Friday, May 29, 2020

Meanwhile, As Minneapolis Burns

So now we are all focused on the recent horrific murder in Minneapolis and now the subsequent events that are happening in many parts of the nation, with Minneapolis the epicenter.  This is serious, and I have idea how it will end.  This has even distracted us from the usual pandemic and economic issues, which are historically serious.

But while all this has been going on, just in the past week or so our president has been engaging in a series of serious actions that will have long run serious consequences people are barely aware of if they are not undone.  It is almost as if he is just outright melting down his presidency and taking the nation with him, although we are too busy looking at the flames in Minneapolis to notice.

Here is a list without comment. The US will withdraw from the Open Skies  agreement, first proposed by President Eisenhower, that has 35 other signatories.  The administration claims the Russians are breaking the treaty, although the specific offenses publicized seem to have nothing to do with this treaty at all.  This follows Trump withdrawing us from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement, the Paris Climate Accord, the the TPP, and the Iran JCPOA nuclear deal that Iran was adhering to.  Today it was announced that the US will withdraw from the World HealthOrganization. The administration is proposing changing the status of Hong Kong in connection with the US as well as psosibly forcing Chinese corporations to leave the New York stock exchange, not to mention that the daughter of the CEO of Huawei is about to be extradited to the US to be prosecuted for fraud in connection with violating US sanctions against Iran. Another round of EPA regulations are to be ended. Trump refuses to provide aid to the US Postal Service, which might go bankrupt later this year, with Trump declaring that voting by mail is a rigged fraud. He has also issued an executive order to alllow the FTC to make social media subject to lawsuits by his conservative allies. And then also today it was announced that his official pandemic task force is now effectively not functional.

There  is more, but all that is more than quite enough.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

A very, very important list and an implied comment on the astonishing power of the president at this point in our history.

Anonymous said...

As for the terrible stances of the president on foreign affairs, remember the terrible instigation of leading Democrats:

Chuck Schumer @SenSchumer

As the protests in Hong Kong escalated last year:

President Trump stood with President Xi and said he would look the other way on China's abuses.

Now President Trump will be remembered as the president who lost Hong Kong.

5:39 PM · May 29, 2020

Anonymous said...

Agree with the very real series of unfortunate events - the USPS and the supposed concerns regarding mail-in ballots are among most important as it might be used to delay or manipulate the election. They say 1968 was the year the dream died, but 2020 is the year America woke up from a nightmare and found out they were not dreaming. Consider adding the following:

1) potential for declaring martial law and use of military: Trump tweeted - "Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME! Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that include)

2) Use of weapons and dogs: Trump tweets as described in NYT:

“Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService,” Mr. Trump tweeted in a string of four posts Saturday morning. “They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe.” He continued that the Secret Service had allowed the protesters to “scream & rant as much as they wanted” and only acted when “someone got too frisky or out of line.” “The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic,” he added. “Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.” Mr. Trump claimed that Secret Service agents had told him they were clamoring for engagement with the protesters. “We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and good practice,” he said he had been told. Vicious dogs and ominous weapons? Wow?

They say 1968 was the year the dream died, but 2020 is the year America woke up from a nightmare and found out they were not dreaming.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It seems Coronavirus is leading to a general
breakdown of US society, spurred on by a very
public murder committed by a cop in Minneapolis.
Presided over by a very inept president. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

Glad to see Noah Smith highlighting this all-too-relevant work by the late Alberto Alesina 1/

Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak
Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last week, found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.

7:50 AM · May 31, 2020

The Alesina/Glaeser/Sacerdote paper on why America doesn't have a European-style welfare state — racism — had a big impact on my own thinking 2/…

For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism was treated as "shrill" and partisan. Can we now admit the obvious? 3/

Anonymous said...

September, 2001

Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?
By Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote


European countries are much more generous to the poor relative to the US level of generosity. Economic models suggest that redistribution is a function of the variance and skewness of the pre-tax income distribution, the volatility of income (perhaps because of trade shocks), the social costs of taxation and the expected income mobility of the median voter. None of these factors appear to explain the differences between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

As I've been saying, the CARES Act did a lot to alleviate the economic hit from Covid-19. 1/

Tenants Stay Current on Rent, for Now
Collections have been surprisingly strong through the pandemic, but there are troubling signs — for landlords and tenants alike.

8:16 AM · May 31, 2020

I keep seeing some people on the left describing it as just a bailout for corporations. There was some of that, but huge relief for people who really needed it. So far this month, $90 billion in unemployment benefits compared with $2 billion in same period last year 2/

The big problem is that extraordinary aid all goes away in just 2 months. There is no chance that more than a small fraction of the loss in wages will be made up by then. So we're facing an economic and human disaster unless Republicans allow another package 3/

ilsm said...

