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Monthly Archives: March 2019


 

Matt Bai National Political Columnist, Yahoo News •March 28, 2019
Nothing about the Mueller report — or at least what we know of it to this point — surprised me very much. As I’ve written before, I never thought it very likely that President Trump had entered into some kind of explicit agreement with the Russian government in 2016, only because the Russians, who are pretty sophisticated about this, wouldn’t have needed any quid pro quo to understand that having Trump in the White House would be like celebrating Defender of the Fatherland Day every day of the year.
(I’m not making that up — it’s an actual Russian holiday.)
As for the obstruction-of-justice angle Robert Mueller was pursuing, I guess the lesson here is that Richard Nixon would have been fine had he been able to orchestrate payoffs to the Watergate burglars by tweeting at them, instead of being caught on tape in the Oval Office.
Apparently, it can’t be obstructing justice if you’re blabbering to the whole world about how you’re doing it. Good to know.
So now the president would like an apology from all of us in the media who prejudged him. That’s not going to happen, but it does seem to me that this might be a good moment to step back and ask some hard questions about who we’ve become, as journalists, in the Trump era.
We might even learn something critical from Mueller that has nothing to do with the details of his report.
This question of Trump’s treatment during the Russia investigation, what he sees as a “witch hunt” perpetrated by the elite media, is a complicated one for me. My first instinct, and I don’t think it’s a purely defensive one, is that if Trump hasn’t been afforded the same presumption of innocence that other presidents have enjoyed, it’s because he lies routinely in a way other presidents have not.
Not only does Trump mislead, habitually, about knowable facts, but he does so with a very specific intent — to make it his word against ours, to persuade some sizable plurality of the electorate that reality is a squishy thing.
So I don’t agree with my former New York Times colleague David Brooks, who says we all made fools of ourselves with this Russia business. I’m sure there were plenty of vain people who made fools of themselves on cable TV because that’s just what they do all day long (I don’t watch, so I couldn’t tell you), but as an industry, I don’t think we had much reason to take Trump at his word.
That said, I think we have to admit an inescapable and uncomfortable truth about the Trump presidency more generally, which is that the media that covers him is almost unrecognizable from the media that covered every previous president. He’s just right about that.

I’m not talking about the weirdness on cable channels. I’m talking about the best newspapers and websites in the country, which present almost every mundane act by this administration in dramatic tones beyond all proportion, as if the mere act of Trump trying to govern constituted an existential threat.
There are days now — a lot of them — when I open the up the homepages of the New York Times and the Washington Post in the morning, scroll down a bit, and have the odd sensation that I’m reading the organ of an opposition party, with one headline after another trumpeting the moral depravity of the administration.
Even last weekend, as news broke that Mueller wouldn’t be recommending any further charges against the president or his aides, the front pages pivoted instantly to other, ongoing investigations and breathlessly assured us the scandal would not go away. After two years of innuendo, Trump couldn’t be allowed his due for a day.
And that’s all before you get to the opinion section. From the very first days of the Trump administration, there were columnists who talked about how they wouldn’t “normalize” the president and who cast themselves among the “resistance” — terms I never liked, because we don’t get to decide what’s normal in a president (voters do), and because this isn’t Poland in 1939.

Then, of course, you have the closed loop of social media silliness, where our collective disdain for Trump ricochets from one check-marked account to the next, and the White House press room itself, where grandstanding soliloquies are more likely to go viral than the insistent questioning we saw in previous iterations.
All of it adds up to an unflattering portrait of how we approach our jobs.
And so, critical as I’ve been of Trump’s behavior and policies — and believe me, sometimes I bore myself with the predictability of it — I can’t help nodding along with one of my idols in this business, 79-year-old Ted Koppel, when he decries the drift of our best media toward a kind of reflexive advocacy.
It’s not that I think Trump has a lot of redeeming qualities as a president. It’s that I think we’ve been played.
You see, Trump doesn’t hate the media — not really. He’s spent a lifetime manipulating and cultivating reporters. He talks to them, even now, more than any of his recent predecessors, by a lot.
But Trump very skillfully drew us into a fight. He cast the “fake news” as his enemy, and we responded exactly as he knew we would — in kind. He goaded us into becoming outright advocates, into jeopardizing what little remained of our public trust.
And now we’re playing to our own audience, just like him.
This is Trump’s superpower. He has an innate talent for bringing out the worst versions of everyone else, so that everyone ends up as compromised as he is, or at least somewhere on the continuum.

