Monday, May 22, 2017

New Jersey: Defeating A Frelinghuysen


When I was very young, my family used to rent a summer bungalow in Ft. Freedom, New Jersey, northwest of Morristown in what is now Rodney Frelinghuysen's congressional district (NJ-11). He inherited this political domain from the Frelinghuysen dynasty and his great wealth from his mother's family, Beatice Proctor an heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune. His father represented the area from 1953 to 1975 and his grandfather, Freddy Frelinghuysen was a New Jersey senator (and a vice presidential nominee under Henry Clay in 1844. Frelinghuysen's great-great-great-great-grandfather, another Freddy Frelinghuysen, was one of the framers of the U.S. Constitution and later a U.S. Senator from New Jersey. The current inbred goof-ball, Rodney Procter Frelinghuysen the 4th or 5th or 6th, was a spoiled, poor student but everything has always been handed to him on a silver platter. And if he didn't have enough from the GOP, the DCCC has never challenged him and has been giving him free passes to reelection since 1994. He normally wins reelection with well over 60% of the vote, sometimes with over 70%, against Democrats with no support and no money. Last year's 194,299 (58.0%) to 130,162 (38.9%) was his narrowest-ever win. Maybe his support for Trump dragged him down. Romney had beaten Obama in the R+6 district 53-47% but underperformed, taking the district narrowly, 48.8% to 47.9%.

That caught the DCCC's attention and they're now saying they're interested in supporting a candidate. Two weak candidates have put themselves forward, Jack Gebbia and Mikie Sherrill but locals-- as well as the DCCC-- are eager to recruit progressive West Orange Assemblyman John McKeon. Aside from an excellent voting record and record of leadership in the Assembly, in New Jersey's corrupt political cesspool, McKeon is a rare incumbent with a good reputation. As far back as March, Politico was speculating that Frelinghuysen’s streak of effortless elections may come to an end in 2018, just as he’s at the height of his power as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. And that was before he flip-flopped on TrumpCare, first claiming he couldn't vote for it and then-- even as the House Freedom Cuacus made it a worse bill-- decided to vote for it anyway.

Anti-Trump activists have incessantly called on Frelinghuysen to hold a town hall somewhere in North Jersey’s 11th District, which includes all or parts of Morris, Essex Passaic and Sussex counties. He’s refused, so they’ve protested at his office asking "Where's Rodney?" and held mock town halls. The recently-started Facebook group “NJ 11th for Change,” through which protests against Frelinghuysen are publicized, has more than 7,000 members.

And now, NJ 11th for Change has a super PAC, founded last month by Google executive Jonathan Bellack and local bank executive Saily Avelenda. Organizers claim it raised $10,000 in its first day and another $10,000 in its first week simply through seeking contributions on Facebook.

“We’re not your traditional super PAC,” said Debra Caplan, who serves on the super PAC’s board and on the steering committee of the larger NJ 11th for Change organization. “We’re a citizens super PAC. We’re a group of ordinary people who decided to start a super PAC because we want to be able to create material and distribute information about what’s happening in the congressional district and things that are coming down the line.

...Critics point to Frelinghuysen's decreasing vote ratings by groups like Planned Parenthood and his increasing ratings with groups like the National Rifle Association.

Redistricting in 2011 didn’t do Frelinghuysen any favors by taking away some conservative territory and adding some Democratic towns, including part of the liberal bastion of Montclair, in Essex County. In 2010, the district had 150,000 Republicans to 100,000 Democrats. Now, it has 165,000 Republicans and 152,000 Democrats.

...Matt Hale, a professor of political science at Seton Hall University, said Frelinghuysen could be vulnerable.

“The anger that people are feeling toward Donald Trump seems to be spilling over all over New Jersey. I do think that could crystalize into an effective opposition,” he said.

Caplan said several people have expressed interest in challenging the 70-year-old Frelinghuysen. Only one Democrat, however, has publicly entertained the notion: Assemblyman John McKeon, who comes from a Democratic part of the district in suburban Essex County.

Even with a super PAC doing some of the lifting, whomever runs against Frelinghuysen will likely be financially outgunned. As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Frelinghuysen, who in the last election raised $2 million-- half of it from corporate PACs-- despite token opposition, will not have trouble raising money.
Frelinghuysen rakes in immense sums (bribes) from war contactors and Big PhRMA and in the last cycle spent $1,669,366 although his 3 opponents, Democrat Joe Wenzel, Libertarian Jeff Hetrick and independent Tom Depasquale spent a combined total of... zero. None had even raised the $5,000 that would trigger an FEC report. McKeon, on the other hand, is a strong fund-raiser and would certainly be the first opponent to give Frelinghuysen a real run.

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Unless A Supine GOP Stops Him, Trump Will Do To America What Brownback Did To Kansas


You know how states are supposed to be petri dishes for new ideas? Long before the federal government was looking into protecting consumers from predatory mortgage banksters, Assemblyman (and then state Senator) Ted Lieu was hammering out and passing controversial legislation that did just that in California. Today California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez's revamped paid family leave plan-- revamped so that the benefits go to working class families, not just the upper middle class-- is a model for state legislatures across the country and will eventually become the foundation for a national law. But this same kind of thing happens when Republicans gain control of states-- or at least the mirror imagine happens. Last week Dominic Rushe, writing for The Guardian from Kansas, wrote about how Trump is using that state as a model for his tax cut plans. The problem, of course, is that, after years as a radical right petri dish under Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas is a fiscal basket-case.

Details like that seem to escape Trump and he's bringing the widely despised Brownback into his Regime and bringing Brownback's failed ideological point of view into his tax agenda. "Kansas is broke," wrote Rushe, "but you wouldn’t guess it looking at its shining state capitol in Topeka. The imposing limestone monument, crowned by a shiny copper dome and limned with John Steuart Curry’s luminous murals, has just undergone a $325m facelift. What’s happening inside the state house is a lot less pretty, and may well foreshadow the far uglier battle looming over the future of taxation in the United States."

