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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sorting Laundry

Laundromat Bound,

Florida Governor , Rick Scott declares a state of emergency, because so many Puerto Ricans are coming, any day now. (It actually is going to be really hard.)

Puerto Rico without electricity has no clean water, ATMs full of cash that won't turn on, gas pumps that won't pump, no way to communicate, no washers or dryers, no fans, let alone AC in the hottest season of the year. Ports and airports are running slowly and with increased risks. It will be like that anywhere that electricity goes out. We are all dependent on a functioning grid. It is completely assumed everywhere (except missile silos).

A lot of recriminations against the Trump white house about inadequate aid to Puerto Rico, were only partly deflected by the Twitter attack on NFL football players. The further defense presented here by a Navy Captain is factual and useful, A lot of what could be done had gotten underway before Maria hit. Ships are slower than smartphones. It has been so hard to get factual information about what is being done, that this article is unusually informative. (Neither Donald nor Hillary looks particularly above politics, or completely honest)

This other fairly detailed article, not sourced from an active duty military officer, says most of the armed forces that responded to Harvey and Irma took leave and went home as Maria approached Puerto Rico. The heavy choppers they used were parked. This asserts that high resource levels were provided twice, then mostly called off.

The appearance was meant to be tightly scripted, the Washington Post reported. But as is his custom, the president at the last minute decided to deliver some off the cuff remarks... As the Hill reports, the president appeared in good spirits  during the meeting as he circled the room praising officials in his administration and Puerto Rican officials. When he arrived at OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Trump ribbed his budget director by saying “Mick is in charge of a thing called the budget.” "I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine. We saved a lot of lives."

This just in, sounds perfectly sensible, so how to interpret it?
“We are going to work something out. We have to look at their whole debt structure,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News Tuesday. “You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re gonna have to wipe that out. That’s gonna have to be - you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that.” ... Adding fuel to the fire, Trump's Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said that "we are not going to bail them out, We are not going to pay off those debts, we are not going to bail out those bond holders.” In an interview, Mulvaney added that "I think what you heard the president say is that Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out a way to solve its debt problem.” (2/3 of the debt is held by "retail investors", not Wall Street. It's unclear what Goldman still holds. Not much, I'd guess...)

President Trump briefs his White House staff and cabinet members on how to properly manage negotiations, while portraying him as a wild-and-crazy-guy. 
Cat's out of the bag. The Rational-Actor model remains in play...

3 participants in a high level meeting report that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson referred to POTUS, Donald Trump as "a moron" this summer, when he was very close to resigning. Generals Mattis. Kelly and VP Pence really want Tillerson (`who had much higher global status than Trump 3 years ago) to stay, because...
While it is unclear whether Trump was told of Tillerson’s outburst after the Pentagon meeting or to what extent the president was briefed on Tillerson’s plan to resign earlier in the year, Trump will be fully aware now.  While it is certainly possible that Trump would let Tillerson, the question is whether such a move would elevate US foreign policy risks, which will be exposed to the aggressive nature of Trump's tweets without Tillerson to act as a potential buffer. According to NBC, administration officials speculate that Tillerson would be succeeded by Haley if Tillerson were to depart.

Jim Kunstler gives his weekly news update: The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that his office was in contact with North Korean officials, the Secretary’s boss, You-Know-Who, tweeted out: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” ... There is the matter of Puerto Rico... FEMA and the US Military may be doing all they can now, but they must be on watch for the ominous blossoming of tropical disease epidemics. The story there is far from over. Trump travels there this week. That may be exactly the moment that the Deep State moves to take him down.

This Spanish royal family was installed by Fascist Dictator, Francisco Franco, who trusted them enough that he died in office:
King Felipe VI said Catalan leaders who organized the referendum showed their "disrespect to the powers of the state" adding that "they have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law. "Today, the Catalan society is fractured," the king said, warning that the poll could put at risk the economy of the wealthy autonomous north-eastern region and the whole of Spain. He said that Catalonia’s authorities, “have placed themselves outside the law and democracy, they have tried to break the unity of Spain and national sovereignty”. Offering firm backing to the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy, Felipe said it was the “responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure the constitutional order." Felipe also said the Catalan government had “systematically violated the law, demonstrating a disloyalty that is inadmissible” and “undermined the harmony and coexistence in Catalan society.” But he stressed that Spain "will overcome difficult times". (What a poseur!)

Then there is this Austin-Powers-Type Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, who was being followed by a Spanish Police chopper as he drove to the stadium to cast his vote. The turbo-cops were ordered to arrest him and prevent it. He slyly swapped the car he was riding in, when he was in a tunnel, and got to be seen by the world as he voted.

The US is one of the less-filthy dirty shirts in the basket, when it comes to retirement arrangements. This article by John Mauldin is  well researched and well composed, looking at the retirement commitments of the regions of the world, their population projections, and the impossibility of matching them.
We think people can spend 35–40 years working and saving, then stop working and go on for another 20–30–40 years at the same comfort level – but with a growing percentage of retirees and a shrinking number of workers paying into the system. I’m sorry, but that’s magical thinking. And it’s not what the original retirement schemes envisioned at all... As I have pointed out in past letters, when Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security for people over 65 years old, US life expectancy was about 56 years. If the retirement age had kept up with the increase in life expectancy, the retirement age in the US would now be 82. Try and sell that to voters.

Wearing Pajama Bottoms

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