Editorial: So Where’s The Outrage?
The comment didn’t come from Sean Hannity, nor some radical member of Congress looking to make a name for themselves. It came right out of the mouth of Trump’s official spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Here’s the exact quote: “We have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller. We’re continuing to work closely, and cooperate with him. We’re looking forward to seeing this hoax wrap up very soon“.
You can watch it here:
Since Sanders made the comment during an appearance on the Fox News program “America’s Newsroom”, maybe we’re supposed to understand the target audience and not take it so seriously? Or maybe we’re supposed to see it as not being substantially different than the Administration’s endless assaults on “fake news”?
Regardless of where it was said, and in what context, we believe it is different. And it is serious.
First of all, “fake news” is a made up thing. It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just a couple of words put together that Trump co-opted when he saw it riled people up. “Hoax” is much more serious. It discredits and disrespects the Mueller investigation, and by relation rips the F.B.I. as a sham.
• Never mind the fact that Mueller, a Republican, was appointed by a Republican, during a Republican administration (Trump’s.) And Mueller had to apply for a waiver to take on the job because the law firm he was affiliated with represented many of the same Republicans he now appears to be investigating (or in some cases has already indicted).
• Never mind the fact that if half the people on Mueller’s team supported Clinton, that means his team is almost perfectly representative of the American public as a whole.
• Never mind the fact that the President who says his top priority is keeping us safe, seems also to have a near-top priority of undermining and demeaning the people who are most responsible for keeping us safe.
And there’s evidence that the intensifying attack on Mueller and the F.B.I. is working. As the Democratic co-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner warned, it’s going mainstream: moving from whispers on the fringes of Right-wing media, to shouts in the halls of Congress, and now to accusations of “hoaxes” on the White House lawn.
Mueller is distinguishing himself by not leaking, not taking the bait, keeping his head down and plowing forward. But that also means even the most outrageous accusations (presented, of course, as fact) go unaddressed.
And now that Trump’s proven he’s willing to sit back while Republicans go wild with all their long wished-for hopes and dreams, asking for nothing but endless face-to-face praise in return, how likely are they to rebuke repugnant rhetoric like this, or come at him forcefully if he moves to derail the investigation should it get closer to him?
Congress Slams Yet Another Stopgap Spending Bill Through; Leaves Democrats Looking Foolish
The bill funds the government for another couple of weeks, provides short term emergency money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and prevents mandatory cuts to Medicare from kicking in, allowing President Trump to sign the recently passed tax cut bill this year if he wants.
At the same time it does not address DACA, and that’s a problem, because Democrats as recently as a few days ago were saying they were not leaving unless they got that taken care of. Trump ended the program allowing undocumented immigrants who have been here since childhood to stay in the country.
So all politicians lie, and putting it off to January is no big deal, right? Not exactly. By delaying and appearing indifferent, Republicans are lining things up so that Democrats will be forced to spend whatever political capital they have getting things passed that Republicans actually want too, and are just pretending they don’t: like CHIP, like DACA, like Obamacare cost-sharing.
So what was the whole point of the sweet deal “Chuck and Nancy” cut with Trump 3 months ago, that nobody could believe, because it was going to give the Democrats such an upper hand in the year-end budget battle?
Sadly, as we suggested at the time, the only outcome seems to be that it cleared the decks for Republicans to focus on tax cuts.
Democrats in the House largely opposed the stopgap bill, but that was for show because they didn’t have the numbers to block it anyway. In the Senate, where they absolutely could’ve stopped it, it sailed through. The margin wide enough that 2 Republican Senators didn’t even vote and it didn’t matter.
Which leads us to ask (since we’re getting all editorial today anyway), while there’s been lots of talk for a long time about replacing House Speaker Paul Ryan (who we now know is leaving anyway) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (less so, now that the tax bill passed), why nothing about replacing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer? He’s always been a self-congratulating windbag who can’t keep his mouth shut (so far, so good: kinda sounds like our President…) But where Trump doubles-down, Schumer backs down. Who’d replace him? How about Oregon Senator Ron Wyden?
