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What in the world happened to Paul Ryan? He used to be smart, principled, thoughtful and gracious.

Ryan was ridiculed after his tweet which made it sound like a $1.50 a week increase in a secretary’s paycheck was good news! Oh, yes, her Costco membership for a year is now covered!

He later deleted that tweet. I thought I’d keep it alive here.

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Wisdom of Eric Trump

“There are things as Americans we should be united on. And if we can’t be united on God, if we can’t be united on African-American unemployment being at the lowest it’s ever been.”

— Eric Trump, complaining on Fox News that Democrats didn’t stand when Trump said we were united on God.

Sorry, Eric, but just because you believe in a sky fairy does not mean I have to stand and applaud it when it’s mentioned, particularly in a governmental setting in a country that should have state and church separated. What is great about America is exactly that – my right to sit when you blather about something that is completely meaningless to me.

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My post titled Stock Market under Obama and Trump of June 2017 attracted a number of comments from an anonymous reader. While I usually don’t respond to posts by readers who do not identify themselves with a name (Hopeyouarentafinancialadvisor), this one had enough substance that I not only thought it warranted responses, but further research and discussion here.

My argument in June was that, yes, during Trump, the economy, as measured by stock market value increases, has been booming, but I wanted to bring back some credit to Obama, where that boom actually had started back in 2009. I used this chart to illustrate that point.

In subsequent exchanges, the reader said I picked a random starting date for both presidents. Well, the day of inauguration is not all that random. The reader suggested I should use the dates of election, and it would show a different picture. So let’s do that and add to this chart:

[click to enlarge]

Source: Macrotrends.net

My point of the original post was that Trump could not alone take credit for a rising stock market. The stock market had been rising since 2009 at a steady clip, without major dips that we experienced in the Bush years. My point also was that Obama entered during freefall, whether you look at his date of election or inauguration. Yes, if you look at the election dates, due to the timing of the Bush freefall, and subtract the two, the election date difference is smaller than the inauguration date difference.

And yes, looking at the graph 6 months later, one year into the Trump administration, it is visible that there is an inflection point at Trump’s entry and the curve has increased to a steeper slope, particularly in the last six months. I give credit to Trump’s approach of opening regulation and pro-business general policies.

However, if you look at a president’s first year in office alone with respect to the Dow, measuring in percentage gains, not point gains, there is a surprising statistic. Trump is only third in history, beaten by FDR and – surprisingly – Obama. This was well illustrated in the USA Today of January 22, 2018:

[click to enlarge]

Here is another view that shows that Obama’s gain during his first year in office was larger than that of Trump. I know Hopeyouarentafinancialadvisor will argue that this should have been done using election dates rather than inauguration dates, and the numbers would be smaller. However, skewed smaller, because since Obama took over during a freefall, we certainly can’t penalize him from the continued drop before things, thankfully, got caught on the bottom.

So I reassert – given the economic conditions of where Obama started – in a mess – he did alright. I wish it had grown faster, too.

Trump keeps saying he took over a mess. He did not. He took over when things were going quite well, and had been going upward steadily for 8 years. That’s not a mess, even if Hopeyouarentafinancialadvisor might argue that it could have been better.

The real numbers, of course, will be those of the next few years under Trump. Will this trend continue? What will a full four or eight years show?

 

 

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The Republicans must be crazy.

The Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House. They have now done so for exactly a year. They knew this day would come. And they could not prevent a shutdown?

And they actually blame the Democrats???

If the president had any kind of leadership skills, if he had engaged himself in the effort and lobbied in Congress and the Senate for votes, if he had put forth a plan and an agenda, this could have easily been done.

But the president is lazy and inept.

The Republicans must be crazy.

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Here is a worthwhile post from a conservative blogger I follow. There are some things I appreciate about Trump — did I really just say that? — but this is one of them. We need  to stop sending American money by the container-load overseas, where it provides fodder for corruption, and where it creates its own subculture of dependencies.

Read the Chiefio’s post and marvel for yourself!

$Billion to Palestine? For what? Dear Mr. Trump: Just stop sending our money to people who hate us. Please.

via $3/4 Billion for Palestine? WTF? — Musings from the Chiefio

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The Trump administration has ordered the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) not to use the following words in official communications:

  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • diversity
  • transgender
  • fetus
  • evidence-based
  • science-based

This is 1984 double-speak.

