Monday Reads: While you were watching the Circus Come to TownPosted: August 7, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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, there has been a courtroom reporter each time.
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?