Trump Doesn’t Give a Dam – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Donald Trump doesn’t give a dam. Or a bridge. Or a road. Or a sewer system. Or any of the other things we talk about when we talk about infrastructure.But how can that be when he just announced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan? That’s easy: It’s not a plan, it’s a scam. The $1.5 trillion number is just made up; he’s only proposing federal spending of $200 billion, which is somehow supposed to magically induce a vastly bigger overall increase in infrastructure investment, mainly paid for either by state and local governments (which are not exactly rolling in cash, but whatever) or by the private sector.

And even the $200 billion is essentially fraudulent: The budget proposal announced the same day doesn’t just impose savage cuts on the poor, it includes sharp cuts for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and other agencies that would be crucially involved in any real infrastructure plan. Realistically, Trump’s offer on infrastructure is this: nothing.”

Yes, yes, yes. Here is the most recommended comment, which I liked:

Socrates is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona. NJ 19 hours ago

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says the US needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 in the nation’s infrastructure, according to its Infrastructure Report Card.

The ASCE gave the America’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+.

The ASCE says that the current low level of government investment makes trillions in GDP losses and job losses inevitable due to America’s 3rd world infrastructure.

America’s infrastructure grades:

Aviation: D
Bridges: C+
Dams: D
Drinking Water: D
Energy: D+
Hazardous Waste: D+
Inland Waterways: D
Levees: D
Parks and Recreation: D+
Ports: C+
Rail: B
Roads: D
Schools: D
Solid Waste: C+
Transit: D-
Wastewater: D+

America is a D student when it comes to infrastructure, and as a reminder for our dumb, deplorable Donald, infrastructure costs real dollars, not fake dollars.

In Donald’s defense, he’s probably confused, because he’s used to stiffing contractors and people – not paying them – so he underestimated the real cost by a trillion or two….an honest crook’s mistake.

Of course just over a month ago, we had an extra $1.5 trillion to spend on infrastructure, BUT there was an urgent emergency renovation of the giant levee systems in 50,000 of the country’s millionaire/billionaire bank accounts that required immediate attention and a rapid response.

Infrastructure represents the common good: Donald Trump and Greed Over People will be having none of that.

Three cheers for Dumb D+onald.

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“As public scrutiny exposes deep flaws in the memo from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, about alleged F.B.I. surveillance abuses, the committee’s Republicans are increasingly downplaying its significance. Mr. Nunes’s colleagues are right to seek some distance from this caper — not to mention other similar memos he has hinted at releasing. That’s because by writing and releasing the memo, the chairman may just have landed himself, and his staff members, in the middle of Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.

This risk emerged when Repesentative Mike Quigley, a Democrat on the committee, asked Mr. Nunes whether he or his staff coordinated the memo with the White House. Mr. Nunes said he had not — but refused to answer the same question about his staff. Facing a second round of questions on this issue during a committee meeting last week, Mr. Nunes again demurred, except to read a narrow statement that the White House was not involved in the actual drafting.In additional comments to the press, the committee staff director noted the memo was a “‘team effort’ that involved investigators who had access to source material.”

Trump’s Worst Watcher – by Gail Collins – NYT

“Do you remember back when everybody thought John Kelly was going to calm down the Trump White House?Stop laughing. Although it has been another wow of a week, hasn’t it? We had one top administration official, Rob Porter, resigning over claims of domestic abuse regarding two ex-wives. Kelly defended Porter as “a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional” shortly before a picture popped up of one former Mrs. Porter sporting a black eye.

This was a little bit after Kelly himself made headlines for suggesting that some young immigrants couldn’t qualify for federal help because they were just “too lazy to get off their asses” and file some paperwork. Meanwhile the president, apparently unsupervised, was calling for a government shutdown and lobbying enthusiastically for an expensive new military parade. Because he saw one in Paris and thought it was cool.A good chief of staff advises the president against doing things that will make the administration look stupid or crazy. So, are we all in agreement that Kelly, retired general turned Trump chief of staff, appears to be … a failure? And sort of a jerk in the bargain?When Kelly first came over to run the Trump team there was near-unanimous expectation that he’d be the adult in the room. And indeed the chain of command got more efficient and some problem employees were evicted. However, there’s a limit to how long you can live off your laurels for firing Omarosa and The Mooch.”

