We don't know if the health bill will pass!


But Kevin Drum may well be right:
We don't know if the GOP health bill will pass the Senate next week.

It may not pass the Senate at all! Sadly, though, we have to say that Kevin Drum's assessment could be right.

Yesterday, Drum offered a set of predictions and possibilities. Every part of this could turn out to be right:
DRUM (6/23/17): This is just a note about the Senate health care bill. Do not believe any prattle about Mitch McConnell “being OK with a loss.” Or about “moderate Republicans” who will vote against it. Or about conservatives who are “revolting.” Or about “desperate attempts” to hold the Republican caucus together.

Next week the CBO will release its score of the bill. They will confirm that it doesn’t increase the deficit. The Senate will debate for a day or two; pass a few minor amendments; and then pass the bill. The vote will be 51-50, with Vice President Pence breaking the tie.

If Paul Ryan is smart, he will simply bring up the Senate bill for a vote and be done with it. It will pass because everyone will understand that this is their only chance. Either vote yes, or else give up on repealing Obamacare and give Democrats a big win.
It may not work out that way at all. On the other hand, those predictions could well be right. The bill will pass the Senate, then pass the House in identical form.

We'll offer one small caveat. It concerns that 51-50 vote.

Why is Drum predicting that Pence will have to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate? Presumably, he thinks McConnell may grant "free passes" to two Republican senators. He'll let them vote against the bill for political reasons involving their standing in their (blue-leaning) home states.

That used to be the way it was done, but a problem arose. When an unpopular or controversial bill passes on a tie vote, or by a one-vote margin, that means that everyone who voted yes has "cast the deciding vote."

If the Republicans pass this bill on a 50-50 vote in the Senate, all fifty Republicans could be attacked that way in a future general election campaign. But hold on! If the bill passes the Senate on a 51-49 vote, that means that no one has "cast the deciding vote!"

For this silly rhetorical reason, the tactic has shifted away from passing an unpopular bill by the narrowest possible margin. In this case, that would mean that McConnell would grant only one "free pass," and the bill would pass the Senate, 51-49.

Pence wouldn't have to break the tie. He could continue to travel all over the country, nefariously raising buckets of money for his "legal defense," the way he's been doing of late in the fever dreams of our resistance.

(It's also possible, of course, that two Republicans will insist on voting no, producing that rhetorically unhelpful tie.)

Drum's predictions may all turn out to be right. Unfortunately, the rest of his post is accurate too—accurate and darkly illustrative:
DRUM (continuing): The only way to break this cycle is to generate some new opposition. Senate Republicans already know that Democrats oppose the bill, AARP opposes the bill, hospitals oppose the bill, and so forth. They don’t care. The Democrats won’t vote for them no matter what they do and the others aren’t threatening to withdraw campaign support. They oppose the bill, but only on paper. They also know that their bill will take away health coverage from millions. They don’t care about that either. They never have.

This is it. There’s a week left. Lefties need to generate some new opposition to the bill that wavering senators are actually afraid of. Any ideas?
There you have it. With one week left, Drum says we lefties need to generate new opposition to the bill.

What he says may well be right. But it's much too late for our brilliant resistance to accomplish any such task. Who can we recruit, after all? We already have Johnny Depp!

This call for help is much too late. It's thirty years too late.

Over that stretch of time, we lefties have diddled and clowned and partied and played and let ourselves be endlessly conned by our putative intellectual leaders.

In truth, we just aren't especially bright. Our attention span? It doesn't exist. Gnats feel sorry for us!

Except within our own sweet dreams, we're remarkably ineffective. Making matters worse, we're almost insanely self-impressed and defiantly self-deluded.

According to U.S. officials, we're among the least savvy people who ever drew breath on the planet. Scientifically, this fact has been proven within the past year. But as proof of our general haplessness, we're unable to process this fact about Ineffectual Us.

We plan to return to the topic of health care next week, reviewing decades of liberal/progressive ineptitude. We'll also peruse this remarkable text at the new and improved Salon.

Truly, it's a seminal text. It portrays the self-defeating soul of the group known as Ridiculous Us. That remarkable text is built upon the rock of our tribe's self-delusion.

Fox & Friends, the dumbest show ever!

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017

Look who's catching up:
Long ago and far away, we first discussed the massive dumbness of the morning show, Fox & Friends.

At the time, it struck us as the dumbest news program ever broadcast. It was while we were watching Brian Kilmeade on the Fox & Friends of that era that we were first struck by an unfortunate thought:

Performers on these programs are being paid amounts of money they would never receive in any other walk of life. For that reason, these people never rock the boat on such shows. In large part, they're being paid for their obedience to the corporate mission.

