Frantic Friday Reads: Back to Work Edition

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Apricot dryers labor in Coit Tower mural (WPA art)

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

So a morning scan of the headlines has me convinced we’re already circling the drain and it’s of the utmost importance we get this administration out of the Executive Branch. First, the economic news keeps being worrisome.

The jobs numbers released yesterday were boosted by the addition of temporary Census workers while the overall numbers in the private sector were weaker than expected. It’s coming. That’s all I can say.  Via Bloomberg: “Jobs Report Shows U.S. Labor Market Cracking But Not Crumbling.”  

Weak August job gains signaled the U.S. labor market’s slowdown is deepening as the trade war with China takes a toll on the economy, even as some details of the report suggested a recession is far from imminent.

Private payrolls rose 96,000, a three-month low, according to Labor Department figures Friday that trailed the median estimate of economists for a 150,000 gain. Total nonfarm payrolls climbed a below-forecast 130,000, which was boosted by 25,000 temporary government workers to prepare for the 2020 Census count.

While average monthly job gains of 158,000 this year are down sharply from 223,000 in 2018, the pace is still more than enough to keep pace with population growth. In addition, the jobless rate held near a half-century low and average hourly earnings topped forecasts.

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Coit Tower mural grape pickers

The news from the Farm Belt is not encouraging at all,  This is via US News and WR:  “Farm Loan Delinquencies Surge in U.S. Election Battleground Wisconsin”.

Farm loan delinquencies rose to a record high in June at Wisconsin’s community banks, data showed on Thursday, a sign President Donald Trump’s trade conflicts with China and other countries are hitting farmers hard in a state that could be crucial for his chances of re-election in 2020.

The share of farm loans that are long past-due rose to 2.9% at community banks in Wisconsin as of June 30, the highest rate in comparable records that go back to 2001, according to a Reuters analysis of loan delinquency data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Then there’s the rust belt where Trumpist policies are basically killing US Manufacturing.  It’s enough to make an economist weep.  We saw this all coming. This is from the LA TImes written by Michael Hiltzick.

U.S. manufacturers must be asking themselves just now: If President Trump is our friend, what would an enemy look like?

That’s the question raised by the latest statistic on the manufacturing economy, the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers index for August, released Tuesday.

The index, in which a figure below 50 indicates that manufacturing is contracting, unexpectedly fell to 49.1. That’s down from 51.2 in July — the first decline in 35 months.

The gloom may be spreading. Comments by the ISM’s panel of purchasing executives “reflect a notable decrease in business confidence,” the institute said.

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Industries of California, Coit Tower Murals WPA art

University of Michigan’s famous consumer confidence index plummeted last month and I do mean mean plummeted.

The Consumer Sentiment Index posted its largest monthly decline in August 2019 (-8.6 points) since December 2012 (-9.8 points), according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

The 2012 plunge reflected widespread fears among consumers that they would be pushed off the “fiscal cliff” due to rising taxes and falling government spending, said U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys.

The recent decline is due to negative references to tariffs, which were spontaneously mentioned by one-in-three consumers, he said. Unlike concerns about the fiscal cliff, which were promptly resolved, Trump’s tariff policies have been subject to repeated reversals amid threats of higher future tariffs.

Such tactics may have some merit in negotiations with China but act to increase uncertainty and diminish consumer spending at home, Curtin said. Unlike the repeated tariff reversals, negative trends in consumer sentiment cannot be easily reversed.

“The August data indicate that the erosion of consumer confidence due to tariff policies is now well under way,” Curtin said. “Compared with those who did not reference tariffs, consumers who made spontaneous negative references to tariffs also voiced higher year-ahead inflation expectations, more frequently expected rising unemployment, and expected smaller annual gains in household incomes.

“While the overall level of sentiment is still consistent with modest gains in consumption during the year ahead, the data nonetheless increased the likelihood that consumers could be pushed off the tariff cliff in the months ahead. This could result in a much slower growth in consumption and the overall economy.”

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“Richmond Industrial City,” created by Victor Arnautoff commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts, had been installed at the downtown post office in April 1941.

