Ignoring Emoluments? #ImpeachTrump

I mean, what exactly does somebody like Trump pray for?

Stonekettle Station

I too would like to know what kind of prayers the OHM might offer, because frankly, I can’t imagine him ever praying to anyone or anything. The very notion that he would willingly bend a knee in supplication at any time is foreign to the machismo that he tries to present. That he could put words into a supplication that didn’t sound as false as every other thing he says, making the prayer a mockery, baffles even my (ahem) yuge imagination.

While he’s airing the laundry, as Jim suggests, laundry like his secret thoughts and prayers, perhaps he’d do the people he’s supposed to serve, the American people, a few other favors?

Like what?

Let’s start with other things mentioned in the Constitution. The document that contains that holiest of holy conservative amendments, the Second Amendment, outlines pretty succinctly the kind of strictures that a holder of the office of President must comply with. Not the first amendment, I split that portion of the Constitutional Crisis out and made it its own post. Not engaging in political assassination on a level that would even put Nixon to shame. That also is its own post now. Not even the failure to protect the general health and welfare of the citizens of the United states. That could become many posts all on its own because the list just keeps getting longer. For now it is simply a recitation of the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico. People who still haven’t seen the relief promised by the OHM over a year ago.

No I’m talking about an obscure little clause in the Constitution that hasn’t needed to be litigated until today, largely because no president before the OHM was so brazen as to believe he could flaunt law in the way that he has so far in his presidency. Not since Ol’ Hickory had his agents buy up lands formerly set aside for native Americans in Georgia have we seen profit taking on this level. I’m talking about emoluments, dear reader. Emoluments yet again. Would the OHM mind too much doing we the people the courtesy of releasing his financial statements and clue us in on who is paying him how much and for which favors? He swore an oath to uphold the Constitution that requires this of him, but his lackeys are still telling us how they can’t be bothered to comply with the requirements of the Constitution.

“To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand,” the Trump Organization wrote in its policy pamphlet, which the company’s chief compliance officer said had been distributed to general managers and senior officials at all of its properties.

The Atlantic, ‘Not Practical’ to Comply With the Emoluments Clause

So while he’s out there offering thoughts and prayers to obscure the blood all over his interpretation of the Second Amendment, maybe he could do the other things that document requires and inform us of just who’s pockets he is in? It’s not too much to ask. Lyin’ Hillary as the OHM refers to her, released 40 years of her financial records to the press, a fact that the press took full advantage of, using it (among other things) to beat her down at the polls. Using her openness to keep her from becoming President. Did I trust Hillary Clinton? No. But then I didn’t have to. Her history was an open book. Her excesses were known. Her habits had been gauged. She would have at least been predictable, would at least have not worked to destroy the world as we’ve come to know it, in the first year of her presidency. All of which is more than I can say about the OHM.

He won’t reveal his financials even though every modern president before him has done this. He won’t tell us who is paying him now, much less who was paying him in the past, refusing to divulge information that has always been public record for elected officials including presidents. This is much more of a crisis than anything else that he’s done or failed to do in office. It is at the heart of his malfeasance and he won’t tell us because he knows just how dirty his financial records are. So either he has to divest himself of all his properties now, declare all his finances, now, or he has to be impeached, now.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense for the president and his family to “enrich themselves by using his presidency.”

The Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act would “significantly improve upon the existing ban on America’s highest elected officials receiving financial benefits from foreign powers.”

“Unlike other presidents, Donald Trump has failed to distance himself from his private business interests while serving our nation, and so he and his family are getting richer from Trump companies that receive money and benefits from foreign powers,” Swalwell said.

Countable

Being a United States public official is lucrative enough without resorting to the kleptocratic tactics that the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) his appointees and his family have exhibited. The emoluments clause is in the Constitution for this reason, and the ban on all gifts should be applied to all public offices, not just the president and his administration. The OHM is violating the constitution, has been actively violating the oath he swore to protect and defend the Constitution since he swore it last January. Oaths don’t get any more broken the longer they stay broken. If we don’t respect the law, then the law ceases to have meaning. The Republican party has put lawlessness on display for all to see, while trumpeting their status as the “rule of law” party. They have made a mockery of the United States. It is time to take back our government from them.

The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.

Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries. Trump’s company has disclosed few details about the business it does with foreign customers, saying it already reveals more than is required.

The Washington Post

This is direct evidence of the OHM’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Payments directly to Trump from a foreign leader. This is bribery. This is corruption. The Nazi wannabes in congress who are members of the OHM’s party, representatives of the American people who will not move to impeach this poor, white, excuse for a president, are themselves violating their oaths to preserve and protect the constitution of the United States. All of them should be impeached, not just their president. This is the highest crime committed in the United States in my lifetime. That the Republican representatives in congress refuse to act says a lot more about them and their base than they realize.

The Ezra Klein Show, Taking Trump’s Corruption Seriously, August 2, 2018

If there is some scandal lurking that’s going to derail the Trump administration, I think it’s going to be found by following the money, not by following the Russian bots.

Adam Davidson has been investigating this since Trump’s election. If you’re an avid podcast listener, you probably know Adam from his days at Planet Money. He’s now at the New Yorker, doing some of the best investigative work on the Trump Organization. You’ll want to hear what he’s found.

A lot of what is documented by Adam Davidson echoes the kinds of things I was alluding to in Caveat Emptor  in January of 2017. The OHM is dirty, has always been dirty. That is the kind of business he conducts, and this isn’t a secret in any real sense. It was only a matter of time till this evidence became news, and brought down his corrupt administration. The only question is, will the truth arrive in time to save the US from itself, or will the OHM have made such a mess of things that we cannot recover from it?

#TrumpTaxes2018

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. 