Kansas is one of the reddest states in America. The entire delegation to Washington is Republican, as are the state wide constitutional officers. The state Senate has 32 Republicans and 8 Democrats and the state House contains 97 Republicans and just 28 Democrats. And Kansas hasn't awarded a Democratic presidential candidate its electoral votes since LBJ in 1964. Trump beat Hillary 671,018 (56.6%) to 427,005 (36.0%), winning 103 of Kansas' 105 counties. Nevertheless, the underfunded Democratic candidate for the special election to replace Mike Pompeo in April, James Thompson, stunned Republicans by closing the gap by over 20 points and winning the biggest county in the district despite having been massively outspent by Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes. In the end Estes won with 63,505 votes (52.5%) to Thompson's 55,310 (45.7%). 5 months earlier Trump had won the district 60.2% to 33.0% and in 2014 Pompeo had been re-elected 60.7% to 29.6%. Two years before that Pompeo had taken 67%. Thompson will be running against Estes again in 2018. Democrats sense a change in the air in their battered state. Trump doesn't. Trump's chief economic advisor Gary Cohn and his Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin-- a couple of swamp-dwelling Goldman Sachs banksters-- have used Kansas' failed model for a national model.
The plan’s similarity to the one that has left Kansas in crisis is “unbelievable,” according to Duane Goossen, the former Kansas secretary of administration.

The economic spirit behind Trump’s plan is Arthur Laffer-- the go-to guru of “supply-side economics” since the Reagan era, and one of the architects of Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s original tax plan.

The former member of Reagan’s economic policy advisory board is best known for the “Laffer curve,” an illustration of the theory (not his own) that economic activity is tied to taxation, and that lower taxes, up to a point, mean more revenues.

That curve was famously scribbled by Laffer on a napkin over cocktails with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in 1974, and helped underpin Reagan’s so-called trickle-down economics-- as well as launching Laffer’s career as one of the most influential economists in Republican circles.

The curve is his calling card, but he also collects and publishes a vast trove of economic data on state revenues and taxes that seems to-- handily-- point to one conclusion: taxes bad, tax cuts good.

Fairly or not, “Laffernomics” is being blamed for a plan that has left the state in crisis and Brownback’s ratings in the Kansas dust. And Kansas, it seems, is about to act as the model for the biggest US tax cuts since the Gipper was in office.

Thanks to Kansas’s budget woes, Brownback regularly polls as the least popular governor in the union. Nor is there much love for Laffer. “How does he sleep at night?” one parent asked.

“Politics is politics, and I have been the object of political attack and praise. I have gotten both,” Laffer told the Guardian. “What can I tell you? If you climb up the pole, your ass sticks out pretty far, and I climb up. I’m not afraid of taking a position on things.”

Sitting in the capitol’s vaulted lobby, Goossen, now a senior fellow at the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, has little time for Laffer’s arguments, and says that the Trump administration’s recent presentation gave him the shivers.

When Brownback outlined his plan in 2012, he, too, said the tax cuts would pay for themselves. “He too said the tax cuts would benefit everybody, [that] they would be be ‘a shot of adrenaline to the heart’ of the Kansan economy,” said Goossen.

Instead, Goossen claims, the money has gone to a small group of wealthy Kansans while the state’s budget has been left with a roughly $1bn shortfall. Its school system, once its crown jewel, has suffered year after year of cuts, and its savings are gone. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center calculates Trump’s tax plan would cost $6.2tn over the first decade.

“We are a cautionary tale. It sounds great, everybody gets a tax cut and it’ll balance-- but it just doesn’t work,” said Goossen.

Campaigning for re-election in 2014, Brownback pledged his tax plans would add 100,000 new jobs over four years. By March this year, the state had added just 12,400 private-sector jobs. Kansas isn’t even keeping up with its neighbors. Hiring in Kansas increased by 0.3% in the last year; Missouri’s growth rate over that same period was 1.4%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The prop of the Brownback plan, as with Trump’s, was a huge cut to taxes paid by limited liability companies (LLCs)-- and so-called “pass-through” businesses-- which meant independent business owners would pay no state tax on the bulk, if not all, of their income. Those businesses would then go out and invest and create new jobs, or so the argument went.

At the time, Kansas had about 190,000 LLCs. Now it has about 300,000, but so far they have not spurred a new hiring drive in the state. “There is no evidence whatsoever that suggests this plan worked,” said Goossen.

Upstairs, the state senate is arguing over the budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Estimated revenues are $5.7bn for the year; expenses are $6.4bn – and that’s before you add in $500m-$750m the schools are owed. As Charles Dickens once wrote: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

Goossen said: “The bigger problem is that now all the energy of the state is focused on how we scrape by and make do when we ought to be focused on the future.”

...Brownback has told the Kansas City Star he’s “heartened” by Trump’s tax plans, saying they would spur business growth. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are seeking to kill off his business tax breaks as the state struggles to balance it books.
Yesterday's NY Times reported that congressional Republicans-- at least some of them-- are cautiously distancing themselves from Trump. But only because he's probably going to be impeached over the ballooning Putin-Gate scandals. "Republicans on Sunday inched away from President Trump amid mounting evidence that he may have sought to interfere in the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. In a sign of growing anxiety, several important Republicans expressed discomfort with Mr. Trump’s firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who had been leading the agency’s inquiry into whether Mr. Trump’s associates colluded with Russian officials. But the Republicans stopped short of explicitly criticizing Mr. Trump." But when it comes to his deadly tax agenda... that's something they all love and are all complicit in.

But even with something as fundamental to Republicanism-- tax breaks for the rich coupled with big cuts in services to the middle and working class-- there are problems that shouldn't exist for a party that controls the White House and both Houses of Congress. The combination of Paul Ryan + Mike Pence and Señor Trumpanzee and the Goldman Sachs crew are proving deadly to the GOP's efforts. Over the weekend, Fox Business reported that the Republican tax effort "is still in a precarious state, weighed down by internal policy disagreements and external political turbulence... Business groups and Senate Republicans have been pouring buckets of cold water on the ideas that make the House plan add up." The Regime, Fox reports, "has released only a vague, one-page outline of tax goals, leaving it to Congress to work out the details. Optimistic talk of committee votes this spring have given way to discussion of action this year. And if a tax bill emerges, it will land amid a storm of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, which have swept up the Trump administration and distracted lawmakers."
"Members will lose their nerve to do controversial things as they instead focus on distancing themselves from the president and scrambling for their own political life," Jon Lieber of the Eurasia Group consulting firm wrote to clients this week. "A tax bill could be completely derailed by this, but either way can't come together until early next year."

...Even with Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, a major tax bill was never certain. Republicans agree on cutting tax rates and lightening the tax burden on U.S. companies' foreign earnings, but they split over whether they want a net reduction in tax revenue and they divide along regional and ideological lines on crucial details.

Still, they entered the year optimistic. House members worked from a detailed outline, the "Better Way" blueprint House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled in June 2016. And they still sound positive about reshaping the tax system in 2017.

"President Trump is leading the charge for bold tax reform that will unleash the growth of jobs and paychecks nationwide," Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Thursday. "Our committee is ready to answer that call."