If they go any further they’ll start burning books in universities. Hiding the truth by not allowing it to be spoken, and making out adverse news and criticism of the government to be lies (fake news), our government is systematically checking off all the boxes on the way to achieving dictatorship.

Then they’ll go after midwives for witchcraft and sentence them to death by quartering.

Then they’ll come after me for writing critical content in this blog.

Then they’ll announce that Trump decided to be president for life, and the title will be inherited by Jr. This is right out of the playbook of the Kim dynasty in North Korea, so fervently admired by Trump.

We need to remove these sick clowns from our government.

vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus evidence-based science-based

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The Tax Cut Thing

I talked to my CPA about taxes. He thinks they are too high. I agree with him. Lower taxes are good. But you can only lower taxes if you lower spending. I do not see any less spending in the budget. The 57% we spend on defense is even going up. If we are lowering taxes (revenues) and not spending, we are increasing the dreaded debt we blame Obama for.

I just don’t get it.

The Bush tax cuts put vast amounts of money into the pockets of the wealthy. The middle class got one-time checks for $200 or so. This drove up the national debt tremendously, and eventually the economy nearly collapsed.

Then Obama bailed out, and in the process added $10 trillion to the debt. Obama didn’t spend more money. Look at the budgets. The additional debt that occurred during the Obama years was to undo damage created during the Bush years.

Now Trump wants to cut taxes again. The budget office calculates that the Trump tax cuts will add $5 trillion to the debt.

Seriously?

We just blasted Obama for adding to the debt, and now we’re adding more to the debt? And that is called fiscally responsible?

I get a kick out of Trump popularizing the estate tax he wants to get rid of. He talks to audiences of his supporters and calls it the “death tax.” The estate tax is a 40% tax on estates after the first $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples. I venture to say that there is not a single couple in those Trump rally crowds that has a net worth of more than $11 million for whom the abolishment of the estate tax would make any difference.

However, there are a lot of individuals in Trump’s cabinet who would benefit from it. And there is Trump himself.

He has convinced the American electorate that the abolishment of the “death tax” is a good thing for them.

A con man Trump is.

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Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Clinton just came out with her own book, titled What Happened. After reading Shattered I decided I don’t need to read Hillary’s book.

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are political writers who had deep access to all levels of the Clinton campaign. Through their insight, they have reconstructed the spirit of the campaign from before it actually began, through election night.

The insight is “shattering.” The campaign was never streamlined. Terrible infighting at the top levels caused the strategy to lack cohesiveness and resulted in a poorly defined message. Hillary never quite clarified why the people should elect her, other than she was, well, Hillary Clinton. Power struggles, lack of direction from the top, and poor use of funding based on analytics that was terribly flawed were the main causes of the eventual defeat.

The campaign didn’t know how close Trump was. Bill Clinton waved off the Virginia governor from coming to New York for the victory celebration immediately after Florida, one of the first states, was called for Trump.

Bill Clinton knew then.

I have always said that Trump did not win the election. Clinton lost it.

After reading Shattered, I am more convinced than ever that this was the case. The Democratic Party elevated an entitled, ego-driven politician, with a muddled message, with terrible baggage, who made very poor decisions along with way, and pegged her against the greatest wild card in American history, Donald Trump. The Democratic Party lost, Hillary will never be president, and the country is being damaged and looted by a self-serving populist con man.

Shattered is a hard book to read. If you are really into politics, if you want to work in a campaign, if that’s your career, this is a good book to internalize. It shows how politics works. I am more interested in the cliff notes, so from time to time the reading was too detailed and dry.

But  then, if you’re going to read one book about “what happened,” this is the book you should read.

 

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Here is Tom Price, the authority on reckless spending, who has just shown us how, given enough backing by a corrupt administration, spending other people’s money on your own comfort is easy.

And Trump started throwing him under the bus, since Price is not really part of the billionaire’s club he likes to hang out with. Price is rich, but not quite rich enough to own his own jet. So Trump didn’t “like the optics.”

I paid over $30,000 in federal taxes last year. Just enough for one of Price’s day trips to have lunch with his son in Oklahoma.

Are we about done with the notion that someone who has spent his life ripping other people off and getting very rich doing it understands how the common people live?

Seriously, are we still convinced that this gang of corrupt con men are in it for the good of the American people?

It’s all about them. In a few years we’ll read the tell-all books and shudder. We have been conned big time.

