I don’t either.

Ryan, Trump and McConnell: These were our leaders on January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day

Just because you and I don’t remember the 2020 Recession, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The official arbiter of recessions — the Bureau of Economic Research — says there was one.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion following the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

The National Bureau of Economic Research officially recognized the Recession of 2020 as the shortest on record at just 2 months, with the trough of that recession occurring in April 2020.

One milestone which helps to mark the 2020 recession is the price of oil. During the month of April 2020, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate was absolutely erratic, actually closing Negative at (Minus $37/bbl) on April 20, 2020. [Was gasoline free that day? I don’t recall.]

Back to January 20, 2017, Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Day.

Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, was serving as Speaker of the House.  Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, was the Senate Majority leader.

Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 at age 28. He developed a reputation as a no-nonsense deficit-hawk fully focused on reducing entitlements and reducing taxes. Ryan had been serving as Speaker of the House since 2015.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was Paul Ryan’s swan song, eagerly supported by Trump and most congressional Republicans.

Unfortunately, it was exactly the wrong time to enact this complex piece of legislation, primarily because it relied on untested assumptions at a point in time when the U.S. was riding the tail end of the longest economic expansion in history. It created massive increases in our national debt; it favored investment increases in oil and related industries (which to some appeared to be a means to curtail pending increases in oil prices); and exuberant expectations that repatriation of corporate profits parked offshore would be used to create domestic jobs turned into a massive stock buyback across the market.

In early February 2018, Paul Ryan began to reflect on the true consequences of the TCJA. He tweeted, “Julia Ketchum, a secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She didn’t think her pay would go up at all, let alone this soon. That adds up to $78 a year, which she said will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

In April 2018, Ryan announced his intention to retire from Congress on January 3, 2019 — the end of his current term — thus ending a 20-year career representing his constituents in Wisconsin — so that he could spend more time with his family.

Left to its own devices, the 2017 TCJA may have created an unchecked economic calamity.

Then came the Covid-19 Pandemic which turned into an unforeseen international societal and economic tragedy – and clearly was the trigger which caused the 2020 recession. Yet, the impacts of Covid didn’t begin to surface until 1st quarter 2020, so there is a 24 month period following the January 2018 introduction of the TCJA which economists are now examining to help create real context around current (mid-2022) economic uncertainties.

Even a neophyte like me can add the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine to: (a) the long-term economic damage created by the TCJA; (b) the Covid wild card; and (c) the economic devastation of Trump’s tariffs, particularly on our agriculture sector. When we spread the numbers, we can begin to see an almost perfect recipe created under Trump’s watch sufficient to decimate any economy.

Despite the open hostility and recalcitrance of elected Republicans currently serving in Congress, I must give Joe Biden and the Democrats a 5-Star rating for refusing to capitulate, and for keeping the ball moving forward.

The most recent reactions to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago from Fox News and among Donald Trump’s followers confirm that Donald J. Trump might be a very dangerous cult leader.

The American Psychological Association (APA) associates Cult Leaders with those who exhibit narcissistic psychopathy in their actions and behaviors.

Cult leaders usually are psychopaths with a desire for power who often take ideas from politics, religion and psychology to fulfill their purpose. Through mind control, they are able to filter their thoughts and behaviors into “fanatical faith and belief” among followers.

According to a number of APA-approved research studies, “a destructive cult is an authoritarian regime, which uses deception when recruiting as well as mind-control techniques to make a person dependent and obedient.”

Some have said that the Church of Scientology resembles a cult, perhaps generally benign rather than overtly destructive.

L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in 1954, and he struggled for many years to gain recognition for it as a legitimate religion. He was often at odds with tax authorities and former members who accused the church of fraud and harassment. Hubbard died in 1986, yet he created an infrastructure which is more powerful and resolute today than any time prior.

Al Qaeda was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden using a decentralized organizational structure which has survived his death. Most agree that Al Qaeda generally fulfills the criteria for a destructive cult, and a priority within the war on terrorism should focus on application of what we know about destructive mind-control cults.