Threatening First Amendment Rights? #ImpeachTrump

I mean, what exactly does somebody like Trump pray for?

Stonekettle Station

We’ve heard the phrase constitutional crisis all our lives. It’s a phrase I’ve heard and seen attached to many different people for many different reasons over the course of my 50+ years. The phrase is more than just a little misleading. As I’ve heard several pundits note in the last few years, the United States is always in a constitutional crisis because there is always someone out there doing something that is questionable from a constitutional basis. But the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) represents a level of disregard for lawful behavior that shocks even a dyed-in-the-wool non-conformist like myself.

Jim’s quote concerning the Capital Gazette mass shooting is typical for the everyday crisis we deal with in Trump’s America. The recitation of the conservative mantra of thoughts and prayers after tragedies rang hollow even before the current level of disdain for lawful behavior was exhibited by the most corrupt and compromised leader in US history. To hear those words come out of his mouth is to need to dig your own ears out with an icepick. It offends the senses. It is so obvious a lie, this fakir pretending that he prays for anything, this narcissist, this solipsist? There is nothing greater in his mind than he is, how could he possibly pray to anyone or anything?

Funny thing though. Funny thing. Just last night, at yet another political rally, President Trump was telling us, yet again, how the Press — the PRESS — is the enemy of America.

Stonekettle Station

I can’t put too fine a point on this one. When the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) trotted out the phrase enemy of the people and applied it to the United States free press, the world’s free press, inspiring acts of hatred across the world in response including the deaths of five people in Washington DC, that was the moment when the very notion that the OHM could be allowed to leave office unmolested ceased to have any weight. No one who utters that phrase from a position of authority can be trusted unsupervised from that point forward. His time as a free man has come to an end. It is merely a matter of time now before he will be in shackles and facing the judgement of the American people for his assorted crimes. Unlike Hillary Clinton, the OHM has committed crimes, and it didn’t take four years of fruitless investigation to prove this.

On The Media Enemy of the People August 3, 2018

At a rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump supporters attacked CNN reporter Jim Acosta, prompting the president to double down on his anti-press “Enemy of the People” rhetoric. A look at how and why the president incites his base — and where it all might lead. And, as the regulatory battle surrounding 3D gun blueprints rages on, we dive into the worldview of Cody Wilson, the man who started the controversy. Plus, why we’re still living in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s killing, six years later.

Fivethirtyeight Politics Podcast: Should The Press Respond To Trump’s Attacks? AUG. 6, 2018, AT 5:19 PM

President Trump’s attacks on the press have reached a new level in recent weeks. On Sunday, he called the press, “very dangerous & sick” and wrote that the media can “cause War.” The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast team talks about what the goal of the president’s rhetoric is and how the press should respond.

Are there limits on speech under the first amendment? Yes. Yes there are. You won’t hear about those real limits from the OHM or from any conservative pundit in the US today. None of the news organizations, not even FOX, have breached those limits. Football players peacefully protesting by taking a knee have not breached those limits. Yelling fire in a burning theater doesn’t breach those limits. What are those limits, then? Threatening violence. Inciting a riot. Falsifying data in pursuit of personal gain. In other words, what the OHM does nearly every time he rage tweets.

If I threatened violence like Trump does on social media, Twitter and Facebook would suspend my accounts, no matter what the provocation was. Hell, both platforms have suspended me for far, far less.

It’s not just that Twitter continues to protect this lunatic, the REALLY insane part: NO ONE IN THE ADMINISTRATION NOR IN CONGRESS has so far addressed this madness.

No republican. No democrat.

Congress has abdicated its duty to America.

We reached a point where it’s not enough to throw Trump out of office, CONGRESS needs to be replaced in its entirety. If you sons of bitches don’t show up this time and remove these faithless cowards from office, if you don’t start electing better people, then you are complicit in the destruction of the Republic.

Stonekettle Station

As I said previously elsewhere “Imagine the difference we would see in the world around us if authorities had arrested Donald Trump the first time he incited a riot?” Because he has done that. He’s done it more than once, and no one has ever suggested he be prosecuted. His social media accounts should be banned for violating clearly stated boundaries on those media systems. Do not just suspend his accounts, ban them. He should be kicked out of every decent establishment in society along with anyone who sides with him publicly. The cost will be higher now than it would have been back in the campaign days. Higher on all sides, unfortunately. But he has to go. We cannot allow him to go unpunished. Allowing him to walk away without exacting a price on his behavior from him will send the wrong message and leave us unprotected from the next demagogue to come along thinking they will use the system for their own ends. This has to be stopped here, and it should have been stopped before he took the oath of office because we knew he was dirty even then.

August 2nd, 2018 at 3:00 AM Putin Enemy #1 (with Bill Browder) Stay Tuned with Preet

#TrumpEnemyofthePeople not the free press. Not the protestors. Not the liberals. The OHM is the enemy of the people, and it is about time we recognized this fact and demanded he be removed from office. Before he does something the system will not recover from.

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and embroidered on all three. 

#6 Emoluments

Twitter

If you think #MAGA means anything other than Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, you are the person these tweets were written for.

StitcherThe Emoluments Clauses EP. 6 – 07.20.17

#ImpeachTrump

A thousand times yes. I’ve just been waiting for everyone else to catch up. He couldn’t be president a year ago now and he still can’t be even though he was given the office. If the Democrats would come out in favor of impeachment now, hammer that point for the next 18 months, the congress will be theirs in 2018 even if congress acts to remove him before the election. This is because President Pence acting on a belief in a conservatives mandate will alienate more people than a simply incompetent Trump ever could. #ImpeachTrump

Facebook status backdated to the blog. I was (and still am) growing more resigned. The Orange Hate-Monkey could have been tossed out of office on his first day but responsible people refuse to act. We average American must sit idly by, watching as Rome burns, all the time wishing that we had paid for a better fiddler than Nero. Would probably have paid for better entertainment if we had known how long the act would run.

