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Monthly Archives: August 2018


TOTUS has mastered the craft of stating a non existing problem with current issues only to circle back later and address the issue again under the guise of “fixing it”. These issues were not broken until TOTUS said they were and his legion of followers who apparently do not read much yet follow his tweets and Faux news religiously accept the ruse as an accomplishment. Examples of the “TRUMP PLUMP”, NAFTA, The Paris Climate Agreement, The Iran Nuclear Agreement and the high profile meetings with North Korea and Russia respectively which gave those two leaders a higher profile and netted zilch for the United States. This is how 45 conducted his business and cannot abide not being the loudest voice in the room whether he is informed or not (mostly not). This President has packed his cabinet with adoring fans rather than the “smartest” people as he stated and we all are and will continue to suffer under those choices. What this administration amounts to is a National Platform for Trump which is used to promote his ego. This does not bode well for us.

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Clay Bennett for August 24, 2018 Comic Strip


 

AUGUST 27, 2018
Kuttner on TAP
NAFTA: More Fake News from Trump. The White House threw together a rushed announcement of a “preliminary” agreement with Mexico on auto industry tariffs and perhaps wages. This was conjured up on short notice to divert attention from Trump’s rising legal woes and the appalled reaction from legislators of both parties to his refusal to keep the White House flag at half-staff to honor Senator John McCain, who passed away on August 25.
What makes the NAFTA announcement fake? First, an agreement to raise slightly the North American content (from 62.5 percent to 75 percent) required to qualify autos for tariff-free import into the U.S. has always been the low-hanging fruit of the deal. It’s all the other provisions—on the environment, on the ability of corporations to sue in special tribunals to block regulations, on farm and energy provisions, and on myriad others, that have and continue to be the sticking points.
Second, there is no revised NAFTA deal on autos without Canada, and it’s not clear that Canada will agree to such a partial deal. Third, there is no such thing as a preliminary agreement—either NAFTA is renegotiated or it isn’t.
This is complex stuff, but not all that complex. Yet most of the press coverage has taken the White House announcement at face value. Have a look at The New York Times.
Not addressed were Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, or revisions in policies that compromise Mexico’s energy independence, a priority issue for Mexico’s new progressive president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Besides diverting attention from other embarrassing Trump pratfalls, the NAFTA announcement was intended to peel off labor support. It didn’t work. Here is a statement just released from America’s leading industrial union officials:
We are aggressively engaged in pursuing an agreement that works for working people in all three countries, and we are not done yet. There is more work that needs to be done to deliver the needed, real solutions to NAFTA’s deeply ingrained flaws.
Any new deal must raise wages, ensure workers’ rights and freedoms, reduce outsourcing and put the interests of working families first in all three countries. And working people must be able to review the full and final text and have the confidence not only in the terms of the deal, but its implementation, monitoring and enforcement. We remain committed to working with the administration to get NAFTA right. Our members’ jobs depend on it. But, as always, the devil is in the details.
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President
Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers (USW) International President
Gary Jones, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) President
Robert Martinez Jr., International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers International President
Chris Shelton, Communications Workers of America President
Don’t expect a real NAFTA breakthrough any time soon, and don’t fall for Fake Trump News. Now, back to the special counsel. That’s real. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

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The current mis administration has been allowed to issue edicts that go against the majority of Americans interests while the 535 seat fillers stand idly by protecting their majority. The “tariff war” which benefits no one is being touted as a negotiating strategy(?). The fight with long time allies is touted as a show of strength but what we have is another ploy to elevate TOTUS’ ego with the idea of looking like a strong President. Looking at each of  45’s actions the method is trash the existing pacts and associations then go in and “renegotiate” under the guise of a better deal. Many of these actions are ineffective since some of the existing deals were due to expire soon no matter who was in the White House. The scam is to create a dust storm and come in with a vacuum and air it out as a new victory. The North Korea deal was a no deal in that no verifiable actions were accomplished beyond the existing and already in place actions. The Russian unknown talks were about?. The known talks were again no different from what was essentially already in place save new sanctions (with no real backing from 45). The Iran Nuclear deal has been scrapped and all of the progress made is now in the hands of our European allies and we have no say in what happens hence forth (unless we get a better negotiator). All of the bluster and sweeping reform talk is just another PR stunt for the edification of our Titular National leader(?). The lines of communication from TOTUS is limited to Twitter and is embraced primarily by his hardcore base many of whom seemingly have no real interest in broadening their range of information beyond “FAUX” news and twitter which makes for a perfect constituent for DJT. It is unfortunate that the some of the “conservative” groups have an out sized effect on modern politics as these appear to be people with a similar mindset as the 1600’s “witch hunters”.

