The folks in DC are still arguing about whether the U.S. government should pay its bills or not. Republicans think it’s much more important to make poor, disabled, and elderly Americans, as well as federal employees–including the military–suffer than to simply write those checks and then sit down and work on the next budget. If Congress doesn’t get its act together, millions of people in those categories will be unable to pay their rent and bills and buy food. I suppose this will go down to the wire and then be worked out, but I think the whole mess is getting dangerous.
The United States has a few more days than expected before it runs out of money, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a letter Friday afternoon.
The new deadline to act or risk breaching the debt ceiling is June 5, Yellen said, setting a hard deadline for the first time. She had previously been less specific, saying the breach could occur “potentially as early as June 1.”
“Based on the most recent available data, we now estimate that Treasury will have insufficient resources to satisfy the government’s obligations if Congress has not raised or suspended the debt limit by June 5,” Yellen wrote to congressional leaders.
This is just about paying the bills that we’ve already run up, but Republicans want hold the funds hostage so they can punish people who need help from the government.
The two parties have been sorting through their differences on spending levels. But a major hangup is the Republican demand to impose tougher work requirements for Americans to receive federal benefits like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, two sources familiar with the talks said.
Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, who is leading negotiations for House Republicans, said it’s “totally appropriate” for an older group of able-bodied Americans without dependents to be subject to work requirements in order to get federal aid….
Democrats say work requirements already exist for federal programs and argue that stricter policies would create more red tape and throw eligible Americans who don’t complete the paperwork correctly off the rolls, and that work requirements have little impact on unemployment.
Painting by Quint Bucholz
Republicans know they’d never win this argument without holding the full faith and credit of our country hostage, so that is what they are doing. If only Democrats had listened to Yellen when they still held a majority in both houses for a brief time after the midterms, this wouldn’t be happening now.
In the days after November’s midterm elections, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen was feeling upbeat about the fact that Democrats had performed better than expected and maintained control of the Senate.
But as she traveled to the Group of 20 leaders summit in Indonesia that month, she said Republicans taking control of the House posed a new threat to the U.S. economy.
“I always worry about the debt ceiling,” Ms. Yellen told The New York Times in an interview on her flight from New Delhi to Bali, Indonesia, in which she urged Democrats to use their remaining time in control of Washington to lift the debt limit beyond the 2024 elections. “Any way that Congress can find to get it done, I’m all for.”
Democrats did not heed Ms. Yellen’s advice. Instead, the United States has spent most of this year inching toward the brink of default as Republicans refused to raise or suspend the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit without capping spending and rolling back parts of President Biden’s agenda.
So what will Yellen do in the worst case scenario?
Ms. Yellen has held her contingency plans close to the vest but signaled this week that she had been thinking about how to prepare for the worst. Speaking at a WSJ CEO Council event, the Treasury secretary laid out the difficult decisions she would face if the Treasury was forced to choose which bills to prioritize.
Most market watchers expect that the Treasury Department would opt to make interest and principal payments to bondholders before paying other bills, yet Ms. Yellen would say only that she would face “very tough choices.”
White House officials have refused to say if any contingency planning is underway. Early this year, Biden administration officials said they were not planning for how to prioritize payments. As the U.S. edges closer to default, the Treasury Department declined to say whether that has changed.
Yet former Treasury and Federal Reserve officials said it was nearly certain that emergency plans were being devised.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) has inserted herself into the debt ceiling negotiations, working with both sides to try to bridge differences on permitting reform, according to people familiar with the matter.
Why it matters: Her late entrance is a sign that negotiators are willing to explore new avenues to resolve thorny issues before June 5, the new deadline from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for when the U.S. government will run out of money.
— Permitting reform — a catch-all category that includes both Republican and Democratic plans to improve energy production and transmission — is emerging as a tough-to-resolve disagreement between the White House and congressional negotiators.
— Republicans want to change the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with the goal of cutting red tape for oil and gas companies when they develop new projects. Democrats want to make it easier for solar and wind farms to access transmission lines.
Negotiators also are at an impasse on a demand from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to add new work requirements to welfare benefits, according to Biden administration officials.
— But the two sides are making progress on overall spending levels, with the goal of capping spending for two years at lower levels. In exchange, the debt ceiling would be raised past the 2024 elections.
After a debt limit negotiating session at the White House this week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy returned to the Capitol and offered reporters an update.
“Let me be very clear,” he said. “From the first day I sat with the president, there’s two criterias I told him,” McCarthy said, raising two fingers. “We’re not going to raise taxes because we bring in more money than we ever have. And we’re not going to pass a clean debt ceiling. And we’ve got to spend less than we spent this year.”
Let me be very clear, Mr. Speaker. Those are three, er, “criterias.”
Filippo Corelli, Cat in a Doorway, early 20th century
This might be the most worrying aspect of the default standoff: The full faith and credit of the United States hangs in the balance, and the man sitting across the negotiating table from the president seems to be genuinely off-kilter.
Whipsawed by public pressure from the far-right House Freedom Caucus and from former president Donald Trump, McCarthy has at one moment praised the “honesty” and “professionalism” of White House negotiators and the next moment attacked the other side as “socialist.” He gives daily (sometimes hourly) updates packed with fake statistics, nonsense anecdotes and malapropisms. His negotiators have walked out of talks only to resume them hours later. This week, at a meeting of the House Republican Conference during the height of negotiations, he decided it was the right moment to auction off a stick of his used lip balm as a fundraiser for House Republicans’ political campaigns. (Rep. Marjorie Taylor “Jewish Space Lasers” Greene won the bidding at $100,000.)
The speaker’s erraticism has an obvious origin. As usual, he isn’t leading. He’s being buffeted by crosscurrents. If he bends too much in talks, he’ll lose his GOP hardliners and could therefore lose his job. If he pleases the hardliners, he keeps his job but throws the country and perhaps the world into economic calamity. His job security or the world economy? McCarthy just can’t decide.
Prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal case have released to his attorneys a recording of Trump and a witness, whose identity was not disclosed, according to a document the office made public Friday.
The document, called an automatic discovery form, describes the nature of the charges against a defendant and a broad overview of the evidence that prosecutors will present at Trump’s preliminary hearing or at trial. Trump’s attorneys and media organizations, including CBS News, had repeatedly requested that such a form be made public in the weeks since Trump’s arrest on April 4….
The document lists the dates of 34 instances between Feb. 14, 2017 and Dec. 5, 2017 when he allegedly falsified records.
In a section devoted to electronic evidence that will be turned over, a prosecutor for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office indicated they have disclosed to the defense a “recording of a conversation between defendant and a witness.”
The section also indicates prosecutors intend to disclose recordings of calls between witnesses and others.
Dressed in white coats, Drs. Tracey Wilkinson and Caroline Rouse were among the first to arrive at Caitlin Bernard’s Thursday hearing in front of the Indiana medical licensing board. When the hearing ended nearly 15 hours later, they were among the last to leave.
Six months after Indiana’s Republican attorney general filed a complaint against the Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, the board voted to reprimand and fine Bernard on Thursday, finding that she violated privacy laws in giving a reporter information about a 10-year-old rape victim.
But representatives of the medical community nationwide – from individual doctors to the American Medical Association to an author of HIPAA – don’t think Bernard did anything wrong. Further, they say, the decision will have a chilling effect on those involved with patient care.
“This sends a message to all doctors everywhere that political persecution can be happening to you next for providing health care to your patients,” Wilkinson said.
“It’s terrible,” Rouse said. They’d just spent hours “listening to our friend and our colleague be put on trial for taking care of her patient and providing evidence-based health care, and that is incredibly demoralizing as a physician.”
Guess what? Republicans don’t care.
Ron DeSantis has been announcing some of the things he would do if he were elected president in 2024.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Thursday that if elected president, he will consider pardoning all the Jan. 6 defendants — including former President Trump — on his first day in office.
“On day one, I will have folks that will get together and look at all these cases, who people are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we will be aggressive in issuing pardons,” DeSantis said on “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show” podcast when asked about whether he will consider pardoning Jan. 6 defendants, including Trump, who is currently facing a federal investigation over his role on Jan. 6.
Nineteenth Century cat in doorway, Boston School, artist unknown
“I would say any example of disfavored treatment based on politics, or weaponization would be included in that review, no matter how small or how big,” he added.
DeSantis also accused the Justice Department and the FBI of weaponizing its authority by pursuing ongoing investigations into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The Justice Department said earlier this month that 1,033 arrests have been made in connection to the Capitol attacks and about 485 people have been sentenced due to criminal activity conducted that day.
DeSantis also claimed that the FBI is targeting anti-abortion groups, as well as parents who want to attend school board meetings. He said that if elected, his administration would determine on a “case-by-case” basis if the government was weaponized against certain groups.
“We’re going to find examples where the government’s been weaponized against disfavored groups, and we will apply relief as appropriate, but it will be done on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Friday that if elected president, he would call on Congress to repeal the criminal justice reform bill signed into law by then-President Trump, his latest attack on Trump from the right.
DeSantis, appearing on “The Ben Shapiro Show,” criticized the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill passed in 2018 that reduced mandatory minimum sentences, expanded credits for well-behaved prisoners looking for shorter sentences and aimed to reduce recidivism.
The Florida governor, who officially entered the 2024 White House race on Wednesday, called the legislation “basically a jailbreak bill.”
“So one of the things I would want to do as president is go to Congress and seek the repeal of the First Step Act,” he said. “If you are in jail, you should serve your time. And the idea that they’re releasing people who have not been rehabilitated early, so that they can prey on people in our society is a huge, huge mistake.”
DeSantis voted for the initial House version of the bill while serving as a congressman in 2018, something Trump’s team has highlighted.
Top aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis were involved in rounding up endorsements for his presidential campaign from members of the Florida Legislature during a time when lawmaker’s bills and budget priorities were at the mercy of the governor’s office, according to three GOP sources with knowledge of the conversations.
A Republican lawmaker says DeSantis’ top budget official called earlier this month to discuss the lawmaker endorsing DeSantis’ presidential campaign.
The lawmaker and a GOP consultant who was told about the endorsement conversation with DeSantis’ budget chief Chris Spencer immediately after it happened said the call was inappropriate and raised ethical questions.
Blinking in the Sun, by Ralph Hedley, 1881
Having state employees in the governor’s office, instead of staff on the governor’s political team, asking for endorsements raises concerns about whether the governor’s staff was improperly leveraging state resources to help his campaign.
That includes using taxpayer-funded employees for political purposes, which is allowed if it’s not during work hours but still inappropriate in this circumstance in the mind of the lawmaker contacted by Spencer. It also relates to what some saw as an implied threat that lawmakers’ bills and state budget items could be vetoed if they didn’t back DeSantis.
The lawmaker who spoke to Spencer said budget priorities didn’t come up during the call, but the fact that DeSantis’ budget director was calling about an endorsement implicitly tied the budget items to the political ask….
Another top DeSantis aide — legislative affairs director Stephanie Kopelousos — did discuss budget items during calls with multiple lawmakers that included Kopelousos asking them to endorse DeSantis, according to the GOP lawmaker who spoke with Spencer.
That lawmaker later spoke with at least five legislators who were asked by Kopelousos to endorse DeSantis. Another prominent GOP leader in Florida said he spoke to a lawmaker who relayed that he repeatedly was contacted by Kopelousos about endorsing DeSantis.
This guy should never get anywhere near the presidency.
That’s it for me today. What stories have captured your interest lately?
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I’m filling in for Dakinikat this morning, because she’s working down to the wire to get her final grades turned in today. Biden and McCarthy are still haggling over the debt ceiling, Ron DeSantis will soon announce his candidacy for president, and we’re still waiting for the next Trump indictment to drop. But I’m going to begin with stories marking the anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting which will be on Wednesday, May 24.