 

 

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Here is the moment when Senator John McCain voted “No” on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell, standing by with crossed arms, watching every senator vote, walked away defeated moments later. He knew he didn’t have the votes.

It has been incomprehensible to me how a government, by the people, for the people, would want to take action that takes insurance coverage away from a significant percentage of its people.

There are 243 million people in the U.S. over age 16, so let’s call them the adult population. Taking health care coverage away from 26 million people would affect 10% of the population.

Picture yourself being one of those 26 million. You may have had a pre-existing condition like diabetes, and now, by the stroke of a pen by your president, that coverage is gone and gone forever. You have diabetes, and you can’t get insurance that you can afford anymore.

Why? Because evil Obama made it so that wealthier Americans pay more taxes to fund shortfalls. Because insurance and pharma executives make millions of dollars a year and their companies are wildly profitable because their non-competitive practices are sanctioned by our laws and regulations. And because a significant percentage of our government is bought off by those individuals and organizations and they have a president who can’t think beyond soundbites on Fox News and will sign anything as long as it serves his aggrandizement.

This entire initiative to kill the Affordable Care Act is motivated not by making things right for the American people, but by political ambitions. The president has said that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster for the American people, and – by golly – many of the dumbed-down American people believe him.

Congress Republicans wanted to score a point, with the president, and with their paymasters. Now we have a White House that not only appears to have been put in place by the aid of an adversarial power, but it also actively sabotages one of the laws of the land – the Affordable Care Act. Rather than upholding the laws, the government is sabotaging the laws.

Trump says he wants to make America great again. By throwing 10% of the adult population off their healthcare? What kind of problem-solving is that? It’s oligarchy. It’s making himself and those in his orbit in debt rich. I do not understand how he can have 37% of the population is his support. A significant percentage of his own supporters would lose their healthcare coverage. Really? That’s a lot of people supporting Trump with no healthcare. Somebody help me understand that.

McCain understood that, and he listened to his constituents. Unlike dozens of his colleagues in the Senate, who also must know deep down how wrong all this is, he showed backbone and he did what is right for the American people. Too bad there isn’t going to be another opportunity to vote for McCain for president.

For more reading on McCain:

See my open letter, also sent to him in hardcopy: Here.

My book review on Faith of my Fathers. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the man John McCain and the experiences of a prisoner of war. If you only read one chapter, read the one about “John McCain’s Towel.”

Here is an article about McCain and torture.

 

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Unbridled demagoguery has driven the GOP to an inflection point from which there is no turning back. If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.

— Anthony Scaramucci, January 13, 2016, Fox Business

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Punctuating each word — one by one — the U.S. Navy admiral said, “I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer.”

Rogers’ face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: “I won’t do that.”

— ABC News

Trump supporters will call this “Fake News” but fortunately, there is nothing fake about a United States military officer standing up for the oath he took. This is the kind of man we need in a leadership position in our country.

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Ok, let me get this straight:

You get yourself elected, make sure you have both houses of Congress in your party’s control, and then you can do anything you want, profit from the presidency, sell out the country to the highest bidder, launder money for the Russian mob, install your unqualified and unelected kids into high government positions, appoint cronies who are not qualified for their positions, and then commit crimes – say shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue – and then pardon yourself – over and over again.

Trump, with his infinite power, could revoke the 22nd Amendment (Hitler playbook), gerrymander the districts and make sure he gets reelected. If any strong opponents surface, he just has them whacked (Putin playbook).

When he dies, he installs Donald Jr., so we start a dynasty of Trumps for the next 75 years (Kim Il-sung playbook).

That’s what happens when a president can just pardon everyone, including himself.

Meanwhile, America, its values and its institutions, are rapidly going down the tubes. The United States of America is becoming an oligarchy at an alarming rate.

Trump supporters seem to not mind that. Don’t they see this guy is completely corrupt? How is that good for America?

Trump, eight months after winning the election, looks increasingly illegitimate with every day that more information trickles out. Whenever bad news surface, he deflects and questions why we’re not going after Hillary and her emails. Because Hillary is now a private citizen, she isn’t mucking with our country, she isn’t dismantling our environmental protections, she isn’t selling favors to the highest bidders, she isn’t undermining our health insurance system, and she isn’t systematically dumbing down our country.

Go ahead, investigate Hillary all you want. It has no meaning to the county! Hillary has ridden off into the sunset.

It’s Trump that’s doing damage to our country that will take decades to clean up. That’s why we’re interested in his apparently criminal career and current obvious abuses of power.

