Saturday Report 5/7/22 - Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!
The Best of the Rest of the News
Louisiana wants to be the first state to execute a woman for getting an abortion. Louisiana uses lethal injection to kill residents convicted of murder, and Republicans in the Pelican State’s House of Representatives yesterday successfully passed out of committee a new law defining abortion as murder. It still needs to pass the state’s house and senate and be signed by the governor, but this surely defines the direction many red states are heading. The new law was written in part by Rev. Brian Gunter of First Baptist Church in Livingston, Louisiana, who told a local newspaper he could hardly wait to see a murderous woman in the execution chamber. “No compromises; no more waiting!” Rev. Gunter told Lafayette’s largest newspaper. Meanwhile, the Republican Study Committee and Mitch McConnell — looking at polling showing as many as 74% of American voters want Roe v Wade-type protections for abortion to continue — are advising Republicans to avoid talking about the subject. As well, Senator Rick Scott’s RSCC is advising Republicans to talk, instead, about how Democrats are trying to ruin the country with wasteful spending on things like Social Security and Medicare (which he wants to end in 5 years), while McConnell and the Study Committee are telling GOP candidates and friendly media to focus their outrage “on the leak and the leaker” rather than the anti-abortion substance of Alito’s leaked draft opinion. (Joni Ernst apparently didn’t get the memo: she and Ted Cruz are calling for a nationwide law that would emulate Louisiana.) Over at the Supreme Court, after ruling in 2014 that it was unconstitutional and thus illegal for abortion clinics to put up fences and deny protestors their First Amendment right of free speech, the Court this week put up an “unscalable wall” and concrete barriers around their own building. Hypocrisy, anybody? All of this news, in total, suggests this issue could do real damage to Republican prospects this fall.
How badly will Fed Chair and Trump appointee Jerome Powell damage the economy…and just in time for the election? In a country with a stable currency like the US, inflation — a deterioration in the value of the dollar — is usually the result of an imbalance between either demand or supply of goods and/or services. (Some countries have, historically, inflated or debased their currencies by printing too many dollars or its equivalent, but that’s not what’s happening here.) In our case today, inflation is being caused by imbalances in both demand and supply. Just like the inflation spike the world saw in the two years after WWII, demand has rebounded after being suppressed for two years during the Covid pandemic causing inflation worldwide (inflation is at 7.7% right now in the European Union). And just like the inflation of the 1970s was caused by Saudi Arabia cutting off our oil supply over the war with Israel, the supply of both oil and manufactured goods from China have now reached crisis levels here. In 2020, when oil’s price was bottoming out around $30 a barrel, then-President Trump helped Saudi Arabia put into place a 2.2 million-barrels-a-day oil production cut, which raised the price to the point where the kingdom was no longer losing money pumping oil. Now that demand has rebounded and is driving the price of oil over $100 a barrel, the Saudis are refusing to undo that 2.2 million barrel cut — and even refusing to take calls from President Biden — after MBS having given $2 billion to Jared Kushner, $1 billion to “foreclosure king” Steve Mnuchin, and who-knows-how-much to Trump’s secret offshore accounts. The result of the spike in oil prices is inflation, which simply takes time to flush out of the system (typically 4-5 years) once the price re-stabilizes. In an infamous replay of Abraham Maslow’s old saying that, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” Fed Chair Powell is rapidly raising interest rates to “cool off” the economy. Which it surely will do, although it does absolutely nothing about the two of the three causes of this inflation in oil and Chinese-goods supply, and will only help reduce consumer demand in a small way. Inflation will come down as world oil supplies rebalance when the Ukraine war is over and China gets back to shipping, but Powell is committed to giving us a recession, just like Republican Fed Chair Paul Volker did back in the day when he pushed interest rates to over 20% and destroyed Jimmy Carter’s hope of winning re-election. Powell is a Republican and a former bankster; no friend of the Democrats currently in power. And it shows.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has an election-year strategy: go after the children of refugees and immigrants. Abbott, apparently trying to follow McConnell’s advice and get off the topic of abortion, told a right-wing talk-show host this week that he was going to try to block immigrant and refugee children from attending Texas public schools. In 1982 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects all “persons” in the US, not just “citizens,” but Abbott knows from 40 years of GOP experience that running against the Supreme Court is often a winning strategy for Republicans, regardless of how many people ultimately are harmed. First they came for the women; now they’ve put children in their cross-hairs.
Speaking of the Supreme Court again (how can we avoid it?), they’ve opened a new can of worms around religion (surprise!).