Friday, March 19, 2021

Sorry, friends, for not getting back to my blog writing place sooner.

More Ian Welsh goodness today.

Everyone should signup at his site so they don't miss any of his marvelously insightful essays. Always read Ian first.

nihil obstet (responds)

January 20, 2021

I’d push the idea that Trump killed 400,000 Americans by his stupid or evil or both handling of the covid plague if I could just get anyone to apply the same standard to the American political class over the last 30 years. We know that 45,000 Americans were dying each year for lack of medical insurance back in the early aughts. Most recently the number is up to around 67,000 a year. There’s no mystery about what to do. We are the only so-called advanced country without universal health care. We could copy any of their health care structures or use their experiences to design our own. I tend to react to anyone pushing the “Trump killed 400,000 Americans in one year” argument who has not called Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, et al. murderers for their stupid and evil handling of the deaths of more than a million Americans hypocritical.

I would also note that the dismantling of a not-bad public health infrastructure since the late 70s made the reaction to a health crisis more difficult.

We have different ideas about how bad Trump has been. We can probably communicate better if we use the same standards to measure.

Ch矇 Pasa (responds)

January 20, 2021

For a nation tearing itself apart, the US is in pretty good shape all things considered. The decadence of the Republic is manifest in practically every way, and the disconnect of the brutal and misbegotten American Empire from the rotting hulk of the Republic merely means “more of the same” — because the ruling class doesn’t know anything else to do.

The carcereal state will continue unmolested, of course. Too many people are dependent on it for their power, pelf and wherewithal. The pandemic will be partially controlled sometime in the future. But not before there’s a higher death and disability toll than from the 1918-20 flu pandemic. Still, it won’t be enough dead to significantly lower population here and abroad, so the health care crisis will get worse, as it was bound to anyway. No universal health care, no rebuilt public health infrastructure. More death concentrated among the old, sick, brown, black, and poor.

Will we get “checks?” Not soon, anyway. Maybe never. The triggering factors that led to the failed insurrection will become institutionalized. “White supremacy” will be consigned to the dustbin, though male whites will continue to be in charge of nearly everything.

The rich will get richer, the poor will suffer, and everyone else will scramble to stay in place.

Nothing significant will change, but the face of power will be a slight bit gentler.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ian Welsh's essays always provide the most light around (not to overlook his commenters who flesh things out nicely, so to speak).

Mark Pontin

January 20, 2021

Hugh wrote: ‘We should take a moment to consider Trump’s accomplishments. He killed 400,000 Americans, as many as died in World War II, and he did it in one year not the 3 1/2 the war took.’ We should take more than a moment. In the UK, Brits complaining about the incompetence and venality of the current crop of Tories were told by some of their fellow citizens of Indian and African extraction, “Now you know what it’s like to be ruled by the British.” So, too, with Trump.

Now Americans have a little idea of how it is to be ruled by the U.S. empire, which has murdered some 20 million people around the planet in recent decades.

Well, thank God for ordinary Americans that at least the rest of the empire’s methods won’t be re-imported back into the homeland and we’ll never see measures like a Green Zone erected in the nation’s capitol and …. Oh, wait. Biden explained his administration’s intentions: “Nothing’s going to change.” In other words, the empire will take those measures it considers necessary to maintain itself and, as Ian warns you here, an anti-terrorism meat-grinder will be built out.

I’ll go further than Ian. Constructing the apparatus of meat-grinder promises to be enormously _profitable_ for the usual suspects. Thus, it will grow ever-larger, and more mindlessly destructive and oppressive to increasing numbers of Americans, further feeding ‘terrorist’ anti-government, anti-elite feelings among them and growing the numbers of Americans who hate ‘their’ government. Recall, too, that some 22-23 percent of the population are _already_ like Thomas G. here, in that they consider the current administration an illegitimate construct foisted upon the country by the Deep State and Wall Street. They’re not wrong about that, either.

Furthermore, all this is _fine_ for those who profit from building the meat grinder because increases in anti-government hostility will constitute a rationale for further building it out and so more profits. To put this in perspective, the U.S. military-industrial complex has often been described as a self-licking ice cream cone, in that the destruction and repression it creates as it flails around overseas feeds the hostility of populations there towards the U.S. and their resistance, which in turn provides a rationale for further funding of the U.S. military to try and maintain ‘battlespace supremacy.’

Now that self-licking ice cream cone is coming home. Because it’s profitable to certain parties, the anti-terrorism machinery will be built ever-larger, and flail around ever-more heedlessly. What will that look like? Well, for one instance, the U.S. already has the largest population of imprisoned people of any nation on Earth, for instance. That population will increase. Similarly, technology and methods to surveil and repress the U.S. population will be developed further and deployed.

This will mean not just homegrown U.S. technology from Silicon Valley, but the importation of the more advanced technology the regime in China has already developed along those lines. In this scenario, the U.S. will essentially get CCP-style repression but not the relative competence of the CCP, only the psychopathic, short-term grifting of the current neoliberal U.S. elite. You’re welcome.

Friday, January 4, 2019

(Deception City (er, Country)) New York Times Smears Bernie Sanders With WMD Pose (NO PAYGO!!!) Do We Have to Wait for a Quadrillion n Hidden Taxpayer Funds to Be Reported Missing? (Reporter Quits NBC Citing Network’s Support For Endless War) Rigged American Elections? (Out-Russianing the Russians!) MORE!



The "New York Times," having run out of countries to find WMD in, has now determined that Bernie Sanders is the most likely target this election?

Sad.





NO NO NO

PAYGO!!!!!!!!!



In a wealthy first-world nation, no one thinks hard about some of the employees making off with a few bucks now and then.

Today's situation, trillions missing, unaccounted for, and unlooked for, is straining the credulity needed to continue this much-loved (by the owners) tradition.

Trillions are an accounting mistake? Maybe if they say it loudly enough and long enough and click their sparkly red heels three times?

