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Updated: 2016-12-02T20:23:36Z

 



Elaine Chao – Unshackle America’s Shovels!

2016-12-02T20:23:36Z

George Will makes a good point in a National Review article on infrastructure spending. The money needs to be spent precisely in those areas where the regional economy is doing well. You get far more multiplier effects – hard not to sound Keynesian when talking infrastructure spending – when you upgrade bridges, ports, airports, and […]

George Will makes a good point in a National Review article on infrastructure spending. The money needs to be spent precisely in those areas where the regional economy is doing well. You get far more multiplier effects – hard not to sound Keynesian when talking infrastructure spending – when you upgrade bridges, ports, airports, and roads precisely in those areas where they are straining to keep up with the traffic. Boom town areas. Not areas where there is little economic activity. Where tax and regulatory reform might be better at attracting investment and jobs.

Will also makes this point: aside from being intelligent about where to spend the money – always hard to do when each member of Congress wants as much spending as possible in their district, regardless of whether the local economy really needs it – that the regulatory process in 21st century America is an overwhelming burden. You’d think with improvements in construction technology that it would be far quicker to build things in today’s world than 70 or 80 years ago. Forget about it. The regulatory process is endless and an army of stakeholders is waiting to derail, or delay, or detour, any major project that comes under consideration and reaches the active planning stage.

In other words, what Washington needs is to drain the stakeholder swamp, and then you can build that dam a heck of a lot quicker. Just in case it does rain in the future and the swamp fills up again. This will take someone with both a tough disposition and an ability to work with Congress. Elaine Chao – you have, not a battle on your hands, but rather a multi-year war, with just about every entrenched interest in America lining up to stop you or to change your course. Yes, a little pillow talk with your husband, who happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, will help – and surely has helped in years past and years present – but you will be in the spotlight like never before.

She just might be up for the challenge, but it may be best to keep expectations cautiously optimistic at best. If Elaine Chao can reform the approval process for large projects – in as much as a Cabinet Secretary can influence local rules, aside from whatever changes she can push for at the federal level – that would be a major step forward. Because until the burden of a crushing regulatory process is lifted, no project will ever truly be shovel-ready in America.




L’affair Romney: Did Kellyanne Conway Underestimate Trump?

2016-11-30T23:00:05Z

It would be silly to speculate on the menu, but one can’t help but wonder about the details of Trump and Romney’s private dinner – on Tuesday evening – with their wives accompanying them. Will it be a formal if intimate setting, with aides just out of earshot? Like a dinner between two heads of […]

It would be silly to speculate on the menu, but one can’t help but wonder about the details of Trump and Romney’s private dinner – on Tuesday evening – with their wives accompanying them. Will it be a formal if intimate setting, with aides just out of earshot? Like a dinner between two heads of state perhaps. Or will it be more informal with lots of time for serious talk on how Romney sees America’s role in the world, and how he senses his possible role as Secretary of State would play out in a Trump administration?

The ongoing battle within the Trump camp over this still-surprising rapprochement spilled out into the big wide open this weekend with Kellyanne Conway going public (or rogue according to those unpleased with the ferocity of her attacks) with her harsh criticisms of Romney. And of Trump, by implication. She practically accused Trump of betraying his loyal base of supporters by even considering Mitt Romney for the position. And looking fabulous, she posed for pictures down in the lobby of Trump Tower a day later. One wonders if she actually had an appointment with the folks upstairs. Trump’s answer to all this – including Gingrich’s criticism – was a private dinner with Mitt along with their wives.

As well, the media speculation is that Trump is perhaps letting Romney dangle and die from a thousand cuts. Keep your enemy close until he stops breathing; or something like that.

What if Trump is serious? What if he actually feels that Romney would make a good Secretary of State? Let’s remember something about the President Elect. He might be bombastic, theatrical, and volatile at times. But he is tough. And determined. What he has achieved was not believed possible by anyone, perhaps at times not even himself. But as Byron York stated clearly in a article a short while ago, he never gave up. In the face of the most negative media campaign against a presidential candidate in perhaps the last century or so.

To support his focus, Trump has chosen wisely. Jared Kushner is now recognized as the wonder kid who put together a game-changing data operation with near real-time feedback to guide the campaign in it’s final weeks. What was Trump doing in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin fer goodness sake? We all asked. He was winning the election, helped by Jared’s genius. And it was Trump that pulled Kushner into his campaign and brought out the best in his son-in-law.

Mike Pence turned out to be a great pick for Trump at VP, and has been recognized as such. And yes, Kellyanne Conway helped steer his campaign through some of its most difficult moments. Perhaps she is right about Romney. Or perhaps her time with Trump is winding down and Romney will indeed be the next Secretary of State. Perhaps Conway made the fatal mistake of thinking she could somehow pressure Trump. She should know: you underestimate Trump at your own peril.




Cuba and America – Before and After Castro

2016-11-29T21:16:25Z

In all the articles and editorials commenting on Fidel Castro’s death and his unfortunate legacy with regard to Cuba, precious little has been written about the island’s history before, well before, Castro rode a battered truck into Havana in early 1959. Cuba did not suddenly become a problem, previously unimagined and ignored, when Castro and […]In all the articles and editorials commenting on Fidel Castro’s death and his unfortunate legacy with regard to Cuba, precious little has been written about the island’s history before, well before, Castro rode a battered truck into Havana in early 1959. Cuba did not suddenly become a problem, previously unimagined and ignored, when Castro and Ernesto Guevara and their crazed communist cadre of scruffy revolutionaries toppled the Batista regime. Cuba has been in America’s imagination and her history for almost as long as America has been a republic. Consider: a plot to invade Cuba hatched in New Orleans with American mercenaries and angry Cubans. And the promise of economic payoffs should they dismantle the burdensome state apparatus of tariffs and controls. A determined Cuban- Venezuelan who despised the island’s regime tried to enlist American military expertise to lead his expedition. The Cuban-Venezuelan? Narciso Lopez, a veteran of the wars of independence. The American experts? Jefferson Davis and Colonel Robert E. Lee. The year? 1849. Davis passed the request on to Lee, who wisely rejected participating in the expedition. Veterans of the American Mexican war had apparently signed up. But President Taylor scuttled the expedition, concerned about violating neutrality laws. You think the Bay of Pigs was an improvised out-of-the-blue idea quickly cobbled together by military and intelligence and Cuban exiles who were determined to stop the emerging communist regime in Cuba? It was one more chapter in a long, colorful, and sometimes violent history. One soaked in intrigue as well. Lopez was a wealthy planter, and a frustrated member of what were called the annexationists: Cuban planters who saw a bright future for Cuba as an addition to America. One that would fit with the Southern plantation economy. Yes, slavery was at the heart of their system, and their vision of Cuba’s future within America. Cuba might have been purchased, might have been fought for with the support of part of Cuba’s elite. It did not happen, as much from constant changes in American foreign policy as from resistance from Spain – an impoverished, faded, ghost of an empire by this point. You think Castro was just an idiotic showman when he booked a hotel room in Harlem in the early 60’s? Yes he was a showman, yes he could be a dangerous idiot, and a cunning traitor (just ask, if you could, Ochoa: executed for carrying out Castro’s orders in running the drug trade in Cuba). But Castro was playing media theatrics with the issue of race in America. And how it relates to Cuba’s history. He played America. He played Cuba. He played Europe and the Third World. And it worked. Tragically for Cuba, especially Afro-Cubans who were – and are – often at the lower end of the economic scale. Which is saying something in a failed economy like Cuba’s. So don’t expect a final, closing chapter in Cuba, now that Fidel is dead. Raul Catro is handing off a communist regime to the next generation of communist bureaucrats and military power brokers on the island. And it is likely this next cadre of Caribbean apartchiks would love to imitate the Chinese model: firm political control and state-run capitalism. With lots of goodies for communist party members. In other words, an economically successful version of what Cuba already has been for a long time. That’s a doubtful outcome, but not impossible. Whether the communists are able to keep their grip on power depends on how ruthless the Cuban military wish to be. And how President-Elect Trump is able to re-apply pressure[...]



Progressives in Angry Denial

2016-11-25T20:16:00Z

Was the Turkey well-dressed? As in all that delicious, chopped and diced and spiced stuff that gets stuffed inside the ceased-to-be, expired, late fowl that can provide leftovers for nearly a week. Because if you thought that now America could – in the spirit of that thanksgiving that has been the nation’s legacy and lodestone […]

Was the Turkey well-dressed? As in all that delicious, chopped and diced and spiced stuff that gets stuffed inside the ceased-to-be, expired, late fowl that can provide leftovers for nearly a week. Because if you thought that now America could – in the spirit of that thanksgiving that has been the nation’s legacy and lodestone for almost as long as it has been a nation – get down to the business of transition, think again.

