Could Tax Cut Passage Fail ?

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,585
S&P 500: 2,662
Nasdaq  Comp.6,875:
Russell 2000: 1,524
Thursday, Dec. 14,    7:46 a.m.

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     Could the tax bill fail to pass ?   Don’t count on Doug Jones’ vote. He isn’t sworn in until 2018. Meanwhile, Republican  Sen. Luther Strange can be counted on to ditto the party line.  Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Sen.  Susan Collins (ME), Sen. Bob Corker (TN)  are on the fence.  Sen. John McCain (AZ) has not yet returned from cancer treatment, though he is probable.
     The Jones’ victory in Alabama two days ago may signal a sea change in voter sentiment for 2018 and beyond.  Does anyone in the Republican Party want to be perceived as rubber stamping Trump’s tax bill or any of his warped policies ?  I don’t expect Trump to be around four months from now.
     What happens to the stock market if tax reform is rejected  ? –  Whooosh !
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 Year-end crosscurrents to continue with upward bias
Spending bill:
       The spending bill deadline was extended to Dec. 22, following a two week “funding” bill that averted a government shutdown on Dec. 8. Assuming all Republicans vote for  it, eight Democratic votes will be needed for a 60-vote Senate passage. Some thorny issues put passage at risk, including immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA), defense, Obamacare, disaster aid, , Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
 TODAY:
       More of the same, assuming no breaking news from the Mueller probe and North Korea.      
        The tax bill rules, and has ruled for a year, driving the S&P 500 up 23% since the 2016 Presidential Election, bringing the total bull market gain since early  March 2009 to 295%. That compares with the bull market record for the S&P 500 of plus 304.26% between 1990 and 1998, a total of 93 months.  The current bull market is 106 months old.
        Our economy and investment markets came within a whisker of TOTAL meltdown in 2008 – 2009. The recovery following a 58% drop in the S&P and the ugliest recession since the horrid 1930s, was fortunately gradual enough for key sectors of the economy to dig their cleats in and develop a sustainable recovery. As noted above, this economy and stock market recovery are long in the tooth, suggesting risk of reversal.
        Bull markets tend to run to ridiculous extremes where rank speculation is beyond belief.  This one is extreme, but the “fever” is hard to shut off.  Those who feel extended should sell down to the sleeping level.  Those who want to roll the dice, should at least sit close to the exit with an open mind that too many lemmings rushing in the same direction are headed for a fall.
        TODAY
    The Fed raised its benchmark (federal funds) rate one-quarter of a point yesterday to a range of 1.25 to 1.5 percent, and announced it is accelerating the shrink of its balance sheet to $20 billion per month from $10 billion. Its median forecast for economic growth in 2018 is upped to 2.5 percent from 2.1 percent but retained its longer growth rate for the economy at 1.8 percent, well short of Trump administration expectations.
      The Fed expects its fed funds rate to increase to 2.1 percent  by year-end 2018 after three hikes.  Longer term it expects its rate to rise to 2.7 percent in 2019 and 3.1 percent 2020.
 WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN ?

Not a whole lot. Rates will still be low this time next year.
ALERT:  If this tax cut rally runs into the first five days of 2018, look for a 10% correction in January.
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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
Doug Jones’ defeat of favorite Roy Moore is yet another shot across Trump’s bow and the Republican Party, which has wantonly bulldozed much of what was accomplished in prior administrations in an effort to brand our government with a far right identity.
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Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble, tumble, tumble !
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STATES NEEDING FEDS THE MOST
       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).

  So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful what you wish for.
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The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       Our republic is being mugged in plain sight, and only a handful in Congress are putting up a fight, clearly none of them  Republicans. 
        Liberals need some spine, too many are appalled, but turn another cheek. I’ve heard it too often, “He’s our president, I don’t agree with what he says, but we need to wish him success, he’s our president now, we must support him.
       Rubbish !   This is WAR !
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
       I am not sure the public knows  what is happening, increasing the odds we must hit bottom first, and that could be quite a ways down from here.
       Today’s senatorial election in Alabama should be telling. It would be refreshing if Christian values rejected accused sex offender Roy Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
        Anything is possible.  A Gallup poll revealed that  people who identify themselves as Republican has dropped  to 37% from 42% since Trump’s election a year ago.  Dems held the line.