Meanwhile, Trumpers and his crime family syndicate maintain their grifter status as we delve more into the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors” that they’ve committed.  Here’s a new one from Business Insider: “Trump may have committed tax fraud by fabricating a loan to avoid paying income taxes on nearly $50 million” that briefs us on a big MOJO expose.  Congress must be overwhelmed by its choice of scandals and misdeeds to investigate.

President Donald Trump may have fabricated a loan to avoid paying taxes on nearly $50 million of income, Mother Jones reported in a bombshell investigation published on Thursday.

The controversy appears to be related to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and a shadowy shell company Trump owns called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. Media reports have found that the company does not earn revenue and is essentially worthless. Trump has said on his financial-disclosure forms that he owes more than $50 million to the company, which he controls.

Trump and the Trump Organization have not commented much on the loan, but Mother Jones noted that the president, then a Republican candidate, told The New York Times in 2016 that he bought the loan from a group of banks several years ago and that instead of retiring it, he decided to keep it outstanding and pays interest on it to himself.

Meanwhile, Congressional probes deepen into a long list of ethics and criminal actions. Here’s a few listed today.

Democrats widen impeachment probe as they confront roadblocks  —  Impeachment may be tough sell for Dems in red districts  —  (CNN)Faced with a time crunch ahead of the 2020 election season, the House Judiciary Committee is broadening its investigation beyond special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings …

Mary Clare Jalonick / Associated Press:
House Democrats probe use of taxpayer money at Trump hotels

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Part of Coit Tower Murals’“California Industrial Scenes” . Workers at a May Day demonstration.

and via Reuters: “Exclusive: U.S. congressional probe finds possible lapses in Deutsche Bank controls”

The congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman, Troy Gravitt, said the bank cannot comment on the work of the congressional committees but remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.

The Democrat-controlled House began examining possible money laundering in U.S. property deals involving President Donald Trump, a Republican, earlier this year. The lawmakers are also looking into whether Trump’s dealings left him subject to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

Of course, the Republican response to all of this craziness is basically to ignore it and try to remove the voting franchise from more voters.  Via Huff Po and Sam Levine: “Ohio Set To Remove More Than 200,000 People From Its Voter Rolls. Voting rights groups want the state to pause the removals, noting that thousands of eligible voters are at risk of having their voter registrations canceled.”

Notice which states are hard at work on this?

Ohio is set to cancel hundreds of thousands of voter registrations on Friday, even though the list of voters it is using was found to have mistakes.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) published a list of 235,000 voters at risk of losing their registrations in August but soon discovered there were errors and corrected them. The following month, in August, voting rights groups said they identified an additional 4,000 people who were incorrectly added to the list. The Columbus Dispatch also reported more than 1,600 people who were erroneously added because of a technical error.

Since early August, voting rights groups have been combing through LaRose’s list in a mad dash to urge voters to check their registrations. Part of that effort includes a plan to text many people on the list to check their voter records. Voting rights advocates say LaRose should pause the removals to give people more time to check the list.

“There are new questions, it seems like every week, about what’s going on with this list, and various inaccuracies with the list,” said Mike Brickner, the Ohio state director of All Voting is Local, one of the groups working on contacting voters. “If we’re going to purge people, we better make sure that it be accurate and fair. As of right now, with new questions arising just about every day, many people in the state just don’t have a lot of confidence that this is a correct list.”

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“Railroad and Shipping” by William Hesthal

So, MIchelle Goldberg gives us a little hope via pollster Stanley Greenberg Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.? In a new book, the pollster Stanley Greenberg predicts a blue tidal wave in 2020.”

Greenberg suggests that Clinton erred by focusing too much on multiculturalism at the expense of class, and by trying to discredit Donald Trump as a vulgarian rather than a plutocrat. As Clinton wrote in “What Happened,” her post mortem of her shattering loss, Greenberg “thought my campaign was too upbeat on the economy, too liberal on immigration, and not vocal enough about trade.”

