Saturday, September 23, 2017

The End of the World, Again, Cont., Again, Part 2 (It Never Ends!

Trump's a CON Man, but who cares!

"Unsealed, an evangelical Christian publication, foretells the Rapture in a viral, four-minute YouTube video, complete with special effects and ominous doomsday soundtrack. It’s called 'September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.'

Why Sept. 23, 2017?

Meade’s prediction is based largely on verses and numerical codes in the Bible. He has homed in one number: 33.

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

He points to the Book of Revelation, which he said describes the image that will appear in the sky on that day, when Nibiru is supposed to rear its ugly head, eventually bringing fire, storms and other types of destruction.

The book describes a woman 'clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head' who gives birth to a boy who will 'rule all the nations with an iron scepter' while she is threatened by a red seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

The belief, as previously described by Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, is that the constellation Virgo — representing the woman — will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo — in her womb, in Ray’s interpretation — will move out of Virgo, as though she is giving birth.

To make clear, Meade said he’s not saying the world will end Saturday. Instead, he claims, the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks."

Read the Washington Post, The world as we know it is about to end — again — if you believe this biblical doomsday claim., which notes that Hedgehog News published a "story with a headline that appears to give credence to the doomsday claim — and was published in the Science section under the label “Planets.”

Republi-cons are such suckers for snake oil salesmen.

Any question how The Donald got elected.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Trump Has No Principles, CONt.

UPDATE II:  So Trump has no principles, does it matter?  No!

"His base will stick with him no matter what — no matter how loudly and how often the other self-styled leaders of that base take to Twitter or talk radio or any other platform to bleat that Trump has betrayed them. . .

[For his supporters, i]t’s the personality that keeps them, not the policies.

And that Trump base is not going anywhere now. They are not Coulter’s book-buying base, they are not King’s Republican voting base and they will never be Bannon’s populist base. Trump’s base is Trump’s base, period, and there is nothing that Hannity, Breitbart or King will ever be able to do to change that fact. Trump fans stick with Trump through thick and thin. If you don’t believe me, just ask President Clinton."

Read the Washington Post, With Trump, it is never over.

UPDATE: "At 6:11 Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted that despite news reports to the contrary, he and Democratic congressional leaders had reached 'no deal' on protections for young undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

At 6:20 a.m., after a night of fretting by his supporters, he tweeted that the big, beautiful border wall he had long promised 'will continue to be built.'

Then, at 6:28 a.m., he tweeted a duo of missives outlining the very deal he claimed didn’t exist.

Confusion reigned.

The tweets underscore the sense of chaos the president brings to bear on just about everything he encounters — a Midas touch of low-grade uncertainty he seems to sow in others and exhibit himself while operating comfortably from within the maelstrom. . .

But even as Trump careens toward the sort of immigration deal that has eluded previous presidents — the latest capstone to a period of 10 days of sustained bipartisan overtures — the process exhibits certain Trumpian hallmarks: namely, a lack of clarity.

Often, Trump’s underlings, friends, foes and allies never know quite where he stands — in part because of the president’s penchant for telling his immediate audience exactly what they want to hear in any given moment. People who meet with the president frequently leave buoyed, an optimism punctured by a nagging question mere hours later: What just happened? . .

The immigration episode raised nearly as many questions as it answered. But for now, perhaps the most important one remains: Is a deal by any other name — like, say, 'no deal,' as the president described on Twitter — really a deal?"

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Democrats strike DACA deal. Yes? No? Sort of? Trump’s world can be confusing.

"President Trump prepared for the pivotal meeting with congressional leaders by huddling with his senior team — his chief of staff, his legislative director and the heads of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — to game out various scenarios on how to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide Hurricane Harvey relief.

But one option they never considered was the that one the president ultimately chose: cutting a deal with Democratic lawmakers, to the shock and ire of his own party.

In agreeing to tie Harvey aid to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and government funding, Trump burned the people who are ostensibly his allies. The president was an unpredictable — and, some would say, untrustworthy — negotiating partner with not only congressional Republicans but also with his Cabinet members and top aides. Trump saw a deal that he thought was good for him — and he seized it.

The move should come as no surprise to students of Trump’s long history of broken alliances and agreements. In business, his personal life, his campaign and now his presidency, Trump has sprung surprises on his allies with gusto. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him.

He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself.

'It makes all of their normalizing and 'Trumpsplaining' look silly and hollow,' said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist sharply critical of Trump, referring to his party’s congressional leaders. 'Trump betrays everyone: wives, business associates, contractors, bankers and now, the leaders of the House and Senate in his own party. They can’t explain this away as [a] 15-dimensional Trump chess game. It’s a dishonest person behaving according to his long-established pattern.'"

Read the Washington Post, ‘Trump betrays everyone’: The president has a long record as an unpredictable ally.

Read also Trump's Big CON: Trump Has No Morality (or Principles).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Loves Welfare, For Corporations (The Wisconsin Foxconn Jobs CON, CONt.)

UPDATE:  "Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil.

At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo. The government had high expectations that the project would yield 100,000 jobs.

Six years later, Brazil is still waiting for most of those jobs to materialize.

'The area where Foxconn said it would build a plant is totally abandoned,' said Guilherme Gazzola, the mayor of Itu, one of the cities that hoped to benefit from the project. 'They haven’t even expressed an interest in meeting us.' . .

Today, Foxconn employs only about 2,800 workers in Brazil.

Foxconn does the 'big song and dance, bringing out the Chinese dragon dancers, ribbon cuttings, toasts and signature of the usual boilerplate agreements,' said Alberto Moel, an investor and adviser to early-stage tech companies who until recently was a technology analyst at the research firm Sanford C. Bernstein. 'Then, when it gets down to brass tacks, something way smaller materializes.' . .

Foxconn’s plans also fizzled in Pennsylvania. In 2013, the company, which has a small office in Harrisburg, said it intended to build a $30 million factory in the state that could employ 500 workers. The plant has yet to be built. . .

After the election, Foxconn joined a parade of global companies bearing promises.

Jack Ma, the executive chairman of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba, arrived at Trump Tower in New York and pledged to create one million jobs in America. Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank of Japan, said his company would invest $50 billion in the United States. And at around the same time, Foxconn said it was planning to build production facilities in the United States."

Read The New York Times, Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come.

"President Donald Trump’s quest to open more factories and corporate headquarters in the U.S. scored a major win Thursday as Wisconsin lawmakers approved the biggest corporate subsidy package ever awarded to a foreign company.

But if Trump’s policies -- including his call to slash the corporate income-tax rate to 15 percent -- succeed in spurring more U.S. plant openings, the $3 billion in state aid that Wisconsin ponied up for Foxconn Technology Group may be only the beginning. Some analysts foresee a rush of new state-level subsidies and tax breaks as governors compete for any new facilities built by companies suddenly flush with newfound tax savings.

Call it tax reform in reverse".

Read Bloomberg, Trump’s Push for U.S. Jobs May Spur Boom in ‘Corporate Welfare’.

Read also Trump's Big CON: The Wisconsin Foxconn Jobs CON.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trumps' Big CON: Even If He Is Not Racist, Trump Uses Racism, CONt. Part 2

"In the first three months after Trump won the presidency, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded an astonishing 1,372 hate incidents, nearly all of them election-related. A deep dive into the data reveals that nearly half of these incidents involve people referencing Trump, either by name or by parroting his rhetoric: groups of white thugs intimidating minorities while chanting 'Trump,' for instance, or swastika graffiti accompanied by the words 'Make America White Again.' The cold, hard fact that racist thugs shout and chant Trump’s name (something we all saw happening in Charlottesville) while threatening and intimidating minorities should give us all pause — particularly the president himself.

This, really, is the crux of the problem the nation faces: not Trump’s fumblings and prevarications or his reflexive reliance on 'both sides do it' equivocation, but his steadfast refusal to acknowledge his overpowering role in the toxic violence that is being plotted and carried out on his behalf. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump played footsie with these groups, retweeting their hashtags and memes, refusing to disavow David Duke one day and then issuing an anodyne and plainly insincere disavowal the next.

At one point during the campaign, after news broke that white nationalists were placing robo-calls on Trump’s behalf, the media eventually elicited a perfunctory disavowal from him, but he also rationalized them: 'People are angry, they’re angry at what’s going on. They’re angry at the border, they’re angry at the crime.'

His alt-right fan base invariably interpreted these remarks in the most generous light: 'If he disavowed us, he did it, I thought, in the nicest possible way,' white nationalist Jared Taylor said after the flap over the robo-calls.

Most of all, the radical right uniformly expressed the view that Trump was advancing its agenda. 'The success of the Trump campaign just proves that our views resonate with millions,' Rachel Pendergraft, leader of the KKK-based Knights Party, told me. 'They may not be ready for the Ku Klux Klan yet, but as anti-white hatred escalates, they will.'

If Trump really were a normal politician, he would not want his name associated with these kinds of ideologies, nor the hateful acts their followers engage in. A man of presidential dignity and decency would make clear, irrevocably, that these hatemongers should consider him their enemy, not their 'glorious leader,' as some neo-Nazis are wont to call him.

Instead, Trump constantly stonewalled and equivocated, shifted blame to the victims of the violence and suggested that these acts were being faked by the left to make the right look bad. The pattern remained intact all the way through Charlottesville, when his initial response failed to call out the presence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. His alt-right fan base was correspondingly joyous: Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer responded on social media: 'He said he loves us all.' They were universally delighted by Trump’s later remarks defending the Charlottesville marchers. Duke thanked Trump for his 'honesty and courage.'

