1. A. Well, we like beer too, here at Indivisible DuPage. But not as much as that man’s man, Brett Kavanaugh. He pumps iron, plays football, ralphs heavy, and does all you can expect from a man who is most decidedly not a girly-man. He is, well, Trump’s kind of guy. Observe, for example, Judge Kavanaugh as he explains to all America how much he loves…beer! Click on this link, or on the thumbnail below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0SwwyqhJMs.
As Paul Krugman said, in his column on Monday, “The Angry White Male Caucus,” “When Matt Damon did his Brett Kavanaugh imitation on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ you could tell that he nailed it before he said a word. It was all about the face — that sneering, rage-filled scowl. Kavanaugh didn’t sound like a judge at his Senate hearing last week, let alone a potential Supreme Court justice; he didn’t even manage to look like one.” So, just for the sake of giving everyone a bit of comic relief, which we could all use, here is the SNL link (or click on the thumbnail below): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRJecfRxbr8
As time has gone by, it has become clearer and clearer that the Kavanaugh appointment and the Trump tribe’s defense is based more on threatened male privilege than the merits of the charges. Trump himself has been making that case fairly explicitly. On Tuesday, Trump said to a group of reporters that the real danger in these accusations is to men: “’It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,’ Trump said. ‘This is a very, very — this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.’” So reported CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/02/politics/trump-scary-time-for-young-men-metoo/index.html. The line coming from the Trumps and the Grahams is that the process is “unfair” and designed to attack men with false charges, in an attempt to appeal to the Democratic base.
Here is just one analysis of the “male rage” phenomenon, from The New York Times’s Frank Bruni on Sunday: “Christine Blasey Ford had swigged cola during her turn earlier that day. I half expected Kavanaugh to pop open a Bud Light. Or to wheel in a keg! Then there’d be plenty to go around, and he could tactlessly offer an ice-cold brewski to Senator Amy Klobuchar. His outrage, his strategy, his fate: All of it was about beer. Beer as a symbol of his normalcy. Beer as an emblem of his all-American maleness.
“He was painting himself as a martyr for that maleness, and he was using beer — along with weight lifting, football, flatulence jokes and what he mendaciously insisted were inoffensive yearbook high jinks — to do it. Beer was his brand, and he was proud of it…. If Democrats were going to turn this into a referendum on whether women were adequately heard, Republicans were going to turn it into a referendum on whether men were automatically hanged. If some of Kavanaugh’s opponents were going to damn him for the company he kept and the rituals he embraced, then he was going to seek salvation along those same lines. He made this about guilt by association with being a bro. About guilt by association with loving a beer….
“’If every American who drinks beer or every American who drank beer in high school is suddenly presumed guilty of sexual assault,’ he added, we’re all headed toward ‘an ugly, new place in this country.’ Never mind that every American who drinks beer isn’t being presumed guilty of sexual assault. [emphasis added] He was picking up on the typecasting that some of his most impassioned detractors had done — a bit of bigotry on their part, and a tactical error — and converting it into a weapon of his own.
Of course this defense of masculinity is playing well with Trump’s base (see #8 below), which, as many commentators have said, is part of the motivation for McConnell and Graham’s attack on the process itself, as a smear campaign of a decent man (and not an inquiry, however flaccid) into serious accusations and charges from old friends that the judge was not candid about his drinking in those days.
B. Here is Paul Krugman’s opinion, in that Times essay: “There have been many studies of the forces driving Trump support, and in particular the rage that is so pervasive a feature of the MAGA movement. What Thursday’s hearing drove home, however, was that white male rage isn’t restricted to blue-collar guys in diners. It’s also present among people who’ve done very well in life’s lottery, whom you would normally consider very much part of the elite. In other words, hatred can go along with high income, and all too often does.
“At this point there’s overwhelming evidence against the ‘economic anxiety’ hypothesis — the notion that people voted for Donald Trump because they had been hurt by globalization. In fact, people who were doing well financially were just as likely to support Trump as people who were doing badly.”
For Krugman, the economic anxiety behind Trumpism is less central than the threat to white male privilege, which is under siege in the new world that is coming. “And nothing makes a man accustomed to privilege angrier than the prospect of losing some of that privilege, especially if it comes with the suggestion that people like him are subject to the same rules as the rest of us.
