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[Markets] "Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Of The Gun Lobby": Newsom Attacks Federal Judge Who Ruled In Favor Of Gun Rights "Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Of The Gun Lobby": Newsom Attacks Federal Judge Who Ruled In Favor Of Gun Rights

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Remember when networks and legal experts (correctly) denounced President Donald Trump for his attacks on judges who ruled against him?

Two years ago, I ran a column noting that Democrats were adopting the same attacks on conservative judges but the media was entirely silent.

Now,  California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats are lambasting a federal judge who ruled in favor of gun rights in a recent decision — accusing him of being in the pocket of the NRA and a danger to the country.  The response to Newsom’s attack from all of those same media and legal experts has ranged from outright support to conspicuous silence.

We recently wrote about the decision of U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez to strike down the ban on “assault weapons.”  In Miller v. Bonta, Benitez found that the ban on weapons like the AR-15 are based on both a misunderstanding of the weapons and a misinterpretation of the Constitution.  I previously discussed many of the same issues surrounding the AR-15 which remains one of the most popular weapons in the United States

The recent decision led to a barrage of personal attacks from Newsom, state Attorney General Rob Bonta and legal experts.  Newsom called Benitez a “stone-cold ideologue” who writes “press releases on behalf of the gun lobby.”  He warned that everyone needs to “call this federal judge out” because “he will continue to do damage.”

Benitez has indeed ruled for gun owners in the past.  However, he was upheld in that decision (which is still on appeal). In 2017, he struck down the state’s nearly two-decade-old ban on the sales and purchases of magazines holding more than 10 bullets. As recently discussed, the Ninth Circuit upheld his decision, which is now scheduled to be reheard by an 11-member panel. These cases have a very strong chance for review before the Supreme Court given the division across the country and the 6-3 conservative majority on the Court.

One can have good-faith reasons to disagree with both decisions.  Indeed, I am all in favor of passionate and pointed analysis of judicial rulings. Moreover, there are occasions where a judge’s personal bias is an issue.  Despite previously praising Judge Emmet Sullivan, I wrote columns that later criticized him for what appeared bias in his handling of the Flynn case. This is not such a case. Newsom is attacking this judge because he ruled in favor of gun rights arguments that are supported by many judges, lawyers, and citizens. These arguments have never been rejected by the Supreme Court. Indeed, he was relying on strong case law in favor of the Second Amendment claims raised by the litigants.

It is the strikingly different response to the attacks on the judge that caught my attention. As discussed in the earlier column, legal experts expressed outrage over attacks by Trump of judges as “Obama judges” or “political judges” during his term. There was however no push back on Democratic members denouncing “Trump judges” and “Trump Justices.”  Esquire magazine published a column denouncing judges who ruled against ObamaCare, declaring that the Republican arguments “don’t need to make sense. They just need the right judges — and they’re everywhere in the federal judicial system.” One Nation article explained how Trump jurists “swarming our judicial system . . . will linger, like an infected wound poisoning the body politic.” CNN ran headlines about “Republican-appointed judges” supporting the ObamaCare challenge, while Democratic members of Congress denounced federal judges ruling for the Trump administration as examples of why new judges must be appointed by Democrats.

Benitez ruled on arguments that have long been discussed by many of us as raising serious questions over the constitutionality of these laws. Again, one can disagree with the arguments but they are not fringe or fanciful positions. Indeed, Newsom’s demand for an appeal may be great news for the gun rights groups. Liberal states and cities have repeatedly pushed appeals that resulted in magnifying their losses. The District of Columbia is a great example of such poor choices in triggering the decisions in Heller. Later the Supreme Court expanded on its pro-gun rights case law in  McDonald v. City of Chicago. The Supreme Court just took up a new major gun rights case out of New York.

Benitez and his family fled communist Cuba and remains a powerful American success story.  He was able to get through law school as a first generation American. Benitez was confirmed 98-1 and had the strong support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats. (Only Sen. Dick Durban voted against him). Feinstein rejected the negative review of the ABA based on his “temperament” and noted that her own inquiries found that lawyers “say he is a man of the highest ethical standard, that he has superb demeanor, intelligence, pragmatism, and fairness. And the chief public defender notes that he has good judicial temperament and is courteous to his employees and the attorneys who appear before him.”

Newsom’s attack omits that Benitez was upheld by other judges in his earlier decision. That does not mean that the opinion is manifestly right (Indeed, it is being appealed). However, the opinion advanced well-established arguments and authority in reaching its conclusion. A majority on the Supreme Court would likely agree with much of the opinion. It is not about him. It is about the law.  That is why I criticized Trump for his attacks on judges and why we should be equally critical of Newsom and Democratic leaders doing the same thing now.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 19:00
Published:6/11/2021 6:17:52 PM
[World] [Josh Blackman] Update on Predicting SCOTUS Assignments for the November Sitting Justice Kagan wrote Borden. The Chief likely has the Obamacare case, and Justice Alito likely has Fulton. Published:6/10/2021 9:38:47 AM
[Markets] Supreme Court decision on legality of ‘Obamacare’ could be a day away Supreme Court decision on legality of ‘Obamacare’ could be a day away Published:6/9/2021 10:33:06 AM
[World] [Josh Blackman] Predicting SCOTUS Assignments for the November Sitting Who will write Fulton and the Obamacare case? Published:6/6/2021 4:12:52 PM
[Politics] “The real issue is not how did COVID happen, but how we protect ourselves from the next pandemic” – The man who brought you Obamacare The man who brought you Obamacare and now serves as Biden’s COVID adviser actually said that figuring out how COVID happened isn’t all that important. No, he says the real issue is . . . Published:5/27/2021 8:32:12 PM
[Politics] “The real issue is not how did COVID happen, but how we protect ourselves from the next pandemic” – The man who brought you Obamacare The man who brought you Obamacare and now serves as Biden’s COVID adviser actually said that figuring out how COVID happened isn’t all that important. No, he says the real issue is . . . Published:5/27/2021 8:32:12 PM
[Markets] Biden's Jobs Plan: How Some Jobs Destroy Wealth Biden's Jobs Plan: How Some Jobs Destroy Wealth

Authored by Gary Galles via The Mises Institute,

It seems that every time something adverse happens in the labor market, it restarts the partisan battle between those currently in and out of power as to who is a better steward of the economy.

That was illustrated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics's (BLS) release of the job numbers for April, which made headlines when job growth, which was expected to surge, came in “unexpectedly” low. The 266,000 jobs created were only a quarter of some forecasts, which topped 1 million. Further, March job creation was also revised down by 146,000. And unemployment ticked up for the first time since the lockdown, despite a reportedly massive shortage of workers, as illustrated by the 7.4 million unfilled job openings reported for February.

The Biden administration, put on its heels by the poor results and the finger-pointing at its policies that followed (particularly the $300 weekly unemployment bonus), insisted the economy is improving, and tried to claim credit for it (even though the economy was recovering far faster than anticipated before he took office) but that the magnitude of the problems faced means that still more government aid is necessary, almost as if they are trying to introduce quadrillion as a measure in common use when talking about deficits and debt, rather than trillion.

This battle, like many before, include skirmishes about a multitude of measurement issues—whether employment or unemployment measures are more accurate, which unemployment measure is the best, reasons for changes in labor force participation, part-time versus full-time jobs, discouraged workers, how many officially unemployed workers are really gaming the system, seasonal adjustments, and more. Other discussions include whether government programs create jobs or just move them, given that the resources must come from elsewhere, whether that transfer produces increased or decreased value, etc.

However, the discussion generally overlooks a further factor. Many of the jobs created directly or indirectly by government policies impose costs on society rather than producing benefits. Such job creation worsens rather than improves Americans’ well-being.

The most obvious illustrations come from the vast (and getting vaster) crazy-quilt of federal executive agencies, mandates, regulations, czars, etc. Peaceful wealth creation arises from voluntary agreements among people, but the primary activity of the regulatory state is often to interfere with mutually productive jobs, undermining social coordination and destroying wealth. Imposing added constraints on voluntary productive arrangements does create some jobs, but that acts as a massive regulatory tax on jobs that benefit other people.

Professors Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren have studied federal regulatory agencies that explicitly restrict private sector transactions. They found 277,000 such regulators in 2015 (substantially larger than General Motors’ worldwide workforce) and an eighteenfold increase in those agencies’ inflation-adjusted budgets since 1960, to over $57 billion (in 2009 dollars).

Government’s forcible interventions also create private sector jobs to comply with its expanding range of dictation. For example, many human resources and healthcare industry jobs were created to comply with Obamacare. But for ill-advised programs and restrictions, those jobs entail costs rather than benefits for society.

Government’s increasing redistributive power over every wallet also means more lobbyists are hired to help special interests benefit at others’ expense. That, in turn, pushes others to hire more lobbyists to minimize the extent of robbery they will be forced to bear. The expanded fight to control federal government theft creates influence industry jobs, which have dramatically stimulated the economy in Washington, DC, but which produces a negative-sum game that destroys wealth for people everywhere else.

Similarly, when laws or rules of questionable constitutionality or legality are promulgated, it increases the number of lawyers and legal resources government employs. It also increases the number employed by those who would be abused. Such opposition can be one of the most valuable investments for Americans in stopping such inroads on people’s rights, but even fighting them to a standstill leaves Americans no better off than if those overstepping initiatives had not been advanced in the first place.

While the battle over President Biden’s job creation underachievement continues, we should remember that in one area, he clearly aims to overachieve—creating jobs in government (as well as because of government) that harm Americans’ ability to mutually benefit one another. Such job creation may boost the employment numbers Biden desires, but they block rather than boost our well-being.

Tyler Durden Tue, 05/25/2021 - 14:21
Published:5/25/2021 1:41:31 PM
[Markets] 'Sickcare' Is The Knife In The Heart Of Employment... And The Economy 'Sickcare' Is The Knife In The Heart Of Employment... And The Economy

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

We need to change the incentives of the entire system, not just healthcare, but if we don't start with healthcare, that financial cancer will drag us into national insolvency all by itself.

American Healthcare is a growth industry in the same way cancer is a growth industry: both keep growing until they kill the host, which in the case of healthcare is the U.S. economy.

While a great many individuals in the system care about improving the health of their patients, the healthcare system itself only cares about one thing: maximizing profits by any means available, including sending many patients to an early grave via medications which corporations declared "safe" and rigged the political-regulatory-research systems to comply.

I call this maximizing profits by any means available system sickcare, for obvious reasons: this system profits by managing sickness, i.e. chronic diseases, rather than addressing the causes, which in most chronic disorders trace back to lifestyle: SAD (standard American diet), poor fitness and a generally unhealthy lifestyle of convenience (i.e. sedentary), heavy work/financial stress and addictions to meds, drugs, social media, etc.

Sickcare's single-minded profiteering would be bad enough if we could afford its spiraling ever higher cost, but we cannot: as I noted way back in 2011, Sickcare Will Bankrupt the Nation all by itself. three years ago I noted that U.S. Healthcare Isn't Broken--It's Fixed (5/26/18), as generic meds that cost $22.60 for a month's supply are pushed by Big Pharma as branded meds for $1,120 per month. Such a deal!

I've been discussing employment recently, and one of my patrons pointed out the enormously negative impact sickcare costs have on employment. I covered the incredibly negative impact of soaring sickcare insurance costs on small business back in 2011: Here's Why Small Business Isn't Hiring, and Won't be Hiring (7/11/11), but the same soaring-costs dynamic makes Corporate America reluctant to hire anyone in America, too.

You'd have to be insane to pick America as your global base, given the grossly asymmetrical cost of healthcare in the U.S. compared to our developed-world competitors in Europe and East Asia (Japan and South Korea). Sadly, the treatment for your insanity will be so costly in America that your psychiatric problems will soon be exacerbated by financial ruin.

Those with heavily subsidized healthcare insurance may not realize that insurance for a family can cost more than a wage earner's entire monthly net income. This generates a perverse incentive (from the perspective of a healthy economy, as opposed to a corrupt, rigged economy run for the exclusive benefit of profiteers, fraudsters, speculators and political fixers) for one spouse to quit their jobs or cut their hours to reduce the household income to the point that federal subsidies (ObamaCare) kick in and pay much or most of the insanely overpriced sickcare insurance tab.

The subsidies are of course ultimately paid by the taxpayers; sickcare profiteers thank you.

Needless to say, employers facing monthly healthcare insurance costs of $1,500 for an employee earning $2,500 will be looking for automation or overseas alternatives. How can the employer afford to keep paying healthcare insurance costs that spiral far above the Consumer Price Index (CPI)? Ultimately these higher costs come out of the employee's paycheck, as employers could have given raises but instead had to fork over all the dough to the sickcare profiteers.

One driver of wages' ever-declining share of the national income is trillions of dollars have been siphoned off by sickcare. As the comparison chart below shows, the U.S. pays roughly $5,000 more per capita (per person) per year for healthcare than other equally developed nations: the U.S. pays $10,966 per person per year and the average paid by other developed nations pay roughly half: $5,697 per person per year.

330 million Americans X $5,000 is $1.65 trillion a year. No wonder wages have gone nowhere for decades and corporations couldn't wait to offshore jobs in America. (Not that the Corporate America needed much more of an incentive to offshore U.S. jobs, but let's recognize that sickcare costs put American companies at a huge global disadvantage.)

Please examine the chart below of healthcare expenses per capita (per person) in the U.S. from 2000 to 2018 (the last year available on the St. Louis Federal Reserve database). I've marked up the chart to indicate where healthcare costs per capita would be if healthcare had tracked the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the past two decades.

Strikingly, the cost had U.S. healthcare risen by the same percentage as everything else--$5,852 per capita per year--is very close to the average costs in comparable developed nations: $5,697 per capita per year. Instead, U.S. healthcare costs per person were $9,000 per year as of 2018.

The third chart shows that the results of this asymmetric expenditure on health hasn't done much in terms of life expectancy or other broad measures of national health and well-being. America is Number One in costs but far down the list of life expectancy and other measures of well-being.

The human and financial costs of this sick system are pervasive. Those trying to provide care within the sickcare system's perverse incentives are burning out (see last chart), and businesses are crushed by ever-higher costs for everything related to healthcare. The "solution" for employers is to push more of the insane cost increases onto employees, who are already staggering under the weight of stagnant wages and skyrocketing inflation in sectors other than healthcare.

Small business entrepreneurs end up not hiring any workers because they can't afford to provide the mandated healthcare. Having to do all the work needed to keep the business afloat burns out the owners and they close the business, to the detriment of their community and the local government, which loses the tax revenues generated by the enterprise.

Here's a real-world example of how healthcare has become unaffordable for employers: in the mid-1980s I could buy comprehensive healthcare insurance for my single employees (mostly young) for 6 hours' pay for the average employee and 4 hours of my pay. (My partner and I paid all the healthcare insurance costs, the employees paid zero, I'm just using the hours and pay as a means of measuring the cost of healthcare in terms of the purchasing power of wages.)

Can an employer buy equivalent comprehensive healthcare insurance today for 6 hours' of the employees' pay? No, not even close. (Note that I'm talking about real insurance, not bogus simulacra of insurance, i.e. catastrophic coverage.)

Sickcare is a win for the sickcare profiteers and a loss for employers, employees, communities, government and the nation. Like cancer, sickcare will keep growing until it kills the host. We're getting close.

Sickcare is the knife in the heart of employment. Sickcare puts the nation at a tremendous competitive disadvantage, crushes small businesses and generates perverse incentives to automate and offshore jobs just to get out from underneath the dead weight of ever-higher sickcare costs.