Even if Trump were to reverse course, wittingly or not, the president has empowered and unleashed an army of true believers over the course of the past year and a half. The alt-right is a profoundly anti-democratic movement, openly hostile to the institutions of voting and the underlying concepts of equality of opportunity. Its adherents are organized, numerous, angry and prone to violence. Its emergence on the political scene will be a major challenge in the years ahead for those of us who still believe in, value and cherish our democratic institutions.

And under Trump’s banner, they will not be going away anytime soon."

Read the Washington Post, White supremacists have been marching in President Trump’s name. Literally., which concludes:

"Disavowing hate groups won't work if they still see him as an inspiration."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Don't Blame Immigrants, Thank Them

Despite what The Donald would have you think, immigrants built this country.

The United States in the 19th century "was diverse, fed off immigration, was constantly changing, and was not really walled off from the world. Any suggestion otherwise is factually wrong."

Read NPR, FACT CHECK: Were The 1800s Steve Bannon's Kind Of America?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt. Part 2

UPDATE:  "Either Trump deceived GOP leaders, or they ignored the collusion."

Read The New Republic, What Did Republicans Know About the Russia Scandal? America Deserves an Answer.

Putin's Russia is "an international crime syndicate".

The Donald helped him by using Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money. 

And in return, Putin helped "propel a failed real estate developer into the White House."

Read The New Republic, Trump’s Russian Laundromat.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Republi-CONs Get Trump'ed

UPDATE V:  "Barely a few hours after Democrats announced that they had reached a tentative deal with President Trump on protecting the “dreamers,” Trump unleashed a steaming-hot morning tweetstorm that seemed to suggest that there was no deal at all.

But make no mistake: If you read between the lines, Trump’s tweets actually signal the clear outlines of a deal that would, in fact, protect hundreds of thousands of young people brought here illegally as children, on terms that might end up proving acceptable to all sides — with the crucial exception of a few very loud voices on the right, who may be able to derail any such deal, as will be argued below."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s latest tweetstorm signals major concessions may lie ahead.

UPDATE IV:  Meanwhile, The Donald is "basically defending a deal that he says hasn't been reached.

So this is basically an argument over the word 'deal.' (The Post, notably, is calling it an agreement 'to work on [a] deal,' which seems the best way to phrase it.) Democrats say they have reached an agreement with Trump; Trump and the White House were suggesting there is an agreement, but emphasizing that there is no 'deal' since it hasn't been finalized. Nobody really disagrees.

The White House's responses Thursday morning seem to be more an effort to cover their own hides with the base than anything else. Maybe the agreement will eventually fall apart when the particulars of the deal begin to be worked out, and Democrats balk at the amount of border security? Maybe the White House has gotten cold feet after the likes of Breitbart and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) have utterly denounced the deal? (The former is calling him 'AMNESTY DON.' The latter says such a deal would mean the 'Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair.')

But the indications we're getting from both sides are actually pretty similar."

Read the Washington Post, The White House’s non-denial denials on its DACA deal with Democrats.

UPDATE III:  "President Trump on Wednesday vowed not to cut taxes for the wealthy, extolled the virtues of bipartisanship as leading to “some of the greatest legislation ever passed” and then — in a surprise move announced deep into the night — agreed to cut a deal with Democrats saving hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation.

That Trump did all of that while declaring himself 'a conservative' only heightened the sense of surrealism that has wafted through the nation’s capital over the past eight days, as the president has expressed a newfound, if tentative, willingness to work across the aisle — a development that has left many Republicans chagrined and some Democrats cautiously optimistic.

Trump’s outreach suggested that an unexpected deal he reached last week with Democrats may not have been an aberration. . .

Trump now believes that Republicans — who control both the House and the Senate — cannot be trusted to carry bills to passage by themselves and views it as his burden to create a better environment for his legislative agenda to garner support. What matters to him, one Republican lawmaker said, is 'putting wins on the board — not the specifics.'

Instead of relentlessly courting members of the conservative, and often intractable, House Freedom Caucus, as he did on health care, Trump wants them to 'feel the burn a little bit,' the lawmaker added, framing the new outreach as Trump’s way of reminding conservatives in both chambers that he likes them but does not need them.

'They’re not the only player he’s willing to play with,' said Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman. 'He’s saying to them, 'I’ll be a free-range president.'' . .

Moderate Republicans, in particular, have cheered this development, after long feeling sidelined inside the House as Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives have rebelled against their party’s leadership.

Trump’s conservative critics, however, said his latest gestures reflect his liberal instincts on some issues and his intense desire for popularity.

'He’s always had that itch to liberate himself from the Republican Party,' said William Kristol, a Trump critic and editor at large of the Weekly Standard magazine. 'He ran against it in 2015 and 2016, and has attacked it in 2017. He wants to win and doesn’t care about the substance of winning.'

Kristol added, 'Democratic voters may loathe Trump, but he could conceivably give them lots of policy victories.'

Democrats say they are focused only on working with the president on areas where they believe they can get what they want in terms of their priorities, including protections for the dreamers and federal health-care subsidies for Obamacare. . .

On other issues and with this president, many Democrats remain wary."

Read the Washington Post, ‘A new strategy’ for Trump? Democrats cautious but encouraged by fresh outreach.

UPDATE II:  "Staunch conservative allies of President Trump have erupted in anger and incredulity after Democrats late Wednesday announced that the president had agreed to pursue a legislative deal that would protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation but not secure Trump’s signature campaign promise: building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. . .

[As the news spread, Republi-CONs were in such an uproar that] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted at 10:21 p.m.: 'While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.'

Eleven minutes later, Matt House, an adviser to Schumer, tweeted: 'The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.'

Sanders’s Twitter assurance, however, did little to calm the roiled voices, especially in the populist-nationalist wing of the Republican Party — a wing deeply linked to Trump.

'Deep State Wins, Huge Loss for #MAGA,' Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs tweeted, alluding to Trump’s 'Make America Great Again' campaign slogan."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s die-hard supporters are fuming after an apparent about-face on ‘dreamers’.

Who would have thouht, you can't trust a CON Man.

UPDATE:  "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) promised Obamacare repeal, funding for the wall and tax reform, all by the end of August. For the GOP, it is now September, both literally and metaphorically.

In the spring of their hopes, Republican leaders placed a bet — which seemed reasonable at the time — that they could contain President Trump and pass legislation despite him. This required looking away from the uglier aspects of Trump’s appeal — his Twitter transgressions, his appallingly frenzied rallies, his rule by ridicule. All this was worth swallowing because Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would pass their conservative agenda.

The wager was large and lost. The attempt to revive a health-care alternative in the Senate seems halfhearted and doomed by the same ideological dynamics that killed the legislation the first time. Republican enthusiasm for the Mexican border wall is limited by the fact that it is among the most wasteful, impractical and useless ideas ever spouted by an American president. And ambitious tax reform has been tabled in favor of a few tax cuts that are likely to reaffirm public impressions that the “P” in GOP stands for “plutocracy.”

In the process, Republican leaders have been made to look hapless and pathetic, not least because Trump has taken to taunting them. A president incapable of legislative leadership mocks the ineffectiveness of Republican legislators, publicly humiliates them on the debt-limit deal, then revels in the (very temporary) friendship of 'Chuck and Nancy' — Democratic leaders Schumer and Pelosi.

Those Republicans who believe that Trump is being cynical, disloyal or politically calculating continue to misunderstand the man. The president has no discernible political philosophy or strong policy views to betray. His leadership consists mainly of instincts, reflexes and prejudices, which often have nothing to do with self-interest. He has a genius for fame, which usually involves attention-attracting unpredictability and transgressiveness. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of policy. During legislative debates on issues such as health care, Trump has been erratic, unfocused, impatient and frighteningly ignorant. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of politics. The president takes it as an accomplishment to secure the support of about 35 percent of the public. This leaves Republicans in the worst of political worlds, where the intensity of Trump’s base is increased by words and policies that alienate the majority — making Trump a powerful force within the party and a scary, galvanizing figure beyond it. The damage is broad, profound and generational. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll recorded 26 percent approval for the president among those aged 18 to 34.

The wager has been a moral disaster. News accounts following Trump’s betrayal of Republican leaders on the debt limit reported them to be 'livid.' What does it tell us about Republican politicians that they were livid about a three-month debt-limit extension but not so much about misogyny, nativism and flirtation with racism?"

Read the Washington Post, GOP leaders made a huge wager — and they’re losing.

"Trump’s not becoming an independent. His deals with Democrats and Bannon’s threats are signs that the hostile takeover of the GOP is just getting started.

There is no precedent for President Trump’s political maneuverings at the expense of his own party. Only a president with no longstanding ties to the GOP or political experience would have even considered something like his astonishing ambush of the Republican congressional leadership last week, in which Trump cut a deal with the Democrats at the expense of his supposed allies.

Trump is unbound by any loyalty to the party that nominated him or to men such as House speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell. To the contrary, he regards them as foes in a cold war against a political establishment he neither likes nor trusts. As former aide turned independent cheerleader Steve Bannon noted on 60 Minutes Sunday night, Ryan and McConnell oppose Trump’s populist agenda that they rightly perceive as contradicting the conservative views that unite most Republicans.

