It’s another busy day in tRumpville–not for him, of course, just for us peons. King Donald is so bored that he went out to meet a White House tour group this morning.
So the Muslim ban is back with a vengeance. Plus the GOP “health care” plan is out and it’s even worse than anyone imagined. Dakinikat wrote about tRump’s immigration policies yesterday, but we’re getting more details this morning. As for Ryancare or trumpcare or whatever the f$ck you want to call the health insurance plan from hell, it looks like it will be dead on arrival.
On top of all that Russia and Wikileaks released a bunch of CIA files to try to distract everyone from the antics circus clown they put in charge of what used to be the USA. I don’t have room to write about everything, but here are a few reads to get you started.
The Trump administration wants to gut the Coast Guard and make deep cuts in airport and rail security to help pay for its crackdown on illegal immigration, according to internal budget documents reviewed by POLITICO — a move that lawmakers and security experts say defies logic if the White House is serious about defending against terrorism and keeping out undocumented foreigners.
The Office of Management and Budget is seeking a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget, the draft documents show, even as it proposes major increases to other Department of Homeland Security agencies to hire more border agents and immigration officers and construct a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The budget numbers mark the most detailed breakdown yet about how President Donald Trump envisions restructuring DHS to meet his pledge to halt illegal immigration and deport some of the millions already here.
Overall, DHS would get a 6 percent boost to its budget, to $43.8 billion. But to help pay for that, the administration would slice the budget of the Coast Guard and cut 11 percent in spending from the TSA — reductions that critics say would weaken safeguards against threats arriving by sea or air.
OMB also wants to cut 11 percent from the budget of FEMA, which oversees the national response to disasters such as floods and hurricanes.
The stupid is strong in this one. Obviously the mass deportation agenda has absolutely nothing to do with national security.
Speaking of national security, tRup appears to be mostly ignoring the international crisis being fomented by North Korea–at least he has said nothing publicly about how he plans to handle it. Rex Tillerson hasn’t said anything about this situation either. Has anyone seen or heard from him? The Washington Post reports: North Korea says it was practicing to hit U.S. military bases in Japan with missiles.
North Korea was practicing to strike United States military bases in Japan with its latest barrage of missiles, state media in Pyongyang reported Tuesday, and it appeared to be trying to outsmart a new American antimissile battery being deployed to South Korea by firing multiple rockets at once.
Kim Jong Un presided over Monday’s launch of the four missiles, “feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported in a statement that analysts called a “brazen declaration” of the country’s intent to strike enemies with a nuclear weapon if it came under attack.
“If the United States or South Korea fires even a single flame inside North Korean territory, we will demolish the origin of the invasion and provocation with a nuclear tipped missile,” the KCNA statement said.
The four ballistic missiles fired Monday morning were launched by the elite Hwasong ballistic missile division “tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan,” KCNA said. The United States has numerous military bases and about 54,000 military personnel stationed in Japan, the legacy of its postwar security alliance with the country.
Three of the four missiles flew about 600 miles over North Korea and landed in the sea, within Japan’s exclusive economic zone off the Oga Peninsula in Akita prefecture, home to a Japanese self-defense forces base. The fourth fell just outside the zone.
One thing that’s happening is that the US is sending an anti-missle defense system to South Korea, according to NBC News:
The United States has begun shipping a controversial anti-missile system to South Korea after North Korea test-launched four medium-range missiles on Monday, U.S. officials told NBC News.
The system, called THAAD, which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is an anti-missile system designed to counter a threat like that from North Korea.
Other THAAD systems are already active in Hawaii and Guam to defend against North Korea, but the shield hadn’t yet been deployed to South Korea — a scenario that Beijing has denounced as a “clear, present and substantive threat to China’s security interests.”
I wonder if tRump will give us a heads-up if he decides to start a war with China and North Korea? Huffington Post: North Korea Warns Of ‘Actual War’ Over Military Exercises.
North Korea said on Tuesday it would pursue its nuclear deterrent and weapons program as huge U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises it says model a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against Pyongyang continued.
South Korea and the United States, which led condemnation of North Korea’s latest missile tests at the Conference on Disarmament, said their military drills were to test defensive readiness against possible aggression from the North.
North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Choi told the United Nations-backed forum that the allies’ annual exercises were “a major cause of escalation of tension that might turn into actual war”.
“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is firm in its determination to further bolster its defense capabilities with a nuclear deterrent as a pivot so as to put an end to danger of nuclear war caused by the United States,” Ju said.
