Despite Trump’s promises, US coal consumption continues to decline.

The New York Times reports: While President Trump has offered some regulatory relief to the industry, market forces still dictate a gloomy future — one largely shaped by the glut of cheap natural gas yielded by the drilling boom in shale fields near here and across much of the nation.

Last year, coal consumption in the United States fell by 2.4 percent, falling to its lowest level in nearly four decades. In the early weeks of 2018, national coal production has continued to decline from a year ago despite the frigid winter. A weather-related increase in exports last year yielded a modest gain in jobs, but it is not considered sustainable.

In addition there is a shift towards different sources of energy.

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Has this message been lost in the Australian politicians?

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The recent antics of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer would suggest that Australian policy makers have a long way to go.

It is also a warning that government policy makers, however active and determined, and no one would argue that Donald Trump was either of these, can do little in the face of the relentless march of market forces.

 

Donald Trump and the problem of his tax returns

Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump steadfastly refused to release his tax returns claiming that it would be inappropriate because he was under investigation by the IRS.

Now his excuse for not releasing his tax returns is that he won the election and clearly people don’t care about his tax returns.

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 The Trumpster gives his standard response to anybody who disagrees with him

It may be that people don’t care about his tax returns and the fact that he hasn’t paid any income tax for over a decade. But it does seem unlikely.

Certainly Trump has no basis for maintaining that the American public is not interested in his financial affairs and potential conflicts of interest they will create.

Not on the basis of the way the votes were cast.

The results from the US presidential election indicate that Hillary Clinton got 48% (65.9m) of the votes while Donald Trump got 46% (63m). Because of the gerrymander of the US political system this was enough to give Trump a majority of the Electoral College votes.

It would appear that the total turnout of the US electorate was around 56% of which the  two major candidates got roughly 26% each.

You can be pretty certain that the 26% voted for Hillary Clinton would all want to see the Trump tax returns made public.

There is also a possibility, however remote, that some of the people who voted for Donald Trump would also think that he should make his tax returns public.

As for the 45% who didn’t vote, it’s impossible to estimate what they think.

But there is no logic in Trump’s claiming that because he won the election, people are not interested in his tax returns.

It is highly that as his presidency continues and more information about his business dealings in Russia becomes public, interest in his tax returns will intensify.

The seeds of the problem are already being sown.

In his Senate hearing, James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, told the Senate armed services committee that Russia has “chosen to be a strategic competitor, an adversary in key areas”.

While Mattis said he was “all for engagement” with the Russians, he warned of “increasing number of areas in which we will have to confront Russia”.

The American public has a right to know that the US president does not have business interests and obligations in Russia that will preclude him from doing this.

Donald Trump and the part-time presidency.

I can’t help myself.

Fellow bloggers will understand. There is a deep compulsion that drives us to write. Particularly in the face of overwhelming stupidity, mendacity, pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

So Donald PG Trump will be a source of irresistible inspiration. Please bear with me for the next four years.

In his most recent press conference, generally described as a train wreck, he said that

He has “no conflict of interest provision as president” and that he would be free to run the Trump organisation and the government at the same time if he wanted.

Nevertheless, he said he had decided against it.

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It staggers belief. The man thinks that the job of President of the United States can be done on a part-time basis.

It makes you wonder if he has any idea what the task involves.

He has said he is handing control of the Trump organisation to his two sons.

(L-R) Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump attend the ground breaking of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington July 23, 2014. The $200 million transformation of the Old Post Office Building into a Trump hotel is scheduled for completion in 2016.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron    (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS REAL ESTATE) - RTR3ZUF0

Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., 

Was it me? Or did he appear to forget their names during the press conference?

There must be many people in the US who despair and think that they now have a President who will simply be incapable of doing the job.

 

Will the US presidency survive Donald PG Trump?

If it does, and it probably will, it will be in a greatly weakened form and disillusion with the US political system will have greatly increased.  A downward spiral has probably already begun even before his inauguration.

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The content of the latest, breaking news is irrelevant but this is what is important is that it is being printed at all. And it’s getting coverage in the mainstream press.

