Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/11 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Even Lots of Republicans Think the Feds Should Guarantee Health Care For All http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/even-lots-republicans-think-feds-should-guarantee-health-care-all <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/13/more-americans-say-government-should-ensure-health-care-coverage/" target="_blank">Via Pew Research,</a> here's another reason that Republicans might have more trouble than they think repealing Obamacare:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_healthcare_government_responsibility.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Republicans have been chanting "repeal and replace" for so long that people have started to believe the "replace" part. Even among Republicans, half of those with working-class incomes and a third of those with middle-class incomes believe the federal government ought to guarantee health coverage for everyone. It's only rich Republicans who are dead set against it.</p> <p>So what is Donald Trump going to do about that? Unfortunately, the answer is pretty obvious: he's going to propose a replacement plan that does hardly anything for anyone and then he's going to lie about it&mdash;loudly and relentlessly. Congressional Republicans will all join in, and the press will then report that the effect of the replacement plan is "controversial." Because, really, who can say what it does? All those numbers are pretty confusing, after all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 17 Jan 2017 03:54:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 323306 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Demands an Apology From You http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/donald-trump-demands-apology-you <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just out of curiosity, I did a quick check to see how many people/organizations Donald Trump has demanded an apology from since he began his presidential campaign. The answer is 21:</p> <ul><li>Intelligence chiefs</li> <li>Cast and producers of Hamilton</li> <li>Mika Brzezinski</li> <li>The media</li> <li>Ruth Bader Ginsburg</li> <li>CNN</li> <li>Wall Street Journal</li> <li>Vicente Fox</li> <li>Mark Halperin</li> <li>Hillary Clinton</li> <li>Rachel Maddow</li> <li>Chuck Todd</li> <li>Chris Christie</li> <li>The liberal media</li> <li>The Washington Post</li> <li>Carly Fiorina</li> <li>Fox News</li> <li>Tom Llamas</li> <li>Charles Krauthammer</li> <li>John McCain</li> <li>Univision</li> </ul><p>For a guy who never apologizes himself, he sure does demand a lot of apologies from others, doesn't he?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:55:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 323301 at http://www.motherjones.com We've Reached #cut50 For Young Black Men http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/weve-reached-cut50-young-black-men <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's some good news for MLK Day. The incarceration rate for young black men is now <a href="http://www.ricknevin.com/1-15-17.html" target="_blank">down more than half since 2001:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nevin_black_incarceration.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 30px;"></p> <p>The not-so-good news is that this has nothing to do with better criminal justice policies or efforts to create opportunities for people of color. It's because of lead. The younger you are, the more likely you are to have grown up in a (mostly) lead-free environment, and that means you're less likely to have committed a felony or gotten sent to prison. Because prison sentences in America tend to be long, de-incarceration lags falling crime rates by a fair amount, but eventually it does catch up.</p> <p>You'll note that, generally speaking, black incarceration has fallen more than white incarceration. The reason for this is simple: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/lead-and-crime-how-it-connects-race" target="_blank">the biggest victims of lead poisoning in the 1960-90 era</a> were residents of urban cores, which had more lead paint and higher concentrations of gasoline lead than other areas. These residents were disproportionately black, so when lead levels went up it affected blacks more strongly than whites. But when leaded gasoline was banned and lead poisoning declined, that also affected blacks more strongly than whites. Black crime rates fell more steeply than white crime rates, and now black incarceration is falling more steeply than white incarceration.</p> <p>We're still at nothing close to parity, of course. Lead explains some things, but it doesn't explain the stain of racism and greed in men's hearts. This is America's original sin, and it will take more than an EPA regulation to overcome it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:23:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 323296 at http://www.motherjones.com Monica Crowley Is the First Casualty of the Trump Administration http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/monica-crowley-first-casualty-trump-administration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Monica Crowley <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/16/crowley-forgo-post-trump-white-house/" target="_blank">won't be joining the Trump administration after all:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration,&rdquo; she said in a statement. &ldquo;I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump&rsquo;s team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>I haven't bothered blogging about this, but just in case you missed the news, it turns out that Crowley is a serial plagiarist. As it happens, I have a pretty high tolerance for the kind of plagiarism that's usually involved in cases like this (a dozen lines or paragraphs that are semi-copied from other sources in a 500-page book), but it turns out that Crowley also <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/monica-crowley-plagiarism-phd-dissertation-columbia-214612" target="_blank">plagiarized great big chunks of her PhD dissertation.</a> That's a different thing altogether. Not only did she plagiarize <em>a lot</em>, but she did it in a setting where the whole point is to demonstrate original research and original thought. I don't know if universities can rescind a PhD, but I'll bet Columbia is looking pretty hard at doing just that.</p> <p>I doubt that either Trump or Michael Flynn cares about this, but on the other hand, they probably don't care much about Crowley either. So she's gone.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 16 Jan 2017 17:48:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 323291 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Do Republicans Hate Obamacare? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/why-republicans-hate-obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why are Republicans so hellbent on repealing Obamacare? This came up on Twitter the other day, and at first it sounds like a silly question. They've been opposed to Obamacare from the start, and they've been vocal about what they don't like.</p> <p>But it's a more interesting question than it seems. After all, we no longer have to guess about its effects. We know. So let's take a look.</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The Good.</strong> Obamacare has provided <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/03/03/20-million-people-have-gained-health-insurance-coverage-because-affordable-care-act-new-estimates" target="_blank">more than 20 million people</a>&mdash;most of them low-income or working class&mdash;with health coverage. It has done this with no negative effects on either <a href="https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.html" target="_blank">Medicare</a> or the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-huge-and-undercovered-obamacare-success-story" target="_blank">employer health insurance market.</a> It didn't raise taxes more than a few pennies on <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/repealing-affordable-care-act-would-cut-taxes-high-income-households-raise-taxes-many-others" target="_blank">anyone making less than six figures.</a> It's had no effect on the willingness of companies to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/06/obamacare-still-doing-great-still-not-causing-involuntary-part-time-work" target="_blank">hire full-time workers.</a> Health care costs under Obamacare have continued to grow at <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/06/today-brings-yet-more-obamacare-non-failure" target="_blank">very modest rates.