In this piece by Adam Raymond, the world-class dumbness of this program is back today in full flower.

Today's dumbness involves Steve Doocey, who may have created more dumbness by now than anyone else in the history of TV news. Ainsley Earnhardt is also involved. Also, dear God, Ed Henry!

You'll have to read the piece by Raymond to see how vast the dumbness was in the incident he describes. Having said that, though, we'll also say this:

Rachel Maddow's recent segments about Mike Pence's legal fees were every bit as dumb. Assuming minimal emotional agency,
Maddow was talking down to the rubes, just as the Fox & Friends gang has always done.

Assuming minimal emotional agency—and we don't make that assumption with Maddow—she was showing her ultimate disrespect for the people who watch her program.

There's an obvious difference here. Maddow was originally peddled to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar. She would score very high on an IQ test. Assuming minimal emotional competence, the dumbness she displayed in those segments was entirely deliberate. It can't have happened because she herself is dumb.

Meanwhile, if it's The Big Tribal Dumb you like, just consider this second report, in which Raymond discusses Trump's recent interview with the Fox & Friends gang. In this chunk shown below, Raymond accuses Trump of "witness intimidation" due to his suggestion last month that he might have tapes of his conversations with Comey the God:
RAYMOND (6/23/17): The President also addressed the nonexistent tapes of his conversations with Comey. Thursday he admitted that the tapes don’t exist. He reiterated that in the interview—“I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape, and I didn’t tape.”—but [Trump] added that he concocted the ruse to keep Comey honest. And he thinks it worked.

“When he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there—whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else and who knows—I think his story may have changed,” Trump said. “You’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. My story didn’t change—my story was always a straight story, my story always was the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed, but I did not tape.”

Earhardt then complimented Trump, saying the ruse was “a smart way to make sure [Comey] stayed honest during those hearings.”

“It wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that,” Trump said. “He did admit that what I said was right.
And if you look further back before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that.”

And with that, Trump can add “witness intimidation” to the ever-growing list of crimes he’s being accused of committing in his short five months in office.
For starters, let's get clear on what Trump is saying. He's saying that Comey was forced to tell the truth because of the bluff concerning the tape. Otherwise, Trump is saying, Comey might have dissembled or lied.

That may or may not be the case. Based on the published record, we'd have to say that Trump's bluff may have had that sort of effect on anonymous Comey "associates." It seems possible that certain claims by some "associates" may have been tempered after Trump issued his bluff.

At any rate, that's what Trump is saying. Now, try to fathom what Raymond is saying in the text we've posted. (As a general matter, we mentioned the peculiar reasoning in which he's engaged in our first post today.)

Raymond is saying that, by forcing Comey to be honest in his testimony, Trump engaged in "witness intimidation!" He describes this as a crime.

Let's go over that again:

In the imagined scenario, Trump's bluff forces Comey to tell the truth in his Senate testimony. He can no longer lie under oath because a tape might exist.

According to Raymond, Trump was thereby committing the crime of intimidating a witness! He was robbing Comey of the freedom to lie under oath.

Desire to maintain faith with the tribe can make people say many things. All over cable last night, scripted pundits were voicing softer versions of this manifest tribal lunacy.

This morning, his lizard apparently barking, Raymond served the lunacy straight. With The Crazy running wild on all sides, we live in dangerous times. A major nation can't survive when the tribes start playing like this.

That said, will your lizard let you consider our original point?

The ludicrous Doocey = Maddow? Will your lizard let you see it?

The New York Times joins the fact-checking game!

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017

Who is Linda Qiu:
Recently, the New York Times got into the fact-checking game.

They were rather late to this trend.

At present, their fact-check presentations are being done by Linda Qiu. We'll admit that we've occasionally thought her work falls short of the mark.

This morning, Qiu has a high-profile FACT CHECK piece in the hard-copy Times. She fact-checks Donald J. Trump's recent speech, the one he gave Wednesday night.

Qiu starts like this, hard-copy headline included:
QIU (6/23/17): An Adoring Crowd, And a Dozen Things That Aren't True

President Trump returned to familiar rhetorical territory during a raucous campaign-style rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, repeating exaggerations and falsehoods about health care, jobs, taxes, foreign policy and his own record.

Here’s an assessment.
Sure enough—twelve fact-checks follow. That's an even dozen.

Qiu's third fact-check is very significant. She offers this brisk report:
QIU: He falsely claimed the United States is “the highest-taxed nation in the world.”

