Monday, May 15, 2017

Observations and Sample of Recent Trades ( ELC, MPW)

Economic Reports

CPI rose .2% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis with core CPI increasing .1%.  Core CPI was unchanged when combining March and April. 

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, CPI was up 2.2% Y-O-Y.   

Consumer Price Index Summary

Table 2. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U. S. city average, by detailed expenditure category

Energy costs have contributed to Y-O-Y inflation numbers for several months, but that is about to change. West Texas Intermediate is currently range bound between $46 to $50 per barrel which would be basically flat Y-O-Y starting with the May 2016 numbers: Cushing, OK WTI Spot Price FOB (Dollars per Barrel)

The Atlanta Fed's GDP model is currently forecasting a robust rebound in the second quarter: GDPNow - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Retail sales picked up in April from an upwardly revised March number. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted .4% in April. March was revised to up .1% from down .2%. There was a big jump in gasoline sales based primarily on a price increase.  And, note the decline in general merchandise sales and the surge in nonstore retail sales. (see table 1) 

Overall, last week's economic reports were positive.


China's economic activity widely slows in April - MarketWatch

Oil Jumps as Saudis, Russia Favor Extending Output Deal to 2018 - Bloomberg


Mostly Politics

Obstruction of Justice and the Impeachment Clause of the U.S. Constitution

Trump gave the following rationale for terminating Comey in an NBC interview:  

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’”

Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey - The Washington Post
Partial transcript: NBC News interview with Donald Trump - CNN 

One of the few impermissible reasons for firing Comey was the one given by Trump. The reason given is relevant evidence to a criminal obstruction of justice charge against Trump.  

Another possible event relevant to a criminal obstruction of justice charge would be asking the FBI Director for loyalty under the then existing circumstances. Trump denies that he made such a request. 

Trump asked James Comey to pledge his loyalty to him - CBS NewsTrump says James Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes'" of conversations - CBS News

18 U.S. Code Chapter 73 - OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICEDoes firing James Comey put Trump in legal jeopardy? - CBS News  

Lawrence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, argues that there are already grounds for impeachment. Trump must be impeached. Here’s why. - The Washington Post 

That argument is a moot point. 

There is not a single republican member of the House Judiciary Committee that would even request the initiation of an inquiry, let alone actually vote for impeachment. 

Unless Trump starts to publicly hang Journalists on the White House lawn, with Trump giving the thumbs down on nationwide TV with 100+ nuns as live witnesses, each of whom personally viewed and tousled the orange hair to confirm his identity, the GOP will not start impeachment proceedings against Trump.  

Remember that the republicans voted to impeach Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice even though he was never charged with that felony. A precedent was then set by the GOP that requires a far lower standard of proof for impeachment compared to a criminal conviction. That kind of effort, which was doomed in the Senate, only creates a more dysfunctional government ruled by hyper partisanship for political gain and power. 

It goes without saying that the GOP would never even consider applying the same impeachment standard to a republican President that they applied in the Clinton impeachment proceedings. 

Most republicans in the House Judiciary Committee refused to impeach Nixon even when it was shown beyond any reasonable doubt that he had committed felonies while exercising Presidential powers.  

The obstruction of justice charge against Clinton dealt with his efforts to cover up his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky while he was President. House impeaches Clinton - December 19, 1998 The GOP did a good job of setting him up knowing he would lie about it.  

Experts: Trump's Alleged Conversations With Comey Improper - NBC News

Current and Former FBI Officials Dispute Trump Account of Meeting With FBI Director - NBC News

President Trump Unleashes on Fired FBI Director James Comey and 'Fake Media' - NBC News

Trump Offers New Account of Firing ‘Showboat’ Comey-The New York TimesTrump calls Comey 'showboat,' acting FBI chief contradicts president | Reuters

If Comey is a "showboat" and a "grandstander" as Trump claims, what does that make Trump, easily the most bombastic, egomaniacal and narcissistic President in U.S. history?
Trump Told He Would Not Be Greeted Warmly at FBI: Officials - NBC News Donald, as stated on the ancient Greek Temple at Delphi, "Know Thyself". 
Know Thyself | Psychology Today

