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Thursday, June 29, 2017

QOTD: A Republican

by digby

... one who hasn't completely drunk the Trumpade:

Reacting to this:

I'm watching Trump defenders on TV saying that the president is a "fighter" and it's what everyone voted for.

They are right. This is what his people voted for. At some point we have to accept that this juvenile misogyny is part of the reason they voted for him. They like it.


Bad faith is policy

by Tom Sullivan

From health care to voting rights to economics, the narrative coming from conservatism's thought leaders as well as its political ones is professionally disingenuous. But in the faux politeness of the Beltway, rarely does the press call it out as such.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo this week observes how Republican goals rarely conform to their stated ones. Regarding health care, Marshall notes, the press fundamentally (or perhaps deliberately) misreads the intent of the Republican legislation. An exchange between CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash illustrates his point. Why can't the parties get together on this? Bash asks. Marshall responds:

When you try three times to ‘repeal and replace’ and each time you come up with something that takes away coverage from almost everyone who got it under Obamacare, that’s not an accident or a goof. That is what you’re trying to do. ‘Repeal and replace’ was a slogan that made up for simple ‘repeal’ not being acceptable to a lot of people. But in reality, it’s still repeal. Claw back the taxes, claw back the coverage.

Pretending that both parties just have very different approaches to solving a commonly agreed upon problem is really just a lie. It’s not true. One side is looking for ways to increase the number of people who have real health insurance and thus reasonable access to health care and the other is trying to get the government out of the health care provision business with the inevitable result that the opposite will be the case.
Insisting that the split between the parties on health care policy demonstrates a lack of bipartisanship misses the point.
If you had an old building and one group wanted to refurbish and preserve it and the other wanted to tear it down, it wouldn’t surprise you that the two groups couldn’t work together on a solution. It’s an either/or. You’re trying to do two fundamentally opposite things, diametrically opposed. There’s no basis for cooperation or compromise because the fundamental goal is different. This entire health care debate has essentially been the same. Only the coverage has rarely captured that. That’s a big failure. It also explains why people get confused and even fed up.
Or as Paul Waldman writes of the Republican effort, "[T]his is the party that wants to dismantle government, not figure out how to make it work better."

The sham politics of bad faith is now policy. Arguments from Republican leaders for any number of policies follow the same pattern. What I wrote here two years ago bears repeating:
My wife calls this having "a Republican argument." That is to say, a disingenuous one. It's where your opponent abandons rules of evidence and logic and instead argues by assertion or by exaggerated fear of what "might be" happening undetected.

It is to argue, for example, that eliminating public assistance to the rich through tax cuts, credits, and direct incentives (that fund their fifth home, new yacht, or airplane upgrade) will kill their incentive to work hard and "create jobs." But public assistance to the poor — you know, for food — eliminates their incentive to work.

It is to argue after every mass shooting that we need no new gun laws criminals will simply ignore; we just need to enforce laws already on the books. Except when it comes to voting restrictions, we need new laws on top of those they complain the state is already not enforcing.

It is people arguing that we need to restore public confidence in the election system after they've spent decades trying to undermine it to build public support for restoring Jim Crow.
Lacking evidence of widespread fraud in elections, conservative groups have begun assembling databases of election irregularities to support their case for photo ID laws. The Heritage Foundation has one. But a review reveals that of the 500 cases collected dating back over two decades, only seven involve voter impersonation that might be caught by requiring photo IDs. One of those seven was a voter impersonating another registrant to prove it could be done. Another of the seven involved election judges falsifying the ledger. IDs would not have stopped crooked election judges.

The point of assembling such databases is always the same: to promote the idea the problem is widespread and to build public support for a solution to a virtually nonexistent problem. In the name of "election integrity," Republican legislatures have erected barriers to voting that "with surgical precision" fall hardest on groups least likely to vote for Republicans. As Marshall says, "that’s not an accident or a goof. That is what you’re trying to do."

Tort reform is another Republican enthusiasm that pops up from time to time. Like now. Invariably, the sales pitch is that capping medical malpractice awards will "discourage frivolous lawsuits and reduce the cost of health care." Currently, research shows medical liability makes up 2 to 2.5 percent of health costs. It was under 2 percent in 2005 when President Bush floated the idea of getting hospitals to switch to all-electronic records in a speech at the Cleveland Clinic. It might reduce health care costs by as much as 20 percent as well as save lives. But the effort to save lives and taxpayers money might cost millions. Bush's colleagues preferred then, as they do now, to focus on the 2 percent solution.

Privatization transfers publicly owned assets to private investors. We the People incur the capital costs; investors reap the profits only available by taking ownership from us. Public-private partnerships promise to save the public tax money up front for new capital projects, but only by charging people in near perpetuity for using the roads/bridges/etc. The promise is always that these schemes will reduce taxpayers' costs (lower taxes are always implied) but forever seem to cost us more out of pocket.

It is almost as if saving us money, strengthening our democracy, and making us healthier are not the real goals.

The health care bill now on hold in the Senate looks to turn Medicaid into block grants and capping its growth. Speaker Paul Ryan, as we know, has been dreaming about "sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate" since he was in college and "drinking out of a keg." Making Americans healthier doesn't really seem to be the driver here any more than saving taxpayers money or boosting election integrity.

If block grants and privatization are such terrific, fiscally conservative ideas, why not auction off a few of our nearly 900 overseas military bases, convert the Pentagon into time shares and condos, and send the defense budget back to the states while capping its growth?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Headline o' the Day

by digby

Apparently their lies weren't quite effective enough:

That makes it political suicide to vote for that monstrosity. And there are other polls that are almost as bad. None show more than 35 percent support. And they're all heading downward:
There’s little public confidence in Trump or congressional Republicans on the issue, however, which threatens any effort to build support among the undecided. Forty-three percent of Americans, the poll shows, trust congressional Democrats most to protect them and their families' interest in the health care debate. Only 19 percent trust Trump most, and 10 percent trust congressional Republicans. 
It’s not just the public, media polls that could push Republicans away from uniting around a bill. The American Medical Association, which opposes the measure, this week released surveys conducted in a number of states that are home to fence-sitting senators — Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia — that showed little support for the bill and its provisions. 
To hammer home the point, the AMA hired two separate polling firms to conduct the surveys, Public Opinion Strategies and Voter/Consumer Research, that work for Republican campaigns. (Public Opinion Strategies conducted four of the five surveys — excepting West Virginia, where it lists Sen. Shelley Moore Capito as a client.)
If they could give up their permanent tax cut white whale, they could simply leave Medicaid alone, shore up the exchanges and say "we repealed it and we replaced it and now it's called Trumpcare!" Hooray!

