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Donald Trump

trump20Couldn’t have said it better than the following, myself, and at the risk of appearing conceited I note that I don’t type that very often. The reason I’m passing it along here is that it’s been absolutely true, for a long time, for every major news outlet – TV, radio, print, and online – in Minnesota. And I’m sorry to have to note that that includes MPR and TPT.
 

Hundreds of newspapers across the country ran editorials Thursday pushing back on Donald Trump’s slur against the media as the “enemy of the people.” These are the very same newspapers that offer a litany of mealymouthed excuses for not labeling Trump’s lies as lies and helped put him in the White House by focusing on imaginary Hillary Clinton scandals while ignoring real Trump scandals, but now that he’s openly campaigning against the free press, they are bringing the weight of their editorial pages, if not their news coverage, to push back…
 
The media continue to bend over backward to both-sides every issue that can possibly be both-sidesed and to avoid that L word that comes up so much when Trump opens his mouth.
(Daily Kos)

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trump15I’m quoting and linking the original report. Per a search I did this morning, it is being widely disseminated, even throughout corporate media, which is good.
 

(Bruce) Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.
 
More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.
 
Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”
(ProPublica)

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soybeansI have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. Someone must have been able to convince Trump of the political disaster he’d be facing if farmers aren’t covered somehow.
 

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday a $12 billion package of emergency aid for farmers caught in the midst of President Trump’s escalating trade war, the latest sign that growing tensions between the United States and other countries will not end soon.
 
Trump ordered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prepare a range of options several months ago, amid complaints from farmers that their products faced retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries. The new package of government assistance funds was announced Tuesday and will go into effect in September.
 
The aid package will target soybean farmers, dairy farmers, and pork producers, among others. White House officials hope it will temporarily quiet some of the unease from farm groups, but the new plan could revive debates about taxpayer-funded bailouts and the degree to which Trump’s trade strategy is leading to unforeseen costs.
(Washington Post)

Here’s some additional information. We’ll also see, to what extent the “emergency aid” is carefully dished out with political advantage primarily in mind.
 

While this may offer farmers some short-term good news, it’s bad news for everyone in the long run. It means that Trump, rather than retreating from his misbegotten trade war, plans to double down on a position in which he has squandered U.S. leverage against more adversarial trade partners like China by simultaneously alienating U.S. allies.
 
Some farm advocates appear to be clear on the long-term implications of Trump’s short-sightedness. Brian Kuehl, executive director of trade group Farmers for Free Trade, called the White House initiative “a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage.”
 
“The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war,” Kuehl said.
(Daily Kos)

Comment below fold.
 
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Bad rumblings at the VA

by Dan Burns on July 24, 2018 · 1 comment

A couple of items.
 

More than a dozen employees in high-level positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs have recently been reassigned to lower-level positions — and a new report says it’s part of a purge by President Donald Trump’s loyalists.
 
According to the Washington Post, acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke and a small team of Trump political appointees are reshuffling staffers they perceive to be disloyal to Trump and his agenda for the VA, which is responsible for providing health care and other federal benefits to US military veterans.
(Vox)

Last year, the Trump administration insisted that its regressive tax cuts were so important, it was worth adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt to ensure their passage. Now, the White House is warning Congress that the United States cannot afford to add $1.6 billion to the deficit to expand health-care options for veterans.
 
In a letter (July 16), the Trump administration demanded that lawmakers fund a popular veterans’ health-care program — which allows former troops to spend public funds on private doctors and hospitals — with cuts to other parts of the budget. Democrats, and some top Senate Republicans, prefer to raise the current caps on discretionary spending instead.
(New York Magazine)

I’m pretty sure that the program referenced is the one that lets vets who live far from any VA hospitals to get VA-funded care locally instead.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Farm Bill keeps crawling along

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2018 · 0 comments

corn“Next week” in the article means this week, now. It still seems likely that something very much like the Senate version of the bill – that is, no SNAP cuts or “work requirements”, about the same or even in a few cases slightly higher spending on conservation programs overall, etc. – is what will ultimately get through Congress. I don’t know whether Trump would sign that. My guess at this time is that he will, with little if any fuss, because he just doesn’t care about it beyond just wanting it out of the way.
 

The House could take an important step in moving farm bill talks forward next week by voting on a motion to proceed to conference — but Thursday (July 12) provided the latest indication that bad blood between House ag leaders is one of the many issues yet to be sorted out in the coming weeks.
 
House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) met Wednesday for the first time in eight weeks, according to Peterson…
 
Peterson indicated to reporters that the face-to-face got heated. “I was not easy on him, and I told him bluntly what I think, which I always do,” he said. “He didn’t like it, but I said I’m just telling what I think and I’m trying to be helpful.”
 
