The Open Thread for June 30, 2017

COLLUSION! “Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.”

“Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.”

Jonathan Swan: “There are plenty of doomsayers, but on the inside — both inside the administration and in senior Senate offices — I’m finding a number of officials who’ve been skeptical all along are now quietly predicting it’s going to happen.”

Said an administration source: “I think we’re going to pass this. I really think they’ll bribe off the moderates with opioid money and then actually move policy to shore up Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. … If it was going to fail, McConnell would’ve put it on the floor. He wants people on the record — put up or shut up. He would’ve said: ‘Fuck it, let’s fail now and move onto tax reform.’ … Now he’s going to eat up another two weeks of floor time. He’s not going to waste those weeks unless he thinks he can do this.”

“Several Senate Republicans began to question whether their health-care bill should repeal a tax on high-income Americans imposed by Obamacare when the legislation would scale back subsidies for the poor,” Bloomberg reports.

“Scaling back the tax cuts could provide a path to winning over key moderate senators who have recoiled at the soaring premiums and deductibles for millions of low-income people as scored by the CBO, and the estimated 22 million fewer people who would have insurance in a decade. Meanwhile, conservatives have pushed to wipe out all of the taxes, though senators like Ted Cruz have not insisted every tax cut remain as part of an overall deal. Conservatives have been focused more on cutting regulations to lower premiums.”

“Senate Republicans and the White House have agreed to add at least $45 billion to their Obamacare repeal bill to address the opioid crisis and are near agreement on allowing consumers to use Health Savings Account money to pay for their premiums,” Politico reports.

“The additions come as Senate Republicans are scrambling to get to 50 votes on their health care legislation. Both additions are expected to help get additional Republicans on board – opioid funding could help win over moderates and HSAs for conservatives. But there is no guarantee the language will do enough to substantially improve the bill’s prospects, Republican sources said.”

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s frustrations with the White House have been building for months. Last Friday, they exploded. The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment,” Politico reports.

“Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to ‘have any role in staffing’ and ‘expressed frustration that anybody would know better’ than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires.”

“The episode stunned other White House officials gathered in chief of staff Reince Priebus’ office, leaving them silent as Tillerson raised his voice.”

Josh Marshall: “We’ve collectively been living in Donald Trump’s house now for more than two years. We know him really well. We know that he sees everything through a prism of the dominating and the dominated. It’s a zero-sum economy of power and humiliation. For those in his orbit he demands and gets a slavish adoration. Even those who take on his yoke of indignity are fed a steady diet mid-grade humiliations to drive home their status and satisfy Trump’s need not only for dominance but unending public displays of dominance. He is a dark, damaged person.

Trump’s treatment of the press is really a version of the same game, a set of actions meant to produce the public spectacle of ‘Trump acts; reporters beg.’ ‘Reporters beg and Trump says no.’ Demanding, shaming all amount to trying to force actions which reporters have no ability to compel. That signals weakness. And that’s the point.

Let me say this: I don’t think this is an easy situation to grapple with. But I don’t think the press can do its job if it allows itself to play this role in Trump’s public spectacle. The only way to grapple with this type of gangland White House is not to beg or demand but simply make clear that hiding, acting in secrecy is cowardly, a sign of hidden bad acts, simply unAmerican and let the Trump entourage live with that label. Begging and complaining make no sense when the point of behavior is to make you beg. It can’t work and it drives a cascading cycle of indignity that is both demoralizing and enervating.”

Martin Longman: “By acting as if the Democrats don’t matter and have nothing to contribute, the Republicans (both in the congressional leadership and in the White House) badly alienated a group of senators who might have been willing to lend Trump a hand on at least some of his agenda. And he has an agenda besides Obamacare repeal and tax reform that will need to get sixty votes in the Senate. In other words, he needs eight Democratic senators to sign off on anything he wants to do that isn’t contained in one of his two budget reconciliation bills. This was never going to be easy, which is kind of the point. To succeed, Trump couldn’t adopt a hard right agenda or think he could rely on that large of a rump of Democrats to back him in fulfilling the GOP’s longstanding wish list.

