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Reconciling Trump’s Incompetency With Economic Success
May 7th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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During the 1980 presidential race, GOP candidate Ronald Reagan attacked President Carter for allowing the National Debt to “skyrocket” from just $700 Billion to $900 Billion, a nearly 25% increase in the National Debt in just four years, implying “stunning fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. of course, what Reagan innocently forgot to mention was that all those loans to pay for the Vietnam War started to come due in 1976 (the year before Carter took office) and drove up the Debt, not because of any “fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. Then Reagan went on to become president, slashed taxes on the wealthy, and TRIPLED the National Debt in just eight years. But Republicans adored Reagan… and still do to this day… for producing a “fantastic” economy (actually, the Reagan economy was less successful Bill Clinton’s. And Carter did FAR better in his four years than Reagan did in his first four.) Reagan traded the short-term gain of tax cuts to rescue a struggling economy in the 80’s for a 300% increase in the National Debt that we’ll be paying off for generations. Short-term gain in exchange for delayed long-term pain. Republicans have a well-documented history (something I document here weekly) of ignoring the future consequences of decisions they make today in exchange for short-term gain.

I remember a few years back listening to a debate over whether or not “nuclear energy” should be included in any discussion of “Green Energy”. The short-term gainers argued that “anything that helps us get off fossil fuels that doesn’t produce CO2” should be considered “Green Energy”. One man pointed out that “If the ancient Egyptians had nuclear reactors and used them to power their cities 5-10 thousand years ago, we would STILL be stuck having to store their nuclear waste today.” That’s an amazing thought. Short-term gain in exchange for long-term pain.

We see this repeatedly among Republicans. “Damn the consequences! Full speed ahead… into Iraq… or exploding the Deficit with tax cuts that aren’t paid for… or rolling back regulations of coal mining (and not just “pollution” regulations either. West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary is being led by none other than Bill Blankenship, owner of the “Massey Energy Coal Mine” who went to prison after ordering supervisors to ignore coal mine safety regulations, resulting in the deaths of 29 coal miners in 2010. (But hey, they all had jobs!). Cutting taxes without regard for the Debt (until a Democrat becomes president)? That’s GOP-101.

Republicans hate “government regulations” the way children hate being told to eat their peas. Those “regulations”… like those mine safety regulations Blankenship ignored… were put in place for a reason. Rolling back regulations might help a few companies save a few bucks today and perhaps create a few more jobs… until one of the reasons those regulations were enacted in the first place comes back to bite them in the ass and ends up costing people a lot of money (or worse.) The consequences of many decisions might not be felt for years, but they always come. How many people predicted we’d still be at war in the Middle-East FIFTEEN YEARS after the invasion of Iraq (which was sold on the promise of an “Arab Spring” where the successful Democratization of Iraq would spread throughout the Middle-East as “dictatorships fall like dominoes?”)

So last week, unemployment fell to an amazing 3.9%… technically “full employment” (ie: if you don’t have a job, you probably don’t need one)… a low not seen since Bill Clinton’s second term. Add to that, the “meteoric” rise in the Stock Market after Trump was elected (the DOW closed at a record high of 26,616.71 on January 26th of this year… an increase of 25.5% since Obama left office. All very good news for the economy, and both are indexes I used to judge the strength/weakness of the economy under both Obama & Bush. And this far into Trump’s second year, he does deserve the majority of the credit for these good numbers (as much as it pains me to say it) because a year of unpopular economic decisions would just as easily have driven those numbers back up.
 

Unemployment rate since Bush's final year

 

Trump nearly derailed his own economy when he threatened to impose blanket indiscriminate tariffs on imported steel & aluminum without regard for country of origin, which threatened to spark a global trade war, first resulting in the DOW losing over a thousand points in one week, then losing a thousand points in one day the following Monday. So current numbers ARE a reflection of current policies.

Under Obama during the 2016 campaign, when unemployment fell from 4.9% to 4.6% on November 1st… three points in just one month… Trump called the numbers “fake” and an attempt by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to help Hillary Clinton. Now the numbers are totally accurate and proof his economic policies are working.

At the risk of sounding like a partisan pessimist unwilling to admit “success” under a Republican president, I’m seeing the same trends we saw under George W. Bush when he slashed interest rates NINE TIMES in 2001 (and don’t blame 9/11. Only TWO of those cuts came after 9/11) to get the economy moving again in his first term (if you have been paying attention this week, the last time unemployment fell to 3.9% was December of 2000JUST as the Republican candidates started talking down the economy as they started their run for president (again, trading short-term gain without regard for the consequences.) Interest rates near zero have left the Federal Reserve with no place to go but up… which we have been putting off ever since. When exploding gasoline prices (thanks to deregulated Commodity Traders) sucked TRILLIONS out of the economy by 2008, “cutting interest rates to kickstart the economy” was no longer an option. Global economic disaster ensued, forcing newly elected President Obama to borrow hundreds of Billions for his “Stimulus”.

Trump’s MASSIVE corporate tax cuts… permanent for the rich but temporary for everyone else… spurred enormous investment in the stock market (almost without regard for profits) because it meant corporations were going to be able to keep more of their profits. Many stocks are likely over-inflated, not justified by their sales figures, which makes them ripe for a crash. Trump is creating a bubble that will make The Crash of 2008 look like “The Good Old Days”. We can’t cut taxes to zero and still fund the government, so the days of goosing investment in the Stock Market with the promise of additional tax cuts are over. Once again, there’s no place for them to go but up. The flood of investors pouring money into stocks to take advantage of larger profit margins seemed to push the DOW to new record highs week-after-week for months. Those record highs stopped with that January 26th record close mentioned above. The DOW has not hit another record high since. By last Wednesday, the DOW was down more than 10% off that record high just three months earlier (though gaining a nice 300+ point bounce Friday thanks to the good jobs numbers for April.) And much of this has to do with an increase in Consumer spending thanks to those (temporary) tax cuts (that will blow a hole in the Deficit for the next guy to worry about.) Yes, those tax cuts for the Poor & Middle Class will come to an end over the next few years, but the Republican philosophy is that in a few years, with the economy growing, consumers won’t need those tax cuts anymore (but then watch how hard Republicans fight a few years from now to keep those tax cuts on the grounds ending them will hurt the economy. This is EXACTLY what Republicans did regarding “The Bush Tax Cuts” that were set to end under Obama.)

Okay, we’ve spurred the economy with tax cuts and deregulation. Now what? How do we keep the momentum going? Trust me. They got nothin’.

Tax cuts alone don’t drive economic growth. And thanks to Trump’s massive tax cut blowing a hole in the Deficit, they are going to HAVE TO raise interest rates (already a growing concern) to fund the government. That will suck Billions out of the economy, slow growth, and cause another Recession. Then Trump’s low-end tax cuts will expire, making the problem even worse (which as I note above, will be the excuse for extending those tax cuts even longer) and make an already bad problem even worse.

Gas prices are also on the rise. Republicans LOVE “Big Oil” and want unrestricted drilling EVERYWHERE. “Wanna drill for oil in the middle of a National Park? Go for it! So with all this additional drilling, why are oil/gas prices going up? The national average price of gasoline is now $0.55/gal higher today than when Obama left office. Oil… $52.42/barrel when Obama left office… is racing towards $70/barrel today. Why? Because the GOP’s love of “Big Oil” isn’t out of a desire to see cheap gas, it’s out of a desire to make oil company executives rich. Enjoy the “good times” while you can, folks!

There are plenty of movie & TV examples of “good intentions gone wrong”. But one of my favorites was a 2002 episode of “The Outer Limits” called “The New Breed” (44 minutes) about a brilliant scientist with a massive ego who invented microscopic “nanobots” that could repair damaged cells on a molecular level to cure everything. At first, the nanobots are a huge success. But then they start misinterpreting normal flaws as “mistakes” that need to be “fixed” (one example: giving the doctor “gills” because he kept testing to see how long he could hold his breath under water.) By the end, the brilliant scientist was begging for death.

And that’s how I feel every time I hear Republicans promising the moon today if we just jeopardize our future. “Too many regulations!” “Fighting Climate Change is costing us jobs!” “Corporations will regulate themselves if they wish to stay in business!” “Ice Cream & candy for dinner! We’ll worry about the tummy ache and cavities tomorrow!” They’ve done it time & time again.

A month ago, I wrote about my concern regarding a possible increasing willingness to overlook Trump’s crimes & disastrous policies should his economic policies turn out to be successful. How much is your soul worth? In exchange for short term economic growth, Reagan’s policies exploded the Debt, made “deregulation” a GOP mantra, and unleashed the Military Industrial Complex. Trump whined bitterly of the Mueller/Russia investigation last week, saying, “The country is running so smoothly”, suggesting the investigation into his campaign’s frequent and unresolved contacts with a hostile foreign power… (“meddling” that even Trump himself now concedes happened)… is just sour grapes by “losers” trying to derail his presidency before his “success” costs them the next election.

The cause for alarm here is that Trump is implementing every economic “trick” in the book… (tax cuts, “deregulation”, low interest rates) usually reserved for emergencies… all at once to goose the economy. The danger is that if things go bad, you’re left with no way to counter the damage and rescue the economy.

It drives me crazy that people can’t see that he’s a conman. PT Barnum in a cheap suit. Trump is (or was before the election) broke, pretending to be a billionaire. His entire shtick has been coning people into believing he must know what he’s talking about because he’s a billionaire. “Trump University”, “Trump Airways”, “Trump Vodka” (not wine but Russian vodka), “Trump Mail-Order Steaks” (I always wondered just how much money someone who made million dollar real estate deals thought he’d make selling steaks by mail?), presidential candidate, and now he’s selling the snake oil of “Trickle-Down” voodoo economics all over again.

And (for now), people are buying it. Lord help us all.
 


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The Path to Hell: Trump Proposes Right Ideas in Worst Possible Way Making Things Worse
Mar 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Trump hosted a rally over the weekend for a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania, where he bragged about himself (natch) more than the candidate. Trump bragged that “Obama, Bush and [Bill] Clinton all talked about sitting down with North Korea, but only *I* got it done!” Yes, because those other presidents demanded concessions from North Korea first, and when they didn’t get them, THEY had the good sense to say “No”. And Clinton/Bush/Obama didn’t say No following a year of breakneck nuclear testing and the appalling death of an American hostage (Otto Warmbier) like Trump had. I keep thinking about the message Trump is sending other rogue nations like Syria & Iran by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un after such behavior? “Develop your nuclear capabilities, kill an American hostage, and threaten Washington DC, and Trump will meet with you too… without preconditions.” Good intentions. Worse outcome. I’m all for talking with your enemies, but you get CONCESSIONS first. And you send envoys first. Not the President himself. North Korea isn’t suddenly agreeing to talks because they fear Trump’s “bluster” (as Trump himself claimed over the weekend), they are agreeing because they want the SANCTIONS lifted (and seeing life in South Korea during the Olympics probably made them think a lot about their own miserable lives.)

Trump also declared… with no apparent forethought… to impose a blanket tariff of “25% on all steel and 10% on all aluminum imported into the United States” without regard for country of origin. Tariffs can be a GOOD thing… when applied on a case-by-case basis to deny impoverished nations an excuse to underpay their workers. But applying the same 25% tariff on German imports where workers are paid more than most American workers, as you impose on China where workers earn pennies a day, is wildly unfair. You’re punishing trading partners whom do us no harm. In fact, you punish some nations which we have a trade-SURPLUS with. And they WILL retaliate.

After an outraged Canada (our largest steel exporter) pointed out this was in violation of NAFTA, Trump amended his impulsive blanket tariff to “exclude Mexico & Canada”. Great! Now he just created a MASSIVE incentive for foreign steel exporters to move to Mexico. I’m sure Mexico is happy about that. American steel-workers? Not so much. So in the end, cheap foreign steel will continue to flow into the United states, but instead of by boat, now it’ll come in by truck/rail across our Southern border, lowering their export costs even more. Excellent work, President Dumbass. You may have just made things worse.

Following the (latest) school massacre in Florida, in a highly-staged meeting with both Republicans & Democrats on the subject of “gun control”, Trump bragged about how HE would “stand up to the NRA”, that HE wasn’t “afraid of them” and that HE would succeed where all his predecessors failed. Then he impulsively proposed “if someone is believed to be a danger, he’d even support taking the guns away first and “worry about Due Process later” (right sentiment. Wrong policy. If a Democrat had said that… OMG! Republicans would be rioting in the streets!), pretty much ensuring nothing gets done on gun control as Trump is forced to walk back his impetuous remark. So then he talks to a VERY upset NRA and they convince him the “solution” is MORE guns and to arm every teacher. Once again, right idea delivered in the worst possible way, resulting in a “compromise” that may actually end up making things worse. What did THE NRA concede? Nothing… though they did “lose” the fight to protect “Bump Stocks”… though they didn’t really put up much of a fight. I’m sure they are delighted that’s ALL they lost. They gladly soldout “bump stocks” (giving Trump his faux “victory”) to save the AR15.

Trump also declared recently that we need to invest in “infrastructure”. Democrats said this for a decade but Republicans repeatedly obstructed them (If you recall, just three days before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota, a bridge collapsed in MN killing four and injuring dozens more, yet STILL Republicans refused to support the Democratic call to invest in infrastructure. Then Trump starts making ridiculous promises of how we can get all of our infrastructure rebuilt on the cheap and Republicans swoon. Never mind the details. So then Trump announce his big plan on how to rebuild our infrastructure for very little money. We basically SELL-OFF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE TO CORPORATE AMERICA, who then turn our roads & bridges into TOLL roads & bridges, public schools into private schools. If you live in rural America where it would be harder for corporations to make their money back, tough luck. Your infrastructure is just going to have to wait. Once again, the right intentions implemented in the worst possible way, only ensuring to make matters worse.

He never actually “repealed” ObamaCare BTW. His followers think he did, but all he did was undermine it in a way that ensures MILLIONS of Americans will find themselves with no insurance (or inadequate policies where every claim is denied.) People were complaining that “costs had gone up too much” and (despite Obama’s assurances), if their doctor was not on their new plan, they could NOT keep their doctor. Well, policy prices went up because insurance companies could no longer sell you worthless “junk” policies where every claim is denied. And you COULD have kept your doctor if Conservatives hadn’t stripped out The Public Option. But now, thanks to “TrumpCare”, insurance companies can sell you worthless policies once again. You can even go totally without insurance if you so desire (driving rates up for everyone else.) But at least you’ll save a few bucks (until you get sick or injured.) And just like that, once again, Best Intentions resulting in a “solution” that makes matters far worse.

Trump rolled out his 2020 Campaign Slogan yesterday. Maybe he should consider “Trump 2020: Best Intentions Going Lousy Yesterday”… BIGLY.
 


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Stunning Trump & GOP Hypocrisy Amidst Wild Week
Feb 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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I‘ve always been keenly aware of Republican hypocrisy. It’s one of the things that drives Democrats like me nuts (which incidentally, gives Republicans orgasmic pleasure because… as I’ve repeatedly said… they’re provocateurs.) They also have an uncanny ability to turn it around and accuse their accusers of being the TRUE hypocrites. It wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t keep falling for it. And we MAY just be nearing one of those tipping points.

The past few weeks of the Trump White House have been some of the worst weeks seen in ANY White House since the start of Nixon’s second term. But we are barely three weeks into Trump’s second year and they are already giving Nixon a run for his money when it comes to scandal. But when you layer ON TOP OF THAT the incompetency, the in-fighting, the chaos, disrespect for our own government institutions, the fiscal irresponsibility and just the stunning magnitude of their hypocrisy, not even Richard Nixon disgraced his office to the degree Donald Trump has (and continues to do.)

This isn’t an Op/Ed on a particular issue in a week FULL of controversy: A plunging DOW, another White House staffer accused of domestic violence is forced to resign, Trump approves the release of a GOP “Memo” attacking the Mueller investigation despite FBI security concerns, but a Democratic rebuttal memo is blocked by Trump citing “FBI concerns”, and #KimJongDon accusing Democrats of “treason” for not applauding his every word at the State of the Union… you know, the way Republicans did at every one of Obama’s State of the Union speeches (including the unprecedented disrespect of shouting “You lie!” at his first joint address of Congress). No, this is more a look at how Republicans… whom have ALWAYS been raging hypocrites… are becoming even more bereft of principle now than ever.

Don Jr… every bit as smug and disingenuous as his father… suggested black critics who once posed for photos with his father and accepted money from him were hypocrites… turning on him only once he became president. One of the people he singled out as a hypocrite was Reverend Al Sharpton… now host of his own show on MSNBC. Yesterday on his show, Sharpton pointed out (in so many words) that Trump’s critics are not the ones who changed upon entering office, it was Trump. Sharpton pointed out that he was one of Trump’s chief critics during the “Central Park 5” controversy, and if Trump actually DID donate any money to black causes, he never saw it.

Which illustrates a point: Republicans see the world through a very special prism. One where they are the benevolent ones contributing to society, and everyone else are the leeches who are a drain on society only to bite the hand (theirs) that feeds it. And because of that self-righteousness, any hypocrisy is excused on behalf of “the greater good.”

Budget/Deficit hypocrisy.

