The Tip of the Iceburg

This just in:  Yesterday, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, tweeted to Giuliani, “Buckle Up Buttercup.”  Basically, the ride has only just started to get good.

The “Trump Witch Hunt” handed in 16 more guilty felony counts yesterday; 8 from his long-time lawyer/fixer and 8 from his campaign manager.  Of these 16 felonies, only one really pointed at Trump.  Cohen said he violated campaign laws at the direction of a Republican presidential candidate in an effort to help that candidate’s campaign.

Small stuff, really.

Isn’t that strange?  The president is accused of being a co-conspirator to commit a felony crime and it’s really the least important and least illegal thing he has likely participated in for decades.

I predict Trump is going to face many, many more problems in the very near future.  I think he’ll be charged with money laundering, bank fraud, tax evasion and treason.

All of this illegal stuff, in my humble opinion, is really not why I dislike him so much.  I think he is a scumbag whose twisted personality is so foul it has reached out and affected the lives of every American.

He has made racism okay.  He’s set back civil rights and discourse back to the 1960’s.  He has damaged NATO which has been able to keep all of us safe for nearly 4 generations.  He’s aligned our country with the lowest of dictators and withdrawn our standing as the Moral Authority in the world.  He’s damaged international trade agreements that will lower the economic wellbeing of the entire world.  He’s actively worked to enable  exploitation of the planet; making it acceptable and even profitable.

And worst of all, he’s pulled back the curtain and exposed something I was in complete denial about – the fact that millions of Americans are completely okay with his behavior and even support it.  Nearly the entire Republican Party, that I was once a member of, has been exposed as enablers of Trump.  As he takes one swing after another at the world order pinata, Republicans gather around to scoop up their share of the ill-gotten candy that bleeds out.  So long as there is candy, they will help him do whatever he wants to do.

Why do I say this?  Watch the news today.  Count how few Republicans step forward to wash their hands of this clown.  Right now Fox News is talking about the 70 new jobs in Met Coal (used to make steel) in PA.  This coal mine has nothing to do with Trump but Fox acts like he just saved the world…while failing to notice Cohen or Manafort.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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The Great Moderation

This just in:  Among Trump’s many, many problems, the fact that he is an uneducated child is one of the biggest.

I suspect that a lot of presidents have not been good at economics.  I don’t know this for a fact because they could appear knowledgeable by leaning on the expertise of others.

Trump has shrugged off this idea.  “He speaks his mind” is somehow seen as a strength even if what he says is babble.

For example, trade agreements are often seen as a good deal.  Sure, there is some give and take but in the end, we lock in a trading partner instead of losing them to say…China.  Trump, doesn’t agree with this.  He thinks agreements need to be one-sided where he gets all of the gains and the other gets the “privilege” of trading with us.  He is alone in this as country after country turns away from us in search of other partners.

Another example is the Executive use of tariffs.  Tariffs are a tax on ourselves.  Because Trump is trying to bully China or Canada or the EU, we will pay much more for products from those countries.  He’s pretending that if we make Chinese steel more expensive, we will buy steel from the United States.  It’s as if he thinks there are steel mills that are currently idle and just waiting for prices to change in their favor.  Of course, this is pure nonsense.  But, there is a “being a bully” component that seems to give Trump a woodie.

Now he is picking on the Fed.  To talk about this, I need to clarify a couple of terms.

Fiscal Policy is that policy that covers government expenditures. The government can choose to put more money into the economy, or take it out, based on what they want to do.  A tax cut is a fiscal policy.  It puts more money into the economy and thus stokes the fires of growth.

Monetary Policy is controlled by the Federal Reserve.  This is the policy of raising and lowering interest rates to control how much money is in the economy.  The Fed acts to “cool down” an overheated economy or to keep inflation in check.

From the late 1980’s to the mid-2000’s, the U.S. economy didn’t experience huge swings between growth and recession.  This period, known as the Great Moderation, is in large part due to the active role the Federal Reserve played using Monetary Policy.  They raised interest rates when inflation started to rise and they lowered interest rates if a recession started to look likely.

