Corporations Do Not Need a Huge Tax Cut

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,940
S&P 500: 2,626
Nasdaq  Comp.6,824:
Russell 2000:1,546
Thursday,  Nov. 30, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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       I headlined that Nov 16, and it deserves repeating again.
      Don’t take my word for it, listen what John Bogle, founder of the $4,4 trillion Vanguard Group, largest provider of mutual funds, second largest provider of exchange traded funds (ETFs) thinks.
       He told Bloomberg News the tax bill is a “moral Abomination.”
Corporations have so much money now they don’t know what to do with it, Bogle says, adding they aren’t investing in plant and equipment, in innovation, they’re buying back their own stock to help its price.
      Corporate profits after taxes are the highest they have ever been compared to GDP going back to 1929, Bogle explains, adding wages are at the lowest level versus GDP in 15 years.
      “So, we are helping people who are doing very well, and doing nothing for people who are doing  very badly…It’s just the unfairness, Bogle says.
       “I’m all for capitalism,” Bogle concludes, I’m a capitalist, but there is such a thing as too much.”
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       Modest cuts over time, fine. Draconian cuts that are permanent is overreach,
and in truth designed to create such a great running deficit,  necessitating drastic cuts to education, the future of our environment, social programs designed to improve lives of  people who cannot “buy” their comfort level, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  That’s what this is all about, it’s the agenda of the far right and has been going back to the Johnson and Roosevelt presidencies.
       More and more, we are headed for a  corporatocracy.   
       Looking out 10 years from now, the availability of jobs people are qualified for will  vanish considerably in face of additional automation, computer algorithms and Artificial Intelligence.   While corporations and shareholders will initially benefit from fewer people needed to perform tasks, the long range is bearish –  Who will have money to buy their products and services.
       Now is the time to prepare for that crisis – IT IS HERE NOW – and growing  at warp speed.
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      This stands to be a wild week for Senate efforts to craft an acceptable tax bill.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  believes the  bill as it stands will stimulate economic activity in 2018, but that’s it.  Bloomberg reports the OECD forecasts GDP growth of 2.5 percent in 2018 following a 2.2 percent rise this year.  GDP will cool to 2.1 percent in 2019, clearly less than the Trump administration’s projections of a  sustained GDP growth of 3.0 percent.
       Presently, six Senators are on the fence: Sen. Daines (Mont.), Sen. Johnson (Wis.), Sen. Corker (Tenn.), Sen. Collins (Maine) Sen. Flake. (Ariz.), Sen. Lankford (Okla.), Sen. McCain (Ariz.), Sen Moran (Kan.), Sen. Murkowski (Alaska).
       Those in doubt raise an issue with not enough of a break for pass through corporations, partnerships and LLC’s,  inclusion of the ACA mandate, and the impact on the deficit.
        According to Bloomberg, the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on the proposed bill at 2:30 p.m. today, where 12 Republic and 11 Democrats will decide whether to send it to the Senate floor where further debate will take place, followed on Wednesday and Thursday by  a “vote-a-rama,”where any senator can offer an amendment. This can be chaotic as Democrats can offer amendments designed to slow or derail passage. 
        Senate Republicans need  50 votes for passage before sending it back to the House Conference Committee where it is tweaked before sending it to the President who may sign it or veto it.
EARNINGS
      S&P 500 earnings
came in at a plus 6.3% in Q3 with Energy and Semiconductors leading the pack; and Insurance companies the big losers.  Factset.com projects a gain for Q4 and Q1 of 2018 of +10.0% and +10.6%
 percent respectively.  The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is 18 compared with a 10-year average of 14.1.
       In addition to hopes for tax reform, the Street is confident earnings will eventually close the gap between prices and earnings, a ratio that currently indicates significant overvaluation. The U.S. economy continues to expand, though not with all sectors in sync.
THE STOCK MARKET
       The big question for the stock market is, how much has the rise in prices discounted passage of a tax bill. The S&P 500 is up 20% in the last 12 months. That suggests the Street is betting on passage, leaving no consideration for a failure to pass.
        The market has been telling us to expect passage. Usually, the market is right.  This is such an unbalanced, unfair, and unwise bill, it is possible the Street may have it wrong, or it won’t pass without significant modifications taking it into 2018.

        According to Mic’s Wil Drabold,  a majority of small business owners oppose the bill, as do a majority of Americans polled. What’s more economists unanimously believe it would balloon the federal debt. Voters in Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, home states of key senators oppose it, as do seaboard states California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
      Right now the Street is beginning to worry about a government shutdown  a week from Friday, December 8, meaning next week Congress will be working on a resolution to pass a spending bill and keep the government open.
      The big political question is, who would get blamed for a shut down ?  The Republicans will need eight Democrat votes to reach 60 to avoid a shutdown.   If they don’t get  enough votes the government shuts down.  Do Americans blame the Dems, or do they blame the party in power, the party that controls both houses, the presidency, the U.S. Supreme Court, Fox News, and indirectly Breitfart News.
      What does a shutdown mean ?  The last shutdown was October 2013, when nonessential government services, including NASA, museums, national parks were closed, Veterans benefits and assistance disrupted and 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay.
      The Post Office still delivers mail, Social Security checks go out, as do food stamps (SNAP).
       The 2013 shutdown, forced by the Republicans caused the government $24 billion in lost revenue.
       I would not be surprised if a shutdown happens, but be surprised if it lasts for more than a couple weeks.
TODAY
       It’s really up to the Senate vote.
      If it passes, I suspect a number of traders and institutions would use the sharp rally following the announcement to lock in profits. 
        Failure to pass this time around would trigger a brief selloff, but buyers would creep back  in in hopes the bill will pass in 2018 after amendments.  Failure to pass then would hammer stock prices, big time.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,807; S&P 500:2,613; Nasdaq Comp.:6,756
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA: 24,017; S&P 500:26,34; Nasdaq Comp.:6,835

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
IMHO: THIS TAX BILL IS A DISGRACE. IT WIDENS THE GAP BETWEEN UPPER INCOME LEVELS AND THE GREAT MAJORITY OF AMERICANS. 
       MAKING CORPORATION TAX CUTS PERMANENT ARE DESIGNED TO CREATE A MASSIVE DEFICIT, FAR GREATER THAN THE ADMINISTRATION’S $1.5 TRILLION.  
      WHY ? IT PAVES THE WAY FOR HUGE SLASHES IN SOCIAL SERVICE BENEFITS IN THE FUTURE,  INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN’T PAY ITS BILLS AND CAN’T RAISE TAXES TO DO SO. REPUBLICANS CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH TOTAL CONTROL.
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):    DOWNSIDE RISK FOR WOMEN OF DISCLOSURES OF SEXUAL IMPROPRIETIES BY MEN: I am 100% for exposing these predators, it’s long overdue and worth the price of what may be the result.  Clearly there will be less abuse in and out of the workplace, but it may result in less willingness to hire and/or promote women. There will be a backlash, but women have demonstrated the ability to persevere against great odds before and I suppose after such backlash and these creeps will get what’s coming to them.
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POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGH:  Is Michael Flynn now cooperating with the Mueller Commission ? According the Daily Beast, The New York Times and other publications,  Flynn has withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, indicating he may be cooperating with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III.
      Joint defense agreements  are pacts  between attorneys  for multiple targets in criminal cases where information is shared while maintaining the confidences of all clients, avoiding conflicts of interest, comparing notes, dividing tasks and avoiding duplication. According to the Daily Beast, the main advantage of these agreements is information is protected by attorney client privilege in which the decide to  help each other by not cooperating with the authorities.  By withdrawing from the joint defense agreement, Flynn may have decided to cut a deal with Muller in exchange for leniency  covering a host of crimes.
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      I keep Fox Business News TV on by my desk during the day, since it has better data coverage than CNBC. I have it on “mute” since I can’t endure the senseless Republican hype.  Neil Cavuto hosts a portion of the show. While decidedly right-leaning, Neil is tolerable compared with his co-host, Stuart Varney, Varney & Co, who is constantly waxing right wing blither.
       I was a frequent guest analyst on CNBC-TV in the 1990s. It was different then. It was one-on-one with a lot of questions, but an independent without major firm backing like me had a chance to get some visibility.  The times Cavuto interviewed me, I sensed he was Republican, but not hard core, which is also the case today. He’s good, not given to partyline hype.
       What’s more, for some time, I sensed he was uncomfortable with the Trump administration and last week it came out per a report from “The HILL.”  Trump couldn’t resist tweeting about  LaVar Ball and Senator Jeff Flake, at a time more important presidential issues demanded attention.  Cavuto, criticized Trump for “using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter.” “Is it really necessary,” he asked, adding, “Keep tweeting stuff like that, Mr. President, and those tax cuts just could be toast.” Cavuto then said, “the last time I checked, you are the president of the United States, why don’t you act like it ?”
      Whoa ! Why would a broadcaster with 25 years experience, a big name, in a comfortable time slot, lecture the president, and possibly rankle his party ?  Is this just another sign that Trump’s support is crumbling.
      Neil is a throwback to the days when most Republicans were more reasonable, not extremists. It’s good to see him say, “Enough.”
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SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Bill Vote Followed by Government Shutdown Vote

