Monday Reads: While you were watching the Circus Come to Town

Fotos antiguas de un circo espeluznante: Circo Antiguo Aterrador

Morning Sky Dancers!

I thought I’d remind us that there’s policy gone missing and forgotten while T-Russia and psychopaths continue to shape the American political scene and policy.  As an economist, I’m really worried about the debt ceiling and the fall budget process.  The emphasis has been on giving exorbitant tax cuts to the uber wealthy with little thought to the actual idea of what it takes to run and maintain our Federal Government.  Here is one economist– you may recognize the name Stan Collender from textbooks–whose as worried as I am.   He’s detailed 3 federal debt ceiling nightmares.

This easily got lost amid all of last week’s other Washington-related craziness: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that Democrats should provide the votes the Trump administration will need to pass the increase in the federal debt ceiling required by the end of September.

Say what?

Mnuchin’s strategy, if you can call it that, is incredibly…and almost comically…politically naive. Congressional Democrats were thoroughly vilified by Republicans during the Obama administration whenever they voted to increase the debt ceiling and those votes were used as examples of fiscal profligacy by their GOP election opponents. There’s simply no way Schumer is not going to take advantage of the opportunity to do the same to Republicans this time around.

This political version of turnabout-is-fair-play is especially likely because the White House and congressional Republicans offered Democrats less-than-nothing in return for voting for the debt limit increase. To the contrary, at around the same time Mnuchin was making his pitch to Schumer for Democratic help, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was announcing that tax reform would be done through the reconciliation process so Republicans wouldn’t have to…wait for it…work with Democrats.

Mnuchin demonstrated an extreme lack of legislative experience and very bad political instincts. He also committed the cardinal political sin of a senior administration official not coordinating his Hill activities with the GOP’s congressional leaders.

But far more important than his political naïveté and ineptitude was what Mnuchin’s discussion with Schumer demonstrates: The debt ceiling increase is in far more trouble than the Republican congressional leadership, the Trump administration and Wall Street are admitting.

Artist Dame Laura Knight sketching chorus girls behind the scenes at a circus at Olympia. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

So who is surprised that the least experienced and able people in the world are in charge of the process?  Buehler?  Buehler? The White House is actually threatening to shut down the Federal Government over tax cuts and the damned wall.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, says the Trump administration has clear expectations for the fall: “We get tax reform and we also complete funding of the government which includes rebuilding of the military and securing our border.” (Read: the wall.)

Sources inside and close to Republican Hill leadership, however, are privately less sanguine:

  • Some say there’s a good chance of a government shutdown before the end of the year because of deep rifts over spending priorities.
  • No one sees Trump’s wall getting much more than a symbolic nod, which is sure to anger Trump and the Bannon faction, and could lead to a shutdown.
  • Tax reform in this calendar year seems increasingly unlikely. A bill and big debate? Yes. Something signed into law? Very hard given the points above and persistently deep disagreements over which loopholes to keep and how to pay for the tax cuts.

What happens next: Congress must pass bills to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government before the end of September. Top Hill sources believe the most likely scenario is that a coalition of Republican leaders, Republican moderates and Democrats cobble together a bill that extends government funding for three months, reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program and raises the debt limit.

  • Hill leaders have discussed ways to get Trump “enough” on border security so he feels they’re making enough progress to sign their funding bills. This could mean modest funding for the wall or other border security measures that moderates could live with, and/or other avenues to add funding to fight international crime gangs like MS-13.
  • But sources close to Trump say he’s dead serious about building an impressive wall and will go crazy when he realizes Congress has no plans to pay for it.
  • Even if Paul Ryan can work magic, the bill still needs 60 votes in the Senate to pass. That means leadership will have to work with a messy coalition of Republican moderates and centrist-Democrats — sure to enrage Tea Party types and fuel even more anti-Ryan vitriol.

Bottom line: The wall is no metaphor to Trump. He will accept no substitutes to a huge, long, physical wall, which he believes his voters viscerally want. He told GOP Hill leaders in June he wants it to be 40 to 50 feet high and covered with solar panels. Hill Republicans privately mocked that idea, but some of those same people now recognize that Trump’s big, beautiful — and in their minds, ridiculous — wall could be the thing that brings the U.S. government to its knees.

Rahm Emmanuel–still Mayor of Chicago–is accusing Trump of “blackmailing sanctuary cities”. What impact will withholding crime enforcement money have to American’s large cities?  This current administration’s policy on everything appears to be a Constitutional Lawyer Employment Act.  Up those donations to the ACLU!  Will there be career DOJ lawyers who want to defend this crap?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused the Trump administration on Sunday of trying to blackmail Chicago and other sanctuary cities by threatening to withhold crime-fighting money if police departments don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.