Russia has evidence of ‘perverted acts’ committed by Donald Trump: unconfirmed reports

Russia cultivated Donald Trump for years before the 2016 election and holds compromising material on the President-elect’s involvement in “perverted sexual acts”, according to a series of explosive but unconfirmed memos made public today.

The memos, produced by a British intelligence operative, contain extensive details of efforts by Russia’s intelligence community, directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to sway the outcome of the US election.

The reports suggest that he hired prostitutes to perform a sex act commonly known as a “golden shower” on a bed where the Obamas had previously slept.

Now it doesn’t really doesn’t matter whether this is true or not.

The problem is that it is now becoming increasingly common for the Office of the President, or at least the soon-to-be inaugurated incumbent, to be subjected to this type of ridicule and that such scurrilous material can be reported without any self-censureship by the media.

Another problem is that it is unlikely that there will be any change in his behaviours when he is President. In fact, exactly the opposite is likely to occur.

He will probably see his election as an endorsement of his actions and attitudes of the past.  Or at least that people don’t care what he does

“Grab them by the pussy” will probably become the mantra in the back rooms and dark recesses of the White House.

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The Trump women appear forewarned.

It is likely that the attacks from the left and liberal media will make the right-wing campaigns against Barrack Obama look mild by comparison.

Regardless of what you may think of the Trump presidency, the effect of this will be disastrous.

The US stumbles towards the new Dark Age

It is likely that the presidency of Donald PG Trump will be characterised not by what he does or is unable to do (building a wall, expelling Mexicans) but by what he will destroy.

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Scientific progress is, by its nature, necessarily slow. The gathering, testing and re-testing of evidence is as slow as it is painstaking. So it takes time to demonstrate that climate change is being caused by human beings. It takes time to demonstrate that vaccines do not cause autism.

 It takes only a tweet, particularly from someone who is one of the most powerful people in the world, to arm and encourage the opponents of science.

 If the president says that the jury is still out on the theory of evolution, the creationists gain strength. If he appoints a creationist as Secretary of Education, he weakens the teaching of evolutionary theory which in turn weakens the teaching of science more generally. But it also encourages the teaching of creationism, made all the more dangerous because it is taught as an alternative form of “science”.

We must be very clear that this represents a step back towards the Dark Ages.

 The same applies to the appointment of climate sceptics to agencies responsible for environmental protection.

 It also applies to the appointment of anti-vaxxers to scientific panels and health regulatory bodies responsible for ensuring the health of a nation’s children.

Trump taps vaccine sceptic to head panel

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Robert F Kennedy jnr son Bobby Kennedy, a former United States Attorney General

Prominent vaccine sceptic Robert F Kennedy jnr, who will lead a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, has linked some vaccinations to autism, a belief the President-elect appears to share.

Kennedy has been a notable proponent of nonmedical exemptions for parents who seek to prevent their children from being vaccinated, which is mandatory in most states.

He has argued that mercury-based additives in vaccines explain the link to autism. And he has alleged that government scientists, journalists and pharmaceutical companies have colluded to hide the truth from the public.

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said at the premiere of an anti-vaccination film screening in California in 2015. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Appointments such as Kennedy’s are extremely dangerous because the damage that can be done to existing scientific thought and science-based policy can be well-nigh irreparable.

“The lights will be going out all over America, we may not see them lit again in our life-time.” ( apologies to Sir Edward Grey)

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Welcome to life on Planet Trump

Family Trump Inc is clearly planning to cash in bigly on Donald P. G.’s presidency (or should that be precedency?)

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 The Trump family: a lot of mouths to feed

Time reports: A new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering access to the freshly-minted president during inauguration weekend — all in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation” charities, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

(L-R) Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump attend the ground breaking of the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Building in Washington July 23, 2014. The $200 million transformation of the Old Post Office Building into a Trump hotel is scheduled for completion in 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS REAL ESTATE) - RTR3ZUF0

Eric Trump and  Donald Trump Jr. – two fine young men

 The way that charitable trusts operate in the US is that they don’t need to disclose who donors are or who they donate the money to.  More importantly, they don’t need to disclose the fees paid to directors.