FBI Acting Chief Disputes Trump on Comey -Bloomberg;

FBI Russia investigation: "There's a whole lot of interfering going on" - CBS News

Poll: Majority of Americans Think Comey's Dismissal Was Not Appropriate - NBC News (79% of republicans believe it was appropriate)

National (US) Poll - May 10, 2017 - U.S. Voters Send Trump Approval to Near Record Low- Quinnipiac University Connecticut  

There was a question in the Quinnipac poll that asked what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump. Idiot was at # 1, followed by incompetent and then liar. My first response would be "liar" though "asshole" would be a close second. 

AP Analysis: Trump thrusts US presidency into perilous area - The Washington Post

NBC/WSJ Poll: Just 29 Percent Approve of Trump's Firing of James Comey - NBC News

Michael Hayden, a 4 star retired general and a CIA Director appointed by Bush Jr., made the following recent comments about what has happened so far under the titular head of the republican party: 

"In 110 days, the president has fired a national security adviser, an acting attorney general and the director of the FBI. This kind of behavior is not normally associated with a mature Western democracy. It's associated with autocratic populist states I have lived enough in the world. .... I have seen how thin the veneer of civilization is. You just have that concern. People, be careful. We're not guaranteed this kind of life that we have experienced for the last period of time."

Ex-CIA Chief Michael Hayden: 'America as Nicaragua'

George Will noted that Trump suffers from a "dangerous disability". Trump is not only ignorant and ignorant of his ignorance, but he also does not "know what it is to know something".  Trump’s ‘Dangerous Disability’? It’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect - Bloomberg

Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow - The Washington Post


Trump Establishes Vote Fraud Commission - NBC NewsTrump Is Said to Pick Voter ID Advocate for Election Fraud Panel - The New York Times

With the nomination of Kris Kobach to be the Vice Chairman of Trump's voting fraud commission (Pence is the Chairman), the clear signal being sent is that the Commission's real purpose is to rubber stamp Trump's fictional claims of voting fraud in order to impose more restrictive voting requirements and thereby to further undermine that fundamental right for those who do not vote the right way including college students and the poor.  

Facts do not matter to either Kobach or Pence, so both are ideal choices for the GOP to lead this so-called republican controlled voting fraud commission: 

Kris Kobach is a big fraud on Kansas voter fraud | The Kansas City Star

Trump pick of Kobach for voter fraud panel sparks outrage | McClatchy Washington Bureau

Trump's bogus voter claim just got deadly serious (Opinion) - CNN

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Trump and Massive Voter Fraud Allegations-Cover For Voter Suppression

As ID Laws Fall, Voters See New Barriers Rise - The New York Times

The greatest danger to America's Democracy is internal and involves the deliberate and long standing efforts to undermine institutions and processes that are essential to a properly functioning Democracy.  


More than 8 out of 10 republicans believe that Hillary's email problem was worse than the crimes committed by Richard Nixon. Morning ConsultRevisiting Clinton and Classified Information -     

Trump: 'Maybe I'll Release' Tax Returns After Leaving White House - NBC News


It is certainly possible that Trump will become so radioactive and toxic that the republican's agenda will bog down. There is an intersection where politics can have a non-temporary influence on stock prices. Most of the time, stock prices are governed by powerful economic forces that are largely immune from the Washington circus. 

Looking at a 100+ year chart of the DJIA, it would not be possible to predict stock prices based on the political tribe then in power or the periods when there was a division in power. Possibly the only conclusion that could be drawn is that catastrophic stock market declines occur when a republican is President. (1929-1932, 1974, 2000-2002, 2008)  

Historical Chart (bear markets are readily identifiable in that chart and will generally show a roller coaster ride, with one catastrophic phase, that goes nowhere for an extended period) 


Snapshots of Income Received 5/15/17-One Taxable Account

My investment strategy is based in part on creating a steady flow of income from an extremely diversified portfolio of assets. The following two snapshots are from my Fidelity taxable account and do not include the monthly distributions paid by my Canadian REITs on 5/15/17. 