To lower tax rates without adding to budget deficits, Republicans plan to bank on revenue created by economic growth and three big money-raising ideas: introducing a so-called border-adjustment tax proposal, scrapping deductions for business interest and repealing the state and local tax deduction for individuals.

Each of these measures faces sustained attacks from interest groups and fellow Republicans. None is sure to survive in the final bill, and there are no obvious revenue-raising alternatives in reserve.

Adding a border adjustment to the corporate tax-- taxing imports while exempting exports-- drew fierce blowback from retailers and Koch Industries Inc., the conglomerate run by billionaires influential in GOP politics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this week the border-adjustment tax plan probably couldn't pass the Senate.

The same could be true for repealing the business interest deduction, an idea opposed by debt-dependent industries such as real estate, private equity and agriculture. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said this week that the proposal would face an uphill fight in a Senate sensitive to rural interests. He is exploring a cap instead.

The House plan to repeal the individual deduction for state and local taxes has buy-in from the White House. But many House Republicans are objecting and there are enough of them to block the plan.

Such forces would have slowed the GOP tax plan under the best possible circumstances.

"Tax reformers may have to lower their ambitions," J.P. Morgan Chase economist Michael Feroli wrote this week. "Absent a backup plan, the slow demise of Ryan's Better Way program is revealing the tough road ahead to getting anything big done on corporate tax reform."

...Republicans plan to pursue tax legislation after passing a health-care overhaul. While the House has passed a health bill, the Senate is just starting on its version.

Lawmakers also can't complete the tax bill until they adopt a budget, a process that will force them to confront deep divisions within the GOP over spending priorities and deficits.

The Russia investigations-- and related probes into Mr. Trump's campaign and his firing of FBI Director James Comey-- could bog down a tax bill as well. The more time and political capital Republicans spend on Russia, the less they have for tax policy.

"Raising an umbrella in a light rain might keep you dry and not impede your travels," said Sage Eastman, a former GOP Ways and Means aide. "But in a full-fledged tropical storm-- well-- you're going to get a little wet."

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Will Their Dogged Opposition To Health Care Catch Up With Republicans In 2018?


Earlier today we looked at the need for Democratic candidates to talk with voters more about the issues voters are most concerned with and less about what a walking freak show Trump is. Trump and Putin-Gate may be lots of fun to watch and discuss with friends and colleagues but Americans are going to decide whether or not to vote in the 2018 midterms based, at least in part, whether or not Democrats are offering sound, realistic alternatives to the issues they themselves are most concerned about. And there's nothing that trumps healthcare policy and the way Paul Ryan, Tom Price, Mike Pence and the Republican Party have botched that up.

In his column in Sunday's L.A. Times Michael Hilzik got into the reasons why the entire healthcare industry is panicking that Trump is about to blow up Obamacare. It's no coincidence that the photo The Times led with was of Trump and Ryan. "Action being contemplated by Trump," wrote Hilzik, "could lead to millions of Americans suddenly moving 'to the ranks of the uninsured,' a coalition of healthcare groups wrote in a letter to Senate Republican and Democratic leaders. 'This threatens not just their own health and financial stability, but also the economic stability of their communities.'... The industry leaders and states are reacting to signs that Trump is a thin reed to rely on to preserve health coverage for millions. 'The President has increasingly made clear that he views decisions about providing access to health little more than political bargaining chips,' the states say in the motion to the appeals court." The healthcare industry and attorneys general from 15 states and the District of Columbia are taking the Regime to court.
The issue before the court is a dangerous one for the Affordable Care Act and some 10 million Americans who depend on its individual exchanges for their health coverage. At the center of the case are the act’s cost-sharing reductions-- subsidies covering deductibles and co-pays for individual buyers with income less than 250% of the federal poverty line.

The subsidies this year come to $7 billion, to be paid to insurers covering 7 million customers. The subsidies are authorized under the healthcare act, but House Republicans filed a lawsuit in 2014 asserting that because the money hadn’t been specifically appropriated, paying the money is illegal. They won the first round in U.S. District Court last year, but the judge stayed her ruling pending an appeals court decision.

Ending the cost-sharing reductions would destroy the individual insurance market in many states, where insurers have the legal right to cancel policies immediately if the CSRs aren’t paid.

That’s where matters stand. Since his inauguration, Trump has dithered over whether to pay out the subsidies and continue fighting for them in court. On occasion, he’s threatened to kill the payments as a bargaining chip to force Democrats to negotiate an Obamacare repeal.

On Tuesday, according to Politico, Trump told aides he wants to end the subsidies. And as my colleague Noam Levey reported Thursday, at a recent meeting, Trump’s new Medicaid and Medicare chief, Seema Verna, offered a bargain to stunned industry officials: The administration would fund the cost-sharing reductions if insurers supported House Republicans’ hugely unpopular bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

These alarming signals prompted the flurry of letters and pleas filed Friday by insurers and state officials. The industry letter was signed by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry lobbying group; the American Academy of Family Physicians; the American Benefits Council; the American Hospital Assn.; the American Medical Assn.; the Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn., the Federation of American Hospitals and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

They called uncertainty about cost-sharing reductions “the single most destabilizing factor causing double-digit premium increases for 2018.” Insurers must file preliminary rate requests in many states by June 21, which means they’re pondering right now whether to participate in the market next year.

The consequences of a blowup are dire, they warned. Not only will millions lose their coverage, but doctors, hospitals and employers will face higher healthcare costs. Taxpayers will pay billions in extra costs, they wrote, because higher premiums will mean higher tax subsidies for eligible buyers. And for more than 2 million Americans in the individual market who earn too much to receive subsidies, higher premiums could make coverage unaffordable.

The organizations place the responsibility squarely on the lawmakers: “At this point, only Congressional action can help consumers.” That’s because the CSR issue would be rendered moot by a simple fix of a few lines enacted by Congress, authorizing the payments.

Oncologist Jason Westin, the Democrat mostly likely to face Houston anti-health care Republican John Culberson in 2018, was interviewed by The Atlantic recently. He told them that "This is personal for me. All of my patients have pre-existing conditions and I can’t do anything in my current role to fight back for them. I’ve had a lot of patients who have problems with insurance. They’re doing well in clinical trials of life-saving drugs, but their access is now threatened. This isn’t a political football. This is going to hurt real people."

The Atlantic continues that Westin "is perplexed by the Republican physicians who have voted for the AHCA. 'The Hippocratic oath I took said: First, do no harm,' he says. 'How could someone else who took that same oath look at the same bill and support it? I don't know... [TX-7] is a highly educated area, with a major medical center. It’s ripe for someone with a background in science and medicine to speak on political issues with authority.'"