 

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
       A divided country is not a strong country, not one that can move ahead to solve problems and grow economically and socially. In many ways we have opted out of objectively analyzing the issues, holding firm to bias and fear of “those” people. We are  led by a morally bankrupt president and too many enablers.
        Wake up, a diversified culture is upon us, people of all colors and beliefs are on both sides of us.  Don’t believe me ?
        Stand in the core of any airport (as I did) and watch.
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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      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)
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 ?
     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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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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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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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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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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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.” Initially, 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.

 

 

 

Jones Win Should Jolt Republican Agenda

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,504
S&P 500: 2,664
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,862
Russell 2000: 1,516
Wednesday, Dec. 13,    9:11 a.m.

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STATES NEEDING FEDS THE MOST
       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Nebraska.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).

  So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful what you wish for.
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 Year-end crosscurrents to continue with upward bias
      As I have been saying, December is a month where a lot of whacky things happen. An upward bias is normal, especially in bullish years as institutions scramble to put money to work in time for their year-end report of portfolio positions, hopefully a selling  point to recruit new clients in the new year.
       Some big winners will drop as profits are taken, losers will get hammered as shareholders  sell to offset gains, but some losers will rebound as bargain hunters step in.
Spending bill:
       The spending bill deadline was extended to Dec. 22, following a two week “funding” bill that averted a government shutdown on Dec. 8. Assuming all Republicans vote for  it, eight Democratic votes will be needed for a 60-vote Senate passage. Some thorny issues put passage at risk, including immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA), defense, Obamacare, disaster aid, , Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
 TODAY:
       More of the same, assuming no breaking news from the Mueller probe and North Korea.      
        The tax bill rules, and has ruled for a year, driving the S&P 500 up 23% since the 2016 Presidential Election, bringing the total bull market gain since early  March 2009 to 295%. That compares with the bull market record for the S&P 500 of plus 304.26% between 1990 and 1998, a total of 93 months.  The current bull market is 106 months old.
        Our economy and investment markets came within a whisker of TOTAL meltdown in 2008 – 2009. The recovery following a 58% drop in the S&P and the ugliest recession since the horrid 1930s, was fortunately gradual enough for key sectors of the economy to dig their cleats in and develop a sustainable recovery. As noted above, this economy and stock market recovery are long in the tooth, suggesting risk of reversal.
        Bull markets tend to run to ridiculous extremes where rank speculation is beyond belief.  This one is extreme, but the “fever” is hard to shut off.  Those who feel extended should sell down to the sleeping level.  Those who want to roll the dice, should at least sit close to the exit with an open mind that too many lemmings rushing in the same direction are headed for a fall.
        The FOMC holds its  press conference at 2:30 today. While inflation is absent, the employment picture continues to improve. The Fed should bump rates and confirm three bumps in 2018.
        Currently, the Fed does have much impact on the market.
Yesterday’s Market Action:
The market was not as strong as the DJIA indicated.  While it rose 118 points, two stocks accounted for 96 of that gain (Goldman Sachs; GS: +7.13, Boeing: BA: + 6.84).  Both the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 were off for the day. Here again, you have cross currents with portfolio adjustments and tax selling before year-end.
       Trading before the open in the futures market does not reflect any change in heart on the Street after Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore for Alabama’s second senate seat. Moore hasn’t conceded yet, but his loss against the odds should jolt the Republican Party and Wall Street.
        While the tax bill appears safe for now, this runaway train to gut regulations and in time, social programs that keep so many afloat may be heading for a siding in the “yard.”
         What is heartening (to me) is the Solid South can think outside the box, can junk old, toxic biases and be objective. This would be a positive. The more people who take time to think things through, the better the chances are for this country to by-pass divisiveness and achieve unity, and address issues begging attention.
          In time, money managers look out a year or more before deciding which stocks to buy, and will have to factor in a change in control of Congress and in 2020, the presidency.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,331; S&P 500:2,649; Nasdaq Comp.:6,831
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,539; S&P 500:2,666; Nasdaq Comp.: 6,866