I had one short term bond mature on the 15th. I have already reallocated the proceeds from all short term bonds and CDs, which mature between 5/1/17 through 9/30/17, to the purchase of Tennessee municipal bonds maturing in 10+ years. The total reallocated from short to longer term maturities was $120K.  It will be several weeks before I mention here all of those purchases. 

I have discussed so far the following ($50K): 

Stocks,Item # 4.A. Bought 5 Knoxville Water Bonds 

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Tennessee Municipal Bonds (Bought 5 Knox County Tennessee 3% General Obligation (GO) Bonds; Bought 5 Chattanooga Tennessee 4% Electric Utility Revenue Bonds; Bought 15 Wilson County Tennessee 3.5% GO Bonds; Bought 15 Williamson County Tennessee 2.5% GO Bonds; Bought 5 Maury County Tennessee 2% GO Bonds)

The second snapshot above shows that I received the annual dividend paid by Zurich Financial, a company based in Switzerland. I bought the USD priced ADR in February 2012. The ordinary shares are priced in Swiss Francs. Switzerland withheld a 15% tax on the last dividend payment. That is the first dividend tax paid to Switzerland since I first bought shares. Previous distributions were not sourced from earnings but from capital surplus. Those dividends were not taxed by either Switzerland or the U.S. and were classified as return of capital which lowered my per share cost basis by the amount of the dividend. 

The $1K par value bond positions shown in the preceding snapshots are either 1 or 2 bond positions. All of the $1K par value bonds referenced in those snapshots, with two exceptions, pay interest semi-annually. 

One exception is the 2 National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance SU bonds that make monthly interest payments. I recently discussed buying 1 bond from this issuer that has a 3% coupon and a 2026 maturity:  Item # 1.C.

There is also a one SU note issued by Goldman Sachs that pays interest monthly that I discussed buying here.

The two WFC CDs that are referenced above also pay monthly. Most of the owned WFC CDs, all of which make monthly interest payments, are in my Schwab taxable account. 


1. Intermediate Term Bond/CD Ladder Basket Strategy:

A. Bought 2 Eversource 3.35% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 3/15/26:

ES Eversource Energy Page at Morningstar 
FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus not linked)
Credit Ratings: 
Moody's at Baa1

YTM at Total Cost (99.051) =  3.474%

Last March, Eversource sold $300M in 2.75% senior notes maturing on 3/15/22. 

Eversource 2017 First Quarter Report  ES Analyst Estimates
Eversource Energy 2016 Annual Report 
ES 2016 4th Quarter Earnings Report

B. Added 1 Northern States Power 2.6% First Mortgage Bond Maturing on 5/15/23:

Issuer: Wholly Owned by Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL)
FINRA PAGE: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Aa3
S & P at A

YTM at Total Cost (99.541 ) = 2.682%

I now own two of these bonds. The other purchase was mentioned here.

Xcel 2017 1st Quarter Earnings Report 

C.  Bought 2 DuPont 2.8% Senior Unsecured Bonds Maturing on 2/14/23

Issuer:  E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.
DD E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co Page at Morningstar
FINRA Page: Bond  Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings: 
S & P at A-

YTM at Total Cost (99.496 ) = 2.894%

In late April, Dupont sold $1.25B in 2.2% notes maturing on 5/1/20. 

DuPont 2017 First Quarter Earnings Report 

DD Analyst Estimates

2016 Annual Report
Dupont SEC Filings

D. Bought 2 Ameren 2.7% First Mortgage Bonds Maturing on 9/1/22:

Issuer: Ameren Illinois, a subsidiary of Ameren Corp. (AEE)

AEE Ameren Corp Page at Morningstar
FINRA Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at A1
Moody's upgrades Ameren Corp. and Ameren Illinois; affirms Union Electric; outlooks stable
S & P at A

YTM at Total Cost  (101.079) = 2.474%

AEE Analyst Estimates

Ameren 2016 Annual Report
AEE SEC Filings

E. Bought 1 Southern California Gas Company 2.6% First Mortgage Bond Maturing on 6/15/26:

Issuer: An Indirect Subsidiary of Sempra Energ (SRE)

