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What John McCain Gets Wrong About Trump’s Nationalism

By Peter Beinart

Being a liberal in the Donald Trump era is tricky. On the one hand, you’re grateful for any conservative who denounces the president’s authoritarian lies. On the other, you can’t help but notice that many of the conservatives who condemn Trump most passionately—Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, Michael Gerson, Jennifer Rubin—remain wedded to the foreign policy legacy of George W. Bush. And in criticizing Trump’s amoral “isolationism,” they backhandedly defend the disastrous interventionism that helped produce his presidency in the first place.

The godfather of this brand of hawkish, anti-Trump conservatism is John McCain. Sure, McCain—being a Republican Senator—doesn’t condemn Trump as forthrightly as his “neoconservative” allies in the press. But the terms of his critique are similar.

Look at his speech on Tuesday after being awarded the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal. In a clear swipe at Trump, McCain warned that, “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad.”

As a man, McCain is as honorable as Trump is dishonorable. But this narrative is false. The last seventy-five years of American foreign policy are not the story of a country consistently pursuing democratic ideals, only to see them undermined now by a fearful “blood and …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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A Bipartisan Obamacare Breakthrough

By Russell Berman

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Congress may fix what President Trump tried to break.

Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Patty Murray of Washington state announced a tentative agreement on Tuesday that would shore up Obamacare’s shaky insurance exchanges, offering the first glimmer of bipartisan dealmaking after months of GOP attempts to rip out the law.

The accord between Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate health committee, and Murray, the panel’s top Democrat, would restore for two years the payments to insurance companies that Trump cancelled last week. And in what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described as “anti-sabotage provisions,” the deal would also force the administration to spend $106 million in funds that it cut from outreach programs to encourage enrollment in the health law’s exchanges.

In exchange, Democrats agreed to expand eligibility for cheaper, catastrophic insurance plans and to make it easier for states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s regulations—while still protecting the law’s core protections for people with preexisting conditions and the requirement that insurers cover essential health benefits.

“Overall we are very pleased with this agreement,” Schumer told reporters. After a lunchtime briefing from Murray, Schumer said there was broad support among Democrats for the deal. But more importantly, it appeared to win an endorsement from Trump just days after he scrapped the very payments—which he derided as an insurer bailout—the senators are trying to restore. “It will get us over the immediate hump,” the president said when asked about the agreement at a White House press conference. “It is a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period,” he added, while insisting that Republicans would continue trying to replace the law entirely.

Alexander and Murray have been negotiating for more than a month, since the GOP’s plan to repeal …read more

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How Trump Changed the Topic to Obama’s Consolation Calls

By David A. Graham

With the political press in a volley of anonymous leaks and counterleaks about how Barack Obama did or did not console John Kelly after his son’s death, it’s important to reflect on how we got here—and what it shows about President Trump’s methods of controlling the media and the news cycle.

First, a brief timeline. On October 4, four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, a country where the United States is not formally at war, and where American troops were supposedly in an advisory and training role. For 12 days, Trump said nothing about the deaths, even as he opined about plenty of other things. The White House was not forthcoming with information, either.

On Monday, Trump threw an impromptu press conference, and was asked about the deaths. “Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the Soldiers that were killed in Niger? And what do you have to say about that?” a reporter asked.

Reading that question charitably, the reporter wanted to know both why the voluble Trump had been so quiet and also what had happened to the soldiers and why they were on patrol in Niger. But Trump took it only to have the first meaning, and as an affront. He reacted somewhat defensively, comparing himself—as he is wont to do—to previous presidents:

I’ve written them personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they’re going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families—because I have done that, traditionally. I felt very, very badly …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Trump’s Nominee for Drug Czar Is Out

By Russell Berman

President Trump’s pick to be White House drug czar, Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, withdrew his name from consideration on Tuesday following the publication of a critical news report. It detailed how a law he wrote at the behest of pharmaceutical distributors has made it harder for the federal government to combat the opioid epidemic.

Trump announced Marino’s withdrawal on Twitter, calling him “a fine man and a great congressman!” His exit seemed likely after the president repeatedly declined to give him a vote of confidence during a press conference on Monday.

The fourth-term Republican congressman had been at the center of a joint investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” that seemed to have all the elements of the D.C. “swamp” culture Trump has pledged to drain. Former top officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration alleged that a law Congress wrote and passed without significant public debate effectively stripped the agency of its power to go after opioid distributors who turned a blind eye to suspicious sales, which poured millions of prescription pain pills into U.S. cities and towns.