C. But there are other views of what may be a chicken-and-egg dilemma—gender or economic anxiety. Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, whose work, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, we have discussed in these reports, argues that behind Trumpism and the rise of white supremacy is indeed economic stress on less-educated males. She is reviewing three new books on the problems facing men and boys today, in education and in employment, in the Oct. 11 issue of The New York Review of Books. In her analysis, she emphasizes the enormous stresses on men and young boys today, mostly but not solely the result of economic and technological changes. “In the last three decades, the lives of men have undergone what [David] Autor and coauthor Melanie Wasserman have called a ‘tectonic shift.’ Compared to women, a shrinking proportion of men are earning BAs, even though more jobs than ever require a college degree, including many entry-level positions that used to require only a high school diploma. Among men between twenty-five and thirty-four, 30 percent now have a BA or more, while 38 percent of women in that age range do.
“The cost of this disadvantage has only grown with time: of the new jobs created between the end of the recession and 2016, 73 percent went to candidates with a BA or more. A shrinking proportion of men are even counted as part of the labor force; between 1970 and 2010, the percentage of adult men in a job or looking for work dropped from 80 to 70 while that of adult women rose from 43 to 58. Most of the men slipping out lack BAs. We have yet to fully address these changes, and there’s no reason we can’t do so while also celebrating the successes of American girls and women.”
Hochschild agrees with Susan Faludi, who back in 1999 had argued: “Powerful social and economic shifts, the impact of which remains unacknowledged, have [as Faludi put it] ‘a lot more to do with [male] unhappiness…than the latest sexual harassment ruling.’…
“It’s surely better to solve the problem at its many roots,” [emphasis added] argues Hochschild, “with generous support for troubled families, school outreach programs, drug recovery centers, reduced mass incarceration, help with the skyrocketing costs of higher education, and enhanced understanding of the forces at play that Susan Faludi describes—all of which contribute to the male crisis itself.
“This has not been President Trump’s approach. During his campaign, he promised to restore jobs in coal mines, on assembly lines, on oil rigs, and in steel mills. To this he added bad-boy appeals to sex and violence, as when he urged his supporters in Cedar Rapids in 2016 to ‘knock the crap’ out of hecklers. Some interpreted this bravado as an unmistakable sign of insecurity; others saw it as a clear expression of male strength: one website for Trump supporters featured T-shirts with the slogan ‘Finally Someone with Balls!’ No equivalent shirts emerged for Bernie Sanders.” Her essay is unlocked and free to read: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/10/11/male-trouble/. *Highly recommended reading
D. Supporting Hochschild’s arguments, and carrying the debate into the pages of The Washington Post on Saturday, philosopher and law professor at the University of Chicago Martha Nussbaum says, “A wave is sweeping across our nation: a wave of fear-driven male rage. We see it not only in the hysterical outbursts from Republicans during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh (Kavanaugh himself, suddenly shrill, as well as committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham), but also more widely in the dark allegations of women ‘weaponizing the #MeToo movement,’ as if masculinity itself were under attack. We are even told that good parents should tremble for the future of their sons when women can make claims against them. And, indeed, men are trembling….
“American men do have genuine reasons for anxiety. The traditional jobs that many men have filled are disappearing, thanks to automation and outsourcing. The jobs that remain require, in most cases, higher education, which is increasingly difficult for non-affluent families to afford. We should indeed tremble for the future of both men and women in our country unless we address that problem, and related problems of declining health and well-being for working-class men. [emphasis added]
E. As for the political implications of this gender divide, Washington Post columnists Philip Rucker and Robert Costa wrote on Monday that “This outbreak of male resentment now seems likely to play a defining role in the midterm elections just five weeks away, contrasting with a burst of enthusiasm among women propelling Democratic campaigns and inspired by the national #MeToo reckoning over sexual assault and gender roles…. [Kavanaugh’s supporters] say the federal judge is being caught in a #MeToo riptide and unfairly grouped with serial predators — such as entertainer Bill Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by more than 60 women and was sentenced last week to three to 10 years in prison for drugging and assaulting one of them.” Indeed Lindsey Graham actually compared the way Kavanaugh is being treated to the way Bill Cosby was.
