Q1 Earnings Could Still Trigger a Big Rally

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,311
S&P 500: 2,669
Nasdaq Comp.:1,119
Russell 2000:1,556

Monday
, April 30, 2018  9:06 a.m.
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NOTE: I will not publish Wednesday thru Friday
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     
      While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted  for months the possibility April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
     
That rally has had difficulty developing even though the Street has been projecting a  20%+ increase for S&P 500’s Q1. Now it’s projecting  a 23% increase in Q1 2018 over Q1 2017.  For the year as a whole, the S&P 500 earnings are expected to increase 19%.

       Granted, current levels of prices discount large increases in earnings, even a year out.   Nevertheless, a surge this month is still possible.
       So far, market action indicates that it can’t happen. I still think investors need to be prepared  for the possibility of a surge of 4%-5% in the DJIA, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Comp..
        If so, the rally would be driven not just by a big jump in Q1 earnings, but by the fact they are coming in better than projected.
       That could prompt institutional sellers to cut back on selling in expectation of higher prices and even do some buying.
        That would set up a May top followed by a slide into the fall.
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SUMMARY

POSITIVES:

      S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 19% this year. Q1 projections currently now a smidge above +23%.      The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks. A surge at the opening of 500 Dow points is needed to break the ice.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.955%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.8 times earnings and 16.4 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
      The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
      The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
      Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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      Even if we get a belated earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

 THE MARKET

       Think-alike institutions tend to act in unison since they generally follow and react to the same indicators.  A big open could trigger a stampede.
        This would be ideal for traders who are quick to bail if  the rally stalls.  Investors don’t tend to be so nimble, so a rally failure could result is losses.
        Should it happen, investors with low cash positions would be given a second chance to raise cash.

        Bull market tops take longer to develop and are fraught with rally failures, days when the market jumps sharply looking like a big move is afoot only to end the day on the downside.
        I am not bullish.  I do think it is necessary to alert readers to the possibility of one more surge in this bull market before it begins its descent.  Risks for new positions are high.
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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,251; S&P 500:2,665;Nasdaq Comp.:7,110
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,436; S&P 500:2,683; Nasdaq Comp.:7,155

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
      We have a President who has serious emotional disorders.
Worse yet, far too many Americans simply can’t see it.   His election was a big mistake, and when you make big mistakes, you pay a big price.
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Corporations got a 40% tax cut.  What did you get ? 1.2%, 1.5%?
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North Korea give up nuclear weapons ?  Never !  Kim wants a global stage, so does Trump, who will not risk being embarrassed by the little tyrant. Trump will bail.  He needs a villain to trash to please his base. Kim has what he wants, the recognition as a nuclear power, and he can thank a blundering Trump for it. If Trump deserves credit for the recent lovefest between the two Koreas, then is entitled to it.  Currently, he is taking 100% credit.  I think he has been played like a harp.  
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Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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George Brooks
Investor’s first read
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Brooks007read@aol.com
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Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Algos at Crossroad – Big Up, Big Down

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,322
S&P 500: 2,666
Nasdaq Comp.:7,118
Russell 2000:1,557

Thursday
, April 26, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     
      While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted  for months the possibility April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
      That rally has had difficulty developing even though the Street has been projecting a 17% – 20% increase for the quarter.

      While the economy looks great, interest rates are rising, goosed by Fed policy.  The 10-year treasury hit  3.02% today.

      The rally has been met by sellers looking out to what can be expected next year when the economic expansion  is 10 years old, well beyond the norm.

      Consider the following in an environment that things appear that they can’t get better.
POSITIVES:

      S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 18% this year
      The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.99%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.4 times earnings and 16.6 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
      The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
      The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
      Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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      Even if we get a belated earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

 THE MARKET
      This is not what I would expect from an earnings driven market rebound based on 17%-20%  earnings increases.
       The market action is guarded.  It should be charging out of the gate.
       That may still happen as the Street weighs corporate guidance and adjusts projections for the future.
        The Street is wary and for good reason – Stocks are overpriced based on year ahead earnings.
         Looks like a big move up or down, as institutions ponder the decision to BUY or SELL.

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,248 ; S&P 500:2,656;Nasdaq Comp.:7,081
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,446; S&P 500:2,679; Nasdaq Comp.:7,161

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
      We have a President who has serious emotional disorders.
Worse yet, far too many Americans simply can’t see it. 
His election was a big mistake, and when you make big mistakes, you pay a big price.
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North Korea give up nuclear weapons ?  Never !  Kim wants a global stage, so does Trump, who will not risk being embarrassed by the little tyrant. Trump will bail.  He needs a villain to trash to please his base. Kim has what he wants, the recognition as a nuclear power, and he can thank a blundering Trump for it.
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Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
      
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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   
.…………………………
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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulls Must Make Something Happen Soon, or else

INVESTOR’S first read.com Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,083
S&P 500: 2,639
Nasdaq Comp.:2,003
Russell 2000:1,550

Thursday
, April 26, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     
      While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted  for months the possibility April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
      That rally has failed to develop even though the Street has been projecting a 17% – 20% increase for the quarter.

      While the economy looks great, interest rates are rising, goosed by Fed policy.  The 10-year treasury hit  3.02% today.

      The rally has been met by sellers looking out to what can be expected next year when the economic expansion  is 10 years old, well beyond the norm.

      Consider the following in an environment that things appear that they can’t get better.
POSITIVES:

      S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 18% this year
      The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.99%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.4 times earnings and 16.6 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
      The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
      The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
      Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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      Even if we get a belated earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

 THE MARKET
      As noted yesterday, institutions will jump on lower prices produced by sell offs, however there has to be a follow through after a bounce if any rally of significance is going to result.
       Yesterday’s bounce was a ho-hummer, and so far today looks like a repeat.
Even so, this is such a news sensitive market anything can happen, and that includes a sharp move either way.  It’s called volatility and it thrives on uncertainty as noted above under positives and negatives.
        This acts like a bear market. We do not have the persistent buying on dips, at the market, even above the market we had last year.

        Bear market rallies can suck cash laden investors in only to have another sell off make them regret it. 
        At some point, institutions will make a major decision to buy aggressively or begin raising some serious cash.  Right now they are on the fence stubbornly refusing to admit the 2009 – 2018 bull market may be history.
        Most plug the same data into their analytic algorithms, so most will arrive at a similar decision – that spells a big move up or down.
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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:23.967; S&P 500:2,631;Nasdaq Comp.:6,939
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,213; S&P 500:2,656; Nasdaq Comp.:7,029
 months old.