Anyone who has followed this for any length of time knows that it's the Republican Party-- as a matter of dogma-- that opposes government efforts to define health care as part of what society in general (through government) owes the citizens. Conservatives have fought a dogged battle against Social Security, against Medicare, against Medicaid and, most recently, against the Affordable Care Act. This is horrific and it speaks for itself in terms of what the GOP as a party has been doing in their war against working families:

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The Dying Fossil Fuel Industry


The classic shape of an economic bubble (source). Notice "New Paradigm" at the top, the point at which market participants decide "this can go forever." Big Oil CEOs think nothing can topple the technology that turns fossil fuel into energy — that unlike every other technology in history, their technology will never be replaced.

by Gaius Publius

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Sophocles (tr. Longfellow)

We've written before about the coming crisis in the fossil fuel industry, the one that extracts oil, gas and coal from deep in the earth so it can be burned as fuel. For example, this from December 13:
and this from March 16:
Despite the stranglehold Big Oil has on energy production — to enhance their wealth and for no other reason — the industry is doomed to die. There are just three questions left unanswered:
  • Will the industry die quickly or slowly?
  • Will it be brought down in an orderly way, by government intervention, or by its own self-destructive internal forces?
  • Will the industry fatally worsen climate change before it goes, or will humans escape the grip of Big Oil in time to prevent most of the preventable damage? 
Because, make no mistake, Big Oil has a fatal disease, two of them in fact, and either or both are going to end its life as an industry. (The companies may survive, but not as carbon extraction companies; I have an interesting fantasy, in fact, about an event that would instantly kickstart a U.S. return to global climate change leadership, but I'll save it for later.)

Disease One — Vulnerability to Climate Change Itself

The first of those diseases is the industry's vulnerability to the inevitable climate crisis. There are only two ways our current, business-as-usual climate behavior — where we pump gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year and watch ocean and atmospheric temperatures relentlessly rise — will end:

1. The Chaotic climate-response scenario — Humans don't stop pumping carbon into the air until, as a species, we're pre-industrial or worse; we live through the all the chaos that devolution implies; we lose the technology and numbers to do further damage; then we watch the result play out for centuries, if we survive that long. In other words, our response is to allow whatever happens to happen and try to live through it.

A chaotic, multi-decade transition from where we are now to that point (note: multi-decade, not multi-century) will be the stuff of dystopian nightmares. That transition will be global in scope, obvious as to its cause, and will play out monstrously in full view of anyone who lives into the 2030s. That's not too many years away. In fact, the transition has started already in the Middle East and Europe. (For more, see "Climate Change in the Age of Trump".)

Keep in mind, systemic collapses don't always happen quickly, but many do.

2. The Voluntary climate-response scenario — Humans voluntarily and proactively end the extractive carbon industry because it's an existential threat to survival. Whether humans do this in time to avoid the worst of what's coming is another question. The point is that we play an effective proactive role, not a passive, reactive one, before the chaos mentioned in the Chaotic scenario overwhelms everyone.

Either of these outcomes spells the end of the fossil fuel industry. In the Chaotic scenario, the end comes when global chaos shrinks the industrial base of the planet, causing fuel prices to rocket upward because of supply shortages, then collapse because of shrinking demand. Societies in chaos don't buy new Toyotas at anything like their old rate of purchase, and increasing the number of societies in chaos decreases the global market for all manufactured goods.

Bottom line: Climate change itself will end the industry if disease number two doesn't do it first.

Disease Two — Vulnerability to Its Own Internal Instability

The second factor that could end this industry is described in the two pieces linked at the beginning of this one. Even in the absence of a climate crisis, the industry itself is a dinosaur, a thing of the past providing the energy source of the past. Its dominant market position is extremely unstable, since its profitability depends entirely on massive capital infusions via subsidies and on a compliant political atmosphere — and complicit politicians — to keep it afloat.

What's more, the industry sits on a mountain of debt that can never be repaid, will never be repaid, and it's poised between two bad pricing decisions — keep prices low, which will accelerate the industry bankruptcies caused by those debts (which will also bankrupt some banks); or raise prices higher, making the fossil fuel industry's debt service more sustainable in the short term while driving an even faster transition to renewables in the long term.

Neither of those alternatives — death by low prices or death by higher prices — is a prescription for long life, or life at all. One alternative underfunds the industry, ultimate fatally. The other overprices its product in the midst of a decades-long recession. (For this will be a "decades-long recession," see "America Cannot Recover from This Recession Until It Writes Down Debt to What Can Be Paid".)

Bottom line: Even without a climate chaos event, Big Oil cannot survive as an industry because it's critically hooked to a last-generation energy technology and has within it fatal financing flaws.

Big Oil's Price Dilemma

This gloomy outlook for the industry is supported by many knowledgeable insider sources. Former Guardian writer Nafeez Ahmed, an expert on the industry, and on climate change dynamics generally, recently reported on its price and debt problems for Motherboard, supporting the points I made above. Note his reference to this industry analysis, one of several he could have chosen:
We Need to Accept That Oil Is a Dying Industry

The future is not good for oil, no matter which way you look at it.

A new OPEC deal designed to return the global oil industry to profitability will fail to prevent its ongoing march toward trillion dollar debt defaults, according to a new report [pdf] published by a Washington group of senior global banking executives.

But the report also warns that the rise of renewable energy and climate policy agreements will rapidly make oil obsolete, whatever OPEC does in efforts to prolong its market share.
About Big Oil's pricing problem, he writes:
[A]ccording to Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School, a price hike would not solve OPEC's deeper problems. In fact, it could speed up the transition away from oil....

As oil gets more expensive again, there is more incentive to use alternative, cheaper forms of energy—like solar photovoltaics, which can now generate more energy than oil for every unit of energy invested....

"We are not in a business as usual world," Bradshaw said. "Higher prices for oil and gas will drive investment in efficiency and demand reduction and also substitution, so they may actually promote structural demand destruction."
Please do note the second paragraph above. Photovoltaics can now generate more energy per unit of energy invested than oil. The technology that produced energy from fossil fuel is a dinosaur, inefficient and getting more so every day compared to what's emerging. It's only the political grip of the kings of that industry, the Rex Tillersons and the David Kochs, that keep it viable.

Big Oil's Debt Dilemma

About the industry's debt burden Ahmed writes:
It's not just OPEC that needs to be prepared. A report [pdf] published in October by the Group of 30 (G30), a Washington DC-based financial advisory group run by executives of the world's biggest banks, warns investors that the entire global oil industry has expanded on the basis of an unsustainable debt bubble....