The whistleblowers, led by the former head of the agency’s Office of Diversion Control, pinned much of the blame on ex-DEA officials who passed through the Beltway’s infamous “revolving door” and became highly-paid industry lobbyists. But it was Marino, a former prosecutor, who introduced and shepherded to passage the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which raised the standard for the DEA to be able to suspend shady drug shipments. The Post and “60 Minutes” reported that the text of the bill was actually written by a former senior lawyer at the DEA, and Marino overcame objections from the agency and the Justice Department to get a version of the legislation passed by Congress and signed …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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What Hollywood Forgets About LBJ

By Julian E. Zelizer

President Lyndon Johnson has enjoyed a remarkable run in Hollywood. Next month, the most recent addition to the fictional canon will be Rob Reiner’s LBJ, a movie starring Woody Harrelson as the oversized Texan who dominated American political life like almost no one else in the 1960s. Reiner’s film revolves around Johnson’s transition from serving as a frustrated vice president to becoming the president in November 1963 following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The film culminates with the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 that desegregated public accommodations in the South. Like many recent films on LBJ, Harrelson plays Johnson as crass and ugly, but also as a politician whose heart was in the right place on the key domestic issue of the time.

In certain respects, producers, directors, writers, and actors who tend to lean toward the left have treated their work of this president as part of a broader effort to rescue American liberalism from its worst mistakes, to capture the hope that existed with Johnson’s White House in 1964 and 1965 before it was overwhelmed by Vietnam.

The irony for anyone who had been alive in the tumultuous Age of Aquarius is how easy it has become for intelligent audiences to forget the issue that loomed largest in the dark days of 1968: Vietnam.

The effort to save Lyndon Johnson “the southern liberal” from Lyndon Johnson “the war monger” started back in the 1970s. Films have undertaken a heroic effort to remind audiences of the progressive vision that shaped LBJ when he finally reached the Oval Office. In the 1978 television film King, LBJ was played by Warren Kemmerling as a shrewd politician who helped guide Martin Luther King Jr. toward the kind of grass-roots activities that would pressure Congress into voting for civil-rights legislation. In Lee …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Great Undoer

By David A. Graham

Last week was a banner week for Donald Trump—after the first week of his presidency, perhaps the most productive, at least in terms of raw political accomplishments.

The two big headlines, pulling the plug on subsidies in Obamacare insurance markets and tossing the Iran nuclear deal to Congress, are both highly fraught. Yet with these two decisions, President Trump has brought himself closer to following through on major campaign promises than nearly anything else he has done as president.

There are two notable things about the moves. First, they are both incomplete. President Trump has neither repealed and replaced Obamacare, nor has he shredded the Iran deal. Second, they have real potential downsides. Ending the Obamacare subsidies could end with millions of people losing their health insurance, a disaster both moral and, potentially, political. And decertifying the Iran deal could allow it to build nuclear weapons, and undermine American credibility in the Middle East and beyond for decades to come. Taken together, though, they show how Trump’s accomplishments at this stage in his presidency are almost entirely destructive, rather than constructive. Trump made his reputation as a builder, but he’s made demolition his mode in the White House.

Trump has not yet found a way to get Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Several attempts by lawmakers came to naught—and although it’s still possible that leaders in the House and Senate could try to revive repeal, neither leaders nor rank and file seemed eager to fight another bruising internecine fight, and the repeal effort only went as long as it did because Trump almost single-handedly willed it to do …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Best Frenemies

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

During a news conference, President Trump said he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are “closer than ever before” and are working together to push the GOP agenda forward. Trump also said he’ll “be looking into” Representative Tom Marino, his drug czar nominee, after a report found the lawmaker helped pass a law hampering efforts to slow the opioid epidemic. U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years, pleaded guilty to desertion. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a major case dealing with digital privacy and the Fourth Amendment. Astronomers detected the merging of two neutron stars for the first time.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Ethics Questions: Manhattan’s district attorney is under fire for donations he received during his campaigns, highlighting a key problem with America’s system of electing its prosecutors. (Matt Ford)

  • Older and Wiser?: Some young members of Congress are growing impatient with their older colleagues, many of whom are well past retirement age and determinted to stay in office. (Michelle Cottle)

  • The Power of #MeToo: On Sunday, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to tweet #MeToo if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, and by Monday morning, the hashtag had been tweeted nearly half a million times. (Sophie Gilbert)

Follow stories throughout the day with our )

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Why Hasn’t Trump Addressed U.S. Casualties in Niger?

