Category Archives: Updates

Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to list several Russian contacts on his security clearance form…

Is the nation’s Attorney General gonna be answering questions from former Attorney General Mueller’s guys doing the Russian’s connections probe?…

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose on security clearance forms that he met twice last year with Russia’s ambassador, CNN reported Wednesday.

The form, the SF-86, asks applicants to disclose any contacts with a foreign government or its representatives over the past seven years.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told CNN that an FBI employee who was helping Sessions complete the form advised him that he did not have to disclose meetings with foreign ambassadors that took place during his time in the Senate.

She said Sessions listed a year’s worth of meetings with foreign officials on the form.

CNN notes that federal officials do not have to list meetings that were part of foreign conferences attended while conducting government business — though Sessions’ meetings with Sergey Kislyak do not appear to fall under that exemption. …

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House Healthcare Bill would knock 23 Million Americans out of coverage…

The Congressional Budget Office is out with it’s study of the final House  ‘Repeal’ bill…

It ain’t pretty…

Health-care legislation adopted by House Republicans earlier this month would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 than under current law, the Congressional Budget Office projected Wednesday — only a million fewer than the estimate for the House’s previous bill.

The nonpartisan agency’s finding, which drew immediate fire from Democrats, patient advocates, health industry officials and some business groups, is likely to complicate Republicans’ push to pass a companion bill in the Senate.

The new score, which reflects last-minute revisions that Republicans made to win over several conservative lawmakers and a handful of moderates, calculates that the American Health Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026. That represents a smaller reduction than the $150 billion CBO estimated in late March, largely because House leaders provided more money in their final bill to offset costs for consumers with expensive medical conditions and included language that could translate to greater federal spending on health insurance subsidies.

As GOP senators quickly distanced themselves from the updated numbers, what became apparent is the difficult balancing act congressional leaders face as they seek to rewrite large portions of the Affordable Care Act. Some senators are eager to soften portions of the House bill, including cuts to entitlement programs and provisions that would allow insurers in individual states to offer fewer benefits in their health plans or to charge consumers with costly medical conditions higher premiums….

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GOP Candidate in Montana race said to have ‘body-slammed’ reporter…Police Called…

The House Special Election is tomorrow….

Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Montana’s special congressional election, was accused Wednesday night of assaulting a reporter for the Guardian who had been trying to ask him a question. Gianforte, who is seen as the slight favorite in an election that ends Thursday, left what was supposed to be a final campaign rally, at his Bozeman headquarters, without giving a speech.

The Gallatin County sheriff’s office said Wednesday evening that it was “currently investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte.”

In an audio recording published by the Guardian, Ben Jacobs can be heard asking Gianforte to respond to the fresh Congressional Budget Office score of the American Health Care Act, a bill Gianforte has said he was glad to see the House of Representatives approve. According to Alexis Levinson, a reporter for BuzzFeed, Jacobs had followed the candidate into a room where a camera was set up for an interview, before the event began.

“We’ll talk to you about that later,” Gianforte says in the audio.

“Yeah, but there’s not going to be time,” says Jacobs. “I’m just curious about it right now.”

After Gianforte tells Jacobs to direct the question to his spokesman, Shane Scanlon, there is the sound of an altercation, and Gianforte begins to scream.

“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte says. “The last guy that came in here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”

“Yes, and you just broke my glasses,” Jacobs says.

“The last guy did the same damn thing,” Gianforte says.

“You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs says.

“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte says….

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While Trump visits Europe….Obama arrives also….

Barack and Michelle Obama in Siena on Monday. Obama and Trump have not met or spoken since the inauguration, and that seems unlikely to change.

Donald Trump makes his European debut as US president this week just as his predecessor, Barack Obama, returns to the continent for his first visit since relinquishing the White House in January.

While apparently unintentional, the coinciding visits serve to highlight Europe’s radically different view of the two men. A Pew survey last June found 77% of Europeans had confidence in Obama – and 9% in the man who succeeded him.

The contrast will come into sharp focus on Thursday, when the current and former presidents have parallel public engagements in Europe, providing a split-screen comparison between their extreme differences….

Obama will deliver a speech alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The Obama foundation say that the invitation from Merkel came before the US election, so the fact he is in Europe as the same time as Trump is pure coincidence.

