Tax Day News – One Day Extension Due to IRS Computer Glitch & Broken GOP Promises

 

Tax Deadline Extended

Good news for all the last minute tax preparation procrastinators. Due to a malfunction today of computers at the IRS payment centers, which prevented people from paying their taxes directly online, the IRS has decided to grant a one day extension to everyone, moving the tax filing deadline to Wednesday, April 18.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/parts-irs-website-down-direct-pay-not-working-today-2018-04-17/

So if you were feeling the heat of racing against the midnight deadline – you’ve been given a 24 hour reprieve! =)

 

What Became of that “Simple Postcard Size Tax Form” Promise by Trump/GOP?

Remember this promise made on the “tax reform” plan?

 

Sorry to say, that “post card size” tax return promise never came to pass- your tax forms will remain as convoluted and confusing as before. And the middle class went backwards with losing the PERMANENT personal exemption while getting a TEMPORARY standard deduction increase that begins expiring in 8 years. Also many states lost their PERMANENT state and local tax deductions as well- another hit to the middle class.

Why did the middle class get an 8 year delayed tax increase instead of a permanent tax cut? Well, somebody had to pay for the permanent tax cuts given to the wealthy in the way of eliminating the estate tax, cutting their top tax rates, slashing corporate rates, while letting all the prior loopholes that where supposed to be eliminated to pay for these cuts remain.

For the icing on this tax reform cake, an extra $1.5 Trillion will be added to our growing debt, that ALL tax payers will be on the hook for.

It’s only a matter of time before more and more people non wealthy folks start realizing how poorly they fare under this Trump/GOP tax plan, making the unpopular plan even lower rated.

 

 

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Free Movie Stream This Weekend on AI: Do You Trust This Computer?

There is a new documentary on AI starring big tech minds like Elon Musk:

‘Do You Trust This Computer?’ Trailer: Documentary Exploring Perils Of Artificial Intelligence Sets Switch-On Date

https://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/do-you-trust-this-computer-documentary-elon-musk/

Elon Musk is sponsoring free streaming this weekend.

Analysis of President Trump’s First Year in Office

I wanted to write this at the end of January, but never could find the intersection of having both the time and motivation to do it.

This first year has been mostly a non stop ride of Trump not conforming to what would be expected of the model of President that has been in place for several generations.

Some of the notable differences:

1) He uses Twitter to share his opinions and policies on everything. This includes personal insults levied at anyone that catches his attention, whether they are regular folks, movie stars, business people, or other politicians, which includes those who work for him in his Admin like Jeff Sessions. These attacks are seen by many as “unpresidential” in particular, and immature in general.

2) He remains in “campaign mode” and never made the transition of moving towards the center. It’s standard for elected Presidents that they try to move towards a middle ground consensus area rather than remain entrenched in their highly partisan campaign rhetoric. After all, they are President of the whole country, not just those who voted for them. Trump established his 2020 re-election  campaign group earlier than any modern President and his public speeches are often indistinguishable from his election campaign speeches as they still include attacks on Hillary Clinton and the Dems and recalling his surprise election victory.

3) His choice of hires for his Admin have been very controversial – placing people to be in charge of departments that they have no experience in and/or expressed disdain for in past comments. Examples:

Secretary of Education: Betsy Davos – Has a history of being an advocate of charter schools over public schools with no prior public school government experience. Couldn’t get a majority vote in the Senate for confirmation, required tiebreaker vote by Vice President Mike Pence. Recently had a disastrous 60 minutes interview showing her to be ill-prepared  in solving public school problems.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson – A  neurosurgeon with no background government experience in this area. His time in office has been controversial with scaling back Housing Enforcement  and recently involved in a controversy of spending $31,000 for an office dining set.

Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry – Former Governor of Texas – In the past has stated that if he were elected President, he would abolish the Department of Energy.

Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke – Advocating shrinking the size of National Parks and Monument areas, opening them up to mining and oil exploration. Actions to date have elicited angry responses from many.

Acting Director for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Mick Mulvaney – The CPFB was created to protect the consumer in response to the financial crisis of 2008/2009  which led to the Great Recession.  The CPFB’s purpose is to protect the consumer from predatory financial practices. Mulvaney  has stated in the past he wanted to eliminate/do away with it.

Head of the Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt – Avid  climate change denier.

