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Meyerson on TAP
As the Senate begins its deliberations on DACA, the ICE Deport Anyone Campaign rolls on. On the Prospect home page today, we’ve posted an article by David Bacon on the efforts of California unions to defend immigrants—and not just their own members—from expulsion, and co-published a piece with Capital & Main on the 5,000 DACA recipients in California who are teachers.
In its zeal to meet deportation quotas, ICE has shown complete indifference to such trivialities as whether their detainees have committed serious crimes or are esteemed members of their communities. As a piece in Monday’s Washington Post documented, ICE arrested 37,734 “non-criminals” in 2017, breaking up families and communities in the process.
The closest parallel in American history to ICE’s current expulsion mania is the grim saga of the Fugitive Slave Act. The act, passed by a Southern-dominated Congress in 1850, effectively gave police power to slaveholders and their agents to go into the non-slave states of the North to capture and re-enslave African Americans who’d achieved the status of free men and women by crossing the Mason-Dixon line. Then as now, federal law conscripted the local authorities in Northern states—where the pursued were welcome—to cooperate with the hunters, and on occasion federal forces were sent to help in the apprehensions.
And then as now, the reason that federal forces were sent was that many in those Northern states sought to thwart the slaveholders and the soldiers. African Americans concealed their hunted brothers and sisters, on a couple of occasions overpowering the slaveholders to free them again. State and local governments passed laws forbidding such cooperation, much as California has passed such laws today. Masses of people turned out to protest the seizures, just as rapid response teams do today.
Underpinning both these abysmal episodes in our history is a sectionalized racism. The Fugitive Slave Act effectively imposed Southern slave codes on Northern states that had no desire to enforce them. The ICE raids impose the racism and xenophobia of the worst parts of Trump’s base, disproportionately clustered in heavily white regions home to few if any immigrants, on states like California and New York, where immigrants are not just welcome but an axiom of local life.
In response, a number of local and state governments have offered legal assistance to ICE arrestees and forbidden police cooperation with them, while activists have turned out in the streets and the courts to support the detainees. All necessary actions, but there’s still more that could be done. At least so long as ICE continues to arrest and deport immigrants with no regard for what they’ve done and who they are, ICE agents should be treated as Northerners treated the slaveholder-kidnappers. Sit-down demonstrations obstructing ICE offices seem a good way to start. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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Donald Trump

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Jane C. Timm 14 hrs ago

In the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida, President Donald Trump called the suspected gunman “mentally disturbed” in a tweet and vowed his administration would “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
Here’s what Trump’s administration has done or proposed so far that would impact mental heath care in America.
This month, the president signed a two-year funding bill hammered out by Congressional leaders that included $6 billion for opioid and mental health care. Days later, the White House’s budget proposal — a suggestion to Congress, which will ultimately decide how to divvy up the government’s money — said the president wanted to allocate $13 billion in mental health and opioid funding.

Mental health care experts say those big dollar amounts obscure a dangerous reality: that same budget proposed massive cuts to Medicaid that they say would devastate the nation’s mental health care system.
“Medicaid pays for about a quarter of mental health and substance abuse treatment in this country,” said Rebecca Farley David, vice president for policy and advocacy at the National Council for Behavioral Health.
Slashing Medicaid means taking mental health care from vulnerable populations, David said, even if grants elsewhere are tacked on.
“By and large, if we make major cuts to Medicaid, we lose any progress that we might make elsewhere,” she told NBC News.
Trump, in his brief remarks at the White House Thursday morning, spoke about securing the nation’s schools — and underscored the need for meaningful action.
“We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” he said in brief remarks at the White House Thursday morning. “Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.”
Andrew Sperling, the director of legislative and policy advocacy at National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), noted that the White House has also allowed states to add work requirements to Medicaid coverage, something that undermines those seeking care for addiction or mental health requirements that could temporarily land them out of work, but not rise to the level of a permanent disability, which are excluded from work requirements.
“They’d lose access to the very treatment they need to get better,” Sperling told NBC News.
The president also quietly rolled back a controversial Obama-era regulation early last year that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to buy guns. Gun control and mental health advocates nationwide were split on this, with many in the latter group arguing that mental illness does not correlate with violence, while gun control supporters argued it was necessary.
Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, said the country needs to rethink its approach to mental health entirely. Suicide rates keep rising as the mortality rates of other major killers like cancer dips because the nation invested in early, preventative care to catch symptoms early, he said.
“We never did that with mental illness. Here, we wait, and we wait, and we wait until we have crises,” he told NBC News. “The lesson of yesterday is not what we’re going to do about the shooter, it’s what we’re going to do about all the victims of the shooting: 3000 people in that school—they’ve all experienced a profound trauma, and yet we have no level one trauma centers for mental health in this country. We have no plan.

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Apparently Mr. Pruitt feels ill used by the people he is supposed to advocate for, I guess his rollback of environmental protections for the country’s health should not be a flash point for the voters. Suppose he did the job he is supposed to do (serve the people) maybe his travel experience would improve. His actions along with a few other cabinet minister’s travel habits explain why this administration’s policies do not bode well for us.MA

EPA: Pruitt faced profanities from fellow passengers when he flew coach
Brandon Carter 8 hrs ago

© Provided by The Hill
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that Administrator Scott Pruitt faced profanities and confrontations while traveling after controversy surrounding his use of first-class flights.

