Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

Trump Awards Arthur Laffer the Medal of Freedom

June 20, 2019

Trump Awards Arthur Laffer the Medal of Freedom

Failed businessman Donald Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist Arthur Laffer. “Freedom” here must refer to freedom from reality. Dr. Laffer popularized the “supply side” theory of economics, which holds that if you cut the taxes of rich people so they have even more money, some of it will magically trickle down to society’s less wealthy. This fiction was a favorite of Herbert Hoover, daddy of the Great Depression, and early-onset Alzheimers Ronald Reagan. You can see why the notion would be attractive to Mr. Trump, who became a millionaire at the age of 8.

Arthur Laffer revived this “supply-side” zombie with a visual aid, the “Laffer Curve,” allegedly first drawn on a cocktail napkin in 1974. That theoretical chart, based on wishful thinking and zero data, purports to show that tax cuts for the rich will boost the economy and pay for themselves. While the curve’s drinking-binge origin tale seems apt, it’s a fiction, mythologized by Dr. Laffer’s hype man, conservative pundit Jude Wanninski. The story is now enshrined in GOP dogma and, embrassingly, at the Smithsonian.

Donald Trump, despite the populist rhetoric of his campaign, enthusiasticly slashed taxes for the rich once elected, which helped no one but the wealthy. The medal award is yet another example of Mr. Trump doubling-down on a lie. How could the Laffer Curve be untrue when Arthur Laffer got the Medal of Freedom? Of course, maybe he really got it for co-authoring a book of fawning fiction called Trumponomics.

More:

“Trump is giving Arthur Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Economists aren’t smiling.” Elizabeth Popp Berman, Washington Post

“Trump Awards Medal to Controversial Tax-Cut Champion Laffer,” Margaret Talev and Justin Sink, Bloomberg

“Trump Awards Kook Art Laffer for Inventing Fake Curve,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Why are we still pretending ‘trickle-down’ economics work?” Morris Pearl, The Guardian

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Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

June 18, 2019

Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

Presidential Advisor, sweatshop shmata merchant, and former runway model Ivanka Trump is also an hôtelièr, renting out rooms in a publicly-owned building her Dad’s company leases in Washington. Last year Ms. Trump earned $4 million from her hotel side-hustle.

More:

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made as much as $135m last year,” Bernard Condon, AP, via The Guardian

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Top image (Ivanka’s book-like object) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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New National Holiday. Mark Your Calendar.

June 14, 2019

New National Holiday. Mark Your Calendar.

Every year the Office of Personnel Management prints a list of all official national holidays. Washington’s birthday, for example, is really February 22nd, but this year the Federal Government observed it on February 18th. Likewise, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is actually January 15th, but the government observed it on January 21st.

The official 2019 federal calendar omitted a holiday, probably because OPM’s Acting Director Margaret Weichert is so busy directing OPM while also deputy-directing the Office of Management and Budget and everything. Luckily, a White House tweet corrected the record, so mark your calendar. Although Donald Trump’s birthday is June 14th, the nation will observe it on the 4th of July. Who knows, there might be a big crowd!

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Image (“Trump’s Birthday, Observed”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Robert Mueller Bids Farewell to the Troops

May 29, 2019

Robert Mueller Bids Farewell to the Troops

In a televised address, Robert S. Mueller III resigned as Justice Department Special Counsel and reiterated several points from his 480-page report on the 2016 presidential campaign. Most of his words emphasized Russia’s systematic interference in the election campaign, but he made a careful statement about the question of obstruction of justice by the chief executive:

“The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

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Trump’s Worst Nightmare

May 8, 2019

Trump's Worst Nightmare

President Trump agreed to allow Robert Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee until he didn’t. What changed his mind? The thought of square-jawed Robert Mueller III, decorated war hero, former Assistant Attorney General and FBI Director, testifying on television, in a Brooks Brothers suit, with all America watching, and becoming an instant TV star. That would really rattle our Reality TV President.

More:

“Trump Doesn’t Want Mueller To Testify Because It’ll Get Media Coverage,” Nicole Lafond, TalkingPointsMemo

Related:

“House Republicans want Mueller to testify despite Trump opposition,” Kyle Cheney and John Bresnahan, Politico

“AG Bill Barr believes special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to testify,” Katherine Faulders and Mike Levine, ABC News

“Trump’s Opposition to Mueller Testimony Poses a Test for Barr,”Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, New York Times

“Trump ‘no conceivable basis to stop Mueller from testifying,’ according to legal experts,”Alex Henderson, Salon 

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Image (“Trump’s Worst Nightmare”) by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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Otisville Vacation

May 7, 2019

Otisville Vacation

Business Notice:

Michael Cohen, Esq., former Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, is relocating to the federal enclave at Otisville NY, in leafy Orange County, for a 3-year residency. Please refer all future Donald Trump obstruction of justice proposals to William P. Barr, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001.