But those who think that what is happening is a genuine revolution that will, as the New York Times put it in an analysis published on the front page of their Sunday edition, “Upend 150 Years of Two-Party Rule,” are mistaken. Trump is not a true Republican, nor is he anyone’s idea of a conservative. Nothing like Trump has ever happened before in American political history, and the long-term consequences of his presidency are still unknowable. . .

The uneasy coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign-policy hawks, libertarians, and social conservatives that elected Ronald Reagan and sustained Republicans in the decades since then may have been fatally fractured. . .

[T]he two-party system is safe. We can’t know exactly what a post-Trump Republican party will look like, but we can be sure that it will be very different from the conservative party that nominated the Bushes, John McCain, and Mitt Romney and that not many in the grassroots will mourn it."

Read National Review, Trump’s Republican Civil War.

Trump's Big CON: He Was For the Debt Ceiling, Before He Would Be Responsible

"President Trump on Thursday signaled openness to a proposal to effectively eliminate the federal limit on government borrowing, a dramatic reversal from his view as a candidate and the long-standing position of the Republican Party that the debt limit should be raised only if other steps are taken to restrain the size of government.

On Wednesday, Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D–N.Y.) reached what one senior White House official called a 'gentlemen’s agreement' to develop a plan that would no longer require Congress to routinely raise the limit on government borrowing.

Details have not been worked out, and any plan would require approval from congressional Republicans, but the shift signifies a remarkable political evolution for Trump, who has long cheered weaponizing the debt ceiling, no matter the cost. . .

All told, the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960, under Democrats and Republicans. It is unclear what would happen if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling. Wall Street analysts and economists have speculated that it would lead to a large economic crisis, as the U.S. government would effectively no longer be standing behind its debt.

Trump is the first president who had openly cheered using the debt ceiling as a political straitjacket against the White House. He has endorsed many of the Republican Party’s proposals to enforce sweeping spending cuts to programs like Medicaid, leading many lawmakers to think that he would help them use the debt ceiling to cram these changes through Congress.

But since January, Trump has showed little interest in using the debt ceiling the way he wanted to before taking office."

Read the Washington Post, Debt-ceiling shift signifies a remarkable political evolution for Trump.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary (CONt., Part 2)

"Two new investigative reports out today vividly describe in fresh detail the scope and scale of President Trump’s business conflicts of interests, and the damage they are inflicting on our political system.

The reports, taken together, raise the question: Can our system handle the unprecedented conflicts and self-dealing that this president is engaged in?

The two investigative reports, one from USA Today and the other from the government watchdog group Public Citizen, together show how Trump’s refusal to divest himself from his global business holdings has created a new ecosystem, outside the view of the public and the oversight capabilities of other branches of government. In the new Trump ecosystem, the world’s wealthiest people and corporations can buy direct access to the president, simultaneously lining his pockets while achieving their own personal or policy goals. . .

The USA Today report shows how Trump, despite his claims that he would “drain the swamp” of lobbyists, has simply given wealthy people direct access to him. All they have to do is pay the hefty membership fees at one of his private golf clubs. Initiation fees can exceed $100,000, and members pay annual dues on top of that. . .

Meanwhile, the Public Citizen report, aptly titled 'President Trump, Inc.,' is even more shocking, if that’s possible. It details how Trump’s promise before assuming office to transfer control of his business empire to his sons 'merely amounted to reshuffling his businesses holdings, with himself remaining the ultimate beneficiary.' Under this 'meaningless shell game,' Public Citizen notes, 'each of the entities to which Trump transferred his assets ended up under the control of a revocable trust that operates for the benefit of Trump.' As a result, Trump is open to being paid, influenced, and, as the report warns, even 'leveraged' by an adversary — suggesting that some might try buying access to influence the president’s actions, while others might use information about his business liabilities against him, possibly making him vulnerable to a different sort of manipulation. . .

In the old days, meaning as recently as a year ago, rich people and corporations looking to influence government would donate to political campaigns and Super PACs. Trump has made all of that superfluous to influencing his presidency, with the added bonus (for him) that the payments increase his personal wealth. . .

But the GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to act to rein in Trump’s ethical transgressions when it comes to his self-dealing. With no accountability, Trump will continue to rewrite the rules, opening the door for a future of of new abuses — perhaps some that, just as in the pre-Trump era, we cannot even imagine now."

Read the Washington Post, What if our system can’t handle Trump’s out-of-control self-dealing?

Read also:

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary, and

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary (CONt.).

Trump's Big CON: His 'Successful' Business Experience Will Make Him a Great Government Leader, CONt.

UPDATE:  "Every month, the Trump administration proves that public-sector experience is necessary for a functioning government. Private-sector experience is a poor substitute."

Read the Washington Post, The best and the brightest in the Trump administration … and everyone else, which sarcastically asks:

"Who could have guessed that past experience in government would be a plus for governing?"

"Trump certainly exploited the notion that one doesn’t need expertise to serve in the West Wing — or any part of government. The experts were 'stupid' and didn’t know how to make deals, according to him. Businessmen can show how to run things! Wrong. It turns out that knowing something about policy, understanding how Congress and the bureaucracy operate, maintaining one’s credibility and respecting the constitutional guardrails that make certain our president is not a monarch are essential to success. . .

It turns out — who knew? — that when the president has no idea what he’s doing and his senior advisers don’t either, the president cannot get his agenda through, ricochets from one scandal to another and winds up with historically low approval ratings. . .

Business is business, and government is government. Sometimes public servants go on to illustrious careers in the private sector, but rarely does someone with no government experience nor subject expertise come in at the highest level of government and succeed. The government depends on experienced, knowledgeable and sober-minded public servants. We truly hope the rule of the amateurs and know-nothings is brief, and that the few experienced hands that remain (mostly military or ex-military men) hold things together until a fit president and an administration of qualified and competent people can be found."

Read the Washington Post, What happens when know-nothings and amateurs hold power.

Read also Trump's Big CON: His 'Successful' Business Experience Will Make Him a Great Government Leader.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Qu'ils Mangent de la Brioche Edition (AKA The Trump Populism CON)

UPDATE IV:  "The embarrassments of the Mnuchins are of the sort everyone can get: A former movie and hedge fund mogul said to be worth $300 million, responsible for the safekeeping of the taxpayer’s dollar, tries to procure a taxpayer-funded jet on a honeymoon with his expensively wardrobed, bejeweled former actress wife. . .

Mnuchin is indeed a man of great fortune. But he has the misfortune, under the circumstances, of having a name that rhymes, or rhymes close enough, with 'mooching.'

This was not lost on Twitter Wednesday night

Behold: 'The moochin’ Mnuchins.'"

Read the Washington Post, ‘The moochin’ Mnuchins’: Treasury secretary again is fodder for rich humor.

UPDATE III:  "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested a military jet to fly him and his wife, Louise Linton, to their European honeymoon this summer, raising questions again about the wealthy couple's use of government aircraft. . .

An Air Force spokesman told ABC News, which first reported the story, that the jet would cost $25,000 an hour to operate, though it is unclear if that included costs like maintenance and fuel. . .

Last month, Mnuchin and Linton took a government aircraft to Kentucky on a trip that involved viewing the solar eclipse, drawing wide condemnation and accusations that the former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood producer was using public funds for potentially voluntary travel as Trump seeks to rein in government waste.

The Kentucky trip ended within miles of the path of totality, the narrow band across the United States where the moon totally blotted out the sun during the solar eclipse. Mnuchin viewed it from one of the most restricted sites in the world: Fort Knox. . .

Linton, an actress, drew intense scrutiny after she posted an Instagram glamour shot of herself deplaning and tagged a host of high-end designers such as Hermes and Valentino in the photo, then called a critic who was offended at the idea of publicly funded travel 'adorably out of touch.'"

Read the Washington Post, Mnuchin eclipses earlier backlash with pricey request: European honeymoon by military jet.

UPDATE II:  "In a single Instagram post, Linton managed to tap into elitism, narcissism, self-righteousness, incivility, apathy and blonde privilege — all wrapped up in a designer package. Linton was so pleased with how chic she looked deplaning that she wanted to share that image on social media. The whole running-the-country thing was straight out of central casting. The couple looked the part. But even the best actors will tell you that beautiful costumes can’t compensate for a lousy narrative."

Read the Washington Post, Louise Linton just spelled out her value system for you common folk.

UPDATE:  "Before Louise Linton’s bizarre Instagram exchange Monday and before her lavish June wedding to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the wealthy Scottish actress wrote a memoir about her gap year in Zambia in the late 1990s.

The book, self-published last year, was condemned by the Zambian government, scorched by critics as a 'white savior' fantasy and ultimately removed from sales, according to the Telegraph and the Scotsman. . .

The memoir, it turns out, was also littered with inaccuracies, as Zambians pointed out on social media.

The Zambian High Commission in London denounced Linton and her 'falsified' memoir for depicting the country as 'savage.' It accused Linton of 'tarnishing the image of a very friendly and peaceful country.'"

Read the Washington Post, Treasury secretary’s wife stirred controversy before, with memoir of her ‘living nightmare’ in Africa.

"'Let them eat cake' is the traditional translation of the French phrase 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche', supposedly spoken by 'a great princess' upon learning that the peasants had no bread. Since brioche was a luxury bread enriched with butter and eggs, the quote would reflect the princess's disregard for the peasants, or her poor understanding of their situation. . .