In 2000, Congress had balanced their second budget in a row. The Deficit was ZERO and we were actually paying off the Debt with the surplus. George W Bush campaigned across the country telling Republican voters at every stop that the surplus PROVED they were being over-taxed. “It’s not their money, it’s OUR money, and we want it back!” And the crowd cheered. And that’s why a Republican president will NEVER balance the budget, because the moment we collect enough in taxes to do so, they will point to it as an excuse to cut taxes. How will the government EVER bring down the Debt if every time we bring in enough tax revenue to start paying it off, they reverse it (arguing the resulting economic growth will result in even more tax revenue)? By the time Bush left office, the economy had collapsed and the deficit had exploded to $1.2Trillion dollars.

And when Obama became president, Republicans immediately blamed Obama for the $1.2T deficit… and I’m even hearing Trump and his supporters continuing to do so today (even though it was cut by nearly 2/3rds by the time he left.) In 2011, Congress was faced with raising the Debt Ceiling to pay for all the spending THEY approved. As I noted back in December (“If GOP Tax Bill Passes, here is how it will tank the economy“), self-proclaimed Head of The TEA Party, then Senator Mike Pence, said that if shutting down the government was what it took to get the National Debt/Deficit under control, “I say, shut it down!” Now VP, he defends Trump for saying we should shut down the government if Democrats DON’T pass his massive unfunded budget.

For decades, Republicans ran as “the Party of fiscal responsibility.” Ronald Reagan… after he exploded the deficit… audited the government to (famously) discover it was being wildly overcharged for simple items. Famously, things like “$37 screws, a $7,622 coffee maker, and a $640 toilet seat made headlines across the country. Over 30 years later, Republicans still cite those same overcharges as evidence there is always “fat” we can cut from the budget so we can cut taxes without increasing the deficit. Except they never do. Most of that “fat” was trimmed away decades ago, and the total saving from those cuts is NEVER greater than the resulting tax cut it is used to justify.

Flash forward to 2018. The MASSIVE corporate tax cut Trump just passed is going to create… at a minimum… a $1T hole in the Deficit (and I’m dead certain it will climb to over $2T by the 2020 election… not that I give a rat’s ass what it does to the GOP’s prospects that year. In the 1980 election, Reagan criticized Carter for allowing the National Debt… the total Debt NOT the deficit… to reach $800 Billion dollars. By the time Reagan left office, the Debt had tripled to $2.4 Trillion dollars. And now, I believe Trump’s corporate tax cut will eventually cost us that much money EVERY YEAR.

And how do Republicans dismiss warnings Trump’s tax cuts will explode the deficit? “Voodoo Economics” of course (the idea cutting taxes will result in MORE tax revenue via growth.) They KNOW it’s a lie (well, I’m sure they are plenty of true believers who still believe that crap despite history), yet they support it anyway because they get to tell their voters back home that they can continue to have candy for dinner and never get a cavity! No Republicans is willing to be the adult in the room and say, “No! You can’t have another tax cut! All those nice things you say you want the government to provide for you? Well, those things cost money. And if you don’t think the company you work for should pay for it, then the burden falls upon you.”

When Bush-43 became president, Dick Cheney famously said, “Ronald Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” That huge deficits have no significant impact on the economy.

Except when a Democrat occupies the White House… then deficits are a tragedy beyond words.

The Handling of Top Secret info (aka: “Lock her up!”)

It seems like ages ago now when Trump and his supporters were accusing Hillary Clinton of “mishandling classified info.” The idea Hillary Clinton “recklessly” used an insecure private email server in her home that America’s enemies could (and they suggested “did”) hack into and uncover classified documents. They even pointed to Clinton forwarding emails with a “(C)” designation (for “Classified”) in the subject line as “proof” she was “extremely careless” with classified material (material which had been declassified by the time it was sent.)

Fast forward 6 months later. Donald Trump invites two Russian ambassadors and an entire Russian camera crew (but NO American reporters) into the Oval Office to show off, revealing Top Secret intel on what we knew about the location of (Russian made) North Korean submarines… Top Secret intel we obtained from British Intelligence. Trump revealed to the Russians… North Korea’s ally… that the Brits had infiltrated the NK government, who then likely notified them that they have a British spy in their midst (burning an invaluable asset.)

Once in the White House, Trump proceeded to surround himself with people who were incapable of obtaining a Top Secret security clearance. Rob Porter (Staff Secretary who regularly handled the MOST secret documents and whose job was to BURN those reports when done) could not obtain Top Secret security clearance because BOTH of his ex-wives accused him of domestic abuse. Despite that, he continued at his job handling the most sensitive information in government until he was forced to resign just last week.

White House speechwriter David Sorenson “resigned” as well last week after nearly seven months on the job amid domestic abuse charges of his own. While Sorenson didn’t have direct access to classified information, do you think Conspiracy-minded Trump supporters wouldn’t have been screaming about how “reckless” Hillary was for allowing a clear security threat to have free-reign within the White House?

And many forget Trump’s right-hand man, Steve Bannon, who likewise was unable to obtain Top Secret security clearance because of past charges of Domestic Violence. But that didn’t stop Trump from signing an Executive Order that permitted Bannon to sit in on NSC meetings.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner… the man whom he tasks with every boring job he doesn’t want to do… does NOT have Top Secret security clearance. Yet he sits in on top secret meetings in the Oval Office and handles some of the most sensitive security information imaginable.

And lets not forget Trump reportedly (and the White House denies) tried to obtain security clearances for his kids, Ivanka, Bevis AND Butthead, right after the election. Consider that this is mere DAYS after winning an election due in part to accusations Hillary Clinton was “reckless” with Top Secret information.

Sexual Misconduct

In addition to the White House staffers who were kept on for many months (even a year) despite allegations of Domestic Abuse, there is of course the man himself… Trump… whom they elected in spite of his history of philandering (cheated on wife #1 with future wife #2, and wife #2 with future wife #3), and despite his “Access Hollywood” confession caught on tape admitting to repeatedly committing sexual assault, grabbing & kissing women without their permission, they still voted for him. The same Republicans who decided Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct made him unfit to occupy the Oval Office, were (surprisingly?) quick to defend Trump when news broke that his personal lawyer paid off two women… a pornstar named “Stormy Daniels” and a former Playmate named Karen McDougal… to stop them from revealing just before the election that they had had affairs with Trump (reportedly soon after Melania became pregnant with their son Barron.) At least seventeen women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, all of whom he has branded “liars” as part of a giant conspiracy to bring down his presidency.

And his supporters continue to believe & defend him. They believe in conspiracy theories, and Trump is the king of conspiracy theories (even giving the most offensive conspiracy theory lunatic on cable TV… InfoWars’ Alex Jonesa White House Press Pass.)

Dueling Memos

As you almost certainly know, Republicans in the House and Senate announced last month that they had “a memo” that proved… PROVED… Trump was the target of a partisan witch-hunt being waged by a “biased” FBI in an investigation that was initiated by Democrats during the campaign seeking dirt on Donald Trump.

That Earth-shattering memo “proving” malfeasance by the FBI? The GOP wrote it. Their claims were not true at all (the initial investigation was launched by one of Trump’s REPUBLICAN rivals… almost certainly Jeb Bush… then later passed along to Clinton, who continued it.) They publicly claimed the reason for the investigation were the findings of a biased British former MI6 agent (Chris Steele) yet on the last page of their own report, they concede the FBI investigation was initiated two months earlier based on a warning they received about another Trump advisor (George Papodopoulis). They flailed their arms wildly in outrage over text messages attacking Trump exchanged between two (of among a hundred) FBI agents working on the Russia investigation… agents who had already been removed from the case months ago because of those texts, and cited what was clearly a joke about a “secret society” within the FBI as evidence of some bizarre “Deep State” shadow government working behind the scenes to undermine our hero: poor, misunderstood Donald Trump. And despite security concerns from both the FBI & CIA about possibly revealing classified information should the GOP Memo be released, Trump ignored those warnings and approved the release of the misleading/erroneous memo anyway.

To which, Democrats demanded Trump likewise approve the release their own rebuttal memo correcting those false & misleading claims, to which Trump said he would… but when it reached his desk, NOW he was suddenly sensitive to FBI concerns over what classified intel it might reveal, and refused to approve it.
 

Memo Hypocrisy (:40)

 

Trump minion Marc Short actually defended Trump’s obvious hypocrisy on “Meet the Press” yesterday by claiming he believed Democratic Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff deliberately inserted clearly classified material in the Democratic Memo in order to force Trump to reject it just to make him look bad. No. Seriously.

Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he wouldn’t shut down the Russia investigation, and has publicly ridiculed his own Attorney General. Remember when Republicans were “the law & order Party” that had nothing but good things to say about our law enforcement agencies? Now they’re the “Trash the FBI. Trash the Justice Dept” Party.

Russia

Ronald Reagan… patron saint of the GOP… was the harshest critic and least trusting of Russia as any president in history. Republicans under Reagan justified spending over a Trillion dollars fighting the “Cold War” to defeat the Soviet Union. They were not to be trusted… least of all, someone connected to the KGB.

Today, we have a president who openly defends Russia and thinks former KGB agent Vladamir Putin… a ruthless dictator who has essentially appointed himself “President for Life”, has his critics imprisoned, murdered, or both… is telling him the truth when he insists over & over that he didn’t meddle in our election… something even Trump’s OWN STAFF now concedes is true:
 

Trump vs his own Administration on Russian meddling (:43)

 

And no wonder Trump prefers to believe Putin over his own staff. Because to concede Russia meddled is to concede that maybe… just maybe… Trump didn’t actually win the election on his own and would have lost to Hillary Clinton. And THAT though is just unfathomable to Trump. Remember this is the same guy who denied PHOTOS of the smallish crowd at his inauguration were accurate, and claimed he “actually won the popular vote too… if you don’t count the more than THREE MILLION illegal aliens who voted for Hillary”… an absurd claim with no foothold in reality. But SO fragile is this man’s ego, he’d rather do NOTHING to protect the NEXT election from meddling by a hostile foreign power (let alone investigate the LAST election) than do his job and protect American democracy. (He inaction COULD easily backfire on him. If Putin’s goal is “to sough chaos” in America, if he suddenly decides he doesn’t like Trump, Putin could help the Democrat win the next election and put Democrats on the defensive of trying to justify their own win against accusations of a fixed election. Talk about “chaos.” Do nothing at your own peril, Mr. Trump.

Trump critics make excuses for him when it suits them

Some of Trump’s harshest critics on the campaign trail suddenly discovered a new-found respect for the Billionaire CEO-turned-president as soon as it looked like it might benefit them personally.

We all remember the awkward “Somebody-help-me” smiles on Mitt Romney’s face as he auditioned for the job of Trump’s “Secretary of State”… strung along for weeks and posing for photo-ops groveling at Trump’s feet, stroking his ego, only to be rejected (with rumors everywhere that Romney was never truly under consideration, Trump just liked humiliating one of his critics, like the child sociopath who tears the wings off butterflies, taking pleasure in another’s pain.)

During the campaign, one of Trump’s harshest critics was GOP rival Lindsey Graham. Trump famously gave out Graham’s private cellphone number while on the campaign trail in retribution for some criticism Lindsey leveled upon him. Now suddenly Graham is Trump’s golfing buddy and a frequent defender of the Toddler-in-Chief in the Media. Why? Because Trump is advancing his pet issues. As long as Lindsey is getting what he wants, Trump isn’t an irrational man/child, he’s a patient chief executive who examines all sides of an issue.

We remember Chris Christie attacking Trump on the campaign trail, only to later see him standing behind Trump at campaign events, almost agog at what was spewing from the man’s mouth, all in hopes of being honored with the job of “Attorney General”… which he was was never going to get, only to be excluded from more & more administrative functions during the transition and not included in Trump’s cabinet.

Matt Dowd on ABC’s ThisWeek made the keen observation yesterday: “Trump’s greatest ability is that he reveals people for who they really are.”

Which brings me to the two biggest hypocrisies of all:

“Draining the Swamp” & “A CEO knows how to hire the best people”

These were the two biggest selling points to justify electing Donald Trump to be president. He would “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, lackies & sycophants from the Federal Government and hire only the most qualified people to run our government as efficiently as he ran his corporations to become a multi-Billionaire.

Instead, to date, the only “swamp creatures” Trump has cut loose are people HE HIRED:
 

Trump Admin departures-Feb 9, 2018

 

He filled his administration full of Washington insiders, lackies & sycophants like Steve Bannon… the White Nationalist wife-beater who ran a Right-Wing online tabloid… to be his chief strategist. He appointed Jeff Sessions… the first (and for a long time only) Republican senator to endorse him, to be his Attorney General. He appointed a wealthy donor (and sister of the head of Blackwater)… whom had NEVER held a job in public education, to run his Department of Education. He appointed a Climate Change denier who sued the EPA more than a dozen times to run the EPA, appointed his own Son-in-Law his “chief advisor”, and a former model (Hope Hicks) who worked for his daughter Ivanka modeling her clothing line, to be Deputy Communications Director. Rick “Oops” Perry was appointed to run the very agency he wanted to shutdown… The Dept of Energy… an agency Perry was totally unaware was in charge of our nuclear arsenal. Before Perry, the job was last held by an MIT professor of physics, and before him, a Nobel laureate. And Trump appointed former brain surgeon Ben “Sleepy” Carson to be… not his Surgeon General… but the head of HUD (because Carson once lived in Public housing.) These were “The Best People” he could find to fill these jobs?

(An aside here as I note that EVERY business Trump has pursued outside of real estate empire has been a spectacular failure. Trump Airways, Trump Casinos, Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Magazine… just to name a few… all ended up declaring bankruptcy. His condos are “80% sold” and “80% vacant” because nobody lives in them. His ONLY “successful” business has been selling property to Russian mobsters looking to launder dirty money by purchasing real estate from a greedy moron who doesn’t ask questions when you pay him in cash. Trump isn’t “a brilliant businessman”. He’s the Russian mob’s “useful idiot”… and now they’ve put him in the White House.)

What we’ve learned about Republicans from the election of Donald Trump is that there is no principle they won’t sellout in the name of advancing their ideology. If their word is meaningless and they repeatedly prove their incompetence and inability to govern, why on Earth would anyone ever trust them again? Yet millions happily reject everything they’ve ever claimed to believe in… defenders of law & order, national security and fiscal responsibility… and have done a total 180′ standing all those principles on their head so long as it suits their agenda… which as far as I can tell is simply annoying their critics (because as I’ve said all along, “Republicans are provocateurs who get off on upsetting their critics.”)
 


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Is This the Beginning of the Trump Economy? DOW loses over 1,000 points to start 2018.
Feb 4th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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(UPDATE: Monday, DOW falls an additional 1,175 points… the largest one day drop in history.)
(UPDATE #2: DOW falls another 1,032 points on Thursday.)

Like the old saying goes: “Facts can be stubborn things.” Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered it’s worst week (day?) in two years (I’m having some trouble confirming that statistic, but the 666 point drop on Friday may have been the biggest one-day drop since Bush-43’s final year in office.)

Now, there is no denying that the DOW set numerous records in Trump’s first year… which was easier to do when you START with a strong economy and the DOW already near it’s record high. Under Obama, the DOW grew nearly as quickly his first year in office (see corner thumbnail graph) as it has under Trump, but it wasn’t “setting records” because Bush left him an economy in free fall, needing to gain nearly 6,000 points just to get back up to where it was before the crash. So in very blunt terms, Trump had a 6,000 point “head start” on growing the Stock Market.

In reaction to a good jobs report for January (190K jobs created, first hourly wage increase in eight years), investors panicked… believing either (GOP version) the economy is doing SO good the Fed will be forced to raise interest rates next month to stave off inflation (which is nonsense because we’ve had periods of lower unemployment and higher job growth without needing to raise interest rates), or (MY interpretation) the jobs report confirmed what they already KNOW: that the Fed MUST raise interest rates next month… and will do so at the first opportunity… to fill the budget shortfall Trump’s massive tax cut for corporations and billionaires will create, which caused the DOW to plunge nearly 666 points… it’s worst one day drop since January 2016 (and the less said about that number, the better.)

And that “good jobs report” is terribly misleading: 1) Note the “jobs expansion” is now in its EIGHTH year (so this isn’t a new phenomena thanks to Trump) and Congress has YET to pass a new budget, so we are STILL operating under Obama’s final December 2016 budget.

2) The reported “first hourly wage increase in eight years” was a whopping NINE CENTS and due almost entirely to 18 states raising the Minimum Wage. Unless you have a healthy 401k or other investment in the Stock Market, the average person is actually seeing very little benefit from the rise in the Stock Market.
 

Job Growth by Presidental Budget
Job growth by president
(Trump’s first year in purple, but he has yet to pass a budget.)

 

That region in purple… a straightline continuation of the seven years before it… is what Trump has been taking bows for. As you can see from in the region in green, the last budget of the preceding president continues to impact the economy long after they are gone, and passing your own budget can set the trajectory of the remainder of your presidency. (That little spike at the start of Obama’s first budget is “The Stimulus”.)
 

