Trump’s Latest Executive Orders: Head Fakes and Head Games

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

Before we look at the craptacular bullshit Trump and his henchmen pulled over on major media outlets Friday and Saturday, let’s take a look at what needs urgent resolution.

A COVID-19 patient was evicted from her home while she was still recovering. The ownership of the home is in question yet she was booted out, still struggling to breathe while all her belongings are tossed out on the lawn.

This is likely not the only example like this. The article above notes there have been 9,000 eviction filings in the Memphis, Tennessee area as of June. How many are there today?

How many eviction filings are there across the entire country?

Bloomberg reported as much as a third of renters don’t think they will be able to make August rent payment:

Renters across America are wading into unknown territory. With the lapse of the federal moratorium on evictions that expired July 31 and the end of the $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits, a recent survey reveals the breadth of financial uncertainty now plaguing Americans.

An estimated 27% of adults in the U.S. missed their rent or mortgage payment for July, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau weekly over the last three months. Among renters alone, just over one-third (34%) said during the waning days of July that they had little to no confidence that they could make their August rent payment, a stark measure of the ongoing economic devastation for households stretched to the brink by coronavirus pandemic.

There were 43 million renters in 2019. If that number hasn’t changed we could be looking at nearly 15 million evictions within the next month.

This doesn’t include homeowners who haven’t or may not be able to make their mortgage payments.

This is a massive crisis which is kicking off slowly thanks to the GOP Senate refusing to negotiate with its HEALS Act to meet the House Democrats’ HEROES Act which was passed in May and has been ready to go since then.

Given 51 million Americans were unemployed by mid-July and many had difficulty collecting unemployment compensation on a timely basis, the scale of homelessness we are about to see because Trump and the GOP are such massively useless asshats will make the 2008 crash look like nothing.

~ ~ ~

At his Bedminster golf club Friday evening — in front of club members who didn’t wear masks in spite of New Jersey’s emergency orders — Trump threw out teasers about executive orders to help Americans:

These are Steve Herman’s live tweets capturing the event.

Many major media outlets reported Trump’s comments without any skepticism.

Just before 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Trump signed so-called executive orders. Again, major media reported this straight without any pushback, as Josh Benton noted in his feed:

In reality, what Trump signed was a head fake which did jack shit to address problems. Major media failed to portray it that way. To its credit, the Washington Post did sketch this as an end run around Congress — but it was far worse than that.

~ ~ ~

Let’s check with Bharat Ramamurti, member of Congressional Oversight Commission who spelled out the problems in a Twitter thread:

Let’s take a look at the actual text of these executive orders.

Here’s the heart of the one on evictions. As you can see, it doesn’t create an eviction moratorium. It asks certain federal agencies to see if they can maybe do something on evictions.

.

Here’s the payroll tax one. It’s a deferral. That means either employers will continue to withhold your payroll taxes and you won’t see any difference, or they won’t withhold (unlikely), and you’ll have it all withheld from your paycheck when the deferral expires at year-end.

.

Here is the key part of the unemployment insurance one.

*To be clear, the legal authority to do this is highly dubious.*

But, at best, it’s a $300/week federal contribution redirecting money that, by my estimate, would cover about 4 weeks for the currently unemployed.

.

On unemployment insurance, evictions, and on student loans, these orders and memoranda — even if they are found legal — provide far, far less relief than what Democrats provided in the HEROES Act that passed three months ago and has languished in the Senate ever since.

The House’s HEROES Act passed on May 15. The GOP-led Senate dragged its feet for two months; HEALS Act wasn’t introduced until July 27, offering only a third of the aid the HEROES Act offers while it also contains pork like spending on the F-35.

Because the GOP senate continues to take marching orders from the White House, adhering to an arbitrary $1 trillion limit which is inadequate to the size of the crisis, they avoid good faith negotiation with the House to reconcile the differences between the HEROES Act and HEALS Act.

The White House then throws out useless memoranda to keep the media occupied — a classic Bannon-esque move, treating the media as the enemy by flooding the zone with shit they have proven incapable to process correctly.

The intent is to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There is almost nothing actionable in the scribbles: orders like “shall identify,” “shall consider,” “shall take action,” “shall review” are worthless because they are not specific and not supported by legislation which would make them specific.

Nothing in any of the bullshit Trump signed in a reality TV-like gesture will help the millions of Americans already under threat of eviction, or those already evicted like that poor COVID-19 patient in Tennessee.

~ ~ ~

There are a number of analyses already published across the internet which spell out the flaws with the White House’s approach including its fundamental illegality.

Bob Greenstein at the Center on Budget points out the shortcomings in Trump’s “executive actions,” which is a more accurate description than executive orders. What’s missing:

– Funding for testing, contract tracing and other critical publc health needs to help get the pandemic under control
– Food assistance for millions who aren’t getting enough to eat, including students missing out on school breakfast and lunch
– Extension of the federal eviction ban and funding to help renters struggling to pay the rent
– Funding for schools to provide distance learning and take needed precautions to reopen safely
– Funding to keep child care providers afloat so they can care for children safely when parents are able to work
– Fiscal relief for states, including additional Medicaid funding, to avoid more layoffs and cuts in health care and other critical state services
– Employment benefits at adequate levels that would last more than the next six weeks or so for people who have lost jobs.

All the kinds of aid which legislation can provide and an executive order can’t, since the power of the purse lies solely with Congress.

It wouldn’t hurt at this point to brush up on executive orders; the Congressional Research Service worked up a paper on them in 2014. Probably wouldn’t hurt to revisit Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer.

As important as wrestling with this executive bullshit is, it’s essential to recognize the White House is absolutely useless to the American public right now. They aren’t doing anything to help the people, only to save their asses in the general election.