We need a whole new approach to healthcare that includes every aspect of American culture, society, education, economics and governance. We need to ditch SAD (standard American diet) and our unhealthy lifestyle, and incentivize improving health from the ground up rather than generating chronic lifestyle diseases such as metabolic disorders and then managing these disorders as a means of maximizing profits. The national goal should not be profiting from an over-medicated populace, it should be eliminating the need for medications. (A healthy person has no need for handfuls of medications.) Rather than profit from 74% of the populace being overweight and 40% being obese, the national goal should be to eliminate lifestyle diseases entirely by changing behaviors and incentives, not costly procedures and medications. That would free healthcare to serve those suffering from non-lifestyle diseases.

As Charlie Munger famously noted, "Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome." That's how humans operate: we respond to the incentives presented, even if they diminish the health of the populace and bankrupt the nation. We need to change the incentives of the entire system, not just healthcare, but if we don't start with healthcare, that financial cancer will drag us into national insolvency all by itself.

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Tyler Durden Tue, 05/18/2021 - 20:45
Published:5/18/2021 7:51:43 PM
[Markets] Exposed: The Myth Of "Efficient Markets" Exposed: The Myth Of "Efficient Markets"

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

What took Wall Street so long to figure out something I’ve been saying for months?

Six months ago, even before the presidential election in November, I began warning my readers that Joe Biden was going to double the capital gains tax.

It wasn’t a difficult prediction. Biden said so himself in his campaign website as one of a long list of policy proposals.

Of course, the mainstream media didn’t report this because they were all-in for Biden and were determined to beat Donald Trump (remember how they covered up the Hunter Biden laptop report?).

The media were careful to cover-up any Biden policies that might prove unpopular with voters. Still, Democratic Party progressives knew about the plan and were all for it.

One Simple Rule

My rule for making policy forecasts is simple. If a politician tells you he’s going to do something, believe him.

Policies don’t drop out of the sky. They’re the result of intense internal debate and compromise by competing factions. Once a policy makes it to a candidate’s website, you can bet they will try to deliver.

This doesn’t mean that every proposal becomes law because there can be opposition in Congress and the courts. However, it does mean the politician will work to achieve his stated goals.

With the White House and both houses of Congress in the Democrat’s hands, the odds of this doubling of the capital gains tax becoming law look very good.

Despite my forecasts (which fortunately left my readers well-prepared), Wall Street didn’t seem to pay attention until last Thursday, when the Dow Jones index plunged 210 points in a matter of hours after the Biden tax plan was formally announced.

That’s a good example of how so-called “efficient markets” are not efficient at all.

Not so Efficient After All

Mainstream economists have insisted for decades that markets are highly efficient, and they do a nearly perfect job of digesting available information and correctly pricing assets today to take account of future events based on that information.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Markets do offer valuable information to analysts, but they are far from efficient.

Markets can be rational or irrational. Markets can be volatile, irrationally exuberant, or in a complete state of panic depending upon the emotions of investors, herd behavior, and the specific array of preferences when a new shock emerges.

If markets were so efficient, why was Wall Street surprised when it was obvious to anyone paying attention that Biden was going to raise the capital gains tax?

The capital gains tax increase information had been there for all to see for six months, but it took a press release to get Wall Street to sit up and take notice.

It should have been priced in long before, and the announcement just would have confirmed market expectations.

So the next time you hear about efficient markets, take it with a large grain of salt.

But my forecast from six months ago was wrong in one respect.

Even Worse Than I Thought

I said the tax rate on capital gains would almost double from 20% to 39.6%. It turns out the rate will actually be 43.4% once a 3.8% investment income surtax is added on top. That surtax is a holdover from Obamacare.

If one were to add state and local income taxes, the combined rate on capital gains could exceed 50%, depending on the jurisdiction.

Of course, capital gains taxes are imposed on investments you make from after-tax dollars, so even the initial investment has already been taxed. And the corporations whose stock you buy pay corporate income tax too.

When those burdens are included, you’re lucky to get even 25% of your gains back net of taxes. This will be a headwind to stock markets for the foreseeable future.

The big question is, is the stock market in a bubble?

A $100 Million Deli?

When I first saw a recent story about a deli in New Jersey that was worth $100 million, I couldn’t believe it.

I assumed the deli must have a big-ticket franchising deal with McDonald’s or Subway to expand to 1,000 locations under the original name brand. That type of deal might justify a sky-high valuation for a one-store operation.

But, no, there was no franchise deal or other licensing deal that might explain the price. It’s just a deli with about $35,000 in annual sales.

As one analyst said, “The pastrami must be amazing.” Does anyone in their right mind think a deli with $35,000 in annual sales could be worth $100 million?

Well, it turns out that the owner of the deli created a company called Hometown International, and its shares trade over-the-counter. Recently, investors have bid up the stock price from $9.25 per share to $14.00 per share, giving the deli company a market capitalization of $113 million.

Hoping For a Greater Fool

But this story is not really about delis or pastrami. It’s about market bubbles and ridiculous valuations that can result when retail investors bid up stocks in the hope that a greater fool will pay them even more when they cash out.

In these situations, the market capitalization becomes completely detached from fundamental value, projected earnings or any other tool used in securities analysis.

It’s just a bubble with inevitable losses for the last buyers. But does that mean you should sell all your stocks now because the bubble will pop any day now?

No, not really. Bubbles can last longer than many believe because there is a continual flood of new buyers who hope that they won’t be the last ones to run for the exits.

The bigger issue is whether this kind of bubble in one stock indicates a broader market indices trend.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite are all at or near all-time highs.

But this does not automatically mean the stock market indices are in bubble territory, although, many objective metrics, including the ratio of market cap to GDP and the Shiller CAPE price-earnings ratio, indicate that is the case.

No One Rings a Bell at the Top

Saying that markets are overvalued is not the same as saying they’re ready to crash.

It will take some external shock such as higher interest rates, a geopolitical crisis, or an unexpected bankruptcy of a major company to bring markets back to earth.

We know that such events do occur with some frequency. But, it’s probably not a good idea to short the market, because it could go even higher. That’s the way bubbles work. No one rings a bell at the top. There’s no precise formula to tell you the day they’ll pop.

So, I’m not suggesting that you sell everything and head for the hills. Having said that, it’s a good idea to reduce your exposure to stocks, diversify with cash and gold and just bide your time.

When the crash comes, you’ll be greatly outperforming those who are all-in with stocks – including delis.

Then we’ll see how efficient markets really are.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/30/2021 - 08:02
Published:4/30/2021 7:12:17 AM
[Markets] Biden's First 100 Days: A Radical Transformation Of America Biden's First 100 Days: A Radical Transformation Of America

Authored by Ivan Pentchoukov via The Epoch Times,

President Donald Trump and conservative pundits warned for months during the 2020 campaign that behind then-candidate Joe Biden’s centrist, bipartisan façade lay a radical liberal agenda to transform the United States. Biden has proven them right in less than 100 days, earning praise from liberal observers who are drawing historical comparisons to the tenure of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, written along the outline of Biden’s proposal, dwarfs FDR’s New Deal in terms of total cost to the American taxpayer. Democrats rammed the measure through Congress without any Republican support, proving Biden was the partisan that critics had warned about.

The Democratic president’s proposed infrastructure measures—the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan—would bring the total price tag to an estimated $5.4 trillion, while ushering in a wave of welfare programs unseen since the introduction of Medicare and food stamps. The cost splits up to more than $43,000 per household and more than the combined wealth of all the billionaires in America. Democrats could enact both plans without any Republican support, by using, for the first time ever, the reconciliation process more than once in a budget year.

The fiscal scale and radical nature of the agenda, coupled with the razor-thin House and Senate majorities the Democrats are using to implement it, are exerting pressure on an American system of governance that has historically demanded a measure of bipartisanship in order to enact transformative change.

“A Senate evenly split between both parties and a bare Democratic House majority are hardly a mandate to ‘go it alone,’” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a Trump critic and one of the few Republicans seeking a bipartisan solution on infrastructure, wrote on Twitter.

Democrats argue that pushing the pandemic stimulus through without Republican support was necessary to help Americans struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic. They say that some provisions of the bill, including the expansion of Obamacare, were long overdue. Democrats predict that the child tax credit, which will amount to a monthly cash payment for most families beginning in July, could cut child poverty in half.

“The story of the first 100 days is about shots going into arms, checks going into pockets, and seeing hope on the horizon,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter on April 27.

While testing the system’s limits, Biden has thrown the weight of the presidency behind the radical transformation of the system itself. He backed the long-shot bid for D.C. statehood, which would hand the Democrats two seats in the Senate in the foreseeable future, expressed support for weakening or undoing the legislative filibuster, ordered a commission to study reforms to the Supreme Court around the time fellow Democrats introduced legislation to pack the bench, and said he would sign H.R. 1, a vast election reform bill that would, among other provisions, make mail voting universal in perpetuity.

“Mr. Biden knows his agenda is so radical, so extreme, that he cannot hope to pass it and keep it intact without first fundamentally changing the rules of the political game,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, wrote in a recent op-ed.

“Consequently, he’s moving on all fronts to do just that.”

To the Democrats, the wave of change is just what the doctor ordered. Former President Bill Clinton called Biden’s performance so far “almost pitch-perfect” in word and deed.

“If we can produce positive results that cross those divides by lifting everybody, giving everybody a chance, then we have a chance to psychologically change,” Clinton told Deadline.

‘I Want to Change the Paradigm’

While ushering along a wave of social change via legislation, Biden has churned out a steady stream of paradigm-shifting executive orders and actions on matters ranging from critical race theory training for federal employees to rejoining the World Health Organization.

Some of the common themes among the five dozen executive actions during the president’s first 100 days in office were the reversals and revocations of Trump-era orders and the introduction of the quasi-Marxist “equity” ideology into virtually every aspect of government operations.

“Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” the title of Biden’s very first order, set the tone for the many that followed.

“I want to change the paradigm. We start to reward work, not just wealth. I want to change the paradigm,” Biden said during his first press conference.

What a president says is sometimes as consequential as what a president does. During Biden’s symbolic 100 days, this was exemplified by his comments on the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Biden spoke in favor of convicting Chauvin before the jury rendered its verdict and—after the jury decision was announced—indicted America itself as guilty of “systemic racism.”

Highs and Lows

Though his cabinet wouldn’t admit it, Biden inherited a successful vaccine development and distribution program from Trump. This meant that Biden’s campaign promise of injecting 100 million Americans with the vaccine against the CCP virus in his first 100 days was on track to being fulfilled even before he took office on Jan. 20. After eluding questions about raising the target to a more ambitious figure, Biden doubled the goal to 200 million. The administration is now on pace to triple the initial goal by April 29, his 100th day in office.

That tangible highlight is offset by the crisis on the southern border, which some experts say was triggered by Biden’s revocation of Trump-era immigration policies. Illegal aliens are crossing the border in numbers unseen in decades, forcing immigration authorities to overload shelters for housing detained minors. After weeks of avoidance, Biden finally called the situation a crisis earlier this month.

The White House has signaled that it intends to solve the crisis by investing in the countries the illegal aliens are fleeing from. Over the past two decades, the United States has spent billions in foreign aid to the nations in question.

Biden’s approval ratings have fluctuated between the high-40s and mid-50s during his first three months in office, according to Rasmussen, the only pollster conducting daily presidential approval surveys. The media may be contributing to that outcome.

A recent Media Research Center study showed that evening news coverage of Biden was 59 percent positive during his first three months in office, compared to just 11 percent positive coverage during the same period in Trump’s presidency.

Tyler Durden Wed, 04/28/2021 - 20:30
Published:4/28/2021 7:33:47 PM
[World] [Josh Blackman] The Range of Options for California v. Texas But if history is any guide, Obamacare cases usually throw us for a loop. Published:4/23/2021 8:46:46 AM
[Markets] Futures Rebound From Cap Gains Tax Selloff Futures Rebound From Cap Gains Tax Selloff

US equity futures rebounded Friday following Thursday's 1% selloff as investors digested a proposal for higher capital gains taxes and realized that i) it is nothing new compared to previous media reports and ii) the most likely outcome is a compromise tax rate (Goldman expects a final number no higher than 28%).  Still, both the S&P 500 and Dow are on course for weekly declines, after four straight weeks of gains. At 730 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 38 points, or 0.11%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.22%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 18.5 points, or 0.14%.

Some key premarket moves:

  • Cryptocurrency and blockchain-related stocks including Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital dropped 6.6% and 7.1% after bitcoin tumbled overnight below $50,000 on fears plans to raise capital gains taxes would curb investment in digital assets. Bitcoin was last trading just above $50K.
  • Intel shares fall 2.7% in U.S. premarket trading. The chipmaker’s 1Q update shows a drop in data-center revenue that offset strong PC chip sales. Analysts are divided on the results with some seeing the data-center slump as a blip, but others less convinced it is so.
  • Oil companies, mainly Chevron Corp, Marathon Petroleum, Exxon Mobil Corp and Occidental Petroleum, gained between 0.2% and 1.1% as oil prices rose.

On Thursday, Bloomberg sparked a selloff after it reported that Biden’s administration is seeking an increase in the capital gains tax to near 40% for wealthy individuals, almost double the current rate.

“The devil is always going to be in the detail,” said Ned Rumpeltin, European head of currency strategy at TD Securities, adding that the Democrats’ narrow majority could make the proposals hard to pass. Goldman agreed, and said that the compromise rate would be 28% and that the proposal would most likely be effected on Jan 1, 2022.

“We don’t think it derails the equity market recovery,” said Nupur Gupta, portfolio manager at Eastspring Investments, said of the tax proposal on Bloomberg TV. “Equity sentiment does appear to be stretched, which is why any negative news that you get can lead to a consolidation in markets in the short term.”

The pan-European STOXX 600 dropped 0.4% and was on course for a 1% weekly drop, with a surge in global coronavirus cases also weighing. The euro zone economy will grow more slowly this year than earlier thought and a temporary gain in inflation is likely to exceed a previous projection, a European Central Bank survey showed on Friday, a day after the bank left policy unchanged. However, IHS Markit’s flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index for the euro zone, seen as a good guide to economic health, rose to a nine-month high of 53.7 in April, confounding expectations in a Reuters poll for a dip to 52.8. Anything above 50 indicates growth. The US PMI data is due out at 945am ET.

“The euro zone has enjoyed a record manufacturing boom this month as the continent sees its early stages of the recovery efforts reaping rewards,” said Sun Global Investments CEO Mihir Kapadia in a client note. “We could expect some hiccups along the way, but sentiment should remain higher for some time.”

Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • FirstGroup shares rise as much as 19%, the most in five months, after the U.K. transport firm sells its North American student and transit units for $4.6 billion and says it expects FY21 earnings to exceed previous expectations.
  • Tod’s gains as much as 16% after LVMH boosts its stake in the Italian shoemaker to 10%, a move that’s likely to reignite takeover speculation on the stock, according to Jefferies.
  • SEB climbs as much as 8% to their highest in more than three years after the French home- appliances maker reported 1Q sales that beat consensus expectations, prompting a Societe Generale upgrade.
  • Wartsila rises as much as 7.8%, extending a surge after Thursday’s first- quarter report showed orders beating estimates.
  • Dometic advances as much as 6.5% after 1Q organic revenue growth of 22% was slighter better than expected, the main surprise being the company’s record margin, according to Jefferies.
  • Moncler falls as much as 7.1%, the most since March 2020, after 1Q results. RBC highlights that revenue recovery at the Italian maker of puffer jackets is good, but says the company is “not firing on all cylinders” compared to several peers that exceeded expectations.
  • Carnival Plc drops as much as 4.4% in London, the worst performer in Europe’s Stoxx 600 Travel & Leisure Index, after Morgan Stanley stays cautious on cruise lines despite improving newsflow.