The quotation, as attributed to Marie Antoinette, was claimed to have been uttered during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband, Louis XVI. Upon being alerted that the people were suffering due to widespread bread shortages, the Queen is said to have replied, 'Then let them eat brioche.' Although this anecdote was never cited by opponents of the monarchy at the time of the French Revolution, it did acquire great symbolic importance in subsequent histories when pro-revolutionary historians sought to demonstrate the obliviousness and selfishness of the French upper classes at that time."

Today, our "elites" have social media where they can boast of their wealth, and mock the common people.

And so it was that "U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later. . .

When someone posted a comment on Linton's Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, the treasury secretary's wife swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control.

'Did you think this was a personal trip?!' Linton wrote on her Instagram page, responding to the person who had written 'glad we could pay for your little getaway.' . .

Linton continued in her response to the critic: 'Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.'"

Read the Washington Post, Treasury secretary’s wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts Hermes and Valentino fashion.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trumps' Big CON: Even If He Is Not Racist, Trump Uses Racism, CONt. (AKA Another Big Shout Out to Birthers & Other Racist, CONt.)

UPDATE IV:  "It’s a long-running talking point spouted by Trump administration members and the president himself: Undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from black and Hispanic Americans. . .

Here’s the problem: immigrant and native-born workers are imperfect substitutes. There is no evidence that the unemployed Americans, be they black, white or Hispanic, have the skills necessary to hold the same jobs occupied by the young beneficiaries of the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. . .

Trump and his supporters have often pitted minority groups against one another. But there is no broad economic justification to do so.

'Cannibalizing stigmatized and marginalized groups against each other serves the wealthy interests that benefit from such divisive colonial and labor segmenting tactics,' [Darrick Hamilton, an economics and urban policy professor at The New School] said."

Read the Washington Post, White House claims ‘dreamers’ take jobs away from blacks and Hispanics. Here’s the truth.

UPDATE III:  "President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was both unsurprising — given the campaign he ran — and politically perilous. It also highlights a divide that goes deeper even than immigration, one we can see in vivid detail in a couple of new surveys that were just released.

While Republicans have long been the party for those who want to conserve the past and Democrats the party for those who are more inclined to embrace change and progress, Trump has driven a gigantic wedge through that divide. Seldom have we seen a president whose message to voters is so clearly, 'If you can’t stand what our country has become, I’m your man.' This is only secondarily about policies and programs; mostly it’s about culture. And it’s possible that 2016 was the last time the GOP can be successful with that kind of appeal, at least in the near future. . .

But stoking anger at immigration wasn’t the whole story — it fit into a larger argument about an America that Trump voters felt had been lost. Their economic opportunities are more limited, their communities aren’t as vibrant as they once were, and the dominant culture embraces a set of cosmopolitan and socially liberal values they find alienating. Not only that, they feel, not without reason, that the culture sends them a message that their values are outdated, small-minded and in many cases simply wrong.

Now add in the fact that patterns of immigration have changed in the last decade or two, where Spanish-speaking immigrants are moving beyond the places they’ve always been (California, Texas, New York) and moving into areas that hadn’t had large numbers of these immigrants before. For some people, that change has been jarring — they see signs going up in Spanish, they see people who don’t look like them in communities that used to be nearly all-white, and it seems like one more symptom of change they don’t like.

Combine that with the kind of alienation older people in particular are always prone to feel from a culture that is in fact leaving them behind, for the simple reason that they’re getting older and cultures change. Their music is no longer what’s popular, current fashion trends seem stupid to them, they don’t feel comfortable navigating this new multicultural environment, and they long for a time when they were young and on top of the world.

Then along comes Trump, telling them that all those trends can be reversed. That’s what 'Make America Great Again' was about: turning back the clock to the time you look back on fondly, when it all made sense. You and people like you were in charge, creating the culture, making the future. . .

Whatever you think of their reaction, just like the broader group of Trump voters, white evangelicals are right in their assessment that their hegemonic cultural position has been eroded. It’s not just that their proportion of the population is dwindling, though it is. It’s also that the assumption that their culture is the culture no longer holds. Now they have to accommodate themselves to a diverse society, in the way everyone else used to have to accommodate to them. They really have lost something, whether you think they should ever have had it in the first place.

Despite being in the minority, all these alienated voters were able to push Trump to victory in 2016".

Read the Washington Post, Trump won by championing alienated white and Christian voters. But will that ever work again?

Read also NBC News, Clinton Voters Divided Over a Changing America, which includes this graph:

UPDATE II:  "The Public Religion Research Institute recently conducted a massive poll of more than 100,000 Americans. Its results go a long way toward explaining the transformation of the GOP from a conservative party into one fueled and animated by white grievance. . .

In sum, if you want to know why white grievance (a burning anger about the loss of status and influence of 'people like them') and know-nothingism play such an enormous part in today’s Republican Party, look for the answer in these numbers. The views of the shrinking white evangelical population now dominate the GOP. Other polling shows that the group dismisses the extent of racism directed at minorities, immigrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, while exaggerating the extent of discrimination against whites. It’s this group that was motivated in the 2016 election not by economics but by cultural and racial grievance, which now is at the heart of President Trump’s message . . .

Trying to explore the economic dislocation associated with globalism is a worthy policy exercise. It is not, however, going to explain Trumpism, which has little to do with economics and everything to do with race.

One can understand why logic and facts are no match for irrational resentment. Trump captured, stirred and magnified the animosity these voters feel about their laundry list of villains (immigrants, elites, urbanites, the media or any other sources of information that undercut their irrational views, etc.) As a political matter, it is hard to figure out how to wean people from the grip of an irrational sense of persecution and racial resentment. They are unmoved by data showing that immigrants are not harming them. They refuse to acknowledge that by every measurement, whites are not disadvantaged in our society."

Read the Washington Post, The demographic change fueling the angst of Trump’s base.

UPDATE:  "One of the biggest mysteries of Donald Trump’s presidency has been white evangelicals’ steadfast and enthusiastic support for him. Unlike Mormons, who saw a nearly 20-point falloff in support for Trump compared with their typical support for Republican presidential candidates, white evangelicals' support for Trump was in line with, and even slightly higher than, their 2004 support for fellow evangelical George W. Bush (81% vs. 78%, respectively), according to the exit polls.

And unlike Trump’s arts council and economic advisory councils, which saw so many resignations that the committees themselves dissolved, Trump’s evangelical advisory committee has seen just one resignation and is standing by their man.

While many may want to simply dismiss this turn of events as pure hypocrisy, anyone seeking understanding will want to look deeper. White evangelicals branded themselves as “values voters.” That they could support Trump as strongly as Bush and more resolutely than arts and business leaders ought to serve as a signal that something dramatic has happened in the interim. . .

The engines of white evangelical decline are complex, but they are a combination of external factors, such as demographic change in the country as a whole, and internal factors, such as religious disaffiliation — particularly among younger adults who find themselves at odds with conservative Christian churches on issues like climate change and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. As a result, the median age of white evangelical Protestants is now 55, and the median age of religiously unaffiliated Americans is 37. While 26% of seniors (65 and older) are white evangelicals, only 8% of Americans younger than 30 claim this identity.

The evangelical alliance with Trump can be understood only in the context of these fading vital signs among white evangelicals. They are, in many ways, a community grieving its losses. After decades of equating growth with divine approval, white evangelicals are finding themselves on the losing side of demographic changes and LGBT rights, one of their founding and flagship issues. . .

Thinking about white evangelicals as a grieving community opens up new ways of understanding their behavior. Drawing on her interactions with dying patients and their families in the 1960s, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified at least five common “stages” of grief, which have become staples of understanding responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. As Kübler-Ross found, when the stubborn facts of one’s own demise don’t yield to denial or anger, people commonly attempt to make a grand deal to postpone the inevitable.

While there are some lingering pockets of denial, and anger was an all-too-visible feature of Trump’s presidential campaign, thinking about the white evangelical/Trump alliance as an end-of-life bargain is illuminating. It helps explain, for example, how white evangelical leaders could ignore so many problematic aspects of Trump’s character. When the stakes are high enough and the sun is setting, grand bargains are struck. And it is in the nature of these deals that they are marked not by principle but by desperation."

Read USA Today, Fading white evangelicals have made a desperate end-of-life bargain with Trump

"The Public Religion Research Institute released a massive new survey of American religious adherence today. Among other things it contained this stunning insight into the current state of our political parties:

Today, roughly three-quarters (73%) of the Republican Party is white Christian, but fewer than one-third (29%) of the Democratic Party identifies this way. . .

From a demographic standpoint, the modern Republican Party looks much like the America of 40 years ago — in 1976, for instance, 81 percent of Americans were white and Christian. Today white Christians account for just 43 percent of the population.

President Trump, who campaigned on a platform of making America great again, capitalized on white Americans' anxieties about these demographic changes in 2016. In September of that year he told Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network 'if we don’t win this election, you’ll never see another Republican and you’ll have a whole different church structure.'

He added 'I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you’re going to have people flowing across the border, you’re going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they’re going to be legalized and they’re going to be able to vote, and once that all happens you can forget it.'

Previous polling from PRRI showed how these messages resonated with white voters. After the election, fully two-thirds of Trump voters told PRRI the election represented 'the last chance to stop America’s decline.'"

Read the Washington Post, The stark racial and religious divide between Democrats and Republicans, in one chart.