If we were present at the hearing, we would have asked Mr. Norquist follow-up questions.  The report highlighting unsupported adjustments of $6.5 trillion does indeed indicate that $164 billion in undocumentable adjustments were needed to address issues related to “property” (see page 27 of the report).  Clearly, $164 billion in adjustments is substantial. Yet there is no indication as to why properties, equipment, etc. required such enormous changes in valuation.  Moreover, the $164 billion accounts for less than 2 percent of the $6.5 trillion. Why were an additional $6.3 trillion in unsupported adjustments needed?  To our knowledge, there are no public reports with detailed explanations or additional data. Furthermore, the DOD's OIG's failure to respond to reasonable inquiries and Mr. Norquist's clearly inadequate explanation suggests our government accountants can't figure out what's going on when it comes to trillions in "unsupported" outlays/transactions.
Let's recall that this is not simply a matter of boring accounting. Trillions in unaccounted outlays, if that's what's involved here, is trillions of our tax dollars being spent without our knowledge. If that's the case, we're talking about the biggest government financial deception in the history of the country.

And speaking of national deceptions, financial and otherwise:

I thought that the mission was to break through the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness. It was also an interesting moment at NBC because everyone was looking over their shoulder at Vice and other upstarts creeping up on the mainstream. But then Trump got elected and Investigations got sucked into the tweeting vortex, increasingly lost in a directionless adrenaline rush, the national security and political version of leading the broadcast with every snow storm. And I would assert that in many ways NBC just began emulating the national security state itself — busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play.
I’d argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I’d also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there’s a lot to report here, but I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars.”
Arkin is no fan of Trump, calling him “an ignorant and incompetent impostor,” but describes his shock at NBC’s reflexive opposition to the president’s “bumbling intuitions” to get along with Russia, to denuclearize North Korea, to get out of the Middle East, and his questioning of the US military’s involvement in Africa.
“I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue the contrary, to be in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria? We shouldn’t go for the bold move of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula? Even on Russia, though we should be concerned about the brittleness of our democracy that it is so vulnerable to manipulation, do we really yearn for the Cold War? And don’t even get me started with the FBI:  What? We now lionize this historically destructive institution?”
“There’s a saying about consultants, that organizations hire them to hear exactly what they want to hear,” Arkin writes in the conclusion of his statement. “ I’m proud to say that NBC didn’t do that when it came to me. Similarly I can say that I’m proud that I’m not guilty of giving my employers what they wanted. Still, the things this and most organizations fear most — variability, disturbance, difference — those things that are also the primary drivers of creativity — are not really the things that I see valued in the reporting ranks.”
That’s about as charitably as it could possibly be said by a skeptical tongue. Another way to say it would be that plutocrat-controlled and government-enmeshed media networks hire reporters to protect the warmongering oligarchic status quo upon which media-controlling plutocrats have built their respective kingdoms, and foster an environment which elevates those who promote establishment-friendly narratives while marginalizing and pressuring anyone who doesn’t. It’s absolutely bizarre that it should be unusual for there to be a civilian analyst of the US war machine’s behaviors in the mainstream media who is skeptical of its failed policies and nonstop bloodshed, and it’s a crime that such voices are barely holding on to the fringes of the media stage. Such analysts should be extremely normal and commonplace, not rare and made to feel as though they don’t belong.

It's always seemed strange to me that the politicians with the biggest names now are allowed to get away with the biggest crimes. Seems like it would be the little guys. You know, like during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton years. Or did the Obama years confuse me so perilously that the Trump years seem about right again?


 



And the Brits are out-Russianing the Russians! Seems the Deep State has been running the Clinton Campaign?






Stay tuned. There is so much more.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lee Camp's New Comedy Show Will Remind You of the Classics for a Good Reason (Think Sahl, Bruce, Carlin & Pryor)



(Update! Apologies for the previous link gremlins!!!)


That's just horribly wrong.

For the business boys.

As for the children and the poor . . . .

The horror! Steve, Gary: Couldn’t you just put a new tax on food stamps or check-cashing? You’re killin’ us. This could not possibly get worse, except if you hadn’t just engaged in the biggest transfer of wealth in the wrong direction in human history. Whaaaa, it can?

Under the new tax law, companies can deduct interest costs up to 30 percent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, until 2022. After that, the cap narrows to 30 percent of earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT — since that number includes depreciation and amortization, it’s lower, making the potential deduction amount even smaller. 
Hedge Fund Pain Compounded as Surprise Tax Hit Awaits Investors [Bloomberg]

Lee Camp is fresh. Almost freakishly so. For the times anyway.

And I don't mean just early in the morning.

He's a professional comedian who is so startlingly, outrageously funny right out of the park and so tellingly on point that you are almost taken aback when you realize that you've paid your money for really fine entertainment, received it, and are thinking there is no way you've paid enough.

Of course, you really didn't pay anything if you've caught his act on YouTube or other internet sites that feature his droll, lucid, acid-laced political commentary interspersed with gut-busting humor that causes hooting to burst forth at the political analysis pretensions of your friends as well as your own as you slide into a mind-opening, disturbingly unbalanced inner space that makes you question every precept you've held since Miss Smith told your Fifth Grade class that the Bible was a book of fiction written by unknown men who wanted to wrest monetary and political power from the unknown men who had held it before them until the next motivated group showed up with enough power to take it from them.

But enough about pretensions and pretenders. Lee Camp owns the real thing. In addition to his weekly TV show, "Redacted Tonight," he also has a stunningly funny brand new comedy show now available at a rock-bottom price online (although you could show your appreciation by throwing him another buck or two just for equity's sake).

You need a sample?

Okay. I warned you. I hope you're sitting down.