Offering photo opportunities with President and Trump memorabilia is to for many US systems their 15 minutes of fame (banana not included).

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Last week, Ivanka pulled out of an auction for invitations to a coffee date with her. Too tacky, apparently.

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 Move over Kim Kardashian

Things like this are relatively small beer, but they are an indication that the new president  and his family will have their eyes firmly fixed on the main chance.

It may be a while before the voters of the midwest realise that Trump’s election is not going to benefit them economically and wake up to the fact that they have been conned.

My bet is that it will be around the time of the mid-term Congressional elections.

Bankers, billionaires, climate sceptics and creationists, Trump builds a cabinet to make America great again.

Wall Street wins again as Trump picks bankers, billionaires

After Donald Trump ridiculed Wall Street on the campaign trail, the President-elect tapped former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin to be his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. Trump even met with Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn inside Trump Tower.

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Mnuchin gathered billionaires including George Soros and John Paulson and assembled a $US1.6 billion bid to buy IndyMac. They rebranded it OneWest and sold the bank in August 2015 for $US3.4 billion.

It carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during Mnuchin’s reign, according to the nonprofit California Reinvestment Coalition, which accused OneWest of shoddy foreclosure practices and avoiding business in largely black or Latino neighbourhoods, claims the bank has denied.

So much for “draining the swamp”. More than half of Trump’s nine key appointments to date are considered to be accomplished insiders from Washington and Wall St.

So, if the people who voted for Donald Trump were amongst those who are affected by mortgage foreclosures and lost their houses and were angry at the bankers who tossed them out onto the street, the Trumpster has now appointed one of the people who benefited from their misfortune to his cabinet.

9920f18e-ac5a-4dc6-87d4-5b0e545d037eDonald Trump’s message to the people who voted for him

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 Because he is a neophyte politician, Donald Trump does not yet realise that many electors do expect person they voted for to keep the promises, no matter how outrageous or unachievable they may be.

How to be world-famous.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor gets 515,000 results on a Google search.

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Is Pamela Ramsey Taylor the face of the new America?

I get 11, including one report (greatly exaggerated) of my death in Boston. That makes Pamela over 50,000 times more famous than me.  Not that she is likely to be very happy about it.

On Monday, Pamela Ramsey Taylor of Clay County posted:

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House,” the post read, according to local news station WSAZ 3. “I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling chimed in, commenting on the post: “Just made my day, Pam.”

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Beverly Whaling may be feeling a little more circumspect today

Taylor — who has already been removed from her position — is filing a lawsuit against those who have “slandered” her.

 It’s not the appalling racism and the attack on one of the world’s outstanding citizens that amazes me.

 It’s the sheer stupidity of posting something like this online. Bigots like Pamela Ramsey Taylor must feel greatly empowered by Donald Trump’s victory.

Is Clay County Trump territory? You betcha.

Two-tenths of a per cent of Clay County’s residents are African American, according to US Census data. More than three-quarters of the presidential votes cast in the county went to Trump.

Blog site PoliTicks writes: This is the ultimate irony of the anti-“political correctness” crusader – they say something horrendously racist and then feel victimized when they have to face consequences for their actions. Despite what the electoral college victory of Donald Trump might say, America is not a nation where this kind of talk is acceptable, and raising hell over even small incidents like this are critical in the fight against the normalization of racism and bigotry.

A majority of Americans did not vote for Trump

Some interesting data on the Us Presidential election:

ABC reports on “Turnout for vote in Presidential election

Trump received just 25.6 per cent of the total vote. Let that sink in. Only one in four Americans actually picked him to be president.

 Mind you, while Clinton actually won the popular vote — only one in four Americans wanted her as president as well. The remaining 46.9 per cent?

They didn’t vote.

Turnout for the election was just 53.1 per cent.

Trump got 1.1 million fewer votes than John McCain in 2008 and 2 million fewer voters than Mitt Romney in 2012. Given both of those former candidates lost in their respective elections, you’d think Trump would’ve lost?

