The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)

I rarely follow new blogs these days, as I don’t have time to keep up with the ones I already follow, but recently one crossed my path that seemed exceptional, so I followed it. The blog is Enigma in Black, and according to the authors bio it is “one man’s opinion about matters primarily involving politics, education, and race.”
We all know that Trump is profiting from the presidency, that he sees this nation as his own private domain and that his hired thugs are profiting as well. This post, however, shines some new light on it all and is appropriately titled, “The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)”. Thank you, Enigma, for both this excellent post, and your permission to share.

ENIGMA IN BLACK

It’s how Trump has done business the past couple of decades. After six bankruptcies, Trump did learn a new trick and started selling his name and not trying to run a profitable business. Trump doesn’t really own many of the properties with his name on them. In 2015, his name was on seventeen properties in New York of which he owned only five. At present, the number of buildings in New York with his name has dwindled to eleven, as the six“Trump Place” properties elected to have the Trump name removed. The Trump Organization continues to manage the properties. A typical deal involves Trump licensing his name which once attracted buyers/renters for a fee while also being paid for management duties.

Trump’s new business model allowed him to eliminate risk while raking in a percentage, whether the venture succeeds or fails. When The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower…

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Time For ‘Toons!

I thought it was about time for a ‘toon post … a bit of humour to dull the pain of the 24/7 news cycle where we are always being bombarded with some new abomination.


There was one bright spot last Friday, when Roger Stone was convicted on all seven felony counts with which he was charged.  Now, if ol’ Roger had been charged and convicted for every crime he’s ever committed, according to my calculations, he would be serving a 2,347 year sentence.  The truth of the matter is I won’t be surprised if Trump pardons him, but let’s enjoy his downfall while we can.

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Only trouble with this one is they made Trump look slim … 

Roger-Stone-3Who will where it best?


The thing that is on everybody’s mind, of course, are the ongoing impeachment hearings, and the cartoonists on both sides are having a field day.

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Rather than either shutting up, or having some logical rebuttal to the witness testimonies, the republicans, most notably Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, and Trump himself, are engaging in a smear campaign.  Why, Trump even tried to blame former Ambassador Marie Yovanovich for the Civil War in Somalia!

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And speaking of Jim Jordan …

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Some in the GOP seem to be having a hard time these days.  It must be difficult to have to give full support to a ‘man’ who has no values, no integrity, lies, cheats and steals.  Surely some of them are considering whether Trump is worth them throwing away their own careers.

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The foundation for our government is the U.S. Constitution.  Presidents take an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution.  The document has withstood many challenges over the past 232 years, but I have to question whether it can stand up to the constant shredding and burning it is being put through under Donald Trump and his cadre of oafs.

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And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons …

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Remember when the worst thing the opposition could find to criticize the president for was wearing a tan-coloured suit?  I long for the good ol’ days.Obama

Robert Reich And The Founding Fathers Speak

Many people who support Trump, both in and out of government, claim that what Trump has done is not an impeachable offense.  Some even go so far as to claim his extortion of the Ukrainian president, holding up much-needed military support in exchange for President Zelenskyy announcing he would investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden, is “business as usual”.  I can talk until I’m blue in the face, and those people will say I’m just a sore loser, still angry because Hillary Clinton didn’t win in 2016.  They’d be wrong … Hillary actually did win by nearly 3 million votes.  The unfair skewing of districts in many states, however, handed Trump enough undeserved electoral votes to carry him into the Oval Office.

But, about impeachment … though I studied Constitutional Law for two years, and have read the Constitution probably 30-40 times, I am not an expert on Constitutional Law.  But I know of someone who is.

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Robert Reich

Robert Reich is an American economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.

Reich has been the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley since January 2006. He was formerly a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of social and economic policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University.

Suffice it to say that this man knows how government works, and knows the Constitution far better than, say, a president who has never read the short, 8.000-word document.  So, let’s hear what Mr. Reich has to say about whether what Trump has done is impeachable.

‘Toons To Brighten Your Day … Or Not

It is a dreary, dark, rainy day here today, and I thought a few cartoons might brighten the day, lighten the mood.