During the 90-minute session, envoys from more than 20 countries, including North Korea’s main ally China, as well as Britain, France, Russia and the United States, condemned North Korea’s test-firing of four ballistic missiles on Monday.
On the health insurance (definitely not health care) bill, here’s Sarah Kliff at Vox: The American Health Care Act: the Republicans’ bill to replace Obamacare, explained. Also at Vox, Ezra Klein: The GOP health bill doesn’t know what problem it’s trying to solve. You’ll need to go read both of those–there’s much too much to excerpt.
But here’s a little news from the ridiculous Jason Chaffetz. Think Progress: GOP congressman says Trumpcare will force people to choose between new iPhone and health insurance.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on CNN, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) suggested that under Trumpcare, Americans will face some tough choices — like buying an iPhone or making sure they can see a doctor.
Pressed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota about whether he’s concerned Trumpcare’s reduced tax incentives and lack of individual mandate will result in less people having insurance, Chaffetz said, “Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said that they don’t want.” ….
The cost of a new iPhone 7 without a contract is roughly $700. By comparison, the per-capita cost of health care in the U.S. last year was $10,345. Even when insurance coverage that defrays some of that cost is factored in, Americans still spend way less on phones than they do on health care….
If too many healthy people decide to forego health care they don’t think they’ll need in favor of new phones under Trumpcare, prices will go up for those remaining in the health insurance market, creating a “death spiral.”
Chaffetz is such a nasty man, to paraphrase tRump on Hillary.
The New York Times on the Wikileaks story, which sounds very serious: WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents.
WASHINGTON — WikiLeaks on Tuesday released thousands of documents that it said described sophisticated software tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.
If the documents are authentic, as appeared likely at first review, the release would be the latest coup for the anti-secrecy organization and a serious blow to the C.I.A., which maintains its own hacking capabilities to be used for espionage.
The initial release, which WikiLeaks said was only the first part of the document collection, included 7,818 web pages with 943 attachments, the group said. The entire archive of C.I.A. material consists of several hundred million lines of computer code, it said.
Among other disclosures that, if confirmed, would rock the technology world, the WikiLeaks release said that the C.I.A. and allied intelligence services had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”
The source of the documents was not named. WikiLeaks said the documents, which it called Vault 7, had been “circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”
WikiLeaks said the source, in a statement, set out policy questions that “urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the C.I.A.’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency.” The source, the group said, “wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”
The documents, from the C.I.A’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, are dated from 2013 to 2016, and WikiLeaks described them as “the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” One former intelligence officer who briefly reviewed the documents on Tuesday morning said some of the code names for C.I.A. programs, an organization chart and the description of a C.I.A. hacking base appeared to be genuine.
It will be very interesting to see how tRump responds to this disastrous situation, which obviously is the work of his buddy Vladimir Putin.
Here’s an interesting article by Noah Feldman at Bloomberg on tRump’s accusation that former President Barack Obama “wiretapped” phones in tRump Tower: Trump’s Wiretap Tweets Raise Risk of Impeachment.
The sitting president has accused his predecessor of an act that could have gotten the past president impeached. That’s not your ordinary exercise of free speech. If the accusation were true, and President Barack Obama ordered a warrantless wiretap of Donald Trump during the campaign, the scandal would be of Watergate-level proportions.
But if the allegation is not true and is unsupported by evidence, that too should be a scandal on a major scale. This is the kind of accusation that, taken as part of a broader course of conduct, could get the current president impeached. We shouldn’t care that the allegation was made early on a Saturday morning on Twitter.
The basic premise of the First Amendment is that truth should defeat her opposite number. “Let her and Falsehood grapple,” wrote the poet and politician John Milton, “who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”
But this rather optimistic adage only accounts for speech and debate between citizens. It doesn’t apply to accusations made by the government. Those are something altogether different.
In a rule of law society, government allegations of criminal activity must be followed by proof and prosecution. If not, the government is ruling by innuendo.
Shadowy dictatorships can do that because there is no need for proof. Democracies can’t.
Thus, an accusation by a president isn’t like an accusation leveled by one private citizen against another. It’s about more than factual truth or carelessness.
Read the rest at the link.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
With over 60% reporting and Hochul holding onto her lead, lots of people calling it for Hochul:
Another great tweet:
@thepeoplesview: First Republican electoral casualty of Paul Ryan’s Kill-Medicare plan: Kathy Hochul wins in NY-26! Hee!
As I noted in my post earlier tonight, in a move signaling how weak the GOP is, their candidate Jane Corwin obtained a court order blocking a certification of the winner tonight… it looks like we’ll have to wait until Thursday or so, but let the celebrating begin… here’s hoping this is a huge blow to DC and the Austerity crowd.
