Ken Ashford

Trump’s New Target: Family Of A Fallen Soldier

WaPo:

The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump “did disrespect my son” with remarks in a condolence telephone call.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson’s mother also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Johnson’s widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson said.

Trump lashed back. He denied Wilson’s account in a Twitter message Wednesday. He said he had “proof” that the exchange did not go as Wilson had described. Trump did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.

Wilson had said that the Johnson family was “astonished” by Trump’s remarks during the phone call, which Wilson said she heard via a speaker phone while riding in a car with the Johnson family.

Wilson told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s widow was shaken by the exchange.

“She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”

On Tuesday, Wilson told The Washington Post that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Wilson said she was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.

“He made her cry,” Wilson said.

It’s hard to know how to weigh in on this. But it is not altogether surprising that the fallen soldier, his mother and family, are all black. It’s just plain ODD how Trump seems to have a problem with fallen soldiers OF COLOR.

It’s deeply sad a grieving family is about to be dragged through a national debate in which their claims are a partisan loyalty test, but the mother has weighed in now

So now we have it from the family as well.  Confirmation.

Trump continued to deny on camera.

When asked for his “proof” — Trump would not say what it was:

… because like the Comey tape, there is not proof.  Trump the bluffer, caught again.

This is coming right on the heels of football players kneeling at the National Anthem, which Trump and his minions say shows disrespect to our soldiers.  And also on the heels of Trump saying he calls the spouses of fallen soldiers and maligning past presidents, particularly Barack Obama, for not calling during their tenure (a veritably false claim that Trump had to back off from when pressed). He backed THAT up by invoking the death of the son of his Chief of Staff John Kelly even though Kelly doesn’t like his son’s death being used for political purposes:

No matter. We see now that soldiers are mere props to Trump — people who signed up for whatever happens to them (so don’t blame Trump, you widows and orphans!)

Marshall is right:

President Trump is poison. Everything around him gets damaged and degraded. It’s not any one thing. It’s everything. It’s hard to evaluate the dynamics of this call out of the context of waiting ten days, lying about his predecessors, creating this hideous spectacle with John Kelly’s son. Was the family prepped for something off because of the preceding three days? Probably. Was Trump angry about all the criticism? Probably so. It’s a perfect storm. And it all builds out of one man, Donald Trump.

There’s a big debate about Trump and clinical diagnoses. Malignant narcissism is the one most clinicians refer to. But that’s a distraction. You’re talking about someone with a profound selfishness, a jarring inability to experience empathy and a kind of ravenous emotional predation. Someone who is a profound narcissist is inherently erratic and destructive to those around him since he is acting according to his own impulses, angers and appetites with a relative indifference or even a sort of blindness to those around him. They don’t exist. Lots of wreckage is inevitable. That’s what it’s like living, trapped, in a house with an abuser. This is what it’s like living in a country with a President who’s a predator.

He poisons everything. No one gets out undamaged. Some are damaged profoundly.

An inability to experience empathy.

UPDATE — Aaaaand he’s back to the NFL again

Document Dump: Federal Court Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban… Yet Again

Tired of winning…?

UPDATE: A second federal court rules the same

A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

When Worlds Collide

Some 130 million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the smoldering cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other. The resulting explosion sent a burst of gamma rays streaming through space and rippled the very fabric of the universe.

On Aug. 17, those signals reached Earth — and sparked an astronomy revolution.

The distant collision created a “kilonova,” an astronomical marvel that scientists have never seen before. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional optical telescopes, which can observe electromagnetic radiation like gamma rays, and gravitational wave detectors, which sense the wrinkles in space-time produced by distant cataclysms. The detection, which involved thousands of researchers working at more than 70 laboratories and telescopes on every continent, heralds a new era in space research known as “multimessenger astrophysics.”

Decertification Of Iran?

These tweets are two hours apart.

I guess (?????) it’s going to happen. Maybe?

The problem is that Iran is complying. He has no basis to withdraw other than the fact that it is (in his view) “a bad deal”. And that creates a huge problem in the long term. How can any country enter ANY kind of deal with the United States if some president comes along in four years and breaks the deal FOR NO REASON?

France, Germany and the UK respond:

Trump’s decision to decertify the deal by mid-October will start a 60-day clock for lawmakers to decide whether to reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran. Tillerson said that Trump would decertify it on the grounds that he does not believe the sanctions relief that Iran is getting is proportional to benefits that come from Iran’s efforts to curb its nuclear program.