“We get this thing into conference next week and if people become sensible it won’t take long to do this,” Peterson said in a jab at House Republicans.
(Politico)

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trump34I happen to think there is some value in trying to get to the bottom of what motivates Trump supporters, from an objective, scientific viewpoint grounded in what we know about human psychology. Meaning, how their cognitive biases operate, and so forth. (In fact, my personal take, though with plenty of qualifications, on the deal with right-wingers in general is that when you get right down to it they truly, honestly just do not know any better.) The essay I’m blockquoting, linking, and highly recommending here kind of trashes that. But it kicks so much a** that I’m sharing it anyway.
 

You want to find good people, look for the people who are just as poor but care for others anyway, or who are under just as much economic stress but do not use it as excuse for cheating and stealing their way through it — or offering up eager praise for those that do. Good people don’t claim to have family values and then discard those values at the drop of a hat when a rich, shouting hatebag they saw on their television set tells them to ignore all that. Good people don’t soak themselves in transparent lies about immigrants or minorities, then declare everyone else to be “elites” arrayed against them in “elite”-minded conspiracy when some newspaper, somewhere, points out that those things were, in fact, cheap and tawdry lies.
 
The more we hear from Trump defenders, the more transparent it is that they are indeed, well, bad. It’s terribly rude to say, and the press cannot say it, but the rest of us can. If you still support Trump at this late date, you are a terrible human being. You should, in fact, feel bad about yourself.
 
Yes, the rest of us do indeed look down on these people. Those of us with actual family values do; those of us who care about honesty in government do; those of us who are not furious bulging-eyed racists do; those of us who believe thousands of years of scientific discoveries are worth more than the dribbling pronouncements of a street-corner charlatan do; those of us with actual religious convictions do; those of us who are actual patriots do.
(Daily Kos)

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Where are Minnesota soybean farmers at?

by Dan Burns on July 12, 2018 · 0 comments

soybeansFrom last week:
 

So far, (Bill Doyscher) said, his elevator’s export business is good, but he’s seeing signs of a slowdown. Orders for future delivery have already begun to lag.
 
Some Minnesota farmers fear these ongoing trade issues will make it impossible for them to stay in business: That the new tariff will hurt U.S. soybean exports to China, reduce what they’re paid for the soybeans they sell and, ultimately, reduce their profits.
 
Some of those fears have already become reality: Because the market tends to respond ahead of changes, prices have already been dropping for several weeks in anticipation of the move.
(MPR)

The article goes on to suggest that plenty of farmers are po’d already. But I’ve seen anecdotal indications in other places that staunchly conservative farmers will blame a crash on anybody but Trump, no matter what. All it will take is for some in farm country, though, to reboot on how and if they vote, for us to flip plenty of state house districts. And to easily hold some tight federal ones.
 

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trump33I know, “good one!” But a guy can dream.

 

All of that points to one conclusion: North Korea lied about its nuclear program — and its intentions to dismantle it — to keep extracting concessions from the US. “Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,” an unnamed senior intelligence official told NBC News.
 
That plan may have already worked. Last month, Trump canceled a key military exercise with South Korea, one of America’s top allies. Pyongyang certainly liked that since it claims the joint drills are both a pretext and rehearsal for a US-led invasion of North Korea. After Trump met with Kim in Singapore on June 12, the president decided he wanted to stop what he calls “war games” in order to lower the tension…
 
What makes the decision even more surprising is that US intelligence agencies are pretty unanimous on one crucial point: North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons program.
(Vox)

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trump13According to this, yeah, he might. And I for one certainly don’t put any insanely stupid thing beyond him.
 

President Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, a move that would throw global trade into wild disarray, people involved in the talks tell Axios…
 
Why this matters: A U.S. withdrawal from the WTO would send global markets into a spiral and cast trillions of dollars of trade into doubt.
 
– It would also blow up an institution that for 70-plus years has been a pillar of global economic and political stability.
 
– The consequences of a U.S. withdrawal are so profound that, like Trump’s senior advisers, the trade community hasn’t seriously entertained the possibility that Trump would try to withdraw.
 
-A top trade lawyer in Washington said: “We think he’s nuts, but not that nuts.”
(Axios)

The article does note that withdrawal would also require approval from Congress. But you know as well as I do about how prone they’ve been to standing up to Trump on matters like these (until next January, anyway, we hope).
 
Regarding the photo, how can anyone not pick up on the overwhelming fear, greed, and corruption in that face, whatever its expression at any given moment?
 

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trump7Some recent items, to provide context for his visit yesterday.
 

When Republicans in Congress passed a big, fat tax break bill in December, they insisted it meant American workers would be singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” all the way to the bank.
 
The payoff from the tax cut would be raises totaling $4,000 to $9,000, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors assured workers.
 
But something bad happened to workers on their way to the repository. They never got that money.
 
In fact, their real wages declined because of higher inflation. At the same time, the amount workers had to pay in interest on loans for cars and credit cards increased. And, to top it off, Republicans threatened to make workers pay for the tax break with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
 
So now, workers across America are wondering, “Where’s that raise?”
 
It’s nowhere to be found.
(OurFuture.org)

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