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New York Times Nails Story Over Lunch

September 19, 2017

Simply perfect.

But I’ve never overheard a conversation quite like the one I accidentally encountered last Tuesday, when I met a source for lunch at BLT Steak, a downtown Washington steakhouse frequented by the capital’s expense-account set. My source chose the restaurant, but I didn’t protest, since BLT is on the same block as The New York Times’s Washington bureau and has a delightful tuna niçoise salad with fingerling potatoes and green beans.

Being a rare temperate day in Washington with tolerable humidity, we requested a table in the restaurant’s outdoor section, which abuts a busy sidewalk. Not long after we’d ordered, my source noticed someone he thought he recognized being seated at the table behind me. 

“Isn’t that the Trump lawyer?” he asked.

I turned slightly in my chair and noticed the unmistakable visage of Ty Cobb, the veteran Washington lawyer with a prominent handlebar mustache, who was accompanied by another man I did not immediately recognize. Mr. Cobb had been retained by the White House in July to coordinate its response to investigations into Russia’s connections with President Trump and his associates, including whether they conspired to influence the 2016 presidential election.

My source and I continued chatting as our lunches arrived, even as I periodically strained to hear Mr. Cobb’s conversation with his dining companion, apologizing to my source for seeming more interested in the conversation at the adjacent table than our own. Eventually, he took mercy on me, excusing himself not long after he polished off his crab gazpacho and Caesar salad, and leaving me to focus completely on Mr. Cobb’s conversation, except for a brief and unwitting interruption from a pair of fellow Times journalists passing on the sidewalk on their way to the bureau. I tried to hustle them along when they paused to gently rib me over what must have appeared to be a lonely solo lunch.

Rape Charge At FOX News Will Not Help Charles Payne’s Career

September 19, 2017

Here we go again with sexual violence and FOX News.  The network has a problem with their on-air talent and needs to undertake some serious counseling for their obviously troubled team.

Fox Business host Charles Payne is being sued for gender-motivated violence just weeks after being reinstated following a sexual harassment investigation. The Making Money host was suspended in July following a complaint by an unnamed woman. Scottie Nell Hughes, a political commentator who regularly appeared on the network, has come forward as the source of the harassment report in a lawsuit filed Monday in New York federal court.

Upon Payne’s return to the air, Fox News said that it had completed the investigation, which began after Hughes took her allegations to the network in late June. Hughes claims she had been raped by Payne and was then retaliated against by the network after she came forward with her allegation.

The lawsuit filed Monday is levied at 21st Century Fox; Fox News Network LLC; Payne; Dianne Brandi, the executive vice president of legal and business affairs at Fox News; and Irena Briganti, the network’s executive vice president of corporate communications.

In the filing, Hughes alleges Payne sexually assaulted and raped her in July 2013, then increased invitations to her to appear on his Fox Business program. The suit suggested Fox News might cite emails that describe a consensual relationship, but then alleged any link between the two was the result of Payne using “his position of power to pressure Hughes into submission.

Promising News About Teenagers

September 19, 2017

Some really good news to read this morning.

When 17-year-old Quattro Musser hangs out with friends, they don’t drink beer or cruise around in cars with their dates. Rather, they stick to G-rated activities such as rock-climbing or talking about books.

They are in good company, according to a new study showing that teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the U.S. who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date, and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade.

The declines appeared across race, geographic, and socioeconomic lines, and in rural, urban, and suburban areas.

To be sure, more than half of teens still engage in these activities, but the majorities have slimmed considerably. Between 1976 and 1979, 86 percent of high school seniors had gone on a date; between 2010 and 2015 only 63 percent had, the study found. During the same period, the portion who had ever earned money from working plunged from 76 to 55 percent. And the portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.

What Would Cassidy-Graham Health Care Proposal Do To nation?

September 19, 2017

Here is a quick look at what the Cassidy-Graham health care proposal would do this nation:

  • Eliminate the ACA’s marketplace subsidies and enhanced matching rate for the Medicaid expansion and replace them with an inadequate block grant. Block grant funding would be well below current law federal funding for coverage, would not adjust based on need, would disappear altogether after 2026, and could be spent on virtually any health care purpose, with no requirement to offer low- and moderate-income people coverage or financial assistance.
  • Convert Medicaid’s current federal-state financial partnership to a per capita cap, which would cap and cut federal Medicaid per-beneficiary funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.
  • Eliminate or weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive the ACA’s prohibition against charging higher premiums based on health status and the requirement that insurers cover essential health benefits including mental health, substance abuse treatment, and maternity care. 
  • Destabilize the individual insurance market in the short run — by eliminating the ACA’s federal subsidies to purchase individual market coverage and eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate to have insurance or pay a penalty —and risk collapse of the individual market in the long run.
  • Eventually result in larger coverage losses than under proposals to repeal ACA’s major coverage provisions without replacement.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has previously estimated that repeal-without-replace would cause 32 million people to lose coverage.  The Cassidy-Graham bill would likely lead to greater numbers of uninsured after 2026, however, because it would not only entirely eliminate its block grant funding — effectively repealing the ACA’s major coverage expansions — but also make increasingly severe federal funding cuts to the rest of the Medicaid program (outside of the expansion) under its per capita cap.

More Embarrassment For Republicans Over Attempts To Take Away Health Care From Americans

September 18, 2017

“There’s a lot of skepticism in Washington over whether the latest Affordable Care Act repeal bill, proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, can pass. One of the many reasons is that a lot of Republican senators’ states — particularly those that expanded Medicaid — would lose a lot of money,” according to Axios.

“Alaska is among the losers here, and it’s hard to see Sen. Lisa Murkowski getting on board with this bill or this process. Same goes for Sen. Susan Collins. Sen. Rand Paul has said he’s a no. Sen. John McCain was a “no” last time, largely on process grounds. The process hasn’t changed. And this bill would hurt his state.”

Meanwhile David Nather writes: “This has been building up for a while. Definitely worth keeping an eye on it, but still hard to see where they get the 50th vote. It’s not impossible that they get McCain. For everything he’s said about ‘regular order,’ he’s still friends with Lindsey Graham. But Rand Paul has been tweeting nasty stuff — it’s Obamacare Lite, etc. So unless you flip Collins or Murkowski, hard to see it happening.”

Republicans Continue To Eat Their Own

September 18, 2017

From Politico

“Three words are striking fear in Senate Republicans these days: ‘Senator Roy Moore.’ The bomb-throwing former Alabama Supreme Court justice has vaulted to a hefty lead in Alabama’s Senate special election, lambasting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell every step of the way. A Moore victory promises to make McConnell’s tenuous 52-seat majority even more precarious, allies of the majority leader warn, potentially imperiling tax reform, raising the risk of default on the nation’s debt or even derailing routine Senate business.”

Even President Trump’s Lawyers Are Not Intelligent

September 18, 2017

New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel was sitting next to two of President Trump’s lawyers at a Washington, D.C. restaurant as they “casually and loudly” discussed details of Russia investigation.

From the report:

Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy”  and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team…

After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.

Washington Post: “Trump and his aides have complained bitterly and often about leaks, including leaks from the White House. But who needs leaks when lunch reservations will suffice?”

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