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Thoughts on Events the Week of May 7

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on May 14, 2018

Trump Screws up, again, this time royally: I listened to President Trump speak about his decision to pull us out of the Iranian nuclear deal, and not a single truthful word came out of his little round asshole of a mouth.

This is the worst international fiasco the United States has initiated since President George W. Bush took us to war with Iraq, and just like that debacle, this one is preceded by a pack of lies.

Trump’s opinion that the Iranian nuclear deal – officially, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – is the worst in history notwithstanding, the JCPOA is the best international agreement of the 21st Century, and we, no other country, are now in willful violation of it.

The Obama Administration, along with our allies, and even adversaries China and Russia, worked long and hard to negotiate JCPOA, in the interest of reducing nuclear weapons…and it was working! Now our government has cavalierly, and without thought of the consequences, backed out on its word.

Iran is now free, if it chooses, to re-engage its nuclear a weapons program, and we have no one to blame but ourselves, and no way to stop it, short of war. Thanks to Trump, we now have two potential North Koreas again, not just one. (What’s that old saying? If you have a bird in hand and one in the bush, let the one in your hand go and chase after the other one?”)

There is no way in which Trump’s decision serves our national interest. Make no mistake, the only reason Trump pulled this spiteful stunt is because President Obama negotiated it. You’ve heard of Bush’s “faith-based initiatives?” This is a Trump “racist-based initiative.”

Just as it was hard to know how the universe would shake out immediately after the Big Bang, it’s hard to see this soon after the chaos caused by Trump’s announcement how things will turn out with the JCPOA. But I don’t think things will go as the Trump Administration thinks they will, if they have really thought about that at all.

Could it be that Trump wants to start a war with Iran so that he can become a “war president?” Is that why he brought Mike Pompeo and John Bolton on board, the only two people I know of crazy enough to state publicly they want military conflict with Iran?

Do the American people want us in another war in the Middle East? I don’t think so. I know I don’t. We’re already pissing away our treasure there, with the exception of that which we give to our richest 1%, with little or nothing to show for it except chaos in the region, delight among our adversaries and dismay and disgust from our allies.

With this irresponsible act, Trump has pulled himself close to a tie with George W. Bush as our worst president. If this decision results in a military conflict with Iran, Trump may surpass Bush. I truly despise this loathsome, pumpkin pigmented pig part.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement debacle is by far the most important event of the week, so important that I’m not including any other items on this blog. I’ll visit others during the coming week.

Status of the States:  Oklahoma keeps the worst state cup until Scott Pruitt is gone. He does something worst cup worthy ever week.

 

 

 

Why Trump lets Putin Slide

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on May 10, 2018

Hey, remember Russia? President Trump sure hopes you don’t. That’s one of the reasons he throws up so much flak, such as porn stars, slandering his own Department of Justice, creating havoc with Dreamers and other aspects of our immigration policy, letting Scott Pruitt hang on as a delicious target and stuff like that. He would love for us to forget that he acts so deferentially to Russian president Putin. And many are distracted from this topic. Fortunately for us, Robert Mueller is not one of them.

So, why does President Trump let Vladimir Putin skate so easily? In fact, it is obvious why Trump is Putin’s bitch. You know why. I know why. Everybody does. But, just for the mental exercise, let’s review a range of possible motives as objectively as we can, in descending order of probability:

Trump may truly believe that the best way to work with Russia is to lay compliments on Putin (Trump sure loves to receive them) rather than sanctions. But this doesn’t fly, because he applies sanctions on other countries easily, and insults our other adversaries and allies alike.

Maybe Trump just prefers dictators over other types of leaders. It’s clear he wants to be one himself, as Miniver Cheevey longed to be a Medici. Perhaps Trump thinks if he hangs around them enough, dictatorship will rub off on him. But this doesn’t really wash, because even he knows enough about government to know our system isn’t made for authoritarians, though he hasn’t given up trying.

Maybe Trump is nice to Putin because his credit is so bad everywhere else that Russia is the only country with banks (all government controlled) who will loan money to him, even indirectly through Russian owned or controlled banks in other countries, such as Deutsche Bank. But Trump seems to have found another despotic country willing to give him loans in exchange for favors now that he’s president – Saudi Arabia. Maybe this will embolden Trump to be a little harder on Russia.

Maybe Russia has been laundering money through investments in Trump real estate for years which has made Trump lots of money, and he wants to keep his good customer happy.

Maybe Trump has been doing crooked deals with Russian oligarchs for years, which if they ever came to light would land him in prison.