It was after all Kirsten Gillibrand, and not DC Dems, who saw the opening in NY-26 and campaigned hard for Kathy Hochul…via the Hill:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has emerged as one of the most prominent supporters of New York House candidate Kathy Hochul.
Washington Democrats have been keeping their distance from Hochul, the party’s nominee in the May 24 special election for former Rep. Chris Lee’s (R-N.Y.) seat. Meanwhile, Republicans leaders including Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) and Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) have lent their backing to the GOP nominee, Jane Corwin.
Gillibrand, a former upstate congresswoman, sent a fundraising pitch on Hochul’s behalf and teamed with the pro-choice group EMILY’s List to urge activists to lend their support.
“Kathy is an extraordinary candidate,” Gillibrand said Tuesday during a Web forum hosted by EMILY’s List. “I know she can win this race.”
This just reminds me of all the attacks on Coakley and Emily’s List during the Scott Brown race… as I said then, “In Defense of the Emily’s List Candidate”:
Emily’s List produced a winning primary candidate (they backed the candidate who won the popular vote in the 2008 primaries too for that matter). It’s the Obama Era of the Democratic party that has created bad electoral conditions for Democratic nominees and made it difficult for liberals to stand on principle. (Even the socialist in the U.S. Senate voted for Obama’s health insurance scam. Way to discredit the right-wing canard that Obama’s terrible policies are synonymous with socialism.)
The one surefire way to avoid becoming the target of local backlash against Obama is to run against Obama’s policies–and in today’s environment where the activist left is split up along deep fault lines (“submit to party unity or else you’re a certain class of politician, voter, or woman”), Democratic nominees do not have the benefit of a ready-made independent fundraising network to take on the Obama machine during a general election yet. Of course they could try to build one, but either way it is an uphill battle and there is no easy path to victory whatever they choose.
This race was somewhat different in that Hochul could run against the GOP’s toxic Ryancare rather than against Obamacare, but when you hear all the spin tonight and the Dem machine taking credit for Hochul’s win, remember that it was Kirsten Gillibrand and Emily’s List who shored up Kathy Hochul, not Washington Dems, who were too afraid to get behind Hochul.
The “Emily’s List” candidate won in the very red district of NY-26!
Congrats to Kathy, and Kirsten for president!
Hochul’s win tonight also makes Eric Cantor’s and Jonah Goldberg’s push for Paul Ryan to run for president (not to mention Charles Krathammer’s “Draft Paul Ryan” noises from a month ago) all the more ridiculous and embarrassing for the GOP.
UPDATE, via Buffalo News, with 57% of precincts reporting, Kathy Hochul leads Jane Corwin by 4 points:
Hochul , Kathy 47%
Corwin , Jane 43%
Davis , Jack 8%
Murphy , Ian 1%
Tonight’s the big day for NY-26. Election returns are supposed to start showing up here after the polls close tonight. Democrat Kathy Hochul has got the technical edge in some very close polling, which is amazing for this very red district, and the following reporting from Wapo’s Behind the Numbers earlier today seems to point to good news on how the internals are shaking out for her as well:
N.Y.-26 Special Election – Tuesday’s Special Election in New York’s 26th Congressional District finds a very tight race in available polling. Democrat Kathy Hochul has a numerical lead of 42 percent to 38 percent for Republican Jane Corwin and 12 percent for tea party candidate Jack Davis in data from Siena College Research Institute. Those results are well within the poll’s margin of error completed Friday.
Despite the very close numbers, some of the internals are revealing. Hochul secures more of her base voters, winning 76 percent among Democrats, while Corwin only secures 66 percent of her base Republican voters. Independents tilt to Hochul by 44 to 36 percent. Again, those results among independents are within the error margins.
Many pundits have pointed to this race as an early test of Republican attempts to tackle Medicare as a part of budget reform. In the Siena poll, Medicare was not singled out as the most important issue in the vote. Fully 21 percent call it most important, about the same level as the federal budget (19 percent) and jobs (20 percent). Medicare does rise to the top for Democrats, but less so for Republicans and independents.
This afternoon, the NYT Caucus reported heavy turnout and had this to say, in terms of what that means for Hochul and Corwin:
Turnout appeared fairly strong for the special election in western New York State’s 26th Congressional district on Tuesday, officials said. But it was not immediately clear which of the candidates, if any, would benefit from the high degree of voters’ interest in the race.