Don’t be fooled. Trump deserves little (if ANY) significant credit for the good Jobs Report that came out last week (other than he has yet to do any “significant” damage.) And whether or not the economy “takes off like a rocket” as promised as a result of his policies (which are taking effect only now this year) is left to be seen. We won’t know for sure until well after he passes his first budget… and right now, that doesn’t look to be any time soon.

And because of Trump’s massive corporate tax cut, they are going to have to cut spending somewhere. And you KNOW the first place Republicans are going to look. They can’t look to the wealthy & corporations whom they just gave a massive tax cut to, and Republicans will NEVER cut the Military Budget (in fact, Trump wants to INCREASE IT… MASSIVELY… along with Billions to start his ridiculous border wall), so they are going where they always go… Medicare, Social Security and programs for the poor.

But not right away. Republicans still believe Trump’s massive tax cut will increase tax revenue due to all the “economic growth” they are certain it will create. Bush senior called this “Voodoo Economics”, and he was right. Both Reagan, Bush-41 and Bush-43 all tried it, exploding the deficit and massively increasing the National Debt. Reagan and Bush-41 both tried to mitigate the damage by raising taxes 11 times and by hiring tens of thousands of additional government employees. Bush-43 however gulped down the Kool-Aid, steadfastly refused to do either, and nearly tossed the entire planet into another Great Depression.

And now Trump and Republicans with an almost evangelical belief in “Trickledown Economics” are looking to do it again. (And this budget-timebomb is set to go off on the Democrats watch after retaking Congress in the midterms.)

Congress will be meeting again this week in yet another attempt to finally pass a budget. Don’t hold your breath. Nothing has changed and they are no closer to passing a budget now than they were when they kicked the can down the road two weeks ago. We have been operating under Obama’s final budget… passed in December 2016… Trump’s entire time in office. And for all of 2017, corporations have been operating under Obama’s tax rates and Obama’s “Job Killing” healthcare mandate. Trump simultaneously brags of the economy we’ve seen so far despite those “obstacles to growth” while claiming those same obstacles were “destroying jobs.” Clearly they weren’t. Extending the Obama budget may not be the worst thing to happen to Trump. Look how well it has served him so far. Unfortunately we can’t run on the same budget forever. New legislation needs funding. Old projects expire and no longer do. Eventually, Trump is going to have to remove the training wheels and peddle his own damn bike.

I noted in both of my last two Op/Ed’s that the federal government will HAVE to borrow Hundreds of Billions… pushing the Deficit into the stratosphere… to pay for Trump’s massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. And the only way to encourage people/nations to lend us money to fund the federal government is to raise interest rates… which sucks Billions out of the economy as more & more people tie up their money in savings instead of spending it. This creates a deadly feedback loop… last seen during the economic collapse of 2008… where less money being spent means corporations need fewer workers and start laying off people, who now have no spare cash, slowing the economy still further. It’s Keynesian Economics 101 and why “Trickle-down Economics” doesn’t work.

Republicans insisted that Trump’s tax cuts will “turbocharge the economy” (here in Houston, we already have one Republican woman running for Congress using that exact phrase in her ads) as lower tax rates encourage corporations hiding “Trillions” overseas in tax shelters to bring that money home (because what company wouldn’t prefer to pay a low 25% corporate tax rate vs leaving the money overseas in a tax-free tax shelter? Right? #SMH)

I’m being factious, of course.

So last Monday (Jan 29th), The DOW plunged 177 points. On the 30th, it fell an additional 362. A slight rebound of 72 & 37 points on Wednesday & Thursday, only to lose a whopping 665.75 points on Friday (possibly the largest one-day loss since December 2008… Bush’s final full month in office.) And Update: An additional 1,175 points today/Monday.

And right now, there is NO reason for investors to believe the Fed ISN’T going to raise Interest Rates in March. They sure as heck didn’t take to the airwaves Friday to reassure investors that they were worried for nothing and they are unlikely to raise rates next month.

They didn’t say that because they CAN’T. hey KNOW Trump’s tax cuts are going to break the bank and they will HAVE to find a way to pay for it. That means a rate hike… whether the economy needs it or not.
 


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Why a Shutdown? Here is what it would be like if Trump got everything he wanted
Jan 22nd, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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“The only reason the government is shutdown today is because Trump made dozens of ridiculous promises that were impossible to keep.” – overheard in Congress.

A shutdown falls on the President’s lack of leadership. He can’t even control his party and get people together in a room. A shutdown means the President is weak.” – Donald Trump in 2013 during the last government shutdown.

Donald Trump made a LOT of unkeepable promises to his angry low-information devotees during the 2016 campaign, chief among them, his ridiculous promise not just to Wall-off the entire United States Southern border with Mexico, but that he would (“easily”) get Mexico to pay for it so it would not cost the American taxpayers one thin dime. He was also one of the few Republican candidates who felt is WAS indeed possible to round-up & deport over ten million undocumented Mexican immigrants. But then, once in the Oval Office, things got complicated.

While Trump never put his plan on paper, I’m quite sure in his simplistic child mind, he thought “all we need to do it block all Mexican goods from entering the United States” and they would then BEG to meet any insane demand Trump was making… including paying for his ludicrous 2,000 mile long border wall (I’m sure he pictured razor-wire across the top and guard towers every 1,000 yards, too.)

Then reality sunk in. That would also mean no Mexican/South American farm-produce crossing the border, and no immigrant farm workers, meaning food prices in the U.S. would skyrocket (not a big deal for a wealthy man like Trump, but a much bigger deal for his lower-middle class base. Add to that, WE trade with Mexico too! They would block all American goods from flowing South (including American crude/gasoline.) American plants in Mexico looking to ship their products back to the U.S.? They could stop that too. His corporate backers would NOT be happy with THAT.

So “Mexico isn’t going to pay for any F—-ing wall” as former Mexican President Vicente’ Fox put it. They aren’t powerless to stop it the way Trump imagined, and the only one “begging” right now is Trump… begging Democrats and the American taxpayers to furnish the first $20 Billion just to start building his moronic wall while he figures out a way to get Mexico to pay for it… which he never will.

Reality bites.

And you know how it is once America starts paying for some ridiculously expensive project? They convince Congress that we must continue to fund the project just “so all the money spent so far doesn’t go to waste” and “it wasn’t all for nothing” (that’s partly why it took so long to end the war in Iraq… regardless of how many “advisors” have been sent back since.)

In addition, I’m still quite astonished that no one ever seems to bring up the “unfeasibility” of building a wall across the entire Southern border: “Where would you PUT it?” You can’t build it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande because that is THEIR land (as is half that river.) Do we build it on OUR side of the Rio Grand and forfeit the entire river to Mexico? Do we build the wall right down the middle of the river (rendering it unusable?) Less than half of all immigrants here illegally came across the border on foot. Most came here on worker/student/tourist visas and simply never went home. An enormous wall would have done nothing to stop those people from getting in. Walls don’t stop airplanes.

They also don’t stop tunnels. Our Southern border looks like Swiss cheese deep underground with tunnels dug to smuggle both drugs and immigrants into the country. You can’t bury a wall deep enough to stop someone from tunneling beneath it.

But Trump promised his base, so now he’s stuck. Democrats actually said they’d agree to funding that first $20 Billion IN EXCHANGE for Trump renewing the #DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and not turning the “Dreamers” into hunted animals. And according to Senate Minority Leader Schumer, Trump actually agreed to that deal. Then he walked out of the room. About two hours later, members of Trump’s racist (I call ’em as I see ’em) Party got to him and convinced him it was a terrible deal (Reverend Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation yesterday said Schumer’s mistake was leaving Trump alone because “he always agrees with the last person he talks to.”) But not only did Trump back out of the deal, he couldn’t help but poison the well, tweeting: “The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!” accusing Democrats of siding with illegal immigrants over the American People. Republicans had to change the rules to get Gorsuch appointed to the Supreme Court, now Trump wants them to do it again… because the only way The Great Deal-Maker can get anything done is by One-Party rule.
 

Trump the Deal-Maker (:32)

Some Republicans truly believe tens of thousands of children… even infants… should have refused to allow their parents to bring them to this country. “If they are here illegally, they are criminals and must go back” they say. And of course, their “illegal” parents would have to be deported too. But many of these “Dreamers” are adults now with families… children… of their own. American Citizens born in this country. So you deport Mom and/or Dad and leave the kids here? Do we start deporting American Citizens in order to keep families together? I have NO doubt plenty of Trump’s followers fully support that idea. “Send them home. Send them ALL home… back to Africa… er, I mean Mexico!”

Unless the Trumptonions want to repeal the 14th Amendment that declares anyone born here a U.S. citizen… a move that would never get past Congress let alone be ratified by 33 states… the U.S. is just NOT going to start deporting American Citizens just because their parents were brought here illegally when they were just children themselves (but if they DO repeal the 14th, might I suggest they make it retroactive and deport Trump, born to an Irish immigrant mother who was not yet a citizen at the time?)

And once again, reality much teach Toddler Trump another lesson. Oh, but there’s more dear reader!

Most of these undocumented workers are TAXPAYERS. While many pay federal income taxes (particularly Dreamers, many of whom didn’t even know they were undocumented), nearly all pay Sales tax (Just five states have no state-wide sales tax: Delaware, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire and Alaska), registration & licensing fees, etc. The loss of tax revenue would be enormous, vastly adding to the Deficit (another shortfall the Middle-class taxpayer would have to pick up for the corporations in Trump’s America.) And what about our investment in their education? Did we spend all that money to educate them to become productive workers just to ship them back to Mexico? How is it we’ll continue to pay for a useless military plane, a “bridge-to-nowhere” or even an unwinable war just so that all the money we’ve put into it so far wasn’t for nothing, but we’ll educate the scientists & inventors of tomorrow just to deport them to make some other country rich? That’s crazy.

And so, because of these ridiculous unkeepable promises, we’ve shutdown the government until the angry hoards start assigning blame, at which point, the losing side will come begging the other for mercy.

And isn’t that how we got into this mess?
 


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Predictions for 2018: Fasten Your Seatbelts
Jan 1st, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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In the cinematic classic “All About Eve”, Betty Davis tells a room full of partiers to “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Meaning they should prepare for trouble as she comes to realize she’s been played the fool. I stopped wondering early on when Trump supporters would come around and realize they’d been “played” by this irrational, egomaniacal blowhard braggart who’ll say absolutely anything just to win, when they continued to make excuses for him over & over again no matter how easily disproven his assertions were (starting day-one with actual photographs of the crowd size attending his inauguration), continuing to believe this side-show carnival barker as long as he continues to put a “respectable” face on “bigotry”, “hate” and (as with George W. Bush) being “dumb” as something to be proud of. While Mugsy’s Rap Sheet began in 2003 shortly after Bush’s invasion of Iraq and people were just starting to realize they had been duped and there were no “Weapons of Mass Destruction”… just as I predicted, I didn’t start my annual “Predictions” tradition until December 2007 on the old “BI30 Archive” blog (which no longer exists) making predictions for 2008. Ten years later, I have wracked up quite the track record. My success rate over 10 years averages out to 59.5%. Personally, I think anyone who’s predictions are right nearly 60% of the time should be taken seriously (big smile.)

2017 was a challenge having nothing but Trump’s performance on the campaign trail to judge how he might perform once in the Oval Office. But one character-trait was already obvious and has only cemented over time: Trump is a giant toddler, impulsive, easily offended, asserts things as “true” simply because he believes them to be true (whether they are or not), and can’t resist touching the hot stove no matter how many times you tell him “No”. And like any spoiled rich kid (or child of a powerful monarch) whom no one dares say “No” to, he stumbles his way through any endeavor, takes credit for the achievements of others (2017 economy under Obama’s final budget/tax-rates, and Iraqi soldiers achievement in pushing back ISIS), blames his failures on whomever he deems is “out to get him” that particular day (repeated failure to pass ANY major policy initiative promised on the campaign trail… from the “repeal & replace of ObamaCare” that he said would be incredibly easy, only to eventually concede reforming health care was “Harder than ‘anybody’ thought”, to his promise to get Mexico to pay for a massive Border Wall), and then declares himself to be the greatest to do whatever it is he thinks he’s done (even when he’s dead last). I worry my head will fall off my shoulders in 2018 from all the shaking in disbelief.

As usual, we begin by looking back at the predictions of others for comparison sake. You can’t be impressed by my success rate if you don’t know how bad everyone else seems to be at it. And as usual, I remind you that I’m no psychic. I make no claim of amazing mental powers other than my ability to spot political trends and understanding of human behavior.

I’m not going to bother reviewing any famous “psychics” this year. Their act is to simply make dozens (sometimes hundreds) of vague predictions, and when one appears to have come true, they crow like roosters at sunrise until people “praise” them for their “amazing psychic ability.” It has become quite old and a waste of time. Looking back at past years reviews, their track record is somewhere between zero & 1 percent.

No, I enjoy reviewing & critiquing my fellow political pundits… especially self-righteous Conservatives whose predictions always seem to align with their own agenda. “Democrats bad! Conservatives good! Argh!” (wave outstretched arms for effect.) It can really get quite absurd. Why anyone listens to these people is beyond me. Like the saying goes, “Always certain. Rarely right.” Remind you of anyone?
 

The Competition

Fortune Magazine does predictions every year, mostly economic, but will also predict political actions that might affect the economy. If it’s any indication, their Predictions for 2017 included “AOL Will Get Cool Again” (spoiler alert: It didn’t.) So now that you have some idea just how unrealistic their predicting can be…

Fortune’s first political prediction right off the bat: “The U.S. Gets a Giant New Infrastructure Bill”. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Republicans LOVE to promise “infrastructure”… as long as they don’t have to pay for it. Despite controlling BOTH houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans didn’t even mention “infrastructure” in the massive budget they passed last week with enormous tax cuts for corporations and the Top 1%… which will make paying for that “infrastructure” Trump promised next to impossible.

Fortune made only four “political” predictions, and the remaining three were (arguably) all correct… though predicting a GOP-controlled congress with Republican president will cut taxes is a bit like predicting Trump will poop-tweet something stupid at 6am. Ditto for predicting a roll-back of many Climate-Change regulations, continued anti-immigrant rhetoric, and “tax-reform” where they give corporations a huge tax cut (that “will pay for itself with all the corporate revenue it encourages to return from overseas”… dream on.) Barrel of fish? Meet “shotgun”.

Our next contestant is CNN, pitting thirteen in-house advisors against each other to answer the same eight questions… only three of which are political in nature: “location of Trump’s first overseas visit”, “status of the DOW”, and “Trump’s approval rating.” Trump waited until May to make his first overseas trip, visiting nine cities (in five countries) in nine days:
 

Trump's 1st overseas trip.

 

Four (of the 13) analysts get partial credit for saying “Israel” (though technically the first stop was… oddly enough… Saudi Arabia) which was stop #2 on day two of his first ever overseas trip. Honorable Mention to the last pundit (Jeff Yang) for the most honest prediction: “Depends on where he wants to build his next hotel.” Maybe he was the only one to get that question right?

While only two pundits predicted the DOW to lose ground, no one predicted the DOW to close up over 24,000 as corporations poured Billions into buying back their own stock (something that used to be illegal before Reagan) to artificially pump up the price ahead of the massive GOP tax cut for those same corporations and their wealthy owners/investors (allowing them to pocket more of those dividends.) The reason this was once illegal is because stock price used to reflect the health of a company. If a company was successful, it was a safe investment. But now that stock value no longer has anything to do with their success as a company, buying stock is quite-literally legalized gambling. Watch the 2015 movie “The Big Short” for a primer on how over-inflated stock & real-estate values created the 2008 Wall Street bubble that resulted in global economic devastation. (Again, props to Yang for wondering if the DOW will be measured in rubles.)

Trump’s approval rating by the end of the year? Six of the 13 were reasonably close to predict the mid-30’s to 40%. Five said it would be over 50% (one thinking 60%), and radio host Dean Obeidallah being the only one to correctly guess Trump would end his first year with “the lowest approval rating in history.” Such polls only started with Eisenhower in 1953, but Trump did end the year with the all-time lowest approval rating at just 39.3% (the second lowest was Ronald Reagan ten points higher at 49%.) Trump himself believes (of course) that he ends his first year with nearly the exact same approval rating President Obama had at the end of his first year (Trump: 46%, Obama: 47%). Problem is, Trump is citing a single very pro-Republican Rasmussen poll for his figures. Obama’s 12-poll average by December 2009 was 49.9%… more than 10-1/2 points higher than Trump’s… which I’m certain Trump consoles himself by believing that’s “Fake News!”

And again, props to Yang for wondering if Trump’s poll numbers could be negative.

ABC’s “ThisWeek” asked its Roundtable to make some predictions for 2017:
 


Some Predictions for 2017 (1:20)

 

Question: Biggest promise Trump delivers on and biggest promise broken? They did fairly well. While “ObamaCare” wasn’t repealed, it was kneecapped. No Wall. No “Muslim Ban”. Trump tried repeatedly at the latter, and while the Supreme Court eventually ruled a “watered down” version was legal, the appeals courts are still challenging it. So the year ends with no absurd “Muslim Ban”.

And last but not least, my favorite each year, the folks over at Fox “news” Sunday.

