Quick Takes: “The Elephant in the Room Is a Bear”

* As so much ink is being spilled trying to keep up with the horror stories about Trump and his cabinet nominees, Frank Rich does a good job of summing things up.

Let’s not pretend we don’t know what is happening here. There is evidence that Donald Trump and his administration-in-formation are partially, perhaps wholly, beholden to the Kremlin and/or those Russian oligarchs in its thrall. This is why Trump refused to answer that question about contacts with Russia during the campaign — and why he’ll lie about it when he finally feels he must muster some kind of answer. His symbiosis with Russia is also why he will never release his tax returns, for what other reason could there be at this point except that they reveal the Russian financial ties he denies? After all, we already know the other embarrassments contained in those returns — that he hasn’t paid taxes for years, that he practices no actual philanthropy, and that his businesses are in a perennial waltz with bankruptcy, fraud, and failure.

No, Russia is the big story here. The elephant in the room is a bear.

* I wholeheartedly agree with Jay Smooth’s message to the media about what happened at Trump’s press conference yesterday.

* This is an encouraging move. But one has to wonder whether or not the inquiry will continue after January 20th.

The Justice Department inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving FBI Director James B. Comey and how he handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices, the inspector general announced Thursday.

The investigation will be wide ranging — encompassing Comey’s various letters and public statements on the matter and whether FBI or other Justice Department employees leaked nonpublic information, according to a news release from Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

* Lauren Fox has outlined what Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has put forward as a preliminary plan for repealing/replacing Obamacare. Two things caught my attention:

1. We don’t want to replace a failed Obamacare federal system with a failed — with another failed federal system. We want to create many systems across this country step by step … we’ll do this by moving more health care decisions out of Washington and into the hands of states and patients.

2. In order to build a new system, Alexander advocated Wednesday to expand health savings accounts and “eventually provide tax credits to help lower-income Americans buy insurance.”

Delegating responsibilities to the states (minus federal revenues) and providing tax credits for low income people who don’t pay much (if anything) in federal taxes are two of the ways that Republicans have always tried to kill federal programs without coming out and saying so directly.

* A person named “One Hot Mess” on the internet wrote: “America Announces Divorce from Reality.”

In a cataclysmic split all but guaranteed to rock geopolitical forces around the globe, America, age 238, announced today a legal separation from Reality, with ultimate plans to divorce the 13.8 billion-year old concept.

Court documents filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C. and exclusively obtained by O.H.M. cite “irreconcilable differences” and “adultery” with an unnamed, minimally-endowed orange millionaire with the temperament of an irascible toddler and a “FUPA.”*

Go read the whole thing. It’s short, you’ll learn what “FUPA” stands for, and I guarantee you won’t regret it.

* Finally, if you know anything at all about Barack and Michelle Obama, you’ll be aware of the fact that they both agree that Stevie Wonder is THE BEST. Last night on the Tonight Show, the singer demonstrated that the feeling is mutual.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.