ECB President Christine Lagarde Blames Less Focus On Job Retention During COVID For High U.S. Inflation

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European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde appeared for an interview on CBS’ Face The Nation(04/24/22) to discuss the current global inflation brought about by covid and the Russsia-Ukraine war. During her interview, President Lagarde made an interesting observation, telling host Margaret Brennan that inflation is higher in the U.S. because unlike Europe, the U.S. focused more on issuing covid stimulus/relief checks than on job retention. Europe’s primary focus during covid was on job retention. She said the resultant labor shortage in the U.S. is driving up wages, which are in turn, driving up costs. Hmm, interesting.

Host Margaret Brennan(video at 4:53):“In this country there’s a lot of debate around how much the government is to blame versus the central bankers for the inflation that we are experiencing. The U.S. spent $6 trillion on covid relief, $2 trillion of it on President Biden’s watch last Spring when the economy was already recovering. Do you think some of this spending in the U.S. exacerbated inflation, because Europe didn’t spend like this?”

President Lagarde:“We in Europe spent less in stimulus, and I think we spent differently. We spent pretty much half as much as what the U.S. government spent on stimulus, and heating up the economy. But we also spent differently because I think the focus was predominantly on keeping the jobs, not necessarily sending the checks, and as a result of that, people who managed to keep their jobs alive, while not necessarily going to work because covid stopped everybody from going to work at some point in time, they had their job. So when covid was over, they went back to their job. So, I think that the labor market that you have currently in the U.S., which is incredibly tense, where you have a lot of jobs that are not filled, where you have plenty of vacancies, we don’t have that in Europe at the moment, and the current situation you have on the labor market here in the U.S. is clearly contributing to possible strong inflation and second round effect, where prices go up, wages go up, short supply of labor, wages continue to go up, and that feeds back into prices. That’s one of the differences between our two economies.”

There’s no other way to interpret ECB President Lagarde’s remarks other than(I’ll be happy to stand corrected of course), the current strong inflation in the U.S. is largely driven by the fact that the government did not do enough to help people keep their jobs during covid. In other words, even though a lot of people could not physically go to work during covid, more should have been done to make sure their jobs would still be there for them after the pandemic–propping up their employers to keep them afloat. According to President Lagarde, this is precisely what Europe focused on–propping up the employers, and is the reason Europe is not seeing the high levels of inflation as the U.S.

For the record, this does not mean Europe did not hand out covid stimulus/relief checks to workers like the U.S. did. What President Lagarde is saying is that the primary focus in Europe was job retention. It’s also worth pointing out for the sake of fairness, that the entire U.S. covid response, and the resultant high inflation, cannot be pinned solely on the Biden administration. Reasonable people will agree that the Trump admin is equally to blame.

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Tulsi Gabbard Issues Cease And Desist Letters Against Senator Romney, Keith Olbermann

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Former Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson show (04/20/22) where she revealed that she has issued cease and desist letters to Senator Mitt Romney(R-UT) and liberal media personality Keith Olbermann over treason accusations leveled at her by the two, for what they perceive as her support for Russia. Gabbard said treason is one of the most serious crimes in the United States, adding that the invocation of such a serious crime by Sen Romney and Olbermann, is only intended to scare her(and others), into silence–the so-called “chilling effect”. As you know, a cease and desist letter is a precursor to a lawsuit, so she’s basically telling Romney and Olbermann, “knock it off, or I’ll see you in federal court.”

Gabbard told host Tucker Carlson(video at 0:42): “As you mentioned, I still serve in the U.S. Army Reserves today, I’m a Lieutenant Colonel, and 19 years ago when I enlisted in the military, I took an oath to support and defend our constitution. I took that very same oath when I was elected to serve in Congress, where I served for 8 years. Senator Mitt Romney has taken that oath, as has every other member of Congress who has had the priviledge of serving, and if Mitt Romney had read the constitution, he would know that treason, the crime that he is accusing me of, that is punishable by death, is so serious, that our founders deemed it to be the only crime worthy of being defined in our constitution. So the situation we are facing here is a very serious one, not because its about me, but because it has a much bigger impact on our country. When powerful and influential people basically threaten and intimidate people into silence, as Mitt Romney, Keith Olbermann and others are doing, they are hoping to achieve that effect, that if anybody dare speak out against the government, that if anybody dares criticize whatever the permanent Washington establishment’s narrative is, then you’ll be smeared as a treasonous traitor”

So what do you think? Is Tulsi Gabbard right in standing up for freedom of speech, especially unpopular speech, or do you think the treason accusations are justified?