Maybe Putin has been behind many of Trump’s deals, and has the goods on him, which he could turn over to the FBI any time, but is choosing to blackmail him with at present, to squeeze favors from his mark.

Maybe Putin has art on some of Trump’s sexual escapades in Russia that would make even evangelicals blush, and Trump knows Putin could get them published in newspapers and magazines all over the world over night.

Maybe it’s all of the above.

 

Gina Haspel – Torturer

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 24, 2018

Former President George W. Bush is quoted as saying recently, regarding something President Donald Trump did, “Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn’t it?” The answer to his rhetorical question is No. George W. Bush was a worse president even than Donald Trump, and the worst in our history, in my view.

Among the several reasons Bush was worse than Trump is that his administration ordered the torture of prisoners by the CIA during the Iraq War and thereafter, contrary to our Constitution, our laws and international law.

We will be hearing about torture and that dark period in our history over the next few weeks, because President Trump (this is one of the reasons he is the next worst president) has nominated Gina Haspel to be the next Director of the CIA.

Haspel had a large role in the program of torturing those prisoners. She was comparable to a German prisoner of war camp commandant in World War II…if you add the torture, and that role will come up in her confirmation hearings.

The CIA will never be confused with the Boy Scouts, or even our military. We ask them to do our dirty work, including some that does not comport with our national standards, and sometimes not even our laws…007 stuff, only for real.

But the period of torture was beyond the pale, and should never have been allowed to happen. Yet, somebody did it. Somebody thought it was their duty to do it, that it was the right thing to do. That somebody should not be the face of the CIA.

The President and the Porn Star Get it On

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 10, 2018

An intellectual and ethical dilemma confronts me. I take the position that consensual sex by a politician is his or her affair and none of my business, unless it interferes with his or her job. Intellectual honesty and consistency require me to include President Trump, which I have and do.

Nevertheless, I would enjoy nothing more than to see Trump’s affair with Stormy Daniels bring him to ruin. I have tried to think of a way to carve out an exception in my position for Trump, but I cannot think of one. Consensual sex is consensual sex, and there’s no getting around it. Now, if Trump is caught breaking the law by paying her off with campaign funds or something like that, I am all in for it.

That said, I can only hope that Trump gets his comeuppance from one of the 17 women who have reported being sexually assaulted by him, or another, fresher one. But even that may not do it. Apparently, Trump’s uneducated, male, white base doesn’t see a difference between consensual sex and sexual assault. Judging from the 2016 election results, neither do 53% of white women.  I lay this all on the ladies. They had their chance to elect a qualified woman and blew it.

 

A Moment of Sympathy for the Trump Children

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 8, 2018

The Trump children have endured unwelcome scrutiny since their old man became president. Cockroaches live in the dark beneath the refrigerator to avoid being seen for the vermin they are. In a reverse manner, these children soar above us in opulent, pampered privacy to avoid being seen for the gypsies, tramps and thieves they are.

Dad has made this difficult if not impossible. We know who they are now, even if they didn’t want us to, because it comes at a high price for them. So with this, I extend sympathy to each.

Donald, Jr. In chronological order, we begin with Junior. He seeks approval from a father whose own father, Fred, never paid any attention to him until Trump’s older brother died, after which Donald was nothing but a comparative disappointment.

Junior learned about business and ethics at his father’s knee. Unfortunately, his father is a poor business man and corrupt. You have to have some sympathy for a young man who grows up in those circumstances.

Finally, Junior exercises his Second Amendment rights by shooting large animals. This is OK with his father’s base, but the rest of us hate him for it.

Ivanka: Clearly her dad’s favorite and the apple of his eye. They seem to have a close relationship, although Ivanka can never be sure if daddy is going to hug her or grab her by the pussy. Trump has said publicly that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter, he would date her. He surely meant this as a compliment, but it comes across as perverse and potentially incestuous.

Ivanka married a man not unlike her father, which many women are said to do. Her husband is rich, but dangerously deep in debt, and he may go to jail (as I said, not unlike her father). Conjugal visits won’t suit Ivanka’s pristine lifestyle.

Eric: deserves the most sympathy. Eric doesn’t seem to have much juice in the family business and is given no meaningful responsibilities. He’s like Fredo in the Godfather.

Also, he is not as handsome as his two older siblings, and people make fun of him about this. Seth Meyers is particularly harsh with such jokes about Eric. I am not fond of ad hominems. They criticize personal things, such as Eric’s appearance rather than his positions…if he has any, which he can’t do anything about. This is unkind and unfair.