Yes, Trump is moving ahead with his cabinet and doing so in a remarkably ordered and brisk fashion. But you’d never know if you read the headlines. Or even worse, actually read the articles. The progressive and liberal elites, and their msm spokespeople/storytellers went from shock and anger in the immediate aftermath of the election, straight to … angry protest. And active opposition on multiple fronts. For example:

Jill Stein has apparently raised about 5 million dollars to fund a recount effort in Wisconsin, Michigan, and of course, Pennsylvania. The electoral tampering charges have proven to be false. So now she is spearheading an effort to move to a recounting of every vote. In the hope that maybe the good citizens of those three states were careless in their handling of their electoral duties. Like Hillary was with classified material.

And over in the House, ranking Democrat E. E. Cummings has already lodged several requests for investigations that he wants to GOP Congress to undertake. For example, Cummings has demanded that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Vice President-Elect Pence turn over any documents relating to Jared Kushner’s security clearance. And E.E. is just getting warmed up. There’s also requests for investigations into shadowy Russian connections and Trump’s far-flung business interests and how they could present conflict of interests.

Over at U.S. News and World Report, Robert Schlesinger is in full-on raging mode, denouncing what he angrily calls a Faustian bargain between Congressional Republicans and Trump’s so-called “horror show” team. This is someone who is enraged that the American voter did not produce the result he deemed appropriate. Lots of hissing and spitting about the popular vote, not just in relation to Hillary, but also in relation to the Senate. Schlesinger would re-write the constitution to ensure popular vote predominates at every electoral level. He would by executive order or any other means ensure that their creed – Demographics is Destiny – is willed into electoral existence. No. Check that. Furious Progressives like Robert Schlesinger and Jill Stein and E.E. Cummings are furious because they can’t re-write the constitution. Because to them the constitution is merely a living document that has to be continually updated until every last word of wisdom forged by the old white males who gave the 13 colonies an enduring and flourishing form of government, has been written out of existence.




Will President Trump Get to Keep His Business Empire?

2016-11-23T22:50:12Z

Have you considered the emoluments clause of the constitution lately? Because it seems that those worried about, or angry about, Trump’s business interests are now fixated on this obscure corner of America’s supreme law. While experts argue over whether it even applies to the office of the president, it does provide ammunition for opposing legislators, […]

Have you considered the emoluments clause of the constitution lately? Because it seems that those worried about, or angry about, Trump’s business interests are now fixated on this obscure corner of America’s supreme law. While experts argue over whether it even applies to the office of the president, it does provide ammunition for opposing legislators, and potentially even members of the GOP, to argue that President-Elect Trump should liquidate his business holdings and place the proceeds in a blind trust. Blind as in no Ivanka, Eric, or Donald Jr. running things.

The President-Elect has a different view of the matter, based on the legal advice he has received, and feels he can still be owner of his business empire even as he becomes America’s 45th President. How he would achieve an arm’s length relationship in that case remains to be seen.

To know who’s legally right, you would seem to need to mount a legal challenge that ends up in the Supreme Court. But does, for example, a competitor company have legal standing to sue the Trump enterprises due to the undue influence and favor the Trump group of companies could receive with Trump swearing the oath in about 50 days? Ask the experts, seems to be the answer, an answer that no one really has at this point.

The reason that the emoluments clause may have teeth in this matter is the far-flung nature of the President-Elect’s business empire. From Russia to India, to South America, and elsewhere, he has real estate holdings or other ventures. And in the very Trump Tower he has ICBC – the enormous Chinese mega-state-bank – as a tenant. Does rent or profit his companies receive from foreign companies, governments, or institutions count as emoluments? It does seem to be the case. Again, ask the legal and accounting experts. Who are still trying to figure it out.

Politically, this will be an albatross weighing on the new administration. And even assuming Trump decides to somehow liquidate his holdings and place the proceeds in a blind trust, the act of doing so would be a multi-year process involving jurisdictions around the world. Either way, Democrats and other opponents of Trump’s newly elected administration would have field day picking apart the details. Or even demanding – should he not divest – that Congress begin an impeachment process. This course of action was recommended in the NYT article by none other than Bush 43’s former ethics counselor, Richard Painter.

One suspects that Trump feels he has a legal basis, as President-Elect and soon to be President of America, to hold onto to his business empire. That means battling opponents in Congress and the beltway establishment and the media over potential conflicts of interest. This is not a good way to begin draining the swamp, but we are in unchartered territory. And Trump’s battles over his relationship to his business holdings will define a new set of precedents. One way or another.




The Shareef at Justice Don’t Like It

2016-11-23T03:40:37Z

Quite a few years ago now, in the middle of Reagan’s first term with a recession hanging over the economy, there was a band that came out with a protest song. The kind of song that would have got them shamed and denounced and possibly even paying a fine. Had they written and performed their […]

Quite a few years ago now, in the middle of Reagan’s first term with a recession hanging over the economy, there was a band that came out with a protest song. The kind of song that would have got them shamed and denounced and possibly even paying a fine. Had they written and performed their song under the reign of Obama’s Justice Department.

Yes, we’re talking about The Clash’s Rock the Casbah, and that old, rather deceased, white male, (may he rest in peace), Joe Strummer and the rest of his bandmates. Because with radicals in Justice like Vanita Gupta – Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division – the band would have been promptly slapped with a restraining order and fined, for having discriminated against Muslims around the world. And certainly would have been pilloried everywhere from Vox to CNBC. Not to mention by fellow Brit John Oliver. Who surely boogied to the song in his younger more innocent days. Ok, seeing he was 5 when the song came out, maybe not. But his left-leaning parents surely did.

So please do not be surprised that The Department of Justice, led by Assistant AG Gupta, have slapped a 10K fine on the Denver Sheriff Department, for having the brazenly incorrect manners to actually require that an applicant for the position of Sheriff in the State of Colorado, be an American citizen. What were they thinking? Don’t they understand this administration’s immigration policy?

Apparently, the Sheriff’s Department in Denver violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. And they now will be forced to go back through their applications to find anyone who is not an American citizen and re-consider them for the position. They will also have to go through training to make sure they are in compliance with the Act’s anti-discrimination provisions. As Gupta herself said this is to:

… help ensure that the Denver Sheriff’s Department hires the best and most qualified individuals to protect and serve.
__
And if the Denver Sheriff’s Department dares reject an application, for example, from a young Muslim male who recently arrived to America as a refugee, they will surely be named and shamed and fined. This is what happens when you place radicals in key positions in Justice. Gupta cut her teeth in the ACLU, and it was her division that sued North Carolina’s so-called transgender bathroom law. She is an advocate of “constitutional policing” which handicaps police forces around the country by practically requiring an ACLU lawyer to ride shotgun with them when they respond to a call.

Obama knew perfectly well who he was getting when he appointed Gupta to her current job back in 2014. This result was inevitable with people like her at Justice. And this sort of crazed entrenched radicalism at Justice is why Jeff Sessions confirmation will be contested by almost any trick the Democrats and their progressive allies can find. The administration and it’s radical bureaucrats are terrified that Sessions would actually restore balance to Justice. With Deputy AG’s like Gupta, one can only hope and pray that Congress will duly confirm Sessions in the coming months. Let us hope.

And no. The Shareef at Justice, she don’t like it.




Earmarks: Congress Wants to Dam the Swamp

2016-11-18T19:40:10Z

Speaker Ryan, heeding voter anger, postponed a vote – a secret ballot – in the House of Representatives on earmarks. And yes, he used the phrase “drain the swamp” when he managed to convince his colleagues to at least hold off on the vote. But that didn’t stop Florida’s Tom Rooney – one of the […]

Speaker Ryan, heeding voter anger, postponed a vote – a secret ballot – in the House of Representatives on earmarks. And yes, he used the phrase “drain the swamp” when he managed to convince his colleagues to at least hold off on the vote. But that didn’t stop Florida’s Tom Rooney – one of the 3 sponsors of the proposal – to let people know what this vote was about.

The Army Corps of Engineers. Or Corps of Engineers, for those on the righteous side of the sandbanks, dams, and newly-designated swampland on your aunt’s 80 acres of farmland. Tom Rooney is sick of being ignored by the CoE. Who respond to a chain of command that ends up in the White House. Not Congress. And Tom Rooney would like to get a dam built on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. Yes, the huge inland lake that sits at the heart of Florida’s Everglades and demarcates the western border of the 17th congressional district that Rooney represents.

In the 1920’s the Army Corps of Engineers built dikes around Lake Okeechobee, after devastating flooding in the wake of two hurricanes. More devastating flooding occurred in the late 40’s. These were the latest in a long string of projects, including canals, meant to … drain the swamp and create agricultural land – mostly sugar – in South Central Florida. Sometime in the 70’s, resistance grew and by 2000 legislation has been in place to restore the Everglades to its former glory. If you are environmentally inclined that is, and regard swampland with a propensity to flood as glorious. As a libertarian eco-activist might say: South Florida wants to be a swamp.

