The Artless Dodger

Jack Dawkins, better known as the Artful Dodger, is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Dodger is a pickpocket, so called for his skill and cunning in that respect. He is the leader of the gang of child criminals, trained by the elderly Fagin.

The Artful Dodger is characterized as a child who acts like an adult.

Today the world has The Artless Dodger, a child who acts like an adult but, unlike the Artful Dodger, is completely lacking in skill and cunning.

Donald Trump: pointing the way toward … more of the same, actually. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

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The Art of The Schlemiel

Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Donald Trump’s time in office had been a spectacular failure, like a schlemiel. Here’s a very short list of promises made by Donald Trump which have stalled in legislation.

Call for an international conference to defeat ISIS
Repeal Obamacare
Increase visa fees
Move U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Replace J-1 Visa with Inner City Resume Bank
Cut taxes for everyone
Eliminate the carried interest loophole
Impose death penalty for cop killers
Enact term limits
Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton
Make no cuts to Medicare
Make no cuts to Social Security
Make no cuts to Medicaid
Eliminate Common Core
Add additional federal investment of $20 billion toward School Choice
Open up libel laws
Build a safe zone for Syrian refugees
Close parts of the Internet where ISIS is
Bring back waterboarding

There are many, many more promises which the Donald has uttered and has failed to pass through legislation at this point in time in office. His “Art of the deal” book should have been titled “The Art of The Schlemiel”.

Schlemiel, noun, (US, slang) an awkward or unlucky person whose endeavours usually fail.

Report says Donald Trump hates ‘everybody at the White House’.


‘Unfit and incapable’: Donald Trump at the White House. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A report in Vanity Fair magazine, citing two sources, claimed Donald Trump had vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller: “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!”

The journalist Gabriel Sherman also wrote that several people close to the president told him that Trump was unstable, “losing a step” and unraveling. Such concerns appear to be reaching a critical mass. NBC News reported that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a moron. The president insisted the story was false, but challenged Tillerson to an IQ contest.

Then Senator Bob Corker became one of the few Republicans on Capitol Hill to openly denounce Trump, though it is widely suspected that he speaks for many colleagues. During a Twitter clash last Sunday, Corker wrote: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

In an interview with the New York Times, the senator from Tennessee said: “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him … He doesn’t realise that we could be heading towards world war three with the kind of comments that he’s making.”

He also told the Washington Post on Friday that Trump had “castrated” Tillerson with remarks about his attempts to talk to North Korea.

Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who was the top fundraiser for Trump’s election campaign, said he has been shocked and stunned by some of the president’s incendiary rhetoric and tweets.

“He thinks he has to be loyal to his base,” Barrack told the Washington Post. “I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.”

If anyone can get through to Trump, it may be Barrack, one of his oldest friends. Rich Galen, a Republican strategist, said: “That got everybody’s attention because he’s buddy and spoke at the Republican convention. So there seems to be some change. That’s part of what’s feeding it.”

McMullin agreed that Trump seemed rattled by the recent criticisms from Tillerson, Corker and Barrack. “He probably understands their remarks represent a new stage of acceptance setting in across the country, even among his supporters, that he is unfit and incapable.

“That, I think, is inspiring his accelerated efforts to throw red meat to his base to shore up their support. I expect that to continue, if not intensify, and to result in increasing political challenges for the GOP as 2017 and 2018 elections approach and in years to come.”

Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and independent presidential candidate, wrote via email to The Guardian: “I think the president’s actions on healthcare and Iran are the latest examples of his standing political strategy, which is to throw red meat to his base in order to maintain his base, as evidence of his unfitness and inability to govern mounts.

“If anything, his use of this tactic seems to be accelerating as it becomes increasingly clear, even to some of his closest friends and political allies, that he is failing.”

Read the complete article in The Guardian newspaper online.

Trump hints at ending aid as Puerto Ricans forced to drink polluted water

In a series of tweets sent on Thursday morning, Trump said: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. Forever!”

The president preceded this with tweets that stated “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes” in Puerto Rico and quoted a TV host who said of the territory that “a financial crisis looms largely of their own making”.

There are currently more than 1,400 Fema personnel in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands responding to the humanitarian crisis that has erupted following hurricanes Maria and Irma.

On Thursday, Fema said it had expanded its leadership team in Puerto Rico following the “unprecedented destruction” from the hurricanes.

Sufficient aid has yet to reach many people in Puerto Rico, three weeks after much of the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. More than 80% of the island is without electricity and nearly half of all people are still cut off from communication.

On Wednesday, the EPA said it has “reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste superfund sites in Puerto Rico”. Superfund sites are heavily polluted areas that have been designated for federal cleanup.

The environmental regulator said it was working with Fema to get drinking wells functioning and urged people to not tamper with locked wells or drink their contents. The EPA added that Puerto Ricans should not use water from rivers or streams for drinking or bathing without boiling it first because “raw sewage continues to be released into waterways and is expected to continue until repairs can be made and power is restored.”

The death toll from Hurricane Maria jumped to 45 people this week, and 113 people remain unaccounted for. The Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, a local investigative journalism project has estimated that the real total is likely to be much higher.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.

