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.

FlagReply 1229 Recommended



“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.”

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.

872 Recommended

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.

215 Recommended

Everyone in Trumpworld Knows He’s an Idiot – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

DL: Michelle Goldberg is the newest young voice to join the NYT op-ed page as a regular. What a well written piece. I couldn’t recommend any of the top comments to this essay, since they refused to even acknowledge the gifted writer which provided the platform for their add ons, mostly a pile on.

I finally got to reading my new subscription to the Wall Street Journal the other day, and was disappointed at how hateful, scornful and arrogant the lead editorial was against the Democrats, using fake news to attack the Trump administration. The polarization between the parties is the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime, and over the Vietnam war, it was ferocious.

“Trumpworld” might be misleading. It refers to his White house senior staff, cabinet and senior advisors.

“One of the more alarming anecdotes in “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s incendiary new book about Donald Trump’s White House, involves the firing of James Comey, former director of the F.B.I. It’s not Trump’s motives that are scary; Wolff reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were “increasingly panicked” and “frenzied” about what Comey would find if he looked into the family finances, which is incriminating but unsurprising. The terrifying part is how, in Wolff’s telling, Trump sneaked around his aides, some of whom thought they’d contained him.

“For most of the day, almost no one would know that he had decided to take matters into his own hands,” Wolff writes. “In presidential annals, the firing of F.B.I. director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own.” Now imagine Trump taking the same approach toward ordering the bombing of North Korea.

Wolff’s scabrous book comes out on Friday — the publication date was moved up amid a media furor — but I was able to get an advance copy. It’s already a consequential work, having precipitated a furious rift between the president and his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the meeting Donald Trump Jr. brokered with Russians in the hope of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” On Thursday the president’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it stop publication, claiming, among other things, defamation and invasion of privacy. This move would be fascistic if it weren’t so farcical. (While some have raised questions about Wolff’s methods, Axios reports that he has many hours of interviews recorded.)”

The Meaning of Bannon vs. Trump – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.

Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.

Democracy. Later this month, an alarmingly titled book, “How Democracies Die,” written by two political scientists, will be published. It is, as the book’s promotional material states, “a bracing, revelatory look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world — and a road map for rescuing our own.”

That last part seems the most important. I remain optimistic that the Trump presidency will turn out to be a phase rather than a turning point in American history. But it would be foolish to dismiss the threats to our system of government. They’re greater than I ever expected to see.