Saturday, July 15, 2017

Insurers call Senate bill "unworkable"

On the eve of a planned vote on the revised Senate health care bill, two organizations representing the health insurance industry call the latest version "simply unworkable in any form."   They warned of "major hardship," especially for middle-class people with serious medical problems.  One observer referred to their taking this step as "a primal scream."

The latest changes -- allowing policies that leave out essential services and that reinstate exclusions for pre-existing conditions -- were from an amendment pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz, who made these a condition for his vote.

If you have any influence over wavering Republican senators (Rob Portman (Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Dean Heller (Nevada), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), John Hoeven (N. Dakota), please call them.   Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) have already committed to a No vote.   It takes only one more.


Diplomacy works: Iran nuclear deal holds

Today is the second anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement, which "successfully blocked every pathway Iran had to a nuclear weapon," according to former Secretary of State John Kerry, who spent four years working toward this goal with the full support and initiative of then President Barack Obama and the other countries involved.

Kerry goes further:  "We demanded that Iran meet tough, verifiable obligations, and they are complying -- as even the new administration, as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency has acknowledged.   They've shipped out more than 98% of their enriched uranium, shut down two-thirds of their centrifuges, permanently disabled their heavy water reactor, and abided by unprecedented verification procedures."     

The truth: Obamacare is not "collapsing."

Perhaps the biggest talking point for Republicans trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act is that "Obamacare is collapsing."  Trump says it;  McConnell says it;  Cruz says it, as do most conservatives.  That line is repeated routinely, as though it's a given fact, like gravity or oxygen.   The truth is that it is simply not true.

It's not true, in spite of Republican attempts to sabotage the plan.  Insurance companies hate nothing as much as uncertainty.   They set premiums in advance, of course;  and they have to fix rates based on prediction of the amount of claims they will receive.

Republicans continue to malign Obamacare as ruining our economy;  and they dither and delay about what they will do about it, which leaves companies unable to calculate their risk.    So they run the rates up, just in case, so they don't get put out of business.

But now we have some new data to help.  It comes from our own Department of Health and Human Services.   You know, the one run by Tom Price, who is one of the doom-sayers predicting the failure of Obamacare.

In a just-released annual report, Tom Price's own HHS states that key programs are "working as intended," protecting insurers from unexpectedly large risks and moderating premiums for consumers.  Further, the figures in the report actually say that the customer base is "getting healthier and the risk pools have been stabilizing."

The Kaiser Foundation added its voice.   They confirm that the ACA is not collapsing and is on track for it's best year.   They also mention that the mixed signals from the Administration and Congress tend to destabilize the markets.

In other words, we're right when we say that it's Republican sabotage that is the negative, harmful factor in health care financing -- not Obamacare itself.


Friday, July 14, 2017

How to set up a blog.

I sometimes get requests for how I set up my blog.   Here's a free site that provides formats, templates, and search listings:

Or you can put in a search for "starting a blog," and you'll get dozens of free sites that help you.   Once you have the format set up, the only work is your writing and posting it.


G 20 observation: Trump "has no desire and no capacity to lead the world."

This is the best description I've read of Donald Trump at the G 20 meeting last week.   It's by Australian anchor man Chris Uhlmann.  It kept getting bumped to later by the emerging story of the Don Jr.-Russian lawyer meeting.
Anchor Chris Uhlman (ABC) speaking:
"What we already knew is that the president of the United States has a particular skill set:  that he's identified an illness in Western democracies, but he has no cure for it and he seems intent on exploiting it.   We've also learned that he has no desire and no capacity to lead the world.

"The G-20 became the G-19 as it ended.   On the Paris Climate Accords, the US was left isolated and friendless.   But, given that that was always going to happen, a deft president would have found an issue around which he could rally most of the leaders.   And he had the perfect one:  North Korea's missile tests.

"So where was the G-20 statement condemning North Korea, which would have put pressure on China and Russia?   Other leaders expected it.  They were prepared to sign it.   But it never came.