Caveat Emptor

the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.

Google search result

A few days ago it was announced that Hillary Clinton will attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States. Of the groups I belong to where this was posted, almost no one took the tack that I would think made sense in the kind of weather we are about to be facing. Most people lauded her for being big enough to go to the swearing in for the victor in the election she most wanted to win. I believe the complete opposite. I don’t think she should go. I don’t think anyone should go. Trump should have to pay attendees to show up. He should have to pay for the judge to swear him in. That is how we should hold him to account for all the bills he’s never paid, and for all the bills he’s going to make us pay.

We have reached that point in US politics. That precise political instant where it will profit us to understand what the words Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware really mean.  Donald J. Trump is a successful businessman as so many of his supporters insist. He is his own biggest booster. He talks about himself incessantly, Tweets pictures of himself constantly, congratulates himself publicly for things that he thinks he’s done whether he has actually done them or not.

But he is a businessman, that much is true.

There are many different kinds of businesses. One might easily argue that there are as many different kinds of business as there are people doing business; however the real estate developer is a special kind of business animal. They ain’t quite like any other form of business on the planet, these real estate developers. Their business is selling their delusions. Delusion is an essential part of the psyche of the real estate developer, and it helps if he is a charismatic delusional because his job requires him to infect the people he talks to with his delusion. He has to infect them with his delusion, or they won’t give him their money, their property, their effort.

Let’s say you want to repurpose a downtown Washington D.C. post office, just to pull a random location out of thin air. We’ll pretend we’re going to take this random location and turn it into a hotel. Not just any hotel, but the most fabulous hotel you’ve ever seen. I mean beautiful, you know? The first thing you need to do to start this project is actually not what you might think. No, the first thing you do, before anything else, is get money for the project. If you have money, then you can influence people to see things your way. You can say “you see my investors over here? They believe in me. They’ve promised me money, so this is going to happen one way or the other and I know you want to be part of this.”

The most important factor in real estate development is getting the money for the stake, for the start of the process. People don’t give you money for nothing, not even if you are trustworthy and you ask real nice. No, you only get money if you have collateral, something you can promise to the lender in exchange for their capital investment. Now, depending on who has the money and where the money came from, what your collateral can be is very flexible.

It is a dirty little secret in the real estate business, especially development and construction, that a large portion of real estate development is done for the purposes of laundering money. It isn’t merely happenstance that some of Donald J. Trump’s business partners are a little on the shady side. That is the kind of money that a big developer needs access to. Liquid capital, and lots of it. The people with dirty money know they are going to lose at least half of their money just making it clean anyway, so they really aren’t interested in tight accounting practices. They just want their share when the clean money starts coming back in.

In New York City back when Trump was laundering his father’s fortune and building Trump tower, you didn’t do business in real estate without being friends with several of these types of people, and Trump knew and dealt with them for as long as he was active in real estate there. What do I know precisely about his connections to organized crime? Nothing. I don’t know anything about his business and the sad part that fact is this, all of us should have demanded we know about his business before electing him to the highest office in the land.

I can tell you that the reason we never saw his tax returns is he doesn’t want anyone to know how much money came in, how much money went out, and who the money went to. How much money he currently has, and how much debt is stacked against it. Those are the things no one can know aside from his bookkeeper, and I guarantee you that person isn’t talking to anyone. The one thing bookkeepers are paid for is discretion and they know it.

When Savings & Loans were a thing, I worked for a few different real estate developers. I was the guy who had to make the developer’s delusions look real. I was the draftsman/graphic artist and eventually a staff architect in several different firms of architects. But back in the S&L days I was just a flunkie newb draftsman and what I did was what the developer told me to do. If he wanted letterhead for a new company, I made new letterhead. If he wanted art for a cover, I drew or found better artists to draw convincing art to sell his delusions, his dreams. My drawings were my stock in trade and my drawings were masterpieces of illusion, because very few of them were ever built. But damn they did look good when I was finished with them.

I have actually lost count of the number of different proposals I worked on back then. It was one every few months for several years. The number of sales pitches I’ve heard really aren’t important for this story. But the charisma? Oh, yeah. They all had it in spades. You’d believe any damn thing they told you while they were talking to you. It was only later that you would kick yourself for agreeing to do whatever stupid thing they asked you to do. But invariably the dream of getting paid would be too much and you’d do the thing on the off-chance that the crazy guy could sell it, and damned if they didn’t generally get something for their effort.

When I say they got something for their effort, I mean the real estate developer got something to show for our collective efforts. They usually made off like bandits. As a paid flunkie draftsman I punched a clock and I got paid, even paid time and a half for time over forty hours a week. You don’t work less than forty hours a week if you are drafting for someone who wants drawings ASAP.  So the pay wasn’t bad compared to the minimum wage I had been making previous to studying drafting. But what I made was chickenfeed next to what they banked, and you’ve never heard someone whine so hard about writing you a check until you’ve had a developer by the balls, him needing his next drawings, and you won’t give them up till the check is in your hand.

That is rule number one when dealing with a developer. You don’t do jack shit until at least half the money is in your hand. If you do work on contingency for a developer, you are working for free.  You are working for free because he never has to tell you whether he made money or not, which generally means not. Not money for you, anyway.

So let’s say you’ve been around the block a few times. You’re pretty savvy. You know your contracts and your in’s and out’s. You know to get money up front and to get signed contracts before doing any work and all that business school stuff they teach you or you learn from hard knocks along the way. None of that means a thing to a developer like Donald J. Trump.