Asian stocks were set for their worst weekly loss in a month as the region’s virus cases surged and a U.S. tax proposal hurt sentiment. Thai shares were the biggest decliners in Asia on Friday, with the SET Index down 0.9% as the country became the latest to report an unprecedented daily surge in Covid cases. Elsewhere, the Topix index closed 0.4% lower as Japan is set to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures from Sunday. Japan's weakness was offset by Chinese stocks, which notched the biggest weekly gain since they peaked at a 13-year high in mid-February. The benchmark CSI 300 index closed 0.9% higher on Friday, taking this week’s rally to 3.4%. Gains were driven by shares of companies that reported big jumps in first-quarter earnings. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index erased losses of as much as 0.5% on Friday to climb 0.3%. Information technology shares gained, while materials slumped. The regional gauge is on pace to fall 0.3% this week. Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist with Axicorp Financial Services wrote in a note that the biggest problem from the much talked-about U.S. tax proposal “might be a near-term liquidity drain as active traders and hedge funds pull back on a high-frequency activity to reevaluate strategy.”

India’s Sensex, the benchmark equity index, completed a third consecutive week of decline as a deadly wave of coronavirus infections raised concerns over business recovery amid lockdown-like curbs. The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.4% to 47,878.45 in Mumbai, taking its weekly drop to 2%. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also declined by a similar magnitude. Both measures capped their longest run of weekly losses since May 22. “Domestic equities do not look to be inspiring at the moment,” said Binod Modi, head of strategy at Reliance Securities Ltd. “The sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country and enhanced mobility restrictions imposed by a number of states are expected to remain as key overhangs for the market.” The Sensex has retreated more than 8% from its recent peak on Feb. 15, nearing the 10% loss threshold viewed as a technical correction. India added a record 332,730 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 16.26 million, the second-highest in the world. Fourteen of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. fell, led by a gauge of telecom companies

In rates, the 10Y TSY yield was steady at 1.55%; Germany’s 10-year government bond yield, the benchmark of the euro area, was also flat.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell again as its G-10 peers rallied led by risk-sensitive currencies. The yen was little changed after climbing to its highest level in seven weeks in the Asia session amid haven demand as Japan is set to declare a new state of emergency in some areas amid a surge in virus cases. The euro advanced from the beginning of the European session and got an extra boost after preliminary French manufacturing and services PMIs came in higher than expected, signaling a faster economic recovery; German bonds reacted to the data by giving up early gains, before rebounding. The pound rose, breaking a three-day losing streak, after better-than-expected retail sales for March and high- frequency data showed a continued uptick in spending; gilts briefly erased early gains posted on the DMO reducing this year’s debt sales.

China’s yuan posted its biggest weekly gain since January against the dollar. The Chinese currency also jumped the most in seven weeks against a basket of its trading partners. USD/CNY little changed at 6.4919; poised to fall 0.5% this week, most since Jan. 31. The Bloomberg CFETS RMB Index Tracker steady at 96.78, up 0.4% this week, most since March 5. “We expect CFETS strengthening to resume,” Citigroup strategists including Dirk Willer write in a note, adding that “we keep a bullish bias on CNY.”

In commodities, oil prices were steady, with support from the European economic recovery countered by persisting coronavirus concerns as infections surged to record levels in India. US crude edged up 0.1% to $61.50 a barrel and global benchmark Brent crude was flat at $65.35 per barrel. Spot gold was little changed at $1,785 per ounce but was still set for a weekly rise on soft Treasury yields and a subdued dollar

Bitcoin briefly dropped as low as $48,000, its lowest level in nearly seven weeks, before recovering some ground to trade back over $50,000. Ethereum was trading at $2,300 after dropping as low as $2,100.

With the first-quarter corporate earnings season under way, focus will be on results from Honeywell International Inc, Schlumberger N.V. and American Express Co. IHS Markit’s flash reading at 9:45 a.m ET is likely to show business activity in the manufacturing and services sectors improved in April from the prior month.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,136.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.33% to 438.19
  • MXAP up 0.3% to 208.01
  • MXAPJ up 0.7% to 697.44
  • Nikkei down 0.6% to 29,020.63
  • Topix down 0.4% to 1,914.98
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.1% to 29,078.75
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.3% to 3,474.17
  • Sensex down 0.1% to 48,018.05
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,060.71
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 3,186.10
  • Brent Futures up 0.09% to $65.46/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.11% to $1,785.98
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 91.033
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.7 bps to -0.269%
  • Euro up 0.33% to $1.2055

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The euro area’s economic recovery got fully underway in April with services returning to growth and manufacturing expanding at a record pace. Price pressures mounted as companies faced unprecedented delivery delays
  • Russia said it began pulling thousands of troops back from areas near the Ukrainian border Friday, in a move that could ease tensions that have spiked in recent weeks
  • Bitcoin declined for the seventh time in eight days, falling below $50,000, after President Joe Biden was said to propose almost doubling the capital-gains tax for the wealthy

A quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks head into the weekend mixed after the region partially shrugged off the early headwinds from the US where sentiment was spooked by reports that President Biden plans to hike capital gains tax to as much as 43.4% from the current top rate of 23.8%, which pressured the major indices and dragged all sectors in the red. Asian bourses suffered from early spillover selling although losses in the ASX 200 (+0.1%) were stemmed as telecoms remained afloat following the outcome of the 5G spectrum auction in which the top 3 telcos spent over AUD 600mln and with the largest-weighted financials sector cushioned by gains in AMP on plans for a demerger and listing of AMP Capital's private markets investment management business. Nikkei 225 (-0.6%) underperformed due to recent currency inflows and as participants brace for a return to a state of emergency with the government seeking an emergency declaration for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo between April 25th-May 11th and wants to significantly reduce the flow of people with stricter measures such as asking certain businesses to close including establishments that serve alcohol. Hang Seng (+1.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.3%) were positive amid strength in Chinese tech names and with focus shifting to earnings whereby Ping An Insurance benefitted from profit growth for Q1, while CNOOC was less decisive despite a 4.7% Y/Y increase in its Q1 total net production. Finally, 10yr JGBs mirrored the choppy price action in T-note futures despite the underperformance of Japanese stocks and with demand also hampered by the lack of BoJ purchases in the market today, while the Australian 2024 bond auction had little effect on the 3yr yield which was relatively flat although both Aussie and Kiwi 10yr yields edged higher by around 3bps.

Top Asian News

  • Xiaomi Said to Mull Investing in AI Chipmaker Black Sesame
  • Carlyle Is Said to Weigh Stake Sale in Satellite Firm AsiaSat
  • Bridgestone Nearing U.S. Deal, Narrows List to a Few Candidates
  • Bain Sets Up First Japan Fund With $1 Billion Commitments

A lacklustre Friday session thus far for European majors (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.3%) with downbeat vibes seeping from Wall Street’s tax-induced losses, and after an indecisive APAC Friday as fresh catalysts remain light. US equity futures meanwhile consolidate with modest gains, although the cyclically-driven RTY (+0.7%) outperforms. Back to Europe, broad-based losses are seen across the bourses with no particular standout performer. Sectors are mostly in negative territory with Basic Resources topping the charts as base metals continue to rise, whilst Real Estate and Oil & Gas reside as the laggards, albeit the breath remains relatively narrow. Overall the sectors do not portray a theme nor a risk bias. Autos are buoyed as Daimler (+1%) underpins the sector following its earnings, in which it noted that unit sales, revenue, and EBIT expected to be significantly higher in 2021 than in the previous year while it raised its FY21 margin targets due to the firm Q1 performance. That being said, the group expects some potential further impact on Q2 production from the global chip shortage. In terms of individual movers, Tod’s (+11%) is bolstered amid reports LVMH (-0.1%) upped its stake in the Co. to 10%. Meanwhile, earnings-related movers include: Vinci (+1%), Vivendi (+3%), Moncler (-6.5%) and Saab (+8%).

Top European News

  • Daimler Raises Margin Outlook for Mercedes-Benz Division
  • A $120 Billion Danish Pension Manager Loses Faith in Bonds
  • Allfunds Surges After $2.3 Billion IPO Boosts Amsterdam’s Clout
  • Euro-Area Recovery Kicks In as Services Return to Growth

In FX, the Aussie may have received a boost from stronger preliminary PMIs overnight, but its firm rebound vs the Greenback seems more technical following yet another successful defence of 0.7700 or thereabouts. However, 0.7750 is proving tough to reclaim as Aud/Usd remains hampered by the ongoing rift with China over tariffs that has prompted Australia to cancel its Silk Road accord, while news of a 3-day lockdown in Perth may also offset some positivity surrounding constructive trade talks with the UK. However, the Aud/Nzd cross has bounced from around 1.0750 again as the Kiwi lags below 0.7200 against its US rival irrespective of a rebound in NZ credit card spending. Elsewhere, better than expected flash Eurozone PMIs, and especially from France appear to be keeping the Euro aloft after its sharp pull back in wake of a broadly uneventful ECB policy meeting to retest bids/support around 1.2000. Note also, Eur/Usd may be underpinned by decent option expiry interest just below the round number between 1.1990-80 (1.5 bn) as it holds just above 1.2050, while the Loonie should also be bolstered by expiries at the 1.2500 strike (1 bn) as it maintains post-BoC momentum, albeit after several wobbles and setbacks. Nevertheless, resistance looms at the new Usd/Cad 2021 low circa 1.2459 and then 1.2450 may be protected by 1.7 bn expiries extending to 1.2440. Meanwhile, Sterling continues to straddle 1.3850 vs the Buck following the loss of another big figure on Thursday and regardless of bumper UK retail sales data or better than anticipated preliminary PMIs, as Cable lags amidst renewed upside in Eur/Gbp towards 0.8700 on ongoing Oxford/Astra vaccine issues in part.

  • DXY/CHF/JPY - In keeping with several G10 counterparts, the Dollar may be drawing some comfort from the fact that dip buying has stemmed further depreciation, and in index terms the 91.000 level is becoming something of a line in the sand, although the Greenback remains under pressure and in bearish mode with the DXY easing into a lower 91.294-003 range ahead of Markit’s US PMIs and new home sales. Hence, fellow ‘safe-havens’ such as the Franc and Yen are taking advantage against the backdrop of consolidation in US Treasury and other global bond yields, as Usd/Chf and Usd/Jpy trade near the base of tight 0.9171-51 and 108.00-107.80 bands respectively. For the record, little reaction to in line Japanese CPI or broadly firmer PMIs as Tokyo and 3 other cities head back into emergency COVID-19 status.
  • EM - Risk sentiment has been rattled to an extent by US President Biden’s proposal to double the CGT rate, but most EM currencies are benefiting from ongoing Usd weakness, bar the Try for specific negative Turkish factors, but the Rub is also clawing back more of its heavy losses on perceptions that tensions between Russia and Ukraine are dissipating ahead of the upcoming CBR policy meeting which saw a larger than expected hike to 5.00% and further RUB upside.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are yet again undergoing choppy trade with some recent pressure experienced in lockstep with a dip across stocks. As mentioned throughout the week, the supply/demand dynamics remain ever-so-fluid as OPEC+ gears up for its technical meeting next week. At this point, it is still unclear whether members will convene for a decision meeting ministerial meeting following the technical JMMC confab. The latest sources via EnergyIntel suggested both will go ahead on the 28th of April, although other reports put more emphasis on the “monitoring” aspect whilst playing down the likelihood of a tweak to the last set quotas through to July. For any changes to occur, the ministerial meeting will have to go ahead. Meanwhile, The latest move by Russia to withdraw troops following military drills, perceived as a de-escalation, alongside seemingly construction JCPOA discussion, have unwound some geopolitical premia baked into prices in recent days. WTI is now flat on the day around USD 61.50/bbl (vs high USD 62.10/bbl), while its Brent counterpart dipped below USD 65.60/bbl (vs high 65.96/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are relatively uneventful around recent ranges above USD 1,775/oz and USD 26/oz respectively. In terms of base metals, LME copper eclipsed 9,500/t as it’s on track for its third straight week of gains amid a softer Buck and firm demand prospects. Dalian iron ore prices meanwhile were bolstered by a rise in steel prices with some citing strengthening global demand for the alloy.

US Event Calendar

  • 9:45am: April Markit US Services PMI, est. 61.5, prior 60.4; Manufacturing PMI, est. 61.0, prior 59.1; Composite PMI, prior 59.7
  • 10am: March New Home Sales MoM, est. 14.2%, prior -18.2%; New Home Sales, est. 885,000, prior 775,000

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

I kissed my wife goodnight at 930pm last night and left her happy and well watching Masterchef. 4 hours later and I get woken up by chattering teeth and a weary demand that I need to keep her warm as she is feeling awful and has the shivers running through all her body. Yes she had her first covid jab yesterday. This was very predictable as she’s like this every year from the flu jab. All I could think of was that I’d have to look after the kids all alone this weekend. That started to break me out in a cold sweat.

So the virus still plays a big part in all our lives and markets and it was a pretty mixed session yesterday, with multiple asset classes fluctuating between gains and losses as they weighed up a variety of competing risks on the horizon. On the one hand, the rise in global Covid cases continued to accelerate, reaching its fastest pace of the pandemic so far and raising concerns about potential new restrictions on mobility.Yet a pullback in Russian troops from the Ukrainian border helped to reduce some of the geopolitical risk premium of late, while decent US labour market data bolstered sentiment around the economic recovery. However bearish sentiment got the last word yesterday as just after trading closed in Europe, reports circulated of the Biden administration proposing to nearly double the capital gains tax on the wealthiest individuals.

The new marginal tax rate would rise to 39.6% on investments, compared to the current base rate of 20%, while the current 3.8% surtax on investment income that helps fund Obamacare would also be kept in place. This would see taxes on investment returns become higher than those on labour, which has been a long standing provision of the tax code. White House Press Secretary Psaki noted that nothing is for certain just yet and that the administration is “still finalizing what the pay-fors look like” as the White House looks for ways to fund its spending initiatives. The S&P 500 fell -1.3% from its intraday highs before settling down -0.92% on the day, which leaves it just over 1% off its all-time closing high last week. The NASDAQ was down a slightly greater -0.94% yesterday, while the small cap Russell 2000 index outperformed slightly (-0.31%) but after a -1.8% intraday pullback on the tax headline. The losses were widespread with 70% of S&P 500 members lower and 21 of 24 industry groups losing ground. The turn in sentiment was seen in yields as well, with 10yr US Treasuries higher on day as yields fell -1.7bps to 1.538% after been as high as 1.5856% before the news.

Looking ahead, today’s main highlight will be the flash PMIs from around the world, which will give us an initial indication of how the global economy has fared moving into Q2. Overnight, we’ve already had the results from Australia and Japan, which showed improvements in manufacturing PMIs with Japan at 53.3 (vs. 52.7 last month) and Australia at 59.6 (vs. 56.8 expected). Japan’s services reading was flat at 48.3 compared to last month while Australia’s printed at 58.6 (vs. 55.5 last month). For the European figures out this morning, our economists are expecting a modest reversal after the strong March improvement, as many countries face increased restrictions in response to the latest wave of the virus.

Asia markets are trading mixed this morning with the Hang Seng (+0.90%) up, the Shanghai Comp (+0.05%) and Kospi (+0.03%) broadly flat and the Nikkei (-0.75%) down. Futures on the S&P 500 are back up +0.21% but European ones pointing to a weaker open as markets here try to catch up with the late move in US equities. Yields on 10y USTs are back up +1.9bps though. Elsewhere, Bitcoin is down -3.07% this morning to trade at $49,968, marking the 7th loss in the last 8 days. The crypto currency came under fresh pressure on the Biden tax headlines. In terms of data, Japan’s March CPI printed in line with expectations at -0.2% yoy while core CPI came in at -0.1% yoy (vs. -0.2% yoy expected).