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,836
S&P 500: 2,637
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,912
Russell 2000:1,536
Wednesday,  Nov. 29, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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      This stands to be a wild week for Senate efforts to craft an acceptable tax bill.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  believes the  bill as it stands will stimulate economic activity in 2018, but that’s it.  Bloomberg reports the OECD forecasts GDP growth of 2.5 percent in 2018 following a 2.2 percent rise this year.  GDP will cool to 2.1 percent in 2019, clearly less than the Trump administration’s projections of a  sustained GDP growth of 3.0 percent.
       Presently, six Senators are on the fence: Sen. Daines (Mont.), Sen. Johnson (Wis.), Sen. Corker (Tenn.), Sen. Collins (Maine) Sen. Flake. (Ariz.), Sen. Lankford (Okla.), Sen. McCain (Ariz.), Sen Moran (Kan.), Sen. Murkowski (Alaska).
       Those in doubt raise an issue with not enough of a break for pass through corporations, partnerships and LLC’s,  inclusion of the ACA mandate, and the impact on the deficit.
        According to Bloomberg, the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on the proposed bill at 2:30 p.m. today, where 12 Republic and 11 Democrats will decide whether to send it to the Senate floor where further debate will take place, followed on Wednesday and Thursday by  a “vote-a-rama,”where any senator can offer an amendment. This can be chaotic as Democrats can offer amendments designed to slow or derail passage. 
        Senate Republicans need  50 votes for passage before sending it back to the House Conference Committee where it is tweaked before sending it to the President who may sign it or veto it.
EARNINGS
      S&P 500 earnings
came in at a plus 6.3% in Q3 with Energy and Semiconductors leading the pack; and Insurance companies the big losers.  Factset.com projects a gain for Q4 and Q1 of 2018 of +10.0% and +10.6%
 percent respectively.  The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is 18 compared with a 10-year average of 14.1.
       In addition to hopes for tax reform, the Street is confident earnings will eventually close the gap between prices and earnings, a ratio that currently indicates significant overvaluation. The U.S. economy continues to expand, though not with all sectors in sync.
THE STOCK MARKET
       The big question for the stock market is, how much has the rise in prices discounted passage of a tax bill. The S&P 500 is up 20% in the last 12 months. That suggests the Street is betting on passage, leaving no consideration for a failure to pass.
        The market has been telling us to expect passage. Usually, the market is right.  This is such an unbalanced, unfair, and unwise bill, it is possible the Street may have it wrong, or it won’t pass without significant modifications taking it into 2018.

      If it does pass, I suspect a number of traders and institutions would use the sharp rally following the announcement to lock in profits. 
        Failure to pass this time around would trigger a brief selloff, but buyers would creep in in hopes the bill will pass in 2018 after amendments.  Failure to pass then would hammer stock prices.
        According to Mic’s Wil Drabold,  a majority of small business owners oppose the bill, as do a majority of Americans polled. What’s more economists unanimously believe it would balloon the federal debt. Voters in Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, home states of key senators oppose it, as do seaboard states California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
      Right now the Street is beginning to worry about a government shutdown  a week from Friday, December 8, meaning next week Congress will be working on a resolution to pass a spending bill and keep the government open.
      The big political question is, who would get blamed for a shut down ?  The Republicans will need eight Democrat votes to reach 60 to avoid a shutdown.   If they don’t get  enough votes the government shuts down.  Do Americans blame the Dems, or do they blame the party in power, the party that controls both houses, the presidency, the U.S. Supreme Court, Fox News, and indirectly Breitfart News.
      What does a shutdown mean ?  The last shutdown was October 2013, when nonessential government services, including NASA, museums, national parks were closed, Veterans benefits and assistance disrupted and 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay.
      The Post Office still delivers mail, Social Security checks go out, as do food stamps (SNAP).
       The 2013 shutdown, forced by the Republicans caused the government $24 billion in lost revenue.
       I would not be surprised if a shutdown happens, but be surprised if it lasts for more than a couple weeks.

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:2323,761; S&P 500:2,617; Nasdaq Comp.:6.891
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA: 23,922; S&P 500:2,636; Nasdaq Comp.:6,937

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
IMHO: THIS TAX BILL IS A DISGRACE. IT WIDENS THE GAP BETWEEN UPPER INCOME LEVELS AND THE GREAT MAJORITY OF AMERICANS. 
       MAKING CORPORATION TAX CUTS PERMANENT ARE DESIGNED TO CREATE A MASSIVE DEFICIT, FAR GREATER THAN THE ADMINISTRATION’S $1.5 TRILLION.  
      WHY ? IT PAVES THE WAY FOR HUGE SLASHES IN SOCIAL SERVICE BENEFITS IN THE FUTURE,  INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN’T PAY ITS BILLS AND CAN’T RAISE TAXES TO DO SO. REPUBLICANS CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH TOTAL CONTROL.
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POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGH:  Is Michael Flynn now cooperating with the Mueller Commission ? According the Daily Beast, The New York Times and other publications,  Flynn has withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, indicating he may be cooperating with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III.
      Joint defense agreements  are pacts  between attorneys  for multiple targets in criminal cases where information is shared while maintaining the confidences of all clients, avoiding conflicts of interest, comparing notes, dividing tasks and avoiding duplication. According to the Daily Beast, the main advantage of these agreements is information is protected by attorney client privilege in which the decide to  help each other by not cooperating with the authorities.  By withdrawing from the joint defense agreement, Flynn may have decided to cut a deal with Muller in exchange for leniency  covering a host of crimes.
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      I keep Fox Business News TV on by my desk during the day, since it has better data coverage than CNBC. I have it on “mute” since I can’t endure the senseless Republican hype.  Neil Cavuto hosts a portion of the show. While decidedly right-leaning, Neil is tolerable compared with his co-host, Stuart Varney, Varney & Co, who is constantly waxing right wing blither.
       I was a frequent guest analyst on CNBC-TV in the 1990s. It was different then. It was one-on-one with a lot of questions, but an independent without major firm backing like me had a chance to get some visibility.  The times Cavuto interviewed me, I sensed he was Republican, but not hard core, which is also the case today. He’s good, not given to partyline hype.
       What’s more, for some time, I sensed he was uncomfortable with the Trump administration and last week it came out per a report from “The HILL.”  Trump couldn’t resist tweeting about  LaVar Ball and Senator Jeff Flake, at a time more important presidential issues demanded attention.  Cavuto, criticized Trump for “using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter.” “Is it really necessary,” he asked, adding, “Keep tweeting stuff like that, Mr. President, and those tax cuts just could be toast.” Cavuto then said, “the last time I checked, you are the president of the United States, why don’t you act like it ?”
      Whoa ! Why would a broadcaster with 25 years experience, a big name, in a comfortable time slot, lecture the president, and possibly rankle his party ?  Is this just another sign that Trump’s support is crumbling.
      Neil is a throwback to the days when most Republicans were more reasonable, not extremists. It’s good to see him say, “Enough.”
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SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIG Week for Senate Vote and Chaotic Vote-a-Rama