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Pompeo Slams Biden Admin For “Allowing China To Walk All Over Them” In The South Pacific

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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle show(04/21/22) to discuss among other things, reports this week that China has signed a security pact with the strategically located Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Pompeo slammed the Biden administration over this, saying they are “allowing China to walk all over them.” He added that China will “park missiles” in the Solomon Islands, and could in the future use this strategic location to block trade routes that are important to the United States.

Pompeo specifically told host Ingraham(video at 1:20):“The Chinese have been trying to expand their footprint in the Pacific, and in particular, the South Pacific for an awfully long time. They began by building out a set of islands called the Spratlys. They put military bases on there after they promised President Obama they wouldn’t, and when they did, he did literally nothing. The Solomon Islands and other Islands in the Pacific are places where they can park missile systems, naval bases, other naval capabilities that they can use to foreclose trade, all of the important trade that moves through all of the South Pacific into the Eastern Pacific, into places that matter an awful lot to the United States of America. It’s why China is so focused on it, it’s why in the Trump administration we worked so diligently to try and build out alliances with those countries. The Biden administration has allowed China to walk all over them throughout the entire Pacific.”

Pompeo went on to add(video at 2:30):“I don’t think they[China]respect or fear the United States under the leadership of President Obama and the team…This administration hasn’t shown the same resolve and the same capacity to deter aggression that we did for 4 years…The Chinese Communist Party presents the single greatest external risk to the United States of America from any place in the world…We need to lead the effort to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t dominate global trade and dominate the global economy in the years and decades ahead. We can do it, but it takes American leadership.”

Bottom line folks, even though reasonable people will agree that Trump GOP is currently mired in frivolity(fights with Disney, hyperventilating over CRT, going after transgender athletes etc), the China issue remains one of the few legitimate arguments they still have. Simply put, the United States cannot allow a perception to fester out there, that China is always running us over. So you ask, “Why should we care about such a perception”? Look no further than the current Russia-Ukraine war. Make no mistake about it, Putin invaded Ukraine because (1) he knows he has China’s support and (2) the United States has demonstrated no willingness to confront China in any way out of fear of “disturbing our trade ties”. This dynamic has to change. We need to make China respect and fear the United States, not just for our own national security sake, but also to deter autocrats around the world who have figured out that they can commit atrocities while hiding under China’s umbrella.

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Trump Lashes Out At AG Barr For Not Going After Hunter Biden

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Former President Donald Trump called into Fox News’ Sean Hannity show(04/13/22) where he among other things, lamented the weaponization of law enforcement for political purposes. Trump joked that in the last five years, he has gone through “more investigations than Al Capone, Jesse James and Billy the kid put together.” Yours Truly found this quite interesting because even though weaponization of the criminal justice system for political purposes is a legitimate topic of concern, Trump’s DOJ was brazenly political, especially under Attorney General William Barr. As a matter of fact, Trump admitted to host Sean Hannity that he was frustrated with AG Barr’s refusal to prosecute President Biden’s son Hunter, during the 2020 campaign season.

Trump specifically told Hannity(video at 32:00 onwards): “I’ve gone through in five years, more investigations than Al Capone, Jesse James and Billy the kid put together…They’ve weaponized law enforcement essentially, they’ve weaponized the AGs in the states..and district attorneys…I mean, it’s such a horrible thing that they are doing, and I just don’t think the people of the country are going to take it. but I just, based on past, I think probably nothing will happen[to Hunter Biden]. Look, we also had a chance, but Bill Barr, the Attorney General, didn’t want to be impeached, they[Democrats] were vicious with him…How do you not get impeached? You just sit back and relax and wait out for your term to end, and that’s what he did, and it was a sad thing and a sad day for this country, then he writes his crummy book, which was so false…He was so afraid of being impeached, that he refused to do his job.”

There’s no other way to interpret Trump’s remarks on Hannity other than, he was infuriated by his own AG Bill Barr, for not prosecuting Hunter Biden during the runup to the 2020 presidential elections, a move that Trump knew would give him political advantage over his opponent Joe Biden. This, needless to say, would have been the quintessential weaponization of the criminal justice system. Put another way, Trump is not concerned about the legitimate problem surrounding the weaponization of the criminal justice system, he is just mad that his own AG refused to go along with it when it came to Hunter Biden.

