The Bob Cesca Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog http://www.bobcesca.com We Cover The World Fri, 13 Dec 2019 21:00:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.13 22972724 The Deep State http://www.bobcesca.com/the-deep-state-3/ http://www.bobcesca.com/the-deep-state-3/#respond Fri, 13 Dec 2019 21:00:23 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147480
(Cartoonist - Nick Anderson)

In other news, the House Judiciary Committee has voted to advance two articles of impeachment against Trump, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, to the full House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has pardoned a man who was convicted for beheading a woman and stuffing her body in a barrel. Bevin also pardoned a man convicted of possessing child pornography and another man convicted of murder.

Finally, Chinese officials detailed their side of the trade story today and, once again, they did not commit to buying a specific dollar amount of American farm goods.

Chinese officials offered no specific details on the amount of U.S. agricultural goods Beijing had agreed to buy, a key sticking point in recent deal negotiations to end the 17-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies. [...]

China will import more U.S. wheat, corn, and rice after the deal, China’s vice agricultural minister said Friday, but did not elaborate.

The United States has been pushing for Beijing to commit to buy $50 billion in agricultural products in 2020, after Trump said during an October 11 press conference that the two countries had agreed to a “Phase one” trade deal that included a “purchase of from $40 (billion) to $50 billion worth of agricultural products.”

Beijing has since balked at committing to buy a specific amount of agricultural goods during a certain time frame, however. Chinese officials said they would like the discretion to buy based on market conditions.

China is not going to buy $50 billion in goods. The only question is how long it will take Trump to notice. Or, you know, maybe he'll claim they bought that much even if it isn't true. That's better than admitting he was hoodwinked, right?

Programming note... I don't feel so good and I also have to get ready for an early dinner with family, so I'll see you all on Monday. Have a good weekend.

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Johnson, Who Promised Brexit, Says Stop Talking About Brexit http://www.bobcesca.com/johnson-who-promised-brexit-says-stop-talking-about-brexit/ http://www.bobcesca.com/johnson-who-promised-brexit-says-stop-talking-about-brexit/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2019 19:30:04 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147468 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his conservatives won a significant victory in yesterday's election and increased the size of their majority, but the future of Britain's "Brexit" may not be as certain as the results tell us.

Johnson, who made the Brexit the centerpiece of his campaign and pledged to deliver it, says it's time to stop talking about the thing he promised.

Results from the 650 parliamentary constituencies around the United Kingdom showed that Johnson’s Conservative Party had trounced its main opponent, winning 365 seats to the Labour Party’s 203, the best win for the Conservatives since 1987.

“I frankly urge everyone on either side of what are, after 3.5 years, an increasingly arid argument, I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,” Johnson said outside Downing Street.

I know that after five weeks, frankly, of electioneering, this country deserves a break from wrangling, a break from politics and a permanent break from talking about Brexit.

Johnson says Britain deserves a break after talking about the Brexit for "five weeks" in a row, but the Brexit is due to occur in about five more weeks. You may recall the Brexit was delayed until the last week of January.

Now, although Johnson and his conservatives won an apparently decisive victory, exit polls from the election show that public sentiment has turned further against the Brexit and it remains to be see how committed to it parliament's freshmen will be. I think we can expect to see significant protests in the weeks and months ahead if Johnson and the new conservative majority moves ahead with it.

I'm not fluent enough in British politics to explain why the public elected a greater majority of conservatives if they don't want the Brexit but, as an American, I can relate to the experience of watching my fellow citizens electing politicians who will actively harm, rather than improve, the quality of their lives.

I would not be surprised if the Brexit is delayed beyond next month's deadline even if Johnson has the majority he needs to finish it.

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Trump’s Big Deal is a Big Nothing http://www.bobcesca.com/trumps-big-deal-is-a-big-nothing/ http://www.bobcesca.com/trumps-big-deal-is-a-big-nothing/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2019 18:00:12 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147458 I'm sure this won't surprise anyone who has paid the least bit of attention here, but Trump's big deal with China looks like smoke and mirrors at the moment.

Several outlets reported yesterday afternoon that Trump would cut his existing tariffs in half as part of "phase one" of his "greatest and biggest deal ever," but we now know that only applies to tariffs he imposed a few months ago; it doesn't apply to tariffs he imposed in 2018.

