National news will dominate the news cycle today. Republicans are in another phase of changing the rules to solidify their power in the US Senate. Donald Trump launched a missile attack against Syria last night. And the US jobs report leaves questions about the strength of the economy.
In North Carolina news, the House yesterday stood proudly with Chinese-owned hog farms against the native North Carolinians who suffer fouled drinking water and unbearable stench that makes their properties virtually worthless–except as more hog farms. Speaker Tim Moore jammed through a bill with no discussion that limits the amount of money landowners can recover for damage to their properties from the pollution and odor caused by massive hog operations. The legislation affects pending 26 lawsuits filed mostly on behalf of African-American families.
Let’s get real here. If the odor and pollution were affecting people living in gated communities, Moore and the Republicans would be falling over themselves to enact a miles-wide buffer to protect those properties. I imagine a look at campaign finance reports next year will show healthy contributions to Republicans from Smithfield Farms and people making lots of money from hog farms. Next election, remember whose side the GOP is on.
Back to that national news front, the Senate Republicans’ willingness to change the rules of the Senate to approve Trump’s nominee completes Mitch McConnell’s ten-year transformation of the body. It began back in 2007 when he started abusing the filibuster to make obstruction the GOP’s guiding governing philosophy. It continued when he denied a hearing to Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and culminated yesterday when the Republicans chose to end the filibuster as tool to slow deliberations. John McCain said of the move, “I fear that someday we will regret what we are about to do.” And then voted to end it anyway. What a profile in courage.
Trump’s strike on an airbase in Syria as a response to Assad’s gassing of civilians was probably the right thing to do. The process of getting there might have been a mess. We need to see if this is shift to a more aggressive foreign policy or just a one-off response to the chemical attack. It’s too early to know what Trump’s team is thinking, though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said this does not represent a change in policy.
Finally, the jobs report was far below predictions. Fewer than 100,000 jobs were created in March but the unemployment rate dropped. Two Wall Street leaders warned that the economy is starting slow down based largely on fears that Trump can’t get his agenda passed. We’ve had the longest stretch of economic growth since 1970 so we’re probably due for a recession. If that happens in the next six months or so, Trump’s numbers could fall even more, further harming his ability to push his agenda through Congress.
That’s about all I’ve got today. Have a good weekend.