This is my favorite part of the prediction game, looking back at how absurdly wrong Conservative pundits get it year after year. The more Conservative they are, the more smug they are when making their predictions. Fortunately for them, #FnS spends no time whatsoever to look back at how they did the previous year, for if they did, several might think twice before daring to make any on-camera predictions year-after-year.
 


Fox “news” Sunday pundits predictions for 2017 (8:49)

 

Laura Ingraham predicts Trump nominates “a judicial Conservative well-liked by the rank & file GOP and is approved by Congress”, but doesn’t cite Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch is eventually approved… but ONLY after the GOP changes the rules, passes “The Nuclear Option”, and approves him with a simple majority (final vote 54-45 thanks to two Democratic defectors.)

Julie Pace only predicts “2017 will be unpredictable.” There, she was right.

NRO’s Mike Needham, a man working had to inherit the mantle of “Worst predictor since Bill Kristol”, said matter of factly, “Obamacare WILL be repealed; HHS Sec Tom Price will do a great job” (he was forced to resign); and the result will be “better, more affordable healthcare.” GOP never came up with a replacement. Their only change was to abolish the “tax mandate” which will result in higher premiums and 18 Million low-income Americans losing coverage.

Juan Williams predicted President Obama to stay heavily in the public eye and become a DC “powerbroker”. Instead, Obama totally eschewed public life altogether, coming out only to partake in a BBC interview last week where he was asked questions by Prince Harry. Obama urging “people in leadership positions not to use social media in a way that fosters division” is probably his strongest rebuke of Trump his entire first year… and even here, never mentions Trump by name.

I’ll let you watch the rest of the video and judge for yourselves the accuracy of their predictions (note: Needham then goes on to describe Obama’s final year… with monthly job gains pushing 200K, unemployment down to 4.6% and GDP of 3.5%… as “anemic” and expected continued job growth under Trump and a GDP of “3%” as “roaring back.”
 

Now, a look back. How did I do predicting 2017? Pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Though if I had stopped after 10, I would have scored a personal best. Oh, well. My first four predictions were so spot-on, you’d be forgiven for thinking I cheated and wrote them last week (I assure you, I didn’t.)

  1. Right: “President Obama’s final budget will still be in effect until October (Republicans actually didn’t pass a new budget until December), so it is unlikely the economy will turn South in Trump’s first year.” – Trump of course is not only taking full credit for his first year economy, but it ALL happened under Obama’s final budget, Obama’s tax rates, and with “job-killingObamaCare in full effect. Trump not only took credit for the economy, he simultaneously criticized Obama’s policies as “hurting job growth” (despite unemployment now down to 4.1%), justifying his massive tax cut for corporations and the Top 1% at the expense of anyone earning less than $75K/year.
  2.  

  3. Right: Trump’s Russian ties will continue to haunt him in 2017, but with a GOP controlled Congress, nothing will ever come of it. – The Mueller investigation continues. Startling revelations emerged of Don Jr, Jared Kushner (Trump’s wunderkind go-to guy for every boring job) and Trump’s own campaign manager Paul Manafort, actually meeting with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, IN Trump Tower… two floors below Trump’s office, and still he insists (16 times in his last interview of the year) that no collusion ever took place between his campaign and the Russians. Four people working for the Trump campaign have been indicted. Two have plead guilty (Papadopoulos and Mike Flynn), and just the other day we learned Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat that the Russians “had thousands of emails on Hillary Clinton”… before news broke that the DNC has been hacked.
  4.  

  5. Right: At least one of Trump’s incompetent appointees will have their appointment questioned and perhaps even be forced to resign due some inexplicable cock-up that embarrasses the incoming Trump Administration. – Enter Mike Flynn, who was fired after serving a mere 24 days as National Security Advisor. The excuse given was that he “lied to the FBI” (about his overseas business interests)… EIGHTEEN DAYS AFTER acting Attorney General Sally Yates TOLD the Trump Administration Flynn had lied to the FBI and was therefore a blackmail/security risk.
     
    Here is the final list of Trump Administration staffers who either were fired, forced to resign, or were “reassigned” (grab your magnifying glass.)
     
    Trump Admin 2017 Departures

     
    Trump promised to “Drain the swamp”, but so far, the only people leaving are people HE hired.
  6.  

  7. Right: Trump will hold a record low number of Press Conferences, preferring instead to use Twitter. No huge surprise here. Trump held exactly ONE Press Conference his entire first year in office.
  8.  

  9. Wrong: Trump will deploy between 100,000 and 300,000 troops back into Iraq & Afghanistan. – Happily, this didn’t turn out to be the case (at least, as far as we know.) Instead, he deployed an additional 3,900 “advisors” into Iraq, Afghanistan & Syria to push back against ISIS. Growing anger against ISIS in those countries for targeting their fellow Muslims (something I had predicted for 2016) has made them quite unpopular, and huge defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army has hurt ISIS recruiting, decimating their numbers (unlike 2015 & 2016, I did not attempt to predict the size of ISIS by the end of 2017, but I did not see the Muslim backlash against ISIS growing so intense in just one year, so I probably would have gotten it wrong if I had.)
  10.  
    Right: – I predict at least five such deadly mass casualty [ISIS inspired] attacks across the world. 2017 was a busy year for ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks around the world:
     

    • New Years day: Istanbul nightclub – 39 killed.
    • March: Car runs over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London. – 4 killed.
    • May: Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – 22 killed
    • June: Eight people are killed when a van strikes pedestrians on London Bridge.
    • April: St. Petersburg underground is the target of a suicide bomber – 15 killed
    • April: Uzbek asylum seeker kills seven people when he rams a lorry into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm
    • April: At least 27 people die in an explosion inside a church in the city of Tanta, Egypt. Another blast kills at least 16 in front of a church in the coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt.
    • August: a van rams into crowds on the Ramblas in Barcelona killing 15.
    • October: eight people are killed when a terrorist in a rental truck speeds down a popular cycle lane in lower Manhattan on October 31.
    • November 24: more than 300 are killed by gunmen in a mosque during prayer in the city of Bir al-Abed, the main city in northern Sinai.

     
    In all, there were 1,128 terrorist attacks (mostly in Muslim countries) in 2017. Is it any wonder Muslim refugees were desperate to come here seeking to escape the rampaging warzone their countries have become?
     

  11. Right: The election of an openly bigoted xenophobe like Trump will worsen [acts of open racism] three-fold. – “Three-fold” is a rather arbitrary figure, but the open protesting of neo-Nazis protesting the removal of Confederate monuments earlier in the year (even resulting in one death as one neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters) was seen in numbers not seen since the 1930’s. And Trump, afraid to offend his white supremacist followers, declared (just minutes after that young girl was run down & killed) that there were “very good people on both sides” of the protest, and that “both sides” shared in the blame for what happened.
  12.  

  13. Right: There will be NO significant border wall construction in 2017. – Shocker, I know. Anyone who actually believed construction would begin on Trump’s ridiculous pointless border wall (and that Mexico would pay for it) are what Turnip-Trucks were invented for. In fact, two weeks before his inauguration, Trump was already walking back the “Mexico will pay for it” claim, and proposed asking Congress to pay for it now with the promise he’ll find a way to get Mexico for it later. Seriously.
  14.  

  15. Right: At least one nation will say Trump is not welcome in their country. – The mayor of London said Trump is not welcome there after retweeting a video by a Far Right British anti-Muslim hate-group falsely claiming to be that of Muslims attacking a disabled Dutch boy, and the British Parliament demanded PM Theresa May dis-invite Trump from a scheduled state visit. Trump is as welcome in Europe as a skunk at a garden party. Trump was also met with protests in Germany during his visit to Hamburg, And during the G7 Economic Summit, the “most fit president in history” who ridiculed Hillary Clinton’s stamina, ended up following the other world leaders in a golf cart as they strolled the streets of Taormina, Sicily, and protests in France against Trump erupted when he snubbed the Paris Climate Accords… a treaty that was signed by EVERY other nation in the world… even Syria & Iran who both failed to initially sign but later came back to sign the treaty. Even China… the country Trump claimed made up the “Global Warming ‘Hoax'” to gain economic advantage as everyone but them agreed to the restrictions… agreed to the restrictions. Russia too signed the accord. Only Trump/U.S. did not.
  16.  

  17. Wrong: We will gradually see less & less of Trump over time [as he comes to hate the job he won but never actually wanted.] – In at least one way, I could have rated this True, with Trump holding a record low ONE Press Conference and spending a full THIRD of his entire presidency on vacation… which I’m certain is likely a record… even after ridiculing Obama on the campaign trail for all the time he spent golfing. But Trump, a total narcissist, lives to be in front of the cameras. Instead of press conferences and giving interviews, Trump hit the “campaign trail” and gave speeches to his throngs of adoring fans.
  18.  

  19. Wrong: Calls for investigations into all of Trump’s conflicts of interest will grow. – I believe the only reason this didn’t gain more traction is because the subject was overwhelmed by the non-stop controversies that seem to emanate from this White House day after day.
  20.  

  21. Wrong: Every building with Trump’s name on it will become an instant terrorist target the moment he’s sworn in, and the cost of protecting those buildings will become a serious matter. Again, also wrong, and again, for the same reason. Just too much other breaking news sucking all the oxygen out of the room. Many have expressed concern over the cost of defending Trump’s multitude of properties, but surprisingly, there have been no reports of attempts to attack Trump hotels/offices around the world. (Note: There HAS been concern relating to the cost of securing all of Trump’s properties while he visits them on “vacation”.)
  22.  

  23. Wrong: Expect at least one American company to file an “unfair trade practices” lawsuit against Trump. I expected businesses and foreign governments seeking to curry favor with Trump by choosing to do business with Trump (booking stays in his hotels vs a competitor, etc) would result in many of his competitors crying foul. But Trump’s global unpopularity has made that less of an issue than expected.
  24.  

  25. Wrong: The promise to “greatly expand the use of coal” and “completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline” will be met with a resounding thud as both projects prove to no longer be cost effective. – I’m going to rate this one wrong, even though the demand for coal did not rise significantly (7.8% in 2017) and is expected to rise only an additional 1% in 2018. Keystone XL output has likewise been slightly depressed as oil prices remained too low to make it economically viable. But oil prices closed at just under $67/barrel… up from $52.42/barrel when Obama left office. (National avg price/gal of gas also up 44cents since Obama left office.)
  26.  

  27. Wrong: I expect Trump’s relationship with Russia to become strained as he grows increasingly erratic. Generally, Trump’s relationship with Putin/Russia is about the same as it was when he took office. In fact, Russia & Israel are the only two places where Trump’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s (see: “skunk” above.)
  28.  

  29. Right: Trump will not be able to amass enough Republican votes (and zero Democratic votes) to repeal “ObamaCare”. Regardless of what they say now, Trump absolutely did NOT “repeal ‘ObamaCare’.” The GOP tax bill did severely harm it and threatens to undermine the program (which will cost taxpayers Billions as 18 Million lose their healthcare), but the program itself, with its requirement insurance companies accept people with preexisting conditions and limit rate increases… are all still there.
  30.  

  31. Wrong: Russia will test their new found relationship with the new administration to see just how much they can get away with. – I really thought Putin would thumb his nose at Trump and ramp up their support of Assad given the opportunity, and possibly become more aggressive annexing neighboring (former Soviet block) countries now that Trump was in office, but they already seem to have everything they want.
  32.  

  33. Right: Don’t be surprised if focus on many of Trump’s campaign promises are overshadowed by catastrophes that develop in his first year. – And by “catastrophes”, I mean problems of his own making. The daily scandals flowing out of this White House (Trump promised to “Drain the swamp”, but so far, just about everyone “drained” from Washington are Trump appointees. Fully ONE-THIRD of Trump’s original staff resigned, fired, or was reassigned) became almost daily news. No one is asking “Where’s the wall” because just about everyone knew it was total bullshit the day he promised it.
  34.  

  35. Right: Trump’s proposed “ten-fold” expansion of our nuclear arsenal? I see just enough Republicans to side with Democrats to stop any such proposed increase in our nuclear stockpiles. No expansion. – Just dumb to begin with. Completely unnecessary and a total waste of money. Plus no one saw it as “a pressing need” that demanded we follow through on it.
  36.  

  37. Wrong: 2017 will be declared “the hottest year on record”. – Damn! This was supposed to be a “gimme”! But 2017 “only” scored in the Top 5.

 
Ten right, nine wrong for an average of 53%. I can live with that, considering how little I had to go on for what to expect what life would be like under Donald Trump.
 

So how about my predictions for 2018? Predicting Trump is like predicting a toddler’s next move. If I could do that, I’d be making a fortune writing books on child rearing. But if you want to know what Trump will do in any situation, you’ll probably do best guessing what an undisciplined child that no one says “No” to, would do in that same situation.
 

  1. We’ve already seen the price of oil (as noted above) rise 20% in just Trump’s first year in office. Completion on the “Keystone XL” and increased coal production were supposed to reduce energy costs as we made ourselves more self sufficient, but the market had other ideas. Investors in the KXL need oil prices close to $75/barrel again to make the project cost efficient, and angering OPEC with his “anti-Muslim” rhetoric certainly doesn’t help matters any. So expect the price of oil to continue to rise in 2018 and the resulting increase in gas prices to start depressing the economy (as well as a number of other factors I will go into below.)
  2.  

  3. The Mueller investigation will continue to cause trouble for the Trump Administration as more & more revelations emerge. And as the controversy deepens and Trump becomes more worried, expect to see him spending more time trying to befriend Democrats as he grows concerned of a GOP rout come the November mid-terms that could lead to impeachment hearings by mid-2019.
  4.  

  5. And as I just hinted at above, rising trouble for Trump at home (more on that below) will make a Democratic rout in November seem inevitable. Expect Democrats to retake the Senate and possibly even the House come November. We already saw major election upsets in Virginia & Alabama. Expect that trend to continue into the 2018 mid-terms.
  6.  

  7. As the price of oil continues to rise (and the price of gas with it), sucking more and more money out of the economy, expect an economic slowdown by years end. Not only will rising gas prices suck billions out of the economy just as it did leading up to the 2008 crash, but expect interest rates to continue to rise (already raised three times in 2017) as the Fed finds it must lure investors to pay for the $1.5 Trillion dollar deficit Trump’s budget will create thanks to his irresponsible tax cuts (“deficits” only matter to Republicans when a Democrat is in office), the cost of doing business will also rise. Rising prices and less money in the system (because of more people putting their money in the bank to take advantage of rising rates), means a slowing economy. Trump took credit for the economy under Obama’s final budget & tax rates, but 2018 belongs to Trump. The economy, the unemployment rate, the deficit, wherever it goes from here, there’ll be no one to blame but himself.
  8.  
    (Note: Kind of a prediction for 2019, but I can already see Republicans are setting Democrats up for a fall. As the economy slows and controversy sweeps Democrats into power, the slowdown will continue into 2019, and many of the causes… like Trump’s massive tax cut for corporations… they just can’t be undone with a massive 19.5% corporate tax hike during a slumping economy headed for Recession. Republicans will be sure to point to Democrats and blame them for the economic timebomb they left them. But that’s a prediction for 2019.)
     

  9. And when the deficit starts to explode, Republicans will use it as an excuse to cut entitlements and programs for the poor.
  10.  

  11. And as such, unemployment will be up by years end. It is currently 4.1%. I would not be surprised to see unemployment close to 6% by years end if the economic slowdown I predict comes to pass.
  12.  

  13. The Wall? Yeah, that’s still going nowhere. Congress isn’t going to pay for it… especially in light of the rapidly increasing deficit thanks to the massive irresponsible tax cut Republican’s passed. There will be no significant progress on any “border wall” in 2018. There will be too much other stuff for Republicans to worry about in the coming year.
  14.  

  15. Trump’s approval rating? Already in the toilet (as noted earlier), with a slowing economy, major promises that continue to go unkept, increased “scandal” stemming from the Mueller investigation, I would not be surprised if Trump’s approval rating is below 30% by years end. Presidential approval ratings tracks with the Economy, and Trump is already in the low 30’s in a good economy.
  16.  

  17. And on that note, I question whether Mueller acts in time for the mid-terms. Much in the way former FBI Director James Comey was paranoid about possibly being accused of “shielding” Hillary Clinton if he hadn’t disclosed they were reopening the investigation into her missing emails after it was discovered disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner had been sharing emails with his wife, Huma Abadeen. I have some concern Mueller might consider waiting until after the 2018 mid-terms to announce anything significant regarding the case against Trump. I’m going to predict that does NOT happen, Mueller releases some controversial findings before the mid-term election, but will wait so long he will be criticized for “waiting too long” to have a greater impact on the election.
  18.  

  19. Republican Party also used info obtained from Russian hackers to target down-ballot races. As controversy over GOP misconduct grows, Dem chances in the mid-terms improve.
  20.  

  21. And Trump, Master of Distraction that he is, will find ways to distract the public from the growing controversy swirling around his Russia ties during the campaign. “Russia-Gate” will continue to dog Trump throughout 2018, but I have my concerns over just how desperate he’ll become to distract from the controversy. A year ago (before he took office), I might have worried he might start a war with North Korea just to escape scrutiny over his Russia ties or business dealings, but he didn’t send hundreds of thousands of troops into Afghanistan like I expected, so maybe he’s more adverse to military conflict than I first suspected. There’s always a chance his incompetent bungling could provoke an attack, but I don’t see him initiating one just to distract from his problems at home.
  22.  