The tax break is causing inflation.  The Fed is controlling this inflation by raising the interest rates.  Higher interest rates increase savings and decreases borrowing and thus…takes money out of the economy.  Money is more scarce so it is more valuable therefore, the buying power of a dollar is greater and thus…inflation is stopped.

Now, if you read and understand everything I just wrote, you know ten times more about economics than Trump.

Today, Trump is trying to pick a fight with the Fed.  This is like a beaver arguing with NASA about the design of a rocket.

Vote in 2018.  Pick a candidate that knows how to use the talent around him or her to make sound choices.  Or, vote Republican and support the uneducated child that is running our country.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Trump’s Fake Patriotism

This just in:  “Patriotism” is an idea one holds in their head and thus, is subject to interpretation.  What I think it is will differ from your thoughts and neither of us need be wrong.

So, he are my opinions about patriotism.

I think it is patriotic to be proud of your country.  We put a man on the moon.  I’m proud of that.

I don’t think it’s patriotic to be proud of bad actions by your country.  We are enabling hate and discrimination on an increasingly regular basis.  This makes me feel ashamed.  Saying so, does not make me less patriotic.

Avoiding paying your taxes is unpatriotic if you do so in a way that is illegal.  I think it is equally unpatriotic to side with a person that does this by saying, for example, “Manafort is being treated unfairly.”

Establishing a school for the underprivileged is patriotic.  So is donating your time to a charitable cause.

Obstructing an investigation into attacks on the very bedrock of our democracy (voting) is not patriotic. So is enabling that obstruction.

Taking a knee at an NFL game during the National Anthem to protest race discrimination is one of the most patriotic and brave things a person can do.  This is an action approved by the Constitution and draws attention to “hate” in our country with the hope that we will recognize it and eventually, overcome it.

Calling NFL players “unpatriotic” for taking a knee is “intellectually juvenile.” We all grew up in schools that had rival schools.  School spirit demanded we cheered for our team.  Then, we grew up.  We actually moved into neighborhoods where our rivals were from.  We saw they were just like us.  The rivalry, upon closer examination, was just a figment of our imaginations created to make things more fun.

Singing the National Anthem and standing at attention, and saluting the flag and being proud to be an American ….these are all patriotic things but…if you decide to not do them, you are free to do so…because you are an American.

Fostering hate in our country…unpatriotic.

Destroying our national resources to benefit a few…unpatriotic.

Collecting taxes and borrowing money to enrich the already, very rich..unpatriotic.

Calling immigration a threat instead of a blessing…unpatriotic.

Aligning our country with the worst dictators in today’s world…unpatriotic.

Accepting that tens of millions of Americans live in poverty so that we can enrich the very few…unpatriotic.

Weakening the longest and most successful military alliance in history thus making all Americans less safe (NATO) is unpatriotic.

Taking an oath to defend the Constitution and then making a mockery of it’s main tenets such as Freedom of Speech…unpatriotic.

Lying to Congress…unpatriotic.

This list goes on and on in my mind…maybe not yours.

In short…I think Trump is possibly the most unpatriotic person I could imagine…and yet, he’s the president.

He calls the kneeling NFL players patriotic for the same reason a homophobic person teases a gay person.  Trump knows he is a traitor and fears that you might notice.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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The Company Trump Keeps

This just in: “A man is known by the company he keeps.” – Aesop

Let’s pretend that we don’t know Donald Trump.  We have never heard of him and have not seen him in action.

All that we know is that he is in a position to surround himself with whomever he wants…and we know the company he keeps.

What would we think?

Here is a list of some of the company he keeps…

In New York, a city thick with lawyers, Trump hires Michael Cohen.  A self-described “fixer”, Cohen has been described as a mob-boss type lawyer.  He saw his job as fixing Trump messes.  For example, he’s the guy that set up fake corporations to funnel money to women that Trump had affairs with.  He is currently being investigated for Tax Fraud.  He also is being investigated for selling access to Trump once he became president.

