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Ultimate Trump-Russia Timeline

Political Wire has put together a 118-page complete list of all the connections between Donald Trump and Russia. Included with every item is a link to the original news story. The list goes back thirty years, but the vast majority of the items are from after June, 2016 (which is when Christopher Steele’s report was created).

When confronted by the sheer volume of connections and considering how strenuously Trump has denied any connections, it seems completely obvious that something is going on. Unfortunately, it looks like we are dependent on Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to get to the bottom of this.


Worse than the CBO

Even before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with their analysis of the repeal of Obamacare, Trump and the Republicans started attacking the CBO. Congressman David Brat (R-VA) even said “CBO has scored everything wrong forever so they’re a minor concern.”

So even though the CBO is non-partisan and its director is a conservative economist appointed by Republicans, the Republicans said that they would prefer the numbers that would come out of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is totally partisan.

Ironically, the report from the OMB is out, and it is even worse than the report from the CBO. The CBO predicted that 24 million people would lose their health insurance, and the OMB raised that to 26 million people.

The Republicans then tried to claim that the OMB report was only trying to predict what the CBO was going to be. If that is so, why did Republicans announce that the OMB was going to come out with their own estimates for the repeal bill? They are totally trying to have it both ways.

Speaking of having it both ways, Trump (and other Republicans) have repeatedly said they they will deliver an alternative to Obamacare that will lower the cost while covering more people. Living in this Fantasyland worked while they were the opposition party, but now that they are in control, they have to confront harsh reality. It is almost enough to feel sorry for them.


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Jan. 31, 2017]

“Man, Donald Trump is busy these days, isn’t he? The guy’s been president for, what, six, seven days? And he’s already done 150 things that are pissing people off left and right.” – Conan O’Brien

“A psychologist at Johns Hopkins University says he believes that President Trump suffers from ‘malignant narcissism’. The condition is actually treatable, but unfortunately, Trump JUST missed the deadline for Obamacare.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I’ve been making a lot of jokes about this presidency becoming a reality show. I did not know the reality show would actually become a reality.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“We’re just 10 days in and it feels like it’s total chaos at the White House. This is supposed to be the honeymoon. How could Trump blow the honeymoon? He’s had three of them.” – Stephen Colbert

“January 31st is National Backward Day. Not to be confused with January 20th, which was Set the Nation Backward Day.” – James Corden

“Ikea has designed an emergency shelter that contains 68 components, and can be assembled in four hours. Unfortunately [shows photo of scowling Trump] we don’t have that kind of time.” – Seth Meyers

“Even people connected to Trump are taking some heat, like Disney CEO Bob Iger, who’s facing criticism for being part of a Trump advisory committee. Meanwhile, Aladdin has been stuck in customs at JFK since Saturday. You’d think he’d just take the carpet.” – Jimmy Fallon

“President Trump has nominated someone to serve on the Supreme Court. He was supposed to announce his pick on Thursday but then yesterday he tweeted that he’d made his decision and would announce it live tonight. This is the first time a Supreme Court nomination has ever interrupted an episode of ‘NCIS’.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Not only did the White House do everything they could to keep the nomination secret to build suspense, they brought in Trump’s final two choices, Judge Neil Gorsuch from Denver and Judge Thomas Hardiman from Pittsburgh, to see which one — that’s right, [Trump] Ryan Seacrested his choice for the Supreme Court. Like a two-on-one date on ‘The Bachelor’.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Trump’s SCOTUS nominee is federal judge Neil Gorsuch! No surprise he chose him. He is a strict constitutional originalist. That means he rules only as the Founding Fathers intended in cases like ‘Marbury v. Electricity Is the Devil’s Magic’ and ‘The People v. Slavery Is Cool, Right?'” – Stephen Colbert

“You know who it was a surprise for? The guy who drove all the way out from Pittsburgh to not get picked as Supreme Court judge.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“President Trump, as you know, believes he would have won the popular vote had there not been what he says are 3 million to 5 million illegal votes cast. The expert whose work Trump cites as evidence of this is a guy named Greg G Phillips, who according to the Associated Press is registered to vote in three states.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“He’s registered to vote in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. You know the saying, in order to stop voter fraud, you have to be willing to commit voter fraud. Maybe he’s going undercover.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Right or wrong, Trump’s immigration ban has been a PR disaster, with heartbreaking stories like the 5-year-old boy who was detained for more than four hours and reportedly handcuffed. AND he’s a U.S. citizen!” – Stephen Colbert