Emanuel, flanked by Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, announced that Chicago will sue the Trump administration, claiming new requirements to receive federal money are unconstitutional.

The Justice Department fired back at Emanuel, pointing out the city’s growing problem with violent crimes.

“In 2016, more Chicagoans were murdered than in New York City and Los Angeles combined. So it’s especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago’s law enforcement at greater risk,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Sun-Times.

However, the two law firms handling the case for the city, Riley Safer and Wilmer Hale, are not charging for their services, the city said.

At issue is the Trump administration’s stepped up actions to force local governments shielding undocumented immigrants — such as Chicago and Cook County — to cooperate with federal immigration authorities who want access to local jails, information about undocumented immigrants and other accommodations.

The lawsuit will argue that President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are acting unconstitutionally in threatening the city’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program funds, meant to support local policing efforts. The suit will be filed Monday in federal court in Chicago.

Here’s a fun hit piece on Kremlin Caligula from Slate by Paul Rosenberg. “Trump’s malignant pattern: He woos people, rips them off and then abandons them — and he won’t stop. Trump has followed the same manipulative script over and over again, in politics as in business. We’re the marks.”  Well, isn’t that a special lede?  The tags are a must read and include “snakes in suits”, psychopaths, and mental disorder. Hmmmmm …

It’s not just that Trump’s loyalty is only to himself, as should have been obvious given the scores of associates he’s wooed, ripped off and discarded over his long career, including his own lawyers, at times. Rather, it’s the centrality of this cycle to the way that Trump operates. It’s not a bug, or a feature, it’s the feature of his career — a window both into his abnormal psyche and into the cultural and political dynamics that have allowed him to flourish in the midst of more general ruin. As Peter Turchin argues in “Ages of Discord“ (Salon review here), the erosion of prosocial norms and increase in antisocial elite behavior are key features of historical periods like the one we’re engulfed in, when state breakdown, civil wars and revolutions occur.

There was also the matter of how Trump justifies the prospective discarding of associates, and how he lays predicates for wooing, ripping off and discarding the next crop of eager, willing victim/accomplices. (“I think it is very unfair to the president,” Trump said of Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation — the onlyethical option he had.) But the how of this intended discarding can only be appreciated in terms of the larger pattern — a pattern that has received far too little notice, given how much attention has been given to Trump’s mental health, or lack thereof.

The cycle referred to is most insightfully described in the book “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work,” by criminal psychologist Robert Hare, whose checklist has revolutionized the understanding of psychopathy, and industrial psychologist Paul Babiak, an expert on the corporate environment. Psychopathy is not the same as anti-social personality disorder (APD), the book explains. “The difference between psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder is that the former includes personality traits such as lack of empathy, grandiosity, and shallow emotion that are not necessary for a diagnosis of APD. APD is three or four times more common than psychopathy in the general population and in prisons.”

There’s been a great deal of commentary about Trump’s apparent psychological abnormalities, but “Snakes in Suits” describes a particular pattern that stands out for the combination of clarity it brings to bear and the broad scope of action it describes. This pattern consists of a three-phase game plan many psychopaths in corporate settings use a when engaging with victims, “a natural outgrowth of their personality” that is often more automatic than consciously planned:

First, they assess the value of individuals to their needs, and identify their psychological strengths and weaknesses. Second, they manipulate the individuals (now potential victims) by feeding them carefully crafted messages, while constantly using feedback from them to build and maintain control. Not only is this an effective approach to take with most people, it also allows psychopaths to talk their way around and out of any difficulty quickly and effectively if confronted or challenged. Third, they leave the drained and bewildered victims when they are bored or otherwise through with them.

Whether or not Trump qualifies as a psychopath or a malignant narcissist (they are closely related), he has a long public history of behavior patterns that fit this description, even though he has never worked in a normal corporate organization, the setting described in the book. Those qualifications, which would loom large for any therapist treating Trump, pale in comparison to the similarities that matter to us as citizens. Trump has traversed the trajectory described countless times, with customers, business associates, lawyers and wives. Why shouldn’t he do the same with everyone in the political world as well? And if he actually does deviate from the pattern for some reason — which is always a possibility — understanding his behavioral baseline will still be crucial in making sense of that departure from it.

This link is perhaps the most interesting in the article and it comes from USA Today. It’s old but germane. It lists Trump’s 3500 odd-and I do mean odd–lawsuits.  Bob Murray is a piker compared to the Malignant Orange Melanoma.