Experts advise that the best strategy to stop cults from expanding and taking control of large segments of world population is to develop a deep understanding of the psychological aspects of how people are recruited and indoctrinated so that recruitment can be impeded and ultimately stopped.

History tells us that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were a destructive political cult, led by a man with an extreme case of malignant narcissism, defined by a ferocious sense of ‘self’.

Malignant narcissists – sometimes described as Narcissistic Psychopaths — exhibit no empathy. They believe they are above the law; they frequently make threats or speak of committing violence. They’re often paranoid; they demand complete loyalty; and they rarely trust anybody.

Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Putin, Jim Jones and Sun Myung Moon are often cited as malignant narcissists, some more a threat to the continuation of the human race than others.

The most recent reactions to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago from Fox News and among Donald Trump’s followers confirm that Donald J. Trump must be a cult leader.

“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, was raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump complained in a statement sent out via email by Trump’s Save America PAC. Never bashful in his quest to amass the largest political action fund in world history, his statement concluded with a request for donations: “Please rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”

Almost immediately, Trump’s followers – ignoring the possibilities that Trump was flaunting U.S. laws and regulations – began to circle the wagons, claiming Trump is being unfairly persecuted by the Biden administration and other hard-left liberals. Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, spent time on August 9 with Jesse Watters on Fox News claiming that the entire FBI operation essentially was ‘illegal, immoral and perfidious’.

We only need to look back to the early morning of September 11, 2001, when 19 terrorists from the religious extremist cult Al Qaeda hijacked four commercial aircraft and crashed two of them into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex in NYC. Then, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. Passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, fought back, and the plane was crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air from Washington, D.C.

Nearly 3,000 people died. It was the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The terrorists from 9/11/2001 failed to destroy the foundation of U.S. society by force. Undeterred, it seems that these and other external forces have focused on indoctrination as a means to destroy our nation.

The growth of the Trump Cult – estimated to be as large as 35% of the U.S. population today – is proof that constant and focused messaging can be a powerful tool to alienate people who feel disenfranchised, and a majority of those people look like me.

I’m now retired; an over-65 white male who fought it out for 4+ decades to survive and prosper in an ever-changing workplace environment. It would have been easy for me to give up and blame the changes and challenges on women; people of color; immigrants; or ‘government over-reach’.

In fact, most GOP effort over the past several years has consisted mostly of new state and local election laws that have restricted voting in ways that often place a disproportionate burden on Black and Latino voters.

The Trump Terrorists have been programmed to zero in on racial, ethnic, religious and gender differences on the notion that entitled white men could be deprived from their rightful legacy.

The very origin of the Trump campaign is “Let’s Make America Great Again” referencing back to the 1956-57 era when virtually every white male high school graduate could transition into a family wage job – with GM or Ford; in government; mining; agriculture; transportation; construction; or a myriad of other industries. Those were the days when a typical CEO made 20 times the salary of the average worker.

In 2021, S&P 500 CEOs averaged $18.3 Million in compensation — 324 times the median worker’s pay. 

This inequity is the foundation of the real American dilemma. It has nothing to do with ‘deep state’ or a ‘swamp’ in D.C.  It is really grounded in the Dark Money culture which pervades our elections. Trump has plenty to say, but he has never addressed the real issues which haunt American workers.

Meanwhile, the Cult of Agent Orange is alarming, and it threatens to annihilate our entire nation.

We can do better, folks, and we must do better if we intend to survive as a nation.

I’m really juiced by the recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision by SCOTUS.

I am a 70 year old male, so I have no direct skin in this game, yet I feel as though my rights have been trampled, along with the rights of my family members, my friends and my neighbors.

The First Amendment protects each U.S. resident – even me — from the whims, passions, and/or tyranny of a few.

It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson[i], rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, is an egregious example of horrible judicial judgment, likely resulting from an apparent violation of our First Amendment.

