Closing Thought–22Dec17

Happy Holidays!  Or do you prefer Merry Christmas?  Why?

It is that time of the year when there will be that silly notion that there is a war on Christmas…..a story that flows around the net because Right wings are just plain moronic.

Seriously…..what does it matter if people say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?  As long as people truly mean it then it matters not….that is unless you watch FOX News then you probably are foaming at the mouth about now……

How about a little history to go with your day…..(of course you knew that history lesson was lurking in my words, right?)…..

It’s the most wonderful fight of the year: the annual tussle between Christians who bravely defend “Merry Christmas” and the godless liberals who want to impose “Happy Holidays” on all of us. Or so the story goes on talk radio. But while President Trump promises to restore “Merry Christmas” to American life, those who insist on using the phrase as a sort of flag for conservative Christian culture misunderstand its history. Rather than religious, its origins are secular and commercial, even profane.

For most of its history, the Christian church regarded Christmas as a small event on its calendar not requiring much observation. Puritans in England and later the American colonies went one step further, banning the holiday altogether since they could find no biblical support for celebrating the day. As the historian Stephen Nissenbaum has explained, the Puritans imposed fines on anyone caught celebrating and designated Christmas as a working day. These strict rules were necessary since so many men and women engaged in the drunken carousing that accompanied winter solstice festivities, an ancient tradition that the church had failed to stamp out when it appropriated Dec. 25 as a Christian holiday.

Read on…….

Hope everyone has a evening and a great weekend….see ya later…..chuq

Investigation Of The Investigation

I recently humorously asked who would investigate the investigation…..and dam if I did not get an answer….

President Trump has called the investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia a “witch hunt.” This week, Donald Trump Jr. suggested they were part of a “rigged system” of “people at the highest levels of government” working to hurt the president. Some House Republicans apparently agree. According to Politico, some Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have been meeting secretly for weeks “to build a case that senior leaders of the Justice Department and FBI improperly—and perhaps criminally—mishandled the contents” of the Russia dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia. Led by Devin Nunes of California, the group aims to release a report on its findings early next year, in what Politico notes could be used to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Republicans, who refused to discuss the effort, largely argue the Russia dossier contains false accusations. They also question whether the dossier, written by a former British intelligence agent and funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was used to obtain surveillance warrants on Trump’s associates. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, says the latest effort is simply a “pernicious” attempt “to undermine the investigations and these institutions out of fear of what they’ll find.” Nonetheless, Nunes, who’s referred to law enforcement agencies as “dirty,” plans to subpoena FBI agents connected to the dossier, per Fox News. Meanwhile, Republican senators appear in no hurry to pass legislation that could protect Mueller should he be fired, reports the Washington Post.

I also have written about the chances of a coup, either by the generals or by Trump himself, it appears the there are a few in the Congress that are working in conjunction with Trump to rip the institutions that have safe guarded our country for decades…….

Fox News and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway asserted that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are somehow plotting a “coup” against the United States because they’re daring to investigate Donald Trump for his various crimes. Back in the real world, things are shaping up very differently. In fact rogue Congressman Devin Nunes, who has already broken enough laws this year that he should be in prison, has been caught leading what can only be described as an actual attempted coup against the United States.

Once again the morons in Congress are wasting taxpayer money on worthless investigations in the same vane as the Benghazi investigations….

The Trump presidency is anything but boring….they do seem to spit in the face of the Founders and their desires for this government.

I need a shower.

Can You Hear The Drums Of War?

It seems that almost daily the sounds of that drum get louder and louder….from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula…..everybody has a bone to pick with someone and in the end we go to war……few of us are sure why we must fight but fight we must….

Why is this?

Now that the self-described Islamic State has all but lost its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, leaving the term “state” as a relic in its name, many people may be breathing a sigh of relief, anticipating a reduction in the gruesome violence that inundated social media and occupied global strategists in recent years. But those hopes could be dashed. There is a high probability that even more violence is ahead. The drums of war are pounding in the Middle East and beyond, and the chance that a new war will start in the near future is far from negligible.

For now, the majority—though not all—of the signs of impending armed conflict are limited to rhetoric and political maneuvers. But the rhetoric is so heated, and the diplomatic counterforces so weak, that the verbal threats and political posturing should be taken seriously.

From Riyadh to Tehran, from Washington to Pyongyang, political leaders are talking, and in some cases acting, as if they are on a path to war.

The Middle East region is a hot bed and the US does nothing to calm the fire…..they are even stoking it…

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have one main objective at the moment and that is to destabilize Lebanon and attempt to defeat Hezbollah before they prepare for another offensive in Syria to remove Assad from power. Before they declare an all-out war on Iran, they must neutralize their allies, Hezbollah and Syria which is by far an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

The Israeli government knows that it cannot defeat Hezbollah without sacrificing both its military and civilian populations. Israel needs the U.S. military for added support if their objective is to somewhat succeed. Israel and the U.S. can continue its support of ISIS and other terrorist groups to create a new civil war in Lebanon through false-flag terror operations which in a strategic sense, can lead to an internal civil war. Can Hezbollah and the Lebanese military prevent terrorist groups from entering its territory? So far they have been successful in defeating ISIS on the Lebanon-Syria border, and will most likely be successful in preventing a new U.S.-supported terrorist haven in Lebanon. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri who originally resigned from his post while visiting the Saudi Kingdom, then suspending his resignation is a sign that a political crisis has been set in motion. So what happens next?

It appears that diplomacy is a lost art form…..instead of talking we prefer to start shooting…..

What a waste!