The director of the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Henry Barnet, told Politico that Pruitt was “approached in the airport numerous times” and had profanities “yelled at him” during his travels.
Barnet told the publication that one specific incident saw a person approach Pruitt and shout “Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment” while recording it on a cellphone.
“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” Barnet told Politico.
“We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, that it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth,” he continued.
The EPA’s defense of the administrator’s traveling habits comes after The Washington Post reported Sunday that Pruitt frequently flies first class on official trips, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
CBS News reported late Tuesday that Pruitt flew business class in June on an Emirates flight back from Italy after obtaining a waiver to rules that require official travel to be on United States-flagged airlines.
On Tuesday, Pruitt blamed his first-class flying on interactions that have “not been the best.”
He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that his security detail dictated his travel choices, and he played no role in the decisions.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt said.
“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”
Pruitt and his family have received far more threats than previous EPA leaders. E&E News reported that the EPA’s inspector general opened about 70 investigations into threats in 2017, about double the previous year.
In response, Pruitt and the EPA have taken additional security measures that his predecessors didn’t.

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Vanity Fair From the Magazine
“Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?”: Reince Priebus Opens Up About His Six Months of Magical Thinking
Months after his chaotic resignation as chief of staff, and with his successor on the hot seat, Priebus comes clean about everything: the inauguration crowd-size fiasco, the decision to fire Comey, the Mooch, the tweets, how he helped saved Jeff Sessions’s job, and his mercurial former boss. “I still love the guy,” he says.

by Chris Whipple
February 14, 2018 3:00 pm

Just after six a.m. on January 21, 2017, at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, Reince Priebus was watching the cable morning news shows, getting ready to leave for the White House. Suddenly his cell phone went off. It was Donald Trump. The new president, sworn in less than 24 hours earlier, had just seen The Washington Post, with photos showing Trump’s inaugural crowd dwarfed by that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The president was livid, screaming at his chief of staff. “He said, ‘This story is bullshit,’ ” recalled Priebus. “He said, ‘There’s more people there. There are people who couldn’t get in the gates. . . . There’s all kind of things that were going on that made it impossible for these people to get there.’ . . . The president said, ‘Call [Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke. Find out from the Park Service. Tell him to get a picture and do some research right away.’ ” The president wanted his chief of staff to fix this story. Immediately.
Priebus tried to talk Trump off the ledge. “It doesn’t matter,” Priebus argued. “It’s Washington, D.C. We’re in an 85 percent Democrat area. Northern Virginia’s 60 percent. Maryland’s 65 percent. . . . This is a Democrat haven, and nobody cares.” But Trump was having none of it. Priebus thought, “Is this something that I really want to go to battle over on day one? Who needs a controversy over the inauguration?” Priebus realized he faced a decision: “Am I going to go to war over this with the president of the United States?”

Hours later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped into the White House briefing room. “What happened,” Priebus remembered, “was Spicer decided to say that actually, if you combine online and television, radio, and in-person, it was the most watched inauguration.” The trouble with that reasoning was that Spicer’s response—a belligerent, Orwellian performance beamed around the world—was a lie. From the very start, the credibility of the Trump presidency became a laughingstock, immortalized by actress Melissa McCarthy in her devastating parody of Spicer on Saturday Night Live.
On day one, instead of going to war with Donald Trump, Priebus had gone along.

Adapted from a new edition of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, by Chris Whipple, published in paperback on March 6, 2018, by Crown.
Priebus cannot say he wasn’t warned. Just a month before the inauguration, he had been invited to lunch by Barack Obama’s outgoing chief of staff, Denis McDonough. Following the example of a memorable breakfast hosted eight years earlier by George W. Bush’s chief Josh Bolten—when 12 former White House chiefs had come to give advice to Obama’s incoming chief, Rahm Emanuel—McDonough was joined by 10 chiefs, Republicans and Democrats, in his West Wing office. And as they gathered around a long table, none doubted the enormity of the challenge facing Priebus. “We wanted to help Reince in any way we could,” said Jack Watson, who served President Jimmy Carter. “But I don’t think there was a chief in the room that thought he was going to be able to do the job, given Trump as his president.” Most of the former chiefs believed Trump was intellectually and temperamentally unfit for office—and few thought Priebus could rein him in or tell him hard truths. “We were thinking, God bless him. Godspeed. Good luck,” said Watson. “But he doesn’t have a prayer.”
Priebus was hobbled by two other factors. A former Republican National Committee chairman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, he barely knew his new boss, and he was part of the establishment that Trump had vilified. Moreover, during the campaign, the two men had been known to feud. Trump had been especially resentful of Priebus’s reaction to the campaign’s existential crisis just a month before Election Day: the release of the tawdry Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump had made graphic misogynist comments that were caught by an open microphone.