Everyone, that is, with one notable exception: Bob Mueller. Virtually alone among the establishment types Trump has needled, attacked, insulted and smeared since he stepped off that gilded escalator in 2015, Mueller simply ignored all the spectacle and did his job.
He did it stonily, dispassionately, without drama or distraction, following the facts wherever they led. And in doing so, he set a pretty good template for what we should have been doing all along, and still can.
Because we’re about to embark on a treacherous new phase of this journey — the reelection campaign. If we act as Mueller did, impervious to provocation, monastically focused on truth and perspective, we might restore the credibility we badly need.
But if we allow ourselves to become resisters on the campaign trail, effectively campaigning for Trump’s opponent in the name of democracy, we may never be able to get back the role we had as trusted arbiters of the debate.
We’ll have given Trump his final victory, whether he wins the election or not.
No, we don’t owe Trump an apology for taking the investigation into foreign meddling seriously these past two years. We can certainly learn something from the man who led it, though.
We owe that to the country, and not least to ourselves.

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1. Local Springfield Mayoral candidate Edwards in an interview mentioned that Illinois (Springfield) utility prices are too high for Business never mentioned that it was too high for residents-so residents can better afford high utility prices? Another smooth talker?

2. For years Companies and stores shut down for a day of stock-taking (inventory) in the past 20 plus years someone determined (erroneously I believe) that a certain dollar amount was lost in shutting down for a day to do this important accounting task. I have yet to see any figures that would offset the lost business income compared to the loss of productivity when attempting to service customers while in the process of stocktaking usually with aid of an Inventory counting service. Keep in mind that employees need to be on hand to assist the counters and reconcile errors in counting while attempting service the customers coming in a store or calling (depending on the business). At the end of this exercise, there are still days to weeks of tabulation and rechecking on the supposedly vital activity. The question is: whose bright idea was this?

3. What will be uncovered when the scab of the Trump administration is pulled back?

4. The two (2) middle letters of Politician and politics are “LI”, pronounced “lie”

5. Discover what your representative is about before you vote for the (again).

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It seems that the seat fillers we call Congress are all cowards and as we already know liars! They have been caught unawares on multiple issues stated in TOTUS’s tweet stream and during his campaign rallies. With all the backpedaling and explaining they have had to do, they still back this backward running horse. My firm conviction is that the President’s election is in many ways less important than the members of Congress as many have been in office for longer terms than the President. Add to this their openly poor performance on many life determining issues for us all, we have the perfect storm of Government gone wild. Bitch McConnell has kept his head down while doing his “save my own ass” act instead of leading as he should “loud and out front” as he did when Barry was President. The back room activities (or lack of) in Congress is where our failures start and stop. The upcoming national and local elections are our opportunity to shift the administration towards one that reflects the will of the ALL of us, not just a privileged few. We have been in the grip of a Crisis maker who wants to appear to ride to the rescue as if leading a country is an Action movie. Our sole objective needs to be the correction of government’s function which simply put means using our tax dollars to take care of us and assist our allies in the struggle for peace and prosperity.

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Peter Wade, Rolling Stone 17 hours ago

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been taking heat this week for cutting funding from the Special Olympics in its budget proposal this year, but a department official familiar with the process who spoke with CNN said it was the White House Office of Management and Budget that insisted on revoking funding, not DeVos.
DeVos, though, was the one who had to appear before Congress and defend the decision by the government to cut the $18 million in funding for the event, only to have President Donald Trump restore it two days later.
Another staff member who spoke with CNN described the fallout as the “week from hell.”
Department staffers said that their budget proposals had included money for the Special Olympics, but the Office of Management and Budget kept rejecting it.
After the cuts received a flurry of negative news coverage, the president decided to restore funding. “The Special Olympics will be funded,” Trump told reporters, adding, “I have overridden my people, we’re funding the Special Olympics.” He also claimed he “had no idea” about the proposed cuts until the press started reporting it.

