The Trump White House and the joy of hearing what you want to hear

Donald Trump may be in Rome, but he clearly left an anonymous philosopher running the store. Responding to former CIA Director John Brennan’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, someone in the shadowy bowels of Trump central dusted off the Underwood and pounded out a response so disconnected from Brennan’s words, or our Earth, that it’s almost zen.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls we welcome you to … dueling realities.

Earth 1

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals.”

Earth 2

“This morning’s hearings back up what we’ve been saying all along: that despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion …”

It’s an interesting place, this Trump–Earth. Terth. One where …

“The President never jeopardized intelligence sources.”

No, of course not. Say, how green is that sky! And look at those blue hills.

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DHS extends temporary protective status for Haitian refugees, but for only six months

Department of Homeland Security John Kelly announced a six-month extension of temporary protected status for over 50,000 Haitian refugees who are living in the U.S. and were facing possible deportation once their status ended at the end of July. ”If confirmed, six months with promise to review better than hard stop,” tweeted immigrant rights leader Frank Sharry about the news. But as he and others have noted during the past few weeks, Haiti has yet to recover from devastating natural disasters and a cholera outbreak that has killed thousands, and uprooted tens of thousands of people who have U.S. citizen kids, work and pay taxes, and have built their lives here since the 2010 Haiti earthquake could mean not only misery for them, but have vast reverberations. Mother Jones:

Losing TPS could have ripple effects beyond the Haitians currently in the program. According to a recent report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, if Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti—the three countries with the largest number of TPS recipients—are all removed from the program, the US economy would lose $45.2 billion over the next decade. And it could cost some $3.1 billion to deport all TPS holders from those three countries, according to the report.

“The Haitian program is so important,” says Stephen Legomsky, a USCIS chief counsel during the Obama administration. He points to the money TPS holders regularly send back to family members in Haiti, an economic boost that would be difficult to replace if the program ended. Given current conditions in Haiti, “there would be tremendous human hardship on a huge scale” if thousands of people were to return to the country at once, he says.

It doesn’t seem likely that the Trump administration is considering Haitian contributions to the economy in making its decision.

It doesn’t seem likely that the Trump administration is considering his own words from the 2016 presidential campaign trail, either.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Monday, again. We made it! We’re still alive!

Of course, that just means we’re in for another week of this mess. Week 18 of The Presidential Apprentice, and a full week of Trumpshambles abroad!

And here’s some good news for those who have been thinking about becoming Kagro in the Morning listeners: Jared Kushner has negotiated a special, discounted rate for you! Just click the link below, and listen in at a new, lower price just for you!

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Imagine reading and discussing the news every morning with your favorite Daily Kos editors! Now imagine doing that with David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando! Pretty close, right?

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Week 17 of The Presidential Apprentice closes with Trump jetting off to the Middle East and Europe, carrying the contagion of infantilism, inattention, low energy and dysfunction with him. (Jared & Ivanka are along for the ride, allegedly with special dispensation.) We’re coming to grips with the Comey firing, the appointment of a special counsel, and what it all means. But first, Trump & team are spending their precious time plotting revenge: by accusing Obama of being the real leaker of intel to Russia! Got it? Good. Now, here’s what you need to read, in rough order of complexity, in order to discuss the scope of the investigation(s). In related news, Jason Chaffetz is putting away his subpoena crayons, and Devin Nunes still has his hands in the cookie jar. Speaking of half-assing it in the House, they might end up having to vote on Trumpcare all over again, rendering statements by the White House and Ryan’s office inoperative. Lots of speculation about why Trump’s so loyal to Flynn, lately. But this is the topper! I hope! One last entry for weekend reading: Time’s “Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America.”

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Open thread for night owls: Good riddance

We have observed the necessary moment of silence. Now let us remember ex-Fox News head Roger Ailes for who he truly was: a man who did more damage to American democracy than any other individual in the nation. A man who transformed news into a propaganda effort, a man who transformed conspiracies and paranoia into a new conservative ideology, a man who dedicated the entirety of the apparatus he oversaw to lying to Americans in very specific, calculated ways. He was a bad person. He did great harm, and he died too late to do anyone any good.

Ailes was a monster who was pushed out of the network he founded because dozens of women who had worked for him came forward and reported that he had sexually harassed them. And the legacy he leaves behind is a propaganda machine he created in his own image that has done incalculable damage to the country, slanting facts and information — and sometimes completely inventing them — in service of a vicious, right-wing agenda. […]

In Fox News, Ailes found a way to exacerbate and monetize the conservative movement’s paranoid opposition to the “liberal media,” turning millions of Americans into devoted followers who were inculcated to trust no other source of information. Mainstream outlets soon internalized his critique, forced by constant accusations of bias to elevate hackish conservative commentators and provide false balance. […]

Ailes saw political opponents as enemies and created a network that demanded the same behavior of conservative politicians. Fox brought political vitriol to a new level. Chasing the approval of Fox’s hosts and its audience, Republican politicians became ever more partisan and intransigent, making congressional bipartisanship and even collegiality a thing of the past.