More:

“Michael Cohen, by Turns Lawyer and Witness, Becomes an Inmate,” Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times

“As Cohen heads to prison, Trump is ensnared in more questions about possible illegal behavior,” Phillip Bump, Washington Post

“Hundreds of former prosecutors say Trump would’ve been charged with obstruction if he weren’t president,” Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill

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Image (“Portrait of a Trump Lawyer”) by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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‘Foreign Emoluments’? Look Here.

May 3, 2019

'Foreign Emoluments'? Look Here.

“The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause.”

— “Foreign government leases at Trump World Tower stir more emoluments concerns,” Julia Harte, Reuters

Trump World Tower, built in 2001 and financed by Deutsche Bank, is located at 845 United Nations Plaza and has been the New York residence of several UN diplomats, so it’s not surprising that the governments of Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand and the European Union would rent condominiums there. The problem: those leases were signed in 2017, while Donald Trump was President, and those agreements required the prior approval of Congress.

Who says? The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.”

What did “emolument” mean to the Founders? “Profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or “benefit.” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agrees.

Related:

“The Definition of ‘Emolument’ in English Language and Legal Dictionaries, 1523-1806,” John Mikhail, SSRN

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Stephen Moore, Trump Fed Nominee, Withdraws

May 2, 2019

Stephen Moore, Trump Fed Nominee, Withdraws

Following the lead of pizza czar Herman Cain, Trump Federal Reserve Board nominee and alimony cheat Stephen Moore has withdrawn himself from consideration. In his bid to exert influence on the independent central bank regulatory agency, President Trump is having difficulties finding stooges with any degree of plausibility.

More:

“Stephen Moore says people don’t want to debate his economic ideas, but those are bad, too,” Matt O’Brien, Washington Post

“Why Stephen Moore’s Fed Bid Failed,” David A. Graham, The Atlantic

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Image (“Trump Fed Capture Attempt”) by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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GOP Family Values: Baby Snatching

April 30, 2019

GOP Family Values: Baby Snatching

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw has given the Trump administration six months, until October 25th, to identify the thousands of children it has separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border:

“It is important for all government actors to have a timeframe, a deadline,” he said. “You tend to stand on it.”

— “Judge gives US 6 months to identify children split at border,” Elliot Spagat, Associated Press

 

More:

“Judge gives U.S. six months to identify separated migrant children,” Tom Hals, Reuters

Update:

“Leaked Emails Show Trump Admin Couldn’t Reunite Separated Migrant Kids With Parents,” Daily Beast

Related:

“New Poll: Despite Partisan Divides on Immigration, Americans Oppose Family Separation,” Shibley Telhami and Stella M. Rouse, Lawfare

“Trump says ending family separation practice was a ‘disaster’ that led to surge in border crossings,” Kimberly Kindy, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post

“Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests,” Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Maria Butina Sentenced to Prison

April 26, 2019

Maria Butina Sentenced to Prison

On  Friday, Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan sentenced admitted Russian spy Maria Butina to 18 months in prison. “I am deeply embarrassed,” said Ms. Butina.

The former American University grad student pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy against the United States, acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian Federation, and seeking to influence U.S. conservative politicians through the National Rifle Association.It’s a salacious spy story of sex, guns, money, and the National Prayer Breakfast, and it’s packed with oligarchsRepublicanslobbyistsTreasury officials and Kremlin connections, a saga spanning the globe from Siberia to South Dakota. Her older American lover, Paul Erickson, a GOP fundraiser and NRA supporter, is charged with fraud and money laundering in a separate case.

Ms. Butina, deemed a flight risk, has been imprisoned since her indictment in July. We hope she will be able to continue with her Tai Chi in prison.

More:

“Maria Butina, Russian who conspired to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups, sentenced to 18 months,” Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

“Russian Agent Maria Butina Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison: ‘I Destroyed My Own Life,’” Betsy Woodruff, Daily Beast

“Maria Butina is not a Russian spy, but a ‘spotter’: DOJ revives intrigue over gun rights activist,” Kristine Phillips, USA Today

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Top image (“Maria ‘Natasha Fatale’ Butina, after Jay Ward and Alex Anderson“) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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