Bottom line folks, as we have seen with many other issues involving former President Trump, projection is always a major theme. As Trump is now complaining about weaponization of the criminal justice system, it must not be left unsaid that his own DOJ was notorious for that. Trump’s remarks also raise serious questions about the Hunter Biden criminal investigation. If Bill Barr was against the investigation while he was AG, why is he now saying on cable TV that Hunter should be investigated?

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Rep Liz Cheney All But Admits Trump Committed Crimes Re January 6th Insurrection

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Rep Liz Cheney(R-WY) appeared on CNN’s State of The Union show (04/10/22) where she all but admitted that the evidence currently in possession of the January6th Committee, would support a finding that former President Trump engaged in criminal conduct as related to the January 6th insurrection. Even though Rep Liz Cheney is limited as to what she can disclose publicly, given her position as Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee, there is no question that her response to host Jake Tapper’s question as to whether she believed Trump’s conduct was criminal, was a resounding yes.

Host Jake Tapper(video at 7:07 onwards):“You are the Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee. The New York Times is reporting this morning that your committee has concluded that you have enough evidence to make a criminal referral for President Trump to the Justice Department for obstructing an official proceeding and for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Is that true, do you have enough evidence to refer Trump for criminal charges?”

Rep Liz Cheney: “We have not made a decision about referrals on the committee. I think that it is absolutely the case, it’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful, they did it anyway. I think you certainly saw that in the decision that was issued by Judge Carter a few weeks ago, where he concluded that it was more likely than not that the President of the United States was engaged in criminal activity. I think what we have seen is a massive and well organized and well planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election. You’ve seen just in the last few days a plea agreement from one of the leaders of the Proud Boys which lays out in really chilling detail the extent to which violence was planned, the extent to which the message that went out on December 19th about the rally in Washington–and don’t forget Donald Trump tweeted out that message ‘be there, be wild’–that the day after that message, the organization and the planning started, and that they understood that they were going to attempt to use violence to try to stop the transfer of power. That is the definition of an insurrection and it is absolutely chilling.”

There is no other way to interpret Rep Cheney’s remarks other than, former President Trump, and his insurrectionists planned, and understood very clearly that on January 6th, they were going to use violence to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral college victory, and that this conduct fits both of the criminal schemes pointed out by host Jake Tapper.

Bottom line the only question remaining now is whether (1) the January 6th Committee will make that criminal referral and (2) whether Garland’s DOJ will act on it. It cannot be left unsaid that if the January 6th Committee were to make a criminal referral against former President Trump, and Garland’s DOJ chose not to act on it, this will represent one of the biggest failures of the U.S. Justice department in modern DOJ history. It will essentially cement the running perception that Trump is for all intents and purposes, above the law– a sad state of affairs indeed.

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Why Is Putin’s Mistress Living A Life Of Luxury In Switzerland Amid Sanctions?

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President Vladimir Putin with former Olympic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva, believed to be the mother of his four children, and currently living in Switzerland

An interesting segment on CNN’s Outfront w/Erin Burnett show(04/06/22) delved into Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s very secretive family ties, and the effect the recently imposed economic sanctions may have on them. According to Russia expert Alina Polyakova who was a guest on the show, Putin has two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Putina, from his previous marriage to Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, who currently resides in the Netherlands. Alina Polyakova also dropped a bombshell on the show saying Putin’s current mistress, former Olympic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who he put in charge of a powerful Russia media group, is apparently living in luxury with his four children in Switzerland. Alina rightly wondered why the West has not targeted Kabaeva with the kind of stiff sanctions they’ve meted out to Russian Oligarchs worldwide?

