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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,230

Journal Archives

Crashing Economy, Rising Stocks: What's Going On?

What’s bad for America is sometimes good for the market.

The economic news has been terrible. Never mind Wednesday’s G.D.P. report for the first quarter. An economy contracting at an annual rate of almost 5 percent would have been considered very bad in normal times, but this report only captured the first few drops of a torrential downpour. More timely data show an economy falling off a cliff. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting an unemployment rate of 16 percent later this year, and that may well be an underestimate.

Yet stock prices, which fell in the first few weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, have made up much of those losses. They’re currently more or less back to where they were last fall, when all the talk was about how well the economy was doing. What’s going on?

Well, whenever you consider the economic implications of stock prices, you want to remember three rules. First, the stock market is not the economy. Second, the stock market is not the economy. Third, the stock market is not the economy.

That is, the relationship between stock performance — largely driven by the oscillation between greed and fear — and real economic growth has always been somewhere between loose and nonexistent. Back in the 1960s the great economist Paul Samuelson famously quipped that the market had predicted nine of the past five recessions.


U.S. officials crafting retaliatory actions against China over coronavirus as President Trump fumes

Source: Washington Post

The president has in recent days told aides and others that China has to pay for the outbreak and publicly floated demanding billions in compensation

Senior U.S. officials are beginning to explore proposals for punishing or demanding financial compensation from China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to four senior administration officials with knowledge of internal planning.

The move could splinter already strained relations between the two superpowers at a perilous moment for the global economy.

Senior officials across multiple government agencies are expected to meet Thursday to begin mapping out a strategy for seeking retaliatory measures against China, two people with knowledge of the meeting said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose the planning. Officials in American intelligence agencies are also involved in the effort.

President Trump has fumed to aides and others in recent days about China, blaming the country for withholding information about the virus, and has discussed enacting dramatic measures that would probably lead to retaliation by Beijing, these people said.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/30/trump-china-coronavirus-retaliation/

Dipshit always has to find a scapegoat for his screwups.

The iconic brands that could disappear because of coronavirus

The retail industry, rife with bankruptcies and shuttered stores long before the coronavirus, is facing its biggest test yet.

Lockdowns triggered by the pandemic have forced the temporary closures of 263,000 stores, according to GlobalData Retail, and analysts say it remains to be seen how many will be able to reopen.

A number of the nation’s most iconic brands are at risk of disappearing, as weeks-long lockdowns and deep economic unrest disrupts consumer spending. More than 100,000 stores could disappear by the end of 2025, according to UBS. There already are signs of distress: Retail sales plummeted 8.7 percent in March, their worst drop on record, and analysts say conditions will only worsen in the coming months.

The crisis accelerates a long-expanding divide between the nation’s strongest retailers — like Amazon, Walmart and Target — and its weakest. Department stores and apparel companies have reported huge drops in sales since March, as many Americans hunker down at home. Other sectors, like restaurants and car dealerships, which have notoriously low profit margins, also have been hard-hit.


Republicans overturned Florida voters' will. They must not win for good.

NEARLY TWO-THIRDS of Florida voters backed a state constitutional amendment 18 months ago to re-enfranchise released felons, an overwhelming bipartisan consensus that was promptly negated by Republican legislators. Those state lawmakers, determined to block ballot access to hundreds of thousands of Floridians — most of them white but a disproportionate share African American — now face their day in court in a lawsuit brought by the very citizens whose most basic civil rights they have tried to deny.

As Florida Republicans try to run out the clock ahead of the November presidential election, a trial started Monday in federal court in which former felons who have completed their sentences, including parole and probation, are contesting the GOP’s attempt to overturn the results of Florida’s 2018 referendum. They should prevail: The GOP action is an affront to the popular will. An estimated 1.4 million released felons in Florida, nearly 10 percent of the state’s voting-age population, were prohibited from voting as of 2016 — the highest number and percentage in the United States, according to the Sentencing Project. Among that cohort were a half-million African Americans, 20 percent of the state’s voting-age blacks.

Nearly 65 percent of Florida voters opted to undo those injustices, a lopsided majority in an electorate often closely divided. Undeterred, Republicans in Tallahassee led by Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted a bill last year that neutered the referendum’s outcome by barring any ex-convict from voting until their court costs and fees are paid.

