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Is Anybody Steering? Surging Gas Prices, Trump Fuels Backlash


      Is Anybody Steering?

      Gas Prices Surging, Trump Fuels Backlash

      Image: Mark Bryan

      By Ray Cunneff

      May 25, 2018


      re: The Ship of State

      subject: Is Anybody Steering?

      As predicted, we're seeing a sudden spike in U.S. gas prices as we go into the Memorial Day weekend. And the price is likely to go much higher through the summer as oil-producing nations continue to tighten supply in response to Trump's pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, oil from both Iran and Venezuela going elsewhere.

      But what hasn't quite yet been felt by most Americans is that any "economic euphoria" the GOP was counting upon in the 2018 midterm elections resulting from the tax cuts and rate rollbacks is being more than wiped out by a sudden increase in the cost of goods and services across the board.

      Quite apart from prices creeping up, particularly in industries involving aluminum or steel over "trade war" fears, America's dependency on the automobile seems especially at risk from several quarters, not the least of which is the president himself.

      What is Trump's response to higher gas prices? He threatens to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts that could raise the price of family vehicles by 25 percent. Does he not understand the consequences for average Americans? Or is he simply indifferent?

      In any case, on Trump's instructions, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross launched an inquiry* this week into whether automotive imports pose a national security threat, a move that could lead to penalties boosting the cost of a $20,000 car by $5,000. It seems an almost targeted attack on the middle class.

      Many of Trump's political allies, particularly those facing the voters in November, are both outraged and panicked to see so many of their constituents about to take a financial hit. Business leaders are alarmed as well, their marriage of convenience suddenly very inconvenient.

      This is where interests collide between Corporatism and Trumpism. The boardroom beehive does not intersect well with a despotic cult of personality, particularly when the despot is dangerously erratic and unstable.

      The corporatists want to sail full speed ahead but with Trump at the helm, is anybody steering?



      * Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who worked closely with Trump to pass last year’s tax reform bill, called the new investigation “deeply misguided.”

      “Taxing cars, trucks and auto parts coming into the country would directly hit American families who need a dependable vehicle, whether they choose a domestic or a global brand,” Hatch said.

      Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) criticized the Trump administration for launching the probe under the “false pretense” that car imports pose a threat to national security, which he said “invites retaliation and weakens our credibility on actual trade disputes.”

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      Pundit Post

          The new system that separates children from their parents at the U.S. - Mexican border has "broken" an already strained system. Children are often permanently separated from their parents - effectively lost to them, since the parents are unable to locate their children. The Office of Refugee Resettlement was already strained, and now they are unable to do the job they were set up to do.

          Last month a Health and Human Services official revealed the government was unable to locate nearly 1,500 children who had been released from its custody.

          “They’re crippling an already overwhelmed system,” Michelle Brané, the director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said of the administration’s decision. “You take that situation in which children are released, and then there’s little to no follow-up, and add hundreds and hundreds of children ― thousands of children, eventually ― and you’re multiplying the level of the problem.”

          This is as horrific a policy as I’ve seen in 25-plus years doing civil rights work,” Lee Gelerent, an attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, told HuffPost. “No child should be sent to these government facilities if they don’t have to be, especially with all these problems in the ORR system.”

          Those cases are now becoming more common. At a recent immigration prosecution hearing in Tucson, Arizona, a 36-year-old Guatemalan woman named Alma Jacinto asked through her assigned lawyer when she could be reunited with her two children, who were separated from her when they crossed the border. Neither the magistrate judge nor the prosecutor knew the answer.

          In another case, reported by the Houston Chronicle, Esteban Pastor was deported to Guatemala after U.S. authorities separated him from his 18-month-old child. He was unable to locate the child after he returned to Guatemala.

          “God only knows how many of the kids will get reunited or how they will be reunited when the parents are prosecuted,” said Judy Greene, a co-author of Indefensible: A Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border. “This is devastating.”

          Read the entire article:
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          Panetta: GOP Should Denounce Lawmaker's Words


              Panetta: GOP should denounce lawmaker's words

              Situation Room

              Former CIA Director Leon Panetta defended special counsel Robert Mueller after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told Judicial Watch that Mueller has "protected radical Islamists for his whole career."

              So now they are going after Mueller's reputation.


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              Arizona Republican Blast Trump During Harvard Commencement.



                  Retiring Congressman Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, speaking before an audience of Harvard graduates once again took off the gloves and threw hard knuckle sandwiches at Trump, his party's highest elected office holder. This is what he had this to say about the occupant of the oval office: ~D. Candle.

                  Excerpts---> “Our presidency has been debased,” Flake said. “By a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works.”


