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Happy July 4th!

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steveheimoff.com resumes publication tomorrow. Party safe!


Repubs about to repeal and replace, while Trump tells another lie

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Just last month, following the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act, we saw Donald J. Trump hold a celebratory fiesta at the White House. Grinning and high-fiving, Trump and the Republicans touted it as following through on their campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. This picture

shows how smug and self-satisfied they were, sipping cold beer in the Rose Garden, as Michael Pence bragged, “Welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.”

That was on May 4. Now, just six weeks later, we have the Senate on the verge—apparently—of passing its version of the Act, a version said to be not as harsh on the poor and elderly, due to the need to get the votes of Republican “moderates” like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. And what is Trump’s attitude? Now, he “clearly” wants a health care bill with “heart,” Sean Spicer said yesterday, a few days after reports that Trump had called the original House version “mean.”

Okay, let’s get this straight. Trump liked the House version enough to invite House Repubs to his little party. That was then. Now, when the Senate is supposedly softening it a little, he decides it’s “mean.”

Make sense?

Some will claim this is Donald Trump’s attempt to play what some pundits have called “three-dimensional chess” (or, in some accounts, four-dimensional chess). What this means, explains the conservative National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, is that Trump is playing ten moves ahead…that he’s brilliantly distracting the media by creating this or that controversy.” As the website Know Your Meme puts it, “’Trump is Playing 4D Chess’ is an expression used by supporters…when speculating that his campaign is using advanced political strategies to manipulate and dominate the news media.”

The expression, which originated in a Dilbert cartoon, suggests that Trump is a super-brilliant strategist able to think in ways that are far superior to conventional political thinkers, using techniques of contradiction and obfuscation to achieve his goals. Certainly there is contradiction aplenty in him calling the House bill “mean” after praising it—although “hypocrisy” might be a more apt term. But I think his reasoning is far simpler than “four-dimensional chess.”

In fact, his motive is pretty obvious. With record low poll numbers—even Republican support for him is plummeting—Trump realizes he needs to change people’s perception of him as a blithering idiot. In his own analysis, he thinks the public perceives him as “mean,” as well they might, given the insults he routinely hurls at everyone he resents. He knows, also, that the public is scared to death of the American Health Care Act, which will toss tens of millions of people off healthcare, and cause drug prices and premiums to spiral. He’s got to neutralize that perception—or, to be exact, the perception not of the actual bill’s effects, but the perception of himself as uncaring. What better way to do that than to criticize his fellow Republicans as mean? Maybe some low information voters will think, “Hey, Trump can’t be that bad, if he’s sticking up for the little people against those mean Republicans.”

Trump’s stunt is phony as hell. It’s a smokescreen and a distraction and it’s not likely to work. But wait, there’s more, and it has to do with Trump’s pathological lying. He uses words differently from you and me. We all know he means nothing he says, or at least, very little; and even if he does mean something he says today, he can turn 180 degrees tomorrow and feel no shame—perhaps not even remember his flip-flop. What I’m getting at is that, when there is a bill he signs, even if it’s worse than the original House version, Trump will claim that, because of him, it has more “heart” and is in fact filled with heartful, healthful benefits for the American people. Great benefits! Incredible benefits! You’ll love it! It will be one more lie—but his credible voters will buy it, as they have willingly accepted every previous lie he’s told.


The Republican’s hillbilly problem

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After Trump’s disastrous defeat over the weekend, with more catastrophes for him almost sure to occur, the national conversation now turns to how Democrats can regroup for the 2018 elections and beyond.

One heated topic is “the hillbilly” problem. Hillbillies were traditionally rural inhabitants in eastern and southern U.S. regions of the Ozarks and Appalachians. Nowadays, they can live anywhere. I think of the movie Deliverance—the simple-minded albino kid playing his banjo, and the two psychos who raped Ned Beatty in the woods. Among many Americans, there’s always been a certain looking-down-upon condescension towards hillbillies: they’re white, uneducated, prone to violence, love guns, racist and hate “gummint.”.

