The Skary Skelly 2018 Halloween Message

"When I walk up Main Street, it isn't the same street." Ghost Town (1956), Don Cherry

A particularly scary Halloween has its cold, slimy hooks into us this year — mid-term-elections-level scary. (Maybe even more so; That Donald Trump is no Mr. Rogers in our neighborhood.)

Last year, we noted here The Donald had been President for ten months and virtually nothing had changed. We can now safely superannuate that early observation. It's hard to believe there is anyone still unattuned to the difference. You'll notice a lot more fright wigs on the street this year, many on people not even in costume.

The mid-terms are the thing that will either deliver us from this hell we're living or else seal our doom, depending on which person in a fright wig you ask.

The stock market, which our President thinks IS the economy, is still chugging along in bull-like fashion, although more erratically this year. A little jittery. Old timers on the street would call it a "yo-yo" market. It goes up, it goes down, it goes up, it goes down. Nobody knows why the fuck it happens." (Lewis Black.)

The unemployment rate is down to a 30-year low, while employment is still climbing, albeit less robustly so. But most workers aren't feeling the love. The money seems to be going to someone else. Private sector wages have risen 2% year to date.

GDP topped 4% in the second quarter, which the White House thought could be the start of something big (and enduring), but it dropped back to 3.5% in the third quarter and may well drop again in the fourth. The Economist continues to project full-year GDP growth 2.9%. Not too shabby but far from the stuff of the President's rhapsodic dreams.

The Trump Administration might get more fulsome credit for the economic status quo if the President didn't work so hard to overstate his accomplishments and do so much that makes investors, exporters, importers, manufacturers, food chain enterprises, wage earners and everyone in general apprehensive. Like picking fights with the Federal Reserve, vilifying the press and his own Justice Department, creating conflicts with major trading partners and then trying to take credit for ending them.

And then there's the wall. And breaking up families who show up at our borders yearning to be free. Kissing up to Putin, Kim et al. And generally making a public fool of himself.

The Economist, at least, finds merit in the drift of the President's foreign policy, record. They see renegotiated trade pacts, pushback against China's scofflaw approach to commercial and military relations and Europe's historically lackadaisical approach to military preparedness, and his hard-nosed style in dealing with allies like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

The columnist "Lexington" says the possible outcomes of Trump's admittedly disruptive style could be better than expected. Faint praise, perhaps, but the correspondent points to what Trump's foreign policy supporters argue: "that with naivety comes audacity, with chaos unpredictability, with cynicism realpolitik, and ... these are qualities a somnambulant superpower lacked in its dealings with the world." Yet Lexington still concedes, "It is not hard to see how Mr. Trump could make a mess of this."

Finally, Steven Mnuchin, Trump's Treasury Secretary, along with many Republican legislators and other supporters, seemed pretty sure 2017's much vaunted tax reform plan would pay for itself and then some, with stronger growth, more jobs and bigger paydays. So far it still looks more like a lavish giveaway to corporations and fat cats, which is what everyone else thought it was all along. The federal deficit grew 17% in FY 2018 (now at $800 billion), and corporate tax remittances dropped by 31%.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's protestations to the contrary, federal revenues shrank as predicted once the new tax package rates took effect.

Republicans were quick to absolve the tax cuts of any blame for the swelling deficit, pointing out that, year-over-year, revenues didn't drop; they were flat. But that's only half a story. Month over month, revenues were actually higher in FY '18 ... until the tax cuts kicked in (Feb.). Then they trailed FY '17 in the succeeding months. The exception being April, where remittances were exceedingly high (it really has been good economic times). It's important to remember, though, those were last year's taxes paid at last year's tax rates.

No question tax revenues are trailing down and will continue to do so, under the new rates. That's what happens when either you or the government gets a pay cut. And for the government, that's what a tax cut is.

But consumer confidence remains upbeat, climbing steadily all year. The index is now at its highest level since October 2000. Whatever the future may bring, the general public doesn't expect to see any downturn in buiness conditions over the next six months.

The general public certainly isn't upset enough with the national drift to forgo partying this Halloween, as the National Retail Federation's annual survey attests. (Actually they reach the same conclusion every year, but it's probably true this time.) People may not be making as much as they'd like, but they don't see that the current administration is hurting their pocketbook in any significant way. At this time.

