Jaw-Dropping Snarky Snippets …

The radar is busy tonight, so many different things on the screen that have me gritting my teeth and wearing the scowl that seems to be permanently etched on my face.  The first snippet is one that will give you nightmares.


He can’t keep a secret …

Just yesterday evening, CNN reported that a Russian spy who was operating in a high-level capacity within Putin’s government, was extracted by the U.S. in mid-2017, in part because high-ranking intelligence officials feared that Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut would put the spy’s life in danger.  Believe it or not, Trump sycophant Mike Pompeo, who was then the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was behind the move.

The decision was made shortly after the May 2017 meeting in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, much to the horror of the intelligence community.

There were other reasons the intelligence community felt the “asset” might be compromised, but think about this one for just a minute, folks.  The ‘man’ who holds the highest position in the government of a nation of some 330 million people, a ‘man’ who is privy to nearly every bit of classified information in the nation, is not trusted by his own intelligence people, cannot be trusted to keep a secret, to keep his mouth shut.  He needs a keeper … make that a tag-team of keepers … lest he give his buddy Putin the nuclear codes!  Ponder on that one as you drift off to sleep tonight.


Irresponsible to the nth degree …

I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry … instead I held my head and let forth a string of language that is not appropriate for this blog.  Former Goldman Sachs executive and current Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced that there will likely be more tax cuts in 2020!  What made me laugh about the whole thing was remembering 1988 when George Bush, Sr., said repeatedly – “Read my lips:  no new taxes”, and now I would applaud a president who promised “No new tax cuts!  My how times change.

“I think there’s no question the U.S. economy is in very good shape. As we look around the world, there’s no question that China is slowing, Europe is slowing — the U.S. is the bright spot of the world. And regards to a middle-class tax cut, you know, we’ll be looking at tax cuts 2.0, something that will be something we’ll consider next year. But right now, the economy is in very, very good shape.”

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Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Treasury

Trump and Mnuchin obviously need lessons in how budgets and economies work.  Our national debt is spiraling out of control, currently at $22 trillion and growing every day, and they want to give another tax cut?  Crazy!  Why?  Because, my friends, next November 3rd we will all go vote for either Trump or a democrat … and Trump figures if he can tout another tax cut that won’t help any but his rich friends, we will all fall to our knees and kiss his feet and then go to the polls and vote for him.  This, my friends, is madness.  Just about the very last thing this nation needs is another tax cut.

To further cut taxes is the height of fiscal irresponsibility, yet those who are easily fooled will applaud, will believe that they are getting something … never mind that their grocery bills have increased by $40 per month as a result of Trump’s tariffs, and never mind that the cost of a gallon of gasoline has increased by 43% since 2016.  Meanwhile, the companies to whom you give your hard-earned dollars like Exxon, Amazon, Netflix, Delta, IBM, etc., will happily pay no taxes at all.  Don’t be fooled, folks … sooner or later, the economy will reflect the perfidy of cutting income by removing taxes from the ones who can most afford it.


Dynasty???  I think not …

Trump’s creepy re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has a plan …

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Brad Parscale, Trump campaign manager

“The Trumps will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican Party into a new party. One that will adapt to changing cultures. One must continue to adapt while keeping the conservative values that we believe in. I think they’re all amazing people, with amazing capabilities. I think you see that from Don Jr. I think you see that from Ivanka. You see it from Jared.”

I think that Mr. Parscale defines the word ‘amazing’ much differently than the rest of us.  I find them all a bit ignorant and a whole lot ugly, both inside and out.  One Trump is more than enough, thank you Brad.  If I believed his prediction for a single minute, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post, but would be headed to the nearest point of exit from this country.


Science vs Trump …

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Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

Remember last week’s fiasco with Trump, the sharpie, Hurricane Dorian and Alabama?  Well, today the New York Times reported that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross actually threatened to fire top employees at NOAA, the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts, for correcting Trump’s dangerous misinformation.  I said last week that it is a very dangerous situation when any politician, but especially one with the power of the president, can control what scientific information the public has access to.  That Trump’s minion Ross was all too willing to do his bidding, to fire scientists to assuage Trump’s ego, is horrendous.

We also found out that it was Ross himself who contacted Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where Ross was traveling and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.  Fix it???  It wasn’t broken!  It was accurate … it was Trump’s statement that needed fixing, that was erroneous.

So now, do all scientists need to petition Trump for permission to state their findings on every front?


Still more competition!

