Monday Reads: Bonfire of the InsanitiesPosted: June 25, 2018 Filed under: Economy, Federal Budget, Federal Budget and Budget deficit 10 Comments
Good Morning Skydancers!
I’m going to do my economist thing today because, my family, I think you need to know that the last year has been about taking actions that will blow things up. It’s true for the economy too. There have been so many bad economic policies coming out of this regime that it’s truly hard to figure out the extent things will be blowing up but it’s already starting. I feel like I’m continually delivering dismal news but forewarned is forarmed. Praemonitus praemunitus–the original Latin form–is actually the motto of the United States Army Security Agency. That seems oddly prescient.
Here’s the list of omens that I’ve been keeping track of the coming economic crash. I live in ground zero. We haven’t recovered from Jindal’s terrible policies yet. The Port of New Orleans and other port cities are going to lose a lot of business.
‘China is slamming $34 billion worth of US goods with tariffs. Here are the states that will be hurt the most.’
The states that exported more than $1 billion worth of tariff-eligible goods to China in 2017 were Texas, Louisiana, Washington, California, Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, and Kentucky.
Southeast Missouri nail company gets hammered by Trump’s tariffs
President Trump’s tariff on steel imports that took effect June 1 has caused a southeast Missouri nail manufacturer to lose abo9ut 50% of its business in two weeks. Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff – the remaining major nail producer in the country – has had to take drastic measures to make ends meet. The company employing 500 people earlier this month has laid off 60 temporary workers. It could slash 200 more jobs by the end of July and be out of business around Labor Day.
‘Arkansas Farm Bureau president “concerned” with soybean prices because of Chinese tariffs’
Since China proposed tariffs on soybeans following president trump’s announced tariffs on Chinese goods, the price of soybean bushels have dropped 20 percent.
For farmers in Arkansas, that’s something that could mean the end of their business.
Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach says it’s something he’s keeping an eye on. “We’re concerned, of course,” Veach said.
Being a soybean farmer himself, when he saw China was placing a tariff on United States soybeans, the market dropped the value of that crop to around nine dollars a bushel, putting Arkansas farmers in a difficult spot.
“They actually buy 60 percent of all the soybeans that’s traded around the globe,” Veach said. “We can’t make a profit at that low of a price.”
‘Double whammy: U.S. pork, fruit producers brace for second wave of Chinese tariffs’
U.S. producers of pork, already saddled with duties enacted in an earlier round of the escalating trade dispute with China, are bracing for further pain after Beijing hit the products with additional tariffs due to come into effect next month.
China implemented a 25 percent duty on most U.S. pork items on April 2, and a 15 percent tariff on a range of fruits and nuts, in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products.
Last week it included both categories in a second round of tariffs to be imposed on July 6. No other products have been listed twice.
Pork now faces cumulative import duties of 71 percent, not including value added tax, according to a formula published on the website of China’s finance ministry last week. Cumulative duties on fruit amount to 50 percent.
“The additional tariff will put us out of business,” said Zhong Zheng, founder of China-based Heartland Brothers, which sells U.S.-produced Berkshire pork to Chinese supermarkets and restaurants”
You beginning to see pattern here? And oh, look! We’re exporting jobs to the EU now! You know them! Land of livable wages and benefits?
President Donald Trump’s trade war with the European Union is going to cost Harley-Davidson Inc. as much as $100 million a year and spur a shift of production outside the U.S. at the manufacturer he embraced early in his term.
Each motorcycle shipped to Europe will mean a $2,200 expense because of the EU’s retaliatory tariffs for Trump’s steel and aluminum duties, according to a Monday filing. Passing that on to dealers or customers would cause an “immediate and lasting detrimental impact” on the company’s business in its second-largest market, so it will absorb most of those levies.
While Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. can easily win trade wars, victims are starting to pile up at home and abroad. Daimler AG warned last week that escalating tension between the U.S. and China will impair earnings its Alabama SUV plant and lower profit this year. Harley tied its higher costs to a sequence started by Trump, who praised the company as a model American manufacturer during a February 2017 meeting at the White House.
So, I wrote about the yield curve looking pretty bad awhile back. It’s really looking bad now. It’s a total harbinger of really nasty recessions.