An exclusive USA TODAY analysis of legal filings across the United States finds that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his businesses have been involved in at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades. They range from skirmishes with casino patrons to million-dollar real estate suits we found thanks to Austin tenant advisors to personal defamation lawsuits.

The sheer volume of lawsuits is unprecedented for a presidential nominee. No candidate of a major party has had anything approaching the number of Trump’s courtroom entanglements.

Just since he announced his candidacy a year ago, at least 70 new cases have been filed, about evenly divided between lawsuits filed by him and his companies and those filed against them. And the records review found at least 50 civil lawsuits remain open even as he moves toward claiming the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in seven weeks. On Tuesday, court documents were released in one of the most dramatic current cases, filed in California by former students accusing Trump University of fraudulent and misleading behavior.

The legal actions provide clues to the leadership style the billionaire businessman would bring to bear as commander in chief. He sometimes responds to even small disputes with overwhelming legal force. He doesn’t hesitate to deploy his wealth and legal firepower against adversaries with limited resources, such as homeowners. He sometimes refuses to pay real estate brokers, lawyers and other vendors.

As he campaigns, Trump often touts his skills as a negotiator. The analysis shows that lawsuits are one of his primary negotiating tools. He turns to litigation to distance himself from failing projects that relied on the Trump brand to secure investments. As USA TODAY previously reported, he also uses the legal system to haggle over his property tax bills. His companies have been involved in more than 100 tax disputes, and the New York State Department of Finance has obtained liens on Trump properties for unpaid tax bills at least three dozen times.

The man leaves broken lives and businesses wherever he goes.  I’m just waiting to see which country becomes his first victim.  I’m unfortunately thinking it will be us if it doesn’t involve nukes.  Oh, and speaking of CORRUPTION.

It’s really hard to believe the audacity of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate. They’re not subtle. They’re not good at it. They’re obviously oblivious to laws. They’ve forgotten they’re all the targets of investigation on some operational level.

While all the xenophobic bigoted rhetoric keeps coming out of our white nationalist overlords, the truth about terrorism is more like this.  I used to work in Bloomington, Minnesota and lived in the nearby community of Edina.  This is not what one usually thinks of a quiet Minneapolis suburb but here it is.  The real face of domestic terrorism.   My guess is it’s the usual suspect; white, male, gun nut, christian, and woman beating.

The attack on a Bloomington Islamic center is “an act of terrorism” and a hate crime, Gov. Mark Dayton declared Sunday during a visit to show solidarity.

“What a terrible, dastardly, cowardly, terrible act this was that was committed,” Dayton said of the explosion early Saturday that broke a window and ignited the imam’s office. About a dozen men were praying nearby, but no one was injured.

“The destruction done to this sacred site is just unthinkable, unforgivable. I hope and pray the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Minnesotans, Dayton said, “accept one another. We support one another. We respect one another. We live together. We work together. We succeed together. We’re not going to let one bad person get in the way of all that.

“Anything I can do to put a stop to it, I would gladly do,” he said to applause. “All I can do in this situation is come here [to] express my solidarity, sympathy and determination.”

Dayton’s comments came after he and a delegation of public officials spent an hour inside the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington with about 100 community members.

Here’s some presidential leadership for you from the WATB-in-Chief.

That’s just the most dignified set of tweets we’ve seen EVAH! I’m so tired of “winning!!!” bigly.  The Democratic Senator from Conneticut may find himself on the short list for Presidential material on this alone.  He’s been outfront keeping this administration as honest as possible given Vichy Republican collaboration.

So,  it continues and as usual, it will continue from a Trump Golf Resort, a huge taxpayer bill, and a circus. Unfortunately, the clowns run the show and every one else is just at their mercy.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

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38 Comments on “Monday Reads: While you were watching the Circus Come to Town”

    • cheekos says:

      Please, please, please, don’t call Trump’s Tax Scam “Reform”! It’s just code for Restore the Bush Tax Cuts for the uber-wealthy. It would increase the economic divide, between the Have’s and the Have Not’s. But, it would do nothing to stimulate the economy!

      Our Tax Code, after 100 years of additions, depending upon which ever party was in power, and the idiotology du jour, does need reform, but true reform! Kinda like the starter home, which was expanded every which way, as the family continued to grow, child after child. It’s time to knock it down and start over!

      If we wish true tax reform, it must be taken away from the politicians, and entrusted to a totally bipartisan Commission, with equal membership and Co-Chairs. Participants should be Tax and Financial people, the Commission should be subject to the oversight of a similarly 50/50 bipartisan Senate Select Committee.