In other words, Trump makes a mess (again) and then puts it on Congress to fix it.

UPDATE:  Joe Biden on Facebook writes:

Two years ago, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China reached an historic agreement with Iran to block its pathways to a nuclear weapon. That agreement is working. It is making the United States and our allies, including Israel, more secure.

And the truth of the matter is, Iran is holding up its end of the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said so. Our allies in Europe have said so. Even the Trump administration has twice certified Iran’s compliance.

So President Trump’s decision today to decertify the nuclear deal goes aganst reason and evidence. It constitutes an unfounded and unnecessary threat to America’s national security—one that inflicts lasting damage to American global leadership.

Unilaterally putting the deal at risk does not isolate Iran. It isolates us.

Just last week, Secretary of Defense Mattis testified to Congress that it is in the national security interests of the United States to remain in the deal. In announcing his decision, President Trump did not present a credible case to contradict that assessment—because he can’t. Instead, he is playing politics at the expense of the safety of every single American citizen.

The Iran deal does one thing: remove the immediate threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would present to the region, Israel, and the United States. It was never meant to be a catchall solution. Nor does it prevent us from taking steps to address Iran’s continued provocations and destabilizing actions in the region. Only now, President Trump has worsened our negotiating position. This decision will cost us leverage. It will weaken our unity with our allies. It will damage our credibility.

The detrimental effects of this step today will also ripple outward and cripple our ability to resolve other challenges. After today, what incentive would the leadership in North Korea have to sit down with the United States, China, and other partners to negotiate a diplomatic resolution to the escalating nuclear crisis? After today, why would the rest of the world join us in pushing for a diplomatic solution we might not uphold? After today, what is America’s word worth in the world?

Now, responsibility for America’s leadership and reputation rests with Congress. It is my hope that rational heads will prevail—that members will listen to the testimony of experts and our own national security establishment; that they will recognize the damage reimposing sanctions on Iran, in violation of our own obligations under the deal, will cause. And I hope Congress will do something the president is unwilling to do: ensure our actions contribute to the international consensus on how best to address the challenge posed by Iran instead of putting that consensus in jeopardy.

The United States has earned our position of respect in the world through generations of sacrifice and selfless leadership—we must not abandon that so casually.

Trump Sabotage Of Obamacare In Full Swing

Remember the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.

The gutting of Obamacare continues, and it’s serious:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.

The decision — which leaked out only hours after Trump signed an executive order calling for new regulations to encourage cheap, loosely regulated health plans — delivered a double whammy to Obamacare after months of failed GOP efforts to repeal the law. With open enrollment for the 2018 plan year set to launch in two weeks, the moves seem aimed at dismantling the law through executive actions.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the decision in a statement emailed to reporters Thursday night.

Trump has spent months toying with the idea of ending these payments, which are drawn from a $7 billion fund set up specifically to cover these costs. House Republicans have challenged these payments in court, arguing that they were never appropriated in Obamacare and thus being illegally distributed.

Most of the changes will not occur until federal agencies write and adopt regulations implementing them. The process, which includes a period for public comments, could take months. That means the order will probably not affect insurance coverage next year, but could lead to major changes in 2019.

But it destabilizes the insurance market, as it adjusts for the coming effects. And that;s where trouble comes:

  • It will raise Obamacare premiums by an estimated 20 percent in 2018, as health plans have to charge more to make up the lost funds. By 2020, premiums would increase 25 percent due to this change.
  • Pulling the plug actually increases the national deficit. As those insurance plans make double-digit rate increases, the government will have to spend billions more on the other subsidies that 10 million Americans receive to purchase that coverage.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this move will ultimately cost the government $194 billion over the next decade.
  • The number of uninsured Americans would rise by one million people in 2018, in the CBO’s estimate.
  • Insurance companies lose out, too, particularly those that assumed Trump would pay these subsidies and set their premiums accordingly. They now stand to face significant financial loses on the Obamacare marketplaces.

In a statement from six physician groups, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the doctors predicted that “allowing insurers to sell narrow, low-cost health plans likely will cause significant economic harm to women and older, sicker Americans who stand to face higher-cost and fewer insurance options.”

While many health insurers remained silent about the executive order, some voiced concern that it could destabilize the market. The Trump proposal “would draw younger and healthier people away from the exchanges and drive additional plans out of the market,” warned Ceci Connolly, the chief executive of the Alliance of Community Health Plans.

As the Supreme Court discovered when it was asked to question the constitutionality of the mandate, Obamacare is like a machine. If you pull out or change one gear, the whole thing topples.  This is the toppling.