"For a long time anyone who pointed out that the modern GOP is basically a party that serves plutocratic ends by weaponizing white racism........"

As Nader said, the only difference between democrats and republicans is how fast they respond to the plutocrats.

Covid 19 exposed the terrible state of public health in the northern part of the I 95 corridor, all red states, it seems to me Nader's point is sustained.

The modern democratic party serves plutocrats with timid and under reaching social agendas........

Anonymous said...

May 30, 2020

Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge
By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR - Los Angeles Times

What was your first reaction when you saw the video of the white cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd croaked, “I can’t breathe”?

If you’re white, you probably muttered a horrified, “Oh, my God” while shaking your head at the cruel injustice. If you’re black, you probably leapt to your feet, cursed, maybe threw something (certainly wanted to throw something), while shouting, “Not @#$%! again!” Then you remember the two white vigilantes accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood in February, and how if it wasn’t for that video emerging a few weeks ago, they would have gotten away with it. And how those Minneapolis cops claimed Floyd was resisting arrest but a store’s video showed he wasn’t. And how the cop on Floyd’s neck wasn’t an enraged redneck stereotype, but a sworn officer who looked calm and entitled and devoid of pity: the banality of evil incarnate.

Maybe you also are thinking about the Karen in Central Park who called 911 claiming the black man who asked her to put a leash on her dog was threatening her. Or the black Yale University grad student napping in the common room of her dorm who was reported by a white student. Because you realize it’s not just a supposed “black criminal” who is targeted, it’s the whole spectrum of black faces from Yonkers to Yale.

You start to wonder if it should be all black people who wear body cams, not the cops.

What do you see when you see angry black protesters amassing outside police stations with raised fists? If you’re white, you may be thinking, “They certainly aren’t social distancing.” Then you notice the black faces looting Target and you think, “Well, that just hurts their cause.” Then you see the police station on fire and you wag a finger saying, “That’s putting the cause backward.”

You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.

But COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting....

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Military Begins Staging to Quell Protests - US News - June 2

The Defense Department has begun positioning active duty troops around the Washington area in anticipation of President Donald Trump following through on his historic threat Monday to use the military to quell widespread and at-times violent protests across the country, including in the nation's capital, if local authorities didn't do more to stop them.

Active duty military police and combat engineers had not entered the District of Columbia but were, as of Monday evening, staging in the region – likely on one of the military bases nearby – "to ensure faster employment if necessary," according to a senior defense official speaking on the condition of anonymity. Some had come from units based elsewhere in the country, but the official declined to offer specifics. Other news outlets, including, reported soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg in North Carolina were among the forces that had deployed.

In Trump's first national address since widespread protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the president Monday evening threatened to use the military to "quickly solve the problem" if state governors and local authorities didn't do more to "dominate the streets" and stop the protest movement "that has spread throughout our country."

Trump has singled out far-left protesters known as antifa and over the weekend said he would designate it a terrorist organization, despite the left-wing "anti-fascist" militant group having no clear organization or leadership. It also remains unclear how Trump could make such a designation legally, since no current statute gives the U.S. authority to declare wholly domestic groups terrorist organizations in the same way that it can foreign groups. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Former Commanders Fault Trump’s Use of Troops Against Protesters

NYT - Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Jennifer Steinhauer - June 2, 2020

WASHINGTON — Retired senior military leaders condemned their successors in the Trump administration for ordering military units on Monday to rout those peacefully protesting police violence near the White House.

As military helicopters flew low over the nation’s capital and National Guard units moved into many cities, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly aligned themselves behind a president who chose tear gas and rubber bullets to clear peaceful protesters from a park so that he could stage a photo op at a nearby church.

In so doing, Mr. Esper, who described the country as a “battlespace” to be cleared, and General Milley, who wore combat fatigues on the streets of the capital, thrust the two million active-duty and reserve service members into the middle of a confrontation in which the “enemy” is not foreign, but domestic.

The reaction has been swift and furious.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote on Twitter that “America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy. Gen. Tony Thomas, the former head of the Special Operations Command, tweeted: “The ‘battle space’ of America??? Not what America needs to hear … ever, unless we are invaded by an adversary or experience a constitutional failure … ie a Civil War.”

And Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the two men would have been better off reminding their boss to “reserve the use of federal forces for only the most dire circumstances that actually threaten the survival of the nation.”