Twenty-one trillion dollars.
The Pentagon’s own numbers show that it can’t account for $21 trillion. Yes, I mean trillion with a “T.” And this could change everything.
But I’ll get back to that in a moment.
There are certain things the human mind is not meant to do. Our complex brains cannot view the world in infrared, cannot spell words backward during orgasm and cannot really grasp numbers over a few thousand. A few thousand, we can feel and conceptualize. We’ve all been in stadiums with several thousand people. We have an idea of what that looks like (and how sticky the floor gets).
But when we get into the millions, we lose it. It becomes a fog of nonsense. Visualizing it feels like trying to hug a memory. We may know what $1 million can buy (and we may want that thing), but you probably don’t know how tall a stack of a million $1 bills is. You probably don’t know how long it takes a minimum-wage employee to make $1 million.
That’s why trying to understand—truly understand—that the Pentagon spent 21 trillion unaccounted-for dollars between 1998 and 2015 washes over us like your mother telling you that your third cousin you met twice is getting divorced. It seems vaguely upsetting, but you forget about it 15 seconds later because … what else is there to do?
Twenty-one trillion.
But let’s get back to the beginning. A couple of years ago, Mark Skidmore, an economics professor, heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, say that the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General had found $6.5 trillion worth of unaccounted-for spending in 2015. Skidmore, being an economics professor, thought something like, “She means $6.5 billion. Not trillion. Because trillion would mean the Pentagon couldn’t account for more money than the gross domestic product of the whole United Kingdom. But still, $6.5 billion of unaccounted-for money is a crazy amount.”
So he went and looked at the inspector general’s report, and he found something interesting: It was trillion! It was fucking $6.5 trillion in 2015 of unaccounted-for spending! And I’m sorry for the cursing, but the word “trillion” is legally obligated to be prefaced with “fucking.” It is indeed way more than the U.K.’s GDP.
Skidmore did a little more digging. As Forbes reported in December 2017, “[He] and Catherine Austin Fitts … conducted a search of government websites and found similar reports dating back to 1998. While the documents are incomplete, original government sources indicate $21 trillion in unsupported adjustments have been reported for the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.”
Let’s stop and take a second to conceive how much $21 trillion is (which you can’t because our brains short-circuit, but we’ll try anyway).
1. The amount of money supposedly in the stock market is $30 trillion.
2. The GDP of the United States is $18.6 trillion.
3. Picture a stack of money. Now imagine that that stack of dollars is all $1,000 bills. Each bill says “$1,000” on it. How high do you imagine that stack of dollars would be if it were $1 trillion. It would be 63 miles high.
4. Imagine you make $40,000 a year. How long would it take you to make $1 trillion? Well, don’t sign up for this task, because it would take you 25 million years (which sounds like a long time, but I hear that the last 10 million really fly by because you already know your way around the office, where the coffee machine is, etc.).
The human brain is not meant to think about a trillion dollars.
And it’s definitely not meant to think about the $21 trillion our Department of Defense can’t account for. These numbers sound bananas. They sound like something Alex Jones found tattooed on his backside by extraterrestrials.
But the 21 trillion number comes from the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General—the OIG. Although, as Forbes pointed out, “after Mark Skidmore began inquiring about OIG-reported unsubstantiated adjustments, the OIG’s webpage, which documented, albeit in a highly incomplete manner, these unsupported “accounting adjustments,” was mysteriously taken down.”
Luckily, people had already grabbed copies of the report, which—for now—you can view here.
Here’s something else important from that Forbes article—which is one of the only mainstream media articles you can find on the largest theft in American history:

Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress.
That’s right. The expenses with no explanation were 54 times the actual budget allotted by Congress. Well, it’s good to see Congress is doing 1/54th of its job of overseeing military spending (that’s actually more than I thought Congress was doing). This would seem to mean that 98 percent of every dollar spent by the Army in 2015 was unconstitutional.
So, pray tell, what did the OIG say caused all this unaccounted-for spending that makes Jeff Bezos’ net worth look like that of a guy jingling a tin can on the street corner?
“[The July 2016 inspector general] report indicates that unsupported adjustments are the result of the Defense Department’s ‘failure to correct system deficiencies.’
They blame trillions of dollars of mysterious spending on a “failure to correct system deficiencies”? That’s like me saying I had sex with 100,000 wild hairless aardvarks because I wasn’t looking where I was walking.
Twenty-one trillion.
Say it slowly to yourself.
At the end of the day, there are no justifiable explanations for this amount of unaccounted-for, unconstitutional spending. Right now, the Pentagon is being audited for the first time ever, and it’s taking 2,400 auditors to do it. I’m not holding my breath that they’ll actually be allowed to get to the bottom of this.
But if the American people truly understood this number, it would change both the country and the world. It means that the dollar is sprinting down a path toward worthless. If the Pentagon is hiding spending that dwarfs the amount of tax dollars coming in to the federal government, then it’s clear the government is printing however much it wants and thinking there are no consequences. Once these trillions are considered, our fiat currency has even less meaning than it already does, and it’s only a matter of time before inflation runs wild.
It also means that any time our government says it “doesn’t have money” for a project, it’s laughable. It can clearly “create” as much as it wants for bombing and death. This would explain how Donald Trump’s military can drop well over 100 bombs a day that cost well north of $1 million each.
So why can’t our government also “create” endless money for health care, education, the homeless, veterans benefits and the elderly, to make all parking free and to pay the Rolling Stones to play stoop-front shows in my neighborhood? (I’m sure the Rolling Stones are expensive, but surely a trillion dollars could cover a couple of songs.)
Obviously, our government could do those things, but it chooses not to. Earlier this month, Louisiana sent eviction notices to 30,000 elderly people on Medicaid to kick them out of their nursing homes. Yes, a country that can vomit trillions of dollars down a black hole marked “Military” can’t find the money to take care of our poor elderly. It’s a repulsive joke.
Twenty-one trillion.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke about how no one knows where the money is flying in the Pentagon. In a barely reported speech in 2011, he said, “My staff and I learned that it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to questions such as, ‘How much money did you spend?’ and ‘How many people do you have?’
They can’t even find out how many people work for a specific department?
Note for anyone looking for a job:  Just show up at the Pentagon and tell them you work there. It doesn’t seem like they’d have much luck proving you don’t.
For more on this story, check out David DeGraw’s excellent reporting at ChangeMaker.media, because the mainstream corporate media are mouthpieces for the weapons industry. They are friends with benefits of the military-industrial complex. I have seen basically nothing from the mainstream corporate media concerning this mysterious $21 trillion. 
I missed the time when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said that the money we dump into war and death—either the accounted-for money or the secretive trillions—could end world hunger and poverty many times over. There’s no reason anybody needs to be starving or hungry or unsheltered on this planet, but our government seems hellbent on proving that it stands for nothing but profiting off death and misery. And our media desperately want to show they stand for nothing but propping up our morally bankrupt empire.
When the media aren’t actively promoting war, they’re filling the airwaves with shit, so the entire country can’t even hear itself think. Our whole mindscape is filled to the brim with nonsense and vacant celebrity idiocy. Then, while no one is looking, the largest theft humankind has ever seen is going on behind our backs—covered up under the guise of “national security.”
Twenty-one trillion.
Don’t forget.
(If you think this column is important, please share it. And check out Lee Camp’s weekly TV show, “Redacted Tonight.” Camp also is touring cities throughout the U.S. with his live comedy show. Check out his schedule here.)