In 2015, the United States ranked in the middle or near the bottom compared among 35 advanced economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by the typical metrics: No. 28 for total tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product, No. 22 for corporate tax revenue as a percentage of G.D.P. and No. 13 for tax revenue per capita.
That's exactly the kind of fact-check a major newspaper should stress. It reviews a major, gong-show claim—a major claim which gets made all the time. Through this standard claim, millions of voters get disinformed about a very basic topic.

That was an excellent fact-check. By way of contrast, it seems to us that Qiu's sixth fact-check isn't:
QIU: He falsely claimed Gary Cohn paid “$200 million in taxes” to serve as his economic adviser.

Mr. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, was required to divest company shares under ethics laws, and sold about $220 million worth of Goldman stock. He also received a cash payout of about $65 million. The nearly $300 million payout is, of course, eventually subject to taxation but characterizing it as money paid to the I.R.S. is not accurate.
All of a sudden, we're off in the weeds, and we seem to be splitting an extremely fine hair. This is the kind of nit-picking point which will convince many people that they're dealing with a partisan, and that they should therefore ignore all her points.

Other fact-checks were hard to follow, or made minor small points, or seemed to take us toward the land of difference of opinion or emphasis. At one point, we experieneced major puzzlement. Because of certain claims we heard last night, we were especially interested in this topic:
QIU: He said he would bar immigrants from receiving welfare benefits for five years, but they already are prohibited.

The requirements sought by Mr. Trump have largely been in place for two decades since the passage of welfare reform or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

Legal permanent residents who haven’t worked in the United States for 10 years are not eligible for food assistance or Medicaid within the first five years of entering the country. States have the option of waiving the Medicaid rule for pregnant immigrants and children.

Refugees, asylees and victims of trafficking can collect some benefits, and immigrants who’ve served in the military are eligible without a time requirement.
"Legal permanent residents who haven’t worked in the United States for 10 years are not eligible for food assistance or Medicaid within the first five years of entering the country?"

Are we missing something here? Has any such person "worked in the United States for 10 years" "within the first five years of entering the country?"

There may be a way to exit this maze, but we'd have to guess what it is.

We've been frustrated by Qiu's presentations in the past. For that reason, we finally decided to check her background.

She's three years out of college (University of Chicago, 2014). We're just wondering:

Reducing labor costs can be great if that's what we're looking at here. But at a newspaper like the Times, does fact-checking seem like a major beat for someone of such tender years?

Presumably, a person that young could do that job. That said, we've often thought that Qiu's work isn't quite up to snuff at this point in a very important field.

Is this the best the Times can do? Youthful scribes to the side, we find ourselves asking that question a fair amount of the time.

RIDICULOUS US: Our own rogues gallery of prime-time hosts!

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017

Part 4—Much loved by Ridiculous Us:
All around the globe, wherever such groups have performed, lynch mobs have sometimes stampeded off in pursuit of a guilty party.

That doesn't mean they weren't lynch mobs, with all the moral and intellectual squalor which serve to distinguish such groups.

At present, a group of this type is chasing Donald J. Trump around. In our view, they're chasing a deeply disordered, dangerous party who shouldn't be where he is.

That doesn't mean that they aren't a mob conducting an old-fashioned chase.

Our press corps has staged several such chases in the past twenty-five years. This time, they're chasing a "guilty party." But they're still behaving like a mob, as they did when they were chasing Clinton, Clinton and Gore.

Case in point—our own "cable news," last night.

Yesterday, the Republican leadership in the Senate released its health care proposal. By common assessment, tens of millions fewer people will have health care in the future if the bill ends up passing, as it very well might.

Last night, on liberal cable, this rather large problem took a back seat to an entertaining chase. We'll call it The Hardy Boys and the Case of the Grandfather Clock. In that title, we refer to the conversation which took place in the shadow of that grandfather clock.

When he testified before the Senate last month, James B. Comey kept referring to the grandfather clock, which is found in the Oval Office. Pundits praised him at that time for his magnificent narrative skill. They said his inclusion of such detail suggested that he was right about pretty much everything else.

That foolishness was part of the chase. So were some of the conversations on liberal cable last night.

Before the pundits could talk about health care last night, they had to talk about Donald J. Trump's newest revelation. No, he didn't have audiotape of his conversations with Comey the God, the president had finally said.

This distraction returned the pundits to The Case of the Grandfather Clock. Nancy Drew was also present, in the person of Nicolle Wallace, guest-hosting for Brian Williams on The 11th Hour.

Wallace opened the show with a segment about Trump's non-existent tapes. After a panel of hanging judges all said all the mandated things, she went to her first break at 11:13, saying this:
WALLACE (6/22/17): Thank you Jeremy Bash, Michael Crowley and Mieke Eoyang.