The census of 2020 reveals an America much different from 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, and when our enumerated U.S. population was >3 Million people residing in 13 states (colonies).

Today, we have fifty states hosting a population of >329 Million people.

Many Americans today seem to believe that our nation was established under a Christian doctrine—that we are a “Christian nation” and that we should operate accordingly.

Yet, it seems quite clear today that the founding fathers were prescient in their observation(s) about religion.

The collective wisdom of our founding fathers likely derives from their disparate – yet harmonious – spiritual beliefs. Some of our founding fathers — Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Monroe and others — practiced a faith called Deism, a philosophical belief that human reason is a reliable means of solving social and political problems. Deists generally believe in a supreme being who created the universe to operate by natural laws.  This belief in reason over dogma helped guide the founders toward a system of government that respected faiths like Christianity, while purposely isolating Church and State from encroaching on each other.

The evidence is abundant:  Our founders were adamant that a person’s faith should not be intruded upon by government, and that religious doctrine should not be written into governance. They had no intent to found our nation according to Christian doctrines, yet it seems quite clear that this exclusion was not intended to devalue the importance of the Christian religion itself.

Christianity – in many iterations — continues to thrive in America, as does Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, and dozens of other religions. And, according to our 2020 Census, about 25% of Americans affiliate with no religion at all.

I’ve read and heard reports from some media sources that no honest religion could permit or encourage the termination of a pregnancy, leading me to believe that the continuing evolution of religious practice and belief in America may have been missed or ignored by some media sources.

A few media sources seem to assume that members of all religions endorse the views of a small minority of ultra-conservative Christians who are fixated on a theory that life begins at conception, rendering abortion akin to murder.  But this isn’t the consensus of all Christians, and very few Jewish or Muslim congregants share this belief. A majority of leaders within all three religions affirm the ethics of abortion in controlled and objective situations.

In fact, Jewish law requires abortion in some situations, most consistently in cases where a pregnancy endangers the life of the person carrying the embryo.

Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs III, the man whose name became synonymous with the Supreme Court decision to let states ban abortions, had virtually nothing to do with the landmark case.

Ironically, the case began in 2018 when the Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi challenging a state law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy[ii]. The original lawsuit named the Mississippi state health officer as a defendant, and at the time the lawsuit was filed, that health officer was Dr. Mary Currier.

When Dr. Currier retired in late 2018 after 34 years of service, she was replaced by Dr. Dobbs, who then became the Mississippi state health officer, and the individual in charge of regulating the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Dobbs himself has distanced himself from the case.  He is an infectious diseases physician, working at the intersection of public health and patient care, with specific expertise in HIV, tuberculosis and health equity.

Alliance Defending Freedom {ADF} [EIN 54-1660459] is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Scottsdale, AZ which was instrumental in defending the Dobbs case, leading to the overturn of Roe V. Wade.  ADF primarily is a well-funded legal organization with annual revenues of $65 Million, and net assets of $42 Million, employing 319 individuals, 69 of whom earn in excess of $100,000.

  • According to a 2020 analysis from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADF was “Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right (as) a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society.”
  • Apparently, the ADF has now expanded its focus to help support several other ultra-conservative Christian positions.

Whenever people bring their personal religious beliefs or values into any public debate, they risk imposing illegal, unwanted or restrictive religious practices and beliefs on others who have been granted the Constitutional right to pursue their own — perhaps different — beliefs.

The great majority of published public opinions opposed to open unrestricted access to comprehensive reproductive health care over the past 4 decades — including both contraception and abortion — center on personal ethical, moral or religious issues, with the loudest voices opposing open access emanating from a small minority of predominantly college educated white evangelical Christians.

Facts confirm that restrictions imposed on open access to comprehensive reproductive health care services have disproportionate adverse economic impact — and direct deprivation of human rights — on:

  • Young women (<25 years of age);
  • Low-income women; and
  • Women of color.

These are socially and economically disadvantaged women, frequently members of a protected class.

