The Senate’s tax bill was written by lobbyists, and was hardly read by lawmakers. About 2 pm Friday afternoon, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tweeted a list of Manager’s Amendments she’d received from a lobbyist rather than from her Republican colleagues. From McCaskill:
None of us have seen this list, but lobbyists have it.
Republicans just took 200 years of Constitutional process and trashed it so they could tell their constituents corporate benefactors that they had passed something this year.
That doesn’t seem to be the right way to do things, but the GOP no longer trusts that its ideas will carry the day if they are put under scrutiny and debate. Presuming this dog’s breakfast gets through conference, six months from now, the Republican leadership will be standing at a podium, looking very concerned. They will say America needs immediate reforms to Social Security and Medicare (please don’t say “entitlements”) in order to reduce America’s out-of-control deficits. Rubio and a few other high-ranking Republicans have openly said that this is their plan.
Here is a handy chart from the CBO on how the tax cuts for individuals break down:
David Stockman notes that 97% of the $1.412 trillionrevenue loss over the next decade, based on the Senate bill, is attributable to the $1.369 trillioncost of cutting the corporate rate from 35% to 20% (along with the repeal of the related AMT).
All the rest of the tax bill is a zero-sum stirring of the pot. Of note, $83 billionof the tax cuts go to the estates of 5,500 dead people per year, since the bill doubles the estate deduction to $20 million per couple.
But they did all of this to help the little guy, amirite? On to cartoons. More than the tax bill happened last week, so let’s review: Flynn and Manafort. House of cards?
Flynn has fans everywhere:
Trump Code-talks too:
Santa uncovers some nasty stuff:
Roy Moore says what he means, and means what he says:
How did we get here? Trump can’t stop tweeting, and we can’t stop reacting. Trump met with the New York Times, and the results as reported, leave you thinking: “is this guy a 15 year-old?” Then on Saturday morning before 7am, he engages in a tweet storm, saying among other things,
So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?
Or, this one:
My son Donald openly gave his e-mails to the media & authorities whereas Crooked Hillary Clinton deleted (& acid washed) her 33,000 e-mails!
He’s referring to software called “BleachBit“. Why does he keep on referring to it as “acid washing”? Bleach is an alkaline, not an acid. Trump must have slept through high school chemistry.
And how does somebody make it through elementary school without learning that the best outcome you can expect with “Hillary did it, too!” is for Hillary to join you in detention?
Aren’t private schools supposed to be better at teaching that actions have consequences?
Anyway, on to cartoons. Trump and OJ may have something in common:
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction…and the distinction between true and false…no longer exist.― Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism”
Public Policy Polling (PPP) has a new poll that among other issues, shows how Trump voters feel about the Donald Trump Jr.’s participation in the Trump/Russia election thingy: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)
Only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton…even though Trump Jr. admitted it. 32% say the meeting didn’t happen and 24% say they’re not sure.
And, just as many Republicans believed Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of a DC pizza parlor.
If you look at the percentage of Americans who believe in things like creationism, ghosts and angels, you’ll wonder why these Republicans are allowed to cut their own meat.
A decent number of the people who said they didn’t believe Jr. met with the Russians must know the truth. Since Jr. admitted to the meeting, and even Fox News covered it, how could a third of Republicans surveyed think the meeting didn’t happen? Maybe they think a Russian lawyer and a few other Russians attending a meeting in Trump Tower doesn’t equal “The Russians“.
And broadening the context, the PPP survey question answers are similar to when pollsters asked Republicans whether Obama was born in the US. Pollsters continued to ask that well after his birth certificate was released. After the release, birther belief among Republicans dropped from the mid-40%s to the mid-30%s, but, a year later is returned to the mid-40%s.
One of the central challenges of understanding the Republican mind is that when they answer questions like the Don Jr. in a non-factual way, they exist in at least two camps. First, the true believers, who won’t believe their lying eyes, and will just trust their guy through thick or thin.
The second group sees politics and political discourse as a game played mostly to annoy Democrats. This second category isn’t even necessarily any more informed or self-aware than the first, but they pay more attention to learning what will make Democrats angry. Then they go there.
We can’t discount the extent that conservative media obfuscates things that are generally admitted elsewhere. There probably is a certain segment of Republicans who really don’t believe Jr. met with Russians, because they’ve heard the disinformation frequently enough to allow them to reach that conclusion.
And some people simply believe ridiculous things.
The PPP poll question indicates to us the lower limit of partisan reasoning. No one contests that this meeting took place, but 32% of respondents say it didn’t happen. Poll questions are normally more opinion-based, and may not have a demonstrably “correct” answer. So it’s worth seeing the extent of motivated answering on this question.
The nice thing about false facts is they can be designed for maximum effect. They can be more self-reinforcing and convincing than actual facts. The world is a messy place, so if you present a picture that is artificially clarified and internally consistent, a big subset of humanity will buy it whole-heartedly.
Public Policy Polling’s disclosure about the survey:
PPP surveyed 836 registered voters from July 14th to 17th. The margin of error is +/- 3.4%. While 80% of participants, selected through a list based sample, responded via the phone, 20% of respondents who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the internet through an opt-in internet panel.
On to music. Here is Icelandic indie folk/indie pop rock band, Of Monsters and Men, performing “Little Talks” live at the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik during Iceland Airwaves, recorded in October 2011:
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right.
Your mind is playing tricks on you my dear
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Trump just returned from France. French President Macron apparently became the “Trump Whisperer” while escorting His Orangeness around Paris, because nothing terrible happened. Trump returned to the incessant talk about who attended Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russians, what was discussed, and what Trump Sr. knew about it all. OTOH, Mitch McConnell tried to breathe new life into the GOP Health Insurance Plan.