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
North Korea give up nuclear weapons ?  Never !  Kim wants a global stage, so does Trump, who will not risk being embarrassed by the little tyrant. Trump will bail.  He needs a villain to trash to please his base. Kim has what he wants, the recognition as a nuclear power, and he can thank a blundering Trump for it.
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Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
      
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Stock Weakness Hammering Market

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,024
S&P 500: 2,634
Nasdaq Comp.:7,007
Russell 2000:1,553

Wednesday
, April 25, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     
      While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted  for months the possibility April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
      That rally has failed to develop even though the Street has been projecting a 17% – 20% increase for the quarter.

      While the economy looks great, interest rates are rising, goosed by Fed policy.  The 10-year treasury hit  3.02% today.

      The rally has been met by sellers looking out to what can be expected next year when the economic expansion  is 10 years old, well beyond the norm.

      Consider the following in an environment that things appear that they can’t get better.
POSITIVES:

      S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 18% this year
      The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.99%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.4 times earnings and 16.6 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
      The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
      The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
      Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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      Even if we get a belated earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

 THE MARKET
      “Q1 Earnings Rally – Now or Never” was my headline yesterday for the possibility of a Q1 earnings-based rally. 
After a 131-point jump in the DJIA at the open, the DJIA plunged 425 points (1.74%) casting a “never” vote for a rally that was expected to accompany a 17% – 20% increase in Q1 earnings.
      The S&P 500 dropped 1.34%, the Nasdaq Comp. 1.70%.
      The Tech stocks, which institutions loaded up on recently, led the carnage with the FANG stocks posting huge losses for the day – Facebook (FB: –3.71%), Amazon (AMZN: – 3.81%), Netflix (NFLX: -3.66%), Google: -4.45%).
      The BIG money doesn’t like what it sees, now, or one year out, when I think we will be in, or on the threshold of, a recession.
      The Fed is steadily increasing interest rates, the 10-year treasury is above 3.0% today.  
        Expect an attempt to bounce today, as institutions  jump on lower prices.
The problem here is follow through.    

            Sellers have been feeding stock out  carefully for three months. Any acceleration of that selling will result in an ugly plunge below the February 9 lows (DJIA:23,360; S&P 500: 2,532; Nasdaq Comp.: 6,630).
      Why then no Q1 earnings-based rally as the results are posted ?
      For one, the market is vastly overvalued currently, and based on year ahead projections , as well. Earnings gains in 2019 won’t be as impressive, especially if a recession hits the economy. While hot-money institutions will trade aggressively, with little regard for news, there is a huge sector that looks ahead a year out  and positions portfolios to exploit what may be then.
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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:23,951; S&P 500:2,627;Nasdaq Comp.:6,919
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,156; S&P 500:2,647; Nasdaq Comp.:7,651
 months old.

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
North Korea give up nuclear weapons ?  Never !  Kim wants a global stage, so does Trump, who will not risk being embarrassed by the little tyrant. Trump will bail.  He needs a villain to trash to please his base. Kim has what he wants, the recognition as a nuclear power, and he can thank a blundering Trump for it.
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Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q1 Earnings Rally – Now or Never

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,448
S&P 500: 2,670
Nasdaq Comp.:7,128
Russell 2000:1,562

Tuesday
, April 24, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     
      While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.

      The rebound from the April 2 correction lows has been erratic with a bunch of one-day reversals.
      This is the Q1 earnings rally I have been referring, and there were days it simply didn’t look like it would happen.
      The Street is looking for a 17% – 20% jump in Q1 earnings, that should attract buyers. But earnings are just beginning to pour in with 3M (MMM), Catepillar (CAT), Verizon (VZ), United Tech (UTX), Travelers (TRV), Coca-Cola (KO) reporting today.
      While the economy looks great, interest rates are rising, goosed by Fed policy.  The 10-year treasury stands at 2.97% after hitting 3.0% yesterday.

      The rally has been met by sellers looking out to what can be expected next year when the economic expansion  is 10 years old, well beyond the norm.

      Consider the following in an environment that things appear that they can’t get better.
POSITIVES:

      S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 18% this year
      The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.99%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.4 times earnings and 16.6 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
      The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
      The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
      Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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      Even if we get a big earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

 THE MARKET TODAY
       Futures trading indicates a strong open with the DJIA jumping more than 150 points. If we are going to get a Q1 earnings rally, this should be it. It should be good for a 1,000 – 1,200-point surge in the DJIA (80 points in the S&P 500).
       Failure to rise in face of strong earnings reports would signal a big move down.  I have been expecting the BIG money to sell into this rally, but after it gained momentum.

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,333; S&P 500:2,651;Nasdaq Comp.:7,079
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,587; S&P 500:2,685; Nasdaq Comp.:7,167
 months old.

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
North Korea give up nuclear weapons ?  Never !  Kim wants a global stage, so does Trump, who will not risk being embarrassed by the little tyrant. Trump will bail.  He needs a villain to trash to please his base. Kim has what he wants, the recognition as a nuclear power, and he can thank a blundering Trump for it.
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Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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   
.…………………………
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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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
……………………………………
  “Connect the Dots.” This investigation is open-ended. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10-Year Treasury Hits 2.99% – Street Nervous

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,462
S&P 500: 2,670
Nasdaq Comp.:7,146
Russell 2000:1,564

Monday
, April 23, 2018  6:51 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
   
  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:     

While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
       However, that rally is having trouble gaining momentum, but can still happen as impressive earnings roll in.
        With or without an earnings rally, I expect a slide into the fall beginning in May, possibly sooner with mounting negatives..
POSITIVES:

       S&P 500 earnings will increase close to 18% this year

       The market should respond positively as Q1 earnings are reported in coming weeks.
NEGATIVES:

RISING INTEREST RATES:
      The 10-year treasury bond
has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and now stands at 2.99%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a sell off.
OVERVALUED MARKET:  
      Thompson Reuters reports the S&P 500 sells at 19.4 times earnings and 16.6 times a year from now. All this versus a 10-year average of 14.3.
      The Shiller P/E runs much higher at 31.7 times earnings versus a mean of 16.9.  Shiller’s P/E is based on  inflation adjusted earnings over 10 years.
       The S&P 500 price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
AGING BULL MARKET:

      The bull market is now  nine years and two months old (110 months).  That’s 3.5 times the average of the last 15 bull markets.
AGING ECONOMIC EXPANSION:
       The current economic expansion has lasted 106 months. That’s 47 months (1.8x) longer that the average expansion going back to 1945.  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
        The onset of bear markets lead the beginning of recessions by 8.5 months going back to 1956, so don’t look for a recession to signal a bear market. The longest lead time was 13 months (1968 – 1969) The “mode” (most frequent) is 12 months.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING:
       Will he fire Rosenstein, then Mueller ?  Resign ? Create a series of constitutional crises ? Will, Mueller release devastating information about him
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       Even if we get a big earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

       The BIG money is big because they leave early before recessions or market downturns, and return before market bottoms when everyone else is selling.