UVALDE — At 7 a.m. on a Monday in February, Jessica Treviño, with squinty eyes, goes into her sons’ bedroom and in a low, raspy voice tells them to wake up. Eleven-year-old David James rolls out of bed, but 9-year-old Austin, the youngest of the four Treviño children, doesn’t move from the lower bunk bed.
The siblings get ready for school. David James grabs the car keys and starts the family’s black Ram 1500 truck for his mother.
Austin, who is still in bed covered by a blanket, tells his mother he doesn’t want to go to school.
“I can’t leave you by yourself,” Jessica, 40, tells him, leaning over his body as their fat bulldog, Chubs, tries to jump on the bed. “You have to go to school.”
Austin doesn’t move. The night before, the sound of police sirens woke him.
“It’s ’cause there were cop sounds last night so he’s kinda scared,” David James tells his mother.
It’s not the first time one of the children won’t go to school because something spooked them. And Jessica knows it won’t be the last.
These kids survived the Uvalde mass shooting.
Three of the four Treviño children were students at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022, and were on campus for an awards ceremony as an 18-year-old with an AR-15 rifle approached the school.
That day, Jessica picked up David James, Austin and her now 12-year-old daughter, Illiaña, from the school about 11:30 a.m.
Jessica later found out that as she was driving off, the shooter had just walked into a classroom, killing two teachers and 19 students — including Illiaña’s best friend, a 10-year-old student in room 112, who was Illiaña’s defender when other children made fun of her.
A few days after the shooting, Jessica took Illiaña, whom she calls Nana, to Uvalde’s plaza to leave a teddy bear and flowers at a memorial for her friend. Suddenly, Illiaña’s heart began to race and she had trouble breathing. Jessica took her to the local hospital, which transferred her to an intensive care unit in San Antonio. The doctor there told Jessica that Illiaña was suffering cardiac arrest and her body shut down from acute stress. She was released after a week.
That’s severe PTSD. Read the rest and see photos at the Raw Story link.
“Does she ever ask you why the police took so long?” Prokupecz asked.
“She does. She’s like, Mom, why did it take police so long to come in here? I don’t even know what to say to her. She don’t (sic) trust any police now,” the mom, Jamie Torres, explained. “They let everybody in those conjoined rooms down. The families have changed forever because they were too weak to go in the room, but my 10-year-old sitting across the door was offering to open it. And they still didn’t want to go in.”
The mother told CNN to show the body camera footage of her daughter. The police are shown leading Khloie out, and the next footage shows her on the bus covered in blood. She’s trying to speak through tears. Sitting in the seat in front of her is her best friend, 9-year-old Kendall Olivarez, who was losing consciousness. She was shot twice, once in the left shoulder and in her back. In the video, first responders were shouting at her to stay with them. A wailing cry is then heard.
“Please help! I don’t want to die,” Khloie cried to the 911 dispatcher.
“It’s definitely stressed her out,” Jamie Torres explained. “PTSD, all of that. She has all of that. You know, she can’t walk into a restaurant or any kind of building without counting every exit of the door.”
“She counts exits?” Prokupecz asked.
“Yes, if we go to McDonald’s, she sits closest to the door that she can,” the mother said.
UVALDE, Texas — Javier Cazares is haunted by the 30 minutes or so that passed after his 9-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, was shot and before law enforcement officers finally confronted the gunman firing an AR-15 inside Robb Elementary School.
By Marc Chagall
“She wasn’t shot in the very beginning. She was shot somewhere in the middle. If they had gone in 30 minutes, 40 minutes” earlier, he said in an interview, “maybe she could still have been alive.”
A total of 73 minutes passed before law enforcement stopped the 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle.
The loss has been worsened, according to Cazares, by the refusal of people in power to take responsibility for their failures, to fill in the details for the grieving parents who need to know more about what happened each minute of that deadly day, to own up to fateful mistakes and remove those who made them, to make sure the families get the support they need when they need it, and to change gun laws.
“The first couple months, you know, it still seemed unreal,” he said. “And now, it’s like betrayal.”
After an hour of doing nothing, the shooter was finally dead, and police moved in.
The show opens with the sound of gunfire from the shooter and from the police. The next scene is a group of officers finally entering the classroom. What follows is a collection of body camera footage showing officers vomiting outside. Others were sobbing and holding each other. A different video showed an officer shaking while trying to clean blood off their hands.
Sorry, but the blood is still on their hands, and they’ll never be able to wash it off.
The footage that CNN showed was approved by the parents to reveal to the public. Prokupecz explained to viewers that the families hope that showing the footage in the special will help create more motivation to do something more to help stop the mass shootings.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told Prokupecz that they’ve fought for the information previously blocked from the public. In some cases, it’s only because of the media that any parents can access information about what happened that day.
Biden and McCarthy are meeting again today about the debt limit. The New York Times:
President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed on Sunday to meet on Monday afternoon to try to jump-start talks aimed at averting a default on the nation’s debt, capping a tumultuous stretch of negotiations that faltered over the weekend as the two sides clashed over Republicans’ demands to cut spending in exchange for raising the debt limit.
Henri Matisse – Femme lisant en Robe violette 1898
Mr. McCarthy announced the meeting — his third with Mr. Biden this month, scheduled for after the president’s return from the Group of 7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan — after he concluded a call with the president on Sunday sounding more sanguine than before about the prospects for a deal.
The speaker said House G.O.P. and White House negotiators would continue talks at the Capitol on Sunday to lay the groundwork. White House negotiators left the Capitol on Sunday night after a two-and-a-half-hour bargaining session with their Republican counterparts but said they intended to keep working before Monday’s session.
Mr. Biden “walked through some of the things that he’s still looking at, he’s hearing from his members; I walked through things I’m looking at,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I felt that part was productive. But look — there’s no agreement. We’re still apart.”
I sure hope that Biden isn’t going to back down like Obama did in 2011.
