Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Cruising the Web

Donald Trump's ego and dishonesty is getting so tiring. Cancelling the White House meeting with the champion PHiladelphia Eagles by pretending that the fact that only 10 players were going to attend was about kneeling in the National Anthem. He just can't face the fact that so many people dislike him so intensely so he's resorting to just lying about the reason why they didn't want to visit him at the White House. Well, he better get used to it. Probably, he's going to face a lot of professional championship teams refusing to visit him while he's president. So he'll have to find lots of excuses and lies to explain his unpopularity among athletes.

I fully support Mitch McConnell's playing hardball with the Democrats. Since they're continuing to obstruct key votes, he's cancelled the August recess.
“Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled,” McConnell said in the statement. “Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.”

Senators were scheduled to depart Washington on August 3 and not return until after Labor Day, just three weeks before the October 1 end of the fiscal year. In order to avoid the last-second negotiations that delayed the passage of a long-term spending bill earlier this year, McConnell is now calling on senators to return to Washington after taking just one week off in early August.
Oh, poor dears to have only one week summer vacation. Welcome to the rest of the working world.

It seems that President Obama's home city is not so thrilled with his plans for his presidential library.
In Barack Obama’s adopted hometown, of all places, his $375 million Obama Presidential Center is running into growing headwinds from a few gutsy souls.

Ironically, the winds aren’t gusting from the usual direction—Republicans and others the left often labels racist Obama-haters. Rather, it’s blowing from the very people who have long lionized Obama: white Chicago lakefront progressives, University of Chicago professors, environmentalists, African-American activists, and a community organization of the kind that once employed Obama as an organizer.

On May 14, a preservationist group called Protect Our Parks filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago, seeking a court order that would bar local government agencies from building Obama’s center in the revered and beautiful Jackson Park, which served as the site of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The group also wants to bar the city from giving control of the center’s site to the Obama Foundation. They are opposed by a phalanx of avid Obama supporters headed by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and including local labor unions, businesses, newspaper editorial boards, and a range of do-gooders who have uncritically embraced Obama’s library plans.

Imagine if Republicans had concocted a scheme to sell public land for a song to build a Donald Trump presidential library. Protect Our Parks argues that this is what the city of Chicago has done with Obama’s library, asserting that the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago don’t have the authority to transfer public parkland to a nongovernmental entity such as the Obama Foundation, especially for a nominal amount of money and in violation of state law that bars the “illegal taking of public park land.” The suit claims the sale is “a short con shell game, a corrupt scheme to deceive and seemingly legitimize an illegal land grab.”

I wish that young people would take a break from all the causes that get them riled up these days and spare a few minutes to worry about Medicare and Social Security since it is their generation that will be paying the price. Perhaps they would learn to care about the looming fiscal crisis that will afflict their generation. Just yesterday the government announced that both Medicare and Social Security are in worse financial shape than previously thought.
Medicare’s finances were downgraded in a new report from the program’s trustees Tuesday, while the projection for Social Security’s stayed the same as last year.

Medicare’s hospital insurance fund will be depleted in 2026, said the trustees who oversee the benefit program in an annual report. That is three years earlier than projected last year.

This year, like last year, Social Security’s trustees said the program’s two trust funds would be depleted in 2034.

For the first time since 1982, Social Security has to dip into the trust fund to pay for the program this year.
All this will hit people who are young today when they're building their lives. We'll see how they like paying additional payroll taxes.

It would also be nice if politicians, other than Paul Ryan, had the courage and foresight to try to address this problem.

Ben Shapiro wonders what would have happened if the Democratic Party hadn't chosen to go full #Resistance to everything Trump does. They probably could have achieved some of their policy goals since Trump doesn't have many strong policy positions and he was basically a Democrat all his life, they could have gotten him to go along with some of the things they would like to accomplish.
Democrats had a massive opportunity when Trump was elected. As an ideological nonconformist and a reactionary personality, Trump seems particularly susceptible to praise and flattery. Imagine if Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) had strolled into the Oval Office during the first week of Trump’s presidency, sidled up to Trump, and told him that they’d love to impose indelible change on America by granting everyone comprehensive health care. There’s a decent shot that with the help of then–White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Trump would have gone full Bernie Sanders. That isn’t complete speculation — in September 2017, Trump went over the heads of congressional Republicans in favor of working with Schumer and Pelosi to avoid a government shutdown.
But the Democrats decided to oppose Trump in everything. They staked a lot of their hopes on Robert Mueller and the hopes that somehow, Trump could be ejected from the presidency. That threw Trump into the arms of Republicans.
But on policy, the Democratic record looks even worse. Trump’s rhetoric continues to fuel feelings of unmoored chaos, but the markets continue to soar, the job market grows, and we’re not in the middle of any serious foreign-policy crisis. In 2016, CNN Money warned, “A Trump win would sink stocks.” Nope. Pelosi warned that Trump’s tax cuts were mere “crumbs” that would amount to nothing. Nope. Hollywood celebrities warned about the significant possibility of global thermonuclear war. Nope. Democrats promised a dystopian hellscape. Instead, they got an economy so good that the New York Times ran a piece headlined “We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are.”

