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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
April 29, 2017

NYT Editorial - President Trumps Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes

Some sober analysis of a tax plan that you will rarely see on network or cable news.


As a rule, Republican presidents like offering tax cuts, and President Trump is no different. But the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.

Two of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth. So as to not seem completely venal, they served up a few goodies for the average wage-earning family, among them fewer and lower tax brackets and a higher standard deduction.

The proposal was so empty of illustrative detail that few people could even begin to calculate its impact on their pocketbooks. Further, depending on where they live, some middle-class families might not benefit much or at all, because the plan does away with important deductions like those for state and local taxes.

* * *

Mr. Trump’s plan aims to cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent. To hear the administration tell it, the present rate is choking investment and killing jobs. In fact, big businesses are earning record profits, and many of them pay no federal taxes. The corporate income tax brought in just 10.6 percent of the federal government’s revenue in 2015, down from between a quarter and a third of revenue in the 1950s, according to the Pew Research Center. A better approach, as part of broad-based reform, would be to eliminate loopholes that have encouraged businesses to avoid their fair share of taxes.
April 29, 2017

Trump team did background check on Flynn, knew of Turkey ties

Source: The Hill

The White House and President Trump's transition team reportedly did a background check on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in addition to his already approved security clearance, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Friday evening.

"NBC News has learned from sources close to the Trump-Russia investigation that both the Trump transition and the White House did do a background check on Flynn," Maddow said on her program, citing reporting from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"This is in addition to his already approved security clearance. They did a background check on Flynn specifically for him to become national security adviser."

* * *
Maddow said Friday that NBC reporting showed that "the vetting of Flynn was done and sources close to the investigation tell NBC that it was done 'very casually.'" "One person involved tells NBC that the Trump transition was aware of Flynn's business ties to Turkey," she said.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/331191-trump-team-did-do-a-background-check-of-flynn-new-about-ties-to

April 23, 2017

A New Third Way/No Labels Movement - A Coalition Between Progressives and the Alt-Right?

On the left, you have Justice Democrats, Glenn Greenwald, the Young Turks, the Sane Progressive, Jill Stein and Ed Schultz. On the right, you have Breitbart, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump and Alex Jones. What do they have in common?

* A desire for better relations with Russia.
* A belief that U.S. elections are not legitimate and are rigged.
* Attacks on trade agreements as victimizing the U.S. economy.
* A resentment of "establishment" Democrats and Republicans who are only seeking to promote the interests of global elites.
* A belief in a conspiracy by a shadowy deep state that is working to promote the interests of global elites and seeking to promote a cold war with Russia.

The Alt-Right and Justice Democrats, for example, rail against the global financial powers and the corporate establishment. For example, sounding like a Justice Democrat, Trump repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton of working for the "global elite" and bankers:


Donald J. Trump on Thursday accused Hillary Clinton of guiding a “global power structure” that has rigged the economy against the working class, language that some suggested echoed anti-Semitic themes.

Mr. Trump made the accusation in a speech in West Palm Beach, Fla., in which he also defended himself against several accusations of sexual harassment, published by The New York Times and others.

Early in the speech, he said that a global elite had “stripped” the United States of its wealth in order to line the pockets of corporate and political interests. “The Clinton machine is at the center of this power structure,” he said.

We’ve seen this firsthand in the WikiLeaks documents in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” he said, referring to the group that has, most recently, published thousands of hacked emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Indeed, the Alt-Right and Progressives sometimes share the same talking points as explained by Samantha Bee in her segment on the Deep State.

Even on issues where the left and right clearly disagree such as issues of race or sexism, you will have both the far left and alt-right agreeing that such issues are just identity politics that should be ignored in favor of an inward looking economic populism that promotes a U.S. withdrawal from international engagement.

My prediction is that as we approach the 2018 elections we will once again see the rise of both the Alt-Right and the Justice Democrats attacking "establishment" Democrats and Republicans as being essentially the same. Indeed, I have no doubt that on both the left and right, you will see a dramatic increase in online activity by folks pushing this alt-right/progressive view that largely overlaps on the issues referenced above.
April 22, 2017

Left, Right and Russia - A Progressive and Alt-Right Coalition?

When you have Russian affiliated networks and groups like Russia Today funding both left leaning and right wing personalities is Russia really being partial to the left or right? Or, are they simply trying to destablize the U.S. and using useful idiots regardless of political ideology?