Finra Page: Bond Detail (prospectus linked; make whole provision starts at page S-7)
Credit Ratings:
Moody's at Aa2
Moody's upgrades Sempra utility subsidiaries; outlooks stable
S & P at A+

YTM at Total Cost (97.656) =  2.893%

SEMPRA 2016 Annual Report

2. Long Term Bond Strategy-Immaterial Allocation

A. Bought 1 TIP 1.375% Coupon Maturing on 2/15/44- A ROTH IRA Account:

Price = 110.85938

Inflation Factor = 1.04306
Original Principal Amount =$1,000
CPI Adjusted Principal Amount = $1,043.06
Premium Over Adjusted Principal = $113.27
Referenced CPI on Dated Date of 2/15/14: 233.059
Referenced CPI On Settlement Date = 243.09367
Purchase Date 4/10/17 (one day settlement)
Break-Even Inflation Rate Date on Settlement Date (4/11/17) = 2.02%

I become slightly more interested in long duration TIPs, only as trades, when the break-even inflation rate is slightly above 2% or lower.

This bond was sold at auction in February 2014.  TIPS/CPI Query Results

30-year Breakeven Inflation Rate Chart-St. Louis Fed

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: TIP Trading in the Secondary Market

Update On Buying TIPs In The Secondary Market - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

The Mechanics Of Purchasing A TIP In The Secondary Market - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Advantages and Disadvantages of Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (9/25/2009 Post):

An Example of How TIPS Work

B. Added 50 ELC at $22.88-Used Commission Free Trade:

This purchase was an average up.  

Data on Security Provided by Schwab:

Quote: Entergy Louisiana LLC First Mortgage Bonds 4.875% Series due 2066 Stock  (ELC)

I bought 30 ELC shares at $21.2. I discussed that purchase here.


Entergy Louisiana has the option to "redeem the bonds prior to maturity, in whole or in part, at any time on or after September 1, 2021, at a redemption price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the bonds being redeemed plus any accrued and unpaid interest thereon to, but not including, the redemption date."

If not redeemed early at the issuer's option, this first mortgage bond matures in 2066. 

My first purchase of an Entergy Louisiana first mortgage bond was in December 2008: 

The coupon was 7.6%. That bond has been redeemed by the issuer at par value. ITEM # 8: Stocks, Bonds & Politics: EHL Redemption

The potentially long duration first mortgage bonds are trades.

3. Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Gateway Post: Equity REIT Common and Preferred Stock Basket Strategy:

A. Sold 50 MPW at $13.93-A Roth IRA Account

Quote: Medical Properties Trust Inc (MPW)

Profit Snapshot: $69.99

MPW History in this Roth IRA Account:

One major problem with MPW is that management is engaged in empire building which requires a constant stream of stock offerings to implement. I have discussed that problem in several posts linked below. 

Shortly after I sold this last remaining lot, MPW's underwriters sold 37.5M shares at $13.25, with an underwriters' option to acquire an additional 5.625M shares. Medical Properties Trust Announces Pricing of Public Offering of Common Stock ("The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund the cash purchase price payable by MPT in connection with its acquisition of eight hospitals in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania from Steward Health Care System LLC (the “Steward Transactions”), the purchase of two acute care hospitals located in the Ohio Valley Region from Alecto Healthcare Services LLC (the “Alecto Acquisition”), the purchase of the St. Joseph Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho, and Lourdes Health in Pasco, Washington, from RCCH HealthCare Partners (the “RCCH Acquisition”), with the balance of the net proceeds to be used to repay borrowings under the Company’s revolving credit facility.") 

The proceeds to MPW after the underwriters' discount and before its expenses amounted to $12.72 per share. Prospectus 

There is a lot of uncertainty now about the future health insurance coverage for over 20 million people. If 20M+ people lose their insurance coverage over the next few years, that will have an adverse impact on MPW's tenants. 