The morning after the video surfaced, Trump’s candidacy had been pronounced all but dead in the media. In response, the beleaguered nominee’s top aides—campaign C.E.O. Stephen Bannon, former New York mayor Rudy Giu­liani, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump—gathered at Trump Tower for a war council to advise the candidate on whether he should stay in the race or quit.
The nominee, sleep-deprived, surly, his jaw clenched, posed the crucial question: in light of the videotape, what were his chances of winning? Priebus went first: “If you decide to stay in, you will lose in the biggest landslide in American political history.” One by one, Trump’s other advisers danced around the question—until finally it was Bannon’s turn. “One hundred percent,” he declared. “One hundred percent you’re going to win this thing. Metaphysical.” (Priebus recalled things differently, saying no one was that emphatic.)
Trump, of course, pulled off an astonishing upset. And a month later, McDonough met his successor as chief of staff in the West Wing lobby and escorted him to his office. As the former chiefs went around the table, giving Priebus advice, they were unanimous about one thing: Trump would be unable to govern unless Priebus was empowered as first among equals in the West Wing. Trump’s incoming chief dutifully took notes on a yellow pad.
Suddenly there was a commotion; Barack Obama was entering the room. Everyone stood and shook hands, then Obama motioned for them to sit. The 44th president’s own chiefs—Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Jack Lew, McDonough, and Pete Rouse (who served unofficially)—were all pres­ent, and Obama nodded toward them. “Every one of these guys at different times told me something that pissed me off,” Obama said, flashing his familiar grin. “They weren’t always right; sometimes I was. But they were right to do that because they knew they had to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear.” Obama looked at Priebus. “That’s the most important function of a chief of staff. Presidents need that. And I hope you will do that for President Trump.” With that, Obama said his good-byes and departed.
The chiefs were not sure Priebus got the message. “I caught the eye of several of the others and we exchanged worried expressions,” one Republican in attendance remembered. “He seemed much too relaxed about being able to navigate a difficult job. I think he struck a lot of us as clueless.” Another was even more blunt about Priebus’s nonchalance: “He was approaching the job like it was some combination of personal aide and cruise director.”

Dining alone with Priebus a few weeks earlier, Bush’s chief Josh Bolten had been alarmed: Priebus seemed to regard himself as Trump’s babysitter and had given little thought to governing. “I could tell that he was nervous about leaving Trump alone and was kind of candid about ‘If I’m not there, Lord knows what happens,’” Bolten recalled. In his view, Priebus seemed “neither focused on organizing his White House staff nor in control of his own life. He was just responding to the fire of the day.”
And there was another ominous sign. Obama’s staff had spent months preparing voluminous transition briefs, thick binders designed to help the next administration get up to speed on subjects ranging from Iran to Cuba to climate change. Every previous incoming team had studied such volumes with care. But as the inauguration drew near, McDonough realized that the binders had not even been opened: “All the paperwork, all the briefings that had been prepared for their transition team, went unused,” he said. “Unread. Unreviewed.”

The inept start of the Trump presidency—with the flagrant lying about crowd sizes—confirmed the ex-chiefs’ worst fears. “It told me that Reince wasn’t in control,” observed Jack Watson. “It told me Reince had no power to say to the president, ‘Mr. President, we can’t do that! We are going to get killed if we do that.’ ” George W. Bush’s first chief, Andrew Card, watched with a sinking feeling: “I said to myself, ‘They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no process. And they don’t have discipline. You must taste your words before you spit them out!’”
In late October 2017, almost three months after he resigned as chief of staff, Priebus met me for dinner at a posh but empty restaurant near the White House. Wearing a blazer, tieless, and without his usual American-flag pin, he had been off the radar and had given no extensive interviews since his abrupt departure six months into his job as Trump’s chief. Unlike his friend Sean Spicer, who had struggled to find employment after his turn as Trump’s disgraced White House spokesman, Priebus had landed back at his old Washington law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP—as president. He was drumming up paid engagements on the lecture circuit. And he was conferring frequently by phone with Donald J. Trump.
The president, Priebus said, speaks with him often on a phone that is unmonitored by John Kelly, who replaced him as Trump’s chief of staff—sometimes just to chat, sometimes for counsel. Trump often called Bannon too—at least before his excommunication following his comments in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury. Priebus insisted, contrary to Wolff’s description, that he never called Trump an “idiot.” In fact, for all the humiliation he endured, he said, “I still love the guy. I want him to be successful.” While visiting South Korea last November to give a speech, Priebus made a side trip to the demilitarized zone between South and North, and recommended to Trump that he go there during his Asia trip. (The president and his party tried but were forced to turn back due to bad weather.)
Even so, Priebus’s account of his tenure as Trump’s chief confirms the portrayal of a White House in disarray, riven by conflict. “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,” Priebus said as we sat down. Being White House chief had been even more arduous than it looked from the outside. “No president has ever had to deal with so much so fast: a special counsel and an investigation into Russia and then subpoenas immediately, the media insanity—not to mention we were pushing out executive orders at rec­ord pace and trying to repeal and replace Obama­care right out of the gate.” Priebus was nervous, repeatedly asking, “This is all off the record, right?” (He later agreed to be quoted.)
“People mistake me for a laid-back guy from the Midwest,” he continued. “I’m much more aggressive, and much more of a knife fighter. Playing the inside game is what I do.” Before Priebus, 45, accepted the job, he had had an impressive, if modest, track rec­ord. “I took the R.N.C. from oblivion,” he explained. “Our team raised a ton of money, built the biggest full-time political-party operation ever, ran two conventions, won more races than anyone else, and hit all the marks—without drama, mistakes, or infighting.”

At first, Priebus had been stung by the relentless criticism of his White House run and was especially sensitive to the brickbats hurled by the pundits. But with time he had understood where they came from—including a jab or two thrown by me during interviews on television news shows. “You got me real good one time on Fox,” he said. “My point is, I know what you were saying. You were saying that Trump needed someone in control, and that we had set up a weak structure. But you have to remember: the president was the Trump campaign. The R.N.C. was the organization—but he accomplished almost everything in his life by himself. The idea that he was suddenly going to accept an immediate and elaborate staff structure regulating every minute of his life was never in the cards.

