Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another reason why Democrats lose elections (despite being on the right side of issues)

Question: Why did it take horrific pictures of ex-wives with black-eyes to alert everyone to the security clearance problem in the White House? More so, how is it Democrats in DC didn't first get word of this serious problem and inform the media?

I have to believe if Obama or Hillary were POTUS, Republicans would've been all over this scandal, early, finding out about it through leaks and word of mouth (which flow like water in Washington). Next thing the Fox News channel is covering it 24/7, demanding resignations and even impeachment.

As it was, Obama had to run a super-tight ship ethically because he knew that even a hint of scandal, no matter how baseless, would get out and spread like wildfire. Republicans are forever trying to find wrong-doing to hopefully hang Democrats -- to the point where they usually just fabricate "scandal" (see Benghazi).

Yet with Trump, we have a scandal-o-rama, seemingly nonstop incidents of real wrong-doing, often involving very serious violations. But how often are Democrats credited with uncovering any of these? Again, in this case of Porter's security clearance problem, which gravitated to Kushner and others, we the public can thank the media after explicit photos were released. Initially, it was a MeToo scandal with Porter needing to leave for prior domestic abuse, but then with further scrutiny it morphed into a national security scandal. And only then did we see a bunch of Dem politicians scurry to MSNBC and CNN to pile on condemnation.

This is one reason why Democrats lose more elections than they should, especially since they tend to be on the right side (the side most Americans favor) with most issues. They're simply too polite and respectful when it comes to playing hardball politics. They need to be more cagy and savvy when it comes to uncovering "dirt" on the other side. (And of course I mean real, actual scandal -- unlike Republicans and their many fake BOMBSHELL scandals (yawn)).

With this administration, uncovering scandal is as easy as falling out of a boat and hitting water. However, Trump doesn't have to worry with Schumer, Pelosi et al on the beat.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Conservatism In Exile -- Really?

This morning on Morning Joe, Joe and the gang were waxing nostalgic for the good old days of true blue conservatism. You know, like it was back when Reagan was in office.

I'm no spring chicken and I fully recall those days. I call "fake news!" What are Joe et al thinking about?

Look, I get that Trump and today's GOP would have anyone wanting to disassociate from anything even remotely resembling this rotten cast of characters. But let's keep it real.

As I've said repeatedly, Trump didn't just appear on the scene out of nowhere. He's not some invader from outer space who seduced one party into having him as their nominee.

Rather it's been a gradual evolution (actually devolution) of the Republican Party that has resulted in Trump as POTUS. Admit it! Don't rub your eyes in disbelief, trying to figure out how we got here. The lineage has been fairly straightforward. Reagan to Gingrich to GW/Cheney to Tea Party to Trump. Go ahead, wince, but that's more or less been the regression.

I have argued that today's GOP and Trump simply represent "conservatism" on steroids, to its extreme. And it's just very difficult for many to accept this ugly reality -- understandably.

Joe Scarborough never actually explains what he means by the conservatism he longs for, other than to just mention the name of Reagan and his supposed legacy (much of which has become folklore).

Let's revisit much of what occurred in the 1980s or during the heyday of "real" conservatism.

  • Reagan cut taxes and blew up the deficit. So has Trump and today's GOP. 
  • Reagan's tax cuts were skewed towards favoring the rich and wealthy. So are Trump's tax cuts. 
  • Republicans then were against government spending -- unless a Republican was POTUS, then it was OK. The same holds true with Trump and today's GOP.
  • Re spending, Reagan emphasized the military. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was big on rolling back regulations. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was not hugely pro-environment (see James Watt). Trump and today's GOP same, to say the least!
  • Conservatives then were very much pro-gun, pro-NRA, don't infringe on their rights to bear arms. Not true today?
  • And of course the anti-abortion holds true then and now....

What am I missing? What is Joe Scarborough recalling that I seemed to have either forgotten or misinterpreted? Seriously. Enough with this mushrooming group of "recovering" Republicans (Scarborough, Frum, Kristol, Will, etc.) who seemingly pretend that their party was once something wholly different than what we're observing today. Me thinks they doth protest too much. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Obviously Undemocratic

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently ruled that the state's congressional district map needed to be redrawn. Of course, Trump weighed in against the Court, tweeting, "Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new 'pushed' Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct!"

The original map was correct? Really? I suspect that like everything the POTUS says, the truth is likely the opposite.

Before Trump won PA by the slimmest of margins (with the help of Russian meddling and Comey's preelection letter), the state had sided with the Democratic presidential candidate for the last six elections, going back to Bill Clinton in 1992. That's right, 6-0 for the "D" candidate.

As for registered voters in the state, here's the breakdown:

Democratic: 48%
Republican: 38%
Other: 14%

Clearly, Democratic voters outnumber Republican in PA.