The big story of the day … every day for the past month or so, and for the foreseeable future … is that of the impeachment inquiries taking place in the House of Representatives, and the response by Trump and the republicans …

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Ol’ Mick Mulvaney has been in the news a lot lately, since he did that “open mouth, insert foot” trick, and then tried unsuccessfully to remove his foot from his mouth …

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Corruption runs rampant in Washington these days, from the “president” down through his rank of minions, and among some in Congress who feel compelled to defend Trump’s speech and actions, though for the most part there is no defense.

corruptioncorruption-2Emoluments clauseTom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191023.tifcorruption-5corruption-6


You all remember last week when Trump was giving a speech and he claimed that he’s building a wall … in Colorado!

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Trump’s treatment of our Kurdish allies will not be forgotten any time soon.  Pulling our troops out of Syria, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Erdoğan’s brutal attacks, was beyond unconscionable, and has shown our allies around the globe that the U.S. can no longer be trusted.

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The GOP once stood for “Grand Old Party”.  Those days are long gone, and for the past ten years or so, it has stood for only the wealthiest in the nation, willing to abandon the rest of us.  Still, I think they bit off more than they could chew when they nominated and later elected Donald Trump to the presidency, and they are now struggling to figure out how to support him, how to defend the indefensible.

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And last, but not least, since tomorrow is Hallowe’en …

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Have a safe and fun Hallowe’en!

To Impeach Or Not To Impeach?

Impeachment, or as the juvenile in the Oval Office calls it, “the I-word”, is on everybody’s mind today.  It is the first thing you will see when you log onto any news website, pick up a newspaper, or turn on your television.  I want to cheer Speaker Pelosi’s decision to move forward by opening an official impeachment inquiry, for it is what most of us have wanted since long before the Mueller report was released.  In truth, the Mueller report was enough to justify impeachment, but instead it was swept under that rug that so many of Trump’s atrocities have been swept under.  That rug must be getting pretty darn lumpy by now!sweep_under_rug

I would like to see Trump impeached, though we all know that the Senate, comprised of a majority of republicans who are too scared of Trump, will not convict and therefore he will stay in office.  Still, being impeached is a stain on a president’s reputation and should ensure that he cannot be re-elected, right?  Well, maybe not.  Worse yet, what if his impeachment actually helps him win in 2020?  Ross Douthat wrote an excellent analysis of this in the New York Times, and just a bit ago, our friend Ellen sent me this one by Frank Bruni, also writing for the Times.  Please read and think about this, let me know what your thoughts are.  Unfortunately, Trump is no Nixon, and is unlikely to go down without a fight.  And, those who still support him after all the chaos and corruption, are not likely to listen to reason or to care what he does, but will stick with him like super-glue.

Why a Trump Impeachment Should Terrify You


What’s just and what’s wise aren’t always the same.

bruni-2By 

President Trump deserves to be impeached. But the prospect terrifies me, and it should terrify you, too.

That’s not to say that it’s the wrong move. Arguably, it’s the only move, at least in terms of fidelity to the Constitution and to basic decency. From the moment that Trump stepped into the office of the presidency, he has degraded it — with words that a president has no business speaking (or tweeting); with ceaseless lies; with raging conflicts of interest; with managerial ineptitude; with foreign dealings that compromise America’s values and independence. How can principled lawmakers not tell him, in the most emphatic manner available, that enough is enough?

But there’s no way to say what happens now that a formal impeachment inquiry is being opened. None. You’re going to hear a lot in coming days and weeks about Bill Clinton, but using the example of his impeachment in late 1998 is a bit ridiculous: He was a very different president accused of very different offenses at a very different time. Besides which, political analysts who do cite it don’t agree on the lessons.

Any scenario is possible, including one in which impeachment redounds to Trump’s benefit and increases the chances of his re-election, because he paints himself a martyr, eludes conviction in the Senate, frames that as exoneration and watches his fans mobilize and turn out as never before. And a second Trump term would be disastrous. Morally as well as practically, limiting this unfit, amoral, unsteady man’s time in the presidency takes precedence over any small cluster of sentences written centuries ago.

But while impeachment’s impact on November 2020 would be unknowable, its effect between now and then would be almost certain. A dangerously polarized and often viciously partisan country would grow more so, with people on opposing sides hunkering down deeper in their camps and clinging harder to their chosen narratives as the president — concerned only with himself — ratcheted up his insistence that truth itself was subjective and up for grabs.

That’s not a reason to blink, but it’s a reality to brace for. At a juncture when we so desperately need to rediscover common ground, we’d be widening the fault lines.