“One of the things all [the chiefs] told me,” Priebus said, “was: don’t take the job unless you’re designated A number 1, in charge of everything, beginning to end.” All of that was right for a typical president, Priebus thought, but Trump wasn’t typical; he was one of a kind.
As it turned out, there was a moment on Election Night when it looked as though the chief’s job might go to Bannon, who eventually became Priebus’s ally in the West Wing. (Others would be considered as well.) But he didn’t look the part. “Trump looked around and I remember I had a combat jacket on and I hadn’t shaved in a week,” said Bannon, who spoke with me at length just before the release of Fire and Fury. “I had the greasy hair [hanging] down. . . . I’m the senior guy—but look, it was obvious Reince had to be chief of staff.” Priebus, however, would be chief in name only: Trump, instead, anointed Bannon as Priebus’s co-equal, with Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, getting top billing.

From the beginning, Priebus would face a challenge unique to this presidency: how to curb the commander in chief’s tweets. “We can get thrown off our message by tweeting things that aren’t the issues of the day,” he told Trump. At first Priebus thought he had succeeded in wresting Trump’s phone from him. “I talked about the security threat of having your own cell in the West Wing and got the Secret Service to go along with me to mothball his phone.” Priebus had managed to silence one device. But it turned out Trump had another.
Early on, the staff wrote daily tweets for him: “The team would give the president five or six tweets every day to choose from,” said Priebus, “and some of them would real­ly push the envelope. The idea would be at least they would be tweets that we could see and understand and control. But that didn’t allow the president to be fully in control of his own voice. Everybody tried at different times to cool down the Twitter habit—but no one could do it. . . . After [last year’s] joint session [of Congress] we all talked to him, and Melania said, ‘No tweeting.’ And he said, ‘O.K.—for the next few days.’ We had many discussions involving this issue. We had meetings in the residence. I couldn’t stop it. [But] it’s now part of the American culture and the American presidency. And you know what? In many ways, the president was right. And all of us so-called experts might be totally wrong.
“[Trump] is a man who fears no one and nothing,” continued Priebus, “and there is absolutely nothing he’s intimidated by. . . . And that’s very rare in politics. Most people in politics are people who have sort of an approval addiction. Now, granted, President Trump does too, but he’s willing to weather one storm after the next to get to an end result that most people are not willing to weather. . . . He doesn’t mind the craziness, the drama, or the difficulty, as long as an end goal is in sight. He will endure it.”
Soon after the inauguration, the president began to lash out wildly at members of the Justice Department who were poised to open probes into possible misconduct or overreach by members of his administration. On his 11th day in office, he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his controversial travel ban. Then Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District. Next up: F.B.I. director James Comey.
Priebus and White House counsel Donald McGahn tried to stall the freight train coming toward them, sensing that sacking Comey would be a fateful political mistake. But Jared Kushner supported Trump’s decision, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo—criticizing the F.B.I. director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation—gave Trump the pretext. On May 9, Trump fired Comey. It would trigger the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel and would prove to be among the most politically disastrous decisions since Richard Nixon fired Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.

“[White House counsel] Don McGahn said, ‘We’ve got a problem. . . . [Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’”
While Priebus and Bannon watched the fiasco explode as the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey’s firing. Bannon blew his stack. “There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,” he shouted at Kushner. “Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!”
The screaming matches and white-knuckle showdowns continued. Eight days later, Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel—a story he has not told publicly before. “Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, ‘We’ve got a problem.’ I responded, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.’ I said, ‘What!? What the hell are you talking about?’ ”
It was bad enough that Trump, having fired Comey, would now be the target of a special prosecutor. Even worse, unbeknownst to Priebus, the president, only moments before, had subjected Sessions to a withering tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an “idiot” and blaming Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Humiliated, Sessions said he would resign.
Priebus was incredulous: “I said, ‘That can’t happen.’” He bolted down the stairway to the West Wing parking lot. He found Sessions in the backseat of a black sedan, with the engine running. “I knocked on the door of the car, and Jeff was sitting there,” Priebus said, “and I just jumped in and shut the door, and I said, ‘Jeff, what’s going on?’ And then he told me that he was going to resign. I said, ‘You cannot resign. It’s not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.’ So I dragged him back up to my office from the car. [Vice President Mike] Pence and Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then and he would instead think about it.” Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed, he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.
In June, Trump was still on a tear. He considered dumping special counsel Mueller, according to The New York Times, but was dissuaded from doing so. And by July, Trump was back on Sessions’s case, tweeting insults and calling him “weak.” “Priebus was told to get Sessions’s resignation flat out,” said a White House insider. “The president told him, ‘Don’t give me any bullshit. Don’t try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions.’ ”
Once more, Priebus stalled Trump, recalled a White House insider. “He told the president, ‘If I get this resignation, you are in for a spiral of calamity that makes Comey look like a picnic.’ Rosenstein’s going to resign. [Associate Attorney General] Rachel Brand, the number three, will say, ‘Forget it. I’m not going to be involved with this.’ And it is going to be a total mess.” The president agreed to hold off. (Sessions didn’t comment on the resignation letter and last July publicly stated that he planned to stay on the job “as long as that is appropriate.” Brand, in fact, resigned this month.)
The Trump presidency’s first six months were the most incompetent and least accomplished in modern history. And its very survival was clouded by the gathering storm of the special prosecutor’s probe.
When it came to Mueller’s investigation, Priebus insisted he personally had nothing to worry about. But Bannon warned that the hounds had been loosed. “You’ve got Mueller’s team, which has got 19 killers who are all experts in wire fraud, money-laundering, and tax evasion,” Bannon said. “Doesn’t sound like collusion to me. But they’ve got unlimited budgets and subpoena power. And here’s what we’ve got on our side: two guys who’ve got legal pads and Post-Its.