Back to yesterday and the major focal point was the latest ECB meeting, but in reality there isn’t a massive amount to discuss as policy was left unchanged as expected. Instead, the meeting served as more of a placeholder ahead of the June decision, when the Governing Council will decide whether to maintain the new faster pace of PEPP purchases. President Lagarde didn’t provide any clues on that decision either, saying that the pace of purchases would be data-dependent, rather than time-dependent, and that it was “premature” to discuss a reduction in purchases. In terms of the other headlines, Lagarde said that the ECB wouldn’t move policy in tandem with the Fed, though that wasn’t exactly a great surprise, while she confirmed that the results of the ECB’s strategy review would be presented in the autumn. Our European economists remain confident of a strong recovery around mid-year. However, it’s unclear whether there will be sufficient data by the June meeting to provide the case for a deceleration in PEPP purchases. For more, see their ECB recap here.

Though sovereign bond yields in Europe had moved lower after the press conference, they ended the day little changed, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.0bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+0.2bps) seeing little movement. European equities had a much stronger session however, with the STOXX 600 (+0.68%), the DAX (+0.82%) and the CAC 40 (+0.91%) all recording solid gains.

The tax headlines in the US hampered sentiment after Europe went home and offset decent US labour market data, with the weekly initial jobless claims for the week through April 17 falling to a post-pandemic low of 547k (vs. 610k expected). This was beneath even the lowest estimate on Bloomberg, and sends the 4-week moving average down to its own post-pandemic low of 651k. Other measures similarly surprised to the upside, with the Chicago Fed’s national activity index up to +1.71 in March (vs. +1.25 expected), while the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index seeing the composite measure rise to 31 (vs. 28 expected), which is the strongest monthly composite reading since the survey began.

As mentioned at the top, the news on the pandemic has continued to deteriorate at a global level as numerous countries face a surge in cases. To put India’s rising case load in perspective, in mid-February they were running at around 10k new cases per day. This edged up to c.25k in early March but has now hit over 300k per day this week. Incredible numbers.Yesterday saw Japanese PM Suga recommend that the Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo regions be placed under a new state of emergency. The number of new infections reported in Tokyo yesterday was its highest since late January, and comes just 3 months before the city is scheduled to host the Olympic Games. Meanwhile in Sweden, PM Lofven said that the easing of restrictions that had been planned for the start of May wouldn’t take place because of the high rates of transmission still being observed. However in France, Prime Minister Castex said the country will begin a “cautious” reopening in mid-May. First there will be a gradual easing of domestic travel restrictions beginning on May 3. This comes as Italy is expected to ease some lockdown rules itself this upcoming Monday and Germany is reportedly planning to ease some restrictions for those who have been vaccinated. Elsewhere, Bloomberg reported that China is likely to approve the BioNTech vaccine by July and will relax its requirement that inbound travelers have a jab made by a Chinese company.

Another major development yesterday came from Russia, where the defence minister said that troops which had been deployed near the Ukranian border would return to their bases. In response, Russian assets moved sharply higher, with the MOEX Russia index ending the day up +1.17%, while the Russian Ruble also strengthened significantly, rising +1.55% against the US Dollar. Ukranian President Zelensky welcomed the move in a tweet, saying that “The reduction of troops on our border proportionally reduces tension.”

Turning back to the US, there were some notable developments at President Biden’s climate summit, with the US announcing a new target for the US to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50-52% in 2030 compared to 2005 levels. This is on top of the administration’s existing goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and follows their move to re-join the Paris Climate Change agreement earlier in the year, which the US withdrew from under the Trump administration. This comes amidst a range of fresh targets lately from world leaders, with Japan’s Prime Minister yesterday announcing an increase in their own target, so that emissions would be down 46% from 2013 levels, up from a 26% target at present.

In terms of yesterday’s other data, existing home sales in the US fell to an annualised rate of 6.01m in March (vs. 6.11m expected), which is their lowest level in 7 months. Separately in the Euro Area, the European Commission’s advance consumer confidence reading for April came in at -8.1 (vs. -11.0 expected), which is its strongest reading since the pandemic began.

To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will likely be the aforementioned flash PMI readings for April. Otherwise, we’ll also get March data on UK retail sales and US new home sales. Earnings releases out today include Honeywell International and American Express, while the Central Bank of Russia will be making its latest monetary policy decision.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/23/2021 - 08:03
Published:4/23/2021 7:10:15 AM
[Markets] Will Supremes Unleash Biden Red Flag Gun Raids? Will Supremes Unleash Biden Red Flag Gun Raids?

Authored by James Bovard via,

A gun seizure case before the Supreme Court could open the flood-gates to warrantless searches...

President Joe Biden launched his first attack on the Second Amendment this week, making clear his intent to radically curtail Americans’ legal rights to own firearms. The White House boasted that Biden was nominating a “fierce” advocate of gun control, David Chipman, to be chief of the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agency. Chipman, a former ATF agent, is so dedicated to banning assault weapons that he brazenly lied last year about the 1993 federal assault at Waco, claiming that the Branch Davidians shot down two National Guard helicopters that were assaulting their home. Chipman, a Phillips Exeter Academy graduate who carries a concealed weapon himself, was an ATF case agent at the 1994 trial of the Branch Davidian survivors so he had no excuse for tossing out this anti-gun fairy tale.

Perhaps the biggest peril that Biden unveiled is his push for a national “red flag” law that would entitle the police to preemptively confiscate the guns of anyone who is accused of being a threat to himself or others. Red flag laws have been notorious for trampling due process and spurring unjustified police raids that have resulted in killing innocent gun owners. It is naïve to expect fair play on gun owners’ rights when the politicians driving such policy are openly seeking pretexts to disarm as many Americans as possible. Biden’s push for a red flag law could become far more perilous to constitutional rights if the Supreme Court upholds a potentially landmark gun seizure case that could gut the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches. The Court heard arguments in this case last month and a decision is expected by June.

In 2015, after an elderly couple had a heated argument, Edward Caniglia placed an unloaded revolver on the table and taunted his wife: “Why don’t you just shoot me and get me out of my misery?” His wife, Kim, was spooked and left to stay overnight in a hotel. When he didn’t answer a phone call the next morning, she called the police and asked them to check on him.

Police arrived and browbeat Edward Caniglia into getting get a psychiatric examination at a hospital. He agreed to do so only after police promised not to seize his handguns. The shrinks certified him as sane (at least by prevailing Rhode Island standards) and he returned home to learn the police had confiscated his guns. Both he and his wife requested the guns be returned. Police refused to do so until Caniglia, who had no history of violence or abusing firearms, filed a lawsuit. Caniglia also sued the city of Cranston and police officers for violating his constitutional rights.

At first glance, his case rested upon solid precedent. The Supreme Court ruled in 1980, “It is a basic principle of Fourth Amendment law that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.”  In 1948, the Supreme Court declared that the sanctity of private homes is “too precious to entrust to the discretion of those whose job is the detection of crime and the arrest of criminals.” But the police and their supporters relied on a vast expansion of a 1973 Supreme Court decision that justified a warrantless “inventory search” of a rent-a-car to seek a police officer’s revolver in the trunk as part of the “community caretaking” exemption to the Fourth Amendment. A federal judge and a federal appeals court, ruling in favor of Rhode Island police, effectively concluded that a private home was “close enough for government work” to a rent-a-car to justify warrantless searches.

But what about that clarion call 1967 Supreme Court decision that declared, “Wherever a man may be, he is entitled to know that he will remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures.”  Not a problem, according to the first amicus brief that the Biden administration filed with the Supreme Court. According to the Biden administration, the only question in the Rhode Island case was whether the actions of police officers in the case were “objectively reasonable.” Constitutional rights were effectively moot because the Cranston cops were simply dealing with “an impending safety threat through a warrantless seizure of a potentially mentally unstable person and an entry into his residence for the limited purpose of removing firearms.” For the Biden legal team, “confiscating” became “removing” as smoothly as one of Falstaff’s minions turned “stealing” into “conveying.”

On the same side of the fight, Marc DeSisto, the lawyer representing the Cranston police officers, declared, “The Fourth Amendment has only one test and that is that searches and seizures shall not be unreasonable.” DeSisto was not required to take a literacy test and perhaps was unaware of the Fourth Amendment passage about Americans’ rights to “be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” DeSisto and the Biden administration presume that warrants are unnecessary, if not irrelevant, any time government officials assert that it is “reasonable” to enter someone’s house without a warrant “to ensure public health and safety.”  And who defines “reasonableness”? The same government officials who violate the Constitution. As Justice Stephen Breyer commented, “If you take a caretaker exception and read that into the word ‘reasonable,’ there’s no stopping. We don’t know how far we’ll go.”

Lawyer Shay Dvoretzky, who represented Caniglia before the Court, warned,

“Nearly every criminal violation has public safety implications, so dispensing with the warrant requirement whenever police can point to a health or safety motive would eviscerate the Fourth Amendment. Virtually any criminal situation can also be described in health or safety terms. For any situation involving drugs and alcohol, police could just say they were going into the home in order to make sure that the suspect was okay.”

As Justice Neil Gorsuch asked, “What does the government do that doesn’t involve health or safety?” Institute for Justice attorney Joshua Windham wrote, “A rule that allows police to burst into your home without a warrant whenever they feel they are acting as ‘community caretakers’ is a threat to everyone’s security.” A brief filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union, Cato Institute, and American Conservative Union Foundation warned that upholding the Rhode Island search could “give police free rein to enter the home without probable cause or a warrant” and would be “unwise, unmanageable, and unnecessary, and it opens the door to abusive police conduct.”

The Biden administration’s animosity to the Second Amendment has raised the stakes for the Rhode Island case. The Second Amendment Law Center, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and Gun Owners of California warned the Supreme Court that

“the Fourth Amendment has no ‘gun’ exception… Expansion of the ‘community caretaking’ exception into the home will be used by police in jurisdictions with onerous or constitutionally-questionable firearm restrictions to turn every call to a house into a search for guns under the pretext of ‘helping’ those present.”

Anyone who doubts whether warrantless “community caretaking” could open an authoritarian Pandora’s box should read the transcript of the Supreme Court hearing. Lawyer DeSisto asserted that the caretaking doctrine would also authorize police raids to enforce mandatory COVID mask requirements if “they can see a lot of people gathered together that are not wearing masks.” Gov. Cuomo is again the bellwether here. In November, Cuomo denounced New York county sheriffs for acting like a “dictator” because they refused to forcibly enter private homes to enforce Cuomo’s mask mandate. Since the start of the Pandemic, Biden has whooped up masks as if they were a silver bullet to slap COVID-19 (regardless that tens of  millions of Americans have been infected with the virus since mask compliance reached over 80 percent in public places). Biden has already mandated wearing masks in National Parks and on federal property. How much further could he go if there is another surge of Covid cases?

Justice Sandra Sotomayor commented during the hearing, “When we permit police to search and seize without some standard, we run the risk of situations like this [Rhode Island case] repeating themselves.” But many antigun activists view the case as a model, not as a glitch in the legal system. Some court watchers expect a victory for the Biden position; Reuters headlined its report on the hearing, “With the elderly in mind, U.S. Supreme Court wary of limiting police in home entries.” Defenders of the Rhode Island gun seizure insist that government officials need discretion to forcibly protect people against themselves. But consider the experience of New Yorkers under the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo railroaded into law immediately after a 2012 school shooting in Connecticut. Cuomo declared: “People who have mental health issues should not have guns. They could hurt themselves, they could hurt other people.” But tens of millions of Americans visit therapists each year, and “mental health issues” is vague enough for endless political mischief.

More than 85,000 New Yorkers lost their Second Amendment rights as a result of a “mental health” exclusion clause in the SAFE Act. As columnist Jacob Sullum observed, the “law effectively gives ‘mental health professionals’ the power to disarm people, and they do not even need a judge’s approval.” New York University law professor James Jacobs observed that, “based on as little as a single short emergency room interview,” an individual “need not even be notified that his or her name has been added to a database of persons whose firearms license must be revoked and whose firearms must be surrendered.” Medical professionals and others were already legally obliged to notify police if a patient “made a credible threat” of violence but the provision in the 2013 act was far more expansive.

If the Supreme Court approves “wellness check” warrantless gun raids, the Biden administration could invoke the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic Statistic Manual (DSM) category 313.81, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, to justify targeting outspoken opponents of the government. After the clash at the Capitol, Biden wasted no time denouncing the January 6 protestors as “domestic terrorists.” Press accounts of the arrests of the protestors breathlessly recounted how many firearms were found in their homes—regardless that those individuals did not tote their AR-15s, shotguns, and Glocks with them when they “unlawfully entered” that “Temple of Democracy,” the U.S. Capitol. Any such crackdown would have legions of cheerleaders in the mainstream media.

The Biden administration’s support for warrantless “community caretaking” police raids must be viewed in light of previous perverse legal innovations that unleashed tyranny. Going back to the 18th century, British and American judges recognized that “a man’s home is his castle.” But the drug war obliterated that notion with legal doctrines that should have been laughed out of court. Instead, the combined peril of narcotics and flush toilets nullified limits on police power. In a 1995 brief to the Supreme Court, Clinton’s Justice Department stressed that “various indoor plumbing facilities… did not exist” in early America when the “knock-and-announce” rule for searches of homes was adopted. In a 1997 brief to the Supreme Court, the Clinton administration declared that “it is ordinarily reasonable for police officers to dispense with a pre-entry knock and announcement.” The subsequent Supreme Court decision included a few quibbles but effectively sanctified no-knock raids whenever police claimed a “reasonable suspicion” that evidence might be destroyed. The New York Times noted in 2017 that no-knock warrants were routinely granted permitting “the most extreme force in pursuit of the smallest amounts of drugs, since a few grams are more quickly flushed than a few bales.” The Clinton “flush the Fourth” doctrine spurred an explosion of deadly no-knock raids across the nation. A New York Times investigation found that “at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.”

“Government as a damn rascal” was the unwritten premise of the Bill of Rights. The Founding Fathers saw enough depredations by British agents that they recognized the folly of vesting officialdom with absolute power. The Bill of Rights is full of prohibitions (“shall make no law”) precisely because the Founders did not trust politicians to be judge, jury, and executioners on their own “reasonableness.” Nothing that Biden or his appointees have said or done so far justifies exempting them from Thomas Jefferson’s 1799 admonition to “bind those we are obliged to trust with power…from mischief by the chains of the Constitutions.”

Tyler Durden Sun, 04/11/2021 - 23:30
Published:4/11/2021 10:48:39 PM
[Markets] The Two Faces Of Joe Biden: Taibbi The Two Faces Of Joe Biden: Taibbi

Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News,

On April Fool’s Day, CNN ran an “analysis” of Joe Biden’s presidency:

Will JRB take his place alongside FDR and LBJ?

CNN explained “JRB” had just unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan “to boost ordinary working Americans rather than the wealthy,” a program that together with his $1.9 trillion Covid rescue doubles “as a bid to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.”

“I once caught a fish this big.” Biden after signing the American Rescue Plan

The news is like high school. One day, one kid comes in wearing Dior sneakers and Nike X Ambush pants, and two days later, that’s all you see in the halls. The “Biden-as-FDR” stories raced around News High, with headlines like “With nods to FDR, JFK and LBJ, Biden goes big on infrastructure plan” (Yahoo!) and “Can Biden achieve an FDR-style presidency? A historian sees surprising parallels” (Washington Post). Even the New Yorker’s naysaying take, “Is Biden Really the Second Coming of F.D.R. and L.B.J.?” read at first glance like an affirmation.

