Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Last Call For Put A Corker In It, Bob

Outgoing Trump party Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee is really upset that Trump's tariffs are going to destroy the (admittedly 100% union-free) auto manufacturing industry in his state, and is kind of grouchy that the rest of the Trump party refuses to back him over, well, Trump.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) ripped his GOP colleagues on Tuesday, asserting they are afraid to vote on his tariff legislation because it could provoke backlash from President Trump.

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' That is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment,'" Corker said during a heated speech where he was yelling from the Senate floor
He added that the Senate is "becoming a body where, well, we'll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority, and so let's don't do anything that might upset the president."

Corker's floor speech comes as he has tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get a vote on his legislation requiring congressional approval for tariffs enacted for reasons of national security amid broader scrutiny of Trump's recent trade moves. 
The Tennessee Republican has pushed for a vote on the measure as part of the Senate's debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 
Though GOP lawmakers have publicly fretted over Trump's tariff policies, GOP leadership has shown little interest in formally pushing back against the president.

Here's the thing though, Bob... you hitched your wagon to Trump, and now you're all mad because that wagon is headed for a cliff.  It's going to take your party with it, and November's going to be a bloodbath.  If you think voters in your state are mad at the Trump party now, wait until the layoff stories start rolling in on the evening news over the next several months.

And when the economic damage really kicks in next year, we'll see what the Trump party is willing to do as far as reining in Trump.

Of course, Corker will be long gone by then.

The New Robber Barons, Con't

Last month I talked about Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the city's plan to alleviate King County, Washington's affordable housing crisis by taxing the multi-billion dollar companies that have served to make the situation exponentially worse.

The tax targets 500-600 businesses in the city that gross at least $20 million a year. The companies would be charged a “head tax” at $500 per employee. In 2021, the head tax would be replaced by a 0.7 percent payroll tax. The payroll tax would windup costing Amazon more than the initial head tax, considering Seattle Amazon employees are paid about an average of $110,000 per year, according to data from job-reviews site Glassdoor. 
“I can confirm that pending the outcome of the head-tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sub-lease all space in our recently leased Rainer Square building,” a spokesperson for Amazon told The Seattle Times. 
The city council is expected to vote on the tax on May 14. 
The city estimates the tax would raise an estimated $75 million annually, with Amazon paying roughly $20 million in 2019 and 2020. One might think for a company that pulled in $1.6 billion last quarter, they could afford to help out the city of Seattle and its most vulnerable residents, especially considering the extent to which Amazon’s presence in the city has exacerbated the housing crisis there.

Since 2010, when Amazon opened its first headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle, housing costs have skyrocketed. 
The median cost of a single-family home has more than doubled to $820,000, and rents have increased 64 percent, according to the Seattle Times. The average two-bedroom home in Seattle costs more than $2,000 per month. Only a third of condominiums in Seattle are priced below $500,000.

Seattle's City Council voted unanimously to approve the tax.

That was four weeks ago.  Take note of that.

Because in less than a month, Amazon, Starbucks, and the rest of the new robber barons leaned so hard on Seattle's City Council that they shattered and the cowards are now scrambling to repeal the ordinance.

Less than a month after roiling Seattle and making national headlines by voting unanimously to pass a controversial head tax on big businesses such as Amazon, the City Council now plans to abruptly reverse itself and vote to repeal the tax. 
Council President Bruce Harrell announced the move without warning Monday and vowed to move at lightning speed to kill the measure, responding to a backlash from business leaders and residents who say they don’t trust the council to spend wisely.

Harrell scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday and said he would sponsor the repeal legislation, which appears to have enough votes. He and six others on the council joined Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement Monday signaling their support for nixing the $275 per employee, per year tax, which was supposed to raise about $47 million per year starting in 2019 to fund low-income housing and homeless services.

Council members said talks with constituents had persuaded them to change course.
The news of the sudden turnaround — unprecedented in recent Seattle politics — also comes as the council stares down the prospect of a long and bitter battle for votes.

A business-backed campaign called No Tax on Jobs had planned to submit petition signatures on Tuesday to qualify a referendum on the head-tax for the November ballot, having raised more than $200,000 and attracted a small army of volunteers.

The new robber barons made it painfully clear that Amazon now 100% controls Seattle, and that any opposition to it will be smashed into oblivion.  Imagine the level of threats that it took to move a major US local government to act this quickly to completely reverse a unanimous vote.

This is terrifying.

We all live in company towns, it seems.  And everyone works for the company whether they want to or not.

Mr. Trump Goes To Singapore

Donald Trump managed to get a number of vague statements out of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but basically nothing in the way of details or verification of "denuclearization" while the US apparently is giving up joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a piece of paper.

President Trump said he “developed a very special bond” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their historic summit here Tuesday and proclaimed the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation.

“Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war,” Trump said at a news conference in Singapore following more than four hours of talks with Kim.

Trump said Kim “reaffirmed” his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also agreed to destroy a missile site in the country.

“We’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations,” the president said.

Trump sounded triumphant following his meeting with Kim, expressing confidence that the North Korean leader was serious about abandoning his nuclear program and transforming his country from an isolated rogue regime into a respected member of the world community.

But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons, saying that would be worked out in future talks
“We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said of the process to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

Trump announced that he will order an end to regular “war games” that the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.

Trump called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said.

The United States has conducted such exercises for decades as a symbol of unity with Seoul and previously rejected North Korean complaints as illegitimate. Ending the games would be a significant political benefit for Kim, but Trump insisted he had not given up leverage.

“I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea,” Trump said, casting himself as a leader who can secure a deal that has eluded past presidents.

South Korea’s presidential office seemed blindsided by the announcement on the joint exercises.

“We need to try to understand what President Trump said,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said

So in the last 48 hours, Trump has effectively isolated the US from its G-7 allies, directly angered Canada and insulted PM Justin Trudeau, backed out of a joint statement with our oldest allies, and then signed on to a statement with arguably the most repressive and bloody dictator on earth.

The pundits are absolutely correct to call this both historic and unprecedented, and none of it is a good thing.  The message this sends to both our allies and to the world's most vicious dictators is unmistakable: the legitimacy you crave is for sale by Trump.  The scale and magnitude of Kim's propaganda victory here can't be overstated.  Trump has proven that pursuit of a nuclear program will get you recognition by the US as a potential ally.  There isn't a dictator on earth who isn't now considering a nuclear weapons program as the path to power and legitimacy.

This has been the worst week for US diplomacy in decades.

Oh, and South Korea wasn't consulted at all.  They had no clue.  Trump is more accommodating to Kim than he is Moon. And recall that Republicans were screaming at how awful the Iran nuclear deal supposedly was, and they're falling all over themselves calling Trump the greatest president in US history for a "promise" from a dictator not to lie.

China is laughing up its sleeve.  Russia couldn't be happier.

Trump is the Dunning-Kruger poster boy in the party of cognitive-biased fools.


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