According to expert testimony, more than 80 percent of Floridians who have completed their felony sentences still owe money — over $1 billion statewide. In many cases, though, it is virtually impossible for those individuals to find a definitive accounting of their debts. No state agency has a complete record, and some former felons who try to ascertain and pay what they owe descend into a rabbit hole of bureaucratic dysfunction and spotty record-keeping that varies wildly from county to county — “a mess,” in the words of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who is overseeing the lawsuit.


Joe Walsh: You can't win, Justin Amash. You can only help Trump get reelected.

President Trump is everything our Founders feared. He routinely misleads or outright lies to the American people, he puts his own interests ahead of the nation, he can’t handle dissent, he mocks our most precious institutions, he’s intentionally divisive. A few months ago, he was impeached. He’s currently bungling the nation’s response to a global pandemic.

Ex-Republican Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) knows all of this. He, like me and the majority of Americans who don’t approve of the job Trump is doing, and who aren’t Fox News-watching minions, know that four more years of this presidency would cause permanent damage to this country. Which makes Amash’s announcement last night that he’s forming a presidential exploratory committee — to mount a run for the Libertarian Party nomination — so damn perplexing. And so disappointing.

I consider Justin a friend. We’re former colleagues, both elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave. In my brief tour there, I was more of a smash-mouth guy. It landed me in hot water more than once. But voters sent me to Congress to shake things up, and that’s what I tried to do. Amash was a cooler customer, using Facebook to meticulously explain his votes to constituents.

Despite our different styles, we both were ultimately despised by the Republican Party establishment because we voted our beliefs and didn’t toe the party line. We both learned the hard way that some of our former House colleagues, such as Trump attack dog Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Trump’s former acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney — who both served with Amash in the House Freedom Caucus — were all talk.


CNN to Show Phone Number of Poison-Control Hotline Whenever Trump Speaks

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—CNN announced on Tuesday that it will show the phone number of a national poison-control hotline whenever Donald Trump appears on the air.

Speaking on behalf of the network, Wolf Blitzer, the veteran anchor, said that CNN was adopting the new policy out of concern for “the health and safety of our viewers.” “At CNN, we strive to keep our viewers informed. But, in order to do that, we must first keep them alive,” he said.

In order to implement the new policy, Sanjay Gupta, the network’s chief medical correspondent, will monitor CNN’s programming on a twenty-four-hour basis for any signs of Trump. “The moment Donald Trump appears, Sanjay will flip a switch and the flashing poison-control number will appear onscreen,” Blitzer said.

The phone number will disappear as soon as someone other than Trump, such as Anthony Fauci, begins to speak. “If Trump interrupts Dr. Fauci and starts talking again, Sanjay will punch the number back up,” the host of “The Situation Room" indicated.

CNN decided to institute the new measure after it became apparent that Trump had not followed through on his threat to stop appearing at coronavirus briefings. “Clearly, the danger has not passed,” Blitzer said.


Teleconferencing Pastor Requests Any Worshipper Currently Speaking In Tongues Go On Mute

DEPEW, OK—In an effort to reduce disruptions during a prayer meeting held by teleconference Tuesday, Pastor Terry McEvers of the First Pentecostal Church of God reportedly asked that any congregants presently speaking in tongues place themselves on mute for the duration of the service.

“Though it is only natural for the Holy Spirit to overwhelm us as we gather in praise, we have quite a lot of God’s children on the line this morning, so I need those of you crying out in the heavenly language to turn off your device’s microphone,” said McEvers, gently reminding worshippers that while the Lord had blessed them with the latest technologies for allowing His flock to gather in His name, the platform had its limitations and simply could not handle the ecstatic, rapid-fire vocalizations of everyone on the call simultaneously.

“If we all fall to the floor and unleash our miraculous gift of tongues at the same time, then everyone will just be shouting their divinely inspired strings of syllables over everyone else, and no one will understand what’s going on. A big garbled mess like that won’t do anybody any good.”

According to sources, the pastor went on to request that members enable video on their devices if they intended to take up serpents, because that’s something no one ever gets tired of watching.


