JUST BEGINNING TO TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK AT EACH OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. WAY TOO EARLY TO MAKE UP MY MIND.
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JUST BEGINNING TO TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK AT EACH OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. WAY TOO EARLY TO MAKE UP MY MIND.
THESE PEOPLE DO NOT PRACTICE CHRISTIANITY AS I BELIEVE IT. THEY ARE "FAKE" CHRISTIANS AND A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL IS RESERVED FOR THEM. DOES ANY ONE KNOW WHEN THE LAST TIME TRUMP EVEN ATTENDED A CHURCH SERVICE?
Trump-Signed Bibles Are Selling On eBay For More Than $500
BY Chris Walker March 12, 2019
Depending on your viewpoint of the commander-in-chief (or separately, your deference to religious symbols), news that President Donald Trump had autographed Bibles for victims of storms in Alabama last week either inspired or shocked you.
Though some may have felt outraged at the president for doing so, it apparently wasn’t the first time that Trump had signed Bibles. He reportedly signed Bibles, believed by nearly a quarter of American Christians to be the literal word of God, in 2016 during his campaign stops across the country.
A Bible Reportedly Signed By Donald Trump Is For Sale On eBay https://t.co/ovdJas6pxY pic.twitter.com/qO1yPTRYQs
— Contemptor (@TheContemptor) March 12, 2019
None of the Bibles last week have been offered up for financial gain quite yet, it seems, but one of those 2016 Bibles signed by Trump was placed on the bidding website eBay by user GraphwizardCollectibles, reported KWTX out of Waco, Texas. And the “good book” wasn’t going for cheap, which means more of the signed Bibles could be up for sale sometime soon.
The signature itself in the eBay listing for the Trump-signed Bible was never authenticated, but the user selling the item suggested that the autographed book was signed by Trump in person. The listing also claimed that the book was “unopened,” although the signature is found on the inside cover of the Bible itself.
Unfortunately for those hoping to buy the 4.5-inch by 3-inch mini Bible, the listing appears to have been taken down. The account that was selling the Bible, too, appears to have been suspended: Although graphwizardcollectibles has been a user since 2015 with 200 positive reviews, eBay said the account is “no longer a registered user.”
Many people took issue with Trump signing the Bibles during his surveying of disaster areas in Alabama. But many religious leaders stopped short of calling the action heretical. Still, some individuals, including Rev. Donnie Anderson, the executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said the move was more political than religious, and took offense to Trump’s misuse of the Bible, according to reporting from the Associated Press.
Tags: AlabamaBibleDonald TrumpebayEvangelicalsreligionTrump signing bible
A WAPO OP-ED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.
Democracy Dies in Darkness
By Paul Waldman
The story of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and the president’s desperate efforts to make sure the public never saw his school records may seem relatively unimportant, even if it reveals something about Trump’s insecurities. But it’s actually an important part of the story of this entire era, of Barack Obama and the racial backlash that put Trump in the White House, a backlash that is ongoing and will feature prominently in the 2020 campaign.
In one of the more colorful moments in Cohen's recent testimony before the House, the former Trump factotum explained how his boss ordered him to contact his high schools and colleges and deliver a threat: If Trump's transcripts or test scores were ever to see the light of day, there'd be trouble.
TOO LATE. HIS FORDHAM UNIVERSITY TRANSCRIPT HAS ALREADY GONE VIRAL. IF YOU WANT A COPY, JUST CONTACT ME ON ONNIDAN MESSENGER AND PROVIDE AN E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT I CAN REPLY TO.
Cohen on Trump's SAT scores Michael Cohen said in his Feb. 27 testimony that President Trump directed him “to threaten” academic institutions regarding the release of his SAT scores. (Reuters)
Fordham University, which Trump attended before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, soon confirmed that it did indeed receive a threatening letter from Cohen, as did the New York Military Academy, where Trump went to high school. And now The Post’s Marc Fisher has more details about how concerned some of Trump’s friends were:
In 2011, days after Donald Trump challenged President Barack Obama to “show his records” to prove that he hadn’t been a “terrible student,” the headmaster at New York Military Academy got an order from his boss: Find Trump’s academic records and help bury them.
The superintendent of the private school “came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends” and who wanted to keep his records secret, recalled Evan Jones, the headmaster at the time. “He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’ ”
Obviously, if Trump were a straight-A student who aced his SATs, he would have been more than happy to have those records made public. But why would it have mattered so much even if he wasn’t? Who would really care whether a man in his 70s got a C in history class a half century ago?
