Friday, April 14, 2017

Last Call For The Last Mall

Trump's world chaos isn't exactly helping the retail industry, with many consumers deciding that buying new stuff in the Trump era isn't exactly as important as it used to be when you've got a Republican party in charge that's looking to trash health care, the environment, and global politics.  As a result, retailers already operating under slim margins are going under at a rate unseen since the Bush-era days of the Great Recession.

Retailers are filing for bankruptcy at an alarming rate that's quickly approaching recessionary levels.

It's only April, and nine retailers have already filed for bankruptcy since the start of the year — as many as all of last year.

"2017 will be the year of retail bankruptcies," Corali Lopez-Castro, a bankruptcy lawyer, told Business Insider after she attended a recent distressed-investing conference in Palm Beach, Florida. "Retailers are running out of cash, and the dominoes are starting to fall."

Payless ShoeSource, hhgregg, The Limited, RadioShack, BCBG, Wet Seal, Gormans, Eastern Outfitters, and Gander Mountain are among the retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far this year, and most are closing hundreds of stores as a result. On top of those closures, retailers that are staying in business — at least for now — are shutting down a record number of stores.

More than 3,500 stores are expected to close over the next several months.

Annual retail bankruptcies peaked at a total of 20 in 2008 — a level that the US could reach by September if the current rate of filings continues, according to CNBC.

During the recession, private equity firms and banks came to the rescue of some retailers and brought them out of bankruptcy through restructuring.

But there aren't many firms willing to rescue dying retailers these days, according to RBC Capital Markets.

"Private-equity firms [and] banks seem less willing now to step in to save these failing retailers as the issues this time around are more structural rather than quick operational fixes," RBC analysts wrote in a recent research note.

Given Trump's familiarity with bankruptcy filings, it's only right that America should expect to see a lot more of them. And as thousands of stores go away and tens of thousands lose their jobs, maybe America will realize that Trump and the GOP aren't the answer to any of their problems.

If there's a recession on top of everything else I expect to happen in the next few years, the GOP is going to get wiped out in 2018.  Unfortunately, that may go for our entire economy as well.

Whose House? Trump's House!

President Obama regularly released White House visitor's logs, saying the people of the United States had the right to know who entered the President's house.  The Trump regime doesn't agree and refuses to do the same, and thinks the people of the United States have the right to whatever Trump decides they have the right to have, when he decides they can have it.

President Donald Trump will not release records of visitors to the White House, his administration announced Friday, breaking with President Barack Obama and raising concerns about transparency.

The Obama administration had posted the visitor logs online. But White House communications director Michael Dubke said in a statement Trump had decided to withhold them because of “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.” Time first reported the reversal.

Under Obama, the White House released records about three months after the visits occurred. The policy contained a series of exceptions, however, allowing the White House to withhold the names of people it believed were sensitive or personal visitors to the Obama family.

Several groups have already filed a lawsuit demanding the Trump White House turn over the records, as well as logs of visitors to his homes in New York and Florida. Transparency advocates say the logs give a lens into who the president meets, including lobbyists and lawmakers, and who shapes his thinking.

You didn't think Trump was ever going to tell you who comes to kiss his ring, did you?  Silly citizen, Trump is above your antiquated notions of petty morality.  You are no longer necessary to his continued rulership.

The Shortest Of Honeymoons

I said months ago that nothing would happen to Trump from a legal standpoint unless his base turned on him, and angered GOP primary voters were willing to look the other way as "RINO"s in Congress took action. Politico puts forth the argument that Trump's base may be reaching this point.

Donald Trump’s true believers are losing the faith.

As Trump struggles to keep his campaign promises and flirts with political moderation, his most steadfast supporters — from veteran advisers to anti-immigration activists to the volunteers who dropped their jobs to help elect him — are increasingly dismayed by the direction of his presidency.

Their complaints range from Trump’s embrace of an interventionist foreign policy to his less hawkish tone on China to, most recently, his marginalization of his nationalist chief strategist, Steve Bannon. But the crux of their disillusionment, interviews with nearly two dozen Trump loyalists reveal, is a belief that Trump the candidate bears little resemblance to Trump the president. He’s failing, in their view, to deliver on his promise of a transformative “America First” agenda driven by hard-edged populism.

"Donald Trump dropped an emotional anchor. He captured how Americans feel," said Tania Vojvodic, a fervent Trump supporter who founded one of his first campaign volunteer networks. "We expect him to keep his word, and right now he's not keeping his word."

Earlier this week, Vojvodic launched a Facebook group called, “The concerned support base of President Trump,” which quickly drew several dozen sign-ups. She also changed the banner on her Facebook page to a picture of Bannon accompanied by the declaration: “Mr. President: I stand with Steve Bannon.”

"I'm not so infatuated with Trump that I can't see the facts," she said. "People's belief, their trust in him, it’s declining."

The swiftness and abruptness of Trump’s shift from bomb-throwing populist outsider to a more mainstream brand of Republican has taken the president’s stalwarts by surprise.

“It was like, here’s the chance to do something different. And that’s why people’s hopes are dashed,” said Lee Stranahan, who, as a former writer at Breitbart News, once worked with Bannon. “There was always the question of, ‘Did he really believe this stuff?’ Apparently, the answer is, ‘Not as much as you’d like.’” 

I think the real issue is that "Trump the winner" is turning out to be "Trump the giant loser", and nobody likes a loser, particularly angry racist white Trump voters who finally thought they were in charge of America and that the rest of us were second-class citizens at best.  Suddenly the fact that the GOP can't govern worth a damn domestically and has no idea what they are doing on foreign policy is hitting home, and they don't like it one bit.

We'll see how much this affects his popularity, but this is the kind of thing that needs to happen in order for Republicans to be more scared of the people who want Trump gone than the people who want Trump to reign forever.

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