HIROSHIMA, Japan — President Biden and other leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies rallied around Ukraine on Sunday with vows of resolute support and promises of further weapons shipments even as Russian forces claimed to have seized full control of a bitterly contested city.
Mr. Biden and his counterparts figuratively and, in some cases, literally wrapped their arms around President Volodomyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who made an audacious journey halfway around the world from his ravaged homeland to Hiroshima, Japan, to solicit aid for the first time in person from the Group of 7 powers at their annual summit.
“Together with the entire G7, we have Ukraine’s back, and I promise we’re not going anywhere,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Zelensky while announcing another $375 million in artillery, ammunition and other arms for Ukraine. At a later news conference, Mr. Biden voiced defiance of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“I once more shared and assured President Zelensky, together with all G7 members and our allies and partners around the world, that we will not waver,” he said. “Putin will not break our resolve, as he thought he could.”
Zelensky got what he has long asked for.
Mr. Zelensky won the major prize he sought a day before arriving in Hiroshima when Mr. Biden reversed himself and agreed to make it possible for Ukraine to obtain F-16 warplanes. Mr. Biden on Sunday defended his long reluctance to allow such jets to be sent to Ukraine by saying the time had not yet been right and arguing that they would not have stopped Russia from taking Bakhmut in months of grinding ground combat.
“F-16s would not have helped in that regard at all,” he told reporters. “It was unnecessary. For example, let’s take just Bakhmut, for example. It would not have any additional added consequence.”
In authorizing the F-16 training now, Mr. Biden said he was preparing Ukraine for the day down the road when it would need to deter further Russian aggression.
Lilacs, by Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin (1861-1939), Russia
Federal prosecutors have evidence Donald Trump was put on notice that he could not retain any classified documents after he was subpoenaed for their return last year, as they examine whether the subsequent failure to fully comply with the subpoena was a deliberate act of obstruction by the former president.
The previously unreported warning conveyed to Trump by his lawyer Evan Corcoran could be significant in the criminal investigation surrounding Trump’s handling of classified materials given it shows he knew about his subpoena obligations.
Last June, Corcoran found roughly 40 classified documents in the storage room at Mar-a-Lago and told the justice department that no further materials remained at the property. That was later shown to be untrue, after the FBI later returned with a warrant and seized 101 additional classified documents.
The federal investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith has recently focused on why the subpoena was not compiled with, notably whether Trump arranged for boxes of classified documents to be moved out of the storage room so he could illegally retain them.
In particular, prosecutors have fixated on Trump’s valet Walt Nauta, after he told the justice department that Trump told him to move boxes out of the storage room before and after the subpoena. The activity was captured on subpoenaed surveillance footage, though there were gaps in the tapes.
The warning was one of several key moments that Corcoran preserved in roughly 50 pages of contemporaneous notes described to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, which prosecutors have viewed in recent months as central to the criminal investigation.
The notes revealed how Trump and Nauta had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search.
Read more at The Guardian.
There are quite a few stories on DeSantis and Florida, as he builds up to the big announcement that everyone already knows about. Here are a couple floating around today:
The NAACP issued a travel advisory for the state “in direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools,” the group said in a written statement Saturday.
Spring Day in the forest with beeches and Anemones in bloom, 1903, Peder Mork Monsted
The announcement came days after LULAC – the League of United Latin American Citizens – issued a travel advisory for Florida after DeSantis signed a new immigration law that will go into effect in July.
Both LULAC and the NAACP say actions under the DeSantis administration are “hostile” to their communities.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
Under DeSantis, Florida has banned the teaching of critical race theory – which acknowledges systemic racism is a part of American history and challenges the beliefs that allowed it to flourish.
The governor said the concept would teach children “the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate.” He also passed legislation barring instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.
The DeSantis administration also blocked a preliminary version of a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies, with Florida’s Department of Education saying it “significantly lacks educational value.”
The NAACP said DeSantis’ actions are “in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”
Biden advisers believe they can hold up what the GOP governor calls his “Florida blueprint” as a warning to the country about what would happen if DeSantis or any other Republican wins the White House in 2024 – a human embodiment, essentially, of Biden’s argument that “MAGA extremism” goes beyond Donald Trump.
And along the way, they believe the Florida governor’s record may give them a chance at the state’s 30 electoral votes.
The Biden campaign has quietly started putting campaign cash and efforts into Florida – and will decide in the coming months whether to put more – as it gauges the president’s chances of reversing the reddening of a state he lost by a wider-than-expected margin in 2020.
It’s an insurance policy strategy for a campaign that has so far almost exclusively focused on Biden as the alternative to Trump, who continues to lead Republican primary polls and whom DeSantis has already spent months trying to knock out of the way.
And it comes as Biden advisers push back on ongoing criticism from Florida Democrats that they flubbed their chance last year to damage DeSantis early by not investing much energy or money against him as he ran for reelection, racking up a whopping 19-point victory and tens of millions in campaign funds, likely now headed to a supportive super PAC.
“They’ve realized the outcome of their negligence. [DeSantis] now has a lot of resources that he can use,” said former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who won a Miami-area House seat in the 2018 blue wave but lost it two years later as Trump carried the state. “You don’t want to lose your democracy? You want to stop fascism? Then do something about his reelection. We could have stopped [DeSantis] in 2022. No one did anything.”
That’s all I have for you today. This is an open thread–please feel free to discuss these stories or post your own suggested links on any topic.
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Yes, it’s another rabbit hole. Yes, it’s rather scholarly and lawyerly. Yes, we all didn’t catch this back in February when the 5th Circuit made a decision that may impact more than just the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Bureau has been on every outrage list of right-wingers and the financial industry due to its oversight of how it snags borrowers and then proceeds to drain every last drop of money it can. You may remember this being set up by the Obama Administration under the leadership of Elizabeth Warren before her Senate run.
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up a major case involving funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was formed in response to the 2008 financial crisis. A federal appeals court ruled in October that the funding mechanism for the CFPB violates the Constitution, but the Biden administration, which had asked the justices to weigh in, says that allowing the lower court’s decision to stand could raise “grave concerns” for “the entire financial industry.”