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This was on the books when MR. Lampert (Lamprey?) used his money making skills to combine the two companies and then under the guise of company improvements made changes counter to what would be normally done to create a better sales experience for customers, such as updating stores and fixtures, using the abilities of the existing workers. There was no true use of upper management (the best ones) to determine what is the correct course to follow. Then he (lamprey) lent millions to the company knowing they could not pay it back since there was no merchandise in any reasonable amounts to garner sales which is revenue to pay the loan back. Then there is the tactic of closing stores when their leases were up with the explanation that they were not profitable, those moves did not generate any revenue but saved the cost of leases and payrolls. The merchandise was shipped to some central location for liquidation and to existing stores rather than take care of seasonal merchandise needs. Essentially Mr. Lampert wants out and running the 2 companies into the ground was the way to do it.MA

By Tomi Kilgore

Published: Aug 27, 2018 1:02 p.m. ET

Shares fell toward a record low after tumbling nearly 40% so far this month

Getty Images
By

TomiKilgore

Reporter and editor

Sears Holdings Corp. has provided a list of 46 unprofitable stores, across 28 states, that it will close in November.

The number includes 33 Sears stores and 13 Kmart stores. The struggling department store chain said liquidation sales at the closing stores will begin as early as Aug. 30.

Shares SHLD, +1.82%  bounced 0.9% in morning trade Friday, after slumping 5.9% on Thursday to close at a record low of $1.11. They have tumbled 39% this month and 89% this year. In comparison, the SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund XRT, -0.56%  has run up 15% year to date and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.76%  has gained 7.4%.

Earlier this summer, Sears provided an updated list of 78 Sears and Kmart stores that it said would close in September.

The company had originally said in May that it had identified 100 non-profitable stores, and that it would begin closing 72 of those stores in the coming months. At that time, Sears initially provided a list of 63 stores it would begin closing in early September, then updated that list in early June to 68 stores, then added 10 more stores to the list in late June that it said would begin closing in late September.

“We continue to evaluate our network of stores, which is a critical component to our integrated retail transformation, and will make further adjustments as needed,” the company said in a statement. “We thank associates affected by these store closures for their many contributions to our company. Eligible associates will receive severance and will have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Kmart or Sears stores.”

 

Here is the latest list of store closures:

Store Address City State
Sears Flagstaff Mall, 4800 N. US HWY 89 Flagstaff Arizona
Kmart 3625 East 18th St. Antioch California
Kmart 1075 Shaw Ave. Clovis California
Kmart 6310 W 3rd. St. Los Angeles California
Sears Capitola Mall, 4015 Capitola Rd. Santa Cruz California
Kmart 935 Sweetwater Rd. Spring Valley California
Sears 2424 Highway 6 and 50 Grand Junction Colorado
Kmart 589 Bridgeport Ave. Milford Connecticut
Kmart 301 College Sq. Newark Delaware
Sears 1625 NW 107th Ave. Doral/Miami Florida
Sears Coastland Ctr., 2000 9th St. N Naples Florida
Sears 2266 University Square Mall Tampa-University Florida
Sears 2860 Cumberland Mall Atlanta Georgia
Sears 100 Mall Blvd. Ste 300 Brunswick Georgia
Sears Oglethorpe Mall, 7810 Abercorn St. Savannah Georgia
Sears 1631 E Empire St. Bloomington Illinois
Kmart 3231 Chicago Rd. Steger Illinois
Sears 4201 Coldwater Rd. Fort Wayne Indiana
Sears 3000 Mall Rd. Florence Kentucky
Sears 1914 Hammond Square Dr. Hammond Louisiana
Sears 50 Holyoke St. Holyoke Massachusetts
Sears Silver City Galleria Taunton Massachusetts
Sears 1250 Jackson Xing 1-94 Jackson Michigan
Kmart 2308 Highway 45 N Columbus Mississippi
Kmart 11 South Kings HWY 61 Cape Girardeau Missouri
Sears 1500 South Willow St. Manchester New Hampshire
Sears 77 Rockingham Park Blvd. Salem New Hampshire
Sears 4409 Black Horse Pike Mays Landing New Jersey
Sears 1400 Union Tpke. New Hyde Park New York
Sears 578 Aviation Rd. Queensbury/Glen Falls New York
Kmart 605 Old Country Rd. Riverhead New York
Sears 200 Eastview Mall Victor New York
Sears 4601 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh-Crabtree North Carolina
Sears 9505 Colerain Ave. Cincinnati-Northgate Ohio
Sears 2700 Miamisburg Centerville Rd. Dayton Ohio
Kmart 440 NW Burnside Rd. Gresham Oregon
Sears 11800 SE 82nd Ave. Happy Valley/Portland Oregon
Sears Post Oak Mall College Station-Bryan Texas
Sears 400 Memorial City Way Houston-Memorial Texas
Sears 7453 S Plaza Center Dr. West Jordan Utah
Sears 12000 Fair Oaks Mall Fairfax Virginia
Sears 8800 NE Vancouver Mall Dr. Vancouver Washington
Kmart 101 Great Teays Blvd. Scott Depot West Virginia
Sears 4720 Golf Rd. Eau Claire Wisconsin
Sears Valley View Mall, 4200 US HWY 16 La Crosse Wisconsin
Kmart 2150 South Douglas HWY Gillette Wyoming
Sears Holdings

In Sears’ most recent public disclosure of Sears and Kmart stores counts, which was detailed in its quarterly 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, there were 894 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. as of May 5, 2018.

Don’t miss: Yes, Sears is likely to collapse, but its biggest stakeholder will be just fine.
See also: Sears adds more merchandise to online marketplace, and Sears CEO’s hedge fund offers to buy Kenmore brand for $400 million.


Do we really need another liar in Government? MA
Associated Press 13 hours ago

PHOENIX (AP) — Hours before Sen. John McCain died on Saturday, a Republican seeking Arizona’s other U.S. Senate seat suggested that his family’s earlier announcement that he was ending cancer treatment had been timed to hurt her campaign.
Former State Sen. Kelli Ward, who lost a primary to McCain running from the right in 2016 and is now trying to win the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat, made the suggestion in response to a Facebook post by a campaign aide.
According to screenshots of the conversation posted on Twitter by Arizona political reporters, the aide, Jonathan Williams, wondered if it was “just a coincidence” that the announcement of McCain ending medical treatment came the day Ward was launching a statewide bus tour, her big push before Tuesday’s primary.
Ward replied: “I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that is negative to me.”
After her response was Tweeted out, Ward deleted the post and replaced it with one claiming the media was concocting a story.
“I’ve said again and again to pray for Senator McCain & his family,” Ward wrote. “These decisions are terrible to have to make. I feel compassion for him and his family as they go through this.”
Ward has acknowledged she is the underdog in Tuesday’s primary. She faces Rep. Martha McSally and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
A message left with Ward’s campaign office on Sunday morning was not immediately returned.

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Stuart Carlson for August 24, 2018 Comic Strip

Tom Toles for August 27, 2018 Comic Strip

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Nick Anderson for August 25, 2018 Comic Strip