Socrates is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona. NJ 15 hours ago
Here are John Kelly’s full ‘fine people’ remarks:

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

“That (John Kelly) statement could have been given by Confederate general (and unrepentant rebel) Jubal Early in 1880,” said Stephanie McCurry, history professor at Columbia.

“It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War. It tracks all of the major (revisionist) talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.”

“The South wanted a separate nation where they could protect slavery into the indefinite future. That’s what they said when they seceded. That’s what they said in their constitution when they wrote one,” said McCurry.

“This is profound ignorance; that’s what one has to say first, at least of pretty basic things about the American historical narrative. I mean, it’s one thing to hear it from Trump, who, let’s be honest, just really doesn’t know any history and has demonstrated it over and over and over. But General Kelly has a long history in the American military,” says historian David Blight.

It turns out there are no ‘fine people’ in the Trump Administration.

1168 Recommended

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
I wanted to quibble with Gail over her words, “It’s hard to remember many times that Kelly’s outspokenness helped the president out of trouble. After the Charlottesville tragedy, he did look depressed while Trump blathered an off-key defense of the Nazi-friendly marchers. But later when Kelly had a chance to comment himself, he offered up a theory that the Civil War was caused by “the lack of an ability to compromise.””
Socrates above has a better response than mine, but the quibble remains. There is some truth in what John Kelly said. I remember reading one famous historian who wrote, One of the great causes of the Civil War was that both sides underestimated the seriousness of the other side. Both sides thought the other side would collape or negotiate after the first gunshots were fired. In other words, both sides had a kind of arrogant stupidity, which actually, has been a trademark of American foreign policy debacles in the last half century. Think Vietnam and Iraq. An ability to compromise with the political opposition requires some humility, and the intelligence to realize that the truth is hard to discern if you happen to be human. As Sun Tsu wrote, one of great laws of war is to know your enemy as well as you know yourself. If you can’t easily win, don’t engage in warfare.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The and

How Congress Can Protect Mueller – by Eric Posner – NYT

“The news that President Trump last June nearly fired the special counsel Robert Mueller has revived interest in a pair of bills that would prohibit Mr. Trump from firing Mr. Mueller without good cause. The president’s recent attacks on the F.B.I., which seem intended to pave the way for Mr. Mueller’s ouster by putting his Russia inquiry under a cloud of suspicion, make the case for the bills even stronger.

But Republicans still resist. They want to contain the Russia investigation and worry that any concession to the Democrats will instead bolster its credibility. They have tried to mask these partisan motivations with constitutional objections to the bills. It is important to understand why those arguments are specious.”

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump – by David Leonhardt – NYT

There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.

The Art of the Broken Deal – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“On Friday night, something unprecedented happened: The U.S. government shut down temporarily even though the same party controls both Congress and the White House. Why? Because when it comes to Trump, a deal isn’t a deal — it’s just words he feels free to ignore a few days later.

The story so far: Two weeks ago, Trump declared that if Congress came up with a plan to protect Dreamers — undocumented immigrants brought here as children — while enhancing border security, he would sign it. Two days later, a bipartisan group of senators brought him a plan doing just that — and he rejected it, complaining about immigrants from “shithole countries.””

Thank tiy Paul Krugman. I reread this piece to answer, what is so important here. It is the ending message:

“In other words, Trump’s unreliability is a big problem, over and above the substance of his policies. But here’s the funny thing: While his instincts are clearly autocratic, the Constitution doesn’t set him above the law. Congress has the power to constrain his actions, to force him to honor promises. His ability to keep betraying those who trust him depends entirely on the willingness of Republicans in Congress to go along.

For example, any two of the Republican senators currently wringing their hands over the betrayal of the Dreamers could have forced action by withholding their votes on the Trump tax cut. They didn’t. Similar inaction explains why Trump has been able to violate all previous norms against exploiting his office for personal gain, and much more.