The longitudinal negative social and economic impacts on women who are denied access to a voluntary abortion — and onto the children who are born as a result — are devastating. The spillover of these social and economic impacts into our larger society is chilling.

I’ve read the U.S. Constitution several times.  Each time, I have seen clear evidence that our Founders intended to follow the core foundations of our Declaration of Independence: Ensuring equal rights and equal treatment to all individuals regardless of their address or other socio-economic variables.

Somehow, the current Religious Right – enabled by this tax exempt entity known as Alliance Defending Freedom together with other undisclosed dark money sources — has bamboozled the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing a small but very vocal minority to impose their religious morality on the rights of all women residents in the U.S., depriving them of unfettered access to comprehensive reproductive health care, regardless of current residency; education; economic status; age; disability; religion; national origin; pregnancy; race/color; sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

I believe – as a nation and as a society — we can and should do better.

The Judge Alito opinion in this case is flawed, and the consenting opinions of Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett must be recognized as religiously and politically tainted.


[ii] The fight against a woman’s right to choose continues to be highly political. The Gestational Age Act is a Mississippi law that purports to ‘protect unborn children, the health of pregnant mothers, and the integrity of the medical profession by protecting life after 15 weeks in gestational age’. The Act apparently was inspired by false prophets and funded by dark money contributions from Christian Nationalist sources.  The 15-week marker has no footing in scientific research, yet it tends to evoke a highly emotional response among skeptics. The highly regarded American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to maintain its position that “Safe and legal abortion is a necessary component of woman’s healthcare; is one of the safest medical procedures, 14 times safer to the patient than undergoing childbirth.”


[i] The full name of the Supreme Court case overturning Roe v. Wade is “Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al., Petitioners v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al.

First Amendment Rights

June 26, 2022

Hey, SCOTUS!

You just imposed the religious will of a small group of Fundamentalist Christians onto our entire nation.

Did you not know the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that everyone in the United States has the right to practice his or her own religion, or no religion at all?

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) was established in 1789 by Article Three of the U.S. Constitution, and defined in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

There are no explicit requirements in the U.S. Constitution for a person to be nominated to become a Supreme Court justice. No age, education, job experience, or citizenship rules exist. There is no requirement in the Constitution for a Supreme Court justice to have a law degree.

Supreme Court justices are nominated by the sitting President, and confirmed by the sitting Senate for a life appointment to the court.

None of this has been a concern to the viability of our nation until now.

SCOTUS 2022

We’ve recently witnessed some absolutely surreal SCOTUS decisions.

On 6/23, they gave permission for anyone and everyone to ‘pack heat’: Open season on concealed carry.

Then on 6/24, a majority of our Supreme Court judges eliminated what most of us believed was a Constitutional right to obtain an abortion, casting aside 49 years of precedent that began with Roe v. Wade.

The vote to overturn Roe v. Wade was 5-4, on a decision written by Justice Samuel Alito.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Alito’s opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts did not join the opinion. He agreed with the majority that the Mississippi abortion restriction at issue in the case should be upheld, but in a separate opinion, he argued that the court should not have overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

This decision employed fully twisted logic claiming the Roe decision was wrong ‘because the U.S. Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.’

That’s not surprising. Back at the end of the 18th century — when we had just 13 states and the only people who had voting rights were White Men who were land owners — the Constitution also made no mention of television, airline travel or record-high gasoline prices.

And then, on the following day, June 24, 2022, “in a concurring opinion that raised concerns the justices might roll back other rights, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas urged the court to reconsider past rulings protecting the right to contraception, legalizing gay marriage nationwide, and invalidating state laws banning gay sex.”

Yet, Justice Thomas made no mention of a revisit to the controversial Loving v. Virginia decision?

Clarence Thomas has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a Genuine Sanctimonious Prick.

Only Franz Kafka could do this story justice.