Trump, Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, Bannon, onetime communications director Sean Spicer, and embattled national-security adviser Michael Flynn.
By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.
“It’s like [certain members of the administration think that] no one took down the Gambino family,” Bannon continued. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Former campaign manager Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates [Manafort’s deputy] is a made man! [George] Papadopoulos is equivalent to a wiseguy out in a social club in Brooklyn. This is like a Wagner opera. In the overture you get all the strands of the music you’re going to hear for three hours. Well, Mueller opened with a bang. He totally caught these guys by surprise. So if you’re not going to fight, you’re going to get rolled over.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign to eradicate Obamacare went nowhere. “Repeal and replace” crashed and burned—not once but twice, the second time when John McCain delivered a dramatic 1:30 a.m. thumbs-down on the Senate floor. The debacle proved that Priebus could not count—or deliver—votes. “When McCain voted against it,” Bannon recalled, “I said to myself, Reince is gone. This is going to be so bad. The president is going to get so lit up.”
Priebus soon became a target of Trump’s ritual belittling as the president took to referring to him as “Reincey.” At one point, he summoned Priebus—to swat a fly. Priebus seemed to have been willing to endure almost any indignity to stay in Trump’s favor. There was that scene right out of The Manchurian Candidate when, at a Cabinet meeting, the president’s most powerful advisers virtually competed to see who could be more obsequious; Priebus won hands down, declaring what a “blessing” it was to serve the president.
By the summer, however, Priebus knew that his job hung by a thread. According to insiders, he was already in the crosshairs of “Javanka/Jarvanka”—as Bannon would take to calling the president’s daughter and son-in-law—for refusing to help Kushner in his efforts to oust Bannon. And then came the last straw: the sudden arrival of a new, flamboyant communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. Priebus had opposed his hiring. Scaramucci immediately turned the West Wing into a circular firing squad, calling Trump’s chief of staff a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” in an interview with The New Yorker. He went on, in a tweet, to all but accuse Priebus of leaking classified information about Scaramucci’s finances (which were publicly available). “When he accused me of a felony,” recalled Priebus, “I thought, What am I doing here? . . . I went in to the president and said, ‘I gotta go.’ ” Trump would say nothing publicly in Priebus’s defense. The president accepted his resignation.
Priebus had hoped to exit gracefully within a week or two, but the next day, as Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American. . . . ” The sudden shake-up was vintage Trump; the timing blindsided Priebus, who stepped off the plane into a drenching rain and was whisked away by car.
John Kelly, a four-star Marine general who had run the Southern Command, was 22 years Priebus’s senior. At the start, he had the president’s full confidence and wasted no time transforming the West Wing into a tighter ship. All visitors to the Oval Office—including Bannon, Kushner, and even the president’s adviser-daughter, Ivanka—were now vetted by the chief. Kelly also started heaving loose cannons over the side: Scaramucci was fired within 72 hours of Kelly’s appointment; Sebastian Gorka, another overzealous White House staffer, would soon follow; even Bannon himself would be gone within a month. Kelly declared that he was not put on earth to manage the president; instead, he would impose discipline on the staff and streamline the flow of information to the Oval Office.
Still, expectations were high that Kelly would be the “grown-up in the room,” who would smooth over Trump’s authoritarian edges. And yet, week after week—during the president’s fulminations against “fake news,” his sympathetic comments toward white supremacists who marched through Charlottesville, his taunting of “Rocket Man” before the U.N. General Assembly, and his racist slurs against “shithole countries”—Kelly stood at Trump’s side. He not only reinforced the president’s worst instincts; he doubled down on them. He maligned Congresswoman Frederica Wilson from the White House Press Briefing Room with a false story after she criticized Trump’s handling of a Gold Star widow. In early February, the news broke that Kelly’s deputy Rob Porter—accused of beating both of his ex-wives (Porter denied the allegations)—had served in the sensitive post of staff secretary for more than a year without a permanent security clearance. The debacle surrounding his abrupt resignation showed that Kelly could not manage the West Wing, let alone Trump.
Suddenly Kelly’s future looked uncertain. And Priebus looked more effective in hindsight. “Reince was better than his press,” said Bannon. “If Reince had the exact track record that Kelly has, he would be deemed the worst chief of staff in the history of politics—and that’s not a slam on Kelly. . . . Folks felt [Priebus] didn’t have the gravitas. He’s always the little guy from Kenosha, right?”
Adapted from The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, by Chris Whipple, to be published in paperback on March 6, 2018, by Crown, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; © 2017, 2018 by the author

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I have concluded that our Resident is an absolute Zero! Governing and running a business are no where close to being the same or even in the zip code. His recent State of the Trump speech was measured and still very Trump and his hard line conservatives who in the guise of patriotism are taking us all to the cleaners. The rollbacks that will allow drilling in  National parks, off shore drilling which has the potential to kill seafood stocks and pollute the shore lines (remember the BP spill?). The safeties are off on worker protections which help workers avoid health issues from their hazardous occupations. The smoke and mirrors of this administration and the neer do well Congress will take years to correct and who knows how many lives could be lost in the repair process. It wise to remember that everything done in the name of conservatism seems to fall hard on the middle and lower class earners. These are the folks who so often need the services that are being cut or altered by the current administration. We should be aware of the old saw: “putting lipstick on a pig” when it comes to changing and repealing existing laws that are beneficial to the most vulnerable. The “deal maker’s” actions are following his standard method of operation which is to propose solutions that benefit him and not the other party. In these cases the other side are the lower and middle class Americans. I would suggest that you push your representatives strongly to start working for you instead of the party of their choice no matter what they try to tell you they are doing for you. This pig is still a pig no matter how much make up it has.  Cartoon below speaks volumes!