 

Campaign Promise Fulfillment Status

Trump’s major tenets he said he would fulfill if elected:

1) Increased restrictions on immigration and travel ban on several countries that coincidentally have a higher percentage of Muslim citizens.

Released an immediate controversial travel ban that caused chaos as some people who were in the middle of traveling  to the US were blocked from entering the country. The ban was declared unconstitutional by the US appeals court. He ended protections for undocumented children who were brought here by their parents (DACA) and have lived here most of their lives.

2) Health Plan that was superior to the ACA (Obamacare).

Revealed he had no plan, but left if up to the GOP House and Senate to make changes. This resulted in bills from the House and Senate that had a main purpose of defunding/gutting the ACA, making things worse, as opposed to improving America’s healthcare. The Bill failed in the Senate.

3) Building a southern border wall that Mexico would pay for, costing the USA nothing.

To date there is no concrete plan for Mexico to pay for the wall. Instead, Trump is demanding the US pay for it now, using DACA as a bargaining chip.

4) Tax relief for the middle class, lower corporate tax rates with more scrutiny to close Wall Street/corporate/ultra wealthy tax loop holes.

Trump touted his tax plans as having big breaks for the middle class, and said rich people like him were not going to like it at all. The actual results were quite different, with the middle class losing their permanent deductions/personal exemptions for themselves and their dependents as well as most of their State and local tax deductions. In return, they got a doubling of the standard deduction that will expire in 8 – 10 years. In reality the middle class received a delayed tax increase. Corporations and the wealthy, on the other hand, received a permanent tax reduction and the elimination of the estate tax, which only affected single individuals with inherited homes worth over 5 million or over $10 million for couples. There was also no closing of any corporate or Wall Street tax loop holes.

The tax bill is estimated to cost an additional $1.5 Trillion in national debt, which looks very bad for Republicans who had been campaigning on fiscal responsibility  during Obama’s time in office. The general public was not happy with this tax bill as polling showed the majority dissatisfied. Most believe they will not see much of the benefits and it’s a give away to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

5) No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid

Contrary to his promise of no cuts, Trump’s budget plan for 2018 is making cuts to all three: Medicaid being cut by $1.1 trillion, Social Security being cut by $72 billion, and Medicare being cut by $266 billion.

6) Renegotiate global country trade policies.

Trump stopped movement on the US joining the TPP as promised. In recent weeks Trump has started making unilateral decisions about charging tariffs on our global trading partners like China and Canada that threaten to trigger an all out trade war. As the US now imports most of it’s goods and services, a full scale trade war would have negative consequences for the economy.

7) Reveal Tax Returns after Audit

Trump promised to reveal his tax forms after his audit. An audit has never stopped anyone from showing their taxes before. He was the only president in modern history to not reveal at least his prior two years of tax return forms. After the election, he has decided not to reveal them ever.

8) Better Economy – Stopping Corporate Layoffs from Outsourcing

Trump campaigned on going after corporations that were outsourcing their labor and closing down plants in the US. After the tax bill passed, companies like Carrier and Amazon announced no layoffs and/or bonuses would be paid as a result of the lower tax rates. However, Carrier and Amazon announced new rounds of layoffs afterwards.

The stock market raced to all new highs for the year, which Trump proudly took credit for with multiple tweets with every new high made. Prior presidents did not go all in of market gains made, since that would mean they would also have to own it if the market started going down. Trumps talk of imposing tariffs have sparked trade war fears which has increased market volatility and declines.

 

Not Normal is the New Normal

From the start of the immediate execution of the travel ban the Trump Admin has been embroiled in what are literally one major controversial move or incident after the next. Some of the biggest examples:

1) Trumps adamant resistance to attack or stand up to the accusations of Russian election meddling or Russian overseas aggression.

Despite the US top intelligence agencies (CIA,FBI, NSA) reporting on their certainty of Russian election meddling, it took months before Trump stopped saying Russian interference was just a possibility rather than a certainty. He has still not directed our security agencies to ramp up their defenses against future Russian attempts to interfere with our elections. No matter how aggressive or belligerent Russia acts, he is loathe to publicly condemn or even complain about it.

2) Firing of FBI Director James Comey that was investigating possible Russian collusion with US citizens to affect election results.

In a very unexpected move, Trump fired the FBI director while the director was conducting an investigation into potential collusion between the Russians and Trump election campaign members. It’s never a good idea to attempt to try and fire the person who could be investigating them, as it looks like at attempt to be above the law and the issue with Nixon and Watergate come to mind. This resulted in a Special Counsel being created to investigate potential collusion and a spotlight many times brighter than when Comey was on the job.

