Daily Briefing: The Drama of the Gifted President

Reid announces he has enough votes to block Bush's Social Security plan: "President Bush should forget about privatizing Social Security. It will not happen." [WP, WSJ, LAT, LAT, WP, NYT]

In SOTU, Bush to celebrate spreading democracy, call for budget discipline and action on Social Security. [WP, NYT, USAT, WT]

Dean presumed to win DNC chairmanship; Frost ends quest: "The challenge ahead for Governor Dean will be to unite the party, rebuild the DNC and win elections in every region of the country." [WP, NYT, LAT, WSJ, WT]

And so much more below the fold.

DHS stricken with infighting, dysfunction, bottlenecks. Former inspector general on ineffectiveness: "I don't know where to start. . . I've never seen anything like it." [WP]

Republican agenda, starting with tort reform, designed for long-term drain of Democrats, from financing to turnout. Reich: "If the Republicans can destroy Social Security, if they can privatize it out of existence, then they remove a key foundation stone for a philosophy of governance which says we're all in it together." [LAT]

Chertoff gave conflicting responses about interrogations of John Walker Lindh. [WP]

Frist works in a pressure cooker: "I've got 750 days left, and in those 750 days I've got an agenda that can be historic, working with this president and with 55 Republican senators, and to accomplish that, every day that goes by is a day lost." Reid: "We're not going to have the nuclear option one day, and kiss and hug the next." [NYT]

Leavitt believes $60b can be safely reduced from Medicaid: "Medicaid is not meeting its potential. It is rigidly inflexible and inefficient. And, worst of all, it is not financially sustainable." [WP, NYT, WSJ]

Republicans may break deadlock over "Clear Skies" proposal by holding Senate vote. [WSJ]

Burgeoning elderly population worldwide challenges resources, healthcare. [WP]

Outgoing Ashcroft defends policies and tactics. [WP, LAT]

Bush proposes dropping operating subsidies for Amtrak. [NYT]

Clinton named UN special envoy to tsunami region. [NYT]

Bush wants to increase Pell Grants, somehow. [WSJ]

Kerry transfers $4m to Senate campaign account. [WP]

DeWine seeks answers from CIA regarding Nazi files. [NYT]

Sharansky: "[N]ow the president is viewed as an astronaut, way out in space. And they want me to explain how it looks from out there!" [NYT]

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FINALLY. Of course, we say "finally," because we haven't been behind the scenes in the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees to witness the negotiating and wrangling firsthand, so we don't know what it's taken to make this happen, but clear your calendars for July 17, because Bobby Mueller is goin' to Congress!

Committee chairs Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler sent the letter late yesterday, accompanied by a subpoena, for Mueller to testify at 9 a.m. Eastern on July 17, which is a Wednesday, so you will presumably not be busy with brunch. The hearings for each committee will be back to back, after which members of Mueller's staff will meet with committee staff behind closed doors.

Schiff told Rachel Maddow last night that it should not be viewed as a friendly subpoena, because as we all know, Mueller has been very reluctant to become the star of the political circus this will surely create. However, he's gonna have to suck it up, because as we all saw after what happened when Mueller addressed the nation for 10 whole minutes, there is great value in actually having Mueller breathe life into his own work, for an American audience that hasn't read his 448-page report. (And we don't blame them/you! We probably wouldn't have read it all if it wasn't our job. It would probably be on our "list," like "someday I am going to watch 'The Sopranos' start to finish finally. And then I will read the Mueller Report!")

Point is, it needs to happen on live TV, where people can gather around at work and on the train and in the Fantastic Sams while they gets their hair did, and let this highly respected public servant tell the story of how America's most hostile enemy attacked the 2016 election in order to help Donald Trump, how the Trump campaign was positively orgasmic over that reacharound, and how Trump criminally obstructed the investigation into that hostile foreign attack at every turn.

And because Robert Mueller is a patriotic American who respects the rule of law and our institutions, he will be complying with the subpoena, because of fucking course he will.

Right off the bat, we have a couple of questions:

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Beds at the 'temporary' shelter in Homestead, Florida. US HHS photo.

The House of Representatives passed a $4.5 billion emergency bill to fund detention of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers yesterday, but the bill's demands that government meet minimal standards of humane treatment led Donald Trump to threaten a veto, because no one puts cruelty in a corner. The bill passed largely along party lines, 230-195, with four progressive Democratic first-term representatives opposing it because they believed the machinery of the New Cruelty shouldn't get a single dollar more. Trump prefers a bill already passed by the Senate, which would provide a similar level of funding $4.6 billion), but lacks the House bill's crazy radical requirements that migrants be held in less horrifying conditions than have been reported in the last week.

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