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  # 2292863 9-Aug-2019 12:19
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breaking ...


The Washington Post - Trump announces shakeup at top of U.S. intelligence


August 8 at 7:54 PM


Sue Gordon, a career intelligence official who serves as the deputy to the director of national intelligence, will resign Aug. 15, President Trump announced in a tweet Thursday.


Gordon’s exit will allow Trump to choose an official to take her place and serve in an acting capacity as the nation’s top intelligence official.


Trump said he will name Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence. ...




“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.


The mission of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power.


"Yet in pushing out two dedicated public servants in as many weeks, once again the President has shown that he has no problem prioritizing his political ego even if it comes at the expense of our national security”  ...



And another one bites the dust ... 😕


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  # 2292903 9-Aug-2019 13:43
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  # 2292959 9-Aug-2019 14:41
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May the SoulCycle Boycott Make Democracy Better

Stunts like Joaquin Castro’s upstage a real concern: Americans should want to know more about who funds political campaigns.

New York Times
By The Editorial Board

It has been an unsettling week for some of President Trump’s political contributors.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Stephen Ross, the billionaire real estate developer whose firm owns SoulCycle and Equinox gym, was hosting a big-money fund-raiser in support of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee on Friday, with ticket prices running as high as $250,000. This news did not sit well with many patrons of Equinox and SoulCycle, who took to social media to call for a boycott.

Lower down the donor ladder, 44 residents of San Antonio who had contributed the maximum legal amount to Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign found themselves in the spotlight, after their names were tweeted out on Monday by Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, who declared himself “Sad to see so many” of his constituents “fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The particulars of these two episodes differed, as did the public reactions. But both touched on broader questions about the advantages and challenges of promoting campaign finance transparency in the age of social media.

Scrambling to contain the fallout from the fund-raiser news, Equinox and SoulCycle tried to draw a bright line between corporate policy and the personal politics of Mr. Ross. The companies posted statements on social media, dismissing him as “a passive investor” and assuring members that the companies are not involved with his fund-raiser, that “no company profits are used to fund politicians” and that they “believe in tolerance and equality.” Mr. Ross issued his own defense, insisting that he had always been “an active participant in the democratic process” and had “never been bashful” about airing points of disagreements with the president.

Such distinctions appear to have done little to placate critics, who contend that the companies’ profits fatten Mr. Ross’s bottom line — and by extension Mr. Trump’s campaign coffers.

A popular form of protest, boycotts more often serve to draw public attention to an issue than to effect concrete change. With Mr. Ross, critics may or may not manage to inflict any financial pain. They nonetheless are publicly demanding that he answer for — and perhaps ultimately rethink — his political giving. In the process, they’re sending a signal to other major contributors to carefully consider their choices lest they face a similar accounting.

Public shaming seemed to be at the core of Mr. Castro’s tweet as well, though the outcry from Republican officials was much louder. The Texas congressman was accused of “inviting harassment” and “encouraging violence against” his own constituents. “People should not be personally targeted for their political views,” warned Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, noting that he knew “firsthand” that “lives are at stake.” (Mr. Scalise was shot by an apparently politically motivated gunman in 2017.) Donald Trump Jr. equated Mr. Castro’s tweet with the “hit list” kept by the perpetrator of Sunday’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. There were calls for Mr. Castro to resign, and the hashtag #ImpeachJoaquinCastro trended on Twitter. (Note: Constitutionally speaking, impeaching House members is not a thing.)

There is rich irony in Republican self-righteousness about public attacks on people’s political donations. Prominent Republicans routinely assert that the billionaire George Soros, a major donor to progressive candidates and causes, secretly controls the Democratic Party. Mr. Trump and his supporters spent over a year publicly smearing members of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as “13 angry Democrats,” based on their voter registrations or political giving, or both.

Thus far, Mr. Castro and his defenders have refused to back down, noting that the information he tweeted was public and readily available to anyone who cared to do a quick internet search.

This is true. But it does not mean his move shouldn’t give people pause.

A key legal rationale for campaign finance disclosure laws has long been that they help prevent corruption by letting people determine whether donors seem to be influencing recipients on policy. What Mr. Castro did was to “unlink” disclosure from policy, said Fred Wertheimer, a longtime crusader for campaign finance regulation. Such public shaming, devoid of context and redolent of politics, threatens to start “a very dangerous game,” Mr. Wertheimer said.