One of MPW's major tenants, Adeptus Health (AH), has recently filed for bankruptcy. Prior to that filing, Deerfield Management bought up AH's debt and signed  an agreement in principle with MPW that was viewed favorably by investors. MPW would just take a one time rental credit of $3.1M over a 12 month period commencing when AH leaves bankruptcy. Medical Properties Trust, Inc. Describes Plans for Restructuring of Adeptus Health, Inc. Leases 

Links to Some Prior Discussions: 

3. Sold 52 MPW-Highest Remaining Cost Lot in a Satellite Taxable Account: Update For Equity REIT Basket Strategy As Of 6/24/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

Item # 4. Added 50 MPW at $9.84-Satellite Taxable Account: UPDATE For Equity REIT Basket Strategy As Of 2/12/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha
Item # 3. Averaged Down: Bought 100 MPW at $10.42: Update For Equity REIT Basket Strategy As Of 1/21/16 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha

3. Averaged Down: Bought 50 MPW at $11.4-Satellite Taxable: Update For REIT Basket Strategy As Of 9/8/15 - South Gent | Seeking Alpha
Total MPW Trading Profits to Date: $1,334.83 (Snapshots in Stocks, Bonds & Politics: Gateway Post: Equity REIT Common and Preferred Stock Basket Strategy  

Part of my MPW trading strategy is based just on reviewing a 2 and 5 year price chart. MPW Interactive Stock Chart 

The stocks has repeatedly topped out near $14. When the price approaches that level, I start to expect a stock offering. 

As a result of the recent stock offering, the price once again crashed below its 50 and 200 day SMA lines using a YT one year chart. MPW 
Any MPW stock purchase is classified at the time of purchase as a trade. For the time being, I am on the sidelines.  

Medical Properties Trust, Inc. Announces First Quarter 2017 Financial Results 
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor but simply an individual investor who has been managing my own money since I was a teenager. In this post, I am acting solely as a financial journalist focusing on my own investments. The information contained in this post is not intended to be a complete description or summary of all available data relevant to making an investment decision. Instead, I am merely expressing some of the reasons underlying the purchase or sell of securities. Nothing in this post is intended to constitute investment or legal advice or a recommendation to buy or to sell. All investors need to perform their own due diligence before making any financial decision which requires at a minimum reading original source material available at the SEC and elsewhere. A failure to perform due diligence only increases what I call "error creep". Stocks, Bonds & Politics: ERROR CREEP and the INVESTING PROCESS Each investor needs to assess a potential investment taking into account their personal risk tolerances, goals and situational risks. I can only make that kind of assessment for myself and family members.


  1. NVS, GSK, AZN: There was a story in the London Times that GlaxoSmithKline was going to offer Novartis $10.3B for its 36.5% stake in a consumer product's JV.

    There is speculation that NVS may then use that money to buy AstraZeneca which may be a stretch and has been rumor that has periodically surfaced for several years. I seriously doubt that a NVS-AZN combination will happen since NVS prefers far smaller acquisitions.

    PFE made a run at AZN back in 2014, offering $118B which the AZN board did not accept.

    I own over 130 NVS shares. This morning, I bought 30 AZN at $33.97 using a commission free trade.

    The AZN shares closed at $31.13 last Thursday and at $34 on Friday.

    AstraZeneca PLC (AZN)
    $34.12+0.12 (+0.34%)
    As of 1:35PM EDT 5/15/17

    The shares are depressed due to patent expiries (Nexium and Crestor) and the GBP/USD plunge since the Brexit vote.

    GBP to USD Chart

    The British Pound has started to make a comeback against the USD after a triple bottom near 1.21-1.22. That is one reason for a nibble. Another is that the dividend yield is good. There has also been some recent positive news flow on AZN drugs:

    And one negative piece of news:

    The ordinary shares are priced in British Pence:

    Last Earnings Report:

    I will not be discussing the AZN purchase in the blog.

  2. According to the Washington Post, Trump released highly classified information to the Russians the day after he fired Comey.

    "Current and former U.S. officials" say that Trump has jeopardized "a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State." The information was so sensitive that the U.S. had withheld it from allies. Trump revealed more information to the Russians than the U.S. would share with our closest allies.

  3. "There is an intersection where politics can have a non-temporary influence on stock prices. "

    Would that be influencing into a big dip, or more significantly triggering a recession or longer term downward spiral?