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Another disingenuous tweet from the Resident, considering we saw all of his signs and he was still elected. MA

Donald J. Trump


So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
6:12 AM – Feb 15, 2018

A case study in the political right’s capitulation to Trump, and the threat it poses to its political future.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Conor Friedersdorf Feb 13, 2018 Politics
Last month, Mollie Hemingway, the Fox News contributor and senior editor at The Federalist, declared herself a Donald Trump supporter for the first time. “I wasn’t a Trump supporter,” the headline of her Washington Post op-ed stated. “I am now.”
She cited his actions on judicial nominees, climate policy, regulatory reform, tax cuts, guidelines on how colleges should adjudicate sexual assault, and foreign policy.
Large swaths of the Republican Party and the conservative movement have now reconciled themselves to supporting President Trump, including figures far more famous, powerful, and influential than any journalist. A strong case could be made that this particular endorsement didn’t really change anything, especially since its author was already openly anti-anti-Trump in her orientation.
Still, if the GOP loses the ability to win elections during the next decade because its leadership has lost the trust of too many people in too many groups—Latinos, blacks, Asian Americans, Muslims, immigrants, anti-racists, anti-sexists, citizens who worry about the minimum civic virtues a republic requires to thrive—I will recall her endorsement as an illustration of how it happened.
None of the beliefs she affirmatively endorses is deplorable. Indeed, if all Americans were like Mollie Hemingway, neither racism nor sexism would be a problem in America. But it matters that thought-leaders like her no longer consider deplorability a dealbreaker. They can no longer be trusted to oppose racism or sexism. With a civic arsonist in the White House, they decline to summon the fire department.
In short, they have become irresponsible citizens.
Were Hemingway oblivious to Trump’s least defensible qualities, or the damage that his comportment does to America’s civic fabric—matters to which many enthusiastic Trump supporters are oblivious—her posture would be less damning. Who can blame someone for failing to oppose that which they don’t see?
But she saw his flaws clearly and chose to support him anyway.
It is one thing to vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils, or to do too little to oppose him. It is quite another to support and extol Trump, despite his deplorable behavior, because he has advanced a domestic agenda that accords with one’s policy preferences. “My expectations were low—so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Clinton,” Hemingway declared. “But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled. “Ponder what it means to be thrilled, knowing what she knows. Hemingway knows that Trump rose to power denigrating Muslims, praising authoritarians, and stoking violence at his campaign rallies. While criticizing Clinton, she acknowledged Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims is “extreme” and “also dangerous.” In office, Trump has retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda films posted by a far-right politician in Europe and imposed a travel ban targeted at Muslim countries that initially barred even existing visa holders from reentry. “The rollout was arbitrary and capricious,” Hemingway herself declared of that attempt at a travel ban, “and therefore a threat to the rule of law.”
Why would Muslim Americans, or anyone who values their own liberty, trust a coalition that recognizes Trump’s campaign-trail bigotry, elevates him anyway, sees his subsequent disregard for the rule of law, and still feels thrilled at his tenure?
Hemingway has written with clarity about Trump’s behavior on matters having to do with comportment, rather than policy, and their effect on American culture. “I fear the republic is lost,” she wrote after one of Trump’s debate performances. “We are an uneducated people that praise ignorance, celebrity, and entertainment over statesmanship. We are degenerates, immoral, and lost. We the people have not acted as those concerned about preserving the gift of self-government. The fraying fabric of society is putting the republic at risk.”
Hemingway also called Trump “a narcissist who takes no responsibility for the negative consequences of his ill-conceived and incoherent verbal spews.”
In office, Trump’s comportment has not changed. In fact, Hemingway’s recent declaration of support for him notes, “Like most people, I don’t particularly like Trump’s rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition—on full display in recent days.” But now that he has shown himself to advance a policy agenda more to her liking than she expected, his comportment and its consequences for the nation elicit a different reaction. “At the same time,” she declares, “having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.” As if lack of surprise makes it better!
“Yes, he lies or exaggerates. Yes, he insults people,” she once said on Fox News.
“Another great argument to deploy against Trump is that he plays fast and loose with the facts,” Hemingway wrote in the early days of his administration. “This is an easy argument to make because not only does everyone know this, they’ve known it for decades. There are hundreds of examples of his imprecision,” she added, “from claiming without evidence millions of fraudulent votes cast to a larger crowd size at his inauguration, to give two recent examples.”
Why would anyone who values the civic virtues necessary to preserve the republic trust those who cease to care that it is fraying, throwing support to a man they see as a lying, juvenile insult-monger so long as they’re getting their way?
Then there is Trump’s treatment of women.
When he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women during the 2016 campaign, Hemingway wrote, “None of it is particularly surprising for a man who spent decades bragging about his sexual prowess, adultery, handsiness, sexual entitlement, and so on and so forth. That this information is coming out is all so obvious that if you saw all these warning signs—and everyone saw these warning signs—and still supported Trump, you should look inward.” Will Hemingway now look inward the next time Trump mistreats a woman? Trump is “reprobate and immoral,” she wrote back then, adding that “he chose the wanton, unscrupulous lifestyle and bragged about it.”

