Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
Thanks, Barry Ritholtz
❝ A strong legacy of U.S. leadership and engagement in global politics has been reduced today to what I call kinetic diplomacy – diplomacy by armed force.
As of March 2018, the Trump administration has appointed only 70 of 188 U.S. ambassadors. At the same time, it has increased the deployment of special operations forces to 149 countries – up from 138 during the Obama administration in 2016. So while U.S. ambassadors are operating in one-third of the world’s capitals, special operations forces are active in three-fourths.
❝ The use of military force expanded not only under the Trump administration, but under Barack Obama’s as well. Now the Trump administration and Congress are also cutting back on foreign aid.
As a scholar of international security, I’d like to suggest this raises two related questions: Does kinetic diplomacy advance U.S. interests, and how does kinetic diplomacy affect U.S. leadership abroad?
RTFA and decide. I recall when the American public debated changing the name of our War Department to the Department of Defense. We’ve not yet been invaded. But, the claim of “defense” always seems to justify sending our military abroad.
❝ No one likes Trump’s new infrastructure order…The 2015 Federal Risk Management Standard update was supported by conservative and liberal groups alike.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed a new order that rescinded an Obama-era rule requiring federally-funded infrastructure to follow stricter building standards aimed at reducing flood-related damages. The Obama order also required that federally-funded infrastructure built along the coastline take into account future projections for sea-level rise.
❝ Trump’s order has already prompted swift backlash from across the political spectrum, with everyone from environmental groups to free market think-tanks arguing that there was little upside to rescinding a rule aimed at saving taxpayer money and preventing loss of life in flood-prone areas…
Since the Carter Administration, federal agencies have been required to avoid building in floodplains, but until 2015, there was no requirement that agencies that couldn’t — or wouldn’t — avoid building in flood-prone areas take extra steps to make those buildings resilient…Additionally, federal agencies constructing projects along the coastline were instructed to look at sea-level rise projections for the project’s lifetime, and take those into account when siting and building…
It’s called saving money, saving lives, by reasonable – maybe even smart – construction and siting.
❝ …Flood damage cost Americans more than $260 billion between 1980 and 2013, while federal flood insurance claims averaged nearly $2 billion per year between 2006 and 2015. Since 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent almost $50 billion in public grants to help communities recover from federally-declared flood disasters…
Flood insurance requires all private development projects meet the guidelines just erased by Trump. Many local building codes echo national and international standards meant to save lives and ensure that residential and business structures will survive the disasters we’ve already survived – and will confront again.
❝ A House committee has earned a rare bipartisan round of applause for beginning to roll back the US president’s ability to wage war.
❝ The House Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allows the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. The law, passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, has been used to approve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
The new amendment, introduced by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, would sunset these presidential powers eight weeks after Congress passes the 2018 defence spending budget. The appropriations committee has sent the budget to the House floor for a vote.
❝ A visibly surprised Ms Lee welcomed the addition of the amendment on Thursday, condemning the AUMF as “a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length”.
The AUMF has been used to justify military action more than 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service…
❝ “This issue is more urgent given the erratic behaviour and inexperience of our current Commander-in-Chief,” Ms Lee said. “No president should have a blank check for endless war, least of all President Donald Trump.”
Members of Congress were falling over each other to pass this bill in 2001 – excepting Barbara Lee, the sole vote against its passage. She understood and declared the foolishness of a bill so broad and unchecked it would be used [and was] by any president for any war they wished for.
I wish her well trying to shepherd her sanity through the rest of a Congress notable for cowardice and capitulation to religion, bigotry and corporate pimps. I compliment the members of the House Appropriations Committee for doing exactly what they are chartered to do.
❝ Donald Trump’s trips to his luxury Florida resort have already cost the US taxpayer at least $24 million – roughly as much as Barack Obama spent on travel in the first two years of his presidency…
President Trump almost matched this figure in his first month – spending $10 million on three golfing holidays…
❝ After he hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, Mr Trump will have averaged $2.4 million tax dollars a week on his Florida trips. If he keeps going at this pace, he will have outspent Mr Obama’s $97 million figure in just ten months.
Critics have pointed out that if the President cut back on these visits, he could fund the social security and arts programmes that he is planning to slash.
❝ Before his inauguration, Mr Trump regularly criticised Mr Obama for playing golf while holding office.
“Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the US, President Obama spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter,” he tweeted in October 2014.
I expected Trump to perform as a world-class hypocrite. It takes a truly ignorant chump to believe he meant even a fraction of the lies he told during the campaign. The worst offenders are the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives – Republican or Democrat – willing to accept every pantywaist excuse for such a profligate lifestyle. Especially from the leading elected official of this land.
The one-percenters are reknowned for their plutocratic life. For someone who supposedly represents the whole population of the United States, this new Gilded Age is a crime against the economics of American voters, Trump supporters or not.
❝ The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama administration rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking…
The Interior Department issued the rule in March 2015, the first major federal regulation of fracking, the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination and even earthquakes…
❝ Michael Saul, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, called the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the fracking rule “disturbing” and said it “highlights Trump’s desire to leave our beautiful public lands utterly unprotected from oil industry exploitation.”
Backing away from what he called modest rules “is doubly dangerous, given the administration’s reckless plans to ramp up fracking and drilling on public lands across America,” Saul said.
❝ Neal Kirby of the Independent Petroleum Association of America hailed the withdrawal of the Obama rule…
If you do something that makes the greedy bastards at the top of the oil and gas industry happy, you probably just committed a crime against humanity and nature. Nothing that bothers Trump – or any of the chumps who voted for him.
❝ The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said…
❝ Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration…
❝ In addition to being concerned about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election.
RTFA if you haven’t been keeping up with this from the middle-of-the-road heart of American journalism. Yes, the Trump base will believe he walks on water while carrying blessed dollar$ from heaven to his True Believers. That’s their problem – not the nation’s.
The primo example of a career intelligence operative, Malcolm Nance put it best – Monday evening on the 11th Hour news show – saying, “Donald Trump is a pathological liar.”
Twitter announced Friday it received two national security requests, one each in 2015 and 2016, asking for users’ account data without informing the affected users. The company could not reveal this earlier since it was bound by gag orders until now that restricted it from openly speaking about the matter.
The requests were received in the form of national security letters…
Each letter requests a special kind of data called electronic communication transaction records, including email header data and browsing history.
FBI requests go far beyond the limitations set by a 2008 Justice Department legal memo, which said such orders could only be restricted to phone billing records…
NSLs are government orders used for obtaining communication data available to service providers. They are usually accompanied by a gag order restricting the provider from informing the user whose data is obtained. The legal tool has been available since the 1970s, but has been put into regular usage for varied purposes since the passing of the U.S.A. Patriot Act…
The use of NSLs to obtain data is being opposed by major tech companies including Twitter which is fighting its own lawsuit against the government…
Yup. Last two years of the Obama Administration.
Nothing new about Liberal Democrats supporting the same crap Big Brother ideology as scumbags in the Republican Party. You ain’t about to see Donald Trump start supporting constitutional freedoms, privacy rights or net neutrality.
We’re posting this because while some Democrats are working sincerely to bring the supposedly liberal half of the TweedleDeeDum 2-Party system in line with the real needs of working folks – they will need concerned individuals to twist their arms, remind them to walk away from Cold Warrior lies and rationales. Stop snooping on ordinary citizens.