The industry's long-term debts now total over $2 trillion, the report concludes, half of which "will never be repaid because the issuing firms comprehend neither how dramatically their industry has changed nor how these changes threaten to soon engulf them." [emphasis added]
An $2 trillion debt burden with $1 trillion doomed never to be repaid — will kill even the largest industry once investors become convinced they'll never get their money back.

Collapses Can Come Quickly

I'll say again, collapses often happen quickly, especially collapses of investor confidence. And when they do, they don't give much warning. The price floor simply gives way, and look out below.

The example most familiar to Americans is the stock market crash of 1929. But it's by no means alone. As an earlier classic example, here's what happened to the price of tulip bulbs, which had at one time been bid up by investors in a way that resembles the recent housing market. Once investors decided they could never get back what they paid for them — because there was no more "next fool" to sell to — the price collapsed almost immediately, each panicked seller panicking the next one.

Shown alongside that chart is the fate of the South Seas Company, a less-familiar bubble-and-bust investment of the same era. Different market, same story.

And here's the NASDAQ price chart in the lead-up to the Dot-Com crash of 2002:

Price collapses often happen this suddenly, especially in an industry as fueled by "delusions" as this one is. See the article itself for a list of those delusions.

The Question for Americans — Not When But How

The only real question for us is not when the industry collapses, but how it collapses. It can collapse later, with global society collapsing at the same time — in other words, our Chaotic scenario above. Or it can collapse in a managed way — our Voluntary scenario above. Or finally, it can collapse relatively soon, a victim of its own economics, as outlined by Ahmed in the article, prior to the fatal rise of social chaos.

A sudden collapse that happens fairly quickly would also be chaotic, but that may not be bad, all things considered. Imagine what could happen in the country and the world if oil prices fall to, say, $25 per barrel from today's price of about $50 per barrel. Smaller fossil fuel companies would disappear as suddenly as firefly light on a hot summer evening. The industry would be in economic turmoil, desperate for funding.

You can almost hear the cries for even greater government subsidies, added to the already massive global subsidies it now receives, $1.82 trillion, or 3.8 percent of global GDP. This would amount to our next big national bailout after the Wall Street bailout of 2009, as before with taxpayer money.

Would Americans foot the bill for a second massive bailout, so soon after the first? Would they do it if Big Oil is the recipient? I think the political chaos surrounding that public discussion would be deadly to Big Oil all on its own.

A chaotic event as well, yes, but also very welcome from a climate change standpoint. One alternative to a hated, massive Big Oil bailout would be to provide the same money as a subsidy to the renewables industry, giving it a needed "putting a man on the moon" boost to replace Big Oil. If that were the outcome of a Big Oil industry collapse, I'd take it tomorrow.


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Democratic Candidates Need To Talk More About Paul Ryan's And The GOP's Dystopian Vision Than About Trump's Insanity


Yesterday, writing for The Hill, Christina Marcos reported that Republican members of Congress are now afraid angry constituents will kill them or do them physical harm.
A growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety.

In the last few weeks alone, the FBI arrested a man threatening Rep. Martha McSally's (R-AZ) life, a woman pursued Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) in her car, and Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) heightened security at a town hall event in response to death threats.

Other Republicans still holding town halls say they haven't felt physically threatened by protesters, but they worry about the depth of anger from some constituents in the polarized environment and what it means for political civility... [A]n increasing number of lawmakers’ encounters with constituents, even in deep-red districts, have gotten ugly.
Poor snowflakes... maybe they should contemplate why their constituents are so angry-- starting with the ugliness behind a Republican agenda that includes gutting the social safety net, kicking their families off health care and redistributing the nation's wealth further in the direction of the 1%. Georgia Republican Party activist Erick Erickson, has been contemplating this, as he mentioned yesterday in a Washington Post column and has come to the conclusion that "Voters are increasingly dissatisfied with a Republican Party unable to govern. And congressional Republicans increasingly find themselves in an impossible position: If they support the president, many Americans will believe they are neglecting their duty to hold him accountable. But if they do their duty, Trump’s core supporters will attack them as betrayers-- and then run primary candidates against them."

Erickson is wrong if he thinks this is all about Trump though, rather than about the Republican agenda. Trump may be a clown and a fool, but Ryan and Ryan's enablers are the real heart of darkness for the Republican Party. Ericsson continued:
It is becoming ever clearer that Trump has the potential to cause more damage to the Republican Party than Obama did the Democrats. While there is no doubt the Democrats saw serious electoral setbacks under Obama, there remains a key difference here: Obama is deeply respected and liked by a majority of voters. Trump is increasingly disliked, and the Republicans who enable him are increasingly distrusted.

With a horde of vocal Trump supporters cheering on every inane statement, delusion, lie and bad act, the majority of the American people can be forgiven for thinking the GOP as a whole has lost its mind. The Republicans may soon lose a generation of voters through a combination of the sheer incompetence of Trump and a party rank and file with no ability to control its leader.
It isn't Ericsson's job to help Democrats figure out how to navigate this-- and the lack of any kind of vision inside the DCCC will insure that nothing meaningful or effective welcome from that quarter but, as Jonathan Martin pointed out over the weekend in a NY Times piece, local Democrats outside of the sway of the DCCC are looking for a way to reach voters over and above the DCCC-pushed themes of "Trump/Bad" and "Putin/Putin/Putin."

Katie Hill, the local, progressive, non-DCCC candidate running against Republican backbencher Steve Knight in the Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley district of Southern California dealt with the question in a guest post here at DWT Saturday. "Trump," she wrote, "is not the problem. He’s the symptom of a damaged political consciousness in America" and asked-- and took a stab at answering-- the key question: "what is our vision? We have a great, grassroots resistance that has emerged, but right now, all we’re doing is reacting to Trump’s every move. He is setting the agenda, maintaining the initiative, and we’re screaming on the sidelines. It’s understandable. Trump is a disaster. He’s doing things that would have been unimaginable in any other time. He is putting our country at risk, going against our every value with every unhinged twitter outburst. We, of course, must resist. But that’s not enough. We must be more than the anti-Trump party or we fail." Martin looked towards the special election coming up Thursday in Montana.
As the nation’s capital was rocked by revelation after revelation from the investigation into any connection between the Trump campaign and Russia, Democrats in Washington were focused on what they saw as nothing less than saving the republic.

More than 1,800 miles away, Rob Quist, a Democratic candidate in one of the House special elections that will gauge the mood of the country this spring, was concentrating on high insurance premiums, not high crimes.

Mr. Quist, who is running to fill the seat vacated by the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was in Wolf Point, Mont., assailing his Republican rival, Greg Gianforte, over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The appearance was part of a weeklong “Hands Off Our Health Care” tour that Democrats hope will hand them an upset on May 25.