But what that high interest will translate into, in terms of votes, is hard to discern. If turnout is strong across the board, Ms. Corwin would likely stand to benefit, since Republicans have a large registration advantage in the district. Ms. Hochul, for her part, would be in a particularly strong position if voters in Erie County, where she is county clerk, turn out in high numbers.
In a move indicating just how vulnerable the GOP is, Jane Corwin has obtained a court order barring certification of a winner tonight… via Buffalo News:
Jane L. Corwin this afternoon obtained a court order from State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia barring a certification of a winner in the special 26th Congressional District race pending a show-cause hearing before him later this week.
The Buffalo News obtained a copy of the show-cause order Buscaglia signed this morning based on a petition the Republican candidate filed Monday.
Under the judge’s 11-page order, attorneys for Corwin have until Wednesday to serve copies of the court order on the election boards of Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Livingston and Monroe counties, their sheriff’s offices, the state Board of Elections and her three opponents.
The Atlantic Wire has a good overview of the race and what various pundits are saying — Get Ready to Spin the Results of New York-26:
Voters in New York’s 26th congressional district are voting Tuesday to pick a replacement for Chris Lee, who resigned after the whole Internet saw him with his top off. The special election is now seen as a referendum on Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to phase out Medicare because even though the district is conservative, Democrat Kathy Hochul is ahead in the polls. As the national significance debated, the parties are mounting big get-out-the-vote operations–Republican Jane Corwin’s campaign had 500 volunteers knocking on doors over the weekend–150 of them bussed up from Washington, the Niagara Gazette‘s Eric DuVall reports. Hochul says the Democratic Party is running a “full field program” with hundreds of volunteers contacting thousands of voters.
Politico’s Alex Isenstadt writes that both parties are playing the “expectations game”–Republicans saying this race means nothing because third party candidate Jack Davis is siphoning votes from Corwin (pictured above, voting), and Democrats insisting they shouldn’t even be competitive in such a red district. (Conservatives started spinning the race even before polls put Hochul ahead, Dave Weigel notes.) And this strategy can be seen in browsing political blogs: liberal sites are giving a lot of coverage to the race Tuesday, while few conservative sites are bothering with it (the opposite was true in Wisconsin’s special election earlier this year, once missing votes were found handing the race to the conservative candidate.) The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait says the race might be an outlier, but it’s still significant. It has “centered almost entirely around the exact theme that Democrats plan to employ in the next election cycle,” Chait writes. “All this suggests the party has gotten deep traction on the issue, and that the public can react against the policies of the House GOP. The political landscape that produced the Republican sweep of 2010 is gone. Just what replaces it remains to be seen.”
NBC’s First Read says that special elections aren’t a good guide to how the parties will fare in fall elections–but still, the power of Medicare shouldn’t be understated. A “GOP loss in NY-26–a district John McCain won in 2008, 52%-46%–would be a wake-up call for Republicans on Medicare, forcing their House members and even presidential candidates to re-evaluate how they approach the issue.”
Bill Clinton and Chris Chrisitie hit the phones for their respective party candidates… via Talking Points Memo:
“Now, I’m sure you’ve received many phone calls about this election already, nut please just give me a few seconds of your time as the election draws near,” Christie says in the call, according to The Buffalo News. “I’m calling to ask you for your support for Jane Corwin for Congress as you go to the polls Tuesday, May 24th. I ran for governor of New Jersey because like you, I wanted to see REAL change. Jane Corwin is a fighter who knows how to get things done. We’re in critical times for our country, and Washington needs stand-up leaders who will fight to control spending and change business as usual.”
Rallying Democrats, former President and current New York State resident Bill Clinton has recorded a call as well. Clinton’s script focuses tightly on the Medicare angle that Democrats have been pushing in the district, an approach they credit with their current lead in the polls.
“You can count on Kathy to say no to partisan politics that would end Medicare as we know it to pay for more tax cuts for multi-millionaires,” he says. “That’s just one reason I hope you’ll join me in supporting Kathy Hochul for Congress in the Special Election tomorrow, May 24th.”
ABC News on why NY-26 matters:
First, “If Hochul wins, even in a three-way race, it will be great news for Democrats, who will use the victory not only to talk about Medicare, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget and their own momentum, but also to recruit candidates around the country and raise funds,” the Rothenberg Political Report stated in a recent analysis. “And Democrats will have a right to brag, given the district’s fundamentals and the cash that Corwin and Republican groups have poured into the race.”
Second, the N.Y.-26 election would help both sides determine whether national dollars by party organizations and interest groups really make a difference.
