Friday, September 29, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Trump Lies Again, His Tax Cut Proposal Will Save Him and His Family Billions (Yes, Billions)

UPDATE IV: "President Trump and congressional Republicans keep saying their tax plan doesn't help the rich. But that's not true. . .

In fact, in nine pages, The Washington Post counts at least nine ways the wealthy benefit, including Trump himself. Here's our list:

1) A straight-up tax cut for the rich. . .

2) The estate tax goes bye-bye. . .

3) Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. . .

4) The AMT is over. . .

5) The wealthy get to keep deducting mortgage interest. . .

6) Stockholders are going to be very happy. . .

7) The favorite tax break of hedge fund billionaires is still safe. . .

8) Capital gains taxes stay low. . .

9) The Obamacare investment tax goes away. . .

When reporters asked Trump whether the tax plan would help him personally, he quickly said no. . .

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), who was part of the team that worked with the White House to craft the tax-overhaul outline, was asked a similar question on Fox News. He, too, said this plan does little to help the rich.

'I think those who benefit most are middle-class families struggling to keep every dollar they earn,' Brady told Fox News.

But one look at this plan tells a very different story. It gives an outright tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and it preserves almost all of the most popular loopholes they use to reduce their tax bills.

Read the Washington Post, 9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself.

Read also The New York Times, Trump Could Save More Than $1 Billion Under His New Tax Plan, which give specific examples where The Donald benefits.

UPDATE III:  "In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting."

Read the Washington Post, Trump aides sell tax plan with Pinocchio-laden claims, which show that the wealthy do get a big tax cut and the plan will add trillions to the federal deficit (the exact amount can be determined without the plan details which conveniently have not been released).
UPDATE II:  "The tax plan that the Trump administration outlined on Wednesday is a potentially huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It would not directly benefit the bottom third of the population. As for the middle class, the benefits appear to be modest.

The administration and its congressional allies are proposing to sharply reduce taxation of business income, primarily benefiting the small share of the population that owns the vast majority of corporate equity. President Trump said on Wednesday that the cuts would increase investment and spur growth, creating broader prosperity. But experts say the upside is limited, not least because the economy is already expanding.

The plan would also benefit Mr. Trump and other affluent Americans by eliminating the estate tax, which affects just a few thousand uber-wealthy families each year, and the alternative minimum tax, a safety net designed to prevent tax avoidance.

The precise impact on Mr. Trump cannot be ascertained because the president refuses to release his tax returns, but the few snippets of returns that have become public show one thing clearly: The alternative minimum tax has been unkind to Mr. Trump. In 2005, it forced him to pay $31 million in additional taxes.

Mr. Trump has also pledged repeatedly that the plan would reduce the taxes paid by middle-class families, but he has not provided enough details to evaluate that claim. While some households would probably get tax cuts, others could end up paying more.

The plan would not benefit lower-income households that do not pay federal income taxes. The president is not proposing measures like a reduction in payroll taxes, which are paid by a much larger share of workers, nor an increase in the earned-income tax credit, which would expand wage support for the working poor.

Indeed, to call the plan 'tax reform' seems like a stretch — Mr. Trump himself told conservative and evangelical leaders on Monday that it was more apt to refer to his plan as “tax cuts.” Mr. Trump’s proposal echoes the large tax cuts that President Ronald Reagan, in 1981, and President George W. Bush, in 2001, passed in the first year of their terms, not the 1986 overhaul of the tax code that he often cites. Like his Republican predecessors, Mr. Trump says cutting taxes will increase economic growth."

Read The New York Times, Trump Tax Plan Benefits Wealthy, Including Trump.

UPDATE:  "President Trump made a living and gained fame by over-promising without having to deliver. At times his flim-flam routine was exposed, as in the case of his bankrupt casino and Trump University scam. Unfortunately, having developed habits over 70 years and lacking a grasp of policy, Trump finds it impossible to curtail his rhetoric to meet his policy proposals. Moreover, he seems not to care since his presidency really is about the NFL, anti-immigrant hysteria, white grievance and other topics designed not to prepare for solutions but to keep the pot boiling.

So it is with tax reform. Trump and his advisers at various times have promised not to give the rich any tax cut, to attack the deficit/debt and to bolster the middle class. His tax plan bears no resemblance to that message, as Democrats were eager to point out on Wednesday. . .

As for fiscal responsibility, the proposal is an outrage. . .

Unsurprising for a party and president allergic to sound policy and economic reality, Republicans seem determined to snow their donors (See what we’ve come up with!), hand liberals a political gift and infuriate the lonely fiscal conservatives out there who recognize the added debt outweighs any benefit from the temporary growth bubble one could expect to derive from this scheme."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s spin doesn’t match his tax plan.

"President Trump’s speech on the administration’s still-somewhat-vague tax plan, delivered in Indianapolis on Sept. 27, was filled with many of his favorite, inaccurate claims. For instance, he repeatedly says he is offering the “largest tax cut in our country’s history,” a dubious claim when properly measured as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product.  Here’s a sampling of other inaccurate claims — and one case in which he appears to have adjusted his language because of our previous fact checks.

    'To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax.'

The president’s suggestion that “millions” of small businesses and farms are affected by the estate tax is absurd. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, only about 5,500 estates in 2017 — out of nearly 3 million estates — would have to pay any taxes. About half of estates subject to the tax would pay an average tax of about 9 percent. That’s because for a married couple, about $11 million is exempt from taxation.

Only 80 — that’s right, 80 — of taxable estates would be farms and small businesses.

That’s a big change from the past. In 1977, 139,000 estates had to pay the tax. In 2000, it was 52,000. But Congress has kept raising the exemption and lowering the tax rate. So for virtually all Americans, even farms and small businesses, the estate tax is just not a problem. . .

[The Donald also said:]

    'I’m doing the right thing and it’s not good for me, believe me. … We are also repealing the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.'

Trump’s claim that he would not benefit from the tax plan is not credible. Of course, he’s not released his tax returns so it is difficult to know for sure. But he’s certainly subject to the AMT — and the one recent tax return that has been leaked, from 2005, shows that the AMT increased his tax bill from about $5.3 million to $36.5 million. So at least in that tax year, he potentially could have saved $31 million.

Eliminating the estate tax, meanwhile, is likely to benefit his heirs."

Read the Washington Post, Fact-checking President Trump’s tax speech in Indianapolis.

FYI: After deducting the exemption of $5.49 million, almost $11 million if you are married, the estate tax is 40%.

The Donald claims his net worth is "in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS."

So his tax cut proposal will save him and his family more than $4 billion.

Trump's Big CON: Too Busy Whipping Them Into a Frenzy to Care

UPDATE II:  "The Jones Act has been an albatross around the Puerto Rican economy for decades, costing the island an estimated $1.7 billion in lost commerce every year since 1990. It was a contributing factor to the commonwealth’s fiscal crisis last year.

During times of emergency, the Department of Homeland Security can suspend Jones Act requirements. DHS did that very thing after Harvey hit Texas and Irma hit Florida. Unsurprisingly, many members of Congress have requested the same for Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria.

Reuters reports that DHS isn’t having it".

Read the Washington Post, The one act of deregulation the Trump administration will not take.
UPDATE: Who should have won the 2016 election?

Read the Washington Post, Clinton pressed Trump to deploy hospital ship Comfort to Puerto Rico. Now it’s preparing to go.

The Donald is too buzy whipping them into a frenzy (as former House Speaker John Boehner said) over his perceived critics to care, especially about people who refused to vote for him.

Read the Washington Post, The sad suspicion about Trump’s shameful treatment of Puerto Rico.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Military Parade Edition

UPDATE:  Here is a description of the event in July:

"For two hours [on a July 14] morning, President Trump looked happy.

He was the honored guest at Paris’s Bastille Day military parade and had a prime seat that gave him a view straight down Avenue des Champs-Elysees and a first glimpse at the tanks, armored vehicles, gun trucks, carriers and troops in historical uniforms headed his way.

He eagerly leaned forward as he took in the spectacle, frequently jostling his wife or French President Emmanuel Macron when he saw something that particularly delighted him. Whenever troops were before him, Trump jumped to his feet and applauded with an enthusiasm that exceeded the response of those around him. . .

The parade is an annual tradition that dates back to 1880, and this year it included a tribute to the centennial anniversary of the United States entering World War I. The parade featured U.S. and French flags, 200 American troops marching in uniforms from 1917 and eight U.S. Air Force planes. . .