She told host Erin Burnett: “Alina Kabaeva has been kept really like a state secret from the media, from everyone else. Reportedly, in her role as leading this media group, she makes something around $11 million a year, quite significant. There are reports that she lives in Switzerland with four of Putin’s children, supposedly two boys, and a set of twin girls that were born in Switzerland, presumably have Swiss passports, presumably she does as well. Putin as a former KGB agent sees close ties and personal connection as a potential vulnerability, which is why he is likely hiding her…he is keeping her as protected as possible because he knows that she can be used as leverage against him, so certainly, this in my view, is absolutely the time to hit Putin where it hurts, where he fears it the most, where he sees his vulnerability. The war in Ukraine is absolutely brutal and it’s frankly absurd that his closest partner, the mother of potentially four of his children is getting to live a luxurious life in Switzerland. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Spot on, Alina Polyakova, it makes zero sense. Switzerland should immediately revoke Alina Kabaeva’s citizenship and deport her, with her children, back to Russia. Whatever financial assets she has in Switzerland should remain in Switzerland, or preferably be used to assist with humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Bottom line folks, the Biden administration and indeed all the democracy-loving Western governments, need to see to it that Putin’s family is not allowed to live in luxury overseas, as he butchers and maims Ukrainian families. As Alina Polyakova correctly stated, “this is absolutely the time to hit Putin where it hurts, where he fears it the most, where he sees his vulnerability.”

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Mitt Romney Says Second Trump Presidency Would Hurt NATO, Help Putin

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In an interesting interview on the brand new CNN Plus show, The Source w/ Kasie Hunt, Senator Mitt Romney(R-UT) made a bombshell admission that if former President Trump were to win the presidency again in 2024, that would hurt NATO, and help Vladimir Putin, something that should frighten every democracy-loving person in the free world. As Kasie Hunt correctly pointed out, the fact that Sen Romney brought up this issue, shows that it is a huge concern among establishment Republicans(Trump winning in 2024)

Romney told host Kasie Hunt: “I think if President Trump were to return as President, that the nations of the world would say they have to really rethink their own national security, and the extent to which they want to be aligned with us, and instead be aligned with someone else, and you saw that happened during the time President Trump was there. I’ve had conversations with leaders of other nations now, members of NATO, and they raise this question–We’re happy to see you committed to our mutual defense, but we don’t know whether you’re just committed short term, or whether this a long term and permanent commitment? I think this is a long term commitment. “

There is no other way to interpret Senator Romney’s remarks other than, him and fellow Republicans are very concerned about a second Trump presidency, and specifically, the disastrous effect that would have on NATO, while at the same time helping Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. This is a serious problem, not just for establishment Republicans, but also for the cause of democracy worldwide. Simply put, a Trump win in 2024 is a win for Vladimir Putin and other autocrats worldwide.

Bottom line folks, the Russia-Ukraine war has demonstrated very clearly that there is a global battle currently playing out between free, democracy-loving countries, and autocratic dictatorships like Russia, China, Turkey, et al. If Putin prevails in Ukraine, it will represent a win for autocrats, and as Senator Romney correctly points out, a second Trump presidency will be a major boost to Putin and other autocrats. Trump has already demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt(DC insurrection, friendship with autocrats), that he should never ever occupy the White House again. The only question now is whether his Republican Party will see to it that he is kept on the political sidelines.

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Hillary Clinton Slams GOP’s “Naivete” Re Putin’s Russia

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Secretary Hillary Clinton discusses Russia-Ukraine conflict on MSNBC’s Morning Joe (02/25/22)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show (02/25/22) where she slammed GOP’s seeming praise of Russia’s President Putin, even as he continues with his invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Secretary Clinton called this the height of “naivete”, saying Putin, who “takes no prisoners”, would similarly kill, poison, and imprison those in the GOP who think he’s their friend. Secretary Clinton was on Morning Joe to discuss her bombshell piece on The Atlantic titled, “A State of Emergency For Democracy.”

Clinton told hosts Mika and Joe(video at 7:25 onwards): “Starting with the ascent of Trump, there has been, sadly, a total loss of spine and conscience among too many Republicans who at first saw no harm in echoing and parroting the kind of crazy stuff that Trump would say, totally against history, against common sense…and now they are kind of caught in a bit of a downward spiral, where they are afraid to stand against even the most outrageous comments. ”

She added, “There’s also another element which is, these people are naive in such a dangerous way. They somehow believe that because Putin presents himself as a strong leader on behalf of certain values that are anti-gay, that are anti-freedom and democracy that is so messy, that somehow. that corresponds with the views of certain members and elements of the Republican Party. They could not be more mistaken. This man takes no prisoners. He kills them, he poisons them, he imprisons them…The naivete that we saw starting with Trump, but which has now been accelerated, is really hard to understand but nevertheless, we have to deal with it. We have to call it out.”