"There's a tendency among some hopeful souls to confuse the speeches written for Trump with the thoughts of the man himself.   He did make some interesting, scripted observations in Poland about defending the values of the West.   And he's in a unique position.  He's the one man who has the power to do something about it.

"But it's the unscripted Trump that is real -- a man who barks out bile in 140 characters, who wastes his precious days as president at war with the West's institutions, like the judiciary, independent government agencies, and the free press.

"He was an uneasy, lonely, awkward figure at this gathering;  and you got the strong sense that some of the leaders are trying to find the best way to work around him.   Donald Trump is a man who craves power because it burnishes his celebrity.   To be constantly talking and talked about is all that really matters, and there's no value placed on the meaning of words.    So what's said one day can be discarded the next.

"So what did we learn?   We learned that Donald Trump has pressed fast forward on the decline of the United States as a global leader.  He managed to isolate his nation, to confuse and alienate his allies, and to diminish America.  He will cede that power to China and Russia, two authoritarian states that will forge a very different set of rules for the 21st century.   Some will cheer the decline of America, but I think we will miss it when it's gone.   And that's the biggest threat to the West, which he claims to hold so dear."

Donald Trump is not solely responsible for the decline of America.  There are many factors, some of our making and others that are simply historic that we have no control over -- like the rise of China as an economic giant and the inevitable globalization, driven in large part by technological changes in communication, manufacture and labor, trade, travel, and education.

But, where Obama, and perhaps Clinton too, would have led us to becoming first among equals in the years ahead, Trump is diminishing, isolating, and ultimately destroying much of what made the United States the great nation it . . . still, almost . . . is.   But he's trying to lead us in the wrong direction.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

What did the president know? And when?

The big question now hanging over the White House is:  Did the president know about Don Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer?  When did he know it?    Don Jr. says he didn't tell him;  staff have said the president didn't know.  That's hard to believe, with the real significance they obviously gave it.  So is there any evidence?  HuffPost  reporter Nick Visser says follow the time line.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016:   Don Jr. agreed to meet Russian attorney on Thurs, June 9th to get dirt on Hillary.  Just hours after Don Jr arranged this meeting, Trump told a campaign crowd:  “I'm going to give a major speech on probably Monday of next week. . . [to discuss] all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons. . .  I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting."

Thursday, June 9, 2016:   Planned meeting took place.  According to Don Jr.'s emails, what the attorney had about Hillary "amounted to nothing" and wasn't the real agenda.   But is that true?  That lie may be part of the cover-up.

Monday, June 13, 2016:   The day Trump had promised his anti-Clinton revelation.   Nothing.   Instead, he talked about national security and again promised damning information about Clinton at a later date.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016:   [amended with more details]:   Two days later, a hacker, who called himself Guccifer 2.0, began releasing emails stolen from the DNC.  One week after that, Wikileaks began releasing the material in big batches.   Our Intelligence Community unanimously agrees that Russia was behind the hacking.

Now let's see a show of hands:   How many people still believe that Don Jr. did not tell his father?  That Trump knew about it when he made the promise to reveal the dirt "probably Monday"?   And then the plan changed, maybe during that meeting:   instead of giving it to the Trump campaign to use, they would have it released on Wikileaks?  Sounds like a suggestion that might have come from Manafort or Kushner.  How many people still believe that what the attorney had to say "amounted to nothing"?


Why was Don Jr.'s Russia meeting wrong?

Another civics lesson for the electorate, if we're paying attention.   Unfortunately, the majority will just pick up the talking points from FoxNews, Limbaugh, and Breitbart, if they favor Trump;  or, alternatively for liberals, from the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and  But I have to say that the latter ones, the factual ones, will explain the civics behind it -- especially Vox, whose slogan is:  "Explaining the news."   So here goes.

It's most succinctly explained by the George W. Bush administration's former ethics chief, Richard Painter.   He has called Don Jr.'s actions with the Russian lawyer, as amplified by the email chain, "close to treason."

