Nel's New Day

November 3, 2019

DDT Owns This Economy

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got his way with the Federal Reserve: it dropped interest rates by another quarter point at a time when the economy is supposedly strong. The reduction of the interest rate by three-fourths of a percent in just three months at a time when the country is not in an economic crisis is not only almost unheard of but also a source of more disaster. Interest rates are lowered to fight a recession, and the United States has lost the ability to do that by dropping the rates.

The good news, other than a rising stock market, is unemployment at a half-century low and inflation at its two-percent target. The bad news is the trade wars causing stock market volatility, investment insecurity, farm losses, shrinking manufacturing jobs, and rising consumer prices as well as slowing global economy. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, Commerce reported, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession, at its lowest since the 2007-2009 recession. 

Eleven years ago, the Fed rate was .25 percent, and the cheap money promoted a borrowing frenzy. By now U.S. companies have borrowed $15.5 trillion, two thirds of the U.S. GDP, and used the money to increase stock prices, buybacks, and acquisitions. Any rise in interest rates will cause a financial crisis, similar to that 11 years ago. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), half of corporate debt outside small businesses is high risk or junk rated with a higher chance of default than investment grade debt. Even worse, $660 billion of leveraged debt is in collateralized loan obligations sold to investors and financial situations, threatening a rise in delinquencies and defaults. Selling this debt will accelerate a downward spiral.

The Fed’s meeting this past week, the second in three weeks, was to address the repo (repurchase agreement operations) market’s problems. In the repo market, banks, funds, and other large companies borrow money for a day and use short-term government bonds as collateral: Fed plan to buy $60 billion a month of these bonds through April 2020. After the last recession, the Fed bought long-term bonds and mortgage-backed bonds to prevent a worse economic collapse. The current repos are intended to make it appear that banks are complying with regulations.

Signs of the U.S. weakening economy:

U.S. business hiring has fallen to a seven-year low, and employer are not increasing wages because of slower growth of sales and profits. 

Consumer confidence in the United States has declined for three months in a row. 

Defaults on “subprime” auto loans are at the fastest pace since 2008. 

The percentage of “subprime” auto loans at least 60 days delinquent is now higher than at any time during the last recession. 

Retail vacancies at U.S. shopping malls are at the highest level since the last recession, up to almost ten percent. 

The Cass Freight Index has fallen for ten straight months

U.S. rail carload volumes are at the lowest level in three years

September orders for Class 8 heavy duty trucks were down 71 percent.  

September home sales in the United States declined by another 2.2 percent

New home prices have fallen to the lowest level in almost three years and the same median price as in 2014. 

Forty-four percent of people in the U.S. report that they don’t make enough money to cover their monthly expenses

In a recent survey, over two-thirds of all U.S. households, 69 percent, are taking steps to prepare for a recession. Recession fears can cause consumers to spend less, which can exacerbate the possibility of a recession.

September was the worst month for U.S. manufacturing in a decade as manufacturers laid off employees, and October was even worse.

 In September, 4,200 truck drivers lost their jobs after 5,100 were dropped in August while hundreds of trucking companies are going bankrupt.

Other figures from last spring that haven’t improved include continuing jobless claims at the fastest pace in ten years, retail layoffs at 92 percent higher than the year before, and economic numbers are at the worst start since 2008.  

More problems with the economy from Robert Reich:

Wages are still almost static with only $2,000 more than in 1979—even after DDT promised everyone $4,000 in tax cuts last year.

The low unemployment rate comes from people giving up searches for jobs; the labor-force participation rate is the lowest since the late 1970s.

Almost 4 million people are stuck in part-time jobs and can’t find full-time jobs. Their lack of rights and benefits adds to increased economic insecurity.  

More college graduates are overqualified for their current jobs with ten percent underemployed, much higher than 20 years ago, while college costs have skyrocketed and left students in massive debt.

Health care increases with average family premiums up 55 percent since 2008, three times more than inflation. Prescription drug prices went up 11 percent in the first half of 2019.