Coming up, reaction to all this from a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Jeff Merkley joins us in studio, next.

And later, the Republican health care bill is out and there's already enough resistance to kill it, from Republicans. The 11th Hour is back after this.
Yay yay yay yay yay! The health care bill was already on the way down! But first, we were going to discuss Donald Trump's tapes some more! The tapes were entertaining and fun. As every overpaid pundit knows, health care discussions are boring!

That's the way our own cable works in the hands of a Republican host. (Wallace was communications director in the Bush White House. She's long been excellent as a cable news guest, is improving as a host.)

In fairness, Wallace turned to health care fairly quickly when she spoke with Merkley. That said, the Case of the Grandfather Clock came first. It was the lead on The 11th Hour, and it produced a scripted conversation, part of the ongoing chase.

Needless to say, the conversation involved speculation about Trump's original motives for suggesting he had those tapes. Also, the conversation involved the chance that Trump's suggestion meant that he had maybe perhaps committed obstruction of justice.

Yay yay yay yay yay yay! Wallace's trio of pundits wondered whether Trump had meant to intimidate Comey the God by suggesting he had tapes, or whether he meant to threaten him. We liberals were given those choices on Our Own Partisan Cable. No other possibilities needed to apply.

Here on our sprawling campus, our analysts were somewhat puzzled. They wondered how Comey could have been kept from making accurate statements about his conversations with Trump by the possibility that a tape of those conversations might exist.

Of one thing the youngsters could feel quite sure. They would hear no suggestion that Trump's suggestion about the tapes kept Comey, or his "associates," from making inaccurate statements about those conversations.

As we noted last week, it can almost seems that some such thing actually may have occurred. Before Trump made his remark about tapes, "associates" of Comey were insisting that Comey had never told Trump that he wasn't under investigation. These insistent, false statements came to an end after Trump suggested he might have tapes.

We liberals aren't forced to hear such facts on our own partisan channel. The channel exists to make us feel happy at night, and to make plenty of money for the corporate owners, just like over on Fox.

Last night, on liberal cable, we were thereby enjoying the fun of the chase. On The 11th Hour, facts about health care took second place, just as it ever has been, for the past dozens of years.

Meanwhile, over on Fox, people were hearrng different topics discussed. As we flipped back and forth, in sheer boredom, to Tucker Carlson Tonight, we were struck by the topics our fellow citizens were hearing discussed Over There.

The first time we flipped over, Joe Concha was telling Tucker that MSNBC and CNN had refused to broadcast Donald J. Trump's speech the previous night. We think their decision made perfect sense, but Concha was bringing some heat.

They talk about Trump almost all the time, Concha said, offering data which are garbled in the Nexis transcript. But they refuse to air him live! He then offered these remarks:
CONCHA (6/22/17): So when you are so myopic on a particular person, in this case the president, why wouldn't you cover him live to actually hear what he has to say? Unless that unfiltered version of Trump doesn't allow for commentary, punditry, or maybe speculation around their latest bombshell that came via unnamed sources.

So then we talk about the business end of this...How did the ratings work out? Was this a good editorial decision by CNN and MSNBC not to cover this rally live as Fox did?

I have the numbers in front of me. Fox more than quadrupled CNN's audience during live coverage at 8 PM Eastern last night.

Total audience: Fox 3.3 million, CNN 821,000. Against MSNBC: Fox 3.3 million, MSNBC 1.53 million.
Fox had conquered again, the channel's viewers were told. They were also told that MSNBC won't cover Donald J. Trump except to speculate about their latest anonymous bombshell.

Sadly, there's an element of truth to that.

The next time we flipped over, Carlson was battering an immigration attorney about the claim that immigrants can't receive welfare benefits in their first five years in the country.

Carlson said this liberal claim is grossly misleading, to the point of basically being wrong; he seemed to go into some detail. We can't tell you if he was right, but neither could the attorney!

We flipped again, and Fox viewers were being told about a professor at Trinity University, Carlson's alma mater. Let's just say that this professor may have gone Kathy Griffin one better:
CARLSON: Several days ago, shortly after House majority whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot down on a baseball field outside of D.C., a sociology professor at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut went onto social media to applaud the violence.

His name is [NAME WITHHELD]; he is a professor there. He linked to an article on Facebook that argued Congressman Scalise should have been left to bleed to death on the field. Here's part of what he wrote:

Quote, "It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be white will not do. Put an end to the vectors of their destructive methodology of whiteness in their white supremacy system."