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,580
S&P 500: 2,601
Nasdaq  Comp.6,878:
Russell 2000:1,514
Tuesday,  Nov. 28, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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      This stands to be a wild week for Senate efforts to craft an acceptable tax bill.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  believes the  bill as it stands will stimulate economic activity in 2018, but that’s it.  Bloomberg reports the OECD forecasts GDP growth of 2.5 percent in 2018 following a 2.2 percent rise this year.  GDP will cool to 2.1 percent in 2019, clearly less than the Trump administration’s projections of a  sustained GDP growth of 3.0 percent.
       Presently, six Senators are on the fence: Sen. Daines (Mont.), Sen. Johnson (Wis.), Sen. Corker (Tenn.), Sen. Collins (Maine) Sen. Flake. (Ariz.), Sen. Lankford (Okla.), Sen. McCain (Ariz.), Sen Moran (Kan.), Sen. Murkowski (Alaska).
       Those in doubt raise an issue with not enough of a break for pass through corporations, partnerships and LLC’s,  inclusion of the ACA mandate, and the impact on the deficit.
        According to Bloomberg, the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to meet on the proposed bill at 2:30 p.m. today, where 12 Republic and 11 Democrats will decide whether to send it to the Senate floor where further debate will take place, followed on Wednesday and Thursday by  a “vote-a-rama,”where any senator can offer an amendment. This can be chaotic as Democrats can offer amendments designed to slow or derail passage. 
        Senate Republicans need  50 votes for passage before sending it back to the House Conference Committee where it is tweaked before sending it to the President who may sign it or veto it.
EARNINGS
      S&P 500 earnings
came in at a plus 6.3% in Q3 with Energy and Semiconductors leading the pack; and Insurance companies the big losers.  Factset.com projects a gain for Q4 and Q1 of 2018 of +10.0% and +10.6%
 percent respectively.  The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is 18 compared with a 10-year average of 14.1.
       In addition to hopes for tax reform, the Street is confident earnings will eventually close the gap between prices and earnings, a ratio that currently indicates significant overvaluation. The U.S. economy continues to expand, though not with all sectors in sync.
THE STOCK MARKET
       The big question for the stock market is, how much has the rise in prices discounted passage of the tax bill. The S&P 500 is up 20% in the last 12 months. That suggests the Street is betting on passage, leaving no consideration for a failure to pass.
        Passage should result is a brief surge in prices, since I suspect a number of traders and institutions would use the sharp rally to lock in profits.   Obviously, failure to pass would trigger a nasty free fall. 
        Corporate earnings are projected to increase 10% over the coming year, however, new projections generated after passage of massive tax cuts should generate upward projections from that level.
         Proposed tax cuts have been accompanied by a lot of hype about who gets what. The hype will continue if the bill is passed until reality sets in that only a few will benefit significantly.
         This has been what I call a “notch-up” market, with institutions buying in response to hopes for tax cuts, but also in response to earnings growth and a stable economy.
          It becomes a question of valuations.  Has all this been discounted by the rise in prices ?
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA: ; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
IMHO: THIS TAX BILL IS A DISGRACE. IT WIDENS THE GAP BETWEEN UPPER INCOME LEVELS AND THE GREAT MAJORITY OF AMERICANS. 
       MAKING CORPORATION TAX CUTS PERMANENT ARE DESIGNED TO CREATS A MASSIVE DEFICIT, FAR GREATER THAN THE ADMINISTRATION’S $1.5 TRILLION.  
      WHY ? IT PAVES THE WAY FOR HUGE SLASHES IN SOCIAL SERVICE BENEFITS IN THE FUTURE,  INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN’T PAY ITS BILLS AND CAN’T RAISE TAXES TO DO SO. REPUBLICANS CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH TOTAL CONTROL.
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POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGH:  Is Michael Flynn now cooperating with the Mueller Commission ? According the Daily Beast, The New York Times and other publications,  Flynn has withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, indicating he may be cooperating with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III.
      Joint defense agreements  are pacts  between attorneys  for multiple targets in criminal cases where information is shared while maintaining the confidences of all clients, avoiding conflicts of interest, comparing notes, dividing tasks and avoiding duplication. According to the Daily Beast, the main advantage of these agreements is information is protected by attorney client privilege in which the decide to  help each other by not cooperating with the authorities.  By withdrawing from the joint defense agreement, Flynn may have decided to cut a deal with Muller in exchange for leniency  covering a host of crimes.
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      I keep Fox Business News TV on by my desk during the day, since it has better data coverage than CNBC. I have it on “mute” since I can’t endure the senseless Republican hype.  Neil Cavuto hosts a portion of the show. While decidedly right-leaning, Neil is tolerable compared with his co-host, Stuart Varney, Varney & Co, who is constantly waxing right wing blither.
       I was a frequent guest analyst on CNBC-TV in the 1990s. It was different then. It was one-on-one with a lot of questions, but an independent without major firm backing like me had a chance to get some visibility.  The times Cavuto interviewed me, I sensed he was Republican, but not hard core, which is also the case today. He’s good, not given to partyline hype.
       What’s more, for some time, I sensed he was uncomfortable with the Trump administration and last week it came out per a report from “The HILL.”  Trump couldn’t resist tweeting about  LaVar Ball and Senator Jeff Flake, at a time more important presidential issues demanded attention.  Cavuto, criticized Trump for “using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter.” “Is it really necessary,” he asked, adding, “Keep tweeting stuff like that, Mr. President, and those tax cuts just could be toast.” Cavuto then said, “the last time I checked, you are the president of the United States, why don’t you act like it ?”
      Whoa ! Why would a broadcaster with 25 years experience, a big name, in a comfortable time slot, lecture the president, and possibly rankle his party ?  Is this just another sign that Trump’s support is crumbling.
      Neil is a throwback to the days when most Republicans were more reasonable, not extremists. It’s good to see him say, “Enough.”

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flynn Cutting a Deal ?

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,557
S&P 500: 2,602
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,889
Russell 2000:1,519
Friday,  Nov. 27, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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      S&P 500 earnings
came in at a plus 6.3% in Q3 with Energy and Semiconductors leading the pack; and Insurance companies the big losers.  Factset.com projects a gain for Q4 and Q1 of 2018 of +10.0% and +10.6%
 percent respectively.  The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is 18 compared with a 10-year average of 14.1.
       In addition to hopes for tax reform, the Street is confident earnings will eventually close the gap between prices and earnings, a ratio that currently indicates significant overvaluation. The U.S. economy continues to expand, though not with all sectors in sync. 
        This is old news. The only good news as far at the Street is concerned would be passage of tax reform, and that is not a given.  But bad news lurks, coming out of the Mueller commission.  It looks like Michael Flynn may have decided to cut a deal with Mueller, and that would be trouble for a lot of people in addition to Trump (see below).
         If news along these lines threatens the passage of  tax cuts, the market will take a big hit.

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,523; S&P 500:2,601; Nasdaq Comp.:6,880
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA: 23,617; S&P 500:2,605; Nasdaq Comp.:6,892

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGH:  Is Michael Flynn now cooperating with the Mueller Commission ? According the Daily Beast, The New York Times and other publications,  Flynn has withdrawn from a joint defense agreement, indicating he may be cooperating with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III.
      Joint defense agreements  are pacts  between attorneys  for multiple targets in criminal cases where information is shared while maintaining the confidences of all clients, avoiding conflicts of interest, comparing notes, dividing tasks and avoiding duplication. According to the Daily Beast, the main advantage of these agreements is information is protected by attorney client privilege in which the decide to  help each other by not cooperating with the authorities.  By withdrawing from the joint defense agreement, Flynn may have decided to cut a deal with Muller in exchange for leniency  covering a host of crimes.
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      I keep Fox Business News TV on by my desk during the day, since it has better data coverage than CNBC. I have it on “mute” since I can’t endure the senseless Republican hype.  Neil Cavuto hosts a portion of the show. While decidedly right-leaning, Neil is tolerable compared with his co-host, Stuart Varney, Varney & Co, who is constantly waxing right wing blither.
       I was a frequent guest analyst on CNBC-TV in the 1990s. It was different then. It was one-on-one with a lot of questions, but an independent without major firm backing like me had a chance to get some visibility.  The times Cavuto interviewed me, I sensed he was Republican, but not hard core, which is also the case today. He’s good, not given to partyline hype.
       What’s more, for some time, I sensed he was uncomfortable with the Trump administration and last week it came out per a report from “The HILL.”  Trump couldn’t resist tweeting about  LaVar Ball and Senator Jeff Flake, at a time more important presidential issues demanded attention.  Cavuto, criticized Trump for “using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter.” “Is it really necessary,” he asked, adding, “Keep tweeting stuff like that, Mr. President, and those tax cuts just could be toast.” Cavuto then said, “the last time I checked, you are the president of the United States, why don’t you act like it ?”
      Whoa ! Why would a broadcaster with 25 years experience, a big name, in a comfortable time slot, lecture the president, and possibly rankle his party ?  Is this just another sign that Trump’s support is crumbling.
      Neil is a throwback to the days when most Republicans were more reasonable, not extremists. It’s good to see him say, “Enough.”