“Russia is important to the American public, but health care hits home directly in people’s lives,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Regular Montanans are talking about the heck of a spring snowstorm we just had, this health care bill, the stuff that’s hitting them every single day. They know something is amiss in Washington, but in their everyday lives it doesn’t affect them right now.”

The contrast between what Democrats in Washington are consumed by and what their candidates are running on illustrates an emerging challenge for the party as the president becomes ever more engulfed in controversy: For all the misfortunes facing their foe in the White House, Democrats have yet to devise a coherent message on the policies that President Trump used to draw working-class voters to his campaign.

And at least for now, the voters whom Democrats need to win back are more focused on their own troubles than those of the president.

After a campaign in which they learned the hard way that an anti-Trump message was insufficient, Democrats are again grappling with how to balance responding to Mr. Trump’s apparent transgressions and devising an affirmative policy agenda of their own.

“The country wants answers on this, but they don’t want to see us be so consumed we can’t do anything else,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio facing re-election in 2018, citing a need to address infrastructure, trade agreements and health care.

Finding that equilibrium now is even more difficult because the party’s lawmakers believe they have a solemn constitutional duty to pursue what they see as the president’s misdeeds.

...“There’s this Washington narrative, and then there’s a voter narrative,” said Anita Dunn, a longtime Democratic strategist. “Significant parts of our base are following the Washington narrative very closely, but for voters who voted for Donald Trump or voters who didn’t vote at all, I think Democratic candidates are going to have to make the election meaningful to those voters’ lives.”

The more effective way to do that, in the eyes of many Democrats, is to draw more attention to the repeal of the health law than to the investigation of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“The Trump story happens without us,” said Ms. Dunn, noting that the leaks will keep coming and Democrats have little control over the F.B.I. inquiry; the investigation by the newly named special counsel, Robert Mueller; or the inquiries being led by the congressional Republican majorities.

“But the health care contrast, which is a very, very powerful one if you look at the polling, is where we can draw a sharp contrast,” she added.

Ms. Warren, while insisting that Democrats could link the Trump campaign inquiry and his policy agenda under the rubric of accountability, acknowledged that she did not hear much from voters about Russia-related matters.

“The two issues people raise the most with me are health care and student loans,” she said in an interview. “And both of them make people cry.”

Some in the party are gamely trying to break through on the policy front, as Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii demonstrated on Friday shortly after yet more developments related to Mr. Trump were reported. In an all-caps Twitter post, Mr. Schatz wrote, in part, that in the middle of the White House’s troubles, “they are still trying to take away your healthcare and ruin the internet.”

And those Democrats facing voters next year in states Mr. Trump won are particularly eager to shift attention to policy, to demonstrate to voters they are focused on their most pressing concerns.

...Quist is putting his money where his message is: After a week of health care-focused events, he began airing a pair of closing television commercials. Both were focused on how the Republican-passed health bill would imperil individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.

As we've mentioned before iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce is likely to mount a campaign for the southeast Wisconsin congressional seat Paul Ryan operates out of. This is a district Obama won in 2008 and Trump won in 2016. Hillary was the wrong candidate in this kind of blue collar district. Bryce is the exact kind of candidate Democrats need in this kind of district, He's not counting on the DCCC to figure that out. He's putting together a locally-based/values-driven grassroots campaign now. His appeal is Wisconsin-oriented, working families-oriented... not DC-oriented. We reached him yesterday and he told us the issues his neighbors are talking about are kitchen table, bread-and-butter issues, far more than Putin-Gate and Trump's personality defects. Here's what he had to say:
One word best describes what the voters of Wisconsin’s 1st CD are concerned about-- survival.

In Wisconsin, the Middle Class is disappearing faster than any other state in the country. The extreme anti-worker legislation brought on by Scott Walker is decimating us. With the Republicans having complete control over the U.S. Government, the rest of the country is now feeling what has been going on in the Badger State since 2011.

Just this evening I heard a story about someone who needed medical help that was just planning on letting their illness take them away. That’s right. In the wealthiest nation in the year 2017 someone will be dying because they feel that they can’t afford to live.

Think about that for a minute. It’s not hyperbole, it’s a factual story.

That’s not my America regardless of who is in charge. I didn’t wear an army uniform and donate years of my life defending some land where people felt that way about simply existing. I wonder how many others who wore the same uniform and put their lives on the line were discharged only to find that their lives had no worth while they were no longer dodging bullets.

Looking at coworkers, and, certainly at my own situation, I see our children having less opportunities than we did. (well, for most of us at least. 99% to be exact) That tells me that we are going in the wrong direction.

Since I can remember, I have heard about an “American Dream.” I have seen it on television, but, it seems to be disappearing in my neighborhood. I’ve heard a slogan referencing “making America great again” uttered by someone who inherited his dream.

I don’t ask for much for myself. My vision of America being great would include a genuine freedom to be able to stand on one’s own feet and be allowed to keep what is earned in order to not be dependent on any government agency. Stop stealing from the people who do the work in order to send millions to an offshore account in order to avoid paying taxes. Workers are the job creators. When we have extra money, we buy things. Buying things creates demand. Demand creates jobs.

We don’t need to go back to the 1950s in order to make America great again. We have the wealth. We have the workforce. All that we need is genuine representation who understands-- who CARES-- about us.

Once we take back our country’s soul, the rest will follow. Money is not speech. The cries of our hungry, our poor, our sick, our children who are having their futures stolen are the speech that I am hearing. Our solution is so very simple. We need people to make decisions on our behalf who not only live in our neighborhoods, but, who want to be with us. We need more people who help us up the ladder, not kick it down once they get to the top. The rooftop is a very big place. There’s enough room for all of us. The only time that we should be looking down at someone is when we help lift them up.

Let’s be Americans. Let’s help lift others up with us.

Let’s take back the power that our forefathers bequeathed upon us-- demand that those who we pay to represent us hear the same voices that we hear. They chose to make decisions on our behalf. If they don’t, let’s replace them with one of our own who genuinely cares about what happens to us.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Total And Complete Ban On Donald J. Trump (And Other White House Personnel) Re-entering Our Country


-by Noah

I, Noah, am proposing a total and complete shutdown of so-called President Trump, and his associates, re-entering the United States, until our country’s investigators can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice. We have no choice. Until we are able to determine and understand the full extent of the problems and the dangerous threats they pose, our country cannot continue to be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in their own enrichment and have no sense of reason or respect for us.