But they can't. Their donors demand the tax cuts and the wingnuts will never go for anything that doesn't stick it hard to the poor. That's where we are. They'll all go down with the ship if that'swhat it takes.


The new villain

by digby

Don't try this at home. They'll get very mad:

It was a strange sight, even for the “sport” of professional wrestling.

A wrestler holding a microphone faced an Appalachian crowd before a match and began unleashing a torrent of insults, the nature of which seemed out of place at a pro wrestling tournament.

“I understand now why you all identify with country music. It’s slow and it’s simple and it’s boring, just like each and every one of you.”

As the crowd grew increasing hostile, the wrestler’s remarks became more politically tinged.

“You know what, I think Bernie Sanders would make a great secretary of state.”

“I want to exchange your bullets for bullet points. Bullet points of knowledge.”

He even called Donald Trump a “con man.” The crowd exploded in jeers. “Shut up,” someone yelled.

Strange, indeed. But then, the muscular man’s shirt read, “Not My President.”

Meet the wrestler who goes by the name “Progressive Liberal” Dan Richards, the most hated character in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountain Wrestling (AMW) program, a small professional wrestling circuit.

Hey Alexa, yo' mama

by digby

He really is obsessed:

The president also references The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, in his tweet.

On Tuesday, the publication put out a story saying a fake issue of Time magazine with Trump on the cover was hanging in some of the president's golf clubs.

"[T]he cover on display at Trump's clubs, observed recently by a reporter visiting one of the properties, contains several small but telling mistakes," the Post wrote.

A spokeswoman for Time later confirmed with the Post that the cover wasn't real.

 President Donald Trump delivers remarks in the Diplomatic Room following a shooting that injured a member of Congress and law enforcement officers at the White House June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump targets Amazon over tax claims
1 Hour Ago | 01:59
Aside from attacking the Washington-based publication directly, Trump harshly criticized Amazon during his campaign, saying the e-commerce giant operated a monopoly with an unfair tax shelter that's somehow propped up by Bezos' ownership of the Post.

During one campaign rally in February 2016, Trump told the crowd: "If I become president, oh [does Amazon] have problems. They're going to have such problems." He added that Bezos only bought the Post to have "political influence."

Trump is now calling out Amazon for avoiding so-called internet taxes, what was once a much larger and controversial issue for the e-retailer.

A representative from Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, as pressure built in individual state houses, Congress and courts to allow states to require retailers to collect the tax on out-of-state sales and pass it on to state governments, Amazon has accelerated changes in its tax policy.

Starting April 1 this year, Amazon began collecting sales tax nationwide, calming much of the prior controversy. So it remains unclear what Trump was referencing when he accused Amazon on Wednesday morning of not paying "internet taxes."

In general, online retailers fall under two different tax systems today — retailers located out of state pay no sales tax, while those with some type of link to the state must pay it. Amazon having distribution centers in certain states, but not others, had put the company in a tricky spot.

"This is a personal thing. ... He's going after Jeff," Gene Munster, co-founder and managing partner of Loup Ventures, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "It's all about personal vendetta against The Washington Post."

He really is a whiny little boy isn't he? Any mature adult would ignore this story and just let it die. Instead, he's drawn attention to it simply because he's so petulant and vindictive that it's impossible for him to control himself.

I think at this point we may be looking at one of those regimes in which the King is simply a figurehead playing games of his own while other people run the government. And the problem is that this Mad King has chosen a group of misfits almost as nuts as he is to do it.

A thousand Pinocchios

by digby

This is obviously an official talking point. Cornyn did it yesterday:

This is, of course, ignoring the fact that the CBO estimates that if Trumpcare goes through it will be closer to 50 million uninsured.

This is the fatuous nonsense they're peddling:

The bill recently introduced in the Senate would get rid of the individual mandate, which in 2015 alone caused 6.5 million Americans to pay $3 billion in penalties to the IRS because they did not want or could not afford a government-dictated health plan. It would directly repeal some of ObamaCare’s most costly regulations while giving states flexibility to waive others if they develop innovative ways to provide coverage and bring down costs.

The Senate’s plan also would repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in onerous taxes. It would put Medicaid on a sustainable spending path and give states a real chance to reform the program to make it work for the people who rely on it.

The Trump administration, recognizing the need for urgent action, began offering Americans relief from ObamaCare starting in February. The Department of Health and Human Services has reviewed thousands of pages of ObamaCare rules and taken more than a dozen distinct actions, with additional positive steps in the works.

But administrative action is constrained by the failed law Americans all live under. If Congress acts this summer, the Trump administration will have significantly expanded ability to offer relief, and the country will have taken a huge step toward truly patient-centered health care.

Again, neglecting to mention that under their plan people like me are going to get hammered financially (The Kaiser calculator says my premiums will rise over 100% if this takes effect)and Medicaid patients are going to be dying or costing the emergency rooms billions in uncompensated care.

But they are all despicable monstrous liars. And that's all they've got to keep their mystifyingly loyal cultists on board.


Ratfucking for dummies

by digby

Regarding Trump's obsessive CNN horseshit I can't help but be reminded of this scene from All The President's Men, from Goldman's first draft of the screenplay:

WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN walking in the rain. It's pouring as they leave FBI Headquarters and they are in anguish.

(after a while)


What was the mistake? Do you think
it's been rigged, all along the way,
leading us on so they could slip it
to us when it mattered? They couldn't
have set us up better; after all
these months our credibility's gone,
you know what that means?

Only everything...

They are soaked, Nearby is a garbage can, they grab papers, hold them over their heads, start to walk. Now--


The papers they grabbed were the Post front page. (This
happened.) And as they walked, the Haldeman story was on their heads. HOLD on the reporters walking miserably through the rain. Now--



A tremendous pall has settled on the city room. People walk by, glancing at WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN, who sit almost immobilized at their desks, wet, whipped; no energy left.


enters quietly with a bundle of teletype paper.