Don, Jr's defenders dismiss this as simply going after "opposition research," which every campaign does to get negative information about the opponent.   That's true.  But, as Painter emphasizes and as our laws read, that should never extend to working with foreign powers.  He says:

"Everybody gets opposition research, just like everybody gets campaign contributions.  But we don't get either one from foreign nationals."

Remember how many times you've read about some campaign having to return a campaign contribution because it was from a foreign national?    That's not unusual, because frankly those handling the money coming in don't always initially know anything about the person who sent it.

But, the argument goes, this Russia meeting wasn't about money.   It was supposed to be about dirt on Hillary.

If a foreign national or government is involved, it comes under a specific part of the campaign finance law that forbids contributions of anything of value -- meaning financial contributions or accommodations or assistance that would be of value -- and here reasonable interpreters include the promised "documents" or even just the anti-Clinton information.   The intangible doesn't even have to turn out to be of value;  just meeting for the purpose of getting something of value is in itself a violation.

The obvious reasoning is that allowing contributions (either monetary or other things of value) to be accepted from foreign nationals or governments means risking undue influence -- or even outright control -- being exerted over our government by foreign interests and powers.

Then we would no longer be governed by our own people.   No, if anyone's going to buy our government, they have to be Americans.


PS:  To follow my sardonic tone in that last sentence would take us afield;  but let me just say that I wish we applied the same reasoning to the influence of home-grown money on our government, just as we do foreign money.   But that's an argument for another day.   At least let's keep Putin from taking over and finishing the job he has clearly started with the Trump family.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Is this the Smoking Gun on collusion with Russia? . . . Or just one step closer to it?

I've stayed away from writing about the dribbled out details of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last June with the Russian lawyer, because the story kept changing and didn't seem solid enough.   I even wondered if it was one of these real "fake" stories that Rachel Maddow is on to, designed to trap liberal media into biting -- so that the anti-media forces can then portray them as purveyors of "fake news stories."

But now the Trump, Jr. story is being backed up with more and more corroborating and deepening, email claims.   If they are all true -- and the New York Times claims to have three sources on its basic story of the meeting -- then it is pretty close to a smoking gun -- at least Russia's attempt to share info to hurt Clineon (probably from the hacked emails) and the Trump team's interest in receiving it.

Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff spoke with Rachel Maddow on Monday night, and he called attention to the time line:   the Trump, Jr/Manafort/Kushner meeting with the Russian lawyer occurred after the hacking of the Democrats' emails and before they were released by Wikileaks.   That's only circumstantial, but it lends credence to the possibility that the meeting somehow led to their release.   

Here's the NY Times' latest installment on Tuesday, June 11th, written by Jo Becker, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, June 11, 2017


"The June 3, 2016 email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit:  One of his father's former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

"The documents 'would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,' read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, 'This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.'

"If the future president’s elder son was surprised or disturbed by the provenance of the promised material — or the notion that it was part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to aid his father’s campaign — he gave no indication.  He replied within minutes: 'If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.'

"Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a 'Russian government attorney.'  Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would likely bring along 'Paul Manafort (campaign boss)' and 'my brother-in-law,' Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

"On June 9, the Russian lawyer was sitting in the younger Mr. Trump’s office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below the office of the future president.  [Who was reportedly in the office that day.]

"Over the last several days, The New York Times has disclosed the existence of the meeting, whom it involved and what it was about. The story has unfolded as The Times has been able to confirm details of the meetings.

"But the email exchanges, which were reviewed by The Times, offer a detailed unspooling of how the meeting with the Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, came about — and just how eager Donald J. Trump was to accept what he was explicitly told was the Russian government’s help. . . .

"The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

"The precise nature of the promised damaging information about Mrs. Clinton is unclear, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was related to Russian-government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. But in recent days, accounts by some of the central organizers of the meeting, including Donald Trump Jr., have evolved or have been contradicted by the written email records."

There are more details about Trump, Sr.'s business partner for the Moscow Miss Universe Pageant and their plans, now on hold, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.  This man is said to be close to Putin and his son and the son's publicist -- both of whom Don, Jr. knew from the Miss Universe pageant -- are the ones who made the email contact with Donald Trump, Jr. to set up the meeting.   There are several more references to the information about Clinton coming from the Russian government.