</a> And it's accomplished all this <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/51385-HealthInsuranceBaseline.pdf" target="_blank">under its original budget.</a></p> <p><strong>The Bad.</strong> Obamacare unquestionably has some problems. About 20 percent of its customers choose Bronze plans with very high deductibles. Some of the least expensive plans have narrow networks that restrict your choice of doctor. Some insurers have left the exchanges because they were losing money. And premium increases have been volatile as insurers have learned the market. But <em>every one of these things</em> is a result of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/10/obamacare-market-markets-arent-perfect" target="_blank">Obamacare's reliance on private markets,</a> something that Republicans support. Insurers are competing. They're offering plans with different features at different price points. Some of them are successful and some aren't. That's how markets work. It's messy, but eventually things settle down and provide the best set of services at the best possible price.</p> <p><strong>The Popular.</strong> Obamacare is popular unless you call it "Obamacare." If you call it <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/polling-obamacare-label-makes-big-difference-n102861" target="_blank">Kynect</a>, its negatives drop. If you call it the <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2013/09/26/whats-in-a-name-lots-when-it-comes-to-obamacareaca.html" target="_blank">Affordable Care Act,</a> its negatives drop. If you ask about the actual things it does, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/obamacare" target="_blank">virtually every provision</a> is popular among Democrats and Republicans alike. Even Obamacare's taxes on the rich, which are fairly modest, are popular. Aside from the individual mandate, <em>the only truly unpopular part of Obamacare is the name "Obamacare."</em> (And even that's only unpopular among Republicans.)</p> </blockquote> <p>So why the continued rabid opposition to Obamacare? It's not because the government has taken over the health care market. On the contrary, Obamacare affects only a tiny part of the health insurance market and mostly relies on taking advantage of existing market forces. It's not because the benefits are too stingy. That's because Democrats kept funding at modest levels, something Republicans approve of. It's not because premiums are out of control. Republicans know perfectly well that premiums have simply caught up to CBO projections this year&mdash;and federal subsidies protect most people from increases anyway. It's not because everyone hates what Obamacare does. Even Republicans mostly like it. The GOP leadership in Congress could pass a virtually identical bill under a different name and it would be wildly popular.</p> <p>In the end, somehow, this really seems to be the answer:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/kdrum">@kdrum</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CitizenCohn">@CitizenCohn</a> I watched it close up for a week. Sheer spite is a bigger part of it than I would've believed.</p> &mdash; Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) <a href="https://twitter.com/CharlesPPierce/status/820132673595314176">January 14, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> <p>Republicans hate the idea that we're spending money on the working class and the poor. They hate the idea that Barack Obama is responsible for a pretty successful program. They hate the idea that taxes on the wealthy went up a bit. They hate the idea that a social welfare program can do a lot of good for a lot of people at a fairly modest price.</p> <p>What kind of person hates all these things?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:35:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 323281 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Hopes the EU Collapses http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/donald-trump-hopes-eu-collapses <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump is giving <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-vows-insurance-for-everybody-in-obamacare-replacement-plan/2017/01/15/5f2b1e18-db5d-11e6-ad42-f3375f271c9c_story.html" target="_blank">interviews</a> this <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-01-15/trump-calls-nato-obsolete-and-dismisses-eu-in-german-interview" target="_blank">weekend!</a> Here's what he has to say:</p> <ul><li>His health care plan, which is almost down to the "final strokes," will provide "insurance for everyone."</li> <li>He wants to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.</li> <li>He thinks more countries will leave the EU, and that's fine with him. He believes the EU is just a Trojan Horse for German domination of trade, which makes it bad for America.</li> <li>If BMW opens a plant in Mexico, he's going to hit them with a 35 percent import tariff.</li> <li>He wants to do a deal with the Russians. Perhaps he'll lift sanctions on Russia in return for a reduction in nuclear arms.<sup>1</sup></li> <li>Jared Kushner is a genius who will negotiate peace in the Middle East.<sup>2</sup></li> <li>He's going to keep using Twitter in the White House in order to communicate directly with his fans.<sup>3</sup></li> </ul><p>I guess that's it for now. I can't wait to see Trump's health care plan, which is apparently going to provide far better coverage than Obamacare and cost a lot less. Whatever it turns out to be, I'll bet Democrats will be kicking themselves for not thinking of it first.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>So Russia gets its sanctions lifted <em>and</em> gets to save money by paring back its expensive and useless nuclear arsenal. Maybe I'm just being obtuse, but it's not clear to me what the US gets out of this deal.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>This is just a wild guess on my part, but I'll bet Kushner has never spoken to a Palestinian leader in his life and doesn't have the slightest clue what they want from any kind of peace agreement.</p> <p><sup>3</sup>This is something that too many people continue to misunderstand. Trump's tweets aren't meant for the press or for Congress or for you and me. They're meant for his true believers. You should always read them with that in mind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 16 Jan 2017 05:49:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 323286 at http://www.motherjones.com Evidence of Bizarre Trump-Russia Ties Continues to Ooze Out http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/evidence-bizarre-trump-russia-ties-continues-ooze-out <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So what's new on the Trump-Russia front? First up, the <em>Independent</em> tells us that the former MI6 agent behind the now-famous dossier alleging close ties between Russia and the Trump team was dismayed that his findings didn't <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-russia-dossier-file-investigation-hacking-christopher-steele-mi6-a7526901.html" target="_blank">generate more action during the presidential campaign:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. <strong>He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s emails.</strong></p> <p>....By late July and early August MI6 was also receiving information about Mr Trump. By September, information to the FBI began to grow in volume: Mr Steele compiled a set of his memos into one document and passed it to his contacts at the FBI. But there seemed to be little progress in a proper inquiry into Mr Trump. The Bureau, instead, seemed to be devoting their resources in the pursuit of Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s email transgressions.</p> <p><strong>The New York office, in particular, appeared to be on a crusade against Ms Clinton.</strong> Some of its agents had a long working relationship with Rudy Giuliani, by then a member of the Trump campaign, since his days as public prosecutor and then Mayor of the city.</p> </blockquote> <p>In related news, <em>BuzzFeed </em>says Israel is extremely interested in the possibility of <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/spy-agencies-around-the-world-are-digging-into-trump-moscow?utm_term=.adJyLeKEr#.hfelxL6ZV" target="_blank">Trump-Russia ties:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;You can trust me that many intelligence agencies are trying to evaluate the extent to which Trump might have ties, or a weakness of some type, to Russia,&rdquo; one of the intelligence officers said....The officer said part of Israel&rsquo;s interest in the dossier &mdash; and in other intelligence on Trump&rsquo;s ties to Russia &mdash; <strong>stems from concern that secrets Israel shares with the Unites States might be fed to Russia.