Not on my watch, says Tom Rooney. You see, to get the Corps of Engineers to built that dam that his constituents apparently want, he claims he needs earmarks. Earmarks targeted at the Army Corps of Engineers. These earmarks would have the USACE directly responding to Congressional spending authority. Because right now, you have to go through the Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works), run by Jo-Ellen Darcy, an Obama appointee who has lengthy experience in land and water management, including a stint in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. One suspects she doesn’t eagerly answer her phone when Tom Rooney tries to call her.

So who decides how wet South Central Florida should be? The President and his hand-picked appointees? Or Congress? It’s a fascinating battle, but one cannot help but feel that the law of unintended consequences will inevitably apply if Congress even brings back a more limited, and transparent version of earmarks. And then expands earmarks, just a touch. And just a touch more. This battle is not over.




Earmarks and the Secret House Vote

2016-11-18T19:41:07Z

The bridge to nowhere would have been splendid. Hundreds of millions of dollars to build an enormous bridge to a tiny island off Alaska’s coast. Where, thankfully, a ferry instead continues to provide good service at a very reasonable cost. Because the infamous bridge to nowhere did not get built. Not yet at least. But […]

The bridge to nowhere would have been splendid. Hundreds of millions of dollars to build an enormous bridge to a tiny island off Alaska’s coast. Where, thankfully, a ferry instead continues to provide good service at a very reasonable cost. Because the infamous bridge to nowhere did not get built. Not yet at least. But this is what earmarks get you. Cozy, corrupt relations between beltway lobbyists, members of Congress, local politicians, and favored contractors. That’s the whole point of earmarks.

And now 3 GOP members of Congress want to start peeling back the restrictions on earmarks that have been in place since 2010. John Culberson of Texas’ 7th congressional district. Mike Rogers of Alabama’s 3rd congressional district. And Tom Rooney, of Florida’s 17th district. The vote is secret and conservative GOP members of the House are trying to make sure the nays win.

Do these three, and others who will vote in favor of easing restrictions and allowing earmarks to return to the floor of the House – not to mention the Senate – even care about the recent election? Do they even care about voter anger at beltway politicking?

There’s another name worth remembering: Jason Grumet, President and founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center, or BPC. He has recently written in the Washington Post in favor of earmarks as a way to entice members of Congress to vote the tough issues. As well, the BPC like to hold what they call Bridge-Builder-Breakfasts. There’s nothing like the promise of targeted pork spending to bring people across party lines to sit down for a little coffee and deal making. And the Bipartisan Policy Center is dedicated to “principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation, and respectful dialogue.”

Did they hold a Bridge-Builder-Breakfast with Alaska’s Ted Stevens and chat about his bridge to nowhere? What does reasoned negotiations mean? You block my earmark and I will vote against every bill you or anyone in either party bring to the floor until I die of a heart attack or get voted out? And perhaps respectful dialogue is code for: how dare you talk to the media before you clear it with me!

That’s the thing. If people like Jason Grumet get their way, and earmarks are brought back to get the logs rolling again on Capitol Hill, then the tough votes tend not to get taken. They often don’t even make it to the floor. But there’s also another implication. Infrastructure spending will likely be a big budget item in the coming years. Lots of it. And how all that money is allocated will depend in part on how this secret House vote goes. If earmarks are slowly allowed back on the floor of the House, then Trump’s presidency won’t be about draining the swamp. It will be about building an enormous and expensive bridge over the swamp.




Sanctuary Cities and the Constitution

2016-11-16T00:07:54Z

Apparently there are over 30 so-called sanctuary cities in America, where police forces are instructed to refuse to ascertain the legal status of anyone they detain whom they might otherwise suspect to be an illegal immigrant. It started in 1979 in Los Angeles with an internal police department policy. Now the current chief of police […]Apparently there are over 30 so-called sanctuary cities in America, where police forces are instructed to refuse to ascertain the legal status of anyone they detain whom they might otherwise suspect to be an illegal immigrant. It started in 1979 in Los Angeles with an internal police department policy. Now the current chief of police of LAPD, Charlie Beck, has proudly stated he will be upholding this decades old policy, and so the LAPD will continue to refuse to cooperate with the ICE when they arrest someone suspected of being in the country illegally. LA mayor Garcetti practically encouraged political violence if on the first day of the Trump presidency “we see something that is hostile to our people … we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out.” Unadulterated tribalism, and secession from the rule of law. San Francisco – it goes without saying – has announced similar sorts of things. As has Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Trump’s home town of New York. Surely there are a few more sanctuary cities that will aggressively confront President Trump, even on his first day in office. Or at least state that that is their intention. That is a problem with state rights, and by extension, local rights. You can’t be sure what any given state or city will do with greater autonomy. So are sanctuary cities within their rights to be defying the rule of law? Specifically immigration law in America? If they are, then immigration law is no longer a national prerogative. It becomes a state right, not a federal one. One can hardly imagine that federal immigration authorities will agree to this. And it goes without saying that Trump will certainly be willing and eager to take on sanctuary cities. But are the funding penalties, taking away federal funds from defiant sanctuary cities, the only route available to President-elect Trump? Ultimately this should end up in the courts. Although at it’s most basic level, it is about the fundamental structure of America itself. Because if sanctuary cities increase in number and aggressively defy current immigration law, then the law no longer applies in major urban centers around the country. And federal law on immigration is no longer an effective reality. So that, de facto, you no longer have a unified republic, but rather large swaths of America surrounding city-states. We’re already moving in that direction, and this election can be seen as an angry rebellion against the emergence of privileged, wealthy city states on either coast. Because once you have sanctuary cities in terms of immigration policy, why not in terms of drug policy, of abortion rights and health care policy, and on and on. Oh. It sort of is that way already. And yes, the 10th amendment – in its clarity, brevity, and breadth – does allow for much of this, at least at the state level, if not the municipal level. But if the 50 states are to continue to be united in a free flow of people, ideas, and capital, then immigration rightly should be, and is, a federal power. One doubts that sanctuary cities actually want to mount a legal challenge to federal immigration law. In other words, they are essentially, de facto, engaging in rule-breaking by executive order. Except it’s the head of local police departments, or the mayor’s office, that are the executive. Not the Obama White House. And if every mayor’s office and police department did what they saw fit regardless of what the law says, the[...]



Three Speeches in Ten Hours

2016-11-09T21:40:58Z

There were three key speeches in the past 10 hours. First Trump’s speech was honestly and graciously inclusive in a way that surprised many. There was no gloating, and only some celebration, mostly in recognizing the movement he has led, and those who worked hard to help his astonishing victory take place. Including a big […]

There were three key speeches in the past 10 hours. First Trump’s speech was honestly and graciously inclusive in a way that surprised many. There was no gloating, and only some celebration, mostly in recognizing the movement he has led, and those who worked hard to help his astonishing victory take place. Including a big shout out to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman who has had a very interesting and supremely tough year as head of a party that is still facing deep divisions. And it was considerate and respectful of Hillary Clinton as a major political figure, paying tribute to her service to America.

This is astonishing if you think back only a few days ago, or a few weeks ago. But it did not seem false, it felt genuine and displayed an honest generosity. Trump knows full well he’s been in a bare knuckle brawl with his opponent. She ran a very negative campaign that focused on Trump’s past transgressions, while Trump essentially painted her as a corrupt icon of the status quo. How could he mean it, when he praised her service to the country? Because he understands the importance of a peaceful transition. Whether he would have been as gracious had he lost, is now irrelevant.

This Wednesday morning, Clinton then gave her speech, and revealed both emotion and toughness. It was perhaps her best speech of the campaign, which is a tragic irony all of itself. Suddenly, in that speech, Clinton seemed more trustworthy than she has this whole election cycle. As to what her future will be, that will play out in the months ahead. But she nor Bill are now no longer among the leadership of the Democratic Party.

That is Obama’s role, precisely the man who has presided over the electoral destruction of his own party. A very long way from the control of both houses of Congress and the White House, that they obtained in 2008. Obama’s speech came a short while after Clinton’s. It was professorial and affable. The rejection of his agenda that this loss implies was buried under carefully inclusive language. His defining of what America is about – especially through it’s unbroken peaceful transition of power – seemed a way to try and rescue what he now fears may be lost. It seemed more a lecture than a speech, even as it played the notes of unity and purpose at the root of American Democracy. Obama’s legacy will have plenty of time to be judged. This was perhaps a moment for a more focused set of words.




Swooning Markets and America’s Voters

2016-11-07T23:47:04Z

Markets discount what’s to come. People put their mouths, or fingers to the keyboard, in support of where their money is. And there is nothing like the threat of losing money – or making money, although the fear of losing money is apparently more powerful as a motivator for us frail human beings – to […]

Markets discount what’s to come. People put their mouths, or fingers to the keyboard, in support of where their money is. And there is nothing like the threat of losing money – or making money, although the fear of losing money is apparently more powerful as a motivator for us frail human beings – to focus the mind, and force a decision. Given the information you have available.

The S&P has been down for about 3 months now. And there has been a 9-day consecutive losing streak for the index as of Friday November 3rd. That means a lack of optimism on the economy. And even the possibility of a recession. But it is also a clear indication of nervousness on Wall Street over a the very real possibility of a Trump victory.