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Hope Hicks, Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael T. Flynn – Michael G. Flynn ( son)  – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOMC Announcement 2:00p.m. Today

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,590
S&P 500: 2,599
Nasdaq  Comp.:6.862
Russell 2000:1,518
Wednesday,  Nov. 22, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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No change here. If you read it, go down to “TODAY”

This is a short workweek with the market closed Thursday and open for a half day Friday. Most of the big hitters will be wrapping things up before noon Wednesday and taking the looong weekend.
      The algos will take over, they run the show anyhow, just in case something happens to cause indigestion.
       Administration hype on Tax cuts hog center stage, as the administration tries to convince Congress and America it is a good deal.  Traders are scrambling to get in ahead of any tax cut rally that will accompany passage. Investment publishers and brokers will pump out lists of stocks to buy that will benefit from tax reform. Unfortunately, most of the stocks on these lists will have already moved up sharply.
        It all seems too good to be true.  If the tax package is passed before Year-end, I will be surprised.
        I Can accept a modest tax cut for corporations, but not a huge tax cut that is permanent.  That’s overreach !

Public corporations have done well over the last 8 years with borrowing costs next to zero. Flush with cash, these companies have seen their stock price soar, the big driver being their own buyback of stock.
      Top management has reaped a bonanza as stock perks flourished.
      Looking ahead, what tools are left if taxes are slashed while we are in an economic expansion and interest rates too low to be reduced further to stimulate an economy that has fallen into recession.
      Oh, with tax cuts we simply will never slip into a recession ?
      Nonsense !  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have been with a Republican in the White House, expect it to be 10 out of 11 before 2020.
      What we are seeing now is Wall Street running the table with highly leveraged positions, which is fine if values were reasonable, but they are not.
      At market bottoms, investors only want to sell (before stocks drop to zero). At tops, they are driven to BUY, because the party seems like it will never end.
       Many things change over the years, that phenom never has.
TODAY
      The FOMC minutes will be released today at 2:00 a.m. outlining the discussion at the Fed’s meeting last month. With the strength in jobs and an unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, odds strongly favor a fed funds rate bump up to  1.25 – 1.50 percent in December.  Unless the economy dips, expect three more rate increases in 2018.
       So far nothing has slowed this bull market now halfway into its ninth year.  That includes rising interest rates,  off-and-on prospects for war with North Korea, an administration on the verge of implosion, and an overpriced stock market.
        Bull markets tend to ignore mounting negatives.
        At some point, the Street will begin taking profits, and volatility will set in before a correction. If the Street senses in advance a tax bill won’t happen, the correction will begin. If the tax bill passes, expect an initial surge followed by a turn down. Much of the 21%  rise in the S&P 500 over the last 12 months, has been in expectation of a huge tax cut for corporations, less so for individuals.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,580; S&P 500:2,596; Nasdaq Comp.:6,858
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,647; S&P 500:2,603; Nasdaq Comp.:6,875

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Special Counsel Mueller zeroing in ?   Big announcements looming ?
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TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Cut Mania ! Careful !

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,430
S&P 500: 2,582
Nasdaq  Comp.6,790:
Russell 2000:1,503
Tuesday,  Nov. 21, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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This is a short workweek with the market closed Thursday and open for a half day Friday. Most of the big hitters will be wrapping things up before noon Wednesday and taking the looong weekend.
      The algos will take over, they run the show anyhow, just in case something happens to cause indigestion.
       Administration hype on Tax cuts hog center stage, as the administration tries to convince Congress and America it is a good deal.  Traders are scrambling to get in ahead of any tax cut rally that will accompany passage. Investment publishers and brokers will pump out lists of stocks to buy that will benefit from tax reform. Unfortunately, most of the stocks on these lists will have already moved up sharply.
        It all seems too good to be true.  If the tax package is passed before Year-end, I will be surprised.
        I Can accept a modest tax cut for corporations, but not a huge tax cut that is permanent.  That’s overreach !

Public corporations have done well over the last 8 years with borrowing costs next to zero. Flush with cash, these companies have seen their stock price soar, the big driver being their own buyback of stock.
      Top management has reaped a bonanza as stock perks flourished.
      Looking ahead, what tools are left if taxes are slashed while we are in an economic expansion and interest rates too low to be reduced further to stimulate an economy that has fallen into recession.
      Oh, with tax cuts we simply will never slip into a recession ?
      Nonsense !  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have been with a Republican in the White House, expect it to be 10 out of 11 before 2020.
      What we are seeing now is Wall Street running the table with highly leveraged positions, which is fine if values were reasonable, but they are not.
      At market bottoms, investors only want to sell (before stocks drop to zero). At tops, they are driven to BUY, because the party seems like it will never end.
       Many things change over the years, that phenom never has.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,417; S&P 500:2,582; Nasdaq Comp.:6,756
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,487; S&P 500:2,587; Nasdaq Comp.:6,795

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Special Counsel Mueller zeroing in ?   Big announcements looming ?
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TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Betting on a Tax Bill ?

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,358
S&P 500: 2,578
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,782
Russell 2000:1,492
Monday,  Nov.20, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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Will the next stunning “hack” be into one or more Wall Street algorithmic trading systems ?
      Algorithmic, quantitative, and high-frequency trading are estimated to account for more than 90% of the action in a day’s trading.  Could a highly leveraged position be hacked, and a huge “sell”  dumped on the market a minute after trading starts, triggering a chain reaction ?
       Could exchange “circuit breakers designed to temper the magnitude of such an event be hacked ?
       I have repeatedly expressed my concern for the domination of computerized thinking in all facets of the securities business.  While the human brain  is the world’s finest computer, “fat fingers” and humans being humans, can mete out untold damage in this business.  While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly capable of mimicking the human thought process, there is the brain’s instinctive factor that can result in  a timely decision to buy or sell, that otherwise would defy quantification.
       Put another way, I am concerned with the “think-alike” behavior of this market, all institutions in lockstep, a cruise control buy mode, with no respect for what markets in the past considered  HIGH RISK.
       The economy could hardly look better; no one seems to be concerned with what the Fed will have done by this time next year; stocks are historically overvalued; margin debt soaring reflecting mounting leverage; the Trump administration may get taken down by the findings of the Mueller commission; and  without major concessions, tax reform may fail  passage this year, or not at all. 
         Bull markets tend to go to extremes, in which case this one has room to run. Passage of tax reform would likely trigger one final surge giving the BIG money an opportunity to max its leverage and exit while the less savvy are scrambling to enter.
          The Street’s reliance on algorithm-based analysis where most decision makers are watching the same indicators, suggests all will get a “sell” decision at the same time, resulting in a flash crash or vertical plunge.
          With so much bullish hype in the air, I can only hope to plant a seed of reason in readers minds, respect for time-tested measures of stock market value.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA::23,281 ; S&P 500:2,572; Nasdaq Comp.:6,758
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,409; S&P 500:2,582 ; Nasdaq Comp.:6,784

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Special Counsel Mueller zeroing in ?   Big announcements looming ?
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TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Now Up to the Senate

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,458
S&P 500: 2,585
Nasdaq  Comp.6,793:
Russell 2000:1,486
Friday,  Nov.17, 2017   8:44 a.m.
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The House passed its tax bill yesterday by a vote of 227 t0 205.From here, it goes the Senate.
     
Corporations do not need this large a tax cut, AND MAKING THEM PERMANENT IS INSANE !  
      Modest tax cuts phased in over years makes sense, not this.
      Corporations have done very well over the last 9 years. The S&P 500 is up 288% since the bear market bottomed March  2009.  A lot of that increase comes from  buy backs of company stock, which shrink shares outstanding, thus boosting the bottom line, and management bonuses and the value of their stock options.
      There is an inherent value of being a U.S. corporation, which justifies a higher tax rate than exists in other countries.
The argument that our corporations need lower taxes to compete is bullshit.
      It’s overreach, and CEOs know it. But does Congress ?
      A failure of federal government revenues to match expenditures would increase the deficit, resulting in a drastic slash of government programs and we know damned well where that will come from: education, health services, the social services that unfortunate Americans rely on due to ill health, misfortune and income equality. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are fair game for this Congress.
       The healthcare system will be hit by the retiring boomers in coming years, increasing the likelihood that government expenditures will increase.