Almost 39 million American households pay more than they can afford on housing, and over 25 percent of the renters spend over half their income on housing.  

Consumer debt, excluding mortgages, has climbed to $4 trillion, the highest ever even after adjusting for inflation.

With the DDT-GOP tax cut, 83 percent of the gains go to the wealthiest one percent of people in the U.S.

The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, still have 32 percent less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003, and the top one percent has more than twice as much.

The federal government is also permitting the expansion of risky mortgages. The almost $7 trillion in mortgage-related debt by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA is one-third more than before the housing crisis over a decade ago, and a large increase in loan defaults can cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. A growing number of homeowners face debt payments almost half their monthly income, and about 30 percent of Fannie Mae guaranteed loans last year were higher than this level, up 14 percent from 2016. At 57-percent loans over the high-risk level, FHA is up in this category by 38 percent from two years ago.  Two Freddie Mac officials said that they had been pushed into loans with a higher risk of default. DDT’s officials are trying to privatize Fannie and Freddie which can disrupt the housing market and make buying homes more expensive. At this time, most of the loans are packaged into securities and sold to investors. In 2017, FHA guaranteed 10.9 percent of all single-family mortgage debt, more than half to borrowers with extremely high levels of debt and over triple the rate ten years earlier at the beginning of the recession. 

Another sign that the U.S. is moving toward a recession is the slow growth of the nation’s economy, 1.9 percent annualized pace in the most recent quarter and over one-third less than the 3 percent that DDT promised from his 2017 tax law. Consumer spending has continued, but business investment contracted for six straight months, falling 3 percent in the third quarter, the biggest drop since 2015. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession. Economic uncertainty has led to this drop in investment.

DDT promised to erase the federal debt in eight years, but the 2019 fiscal year deficit hit $984 billion—just $16 billion short of $1 trillion, a 26-percent increase from the previous year and up 50 percent since he was inaugurated. The loss comes from DDT’s massive spending increases, especially for the military and a border wall, and tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Bush’s bad policies, wars, and tax cuts led to a ballooning of the debt which President Obama curbed before DDT’s election. DDT’s shortfall is the same as for 2012 when unemployment was twice the current rate and the economy was coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression over 80 years ago. 

The debt-to-GDP ratio of 105 percent for the last quarter, up from last year and the first year to be this high since 1945, the end of World War II. That figure comes from the $22.719 trillion U.S. debt as of September 30, 2019 divided by the $21.526 trillion nominal GDP. The World Bank states that any debt greater than 77 percent is past the “tipping point,” when it can’t be repaid. DDT promised to cut the debt, but instead of vastly increased it by giving trillions of dollars to the wealthy and corporations. With these disasters, DDT plans another tax cut to enhance his reelection campaign.

DDT plans to use this economy for his reelection campaigning.

June 20, 2019

DDT’s People Need Vetting

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should have been left to tell the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) instead of going back to Alabama: she does a better job. Patrick Shanahan’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s new Defense secretary collapsed yesterday after revelations surrounding incidents of domestic violence within Shanahan’s family. A journalist asked:

“Does that make you concerned then about the White House vetting process if you had just heard about it yesterday?”

DDT answered:

“No, we have a very good vetting process. And you take a look at our Cabinet and our Secretaries — it’s very good. But we have a great vetting process.”

DDT is a disaster at vetting anyone. Last month, DDT’s nominees for the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, had to withdraw their names. They are on the top of a long list of non-vetted nominees. Appointments are going to get only worse because fewer and fewer people are willing to be involved in DDT’s administration.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, formerly a Boeing executive, resigned after an FBI investigation further delayed his confirmation hearings. He took over after James Mattis resigned in December before DDT fired him. Shanahan’s ex-wife has made accusations of abuse and was arrested as part of a domestic dispute. DDT tweeted the spending “more time with his family” for Shanahan departure. Some Republicans kept Shanahan’s problems from Democrats because they didn’t want the situation to become another Kavanaugh debacle. Democrats discovered the domestic abuse surrounding Shanahan after the information was published in the newspaper.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, DDT’s replacement for Shanahan and another lobbyist, will be more to DDT’s satisfaction. Unlike Shanahan, Esper doesn’t worry about the deployment of thousands of military member to the southern border eroding readiness for combat, and he’s close to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who currently seems to be announcing military strategy regarding Iran, and David Urban, DDT’s close friend and adviser to the Pennsylvania presidential campaign in 2016. Esper was also the top lobbyist for Raytheon, now a U.S. defense contractor embedded in Saudi Arabia.