The result is that promises from the U.S. government are now as worthless as those from a tinpot dictator. We don’t yet know how high a price we’ll pay for that loss of credibility, but it probably won’t be small.”

Here’s Another Fine Mess They’ve Gotten Us Into – The New York Times

“Once again, Americans are being treated to a Capitol Hill cliffhanger over a government shutdown. The themes and plot twists differ each time, but this is a formulaic drama that reveals Congress’s bipartisan failure to perform its most basic task: to fund the federal government.

This battle isn’t over the 2018 budget; lawmakers haven’t gotten there yet. It’s a fight over short-term legislation to extend current funding levels and avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday.One could almost — but not really — feel sorry for Republicans. This is a mess President Trump created, and Republicans are tiptoeing around him trying to fashion a temporary fix that he won’t demolish with a tantrum or a tweet.”

Yes. And here is the top comment, which I recommend:

Bruce Rozenblit is a trusted commenter Kansas City, MO 13 hours ago
What do you expect when you have a certified cognitively perfect man in the White House who is also a stable genius? What do you expect when the most physically and mentally fit man ever to walk the earth gets his jollies from creating chaos and disrupting the political process? What do you expect when a TV celebrity views the world as a ratings contest and consequently does whatever he can to stay on top of the ratings.

Look, if you want real government that functions, elect real politicians that want and know how to govern. If you want results, elect people that are solidly connected to reality and don’t live inside a fantasy Fox News bubble world.

I you want compromise, don’t hold young immigrants and sick poor kids hostage for political advantage. Gangsters do stuff like that. Picking on the weakest and using them as pawns is not governing. It’s extortion. That’s why we have a policy to never negotiate with terrorists. In America, we don’t do business that way. At least we didn’t before Trump and the Republicans came to town.

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WHAT A REAL PRESIDENT WAS LIKE – By Bill Moyers – Washington Post -1988

This amazing piece by Bill Moyers in 1988, was a hypertext link in the comment by Socrates regarding the Charles Blow piece on racism posted just before this post. This is the great nugget of them all.

WHILE Lyndon Baines Johnson was a man of time and place, he felt the bitter paradox of both. I was a young man on his staff in 1960 when he gave me a vivid account of that southern schizophrenia he understood and feared. We were in Tennessee. During the…

Trump’s Threat to Democracy – by Nicholas Kristof- NYT

“Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, both professors at Harvard, write in their important new book, “How Democracies Die,” which will be released next week.

“With the exception of Richard Nixon, no major-party presidential candidate met even one of these four criteria over the last century,” they say, which sounds reassuring. Unfortunately, they have one update: “Donald Trump met them all.” ”

Yes. Here is the top comment I endorse:
Mike Roddy is a trusted commenter Alameda, Ca 2 hours ago
I spent a couple of years in Venezuela early in Chavez, reign, and saw the country’s decline up close. Included was utter corruption, even by South American standards, and a President who reflexively lied to the public during eight hour speeches on TV every Sunday.

The Venezuelans laughed at him and shrugged their shoulders, knowing that the elections were rigged and they were helpless. American left wingers didn’t do their homework, and somehow believed his schtick.

The lesson here is that we cannot underestimate the president, for many reasons.

1. Trump won’t decide to follow democratic norms, since he comes from a real estate background that included bribery, partnerships with criminals, and refusals to honor contracts.
2. Strengthening democratic norms is wise, but our attacks on the President must be blunt and relentless. This is not just another blowhard, but rather a dangerous, and murderous, potential dictator.
3. How can someone be expected to obey democratic norms when he doesn’t even know the words to the national anthem?
4. This is the most important: The oligarchs who back Trump- Mercer, Adelson, Koch, and the entire fossil fuel industry- also don’t care about democracy. They are waist deep in global bribery and environmental carnage. The press has been negligent in rarely making those connections. Many of Trump’s staffing decisions were dictated by them.

Your turn, New York Times. You’ve been OK so far (apart from ignoring #4), but without you we lose.

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