The announcement came as part of a list of orders from the justices’ private conference last week.
The case involving the CFPB began as a challenge by the payday-lending industry to a 2017 rule that (as relevant here) barred lenders from making additional efforts to withdraw payments from borrowers’ bank accounts after two consecutive failed attempts due to a lack of funds.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected most of the groups’ challenges to the rule, but it ultimately struck down the rule based on the CFPB’s unique funding scheme, which operates outside the normal congressional appropriations process. Instead of receiving money allocated to it each year by Congress, the CFPB receives funding directly from the Federal Reserve, which collects fees from member banks. And that scheme, the court of appeals concluded, violates the Constitution’s appropriations clause, which directs that “[n]o Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The appropriations clause, the court of appeals explained, “ensures Congress’s exclusive power over the federal purse,” which is in turn essential to ensure that other branches of government don’t overstep their authority. The court of appeals vacated the 2017 rule on the ground that the CFPB was receiving funding through that unconstitutional funding mechanism when it adopted the rule.
The CFPB came to the Supreme Court in November, asking the justices to take up the case and overrule what it characterized as the lower court’s “unprecedented and erroneous understanding of the Appropriations Clause.” The appropriations clause, the CFPB argued, means “simply that no money can be paid out of the Treasury unless it has been appropriated by an Act of Congress.” In the case of the CFPB, the government contends, “Congress enacted a statute explicitly authorizing the CFPB to use a specified amount of funds from a specified source for specified purposes. The Appropriations Clause requires nothing more.”
The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to take up a case that could threaten the existence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and potentially the status of numerous other federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve.
A panel of three Trump appointees on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last fall that the agency’s funding is unconstitutional because the CFPB gets its money from the Federal Reserve, which in turn is funded by bank fees.
Although the agency reports regularly to Congress and is routinely audited, the Fifth Circuit ruled that is not enough. The CFPB’s money has to be appropriated annually by Congress or the agency, or else everything it does is unconstitutional, the lower courts said.
The CFPB is not the only agency funded this way. The Federal Reserve itself is funded not by Congress but by banking fees. The U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Mint, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which protects bank depositors, and more, are also not funded by annual congressional appropriations.
In its brief to the Supreme Court, the Biden administration noted that even programs like Social Security and Medicare are paid for by mandatory spending, not annual appropriations.
“This marks the first time in our nation’s history that any court has held that Congress violated the Appropriations Clause by enacting a law authorizing spending,” wrote the Biden administration’s Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar.
Lydon Larouche, The John Birch Society, and now cryptocurrency maniacs, including Elon Musk, have been after all of these agencies for decades. Have they found the court and the basis that could do that? Tottenberg also notes this.
A conservative bête noire
Conservatives who have long opposed the modern administrative state have previously challenged laws that declared heads of agencies can only be fired for cause. In recent years, the Supreme Court has agreed and struck down many of those provisions. The court has held that administrative agencies are essentially creatures of the Executive Branch, so the president has to be able to fire at-will and not just for cause.
This is from the Consumer Finance Monitor. “SCOTUS agrees to decide whether CFPB’s funding is unconstitutional but will not hear case until next Term.” We’re going to have to watch this one.
The sole question presented by the CFPB’s petition is:
Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that the statute providing funding to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 12 U.S.C. 5497, violates the Appropriations Clause, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 9, Cl. 7, and in vacating a regulation promulgated at a time when the CFPB was receiving such funding.
Thus, by denying CFSA’s cross-petition and also rejecting CFSA’s request to consider the alternative grounds as antecedent questions to the CFPB’s petition, the Supreme Court is poised to decide the Appropriations Clause issue.
While the Court’s decision not to hear the case this Term means the Fifth Circuit decision will continue to be a cloud over all CFPB actions and could slow the pace of enforcement activity (particularly in pending cases where defendants can be expected to assert the Appropriations Clause issue as a defense), we do not expect it to impact the CFPB’s ongoing supervisory activity in any material way or deter Director Chopra from continuing to pursue his aggressive regulatory agenda.
Just yesterday, I visited the “Rage Against the War Machine” rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Organized by the Libertarian Party, the People’s Party, and the Schiller Institute (run by LaRouche’s widow, Helga Zepp), it was thick with leafleteers pushing LaRouche messaging and featured speeches by two dozen or so Putin-friendly speakers, including presidential candidates Jill Stein, Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard, and Ron Paul.
One speaker led the crowd in a chant, “all wars are bankers’ wars,” bringing things full circle: the assertion being that it is only because we have departed from pure, good, and undefiled Austrian economics and the gold standard can (usually Jewish) bankers print the money required to fuel endless war. It seems no one at this anti-war rally had arrived at the most obvious solution: tell Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops and go home.
Paul, the final live speaker of the day, predictably took the podium to chants of “End the Fed” with a phalanx of Russian flags behind him in the afternoon light. (Ironically, the Eccles Federal Reserve building, barely a block away, is undergoing renovations.)
The North-Paul strategy seems to be alive and well. The most obvious strategy to achieve it would be to crash the global economy by failing to raise the debt ceiling. Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly and explicitly stated his intent to pursue this, and the Washington Post recently reported that the strategy has been developed by former Trump budget director Russell Vought. But two things stand in his way.
JUST ANNOUNCED: President Joe Biden REMINDS the GOP they said they would protect Social Security and Medicare at the State of the Union!pic.twitter.com/CBOwqVhF8M
The Debt Ceiling Crisis looms eminently. This is from Sahil Kapur and NBC News. “The big problem with trying to cut spending in a debt ceiling bill. President Biden and congressional leaders have a major hurdle to overcome as negotiators meet privately to consider a way forward and prevent a self-inflicted economic calamity.”
Heading into an expected meeting between President Joe Biden and congressional leaders this week, Republican lawmakers say an agreement on “spending caps” is important in securing their support to avert a dangerous debt default.