Even during his presidency, she has referred to him as “known perv Trump.” What does it mean for her to write that one month and declare her unsolicited support the next?
It means that her standards have been corrupted.
These are just a fraction of Trump’s flaws—the subset openly acknowledged by Hemingway, who spends most of her time on Fox News and The Federalist attacking the left, the media, and matters that don’t touch on the president. While it is more than sufficient to illustrate that a leading voice on the right has grown comfortable vesting extreme power in a man whose abysmal character is clear to her, a more complete reckoning with what Trump has done goes farther toward clarifying why being tied to him puts the whole Red Tribe in peril.
It may be, for example, that Hemingway, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area and focuses on the culture war more than threats to liberty from police, does not devote a lot of thought to Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who Donald Trump pardoned.
But Americans who might be taken to be Mexican or Guatemalan or El Salvadoran by a passing cop may know that Arpaio presided over a law-enforcement agency that routinely violated the civil rights of people of Hispanic descent, including American citizens; that he was investigated by the Department of Justice, who declared that they found one of the worst patterns of racial profiling that they had ever seen; that he was ordered to stop violating the Constitution; that he continued to violate constitutional rights so flagrantly that he was convicted of criminal contempt of court; and that Trump pardoned him for that transgression.
If you were an American of Hispanic origin, would you trust this president or the people who enthusiastically support him to protect your constitutional rights?
That demographic had nothing to fear from Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush, but they’d be wise to fear a Trumpist coalition, and justified in supposing that a commentator like Hemingway would never volunteer support for a politician who treated Christians like her the way that Trump treats Mexicans and Muslims, regardless of what domestic agenda was being pursued.
Racism, sexism, and other bigotries will probably always exist in all of America’s major political coalitions. Misbehavior that undermines the civic fabric will never be eradicated, either. But in the past, most conservative pundits ensured that the Republican Party’s leadership rejected the bigoted pathologies that threaten to tear diverse, pluralistic societies apart. Today, many of the people who once would’ve kept deplorability in check opportunistically embrace a deplorable.
“The Trump nomination may result in principled conservatives leaving the party or laying very low,” Hemingway wrote in 2016, “but if this election has shown anything, it’s that principled conservatives aren’t in nearly as abundant supply as they might wish.” The Trump presidency is showing that principled conservatives are in even shorter supply than they seemed on election day. Like all winning coalitions, the American right is having a hard time imagining how fleeting its political ascendence will be, or the consequences its lack of principle will have in the long term. I expect that its moral failures will echo across American politics for years, undermining the right’s ability to credibly advance its best and worst alike.
When Trumpism ends, as every coalition built around a president must eventually end, will there be enough people on the right unsullied by his indefensible behavior to rebuild? As a fan of free markets and small government I fear not. I fear the right is discrediting itself for a generation, robbing America of the benefits of having two competing ideologies at their respective best.
In the long run, the right’s best hope lies in the shrinking faction of politicians and pundits that is happy to note when it favors a discrete policy pursued by the president, but that remains perspicacious enough to assert the overall posture of Never Trump.

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As I understand the current economical issues(?). The economy has been moving along at a snails pace (according to financial pundits and conservative GOP members). That is probably correct however looking at where it came from after the financial crash due to the mortgage crisis about 10 years ago, it is moving well. We have to remember that it take years for the economy to recover from a crisis like that. WE as people have become so entrenched in a “immediate gratification” mindset that we fall for any information from anyone who states that they can revive the economy and make things happen quick. I say beware of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” . The reality is that the last financial crisis took years to build and while many wealthier folks enjoyed success, many lower wage folks suffered and were devastated in the crash. The upswing or correction after several Government interventions brought us to a path of upwards growth albeit slow (or slower than we wanted -instant grats again). Now the tax reform or cuts have given the appearance that the economical policy of the current administration is producing a booming economy . The tax cuts gave corporations a 14% tax cut  which was used to give bonuses and wage increases, this looked like an improvement in the economy but isn’t. The problem is that these tax cuts/reforms will only work when overall spending is kept at a responsible level. Right now we are on a path of reckless economic responsibility. The recent budget will add Billions more to the 1.5 trillion deficit expected from the tax cut/ reform bill.MA

POLITICS 02/12/2018 06:22 pm ET

By Zach Carter, Arthur Delaney, and Igor Bobic

The budget document President Donald Trump released on Monday doesn’t really matter. It will have no effect on government spending or tax levels. It will not build bridges or defund public housing programs. Congress controls federal spending, not the president, and for the past several years lawmakers have jettisoned the formal budget process in favor of a series of backroom deals.
The president’s budget has thus become an elaborate Washington ritual in which an administration expresses its values and priorities in the technocratic jargon of modern bureaucracy. It’s an administration’s way of telling the public how it would govern if it didn’t have to work with Congress, and of demonstrating how much it cares about these proposals by working out in fine detail how much it all would cost.
Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t care very much about anything. The signature proposal, hyped ahead of the release as a $1.5 trillion program to rebuild America’s infrastructure, turns out to include just $200 billion in new spending ― offset by $240 billion in cuts to existing infrastructure programs, including the Highway Trust Fund, Amtrak and the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works initiatives.
The infrastructure plan is a good example of how Trump’s supposedly populist campaign has not translated into populist governance. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is a former member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which rabidly opposes spending on the social safety net.
“As a nation, we face difficult times – challenged by a crumbling infrastructure, growing deficits, rogue nations, and irresponsible Washington spending,” Mulvaney said in a statement on Sunday ― even though the budget doesn’t close deficits or un-crumble infrastructure.
Another budget bullet point ― seemingly making good on Trump’s campaign promise to end the opioid crisis ravaging America ― comes to just $1 billion a year, a pathetically low number for a national public health crisis. Trump’s boost to opioid spending accounts for less than 1.5 percent of the Department of Health and Human Services budget, which Trump would also slash by about 20 percent from last year’s level. By contrast, total defense spending would increase by about 25 percent over the course of the next decade. That’s real money, but it doesn’t tell us anything important about American military objectives in places like Afghanistan, Yemen or Niger.