It’s more than just embarrassment. The answer lies in the narrative Trump was writing, not just about himself but about Obama and the entire American system.
That narrative told white voters that their resentments and disappointments were both perfectly valid and not their fault. When Trump told them that the system was “rigged” against them, he wasn’t talking about wealth and power. He was talking about white people supposedly being held back, by immigrants and undeserving black people who had been pushed ahead of them to the front of the line.
Central to that picture was the idea that Obama was the most undeserving of all. Trump turned himself from a reality show character to a political figure by becoming the country’s most prominent advocate of birtherism, the racist theory that Obama was not a real American but, in fact, had been born in Kenya.
What may be not quite as well remembered is that Trump also repeatedly demanded that Obama release his transcripts, and claimed over and over that Obama could not possibly have gotten into Columbia University and Harvard Law School on merit. “I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?” Trump said. “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard.”
In other words, Obama must have been given a spot that should have gone to a more worthy person, who obviously would have been white (and it's no small irony that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner almost certainly was admitted to Harvard only because his father made a well-timed $2.5 million donation to the school).
By any objective measure, this is a bizarre claim. Whatever you might think of Obama’s presidency, one thing you can’t say is that he isn’t smart and talented. If he had been admitted to college or law school because of affirmative action, you couldn’t imagine a better advertisement for affirmative action. But that’s precisely why he presents such a threat to Trump himself and the larger story he tells.
On a personal level, we know that Trump is desperately insecure about his intelligence. People who are actually smart don't go around telling you how smart they are, but Trump regularly feels it necessary to proclaim himself a genius; here's a representative stream-of-consciousness soliloquy from 2016, which actually began as a rumination on nuclear weapons:
Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world.
The subtext of Trump’s repeated claims to genius and his criticisms of Obama was that electing him would replace the falsely intelligent and undeserving president (Obama) with an actually intelligent and deserving president (himself).
By 2016, that was a message the conservative base was eager to hear. They’d spent the previous eight years being told by media figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck that Obama’s entire presidency was oriented around showering benefits on lazy, undeserving black people while whites were marginalized and discriminated against. From hoaxes such as “Obamaphones” to the repeated claim that any policy initiative Obama pursued was “reparations” aimed at taking money from white people and giving it to black people, the voters who became Trump’s base knew this story well.
Which brings us to 2020. Lately, the Democratic candidates have gotten questions about reparations, and a number of them have responded that yes, we should have a concerted effort to deal with the long legacy of racism that continues to harm African Americans today in areas such as homeownership. However, they’re pointedly not talking about some kind of cash payment to the descendants of slaves, which is what people commonly understand the term “reparations” to mean.
But sooner or later, Trump is going to hit hard on “reparations,” and of course he’ll lie about what Democrats actually support. The message will be that while Trump has restored people such as you to their rightful place atop society’s hierarchy (America made great again) and if the Democrat wins, the natural order will once again be reversed.
The message will be: Fear the immigrants, hate the foreigners, resent the minorities profiting at your expense. After all, it worked in 2016, didn’t it?
HE WILL BE SENTENCED TODAY.
By Rachel Weiner
March 7 at 9:00 AM
Paul Manafort, the highflying international lobbyist who had his name stitched into his exotic leather jackets and an ‘M’ spelled out in flowers at one of his six homes, will learn Thursday whether many of his remaining years are likely to be spent in prison.
Manafort, 69, faces sentencing in the Eastern District of Virginia for bank and tax fraud, just days before he is set to go before a judge in D.C. federal court to be punished on related conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors have painted the former Trump campaign chairman as an incorrigible cheat who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Manafort contends he is mere collateral damage in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Those two perspectives must be reconciled by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, a temperamental veteran who is no fan of special prosecutors but also places high importance on acceptance of responsibility. The sentencing hearing is set for 3:30 p.m.
Sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of 19½ to 24 years for Manafort in his Virginia case. He was found guilty at trial of eight charges. While a jury deadlocked on 10 others, Manafort has since admitted culpability as part of his guilty plea in D.C. court.
Manafort’s attorneys say he is “truly remorseful” for what he did — illegally lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian politicians, hiding the millions he made from taxes in overseas bank accounts, falsifying his finances to get loans when his patrons lost power and then urging potential witnesses to lie on his behalf when he was caught.
Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaves federal court in Washington on April 4. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
At the same time, Manafort, who made his name and fortune testing the legal limits of the Washington influence industry, argues that for crossing them he should have been able to pay with money rather than years of his life. Nine months in solitary confinement and under a glaring media spotlight have already left him severely compromised, his lawyers said.
“The Special Counsel’s attempt to vilify Mr. Manafort as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court,” his lawyers wrote.
They said it was Manafort’s Ukrainian backers who chose to pay through opaque bank accounts in Cyprus. And Manafort maintains that those millions were not for a “pro-Putin politician” but to “distance Ukraine from Putin.”
It’s the same line he used to successfully rebranded the corrupt Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych as a democratic reformer and steer him to that country’s presidency in 2010. Manafort called it the “most satisfying” campaign of a career that included helping elect four American presidents.
President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is set to be sentenced by a federal judge in Virginia on March 7 for bank and tax fraud crimes. (Reuters)
The funding that made such satisfaction possible came from Rinat Akhmetov, a coal and steel baron introduced to Manafort by a close Putin ally named Oleg Deripaska. Helping consult was Manafort’s longtime Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI has assessed as having ties to Putin’s intelligence service. Kilimnik has denied any connection to Russian intelligence.
After his victory, Yanukovych went on to put his rival in prison and pull out of an agreement with the European Union. Amid widespread 2014 protests over that decision and his government’s corruption, Yanukovych fled to Russia and has remained in asylum there ever since.
It was after Yanukovych’s fall that Manafort admits he found himself suddenly short on cash; he began lying to banks to secure loans his finances were too shaky to merit.
But he argues he would have paid those banks back if not for the special counsel, which froze his cash and left him in default.
[Read prosecution sentencing memo in Paul Manafort’s Virginia case]
Prosecutors have pushed back, noting that Manafort had already been sued for failing to keep up with a $3.9 million loan before the indictment.
“The defendant blames everyone from the Special Counsel’s Office to his Ukrainian clients for his own criminal choices,” they wrote. “Manafort’s effort to shift the blame to others—as he did at trial—is not consistent with acceptance of responsibility or a mitigating factor.”
Manafort argues that while he is genuinely contrite, he has also been punished quite severely before sentencing. Until he was jailed by his D.C. judge for witness tampering, he was a “relatively healthy” man, his lawyers say; he now suffers from gout and can only walk with a cane. An “extraordinary and largely successful career” has ended in ignominy. He has been in solitary confinement for the past nine months. He has given up $15 million in assets, including his mansion in the Hamptons, a brownstone in Brooklyn and three condos in Manhattan.
All this happened, his lawyers say, not because he broke the law but because he worked for Trump and was caught up in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Unable to establish that Mr. Manafort engaged in any such collusion, the Special Counsel charged him . . . with crimes . . . unrelated to the 2016 campaign or any collusion with the Russian government,” defense attorneys wrote in a memo to the court.
Ellis repeatedly voiced similar sentiments in the run-up to trial, saying prosecutors wanted Manafort to “sing” against Trump and were using the financial charges to “turn the screws and get the information you really want.” During the trial he needled prosecutors for highlighting Manafort’s lavish lifestyle and the unsavoriness of the Ukrainian politicians who made it possible.
Prosecutors have pushed back, noting that Manafort was under investigation for years before Mueller’s appointment.
“In addition to a lack of remorse, Manafort has his facts wrong,” they wrote in a Tuesday filing. “He was being investigated by prosecutors in this district and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice prior to the May 2017 appointment of the Special Counsel.”
In letters to the court, friends and family wrote that Manafort was generous with his money, his connections and his time. He nursed his wife back to health after a brain injury and supported two daughters and a niece through their careers. When his wife’s cousin fell in love with an Iraqi street painter she met in Italy who was in danger of deportation, Manafort helped the young man get a green card and a job in the United States.
“I can honestly say he is one of the finest and most caring people I have ever known,” one longtime friend wrote.
Whatever sentence Ellis metes out, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson could add up to 10 years when Manafort is sentenced in Washington. That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
I RECEIVED A COPY OF HIS FORDHAM UNIVERSITY TRANSCRIPTS. I DO NOT KNOW FOR SURE IF IT IS AN ACCURATE DOCUMENT. IT SHOWS HIS GPA AS 1.28 E-MAIL ME AND I WILL FORWARD YOU A COPY AND YOU BE THE JUDGE AS TO ITS VERACITY AND AUTHENTICITY. IF IT IS AUTHENTIC THEN I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND WHY HE WOULD THREATEN THOSE SCHOOLS NOT TO RELEASE IT.
