The Reign of the King of Debt

“I’m the king of debt,” Donald Trump once said. Apparently, he wasn’t lying.

The U.S. Treasury Department reported today that the national debt has increased by $2 trillion ($2,000,000,000,000) since President Trump took office on January 20, 2017. To be fair, the president didn’t do it all by himself: He had the full cooperation of the Republicans who controlled Congress.

I celebrated by buying some U.S. Treasury notes.

The Show Goes On

President Trump is the consummate con man. Show man. No one can dominate the public attention and discourse like he can. He’s superb at what he does.

Meanwhile, of course, the daily barrage of distractions — the show he orchestrates — provides cover for the real Republican agenda: cutting taxes for the rich and their corporations, privatizing governmental functions such as education and the military (i.e., converting them into profit-making enterprises, further enriching those with capital), eliminating constraints on businesses so nothing gets in their way of turning a profit, undermining and weakening the forces of liberal democracy in whatever way he can, and pruning and, where possible, eliminating the social safety net (i.e., overturning Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its progeny). In short, Mr. Trump has been very good for the elite of this country, his populist persona notwithstanding.

Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, will arrive at my doorstep today, thanks to Amazon Prime. Continue reading

Are Republicans Stupid? Immoral? Or Both?

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over was conducted June 14-15, shortly after President Trump’s historic summit with the North Korea dictator. According to the results, 19 percent of Republicans indicated they had a favorable view of Kim . . . . That compared slightly better than the perception of Pelosi, who had a 17 percent favorable, 72 percent unfavorable rating among self-identified Republicans. – The Daily Beast

That’s right: Republicans have a more favorable opinion of the dictator who’s tortured and executed his own people for political reasons, and who has held innocent Americans and others against their will (in one case, resulting in the death of an American man), than they do of one of the leaders of the opposition party, Ms. Pelosi. That’s how far it has gone. That’s how stupid or immoral some of these people are. Continue reading

Prepare Yourself, The Crisis Is Coming

I lived through one. A constitutional crisis that is. It resulted in the resignation of a president (Nixon). And now it appears we’ll be living through another one, except this one will be worse.

All along, I’ve thought President Trump would fire the special counsel if there was any wrongdoing in Mr. Trump’s past. There is no way I could be sure there was any wrongdoing, although, based on what we know about Mr. Trump’s character, it seemed likely there would be skeletons in the closet. But there’s no way to be certain.

Suspicions have been heightened, of course, by Mr. Trump himself. Over the past year, he certainly has acted like someone who’s guilty of something. I’ve represented some bad actors in my day, but I’ve never had anyone act so guilty as our president has acted these past 14 months.

And then this weekend unfolded. First, Mr. Trump’s lawyer called for the firing of the special counsel. That’s bizarre behavior for any lawyer. The only explanation is that he was instructed to float this trial balloon by his client. And, to no one’s surprise, it’s didn’t take long for that to become obvious.

On Saturday evening, Mr. Trump tweeted this:

The president followed this up the next day (Sunday morning) with three tweets attacking the F.B.I. One of his tweets cited Fox and Friends as supporting authority. (Yes, that’s what we’ve come to.)

It’s obvious the president is feeling the heat. And it’s just as apparent he thinks he or his family are in deep trouble should the special counsel be permitted to complete his investigation. Therefore, it seems equally apparent to me that it’s only a matter of time before the president has the special counsel fired, thereby triggering a constitutional crisis. The alternative is to do nothing and allow the justice system to do its work. But if one fears that means jail or impeachment, the risks associated with firing the special counsel are worth it.

The only thing that might keep him in check would be a Republican leadership that would not countenance such shenanigans. And I suspect that’s what this weekend’s tweets were designed to test. Not surprisingly, the Republican leadership resembled crickets. They’re a pathetic bunch. They care more about power and their own political fortunes than the country.

In short, I have no expectation the Republican House of Representatives will do anything to stop a constitutional crisis, which is more likely today than it was last week at this time. If anything is to be done, it will have to await a change of control of the House next January, assuming the electorate choses to throw out those who are complicit and install the opposition party. If they don’t, then nothing will be done.