Nope. That’s what shell corporations are for. The best (and when I say best, I mean wealthiest) architects in the business also use shell corporations. You create this legal fiction and you make it responsible for all the contracts you sign as a businessman. This is all completely legal and above board even though it is a fiction you are engaged in. You pay all your employees and rent and utilities on your place of business through that corporation; but don’t forget the important part of this equation. You also pay yourself a salary.

In fact, you can be paid a salary from all the corporations you own at the same time. All you have to do is justify the expense to the board, and if it is a shell corporation the board is probably you or someone you appoint to say yes to the things you want. So spend a half-hour a month, make a half-million dollars. No one will complain because no one will know except you and your bookkeepers.

I left the best part for last. When you pay yourself too well (and Donald J. Trump does this in spades) you just get to walk away from your contracts. The business you created and hopefully sold beforehand (that is the important part) will go bankrupt, sure. But that really isn’t your problem. You paid yourself a salary and that debt comes before paying contracts. Designers and craftsmen, engineers and architects; everyone who signed contracts and aren’t working for a wage, they get the scraps. You and the investors walk away smelling like roses with freshly laundered money in your pockets.

It is a neat financial trick, one that Donald J. Trump has repeated 6 times now. He has been sued more than 4,000 times. You don’t rack up that many bankruptcies or get sued that many times unless you are doing something bordering on illegal. Bordering on illegal is still legal though, and that is what counts.

Ruthlessness and business acumen only get you so far. You still fall prey to the same failures to predict the future that everyone else does. The crash of the gaming industry nearly did Trump Incorporated in. Even he didn’t understand just how big the financial bubble we were all sitting on was, and he was caught flat-footed just like everyone else as the Wall Street money dried up and Atlantic city’s gaming industry cratered. But hey, that is when the charisma that someone like the Donald has really comes in handy.

If you’re good at it (and Trump is very good at it. Just ask him, he’ll tell you) you can turn yourself into a TV star. He hawked himself onto every media outlet that would have him, spending so much time on radio that he became the butt of several jokes in the New York area radio business. But it paid off in the end, just like he knew it would deep in his delusional heart. The only reason he has any money today is because The Apprentice and its spin-offs have made money, and he made money just like everyone else who works in TV does, successful or not. If you are working you are making money in television. And if your show has ratings you make lots of money. Producers can make more money than anybody and they do less work if they know what they are doing. The Donald talked his way into a producer’s percentage, and he still gets paid to this day for producing the show that he no longer works on.

But down deep in his rotten heart, Donald J. Trump is still that delusional little kid that thought a million bucks gifted from his father was a pittance, and even that is a lie. The same guy who took dirty money from shady characters in NYC to finance his early projects. The same guy who believes every single lie he’s ever told just to make the next buck in a nearly endless line of billions of bucks. Believes those lies and every single conspiracy fantasy he’s asked to put stock in by people like Alex Jones and Breitbart news. He believes them but knows they are false. It doesn’t matter, because the charisma makes him the next buck, and the next buck is what really matters.

That is why we as citizens of the United States need to understand caveat emptor, and we need to understand it now. It would have been better if we had understood it before November 8th, but that deadline passed and we were #MAGA in a big enough percentage in the wrong places. He’s going to be sworn in as the leader of our country on January 20th, with a congress willing and able to do his bidding, if actions and trends are to be believed. He will have the keys to the White House soon, and we need to understand that this life-long con artist is about to pull off the biggest con of his life.

…and that he has no idea how to do the job we’ve given him.

The wealthy believe that they shouldn’t be governed by the same laws as the rest of us. The lives they lead are almost unbelievable to those of us who have never had more money than we could spend on a single purchase.  Trump is one of these people. He has always lived that lifestyle.

Trump has no intention of doing any of the things his predecessors in office have done in order to earn our trust while they are in office. He will not be selling off his businesses, he’s pretending his children will run them without consulting him. He will be in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution from the moment that he takes his oath of office because he will be paid by someone staying in one of his hotels, visitors from foreign governments, on the same day (probably within the same hour) that he swears his false oath.

His contempt for our system goes far beyond simple greed, his need for more money and more fame. He’s hired relatives to run parts of the administration in violation of nepotism laws. He’s named appointees for cabinet seats that have clear conflicts of interest. He’s named appointees who have declared their intention to destroy the department they will be in charge of, pretty much across the board. He’s been bought and paid for by billionaires across the country who are counting on him to deliver on the promises he’s made to roll back clean energy and approve expanded drilling and pipeline proposals.

Robert Reich asked Facebook What do you think? in the wake of Trump’s pick of former Gov. Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy. What do I think? I find it impossible to take anything about this election seriously; which is weird, because I was one of the people who took Trump seriously from the beginning and discounted his chances with the voting public because he was demonstrably unqualified for the office he was seeking. Everything that he has done since the election has demonstrated, again and again, just how unqualified he is financially, mentally, temperamentally.

He can’t be president.

…and still the media people act like he can be president and “aren’t you outraged about this?” I’m well beyond outraged now. The surreality of the approaching cataclysm, surrounded by the same old news organizations parroting the same old garbage news as if there would be a United States for us to live in if this dangerously deranged person were to be allowed to take and hold the office of the president for the next 4 years has me all but convinced I’m the only real person in a video game gone horribly wrong.

He can’t be president. If they make him president anyway the US won’t be here for long if we don’t remove him, and we may not survive his removal if we do. You may well say “that can’t happen” but I guarantee you the average inhabitant of the USSR never thought that they would be reliant upon the truncated government of Russia and the other severed states of the former Soviet Union, either. But they did all the same; and if you think that isn’t Vladimir Putin’s favored dream, the end of the USA, then you really don’t understand the mind of a former KGB agent turned dictator like Putin.