On Friday, Donald Trump, aka “Don the Con,” aka “Putin’s Pet President,” left for Saudi Arabia, home of the planners, perpetrators, and financiers of the 9/11 attacks on America, aboard Air Force One with a gang of White House associates which included former Republican Party head Reince Preibus, fellow white supremacy advocates Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, spokesjokers Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean “Bushman” Spicer, Secretary of State Rex “Exxon” Tillerson and others of their reeking ilk; a whole plane load; snakes on a plane indeed.

Kellyanne Conway was left behind. I bet she’s steaming mad. She’d probably bought a new toy soldier outfit and everything. Not to worry for Kellyanne, though, she’s probably convinced herself that she’s in charge of the White House until the return of her man. I hope she gives a nice press conference while the boss is gone. It would be very entertaining. Don’t forget to order that truckload of shredding machines Donny asked you to get, Kellyanne.

The first thing Trump did upon arriving in Saudi Arabia was give the Saudis a sweet $150 Billion arms deal which could end up being worth over $350 Billion. In return, Trump received Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian civilian honor, a tremendously tacky gold (his favorite, of course) necklace with a large medal attached to it would make the other oddly coiffed Mr. T (the good one), or any boastful rapper proud. The first lady is probably wondering where hers is. Note to Melania: it’s a Muslim country. Women don’t get jewelry. They do get beheaded though, so watch it. But, rest assured, Ivanka is probably already planning numbered, made in China, limited edition replicas packaged in a nice box.

In a perfect world, Trump will, some day soon, have to pawn the weighty necklace. Also, in a perfect world, none of those weapons, designed and built by Americans, will end up being used against Americans, either here or abroad. Hopefully, they won’t end up being used against Israel in some future seven-day war, either.

Don the Con’s official itinerary also includes a visit to the aforementioned Israel, unless, of course, they have the good sense to ban him from their country for giving away their intelligence to his Russian masters in last week’s Oval Office meeting, thus putting Israel’s agents at risk of exposure and death. To date, there is no word if any Israeli agents gathering intelligence on ISIS have died due to Trump’s idiocy. We may never know the answer to that one, but, one thing is for sure, Don the Con don’t give a damn. That’s the kind of guy he is. To him, intelligence agents aren’t hard-working patriots; they are no more than lawn jockeys.

The unofficial itinerary will be more interesting. Will there be secret meetings with more Russians? Will Anti-education secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik “Blackwater” Prince be setting them up. Is that what he was doing already at his recent Seychelles meeting with a noted criminal Russian oligarch? Does anyone know for sure where Mike Flynn is right now? Sure, Exxon Rex Tillerson will be happy in his oily element, but where will Spicy Spicer hide in a land without bushes? Will the forecast include showers?

We can assume that Bannon and Miller are busy telling anti-Jew jokes to the Saudi “dignitaries” while Priebus and the Trumpanzee cheer them on. Now, that’s diplomacy!

Our history is full of good presidents, bad presidents and mediocre presidents from a variety of parties, but Don the Con Trump is a uniquely un-American president. Trumpcare alone stands to kill more Americans than a thousand 9/11 attacks. Then there are his environmental policies. At the end of the day, Trump and his crony accomplices in Congress are terrorists that will kill numbers of Americans that their fellow demented humans in ISIS and Al Qaeda only dream about. Air Force One is a planeload of undesirables; not the kind of people that our customs officials ordinarily allow into what can still be our country.

Trump rode into the White House on a wave of unprecedented support from our corporate media and their corporate masters. He received $3 billion in free exposure as TV stations broadcast the hateful diatribes he regaled his hate-filled audiences with on a nightly basis. There was no “extreme vetting.”

I know that turning Air Force One away is just wistful fantasy thinking of a better world; same with confiscating his passport and burning it, but better countries are always started as a dream. This is a golden opportunity: such a shame to miss it. We could send Don the Con endless film clips of Americans, real Americans, cheering from the rooftops. Let him tweet all he wants.

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How's Trump's "New Deal For Black America" Working Out So Far?


Why's everybody laughing?

I'm going to guess you've seen enough human interest stories on white Trump voters by name and that you already either feel their pain or wish they're all on rocket ships headed out to colonize Pluto. But while American media has been tripping all over itself to find Trump voters to talk with, it took a Canadian newspaper, the Toronto Star to ask black voters what they think about the orange-hued calamity that has befallen the country. Daniel Dale traveled down to Petersburg, Virginia, which he describes as "a struggling post-industrial city" south of Richmond. Petersburg isn't Trump country. Hillary won the city overwhelmingly-- 12,005 (87.5%) to 1,448 (10.6%). Petersberg was one of the oldest free black settlements in America and today close to 80% of the residents are African-American. He starts his report talking about a Christian factory worker praying "constantly" for Señor Trumpanzee.
Ernarda Davis, 65, is the kind of person Trump vowed to help, living in the kind of place Trump vowed to heal, and she wants badly for her president to succeed.

You’ve heard this kind of story before. Except people who look like Davis don’t usually qualify for 2017 articles about how voters are feeling about Trump.

She is black.

And when she was asked in Petersburg, Va., last weekend how Trump is doing so far, she curved her fingers into a rigid circle.


“He needs to get hate out of his heart and open his eyes. And that might help,” she said. “Get hate out of his heart, open his eyes, and see what’s going on.”

The U.S. media narrative of the past year has been dominated by accounts of white Trump voters standing by their man no matter what they hear on the news. Their unyielding loyalty is important. But also noteworthy is Trump’s inability to earn even the fleeting honeymoon support of just about anyone who didn’t vote for him.

No group is so fiercely opposed to Trump as African Americans, a group he had promised to make a top priority.

In a campaign speech last August, Trump offered a “guarantee”: he would so impress black people that he would get 95 per cent of their votes in 2020. In a poll this month, his approval rating among black people was 12 per cent.

Such loathing is far from inevitable, even for a Republican. George W. Bush got just 9 per cent of the black vote in 2000, similar to Trump’s 8 per cent. By this point in his first term, though, Bush’s black approval rating had spiked to the high 30s.

As the chief promoter of a racist conspiracy about the citizenship of the first black president, Trump assumed the presidency in January with black communities predisposed to dislike him. But in 25 interviews in the majority-black Virginia cities of Petersburg and Richmond, black voters said they were specifically dismayed with actions he has taken since his inauguration.

Some of their complaints were about his general behaviour: his lying, his rage, his incoherence, his cronyism. But there was also broad unhappiness with his handling of particular policy issues important to many black people-- and a widespread perception that he has shown he does not care at all about a community he insisted he would “take care of.”