Told you he was special.

More?

Okay. I'm weak too.


Max and Stacy are still rocking and rolling about the ongoing economic screwups too:



And I aDore Jimmy who asks what the F****** F*** are we doing in Syria anyway?


And Lee Camp (again!) with Professor Richard Wolff:



And, of course, as expected the "New York Times" is already smearing Bernie Sanders for 2020! Jimmy?



On a personal note at this special holiday season, I just learned that my favorite soap - Crabtree & Evelyn's Goatmilk Triple-Milled Soap - is on sale for $5.00 (hint! hint!) for any interested shoppers. You'll love it.

And my GoFundMe charity account needed to repair my old car is still underpatronized.

Happy Holidays!

(And No More War!!!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

RULED BY MONSTERS? Stop Reading Now If You Don't Want to Believe It



If you've been lucky enough to not be paying attention to your coming demise, economic and physical, don't stop now.

Because if you watch the following short video, you will catch up.



And they are not kidding.

In fact, if you watch the "News" coverage put out by any of the major networks, you will have absolutely no idea what is, and has been for years, happening to your pocketbook (and natural environment).

But those "News" media commentators are paid millions to ensure that you don't know anything about it.

And talking about those being paid millions to talk about things that are not true and never were.

OUR HERO!


And, yes, Obama certainly knows of which he speaks. He also knows all about the Deep State and why Russia must be constantly sold to the largely uninformed public as a country that is and always will be OUR ETERNAL ENEMY! (Never mind how much land and mythology it lost when it was moved rudely by U.S. NeoCon-Libs in the 90's from the reality of the past might of the Soviet Union to a much smaller torn-asunder, nucleated country named Russia.)

As recounted by the commentator Garret Epps in The Atlantic in March 2018, “In 1973, the great Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn coined the term ‘Gulag Archipelago’ to denote the Soviet system of political prisons and labor camps. In the last 25 years, the United States has, without fanfare, brought into being a kind of Enforcement and Removal Operations’ Archipelago — secretive, loosely supervised, and, in human and constitutional rights terms, deeply problematic. And the ‘system’ will, if the current administration carries forward its enforcement plans, grow significantly larger year by year.” The US gulag archipelago is firmly in place.
But in the minds of so many of the Western world, that have been ever-so-gently brainwashed over the years of the New Cold War, ‘gulags’ are forever Russian, and they are ready for pitch invaders.
Cold War Two is thriving, having been initiated and fostered by West and especially by the Pentagon and much of Congress, whose members benefit enormously from cash donations by weapons’ manufacturers whose generosity so far this election cycle has totaled $19,332,442 in traceable hand-outs.  The Pentagon is reported as having calculated that “overseas weapons sales by US firms rose $8.3 billion from 2016 to 2017, with American arms makers moving a total of $41.9 billion in advanced weaponry to foreign militaries last year.”  There is profit in supporting confrontation.
Development of the new Cold War was described succinctly in February 2018 by Stephen F Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, in that “[President] Clinton pursued winner-take-all policies consistent with viewing Russia as a defeated power, presiding over a massive intrusive crusade to shape that former rival into ‘the Russia we want’;  beginning the expansion of NATO, now on Russia’s borders; and bombing Moscow’s traditional Slav ally Serbia in 1999, despite Yeltsin’s protests. Indeed, the extreme vilification of Putin by former members of the Clinton administration, including Hillary Clinton, who equated him with Hitler, are not unrelated to their unwise Russia policies of the 1990s — loudly applauded, it should be added, by media journalists now also in the forefront of demonizing the current Kremlin leader.”
The Western media and what is now called the ‘deep state’ — the power clique, somewhat akin or even complementary to the military-industrial complex spotlighted by President Eisenhower almost sixty years ago — are intent on portraying Russia as a warmongering expansionist state, but they never mention the fact that, as recorded in the 2018 World Report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute “In 2017 the USA spent more on its military [$610 billion] than the next seven highest-spending countries combined. . . . at $66.3 billion, Russia’s military spending in 2017 was 20 per cent lower than in 2016.”
The New York Times summed up the Washington Establishment’s attitude to the Putin-Trump July 16 talks with the headline “Trump Opens His Arms to Russia. His Administration Closes Its Fist.” Entirely coincidentally, three days before the meeting, Washington’s best and brightest announced that twelve Russians had been indicted for allegedly interfering with the US elections in 2016. The word “allegedly” was rarely used by the West’s mainstream media, and the fact that no evidence of any sort has been presented to backup up the allegations has been completely ignored. The automatic verdict is that Russia is guilty of whatever charges might be levelled, just as in Britain the blame for an incident of poisoning has been laid firmly at Russia’s door without a shred of proof that Russia was involved.
Make no mistake:  the man Trump is the worst president the US has ever had.  He is, in the well-chosen words of the commentator Robert Reich, a “selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying, narcissistic, boastful megalomaniac.” But — it seems he wants to talk and negotiate with Russia, rather than indulging in ceaseless confrontation..
Trump has long expressed interest in improving ties with Russia, and the recent summit was his first real opportunity for doing so. Yet it will be difficult for this progress to have any permanence with so many in the Military-Industrial Complex uniting to undermine it. The Deep State’s fury and bitterness will not die down, and its propaganda campaigns will continue to fuel the Second Cold War. Exporting weapons is most lucrative, and many big-ticket items are scheduled to be sold to European countries, which is why it’s important to keep Russia as an enemy.