       Market tops take longer to develop than market bottoms. The latter usually involves one more ugly  spike down as terrified investors dump the rest of their holdings.
       Market tops tend to trace out an irregular  rounding pattern, driven by investors unwilling to concede the party is over and keep buying even after the bear market begins.                      

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,407; S&P 500:2,665;Nasdaq Comp.:7,131
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,498; S&P 500:2,678; Nasdaq Comp.:7,168
 months old.

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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Impeachment of Trump unlikely with this Republican House. Trump has surrounded himself with newly appointed Cabinet members, so Section 4 of the 25th amendment is not a reality.   What’s left ?  A deal with Mueller for his RESIGNATION ?
      He could
tweet forever how he accomplished tax cuts, deregulation, a big spend on the military. He could claim that though he was mistreated by the press, he will still go down in history as the best President ever.

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Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
      
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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   
.…………………………
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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulls Spooked By Rising Interest Rates

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,664
S&P 500: 2,693
Nasdaq Comp.:7,238
Russell 2000:1,573

Friday
, April 20, 2018  9:01 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
   
  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:
       While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
       However that rally is having trouble gaining momentum.
       Yes, I expect a slide from May to September/October, but with  Q1 earnings  projected to increase 17%, a rally should come first. 
       Possible reasons include:

       -rising interest rates. The 10-year treasury bond has been rising sharply over the last two weeks and stands at 2.92%.  The prospect for higher rates  is one reason for buyers’ hesitation to chase stocks. A jump above 3.0% could trigger a panic.
       -Is it a market that is extremely overvalued ?        
       -Is the prospect of a recession beginning late this year, or next, the problem ?
       -Is it concern about Trump replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with someone who will fire Special Counsel  Mueller  holding buyers back, ?           

       Most likely,  it’s all of the above.
       Even if we get a big earnings driven rally, I expect the BIG money to sell into it, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

       The BIG money is big because they leave early before recessions or market downturns, and return before market bottoms when everyone else is selling.

       Market tops take longer to develop than market bottoms. The latter usually involves one more ugly  spike down as terrified investors dump the rest of their holdings.
       Market tops tend to trace out an irregular  rounding pattern, driven by investors unwilling to concede the party is over and keep buying even after the bear market begins. 
      They are hard to accept, because the economy always looks too good to be true at the time the market is topping out.  That’s because bear markets start 6 – 9 months before recessions begin.
THE MARKET
      The Street projects a 17% earnings increase for 2018 as a whole, and should be bullish, but aren’t buying aggressively.  This is not a healthy sign.  
       As noted above and below, this market is seriously overpriced even based on earnings after a 17% rise  12 months out, and the bull market is now nine years and two>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,511; S&P 500:2,676;Nasdaq Comp.:7,171
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,746; S&P 500:2,703; Nasdaq Comp.:7,263
 months old.

 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

RECENT

      Last June, I began running a piece on Trump firing Mueller (see below “Will Trump Fire Mueller ?)
      A few things changed in DOJ’s personnel, and I added new info, but there was never any question that if Trump’s back was pressed to the wall, he would attempt to fire Mueller, eliminate the regulation establishing a special counsel, plant someone in DOJ who will inhibit the probe, or resign, tweeting endlessly how many things he accomplished (tax cuts, gutting the EPA and other regs. designed to prevent predators and companies from hurting people, withdrawing from long-standing trade agreements, threatening the same for NATO, and taking on China and North Korea).
      Due to the possibility  of one of these things happening in the near future, I have moved this section up to the beginning of my “Political/Stock Market” section.
       Saturday Night massacre # 2 this weekend, this month ?
       Yes !  He’ll start with DOJ, probably Rosenstein. He may appoint someone in his administration who already has Senate confirmation to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who will then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
        EPA brat, Scott Pruitt would be a likely choice. It would be a hit and run, because Pruitt is three steps ahead of  getting fired for a host of improprieties .  He would be in DOJ just long enough to fire Rosenstein, then Mueller.
        The other alternative would be to replace Rosenstein with someone not needing confirmation who would intentionally throw up roadblocks to Mueller’s progress by requiring frequent progress reports and leaking key information to the White House.
         READ “Will trump Fire Mueller below under Political /Stock Market

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RECENT     

      While I believe we have seen the highs for the 2009 to 2018 bull market , at least for the S&P 500 and DJIA, I have referred to the possibility of one final break out to new highs before June, similar to that which took place before the bull market top preceding the 2007 – 2009 bear market, the one that took the S&P 500 down 55%. (see above)

      The bull market and economic recovery  are aging. The average bull market lasts 30 months, this one has lasted 109 months.  The average economic expansion has lasted 59 months. This one has lasted 107 months.
      The Street worried about a trade war now that China has retaliated  to       

      Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports with $3 billion  tariffs on 128 US        products imported to China.

      The Street is concerned that the Fed will amp up its tightening ?
      The Street is worried about the prospect of an implosion of Trump’s administration and a big win for Democrats in November ?
       The Street is worried that stock valuations are far too high ? Currently the S&P 500 sells at a price/earnings ratio close to twice the norm based on Shiller’s calculations (Cyclically adjusted price earnings – CAPE) which is adjusted for inflation over 10 years. It now runs at 31.7 versus a 16.1 average over 10 years. CAPE has its critics  who say it runs too high, but relative to past years, it is higher than all past levels except the 1999-2000 internet bubble (44.2) which preceded a 50%  drop in the S&P 500. The S&P 500’ price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
      Does the Street see a recession starting in 2019 (as I do) ?  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      Business can’t get better, but the economic recovery started nine years ago is due to end  in face of too much corporate and consumer debt, and the prospect for the unwinding of  so many derivatives  held by financial institutions.   

