The U-S economy tumbles in the first quarter:
The question: Is a recession coming?
The U-S ups the rhetoric — and the pressure — on Russia. But Putin makes vague threats of nuclear weapons.
And guns — now the #1 killer of children in America
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, April 29th.
We start with grim news on the U-S economy — it is reversing. The government says first quarter growth was negative one-point-four percent — on an annual basis. That headline a clip a minute ago from CNBC’s Rick Santelli.
What’s happening here? Well, in the first part of the year — the pandemic made a comeback — the Oma-chron virus — but even while caseloads and new lockdowns were underway — the government cut back on pandemic aid — which had pumped billions into the economy.
And let’s be honest — rising interest rates, and rising energy prices are also weighing things down. President Biden was asked about this — and as politicians do — he put his own spin on things.
Note that the president said that was last year — but THIS year, forward-looking indicators like the closely-watched University of Michigan consumer sentiment index show sharp drops from a year ago — its report says sentiment is quote — too close to recession lows to be reassuring.
But economists have different opinions — some call this bad 1st quarter reading a blip — pointing out that job and wage growth remain strong — and that gasoline prices have been slipping for a few weeks now.
Despite that disagreement — most agree DO agree on some things — notably that Russia’s war on Ukraine is a huge global wildcard.
The latest on the war now — which is deep into its third month.
President Biden says sending military and other aid to Ukraine is NOT cheap — but it’s cheaper than what. A broader war would cost if this one spreads. He’s asking for 33-billion dollars for more weapons, economic and humanitarian aid.
But the Russians show no signs of backing down — in fact, they’ve upped the stakes. Moscow has cut off natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria — Germany could be next. Putin can use energy as a weapon to inflict economic damage on the West — but of course he won’t get the money he needs to fund his war machine. AND the Russians have ominously called the risk of nuclear war quite real.
This is sobering — dangerous stuff. In the Financial Times, a serious, sober newspaper, columnist Edward Luce says the world is in its greatest danger since 1962 — when the United States and Soviet Union came terrifyingly close to nuclear war.
Of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Former President Trump has been saying that if HE was president — Putin never would have invaded. That’s possible — but not in the way that Trump thinks. This is because Putin — who as you know helped Trump win in 2016 — was hoping for another Trump term — a term in which Trump might have pulled out of NATO — there North Atlantic military alliance.
From Washington to Europe to Moscow — there are many people who thought that might happen. One of them was Trump’s own national security advisor — John Bolton. He tells the Washington Post that Trump’s only interest in Ukraine was what its President Volodymyr Zelensky — could do for him:
Again — that was Trump’s OWN national; security advisor — John Bolton. He was ALSO asked this:
Because Joe Biden won the election and not Trump — Putin knew that the United States would NOT leave NATO. This played into his decision to invade Ukraine just a year later.
So when you hear Trump say the invasion wouldn’t have happened in his watch, he may be right — but that’s because he would have wrecked NATO — that’s what his OWN national security advisor says.
Meanwhile another Trump supporter — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul — said something this week that you might find interesting.
He downplayed the Russian invasion — saying all Putin is doing is attacking countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union. He had this exchange with Secretary of State Blinken:
When you think about that — then why stop there? Alaska used to be part of Russia. And the Russians, in the 19th-century, held territory all the way down our West Coast — there were settlements in California. Even today, there’s a Russian River in California, and towns like Sevastopol. Could it be that if you applied Rand Paul’s thinking, the Russians would also be justified in trying to take back Alaska again? Sounds crazy, right? But again — Senator Paul, the Kentucky Republican, says all Putin is doing is attacking areas that Moscow used to control. While we’re at it, maybe Mexico should try and take back Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and so forth.
Speaking of Arizona — the late Senator John McCain — called out Rand Paul years ago — when Paul echoing the Kremlin line — opposed an expansion of NATO.
Horrible sounds from the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — those terrifying moments were the last moments, in fact, for 17 people who were murdered that day by a 19-year old gunman.
This — sadly — is the American way. Guns are now the number one killer of children and teens — that’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like I said, it’s the American way. This audio was from a little league baseball game this week. Nearby gunfire broke out — a couple of gangs — and the video shows terrified players running, or crawling off the field.
Americans like to call the U.S. a unique nation — it certainly is.
A quick look other things in the news this week:
Home Prices up nearly 20-percent for the year ended in February — the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index — that’s a mouthful — says
Phoenix, Tampa and Miami had the strongest gains.
The long-term impact of Covid: A British study says only a quarter of patients hospitalized in Britain have made a full recovery. Woman and people who are obese — are also more likely to experience long-term problems.
And Tesla and SpaceX aren’t enough to keep Elon Musk busy — it looks like the world’s richest man will now run Twitter. In one fell swoop, Musk has become a media kingpin, gaining control over a platform with global reach; a 21st-century Hearst or Murdoch, perhaps. The implications are far-reaching and will likely play out for years to come.
"And now, lets hear about ANOTHER Evergreen podcast — that I know you'll enjoy”
Time now to open up the West Wing Reports archives — and see what made history this week in the past:
Only one person in American history has been:
Ambassador to Britain and France
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense
Make your guess — I’ll tell you in a minute.
1789 - George Washington inaugurated in New York — the first president of course.
1803 - the U.S. agreed to buy the Louisiana Territory from France. The seller was was Napoleon, The Louisiana Purchase doubled America’s size — it’s considered the greatest achievement of Thomas Jefferson's presidency.
1961 — the White House Situation Room began operations. It’s actually not one room, but a series of rooms on the lower floor of the West Wing.
The answer to my trivia question — only one person in American history has been:
Ambassador to Britain and France
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense
James Monroe — born this week in 1758.
Want more history? Check out my books on Amazon — I’ll sign ‘em for you too — just shoot me an email: [email protected]
And need a speaker for your event? I do that too — current events, economics, analysis — history — I connect the dots — would love to hear from you.
Speaking of books — I’ll send you one — IF you download my new app — it’s called — West Wing Reports — available in the Apple and Android stores — just download it on your phone or tablet — there’s a button called “What’s on your mind?” All you do is push, talk and send. That’s it. Leave a comment — and your name goes into a drawing for any of my books — your choice.
I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: it’s from James Monroe:
There is a price tag on human liberty. That price is the willingness to assume the responsibilities of being free men. Payment of this price is a personal matter with each of us.
Think about it.
That’s all for this week. Here’s my email again — [email protected]
West Wing Reports is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Special thanks to CSPAN and the Washington Post for the audio clips.
Our producer and sound designer and engineer: Noah Foutz
Executive producers: Michael D’Aleoia and Gerardo Orlando.