Tariffs he imposed on $250 billion in Chinese goods -- the initial tariffs that pushed the manufacturing sector toward recession -- will remain as high as 25 percent.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative confirmed that the U.S. will be maintaining 25% tariffs on approximately $250 billion of Chinese imports while reducing tariffs on $120 billion in products to 7.5%. [...]

The USTR’s office added that the “Phase One” agreement struck between the U.S. and China also includes a commitment by Beijing to make “substantial” purchases of American goods in the coming years.

China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Jun confirmed the country would increase its purchases of agricultural goods but declined to specify how much.

About that -- the New York Times reported this morning that Chinese officials have not agreed to buy a specific amount of American farm goods.

Some advisers to the White House said China had agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American farm products next year but China has so far not confirmed that figure and the United States trade representative did not provide an official figure in its statement. [...]

Chinese officials on Friday said that imports of American agriculture products would increase by a “considerable margin” to meet China’s needs for goods like soybean and pork.

In other words, China will purchase American farm goods based on consumer demand and market conditions just as they've long said they would.

So -- while some of Trump's tariffs will be reduced in size, all of his tariffs will remain on the books and China has not committed to buying a specific dollar amount of goods. We're more or less exactly where we were just after Trump declared a "truce" with Chinese President Xi Jinping in June of this year and, as you know, that truce lasted about a month before Trump blew it up and imposed the tariffs on $120 billion in goods; tariffs he's now cutting to 7.5 percent.

I expected Wall Street would light their hair of fire this morning, but the Dow Jones is actually down slightly at the moment I'm writing this. I don't know if the response has been muted because reality is settling in quicker than usual but, in any case, Trump probably won't be pleased that his marque deal isn't blowing anyone's mind.

Trump will not impose more tariffs on Sunday, but the rest of this "deal" has not actually been signed yet and probably won't be until sometime after the new year.

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The Nice List http://www.bobcesca.com/the-nice-list/ http://www.bobcesca.com/the-nice-list/#respond Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:00:16 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147434
(Cartoonist - Matt Davies)

In other news, U.S. business debt is now greater than household debt for the first time since 1991.

Meanwhile, jobless claims climbed to a two-year high last week according to the Labor Department. That's curious considering the department's last jobs report was on fire.

Finally, the Pentagon's inspector general is probing the awarding of a border wall contract to an unqualified company promoted by the a member of Congress, members of the Trump regime, and Trump himself.

The review of the award to Fisher Sand & Gravel is an audit by the Pentagon's inspector general and comes in response to a request by Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. Thompson said the decision to award the contract should be reviewed because Fisher's "proposals reportedly did not meet the operational requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection" and because of "concerns about the possibility of inappropriate influence" on the Army Corps of Engineers. [...]

For years and in recent meetings, the president has pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to consider awarding a contract for border wall construction to Fisher Sand & Gravel, according to three sources familiar with the discussions. And in a trip to the border in November, Trump's new acting secretary of homeland security and the chief of the Border Patrol's El Paso Sector toured a privately funded wall built by Fisher.

The renewed push for Fisher by Trump and DHS officials caught many by surprise, given the controversy in which the company has been entangled. The Washington Post first reported Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., held up the confirmation of a White House official in his demands to see border wall contracts that had gone out to other companies.

Officials feared Cramer was attempting to share proprietary information with Fisher so that they could make their bid more competitive. Cramer was a proponent of Fisher, a company from his home state, and had repeatedly made outreach on their behalf to the White House.

There are times when it certainly seems like the only reason to become a Republican in Congress, or almost any office for that matter, is to use government for your own corrupt ends.

That's not to say there are no corrupt Democrats, but it seems almost invariable among Republicans.