1.28, WHAT A DUMB-a** .
TWO YEARS IN AND YOU CAN COUNT ON TRUMP BLAMING CLINTON (WHO HE BEAT 2 YEARS AGO) FOR HIS FAILURES AND SHORTCOMINGS. SHE HAS JUST STATED SHE WILL NOT RUN IN 2020 AND THAT STILL IS NOT ENOUGH! WHEN WILL HE REALIZE THAT HE WON? ...AND NOW HIS ACTIONS HAVE HIS a** LOOKING AT POSSIBLE IMPEACHMENT...OR WORSE. IT IS EVERYONE's FAULT BUT HIS. THE ART OF THE DEAL? WHAT A JOKE. IF HE IS SO SMART, THEN WHY WILL HE NOT EVEN LET FOLKS SEE HIS SCHOOL GRADES? WHY WOULD HE THREATEN HIS PREVIOUS SCHOOLS WITH LAWSUITS ABOUT HIS GRADES? I WILL POST MY HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE AND GRAD SCHOOL GRADES RIGHT HERE ON ONNIDAN, IF HE DOES THE SAME FOR JUST ANY SCHOOL LEVEL HE CHOOSES.
...AND I WILL HONOR THIS ASSERTION, ON MY WORD, WHICH I VALUE. I DON'T CLAIM TO BE THE SMARTEST PERSON ON ONNIDAN, BUT I WOULD TAKE BETS THAT MY GRADES WERE MUCH BETTER THAN HIS.
WOULD ANY OTHER ONNIDAN POSTER BE WILLING TO DO THE SAME?
WORLD LEADERS ARE SIMPLY LAUGHING BEHIND HIS BACK AT HIS INCOMPETENT a** AND THOSE AMERICANS THAT SUPPORT HIM. HE HASN'T A REAL CLUE. HE OPERATES IN HIS OWN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE. PUTIN AND L'IL KIM ALREADY KNOW HE IS AN IDIOT -OR- THEY HAVE COMPROMISING INFORMATION ON HIM AND HE KNOWS IT. WHY ELSE WOULD HE SO READILY KISS THEIR ASSES IN PUBLIC AND TAKE THEIR SIDE OVER HIS OWN DOJ AND DOD? HE WILL SIMPLY NEVER OWN UP TO HIS FAILURES AND SHORTCOMINGS. WHERE DOES THE BUCK STOP? CERTAINLY NOT WITH HIM. HIS FIRST TWO YEARS IN OFFICE HAVE BEEN NOTHING BUT ONE SCANDAL OR RESIGNATION AFTER ANOTHER. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER WANT TO SERVE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION? LOOK AT THE QUALITY OF PEOPLE WHO SERVE? THEY ARE JUST LIKE HIM. HE IS A THEIF, A RACIST AND A LIAR. THOSE THAT SUPPORT HIM ARE SIMPLY DELUSIONAL, OPPORTUNISTS OR JUST LIKE HIM.
‘Not my fault’: Trump struggles to defend his record amid setbacks on immigration, trade, North Korea
By David Nakamura,Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey
March 6 at 6:54 PM
President Trump proclaimed in a freewheeling speech to a conference of conservatives last weekend that “America is winning again.” But his administration has been on a pronounced losing streak over the past week.
Trump is losing ground on top priorities to curb illegal immigration, cut the trade deficit and blunt North Korea’s nuclear threat — setbacks that complicate his planned reelection message as a can-do president who is making historic progress.
Late last week, Trump flew home empty-handed from a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi — and, within days, new satellite images appeared to show that the North was secretly rebuilding a rocket-launching site.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that unauthorized border crossings have spiked to the highest pace in 12 years — despite Trump’s hard-line rhetoric and new policies aimed at deterring migrants.
And on Wednesday, the Commerce Department said that the nation’s trade deficit is at a record high — in part due to punitive tariffs Trump imposed on allies and adversaries. Trump vowed throughout his 2016 campaign and during his presidency to shrink the trade deficit, which he views as a measure of other nations taking advantage of the United States.