Tiffany: For whom, I think, not as much sympathy is warranted. Tiffany seems to have figured how to succeed in the Trump world, namely, keep away from them. She’s like Princess Anne in the British Royal family, though she has had a couple of Hollywood-style public run-ins.

Tiffany has a brain, beauty, a degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is studying law at George Washington University, all of which gives her a better chance than the others to avoid jail. Still, she’s stuck with being a Trump.

Barron: Trump’s only child by his third wife, Melania. Barron is too young to appreciate everything that is going on around him at this historic time for his family, and he seems slightly confused about it all. Perhaps he is on the very mild end of the autism spectrum, or just very shy. Anyone anywhere on the autism spectrum deserves some sympathy. But Barron has a protective mother to look after him, who has sharp, well-manicured claws and fierce, though beautiful, eyes. Barron is safe with her.

More About Guns

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 2, 2018

I got started on guns after swearing not to, and now  I just can’t stop myself. It’s just too funny.

Arming School Teachers: As if on cue, immediately after President Trump recommended arming  school teachers to protect students from armed intruders, a school teacher in George barricaded himself in a classroom and cranked off a round or two in no particular direction. It was delicious refutation of Trump’s ridiculous idea.

Speaking of Gun Control: Trump held another televised bi-partisan meeting with legislators, this time on gun control, and seemed to agree with just about everything Democrats were proposing as meaningful gun control legislation, in particular vastly expanded background checks. Senator Feinstein (D-CA) was smiling ear to ear, but you could almost see pee puddles forming beneath the chairs of the Republican Senators present. Senator Cornyn (R-TX), who was sitting next to the president and so in almost every TV shot, was literally squirming in his seat. He couldn’t even look up for fear the shock on his face would be seen.

I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and give you an hour to draw a crowd if Trump doesn’t reverse himself after he hears from the NRA, Republican lawmakers and his base.

 

The great Republican exodus of 2018 is taking shape

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on March 1, 2018

 I borrowed this headline from Vox.Com, with thanks, from its report that 21 Republican Congressmen have already announced that they will not run again in 2018 (FiveThirtyEight says 24 have already announced). This is the most Congressional retirements in a decade. More retirees (read quitters) have announced since the Vox.com article was posted. 

Many of those calling it a day are committee chairmen, which is also very unusual. These guys hold onto their perks with a vice grip. Some are leaving due to committee chairmanship term limits, which will end their authority. Some think they, and perhaps the whole Party, may get its ass kicked this fall. Some are just sick of it.

Among the most notable quitters is Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who I will miss least of all. Gowdy says he is leaving because of “the increasingly toxic nature of politics,” which is rich, because he is among the most rabidly vicious and underhanded partisan members of the House.

Gowdy led the scandalously partisan and interminable Benghazi hearings, which wasted millions of dollars and a tremendous amount of time. The only result of Gowdy’s incessant hearings was to ruin the credibility of his committee, there having been a half dozen investigations on the same subject previously, none of which found anything wrong. Gowdy’s goal was solely to smear Hillary Clinton.

There is another possible explanation why Gowdy is leaving. He was among the very first to see the top secret underlying support for the FISA warrant controversy currently in the news (and Devin Nunes’ memo), and he knows what’s about to hit the fan.

Gowdy said whatever talents he has would be better used in a courtroom than in Congress. I think he may be right. He seems to know what he is doing as a lawyer, though I would prefer to see him as a defendant.

That said, the Exodus from Congress is nothing like that going on at the White House. It’s like the place was on fire and people are jumping out of the windows.  

 

Trump’s Tax Cut is a Disaster, and It Will Get Worse

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 28, 2018

Okay, I assume you have read my blog – “Econ 1” – or Samuelson’s introductory economics text used at Harvard, so here’s my follow-up on why the Republican tax cut bill is the worst thing that Trump – and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell – could possibly do to us during Trump’s administration, however long it lasts, which is really saying something.

Let’s begin by reviewing three data points:

1)    When President Obama took office from President George W. Bush (still the worst president in our history, in my view) in 2008;

2)    When President Trump took office in 2017; and

3)    The end of Trump’s first full year in office, and roughly where the tax cuts began to kick in.

Jan. ‘08      Dec. ‘16     Dec. ‘17

Unemployment Rate                                              11.1%          4.7%          4.1%

GDP Growth                                                            -0.3%          1.5%          2.3%

Personal Income Growth (Dec.)                            0.4%          0.3%          0.4%

Dow Jones Industrial Average                            12,800      19,964       25,075

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

These data support the narrative agreed to by most economists and historians over the last decade. President Bush left us in extreme economic doo doo at the end of his term, and still spiraling downward when Obama took office.