#TrumpStoleIt: A Facebook LIVE Event

#TrumpStoleIt: Watch the movie that predicted Trump would steal the election…And find out how he did it!2018 and 2020 are just around the corner. Help us protect our democracy, expose those who seek to undermine it, and ensure your vote counts. Join the movement, sign up here: TrumpStoleIt.orgOur FREE premiere screening of the updated cut of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Movie was followed by an online discussion, which you can view here: https://www.facebook.com/GregPalastInvestigates/videos/10154934599072128/#Trump #Crosscheck #ElectionFraud #VotingRights #TheResistance #BDMCB

Posted by Greg Palast on Thursday, January 19, 2017
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Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck WHICH STOLE a million minority votes by November—and the billionaires who BANKROLLED it.

#TrumpStoleIt Posted by Greg Palast
Caveat Emptor, Buyer Beware

Donald J. Trump is going to step up to take that oath in less than 24 hours now, and you as an American citizen need to understand that you are about to buy into something with no warranty and no guarantees, and you had best inspect each and every proposal put forward by these delusional people as if your life depended on it, because it very well might.

He will come into office with a House of Representatives packed with delusional people who think they can spend money and cut taxes at the same time (it worked for Bush. Temporarily) and there is only so much more of our debt that the Chinese will be willing to buy. Willing to buy from His Electoral Highness Donald J. Trump, that is. He has insulted the Chinese more times than I can count now. Apparently no one has told him that the Chinese have been the biggest buyer of American debt for several years now.

That debt load the country has been carrying? That is about to come due. Guess who will have to foot the bill for paying it? We will, the citizens of the United States. That bill and all the money Trump spends or puts in his pocket during his brief term in the White House. We have to pay that. Us, our children, or grand children and their grandchildren. But not Donald J. Trump and his family. No, they don’t pay taxes, because they are smart. So they won’t be paying the bills, at least not directly and not in a way they would notice. The currency will inflate and those of us with the least will go hungrier than we are now. We’ll lose property to foreign investors spending dollars we’ve convinced them to buy as debt. Federal lands will be privatized and sold. Federal programs will be privatized in the name of cost-cutting.

The latter will go as well as the private prisons did; private prisons that will once again be approved by the Justice Department under its new leadership. Public schools will disappear into voucher programs which won’t cover the cost of teaching poor children who won’t even be able to feed or clothe themselves properly because there won’t be jobs for their parents (automation being the reasons low wage, low skill jobs are disappearing. It isn’t outsourcing and immigrants #MAGA once again) and there won’t be welfare for them to rely on. There certainly won’t be any healthcare unless you are wealthy or lucky enough to qualify under the newly restrictive measures imposed on that program.

Don’t believe me? Remember that wall the #MAGA wanted Trump to build, the wall he said he’d make Mexico pay for? We’re going to pay for it. But trust Donald J. Trump when he says he’ll bill Mexico for the cost of the wall. The wall that there will already be tunnels under when it is built.

Illusions are important when you are trying to sell someone on your dream of pocketing that next dollar.

In reality, Trump’s administration is a rebuke to the very notion that the public interest diverges in any way from private ones. The Labor Department will be run by a man whose interest in the field is dominated by a mania for cheap labor; the Environmental Protection Agency will be run by a virtual pass-through for fossil-fuel interests. Trump’s government will make policy by and for the rich and well-connected. As Politico reports, “the extent to which donors are stocking Trump’s administration is unparalleled in modern presidential history.” As Kudlow makes clear, Trumpism regards the fear that government might favor capital over labor or some other public interest as inherently nonsensical.

New York Magazine ‘The Wealthy Would Never Steal’ — A Credo for Trump’s Party By Jonathan Chait
Waking Up With Sam Harris #54 – Trumping the World (with James Kirchick)

Since Obama’s election in 2008 it has become fashionable amongst the conservative elite to pretend that they never were in favor of anything government might do. Not in favor of anything a government headed by a black Democratic president might do, which equates to not in favor of government, embracing anarchism from behind. Too bashful to look anarchy in the face, but heading down the road to anarchism all the same.

Now they find themselves with the reigns of power, all of the reigns of power, unexpectedly in their hands. These people have clearly voted for what they believe is a strong leader. People who want that leader to ignore the constitutional limitations on the office of president. People who want desperately to pretend that their opponents are the bad guys. The brownshirts. The people who want to destroy America. The truly surprising thing about the current crop of conservative Republicans isn’t that they are ignorant; as in, they don’t know that fascism was a right-wing ideology. That strong central leadership is one of the defining attributes of dictatorship. No, the surprising thing is that they know what the truth is, but simply deny it because they want the opposite to be true.

Willful ignorance.

I’ve seen this type of willful ignorance applied to atheism, to evolution, to climate change. But I never thought I’d see the day when they denied their own political ideology, their worship of the strong leader as being anything other than what it truthfully is. This is newspeak/newthink on a really frightening scale. They have to know that they are being false, but they simply lock that knowledge away and blithely pretend that white is black and black is white. I don’t know of any way to deal with this level of insincerity (I first noted in conservative pundits like William Kristol and Pat Buchanan) no way to deal with this level of denial of reality short of eradication. Open warfare. I’d love to hear a way to get through to people who have voluntarily shut their brains off. Please let me know if I’m missing something here.

I mean, they can’t be reasoned with. They simply redefine everything to mean the opposite of what it is for their own convenience. They not only lie to everyone around them, they lie to themselves and believe the lies. This is why Donald Trump is their current leader. He is the king of liars, leading a host of liars.