A recent post by Mark Sumner on Daily Kos both caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/6/17/2104655/-Donald-Trump-operates-on-One-Simple-Trick

I’m retired, so I have plenty of time to read, reflect and think about things. I try not to let the intensity of the moment get to me. I’ve found it’s better for me to stop, think and express my feelings in words. It may not change anything, but it does soothe me and help keep my blood pressure under control.

Here is my reaction to Mark Sumner’s excellent observations:

It seems that Trump has much in common with each of the historic figures (below).

They represent a rare but dangerous sub-species: Charismatic leaders who lack any social conscience, and are further devoid of the ability to empathize and identify with others on a genuine personal level.

In classic terms, these folks are narcissistic psychopaths, and most satisfy some of their urges by torturing and/or killing others. They are high-functioning individuals each of whom developed a rich repertoire of very effective coping mechanisms which allowed them to ‘fool some of the people all the time’.

Where Trump deviates from the rest of these folks is that he just isn’t very smart.

He refuses to read, study and listen to experts which limits his ability to develop a deep understanding of the world around him, thus leaving him incapable of originating, advancing and executing a productive and original strategy.

Trump is evil but shallow; he acts entirely on impulse. He treats his closest advisors like cannon fodder. Throughout his long career of grifting, pillaging and piracy, he never saw a bridge he wouldn’t burn.

I believe if Trump does live another 5 years, he will experience a precipitous fall from grace dwarfing even the saga of Bernie Madoff.

However the future unfolds, Trump will most certainly join this list of very bad actors for all of eternity:

Adolf Hitler; Joseph Stalin; Vlad the Impaler; Pol Pot; Heinrich Himmler; Saddam Hussein; Idi Amin; Josef Mengle; Ivan the Terrible; Genghis Kahn; Ayatollah Khomeini; Vladimir Putin; David Koresh; Charles Manson; Jim Jones. And the list goes on…

The former Clipper Motel, 1850 North Harrison, Clearwater, FL

This property – a 50-unit vacation destination – was acquired by the Church of Scientology FLAG Service Organization in 1996.  Although it is currently assessed for $2.3 Million, it has been off the tax rolls since 2013. That’s right. This 50-unit waterfront motel is tax exempt for religious purposes.

The property is now gated and clearly not accessible to the public, yet it appears to be well-maintained and suitable for its intended use as temporary housing for travelers.

In a post from November 2020, Mike Rinder looked deeply into the concept of awarding tax exemption to the Church of Scientology (Scientology’s Tax Exemption (mikerindersblog.org)

I am resident, voter, property owner and taxpayer in Clearwater, FL where the Church of Scientology has directly and indirectly acquired hundreds of properties, taking many off the tax rolls thus shifting the tax burden to others.

I don’t wish to debate the validity of the religious exemption Scientology won from the IRS, yet I do want to debate the practice of hiring and using an army of lawyers to fight property assessors who attempt to determine that some of the properties owned by Scientology are not used for religious or charitable purposes, and thus not eligible for property tax exemptions.

I also question many of the activities of Scientology which seem to confer ‘excess benefits’ to Chairman Miscavige and others who occupy senior positions in the Organization.

Having received tax exemption from the IRS as a religious organization, the Church of Scientology and its many affiliates are also exempt from filing an annual Form 990 “Information Return” with the IRS:

‘They are encouraged to file, but not required to file.’

The 990 provides a treasure trove of information, including executive compensation, benefits, governance, etc.

If I was a gangster posing as a religious leader, I would want to be exempt from any public disclosure, including the requirement to file a 990.

If I was an honest, fair, selfless religious leader I would hope to be fairly compensated for my education, wisdom and service so that I had adequate shelter, nutrition and safety for me and my household, but I wouldn’t object to disclosing the financial affairs of my organization, which would include disclosure of my personal compensation and benefits.

This goes well beyond Scientology as there are more than a few Exempt Religious Organizations which opt into the nondisclosure arena.

Despite that loophole, a rather large number of religious organizations which have received tax exemption from the IRS continue to file their 990 forms every year.