That this high-flown language came on the heels of Biden’s people whispering F.D.R. comparisons in the ears of reporters for weeks, and Biden himself calling his plan “a once-in-a-generation investment in America,” seemed not to bother anyone. We live in a time when a president can be said to have “sharply cut poverty” the moment he signs a relief bill, so why not say, as CNN editorialists Stephen Collison and Caitlin Hu did, that this new bill’s passage would immediately allow Biden to “lay claim to a spot in the Democratic pantheon alongside Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson?”

This would only be natural, they said, since “Scranton Joe” has long despaired over the silver spoon inequities of Donald Trump’s trickle-down economy:

The President complained as he unveiled his plan in Pittsburgh -- the kind of gritty blue-collar city he loves -- that the top 1% saw their wealth rise by $4 trillion during the pandemic while millions of Americans lost jobs. "Just goes to show you how distorted and unfair our economy has become," Biden said. "Wasn't always this way. Well, it's time to change that."

Left unmentioned was that the same gritty, blue-collar president oversaw the TARP bailout, which resulted in a similar Trumpian windfall for the 1%. The richest saw their share of America’s wealth increase from 30% in 2010 to 39% in 2016. Median household net worth fell 34% from a peak in 2007 to the end of the Obama-Biden presidency, while banks in 2009 had the best year they would have until 2020, that “unfair” bailout year Biden complained about.

Pundits have long been working on revising that history. By last summer, the Atlantic was writing this about Biden’s management of the other bailout:

Critics on the left faulted him and Obama for not making the stimulus package bigger (though keeping it below $1 trillion was the price of winning necessary Republican votes for its passage in the Senate).

That’s just not true. Certainly, Republicans would have hammered Obama for a stimulus of any size, but Obama officials decided on those levels on their own. We’ve known this since 2012, when the New Yorker published a piece outing the fact that Larry Summers advised the incoming president to prioritize deficit reduction over stimulus. You can read the 57-page secret Summers memo here.

With a partisan divide wedded to a hyper-concentrated landscape, commercial media companies can now sell almost any narrative they want. They can disappear the past with relative ease, and the present can be pushed whichever way a handful of key decision-makers thinks will sell best with audiences.

In the case of Biden, we’ve seen in the first few months that the upscale, cosmopolitan target audiences of outlets like CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post want to believe they’re living through a “radical,” “transformative” presidency, the political antidote to the Trump years. The same crowd of West Wing power-tweeters was leading the charge against “purity” in politics about eight minutes ago.

In fact, in the 2019-2020 primary season, Bernie Sanders was regularly lambasted by the same blue-leaning press outlets for trying to re-imagine F.D.R. through programs with names like the “Green New Deal.” Proposal after proposal that had been directly inspired by F.D.R. was described as too expensive, unrealistic, or a political non-starter heading into a general election.

Now that the real version of that brand of politics has been safely eliminated, a new PR campaign is stressing that Democrats did elect F.D.R. after all. Moreover, a legend is being built that crime-bill signing, PATRIOT-Act inspiring, Iraq-war-humping Joe Biden wanted all along to be a radical progressive, but was held back by the intransigence of the evil Republicans. Is that even remotely true?

Observe, for instance, the hilarious Ezra Klein editorial that just ran in the New York Times, called “Four Ways to Look at the Radicalism of Joe Biden” (someone actually wrote that headline!):

Before Biden, Democratic presidents designed policy with one eye on attracting Republican votes, or at least mollifying Republican critics. That’s why a third of the 2009 stimulus was made up of tax cuts, why the Affordable Care Act was built atop the Romneycare framework, why President Bill Clinton’s first budget included sharp spending cuts…

Over the past decade, congressional Republicans slowly but completely disabused Democrats of these hopes. The long campaign against the ideological compromise that was the Affordable Care Act is central here…

The result is that Obama, Biden, the key political strategists who advise Biden and almost the entire Democratic congressional caucus simply stopped believing Republicans would ever vote for major Democratic bills. 

Question for Ezra: did Obama also accelerate the drone program, expand the surveillance state, and abandon enforcement of white-collar crime to a degree that made John Ashcroft look like Eliot Ness, in a similar effort to reach across the aisle? Or were those Executive Branch behaviors just expressions of unrequited love?

Obama as a presidential candidate in 2008 contrasted himself with Hillary Clinton by insisting he would be the guy to stop kowtowing to special interests. On health care, he was incredibly specific: he would green-light drug re-importation from Canada and allow Medicare to negotiate bulk pharmaceutical prices, insisting also he was a “proponent” of single-payer.

Obama went so far as to do an ad blasting former Louisiana congressman Billy Tauzin, who went from helping write the ban on Medicare bargaining to going to “work for the pharmaceutical industry making two million dollars a year” at the lobbying group PhRMA.

“Imagine that,” said Obama. “That’s an example of the same old game-?playing in Washington. I don’t want to learn how to play the game better. I want to put an end to the game-?playing.”

The year after this ad ran, Obama was meeting with that same Billy Tauzin in, ironically, the Roosevelt Room of the White House (Tauzin would end up visiting a dozen times). There, they hammered out a deal: Tauzin’s group, PhRMA, would fund a $150 million ad campaign boosting Obama’s health care program, in exchange for the Obama White House agreeing to kill the reimportation idea and leave the ban on Medicare negotiation in place.

Tauzin later described the deal, saying it had been “blessed” by the White House, and emails later released showed a union official who was part of health care bill negotiations explaining how Obama’s White House planned on paying for its PR campaign: “They plan to hit up the ‘bad guys’ for most of the $.”

Obama in other words won a contentious primary against Hillary Clinton by snowing reporters like me into hyping him as the clean hands guy who’d push aside Clintonian transactional politics. Then he turned around a year later and passed his signature program with help from the worst industry actors, paying for it by killing the progressive parts of the plan.

This history — important history — is now being rewritten by people like Klein as an “ideological compromise” inspired by the Obama/Biden White House’s misguided desire to govern with Republican votes. The fact that the Affordable Care Act passed with a grand total of zero such votes is apparently irrelevant, as was Biden’s ignored and erroneous (do we only say “lie” in some cases?) insistence as a candidate last year that he found “Republican votes” for “Obamacare.”

Something like Obama’s PhRMA one-two is happening again, and predictably, it’s not getting much press. A hundred countries have formally asked the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property laws that only allow companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca to make Covid-19 vaccines. Favoring the waiver: Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and hundreds of millions of poor and mostly nonwhite folks in other countries who are nervous about the whole dying thing.

Opposing (drumroll, please): that same PhRMA lobbying group, which says such waivers would “undermine the global response to the pandemic, including ongoing effort to tackle new variants.” Meaning, industry will stop developing vaccines now, and certainly won’t develop any the next time, if you don’t let it cash in.

Without the ability to make generics, countries like Mexico have to be grateful for handouts of some of the tens of millions of excess vaccine doses we have sitting in storage. In fact, in what the New York Times called a “notable step into vaccine diplomacy,” Biden agreed to send 2.5 million doses to Mexico in return for Mexico promising to increase patrols on its southern border with Guatemala.

To recap: while waffling on patent waivers, Biden traded 2.5 million doses of vaccine to Mexico for a promise to crack down on the Central American migrants who have become a pain in this administration’s public relations tuchus. Perhaps Biden eventually will push for the patent waivers, but for now, does anyone even have to ask what the headlines describing that kind of lives-for-fewer-immigrants deal would have looked like if Trump brokered it?

This has so much been the story of Biden’s presidency, which is certainly less chaotic than Trump’s and does have some clearly different ambitions, but in many ways represents continuity with both his predecessor and his predecessor’s predecessor.

What would we have said if Trump promised to stop wall construction, then went ahead and kept building it anyway? Candidate Biden promised not to build “another foot of wall,” and although it is true that he’s frozen Defense Department funding for Trump’s project, his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the decision left “room” for the administration to “make decisions” about “areas of the wall that need renovation and “particular projects that need to be finished.” So F.D.R. is building more wall.

Others have made plenty of hay about the discrepancies in covering unaccompanied child detainees now, versus a few years ago. Agencies from the AP to the Washington Post are using the word “challenge” instead of “crisis” or “horror.” It’s of course only a coincidence that this is the word Press Secretary Psaki started using back on March 18th (correcting the use of “crisis”).

The cries of hypocrisy about the non-use of the term “kids in cages” is, I think, overblown, because separating children from families was an intentional aim of the Trump administration — remember, Trump officials were hoping for a lot of media coverage about separated kids, with the specific aim of producing a “substantial deterrent effect.” That was substantially more deranged than any Biden policy. That doesn’t make it not ridiculous that the Washington Post called the following structures “migrant facilities”:

When pressed on the absurdity, the Post noted that it hadn’t necessarily said what was happening at the border was a good thing, even quoting activists saying it was a “huge step backward.” The Post hastened to add that the same activist said of the Carrizo Springs, Texas facility, “I consoled myself with the fact that it was considered the Cadillac of [migrant child] centers.”

Again, is it hard to imagine what the response would have been if anyone, inside or outside the Trump administration, had tried to sell us on the idea that immigrant kids were staying in the “Cadillac” of detention centers? The “Cadillac cages” and “Cadillac concentration camps” jokes would have written themselves.

The dull truth about Biden is that he’s governed, domestically, as a slightly more progressive version of the Obama administration, with a more ambitious bailout, while his foreign policy is a notch or two more hawkish — a wash, overall, though most of the stories about policy continuity from Afghanistan to Iran to Ukraine and beyond, don’t get headlines.

During the recent all-consuming furor over the Major League Baseball all-star game, for instance, news that the federal defense budget under Biden will likely remain at the same astronomical levels they reached under Trump went mostly unnoticed. A few outlets that paid attention used the common defense industry talking point that the numbers actually represented a cut, since the increase was smaller than the rate of inflation. Same with Biden’s continuation of the storied presidential tradition of punting on withdrawal of support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine territories, reported via headlines like, “Joe Biden is not planning to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Read the rest here.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/09/2021 - 19:00
Published:4/9/2021 6:04:41 PM
[Markets] Naomi Wolf: Vaccine Passports Are The "End Of Human Liberty In The West" Naomi Wolf: Vaccine Passports Are The "End Of Human Liberty In The West"

Authored by Victoria Taft via,

The Left would like to dismiss Naomi Wolf as a heretic and conspiracy theorist now that she disagrees with their anti-liberty responses to coronavirus, but her warning about President Biden’s threatened “vaccine passports” should be heeded.

Wolf, who started a tech site that she says is meant to bring the right and left together, says the passport would divide people between haves and have nots: those who have had the COVID shot and those who have not. In her words, it “is literally the end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

Here’s what she means, in case you haven’t figure it out yourself.

Vaccine passports sound like a fine thing if you don’t know what those platforms can do. I’m CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does. It’s not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about data. And once this rolls out you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.

Wolf told Fox News host Steve Hilton that Big Tech companies will oversee all of your personal information and intermingle it with information that government will use to determine if you’re eligible to be able to travel and do anything else in polite society. President Biden signed an executive order in January to coordinate with other countries to track people to stop the spread of COVID.

Wolf says the move is nothing short of “catastrophic.”

They’re trying to roll it out around the world. It is so much more than a vaccine pass. I can’t stress this enough. It has the power to turn off your life. Or turn on your life. To let you engage in civil society or be marginalized. It’s catastrophic. It cannot be allowed to continue.

Wolf predicts that the vaccine passport would eventually track every aspect of your life.

And what that means is it can be merged with your PayPal account, with your digital currency. Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans. Your networks can be sucked up. It geo locates you everywhere you go. Your credit history can be included. All of your medical history can be included.

In short, it’s not hard to imagine this passport turning into a version of China’s social credit scoring.

In China, if you do what the regime wants you to do, you are accorded points to allow more freedom of movement and other perks. In 2018 Vox reported on the expected rollout of the social credit system in 2020.

Under the system, both financial behaviors like “frivolous spending” and bad behaviors like lighting up in smoke-free zones can result in stiff consequences. Penalties include loss of employment and educational opportunities, as well as transportation restrictions. Those with high scores get perks, like discounts on utility bills and faster application processes to travel abroad.

Mask scolds and Karens in charge of the country’s COVID response wouldn’t dare cut you off from something you love … or would they?

Such a passport would seem to finish the job that ObamaCare started.

Wolf says it would violate the U.S. Constitution, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and HIPAA.

She says opponents need to fund a phalanx of lawyers to litigate every aspect of such a thing because if we don’t it would be the “end of civil society” in the west – unless you like a caste system, that is.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/02/2021 - 17:30
Published:4/2/2021 4:47:36 PM
[Health Care] Rep. Jim Banks: After 11 Years of Obamacare, Republicans Need to Become the Party of Health Care

When I first arrived in Washington four years ago, I firmly believed that Republicans weren’t just right on health care, but that we won the... Read More

The post Rep. Jim Banks: After 11 Years of Obamacare, Republicans Need to Become the Party of Health Care appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/18/2021 5:03:08 PM
[Markets] Biden's $15 Minimum Wage Plan Will Not Be In Stimulus Bill, Parliamentarian Rules Biden's $15 Minimum Wage Plan Will Not Be In Stimulus Bill, Parliamentarian Rules

Two weeks ago we discussed the fact that President Biden was about to run into "the most important person no one has ever heard of" - namely, the parliamentarian.

The sudden interest in the obscure official was because the parliamentarian determines which laws can be repealed (or passed) using budget reconciliation, the procedure by which the Senate can avoid a filibuster and allow legislation to pass by a simple majority.

This makes the parliamentarian the powerful procedural traffic cop on Capitol Hill, as all of the headlines asserted. MacDonough stopped Republicans cold when they tried using reconciliation to repeal some provisions of Obamacare, and she might soon rule that a provision in the COVID relief bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 is out of order.

Well, tonight we just discovered how powerful she is as Axios reports that the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the minimum wage increase cannot be included in the Democratic COVID-19 stimulus package.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough was playing referee under what’s known as the “Byrd Rule,” a 1980s construct of then-Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat and master of Senate procedures. The rule requires that anything done under the cover of the budget must be central to the country’s fiscal situation.

Extraneous provisions can be struck by the motion of a single senator, and it requires 60 votes to waive the rule - the same threshold as a filibuster.

We do note that Vice President Kamala Harris could overrule the decision, but the administration has signaled they will not do so (especially with Manchin already signaling he is not comfortable with $15).

“We’re going to honor the rules of the Senate and work within that system to get this bill passed,” Mr. Klain said on MSNBC.

This is a significant blow to the more progressive wing of the party who have insisted the $15 minimum wage bill be a part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

This means that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support.

Bear in mind that Republicans have introduced their own versions of bills to increase the minimum wage.

  • Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) proposed an increase to $10/hour by 2025. This bill, however, contains a provision that would mandate E-Verify for all employers to ensure the rising wages go to "legally authorized workers," which likely would not get any Democratic support.

  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced an alternative to the Democrats' proposal that would use federal dollars to increase low-earning workers' income. One foreseeable problem: the subsidy would disproportionally benefit those in states that have kept their minimum wages low.

But, of course, Bernie and his pals won't stand for anything less than $15!

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:54
Published:2/25/2021 7:01:48 PM
[Markets] Was Trump 'The Mule'? Was Trump 'The Mule'?