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The Bob Cesca Show Presented By BubbleGenius.com 12/12/19 http://www.bobcesca.com/the-bob-cesca-show-presented-by-bubblegenius-com-12-12-19/ http://www.bobcesca.com/the-bob-cesca-show-presented-by-bubblegenius-com-12-12-19/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2019 21:59:04 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147440 Bacon And Lollipops Forever -- NSFW! It's another Weird Thursday with Jody Hamilton and TRex David Ferguson; 'Miracle Christmas TRex'; Whiny homophobic judge confirmed by the Senate; The Trump Foundation vs Pocahontas; The UK is voting today; Trump and Toilet Flushing; Trump's rally in Hershey, PA; Senate GOP wants a short impeachment trial; The IG report and the deep state coup; Matt Gaetz and substance abuse; With music by The Bitter Elegance and Twisted Mojo; and more!]]>

Bacon And Lollipops Forever -- NSFW! It's another Weird Thursday with Jody Hamilton and TRex David Ferguson; 'Miracle Christmas TRex'; Whiny homophobic judge confirmed by the Senate; The Trump Foundation vs Pocahontas; The UK is voting today; Trump and Toilet Flushing; Trump's rally in Hershey, PA; Senate GOP wants a short impeachment trial; The IG report and the deep state coup; Matt Gaetz and substance abuse; With music by The Bitter Elegance and Twisted Mojo; and more!

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Report: Trump and China Have a Deal “In Principle” http://www.bobcesca.com/report-trump-and-china-have-a-deal-in-principle/ http://www.bobcesca.com/report-trump-and-china-have-a-deal-in-principle/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2019 21:00:17 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147429 Although there is no text or final agreement for "phase one" of Trump's "greatest and biggest deal ever," Bloomberg first reported this afternoon that the two sides have agreed to a deal "in principle."

Although no one knows exactly what will be in the deal because there is no text yet, the White House is reportedly reaching out businesses and asking them to praise the non-existent deal they cannot read.

U.S. negotiators have reached the terms of a phase-one trade deal with China that now awaits President Donald Trump’s approval, according to people briefed on the plans. [...]

The terms have been agreed but the legal text has not yet been finalized, according to the people. The administration has reached out to allies on Capitol Hill and in the business community to issue statements of support once the announcement is made, they said.

This it not unexpected and I personally receive the news with a healthy does of skepticism.

As you know, this is not the first time or even the second Trump has reached a "deal" with China and yet his trade war persists. And what we know of this latest "deal" tells us that, even if it is real, Trump's trade war will persist.

Even if we generously assume that this deal will become a reality and China will accept a partial cut to Trump's tariffs, that means we'll be looking at permanent tariffs of about 15 percent for as long as Trump remains in office. And "phase one" will likely please the market in the short-term but, eventually, everyone is going to realize this means tariffs are here to stay for good.

Bloomberg did not report an expected timeline of events, but I think we can infer that there will be no official text for a deal before the new year.

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“it’s either a wimpy deal or no deal” http://www.bobcesca.com/its-either-a-wimpy-deal-or-no-deal/ http://www.bobcesca.com/its-either-a-wimpy-deal-or-no-deal/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2019 19:30:48 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147420 If Trump signs off on a minor trade deal that does not fundamentally alter or reform the structure of our economy or our trade relationship with China, will it still be enough to please the market?

Absolutely according to chief strategists who spoke to CNBC.

One reason why the market surges higher each time the White House engages in happy talk is because even a "wimpy deal" is good enough even if a "sweeping deal" appears to be out of question.

“This is the president helping the Santa Claus rally even more,” said Prudential Financial chief market strategist Quincy Krosby. “This is as much of a signal as we’ve wanted.” [...]

“The devil is in the details. If you just look at his sound bites on Oct. 11, they’re identical to what he just said. The chances of more tariffs on the 15th are slim,” said Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments. “I think they’ll find some way to finesse that. In terms of some big sweeping deal, it’s either a wimpy deal or no deal.”

A sweeping deal isn't necessary because none of this was necessary; Trump's trade war was never necessary.

Anything that moves us closer to where we were in early 2017 before Trump first imposed tariffs on foreign solar panels is enough to please the market because the trade war has only held the greater economy back, not propelled it forward.

In our consumer-driven economy, Trump's unilateral tax on consumers (tariffs) has weakened demand and plunged the manufacturing sector in recession. It has soured international relations and made the United States look like an unreliable partner for virtually anything.

Trump is one of the world's worst negotiators, of course, but our experience should put the lie to both conservative and liberal labor critics of trade deals who've supported the trade war. We are no closer to whatever they wanted today than we were years ago and we've paid a high price with nothing to show for it.

If you're someone who believes we should take a hard stance against the labor practices and living standards of other countries we trade with, Trump's trade war has ultimately made that even less likely and weakened the position of future administrations who may consider relitigating the whole thing.