Trump has long been delighted by grand displays of military strength, and he has filled his Cabinet with numerous military leaders, although he was disappointed that they could not wear their military uniforms to their new civilian jobs in the administration. Trump wanted to have heavy military equipment and troops at his inauguration parade in January, but that idea was blocked for logistical reasons.

When Macron invited Trump to the parade in a June 27 phone call, the president promised to be there — forcing his staff to quickly scramble to plan a last-minute trip.

The two-hour parade featured one spectacle after another, a demonstration of France’s military history and current capabilities. The parade began with dozens of soldiers on horseback riding along the cobblestone avenue that runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the viewing station where Trump sat. Macron arrived in a military jeep that he rode as if it were a chariot.

At least three military bands took turns playing a parade soundtrack, and massive screens showed an action-movie-style video that explained the significance of the equipment on display, from vintage tanks that slowly and noisily charged down the avenue to a sleek new armored vehicle from which a handful of troops emerged to act out a mission.

There was then a roar in the sky as nine fighter jets flew overhead, leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke — representing the French tricolor flag. Dozens of other planes followed. The video screens played footage taken from on board as well as wide shots showing the jets flying over iconic Paris sites.

Trump watched the show in awe, as did [an] 8-year-old . . .

After the air show came the hundreds of troops in vintage uniforms, starting with 200 marchers wearing U.S. uniforms from World War I. Suddenly, the sky filled with helicopters. Afterward, police on motorcycles came speeding down the avenue, followed by a seemingly never-ending stream of heavy military equipment, small jeeps, armored vehicles of all sizes, tanks, flatbed trucks hauling bulldozers and even more tanks. It felt like the grand finale of a fireworks show, as military equipment continued to appear.

There were red emergency response vehicles and a brass band riding horses as they played."

Read the Washington Post, Trump revels in French military pomp far from White House turmoil.

"President Trump's trip to France for the country's Bastille Day parade in July left a big impression. So big, in fact, that he wants to replicate the experience back home.

As Trump met Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron, the commander in chief gushed about seeing France's military might on display in the streets of Paris during his visit. And he told reporters he is looking into the possibility of having a parade down the streets of Washington on Independence Day to show the United States' 'military strength.'

'I was your guest at Bastille Day, and it was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen,' Trump told Macron, who sat next to him. 'It was two hours on the button, and it was military might and, I think, a tremendous thing for France and the spirit of France.'

'To a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July Fourth in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue,' Trump said.

The comments prompted laughter from Macron and other officials sitting around them. The leaders were meeting in New York ahead of the United Nations General Assembly. But it wasn't the first time Trump has talked about wanting a military parade in the streets of Washington.

Before the inauguration, Trump officials inquired with the Pentagon about having armored vehicles participate in his inauguration parade, according to documents obtained by HuffPost. And he told The Washington Post in January that he hoped that during his tenure, U.S. military might would be on display.

'Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,' Trump said in the January interview. 'And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.'

'That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,' he added."

Read the Washington Post, Trump says he wants a massive military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on July 4.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Won't Be Draining the Swamp, Quite the CONtrary (CONt., Part 3)

UPDATE:  "There truly has been a change in Washington in this new administration. It used to be that there were people in government who acted ethically, and people who professed to care about ethics and conflicts of interest but found ways to work around the rules. In the Trump administration, they’ve pretty much stopped pretending that ethics are something anyone should care about.

Two months ago, Walter Shaub resigned his position as head of the Office of Government Ethics, saying the Trump administration had made such a mockery of ethics rules that it was harming the ability of the United States to fight corruption around the world. . .

Anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex understood that when Donald Trump promised to 'drain the swamp' in Washington, he was completely full of it. What may not have been as obvious was the way he would usher in a new era of corruption.

It starts from the top. The president himself hired his family members; continues to profit from a hotel near the White House where foreign dignitaries and political cronies know they can line his pockets by booking overpriced rooms and meeting spaces; charges the Secret Service to rent golf carts to get around on his frequent trips to his golf resorts; passes out ethics waivers like candy so that lobbyists can move into the administration and 'oversee' the industries that paid them in the past and will no doubt do so in the future; and of course refuses to release the tax returns that would enable the public to see how he’s profiting from the presidency.

Whenever questions are raised about any of this, we’re assured that it’s all on the level, and before you know it everyone has moved on. Over time, the result is that none of us expect anything different. Of course Trump will use the presidency to enrich himself and his family members. Of course he’ll hire people whose government “service” is for the sole purpose of enriching the industries from which they hail. Of course those who work for him will see public resources as theirs to do with what they will. That’s just how things work now.

Which raises a disturbing question: When Trump leaves the White House, will he have so degraded every ethical rule and norm that future administrations will feel no need to exceed his debauched standards?"

Read the Washington Post, Will Trump’s corruption continue damaging the country after he’s gone?

While some charitable groups have canceled events at Trump owned properties, political organizations and industry groups have filled the void.

“Trump-owned hotels and clubs have long made money by holding galas and other special events. Now, their clientele is changing. Trump’s properties are attracting new customers who want something from him or his government. . .

To assess the state of Trump’s hospitality business, The Washington Post reviewed public records, data released by the Trump Organization and social-media postings from Trump properties. The Post identified a sample of more than 200 groups that had rented out meeting rooms or golf courses at a Trump property since 2014.

Of those groups, 85 are no longer Trump customers. Many said they left for nonpolitical reasons. But 30 told The Post that they had left because of Trump’s political career. . .

The Post’s review could not determine if the Trump Organization’s special-event business is growing or shrinking overall.

But it did show, clearly, that one part of that business is thriving. The business of political events.

For instance, in the 2014 election cycle, before Trump jumped into the presidential race, nine federal Republican candidates and committees reported patronizing Trump-owned properties.

Altogether, these groups spent $32,499 over two years, less than Trump’s clubs could take in from a single run-of-the-mill golf tournament.

This year, the figures are different.

At least 27 federal political committees — including Trump’s reelection campaign — have flocked to his properties. They’ve spent $363,701 in just seven months, according to campaign-finance reports. In addition, the Republican Governors Association paid more than $408,000 to hold an event this spring at the Trump National Doral golf resort, according to tax filings, a gathering the group said was booked back in February 2015.

At Trump’s D.C. hotel, there have also been a slew of events involving groups that have come to Washington to influence policy decisions.

Just last week, the hotel hosted the prime minister of Malaysia, who is the subject of a Justice Department corruption probe, as well as the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, which wants more offshore drilling. The hotel was also scheduled to host an association of candy-makers, who want federal help in a long-running feud with the sugar industry.

In July, a trade group representing e-cigarette makers and vape shop owners brought about 150 people to the hotel. They paid $285 per guest room. They also paid to rent a ballroom, and reserve the hotel’s Lincoln Library, though the vapers wouldn’t say how much they cost.

Ten days after the group checked out, it scored a victory.

An Obama-era regulation requiring stricter government oversight of e-cigarette products was put on hold by the Food and Drug Administration. . .

Rentals from groups such as these helped Trump’s D.C. hotel surpass its own revenue expectations.

Through the first four months of the year, the hotel turned a profit of $1.97 million, according to documents reported by The Post last month. Before the election, the company had projected it would lose $2.1 million in the same period, the documents show. The revenue from food and beverage sales — which includes special events — was part of that surprising performance. It came in 37 percent above expectations.

Trump’s politics was a draw for [Steven M. ] Alembik, the conservative Israel backer who decided recently to hold an event at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s oceanfront club in Palm Beach.

Alembik said he will charge $600 per ticket. He expects 700 guests. That’s $420,000. In theory, Alembik said, any leftover proceeds will go to an Israeli charity called The Truth About Israel.

But, Alembik said, Trump’s club will probably keep most of the money. He said he’d recently seen an estimate of the costs. He declined to say what the number was, but said: 'My God, they’re expensive. Holy crap.' . .

At Trump Doral, a golf club and resort outside Miami, The Post identified 18 business conferences or golf tournaments scheduled to be held at the property from mid-September through next May.

Many are sponsored by industry groups such as the Food Marketing Institute, which is hosting a conference for 1,000 food retailers and suppliers there in January. The group signed a contract to book the Doral back in April 2015, according to a spokeswoman.

A major defense contractor, L3 Technologies, just announced that it would hold its annual management meeting at the resort. A spokeswoman said the company chose Doral for a variety of logistical reasons unrelated to politics.