Replacing Obamacare still is looking mean:
One insurance option that never made it into the bill:
Putin said he would help Donny find the hackers:
People talk about the uncanny resemblance between Sr. and Jr.:
Pundits were all over the tube and Twitter after the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg Germany. They were yelling into the echo chamber, speaking about handshakes, the body language of the principals, and what the deeper meaning of each told us about the meeting.
What did it mean that Trump didn’t body-slam Putin about Crimea or US election meddling? What did it mean when they spoke for two and a quarter hours when the meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes?
Wrongo is glad that these two world leaders took the time, and then some, to talk to each other. He hopes they do so regularly. The world isn’t a better place when they are not talking, despite what pundits or politicians say.
On to cartoons. Trump is unaware of the irony in what he sometimes says:
The GOP is still searching for a health care bill that they can pass:
Hobby Lobby proves their true values aren’t truly Christian:
The Donny/Vlad meeting included chemistry:
The Donny/Vlad meeting included really tough talk:
Wrongo has read much of the evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 US Presidential election. He has watched House and Senate committees ask the intelligence community and the Justice Department what is known and not known about the Russian hacking story.
It is clear that the Russians have extremely capable cyber technicians. They have a pragmatic view about getting what they need strategically, so it is both feasible and possible that they could have been disruptive to our democratic process.
But is there actual evidence that Russia interfered in our elections in 2016? And if they did, is there evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with them? The answer so far is summed up by Caitlin Johnstone:
Russiagate is like a mirage: from a distance it looks like something, but once you move in for a closer look, there’s nothing there. Nothing. Nothing solid, nothing substantial, nothing you can point at and say, “Here it is. This hard evidence justifies saturating the media waves with obsessive 24/7 coverage, escalating tensions with a nuclear superpower, stagnating political discourse in America and fanning the flames of a hysterical, xenophobic McCarthyist feeding frenzy.”
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.
Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.
We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.
Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.”
The assessment says Russia did three basic things to “influence” the Presidential election. First, the NSA, CIA and, to a lesser extent, the FBI, believed that the Russians hacked into the DNC and John Podesta emails, then passed that content to WikiLeaks and DC Leaks, who subsequently published the information. Second, the Russians supposedly obtained access to “elements” (undefined) of US state or local electoral boards. Third, Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik News, put out Kremlin friendly messages.
There is no evidence backing up the claim that the Russian intelligence service hacked the DNC and Podesta that has been presented to the American people. The FBI did not conduct a forensic examination of the computers of either the DNC or of Podesta. The belief that the Russians did it is based on an independent firm, Crowdstrike’s examination of the DNC emails. Moreover, the release of Podesta’s emails had little to no effect on the election, while the Comey on-and-off-and on again investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails were certainly damaging to her electoral chances.
The larger point is that Democrats have convinced themselves that getting rid of Trump justifies throwing pasta (or any other sticky substance) at the wall to see what sticks. And that is what is happening with the “all Russia, all the time” hearings in the House and Senate.
An important subtext to this whole Russian conspiracy theory is the insistence that the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin to sabotage Hillary’s campaign. That is repeated endlessly on the cable channels, and has become an article of faith to many Americans, especially Democrats. But, a few meetings do not create collusion. Possibly the intelligence community has some proof, but it has not been presented in a form that inspires credibility.
About a month ago, the DOJ appointed a Special Counsel to ferret out what is real from what is fake in the allegations about Russiagate, from hacks to collusion.
Let’s hope that he gets to the bottom of the story.
In the meantime, stay focused on the potential damage that Messrs. Trump, McConnell and Ryan are trying to do, from the gutting of Dodd-Frank to passing an Obamacare replacement that hurts many Americans.
Now for a tune. The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” was released in 1968. It was intended to be a parody of “Back in the USA” by the Beach Boys. The song shocked many at the time for its pro-Soviet message. Years later, Paul McCartney stated he knew very little about the Soviet Union when he wrote the song. Here is McCartney doing the song live in Moscow’s Red Square:
Note Putin vaguely rocking @ 0:14
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Re: The Trump severed head “joke”: Kathy Griffin isn’t funny, and this wasn’t a joke. Here’s the problem with what Griffin did: A joke has to be funny, and this simply wasn’t. The only message you can take from her severed Trump head photo is: “look at me, I’m Kathy Griffin!” Griffin is getting what she deserves for putting her desire for attention ahead of everything else.
Yes, she has the right to produce the image, but that doesn’t mean it has to be accepted by the rest of us. If you mimic what ISIS does to their victims, you deserve to lose your job on CNN. She needs to grow up; CNN did the right thing.
On to cartoons. Quite the week for climate change drama. Trump’s action on Paris could have been inspired by the Saudi sword dance, but it is it different than Griffin’s?
Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. Trump lost Pittsburgh to Clinton, and Pittsburg’s mayor says the city will follow the Paris Accords. But, in Trump speak:
Trump seems intent on completely eradicating the Obama legacy:
The news about back-channel communications with Russia leads to Jared Kushner:
The medicine in Trumpcare II is no better than in Trumpcare I:
(Wrongo and Ms. Oh So Right are heading to Europe today. We will be gone for 10 days, so blogging may be sparse. Please keep America great while we are away.)
Happy Mother’s Day to all. A few more thoughts about BLOTUS (Big Liar of the US): Not only does he have the worst approval ratings of any president at this point in his term, but he’s also incapable of moving the needle of public opinion toward his positions. Ironically, for all of Trump’s sycophants’ talk that Trump’s words ARE his actions, his tweets and public pronouncements are making his positions more unpopular.