Against total obstruction by Mitch McConnell, the most unprincipled person to run the U.S. Senate since the Civil War, Obama pulled us out of what became the “Great Recession,” our worse economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, and got the economy growing again. He reduced unemployment by more than half; turned GDP from contraction to positive growth, and the stock market began to rebound.

To accomplish this, Obama bailed out the banks, which he had to do or there would have been a complete economic collapse globally, though in my view he executed it poorly. I blame Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner for that; both Wall Street insiders themselves – Paulson was CEO of Goldman Sachs; Geithner heads a private equity firm – were way too easy on the banks.

Among his other recovery efforts, Obama proposed an infrastructure plan to stimulate the economy and put people back to work, but the Republican-controlled Congress rejected him.

So, in circumstances exactly the opposite of Bush to Obama, Obama turned over to President Trump a healthy and growing economy.

Trump’s crowning achievement in his first year in office was a $1.5 Trillion dollar tax cut. This was a monumental heist of the Treasury for the rich, and the ultimate example of opening the barn door after the horse had already bolted into economically greener pastures. But it is even worse than that, and it is going to get worse still. Here’s why:

This tax cut not only added a $1.5 Trillion to our debt, an outrageously irresponsible thing to do, but it emptied the Treasury, as well. There’s no money left. Anything else Trump  wants to  do, such as for an infrastructure plan, we will have to borrow for, and it will just add more to the debt. In other words, Trump gave all our money to his rich friends, and now he wants to borrow more, which debt you and I can pay for.

To be sure, the tax cut has stimulated the stock market, at least for now. Big corporations have more money, much if not most of which is going to buying back stock. It helps stockholders, but does little for the economy. (Remember, there’s a big difference between the economy and the stock market, especially in the short-term.)

Trump says the tax cut will stimulate the economy, but the economy was already growing, and there are limits to how much faster our economy can or should grow at this point. We are already at full employment, and we are beginning to see personal income (read wages) increasing, finally.

Wage increases are a good thing, and long, long overdue. (Economists still don’t understand why it didn’t begin sooner. I told you it is a dismal science.) So Trump’s tax cut could blow an already warm economic engine. The Fed is now sufficiently concerned about overheating and inflation that it has signaled three more interest rate hikes in 2018.

All or most of us are seeing a little more in our pay envelope, but the vast majority of the cut went to the very, very richest. Warren Buffet announced last week that he gained $29 Billion (with a “B”) from the tax cut. How much did you get?

Trump’s infrastructure proposal would have been a good thing in 2009, when so many people were out of work. It could have helped a lot of people. But today, at full employment, the economic impact won’t be as helpful. It would be nice; we need to rebuild and maintain, but at this point, we don’t have the money to do it. It will only increase the debt, thanks to the tax cut.

Keynes said to deficit spend in hard times to stimulate the economy, but he also said to return the budget to balance during good times. We should have raised taxes on the rich, not lowered them. President Clinton did just that.  He raised taxes, mostly on high income earners, and the economy improved. He spent the so called “war dividend,” on debt reduction, and the economy improved even more.

Turns out too much debt is a drag on the economy. Who knew? Certainly not Republicans. Clinton, with some luck and savvy, left office with a budget surplus, our first since 1969 (under another Democratic president), which George W. Bush maintained…for exactly one year then started the Great Recession.

This tax cut is a disaster. We needed that money badly. With a nod to Jesus Christ Superstar, “Think of the things you can do with that money.”  Trump gave it away to the very rich. And don’t even get me started on the additional billions we are pissing away on our bloated military. That’s a carol for another Christmas. I hate this, and you all should, too.

Econ 1

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 23, 2018

There are two ways to view our economy: with a macro-view, the aggregation of all economic activity from every source; and a micro-view, the economic activity that affects one person or family directly. The macro-economy is of interest to very rich people, large corporations and academics. The personal economy is of interest to actual people.

The macro-view is more complicated, with the result there are many differing opinions about it from equally qualified academics. George Bernard Shaw said famously that, “If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.” That’s why Economics is called The Dismal Science.

The personal view is more basic. It concerns whether a family has enough money to pay its bills this month, and the factors affecting its being able to do so the next.

Rule One of economics for the micro-view is a political one. The president gets the credit, or the blame, for whatever happens during his term in office, whether he had anything to do with what happens or not. It’s too simplistic, but it is the only way we can keep count. (I told you it is a dismal science.)

This rule is why President Trump is taking credit for the relatively good economic performance now, which is in fact running at about the same rate than when President Obama’s term ended and Trump’s began. Obama, not Trump, got this economy rolling again, but Trump gets to take the bows today.

