What happens to the military in a government shutdown?

President Trump tweeted this morning that if the government shuts down, it would be “devastating to our military.”

So, what happens to the military in a government shutdown?

US officials say the armed forces are considered essential and would still report for duty, unlike rank and file government employees.

And military personnel still get paid, unless a shutdown lasts until February 1. That’s because funding runs through midnight Friday and the last paychecks went out last Monday. Personnel must report to work and still would be paid at the first pay period after the shutdown ends.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake compares Trump to Stalin

Republican Senator Jeff Flake forcefully condemned Trump on the floor of the Senate today, comparing the president’s attacks on the news media with Joseph Stalin’s.

“No longer can we compound attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to these assaults on our institutions,” Flake said in his speech. “An American president who cannot take criticism — who must constantly deflect and distort and distract — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger.”

He criticized the President for calling the news media the “enemy of the people,” calling it “an assault as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.”

“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,” he said. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

It’s easy for Flake to denounce the president in such direct language in a Senate speech because he is not seeking another term. However, depending on how this plays, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Flake is considering a primary challenge to Trump in 2020.

Stephen Miller attacks “Fire and Fury” with fire and fury

Stephen Miller defended his boss, President Trump, Sunday morning from claims made in the book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. Miller is, as you’d imagine, full of invective against the tell-all.

But Miller may also be smarting from the description Wolff offers of him in the book:

Miller, a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old’s body, was a former Jeff Sessions staffer brought on to the Trump campaign for his political experience. Except, other than being a dedicated far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller’s political views. He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences. He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy. He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread. He was supposed to be a communications specialist, but he antagonized almost everyone.

— Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (pp. 64-65). Henry Holt and Co. Kindle Edition.

CNN’s Jake Tapper got fed up with Miller’s refusal to directly answer or even address the questions he was asked in their interview:

“Fire and Fury” hits the White House hard

The publication and incredibly brisk sales of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” seem to have really gotten under President Trump’s skin.

Capture

“Fire and Fury” has upended the administration in a way no scandal previously has. Insiders report the White House has turned into a “three-ring circus” and caused a very ugly public split between the president and his former top strategist Steve Bannon.

The book describes Mr. Trump as being terrified of dementia, calling him “a man whose many neuroses included a horror of forgetfulness or senility,” and his tweets in response to the questions being raised about his mental fitness seem to bear that out.

President Trump supports massive infrastructure repair plans… unless they come from the Obama administration

President Trump has been talking a lot about infrastructure repair… but it appears if an infrastructure repair project came from the Obama administration, he wants to kill it.

The Trump administration has shut down an Obama-era deal to have the federal government help fund a $13 billion rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey, according to Crain’s New York Business.

In a letter obtained by Crain’s, an administration official calls the deal for the federal government to fund half of the project “non-existent.”

“Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator K. Jane Williams wrote in Friday’s letter, which came after New York and New Jersey requested federal loans to cover their part of the deal to split the cost of the work.

“We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” Williams continued.

The project in question would have funded much-needed repairs to an Amtrak tunnel between New Jersey and New York City, as well as help fix a damaged dual-tunnel conduit and rebuild New Jersey’s Portal Bridge.

Someone shouted “Traitor” when President Trump referred to John McCain

John McCain is many things, but he is not a traitor. One may disagree with him politically, but he has never betrayed the United States. He served and sacrificed.

During his campaign rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, President Trump talked about the failed Republican effort to kill Obamacare, noting that the Senate fell “just one vote” short, referring to McCain, whose one vote scuttled the GOP push.

It was at that moment that someone in the audience screamed “Traitor!” apparently referring to McCain, a Navy veteran who spent several years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp.

A “movement built on love”?

It’s hard to take President Trump seriously when he said, during his campaign rally in Phoenix Tuesday night, that his “movement is built on love,” that he loves all Americans, that all Americans should love each other, and that we should all have “affection” for each other. Then he went on to spend almost all of his time expressing hate and condemnation of American reporters and journalists, and inviting his supporters to boo and shout obscenities at them for several minutes. ‬

Also, I lost count of how many times he’s complained CNN isn’t carrying his speech live…. live on CNN.

Trump supporter confronting reporters