US Thugocracy

The recent vote in the UN on a non-binding resolution brought out the “THUG” in the Trump administration…..ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, made two speeches to the body of the UN and threatened the world with retaliation if the vote did not go in America’s favor…..but do not take my word for it….here are the two Nikki Haley speeches on one site……

Is that what the US has become?  An international thug that demands respect without giving it?  If things do not go our way then we let children starve is that what she was saying?

The disaster that is our diplomatic mission is making the world a more dangerous place.  And I see no relief headed our way.  Reenacting a scene from “Godfather” is not a way to a successful foreign policy.

Threatening nations that we will need in the future in our situation with North Korea or Iran or any other emergency that may arise is not the way forward.

To Fire Or Not To Fire

The special prosecutor has given Trump TV (FOX and Breitbart) some of their best talking points…..some of the Trump-ites in Congress are thumping their chests like sex crazed primates in calling for Mueller to be fired and the FBI to be shut down….all that is nothing new just the tone has gotten louder now.

But in case you have lost your train of thought about this situation maybe I can help your score card…..

On May 17, President Donald Trump’s close ally Newt Gingrich tweeted that former FBI Director Robert Mueller was a “superb choice” to lead the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

But now, as Mueller’s investigation closes in on Trump’s inner circle, the Fox News commentator and former House speaker is singing a decidedly different tune. The special counsel, Gingrich said bluntly last week, is “corrupt.”

His comments echo a growing chorus of conservative voices in and out of government who are increasingly critical of Mueller personally and the Russia probe more broadly. Some are even saying Mueller should be fired, while others have called for a new special counsel to investigate Mueller himself. For the moment, Mueller seems safe: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only Trump administration official who can fire Mueller, said Wednesday that there was no good reason to remove him or question his ability to do the job.

After you have read this then you are up to date….at least for today and in Trump’s DC that may not be the same tomorrow.  The Silly Season will just get longer.

Is Populism A Thing Of The Past?

You would think that once we elected a small minded populist that we would have learned our lesson, right?

Not even close.

Across the globe populism and populist thought has become the rule of the day…..but is it here to stay?  You betcha.

The vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump has baffled the main stream and the establishment. Most market participants and observers didn’t believe ex ante that they were possible, and as a result were completely surprised when the unexpected happened. Ever since the term populism has become socio-politically relevant in modern-day public discourse. Google Trends illustrates that there was a veritable explosion in search queries for the term “populism” last year:

But, populism — regardless of its political flavor — merely represents a symptom. The generally surprising results were consequences of the economical erosion of the past years Although there are idiosyncrasies in every country that foster the rise of populist movements, the ailing foundation of the economy provides the fertile soil and is the major driver of people’s dissatisfaction and the associated voting decisions. To assert that populism is the reason for this process of political change is in our opinion far too simplistic. An analysis of stating that economic erosion is responsible for the rise in populism is supported by by a McKinsey study, which examines the trend in real household incomes in 25 industrialized nations.1 McKinsey arrived at the striking conclusion that real incomes of 65 to 70 percent of households in developed countries either stagnated or even declined between 2005 and 2014. The following chart illustrates the trend in household incomes in selected countries.

In this country the question on most every normal person mind is…..just why is this brand of populism working?

Watching the Republican tax plan race through Congress, one is reminded of a big apparent difference between Donald Trump’s program and other populist movements in the Western world. In America, Trump is leading something that is best described as plutocratic populism, a mixture of traditional populist causes with extreme libertarian ones.

Congress’ own think tanks — the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office — calculate that in 10 years, people making between $50,000 and $75,000 (around the median income in America) would effectively pay a whopping $4 billion more in taxes, while people making $1 million or more would pay $5.8 billion less under the Senate bill. And that doesn’t take into account the massive cuts in services, health care and other benefits that would likely result. Martin Wolf, the sober and fact-based chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, concludes, “This is a determined effort to shift resources from the bottom, middle and even upper middle of the U.S. income distribution toward the very top, combined with big increases in economic insecurity for the great majority.”

Populism?  Or Nativism?

Last week the Cambridge Dictionary declared populism its 2017 word of the year. In many ways, that makes perfect sense. Since Brexit and Trump, virtually every political event has been couched in terms of populism, from the Dutch parliamentary elections to the French presidential elections earlier this year. New media catchwords such as “fake news” are linked to populism.

However, it has become the buzzword of the year mostly because it is very often poorly defined and wrongly used. Indeed, the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition perfectly illustrates this. It describes populism as “political ideas and activities that are intended to get the support of ordinary people by giving them what they want”.

Oddly enough, this is almost identical to the interpretation used by many populists themselves. However, rather than populism, it describes responsive politics, as exists in idealistic models of democracy. The only part of that description that has some overlap with more common academic definitions of populism is the reference to “ordinary people”.

This is working for the GOP….why?  Basically they are gutless wonders that will lick anyone’s boots that will give them a legislative win…..they care little for the country….their only concern is pushing crap through the legislative process….the American people can be damned for all they care…..and they have the perfect president to do their crap for he cares NOTHING for the American people.

Populism is not just an American thing…….

There is no doubt that nationalist populism will remain an important driver of Europe’s debates. As we showed in our 2017 Chatham House research paper on the future of Europe, elites across the EU identify populists as their number one challenge. Thus, as we leave 2017 it seems that many observers were too optimistic about the ‘Macron moment’ and the supposed defeat of nationalist populism that was reflected in losses for Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

Indeed, as Macron’s popularity plunged, Austria swung sharply to the right, electing the young conservative Sebastian Kurz, who has entered negotiations to form a coalition deal with the hard-right Freedom Party. Then, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) captured 12.6 per cent of the vote and 94 seats in the Bundestag in Germany’s federal elections, the strongest result for populism in the country’s post-war history and one that overturned the assumption that such parties could not find success in the country that gave birth to National Socialism.

And the beat goes on…….