Public education advocates are understandably angered by Trump’s call to cut overall federal education funding by $7.1 billion, while spending $1.1 billion on vouchers that families can use to pay for private school. But even this is a half-hearted measure. Trump has said he wants to spend $20 billion a year on the vouchers.
One area where the Trump administration showed some enthusiasm for policy innovation is in cracking down on food stamp recipients and their supposedly lavish and unhealthy diets. The budget would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ― the official program name for food stamps ― by about 25 percent, replacing a portion of beneficiaries’ monthly stipend with canned goods and other healthy food chosen by the government. The idea is almost unheard-of on Capitol Hill and has little chance of being taken seriously by the committee that oversees the program.
Trump would also eliminate all funding for public housing repairs ― a move that reflects general meanness about the lives of the poor, but only costs about $2 billion ― and eliminate $1 billion in Section 8 vouchers to help poor families pay rent.
About 40 million Americans live in poverty each year, according to U.S. census data, including about 3.2 million who live on less than $1.90 a day, every day, according to The World Bank.
Taken together, Trump’s budget reflects a strange bureaucratic nihilism. His budget proposal doesn’t balance ― not next year, or even over the traditional 10-year window, which would have allowed Trump to gimmick up the final years with spending cuts and various administrative fees that he had no intention of actually following through on. He’s accepting $900 billion-plus deficits every year until 2023, and substantial deficits through 2028. It’s not like he’s holding back from a big idea because he’s worried about the price tag. He just doesn’t care.

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Apparently the Resident has no idea of the future effects of poor fiscal policy in spite of the campaign rhetoric in 2015 & 2016 but given this past years activities, we should not be surprised. This administration is very much like the weather vane on top of a barn-subject to wind direction. MA.

Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

Associated Press 5 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is proposing a $4 trillion-plus budget for next year that projects a $1 trillion or so federal deficit and — unlike the plan he released last year — never comes close to promising a balanced federal ledger even after 10 years.
And that’s before last week’s $300 billion budget pact is added this year and next, showering both the Pentagon and domestic agencies with big increases.
The spending spree, along with last year’s tax cuts, has the deficit moving sharply higher with Republicans in control of Washington.
The original plan was for Trump’s new budget to slash domestic agencies even further than last year’s proposal, but instead it will land in Congress three days after he signed a two-year spending agreement that wholly rewrites both last year’s budget and the one to be released Monday.
The 2019 budget was originally designed to double down on last year’s proposals to slash foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency, home heating assistance and other nondefense programs funded by Congress each year.
“A lot of presidents’ budgets are ignored. But I would expect this one to be completely irrelevant and totally ignored,” said Jason Furman, a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. “In fact, Congress passed a law week that basically undid the budget before it was even submitted.”
In a preview of the 2019 budget, the White House on Sunday focused on Trump’s $1.5 trillion plan for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. He also will ask for a $13 billion increase over two years for opioid prevention, treatment and long-term recovery. A request of $23 billion for border security, including $18 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and money for more detention beds for detained immigrants, is part of the budget, too.
Trump would again spare Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare as he promised during the 2016 campaign. And while his plan would reprise last year’s attempt to scuttle the “Obamacare” health law and sharply cut back the Medicaid program for the elderly, poor and disabled, Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill have signaled there’s no interest in tackling hot-button health issues during an election year.
Instead, the new budget deal and last year’s tax cuts herald the return of trillion dollar-plus deficits. Last year, Trump’s budget predicted a $526 billion budget deficit for the 2019 fiscal year starting Oct. 1; instead, it’s set to easily exceed $1 trillion once the cost of the new spending pact and the tax cuts are added to Congressional Budget Office projections.
Mick Mulvaney, the former tea party congressman who runs the White House budget office, said Sunday that Trump’s new budget, if implemented, would tame the deficit over time.
“The budget does bend the trajectory down, it does move us back towards balance. It does get us away from trillion-dollar deficits,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Just because this deal was signed does not mean the future is written in stone. We do have a chance still to change the trajectory. And that is what the budget will show tomorrow,” he said.
Last year, Trump’s budget projected a slight surplus after a decade, but critics said it relied on an enormous accounting gimmick — double counting a 10-year, $2 trillion surge in revenues from the economic benefits of “tax reform.” Now that tax reform has passed, the math trick can’t be used, and the Trump plan doesn’t come close to balancing.
But critics are likely to say this year’s Trump plan, which promises 3 percent growth, continuing low inflation, and low interest yields on U.S. Treasury bills despite a flood of new borrowing, underestimates the mounting cost of financing the government’s $20 trillion-plus debt.
The White House is putting focus this year on Trump’s long-overdue plan to boost spending on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The plan would put up $200 billion in federal money over the next 10 years to leverage $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, relying on state and local governments and the private sector to contribute the bulk of the funding.
Critics contend the infrastructure plan will fail to reach its goals without more federal support. Proposals to streamline the permitting process as a way to reduce the cost of projects have already generated opposition from environmental groups.
Presidential budgets tend to reprise many of the same elements year after year. While details aren’t out yet, Trump’s budget is likely to curb crop insurance costs, cut student loan subsidies, reduce pension benefits for federal workers and cut food stamps, among other proposals.

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