Why? You would think Wall Street would welcome Trump’s promised tax reforms – lowering corporate and income tax rates – as well as his promise to cut regulations and support conventional energy production. It seems, however, that the compliance daemons who work and plan their corporations routes through the mazes of regulations and taxes are not happy. Could it be that big finance fears reform? Yes, fear of uncertainty is the standard answer for the political element to the market swoon, and there is something to that. But Trump has been for more granular on his economic policy proposals than he has on his foreign policy proposals, for example. Why such fear of his presidency? Especially when economically, most of his policies are business friendly.

Oh yes. Trade. And perhaps a drying up of international flows of capital as a result of showdowns with China or even Europe over trade rules. To say nothing of NAFTA. Trump threatens to re-write the rules on trade, and just the threat of that – regardless of how much he could do, or would even want to do, as Chief Executive – is also enough to worry markets.

And is it also that Wall Street – as in the movers and shakers who live and work in NYC and surrounding areas – know and dislike Trump? Is it also personal on a scale we haven’t seen before – especially for a pro-business GOP candidate? That seems a little petty perhaps. They are all about the money, after all. But what is undeniable is that Hillary has courted Wall Street shamelessly. As a candidate, and previously as a Senator. And through her and Bill’s web of charitable companies, as a Secretary of State. The compliance class, whether at an investment bank or at the EPA, consider Hillary their ally and friend.

All this may have something to do with the swooning markets. But in the end, markets are about the money and the economy. And it seems that the markets have had enough of Obama’s slow-growth, high-tax, big-regulation economy. Markets are predicting a significant downturn in the economy. And something over 85% of the time that that has happened, the incumbent party has lost the general election.

So maybe markets are indeed nervous about a Trump presidency. But they’re also sick and tired of Obama. And Hillary is essentially a promise to double down on Obama’s high-tax, big-regulation economy. Markets have had enough. Have voters?




Has America Given Up on the Future?

2016-11-04T19:58:16Z

America has had a baby boomer in the White House since January 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn in. And now America is about to get another baby boomer – whether Hillary or Trump – when the swearing in takes place next inauguration day, Friday, January 20, 2017. Unless an Electoral College tie forces a […]America has had a baby boomer in the White House since January 1993, when Bill Clinton was sworn in. And now America is about to get another baby boomer – whether Hillary or Trump – when the swearing in takes place next inauguration day, Friday, January 20, 2017. Unless an Electoral College tie forces a House vote with a surprise choice, one that makes it past any legal challenges. Before a 4-4 Supreme Court. As aging boomers are wont to do, their focus has been mostly about preserving the status quo in Hillary’s case, or returning to an America the very same boomers grew up in in Trump’s case. One that afforded them unimagined opportunities, or at the very least, a reasonably stable work environment. Even for high school graduates. In a recent article, Michael Brendan Dougherty claims very convincingly that America has given up on the future. It seems a strange thing to say in a world of technological disruption and global trade deals, but there is something very real and unsettling in what he postulates. For example: Our politics have ceded the future to the markets and Silicon Valley. The question of social organization, presumably, has been mostly solved by the wonks … The global elite is converging on economic integration, low trade barriers, universal benefits, light regulation, and the cultivation of a global class of politicians and plutocrats who socialize and groom each other and their children for continued benevolent rule. In other words, the shenanigans at the Clinton group of charities is business as usual for them and they only regret that hacked emails and stubborn FBI investigators – and idiotic separated-husband-failed-mayoral-candidate-schlemiels as well – are to blame for these minor ethical matters coming to the public’s attention. And while Dougherty’s attacks on Trump are understandable – he’s appealing to a time we can’t get back – there is something Dougherty does not say about Trump which nonetheless flows directly from the quote above. Although Trump does come from the economic elites, he does not fit easily or well with the typical model of a Davos Man or Woman. And he is the one candidate willing to take the elites on, precisely because he understands them. And they him of course. Bloomberg’s attack on Trump at the Democratic convention last summer was exactly the response you’d expect from someone angry that a candidate is not in line with the established global order. And they have piled on to Trump, helped mightily by Trump’s joyful disregard of politically correct discourse. So Trump can claim outsider status and postulate himself as the agent of change. At least, that is Trump’s great promise to his supporters. It’s what Gingrich praised in him in his final and defiantly ringing endorsement of Trump in the media late this week. Never mind that Trump’s children fit perfectly in Dougherty’s quote about the wealthy grooming their children for power – it’s no surprise that is the one thing Hillary, when forced to do so in the debates, praised in Trump: his children. Trump himself is seen by his supporters as the last possible agent of change. That is likely wrong. But if Trump actually wins, we are about to find out how much change he is willing to enact. And how much he is able to enact with America’s separation of powers inevitably present[...]



What’s a Little Bias When Your Future As a Hack Is in Play?

2016-11-03T18:59:07Z

It’s not just that Alicia Machado – the Venezuelan ex-beauty queen with a suspicious and possibly violent past – was dragged out on stage, again, as a warm up act for Hillary’s full frontal assault on Trump’s machismo. No, the media also dutifully repeat the highlights of Machado’s speech, just to make sure the voting […]

It’s not just that Alicia Machado – the Venezuelan ex-beauty queen with a suspicious and possibly violent past – was dragged out on stage, again, as a warm up act for Hillary’s full frontal assault on Trump’s machismo. No, the media also dutifully repeat the highlights of Machado’s speech, just to make sure the voting public is fully informed of the issues. The grim full court press, by the press, enters the last half of the fourth quarter, with all of society’s estates seemingly lined up to make sure that the unthinkable – a Trump victory – remains just that.

Every group that Trump may have offended in the last year, or much further back in the case of some of the women who have spoken out in the last several weeks, will have their wounds salted and their anger built up to a boil by a hard series of negative ads running in the media in these final days. Unless of course, they’ve already voted. Or are a little tired of these exhausting primaries and general election. And don’t vote in the numbers needed to ensure Hillary gets the victory that her greedy grasp of identity politics demands she should get.

And Nate Silver – no fan of Trump’s – has a post out today (Wednesday) that basically tells Trump supporters that Hillary still has 70% odds to win. Unless polls tighten further, in which case bets are off. But Nate Silver’s message seems to be: calm down all you Trumpkins, you’re almost certainly going to lose, and you’re engaging in cognitive dissonance, along with anyone in the press foolish enough to speculate on a Trump victory.

Maybe. But if enough further tightening happens, then a reasonable margin of error could hand Trump a victory. Will there then be a tough self-examination by the press? A hard honest look at their own cognitive dissonance? Or misguided polling methodologies?

Not likely. For several reasons. One, the world will of course soon end if Trump is elected, so they will have to write doomsday headlines before Western Civilization makes like dinosaurs. And in case the world doesn’t end as a result of an unexpected Trump victory, there will be a GOP civil war to cover. Something the press is already salivating over.

There has never been – at least in recent modern history – such a coordinated, and shared bias in the media against a presidential candidate. They surely feel they are right to feel this way, from the right to the left wings of the media. And they have no shame in doing their best to sink Trump. Plus the fear of being on a Hillary spread sheet of periodistas-non-grata is an awesome motivator. Like in some of America’s Latin American neighbors. So what’s a little bias when your future as a Hillary White House hack is in question?




Both Reid and Trump Undermine Faith in the Electoral Process

2016-11-01T23:37:19Z

How can voters be expected to show faith in the political institutions of America when those who run these very same institutions are partisan to such an extent that any outcome that is not to their partisan advantage is immediately dismissed as unfair? Or even illegal? If we don’t win, it must be rigged. While […]How can voters be expected to show faith in the political institutions of America when those who run these very same institutions are partisan to such an extent that any outcome that is not to their partisan advantage is immediately dismissed as unfair? Or even illegal? If we don’t win, it must be rigged. While Trump’s stubborn reluctance to concede any possible election loss and his persistent claims of a rigged process clearly erodes trust, Harry Reid’s threat to prosecute FBI Director Comey under the Hatch Act is as bad if not worse an example. In both cases, they only agree to the rules of the game if they win. If not, they find a way to denounce the game as rigged. Or worse, to prosecute someone who does not provide their desired outcome, in Harry Reid’s case. And not just anyone. The Director of the FBI. In Trump’s case he does have a point that a large chunk of the media clearly covers events in a way that hammers him while granting Hillary’s campaign with the benefit of the doubt far more frequently. But to leap from the evidence of media bias to a conclusion that the actual electoral system is rigged is a stretch that not only discourages turnout (a possible tactic) but also degrades America’s democratic institutions. The problem is that Trump is merely following cultural trends. The politics is – as the saying goes – downstream from an already cynical culture. One that, for example, includes many voters still viewing Bush 43’s victory in 2000 as a stolen election. That they happen to be Democrat voters is an inconvenient fact to those Democrats now denouncing Trump’s cynical take on this year’s electoral process. And well before the 2000 election, conspiracy theories abounded – especially on the left – on everything from assassinations to alien abductions. Including conspiracy theories on the origins of AIDS and the crack cocaine epidemic of the 80’s. Of course, elections have sometimes been stolen. The 1960 election almost certainly involved shenanigans in Chicago that ensured that JFK would win. And Nixon himself is said to have accepted the apparent vote-swindle in order not to degrade people’s faith in American democracy. And to ensure he could survive with enough political capital to eventually make a comeback. Which he certainly did. And perhaps jaded by the bruising events of the early 60’s he had no problems engaging in his own dirty tactics in the early 70’s, which led to Watergate. America has not been the same since. Despite Reagan’s optimism, an optimism which had to constantly battle it’s way past a hostile media to reach voters. As Tom Pepinsky writes in a recent blog post, all parties in a democratic system have to agree to disagree by the rules, regardless of which party is in power. If not, the peaceful transition of power becomes a suspicion-laden partisan power struggle. And the system itself becomes unsustainable and must, in the longer run, bend or break. Bending during the Civil Rights movement, breaking during the Civil War. Reconstruction can hopefully follow a break in the democratic order, but again, rules have to be agreed on by winners and by the losers. Are Trump and Reid merely bluntly voicing what many voters already feel? Merely expressing the will of their supporters? Or do they have a respo[...]