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s divisive presidency reshapes a key part of his private business.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Iran Edition

"President Trump knows that the deal negotiated between the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Iran to restrain Iran’s nuclear program is just terrible. As he said at the United Nations on Tuesday, 'The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.'

Now he says he has made a decision on whether to pull out of the deal, but he won’t tell us what it is. After all, you always want to leave the audience eager to tune in for next week’s episode.

But ask yourself this: What exactly is it that Trump thinks is so bad about the agreement? Does he even know?

There’s no evidence that he does. . .

At this point, we’ve stopped expecting that the president himself will have anything resembling well-thought-out reasons for the actions he takes, even those with potentially catastrophic consequences. But what about the less ignorant people who work for him? What do they have to say?

The critical context here is that all of Trump’s key advisers seem to disagree with him on the wisdom of abandoning the agreement [including Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff].

So what we have is a group of serious, informed national security aides practically begging their unserious, ignorant boss not to do something spectacularly stupid, a herculean effort that only succeeds temporarily. It’s important to remember that according to the International Atomic Energy Agency and virtually every informed observer, Iran is in fact complying with the agreement. It’s working. . .

We all know the real reason Trump wants to walk away from the nuclear accord. It isn’t because Iran is violating the terms, because it isn’t. It isn’t because the terms were terribly unfair to the United States, because they weren’t. It isn’t because Iran is doing things outside the agreement that we don’t like, because those actions exist outside the agreement. It’s because Trump is a petulant man-baby who believes that anything that has Barack Obama’s name on it has to be destroyed, no matter the consequences."

Read the Washington Post, Does Trump even know what he hates about the Iran nuclear deal?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Trumps' Big CON: Even If He Is Not Racist, Trump Uses Racism, CONt. Part 3

UPDATE III:  "President Trump has spent the past few days excoriating NFL players for 'disrespecting' our country, our troops and the American flag. But not once, in his Friday night 'get that son of a b—- off the field' speech, or his tweets questioning the patriotism of Colin Kaepernick and other pro athletes for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, has the president addressed the fact that as a candidate, he explicitly promised African American voters that under his administration, 'the law will be applied fairly, equally and without prejudice.'

Which is pretty much all that Kaepernick’s protest is about. . .

[During his campaign, Trump] made a series of explicit appeals to the black electorate, including his October “new deal for black America” speech in Charlotte, where he said:

    'I have heard and listened to the concerns raised by African American citizens about our justice system, and I promise that under a Trump administration the law will be applied fairly, equally and without prejudice. There will be only one set of rules — not a two-tiered system of justice.'

That is, exactly, the top-line demand of Kaepernick and, for that matter, Black Lives Matter. . .

To question the patriotism of athletes protesting to demand, in effect, that “the law will be applied fairly, equally and without prejudice” — the president’s own words — underscores just how hollow those words were.

Read the Washington Post, Trump promised black voters equal justice. That’s all Kaepernick wants.

UPDATE II:  This year Yom Kippur, with its "central themes are atonement and repentance" begins Friday, September 29 at sunset.

"In worship on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and in contemplation during the surrounding days, Jews are expected to engage in heshbon ha-nefesh — taking stock of one’s soul. And atonement for sin is to be achieved through prayer, charitable giving and, most of all, the repentance called tshuva.

These concepts, of course, inform many other major religions. Islam asks its faithful to practice tawbah, meaning repentance or regret. Catholicism calls on its believers to regularly enter the confessional booth in the sacrament of reconciliation. In the secular world, South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission operated under the twin precepts of forgiveness and repentance.

As I mark the High Holy Days for the 61st time in my life, I recall one act of tshuva as the most profound. Far from being explicitly Jewish, it involved a Christian politician and a particular church. And it is certainly the most relevant to this moment in U.S. history.

On a Sunday morning in 1979, an unexpected guest rolled his wheelchair up the aisle of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. During the city’s 1956 bus boycott, the catalyst for the modern civil rights movement, this pulpit had belonged to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The man in the wheelchair had been King’s nemesis, the former governor and arch-segregationist George Wallace.

Other than an aide to help Wallace navigate the church sanctuary, a surprisingly small place for such a historical one, he brought no retainers and no reporters. Wallace’s pilgrimage was not a media event but the imperative of a troubled soul.

Nobody in Dexter Avenue’s pews that morning needed any reminder of Wallace’s deeds. A racial moderate early in his political career, he had remade himself into a flaming bigot to win the statehouse. In his inauguration speech in 1963, he infamously declared, 'Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.' He made divisive political theater out of confronting Kennedy administration officials trying to desegregate the University of Alabama. Perhaps most notoriously of all, Wallace deployed the state troopers who brutally beat the nonviolent freedom marchers in Selma on 'Bloody Sunday' of March 7, 1965.

Seven years later, running for president with the same demagogic style, Wallace fell victim to the turbulent times he helped to stir up. A would-be assassin shot him during a rally in Maryland, and Wallace was paralyzed and condemned to incessant pain.

Just as Judaic theology holds that self-affliction is the essential precursor to repentance — the reason Jews do not eat, drink, bathe or have sex on Yom Kippur — so Wallace was afflicted.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had been beaten unconscious on Bloody Sunday, wrote in a New York Times op-ed soon after [George] Wallace’s death in 1998: 'I had to forgive him, because to do otherwise — to hate him — would only perpetuate the evil system we sought to destroy. George Wallace should be remembered for his capacity to change. And we are better as a nation because of our capacity to forgive and to acknowledge that our political leaders are human and largely a reflection of the social currents in the river of history.'

Now, a generation later, there is no need to reiterate all the well-known and widely reported examples of our present political leaders stirring the cauldron of hatred for electoral advance. Nor is it necessary to call the names of those courtiers who have stood idly by amid the bigotry or made known their private misgivings only through self-serving leaks.

As Wallace recognized in his process of heshbon ha-nefesh, the past can never be changed or undone. A flawed human in search of a spark of morality can answer for it only with humbled, pained, hard-earned tshuva and with compassionate acts beyond the day of atonement. One of my personal prayers in these Days of Awe will be to live long enough to hear such repentance and witness such acts from the arsonists of our national conflagration."

Read the Washington Post, What today’s leaders should learn from George Wallace.

Which made me wonder, will The Donald ever atone and repent?

UPDATE:  "It is often difficult to determine if President Trump’s offenses against national unity and presidential dignity are motivated by ignorance or malice. His current crusade against sideline activism at professional football games features both.

[T]he end of slavery was hardly the end of oppression. We are a country where the reimposition of white supremacy following the Civil War involved not just segregation but also widespread violence. A country in which mass incarceration and heavy-handed police tactics now create a sense that some neighborhoods are occupied by a foreign force. A country in which wealth and opportunity remain, in significant part, segregated by race.

If white Americans can’t feel even a hint of this alienation and outrage, it is a fundamental failure of empathy and historical memory.

Trump seems ignorant of, or indifferent to, the unfolding drama of the civil rights movement — of President Abraham Lincoln’s firm hand signing the Emancipation Proclamation, of African American military heroism in defending the Union, of the stubborn courage displayed by protesters in the front of buses and at segregated lunch counters, of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, repeated in many bloody versions. When the president looks at protesters, he cannot see what they are trying to be.

This ignorance is matched by malice. Trump must know that rallying his white base against young African American protesters is feeding racial tension and providing permission for bigotry. He is essentially accusing these athletes of disloyalty, just as he accused Mexicans of being rapists and Muslims of being threats. This is a pattern and habit of division by race, ethnicity and religion.

Stop and consider. This is a sobering historical moment. America has a racial demagogue as president. We play hail to this chief. We stand when he enters the room. We continue to honor an office he so often dishonors. It is appropriate but increasingly difficult.

In this case, demagoguery is likely to be effective, in part because protesters have chosen their method poorly. The American flag is not the racist symbol of a racist country. It is the symbol of a country with ideals far superior to its practice.  . .

The president’s agenda of division is fully exposed. Faith in the Declaration, and in the genius of American institutions, remains the proper response. Under the flag that symbolizes them both." [Emphassis added.]

Read the Washington Post, America has a racial demagogue for a president.

"President Trump’s race-baiting attack on African American athletes is nothing new. During the civil rights movement, blacks in the South who dared to stand up for justice were often punished by being fired from their jobs. Trump is demanding that National Football League team owners act like the white segregationists of old.