Conspiracy theories, bigotry, paranoia, more conspiracy theories, a culture of misogyny run rampant; the Ailes legacy is malevolence, and fear, and contempt. You could not name any American in the modern era who has harmed his nation more. His life will be his legacy, and his life was rotten to the core.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Supreme Court confronts in vitro fertilization technology:

Karen and Robert Capato were married in August 1999, but the honeymoon ended quickly as Robert was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Before starting chemo which might render him sterile, he had his sperm frozen. He died in March 2002. Karen used his sperm to conceive a child in January 2003, and in September 2003—18 months after Robert Capato’s death—she gave birth to twins.  

The Social Security Act of 1939 allows for survivor benefits for “the child or legally adopted child of an [insured] individual,” and so Karen applied for Social Security survivor benefits for the twins. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with her application, holding: “What is before us is a discrete set of circumstances and the narrow question posed by those circumstances: are the undisputed biological children of a deceased wage earner and his widow ‘children’ within the meaning of the Act? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes.'”

The Social Security Administration appealed, and today the Supreme Court of the United States resoundingly said ‘No.'” Or, at least, “Look, it’s a close call, and the SSA is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.” 

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”

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ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Somewhere over the cosmic rainbow, President Hillary Clinton is under siege.

In that alternate universe, half a dozen well-staffed congressional investigations are winding their way through various GOP-controlled committees and leaking to the press like sieves. Politicians are ubiquitous on cable news, wearing expressions of grave concern, heads half-bowed in rehearsed reverence to the Founding Fathers, speaking in solemn tones about the president’s negligent handling of classified material, corrupt giga-dollars meandering through various accounts and into the ruling family’s infinitely deep pockets, and most importantly, voting irregularities in key districts that allowed her, just barely, to eke out a razor-thin electoral victory much slimmer than the liberal media so smugly predicted.

Barely over 100 days in she is politically neutered: no legislation will progress until such time as the dark stain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and her many criminal enterprises can be cleansed from the nation’s business. 

It’s a conservative dreamland where pundits and pols explain that our very democracy is under attack, that we must root out the filth and stay the foul corruption, lest the flame of liberty be extinguished. Special prosecutors-in-waiting are polishing up their resumes, and the chosen are setting up their offices. Conservative media is setting records, words like impeachment and felony flow like milk and honey from the right-wing pious trudging toward the promised land, and talk of witchcraft and demon house-flies are applauded and liked and promoted by the more rabid members of the base. Aggrieved Republicans are now tuning in eagerly to every move and nuance and rumor, popcorn in hand.

Meanwhile, back here, in universe C-137, the tables are completely turned and Donald Trump is a disaster on just about every level — including the once sacred topic of national security. The cosmos it seems, is not without a sense of irony and it is we progressives—and just about everyone else—who are alternately entertained and disgusted by the continuing saga otherwise known as the Trump White House.

Which brings up an interesting thought experiment: are we in some sense better off with Trump in office than some of the Republican alternatives?

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Trump visit to Israel could mean land mines ahead

No doubt Donald Trump hoped the Israel leg of his first foreign trip as president was going to be a piece of cake. Instead, the whole thing might crumble more quickly than poorly baked mandelbread.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump bragged that he would be Israel’s best friend. He would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He loved Israeli settlements on the West Bank and chose David Friedman, an outspoken supporter of those settlements, as the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no secret of his disdain for President Barack Obama during his two terms and no doubt thought he had a more friendly ally in No. 45. But the meetings between the two leaders are bound to be testy for several reasons:

Trump, displaying his usual lack of understanding of foreign affairs during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, proclaimed that Middle East peace “is not as difficult as people have thought.”
A diplomatic member of Team Trump used very undiplomatic language to say that Netanyahu would not be welcome when Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank,” the unnamed U.S. official said. The whole report was played on Israeli television, and the statement about the West Bank was described as being met with “astonishment.”
Netanyahu had to order his Cabinet ministers to attend a welcoming ceremony for Trump after he found out that most were refusing to attend. The White House demanded changes in what originally was planned as an elaborate ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport because it would be “too hot.”
The classified intelligence information about the Islamic State that Trump bragged about and passed on to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an Oval Office meeting turns out to have come from Israel. Remember that Russia is a clear ally of Iran, one of Israel’s sworn enemies. Way to throw an ally under the intelligence bus, Donnie. Why should any of our allies ever trust us again?

How many ways can you say “unpresidential”?

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