March 4, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 PM


Trump's trade war is politically motivated, yet hurts consumers and GOP voters, study shows (MICHAEL HILTZIK, MAR 04, 2019, LA Times)

President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave a meeting together in Beijing in 2017. Their trade war continues. (Nicolas Asfouri / AFP/Getty Images)
The economic rationale for President Trump's trade war with China has been so threadbare and the likelihood of losses so great that no one should be surprised that it hasn't been the success Trump predicted.

But the nature of its failure hasn't been quantified, until now. In a newly released study draft, a team of economists find that U.S. consumers have paid the entire price for Trump's tariffs. Producers in America's agricultural heartland -- largely Republican -- have been especially hammered.

"Workers in very Republican counties," they write, "bore the brunt of the costs of [the] trade war." Those in Democratic-leaning counties, meanwhile, "ended up experiencing relative gains (that is, experienced the smallest losses.)"

Of course, his supporters should bear the cost of race-driven policies.

Posted by orrinj at 6:36 PM


Google found it was underpaying more men than women for similar jobs (Lauren Feiner, 3/04/19, CNBC)

In an effort to address wage equity among women and members of minority groups, Google studied its own practices as it does every year. But the results showed the company was underpaying more men than women for doing similar jobs in software engineering.

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 PM


U.S. lawmakers complain Trump has taken 'no meaningful action' on abuse of China Muslims (David Brunnstrom, 3/04/19, Reuters)

"This issue is bigger than just China. It is about demonstrating to strongmen globally that the world will hold them accountable for their actions," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The group is led by Eliot Engel, Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and includes Republican ranking member Representative Ted Yoho.

A dictator abusing Muslims is the sweet spot.

Posted by orrinj at 5:27 PM


Last Year Was the Deadliest for Pedestrians Since 1990 (DANIEL C. VOCK, FEBRUARY 28, 2019, Governing)
Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise for a decade, reaching their highest level since 1990 last year. According to preliminary estimates, there were 6,227 U.S. pedestrian deaths in 2018.

Posted by orrinj at 4:55 PM


What Do the 13 Republicans Who Voted Against Trump's Emergency Declaration Have in Common?: It's not their ideology. Or the composition of their district. (ANDY SMARICK  MARCH 4, 2019, The Bulwark)

[A] curious--and potentially encouraging--event took place Tuesday: Thirteen Republicans in the House voted against the president's contrived emergency declaration. And what stood out about that group was how young they skewed.

Before the vote, I suspected that dissenting Republicans would be long-experienced institutionalists and conspicuous constitutionalists. People who'd been in Congress for decades and, thanks to seniority and a history of standing up for constitutional principles, had the freedom to buck House leadership and the White House on a vote that was lost anyway.

There were a few of those among the 13 dissidents. Four were 60 or older, and Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Fred Upton, for instance, have each been in Congress for more than 30 years.

But Reps. Justin Amash, Elise Stefanik, and Mike Gallagher are in their 30s. Another four are between 40 and 45. None of these members have been in the House for a decade.

Age stands out because other obvious factors do not. Of the 13, a few won their 2018 elections in squeakers, but several others got more than 60 percent of the vote. Only two of the 13 are members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Ideology wasn't a clear predictor either. According to govtrack, Amash was the fifth-most liberal GOP member in the 115th Congress, but Stefanik and Gallagher were in the more conservative half of the caucus. Sensenbrenner and Francis Rooney had more conservative voting records than most of the GOP caucus, but Thomas Massie and Greg Walden had more liberal voting records.

In the last Congress, the average age in the House was about 58. In this new Congress, that number has fallen, largely because of the massive influx of young Democrats. Perhaps these young dissident Republicans are taking some inspiration from their new, forward-leaning colleagues across the aisle. Or maybe their relative youth gives them the opportunity to take the long view and realize that hitching their wagons to the Trump administration is unwise.