And yet Pennsylvania has 13 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and just 5 Democrats. That's right, 72% of their 18 U.S. House seats are Republican despite PA obviously being a "D" state.

At the state level, Pennsylvania has 155 Republican state representatives and just 98 Democratic reps, or 61% of the state House seats are Republican.

I think the verdict for the Supreme Court was a no-brainer, one a 5th grader could've deduced.

The unfortunate reality is this type of egregious gerrymandering remains in place in several other states. It's fair to surmise that with a more level playing field, Republicans would not be able to win House majorities at either the federal or state levels, so they must rely on these undemocratic district maps to jerry-rig the vote count in their favor. (Not to mention the enactment of widespread voter suppression measures).

With the 2010 Republican gerrymandering combined with Trump as POTUS, the United States has likely never been more undemocratic.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Trump and the plunging stock market

Over the last few days, the stock market has been plunging, effectively wiping out two months worth of gains.

But where are the Trump tweets now concerning the market? He's been stone silent on this topic, a topic he has loved to comment on repeatedly since taking office. Whenever the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit a new high, we heard about it. The rising stock market became synonymous with Trump, largely due to him taking full credit for its rise.

I cannot ever recall another president in history so frequently commenting on the market. Past presidents likely realized that:
1) The stock market is an incredibly complex apparatus that moves for many reasons, most of which even the "experts" cannot fathom at the time (markets discount the future, making it difficult to ascertain why prices are rising or falling in the here and now). That said the POTUS is only one of several factors impacting the market at any given time.
2) If you bought it, you own it. Prior presidents fully understood that if you want to take credit for a rising stock market, you better be ready to likewise accept blame for when stocks inevitably head south.
But as we know, Trump is "different" and likely too ignorant to realize both #1 and #2.

The fact remains that Trump's constant tweets and reminders about the market hitting new highs was and is incredibly irresponsible. We all know he's a shameless huckster, a two-bit salesman who will hype the hell out of anything that benefits him. But there are laws and regulations about "selling" when it comes to stocks, bonds, etc. Financial advisors and the like have to be very careful about what they say when it comes to hyping or promising investment performance. They're expected to err on the side of caution, to be prudent and transparent when discussing not just reward but more importantly, risk.

All of these laws and regulations are to protect the investor. It's very easy for someone to get caught up in the hysteria of a rising market, which increasingly makes them susceptible to acting on emotion as opposed to reason. An unscrupulous, dishonest advisor could take full advantage of this situation -- if not for the laws and regulations.

Yet laws and regulations to Trump are just bureaucratic red tape that stand in the way of prosperity. They're a hindrance and not to be taking seriously.

Just imagine how many people were overly influenced by Trump's tweets and incessant mentions of stock market highs, allowing it to color their judgment and perhaps they increased their allocation to stocks above and beyond what was prudent for them. Which was great while the market climbed higher each day, but now with stocks seemingly in free-fall, it's not so fun anymore.

So how many millions or billions of dollars of stock market gains were due to Trump's deliberate, non-stop hyping? And isn't he then on the hook for the losses too? If this stock market downturn continues, can we expect to see investors increasingly blame Trump for their losses? I mean, according to him, it appeared stocks could only go in one direction.

I'm just curious to see how he'll blame things on Obama and/or the Democrats.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Who's to blame for the government shutdown?

I would argue -- as Sen. Graham apparently does -- that Trump's staff (specifically John Kelly and Stephen Miller) is to blame for this shutdown, and therefore ultimately Trump himself.

It's my understanding that more than one bipartisan compromise has been presented to Trump, and given he's an awful negotiator AND has no real strong policy beliefs, he was ready to go with any of these compromises -- BUT Kelly and/or Miller convinced him to decline. Both are immigration hawks, but more so they likely reminded Trump that compromise would not go over well with "his base." 

And if there's one thing we can learn from his one-year in office, Trump will do anything to appease or please his "base" supporters. 

Just another lie when he said, "I will be president for all Americans." Nah, more like 30%-35% of Americans.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Trump knows only one thing about Norway....

It's not surprising Trump mentioned the country of Norway amidst his "sh*thole" ordeal. Norway is somewhere between 85%-90% white. That fact is likely one of the few that Trump knows cold.

Of course, the irony is lost on clueless Trump that Norway also happens to be one of the most socialist countries in the world. As in Bernie Sanders socialist. Norway has universal health care, tuition-free college education, one-year paid maternity leave, 52% of workers are unionized (vs. 10% in U.S.).

And despite being so socialist, Forbes magazine ranked Norway as one of the top-10 best countries in the world to do business (U.S. was just #18).

Finally, Norway is perennially near the top of the list when ranking the happiest countries.

No doubt Trump knew none of these other facts, only the one about Norwegians' predominant skin color.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Stock Market Performance: Obama vs. Trump

Trump's incessant, one-note tweets can be loathsome and tiring, but his constant reminders about the stock market hitting new highs are especially irksome. As with nearly everything Trump utters, let's try to apply a little perspective and, gulp, facts to gain a more realistic understanding.