Hillary’s Server Scandal Reaches Critical Mass

2016-10-29T16:10:40Z

You thought the storm had passed, and that your ship was sailing into safe harbor, well before the bitter winds of winter would make the seas unnavigable. But you were only in the eye of the hurricane, you misguided power seeker. And now you must reap the whirlwind, and its bitter, bracing gusts of unpleasantness. […]

You thought the storm had passed, and that your ship was sailing into safe harbor, well before the bitter winds of winter would make the seas unnavigable. But you were only in the eye of the hurricane, you misguided power seeker. And now you must reap the whirlwind, and its bitter, bracing gusts of unpleasantness. The factions rage around you: those you promised impossible things to, and those you ignored. Your power is at risk. Your future is suddenly dark.

But hey, maybe Jim Comey will somehow escape with his political skin only bruised and scratched. And not flayed to the very bone.

Pity the towering FBI Director. He has had to choose between two unenviable outcomes: you methodically go through the emails on Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin’s devices and let the election unfold. And then earn the wrath of much of Congress, and the public, and certainly GOP legislators and critics, by announcing that the Hillary email investigation has been re-opened. With a (likely) elected president possibly under criminal investigation. Or you announce 11 days before the election and earn the wrath of much of Congress, the public, and Democrat legislators and critics. And oh, yes. The media.

When Geraldo Rivera rips into Comey and calls his announcement a disgrace on prime time television, then it is clear that Comey has inserted himself firmly into the electoral process. Something he was loath to do in the hazy days of summer. And something which carries far more political weight in these final 10 or so days before November 8th.

We will see if this event has a significant effect on the polls. It may very well. But even if Hillary somehow does manage to get elected – a still very real possibility – she will enter the White House shackled to the skeletons in her private server and in the Clinton Foundation and in her lengthy political career. There won’t just not be a honeymoon. There will be an impending divorce – from her office through possible GOP impeachment efforts; depending on what exactly the emails on Huma and Weiner’s devices reveal.

Who will be sacrificed to keep the Clinton pay-to-play Ship of State afloat? Hillary herself, in the terse press conference Friday night adopted the tone of how-dare-he? As in Comey. And Abedin and Weiner? Will Huma have to resign or withdraw or move to another job outside the Clinton orbit? Or will she be dragged into the inquiry as a defendant and not just a witness?

And Anthony Weiner … Jonah Goldberg’s deadly accurate joke to Brit Hume on Fox says it all. If this had been on the Republican side the headlines would have been about a criminal coverup featuring a pedophile. Instead of the awkward but measured tone of most of mainstream media. At least so far. What hellish exile is Hillary wishing upon her close aide and friend’s soon-to-be ex?

The server scandal has now reached critical mass. There is no stopping it. If the new emails are ambiguous and don’t reveal enough to prosecute, Comey goes down in flames. If they do, Hillary Clinton may face criminal charges. And Huma Abedin life – already uncomfortable – becomes even more hellish. Weiner, hopefully, will get what he deserves. What a mess.




Are the Pollsters Right This Time?

2016-10-29T16:08:46Z

Given that the media is – mostly – in a full court press to ensure that voters do not make the apparent mistake of voting for Donald Trump, is it any surprise that polls are viewed skeptically? Especially given the wide divergence between different polls – or pollsters’ methodology to be more accurate – this […]

Given that the media is – mostly – in a full court press to ensure that voters do not make the apparent mistake of voting for Donald Trump, is it any surprise that polls are viewed skeptically? Especially given the wide divergence between different polls – or pollsters’ methodology to be more accurate – this late in the race. But are those skeptics – who tend to be Trump supporters – right?

There’s two main reasons why Trump could pull off a very unexpected upset on November 8th. The methodology of some pollsters is wrong. Or, people are lying.

Last Friday, 3 polls showed Trump leading slightly. The pollsters involved are:

LA Times: who get an A- rating from fivethirtyeight and have accurately predicted results 86% of the time.

Rasmussen: who get a C+ and have a 79% accuracy rating.

IBD/TIPP: who get an A- and have a 76% accuracy rating.

As you can see, one’s accuracy and one’s grade are not necessarily correlated. And it would be quite a slog for most of us to go through all the granular detail behind Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight’s methodology for ranking the methodology of other pollsters. So the best one can do is say that these 3 polls are from respectable pollsters and while they may very well be outliers, they might instead reflect real voter preferences. We’ll find out.

Are people lying to pollsters? Why would they? From shame? Is there a hushed army of bashful Trump fans out there? Or are they lying to pollsters due to a deep suspicion of pollsters and mainstream media in general? Even if linking these two sections of the communications industry is not always quite accurate. Both these reasons might be prompting more than the usual amount of misleading responses on the part of respondents. Again, we’ll find out.

While the Brexit results were propelled by similar political concerns on the part of British voters, the polls in the UK were significantly closer than the Real Clear Politics average currently shows for the presidential race. So a Brexit surprise is a little tougher ask on this side of the Atlantic. To pull it off, Trump has to reel in independents as well as bring back those GOP voters who have been turned away by the recent scandals.

But if he somehow does win, or makes it much closer than most are expecting, then absent a dramatic shift in the polls over the next 12 or so days, it will mean that polling is in trouble. Dead? The end of the polling era as an Observer article proclaimed? Not likely. But a Trump near-victory would send pollsters scrambling to update their methodologies (and that means everything from how often they try to contact you to more wonky statistical adjustments). And if Trump wins somehow? Pollsters will be even less trusted than the media. And even worse: they will have a tougher time getting people to pay them for their work. Unlike the generally profitable mainstream media.




The Enemy in Your Kitchen

2016-10-26T18:40:03Z

Imagine you have a secret weapon in your home. One that you don’t even think of as a weapon. A vital oh-so-common household appliance that may have been weaponized. And is being used to launch denial of service or other internet attacks on key nodes of the world wide web. Or is even collecting data […]Imagine you have a secret weapon in your home. One that you don’t even think of as a weapon. A vital oh-so-common household appliance that may have been weaponized. And is being used to launch denial of service or other internet attacks on key nodes of the world wide web. Or is even collecting data on you. You know what it is? Your fridge. Or maybe your modem. Or maybe your webcam. Or your climate control system. Yes folks, the internet of things or IoT – as smart consumer devices are now called – are being easily hacked and marshalled towards rather un-benign ends by aggressive actors who wish to find devices that are easy to hijack. Like your fridge. Imagine your fridge being used to launch a denial of service attack – or perhaps another more aggressive attack – on the local power grid. So far, the attacks have been aimed at bringing down websites, but this is just starting. More and more malicious attempts will surely follow. Is this really necessary? Do you really need a smart fridge? Did anyone ask you personally if you had to have connectivity in just about every household appliance you can imagine? Did we they ask you if you’d like a world with tens of billions of smart devices? All inter-connected? No they didn’t, although they can surely point to marketing studies. But that’s not really what gets people sooo excited about the internet of things. What has them breathing hard and heavy is the impact of all these smart (or smarter to be more precise) devices on supply chain management. That fridge that someone hacked is being wired (or chipped if you will) to send information all down the supply chain – from the manufacturing, to the shipping to the warehousing and retail stages. People in a control room somewhere will (do!) even know if your smart big fridge overheated somewhere between a plant in Asia and your kitchen. That means there is no turning back. Too much money and intellectual capital have already been invested. And millennials surely don’t mind the cool new features that even a fridge can now have. It’s the future, and it means only one thing: You can no longer trust your fridge. A device made overseas is being hijacked – often by actors based overseas – to disrupt internet processes that might affect your life. And no, you can’t even work at the plant manufacturing those fridges, because more often than not, they’re also overseas. Apparently there are (and will increasingly be) ways to protect your consumer appliances. Can you imagine Norton IoT protection? It’s surely on it’s way. Sorry darling, I’m gonna be late to Joey’s party! I’ve got to update our fridge! __ So, in a time when American’s trust in their institutions – whether banks or government departments or legislatures or courts or universities or security and intelligence agencies and on and on – is at all-time lows. In a time when one’s trust in one’s fellow citizens is at an all time low. In a time when political discourse is hyper-partisan and no longer even pretends to be objective. In these times, you now have a new potential enemy that you must view with caution, and even have a protocol – or a good firewall – in place to deal with possibl[...]