Television networks broadcast images of General Milley and Mr. Esper walking behind Mr. Trump as he crossed Lafayette Square Monday evening to pose for a photo holding a Bible in front of St. John’s church. Earlier in the day, Mr. Esper joined the president’s call with governors, saying, “We need to dominate the battlespace” — a comment that set off a torrent of criticism.

More than 40 percent of active-duty and reserve personnel are people of color, and orders to confront protesters demonstrating against a criminal justice system that targets black men troubled many. ...

ilsm said...


General (ret) Dempsey (Boston roots), does a fine job with "the Parting Glass". A favorite of mine.

Milley is no Douglas MacArthur, who showed up to rout the WW I Bonus veterans in dress uniform including Jodhpurs and riding boots.!

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(Time to roll in a new - acting - Sec/Def!)

Esper Breaks With Trump on Using Troops Against Protesters

NYT - Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Maggie Haberman - June 3

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper broke with President Trump on Wednesday and said that active-duty military troops should not be sent to control the wave of protests in American cities, at least for now. His words were at odds with his commander in chief, who on Monday threatened to do exactly that.

Mr. Esper’s comments reflected the turmoil within the military over Mr. Trump, who in seeking to put American troops on the streets alarmed top Pentagon officials fearful that the military would be seen as participating in a move toward martial law.

Speaking at a news conference at the Pentagon, the defense secretary said that the deployment of active-duty troops in a domestic law enforcement role “should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.”

The president was angered by Mr. Esper’s remarks, and excoriated him later at the White House, an administration official said. Asked on Wednesday whether Mr. Trump still had confidence in Mr. Esper, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said that “as of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper,” but that “should the president lose faith, we will all learn about that in the future.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(More from the NYT link above.)

... Senior Pentagon leaders are now so concerned about losing public support — and that of their active-duty and reserve personnel, 40 percent of whom are people of color — that Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, released a message to top military commanders on Wednesday affirming that every member of the armed forces swears an oath to defend the Constitution, which he said “gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”

Mr. Esper and General Milley acted after they came under sharp criticism, including from retired military officers, for walking with Mr. Trump to a church near the White House after peaceful protesters had been forcibly cleared.

As anger mounted over the president’s photo op at the church, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered a withering denunciation of the president’s leadership.

( )

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr. Mattis said in a statement. “Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Mr. Trump responded late Wednesday on Twitter to Mr. Mattis’s rebuke, saying that he had had “the honor of firing” Mr. Mattis. In reality, Mr. Mattis resigned in protest in December 2018 over Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from eastern Syria. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Why Wall Street has bounced back and Main Street hasn’t via @BostonGlobe

Larry Edelman and Shirley Leung - June 2

Main Street is in trouble, and Wall Street doesn’t care.

After bottoming out on March 23, US stocks have recouped more than 90 percent of their losses from the coronavirus crash. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index is back to the level where it stood last fall, when the economy was solid and there was little indication the good times would end anytime soon.

The rally came as nearly 46 million Americans filed for unemployment pay and millions of small businesses, the mainstay of Main Streets everywhere, were forced to shut down.

Now, just as states are reopening, the worst spasms of urban violence since 1968 have hit at least 140 cities across the country, including Boston, where stores in Downtown Crossing and the Back Bay were looted Sunday night after a day of peaceful protests against police killings of Black Americans.

The reaction on Wall Street? Stocks are up this week.

“The social discontent has been ignored by markets,” said Dec Mullarkey, managing director of investment strategy at SLC Management, the asset management arm of insurer Sun Life Financial, in Wellesley. “They generally conclude that these distressing events are somewhat inevitable in a liberal democracy and remain confident they will get resolved and won’t be long-term dislocating forces.”

This is not unusual. Stocks often rise in the face of bad news, and there has been a ton of it lately. A recent example: When the Labor Department reported that 20.5 million jobs had disappeared in April, the S&P 500 jumped 2 percent.

This unseemly incongruity stems from the fact the investors buy and sell stocks based on where they see corporate earnings, interest rates, and economic growth in the next six months to two years. Today’s news is only important for what it means for the numbers down the road.

But the Wall Street-Main Street divide is also symbolic of the opposing realities that have come to define the United States: That of the wealthy, who are largely inoculated from the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and economic hardship, and the poor and working classes, for whom scratching out a living is only getting harder and more dangerous. The wealth divide is only getting worse, thanks in part to the stock market, whose riches are controlled by a sliver of Americans.

The market’s view that corporate earnings will be better sometime down the road is cold comfort to anyone who has to earn a paycheck — and pay bills — in the present, especially in Massachusetts, which has been hit harder than most states by COVID-19 and the impact of social distancing and the closing of nonessential businesses. ...