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Consuming the Consumer?

Coming out of Thanksgiving, did you feel like this? Maybe I am blog confessing!

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Of course, this ad tells us it’s that time of year, not to mention that it’s a bit creepy. Right? Hopefully he is just being funny!IMG_1582

Which brings us to the real topic of being a consumer (since we are being bombarded with ads online and on TV that we need to shop)  and whether or not the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is protecting us, or slowing down business. (Is it causing Air Jordans to go up in price?)

The Agency was originally created under the Obama administration. It’s first director touts its accomplishments by stating that nearly 12 billion dollars were returned to consumers who were “cheated or mistreated by banks or other large financial companies“.

President Trump tweeted that the leadership of the CFPB “has been a total disaster as run by the previous Administrations pick. Financial institutions have been devastated and unable to properly serve the public. We will bring it back to life!”.

Here’s the politics as described in USA Today (article) It’s a story about dueling appointments and why.

On Friday, the original Obama-appointed pick stepped down and appointed his own replacement, his chief-of-staff. (Leandra English)  Under the law, the appointment names an acting director until the Senate can confirm a new pick of President Trump.

On Friday, Trump announced that he was appointing his budget director to also serve as the new acting director of the agency. (Mick Mulvaney) Mulvaney once characterized the consumer protection agency as a “sad, sick joke“.  Mulvaney said that he intends to head the agency and continue his current job, until a new agency director is appointed.

So the question for the courts becomes, does President Trump have the right to name a replacement until the Senate confirms a nominee, or does the current appointment by the prior agency director stand, until confirmation of a new appointee.

Why is this appointment so important. Well, if the supporters of the agency are right, then this agency protects consumers. If the Trump administration is correct, then the agency must be changed or dismantled because it creates major obstacles with his burdensome regulations.

Politics! The article details more about the agency. But this story and the upcoming appointment fight?  It makes holiday shopping and crowds seem like a walk in the park!

Finally, I guess I felt that I had license to post our first holiday pic o’ day. Here we go!

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Lincoln Media Versus Trump Media

Recently, I have seen messages on Facebook that are being passed around by Trump supporters, that basically say that never before has a President been so attacked by people and the liberal media. Then, they issue their “unbiased” request to “leave him alone and give him a chance“.

This isn’t a blog about whether to agree or disagree with how our President is being treated. Instead, I thought that a look back to Lincoln and the coverage of his Gettysburg Address speech might give you a smile.

First, just like many witnesses in car crashes, there was a difference of opinion about that day of November 19, 1863. Some memories in history:

One spectator noted that the weather was “bright and clear.” The Washington Chronicle reported rain showers.

Crowd estimates hearing the speech have ranged from 15,000 people crowding the town for the event. Others have recounted that there were over 100,000 people there.

Some went to their deaths insisting that Lincoln took a tour of the battlefield in the early morning hours on dedication day. Others swore that he stayed inside the Wills House until it was time to mount up for the procession to the ceremony (source)

Next is how the speech was reviewed by newspapers:

The Chicago Times reviewed the speech ,”The cheek of every American must tinge with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States”. This was the same newspaper that had described Lincoln by asking, “Is Lincoln less refined than a savage?”.

On November 23, 1863, they continued their assault on Lincoln and his speech with descriptions of  “ignorant rudeness,” “boorishness” and “vulgarity“, because they claimed that he included “political partisanship”..

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania newspaper known as The Patriot and Union, reviewed the speech and the President by saying that he, “acted without sense and without constraint in a panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead.” How about that meanness? 150 years later, they retracted their bad review of Lincoln’s speech. (Here at Time.com)

The London Times described the ceremony as “rendered ludicrous by some of the luckless sallies of that poor President Lincoln”. They were already known as a regular critic of Lincoln and his Presidency.

I could keep inserting more critical reviews of the speech, but I will end with one from his hometown paper. On November 24, 1863, The Illinois State Register gave this scathing review, “Nothing could have been more inappropriate than to have invited the prince of jokers, Old Abe, to be present at the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery,” the Register wrote on Nov. 24, 1863.

“But having been invited, it was hoped by his apologists that he would at least refrain from his clownish jokes about standing over the new-made graves of thousands who had been slain in the recent battle“.

History records that Lincoln faced harsh criticism. And the worst was yet to come.

So when I see people angered by the way that Trump is being criticized today, it fits in with seeing through personal opinion. That’s expected.  I don’t understand why they think that Trump is facing a liberal media like never before.

