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[personal profile] fridi
It seems the Trump plan for US economic growth relies almost exclusively on corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy. A "let's put all our growth eggs in one basket and hope for the best" sort of approach. During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to create 25 million new jobs and generate an economy that trots along at a 4-6% annual growth rate. Apparently, neither Trump promise is going to happen any time soon*:

Forecast of weak economic growth raises big questions about Trump’s populist agenda

Read more... )

Or it could be more about the fact that the third wave of recovery following the Carter bubble is taking a little long to come, hmm? Picking up international growth numbers might save us, but the rates were not corrected and there is a lot of money sloshing around. To prevent a recession might be rather difficult given the parameters and optimism that seems to be rather misplaced.

* That, and the fact that Trump's plan assumed that the RINO congress led by McConnell and Paul Ryan would be able to pass legislation, which it so far has been unable or unwilling to do.
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[personal profile] luzribeiro
This comes very timely for the monthly topic.

"President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it."

Well, there's no explaining this one away. Will Trump Jr take the fall for the entire Russian Scandal? Only time will tell.

But Putin and Trump pinkie-swore there was no collusion. So it must be all right.

If true, with Don Jr.'s "confession" that yeah, he thought he was going to get dirt on Hillary, and that they discussed sanctions Obama imposed on Russian individuals in 2014 that resulted in Russia rescinding an agreement with the US to adopt Russian children, then Don Jr., Manafort, and Kushner engaged in a "quid pro quo" discussion with a foreign government, which is the very definition of collusion. I guess someone must have mentioned that to Junior, since he immediately lawyered up.

I have a feeling that Trump will be responsible for a return to record high employment numbers, just as he claimed he would deliver during his campaign. Unfortunately, that will be due exclusively to all the staff and lawyers Robert Mueller will have to hire in order to investigate the Trump administration. ;-)
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[personal profile] tcpip

If it isn't a brief jaunt to New Zealand your intrepid venturer found himself with a few week's worth of conferences in Europe. As a result, gentle readers, you must excuse the delay in the recordings of The Shambling Mound, lord mayor of the most important village on Earth. It is not as if the pace of shambling has decreased at all - indeed it is fair to say that it has become every more shambolic, as the lurching and heaving becomes even more destructive and chaotic. A normal rate of transmissions will return in due course. Meanwhile, an attempt will be made to cover recent events.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Changes in Cuba policy could adversely impact Trump's hotel competitors

Details )

...So is Trump using his office to target competitors, or are the competitors just impacted by a decision that was not intended to target competitors, but increase sanctions in general?

The first would be criminal, but the second would only be political, if Trump's order was against Cuba alone and not intended to harm competition to his own business. I'm sure there will be plenty of answers for both reasons, depending on which side of the aisle you are on.

I'd say it smells more like a political move, but of course he'd have no hesitation to hurt his competitors in the meantime, either. I mean, Trump needs a win. He's been doing poorly lately and needs something. And what's better for him than to undo some stuff Obama did? Hoorah! Making America great again! His base eats that up. So this is something he can easily accomplish, move some headlines (and tweets) around, get people talking of something other than Russia. And hey, the fact that it hurts his competitors is a bonus.

So objectively I'd say he likely wasn't motivated to do this because it hurt his competitors, but he likely also just thinks of it as two birds one stone sort of thing. What say you?
[identity profile]
The Twittersphere is buzzing again! Trump has spoken! And what a word he has invented!

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Whatever their investment in Trump and monkey-wrenching the 2016 election was, the Russians are certainly getting more than their money's worth.

Now Germany (I repeat: GERMANY) is saying Europe can no longer rely on Trump's America.

If you thought GWB's tenure was the worst that could happen to America's relations with her allies, just take a look at this. 4 months. 4 months and relations with America's allies are as bad as they haven't been since WWII. Worse than ever in most cases. Meanwhile America's adversaries are pleased as punch.

Eventually the EU is likely to band together to oppose the US. And everyone will suffer because of it.

There are no good outcomes for either side at this point. All Americans will suffer because of those who were conned/indulged their hatreds and voted for Trump. Europe will suffer because it'll be weakened. And if Putin believes Russia won't suffer, he's a fool.

4 months.

Ps. Who elected the US "leader of the free world" anyway?
[identity profile]
Awww, that burn'd!

But that reminds me of all those weird hand-shakes Trump has made with world leaders over the last few months.

[Error: unknown template video]

Read more... )
[identity profile]
During the campaign trail, Trump told Hillary during a debate between the two that if he became president, he'd appoint a special investigation into her wrongdoings.

Now he's got just that.

Robert Mueller is a nightmare for Trump, because he'll have much more powers to investigate into the president's ties to Russia than Comey would ever have, what with the FBI director being a political position that could be influenced.

