Saturday Report 9/30/23 - What will be the impact of homes being unaffordable for 99% of Americans?
The Best of the Rest of the News
— Are we on the verge of an imminent shutdown over “nothing?” While the media likes the “Seinfeld shutdown” meme — a shutdown about nothing — the fact is that this shutdown is very much about something. A few somethings, in fact, and it’s media malpractice that every American doesn’t know it. First, it was demanded by Trump because he knows that when presidents run for re-election during a recession they almost always lose, and a prolonged shutdown will throw America into a recession that could easily last until the November, 2024 presidential vote. In that regard, this could be regarded as pure vandalism (evoking the original Vandals). Second, the so-called Freedom Caucus, heavily funded by rightwing billionaires who slap “freedom” all over everything they pay for, wants massive cuts to social programs and another tax cut for billionaires. To that end, the proposal that McCarthy put up for a vote yesterday had fully 30% cuts to: Housing subsidies for the poor; Medical research for cancer and other diseases; Social Security employees who process new applicants and claims; Nutrition aid to Women and Infant Children; Nutrition aid to pregnant mothers; Head Start; the Environmental Protection Agency (a particular enemy of the fossil fuel billionaires who fund the Freedom Caucus); Toxic waste cleanup; and over a dozen other government programs. It would also establish a new “Catfood Commission” to “study” ways to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits to keep taxes low on billionaires who hate paying for such things for average people. Third, those Republicans aligned with Putin want the government shut down to stop aid to Ukraine (this is also a secondary goal of Trump’s) and the Republicans’ House resolution strips out all aid for Ukraine. Republican Senator Rand Paul, another Putin acolyte, is trying to block a continuing resolution in the Senate as well, as long as it contains aid for Ukraine. And, fourth, the MAGA House members want Americans to lose faith in American democracy so we’ll be more likely to embrace a fascist populist like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or Glenn Youngkin (who I’m betting on) who will promise to “whip things into shape” like Mussolini did in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s. None of these things are secret; they’re just well hidden in most mainstream media reports. Buckle up for a long, hard slog if these House members get their way.
— Chief justice urged to make Alito and Thomas step aside in megadonor cases. Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas (and possibly John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch) have been on the take for decades from rightwing billionaires who are funding several cases coming before the Court this term, including one that could produce a $400 billion a year tax cut for corporations and the morbidly rich and another that would gut most federal regulatory agencies. Over 40 good-government groups have written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts asking him to force Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves from these cases; this Court has already proven itself to be so corrupted by Republican politics and rightwing billionaires that it’s about as popular as a basement full of cockroaches. Although it’s not going to happen as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives, if Democrats take control of the House and hold the Senate and White House in 2024 their first order of business must be reversing the corrupt Citizens United decision and getting the Court under control. Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution is unambiguous: “[T]he supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” Congress must expand the Court, impose a code of ethics, and should seriously consider requiring a higher threshold than a simple majority for decisions based on constitutional questions. The rightwing billionaires’ 40-year campaign to seize total control of the Supreme Court (after buying up virtually the entire GOP) has succeeded and the result is enormously destructive to America and democracy itself. Democrats must act if and when they have the ability.
— Trump’s NY fraud trial starts next week and it’s probably not going to go well for him. After the judge in his civil fraud trial (based on charges from NY AG Letitia James) ruled in a summary judgement that Trump has been committing major financial fraud for years, the other six charges against him go to trial this coming week. They include conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records and James is asking for a $250 million fine as well as the revocation of the Trump Crime Family’s ability to do business in New York State. The evidence is overwhelming, there could well be cameras in the courtroom, and Trump’s corrupt children are subpoenaed: this might end up the trial of the century, in large part because the federal cases against him won’t be televised. Stay tuned: if he’s as broke and indebted as some reporters have argued for years, this could bring The Rapist Who Would Be King to his knees.
— They’re prosecuting the Trump officials who tore kids from their families! Three families from El Salvador and Guatemala are suing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former head of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen for tearing their children away from them at the southern US border and the judge in the case has required the two defendants to finally answer for their crimes. The court has already determined that those two were principally responsible for conceiving and executing that brutal, inhumane policy, and hopefully they’re held fully accountable for the lifelong scars they’ve inflicted on thousands of children (over 800 of whom are still missing, trafficked into so-called “Christian” adoption services that then melted into the woodwork).
— What will be the impact of homes being unaffordable for 99% of Americans? In 2011, the median home price in America was $177,000, the minimum wage was $7.25, and the real median wage was $33,650. Today the minimum wage is still $7.25, the median wage is up a wee bit to $40,480, but the median home price in America is $407,100. The result is that 99 percent of Americans today can’t afford to buy a home at the median price, creating a crisis in economic mobility and homelessness. This home price inflation is being driven by hedge funds buying millions of houses and flipping them to rentals and foreign billionaires squirreling their money away in US residential real estate: both things Congress should outlaw.
— “Danger Will Robinson” Alert!! The architect of the Texas abortion ban is trying to get his hands on thousands of patient records! Over on her brilliant Substack newsletter Abortion Every Day, Jessica Valenti is reporting that the lawyer who conceived the Texas “bounty” law against people who help Texans get abortions is now demanding, via a lawsuit, the names and medical details of Texas women who’ve gotten abortions. “Attorney Jonathan Mitchell,” Valenti writes, “the architect of Texas’ abortion ban, is targeting abortion funds and providers to get the names and information of thousands of patients, staff, volunteers—even donors. Mitchell served discovery requests for the information a few weeks ago, trying to get a court to force the funds and docs to hand over information about people’s identities—as well as detailed information about the abortions they supported. … [T]he point of getting this information—in addition to plain old harassment—is to find people to sue. Because remember, SB 8 allows anyone in the state bring a civil lawsuit against those who help someone obtain an abortion. (Like this guy, represented by Mitchell, who sued his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her get abortion medication.)” This is what happens when you put Republicans in charge of a state: no woman is safe, and in several Red states neither are her friends or family.
— Geeky Science! Why is ADHD So Often Overlooked & Misdiagnosed in Older Adults? More often than not, doctors mistake ADHD in older (over 50) adults for dementia or having had mini-strokes, and when they do diagnose it correctly they’re less likely to offer stimulant medications because of their impact on heart attacks and strokes in older adults. I write about this at length in our new Substack newsletter, ADHD: Hunter in a Farmer’s World. If you or anybody you know experiences difficulty focusing on boring tasks but can totally focus when presented with a novel or exciting experience, check it out.
— Good News! All electric big-rigs are coming. In just the past two years, the range of 18-wheeler big-rigs run on electric power has doubled and the time it takes to
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