Impeachment should terrify you because it would mean a continued, relentless, overwhelming focus on Trump’s lawlessness, antics, fictions and inane tweets. Most of the oxygen in Washington would consumed by the ghastly carnival of this barker, with too little left for the nation’s very real problems and for scrutiny of his substantive inadequacy in addressing them.

Where’s the infrastructure plan that we’re — oh — a quarter-century late in implementing? Where are the fixes to a health care system whose problems go far beyond the tens of millions of Americans still uninsured? What about education? Impeachment would shove all of those issues even further to the margins than they already are. And many Americans’ estrangement from Washington — their cynicism about its ability to improve their lives even a whit — would intensify.

And would impeachment proceedings really force Americans to focus on sins of Trump’s that are being ignored? That’s long been one of Democrats’ arguments for impeachment, but I wonder. There has been such saturation coverage of Trump that many voters may not be able to stomach it any more, and today’s political tribalism doesn’t allow for all that much in the way of epiphanies and transformations. Trump’s true colors were conspicuous from the start. You either saw a perverse rainbow or you stared into darkness.

Meanwhile, Trump. How rattled would he be by drawn-out impeachment proceedings and what would he do? He’s capable of anything. Maybe it’s not just a culture war that he’d whip up. Maybe it’s the real thing.

Certainly he’d toil to persuade Americans of the nefariousness of Democrats, and absolutely his strategy would be to smear the people, the procedures and the institutions arrayed against him as utterly unworthy of trust. If holding on to power meant ruling over rubble, so be it. Trump is beholden only to Trump, and he’d simply declare the rubble gold dust.

The Big Picture

We all know the many atrocities Trump has committed in his 32+ months in office and they are never far from our minds, but there are so many that sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture.  David Leonhardt’s column in the New York Times today simply lists, line by line, 40 of the worst atrocities committed by the man who calls himself ‘president’.  Note that there are many not even on this list, such as his rollback of environmental regulations and his 12,000+ lies.

Take a look at the list … some you may have even forgotten, in light of newer, more vitriolic ones.  And after you look at all 40 of these, ask yourself a question:  How can anybody in their right mind possibly support this ‘man’?  And yet, in the past week, his approval rating has actually gone up!  If you still have any Trump-supporting friends left, show them this list, and ask them the question.  It has become one of life’s greatest mysteries to me … even greater than how many stars are in the sky!

Donald Trump vs. the United States of America

Just the facts, in 40 sentences.

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By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Sometimes it’s worth stepping back to look at the full picture.

He has pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 American presidential election.

He urged a foreign country to intervene in the 2016 presidential election.

He divulged classified information to foreign officials.

He publicly undermined American intelligence agents while standing next to a hostile foreign autocrat.

He hired a national security adviser who he knew had secretly worked as a foreign lobbyist.

He encourages foreign leaders to enrich him and his family by staying at his hotels.

He genuflects to murderous dictators.

He has alienated America’s closest allies.

He lied to the American people about his company’s business dealings in Russia.

He tells new lies virtually every week — about the economy, voter fraud, even the weather.

He spends hours on end watching television and days on end staying at resorts.

He often declines to read briefing books or perform other basic functions of a president’s job.

He has aides, as well as members of his own party in Congress, who mock him behind his back as unfit for office.

He has repeatedly denigrated a deceased United States senator who was a war hero.

He insulted a Gold Star family — the survivors of American troops killed in action.

He described a former first lady, not long after she died, as “nasty.”

He described white supremacists as “some very fine people.”

He told four women of color, all citizens and members of Congress, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

He made a joke about Pocahontas during a ceremony honoring Native American World War II veterans.

He launched his political career by falsely claiming that the first black president was not really American.

He launched his presidential campaign by describing Mexicans as “rapists.”

He has described women, variously, as “a dog,” “a pig” and “horseface,” as well as “bleeding badly from a facelift” and having “blood coming out of her wherever.”

He has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by multiple women.

He enthusiastically campaigned for a Senate candidate who was accused of molesting multiple teenage girls.

He waved around his arms, while giving a speech, to ridicule a physically disabled person.

He has encouraged his supporters to commit violence against his political opponents.

He has called for his opponents and critics to be investigated and jailed.

He uses a phrase popular with dictators — “the enemy of the people” — to describe journalists.

