It’s Apple’s Turn To Make Trump Look Good

The Technology Giant Credits Law Slashing Corporate Taxes With Decision To Bring Back Billions In Funds It’d Stashed Overseas; Also Promises To Hire More Locally, And Build More Locally

Regardless of their perceived political affiliations, when it comes down to it, there are 3 things big corporations want from government above all else:

  1.  Low taxes
  2.  Low interest rates
  3.  Staying out of the way (reducing rules and restrictions)

That has a lot to with the parade of big names we’ve seen in the past several weeks announcing they’re opening new plants, giving out bonuses like candy, etc. Trump/Republicans’ new tax law is creating the business environment they want, and they’re now doing their part to ensure it stays that way by lining up behind the President, being good corporate citizens and making their employees just happy enough that they’ll fall in line too. As we’ve said before, that’s what capitalism is all about.

Apple’s move though may be the most significant we’ve seen so far, just because it was sitting on so much damn cash overseas: cash which many experts said would never again see the light of day in the U.S. no matter what. Apple will repatriate most of it: about $250-billion, paying $38-billion in tax.

We can be as cynical as we want about this, and point to all kinds of ulterior motives Apple might have, and how keeping all those funds in tax shelters in the Isle of Jersey was hurting its corporate image.

But face it: it does make Trump and Republicans look good, and it is a credit to them. If this trend continues (and it may not) it could also become Republicans’ biggest selling point (and an effective one) going into this year’s Congressional elections, and beyond.

Apple is also giving its employees a $2500 one-time bonus.


Apple CEO Tim Cook




The Government Will Either Shut Down Tomorrow, Or It Won’t

We’re not trying to be flippant about this. There are just so many moving pieces that could line up in so many configurations, or not line up at all. Roll Call, talkingpointsmemo and Vox all offer good summaries of who’s putting what on the table (and who’s working behind the scenes to bolster or undermine everything).

It’s likely House Speaker Paul Ryan will bring the measure he’s been promoting to the floor today for a vote. That would be for a 4th stopgap spending bill that would also provide funding for a Children’s Health Program that is truly in peril, but would not address DACA and immigration at all.


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin


The White House is supporting a short-term measure to keep the government open. But not everyone in Congress is. Ultra Right-wingers in the so-called Freedom Caucus say they may split from the Speaker and pursue a hard-line immigration proposal of their own.



Kelly’s Admission That Trump Made Promises He Can’t Keep When It Comes To “The Wall” Should Come As No Surprise: Trump’s Been Saying The Same Thing Himself


Perhaps it was the stark way the Chief of Staff presented it to member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, saying Trump was not “fully informed” when promising a coast-to-coast border wall that Mexico would pay for during his campaign. Or perhaps it was because Kelly took the surprising and positive step of sitting down with a group of legislators he’s had vigorous disputes with since his days as Secretary of Homeland Security.


White House Chief of Staff John Kelly


But if you’ve listened to Trump carefully recently, he’s been saying the same thing. (In different words). For instance, if you’ve got a “violent river” you don’t need a wall. Or a mountain. He also says he’ll get the wall up in one year, and that’s why he wants it all funded in one lump sum.

This is the President just a couple of days ago. Watch by clicking on the photo:


Without referring to whether he was “fully informed” or not, Trump clarifies this morning in a series of Tweets.

As is often the case, Trump’s Tweets intended to clear up a point actually make things murkier: does that indicate he intends to scuttle NAFTA? (Talks to renegotiate are still underway.)  Or has “Mexico paying for the wall” come to mean less favorable NAFTA terms for our Southern neighbor?



How Unconcerned Is South Korea About North Korea?

The lead story in the South Korean media outlets we monitor daily, is about how “Ruby Chocolate” Kit-Kat bars are being introduced exclusively in South Korea and Japan. They’ll go on sale tomorrow. Apparently, the pink-hue is this type of chocolate’s natural color, and is expected to quickly turn into a fad in the two North Asian countries.


“Ruby” Kit-Kat, which for today is more important in South Korea than the conflict with North Korea



Without Much Fanfare, Trump, Or Really The Republican Party, Releases Its “Fake News Awards”

Although as of this morning, Trump has them pinned to the top of his Twitter feed.

Still, he/the party didn’t even bother putting their announcement into the format of an awards show at all. No categories. They didn’t even spring for a graphics artist to do a little mock-up of a statuette. (Or is Trump meant to be the statuette? This is the photo they distributed along with the release):



It’s really just a list of stories: some mistakes, some still-disputed. All that Trump’s complained long and hard about before.

While late night hosts treated the “awards” with derision and ridicule, which is correct, in some ways they’re no joke. This is yet another attempt at Trump to slowly erode 1st Amendment protections.

Every time we say that, we get email (sometimes even from writers on those shows) indicating they feel pretty secure about free speech and that our concerns are overblown: “Are you kidding? do you really think Trump can beat the 1st Amendment?”

Yes we do and here’s how:

  1. By getting “friends” to buy major media organizations, now that he’s ended restrictions on how many media properties a single person or company can buy in a particular market. That’s already happened.
  2. By going after media companies for reasons that appear to have nothing to do with the 1st Amendment.

That’s what’s happening now in the Philippines, where that country’s Democratically elected autocratic leader Rodrigo Duterte is revoking the license of the fastest growing and one of the biggest media outlets in the country. Rappler happens to be run by our friend, Maria Ressa.

Remember, the Philippines is a Democracy very much modeled on the U.S., with a Constitution that guarantees Freedom of the Press.

But Rappler is being shut down not for criticizing the government, but for violating foreign investment laws. It accepted a one-million dollar investment from a charitable foundation run by Pierre Omidyar, the U.S.-based philanthropist who founded eBay. Rappler says it followed allowed guidelines for foreign investment in media companies: Omidyar’s group holds no shares and has no control over day-to-day operations. It also says it informed the Philippine government of this arrangement years ago, and there was no problem until now.

Trump’s a big fan of Duterte, who’s made a name for himself mainly by forming and endorsing hit squads who go around killing purported drug addicts and dealers. So far more than 4,000 people have been shot dead in the streets. Rappler has been critical of this practice. Another news organization that had criticized Duterte is now safely in the hands of one of his close friends.

If this story is new to you, we refer you to this Pulitzer Prize winning photo essay from the New York Times.