The House-passed debt ceiling bill would slash federal spending to fiscal year 2022 levels, requiring appropriators charged with allocating government funding to cut $131 billion compared with what Congress is currently spending.
Meeting that target without cutting defense funding would require a steep 17% cut to nondefense discretionary spending.
“Democrats will not let nondefense take a disproportionate share of deep cuts. So Republicans will have to moderate their cut demands if they want to spare defense,” said Brian Riedl, a former Senate Republican policy aide who now works at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative public policy think tank.
Riedl said they may be able to avoid the dispute by freezing spending rather than making cuts, suggesting “a two-year freeze” on federal spending as one possible endgame.
The trick is that Republicans do not want to touch Defense Spending. We’re not at war anywhere anymore so that should be the item to look for any cuts. Spending on the Military generally is just about half of discretionary spending. No country spends the kinds of money we spend on its military budget.
We’re watching Turkey’s election go to run-offs while it appears Elon Musk is using Twitter in the interests of Erdogan and his business interests there.
"You can't crown yourself the grand poobah of free speech while also cravenly caving to the demands of foreign autocracies where you also, conveniently, happen to have other business interests." – @MehdiRHasan on Elon Musk bowing to Turkey's Twitter censorship demands. pic.twitter.com/cTtCkXpU3Z
Erdogan is currently trending on Twitter, along with a lot of information on how Twitter has successfully fought off Erdogan’s attempt to censor its content.
“This is not victory for Erdogan… but this certainly is a win for the president,” says @JomanaCNN about the Turkish elections, as the country now heads into a presidential run-off. “For the opposition, this was a serious blow.” pic.twitter.com/LvkSuVWz25
So, you should be able to tell that I’m knee deep in research and preparing to teach an MBA course because I’ve been writing so many finance and econ posts recently. This morning is going to continue that trend. Plus, the War on Women is still on! Some mornings it just doesn’t pay to read the news, I swear!
Feeling poorer? There’s good reason! According to statistics analyzed by Investor’s Business Daily“10-Year Real Wage Gains Worse Than During Depression”. That’s why no one has any money to spend. This is especially true when you couple that with sagging wealth from your incredible shrinking home equity.
The past decade of wage growth has been one for the record books — but not one to celebrate.
The increase in total private-sector wages, adjusted for inflation, from the start of 2001 has fallen far short of any 10-year period since World War II, according to Commerce Department data. In fact, if the data are to be believed, economywide wage gains have even lagged those in the decade of the Great Depression (adjusted for deflation).
Two years into the recovery, and 10 years after the nation fell into a post-dot-com bubble recession, this legacy of near-stagnant wages has helped ground the economy despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus — and even an impressive bull market.
Over the past decade, real private-sector wage growth has scraped bottom at 4%, just below the 5% increase from 1929 to 1939, government data show.
Moody’s Investors Service said today that if there is no progress on increasing the statutory debt limit in coming weeks, it expects to place the US government’s rating under review for possible downgrade, due to the very small but rising risk of a short-lived default. If the debt limit is raised and default avoided, the Aaa rating will be maintained. However, the rating outlook will depend on the outcome of negotiations on deficit reduction. A credible agreement on substantial deficit reduction would support a continued stable outlook; lack of such an agreement could prompt Moody’s to change its outlook to negative on the Aaa rating.
Although Moody’s fully expected political wrangling prior to an increase in the statutory debt limit, the degree of entrenchment into conflicting positions has exceeded expectations. The heightened polarization over the debt limit has increased the odds of a short-lived default. If this situation remains unchanged in coming weeks, Moody’s will place the rating under review.
Moody’s had previously indicated that its stable outlook on the Aaa rating was based on the assumption that meaningful progress would be made within the next eighteen months in adopting measures to reverse the country’s upward debt trajectory. The debt limit negotiations represent a real near-term opportunity for agreement on a plan for fiscal consolidation. If this current opportunity passes, Moody’s believes that the likelihood of anything significant being accomplished before the next presidential election is reduced, in part because the two parties each hopes to capture both a congressional majority and the presidency in the 2012 election, after which the winning party could achieve its own agenda. Therefore, failure to reach an agreement as part of the current negotiations would increase the likelihood of a negative outlook in the near term, because the upward debt trajectory would still be in place. At present, this appears the most likely outcome, in Moody’s opinion.
The Nationreports that the Banking Lobby joins the Republican party in attacking Elizabeth Warren. The fight continues to stop implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) and to stop Warren from head it up. The bureau’s main mission is to stop bad lending practices that were rampant and damaging during the subprime mortgage crisis.
During last year’s financial reform debate, Congressional Republicans, along with some bank-friendly Democrats, launched a furious campaign to defeat the bureau. The US Chamber of Commerce led a $2 million industrywide ad campaign opposing the CFPB, using a butcher as its unlikely public face. “Virtually every business that extends credit to American consumers would be affected—even the local butcher,” one ad claimed. “I don’t know how many of your butchers are offering financial services,” quipped President Obama after meeting victims of lending abuses. The financial services firms that will fall under CFPB purview—big and small banks, payday lenders, mortgage brokers—did all they could to weaken it and create special exemptions for their industries, yet the consumer bureau improbably became “one of the central aspects of financial reform,” according to Obama, and the most tangible victory for consumers. Under pressure from consumer advocates, the administration named Warren a special adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, her onetime foe, and the bureau’s interim director. Now Congressional Republicans and their industry backers are mounting a last-ditch effort to constrain the CFPB before its launch. Warren, according to associates, views this as an attempt to “pull the arms and legs off of the agency.”
“The definition of personhood ranges if you’re talking about property law, or inheritance, or how the census is taken,” says Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
All those differences are exactly what Keith Mason wants to change. He’s president of Personhood USA, a group that’s trying to rewrite the laws and constitutions of every state — and some countries — to recognize someone as a person “exactly at creation,” he says. “It’s fertilization; it’s when the sperm meets the egg.”
Mason says the basic problem is that science has advanced faster than policymaking.