Who Does America Belong To?
Not to Americans
Paul Craig Roberts
The housing market is now apparently turning down. Consumer incomes are limited by jobs offshoring and the ability of employers to hold down wages and salaries.  The Federal Reserve seems committed to higher interest rates — in my view to protect the exchange value of the US dollar on which Washington’s power is based.  The arrogant fools in Washington, with whom I spent a quarter century, have, with their bellicosity and sanctions, encouraged nations with independent foreign and economic policies to drop the use of the dollar.  This takes some time to accomplish, but Russia, China, Iran, and India are apparently committed to dropping  or reducing the use of the US dollar.
A drop in the world demand for dollars can be destabilizing of the dollar’s value unless the central banks of Japan, UK, and EU continue to support the dollar’s exchange value, either by purchasing dollars with their currencies or by printing offsetting amounts of their currencies to keep the dollar’s value stable.  So far they have been willing to do both.  However, Trump’s criticisms of Europe has soured Europe against Trump, with a corresponding weakening of the willingness to cover for the US.  Japan’s colonial status viv-a-vis the US since the Second World War is being stressed by the hostility that Washington is introducing into Japan’s part of the world.  The orchestrated Washington tensions with North Korea and China do not serve Japan, and those Japanese politicians who are not heavily on the US payroll are aware that Japan is being put on the line for American, not Japanese interests.

If all this leads, as is likely, to the rise of more independence among Washington’s vassals, the vassals are likely to protect themselves from the cost of their independence by removing themselves from the dollar and payments mechanisms associated with the dollar as world currency.  This means a drop in the value of the dollar that the Federal Reserve would have to prevent by raising interest rates on dollar investments in order to keep the demand for dollars up sufficiently to protect its value.
As every realtor knows, housing prices boom when interest rates are low, because the lower the rate the higher the price of the house that the person with the mortgage can afford.  But when interest rates rise, the lower the price of the house that a buyer can afford.

If we are going into an era of higher interest rates, home prices and sales are going to decline.
The “on the other hand” to this analysis is that if the Federal Reserve loses control of the situation and the debts associated with the current value of the US dollar become a problem that can collapse the system, the Federal Reserve is likely to pump out enough new money to preserve the debt by driving interest rates back to zero or negative.

Would this save or revive the housing market?  Not if the debt-burdened American people have no substantial increases in their real income.  Where are these increases likely to come from? Robotics are about to take away the jobs not already lost to jobs offshoring. Indeed, despite President Trump’s emphasis on “bringing the jobs back,” Ford Motor Corp. has just announced that it is moving the production of the Ford Focus from Michigan to China

Apparently it never occurs to the executives running America’s offshored corporations that potential customers in America working in part time jobs stocking shelves in Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc., will not have enough money to purchase a Ford.  Unlike Henry Ford, who had the intelligence to pay workers good wages so they could buy Fords, the executives of American companies today sacrifice their domestic market and the American economy to their short-term “performance bonuses” based on low foreign labor costs.
 
What is about to happen in America today is that the middle class, or rather those who were part of it as children and expected to join it, are going to be driven into manufactured “double-wide homes” or single trailers.  The MacMansions will be cut up into tenements.  Even the high-priced rentals along the Florida coast will find a drop in demand as real incomes continue to fall. The $5,000-$20,000 weekly summer rental rate along Florida’s panhandle 30A will not be sustainable.  The speculators who are in over their heads in this arena are due for a future shock.

For years I have reported on the monthly payroll jobs statistics.  The vast majority of new jobs are in lowly paid nontradable domestic services, such as waitresses and bartenders, retail clerks, and ambulatory health care services. In the payroll jobs report for June, for example, the new jobs, if they actually exist, are concentrated in these sectors:  administrative and waste services, health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services, and local government.

High productivity, high value-added manufactured jobs shrink in the US as they are offshored to Asia.  High productivity, high value-added professional service jobs, such as research, design, software engineering, accounting, legal research, are being filled by offshoring or by foreigners brought into the US on work visas with the fabricated and false excuse that there are no Americans qualified for the jobs. See:  The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism.

America is a country hollowed out by the short-term greed of the ruling class and its shills in the economics profession and in Congress.  Capitalism only works for the few. It no longer works for the many.

On national security grounds Trump should respond to Ford’s announcement of offshoring the production of Ford Focus to China by nationalizing Ford.  Michigan’s payrolls and tax base will decline and employment in China will rise. We are witnessing a major US corporation enabling China’s rise over the United States. Among the external costs of Ford’s contribution to China’s GDP is Trump’s increased US military budget to counter the rise in China’s power.

Trump should also nationalize Apple, Nike, Levi, and all the rest of the offshored US global corporations who have put the interest of a few people above the interests of the American work force and the US economy.  There is no other way to get the jobs back.  Of course, if Trump did this, he would be assassinated.

America is ruled by a tiny percentage of people who constitute a treasonous class. These people have the money to purchase the government, the media, and the economics profession that shills for them. This greedy traitorous interest group must be dealt with or the United States of America and the entirety of its peoples are lost.

In her latest blockbuster book, Collusion, Nomi Prins documents how central banks and international monetary institutions have used the 2008 financial crisis to manipulate markets and the fiscal policies of governments to benefit the super-rich. See: 
Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World.

These manipulations are used to enable the looting of countries such as Greece and Portugal by the large German and Dutch banks and the enrichment via inflated financial asset prices of shareholders at the expense of the general population.

One would think that repeated financial crises would undermine the power of financial interests, but the facts are otherwise. As long ago as November 21, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to Col. House that “the real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.”
Thomas Jefferson said that “banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies” and that “if the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks . . . will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” The shrinkage of the US middle class is evidence that Jefferson’s prediction is coming true.

Lee is always much better than just Camp.


CNN just hosted a panel on whether the US should topple Iran & what regime should replace it. Every segment like this presupposes it’s ok & right for the US to destroy other countries & millions of lives at our whim. These commentators are true sociopaths.

And Thomas Frank could be the hero of our time.

Not Pechorin, of course, or even Onegin. But a truly courageous hero when we desperately need one. (Apologies to Lermontov (and Pushkin).)

Yes. I studied Russian Lit. Deal with it and give Thomas a serious listen. You won't regret it and his reasoned arguments might provide the basis for finding our way out of this world-ending financial debacle.






Saturday, March 10, 2018

UNC Beats Duke - On to Virginia! (Google Admits It Works for Pentagon: Drone Murder Program)




UNC Beats Dook!