The chart above shows that the S&P 500 bottomed at 676.53 on 3/9/2009, not long after Obama was inaugurated in 2009. Using the same time frame, the S&P 500 closed at 2364.87 on 3/9/2017 for Trump.

The total return for the S&P 500 from the 3/9/2009 low to 3/9/2017 was 311%. Since 3/9/2017, the S&P 500 has risen by 15% (through yesterday).

Trump has a LONG ways to go to match Obama's stock market performance, and yet Obama rarely said a word about the market hitting new highs during his eight years. Meanwhile, Trump blares from the rooftop....

P.S. And modify the date ranges if you must, e.g. use inauguration day to inauguration day. The message remains: Obama will look exceptionally good and Trump has quite a ways to go to take such a victory lap.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The Flynn plea deal is just one more step towards the truth

As I often do, I watched Fox News coverage of the Michael Flynn plea deal (always must check in to see what propaganda is being fed to "the base"). And as is often the case, it's as if I'm watching a channel from another planet. A little bit of Flynn news, followed by the tax bill, Steinle verdict, Conyers, Franken, the failure of liberalism, etc. It's no wonder Obama recently said, "Those who watch Fox News and those who read the New York Times occupy completely different realities. If I watch Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me."

Something I continue to hear on Fox is the refrain, "this latest bit of news is primarily bad for X, but still doesn't show or prove anything towards collusion with Russia." And "X" in this case is Flynn, but not long ago it was Manafort and Papadopoulos.

Rather than look at the bigger picture and how this Flynn plea fits into a progression of events leading to what will likely be a momentous conclusion, Fox News (and those on the right) prefers to compartmentalize each new revelation, judging it in isolation and framing it as "no big deal." Flynn's plea deal simply means Flynn lied and now he alone is paying the price for that misdeed, period. It says nothing about any wrongdoing by Trump, namely collusion with the Russians.

This is like watching the Super Bowl last year and at half-time stating the Patriots suck and the Falcons rule. Not so fast....

Mueller is currently fighting (and winning) battles to eventually win the war. The Flynn deal is just another step taken towards resolving the investigation. Mueller is leveraging players by obtaining their cooperation through plea deals as a means to discovery of what truly occurred, whether it be colluding with the Russians OR obstructing justice, or both. This is Law School 101 stuff.

And mind you, the fact that Flynn's deal is so lenient (plead guilty on just one count?!) given the laundry list of violations and possible criminal acts against him, it says Flynn had much to offer Mueller, which should make Trump et al VERY worried. Notice also no word of Flynn's son, who likely was saved as part of the deal -- again, emphasizing that Flynn presumably has ample significant information to hand over to Mueller. 

As they say, this is a marathon, not a race. It's why Trump has repeatedly wanted to shut down the investigation. The longer it drags on, the closer Mueller gets to the actual truth. And if Trump was not afraid about the actual truth coming out, then he would have no problem with Mueller's investigation. But he does have a problem with it, biggly.

Friday, November 24, 2017

But I thought he wasn't going to golf as much as Obama?

When it comes to the presidency, playing golf may seem like a trivial matter, but in this case it's just another example of how Trump worked the mother-of-all cons to slip into the White House.

All In with Chris Hayes recently aired a devastating extended video clip on this topic. After explaining how Trump has spent about 1/3 of his time in office at a Trump property, there is a collection of a video clips showing Trump on the campaign trail repeatedly dissing Obama for playing too much golf and how when Trump is president he would rarely, if ever, go golfing.

Fact: Trump is currently on pace to double the amount of golf Obama played. Double.

This from a loud-mouth gas bag who did not shut up about Obama playing golf, making it almost a central issue in his campaign. As shown in the video, Trump's criticism was relentless and incessant.

There is a growing laundry list of items making plain how Trump is the ultimate hypocrite. Draining the swamp (not), being a president for all (not), reduce presidential executive orders (not), investigate election fraud (not), to name a few. Oh, and play less golf than Obama (not).

If there's one thing in which Trump is truly a master, it's conning people. Trump supporters are not so much "deplorables" as they are "gullibles."

More evidence the GOP tax bill is a big con job

The GOP tax plan got a triple whammy of brutal reviews

The tax bill will:
  1. Raise taxes on the majority of taxpayers.
  2. Not significantly boost economic growth.
  3. Substantially increase the federal deficit.
Yet Paul Ryan and his cast of merry minions would have us believe quite the opposite. 

It's not just Trump who can work the big con, Republicans have been pulling this three-card Monte crap for many years. In fact, Trump is the logical leader of the GOP. Together they hoist flimflam on a daily basis, deceiving and outright lying to the public. And for the most part, getting away with it.