Trump apologists' defense has been obliterated by 'But Lysol'

As the death toll mounted, the unemployment rate zoomed well into double-digit territory and the fantasy of a quick end to the pandemic faded, President Trump’s polling numbers had already dropped. A series of polls last week showed him trailing nationally and losing against former vice president Joe Biden in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. His advice to reopen the economy backfired as the country overwhelming signaled disapproval of the AstroTurfed protests and the popularity of governors whom Trump criticized rose. And then came the moment that perfectly epitomized his presidency, captured word for word in an ad for Republicans for the Rule of Law:

When your opponents can run a minute of your own blathering, it pretty much proves you blew it. But this is not simply another gaffe for Trump or even another dumb idea like the wall. This was an extended conversation reflecting the grotesque ignorance and total unfitness of the man who at every turn has failed to protect the country during the worst domestic crisis since the Great Depression. It illustrated how he intellectually corrupts those around him, forcing them to sacrifice their own credibility to defend his inanities.

During the preceding three years, when Trump critics pointed to his incompetence, racism, cruelty, lying, contempt for democracy, economic illiteracy or xenophobia, his defenders would retort “but tax cuts” or “but Gorsuch.” Essentially, they argued, we had to forget about everything else because Trump had bestowed upon the right their precious tax cuts (along with a sustained recovery) and Supreme Court picks that gave conservatives a 5-4 majority on most cases.

The apologists ignored that any conservative president would have produced similar results or that policy ends do not justify the destruction of civility, decency or democracy. Nevertheless, it was enough to keep on board the wealthy donor class and the right-wing evangelical Christian hypocrites who were pleased to overlook his un-Christian conduct and character for the sake of some judges. It was enough to satisfy those willing to be persuaded and unwilling to admit their vote for him had been a tragic mistake.


Will this crisis change the Republican Party? Don't bet on it.

When a crisis occurs, the common response from politicians is what economist Larry Summers once termed “now-more-than-everism.” Everyone says the solution lies in the policies they’ve favored all along, which are needed now more than ever.

Except some crises are less amenable to one side’s now-more-than-ever than others. While Democrats can comfortably say that the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis demand the kind of aggressive government action and strong safety net they always favor, Republicans are in a more complicated position. Which is why we’re seeing the first signs of a conflict that could roil their party after November, should Donald Trump lose his bid for reelection.

Not that most Republicans have had their minds changed by this crisis. They’ve gone along with a few trillion dollars in spending, but they’re hardly agreeing that we actually could use universal health coverage and automatic stabilizers that offer quick help to people in any economic downturn.

And they’ll be more than happy to begin deficit fearmongering as an excuse for austerity at the earliest opportunity — i.e., if there’s a Democrat in the White House to suffer the consequences. “As soon as the economy recovers, we are going to need significant deficit reforms,” one conservative economist told The Post. You may recall that even before the pandemic, Trump and Republicans had pushed the deficit past a trillion dollars, with only the most muted objections from conservatives. Should Trump be reelected, all those who claim to be deeply concerned about the debt will say that we really should do something about it — but not quite yet, not when cutting spending or raising taxes might be too damaging to a Republican president.

But what if Trump loses? How will the party understand what happened and where they should go?


The coming rupture in the U.S.-China relationship will have tragic consequences

It didn’t have to end this way, but the die is now cast. After 48 years of painstaking progress, a major rupture of the U.S.-China relationship is at hand. This is a tragic outcome for both sides — and for the world.

From an unnecessary trade war to an increasingly desperate coronavirus war, two angry countries are trapped in a blame game with no easy way out.

A nationalistic American public is fed up with China. According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 66% of U.S. citizens now view China in an unfavorable light — six points worse than last summer and the highest negative reading since Pew introduced this question some 15 years ago. While this shift was more evident for Republicans, those older than 50, and college graduates, unfavorable sentiment among Democrats, younger cohorts, and the less educated also hit record highs.

An equally nationalistic Chinese public is also irate at the United States. That is not just because President Donald Trump insisted on dubbing a global pandemic the “Chinese virus.” It is also because whispers turned into shouts linking the outbreak of COVID-19 to alleged suspicious activities at the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.

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