“The president hasn’t shown much of an ability to cut good deals with Congress or anyone else,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), who is mulling a Senate run in 2020. “Almost the only time he has been successful at one of his goals is when he can set the terms unilaterally. That’s why he’s done a lot of executive orders, executive actions, like the travel ban, deregulations, emergency declaration. Those are things that don’t require any negotiation at all.”
Trump took office on a pledge to buck conventional wisdom, sideline Washington’s political class and tackle long-standing problems with a mix of outside-the-box improvisation and dealmaking skills honed during his real estate career. “I alone can fix it,” he declared at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Yet as he has struggled to fulfill some of his signature campaign promises, Trump has consistently blamed others for his woes.
He has criticized the administrations of President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush for not reforming the immigration system or reining in North Korea. He has railed at Democrats for failing to support his proposed border wall and implored them to ratify new trade deals. And he has even attacked fellow Republicans, obliquely slamming former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) during a Rose Garden news conference last month for not having pushed faster to get a deal on the wall.
White House officials argued that rather than being a setback, the immigration trends could bolster Trump’s argument that he is justified in taking unilateral action on the border. Federal authorities detained 76,103 migrants at the southern border in February, up from 58,207 a month earlier.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that the numbers were clear evidence that Trump was right to declare a national emergency last month.
U.S. President Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on Feb. 27 during a summit that later collapsed. (Evan Vucci/AP)
“If that doesn’t define crisis, I don’t know what does,” she said. “Congress should have fixed this problem. The president tried multiple times to get Congress to work with him to address the crisis. They failed to do so, and now the president has to do what is absolutely necessary.”
Republican allies praised the president for eliminating business regulations, helping pass a major tax cut in 2017, appointing two conservative Supreme Court justices and scores of lower-level judges, and nurturing an economy with low unemployment.
They emphasized that challenges such as North Korea will take time and chided Democrats for blocking Trump’s agenda.
“The House is just involved in investigations and really not concerned about legislation,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said Trump is “very frustrated right now with all of us. He wants to get results and we’re looking at a two-year period where it’s pretty obvious the other side doesn’t want to do anything.”
But Trump’s critics said his policies have made things worse.
On immigration, the administration has sought to block asylum seekers at legal ports of entry along the border, prompting them to try to find alternative pathways into the country. The president shut down parts of the federal government for 35 days — the longest such closure in U.S. history — in an ill-fated fight for border wall funding, even though experts said the surge of migrant families is not a threat to national security and that a wall would do little to curb it.
On trade, Trump’s tariff war with China has harmed U.S. farmers as Beijing slashed agricultural imports. Although the president has signaled that a trade deal is close, analysts said an accord would not fundamentally alter the U.S. trade relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.
And on North Korea, officials have said, the president’s decision to rush forward with bilateral summits with Kim have led to difficulties for U.S. negotiators engaging with their counterparts over technical and complicated nuclear matters, as Kim has preferred to deal directly with Trump.
Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN, a liberal think tank, noted that the tax cut has not met GOP projections for economic growth and could add significantly to the ballooning federal deficit.
“The reality is he can’t point to a single thing that’s better today than when he came to office,” Rosenberg said.
Although he has projected confidence, Trump has fretted in private over his difficulties. During the government shutdown, the president’s approval ratings dipped to 37 percent in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, one of the lowest marks of his tenure.
Since then, his numbers have fluctuated. This week, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll put his approval at 46 percent, while a Quinnipiac University survey pegged it at 38 percent.
During a marathon speech Saturday to the Conservative Political Action Committee, Trump veered off script, spending much of the time attacking his rivals, including congressional Democrats, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and news organizations. Trump spent less time on his governing record.
On trade, he defended his use of tariffs and suggested the United States had accrued large trade deficits because past administrations were afraid to use that tool as leverage. On North Korea, he blamed the Obama administration for allowing the Kim regime to send “rockets flying all over the place” and said his team was “making a lot of progress.” On immigration, Trump called current U.S. laws “crazy” and said he felt empowered to declare a national emergency “because our Congress can’t act.”
“Not my fault I inherited this mess, but we’re fixing it,” he said during the speech.
Trump at times also appears determined to prove that he is making progress. He publicly contradicted his own intelligence chiefs, who testified to Congress in January that there is no evidence that North Korea is willing to give up its nuclear program.
Asked by a reporter Wednesday about the satellite images that showed construction work at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, Trump said he would be “very disappointed” if the news is confirmed, but he added that it was “a very early report.”