He attempts to undermine any independent source of information that he does not like, including judges, scientists, journalists, election officials, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office and the National Weather Service.

He has tried to harass the chairman of the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates.

He said that a judge could not be objective because of his Mexican heritage.

He obstructed justice by trying to influence an investigation into his presidential campaign.

He violated federal law by directing his lawyer to pay $280,000 in hush money to cover up two apparent extramarital affairs.

He made his fortune partly through wide-scale financial fraud.

He has refused to release his tax returns.

He falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping him.

He claimed that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence, thereby damaging the credibility of criminal investigations across the country.

He has ordered children to be physically separated from their parents.

He has suggested that America is no different from or better than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

He has called America a “hellhole.”

He is the president of the United States, and he is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for.

Another Really, Really Rotten Choice …

Some days you have to ask yourself if somehow, in some way, you have slipped into a dystopian universe.  Up is down, inside is outside, big is little, and wrong has suddenly become right.  Point in case …

There are two vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and Trump has nominated a man named Stephen Moore to fill one of those vacancies.  Now, before I get into Mr. Moore and his qualifications, or lack thereof, remember that the purpose of the Federal Reserve in a nutshell is to ensure a stable economy. *

Federal Reserve board members (there are seven, which includes the Chairman and Vice Chairman) serve a term of fourteen years, and are paid an annual salary of $179,700, with the two at the top receiving $199,700.  It is a position of high trust, controlling such things as interest rates, banking regulations, managing inflation and more. Stephen MooreNow on to Stephen Moore.  First off, he is a great supporter of “supply-side” or “trickle down” economics.  Sigh.  HOW MANY TIMES do we have to prove that it does not work??? I made this point back in September 2017 with my post It Trickles Up … Not Down! In fact, Trump has proven it himself by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy, stating that the money they saved in taxes would ‘trickle down’ to the consumer, to the working class.  It didn’t.  It never has. It never will.  In a 2012 paper, Moore wrote …

“Cutting taxes can have a near immediate and permanent impact, which is why we have advised Oklahoma, Kansas and other states to cut their income tax rates if they want the most effective immediate and lasting boost to their states’ economies.”

But wait … there is more NOT to love about Stephen Moore.

For starters, just looking at his affiliations sends up red flags. He is a member of the Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, owned by none other than the owner of state television network Fox News, Rupert Murdoch.  And Mr. Moore is the Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation.  For those who may not be aware, the Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. and geared towards public policy. The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were taken from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. The foundation had a powerful say in the staffing of the Trump misfit administration, being largely responsible for the nominations of Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Jeff Sessions.

In 2011, Mr. Moore divorced his wife, Allison.  In 2013, he was found in contempt of court for failing to pay more than $330,000 in spousal support, child support, attorney’s fees and a one-time fee to his ex-wife.  Moore had failed to pay six consecutive months of child support — and only a small fraction of the nearly $19,000 a month he had agreed to pay his ex-wife in the divorce settlement. Moore failed to respond to repeated requests from the Virginia court to make payments and did not show up for a deposition in the case. The court ordered him to sell his home to raise money to pay the debt and forced him to set up an automatic bank transfer each month.  Ever hear the term “deadbeat dad”?  Moore is one.

Mr. Moore currently owes $75,000 in unpaid federal taxes, interest and penalties, according to court documents filed last year. A lien for $75,328.80 from the 2014 tax year was entered against Mr. Moore at the request of the federal government in January 2018.  What he owes in back taxes for a single year is more than most of us make in a single year!  And he is too sorry to pay the government, when we would be in jail if we fell behind by a tenth that much?

Now, here we have a man who cannot manage his own personal finances, and yet Trump would elevate him to one of the most important positions in the overall economic health of the nation???  You might think that Mr. Moore would hang his head in shame and walk away from the nomination, but think again.

Two days ago, he stated emphatically that he has no intention of stepping aside.  “It’s full speed ahead.” And Trump & Co have no intention of withdrawing the nomination, according to Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, who said both he and Trump continue to support Mr. Moore for the Fed’s board of governors.