By David A. Graham

On October 4, four American Special Forces soldiers were killed during an operation in Niger. Since then, the White House has been notably tight-lipped about the incident. During a press conference Monday afternoon, 12 days after the deaths, President Trump finally made his first public comments, but the remarks—in which he admitted he had not yet spoken with the families and briefly attacked Barack Obama—did little to clarify what happened or why the soldiers were in Niger.

Trump spoke at the White House after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and was asked why he hadn’t spoken about deaths of Sergeant La David Johnson and Staff Sergeants Bryan Black, Dustin Wright, and Jeremiah Johnson.

“I’ve written them personal letters,” Trump said. “They’ve been sent out or they’re going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will at some point during the period of time call the parents, or the families. Because I have done that traditionally. I felt very, very badly about that. It’s the toughest call—the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens. Soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now it gets to a point where you make four or five of them in one day, it’s very very tough. For me that’s the toughest.”

Those comments join Trump with many of his predecessors, who have also spoken publicly about the burden of sending troops into battle, and the wrenching process of speaking with the families of slain servicemembers. But then Trump went on to suggest that other presidents hadn’t done what he did.

“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls,” he said. “I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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A Remarriage of Convenience Between Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell

By Russell Berman

The drab White House briefing room is no place for a wedding, so on Monday afternoon, President Trump and Mitch McConnell headed to the Rose Garden to renew their vows.

“My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding, has been outstanding,” the president said about the Senate majority leader whom he had spent the late summer attacking and who his former chief strategist is now trying to depose. “This man,” Trump said, pointing to McConnell, “is going to get it done.”

For 40 minutes, the two Republican men stood side by side outside the White House, sharing a microphone and a message—and even, once or twice, smiling at each other. Trump praised McConnell for delivering to him the unsung success of his presidency with the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice and several more young conservative jurists who likely will extend his legacy decades beyond the end of his term. McConnell returned the compliment in a way the president in particular would appreciate: by countering the rampant media reports about acrimony between them. “We’ve been friends and acquaintances for some time,” the Kentuckian asserted. “Contrary to what some of you may have reported, we are together totally on this agenda to move America forward.”

Never in modern times has a president had to so publicly make amends with a congressional leader of his own party. But then again, rarely has a president gone so far out of his way to antagonize an ally who is so crucial to his own success.

“Mitch, get back to work,” Trump snapped at McConnell over Twitter in August, blaming him for the Senate’s repeated failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. When a reporter asked if McConnell should be replaced as the GOP leader, the president offered far less than a fulsome endorsement …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Should Federal Prosecutors Be Able to Search Americans’ Emails Overseas?

By Matt Ford

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether American courts can issue warrants for data stored overseas under current federal law, adding another major case on digital privacy and the Fourth Amendment to its docket this term.

The justices agreed to hear U.S. v. Microsoft on Monday at the request of the federal government. A three-judge panel of federal appellate judges sided with Microsoft last year to quash a warrant issued for emails stored on the tech giant’s servers in Ireland. At stake is whether federal prosecutors can compel Silicon Valley to hand over data from anywhere in the world under existing law, or whether that immense power is bounded by the borders of the United States.

Monday’s addition joins a series of major criminal-justice cases on the justices’ plate this term. Foremost among them is Carpenter v. United States, in which the high court will ponder whether the government needs a warrant to obtain the location history of a suspect’s cellphone. Because the existing precedents are four decades old, whatever decision the justices reach will likely be a landmark ruling on the Fourth Amendment’s application to modern technology.

At issue in Microsoft is another ubiquity of the digital age: email. Federal prosecutors asked a federal magistrate judge to issue a warrant allowing them to search a Microsoft-provided email account. The prosecutors said they believed it was being used by an unidentified suspect “to conduct criminal drug activity,” according to court filings. The judge granted their request under Section 2703, a provision of the Stored Communications Act of 1986 that governs warrant applications for electronic records.

Microsoft complied with part of the request by providing some records on the account stored within its U.S.-based systems. At the same time, the company declined to hand over any data stored on servers at a data …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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