“We know, without a shadow of a doubt, when human life begins,” he says. “But our laws have not caught up to what we know.”
And according to his organization, those laws should recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being.
Medical experts say pregnancy begins when the egg implants in the uterus, not at fertilization. It is at this point that a woman’s hormone levels change and pregnancy can be detected through a urine test. Dan Grossman, an ob-gyn at the University of California-San Francisco who works with Ibis Reproductive Health, noted that about half of fertilized eggs implant and result in pregnancy.
Considering a fertilized egg a person with full rights also could outlaw popular forms of contraception, Grossman said. “This redefinition really could end up reclassifying all of these effective and safe birth control methods as abortifacients, or agents that induce abortions,” because some contraceptives can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, he explained. Grossman added that the idea that birth control methods that can block implantation are the equivalent of abortion is “certainly not a view that’s held by the medical profession or that’s based on medical evidence, and it’s certainly not consistent with what American women and couples want and use to plan their families.”
Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said personhood proponents’ intent is to ban abortion and birth control. She said that giving rights to a fertilized egg could have far-reaching and dangerous consequences by legally separating a woman from her pregnancy. For example, in cases of potentially lethal ectopic pregnancies, personhood would give “all fertilized eggs legal rights under the law [and] calls into question what kind of methods a doctor can actually use to save a woman’s life,” she said.
Amanda Marcotte–writing for Slate–describes the laws as even “weirder than imaged”. Basically, you can sum it up this way: women are receptacles and fertilized eggs are people. This seems unbelievable but it’s unfortunately real and represents just the latest threat to our autonomy.
Even some anti-abortion groups oppose personhood bills, not because they disagree with the aims of the proponents—who want to ban all abortion, IVF treatment, stem cell research, and many forms of contraception—but because it’s bad and confusing law. And part of the reason for this is that it creates a lot of confusion over the gap between belief and fact. For instance, it’s clear that many supporters of personhood laws hope the laws can be used to ban hormonal birth control and IUDs, which they argue work by killing fertilized eggs. However, attempts to use the law in this way are complicated by the fact that this is not how these contraception methods work; hormonal methods work by suppressing ovulation and IUDs work by making the uterus a hostile environment for sperm (which isn’t going to do much to quell the emasculation concerns of anti-choicers). Realistically speaking, if you believe fertilized eggs are “people” and losing one is equivalent to losing a child, then women who use the pill to prevent ovulation are actually the least murderous amongst us, since they are losing the fewest number of fertilized eggs. Using these laws to stop the distribution of these kinds of contraception would likely depend on a number of factors, including judges’ willingness to treat made-up beliefs as equal to scientific information.
There’s way more at stake than even abortion and contraception, in fact. The haziness of these bills could create all sorts of nightmarish scenarios. For one thing, they would absolutely make IVF illegal, but it would also call into question how you handle all the embryos that have already been created in labs. With IVF being banned, it’s pointless to keep them around anymore, but disposing of them is killing “people.” Are we prepared to throw people in jail for this? There’s also a concern about how miscarriages are handled once you’ve determined that a “child” has been lost every time a woman miscarries, no matter how early in her pregnancy. These laws open the possibility of every woman miscarrying being detained for a legal investigation to determine if she has criminal liability for miscarriage. If you think I’m being ridiculous about this, consider that women are already being thrown in jail for giving birth to babies that don’t survive. Personhood laws could roll back the clock on your criminal liability to before you were even pregnant. Unfortunately, there are zealots in law enforcement that are willing to throw a woman who miscarries at eight weeks in jail because someone saw her drinking in a bar six weeks ago, before she probably even knew she was pregnant.
The Frisky‘s “Girl Talk: Why Being Drunk Is a Feminist Issue,” by Kate Torgovnick, who totes isn’t a victim-blamer, she swears! It’s just that we don’t live in an ideal world, so because women “do not have control over what men, drunk or sober, will do when presented with our drunkeness,” women should take control over “our side of the equation—how much we drink.”
There is a lot wrong with that article (not least of which is the author’s confusion about what actually constitutes rape), but I’m not going to waste my time fisking garbage. I’ll merely note that the entire premise is fundamentally flawed in the same ways that every other piece in this despicable genre is, in addition to the evident issue that victim-blaming, even if cynically rebranded as “taking control,” inexorably shifts responsibility from rapist to victim
Where have all the consciousness raising groups gone?
So, I really don’t want to talk about Wienergate or who is in New Hampshire or why Chris Christie thinks it’s okay to take state helicopters on personal jaunts. So, maybe you’ve got something else to offer up? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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You would think that being less than three years off from the biggest financial market collapse since the Great Depression would make beltway lawmakers tread lightly when it comes to upsetting financial markets here and around the world. You would also think that after we’ve used the Fed for the most unusual transactions in its history, bailed out investment banks and insurance companies, and concentrated bank deposits and securities dealers from ‘too big to fail’ to ‘so huge they’d take the developed world down with them’ that District politicos would find a different outlet for their psuedo outrage. It’s not that they’re mad at financial institutions or what they basically did to the world’s major economies, it’s that their mad at what they did to the U.S. Federal deficit and since blaming teachers and park rangers didn’t work, they’re going to attack the U.S. Treasury Market. That’s right, they are attacking the base risk free rate used by every asset pricing model from the CAPM forward. That’s like striking at the heart of what makes modern finance work. Sounds kind’ve stupid doesn’t it?
Well, Tuesday’s Congressional vote on the debt ceiling was a danse macabre aimed directly at turning financial markets upside down whether they want to think so or not. The equity markets have been dancing around a technical high most of spring and are heading downwards as we speak. The economy has not healed. The job market is dismal. Credit markets are still stuck on neutral. Household consumption and Consumer confidence have headed south. What are these people trying to do our economy? Tank it? Finally, there’s a few media voices that are expressing concern instead of admiration for the “brave” insanity of people like Paul Ryan. Is this coming a little too late? Is the Republican party trying to drive the cost of borrowing for every one in the world up to score a few political points with some block of voters?