“I think he’ll make a great governor. We are standing fully behind his candidacy.”

beating head in disgustJust as with Trump’s cabinet picks, this one is among the worst possible choices.  We have people leading the Departments of Energy, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who are climate change deniers and have ties to the fossil fuel industry.  We have a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public schools.  Then there’s Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, who is the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit claiming he stole from a former partner.  And let us not forget Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who claims that poverty is “a state of mind”.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Trump cabinet.pngSadly for our nation, Mr. Moore’s nomination, just like all those above, and like Brett Kavanaugh who now sits on the Supreme Court despite many disqualifications, will be confirmed by the republican-majority Senate.  And We the People have no voice in this.  Unless there are actually some republican senators who have a bit of decency left, a bit of honour and integrity, and the cojones to defy Trump, then this misfit, just like all those before him, will be confirmed.


*For an easy-to-understand summation of the Federal Reserve, I recommend this article, The Federal Reserve and What It Does 

Why Billionaires???

What does a person do with a billion dollars?  I’ve been pondering this for a while now, ever since Trump took office and began making decisions and policies that largely benefit only those who already have more money than they know what to do with.  I have a rather socialistic way of looking at the world, believing that it is wrong for one man to live a posh, hedonistic lifestyle while others are starving.  As such, I am aghast at the current administration’s constant pandering to those who already have too much at the expense of those who are barely getting by.

It seems somehow criminal to give tax cuts to the wealthy, while the rest of us are paying about the same or even more than before.  The latest news is that Trump is attempting to force the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep open a power plant that is no longer viable, simply because they buy coal from his uber-wealthy pal and supporter, Robert Murray, owner of Murray Energy of whom I’ve written before.  It seems criminal that Trump is rolling back efficiency standards on light bulbs, which is estimated to carry a high cost to consumers (us).

And those are only the most recent examples.  All of these decisions are made with an eye toward putting more money in the pockets of billionaires.  And what do they do with it?  I don’t know, but I will tell you what they don’t do with it.  They don’t pay a fair portion of taxes on it – taxes that might go toward such things as taking care of people less fortunate.  They don’t donate the bulk of it to worthy causes.  They hoard it.  It seems criminal to me, for any person to have so much money sitting around for bragging purposes while the vast majority of people in the world are truly struggling to stay alive.

I was in that frame of mind a few days ago when I stumbled upon an article by journalist Tom Scocca.  The title of the piece, No Billionaires, caught my eye.  Take a look for yourself …

No Billionaires by Tom Scocca

Tom-ScoccaSome ideas about how to make the world better require careful, nuanced thinking about how best to balance competing interests. Others don’t: Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires. All of them.

Does this sound like an incitement to the most dreaded kind of revolution, when people are struck down by the mob simply on the basis of some crude simple standard? It is not. The people who have a billion dollars are fine; they may go on living. It is just that, for the sake of everyone else (and, honestly, for their own sake) they must not be allowed to possess a billion dollars.

No one needs a billion dollars. No one deserves a billion dollars. There is a widespread moral and conceptual error, in a society saturated in the ideology of competition and monetary success, that the property a person has gotten does not simply belong to that person but is, somehow, itself an embodiment of their personhood—that to separate a person from property is to attack their human existence.

This is true to an extent—to the extent that property secures a person food, and shelter, and physical security, and health and futurity. Even, despite the inequities and injustices that have emerged by this level, a person’s opportunities to have leisure, to make art, etc.

None of this comes anywhere near adding up to a billion dollars.

Another error is the belief that billionaires have made their money by adding value to society, of which they take a minor share. One pictures some great industrialist inventing and manufacturing a useful item, which makes every single person’s life better, and in return receiving a small share of the price of the item.

A kindergarten teacher, teaching 25 new people a year not to bite each other and to work in occasional harmony with strangers, produces far more social good in a lifetime than an industrialist does. Even to picture the billionaire as a productive industrialist is too optimistic—read up and down the Forbes list, larded with monopolists, retailers, retail monopolists, the heirs of retail monopolies, real estate magnates, Mark Zuckerberg.

What do they do with all their extra money? They buy atrocious houses. They shut down publications. They buy politicians, over and under the table. Now a whole batch of them have moved directly into government—and we have the most corrupt and incompetent executive branch in memory to show for it.

When we speak of the better billionaires, we simply mean the ones who are not actively malignant. There are no good billionaires. There may be some relatively good people who are attached to a pile of money that stacks one billion dollars high, but the money does not improve them. It makes them worse. Their good points would be no less good if they held only, say, 500 million dollars. And their bad points would be that much less of a problem for anyone else.