Going for Virginia tomorrow night!!!!
____________________


In my afternoon mail, I found some really terrific political insight from my favorite reporter, Lee Camp at "Redacted Tonight," when he interviews the incredibly still alive ex-CIA operative, Ray McGovern.

Hey -
In this gripping interview with 27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern, he tells me that Deep State is very real and that they are now circling wagons for war with Iran. He also explains that Israel is dictating our foreign policy (big surprise).
Click here to watch.

Please share if you see fit. Keep fighting.

- Lee


____________________


I also found that Professor Paul Craig Roberts has made a telling discovery for us all:

It Seems Google Is Another Criminal Element In Murder Inc.



Just an innocent private IT company? Yeah right, it's part of the military-industrial complex, profiting from empire's endless wars and up to its elbows in blood
In another milestone in the growing integration between the military-intelligence complex and Silicon Valley, Google’s parent company Alphabet has confirmed that it has provided software to identify targets used in the illegal US government drone murder program. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Helping Pentagon blow up Afghan weddings

Since initiating its drone assassination program in 2009, the United States claims to have killed close to 3,000 “combatants” in drone strikes. Internal military documents show that for every one person targeted by a drone strike, nine bystanders are killed, meaning that the true toll of the US military’s airborne terrorism campaign in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq potentially rises to the tens of thousands.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial, violates the constitutional guarantee of due process. It also violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort.”
Google’s complicity with the drone murder program implicates the company in the criminal activities of the US military, sparking outrage among employees after executives admitted the collaboration in an internal memo last week, according to a report by Gizmodo.
Sensitive to both the potential legal ramifications of its actions and to the hostility to America’s criminal wars both inside and outside the company, Google stressed in a statement that its collaboration “is for non-offensive uses only,” saying “the technology flags images for human review.”
But this absurd and unserious pretense, aimed to provide talking points to an uncritical, state-controlled media, is the equivalent of a Mafia getaway driver claiming he is not an accomplice to murder because he did not pull the trigger.
The US government has claimed the right to use drones to assassinate American citizens anywhere in the world, including within the borders of the United States. In 2011, the Obama administration assassinated Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, with a Predator drone strike in Yemen, then murdered his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in another drone strike two weeks later.
Google’s partnership in such nefarious operations threatens it not only with legal sanction around the world, but also with serious commercial repercussions. The company’s decision to proceed despite these dangers points to the increasingly vital role of military contracts in the business operations of the major technology giants.
The Defense Department spent at least $7.4 billion on Artificial Intelligence programs last year, and is expected to spend even more this year, with much of that amount flowing to corporations like Alphabet (Google), Amazon, and Nvidia, whose artificial intelligence capacities reportedly outstrip those of in-house Pentagon programs.
Over the past year, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all announced measures to censor the information their services present to users, promoting “authoritative” and “trusted” news outlets over “alternative” viewpoints, which include news outlets that expose and denounce US war crimes. Facebook, which of all the technology companies has been the most unabashed in its determination to censor its platform, has explicitly said it expects user engagement to drop as a result of its demotion of “viral” videos and promotion of “trusted” news sources, such as the New York Times.
As these companies expect some drop-off in consumer demand as they impose increasingly restrictive censorship measures, lucrative defense contracts are a means to pad their bottom line and align their financial interests ever more closely with the war-making and repressive operations of the American state.
The technology giants have moved to impose censorship measures at the same time that the Pentagon has concluded that it has found itself in an “AI arms race,” as the Wall Street Journal put it this month. Facing the rapid economic rise of substantial military powers, such as Russia and China, who are able to develop and implement new technologies without the massive logistical burden of the countless wars, overseas deployments, and destabilization operations engaged in by the United States. US military planners have come to the conclusion that the only way to retain the American military advantage in future conflicts is to integrate Silicon Valley into the war-fighting machine.
The Pentagon has devised the so-called “Third offset” strategy to defeat the “pacing threat” from China by focusing on “autonomous learning systems, human-machine collaborative decision-making, assisted human operations, advanced manned-unmanned systems operations,” and “networked autonomous weapons” as the Economist recently put it in the cover story of an issue titled “The Next War.
This strategy revolves around the recruitment of the US private technology sector, which remains the most developed in the world. As the Economist put it, the United States “continues to dominate commercial AI funding and has more firms working in the field than any other country.”
Speaking at a conference last year, Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor, the head of the so-called “Project Maven” in which Google is a key collaborator, declared the US in the midst of an “AI arms race,” adding, “Many of you will have noted that Eric Schmidt is calling Google an AI company now, not a data company.” 
He added, “There is no ‘black box’ that delivers the AI system the government needs... Key elements have to be put together … and the only way to do that is with commercial partners alongside us.”
In order to streamline the reciprocal exchange between the technology giants’ vast computational power, artificial intelligence capabilities, and massive database of sensitive user data and the US military’s virtually limitless budget, the Pentagon has set up a series of partnerships with Silicon Valley. In 2015, the Pentagon set up a private-public funding vehicle known as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), headquartered just minutes from Google’s main campus in Mountain View, California.

A 2016 meeting between Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter about the Defense Innovation Advisory Board for the DoD

