It Keeps Happening – again and again and again

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What more can be said. When are we going to hold congress and the NRA accountable. By tolerating congressional inaction and NRA action we are effectively committing murder.

How Congress Has Dithered as the Innocent Get Shot

When will we get gun reform?

An Uncivil Society

Big Pharma & US Drug Costs

Published / by Stephen

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Robert Reich, in a recent post, lays bare the facts behind high US drug costs and Trump’s anemic drug plan.

…when Americans buy drugs in the United States, they really buy a package of advertising, marketing, and political influence-peddling.

The Extreme Danger of Alternative Realities

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Rex Tillerson giving a commencement speech at Virginia Military Institute (Class of 2018):

As I reflect upon the state of American democracy I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity.

If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.

Tillerson said it’s the responsibility of all Americans to recognize “what truth is and is not,” and “what a fact is and is not.” Citizens must also demand the country’s future be “fact-based, not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises, but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges,”

Ending on a dark note, he said that departing from the truth could mean “American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Is A Trade War Coming?

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Paul Krugman, one of the smartest people on the planet when in comes to international trade, just posted his thoughts about Trump and trade wars, The art of the Flail. It is worth a read. Below are some exerts just to get your attention:

So is a trade war coming? Nobody knows — even, or perhaps especially, Trump himself. For while trade is one of Trump’s two signature issues — animus toward dark-skinned people being the other — when it comes to making actual demands on other countries, the tweeter in chief and his aides either don’t know what they want or they want things that our trading partners can’t deliver. Not won’t — can’t.

…Let’s talk in particular about the will-he-or-won’t-he confrontation with China.

In some ways, China really is a bad actor in the global economy. In particular, it has pretty much thumbed its nose at international rules on intellectual property rights, grabbing foreign technology without proper payment. And to be fair, Trump officials do sometimes raise the intellectual property issue as a justification for getting tough.

But if getting China to pay what it owes for technology were the goal, you’d expect the U.S. both to make specific demands on that front and to adopt a strategy aimed at inducing China to meet those demands.

In fact, the U.S. has given little indication of what China should do about intellectual property. Meanwhile, if getting better protection of patent rights and so on were the goal, America should be trying to build a coalition with other advanced countries to pressure the Chinese; instead, we’ve been alienating everyone in sight.

More on Trump & Trade-Wars by Krugman

He Persisted – We Will Get Gun Reform

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Fred Guttenberg — a father and statesman. A PBS interview, March 22, 2018. Parkland victim’s father: We will get gun reform in the U.S.

Listen to the video – it is inspiring. Below are transcript exerts:

Judy Woodruff:

As you know so well, Fred Guttenberg, what the gun lobby is saying, however, is that this is all about young people with an emotional or a mental — an emotional disturbance or a mental illness, and it’s about school safety, about making sure that schools are secure if someone shows up with a gun.

How do you answer that?

Fred Guttenberg:

Well, I tell them, you know what? That’s all correct. Mental illness is part of it. Making sure schools are safe is part of it.

However, the common denominator in every tragedy is the gun. And, unfortunately, for the gun lobby, I think their influence has been, unfortunately, larger on our elected officials than it should have been over the years, and their influence is waning.

Their money is going away. OK? Public opinion has turned against them. I can speak to you and tell you, I have received — for every message I have gotten from someone in the gun lobby who maybe complains about what I’m doing, I have also gotten one or two messages from someone in the gun lobby who says, you know what? You’re right.

The issue isn’t the membership. It’s the leadership. And even the members of the NRA are saying, our leadership has failed us. They’re out of touch.

They’re sending me pictures of their cut-up NRA cards. OK?

So, when you ask me, do I think the gun lobby or whoever else says it’s about school safety, it’s about security and mental health, they’re right. I’m not going to tell them that’s not part of it, but guns are part of it, too.

Judy Woodruff:

You are a private citizen, Mr. Guttenberg, and yet I have seen you stand up and be forceful in talking to a United States senator, Marco Rubio from your state of Florida. I have seen you be forceful in the interviews, many interviews you have done.

Where is that courage coming from?

Fred Guttenberg:

Well, my daughter.

My daughter was 14, but she was tough and, honestly, the toughest person who I knew. And, unfortunately, the way she died was running down a hallway with a gun at her back, and she was running for her life.