And then [NAME WITHHELD] added this. "Let them EFFING die." He spelled that out. In a later post, Williams referred to white people as, quote, "inhuman." Whoa!

He still works there. Forced by news reports to respond to all this, the president of the college, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, issued a statement saying the school will look into [his] post...
We haven't researched the incident, but let's face it. Someone within our liberal tents is always creating a moment like this. Over on our own cable channel, we aren't required to know or think about this.

The last time we flipped, Tucker was discussing Kamala Harris with Asra Nomani, the very sane-seeming co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement. That segment started like this:
CARLSON: Just last week, California Senator Kamala Harris became a feminist mantra by persisting in her questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But the day later, Harris had an actual chance to help actual women and she took a big pass on that.

Asra Nomani and Ayaan Hirsi Ali appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee to testify about the dangers of Islamic extremism, particularly for women. They have experience those dangers, first hand, both of them.

Senator Harris, who sits on the committee, didn't have a single question for them, nor did Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill, the other Democratic women on the committee. Why the silence? Asra Nomani joins us tonight.

NOMANI: Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON: Thank you for coming on. You wrote a powerful piece today in the New York Times in which you said that not only did these purported feminists in the Senate ignore you, an actual woman who has suffered under Sharia law. But one of them, Claire McCaskill questioned the reason for the hearing in the first place and in effect scolded you by implication for complaining about it.

NOMANI: Yes. We were shocked.
We don't know what actually happened, but the segment proceeded from there. Again, Nomani seemed extremely sane. Her New York Times column is here.

This was occurring on Fox. Over on our own cable channel, we were enjoying the chase. Over There, on Carlson's show, The Others were hearing the types of things we rarely hear discussed.

At issue, on each channel, was our nation's greatest current challenge. That's the challenge of dealing with the Us-and-Them which is being created by corporate cable, by talk radio and by the partisan Net.

At present, each team is making millions of dollars offering the pleasing porridge one group or the other enjoys. On our pwn liberal channel, a rogues gallery of cable hosts is conducting the chase in prime time.

Their names are shown below. One party has been excused:
Our own prime-time rogues gallery:
6 PM: Greta
7 PM: Chris Matthews
8 PM: [Excused absence]
9 PM: A certain unnamed cable star
10 PM: Lawrence O'Donnell
11 PM: Brian
For several years, when she worked at Fox, Greta was the prime enabler of Donald J. Trump's birtherism. A certain unnamed cable host swears by Great's manifest greatness, says she's her drinking pal.

In the late 1990s, Matthews was perhaps the craziest, most influential player in the hunt against the Clintons and against Candidate Gore, the crazy chase which sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Matthews' behavior was crazy and crazily dishonest for years. A certain unnamed cable host tells us how great he is, and how great a friend!

Lawrence and Brian also played key roles in that crazy, death-dealing chase after Gore. They were being paid at the time by their zillionaire conservative corporate owner, General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

Night after night, Bran ranted and complained about Gore's deeply troubling clothes. Years later, he got canned for making stupid shit up. Lawrence has had to apologize to virtually everyone on the face of the earth, not excluding Donald J. Trump.

The gods must rock with laughter each night, watching this gang of corporate con men hosting on liberal cable. People are dead all over the world because of what Matthews, Williams and O'Donnell did in the twenty-month War Against Gore. Greta played the fool for years, helping Donald J. Trump pimp his birther madness.

An unnamed cable host praises them all. When Trump announced in June 2015, she weirdly assured us that she had nothing against him.

At the same time, she has run from every consequential tribal fight during the eight years of her multimillion-dollar corporate employment. When Comey went after Candidate Clinton last July, he had little to fear from the likes of this car salesman clown.

Last night, we liberals enjoyed the porridge this rogues gallery served. So it has gone for twenty-five years among the pitiful hapless group known as Ridiculous Us, a group best known for spectacular dumbness and, of course, for its tribal certainty that the very dumb and stupid ones can all be found Over There.

Tomorrow: Wonderfully unintentional humor: Completely Ridiculous This

Bloomberg's anonymous source nailed it first!


Or then again, maybe s/he didn't:
Bloomberg had it first.

Whatever those Russkie hackers were trying to do with our voting systems, they tried to do it in 39 states, Bloomberg reported last week:
RILEY AND ROBERTSON (6/13/17): Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.
Bloomberg had three anonymous sources. They said the Russkies were active in 39 states, "almost twice as many states as previously reported!"

Well actually, one of Bloomberg's anonymous sources made that assertion. Bloomberg apparently built its lead around the claim by that one source.