Third, the race is important nationally because it has exposed the divisiveness and relative lack of coordination within the Tea Party movement. The biggest Tea Party group in the area, TEA New York, has endorsed Corwin, but not all Tea Party activisits are on board, which sends a warning sign to Washington that they will not back candidates based on party affiliation alone.
All eyes are obviously going to be on the exit polling and what it says about Ryancare.
Also from the link:
Hochul, the Erie County clerk, is widely expected to pull a victory in what would be a stunning defeat for Corwin, a state assemblywoman. The last Democrat to be elected from the district left office eight years ago, and only three Democrats have won in this area in the past century. New York’s 26th was only one of four districts in the state that voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Hochul, however, has been cautious about declaring victory too quickly.
“We don’t have the enrollment advantage, but I’m going to keep fighting till the very last minute,” she said at a restaurant in Amherst.
NY Magazine has a primer on how to interpret the tonight’s returns… if Hochul wins, here’s pretty much what to expect from the Dems and points to consider about the validity of their claims:
Democrats point to this surprising result as the first definitive proof of the powerful opposition to Ryan’s Medicare-reform plan. The plan is clearly as toxic as a stroll through Fukushima, as they’ve been saying all along, and it will likely lead to an Obama victory in November of 2012.
It’s true that voters who care most about Medicare are strongly in Hochul’s camp, according to polling. But the causality here isn’t quite so clear-cut, as Nate Silver explains:
What’s tricky about this is that it isn’t straightforward to determine whether voters are prepared to vote for Ms. Hochul because of the Medicare issue — or rather, whether they were going to vote for her for some other reason, but emphasize Medicare to pollsters because she has also.
There are also other factors to consider — the candidates themselves, their reputations and personalities, for example. So though Medicare will play a role in the outcome, it will be difficult to tell how large that role will be.
And even assuming that opposition to Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is a decisive factor, how much can that foretell about November 2012? The Medicare plan may be a central issue at the moment, but will it remain prominent in the political discussion fifteen months from now? What if an agreement on reforming Medicare has been reached by then? What if the presidential election, or unforeseeable events, cause other issues to overshadow the debate over Medicare entirely? It’s a long time until 2012.
And points to consider about the GOP spin if Hochul wins:
Republicans will insist that they would have won if not for the presence of Jack Davis, the eccentric businessman pulling in around 12 or 13 percent of the vote on the Tea Party line, and therefore the results are meaningless, and everyone should forget that this ever happened. The truth though, is that if Hochul wins, it’s a victory regardless of Davis. Davis may be running on the “Tea Party” line this year, but he ran as a Democrat for the same seat in 2004, 2006, and 2008, and his “ideology is too inconsistent to be readily categorized,” as the Washington Post put it. In a recent Siena poll, he draws about the same amount of support from Republicans as he does from Democrats. In other words, if Hochul wins, it won’t be because Davis split the conservative vote.
On the other hand, if Corwin pulls it out, here’s how NY mag breaks down what to expect from the spinmeisters and how to gauge what they are saying:
The Democratic Spin:
Democrats will insist that, because this is usually such a Republican-friendly district, they overperformed despite losing. And that may be true, depending on the margin of victory, because this district has been represented by a Republican for 40 of the last 50 years, including the last eight, and John McCain carried it by 6 percent over Barack Obama in 2008. Using that result as a benchmark, it’s fair to say that if Hochul loses by a few points to Corwin, the Democrats still beat expectations, and can plausibly claim a sort of moral victory, if not a tangible one. But if Hochul loses by six or more points, there’s no way Democrats can spin this in their favor.
The Republican Counter-Spin:
Republicans will claim that a win by any margin, regardless of the “Beltway expectations game,” proves that the Democrats’ “Mediscaring” strategy has failed miserably and that Ryan’s Medicare plan isn’t as toxic as the Democrats and the liberal media would like everyone to believe. In fact, as this was essentially the first referendum on the GOP’s Medicare plan, Democrats in Congress should now heed this mandate and enact the plan into law.
The polls will close at 9 p.m. Eastern. Again, the numbers are supposed to start streaming here once voting has ended.
I’ll leave you with this teaser from Huffpo’s Mark Blumenthal and his take on how to watch the numbers as they roll in:
Judging vote composition is tricky when results are incomplete, but the percentage contributed by Erie and Niagara Counties is worth watching. If Democrats are having an exceptionally good night, the share of the vote from Erie and Niagara might be a point or two higher than the last few elections. If the vote share from those counties winds up being a point or two lower, then Republicans may post even stronger numbers than in 2010.
This is an open thread.