This seems to be another serious, dangerous and egregious loophole in our Federal Tax Code that needs to be addressed.

We, The People, ought to know what is going on behind the curtain, particularly because we are left paying the piper when those few tax-exempt organizations every year stray from the garden path.

In her recent opinion piece published in the NY Times (6/11/2022: ‘Donald Trump, American Monster’) Maureen Dowd compared Donald Trump to Frankenstein, suggesting that Trump willfully planned to overthrow our government.

Maureen has been in her business for a very long time, and – like a good marksman — she rarely veers far from center of the target.

There is an overwhelming body of evidence which confirms that Donald Trump is self-centered and lacking in empathy, the basic ingredients of a narcissistic personality.

Over the years, Trump developed an entire repertoire of very effective coping mechanisms which allows him to ‘fool some of the people all the time’, enabling him to convince about 30% of American people (mostly of European ancestry) that he actually cares about them. And, that he understands their frustrations related to the growing influence of immigrants and other non-Europeans on U.S. society and our economy; and the growing influence of ‘the deep state’ which blocks the voice of the people.

In her essay, Dowd acknowledges Trump as a narcissist, and she comes quite close to the bullseye.

What she may have missed is that Trump is the most dangerous of the species, what some have called, ‘the toxic narcissist’.

Clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD. describes a toxic narcissist: “… continually causes drama in others’ lives at the very least and causes pain and destruction at the very worst.” Mayer notes that a subset of toxic narcissists, known as psychopaths, are ‘unstable, aggressive – often violent — and will show no remorse for their behavior’.

Dowd seems to have veered slightly off the trajectory toward the bullseye when she allowed the possibility that “Trump was deadly serious about overthrowing the government.”

Although Maureen is correct that his actions (if successful) would result in an overthrow of our government, it’s doubtful that idea never ever entered Trump’s mind. He was, is and continues to be focused on the potential personal shame of losing. As a Toxic (and likely Psychopathic) Narcissist, Trump won’t back down and/or stop until he is abducted by aliens or is reinstated to the oval office.

Meanwhile, Trump has helped to inspire and energize a (mostly quiet) army of people – often identified as members of the Evangelical Christian faith — who just want everything to return to the American Promise of 1957.

Until these wayward folks can be helped to understand that our world in 2022 is much different from 1957, they are an extremely dangerous factor and they must be very carefully dealt with as the January 6 Commission saga continues to emerge.

Stock Prices, Inflation, Recession & Economic Cycles

Economic cycles – also known as business cycles — are a reality, and they can be tracked over time.  They generally are predictable, although not in precise time frames. Economic cycles consist of four identifiable phases or stages:  (a) Expansion; (b) Peak; (c) Contraction; and (d) Trough.

Every economic cycle includes a period of euphoria and exuberance marked by a sustained period of economic growth; followed by a period of uncertainty and lethargy linked to a period of economic decline.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion following the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest period of expansion on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

We know that Donald Trump never fails to speak his mind.  During the campaign leading to the 2020 presidential election, Trump proclaimed, “If (Joe Biden) is elected, the stock market will crash!

[In 2018, Trump said, “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win.” In late January 2020, Trump also said, “We have it (coronavirus) totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”]

Facts are facts:

  • The S&P 500 fell from 4,766 in late December 2021 to 3,900 today, a 20% loss;
  • We’ve seen the price of gasoline hit $5.00 per gallon, up from $3.00 just a year ago;
  • Case-Shiller recently reported a 34.8% price increase for housing in the Tampa Bay area (where I currently live) from March 2021 to March 2022;
  • The most recent CPI report reflects an annual rate of 8.6 percent through May 2022, the fastest rate in four decades.

What’s really going on?

There are a number of pieces to this puzzle, including:

  • The lingering effects of a Pandemic;
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  • Aftershocks (direct and indirect) from draconian tariffs enacted beginning in 2018;
  • Ongoing ripple effects from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA); and
  • Various supply chain issues, both domestic and international.