A Washington Post article published last evening tells us how chief of staff Mark Meadows and his minions are addressing the pandemic:

As the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows is responsible for coordinating the vast executive branch, including its coronavirus response. But in closed-door meetings, he has revealed his skepticism of the two physicians guiding the anti-pandemic effort, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, routinely questioning their expertise, according to senior administration officials and other people briefed on the internal discussions.

Meadows no longer holds a daily 8 a.m. meeting that includes health professionals to discuss the raging pandemic. Instead, aides said, he huddles in the mornings with a half-dozen politically oriented aides — and when the virus comes up, their focus is more on how to convince the public that President Trump has the crisis under control, rather than on methodically planning ways to contain it.

That’s what they are doing with the economic aid, the same damned thing — head fakes to appease their base, pretending to do something constructive when they’re doing nothing but campaigning.

The White House isn’t interested in addressing the pandemic’s economic problems any more than they are interested in addressing the pandemic itself.

That’s why the pretense of doing anything with worthless executive orders — it only needs to snow the media with head games and prop up Trump until the next head fake is required.

Meanwhile, the country continues to burn out of control.

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112 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Many thanks. Nice analysis and integration of the few media sources unwilling to kick Lucy’s football.

    No president could adequately respond to these unprecedented problems without orchestrating his work with Congress, if nothing else, to get the money to do it. Trump, however, does not want to respond. He’s a lazy shit. He doesn’t care what happens to others. He can’t envision a response or put one together. He can’t coordinate with Congress, because he doesn’t know how, won’t learn, and could not negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag. But he does enjoy humiliating others and watching them suffer, and likes to put on a show, with him as the star in all three rings.

    After nearly four years, none of that is news to the GOP, they’re happy with it, or the MSM, for whom he is still “good copy.” But with tens of millions of lives at stake, doing nothing but fiddle while the country burns ought to have consequences for Trump and those, like the McConnells and Adelsons, enabling his apathy and malevolence. Pulling levers in the voting booth should just be the start.

    • ThomasH says:

      Also; the GOP can not, under any circumstance allow the federal government to actually work for the betterment of all the citizens.

      • Rayne says:

        We can’t have the government of, by, and for the people working for the common welfare of people! Why, that would be anti-fascist!

      • timbo says:

        That really appears to be what the problem is. If it doesn’t benefit the banksters and other paymasters of the GOP, it just can’t be done. Until it’s too late of course, at which point I’m sure all those “honorable gentleman” will be blaming each other for why there are mobs coming to get them… smh.

        • ThomasH says:

          Also, it would prove, by being successful, that FDR, Keynesian economics, the Great Society programs were on the right track after all.

  2. Pajaro says:

    Was in a local gun shop the other day, counters nearly devoid of handguns when the are usually 500-600. What caught my eye was a guy taking delivery (firearm transfer) of five m240 machine guns!! These are what the U.S. Army and Marines use now, a 30 caliber, belt fed machine gun with a fire rate of 500 to 600 rounds/min. They sell for $15000 each (arms dealer website catering to law enforcement). Concerning if these are for a private person or group. Also concerning if these are for any local law enforcement. Deeply concerning if these were for Operation Legend.
    Those F-35s won’t fly and can’t do their job, might make a suitable shelter for evicted if engine removed. Tear down the border fence and use it to make shelters.

  3. P J Evans says:

    I’ve been getting my analysis here, or from the experts who use Twitter (I read reputable accounts). The media are only slightly more useful than the WH and Senate, these days. (They somehow missed that Friday night, people were handed masks after reporters noticed, and many did wear them.)

    • Rayne says:

      I dunno about the uptick in mask wearing for the Friday night Bedminster head fake, PJ.

      Earlier while waiting for POTUS about 3:30 p.m. there was a higher ratio of masks-to-members.

      https://twitter.com/ChrisJansing/status/1292184852935081985

      But as the time for his speech came, the masks-to-members ratio dropped and they also managed to come up with children to put in the front row — also not wearing masks.

      https://twitter.com/justinsink/status/1291875479830564870

      I note one black guy who they must have ensured would be front and center. “Look, diversity!”

      The attendees all paid membership fees somewhere between $200K and $350K.

      • P J Evans says:

        I did see one picture where most of them were in masks. They could have taken them off right after.
        Rich people there for the thrill of seeing “their guy” punish others, I suppose.

        • joejim says:

          Tax deductible, I believe, if you are a member as a business representative and you use facilities to recruit or entertain clients. Because certain classes of people can’t do business in offices or the House of Pancakes, its essential for their concentration that they evade taxes by using luxurious facilities with ugly carpets, and where a criminal president can come by and mock people who are trying to end the virus that he doesn’t have the bandwidth to remotely understand.

        • Rayne says:

          Yup. That’s how folks are screened out — only those who can run with the big (disposable cash) dogs are permitted. Those are just the membership fees, though, not the annual dues. I haven’t checked but I wouldn’t be surprised if the they were $15-20K per year.

          I hashed out how golf courses can be used for money laundering in previous posts; fees are quite good for that purpose. They’re also very good as bribes.

  4. John Lehman says:

    Thanks for sorting out the convoluted bs.
    To mix some metaphors for my own take:
    Like a Potemkin village on a hill,
    or should that be Potemkin city?

    • John Lehman says:

      Or maybe “Potrumpkin” Village. Nah,…don’t want to immortalize the guy….. even negatively.

  5. biff murphy says:

    IANAL,Thanks for the analysis Rayne.
    President Gaslight says:
    “That’s a big thing. I’ve always been very strongly in favor. We have to cover pre-existing conditions.”
    From the same asshole who’s fighting this in court.

