Weekly Newsletter

Vol. 33: Patently Misleading

July 3, 2017 – Day 236 Post Election

The TrumpShaker Top Three
July 3, 2017 – Independence Day Eve – Day 236 P.E (Post Election).
On Life Support
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of the Senate GOP health care bill. It was as terrible as expected, projecting that the health care bill would cause 22 million people tolose health insurance over the next 10 years. The CBO projected that over a 20-year period the bill would cut Medicaid by 35%.

It turns out the public is not super excited about a bill that takes money away from people in nursing homes and gives that money to the very rich. A USA Today/Suffolk poll showed just 12% support for the Republican bill. As comparison, 14% of Americans believe Bigfoot is real.

Republicans have been unable to make a compelling argument to support this bill. The most conservative senators, like Ted Cruz (R-TX), think it doesn’t go far enough in ending the ACA. Republican senators from purple states and/or those which have expanded Medicaid are not sure they want to risk their career on a bill that makes the lives of people in their state worse. Trump can’t fight for it because, he . . . umm . . . doesn’t understand it. From The New York Times: “A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan—and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.”

With so many disgruntled parties and passage far from assured, Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reluctantly postponed the vote until after the July 4 recess.

So is this horrible bill dead? Can we celebrate? Well, in just the past year, Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat, eliminated the filibuster for judicial appointments, blocked a bipartisan response to the Russian attack on the election, and refused to meet with the March of Dimes to discuss health care reform. The March of Dimes funded the polio treatment of a young, poor Mitch McConnell and kept him from being paralyzed. Mitch McConnell is a terrible person. Mitch wants to pass this terrible bill. It is not dead. This is the part in the horror movie when the killer everyone thought was dead shockingly comes back to life.

What’s McConnell’s next move? The CBO score actually had some good news for McConnell and the GOP. It projected $188 billion in savings over 10 years, meaning that McConnell has a $188 billion slush fund to play with in order to bribe senators on the fence. You may think bribe is a bit harsh of a term, but it’s literally what the administration is saying. One administration official told Axios, “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 [R-UT] and Ted Cruz.”  

McConnell has put in two revised versions for another set of CBO scores. It’s not clear what is in these two versions, but one version is believed to include the Cruz amendment. That change allows insurance companies to sell plans that do not protect those with pre-existing conditions and/or do not meet the quality requirements of the Affordable Care Act as long as they sell at least one plan that is ACA compliant. In other words, Cruz’s plan allows insurance companies to sell worthless insurance policies. The thinking is that people (or businesses) will buy these cheaper plans, which is all they can afford. Therefore the reported numbers of “uninsured” won’t look as bad. In fact though, millions will not have adequate insurance when they need it. Cruz is putting a lot of cynical lipstick on this pig of a bill.

A vote is expected in mid-July. To fight McConnell’s bribes and GOP peer pressure, it’s essential to keep up the heat on wavering senators: Collins in Maine, Murkowski in Alaska, Gardner in Colorado, Cassidy in Louisiana, Portman in Ohio, Capito in West Virginia, and Heller in Nevada. If you’re wondering if you’re doing enough, think of the group of 10 disabled protesters who performed a 48-hour sit-in at Senator Gardner’s Denver office. Many slept in their wheelchairs. Gardner refused to meet with them and insteadhad them arrested. They spent over 24-hours in jail.

White House Blackmail 
On Thursday morning, the President of the United States made the following official statement via Twitterabout two morning talk show hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” To get the full unhinged misogyny, I suggest listening to Mark Hamill’s rendition of this as The Joker.

Amazingly, people who have not been living in caves for the past 24 months were actually shocked that Trump said this. Republicans in Congress made strong statements against Trump, but then quickly repelled down from their high moral ground to work on eliminating health care. In case you’re wondering how Melania’s pet project fighting cyber-bullying is going, I got this video of her assistant telling herabout Trump’s latest tweet barrage.

As is seemingly often the case, something classless, pathetic, and dumb that Trump said shined a light on a potential crime. Mika and Joe responded to Trump by accusing the President of blackmail. They said that back in December, the National Enquirer (owned by a buddy of Trump) threatened to run a negative story about the two of them. White House staffers then called Joe multiple times telling him that all he had to do was call Trump and apologize for saying negative things about him, then Trump would make the story disappear.

According to The Washington Post, the White House staff felt the problem wasn’t what Trump tweeted, but rather who it was tweeted about. “Some White House advisers said they were frustrated that the Brzezinski feud . . . overtook the president’s fight with CNN, which seemed in their eyes to have clearer villains and heroes.” Trump must have made his staff happy on Sunday morning when he tweeted a movie of himself body slamming CNN. Trumps sent this tweet one month after a GOP congressional candidate assaulted a reporter. The video Trump tweeted was created by someone who goes by the name of “Hanassholesolo” and posts things online about killing homeless people. We’re in a lot of trouble, folks.

Patently Misleading
The Republican efforts to surpress and undermine voting are getting called up to the big leagues.

There is just one federal agency tasked with providing election oversight, including leading efforts on election cyber-security — the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). This week, in the midst of an investigation into Russians hacking into election databases, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee voted to terminate the EAC.

While the House was voting to end federal election watchdogs, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, began ramping up its efforts. Its stated mission is to examine “improper voter registrations and improper voting.” Its unstated mission is to verify Trump’s false claim of millions of illegal votes and lay the foundation for suppressing voting nationally. Leading the commission is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has made it his life’s work to make it more difficult for people to voteand just last week was fined by a federal magistrate judge for “patently misleading representations,” in a suit by the ACLU. Joining Kobach is probably the second worst man for voting rights in the country,Hans von Spakovsky. When he was up for confirmation to the Federal Elections Commission, six former Department of Justice professionals wrote a letter naming von Spakovsky the “point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights.”