Senior White House aides have sought to cast the Hanoi summit as a sign of Trump’s negotiating fortitude and unwillingness to settle for a bad deal. Yet Trump has grown frustrated by the largely negative coverage of the summit, a senior White House official said, and his aides briefed lawmakers this week to explain his goals. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to characterize internal discussions.
“He thought they closed the gap on some issues,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said. “He just said, ‘North Korea isn’t ready to make a deal.’ ”
Last year, Trump berated Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over the rising border crossings. Though he no longer blames Nielsen, aides said, Trump told his staff that the shutdown dispute sent an important message to his conservative base that he is fighting for them.
On trade, Trump postponed a March 1 deadline to impose another round of tariffs on China in hopes of a deal. White House aides are planning events for Trump and Vice President Pence in the Midwest this spring to tout an updated trade deal reached last year with Canada and Mexico that Congress has yet to ratify.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said in an interview that farmers support Trump but are growing antsy.
“These folks are with you, they want to see you be successful,” Rounds said, speaking as if he was sending a message to Trump. “But you’re going to have to deliver some results.”
LARGEST U.S. TRADE DEFICIT IN HISTORY HAS JUST BEEN ANNOUNCED. WHEN ARE VOTERS GOING TO WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT TRUMP DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING?
Trump promised to shrink the trade deficit. Instead, it exploded.
By David J. Lynch
March 6 at 8:41 AM
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.
The trade gap with China also hit a record $419 billion, underscoring the stakes for the president’s bid to reach a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping as soon as this month.
The department’s final 2018 trade report, which was delayed by the partial government shutdown, showed that the United States bought far more in foreign goods than it sold to customers in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.
A broader measure of the nation’s trade performance, which includes the services sector, showed a $621 billion deficit. That reflected a deterioration of more than $100 billion from the figure Trump inherited from president Barack Obama.
[Trump’s trade war has started. Who’s been helped and who’s been hurt?]
It has been evident for months that Trump was not shrinking a trade gap that he calls “unsustainable” and that he says represents a major transfer of wealth from Americans to foreigners. Over the past year, even as he imposed tariffs on foreign-made solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum and assorted goods from China, imports roared ahead of exports.
What is a trade deficit, anyway?
The president wants to shrink the trade deficit. The Fact Checker explains why a deficit isn't all bad. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
The president thus begins his reelection drive with a core campaign promise unfulfilled — and with a recent flurry of economic research showing that his embrace of tariffs is damaging the U.S. economy.
Economists say the trade deficit is swelling because of broad economic forces, including a chronic shortfall in national savings that was exacerbated by last year’s $1.5 trillion corporate and personal income tax cut. As cash-flush businesses and consumers increased their spending, purchases of imported goods rose while the overvalued dollar weighed on exports.
“Macroeconomics end up ruling. You can’t wish it away. You can’t tariff it away,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Commerce Department report comes amid indications that negotiations with China over a broad trade agreement may be in their final weeks. China has offered to buy a reported $1.2 trillion in additional American products over the next six years in a deal that reportedly would ease each side’s tariffs, usher in changes to Beijing’s state-led economic model and include tough new enforcement mechanisms.
But most economists say that such increased Chinese purchases probably would only divert U.S. shipments from other foreign customers, shrinking the trade gap with China but leaving the global balance largely unchanged. With the economy at or close to full employment, U.S. farms and factories have a limited ability to sharply increase output to meet a sudden increase in Chinese orders.
“That reality is not going to change,” said economist Matthew J. Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
Any deal with China would mark a milestone in Trump’s tariff war, although not its end. The Commerce Department on Monday began investigating whether imports of titanium sponges, used in chemical plants and military hardware, represent a national security threat.
The president has used similar studies to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum and has threatened to apply them to imported cars and car parts.
Trump persists with the import levies even as some supporters also push for him to act on other forces fueling the trade deficit, including a robust dollar.
The dollar is now valued 19 percent above its 10-year average against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, according to Federal Reserve data.
The high dollar acts as a price increase for American exporters, making it harder to compete with foreign rivals.
“A competitive dollar is the most important tool we have to spur economic growth and job creation in the U.S. economy,” said Michael Stumo, chief executive of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.
[China has a big weapon that it hasn’t used in the trade war — yet. Tourists.]
The United States typically runs a sizable surplus in its global services trade, which includes spending by foreign tourists and students, financial services and consulting, partly offsetting the larger goods gap.