Of course it's too early to talk of impeachment, if anything comes out that is. The Democrats should be very careful about playing that card, because it could seriously backfire on them if they overplay it (just think the Clinton impeachment case and the way it burned the GOP).

Whatever happens, I think the key to Trump's future is in his own party people. If they consider him too toxic and too big a liability, they'd get rid of him themselves, and place the much more conventional (and controllable) Pence.
[identity profile]

Rather than improve a broken heathcare system, correct a dysfunctional immigration policy, and counter terrorism, the left and, maybe, some Republicans spend their time in trying to destroy Pres. Trump. They claimed Pres. Trump abused his power with the immigration ban. Yet, they are using to the political process to destroy a man without accusing him of a crime or proof he committed anything illegal. Those claims are distractions from their misconduct.
[identity profile]
Has the Shambling Mound finally stopped? No, of course not. It's just for the second time in a row other events have had priority and let's face it, the stumbling of Lord Dampnut, mayor of the global village, after a while, do give a sense of more of the same. It's almost that sheer incompetence, random lurching, and a complete disdain for facts has all become the new normal. It was appropriate then, that the weekend started with Earth Day and a March for Science in 600 cities around the world. Because in 2017, this is apparently necessary.

The first item of the week was revelations that the Senate Intelligence Committee into Russian influence in the 2016 election had failed to make much progress, with much blame being laid on chairperson, Richard Barr, who apparently was refusing to sign any letters for even a single subpoena. Meanwhile it was revealed that former National Security adviser Michael Flynn had received payments from Russia Today and over a half a million dollars on payments from Turkey for lobbying purposes - quite clearly I'm in the wrong business - and all without authorisation or proper disclosure.

Moving to economic matters House Republicans tried to avoid a government shutdown by removing $1 billion USD proposed to build Wall of Evil. Lord Dampnut quickly assured on Twitter (where else?) that the Wall would be built, and followed up with a tariff on Canada (Congress Republicans are desperately trying to get Lord Dampnut not to abandon NAFTA). The following day was a frankly insane tax policy which included reducing the number of tax brackets, reducing the corporate tax rate by more than half, and getting read of inheritance tax (gee, who will that benefit?). Economists were less than impressed, but what would they know? They know what the weakest growth in three years means.

The weekend of the fifteenth week started with Lord Dampnut skipping the White House correspondents dinner (the first time in 36 years), and going to a rally in Pennsylvania to celebrate 100 days as Lord Mayor of the global village - and claimed a record attendance; apparently facts don't matter. And they didn't matter the following day with the gaffe that Andrew Jackson was really angry about the US civil war. I'd be angry too if I had been declared dead and buried for sixteen years before the war even started.

Another attempt to end the Affordable Health Care Act was a feature of Week 15, but whilst actual humans had another story to tell, it managed to get through the House with a wafer-thin majority (217-213), replaced with the American Health Care Act. Comparisons between the two systems are inevitable; you can decide for yourself. The medical professions were not impressed. The Senate plans it's own health care bill. But at least the soul will receive healthcare; an executive order is signed allowing for religion to be more involved in politics.
[identity profile]
Despite all the bold promises about breaking up with the old ways that Trump made during the election campaign, by his recent actions at the international scene one would conclude that in fact, Kissinger's doctrine is pretty much alive and well...

Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It

"Imposing or propping up dictators subservient to the U.S. has long been, and continues to be, the preferred means for U.S. policymakers to ensure that those inconvenient popular beliefs are suppressed. None of this is remotely controversial or even debatable. U.S. support for tyrants has largely been conducted out in the open, and has been expressly defended and affirmed for decades by the most mainstream and influential U.S. policy experts and media outlets."

Of course, there are number of downsides to all this. For one, the US loses the moral high ground. This whole empire-building tradition means that when the God-chosen nation does take a stand for "humanitarian" reasons, it's often to bomb other countries and/or justify regime change. Have to make it look good for the folks back home, right?

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Straight to the monthly topic. See, some have argued that Trump's promises of "America first", and about withdrawing America from most conflicts and letting other countries sort their stuff out on their own, which he so generously gave during his election campaign, were spelling danger for world peace. Some even made the comparison to pre-WW2 time when America had its head buried in the sand, believing that two oceans on both sides were protecting her, this way not allowing the world to recover from the Great Depression, and allowing enough leeway to power-hungry wannabe-empires like Japan and Germany to start aggressive expansion.

But worry not, pro-intervention folks! For the time of Trump's promised withdrawal from the world scene only lasted a couple of months - until he clashed with reality, that is.

Now he has made a full 180 from a supposed foreign-policy realist to just another interventionist neocon.