In another milestone in the growing integration between the military-intelligence complex and Silicon Valley, Google’s parent company Alphabet has confirmed that it has provided software to identify targets used in the illegal US government drone murder program.
Since initiating its drone assassination program in 2009, the United States claims to have killed close to 3,000 “combatants” in drone strikes. Internal military documents show that for every one person targeted by a drone strike, nine bystanders are killed, meaning that the true toll of the US military’s airborne terrorism campaign in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq potentially rises to the tens of thousands.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial, violates the constitutional guarantee of due process. It also violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort.”
Google’s complicity with the drone murder program implicates the company in the criminal activities of the US military, sparking outrage among employees after executives admitted the collaboration in an internal memo last week, according to a report by Gizmodo.
Sensitive to both the potential legal ramifications of its actions and to the hostility to America’s criminal wars both inside and outside the company, Google stressed in a statement that its collaboration “is for non-offensive uses only,” saying “the technology flags images for human review.”
But this absurd and unserious pretense, aimed to provide talking points to an uncritical, state-controlled media, is the equivalent of a Mafia getaway driver claiming he is not an accomplice to murder because he did not pull the trigger.
The US government has claimed the right to use drones to assassinate American citizens anywhere in the world, including within the borders of the United States. In 2011, the Obama administration assassinated Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, with a Predator drone strike in Yemen, then murdered his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in another drone strike two weeks later.
Google’s partnership in such nefarious operations threatens it not only with legal sanction around the world, but also with serious commercial repercussions. The company’s decision to proceed despite these dangers points to the increasingly vital role of military contracts in the business operations of the major technology giants.
The Defense Department spent at least $7.4 billion on artificial intelligence programs last year, and is expected to spend even more this year, with much of that amount flowing to corporations like Alphabet (Google), Amazon, and Nvidia, whose artificial intelligence capacities reportedly outstrip those of in-house Pentagon programs.
Over the past year, Google, Facebook and Twitter have all announced measures to censor the information their services present to users, promoting “authoritative” and “trusted” news outlets over “alternative” viewpoints, which include news outlets that expose and denounce US war crimes. Facebook, which of all the technology companies has been the most unabashed in its determination to censor its platform, has explicitly said it expects user engagement to drop as a result of its demotion of “viral” videos and promotion of “trusted” news sources, such as the New York Times.
As these companies expect some drop-off in consumer demand as they impose increasingly restrictive censorship measures, lucrative defense contracts are a means to pad their bottom line and align their financial interests ever more closely with the war-making and repressive operations of the American state.
The technology giants have moved to impose censorship measures at the same time that the Pentagon has concluded that it has found itself in an “AI arms race,” as the Wall Street Journal put it this month. Facing the rapid economic rise of substantial military powers, such as Russia and China, who are able to develop and implement new technologies without the massive logistical burden of the countless wars, overseas deployments, and destabilization operations engaged in by the United States. US military planners have come to the conclusion that the only way to retain the American military advantage in future conflicts is to integrate Silicon Valley into the warfighting machine.
The Pentagon has devised the so-called “Third offset” strategy to defeat the “pacing threat” from China by focusing on “autonomous learning systems, human-machine collaborative decision-making, assisted human operations, advanced manned-unmanned systems operations,” and “networked autonomous weapons” as the Economist recently put it in the cover story of an issue titled “The next war.”
This strategy revolves around the recruitment of the US private technology sector, which remains the most developed in the world. As the Economist put it, the United States “continues to dominate commercial AI funding and has more firms working in the field than any other country.”
Speaking at a conference last year, Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor, the head of the so-called “Project Maven” in which Google is a key collaborator, declared the US in the midst of an “AI arms race,” adding, “Many of you will have noted that Eric Schmidt is calling Google an AI company now, not a data company.”
He added, “There is no ‘black box’ that delivers the AI system the government needs... Key elements have to be put together … and the only way to do that is with commercial partners alongside us.”
In order to streamline the reciprocal exchange between the technology giants’ vast computational power, artificial intelligence capabilities, and massive database of sensitive user data and the US military’s virtually limitless budget, the Pentagon has set up a series of partnerships with Silicon Valley. In 2015, the Pentagon set up a private-public funding vehicle known as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), headquartered just minutes from Google’s main campus in Mountain View, California.

Now to get someone to accept responsibility for the questionable actions of MicroSoft, Facebook. Amazon, . . . .

______________


And back to the celebrations - one on Franklin Street!






Thursday, February 8, 2018

U N C !!!!!! Beats Dook!!!!!  (With Rob Porter Gone, The Heat on John Kelly Is Increasing)  Labor Dept. Report Mysteriously Missing After Contradicting Trump  (Congress To Pass $300B Spending Bill) SHUTDOWN




(BEATS DOOK!)

_______________

“He Was F---ing Pissed” With Rob Porter Gone, the Heat on John Kelly Is Increasing


Trump is not happy with the chaos; Jared and Ivanka are trying to right the ship; and even Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes, is in trouble. 
A day after White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter resigned amid allegations he physically abused his ex-wives, the Trump administration is still struggling to contain the fallout. The question of who knew what, and when, is being hotly debated in the West Wing. Chief of Staff John Kelly, whose relationship with Trump has been strained in recent weeks, is taking the lion’s share of the blame, as I reported yesterday. On Wednesday night, Donald Trump vented to advisers that Kelly had not fully briefed him on Porter’s issues with women until recently, two sources told me. Trump was also not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse until yesterday, when Ivanka walked into the Oval Office and showed her father a photo published in the Daily Mail of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye. “He was fucking pissed,” said one Republican briefed on the conversation. According to a source, Ivanka and Jared Kushner have been discussing possible chief-of-staff replacements. The problem is there’s not an obvious candidate waiting in the wings.
West Wing staffers continue to wonder why Kelly would keep the Porter allegations from the president, and why he defended Porter so aggressively when presented with allegations by the Mail. Porter’s history with women had been known to Kelly for months, a source familiar with the matter said. (Porter has been working with a temporary security clearance because the allegations surfaced in an F.B.I. background interview.) According to a source, Kelly at first pushed back when White House officials wanted him to issue a second statement walking back his initial strong defense of Kelly. Kelly ultimately wrote that he was “shocked by the new allegations.”
The crisis also raises questions about Hope Hicks’s decision-making, and whether her romantic relationship with Porter clouded her judgment. According to a source, Hicks did not get a sign off from Trump for the White House’s initial statement defending Porter, in which Kelly was quoted calling Porter a “man of true integrity.” She drafted the statement with her close friend, Kushner’s White House spokesman Josh Raffel, whom she’s known since their days working for Manhattan P.R. strategist Matthew Hiltzik. This morning, Hicks continued to defend Porter in private, a source said, telling people she thinks the allegations aren’t true. In recent weeks, Trump has been angry at Hicks for her role in approving interviews with Michael Wolff, a Republican close to the White House told me. (The White House did not respond to requests for comment.)
There is a sense that the Porter situation may finally push Trump to move against Kelly, according to several Republicans close to the White House. Last night, a source said, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called Trump and urged him to fire Kelly.
Hicks’s job, meanwhile, seems safe, even if the president is angry with her. As Trump’s gatekeeper, she’s one of the most powerful people in the White House, protected by Trump almost like a member of the Trump family.