The best chance of the trade deficit shrinking anytime soon would require an economic downturn that no one wants. In 2009, amid the Great Recession, the trade deficit fell 40 percent from the peak three years earlier, to about $506 billion.
“If you want to lower the trade deficit, have a recession,” Reinsch said.
Trump has long been convinced that the United States gets a raw deal from its trade ties. As a New York real estate magnate in the 1980s, he routinely complained about Japanese auto companies and investors who bought iconic American properties such as Rockefeller Center and California’s Pebble Beach.
In a 2016 campaign speech in Pennsylvania, Trump called the trade deficit a “politician-made disaster” and promised swift change. “We can turn it all around — and we can turn it around fast,” he said.
Trump has used tariffs and import taxes more aggressively than any American president since the 1930s. In a March 2 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference , he called them “the greatest negotiating tool in the history of our country” and credited them with bringing trade partners such as China to the bargaining table.
The president has negotiated new agreements with South Korea and North American neighbors Canada and Mexico, and he appears close to a deal with China. But it’s too soon to say what effect those agreements will have on the deficit.
Changes in U.S. tariffs called for in the South Korean deal took effect only on Jan. 1, while Congress has yet to act on the new North American agreement.
Still, tariffs have proved to be a blunt weapon. The president often boasts about how much money the U.S. government is reaping from tariffs.
“Billions of dollars, right now, are pouring into our Treasury,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2, adding that Chinese exporters are absorbing almost the entire burden of the tariffs.
But a pair of new studies concludes that he is wrong. “When we impose a tariff, it is the domestic consumers and purchasers of imports that bear the full cost of the tariffs,” said David Weinstein, an economics professor at Columbia University, who co-wrote one of the papers.
Weinstein said the president appears to be relying on a 2018 analysis of data from the 1990s, when the United States represented a larger share of the global economy and had more leverage over exporters in other countries.
Weinstein’s study, co-written with Mary Amiti of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Princeton University’s Stephen J. Redding, reviewed what actually occurred last year after U.S. tariffs took effect. It concluded that Americans paid the entire tariff bill.
A second study — by four economists from the University of California at Los Angeles, Yale University, the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University — reached the same conclusion.
That study also found that workers in Republican-leaning counties, especially in farm states, suffered the greatest losses from tariffs that U.S. trading partners imposed in retaliation for the president’s actions.
Trump’s tariffs also may cause U.S. companies to write off sizable investments in their Chinese factories as they scramble to shift operations to safer venues, said the study by Weinstein, Amiti and Redding. If the tariffs continue, about $165 billion worth of trade would be redirected each year, they added.
The study also found sizable costs relative to any expected benefits. If the tariffs led to the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs — equal to all the steel and aluminum jobs lost in the past decade — they would cost $195,000 per job, the study found.
“The costs of the trade war are quite large relative to optimistic estimates of any gains that are likely to be achieved,” the three economists wrote.
I WONDER HOW MANY OF THOSE SOON TO BE UNEMPLOYED WORKERS VOTED FOR HIM? WHEN HE LAST VISITED HE TOLD THEM NOT TO SELL THEIR HOMES AND EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT. I WONDER HOW MANY UNEMPLOYED COAL MINERS BELIEVE THAT THE COAL INDUSTRY IS GOING TO TAKE OFF AGAIN BECAUSE HE SAID SO?
DO YOU FEEL SAFER NOW THAT TRUMP AND KIM ARE BEST BUDS NOW? THIS REVELATION COMES JUST DAYS AFTER THE LAST "SUMMIT" BETWEEN THE TWO IN VIETNAM.
IT JUST GETS BETTER BY THE DAY.
The Plum Line Opinion
New revelations implicate Donald Trump Jr. in his father’s nefarious schemes
By Greg Sargent
March 6 at 10:33 AM
We now have concrete confirmation that Donald Trump Jr. signed checks reimbursing Michael Cohen for payments he made as part of a criminal scheme on President Trump’s behalf. The New York Times has obtained eight of the checks from Trump’s accounts reimbursing hush-money payments made by Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer.
The signature of Trump’s eldest son is on two of them.
The eight checks bolster the outlines of the story Cohen has told. He recently testified that during the campaign, Trump knowingly entered into a conspiracy with him to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels about an alleged affair, a criminal violation of campaign finance laws at Trump’s direction, and then reimbursed Cohen throughout 2017, while Trump was president.
Two of the checks came from a trust and thus were signed by Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and Trump Jr.
