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Steve Benen
Campaign-covering, chart-making, policy-wonking progressive blogger/reporter/commentator for MSNBC
Campaign-covering, chart-making, policy-wonking progressive blogger/reporter/commentator for MSNBC

Steve's posts

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It's Friday, May 26, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* Donald Trump had an opportunity in Europe reassure our partners about our commitments. He chose to do the opposite. Why does he find it easier to get along with authoritarian leaders than democratically elected allies? (

* We knew the FBI had identified "a current White House official as a significant person of interest" in the Russia investigation. Now we know exactly who that is -- and it's not someone Trump can easily discard (

* Trump is deliberately creating uncertainty in health care markets -- which will force some to pay more for coverage. It's time to start debating the impact of a "Trump Tax" on health care costs (

* "When people in power invent their own facts, and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society." Hillary Clinton has some worthwhile thoughts on politics in the Trump era (

* Trump gave Carrier employees an Indiana a "100 percent" guarantee about saving their jobs. Then reality got in the way of promises the president couldn't keep -- and shouldn't have made (

* On a related note, Trump claimed this morning that he's created and/or saved "millions" of American jobs -- so far -- during his overseas trip. It's one of those ostentatious lies that suggest he should try harder when being dishonest (

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It's Thursday, May 25, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* As Donald Trump develops a reputation as someone who's reckless when blurting out secrets to foreigners, the consequences may be severe, both for the White House and the United States (

* As some Republicans paint the press as an enemy, conditions are turning dangerous - for journalists and the body politic. Take the GOP candidate in Montana, for example, who's now facing an assault charge (

* Given the series of court rulings, the White House would be wise to give up on Trump's Muslim ban and save the administration further embarrassment (

* Ben Carson's bizarre new argument on poverty shouldn't be taken seriously, but it should be understood -- because it captures contemporary Republican thought quite well (

* Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) didn't just embarrass himself by relying on bogus "stuff" he saw online to defend an ugly conspiracy theory. He also positioned himself as a tool of Russian active measures (

* Will the Trump's administration use taxpayer money to subsidize private schools that discriminate? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' answer to the question isn't going to work (

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It's Wednesday, May 24, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* It's suddenly clear why Republican leaders were desperate to vote on their health care plan from a position of willful ignorance. When 23 million Americans lose their health security, that's a lot of people (

* When a political scandal grows more serious, and powerful officials start to panic, we tend to reach the "lawyer up" phase. Donald Trump has reached that phase in the Russia scandal -- and he's made a curious choice (

* What's worse than Team Trump double-counting $2 trillion in its ridiculous budget? Team Trump trying to explain the error away (

* In Trump's Russia scandal, we've worked through the smoke and arrived at some fire. The question is what it would take for Republicans to break with the White House. Does such a threshold exist? (

* Trump is president in part because he promised not to cut Social Security and Medicaid. The result is a "Read My Lips" moment for a new generation (

* Trump casually shared national security information with the controversial president of the Philippines. That probably wasn't a good idea (

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It's Tuesday, May 23, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* Donald Trump reportedly asked intelligence officials to intervene in the Russia scandal investigation and "encourage" the FBI to change direction. When Richard Nixon was caught doing this, he was forced to resign (

* Trump hoped to make a lasting impression during his trip to Israel. His message in the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial guestbook is emblematic of a larger truth: it's not going especially well (

* Trump desperately wants Americans to believe the investigation into the Russia scandal is a "witch hunt." The former director of the CIA made that argument look pretty ridiculous in sworn testimony today (

* Trump's budget is his vision for the nation's future -- and it's more than a little terrifying. The White House apparently intends to "make America great" by targeting the most vulnerable Americans (

* With pointless posturing, Trump is imposing a political surcharge on the cost of middle-class health coverage for no reason. Simply by threatening to make things worse, the White House is making things worse (

* Using racial lines with surgical precision, North Carolina Republicans created one of the most egregious examples of gerrymandering in recent memory. The U.S. Supreme Court wasn't impressed (

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It's Monday, May 22, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* Donald Trump used to say it was "disgraceful" for someone from a powerful person's staff to plead the Fifth. With Michael Flynn taking the Fifth today, Trump has some explaining to do (

* It seemed like the Donald-Trump-leaked-classified-secrets-to-Russia story couldn't get more cringe-worthy. Today in Israel, however, the Republican president found a way to make matters worse (

* Trump is issuing secret waivers to lobbyists to work in his administration on issues they've lobbied on. Now he's trying to shut down questions from the Office of Government Ethics on this, too (

* A Trump cabinet secretary was amazed there wasn't "a single hint of a protestor anywhere" during their visit to Saudi Arabia. Maybe he doesn't realize what happens to those who voice dissent in Saudi Arabia (