Mr. Castro has insisted he did not intend for the donors to be harassed. Whatever his intent, posting the names on Twitter — a platform not known for inspiring users’ better angels — was like tossing an injured sea lion into a shark tank. The results were certain to be bloody.

As with all political tactics, there is also a high risk of escalation, to the point where each side routinely sics the dark furies of social media on their opponents’ donors.

“It is not the purpose of campaign finance disclosure to create political warfare in which the donors become the targets per se,” said Mr. Wertheimer, noting that such a turn could nudge more contributors into dark-money channels — or be used as a weapon in future legal challenges to campaign finance laws. “The other side always argues that disclosure laws encourage harassment and chill speech,” he said of court cases, cautioning that, if angry Twitter users wage online campaigns against random donors, that argument could carry considerably more weight.

When it comes to political money, transparency is vital to the health of our democracy, and contributors, be they billionaires or bus drivers, should have no expectation of privacy. The challenge is to get the public to pay attention to the flow of political money without the situation devolving into partisan blood sport. There are searchable databases, like, many of them maintained by advocacy groups. But capturing people’s interest can be hard unless they are focused on a hot policy topic like guns or reproductive rights — and sometimes not even then.

For now, one basic step may be for media outlets and other advocates for transparency to keep working to ease access to and promote interest in donor data more broadly, so that it is more about public education than partisan enmity.

Americans have not only a right but also a duty to be informed about whose money is influencing their political system and its leaders.

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  # 2292974 9-Aug-2019 14:47
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China Tries to Teach Trump Economics

But he doesn’t seem to be learning.

New York Times
By Paul Krugman

If you want to understand the developing trade war with China, the first thing you need to realize is that nothing Donald Trump is doing makes sense. His views on trade are incoherent. His demands are incomprehensible. And he vastly overrates his ability to inflict damage on China while underrating the damage China can do in return.

The second thing you need to realize is that China’s response so far has been fairly modest and measured, at least considering the situation. The U.S. has implemented or announced tariffs on virtually everything China sells here, with average tariff rates not seen in generations. The Chinese, by contrast, have yet to deploy anything like the full range of tools at their disposal to offset Trump’s actions and hurt his political base.

Why haven’t the Chinese gone all out? It looks to me as if they’re still trying to teach Trump some economics. What they’ve been saying through their actions, in effect, is: “You think you can bully us. But you can’t. We, on the other hand, can ruin your farmers and crash your stock market. Do you want to reconsider?”

There is, however, no indication that this message is getting through. Instead, every time the Chinese pause and give Trump a chance to rethink, he takes it as vindication and pushes even harder. What this suggests, in turn, is that sooner or later the warning shots will turn into an all-out trade and currency war.

About Trump’s views: His incoherence is on view almost every day, but one of his recent tweets was a perfect illustration. Remember, Trump has been complaining nonstop about the strength of the dollar, which he claims puts America at a competitive disadvantage. On Monday he got the Treasury Department to declare China a currency manipulator, which was true seven or eight years ago but isn’t true now. Yet the very next day he wrote triumphantly that “massive amounts of money from China and other parts of the world is pouring into the United States,” which he declared “a beautiful thing to see.”

Um, what happens when “massive amounts of money” pour into your country? Your currency rises, which is exactly what Trump is complaining about. And if lots of money were flooding out of China, the yuan would be plunging, not experiencing the trivial (2 percent) decline that Treasury condemned.

Oh well. I guess arithmetic is just a hoax perpetrated by the deep state.

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  # 2293051 9-Aug-2019 16:09
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kingdragonfly: Green shirt guy

A man in a green shirt dubbed "Green shirt guy" laughs at a Trumphoid inside a Tucson City Council Meeting. Officials were voting to put a "Sanctuary City" measure on the November ballot.


Get your Green Shirt Guy T-Shirt here ...







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  # 2293124 9-Aug-2019 17:51
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Trump Attacks Biden; NRA Calls Trump: A Closer Look

Late Night with Seth Meyers

Seth takes a closer look at the president lashing out at critics and taking cues from the NRA.

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  # 2293127 9-Aug-2019 18:02
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Anderson Cooper: Even pretending to care was too much for Trump


CNN's Anderson Cooper examines President Trump's visit to the hospital treating victims of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, which killed at least 22 and injured more than two dozen others.


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  # 2293132 9-Aug-2019 18:15
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Major Wall Street banks hand over treasure trove of information on Russians linked to Trump and family: report

By "Raw Story" website

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, major Wall Street financial institutions have handed a wealth of information on Russians linked to Donald Trump and members of his family to congressional committees.