“Now this sounds bad, but yesterday White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the detainment [plays clip of Spicer]: ‘To assume that just because of someone’s age, or gender, or whatever, that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong.’ Yeah, NOT handcuffing a child is a security risk. We all know kids go through stages — you’ve got the terrible twos, the fatwa fives, it’s absolutely terrifying.” – Stephen Colbert

“Donald Trump now says that this week he will allow 872 refugees into the United States; 872. Trump says the immigrants will arrive on Friday and start their modeling careers on Monday.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump says he wants to speed up the FDA’s drug approval process. Trump said, ‘With what I’ve got planned, America’s going to need all the drugs it can get.'” – Conan O’Brien

“President Trump today met with executives from the pharmaceutical industry, and they once again explained to him that there’s no such thing as Viagra for your hands.” – Seth Meyers

“Do you think Donald Trump is happy to see his wife eating diamonds on the cover of ‘Vanity Fair’? Or mad because they put his quote in Spanish? And if it’s in Spanish, does that mean they had to translate Trump’s original quote from Russian?” – Seth Meyers

“The one [staffer] I believe will be leaving first — mark my words, for whatever reason they give, he will be seeking other opportunities by the end of the year — is press secretary Sean Spicer. He is the guy who every day has to get up in front of his colleagues, a room full of reporters who he used to be friends with, to attempt to explain what the hell is going on.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“We’re just five days away from Super Bowl 51! And a new poll finds that the majority of Americans want the Atlanta Falcons to win. But lately we’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter what the majority of Americans want.” – Jimmy Fallon

“In Massachusetts, federal agents charged a man for money laundering after they found that he had been keeping $20 million under his mattress. Or as we’ll call it after a few years of Trump’s fiscal policy, ‘a bank’.” – James Corden

“Thirty-one pounds of cocaine have been found hidden in the nose of an American Airlines jet. Authorities became suspicious when the plane flew from Miami to New York in 16 minutes.” – Conan O’Brien

“Starbucks and Amazon are partnering to make it possible for Alexa to place your coffee order for you. All you have to do is use the simple voice command, ‘Alexa, I’m pathetic’.” – Conan O’Brien

“There was a crazy story out of Venezuela. A 25-year-old woman was arrested after attempting to break her boyfriend out of prison by smuggling him in a suitcase. The warden said it was an ‘open-and-can’t-quite-get-it-shut case’.” – James Corden

“Honestly, that’s just impressive. Don’t put that guy in prison. Put him in Cirque du Soleil! But prison officials were not amused, and they sentenced him to 10 years of solitary confinement in a fanny pack.” – James Corden

“According to a new poll, Chris Christie currently has the lowest approval rating for any governor in any state, in over 20 years. ‘Wow’ said former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich from prison.” – Seth Meyers


Leaker Trump Condemns Leaks

When I read the news yesterday that two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return were sent to reporter David Cay Johnston and shown on Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC, I immediately wondered if this was a false flag operation. The whole thing was just too contrived. Especially when the White House immediately verified the authenticity of the leak, and bragged about how much Trump had paid in taxes. And why just two pages? If this was a real leak, where are the rest of the pages, which might show to whom Trump owes money (perhaps some Russians?).

Apparently, I was not the first person to think this.

Even Johnston suspected as much, saying to Maddow, “It’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me. Donald Trump has over the years leaked all sorts of things. … Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest.” We all know that Trump frequently posed as his own publicist.

Trump’s comments about leaks have always been hypocritical. Just a few weeks ago, Trump called for a criminal investigation into all the leaks coming from his administration, blaming “political sabotage” by Democratic anti-Trump bureaucrats.

But during the campaign, Trump announced “I love WikiLeaks” because they were leaking internal emails from the Democratic party that helped him. But once he became president, he started attacking leakers again.

UPDATE: Trump condemns the leak of the tax return as “fake news” after the White House verified that the return is authentic. Maybe the “fake” part is the leak — because Trump knows that he leaked his own tax return?


Russian to Judgement

© Tom Tomorrow

Concerns about an email server seem almost quaint now, don’t they?

