Criminal Prosecutions Are Used to Remove Opponents

I’m grinning like a Jack in the box clown today. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I’ll be doggone if I will let anything change my mood. When you are done reading, I’m hoping you feel the same way.
In 2016, I was bummed out. The negative political crap from the election left much of the country exhausted and frustrated. I was ready to turn the corner from the daily hysteria and melodrama in the media.
In 2017 things just got worse, by December I was exhausted, mentally worn out!
Television today is a constant barrage of hateful political rhetoric, senseless murders, sexual harassment, scandals, hypocrisy, corruption, illegal immigration, violent protests, disrespecting our flag, and outrageous statements by politicians promoting class warfare. How many times have you heard someone ask, ‘What the heck happened to the country we grew up in?’ ‘What has America become?’

This post was published at The Burning Platform on December 23, 2017.

House Republicans Secretly Gathering Evidence To Launch Case Against DOJ and FBI: Report

According to Politico, a group of frustrated Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee led by Devin Nunes (R-CA) have been gathering in secret for several weeks to build a case against senior leaders of the Justice Department and the FBI for what they say is “improper” and perhaps criminal mishandling of the salacious and unproven 34-page Trump-Russia dossier, according to four sources familiar with their plans.
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A subset of the Republican members of the House intelligence committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes of California, has been quietly working parallel to the committee’s high-profile inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. […] The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence. –Politico
When pressed for details, Reps Mike Conway (R-TX) and Peter King (R-NY) were mum, with Conway telling POLITICO, “I don’t want talk about what we do behind closed doors.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

What The GOP Pols Have Wrought—A Fiscal, Economic And Political Monster, Part 2

In Part 1 we revived Senator Howard Baker’s famous description of the giant Reagan Tax Cut of 1981 as a “riverboat gamble”, and that it was. When the “bidding war” with the Dems ended in July 1981, the US Congress had cut the Federal revenue base by 6.2% of GDP in the outyears. At today’s economic scale that would amount to a tax cut of $1.2 trillion per year!
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By contrast, the peak year cut (FY 2019) in the current tax bill is just $280 billion. Nevertheless, we present this chart to demonstrate why today’s GOP “riverboat gamble” is actually far more dangerous than the one back then, and also why it’s capacity to actually stimulate a growth surge in the US economy is not even a pale imitation of the 1981 act.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Thursday, December 21st, 2017.

What The GOP Pols Have Wrought—A Fiscal, Economic And Political Monster, Part 1

The GOP tax bill is not “at least something”. It’s not “better than nothing”. And, no, we are not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.
In truth, this thing is a fiscal, economic and political monster. It is hands down the worst tax bill enacted in the last half-century—-maybe even since FDR’s 1937 soak-the-rich scheme, which re-ignited the Great Depression.
True, rather than soak them, the GOP’s bill will pleasure America’s wealthy with a bountiful harvest of tax relief. Owners of public equities, for example, will garner a trillion dollar shower of extra dividends and stock buybacks from the corporate rate cut.
Likewise, 4 million top bracket ATM (alternative minimum tax) payers will be relieved of about $80 billion per year of Uncle Sam’s extractions; around 5,000 dead people per year with estates above $20 million will get to leave more behind; owners of real estate will be able to deduct another 20% of property income that isn’t already sheltered by depreciation and interest deductions; and tax accountants and lawyers will become stinking rich helping America’s proprietorships (24 million), S-corporations (4 million), partnerships (3.5 million) and farms (1.8 million) convert their “ordinary income” into newly deductible “qualified business income”.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017.

Ethics Watchdog Finds Trudeau Vacation Violated Conflict Rules

In an unprecedented decision with potentially serious consequences for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s outgoing ethics watchdog Mary Dawson has ruled that Trudeau violated conflict of interest rules when he took Aga Khan’s private helicopter to the business magnate’s private island in the Bahamas during a Christmas 2016 vacation. Trudeau is the first Canadian prime minister to ever be convicted of such a violation.
According to the law, Trudeau needed to seek permission from the ethics watchdog before making such a trip – something he inexplicably failed to do. The ruling comes just weeks before the end of Dawson’s term, which is set to expire on Jan. 8.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

OPEC vs IEA: Who’s Right On Oil Prices?

