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Confounding and confusing events 6/6/23

The residents of Sumner County, TN are facing a county commission that essentially is against government, and has swung hard right, not a surprise. In fact, it is so extreme that these commissioners are threatening to defund the election commission, I am not quite sure how that works since at least the federal elections are constitutionally mandated. They have the old familiar rants about being constitutionalists, but that only appears to apply to things that they think are right, not what the Constitution actually requires. We have seen this kind of behavior in our history before, and hopefully, this too burns itself out as it demonstrates that it cannot provide what its citizens need and want.

Sinn Fein made substantial gains in Northern Ireland’s local elections which follows on its success in last years in provincial assembly elections. This is viewed as momentous, certainly by Sinn Fein, and poses real problems for the unionists and Great Britain going forward. It has always been Sinn Fein’s goal to reunite Ulster with the Republic.

The Canada/US Intra Parliamentary Group met recently with the US being led by Senators Klobuchar and Crapo and their Canadian counterparts led by Senator Michael McDonald and John McKay as well as several other members of the Canadian Parliament in Washington. These discussions, as they always do, several of which I attended while in Congress and after, focus on trade, security and energy, as well as the general state of affairs, if you will, in both countries and issues that each are facing as they try and work collaboratively to resolve issues and to spur both of our economies forward.

John Bolton, a National Security Advisor in the Trump administration has revealed what world leaders thought of Mr. Trump, which was not much. In addition, he comments on Mr. Trump’s position that he would pardon the January 6th rioters irrespective of the crime they were convicted of. He simply labels this “treasonous”. Trump supporters rumble on.

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch has tipped his hand in terms of what he thinks are important events in the history of the United States. He named the restrictions imposed during covid as an important event. He fails to mention slavery, the camps that were created for the Japanese during World War II, spying by the FBI on civil rights groups, and the list could go on. Mr. Gorsuch only has a white man’s view. Unfortunately, the only black man on the court seems to have the same ones.

Ron DeSantis recently announced his bid for President with the only truly noteworthy aspect being that it was not in person, but rather on Twitter. He really is afraid of people.

Consumer spending was up sharply in April and inflation accelerated. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index rose 4.4% from a year earlier and up from 4.2% in March. The unemployment rate moved up to 3.7% while over 300,000 jobs were created. These results obviously complicate the Fed’s decision on raising rate. The Fed’s job is extremely difficult.

The Province of Alberta recently re-elected its Conservative government after the merging of two Conservative parties, and are now led by a hard-right Premiere. The number of seats held by the Conservative government fell by about 25%, while the NDP increased by approximately the same percentage. This will leave the Conservatives with a relatively thin majority, and poles disclosed some discomfort with the right-wing rhetoric of the Premiere.

For the fourth time in five months, particularly for older Americans, consumer confidence declined to 102.3 from 103.7 in April. The present “situation index” also saw a drop to 148.6 from 151.8. Again, confusing signals to the Fed.

Rising oceans along with subsidence sees New York City sinking by about one to two millimeters per year. This is not an immediate threat obviously, but it does raise concern. I would also note it is not unique to New York, it is true throughout the world, but because of the heavy weight of concentrated large and heavy structures, it is having more of an impact in New York than many other places.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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