Europeans are already wistful in anticipation. Pictures of Obama on holiday in Tuscany with his wife Michelle – relaxed and smiling in an open-buttoned shirt – have only heightened the sense of longing for a president whose rationality, sophistication and emotional intelligence often contrast with his successor.

Writing about Obama’s Berlin visit, the highpoint of a season of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant church, the Leipziger Zeitung said his presence in Germany would be equivalent to that of a “healer”.

“Already he is a painfully-missed ex-president,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial, describing him as an “eloquent, charismatic preacher” – qualities it suggested were sorely lacking in Trump.

Obama and Trump have not met or spoken since the inauguration….

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Republicans will ignore Trump’s Budget Plan…

Presidential budget outlines never make thru Congress in one piece , but the throw down that Trump’s won’t is being broadcasted pretty fast…

The kind of cuts Trump has presented simply won’t fly…(Congress went its own way on the 2017 stop-gap budget …)

The media is highlighting those cuts , which combined with the healthcare cuts would put Republicans out of business in Congress in 2018/2020…..

Republican leaders in Congress say they will go their own way on spending and largely ignore the budget President Trump sent to Congress on Tuesday, underlining a divide between the White House and his congressional allies on spending issues.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) downplayed the significance of setting Trump’s budget aside as he told reporters that he will soon begin negotiations with Democrats on the top-line numbers for discretionary spending bills.

Asked about Trump’s budget, McConnell said it’s traditional for Congress to discard much of a president’s blueprint.

“We’ll be taking into account what the president is recommending, but it will not be determinative in every respect,” he said. “I didn’t engage in a ringing endorsement of President [George W.] Bush’s budgets either.”

Others in the Senate GOP conference immediately distanced themselves from Trump’s budget.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said the plan cuts “too close to the bone,” while Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) called it “anti-Nevada,” citing cuts to “important public lands programs.”

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has previously warned that not much more can be cut from discretionary spending accounts, which cover popular programs such as medical research at the National Institutes of Health.

Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicaid were making some Republicans nervous….

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Republicans ARE worried….

They SHOULD be….

Republican leaders are coming to the bleak conclusion they will end summer and begin the fall with no major policy accomplishments. Privately, they realize it’s political malpractice to blow at least the the first nine of months of all Republican rule, but also realize there’s little they can do to avoid the dismal outcome.
In fact, they see the next four months as MORE troublesome than the first four. They’re facing terrible budget choices and headlines, the painful effort to re-work the health care Rubik’s Cube in the House (presuming it makes it out of the Senate), a series of special-election scares (or losses) — all with scandal-mania as the backdrop.

One of the key insights I picked up at last week’s SALT hedge-fund conference in Vegas (tough duty) was that nobody thought health care reform would happen, and most were very skeptical that Trump and Republicans could get their acts together enough to pass tax reform this year.

Asked about both onstage, Jeb Bush said a flat “no” to health care and a very unconvincing “maybe” to tax reform. The masters of the universe had more colorful words in private — they’re deeply pessimistic about health care.

A source close to the Republican congressional leadership emails a vivid snapshot of the party’s feng shui:

We are walking into an autumn of discontent because they won’t have any legislative accomplishment when they come back from the August recess. … Their biggest problem is that the reconciliation instructions will expire at the end of September. …

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Do Democrats need Trump voters for next years Midterm Elections?

Who needs Trump voters? Not Democrats.

Stop me if you’ve seen a headline (or five) that proclaims something along the lines of: “Most Trump voters still support Trump.” Typically, the article includes quotes from Trump voters in Pennsylvania or Michigan. Sometimes it revolves around polling showing people don’t “regret” voting for Trump. The takeaway is usually: Trump still has the support of his base, which means Democrats haven’t cracked the Trump nut yet.

But here’s the thing: Democrats don’t need to crack that nut by 2018; Trump can hang on to most — if not all — of his base, and Democrats could still clean up in the midterm elections…

Let’s start with the basic fact that Trump won just 45.9 percent of the vote in 2016. That doesn’t make his victory any less legitimate — winning (the Electoral College) with a plurality rather than a majority is still winning — but Trump has a smaller base than every president elected since 1972, except for Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump voters are not a majority.