Last week, the International Energy Agency made a lot of OPEC brows furrow when it warned that 2018 may not be a very happy new year for the cartel.
U. S. shale supply, the IEA said in its December Oil Market Report, is set to grow more than OPEC has estimated and this could be the undoing of the production cut that boosted prices this year.
OPEC, for its part, has insisted that U. S. shale production won’t grow as much as the IEA says, baffling some observers who now wonder who they should believe. But let’s put it another way: If the coach of a football team tells you that his team will win the cup because they’re the best, but the football association has estimated that the team is not the best one in the league, who would you believe?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

The RussiaGate Witch-Hunt—The Deep State’s “Insurance Policy”

There was a sinister plot to meddle in the 2016 election, after all. But it was not orchestrated from the Kremlin; it was an entirely homegrown affair conducted from the inner sanctums—the White House, DOJ, the Hoover Building and Langley—-of the Imperial City.
Likewise, the perpetrators didn’t speak Russian or write in the Cyrillic script. In fact, they were lifetime beltway insiders occupying the highest positions of power in the US government.
Here are the names and rank of the principal conspirators: John Brennan, CIA director; Susan Rice, National Security Advisor; Samantha Power, UN Ambassador; James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; James Comey, FBI director; Andrew McCabe, Deputy FBI director; Sally Yates, deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr, associate deputy AG; Peter Strzok, deputy assistant director of FBI counterintelligence; Lisa Page, FBI lawyer; and countless other lessor and greater poobahs of Washington power, including President Obama himself.
To a person, the participants in this illicit cabal shared the core trait that made Obama such a blight on the nation’s well-being. To wit, he never held an honest job outside the halls of government in his entire adult life; and as a careerist agent of the state and practitioner of its purported goods works, he exuded a sanctimonious disdain for everyday citizens who make their living along the capitalist highways and by-ways of America.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, December 18th, 2017.

Ramaphosa Elected President Of ANC: South African Rand Soars 4%, Biggest Jump In 2 Years

Update 2: It’s all over, and the best case outcome is now fact, with Cyril Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Monday.
CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S ANC RAMAPHOSA GETS 2440 VOTES IN S. AFRICA’S ANC LEADERSHIP VOTE Ramaphosa victory threatens President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power after the most divisive vote in the party’s history. Ramaphosa, the deputy president, defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s former wife, whom the president had backed. As the FT notes, it is widely speculated that Mr Zuma lent Ms Dlamini-Zuma his support because he believed that as state president she would protect him from prosecution in a corruption case.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa campaigned on a promise to root out corruption and save the ANC from losing its majority for the first time at the 2019 election.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

British Parliament Chaos as Tory Rebels Try to Stop BREXIT

The Tory Rebels in the UK Parliament joined forces with Labour and the Remain Camp to defeat BREXIT in reality. They claim that Parliament will now vote on the BREXIT deal, but in reality, they have created an open door for more uncertainty and economic chaos.
The Tory rebels were Mr. Grieve, Heidi Allen, Ken Clarke, Jonathan Djanogly, Stephen Hammond, Sir Oliver Heald, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston. Another Conservative MP, John Stevenson, abstained from voting in both lobbies. Meanwhile, two Labour MPs, Frank Field, and Kate Hoey voted with the government.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 18, 2017.

INDONESIA: Crony Capitalism has Reduced Cities to Dehumanized, Polluted Environments for Ordinary People

Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta’s posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he ‘had something urgent to tell me’, after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.
What he had to say was actually straight to the point and definitely worth sitting two hours in an epic traffic jam:
‘No one will be allowed to build comprehensive public transportation in Jakarta or in any other Indonesian city. If a mayor or a governor tries and defies the wishes of the ruthless business community which is in fact controlling most of the Indonesian government, he or she will be dethroned, or even totally destroyed.’
These ‘prophetic’ words are still ringing in my ears, several months after the complete destruction of the progressive Jakarta governor, known as Ahok (real name: Basuki Tjahaja Purnama), who tried very hard to improve the seemingly ungovernable and thoroughly destroyed city, constructing new mass transit lines (LRT), restoring old train stations, cleaning canals, attempting to build at least some basic net of sidewalks, as well as planting trees and creating parks.
After Ahok’s first and extremely successful term in office, the opposition consolidated its forces. It consisted mainly of the Islamists, big business tycoons, and the military as well as other revanchist cadres (almost exclusively pro-business and pro-Western individuals) that are still controlling Indonesia.
‘Ahok’, an outsider and an ethnic Chinese, patently lost.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 17, 2017.