Don’t even tell me I am just mad that Hillary didn’t win. I am way over Hillary. But I, for one, want my country back.

Now!

 

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Russia, under Putin, is practically a nation run by an organized crime ring, inside and out. Putin’s regime has been accused of eliminating any opposition by arresting the opponents on made-up charges, and there are many accusations of killings of opponents of all types. Read Bill Browder’s book Red Notice for a harrowing story about Putin’s regime. In it, you will learn how the Magnitsky Act came about, the very legislation in the U.S. that was enacted to counteract Russian human rights violations. The Magnitsky Act is also related to the Russian orphan adoption program that recently made headlines when Trump Jr. deflected to discussions about adoptions in the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians. Senator John McCain had a leading role in the Magnitsky Act.

Russia is a nation run by organized crime. It kills opposition inside, and it sows corruption outside. Since Trump took office, Russia now spreads corruption in the United States.

The Trump regime, in my opinion, is nothing but an organized crime ring, installed in the Oval Office. Nepotism abounds. Don Donald installed his relatives in key positions, whether they are qualified or not. Clearly, none of them were elected. Trump unabashedly profits from the presidency. When Jimmy Carter took office, he was accused of somehow having his peanut farm profit from the office. That was a scandal at the time. Don Donald’s conflicts of interest are not even news anymore. It’s a new normal. Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, is serving in prison in Colorado for openly trying to profit from his office and selling Obama’s senate seat. But Trump can try to repeal Obama’s sanctions against Russia so he can continue with his real estate projects in Moscow. All he has to do is tell us often enough that the Russians are our friends, and the American public starts accepting it as reality.

We do not have an administration now. We have a regime. We have joined the likes of Russia, and Iran, and Syria and all the banana republics that came and went. Criminal activity goes unchecked in the White House, and the Republican Party just goes along with it, in the name of power.

The Republican Party has stopped serving the country. What’s best for the country does not seem important to them anymore. Instant gratification is what matters.

It may be that we have to wait until the midterm election before we can throw them all out. With Don Donald and the Trumpashians swept out of the White House, Pence will take office.

Pence is a man who I believe would never have been able to win the presidency on his own. Pence’s ideology is 180 degrees opposing to mine. I don’t agree with his policies. I don’t agree with his decisions.

But I will be relieved. He will bring decorum and dignity back into the White House. He will turn what was a regime back into an administration. We will once again at least not have to be embarrassed about boorish remarks, sleazy public comments, leering behavior against wives of world leaders and personal Twitter attacks against private American citizens from the President of the United States.

Pence will serve for two years, and then he will lose the re-election campaign in 2020.

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Unqualified and Unfit

Trump is our president. He vowed to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

I am not convinced that he is doing that. Making a deal with Putin about not looking to quarrels of the past and moving forward productively is condoning what happened. Accepting Putin’s denial of the Russian hacking is naïve at least, negligent of duty more likely.

Russia is one of the world’s most corrupt countries. If you need further education or information about Russian corruption, read the book Red Notice by Bill Browder. It will convince you.

Up to now, America was in an entirely different league. But that is changing rapidly with Trump and is ilk in office. Nepotism abounds.

He put his daughter at the table with the G-20 world leaders, rather than another elected official or a cabinet-level appointee. His daughter! Who has never held a job in her life that he didn’t hand to her or appoint her to. Who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever. Our president left the cockpit while the ship was under full sail, and he gave the helm to his unqualified and inexperienced daughter. Are the nuclear codes safe with him? Nothing else seems to be.

I wonder what we would have said to Obama if he had sat his daughter at that table in 2014? Seriously!

By inviting the Russians to jointly investigate cyber security, he is inviting the proverbial fox into the henhouse. This is foolish. The Russians are playing Trump like a fiddle. And we’re all sitting here watching in disbelief.

Trump is unqualified and unfit. We knew that all along, and even his GOP opponents proclaimed it before the election. Together with unqualified and unfit, he is now also uneducated and unsophisticated. The world laughs about us and about him. He doesn’t even seem think there is anything wrong. After all, his supporters wanted him to “fix America” and not the world. But with the role and influence of America in the world, that’s just not possible. He is passing world leadership to China and Russia, and that may never be reversed.

China and Russia are smarter, more experienced, more shrewd and more corrupt than we are.

And we are the laughing-stock of the world.

 

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