      Also, it should be formed for a ten-year period, in order to further remove it from the political cycle. Personnel changes would be reviewed by the Oversight Committee, and successive iterations of the Commission could be provided for, every several decades.

    • dakinikat says:

      Rather frightening and morally reprehensible that overrun they’d over run and destroy a preserve to build a war to separate us from an ally and a trading partner. Racism and xenophobia just are terrifically evil.

      Meanwhile … I was just watching GOT … any one got a few dragons they can spare?

    • NW Luna says:

      Destroying a nature preserve is vile.

  1. Mary Luke says:

    Kat I Iove your description of Trump’s malignant wooing pattern. Isn’t he just
    the epitome of every fly by night seductive man we’ve ever met?
    .The thing is , the men he ‘s doing this to probably don’T know what hit them. Welcome to our world guys.
    It would be funny if the government were not so dangerously and ineptly understaffed. Like the eternal Don Juan word will get around and no one competent will work for him.

    • NW Luna says:

      Trump’s manipulative pattern is very familiar to a lot of women. All smooth-talking and reassurance, but he never really listens and there’s something not quite right in how he brushes aside any resistance. Oh, and he expects you to be flattered by his attention, as if you didn’t really deserve it. He thinks you’re just something he can toy with. “Malignant” is a truly accurate descriptive.

      Fortunately a number of us have good BS detectors. The rest are fooling themselves.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I don’t feel sorry for anyone – man or woman – willing to work for this POS, who is subsequently ruined by him. I hope Bannon and Conway are next. Even the drive-by casualties (Billy Bush) got what they deserved.

      I don’t put his victims of sexual predation in that category of course.

  2. NW Luna says:

    I just saw a hilarious Twitter tag: #IMPOTUS 🍊🤡

  3. NW Luna says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Perceived threats to their idea of status leading to false worries about their economic status. The rightwing racists are motivated by fear and anger — and it’s all needless.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      His rants are crazy! He’s obviously unhinged. I worry he’s inciting his followers to violence more than he’s ever done before. Not that that’s a reason to not pursue the evidence. And it’s mind-boggling to know these wingnuts are even more set in their delusions when faced with evidence that their beliefs are based on nonsense.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Is this justifiable concern or is it sexism? There are the examples of Trump with his nepotism re: daughter & son-in-law. Then there’s Hillary’s (unpaid) and meaningful role when Bill was President.

    Macron wants his wife to have an official role. The French aren’t so sure.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/07/macron-wants-his-wife-to-have-an-official-role-the-french-arent-so-sure/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-world%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.d70da2acc6ea

    • dakinikat says:

      She’s a high school drama teacher. I’m not sure what she brings to the table.

    • Enheduanna says:

      They don’t really say what “role” it would be. If he’s saying she should be paid for her duties as First Lady, beyond the security details and staff/office – seems that should be voted on as something requisite to the office for future first ladies? The way Macron is handling it looks like rank nepotism.

    • NW Luna says:

      He should come out with a detailed description of job responsibilities.

  7. NW Luna says:

    And one response said ‘you say “wealthy”; what you mean is “high income”.‘ Guess that’s the new buzzword among the right. Hmm, I think “filthy rich” is better.

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. NW Luna says:

    Thread:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Sounds about right – the same way they took over film editing.

      I finally rented Hidden Figures a couple of months ago and cried my eyes out. Wonderful film.

      • NW Luna says:

        Loved that film! It was hard to not shout out challenges and defiance at a lot of the scenes though.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. NW Luna says:

    My local news: Air conditions are improving, but not by much. That’s smoke, not rainy mist.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Cue the “firing is unfair!” and “you’re so easily offended!” chorus.

  13. dakinikat says:

    http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2017/06/profit-health-care-illegal-nixon-changed-everything/

    For Profit Health Care Was Illegal Until Nixon Changed Everything

    Prior to 1973 it was illegal in the United States to make profits from healthcare. In 1973, the Health Maintenance Organisation Act was passed, effectively changing the status from profiting off healthcare being illegal to legal.

    In 1973 the then US President, Richard Nixon, passed the Health Maintenance Organization Act. The Act enabled medical centers, clinics, doctors, insurance companies and doctors to function as for-profit businesses, rather than operating solely as non-profit services.

    The passing of the Health Maintenance Organization Act represented a significant effect by the US government to, as the (1) NCBI writes, “experiment with organizational change in the structure of the health care delivery system.” By being provided with grants to either start-up or develop, the Act helped to cement Health Maintenance Organizations into the American health system.

  14. dakinikat says:

    This is pretty scary.

    Trump retweets Fox News story containing classified info

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/08/politics/trump-retweet-fox-news-north-korea-story-haley/index.html