For all we know, that statement may have been accurate. On the other hand, here's the way the Washington Post reported yesterday's hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, hard-copy headline included:
ZAPOTOSKY AND DEMIRJIAN (6/22/17): Hacking attempts on 21 states are tied to Russia

People connected to the Russian government tried to hack election-related computer systems in 21 states,
a Department of Homeland Security official testified Wednesday.

Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, said vote-tallying mechanisms were unaffected and that the hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities—which Liles likened to walking down the street and looking at homes to see who might be inside.

But hackers successfully exploited a “small number” of networks, Liles said, likening the act to making it through a home’s front door.
According to this official source, the actual number was 21 states—roughly half as many states as Bloomberg reported.

At this point, it doesn't matter what the number was. What matters is our ability to stave off some future Election Day disaster.

Does anyone think we'll be able to do that, given the way the culture is descending into tribal division and all-around full-blown nuttiness?

On the other hand, there could be a lesson here about reporting based on anonymous sources. Bloomberg went with what one person said.

Should Bloomberg have done that? To what extent should such reports be trusted?

Final question: Final question, while we're at it, and while we're working the numbers:

How many meetings did Sessions have? That was all entertainment, wasn't it? Entertainment and the exciting tribal chase.

(Based on an unreliable source? By the name of Comey the God?)

The health care confusions that just keep giving!


What Pelosi actually said/Watching Medicaid grow:
Everyone knows it! The Republican health care bill would cut Medicaid badly.

Everyone knows it until they read front-page reports in the New York Times. Yesterday morning, Robert Pear's front-page report started off like this:
PEAR AND STEINHAUER (6/21/17): A growing rift among Senate Republicans over federal spending on Medicaid and the opioid epidemic is imperiling legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that Senate leaders are trying to put to a vote by the end of next week.

President Trump had urged Republican senators to write a more generous bill than a House version that he first heralded and then called “mean,” but Republican leaders on Tuesday appeared to be drafting legislation that would do even more to slow the growth of Medicaid toward the end of the coming decade.
According to the highlighted passage, Medicaid will continue to grow under the Republican plans. They're just slowing the growth of the program!

This is one of the horses we rode in on. In part, we started building this site in 1997 because of the ludicrous Medicare discussion of 1995-1996. During that ludicrous pseudo-discussion, reporters were completely unable to handle this basic question:

Was Newt Gingrich proposing cuts to the Medicare program? Or was he simply reducing the rate at which the program would grow?

That basic question was too hard for the upper-end press corps to handle. Today, major reporters are experiencing the same problems with the GOP Medicaid plan.

This is part of what we mean when we say that our upper-end press corps seems to have virtually no analytical skills at all. People think we're speaking hyperbolically. But actually no—we aren't.

In another highlight, consider Karen Tumulty's report in this morning's Washington Post.

We happen to like the reporter in question. But dear God! This very day, discussing the passage of Obamacare, Tumulty seems to quote "an infamous declaration" by Nancy Pelosi:
TUMULTY (6/22/17): In the end, Democrats got their bill [in 2010], but the legislative maneuvering it took to get it over the finish line was not pretty.

There had been special deals for individual senators that became known as the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made an infamous declaration that spawned a legion of attack ads: “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”
Pelosi's famous "infamous declaration" has been ridiculed forever. According to the standard interpretation, Pelosi, and Democrats generally, didn't even know what was in the mammoth Obamacare bill!

In this morning's report, Tumulty puts a bunch of words inside quotation marks. You'd almost think that she was quoting what Pelosi actually said.

As far as we know, she isn't. There is no link from Tumulty's report to any actual statement by Pelosi. Meanwhile, it has been explained, a million times, that Pelosi's actual statement was different.

Unless Tumulty has some other statement in mind, Pelosi's "infamous declaration" was made in a speech to the National Association of Counties. Speaking about the disinformation being spread about the bill, this is what she said:
PELOSI (3/9/10): You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.

But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.
"But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."

You can watch her say that here.

As usual, Pelosi was less than sharply articulate, even in these prepared remarks. But she was saying that we had to pass the bill so the American people could learn what was in it, aside from all the dissembling—aside from "the fog of controversy" which was being generated by all the partisan dissembling.

In fact, the dissembling never stopped. And this very morning, Tumulty seems to have misquoted Pelosi's actual words, dropped a key phrase, and omitted the basic context.

"Slowing the rate of growth" is one of the horses we rode in on. (The Lincoln Bedroom was another.) Soon after arriving, we spent years watching the press corps misquote and misparaphrase Candidate Gore, with disastrous consequences for the U.S. and entire world.