(indicating the papers)
More denunciations?

One Senator just gave a speech
slurring us 57 times in 20 minutes.

BRADLEE has started typing something brief. When ROSENFELD's done, so is he. He hands it to SIMONS.

What's this?

My non-denial denial.

We're not printing a retraction?


CLOSE UP--BRADLEE. He is thoughtful for a while. Then, spinning around, staring out towards the newsroom:

Fuck it, let's stand by the boys.

And he stands, spins out of the room as we



The rain has stopped. The apartment is dark. It's late at
night. Inside, the phone RINGS and


WOODWARD'S APARTMENT in the dark as he manages to knock the phone off its cradle.


What'd you find?

Jesus Christ, what time is it?

You overslept?


He fumbles for the lamp, as it falls with a CRASH--


WOODWARD--MOVING. Hair wild, clothes half-buttoned, he runs through the dark Washington streets as we


TWO WELL-DRESSED MEN in the shadows across the street, going in the same direction and


WOODWARD spotting them, picking up the pace and


THE TWO MEN moving faster too and now


A BUNCH OF CABS. WOODWARD jumps into the first and as it roars off


THE TWO MEN getting into a cab also, roaring off in the same direction and


WOODWARD'S CAB taking a corner fast and as it goes on, HOLD until the second cab takes the same corner, faster, and now


WOODWARD jumping out of his cab, fumbling into his pockets for change as we


THE TWO MEN getting out of their cab, paying, and as their cab drives off


WOODWARD diving back into his cab and in a moment it is roaring again through the night and we


THE TWO WELL-DRESSED MEN standing on the sidewalk, watching as WOODWARD disappears into the night and then suddenly,



--you were doing so well and then
you got stupid, you went too fast--
Christ, what a royal screw up--


DEEP THROAT and WOODWARD in the underground garage.

--I know, I know, the pressure's off
the White House and it's all back on
the Post--

--you've done worse than let Haldeman
slip away, you've got people feeling
sorry for him--I didn't think that
was possible. A conspiracy like this--
the rope has to tighten slowly around
everyone's neck. You build from the
outer edges and you go step by step.
If you shoot too high and miss, then
everybody feels more secure. You've
put the investigation back months.

We know that--and if we were wrong,
we're resigning--were we wrong?

You'll have to find that out, won't

Trump tweets while the world burns

by digby

I wrote about our president's obsession for Salon this morning:

There hasn’t been much going on this week. Well, other than the fate of more than 20 million people and one-sixth of the United States economy. And there are a few bothersome little events possibly happening over in the Middle East. But other than that this week has been dull, dull, dull. At least our fearless leader, Donald Trump, must think so since he’s been working night and day to fix the major global crisis of a story that briefly appeared on CNN’s website and was then retracted. Thank God the president of the United States is on it. If we all stick together through this challenging and critical time, we may just get through it.

OK, I’m being sarcastic. This has been a tumultuous and busy week in Washington, but it wasn’t fake news that had the majority of the country on pins and needles. It was the prospect of millions of people losing health care and services, with many individuals desperately in need of and possibly unable to survive without them. As it turns out, they were given a brief reprieve when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to muster 50 votes to ram the bill through the Senate. Now all eyes will turn to the individual home states where freaked-out constituents will be stalking these Republican officials. There will be parades and town halls and barbecues across the nation and these GOP politicians will get an earful.

One might have thought the president would be deeply involved with the Senate vote, since he’s allegedly the greatest negotiator the world has ever known. There have been reports of some phone calls to recalcitrant senators and a few offhand comments endorsing the bill, but Trump simply has not been a factor in the debate.

After McConnell announced he was delaying the vote until after the July 4 break, Trump had all the Republican senators at the White House for a photo op and brief meeting in which he made it clear he didn’t really give a damn about the health care bill one way or the other. He said, “This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like. And that’s OK, and I understand that very well.”

He has said from the beginning that he thought it would be better politically to just sabotage Obamacare and blame the Democrats, so this isn’t a surprise. Still, since Senate leadership continues to work to get the thing passed, it’s not exactly confidence building. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, summed up the situation as a problem related to Trump’s lack of political experience and the fact that he has yet to learn how to work with Congress. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., put things a little bit more bluntly on MSNBC on Tuesday, saying, “If you count on the president to have your back, you need to watch it.” The Washington Post reported that most senators consider the White House operation to be a paper tiger and simply don’t take the president seriously.

Trump wasn’t just uninterested or too busy with important matters to offer the negotiation his full attention. On Monday night the White House put out a statement saying that it had intelligence that the Syrian government was preparing to launch another gas attack. Journalists following this up with the State Department, the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command found that no officials at any of those agencies knew anything about this. That suggests either that the White House was making things up or there was a total lack of communication among the various responsible parties. According to The Daily Beast, the president himself was completely out of the loop:

According to a knowledgeable senior administration official, [Secretary of State] Tillerson warned his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov: the U.S. sees that Russia and Syria may be prepping for another chemical weapons attack; and that there will be consequences if Assad follows through with it. All this occurred this week as President Donald Trump displayed what two White House officials characterized as relative indifference and passivity towards the subject, instead opting to focus his public and private energies towards fuming at his domestic enemies in the Democratic Party and the “fake news.”

“The president cares more about CNN and the Russia story than [Syria] at the moment,” one official observed. . . .

White House officials speaking to The Daily Beast painted a picture of a president who, for the time being, is far more obsessed by negative press attention and media feuds at home than any coming atrocities abroad.

The official was in The Daily Beast account was referring to the story about three journalists who resigned from CNN after the network retracted a story about Trump crony Anthony Scaramucci’s being under investigation for his ties to Russia. Judging by Trump’s hysterical tweeting on the subject, he can think of nothing else. He evidently believes this somehow proves the Russia story is fake news.

According to The Daily Beast, presidential advisers Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner were consulted before the White House made the Syria announcement, which means they are acting in a presidential capacity on a major foreign policy issue while Trump tracks his bad press. Considering what other countries think about our president that might almost seem reassuring.

A Pew Research Center survey released this week shows that President Trump and his policies are overwhelmingly unpopular around the world. Pew polled people in 37 different countries on six continents, and on average only 22 percent of those surveyed said theyhave confidence that he will do the right thing in international affairs. (Trump got higher marks than former President Barack Obama in just two countries, Russia and Israel.)