  23. And speaking of Trump’s “business dealings”, I would be surprised if one of the revelations to come out of the Mueller investigation is Trump’s business ties to the Russian Mob. We already have significant (if not incontrovertible) proof Trump did business with the Russian Mob in his real estate dealings, and Russian money launders permeate his campaign like stench on a cowpie, but Mueller will make it official in 2018 as it is revealed they uncovered evidence of Russian Mob money finding its way into the “Trump 2016” campaign.
  24.  

  25. And as Mueller’s reports grow more & more damning of the Trump Campaign’s links to Russia, Republicans will grow increasingly desperate to discredit him. Possibly with Republicans launching an investigation of their own… into Mueller to accuse him of being on a “partisan witch hunt”. Republican will continue to try to discredit Mueller and the FBI in much the same way they try to discredit legitimate investigative news as “fake news” so that no matter the findings, they can simply dismiss them as coming from an unreliable source no matter how airtight the evidence (ala “The OJ Trial”.)
  26.  

  27. Will Bernie declare he’s running for prez again after mid-terms? I suspect he will. He is already (in 2017) traveling the country, giving speeches, and energizing crowds in key election states like Iowa.
  28.  

  29. North Korea. Despite a flurry of activity in mid/late 2017, I think Toddler Trump grew weary of his new toy and stopped paying as much attention to Kim Jong Un… who in turn is talking less about Trump. While I do worry that growing provocative rhetoric between these two powerful spoiled children that no one says “No” to could lead to one one of them doing something stupid, I’m going to predict cooler heads prevail and we see no significant conflict between the U.S. and North Korea in 2018.
  30.  

  31. I predict Michael Flynn will testify in open court about what Trump knew about Russian involvement/support of his campaign.
  32.  

  33. Trump’s history of incessant Tweeting will come back to haunt him as past tweeted statements will be used to contradict assertions he makes to defend himself in Russia investigation (and trying to discredit witnesses.)
  34.  

  35. Democratic leaders (but maybe not Congressional candidates themselves) will (stupidly) do their best to downplay the possibility of “impeachment” in the lead up to the 2018 mid-term election. This is exactly what they did in 2004, and despite American’s realizing they were lied to about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as a pretext for launching an unnecessary war of aggression against Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, and that war still raging more than a year later, Democrats were afraid that if voters thought they’d spend all their time impeaching the president, they wouldn’t be focused on their jobs. The result? Republicans retained control of both the House and Senate, leading up to the economic downturn that led to the crash of 2008.
  36.  

  37. Puerto Rico will still be far from recovered from the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season before suffering additional damage in the 2018 season.
  38.  

  39. The war in Afghanistan will still be going on by years end. The first recruits who weren’t even born yet on 9/11 will be signing up to join the military and preparing to be sent overseas to fight a war older than they are.

 

And that’s my list of predictions for 2018. Sorry for all the doom & gloom. But at least I don’t foresee a war with North Korea. That’s something, right?
 


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If GOP Tax Bill Passes, here is how it will tank the economy
Dec 4th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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There are two famous quotes I keep returning to again & again:
 

“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke, Irish Statesman (1729-1797)

and

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over, and expecting a different result each time.”
 – Author Rita Mae Brown (not Einstein) as quoted by the AA/NA sobriety guides (1983)

 

Every tax policy analyst who has looked at the Republican tax plan agrees that (if passed) it will create a huge hole in the Deficit and “add as much as $1.4 Trillion to the National Debt” (I believe they mean “Deficit”, not “Debt”)… which I can assure you is WILDLY understating what this bill would do to the Deficit, National Debt, and the economy as a whole.

I find myself actually stunned (well, not really) Republicans… self-proclaimed “Deficit Hawks” when Obama was president… would so blatantly try to sell us “Voodoo Economics” again with a straight face. They aren’t even being coy about it. They talk about Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy “supercharging” our economy as though it’s never been tried before. It appears Republicans now meet the definition of “insane”… doing the same thing over & over again, expecting a different result. Ronald Reagan slashed the top tax rate on the rich to “just 50%”… a rate we are wildly below today and Trump would have us more than slash in half (but assures us it wouldn’t benefit him personally)… and by the end of Reagan’s first budget (the end of his second year), unemployment had SOARED to 10.8%… despite November/December holiday shopping and seasonal hiring boosting the economy. The Federal budget for the coming year is passed every December. We are still coasting on Obama’s last budget (and Trump is taking credit for it.)

Senate Republicans passed their version of the next Federal Budget & Tax Reform last week by the skin of their teeth, just 51 to 49. Despite having a 52/48 majority in the Senate, every single Democrat and one Republican (Bob Corker R-TN) voted against the bill. Earlier in the year, Republicans in the House passed their own version of the budget and now Republicans have until Friday to pass a reconciled budget in time to avoid a government shutdown. We’ve already seen that this White House can’t organize a two-car parade, so if you believe House & Senate Republicans will come together to agree upon a budget & tax bill by Friday (Dec 8), you haven’t been paying attention the last 11 months. And they have no intention of trying to attract Democratic votes to help them pass their bill. During ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday, Mitch McConnell complained “There wasn’t a single Democrat who thought this tax bill was a good deal.” But Donald Trump thinks it is and if you’re a Republican, you trust the judgement of Donald J. Trump more than the entire Democratic Party (hell, they’d rather elect a suspected child-molester… Roy Moore… than a Democrat.) Let’s see how far that kind of judgement gets them.

Three separate Tax Policy institutes… Center, Left, and Right, have looked at the GOP Tax Bill and even the most Conservative estimate says it’ll blow a half-Trillion dollar hole in the annual Deficit…
 

Estimates of GOP Tax bill

 

…EVEN IF you factor in growth (that we’re unlikely to see), causing the National Debt… you know, that thing Republicans screamed about for eight years under Obama… to EXPLODE.

One of the things I most remember most about Mike Pence before he became VP was what a Teabagger tool he was as the self-appointed head of the Senate “Tea Party Caucus”. And in 2010, he declared that he’d rather shutdown the government and default on our Debt than raise the Debt Ceiling and accrue more debt:
 


Pence: “I say: Shut it down!”

 

And now they are trying to sell us “Voodoo Economics” once again (a term coined by then-presidential candidate George HW Bush in 1980 to describe his opponent, Ronald Reagan’s claim that massively cutting taxes on the rich will create so much economic growth the resulting tax revenue will offset the losses.) It didn’t of course. As I pointed out above, by the time Reagan’s first budget was over, unemployment nearly hit 11%, and before he left office, the National Debt had TRIPLED. Reagan tried to offset the losses by raising taxes TWELVE TIMES throughout the remainder of his presidency to stop the bleeding, but they never repealed that tax cut on the people who had all the money, so the Debt continued to grow.

In fact, the last time we balanced the budget and massively grew the economy was when Bill Clinton RAISED taxes on the wealthy to 39.5%, bringing in enough tax revenue to start paying off the debt and grow the economy. Bush-43 reversed that by cutting taxes again, turned that surplus into a $1.4 Trillion Deficit and triggering a Global economic collapse. Obama reversed course again with his own tax hike, cutting the Deficit by almost 2/3rds and spurred economic growth that we continue to enjoy to this day. Now, Trump is looking to repeat the mistakes of Reagan/Bush-41/Bush-43… except on steroids.

Reagan won reelection by massively increasing the size of government, rehiring hundreds of thousands of Federal employees nearly back to pre-Reagan levels, and spending like a drunken sailor, helping to bring the unemployment rate back down in time for the 1984 election:
 

Federal Hiring 1981-1982
Federal Hiring 1981-1982
(*in 1000’s)

 

That’s right, The Gipper was hailed as a hero for fixing a problem his own policies caused (by using a method he himself would have called “Communism” if a Democrat had done it.) And now Republicans want to do it again (because they’ve bought into the myth his policies were a huge success.)

Republicans have been all over the airwaves the past few weeks trying to sell us Voodoo Economics yet again. I don’t know if they themselves are in deep denial about what Reagan’s policies actually did, or perhaps they honestly don’t remember because they were either too young at the time or have simply bought into the myth after being spoon fed it by Conservatives for years. Right-Wing pundit Dan Castellanos argued yesterday that Trump’s tax plan would be like “rocket fuel for the economy”… a phrase Trump himself used. It is no longer clear if the pundits are quoting Trump or Trump is quoting the pundits. Either way, we have a vicious feedback loop not seen since Dick Cheney cited reporters who claimed Saddam had WMD’s… whose source for that claim was Dick Cheney himself. Conservative politicians/pundits are everywhere declaring with a perfectly straight face that “all the analysts are wrong”, that THEY know better than the experts and Trump’s massive tax cut for the rich will pay for itself in economic growth. “Voodoo Economics-101”.

So here is what’s going to happen if the GOP passes Trump’s massive tax cut for the rich:

First off, we won’t see any real effect on the economy until at least next May… after most Americans pay their taxes in April. The Poor & Middle Class typically file their taxes quickly… even early. And the increase in their taxes (mostly due to losing a number of exemptions/deductions) means less money going into the economy. Meanwhile, the wealthy (who pay most of the taxes because they have most of the money), typically have much more complicated taxes and will file extensions to give them longer to file and more time to pay. And in that gap between when “Regular People” pay their taxes and the wealthy do, the government must still operate with no money coming in. So they must borrow it, causing the Deficit to go up. But the only way to attract investment is to raise interest rates slowing the economy down even further. Vicious Feedback Loop part 2, the economy starts to sink like a stone. The Deficit & Debt explode, and the only way out of it is massive government hiring ala Reagan (maybe by building Trump’s Border Wall on the taxpayers dime.) All because they don’t want Rich people to pay their fair share in taxes.

Many years ago, I bought into the “Flat Tax” nonsense because the idea “everyone paying the same percentage” sounded fair to me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized the wealthy actually use FAR more “government” than the Poor & Middle Class do. Republicans would have you believe it’s the other way around, with all the poor people living on welfare and sucking up government resources. But the fact is, CORPORATE WELFARE dwarfs the amount of money spent on the poor. The wealthy also rely on the police more to protect their businesses/wealth, file complex lawsuits as part of doing business, need the government to make trade deals, and worst offenders of all, government contractors (particularly those in the Defense Industry.) The wealthy use FAR more government services than they pay for.

But the most obvious flaw with a “Flat Tax” is that you can’t make up BILLIONS in lost tax revenue from the Rich (via reducing the wealthy’s tax rate from 35% to just 15%) by raising taxes on the Poor (from 0% to 15%.)

And that is almost exactly what Republicans are trying to sell us now with this proposed massive tax cut on the rich. That somehow, we can cut HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS in tax revenue from the wealthy and make up for it in taxes paid by the Middle Class due to all the extra hiring corporations will do to meet the demand of all that economic growth.

Republicans argue that slashing the top tax rate will encourage all those wealthy tax cheats hiding their money overseas to finally bring that money home, resulting in a “three Trillion dollar boost to the economy.” I wonder if these people actually believe that. Do they ACTUALLY believe that millionaires/billionaires hiding “three trillion dollars” overseas are going to bring all that money home just to spend it??? Seriously?

So, what exactly would spur all this “economic growth” if we simply make the rich richer? “More money in people’s pocket” they say. Except the only people with “more money” in their pocket under Trump’s Tax Plan are people who ALREADY have a lot of money and yet aren’t spending it. If you give $10 to someone with no money, they’ll spend it right away. Give $10 to a wealthy person and they’ll just stick it in their pocket. If they needed anything, they would have bought it already.

No, what they’ll do with that savings is buy back their own stock to make themselves even richer (we are ALREADY seeing this in recent record Stock Market gains in anticipation of the cut.) They’ll continue to hide it in off-shore tax havens because ZERO percent is still better than 20%. And EVEN IF they spend it here, how many houses, cars & big screen TV’s can a person possibly buy to boost the economy? They think business owners will hire more people with all that extra money in their pocket. Why? Out of the goodness of their heart? DEMAND forces companies to hire more employees to meet that demand. If the demand isn’t there, why on Earth would anyone hire additional employees they don’t need? (I remember President George HW Bush pathetically begging corporations to “just hire one extra person and it’ll pull us out of the Recession (and save his presidency).” Of course, they didn’t. You can’t make corporations do something when they don’t need to. And if THAT is your plan to grow the economy… relying on the benevolence of corporations… we’re screwed.) The Unemployment Rate is ALREADY just 4.1% (a continued steady decline since President Obama passed his “Stimulus” in late 2009.) How much more growth do they think we can muster to offset those losses in tax revenue?

George HW Bush was right when he called it “Voodoo Economics”. You can’t make up for MASSIVE cuts in tax revenue through “growth”. The wealthy won’t spend more of their wealth just because we let them keep more of it. If they spent their money, they wouldn’t be wealthy in the first place, now would they?

Hang tight this week. Republicans are desperate to give Trump his one & only major legislative accomplishment of his first year in office. And huge tax cuts for rich people is the one thing they’ve always been able to agree upon.
 


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And Your Halloween Horror Show This Year Is: The Entire Trump Presidency
Oct 30th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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It has become a bit of a tradition for me to post something humorous for the last post before Halloween. One of my favorites were photos of all the “Tea Party” nitwits seen in costume throughout most of the Obama presidency. Tri-corner hats, clothing made of American flags (tell me again how football players kneeling during the Anthem “disrespects the flag”, but wrapping your junk in the Stars & Stripes does not?), and just ordinary “Redneck Chic” in general that made every protest march look like a stroll through a Biloxi Wal*Mart. But now that this insane “poorly educated” electorate has seen fit to elect a Reality TV carnival huckster president of the United States, every day is Halloween! Will we live to see tomorrow or will he start a nuclear war with North Korea? Might you burn to death in a California wildfire made worse by Global Warning, or drown in a hurricane for the same reason? How about we take away your healthcare? Mass shootings are an argument for making guns more readily available. And perhaps we should expand the war in the Middle-East to Iran (it has already spread to central Africa.) “President Chaos is on the job!”

If you’ve managed to make it through the first nine months of the Trump presidency without your very life being put in mortal jeopardy, congratulations! You belong to a very exclusive club.

For the rest of us however, not a day has gone by that fills our lives with more dread than the words “President” and “Trump” back-to-back in the same sentence. A 70-year old manchild with the disposition of a toddler and less understanding of the issues than your Cocker Spaniel making policy decisions that threaten the entire planet is bad enough. But his legions of moron followers defending him and making excuses for him is enough to make a Billy Goat puke (yeah, I stole that line from “First Blood”.) The same people whose patron saint, Ronald Reagan… that staunch anti-Communist whom they praise endlessly for “defeating The Reds”… now spend their days defending Russia in order to defend Trump’s indefensible love of Russia and their “former-KGB” dictator-for-life leader Putin (whom Trump so admires he wishes to emulate them.)

Republicans find it easier to overlook Trump’s ridiculous behavior… 4am Twitter wars with anyone who dare criticize the thin-skinned egomaniac in the White House, suggesting a Gold Star widow is “a liar” because she dared claim Trump’s call to her was rude & insensitive (not the first time he’s taken to Twitter to insult a Gold Star family member who dared criticize him) and more… as long as the economy appears to be doing well. They boast of the Stock Market reaching record highs (performance of the DOW under Trump is actually slightly lower than it was when Barack Obama took over in 2009 following the worst economic disaster since The Great Depression), but the GOP Congress has yet to pass a new budget (only budget “recommendations”), so we are still operating under the last Obama budget for the past ten months. We’ll see how the economy does if Trump gets his way and the GOP once again embraces “Voodoo Economics” (the mistaken belief massive tax cuts for the wealthy will result in an economic boom that results in MORE tax revenue) once again. Despite the fact we all saw with our own eyes what “Reaganomics” did to the Debt/Deficit (and disastrously reproduced under Bush-43) with an effect on the economy that was easily outmatched by Democratic policies that actually raised taxes on the wealthy, they believe in the legend, not in reality.

Trump… Snake oil salesman that he is… is once again selling the myth that Reagan’s tax cuts created an economic boom. As I pointed out last week [ibid “Voodoo”], that’s not even close to the truth. And the harm Trump could inflict on the economy could be every bit as dire as the danger he has already posed to Global Stability, health care, and “The Truth” in general (still comatose since suggesting his inauguration crowd photos were faked.)

And let us all pray he is every bit as unsuccessful passing his budget as he has been failing to pass everything else. Happy Halloween!
 

Scary rich white men

 


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The Reagan Tax Cuts did NOT Produce an Economic Boom (nor will Trump’s)
Oct 23rd, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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“This year is the 46th anniversary of President Reagan’s tax reform bill”, cited Mitch McConnell during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday while discussing Trump’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% (which NO ONE pays) to a mere 20%. In McConnell’s foggy mind, the Reagan tax cuts resulted in an economic boom, ergo, so will Trump’s “plan” to slash taxes on the Top 1%. The GOP has been dutifully rewriting the Reagan legacy for so long they can no longer distinguish fact from fiction and are now setting policy based on a fantasy. Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act did NOT result in an “economic boom”. It was an “economic bomb” that exploded the Deficit/Debt and caused unemployment to skyrocket. The GOP has so thoroughly whitewashed Reagan’s history that even people who lived through it recall only the “fictionalized” version: “Bonzo Goes to Washington” starring Ron Reagan.