Trump's Big CON: He Even Wants His Kids to Worship Him (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 14))

UPDATE:  Read also the Daily Mail, 'Daddy, can I come with you?' Trump makes toes curl with cringe-worthy Ivanka story before he parades his 'honey, baby' daughter on stage in North Dakota.

I'm not sure if this is funny, scary, or creepy!

Read the Washington Post, Ahead of North Dakota trip, Trump says daughter asked him: ‘Daddy, can I go with you?’, which states in full:

"During a speech about tax reform in North Dakota on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump recognized local lawmakers from both parties, a major GOP donor who made billions in the oil industry and his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who works in the White House as one of his top advisers.

“Everybody loves Ivanka,” the president said, readjusting his microphone as the crowd cheered. “Come up, honey. Should I bring Ivanka up? Come up.”

As the president's 35-year-old daughter made her way up to the stage, Trump kept talking.

'Sometimes they'll say: You know, he can't be that bad of a guy, look at Ivanka,' Trump said. 'Come on up, honey. She's so good. She wanted to make the trip. She said: 'Dad, can I go with you?' She actually said: 'Daddy, can I go with you?' I like that, right? 'Daddy, can I go with you?' I said: 'Yes, you can.' [She said,] 'Where are you going?' [I said,] 'North Dakota.' I said, 'Oh, I like North Dakota.' '

Ivanka Trump — a successful business executive in her own right who wrote a book about how women can advocate for themselves in the workplace -- flashed a huge, toothy smile as she walked onto stage and shook her father's hand. Throughout her father's career and now in the White House, Ivanka Trump often makes seemingly impromptu appearances like this one, stopping by her father's office during interviews with prominent political journalists or meetings with congressional leaders.

'Hi, honey,' the president said. 'Say something.'

'Hi, North Dakota,' Ivanka Trump said with a laugh. 'We love this state, so it's always a pleasure to be back here. You treated us very, very well in November, and have continued to, so we like showing the love back. Thank you.'

With a wave, she prepared to turn the stage back over to her father and boss, the president of the United States.

'Thank you, honey. Come,' Trump said, reaching for his daughter and pulling her in for a kiss on the cheek before she left the stage.

'And she means it,' Trump told the crowd. 'Believe me.'"

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Flip-Flopping Is Part of the Strategy (AKA It's All About the Show, Explained, CONt. Part 5)

"Before we begin, a brief current events quiz: What is President Trump’s position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to live and work here under certain conditions?

A. He wants to end it because it leads to crime.
B. He wants to keep it because he loves the participants.
C. He wants Congress to decide what to do with it.
D. He will decide what to do with it in six months.

The correct answer, of course, is E, all of the above.

On Tuesday, the Trump White House, in one form or another, embraced each of those options. . .

We’ve seen this dance before. On the campaign trail, Trump pledged sweeping, inexpensive health-care coverage for everybody. When Republican leaders in Congress started to put together a plan to overhaul Obamacare, that’s not what it looked like, but Trump went along with it anyway. As debate over a replacement unfolded, Trump vacillated on what he claimed to want, celebrating a House-passed bill and then deriding it as 'mean' and, in a matter of hours, flipping back and forth on whether he wanted to simply repeal the bill or to repeal and replace it or both.

Part of the problem is that Trump’s grasp of the nuance of these policies appears to be limited. . .

More broadly, though, this is very much in keeping with what we have come to expect from Trump. There are certain core principles to which he adheres, like that taxes are too high or that there should be a wall. Then there are things that he recognized as winners on the stump and which morphed into informal policy positions: replace Obamacare, no more amnesty for immigrants here illegally, drain the swamp. Those were things that got crazy amounts of applause at rallies, so he kept saying them.

In the White House, though, not everything that got applause on the trail earns that same reaction. Since Trump is highly motivated by the response he gets, he would rather have his positions exist in a state of uncertainty than finalize a plan and be criticized for it. . .

There are some contexts in which Trump has explicitly praised this strategy as deliberate. In foreign policy, for example, Trump has embraced the idea that he’ll never tip his hand as being smart and strategic in keeping our enemies off-balance. It was also an effective argument during the 2016 election when he could wave away questions about his strategy for dealing with the Islamic State by saying he didn’t want to give them a heads up (as though interviewers were requesting dates and times of particular operations). This strategy itself derives from one of the tenets he espoused in his dealmaking books: Maximize the options, and it’s easier to come out a winner.

While he’s not explicitly citing that strategy in the case of DACA, it seems pretty clear that he’s doing the same thing. If you can’t say for certain what Trump’s plan is, then you can’t get mad at him, right? . .

In recent years, politicians whose records are blank slates have seen a lot of success because it allows people to project onto them whatever they want to see. . .

Above all else, it seems, Trump wants to be liked. He wants his base to like him, so he axes DACA; he wants everyone else to like him so he pretends he didn’t. He’s happy as Schrodinger’s cat in that box (maybe), existing at one time in all possible states of public opinion — as long as one of them is approval."

Trump's Big CON: Is God Trying to Tell Us Something?

UPDATE:  Read the Washington Post, Earth’s revenge and demons in the wind: the most baffling theories about Hurricane Irma.

First, the (biblical?) floods in Houston.

Now read:

CNN, There are now three hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, and

The Washington Post, Hurricane Irma just slammed into Trump’s Caribbean estate — and is headed toward his Florida properties.

Of course not, but if this was Obama, the fundamentalist Christians would be spinning all types of claims.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He's a Big Government Republi-CON

"As they found out when they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Americans actually love big government. They might respond to all the vague rhetoric about self-reliance and getting government off their backs, but when it comes to the things government actually does, they want even more of it. They don’t want Medicaid slashed and tens of millions of people to lose their health coverage. When they got a look at the cruel free-market future for health care Republicans were offering, they recoiled in horror.

And then came these hurricanes, which reminded everybody that when your house floods or blows down, it’s the federal government you look to for help. There are no libertarians in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Even the Texas GOP, which has complete control of the state and loves nothing more than to shake its fist at gu’mint interference from Washington and tell those dastardly bureaucrats to get their noses out of the Lone Star State’s business, is now begging the federal government for a bailout. Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s so conservative he makes his predecessor Rick Perry look like Bernie Sanders, says he expects the American taxpayer to give his state between $150 and $180 billion. Not so self-reliant now, are we? . .

[A]t a fundamental level, it’s becoming clear the Trump years will not bring the transformation Republicans dreamed of when they imagined having complete control of the government. Americans aren’t clamoring for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy (although that might not be enough to stop Republicans from passing them). They don’t want the safety net cut to ribbons. They don’t want banks freed to do whatever they want. They actually like big government.

Republicans are always terrified that Democratic rule will end up validating and entrenching activist government, that given the chance . . . But now it appears that through a combination of incompetence, circumstance and the essential unpopularity of their agenda, it’ll be Republican rule that shows us all that big government is here to stay."

Read the Washington Post, The Republicans aren’t just losing. Big government is winning.

Trump's Big CON: It's a Family Business (AKA Like Father, Like Daughter, CONt.)

"Ivanka Trump is for working women the way her father is for the working class: In both cases, the Trumps really just want their money.

President Trump’s daughter built her brand around women’s 'empowerment,' by which I mean monetizing the anxieties and insecurities of stressed-out moms. . .

At best [her focus] “women’s issues” are hollow marketing, at worst a con. The game is to say whatever needs to be said to part a mark from her money, and then move on.

It’s a trick Ivanka Trump learned well from her father.

Papa Trump, after all, ran on a platform of helping the fabled Forgotten Man through promises to plump his paycheck, revive his obsoleted jobs, discount his health care and otherwise return him to his former economic and cultural glory.

None of this is happening, of course. It was all a scheme to take the Forgotten Man’s money.

I don’t just mean through the usual chintzy merchandizing route, by selling a spot on a brass plaque in Trump Tower for a $49 donation or hawking the $40 USA hats he wore during his recent Texas photo ops.

I mean the big money: the Forgotten Man’s entitlements.

Trump is hellbent on passing a massive tax cut for the rich. Right now the tax cut looks to be unfunded. Just because it isn’t being paid for now, though, doesn’t mean it will go unpaid-for forever.

Rosy scenario notwithstanding, at some point the U.S. government will have to make good on its accumulating debts, through some combination of future tax hikes and spending cuts. Already congressional Republicans are licking their chops at the prospect of using entitlement and other social-safety-net cuts to pay for lower tax rates for the wealthy, just as they attempted multiple times in (failed) Obamacare repeal bills.

In other words, a Trump is advertising empowerment but delivering its opposite. Like father, like daughter, as they say."

Read the Washington Post, Ivanka Trump has learned well from her father’s cons.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Eventually Truth Trumps the Lies

"It could not be more fitting that only 24 hours after scrapping protections for 800,000 young immigrants brought here illegally as children, President Trump is set to deliver a big speech extolling the need to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations. The juxtaposition captures the massive lie at the very heart of Trumpism as perfectly as anyone could ask for.

Two of Trump’s new tweets neatly bracket this big lie. In one tweet, Trump announced he will give a speech today in North Dakota calling for “tax reform and tax cuts,” arguing that “we are the highest taxed nation in the world.” This is itself a repeatedly debunked falsehood that Trump employs to push an agenda in tune with the trickle-down GOP economic orthodoxy he used as a foil during a campaign in which he portrayed himself as an economic populist.