    Are there instances in the past? (You mention a coinciding with a particular party, but I'm wondering if there are actual instances where politics triggered a longer economy downspin?)


    I still can't tell if Trump is clever about introducing new dramas and how he works his PR. Or even is intentionally threatening democratic functions. ...or he's also completely dippy about understanding anything that matters.

    Just now there's news that he released classified info to Russia that day after the Comey firing while not releasing it to anyone US. He can declassify anything. But is he trying to set a new precedent, or is he that unaware that anyone would notice?

    Which goes back to the original topic - on politics effecting the market.

    (I posted this earlier, but it appears not to have gone out.)

    1. LMH: There are periods where political decisions made in Washington have serious and long term consequences which are generally slow to develop.

      Many economists believe that Lyndon Johnson helped to ignite problematic inflation that led to prolonged stock and bond bear markets. The war effort financed by debt increased demand while the Great Society programs led to inflation in several important categories like healthcare after the adoption of both Medicare and Medicaid.

      Republican ideology played a role in both the Great Depression and the recent Near Depression.

      I have discussed those policies in the past.

      Even after the 1929 stock market crash, the Great Depression could have been avoided IMO by pro-active policies and programs implemented by governments and central banks. Following GOP ideology, the Hoover administration did nothing meaningful to stop the downward spiral between 1929-1932.

    2. I didn't know that about Hoover admin doing nothing much. Makes sense that policies can effect economy in the long term.

      So extending to now, market is likely to react to laws and policies that are anticipated to have an effect (whether investors are right or wrong about what effect will happen).

      But that drama like we've been seeing and even if the president were replaced, it'd not have direct effect beyond short term. Except that different long term policies may get anticipated to get voted in.

    3. LMH: Generally I am referring to policies that generally have a long lead time.

      I would make a fact based argument now that the U.S. is headed for a fiscal train wreck. Both political tribes will be responsible. The American people will be responsible for failing to demand change in those policies or by failing to recognize that the policies favored by them will lead to that inevitable result.

      Hoover did next to nothing and the Federal Reserve contributed to a garden variety recession becoming a worldwide Great Depression. We narrowly avoided the same fate in 2008.

      The withdrawal of fiscal and monetary stimulus in 1937 caused a budding recovery to end and a return of the depression.

  4. I think Trump has decided Russia is our ally. Hey, why not?

    As for declassifying the classified intel, I doubt if he even thought about it that way. He says whatever pops into his head, in this case, bragging about how great our intel is to impress his friends.

    Apparently McMaster and Tillerson are saying the story is false.

    1. Cathie: I would label the statement made by McMaster as a straw man argument, a non-denial denial.

      The thrust of his denial is that Trump did not disclose "sources and methods" to the Russians.

      While the sources and and method relating to the alleged disclosed information are classified, so is the information derived from those sources and methods.

      The WP and the NYT articles did not claim that Trump disclosed sources and methods, but that the information derived therefrom was given to the Russians and the Russians could possibly use that information to then discover information related to sources and methods.

      If I am right in that assessment, then the National Security Advisor McMaster was convinced to engage in political spin and to deliberately mislead the public.

      Sooner or later, my assessment will be proven or disproven since McMaster will be publicly asked point blank, yes or no, whether Trump disclosed classified information without specifically mentioning the source and the method of how that highly classified information was collected.

      I do not view Trump as a bright person, and he is ignorant. He has a visceral understanding of how to manipulate those who are easily manipulated with buzzwords and phrases devoid of substance and truth.

      If the reports are true, and I currently believe that they are, Trump was just taking before thinking and was possibly bragging about U.S. intelligence. He probably does view Russia as an ally for reasons currently open to debate.

      U.S. reporters were banned from the meeting with the Russians. The photographs of the meeting were taken by a Russian:

    2. In this morning's tweets, Donald defended his right to release classified facts to the Russians:

      Those tweets appear to contradict the story being told to the public by Trump's national security advisor and other Trump officials.

      While the President can declassify information, it is never done on the fly and without being vetted through the national security apparatus as being in the national interest.