3) Attack on US institutions and News Media

It’s been almost surreal the way Trump and several GOP politicians have begun attacking the FBI and DOJ since it was revealed Trump and his Admin are under investigation. He has expressed great disdain towards his appointed AG Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation, via a steady stream of insulting and belittling tweets. Jeff Sessions was the 1st GOP Senator to support Trumps election plans. Fox News pundits have assisted by talking about a “deep state” of law enforcement officials having sinister intent.

Trump has also directly attacked news outlets for generating “fake news”, which doesn’t turn out to actually be fake, just real news that is unfavorable towards Trump. No prior president has placed such an emphasis on attacking the media. Trump often says inaccurate things which prompts media correction.

These attacks serve to weaken both confidence in the government and the free press, not good for a democracy.

4) Potential Emolument Scandals

Trump and his family including son in law Jared Kushner never fully divested from their business interests upon taking up office positions, and now they are under a cloud of potential emolument violations of using their government positions to enrich their private business.

6)  Revolving door Administration with record number of departures for a president at the 1 year mark

The list of Trump Administration departures due to scandals, potential scandals, falling out of favor with Trump, ethics violations, potential criminal acts, have exceeded past records and shows no sign of abating.

List of departures to date- changing weekly, if not daily:

7) Misc Scandals/Controversies Du Jour

While campaigning in 2016, Trump often joked that a Clinton victory would result in her Administration getting bogged down in constant scandals. How ironic that joke turned out to be seeing how his Admin is faring with non stop controversies/scandals. Some examples:

1) Trump saying that there were “good people on both sides” at a Neo Nazi White Nationalist protest where fights broke out and a counter protestor died. Many questioned how there can be “good people” on the side of the White Nationalist group shouting anti semitic, Nazi, and anti non-white slogans.

2) Trump’s disdain and NSFW comments about immigrants from non European, non white countries.

3) Trump’s multiple sex scandals are currently front and center in the news.

 

Popularity Rating

Trumps approval rating ranges from the mid 30’s to the low 40’s, the lowest of any president at this point in their term.

He has about 30% – 32% of devoted fans, with ~12% that vary in approval over time. His disapproval has ranged the mid 40’s to high 50’s. His first year has been one of the most polarizing in history.

 

 

Bitcoin and Blockchain Explained in Short and Sweet Vids

With all the news and attention surrounding Bitcoin and all the other crypto currencies, many folks are still trying to figure out what exactly is a “Bitcoin” as well as all the other terms that are associated with it.

I found some videos that are very short (~3 minutes or less) that do a good job of breaking it all down:

 

 

 

Hospital Wheels Out and Abandons Disoriented Patient Outside into Below Freezing Temps

In our current medical system where access to medical care is based on whether you can afford good insurance, hospitals run into problems with having to care for patients who arrive and may not have adequate or even any insurance.  Uninsured or under-insured patients put a financial drain on hospitals which cut into the bottom line of profits. If this person is homeless, it becomes problematic on what to do with an uninsured patient. Some ruthless hospital admin have resorted to the act of “patient dumping”, where a hospital will just remove a patient from the hospital and abandon them somewhere on the street.

This latest case in the news shows a guy who captured on his phone a group of Baltimore Hospital staff wheeling a patient out of the building and leaving her at a bus stop in freezing weather wearing only a patient gown. She appears mentally disoriented and unable to respond to the situation.

 

This is the latest horrific example of what happens in a society that doesn’t have universal health care services, and is heartbreaking on many levels. The easy target would be the security guards who threw her out in that condition, but it’s clear they were ordered to do so by someone in admin. Not that the guards are blameless – following orders to put someone helpless in a life threatening situation should be a criminal offense.

The choice we are going to have to make as a society is if this is the type of system we want- survival of the fittest and those who don’t have the financial means to get help are cast aside and ignored, or something more inclusive and humane?

Trump has stated that his “health plan” will stop people dying in the street, but in reality, he had no specific health plan to offer and left it up to the GOP to craft one, and all they did was attempt to gut the current ACA rather than do anything to fix the problem of the increasing uninsured. Had the good Samaritan not intervened, this women could have surely died from exposure.