One meme surrounding Trump’s election is that he was voted in by just these hillbillies, a fact alluded to by Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment. Ironically, there also is in this country what we might call a “hillbilly pride” movement, in which these people—sometimes also called “rednecks” or “white trash”—self-identify with concepts like rugged individualism, not relying on the government, working hard, religiosity of the Christian variety, various forms of xenophobia and racism, and patriotism. Their music is country music, their politics (to the extent they vote) rightwing. And yet, these proud hillbillies have their own form of condescension: against “city folk” or “coastal elites” whom they deem “liberal” (a disparaging term), arrogant, effete, spoiled, entitled, naive and possibly communistic.

Another meme following the election is that Democrats have to do a better job of reaching out to these hillbillies. According to this analysis, the party, and the Clinton campaign, ignored them in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. As a result, these dispossessed farmers and assembly line workers revolted, voting for Trump in a sharp rebuke of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. To hear some tell it, Democrats must now figure out a way to regain the trust of these hillbillies.

I strongly disagree. Had a mere 70,000 votes switched in the three states I just mentioned, Hillary would have won. As it was, she took the popular vote in a landslide: 3,000,000. Had Democrats been better at getting out the vote, especially in key districts, particularly among Blacks, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because Hillary would be President and Trump would still be groping pussy. As for those 70,000 voters, my considered sense is that they’re beyond civil conversation. They’re so stubborn, so resentful, so low information, you just can’t get through to the rational part of their brains. They don’t analyze issues; they live in their Fox “News” and right wing talk radio bubbles, and don’t even know that the Republican Party is shafting them. (How many hillbillies did Trump ever invite to Mar-a-Lago? He wouldn’t have been caught dead socializing with them.) I used to try to reason with these people. Now, I no longer bother. Why bang your head against the wall?

So for me, 2018 is all about turnout. America has always been a Democratic country; when we actually get people to vote, we win. When we don’t, for whatever reason, the bad guys win. I have no desire whatsoever to “reach out” to the hillbillies and rednecks. I do expect, on the other hand, that those “moderate” Republicans with some education who voted for Trump are watching developments closely and witnessing the debacle of this regime.

You know, on my Facebook feed there are a couple pro-Trump people who put up ridiculous claims about him along the lines of “Promises made, promises kept.” I don’t think they can do that anymore. He promised the Wall would go up and Mexico would pay for it. Lie. He promised he’d ban all Muslims from entering this country. Lie. He promised he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something better. Lie. Now, he’s promising some sort of fantastical tax “reform” by which taxes on billionaires like himself plummet, even as he spends $1 trillion on infrastructure, and we’re supposed to believe it will somehow result in a balanced budget? This is not only a lie, it’s a pathological lie.

The hillbillies will never understand this. They don’t want to, and you can’t make a crazy person sane. For that reason—as the guys on Shark Tank say—“I’m out.” I don’t care about hillbillies. I don’t care about reaching out to them. I care about beating them.


So what does Comey get for helping get Trump elected?

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We found out yesterday that the FBI has been investigating possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign since last July—8 months ago—and we got that from the mouth of the FBI director himself, James Comey. He told the House Intelligence Committee how loathe he is to admit or deny the existence of an investigation but, in this case, due to the intense national interest, he felt compelled to do so.

Fine. But there’s a teeny weeny little problem with Comey’s position: He publicly announced the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server one week before the election, while it was still ongoing, only to be forced, days later, to say, in essence, “Oops, forget it. She didn’t do anything wrong.” By that time, the damage was done. Enough swing voters decided at the last minute not to vote for Hillary—an understandable decision, if they thought she was about to be indicted—and Donald J. Trump won.

So how does Comey square this circle? He claims he never talks about investigations while they’re ongoing—yet he did with Hillary–and then he talks about his Trump investigation, eight months in, but only the most historic duress. Was he under duress a week before Election Day to kill Hillary’s chances? If he was, from whom?

Comey cannot square this circle. This man has painted himself into a corner from which escape is not possible. But let us put ourselves into his head and imagine what he’s thinking.

Comey to self: “Sure, I’ve done something reprehensible. I wanted Trump to win, and I did what I had to, even though it cost me many friends and, probably, my reputation. But so what? I still have my job—Trump wouldn’t dare fire me. And when I leave, in 2023, I’ll be able to name my price. Maybe Goldman Sachs: I’m told they’ll pay me $10 million a year. Let’s see: reputation versus ten mil. What will it be? Hmm, give me a second. Okay, second’s up: Ten mil it is!”