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Doug Jones’ defeat of favorite Roy Moore is yet another shot across Trump’s bow and the Republican Party, which has wantonly bulldozed much of what was accomplished in prior administrations in an effort to brand our government with a far right identity.
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Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble, tumble, tumble !
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The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       Our republic is being mugged in plain sight, and only a handful in Congress are putting up a fight, clearly none of them  Republicans. 
        Liberals need some spine, too many are appalled, but turn another cheek. I’ve heard it too often, “He’s our president, I don’t agree with what he says, but we need to wish him success, he’s our president now, we must support him.
       Rubbish !   This is WAR !
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
       I am not sure the public knows  what is happening, increasing the odds we must hit bottom first, and that could be quite a ways down from here.
       Today’s senatorial election in Alabama should be telling. It would be refreshing if Christian values rejected accused sex offender Roy Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
        Anything is possible.  A Gallup poll revealed that  people who identify themselves as Republican has dropped  to 37% from 42% since Trump’s election a year ago.  Dems held the line.

 

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
       A divided country is not a strong country, not one that can move ahead to solve problems and grow economically and socially. In many ways we have opted out of objectively analyzing the issues, holding firm to bias and fear of “those” people. We are  led by a morally bankrupt president and too many enablers.
        Wake up, a diversified culture is upon us, people of all colors and beliefs are on both sides of us.  Don’t believe me ?
        Stand in the core of any airport (as I did) and watch.
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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      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)
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 ?
     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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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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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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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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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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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.” Initially, 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.

 

 

So, Who’s on The Fed Teet

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,388
S&P 500: 2,659
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,875
Russell 2000: 1,519
Tuesday, Dec. 12,    8:53 a.m.
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STATES NEEDING FEDS THE MOST
       The twelve most federally dependent states are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, West Virginia, South Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, Maine,  Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana.
      The twelve least federally dependent states are Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Kansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Utah, and Massachusetts.
  Red states (Republican) are 67% more dependent on federal government aid than Blue States (Democratic).

  So why all the whining about the Feds being in their space ?  Want to go it alone ?   Careful what you wish for.
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 Year-end crosscurrents to continue with upward bias
      As I have been saying, December is a month where a lot of whacky things happen. An upward bias is normal, especially in bullish years as institutions scramble to put money to work in time for their year-end report of portfolio positions, hopefully a selling  point to recruit new clients in the new year.
       Some big winners will drop as profits are taken, losers will get hammered as shareholders  sell to offset gains, but some losers will rebound as bargain hunters step in.
Spending bill:
       The spending bill deadline was extended to Dec. 22, following a two week “funding” bill that averted a government shutdown on Dec. 8. Assuming all Republicans vote for  it, eight Democratic votes will be needed for a 60-vote Senate passage. Some thorny issues put passage at risk, including immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA), defense, Obamacare, disaster aid, , Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
 TODAY:
       More of the same, assuming no breaking news from the Mueller probe and North Korea.      
        The tax bill rules, and has ruled for a year, driving the S&P 500 up 23% since the 2016 Presidential Election, bringing the total bull market gain since early  March 2009 to 295%. That compares with the bull market record for the S&P 500 of plus 304.26% between 1990 and 1998, a total of 93 months.  The current bull market is 106 months old.
        Our economy and investment markets came within a whisker of TOTAL meltdown in 2008 – 2009. The recovery following a 58% drop in the S&P and the ugliest recession since the horrid 1930s, was fortunately gradual enough for key sectors of the economy to dig their cleats in and develop a sustainable recovery. As noted above, this economy and stock market recovery are long in the tooth, suggesting risk of reversal.
        Bull markets tend to run to ridiculous extremes where rank speculation is beyond belief.  This one is extreme, but the “fever” is hard to shut off.  Those who feel extended should sell down to the sleeping level.  Those who want to roll the dice, should at least sit close to the exit with an open mind that too many lemmings rushing in the same direction are headed for a fall.
        The FOMC meets today with a press conference at 2:30 Wednesday.  While inflation is absent, the employment picture continues to improve. The Fed should bump rates and confirm three bumps in 2018.
        Currently, the Fed does have much impact on the market.