Michael Flynn was picked by Trump to be his National Security Advisor.  Flynn lasted about 2.3 Scaramuccis (23 days).  He was fired after it had been discovered that he lied to congress.  Before taking office, he was seen at a table an event in Russia where he was seated with Putin.

Rex Tillerson was Trump’s first Secretary of State.  While he did nothing illegal, he spent his career in Big Oil and was awarded Russian Order of Friendship from Putin.

Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager for about 5 months (15 Scaramuccis).  Manafort was a lobbyist with most of his fingers in Russian related dealings.  He is currently on trial for Tax Evasion, amongst a number of other crimes.

Wilbur Ross, is the current Secretary of Commerce.  Yesterday’s news brought out an article in Forbes describing a grifter scheme that Ross used to steal about $120 million from clients of his investment firm.  Note:  He denies this and has not been proven guilty or even formally charged.

Rick Perry is the Secretary of Energy.  As a presidential candidate, Perry said he would eliminate this agency.

Betsy DeVos is the Secretary of Education.  She is a mega-millionaire and major campaign contributor for Trump.  She is a fan of privatized education and is widely seen as grossly unqualified for the job.

Scott Pruitt was ousted as Trump’s administration of the Environmental Protection agency.  Not only did Pruitt work tirelessly to end environmental protections, he left office while being investigated for nearly a dozen different questionable practices.

While Trump has publicly criticized a number of world leaders, let’s look at a list of those he has praised.

About the Leader of North Korea:

“If you can do that at 27-years-old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that can do that,” Trump added. “So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.”

He appears to admire Putin, one many consider the greatest military threat to the world today

He claims to have a great relationship with China’s Xi Jinping, who is the greatest economic threat to the United States and is currently responding to Trump’s tariffs, tit-for-tat.

He is an admirer of Turkey’s Erdogen, a man that may have staged his own coup in order to facilitate a “cleansing” of his military.  This is the guy that came to the United States and had his private guards beat up some Americans.

He is friendly with Duerte, the leader of the Philippines.  This is the guy that has authorized the killing of people believed to be dealing drugs.  This is not a “trial then guilty then shoot” type thing.  It’s more of a “shoot as soon as you suspect” type thing.

In short, the world leaders that Trump admires are the very same that the United States typically spends a great deal of effort protecting the world from.

I can’t really find someone on the other side of the isle for Trump.  There is no Ghandi out there that thinks Trump is great.

So…if this was all you know about Trump…how would you judge him?

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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My Biggest Trump Disappointment

This just in:  There are all kinds of things about Trump that I have a problem with.  However, the biggest disappointment of all…may surprise you.

Let’s start with the runners up; those things that disappointment but are not the single biggest disappointment.

  1. Healthcare is essentially back to pre-Obamacare.  I can’t believe that I’m still hearing “We, the greatest country in the history of the world, are unable to put in place a healthcare system that little countries like Norway have.”
  2. It’s a little bothering that we seem to be trying to break up NATO.  Not too big a deal as everyone realizes that this is a “Trump” thing and will pass soon enough.
  3. The Republican Tax Cuts benefited nearly no one except the very, very rich.  We are borrowing trillions to pass along to the already rich.
  4. Corruption seems to have become acceptable in the White House cabinet.
  5. Trump appears to be working in the service of Russia.  The Republican party seems to be complicit in that they turn their head or actually enable him.
  6. The current environmental strategy of our government was written by a coal baron.  We have set the stage for massive exploitation of our nation’s natural wealth.  Yesterday introduced a rollback of gas mileage standards.  This increases our fuel costs, harms the environment and benefits only those who depend on fossil fuels for wealth…like Russia.
  7. We have backed away from every single international trading deal.
  8. Trump has made racism and religious extremism acceptable.
  9. The national debt is skyrocketing faster than it has in the history of our country.
  10. Russia is interfering in our elections and I can’t tell if we are doing something about this or if the White House thinks its a hoax.
  11. Education seems to have become a bad idea.
  12. Immigration, one of our greatest legacies, has become a “hate word”.
  13. The world now thinks the United States is on the decline.  They may be right.  Countries that once depended on us are making plans for a future without us.
  14. China, North Korea, Iran and Russia are all growing problems that Trumps claims to have solved by saying, “I have great relations with these people.”