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Trump and the 25th:

      Always lurking out there is the possibility President Trump will attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation, and that could adversely impact the market and in time, the economy, as uncertainty about governance mounts.
      This would create a constitutional crisis, and an attempt to remove him from office.  This Republican Congress would never impeach him, it can’t conduct  an impartial investigation of the Russia meddling issue on its own.
      Section 4 of the 25th Amendment  is a possibility, but that would require a vote to remove by 8 of the 15 Cabinet members. See below: “Removing Trump From Office”)

     This may explain what the remake of Trump’s new cabinet is all about, the construction of a firewall against the removal using the 25th.
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Flawed trickle down economics is back with Larry Kudlow soon to be the new head of the National Economic Council.  Pssst !  It doesn’t trickle down,  corporations  keep it all for themselves.
      When the recession comes, it will be the consumer who triggers it.  They are tapped out, too much debt, too little savings and no meaningful increase in pay adjusted for inflation for decades.
      Corporations got a 40% tax cut. What will they spend this freebie on, capital goods investment, or stock buybacks ? Probably mostly the latter. With a recession looming in the future, why would they spend a lot on capital expansion ?      
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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buyers Absent…..What Gives

INVESTOR’S first read.comDaily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,748
S&P 500: 2,708
Nasdaq Comp.:7,298
Russell 2000:1,583

Thursday
, April 19, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:
       While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
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       Something is missing here.  Tuesday’s breakout should have been followed by frenzied buying as impressive corporate earnings have begun to roll in.  Not so. Yesterday’s market action was a ho-hummer, and today is getting off to a slow start with pre-open futures trading down.
       What is keeping buyers on the sidelines ?  Yes, I expect a slide from May to September/October, but with  Q1 earnings  projected to increase 17%, a rally should come first. 
          
       Is the prospect of a recession beginning late this year, or next, the problem ?
       Is it concern about Trump replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with someone who will fire Special Counsel Robert  Mueller  holding buyers back, ?

       I doubt the market can rise to new highs, Nasdaq an exception, assuming we get the rally. Before the 12% drop in January/February, I thought a brief rally to new highs was possible, however that sharp plunge created potential sellers as the market moves up.  Possible, but unlikely.
       I would expect the BIG money to sell into this rally, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

       The BIG money got that way by leaving bull markets early and  returning shortly before  bear market bottoms, when terrified investors are dumping stocks indiscriminately .

       Market tops take longer to develop than market bottoms. The latter usually involves one more ugly  spike down as terrified investors dump the rest of their holdings.
       Market tops tend to trace out an irregular  rounding pattern, driven by investors unwilling to concede the party is over and keep buying even after the bear market begins. 
      They are hard to accept, because the economy always looks too good to be true at the time the market is topping out.  That’s because bear markets start 6 – 9 months before recessions begin.
THE MARKET
       The market struggled for seven trading days before breaking out Tuesday  with healthy gains in the DJIA, S&P 500, Nasdaq Comp. and Russell 2000. That breakout should have been followed by frenzied buying – it wasn’t.
        If the BIG money starts selling now rather than waiting for an earnings based rally, a slide into fall will start sooner rather than later. 
        Buyers must show up soon.

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RECENT

      Last June, I began running a piece on Trump firing Mueller (see below “Will Trump Fire Mueller ?)
      A few things changed in DOJ’s personnel, and I added new info, but there was never any question that if Trump’s back was pressed to the wall, he would attempt to fire Mueller, eliminate the regulation establishing a special counsel, plant someone in DOJ who will inhibit the probe, or resign, tweeting endlessly how many things he accomplished (tax cuts, gutting the EPA and other regs. designed to prevent predators and companies from hurting people, withdrawing from long-standing trade agreements, threatening the same for NATO, and taking on China and North Korea).
      Due to the possibility  of one of these things happening in the near future, I have moved this section up to the beginning of my “Political/Stock Market” section.
       Saturday Night massacre # 2 this weekend, this month ?
       Yes !  He’ll start with DOJ, probably Rosenstein. He may appoint someone in his administration who already has Senate confirmation to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who will then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
        EPA brat, Scott Pruitt would be a likely choice. It would be a hit and run, because Pruitt is three steps ahead of  getting fired for a host of improprieties .  He would be in DOJ just long enough to fire Rosenstein, then Mueller.
        The other alternative would be to replace Rosenstein with someone not needing confirmation who would intentionally throw up roadblocks to Mueller’s progress by requiring frequent progress reports and leaking key information to the White House.
         READ “Will trump Fire Mueller below under Political /Stock Market

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,756; S&P 500:2,704;Nasdaq Comp.:7,274
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,897; S&P 500:2,718; Nasdaq Comp.:7,314
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RECENT     

      While I believe we have seen the highs for the 2009 to 2018 bull market , at least for the S&P 500 and DJIA, I have referred to the possibility of one final break out to new highs before June, similar to that which took place before the bull market top preceding the 2007 – 2009 bear market, the one that took the S&P 500 down 55%. (see above)

      The bull market and economic recovery  are aging. The average bull market lasts 30 months, this one has lasted 109 months.  The average economic expansion has lasted 59 months. This one has lasted 107 months.
      The Street worried about a trade war now that China has retaliated  to       

      Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports with $3 billion  tariffs on 128 US        products imported to China.

      The Street is concerned that the Fed will amp up its tightening ?
      The Street is worried about the prospect of an implosion of Trump’s administration and a big win for Democrats in November ?
       The Street is worried that stock valuations are far too high ? Currently the S&P 500 sells at a price/earnings ratio close to twice the norm based on Shiller’s calculations (Cyclically adjusted price earnings – CAPE) which is adjusted for inflation over 10 years. It now runs at 31.7 versus a 16.1 average over 10 years. CAPE has its critics  who say it runs too high, but relative to past years, it is higher than all past levels except the 1999-2000 internet bubble (44.2) which preceded a 50%  drop in the S&P 500. The S&P 500’ price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
      Does the Street see a recession starting in 2019 (as I do) ?  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      Business can’t get better, but the economic recovery started nine years ago is due to end  in face of too much corporate and consumer debt, and the prospect for the unwinding of  so many derivatives  held by financial institutions.   

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Trump and the 25th:

      Always lurking out there is the possibility President Trump will attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation, and that could adversely impact the market and in time, the economy, as uncertainty about governance mounts.
      This would create a constitutional crisis, and an attempt to remove him from office.  This Republican Congress would never impeach him, it can’t conduct  an impartial investigation of the Russia meddling issue on its own.
      Section 4 of the 25th Amendment  is a possibility, but that would require a vote to remove by 8 of the 15 Cabinet members. See below: “Removing Trump From Office”)

     This may explain what the remake of Trump’s new cabinet is all about, the construction of a firewall against the removal using the 25th.
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Flawed trickle down economics is back with Larry Kudlow soon to be the new head of the National Economic Council.  Pssst !  It doesn’t trickle down,  corporations  keep it all for themselves.
      When the recession comes, it will be the consumer who triggers it.  They are tapped out, too much debt, too little savings and no meaningful increase in pay adjusted for inflation for decades.
      Corporations got a 40% tax cut. What will they spend this freebie on, capital goods investment, or stock buybacks ? Probably mostly the latter. With a recession looming in the future, why would they spend a lot on capital expansion ?      
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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Beware of any amendment attached to a Congressional bill to protect Special Counsel Mueller that would enable Republicans to impede Mueller’s investigation.  Network television has overlooked this possibility even though Republican Senator Chuck  Grassley has proposed one.

Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ.

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
      
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q1 Earnings Hitting Street

INVESTOR’S first read.com Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,786
S&P 500: 2,706
Nasdaq Comp.:7,281
Russell 2000:1,579

Wednesday
, April 18, 2018  9:01 a.m.
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  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
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TODAY:
       While I believe we have seen the top of the 2009 – 2018  bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
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       (
Yesterday, Jeff Hirsch, Stock Trader’s Almanac,  reminded me that I incorrectly referred to the date of the 2009-2018 bull market as 2007 – 2009, the preceding bear market.   For many years I wrote for his farther, Yale, an incredibly prescient founder of the Almanac. Jeff  continues to edit/publish the Almanac, now in its 60th year, and   recognized as “the” source for just about everything investors need to know about market data, seasonality, probability, personalities,  and history).
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       We got technical liftoff yesterday in all major market averages. Now, if no one in  the White House does something impulsive, and reckless, we can get a stellar rally as Q1 earnings roll in amid lots of hype by the Street and financial press.     

       I doubt the market can rise to new highs, Nasdaq an exception. Before the 12% drop in January/February, I thought a brief rally to new highs was possible, however that sharp plunge created potential sellers as the market moves up.  Possible, but unlikely.
       I do expect the BIG money to sell into this rally, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well.

       The BIG money got that way by leaving bull markets early and  returning shortly before  bear market bottoms, when terrified investors are dumping stocks indiscriminately .

       Market tops take longer to develop than market bottoms. The latter usually involves one more ugly  spike down as terrified investors dump the rest of their holdings.
       Market tops tend to trace out an irregular  rounding pattern, driven by investors unwilling to concede the party is over and keep buying even after the bear market begins. 
      They are hard to accept, because the economy always looks too good to be true at the time the market is topping out.  That’s because bear markets start 6 – 9 months before recessions begin.
THE MARKET
       The market has struggled for seven trading days before breaking out yesterday with healthy gains in the DJIA, S&P 500, Nasdaq Comp. and Russell 2000. That should continue into May when I expect the market to begin a slide into September/October.
        If the BIG money starts selling now rather than wait for an earnings based rally, that slide will start sooner.

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RECENT

      Last June, I began running a piece on Trump firing Mueller (see below “Will Trump Fire Mueller ?)
      A few things changed in DOJ’s personnel, and I added new info, but there was never any question that if Trump’s back was pressed to the wall, he would attempt to fire Mueller, eliminate the regulation establishing a special counsel, plant someone in DOJ who will inhibit the probe, or resign, tweeting endlessly how many things he accomplished (tax cuts, gutting the EPA and other regs. designed to prevent predators and companies from hurting people, withdrawing from long-standing trade agreements, threatening the same for NATO, and taking on China and North Korea).
      Due to the possibility  of one of these things happening in the near future, I have moved this section up to the beginning of my “Political/Stock Market” section.
       Saturday Night massacre # 2 this weekend, this month ?
       Yes !  He’ll start with DOJ, probably Rosenstein. He may appoint someone in his administration who already has Senate confirmation to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who will then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
        EPA brat, Scott Pruitt would be a likely choice. It would be a hit and run, because Pruitt is three steps ahead of  getting fired for a host of improprieties .  He would be in DOJ just long enough to fire Rosenstein, then Mueller.
        The other alternative would be to replace Rosenstein with someone not needing confirmation who would intentionally throw up roadblocks to Mueller’s progress by requiring frequent progress reports and leaking key information to the White House.
         READ “Will trump Fire Mueller below under Political /Stock Market

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,756; S&P 500:2,704;Nasdaq Comp.:7,274
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,897; S&P 500:2,718; Nasdaq Comp.:7,314
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RECENT     

      While I believe we have seen the highs for the 2009 to 2018 bull market , at least for the S&P 500 and DJIA, I have referred to the possibility of one final break out to new highs before June, similar to that which took place before the bull market top preceding the 2007 – 2009 bear market, the one that took the S&P 500 down 55%. (see above)

      The bull market and economic recovery  are aging. The average bull market lasts 30 months, this one has lasted 109 months.  The average economic expansion has lasted 59 months. This one has lasted 107 months.
      The Street worried about a trade war now that China has retaliated  to       

      Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports with $3 billion  tariffs on 128 US        products imported to China.

      The Street is concerned that the Fed will amp up its tightening ?
      The Street is worried about the prospect of an implosion of Trump’s administration and a big win for Democrats in November ?
       The Street is worried that stock valuations are far too high ? Currently the S&P 500 sells at a price/earnings ratio close to twice the norm based on Shiller’s calculations (Cyclically adjusted price earnings – CAPE) which is adjusted for inflation over 10 years. It now runs at 31.7 versus a 16.1 average over 10 years. CAPE has its critics  who say it runs too high, but relative to past years, it is higher than all past levels except the 1999-2000 internet bubble (44.2) which preceded a 50%  drop in the S&P 500. The S&P 500’ price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
      Does the Street see a recession starting in 2019 (as I do) ?  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      Business can’t get better, but the economic recovery started nine years ago is due to end  in face of too much corporate and consumer debt, and the prospect for the unwinding of  so many derivatives  held by financial institutions.   

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Trump and the 25th:

      Always lurking out there is the possibility President Trump will attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation, and that could adversely impact the market and in time, the economy, as uncertainty about governance mounts.
      This would create a constitutional crisis, and an attempt to remove him from office.  This Republican Congress would never impeach him, it can’t conduct  an impartial investigation of the Russia meddling issue on its own.
      Section 4 of the 25th Amendment  is a possibility, but that would require a vote to remove by 8 of the 15 Cabinet members. See below: “Removing Trump From Office”)

     This may explain what the remake of Trump’s new cabinet is all about, the construction of a firewall against the removal using the 25th.
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Flawed trickle down economics is back with Larry Kudlow soon to be the new head of the National Economic Council.  Pssst !  It doesn’t trickle down,  corporations  keep it all for themselves.
      When the recession comes, it will be the consumer who triggers it.  They are tapped out, too much debt, too little savings and no meaningful increase in pay adjusted for inflation for decades.
      Corporations got a 40% tax cut. What will they spend this freebie on, capital goods investment, or stock buybacks ? Probably mostly the latter. With a recession looming in the future, why would they spend a lot on capital expansion ?      
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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ>

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
      
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q1 Earnings Breakout, Struggling, Still Possible

INVESTOR’S first read.com Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 24,573
S&P 500: 2,677
Nasdaq Comp.:7,156
Russell 2000:1,563