It was gratifying to see the overwhelming rejection of Trump’s hideous rabble-rousing by NFL players, owners and fans. But let’s be clear: There is no reason, at this point, to give Trump the benefit of any doubt. We should assume Trump’s words and actions reflect what he truly believes. . .

Trump claimed in a Monday tweet that “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race,” but that is a lie. Kaepernick’s method of protest had everything to do with race, as its intent was to focus attention on racial injustice.

Trump was speaking to a virtually all-white audience in the Deep South. About 70 percent of players in the NFL are African American. Some political analysts put two and two together and concluded that Trump was playing to the racial anxieties and animosities of his base. . .

Trump’s intent, I assume, was to create a wedge issue, with patriots on one side — his side — and non-patriots on the other. He did not realize that so many people who might dispute Kaepernick’s position on police violence would nevertheless defend the players’ right to take a stand, or a knee. We have a president who does not understand our fundamental freedoms.

We also have a president who, if he’s not a white supremacist, does a convincing impression of one. . .

[R]ecall that Trump and his father were sued by President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department for illegally refusing to rent apartments to black prospective tenants. Recall that Trump continued to insist that the 'Central Park Five' — four black men and one Latino — were guilty of a brutal rape even after DNA evidence had conclusively proved their innocence. Recall that Trump led the 'birther' movement, ridiculously claiming that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Recall Trump’s campaign appeal to black voters: 'You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?'

And recall his reaction to Charlottesville, where he discerned some 'very fine people' among the torch-wielding parade of Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis.

I don’t believe this can all be political calculation. I believe Trump is telling us what he really thinks — and who he really is."

Read the Washington Post, If Trump’s not a white supremacist, he does a good impression.

Trump's Big CON: He is the Dupable President

Another MUST READ: the Washington Post, Stephen K. Bannon’s remarkable admission: President Trump is easily duped, which states in full:

"The information that President Trump sees has been a major subplot of the White House's internal drama. Aides often privately describe the president as highly susceptible to acting upon the last piece of information he's seen — no matter how dubious. And controlling that flow of information is a big part of new White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly's effort to right the ship and keep the Oval Office on-task.

But rarely do you see someone close to the president just come out and admit how unsophisticated he is as a consumer of information.

That's what Stephen K. Bannon did Monday night, though not quite in so many words. While chatting with Fox News's Sean Hannity, the former White House chief strategist suggested that Trump was essentially duped into supporting appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in Tuesday's Alabama special-election runoff. And it wasn't really all that subtle.

Bannon, who along with Breitbart and some other Trump stalwarts, has endorsed former state Supreme Court justice Roy Moore against Strange, told Hannity that there needs to be a 'real … review' of how Trump came to the decision to endorse Strange.

'They tried to destroy Donald Trump; the same gang that is going after Roy Moore is the same gang that went after Donald Trump,' Bannon said. 'And I have to tell you, I think at some time later after [Tuesday], a real, you know, review has to be done of how President Trump got the wrong information and came down on the wrong side of the football here.'

Bannon's reasons for saying this are pretty apparent. Among them:

    He is signaling to potential Moore supporters that Strange really isn't Trump's kind of candidate and that they should feel good about voting for Moore.

    He is trying to give Trump an out after the special election — which Moore is favored to win — by suggesting that Moore was really the more Trumpian candidate all along.

    He is perhaps settling old White House scores by arguing that those around Trump don't have his interests at heart. (Bannon was one of those sources of information Kelly has sought to clamp down on.)

But making that argument — that Trump was duped — also means arguing that he is capable of being duped, and apparently rather easily in this case. Inherent in Bannon's argument is the idea that Trump either isn't discerning enough to make that endorsement decision for himself, or at least that he doesn't do enough homework.

Bannon is basically confirming everything aides have said privately about how unsophisticated Trump is in consuming information. This is the president of the United States, and Bannon is talking about him as if he's still a total political novice — a weather vane, even.

That's a pretty stunning admission coming from one of the people who has worked closest with Trump."

Trump's Big CON: The American Taliban Senator?

UPDATE VI: Someone isn't happy, again.

Read CNN, Trump infuriated after backing Alabama loser.

UPDATE V:  "President Trump wants to talk about the NFL because other than that, there’s virtually no topic he can address without reminding his followers of the most dreadful week of his presidency. On Tuesday, Trump-backed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) lost the GOP Senate primary to a full-blown birther crackpot, former judge Roy Moore, who has been removed from the bench twice for disregarding the law. Moore was backed by fired Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon. The race was a runaway, suggesting that neither Trump’s (or Vice President Mike Pence’s) presence nor gobs of money can prop up normal Republicans in the maelstrom unleashed by the Trumpkins. The GOP is being entirely subsumed to the nationalist/nativist/protectionist shock troops whom Trump and Bannon have unleashed.

The party that once defended the rule of law now defends those who defy court rulings (Moore and Joe Arpaio, for example). You’ll likely see a slew of Bannon-backed GOP primary challengers who will dislodge or bruise Senate and House GOP incumbents. One can now envision circumstances in which the Democrats win majorities in both houses. Even if the Senate remains nominally in GOP hands, it seems that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s days as leader are numbered.

That was only the tip of an iceberg threatening to sink Trump’s presidency. . .

Perhaps a new center-right party can emerge. Maybe such a group can find common cause with center-left Democrats if their party goes over the edge as well. Increasingly, however, it seems hard to imagine that the GOP will rid itself anytime soon of Trump and the stench of Trumpism. More likely, Trump will rid himself of the GOP as we have known it, leaving the party of Lincoln in ruins."

Read the Washington Post, The worst day of the worst week for the GOP.

UPDATE IV:  "Roy Moore, the new GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama, defied a court order directing him to remove a tablet bearing the Ten Commandments from a state court building. He has said homosexuality is a 'crime against nature' that defies the laws 'of nature’s God' upon which (he claims) our nation is based, meaning homosexuality is illegal. He has opined that the 9/11 attacks might have represented punishment from God, adding that this wrath may be retribution for our legitimization of abortion and 'sodomy.' He appears to have described Asians as 'yellows' and Native Americans as 'reds.'

President Trump enthusiastically endorsed Roy Moore this morning, describing him as a 'great guy'."

Read the Washington Post, Trump just endorsed a lawless bigot in Alabama. Here’s how Democrats will run against him.

UPDATE III:  Read the Washington Post, Roy Moore’s win is bad for Alabama, and even worse for the GOP, written by “a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses”, who wrote:

"As a proud Alabaman, I’m walking today with my shoulders slumped. Roy Moore is the Republican nominee to be the next U.S. senator from my state, and he is likely to be elected in December. Moore is bad for Alabama and worse for the GOP.

To liberals, having Moore in the Senate will be the gift that keeps on giving. He will be the mainstream media’s favorite Republican senator. They will count on Moore to embody every negative stereotype that a conservative from Alabama and an elected Republican can have. And based on what we know about Moore, he is unlikely to disappoint. Liberals couldn’t be happier. Finally, there is a truly anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Muslim, anti-everything elected Republican for all the world to see.

Beyond believing that he is divinely guided, Moore doesn’t really have a governing point of view. At least not one that is applicable to this century. To suggest that Moore represents something Trumpian only confirms the worst things said about the president. The idea that Moore sees the world the way some cantankerous Republicans such as Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) do is an insult to Cruz. And to those who say that Moore’s election is somehow good for President Trump, well, I wonder exactly what they think Trump might gain from the presence of an ill-informed, failed demagogue in the GOP Senate caucus. Alabama specifically and Republicans everywhere will suffer as a result of Moore’s presence in Washington."

My response: "[W]hatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Read also the Washington Post:

Moore wins Republican Senate primary, dealing blow to GOP establishment,

Luther who? Trump tweets backing the losing candidate in Alabama get deep-sixed,

Tuesday started as a bad day for Mitch McConnell. It only got worse.,

After Alabama, GOP anti-establishment wing declares all-out war in 2018,

Sen. Bob Corker’s retirement is notable for when it’s happening,

Roy Moore’s victory and Bob Corker’s retirement are fresh indicators of a Senate that’s coming apart, and

A short history of Roy Moore’s controversial interpretations of the Bible.

UPDATE II:  "The last few polls in the GOP Senate primary runoff show alt-right hero and ousted judge Roy Moore leading Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), whom Trump campaigned for and endorsed, by double digits. The RealClearPolitics poll average shows Moore leading by more than 10 percentage points.

