Here we go again
October 28, 2019

It didn't take long for President Trump to criticize Chicago during his first ever presidential visit to the city Monday.

Trump, who was speaking at the annual gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, bashed the Midwestern metropolis and the superintendent of its police department, Eddie Johnson. Despite hosting the event, Johnson did not attend Trump's speech because he said he "couldn't stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office." Trump criticized Johnson for overseeing a city that he says is less safe than Afghanistan and argued that Chicago's police officers are "entitled to a police superintendent who has their backs and knows what he's doing."

Trump wasn't done there, though. He also went after actor Jussie Smollett who claimed he was attacked by Trump supporters in Chicago, comparing his "scam" to the House impeachment inquiry.

But it wasn't all insults — Trump also had some praise for, well, himself. He touted the death of former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a U.S. military raid in Syria on Saturday night, as a major accomplishment, which was received positively by the crowd. Trump also hinted that former President Barack Obama should've done more to bring down Baghdadi, while indicating that his own determination to zero in on the terrorist leader played a significant role in his death. Tim O'Donnell

October 21, 2019

It might be time to prepare for a liquidity crisis, Axios reports.

Balance sheets may be strong, but the heads of major banks have issued warnings that September's repo market shock may not have been a one-time thing. They're concerned it was the start of a wide-ranging liquidity shortage, reportedly resulting from "regulations, changes to market structure, and banks' desire to keep their reserve levels high."

One sector that appears to be particularly worrisome is shadow banking, which consists of firms that are not banks, but lend money to consumers for auto loans and home mortgages. Axios notes they aren't subject to the same regulations as banks.

"Regulators have been very successful in distributing risk," said Ron O'Hanley, president and CEO of State Street. "It's now been very much deconcentrated. But it hasn't gone away; it's been moved."

Tim Adams, the president and CEO of the Institute of International Finance, made a comparison that's growing increasingly common whenever the state of the economy is discussed — he likened the situation to the market for mortgage-backed securities before the housing bubble burst in 2007. You know what happened after that.

"We used to make the same case on securitization of mortgages — that we could slice them and dice them and we distribute risk globally and it was a safer system because it was distributed," Adams told Axios. "We found out that wasn't necessarily the case." Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

September 30, 2019

Don't look now, but President Trump is calling for the arrest of his political opponents again.

Trump once again lashed out Monday morning at House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who he previously accused in a Sunday night tweet of being guilty of "treason." Schiff during the testimony of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire last week had read what he described as a "parody" of Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president using his own original language that he said was meant to capture its "essence."

Since then, Trump has been repeatedly blasting Schiff for what he calls a "FAKE & terrible statement," taking things up a notch quite a bit Monday morning by suggesting he should be arrested "for treason."

This was just one part of a wild Monday morning Twitter tear for Trump, who also declared the Ukraine scandal "closed" and inaccurately suggested the whistleblower rules were recently changed in an all-caps tweet.

CNN notes Schiff's summary of the Ukraine call "did make it easy for viewers to get confused," with the House Democrat creating the false impression that Trump told Ukraine seven times to "make up dirt" on Biden. Yet rather than simply taking issue with the accuracy of Schiff's statement, Trump is now calling for his arrest over it. CNN's Daniel Dale dryly points out the obvious, tweeting, "It is very much not illegal for a member of a congressional committee to paraphrase someone badly." Brendan Morrow

August 25, 2019

Joe Arpaio marked the anniversary of President Trump pardoning him by announcing he is once again running for sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

"Watch out world!" the 87-year-old said in a statement. "We are back!" Arpaio served six terms as sheriff, and his jails were known for their harsh conditions, with immigrants housed in tents outside during extreme heat; inmates fed twice a day with food served at other institutions as a form of punishment; and prisoners forced to wear pink underwear. As a result, several civil rights lawsuits were filed against Arpaio, NBC News reports, and a federal judge ruled twice that his jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates because of poor medical care.