Yet going into 2020, Greenberg believes that what he calls the “rising American electorate” — including millennials, people of color and single women — will ensure Democratic victory, almost regardless of whom the party nominates. “We’re dealing with demographic and cultural trends, but we’re also dealing with people that are organizing and talking to one and another and becoming much more conscious of their values,” he said.

In his polling and focus groups, he’s seeing that the reaction to Trump is changing people. “The Trump presidency so invaded the public’s consciousness that it was hard to talk to previously disengaged and unregistered unmarried women, people of color and millennials without them going right to Trump,” he writes. A few months after the election, he realized he could no longer put Clinton and Trump voters in focus groups together because indignant Clinton voters, particularly women, so dominated the conversations. “This turned out to be an unintended test of the strength of their views and resolve to resist,” he wrote.

USA Today’s Jason Sattler warns: “Dismissing Trump as a crumbling, unfit fool will get us four more years. Don’t buy it.”

Trump is actually getting better at the worst things that matter most, like avoiding accountability for high and low crimes, capturing the courts for the far right, and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to “carpet-bomb” Democrats. The institutions that were supposed to rein him in have done more to restrain his critics than him. Meanwhile, what reigns is the belief that this nightmare is bound to end on its own — what writer Sarah Kendzior calls “normalcy bias.”

By now, we should know better.

Cognitive scientist George Lakoff warned in 2016, “Trump is a master salesman with a history of selling deals good for him but not so good for most others.” But it may be “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, the author of a book that claims Trump is a “master persuader,” who nailed Trump’s strategy: “When it comes to unfavorability, you don’t need to outrun the bear. You only need to outrun your camping buddy.”

The exciting "City Life" mural by Victor Arnautoff. Watch out for the fatal accident in the upper right. Other scenes off camera include left-wing newspapers for sale and a gun-toting pickpocket. San Francisco, United States, North America.

“City Life” mural by Victor Arnautoff.

Indeed, Trumperz’ cult seems addicted to the poison.  This is frightening:,  Several States are working to cancel Republican Primaries   via Politico.

Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers.

Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans.

The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination — or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him.

Trump advisers are quick to point out that parties of an incumbent president seeking reelection have a long history of canceling primaries and note it will save state parties money. But the president’s primary opponents, who have struggled to gain traction, are crying foul, calling it part of a broader effort to rig the contest in Trump’s favor.

It’s a crazy mixed up country out there.  That’s all I can say.  And, don’t even get me started on SharpieGate.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


22 Comments on “Frantic Friday Reads: Back to Work Edition”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a great weekend!!!!

  2. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      He even doesn’t like the auto companies.

  3. dakinikat says:

    And the issue on the minds of folks in NOLA:

  4. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Entitlement, entitlement, entitlement. I’m sick of hearing that applied to deferred income such as Social Security. Yes, we are entitled to the program but that’s because we’ve paid into it.

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    Of course, the Republican response to all of this craziness is basically to ignore it and try to remove the voting franchise from more voters.

    Notice which states are hard at work on this?

    Why (checks map) it’s those crucial Electoral College states. And hmmm, the one with the 6-hr waits in the rain to vote in 2004. Quelle surprise!

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Business Insider: ‘He’s losing his s—‘: Trump’s advisers are increasingly worried about his mental state following days of erratic behavior

    President Donald Trump’s aides and confidants are growing more and more concerned about his mental state after days of erratic behavior, wild outbursts, and bizarre fixations.

    “No one knows what to expect from him anymore,” one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations about the president, told Insider. “His mood changes from one minute to the next based on some headline or tweet, and the next thing you know his entire schedule gets tossed out the window because he’s losing his s—.”

    The president’s advisers are particularly worried about his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that a tweet he sent over the weekend claiming that Alabama was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian was false. They believe that his frustration is compounded by stress about the 2020 election and the economy’s recent downturn.

    “People are used to the president saying things that aren’t true, but this Alabama stuff is another story,” the former official said. “This was the president sending out patently false information about a national-emergency situation as it was unfolding.”

  8. dakinikat says:

    This is insane.

  9. NW Luna says:

    Anti-Trump veterans are so cool!