  6. BobCon says:

    I agree that Trump is doing all he can to distract and confuse as his strategy to beat Biden.

    I think there is more going on by the GOP and their allies as well which is aimed at hedging bets in the event of a Biden victory.

    I think the appeal for McConnell of the payroll tax deferral that Stephen Moore has been pitching is that it is a time bomb which can explode early next year as the Democrats try to push for a return to regular order.

    I think McConnell is refusing to negotiate in large part because he wants state and local governments to fall off a cliff, again to create a crisis which lasts into next year and beyond.

    I think McConnell and the GOP Beltway infrastructure of AEI, Club for Growth, Cato and the rest is planning a replay of 2009-2010 — trash the economy, sandbag the recovery, and then run on blaming the Democrats. And I strongly suspect Fox, Facebook and the Russians are already onboard.

    If Trump wins, I think the plan is to let him run as an imperial president with the backing of the courts and steamroll Democrats in Congress.

    What makes this even more dangerous than 2009-10 in my opinion is that the GOP is even more radical and better practiced at obstruction today. The Tea Party was bad, but Q***n makes those guys look like professors.

    Trump winning is the preferred outcome for the right, but they are already moving on Plan B.

    • Rayne says:

      All possible, but the GOP has underestimated the anger of the public. They are fueling that anger right along side their cultivation of Q***n.

      IMO we are looking at cornered animals. They are willing to burn it all down in order to escape the inevitable. They are literally killing their most likely opposition by refusing to deal with the pandemic, and they are taking collateral damage of their own at the same time in their desperation.

      They want to starve everything as they prepare an exit because starving people focus on the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs instead of the top — they hope we’ll be too busy trying to keep body and soul together to investigate and prosecute their criminality.

      86 days to the election. 163 days to inauguration day. Good luck running out the clock, Mark Meadows. Trump is going to crash hard, will end up eventually in care typical for dementia patients and on our dime. But Meadows is 61 years old; I hope he’s saved enough for retirement already as well as legal fees.

      • P J Evans says:

        It would have had a better chance of working if the virus hadn’t hit early in the year – most people now are aware that the economy can’t improve without getting the virus under control, and that the feds aren’t doing anything on that front.

      • BobCon says:

        I agree that they are not planning very rationally. I think the mistake behind any 2009-2010 redux strategy by the GOP elites is they are overestimating the likelihood that they can firewall or co-opt the radicals in the same way that they handled the Tea Party. The gangrene is a lot closer to the bloodstream this time.

        I also think to at least some extent they are underestimating the Democratic Party’s ability to learn from its mistakes. Obama hamstrung himself by over relying on insiders wearing blinders like Larry Summers — interestingly, as of a few days ago Summers is now officially out of the running for a spot in a Biden administration. I don’t know how far the Democrats will go in assuming the GOP is operating in bad faith, but I think they are more savvy than in 2009. We’ll see if it’s enough.

        And what is driving a lot of this is the near complete collapse of any intelligence on the right. The only thinking they encourage any more is predatory intelligence. They can’t react to any challenges except to strike out increasingly blindly, and like sharks in feeding frenzy in chummed waters, they can’t tell the difference between food, hooks and themselves.

      • ducktree says:

        This morning a WaPo headline alert popped up on my iPhone: U.S.’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 5 mil. ~ double the number at the end of JUNE!

        I don’t want to be a skunk at the punch bowl, but it’s quite possible there will have been 250,000 dead by right around Labor Day weekend . . .

        • Rayne says:

          At a rate of 1000 per day I had calculated we’d be at 200K by Election Day, but the southern states have blown that out of the water. You could be right. It’s just horrid.

          And there will inevitably be stupid right-wing assholes who’ll say, “It’s not as bad as the flu!” and I will have to mute all social media and drink all the wine to keep from going off on them for their wretched ignorance.

        • ducktree says:

          Okay then, let it be sangria in the metaphorical punch bowl . . .! Skol!

          This is not my first pandemic rodeo … been living with HIV since November 1981. Yee~haw!

          [Living is the take away here.] (;>

        • Eureka says:

          An early adopter, no less — glad you live to tell. Those had to be some terrifying and traumatic years. I don’t know the proper salutation for ‘nod to this COVID-19 era must be both triggering and affirming of your resilience’, but … that.

        • ducktree says:

          Thank you,Eureka, for the good wishes… my family’s medical history made me inclined not to panic and run to doctors right away.

          Somehow, I must have inherited some kind of epi-genetic resilience to HIV, to a point. Finally started a pharmaceutical cocktail in 2001 ~ it sent a shock wave through my microbiome, just weeks before 9-11… Those were the days!

          Synchronicity!

        • Eureka says:

          Yikes, synchronicity indeed.

          That’s a nice run of luck, though. At least most of us have luck for something(s), we usually just never know for what, for sure, and if it will come in handy until life shows up.

          In re SARS2, I think the chief benefit of widespread, accurate, and rolling (repeated) antibody testing would be for people to know that (and for some, how, _for now_) they had lived through it.

          And in having to write out the conditions for one type of fantasyland testing scenario, I am reminded of a recent interview with a gal in her 20s who has tested COVID positive twice, four months apart, each time associated with discrete fever-illness. And now she ‘seems’ fine (again). So many varietals of both luck and what-the-fuck at this stage with this one.

        • Rayne says:

          At least the carriers give others a head’s up as to who they are: stay away from bikers for the next 4-6 weeks. Give anybody with a loud motorcycle a wide berth.

        • John Lehman says:

          Worked with a guy, a legend in the local motorcycle racing circuit, said those loud Harley Davison were derisively called “Hardly motorcycles” by other racers. The loud Harleys could never win a race in their own cc class. A joke to serious motorcyclists.