</strong></p> <p>Earlier this week, Israel&rsquo;s <em>Yediot Ahronot</em> newspaper reported that <strong>Israeli intelligence officials were questioning whether to continue sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration.</strong> The report said that during a recent meeting with US intelligence officials, Israel was told that the Russians had &ldquo;leverages of pressure&rdquo; to use against Trump. <em>BuzzFeed News</em> could not independently confirm that a meeting had taken place.</p> </blockquote> <p>Other reports suggest that British intelligence is thinking along the same lines as Israel. And the <em>Daily Beast</em> reports that a group dedicated to hacking the NSA and releasing its prize malware has suddenly gone out of business <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/13/mystery-hackers-blow-up-secret-nsa-hacking-tools-in-final-fuck-you.html?via=twitter_page" target="_blank">a few days before Trump's inauguration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Shadow Brokers emerged in August with the announcement that they&rsquo;d stolen the hacking tools used by a sophisticated computer-intrusion operation known as the Equation Group, and were putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. <strong>It was a remarkable claim, because the Equation Group is generally understood to be part of the NSA&rsquo;s elite Tailored Access Operations program.</strong></p> <p>....It soon emerged that the Shadow Brokers really had the goods....Virtually nobody, though, believed the Shadow Brokers&rsquo; claim that they were mere hackers trying to sell the exploits for a quick fortune.</p> <p>The more persuasive theory, supported by no less than Edward Snowden, is that <strong>the Shadow Brokers are one of the same Russian government hacking groups now accused of targeting the U.S. election</strong>....Under this theory, the Shadow Brokers were part of a tit-for-tat in the intelligence world. The group emerged just as the U.S. began confronting Russia over its election hacking, and then seemed to release its secrets in time with the public thrusts and parries between the two countries....<strong>Now, with a new, friendlier administration coming in, Vladimir Putin may be pressing the reset button.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The more I read about this stuff, the harder I find it to believe. It just seems wildly ridiculous, the kind of thing that would barely pass muster on a TV potboiler, let alone in real life. The truth is that I'd probably dismiss it entirely if it weren't for the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/donald-trumps-top-ten-giveaways-vladimir-putin" target="_blank">vast amount</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/donald-trumps-love-affair-vladimir-putin-really-alarming" target="_blank">very public</a> and <a href="http://www.vox.com/2017/1/11/14232666/trump-russia-allegations" target="_blank">very strange</a> evidence that <a href="http://www.vox.com/world/2016/11/1/13487322/donald-trump-russia-agent-hack" target="_blank">Team Trump and Team Putin are very close.</a></p> <p>I don't know. This is all completely outlandish, and I can hardly bring myself to credit it. And yet, there's an awful lot of evidence that points in the direction of it being true&mdash;or at least partly true, anyway. Strange days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:51:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 323276 at http://www.motherjones.com Today in Politics As I Experienced It http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/today-politics-i-experienced-it <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One of the benefits of being sick&mdash;oh, bollocks. There are no benefits to being sick. However, with a couple of short interludes, I slept until about 1:30 in the afternoon today, which is 4:30 for you elitist East Coasters. That means I missed the whole day. So when I finally felt well enough to reach over to the table for my tablet, I was able to take in the entire glorious panorama of 2017's first Friday the 13th all at once. I shall now present it to you approximately as I experienced it.</p> <p><strong>Donald Trump met today</strong> with Steve Harvey, Geraldo Rivera, and a physicist who says global warming is going to be good for us.</p> <p><strong>Rep. Steve King unveiled</strong> his scale model of a wall on the Mexican border:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Excellent Trump appointment for Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly &amp; I discuss border security with my wall model on table. <a href="https://t.co/OGkBcN6NjU">pic.twitter.com/OGkBcN6NjU</a></p> &mdash; Steve King (@SteveKingIA) <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveKingIA/status/820034215697928196">January 13, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> <p>Very nice, don't you think? The wall is made from graham crackers spray painted gray, and the razor wire is made from dental floss rolled around an empty saran wrap tube and stiffened using egg whites. All that's missing is little tiny Mexicans on one side looking frustrated because they can no longer get into the United States.</p> <p><strong>Big banks continue to show gangbuster results</strong> on hopes that Trump and his congressional allies will <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-trading-boom-is-boon-to-big-bank-earnings-1484339675" target="_blank">get rid of all those annoying regulations</a> that Obama passed after they nearly destroyed the world during the Great Crash. On the same day, Moody's reminded us what all those regulations were about when <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/moodys-agrees-to-settle-financial-crisis-era-claims-for-864-million-1484355287" target="_blank">it agreed to pay nearly a billion dollars</a> to settle claims over "certain statements" it made during the runup to the Great Crash.</p> <p><strong>A few days ago FBI Director James Comey</strong> refused to say if the FBI was investigating Donald Trump's ties to Russia. "I would never comment on investigations in an open forum," he said to general snickering. Still, at least this left open the possibility that he'd inform Congress in a closed session.</p> <p>No such luck&mdash;and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/house-democrats-slam-comey-closed-door-briefing/story?id=44768462" target="_blank">Democrats are apoplectic.</a> The <em>Huffington Post</em> collected a<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democrats-fbi-james-comey_us_58792554e4b09281d0eab299" target="_blank"> potpourri of comments:</a> "No credibility...disappointed, outraged...not trust him at all...great sense of disappointment." Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News: "I think there's been a profound question raised as to whether director Comey is dealing in an evenhanded manner with the investigation of the Clinton emails and any investigation that may or may not be happening with respect to the Trump campaign."</p> <p><strong>House Republicans decided by fiat</strong> that deficit spending caused by repealing Obamacare doesn't count:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">House GOP rules package bars CBO from counting spikes in deficit spending spurred by an ACA repeal.</p> &mdash; Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) <a href="https://twitter.com/keithellison/status/816967979757932544">January 5, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> <p><strong>However, Newt Gingrich thinks this doesn't go nearly far enough.</strong> The CBO is simply out of its depth dealing with the genius who fixed the Wollman Ice Rink thirty years ago. Trump is going to bring that same hard-charging, entrepreneurial spirit to Washington, <a href="http://www.gingrichproductions.com/2017/01/the-wollman-skating-rink-vs-the-congressional-budget-office/" target="_blank">and the CBO can't deal with it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is simply incompatible with the Trump era....It is a left-wing, corrupt, bureaucratic defender of big government and liberalism. Its scoring of ObamaCare was not just wrong, it was clearly corrupt.</p> <p>....Every reform effort will get a false score from CBO. It is impossible for the current CBO to come anywhere close to an honest, accurate score of a red tape cutting, entrepreneurially hard charging system.