At campaign rally after campaign rally, Trump asked black voters a provocative question: “What the hell do you have to lose?” In Petersburg and Richmond, voters said they are already losing, Trump’s promised “New Deal for Black America” replaced by the raw deal they knew was coming.

“He’s done more to divide. I don’t think he’s for any non-Caucasian people,” said Angela Taylor, 46, a risk manager having a Mother’s Day meal at a popular black restaurant in Richmond, the state capital. “I think he’s just totally against ‘coloureds.’”

Black voters in Petersburg expressed strong displeasure with Trump’s widely criticized plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a law that cut the uninsured rate among black people in half.

“I don’t like how he’s cancelling a lot of things without, really, a plan in store. You might not like it, but if you don’t have a plan, why would you cancel the whole thing?” said accountant Corey Young, 26, outside the dollar store that was one of the busiest businesses in Petersburg on a sunny weekend afternoon. “I don’t think he’s rational with his decisions. It’s pretty obvious. He’s just a wild guy. Loose cannon, man.”

Some black voters suspected that Trump’s health-care overhaul is motivated more by a desire to erase Obama’s legacy than to improve Americans’ health. And they took issue, more broadly, with his unceasing stream of disparaging words toward Obama.

“I have a problem with him always saying he has to clean up a mess from the past president,” said Sharon Jones, 52, outside the Richmond restaurant. “Once you become a leader you inherit, you just take over whatever’s there, and not throw other people under the bus.”

Petersburg, a historic 32,000-person city once home to major tobacco plants, has been plagued by poverty, crime and a dysfunctional local government. There was intense concern there about the early activities of Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a former hard-right Alabama senator who was once denied a federal judgeship over accounts of anti-black racism.

In a rapid-fire series of announcements, Sessions has told federal prosecutors to seek the harshest possible sentences for drug crimes, pulled the federal government back from pressuring cities to reform police forces found to be violating citizens’ constitutional rights, and ordered a review of the reform agreements signed by the Obama administration.

“It’s almost like they’re blinded as it relates to various things that happen in the community involving law enforcement and minorities,” said Rodney Williams, 52, a small-business owner and former deputy sheriff who sits on the chamber of commerce in Petersburg. “That is an issue. For them to say it’s not an issue, it’s like: you are totally ignoring their pain.”

“Just like when Reagan was in office. Low-level offences. It don’t make no sense, and it’s carrying on to this day,” said Frank Lightfoot, 58, a former offender who is now a Richmond college student. “Donald Trump’s doing this country a great injustice. He’s doing a bad job. And I think eventually he’s going to get impeached.”

Trump’s 10-point “new deal” mostly consisted of his general policy platform. But it held out the promise of new infrastructure investment in black communities. Trump has not yet got around to infrastructure, choosing instead to focus on Obamacare and tax reform. In its place, he has issued a 2018 budget proposal that includes a $6-billion cut to Housing and Urban Development.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in an interview that the “skinny budget, if adopted, would have a devastating effect on black communities.”

“He’s cutting anything urban-- anything that’s helping the urban community,” said Keyonna Wright, 34, who works in nursing. “I just feel like it’s no acknowledgment as far as the urban community. Talking as an African American, I don’t feel like we’re going to progress any.”

...Trump managed to insult black voters even with his photo-ops. In February, he held an Oval Office meeting with the leaders of historically black colleges, earning cautious praise from some black leaders. This month, though, he signalled that he might end a program that helps such colleges pay for construction projects. Though he backtracked quickly, the damage was done, again.

“I think he can fool the public by showing a picture with African Americans in it. What’s the results? There’s no results,” said John Austin, 70, a retiree from the army and postal service, in Richmond. “I can take a million pictures if I don’t get any results.”

Four of the 25 people interviewed said they had no complaints about Trump. Randy Marriott, a former Toronto Argonauts wide receiver now in Petersburg, said he is still making the same money under Trump as he did under Obama.

Several others brushed off questions about Trump’s treatment of black people-- not because they think Trump is doing a good job but because they think he poses a broader danger. In the view of Steven Lipscomb, a 30-year-old DJ who works at Sam’s Club to pay the bills, Trump’s self-obsession has him failing “not only African Americans but everyone in general.”

“I’m hoping he does OK,” he said, “just for the sake of the country, for everyone’s sake. I want to hope for the best. I just don’t feel like he’s doing anything for anyone.”

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House Judiciary Committee Is Preparing To Give Trump Fair Impeachment Hearings


While Señor Trumpanzee [السيد ترامبانزي] was embarrassing America by bowing and scraping in front of a genocidal desert despot in Riyadh this weekend-- even making Roger Stone (the guy with the Nixon tattoos on his back) want to throw up-- the very precient Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor, scourges of the mainstream media, were breaking the news that the House Judiciary Committee is already starting to get ready for the impeachment hearings.

Multiple sources close to the intelligence, justice and law enforcement communities say that the House Judiciary Committee is considering Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States.

Sources further say that the Supreme Court notified Mr. Trump that the formal process of a case of impeachment against him was begun, before he departed the country on Air Force One. The notification was given, as part of the formal process of the matter, in order that Mr. Trump knew he was not able to use his powers of pardon against other suspects in Trump-Russia cases. Sources have confirmed that the Marshal of the Supreme Court spoke to Mr. Trump.

It was reported this week that Mr. Trump had texted Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn the message ‘Stay strong’. This might be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a witness, sources say.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein met with the House Judiciary Committee this week in closed session.

The authors have previously reported exclusively on Patribotics that a sealed indictment exists against Donald Trump.
Every time these two report something like this, the mainstream media sets its hair on fire and denounces them in no uncertain terms, but they've been proven right over and over again, going all the way back to November when they were spat on for daring to report that a FISA court had allowed the FBI to listen in on Trump campaign staffers. How did that turn out for the skeptics?

Last week, Ted Lieu, a member of the Judiciary Committee, has been reminding his Twitter followers that if there's going to be an impeachment, it starts in that committee. He's been doing it all week. This is one of the ones-- after the one I just linked to-- that I liked best:

The House Judiciary Committee is one of the most overtly partisan committees in Congress. The chairman is GOP fanatic Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and other Trump die-hards on the committee who would probably sacrifice their own careers to held Trump cover-up his criminal behavior are right-wing crackpots Lamar Smith (R-TX), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Steve King (R-IA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Doug Collins (R-GA) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX). The very capable Ranking Member is John Conyers (D-MI)and on his team he's got some first-class minds-- aside from Ted Lieu, also Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL).

Trump has always lusted for big ratings. His impeachment hearing and subsequent trial will be the greatest show on earth and he'll finally have bigger audiences than Obama and Bernie for real.

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