But, the root cause of our current intersection of inflation and stock market volatility likely traces back to 2010, when the Fed launched “QE2” – quantitative easing – essentially increasing liquidity in the domestic economy to stimulate economic growth. One of the outcomes from QE is a decrease in bond prices due to falling interest rates, combined with a run-up in stock prices as investors search for yield.

When the Fed announced its QE2 plan in November 2010, 30 year mortgages were at 5%; and the S&P 500 index was 1,200.  Over the course of the next few years, rates on 30 year mortgages dropped as low as 3.3%, and the S&P 500 index toward 2,010 (which it reached in September 2014).

Meanwhile, the CPI from 2010 to the end of 2020 remained relatively calm, reflecting the lagging effects of the economic recovery which began in mid-2009.

It is relatively easy to look into the rearview mirror now to observe that the Fed’s response to the impact of Covid on our economy helped to create an environment which fueled the inflation we are facing today.  In March 2020, in addition to a promise to inject a $ Trillion into the U.S. banking system, the Fed cut the federal funds rate to a range of 0% to 0.25%.

Those actions of the Fed likely saved our economy from implosion, but also helped to inspire a dramatic run-up in stock prices:  The S & P 500 index rose from 3,000 in early March 2020 to reach 4,700 in November 2021. (Stock prices were further affected by massive stock buybacks enabled by the 2017 TCJA).

While it seems convenient for some to blame Joe Biden for high gasoline prices; rapidly rising consumer prices; the stock market ‘meltdown’ — even for supply chain dysfunctions – history tells us there is a rather significant lag between the point when policy actions take place, until begin to see the results from those actions.

The Biden White House has pledged to fight against inflation and has stubbornly refused to blame the Fed for our current economic symptoms.

Although there are plenty of contributing factors, the real truth is over a decade of relying almost entirely on monetary policy to steer the ship brought us to this moment, not 18 months of Democratic control in the White House.

Chair of the Select Committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D, MS) & Co-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R, NV).

Today is June 9, 2022, the first day of a series of public hearings convened by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Chaired by Thompson, with Co-chair Cheney.

They are an Unlikely Duo, truly polar opposites in most ways, yet bound together by at least one common thread: an oath of office where they individually affirmed a solemn promise to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”.

Thompson began his service as a Member of Congress in 1993 representing the 2nd Congressional district of Mississippi.  He is a black male; currently age 74; born, raised and still a resident of Bolton, MS: a small, rural and hard-scrabble town in Hinds County, approximately 20 miles from Jackson, the state capital.

Thompson’s voting record has been solidly ’liberal’. His legislative platform is and has been focused mainly on agriculture and rural issues; civil rights; homeland security; equal education; and health care reform.  He is a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Cheney began her service as a Member of Congress in 2017, representing the Wyoming at-large Congressional district. She is a white female; a lawyer; age 55; 3rd generation Wyoming resident on her mother’s side. Her father, former U.S. VP Dick Cheney, represented WY in Congress for 10 years.

Cheney is known as an “ideological conservative”, and a solid representative of the Republican establishment, noted for her focus on national security; support for the U.S. military; a pro-business stance; hawkish foreign policy views; and fiscal and social conservatism.

Prior to her ‘fall from grace’ for refusing to capitulate to the “stolen election theory”, Cheney chaired the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership.

It seems perfectly clear from watching and listening to this first public hearing jointly moderated by this Unlikely Duo that the January 6th Insurrection is a seditious conspiracy against the Constitution of the United States.

It seems entirely plausible that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have continued to advance and support blatant political lies — fully disproved by both facts and the courts —aimed to support what has come to be known as the “Big Lie”: an imaginary alternative outcome from the 2020 presidential election.

Are Kevin and Mitch potentially guilty of Sedition themselves, or merely complicit in their disruptive and subversive actions?

Most sad:  Rod Serling could have produced an entire season of The Twilight Zone off the McCarthy/McConnell fabrications.