F. That the GOP strategy in pushing Kavanaugh through has important political value for them, see the opinion piece in the Sep. 29 New York Times that suggests, “By agreeing to delay Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination in the short term, President Trump and Senate Republicans are making two long-term bets: that a drawn-out confirmation battle will secure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and that the fight will give them a better chance of keeping control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
“With that Senate majority squarely in mind, Republicans are also making a concession to stark political realities. Party leaders have concluded that supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, in the face of sexual assault accusations against him, will all but ensure that Republicans lose control of the House in November even as their fortunes may improve in some tough Senate races.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/us/politics/kavanaugh-republicans-midterms.html
Now for something completely different!
Now a bit more comic relief (we do not minimize the seriousness of the issues, and no one who has been reading these pages can imagine that; but we have heard from a few readers who complain that our news is just too depressing). For all the men in our readership: just remember what Monty Python said about being a model of masculinity: pull on your flannel shirts and steel-toe boots…and be a lumberjack! (And maybe wear women’s clothes….) Sing along, everyone, with this famous ode to the pleasures of a broadly-understood masculinity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZa26_esLBE. Just click on the link or on the thumbnail…and sing with men everywhere.
We now return to our regularly scheduled programme.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that “[Democratic Sen. Joe] Manchin, for his part, sounds like he’s leaning ‘Yes,’ and it certainly is gettable for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the GOP leadership. [emphasis added] It’s clear Manchin doesn’t want to be the 50th vote for Kavanaugh, but it seems like he’d be OK with being the 51st or 52nd, barring any new developments.
“President Donald Trump has also personally discussed Kavanaugh’s confirmation with Manchin, according to Manchin’s aides, one of the president’s few forays into a Senate battle he’s mainly lobbedverbal grenades at from afar.” In Politico’s analysis, Manchin is waiting to see how the vote goes, and will probably vote “yes” if the outcome is going to be “yes” on the nominee anyway. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/04/manchin-kavanaugh-battle-867885 [On Friday afternoon, Manchin confirmed his “yes” vote–Ed.]
3. News sources have been full of reports of Kavanaugh’s many lies or misrepresentations. We think our readers will benefit from a full list of these, as known midweek. Bear with us as we shrink the font a bit, and reproduce the list from The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman on Oct. 1:
“I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation,” Kavanaugh said in his testimony. Ford described a small gathering of fewer than 10 teenagers at which beer was consumed. But his own calendars reference such gatherings.
“Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a long-time friend of hers. Refuted.” This is false. The people in question said they have no memory of the event, which is very, very different from refuting the idea that the event ever took place. Since nothing of note happened to them at the gathering, there’s little reason to think they would recall it all these years later.
Kavanaugh repeatedly characterized his drinking as regular but moderate, insisting that he has never been so drunk that he couldn’t remember what happened the next day. “Like most people in college I went to parties and had beers,” he said to Judiciary Committee staff. Yet multiple people have now described him as being frequently stumbling drunk in high school and college. “He frequently drank to excess,” one classmate said. “I know because I frequently drank to excess with him.” Another said, “I definitely saw him on multiple occasions stumbling drunk where he could not have rational control over his actions or clear recollection of them.”
“And yes, there were parties. And the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there,” he said in his interview with Fox News. In his testimony, he repeated the same idea: “My friends and I sometimes got together and had parties on weekends. The drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school, and was 18 in D.C. for all of my time in high school. I drank beer with my friends.” This is false. The drinking age in Maryland was raised to 21 in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17. There was not a single day during his entire time in high school when it was legal for him to drink.
In one of his friend Mark Judge’s books, a memoir of his time in high school, Judge uses pseudonyms for other people he describes. At one point he refers to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” throwing up in a car. Sen. Pat Leahy asked, “Is that you that he’s talking about?” to which Kavanaugh got indignant and accused Leahy of trying to “make fun of some guy who has an addiction,” meaning Judge. Pressed on whether “O’Kavanaugh” was him, Kavanaugh finally said, “You’d have to ask him.”
His yearbook refers to him as “Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor.” Beach Week is a yearly bacchanal of drinking, drugs, and sex that D.C.-area prep school kids engage in with little or no adult supervision, but Kavanaugh claims that all that was being memorialized was the fact that “I’m known to have a weak stomach and I always have … whether it’s with beer or with spicy food or anything.”