After Trump reinstated the funds, DeVos issued a statement saying she was “pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue.” She added, “This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.” That last statement contradicts what DeVos said to Congress, but two people familiar with the process confirmed DeVos’s characterization to CNN.
The Office of Management and Budget also released a statement of its own: “The President trusts his agencies and staff to implement his goals, yet when he learned of this issue, he has a big heart and made an executive decision. While the budget requests over $13 billion for special education, this administration has also always made clear that the Special Olympics is a worthy cause. His announcement yesterday does not change the overall goals of the budget and we will work with Congress to ensure the President’s priorities and agenda are advanced on behalf of the American people.”
Sounds like once again the White House was caught in crisis of its own making.
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It has become apparent to me that the combination of a neer do well Congress and a miscreant laden administration has produced poor to no legislation that benefits the people who put them in office. The 2-year long attempt to gut or repeal the Affordable Care Act  (ACA) has failed and the act is doing good for most Americans, coupled with the “Tax Reform” that benefitted the people who needed it the least to name a couple. We have a self-serving titular head of the nation who has no self-realized direction or seemingly no will or ability to learn the job but “tweets” his way on a daily basis while expounding on issues that should not concern him at all. He has manufactured crises at the border to get a campaign promise accomplished when the real issue as a global player is to address the issues in those countries where the migrants are coming from. He has voiced an opinion on issues that have been in ongoing international talks for years and he knows nothing about. His methodology in business is to get investors for his projects with hyperbole and superlatives with no substantive details (in other words winging it!). It is unfortunate that our neer-do-well seat fillers (sometimes called Congress) have neither the will or ability to control him while telling their constituents that they are working for them. Our entertainment should not be derived from the supposedly “serious” administrators and legislators we elected. This “Resident” has continued on the campaign trail even after winning the office and leaving the real work to the assorted appointees whose agendas are personal and not broadly for the American voters. We essentially have a clown car with flat tires as a Government.

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As many of the “Trumpedations” are showing and will continue to show is that this administration has one goal and that is to do the bidding of an inept wannabe tyrant and a group of miscreants who if not for this job in the administration would possibly be in jail or out of work.MA

Tax reform taking a toll as will the possible health care repeal.