Well, Clinton got 7 million fewer voters than Obama in 2012.”

It makes some sobering reading.

While there is a lot of handwringing over Trump’s success, he only got 25% of the eligible vote. It’s about the same proportion that Clinton got. Hardly a ringing endorsement of either candidate.

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By Australian standards, neither candidate received a mandate

 But to suggest, as many in the media have, that America has voted for Trump is simply not true. America didn’t vote for Trump and it didn’t vote for Clinton either. It’s reasonable to speculate that nearly half of the eligible voting population didn’t want either of them.

There could be endless speculation about how they would vote under an Australian-style compulsory voting system.

The plain fact of the matter are that these people couldn’t, or couldn’t be bothered, voting. If you want an argument that suggests democracy is not working in the US, this is where you would start.

The other interesting aspect is that  Clinton was not able to maintain Obama’s vote. It’s difficult to say whether these 7 million voters switched to Trump, although his success in the rustbelt state would suggest this might be the case.

It is also highly possible that the decline in Clinton’s vote was a factor in Trump’s rise.

One thing is certain: if there is a candidate from either party who can mobilise the apathetic, that candidate will win in a landslide.

 

Ultimately, it’s Trump’s policies and not his character that will be important

Many people in America, and certainly all the women who didn’t vote for him, find Donald Trump,  who may be remembered affectionately in history as President Pussygrabber, deeply offensive and repugnant.

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Post-election, Donald Trump’s political agenda is becoming clearer. Various surrogates, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have been suggesting a softening of the rhetoric of the election.  But details are emerging and the details of his legislative program are beginning to become clearer.

In an article entitled Here Is What Donald Trump Wants To Do In His First 100 Days the NPR Politics Newsletter writers, Amita Kelly and Barbara Sprunt, gave a detailed outline of what they see as Trump’s first hundred days.

It makes interesting reading.

A lot of people will benefit from what he proposes: a 35% tax cut for the middle class, cutting business tax rates from 35% to 15% (which will lead to 4% economic growth), tax incentives to build infrastructure, speeding up FDA approvals, tax deductible child care and eldercare.

On the downside, particularly from the perspective of America’s trading partners, he intends to withdrawal from NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, starting a trade war with China over currency manipulation, punish overseas companies that “unfairly impact” American workers and introducing tariffs to protect workers whose companies use “off-shoring” and then ship products back to America.

There are also a number of disastrous policies in terms of climate change including lifting restrictions on the production of “job producing” energy reserves (including coal) and cancelling billions of dollars of payments to UN climate change programs.

During the election campaign, he promised to rescue the coal industry. His justification: “Hey, these are nice people.”

The real reason is obvious from these two maps.

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Trump won areas affected by the dramatic downturn in coal production and consumption.

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It will remain to be seen whether rescuing the US coal industry which is facing declining demand domestically and internationally will provide any answer to the employment problems of Trump’s new constituency

He also intends to deport 2 million illegal Mexican migrants.

Looking at this, you can understand why conventional commentators are confused about Trump.  This is a mixture of family welfare, tax cuts, particularly to business, rampant protectionism and government-funded stimulation.  There is no identifiable ideological basis for his agenda. He is simply trying to appeal to everybody.

What is clear is that his tax cuts, a 20% tax reduction for business and 35% for the middle class, will reduce government revenue.

The tariffs he proposes to impose will affect trade with overseas countries and many of them will have a punitive effect on American companies by reducing their access to cheap labour overseas. They will also impact American consumers who will pay more for a wide range of imported goods.

Rounding up and deporting 2 million illegal Mexican migrants will be expensive and time-consuming. It is highly likely that these migrants are working jobs that Americans won’t take. Removing them from the workforce will impact on many American companies who take advantage of this group of workers by paying them extremely low wages.

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Has Trump considered the economic impact of denying American producers access to cheap labour?

It looks like a program for increasing the size of the already horrendously large American deficit and potentially sending the country into recession through a combination of extremely generous tax cuts and a potential reduction in business activity.