Now that McConnell has failed (at least, for now) to implement the dual budget reconciliation bill plan, he’s confessing that he’ll need Democrats to help him fix the damage his party and his strategy have done to the health care exchanges of the Affordable Care Act. Of course, that’s going to come at a price. [i.e. no repeal of Obamacare].  […]

The consequences will begin to pile up now. Trump will lash out in ever more confusing and bizarre ways. And then the indictments and plea deals will start to flow in from Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s shop. By Thanksgiving, if not before, the nation will be confronted with the urgent need to remove Trump from power and I suspect there will be more consensus about it by then than most people can imagine right now.”

“The Pentagon is putting the final touches on a promised new counter-Islamic State strategy for Syria and Iraq, and it looks very much like the one the Obama administration pursued,” the Washington Post reports.

“The core of the strategy is to deny territory to the militants and ultimately defeat them, and to stay out of Syria’s civil war pitting the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, Iran and Russia against domestic opposition forces. The two fights in that country have come into increasingly close proximity in recent months, and there have been clashes.”

“Military officials from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on down have emphasized in recent days that they are not looking for a fight with the regime or the Iranians. That has put them at odds with White House officials who have expressed concern about Iranian expansion across a new battlefield in Syria’s southern desert.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to delay a vote on a GOP health care plan is giving Democrats a big opportunity to seize the July 4 recess to dial up the pressure to kill the bill,” USA Today reports. “Several outside progressive groups are planning campaigns over the congressional recess to highlight the stories of real Americans who could lose health care – and targeting vulnerable and moderate Republican senators with paid media, phone calls and protests.”

“The Trump administration moved aggressively on Thursday to fulfill one of the president’s most contentious campaign promises, banning entry into the United States by refugees from around the world and prohibiting most visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries,” the New York Times reports.

“Freed by the Supreme Court to partly revive President Trump’s travel ban, administration officials said the American border would be shut to those groups unless specific individuals can prove they have close family members living in the United States, or are coming to attend a university or accept a job offer.”

Charles Blow says that Trump is obsessed with Obama.  “Trump wants to be Obama — held in high esteem. But, alas, Trump is Trump, and that is now and has always been trashy. Trump accrued financial wealth, but he never accrued cultural capital, at least not among the people from whom he most wanted it. Therefore, Trump is constantly whining about not being sufficiently applauded, commended, thanked, liked. His emotional injury is measured in his mind against Obama. How could Obama have been so celebrated while he is so reviled?”

::Raises hand:: Because Obama is a good, decent family man with excellent character.  He is humble, and acts like it.   Donald, you will never be as good a man as Obama.  Never.


7 comments on “The Open Thread for June 30, 2017

  1. Joe Scarborough goes to war with Trump. Pass the popcorn!

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

    Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show

    8:55 AM – 30 Jun 2017

    Joe S. responds:

    Joe Scarborough‏Verified account @JoeNBC

    Joe Scarborough Retweeted Donald J. Trump

    Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.

    9:02 AM – 30 Jun 2017

    Release the texts and phone records!

    • As I’m binge watching Game of Thrones (and I have now idea why I waited until now to do this), I’m struck by how Trump acts like the Mad Boy King Jeoffry in the show.

  2. Sure Trump’s insane tweets are fun, obnoxious and above all else childish but how about that NRA video? Borders on a call to arms and political violence, great way to start a civil war as well. And all this from a lobbying group that seems to be way too big for their britches.

  3. Also saw where the Trump barrage was precluded a half hour earlier by a tweet by his staffer. Says to me that Trump’s not knee-jerking these tantrums but that they are a sorry strategy ploy. Straight outta Breitbart? Sad!

    “About a half hour before Trump’s attack, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino tweeted his own broadside at Scarborough and Brzezinski: “#DumbAsARockMika and lover #JealousJoe are lost, confused & saddened since @POTUS @realDonaldTrump stopped returning their calls! Unhinged.””

  4. I don’t want to give clicks to the NRA, thanks. Will take your word for it.

  5. cassandram

    So this is not encouraging. Vox asked a number of Dem Senators and House Reps what they would do to fix Obamacare. Reinsurance and reigning in prescription drug prices is good, but nowhere near what needs to happen.

  6. meatball

    I heard the NRA commercial yesterday as it was being discussed on NPR. It truly came off as a call to arms. Also, it was released over a month ago.

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