Kavanaugh claimed that a series of sexual references in his yearbook actually amounted to a vernacular unique to him, in which commonly understood slang terms took on meanings different from what every other person anyone can find understood them to mean. He said the “Devil’s Triangle,” which refers to a threesome with two men and one woman, was actually a drinking game similar to quarters, despite the fact that there is no reference anywhere on the Internet to such a drinking game, and claimed that “boofing” referred not to one of its two common meanings (anal sex or the practice of taking drugs as suppositories) but to flatulence. A reference to “FFFFFFFourth of July” was not a sexual one, but mocking a classmate who stuttered.
He claimed that multiple references to him and his friends being “Renate alumni,” referring to a young woman from a nearby school, were not sexual boasting and slut-shaming, but were merely included on their yearbook pages to show their affection and admiration for her. “That yearbook reference was clumsily intended to show affection, and that she was one of us,” he said. That must have been why one of his classmates, joining in the show of “affection,” included a poem: “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.” When Sen. Richard Blumenthal raised it, Kavanaugh affected deep umbrage, claiming he actually thinks “she’s a great person.” If there’s a single person in America who believes that yearbook reference was meant to show affection, they have yet to make themselves known.
“I got into Yale Law School. That’s the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.” This picture of Kavanaugh is absurd. He went to an elite prep school with other children of wealth and influence, he got into Yale as a legacy (his grandfather went there), and one suspects that being a Yale undergrad didn’t harm his chances of getting into Yale Law School.
“I grew up in a city plagued by gun violence and gang violence and drug violence,” he said in his first round of hearings. Kavanaugh grew up in Bethesda, Md., a wealthy suburb where there is almost no gun violence or gang violence. Though there is plenty of drug use, since the drugs are taken by wealthy white people, the police don’t get involved and there isn’t much violence around it.
When Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House on judicial confirmations, a Republican Senate staffer stole Democratic documents and shared what they contained with Kavanaugh, among others. In his hearings, Kavanaugh claimed “I never suspected anything untoward” in the information he was given, despite the fact that it contained references to confidential information about Democrats’ internal discussions and strategy that they had no legitimate access to.
He claimed to have no knowledge of the sexually explicit jokes, comments and emails by Alex Kozinski, a judge for whom he clerked and to whom he remained close afterward, and who was recently forced from the bench when his history became public. Another of Kozinski’s former clerkswrote, “I do not know how it would be possible to forget something as pervasive as Kozinski’s famously sexual sense of humor or his gag list, as Kavanaugh has professed to in his hearings.”
We offer this list so that readers can share accurate information with their friends. As for other reports, NBC News revealed that “In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, [emphasis added] according to text messages obtained by NBC News. Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.
And of course, there have also been many corroborating stories about Kavanaugh’s excessive drinking from his college classmates. And The New York Times broke the story that “As an undergraduate student at Yale, Brett M. Kavanaugh was involved in an altercation at a local bar during which he was accused of throwing ice on another patron, according to a police report.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/us/politics/kavanaugh-bar-fight.html
For the most interesting, comprehensive discussion of the bar fight, you can’t go wrong watching this comic take by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. As Noah says, “Do you know how bad a fight has to be for the police to get called on a white guy? At an Ivy League school in the ’80s!… That was like rich white male heyday.” Click here or on the thumbnail below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=284&v=CpYgDTimaKs
4. One common theory of Kavanaugh’s behavior on the night in question is that he was so drunk that he honestly does not remember an assault on Ford, that is, that he “blacked out.” This is distinct from “passing out,” in that the drunken person commits acts but fails to recall them when waking up. This phenomenon was the subject of a book by Sarah Hepola, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. She has written an essay that is important for all to read who wish to understand this possible explanation of how he could possibly have no memory of such an assault. Read “Kavanaugh and the Blackout Theory: It is both easy and common to drink, act and then have no memory of it,” in The New York Times on Sep. 29. She explains her own experience and says, “I want to be clear, up front, that I cannot know whether Judge Kavanaugh experienced a blackout. But what I do know is that blackouts are both common and tragically misunderstood. Before the prosecutor Rachel Mitchell was mysteriously dispatched, she was aiming toward the above line of inquiry.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/opinion/sunday/brett-kavanaugh-drinking-blackouts.html*Highly recommended reading
5. A. An important exposé by The New York Times appeared on Sunday detailing the surreptitious movement of immigrant children from foster homes and shelters all over the country to a tent city in the middle of the West Texas desert. The story is shocking to read: “Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City.” The paper reported, in an exclusive investigation, that “In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas. [emphasis added] Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.