If I'm advising the next administration, I'm advising them to quietly work our way back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Quietly -- because it still gives critics on both the left and right the vapors even though it should be obvious by now that we never should have exited the deal.

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Report: Trump Will Delay His Next Tariffs http://www.bobcesca.com/report-trump-will-delay-his-next-tariffs/ http://www.bobcesca.com/report-trump-will-delay-his-next-tariffs/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2019 18:00:27 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147416 Markets surged to a record high this morning based on more happy talk from the White House, but is Trump as "close" to signing a deal with China as he says?

Probably not, but it does appear that his next round of tariffs scheduled to hit the books on Sunday will be delayed.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House has offered to place Sunday's tariffs on the backburner while they continue working on "phase one" of Trump's "greatest and biggest deal ever."

(Reuters) - U.S. trade negotiators have offered to cancel a new round of tariffs on imported Chinese goods set to take effect on Sunday as part of an effort to cement a phase-one deal to de-escalate the trade relationship between the two powers, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday.

The Journal also reported that the Trump regime has offered to cut Trump's existing tariffs, but not eliminate them, as part of a deal.

If their report is correct, it's a good example of Trump trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Trump wants to keep his trade war on the books and relevant throughout the 2020 election, but he also wants to be seen making a "deal" even if a hypothetical deal does not fundamentally change the status quo.

It remains to be seen if China will play ball in exchange for cutting rather than eliminating tariffs.

I don't think they should, but I also don't know what Chinese domestic politics would support right now. My impression is that Trump's offer probably isn't quite good enough to sell it to China's ruling party. Why should they accept permanent tariffs and reward Trump for it?

Trump is reportedly meeting with his crack team consisting of Larry Kudlow, Robert Navarro, and Robert Lighthizer today which means he'll have the advice of at least three people who are almost always wrong.

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The Bob Cesca Show Interview: Thom Hartmann 12/11/19 http://www.bobcesca.com/the-bob-cesca-show-interview-thom-hartmann-12-11-19/ http://www.bobcesca.com/the-bob-cesca-show-interview-thom-hartmann-12-11-19/#respond Wed, 11 Dec 2019 23:30:41 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147411 Thom Hartmann -- NSFW! It's the great Thom Hartmann from the Thom Hartmann radio show and thomhartmann.com. Today we’ll talk with Thom about his ban from Facebook and Zuckerberg's ongoing awfulness, as well as the impeachment, the Trump Crisis, a lot of history, and more. Meanwhile, if you dig what you hear, please support this show on our Patreon page at bobcescashow.com.]]>

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Thom Hartmann -- NSFW! It's the great Thom Hartmann from the Thom Hartmann radio show and thomhartmann.com. Today we’ll talk with Thom about his ban from Facebook and Zuckerberg's ongoing awfulness, as well as the impeachment, the Trump Crisis, a lot of history, and more. Meanwhile, if you dig what you hear, please support this show on our Patreon page at bobcescashow.com.

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The Christmas Spirit http://www.bobcesca.com/the-christmas-spirit/ http://www.bobcesca.com/the-christmas-spirit/#comments Wed, 11 Dec 2019 23:00:03 +0000 http://www.bobcesca.com/?p=147408
(Cartoonist - Mike Luckovich)

In other news, the federal government posted a $209 billion deficit in November, up from $205 billion in November of 2018.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has stopped cutting interest rates and does not expect to cut rates again in 2020. Those plans could obviously change if Trump widens his trade war again.

Finally, the Justice Department's inspector general told Congress today that his office is investigating leaks from the FBI's New York office to Trump's henchman Rudy Giuliani.

The Justice Department’s watchdog told Congress that he has an ongoing investigation into what appears to be leaks from agents in the New York FBI field office to Rudy Giuliani about the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016.

“We were very concerned about that,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. “This continues to this day, we are investigating those contacts.”

The leaked information and threats of more leaks played a role in prompting then-FBI Director James Comey to announce the Clinton email investigation was being re-opened just days before the 2016 election. Clinton and her supporters have long contended that Comey’s decision played a role in her defeat.

“Rudy Giuliani and others appeared to receive highly sensitive leaks from the New York FBI field office -- leaks that likely contributed to Director Comey’s public announcement that he was re-opening the Clinton investigation just days before the election,” Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said.

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