        • P J Evans says:

          If they don’t drive loud bikes, they drive loud cars. Apparently “loud” is important for some guys.
          (As a kid, there was a physicist living across the street. His motorcycle was fairly quiet.)

        • John Lehman says:

          Of course another guy we both worked with was a transplanted San Francisco Harley owning fanatic. When ranked, he would smile, and go back to his “Easy Rider” day dreams. The rest of us just enjoyed the light hearted ranking between the two.

          Living downtown in a city, the noise of loud motorcycles and cars is annoying. The “Easy Riders” and “Hot Rods” belong in rural areas where they can subjected to the wrath of angry farmers.

          Damned whipper snappers anyhow.

        • P J Evans says:

          Add in the ones who have the car’s sound system turned up to where it’s audible at 200 or more feet. (IMO, that should require a sound tech/concert promoter license.)

        • John Lehman says:

          Agreed.
          Wouldn’t be surprised if a lot them are concert sound techs anyway or on their way to being.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I can see the GOP dead-enders ginning up their defenses now, “You can’t make an omelette….”

    • Nehoa says:

      I am going on record, if the Dems retake majority control of the Senate, to ending the filibuster. Or at least require that a filibuster actually be conducted, like in speaking non-stop for an extended (days, weeks, months!) period of time. Not this you have to have 60 votes stuff. Make majority parties responsible for their actions.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Wyoming has a pop of 578,759
        California has almost 40,000,000

        Any Senator from the low population states of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, or South Dakota can hamper solutions for 330,000,000 citizens. (They sure are relatively inexpensive Senate seats to buy if you are an oil and gas interest, however. The media markets in those rural states tend to be cheap.)

        The filibuster has become a travesty, particularly under the egregious McConnell.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      The 20 million dollar war chest they have amassed for election litigation is telling… With Trump sandbagging USPS, suing over expanded mail-in voting, along with the existing voter suppression, I’m not sanguine on a Biden win.

      The GOP will have lawyers in every county in every swing state with significant POC populations challenging ballots and signatures. That might be enough for them to retain the Senate even if Trump loses.

      The census sabotage is alarming too, and the stacked judiciary would be perfect happy if voting was effectively restricted to the original rules for the next 30 years.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I’m with Rayne, this is all happening because

        …the GOP has underestimated the anger of the public. They are fueling that anger right along side their cultivation of Q***n.

        IMO we are looking at cornered animals. They are willing to burn it all down in order to escape the inevitable.

        Some people will always be loyal to Trump, but many are moving away. We have never before seen a “Lincoln Project” of former members of a political party actively organizing to defeat their party’s president.

        They’re starting to ‘burn the place down’ in anticipation of losing. Every act of arson feeds a public desire for Biden and Dems to ‘Build Back Better’.

        Cornered animals are not strategists; they are simply reactive, and sometimes they get lucky. But as a general rule, they lose. These people are trapped; the smarter ones already left the party and got out.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        I’m retired and took an IT gig at our local Census office last December.

        Our office covers part of LA, and we support enumerators who work in some of the severely undercounted parts of the city. My office colleagues, all temps like me, are uniformly great. The office is open 6:30 AM – 11 PM 7 days, and many of us are currently putting in 12+ hour days and 6-day weeks to get enumerators out in the field as soon as possible. Some of the enumerators are virtual bulldogs of persistence, working hard to gain the trust of immigrant communities previously terrorized by ICE and the Census citizenship question. None of us would be expending this much effort for any commercial organization; most of us chose this, at least in part, because we think it’s important.

        All year long, the policies and decisions coming from Census HQ often seemed designed to create as much turmoil as possible, even beyond the well-known underfunding and truncated enumeration schedule. The largely outdated technical environment is complex, error-prone, and counterproductive in too many ways to mmm, enumerate. Although this caused additional frustration it was manageable.

        The pandemic has, unsurprisingly, accelerated the anxiety at all levels. Two offices nearby have closed due to infected office staff (including Inglewood), and some staffers in my office had contact with two infected trainees at recent outdoor training sessions. Within a few days of starting, many young parents have resigned their enumerator positions, because without schools they need to stay home to watch their little ones. Many older enumerators–often Census veterans–have resigned because of health concerns. Some of the office staff has left as well, and the rest of us are being as careful as we can, but as an IT person I come into close contact with some enumerators, and handle the smartphones and other devices they use. Purell is my rabbit’s foot.

        I’m not mentioning this to troll for compliments, but rather to point that these effects are perfectly predictable results of doing nothing about the pandemic. Even though underfunding and the bogus citizenship question started it off, there can be little doubt that inaction on the pandemic damages the Census as much as it harms the election.

  7. jerryy says:

    I must need a lot more coffee today or something…

    How does deferring the payroll tax help the unemployed? They do not get paychecks to start with.

    • Rayne says:

      Hello. Exactly.

      Not to mention the tab comes due anyhow for the employed the way this is written, and in such a way that it may damage the economy even further when the market depends on a seasonal bounce.

        • jerryy says:

          I should explain that a bit more. Even if the deferred monies are put back at the end of the year, for now, the entire amount in the pot will be smaller, no cash going in but monthly payments going out to the current retirees. So then the amount available that would have interest paid on it is smaller.

          Deferring the payroll taxes until the end of the year will not make up for the lost amount — it is that same compound interest idea that some folks are beginning to understand about COVID-19.

        • posaune says:

          My question is how will the tax deferral be regulated? Does the employer hold the taxes for the 4 months and become responsible for tax submissions? Or, is each person paid gross wages and becomes responsible for the tax submission. Somehow, it’s not hard to envision a bunch of unscrupulous employers taking the tax money for themselves, and either absconding or shutting down the business. And the employees? missing the funds and having to pay taxes on reported (but not paid) income. And how will the $8/hour wage earner deal with the IRS then?