And I — every second, I think about the fear in her as she was doing it, and I also know how hard she was fighting to live. Honestly, because of what she went through, it’s perspective, but I don’t feel fear about anything anymore, because nothing could ever be like what she experienced.

And until I do something, so that no other parent will ever have to go through what my daughter went through and what my family is going through, I just have this need to fight like this.

This has gone on too many times. And ,in the past, whenever these tragedies have happened, I have found the conversation afterwards to always be way too polite, way too comfortable and way too temporary. I don’t feel like being polite. I don’t feel like making people comfortable. And I don’t feel like going away until something gets done.

And that comes from my daughter. She would expect me to do this.

A Non Sequitur Worth 1000 Words

Published / by Stephen

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This says it all. Thank you Wiley Miller and Go Comics. Thanks to Trump and the Gutless Republicans we have an uncivil society.

Final Pick For Border Wall

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Thank you Don Asmussen – “The LIES behind the TRUTH, and the TRUTH behind those LIES that are behind the TRUTH.

Sinking Ship

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From our friends at the Daily Kos

The rats are fleeing the White-tanic.

Trump Facts & Tarriffs

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First some selected Krugman’ quotes on trump facts and tarrifs, A Ranting Old Guy With Nukes:

1.  Regarding being “factually challenged:”

…you can’t help noticing that his opinions seem a bit, well, factually challenged. No, we aren’t experiencing a huge wave of violent crime carried out by immigrants. No, we don’t give away vast sums in foreign aid. And so on down the list. Basically, what he imagines to be facts are things he thinks he heard somewhere, maybe on Fox News, and can’t be bothered to check.

2.  Regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum, Trumps justification is “national security.”

After all, we can’t be dependent for our aluminum on unstable, hostile foreign powers like … Canada, our principal foreign supplier. (Canada is also our biggest foreign supplier of steel.)

Meanwhile, in the days since Trump’s announcement, he’s tweeted out one falsehood after another. And I don’t mean that he’s been saying things I disagree with; I mean that he’s been saying things that are simply, flatly wrong, even according to the U.S. government itself.

He has, for example, declared that we have large trade deficitswith Canada; actually, according to U.S. numbers, we run a small surplus.

The best argument I have heard against the steel & aluminum tariffs is the following:

  1. Steel and aluminum are not consumer products. They are used in the production of goods — for example beer kegs and automobiles.
  2. Imposing the tariffs raise the production cost of steel and aluminum goods.
  3. The tarrifs may have a minor positive effect on US employment in steel and aluminum production but they will make US steel and aluminum products less competitive.
  4. The result — reduced balance of trade and increased cost of US goods.
  5. If the tariffs result in a trade war things just get worse.

Does this sound like winning? So much for the the wonders of tariffs to increase US production. Hell of an idea Mr. Trump!

 

Trade-Wars Trump

Published / by Stephen

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According to Krugman:

“Donald Trump is belligerently ignorant about economics (and many other things). But up to this point that hasn’t mattered much. …

But there was always reason to be concerned about the possibility of crisis — either a crisis created by outside forces, like some kind of financial collapse, or one created by the administration itself. In that case the Fed’s rationality wouldn’t be enough. And it’s starting to look like we have a trade policy crisis on our hands.

“Trump has always had a thing about trade, which he sees the way he sees everything: as a test of power and masculinity. It’s all about who sells more: if we run a trade surplus we win, if we run a trade deficit, we lose”

This is, of course, nonsense. Trade isn’t a zero-sum game: it raises the productivity and wealth of the world economy. To take a not at all random example, it makes a lot of sense to produce aluminum, a process that uses vast amounts of electricity, in countries like Canada, which have abundant hydropower. So the U.S. gains from importing Canadian aluminum, whether or not we run a trade deficit with Canada. (As it happens, we don’t, but that’s pretty much beside the point.) …

So we can’t “win” a trade war. What we can do is start a cycle of tit-for-tat, and when it comes to trade, America — which accounts for 9 percent of world exports and 14 percent of world imports — is by no means a dominant superpower.

A cycle of retaliation would shrink overall world trade, making the world as a whole, America very much included, poorer. Read On.