Some economists on Wall Street think the economy could be growing at around a nearly 5 percent annual clip this quarter. But if the current economic vigor is only reflecting a short-term stimulus coming from the Trump administration’s tax cut, then some kind of slowdown is to be expected.
“It’s very hard to see what’s going to goose the economy further from these levels,” Ms. Gibbs said.
And the financial markets can sometimes sniff out problems with the economy before they show up in the official economic snapshots published on G.D.P. and unemployment. Another notable yield curve inversion occurred in February 2000, just before the stock market’s dot-com bubble burst.
In that sense, the government bond market isn’t alone. Stocks have been in a sideways struggle since the Standard & Poor’s 500 last peaked on Jan. 26. Returns on corporate bonds are negative, as are some key commodities tied to industrial activity.
An important caveat to the predictive power of the yield curve is that it can’t predict precisely when a recession will begin. In the past the recession has come in as little as six months, or as long as two years after the inversion, the San Francisco Fed’s researchers note.
Oh, and the weird artwork is all stuff related to comprehending ancient omens from the Greeks to the Aztecs to the old Europe. Just in case you wanted to know.
I put up the link to a crazy Washington Examiner bit in the tweet below. Trump and his team of NOT.ONE.REAL.ECONOMISTS. create more fairy tales from Dust. Here’s bull shit from a man that can’t even do high school statistics.
“The U.S. economy is the fastest-growing economy virtually in the whole world,” said Moore, the distinguished visiting fellow with the Project for Economic Growth at the Heritage Foundation. He predicted that when everything is factored in, second-quarter growth will come in just shy of that. He said, “4.5 percent is very plausible for the second quarter, which is a gigantic number.”
He also predicted that the stock market will continue its bullish ways, ignoring naysayers who say that the shallow but long U.S. recovery is about to fade.
“We really haven’t had a recovery,” said Moore, who added, “The economy isn’t running out of gas, it is just starting to rev up.”
That’s a pretty good example of being self-serving and delusional at the same time.
Trump’s policies are basically huge booby traps.
The escalating trade battle between the U.S. and the rest of the world is raising the risk of a meaningful slowing in an otherwise vibrant American economy.
While the tariffs already in place and set to be implemented will barely dent U.S. growth, economists say the panoply of additional measures being considered would take a perceptible bite out of gross domestic product if they go ahead.
“It’s going to be more noticeably painful,” said Peter Hooper, chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG in New York.
Hooper, who expects the economy to expand 3 percent this year, said the steps already taken or in the works would clip just 0.1 percentage point off GDP growth.
Throw in President Donald Trump’s threat to slap a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports and a 20 percent levy on car shipments from the European Union and the impact grows to 0.3 point to 0.4 point, he said. And the fallout could even be greater if heightened tensions begin to infect consumer, business and investor confidence,
Here are more impacts from bad policy: “Here’s how Trump’s tax law is raising health insurance premiums”
Approximately six months ago, Congress passed a tax law designed to benefit corporations and the wealthy while repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty.
Today, we’re already seeing the consequences: Premiums in the individual market are rising, often by double digits. As more and more states hit their deadlines for insurers to file preliminary premium rates, the headlines tell the same story, with average premiums going up by 30 percent in Maryland, 19 percent in Washington, and 24 percent in New York.
This is no surprise — and no accident. The repeal of the mandate penalty was the latest in a long line of actions that the Trump administration has taken to deliberately undermine the ACA marketplaces.
President Trump himself has not exactly been subtle about this, remarking last year that “the best thing we can do politically speaking is let ObamaCare explode.” Similarly, former White House advisor Steve Bannon exclaimed, “That’s going to blow that thing up — gonna blow those exchanges up, right?” when describing Trump’s decision to cancel ACA cost-sharing payments last year.
Congress knew in advance that the individual mandate played an important role in stabilizing the market, and that repealing the mandate penalty would cause premiums to go up. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the mandate penalty would increase individual market premiums by 10 percent on average in 2019.
In fact, Trump’s own former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, recently admitted that the repeal “actually will harm the pool in the exchange market because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks in that market.”
From the American Prospect: “Raises and Bonuses: The PR Fraud”
The only problem with the positive new perspective on the GOP tax law created by the flurry of bonus announcements is that it’s wrong. Pelosi was right. While anyone less wealthy than Trump and his cabinet would find an unexpected bonus of $1,000 a welcome surprise, the bonuses were—relatively speaking and in the proper context—crumbs. And they’re crumbs that few workers are actually receiving.