 

End of Year Post

It’s so hard to believe that 2017 is hurtling towards the close in its short remaining hours. Time certainly does fly when you’re busy. Of course this has been quite an event filled year as well. The November Surprise of 2016 was just the opening act of unanticipated shocks, tumults, and surprises experienced in 2017, and 2018 promises even more dramatic upheavals.

I haven’t been talking about my trading much at all, but it’s been my primary focus throughout the year. I spent some time reading the opinions of other traders on trading message boards, and I’m always surprised by both the negativity and lack of open mindedness in quite a few of the posts there. Negativity in the sense that so many people think successful day trading isn’t possible (why would they hang out on a trading site?), and that they are certain as to what works and what doesn’t. For example they will act as an authority that “method A” in figuring out trading isn’t possible. They base this on the fact that it didn’t work for them, and they don’t know any one personally who is using that method successfully. This type of thinking is absurd. There are many things I’m unable to do, that I know those around me can’t do either, but that doesn’t mean that particular skill hasn’t been mastered by someone outside my field of knowledge. Thinking in absolutes of what will or won’t work will limit one’s mind growth. I guess you would call that thinking “inside” the box.

My trading growth in understanding has made good progress this year. I was fortunate to be able to obtain some insights that allowed me to connect the dots with other observational recurring market behavior. So much so that I expect 2018 to be a breakout year.  It’s amazing how a key insight can help bring all the other discoveries into their proper order to make for a big picture revelation. The time needed to arrive at these insights has taken far, far longer than anticipated, and makes it very clear to me why the failure rate in reaching trading success is so high.

I could delve into my thoughts about Trump’s 1st year, but that would take up too much space and seriousness, so I’ll save that for the New Year. What a year though – chronicled via Twitter!

 

Here’s a video I found that sums up the year of Trump:

 

 

 

 

 

Shocking Reveal: Many Rich and Powerful Men Have No Game

 

Corporate America, Hollywood, Washington DC, and News Media have been rocked by sexual harassment allegations toppling the giants and household names from those industries.

As the wave of revelations continues, it reveals the toxic culture of workplace environments that allow and make it easy for abuse to take place for decades with the perpetrators having no fear of being exposed to act as a restraint.

What I find equally shocking, is the mythos of rich and powerful men being assumed to be masters of wit, charm, and seduction has been shattered.

The movies always typically portray the rich handsome villain being able to seduce even the most resistant woman to have her starting to pursue him by using his highly refined grace, wit, guile, and charm. The “movie prototype” never has to force himself on a woman, his romancing skills are legendary that can’t be resisted for long.

Now current events lift the curtain to reveal that many of these mega rich men in real life have absolutely no game at all. In fact – it’s so bad/pathetic, they may as well be considered to have negative game.

You would think with the wealth and power at their disposal, they would be able to attract many interested women without needing to resort to predatory sex assault behavior.

Yet, it seems the consensus of the majority of these guys was that dropping their pants and exposing themselves was a “genius” move sure to put any woman in the mood. It’s absolutely amazing how many of these men thought that exposing their private parts was a good move. It’s like any kind of social training and norms are chucked out the window in favor of the most direct, crudest approach they can think of.

Having been outed, these guys now half-apologize – never fully acknowledging their horrible actions by saying there were “misunderstandings”. There’s nothing to “misunderstand” about them exposing themselves to their subordinates, acquaintances, and coworkers. There doesn’t seem to be any misunderstanding when they can see tears running down a woman’s face as they are being groped or worse- yet they continue.

What’s closer to the truth may be these guys had zero intentions of using any type of romantic charm, and just derive pleasure from forcing themselves onto women who they know have no interest in them. They are nothing more than rich predators abusing their power in the worst ways possible.

 

Fare Thee Well AIM – The Venerable Messaging Service Signing Off Permanently in December

 

Back in the early days of the commercial internet when smart phones didn’t exist and phone texts were being changed at 10 cents a pop, AIM was the bright beacon of desktop social messaging.

Who can forget the telltale “message sent” and “message received” sounds…”doodle-deet!”….”deedle-doot!”

Time and technology marches on and now sending a text is free and standard to all phones as well as other numerous messaging apps now available.

Here’s an interesting thought exercise – for those who used AIM- do you remember the last time you used it – I sure don’t!

 

Having outlived its popularity and usefulness, they decided to call it a day- that exact day being December 15, 2017.

http://time.com/4972583/aim-ending-reactions/