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Bunring Platform blog,

“Excellence, he is known as the Mule. He is spoken of little, in a factual sense, but I have gathered the scraps and fragments of knowledge and winnowed out the most probable of them. He is apparently a man of neither birth nor standing. His father, unknown. His mother, dead in childbirth. His upbringing, that of a vagabond. His education, that of the tramp worlds, and the backwash alleys of space. He has no name other than that of the Mule, a name reportedly applied by himself to himself, and signifying, by popular explanation, his immense physical strength, and stubbornness of purpose.” 

- Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire

“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.” 

– Isaac Asimov, Foundation

In March 2017, a mere two months after the stunningly unexpected victory of Donald Trump over the Deep State hand picked representative of dark forces – Hillary Clinton, I wrote a three-part article based upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, attempting to connect Trump’s elevation as the Gray Champion of this Fourth Turning to the plot of Asimov’s masterpiece. The three articles: Foundation – Fall of the American Galactic EmpireFoundation and Empire: Is Donald Trump the Mule?; and Second Foundation: Empire Crumbling, landed with a dud, generating few views and not many comments.

I thought it was a creative look at the fledgling Trump presidency, a Deep State intent on destroying him, integrated within the context of Asimov’s story of galactic subterfuge, controlling populations through mathematical mechanisms, and the rise of an individual upending the plans of elitists. I chalked up the dis-interest to the fact many people had never read the books, therefore could not relate to the comparison between Trump, the Mule, and Hari Seldon’s plan.

The other possibility was the fact I was already pondering Trump failing in his effort to defeat the Deep State and drain the Swamp. Trump supporters were still ecstatic with their victory, believing he could defeat the dark forces aligned against him, and resistant to the thought he might lose. Four years later, with the perspective of what has happened, we can honestly assess the suppositions I made in that article.

For those not familiar with Asimov’s trilogy, The Mule was a powerful mentalic mutant, warlord, and conqueror who posed the greatest threat to the Seldon Plan.

The plan involves the two Foundations. The First Foundation is the bastion of physical science and political order while the Second Foundation is a covert group of people hidden away who are experts in mentalics and psychohistorical prediction. Seldon’s science of psychohistory was outstanding at predicting the behavior of large populations but worthless in trying to predict what an individual might do.

The emergence of the Mule, a mentalic mutant with an acute telepathic ability to modify the emotions of human beings, could not have been predicted by the Seldon Plan, focused as it was on the statistical movements of vast numbers of peoples and populations across the galaxy. The Mule’s acute telepathic ability to modify the emotions of human beings derailed one of the basic assumptions of Hari Seldon’s psychohistory – that, in general, the responses of human populations to given stimuli will remain the same.

The Mule was the unpredictable variable in the equations of history and the greatest threat to the Seldon Plan. He disrupts the inevitability of the continued evolution of the First Foundation and potential early ending of the Dark Age. The Mule, through telepathic manipulation, defeats and takes over the Foundation’s growing empire, which has become increasingly control-oriented and out-of-touch with the outer planets in its rapidly expanding realm of influence.

The term mule invokes feelings of strength, stubbornness, and the ability to power forward despite obstacles. That description fits Trump perfectly and his ability to inspire millions of Americans through emotional appeals to patriotism and demonizing his left wing political and media enemies. His powers of persuasion weren’t mentalic, but his appeal to flyover country Americans was baffling to the liberal elites on the coasts and the RINOs who pretended to be conservative but were nothing more than grifters and neo-con warmongers.

I did not associate Hari Seldon with any particular person on the scene today when I wrote my article in 2017. Hari Seldon was an intellectual who created the Foundation, made up of other academic intellectuals. Then he set up a Second Foundation of even more talented intellectuals as a backup plan in case the Foundation failed. I saw Seldon and his ensemble of elitist academics and intellectual snobs as pompous control freaks on par with the Washington DC and Wall Street elitists like Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, Yellen, Powell, Dimon and Buffet. They constitute the Foundation.

The Second Foundation was hidden in plain sight, operating in the shadows, unknown to the masses, and controlling the galaxy from behind the curtain. They were the Galactic Deep State.

I now see the Seldon character as Bill Gates, a college dropout geek who lucked into becoming a multi-billionaire with one decent idea, who now portrays himself as an expert in medical science, vaccines, farming, climate change, population right sizing, social media censorship and politics.

His billions entitle him to pontificate his psycho-babble propaganda on captured corporate media outlets, much like Seldon using his psychohistory to predict the future. Billionaire egos are immense. Gates flies on his private jet around the world spewing CO2 while preaching the gospel of lockdowns, drinking reprocessed piss, and forcing the masses to eat synthetic beef and bugs to save the planet.

I see the Second Foundation as representative of the Deep State. This amalgamation of the likes of Clapper, Comey, Brennan, Clinton, Soros, Bloomberg, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Dorsey, Cook, Schmidt, Schwab, and plethora of other sociopaths in the government, media, military, academia, and corporate world spent the last four years attempting to neutralize and neuter Donald Trump (aka The Mule). These affluent, highly educated, narcissistic, sanctimonious, malevolent scumbags, who believe they are the smartest men in the world, operate behind the scenes as the invisible government, manipulating the mechanisms of society and pulling the wires controlling the public mind.

There is virtually no difference between Seldon’s psychohistory and Bernays’ propaganda. These sociopaths believe they are entitled to run the world as they choose, with no input or resistance from the ignorant masses allowed. When the basket of deplorables rose up and elected Trump, the Deep State went into overdrive to nullify and defeat him. My prediction about his presidency came to be, with my ending question still up for debate:

His first two months in power will likely reflect his entire presidency. The Washington establishment and sinister Deep State players will attempt to thwart Trump’s every move. They have already impeded his immigration controls and attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, while using their illegal surveillance state techniques to undermine his administration. The surveillance agencies, who are supposed to act on his behalf, are clearly trying to subvert his presidency. Leaks and fake news designed to sabotage the credibility of Trump and his administration will continue. Will the fear of retribution from mysterious surveillance state operatives convince Trump to fall into line and become a submissive lackey, no longer making waves for the Deep State?

The level of Deep State interference to undermine the Trump presidency reached extreme levels after those first two months of relatively minor meddling. What followed was a three-year Russia-gate farce as the DOJ, FBI and CIA conspired with Obama to unseat Trump by creating a fake Russia interference narrative based on a bullshit dossier, using it to have Comey weaponize the FBI against a duly elected president. Then his AG swamp creature allowed Mueller and his Hillary supporting cronies to torture Trump for two years before calling it quits with absolutely no charges. All along, the left-wing media cackled and crowed, producing a prodigious amount of fake news, which was duly called out by Trump.

The unrelenting negative coverage, despite successes on many fronts by Trump, revealed the true nature of the Deep State coup to overthrow a sitting president. The never-ending coup was ramped up again in 2019 as Pelosi and her flying monkeys – Chinese spy-shagger, Swalwell (aka the farter) and the socialist squad of hate mongers, drummed up a fake impeachment against Trump based upon a phone call regarding actual provable Biden family corruption in the Ukraine. The impeachment was a dead-on arrival political stunt to disparage Trump going into the election year.

But the Deep State coup de grace for cancelling and castrating Trump (aka The Mule) was the Covid conspiracy, which fell into the laps of Trump’s enemies through the accidental or purposeful release of a highly contagious, highly non-lethal flu virus from a Chinese bio-weapon lab, funded by Fauci and other U.S. governmental entities. After the impeachment charade imploded in January, and the Democrat presidential field of dementia patients, communists, whores, and morons pathetically made their case to replace Trump, a November victory seemed assured for Trump, as the economy was OK and the stock market was booming.

But then they were presented with a faux crisis, and as everyone knows – you can never let a good crisis go to waste. The Deep State, democratic governors, democratic mayors, the left-wing loving media, the Silicon Valley social media billionaire censorship tyrants, and Big Pharma combined forces to turn the nation into quivering cowering masked sheep, begging to be corralled and sheered by traitorous lying authoritarians demanding their acquiescence.

Throwing in systematic racism, elevating violent felon scum to sainthood, encouraging BLM and ANTIFA terrorists to burn cities, assault police, storm the White House, and blaming it all on Trump was a genius move. By using the Covid hysteria as a cover for demanding unlimited and uncontrolled mail-in voting, with no signature verification or time limits on counting votes, the Democrats assured themselves of certain victory in the limited number of swing states.

And still, Trump was on his way to victory again as of midnight on election night. This is when a halt was called by the Deep State, Dominion voting machines were “re-programmed” and suitcases full of “newly discovered” mail-in ballots appeared, with 97% of the votes going to Dementia Joe. He truly had put together the best election fraud team in history. That is why he never needed to leave his basement during the campaign.

Despite hundreds of documented accounts of massive voter fraud, eye witness accounts of fraudulent mail-in ballots, statistical analysis proving what supposedly happened with voting machines could not possibly happen, and the absolute laughability of Basement Biden actually getting 80 million votes, the Deep State co-conspirators closed ranks and did not allow Trump and his team a fair day in court to make their case. They had successfully stolen the election and accomplished their four-year long coup.

In order to ensure Trump did not rise again, Pelosi and her compadres used Trump’s powers of persuasion against him, by exploiting his peaceful January 6 rally in DC, as a means to lure some of his useful idiot supporters into entering the Capitol (with the Capitol police opening the doors), enticed by a bunch of ANTIFA/BLM provocateurs and taking selfies, stealing podiums, and milling around, until one of them got shot.

This fake news “armed insurrection” (despite no firearms used or confiscated) was then weaponized by Pelosi and her useful idiot followers to conduct an even more farcical impeachment of a president who was already out of office, playing golf in Florida. This tempest in teapot clown show of idiocracy played out over a few days, breathlessly covered by the MSNBC dullards and CNN dimwits, until it died under its own weight of superficial lunacy, with the Chief Justice refusing to preside and Democrat prosecutors caught doctoring evidence.

This failure to drive a stake through the heart of mule-headed Trump and insure he does not rise from the dead in 2024 to assume power once again, will not stop his vast number of enemies from keeping him stuck in Florida to live out his days on this earth as a failed president. Soros funded attorney generals across the land will hound Trump and his family with legal entanglements unless he promises to be a non-participant in government forever. Will the fear of financial retribution and consequences from a legal system that is stacked in favor of his enemies convince Trump to stand down? In my four-year-old article I asked these questions:

Will Trump’s reign resemble the reign of The Mule? The Mule’s conquest was astonishingly fast. He defeated the Foundation and established the Union of Worlds after only five years. The unpredictability of his arrival and rare mental talents befuddled the Foundation. Then he inexplicably paused in his campaign of conquests. Instead, he launched repeated expeditions in search of the Second Foundation. The Second Foundation, through unyielding pressure and generating fear of the unknown into the mind of The Mule, was able undermine his plans of conquest and turn him into a non-disruptive, toothless, nonthreatening, passive figurehead. As Trump’s best laid plans are obstructed, agenda foiled, and legislation hindered, will his enthusiasm for governance wane?

Based on what I have seen since the January 6 staged event at the Capitol, it appears Trump’s will to fight has subsided, even though he will continue to do interviews and give speeches to burnish his image as an outsider, continuing to fight for his 75 million followers. His influence didn’t help win the two Georgia run-off elections. It is highly unlikely he runs for president again in 2024.

He will utilize his popularity to invigorate his real estate and potential media empire. It will be all about the Benjamin’s from here on out. He surprised himself with his unlikely victory in 2016 and will be busy writing his best- selling book about the adventure in the near future. Trump TV is practically a given, but he will not be anything more than a thorn in the side of the Deep State (Second Foundation) going forward. He will no longer be a legitimate threat to their Plan.

Trump was a disrupting factor, disturbing the best laid plans of the global elitist establishment and revealing the hidden agendas of the Deep State. He had no support from the GOP establishment. In most cases, they undermined his efforts. He hired them into his cabinet and they continuously stabbed him in the back. Having your supposed allies work against you, in cahoots with the Democrats, surveillance state apparatus, all the alphabet agencies, and 90% of the mainstream and social media propaganda machinery, and you come to the realization we are ruled by a Uni-party of globalist elite using their immense wealth to manipulate and control the masses.

Sociopaths like Gates, Soros, Schwab, and Obama believe they are the smartest men on the planet and can pull the strings, making the puppet masses do as they command. Based on the last year, it appears they are right. The neutralization of Trump has convinced themselves of their invincibility. Their hubris blinds them to the wisdom of the bible – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Not only is the Great Reset, green new deal, communist doctrine implementation not going to reverse the downward spiral of the American Empire, but the last year of horrific political and financial decisions and imminent execution of the left-wing agenda through their empty senile vessel will accelerate the unavoidable collapse. MMT plus QE to infinity will surely solve all our problems.

The national debt went from $20 trillion when Trump was elected to $28 trillion today, and $30 trillion within the next year. It took 219 years to accumulate the first $10 trillion of debt, 9 years to accumulate the next $10 trillion of debt, and now less than five years to accumulate the next $10 trillion. Meanwhile, GDP has barely grown by 2% per year and household income has been stagnant for decades. Anyone who thinks this is sustainable, economically healthy, or representative of free market capitalism is either delusional or lying to promote their agenda of you owning nothing and being happy about it, while eating bugs and drinking processed piss.

Asimov’s trilogy documents the fall of the Galactic Empire, based upon the Fall of the Roman Empire, and written during the fall of the Third Reich. Whether Trump delayed or accelerated the Fall of the American Empire is inconsequential, as no one can reverse the coming collapse at this point. Technology does not improve human nature, create wisdom, or provide understanding. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued us throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Empires are created by corruptible men whose failings, flaws, and desire for power, control and wealth never change. Decades of blunders, awful decisions, incompetent leadership, dishonesty and unconcealed treachery have paved a pathway to ruin for the American Empire. The outward appearance of strength disguises the internal rot, which will be revealed when the coming storm arrives with suddenness and a surprising fierceness.

“Mr. Advocate, the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen with the ears of psychohistory, and you will hear the creaking.” 

– Isaac AsimovFoundation

The American Empire is crumbling under the weight of military overreach; the totalitarian synergy between Big Tech and Big Gov.; destruction of the Constitution by traitorous surveillance state apparatchiks; the burden of unpayable debts; currency debasement; cultural decay; civic degeneration; diversity and deviancy trumping common culture and normality; pervasive corruption at every level of government; globalist agendas; and the failure of myopic leaders to deal with the real problems.

In the last year we have crossed our proverbial Rubi-covid, willingly trading our freedom and liberties for the perception of safety. We’ve past the point of no return. Asimov’s analogy of the wolf, horse and man has never been more apt than now. In our present- day version, the wolf is a China flu with a 99.7% survival rate that only kills the old and infirm. The horse is the American public (and most of the global population) living in constant fear of a non-lethal virus killing them at any moment. No matter how irrational, they desperately want to believe “experts” who authoritatively declare the steps necessary to save the world from this scourge.

The man is an amalgamation of Gates, Soros, Fauci, and the petty authoritarian politicians (Cuomo, Newsom, Whitmer, Wolf, Murphy) wielding power across the land. The man offered to save the horse from the wolf on condition of being given the power to disregard the Constitution, lockdown the country, destroy small businesses, create mass unemployment, mandate masks, crush free speech (except during BLM and ANTIFA riots), suspend the 4th Amendment, force experimental vaccinations upon the masses, and create $10 trillion of new debt, giving most of it to Wall Street, mega-corporations, and Big Pharma. And as an added benefit, get rid of a president who did not cooperate with their Global Reset agenda.

“A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man’s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him.

The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him. “The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ‘Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.’ “Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ‘Never!’ and applied the spurs with a will.” – Isaac AsimovFoundation

So, today we find ourselves one year into “15 days to slow the spread” and millions of “horses” have asked the “man” to remove their bridle and saddle and restore our freedom. Miraculously, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have plunged since the insertion of Dementia Joe into the White House by his Deep State handlers. The vaccine and mask propaganda campaigns are being ratcheted up, emperor Gates is on TV every other day expounding on covid, climate, synthetic food, population control, and the need for more control by billionaires like himself.