The only way to have figured this out was to cut through the hype and look at the numbers. Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) did just that, creating a master database documenting bonuses, wage hikes, tax savings, stock buybacks, layoffs, and a half-dozen other indicators of the impact of the Tax Act on business fortunes and behavior. Unlike the simple lists of cheery corporate news collected by Americans for Tax Reform and several other tax-cut boosters, ATF’s presentation is an entire searchable website that makes it easy to compare who—among corporations, their shareholders, and their workers—is actually getting how much.
This is a really long read about both the politics and the sham but it’s worth your time.
Beyond this initial audience of one lay the harder-to-convince American people. And despite the vigor of the corporate public relations campaign meant to woo them, it wasn’t difficult to see it was all an act.
One tip-off was the timing. The rush to distribute bonuses at the end of the year was timed so corporations could write them off at the old, higher tax rate: Employee expenses incurred in 2017 and even into early 2018 could still be deducted against a 35 percent tax rate, more valuable than the 21 percent deduction available under the new law. (Fiscal-year filers could exploit this same tax arbitrage even later in the year, but the advantage wanes the deeper you get into 2018.)
That diminishing tax advantage is one reason the seeming flood of announcements over the winter slowed to a trickle by the spring.
Another signal that we had not in fact reached a new era of broadly shared prosperity was that the vast majority of payouts were one-time bonuses, not permanent wage hikes. More than twice as many workers are getting bonuses as are getting raises. It’s far easier for corporations to withhold future bonuses than to cut their workers’ wages.
So, these one shot blow your wad kind of things just lead to what we’re seeing now. The economy is getting a short term blast of amphetamine. It’s something the Fed won’t allow because these things turn into inflation. The tariffs are essentially tax increases too. The overproduction of agricultural goods that can’t find a market right now will turn into shortages, higher final prices, and failed businesses next season.
The bizarre thing is that the staff of real economists for the CEA are contradicting the Administration’s public narrative. They can do math. But they still spin crap.
A White House economic analysis of President Trump’s trade agenda has concluded that Mr. Trump’s tariffs will hurt economic growth in the United States, according to several people familiar with the research.
The findings from the White House Council of Economic Advisers have been circulated only internally and not publicly released, as is often the case with the council’s work, making the exact economic projections unknown. But the determination comes as top White House officials continue to insist publicly that Mr. Trump’s trade approach will be “massively good for the U.S. economy.”
The chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, an economist who came to the administration from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, dodged questions at a White House briefing on Tuesday about whether tariffs would hurt an economy that has accelerated during Mr. Trump’s tenure.
Asked whether the administration’s economists had modeled the impact that a trade war with China would have on the United States economy, Mr. Hassett said Mr. Trump was a great negotiator who would persuade other countries to open their markets to American products.
I’ll end with this.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Monday Reads: While you were watching the Circus Come to TownPosted: August 7, 2017 Filed under: Federal Budget, Federal Budget and Budget deficit, Federal Government Shutdown, morning reads | Tags: psychopathic behavior 38 Comments
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?
Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage DonePosted: May 22, 2017 Filed under: children, education, Federal Budget, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics 44 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet. After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House. What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness? Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.
You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law. What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.
With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda. We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves. Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing. Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.
President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.
For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.
The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.
Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”
Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.
As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established. Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.
But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on autopilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.
The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.
And they’re still after a the Affordable Health Care Act. This amounts to a death by a million paper cuts. You’ll notice most of this isn’t being rolled out with the same gusto as the Saudis welcomed Kremlin Caligula.
The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.
The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.
President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.
While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.
House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.
Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is already steamrolling along. The plan that has completely failed in Louisiana is about to go National with this nut job in charge of the Department of Re-Education. School choice is another term for segregated schools and public funding of religious atrocities foisted on innocent children.
Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.
When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.
It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.
“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”
More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.
“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”
Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.
“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”
Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.
Make American White, Fascist, and Nutty Religious folks! I really think their slogan should be Greed and Grifting is Good! In that vein, the White House is trying to block ethics investigations of ex lobbyists now working in Federal Agencies and the West Wing.
The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.
The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.
Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.
Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”
There is some good news. The Court System appears to be working as a system of checks and balances on all the crazies that have invaded the executive branches and legislative branches throughout the Country and in the District. SCOTUS just told North Carolina its gerrymandering smacked of racism and rejected its proposed Congressional Districts. Thomas sided with the majority and Gorsuch sat out so I’m no sure we can divine any future trends from this.
A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.
The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.
Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.
“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.
The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.
The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.
North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.
One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.
The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.
Flynn will be evoking the Fifth Amendment. They probably have enough on him that it won’t mean much.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.
That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.
Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.
Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.
Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”
Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.
The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.
On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.
The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”
Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House. But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate. This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.
We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.
But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.
As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.
One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.
Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.
Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.
Follow those links.
So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting. I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Lundi Gras ReadsPosted: February 27, 2017 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Crime, Donald Trump, Federal Budget | Tags: Chads, Krewe of Chad, mardi gras, New Orleans, white male entitlement 42 Comments
It’s a beautiful day for Carnival Season today!
It’s warm and sunny! We’re so overrun by tourists that it’s not the weather keeping me inside. It’s work and the Krewe of Chad who all seem to be obnoxiously planted in the nasty Air BNBs around me. This season totally lacks the intimacy and family feeling of the Katrina one and the ones from years ago, that’s for sure! The pictures on this post are ones I took at Endymion 2006 which was the first Carnival season after Hurricane Katrina.
Here’s a friend of mine telling you all about our Chad problem. They’re a pesky tribe of entitled 20-30 something white men that are related to “bros” but not quite in the same category. You can also find the definition of “Chad” in the urban dictionary. Our Chads have turned parade going into a tail gating experience where they literally shove small children and families out of the way to plant their tents and keggers.
A stereotypical douchebag asshole/jock/frat boy/ with an ego the size of the planet, who needs a swift roundhouse kick to the jaw, ala Chuck Norris style (though if actually issued by Norris, this punishment may be too extreme, even s of for a chad). Basically, they think they’re the best at everything, love to talk shit, and are a general nuisance in every way possible.
A chad is somewhat easy to sight, as they’re everywhere, but the only way to know for sure is to talk to/observe one. They typically dress in a similar manner to a “bro”, though are not in fact bros. They either wear the latest fashionable clothing from big brands, or highly expensive graphic tees, most likely of the MMA (Mixed martial arts) variety. They most likely sport a tribal tattoo, or something of the like. They most commonly drive V6 Mustangs, S10 pickup trucks, or crotch rockets.
Chads can be found in large numbers at Frat houses, local hipster bars, and nu metal concerts (which are obviously real metal shows…). They often travel in groups of a few, but can be found in swarms at these establishments. Other than being cocky and talking shit, other popular pastimes of chads include, but are not limited to: beer pong, racing hondas, UFC, and blasting nu metal on their stereo because they think it makes them look like a badass.
The Endymion parade on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras is usually ground zero for the Chads. This weekend it took a deadly twist when a highly intoxicated Chad drove his pick up truck into a group of parade goers injuring small children and adults. Thankfully, no one was killed. Of course, all the right wingers initially screamed it was a terrorist.But no, it was just a Fucked up Chad in a Pick up Fuck as white as can be. His grandma and his Daddy think some evil man gave him a drink that kicked his blood alcohol up to over 3x the legal limit because, obviously, he’s a “good” kid. That means he’s a white boy and they just get led astray every now and then rather than do these constantly stupid things that make them feel good and ruin every one else’s life.
The man accused of being behind the wheel, 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto of Paradis, had his first court appearance Sunday. His bond was set at $125,000. Rizzuto has so far been booked on two counts of first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, one count of hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and one count of reckless operation of a vehicle. Orleans Parish Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn said he based the bond amount on anticipation of more charges.
The latest figures from officials say that Rizzuto’s truck struck up to 32 pedestrians, sending at least 21 to area hospitals for treatment. While an NOPD statement said there were “at least 28 victims, 21 of whom were treated at local hospitals, Rizzuto’s arrest documents said 32 people were struck. NOPD spokesman Beau Tidwell said the casualty list was “fluid.”
Fortunately–as I said–no one has died but it appears that five still have very serious injuries I’m really hoping that the city will rethink its strategy of pimping us out like it’s all good. I’ve never seen so many tourists all over the neighborhoods. I have no idea how the police are coping with it. Usually, they’re concentrated in a few places. I feel invaded here.
Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and the State of the Union Address. I cannot bring myself to blog or watch it. Here are some reads to indicate why the so-called President will only be an illegitimate Russian Usurper to me. We have a problem with more than Chads. We have a problem with White Male Terrorism and Kremlin Caligulia is a conduit and catalyst. How many times have we written about this and discussed it only to find it ignored and enabled by Republicans?
Adam W. Purinton was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the shooting death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old systems engineer from India. Purinton, a 51-year-old white man, allegedly shot Kuchibhotla and two other men at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, Wednesday night.
According to one witness, Purinton’s attack was motivated by bias. The Navy veteran reportedly shouted, “Get out of my country,” before opening fire on Kuchibhotla and another Indian engineer, Alok Madasani, who is 32. Purinton also shot a third victim, a 24-year-old white man named Ian Grillot, who stepped in to intervene.
“[It] wasn’t right,” Grillot — who is in stable condition, along with Madasani — said in a video obtained by the Kansas City Star. “I didn’t want [Purinton] to potentially go after somebody else.”
If Purinton’s attack was indeed spurred by xenophobia, then Wednesday’s shooting was an act of terrorism. At a time when anti-Muslim hate crimes are rising across the United States and President Donald Trump is ordering roundups of undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country under the pretense of national security, there are few more potent forms of political violence than the kind committed by white Americans against non-whites, Muslims and immigrants.
This is not a new phenomenon. White terrorism has shaped the U.S. in countless ways, seen and unseen, for years. But in their rush to paint Muslims and immigrants as the most pressing threat to Americans’ safety, many whites and conservatives refuse to admit that homegrown white terrorism has been a threat for much longer — and with a much higher death toll.
The White House has been silent and still plans on instructing law enforcement to focus on a small piece of our violence problem.
Earlier this month, for example, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a young man attacked a group of soldiers: Wielding a machete, he ran at them shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar.” Police shot and subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody with serious injuries. The attempted attack placed terrorism back in the headlines of French politics, renewing fears and concerns around security and immigration. Here in the United States, President Donald Trump used the incident to justify his exclusionary policies toward Muslim immigrants and refugees. “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down,” said Trump on Twitter. “France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” This was of a piece with statements Trump made in the wake of incidents in Nice, France, Berlin, and other attacks overseas claimed by militant Islamist groups.
There was no such statement about the two men in Kansas. No condemnation of the racial violence that grievously wounded an American and claimed the life of a law-abiding legal resident. But then, Trump is rarely interested in those incidents. Just two days after the attempted attack in France, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. Described by activists as a “white nationalist,” Bissonnette was known locally as a right-wing, anti-immigrant troll inspired by extreme right-wing figures like Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Where Trump was vocal in the face of the incident in Paris, he was silent following the murders in Quebec. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the attack “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” which reads as a defense of the administration’s travel ban. This was an odd choice of words, as Bissonnette was a native-born white Canadian, not a refugee or Muslim immigrant.
We continue to experience the suppression of dissent and of truth. We get nothing on the ongoing attacks on Jewish Cemeteries and bomb threats made to JCCs. Philadelphia is the latest place to have cemetery desecration. As usual, American communities of Muslims has been more responsive and helpful than the Republicans.
Here’s more examples of things to file under removing democracy from the country. The White House removed Democratic Governors from a joint Press Conference.
Monday morning, Trump put an end to the bipartisan post National Governors Association and President press availability by shuttling the Democratic governors off site.
The plan is for us to become a military state as far as I can tell.
President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.
The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.
According to the White House, the defense budget will increase by 10 percent. But without providing any specifics, the administration said that most other discretionary spending programs will be slashed to pay for it. Officials singled out foreign aid, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, saying it would see “large reductions” in spending.
The military budget is by far the largest chunk of change in our budget historically. The rest are pittance by comparison. I imagine it all will be announced tomorrow night.
We typically have a SOTU live blog here at Sky Dancing. I’m really sure I’m not up to it and I’m not sure any one else is interested so we can discuss below and see what comes of it. Let us know your thoughts. Maybe BB or JJ are stronger willed than me.
So, have a good few days! I’ll take pix if I decide to hit the streets in search of beads and fun! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?