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AUGUST 22, 2018
Kuttner on TAP
Trump’s Fall: The End Game. It’s now clear that President Donald Trump cannot survive. Personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s blunt admission before a federal judge that candidate Trump directed him to commit an illegal act—paying and then covering up hush money—is just the beginning.
Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who both face long prison terms, are likely to cooperate with the special counsel and provide further damaging information in exchange for recommendations of leniency that will come at their sentencing.
The revelations of Cohen and Manafort, both part of Trump’s inner circle, are plenty damaging. But they are just a warm-up for special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on even more explosive matters: likely fraudulent behavior in Trump’s business dealings, which could include tax evasion; his collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election; and his efforts to obstruct justice in undermining the special counsel.
Much of this has been hidden in plain view. Mueller will simply provide many more of the gory details.
For now, yesterday’s events have blown away Trump’s claim that Mueller’s investigation was a witch-hunt. Even Trump’s usual defenders have been half-hearted. By trying to retreat to what he takes to be the high ground—neither of these convictions demonstrated collusion with the Russians—Trump only sets himself up for a greater fall when the next round of detail comes.
In a harmonic convergence, the next shoe is likely to drop just in time for the November elections, in which Democrats are already favored to win back the House, and the Senate looks increasingly possible. What ensues in the coming days and weeks will follow a predictable scenario.
The alliance of convenience between Trump and House and Senate Republicans will begin to crack, as Republican leaders grasp the inevitability of Trump’s downfall. Some Republicans will conclude that Trump has to go, and that will further divide the party. Trump will become even more reckless and self-destructive.
There is a famous exchange in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises:
“How did you go bankrupt,” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Political bankruptcies are like that. In the same way that bankrupt businesses keep juggling debt until one day nobody will advance them any more money, busted politicians find that the desertion of their allies can come with stunning abruptness.
Trump’s final fall could occur in a matter of weeks, or it could slop over into 2019.
I have been writing and saying for several months that Trump will not be the Republican nominee in 2020 because his presidency will end long before his scheduled term. Many of my colleagues, friends, and readers have skeptically indulged my naïve optimism. But that fate is now inevitable.
The end game could unfold in one of two ways. Democrats could take back the House, begin an impeachment, pile up overwhelming evidence of impeachable offenses, and put intolerable political pressure on Republican senators to vote to convict.
More likely, it seems to me, is that when the next round of Mueller’s findings of collusion with the Russians, longstanding business fraud, and obstruction of justice comes out, senior Republicans will decide that enough is enough and that it’s time to cut their losses.
Leaders will broker a deal in which Trump resigns in exchange for himself and members of his family being spared criminal conviction. Trump will take the deal. In the same way that the Nixon end game came abruptly when Republicans concluded that they could no longer defend him, Trump’s will come abruptly, too.
Looking back on the Republican affair with Trump, one appreciates the old saw that there is no honor among thieves. Trump ran for president as an anti-party figure, trashing Republicans one and all. Their expedient tolerance for his antics extended only as long as he was useful to them. Trump is no longer useful; he has become a liability, and there is little personal loyalty to him.
This was the week when history finally began to turn. Future historians will wonder why it took so long. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

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Pre 1964 tactics remerge again under the TOTUS administration and again Congress does nothing.MA

08/22/2018 10:43 am ET Updated 17 hours ago
Officials in majority-black Randolph County lack the data to back a proposal to shutter most voting spots.

By Sam Levine

Officials in a majority-black Georgia county accused of trying to close almost all polling places to make it harder for black people to vote claimed last week that the locations couldn’t be used because of accessibility problems for people with disabilities.
But Randolph County doesn’t have a single recent report, analysis or document supporting the idea that it needs to close seven of its nine polling places due to accessibility issues, a lawyer for the county told HuffPost on Tuesday in response to a public records request.
HuffPost requested records from the county dating back to March 1, 2018. The county hired Michael Malone, an outside elections consultant now pushing for the closures, on April 2. But according to the county, it has no written record of evidence to back his recommendations.
“There is no document, report or analysis studying the handicap accessibility of polling places in Randolph County and the cost of fixing them within the time frame specified in your open records request,” Hayden Hooks, an attorney with the firm Perry & Walters, which represents Randolph County, wrote in an email. The county has no record of such a document in the past year, Hooks added.
The county’s admission “proves that their alleged concern about [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance is a sham,” said Sean Young, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which has threatened to sue the county if it closes the polling locations. “This is not about ADA compliance, because if it were, they would have produced a study or analysis of what they believe are ADA violations and what can be done about them.”
The southwest Georgia county has a population of just over 7,000, more than 61 percent of whom are African-American. It tends to lean Democratic. Barack Obama carried the county in 2008 and 2012, as did Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Just over 30 percent of Randolph County residents live below the poverty line. The ACLU has said the county’s black voters are less likely to own a car and, without public transportation, will have face difficulty traveling longer distances to reach the polls.

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