Thomas Franck, 03/25/2019. CNBC 48 mins ago

President Donald Trump’s trade policies and tariffs reduced U.S. income at a rate of $1.4 billion per month by the end of last November, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Princeton University, and Columbia University.
The collaborative study found that businesses and consumers saw “substantial increases” in the price of goods throughout last year, including a “complete passthrough” of U.S.-imposed tariffs onto imported items. The economists — the New York Fed’s Mary Amiti, Princeton professor Stephen Redding, and Columbia professor David Weinstein — also said Americans suffered by a lack of import variety and disruptions to supply chains.
“Economists have long argued that there are real income losses from import protection. Using the evidence to date from the 2018 trade war, we find empirical support for these arguments,” the researchers wrote. “Losses mounted steadily over the year, as each wave of tariffs affected additional countries and products, and increased substantially after the imposition of the wave 6 tariffs on $200 billion dollars of Chinese exports.”
Amiti, Redding, and Weinstein found that while losses were accumulating at a rate of $1.4 billion per month by last November, total losses from January 2018 through November 2018 ballooned to a conservative estimate of $6.9 billion.
That number may be too low, the economists said, because their model assumes that the U.S. government uses tariff tax revenues to offset the welfare burden. If the U.S. government did not offset the cost of the tariffs to the American consumer with the new tax revenues, the full value of the tariff payments would be $12.3 billion.
The White House imposed a variety of tariffs on goods imported from economic partners of the U.S. in 2018. The tit-for-tat between the U.S. and China has come as Trump and the U.S. Trade Representative try to protect American intellectual property and curb a steep trade deficit.
Trump has had varying success with the tariff tactic, winning both a revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as alienating key allies including Canada and the European Union. The White House announced a round of tariffs on $200 billion of products imported from China at a 10 percent rate last year.
The White House also announced last year the introduction of a 20 percent tariff on the first 1.2 million imported residential washing machines from South Korea and a 50 percent tariff on machines above that number. LG Electronics told retailers less than one week after that decision that it would hike prices.
The research team also found that American consumers are also harmed during a trade war in terms of the variety of goods they can purchase. Consumers benefit from open trade and the ability to purchase more unique goods — like French wine and Colombian coffee, for example — that might be foregone if trade barriers are high.
In the three years prior to the imposition of tariffs, all categories of goods experienced increases in the number of varieties offered in the U.S., the researchers said.
“However, the imposition of the tariffs is associated with sharp drops in the number of imported varieties entering the U.S. in all sectors except the wave 1 products (washing machines and solar panels),” they wrote.
“These results suggest that some of the tariffs were prohibitive, reducing imports to zero. This can create a measurement problem that can arise if we try to assess the price impacts of tariffs on goods that are no longer imported.”
The trade war also caused “dramatic” turmoil in supply chains, as about $165 billion of trade ($136 billion of imports and $29 billion of exports) is lost or redirected through company and customer efforts to circumvent tariffs.
“We find that the U.S. tariffs were almost completely passed through into U.S. domestic prices, so that the entire incidence of the tariffs fell on domestic consumers and importers up to now, with no impact so far on the prices received by foreign exporters,” the Fed, Princeton and Columbia economists wrote. “We also find that U.S. producers responded to reduced import competition by raising their prices

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Politicization has become the rule rather than an exception. That allows for the extremist on all sides to become quasi spokespeople for some of the population. Easily available mass media that we carry on our persons daily allows for the constant monitoring of the daily diatribes and rants that serve to color our opinions in almost real time. With this being said perhaps we all need to assume a middle line on all politics and avoid the trap of right or left and take a center stance in order to view both sides for what they are-influencers! What we believe is what we believe but it is shaded by our adoption of specific political ideas. It must be remembered that each political party and its subset have one goal and that is to win elections at any cost. That cost usually affects the least of us who comprise most of the voting public. If you believe the party you associate yourself with is truly on your side then perhaps I can sell you some property at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There are no political entities who are 100% for you and perhaps never will be yet we continue to elect the same people time after time proving that doing the same activities again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Are we insane?

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It appears to me that the new young members of Congress need to learn the job before taking interviews or stating opinions. While several are classified as independents or progressives and we do need some of that but in line with the general sense of their party. As in any new job, newcomers should learn the job from the old timers who have navigated the waters of politics for a longer time. The new politics may take place in the media but the real work is still done in the backrooms of Congress.

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There are mainstream and semi-mainstream personalities who promote conspiracy theories as a job. Some monetize these efforts with donations from believers and some other contributors yet the information offered is more hyperbole than fact. Conspiracy theories are just that, theories- until proven to be real. Many of these theories are derived from undeveloped ideas, half-truths and sometimes legends. These skewed versions somehow sound plausible to many due to their personal biases and circumstances. The beliefs in these theories and other off-center beliefs have become fodder for the extreme sides of politics while coloring the facts. Now that the Mueller investigation is done(?), we have more questions than answers and more Trumpian utterings from Congress and the OFFAL office stating exoneration. This is not the end of this as the truth is still unknown and thereby will promote more Conspiracy theories to carry us into the next major election.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tells Savannah Guthrie that “Democrats and liberal media owe the president and owe the American people an apology” after special counsel Robert Mueller found no proof President Trump colluded with Russia.

You are so right Sarah and we will get better when someone better is in the Whitehouse. You can blame Democrats and the media but you and your boss are so misguided and evil as to reek of fire and brimstone. Your “religious” background should have you presenting a better face than the one we have seen for 2 years.

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