(President Trump tried to take credit for their having been no commercial aircraft fatalities over the last year. This is not quite the same thing, Donald. Your influence was meaningless. No cigar; in fact, you looked kind of silly.)

President Trump is also taking credit, more deservedly, for the dramatic rise in the stock market last year. True, the stock market was rising before Trump was inaugurated, but he has added an accelerant.

This leads us to another rule of Economics. The economy and the stock market are not the same thing, and the latter is a poor indicator of the former. About 80% of stock is owned by 10% of the population, so the stock market affects roughly only one in 10 people taking the personal view of the economy.

What’s more, the economy and the stock market react to some stimuli very differently. An egregious example of this is when companies shed workers to cut costs and their bottom lines improve. This causes stock prices to rise, even without any sales growth, and the CEO gets a bonus, while the personal economies of workers are devastated.

Donald Trump has helped the stock market rise dramatically by giving large corporations and very rich individuals (who buy stocks) $1.5 Trillion dollars of tax reductions. Just gave it away. This has made them all richer, and their stock prices higher immediately, though with no great effect on the macro-economy, and even less on individual economies.

Trump’s tax reductions will send a small amount of money (that’s why they call it “trickle” down) to most, but not all middle and lower class earners, and this may have some modest positive effect on personal economies, but nothing compared to what’s going on with the stock market, which means for those already rich.

Our economy was already starting to do pretty well when the Obama Administration ended. It is hard to achieve a significant percentage increase on such an already large base over any long length of time. Likewise, unemployment is already at almost full employment levels. It will be hard to get it much lower.

I expect the economy to perform much as it has been doing, but not significantly better, because, despite what politicians say, it can’t really do that much better today.

That said, another economic law states that when labor becomes scarce enough, wages will rise, which is long, long overdue in our current recovery. This will cause interest rates to rise. This affect profits, which reduces stock prices.

Well, this is beginning to happen now, and the stock market is becoming erratic. This circles us around to the first rule we discussed: the President gets the credit, or the blame, for what happens with either/or the stock market and the economy.

One final rule. This was included in John Maynard Keynes’ economic theories about deficit spending, but nobody seems to remember this part: deficit spending and tax cuts are indicated to stimulate the economic activity during hard times, BUT, during good times, the budget should be brought back into balance with tax increases and debt reduction.

Please think about this economics lesson, because it will help you understand the blog I will post early next week, which explains why President Trump’s tax cuts were absolutely the worst thing he could have done. (You may have figured it out already.)

 

 

 

 

 

I Love a Parade, just not this one

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on February 8, 2018

I don’t want to write about President Donald J. Trump’s order for a military parade; it’s just too, well, silly. But, the intellectual inconsistency between Trump’s complaints that the military is too underfunded to perform its missions, and demanding a military parade that will cost lots of money and siphon military men and machinery away from those very missions, cannot go unobserved.

This kind of parade is just not our thing, Donald. We prefer parades with happy themes and colorful decorations, not parades of impressive but somber military machines and drab camouflage garb. That’s for North Korea. Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (giant balloons); Mardi Gras parades (gold, green and purple costumes, beads, bare boobs); The Rose Bowl Parade (flower covered floats); even Easter Parades (soft, furry bunnies).

 Besides, there’s something just not right about tanks rumbling down Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the stuff of apocalyptic movies, not our nation’s capital. Can’t you sense that?

 True, we sometimes have big military parades, but those generally occur after a war is over and we have won, so we haven’t really had an occasion for one in quite a while, unless you count President Reagan’s glorious victory over Granada, but that didn’t really merit a parade, did it? It was over in about a day and a half. I don’t remember that we actually had a parade over that one.

We lost the Viet Nam War. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan now through three presidential administrations without a result, or any hope of a favorable one. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might argue that we won the Iraq War, but we didn’t really, and in any case, it turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea. Pull us out of the Middle East and maybe we can talk about it.

There remains the issue of your motivation for this parade. I’m guessing megalomania – your delusions of grandeur. Look, if you really want to get off over a parade, and save a lot of money, go to an Army training base and have the recruits march around in front you to your heart’s content.  

But remember what Medal Honor winner Colonel John Jacobs said about marching, as compared to other aspects of military training: “When you are finished marching, all you have learned to do is march.”

But, if you are hell bent on having this parade (I’m thinking someone will talk or shame you out of it), I suggest you have it on May Day – May 1. Isn’t that the day that Russia and other tin pot dictators and third world despots trot out their military prowess and march it around?