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,369; S&P 500:2,658; Nasdaq Comp.:6,871
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,468; S&P 500:2,608; Nasdaq Comp.:6,898

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble, tumble, tumble !
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The BIG question is, do American morals and respect for our republic  have to hit bottom before Congress and the American voter opts for decency, honesty, integrity and a moral compass ?
    Currently, odds favor neither will have a change of heart even if the findings of the Mueller probe uncover untold crimes against the constitution and American people. 
     The current extremist Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as are many of its supporters. Much of the Republican Congress is comprised congressional  anarchists, determined to raze time-tested checks and balances, and oppose any and all new proposals that do not pass their muster.
      It wasn’t enough that they obstructed progress for eight years of the Obama administration, they are now dismantling the things he did accomplish. Our republic is being mugged in plain sight.
    
There are a lot of very fine Republicans out there, but someone needs to tell them someone hijacked their party.
       Our republic is being mugged in plain sight, and only a handful in Congress are putting up a fight, clearly none of them  Republicans. 
        Liberals need some spine, too many are appalled, but turn another cheek. I’ve heard it too often, “He’s our president, I don’t agree with what he says, but we need to wish him success, he’s our president now, we must support him.
       Rubbish !   This is WAR !
       This isn’t Reagan, this isn’t anything close to the Republican Party I grew up with.

       This is what the right wing has been waiting for – total control of the presidency, both Houses, and the Supreme Court. (and Fox News)  They want total control.  This is how democratic,  representative republics  perish.
      America is the biggest enchilada on earth.  Why wouldn’t a group of extremists want to wrest permanent control from its people ?  Americans must stop multitasking, and have the guts to endure the day-to-day angst that accompanies being well informed. They need to return to values.
       I am not sure the public knows  what is happening, increasing the odds we must hit bottom first, and that could be quite a ways down from here.
       Today’s senatorial election in Alabama should be telling. It would be refreshing if Christian values rejected accused sex offender Roy Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate.
        Anything is possible.  A Gallup poll revealed that  people who identify themselves as Republican has dropped  to 37% from 42% since Trump’s election a year ago.  Dems held the line.

 

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
       A divided country is not a strong country, not one that can move ahead to solve problems and grow economically and socially. In many ways we have opted out of objectively analyzing the issues, holding firm to bias and fear of “those” people. We are  led by a morally bankrupt president and too many enablers.
        Wake up, a diversified culture is upon us, people of all colors and beliefs are on both sides of us.  Don’t believe me ?
        Stand in the core of any airport (as I did) and watch.
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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      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)
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 ?
     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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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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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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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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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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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.” Initially, 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.

 

Hurdles for Dec 22 Spending Bill

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,329

S&P 500: 2,651
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,840 
Russell 2000: 1,521
Monday, Dec. 11,    9:05 a.m.
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Year-end crosscurrents to continue with upward bias
      As I have been saying, December is a month where a lot of whacky things happen. An upward bias is normal, especially in bullish years as institutions scramble to put money to work in time for their year-end report of portfolio positions, hopefully a selling  point to recruit new clients in the new year.
       Some big winners will drop as profits are taken, losers will get hammered as shareholders  sell to offset gains, but some losers will rebound as bargain hunters step in.
Spending bill:
       The spending bill deadline was extended to Dec. 22, following a two week “funding” bill that averted a government shutdown on Dec. 8. Assuming all Republicans vote for  it, eight Democratic votes will be needed for a 60-vote Senate passage. Some thorny issues put passage at risk, including immigration, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals  (DACA), defense, Obamacare, disaster aid, , Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
 TODAY:
       More of the same, assuming no breaking news from the Mueller probe and North Korea.      
        The tax bill rules, and has ruled for a year, driving the S&P 500 up 23% since the 2016 Presidential Election, bringing the total bull market gain since early  March 2009 to 295%. That compares with the bull market record for the S&P 500 of plus 304.26% between 1990 and 1998, a total of 93 months.  The current bull market is 106 months old.
        Our economy and investment markets came within a whisker of TOTAL meltdown in 2008 – 2009. The recovery following a 58% drop in the S&P and the ugliest recession since the horrid 1930s, was fortunately gradual enough for key sectors of the economy to dig their cleats in and develop a sustainable recovery. As noted above, this economy and stock market recovery are long in the tooth, suggesting risk of reversal.
        Bull markets tend to run to ridiculous extremes where rank speculation is beyond belief.  This one is extreme, but the “fever” is hard to shut off.  Those who feel extended should sell down to the sleeping level.  Those who want to roll the dice, should at least sit close to the exit with an open mind that too many lemmings rushing in the same direction are headed for a fall.