Posted by orrinj at 4:53 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:49 PM


Trump Told Cohen to Lie to Congress About "Collusion" in General--Not just the Moscow Tower deal (Ryan Goodman, March 4, 2019, just Security)

One of the jaw-dropping moments last Wednesday was the revelation of a White House meeting on Thursday, May 18, 2017 between President Trump, Cohen, and another of Trump's personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow. The purpose of the May 2017 meeting, according to apparently independent information in the possession of Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and confirmed by Cohen, included Cohen's upcoming testimony before the House. What did President Trump tell Cohen to do in his testimony? Cohen testified, "He wanted me to cooperate. He also wanted just to ensure, I'm making the statement and I said it in my testimony, there is no Russia, there is no collusion, there is no -- there is no deal" (my emphasis added).

Connolly followed up by asking Cohen if the President coached him in how to testify. Cohen replied that Trump does not make these messages directly but the message was clear. Cohen said, "I know what he means because I've been around him for so long. So, if you're asking me whether or not that's the message, that's staying on point, that's the party line that he created that so many others are now touting, yes, that's the message that he wanted to reinforce." Cohen repeated the line that Trump told Cohen to maintain, "What he does is, again, 'Michael, there's no Russia, there's no collusion, there's no involvement, there's no interference'" (emphasis added).

CONNOLLY: In any way, final question, did the president, in any way from your point of view, coach you, in terms of how to respond to questions or the content of your testimony before a House Committee?

COHEN: Again, it's a difficult answer, because he doesn't tell you what he wants. What he does is, again, 'Michael, there's no Russia, there's no collusion, there's no involvement, there's no interference.'

I know what he means because I've been around him for so long. So, if you're asking me whether or not that's the message, that's staying on point, that's the party line that he created that so many others are now touting, yes, that's the message that he wanted to reinforce.

Cohen elaborated how Trump gives subordinates directions in response to a question by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mi). "He doesn't give you orders. He speaks in a code and I understand the code, because I've been around him for a decade," Cohen said.

AMASH: All right, but you suggested that the president sometimes communicates his wished indirectly. For example you said, quote, "Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress, that's not how he operates." End quote. Can you explain how he does this?

COHEN: Sure. It would be no different if I said, that's the nicest looking tie I've ever seen, isn't it? What are you going do? Are you going fight with him? The answer is no. So, you say, yes, it's the nicest looking tie I've ever seen. That's how he speaks. He doesn't give you questions. He doesn't give you orders. He speaks in a code and I understand the code, because I've been around him for a decade.

Cohen's sentencing memorandum, which he submitted to the federal court, flatly states that Cohen's conduct involving false statements to Congress on the Moscow Tower deal "was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1's directives." The term "directives" also fits Cohen's description of how Trump told Cohen, during the May 2017 meeting, to testify about collusion.

Posted by orrinj at 1:47 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:43 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


The Steele Dossier's 'Corroborated' Claims Were Old News (ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, March 4, 2019, National Review)

By autumn 2015, the FBI knew that the DNC servers had been hacked and that Russian operatives were surely the culprit. The Times reported as much on December 13, 2016.

It is well known in Western intelligence circles that WikiLeaks is, at least in part, a willing agent of Russian intelligence.

On June 12, 2016, over a month before WikiLeaks published the hacked DNC emails, Julian Assange gave an interview on the British television network ITV. In it, he announced, "We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton. . . . We have emails pending publication."

By the time of this June 12 interview, WikiLeaks had already published a searchable index of approximately 30,000 emails from the private server on which Secretary Clinton had systematically conducted State Department business. These were the emails that she disclosed to the State Department two years after leaving office, falsely claiming they were the only ones she had that involved government business.

The natural speculation after Assange's interview was that WikiLeaks had, and was poised to release, some or all of the approximately 32,000 emails Clinton had deleted and attempted to destroy -- i.e., the emails she had not surrendered to the State Department, falsely claiming none of them involved government business. But that is not what Assange said. To repeat, he coyly indicated only that the emails he was planning to publish were "in relation to Hillary Clinton."

Consequently, when WikiLeaks began publishing the hacked DNC emails on July 22, 2016, it was quickly and widely concluded that the Russians were responsible for the cyberespionage operation.

In one fell swoop he's gone from defending Donald to: acknowledging that collusion is obvious; conceding the FISA warrants did not require the dossier;  taking out Devin Nunes; and, defending the veracity of the dossier.  That's some Deep State level stuff.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 3:55 AM


US Palestinian mission in Jerusalem to merge with Israel embassy (Middle East Monitor, March 4, 2019 )

The US consulate in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new US Embassy to Israel on Monday, the State Department said, a planned merger that has angered Palestinian leadership, Reuters reports.