DDT has lost support from the vastly wealthy and powerful Mercer family who helped him get elected in 2016 with $15.5 million and data mining by Cambridge Analytica. DDT’s inauguration fund also got $1 million from the Mercers. Some of the Mercers’ disillusionment came from DDT’s exile of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer’s elimination as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, “really spooked” by the FBI’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers originally preferred Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the presidential candidate but supported DDT in preference to Hillary Clinton. Robert Mercer also feels that he lost his privacy because of his support for DDT.

Matthew Kacsmaryk slipped through as a lifetime judge with 52 votes because GOP senators will confirm almost any judicial nominee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who believed Brett Kavanaugh’s statement of support for Roe v. Wade, either learned her lesson or worries about re-election next year; she was the only GOP senator to vote him. Kacsmaryk:

  • Opposes employment, housing, and health care protections for LGBTQ people
  • Opposes including LGBTQ people in the Violence against Women Act.
  • Wrote that being transgender is “a delusion.”
  • Defended county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples in opposition to the law.
  • Opposes employer contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Played a lead role in opposing a Washington state law requiring pharmacist to give birth control to women with prescriptions.
  • Criticized the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade giving women the right to abortions.
  • Labeled the Equality Act a “public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty, unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.’”

Tony Perkins, a leader of the infamous hate group Family Research Council, has been named to chair the U.S. Commission on International Freedom. It’s purpose is to review violations of religious freedom and make policy recommendations to the president, Secretary of State, and Congress.

Kelly Craft, formerly U.S. ambassador to Canada and now nominee for the UN ambassador, had the reputation for rarely being in Canada. Her absence for over 300 days between October 23, 2017, and June 19, 2019 means that, like Congress, she was missing for about half the time. A spokesperson said she had permission to be away but declined to give details. Craft reportedly left her job to a deputy while attending to personal business and domestic U.S. politics. Her husband’s private jet, used by Craft, made round trips between Canada and the U.S. about once a week, such as travel to the Kentucky Derby and a media interview for an event for her coal billionaire husband. Both Craft and her husband are supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who lobbied for her appointment. Her answers at the confirmation hearing showed an ignorance of UN workings.

Katharine Gorka, political appointee as press secretary at Customs and Border Protection, remains in the government although her husband, Sebastian, known for white supremacist connections, has gone. Both are openly anti-Muslim, and Gorka worked to stop a DHS grant for Life after Hate, a group trying to stop white supremacist groups. DHS has refused to release documents about her through the Freedom of Information Act.

Jerome Powell, chair of the independent agency Fed Reserve, would likely be on the chopping block if DDT could figure out a way to get rid of him. Although the stock markets are currently going up, their volatility partly comes from DDT’s trade wars. Yet DDT blames the refusal to drop interest rates as the only reason. Last February, he checked with lawyers to see if he could demote Powell and said two weeks ago that the board is “not my people.” Three of the five are DDT’s nominees, and DDT appointed Powell as chair. The seven-member board is still missing two people, and all four of DDT’s nominees have failed confirmation—difficult to do with the current GOP senate. Powell said he’s not going anywhere.