A loss for Strange would be a stunning rebuke to the president and to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a sign that Trump has unleashed extreme, unhinged populist sentiments that not even he can contain.

While it remains unlikely that Democrats could win the seat in a general election, a Moore victory in and of itself would spell trouble for the GOP on multiple fronts."

Read the Washington Post, What happens if Roy Moore wins the Alabama runoff?

UPDATE:  "[W]hatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

And after years of fear, anger and hatred, there is Roy Moore.

"With the thunder and fire of an old-time revivalist, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore rose before the assembled souls at the Redemption Baptist Church, a front-runner in the polls days out from an election that could rattle the rickety structures of the Republican Party.

'You think that God’s not angry that this land is a moral slum?' asked Moore, 70, reciting a rhyming poem he had written years earlier during a 50-minute address before several dozen believers. 'How much longer will it be before his judgment comes?'

Republican primary voters across the country have been trying since 2010 to elect angry, outsider candidates who promise to disrupt the ways of Washington. But no one in recent history has promised to be quite as disruptive as Moore, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who has twice been removed from the bench for defying judicial orders.

And few have divided the GOP as Moore’s candidacy has, producing a momentous power struggle over an election that is likely to turn out less than 20 percent of Alabama’s Republican voters but could nonetheless set the tone for the coming 2018 election battles.

In August, Moore won the first round of primary voting with 39 percent of the vote, and then won the endorsement of the third-place finisher weeks later. Now, with the election just five days away, Moore leads public polling averages with a nine-point edge over Sen. Luther Strange, the man appointed to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions."

Read the Washington Post, Roy Moore disrupts Alabama Senate race — and prepares for new level of defiance in Washington.

Read also the Washington Post, ‘You’ve got to go’: How the GOP persuaded Trump to campaign in Alabama.

"Bomb-throwing Roy Moore is closing in on victory in the Alabama Senate race — and that's very bad news for the Senate GOP leader."

Read Politico, McConnell's mortal enemy might soon be in his caucus.

So, after whipping them into a frenzy for years (as former House Speaker John Boehner said), what goes around comes around! :)

Have the inmates taken over?  Today we find out!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trump's Big CON: A Man Without Principles Demands Allegiance to a Symbol and Not the Ideal

UPDATE V:  "The most fitting slogan for Donald Trump’s populist campaign, which continues nearly a year after the 2016 election ended, might be “us against them.” I don’t know Latin, but I do know that what we saw from the president this weekend is the opposite of e pluribus unum. He is the divider in chief.

Trump, who was a developer before he became a reality TV star and then a politician, has long been a builder of straw men. Everyone knows that he trades on controversy, but his chaotic approach to governing also depends on constantly presenting the American people with false binary choices.

Picking a fight with professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem, a controversy from last year that had mostly blown over, is just the latest example. . .

Trump talks about the world in black-and-white terms: You’re either with him or against him. He’s been around long enough to know that this is a time-honored form of civil disobedience, but he recognizes that his base hates such displays. So Trump is using the bully pulpit of the presidency to seize a political opening that might keep his core supporters from losing faith in his leadership.

He is also looking for distractions. Trump went all-in last week on the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill, which could fail this week. The candidate he endorsed in Alabama could go down in a GOP primary. Puerto Rico has been ravaged by a hurricane, and there are mounting questions about the federal response.

This is part of a pattern. Trump is still campaigning against Hillary Clinton as a foil because he wants conservatives to judge him against her, not on his own merits. He called her 'Crooked Hillary' during his Friday rally in Alabama. 'Lock her up,' the crowd chanted. He didn’t stop them. At this point, what difference does she make? . .

Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote 'The Art of the Deal' for Trump, identifies what he believes are deeper origins for the president’s divisive behavior: 'To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world,' Schwartz wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post this spring. 'It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it … This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. 'When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,' he told a recent biographer, 'I’m basically the same.' His development essentially ended in early childhood.”

Read the Washington Post, Why the divider in chief embraces culture wars.

UPDATE IV:  "They’re both Christian football players, and they’re both known for kneeling on the field, although for very different reasons.

One grew up the son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines. The other was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during college.

Both have made a public display of their faith. Both are prayerful and devout.

This is the tale of two Christian sports personalities, one of whom is the darling of the American church while the other is reviled. And their differences reveal much about the brand of Christianity preferred by many in the church today.. .

The bifurcation of contemporary Christianity into two distinct branches is leaving the church all the poorer, with each side needing to be enriched by the biblical vision of the other.

Biblical Christianity should be, as Walter Brueggemann expresses it, “awed to heaven, rooted in earth.” We should, as he says, be able to “join the angels in praise, and keep our feet in time and place.”

Sadly, with the suspicion and animosity shown toward each side of the divide by the other, I can’t see a coming together any time soon.

In the meantime, Christianity remains on its knees in the West."

Read the Washington Post, Colin Kaepernick vs. Tim Tebow: A tale of two Christians on their knees.

UPDATE III:  "IN 1943, with the nation mobilized for war against fascism, schoolchildren in West Virginia were required each morning to salute the American flag. The purpose, seemingly unexceptionable — and in fact not objected to by many — was 'teaching, fostering and perpetuating the ideals, principles and spirit of Americanism.'

However, to Jehovah’s Witnesses the flag was an 'image,' which, under their religious beliefs, their children were forbidden to salute. Students refused to do so and were expelled from school; parents were prosecuted; eventually, the case reached the Supreme Court.

There, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, Justice Robert Jackson wrote for a 6-to-3 majority that the state could not compel children to salute the flag. Reversing a court decision from just three years earlier, Jackson wrote, in the midst of war, what remains one of the enduring statements of confidence in what truly makes America great. 'To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine,' he wrote, 'is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.'

What brings this to mind, of course, is President Trump’s latest bilious eruption. The first inclination, when he starts calling people 'sons of b-----s' and waxing nostalgic for days when more concussions were inflicted for the entertainment of football fans, is to look away. It’s embarrassing, after all, to have to explain to the children that we have a president who speaks so rudely. It’s playing into the diversion he may seek when he finds himself flummoxed by Kim Jong Un or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). And shouldn’t we be worrying about more important things — health care, tax reform, the inundation of Puerto Rico, the dangers of nuclear war? . .

[W]hen the president uses his bully pulpit to declare some speech legitimate and some beyond the pale; when his response to protest is to question patriotism rather than engage on the issue of unequal policing — then it is Mr. Trump who 'disrespects our Flag & our Country.'

As Justice Jackson wrote three-quarters of a century ago, 'If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.'"

 Read the Washington Post, This is what the flag stands for, Mr. President.

UPDATE II:  "Despite President Trump's harsh words about NFL players protesting racism, there's one thing you aren't likely to hear him say: 'Stay in your lane.'

Trump respects — even invites — athletes to weigh in on political matters, as long as they are pro-Trump policies. During the 2016 election, Trump counted legendary boxing promoter Don King, storied former college basketball coach Bobby Knight and NASCAR chief executive Brian France among his supporters."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s problem isn’t with athletes being political. It’s with athletes speaking out against racism.

UPDATE: "Talking to reporters on the tarmac of a New Jersey airport as he left his golf club in Bedminster, President Trump insisted Sunday that his barrage of tweets about protests in the NFL were simply a defense of patriotism.

'This has nothing to do with race,' he said. 'I’ve never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.'

And, of course, race.

It’s somehow become trite to note the difference in Trump’s tone when criticizing the NFL protests, in which a number of players have chosen to sit or kneel during the national anthem, and his tone when discussing the protests in Charlottesville last month. But it’s still worth noting.

Trump was slow to condemn the white supremacists and overt Nazi sympathizers who crept from the shadows to defend a Confederate statue in Charlottesville. The president eventually offered a forceful condemnation, read from prepared remarks — that he then undercut the next day in a news conference by saying that “many fine people” had joined the racists and Nazis at that protest.

The NFL protests? Anyone engaging in them was a 'son of bitch' who should be fired, he said at a rally in Alabama. On Sunday, he retweeted a call for a boycott of the NFL, along with a number of other complaints. That the participants in the NFL protests happened to be black and that Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (whom Trump disinvited from the White House on Saturday) is, too, was cited as evidence that Trump was more aggravated at black protesters than white ones.

Whether that’s the case doesn’t really matter. What matters is the reason for those protests. They are one of the endpoints of a years-long racial divide that Trump leveraged explicitly as part of his 2016 campaign. . .