The fictionalized Reagan years that exists only in the minds of Republicans goes like this: America… disparing the malaise of the Carter Administration (fact: Carter never used the word “malaise” in his infamous “Malaise Speech“)… elected the “sunny optimistic” Ronald Reagan, who… by the sheer magnitude of his personality… struck fear into the hearts of Iran, convincing them to release the hostages the moment he was inaugurated. He slashed taxes on the wealthy on a premise dubbed “Trickle-down Economics”, resulting in an economic boom that turned America into an economic powerhouse that convinced the Russians of the folly of Communism and brought about the end of the Soviet Union. Eight years of “peace & prosperity” all thanks to a strict adherence to Conservative principles.

None of it is true of course.

Iran didn’t simply release the hostages because they were terrified of the Gipper. Carter had actually arranged their release his final months in office, which Iran agreed to (in a final insult) the very HOUR Carter left office (Carter actually flew to Germany to welcome the released hostages immediately following the inauguration.)

The Soviet Union didn’t “see the error of its ways” and relent. It went bankrupt trying to keep pace with the U.S. in a costly arms race that proved to be too much for a country with almost no industry and an economy half the size of France’s. First, they had to cut loose some of their satellite nations to save money, which opened up a ridiculously long train route from East Germany, through Eastern Europe, and back around to West Germany, rendering The Berlin Wall all but pointless and eventually allowed to fall with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

The economy wasn’t miserable under Carter as Republican efforts have convinced you to believe. 10.3 Million jobs were created in the four years of the Carter Administration (compared to 15.8 Million jobs created in eight years under Reagan.) Unemployment in 1979 (link note: you’ll need to set the start/end dates manually) actually bounced just under 6.0% throughout the year. In 1980, economic turmoil did result from a grain embargo against Russia (for their support of Iran) that hurt farmers, and a retaliatory oil embargo by Russia against the U.S. caused gas prices (and eventually all else) to spike (just as it did in 2008 under Bush.) And while unemployment peaked at 7.8% in July of 1980, it was back down to 7.4% by the time Carter left office and continued to coast down to 7.2% by April, 1981.

Then “Reaganomics” took over. Reagan’s proposed “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981″ [ibid top], promised to slash the top tax rate from 70% to just 50% and more than triple the base amount before the “Estate Tax” kicked in. And soon the unemployment rate started to take off. Up to 8.5% by the end of the year. The new tax policy went into effect on January 1, 1982 and by October, the unemployment rate had soared to 10.8% throughout the end of the year.

Reagan’s massive tax cut for the wealthy was NOT balanced out by any resulting “economic boom” in increased spending, creating jobs, resulting in more people paying taxes into the system the way Republicans predicted. Instead, corporations had less incentive to invest in their businesses and more incentive to just park their money in investments. The Deficit exploded due to the massive loss in tax revenue coupled with Reagan pouring money into National Defense. The problem was made exponentially worse thanks to a rash of tiny micro-wars Reagan launched throughout Central America: Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, “Freedom Fighters”, “The Contras”… not to mention the growing Cold War with the Soviet Union and Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense program money pit (that never worked). Technology still being developed to this very day nearly 40 years later still has a less than 50% success rate (which Trump misrepresented as being “a 97% success rate (Trump was told our current technology had “a 97% chance” of hitting just ONE-of-FOUR missiles launched simultaneously.) Child that he is, Trump interpreted this as “a 97% chance” of taking out all four. (So now he has no reason to fear a retaliatory strike from North Korea.)

By the time Reagan left office, the economy had drastically improved. But he had to raise taxes ELEVEN TIMES to slow (but not stop) the hemorrhaging of cash into the National Debt… which had TRIPLED during his eight years in office. 204 years of Debt from 1776 to 1980 amounted to $800 Billion before Reagan took office in 1981. By the time he left in 1989, it was $2.4 TRILLION. Reagan even criticized President Carter for the size of the Debt during the 1980 Campaign. Unemployment reversed in large part to MASSIVE government hiring/spending. Reagan dramatically increased the size of the Federal government, from 16.3 million government employees when he took office to 17.7 million by the end of his second term, and hundreds of billions more in annual spending on government projects. We all know the story of the “$9,600 Allen Wrench” as the Reagan Administration blindly pumped hundreds of billions into the Pentagon budget, and only later as people started to take notice of the exploding Debt did anyone start investigating the spending only to uncover massive waste, fraud & abuse.

When Dick Cheney… Reagan’s former Secretary of Defense… ran for Vice President in 2000, he belittled praise for shrinking the National Debt due to the Budget Surplus under Bill Clinton by declaring “Reagan proved Deficits don’t matter.” “We don’t need to tax people so much that we start paying off the Debt!” We can (Cheney argued) tax people less and allow the Debt to grow again because “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.

That is, until a Democrat takes office. Then the size of the Debt/Deficit is a travesty! A national disgrace that endangers our very way of life.

And this is why Republicans will NEVER eliminate the Deficit and start paying off the National Debt. Because the moment tax revenue starts exceeding government spending they will argue (just as Bush did in 2000) that is was proof Americans were being “over taxed” and deserved a tax cut.

And now we see Trump going straight down the same imaginary rabbit hole (falsely conflating his plan to give huge tax cuts to the rich with public support for tax “REFORM“), requesting a massive tax cut for the rich and declaring the “resulting economic growth… just like we saw under Reagan… will offset the loss in tax revenue due to massive tax cuts for the rich.” And WHY do the Rich need these huge tax cuts? Because (according to Republicans) we are “the most taxed nation on Earth” with a 38 percent top tax rate (side note. I find it fascinating that… according to Trump & the GOP… the rest of the world pays LESS in taxes and yet is still able to afford Healthcare for all… which according to snarky Dana Perino on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday “is something worth considering once we figure out how to pay for it.”) Trump’s explanation is bullshit of course, because thanks to all the absurd tax breaks and tax loopholes the wealthy already receive, almost nobody pays that top tax rate. Many billion-dollar corporations paid nothing at all in taxes last year. And thanks to massive corporate welfare, many Billion dollar corporations actually receive money BACK FROM the government to offset their business costs.

Hiring employees and buying property/equipment for your business are considered “business expenses” and are ALREADY tax deductible. So anyone who tries to tell you corporations need “tax cuts to grow their business” is either knowingly lying to you or is just too damn stupid to know better. Trump is (supposedly) a Billionaire businessman, but he’s also “a (bleeping) moron” and well documented liar, so I’ll let you decide if he’s just stupid or lying to you about the need for his tax plan.

And while were on the topic of Reagan’s legacy, what do you think “The Gipper” would say about the current occupant of the White House cozening up to Russia and even denying evidence of Russian interference in our democracy?
 


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The GOP Can’t Replace ObamaCare Because They Don’t Have a Solution
Sep 25th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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I guess Republicans are hoping the old saying is true: “Seventy-first time’s the charm” as they attempt to repeal “The Affordable Care Act” for the SEVENTY-FIRST TIME (not an exaggeration) sometime this week before the September 30th deadline.

Yes, that’s correct. The GOP’s last failed attempt to repeal The Affordable Care Act last July was attempt #70, and their next attempt before the looming deadline next Saturday is supposed to take place sometime this week… or will it? Because at the moment, Senate Republicans don’t have the minimum 50 votes (plus a Mike Pence tie-breaker) necessary to make that happen… thank goodness.

This time around, it’s the Graham/Cassidy bill, and their “solution” (as I predicted) is to dump the whole problem on the states (the “don’t blame me” approach.) The big selling point this time around is that “Senator Cassidy” is DOCTOR Bill Cassidy”… and who knows better about how to fix healthcare than a doctor, right? Problem is, Cassidy retired from private practice in 2006. The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009 and wasn’t fully invoked until it survived a Supreme Court challenge in 2010. Cassidy NEVER dealt with the ACA as a doctor. He never saw all the additional patients who could now afford insurance thanks to “ObamaCare”, and never had to direct patients to the National Exchange because his home state of Louisiana refused to establish a state exchange. He has absolutely no personal experience dealing with the ACA as a doctor.

That would be like a wealthy real-estate mogul who had never held ANY public office before thinking he can be president and easily solve every problem “better & cheaper” “on day one”.

Co-author Lindsey Graham declared repeatedly yesterday that “Everywhere you look, ObamaCare is imploding. It’s a failure.” Nonsense, in states where the governor supports it, it’s working quite well (though no one argues it’s in need of improvement), while in states where the governors oppose it and are ACTIVELY working to sabotage it, then Yes, it is “imploding”. No program can succeed where people are working hard to ensure it doesn’t.

Democrats know there are basically four ways to guarantee affordable universal coverage:

    1) A universal government run medical system like the V.A. or seen in most of Europe, which would require privatizing a multi-Trillion dollar industry, confiscating Hundreds of billions in private property, and turning every doctor into a government employee. That’s not happening.

    2) “Single Payer v1”, where the government takes over the entire health insurance industry and turn it into a non-profit. That’s not happening.

    3) The “Affordable Care Act” (aka: “ObamaCare”), where you mandate every person purchase private insurance, and in exchange, private insurers agree to price controls and to not reject anyone due to a preexisting condition.

    4) “Medicare for All” (or “Single Payer v2”), where every citizen is entitled to minimal basic care paid for by the government (paid for in increased taxes, but you no longer need costly more-expensive private insurance, for a net savings.) If you wish to have additional/premium care, you can purchase a supplemental private plan. This is the best solution IMHO and is Bernie Sander’s currently pending bill.

While Republicans have attempted to dismantle all or part of The ACA a total of 71 times now, they have actually only proposed a “replacement” six times (four under Trump), and each and every time, the proposed “alternative solution” has been different.

Oh sure, some aspects never change… like cuts to Medicare (the government program so many Tea-baggers demanded the government not touch during the ACA debate), getting rid of the mandate, and tax-cuts for rich people (the GOP can’t rename a post-office without include a tax cut for millionaires.) But NONE of those things do ANYTHING to ensure “more people are covered for less money.”

I went back and tried to figure out what the GOP “solution” was for ensuring “affordable guaranteed coverage of every man, woman & child in the US” for every plan put forth since Trump became president, but it really is impossible. Other than stripping out the parts of “ObamaCare” that they don’t like, they typically offer NO solution(s)… things they KNOW will work and therefore must be part of any GOP Plan.

The closest thing I can find to a “consistent” solution is tax free “Health Savings Accounts”… this mind-numbingly clueless “solution” of theirs is to “permit” hundreds of millions of American’s (most of whom are already deep in debt and/or living paycheck-to-paycheck) are given the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in a tax free savings account to help cover their expenses when they get sick. If you’re a middle-income American making around $50k/yr with $16,000 in credit card debt (the national average), just how long do you think it will take you to save $100-$200 Thousand dollars that you could afford to set aside and not touch? What if you get sick long before then? And let’s hope little Billy wasn’t planning on attending college. Now imagine you are in the 70% of Americans that aren’t even THAT well off. It’s just yet another way for millionaires to avoid paying taxes, not a “solution” towards making healthcare more affordable for every American.

And it DEFINITELY does not ensure guaranteed acceptance.

During “PoliticsNation” yesterday, a critic of the GOP replacement bill made an excellent point: “Access to healthcare is not the same thing as Affordable healthcare. You may be covered, but if the cost of your out-of-pocket cost is $250,000/year, you won’t have healthcare because you can’t afford it.” That’s one simple fact I think Republican’s just don’t get.

Interestingly enough, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has become a leading voice in exposing GOP efforts to return to the bad old days of preexisting conditions and worthless policies that cover nothing and deny you for anything. Kimmel had on Sen. Cassidy recently to explain what he meant by “The Jimmy Kimmel Test” he applies to access & affordability of any plan, only to have Cassidy either knowing lie to Jimmy’s face about what his bill would do, or is totally clueless as to what his own bill would permit (I’m betting on the latter. Clueless.) The GOP’s “solutions” aren’t. If they actually worked, they’d never allow it. For instance, it’s just not possible to “mandate” insurance companies cover everyone without also a “mandate” that everyone have insurance. You just can’t separate the two. Republican’s think you can. That’s not dealing with reality.

Another consistent non-solution in every GOP Plan is the absurd idea that “the Free Market will control prices.” Somebody PLEASE inform these hedgehogs that THAT is the system we had before the ACA, and health insurance costs were rising out of control to the point it became THE dominant campaign issue of 2008. And just as in 2008, Republicans had no clear solutions (and nothing original.) The most popular Republican solution is to allow consumers in one state to bypass their state insurance regulation board and purchase coverage “across state lines” from another state with more lax insurance laws/regulations… the very definition of “race to the bottom” as states try to outdo each other by allowing insurance companies to sell the most worthless policies imaginable for the lowest price possible.

Now Graham & Cassidy insist that “preexisting conditions are still covered by their bill” (which turns control of healthcare over to the states.) But their bill permits states to issue “waivers” that allows them to exempt insurance companies from any regulation they see fit (so it’s guaranteed to happen.) And with all those states competing to draw all those consumer dollars to their state looking for the cheapest policy possible, how many states do you think will start issuing waivers that allow them to deny coverage for preexisting conditions (PXC’s) if it means they can sell cheap worthless policies en masse? And the reason Graham & Cassidy can insist PXC’s are still covered is because they don’t actually repeal the ACA. They are relying on the part of the bill that mandates insurance companies cover them… despite introducing a loophole big enough to drive an HMO through.

And WHY aren’t they actually “repealing” the ACA? Because they can’t. Republicans have been talking about “repealing ObamaCare” for years, but they really can’t do that because it would take at least 60 votes in the Senate… and they can’t muster 50. So instead, they’re using something called “Budget Reconciliation” to GUT the existing law, keep what they like and insert their own changes, which only requires 50+1 votes. It’s a bit like gutting a Toyota and replacing the engine with a hamster in a wheel and milk crates for seats, then promising you can buy a better hamster from “Sally’s Hamsters & Things” in Milwaukee and seat belts & airbags from “Joe’s Body Shop & Sushi” in Podunk, Mississippi.

And of course, the GOP is once again in a rush to pass another healthcare bill before the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has a chance to score it. It’s basically an open admission that they KNOW once the bill is scrutinized, everyone will know how bad it really is. And they are so desperate to pass ANYTHING… no matter how bad… just to fulfill a ridiculous promise to their clueless minions.

Fortunately… as of this writing… two more Republican senators (Collins-ME & Cruz-TX) have announced they currently don’t support the bill… both for very different reasons. Collins says she doubts it will cover more people for less money. Cruz (who says he is working to get to a “Yes”) says he doesn’t believe the GOP bill allows for enough competition to bring insurance prices down. Cruz is staunchly opposed to a “Public Option”, and there are only around five major insurance providers in the entire United States. So either he wants a bill that’ll create new insurance companies out of thin air, thinks “Mutual of Mars” should be allowed to sell policies on Earth, or he’s just blowing smoke because he wants the GOP to beg him for his support.

No matter. It’s a miserable bill and they all know it. Consumers know it. They don’t have the votes to pass a bad bill in an obvious rush, and once again, Trump has made a  promise the GOP’s ass can’t keep.
 


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Trump Has Been Great for Advancing Progressivism
Jan 30th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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They say you never appreciate what you’ve got until someone tries to take it away. One day after Donald J Trump was sworn into office, a massive GLOBAL protest took place condemning the new Commander-in-Chief on Women’s Rights. And just this past weekend, tens of thousands of protesters rallied to oppose Trump’s ill-conceived (and likely unconstitutional) “Muslim Ban” that singles out travelers from any of seven “red flagged” Middle Eastern nations, yet incredibly, excludes five nations, most with known links to terrorism inside the United States including Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia… where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from, and Turkey, a close ally of the U.S. but where ISIS committed a brutal attack on the Istanbul Airport just last June (the fifth nation being the UAE, also linked to 9/11.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bloomberg pointed out Friday that the five exempted majority-Muslim nations all just happen to be countries in which Trump has business interests. Hmmm.

More people are talking about the potential negative consequences of enacting Trump’s extremist Conservative agenda in just the past week than have stood up and defended Progressive ideals in the past 30 years. When Obama took office in 2009, just WHO did we see taking to the street in massive protests? Teabagging idiots, carrying semi-automatic weapons, waving racist misspelled signs demanding: “keep your government hands off my Medicare!” If Hillary or (and it pains me to say this) even Bernie had won the election, just WHO would we see protesting in the streets today? The same racist teabagging idiots demanding we “build the wall”, take away their own health care, and “lock up” Hillary Clinton for something, something, BenghaziTM.