So that makes 12 ways that the Trump Administration has undermined Obamacare on its own. The tally:

  1. Said it would end subsidies to health insurance companies that help low-income people pay out-of-pocket medical costs. Announced on Oct. 12.
  2. Opened the door for sales of less expensive plans with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers. Signed executive order on Oct. 12.
  3. Decided not to send health department officials to local open enrollment events in states. First reported on Sept. 27.
  4. Decided to shut down the Affordable Care Act website for 12 hours nearly every Sunday during open enrollment. First reported in September.
  5. Said it would cut by 40 percent funding to groups that help people enroll. Announced on Aug. 31.
  6. Said it would slash spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment to $10 million from $100 million. Announced on Aug. 31.
  7. Made videos criticizing the health law and posted them on YouTube. In June and July.
  8. Posted infographics criticizing the health law on Twitter. Mostly in late June and mid-July.
  9. Made tax credits for premiums less generous. Finalized in April.
  10. Used news releases to spread negative information about the law. As early as February.
  11. Weakened enforcement of the individual mandate. Reported in February.
  12. Removed useful guidance for consumers about the law from its website. As early as Jan. 20.

The politics of Trump’s move is interesting.  By way of background, Trump may not be wrong on the merits for halting the payments. They are the subject of an ongoing battle over whether they are legal, and even some legal types who are sympathetic to the ACA think they probably aren’t. (That said, there is no chance this is what is motivating Trump. We know this, because he previously said he believed threatening to cut off the payments — and more broadly, that letting Obamacare “fail” — would give him leverage over Democrats. It doesn’t, but this still confirms what is really driving Trump)

Trump tweets:

The truth is that the pressure is actually on Republicans (who run Congress) to step up and make those subsidies “legal”. It would not be that hard to reach a bipartisan deal to do this, at which point the question will become whether GOP leaders and Trump will support it. If not, it is likely that Trump and Republicans will take the blame for any disruptions that ensue.  Trump may not understand that, but Republicans in Congress certainly do.

By the way, when Trump says Obamacare is “imploding,” which will allegedly pressure Dems, he’s lying: The exchanges were stabilizing, and many of their travails are largely attributable to his own multiple efforts to sabotage them. The public understands this: Large majorities say Trump and Republicans will own the ACA’s problems going forward and want them to make the law work.

Trump: Blaming The Victim

This is outright inhumane:

Trump is laying the groundwork for abandoning Puerto Rico, and blaming it for its infrastructure problems that existed pre-hurricane. Lost in his “analysis” is that the people suffering there (still no power or clean water on most of the Island) are AMERICANS.

If Bush was negligent with Katrina response, Trump is being outright punishing.

According to some sources, there are now 117 people listed missing in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20. (I’m trying to verify)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — who hasn’t been shy about calling out the President for the federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico, which she thinks has been inadequate — pushed back.

She called his comments “unbecoming” of a commander-in-chief and said they seem “more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief.’”

He really is a hater.  This is proof.  This has little to do with the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state, and everything to do with the fact that the people there are Latino.

UPDATE:  More words from the San Juan Mayor — scathing:

And for comparison:

And the White House contradicts Trump:

Asked for a response to Trump’s remarks, the White House later said it was “committed to helping Puerto Rico” and working with local leaders and Congress “to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward.”

“Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reiterated during a Thursday news briefing that the Trump administration would “stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.”

Trump Doesn’t Know How The National Debt Works

During his latest interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, President Trump went on a confused rant about the economy, at one point falsely suggesting that stock market gains are helping pay down the national debt.

“I’m so proud of the $5.2 trillion dollars of increase in the stock market,” Trump said, referring to the bull market that began as the economy pulled out of the Great Recession during the months after President Obama took office.

“Now, if you look at the stock market, that’s one element, but then we have many other elements. The country — we took it over, it owed $20 trillion, as you know, the last eight years they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country, so they borrowed more than $10 trillion — and yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion in the stock market, possibly picked up the whole things in terms of the first nine months in terms of value.”

“So, you could say in one sense we are really increasing values, and maybe in a sense we are reducing debt,” Trump added, before Hannity quickly moved on to another topic.

But it just doesn’t work like that. As CNBC details, to see why this doesn’t make sense, consider the relationship (or lack thereof) between the stock market and debt during the Obama administration. Between 2009 and 2017, the S&P 500 returned 235 percent while the national debt soared.