Secretary Clinton singled GOP Senator Ben Sasse (Nebraska) for praise, for his unequivocal denunciation of Putin and his thuggish regime. Senator Sasse appeared on Morning Joe right before Secretary Clinton’s interview.

Secretary Clinton concluded her interview by imploring the Biden administration to deal ruthlessly with the Oligarchs who Putin relies on to move his ill-gotten wealth around. She said, “We need to call the Oligarchs out. We need to call them out by name, we need to go after their assets, whether it’s temporary suspension of access to assets like yachts and huge houses…bank accounts, because if we don’t up the pressure now, whatever we are doing…will take longer, and Ukraine will be burning. Ukraine will be devastated.” She gave kudos to this U.K. MP for calling out Putin-allied Oligarchs in Parliament.

Bottom line folks, Secretary Clinton is absolutely right. One only hopes the Biden admin will heed her advice and (1) find a way to counter Putin’s propagandists on Fox News and elsewhere, and (2) squeeze his Oligarchs out of financial relevance. Then, and only then, will Putin come to the negotiating table in good faith.

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VP Kamala Harris’ Biggest Moment(Yet) On The International Stage

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on 02/18/22. The Munich conference is arguably VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and her most consequential speech to date, given it’s timing–the looming Russia-Ukraine conflict. It’s also impossible to ignore the historical significance of the moment, given the fact that she addressed the Munich conference as the first female VP of the United States, and the first woman of color to represent the United States in that capacity.

VP Harris traveled to Munich Germany with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and foreign policy heads. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended this important international conference, even as Putin’s Russia is on the cusp of invading his country. The Russians skipped the Munich conference.

VP Harris laid out the seriousness of the moment in her opening remarks: “I’m certain we all recognize, this year’s gathering is unlike those of the recent past. Not since the end of the cold war, has this forum convened under such dire circumstances. Today, as we are all well aware, the foundation of European security is under direct threat in Ukraine. Let us remember from the wreckage of two world wars, a consensus emerged in Europe and the United States. A consensus in favor of order, not chaos, security, not conflict…That the rule of law should be cherished, that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be respected, and that national borders should not be changed by force.”

There is no question that the text of VP Harris’ historical speech in Munich will feature in many political science and history classes in years to come, as one of the defining moments in the relationship between NATO countries and Russia.

Bottom line folks, as Yours Truly said earlier, this is easily VP Harris’ biggest moment on the international stage, and reasonable people will agree, she shone bright. With the eyes of the world trained on her, she delivered a great speech, that clearly conveyed the danger Putin’s Russia poses to Europe and the rest of the world, without sounding alarmist. All in all, VP Harris, you represented President Biden, and America, exceedingly well in Munich!!

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Lev Parnas Says It Was All About Biden, Not Corruption

In an explosive interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, Lev Parnas, the indicted Ukrainian-American at the very center of President Trump’s impeachment saga, appears to have dealt a death blow to Trump’s defense when he told host Maddow that all Trump wanted from President Zelensky of Ukraine was dirt on Biden and that he was never interested in rooting out corruption in the country.

Parnas told Maddow, “It[Ukrainegate]was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and also Rudy [Giuliani]had a personal thing with the Manafort stuff, the black ledger. That was another thing that they were looking into. But it was never about corruption, it was strictly about Burisma which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”

This is a very problematic revelation for the Trump team because their entire defense has been that as President, Trump had every right to deny aid to Ukraine if he felt that hard earned U.S. tax dollars would be misappropriated by corrupt Ukrainian officials.

Republican Senators, especially those from swing states who are up for reelection this year, have found it impossible to defend Trump against allegations that he sought help from a foreign country (Ukraine) to dig up dirt on his political opponent (Biden). These Senators have instead rested on the more palatable anti-corruption defense.

If Parnas’ allegation that this was all about Joe Biden pans out, and all indications are that they will, then the vulnerable Republican Senators who have relied on the anti-corruption defense will have no leg to stand on and may be forced to do the unthinkable–put the country’s interests over the GOP and vote to remove Trump from office .

Bottom line folks, we all know that Washington and indeed the rest of the country has become deeply polarized as a result of the Trump presidency. Under any other normal administration, the revelations brought forward by Ukrainegate would be enough to garner bipartisan support both in the House and Senate for a president’s impeachment and removal from office. It will be interesting to see whether partisanship in Washington has become so bad under Trump, that he is allowed to get away with his very troubling conduct re Ukrainegate–the quintessential “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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