There was much talk during the hearings of how many dots there are leading from Trump and his campaign and associates all the way to the Kremlin. Adam Schiff pointed them out; so did André Duncan, the Democrat from Indiana, with whom I was particularly impressed. The question is if the dots are connected, or just a coincidence. Nobody knows the answer, yet. But I went through Watergate, followed it intensely. Lots of dots there too. Nobody knew how they were connected for a couple of years, until dogged reporting, followed by Congressional hearings and a Special Prosecutor Republicans did not want but could no longer avoid, connected them. As it turned out, they led all the way to the Oval Office—and we know how that ended.

Yesterday’s hearing was very significant. Trump will fight this every inch of the way, using his usual methods of lies, smears and disinformation. His credulous, low-information supporters might even buy it. But I believe that the end game is coming, and it will bring him down, as well as many of his associates. As for Comey’s post-Trump career, let him make his millions. His grandchildren will have to live with the legacy that their grandpa sold his soul to the devil and immeasurably harmed America.


Trump considering big changes in U.S. policing

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President Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon, his senior advisor who also sits on the National Security Council, have proposed to the President a massive change in the way that American law enforcement agencies are organized, according to Breitbart News, which first broke the story.

The President is considering merging the country’s police departments, which have traditionally been under the control of local jurisdictions such as cities and towns, with state Highway Patrols and county Sheriffs’ Departments, into a single, unified domestic security agency. The new force would be housed within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The combined force, to be called the Head Office for Security (HOS), would report directly to Homeland Security director John F. Kelly, but its operational head would be Henry Hammler, 57, a longtime aide to Bannon when the latter was head of Breitbart News. Hammler, a former poultry farmer and Army major, served in a non-combat capacity in the 1983 invasion of Grenada under former President Ronald Reagan.

According to sources, the HOS would be divided into two sections: an administrative wing and a financial wing. The proposed head of the administrative wing is said to be Richard Heydrich, a nephew of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher currently on trial for taking over Federal land. Leading the financial wing would be Dr. Julius W. Streicher, most recently a senior vice president for political affairs at Goldman Sachs.

An insider, who did not want to be named, told Breitbart that Flynn and Bannon proposed the change in order to streamline the nation’s multi-layered security apparatus, to allow President Trump “greater flexibility in determining how to deal with threats to national security, both foreign and domestic.” Since taking office, Trump is known to have complained about how complicated law enforcement in the U.S. is, with dozens of competing agencies, ranging from town constables to National Guards to the Central Intelligence Agency. According to the source, “He [Trump] wants to be able to give an order and have it apply anywhere and everywhere, instantly, without getting hung up in the bureaucracy.”

The idea of merging local and state police forces with federal security forces, without judicial enforcement, has generally been shunned in democracies, although it is standard practice in countries such as Zimbabwe and North Korea. In the West, the last time such forces were joined into a single entity, under the supreme authority of a leader, was in 1939, in Germany, when Adolf Hitler merged all law enforcement agencies into his Head Office for Reich Security.

The source said that at a recent meeting of the National Security Council, where the idea was discussed, Trump insisted that the new HOS would not be anything like Hitler’s Nazi regime. “That’s stupid,” Trump was reported to have replied when unidentified members of the N.S.C. questioned him about it. “This is nothing like the Nazis. Hitler was insane—although I do respect his ability to bring Germany together. Our new Head Office for Security will be completely different, that I can tell you.”

The changes would have to be approved by Congress. According to Breitbart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, when asked about the proposed changes, said he was not familiar with the plan. “I haven’t seen details yet. But President Trump is in the best position to determine how best to protect the people of the United States from harm, and if that’s something he feels is in the national interest, I’m sure that patriots in the House and Senate will be open to it.”

Trump is said to be anticipating fast approval of the new HOS and has even begun thinking about a new look for its officers. The source said that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who has run her own fashion company, is designing a uniform for high rankers. “Ivanka loves black for sheer elegance, but she’s concerned that all-black might be too severe,” the source said, adding, “She wants hints of color, but she doesn’t want it to look frivolous.”

This blog has obtained an exclusive sketch of Ivanka’s design, below. Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s senior counsel, told me that the cross-like figure on the hat “is not a religious reference. Don’t be so dramatic. It’s a ‘T’. For ‘Trump.’”

 


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