After eight tedious years of one wild-assed glassy-eye conspiracy theory after another, after nearly a decade of endless birthers and a parade of truthers and more goddamned lame-ass Benghazi reboots than the Batman franchise, after robot alien reptiles in rubber human suits, after Obama is a Muslim, Obama is gay, Obama went to Mars (no really, there are people who believe the CIA teleported Obama to Mars as a teenager, twice, and those silly sons of bitches write me letters), Obama killed Antonin Scalia, Obama has 39 different Social Security numbers, Obama secretly worships Satan, Obama is going to invade Texas, Obama was adopted, Obama’s wife is a man, Obama’s kids were stolen from Africa (because Obama’s wife is a man), Obama is a commie, Obama is a Nazi, Obama refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Obama is a time traveling super-villain here to gayify white Christian babies with his Magic Negro Ray of Chocolate Mojo, and etcetera, and etcetera, and etcetera up to the part where conservatives are actually floating the idea Obama is conspiring with Hillary Clinton to kidnap kids for some world-spanning Soros-funded pedophile wholesaler operating out of a pizza joint in Washington D.C (which they’ve figured out from “clues” they “deciphered” by reading John Podesta’s emails which were stolen by Russians and fenced via an international criminal organization run by a guy who actually is wanted on sexual assault charges), after 8 years of that, let’s not resort to the same defective Creation-Science based reasoning here. Please.

Stonekettle Station, Resolutions

The problem with #MAGA, this indefinable need to take America back to a previous era, is that America was never the place they believe it was. The problem is also deeper than that. America has a near-terminal case of amnesia when it comes to its own history.

America became someplace else after WWII. Before WWI, before the crash in ’29; before all of that, the US was mostly farms and light industrial manufacturing focused on delivering products to Americans who needed them. There were no interstates, no giant airports, no Military Industrial Complex. There were just farms and farmers and a few scattered cities that corresponded to centers of government or industrial manufacturing.

After WWII we became aware of our power. More importantly, our leaders became aware of it and used it to throw our weight around the globe, influencing other nations to enter our circle of friends, the people who would get rich off of our prosperity with us. Today we consume most of the production that the world generates, while paying little to nothing for it aside from letters of credit. Demanding what we want at the point of a gun, as we have done since the 80’s, is getting old now. The rest of the world is beginning not to care what we whiney Americans want, and they aren’t going to keep buying our debt.

The system which worked following WWII has come to it’s functional end. It is time for a new system to be born, and I don’t think the world is ready to take on that herculean task. I don’t think we can afford to wait, either. This change since WWII, this focus on the Military Industrial Complex and it’s servants in Washington D.C. are why Philip K. Dick’s stories have played so well in the last few decades. There is a madness there in his stories, a madness that the man himself suffered from profoundly. That madness is echoed in the world around us, the disconnection between what is real and what we want to be real. It is almost as if we didn’t win WWII. It is almost as if we… lost?

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

Hannah Arendt, “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951)

The future has not been written yet. There is still hope for the future. The errors of the past are revealed for us. Hindsight is always 20/20. If the Democrats had not let the Clintons control the party the way they did, if Hillary had allowed real competition at the top of the party and ticket, not forced an outsider to challenge her, if the people who want justice and equality from their system get up and join their local precinct meetings now, if the Democratic party itself embraces new technology to ramp up inclusion; then we’ll get candidates with a broad base of grassroots support rather than the crop of power brokers we currently have to pick through.

But that just deals with the open question of who to vote for in 2018 and 2020. That doesn’t get us through the next two years. Doesn’t get us through the harrowing times that await us on the other side of January 20th.

With The Art of War firmly in mind; Rather than meeting your enemy on their battlefield, pitch your tents where you want to fight. Make them fight on your battlefield, out in the open where greater numbers (and we have greater numbers than they do) will turn the tide of battle and we will be able to win handily.  That observation relies on the vast majority of Americans to take an interest in their own government. I’m not holding my breath on this occurring since Americans getting off their couches and doing anything proactive in the realm of politics would be an unprecedented act in the history of human governance.

Which is why I repeat the title of this post again, one last time.

Caveat Emptor; Buyer Beware

I have practiced this principle almost by rote for most of my adult life, having pretty much always been poor since leaving my hometown in Kansas. I can’t afford to be taken to the cleaners by shady dealers. I prefer to think of caveat emptor more as due diligence, ensuring that what is being promised is reality, making sure that what you are buying is actually what the seller claims it is. When money is tight and purchases are made on promises and shoe strings, you have to know that what you are buying is actually going to do the thing you want it to do.

I say all this, every single word of it that I’ve written on the subject of Donald J. Trump or his 3am rage tweeting alter-ego The Orange Hate-Monkey over this past year with the personal knowledge I have gained through experience. That we have elected a con-artist to the presidency.  That when you are forced to deal with a con-artist you keep your hands on your wallet and don’t agree to anything without seeing it first in writing; and even then, don’t let go of those purse-strings. Keep your legal representation on retainer and make a point of running every single thing the con-artist says to you past your counselor before responding in any fashion to him.

Above all, understand that you’ve already bought whatever it is he does while he has the office of the president in his control. If that knowledge keeps you up at night, then you are just beginning to glimpse the nightmares I’ve been having since November 8th.

I’ll see all of you at the polls in 2018. I hope.

The Electoral College Explained

If I never read one more report of there being a President-elect Trump, it will be too soon. I’m begging here, please. Please. This is fair warning. I will not be held responsible for blaming the messenger for the message when taking out my frustration on the next person who tells me this is a fact. Even the sitting President of the United States has referred to him as the President-elect, so it is somewhat understandable that reporting outlets and other even less well-informed sources would think that perhaps this is true.

It isn’t true. Yet.

Hand-in-hand with my frustration on that score, the media is full of stories of how the electoral college is not designed to reflect the will of the people perfectly, that the majority of the population should be expected to understand that their candidate lost an election even though they won it. That their candidate would not be the person who wins the votes of the electoral college, the body which elects the President-elect.