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm pretty sure the proper translation of this is, "The CBO refuses to score massive tax cuts for the rich as deficit reducing." But maybe I'm just being cynical?</p> <p><strong>The first leg of California's bullet train</strong> will cost 50 percent more than currently budgeted, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-cost-overruns-20170106-story.html" target="_blank">according to a review by the Federal Railroad Administration.</a></p> <p><strong>On the day that President Obama announced sanctions against Russia</strong> for its election hacking, the Trump national security team suddenly got as agitated as a teenage girl about to go to her first prom. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-idUSKBN14X1YX" target="_blank">Jonathan Landay and Arshad Mohammed of Reuters have the story:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for national security adviser, held five phone calls with Russia's ambassador to Washington on the day the United States retaliated for Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election, three sources familiar with the matter said.</p> <p>The calls occurred between the time the Russian embassy was told about U.S. sanctions and the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he had decided against reprisals, said the sources.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm sure there was nothing untoward going on here. They were probably just asking each other what they planned to wear to the inauguration.</p> <p><strong>Finally, Max Sawicky writes something useful about Russia.</strong> Those of us who loathe Putin's Russia are not engaging in latter-day red baiting, he says. <a href="http://thebaffler.com/blog/russia-to-our-right-sawicky" target="_blank">Far from it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Today, kleptocratic, capitalist Russia is among the moneyed interests in the world. It&rsquo;s tempting but simplistic to see Russian leaders as a fairly narrow species of nationalist interlopers in U.S. domestic politics. More to the point, they are allied with germinating, reactionary forces internationally, if only lately inside the United States.</p> <p>....<strong>These movements, need we be reminded, are viciously, violently racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and homophobic.</strong> Similar groups run amok in Russia itself with the apparent indulgence of the authorities. The Trump campaign has brought like-minded creatures out from under the rocks of the U.S. right.</p> <p>....The U.S. welfare/regulatory state with all its flaws contains many seeds for a better system. Trump, with an assist from a cavalcade of shady backers, including Putin&rsquo;s Russian oligarchy, threatens to uproot these seeds. It&rsquo;s possible to exaggerate Putin&rsquo;s role, but it would be wrong to discount it altogether. <strong>Any complete survey of the forces colluding against progressive goals must now include the Russian state.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As they say, read the whole thing.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 14 Jan 2017 02:37:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 323266 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 13 January 2017 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/friday-cat-blogging-13-january-2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm alive. Barely. My congestion decided to migrate up into my ear canals yesterday, so every time I cough my right ear blocks up and the world starts spinning. Unfortunately, I cough a lot. It doesn't last too long, but it happens often enough to keep my stomach in a permanent state of mild nausea. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?</p> <p>Anyway, the cats are all fine. Here's Hilbert camping out on the fence.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2017_01_13.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:29:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 323246 at http://www.motherjones.com No, Tech Firms Are Not Huge Job Creators http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/no-tech-firms-are-not-huge-job-creators <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.aei.org/publication/tech-job-growth-vs-companies-of-the-past/" target="_blank">James Pethokoukis rounds up some evidence today</a> that, contrary to their reputations, modern tech companies create just as many jobs as the big industrial giants of yore. The problem is that he's comparing today's companies with companies from a century ago, when the labor force was far smaller. You can't do that. You have to look at jobs as a percent of the entire labor force. When you do that, here's what his sample set of companies looks like 20 years after their founding:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jobs_tech_companies.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Modern tech companies are all at the bottom. The only exception is Amazon, and it's arguable just how much Amazon is really a tech company anyway. Putting a web interface on retail doesn't really count, but then again, providing cloud services does. So they're about half and half, which probably explains why they're in the middle of the chart.</p> <p>For better or worse, modern tech companies just aren't huge jobs producers&mdash;and as machine intelligence progresses, they're likely to become even smaller players in the employment market.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:35:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 323211 at http://www.motherjones.com The NFL Sucks So Hard http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/nfl-sucks-so-hard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I don't suppose anyone cares, but I just want to say for the record that <a href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-chargers-to-la-plaschke-20170111-story.html" target="_blank">I agree entirely with Bill Plaschke today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Every relationship is built on honesty, so the San Diego Chargers should hear this as their moving vans are chugging up the 5 Freeway on their noble mission of greed.</p> <p>We. Don&rsquo;t. Want. You.</p> </blockquote> <p>The NFL sucks so hard. They stayed out of Los Angeles for two decades desperately trying to prove that, by God, no city would get an NFL team unless they ponied up taxpayer dollars for a stadium. Now we're about to have <em>two</em> teams, and for the exact same reason: to show San Diego that, by God, an NFL team won't <em>stay</em> in a city unless they pony up taxpayer dollars for a <em>better</em> stadium. And not just any dollars. <em>Enough</em> dollars to satisfy the lords of football.</p> <p>Did I mention just how hard the NFL sucks?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 21:25:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 323201 at http://www.motherjones.com DOJ Inspector General to Review Comey Letter http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/doj-inspector-general-review-comey-letter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, this is interesting:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Justice Dept. Inspector General launches review of FBI and DOJ actions ahead of 2016 presidential election <a href="https://t.co/n7TqA3E2wo">https://t.co/n7TqA3E2wo</a> <a href="https://t.co/vg6d7mGd2t">pic.twitter.com/vg6d7mGd2t</a></p> &mdash; ABC News (@ABC) <a href="https://twitter.com/ABC/status/819605060372021248">January 12, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> <p>I doubt that this will find anything illegal about Comey's actions. However, at the very least it should provide us with a detailed rundown of just how Comey decided to release his letter and what advice he ignored when he did it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:35:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 323146 at http://www.motherjones.com In Iowa, It's All About Terrorists and Welfare Bums http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/iowa-its-all-about-terrorists-and-welfare-bums <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>New York Times</em> reporter Trip Gabriel spent all of 2015 in Iowa. He recently returned to the small town of Monticello to see how folks felt <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/donald-trump-iowa-conservatives.html" target="_blank">now that Donald Trump had been elected:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Iowans I interviewed largely went about their lives outside the political hothouse social media....Many were hazy on specific policy details....These voters feared an outbreak of European-style terrorist attacks by Muslims in the United States, maybe in their own communities. And overwhelmingly, Trump supporters did not want their hard-earned money redistributed to people they regarded as undeserving.