Here are some questions and points to consider:
1.  These new revelations give the lie to Trump, Jr.'s portrayal of it as a casual, unimportant meeting that "came to nothing."   He is very excited about it.   If it was just a "meet and greet," why would Manafort and Kushner have taken time out from the busy presidential campaign to meet with an obscure Russian lawyer?

2.  If it was an innocent meeting -- or one that came to nothing -- why would Don have bothered to lie about it;   why would Kushner have failed to reveal it on his disclosure?   Why would Don have kept changing his story, as it began to unravel?

3.  Here's a fact:   In election campaigns, it is illegal to accept anything of value from a foreign national.   We've all heard about having to return financial contributions from foreign nationals.   Well, "anything of value" can include intangibles as well, like, well, scandalous information.   So Don, Jr., knowing from that now-revealed email that they were offering "documents that would incriminate Hillary . . . and would be very useful to your father;"  and "part of Russia and its government's support for Trump.

"The documents 'would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,' read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, 'This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.'

3.  Does the story of the lawyer's real purpose being to try to get a President Trump to repeal the Magnitsky Act hold up?   It's true that this Russian lawyer, Ms. Veselnitskaya is a well-known lobbyist to get this US law repealed, which maybe just gives her a convenient cover story.  It was passed by congress in 2012 to punish designated Russian human rights abusers to seize their assets and keep them from entering the US.   Putin was so angered by the law that he retaliated by stopping the adoption of any Russian children by Americans.   That was a brilliant move on Putin's part.   It turned the whole issue into one he could distort into the US depriving orphans of being adopted.  So the law has become something of a cause celebre, all the moreso because it involved children and adoption.

4.  Maybe it's true that the Russians dangled the "Hillary dirt" as a ruse to engage the Trump campaign on the Magnitsky issue.   I don't buy it.   The timing is off -- Trump wouldn't take office, and be in position to do anything, for another seven months, even if he won.   It hardly seems like an issue of such import to be the driving force for all this.

5.  Here's my hypothesis, which I think far better fits the facts.  The Russians had obtained Clinton emails.  Maybe there was nothing very damaging on them, but they would have value to the Trump campaign -- just as has transpired with Wikileaks dribbling them out, keeping the issue of "Clinton emails" in the public's mind through the rest of the campaign.

6.  OK.   But what did Russia get out of the deal?   Other than a malleable U.S. president, of course.    I think "Magnitsky Act" was used as a code to talk about lifting the US sanctions against Russia for Crimea and Ukraine, which were hurting Russia economically.    It's perfect.   They could talk about "repeal" all they wanted to and mean "lift the sanctions."    So I think the meeting was very important and very successful for the Trump campaign.

In short, I think they made a quid pro quo deal.   We'll release these Clinton tapes and help you win.   You agree to lift the sanctions, once you've become president.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Adults overrule Donny & Vlad's playdate

As late as Sunday morning, Trump was still touting the "impenetrable cyber security unit" that he and Putin had agreed to set up to combat hacking of sensitive sites.  But, after the idea got resoundingly hammered by members of his own party, Little Donny had to send out this walk-back:
Donald J. Trump @realDonald Trump
   The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean that I think it can happen.   It can't -- but a ceasefire can, & did.
    8:45 pm - 9 Jul 2017                                                  

Whew.  That was close.  We can't leave them alone together, because Vlad will take all of Donny's marbles.


The most clueless prediction about the Trump-Putin meeting

Former congressman from Georgia, Jack Kingston, became a surrogate spinner for the Trump campaign, always providing fawning cliches of favorability.  Here's how he was spinning the Trump-Putin meeting -- before it occurred -- in a Friday article in The Hill newspaper.  Here's a taste.   Don't take too much;  it's so rich it might make you sick.
"Trump Will Own Putin in Negotiations"

Jack Kingston:  ". . . .  To be sure, Trump will have the upper hand when the two leaders meet.   Not only does Trump bring to the table his decades of negotiation experience, but . . . . he starts with the sober knowledge that Russia hacked our last elections, they illegally annexed Crimea, they haven't been helpful in North Korea, and they continue to contribute to the slaughter and displacement of millions of innocent people in Syria.