       Now Republicans want to eliminate the ACA mandate, an effort to destroy ACA which they couldn’t do over countless attempts during the last 7 years.
      This is CLASSIC UNTETHERED RAPE AND PILLAGE  by the right wing and it will be self-defeating, because the carnage of drastically slashing government programs will result in an extended recession, a greater recession than the Great Recession of 2007 – 2009.
      THIS IS THE RIGHT WINGS BIG CHANCE TO GUT SOCIAL SERVICES, THAT’S WHY THE SECRECY SURROUNDING WORK-UP OF THE BILL AND RUSH TO PASS IT. It’s all about ideology.

      The  right-leaning Tax Foundation sees the current tax bill adding $2.6 trillion  to 3.9 trillion to the nation’s debt; The centrist Tax Policy Center sees the tax bill adding $7 trillion to debt over 10 years; Moody’s sees a $13.7 trillion impact  and hawkish Center for a Responsible Budget sees tax cuts adding $5.3  trillion.
      It’s up to the Senate to find ways to make the bill revenue neutral.
      Tax cuts  under President Reagan and George W. Bush, were promoted as driving faster economic growth, and in both cases,  they added trillions to the national debt. The tax rates increased under President Clinton had the opposite effect, federal tax receipts rose and national debt as a percent of GDP went down.

       The Senate introduced its own tax bill with major differences on the corporate and individual tax payer side, including:*

delay of corporate tax cuts until 2019 with a cut to 20% from 35%, to soften the ultimate impact on the deficit.
-keep number of tax brackets at 7 ranging from 10% to 38.5%.
-totally eliminate state and local tax deduction (GOP Senate has no members in New York or California)
-new 12.5% tax on patents and intellectual property overseas.
-double threshold for estate tax
-increase child care tax credit to $1,650 from $1,000
-maintain $1 million cap  for mortgage interest deduction
-maintain many of itemized deductions  for adoption and medical expenses.
-eliminate  House’s “bubble tax” on the wealthy who would see a tax rate increase of 6% for income between $1 and $1.2 million.
-plans to eliminate Obamacare’s mandate requiring individuals to have health  coverage.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this action would increase premiums 20% next year and increase uninsured in America by 19 million individuals.

      Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn is shooting for a vote during the week of November 27. Good luck on that.
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TODAY
     
The market reacted to passage of the House tax bill yesterday with a strong rally – now comes the hard part – merging it with the Senate version.
       Passage of a tax bill by both Houses would trigger an even bigger rally, but there are big differences to be ironed out, such as the timing of Corporate taxes, yet another attempt to destroy ACA, deductions, and the risk of adding to the deficit.
      The market can press higher in anticipation of passage of a final compromise tax bill, or it can trend sideways, as the Street hedges its bets – and waits.
      The tax bill is the major catalyst on the horizon.  The economy is stable, though aging. Corporate earnings are expected to grow in double digits in coming quarters.
      While seriously overvalued, the stock market has room to run a bit higher.
      The Fed will bump rates higher in December, and has no reason not to follow in 2018 with three more bumps.
      Right now, no one expects war with North Korea, or earth shattering news from the Mueller Commission, which is a good reason to be alert for something.
      The S&P 500 was overvalued before last November’s election, and is even more overvalued today after a 20% mark up in the  markets in anticipation of  a big corporate tax cut.
      That’s normal for bull markets up to the point where buyers can no longer justify paying up for overvalued stiocks.
 
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,417: ; S&P 500:2,582; Nasdaq Comp.:6,785
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,481;S&P 500:2,589 ; Nasdaq Comp.:6,806

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
 TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upside is 6% – Downside is 18% – 35%

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,409
S&P 500: 2,578
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,737
Russell 2000:1,471
Wednesday,  Nov.15, 2017   9:09 a.m.
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TAX CUTS
      After a one hour debate on the rule for the tax bill and four hours of debate, the House is expected to vote on their bill today.

      It looks like the Byrd Rule could be a major obstacle for the Senate. In short, the Rule specifies that the tax bill can’t add to the federal deficit after its first decade, ‘If” the Senate wants to pass the bill with a simple majority.
      As it stands now, the Republican tax proposal will increase the deficit by $217 billion in year 10 and more so in years after. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill as currently written will  increase the deficit by $1.7 trillion over 10 years. 
      However, Bloomberg reported today that Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch’s overnight plan would reduce costs, resulting in a deficit of $1.4 trillion over the next ten years, and reduce the deficit by $30 billion in 2027. That would put the Senate tax bill in compliance with the Byrd rule. 

      But right-leaning Tax Foundation sees the current tax bill adding $2.6 trillion  to 3.9 trillion to the nation’s debt; The centrist Tax Policy Center sees the tax bill adding $7 trillion to debt over 10 years; Moody’s sees a $13.7 trillion impact  and hawkish Center for a Responsible Budget sees tax cuts adding $5.3  trillion.
      It’s up to the Senate to find ways to make the bill revenue neutral.
      Tax cuts  under President Reagan and George W. Bush, were promoted as driving faster economic growth, and in both cases they added trillions to the national debt. The tax rates increased under President Clinton had the opposite effect, federal tax receipts rose and national debt as a percent of GDP went down.

       The Senate introduced its own tax bill with major differences on the corporate and individual tax payer side, including:*

delay of corporate tax cuts until 2019 with a cut to 20% from 35%, to soften the ultimate impact on the deficit.
-keep number of tax brackets at 7 ranging from 10% to 38.5%.
-totally eliminate state and local tax deduction (GOP Senate has no members in New York or California)
-new 12.5% tax on patents and intellectual property overseas.
-double threshold for estate tax
-increase child care tax credit to $1,650 from $1,000
-maintain $1 million cap  for mortgage interest deduction
-maintain many of itemized deductions  for adoption and medical expenses.
-eliminate  House’s “bubble tax” on the wealthy who would see a tax rate increase of 6% for income between $1 and $1.2 million.
-plans to eliminate Obamacare’s mandate requiring individuals to have health  coverage.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this action would increase premiums 20% next year and increase uninsured in America by 19 million individuals.

      Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn is shooting for a vote during the week of November 27.
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TODAY
     
The internals of the market reflect serious deterioration.  The Street desperately needs passage of a tax bill, or the market is headed south. It may head south anyhow if passage is postponed into 2018. Most of the 20% rally since the 2016 election has been based on promises of corporate tax cuts. Rebounding corporate earnings and stable economy were factored in the level of stock prices before November 2016.
      Conditions like this often yield to a rally before further damage is done.  But the picture is ugly.
      The quality of life is already in a bear market, as Republican control of the Presidency, both Houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and Fox News stand  to slash corporate taxes and taxes of high earners with a questionable promise to ease the tax burden on the middle class.
       Why is the middle and lower class vital to the stock market ?
       Consumer spend is 70% of the GDP.  Increasing take-home pay for high earners is unlikely to increase consumer spend. These folks have already bought what they need. 
       Cut the middle class some slack and any increase in take home pay via tax cuts or social services results in money flowing right back into the economy.
THE STOCK MARKET
        Technical indicators underlying the stock market are ugly, reflecting underlying weakness. This can get ugly if Congress stumbles. It should get ugly if Congress doesn’t stumble, as its tax plan passes.  It’s a give away to corporations at a time they do not need a handout
         A House panel is even considering waiving a rule that blocks future tax increases.  The bottom line here is setting the stage to GUT social services down the line (Medicare/Social Security) when the country can’t pay its bills (not enough income).
         Yes, we can have a rally based on expectations of passage of tax cuts. But, it is a very, very dangerous market, based on baseless promises.  Upside is 6%, downside is 18% to 35%.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,294: 2,560; S&P 500:; Nasdaq Comp.:6,711
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,416; S&P:2,581; Nasdaq Comp.:6.741

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Nervous -Obstacles to Passage of Tax Bill

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 23,439
S&P 500: 2,584
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,757
Russell 2000:1,475
Tuesday,  Nov.14, 2017   9:09 a.m.
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TAX CUTS

      Looks like the Byrd Rule could be a major obstacle for the Senate. In short, the Rule specifies that the tax bill can’t add to the federal deficit after its first decade, ‘If” the Senate wants to pass the bill with a simple majority.
      As it stands now, the Republican tax proposal will increase the deficit by $217 billion in year 10 and more so in years after. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill as currently written will  increase the deficit by $1.7 trillion over 10 years

      But right-leaning Tax Foundation sees the current tax bill adding $2.6 trillion  to 3.9 trillion to the nation’s debt; The centrist Tax Policy Center sees the tax bill adding $7 trillion to debt over 10 years; Moody’s sees a $13.7 trillion impact  and hawkish Center for a Responsible Budget sees tax cuts adding $5.3  trillion.
      It’s up to the Senate to find ways to make the bill revenue neutral.
      Tax cuts  under President Reagan and George W. Bush, were promoted as driving faster economic growth, and in both cases they added trillions to the national debt. The tax rates increased under President Clinton had the opposite effect, federal tax receipts rose and national debt as a percent of GDP went down.