So there you have it…the runners up.

What is the big winner?  What is my biggest disappointment with Trump?

It’s knowing that people I know, people I grew up with, people I once respected…find ways to support Trump.

It’s not that we are on different sides of the abortion issue or gun rights.  It’s that they watch him do one thing on television and then hear him later deny that it happened….and they agree with him that it didn’t happen.

The gymnastics Trump supporters go through to stay attached to this damaged president is very telling.  It makes me think less of them.  I don’t want to but I can’t help but watch them and think, “Have you lost your mind?”

Alas…

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

 

 

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I wish I was wrong more often

This just in:  I see no reason to expect that I am either right or wrong more often than the average person.  However, there are times that I wish I was wrong more often than I am; especially when it comes to this blog.

Being wrong is not really a bad thing.  To discover that I’m wrong is the same as learning something new.  I like to think I can change my mind and accept a perspective that I had not previously held.

Take climate change for example.  I believe in it.  I didn’t do any math but other have and the experts emerged from their “room of math and climate analysis” and declared, “It’s happening and we did it!”

Suppose this same group met again and reviewed their math and then emerged and said, “We forgot to carry the 3!  There is no climate change!”

This would make me change my mind.

Like climate change, I depend on experts to help me to take a side on an issue.  Take Pi, for example.  It’s an irrational number in that it’s digits go on forever without repeating.  I believe this because someone smarter than me did the math.

I said Trump’s tax breaks for the rich would not stimulate the economy.  I wanted to be wrong.  I want 5% growth rate and lots of well paying jobs.  History, however, teaches a different lesson about tax cuts.  History says there will be a brief spurt and then…nothing.  That is what we are seeing now.

I want Trickle-Down-Economics to work.  If the rich have more money, I want them to create high paying jobs.  Alas…this is a failure as well.  This Trump policy is the most disproven economic theory I know of and it is playing out just like the economic experts said it would.  A flop.

I wish it was a fact that separating immigrant parents from their kids is a morally just solution.  Alas…it’s not and I’m once again correct that we should be condemning it.

I wish I was wrong when I said Trump’s tariffs would start a trade war and result in a loss of jobs and higher prices here at home.  Once again…I was, unfortunately correct.

I wish I was wrong when I say that racists and evangelicals are basically the same thing.  But, I’m not.  What’s the difference between hating Muslims and hating non-whites?

I wish Trump was super clever and was actually toying with Putin in Helsinki.  I wish he truly was the “toughest ever” on Russia.  However, I’m not wrong.  Trump is not a smart man.  He is a Putin puppet.

I wish Trump had solved the North Korea threat.  But instead…he just got taken for a ride by Kim-Jong-Waterbrain.

I wish we didn’t need NATO because Trump is certainly trying to end it.  But we do.

Now….what about my assertion that Trump is a money launderer?  Well…I think we’ll see about that pretty soon.

Yes, over the years, I have made mistakes on my blog.  The title “View From The Cheap Seats” is meant to indicate that I’m not always posting an academic White Paper but rather … I’m just telling you what I believe.

Most of my posts over the last year have been trashing Trump and the Republican Party.  I don’t do this because they are on the “other team”.  I do it because they are wrong; at least in my mind.

My mind…feel free to change it.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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My Recipe for Fascist Pie

This just inFascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

That sounds way more familiar than it should.  The question of the day is “How did we get here?”