America’s allies in Europe and North America are particularly repelled by him, which is deeply disturbing. And they don’t just disapprove of his policies, such as the supposed border wall or his travel ban or his withdrawal from the Paris accords. They disapprove of his personal character even more stridently. Most people around the world describe him as arrogant, intolerant and dangerous. Many do see him as “strong,” but they are probably assuming that his arrogant, intolerant, dangerous rhetoric signifies strength and confidence, when it is actually just the bleating of a deeply insecure and shallow man.

It appears the planet is about to find out whether the world’s only superpower can continue to function with a president who can do nothing but watch TV and battle with the news media over his coverage. Considering Donald Trump’s monumental limitations, of course, that might turn out to be a blessing.

Work the eye

by Tom Sullivan

Anthony Cordero at Muay Thai Championship Boxing Match. Photo by David Maiolo via Creative Commons.

There is safety in numbers, Republicans found yesterday. The Congressional Budget Office assessment late Monday that the GOP Senate's "Better" Obamacare replacement plan would take coverage from 22 million Americans allowed Republican lawmakers skittish about the bill's unpopularity to excuse themselves from voting for it. Now it wasn't only Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Dean Heller (Nevada). More of their colleagues joined them, bringing the "no" count to nine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell beat a strategic retreat, announcing he would delay any vote until after the July 4th recess.

Despite having run on repealing Obamacare, the New York Times reports President Trump appeared neither to care one way or another nor to understand what is actually in the bill:

Until Tuesday’s meeting at the White House, Mr. Trump had spoken with only a few members of the Senate, according to an administration official. The pace was nothing like the dozens of calls he made to help pass the House’s health bill, aides said.

A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.

Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added.
"Obamacare is a total disaster. It's melting down as we speak," Trump again told Republican leaders gathered at the White House. Nevertheless, he continued, "This will be great if we get it done. And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like. And that's okay, and I understand that very well."

With that kind of enthusiasm, Trump-the-Closer won't even win the set of steak knives for his well-done meat.

But Mitch McConnell is a closer and he'll be back after the recess. More time “could be good and it could be bad,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) told reporters. Slate's Jim Newell paints the outlines of a post-recess agreement:

Take the concerns of two moderate holdouts. Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia released a joint statement after the vote was delayed demanding changes. “The Senate draft before us includes some promising changes to reduce premiums in the individual insurance market,” Portman’s statement read, “but I continue to have real concerns about the Medicaid policies in this bill, especially those that impact drug treatment at a time when Ohio is facing an opioid epidemic.” Moore had similar concerns, arguing that the bill “as drafted” does “not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural health care providers."

If only there was some massive pool of money out there that could alleviate some of their fears. Indeed, there is! The CBO found that the bill would save the government $321 billion—or $188 billion more than budget rules require it to save. One might read Portman and Capito’s statements as asking that all of that money be used to soften the long-term Medicaid cuts and significantly increase the funds available to combat the opioid crisis.

The conservative holdouts, meanwhile, could be granted more of the market reforms they want—like, say, state waivers for the Affordable Care Act’s community rating rules, which bar insurers from charging sicker people more. “We can rewrite our bill to bring down the price working families pay for health insurance—while still protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Sen. Mike Lee said in a statement. In other words: Deregulate, and allow those with pre-existing conditions to take their rightful place in high-risk pools.
There is still plenty of spreading-around money McConnell can and will deploy, and more room in which to wiggle.

The Denver Post reports:
Organizers at numerous “Resistance” groups, chastened by their premature celebrations after the House’s repeal push seemed to stall, said that they’d use the recess to ramp up public pressure on Republicans. CREDO Action, which had organized 45,000 phone calls to Senate offices, planned to increase that number when senators went home. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, MoveOn and Daily Action were organizing their own phone banks, while Indivisible groups were organizing visits – and perhaps sit-ins – at local offices.

All of that would supplement under-the-radar but attention-grabbing TV ad campaigns from AARP, Protect Our Care and other progressive and industry groups. The goal, said activists, is to educate voters and break through to local media, which had not often put the development of the Senate bill on front pages or newscasts.
The Obamacare repeal has been cut over the eye. Don't let your guard down. Keep punching and work the eye.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

THIS is actually fake news. Seriously fake. Totally.

by digby

David Fahrenholdt does it again:

The framed copy of Time Magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump’s golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” the big headline said. Above the Time nameplate, there was another headline in all caps: “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”

This cover — dated March 1, 2009 — looks like an impressive memento from Trump’s pre-presidential career. To club members eating lunch, or golfers waiting for a pro-shop purchase, it seemed to be a signal that Trump had always been a man who mattered. Even when he was just a reality-TV star, Trump was the kind of star who got a cover story in Time.

But that wasn’t true.

The Time cover is a fake.

There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time Magazine. And there was no issue at all in 2009 that had Trump on the cover.

In fact,the cover on display at Trump’s clubs, observed recently by a reporter visiting one of the properties, contains several small but telling mistakes. Its red border is skinnier than that of a genuine Time cover, and, unlike the real thing, there is no thin white border next to the red. The Trump cover’s secondary headlines are stacked on the right side — on a real Time cover, they would go across the top.

And it has two exclamation points. Time headlines don’t yell.

“I can confirm that this is not a real TIME cover,” Kerri Chyka, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

Keep in mind that Trump has been so obsessed with some nonsense from well known hoaxster and fraud James O'Keefe and CNN firing three reporters after they retracted a story that his staff didn't even bother to tell him what they were doing about a Syrian gas attack. His press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke of almost nothing else in today's press briefing as well.

This isn't Trump's first fake magazine cover controversy. Remember this?

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a stern warning at a recent senior staff meeting: Quit trying to secretly slip stuff to President Donald Trump.

Just days earlier, K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it

He also, you'll recall, had a couple of fake identities he used to use to call up members of the press and pretend that he was his own press agent.

He's got a problem. And he's had it for a long time.