        • jerryy says:

          The IRS has broad collection powers. They can easily garnishee wages and bank accounts until the amount they say the $8/hour wage earner owes is paid in full.

          But this is the FICA portion, so collecting that may be done by someone else.

        • jmac says:

          IMO this is the diabolical part of the plan, assuming he succeeds in getting the payroll tax deferred thru December. Trump is beginning to realize that he will likely not be re-elected. In his final bid to retain some GOP support once he is out of office to avoid any hardship that might be put upon him, his master plan is that once the ‘deferring’ is done with, the onus will be on the Democrats to either forgive this debt, OR to enforce the collection of it. The GOP wins no matter which way they (i.e. the Democrats) act.

    • madwand says:

      Yeah if you’re smart and you don’t absolutely need it, and your company will do it, continue to have the tax taken out.

  8. Oldguy says:

    I posted a similar analysis to this on Daily Kos under the title “Trump’s Bluff Part 2.”
    Democrats need to ask DeSantis and Abbott as to whether they will put up the $100 per head.
    Every vulnerable Republican Senator should ask if they are ok with the raid on Social Security and Medicare funding.
    Every Hurricane state Republican should be asked if they are OK with FEMA Funds being hijacked.

    This might be a tactical move by the White House politically, but it is useless, empty, and should be used to hammer all the Republican senators up for election. They will break.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A more basic objection is that Trump’s “program” is not meant to be implemented. He makes no commitments and there’s nothing to work out. He’s selling snake oil, the pretense that he’s doing something while he pours sand in the gear works, to make it harder for his successor to do something. I think we’ve reached the part of the rout where retreating defenders start blowing up bridges, mining roads, and setting booby traps in pianos half-buried in the rubble.

    • Raven Eye says:

      “Every Hurricane state Republican should be asked if they are OK with FEMA Funds being hijacked.”

      This is interesting because it is not uncommon for an administration to request, and receive, a supplemental for FEMA during a major disaster. The weird thing is that if Trump’s E.O. results in shortages farther along in the hurricane season, that shortfall will in part due to the inability for Congress and this Administration to put together a new COVID package. So by Trump leaping into this E.O., he’s creating an additional crisis that may cause a shortfall.

      • P J Evans says:

        A lot of hurricane-state Rs didn’t want to spend money to help people after Sandy, but they’re *always* first in line when it’s their states. Same when it’s fires in the west: don’t spend money on blue states, only on red states.

      • Oldguy says:

        Lindsey Graham, tell us what you think of Trump taking South Carolina’s Hurricane disaster relief. Lindsey?

  9. Raven Eye says:

    Trump is always happy to spend the states’ monies.

    The funds FEMA has been directed to provide Individual Assistance (IA), if requested by the states, is subject to FEMA’s usual 75:25 cost sharing (which can be waived.)

    “(2) Financial assistance to address other needs In the case of financial assistance provided under subsection (e)—
    (A) the Federal share shall be 75 percent; and
    (B) the non-Federal share shall be paid from funds made available by the State.”

    Trumps generosity is obviously less than he’d like us to realize because the states still have to pony up $100 per check.

    Considering that most states are experiencing budget problems due to disruptions in normal revenue streams, where is the relief for state, local, and tribal that could be provided under FEMA Public Assistance (PA).

    Typical Trump…When he was floating his infrastructure (lead) balloon, the total cost figure was actually an estimate (of dubious origin) combining federal, state, local, tribal, and private (through public-private partnerships). He’s always been about other people’s money.

    • harpie says:

      Steve Vladeck suggests the following piece on this part of it all:

      https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1292423211750240259
      7:31 AM · Aug 9, 2020

      A very helpful read from @GeorgetownLaw Professor David Super on why the unemployment assistance piece of yesterday’s executive actions is equal parts unworkable and unlawful—and why it will create perverse incentives for future Congresses to not adequately fund disaster relief.

      Inadequate, Unworkable, and Unlawful: The Trump Unemployment Aid Program
      https://balkin.blogspot.com/2020/08/inadequate-unworkable-and-unlawful.html
      David Super August 08, 2020

      […] Members of Congress from both parties long have had reservations about granting the President large “slush funds”. Weaponizing the Disaster Relief Fund in a political struggle with Congress all but assures that similar funds will not be appropriated in the future – with the result of slower disaster responses and more unnecessary hardship. And if, as seems likely, few “deficit hawks” and “constitutionalists” in Congress object to the President seizing the power of the purse in this manner, we will be even farther from being able to set fiscal procedures for the broader national interest.

    • Raven Eye says:

      This from the L.A. Times, talking about California:

      “The state does not have an identified resource of $700 million per week that we haven’t already obliged,” Newsom said. “There is no money sitting in the piggy bank.”

  10. ButteredToast says:

    Thank you for the excellent summary. Sadly, I fear that the Administration’s effort “to snow the media with head games and prop up Trump until the next head fake is required” will be successful beyond Trump’s base. It seems that shiny headlines for a couple days have time after time been sufficient for Donnie to fool just enough people. Nevermind the idiotic performance by Larry Kudlow this morning. The reality is out there, but not enough read it. Low-information voters see the initial reports and move on.

  11. OldTulsaDude says:

    The only way to get the media to pay attention is to hit them in the ratings – tune out and drop out, but let them know why you are abandoning their network, magazine, newspaper, or website.

    I would not underestimate the effect of news coverage that makes Trump appear as if he is actually trying to put money in people’s pockets. Trump is about nothing but creating illusions, and the media keeps looking where he points.