One thing for certain, it didn’t impact Lincoln’s Sense of humor. He had some great quotes. “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”. And he described tact as “the ability to describe others as they see themselves”. And finally, “If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.”  

See…some history and opinion.

I hope you have a great weekend. These are the good days!

And for our pic o’ day, sometimes I feel like this. Right?

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Fruit or Business?

Have you heard this before? Burdensome regulations stifle the economy, discourage job creation and slow economic growth?

Before we discuss, let me present this brief commercial on political donations:

Dow Chemicals spent over 13.6 million dollars on lobbying in 2016. Dow gave one million dollars to the President’s inauguration committee.   Dow Chief Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris was appointed by President Trump to lead the President’s Advisory Council on Manufacturing.

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President Trump is on record as saying that he wants to reduce regulations. He suggests the 2-for-1 method. For every new regulation enacted by such agencies as the EPA, there must be 2 old regulations eliminated. That serves as a backdrop to a recently filed lawsuit.

This story from the Los Angeles Times tells about a lawsuit that has been filed by several states, seeking to ban a pesticide that has been shown to harm the brains of children.

Several  states (shown in the article) are claiming that Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt violated the law by ending his agency’s effort to ban a pesticide that is being sold by Dow Chemical Co., after federal scientists determined that it can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

Federal law requires the EPA to ensure that pesticides are safe for human consumption. Children can be far more sensitive to the effects of pesticides.

Health advocates have been pushing to ban chlorpyrifos. It is currently sprayed on citrus fruits, apples, and cherries. Representatives for Dow have asked the Trump administration “to set aside” the results of government studies that show that it and all the products that contain it, pose a health risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has now formally urged the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos. This organization, representing more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons, said that it is “deeply alarmed” by Pruitt’s decision to allow the pesticide’s to continue to be used.

Dow’s position is that this has been used since the 1960’s and that more studies need to be made. And that they have already made modifications on its use.

In 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning the use of pesticides with food. Companies like Dow respond that there would be harms by not using pesticides.

Do you think this is a blog to convince you that regulations are right or wrong?  No… I want you to decide. Are “Tree-huggers” just overreacting?  It is a balancing act to protect business, consumers, our water, and our land.

Have a great weekend!!! And don’t forget to rinse off those apples before eating them!

And for our pic o’ day, here’s some expertise on nature:

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What About Gorsuch?

 

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I have had a few people, admittedly not many, ask me what I think of President Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court. For many voters, this was the reason that they voted for Trump. Specifically, they were concerned about who Hilary Clinton would nominate, if elected President.

So, many were able to put aside other “Trump issues”. It either became a vote of “anybody but Hilary” or “Vote Trump for the sake of the Supreme Court”.  Trump managed to even become the rallying choice of many churchgoers. Others just liked the idea of a Trump Presidency to just “shake things up!”. And here we are!

So who is Neil McGill Gorsuch? It’s easy to see the “resume material” by going to Wikipedia. And during his judicial career, he authored more than 200 decisions while serving as a federal appellate judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

He was included in over 800 judicial votes as part of the appellate majority opinion. Some of his opinions have been in favor of forced arbitration, which usually infers a leaning toward corporations who don’t want to be subject to jury trials. This leaning is also inferred from a 2005 brief that he wrote, while in private practice.

In that brief, he denounced class action lawsuits against corporations, by shareholders. He wrote, “the problem is that securities fraud litigation imposes an enormous toll on the economy, affecting virtually every public corporation in America at one time or another and costing businesses billions of dollars in settlements every year“. Then he took a shot at attorneys who handle these claims by noting that limitations on class action lawsuits by requiring arbitration also have the effect of causing, “the free ride to fast riches enjoyed by securities class action attorneys in recent years … to hit a speed bump”.

I don’t think that anyone could find a judicial nominee that they can totally agree with on all issues. Unfortunately, Senators now seem to find agreement, based on party affiliation.

I guess my fascination relates to the issue of whether judges should be confirmed because of their qualifications, or because of whether a Senator agrees with them on issues.

Past history used to be, that if a President nominated a potential judge, that the Senate would be predisposed to approve them. Because the Constitution does not list any qualifications for service as a Justice; the only consideration is Presidential nomination, and then approval by the Senate.

History has some great stories about the nomination process that includes President Reagan withdrawing the nomination of Douglas H. Ginsburg, because of reports that he had smoked marijuana. Going back to Justice Felix Frankfurter (great name for a Justice), he appeared before the Senate to answer questions as to whether he was a communist. And, Merrick Garland’s 2016 nomination will be an answer to a trivia question.