Trump’s entire campaign was about race, explicitly — whether he realizes it or not. So, too, was his fervent insistence about the NFL over the weekend. If he truly doesn’t realize that (which is certainly debatable), it shows a remarkable lack of awareness of the nuance that drives much of our politics at the moment."

Read the Washington Post, Of course Trump’s outrage at the NFL protests had to do with race.

A flag is just a symbol, a constitution gives substance to a country's principles.

So of course, a man without principles would worship a symbol while contemptuously rejecting the country's ideals.

Read the Washington Post:

In showings of protest and solidarity, NFL teams respond to Trump’s criticisms, and

The NFL beat Trump. Soundly., which noted:

"At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump shouted: ‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!' You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, 'That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.' And that owner . . .  they’ll be the most popular person in this country.’

It’s all part of his new agenda: To put the sports world — which happens to be full of rich athletes, many of whom are minorities, who have huge followings and aren’t afraid to live as independent thinkers — in its supposed place. How dare ESPN’s Jemele Hill call Trump a ‘white supremacist,’ even though he treated Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville with more fairness than Steph Curry? How dare Curry and the Golden State Warriors not jump at the chance to visit him at the White House? The invitation is withdrawn! And how dare these NFL court jesters have concerns about equality? Stand for the flag! And while we’re talking football, change the rules back and let them beat their brains out like they did during the good ol’ days!

What’s another player suffering from CTE and committing suicide mean to the current president? It’s as far down his list of priorities as the fears of the oppressed. It shouldn’t be shocking that Trump cares so little about NFL players. They’re just the latest on a long list of people he wishes would shut up and allow life to be shoved down their throat. . .

In many stadiums, fans booed players who took a knee and chanted for them to respect the flag. That was expected after Trump’s version of a pep talk Friday night. It is also within those fans’ First Amendment rights. Protesting during the anthem, with the flag on full display, is a complicated and infuriating gesture. But that’s the essence of a protest. If you meekly stand behind your concerns and follow every rule, no one will notice and care about your cause. Disobedience gets attention. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not like the athletes are fighting for more money. They want our country to stop moonwalking on equality. Bury the sentiment with your disgust, but that’s the origin of the disagreement. And it’s unlikely to end without an honest recognition of the issue. . .

Unity defined Sunday — not oversimplified tripe about unity, not an attempt to make everyone obey and seem unified — but true unity. The stadiums weren’t full of like-minded players or fans. Players didn’t stand for the same reasons; they didn’t kneel for the same reasons. Fans didn’t boo for the same reasons; they didn’t show support for the same reasons. But they came together, tens of thousands of people all over the place, and they made the points they needed to make. And hostility couldn’t measure up to how good it felt just to be heard.

Then the games started, and people rooted for their favorite colors, and a good sports meal wasn’t ruined because you had to eat your vegetables first. The NFL beat Trump. Soundly.

To twist the sports cliche du jour, perhaps Trump should stick to trying to run a country that barely resembles itself right now. The sports world will continue what it does best: embrace differences and manage conflict on a field of play."

The End of the World, Again, Cont., Again, Part 2 (It Never Ends! (Pun Intended!!))

 UPDATE: Who ever thought that after the Rapture I'd have to update this post ;)

"The man whose biblical doomsday claim had people worried about Sept. 23, 2017, is not backing down.

The world did not end over the weekend, and David Meade, a self-described 'specialist in research and investigations,' is saying that’s exactly what he had expected. Now, he is focusing on another date, Oct. 15, 2017, which he claims is the beginning of the world’s destruction.

It is 'the most important date of this century or millennium,' Meade wrote on his website. The action starts that day, he claimed, when the world will enter what’s called a seven-year tribulation period, a fairly widespread evangelical belief that for seven years, catastrophic events would wreak havoc on Earth.

'Hold on and watch — wait until the middle of October and I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed,' Meade wrote, before going on to promote his book, which he claims has all the details.

'You don’t have long to read it,' he added."

Read the Washington Post, The man who had people worried about a Sept. 23 apocalypse is peddling a new doomsday date.

Trump's a CON Man, but who cares!

"Unsealed, an evangelical Christian publication, foretells the Rapture in a viral, four-minute YouTube video, complete with special effects and ominous doomsday soundtrack. It’s called 'September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.'

Why Sept. 23, 2017?

Meade’s prediction is based largely on verses and numerical codes in the Bible. He has homed in one number: 33.

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

He points to the Book of Revelation, which he said describes the image that will appear in the sky on that day, when Nibiru is supposed to rear its ugly head, eventually bringing fire, storms and other types of destruction.

The book describes a woman 'clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head' who gives birth to a boy who will 'rule all the nations with an iron scepter' while she is threatened by a red seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

The belief, as previously described by Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, is that the constellation Virgo — representing the woman — will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo — in her womb, in Ray’s interpretation — will move out of Virgo, as though she is giving birth.

To make clear, Meade said he’s not saying the world will end Saturday. Instead, he claims, the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks."

Read the Washington Post, The world as we know it is about to end — again — if you believe this biblical doomsday claim., which notes that Hedgehog News published a "story with a headline that appears to give credence to the doomsday claim — and was published in the Science section under the label “Planets.”

Republi-cons are such suckers for snake oil salesmen.

Any question how The Donald got elected.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, North Korea Edition, CONt.

"For many of President Trump’s core supporters, his appeal has always been more about tone than substance.

Commentators often misunderstood his 2016 success by overly focusing on the specific policies he was proposing. To borrow one trite formulation, the media took Trump literally while voters took him seriously. Many Republicans who backed Trump in the primaries were willing to overlook his apostasies on the issues they theoretically cared about most, such as abortion or guns, because they liked his style. The brashness, bellicosity, swagger and machismo — whatever you want to call it — that made so many elder statesmen so uncomfortable was central to his success.

Many conservatives feel like the system — in Washington and the world — is broken. They don’t want leaders to prevaricate or speak the language of diplomacy. They want a streetfighter.

After a week of being angry at Trump for cutting deals with 'Chuck and Nancy,' that’s what a lot of these same people saw in Trump’s maiden speech yesterday to the United Nations General Assembly.

'Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,' the president said in the most memorable sound bite of the day. 'The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.'"

Read the Washington Post, Why conservatives loved Trump’s U.N. speech so much.

Read also Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, North Korea Edition.

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Qu'ils Mangent de la Brioche Edition, CONt. (AKA The Trump Populism CON, CONt.)

First Trump's Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin used, a government plane to fly to Fort Knox with his wife to see the solar eclipse. He also requested a government plane for the couple’s European honeymoon.

Now Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, is using tax payer money to fly by private, chartered jet, all while working hard to take away the health insurance of millions.

Read the Washington Post, How Tom Price decided chartered, private jets were a good use of taxpayer money.

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Trump Has No Principles, CONt.

UPDATE II:  So Trump has no principles, does it matter?  No!

"His base will stick with him no matter what — no matter how loudly and how often the other self-styled leaders of that base take to Twitter or talk radio or any other platform to bleat that Trump has betrayed them. . .

[For his supporters, i]t’s the personality that keeps them, not the policies.

And that Trump base is not going anywhere now. They are not Coulter’s book-buying base, they are not King’s Republican voting base and they will never be Bannon’s populist base. Trump’s base is Trump’s base, period, and there is nothing that Hannity, Breitbart or King will ever be able to do to change that fact. Trump fans stick with Trump through thick and thin. If you don’t believe me, just ask President Clinton."

Read the Washington Post, With Trump, it is never over.

UPDATE: "At 6:11 Thursday morning, President Trump tweeted that despite news reports to the contrary, he and Democratic congressional leaders had reached 'no deal' on protections for young undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

At 6:20 a.m., after a night of fretting by his supporters, he tweeted that the big, beautiful border wall he had long promised 'will continue to be built.'

Then, at 6:28 a.m., he tweeted a duo of missives outlining the very deal he claimed didn’t exist.

Confusion reigned.

The tweets underscore the sense of chaos the president brings to bear on just about everything he encounters — a Midas touch of low-grade uncertainty he seems to sow in others and exhibit himself while operating comfortably from within the maelstrom. . .

But even as Trump careens toward the sort of immigration deal that has eluded previous presidents — the latest capstone to a period of 10 days of sustained bipartisan overtures — the process exhibits certain Trumpian hallmarks: namely, a lack of clarity.