      The House tax bill cleared the Ways and Means Committee last Thursday and is headed for the House floor this week, where it will encounter debate on a number of issues, including family tax breaks, small business breaks, the deficit, various deductions, etc.
       The Senate introduced its own tax bill with major differences on the corporate and individual tax payer side, including:*

delay of corporate tax cuts until 2019 with a cut to 20% from 35%, to soften the ultimate impact on the deficit.
-keep number of tax brackets at 7 ranging from 10% to 38.5%.
-totally eliminate state and local tax deduction (GOP Senate has no members in New York or California)
-new 12.5% tax on patents and intellectual property overseas.
-double threshold for estate tax
-increase child care tax credit to $1,650 from $1,000
-maintain $1 million cap  for mortgage interest deduction
-maintain many of itemized deductions  for adoption and medical expenses.
-eliminate  House’s “bubble tax” on the wealthy who would see a tax rate increase of 6% for income between $1 and $1.2 million.
-does NOT repeal the Obamacare individual mandate (penalty for not  having insurance. According to Business Insider, provider of all this information, this move would generate more revenue for the bill but leave 13 million more without insurance over 10 years and introduce healthcare issues into  an already process.
      Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn is shooting for a vote during the week of November 27.
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YIELD CURVE:

      Yield curves are flatter than in a decade, Bloomberg reported today, reminding readers that takes us back to 2007 prior to the Great Recession (2007 – 2009).
       As a spread between short-term and long-term Treasury Bond yields, its shape portends changes in the economy. Normal is up-sloping, reflecting short rates are dropping and long rates increasing or static. The curve tends to flatten as the economy ages when short rates rise relative to long rates, and becomes “inverted” when short rates rise further versus long rates, creating a humplike pattern.  This is unhealthy, since short-term borrowings are becoming costly potentially choking off the economy.
STOCK MARKET
       The Street is in a quandary. It doesn’t want this party to end, but no one wants to get caught fully invested, and especially heavily leveraged up prior to a correction.
       This is the risk of owning stocks when stocks are historically overvalued , and the market has not had a major correction in close to two years.
       Passage of a tax bill should trigger a sharp, but brief surge, but part of that celebration has already taken place with a 20% rise over the last year.      

      A delay in the passage of a tax bill would adversely impact the stock market which explains its current stall.
 Obviously, failure to pass a tax bill would hammer stock prices.
       Expect news of passage to run the gamut of yes and no for weeks to come.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:23,389; S&P 500:2,379; Nasdaq Comp.:6,738
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,476; S&P:2,587 ; Nasdaq Comp.:6,769

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
TRUMP SIDES WITH PUTIN OVER OWN INTEL ?   

      After a brief meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, at the Asian-Pacific summit, President Trump said, “He [Putin] said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again, You can only ask so many times,” CNN reports.
      “Every time he sees me, he says ‘I didn’t do that.’ Trump said, adding, And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”  
       All key U.S. intel agencies, a huge amount of findings and reports, and half of America say otherwise.  While Trump backed off his statement, it is clear he is in denialEven when special counsel Robert Mueller delivers proof positive, Trump will still deny it as fake news.
       Worse yet, his base will do so also.

       If history books are allowed to be written 10 years from now, the Trump years will go down as the darkest in America’s history since the Civil War.   This is the BIG test.

SPUTNICK’S Back: Russia’s hacking and invasion of Twitter and Facebook are  America’s present day “Sputnick” challenge.
     The world was stunned in 1957 when the Soviet Union (Russia) launched the first unmanned satellite to orbit the earth. In 1961, the Soviet’s  launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first man to orbit the earth. This was the catalyst for President Kennedy’s space program designed to ultimately land a man on the moon, which was done on July 20, 1969 by Apollo II.
      America is just now finding out how deeply Russia has weaponized our social media and computer software programs at all levels. According to The New Republic’s December issue,  Russia’s “theory of war allows you to defeat the enemy without ever having to touch him.”
      The big question surrounding Russia’s ability to hack into Twitter (TWTR)  and Facebook (FB) is, did they have help from the Trump team to tilt the election in his favor ? 
       Whether this manipulation continues, depends on how quickly our nation responds. So far Trump denies it even happened – duh.
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TRUMP VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION is being SUED:
Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Secretary of State is accusing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity of essentially “lacking integrity.”  It’s all about shutting Dunlap, a Democrat, out of the process and lack of transparency to the public.  What else can be expected of a SCAM, designed to data mine all 50 state’s voter records for political advantage and ensure the continuance of Republican‘s voter suppression efforts.
Have these people no shame ?  Americans ??  Or is this a bloodless coup ?  NOT ON OUR WATCH !
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Brian Benczkowski was nominated by President Trump in June to be U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. My  Sept. 15 post called attention to this since he previously represented one of Russia’s largest banks Russia’s Alfa Bank. Having  advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his nomination is pending full Senate confirmation. He once served under Jeff Sessions. If confirmed, he pledged independence, recusing himself for two years from any dealings with alfa Bank.  Sen. Feinstein voted against Benczkowski concerned that he never served as a federal prosecutor and the fact he would sit in on  meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller with Russia probe. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was concerned his major qualification was his connection with Sessions.
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Mercer on the runBannon and Breitbart bankroller, Robert Mercer is rapidly severing financial ties to Breitbart News and support of Steve Bannon and alt-right’s Milo Yiannopoulos. Mercer was a major supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to gain the Republican nomination last year, but switched his allegiance to Trump when he won the nomination.
      In my March 21 post, I wrote, “Years from now, I suspect Mercer will be relaxing at his Long Island waterfront retreat, Owl’s Nest, or on his 200-foot yacht, Sea Owl, and look back over his illustrious career tarnished  by one regret – he backed the biggest con job in our nation’s history.”

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IT’S NEVER THE GUNS !
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Six states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, Wisconsin),  are planning to require poverty stricken people on Medicaid  to get jobs  or lose the coverage. Maine, Utah and Wisconsin want to put a time limit on coverage, the latter wants to drug-test people. Excluded: People with long-tern disabilities, the elderly, and children.  Isn’t it bad enough these people are in poverty ? 
      Vox Media reports that 9.8 million Medicaid recipients  don’t have jobs  due to: Illness/disabled (35%), retired (8%), taking care of home or family (28%), going to school (18%), cannot find work (8%). The remaining 60.2 million Americans on Medicaid work full-time of part-time.  I’m not sure what’s the Republican beef here.
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Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his one-third interest in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings.  The problem is  it has ties to a Russian energy company controlled by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and members of Putin’s inner circle.
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      Paul Manafort and associate and Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday and pleaded not guilty to twelve counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading  Foreign Agent Registration Act, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank  and financial accounts.
      According to the Daily Beast, Gates is now working for Tom Barrack, a wealthy Trump supporter who led the presidential inaugural committee. The Beast reports that Gates is not liked by Trump, but accompanies Barrack when he visits Trump at the White House.  Gates joined the lobbying firm, Davis Manafort in 2006 when the firm had a client, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who had close ties to Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Deripaska accused Gates and Manafort of taking $19 million intended for investments.  Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in 2016, all this according to the Daily Beast’s article June 14, 2017.
Biggest Story of the Day:
      The New Republic reports that former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on October 5 to one count of lying to the FBI about his interactions with “foreign nationals, who he thought  were connected with senior Russian government officials.  The New Republic notes this “plea” suggests he is cooperating with Mueller.
     Reason.com reports Papadoppulos  met with an unnamed professor  in March 2016 before assuming the role as foreign policy adviser to Trump. The professor claimed to have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails. He then shared the information with the Trump campaign.