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,297; S&P 500:2,647; Nasdaq Comp.:6,826
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,376; S&P 500:2,654; Nasdaq Comp.:6,859

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble, tumble, tumble !

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
       A divided country is not a strong country, not one that can move ahead to solve problems and grow economically and socially. In many ways we have opted out of objectively analyzing the issues, holding firm to bias and fear of “those” people. We are  led by a morally bankrupt president and too many enablers.
        Wake up, a diversified culture is upon us, people of all colors and beliefs are on both sides of us.  Don’t believe me ?
        Stand in the core of any airport (as I did) and watch.
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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      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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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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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Year-End Cross Currents – Good and Bad

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,211
S&P 500: 2,636
Nasdaq  Comp.:  6,812
Russell 2000: 1,520
Friday, Dec. 8,    9:15 a.m.
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      THINKING AHEAD:  While some people are freeloading, many simply do not have, and never will have, the resources to achieve a decent standard of living. What is being overlooked here is what is looming as our GREATEST EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM  ever.   Automation, computer software solutions, and Artificial Intelligence will replace millions of jobs. Until 10 years ago, these innovations created as many jobs as they replaced – that is no longer true. 
       Job openings will exist, but will require advanced training to fill, shutting out an estimated 20% – 30% of the workforce.

       Young adults are highly skilled in technology, the generation preceding them aren’t.  Worse yet, corporations are releasing employees in their 50s, because they lack the skills needed and are too expensive to carry on the payroll.
       Bottom line: The need for social services will increase dramatically.
       I can certainly see the need to streamline our tax structure, and give corporations an incentive to spend other than buy back shares of stock, but a massive tax cut does not address future problems, it makes them worse.
       This is all about ideology, not planning for the future.
       Granted, automation, software innovations and Artificial Intelligence stand to fatten the bottom line of corporations, but a healthy base of spenders is necessary to boost the top line.  Some 70% of the economy is consumer spending.  That base must be cultivated, not diminished.       
TODAY
      No shutdown !  That does not come as a surprise.  The Dec. 8 deadline for a spending bill has been extended to Dec. 22, and expect that to be extended into 2018, though it would seriously challenge the “extraordinary measures “ applied to keep the government operating.
      As I have been saying, December is a month where a lot of whacky things happen. An upward bias is normal, especially in bullish years as institutions scramble to put money to work in time for their year-end report of portfolio positions, hopefully a selling  point to recruit new clients in the new year.
       Some big winners will drop as profits are taken, losers will get hammered as shareholders  sell to offset gains, but some losers will rebound as bargain hunters step in.
        The Employment Situation report came at 8:30 today and shows 228,000 jobs were added in November, in line with projections. Consumer Sentiment will be reported at 10 o’clock.
      None of this matters a whole lot.  The tax bill rules, and has ruled for a year, driving the S&P 500 up 23% since the 2016 Presidential Election, bringing the total bull market gain since early  March 2009 to 295%. That compares with the bull market record for the S&P 500 of plus 304.26% between 1990 and 1998, a total of 93 months.  The current bull market is 106 months old.

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,183; S&P 500:2,634; Nasdaq Comp.:6,827
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,301; S&P 500:2,645; Nasdaq Comp.:6,836

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble ?