Just ignore Tuesday’s vote against raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders whispered to Wall Street. We didn’t really vote against it, members suggested; we just sent another of our endless symbolic messages, pretending to take the nation’s credit to the brink of collapse in order to extract the maximum concessions from President Obama.
Once he caves, members said, the debt limit will be raised and the credit scare will end. And the business world apparently got the message. It’s just a “joke,” said a leader of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Wall Street is in on it. Not everyone found it funny.
No matter how they tried to spin it, 318 House members actually voted against paying the country’s bills and keeping the promise made to federal bondholders. That’s an incredibly dangerous message to send in a softening global economy. Among the jokesters were 236 Republicans playing the politics of extortion, and 82 feckless Democrats who fret that Republicans could transform a courageous vote into a foul-smelling advertisement.
If I were the Chinese or Russian government or any other investor with the ability to transfer funds anywhere else, I would be doing so just to make a point. Threatening to default on sovereign debt should not be considered political tool. It’s like threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction to score points.
Steven Benen of Washington Monthly calls it a “hostage strategy”. Frankly, it’s domestic terrorism with hostages.
…Boehner’s let’s-get-a-deal-done stance masks a deeper belief within the House Republican Conference — that Obama will back down eventually and agree to its demands, forcing Capitol Hill Democrats to follow suit.
“Of course, it’s dangerous,” a House Republican close to Boehner said of the politics of a government default. “But it’s dangerous for everybody, especially the president. At the end of the day, [Obama] will have to give in.”
“Who has egg on their face if there is a sovereign debt crisis, House Republicans or the president?” asked another senior GOP lawmaker.
With a potential debt default by the U.S. government just two months off, and a continued standoff between the White House and GOP congressional leaders on how to move forward in boosting that limit, Republican lawmakers say publicly and privately that they believe Obama will be the one who has to cave.
To be sure, the hostage-strategy dynamic isn’t new, but it’s uncommon for Republican members of Congress to be this candid about their plan out loud. One leading GOP lawmaker acknowledged that the Republican plan is “dangerous,” but the party doesn’t care. Another conceded that the GOP is inviting a “sovereign debt crisis,” but figures Obama would get the blame, so Republicans don’t care about that, either.
Okay, so notice the theme here. Obama is expected to cave and why not? He’s drawn lines in the sand before. Remember his promise to not extend tax cuts to the richest of the rich? He caved. Remember how he was going to offer a robust public option or at least an exchange with some kind of government-sponsored plan for health care reform? He caved. Remember all that posturing over closing Guantanamo or bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He caved.
That’s what you get when you negotiate with terrorists and they know you’ll lead with the compromise position. They’ll keep taking more important things hostage and wait you out. They know this one is too big to fail but yet, they can’t resist just seeing how much they can get away with this time. Problem is, this time it’s really having an impact. The economy is looking as though it will double dip and requires a fiscal boost, for one. This is like 1937 redux and I’m afraid that more mistakes will be made. I can’t believe that we have a political party that is so intent on damaging an administration that it’s going to frighten the global economy into a possibly game changing reshuffling of what the base of financial world’s ‘risk free’ rate and global safe haven currency may be in the future. If there was ever any reason or an excuse to dump the dollar as a basis of your economy or start ridding your trade surplus savings of US Treasury holdings, this would be it. Symbolic my fat New Orleans ass!
A testy White House meeting between President Obama and House Republican leaders Wednesday failed to lower the partisan pitch in the capital, much less make progress toward a deal on the federal debt ceiling.
Instead, the two sides traded complaints, accusing each other of partisanship and posturing. Republicans demanded that the administration produce a budget-cutting plan, which the White House said it had already done.
Rep. Paul D. Ryan, architect of a Medicare overhaul aimed at slashing the cost of the popular entitlement program by reducing the government’s open-ended commitment to seniors, accused Obama of “mis-describing” his plan and implored the president to ease up on the “demagoguery.”
In reply, Obama said he was no stranger to cartoonish depictions, reeling off a list of conservatives’ favorite attack points: “I’m the death-panel-supporting, socialist, may-not-have-been-born-here president,” Obama said, according to people familiar with his remarks.
The meeting was meant to resolve pent-up grievances and move toward compromise on the deficit and the cost of healthcare for seniors. But after 75 minutes of talk in the East Room, the two sides parted company with little progress.
Johnathan Chait of The New Republic rightly accuses ‘economist’ John Taylor of the Hoover Institute of ignoring the “severe economic consequences of risking the full faith and credit of the Treasury”. Just arguing spending cuts are good just doesn’t make sense. This is especially true given the incredible fragile state of the U.S. economy and recovery. Is extracting more concessions out of Obama worth global financial market turmoil?
The hack Republican answer is that spending cuts and the debt ceiling are linked, because the debt ceiling is Obama’s fault. But of course the debt ceiling has to get raised under every president, and it would have to be raised even if Obama signed the Paul Ryan budget. The debt ceiling has nothing to do with any particular policy choices — it’s just a routine vote that used to be an opportunity for the minority party to embarrass the president, which Republicans are turning into a hostage opportunity. People like Taylor are dressing this up in principle, but the only principle they can articulate is that spending cuts are good. But that same logic would allow the minority to use the debt ceiling to jack up the president over any policy disagreement at all.
So far, the markets and the world seem to think that American politicians will stop their posturing and settle down to business before the August drop dead date. They’ve even quoted Churchill who used to say we eventually do the right thing it’s just that we don’t actually do it until the very last minute. The deal is that not only is the brinkmanship a dangerous strategy but the further concessions–in a fragile recovery at best–are dangerous. Obama and his cadre of lawyers have made it clear that they will concede any high ground. Again, we have a history of Obama concessions on political promises. The problem is that each time the concession comes, it comes at a greater cost. Every one knew this drama would play out once Obama gave in on renewing the Bush Tax Cuts. Every thing is negotiable and subject to concession now. You can’t fake credibility once you’ve show yourself as having none.
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.