates. They are developing ways to measure business downtime cost and you can click here https://www.pagerduty.com/blog/cost-downtime/ to see the technology

 

There is simply no analysis that could make this bill look like anything but a giant monstrosity designed to take money from the middle and working classes and had it over to a few rich people like Donald Trump and his pals.

Finally, from the NYT Editorial Board: The Senate Is Rushing to Pass Its Tax Bill Because It Stinks.

The Senate tax bill, a 515-page mammoth, was introduced just last week, and the chamber could vote on it as soon as Thursday. This is not how lawmakers are supposed to pass enormous pieces of legislation. It took several years to put together the last serious tax bill, passed in 1986. Congress and the Reagan administration worked across party lines, produced numerous drafts, held many hearings and struck countless compromises. This time it’s not about true reform but about speed and bowling over the opposition in hopes of claiming a partisan victory. The country ought to be dismayed by the way senators like Bob Corker, Susan Collins and Ron Johnson appear to be backing away from their principled objections based on half-measures promised by President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that will not address its big flaws.

This rush to the Senate floor has been orchestrated by Mr. McConnell, following the same playbook he used in the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The longer people have to study the details, the less likely the bill is to pass. People should know by now about the big stuff: the giant permanent corporate tax-rate cut, the small and temporary tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the A.C.A.’s individual mandate and the $1.4 trillion added to the federal deficit over 10 years. But other provisions are not as well understood and deserve to be called ou

Please go read the whole thing.

I really worked myself into a frenzy today just reading these articles. I’m going to have to relax for awhile and take some deep breaths. What stories are you following today?

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49 Comments on “Thursday Reads: America’s Ongoing Crisis Has Reached Emergency Levels”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    The Washington Post: Deeply unpopular Congress aims to pass deeply unpopular bill for deeply unpopular president to sign.

    Something odd is happening on Capitol Hill.

    It’s not odd that Republicans are pushing for a tax bill that’s tilted toward business and the wealthy. It’s a return to the argument that benefits at the top trickle down to workers in the form of more jobs and better pay. (Whether this would actually happen is a question of its own.) Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House. This tax bill is the Republican agenda, and advancing political priorities when you have the majority is how representative democracy works.

    It’s just that everything about it is so unpopular. That’s the odd thing.

    • dakinikat says:

      They’ve abandoned all sense of civic duty. I assume they know the Russians will fix the 2018 elections for them.

    • quixote says:

      “(Whether this would actually happen is a question of its own.)”

      Hahahahahaha. “Question”? It’s not a question anymore when it’s been answered dozens of times, and the same way every time.

      Then it’s just insanity to try it again. Criminal insanity in this case given how many people will be hurt.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I just want to cry about all of this. It’s a nightmare.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Raw Story: 10-year-old hangs herself after confronting bully — as other kids mocked her on social media

    https://www.rawstory.com/2017/11/10-year-old-hangs-herself-after-confronting-bully-as-other-kids-mocked-her-on-social-media/#.WiA7jdnEuOw.twitter

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Head of Move On.

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    We don’t expect a 3 year old to cook a meal. Or let our kids play with matches. Or encourage our children to play in traffic.

    Why would the GOP leadership not take away the keys to the car from a demented man acting as POTUS? The man is out of control. His reasoning – although never sharp to begin with – seems out of whack. The tweets speak for themselves.

    We all knew he was crazy from day one. The press, in all its glory, could not get enough of this Liar in Chief. Deeply flawed, he was carried by the press as “entertainment” rather than as someone whose immorality was always on display. A fraud, a liar, an ignoramus without a sense of history or the inclination to learn. The worst example of a human being seeking the highest office of the land was given unlimited time whenever he called in while other candidates had to scramble to get 20 seconds on air.

    The solution is to get him out. The GOP leadership says no. He is under investigation for collusion, obstruction of justice, money laundering, not to mention his overall stupidity and disgusting demeanor.

    What will it take to reach the Long Goodbye?

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    I see McCain is back to being McCain and pledging to deny medical coverage to working class people with brain tumors.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    WTF?!

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  8. NW Luna says:

    “Early stage” of dementia??? He’s progressed further than that. Early stage is when the person can still pass for normal in most conversation and actions, but doesn’t pass when you dig deeper. Trump sounds abnormal whenever he speaks — he makes no sense. Terrifying. The Democrats in office should be yelling and jumping all over this.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Definitely not early stage. And that’s on top of his malignant narcissism/pathological lying.

  9. roofingbird says:

    I imagined that we went into the new year without a budget and with a lockdown on government. What could be the legal vulnerability of a president who is not getting paid to function as such? Is their immunity impaired?

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Ann, you got a big Birthday gift today!

    Flynn is to plead guilty!

    • Minkoff Minx says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      I sure did! It’s Flynn Friday! There’s supposed to be a plea hearing at 10:30AM, right before McConnell was planning a vote on the tax scam monstrosity.

  11. Minkoff Minx says:

    Also, over at Lindsey Graham’s website:

  12. Sweet Sue says:

    BB, is it your birthday today?

  13. RonStill4Hills says:

    Flake caves. Never trust a Republican.

  14. Enheduanna says:

    I’m sending my thoughts and prayers to the White House today:

    RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN THE GIG IS UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Dakinikat is going to post a blog, but she had to report for jury duty this morning and now she’s waiting for her computer to finish downloading a big update.

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh no. What a day to have jury duty!

      So far there hasn’t yet been more to the story other than surmises. I’ve been checking the WaPo front page every 20 min or so.

  16. NW Luna says:

    This male journalist seems to think other offices having a lock button which “had more innocent purposes” excuses Lauer. Yeah, other men have penises too. Does that excuse Lauer? Talk about mansplaining.

    A few things about that button on Matt Lauer’s desk:

    Lauer, fired on Wednesday amid allegations of sexual misconduct, didn’t install the button that enabled him to lock his office door automatically from his desk, it turns out. The mechanism was a standard feature in many of the older offices at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC’s longtime corporate home, according to people familiar with the building’s operations.

    The button was one of the more lurid and damning elements of the sexual-harassment accusations against Lauer. Variety disclosed its existence in a story published a few hours after NBC dismissed the longtime “Today” host.

    And yet, the buttons had more innocent purposes when they were installed years earlier by General Electric, which owned NBC for years and shared office space with the network.