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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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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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncertainty Complicated By Year-End Crosscurrents

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,180
S&P 500: 2,624
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,762
Russell 2000:1,516
Wednesday, Dec.   6,    9:12 a.m.
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Shutdown
      Right now the Street is beginning to worry about a government shutdown on December 8, but as I understand it, a continuing resolution can extend the deadline to December 22, possibly beyond.
      This gets highly complicated with possibilities changing daily, as Congress haggles over fine points of contention in route to finalizing its tax bill.  The bill is unpopular now and hasn’t been signed into law.  I suspect  a tax preparation firm will still be needed to file returns  this year and years to come, since changes are many. It’s not going to be done on a post card.
      It is becoming common knowledge that the long-term goal  of this Republican Party is to shrink federal government revenues so much in the future, that the government will have no choice but to slash social service expenditures, including Social Security and Medicare.  Obviously, cuts won’t be made in defense, and an increase in taxes in the future would screw any administration in office.
       While some people are freeloading, many simply do not have, and never will have, the resources to achieve a decent standard of living. What is being overlooked here is what is looming as our GREATEST EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM  ever.   Automation, computer software solutions, and Artificial Intelligence will replace millions of jobs. Until 10 years ago, these innovations created as many jobs as they replaced – that is no longer true. 
       Job openings will exist, but will require advanced training to fill, shutting out an estimated 20% – 30% of the workforce.

       Young adults are highly skilled in technology, the generation preceding them aren’t.  Worse yet, corporations are releasing employees in their 50s, because they lack the skills needed and are too expensive to carry on the payroll.
       Bottom line: The need for social services will increase dramatically.
       I can certainly see the need to streamline our tax structure, and give corporations an incentive to spend other than buy back shares of stock, but a massive tax cut does not address future problems, it makes them worse.
       This is all about ideology, not planning for the future.
       Granted, automation, software innovations and Artificial Intelligence stand to fatten the bottom line of corporations, but a healthy base of spenders is necessary to boost the top line.  Some 70% of the economy is consumer spending.  That base must be cultivated, not diminished.       
TODAY
      Bloomberg reported Vanguard Group, manager of $4.8 trillion, is warning investors 2018 will  not be great for portfolios.  In its most cautious outlook in a decade Vanguard’s global chief strategist, Joseph Davis, warned volatility, long dormant, will pick up next year.
      Volatility will replace the cruise control pattern of daily bumps up in the market. For one, much of the tax bill has been discounted by a 23% rise in the S&P 500.  We are now seeing daily disclosures of news that is bad for the survival of the Trump administration. The Street, and Republican Party, are faced with the remote prospect of losing control of both houses of Congress. That spells uncertainty for the market with the S&P 500 that is well overvalued even  based on earnings one year out.
      Chances of a 3% – 5% correction  are now 50-50. Chances of a bear market starting  in 2018 are beginning to surface, mostly based on the possibility of an implosion in the Trump Presidency and its impact on the fall elections.
       Finally, this is the time of the year for cross currents in the market, irregular swings in stock prices, stocks going up that should go down, vice-versa.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,037 ; S&P 500:2,621; Nasdaq Comp.:6,741
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,198; S&P 500:2,633; Nasdaq Comp.:6,788

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Trump Administration dominos starting to tumble ?

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?
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“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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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      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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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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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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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VOLATILITY (Wide Swings in Prices) Imminent

Investor’s first read Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,290
S&P 500: 2,639
Nasdaq  Comp.:6,775
Russell 2000:1,532
Tuesday, Dec.   5,    9:12 a.m.
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Shutdown
      Right now the Street is beginning to worry about a government shutdown on December 8, but as I understand it, a continuing resolution can extend the deadline to December 22, possibly beyond.
      This gets highly complicated with possibilities changing daily. Does that mean I can’t condense all this to a succinct paragraph or two here ? Yep, sure does. This one will just have to play out.                 
TODAY
     That was a classic spike in the stock market yesterday, traders and BIG money selling into the news of massive tax breaks for corporations. They are BIG because they are not greedy – always a good idea to take a little money off the table after big runs in the market.
      Bloomberg reported Vanguard Group, manager of $4.8 trillion, is warning investors 2018 will  not be great for portfolios.  In its most cautious outlook in a decade Vanguard’s global chief strategist, Joseph Davis, warned volatility, long dormant, will pick up next year.
      That would be welcome.  Volatility enables a better balance between buyers and sellers, and helps avert flash crashes where pent up selling  and an exhaustion of buying triggers a sharp plunge.
      So, the Street got what it wanted, now for all the hype to justify current and higher prices.  That will come in the form of projections, often unfounded, for the new year, 2018.  Look for lists of stocks destined to benefit from tax cut legislation. Some of these lists will uncover stocks of companies that will benefit, however some of those stocks will have already moved up in anticipation of the passage of the tax bill.
      Not only will 2018 be an election year, it will also feature some wild developments arising from the Mueller commission.
      That suggests volatility, uncertainty and increased risk with a stock market hitting all-time highs and significantly overvalued.
      Throughout the year, the Street hyped tax cuts, and the market responded with a rise in the S&P 500 of 24% putting it at 18.3 times “forward” earnings compared with a 10-year average of 14.1.
TODAY
      As noted, traders and institutions sold the news yesterday, locking in some quick gains and making adjustments to portfolios before year-end. Pre-open futures trading suggests a rally at the open.  Expect volatility to start shortly with irregular trading as decisions  are made for tax purposes and institutions spruce up portfolios  for curb appeal in year-end reports.
       Chance of a 3% – 5% correction  are 45%.
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,241 ; S&P 500:2,676; Nasdaq Comp.:6,756
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:23,331; S&P 500:2,643; Nasdaq Comp.:6,787