Obamacare Is Collapsing – Would Ryan’s PCA Do Better?

2016-10-21T23:06:20Z

Obamacare – ok the Affordable Care Act, is that better? – is collapsing, state by state. Younger healthier potential enrollees are not enrolling. The incentives – how much premiums you pay and what kind of deductible you face and what kind of coverage you get – are making them choose to stay away and defer […]Obamacare – ok the Affordable Care Act, is that better? – is collapsing, state by state. Younger healthier potential enrollees are not enrolling. The incentives – how much premiums you pay and what kind of deductible you face and what kind of coverage you get – are making them choose to stay away and defer their choices. Perhaps you can construct a longer term economic model based on the expected costs of a health crisis with the likely percentages and the expected cost. And decide that they should enroll, just in case. But by many metrics, younger and healthier people are making a reasonably rational choice. As are sicker, older people who have rationally decided that Obamacare is a good deal for them. Those two subsets of health care consumers means that Obamacare is currently unsustainable without several things: Higher premiums Higher deductibles More bailouts/subsidies courtesy of you the taxpayer And even with all three of these responses factored in, many insurance companies are finding Obamacare unprofitable to say the least. That means that the next president will have to clean up the mess and either reform Obamacare or create a new health care plan. Hillary Clinton likely has plans all set up to effectively dump Obamacare through a vigorous reform program that preserves it only in name and broad outlines, all the while praising her former boss’s flawed plan. Of course Hillary’s reforms will certainly involve lots more regulations. But different regulations. By new agencies or renamed agencies, or re-configured government departments working for you, the health care consumer. Regardless of what state or county you live in. That will work out wonderfully won’t it? Thank goodness we have an alternative with Paul Ryan’s Patient Choice Act. Right?? Uhm. Have you actually looked into the PCA? Have you scanned the long-form summary, for example? Found at Ryan’s house.gov site? Here’s a few gems: If you are on SNAP (what used to be called Food Stamps) then forget about buying junk food with your SNAP card. That means you might have to fork over hard cash for that bag of Nachos that gets you through the weekend. You will be told what to buy with your SNAP card. Or the clerk will be told what you CAN’T buy. How? Who knows? Will there be brawls at convenience stores between clerks and SNAP card people? Seniors who adopt “healthier behaviors” will be rewarded with lower Medicare premiums. Makes sense, in terms of improving health outcomes. But it also adds another layer of paperwork for retired people and means the government is even more involved in your daily life, telling you in minute detail how to live. Of course you could live free … without Medicare. Not an option for many. The CDC would create a web-base prevention tool based on your private data: your health records, how fat you are (sorry! body mass index), your sordid family details (sorry! your family history) which will all go into an Orwellian little app-thingy that will tell you exactly how to eat, drink, sleep, have sex, exercise, and any other part of your personal life the CDC feels is relevant. There are some less invasive ideas in the PCA to be fair. Like reworking the tax code [...]



Will Voter Disgust Crush Ticket-Splitting?

2016-10-19T19:57:24Z

What is Guccifer 2.0 up to now? He’s claiming that Trump’s tax returns filed last May ended up “immediately” on DNC servers. And he’s claiming that the Democratic National Committee, in conjunction with media allies, is getting ready to release financial documents relating presumably to Trump’s tax returns. Just in time for the last debate? […]What is Guccifer 2.0 up to now? He’s claiming that Trump’s tax returns filed last May ended up “immediately” on DNC servers. And he’s claiming that the Democratic National Committee, in conjunction with media allies, is getting ready to release financial documents relating presumably to Trump’s tax returns. Just in time for the last debate? It’s hard to know exactly who Guccifer is really working for, but Russia would seem to be a logical suspect. Is Guccifer therefore trying to dilute the impact of any financial information on Trump that the Clinton campaign might be releasing? Or merely trying to create an alternative little scandal to turn the media – and half the world’s – attention away from the latest Trump sex scandal? The one that never seems to end. If Trump’s tax returns truly ended up immediately on DNC servers – a rather unlikely occurrence at best – then there can only be one conclusion that Guccifer is pointing us towards: it’s all rigged folks. His private tax details in possession of the IRS are merely opposition research for their allies in the DNC and in HRC’s campaign staff. Alex Jones, come on down! Hillary should use that in an ad. Oh … Meanwhile, with Trump filling the headlines with his claims that the elections are rigged, 54 GOP Senators got asked by The Hill if they agreed that the election is indeed rigged. Most chose to not even answer and a few (14 if you have to know) defended the integrity of the electoral process in America. And Jeff Sessions while agreeing that the media bias was a form of rigging the election, did not go so far as to suggest that the countless volunteers and local election officials would be willing, or even capable given how widespread and local the process is, of rigging the election. The way Trump has implied they might. Not only, as a GOP senator, do you have to worry about holding on to a senate majority, (a big worry in these final weeks), but you have to assure the media and voters that America’s electoral process is fair, and do so without provoking a backlash amongst Trump supporters. Whose votes you still need. So, for the GOP senators and even for the House, the question becomes: is Trump’s the-game-is-rigged final bazooka barrage going to crush ticket-splitting? Or are voters more sensible than that? The evidence until recently seemed to suggest that voters are more sensible, and that voting not-Trump at the top of the ticket while voting for your local senator or representative at the bottom of the ticket is a likely outcome for many. But if the last slugfest in Vegas drags the campaign even deeper into the mud, a growing number of disgusted voters might just stay away from the polls. Not in large enough numbers to somehow give Trump a victory, but certainly in large enough numbers to damage the prospects for some key senate races. In Indiana, in Missouri, in Nevada where Heck was recently heckled by Trump supporters. In Maine where Ayotte is being crucified for not distancing herself from Trump earlier. In North Carolina where Burr has dropped in the polls and risks losing in the face of [...]



Two Scandals and An Ugly Choice

2016-10-18T20:32:24Z

How good are you at cryptography? Can you describe how a brute force attack works? Without googling it or going to Wikipedia. How up to date are you on the government’s system of classifying information? A little shaky when it comes to these sorts of matters? Like the overwhelming majority of us? On the other […]

How good are you at cryptography? Can you describe how a brute force attack works? Without googling it or going to Wikipedia. How up to date are you on the government’s system of classifying information? A little shaky when it comes to these sorts of matters? Like the overwhelming majority of us?

On the other hand, how good are you at sitting in front of your TV, or tablet, or laptop, or smartphone; and gawking at a compromising video on Trump? Or a video of a possible victim of an unwanted sexual advance, telling her story to the voracious press? A little easier, right? A lot more moral clarity for most of us, right?

The thing is, the Clinton campaign has not even had to make the false argument that there is no moral equivalence between possibly compromising America’s most sensitive classified information – which a Secretary of State tends to have access to and tends to be a witness of – and boorish behavior with a member of the opposite sex. The unwanted advance story tells itself, echoing around the media over and over again.

While Hillary’s email server scandal seems to have entered the area of diminishing returns, as far as the voting public is concerned. Yes, there are still those who – rightfully, if you believe in the equality before the law of all government officials and employees – firmly believe that Hillary’s server scandal is one more example of her corrupt behavior. Behavior that, in the case of the server, would land almost any other government employee in jail. Or at the very least have them facing charges.

So when the FBI claims that attempts to hack Hillary’s server by what seems to have been Russian actors were unsuccessful, you have to know more than a little cryptography to agree with their assessment. And you have to do so, without the necessary evidence that would enable you to conclude that those Russian actors were unsuccessful. In Trump’s case, you just have to stare at someone in a video talking for a minute or two, and decide if she – or Donald Trump – is telling the truth. You could be right or wrong in either case. But forced to choose between puzzling over cryptography, or catching up on some scandalous gossip, most people would go for the gossip. Even if both events are potentially scandalous and both are quite likely illegal. But only one of them, potentially fatal for American interests. An ugly choice, any way you look at it.




Is Trump Now Burning Man?