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Mark Sanford, 2020 GOP Candidate

Yet another republican has thrown his hat in the ring for the party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election.  First there was Bill Weld, then Joe Walsh, and now Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina.  This one must really frighten Trump for some reason, as he became somewhat unhinged … oh wait, he was already unhinged, wasn’t he?  In a series of tweets, Trump attacked Sanford …

“When the former Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, @MarkSanford, was reported missing, only to then say he was away hiking on the Appalachian Trail, then was found in Argentina with his Flaming Dancer friend, it sounded like his political career was over. It was, but then he ran for Congress and won, only to lose his re-elect after I Tweeted my endorsement, on Election Day, for his opponent. But now take heart, he is back, and running for President of the United States. The Three Stooges, all badly failed candidates, will give it a go!”

‘Twould seem Trump is running a bit scared, eh?  I will have more about Sanford, but for tonight, I am out of steam!


The conclusion to this collection of snippets can only be one thing:  Trump must go!Trump-must-go

 

Fools Rush In …

“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” – George Bernard Shaw

Stepping away for a minute from Trump’s abandonment of our Allies in Syria and Afghanistan, James Mattis’ resignation, Trump’s wall and related government shutdown, let’s take a look at some other things that happened last week.

On Thursday, it was reported that acting attorney General Matthew Whitaker had been told by Justice Department officials that he would not need to recuse himself from oversight of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election — despite having been an outspoken critic of the Mueller and the investigation.  Imagine the surprise of the Department of Justice ethics officials who had, in fact, told Mr. Whitaker that yes, he should definitely recuse himself!

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Matthew Whitaker, acting Attorney General

As the story unfolded, it turns out that Whitaker had some of his own personal advisors at the Justice Department say that it wasn’t necessary for him to recuse himself, and at the same time, they falsely claimed that it was unheard of for an Attorney General to recuse himself based on a conflict of interest.

Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, has also been a highly outspoken critic of Robert Mueller and the Russian investigation.  He will likely be questioned during confirmation hearings about his intent toward the investigation and whether he will recuse himself.  It would seem that Trump will pull out all the stops to throw a wrench into the search for truth.  The investigation has already racked up over 100 criminal charges against dozens of people, including guilty pleas from Trump’s former national security adviser, former campaign chair, former attorney, and multiple former advisers since it started in May 2017.  Can anybody honestly believe that Trump, his family, and most of his senior campaign staff were not involved in helping Russia rig the 2016 election?  No.  But Trump is pulling out all the stops to try to halt the investigation before Robert Mueller issues his final report.

Beyond the concern that Trump will direct his Attorney General to terminate the Russian investigation is the concern that Mueller’s report, once issued, will never make it to Congress, let alone to We The People.  By law, the Special Counsel’s report and conclusions must be presented to the Attorney General. But … the Attorney General then decides what portion of the report, if any, will be issued to Congress and ultimately the public.  Would Whitaker or Barr choose to suppress the report?  Hmmm … take a wild guess.  Watergate is beginning to look like a Sunday picnic in the park.


I know better than to judge a book by its cover or a person by their looks, but that said, Steven Mnuchin has always looked a little … seedy, sleazy, not-too-honest … to me.  Turns out he’s just plain not-too-bright, I suspect. MnuchinThroughout the past two years, a number of safety nets have been cut loose and sent to the dumpster, some rolling back the post-financial-crisis regulations that had been put in place to prevent another financial crisis similar to the one in 2007-2008.  As a result, our money, our investments, are a bit less secure now as the potential for a recession grows more likely.

So, Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, is apparently getting a bit nervous now that the regulations have been rolled back.  On Friday, he apparently called six of the largest banks to make sure they had plenty of money!  Yes, you heard me right.  What a way to run a government, eh?  Financial analysts, bankers and economists were all left scratching their heads on this one.

The best guess is that, in light of the stock markets tumbling last week, and then Trump threatening to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin was doing damage control, attempting to stroke the ruffled feathers of investors and assure the public that … nothing to see here, folks – business as usual.  Well guess what … it isn’t working, as we can see by the continued slide today.  Analysts said it was almost certain to have the opposite effect and throw up some red flags.marketsTrump blames Powell for the stock market plunge, whereas in reality, it is more attributable to his own erratic moves over the past few weeks, tariffs, and the chaos that reigns in Washington at the moment.  In other words, Trump, who has taken credit for a decent economy that he largely inherited, now also owns the economy that is on the brink of recession.

But back to Mnuchin.  He called the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo to “confirm that they have ample liquidity available”, according to Treasury officials.  He then issued a statement:

“We continue to see strong economic growth in the U.S. economy with robust activity from consumers and business. With the government shutdown, Treasury will have critical employees to maintain its core operations at Fiscal Services, IRS, and other critical functions within the department.”

One financial analyst, Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said …

“Panic feeds panic, and this looks like panic in the administration. Suggesting you might know something that no one else is worried about creates more unease.”