* It's a classic example of bullying behavior: Trump was happy to blast Saudi Arabia ... right up until it was time to show up there (

* When a Mississippi Republican lawmaker defends Confederate monuments by talking about "lynching," there's a problem. This is, after all, 2017 (

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It's Friday, May 19, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* Up until now, the core of Donald Trump's Russia scandal has focused on members of his campaign team. Today, the controversy reached inside the White House. That's a very big deal (

* Trump didn't just leak classified intelligence to Russian officials last week: he also admitted why he fired former FBI Director James Comey (

* Trump is making his first foreign trip as president, but he's not looking forward to it. Neither, it turns out, are his foreign hosts. "It's like they're preparing to deal with a child," one overseas source said (

* "Blah blah blah" has a rich and beautiful legacy in recent Republican politics. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) added to that history today in an amusing way (

* Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a powerful congressman, started the year raring to go. So why did he suddenly decide to quit Congress? There are some compelling possibilities (

* As the Russia scandal intensifies, Trump has created a dangerous dynamic: Every man for himself. There are three reasons this won't end well (

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It's Thursday, May 18, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* The one thing Donald Trump and his allies didn't want was the appointment of a credible and capable special prosecutor to investigate the president's Russia scandal. And yet, here we are (

* Trump says the investigation into the Russia scandal "hurts the country" because it hurts him. The United States doesn't (and can't) work that way (

* The morning after Trump learned that a special counsel is investigating his Russia scandal, the president still seems unfamiliar with the phrase, "You have the right to remain silent" (

* For months, Trump World insisted it never spoke to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming (

* During the 2016 campaign, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Russia's Vladimir Putin paid Donald Trump. Initially, GOP leaders said this never happened -- but there's a tape (

* The White House counsel's office warned Trump not to contact Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor fired after lying about his contacts with Russia. It looks like Trump may have ignored those warnings (

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It's Wednesday, May 17, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today (before a special prosecutor was named in the Russia scandal after I'd wrapped for the day):

* "No politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly," Donald Trump said today. Who told him public whining and self-pity makes a president look better? (

* Did Trump obstruct justice by leaning on FBI Director James Comey? The latest revelations appear to remove any sense of subtlety from the conversation about the president's scandal (

* Members of the White House National Security Council have concluded that Trump doesn't like to read very much. They've come up with a clever -- but depressing -- solution to get information to the president (

* Even now, as the ground begins to shift under the Republican Party's feet, the president can count on one thing: House Speaker Paul Ryan is still defending him (

* One of only two independents in Congress said Trump appears headed for impeachment. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, has started to use rhetoric that's just as provocative (

* A right-wing Wisconsin sheriff is in the middle of a brutal prison-death scandal, and yet Trump is now giving him a promotion to an important post in the Department of Homeland Security (

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It's Tuesday, May 16, 2017, and here are some of the highlights from the dozen or so posts I published today:

* Why would Donald Trump provide Russian officials with highly sensitive national security secrets? There are a few possible explanations. They're all quite alarming (

* It's the nightmare scenario come to life: if Trump is going to share classified secrets with Russia, then U.S. allies are prepared to stop sharing classified secrets with us (

* Trump appears to have shared highly sensitive secrets with Russia -- in a conversation that may have been recorded. It makes the possibility of White House "tapes," and Sean Spicer's posture on the recordings, all the more important (

* For Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Darrell Issa, Reince Priebus, and others, one thing is clear: When it comes to mishandling classified information, Donald Trump must be held to a different standard than Hillary Clinton (

* It's rare to hear a prominent congressional Republican say Donald Trump and his White House team are in "a downward spiral." The question, however, is what this senator and his colleagues intend to do about it (

* Between impeachment and the 25th Amendment, there's quite a bit of new interest in a provocative question: Whether Donald Trump's presidency will come to an end before January 2021 (

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It's Monday, May 15, 2017, and I published about a dozen items that seemed perfectly interesting right up until the report about Trump leaking secrets to Russian officials:

* Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey has plenty of critics -- but not in Moscow. It's the latest in a series of examples of the Republican president making Russia very happy (

* A Republican close to the White House questioned whether Trump was "in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion." Consider how Trump World might handle a crisis it didn't create for itself (

* Imagine a president who lacks critical thinking skills, being manipulated by staffers who've discovered how easy it is to exploit their baffled boss' ignorance. Welcome to Trump's White House (

* The emperor has no clothes, but he does have a House Speaker who'll carry a fig leaf. Paul Ryan knows exactly what Trump is up to, but he's choosing to provide cover in the face of scandal (

* Trump opened the door last week to the prospect of secret recordings of conversations he's had in the White House. Now the president would like to close that door -- but he doesn't seem to realize why it's too late (
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