Trump`s biggest flip-flop yet: foreign policy )
[identity profile]
One of Reagan's famous quotes is that even Einsten couldn't fill his tax declaration on his own and was driven crazy by the complicated tax system - which probably explains his "mad scientist" haircut. Now the guy who often likes to present himself as Reagan v.2.0, Trump has taken it upon himself to revamp the horribly complex federal tax code, which, along with all relevant addenda, rules and regulations, may or may not exceed 70,000 pages in total. What a joy it must be to see the contrast with Trump's reform plan which he presented in April - it's just one page long, people! Come on!

That page includes a lot of ambition. And fundamental changes too, involving both main domains, the taxing of physical persons and the business. The former will be handed just three levels of income tax, as opposed to the current seven. And also a doubling of the tax-exempt minimum, and the elimination of some types of tax and tax cuts that complicate and destroy the declaration process. As for the business, the biggest tax cut is that the corporate tax should shrink from 35% to 15%, and the taxation principle will be such that US corporations would stop holding trillions of dollars in countries with a more favourable tax regime (various estimates tend to assess the total amount between 1.2 and 2.6 trillion dollars).

Read more... )
[identity profile]
So, after essentially handling a lost election to Trump on a silver plate, FBI director Comey suddenly becomes too much of an inconvenience for the guy he single-handedly made president, as he reveals he's looking into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign - and gets duly fired for it. How beautiful! Long live democracy, and the separation of powers!

Oh, and Trump surrogates like Kellyanne Conway get grilled by the media about this, and most of them fail to make a sound case on Dear Leader's behalf - but so what? The deed is done already. And no one seems to be able to do anything about it. The president has removed an FBI director for investigating him. Cool.

Not that it took a lot of effort, what with Republicans in charge, but the Russians have succeeded with Phase 2 of their effort to invade the US... they have succeeded at totally disrupting the operations of their primary enemy's government (Phase 1 having been to install a buffoonish puppet into the executive office).

It's almost scary how easily these things happen.
[identity profile]
Even observers of The Shambling Mound are entitled to a break, and that's exactly what I did last week thank you very much. A quick visit to one of the more isolated spots of New Zealand was thoroughly enjoyable although it did seem strangely appropriate to catch the tail-end of a hurricane and undergo a short blackout.

After the previous week's bombshell on Syria the far-right of Lord Dampnut's fan club suddenly deserted him, whereas others adopted a more conspiratorial tone (when the same argument is offered on Breitbart and Global Research you can tell it's time to get the popcorn out), whereas Spicer came out with the amazing Holocaust gaffe concerning Hitler, sensitively conducted on the Passover. With a new found interest in foreign policy, and with a well-known level of diplomatic nous, North Korea became the next target for sabre-ratting.

If one beats the drums of war overseas one may as well do it at home as well, as Jeff Sessions, suggested it would be a good time to re-introduce the 'War of Drugs', something which should delight the new Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, who may very well get the opportunity to test all sorts of variations to constitutional amendments.

The following week was back to military endeavours, as Trump follows a time-honoured strategy of using war as a means to acquire popularity with the "mother of all bombs" in Afghanistan. "What happened to restraint". the foreign policy analysts painfully asked. Political pundits of course know that whilst peace may be good, chest-thumping can be popular. Sometimes however the hyperbole can get quite ludicrous - such as a slight difference in shipping routes.

As the thirteenth week came to a close, and one takes stock of all the castle intrigues, Napoleonic maneuvers, and extremely high risk behaviour, has anyone noticed what legislation has actually been passed? I thought so.
[identity profile]
Donald Trump claims protests demanding he publish tax returns were paid for

Another day, another conspiracy theory spouted by the Douche-In-Chief. He now believes those tax marchers were paid. This belief demonstrates how he just makes stuff up. Also that those marching are his enemies. He believes there is no room for disagreement. Anyone who doesn't agree with him and lick his ass, is an enemy.

That's how Sniffles rolls; Birtherism, 3-5 million illegal voters, Obama wiretap of Trump Tower, paid demonstrators, etc. The Orange Clown floats his steaming piles in the form of a question and leaves it to his sycophants to take it from there.

But fine. Let's play his game. I say someone paid for the alt-right, white supremacist thugs that invaded Berkeley to oppose the tax marchers, so Tangerine Tweetie was partially accurate, just not in the way he intended. Your move, asshole.

That said, there is no reason I can think of why New York state should not release Comissar Drumpovich's state returns for the last 20 years.
[identity profile]

There comes a time, in the power game of politics, that the leader must throw his most loyal allies and advisers under a bus, and this especially applies to the rotting lump of semi-sapient vegetable matter known as The Shambling Mound. It is also opportune as such palace intrigues are occurring to engage in a foreign distraction so massive that any domestic issues are forgotten by most. In terms of pure range of the typical chaotic activities the eleventh week of shambling was actually quite narrow - but what big stories they were.