MONSANTO IS PAYING FARMERS TO USE ITS CONTROVERSIAL PESTICIDE

Corporate pesticide maker Monsanto, which has faced several recent lawsuits against its products, is paying farmers to use its controversial weedkiller XtendiMax with VaporGrip, an herbicide based on a chemical known as dicamba, Yahoo News reported.
The incentive to use XtendiMax aims to refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans that Monsanto engineered to resist it, according to company data.
‘We believe cash-back incentives for using XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology better enable growers to use a management system that represents the next level of weed control,’ said Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto product manager.
Monsanto faces bans and restrictions of its pesticides in several states due to damaged crops from its product which affected 3.1 million acres in nearly two dozen states, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported:
XtendiMax costs about $11 per acre to buy, and Monsanto is offering an extra $6 per acre in cash back to farmers when they apply it on Xtend soybeans, rather than using another seed-and-chemical combination to control weeds.
The rebate means farmers can receive up to $11.50 per acre in cash back next year when they use XtendiMax along with other approved chemicals, such as one called Intact that aims to prevent drift and costs $2.40 per acre, according to Monsanto.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 14, 2017.

Do Graduate Degrees Produce Value?

One of the more contentious aspects of the tax reform bill currently going through Congress is a proposal to treat the value of graduate-student tuition waivers as taxable income. In the US most PhD programs charge tuition, like undergraduate programs, but PhD students are typically granted a waiver of tuition along with a modest stipend to cover living expenses. In the early versions of the tax bill, the value of this waiver — which could be $50,000 to $60,000 at a private university — would be classified as taxable income. University officials, graduate student associations, academics, and most journalists have condemned this aspect of the tax plan. As a university professor I have received multiple communications urging me to write my Congressional representatives, speak out publicly, and otherwise fight to defeat this legislation.
As of this writing, it appears the tuition-waiver piece will not be in the final bill, so university officials, the AAUP, the grad student unions, and other graduate-education supporters can rest easy. Maybe all that lobbying paid off.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 13, 2017.

The 30-Years Bubble—Why America Ain’t That Rich

The entire financial and economic narrative in today’s Bubble Finance world is virtually context- and history-free; it’s all about the short-term deltas and therefore exceedingly misleading and dangerous.
So when a big trend or condition is negative and unsustainable, you generally can’t even get a glimpse of it from the so-called “high-frequency” weekly, monthly and even quarterly data on which the financial press and its casino patrons thrive. And that’s not merely because most of the data from the government statistical mills is heavily massaged and modeled and often “adjusted” beyond recognition over 3-5 year intervals of statistical revision.
Beyond that, however, even medium term trends get largely ignored. That’s because the purpose of economic and financial data today is to facilitate daily (and hourly) trading in the casino—not inform long-term investors about underlying trends, conditions and prospects.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on Monday, December 11th, 2017.

America’s Decline And The Neglect Of Luther’s Principles Of Liberty

Authored by S. T. Karnick via Specator.org,
Freedom requires a sense of personal responsibility if it is to survive.
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With the nation’s news dominated by reports of political corruption (most recently, the Clintons’ apparent use of ‘pay to play’ schemes during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as U. S. secretary of state), sexual harassment scandals pandemic among the nation’s elites, extreme vulgarization of political speech and the common culture, riots against freedom of speech on the nation’s college campuses, paralyzing partisanship in Congress, death threats and open assassination attempts against government leaders and police officers, and the rest of the dismaying parade of moral shortcomings on display among the nation’s leaders in all walks of life, it appears that we are in the midst of a war not just between political and cultural factions, but over the very definition of our civilization.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT JUST ADMITTED IT WILL CONTINUE WARRANTLESS SPYING – EVEN IF CONGRESS VOTES TO STOP IT

Bypass the Fourth Amendment With One Weird Trick — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) December 6, 2017

U. S. officials admit they are not planning on shutting down the government’s warrantless spying program, even if it is not reauthorized by 2018.
As the United States Congress runs out of time to vote on a bill that would reauthorize one of the government’s most egregious warrantless spying programs, officials are claiming that those programs won’t end anytime soon – even if they are not reauthorized by the end of the year.
The USA Liberty Act will reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. While the bill’s proponents have claimed it will help ensure ‘security’ in the United States, privacy advocates have warned that will provide additional loopholes for the government to continue conducting warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans.
The assumption may be that if the USA Liberty Act is not signed into law, then the provisions from Section 702 will no longer be legal and the U. S. government will stop collecting data from innocent Americans without warrants – but intelligence officials do not see it that way.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on DECEMBER 8, 2017.

