GELFAND’S WORLD (BRIEFLY TOLD)--I had suspected that Trump would find some way to walk back the tariffs. He went part way, as he is now claiming that Mexico and Canada will be exempted. But even here, there are strings attached.
That's because the promise (and remember that this is a Trump promise) is vaguely connected to renegotiating the NAFTA treaty. Evidently, Trump thinks that negotiating at the international level is the same as screwing a furniture dealer in a casino project. First you make an outrageous demand, then you settle for twenty-five cents on the dollar.
But there is still Asia and there is still Europe. They are not small businesses in Atlantic City. Their retaliatory tariffs will sting.
This is the point at which all those free trade Republicans in the congress can come together with anti-Trump Democrats and reverse the results of Trump's foolishness. Just pass a bill that undoes Trump's tariff and prohibits him from doing it again without congressional approval.
There has been a lot of talk that Trump's tariff is aimed -- or at least timed -- to have the strongest effect on the special election that will occur in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Therefore, if the Republicans plan to act on the Trump tariff, they won't start until at least Wednesday.
It wouldn't exactly be a demonstration of loyalty to country over party, but there is some small reason to hope that free trade ideology will get its chance in the coming week. It would, of course, require bills with bipartisan sponsorship in both houses of congress and a vote that is comfortably more than two-thirds in each. Let's see if the R's can suck it up and come up with a bill, no matter how modest, to undo the tariff. And by the way, since they will need a two-third majority, they can't tart it up with poison pill legislation.
Where will Republican votes come from? The answer is practically any place that is not a steel or aluminum producer. Farmers in midwestern states are concerned about retaliatory tariffs since a significant fraction of American farm income comes from exports. Parts of the south which rely on manufacturing wages also have a stake. Reporters should be asking San Joaquin Valley congressman and Trump yes-man Devin Nunes where he stands on opposing the Trump tariff.
Regions which are centers of international trade such as the west coast and the northeast will obviously be concerned about a tariff that threatens to start a trade war, as that would result in decreased cargo shipments.
Those Claiming ‘Fake News’ are Usually the Fakers not the Fakees
We already know this from listening to the Commander in Thief. When asked about his attempt to have Mueller fired, he told reporters, "Fake news." This rejection of a carefully sourced mainstream news story was the culmination of Trump's ongoing attempt to discredit those who speak and print the truth about him. But Trump is just riding the coattails of the right wing noise machine, which invented the term "liberal media bias." The attack on credible news sources has been carried on by dozens of talk radio hosts and by the Fox News network for something like twenty years now.
It seems that the right wing bubble is so closed to introspection that other politicians are now making use of the phrase. Witness Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is being assailed from both sides for his long term ties to Russian interests. Here's Rohrabacher responding to Tim Mak in a column in NPR.
"It's legitimate to think that I'm vulnerable on that, because they're wrong, because they're listening to the fake news, as well. My opponents are taking advantage of that,"
The single exception to the Fake News rule is when liberal commentators use the term facetiously. Might I suggest that the sane side of the political spectrum avoid using the phrase. That way, it will always be obvious that the user is lying. It's not that we lack for an adequate word. The term liar is certainly a decent substitute.
Why Aren't the Neighborhood Councils Holding Hearings on This Scandal?
The Sea Breeze project, located at 1311 W. Sepulveda Blvd, has been the subject of numerous stories in the LA Times, here in CityWatch, and recently in a story by Larry Altman in the Daily Breeze.
In brief, a developer by the name of Samuel Leung is charged with making political contributions to the city's elected lawmakers through strawmen -- that is to say, the charge is that Leung provided money to other people to make the contributions in their own names. This is a serious violation in that it allows a developer to make donations that are, in essence, kept secret from the voters.
When you look at the list of officials who received the donations, it is a Who's Who of local politics. Neighborhood councils should be agendizing inquiries into the Sea Breeze scandal and asking their elected officials, "Have you given the money back, or to a charity?" This would be an appropriate use of neighborhood council authority under the city Charter.
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at email@example.com)