      The plea links the Trump campaign  with attempts to deal with the Russian government.  He is considered a “proactive cooperator,” which means he took an active role for months in obtaining information, possibly wearing a wire. This could be a BIG story, he may have some top Trump people on tape.
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TRUMP TO FIRE MUELLER ?        If President Trump wants to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he would first have to fire  Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General – but….
      
Obviously,  firing Mueller would smack of  “consciousness of guilt,” which  could lead to impeachment proceedings by the House, and/or increase pressure for Trump to resign, but may be necessary.  With Rosenstein out of the way,  associate attorney general, Rachel Brand, a conservative nominated and confirmed by the Senate in February, would take over. If she refuses to fire Mueller, Dana Boente, U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Virginia would have taken over, but he has now announced  plans to give up his position, which handles high-profile national security, espionage and leak cases. Upon confirmation  he will be replaced by Boeing vice president  and assistant general counsel, John Demers.  Does this mean Rosenstein will be fired and Brand resign, because she won’t fire Mueller, but Trump nominee, Demers will ? While Brand is a highly competent conservative attorney who supported Sen. Cruz in 2016, firing Mueller may not be something she wants to be part of, and she may have let that be known.  This case stands to eclipse Watergate where President Nixon tried to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox but Attorney General, Elliot Richardson and two top deputies refused to follow the directive,  and were fired.  Next in line was Robert Bork, a conservative who fired Cox, but it may have cost Bork a chance at appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court later in his career.
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TRUMP’S PARDON POWER
    
The President has the power to grant conditional pardons; to commute sentences; remit fines and forfeitures; and grant amnesty. This power can be exercised at any time after the offense has been committed, before conviction of after. Pardons cannot be limited by or controlled by legislative action. (US Legal.com).
     The President cannot pardon people for “state” crimes, and it is doubtful he can pardon himself.
      Can the Mueller investigation survive Mueller’s firing ?

Slate.com’s July 21 article, “Trump can’t Escape the States,” says “YES.”

1-A state [NY] could hire Mueller and team.
2-State attorneys general could use their quo warranto power to investigate Trump’s organization for fraud and money laundering from Russian sources.
3-A Congressional committee (Senate Intelligence Committee) could hire Mueller or create a Joint select Committee.
4-Congress could pass a new veto-proof independent counsel statute.
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THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT UNDER SEIGE:  Not since the Civil War has the spirit and future of our nation been at such great risk, from within.  This  administration, Congress and U.S. Supreme Court is surgically dismembering  efforts over many years to ensure the safety  and well being of “all” Americans.
     The sooner, Americans recognize these are not genuine Republican conservatives, but extremists determined dismantle that which has been achieved over the years and replace it with “their” brand  of a  quasi-fascist state.  Ben Franklin was right when asked what kind of government  the Founding Fathers had given us.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” was his response.
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STUMP TRUMP: Bill Palmer, Palmer report.com. has a novel idea how Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain can prevent President Trump and destructive Congress from dismembering our Republic further. All three change registrations to Independent and caucus with the Democrats giving it a 51 – 49 majority. This would bump Mitch McConnell out of Majority Leader and replace the position with Chuck Schumer.
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A DAFT TWERP:  Just in from Veuer  – President Trump is a ‘daft twerp’ according to Winston Churchill’s grandson, a conservative member of Parliament. The Brits consider a “twerp” as a silly, insignificant or annoying person, and “daft” as   foolish. Let’s see if the bust of Winston in Trump’s office goes the way of so many of his original administration.
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1,318 FALSE or MISLEADING CLAIMS (LIES) by President Trump since being sworn in as President, January 20, 263 days ago. The tally is kept by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which breaks all lies down into 24 categories. Please, someone wake me up, tell me this is not happening….and reassure me Americans aren’t in denial.
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ADD ANOTHER LIE TO THE 1,318 referred to above.  Yesterday, Trump touted tax cuts for the middle class in Pennsylvania, saying the typical American household would get a $4,000 pay raise, and “it could be a lot more than that.”  Not mentioned is the savings would be over an eight year period, $500 a year.
     The Tax Policy Center (TPC) claims tax reform as we know it today heavily favors the rich, boosting after-tax income for the top 1% by 8.5% on average, while the bottom 95% would get a boost of 1.2%
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WRECK NAFTA ?  Bloomberg’s “The Editors” seems to think so, pointing to the disruption of long-established supply chains that would raise costs, and increase US imports.  “The evidence is clear, Nafta has helped all its members, including the U.S., achieve greater efficiency and higher living standards,” Bloomberg notes, adding undermining it or causing its collapse would  cause enormous disruption for businesses and labor pools in all three  countries.

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TRUMP WANTS ANYONE WHO DOESN’T STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM TO BE “FIRED”   ?
Personally, I would find another way of expressing my 1st Amendment opinion, like here in this blog, but I think not standing for the National Anthem IS NOWHERE NEARLY AS UN-AMERICAN AS TAKING  5 (five) DEFERRMENTS TO AVOID MILITARY SERVICE, WHICH IS WHAT TRUMP DID DURING THE VIETNAM WAR ERA.  Deplorable !
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 AMERICANS ARE TOO SCARED to have the courage to do the right thing.   If not outwardly scared, Americans are subconsciously scared. Its origin is difficult to pinpoint, but I’d say the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970’s was a start. That’s when confidence in our government began to crumble as protests against the War escalated. The horrors of war were brought into every living room, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the street.  Families were divided by “for” and “against” the war.  “Like it, or leave it” was the pro-war patriot mantra.
     President Nixon’s Watergate woes and resignation ahead of impeachment proceedings loped off a little more trust in politicians. This, combined with the OPEC oil embargo resulted in a 16-month recession and 50% drop in the S&P 500. 
     Probably, the biggest jolt came on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attack on the New York City Trade Towers and the Pentagon.  Lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction got us into the Iraq War, another discredit for authority in our nation’s highest office. 
      The Great Recession (2007 – 2009) and stock market’s 50% crash was yet another jolt from which many never recovered.  Now you have President Trump, an unpredictable narcissist with 1,000 lies in eight months to his credit. Oh, and the legitimacy of his presidency challenged by investigations of collusion with Russia to bombard American voters with fake news about rival candidate Hillary Clinton and who knows what in key electoral college states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
       White Americans are seeing too many people of color on TV, in sports, in schools in their neighborhoods, in their police force, military.  It’s fine if a black man scores a touchdown for their alma mater, just don’t run for office or beat out their child in school activities, or them for a job.
        Get used to it Republican bigot, you can deport a whole bunch of people of color, gerrymander their vote, disrespect them, but they are hungry for achievement and want to eat your lunch, like it or not.  Bigotry is un-American, and if you know what Christianity is really about bigotry is un-Christian. 

       SMALL WONDER AMERICANS FEEL THE NEED FOR AN ARSENAL IN THEIR HOME, FOR THE RIGHT TO “CARRY” A PIECE EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING BARS, EATERIES, PLAYGROUNDS, PARKS.   Americans are so scared, even sensible measures designed to make people safer are rejected.
       If the wanton murder of 20 six-year olds in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut didn’t spark an outrage, nothing will. Some whackos claim it didn’t happen, not to my surprise, some believed them.
       This was a defining incident in America.  Americans too freaking scared and intimidated by the NRA to be upset by the son of a gun-nut murdering  children. Shame !  The NRA exploited the situation for their own benefit, as Americans watched. Again, SHAME !
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WOULD ANYONE WANT their spouse to lie repeatedly ?, their child ?, mother ?, father ?, minister ?, child’s teacher ?,  coach ?, employer ?.  IF NOT, why would they support President Trump who is on record with telling4.5 lies per day, 1,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?