More importantly for the sake of 2018, they don’t represent the majority of voters in the majority of congressional districts. Trump won more than 50 percent in 205 of 435 districts. If House Republicans won every district where Trump won a majority in 2016 but lost every other one, Democrats would control 230 seats. Among seats won by a Republican in 2016, Trump fell short of a majority in 40 districts. Democrats need to win only 24 of those to win control of the House.

As Enten notes at the beginning of his article, recent polling shows Trump voters still overwhelmingly support Trump. And Enten’s review of the last eight midterm elections shows the GOP will hold them, because Trump voters are rank and file GOP…..

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Trump hires his own lawyer….

With his efforts to shut down the investigation swirling around his campaign and the Russians not working…

He signs up a lawyer to look after HIS interests…

President Trump has retained the services of a trusted lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and suspected Russian interference in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the decision.

Kasowitz, who has known Trump for decades, has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University. He is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York.

With the appointment last week of a special counsel to probe alleged Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the stakes have been raised considerably for the Republican president and his associates. Trump has repeatedly denied that he did anything improper and has said that he has been told he is not under investigation.

The White House had no immediate comment on Kasowitz’s hiring. Those who confirmed the decision spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move….

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2016 Sanders delegate Triumphs in Trump won New York State Assembly District Special Election…

The heavy Republican district will send  Democrat Christine Pellegrino  to the states’ capital in Albany as result of a special election win in the NY 9th Assembly District over a Conservative Republican…

Image result for New York Democrat Christine Pellegrino

Donald Trump won the district with 60% of the vote just four months ago and have a 13% registration margin there …

Pellegrino  was a Sanders delegate at last years Democratic National Convention….

The win has made the national media as a possible prelude to Democratic inroads to Republican’s gains during the last eight years under Obama…

Democrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Conservative Tom Gargiulo on Tuesday in the 9th Assembly District special election as the progressive and union-backed candidate pulled off an upset victory for the heavily Republican seat.

“This is a thunderbolt of resistance,” said Pellegrino, who becomes the first Democrat to hold the Assembly seat. “This is for all the supporters and voters who understand a strong progressive agenda is the way forward in New York.”

With all precincts reporting, Pellegrino won 58 percent of the vote to Gargiulo’s 42 percent, according to Suffolk and Nassau boards of election results posted Tuesday night.

The liberal wing of the Democratic Party and Working Families Party had invested heavily in the seat left vacant when Assemb. Joseph Saladino was appointed Oyster Bay supervisor. President Donald Trump had won the district with 60 percent of the vote….

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Some Democrats applauded the win on Twitter to warn Republicans that their unified control of the federal government is at risk in the 2018 midterms. The race represents another victory for win-hungry Democrats, who are looking for wins in state races and House special elections in Georgia and Montana as proof that an anti-Trump backlash is building….

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On Tuesday night, Democrats flipped not one but two state legislative seats in special elections—and both came in deep red territory. In New Hampshire, Democrat Edie DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache by a 52-48 margin in the state House’s 6th Carroll District, a seat Donald Trump won 51-44 last fall. Meanwhile, in the New York Assembly’s 9th District, Democrat Christine Pellegrino beat Republican Thomas Gargiulo 58-42, even though Trump romped to a 60-37 victory there in November.

This means that DesMarais moved the needle 11 points in the Democratic direction while Pellegrino did the same by an astounding 39 points. And while these are the first two seats to actually change hands since Trump’s election, Democrats have consistently outperformed the 2016 presidential results in special elections across the country….

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2018 Midterms could bring Good Luck and Bad News to Democrats…FiveThirtyEight…

over at Nate Silver’s blog point to a possible that would have Democrats win a majority in the House and lose even more ground in the Senate….

The 2018 midterms are a story of two chambers. Democrats are in the best position they’ve been in since 2010 to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The Senate map, on the other hand, is so tilted toward the GOP that most political analysts have all but dismissed Democrats’ chances of winning the chamber before 2020. It has even been suggested that Republicans could gain enough Senate seats(eight) in 2018 to amass a filibuster-proof majority (60 seats).