Arpaio was handily defeated in November 2016, and convicted in July 2017 of contempt of court after he disregarded a federal judge's order to stop arresting immigrants based on suspicion that they were undocumented. One of Trump's earliest supporters, he was pardoned by the president in August 2017. In his statement, Arpaio said he's been urged by "thousands" to run again, and "the last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this country needs." Catherine Garcia

August 12, 2019

Automattic Inc., the online software and publishing company that owns WordPress.com and Longreads, is adding Tumblr to its lineup.

Verizon, which acquired the multimedia blogging platform in 2017 when it bought out Yahoo, is selling Tumblr for an undisclosed amount considered "nominal" to its previous $1.1 billion worth, reports The Wall Street Journal. A source for Axios put the number "well below" $20 million.

This marks Automattic's largest ever acquisition, in terms of both monetary value and personnel. Tumblr's current staff of around 200 will reportedly join the company.

The Tumblr community went into an existential tailspin back in December when the site banned all NSFW content. Many users abandoned the platform for other websites in a move reminiscent of the exodus following Yahoo's takeover of the site in 2013. Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg says his company doesn't plan on changing what makes Tumblr "fun," but this shakeup may be the last straw for the remaining holdouts on the website. Cyrena Touros

August 8, 2019

A ninth Democrat has qualified for the third round of presidential debates, bringing us closer to another two-night affair.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang on Thursday became the latest Democratic candidate for president to qualify for the September debate following the release of a Monmouth University Iowa poll in which he has two percent support, The New York Times reports. Yang previously had the 130,000 individual donors needed for the September debate's qualification threshold, which is stricter than that of the previous two debates, and he has now met the requirement of two percent support in four polls as well.

This means the September debate will include at least the following nine candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, and Yang. As the Times points out, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is close to qualifying; he has enough donors and now needs to reach two percent support in one more qualifying poll. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also has surpassed the 130,000 individual donor requirement, The Washington Examiner reports.

While the first two rounds of debates took place over two nights because there were so many candidates, it was thought raising the qualifying threshold for the September debate might cut the field down enough for only one night to be required. The New York Times previously reported that this September debate would take place on a single night should 10 candidates or fewer qualify. Were Castro and Gabbard to both squeeze in, there would be 11 candidates.

The Democratic National Committee also recently gave candidates even longer to qualify for the October debate, leaving open the possibility that the debate field will actually grow larger after September. The deadline to qualify for the September debate is Aug. 28. Brendan Morrow

July 27, 2019

Another weekend, another member of Congress for President Trump to target.

Trump tweeted about House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Saturday morning, calling him as a "brutal bully" and criticizing his district, which contains the city of Baltimore, as "far worse and more dangerous" than the southern border, the conditions of which Cummings has criticized in the past. Trump went on to describe Baltimore as a "rat and rodent infested mess."

Like his racist tweets direct at four Democratic congresswomen earlier this month, Trump's shot at Cummings and Baltimore has already drawn heavy criticism from commentators. CNN news anchor Victor Blackwell, who is from Baltimore, delivered an emotional monologue about Trump's comments and said that people from Baltimore are "proud of their community." While fighting back tears, Blackwell said that Baltimore's citizens pledge allegiance to the flag just as people do in districts represented by lawmakers who support Trump. "They are Americans, too," he said.

Other journalists pointed out that Trump's tweets were hypocritical, especially in light of his attacks on the congresswomen, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who Trump has accused of being anti-American.

Read more reactions at Mediaite. Tim O'Donnell

July 9, 2019

Maybe President Trump just needed to vent on Monday. After all, a prominent U.K. official — ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch — was caught red-handed calling him "insecure," "incompetent," and predicting that his administration could "crash and burn." That would probably rile most people up — although, it must be said, lashing out on Twitter may not be the best way to dispel the notion that you're insecure.

But apparently Monday's Twitter rant wasn't enough for the president. He came out swinging again on Tuesday morning, this time referring to Darroch as a "very stupid guy" and, more formally, a "pompous fool." For what it's worth, reports indicate that Darroch is well-liked by Trump officials, and the U.K. is standing behind him.

The president also used the opportunity to once again insult the U.K.'s Brexit troubles.

And, lest we forget, he ended the tirade by boasting about the strength of the U.S. economy and military and made sure, as he so often does, to give thanks where thanks is due. Tim O'Donnell

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