Labor Department Report Mysteriously Disappears After Contradicting Trump


The White House has a curious habit of burying data that makes its policies look bad.
Back in December, Trump’s Department of Labor proposed nixing an Obama-era rule that said tips are the property of the service-facing employees who earn them, and that employers cannot force them to share. Instead, the D.O.L. claimed that if workers like waiters and bartenders were required to pool their tips, the money could be divided up to reward employees like dishwashers and line cooks, who do not receive gratuity. At first glance, this seemed like a fair deal! So fair, in fact, that one may have questioned whether Donald Trump himself had actually signed off on it. A simple reading of the administration’s tipping proposal, however, makes it clear why it appealed to the food and beverage purveyor -turned-president; while in theory it could narrow the pay gap between front- and back-of-house employees, in practice owners would not be required to distribute the money at all, and could instead use it any way they see fit (including, obviously, simply pocketing it).
Critics were quick to pan the plan. And they would likely have been even angrier, had the Department of Labor actually published the results of a study showing the extent to which repealing the rule would screw over workers. Instead, according to a report from Bloomberg Law, after Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was presented with an analysis showing that workers “could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal,” he first “ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact.” But, despite showing “progressively reduced tip losses,” the numbers still looked bad. So Acosta turned to option C:  bury the report. With the White House’s blessing, of course:

Acosta and his team [were] said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than re-distribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.
Team Trump has all but made it a policy to hide analysis that directly contradicts its aims. Last September, The New York Times reported that, in order to build a case for admitting the fewest number of refugees since 1980, data showing that refugees generated $63 billion more in revenue than they cost over the past decade had been conveniently left out of a Department of Health and Human Services report. That same month, The Wall Street Journal noted that the Treasury Department had removed a 2012 economic analysis that contradicted the administration’s claims that workers would benefit most from Trump’s giant corporate tax cut.
But hey, burger-flippers should totally trust the guy who wanted Andy Puzder — a fast-food mogul who prefers machines to human employees because ”there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex, or race discrimination case”—to serve in his Cabinet. It’s not as though Trump, who probably pines for the days when business owners didn’t have to comply with workplace health and safety laws that serve no other purpose than to eat into their profits, has done anything to suggest he’s not fully on the side of the little guy.
Paul Ryan will never stop fighting (to gut the social safety net)
Back in December, high off the successful passage of the tax bill, Paul Ryan lustily eyed the next item on his to-do list:  welfare “reform” — you know, in order to close the massive hole the tax bill is expected to blow in the deficit. Unfortunately for Ryan, who has dreamed of cutting off lazy takers since he was a boy, not everyone in the party was on the same page. Mitch McConnell shot down the idea, saying that the next item on the legislative agenda would have to be something bipartisan-friendly, like infrastructure. But Ryan is undeterred  . . . .

From our woman, Bess Levin, at "The Levin Report:"

At some point before midnight on Thursday, Congress will vote on a $300 billion spending deal that’s expected to pass, which is somewhat surprising given the number of people who think it sucks. According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the proposed deal will add $320 billion to deficits over the next 10 years ($418 billion when factoring in additional interest costs). For the 2019 fiscal year alone, the group expects the deficit to hit $1.2 trillion. Sending the national debt shooting toward the stratosphere is never a great look, but combined with Trump’s ill-timed tax cuts, it could prove especially dangerous for markets, which are already inching toward the edge of a cliff.
“[This is] exactly the opposite of what the economic textbooks say lawmakers should be doing,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told Bloomberg, adding, “Deficit-financed tax cuts and spending increases in a full-employment economy will result in more Fed tightening and higher interest rates.” That, in turn, will likely cause investors to flip out like they have been for the past several days. “An increase in debt instruments, people dumping bonds and concerns about higher inflation — that is a toxic combination,” said Alexis Crow, head of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s geopolitical investing group. “Since the crisis, debt has not disappeared. It’s an unsustainable situation.”
Lawmakers are, if possible, even more skeptical. For far-right conservatives, the agreement represents about 300 billion more dollars than they’re willing to spend, and, if you ask Freedom Caucus member Mark Sanford, may hasten the apocalypse. “I think that this is ultimately a deal that makes us weaker as a civilization,“ the South Carolina representative told reporters, before adding that “it makes president Obama look like a master of financial restraint,” which is quite the statement given that Republicans like Sanford acted like Obama was Satan with a black card the entire time he was in office. (Jesus, of course, was a real miser.) On the left, people like Nancy Pelosi are fine with “the product,” but have a problem with “the process,” wherein Paul Ryan has refused to commit to holding a vote on legislation that would address the fate of immigrants whose DACA status will expire in March.
On the bright side, there are some people who think the proposed deal is great! They include:  racehorse owners and NASCAR, both of which are getting tax breaks; a school in Kentucky called Berea College, which will be exempted from a provision in last year’s tax bill that imposes a new tax on higher-education endowments; and rum producers, who will also enjoy their own tax breaks. Mazel!
Donald Trump finds a new and unique way to be an asshole
They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wasn’t possible. They said how could he, when he’s seemingly exhausted all possible avenues for an achievement like this? They underestimated him, yet again:
The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they have received certain public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted proposed new rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.
For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.
The draft, which reads a lot like it was written by senior adviser Stephen “white American males should be a protected class ”Miller, states:  “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations. An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States.” As a reminder, when the administration was trying to make the case that the U.S. should restrict the number of refugees it allows into the country to the lowest levels since 1980, it conveniently left out data that showed refugees generate $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost over the last decade. So take the latest immigrants are a drain on the economy and preventing us from Making America Great Again screed with a grain of salt.
Lawmakers would like to know why Mick Mulvaney is reportedly giving Equifax a free pass
The half of the U.S. population that was affected by the company’s data breach are probably interested, too:
A group of 31 U.S. senators said on Thursday they had written to the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (C.F.P.B.) demanding information on the consumer watchdog’s stalled probe into credit reporting agency Equifax Inc’s massive data breach.
The letter adds to mounting pressure on Mick Mulvaney, the interim head of the C.F.P.B., to resume a full-scale probe into the company after Reuters reported that the bureau had pulled back from an investigation into how hackers were able to steal data Equifax had gathered on around 143 million Americans.