In the other tweet, Trump asserted that Congress has six months to act to protect the “dreamers” via legislation and hinted that if Congress fails, he might renew the executive protections he just rescinded. But Trump has not told us what legislation along these lines he’d be willing to sign. There’s a reason for all this vagueness: Trump cannot come out squarely for protecting the dreamers, because that would reveal another side of his alleged economic populism — the demagoguing about immigrants threatening U.S. workers — to be hollow. . .

[L]et’s be clear on what this conflict is really about. Trump isn’t wrestling with a dilemma made difficult by two valid competing moral imperatives. He’s torn between (on one side) the reality of what it actually means to scrap protections for hundreds of thousands of people who know no other country, are thoroughly American, and just want to contribute positively to American life, and (on the other) the need to continue propping up his campaign lies about how deporting these people will boost American workers. The conflict is between the inescapably awful truth about the real life consequences of ending DACA, and the imagined need to continue making empty gestures to his core supporters."

Read the Washington Post, Trump is exposing the big lie at the core of Trumpism.

Trump's Big CON: (Said With Surprise -->) OMG! He's a CON Man After All!

UPDATE V:  "Chuck and Nancy and Donald and Ivanka seemed to thoroughly enjoy their meeting at the White House the other day. Mitch and Paul, not so much. . .

One thing that should be blindingly obvious by now is that political loyalty, for the president, is a one-way street. Yes, McConnell and Ryan embarrassed themselves and squandered precious political capital in a long, fruitless attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Yes, the Republican leaders have held their tongues time and again when Trump has manifested his unfitness for office. Yes, they have pretended not to notice the glaring conflicts of interest between Trump’s private business affairs and his public responsibilities.

Still, there was something brazen about the way events unfolded Wednesday. First, Ryan tells reporters that a short-term, three-month extension on the debt ceiling, tied to relief funds for Hurricane Harvey — an idea supported by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — was “ridiculous and disgraceful.” Then, in the Oval Office meeting, Trump stuns everyone by endorsing the Schumer-Pelosi plan — and agrees to work with the Democrats on repealing the debt ceiling altogether, according to The Post. Later, on Air Force One, Trump goes on about what a productive meeting he had with “Chuck and Nancy,” not bothering to mention the GOP congressional leaders by name. Ouch. . .

Ryan and McConnell have no one to blame but themselves.

Trump is many things, but he is not, nor has he ever been, a committed Republican. He seized control of the party in a hostile takeover. His campaign positions on trade, health care, entitlements and other issues bore no resemblance to GOP orthodoxy. He has instincts — some of them odious, from what we can intuit about his views on race and culture — but his worldview is transactional and situational, not ideological. . .

[After Congressional failures on Obamacare and DACA, w]hat Trump clearly has already revisited is his belief in the ability of the conservative GOP congressional majorities to get anything meaningful done. He seems to be at least flirting with the idea of working instead with Democrats and GOP moderates — working not with but around the House and Senate leadership.

I just hope Schumer and Pelosi know not to trust him the way Ryan and McConnell did."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s betrayal of the Republican leaders should surprise no one.

UPDATE IV:  "One of the most cynical quotations in history is also one of the most widely attributed. Let’s ponder the version associated with Groucho Marx: 'Sincerity is the key to success. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.'

From the moment Donald Trump opened his quest for the presidency, this idea has defined him and served as an organizing principle of his politics.

He presented himself as the guy who said whatever was on his mind, who didn’t talk like a politician, who didn’t care what others thought and who railed against “political correctness.”

In fact, just about everything that comes out of his mouth or appears on his Twitter feed is calculated for its political and dramatic effect. Trump is the exact opposite of what he tries to project: The thing he cares about is what others think of him. So he’ll adjust his views again and again to serve his ends as circumstances change. He’s not Mr.?Fearless. He’s Mr. Insecure.

Putting aside the catastrophe of his presidency, this approach has worked remarkably well for Trump. But when the input on which he bases his calculations is garbled or contradictory, he doesn’t know which way to go. Lacking any deep instincts or convictions, he tries to move in several directions at once, an awkward maneuver even for an especially gifted politician. In these situations, Trump offers us a glimpse behind the curtain, and we see there is nothing there.

This is the most straightforward explanation for the fiasco created by the president’s mean-spirited decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. . .

There is no strategic vision of what a Trump administration should look like because he doesn’t have any clear objectives of his own. On some days, he buys into the Sessions-Steve Bannon-Stephen Miller nationalist worldview. On others, he goes with his practical generals or his business-friendly Wall Street advisers. He doesn’t resolve the philosophical tensions because they don’t matter to him.

All this underscores what a waste this presidency is.

Read the Washington Post, Trump offers us a glimpse behind the curtain. There’s nothing there.

UPDATE III: "Donald Trump’s total lack of ideological moorings, combined with his nonexistent sense of responsibility to others (which, disconcertingly, comes packaged with an insatiable demand for loyalty to him), has long led Republicans and conservatives to fear he would eventually sell them out when the moment seemed opportune.

Judging by the noise out there this morning, they now apparently believe that the moment is upon them. . .

[But] a number of big issues that really matter right now, there are no indications of any meaningful change coming on Trump’s part.

It is true, as many have pointed out, that Trump may have handed Democrats more leverage to play with in the next round of talks. . .

But what does this signal about the long-term direction of Trump’s actual governing policies and priorities, such as they are? The New York Times speculates that this might foreshadow 'a more sustained shift in strategy' in which Trump might “seek common cause” with Democrats 'on areas of mutual interest.'

Okay. But let’s go through the actual issues", including Obamacare, DACA, infrastructure spending and taxes.

 Read the Washington Post, Trump just sided with Pelosi and Schumer. Will he systematically sell out the GOP?

UPDATE II:  Remember when I asked "what might have been"? And asked again?

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s triangulation shows what might have been.

And now remember, deal with a man with no guiding principles at your own risk.

UPDATE:  "House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”

“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants .?.?. a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before."

Read the Washington Post, Nobody knows what Trump is doing. Not even Trump., which noted in the context of The Donald's flip-flops on DACA (but it could be almost any issue:

"But what does Trump support? . .

What does the president want? Nobody knows — not his advisers, not his fellow Republicans in Congress, and probably not Trump himself."

Not long after the election, I suggested people 'climb off the ledge, it will get better, Trump is a fraud, call the Republi-CON bluff, his delusional supporters can't avoid reality forever, he can't keep the con up forever'.

Many times I've noted that The Donald was a psycho-narcissistic con man.

And his weakness is his narcissism.

So is this really any surprise?

Read the Washington Post:

Trump sides with Democrats on fiscal issues, throwing Republican plans into chaos,

Trump didn’t solve the debt ceiling crisis. He just delayed it,

Trump’s deal with Democrats bewilders his biggest fans — House conservatives, and

Freedom Caucus leaders vent to Paul Ryan after talks with Steve Bannon.

And the icing on the CON job cake, and a reminder that no one should trust The Donald: "on Thursday morning, in an odd case of some pretty unfortunate timing, Trump's campaign launched an ad deriding Chuck and Nancy as 'career politicians' standing in Trump's way."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s new campaign ad features some truly unfortunate timing, which noted:

"By several accounts, he took the first deal Democrats put on the table for a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. . .

[And] apparently Trump's unpredictability is giving even his own ad-makers a tough time. With Trump, every alliance and adversarial relationship is subject to change at a moment's notice."

So how can he be so unpredictable, The Donald has no guiding principles, except flattery.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Lacking Honesty, Empathy, and Ability, He Is Simply Not Presidential Material, CONt.

UPDATE II:  "[B]roadcast and cable producers know — and Trump knows deeply — that most Americans don’t really care that much about what they insist they care about. A few headlines will get most through the morning. Twitter and Facebook keep the curious plied with updates, and by day’s end, who really wants to plunge into tax reform?

It is true, nonetheless, that when Trump needs time to fidget with something that actually matters, he tosses a dead fish into the Dasani tank and waits for the media herdlings to begin their march toward the trough.

Temporarily spared the spotlight, Trump fluffs the thatched nest atop his head and invites his brain to hatch some very bad ideas. Thus, we seem to be on the brink of a nuclear confrontation with North Korea. Remember when we used to worry about Trump having his finger on the nuclear launch button? Square that. When the other antagonist is North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, the nightmare can’t be dismissed as the twisted hankie of the persistently worried.

Never have two less qualified 'leaders' been so endowed with such devastating power without the requisite impulse control upon which living civilizations depend. Not to mention that these two nuke hecklers are unmercifully coifed to resemble cartoon characters so that we, the soberly sane, are left to ponder our face-melting demise as a clown showdown between two renegade circus performers. . .

In July, Trump was typically eloquent in describing his approach to thwarting disaster:

“We’ll handle North Korea. We’ll be able to handle North Korea. It will be handled. We handle everything.”

Whew, that.

As further insult to reason, this isn’t even a conflict over something at least historically rational, such as the now nearly charming contest between communism and Americanism. No battle of wits, the U.S.-North Korea stare-down is more accurately a battle of nitwits who seem to think threatening nuclear holocaust and mutual destruction is a contest to see who has bigger hands.

No one would suggest that Trump is responsible for all the nail biting these past few months or that Kim’s missile and nuclear tests aren’t deadly serious. But Trump surely has exacerbated matters with his “fire and fury” rhetoric. The goading language of ultimatum, more than a bluffing tactic, is an inflammatory agent such that the possible moves inexorably toward the inevitable. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the president’s toughest-talking Cabinet member, recently said: 'We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left.'

