“Bundle Up!”

Trump Treats Brutal Cold Snap In The Northeast As Endorsement Of His Climate Policy

Tweeting from balmy Florida:

Right. So the takeaway being global warming (if it existed) would be a good thing?

Never mind the fact that the UN-affiliated World Meteorological Organization says 2017 is already almost certainly one of the hottest 3 years for the planet on record. And a few days of bone-chilling cold isn’t going to disprove or negate that. We’ve linked to its preliminary 2017 report, released last month.


We feel like Trump’s Tweet also serves a 2nd purpose: He is also thumbing his nose at those not privileged enough to travel to a Florida resort whenever they feel like it.

And yes, this week in much of the country (except Florida and parts of California), it is really cold, and it’s likely to stay that way.


Here’s a cute little graphic you can share, courtesy of the National Weather Service, demonstrating how to dress for extremely low temperatures.


To top that off, there’s snow coming Friday and Saturday for much of the Midwest and East.




Trump Also Tweets About North Korea, And In This Case He Might Be Onto Something…


A leading South Korean newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, saying U.S. Military satellites spotted Chinese vessels doing ship-to-ship oil transfers to North Korean tankers. (Trump says he found out about it from Fox). That would be in violation of international sanctions. The Korean newspaper also published these photographs of an alleged illegal oil trade. And it says there have been more than 2 dozen such transfers in the last 3 months.


Trump didn’t mention any retaliatory action against North Korea or China. CNN reports this morning South Korea has seized a Hong Kong registered ship that’s purportedly involved.

China’s response? A flat denial, with no further explanation. A spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry saying today: “The situation…absolutely does not exist“.

Question is, if North Korea is buying oil from China, where’s it getting the cash to pay for it? We’ve suggested seafood is one of the easiest ways to skirt international sanctions and keep hard currency flowing (and it’s a lot easier to secretly offload a shipment of crustaceans than oil), but that’s pure speculation on our part.



Democrat Doug Jones Certified As Alabama’s Senator-Elect, He’ll Be Sworn In January 3rd

Jones’ margin of victory in the final, official tally was even slightly bigger than on election night: nearly 22,000 votes. That means enough voters chose him over Republican Roy Moore to fill a good-size arena. Jones, and Democrats, now hold the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General. And late yesterday, Jones launched his Senate website.


Moore, a professional rabble-rouser and accused molester of underage and teenage girls, had charged massive voter fraud in a last minute lawsuit aimed at blocking certification and triggering a new special election. (The New York Times says Moore has never conceded any election he’s ever lost.)


Loser of Alabama Senate Race, Republican Roy Moore. We hope we won’t have to show his photo again for a very long time…


A state Circuit Court judge quickly dismissed Moore’s complaint, saying he did not have the jurisdiction to rule on it. (Moore could bring his case to the Senate, but that’s not likely). Alabama’s Secretary of State, John Merrill, said his office has so far investigated nearly 90 allegations of voter fraud and found all of them without merit.

Shortly after, Alabama’s Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General certified the election.

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) Alabama certifies Doug Jones’ election to the US Senate


Even though this type of thing would normally be too routine to even bother covering, in this case it’s really important, both as a practical matter, and as a symbol that Democracy is still alive and well.



In Unscheduled New York Times Interview, Trump Says “I Called It” In Alabama, And  Blames “Very, Very Ineffective” Democrats For Residents Of High Tax States Losing Their Deductions

Thing is, Trump did predict Roy Moore would be more beatable than the man the President backed in the Republican primary, Luther Strange. While campaigning for Strange in Alabama, Trump said Moore stood “a very good chance of not winning a general election”. But then again, as soon as Strange lost, Trump deleted his Tweets in support of him, and Tweeted this instead:

So maybe, just maybe he doesn’t deserve full credit for having “called it”. Also, why did he waste time actively campaigning for someone he knew was going to lose?

What we found most interesting in the Times interview is Trump’s placing the blame for drastic cuts to State And Local Tax (or SALT) Deductions that are part of the new tax law on Democrats from high tax states. Trump laments the lack of “powerful people” from his home state of New York (which is of course represented by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer). Trump saying if Democrats had come to him  “we could have worked something out bipartisan. And that could’ve been either a change to SALT or knockout of SALT”.

Trump also tells the Times one of the main reasons he will win reelection in 2020 is the media needs him around to stay in business. “Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win“.

Trump, as is typical, took a chunk of the interview to relive his victory over Hillary Clinton.

Trump also says he expects to be treated fairly by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The bigger problem being Mueller’s investigation “makes the country look very bad”.




Since This May Be The Last Year Millions Of People Can Easily Deduct Charitable Contributions, Be Sure To Double-Check They’re Actually Deductible…

The key? Look for 501(c)(3). Most organizations you donate to should display that IRS designation for “charitable organization” if you want to be sure your donation is tax deductible.

We covered why the new tax law is likely to impact charitable donations a couple of times already. But we figured as the end of the year nears, we’d briefly discuss how to donate if you are accelerating your giving this year as a result. And that’s simple: if you want a tax deduction, you generally must donate to a charity that’s been qualified by the IRS, and you must make the donation by December 31st. (If you use a credit card, it’s OK if you pay the card later, but the donation has to be made this year). Here’s how the IRS defines it:

  • Qualified charities. Check that the charity is eligible. Only donations to eligible organizations are tax-deductible. Select Check, a searchable online tool available on IRS.gov, lists most organizations that are eligible to receive deductible contributions. In addition, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are eligible to receive deductible donations. That is true even if they are not listed in the tool’s database.
  • Year-end gifts. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2014 count for 2014, even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2015. Also, checks count for 2014 as long as they are mailed in 2014.


Now for the tricky part: the IRS says a charitable organizationmay not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates“.

And this creates an important distinction to look out for:

For instance, if you sign up to be a bona-fide “card carrying member” of the ACLU, you won’t be able to deduct that, even though the ACLU operates as a non-profit, tax-exempt social welfare organization. Because that part of the ACLU is a 501(c)(4) organization, which is allowed to lobby and engage in some political activities. It can collect donations, but they are not tax deductible.

But you can make a tax deductible donation to the ACLU Foundation, which funds litigation and public outreach. That’s because it is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

The ACLU is pretty transparent about this, and explains the distinction clearly. As are the many other organizations that are set up in pretty much the same way, such as the Sierra Club (if you want the tax deduction, you need to make sure your donation is going to the Sierra Club Foundation).

Please note: we are not endorsing the ACLU or Sierra Club Foundation, or any other charity. Or advising you not to make non-deductible donations. We just picked them because they are examples we have used in the past.



The Chaos Report Will Take Next Monday And Tuesday Off (Weather Permitting)

Happy New Year! Thanks for sticking with us this year! See you next year!