VP Mike Pence isn’t any better than DDT at vetting people. Pence’s former national security advisor, Andrea L. Thompson, now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, had close relationships with confessed Russian agent Maria Butina and her boyfriend, veteran GOP activist Paul Erickson. Butina’s job was to infiltrate the NRA and GOP to help Russia. In June 2017, Butina attended Thompson’s wedding where Erickson officiated. A year later, Thompson’s connection to Butina wasn’t mentioned at her confirmation hearings despite Mueller’s investigation, including Erikson’s allegedly trying to establish “secret backchannels to the Kremlin.” Thompson’s job is negotiating with Russia on arms control treaties, but she never discussed her Butina ties. After 18 months in prison, Butina will be deported to her home in Russia.  

Hope Hicks, DDT’s former communications director, may have testified for almost eight hours before the House Judiciary Committee, but six White House, DOJ, and private lawyers blocked the questions 155 times in the closed hearing. Their excuse was the non-existent “absolute immunity,” applying to “anything about her knowledge of anything during the period of time in which she was employed in the White House.” She didn’t answer even simple answers such as the location of her office in the White House and the existence of any conversation with DDT during lunch time.

Hicks could answer questions before and after she was in the White House and had a few revelations. Under repeated questioning, she said DDT was wrong in possibly accepting political dirt from a foreign power on an opponent, and she agree that the Russian government hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Hicks also found it “odd” that DDT asked Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager but not an employee, to tell former AG Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal in overseeing the Russian investigation. She knew about the hush money that DDT paid to two women that DDT denied.  Hicks’ testimony also shows that DDT and his team knew about possible tapes of DDT with “Russian hookers, participating in lewd activities” (pp. 196-197) soon after the release of Access Hollywood tapes in late October 2016, long before former FBI Director James Comey briefed him on it in January 2017. At that time, DDT appeared shocked about the tapes.

The oddest aftermath of Hicks’ testimony is Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) false claim that “old, pervy” Democrats asked her personal questions about her love life, a message that went viral on the fake conservative media. He wasn’t present, but he claimed to have “sources” that were “inside,” that people “would be ashamed if they knew what actually happened in that room.” With the transcript released, people can find out “what actually happened” if they read the document—which they most likely won’t. I read all 273 pages. It’s filled with factual questions about Hicks’ professional activities, 155 “objections,” and some whining from Republicans who still want to protect DDT. Once again, conservative media consumers will believe the “fake news.”

April 9, 2019

DDT’s People: Part II, Proximity Instead of Professionalism

Where does Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) find the people who he extols, hires, berates, and then fires? A family wedding planner received an important HUD position. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner found economic adviser Peter Navarro while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. For the Federal Reserve, DDT is nominating Stephen Moore, a GOP pundit who co-wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that complained about the Federal Reserve keeping the economy from glorious heights. The lies in the piece caught the attention of DDT’s national adviser Larry Kudlow, who subscribes to the same falsehoods. He told DDT about Moore, and DDT tweeted that he would nominate Moore, “a very respected Economist,” to fill a vacant position “on the Fed Board.”

Moore is neither an economist nor respected. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote that “this is about like nominating Dr. Phil to run the CDC.” Moore admits that he knows very little about monetary policy, a focus of the Federal Reserve.

“I’m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I’m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions. It’s hard for me to say even what my role will be there, assuming I get confirmed.”

About the appropriate size of the Fed’s balance sheet, Moore said,“To be honest, I’m going to have to study up on this one.” During the 2008 recession, Moore regarded Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged as his economic guide, but he didn’t even get the pretentious novel’s plot right. He used an event in which the government co-opted an invention to banks pressured to accept bailouts when the U.S. economy was ready to crash. Moore’s recommendation was to watch the world burn.

Moore’s owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest, and penalties. When he was found in contempt of court for refusing to pay his wife tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent divorce, alimony, and child support payments, four police officers, two realtors, and a locksmith came to his house to sell his residence, per a court order. He had claimed he “paid off his wife,” but the total was just a fraction of what he owed after the seven people came to the house. Past-due payments came to $333,000. After Moore paid his ex-wife about two-thirds of his debt to her, the court called off the sale of the house.