Tuesday, April 17, 2018  9:11 a.m.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
   
  This volatility is EXACTLY what I meant  December 27,  when I Warned:

“2018: The Wildest One in Years.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
“Trump a Human Wrecking Ball”: 
(Investors first read 1/3/2017)
“Trump to Put U.S. on War Footing” (Investors first read (1/12/2017)
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TODAY:
       While I believe we have seen the top of the 2007 – 2009 bull market, I have noted for months, April/May would produce a Q1 earnings rally.
       It has had difficulty gaining liftoff, primarily due to unexpected news events that have cast a pall on investor confidence.
      We are at a technical breakout level in the major market averages, one that given a chance can produce a sharp earnings driven rally.
       Eager to get bailed out from the damage inflicted by the  12% plunge in prices earlier in the year, the Street will hype earnings reports, corporate guidance and projections by analysts to get back what was suddenly lost in January/February.
       I doubt the market can rise to new highs, Nasdaq an exception.
       I do expect the BIG money to sell into this rally, since stocks are not only historically overvalued based on current earnings, but on year ahead earnings, as well..

       The BIG money got that way by leaving bull markets early and  returning shortly before  bear market bottoms, when terrified investors are dumping indiscriminately .

       Market tops take longer to develop than market bottoms. The latter usually involves one more ugly  spike down as terrified investors dump the rest of their holdings.
       Market tops tend to trace out an irregular  rounding pattern, driven by investors unwilling to concede the party is over and keep buying even after the bear market begins. 
      They are hard to accept, because the economy always looks too good to be true at the time the market is topping out.  That’s because bear markets start 6 – 9 months before recessions begin.
       A bump in retail sales can be expected here as consumers spend some of their tax cut savings.  That won’t last long, because the consumer is too deep in debt.

       To make matters worse, savings as a percent of disposable income has plunged dramatically at a time credit card debt is soaring.
THE MARKET
       Expect another rally attempt. It must gain momentum and have a  good reason to follow through based on Q1 earnings to be released in coming weeks. More rally failures would indicate more selling than buying. The DJIA should be able to add 800 – 1,000 points, barring  a worsening of news surrounding the White House and what’s left of its inhabitants.
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RECENT

      Last June, I began running a piece on Trump firing Mueller (see below “Will Trump Fire Mueller ?)
      A few things changed in DOJ’s personnel, and I added new info, but there was never any question that if Trump’s back was pressed to the wall, he would attempt to fire Mueller, eliminate the regulation establishing a special counsel, plant someone in DOJ who will inhibit the probe, or resign, tweeting endlessly how many things he accomplished (tax cuts, gutting the EPA and other regs. designed to prevent predators and companies from hurting people, withdrawing from long-standing trade agreements, threatening the same for NATO, and taking on China and North Korea).
      Due to the possibility  of one of these things happening as soon as this weekend, I have moved this section up to the beginning of my “Political/Stock Market” section.
       Saturday Night massacre # 2 this weekend, this month ?
       Yes !  He’ll start with DOJ, probably Rosenstein. He may appoint someone in his administration who already has Senate confirmation to replace Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who will then fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
        EPA brat, Scott Pruitt would be a likely choice. It would be a hit and run, because Pruitt is three steps ahead of  getting fired for a host of improprieties .  He would be there temporarily to do the firing.
        The other alternative would be to replace Rosenstein with someone not needing confirmation who would intentionally throw up roadblocks to Mueller’s progress by requiring frequent progress reports and leaking key information to the White House.
        Beware of Congressional moves to protect Mueller, they may contain a poison pill to impede his progress.
        READ “Will trump Fire Mueller below under Political /Stock Market

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SUPPORT “today”:DJIA:24,301; S&P 500:2,651;Nasdaq Comp.:7,096
RESISTANCE “today” DJIA:24,576; S&P 500:2,679; Nasdaq Comp.:7,168
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RECENT     

      While I believe we have seen the highs for the 2009 to 2018 bull market , at least for the S&P 500 and DJIA, I have referred to the possibility of one final break out to new highs before June, similar to that which took place before the bull market top preceding the 2007 – 2009 bear market, the one that took the S&P 500 down 55%. (see above)

      The bull market and economic recovery  are aging. The average bull market lasts 30 months, this one has lasted 109 months.  The average economic expansion has lasted 59 months. This one has lasted 107 months.
      The Street worried about a trade war now that China has retaliated  to       

      Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports with $3 billion  tariffs on 128 US        products imported to China.

      The Street is concerned that the Fed will amp up its tightening ?
      The Street is worried about the prospect of an implosion of Trump’s administration and a big win for Democrats in November ?
       The Street is worried that stock valuations are far too high ? Currently the S&P 500 sells at a price/earnings ratio close to twice the norm based on Shiller’s calculations (Cyclically adjusted price earnings – CAPE) which is adjusted for inflation over 10 years. It now runs at 31.7 versus a 16.1 average over 10 years. CAPE has its critics  who say it runs too high, but relative to past years, it is higher than all past levels except the 1999-2000 internet bubble (44.2) which preceded a 50%  drop in the S&P 500. The S&P 500’ price to sales ratio is 2.2 verses  an average of 1.44.  Before the 2007-2009 bear market it stood at 1.5 x.
      Does the Street see a recession starting in 2019 (as I do) ?  Nine out of the last 10 recessions have occurred with a Republican in the White House.
      Business can’t get better, but the economic recovery started nine years ago is due to end  in face of too much corporate and consumer debt, and the prospect for the unwinding of  so many derivatives  held by financial institutions.   

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Trump and the 25th:

      Always lurking out there is the possibility President Trump will attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation, and that could adversely impact the market and in time, the economy, as uncertainty about governance mounts.
      This would create a constitutional crisis, and an attempt to remove him from office.  This Republican Congress would never impeach him, it can’t conduct  an impartial investigation of the Russia meddling issue on its own.
      Section 4 of the 25th Amendment  is a possibility, but that would require a vote to remove by 8 of the 15 Cabinet members. See below: “Removing Trump From Office”)

     This may explain what the remake of Trump’s new cabinet is all about, the construction of a firewall against the removal using the 25th.
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Flawed trickle down economics is back with Larry Kudlow soon to be the new head of the National Economic Council.  Pssst !  It doesn’t trickle down,  corporations  keep it all for themselves.
      When the recession comes, it will be the consumer who triggers it.  They are tapped out, too much debt, too little savings and no meaningful increase in pay adjusted for inflation for decades.
      Corporations got a 40% tax cut. What will they spend this freebie on, capital goods investment, or stock buybacks ? Probably mostly the latter. With a recession looming in the future, why would they spend a lot on capital expansion ?      
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POLITICAL/STOCK MARKET
Must Read: “Will Christian Nationalism Drive Trump’s Base to the Polls in November ?”  Truthout April 15, Bill Berkowitz. This explains why his base of Christians votes for an immoral person, one whose behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ>

Will Trump  Fire Mueller ?

LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF:

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  Nixon did it in 1973 when he had to work through two attorney generals until  his solicitor general, Robert Bork fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. 
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ , or someone outside who has already been confirmed by the Senate who will do it.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2/9/19)      

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ and may be a valuable source of information for the FBI, since he had an inside view.     
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit (already confirmed) has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post there.  We now know that is a stretch given the baggage he carries. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       Philip Bump, Washington Post (WAPO) April 10, did a great job outlining possibilities in, “Why Trump can’t fire Mueller – at least not directly.”  I can only touch on a few of his points here.
       In his article, Georgetown University’s professor Paul Butler raises the interesting point that  firing Mueller may not be necessary if  Rosenstein is replaced by someone hostile to the Special Counsel’s investigation.  He would simply force a stall with lots of demands, even leak information to the White House.   
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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FISCAL CRISIS LOOMS IN FUTURE:  Headlines:“Federal debt primed to explode”….”U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates”….”This Year’s budget deficit to hit $804 B after tax cuts and spending hikes”….
       This is all a Republican scheme to justify massive spending cuts to social, health, educational  and safety net programs. It is called “Starving the Beast,” and will lead to debilitating and prolonged recession/bear market, increased crime, rioting and civil unrest.  Republicans set the stage with massive, unnecessary tax cuts and a big budget spend (see below: “Corporate Tax Cut Irresponsible”)
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Sinclair Broadcast Group  (BEWARE !)

One of my greatest concerns has become reality – Sinclair Broadcast Group is using its clout as owner of  193 television stations as a lever to manipulate local station viewers’ minds pitching it’s right wing propaganda. Viewers tend to trust local stations programing over national networks.
       I called attention to this danger in my September 1, blog, warning that Sinclair’s reach to 80 markets gave it unfettered power. In recent days, Sinclair required news anchors in 200 of its local TV stations to warn viewers that unnamed media are always biased, and publishing fake news. This is a classic example of “projection” where one guilty of doing something wrong actually accuses another of that deed. Sinclair accuses liberal media of manipulation when in fact it is the one doing it.  
         What is more, conservative, Ajit Pae, appointed to FCC Chair by Trump, is trying to push FCC approval of Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Broadcast Group which would greatly expand its reach into New York, La and Chicago markets with an addition of 42 more stations. Currently, the FCC is weighing  the pros and cons of such an acquisition.  Reportedly, if Sinclair is compelled to divest of a number of stations to bypass  anti-trust issues, Fox Broadcasting may be the company to pick them up ???

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TRUMP – A human Wrecking ball ?   My headline  on January 3, 2017
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Cambridge Analytica is center stage again. Palmer.com  reports  someone behind the scenes is trying to block  Britain’s  Channel 4 News from airing an expose  into Cambridge’s role in using  Facebook (FB) to influence voters to vote for Trump and not Clinton.  On Friday,  Facebook  banned Cambridge’s access.  Palmer speculates the Mercers are behind the  attempt to prevent Channel 4’s expose.  I was on  Cambridge’s case back on June 22,  noting that billionaire Robert Mercer was connected to Cambridge through Canada’s Aggregate IQ through an intellectual property agreement and worked to influence voting  in the Brexit referendum.  Aggregate is a data mining company.  While Aggregate denies any connection,  the story won’t go away. Palmer sees a connection between Cambridge and John Bolton’s SUPER PAC.  Palmer notes that UK Parliament is investigating  the connection between Cambridge and Brexit and documents referred to by Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie reveal  the firm gave stolen Facebook  user data to Bolton’s PAC  (receiving stolen goods ?), though it is not known how Bolton used the data if his PAC even received it.  (See below: Mercer on the run ?)

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Remember the name Felix Sater, former business associate of Trump, convicted  Russian mafia money laundering figure, and key FBI informant.
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Another name to watch is Ted Malloch who Palmer.com reports was served a subpoena relating to the Trump/Russia probe.  Malloch is a U. S. citizen living in London with close tire to Roger Stone, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and the Trump campaign.  As noted above in Cambridge Analytica, there is a connection to parties involved in Brexit and Trump’s campaign.
George Nader, Who he ?  Possibly a key source of information. This is highly complicated with new information pending. Nader has long-standing ties in the Mid-East and Washington over many years.  What appears to be important here is he is cooperating with the Mueller probe not as a wrongdoer, but as a source of information.  He has had ties with the Trump administration through Steve Bannon  and reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles Islands January 11, 2017 along with Blackwater founder and former Trump associate, Eric Prince, and Kirill Dmitriev head of a U.S. sanctioned investment firm with close ties to Putin.  Reportedly Nader represented United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
      I referred to the Seychilles meeting on April 5, 2017 noting  the Washington Post reported the meeting was intended to encourage Russia to curtail support for Iran and Syria (Trump wish list) in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
We’ll see.
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Protecting guns and profits have become more important than protecting the lives of young people” Henry A. Giroux, Truthout ,  March 4.
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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IMPLODING.  TRUMP SETTING STAGE FOR FIRING SESSIONS .
      When the boss starts to find fault with an employee for little things, out of nowhere, and for little reason, it’s lights out.
      It looks like a death spiral for this administration is unfolding, 30 aides just lost top secret clearance; communications director, Hope Hicks, resigned . My guess is she has struck a deal with Mueller, who is ratcheting up the pressure on the big Kahuna.
      Is this how General Custer felt in the last hour at Little Big Horn ?
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      Tsunami of anti-gun sentiment finally raging. High school students in Florida are organizing to force Trump, Congress and the NRA to take action.  Banks considering  measures to deny credit financing of gun purchases and advertising.
      Less than a week after the Parkland shootings, Florida lawmakers rejected an attempt to ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines. Big mistake.
      These lawmakers can be replaced, the dead students can’t.
      The outrage is just beginning.  It is estimated that just 3% of Americans own half of the 265 million guns in the country.  The NRA and supporters are out- gunned.
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Why are so many Americans beholden to guns ? It could be their sense of security was rocked by 9/11 plus the Great Recession/Bear Market.  Then it could be racial, a fear that people of different colors will eventually outnumber them, prompting  the need (in their paranoid minds) to stage a forceful change in governance (revolution).  This makes little sense, but from their point of  simplemindedness, they feel more secure with a dozen guns and cases of ammunition in house just in case.
     What these whackos don’t understand is they can’t use their guns outside of their homes for fear of injuring or killing an innocent person which not only sends them to jail, but opens them up to a lawsuit where they lose their stock portfolio, car, house and all those “blankies” that  go bang.  ………………………………………

 

A quasi-fascist state would give Trump the untethered power he craves.
Read: The Ghost of Fascism in the Age of Trump

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43529-the-ghost-of-fascism-in-the-age-of-trump
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Number 3 at DOJ, Rachael Brand, resigns at DOJ (see below)
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WILL TRUMP FIRE MUELLER ? LOOK FOR THIS  TIP-OFF

      Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, it must be done by the Department of Justice.  Trump would have to find someone to do it.  A new appointment to the DOJ may signal Trump’s intent.
     