</p> </blockquote> <p>There you go. Muslim terrorists and lazy black welfare recipients from the big city. Jobs matter too, but it's not clear if that was really a big motivator compared to terrorists and welfare bums.</p> <p>It's worth adding that there's nothing new about this, and Trump doesn't seem to have appealed to this sentiment any more than previous Republicans. There's plainly a racial component to voting for Republicans vs. Democrats, but it was no bigger in 2016 than in other years.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:25:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 323116 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Meets With Monsanto and Bayer to Discuss DOJ Merger Review http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/trump-meets-monsanto-and-bayer-discuss-doj-merger-review <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tom Philpott passes along a bit of news about Donald Trump that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/monsanto-and-bayer-gets-audience-donald-promote-their-merger" target="_blank">flew under the radar yesterday:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Amid the furor surrounding allegations of covert ties with Russian intelligence figures as well as his first press conference since winning the election, President-elect Donald Trump found time in his hectic Wednesday schedule to meet with two towering figures in the agriculture world, reports <em>Fox Business Daily</em>....<strong>The meeting involved German chemical giant Bayer's $66 billion buyout of US seed/agrichemical giant Monsanto&mdash;a deal that will have to pass antitrust muster with Trump's Department of Justice.</strong></p> <p>....Fox reports that Bayer CEO Werner Baumann and his Monsanto counterpart Hugh Grant met with the incoming president at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan to promote the merger. In an email to the news organization, a Monsanto spokesperson confirmed that the two execs <strong>"had a productive meeting with President-Elect Trump and his team to share their views on the future of the agriculture industry and its need for innovation."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Is this...appropriate? I know that's sort of a silly question when it comes to Donald Trump, but is the president supposed to meet with people who have business pending with the Department of Justice? This is an antitrust review, not a criminal case, but it still seems wrong.</p> <p>Am I off base? Does this kind of thing happen all the time?</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> And there's this, which I missed earlier:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stelter_att_cnn.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Gee, I wonder what they talked about? Is Trump planning to become the single point of approval for all merger and antitrust matters?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:12:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 323111 at http://www.motherjones.com BBC's Paul Wood: There Are Four Sources For Claims of Possible Trump-Russia Blackmail http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/bbcs-paul-wood-there-are-four-sources-possible-trump-russia-blackmail <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The BBC's Paul Wood provides yet more detail on allegations that <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38589427#pq=RbIoXb" target="_blank">the Russians have possession of blackmail tapes on Donald Trump:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Claims about a Russian blackmail tape were made in one of a series of reports written by a <strong>former British intelligence agent.</strong> As a member of MI6, he had been posted to the UK's embassy in Moscow and now runs a consultancy giving advice on doing business in Russia. He spoke to a number of his old contacts in the FSB, the successor to the KGB, paying some of them for information.</p> <p>....The former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the president-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by <strong>"the head of an East European intelligence agency".</strong></p> <p>Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to <strong>active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file</strong>&nbsp;&mdash; they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was "more than one tape", "audio and video", on "more than one date", in "more than one place"&nbsp;&mdash; in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg&nbsp;&mdash; and that the material was "of a sexual nature". The claims of Russian kompromat on Mr Trump were "credible", the CIA believed.</p> <p>....Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was&nbsp;&mdash; allegedly&nbsp;&mdash; a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.</p> <p>It was passed to the US by <strong>an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States.</strong> The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence taskforce was created....A lawyer&nbsp;&mdash; outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case&nbsp;&mdash; told me that three of Mr Trump's associates were the subject of the inquiry. "But it's clear this is about Trump," he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's four sources, though obviously we don't know if they're all getting their information from the same place. Nor do we know if any of this is true. It might still all be baseless innuendo.</p> <p>Still, four sources. This Paul Wood fellow is either a world-class crank or a helluva reporter. And we never would have known any of this if BuzzFeed hadn't gone ahead and published that dossier.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 06:29:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 323106 at http://www.motherjones.com What Happened to Kellyanne Conway? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/what-happened-kellyanne-conway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Has anyone written a definitive profile of Kellyanne Conway? I seem to vaguely recall seeing her on cable news over the years, and she always seemed pretty normal. Conservative, of course, but not crazy or especially mendacious.</p> <p>Not anymore, though. She goes on TV and routinely lies, tosses out endless chum, makes groundless allegations, and just generally does everything she can to mislead the audience and attack all of her enemies, real and imagined. In other words, she's just like Donald Trump.</p> <p>Ditto for Sean Spicer, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Scottie Nell Hughes, Katrina Pierson, and a cast of Trumpian thousands. But I'd never seen any of those folks before they became Trumpistas, so maybe they were that way all along. Conway is the only one I've ever seen before.</p> <p>Does Trump train people to "act like Trump"? Does it just happen naturally if you hang around the guy for a while? Will we soon have an entire administration full of mini-Trumps? It's a scary prospect. In the meantime, though, I'll settle for the straight dope on Kellyanne Conway. What's her deal?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 05:12:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 323101 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's a Bit More on That Trump-Russia Dossier http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/heres-bit-more-trump-russia-dossier <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yahoo News provides some further information about <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/news/the-man-behind-the-trump-dossier-was-former-british-spy-004221154.html" target="_blank">the man behind the Trump-Russia dossier</a>, reporting that he is a former MI-6 officer who:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>had worked as a consultant for the FBI&rsquo;s Eurasian organized crime section,</strong> helping to develop information about ties between suspected Russian gangsters and FIFA, said one of the sources, who is directly familiar with Steele&rsquo;s work.</p> <p>....U.S. officials said his allegations were not easily dismissed, in part because Steele was a known quantity who had produced reliable information about Russia in the past. "<strong>He&rsquo;s a meticulous professional, and there are no questions about his integrity,&rdquo;</strong> said one U.S. official... "The information he provided me [about Russia] was valuable and useful.