The report states, there are “thousands of pages of documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump, his family or his business,” according to sources.

“Some banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, to New York state investigators,” the report continues.

Among the institutions turning over documents, are Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co.

The Journal adds, “The investigators are working on a joint probe into potential foreign influence on Mr. Trump and his family by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. More information will likely be handed over in coming weeks as the banks continue to respond to subpoenas sent in April.”

BDFL - Memuneh
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  # 2293276 9-Aug-2019 21:41
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What kind of non-empathy monster brings back a baby that was discharged the day before, the baby whose parents died during the Los Pasos shootings... And flash a grin and a thumbs up?


Only the idiot-in-chief...


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  # 2293354 10-Aug-2019 07:49
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It's been confirmed that's the baby uncle, Tito Anchondo, in the photo and he indeed brought the bay back for the photo-op.

Trump knew the back-story of the baby.

Unfortunately Trump has the attributes of a psychopath, but lack the intelligence and acting skills to emulate empathy.

Either his father really f..ked up with Trump's upbringing, or Trump's brain damaged.

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  # 2293590 10-Aug-2019 15:57
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  # 2293637 10-Aug-2019 18:02
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‘If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter’: How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status

Washington Post

By Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold

OSSINING, N.Y. — For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida.

Other employees at Trump clubs were so impressed by the laborers — who did strenuous work with heavy stone — that they nicknamed them “Los Picapiedras,” Spanish for “the Flintstones.”

For years, their ranks have included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today.

President Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country,” said one worker, Jorge Castro, a 55-year-old immigrant from Ecuador without legal status who left the company in April after nine years. “But at his properties, he still has them.”

Castro said he worked on seven Trump properties, most recently Trump’s golf club in Northern Virginia. He provided The Washington Post with several years of his pay stubs from Trump’s construction company, Mobile Payroll Construction LLC, as well as photos of him and his colleagues on Trump courses and text messages he exchanged with his boss, including one in January dispatching him to “Bedminster,” Trump’s New Jersey golf course.

Another immigrant who worked for the Trump construction crew, Edmundo Morocho, said he was told by a Trump supervisor to buy fake identity documents on a New York street corner. He said he once hid in the woods of a Trump golf course to avoid being seen by visiting labor union officials.

The hiring practices of the little-known Trump business unit are the latest example of the chasm between the president’s derisive rhetoric about immigrants and his company’s long-standing reliance on workers who cross the border illegally.

And it raises questions about how fully the Trump Organization has followed through on its pledge to more carefully scrutinize the legal status of its workers — even as the Trump administration launched a massive raid of undocumented immigrants, arresting about 680 people in Mississippi this week.
'Nobody had papers'

Trump’s itinerant construction crew evolved from an outfit that used to be run by Frank Sanzo, an Italian American stonemason from Yonkers who met Trump in the late 1990s.

Sanzo was building a stone wall at the Westchester County home of former New York Knicks basketball coach Rick Pitino when Trump stopped by to talk to him one day, Sanzo recounted in an interview last month at his home in Yonkers, N.Y.

“I’m Donald Trump,” Sanzo recalled Trump telling him.

“I know who you are,” Sanzo said he replied.

Trump had purchased a country club out of foreclosure in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., in 1996 and began renovating the golf course and building dozens of homes and condominiums. The project required extensive masonry work to build the stone walls, chimneys and columns on the clubhouse and new homes. Sanzo said Trump hired him to oversee a crew of immigrants who worked on the project for several years.
Morocho said he was one of those laborers. He joined the crew of roughly 15 people in 2000. He said he earned $15 an hour, working Monday through Saturday.

“Nobody had papers,” Morocho said.

In fact, Morocho recalled, Sanzo instructed the crew to buy fake Social Security numbers and green cards in New York so they would have something to put in the Trump Organization files. Morocho said he bought his papers for $50 in 2002.

“Frank said, ‘You can go buy a social in Queens. They sell them in Queens. Then come back to work. It’s no problem,’ ” Morocho said. “He knew.”

In 2002, Morocho recalled, New York labor union officials visited Trump’s Westchester golf club to see the construction site and Sanzo told the immigrant crew to hide for a couple of hours until they left. “We stayed behind some trees,” he said.
“They gave me a social and a license. I put them on the payroll,” Sanzo said. “I don’t know if they were legal or not.”
Sanzo appears in a Trump Organization “before and after” video from 2015 that showed Trump’s son Eric discussing planned renovations for the Trump Winery near Charlottesville.
In May 2015, as Trump began ramping up his presidential run, the construction crew got a new legal name: Mobile Payroll Construction, a new company that was registered by a Trump executive, according to corporate filings. The sole owner is Trump, according to his personal financial disclosures.