🎃 More than 175 million Americans (down slightly from last year) say they plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending some $9 billion in the process (also down slightly).
🎃 70 percent plan to hand out candy, 50 percent will decorate their home or yard, 48 percent will wear costumes, 45 percent will carve a pumpkin, 32 percent will throw or attend a party, 30 percent will take their children trick-or-treating, 21 percent will visit a haunted house and 18 percent will dress pets in costumes.
🎃 31.3 million Americans plan to dress their pets in costumes, and millennials (25-34) are the ones most likely to do so, the highest figure in the history of the survey.
🎃 More than 3.8 million children plan to dress as their favorite princess character, 2.5 million as their favorite superhero, 2.2 million as Batman characters, 1.9 million as their favorite Star Wars characters, and another 1.9 million will dress as a witch. No political masks, it seems, in mid-year elections.
🎃 Forty-percent of adult celebrants plan to dress in costume. More than 7.2 million adults plan to dress like a witch, 2.5 million as a vampire, 2.1 million as a zombie, 1.9 million as a pirate, 1.3 million as their favorite Avengers character such as Iron Man or Black Panther. Interesting contrast with the kids.

This country isn't just polarized; it's screwed up. Let's let the kids and pets vote. Have fun tonight, you guys. Just remember there will apparently be plenty of crazies out there. And increasing numbers of them are well-armed. Don't you forget to vote.


(Click for enlarged image)

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Tonight's Top Stories / 2nd Childhood Edition
‘Bring it back, baby!’: Carbondale Halloween 2018
Oct 27, 2018 Updated Oct 28, 2018
By Gabriel Neely-StreitThe Southern

CARBONDALE — Carbondale’s 2018 Halloween weekend was a fun-filled freak fest, as the city pulled out all the stops to resurrect a famous local holiday from the grave.

Trick-or-treating started early Saturday at Murdale Shopping Center, on the west side of town where the parking lot was prowled by packs of lions and cheetahs and litters of bear cubs, leagues of superheroes, bales of mutant ninja turtles, enough Navy seals and SWAT operatives to take down Pablo Escobar, and a baby dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Local toddler Waylon Davenport first laid eyes on his dream costume while checking out pictures of his favorite trucks online, one of his preferred pastimes, his father Brian told the Southern Illinoisan.

It was a taco truck, complete with menu, phone number, and a picture of a dinosaur in a sombrero. As his parents and sister pushed Waylon’s Tacosaurus truck through Murdale, all wearing hard-shell-taco-hats, he passed out delicious mini oreo wafer-tacos through the window.

Keeping an eye on the party were several tiny police officers, at least one provocative police officer, in extremely low-cut blues, and many real members of the Carbondale PD, who flipped bison burgers and hot dogs for hungry kids and parents.

Some grown-ups dressed as superheroes, while others dressed as boring grown-ups and totally pulled it off.

Each of the six inflatable bouncy castles on scene, as well as a bouncy obstacle course and a variety of carnival games were offered free to the public. And all proceeds from food and drink sales went to two local charities: the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, and Crimestoppers.

Across town, the Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race lived up to its reputation as a bloodbath and a lightning rod for controversy.

Mill Street was stained with pumpkin blood, as some 45 local teams competed to rig the fastest pumpkin on wheels. The weakest and the slowest were forgotten. The cheaters were smashed.

Two controversial political pumpkins were brutally destroyed at the hands of Saluki alum and Rio de Janeiro Olympics hammer thrower, DeAnna Price.

One was wearing a spaghetti hair piece and a scowl, and was entered into the race under the name “Trumpkin.”

The Trumpkin screamed down the track in only seconds, but was disqualified and sentenced to death for using hidden caster wheels. To put it briefly: Trumpkin might have won the race, but he did so with outside help.

The Trumpkin’s handler, a mysterious, self-proclaimed “independent voter,” named Laura, said she felt it was important President Trump be represented at the greatest pumpkin race in the world, given his presence in the area on Saturday.

“I’m just disappointed he didn’t follow the rules,” Laura said.

Halloween is for the 40-year-olds
Oct 28, 2018
By Dan Kopf, Quartz Africa (

The survey firm YouGov recently asked the question of nearly 3,000 people in the US: 76% of Americans chose Thanksgiving, 19% Halloween, and 5% were not sure.

But the differences across age groups were stark. While only 9% of people 55 or older chose Halloween, 33% of 35-44 year-olds like the spookier holiday more, the most of any age group.

The survey didn’t ask why these younger adults chose Halloween. Perhaps it is the fun of dressing up kids, or for those without them, the joy of going to parties where people are more mature. It could also be that Thanksgiving is less appealing at that age, with the pressures of seeing family and taking care of young children.

Regardless, enthusiasm for Halloween plummets once Americans enter the 45-54 year-old group.

Share of Americans who prefer Halloween to Thanksgiving.