Perhaps Kim might argue the same. Meanwhile, a can-kicking strategy (i.e., containment and diplomacy) seems a not-irrational substitute for mutual annihilation. Have we reached a point of no return? Will the president of the United States fire Kim, or will he invent some new distraction (staffers: Watch your backs) while he becomes a stealth, wartime leader?"

Read the Washington Post, Have we reached a point of no return?

UPDATE:  "Trump kicked off September by threatening a trade war with China and South Korea and pushing to deport young people at a time when businesses are struggling to find enough workers to fill all the available jobs. . .

So far in Trump's presidency, his threats on trade just turned out to be hot air. He said he would pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Instead, his administration is renegotiating it. He talked repeatedly of putting tariffs on steel and aluminum imports this summer, but it was repeatedly put off and Trump now says it's behind several other major items on his agenda. The China rhetoric may turn out to be more of the same, but businesses are on edge amid news this weekend that Trump had instructed his senior staff to draft the documents that would end the U.S.-South Korean trade deal. . .

The U.S.-Korea trade deal was negotiated under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. It has bipartisan support because it's not just about economics, it's about containing North Korea and China's influence in Asia. If Trump cancels the deal now, it sends a message to South Korea to deepen its relationship with China. It also plays into North Korea's hands by causing a rift between South Korea and the United States. . .

Trump has been touting how well the economy is doing lately. Unemployment is at a 16-year low, the stock market is soaring, and growth hit 3 percent in period between April and June. In a very encouraging sign, even business investment was finally picking up a bit. But Trump is putting that momentum in jeopardy by angering business leaders yet again.

Read the Washington Post, What Trump is doing with DACA and trade could backfire badly.

"President Trump in three very different settings over the past few days reminded us how unsuited he is for the job. Increasingly, his presidency is defined by blatant lies, an empathy deficit and a frightful lack of ability to navigate through dire international crises. Each has been on display. . .

One is left, still, agog at Trump’s dishonesty, narcissism and inability to project the calmness and discipline we expect from a president. Those who thought he’d grow in office or who perpetually think he’s “pivoting” or “becoming presidential” have engaged in dangerous delusion. One wonders how long we can muddle on with a president this unsuitable without provoking a constitutional or international calamity."

Read the Washington Post, Something is seriously off about this president.

Trump's Big CON: The Son-in-Law's Ruinous Business Experience Will Make Him a Disastrous Government Leader

The Trump family "story" is that son-in-law Jared Kushner will be a  'great government leader because of his successful business experience'.

So , Kushner is “President Trump’s point man with the Chinese . . brokering a durable truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. 'If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,' Trump said to the 36-year-old real estate scion, who has absolutely no background in diplomacy, from the stage of an inaugural party. . . [and] supervising the brand new Office of American Innovation, whose modest ambition is a full-scale reorganization of the federal government that makes it more efficient.”

(Did I miss anything?)

Turns out, Jared is a failure, just masquerading as a successful businessman.

Read Business Insider, Jared Kushner's real estate empire is reportedly in a difficult financial position.

How did such a stupid group get elected.

Trump's Big CON: Red State Hypocrisy, Courtesy of Harvey

UPDATE X:  "The bulk of the federal money to help Texas residents rebuild their lives and communities should come in the form of a loan — perhaps a long-term loan at a favorable interest rate, but definitely a loan.

Here is why: Texas is avowedly a low-tax state. There is no personal income tax. There is no corporate income tax (although there is a surrogate tax on corporate receipts). There is no state-level tax on estates or inheritances. Texas ranks No. 46 out of the 50 states in state and local tax burden per capita, according to recent data from the Tax Foundation. It ranks 43rd in state tax revenue per capita.

Texas wants and needs federal help to rebuild from Harvey, and the federal government should provide significant financial aid. But it is grossly unfair for Texas to accept funds from all of America’s taxpayers to allow it to continue its exceptionally low-taxed ways. Unless Texas is willing to bear a reasonable share of the Harvey costs through increased state and local taxes, then the rest of the United States would just be giving Texas a handout. Better for the federal government to offer Texas a 'hand-up' in the form of immediate cash support with the requirement that Texas generate tax revenue to repay that help."

Read the Washington Post, Low-tax Texas should pay its fair share of Harvey costs.

UPDATE IX:  Read the Washington Post, When a red state gets the blues, which reads in substantial part:

"The Republic of Texas believes in self-reliance and is suspicious of Washington sticking its big nose in your business. 'Government is not the answer. You are not doing anyone a favor by creating dependency, destroying individual responsibility.' So said Sen. Ted Cruz (R), though not last week. Sunday on Fox News, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Texas would need upward of $150 billion in federal aid for damage inflicted by Harvey. The stories out of Houston have all been about neighborliness and helping hands and people donating to relief funds, but you don’t raise $150?billion by holding bake sales. This is almost as much as the annual budget of the U.S. Army. I’m just saying.

I’m all in favor of pouring money into Texas, but I am a bleeding-heart liberal who favors single-payer health care. How is being struck by a hurricane so different from being hit by cancer? I’m only asking.

In Cruz’s run for president last year, he called for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service. He did not mention this last week. It would be hard to raise an extra $150?billion without the progressive income tax unless you could persuade Mexico to foot the bill.

Similarly, if a desert state such as Arizona expects the feds to solve its water shortage, as Sen. Jeff Flake (R) suggested recently, by guaranteeing Arizona first dibs on Lake Mead, this strikes me as a departure from conservative principles. Lake Mead, and Boulder Dam, which created it, were not built by Lake Mead Inc., but by the federal government. The residents of Phoenix decided freely to settle in an arid valley, and they have used federal water supplies to keep their lawns green. Why should we Minnesotans, who chose to live near water, subsidize golf courses on the desert? You like sunshine? Fine. Take responsibility for your decision and work out a deal with Perrier to keep yourselves hydrated. . .

Conservatives blanch at spending additional billions to subsidize health care for the needy, but a truckload of cash for Texas? No problem. It makes me think we Minnesotans should get a few billion in federal aid for recovery from the upcoming winter. It is going to be cold. This will cause damage to homes. Drive-in movie theaters and golf courses and marinas will suffer loss of revenue. We must salt the highways to prevent accidents, and the salt corrodes our cars. And then there is the mental anguish.

If Minnesota gets billions of dollars for winter recovery, then I am going to seriously consider becoming a conservative. As a philosophy of governing, conservatism is rather sketchy, but if it helps Minnesota, I am all in favor. I have my principles, but I can be bought, same as the rest of you."

UPDATE VIII:  Read also CBS News, Why is Houston so prone to major flooding?, which notes:

Houston is "relatively flat and is barely above sea level. Downtown is only about 50 feet above sea level, and there's only about a four-foot change between the highest and lowest parts of downtown. That means when rain falls, it has nowhere to go, and takes a long time to drain out. . .

Some experts also point to Houston's big building boom as a potential factor, in exacerbating the problem  Development decreased the amount of wetlands in the city by almost 50 percent over the last 25 years.

All that hard, impermeable pavement means there's less land to soak up rainfall after a major storm.

Combine all that with the fact Houston is only about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. That puts it right in the path of slow-moving storms that can generate massive amounts of rainfall.

In fact, the number of downpours measuring at least 10 inches have doubled over the last 30 years."

UPDATE VII:  "In 1994, after the the Great Flood of 1993 in the upper Midwest, a study was issued.

“At the time, Houston ranked third (and surrounding Harris County fourth) in the nation in the number of repetitive-loss buildings, behind only Jefferson Parish, La., and New Orleans. It was too late to change policies in a way that would help New Orleans, which was already mostly built out — and mostly at or below sea level. But Houston and its adjacent areas, even with explosive growth and development underway, still had clear options to prevent future floods. They could conduct watershed planning and management. Officials could buy out or relocate the most endangered buildings, or put them on stilts, and could adopt higher building-elevation standards and stronger building codes. They could regulate the expansion of impervious areas in a way that would limit paving over pastures and wetlands to construct parking lots and endless subdivisions, and they could establish shoreline protections to reduce flood risks and costs going forward. This was the array of approaches needed to stay and hopefully reverse the growing costs of flooding. The nation’s floodplain organizations, at the same time, pleaded with city leaders to heed these warnings and act.

They didn’t. Houston did some buyouts, but repetitive losses continued to mount as development pushed along mostly unfettered. Over the past week, many news reports have highlighted long-ignored studies chronicling the steady encroachment on Houston-area bayou floodplains, and the paving and building over of pastures and wetlands that used to act as sponges absorbing and slowing runoff. At least 4,000 residential and commercial structures have been built within the identified 100-year floodplain since 2010, and, according to one Texas A&M University study, 30 percent of Harris County’s coastal prairie wetlands were paved over from 1992 to 2010. . . 

After the most damaging flood in U.S. history, we also need to fund accurate flood mapping for the entire nation. We need better maps out ahead of development, so people know how to build and won’t get caught with costly flood insurance premiums if maps are drawn after an area is developed. It would take an estimated $7.5 billion to map all the floodplains in the nation.

Congress should also reinstate the federal flood risk management standard President Trump recently revoked in an infrastructure executive order to assure a reasonable building standard for states and municipalities that use federal money to rebuild after disasters. This could be as simple as constructing most buildings one or two feet above the 100-year flood level (and two or three feet higher for critical facilities such as hospitals and police and fire stations). That way, taxpayers won’t have to pay to rebuild these facilities as often. Houston already required putting new buildings one foot above the 100-year flood level. Studies of Harvey’s rain may soon show that to be too low for the city’, which may instead want to consider the three-foot standard Dallas has in place might be worth considering. . .