Ridiculous Us were too dumb and compliant to complain about these things when they were actually happening. We've been too lazy and dumb to establish the history of these events in the years since. We'd rather spend our time dropping R-bombs on Them. That's easier and more fun.

Today, twenty years later, we still live in the journalistic land of "slowing the rate of growth," and in the land of the massaged pseudo-quotation. On cable, our biggest stars mug and clown and entertain us, then stuff millions of dollars into their pants.

We tell them how great we think they are. It's all part of the way we lose. It's the soul of Ridiculous Us.

RIDICULOUS US: Heroic behavior produces an answer!


Part 3—Cable star praises herself:
Yay yay yay yay yay!

Last night, we received the latest tale of the heroism being performed by an unnamed cable news star.

The heroism was described by the cable star herself. The report came near the end of her cable news program.

Heroism is in short supply in these final days. For that reason, we'll post the full text of the star's report, her third on this silly faux topic.

As you may know, the star has been chasing some shifty behavior by Vice President Pence. Her work has been drenched in insinuation, innuendo and dissembling, all aimed at the diminishing brain cells of the group called Ridiculous Us.

By last night, the cable star had finally gotten some answers to her silly "questions." Liberal brain cells screamed in pain as she heaped praise on herself.

Mugging and clowning and working the grift, the cable star started as shown below. To watch this performance, click here:
MADDOW (6/21/17): We have an answer. We have an answer. We have an answer.

I told you we would eventually get an answer on this, and we have now got it! All right.

Since last week, we have been asking, What on earth is Vice President Mike Pence doing in this picture?


This single picture, which he tweeted, has been the only glimpse we had of a fund-raiser that he held in Indiana on Friday, a fund-raiser for his brand-new PAC!

Now, it's strange enough for a sitting vice president to have a political action committee of his own. That is very unusual.
But what does Mike Pence intend to do with the money his PAC has, the money that he's now raising for his PAC?
Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay yay!

We finally had an answer to the cable star's question! We finally have an answer to this:

What does Pence intend to do with the money his PAC will raise?

In truth, the cable star was simplifying her story just a tad. In fact, when Pence's PAC was created last month, Pence announced that the money he raised would be used to support Republican candidates.

PAC money is routinely used in such ways. The excited star has persistently excluded these facts from her silly reports.

That said, you can probably see the insinuations floating in last night's report. "What on earth" was Pence doing in that photograph? So the star suspiciously asked.

In fact, Pence appeared to be speaking to a group, something that's commonly done. But the cable star won't stop suggesting that something nefarious was going on as Pence so strangely did this.

What was Pence doing in that photo? Finally, the cable star said, we finally have the answer! As her self-glorying story continued, so did her dumb remarks, aimed directly at the brain cells of Ridiculous Us:
MADDOW (continuing directly): The reason I've been asking is in part because of the timing. Because on Thursday last week, that's when Mike Pence announced that he had hired a top-shelf, A-list, private lawyer to personally represent him in the Trump/Russia investigation.

Then the very next day, on Friday, there he was, in Indiana, very quietly holding a top-dollar fund-raiser, not for the Republican Party or for any active candidates in the elections, but for his new PAC, with tickets going for $1000 to $5000 a plate.

What's that money for? Is the vice president conceivably going around the country quietly raising money to pay for his own legal bills? That's an expensive lawyer he just hired.

Nobody from the vice president's PAC would tell us. The vice president's own spokesperson would not say one way or the other. All we had was this one picture and a whole bunch of our unreturned e-mails.
Speculation is her! As she'd done in her first two reports (links below), she imagined that Pence might be "going around the country quietly raising money to pay for his own legal bills."

There would be nothing wrong with something like that, of course, but the cable star made it sound nefarious, slick and slippery. Was Pence "going around the country" doing some such thing? This speculation was based on one fundraiser, held in Pence's home town.

Meanwhile, the star killed brain cells with her comment about that suspicious timing. We were supposed to imagine—what?

Pence hired a lawyer on Thursday, then was magically staging a fundraiser the very next night? Is that how it seemed to the star?

(We remind you that Pence's intention of raising funds was announced last month, when his PAC came into being. We don't know why it would seem surprising to see the fundraising start.)

Meanwhile, tickets to the fundraiser had gone for as much as $5000! This is about as surprising as learning that water is wet, unless your brain cells have been destroyed by an array of slippery cable stars.

Mike Pence had hired an expensive lawyer! Would he use PAC money to pay his fees? For reasons she'd never quite explained, the cable star had been feigning interest in this utterly trivial question since last Friday night.

And dear God! "Nobody from the vice president's PAC would tell us," the cable star now confessed.

Could it be they wouldn't tell her last week because no decision had yet been reached? Could it be they simply had enough sense to avoid this horrible star?

There's no way to answer those questions. But finally, yay! Showering herself with praise, letting us enjoy her snark, the giant star let us know what the answer to her pointless question had "finally" turned out to be.

For the record, the first statement we highlight below is an example of cable gong-show culture at its magnificent dumbest. You're being told that the cable star believes your IQ is 9:
MADDOW (continuing directly): Today, we tried again. At 1:18 p.m. Eastern Time, we wrote to Mike Pence's personal lawyer, explaining that we really would like an answer to this question.

Then, at 3:45 p.m., a couple hours later, the Wall Street Journal published an answer to our question. No, Mike Pence will not be paying his legal bills with money from his PAC. That sort of seemed to be the plan as of last week, but it is apparently officially not the plan anymore.

So now we've got an answer. It still leaves the question of how Mike Pence, who is not Mr. Money Bags, how he is going to pay for the powerhouse new lawyer he just hired, who's got experience incidentally in Watergate [CHUCKLING] and Iran-Contra.

That lawyer, Richard Cullen, told us very politely today that he doesn't like getting into the details about how his clients are going to pay his firm. Nobody else will say.
The cable star sent her question "to Pence's personal lawyer?" As if he was going to answer the question about how he would get paid!

Reading that silly confession, you finally know what it is to be thoroughly played by a cable news clown! In fairness, though, the cable star finally had the answer she'd sought:

Pence won't be using money from his PAC to pay his legal fees! At last, we finally knew!

Even here, the slippery star couldn't leave simple facts alone. "That sort of seemed to be the plan as of last week," she disingenuously said. Can you feel your brain cells dying as you get talked to that way?

The cable star kept snarking at Pence as she continued. Pence "is not Mr. Money Bags," she said, forgetting to tell us that she herself does belong to that class, thanks to her corporate clowning.

Once again, she reminded us of how "expensive" that "top-shelf, A-list, powerhouse" lawyer is. And she added the requisite reference:

Hint hint hint hint hit hint hint! The expensive lawyer "got experience incidentally in Watergate and Iran-Contra!"

As she finished her report, the corporate star of whom we speak ever-so-briefly cited some real information. Then, she quickly went back on the clown:
MADDOW (continuing directly): We also heard from an expert in these matters, Craig Holman, at Public Citizen. He says the vice president has a couple of clear choices for getting the money he's going to need to pay for his expensive lawyer. He could start a legal defense fund, the way Bill Clinton did, or he could ask permission from the FEC to use Trump/Pence campaign money.

It may be worth noting here that the president not only funded much of his campaign last year, though not to the extent he promised, he also re-upped the campaign on Inauguration Day. Donald J. Trump for President Inc. is open for business. The president's re-election campaign already exists, and that campaign did announce a new fund-raiser this afternoon at the president's own Trump hotel in D.C. That's set for Wednesday, a week from tonight, a high-dollar donor fund-raiser.

If anybody happens to notice a tip jar at that fund-raiser for Mike Pence's legal fees—


Please let us know.
In one brief shining moment, the cable clown mentioned the fact that politicians have various ways to pay legal fees of this type, especially if the fees become extremely large. (At this point, there is no reason to assume that this will be the case with Pence.)

Who knew! Politicians can start a legal defense fund, or perhaps use campaign money! The star had done two previous reports on this invented topic without stooping to mention such facts.

Wonderfully, though, she ended with snark. Yay yay yay, we dumbly said, as she snarked at Pence with her wonderful "tip jar" jibe.

The cable star who delivered this nonsense is a multimillionaire corporate employee. Your brain cells die, she gets a raise. This is the gong show she's chosen!

Today, she sits at the head of a deeply ridiculous "cable news" prime time lineup. With the exception of Chris Hayes, her colleagues' past behaviors identify them as a rogues' gallery of journalistic misconduct.

The big star praises each one. The prime enabler of Trump's birtherism turns out to be her drinking buddy! Please please please watch her wonderful show, the cable news star once implored.

Tomorrow, we'll run through the truly ridiculous prime time lineup aimed at Ridiculous Us. Your nation's culture is coming apart. These people have been among the architects of our disastrous decline.

Tomorrow: Past work by the star's pals

Completing the rule of three: The cable star has aired three reports on this invented topic. The first report was especially slimy. Why not watch all three?

For last Friday's segment, just click here.

On Monday night, we got a second dose of this bullshit.

Last night completed the rule of three. The nonsense can be seen here.

All three "reports" were wonderfully faux. This helps explain the haplessness of the group called Ridiculous Us.