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PARDONS:   Expect Trump to attempt to pardon anyone he wants, including himself. It’s a way out of facing responsibility very much like dodging the draft. Like when he justified his numerous bankruptcies, saying he only used U.S. laws to his advantage.  Well, “pardons” are his prerogative, in many, not all cases. He would take advantage of whatever loophole to avoid consequences, sort of like dodging the draft, or did I already say that ?
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TAX REFORM BENEFITTING WEALTHY AS WELL AS TRUMP ?  Depends on who you ask. Trump says  he wont’ benefit  – Add that to his 1,000 lies that have been documented since his inauguration.  Everything I read indicates the little guy gets screwed.  But isn’t it the little guy/girl who is responsible for his election to the Presidency.  Tough break guys, and girls – next time leave your confirmation bias at the door and vote your interest !
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IS PRESIDENT TRUMP BROKE ? Bill Palmer, Palmerreport.com thinks so.  Why else would he hide his tax return ?
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TAX REFORM  – “Potholes and sinkholes”*
      Trump campaigned in  Missouri recently for  tax reform, including middle-class tax cuts,  and a simpler tax code. Few specifics are mentioned. The border-adjusted tax is off the table. The mortgage, charity and retirement deductions are safe. The big question is whether the tax cuts would be temporary or permanent. If th latter, the cuts may not increase the deficit.
      An August 4 – 9  Bloomberg poll of economists reveals 28 of 39 polled expect Congress to pass tax cut legislation by November 2018. Unfortunately this action is not expected to add more than  0.2 percentage points to the GDP, and that growth is forecast  to only slightly exceed  that this year’s 2.1 percent, this forecast coming from 71 economists.  Worse yet, 2019 is projected to fall back to the 2 percent level. Referring to a corporate tax rate for developed nations of 24%, Trump says…”We have no choice….we must lower our taxes.
       Facts from mic.com: In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) found at least two-thirds of U.S. corporations did not pay federal income tax between 2006 and 2012.  One-fifth of America’s largest profitable corporations didn’t pay any income tax in 2012.
      Another study released earlier this year found the effective tax rate for consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies is 21.2%
      All told, U.S. corporations pay slightly less  in overall taxes than companies  in comparable countries.
      This begs the question of how much impact would  corporate tax cuts have on the S&P 500.       
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Trump, Bannon Gone By 2019  (Investor’s first read:  3/21/2017)
      Right winger and Breitbart grad, Sebastian Gorka is now gone,  Gorka’s  exit closely follows the departure of Steve Bannon, another  Breitfart grad,  hopefully leading to the firing  of Stephen Miller, a brash, caustic right wing extremist and Breitbart supporter  cuddler. 

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WAR – North Korea
      Sen. Lindsey Graham says a U.S. military strike of N. Korea is possible,* that we cannot allow “this madman [Kim Jong-un] to have a missile to hit America.” His Tuesday, Aug 1, interview on the Today Show, follows N. Korea’s ICBM test days ago. Graham also said the Chinese  can stop such an attack. While such a war would take place on North Korean soil, South Korea  would incur huge casualties from N. Korean artillery.
OBSERVATION: Since January, I have warned Trump would put the U.S. on a war footing (see below) for political reasons, namely the mid-terms. Now I am convinced it is front burner because the Meuller investigations are  closing in.  
      Nuclear deterrence has been effective since the 1950s, for the obvious reasons.  The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals  and estimated warheads include United States (7,500), Russia (7,200), France (300), China (250), UK (215), Pakistan (110), India (100),Israel (80).
       The uncertainty of war would JOLT the market, especially if it disrupted  trade alliances. Reportedly, it would only take 33 minutes for a ballistic missile to reach the U.S.. If detonated high over the center of the U.S., it would cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which would shut down “everything”  A-to-Z indefinitely.
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TRUMP – EARLY STAGE DEMENTIA ?  
Don’t know. Clearly he has personality disorder (Narcissism), but the question is being asked more and more with references to speech, use of words, disorientation, irritability, memory loss, late night tweets, confusion, paranoia.

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TRUMP looking for a “Get Out Of Jail Free Card if the Feds close in?”
    Why not, he dodged military service with 5 deferments  during the Vietnam era (1964 – 1970).
     Reportedly, he has asked advisers about his power to pardon family members and himself  relating to Mueller’s investigation.
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W HAT HAPPENS WHEN THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED ? If the Special Counselor  concludes it is “necessary and appropriate” he is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising out of the investigation, which he does after submitting a report to the attorney general explaining his reasons.

REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER:  Misconduct,  dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, good cause (??), violation of Department policies.
WOULD MUELLER BE REPLACED ? Unclear. If the Democrats controlled Congress they could appoint another Special Counselor
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  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended
       Nigel Farage – President Trump- Jeffrey Sessions – Robert Mercer – Cambridge Analytics – Bannon- Carter Page – Kushner (Jared and Ivanka) – Eric Prince – Donald, Jr.  and Eric Trump – Wilbur Ross –  Michael Cohen – Ezra Cohen Watnick – Michael Flynn – JD Gordon  –  Christopher Steele – Michael Caputo -Breitbart News – Roger Stone – Julian Assange – Paul Manafort – Rick Gates – Jill Stein – Sam Clovis –  Kellyanne and George Conway –Dana Rohrabacher – Bill Browder – Peter W. Smith (deceased: suicide), Paul Behrends – Boris Epshteyn, Ike Kaveladze, and  Russia’s alfa Group – Felix Sater – Rob Goldstone – alfa Group – Emin Agalarov – Sergey Gorkov –  Sergey Kislyak, ambassador to the U.S., Natalia Veselnitskaya, Oleg Deripaska all connect directly or indirectly to the Trump/Russia investigation and some have a connection to Brexit, as well.
      According to the “Observer,” Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica was connected with Canada’s AggregateIQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked together on the Brexit referendum. Aggregate is also a data mining company. While Mercer was a big supporter of Trump, there is no known connection between AggregateIQ and Trump’s campaign staff.

       The Palmer Report.com  recently reported that Peter W. Smith (recent suicide) sought to collude with Russian hackers stealing emails from Trump’s opposition while claiming to be working with Michael Flynn.

       Additionally, IMHO, Vice President Mike Pence simply had to be aware of what was happening in the campaign, but is being shielded because he is the second in command if  President Trump is impeached and convicted  or forced to resign. Stephen Miller, Joseph E. Schmitz may be of interest to the FBI for information they possess relating to the FBI investigation.
      According to CNN Politics,  Marc Kasowitz  represented Trump for personal and business matters for years. Worth noting, Kasowitz is defending Russian bank, OJSC Sberbank in U.S. court, as well as a Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin.
       As of July 21, Kasowitz’s is no longer Trump’s personal attorney   
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     REMOVING TRUMP FROM  OFFICE

Can Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, U.S. Constitution – Remove Trump ?
      It’s a stretch. 
The key for his removal is ”that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Section 4 mentions nothing  that he is unfit, delusional, unbalanced, crazy,  impulsive, irrational, impaired, sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic.
      That would be the threshold that would have to be crossed if Trump is removed from office via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. There is no precedent

      It isn’t just Democrats, liberals, moderates and reasonable people who find Trump caustic, and dangerous, conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Ross Douthart are also urging his removal.
      First, there are four ways to get rid of Trump – death, resignation, impeachment and Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
      The procedure employing the 25th Amendment requires the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet of 15 (8) to vote to remove the president. They would submit their declaration in writing to the President pro tempore ( Sen. Orrin Hatch) and Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and the Vice President will immediately assume to office as acting president.
      However, the president may contend the move by submitting his own letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, that he believes he is capable of performing his duties, in which case he will resume the office of presidency.
       The Vice President and Cabinet members may then resubmit their declaration at which point Congress would vote within 48 hours if in session. If not, Congress  will act within 21 days where a two-thirds vote would be required to remove  him.  
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IMPEACHMENT
      A  Consult/Politico poll shows 43% of Americans want Congress to begin procedures for the impeachment of President Trump.

      The U.S. Constitution  enables Congress to remove a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Intitially, the House votes on one or more articles of impeachment- if a majority vote is reached, he is impeached.  BUT, impeachment only means indictment. The Senate holds a trial overseen by the chief justice and Supreme Court. A group of House members serve as prosecutors and the Senate as jurors. If two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president takes over.

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Note: Source of weekly economic calendar and good recap of indicators: mam.econoday.com.
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*Business Insider – Bob Bryan  Nov.9, 2017
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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.