Lies, lies, lies

by digby

I wrote about the GOP lies about Trumpcare for Salon this morning:

When the House came back for its second bite of the apple and finally passed their dream legislation to repeal Obamacare and ensure that they make the health care system even worse than it was before, I was on a short hiatus and binge watching The Handmaid's Tale.  I had planned to stay away from politics as much as possible but this was a big deal so I had to tune in. Seeing all those white, male Republicans grinning and high fiving each other was a chilling sight and I turned away as quickly as I could, soothed by the nearly unanimous opinion that the Senate, the "saucer that cools the tea" would stop the abomination because they would never agree to a bill as draconian as the House bill. I told myself that I was so bothered by that sight because I was watching a haunting dystopian drama and it was affecting my mood.

Yesterday, when the CBO dropped its expected bombshell report showing that the Senate version of the bill was even worse in some ways than the House bill, I couldn't help but think of this:

We will know soon enough. The target date for a Senate vote remains Thursday of this week and then a quick getaway to hide their heads in shame. As I write this we have a few GOP Senators from the different factions of the party saying they won't vote for it without changes. It's either too harsh or not harsh enough or it's moving to fast or the process was improper. McConnell still has some cards to play and some money to give away so we'll see how all that unfolds.

This is a ghastly piece of legislation. Indeed, it's so appalling that some people suspect that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell planned for it not to pass just so that he could say he tried and then get it off his agenda. (I don't think that's true and in fact he probably floated that idea himself just in case this thing blows up.)
He couldn't have made it any worse if he tried.

That hasn't stopped the Republicans from defending it. Indeed, a few of them went out over the week-end and appeared on various news programs making the only defense possible: they lied.

Kellyanne Conway is a professional spin artist who has had no trouble transitioning to outright dishonesty in her new job. She was smooth a silk on ABC's This Week claiming there are absolutely no cuts to Medicaid and that furthermore, if able-bodied people are kicked off the rolls they will just get a job that has employer sponsored health insurance like she has. Of course 80 percent of Medicaid households do have someone who works at a job that doesn't provide benefits --- which Conway would be the first to defend as the God-given right of any employer. And the vast majority of Medicaid patients who aren't working can't work, such as the elderly in nursing homes. Sixty four percent of them nationwide are covered by Medicaid.

Her rationale for this insistence that Medicaid wasn't being cut is that it they aren't cutting the budget, merely slowing its growth. This explanation was also taken up by President George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer who tiresomely insisted on twitter that you can't call it a cut when the future budget simply isn't as much as promised:

This is fatuous nonsense as the Washington Post explained:
Spending “always goes up" in Washington in part because of this little thing called inflation — as prices go up, government spending has to increase, too, just to keep up. 
Fortunately, the CBO's scorecard of the bill has been released to help clarify the waters that GOP allies are so diligently muddying. That report is crystal clear: Between now and 2026, the GOP Senate health-care plan would carve out "a reduction of $772 billion in federal outlays for Medicaid."
Senator Susan Collins didn't try to sugar coat the problem, saying
“I’m very concerned about … the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments, the most vulnerable people in our society, and health care providers such as our rural hospitals and nursing home, most of whom are very dependent on the Medicaid program … given the inflation rate that would be applied in the outer years to the Medicaid program, the Senate bill is going to have more impact on the Medicaid program than even the House bill.” 
Conway and Fleischer may actually more honest than Health and Human services secretary Tom Price who declared on CNN, ”We will not have individuals lose coverage.” In a way, he's right. They won't lose coverage, it is being taken from them so that Republicans can give tax breaks to their rich friends. To put it another way, the tax cuts that 400 wealthy families get from the Senate bill equals the Medicaid expansion for more than 700,000 people.

Former Club for Growth president and current Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey went  on Face the Nation insisting that “no one will lose coverage” if they’re on Medicaid and Senator Ron Johnson appeared on Meet the Press and compared people with pre-existing conditions to someone with a bad driving record who has to pay more. Evidently, if you don't have a lot of money you should be very careful that you don't recklessly go out and get cancer.

Johnson, at least, has the excuse that he just really doesn't understand anything. Majority whip John Cornyn of Texas understands very well what he's doing. He tweeted this yesterday:

This one's not a lie. It's true that in 2026 under Obamacare it's projected that 28 million will still be uninsured. He just leaves out the punchline --- the same projections say that if this Senate plan were to take effect, the number of uninsured would be almost 50 million people. 

The leading defenders of this grotesque bill are willing to dissemble, obfuscate and blatantly lie to the public about what is in it. They have no choice. It's indefensible on the merits. But I have to say, the fact that there are only a small handful of Republican Senators even prepared to make some phony noises against it says everything you need to know about the moral rot at the heart of this Republican majority.

Joan Walsh

Ari Fleischer

What a morning

by digby

It was a wild ride but they delayed the Senate Trumpcare vote until after the July 4th recess. I hope every one of us finds a way to get out there and get in their faces about this.  They should go back to Washington knowing in no uncertain terms that they will be labeled monsters forever if they do this thing.


Health care is a human right

by digby

If you're feeling freaked out by this health care mess, watch this video and listen to the voice of John Lewis:

This was an unusual event, haunting and intimate and very effective. I don't know if we'll win this one but these politicians should be applauded for making the case for decency and humanity.

Hated superpower. What could go wrong?

by digby

Yeah, he's really made the world respect us:
“Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States. Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations. According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs.”

“This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.”

The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the U.S. president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada. Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel.

In countries where confidence in the U.S. president fell most, America’s overall image has also tended to suffer more. In the closing years of the Obama presidency, a median of 64% had a positive view of the U.S. Today, just 49% are favorably inclined toward America. Again, some of the steepest declines in U.S. image are found among long-standing allies.

Since 2002, when Pew Research Center first asked about America’s image abroad, favorable opinion of the U.S. has frequently tracked with confidence in the country’s president. Prior to this spring, one of the biggest shifts in attitudes toward the U.S. occurred with the change from George W. Bush’s administration to Obama’s. At that time, positive views of the U.S. climbed in Europe and other regions, as did trust in how the new president would handle world affairs.

The rest of the world is worried, as it should be:

Confidence in President Trump is influenced by reactions to both his policies and his character. With regard to the former, some of his signature policy initiatives are widely opposed around the globe.

His plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, is opposed by a median of 76% across the 37 countries surveyed. Opposition is especially intense in Mexico, where more than nine-in-ten (94%) oppose the U.S. government erecting a wall.

Similar levels of global opposition greet Trump’s policy stances on withdrawing from international trade agreements and climate change accords. And most across the nations surveyed also disapprove of the new administration’s efforts to restrict entry into the U.S. by people from certain Muslim-majority nations.

