Tuesday Reads: Trump Delusions Vs. Reality

by Pavel Chudnovsky

Good Morning!!

Can I just spend the day looking at art work on Pinterest and browsing books on Amazon? The real world has become unreal. Is anyone ever going to stop this insanity? Yesterday Trump actually claimed Democrats committed treason because they didn’t cheer enthusiastically for his idiotic SOTU speech. NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump on Monday called Democrats’ stone-faced reaction to his State of the Union address last week “treasonous” and “un-American” during a visit to a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati.

Trump described Republicans as “going totally crazy wild” during his remarks last Tuesday, while expression-less Democrats remained seated for the majority of the speech. “They were like death,” Trump lamented. “And un-American. Un-American.”

But their reaction, he said, was also something much worse.

Vaguely noting that “someone” called the Democrats’ reactions “‘treasonous,'” Trump said he agreed. “I mean, yeah, I guess. Why not? … Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Coffee And Cat, by Betty Pieper

In Trump’s mind, “our country” means *Trump.* This moron thinks he’s a dictator and he can’t understand why he doesn’t get robotic fealty like Kim Jong Un. If he could get away with it, would he murder his critics like Kim does? I don’t want to live in a tin-pot dictatorship, thank you very much.

While Trump was busy tearing down the First Amendment, the stock market that he constantly touts took a record nose dive. Oddly, he’s suddenly gone silent on that front.

The New York Times: How Deep Is the Hole the Stock Market Just Stepped In?

After the Dow Jones industrial average index shed 1,175 points on Monday, extending a rout that began in earnest last week, investors will be wondering what size hole the market has just fallen into.

Of course, it’s impossible to tell exactly where a bottom is, but there are ways to assess whether a sell-off will gather steam or burn out.

Nearly all the economic news has been good in recent weeks, but in the often-neurotic world of investing, the news has perhaps been too good. Two reports last week that wages are growing at a solid pace, for instance, helped prompt the latest selling.

Investors fear that an increase in wages, especially at a time of low unemployment, might lead to higher inflation, which in turn could prompt the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates more quickly than expected. The higher borrowing costs would then crimp companies’ investment plans, leading eventually to lower economic growth over all. There is no evidence that this chain reaction has begun, but when the stock market is in a skittish mood, it does not wait around for the next economic release.

The market is still fluctuating today. The New York Times: Wall Street Unsettled After a Global Rout.

The sometimes-panicky global market sell-off eased somewhat on Tuesday morning, as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index bounced between positive and negative territory in early trading in the United States.

MARKET SNAPSHOT 

  • S.& P. 500–0.26%
  • DOW+0.12%
  • NASDAQ+0.04%

After steep drops in Asia and significant declines in Europe, investors assessed whether Wall Street’s violent decline on Monday — when the S.&P. lost more than 4 percent, its worst decline since August 2011 — reflected actual fundamentals or was merely a long-overdue outbreak of investor jitters

For months, markets seemed to sleepwalk ever higher, as measures of volatility — the ups and downs of stock prices — hit remarkably calm levels. Investors appeared to grow accustomed to an economic backdrop of lackluster growth and inflation, a state of affairs that ensured powerful global central banks would continue to support markets with a range of policies.

But the peaceful climb ended in recent days. Investors have become worried that the solid economy in the United States could be showing early signals of inflation pressure. Those concerns drove yields on long-term Treasury bonds sharply higher in recent weeks, as economic data — such as the Labor Department’s jobs report last Friday — showed wages growing at their fastest clip in years.

The Washington Post: Trump and Republicans discover the perils of touting the stock market.

President Trump and congressional Republicans have spent much of the past year trying to connect a giddy stock market rally with their economic agenda, but stocks’ precipitous plunge in the past five days has delivered a sobering reality: What goes up can come back down — quickly and with little warning.

With Monday’s steep fall, Trump has presided over the biggest stock market drop in U.S. history, when measured by points in the Dow Jones industrial average. The free fall began in earnest Jan. 30 and snowballed Friday and Monday, for a combined loss of almost 2,100 points, or 8 percent of the Dow’s value.

It is also unclear if the past week will amount to a small correction or the beginning of a painful slide that many investors said was overdue.

Trump’s economic team is largely untested in periods of economic uncertainty. Many investors and lawmakers are watching the actions of Trump’s newly sworn-in pick for Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, to see how quickly he is willing to raise interest rates in the face of rising inflation.

It’s already obvious that Trump and the GOP have no clue how to deal with the economy. Just look at the predictable results of their irresponsible tax cuts. The Washington Post: The U.S. government is set to borrow nearly $1 trillion this year, an 84 percent jump from last year.

Portrait of a Lady with a Cat, Yaroshenko Nicholas Aleksandrovich, Russian

It was another crazy news week, so it’s understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump’s first full year in charge of the budget.

That’s almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal 2017.

Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to documents released Wednesday. It’s the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year.

Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law.

Surprise, surprise.

Oh, and remember that trade deficit that Trump is always complaining about? Bloomberg: U.S. Trade Deficit Is Wider Than Any Month or Year Since 2008.

The U.S. trade deficit widened to the biggest monthly and annual levels since the last recession, underscoring the inherent friction in President Donald Trump’s goal of narrowing the gap while enjoying faster economic growth.

The deficit increased 5.3 percent in December to a larger-than- expected $53.1 billion, the widest since October 2008, as imports outpaced exports, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday. For all of 2017, the goods-and-services gap grew 12 percent to $566 billion, the biggest since 2008.

The trend may extend into this year: Solid consumer spending and business investment — assuming they hold up amid the recent stock-market rout — will fuel demand for foreign-made merchandise. While improving overseas growth and a weaker dollar bode well for exports, Trump’s efforts to seek more favorable terms with U.S. trading partners remain a work in progress, and his tax-cut legislation may cause the deficit to widen further.

Meanwhile, as Republicans try to recover from Devin Nunes’ failed attempt to help Trump stop the Mueller investigation, we’re headed for another government shutdown. NBC News: Government shutdown deadline looms Thursday as lawmakers try for DACA deal.

The next short-term government funding bill is set to run out Thursday and Congress is poised to pass a fifth stop-gap funding bill to keep the lights on.

The latest deadline looms as a deal on DACA, which in part forced the last government shutdown, has yet to emerge that will get the support of the White House….

The House is expected to vote on their version Tuesday. It would extend government funding until March 23 but fund the Defense Department for the remainder of the fiscal year, which would appease the conservative Freedom Caucus and defense hawks.

It would also fund community health centers for two years, which is something the Democrats have been demanding. It’s unclear, however, if the Senate would support the House measure.

But House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was critical, calling Republicans “incompetent.”

“Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House but they have to rely on five stop-gap spending bills in a row to keep government running? Republicans must stop governing from manufactured crisis to crisis, and work with Democrats to pass the many urgent, long overdue priorities of the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Sigh . . . remember those long-ago days when we didn’t have an insane “president” who triggered three or four major crises every day? Oh wait. That was only a little more than a year ago.

The Nunes memo was a joke, but the internet crazies and Fox News are still trying to make something of it. Who knows where that nonsense is going–I don’t even want to think about it. Yesterday the House intel committee voted to release the Democratic response to the memo, but it will be up to Trump to decide if that happens. Politico: Schiff warns White House against political redactions from Dem memo.

Rep. Adam Schiff predicted Tuesday that the White House would not block the release of a Democratic memo related to the Russia investigation, but he warned the administration against trying to obfuscate the document by redacting portions that could embarrass President Donald Trump.

The memo, drafted by Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is intended to rebut one released last week from committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The Nunes memo alleges that the FBI improperly sought a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on a dossier of unverified intelligence….

“What I’m more concerned about … is that they make political redactions,” the California Democrat said. “That is, not redactions to protect sources or methods, which we’ve asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to do, but redactions to remove information they think is unfavorable to the president. That could be a real problem, and that’s our main concern at this point.”

Though all the insanity that our politics has become, Robert Mueller doggedly continues his work. Garrett M. Graff at Wired: Bob Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger–and Further Along–Than You Think.

Last summer, I wrote an analysis exploring the “known unknowns” of the Russia investigation—unanswered but knowable questions regarding Mueller’s probe. Today, given a week that saw immense sturm und drang over Devin Nunes’ memo—a document that seems purposefully designed to obfuscate and muddy the waters around Mueller’s investigation—it seems worth asking the opposite question: What are the known knowns of the Mueller investigation, and where might it be heading?

The first thing we know is that we know it is large.

We speak about the “Mueller probe” as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office—some threads of these investigations may overlap or intersect, some may be completely free-standing, and some potential targets may be part of multiple threads. But it’s important to understand the different “buckets” of Mueller’s probe.

The five “buckets” are: 1. Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering, 2. Russian Information Operations, 3. Active Cyber Intrusions, 4. Russian Campaign Contacts, 5. Obstruction of Justice. Read detailed explanations at Wired.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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46 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Trump Delusions Vs. Reality”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Splinter: John Kelly Smears Immigrants Who Didn’t Apply for DACA as ‘Too Lazy to Get Off Their Asses’

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Tuesday that President Trump has already done more than his fair share to help undocumented young people, including those who were “too lazy to get off their asses” to apply for the DACA program.

    Speaking with reporters at the Capitol, Kelly referred to Trump’s hard-right immigration proposal, which offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants—not just those who have officially gained DACA status. According to The Washington Post’s Erica Werner, Kelly used this as an opportunity to smear the young people his boss has helped to terrorize (emphasis added):

    There are 690,000 official DACA recipients and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million. The difference between 690 and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses but they didn’t sign up.