Democrats have therefore had to fall back on their font of ideas: a 76-year-old socialist loonbag from Vermont, the ideological leader of their party. Bernie Sanders has spent the last few months gallivanting around stirring up the populist revolution for $15 minimum wage. His most recent target: Disney, a corporation that leans to the left and employs some 200,000 Americans. Sanders’s preferred policy prescriptions have already been embraced by Seattle, which is busily alienating its major businesses ranging from Amazon to Microsoft, and California, which continues to look more like Mad Max than Vermont.

So perhaps policy isn’t the big winner Democrats are looking for, either.

Which means that Democrats have only two strategies left: wait for Trump to implode or wait for his policies to implode. Both are possible — Trump is the most volatile president in modern American history, and economic downturns are rarely foreseeable. But for the moment, Democrats are in real trouble.

Garry Kasparov takes to the pages of the Washington Post to chastise Europeans for closing their eyes to the dangers that Vladimir Putin represents to all of the world. The hook for his column is the attempted murder plot of the anti-Putin journalist, Arkady Babchenko, which was foiled by his pretending to have been murdered.
Here’s the real headline: There’s a war going on in Europe, and Ukraine is on the front line. Babchenko and others like him are targets of a system of assassins run by Russia around the world. Putin is also backing Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria, hacking elections in the United States and Europe, and spreading lies and propaganda. He began this war years ago, and he won’t stop until he and his gang are faced with isolation and the loss of their power, riches and access to the West.

Putin’s critics ultimately have no protection against his bombs, bullets, nuclear isotopes and nerve agents. The only real defense is deterrence, by making the penalty for such acts unbearably high. Russian dissidents and journalists have no way to inflict such penalties on Putin and his thugs, of course, so the responsibility falls to the leaders of the free world, where the value of human life supposedly still has meaning.

Nor are the victims exclusively Russians. On May 24, the same day the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team announced Russian forces were responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board, French President Emanuel Macron was in St. Petersburg, where he was making energy deals with Putin. On the day of Babchenko’s “murder,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reasserted Germany’s commitment to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will increase the amount of gas Germany gets from Russia, thus making it even more dependent on the Kremlin. All this despite Putin’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

This is what appeasement looks like. But today it doesn’t come in the form of a treaty promising “peace for our time.” Today it’s all about fat contracts for Russian gas and oil. That’s how Putin funds his hybrid war on the West. That’s the money he uses to pay people to kill us.

Well, this certainly gives everyone confidence for the results of the Trump-Kim summit.
NBA star turned Kim Jong Un soulmate Dennis Rodman will be in Singapore during President Trump’s summit with the North Korean dictator next week, The Post has learned.

“The Worm” will arrive in the country a day before the June 12 sitdown — and sources said he could even play some sort of role in the negotiations.

“No matter what you might think about his presence. One thing’s for sure the ratings will be huge,” a source said. “A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill and whether you agree with it or not Dennis Rodman fits the bill.”
Yes, because high-stakes diplomacy is all about the ratings. This summit is going to be so lit!

This is what happens when minimum wage is hiked up beyond the point where businesses can make a profit.
McDonald's will roll out self-order kiosks to 1,000 stores every quarter for the next two years, according to CEO Steve Easterbrook.

The kiosks were already in roughly 3,500 US McDonald's restaurants as of March, or about one-fourth of its domestic stores. They will be in about half of US restaurants by the end of 2018 and in all stores by 2020. McDonald's locations in Australia, Canada, and the UK are even further along in kiosk usage....

McDonald's and other restaurant companies are wrangling with rising labor costs in the US as minimum wage hikes take effect in markets around the country. In the first quarter of the year, McDonald's payroll and employee benefits were 30.2% of sales, up from 27.8% during the same period in 2017.

While Hickey did not say roughly how many cashiers are being replaced by kiosks, she said the restaurants are shifting those workers to other roles: "[With] the addition of self-order kiosks, restaurants are transitioning some roles to more customer engaging positions like Guest Experience Leaders and table service."
I'm not sure what Guest Experience Leaders are, but I know that I don't care about having one of them at McDonalds.