    • ducktree says:

      Indeed, I cut the CTV and landline years back and don’t miss them in the least. After tiring of and canceling the dead tree version and lazy journalism of the LA Times, I now have an on line subscription to WaPo that provides me a mute media news platform to yell at everyday while I telework from my den!

      The Jetsons got it wrong . . .

      • P J Evans says:

        The LA Times used to do real news, including local/regional outside the high-income areas, but sometime in the late 90s they gave all that up.
        They aren’t even as bright as the Hearst papers, which have sites where you can get *some* news for free, without limits on how many you can read.

  12. mospeck says:

    boy oh boy, Rayne you sure don’t pull any punches and you hit like a ton of bricks.
    If I didn’t know better I’d think that maybe the GOP is about trying to foment civil war.
    Still I got me this underlying good vibe. Got the high hopes for our Republic that in the end–after we have already tried everything else* –we will get things right. Once there was this contrary xx science fiction writer who died a little while ago:
    “Le Guin’s interest in Taoism influenced much of her science fiction work. Douglas Barbour said that the fiction of the Hainish Universe contains a theme of balance between light and darkness, a central theme of Taoism. The title The Left Hand of Darkness derives from the first line of a lay traditional to the fictional planet of Gethen:
    Light is the left hand of darkness,
    and darkness the right hand of light.
    Two are one, life and death, lying
    together like lovers in kemmer,
    like hands joined together,
    like the end and the way.
    Suzanne Reid stated that this presentation of light and dark was in strong contrast to many western cultural assumptions, which believe in strongly contrasted opposites. She went on to say that Le Guin’s characters have a tendency to adapt to the rhythms of nature rather than trying to conquer them, an attitude which can also be traced to Taoism. The Handdarrata represent the Taoist sense of unity; believers try to find insight by reaching the “untrance”, a balance between knowing and unknowing, and focusing and unfocusing.
    The Yomesh cult is the official religion of Orgoreyn, and worships light. Critics such as David Lake have found parallels between the Yomesh cult and Christianity, such as the presence of saints and angels, and the use of a dating system based on the death of the prophet. Le Guin portrays the Yomesh religion as influencing the Orgota society, which Lake interprets as a critique of the influence of Christianity upon Western society. In
    comparison to the religion of Karhide, the Yomesh religion focuses more on enlightenment and positive, obvious statements. The novel suggests that this focus on positives leads to the Orgota being not entirely honest, and that a balance between enlightenment and darkness is necessary for truth”

    *Winston Churchill joking about Americans back in 1939

    • Rayne says:

      In re: foment civil war — my warning to everyone is to watch Belarus. Search Twitter for what is happening right now.

      Remember that Russian-affiliated Wagner Group mercenaries were sent into Belarus several weeks ago and arrested. I don’t think the incursion ended with that effort.

      EDIT: Adding some links to coverage via Twitter, some still live at the time I add it to this comment.

      Security forces try to disperse protesters in the Belarusian capital of Minsk post-election.
      https://twitter.com/descifraguerra/status/1292568837297254405

      “Live stream of central Minsk tonight, where many thousands of opposition supporters are protesting what clearly appears to be falsified presidential election results and clashing with police who are trying to clear them out. … Just to clarify, the protests have been peaceful. People are holding up their cellphones and chanting “Long live Belarus!” The violence is coming from the police forces and in a few cases there have been clashes when police first attacked, according to local media and videos.”
      https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/status/1292564413560619008

      “BELARUS – Apparently a truck of the security forces drives through the mass of protesters.”
      https://twitter.com/Ozkok_A/status/1292575517657518080

      Internet availability has been problematic; some video feeds have been routed through different social media platforms.

    • Yogarhythms says:

      Rayne,
      Thank you for walking this labyrinth. Putting us your readers in your top pocket pointing out land marks and vortex’s along the way. Once we reach the center we will stop. After a time we will begin the journey together finding our way out of the labyrinth called 2020 US style. Mindful of the risks. Part of me wants to see prosecutions for fraud waste and abuse. Part of me wants to see criminal prosecutions for continuing use of healthcare workers in harms way without PPE. I’l settle for Blue electoral majority.

      • Rayne says:

        I don’t believe we should settle. We are watching a mass death event — negligent homicide at scale — and it should be treated seriously after Trump leaves office because we should never accept this again from another leader.

        We still owe our fellow Puerto Rican Americans the same serious investigation and prosecution for their deaths en masse in 2017. We owe so many other Americans for the failings of this administration which by deliberate removal of regulations intended to keep Americans safe they have encouraged financial losses, injury, and deaths. Again, this should never be accepted in the future and only sober analysis and follow through will deter more crimes against our nation.

        • BobCon says:

          One of the lessons of 2009-10 is that forgoing accountability doesn’t help maintain a blue majority, it weakens it.

          I don’t think it makes sense to pursue charges against every Bureau of Prisons grunt bused into DC to lob tear gas for a couple of days. But the House, state governments, and with any luck executive branch, Senate and courts will be involved in sorting out a range of actions from simple naming to administrative penalties, civil action and criminal cases.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Also McCarthyism, Watergate, Iran Contra and so many others (i.e. what are we doing in Niger?) where the “look forward, not backward and just let it heal” mentality left the perps like AG Barr and Elliot Abrams able to rise again to cause trouble. Accountability is a must, and everyone needs to remind their reps and the Biden campaign that we demand it now.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I think BobCon is correct. Refusing to impose consequences on politicians’ radical or criminal conduct encourages more of it next time they have the chance. It also depresses the vote. Why work harder for Democrats, if they refuse to use their majorities to institutionalize progressive values? If they let their opponents – who have rejected representative government – walk scot-free out of some lazy notion of professional courtesy? It’s not those Dems who pay the price, but Main Street Americans.