You have the right attacking reports of Russian election influence through Deepstate conspiracies:

Likewise, you have progressives like Glenn Greenwald, TYT and the Sane Progressive attacking such reports from the left:

Indeed, you have Russian outlets like Russia Today keeping progressives like Ed Schultz and Thom Hartman on its payroll:


In 2011, when Trump was reportedly thinking of running for president (again), Schultz wrote in the Huffington Post: “When it comes down to the devil in the detail of dealing with the issues . . . and making real change, Trump, you don’t have it. You’ve never had it. Money is not a measure of a man’s character or success in the arena of public service.”

Now, I happen to agree with that second bit. The interesting thing is, Schultz doesn’t — anymore. The man who once mocked Putin, now cashes his checks, as a pundit on his network, lending aid and comfort to the Kremlin’s pro-Trump PR campaign.

Schultz recently told Larry King, his RT colleague, that Trump was like Ronald Reagan (he meant it in a good way). Trump, Schultz explained, “certainly has shaken up the Republican Establishment, and I think he’s done it by talking about things that people care about.” Schultz now says Trump is a great and decisive decision-maker.

So what explains the transformation? I don’t like speculating about people’s motives in part because 99 percent of the time, I find those who try to guess mine are wrong (Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke recently attacked me on Twitter for being a Zionist stooge because I oppose Donald Trump). Still, one possibility is that Ed Schultz is simply sincere. A more obvious explanation is that he’s doing it for the paycheck. Both of those things are possible. But there’s a third possibility: Some people need to be on TV or in some other public arena. As with Trump himself, the money comes second to celebrity. Russia Today was probably the only broadcaster offering to keep Schultz on TV — and perhaps that offer came with strings attached.
April 21, 2017

Trump: Iran 'not living up to the spirit' of nuclear deal, despite compliance

Source: ABC News

President Donald Trump said today that Iran is "not living up to the spirit" of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 under President Obama, just two days after Trump's administration reported that Iran was complying with the requirements laid out in the landmark agreement.

Trump made the remarks at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni Thursday after he was asked if he had "reason to suspect that [Iran is] cheating" on the deal. On Tuesday the administration notified Congress that Iran was continuing to comply with the terms of the deal, a notice that must be given every 90 days.

Iran signed the agreement, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2015 along with the United States and members of the United Nations Security Council.

"I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed," said Trump, adding "we're analyzing it very, very carefully and we'll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future."

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-iran-living-spirit-nuclear-deal-compliance/story?id=46921287

Is another bombing run in the cards? We are threatening military action in North Korea. We bombed Syria. Why not Iran, too?
April 19, 2017

WP: On Russia, Trump and his top national security aides seem to be at odds

Trump must really be missing Manafort and Flynn right now.


The message was defiantly optimistic, like a suitor determined to hold a relationship together despite mounting obstacles.

“Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia,” ­President Trump declared on his Twitter account last week. “At the right time everyone will come to their senses & there will be lasting peace!”

Trump’s interest in achieving warm relations with Moscow has been a consistent theme since the earliest days of his campaign, and it stands now as one of the few major foreign policy positions that he has not discarded or revised since taking office.

But in his devotion to this outcome, Trump appears increasingly isolated within his own administration. Over the past several weeks, senior members of Trump’s national security team have issued blistering critiques of Moscow, using harsh terms that have led to escalating tensions between the countries and seem at odds with the president.
April 8, 2017

Insurers Stem Losses, and May Soon Profit, From Obamacare Plans

Source: MSN/NY Times

In contrast to the dire pronouncements from President Trump and other Republicans, the demise of the individual insurance market seems greatly exaggerated, according to a new financial analysis released Friday.

The analysis, by Standard & Poor’s, looked at the performance of many Blue Cross plans in nearly three dozen states since President Barack Obama’s health care law took effect three years ago. It shows the insurers significantly reduced their losses last year, are likely to break even this year and that most could profit — albeit some in the single-digits — in 2018. The insurers cover more than five million people in the individual market.

After years in which many insurers lost money, then lost even more in 2015, “we are seeing the first signs in 2016 that this market could be manageable for most health insurers,” the Standard & Poor’s analysts said. The “market is not in a ‘death spiral,’ ” they said.

It is the latest evidence that the existing law has not crippled the market where individuals can buy health coverage, although several insurers have pulled out of some markets including two in Iowa just this week. They and other industry specialists have cited the uncertainty surrounding the Congressional debate over the law, and the failed effort two weeks ago by House Republicans to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/insurers-stem-losses-and-may-soon-profit-from-obamacare-plans/ar-BBzy9kg

April 8, 2017

HuffPo - Top Democrats To Headline March For Release Of Trumps Tax Returns

Anyone else planning on showing up at a Tax March protest on April 15th?


