Quick Takes: Trump’s Gift to Rocket Man

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* I’m sure that Trump thinks it’s really clever to call Kim Jong-Un “rocket man.” That’s because he’s an idiot.

* Did chief of staff Kelly know what Trump was going to say in his speech to the UN today? You tell me.

* Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas recently said that God has given Trump the authority to assassinate Kim Jong-Un. It certainly looks like he also thinks that God gave Trump the authority to destroy a nation of 25 million people.

* Here is another one to put in the file labeled “white evangelicals say the damnedest things.”

“We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I’m standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I’m telling you we’re losing the acknowledgment of God,” [Alabama Senate candidate Roy} Moore said, before reciting several verses from the Old Testament book of Hosea that deal with lack of knowledge of God.

“You wonder why we’re having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it,” Moore said. “We’ve taken God out of everything. We’ve taken prayer out of school, we’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

* Kevin Drum says that we don’t need a CBO score on the latest bill to repeal Obamacare.

The plan for passage is similar to Repeal 2.0: do it fast before the CBO can tell us how many people would lose health insurance if it passes. But we don’t really need the official CBO score for that since we already know that Graham-Cassidy would eliminate the individual mandate and slash spending on Medicaid. Those two things account for the vast bulk of CBO’s score, which means that its score of Graham-Cassidy will be very similar: about 23 million people would be tossed off their insurance plans over the next decade.

* We’ve all recognized that the Trump administration has developed an expertise in lying. They also seem to be pretty good at jettisoning any data that contradicts their agenda.

Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.

The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. …

The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”

But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.

Of course that move came from Stephen Miller, who “personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered.”

* Kristen Hare reports on a fascinating new program.

Many local newsrooms have been cut to the bone so often that there’s hardly any bone left. But starting early next year, some may get the chance to rebuild, at least by one.

On Monday, a new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report For America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America and public media.

Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, he said.

* Finally, I thought that something Barack Obama said during an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg back in 2015 was particularly timely today.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.