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>And the BBC's Paul Wood claims that former MI-6 officer isn't the only source for these allegations anyway:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">ICYMI: BBC correspondent says there's more than one source, more than one tape &amp; more than one date of allegations in Trump intel dossier <a href="https://t.co/NQmHeMHDM5">pic.twitter.com/NQmHeMHDM5</a></p> &mdash; Alastair Reid (@ajreid) <a href="https://twitter.com/ajreid/status/819228414112595968">January 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> <p>Most of the stuff in the dossier is nonetheless probably wrong. The question is, is any of it right?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 12 Jan 2017 03:33:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 323096 at http://www.motherjones.com Should BuzzFeed Have Published the Trump Dossier? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/should-buzzfeed-have-published-trump-dossier <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last night, <em>BuzzFeed</em> decided to publish a dossier of raw intelligence put together by a British former MI6 officer. Like most reports of this kind, it contains lots of tittle-tattle, and there's a good chance that much of it is untrue. So should <em>BuzzFeed </em>have published? <em>Washington Post</em> media columnist Margaret Sullivan <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-buzzfeed-crossed-the-line-in-publishing-salacious-dossier-on-trump/2017/01/11/957b59f6-d801-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.ca47f551a840" target="_blank">makes the case against:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s never been acceptable to publish rumor and innuendo. And none of the circumstances surrounding this episode &mdash; not CNN&rsquo;s story, not Trump&rsquo;s dubious history with Russia, not the fact that the intelligence community made a report on it &mdash; should change that ethical rule.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite so, and virtually every mainstream media reporter seems to agree. And yet, I'm not so sure. Several things happened in the past couple of days that make this a trickier question:</p> <ul><li>The intelligence community briefed Obama, Trump, and several members of Congress about the contents of the dossier.</li> <li><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/index.html" target="_blank">CNN reported</a> that "US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe <strong>and find him and his sources to be credible enough</strong> to include some of the information in the presentations to the President and President-elect a few days ago."</li> <li><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given-dossier-by-john-mccain-alleging-secret-trump-russia-contacts" target="_blank">The <em>Guardian</em> reported</a> that the FBI took these allegations seriously enough to apply for a wiretap warrant on several of Trump's aides.</li> </ul><p>This is still a judgment call. But it's not a judgment call about some random celebrity. It's a judgment call about the soon-to-be president of the United States. And it's about allegations that the intelligence community is taking very seriously.</p> <p>What's more, this dossier has apparently been seen or discussed by practically everyone in Washington DC. It has long annoyed me that things like this can circulate endlessly among the plugged-in, where it clearly informs their reporting unbeknownst to all the rest of us. At some point, the rest of us deserve to know what's going on.</p> <p>Put all that together&mdash;president, credibility among the intelligence community, and widespread dissemination&mdash;and I'm not at all sure that <em>BuzzFeed</em> did the wrong thing. Maybe this will all turn out to be the worst kind of made-up gossip, but at some point there's enough reporting around it that it's time to stop the tap dancing and let us know just what it is that has everyone so hot and bothered.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 23:27:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 323086 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nothing much to report this month. After four straight months of my M-protein level holding stable at exactly 0.58, I was hoping to extend the streak to five. But no: this month it's at 0.51. That's down a bit, so it's good news. Everything else is stable and normal too (for me, that is). Take that, cancer.</p> <p>On the other hand, this damn cold really needs to go away. Apparently everyone has it. Even my oncologist has it. And I'm pretty tired of coughing my lungs out every night. But maybe there was a bit less of that last night than usual. Maybe.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/blog_m_protein_2017_01_11.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:09:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 323046 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Are the 3 Actual Pieces of News From Trump's Press Conference http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/here-are-3-actual-pieces-news-trumps-press-conference <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So what was the actual news from Trump's press conference? Here it is:</p> <ul><li>He will introduce legislation (or a plan or something) to both repeal and replace Obamacare within a few weeks.</li> <li>He now believes Russia was probably behind the election hacking.</li> <li>He has chosen a nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin.</li> </ul><p>The rest was mostly general whining about the press and various and sundry other Trump bugaboos.</p> <p>The nomination of David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs was certainly unexpected. After months of (mostly false) blather about how the VA was a failing organization and the current management was incompetent, Trump nominates...a member of the current management. In fact, he's the member of management who runs the Veterans Health Administration, the very organization that Trump has been so scathing about. This is very strange indeed.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_cabinet_2017_01_11.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:50:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 323031 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Holds a Press Conference! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/donlad-trump-holds-press-conference <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>NOTE:</strong> This liveblogging of Donald Trump's press conference would have worked a lot better if I'd actually published it instead of keeping it as a draft for the entire time. Sigh. Can I plead sickness? Anyway, here's what I wrote in real time.</p> <hr width="30%"><p><strong>12:16 pm -</strong> It would be nice if more reporters would ask specific questions about what Trump plans to do in office. But it's too late. The press conference is over.</p> <p><strong>12:15 pm -</strong> With Trump in office, Russia will no longer do any hacking. That's because Putin respects Trump.</p> <p><strong>12:14 pm -</strong> Trump is once again moaning and groaning about leaks.</p> <p><strong>12:13 pm -</strong> Once again, Trump says the Republican National Committee wasn't hacked. That does not appear to be true. Russia did hack Republicans, but didn't release anything they got.</p> <p><strong>12:09 pm -</strong> The press is terrible blah blah blah. We need more honest reporters.</p> <p><strong>12:07 pm -</strong> BuzzFeed is a "failing pile of garbage." CNN sucks too.</p> <p><strong>12:04 pm -</strong> Mexico is great. They've been so nice. But no more taking advantage of the US. He will announce a replacement for Scalia in a couple of weeks after the "signings." On Monday and Tuesday he will be doing a bunch of very nice "signings."</p> <p><strong>12:02 pm -</strong> Now we're back to the border tax. If you move your factory to Mexico, you will pay the price. No more of the Obama-esque shilly-shallying. Move to Mexico and you're not selling anything to America. Capiche?</p> <p><strong>11:59 am -</strong> I guess that's it for health care.</p> <p><strong>11:57 am -</strong> Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. It's imploding. 2017 will be catastrophic. But Trump won't allow that. Soon he will introduce repeal and replace, very complicated stuff, all at the same time. Within the same day, or the same week, or even the same hour. We are doing the Democrats a great service. It will be far less expensive and far better.