Chief economist for the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Moore received his M.A. from George Mason University, the third most conservative college in the U.S. He is on the editorial board of the Murdoch’s conservative Wall Street Journal and founding president of the union-breaking Club for Growth, partly funded by the Koch brothers. They also donated $12 million to “Freedom Works,” where Moore is listed as “senior economic contributor.” He does no economic research but is always ready to make right-wing comments in economic policy debates. A respected conservative economist, Greg Makiw, said Moore “does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job,” and even Fox’s Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller finds Moore unethical.

Slate wrote:

“Stephen Moore is a living embodiment of the sucking intellectual void at the core of conservative economics, an inept pundit who has spent his career evangelizing the supply-side dogma that tax cuts pay for themselves while shilling for Republican officeholders, all from well-paid perches at think tanks and in the media.”

Moore follows the failed theory of the GOP economic platform that big tax cuts for billionaires and corporations will cause prices to fall. He wants to use a Fed position to “free” the economy from “oppressive taxation” although the Board has nothing to do with taxation. Moore was heavily involved in destroying Kansas’ economy when he told former Gov. Sam Brownback to make his draconian tax cuts. The extreme austerity for government programs decimated their educational systems and other needs, and people raised taxes as soon as Brownback escaped into DDT’s government as a world ambassador for “religious freedom.”

Moore doesn’t reserve his public opinions to economics.

  • He defended Alabama’s U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of molesting a teenage girl by claiming that his opponent, now-Sen. Doug Jones, was as bad because he supports abortion rights.
  • He tried to slut-shame Stormy Daniels, paid off by DDT to keep their affair secret, in an interview on Don Lemon’s show.
  • He argued that scientists lie about their concern regarding climate change to get “really, really, really rich.”

The question is what the Senate will do with Moore. Eight years ago, GOP senators blocked President Obama’s Fed nomination Peter Diamond, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, for over a year and then killed it. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), still in the Senate at the age of 84, joined others to question Diamond’s qualifications.

Reeling from Moore’s nomination, people were even more shocked to hear that DDT is considering the former presidential candidate, pizza man Herman Cain, for another Fed position. On paper, Cain’s credentials may look slightly better than those of Moore: he served on an advisory board to the Kansas City branch of the central bank for a few years in the 1990s. Fortunately for the bank, he had no decision-making power.

People who watched the 2012 presidential campaign may remember Cain when he argued that people “need a leader, not a reader” and said he didn’t care who “the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” is. He also touted his 9-9-9 tax plan based on false information. Cain quoted Pokemon in his departure from the campaign and then turned his mailing list into peddling suspected scams after he quit. During DDT’s campaign, Cain was a supporter, calling DDT a “shucky-ducky kind of candidate.” And it got worse from there. In 2015, Cain told Glenn Beck that Muslims should not be able to serve in government until they took a loyalty oath.

Cain dropped out of his 2012 campaign after allegations of sexual harassment. He denied them by saying that thousands of women he worked with would not make that claim. Cain’s lawyer, however, said that any women considering such accusations should “think twice.” Slate legal editor Dahlia Lithwick pointed out how this statement only exacerbates the threat of patriarchal power—something that DDT is still wielding.

Cain has a pattern of selecting people who may participate in sexual misconduct like DDT has. Sharon Bialek said that Cain told her she had to put up with his running his hand up her skirt if she wanted a job. Karen Kraushaar said that Cain groped her in the 1990s. Cain denied these allegations last week by stating that he would “be able to explain [the allegations] this time, where they wouldn’t let me explain it the last time. They were too busy believing the accusers.”

Others:

  1. GOP Senators confirmed Brett Kavanaugh for a Supreme Court position after three accusations of sexual misconduct.
  2. Andrew Puzder dropped out as a nominee for Secretary of Labor only after a publicized video showed his ex-wife in an Oprah Winfrey show called “High Class Battered Women.”
  3. DDT replaced Puzder with Alex Acosta, a billionaire pedophile enabler.
  4. Bill Shine acted as “fixer” for Fox executives accused of sexual misconduct.
  5. Barry Myers, nominee to lead NOAA, was chief executive for a family company that paid $290,000 after being found guilty of subjecting women to sexual harassment.
  6. Steve Munoz, accused of sexually assaulting five men at The Citadel military college, is still listed as assistant chief of protocol of visits for the State Department.