Bulgaria Government Shocked To Discover It Owns $3 Billion In Bitcoin

Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May.
Putting this into a little more glaring context, Bulgaria is holding 18% of the national debt in bitcoins…
Fun fact: today's bitcoin prices have been interesting enough that there was a significant difference in how much Bulgaria had in USD between me writing this story and my editor editing it.
— Nikhilesh De (@nikhileshde) December 7, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.

Fake Tax Reform

After supposedly chomping on the bit for years to pass meaningful tax reform, Republicans are now set to blow an historic opportunity. Whatever version of the Bill that emerges from the House and Senate Conference Committee (which will be signed by President Trump faster than he can down a Filet o’Fish), will be far less than the Republicans envisioned when they finally captured the White House and both Congressional Chambers in 2016. But from what I have seen of the particulars, the revisions to the tax code will offer a marginal, although temporary, win for low income individuals, a major slap for moderately successful wage earners and home owners, (especially in the high tax Blue States) and a huge victory for the extremely wealthy and certain categories of business owners. While it is certain that the plan will add to the growing deficit, its immediate economic and political impact is hard to predict.
For generations, taxpayers and politicians alike lambasted our overly complex tax code for its myriad of economic distorting loopholes that seemed to produce nothing except employment for legions of accountants and tax lawyers adept at gaming the system. As a result, talk about tax reform has always included proposals to make the system simpler, fairer, and more transparent. But on that front, the Republican proposals fail miserably. Trump and Congress will hail this achievement as being a major victory for the American people. But the true winner will be the swamp that Trump promised to drain.
Unlike Ronald Reagan, who passed tax reform in 1986 by striking a deal with Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Trump and Congressional Republicans faced no particular need to compromise. If Reagan had the benefits enjoyed by Trump, Ryan and McConnell, his tax cuts would have been paired with significant spending cuts and perhaps a balanced budget. But to get O’Neill (and his whopping 71 seat House majority) to go along, Reagan’s ideals of fiscal prudence and smaller government had to be set aside. But Trump is no Reagan, and today’s Republican Party has about as much commitment to shrinking the size of government as did the Democrats in the 1980s.

This post was published at Euro Pac on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

What Went Wrong In Charlottesville: At All Levels, Government Is Still The Problem

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,
Corruption. Graft. Intolerance. Greed. Incompetence. Ineptitude. Militarism. Lawlessness. Ignorance. Brutality. Deceit. Collusion. Corpulence. Bureaucracy. Immorality. Depravity. Censorship. Cruelty. Violence. Mediocrity. Tyranny.
These are the hallmarks of an institution that is rotten through and through.
We have been saddled with the wreckage of a government at all levels that no longer represents the citizenry, serves the citizenry, or is accountable to the citizenry.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the federal government, state governments, or local governing bodies: at all ends of the spectrum and every point in between, a shift has taken place.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.

Catalonia’s Post-‘Independence’ Economic Hangover Sets In

Uncertainty, threats, and counter-threats.
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.
Catalonia’s recent declaration of independence may have been a largely symbolic act but the economic hangover it has left in its wake is very real. Last month the number of unemployed in the region rose by 7,391 – the highest rise in a month of November since 2009. During the same period the number of people registered with social security fell by 4,038 – the sharpest fall since November 2013.
The economic pain is already taking a psychological toll. According to a new poll published by Spain’s Center for Sociological Research (CIS for its Spanish acronym), the number of households that fear that their economic situation will worsen in the next six months surged from 14.2% in August to 22.2% in October. By contrast, in Spain as a whole there was hardly any change, with the rate barely budging from 15.1% to 15.6%.
Almost 3,000 firms have shifted the registered address of their headquarters outside Catalonia since the banned referendum on October 1, many to Madrid. Although the exodus has slowed in recent weeks, every day dozens of Catalan companies continue to change their registered office, despite the express appeal of Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to stop doing so after the activation of Article 155 of the Constitution.
The Catalan exodus has so far been purely administrative, with companies effectively shifting domiciles, the ‘brass plate’ of the business, to avoid legal and tax complications rather than moving staff or operations, which would have huge cost and logistical implications.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 6, 2017.