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Dominos starting to tumble ?

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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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COMPASSIONLESS: What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?

“He had it coming, he had it coming… he only had himself to blame” (Chicago – Cell Block Tango):   THERE IS 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tricky Year-End Crosscurrents

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,231
S&P 500: 2,642
Nasdaq  Comp6,847.:
Russell 2000:1,537
December   4,    9:12 a.m.
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      What is it with the well-heeled powerbase of the Republican Party  ?  Why do they want to deny people of modest means medical care, needed social benefits, an affordable education and a minimally comfortable retirement ?  Do they want it all for themselves ?  How Christian is favoring the rich over the poor ?
     
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) says there is no money to fund the Children’s Health Insurance program (CHIP) which expired Oct. 1.
      Mic.com quotes Hatch as whining, about  it as a low-cost health insurance plan  for children of low-income families,  saying,  “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the Federal government to do everything.”   Yeah, right, Orrin. These impoverished, ill kids are always looking for a handout.
       What does this have to do with the stock market ?  The extent to which resources are concentrated in a tiny percent of a nation’s populace has a major bearing the health and growth of an economy  and stock market.  Upper income people can only spend so much, the rest goes into investments of one sort or another.  The rest of the populace spends money as it comes in, estimated to account for 70% of consumer spending. These people are the buyers of basics, cars, appliances, food, staples.  THEY drive the economy, not the upper income levels.
        The extremist element of the Republican party is intent on gutting social programs for whatever sick reason, I can only guess, they want separation, privilege, special treatment and no one nipping at their heels or children’s heels. These are not the conservatives who along with liberals built  our nation.  These are constitutional anarchists and want to tear it all down and rebuild in line with their narrow focused ideology.
         Owners of a business, shareholders of a corporation need people to buy their products. It’s really not that complicated.  What I see here is a widening of the gap, a trend to  plutocracy.  That doesn’t make America GREAT.  It doesn’t  enhance  our standard of living and it doesn’t increase our ability to compete in a rapidly changing global marketplace.
         Whether this economy benefits for the HUGE tax cut for corporations depends on what they do with their windfall.  If they continue to buy back their own stock, it will benefit shareholders and upper management with stock options.  If they invest in plant and equipment other than automation that vastly reduces its workforce, the economy will benefit, as is the case with “training” people to cope with the rapid trend to high technology.

Shutdown
      Right now the Street is beginning to worry about a government shutdown on December 8, but as I understand it at this moment, a continuing resolution can extend the deadline to December 22, possibly beyond.
      This gets highly complicated with possibilities changing daily. Does that mean I can’t condense all this to a succinct paragraph or two here ? Yep, sure does. This one will just have to play out.                 
TODAY
      This time of the year has always been a tough read. Cross currents caused by last minute tax selling, institutional portfolio adjustments to hide losers and  establish positions in well publicized recent winners in time for year-end reports cause inconsistent market action.
       Look for a slew of research reports hyping what stocks to buy to capitalize on the passage of the tax bill. Expect a wide range of forecasts for the market in 2018.  Expect a slugfest between the Trump administration and the Mueller commission to include indictments, more Trump lies, resignations,  and possibly  presidential pardons.
        KEEP COOL….STEP BACK FROM THE FRAY
    
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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,217; S&P 500:2,637; Nasdaq Comp.:6,821
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,356 ; S&P 500:2,656; Nasdaq Comp.:6,867

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Dominos starting to tumble ?