No, Mr. President, Obamacare Is Not Dead
Yes, the tax bill did get rid of the part of Obamacare mandating everyone buy health insurance or pay a penalty, but the rest of the bill is still intact. And while some call the part that was removed the “heart of it”, we’re not so sure. Neither is Politico. At the beginning, had that rule not been in place, Obamacare almost definitely would’ve died. But now that people are signed up, and don’t want to lose their benefits, the fact that they don’t have to buy insurance anymore may not make that much of a difference. That’s especially true for people receiving subsidies, and will continue to receive them, since everything else in the bill remains intact.
Of course it’s too early to tell how it’ll play out. But one early signal: despite the Trump Administration’s overt sabotage of Obamacare this year (deeply slashing everything from advertising to the enrollment period), nearly as many people still signed up as last year.
The one thing we’re not so comfortable with is Republicans suggesting of late they probably won’t take up repealing Obamacare again next year, and will focus instead on supporting health care markets. Because even though they haven’t been successful in multiple tries, and will have even less of a margin in the Senate with Alabama’s recently flipped Democratic seat, they’re sneaky, and if they see an opening, they’ll jump, just like they did with the tax bill…
The Tax Bill “Story Of The Day”
This uncharacteristically short piece by David Frum in the Atlantic, which backs up a lot of what we’ve been reporting in regard to the tax bill deliberately punishing blue states, but takes it further, concluding “America’s already bitterly polarized two-party system may soon be evolving further and faster into two single-party systems, each bent upon pillaging the other.”
And there’s a follow-up to the Washington Post piece that was our “tax bill story of the day” yesterday. It suggested as soon as people start seeing a few dollars in their pocket they could easily start viewing the tax bill more positively. In this piece, the Post looks at why that might not be true, quoting one former Democratic operative saying “Calling this thing a win because Republicans finally got something done is like saying the captain of the Titanic won when he successfully found that reclusive iceberg”.
UN Rebukes Trump Despite Threats (Or Maybe Because Of Them)
Trump and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley both said they’d gut aid to countries that vote against the U.S., and cut funding to the U.N. itself. Still, almost everybody went ahead and voted against the U.S. in a non-binding resolution calling for Trump to take back his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The final tally: 128 to 9 (or 128 to 44 if you include abstentions).
Haley argued that since the U.S. pays more into the U.N. than anyone else, it deserves to be “respected”. But we think that’s missing the whole point: the U.S. is big and strong enough not to throw a tantrum and pick up our ball and run away just because people toss a few insults at us or disagree with us on a few things. We are not typically petty or craven.
Here’s a short clip of her speech:
Eli Lake on Bloomberg suggests the U.N. needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs the U.N. That may be true. But it’s not as true as it once was. France has stepped in recently as the mediator in global disputes, where in the past one might have expected the U.S. to take the lead. And it’s gone just fine. And while the U.S. provides a lion’s share of the U.N.’s funding, there’s nothing to say it couldn’t continue to operate on a smaller scale without that.
Also, Trump seemed to have a lot of fun during last year’s General Assembly; spending hours there hobnobbing with world leaders. We showed you this photo yesterday from Nikki Haley’s Twitter feed: have you ever seen one where he looks more genuinely relaxed and happy?
The Main Reason The World Needs The U.S.? The Dollar. And That’s Changing…
The U.S. Dollar is as close a thing as there is right now to a global currency. We’ve talked before about traveling to places where the U.S. is widely despised (North Korea for one), and yet the U.S. Dollar is still the currency of choice. That’s mainly because arms dealers or oil traders are not about to accept local currency.
The emergence of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, could change all that. And ultimately prove a threat to America’s economic and political dominance. (China already sees it as enough of a threat to its economy to ban it, which has made it even more popular there). It’s probably not something that will pose a real challenge to Trump during his Presidency. Still, Chicago futures exchanges started trading them recently, and according to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs will open a cryptocurrency trading desk by early next year. So it’s coming…
We Thought We’d Leave You With Something Really Scary…
No, that’s not Trump. That’s a Trump robot. The Hall of Presidents at Disneyworld is reopened, to include the 45th President. We really wished they’d picked a more colorful quote though: like his inauguration promise to stop “American carnage”.
Unless All Hell Breaks Loose, The Chaos Report Will Take Next Monday And Tuesday Off