                  "Flake is retiring from Congress this year. He has stood out from other leading figures in his party in his willingness to bluntly criticize the president publicly. His posture has stoked chatter about whether he might challenge Trump in the 2020 Republican presidential primary."

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                  Evidence Russia Tipped Election For Trump "Staggering,"


                      In an interview by Rachel Maddow last night, former DNI James Clapper said that when he left the government, the intelligence community had no evidence that votes were manipulated in 2016, but that does not mean votes were not manipulated.

                      I continue to maintain that the reason there is no evidence that votes were manipulated is because there was no investigation to make that determination.

                      I also suggest that Democrats who run for congressional seats in 2018 should include as a part of their campaigns that IF Trump is found to be guilty of an impeachable offense, indications based on how congressional republicans have attempted to dismiss or cover up evidence of wrongdoings by Trump, reflect that they will not impeach him. On the other hand, Democrats will impeach Trump IF the Mueller investigation finds that he committed crimes before, during or after being nominated by the GOP to run for president.

                      THAT is the responsibility constitutionally tasked to Congress. Democrats should not concern themselves with the CERTAINTY that deplorable people who support Trump will be energized by the likelihood that Democrats would impeach Trump, WHETHER DEMOCRATS CAMPAINGED ON IT OR NOT.

                      Democrats should demonstrate confidence that the majority of Americans EXPECT THEM TO DO THEIR JOB, AND IF IMPEACHMENT IS REQUIRED, IT WILL BE DONE.


                      Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has spoken out about Russia’s bid to subvert the 2016 presidential election.

                      In his new memoir, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence, Clapper describes evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin swayed the election in a bid to secure Trump’s election as “staggering.”

                      “Of course the Russian efforts affected the outcome," writes Clapper, as cited in a Washington Post review.

                      "Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense, and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”

                      Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January 2017, Clapper writes “I remember just how staggering the assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence were.”

                      In the intelligence chief's view, “We showed unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence the election… and how the entire operation had begun with attempts to undermine US democracy and demean Secretary Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their strategic goals.”

                      He warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of inconvenient facts as “fake news.”

                      “I don’t believe our democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners of truth are dismissed as ‘fake news,’ ” Clapper writes. "I know that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if facts are negotiable.”

                      Clapper does not go so far as to state that Trump colluded with Russia, but describes the president’s attitude in face of evidence of Russian interference as one of “aggressive indifference."

                      Trump has strenuously denied allegations of colluding with Russia, describing investigations into the claims as a "witch hunt."

                      Clapper is also critical of Republican congressional leaders for refusing to sign a bipartisan statement condemning Russian meddling in 2016.

                      "House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president," Clapper writes in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. "I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn't care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won."

                      Clapper has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of Trump among former leaders of the intelligence community since resigning in November, 2016.

                      On Tuesday, he criticized the president for demanding the Justice Department investigate allegations that the FBI placed a mole in the Trump campaign.

                      "When the President -- this president or any president -- tries to use the Department of Justice as kind of a private investigatory body, that's not good for the country," Clapper told CNN.

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                      Trump To Rescue ZTE


                          Trump To Rescue ZTE

                          “Both parties in Congress should come together

                          to stop this deal in its tracks.”

                          “Yes they have a deal in mind. It is a great deal... for #ZTE & China.

                          #China crushes U.S. companies with no mercy & they use these telecomm

                          companies to spy & steal from us. Many hoped this time would be different.

                          Now congress will need to act."

                          Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

                          (The deal as reported) “would be helping make China great again.“

                          Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)


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                          Pundit Post

                          Mueller Coolly Reminds Us: The Trump-Russia Probe Is Still Happening


                              It is STILL Mueller Time! He is NOT going away, and neither is the investigation he is leading.

                              In a court filing Thursday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a U.S. District Court in Washington to deny a request from a group of five major news organizations to gain access to sealed documents, including search warrants and court transcripts, from its investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election and the activities of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman.

                              Mueller quietly reminded everyone that of all the leaking going on in Washington and New York, none of it is coming from his team — and his team knows things you don't:

                              The special counsel's investigation is not a closed matter, but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry. No right of public access exists to search warrant materials in an ongoing investigation. ... Search warrant materials regularly remain sealed while investigations are ongoing. And a right of public access risks jeopardizing open investigations. That remains true even though some aspects of the investigation have resulted in charges; the overall investigation is not complete, and the search warrant materials relate to that ongoing investigation. [Court filing, Robert Mueller]

                              "As of this date, the government has brought criminal charges against 22 individuals and entities arising from the investigation," Mueller added, listing the charges in an appendix, in case anyone in the White House forgot that his office has already turned up considerably more than nothing. The five news organizations — The Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico — will likely have to look elsewhere for their information. They could always try Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Peter Weber

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                              Pundit Post

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