The workers said little changed except for their paychecks, which once came from other Trump entities and now came from Mobile Payroll Construction. A Trump Organization construction manager named John Gruber, who had taken over the team after Sanzo retired, continued as their boss. Gruber did not respond to requests for comment.

Early this year, amid news reports that Trump’s clubs employed workers without legal status, the Trump Organization began firing them from its golf courses.
But at Mobile Payroll Construction, there was no scrutiny of the workers’ immigration status, according to Castro. He said his bosses didn’t even mention it.

“It was like it didn’t happen,” he said.

'Go to Bedminster'

Castro said an assignment would typically begin with a message from Gruber, dispatching him to golf clubs across the Northeast.

“Hi Mr John happy New year,” Castro texted Gruber on Jan. 3, 2018. “Can you please let me know when I have to go back to work? Thank you.”

“Happy New Year,” Gruber replied. “Go to Bedminster tomorrow.”
Castro said little was required to start working. His colleagues who were also undocumented, he said, helped him fill out the paperwork. When he was first hired in 2010, he said he initially provided the Trump Organization with a fake Social Security number. In 2015, he said, he gave the company a valid “Individual Tax Identification Number” issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

“They said that was sufficient,” he recalled.

The IRS issues such ITIN numbers to documented and undocumented immigrants. Employers are instructed not to accept them as proof of legal status, said Anastasia Tonello, a New York attorney who is the head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“It doesn’t even check one of the boxes” for an employer verifying a new hire’s immigration status, said Tonello. If any employer accepted such a document, she said, “they wouldn’t be taking [the process] very seriously.”

The U.S. government says that employers must accept only immigration and identity documents that “reasonably appear to be genuine.”
By using in-house workers, the Trump Organization could also avoid some permitting costs on their project. And undocumented employees are less likely to demand better pay or jump to competing employers, industry experts said.

Trump “was saving a lot of money with us,” said Castro, whose paychecks show that he made $19 an hour beginning in 2016, which increased to $21 an hour in 2018. He said he did not get health insurance or other benefits.

Castro’s attorney, Anibal Romero, said he had filed a complaint with the New York Labor Department — and planned to file another with the federal Labor Department — alleging that Castro was denied some overtime wages and health benefits because he was undocumented.

Castro’s salary matches the hourly mean wage of stonemasons in the New York area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But one former carpenter on Trump’s construction unit said he now earns twice his former salary doing similar work for a union crew.

“The salary for that work was very low,” said the carpenter, who said that after working for Trump for 12 years — from 2006 to 2018 — his salary increased by only $5 per hour, to a final rate of $19 per hour. “That’s why I left.”

The work was often grueling: long hours under the sun laying bricks or breaking rocks or digging trenches.

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  # 2293681 10-Aug-2019 18:16
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Trump threatens to retaliate against countries like New Zealand that issued travel warnings

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

President Donald Trump threatened undefined retaliation Friday against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence.

"If they did that, we'd just reciprocate," Trump said during a wide-ranging impromptu gaggle with reporters at the White House, en route to fundraisers in New York.

He added: "We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them."

Amnesty International and a growing list of countries have begun issuing warnings about travel to the United States because of gun violence, including mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Warnings, which are of varying degrees of intensity, have come from a list of countries that include Uruguay, Venezuela, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

In an advisory issued Wednesday, Amnesty International said: "Depending on the traveler's gender identity, race, country of origin, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, they may be at higher risk of being targeted with gun violence, and should plan accordingly."

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  # 2293684 10-Aug-2019 18:26
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kingdragonfly: Trump threatens to retaliate against countries like New Zealand that issued travel warnings

... "We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them."


I'm very impressed.  🙃


Big Words From Donald.


But does he actually know what "reciprocal" means?



Reciprocal Behaviors. Learning to relate to others involves engaging in the give and take of relationships. ... Reciprocal behaviors enable individuals to work out these types of situations, to maintain positive relationships, and to succeed socially.



The only "positive relationship" that Trump has is with himself, the NRA (and, possibly, with Putin).  😐




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  # 2293862 11-Aug-2019 07:39
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Mick Mulvaney Is Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

Esquire,By Charleas P. Pierce

DES MOINES, IA—Greetings from a place where they grow a lot of corn and soybeans, but they don't sell as much as they used to because trade wars are so easy to win.