“But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited. These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year…. Hundreds of children are being shipped from shelters to West Texas each week, totaling more than 1,600 so far.”
The justification for this barbarism is that the foster and shelter system is overwhelmed, and the children have to be moved out to accommodate newcomers. Children have been rounded up from shelters and homes with only minutes notice. The tents are said to be air- conditioned. But unlike the shelters, the tents are classed as “emergency shelters,” and are exempt from HHS guidelines requiring such amenities as schooling. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/30/us/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html
C. In an interesting column in The Guardian, Bill McKibben, environmentalist and founder of the activist organization 350.org, finds a connection between the Trump administration’s immigrant roundups and its environmental policy. His title is itself a wake-up call: “The Trump administration knows the planet is going to boil. It doesn’t care.” He writes, “In the cloud of toxic dust thrown up by the Kavanaugh hearings last week, two new Trump initiatives slipped by with less notice than they deserve. Both are ugly, stupid – and they are linked, though in ways not immediately apparent.
“In the first, the administration provided the rationale for scrapping President Obama’s automobile mileage standards: because Trump’s crew now officially expects the planet to warm by 4C . In the environmental impact statement they say it wouldn’t make much difference to the destruction of the planet if we all keep driving SUVs…. The news in that statement is that administration officials serenely contemplate that 4C rise (twice the last-ditch target set at the Paris climate talks). Were the world to actually warm that much, it would be a literal hell, unable to maintain civilizations as we have known them. [emphasis added] But that’s now our policy, and it apparently rules out any of the actions that might, in fact, limit that warming….
“Meanwhile, reporters also discovered that the administration has set up what can only be described as a concentration camp near the Mexican border for detained migrant children, spiriting them under cover of darkness from the foster homes and small shelters across the nation where they had been staying. Not an extermination camp – these aren’t Nazis – but a camp that literally concentrates this ‘problem’ in one place: a tent city in the middle of the desert. That camp is linked to climate change because, first, it’s in a desert. If you searched high and low across the North American continent, you could barely find a place hotter and drier than Tornillo, Texas, where in June the average high is 96F and where, as one climate data source succinctly puts it, ‘there is virtually no rainfall during the year.’” But the situation at the border is also linked to climate change because refugees fleeing Mexico and Central America are running not only from gang violence, but also from the effects of climate change that have wiped out or damaged crops. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/02/trump-administration-planet-boil-refugee-camps
6. In another blockbuster story, The New York Times on Wednesday evening published a report on Donald Trump’s questionable tax evasions. Their special investigation is titled, “Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes
as He Reaped Riches From His Father.” They found that “President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
“Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help. But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.” [emphasis added]
The Times discovered that Trump’s parents, Fred and Mary, transferred over $1 bln in wealth to their children, paying only minimal taxes. The paper found that “Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. [emphasis added] He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.” This is long-form muckraking journalism, and we cannot summarize it fully. We urge readers to click through, here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html. *Highly recommended reading
7. A. Trump is extolling his new “Nafta” agreement, which he calls “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or U.S.M.C.A.” It makes many changes to Nafta, but in the end, it may have little effect on our economy. TheNew York Times summarized on Monday, “Text of the pact, released late Sunday, includes major adjustments in several key areas of the countries’ trading relationships. The agreement sets new rules for automobile production, meant to incentivize production of cars and trucks in countries that pay higher wages. It reduces barriers for American dairy farmers to sell cheese, milk and other products to Canada. It retains a tribunal for resolving trade disputes that the United States had sought to eliminate.
B. As for Canadians, they are generally happy with the deal, which gives them much of what they wanted, and though there will be more dairy exported to them (a major sticking point), this is not much more than they had already agreed to under the TPP, which Trump had torn up. The Toronto Star reported, “Canadian sources said the deal would include significant protection for Canada against the auto tariffs Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose. A Canadian official said the first 2.6 million Canadian car exports to the U.S., significantly higher than the current 1.8 million, would be shielded from tariffs. Trump could hypothetically impose tariffs on cars above that number, but the threshold is so high that the Canadian official said Canada had been effectively exempted….