2016-10-14T05:12:13Z

Yes, each new revelation (usually an older story) is part of a carefully timed media strategy to discredit Trump. Yes, the NYTimes and the folks at WaPo and at various mainstream media platforms despise Trump, and would love to see him lose badly come November. If even half of these accusations are correct, however, then […]Yes, each new revelation (usually an older story) is part of a carefully timed media strategy to discredit Trump. Yes, the NYTimes and the folks at WaPo and at various mainstream media platforms despise Trump, and would love to see him lose badly come November. If even half of these accusations are correct, however, then it doesn’t matter anymore how biased much of the media has been since Trump was nominated. Trump will lose because women voters – from evangelicals to pro-choice advocates of abortion – will make sure that he does. And this floating sex scandal will stay afloat for at least until the next debate. With the drip drip of further details. Like the hair raising comment about the young girl about to ride the escalator at Trump Towers. Think about it. Hillary’s campaign has decided – since at least the first debate – that she will not win this election, as the first female president of America. Nope. Donald Trump will lose this election, as the last male boor to postulate himself for the nation’s highest office. And that’s fine by HRC’s campaign team. She gets to measure the drapes, nominate justices, and sign legislation, whether she wins or Trump loses. But there is a lingering problem. Yes the glass ceiling will be shattered in what will be a symbolic and very real victory for women. And for Planned Parenthood. And for big government working closely with Wall Street. Lots more compliance-centered reams of regulations coming. Oh yes. But the outrage over Donald’s behavior on the part of many men may just be a touch hypocritical. If Trump is to be savaged publicly – and perhaps charged someday but who knows? – then how about Bill Clinton? How about Hollywood exec’s? How about accusations against the former GOP governor of California? Yes, Arnie himself. How about sleazy entertainment power brokers? Porn industry leaders? If the term leaders can possibly be applied to them. Or powerful bankers, or businessmen. Athletics? And on and on … down to the local creep in your workplace lunchroom. In times when a University of Tennessee student is being publicly lynched because he unwittingly wrote the name (Sarah Jackson a very common name) of an apparent porn star in response to a rather bizarre quiz the students had to take. In times when everything is partisan, and privacy is a quaint commodity that is fast disappearing, (no better sign of that than the slew of legislation devoted to protecting privacy). In times when debate between genuinely opposing viewpoints is either a shouting match or deadly silence. In these times, Trump is not some bizarre creature from the depths of Manhattan. Trump is of us. A part of us. A bigger, more narcissistic and wealthier, part of us. Trump, in fact, is turning out to be the perfect scapegoat. And not just for the elites who under Hillary will retain their influence and power, and wealth. But also a scapegoat for our own incivility. He should have been the flawed bearer of an angry revolt against those elites. Instead, Trump is now Burning Man. And his going down in flames is giving many of the wrong people too many flawed reasons to da[...]



The GOP Civil War and the Women of Masada

2016-10-12T22:54:28Z

The end of days are upon us. Sound a little too dramatic? Not if you’re a conservative Republican like David French, who recently wrote in the National Review that Christians can only really pray and repent as Trump’s campaign descends into a civil war with his own party. Crisis can mean “a turning” in the […]The end of days are upon us. Sound a little too dramatic? Not if you’re a conservative Republican like David French, who recently wrote in the National Review that Christians can only really pray and repent as Trump’s campaign descends into a civil war with his own party. Crisis can mean “a turning” in the original Greek, and to truly learn from the implosion going on in the final weeks of the GOP’s 2016 campaign, the truth has to be acknowledged. According to French. Evangelicals are even dividing along gender after the Trump video release last Friday; with female leaders openly denouncing Trump’s recorded comments, while (some) male leaders remain grimly silent. The RNC is divided among Trump supporters furious with Ryan for cutting local campaigns loose, and NeverTrump’ers furious with Ryan for not having done so earlier. Ryan is being attacked from all sides, in other words, including Steve Bannon. Who apparently is out to destroy the affable Speaker of the House. Not to mention Trump himself. But there’s a problem with this moral hurricane swamping the Republican party: Trump’s lewdness – whether predatory or simply boastful is beside the point – is covering over a simple key fact. The real divide is ideological. Not moral. Yes, Trump is unskilled in hiding his scandals. Unlike JFK or FDR, to name two titans in the hallowed halls of former presidents. As a fallen man himself, the splendidly bombastic Conrad Black in an article for NR, lists some of the rather lewd actions and words of past presidents. Including JFK, an intern, an aide, and a swimming pool. You can read the article to fill in the details. The problem with Trump is his style, his needless boasting, his publicity seeking. That is not an excuse for any possible sexual assault he may have committed. But how many among the powerful political elites – Democrat and Republican – can claim innocence in this matter? We no longer allow a discrete media to look beyond a president’s sins. If Trump is to be cast out for that video – and it sure looks like he will – how many more should join him in the wilderness? How many powerful politicians should face charges for unwanted advances that meet the definition of sexual assault? How many will? Because this method of extreme opp research will not go away. It will be used, over and over. But beyond the moral hypocrisy, there is the ideological divide. It’s about the money more than the sex. With his populist economic policies and hard line on immigration, Trump is a threat to the Washington DC establishment. GOP members have many of them been more afraid of a Trump victory than a loss. But they now realize they may have handed Hillary a landslide victory, and given away the Senate. And maybe, just maybe, the House. And no one in Washington likes giving up power. So things have gotten really nasty, because of the money. The morals – the character issue – are a convenient reason to rage against Trump without being unseemly. How do we know about Masada? Because of 2 women who hid with 5 children in the undergrou[...]



St. Louis – We Are Divided; All of Us

2016-10-11T21:31:30Z

Right after the debate, on Fox News, Megyn Kelly’s hand was cupped like an eagle’s talons as she rhetorically pushed back against Laura Ingraham’s downplaying of Trump’s 2005 video. Kelly was referring to Trumps comments about grabbing women, and she was being uncomfortably explicit with her quick but unmistakable gesture, even as her words were […]Right after the debate, on Fox News, Megyn Kelly’s hand was cupped like an eagle’s talons as she rhetorically pushed back against Laura Ingraham’s downplaying of Trump’s 2005 video. Kelly was referring to Trumps comments about grabbing women, and she was being uncomfortably explicit with her quick but unmistakable gesture, even as her words were as crisp as a prosecuting attorney, gliding in for the kill. Sitting next to her, her co-host Brett Baier seemed a touch surprised at the gesture. Megyn Kelly made her point. Clearly. What does a conservative woman do right now? And in November? As Hillary’s campaign team run ads featuring long-time Republican voters who will not be voting for Trump and who – on balance – feel Hillary Clinton is a more reliable choice to be President of the United States, the choices are all sub-optimal if you are a conservative woman. Perhaps a working mother who worries about her daughter’s future. Of course, many conservatives – regardless of gender – feel that their choices are sub-optimal. Do not vote. Vote for Hillary. Vote for Gary Johnson. But maybe Trump’s crassness is not the most important issue. Writing in the Federalist, Margot Anderson – in sharp contrast to others like her colleague Lumma Simms who insists it is conservative women’s moral obligation to oppose Trump – suggests that it is Hillary’s whole hearted support of abortion that is the much greater moral outrage. If we can be offended to a raging lather by the incivility of Trump, where is the public anger – beyond those who have continually fought to protect and preserve life – at abortion rights? It is the triumph of identity politics over the politics of life. This is a fundamental debate and neither side can be taken with anything but serious attention and respect. That is why the terrible crime of rape is one where many of those who support pro-life policies, make an agonized exception. One side of this debate, like Simms, would say that is the lack of values – the moral dissolution to put in archaic but still valid language – is what leads to incivility. And can lead to rape. The other side says that the worst crime is that which is committed against the most defenseless, while acknowledging the profound evil of rape. Of course conservative women have this debate in a world where rape is reduced to the social components of male power. Rather than seen purely as an evil springing from a lack of values, it is a reflection of the power structures in the world. And this view embraces a wide range of offenses: from violent assault on women to someone mansplaining his way to a micro-aggression. All white males are rapists, the radicals furiously chant. Reducing what should be an exceptional and terrible crime to a politically correct absurdity. And breeding false accusations in places like college campuses. Where real rape is a real problem. One is a fifth or sixth generation version of marxist liberation theory. One is a condemnation of incivility th[...]