Trump tries speaking with a Spanish accent – video

Trump tries pronouncing Puerto Rico with a Spanish accent.

What a moron. What a major moron. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to the people of the United States. I’m beginnng to think Trumps’ speeches he reads off a teleprompter are written out for him phonetically.

Trump’s tax plan and the wealthy

On Wednesday Donald Trump unveiled an ambitious tax plan, proposing sweeping tax cuts for individuals and corporations in what the president dubbed a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to overhaul America’s tax code.

“These tax cuts are significant. There’s never been tax cuts like what we’re talking about,” Trump said in characteristically grandiose fashion.

“We will make taxes simple, easy, and fair for all Americans.”

Significant, yes. Fair for all Americans? No. Great for the wealthy? You bet.

The individual tax rates would be 12%, 25% and 35% – and the plan recommends a surcharge for the very wealthy. But it does not set the income levels at which the rates would apply, so it is unclear just how much of a tax cut would go to a typical family.

Trump insisted the tax plan would not benefit the “wealthy or well-connected”, stating: “They can call me all they want, it’s not gonna help.”

The wealthy would only be calling Trump to thank him for his generosity. They’ll be great calls. The best calls. The most calls. The most fabulous calls.

There are also signs that the wealthiest sliver of Americans could still reap tremendous benefits from the proposed changes, even though Trump has suggested that the rich will not be better off. Ya. Right.

Trump also dedicated a considerable portion of his remarks in Indiana to railing against the estate tax, which he referred to as the “death tax” and would be eliminated under his plan. Such a move would primarily benefit top earners, including the president.

“We’re finally ending the crushing, horrible unfair disaster of the estate tax,” Trump said.

The tax in question applies to estates valued at more than $5.49m for individuals or $10.98m for married couples. According to the Tax Policy Center, a research group based in Washington, just 0.2% of estates of people who died were subject to the tax, which currently stands at a rate of 40% under the law.

Trump and Republicans in Congress have argued the estate tax has a crippling effect on family farms, ranches and small businesses. But a Tax Policy Center analysis of the year 2013 found only 3% of the 0.2% of the estates subject to the tax were farms and businesses.

3% of 0.2% isn’t exactly what some people would say is a “crushing, horrible unfair disaster”.

By contrast, a review by Bloomberg revealed huge savings for Trump and his cabinet, which is regarded as the wealthiest in US history.

Trump’s estate would save $564m, the review found, based on his estimated net worth of $3bn. Trump claims his net worth to be at least $10 bn, but he has refused to release his tax returns in a break from precedent, making it difficult to fully evaluate how Trump’s tax plan as president would affect him personally.

According to the Bloomberg analysis, a repeal of the estate tax would save Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, roughly $545m and potentially result in more than $900m in savings for Richard DeVos, the father-in-law of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary.

Trump’s phone is going to be ringing off the hook. They’ll be great calls. The best calls. The most calls. The most fabulous calls. Believe me.

Corporations would see their top tax rate cut from 35% to 20%. For a period of five years, companies could further reduce how much they pay by immediately writing off their investments.

New benefits would be given to firms in which the profits double as the owners’ personal income. They would pay at a 25% rate, down from 39.6%. This creates a possible loophole for rich investors, lawyers, doctors and others, but administration officials say they will design measures to prevent any abuses. Ya. Right.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.

More on Trump’s tax plan:”Trump’s tax proposal would push US below Greece on inequality index

 

 

Trump ignoring crisis in Puerto Rico

puerto rico damage

A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

Trump acted relatively fast in responding to hurricanes hitting Florida and Texas but is taking his own sweet time helping Puerto Rico.

It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.

Trump launched another provocation on Monday night with a belated and lacklustre response to the Puerto Rican disaster. In a series of three tweets he effectively blamed the islanders – all of whom are American citizens – for their own misfortune.

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble,” he said, without offering any additional federal government assistance for the stricken US territory, which was hit by Hurricane Maria soon after those two states were struck by Harvey and Irma.

Trump acknowledged that “much of the island was destroyed”, but caustically went on to say that its electrical grid was already “in terrible shape” and that Puerto Rico owed billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks “which, sadly, must be dealt with”.

Trump himself has spent the past five days mired in his self-made battle with African-American sports stars while seemingly oblivious to the plight of millions of Hispanic Americans in peril in a natural disaster zone. The Trump administration has also refused to waive federal restrictions on foreign ships carrying life-saving supplies to Puerto Rico – a concession it readily made for Texas and Florida in the cases of hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively.

In the last of his three tweets, Trump said that “food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well”. But that may not tally with experiences on the ground where the governor, Ricardo Rosselló, has warned that Puerto Rico is on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis”.

In the hard-to-reach interior of the country, thousands of people are struggling with destroyed houses, a heat wave, and rapidly depleting supplies of clean water and food.

Most Puerto Ricans were spared the experience of reading Trump’s tweets as a result of the ongoing total blackout on the island. But condemnation was swift in mainland US.

Read the complete article on The Guardian newspaper web site.