"Trump knows Russia needs us more than we need them. . . Russia has been in  recession since 2015. . . . Furthermore, U.S. . . sanctions further cripple their hope of an economic revival. . . .  Additionally, Russia has now been bogged down in Syria since 2011. Such perpetual war is in no one's interest - they have more at stake in Syria then we do. . . .

"Finally, Vladimir Putin knows Donald Trump isn't Barack Obama. Instead of talking about a red line in Syria President Trump sent fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles as a calling card. . . . 

"And rather than let politically correct European peer pressure force him to sign a climate deal that exempted China, President Trump said "No thanks. America first."

"All this gives President Trump the advantage. It's Putin who needs to make a deal.  What will he give up to make one?  In which area does he seek relief? . . . 

"What punishment will we impose for election meddling? Is NATO going to be expanded?  Yes he has an agenda and his hat in hand. . . . "

I can't stop laughing.   Except that the awful reality of Trump's swooning to cater to Putin is so utterly the opposite to Kingston's imagined version . . . and so not-funny.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Trump staff in damage control mode

Republicans reacted negatively to the idea that Trump accepted Putin's denial of involvement in the hacking.   Senators McCain, Rubio, and Graham all released statements highly critical of the idea of a joint cyber security plan with Russia.

Reince Priebus went into damage control, saying that President Trump "absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin."   But tweets from Trump this morning did nothing to undo what appears to have been Trump's accepting of the Putin denial.  Trump may not "believe" it, but he certainly seems to be "buying" it as the official position they're going to accept.   And just move forward.

Will he sign the sanctions bill, assuming the House passes what the Senate passed 95 to 2?   That's the question.


Trump is colluding with Putin, right now.

Come on, folks.   It doesn't take an FBI special agent, or even a special prosecutor, to draw the obvious conclusion that is staring us right in the face, right now.  Our president, Donald J. Trump is either knowingly -- or unwittingly -- being duped and played by Vladimir Putin.

1.  All 17 of our national security agencies -- and that includes the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the Director of National Intelligence -- all agree that Russia was behind the hacking of election-related emails and the selective manipulation of anti-Clinton propaganda.

2.  Despite that strong agreement from our Intelligence Community, President Trump has never fully, without sowing doubt, acknowledged that Russia was behind the hacking and that they favored Trump's election.  Even last week, in Poland, he ended up saying "nobody knows for sure" who did it.  And even yesterday, he was trying to minimize the breadth of the intelligence community's agreement.   So there's no doubt which way he leans -- toward Putin and away from our own government.

3.  Two days before the Friday meeting, reports said that it would be a large meeting, including, among others, the leading assistant secretary who is an expert on Russia and who is known to take hawkish positions on our dealings with them.  However, Trump apparently prevailed in his insistence on having only Tillerson and Lavrov join them.  And no note-takers for an official summary.  Notably dropped from the meeting was that assistant secretary who might have provided the tough negotiating stance.    And why Tillerson and not National Security Adviser J. R. McMaster, who was in Hamburg with the Trump entourage?    Tillerson is friendly with Putin and, as CEO of Exxon-Mobile, received a medal from Putin in a Moscow ceremony before he joined the Trump team.   Trump apparently just wanted a friendly group that would go easy on Putin.

4.  In his Hamburg private meeting with Putin, Trump and Tillerson say that Trump "pressed" Putin on the hacking;  and that, when Putin denied it, Trump in effect said, 'OK, let's move on.'

5.  Donald Trump has always and only ever praised Vladimir Putin as a strong leader, the type he admires;  and he has never, ever said anything derogatory about him.   This is a pattern with Trump:   he favors the autocratic, even brutal heads of state over our democratic allies.  Others he has praised are Egypt's repressive Gen. al-Sisi and the Phillipines' murderous Duterte.