As millions demand their freedoms back, Gates, Fauci, Soros and Schwab laugh loudly and proclaim we can never go back to the way it was. They will apply the spurs of the “New Normal” and “Great Reset”. We failed to heed the wisdom of Ben Franklin and will pay a heavy price for our cowardice and subservience to totalitarian global elitists. The Mule has been defeated.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin – 1775

*  *  *

The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/24/2021 - 17:40
Published:2/24/2021 4:52:03 PM
[World] Biden's Obamacare expansion: A costly solution in search of a problem

The American Recovery Act, the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion response to the COVID-19 pandemic, includes a $40 billion down payment on the president’s plan to “build on Obamacare.”

The bill’s expansion of Obamacare — also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — has nothing to do with the pandemic, ... Published:2/22/2021 5:39:38 PM

[World] Biden Administration Intervenes in SCOTUS Obamacare Case Published:2/11/2021 9:51:23 AM
[Biden Administration] Biden Justice Dept. Asks Supreme Court to Save Obamacare

The Biden Justice Department on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to reject a red-state legal attack on the Affordable Care Act, breaking with the department's Trump-appointed predecessors who argued the entire law is unconstitutional.  The High Court heard arguments in the latest Obamacare challenge on Nov. 10. A decision is expected by summer.  Recent Stories ...

The post Biden Justice Dept. Asks Supreme Court to Save Obamacare appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/10/2021 5:48:08 PM
[Politics] Biden Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Obamacare President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday told the U.S. Supreme Court that the Obamacare healthcare law should be upheld, reversing the position taken by the government under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.The court in November held oral arguments in a bid... Published:2/10/2021 3:19:50 PM
[Markets] If You Thought The 2020 Elections Were Chaotic, Just Wait If You Thought The 2020 Elections Were Chaotic, Just Wait

Authored by J.Christian Adams via The Gatestone Institute,

H.R.1 packs into one 791-page bill every bad idea about how to run elections and mandates that the states must adopt -- the very things that made the election of 2020 such a mess. It includes all of the greatest hits of 2020: Mandatory mail ballots, ballots without postmarks, late ballots and voting in precincts where you don't live. It includes so many bad ideas that no publication has satisfactory space to cover all of them. The Senate companion bill, S.1, might be even worse.

These bills rearrange the relationship between the states and the federal government. The Constitution presumes that states regulate their own elections, but the Constitution has a big "but" in what is called the Elections Clause. The Constitution says, "but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations." For over 200 years, Congress rarely used this power. After all, the power was put in the Constitution only to prevent the states from suffocating the federal government out of existence by never holding federal elections.

Do not assume that the bills will stall and wither in the process. They are named H.R.1 and S.1 for a reason. The bills are the top priority of the newly empowered Democrats in Congress.

Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of the last federal mandate -- 1993's Motor Voter law -- H.R.1 dispenses with the idea that an American should go affirmatively register to vote.

In 2020, states such as Nevada and New Jersey sent ballots through the mail to anyone on their registration lists despite having voter rolls full of errors. The Public Interest Legal Foundation documented thousands of ineligible registrations in Nevada alone that received mail ballots. Some were sent to vacant lots, abandoned mines, casinos and even liquor stores.

States also would be blocked by H.R.1 from signature verification procedures.

H.R.1 rigs the system for any lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. All lawsuits can only be filed in one court – federal court in the District of Columbia. And all opposition must be consolidated into one brief with only one attorney being able to argue the merits. It also grants automatic intervention to any legislators who want to join in the fight against the lone opposition.

It prohibits states from conducting list maintenance on the voter rolls. That means deadwood and obsolete registrations will stack up.

HR.1 and S.1 are omnibus bills that would change every American citizen's -- and foreigner's -- relationship to voter registration.

Universal automatic voter registration has, for years, been a top priority of the institutional left. In fact, H.R.1 would do away with actual voter registration and instead make the voter rolls merely a copy of anyone already on a government list -- such as welfare recipients and other social service beneficiaries. The bills would expand well beyond to federal entities like the Social Security Administration, Department of Defense, Customs and Immigration, and elements of Health and Human Services.

Naturally, a giant federal database would serve as the home for this list of people who must be automatically registered to vote, whether they know it or not.

Imagine the number of government databases in which your information is contained. Do your names and addresses all match? Does Social Security know you moved out of your birth state? Are your married and maiden names different? Did you get a driver's license before obtaining American citizenship?

You can see the pitfalls. One person will be "registered" to vote multiple times, with slight variation in names, and perhaps greater variation in residence addresses.

Making it "easier" to get registered to vote through automatic registration from government lists might seem attractive, until you consider the disaster of universal auto-mail voting as we saw in 2020.

H.R.1 and S.1 will force states to push ballots into the mail. It builds slack into the election system. Decentralized mail elections introduce error because of error-filled rolls. Mail-in ballots delay results, create uncertainty and push the elections into kitchens and bedrooms where election officials cannot observe the voting process and cannot protect the voter from coercion.

H.R.1 takes the absolute worst emergency rule changes of 2020 and enshrines them as federal law. Gone also are state witness and notary requirements during the mail ballot application process. Nor may states enact identification requirements of "any form" for those requesting a ballot. That means no more voter ID as a matter of federal law.

States also would be blocked by H.R.1 from signature verification procedures.

It gets worse. The 791-page bill also includes:

  • "Congress can reduce a state's representation in Congress when the right to vote is denied." Without qualification or definition, Congress could rely on this sentence unilaterally to cut the number of House members from any state it claims is denying the right to vote.

  • It criminalizes anyone who uses state challenge laws to question the eligibility of registrants wrongly. The penalty is up to one year in prison per instance.

  • It prohibits states from conducting list maintenance on the voter rolls. That means deadwood and obsolete registrations will stack up.

  • It criminalizes publishing "false statements" about qualifications to vote and "false statements" about which groups have endorsed which candidates. Information banned from being published includes false qualifications to vote and the penalties for doing so. What is a false statement will apparently be in the minds of the Justice Department lawyers who bring the charges. And if they do not act, the law provides a private right of action to individual plaintiffs to drag speakers to court. You can be sure this provision would be used as a merciless weapon against political opponents.

  • And in case it was not clear that H.R.1 was dismantling state power to run their own elections, the bill makes it clear: "The lack of a uniform standard for voting in Federal elections leads to an unfair disparity and unequal participation in Federal elections based solely on where a person lives." In other words, state laws which have the Constitutional authority to determine the voting eligibility of its residents, will be preempted by a federal uniform standard.

That is not all. Nationwide, states must accept mail ballots on Election Day plus 10 days later. States are allowed to add extra time to the window. No more election day. It will be election season, with a month of early voting and weeks of ballots arriving and being counted.

And of course, unlimited ballot harvesting -- having a third party "help" to fill in and gather up ballots, then drop them off at a polling station or other designated station -- is guaranteed.

Misinformation, protests, unrest, and even violence were all symptoms of the trauma of 2020. Activist groups and collusive officials in 2020 turned courts into weapons to transform state laws into election procedures that were favorable to one particular party. H.R.1 would finish the job, and federalize the policies and election procedures that made 2020 such a mess.

It is no solution to presume that federal rules, even if they were crafted the right way, would solve the problem. When Washington D.C. gets control over elections, the policy always skews in one direction.

I worked at the Justice Department, where career staff ignored federal laws they didn't like, and only enforced the ones they thought would help advance their political beliefs. Motor Voter, for example, had a federal mandate that states clean voter rolls. Guess what happened after that rule passed in 1993? No private enforcement actions were brought for two decades until I brought one against Indiana.

There is a federal mandate, passed in the 19th Century, to have one single election day. The bureaucrats in Washington in charge of enforcing that law ignore that law. Federal mandates are a one-way political ratchet. They always and only help one political party.

The nation has seen this line of thinking before. Like Obamacare earlier, H.R.1 transitions our federalist Republic to some other brave new system that purports to right generations of structural wrongs, while at the same time entrenching other wrongs. Unifying American experiences such as coming together to vote on one single Election Day, governed by rules passed by state legislators, well, to the authors of H.R.1, that is just old fashioned.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/09/2021 - 20:05
Published:2/9/2021 7:11:01 PM
[Markets] Biden Runs Into 'Most Important Person You Don't Know' Biden Runs Into 'Most Important Person You Don't Know'

Authored by Philip Wegmann via,

Introductions were in order just four years ago.

Republicans controlled not just the White House but also both chambers of Congress, and even in that moment of unified government at the beginning of the Trump presidency, their power was not complete.

Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan was strategizing with party lawmakers behind closed doors about how to accomplish the single most defining GOP promise of the 2016 campaign: repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The person to watch in the Senate, Ryan said, was “Elizabeth.”

Do you mean, one congressman asked, the junior senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren?

“No,” Ryan replied.

“Elizabeth, the Senate parliamentarian.”

As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, Ryan was talking about Elizabeth MacDonough.

The Washington Post would go on to introduce her as the staffer who “could change the course of the health-care debate,” while The Hill later called her “the most powerful person in Washington few have heard of.”

Politico summed up the story by calling the parliamentarian “Obamacare’s little secret.”


The sudden interest in the obscure official was because the parliamentarian determines which laws can be repealed (or passed) using budget reconciliation, the procedure by which the Senate can avoid a filibuster and allow legislation to pass by a simple majority.

This makes the parliamentarian the powerful procedural traffic cop on Capitol Hill, as all of the headlines asserted. MacDonough stopped Republicans cold when they tried using reconciliation to repeal some provisions of Obamacare, and she might soon rule that a provision in the COVID relief bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 is out of order.

This fact has triggered a fresh case of déjà vu and prompted a telling exchange in the White House briefing room on Monday. The parliamentarian is an unelected bureaucrat while Vice President Kamala Harris is the president of the Senate. A CNN reporter asked: Would the White House like to see Harris overrule the official to deliver on a key campaign promise?

“I think our view is that the parliamentarian is who is chosen typically to make a decision in a nonpartisan manner in terms of what can be included in a package that goes through reconciliation, the proper process for this to journey through,” press secretary Jen Psaki responded.

That short answer could signal a massive bucket of cold water on progressives’ hopes.

“Let’s be clear. We can pass a $15 min wage & $2000 checks,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna, a close ally of incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders. The California Democrat added that “the decision is not with Senate Parliamentarian but VP Harris, as chair. If the House passes (where we have a majority), & VP Harris rules it in, NO WAY any Senate Dem votes no on final passage.”

If progressives wind up feeling disappointed instead, conservatives can commiserate. Four years ago, it was Sen. Ted Cruz who argued that Mike Pence should disregard the parliamentarian and, as vice president, take a broader view of reconciliation.

“You don’t have to override the parliamentarian or get a new parliamentarian,” Cruz told reporters.

“Under the statute, it is the vice president who rules. It is the presiding officer who makes the decision. The parliamentarian advises on that question.”   

Cruz and others lobbied the White House to break with precedent, and a former senior administration official told RealClearPolitics that Pence and then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were briefed on the question of disregarding the parliamentarian. “Both were strongly opposed,” the official recalled.

As is true of Biden, McConnell has a strong affinity for Senate traditions and the chamber’s sometimes-arcane rules and procedures. And while the vice president remains president of the Senate, the role has largely become honorific -- except for certain occasions, as former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove explained in 2010.

“No vice president has ever tried to play a role in reconciliation. Basically, since Walter Mondale was vice president, they have kind of been co-opted by the president and given an office down in the West Wing. Their interest in playing Senate politics has become attenuated,” Dove said during a Georgetown Law School symposium.

“That has left the Senate parliamentarian in an extremely powerful position.”

The new president seems to have resigned himself to the fact that, even with control of both houses of Congress, an unelected official will decide whether or not his minimum wage increase can be passed. “My guess is it will not” be included, he told Norah O’Donnell of CBS News on Friday. “… I don’t think it is going to survive."

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/09/2021 - 12:00
Published:2/9/2021 11:16:32 AM
[Politics] California stands to win big as Biden, Democrats embrace Obamacare expansion

The Biden administration and Democrats in Congress hope to enact the most substantial expansion of Obamacare in its history.

Published:2/4/2021 4:35:40 PM
[cada39e5-af21-5dde-beeb-e0b5b4913980] Sally Pipes: Biden's health care plans – this is what Americans can expect from Democrats Last week, President Joe Biden signed executive orders that will re-open ObamaCare's insurance exchanges from Feb. 15 through May 15 and direct federal agencies to re-examine some of the health care rules enacted by the Trump administration.  Published:1/31/2021 1:10:20 PM
[Health Care] Biden Restores Taxpayer-Funded Abortions, Expands Obamacare

President Joe Biden issued executive actions Thursday to direct U.S. tax dollars to promoting abortion here and abroad, and to expand Obamacare.  The actions not... Read More

The post Biden Restores Taxpayer-Funded Abortions, Expands Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:1/28/2021 6:50:37 PM
[Markets] "Sell Mortimer": Short Squeeze Turmoil Triggers Market Rollercoaster "Sell Mortimer": Short Squeeze Turmoil Triggers Market Rollercoaster

And to think that it started off so well.

Amid media reports of investor "optimism" on the back of more fiscal stimulus and covid vaccine rollouts (when in reality said media was merely goalseeking a narrative to the higher overnight futures), the Emini started off solidly in the green, and at one point were set to make a breakout attempt at the all time high of 3,859.75, getting to within 8 points.... when at exactly 1045am, a trapdoor opened below the market, and the Emini tumbled a whopping 60 points in under minutes...

... a move catalyzed by a rollercoaster move in the most shorted names, the biggest of which - with 140% of its float shorted - was Gamespot, and which exploded as high as $159, a level it hit just minute before said trapdoor opened above, and sent the stock plunging. In fact, after more than doubling shortly after the open, GME at one point dropped as much as $100, turning red on the session before recovering losses...

... when a news report indicated that despite the massive move higher, the Short Interest in GME had barely budged and was still at ~140% of float, where it had been two weeks earlier.

And while GME was the star attraction of the day as the insane short squeeze continued, virtually all most shorted stocks exploded higher, with a bsket of the 11 Russell 3000 companies whose Short Interest is 50%+ of the float (which we listed on Friday)...

... exploding to record highs today.

The tremors as Reddit/WSB/Robinhood took on the established hedge fund crowd led to the first official casualty, when we learned that Mevlin Capital's Gabe Plotkin, who was heavily betting against some of the most popular short names, get a $2.75 bailout (margin call) from previous investors Citadel and Point72, who were forced to triple down or see their initial investment of $1 billion vaporize.

And while stocks did their thing, the real story of the day is that the Fed has broken the market so much, that a bunch of teenagers armed with "stimmy checks" can take on iconic hedge fund managers and steamroll them with impunity.

A less remarkable, if still notable observation, came from Bespoke, which note that today the market ended a streak of 51 trading days in which over 70% of S&P 500 stocks traded above their 50-DMAs - "the longest such streak since September 2009.”

Elsewhere, the VIX soared as one would expect, surging as high as 26.63 to coincide with the market drop, before fading more than half of the move...

... while 10Y yields - and the curve in general - spooked by the sudden selloff in stocks, slumped in a flight to safety...

... which also pushed the dollar higher

While commodities were relatively boring, there was a notable uptick in soybean futures, which rebounded modestly...

... after last week's drop which saw a 31 cent plunge on Tuesday last week, the biggest one day drop for the contract. As The Bear Traps report notes, "rain in Brazil has been favorable and the country is on track for a record 4.89B crop. Normally, that would be bearish for U.S. soybeans prices, but supplies are so tight, prices has thus far remained in the uptrend, but are beginning to see signs of weakness."