These observations are also untrue, and I will explain why both of these are facts, contrary to the numerous sources that report otherwise.

The electoral college has a long and troubled history; in fact, it wasn’t even in the first draft of the Constitution. Originally, congress was to select the president, but this was deemed too prone to intrigue and was seen as crippling the independence of the executive branch, making it reliant on congress. At least two of the original attendees of the convention favored direct popular election of the executive, including the author of the constitution, James Madison. This idea was sacrificed in order to make inclusion of the slave states palatable,

There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.

Something the defenders of the current electoral college should take better heed of. The numerous slaves in the Southern states, slaves that the Southern slave owners and state representatives wanted counted as people for the purpose of apportioning representation, would have skewed the college and congress towards the South, which the North objected to. The South wanted slaves counted as people, for the purpose of representation, but not counted as people, for the purpose of profiting off of their slave labor. The impasse over the problem of representation threatened the entire constitutional convention, much like the problem of slavery threatened the possibility American independence.

It was the invention of the three-fifths rule, a rule that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, that allowed for a compromise on representation, and through that, a compromise on the election of the office of president. Changes have been made along the way to the electoral college but the essence of the college itself remains the same; that essence being a safeguard against factions having undue sway over the selection of the executive for the government.

Not the people but the factions, the parties, were to be guarded against.

The electoral college is inherently set up to reflect the population of the United States as a whole, providing one elector for every seat in the House of Representatives plus one for every Senator. Add in the three electors for D.C. and you have the number of electors in the current electoral college.

However, there is a fly in this ointment.

The representation of the House has been kept artificially low for most of the modern age, it was fixed at 435 in 1911. This has lead to an ever-increasing number of people represented by a single seat in congress, a ridiculous number of people that the framers would never have envisioned as acceptable. The original minimum population per house seat was 30,000; but the current representatives for the House each represent about half a million people, at least, with the higher population districts containing about three-quarters of a million people.

This is important, because this is how you get to the point where a candidate can win by well over a million votes in the popular election, and yet lose the election by electoral count. The electoral college is rigged against the popular vote being reflected in the makeup of the college, because the electors are not properly apportioned to the populations of the various states. For that matter, the House of Representatives no longer serves its function as a representation of the people, because it too is not apportioned correctly even though it was set up specifically to serve this purpose.

This means that there will be a House of Representatives of several thousand people if we change the rules back to what they should be. I do understand the suggestion I’m making, and I think it is a good idea. I’m betting we’ll get a better representation of the cross-section of America if we do this, ending a lot of the talk about disconnected Washington politics in the process. Will it be more difficult to get important work done? I doubt that it can get more difficult than it is already.

This latest travesty of an election is not even the first time this century that a candidate for President received more popular votes and yet lost the election as it is calculated in the college, and still I run across statements from apparently well educated people who insist that these kinds of outcomes are to be expected.

I beg to differ. If the system worked as it was intended, then as a general rule the electors would reflect almost perfectly the will of the people, provided that the will of the people is not being swayed by factions with too great a control over the system.

Factions with too great a control over the system.

It is patently obvious to anyone looking at the election results for 2016 that this election was horribly flawed on many levels. However, the presumptive winner is unquestionably the least fit person ever to be put forward as the next president, erroneously called the president-elect before the electors have even cast their votes (slated to occur December 19th) if ever there was an election where cooler heads should be allowed to prevail, this is it. Thoughtful deliberation might actually be the only thing that can save this country now.

The hope that the electoral college represents something real may seem pretty frail, but I’ll take it. I sincerely hope that it is not the formality that so many stormtrumpers insist that it is.

In any case, anyone who says the electoral college is not intended to reflect the will of the people is lying, because it was the intent of the framers to do just that. It falls to us now to insist that our will be respected, and not the manipulations of the various states and factions who wish to control this country through the selection of our next president.


Well, the votes are in and they say the Birther-in-Chief has earned the title. We won’t know for sure until the ballots are certified on Jan. 6th, but really there is little doubt that the electoral college failed to do its job on the one occasion that its job was crystal clear.

Just read back over the posts on this blog. Authoritarianism vs. Humanism. The Orange Hate-Monkey. The various MAGA posts (more of those to come) including On Presidential Tax Returns. When I penned Hillary for President?  I made the observation,

I will be voting for the Democrat, because the Republican party has apparently gone over to the magical thinkers, and I don’t believe in magic. The entirety of the Republican Party has been dispatched on a fool’s errand by the Tea Party’s co-option. Until they can figure out who they are and what they stand for, I don’t have the time of day for the party as a whole. If they were to nominate someone who accepted science, wasn’t knee-jerk opposed to immigration, accepted that women have a right to medical care including abortion services, if they nominated someone who didn’t espouse belief in Reaganomics, I might have to revise my opinion of them. I don’t see much chance of that since none of the more than 10 potentials vying for the nomination meet this criteria.

Not even in my wildest dreams did I think they would be so stupid as to nominate a lunatic as their candidate. One that pretended to a lunatic, sure, not an actual lunatic. But the OHM, he’s a true believer, a nutcase. If he isn’t, he’s convinced his followers that he is, and they’ll back him even if he does shoot people in the street himself. Which makes him the equal of every tin-pot dictator that ever strutted his hour upon the stage…

But it doesn’t make him eligible to be president.  He isn’t eligible to be president. 