The following is my own recipe for Fascist Pie

Ingredients…

  • 1 Cup of sifted, unlimited, anonymous, campaign contributions
  • 2 Handfuls of a gullible population
  • 1 tablespoon of greed
  • 1/2 Pound of propaganda machine
  • A dash of racism
  • 1 stick of Russia funded NRA
  • 3 chopped Evangelicals
  • A dash of anti-fact
  • 1 Orange (comb-over is optional)

Mix all of these together and them plop them into an oven set on “FEAR”.  Cook for one decade.

In short…you can’t make a pie with just an orange.  There are a lot of reasons we are becoming a Fascist nation and only one of them is named Trump.

Unlimited campaign contributions are probably the main ingredients here.  However, all this money would have no impact if we didn’t have a political party that willingly takes the bribes and then does the bidding of those that paid them, instead of those that voted for them.  This is a symbiotic relationship.  Citizens United would not exist without the Republican Party and they would not exist without unlimited finances from special interests.

Greed tells the Koch brothers that they need more money.  Greed of Republicans make them willing to take Koch money to pass a tax law that harms our economy. Greed makes Republicans take Russian money, via the NRA, and then not address gun control

Racism, along with Evangelicals are the special spices of this mix.  Both want America to return to some imagined White, Christian nation.  They don’t know it but they are acting as if a White, Christian, Fascist nation is what they prefer.

To keep the population at bay, they must be fed a steady diet of “don’t look behind that curtain in the corner.”  Fox News and the NRA provide this mis-direction.  For example:  If there is a mass shooting by a white guy…”send thoughts and prayers”.  If there is a mass shooting by a non-white then “Terrorism strikes the homeland.”  This sustains the racist and evangelical votes.  Trump tariffs are starting to hurt the economy so, let’s do a show about an ugly dog contest at a county fair.

Gullibility is hard to under-estimate.  Here are 2 examples.  (1)George Bush is president and the gas prices are high.  Fox News reports that the president has no control over gas prices.  Then, Obama is president and gas prices are high.  Now Fox News reports that these high prices are the president’s fault. (2) Obama, the candidate, said he would meet with North Korea without preconditions.  Fox News blasted relentlessly for this.  Trump then says the same thing and Fox News praises him as a man of action.  In both of these instances, the gullible watched Fox News and nodded in agreement.

Note:  If you have not read 1984 in the last 10 years, I recommend you have another go at it.

The orange, Trump, is the cherry on top of the pie.  That pie would exist without him but it would not be nearly as perfect.  Trump is without shame.  He has a complete disregard for any facts that don’t suit him.  For example, right now, his new plan is to act as if Russia did interfere but what they really want is for Democrats to win.  Now, in front of the world, Putin said in Helsinki that he wanted Trump to win.  Today, the White House transcripts and video of Putin saying that have be wiped clean of Putin’s statement.  We all saw it but Trump is acting like it never happened.  Fox News will back him up on this and the gullible will nod in agreement.

The result is a big fat heaping of Fascism Pie.  If you don’t like it and would prefer something else…then change the ingredients.  Vote in November.

Time to save the world.

Up, up and away…

Jim

 

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And the simplest answer is…

This just in:  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

Yes, there are two sides to every story and every coin.  Yes, we have differing opinions and you are certainly welcome to yours.  Yes, they all do it.

However, don’t be fooled into a false equivalency.  Both sides of an issue are not necessarily equal in merit.

For example, if I point at a rock and say, “That is a rock” and you point at the same rock and say, “That is the Eiffel Tower,” one of us is wrong.  Just because we are equal in number and welcome to our own perspectives, we are not necessarily equal in the truth of what we say.

This, and the opening quote, are all intended to set up the following statement…

Congress and the president are offering convoluted explanations to justify their actions; explanations that fall far short of the lowest believability threshold.

My belief is not that they are stupid.  My belief is that they pretend to believe certain things because their “salaries depend on it.”

Let’s take climate change.  The scientific community is in one voice about this.  It is real.  However, Republicans and the President, who are largely funded by the fossil fuel industry, find it hard to believe in it.  Big oil pays then to not believe in it.