But instead, we see people flooding the streets demanding the protection of women’s rights, demanding fair treatment of non-Christian immigrants, welcoming refugees and pointing out all the problems with Trump’s ridiculous border wall with Mexico. Columnist Tom Friedman on “Meet the Press” yesterday pointed out that “Every time someone on the terrorist watch list flies into Mexico, the United States is notified. Just how willing will they be to continue such cooperation if Trump builds his wall?” And one of the proposed means of raising money to pay for the wall would be to “place a 20% import tax” on all goods entering the United States from Mexico. Well, who then pays that tax? YOU DO, not Mexico (of course, you could boycott all Mexican imports, but then YOU’RE STILL stuck with the bill since they’re not waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall before they start building it at YOUR expense.)

And because of all this Conservative stupidity, I’ve seen more Progressives on my TV in the last 8 days than I’ve seen in the last 8 YEARS.

On the flip side, there is one issue in which Progressives and Trump agree, and that’s the issue of “Free Trade”… or more precisely, OPPOSITION to it. Progressives have long railed against the nonsense of “Free Trade” while Conservatives have long championed it. In the 1990’s, President Clinton passed NAFTA with mostly Conservative votes. Republicans told us how “great” it would be for American business while Ross Perot warned of “a giant sucking sound” as American companies rushed to move their factories to Mexico for the cheap labor and then reimport it back into the US for sale. Trump’s opposition to NAFTA (or more precisely, Mexico since he never talks about “Free Trade” with Canada) and the TPP are driving Republicans nuts. Suddenly, they are forced to agree with their Party Leader that perhaps “Free Trade” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and Progressives were right all along.

So while Trump is ranting about “US sovereignty” and railing against foreign countries taking advantage of us only to sell their goods back in the U.S. without benefiting a single American worker, he then signs an Executive Order granting permission to two Canadian oil companies to build a pipeline through the U.S. to produce “oil” that very little of which we can even use. As part of the deal, Trump is demanding the pipeline “be built using American steel”, thus “creating American jobs”, but as I pointed out [ibid], most of that pipe has already been purchased and there is no requirement they scrap all that leaky Chinese pipe and purchase all new American steel pipe. As such, the number of jobs created from providing steel pipe will be minimal.

In addition to Keystone, Trump also restored the controversial “Dakota Access Pipeline” (DAPL) that had hundreds of protesters… including veterans… protesting in the freezing cold of Northern North Dakota a few months back against the building of a pipeline from Canada through native American land and endangering their water supply. President Obama, who initially supported the plan, relented to protesters and shelved the project. Enter Donald Trump who reignited the controversy by allowing the project to resume, promising it will create more temporary jobs over several years than the U.S. economy needs EVERY WEEK just to keep up with population growth.

Also announced last week, hundreds of thousands of scientists are planning their own “@ScienceMarchInDC” in April to protest the Trump Administration’s anti-science policies, not just their disbelief in Climate Change that leads them to believe they can build those pipelines without consequence and go ahead with plans to reduce regulations on coal production. But in addition to Climate Change, they are also protesting “slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public“, calling it “absurd.”

For six years, Republicans railed against “ObamaCare” and vaguely promised to “repeal & replace” it with “something better”. During the presidential campaign, Trump said he was “working on a plan” for a replacement to “ObamaCare” that would still “cover everyone”, continue to prohibit exclusions for “preexisting conditions”, all without a mandate or possibly causing you to lose your doctor. And every time people asked Trump or Republicans about “their plan” to replace “ObamaCare”, they always assured us they were “working on it” but it would be great. Trust us. Barely two weeks ago, just as Obama was preparing to leave office, the new Congress made voting to “repeal ObamaCare” (for the 66th time) one of their very first acts. The big cowards passed the bill before Obama left because they knew he’d veto it. But they don’t DARE pass it again NOW, forcing Trump to sign it before they have a plan to replace it.

So then, just this past Wednesday/Thursday, at a “retreat” in Philadelphia, Republican lawmakers got together to discuss what to replace “ObamaCare” with now that they finally have a president that’ll sign whatever they pass. Audio of the meeting (93 minutes) was described as Republicans “freaking out” over the fact they HAVE NO replacement, no plan, no clear ideas, no agreement regarding what to “replace” it with, and that coming up with their own plan is going to be a matter of months not “weeks” as they had hoped, was leaked to the Washington Post.

This is what Democrats have been saying all along. “They have no plan!” They “can’t keep just the parts they like and get rid of the parts that help pay for it!” Conservatives are irresponsible children and they appointed a reckless Toddler promising them candy for dinner, only to wake up with tummy aches. Conservatives are just starting to realize how empty those promises have been all along.

Trump ran for office on being a successful businessman who was adept at finding “the best people” to run the government. Then he nominates people like Rick “Oops” Perry to run a department he was forced to admit in his confirmation hearing that he didn’t realize everything the department did when he proposed shutting it down four+ years ago, and Ben “Sleepytime” Carson (a surgeon) who has been tapped to run the office of “Housing and Urban Development” (NOT Surgeon General) whose sole experience is that he “once lived in Public Housing” (by that logic, I should be flying jumbo jets around the globe.) And in case you were wondering (as I was), No, Trump has not yet picked a Surgeon General… someone he could use as the GOP hashes out their “ObamaCare” replacement.

Even Republicans are expressive concern now that Trump’s Travel Ban “wasn’t properly vetted” before it was enacted and they clearly did not think things through. McCain & Graham, who have openly criticized their new Party leader before, are expressing concern that the backlash from this travel ban could actually do more to harm national security than help it as we anger the few allies we have left in the Middle East and leave interpreters & guides wondering why they should help a country that views them as “the enemy” simply for their religion?
 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Travel ban protests across country
Tens of thousands protesting Trump’s Muslim Ban across the country – 1/28/2017

 

People are starting to realize the emperor has no clothes, and Progressives are the ones pointing it out. Ignored once, but rapidly organizing & growing. And it took electing an incompetent, racist man-child to mobilize them.
 


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Predictions for 2017: It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Dec 31st, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Okay. Maybe not the “The Apocalypse”. The election of a new president already provides lots of fodder for those making predictions. Literally EVERYTHING becomes an open question, but the $#!+storm awaiting us as a political novice with the impulse control of a toddler takes control of the most powerful office on the planet is difficult to quantify. No one (outside of the Trump campaign and his most ardent believers) thought he was going to win. But in the end, the Clinton campaign was a victim of its own success. They made Clinton’s victory seem SO inevitable, and Trump’s presidency SO unthinkable, that millions of Democrats didn’t even bother to vote, allowing a reality TV show star riding a wave of xenophobia to ascend to the presidency. And his choices to lead his Administration raise serious concern. Trump’s case for why he should be president was that… as a corporate CEO… he knows how to pick “the best people” to create an incredibly effective government. But instead, he has been awarding top-level cabinet-level positions to friends, lobbyists and far right ideologues the way other presidents awarded ambassadorships… not based on qualifications, but purely on their fealty to Trump himself.

We start off year nine of my prognostications as we do every year by looking back at the predictions of others. Always good for a laugh, I find myself wondering why anyone takes these people seriously with such miserable track records. Typically, most “psychics” make dozens… even hundreds… of incredibly vague predictions, then declare success when one of their predictions is twisted and massaged to where they can claim they accurately predicted some obscure global event. Some place no time-frame on their predictions, so they are never “wrong”, their predictions simply “haven’t come true yet.” I don’t do that. I don’t make “vague” predictions (the “Two moons will join as one” crap) and only make predictions for the coming year. If something I predict doesn’t happen within the next 12 months, that prediction is ruled “wrong”.

The Huffington Post declared “16 Shocking Predictions for 2016” written by clinical psychologist Dr. Carmen Harra. What a psychologist is doing making “psychic predictions” is anyone’s guess, but of her 16 predictions, I found none of them particularly “shocking”, and only one prediction… the election of a female South American president (Dilma Rousseff of Brazil)… appears to have come true. Even her “gimme” predictions (like “more extreme weather”) I’d classify as “wrong” because there were no widespread devastating weather catastrophes in 2016.

As many of you know, I live blog the top three political talk shows every Sunday: Fox “news” Sunday, “Meet the Press” and ABC’s ThisWeek. Typically, their final show of the year includes predictions for the coming year. I always find the predictions of Conservatives on Fox the most fascinating. It really is a window into their dark fantasy world. Simply put, Democrats will always usher in economic chaos, and Republican policies are always a resounding success:
 

Fox “news” Sunday’s Predictions for 2016 (8:57)

 

Some highlights:

  • “Common sense will prevail [within the GOP] and Trump won’t win the nomination”. – Oops. I guess it didn’t.
  •  

  • Economy will be down. “Recession.” – The U.S. economy continued to grow, growing at a remarkable 3.5% in the third quarter of this year.
  •  
    The political predictions end about halfway in, but I posted the full clip because it highlights just how routinely wrong the extremely partisan frequent guest panelist Mike Needham (of National Review Online) is. In previous years, “Bloody” Bill Kristol (of The Weekly Standard) was the Fox panelist that never got a single thing right before swapping places with George Will (a fixture on ABC’s ThisWeek for decades but became buttsore when they handed hosting duties over to Stephanopoulos). Like all Republicans, Needham is extremely sure of himself despite rarely ever being right on anything, and allows his partisanship to get in the way when making his predictions. Nothing connected to a Democrat ever turns out good. Nothing linked to a Republican ever turns out bad. I’m not sure Needham is EVER right on anything. But he tells Republicans what they like to hear, so he’s repeatedly asked back to give his opinions.

    Mike Needham:

  • “Low interest rates [are] maintaining the facade of Keynesian monetary policy.” – In Mike’s world, “Trickle-down” Reaganomics was a huge success while Keynesian “trickle up from the poor” economics is fantasy. Mike predicted that the Obama economy was being artificially propped up by low interest rates and once rates started to rise, the economy would start to implode. Interest rates are rising while Trump takes credit for the surge in the Stock Market.
  • Disagrees that Chicago (Hillary’s hometown) Cubs will win World Series. Instead picks the NY (Trump’s hometown) Mets. – While the Mets did okay in 2016, they came in sixteen games behind the World Series champion Cubs in the National League.
  • Picked “Batman vs Superman” to be the next big Hollywood blockbuster. – “Batman vs Superman” turned out to be a flop of epic proportions. Needham also predicted (noted Hollywood Liberal) Ben Affleck would go down as “the worst Batman in history.” To the contrary.

Give it up, Mike.
 

ABC’s ThisWeek predictions for 2016 (6:18)

 

Less drama (and fewer predictions) over on ABC’s ThisWeek. Everyone seemed to agree Trump had a better than average chance of winning the GOP nomination, with two of them even accurately picking “Tim Kaine” to be Hillary’s running mate.

Now let’s look back at my predictions from last year to give you some idea of just how seriously you should take me. Compared to “celebrity psychics”, even on my worst years, I totally crush them. The difference is that I freely admit that I’m no psychic. I’m just very good at spotting political trends and knowing how people think. So let’s take a look at my “Predictions for 2016”:

  • wrong – “Will we see another “France-style” terrorist attack in 2016? I don’t think so.” 2015 saw the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris (including a suicide bomber detonating just outside the National soccer stadium), so it seemed unlikely anyone would be able to pull off a similar attack in 2016. But unfortunately, last June, suicide bombers killed 41 in a siege of the Istanbul International Airport in Turkey, and France’s Bastille Day celebrations came to a tragic end when lone disturbed ISIS Sympathizer killed 84 and mowed down hundreds more using a large truck. Germany also saw a less deadly but no less tragic mass murder using a large truck driven by another ISIS sympathizer.
  •  

  • wrong – The establishment of “Safe Zones” inside of Syria & Iraq to counter the flood of refugees into other countries that were becoming increasingly unwelcome. Seriously, I am quite disgusted that six years later, we are still talking about the Syrian civil war. Unfortunately, the rest of the world found it easier to do nothing than to try and safeguard the civilian populations living in the region. The massacre in Syria has been a sticking point with me ever since I (incorrectly) predicted in 2011 massive international intervention to stop Assad from massacring his own people. But instead, Russia sided with their good friend King Assad, labeled the rebels “terrorists”, and made it impossible for anyone to intervene without risking a war with Russia. And instead, four years later, we’ve elected a president that sides with Russia on every controversy, and the city of Aleppo was pretty much obliterated and recaptured by Assad’s forces. Even more disturbing is the number of Trump supporters who believe photos like “Aleppo Boy” were “staged”. I’m not sure what has to die inside a person to look at that photo, call it a fake, and take the side of Syria & Russia.
  •  

  • right – ISIS will still be about the same size as it is today… roughly 30,000 fighters. – While it is difficult (if not impossible) to get an accurate reading on the number of people fighting on the ground in the region of Syria & Northern Iraq, most analysts seem to agree that “ISIS is shrinking”, not growing, preferring instead to try to inspire weak-willed outcasts feeling ostracized by society to commit “lone wolf” attacks in other countries and then take credit for those attacks. It is difficult to inspire Muslim sympathizers to the ISIS cause when the majority of their targets are fellow Muslims (see the Turkey airport attack above.) I fear Trump’s “take no prisoners” scorched Earth plans for dealing with ISIS will do more to create sympathizers and grow ISIS than actually serve to defeat it.
  •  

  • wrong – Russia WILL focus more on attacking ISIS and less on helping Assad destroy the Syrian rebels – I was wrong about Russia suddenly growing a conscience and pulling back in it’s support of helping Assad crush him political opponents, though I was correct that they would not JOIN forces with the U.S. in alliance to destroy who they claim is a common enemy: ISIS. Poor naive Donald Trump has bought Russia’s line of bull that the Syrian civil war is all about fighting terrorism. Russia has only become more bold in its international meddling in 2016 as Putin sees an opportunity to regain its Soviet-era dominance in the world as America’s influence wanes as we begin our 15th year of war.
  •  

  • right – Iran is likely to increase military aid to Assad as Russian support for the war wanes. – Iran “reportedly felt blindsided by the terms of the [Syrian] truce brokered in Turkey between Russia and the rebels.” Iran’s involvement in Syria has deepened as they disapprove of Russia focusing more on seizing more control in the region.
  •  

  • right – The Syrian conflict [will] still be raging throughout the year, eventually culminating in a treaty between Assad & the rebels. – The Syrian Civil War is only now being declared “coming to an end” here in the final days of 2016 as Russia brokers yet-another cease fire treaty. After years of conflict, it has become clear that we have are now incapable of bringing wars to an end.
  •  

  • wrong – We will see a MILD economic decline as the Republican controlled Congress stifles the economy to help the GOP presidential candidate. I’m actually quite stunned the GOP didn’t do more to cripple the economy to help the GOP nominee win the election. But then, I didn’t expect the GOP to be so unhappy with their candidate. In the end, they weren’t exactly enthusiastic about helping Donald Trump become the leader of their Party (and if you ask me, they are terrified of being branded “The Party of Trump”.) Instead, the Obama economy continued to grow at a remarkable rate.
  •  

  • right – Gitmo to still be in operation by the end of President Obama’s presidency, [though] steps will finally be in place to close it permanently before he leaves office. – Yes on both counts. Our POW camp at Guantánamo Bay is indeed still in operation (though currently down to just 59 detainees that will reportedly be down to just 41 by the time Obama leaves office. In February, he did send his Guantánamo Closing Plan to Congress, but no action was taken. And Trump has vowed… not only to keep it open… but to even EXPAND it, so our giant “middle-finger” to all our principles will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.
  •  

  • wrong – GOP will retain control of the House following the election but lose the Senate. – This did indeed become the conventional thinking in the final days of the election, and there’s no way of knowing if Russian meddling had any impact on the outcome, but Democrats did pick up two seats… three seats short of control of the Senate (under a Republican White House.)
  •  

  • right – The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be relatively uneventful. – No terrorist attacks, and despite concerns of rampant local crime, polluted water, and unfinished facilities, the Rio Olympics pretty much went off without a hitch.
  •  

  • right – Trump will be the GOP nominee. – I’m surprised (well, maybe not) that so many people believed Republicans would come to their senses and pull back from the brink before allowing this cartoonish man-child to come within earshot of the presidency, but I was one of the few that knew better. Before the first primary of 2016, I knew from the 2012 nomination of Mitt Romney, “wealth = good” among low-information Republican voters. Bush & Cheney ran as “businessmen” in 2000 promising a “CEO presidency”, and it was an absolute disaster. But that didn’t stop them from nominating Mitt Romney in 2012 (regardless of how he made his money.) Just as in 2012, Republicans didn’t like the GOP front-runner (Romney) and constantly kept looking for someone to take the nomination away from him. But as each new front-runner crashed & burned, Romney kept floating back up to the top of the bowl. The same thing with Trump in 2016. There were a couple of brief scares when Ben Carson and Ted Cruz became the front runners momentarily, but they always came back to Trump as his rivals crashed & burned.

    I also predicted that Trump will plan to delegate most of his responsibilities as he has no interest in actually doing the job, which he & his son both confirmed last May.