But what is missing from this comic is Trump’s cozying up to the Russians, which the Republican-controlled Congress refuses to investigate. Here’s a timeline presenting Everything We Know About Trumpland’s Ties To Russia. It is so amazingly full of smoking guns, misinformation and lies (including under oath), that Reagan would be spinning in his grave. But of course, Russia was Reagan’s bogeyman, while for Trump it is Muslims and immigrants. Haters gotta hate, and Gorbachev seems like such a pussycat compared to Putin. But Trump’s racism almost makes you nostalgic for Reagan’s red baiting.

Just the connections between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian intelligence would be worthy of a full Benghazi-style hearing.

But if you read just one article about the evidence connecting Trump with Putin, let it be this one by Nicholas Kristof, who lays out the “dots” and then dares you to either connect them or try to deny that they are not connected. Far too many people in the Trump administration are telling obvious lies about their connections to Russia for this to just be a simple coincidence.

Are Trump’s tweets, constitutional crises, lies, and general chaos just a smokescreen to take our attention away from something far more nefarious? Stay tuned.


Healthy Questions?

Monday, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) report on the Republican health care bill came out, and it was even harsher than I expected. The CBO says that the new bill will increase the number of uninsured by 86%. Donald Trump promised that no Americans would lose coverage.

In fact, the Republican bill is so bad, it will make things worse than before Obamacare. In the first year alone, the number of people without health insurance will increase by 14 million. Not only that, but premiums for the people who still have insurance will increase (on average) 15 to 20 percent. The individual market and older people will see the largest increases.

The only “good” news from the CBO is that the new bill will decrease the deficit, but only because it will severely cut Medicaid, reducing enrollment by 14 million unlucky people. Some of that savings will reduce the deficit, but the rest will go into tax cuts for the wealthy. Of course, that savings is a mirage, because as we know these people will still get sick, and will end up in emergency rooms (which are required to treat anyone regardless of ability to pay). So in the end, we will pay for that too in the form of higher hospital charges to make up for the shortfall.

I’m guessing the Republicans knew this report was going to be bad, because they have been falling over each other trying to discredit the CBO. They couldn’t really attack the CBO as being partisan, because Republicans appointed its director in 2015.

Instead, Republicans attacked the CBO’s accuracy, complaining that the CBO projected in 2010 that the ACA would reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 30 million, but so far only 22 million have gained insurance under the bill. What the GOP conveniently forget to mention is that two years after the bill was passed, 21 Republican-led states refused to expand Medicaid. That deliberate sabotage was the major cause of the shortfall.

Predicting the future is difficult, but even so, experts have studied the CBO and found their projections to be sound. Between 1983 and 2014, the CBO’s two-year revenue forecasts were only off by 1.1%, which is pretty darn accurate. Five-year forecasts were only off by 5.3%, which is amazing.

But arguing over the absolute accuracy of the CBO is arguing over the wrong question. The more important question is whether the CBO projection was more accurate than the predictions of gloom and doom spewed out by the Republicans. Remember all the warnings about “death panels”, and how Obamacare would destroy our economy? Indeed, Donald Trump is now bragging about the economy that Obamacare was supposed to have destroyed.

© Jen Sorensen


Insurance for the Insurer

A few days ago, Anthem (the second largest US health insurance company) came out in favor of the Republican bill repealing major parts of the ACA. This surprised me, because both of the major trade associations representing health insurance companies came out strongly against that bill, and yet here was a major insurer singing its praises. What gives?

Well, it didn’t take long for an explanation to appear. It turns out that Anthem is trying to get federal approval so that it can acquire competitor Cigna. So far, the government has put together a strong case that the proposed merger will produce significant market concentration and reduce competition. But that was before the Republicans took over the government.

So this is now how things work. Companies kiss up to Donald Trump and the Republicans, and in exchange they get to do an end-run around monopoly laws and competition. Maybe Anthem will throw in some nice campaign contributions as icing on their cake. And of course, you know who will be the loser in all this. Right?


Getting the Hell out of Dodge

In the TV show “Gunsmoke” the bad guys were often ordered to “get the hell out of Dodge” — a reference to Dodge City, Kansas. Well, it looks like somebody has told that to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. The word is out that Brownback is not only leaving the state, but leaving the country as he takes a job in Rome as the UN ambassador for food and agriculture.