This is normally the part of the article where I push back on the conventional wisdom and argue something like, actually, the 2018 Senate map isn’t that bad for Democrats. But no, it’s pretty bad: Democrats are a long shot to take back the Senate.

What I will argue, however, is that it’ll also be difficult for the GOP to pick up a bunch of seats. Republicans would need to oust incumbent Democrats, and it’s extremely difficult to beat an incumbent senator in a midterm when his or her party doesn’t control the White House.

It may seem a little nuts to suggest that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can keep losses to a minimum in 2018….

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100 years ago, Americans viewed Catholics the way they see Muslims now…

History regularly repeats itself…

Can we learn from it?

About a century ago, millions of Americans feared that members of a religious group was amassing an arsenal of weapons for a secret, preplanned takeover of the United States.

The feared religious group wasn’t Muslims. It was, as Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce wrote in a great piece in 2015, Catholics:

Hatred had become big business in southwestern Missouri, and its name was the Menace, a weekly anti-Catholic newspaper whose headlines screamed to readers around the nation about predatory priests, women enslaved in convents and a dangerous Roman Catholic plot to take over America.…

America’s deep and widespread skepticism of Catholics is a faint memory in today’s post-Sept. 11 world. But as some conservative politicians call for limits on Muslim immigration and raise questions about whether Muslims are more loyal to Islamic law than American law, the story of Aurora’s long-ago newspaper is a reminder of a long history of American religious intolerance.

Today, there are calls for federal surveillance of mosques in the name of preventing terrorist attacks; a century ago, it was state laws that allowed the warrantless search of convents and churches in search of supposedly trapped women and purported secret Catholic weapons caches.

This may seem absurd today, but there was a real fear among Protestant Americans back then that Catholics were planning to take over the country….

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Pediatricians Say No Fruit Juice in Child’s First Year…

…from the NY Times…

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The nation’s top pediatricians are advising parents to stop giving fruit juice to children in the first year of life, saying the drink is not as healthful as many parents think.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics had advised parents to avoid 100 percent fruit juice for babies younger than 6 months. On Monday, the group toughened its stance against juice, recommending that the drink be banned entirely from a baby’s diet during the first year. The concern is that juice offers no nutritional benefits early in life, and can take the place of what babies really need: breast milk or formula and their protein, fat and minerals like calcium, the group said.

This is the first time the pediatricians’ group has updated its guidelines on fruit juice since 2001.

“I think this is a fantastic recommendation for infants, and it’s long overdue,” said Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the division of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, who was not involved in the new report. “Parents feel their infants need fruit juices, but that’s a misconception.”….

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2020 Democratic Presidential bench…LA Mayor Eric Garcetti ….

We look at another early  name in the race….

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Eric Garcetti is headed to Wisconsin.

The Los Angeles mayor and his staff like to say his trip to the state Hillary Clinton famously forgot to pay attention to last year — he’ll keynote the state Democratic convention June 2 — is because the state party finance director is a friend who used to fundraise for him, or that he was just such a hit when he spoke to the Wisconsin delegation during the Democratic convention last year that they invited him for more.

Or, crazy as it may seem right now, it’s exactly what you think.

Running for president without being a statewide elected official first, and the mayor of L.A. to boot, goes the thinking in his orbit, isn’t the kind of liability it used to be — have people not noticed that Donald Trump is the president, that Emanuel Macron just won in France as a first-time 39-year-old candidate?

“I’m not focused on running for president,” was how he tried, briefly, to deflect when I asked him whether he’s looking at the 2020 race, in an interview in Washington, D.C., for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

We were sitting in a room one floor up from where he’d just spoken at the Ideas Conference, hosted by the Center for American Progress, which eagerly promoted the event as the first roundup of potential Democratic candidates and picked him to give the opening keynote.

His deflection on 2020 lasted about 20 seconds.

“I think the rules have changed, absolutely. And these categories are artificial. Does a governor of a state of 3 million have more experience than a mayor of a city of 4 million? I mean, we’ve got the sixth-largest economy in California in the world. We’ve got the 17th-largest in Los Angeles if it was an independent country,” Garcetti said. “It’s not an issue of experience or whether voters are even willing to anymore. I think, ‘What does this country need?’ Who will they need?’ And I trust voters. They respond to the right people at the right moments, and I’m ready to support that person in the future.”