The Commission launched its work this week by requesting from every state a complete list of voters’ names, birthdays, the last four digits of their social security, and their voting history. Voting rights advocates fear that the Commission is building this database to make specious attacks about voter fraud, e.g. noting how many people are registered in multiple states, and then pushing to purge voter roles.

Thankfully, over half of the states, both red and blue, have told Kobach and the Committee to go jump in a lake – almost literally. In response to the request, the Mississippi Secretary of State said, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.” Oh, and do you know which is one of the states to already say it can’t fully comply? Kansas. Yep, even Kris Kobach realizes that Kris Kobach is out of control.

You’re looking at the newest bad guy in Appalachian Mountain Wrestling, the Progressive Liberal. His finishing move is “The Liberal Agenda.” Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with this.
Quick TrumpShakes
Endless This Authorization – Something unexpected happened and . . . it was good! Seriously, there was a surprise this week and for once it wasn’t the equivalent of getting Gwyneth Paltrow’s head delivered in a box. In 2001, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) cast the only vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). AUMF cleared the way for the war in Afghanistan and ongoing Presidential authority to use force without Congressional approval. Since 2001, Lee has pushed to repeal the authorization every Congressional session. She has been defeated every session. Nevertheless, she persisted. This week, the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee approved Lee’s amendment to repeal the AUMF. Her amendment will now be debated on the House floor. Trump is finally bringing the country together, because everyone is frightened of what he might do with our armed services.

As The Tяump Turns – This week on As The Tяump Turns, it’s beginning to look a bit like collusion every where we go. The Wall Street Journal reported that shortly after Trump gave his infamous, “Russia, if you’re listening”, press conference in July, 2016, a GOP insider, Peter W. Smith, tried to track down the allegedly missing 33,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s server. Smith sought out hacker groups to get these emails, including ones with Russian connections. He also insinuated he was doing this in concert with Trump campaign advisor and soon to be former National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn.  For a real behind the music experience, read the article by the source of The Wall Street Journal article, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians”. Oh, but if you’re looking to hear Smith’s side of it, you can’t. He died 10 days after talking to The Wall Street Journal.

All We Are Saying Is Give War a Chance – UN Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was angling for the only sane person in the asylum role, but she just flew over the cuckoo’s nest this week, celebrating cutting the UN budget for peacekeeping. “Just 5 months into our time here, we’ve cut over half a billion $$$ from the UN peacekeeping budget & we’re only getting started.”

Time Lies and Trump Is There – The Washington Post reported that in at least five of Trump’s golf resorts, there is a framed Time Magazine on the wall with Trump on the cover. Why that is newsworthy is the magazines in question are literally fake news. They are completely bogus magazines. Basically, Trump went down to Six Flags and made a fake Time Magazine cover. He probably had to wait behind some 13-year-old putting himself on the cover of Muscle & Fitness to show off at his Bar Mitzvah. This reminder of how insecure Trump is did have a silver lining for me personally. It made me remember how great Time Magazine commercials used to be: “subscribe today and you can get an alarm clock with a push button phone!”

SCOTUS Decision I: Gorsuch Not Gay (About Pro-LGBT Decision) – The Supreme Court overturned a state court ruling which had allowed Arkansas to refuse to list same-sex spouses on a birth certificate. I’m not a legal scholar, but I think the opinion more or less said, “Seriously, guys? We’re still talking about this. How many times do we have to tell you?” While the 6-3 decision was expected, it did provide insight into our newest justice, he of the stolen seat, Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch dissented, coming out strongly against the LGBT rights that stem from the Obergefell decision (confirming the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples). Even if Trump is impeached tomorrow, his legacy may live on for the next 30 years in Gorsuch, who according to Slate is “everything liberals feared – and more.”

SCOTUS Decision II: A Bona Fide Muslim Ban – In another 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court lifted the stay on Trump’s travel ban for some of the people coming from Trump’s targeted Muslim-majority countries (Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). The travel ban is now in effect for everyone from those countries for the next 90 days, except those with a bona fide relationship in the U.S. This means those who are students in U.S. schools,. have a job here, or have certain relatives in the U.S. (grandparents don’t count according to the Trump administration), are still eligible for a visa. The three dissenting justices (Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch) would have allowed Trump’s complete ban to take effect and not require him to allow those with a bona fide relationship to enter the country. The Take Care blog has a good analysis of the Court’s action. The Court will hear the case this fall.

You’d Think the U.S. Government Could at Least Follow the First Law of Robotics – Sleep well everyone, the United States rejected the visa request from the all-girl robotics team in Afghanistan. They wanted to come to the U.S., i.e., the country that has been bombing their home since before they were born, for one week to compete in an international contest. To apply for the visa, the teenagers had to travel over 500 miles to Kabul. Twice. I will give my life savings to any member of Trump’s cabinet who could complete that trip even once.

The Right to Strike Fear in the Armed – A recent NRA ad has gained attention because it’s less subtle than something put out by High Chancellor Sutler. Seriously, take a minute and watch this. The divisions in this country will not be healed for a long time.

Featured Article of the Week

The New Yorker published an amazing feature article on an environmentalist in mining country in “The Future of Coal Country“.
Action Center
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