Folks … let’s call a spade a spade.  This administration has rapidly devolved into complete chaos with a “leader” who is either the biggest fool on earth, else in the throes of severe mental illness.  Between the government shutdown, the threat of pulling our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, the resignation of General Mattis, the border wall dispute, the issue of our treatment of immigrants, Trump’s horrid choices for Attorney General, his threats and bullying … there is no sanity in our federal government and we are not all fools.  I wouldn’t invest in the market right now under almost any circumstances.  Mnuchin can issue as many statements, tweet as many tweets as he likes, but he is not calming the fears of the public.  The fears are very real and nothing he can say will allay them.  Steve Mnuchin is, perhaps, as much a fool as his boss.

Tax Plan Belongs In The Trash Can

It would appear that Trump’s “top economic advisors” are not too smart.  Either that, or they think we are not too smart.  Either way, his “tax plan” is a piece of garbage that should not stand a chance of passing in Congress.

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When President Reagan did it in 1981, it was called “trickle-down” economics. It looked great on paper … only problem was, it did not, in fact, ‘trickle down’.  It did not work then, and it is just as unlikely to work now.  Economists outside the White House agree that this tax plan would almost certainly raise the federal deficit by as much as $7 trillion over the next ten years. Gary Cohn and Steve Mnuchin, two of Trump’s top financial advisors (both former Goldman Sachs bankers, as it were) claim that the deficit will be offset by economic growth, but that is a fantasy of their own imaginations. The entire plan is designed to benefit large corporations, such as the ones owned by Trump, himself, and the wealthy, such as Trump, himself, as well as Cohn and Mnuchin.

According to a New York Times article, here are the winners & losers under the plan:

Winners:

  • Businesses with high tax rates.
  • High-income earners.
  • People with creative accountants.
  • Multimillionaires who want to pass money to their heirs tax-free.
  • People who still fill out their tax returns by hand.
  • Retailers and other companies that feared a “border adjustment tax.”
  • Donald J. Trump.

Losers:

  • Upper-middle-income people in blue states.
  • Deficit hawks.
  • People who want Congress to pass something.

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One of the most ironic things to note is that under this plan, corporations would not have to pay taxes on their foreign profits, an unusual proposal for a president who has championed an “America first” approach and railed against companies that move jobs and resources overseas. But then, Trump himself has significant overseas interests, so I leave the rest to your imagination.

Nicholas Kristof’s column today said it best:

What do you do if you’re a historically unpopular new president, with a record low approval rating by 14 points, facing investigations into the way Russia helped you get elected, with the media judging your first 100 days in office as the weakest of any modern president?

Why, you announce a tax cut!

And in your self-absorbed way, you announce a tax cut that will hugely benefit yourself. Imagine those millions saved! You feel better already!

This isn’t about “jobs,” as the White House claims. If it were, it might cut employment taxes, which genuinely do discourage hiring. Rather, it’s about huge payouts to the wealthiest Americans — and deficits be damned! If Republicans embrace this “plan” after all their hand-wringing about deficits and debt, we should build a Grand Monument to Hypocrisy in their honor.

This isn’t tax policy; it’s a heist.”

Throughout his campaign, Trump swore to bring down the national debt, ranting that President Obama had ‘doubled the debt’, and that he, Trump, would reduce the deficit.  Trump’s tax plan comes with very few details, so it is difficult to assess, however a number of leading economists have reviewed the framework and here is what they have said:

“We’ve only done the rough numbers, but this looks like a tax cut of a magnitude of about $5 trillion. That is simply unimaginable given our fiscal situation and the size of the deficit, which is already the worst since World War II.Who doesn’t love a tax cut, especially if no one has to pay for it? This is a free-lunch mentality. ” – Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

“Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady must be beside themselves in private. They put in years of work on a tax reform plan that at least tried to be revenue-neutral, and wouldn’t explode the deficit.” – Leonard E. Burman, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

“Mr. Trump’s plan basically is tax cuts for everyone. Real reform, with revenue neutrality, is difficult. There are winners and losers, but Trump apparently just wants winners.” – Steven M. Rosenthal, a business tax expert and senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

“I want a plan that’s focused on growth as much as anyone. But these tax cuts are not going to pay for themselves. If you believe that, you’re kidding yourself.” – Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office and is now president of the American Action Forum

The bottom line is that the tax plan as it was presented to Congress, with unrealistic goals and almost no detail, is not going to be passed in either branch of Congress.  If Trump was hoping for another “achievement” to add to his “first 100 days list”, he is likely to be sorely disappointed.  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Gary Cohn, Trump’s senior economic advisor, are going to have to do a much better job than this.

I suspect that this ‘plan’, if one can call it that, was a rush job, as Trump has actually spent his ‘first 100 days’ more concerned about getting his travel ban executed, deporting immigrants, destroying environmental protection controls, insulting our allies, threatening our enemies, and erasing all legislation passed under President Obama.  This tax plan has no earmarks of a thought process, but merely a fantasy devised in a very short period of time with no link to reality.  Back to the drawing board, Donnie … this one stinks!

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