And yes, with prices rising across the commodity sector, inflation expectations continue to surge, prompting the question when - not if - the Fed will step in to contain this unprecedented liquidity tsunami.

And speaking of the Bear Traps report, earlier we noted that while it is easy to blame the market turmoil on the massive rolling short squeezes, Larry McDonald had a different take on what may prompt the game of musical chairs to stop abruptly.

Our 21 Lehman Systemic Indicators are screaming higher. The inmates are running the asylum and the probability of the Federal Reserve breaking out their creative “macro prudential” tool box is the highest in years. U.S. central bankers are no longer Trump constrained, the banking system is strong but the equity market has far more in common with Steve Wynn (Vegas) than Warren Buffett (Omaha).

We think the Fed sends a shot over the bow very soon. Our social justice, inequality embarrassed Fed is not happy. The will not taper but they can make serious threats to risk takers. We have an explosion of SPAC / IPO issuance, $850B of margin debt or 75% above 2015 levels, the most shorted equities up 75% vs. 16% for the S&P 500 since October (bulls running over bears), record high call vs. put volume with the little guy leading the charge SELL Mortimer Sell. The risk reward is atrocious from a long perspective in U.S. equities.

Impeachment Threat to Reflation: Moves to the Senate floor next week. Impact; 1 . Pushes out the Fiscal timeline.  2 . Similar to the GOP immediately trying to take down Obamacare, the signature achievement of the previous administration , on day one of the Trump administration. The move was Unwise and Not helpful to the fiscal policy path.

Remember, the tax cuts were sold to us as a certainty in Q1 2017, they didn’t arrive until late Q4 that year. In our view, this speaks to a potential rally in bonds / USD for the next few weeks.

Best case scenario, we have a $1.9T fiscal plan coming in late February early March with the current the bid / offer at $800B to $1.9T. However, any additional variant / mutations Covid risk increase will game the spread in the direction of the offer side if the  mpeachment doesn’t blow up the deal altogether.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/25/2021 - 16:05
Published:1/25/2021 3:26:55 PM
[Markets] Trump's Potential Legacy: 50 Million+ Enemies Of The State Trump's Potential Legacy: 50 Million+ Enemies Of The State

Authored by Tho Bishop via The Mises Institute,

Well, they finally got Donald Trump. But he sure scared the bejesus out of them.

It took a massive five-year campaign of hysteria, of fear and hate, orchestrated by all wings of the Ruling Elite, from the respectable right to the activist left. The irony, of course, is that the last actions of Trump’s presidency highlighted how little of a threat he, as an individual, truly was to the deep corruption in America’s government. Lil Wayne may be free, but figures like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Ross Ulbricht are not. The Fed’s big fat bubble has only gotten larger as Wall Street has thrived, while American workers continue to be "discriminated against."

If historians look back at simply the Trump administration’s policy legacy, the controversial nature of his tenure may confuse. A record of tax cuts, deregulation, runaway spending, an Israeli-Saudi-focused Middle East policy, criminal justice reform, and stacking the federal court with conservative judges on paper seems firmly aligned with the Republican Party of the modern era. Compromises on gun issues, the inability to replace Obamacare—or even reject its core tenets. His calls for larger stimulus relief would perhaps lead some to believe that he was relatively moderate in the current environment.

Looking back, Trump’s most radical act of governance may be his simple embrace of federalism in the face of the coronavirus. Whether this stemmed from a genuine belief in the limits of practical federal power or a desire to have the flexibility to blame governors if a state’s response became unpopular, the administration’s willingness to allow states to take the leading role in devising a policy response allowed for one of the greatest illustrations of the importance of political centralization in recent American history. Trump allowed Florida to be Florida and New York to be New York. The ability to compare state performance has been essential at a time when "medical experts" were being weaponized in support of covid tyranny.

All of this, however, would miss the true significance of the last four years. Trump’s legacy will be that of a political leader who, at a time when American politics was still adjusting to social media and user-created content, leaned into the polarization of American politics rather than pay lip service to "national unity." A critic would claim this comes from Trump’s unquenchable need to have his ego stoked. A supporter would see a man who understood the need to realign American politics—but the underlying motivations are irrelevant.

Trump’s impact on American politics may result in an even greater impact on the US government than his collaboration with Mitch McConnell on the judiciary.

A variety of polling indicates that as Donald Trump boarded Marine One to retreat to Mar-a-Lago, he does so with most of his voters believing he is the rightful president of the United States. One poll showed almost 80 percent of Republicans "do not trust the results of the 2020 presidential election." If we estimate that 75 percent of all of Trump’s 2020 voters hold this view, that leaves us with over 50 million Americans who believe they now live under an illegitimate federal government.

This reality terrifies Washington’s political class more than anything Donald Trump could have done while occupying the White House.

As Murray Rothbard illustrated in Anatomy of the State"What the State fears above all, of course, is any fundamental threat to its own power and its own existence." A vital part of the state’s existence is its ability to justify its action with a mantle of "legitimacy"—which in an age of democracy comes from the notion of the "consent of the governed."

The result of 50+ million Americans viewing the next president as a fraud imposed on the people is an inauguration taking place in a Washington, DC, that resembles a warzone, surrounded by soldiers whom the regime does not trust with their own ammo.

The downside of America’s regime acting from a place of fear is that it is likely to ruthlessly lash out like most violent predators tend to do. Since the actions at the Capitol on January 6, the corporate press has elevated a collection of "terrorism experts" who have explicitly called for the tools formed in the war on terror to be turned inward to deal with the growing Trump "insurrectionist threat."

As Glenn Greenwald notes, "No speculation is needed. Those who wield power are demanding it."

The upside is that the tremendous growth of federal powers has always been dependent upon the public’s understanding that such power was being wielded in their own defense. Therefore, democracy has, rather than being a public check against tyranny, more often been a way of peacefully empowering officials to get away with abuses that autocrats could only manage with explicit violence.

To quote Rothbard:

As Bertrand de Jouvenel has sagely pointed out, through the centuries men have formed concepts designed to check and limit the exercise of State rule; and, one after another, the State, using its intellectual allies, has been able to transform these concepts into intellectual rubber stamps of legitimacy and virtue to attach to its decrees and actions. Originally, in Western Europe, the concept of divine sovereignty held that the kings may rule only according to divine law; the kings turned the concept into a rubber stamp of divine approval for any of the kings’ actions. The concept of parliamentary democracy began as a popular check upon absolute monarchical rule; it ended with parliament being the essential part of the State and its every act totally sovereign.

As such, even if aggressive actions by the Biden administration to address the specter of a Trump-inspired insurrection have the explicit support of nominally Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy, how would such action be seen by MAGA America? If forced to choose, would someone like Governor Ron DeSantis align himself with a "bipartisan" effort from Washington elites or choose to be a leader of Biden-era resistance? Even if the resistance to a Biden administration is not ideologically libertarian or fundamentally "antistate," an explicit rejection of federal domination would be a vital first step toward the sort of political decentralization and self-governance that any peaceful political order ultimately requires.

Of course, all of this assumes that Trump’s base remains loyal—or at least remains hostile to the new regime. If Biden governs the same way he campaigned, by largely staying out of sight and avoiding making any bold statements and commitments one way or another, perhaps the public can be once again pacified and partisan divisions reduced to largely superficial differences, as has been the case for much of the current era.

If, however, the Biden administration governs more like the corporate press and blue Twitter wants him to - waging war on gender rolesprioritizing transgender issuespushing for job-killing economic policy during a pandemicacting unilaterally on immigrationpenalizing gun owners"reeducating" Trump supporterstreating MAGA like Al Qaeda, etc. - then the divides between Trump’s America and Biden’s America could become only further entrenched. And that is not even factoring in what happens if America experiences the hardship of an economic crisis.

Trump’s legacy will not be shaped by his actions—or even by how his enemies portray him. Ultimately, it comes down to his base and the movement he inspired. As Lew Rockwell noted in a recent interview with Buck Johnson, "The Jeffersonians were much better than Jefferson. The Taftians were much better than Robert Taft. The Trumpians tend to be much better than Trump."

Should skepticism of the 2020 election, fueled by a new administration's actions, finally convince 50+ million Trump supporters that the barbarians in the Beltway do not represent them and to react accordingly, then Trump’s presidency will be—despite his own actions—the disruption that America’s elites truly feared.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/24/2021 - 23:30
Published:1/24/2021 10:54:12 PM
[Markets] Federal Court Blocks Obamacare Mandate Forcing Doctors To Perform Transgender Surgery Federal Court Blocks Obamacare Mandate Forcing Doctors To Perform Transgender Surgery

Authored by Janita Kan via The Epoch Times,

A federal court has ruled to protect some doctors and health care providers from being penalized for refusing to perform gender transition procedures on the grounds of religious belief.

In a decision a day before Joe Biden took the oath of office, United States District Court Chief Judge Peter D. Welte from North Dakota granted a request to block the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from enforcing an Obamacare mandate that compels medical professionals and healthcare providers to perform gender transition services.

In 2016, the HHS issued a rule interpreting Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits certain forms of discrimination in healthcare, including sex discrimination.

The rule prohibited insurers and third party administrations from offering or administer health plans with gender-transition exclusions. The regulation also prohibited a healthcare provider from refusing to offer medical services for gender transitions if that provider offered comparable services to others.

The rule did not provide an exemption for religious grounds, arguing that Title IX’s religious exemptions only apply to an educational context. The department at the time also argued that “a blanket religious exemption could result in a denial or delay in the provision of health care to individuals and in discouraging individuals from seeking necessary care.”

The department instead explained that it would consider religious exemptions on an individualized case-by-case basis for claims under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

An order of Catholic nuns, a Catholic university, and Catholic healthcare organizations challenged the mandate under the RFRA, while the state of North Dakota joined the lawsuit to challenge the mandate under a federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act that governs rulemaking by administrative agencies.

The mandate was previously put on hold by a federal judge in North Dakota and was struck down in 2019 by another federal court in Texas. Under the Trump administration, HHS passed a new rule aimed at walking back the mandate. However, the 2020 rule was blocked by separate challenges in other courts.

Welte said in his decision that the plaintiffs have shown “an entitlement” for injunctive relief, saying that a violation under the RFRA is comparable to the deprivation of a First Amendment right.

“The Catholic healthcare entities’ refusal to perform or cover gender-transition procedures is predicated on an exercise of their religious beliefs protected by the First Amendment,” Welte said (pdf).

“Absent an injunction, [plantiffs] will either be ‘forced to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs’ by performing and covering gender-transition procedures ‘or to incur severe monetary penalties for refusing to comply,'” he added.

Attorney Luke Goodrich, senior counsel at Becket, a religious organization representing the plaintiffs, said the court’s decision “recognizes our medical heroes’ right to practice medicine in line with their conscience and without politically motivated interference from government bureaucrats.”

“These religious doctors and hospitals provide top-notch medical care to all patients for everything from cancer to the common cold,” Goodrich said in a statement.

“All they’re asking is that they be allowed to continue serving their patients as they’ve done for decades, without being forced to perform controversial, medically unsupported procedures that are against their religious beliefs and potentially harmful to their patients. The Constitution and federal law require no less.”

During his campaign, Biden had vowed to push LGBTQ rights as part of his agenda, including coverage for care related to gender transitioning and surgery. He signed an executive order on his first day as president to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual discrimination.

Xavier Becerra, who has been tapped by Biden to lead the HHS, had previously argued in favor of using taxpayers’ money to provide transgender individuals in North Carolina with coverage for gender transitioning surgery and treatment.

Some religious liberty advocates and people of faith are worried that the religious freedom protections implemented by the Trump administration could be rolled back under a Biden administration.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/21/2021 - 21:20
Published:1/21/2021 8:31:03 PM
[The Courts] Court Blocks Obamacare Transgender Surgery Mandate

A federal court blocked an Obamacare mandate that would compel doctors to perform gender reassignment surgery. An order of Catholic nuns challenged the mandate under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, arguing that it forces doctors to violate their consciences and medical judgment. A North Dakota district court judge ruled on Tuesday that nuns and other religious health care ...

The post Court Blocks Obamacare Transgender Surgery Mandate appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:1/20/2021 4:04:05 PM
[Markets] 25 Top Accomplishments Of President Donald J. Trump 25 Top Accomplishments Of President Donald J. Trump

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson via,

Daily - if not hourly - for four years, the media, analysts, political figures, operatives, and ordinary folk spoke out against President Trump and what they believe President Trump has done wrong. In the eyes of many, it is quite literally: everything.

As Trump finishes his term in office, it's easy to find negative, harsh assessments of virtually every facet of his policies and actions. The Atlantic, CNN and PBS are among those who have declared Trump to be the “worst president in history.” This side of the story has been well covered.

There are also lists of "how Trump could be prosecuted," and nearly every media outlet has its own list of "Trump lies." Click the links within this graph to read more about all of that.

As we know, roughly half of the country feels differently, but their voices are not as well-represented on the news and the Internet. Most media outlets cannot seem to bear to publish anything that is not one-sided and negative about Trump and his term. This begs for a bit of balance, even if it's dwarfed by the counter-narrative.

Built after consulting a variety of experts on the economy, national security, foreign policy and domestic issues, here is a short list that reflects “the other side” of the Trump presidency; one that is not so easy to find within today’s managed information landscape. 

25 Top accomplishments of President Donald J. Trump

1. Executive order enacted Jan. 1, 2021 requiring hospitals to provide medical prices to patients upfront so they can shop around.

2. Reversing the ascent of the Islamic extremist terrorist group ISIS.

3. “Most Favored Nation” executive order so that the U.S. (through Medicare) would pay no more for a drug than what’s offered to foreign countries, saving the U.S. an estimated “$85 billion in savings over seven years and $30 billion in out-of-pocket costs.”

4. Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to the capital of Jerusalem.

5. Building more than 450 miles of new and replacement border wall.

6. Leading U.S. to a level of energy independence (exporting more oil than importing for the first time in 70 years), allowing international policy decisions to be made with less regard to how an oil nation we once relied on would respond.

7. No new wars.

8. Drastic reduction in regulations, opening the door for entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, expand, and hire more people. According to the Trump administration, they promised to eliminate two regulations for every new one, but actually wound up eliminating 8 old regulations for every 1 new regulation adopted, equating into an extra $3,100 a year for the average American household.

9. Expanding Republican reach among African Americans and other constituents who traditionally lean Democrat.  

10. Cutting taxes in an initiative that benefitted every tax bracket.

11. Doubled the child tax credit.

12. Operation Warp Speed: accelerated development of coronavirus vaccines.

13. Eliminated the Obamacare penalty.

14. A series of trade agreements and changes seen as beneficial to Americans, including replacing NAFTA with USMCA.

15. Instead of 2-for-1, we eliminated 8 old regulations for every 1 new regulation adopted.

16. Provided the average American household an extra $3,100 every year.

17. Started the Space Force.

18. Instituted “Right to Try,” allowing terminally ill patients to use potentially lifesaving, unproven treatments.

19. Prioritized and made permanent funding for historically black colleges.

20. Brokered peace deals or normalization agreements between Israel and five Muslim and Arab-Muslim countries.

21. Banned the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” in the federal government.

22. Withdrew from Iran nuclear deal.

23. Withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.

24. Instituted a Buy American policy within federal agencies.

25. Achieved a $400 billion increase in contributions by NATO allies by 2024 with the number of members meeting their minimum obligations doubling.

Click here to see the White House list of Trump accomplishments

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 09:54
Published:1/20/2021 9:06:48 AM
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