Often, Trump’s underlings, friends, foes and allies never know quite where he stands — in part because of the president’s penchant for telling his immediate audience exactly what they want to hear in any given moment. People who meet with the president frequently leave buoyed, an optimism punctured by a nagging question mere hours later: What just happened? . .

The immigration episode raised nearly as many questions as it answered. But for now, perhaps the most important one remains: Is a deal by any other name — like, say, 'no deal,' as the president described on Twitter — really a deal?"

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Democrats strike DACA deal. Yes? No? Sort of? Trump’s world can be confusing.

"President Trump prepared for the pivotal meeting with congressional leaders by huddling with his senior team — his chief of staff, his legislative director and the heads of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget — to game out various scenarios on how to fund the government, raise the debt ceiling and provide Hurricane Harvey relief.

But one option they never considered was the that one the president ultimately chose: cutting a deal with Democratic lawmakers, to the shock and ire of his own party.

In agreeing to tie Harvey aid to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and government funding, Trump burned the people who are ostensibly his allies. The president was an unpredictable — and, some would say, untrustworthy — negotiating partner with not only congressional Republicans but also with his Cabinet members and top aides. Trump saw a deal that he thought was good for him — and he seized it.

The move should come as no surprise to students of Trump’s long history of broken alliances and agreements. In business, his personal life, his campaign and now his presidency, Trump has sprung surprises on his allies with gusto. His dealings are frequently defined by freewheeling spontaneity, impulsive decisions and a desire to keep everyone guessing — especially those who assume they can control him.

He also repeatedly demonstrates that, while he demands absolute loyalty from others, he is ultimately loyal to no one but himself.

'It makes all of their normalizing and 'Trumpsplaining' look silly and hollow,' said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist sharply critical of Trump, referring to his party’s congressional leaders. 'Trump betrays everyone: wives, business associates, contractors, bankers and now, the leaders of the House and Senate in his own party. They can’t explain this away as [a] 15-dimensional Trump chess game. It’s a dishonest person behaving according to his long-established pattern.'"

Read the Washington Post, ‘Trump betrays everyone’: The president has a long record as an unpredictable ally.

Read also Trump's Big CON: Trump Has No Morality (or Principles).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He Loves Welfare, For Corporations (The Wisconsin Foxconn Jobs CON, CONt.)

UPDATE:  "Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil.

At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo. The government had high expectations that the project would yield 100,000 jobs.

Six years later, Brazil is still waiting for most of those jobs to materialize.

'The area where Foxconn said it would build a plant is totally abandoned,' said Guilherme Gazzola, the mayor of Itu, one of the cities that hoped to benefit from the project. 'They haven’t even expressed an interest in meeting us.' . .

Today, Foxconn employs only about 2,800 workers in Brazil.

Foxconn does the 'big song and dance, bringing out the Chinese dragon dancers, ribbon cuttings, toasts and signature of the usual boilerplate agreements,' said Alberto Moel, an investor and adviser to early-stage tech companies who until recently was a technology analyst at the research firm Sanford C. Bernstein. 'Then, when it gets down to brass tacks, something way smaller materializes.' . .

Foxconn’s plans also fizzled in Pennsylvania. In 2013, the company, which has a small office in Harrisburg, said it intended to build a $30 million factory in the state that could employ 500 workers. The plant has yet to be built. . .

After the election, Foxconn joined a parade of global companies bearing promises.

Jack Ma, the executive chairman of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba, arrived at Trump Tower in New York and pledged to create one million jobs in America. Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank of Japan, said his company would invest $50 billion in the United States. And at around the same time, Foxconn said it was planning to build production facilities in the United States."

Read The New York Times, Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come.

"President Donald Trump’s quest to open more factories and corporate headquarters in the U.S. scored a major win Thursday as Wisconsin lawmakers approved the biggest corporate subsidy package ever awarded to a foreign company.

But if Trump’s policies -- including his call to slash the corporate income-tax rate to 15 percent -- succeed in spurring more U.S. plant openings, the $3 billion in state aid that Wisconsin ponied up for Foxconn Technology Group may be only the beginning. Some analysts foresee a rush of new state-level subsidies and tax breaks as governors compete for any new facilities built by companies suddenly flush with newfound tax savings.

Call it tax reform in reverse".

Read Bloomberg, Trump’s Push for U.S. Jobs May Spur Boom in ‘Corporate Welfare’.

Read also Trump's Big CON: The Wisconsin Foxconn Jobs CON.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trumps' Big CON: Even If He Is Not Racist, Trump Uses Racism, CONt. Part 2

"In the first three months after Trump won the presidency, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded an astonishing 1,372 hate incidents, nearly all of them election-related. A deep dive into the data reveals that nearly half of these incidents involve people referencing Trump, either by name or by parroting his rhetoric: groups of white thugs intimidating minorities while chanting 'Trump,' for instance, or swastika graffiti accompanied by the words 'Make America White Again.' The cold, hard fact that racist thugs shout and chant Trump’s name (something we all saw happening in Charlottesville) while threatening and intimidating minorities should give us all pause — particularly the president himself.

This, really, is the crux of the problem the nation faces: not Trump’s fumblings and prevarications or his reflexive reliance on 'both sides do it' equivocation, but his steadfast refusal to acknowledge his overpowering role in the toxic violence that is being plotted and carried out on his behalf. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump played footsie with these groups, retweeting their hashtags and memes, refusing to disavow David Duke one day and then issuing an anodyne and plainly insincere disavowal the next.

At one point during the campaign, after news broke that white nationalists were placing robo-calls on Trump’s behalf, the media eventually elicited a perfunctory disavowal from him, but he also rationalized them: 'People are angry, they’re angry at what’s going on. They’re angry at the border, they’re angry at the crime.'

His alt-right fan base invariably interpreted these remarks in the most generous light: 'If he disavowed us, he did it, I thought, in the nicest possible way,' white nationalist Jared Taylor said after the flap over the robo-calls.

Most of all, the radical right uniformly expressed the view that Trump was advancing its agenda. 'The success of the Trump campaign just proves that our views resonate with millions,' Rachel Pendergraft, leader of the KKK-based Knights Party, told me. 'They may not be ready for the Ku Klux Klan yet, but as anti-white hatred escalates, they will.'

If Trump really were a normal politician, he would not want his name associated with these kinds of ideologies, nor the hateful acts their followers engage in. A man of presidential dignity and decency would make clear, irrevocably, that these hatemongers should consider him their enemy, not their 'glorious leader,' as some neo-Nazis are wont to call him.

Instead, Trump constantly stonewalled and equivocated, shifted blame to the victims of the violence and suggested that these acts were being faked by the left to make the right look bad. The pattern remained intact all the way through Charlottesville, when his initial response failed to call out the presence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. His alt-right fan base was correspondingly joyous: Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer responded on social media: 'He said he loves us all.' They were universally delighted by Trump’s later remarks defending the Charlottesville marchers. Duke thanked Trump for his 'honesty and courage.'

Even if Trump were to reverse course, wittingly or not, the president has empowered and unleashed an army of true believers over the course of the past year and a half. The alt-right is a profoundly anti-democratic movement, openly hostile to the institutions of voting and the underlying concepts of equality of opportunity. Its adherents are organized, numerous, angry and prone to violence. Its emergence on the political scene will be a major challenge in the years ahead for those of us who still believe in, value and cherish our democratic institutions.

And under Trump’s banner, they will not be going away anytime soon."

Read the Washington Post, White supremacists have been marching in President Trump’s name. Literally., which concludes:

"Disavowing hate groups won't work if they still see him as an inspiration."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Don't Blame Immigrants, Thank Them

Despite what The Donald would have you think, immigrants built this country.

The United States in the 19th century "was diverse, fed off immigration, was constantly changing, and was not really walled off from the world. Any suggestion otherwise is factually wrong."

Read NPR, FACT CHECK: Were The 1800s Steve Bannon's Kind Of America?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt. Part 2

UPDATE:  "Either Trump deceived GOP leaders, or they ignored the collusion."

Read The New Republic, What Did Republicans Know About the Russia Scandal? America Deserves an Answer.

Putin's Russia is "an international crime syndicate".

The Donald helped him by using Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money. 

And in return, Putin helped "propel a failed real estate developer into the White House."

Read The New Republic, Trump’s Russian Laundromat.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Republi-CONs Get Trump'ed

UPDATE V:  "Barely a few hours after Democrats announced that they had reached a tentative deal with President Trump on protecting the “dreamers,” Trump unleashed a steaming-hot morning tweetstorm that seemed to suggest that there was no deal at all.