I asked him whether he’s ready to be that person himself. He went right back to that not-so-wiggly wiggle word……

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The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program could be up in the air…

Some of us are  in the program for loans we have to help our kids…

It’s not bad enough that the company handling the loans are playing games…

Now we find that the Government under Trump and the Republicans COULD try screw hundreds of thousands  of people out of a program they THOUGHT they had?

The program has been shrouded in some uncertainty for months.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Education is planning to propose ending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

The article was based on budget documents obtained by the Post. A public version of the department’s budget is expected to be released next week. Congress would have to approve the department’s proposed changes for them to take effect.

It’s unclear whether the Trump administration may propose ending the program for future graduates, or end it for those who have already applied and made qualifying payments.

The Department of Education did not respond to CNNMoney’s requests for comment, and “had no immediate comment” for the Washington Post.

“It would be absolutely detrimental to those of us who have planned our lives around this program. It would be the equivalent of pulling the rug out from under us,” said Daniel J. Crooks III, a government attorney who is expecting loan forgiveness from the public service program in six years….

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Trump efforts to shut down the Russian Connection probe was wider than thought….

The Washington Post is out with a piece that details a wide coordinated effort by the Trump Admin to get FBI Director to call off his investigation of their contacts with the Russian’s during the campaign….

Trump personally asked his Director of National Intelligence and National Security Agency head to help him get FBI Director Comey to stop his probing…

All of this before Trump DIRECTLY went on a fired Comey for continuing….

By the way?

A recent poll has the number at around 60% of Americans wanting the Trump campaign / Russian connection investigation to CONTINUE….

THE BIG IDEA: James Comey was not alone. Even Donald Trump’s own pick for director of national intelligence, former Republican Sen. Dan Coats, refused to comply with a request by the president to push back against the FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government.

Trump also reached out to Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency. He pressed both men to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Each saw the president’s entreaty as inappropriate.

The Post’s Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima broke this latest bombshell last night: “Current and former senior intelligence officials viewed Trump’s requests as an attempt by the president to tarnish the credibility of the agency leading the Russia investigation. A senior intelligence official said Trump’s goal was to ‘muddy the waters’ about the scope of the FBI probe … Senior intelligence officials also saw the March requests as a threat to the independence of U.S. spy agencies, which are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues.‘The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,’ a former senior intelligence official said of the request to Coats.”

This new scoop is hugely significant because it suggests a concerted, multi-front effort by the president and top White House staff to rein in an FBI investigation in the months before Trump fired Comey. You really should read Adam and Ellen’s full story, but here are three important nuggets….

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The Senate is in No Rush on their Obamacare rewrite bill….

Meaning that the Affordable Healthcare Law will continue in effect and the political ‘hot potato’ will be left on the side for a long while…

The Senate GOP’s progress on Obamacare repeal has been hard to decipher so far, with lots of public assurances that negotiations are continuing but few tangible results.

The process, which Republicans claim began even before the House passed its repeal bill, has been notable for what it’s been missing. It’s unclear, publicly at least, who is leading the effort, the direction they’re taking and whether there’s even agreement on how far the Senate will stray from the deeply unpopular House proposal, which guts Medicaid while scaling back the Affordable Care Act’s widely-liked consumer protections.

The Senate GOP’s 13-member working group initially unveiled to iron out an approach that could bring 51 votes was quickly met with ugly headlines about the lack of women, while rival groups have popped up among the members left out of the original task force. GOP leaders have since stressed that all Republicans are invited to participate in the talks, which happen twice or thrice weekly in Capitol, behind closed doors.

In the meantime, trial balloon after trial balloon has been floated with anonymous leaks, only to be immediately popped by other Republicans, who sometimes are only hearing of alleged proposals directly from the press….

While GOP Senators swear their not adhering to any specific timetable, some deadlines do in fact exist. To stay on track to pass both Obamacare repeal and tax cut legislation this year, the Senate will likely need to wrap up their health care talks this summer. More pressing, however, is insurers’ filing deadlines for their 2018 plans. Insurers would like to see more certainty on what the marketplace will look like, including what will happen to key ACA subsidies Republicans have previously attacked….

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