    3. Thank you. I appreciate your informed, intelligent and reasonable perspectives as always.

    4. Mainstream media's been pointing out that McMaster denied only what wasn't claimed in the first place.

      Which is sad. He must have cut a deal for something big with Trump, to let his integrity go like that. I don't think there's any need for future questions to him, in order to verify that he strawman-lied. I would watch closely to see if he turns out to be able to straight up lie like almost all of the rest of the team, or can be counted on to be "legally truthful" and we viewers need only to spot the spin.

      Fox is focusing on how it's legal for the president to declassify anything (which mainstream media has mentioned then pointed out that it's not been done without preplanning before, nor with putting Americans at risk like this was.)


      Here's a thing that worries me -- agreed that Trump isn't very bright in many areas, thinks a lot in sound bites, and is a savant at manipulative presentation...

      But I suspect he knew in advance what he was going to tell them. That he has a deal cut to tell the Russians this information or some important information.

      That he had a deal not to let our media into the room so there was less eyes on the event. That's not an accident. That's by itself very weird. He should instinctively been trying to show off a meeting with Kasliach as no big deal, to put to rest rumors that his right to presidency was created by Kasliach.

      That he figures if he used his ramblying style, no one in the room would assume he'd done it on purpose. I suspect he wasn't counting on a leak about his giving the classified info.

      I am wondering if he was planning on giving out info all along. That he hasn't decided Russia is our country's ally. He's decided and made a deal for Russia to be his personal ally.

      It's very possible. I don't see anything yet that rules that out. And a few things that point to on purpose more than accidental. Do you spot anything?

      I don't see the media even flirting with the idea that it was on purpose.

      I worried that it's a big mistake for the media and public to interpret this like he's a normal person with assumption of good intent but accidents on the part of the man. Some people are that much more coy and not well intended. And one and one by the time a regular person figures it out, it's often too late.

    5. LMH: It is certainly possible that Trump will feed the Russians classified information as part of a blackmail type scheme. Giving the Russians information in an open room setting with others present would be one of many possible modes of transmission.

      Remember the purported "golden shower" tape that is alleged to exist.

      I would not rule it out, but there is no hard evidence yet that he has passed or will pass classified information for that reason.

    6. I had a typo. I meant when dealing with someone personally who has bad intent, people often assume decency and give plausible excuses, until it's too late. At which point money is gone, or relationships with good other people in one's life have been ruined.


      I forgot about the shower tape. I've never felt comfortable with that item as real. However, a lot of the dossier that seemed ridiculous has since been shown to have some accuracy. It raises the idea that it could be a tape of anything illegal - or that even he thinks he can't spin to strength that would ruin his reputation.

      Also with this, he's shown that classic sociopathic thing where they really do like autocratic environments and abusive events, and don't realize how offensive they are to others... so they talk about them positively... and to most people, it's so impossible to think they honestly mean it, that people in their world give them cover excuses. They count on people's good will as part of their cover. My thought being that Trump could that "dumb" but it's not really dumbness, about what Russia is and what a problem he's creating, while doing it intentionally.

      Spouse abusers usually don't think what they are doing is bad. They cover it up only to the extent that they think others will harass them about it.

    7. LMH: If the golden shower allegation had been made against Reagan, Daddy Bush, Bush Junior, or just about any other politician other than Trump, I would give it a zero chance of being true and would dismiss it quickly as "fake news".

      When made against Trump, however, it is at least plausible IMO. I already have a low opinion of his character which I view as amply justified by the known facts.

    8. Agreed - I don't give much of anything a zero chance with him. My instinct though was that wasn't gross enough to be "the issue" or was somehow not quite what exists and the dossier isn't perfect.

      I was thinking that it doesn't have to be that. It could be most anything that he's on the hook for.

      I'd been focusing on money, but your point on the shower tape, expanded my thinking to most anything that he doesn't think he can spin.

      On the tape, I'm not sure he'd be that embarrassed about that and would just happily spin that one too. "I'm viral and can explore and get away with anything" would be his spin. So I'd expect whatever is going on, has deeper roots than a shower tape.

  5. I have published a new post that deals with Interactive Brokers: