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  1. Donald Trump reveals how he outsmarted James Comey with pretend tapes 'it wasn't very stupid'

    Donald Trump was interviewed about Thursday’s tweet, issued at prime distract-from-horrible-Senate-healthcare-bill time, saying that he never had any recordings of his conversations with James Comey. In this interview, Trump issues a declaration of just how smart him be.

    As with most Trump explanations, this one first needs to be translated into English.

    Trump: Well I didn’t tape him. Uh. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all this unmasking and, uh, surveillance, and you read all about it—and I’ve been reading all about it for the last couple of months. About the seriousness of the … And horrible situation with the surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word ‘unmasking’ — a word you probably never heard before. So you don’t know what’s out there. 

    Translation: I worry that Barack Obama is under my desk.

    Trump: But I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape. And I didn’t tape. 

    Translation: I totally taped him.

    Trump then goes on to say that he thinks Comey may have changed his story. This prompts an assist from his chirpy Fox & Friends of Donald Trump interviewer who praises Trump for pretending to have tapes. Sorry, “Tapes.”

    Fox: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings!

    Trump: Well … uh. It wasn’t … uh. It wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.

    That’s right. Donald Trump trapped James Comey into being honest … by lying. Him not stupid!

  2. In a strong statement, AARP vows to 'hold all 100 Senators accountable' for health care bill

    When the Republicans finally released their secretive wealthcare bill yesterday, several horrible elements immediately jumped out, many or most of them affecting citizens 46 years of age and older. Wealthcare bill provisions would decimate Medicaid, which 64% of nursing home residents rely on. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions, something that would affect an estimated 130 million Americans, many over the age of 50 years old. And finally, the wealthcare bill includes an “age tax” that would mean beginning at age 46 years old, insurance companies could begin charging up to five times more than premiums for younger people:

    The AHCA would raise that limit: Premiums for older people could jump to five times the amount insurers charge younger consumers, from the limit of three times the younger consumers’ rate under the current law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Such a change would significantly increase financial burdens on millions of older adults, but the shift in costs would do little to get more young consumers to enroll.

    Needless to say, this will have a dramatic effect on the 38 million members of AARP and they released a very strong statement vowing to hold all 100 senators accountable for their vote:

    “This new Senate bill was crafted in secrecy behind closed doors without a single hearing or open debate—and it shows. The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them. AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.    

    “AARP is also deeply concerned that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid funding that would strip health coverage from millions of low-income and vulnerable Americans who depend on the coverage, including 17 million poor seniors and children and adults with disabilities. The proposed Medicaid cuts would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors’ ability to live in their homes and communities.

  3. Cartoon: Friend or foe

    U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is getting curiouser and curiouser. Soon after President Trump’s recent visit, a major rift happened between Saudi Arabia and Qatar (among others). Trump came out firmly in support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. If you were just getting a handle on the various Sunni and Shiite players, now add in a rift between Sunni nations.  

    The Middle East’s already-complicated foreign policy picture just got decidedly more complicated. The Saudi royals and Trump explain the Qatar rift as being all about terrorism and Islamic extremism, but Saudi Wahhabism is not exactly a model of religious tolerance and democracy. Hmmm, could there be a business angle to this entire confusing mess?

    If Qatar is so evil, then why is the U.S. Navy conducting joint training exercises with them right now? It seems that the White House and the Pentagon aren’t on the same page when it comes to foreign policy. Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the cartoon. (And be sure to visit me over on Patreon!)

  4. Here's why disabled people faced arrest to protest Medicaid cuts: Their lives were at stake

    Thursday, protesters with disabilities gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to stage a die-in calling attention to Trumpcare’s massive cuts to Medicaid. It was a shocking scene as Capitol police dragged them away and arrested them. But when you find out what was at stake, it’s clear why people would risk harm and arrest to protest this. The foundation of millions of people’s ability to live independent lives is at stake, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains:

    People with disabilities account for more than 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries under age 65.  Nationwide, nearly 13 million non-elderly Americans with disabilities receive health coverage through Medicaid, including more than 2 million children. Nearly half of non-elderly people with disabilities have their health care covered through Medicaid. 

    Medicaid is crucial for people with disabilities. It provides comprehensive health benefits and serves as the primary payer for essential long-term services and supports that help people with disabilities stay independent in their homes. Many of these long-term care services are unavailable through private insurance and are too costly for all but the wealthiest people to fund out of pocket, such as personal and attendant care services. Medicaid can also cover wheelchairs, lifts, and case management services. And Medicaid can help people with disabilities find and hold jobs. A number of states provide supportive employment programs through Medicaid that offer services to help people with disabilities join the workforce.

    For many, Medicaid cuts would mean being forced out of their homes and into institutions:

    The House bill would place a fixed cap on per-beneficiary federal Medicaid funding, cutting federal funding to the states by growing amounts over time. This would force many states to make excruciating decisions on whom they cover, the benefits they provide, and how much they pay providers, and likely would jeopardize coverage and care for vulnerable populations that Medicaid covers. People with disabilities who rely on Medicaid-funded services to avoid having to live in a nursing home or other institution would be among those hit hardest. The House bill’s cuts would likely prompt many states to roll back their progress in expanding access to care in the community and prevent them from making more progress in the future. That’s because unlike most services in Medicaid, which states must cover, most home- and community-based services are optional Medicaid benefits that states can cut when they face funding shortfalls.

  5. Republicans blocked President Obama from telling the public about Russian actions to help Trump

    Donald Trump asks the question frequently, and always with a sneer: If President Barack Obama knew that Vladimir Putin had intervened in the United States’ election with the direct intention of helping Trump, why did Obama wait so long to say anything? The answer detailed in a new story from the Washington Post turns out to be simple: First, Obama was trying to do the right things. Second, Republicans stopped that from happening.

    As former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified earlier this week, the Russian activity in the election went beyond just hacking into emails, beyond distributing those emails through Wikileaks, and beyond creating a stream of fake-news stories that were eagerly shared by alt-right websites and social media. Russia took unprecedented “active measures,” attempting to penetrate state databases and alter or delete voter roles.

    It was tantamount a secret declaration of war by Russia, and the Obama administration treated it the security and care that it deserved.

    Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. …

    The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid.

    At that early stage, they couldn’t tell the full extent of the Russian operations. They didn’t know the scale of the attack. They couldn’t tell who in the United States might be cooperating with the Russians. They could only be certain about one thing.

    The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.