This blog has reported on Brownback repeatedly over the years after (with funding from the Koch brothers, whose headquarters is in Topeka) he was elected governor. The Republicans took over every branch of the state government and even kicked out any moderate republicans. They then realized their conservative wet dream, launching a self-described right-wing experiment. They cut taxes dramatically for the rich, eliminated income taxes, and switched the state to regressive consumption (sales) taxes. They cut funding drastically for education and social services.

Browback promised “enormous prosperity” for Kansas, but their economy did far worse than every nearby state. The economy of the state cratered, and they ran up huge deficits. Jobs fled the state so much that unemployment went up while it was going down everywhere else. The state’s credit rating was downgraded, twice.

Brownback’s response? The state doubled down and cut taxes and services even more.

Hilariously, when Brownback was elected he set up an economic council that was supposed to hold him accountable using rigorous performance metrics, but things went so bad that he canceled it. Brownback received the dubious honor of becoming the least popular governor in the US. But he brushed off his terrible approval ratings, blaming the media for why his policies are so unpopular.

So now it looks like he is jumping ship. Despite Brownback’s failed policies, he publicly urged Trump to replicate what he did in Kansas on a national scale. I guess Trump decided that Brownback was such a loser that a better idea was to get him the hell out of Kansas.


Ivanka is … Complicit

The Atlantic magazine has a good discussion of this sketch.



The Washington Post lists 19 times that Donald Trump declared that the government unemployment numbers are fake. Starting in Sept 2012, when he called them “phony numbers”, and then a month later when he called them “a complete fraud”. In 2014, he said “Unemployment is a totally phony number.”

A year later Trump graced us with his own, personal numbers: “Our real unemployment is anywhere from 18 to 20 percent. Don’t believe the 5.6. Don’t believe it.” Just two months after that, his numbers doubled: “Then you hear there’s a 5.4 percent unemployment. It’s really — if you add it up, it’s probably 40 percent if you think about it.” Just over two weeks later, it had somehow gone up to 42 percent. He also said “It is not a real economy. It is a phony set of numbers. They cooked the books.”

In 2016 he gave a prescient pronouncement, saying “You hear a 5 percent unemployment rate. It’s such a phony number. That number was put in for presidents and for politicians so that they look good to the people.” and “The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.” And finally in December, after he won the election he still maintained “The unemployment number, as you know, is totally fiction.” At the time, the unemployment rate was 4.8%.

But all that has changed. After Trump’s first full month in office, the US added 235,000 jobs, bringing unemployment down slightly to 4.7%. And Donald Trump is happy to take all the credit. At the news, he tweeted “GREAT AGAIN” and “Great news. We are only just beginning. Together, we are going to #MAGA!”, with a link to the jobs report.

I guess he believes in the jobs report now. I wonder what his response will be the next time unemployment goes up?


Twelve Dimensional Chess!

© Matt Bors

Given that Trump has offered no evidence or explanation for his accusation that Obama wiretapped him, this is as good an explanation as any!

My only question is, how did Obama fake Osama Bin Laden’s death?



The word is out that the NY Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is looking into Donald Trump’s violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution (the clause that says that the president may not receive gifts or other personal favors from foreign governments). To do this, they need public support. Apparently, in this case it doesn’t matter whether you live in New York state, you just have to be an American.

If you want to do this, you can contact them by phone at 212-416-6218 or send email to (you can do both for added impact). You don’t need a long message, just ask them to investigate Trump’s possible violations of the Emoluments Clause.

UPDATE: For more information on how this could work see this article Trump can be held accountable for violating the Constitution, even if Congress doesn’t care.


Dump Truck

© Kevin Kallaugher

On Tuesday, a man named Charles C.W. Cooke tweeted “I’ve yet to read a single positive analysis of the House’s Obamacare bill.”

A woman responded by chastising him for being so liberal, tweeting “Try going 2 a conservative source? Open up your reading habits 2 include those w/ whom u would naturally dismiss”

The man responded “I’m the editor of National Review Online.” Which he is.

Other tweets wonder if she even knows what the National Review is, or that William F. Buckley Jr. founded it, or even who he is.

And that is what we have sunk to — people assuming that anyone who disagrees with them is woefully misinformed. Or, in this case, assuming that anyone who says anything negative about something done by Trump or the Republicans is an ignorant liberal.


Rush Job?