The latest report on how successful the Great Chinese Climate Hoax is points us to the possibility that those of us who don't die of thirst might just starve to death anyway. From NBC News:

The panel concluded that if average global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial average — something that previous reports by the panel have suggested could happen by the end of the century — the risk of food supply instabilities “are projected to be very high,” according to the report, which was written by more than 100 scientists from around the world. One of the key ways food production could be affected is by extreme weather events. Studies have shown that climate change is increasing both the frequency and severity of extreme weather, causing more intense downpours during storms or lengthening extreme heat waves, for example, which can disrupt crops or alter growing seasons.

Scientists are already seeing some of this play out. This spring, huge swaths of the Midwest were affected by heavy rain and floods that soaked fields and significantly delayed farmers from planting soybeans and corn. In July, a severe heat wave that swept across Europe has aggravated drought conditions in France, affecting crops for one of the European Union’s largest grain producers. “In the past, bad weather in one area has been compensated by perhaps better weather in another, but some of our research has shown that as we move toward 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the probability of major cereal producers facing synchronous shocks in the same season goes way up,” said Rosamond Naylor, director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, who was not involved with the IPCC report. Naylor’s research has also suggested that global warming could enable some weeds and pests to proliferate and could weaken certain crops’ ability to fight disease.

Given the data in this report, it is possible to conclude that, maybe, this isn't the time to shred the Department of Agriculture, which this administration* is bound and determined to do. From HuffPost:

The relocation spearheaded by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has created turmoil inside two USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which produce valuable agricultural research that policymakers and the private sector rely on. Many economists and researchers have already chosen to quit rather than start new lives halfway across the country...

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, went a long way toward confirming that suspicion last week. Speaking to the South Carolina Republican Party at a gala, Mulvaney brought up the USDA move and how many workers decided to resign because of it, calling it “a wonderful way to sort of streamline government.” Perdue had said publicly that the move from Washington to Kansas City was supposed to be about streamlining the agencies and making them more effective. Mulvaney’s comments suggest that wasn’t the motivation at all.

“Guess what happened?” Mulvaney said. “More than half the people quit. Now, it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker. I know that because a lot of them work for me, and I’ve tried. You can’t do it. … By simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out to the real part of the country,’ and they quit.”

Jesus, they really believe this nonsense. Mulvaney's not the sharpest knife in the drawer but, really, "the real part of the country"? The "real part of the country" at the moment is full of people who seem to be looking longingly at farm implements every time an administration* official shows up. From Time:

Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, drew applause as he leveled criticism of the administration’s trade policy at a forum with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in front of thousands of farmers gathered in a metal barn for a panel discussion. American farmers took a fresh financial hit from Trump’s trade war over the weekend as China announced a halt to all U.S. agricultural imports after the president threatened Beijing with another tariff increase. Wertish criticized Trump’s “go-it-alone approach” and the trade dispute’s “devastating damage not only to rural communities.” He expressed fears Trump’s $28 billion in trade aid will undermine public support for federal farm subsidies, saying the assistance is already being pilloried “as a welfare program, as bailouts.”

These people in "the real country" are not fools. They know they're being played for suckers. From CNBC:

Gribbs told CNBC in 2018 that his soybean prices dropped by 20% due to the trade war. Last year, his soybeans sold for a local cash price of $10.50 per bushel. Now, his soybeans are selling at $9, right at the cost of production. “We’ve lost our biggest export market and that was China. And that’s weighing on prices,” the farmer said. “The geopolitical problems that we have with the Trump tariffs have weighed on market confidence and the market just can’t move.” Despite the fiscal damage the trade dispute has caused, many farmers appear to still support Trump. According to a recent survey from The Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, 78% of farmers said in July that they believe the trade war will ultimately benefit U.S. agriculture. In response to the survey, Gribbs said, “No, certainly I wouldn’t agree with it.”

The Department of Agriculture was created in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. Like the land-grant schools, this was one of the progressive ideas that were made possible because the people who would have been their primary opponents had seceded from the Union. This led to the county extension services and the Grange and all the other institutions that made this country a breadbasket for the world, and helped make farming a huge part of a modern economy. And none of the people that the USDA helped gave a damn that it was located in Washington, D.C., which is a real part of the country and is, in fact, its capital city.

Jesus, these really are the fcking mole people.

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