        • FL Resister says:

          Agree. The only way emerge from the morass of entrenched corruption and moral turpitude of the Trump administration and Republican “leadership” is vigilant accountability.
          Even if separate commissions and committees outside of Congress and the Department of Justice have to be set up to do it.
          The ongoing and exponential increase in the destruction of our public health and welfare, the dishonesty and bad faith in ethical governance, and the crushing absence of a qualified leadership in our major institutions require an array of major assessments of what went wrong, how this was accomplished, and serious plans to address restoration and repair.

  13. Eureka says:

    Thank you, Rayne. I saw your twitter earlier and it’s on fire and I like it.

    The $1200 (-per-most-adults) stimulus checks: I’m just going to say that out loud, because I know a lot of people — including family — that were/are counting on that second round of checks, now blown off and out of the discussion by Trump’s payroll tax scheme. Besides all the other reasons everyone, including the underemployed, potentially needs them to help make the bills (plus things like helping family, landlords floating unpaid rents, increased food costs, business owners trying to hang on, epiphenomenal ‘etc.’ of the pandemic), big ticket seasonal expenses like taxes and home heating oil contracts (!) are coming due in many places. Some will have to (have) shell(ed) out for better tech for their children’s schooling.

    In the pre-quash-of-talks scuttlebutt, the stimulus checks (and keeping the amount and terms the same as last time) were one of the only things the GOP and Dems had agreed upon.

    Where goes that cash assistance?

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      Cheryl and I got our 1st round $2,400 (we were actually surprised). Gave pretty much all of it away—Biden and various other viable campaigns, Lincoln Project, our Baltimore food bank, etc (incl the kids). We get any more we’ll do likewise.

      What a total CusterFluck we’re in.

  14. Rugger9 says:

    And Chuckles over at Meet the Press is still doing that schtick of his letting the WH flunkie lie like a rug and moving on. He’s a brainless political junkie who doesn’t understand his job is to be a journalist instead of a stenographer.

    Speaking of which, MoDo is joining Chuckles in the time-out zone, and one can only hope that Brooks will join these two as a trifecta just for the pleasure of reading Charlie Pierce take them apart. Too bad Pierce is behind a paywall.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Not a bad choice, but I’d go with Vince McMahon. Either way, you did capture the fact Chuckles wants a horse race for his own jollies better than I did.

      • FL Resister says:

        Chuck Todd is a metaphorical limp dick just when he needs it most. Why the heck do they keep putting him up there to waste our precious time and opportunity?
        Todd and Nadler are not the men for the moment.

  15. Anne says:

    OT but I just got back from Yellowstone, driving through Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Here’s what a couple hundred thousand of T’s voters are up to:
    https://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/
    We saw a lot of them on the road. Masks? Are you kidding? Try getting them to wear
    helmets first. According to local news outlets, even the residents of Sturgis SD (population
    a few thousand) were terrified that this event (not over yet as I write) was going to cause an outbreak.

    • BobCon says:

      One bit that struck me was an estimate that state and local officials estimated a $1.3 million bump in tax revenue from the Sturgis rally.

      That is basically a couple of bucks per South Dakotan. I realize the GOP Senate is squeezing state and local aid, but considering the rising health costs, there is no way this makes economic sense. The GOP has lost its ability to think at all in any rational systematic way.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It was so much of a problem that apparently even Harley Davidson didn’t set up a company booth. Hhhmmmmm…..

      Also OT, I see Berkeley grad Collin Morikawa won the PGA at Harding, with Stanford grad Tiger Woods stuck at 15 majors with a cranky putter on the wrong side of 45. Tiger only needs 3 majors to catch Nicklaus, but Morikawa is about the same age as when Tiger won his first major. If Morikawa keeps his wits about him (i.e. no Spieth slump) this will be like watching Hank Aaron’s homer chase. No asterisks, either. Go Bears!

      • madwand says:

        Speith got married, don’t look for him anytime soon, sort of like Pete Sampras. More fun on the women’s side, Ko collapsed with a five shot lead and Danielle Kang captured two in a row, the hottest golfer on the planet.

  16. Hapa says:

    We should all read and learn from what Trump did during his Atlantic City casinos bankruptcy. He may be using the same playbook. Even if he wins this coming election, he knows there’s a real risk that the Senate will flip for Democrats. So, he may be looking at impeachment again. With Democrats, it’s a war of attrition now … “If I can’t have it, you won’t have it either. And I’ll leave you with nothing but rubble.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/02/donald-trump-atlantic-city-casinos-taj-mahal-plaza-bankruptcy

    • Rayne says:

      Agreed — he’d salt the earth behind him, which may also indicate a guilty mind, leaving no clues to criminality while destroying anything of value.

      A cautionary note, though, when it comes to using the Taj Mahal casino as an example: stripping the value out of the casino may not have been vindictive destruction on departure, but a thorough and deep money laundry which pushed through a targeted amount of money and then wrapped up the operation when no longer needed.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Yup.
        I’ve wondered whether the casino was ever intended to function as legitimate business; there’s a case to be made that he played us all. We *assume* that the word ‘business’ implies a set of standards designed to produce revenue. This looks like it could very well have been a dummy business from the start, and the rest of us got snookered by our assumptions.

        Claiming it was a business was just camouflage. Probably at Roy Cohn’s recommendation.

        I’m not sure Trump experiences guilt; it appears that he just likes to gloat over fleecing the rest of us. For him, things have absolutely nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with dominance.

        Which means that he’s out of almost all options except for ‘salting the earth’: if he can’t control all the resources, he’ll burn the place down, salt the earth. He has to do everything in his power to ensure that those of us who are unworthy of his overlordship must never have enough (money, energy, legal authority, political clout) to come after him.