It was almost prescient of this 'blog to even be so bold with the suggest last week that Devin Nunes, hair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was flailing about in a rather poor fashion. However, then becomes a subject of an ethics investigation himself, and finds that he has to 'temporarily' step down. Given the seriousness of the allegations it is right and proper that he step down - indeed one can be fairly certain that he will be answering some uncomfortable questions in the near future. But for pure positional politics, a running feud between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon reach an explosive point when Lord Dampnut sided with nepotism (of course), removing Bannon from the National Security Council.

Then Syria happened. For those who have been living under a rock for the past six years, this is a dirty multi-faceted civil war, where the civilian population have suffered proportionally more than any other people this century. On April 4 the town of Khan Shaykhun in the rebel-held Idlib Province was attacked with Sarin poison gas which correlated with regime airstrikes. Three days later - just after it became clear the Security Council could not agree on a resolution - U.S. ships launched a missile on the Syrian government′s Shayrat Air Base in Homs, the first US direct attack on the regime (thousands of other attacks have been carried out against mainly Daesh positions).

Whilst the Russians were informed in advance of the attack, which did modest damage, it was conducted without authorisation from the US Congress or the United Nations Security Council, making it legally dubious (at best) under U.S. or international law. Many have pointed out that Lord Dampnut's actions are extremely different to what he was claiming a few years ago. Whilst the strikes do have the support of the majority which will probably translate to an improvement in poll numbers, we cannot avoid an uncomfortable conclusion; this is the only popular decision he's made. What a thing to be remembered for.
[identity profile]
The bar has been lowered quite a bit, hasn't it? Since even liberal pundits like Fareed Zakaria are now saying Trump has suddenly started to "look presidential" after his resolute actions against Assad in Syria.

Here's the deal. After years of holding a stance against intervention in Syria and repeatedly criticizing Obama for making a case for getting involved into "another quagmire", Trump now suddenly watches some heart-breaking footage of dead children on FOX, and decides enough is enough, and Assad should be punished. He doesn't need much evidence that it was Assad who gassed those people (although he's the most likely culprit, granted), or that indeed it was that base where the gas attack had been launched from. He just needs his fave pundits on FOX to tell him what a terrible person Assad is, and how he should be removed.

How is any of this presidential? )
[identity profile]
Another gloriously and confusing week of incoherent shambling, as Lord Dampnut faced his second major loss in his proposed programme, the return of old King Coal, utterly bizarre developments in the wiretapping claims, and a dash of nepotism. Is it any wonder that Lord Dampnut now has the worst opinion poll ratings this early in the presidency since .. well, since they started?

As hinted in last week's episode, Lord Dampnut - famous for his negotiating skills and with a clear party majority - headed towards disaster on his repeal of Affordable Health Care, and at the very last available moment decided that would not be taken to Congress to be voted on. Lord Dampnut took the opportunity to blame not only his party for the failure, but also Democrats who, in an act of what must have been a complete surprise to him, did not vote to dismantle the Affordable Health Care Act. Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher made the surprising claim that if the bill went down Lord Dampnut would be emasculated. Apparently the queue to carry out the operation is quite long.

As any big corporation knows, it's good to have friends in high places, and there's none higher than Lord Dampnut. The week witnessed an Executive Order which declared "an end to the war on coal". Lord Dampnut, of course, is firm in his belief that global warming is a hoax, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (which must be deleted). The atmosphere, meanwhile, doesn't care what he thinks.

The wiretapping claims went seriously strange this week with Devin Nunes, chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, having to backtrack on claims from the previous week when he announced at a press conference (without consulting the very committee he chairs) that some members of the transitional administration had been under surveillance by the NSA. It then became clear that was was information received from the White House, and not by intelligence sources, but by White House staff, which really puts his supposed independence in the two inquiries under question.

Speaking of White House staff, guess who has a job? Daddy's little girl, that's who. She'll join her husband Jared Kushner, who is already a senior adviser to Lord Dampnut. Although Jared apparently has been a little naughty in disclosing how often he's met with the Ruskies. Still, with Devin Nunes in charge of that committee, what could possibly go wrong?
[identity profile]
The White House released financial disclosures for many of its senior officials Friday — a group of some of the wealthiest people ever to join a presidential administration.

How Much People in the Trump Administration Are Worth

Given Ivanka Trump's recent decision to become an official White House employee, her financial disclosures and ethics agreements are expected to be filed later. She'll also maintain her stake in the Trump hotel in Washington even as she takes on official government duties.

At least she's the sane one in that lot. She's expected to keep her daddy in line for the most part. If anyone is able to control his insanity, it must be her.

That said, I'm not sure how and why any of the smallfolk who are said to be forming Trump's base, are still buying the myth that he's going to stand up for them. A guy who's been raised with a silver spoon in his mouth surrounds himself in his administration with fellow billionaires - and these guys are somehow supposed to stand up for the middle class? Please.

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It's said that "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Sadly most people think being outraged is the point, and the paying attention part is optional.

July 2017

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