</p> <p><strong>11:54 am -</strong>&nbsp; Back to Trump: "We have one of the great cabinets that's ever been put together."</p> <p><strong>11:52 am -</strong> Dillon is now saying that paying for a hotel room is not an "emolument." But because this is the kind of guy he is, Trump plans to donate all his hotel profits to charity if they come from a foreign government. Or something. I didn't entirely follow that.</p> <p><strong>11:45 am -</strong> Trump lost "millions of dollars" by canceling all ongoing deals. Poor guy. There will be no new foreign deals. New domestic deals will be allowed, but only under the tightest possible ethical standards. All Trump Organization social media accounts will be banned from mentioning the presidency.</p> <p><strong>11:43 am -</strong> Dillon: Trump businesses will all be put in a trust. Management of trust will be in the hands of Don Jr. and Eric Trump. An ethics advisor will be appointed to the management team. Everyone is committed to making sure Trump businesses are "beyond approach."</p> <p><strong>11:41 am -</strong> Trump attorney Sheri Dillon is now going on and on about how conflict-of-interest laws don't apply to the president.</p> <p><strong>11:35 am -</strong> Trump says he has no relationship with Russia, period. No deals, no loans, no nothing. He turned down a $2 billion deal in Dubai just this weekend! He could have taken it, he says, since presidents can't have conflicts of interest. Plus, he could be president <em>and</em> run his company if he wanted to. He's the only person who could do such a thing. But, you know, that looks bad, doesn't it? In any case, no, he's not going to release his tax returns.</p> <p><strong>11:29 am -</strong> For the first time, Trump says the hacking of the DNC was "probably Russia."</p> <p><strong>11:22 am -</strong> Now Trump is rambling about multiple subjects: Fiat Chrysler, the high cost of drugs, the F-35, Jack Ma. The inauguration will have "tremendous talent." It will be a very elegant day. Massive crowds. A movement like the world has never seen. Oh, and speaking of veterans, he's appointed a new Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin. Shulkin is currently Under Secretary for Health in the VA. Sounds like a guy who's really going to shake things up.</p> <p><strong>11:20 am -</strong> Trump says he stopped giving news conferences because there had been so much inaccurate news. But now he's back&mdash;and he's <em>thanking</em> the news media for not writing about the horrible, terrible, despicable raw intelligence report that CNN reported on. This is obviously an attempt to shame reporters into not asking about it. Will it work? We'll see.</p> <p><strong>11:18 am -</strong> Pence follows up Sean Spicer's blast against BuzzFeed with a stern warning that the news media needs to stop being mean to Trump.</p> <p><strong>11:16 am -</strong> Mike Pence? We don't want Mike Pence. We want Trump.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:21:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 323011 at http://www.motherjones.com The Evidence is Overwhelming: James Comey Decided Who Our Next President Would Be http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/james-comey-decided-who-our-next-president-would-be <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at Vox today, a trio of researchers takes a broad look at the evidence that FBI Director James Comey affected the election. <a href="http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/1/11/14215930/comey-email-election-clinton-campaign" target="_blank">Their conclusion:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The evidence is clear, and consistent, regarding the Comey effect. The timing of the shift both at the state and national levels lines up very neatly with the publication of the letter, as does the predominance of the story in the media coverage from the final week of the campaign. With an unusually large number of undecided voters late in the campaign, the letter hugely increased the salience of what was the defining critique of Clinton during the campaign at its most critical moment.</p> <p>The appeal of big-picture narratives about demographics, along with anecdotal evidence of big mistakes by the Clinton campaign in certain key states, makes it easy to point fingers. But looking specifically at the three &ldquo;Rustbelt&rdquo; blue states mentioned at the beginning of the article, no unifying picture emerges. Most stories mention Michigan, where Clinton didn&rsquo;t campaign, rather than Pennsylvania, where she campaigned intensely. Indeed, these three Midwestern states (Wisconsin being the third) provide essentially an A/B/C test of different campaign strategies &mdash; and in each state she came up just short.</p> </blockquote> <p>If it weren't for Comey, Hillary Clinton would have won the popular vote by about 6 points and the Electoral College by 70 or more. And that might have turned into control of the Senate as well, though that's a little more speculative.</p> <p>Democrats clearly need to focus attention on state and local races, where they have done steadily worse throughout the Obama years. But at the national level, they should resolutely avoid the circular firing squad. They didn't lose because their message was unpopular or because they're out of touch or because they're insufficiently centrist or insufficiently leftist. That just wasn't the problem. The Democratic message was fine; Democrats are perfectly well in touch with their constituencies; and they weren't perceived as too unwilling to shake things up. Even with eight years of Democratic rule acting as a headwind, Hillary Clinton's default performance was a substantial win.</p> <p>The only reason it didn't happen is because James Comey basically decided to call her a liar and a crook&mdash;based on absolutely no new evidence and with everyone in the world advising him not to&mdash;with 12 days left in the election. <em>That</em> was something she couldn't overcome, and it has nothing to do with the basic Democratic message.</p> <p>Needless to say, this is why Democratic senators were stunned yesterday when they asked Comey if the FBI was investigating Trump over his Russia ties, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/james-comey-trump-russia-links-investigation-senate" target="_blank">and Comey replied,</a> "I would never comment on investigations&nbsp;&mdash; whether we have one or not&nbsp;&mdash; in an open forum like this, so I really can't answer one way or another."</p> <p>In the definition of <em>chutzpah</em>, this might have to replace the murderous children who beg for mercy because they're orphans. I try to maintain a relatively level tone around here, but I have to say it's getting harder and harder these days. WTF IS GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:00:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 322996 at http://www.motherjones.com Guardian: FBI Asked For Warrant to Monitor Trump Aides http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/guardian-fbi-asked-warrant-monitor-trump-aides <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We now know that the FBI considered the evidence of ties between Russia and the Trump team to be credible enough to investigate. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given-dossier-by-john-mccain-alleging-secret-trump-russia-contacts" target="_blank">Julian Borger reports on where this led:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The <em>Guardian</em> has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. <strong>The Fisa court turned down the application</strong> asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Twitter reaction to this has mostly been: <em>Oh, so <u>now</u> the FISA court finally turns down a warrant request. Yeesh.</em></p> <p>And sure, this is sort of ironic considering the FISA court's 99 percent rate of approving warrants. But there's also a serious point to be made here. This was a warrant targeting four specific people, so the court treated it like a normal warrant. That meant rejecting it if it didn't provide enough evidence to form probable cause. However, when a warrant is broad-based and applies to thousands or millions of people, the FISA court seems to adopt an entirely different standard. Just demonstrate a vague national security need and you're good to go.</p> <p><em>That's</em> the irony. The more people that are targeted in a warrant, the less seriously the FISA court seems to take it.