Republicans are trying to ram their Obamacare replacement bill down the throat of Congress as quickly as possible. The bill was only introduced on Monday, and already the House Ways and Means committee was kept up until 4am (that’s 18 hours) so they could approve the bill. Which they did, even though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) hasn’t even scored the bill. Very strange!

Why are they in such a rush? One big reason is because they don’t want anyone looking at the bill too closely. It is likely that the CBO will discover that the new bill will cause around 10 million people to lose their health insurance, while at the same time costing more money than Obamacare and also increasing the deficit. That’s supposed to be an improvement?

Another reason is to get the bill passed before the opposition can get organized. How’s that working out for them? It is only Thursday, but already the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the US Catholic Health Association, the Children’s Hospital Association, and the AARP (American Association of Retired People) have come out against the new bill. The AARP is even running a TV ad against it.

It seems like the only significant organizations that are for the bill are the US Chamber of Commerce and Grover Norquist’s anti-tax group, the Americans for Tax Reform. They like it because it offers large tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, which caused a Democratic Congressman to ask “Is this health care, or is this a tax-cut bill?”

Even conservatives don’t like the bill, which they are dubbing Obamacare 2.0 or Obamacare Lite. Surprisingly, even Breitbart News, formerly run by “President Bannon”, attacked the bill.

Even press secretary Sean Spicer is having problems defending the bill. Spicer is claiming that the bill is a “full repeal of Obamacare”. When a Breitbart reporter responded to him that it was hardly a full repeal, Spicer said “I don’t care”.

Also attacking the bill are conservative commentators Laura Ingraham, who complained that the bill doesn’t increase “transparency in pricing” or “competition across state lines”, and by Ann Coulter, who remarked “Who wrote this piece of crap Obamacare replacement bill?”. The bill was even attacked by Fox News, with host Eric Bolling noting “You’ve had six years to come up with a replacement. Fix it!”

Even Donald Trump doesn’t seem sure about the bill. Even though Trump officially supports the bill, he seems to be hedging his bets already. In a White House meeting with conservative groups, he told them that if the bill doesn’t pass, then Plan B is to let Obamacare fail and blame it on the Democrats. The only problem with this is that Obamacare isn’t actually in any danger of failing unless Republicans find some way to purposely sabotage it, in which case it would be obviously hypocritical of them to try to blame it on Democrats.


Reality Suppression for Drugs

To me, the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath should instantly disqualify him from being our nation’s top law enforcement official.

But here’s another reason to get rid of him.

Sessions is on record against medical marijuana. At a conference last week, Sessions said:

I see a line in The Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s, “Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.” Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to just — almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove I’m wrong.

The problem with this is that Sessions is in favor of keeping marijuana classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means that the government says that it has no medically accepted use. As a result, it is extremely difficult for science to do any actual studies on marijuana. It takes years, or in some cases more than a decade, to get the required federal approvals.

So Sessions is being disingenuous when he says that maybe science will prove him wrong, because he won’t let science even do their job.

But while there have been almost no controlled medical studies on marijuana, there is plenty of evidence that Sessions is totally wrong.

In 2015, opioid pain killers did more than kill pain. They killed 33,000 people. That is an epidemic.

Opioids are commonly prescribed for chronic pain, and there is strong evidence that marijuana is effective in controlling chronic pain.

States that have legalized medical marijuana see (on average) 25% fewer deaths from opiate overdose deaths. States with medical marijuana dispensaries see a 15 to 35% decrease in overdose deaths, and similar reductions in admissions to substance abuse treatment centers. So marijuana is less dangerous than current prescription pain killers for treating chronic pain.

As a side benefit, after a state passes a medical marijuana law, there are fewer fatal car crashes where the driver tests positive for opioids.

And most importantly, prescriptions for painkillers drop in medical marijuana states. Patients who use marijuana are 64% less likely to use opiates, and are more likely to say they have a good quality of life and less likely to report negative side effects from their medications.

If Sessions were to say that he would make it easier for studies to be done on the use of marijuana to control pain, and would then accept the results of those studies to decide whether to legalize the medical use of marijuana at the federal level, then I might believe him. As it is, he makes it abundantly clear that he has already made up his mind, without looking at any evidence.

But Sessions’ statement should not be a surprise to anyone. Marijuana was listed as a controlled substance back when it was primarily used by African Americans, and was done for racist reasons. Sessions has ties to white supremacists and his legislative record shows that he is racist. His opposition to medical marijuana is just another example.