But make no mistake: If you read between the lines, Trump’s tweets actually signal the clear outlines of a deal that would, in fact, protect hundreds of thousands of young people brought here illegally as children, on terms that might end up proving acceptable to all sides — with the crucial exception of a few very loud voices on the right, who may be able to derail any such deal, as will be argued below."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s latest tweetstorm signals major concessions may lie ahead.

UPDATE IV:  Meanwhile, The Donald is "basically defending a deal that he says hasn't been reached.

So this is basically an argument over the word 'deal.' (The Post, notably, is calling it an agreement 'to work on [a] deal,' which seems the best way to phrase it.) Democrats say they have reached an agreement with Trump; Trump and the White House were suggesting there is an agreement, but emphasizing that there is no 'deal' since it hasn't been finalized. Nobody really disagrees.

The White House's responses Thursday morning seem to be more an effort to cover their own hides with the base than anything else. Maybe the agreement will eventually fall apart when the particulars of the deal begin to be worked out, and Democrats balk at the amount of border security? Maybe the White House has gotten cold feet after the likes of Breitbart and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) have utterly denounced the deal? (The former is calling him 'AMNESTY DON.' The latter says such a deal would mean the 'Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair.')

But the indications we're getting from both sides are actually pretty similar."

Read the Washington Post, The White House’s non-denial denials on its DACA deal with Democrats.

UPDATE III:  "President Trump on Wednesday vowed not to cut taxes for the wealthy, extolled the virtues of bipartisanship as leading to “some of the greatest legislation ever passed” and then — in a surprise move announced deep into the night — agreed to cut a deal with Democrats saving hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation.

That Trump did all of that while declaring himself 'a conservative' only heightened the sense of surrealism that has wafted through the nation’s capital over the past eight days, as the president has expressed a newfound, if tentative, willingness to work across the aisle — a development that has left many Republicans chagrined and some Democrats cautiously optimistic.

Trump’s outreach suggested that an unexpected deal he reached last week with Democrats may not have been an aberration. . .

Trump now believes that Republicans — who control both the House and the Senate — cannot be trusted to carry bills to passage by themselves and views it as his burden to create a better environment for his legislative agenda to garner support. What matters to him, one Republican lawmaker said, is 'putting wins on the board — not the specifics.'

Instead of relentlessly courting members of the conservative, and often intractable, House Freedom Caucus, as he did on health care, Trump wants them to 'feel the burn a little bit,' the lawmaker added, framing the new outreach as Trump’s way of reminding conservatives in both chambers that he likes them but does not need them.

'They’re not the only player he’s willing to play with,' said Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman. 'He’s saying to them, 'I’ll be a free-range president.'' . .

Moderate Republicans, in particular, have cheered this development, after long feeling sidelined inside the House as Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives have rebelled against their party’s leadership.

Trump’s conservative critics, however, said his latest gestures reflect his liberal instincts on some issues and his intense desire for popularity.

'He’s always had that itch to liberate himself from the Republican Party,' said William Kristol, a Trump critic and editor at large of the Weekly Standard magazine. 'He ran against it in 2015 and 2016, and has attacked it in 2017. He wants to win and doesn’t care about the substance of winning.'

Kristol added, 'Democratic voters may loathe Trump, but he could conceivably give them lots of policy victories.'

Democrats say they are focused only on working with the president on areas where they believe they can get what they want in terms of their priorities, including protections for the dreamers and federal health-care subsidies for Obamacare. . .

On other issues and with this president, many Democrats remain wary."

Read the Washington Post, ‘A new strategy’ for Trump? Democrats cautious but encouraged by fresh outreach.

UPDATE II:  "Staunch conservative allies of President Trump have erupted in anger and incredulity after Democrats late Wednesday announced that the president had agreed to pursue a legislative deal that would protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation but not secure Trump’s signature campaign promise: building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. . .

[As the news spread, Republi-CONs were in such an uproar that] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted at 10:21 p.m.: 'While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.'

Eleven minutes later, Matt House, an adviser to Schumer, tweeted: 'The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.'

Sanders’s Twitter assurance, however, did little to calm the roiled voices, especially in the populist-nationalist wing of the Republican Party — a wing deeply linked to Trump.

'Deep State Wins, Huge Loss for #MAGA,' Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs tweeted, alluding to Trump’s 'Make America Great Again' campaign slogan."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s die-hard supporters are fuming after an apparent about-face on ‘dreamers’.

Who would have thouht, you can't trust a CON Man.

UPDATE:  "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) promised Obamacare repeal, funding for the wall and tax reform, all by the end of August. For the GOP, it is now September, both literally and metaphorically.

In the spring of their hopes, Republican leaders placed a bet — which seemed reasonable at the time — that they could contain President Trump and pass legislation despite him. This required looking away from the uglier aspects of Trump’s appeal — his Twitter transgressions, his appallingly frenzied rallies, his rule by ridicule. All this was worth swallowing because Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would pass their conservative agenda.

The wager was large and lost. The attempt to revive a health-care alternative in the Senate seems halfhearted and doomed by the same ideological dynamics that killed the legislation the first time. Republican enthusiasm for the Mexican border wall is limited by the fact that it is among the most wasteful, impractical and useless ideas ever spouted by an American president. And ambitious tax reform has been tabled in favor of a few tax cuts that are likely to reaffirm public impressions that the “P” in GOP stands for “plutocracy.”

In the process, Republican leaders have been made to look hapless and pathetic, not least because Trump has taken to taunting them. A president incapable of legislative leadership mocks the ineffectiveness of Republican legislators, publicly humiliates them on the debt-limit deal, then revels in the (very temporary) friendship of 'Chuck and Nancy' — Democratic leaders Schumer and Pelosi.

Those Republicans who believe that Trump is being cynical, disloyal or politically calculating continue to misunderstand the man. The president has no discernible political philosophy or strong policy views to betray. His leadership consists mainly of instincts, reflexes and prejudices, which often have nothing to do with self-interest. He has a genius for fame, which usually involves attention-attracting unpredictability and transgressiveness. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of policy. During legislative debates on issues such as health care, Trump has been erratic, unfocused, impatient and frighteningly ignorant. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of politics. The president takes it as an accomplishment to secure the support of about 35 percent of the public. This leaves Republicans in the worst of political worlds, where the intensity of Trump’s base is increased by words and policies that alienate the majority — making Trump a powerful force within the party and a scary, galvanizing figure beyond it. The damage is broad, profound and generational. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll recorded 26 percent approval for the president among those aged 18 to 34.

The wager has been a moral disaster. News accounts following Trump’s betrayal of Republican leaders on the debt limit reported them to be 'livid.' What does it tell us about Republican politicians that they were livid about a three-month debt-limit extension but not so much about misogyny, nativism and flirtation with racism?"

Read the Washington Post, GOP leaders made a huge wager — and they’re losing.

"Trump’s not becoming an independent. His deals with Democrats and Bannon’s threats are signs that the hostile takeover of the GOP is just getting started.

There is no precedent for President Trump’s political maneuverings at the expense of his own party. Only a president with no longstanding ties to the GOP or political experience would have even considered something like his astonishing ambush of the Republican congressional leadership last week, in which Trump cut a deal with the Democrats at the expense of his supposed allies.

Trump is unbound by any loyalty to the party that nominated him or to men such as House speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell. To the contrary, he regards them as foes in a cold war against a political establishment he neither likes nor trusts. As former aide turned independent cheerleader Steve Bannon noted on 60 Minutes Sunday night, Ryan and McConnell oppose Trump’s populist agenda that they rightly perceive as contradicting the conservative views that unite most Republicans.

But those who think that what is happening is a genuine revolution that will, as the New York Times put it in an analysis published on the front page of their Sunday edition, “Upend 150 Years of Two-Party Rule,” are mistaken. Trump is not a true Republican, nor is he anyone’s idea of a conservative. Nothing like Trump has ever happened before in American political history, and the long-term consequences of his presidency are still unknowable. . .

The uneasy coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign-policy hawks, libertarians, and social conservatives that elected Ronald Reagan and sustained Republicans in the decades since then may have been fatally fractured. . .

[T]he two-party system is safe. We can’t know exactly what a post-Trump Republican party will look like, but we can be sure that it will be very different from the conservative party that nominated the Bushes, John McCain, and Mitt Romney and that not many in the grassroots will mourn it."

Read National Review, Trump’s Republican Civil War.