None of these men, including DDT, exhibited any remorse about their actions.

A CNBC survey of Wall Street shows that a majority of them doesn’t want either Moore or Cain on the Federal Reserve board. Results opposed both Moore by 60 percent and Cain  (53 percent). Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. Financial Market Economist at Oxford Economics, wrote that the men’s confirmations “would be very disruptive at a time when monetary policy is at an important crossroads.” Fund managers, economists and strategists participated in the polling. They also predicted the confirmation of Moore by 51 percent and Cain by 49 percent. Forty-seven percent of respondents think that nominations combined with DDT’s directing the Fed are “reducing the central bank’s independence” with implications for markets and the economy. Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said, “Stacking the Fed with partisan hacks would alter how the market views the Fed’s decisions.”

DDT wants to people on the Federal Reserve Board who will cut interest rates for personal financial and political benefit. His recommended idea, quantitative easing by buying Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities used to get out a recession, would give the economy a sugar high long enough, DDT hopes, to get him elected. These nominations for a supposedly independent agency bodes poorly for the vast majority of people in the nation and around the world.

December 25, 2018

DDT’s Version of ‘Merry Christmas’

Day Four of Government Shutdown: Retroactive pay doesn’t mean anything for small businesses when people stop spending for the holidays out of fear that paychecks will not be coming for a long time. No more perks like manicures or more presents. After Christmas, forget sales for clothes and other things that people load up on at the sales. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) says he won’t stop the shutdown until he gets his money. Sounds like blackmail on Christmas Day.

DDT wants people to say “Merry Christmas,” but he debunked Santa Claus to a seven-year-old girl when she called to check on Santa’s progress on NORAD. When DDT answered the phone, he asked While answering telephone calls from children tracking Santa’s progress on NORAD, DDT asked Collman Lloyd of Lexington (SC) if she is “still a believer in Santa Claus.” After she said yes, DDT said, “Because at 7 that’s marginal, right?” Fortunately, Collman doesn’t know the meaning of “marginal,” and she still believes in Santa because the milk and cookies left for him overnight disappeared. DDT, who threw rocks at other toddlers in play pens before he was three years old, just shot down Santa Claus for a lot of people.

The day before DDT tried to burst Collman’s bubble, he moaned on his Twitter account:

 “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.” [DDT’s version of “all alone.]

Earlier this year, DDT turned down $25 billion in border security, but he claims that “the wall is different” and that it “will be built with shutdown money plus funds already in hand.” He’s missed the fact that the shutdown costs money; it doesn’t increase funding. And that’s just part of the anger-filled, hateful tweets that he sent from the White House in the days before Christmas when he wanted to be cheered on with Mar-a-Lago members.

In several tweets, DDT scapegoated Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for his own mistakes that led to the massive drop in stock markets during December. After a disastrous week, the Dow Jones plunged another 653 points in a half-day session yesterday. Economists have been muttering about an upcoming recession for months, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, formerly king of foreclosures who didn’t let an elderly widow escape when she owed $.27, tried to block the fall. On Sunday, Mnuchin tweeted that the public has plenty of money to borrow because he talked with CEOs of six large banks. The CEOs were confused by his tweet, and the stock market had its worst Christmas Eve in history. The other major stock exchanges dropped in equally disastrous percentages, and crude oil fell over six percent to below $43 a barrel.

DDT added to the roiling market by threatening to fire Powell, his own appointment, and asking if he has the right to carry through with his threats. Mnuchin told DDT Saturday night that Mnuchin didn’t have the right to fire Powell although the law permits the president to fire a Fed board member “for cause.” Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director/acting chief of staff, said Saturday that DDT wasn’t going to fire Powell, whose term as chair ends in 2022 and board member in 2028. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that DDT’s war on the Fed has caused some of the problems:

“Investors are increasingly spooked by the president’s wrong-headed attacks on the Fed and the Treasury Secretary’s ham-handed efforts to convince everyone Trump doesn’t mean it and that everything is fine.”