Trump’s intention to back away from the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran meets less opposition than his other policy initiatives, but even here publics around the world disapprove of such an action by a wide margin.

Trump’s character is also a factor in how he is viewed abroad. In the eyes of most people surveyed around the world, the White House’s new occupant is arrogant, intolerant and even dangerous. Among the positive characteristics tested, his highest rating is for being a strong leader. Fewer believe he is charismatic, well-qualified or cares about ordinary people.

They'll soon realize he's not a "strong leader" either. He couldn't lead Barron's boy scout troop. But because he bellows like Mussolini they think "strong." In truth the only thing anyone takes seriously about him is that he's dangerous --- like a toddler sitting next to a gas can playing with matches.

The world doesn't hate all of us quite as much, but if we keep these lunatics in power that won't last:

While the new U.S. president is viewed with doubt and apprehension in many countries, America’s overall image benefits from a substantial reservoir of goodwill. The American people, for instance, continue to be well-regarded – across the 37 nations polled, a median of 58% say they have a favorable opinion of Americans. U.S. popular culture, likewise, has maintained appeal abroad, and many people overseas still believe Washington respects the personal freedoms of its people.

That remains to be seen.



Cruel and senseless

by Tom Sullivan

Story link here.

Health care is personal, intensely personal, I wrote two weeks ago. I have several friends fighting cancer. If you don't, you will. Two of them made their stories public in the last 24 hours.

Laura Packard, 41, is in chemotherapy. Self-employed, single, and an Obamacare patient, Packard found out she had stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma just months ago. Even at that stage it has a 90 percent cure rate, her oncologist tells her. That is, if Republicans in Congress don't take away her insurance. She writes at U.S. News & World Report:

The various versions of health care reform being discussed in Washington D.C. terrify me and my new cancer friends. (Cancer is the shittiest fraternity, with the best members; everyone that I have met over the past couple months has been unbelievably kind.)

Getting rid of lifetime and/or annual limits? That means many of us will die when we hit those caps and can no longer afford treatment. Getting rid of pre-existing condition protections? Many of us will die, because we won't be insurable anymore. Allowing insurers to remove essential health benefits (such as chemotherapy, or hospitalization, or many of the drugs we need to stay alive) means many of us will die, because our insurance won't cover our treatment anymore.

This is not an academic question for me, because I am undergoing chemotherapy right now. I may need radiation after, or if this fails, immunotherapy. Will I be able to get affordable insurance next year, or will I die?
Joel Silberman, 68, can fight his stage 2 pancreatic cancer because, thanks to Medicare and marriage equality, his spouse's Government Employee Health Association group plan provides secondary insurance that will allow him to fight his illness without wiping out their savings. He writes:
A Congressional Budget Office report released today reveals just how lucky I am to be covered by my husband's plan; 22 million more Americans could go uninsured should the Republican-backed American Health Care Act pass.

Many, many, people were responsible for equality that saved my life. And now we all must come together again and save the lives of many more from healthcare bill that will truly bankrupt or kill people.
But Joel can tell you that himself:

The unbelievable kindness Packard found is in short supply in an America possessed by fear. An America raised on bulletproof heroes in action films and John Wayne westerns (Wayne died of stomach cancer) is shaken to its bones by its own vulnerability. By the September 11 attacks. By the Great Recession. By shifting demographics and globalization. By a collapsing middle class and income inequality. By fear of the stranger, the foreigner, the Other. But mostly by fear of losing power, both personal and political.

In our fear, we have replaced "We the People" and e pluribus unum with travel bans and "I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack."

Humans do a lot of cruel, senseless things when they are afraid. Like trampling each other to death in a mindless rush to escape danger. A conservative movement funded by billionaire ideologues and media magnates created a populist uprising it hoped would sustain Republicans' and their own power in this changing world. Republicans gerrymandered districts across the country and erected barriers to voting to lock in that power by locking out democracy. They promised the faithful, as did their party's self-absorbed leader, to undo all the works of the Kenyan Usurper. Chief among them is the Affordable Care Act, a flawed program, but one that saves lives and protects millions of others.

But these uprisings have a way of getting out of control. Now Republicans in the House and Senate fear the wrath of the very movement they birthed. In their fear, they are close to acceding to the demands of supporters to "Let them die." Them would be any sick American who is not Us. Speaking of cruel and senseless.

"Fear is the mind-killer," Frank Herbert wrote in his famous novel. Republicans in the United States House and Senate would do well to meditate on that as well as the red letters from the King James New Testament before doing any more that is cruel and senseless.

Monday, June 26, 2017

What kind of country is this?

by digby

Congressman Joe Kennedy tries to summon American pride. I'm not sure it works in the era of Trump, but it's a nice speech:

Death by a thousand cuts

by digby

Health Insurance expert Andy Slavitt:

New estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paint by numbers the impact of the Senate healthcare bill. It’s a bill not about repealing “ObamaCare,” but about capping federal health spending and cutting taxes for the richest Americans and corporations.

The scope of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is broad. It expands Medicaid, prioritizes value-based care in Medicare and invests in public health. But Republicans’ criticisms have focused narrowly on the individual market — people purchasing health insurance on their own. Virtually every one of President Trump’s claims that “ObamaCare is dead” is about premiums, deductibles and choices among the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace plans.

But the Senate Republican plan does not repeal this part of ObamaCare. Republicans could fully repeal the ACA’s Marketplace financial assistance and have enough to fund every tax cut envisioned in their bill. CBO’s January 2017 baseline assumes $781 billion in Marketplace assistance from 2018 to 2026, compared to the Senate bill’s $701 billion in tax cuts over the same period.

While the Senate bill does not repeal ObamaCare, it does not improve it either. The Senate bill would maintain the ACA’s health insurance tax credits, but at reduced levels, leaving consumers to spend more to get less. Marketplace spending under the bill would be about 60 percent of what is projected with no change according to CBO.

It takes the misguided approach of linking premium tax credits to lower value and higher deductible plans while eliminating financial assistance that reduces cost sharing for consumers. The Senate Republican bill also zeroes out the individual mandate fee, which CBO and insurers suggest will increase premiums by about 20 percent next year. And it lowers the “failsafe” or overall cap on Marketplace financial assistance, potentially rationing Marketplace subsidies like it rations Medicaid.