        Trumps’s a very strange kind of Smeagol, but a Smeagol he is. If he can’t have The Precious (Presidency, Nation), he’ll destroy it so no one else can possess it.

        • Tom says:

          I think of James Cagney as Cody Jarrett in the final scene of “White Heat” (1949) just before he blows himself up on top of a gas storage tank: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” Then, kablooey!

  17. Rugger9 says:

    Speaking of head fakes, and building on NY AG Letitia James’ announcement, the DC AG also had a filing about the NRA and its charitable foundation. It will be interesting to see how Faux News and OANN spin the story for the 2A rubes on what could be an existential threat to LaPierre and his minions as well as the NRA. We know the capacity is quite large (PTL, “Moral Majority”, etc.) but everyone has a limit.

    The DC filing is embedded here: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/nra-looted-its-foundation-to-cover-cash-hemorrhage-dc-ag-alleges

    • Rayne says:

      Speaking of wrapping up operations (a la Taj Mahal), I’ve wondered whether the burn rate at NRA and its foundation was intended as a sloppy wrap up. It did what it needed to do after Citizens United allowed dark money including Russian funds to buy a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican presidency.

      Now that the operation has been exposed as anything but a gun lobby representing gun owners, it needs to close up shop but it can’t simply say it’s no longer a going concern. It looks ironic that Oliver North may have been the trigger man but think about it: if anybody now knows how to shred evidence it’s North.

      • ducktree says:

        Thanks a lot, Rayne! I could have gone the rest of this decade *without* a Fawn Hall flashback! https:/ /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawn_Hall

        • Rayne says:

          The more things change, the more they stay the same. I mean, we’re dealing with Bill Barr again. How much of all of this is overlapping wrap up of generation-long operations?

        • ThoughtMail says:

          Encore une fois! All of this will be resolved by the time of the Fifth Republic. Obviously.

          Cake factories will never be enough. Also, obviously.

  18. BayStateLibrul says:

    No head faking or gullibility for Charlie Pierce, a diamond in the rough.

    In the preface to the 2019 Best American Sports Stories, he writes about his dear old grandmother.

    “My grandmother was a shepherd. She and her six sisters worked the flocks in the hills around Listowel in north Kerry. She left Ireland in 1901 and arrived in Massachusetts via Liverpool when she was 24 years old. She worked as a domestic and then married a policeman named Patrick Pierce. They had five children and four grandchildren, one of whom was me. She had no formal education; what she knew she learned from the hedge schoolmasters in her village, and from the shanachies, the itinerant Irish storytellers who worked for food and a bit of whiskey and who functioned as both entertainment and collective memory.”

    Pour me a whiskey, have some fun, and let’s torch Con’s Executive Order for the easily duped.

  19. Rugger9 says:

    OT: I’ve also been getting the internet postings and ads for the “executive” certificate and the DJTJ ads for the 100 patriot push. The DPRK does their “battles” for Party priorities and farming support in this very way.

    For the campaign to send me this stuff is … interesting… but perhaps a sign of how desperate they are for someone else’s cash after apparently DJT annoyed Sheldon Adelson last week in a phone call.

    • P J Evans says:

      I was on a couple of their sublists for a while, but unsubscribed. (I never subscribed in the first place.)

  20. Raven Eye says:

    Oh…And the E.O. gift that keeps on giving…

    Maybe this is a small matter in the big picture, but FEMA money always comes with its own, very special, audit process. Back in my emergency management days, a presidentially declared disaster lasted about 5 years — how long the books were open until FEMA finally closed out. Since the “$400” checks will be Individual Assistance (IA), the states, in addition to putting up 25% in cash, will also need to establish (or significantly increase) audit procedures to satisfy FEMA. And FEMA will need to bring on additional resources as well*. There has NEVER been an IA program that included so many people — not even close.

    *I’m sure Trump’s Crap Whispers have a plan to contract the capability, perhaps on a no-bid bases due to the “emergency” As they say in the consulting world, “If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made prolonging the problem”.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      Well said.
      That’s why if Biden is elected, he should order a complete audit of the executive branch. Those fuckers will destroy all evidence of malfeasance

  21. Rugger9 says:

    OT: Not only is the PRC not buying our produce in accordance with the “deal” DJT hammered out in the first trade war, but apparently the government has done tit-for-tat sanctions on our politicos on a Cold War response to our sanctioning theirs about Hong Kong. This of course means assets are frozen in their respective countries, so my question is what assets do Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have in China?

    • P J Evans says:

      And it was noticed that they didn’t do anything about the Trmp patents and other rights in “Jye-na”.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Also interesting is who wasn’t on the list: Ivanka, DJT (as noted by PJ) or Elaine Chao. That will be the sign that things are getting real in the trade spat.

      Until then, it’s kabuki to hide other things.

  22. jamnitzer says:

    from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
    Estimates that “In fiscal year 2019, federal payroll taxes generated $1.24 trillion”,
    https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/policy-basics-federal-payroll-taxes

    This includes Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance.

    So, spitballing this for 6 months
    $1,240,000,000,000.00 / 2 = $620,000,000,000.00 of uncollected revenue.

    Half that money comes from the employee and half from the employer. So using this estimate, that is $310 Billion for each.

  23. Pajaro says:

    Does Trump use Puerto Rico for rehearsals? First there was Hurricane Maria and the slow-rolled FEMA response which seemed purposely inept at distribution once it got there. Now primary voting has been halted in some places due to a shortage of ballots, creating an uproar in voters. Simple bad planning or tinkering with the mechanisms?
    The botched FEMA response seems analogous to today’s government COVID-19 response on the mainland. Do the voting problems forecast some model to use in the General Election?

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