How about “trickle down economics” which is the widely disproven idea that if you give tax breaks to the rich, they will create more jobs.  The Republican Party is a huge fan of unlimited campaign contributions from the very rich.  These “very rich” pay the Republicans to believe that tax cuts for the rich actually work.

The Russian funded NRA pays Republicans to believe that gun proliferation has nothing to do with the 35,000 annual gun deaths in the United States.  Republicans believe this because they are paid to believe it.

Now we get to Donald Trump.

Why does Trump have a hard time saying, “I believe Russia is continuing to hack our elections.”?  He has perfect information available to him.  He must have an absolute certainty that this is the case; and yet, he denies it.

Why?

Trump’s job depends on his not believing that Russia is interfering in our elections.

His job depends on it because Putin told him so.  Which, in turn, says that Putin has the ability to end Trump’s presidency.

I absolutely believe this.  However, if you pay me enough money, I might be convinced to believe otherwise. A lot of money…

Up, up and away…

Jim

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The Trump “Walkback”

This just in:  Following Global outrage at Trump’s performance with Putin on Monday, the president decided to rewrite history, putting himself in a better light.

Let’s recap.

I will be paraphrasing here…

The Before Picture

Trump:  I think our intelligence is wrong because Putin very strongly told me so.  I also think that Putin has a great idea.

Putin:  America will give us their intelligence, so we can tell how they wrongly reached the conclusion that we interfered in U.S. Elections.

Democrats:  This is treason

The World: This is treason

The Republicans:  NATO is good, M’kay.

The After Picture

Trump:  I think that I misspoke the other day.  I meant to say that “peach is the best of all cobblers, although, there may be other cobblers as well.  There is just no way to tell for certain.”

Democrats:  Who would believe this bullshit.

The World:  Who would believe this bullshit.

The Republicans:  Whew.  We’re glad he cleared that up so let’s get back to doing something else.

Trump followers: We too love peach cobbler.  Trump is the best.

So there you have it.

Up, up and away…

Jim

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Putting the pieces together…

This just in:  Our Constitution’s system of “checks and balances” is not working.  The three branches of government are not keeping each other in check.  Now I think I know why.

I think we all know by now that Trump works for Russia.  I can go through the list but it comes down to two facts: (1) Trump is actively working to break apart NATO and (2) Trump sided with Putin over America on global television.

So this issue is settled.

Now, this would normally be dealt with by Congress.  They would say, “Hey!  Trump is a traitor.  Let’s get rid of him right away.”

But that’s not going to happen.  It won’t happen because the Republicans that control Congress are also working for Russia.

Here is why I say that…

First of all, they behave as if Trump favoring Russia is no big deal.

Secondly, they are actively trying to stop an investigation into Russian interference in our elections.  All I can say about that is that if this investigation is a Witch Hunt, they sure are finding a lot of witches.

Thirdly, and this is complicated, it has been shown that Russia funnelled money to the NRA.  It has also been shown that the NRA used that money to pay off Trump and a variety of Republicans.  The NRA is currently under investigation over this issue.  A couple of days ago, a female Russian operative was arrested for working with the NRA and trying to use that organization to influence Republicans in ways favorable to Russia.

In short, Russia owns the president and has significant power over the Republican Party.

In my view, the NRA is also the perfect place to find gullible Americans.  Who else would believe gun violence is not related to guns or that gun control only means bad guys have guns.  These people are soft, willing minds, that gobble up Russian created memes about Hillary running a pedophile ring out of a pizza shop. These people love hating NFL players for being unpatriotic…because a Russian meme told them to.

These same people will watch Trump sellout America and find a way to make that right in their minds.

Trump’s Putin Summit was both a disaster and a blessing.

It was a disaster because it showed that he works for Putin.  It was a blessing for the same reason.

There should be not more talk of “witch hunts” and “no collusion”.  If someone stands by Trump now, they might as well wear a sign saying, “I too have sold out the United States of America.”

Up, up and away…

Jim

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