Senior Democratic lawmakers are due to speak at a march on April 15 ― the day when Americans’ tax returns are typically due ― to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns.

“The Tax March,” as the progressive groups organizing it have dubbed it, will begin with a rally and speeches at the U.S. Capitol, followed by a parade that passes the Trump International Hotel, as well as the FBI and IRS buildings. Over 100 smaller marches are due to take place in cities across the country.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee; Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee; and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) will join a host of faith, policy and grassroots leaders scheduled to speak on Trump’s continued lack of financial transparency.

* * *

A broad of array of liberal groups and labor unions are convening for the Tax March, including MoveOn.org, Public Citizen, Demos, Credo, the Working Families Party, the National Women’s Law Center and the American Federation of Teachers.
April 8, 2017

Democratic Congressman Rips Trump For His Unconstitutional Strike On Syria

Source: PoliticsUSA

During an interview on MSNBC, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that Trump’s missile strike against Syria was unconstitutional and warned the president not to do it again.

Rep. Lieu said, “Clearly, the president can take limited actions that the Congress has authorized such as going against terrorists who were involved with 9/11 or in terms of Iraq when Congress authorized the use of force in 2002, but there’s been no congressional authorization to launch fifty-nine cruise missiles at a country that has not attacked us. Donald Trump’s action last night was unconstitutional. He should not do it again.”

MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked Lieu if he would have voted for authorization if Trump had come to Congress. The congressman from California answered, “I might have if he would have articulated a strategy, and that is one of my fundamental problems with what he did. There has been no coherent strategy from the Trump administration. Last week, they signaled they were okay with Assad even though he had previously killed hundreds of thousands of people in Syria and used chemical weapons. Last night, they attacked the Assad regime. We need to know what is the Trump administration thinking and what is their long-term strategy in Syria?”

The questions that Rep. Lieu asked are why Trump didn’t go to Congress for approval before he launched missiles against Syria. The Trump administration has no Syria plan. The administration’s message has been inconsistent on Assad. It was appropriate for the US to respond, but the way that Donald Trump carried out the response was unconstitutional.

Read more: http://www.politicususa.com/2017/04/07/democratic-congressman-rips-trump-unconstitutional-strike-syria.html

April 8, 2017

Rolling Stone - What to Make of Trump's About-Face on Syria

Why did Trump oppose intervention when over a thousand Syrians were killed in chemical attacks, but launched a missle strike almost immediately after about 80 people were killed shortly after declaring that the U.S. was no longer in the business of opposing the Assad regime?

A reasonable argument could have been made for intervention if the U.S. had been consistent in explaining why the international community could not tolerate the casual use of WMDs. But, to offer mix messages and military action with the impulsivity of a tweet is dangerous.


There are several ways to look at Donald Trump's abrupt about-face on Syria. One is that Thursday night's Tomahawk missile strike on an airbase near Homs – a so-called "proportional response" to the Assad regime's apparent sarin gas attack on Tuesday – was a cave to the Pentagon and a signal that at long last "the adults have taken control," as a military source, echoing the entire D.C. foreign policy establishment, puts it. Some believe a nascent national security strategy may be in the works. On the other hand, Trump is Trump.

Thursday evening, shifty eyed and uncomfortable in front of dual teleprompters at Mar-a-Lago, Trump made a scripted assertion that it was in the "vital national security interest of the United States" to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons like sarin. "The use of that term, 'vital national interest,' was most welcome, and I agree," says one former Pentagon official. "The prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is in our vital national interest as well as the vital interests of our allies. Now the administration needs to flesh out our remaining vital national interests and build a strategy that meets those interests."

* * *
"People are so hungry to believe that they have a solid, 'presidential' commander-in-chief at the helm that they are willing to overlook everything Donald Trump said before Thursday – including on Monday and Tuesday," says Daniel Benaim, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former Obama administration official. "But there's nothing presidential about launching missiles in service of a policy that didn't exist until a few days ago. And when it comes to each new declaration that now is the moment when Trump finally became 'presidential,' people get tired of buying the same horse twice. Launching a few missiles from offshore is in some ways the easy part, and the one that better fits the impulsive nature of a president who seems to think more in macho gestures to win news cycles than long-term politico-military strategies to end wars.

"The bigger question is whether the experienced members of Trump's team can help him leverage this short-term burst of American power projection toward a strategy to hasten the end of a civil war that has been wrecking the country and sucking foreign powers into a vortex of instability," Benaim says. "Strategy – not strikes – should be the measure of presidential leadership."

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