But even if nothing is done, the crisis will not be contained. It will trigger a correction in or collapse of the stock market and possibly the bond market, too. It may even trigger a recession, although I’m less certain of that. There will be a myriad of other consequences, both domestically and in foreign affairs. Adversaries will be emboldened by a U.S. government in a state of crisis. For all intents and purpose, the Trump presidency will be over. But we might have to live through several more years of it just the same.

Most of us don’t have any say over what happens with Mr. Trump, the economy, or stock market, but we do have say over how we choose to invest our savings. And whom we vote for. But that process takes time to unfold. Constitutional crises don’t wait. They happen in real time. And on their own schedule.

Don’t be surprised if one is coming our way. Soon.

P.S. 3/19/18 – This morning’s tweet from the child king:

P.S. # 2 – It has only just begun.

P.S. # 3 – The latest installment of the setup.

These People Just Don’t Care

The Republicans running Congress these days don’t care. They just don’t care. About the working people, that is. They only care about themselves and the fat cats who are keeping them in power.

When the Democrats regain control, and if they act in such a callous manner, I’ll lambast them, too. But for now, they have no say. All of this rests on the Republicans’ shoulders.

During and in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the Republicans steadfastly refused to take actions that would have spurred demand and helped put people back to work. The deficit is all that mattered. Consequently, it’s been a long, slow process to get from there to where we are today, with many, many unnecessary casualties along the way (suicides, drug overdoses, broken families, lost homes, skyrocketing student debt, etc.).

But now the deficits no longer matter. Now, the Republicans can do what they’ve wanted to do all along: give themselves and their cronies huge tax cuts — in other words, grab an even bigger slice of the pie for themselves. And put the tab on the backs of the working class.

On one hand, I don’t care. I’ll be fine; in fact, I’ll have more as a result of their tax cuts. The people who are going to get hurt the worst are the people who put the Republicans into power. So one could argue they’re merely getting what they deserve.

On the other hand, I do care. I care about what these people are doing to the country, both in the short term and especially the long term.

I’ve been around some of these people who don’t give a damn about the working man and woman. Long ago I realized they think the poor and working poor are lazy and deserve their lot. Indeed, many of them are pretty open about it in private. Conversely, they think they deserve everything they have — and more! They earned it. They’re entitled to it. They don’t even give a tip of their hat to the role that good fortune and luck play in it (or, conversely, bad luck).

It’s one of the reasons they’ve been so complicit with President Trump. While they wouldn’t be so crass to use Mr. Trump’s schoolyard vocabulary, they do in fact agree with him that there are winners and losers. In their minds, most people are losers. And they deserve what they get. The people with political power, of course, are winners in their minds. As are the rich who lavish them with donations, perks, inside information and other advantages that never come the way of the working person.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are stacking the deck further in favor of themselves and their rich cronies. Now that they have complete power, they intend to grab all they can.

And you can be sure they’re not finished. Just watch. They will claim that we have to cut back on Social Security and Medicare because of the huge deficits. Naturally, they won’t mention the role they played in inflating the deficit. It will always be someone else’s fault.

These people just don’t care. They don’t. They have plenty, and they’re not in any danger of not having plenty. Each man and woman for him and herself. That’s their motto.

I have no idea when the reaction will come, when those being screwed by these people will rise up and exercise the power they have at the ballot box. I don’t even know if that day will come in my lifetime.

If it doesn’t, then I suppose we’ll simply get what we deserve. Maybe they’re right: maybe we are losers.

But, of course, no one’s a loser. Or winner. That’s the language of people who are trying to justify their unjust and uncaring policies and actions. It’s the language of the entitled class that doesn’t care about anyone else.

The more appropriate term is people. Children. Women. Men. People.

When people care about each other, the Seventh Generation and the future of the earth and its inhabitants, this world can be a glorious place.

But you have to care.