Although DDT claimed today that he was happy with Mnuchin, insiders are saying that he is upset with him. Mnuchin may follow former Defense Secretary James Mattis out of the Cabinet.

Christmas 2018 is the date that DDT cut off aid for abused women. Funding for the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) stopped when DDT’s shutdown began. Women lose their resources to be safe just before the holidays, a particularly dangerous time for them.

DDT has cut off paychecks for about 800,000 federal workers as well as planning to cut food stamps from another 800,000 people. Upset because the farm bill did not have provisions to starve people, DDT has announced his own orders last week to circumvent a law passed by Congress. DDT follows the conservative argument that people who get benefits aren’t working because they are lazy. DDT’s proposed rule removes the 20-year-old states’ rights to issues waivers if unemployment is 20 percent over the national average or there are significantly fewer jobs available than people who need work. DDT’s order to remove waivers in areas of unemployment under 7 percent will be made worse with bureaucracy such as Arkansas’s Medicaid overhaul where no waivers can be issued even in places with proof of insufficient jobs. Less than ten percent of food stamp recipients qualify as “able-bodied adults without dependents,” and over half of them work or volunteer enough time for the 20-hour work rules.

The Fox network final salvo in its “war against Christmas” blended with its war on gender identity and came from Tucker Carlson’s diatribe against gingerbread people with his guest Tammy Bruce. She claimed that gingerbread men are “obviously… they’re men.” She did indicate that she couldn’t tell the gender, “because they’re also not wearing clothes. So, it’s hard to say what they are and what they’re doing and not doing.” She probably refers to the fact that gingerbread cookies lack external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. Carlson called on people to not participate in the “spiritual neutering” of cookies. Part of the outrage came from false news reporting that the Scottish Parliament had banned the use of the term “men” when referring to gingerbread cookies. With 30 percent of women in the Scottish Parliament building stating they had been sexually harassed, the bakery renamed their cookies in solidarity.

A true war on Christmas this year is the war by DDT and the GOP against immigrants both documented and undocumented, especially those seeking asylum. A Guatemalan child died in DHS custody early this morning, the second one in less than three weeks. The cause hasn’t been announced, but children are put in extremely cold rooms when first in custody, supposedly to kill germs, and experience limited medical screening only for scabies, lice, and chickenpox. Children sleep side-by-side on mats on the floor with only a Mylar blanket. All their belongings are removed. The facilities were built in the 1980s and 1990s to temporarily house migrant adults. The 8-year-old boy’s death went unnoted in DDT’s furious tweets. Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has called for an investigation of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin after her death in custody on December 7, 2018 although the death was kept secret from Congress for almost a week.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her testimony to a House hearing that DDT’s immigration policies are unchristian and that they would have blocked Jesus Christ and his family from their flight to Egypt:

“During Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph—thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt.”

DDT skipped a presidential tradition on Christmas by avoiding any direct contact with military members on Christmas Day, instead addressing some service members on safe bases. He told them that drugs are flowing across the southern border, the Federal Reserve is endangering the U.S. economy, and Democrats are planning to harass him with oversight hearings. He said, “It’s a disgrace …, but other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.” Merry Christmas to you too, DDT!

On this Christmas Day, 705 days since DDT’s inauguration, I am grateful for a safe home with food and warmth. I don’t live in a war-torn area, I’m not a refugee from violence, I no longer teach where someone could come in to kill me and my students, I have health insurance—I could keep going on and on with the privileges that many of us have, even more privileges after DDT has declared war on every minority. The best gift for my Christmas Day—for my year—is that the nation may have a chance to save a small piece of its democracy. After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had two malignant nodules removed from her lung last week, she’s back at work in her room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors say that that there is “no evidence of remaining disease.”

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