One of those instances of accidental clarity.

Posted by orrinj at 3:52 AM

MADE MEN(DACITY) [profanity alert]:

The Making of the Fox News White House: Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda? (Jane Mayer, 3/11/19, The New Yorker)

When Shine assumed command at Fox, the 2016 campaign was nearing its end, and Trump and Clinton were all but tied. That fall, a reporter had a story that put the network's journalistic integrity to the test. Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels. Falzone had worked on the story since March, and by October she had confirmed it with Daniels through her manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, and with Daniels's former husband, Mike Moz, who described multiple calls from Trump. Falzone had also amassed e-mails between Daniels's attorney and Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract.

But Falzone's story didn't run--it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, "Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go." LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone's colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.

Despite the discouragement, Falzone kept investigating, and discovered that the National Enquirer, in partnership with Trump, had made a "catch and kill" deal with Daniels--buying the exclusive rights to her story in order to bury it. Falzone pitched this story to Fox, too, but it went nowhere. News of Trump's payoffs to silence Daniels, and Cohen's criminal attempts to conceal them as legal fees, remained unknown to the public until the Wall Street Journal broke the story, a year after Trump became President.

In January, 2017, Fox demoted Falzone without explanation. That May, she sued the network. Her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, declined to comment but acknowledged that a settlement has been reached; it includes a nondisclosure agreement that bars Falzone from talking about her work at Fox. [...]

Last June, after only six months of deliberation, the Trump Administration approved Fox's bid to sell most of its entertainment assets to Disney, for seventy-one billion dollars. The Murdoch family will receive more than two billion dollars in the deal, and will become a major stockholder in the combined company. The Justice Department expressed no serious antitrust concerns, even though the combined company will reportedly account for half the box-office revenue in America. Trump publicly congratulated Murdoch even before the Justice Department signed off on the deal, and claimed that it would create jobs. In fact, the consolidation is projected to result in thousands of layoffs.

In July, the F.C.C. blocked Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative rival to Fox, from combining with the Tribune Media Company. The F.C.C. argued that the deal would violate limits on the number of TV stations one entity can own, upending Sinclair's hope of becoming the next Fox.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, went to court in an effort to stop A. T. & T.'s acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN. Time Warner saw the deal as essential to its survival at a time when the media business is increasingly dominated by giant competitors such as Google and Facebook. Murdoch understood this impulse: in 2014, 21st Century Fox had tried, unsuccessfully, to buy Time Warner. For him, opposing his rivals' deal was a matter of shrewd business. Trump also opposed the deal, but many people suspected that his objection was a matter of petty retaliation against CNN. Although Presidents have traditionally avoided expressing opinions about legal matters pending before the judicial branch, Trump has bluntly criticized the plan. The day after the Justice Department filed suit to stop it, he declared the proposed merger "not good for the country." Trump also claimed that he was "not going to get involved," and the Justice Department has repeatedly assured the public that he hasn't done so.

However, in the late summer of 2017, a few months before the Justice Department filed suit, Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then the director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the Justice Department to intervene. According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, "I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing's happened! I've mentioned it fifty times. And nothing's happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked!"

Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, evidently understood that it would be highly improper for a President to use the Justice Department to undermine two of the most powerful companies in the country as punishment for unfavorable news coverage, and as a reward for a competing news organization that boosted him. According to the source, as Cohn walked out of the meeting he told Kelly, "Don't you f[***]ing dare call the Justice Department. We are not going to do business that way."

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Chile is charging ahead with electric vehicles (Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, 12/12/18, Reuters)

A massive cargo ship docked in the Chilean port of San Antonio at the end of November, carrying it its belly the first 100 electric buses from China that Chileans hope will revolutionize their public transport system.

Chile's ambitious plan to face down its capital Santiago's notorious smog problem includes the rollout of electric scooters, cars and taxis, as well as lorries for use in the mining industry. [...]

The operation and maintenance costs of an electric bus are also around 70 per cent less than those of a diesel engine, according to Chile's Ministry of Transport.