In a remarkable coincidence, the Times reports that one of the checks signed by Trump Jr. was issued on the same day that a Trump aide confirmed that the president had helped dictate a statement by Trump Jr. falsifying the rationale behind the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting. At that meeting Trump Jr. eagerly tried to conspire with Russia to corrupt our election on his father’s behalf.
That confluence of events neatly captures the seamy role that Trump Jr. has played throughout this whole affair, on multiple fronts.
Trump Jr.’s legal exposure remains unclear
Legal experts I spoke with say the significance of Trump Jr.’s involvement in the hush-money scheme remains uncertain. One question is whether Trump Jr. was involved in the original conspiracy in the fall of 2016 to pay the hush money and whether he understood the payments as campaign expenditures.
Cohen has declared that Trump fully understood these payments in these terms, and prosecutors have charged that Cohen carried them out at Trump’s “direction,” violating campaign finance laws, which is why Trump may end up getting charged after he leaves office.
But what about Trump Jr.?
Bob Bauer, the White House counsel under President Barack Obama, points out that Trump Jr. was a senior campaign official and may have been involved in discussions over the need to keep affairs alleged by Daniels and Karen McDougal under wraps for campaign purposes. Indeed, prosecutors have charged that Cohen “coordinated” these actions with “one or more members of the campaign.”
“If Trump Jr. was acting on behalf of the campaign and involved in the conversation about the importance to the campaign of keeping this quiet, then he’s in the circle of co-conspirators,” Bauer told me, though he repeatedly stressed that we know very little about what happened.
Then there’s the question of what Trump Jr. knew about the original payments when he signed the checks in 2017 reimbursing them.
“If he was aware of the purpose of the payments, then I think he could be on the hook for conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws,” former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade told me. McQuade added that in this scenario, Trump Jr. would know that he and his father need to reimburse the payments in “installments, so as not to draw attention” to the payments and their original purpose of avoiding damage to the campaign.
The question, McQuade said, is whether Trump Jr. “knew that was the scheme.” He may have just signed the checks without a full sense of why Cohen was getting reimbursed. “It really comes down to his knowledge and intent,” McQuade noted, adding that Weisselberg (who was granted limited immunity to testify about the payments) might shed light on that.
If Trump Jr. does have exposure, then the question would be why prosecutors haven’t charged him yet. “It may be that they’re not done investigating or are looking for additional participants,” McQuade said. “It may be that they have other crimes or defendants they’re thinking of including.” Or it may be nothing.
Trump Jr.’s role in Russiagate remains cloudy
Cohen testified that reports of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians spurred him to remember an episode in which Trump Jr. may have told his father about the meeting in advance.
We have no idea whether this is true. But former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon has said: “The chance that Don. Jr. did not walk these Jumos up to his father’s office on the 26th floor is zero.”
Here’s what we do know: Trump Jr.’s own emails show that he eagerly wanted to conspire with a foreign power’s efforts to sabotage U.S. democracy, and he followed up by holding a meeting in pursuit of that end in his father’s signature skyscraper. He and his father subsequently issued a statement lying to America to cover this up.
It’s fitting, in a way, that this act was confirmed on the date that one of these checks was issued. Because the bottom line on all this is that Trump had illicit help in getting elected president in two ways — from both the criminal scheme Cohen carried out, allegedly at Trump’s direction, and from Russia’s wide-ranging plot to corrupt our democracy, on Trump’s behalf. And Trump Jr. had at least some involvement, however limited, in both.
Even if not a single additional criminal charge is brought, all of that will remain true.
There is probably no one in Trump’s orbit who spends more time aggressively taunting the president’s critics and pursuers than Trump Jr. does. In so doing, he often seems to be daring the fates to come at him with a brash confidence that he will skirt any consequences, even as emerging facts seem to implicate him ever more deeply in multiple aspects of his father’s wrongdoing and alleged criminality.
Whether that confidence amounts to hubris that will ultimately bring him down remains to be seen.
IF I AM ALIVE I WILL BE IN FRONT OF A TV SET TO SEE THIS ON APRIL 14TH. ONLY SIX EPISODES LEFT AND EACH IS ESSENTIALLY A 2-HOUR MOVIE. CAN'T WAIT!!!
« on: March 05, 2019, 10:06:31 AM »
HAS ANYONE SEEN THE CARAVAN FROM SOUTH AMERICA YET?