A Dismal Month of Trump

One month and the United States is already careening off into catastrophe. I was certainly not optimistic. I suspected terrible things would happen. But not this fast and not this bad.

So, let’s start with the fact that Trump didn’t vet his candidates for the cabinet. His team failed to pinpoint that Flynn was going to be a massive embarrassment that illegally was in talks with the Russian government. Flynn then lied about it and made Trump and his entire staff look like the incompetent fucks that they are. Not only that, but there was communication with Russian intelligence during the entire candidacy of Trump. While that doesn’t seem to be illegal, it shows a level of pandering and bootlicking that I’ve come to associate with Trump. Between that and the two Russian stooges, Rex Tillerson and Paul Manafort, it’s shaping up to be a presidency that will cozy up to the ruthless autocrat Putin. Maybe I’m just an old fashioned kind of guy that likes real elections and free press, but that strikes me as pretty fucking scummy.

Trump pretends to be strong by using hyperbolic language that really doesn’t make sense. But he’s not strong. He’s an compulsive liar that seems to need to boast to make himself feel better about his deficiencies. He hasn’t been able to run an effective White House at all. Even worse, now he’s holding a ‘situation room’ in his shit club with random ass people there, which isn’t illegal or all that terrible, but is just so typically scattered and un-presidential that I’m not remotely surprised.

Wait, though, there’s an even bigger issue. Trump is on a collision course to provoke a war in China. First, he very publicly insults China by calling Taiwan right away (and let’s not forget the mind boggling berating of the Australian PM). He goes with Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who actually indicated that the US would prevent China from accessing their bases in the South China Sea (also known as directly starting a war).

Because Trump is apparently a yippy dog (Russian lap dog?), he then decides that his blustering/barking was maybe too much and finally gives China a call to say, “Hey, let’s do that One China policy where we ignore that Taiwan is totally a distinct country.” You know, it’s just that little thing that we’ve been doing since 1972 to prevent nuclear war.

That’s where we are. Potentially on the brink of AN ACTUAL WAR. WITH CHINA. Fucking hell. For what? Why start all this AND THEN BACK DOWN? What the fuck is that even supposed to mean? Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he backed down. It just doesn’t make any sense. The whole Trump policy is incoherent.

I genuinely hope somebody has a plan. I really don’t want to get into another war, with China, Russia, or any country. Let’s not forget how much of a disaster invading Iraq turned out to be. And Iraq wasn’t even a fair fight.

Unfortunately, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. My biggest concern is a constitutional crisis. This administration has repeatedly shown a disregard for the law. Let’s not forget that Trump publicly announced that the ELECTION ITSELF was only valid if he won. Even still, without any evidence or proof, he claims there was tons of voter fraud. What bullshit.

Then there’s the blatantly illegal ban on Muslims (putting it like that is definitely a simplification and fairly inaccurate, but you know what I mean). The courts are handling that one, for now. There’s Kellyanne Conway who somehow forgot that she shouldn’t be trying to sell Ivanka’s clothing. Of course, as previously mentioned, Flynn. Oh, and Trump’s extremely un-presidential attacks on sitting judges.

This cadre of ethically challenged people scare the shit out of me. They have no respect for rule of law. I worry that when something doesn’t go their way in the courts, Trump and crew will try to ignore it. I hope, if that day comes, Congress is ready to act. We might just have to impeach this motherfucker.

 

The smashing success of Czech monetary policy — The Market Monetarist

If we look around the world there has been very few monetary policy success stories from 2008 and onwards. However, there is a success story that unfortunately largely has been untold and that is the success of monetary policy in the Czech Republic after November 2013 when the Czech central bank (CNB) decided to fundamentally […]

via The smashing success of Czech monetary policy — The Market Monetarist

When effort and outcome is not the same thing – the case of Greece — The Market Monetarist

Greece has made yet another other deal with the EU and IMF on its deal situation. Or rather as one EU official described it to the Financial Times “If it looks like we are kicking the can down the road that is because we are”. Said in another way, this is not really a deal […]

via When effort and outcome is not the same thing – the case of Greece — The Market Monetarist

Irrational Economists

So I was reading an article and I came across this:

Some economists refuse to believe that people are tricked by inflation, or at least that they err on a scale sufficient to affect economic patterns. These economists prefer to believe that people behave rationally, a belief that, in a wonderful instance of irony, happens itself to be irrational.

Mormons and the Mainstream

Relatively recently, Mormons made their stance against gays and lesbians more explicitly unfriendly. However, according to the New York Times:

Mormon leaders have parted company with the leaders of evangelical and other conservative churches by affirming that despite their religious convictions, even people of faith opposed to gay marriage must follow the law.

Mormons have long had different ideology than the mainstream, which inclines them toward their views on external “law of the land”/render-unto-Caesar and then their own internal rules.

Everyday evangelical Christians are opposite. Since they’re in the mainstream and have long been the majority, it’s understood that they’re the ones setting the law. Baptists and their ilk don’t view the law of the land as an external thing, but a thing that was made for them, by them, and they adhere to for that reason.

If you read the news, you’ll find a lot of instances where Mormons do surprising things. I would contend that it’s because they have an inherently different view of the world than your average Christian.

Using a budget crisis to screw the poor…

In Oklahoma, they’re facing a bit of a budget crisis. Instead of acknowledging that oil booms are indeed part of a boom/bust cycle, they decided that while they were riding high, it was a good time to slash a bunch of taxes and make up for it with oil revenue. Guess what? Bust! Now they’re facing a budget shortfall of somewhere near 10% of their 7.1 billion dollar budget. There’s talk of raising the sales tax.

Roughly the same thing happened in Kansas. Although, giving Oklahoma credit, while Oklahoma did it because their tax burden was offset by taxes on the oil boom, Kansas just did it for the hell of it. They just assumed magic would happen. They seemed to have thought jobs and taxes would appear. No such thing happened. A massive budget gap appeared. They raised the sales taxes.

In both states, they slashed education funding. Of course they did. Republicans don’t like to pay for education unless it’s for their own kids at the local level. Basically, they hate poor people. Worse education funding, higher sales taxes (which as we know, hurts the poorest the most), and then on top of it, a stated desire to cut any and all government spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and health care in general.

I’m starting to think the plan goes something like this: 1) intentionally lower taxes so the government can’t possibly pay for the services it promises. 2) Make a big fuss about the crisis and shift as much tax burden to the poor as possible. 3) Cut services as much as possible.

I’ve never heard this strategy explicitly stated, but I’m really starting to get the idea this is the plan from the start.

On a minor note, in the middle of all the budget shuffling, Kansas changed its school funding mechanism. Kansas used to have (and maybe still does) have excellent schools that they were proud to have. They were so intent on good education, in fact, that Kansas has a constitutional amendment that the schools absolutely must receive sufficient funding. Now the new funding  mechanism (block grants) is going through the courts because the poor districts allege that they don’t have nearly enough money per student.

Get your own Denarius

I just wanted to let you know that you, yes you, can buy replica Roman currency. A silver denarius for $35! What a steal! It’s not even debased! Although to be honest, I want some super debased Roman coinage.

denarius reproduction

And while we’re at it, here’s some pictures of old coins that I have saved on my computer. The first is from 76 AD, minted by Vespasian (only showing one side). The second is a Mark Antony 3rd Legion (both sides, and note the eagle, aka Aquila). And finally, the last is a coin of the great Sol Invictus.