  •  

  • wrong – Expect Trump to name his running mate early if he finds himself struggling to win the nomination. – This didn’t happen… with Trump. But it bears mentioning that this is EXACTLY what Ted Cruz did all the way back in April. Also of note, I included the caveat that “if [Trump] gets locked in a battle with the Democratic nominee, his ego will rope him in until the election in November” seeing his candidacy through to the bitter end, win or lose. And I was absolutely right on that. All the polls were predicting an easy win for Clinton, and even Trump himself was surprised when all of the “must win” races started falling his way, yet he stayed in to the very end with most expecting him to challenge the result if he lost… completely unwilling to believe this country might choose Hillary over him.
  •  

  • right – Hillary to win the Democratic nomination. – Probably my most painful prediction as a Bernie supporter, but this is what separates me from Republicans who shape their predictions to fit their personal ideology. And this is why their record of predicting things is so miserable. They are SO sure their beliefs are right, the possibility they could be wrong never crosses their minds.
  •  

  • wrong* – the Democratic nominee will win the election in November. – It is difficult to know if Russian meddling in our election may have altered the outcome, but I’m not aware of even one legitimate poll that predicted a Trump victory. The entire Trump candidacy was one embarrassment after another, from making racist & sexist remarks during his campaign, the embarrassing Convention with guest speakers like Scott Baio, culminating in the “Access Hollywood” (“grab them by the [meow]” tape.) And despite needing to sweep nearly every single swing state to win, that’s exactly what happened… an achievement suspicious in itself. But I didn’t factor possible election fraud into my prediction.
  •  

  • right – As ISIS begins to feel the pressure of increased international focus on defeating them, they will in turn focus more on inspiring outside sympathizers to commit “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in their respective countries. I predicted at least three such attacks in the coming year. – Indeed, this was the case, with terrorist attacks by ISIS sympathizers in Istanbul, Turkey, Nice, France, and the Christmas Market attack in Berlin, Germany.

8 right, 7 wrong. 53%. Not bad. I’ve done worse. That keeps my lifetime average well over 50%. I was one of the few to predict the presidential race to come down to Clinton vs Trump when must people were predicting a “Hillary vs Jeb” contest. I’m pretty proud of that.

And now…

My Predictions for 2017:

With a totally new administration full of billionaires, ideologues and sycophants with no track record of public service whatsoever, the possibilities are endless as what to expect from the coming year. As “president-elect Trump” rejects the need for a “Presidential Baily Briefing” (on the grounds the information is “repetitive”), I’m frequently reminded of how President Bush in 2001 repeatedly dismissed his own PDB’s while our intelligence agencies were desperately (“Lights were flashing red”) trying to get him to pay attention to the threat of alQaeda until it was too late with the attacks of 9/11 just eight months into office. Now Trump is doing the same while ISIS attacks seem to be growing in magnitude & frequency. Predicting the first year of any new administration is one big crap shoot, but I know how Trump and his ilk think.

  1. Trump is already taking credit for a rise in the Stock Market since his election while Obama is still president, but once he takes office, if the economy does not continue to improve, he’ll stop taking credit and start blaming Obama (remember how Republicans berated Obama the first couple of years for “blaming Bush” for the deep hole we were still digging our way out of?) Trump will be handed an economy that’s 180 degrees from what Obama inherited (soaring stock market, unemployment falls to just 4.6%), and President Obama’s final budget will still be in effect until October, so it is unlikely the economy will turn South in Trump’s first year unless he does something extremely provocative to spook the global financial (or oil) market. We’ll have to wait & see if Trump becomes a “don’t rock the boat” president, or (more likely) an impulsive hothead that doesn’t consider the consequences before acting (which is the defining characteristic of Republicans.)
  2.  
    Trump’s coziness with the Russians continues to disturb me. His first campaign spokesman, Paul Manafort, was forced to resign when it was discovered that he had been paid millions lobbying for pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs… not because of his Russia connection, but because he worked as a lobbyist at a time when Trump was still trying to act as though he disapproved of lobbyists and the Russian annexing of Ukraine was unpopular with most Americans. Yet, despite being fired, Manafort continued to live in Trump Tower (along with another fired Trump staffer, former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski.) This tells me Trump doesn’t learn from his mistakes, he just tucks them away until after the heat blows over.

    His eventual choice for Secretary of State, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, wasn’t even on the original lists of nominees. The person that appeared to have to best chance was Mitt Romney… who called Russia “our #1 Geo-political enemy” when he ran in 2012. Then suddenly, Romney was out and Tillerson… a man who was awarded the “Russian Medal of Friendship”…. was in.

    His daughter Ivanka was even caught palling around with Putin’s girlfriend in Croatia.

  3. Trump’s Russian ties will continue to haunt him in 2017, but with a GOP controlled Congress, nothing will ever come of it. Every move that involves Russia will draw additional scrutiny. Investigative reporters may start to report on concerns of Russian influence on the Trump White House, but President-elect Trump has been working hard to delegitimatize the Media as “Fake News” so that… should they report anything critical of his administration, he can simply dismiss it as “fake news”.
  4.  
    George Bush appointed a single unqualified mega-donor sycophant to his Administration (Michael “Heckuva job, Brownie” Brown)… an Arabian horse judge… to be in charge of FEMA, and we all know how that turned out. Trump’s cabinet is FULL of unqualified “Brownies”. He has been gifting crucial administration posts the way other presidents once awarded “ambassadorships” to friends & big donors. This is particularly disturbing when one of the key arguments Trump and his supporters gave to justify electing a “CEO President” with NO political experience to the presidency was that he’d appoint only “the best people” to manage his administration. Among some of Trump’s other “So good, you won’t believe it” appointees so far:

    Former opponent Dr. Ben Carson… NOT as Surgeon General which might make SOME sense… but as the head of “Housing & Urban Development” (which Carson himself justified due to having “once lived in Public Housing”. By that standard, I should be piloting 747’s because I once flew in one.)

    Co-founder of the WWE (“World Wrestling Entertainment”) Linda McMahon to head the SBA (“Small Business Administration”.) I think we know how she got the job:

     
    Trump in Wrestlemania
     
    Trump wrestles McMahon

    (Remember all the Republicans who whined Bill Clinton was destroying the dignity of the Oval Office?)

    The former Attorney General from the Oklahoma oil-patch, climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” and “Clean Water Rule” while OK-AG, and even tried to pass off a letter written by oil company lobbyists critical of the EPA as his own. And now he will be in charge of the organization.

    While not yet appointed at this time, Trump is reportedly considering billionaire eccentric “Peter Thiel” to head the FDA. Like Ben Carson who believes he’s qualified to run HUD because he once lived in public housing, it is reported that Theil once ate food and took medicine.

    Trump appointed Steve Bannon the head of alt-Right website “Brietbart.com”… probably the only “news” outlet to endorse Trump… to be his Chief Strategist. While Team-Trump is working overtime to delegitimize the legitimate news as “fake news”, Brietbart is the very definition of “fake news”.

    Former Texas Governor and “Dancing with the Stars” reject Rick “Oops” Perry… who famously forgot that the Dept of Energy was the third government agency he would close as president… was appointed Trump’s Secretary of Energy. He will be replacing nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz.

    …to be continued.
     

  5. With so many incompetents put in charge of so many prominent offices within the Trump Administration, the chances of another “Brownie”-like disaster in the next few years increases exponentially. I predict at least one of Trump’s incompetent appointees will have their appointment questioned and perhaps even be forced to resign due some inexplicable cock-up that embarrasses the incoming Trump Administration.
  6.  

  7. Trump detests having to answer questions. He considers having to explain himself an indignity and the Press exists solely to try & discredit him. This is why he adores Twitter where he can simply ignore any question he doesn’t like. Trump will hold a record low number of Press Conferences, preferring instead to use Twitter to communicate with the American people. He, his staff, and his supporters will herald this as “a new era in unprecedented access to the Commander-in-Chief” that supposedly makes him more “accessible” by the American people, when the truth is it will quite the opposite: a new era of secrecy in presidential administrations that closely controls just how much access the fourth-estate has to it. (August 10 edition of “60 Minutes”, former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon praises Trump’s use of Twitter as “circumventing Big Media and speaking directly to the people.”)
  8.  
    In these final days of 2016, we keep seeing situations where the incoming Trump Administration is publicly disagreeing with… not just the outgoing Obama Administration, but U.S. foreign policy of the past 30 years when it comes to Israel and the pursuit of a “two state solution” to bring peace between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a neo-con, and his continued illegal building of settlements in occupied territory threatens to jeopardize any hope of peace in the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the recent construction of new Israeli settlements as provocative and not in the interests of achieving peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu… who never liked the Obama Administration and vocally condemned it for agreeing to lift sanctions on Iran… basically told the U.S. to mind its own business. Trump… breaking with decades of “one president at a time” tradition (an unwritten rule where the incoming administration doesn’t publicly contradict the outgoing administration, instead declaring “the U.S. speaks with one voice”), Trump again publicly criticized the outgoing Obama Administration, taking the side of Israel and declaring “things will be different” come “January 20th.”

  9. Taking the side Israel so publicly, there is NO way the U.S. can be seen as an honest broker in any possible future peace negotiations between Israel & Palestine. Trump’s chosen Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer with no relevant experience other than the fact he is president of the US fundraising arm for Bet El, a settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. Both Trump & Friedman have taken the unimaginably provocative position of calling to move the capital of Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem… nothing short of spitting in the eye of a billion Muslims. Indeed, Osama bin Laden even cited the “Israeli occupation” and part of alQaeda’s justification for 9/11 and their war with the West. Trump has just made his job of achieving an end to the wars in the Middle East infinitely more difficult. Couple that with his pledge to “quickly, easily & completely” defeat ISIS, I have great difficultly in seeing how he can “defeat ISIS” and end the war in Afghanistan without doing something monumentally insane like declaring war on the entire Middle East and conquering it using nuclear weapons. No matter how nuts he may be, there are still enough sane people left in Congress to stop him from starting World War III. As such, I have little doubt that as Commander-in-Chief, Trump will still deploy between 100,000 and 300,000 troops back into Iraq & Afghanistan (and possibly Syria) by the end of the year, greatly expending the war rather than helping to resolve the conflict and bring America’s longest war to an end (cooler heads will prevail among his generals not to introduce nuclear weapons into this war, but reports will emerge that it was discussed).
  10.  

  11. In 2015, increased pressure on ISIS resulted in various domestic terrorist attacks overseas, and (as I correctly predicted) there were at least three more such incidents of domestic terrorism around the world as that pressure continued to grow. If Trump does indeed greatly expand the war in the Middle East, coupled with openly taking Israel’s side in promoting illegal settlements, expend the number of incidents of domestic terrorism committed in the name of ISIS to grow. I predict at least five such deadly mass casulty attacks across the world in the coming year.
  12.  

  13. The election of the first black president allowed a stunning number of closeted racists to feel liberated, coming out as openly racist, cloaking their racism as nothing more than “political differences”. The election of an openly bigoted xenophobe like Trump will worsen this three-fold as Trump-supporters feel they now have carte-blanc to be openly bigoted against Mexican’s and Muslims as well.
  14.  

  15. Which reminds us of Trump’s promise to “build a border wall along the U.S./Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it”, and deport… not just 11 million “illegal immigrants”, but in many cases their American-born children as well. There will be NO significant border wall construction in 2017 as the issue falls by the way-side. However, the Trump Administration may try to claim plans for a border wall are “in the works”. And rather than Mexico paying 100% of the cost, to save face, the Trump Administration will rely on some creative accounting to try and claim Mexico will be paying for it when they are in fact not.
    UPDATE: 1/6/2017 – Not even president yet, “Trump asks Congress, not Mexico, to pay for border wall.
  16.  

  17. During the primaries, a number of countries were so appalled by Donald’s Trump’s “racist & sexists remarks”, they went as far as to say the GOP candidate was “not welcome” in their country. Scotland declared Trump “unwelcome” in that country the day after the election and urged him not to visit. In January of 2016, the British Parliament had already discussed banning Trump from the UK. And in October (just before the election), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau banned Trump from entering Canada until he apologized for his offensive remarks about Muslims & Mexicans. I predict that in the coming year, at least one nation will say Trump is not welcome in their country.
  18.  

  19. As I’ve been pointing out since the day he declared his candidacy in 2015, Trump only wanted to prove he could win the presidency if he wanted it, but has no interest in actually doing the job. Early on, he will appear to be doing his job, but gradually over time, we will see less & less of him as he tries to delegate more & more of his job over to others in his administration, setting up a Constitutional crisis.
  20.  

  21. Calls for investigations into all of Trump’s conflicts of interest will grow along with demands that he fully divest himself of his empire (which he’ll never do) as it becomes clear foreign countries are trying to curry favor with the American president though his investments. Trump’s massive ego will never permit him to sell off his empire. All those skyscrapers with his name on them feed his massive ego. If it becomes a serious enough problem for him, he’d resign his presidency before selling off his empire.
  22.  

  23. Speaking of which, every building with Trump’s name on it will become an instant terrorist target the moment he’s sworn in, and the cost of protecting those buildings will become a serious matter.
  24.  

  25. Beyond foreigners trying to get on the good side of America’s president by renting out his hotels & casinos and possibly giving him favorable treatment when his companies seek construction permits in foreign countries, simply being president gives Trump an unfair advantage over his American competitors that will open him up to all sorts of lawsuits. Expect at least one American company to file an “unfair trade practices” lawsuit against Trump.
  26.  

  27. Trump’s Climate-Change-Denying policies of promising to “greatly expend the use of coal” and “complete the Keystone XL Pipeline” will be met with a resounding thud as both projects prove to no longer be cost effective in the modern era. There just aren’t that many workers looking to get started in the lucrative business of digging coal (yes, that’s snark) in the 21st century, and for the mining/conversion of tarsands to “oil” to be cost effective, oil needs to be up over $70/barrel again. George W. Bush destroyed the global economy and brought the United States to the brink of economic collapse by pushing the price of oil from $30/barrel to nearly $150/barrel in six years. Oil prices are (at this writing) just above $50/barrel after having been much lower in recent years, and some analysts fear that if Trump greatly expands the war in the Middle East, the price of oil could shoot back up to over $100/barrel which would make both energy sources financially viable again. But if that happened, it would absolutely crush the U.S. economy. As friendly as the Trump Administration clearly will be with Big Oil, I have my doubts that even THEY could be THAT fiscally irresponsible.
  28.  

  29. Russia may find themselves wondering if they made a mistake by cozening up to Trump (and possibly aiding his election) as they quickly learn how erratic and vindictive he can be. Early in the primaries, Ted Cruz leaped into second place when he refused to criticize GOP front-runner Donald Trump like all of the other candidates. Just before the start of the 2016 primaries, Cruz even tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt” Then the race began, and as soon as Cruz became a threat, the bromance was over. By the Convention in July, the two were already the worst of enemies. I expect Trump’s relationship with Russia to become strained as he grows increasingly erratic.
  30.  

  31. As much as Trump and his supporters may want it, he will not be able to amass enough Republican votes (and zero Democratic votes) to repeal “ObamaCare” without having a replacement program ready to go first. Republicans will try (repeatedly) throughout the year to immediately end the program despite having no alternative, but Democrats need only three Republican Senators to stop any repeal from reaching the president’s desk. And while Republicans honestly believe Americans want to see the entire program scrapped, they are in for a rude awakening if 20 million Americans are suddenly faced with the potential loss of their insurance. Trump says he won’t allow insurance companies to deny patients with “preexisting conditions” from getting coverage again, but there is NO way to do that without the “mandate” they so deplore. And in eight years, no Republican has been able to devise a system that covers everyone that doesn’t include a mandate. So, no ObamaCare repeal. They will try. They will get close. They may even pass a bill severely limiting it, but no full repeal of the law.
  32.  

  33. Early on, Russia will test their new found relationship with the new administration to see just how much they can get away with and what reaction (if any) they get. Democrats in Congress will demand action. Republicans will not. And the public will be evenly split, ensuring nothing gets done.
  34.  

  35. Trump didn’t remember half of the promises he made during the campaign. He had completely forgotten he promised to stop the export of over 1,000 jobs at an Indiana “Carrier” plant until he heard a plant worker on TV state that he had personally promised them he’d save their jobs. He also forgot HOW he said he’d save them (by threatening to charge “Carrier” a reimportation tax.) Likewise his ridiculous threat to “lock her [Hillary] up” was quickly dismissed following his victory, the deportation of “11 Million illegal immigrants” quickly became only “a few million with criminal records” (illegal immigrants with criminal records are already deported upon capture), and his “border wall” was scaled down to “a fence in some locations.” Trump has a very short memory when it comes to his promises, so don’t be surprised if focus on many of his campaign promises are overshadowed by new catastrophes that develop in his first year.
  36.  

  37. In the final week of 2016, Trump startled the world by suggesting that we need to start expanding our nuclear arsenal again… reversing more than 30 years of American nuclear policy. Will Trump start a new Nuclear Arms Race? That takes money. Sadly, I don’t see enough sane Republicans in Congress willing to say “No” to Toddler-Trump and reject the possibility of attracting a few thousand defense industry jobs to their states, but I DO see just enough to side with Democrats to stop any such proposed increase in our nuclear stockpiles. No expansion.
  38.  

  39. And rounding on for an even 20, 2017 will be declared “the hottest year on record”.

 

Wow, that’s one incredibly dark miserable year I foresee. But Toddler-Trump is just too immature, too erratic and too impulsive to see things becoming anything other than a total mess in 2017.


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