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IMHO: THE  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.  
       REPUBLICAN LONG-TERM GOAL:  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):   THERE IS 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odds Favor a Bad Bill Will Pass Senate – One More Surge

Investor’s first read – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,272
S&P 500: 2,647
Nasdaq  Comp.:6.873
Russell 2000:1,544
December   1, 2017   9:12 a.m.
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This is a phony stock market, a phony administration, a phony tax bill.  There is no draft, Senators are expected to vote on serious far reaching provisions not spelled out, research has not been done, the bill has been rushed through in secret, hasn’t been scored. Tax cuts for undeserving corporations are to be paid for by increased economic growth – says who ? Republicans ?  Their donors ?  This is overreach – a scam.

      This is no way to run an administration, a country. This is banana republic stuff… this presidency was stolen …our republic is in the process of being stolen.. ….AND WE WILL PAY A DEAR PRICE FOR THIS IDEOLOGICAL SUBTERFUGE.
        Endless lies, deception at all levels, a narcissistic, delusional president, a well-documented pathological liar…a purveyor of divisiveness…the most dangerous man on earth…
        Worse yet,  too many clueless voters, too busy with multitasking to pay attention.  Corporations which stand to get a massive tax break, which accounted for one-third of federal revenues 60 years ago, now pay only a mere fraction of their way… SHAME ON THESE CONSTITUTIONAL ANARCHISTS, SHAME ON AMERICANS WHO ARE NOT IN THE STREETS SCREAMING –“ENOUGH!”
         This is all about “control and denial” …about maxing highly leveraged investment/speculative positions and lining the pockets of greedy people who don’t give a damn about America, what it can be, what so many Americans worked for, built,  died for.  This is rape and pillage of what we hold dear. We are on a precipice …
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       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.
       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
      Odds favor a vote will go beyond today, possibly over the week end.  There are suddenly serious concerns for the impact of huge tax cuts on future deficits. A “trigger” that would automatically increase taxes if federal revenues fall short in coming years is laughable. What administration in the future would let that happen ?  More lies and deception.
       This is a BAD bill with far, far  reaching consequences, all for middle America and people with less resources. That smacks of disaster.  Some 70% of consumer spending IS the economy. These people are not the beneficiaries of tax cuts. The ones who are won’t spend more, corporations will invest a bit in plant and equipment then buy back their own stock, shrink its cap and drive prices higher maxing their executive options.
        Much of the corporate benefits are already priced in rising  stock prices.  But late stage bull markets run wild, so passage should generate one more surge, which BIG money will use to dump positions that would otherwise depress prices.      
The RISK here is:

-the stock market is very overpriced, even given tax breaks. Failure to pass this bill in coming days  will trigger a sharp correction, which would be short-lived IF passage is still possible weeks out.   If the bill is unpassable, look for an 18% to 21% 6-day flash crash.
-President Trump et al, will soon be taken down by the Mueller commission, assuming Trump does not fire Mueller, or resign after pardoning key people.
CONCLUSION:
        I have warned of risk for months. I was wrong about the timing, but not the risk. Bull markets tend to plod ahead, extended by hype and hopes for yet greater portfolio gains.  Bear markets accelerate in face of mounting fear and are over sooner.
        I’m not sure when a bear will start. I think an ugly correction is imminent.  It could turn into a bear if new negatives hit it when it is down and ready to rebound.
        My concern here is that readers are aware of the risk, which in late stage bull markets is invisible due to all the headlines about “new” highs.
        Earlier today, the futures indicated a sell off at the open. Then rumors spread it can pass. 

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SUPPORT “today”: DJIA:24,101; S&P 500:2,631; Nasdaq Comp.:6,821
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA: 24,361; S&P 500:2,659; Nasdaq Comp.:6,896

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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):   THERE IS 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.