“Both sides said Trudeau made a concession on dairy, giving U.S. farmers more access to the protected Canadian market than the 3.25 per cent Canada granted its partners in the earlier Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. A Canadian official said the U.S. would be given 3.6 per cent. The Trump official said Canada had also agreed to eliminate its ‘Class 7’ pricing system for certain milk ingredients, an irritant to farmers in Wisconsin and New York.” https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/09/30/canada-us-reach-nafta-deal.html
D. Toronto’s Globe and Mail was skeptical that the deal will really change much of substance in North American trade. “The overriding emotion provoked by the news that Canada and the United States have reached a tentative deal on a renegotiated North American free-trade agreement should be one of relief. Our negotiators, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, have restored a modicum of certainty to Canada’s trade-dependent economy. What should not be forgotten in this moment of calm, however, is that the storm was the invention of one man. Canada has concluded an unnecessary and absurdly belligerent negotiation that was provoked by Donald Trump and impelled by a collection of outright lies about NAFTA that the U.S. President repeated ad nauseum.
“No, NAFTA was not the cause of the decline of American manufacturing. No, the United States does not run a trade deficit with Canada. No, America wasn’t poorer for the deal, and no it wasn’t the worst trade agreement in history.
F. And of course the deal will have to be ratified by Congress. As Politico reports, “Democrats and their backers in labor unions and environment groups will be looking for a deal they feel can be adequately enforced in terms of upholding worker rights and environmental protections.” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/30/nafta-trade-canada-819081
8. Trump will use this Nafta victory to play to his base, saying he fulfilled a campaign promise and has protected American workers. But overall, says one commentator in The Washington Post, “Don’t be fooled: Working Americans are worse off under Trump.” The analysis comes from Robert J. Shapiro, the chairman of the advisory firm Sonecon and a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He was President Bill Clinton’s undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs. “Despite robust economic numbers during the Trump presidency, the American public has seemed curiously unmoved by such good news as the lowest U.S. unemployment level in nearly half a century. Its enthusiasm might have been dampened by this underappreciated economic reality: The typical working American’s earnings, when properly measured, have declined during the Trump administration….”
Shapiro points out that BLS statistics showing rising wages are misleading. “They focus not on how much an average working person earns but on the ‘average earnings’ of all employed people. In times of rising inequality, employees at the top pull up ‘average’ earnings. Shift to the bureau’s earnings data for an average or ‘median’ working person, and most of those claimed gains disappear. Another catch: The data used by the White House doesn’t account for inflation. Adjust the median earnings data for inflation, and the illusion of progress evaporates.”
9. It is difficult to watch. So a warning: this is the video of a president of the United States mocking a woman who came forward, at great risk to herself, to accuse a powerful man of sexual assault. A woman whose testimony that president himself had said was “very credible.” He is also seen working up the crowd into a frenzy of communal mockery. We provide the video link for those who may not have seen it; it is perhaps important, for judging the event, to see how the crowd reacted and the tone of the remarks. (Of note here: For those who can be dispassionate in analyzing the political rhetoric, in the full clip Trump evokes men’s fears that women will accuse men of anything, particularly powerful ones, on little evidence. This is the context: Trump has always assumed the accused are innocent; he is stoking the fear that the women’s movement is meant to destroy men by any means, fair or foul. This is effective demagoguery; and we believe a full viewing of the whole clip, beyond the mockery being replayed in the media, will be instructive. It will also be disturbing to many. –Ed.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=809yRtq1cp8
10. Good news for the Underwood and Casten campaigns. The Chicago Tribunereported on Thursday that “TheHouse Majority PAC aligned with U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is pouring more money into the suburbs’ two pivotal Congressional campaigns in an effort to flip two Republican-controlled districts. [emphasis added] The group on Wednesday announced it’s spending $887,000 for a 30-second campaign spot targeting Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren in the far west suburban 14th Congressional District, giving a boost to Democrat Lauren Underwood. The buy represents the first big spending by outside Democrats in the district, suggesting they might try to make a push for the seat in the last month before the November election.
“And the same group is spending about $1.9 million for a new commercial targeting U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam in the neighboring 6th District, where Democrat Sean Casten is challenging the incumbent in an expensive duel drawing significant national attention.
11. Sean Casten has released a new 30-second ad attacking Peter Roskam on health care, particularly Roskam’s support of a Trump plan that would kick 30,000 people off health insurance in the district. Click on the link or the thumbnail below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNONx0b3JGo