Will this next confirmation hearing give us more interesting history?

 

And for pic o’ day, this is completely unrelated to anything in the blog, except that it made me smile!

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More Harm Than Good

When David Prowse was hired to play Darth Vader for the first Star Wars movie, he prepared and spoke all of Darth Vader’s lines through the mouth of the suit. It wasn’t until he saw the first screening of the movie, that he learned that all of his lines had been dubbed over by the voice of James Earl Jones.

As we approach President Trump’s Thursday announcement of his Supreme Court nominee, I am reminded of David Prowse in that suit. Trump has stated that he will nominate someone “Like Justice Scalia”. Reportedly, Trump has narrowed down to three possible individuals. (here) If you scan those candidates, you might think like me and wonder “who is going to wear the ‘Scalia suit’?”.

Which brings me to one possible curious obstacle to President Trump’s wall building along the Mexican border. It comes from a majority opinion that Scalia wrote in 2015. (From the Opinion Pages of the NY Times)

Before the Supreme Court, an issue involving the Clean Air Act and whether the Environmental Protection Agency was correct in enforcing a provision to limit mercury emissions from power plants. And more specifically, whether such enforcement should balance the costs of enforcement to the power plants.

Scalia wrote that the EPA must consider the costs in such enforcement and that “No regulation is appropriate if it does significantly more harm than good”. The Secure Fence Act authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to take actions to enforce our borders when such actions are “necessary and appropriate”.

Now, this gives us a possible showdown at high noon, sometime in the future. The next Supreme Court Justice will be part of the Court who is expected to be faced with some case involving the”Trump Wall”. Will Scalia’s 2015 reasoning be the Court’s guide? Will the expense of the wall (15-25 billion) not be justified because of the amount of illegal immigrants still entering the U.S.? The cost will be do harm than good?

And for pic o’ day, “On the fence”:

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Monday’s Debate Talk

Some think it’s the Super Bowl of politics. Tonight is the Presidential campaign debate where Clinton and Trump will face off at Hofstra University. The debate is scheduled as a 90 minute commercial free head-to-head.

Political strategists and TV executives are predicting a TV audience of over 100 million. The previous highest viewing audience for a presidential debate goes all the way back to the days of Ronald Reagan versus Jimmy Carter in 1980. That was about 80 million.

We now have the possibility of turning to several channels before the debate to hear pundits tell us what each candidate must do to win the debate. Then, after the debate, we can turn to various channels to be told what we just watched. It’s nice that we don’t even have to think anymore. Tomorrow morning, we can learn who “won” the debate because of some flawed survey that allows some “expert” to charge for the after-debate survey findings to tell us what people think… so we know what to think.

To me, it seems that this presidential campaign seems to be more about who to vote against, rather than vote for. At least that’s how it seems to be playing out.   Plus, this debate seems to hold the possibility for insult and disaster rather than the possibility of learning something new about the candidates.

It’s about watching the debate tonight with the possibility of talking about the one-liners and zingers tomorrow. Happy Monday!

 

And for pic o’ day

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Eyebrows and Love

First, how’s that for a blog title? Did it grab your attention? I think that’s what they call “click bait” but I figure that anything goes for our weekend blog… right?

First, when I was 16-years-old, I worked at Roses Deparment Store. I was called the assistant manager of the Toy Department and the Stationery Department. The reality was, that the full time workers all went home and the store was run by a bunch of teenagers. Retail at it’s finest.

I was making minimum wage as the “Department Manager” and that bothered me. So, I used to always ask the manager for a raise and he would just laugh. Then, I would ask if he wanted me to give minimum work for minimum wage… and he just laughed.

I remembered that life experience when I saw this story on Donald Trump at Foxnews.com. I won’t spoil the surprise of the story. Wait, What? It’s no surprise? Exactly!

In the article, Trump brags about not paying contractors. He justifies it by saying that if he wasn’t pleased with their work, he wouldn’t pay them. Or, he would withhold payment if he felt that they didn’t do a great job. His mentality was that he was only going to pay minimum… for minimum. That’s why I thought of my wonderful retail days at retail.

Fox portrayed the Trump payment schedule in as favorable a light as possible. It even sounds worse here at USA Today. I think that it’s one of those “it’s all how you look at it”. If you aren’t a Trump fan, then you just think that he is scum. If you are a fan, then it’s good business.

But I don’t want to focus on that. How about some fun pic o’s for the weekend? It’s why I titled this Eyebrows and Love!

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Have a great weekend!!!

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