What’s more, CBO makes clear that Republicans prioritize cutting $772 billion in federal Medicaid spending, an amount that is nearly the same as every dollar spent on Marketplace financial assistance. Medicaid savings include rolling back the ACA’s coverage expansion and capping on federal Medicaid spending for the first time in the program’s history. In fact, over half of the pages in the Senate bill are devoted to Medicaid changes unrelated to the ACA.

In short, the CBO estimates suggest that the Senate bill neither repeals nor repairs ObamaCare. But it does cap federal health spending in order to cut taxes for corporations and high-income individuals. As Senators prepare to vote on this bill, they should be clear-eyed on its consequences.

Obviously the vast majority are fine with it. There might be a few on either end of the spectrum who think it's too cruel or not cruel enough. But the mainstream of GOP elected aren't balking.

Ivanka's tax cuts FTW!

by digby

Here you go with the new CBO score:

The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday.

Next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law, the budget office said.

The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said.

The release of the budget office’s analysis comes as a number of reluctant Republican senators weigh whether to support the health bill, which the majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, wants approved before a planned recess for the Fourth of July.

Mr. McConnell already faced a host of reservations from across the ideological spectrum in his conference. Five Republican senators have said they cannot support the version of the bill that was released last week, and Mr. McConnell can afford to lose only two.

Before the budget office released its report on Monday, the American Medical Association officially announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association urged the Senate to slow down.

Now, the budget office’s findings will give fodder to Democrats who were already assailing the bill as cruel. It could give pause to some Republican senators who have been mulling whether to support the bill — or it could give them an additional reason to come out against the bill altogether.

It is still unclear whether the new budget office projections will be judged against the House’s version, or against the Affordable Care Act’s coverage figures. Beyond the number of Americans without health insurance, the Senate bill’s $321 billion in deficit reduction is larger than the $119 billion total that the budget office found for the bill that passed the House.

Earlier Monday afternoon, Senate Republican leaders altered their health bill to penalize people who go without health insurance by requiring them to wait six months before their coverage would begin. Insurers would generally be required to impose the waiting period on people who lacked coverage for more than about two months in the prior year.

The waiting-period proposal is meant to address a conspicuous omission in the Senate’s bill: The measure would end the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that nearly all Americans have health insurance, but it also would require insurers to accept anyone who applies. The waiting period is supposed to prevent people from waiting until they get sick to purchase a health plan. Insurers need large numbers of healthy people to help pay for those who are sick.

Under one of the most unpopular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the government can impose tax penalties on people who go without health coverage. Republicans have denounced this as government coercion.

The repeal bill passed by the House last month has a different kind of incentive. It would impose a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for people who have gone without insurance. But the Congressional Budget Office said this provision could backfire. As a result of the surcharge, it said, two million fewer people would enroll, and the people most likely to be deterred would be those who are healthy

They will, of course, say the CBO is lying. And it could be wrong. But that could mean this mutant atrocity of a "health care" bill will actually be worse. In fact, it probably will trigger a death spiral in the whole insurance sector.

But whatevs. They knew it was going to be bad when they did it. They don't care. They want tax cuts for Ivanka and that's all there is to it.

They have all become monsters.


If you hate boomers the GOP is delivering for you

by digby

They're taking on the later boomers like me who tend not to vote for them as much. If they can pick off enough of us before we hit Medicare and SS age, properly suppress the vote of blacks and Hispanics they could set themselves up quite nicely for a future lock on the government.

The above chart tracks the increase in premium price for “silver plan” insurance coverage for a hypothetical 60-year-old with income at 350 percent of the poverty line in 2020.

The below chart tracks the decrease in premium tax credits for the the same hypothetical individual, except now the individual has an income slightly above 350 percent of the poverty line, so that they would not receive any federal tax credit to purchase insurance on the individual market.

CBPP took into account the Senate Republican bill’s cuts to tax credits for individuals purchasing insurance; the bill’s re-arrangement of the tax credit schedule, which would disfavor older people; the bill’s elimination of tax credits for individuals between 350 and 400 percent of the poverty line; and the bill’s stipulation that insurers would now be allowed to charge older people up to five times more than young people, as opposed to three times more under Obamacare. The bill would also eliminate Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, insurer subsidies to help low-income individuals afford care.

Suhweet! Look at all those potential sick, bankrupt and dead old people. It just gets better every day.

My way or the highway

by digby

2018 is going to be a real thrill. The bully in chief won by raking down 16 other Republicans in a primary and he's going to do the same to members of the party who buck his agenda. Or that seems to be the plan anyway:
A new campaign by top White House allies targeting the GOP’s most vulnerable senator over health care sends a loud message to those resistant to the Trump agenda: We’re coming after you.

America First Policies, a White House-backed outside group led by the president’s top campaign advisers, has launched a $1 million attack against Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who on Friday announced that he opposed the Senate’s recently unveiled Obamacare repeal plan.

That included a Twitter and digital ad campaign targeting the senator, including a video that accuses him of “standing with” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a reviled figure in conservative circles.

“Unacceptable,” the video says. “If you’re opposed to this bill, we’re opposed to you.”

America First Policies is set to expand its campaign early this week with TV ads that will go after the Nevada senator.

The offensive aims both to punish Heller and to sway his vote, and it is a stunning act of political retaliation against a member of the president’s own party — one who faces a perilous path to reelection in 2018. Senior Republicans, many of whom are deeply worried about Heller’s political standing and increasingly nervous about the midterms, were shocked and spent the weekend measuring the possible fallout.

Those close to the White House say the attack is an outgrowth of President Donald Trump’s mounting frustration over his stymied legislative agenda and anger at Capitol Hill Republicans whom he sees as unhelpful.

In a Saturday tweet, Trump hinted at his displeasure after multiple senators expressed concerns with the bill: “I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer!”

By targeting Heller, America First Policies is telegraphing to recalcitrant Republican lawmakers — even those trying to navigate treacherous political waters at home — that they will be punished if they don’t go along with the Trump agenda. Other Republicans could soon face similar attacks.

Brian Walsh, president of America First Policies, said after Heller’s Friday news conference that the group’s senior leadership — including former Republican National Committee chief of staff Katie Walsh, Trump fundraiser Tommy Hicks, and Nick Ayers, a longtime top strategist for Vice President Mike Pence — determined that “it was time to make a strong statement."