[The government] should immediately focus on improving and streamlining voluntary buyouts and other mitigation options to help residents move out of harm’s way within reasonable time frames, especially after disasters, allowing communities to reform their land use in response to nature’s realities.

The nation has not been particularly good at learning from past floods, which have occurred with discouraging frequency. This time, we need to actually fix some of the problems. If we don’t, Americans facing some new devastation in the future will be looking back at Harvey and wondering why we didn’t act now."

Read the Washington Post, We already knew how to reduce damage from floods. We just didn’t do it.

UPDATE VI:  "Few places need the federal government right now more than Texas does, as it begins to recover from Hurricane Harvey. Yet there are few states where the federal government is viewed with more resentment, suspicion and scorn.

For Republicans, who dominate Texas government, anti-Washington sentiment is more than just a red-meat rhetorical flourish — it is a guiding principle.

Gov. Greg Abbott, the Republican former state attorney general, once described a typical day in his old job as, 'I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.' His predecessor as governor, Rick Perry, wrote a book titled 'Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington.'

The sentiment is not limited to politicians. In June, the legislature of Texas Boys State — the mock-government exercise for high schoolers, run by the American Legion — voted overwhelmingly to secede from the union.

Now, though, it is Texas Republicans who will be crucial in securing, and helping to administer, what is likely to be one of the most ambitious and costly federal disaster-relief packages in American history, one that will almost certainly run to tens of billions of dollars.

There are few doubts that a Republican-dominated Congress will end up delivering aid to a battered state and key base of Republican power. But along with an outpouring of support, the process is raising eyebrows and drawing charges of hypocrisy.

What this means for Texas politics is difficult to say, at a time when rescue crews and volunteers are still plucking flood victims from their homes. But the new reality is already making itself felt.

Most notably, Senator Ted Cruz, one of Washington’s most ardent proponents of fiscal restraint, has suddenly taken on a new role, promising to lead the effort to secure a generous federal aid package.

In 2013, in a move his critics consider infamous, Mr. Cruz joined more than 20 of his Texas colleagues in Congress in voting against a $50.5 billion relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy, saying that the bill was larded with pork projects unrelated to rebuilding the battered Northeast coast. (The bill passed regardless.)

Last week, Mr. Cruz was all over the Texas flood zone, promising that Congress would provide 'very significant resources for the people who have been damaged by this terrible storm.'"

Read The New York Times, In Texas, Distrust of Washington Collides With Need for Federal Aid.

UPDATE V: Oh woe is me, the chemical plant exploded.  How did that happen?

"The French company that says its Houston-area chemical plant is spewing 'noxious' smoke — and may explode — successfully pressed federal regulators to delay new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times. The rules, which were set to go into effect this year, were halted by the Trump administration after a furious lobbying campaign by plant owner Arkema and its affiliated trade association, the American Chemistry Council, which represents a chemical industry that has poured tens of millions of dollars into federal elections.

The effort to stop the chemical plant safety rules was backed by top Texas Republican lawmakers, who have received big campaign donations from chemical industry donors."

Read the IBTimes, Texas Republicans Helped Chemical Plant That Exploded Lobby Against Safety Rules.

UPDATE IV:  "[W]e are reminded that some politicians think government is great when it helps their own constituents and wasteful if it helps anyone else.

We also regularly assert that government is better when it prevents problems than when it focuses primarily on cleaning up after the fact. But when environmentalists suggest that development can be carried out in more sustainable ways or that climate change is worth dealing with, they are mocked as 'anti-business' or 'crisis-mongers.' Then a crisis comes, and we wonder why the politicians were so shortsighted. . .

[I]t is entirely appropriate to call out the hypocrisy of Texas conservatives who voted against assistance for the victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey but are now asking for federal help on behalf of their folks. They broke this basic rule of solidarity in the name of an ideology that, when the chips are down, they don’t really believe in. Of course we should help all the areas devastated by Harvey. I’d just appreciate hearing our Texas conservative friends, beginning with Sen. Ted Cruz, admit they were wrong.

Call me a liberal (I won’t mind), but I do believe in using government’s taxing powers reasonably to direct help toward people who really need it, and in regulations to protect the environment and prevent catastrophe. . .

We can certainly debate where government compassion becomes overreach. Unfortunately, we’re not anywhere close to such a measured and civilized dialogue."

Read the Washington Post, A hurricane of conservative hypocrisy.

UPDATE III:  When Repebli-CONs demand less government, less taxes, more personal freedom, they claim that charities and churches can help people in need.

Ask Houston how that worked out for them.

Read Market Watch, Joel Osteen, criticized for closing his Houston megachurch to Harvey victims, relents.

UPDATE II:  "As he toured rising floodwater in Texas on Tuesday, President Trump effusively praised his administration’s Hurricane Harvey response, an effort he began touting on Twitter last weekend even before the storm made landfall.

But not too long ago, the president proposed a budget calling for cuts to some of the federal government’s most consequential efforts to prepare states and local communities and help them recover from catastrophic events such as Harvey. . .

The proposed cuts would include programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose new administrator was praised by Trump in a tweet last weekend for “doing a great job”; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes, parks, hospitals and community centers; the National Weather Service, which forecasts extreme storms; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose research and community engagement help coastal residents prepare for disaster."

Read the Washington Post, Trump would slash disaster funding to the very agencies he’s praising for Harvey response.

UPDATE:  "Whenever an extraordinary event such as Hurricane Harvey occurs, there will be those who implore us not to “politicize” it. But this impulse is exactly wrong, because politics is the process we use to decide how we will collectively approach challenges and problems.

So there’s never been a better time to ask how our government responds to natural disasters, and how the two parties react when confronted with immediate public demands for help.

Today, many people — both Democrats and Republicans from the Northeast — have noticed that Republican politicians in Texas are asking for immediate federal help for their constituents in the Houston area, yet five years ago when Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast, those very same Republicans were unwilling to help. . .

There are some kinds of hypocrisy both Democrats and Republicans engage in, but this isn’t one of them. When there’s a natural or human-made disaster and people are crying out for aid, virtually all Democrats say, 'The government should help.' Lots of Republicans, on the other hand, say, 'Is this happening to our people? If so, then yes, the government should help. If not, screw ’em.' . .

[W]when the final vote comes, nearly all Democrats will be in favor of it, because they think that the government should help its citizens, even if most of those particular citizens in this case live in a red state. “Republicans must be ready to join Democrats in passing a timely relief bill that makes all necessary resources available through emergency spending,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) yesterday.

Of course, the two parties have different ideas about the proper scope of government. But only one party is being consistent in how it applies its philosophy. Whatever else you might say about Democrats, they don’t play into the juvenile belief so many Americans have that government should be as small and light as possible, stepping gingerly aside as we go about our lives, and yet it should also solve all our significant problems. Republicans appear to believe that disaster relief is one of the important things government should do — but it depends on where the disaster hits and which Americans are affected.

That’s more than just hypocrisy. And it’s not something both sides are guilty of."

Read the Washington Post, On disaster relief, Republicans go beyond hypocrisy.
Repebli-CONs are always demanding less government, less taxes, more personal freedom, except when they are not.

Read the Washington Post, Cost of cleaning up Harvey will bring new test of governance for Trump and GOP, which noted:

"After Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy “some prominent Republicans resisting emergency aid packages because of concerns about what it would mean for the federal budget. . .

Directing emergency funds to areas hit by natural disasters had traditionally been quick bipartisan exercises, but that changed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

That evolution has tracked alongside growing attention to federal spending and budget deficits by conservative Republicans, who have increasingly demanded that emergency aid spending be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

That push had its genesis in 'Operation Offset' — a 2005 proposal from the Republican Study Committee, a group of House conservatives, to identify spending cuts that would compensate for the approximately $200 billion expected for Hurricane Katrina relief — including cutting farm subsidies, Amtrak funding and postponing the Medicare prescription-drug bill Republicans had approved two years earlier.

The RSC’s chairman at the time was Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, who is now the vice president. 'We simply can’t allow a catastrophe of nature to become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren,' Pence said at the time. . .

Republican opposition to approving emergency disaster funds without other cuts to offset the new money has persisted.

By the time Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey and New York in 2012, offsetting any new spending had become a key tenet for most Republicans, so when President Barack Obama pushed for a $60 billion package of federal aid, it sparked more than three months of partisan sparring — a delay that left Democrats and northeastern Republicans fuming while the remainder of the GOP fulminated against the threat of a growing national debt and the inclusion of spending they deemed extraneous in the aid package. . .

An amendment offered by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that would have offset some of the relief funding by instituting an across-the-board cut in other federal spending failed but won support of 157 of 233 House Republicans. The final package passed the House despite the opposition of 179 Republicans in the House and 36 in the Senate.

Texas’s Republican senators opposed the Sandy relief bill, arguing that it still included extraneous spending.

Mulvaney is now the White House budget director.

Raw emotions from that episode persist. Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who fought hard to secure funds after Sandy, said over the weekend that he would support Harvey relief funds even though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tried to block the same type of emergency money for his state in recent years.

'Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/N.J. aid after Sandy but I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid. NY wont abandon Texas,' King tweeted. '1 bad turn doesn't deserve another.'"