Undiagnosed mental instability aside, he refuses to comply with the constitution’s emoluments clause. Isn’t going to divest himself of his businesses. He has named appointees who will clearly gut every department of the federal government just based on their stated previous desires. Only the military will be preserved; and that will, of course, be enlarged. He’s planning to profit form being president, this swindler of a man, and he isn’t even being coy about it. We cannot allow him to take office. If he takes office, we cannot allow him to do anything unchallenged. The racist gauntlet that the GOP forced Obama to go through for six out of his 8 years has got to pale by comparison, or we will all be branded as racists along with these white supremacists who are riding into power along with the OHM.

This cannot be allowed to stand, but more on that after the holidays.

This addendum is here for one purpose and one purpose only. That purpose is to point out that the Electoral College has failed to do its only job in the one election in history that it could possibly have proved its worth. With this travesty of an election in the rear-view mirror it now becomes painfully obvious that we must amend the constitution to remove the Electoral College, or we have to legislatively render it toothless in every state legislature in the US. Since it won’t do the job intended, can’t serve the purpose intended, it needs to be replaced with a simple majority of the popular vote, or legislation that compels them to vote for the winner of the popular vote. That is the only reasonable answer left to us.

Video from National Popular Vote! National Popular Vote! What It Is – Why It’s Needed

A study released this week demonstrates that the best way to influence your representative is to hire a representative to visit him, or go yourself.

It is worth noting that the findings that paid representatives visiting your congressional representative for you has positive results is based in part on the reports of those same paid representatives. No conflict of interest there, I’m sure.

But what this report does show is exactly what I said in the body of this article about the imposed limitation of 435 members placed on congress by congress itself. This is one of the easiest things that we could fix, and it would fix the electoral college at the same time.  Increase the size of congress, make the representatives more focused on communicating with their much smaller groups of constituents, much more replaceable by those same groups.

A constituent base of 30,000 people means that my specific region of Austin would have their own representative in congress. A larger congress would be impossible to control externally by factional politics. It would lead to the formation of regional parties and a dilution of power in Washington D.C. We’d need to build facilities to house the additional several thousand representatives, which will be a windfall for the states and Washington itself. I don’t see how this works out as bad in any real way.

So rather than paying more money to influence my congressman I propose we pay the congressmen less money and multiply their number by about a magnitude. Require them to listen to us if they want to keep their jobs. As a bonus, the electoral college will increase in size and we won’t see a repeat of this last election again. 

On Presidential Tax Returns

We have no way to know the Real Estate Developer’s leverage position. We have no way to know because he won’t release his financials and we have to take this liar’s word on everything he says. Six bankruptcies. SIX.  “No personal bankruptcies” means nothing, and every businessman worth his salt knows this.

This is his standard of practice. His business model. Load his corporations with debt, loot the assets, declare bankruptcy. These sort of revelations should make his supporters shut up about his business acumen, because who wants a fraud like this leading our country? Weirdly his supporters seem as impervious to facts as the Birther-in-Chief himself.

Planet Money Episode 726: Terms of the Debate September 27, 2016

As an aside, I love the NPR Politics​ podcast, the podcast that inspired this Planet Money episode. Love it. One little problem. I can’t link individual episodes, just the page with the latest on the top (well, you can embed them now) which makes the podcast really hard to share. IF the page was like the NPR​ Planet Money​ page, this would not be a problem.

On The Other Hand their general weekly podcasts make me parse the news more closely than I feel comfortable doing on this blog when it comes to linking their feeds here directly.  I’d have to go through every sentence and pontificate as to why I disagree with this or that observation.  Just go to the feed and listen to it yourself.  Make your own judgments.


PBS NewsHour – Why seeing Trump’s tax returns really matters – Sep 29, 2016

The real crime is not that he pays no income tax. No, the real crime is no Real Estate Developer pays income tax. This is because congress loves liars and fraudsters and hands them some of the best benefits available at their discretion.

But that isn’t the half of it. His supporters don’t want to know any facts about their candidate. They have been plugging their ears and humming as loud as possible for over a year now, hoping against hope that this guy will do the things he says he’ll do, counting on him to do the things he says he’ll do, and they don’t want to know any of the ugly details involved in getting the things they want.

So when the argument is made that he’d be stupid to release his tax returns, they agree with that. Because they can look at themselves in the mirror the morning after and say “I never knew he was going to murder 11 million people. If I had known that I would never have voted for him.” The lie is, they could have known that if they had not willfully blinded themselves.

Just as the average German did when they voted for the NSDAP.


Revealed this week (brace yourselves, this is going to keep happening) the Orange Hate-Monkey has probably not paid income taxes for about twenty years.

PBS NewsHour – What do three pages of Trump tax returns show us? – Oct 2, 2016

In a lengthy New York Times article, it is revealed that his losses in 1995 could have lent him a tax shelter for 18 years. But that isn’t the half of it. As this article on Vox points out, what is in the tax returns is even worse. We know it is even worse because the Birther-in-Chief hasn’t released his tax returns yet.

Patience.  The other shoe will drop.  Eventually.


After the election was handed to the Orange Hate-Monkey on a platter, whether that platter was of Russian or FBI manufacture has yet to be determined, his spokeswoman stepped forward to explain that Mr. Trump has no intention of ever releasing his financials. This announcement reverses several months of excuse-making which Trump engaged in, and confirms his intentions to profit from his time in the office of the President in ways that no previous holder of the office would have ever dreamed of.

Trump cares nothing for the future of this country. He was impeachable from the moment he took the oath of office because he perjured himself in taking it. He is already subverting the constitution in violation of his oath. His raping of the country has begun and will continue until we stop him.

Last night at midnight, the Trump Administration took the White House petition site, We The People, offline.

Since taking office 11 months ago, 17 petitions have gathered more than the requisite 100,000 signatures each requiring Trump to address them.

He has responded to precisely none — including the largest and most popular petition in the history of the government site, “Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”

America, you have your answer.

Stonekettle Station, Dec. 20, 2017