</p> <p>And while we're on the topic of Trump and Russia, it's worth pointing out that the original reporting of the dossier on Russian ties to Trump noted that there were some errors in it. Since then, we've learned of at least one more error. That's perfectly normal. This is very, very raw human intelligence, and even if it comes from a reliable source it wouldn't be surprising if two-thirds of it was wrong. That's why raw intel is never released publicly. The job of the intelligence community is to figure out which third of it&mdash;if any&mdash;is right, and then to pursue it further.</p> <p>So don't worry about the fact that several parts of the report have been debunked and more will be in the future. What we're waiting for is to find out if any parts of the report are true. It's probably going to be a good long time before we know that for sure.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:38:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 322981 at http://www.motherjones.com US Intelligence: Evidence of Trump-Russia Ties Might Be Credible http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/us-intelligence-evidence-trump-russia-ties-might-be-credible <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In late October, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/harry-reid-letter-fbi-james-comey-clinton-emails-trump-russia-ties-hatch-act/" target="_blank">Harry Reid</a> sent an angry letter to FBI Director James Comey saying that "it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government." What was that all about? A few days later, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/veteran-spy-gave-fbi-info-alleging-russian-operation-cultivate-donald-trump" target="_blank">David Corn summarized a dossier of raw intel</a> provided by a "former senior intelligence officer for a Western country":</p> <blockquote> <p>When he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, <strong>"there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit."</strong>...The first memo, based on the former intelligence officer's conversations with Russian sources, noted, "Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance." It maintained that Trump "and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals." <strong>It claimed that Russian intelligence had "compromised" Trump during his visits to Moscow and could "blackmail him."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This is where things stayed until today, when we learned a little bit more. Apparently the intelligence community now considers this raw intel credible enough that it included it as an annex to the classified version of its report on Russian hacking. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/10/politics/donald-trump-intelligence-report-russia/index.html" target="_blank">CNN reports:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Some of the memos were circulating as far back as last summer. What has changed since then is that <strong>US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe and find him and his sources to be credible</strong> enough to include some of the information in the presentations to the President and President-elect a few days ago.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/intelligence-chiefs-briefed-trump-and-obama-on-unconfirmed-claims-russia-has-compromising-information-on-president-elect/2017/01/10/9da3969e-d788-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_trumpintel745p%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&amp;utm_term=.ecd539bca73e" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em> adds this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A senior U.S. official with access to the document said that the allegations were presented at least in part to underscore that <strong>Russia had embarrassing information on both major candidates, but only released material that might harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton</strong> &mdash; a reflection of Russian motivation that bolstered U.S. spy agencies&rsquo; conclusion that Moscow sought to help Trump win.</p> <p>....If true, the information suggests that Moscow has assembled damaging information &mdash; known in espionage circles by the Russian term &ldquo;kompromat&rdquo; &mdash; that conceivably could be used to coerce the next occupant of the White House.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.mcdnV0aPL#.wrw7mwde5" target="_blank">BuzzFeed has the full 35-page memo here.</a> Oh, and did I mention that the compromising information on Trump supposedly includes evidence of Trump's "personal obsessions and sexual perversion," including "golden showers" and "sex parties" in Moscow? Well, consider it mentioned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 11 Jan 2017 01:20:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 322961 at http://www.motherjones.com Sen. Jeff Flake Concludes That Federal Government Is Remarkably Efficient http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/sen-jeff-flake-concludes-federal-government-remarkably-efficient <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Jeff Flake, who has taken up the mantle of Sen. Tom Coburn, who in turn was taking up the mantle of William Proxmire's infamous "Golden Fleece" award, has released the 2017 issue of Wastebook, documenting all the dumb ways the government is spending your hard-earned dollars. In keeping with tradition, it has a pun-heavy theme: this year it's Pork&eacute;mon Go&mdash;get it? <em>Pork</em>-&eacute;mon!&mdash;which probably seemed pretty funny a few months ago. But popular fads are fickle things.</p> <p>In any case, the bulk of the report is pretty typical. Flake is unhappy that President Obama wants money to fight Zika when he's already squandering money on things that <a href="http://www.flake.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/4fcf3486-328a-40de-a1cc-f88515002d0d/wastebook-2016-final-pdf.pdf" target="_blank">"most would consider obvious or even absurd":</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Researchers were literally playing with dolls to prove what every child already knows&mdash;girls are more likely to play with Barbie dolls than boys&mdash;with support from National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants totaling $300,000.</p> <p>Studies on the habits of college students funded with $5 million of NIH grants found fraternity brothers drink, smoke and generally party more than other students. They also sleep in later, which led the researchers to speculate &ldquo;one explanation for this finding is that Greeks students recognize their sleep needs.&rdquo; Perhaps a more likely reason is that they are sleeping off their party lifestyle.</p> <p>NIH is also drilling down to determine why some people are afraid of the dentist as part of another $3.5 million research project. The researchers found &ldquo;fear of pain has been shown to be a critical component.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Your mileage will vary on whether you find this hilarious or not, but it's worth noting that even a dedicated investigator like Flake found only $5 billion in waste, of which $3 billion was for one project: the California bullet train. Now, I happen to agree with Flake that the train is a bad use of money, but it's certainly not waste. The money is being used to build a train. Flake and I happen to think the train is a bad idea, but the definition of waste is not "stuff you and I don't like."</p> <p>In any case, take out that one project and you're left with $2 billion, which is something like 0.2 percent of the discretionary federal budget. That's actually...not bad. I wish my own household ran that efficiently. It's worth adding that of that $2 billion, about half seems to be legitimate waste<sup>1</sup> while the other half is just sophomoric jeering at scientific studies that are perfectly reasonable but sound kind of funny. So the actual waste is probably closer to 0.1 percent of the budget.<sup>2</sup></p> <p>It kinda makes you wonder how much the US government spent researching and writing this report?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This is just my horseback guess based on flipping through the report.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>This doesn't matter, of course. What matters is that Flake has presented the right-wing media with a nice sourcebook of funny-sounding projects that they can recycle for the next 12 months as evidence of idiotic government spending. Someone should ask for federal funding for a project to track how many times Flake's examples get recycled throughout the next year by Fox, Limbaugh, Drudge, etc.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:32:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 322931 at http://www.motherjones.com