“For the greater part of a decade the GOP has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, taken dozens of votes to do so, now, with the ability to keep that promise on the horizon, legislators are wavering,” Walsh said. “Sen. Heller's decision to walk away is unacceptable and sends the wrong message to the rest of the senators who are still working to get to ‘yes.’”

Within 90 minutes of Heller’s announcement, the group had mobilized. Determined not to let the news fade on a summer Friday afternoon, Brad Parscale, the digital director on Trump’s presidential campaign who now works with America First Policies, directed an anti-Heller Twitter offensive aimed at ginning up anger among Trump supporters. Spending just over $100,000, the organization encouraged people to tweet at Heller and his staffers, created algorithms that tied Heller with Pelosi, and promoted a “HellerVotesYes” hashtag.

For America First Policies, the move represented something of an about-face. During the House health care debate this spring, White House officials said the group was too passive and should have pressured Republicans who opposed the repeal effort. As Congress entered the summer months, the group promised a more muscular effort to promote the president’s agenda.

The anti-Heller move, however, rankled allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who keeps a close eye on his party’s 2018 plans and is deeply sensitive to attacks on his members. Several McConnell political advisers said they received no warning and vented that it was a serious misstep, especially with the party holding just a two-seat majority.

It sounds like they've got a big fight on their hands. Hooray for the good guys, right?


Heller’s team was also blindsided and infuriated by the barrage, said one adviser to the Nevada senator. But, fearful of further antagonizing the White House, they refrained from hitting back.

I will still be surprised if the moderates are the ones to stop this atrocity. Far more likely to be the wingnuts, who are being given cover by the Koch brothers.

Who knows? Maybe they'll push too hard and a whole group of "moderates" will fall out. But that would be a real change of pace for the Republican Party. None of the so-called moderates have ever bucked the leadership.

"I know you are but what am I" is not presidential

by digby

Has anyone noticed the picture Trump has on his twitter page is a huge crowd dressed in red with arms stretched out in Nazi salutes?

I wrote about Trump's "I know you are but what am I" gambit for Salon this morning:

In the wake of the big Washington Post report last week chronicling the Obama administration's responses to the Russian interference in the presidential campaign, Donald Trump finally admitted that it happened. Well, sort of. He did it the only way he could that would make him feel comfortable: passing the buck. In one of his greatest acts of chutzpah yet, Trump attacked Obama for failing to stop the Russian government from helping him win the election.

Then he seemed lose himself for a moment and just tweeted out in all caps MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

It's tempting to think this was all just Trump needing to vent on twitter (not that that is an acceptable practice for the President of the United States) but it appears to be the official White House strategy. Kelly Ann Conway echoed his line on Sunday Morning:
“It's the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did absolutely nothing. They're responsible for this...I have a hacking question for the Obama administration: Why did you, quote, choke, in the name of one of their senior administration officials? Why did you do nothing? Why didn't you inform candidate Trump?”
Trump himself went on Fox and said, “Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before the election. … If he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it. But you don’t read that. It’s quite sad.”

That's crazy talk. The whole world knew about it on June 14, 2016 when the Washington Post first reported that Russian actors had hacked the DNC. And Donald Trump certainly knew about it at least as early as July 27th when he said, "They hacked—they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

In the first presidential debate in September, Trump memorably responded to Hillary Clinton's assertion that the Russians had interfered by saying, "I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't—maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"

And as for Conway's obnoxious question about why the Obama administration didn't inform candidate Trump, well they did. After that contentious debate exchange NBC News reported:
During Sunday’s debate, Donald Trump once again said he doesn’t know whether Russia is trying to hack the U.S. election, despite Friday’s statement by the U.S. intelligence community pointing the finger at Putin –- and despite the fact that Trump was personally briefed on Russia’s role in the hacks by U.S. officials.

A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August. "To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation,” said the official. “The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear."

His rejection of this information has continued for months with tweets about the Russia scandal like this:

“Witch Hunt!”
“a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election”
“fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election”
“taxpayer funded charade”
“a total hoax”
“an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election”
“A total scam!”
“a hoax”

These statements were all made since he became president. The only one failing to inform him is himself. And his persistent unwillingness to criticize Vladimir Putin or even admit that it's happening has created an overwhelming suspicion that he's hiding something.

None of this is to say that President Obama and his administration made the right decision by not taking action earlier. The Washington Post article is fairly damning on that count. And as Julia Ioffe observed in this article in the Atlantic, it might have made a difference in another way if the administration had done before the election what it did afterwards:
When Obama did make the attack public, the amount of panic and political dust kicked up by the release of the intelligence report in January, along with the congressional investigations it triggered, proved debilitating for Russian ambitions. The Russians lost their main ally in the White House, Michael Flynn, who was pushing President Trump to unilaterally lift Russia sanctions.

It's doubtful that alone would have altered the outcome of the race. We know that the Republican leadership was happy for the Russian government to help their team get elected and they would have dismissed any public actions as dirty partisan pool. But it is possible that it might have made the Russian government pull back from the brink and think better of making such an audacious move.

It's likely that the administration thought Clinton was a lock and that they could deal with it properly after the election. That was very bad judgment. They should have known that in a year in which the Republican Party had 17 (mostly) qualified candidates and yet they nominated Donald Trump, anything could happen.

Blaming Obama for the Russian hacking will probably convince most of Trump's voters that he's off the hook. They'll believe anything. But that won't solve his problem. Thanks to his own clumsy, self-destructive attempts get the investigation into the interference quashed he's now the subject of a criminal inquiry. Tweeting in so many words, "I know you are but what am I" isn't going to change that.

This is the worst case of "I know you are but what am I" in American political history but it's quite clever. It's leaving Democrats disoriented and the media bewildered.

Haberman claims that this is a technique Trump uses in order to make deals --- be on all sides of an issue.

He didn't do more but if he had the Trump campaign would have complained that he was meddling in the campaign.That's why they didn't do more.

Is he going to stick to the new line that the Russians did interfere? Who knows.

Talked himself into  corner... did it happen or didn't it?

Cyber-security commission?

If it was real now they are going to have to back sanctions he's going to have to change his tune. Totally reversed himself.