    Kelly also said he “doubt[s] very much” that Trump would extend the program past the March 5 deadline the White House gave to Congress to come up with a permanent legislative solution when it killed the DACA program six months ago. (The fate of the program is in legal limbo after a judge temporarily blocked the administration’s push to end it.)

    • NW Luna says:

      …or they were working 3 jobs just to pay for rent and groceries.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Or they were afraid of outing themselves to Trump’s storm troopers.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I took a brief stint between jobs to work in a thrift store several years ago – largely because I love thrift stores. Anyway there were some Mexicans working there (I think it might have been community service because the place was a charity) and those guys worked circles around me. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard AND make it look easy.

        I’d like General High and Mighty Kelly to work just one day in a tomato field in Florida in summer.

        • quixote says:

          Tell me about it. Where I live I drive through agricultural areas to get anywhere. I see workers planting, weeding, harvesting. Stand, bend, cut and lift two pound cabbage, cut away ugly outer leaves, put in box in neat rows, tops facing up, bend, cut … etc. One sequence takes you 8 seconds. Right. Try it. It’s hard to do that fast without a two pound cabbage. Do that for 2 hrs straight. You’ve done those motions 900 times. Bathroom break. Another two hours. 900 times. Lunch break. Two hours. Tiny break. Two hours. End of the day. Some of them bike home, which is miles away. Most carpool. At one farm where the owner set up a soccer field, some of them, after all that, play soccer for an hour or two. Energetically. Laughing and shouting.

          My next door neighbor would come home about 3:30 (the field hands’ day starts around 6:30am), be there when the kids got home from school, get the laundry done, cook dinner. (Her husband was a mechanic and got home after 6.) At eight or nine pm they’d all be sitting outside, talking, not even looking tired. Next day up at 4:30 to catch the car pool at 5am.

          Every once in a while, the LATimes sends off some young reporter to try out the life and report back. Generally, strong fit young guys last less than an hour. They get through the day, though, because the other field hands cover for them.

          None of this is hyperbole. Several times, I’d park my car and actually time the workers because I planned to write about the work. They get paid on the order of $2.50 an hour and have a 47-year life expectancy.

          I can’t tell you how much red I see every time I hear garbage about lazy or freeloading immigrants.

          • jan says:

            great story! and the American workers aren’t a heck of a lot better off. And One dollar and Fifty cents more a week is considered a really big raise. And killing off the ‘socialized medicine’ of Obamacare is seen as a big benefit so low paid workers can choose their own doctors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????????????? I think I am going insane.

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Oh q, that is the truth. The honest truth.

    • dakinikat says:

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      He used the nastiest insulting language possible because he is a nasty insulting person. He is as big a racist and asshole as Trumpkin Head.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Don’t let pay increases coming out of tax reform fool you

    Egged on by the White House, corporate America has spent the past few weeks touting how it is sharing its big Trump tax cut with employees in the form of bonuses and pay increases — an apparent validation of the trickle-down approach to economics espoused by the president and his Republican allies.

    But when we look at the numbers, we see the opposite: The nation’s workers are getting woefully little, at least relatively speaking. Peeking beyond the PR, our analysis finds that major corporations are planning to spend more than 30 times what they are putting in the wallets of employees on buying back their own stock — a practice solely meant to lift the fortunes of shareholders.

    But context is crucial. In the scheme of things, the American worker is still being handed crumbs.

  3. NW Luna says:

    Those “treasonous” Dems who didn’t clap during Trump’s SOTU.

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth: I swore an oath to the Constitution, not to clap when Trump demands

    “We don’t live in a dictatorship or monarchy. I swore an oath — in the military and in the Senate — to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap,” Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote in a tweet, using a nickname she had given Trump, who had said in previous interviews that he was granted medical deferment during the Vietnam War after bone spurs in his feet were diagnosed.

  4. NW Luna says:

    BB, I love the artwork you’ve chosen for this post (especially the ones with cats). Calming.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    I read somewhere yesterday – can’t remember where – that Mueller said the only way he would accept the job as special counsel was that Trump’s tax returns be made available the day he took over the investigation.

    So assuming that this was the case, the investigation began with those returns sitting on Mueller’s desk from the beginning.

    Everything emanates from what is in those returns.

  6. Enheduanna says:

    If anyone is interested in watching the Spacex Falcom Heavy launch this afternoon:

    http://www.spacex.com/

    I think it looks like 3:45PM now. The news reporting is abysmal.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    This was kinda exciting this morning:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Trump is demanding a military parade like the one in France.

    WaPo: Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-marching-orders-to-the-pentagon-plan-a-grand-military-parade/2018/02/06/9e19ca88-0b55-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.b063c08403ef

  10. dakinikat says:

    BREAKING NEWS: Mike Revis (D-MO) the Democratic candidate for the 97th House District in Missouri has defeated David Linton (R-MO) in the special election, flipping the seat. This was a 61%-33% Trump seat in 2016!