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein isn’t going to do it, so Trump must find someone from DOJ who will.  Rachel Brand, a conservative who supported Sen. Cruz in 2017 would be in line to take over from Rosenstein, but she just announced she is resigning from DOJ (2?9/19)      Trump must find someone in DOJ to fire Mueller if he wants to do it.    

      DOJ’s Dana Bounte’s resignation last October and his recent  appointment by FBI Director Christopher Wray as general Counsel  for the FBI takes him out of the running, though it is doubtful he would have fired Mueller.   He served as the U.S. Attorney General from the Eastern Dist. of Virginia, as well as, acting assistant attorney general  for the National Security Division of DOJ.     
        Trump has appointed (pending confirmation) former Boeing General Counsel, John Demers, to assume  Boente’s position as U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. He could do it, but he has promised to support the Mueller investigation.
      Unconfirmed rumors are that EPA’s Scott Pruit has shown an interest in the DOJ, is a possibility for a post. there.   Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian/Trump  “investigation” March 2017.
       REASONS NEEDED TO FIRE MUELLER: Trump would have to have  good reason to fire Mueller.  Grounds must be, misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause, including violation of policies of the Department of Justice, and failure to follow Justice Departments guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.
       CAN TRUMP RESCIND  SPECIAL COUNSEL REGULATION ?  Yes, it’s possible but many legal hurdles  would make it difficult and possibly so time consuming as to make the action worthless. There is no clear cut answer. This would be decided in court, the legal ramifications just very complex.
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        FYI: The S&P 500 gained 36.6% in Obama’s first year, but only 23.7% under Trump. Obama inherited the worst bear market since the 1930’s, Trump inherited an accelerating bull market supported by a stable economy. If Obama’s first year gain is calculated from the Bear market bottom  March 6, 2009 shortly after he assumed office, the gain would be 74.2%.
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U.S. Ranking globally and domestically is plunging under Trump
      Global approval of U.S. leadership from 134 countries has plunged to 30% from 48% in just a year.  Clearly, Trump isn’t making America Great Again in the eyes of all other countries. 
The downside of this is we need the support of those countries.  Our nationalistic policies are opening doors throughout the world for China. A Gallup poll shows Germany replacing the U.S. as the top-rated power in the world.
      Under Trump, the United States has dropped to 11th place in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which in addition  to  R&D spending, includes post secondary, or tertiary, education-efficiency category, which includes the share of new science and engineering graduates. Value-added manufacturing also dropped.  South Korea ranked first, followed by Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France, Israel.
       Also under Trump, Americans’ trust in institutions (government, companies and the  media) has suffered the greatest loss on record according to a poll conducted by Edelman New York. The poll, including 33,000 “informed” individuals showed the U.S. dropping to 43 out of a possible 100, down 23 points in a year.  He is a human wrecking ball.
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SOLUTION for our nation’s problems: Deport Trump’s base. Not the Republicans who vote their party because they are genuinely conservative, but the racist, violent, abusive element that opts for dumbing down solutions for issues because experienced and intelligent people remind them how incapable they are of emotionally and mentally developing rational, unbiased conclusions for issues  without bias that serve the best interests of all Americans.
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According to the Washington Post, Trump’s false or misleading statements (lies) now exceed 2,000 after his first year.
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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 telling 4.5 lies per day, 2,000 lies since his inauguration on January 20 ?.
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CORPORATE TAX CUT IRRESPONSIBLE
“It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” Bloomberg continued. Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that. The tax bill is an economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future” –   Michael Bloomberg – billionaire business man former mayor NYC

      I don’t doubt some corporations need, and deserve a tax cut, but to reduce the rate from 35% to 21% is inexcusable, reckless, unjustifiable, and outright subversive to the best interests of America.
      Corporate income taxes comprise 9% of federal government receipts. If corporate taxes are slashed by 40% (from 35% to 21%), the government’s receipts from corporations are reduced by 3.6% from 9%.
      Individual income tax payments comprise 47% of  federal government receipts
. At this point, I have no idea how much of an impact  Congress’ tax cuts will have on this source of federal revenues, but it stands to be significant.
      The Republican administration expects economic growth will be triggered by a sudden change in heart by corporations to abandon stock buybacks and the repatriation of billions stashed abroad to plug the big hole left in federal receipts by tax cuts with a surge in hiring and capital expenditures.
      That assumption is flawed. For one, why would a corporation  go on a hiring and cap-ex spending spree  with an economic expansion that  is 8-1/2 years old, 3 years longer (73%) than the average over 65 years (1945 – 2009).
      For another, are they naïve enough to assume there will be no recessions within the next 10 years ?
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The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a study on “Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies”:  The report includes 258 corporations that were consistently profitable over an eight-year period between 2008 and 2015. Some conclusions:
-of 258 Fortune 500 companies studied, the effective federal income tax rate was 21.5%
18 of the 258 paid no income tax and 48 paid an effective tax rate of 10%.
83 companies (32%) paid a tax rate less than 17.5%
109 companies (42%)  paid a tax rate between 17.5% and 30%.
66 companies (26%) paid a tax rate greater than 30%
NOTE: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School estimates the  effective tax rate  for corporates will drop to 9.2% as a result of  tax reform.
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RED STATES NEED FED’s HELP 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.
       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.
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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 run ?  Bannon 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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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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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.
FINALLY: If Trump resigns and Pence takes over, Pence could pardon Trump, as Ford did Nixon.
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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 respons.
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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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WHAT 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. These are people were part of the Trump team, or in a position to know information relating to activities before or after the 2016 election, though  not necessarily in any way guilty of any wrongdoing.
       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 – Brad Parscale – Sam Nunberg – Dan Scavino – Keith Schiller –  Alex Van Der waan – Ted Malloch -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.
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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.  
        However, as “Business Insider.com” noted on Jan. 9, 2018, Trump could simply fire the Cabinet members who voted to oust him from office.
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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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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.