6.  So how are we to understand this "impenetrable Cyber Security Unit" that Trump and Putin agreed to pursue?   Does this mean "impenetrable" by anyone other than Russia and the US?    So, Russia would be on the inside?   That's the very predicate of the metaphor "putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

7.  On Sunday's CBS "Face the Nation," Sen. John McCain had this to say about it:  "I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort -- since he's doing the hacking."   Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, called it "dangerously naive," and he tweeted that we "might as well just mail our ballots to Moscow."

The US Senate voted 95 to 2 to impose sanctions to punish Russia for the 2016 election hacking;   it awaits a vote from the House.   Trump will likely veto it, especially now that his buddy has said "we didn't do it."   And Trump obviously wants to let him get away with it -- and do it again.

We have the president of the United States choosing to take the word of a Russian spymaster, cunning manipulator, murderer, and invader of our allied countries -- over the unanimous, fact-based conclusion of our vast intelligence community.

So what now, We The People?


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Did Trump and Putin collude in Hamburg? He said, he said, he said, and she said.

'Let's move beyond the 2016 election hacking.'  That was the implicit message from the Trump-Putin meeting in Hamburg, despite somewhat different versions put out by their sole advisers who were in the room with them (US Sec. of State Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov).

It is true that Trump answered a reporter's questions about the hacking in a press briefing in Poland the day before.   Trump:   “I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.”  And then he said that "nobody really knows for sure."

At Trump's insistence, the Hamburg meeting included only Trump, Putin, Tillerson, Luvrov and two translators;   there was no note taker.   So we get, predictably, various versions of what went on.  Everyone agrees that Trump did bring the election meddling up with Putin in the meeting.   And, even with the differing accounts of how tough Trump was or how quickly he gave in to Putin's denial, the consensus seems to be:   "Let's move on, meaning 'to other things.'

After the Hamburg meeting, Tillerson said that Trump had "pressed Putin more than once" on his government's role in the hacking and selective leaking.   But he also indicated that "there was not a lot of relitigating of the past" and that what was important was that they agreed to "find a way forward."   He also commented on the positive chemistry between "the two presidents."

Sergei Lavrov gave the Russians' version, which emphasized that Putin had denied that his government had any involvement and that President Trump had accepted those statements.  Lavrov further stated that Trump had then commented on the lack of any evidence being presented to back up the months of accusations.  In other words, Lavrov seems to be saying, not only that Trump accepted Putin's denial, but was giving Putin another talking point.  In addition, Lavrov said they had discussed cybersecurity and agreed to set up a joint group to address the issue.

Talk about giving away the store:   Trump not only backed down to Putin's denial, he's planning to work with Putin for the future?   What?   We're going to share information and just open the door to Russia to come into our cyber space?

Now that is collusion.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was interviewed about all this.   His response:   "I think Russia's goal here is to 'prep the battlefield' for the 2018 elections."

So what did our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley have to say about this?  In an interview to be aired on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, she said:  Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections. . . .  They’re doing this across multiple continents, and they’re doing this in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries."  It's not the first time she has put out a very different position statement than President Trump -- his position on climate change, for example.

CNN also has reported that, since the November election, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies "have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business."   They cite multiple current and former senior intelligence officers as their source.  They estimate that Russia now has nearly 150 suspected operatives in the US.

Of even more concern, they say the Russians are "targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information" and seeking employment at places "with sensitive information."   In spite of this, the State Department (under Tillerson) continues to issue temporary duty visas to these suspected Russian intelligence officers.   The US officials who spoke to CNN did so because they are concerned about this.

If this is all true, then we have good reason to be urgently concerned about the 2018 and 2020 elections -- but about our democracy as well.   It looks like Trump's "pressing Putin about the hacking" was a farce.   He seems ready to give it all away. 

As Daniel Marans, who reported this on HuffPost, said:  "It's hard not to see this as a treasonous crime in progress.   Trump and the Russians are STILL colluding!"