The Gang of 30 Unleashes on Trump

2016-10-07T17:08:47Z

Why wait until Friday if you want to be noticed? So a group of 30 GOP former legislators added their names to the NeverTrump universe in an open letter to their fellow Republicans. Trump is neither temperamentally nor intellectually fit to be president seems to be their opinion. The list of qualities of character they […]Why wait until Friday if you want to be noticed? So a group of 30 GOP former legislators added their names to the NeverTrump universe in an open letter to their fellow Republicans. Trump is neither temperamentally nor intellectually fit to be president seems to be their opinion. The list of qualities of character they feel Trump comes up short on is in fact, a list of 7 deadly virtues: competence; intelligence; knowledge; understanding; empathy; judgement; and in case you missed their drift, temperament. 7 virtues without which America would be neither safe nor steady under a Trump presidency. Deadly, therefore, in their absolute necessity in any conservative candidate worthy of their consideration. So if this informal politburo of GOP veterans is to be believed, then Trump is: incompetent, dumb, unknowledgeable, cognitively challenged (doesn’t dumb cover that?); unable to feel others’ pain; unable to exercise good judgement, and beset by political distemper, a deadly illness in Washington DC. Please, tell us how you really feel. Are they pillars of the GOP establishment? Or what remains of it’s formerly impressive edifice? There are recognizable names, and all have been fairly prominent legislators. Mid-level retired soldiers of the Republican legislative army. Their open letter has been timed, naturally, to cause maximum damage to Trump’s campaign and to poison his chances of recovering some ground in Sunday’s 2nd presidential debate. So it will take up the next day or maybe two in the media. And hopefully, in these former legislators’ plan, work its way into the debate on Sunday, where Hillary’s team is already thinking up folksy, gosh-will-ya-look-at-that, ways to thrust it’s contents in Trump’s face, and delight in his response. Does Jim Leach – one of the more recognizable members of the Gang of 30 – matter to voters anymore? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t matter to voters, as long as he can ruin Trump’s Sunday night. But there is the question of why they waited so long. Clearly if they feel Trump’s statements and behavior during the primaries and in the general campaign were so alarming that they threaten America itself, as their open letter suggests, why wait until a few weeks before election night? Do they feel that they can do more damage to Trump now, than perhaps a month or two ago? Has this been in the works for some time now? This election has been astonishingly unique, to put in civil terms. And the fact that you have everyone from the far left media to conservative former legislators from his own party attacking Trump, means either he is truly unfit, or perhaps the rebellion he has harnessed, and yes manipulated, threatens more than just a few narrow special interests. Hillary managed to kill off the rebellion on the Democratic side. Trump literally lives off the rebellion on the Republican side. And that to almost everyone in the beltway, is truly unacceptable. To take seriously the unwashed anger at the political establishment in America is a deadly sin in their eyes[...]



David Brooks Buries the Soiled Unlovelies

2016-10-06T19:41:20Z

Have you heard of the lovely society? No it’s not a quaint reference to salon life in the Belle Epoque or the Gilded Age. It’s a philosophical concept courtesy of the once-conservative David Brooks, writing in the NYTimes. Roll up your sleeves fellow citizens and do your part. If you are to be part of […]

Have you heard of the lovely society? No it’s not a quaint reference to salon life in the Belle Epoque or the Gilded Age. It’s a philosophical concept courtesy of the once-conservative David Brooks, writing in the NYTimes. Roll up your sleeves fellow citizens and do your part. If you are to be part of the lovelies.

You see, apparently we all have a choice: to be a lovely or not to be a lovely. To be a lovely is to give. To your employer, to your neighborhood (exactly how remains unclear: by buying groceries? by fighting for subsidized rentals so property values decline?), and especially by giving to the government.

You give to the government. The government gives to you.

While this axiom of socially correct behavior inspires a few easy jokes about what the government gives to you and how they give it to you, Brooks’ new socialism is coached in strange, warm and fuzzy language. There is a sweet reverence for all the gifts that have been handed down over the nearly two and a half centuries since America was founded. There is the warm glow of patriotism. (Does David Brooks now call himself a patriot?) A common shared beauty that is the reward for being a lovely. Or is it a lovelite? Is David Brooks the Jane Austen of the New Socialism?

And if you actively seek to legally minimize the taxes you pay, you are of course, an unlovely. And unloved, and soiled even. This is satire right?

No, it’s another attack on Trump and his bragging about using the very legal method of carrying forward tax losses. And an attack on anyone who questions the economic logic of people like Tim Kaine, for example, declaring that tax cuts caused the great recession. And above all, it is merely David Brooks humbly doing his part for the lovely society. There are some nice little quotes – worthy perhaps of a little book? Brooks’ Little Rainbow Book? To wit:

  • In a lovely society everyone practices a kind of social hygiene.
  • In a lovely society everyone feels privilege but the rich feel a special privilege.
  • Public citizenship is the path to personal growth.

Not apparently the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In fact, lowering your taxes and advocating for limited government leads away from happiness, according to the lovely society. So while there is a professed sweet reverence for the founders, Brooks comes to bury them. Or at least to try and bury Trump and throw a little dirt on anyone who wishes to lessen the burden of taxes in their lives. And live a little more freely.




Don’t Trust Hillary? Just Look at Trump’s Returns!

2016-10-04T00:23:29Z

The full court press is on. Even if the NBA doesn’t officially start until the 25th, we have the H team hard at work tossing the Tax Trump Story from one pair of eager hands, ready to draw blood at the keyboard, to another. Like an under appreciated point guard, the NYT’s Susanne Craig felt […]The full court press is on. Even if the NBA doesn’t officially start until the 25th, we have the H team hard at work tossing the Tax Trump Story from one pair of eager hands, ready to draw blood at the keyboard, to another. Like an under appreciated point guard, the NYT’s Susanne Craig felt her heart famously skip a beat when she saw the old-fashioned manila envelope in her mailbox on a Friday night in late September. A real honest to goodness mailbox. She had a strange intuition her hunt for Trump’s Tax Returns (TTR) was about to bear fruit. She took off the wrapper and swiftly passed the TTR to her colleague Barstow, and then brought in more NYT staff and the battle plan was laid, as they swiftly passed the TTR around as tax experts yelled instructions from courtside. Last Saturday, they unleashed their volley, and are still eager to tell the story behind the story. Even as the rest of the media runs and runs with the actual story. Because there are so many angles to cover, it’s true. Never mind that nothing Trump and his advisors seems to have done in preparing his 95 tax returns is illegal. Politically it’s a disaster precisely because Trump refused to release them for so long. The ability to carry forward tax losses to future years (and backwards for a couple of years as well) is now liberated from the world of accounting and tax law, and can roam free in the hearts of frustrated millennials around America. Are you a Bernie supporter who can’t quite trust Hillary? Just look at Trump’s Tax Returns!! Are you a Trump-suspicious moderate Republican voter? Look at Trump’s Tax Returns!! Hillary herself was rubbing it in on Monday, shouting out how Trump abuses his power and games the system. Games the system. Get it? Games. Casinos in Atlantic City. Bankruptcy proceedings. Impoverished tiling sub-contractors weeping at the kitchen table while their wives (or husbands) put a pot of coffee on the stove and try to console them. It all fits so neatly and brings us … closer together. How can you possibly not trust Hillary? Look at Trump’s Tax Returns!! Even in the middle of Watergate – the real one some 40+ years ago – the media didn’t quite display such a profound dislike of Nixon the way they are now, with regard to Trump, in these final weeks of the 2016 campaign. From the halls of Hollywood to the shores of Long Island, they will fight the Democrat’s battles. By taxes, by beauty contestants, by shameless baiting of someone only to glad to take the bait. Once again. From the New York A.G.’s office putting the kibosh on the Trump Foundation’s ability to fundraise (you didn’t do the paperwork! Ha Ha), to Alec Baldwin doing a pretty good imitation of Trump on a SNL sketch that basically redid the debate, just in case you missed it. Closer Together. In step. This is why you get ahead of a story like this. Especially since it has been a story for most of the year, if not longer. Just ask Mitt Romney. Too late now. The full court press is on. And the fi[...]



Remember to Go Through Maloney

2016-09-30T22:28:44Z

Just around the time Mary Tyler Moore – make that Mary Richards of course – was moving to Minneapolis, a young college grad from North Carolina moved to NYC and became a teacher. The year Jimmy Carter was elected, she married a banker, having lived through the city’s financial near-collapse. And when the Mary Tyler […]Just around the time Mary Tyler Moore – make that Mary Richards of course – was moving to Minneapolis, a young college grad from North Carolina moved to NYC and became a teacher. The year Jimmy Carter was elected, she married a banker, having lived through the city’s financial near-collapse. And when the Mary Tyler Moore Show ended it’s glorious run in 1977, Carolyn Maloney entered local politics in the city she had adopted as her home. But make no mistake, Carolyn Maloney is no Mary Tyler Moore. She’s a tireless tigress of a legislator who is at the intersection of every major progressive political trend to have surfaced in America over the last generation or so. Including finance. Big finance. And she’s one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest boosters, especially in the House, where she also fights for every last billion of public funds for her constituents. The American Enterprise Institute has just released a report on Chinese investment in America over the last 8 years. You can download the spreadsheet and scroll down the numerous investments – many in the billion dollar range – and you will notice a name that keeps coming up, usually with a large sum next to the details of what company or sector the Chinese invested in. You betcha. Carolyn Maloney. Yes, it’s true. Her district is NYC’s 12th. Which includes the lower East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. And has a per capita income around 75K. A little higher than Kentucky’s 5th congressional district in Lee County. For example. So it’s logical that some big deals get done in Maloney’s district. How big? According to the spreadsheet, 18.54 billion dollars worth. Chinese money, that is. Not total deals. Just Chinese money. Maybe Carolyn Maloney could work with Kentucky’s Hal Rogers and scare up some Chinese investment in coal. Which the Chinese burn a lot of in their homeland. But that won’t happen of course. Not yet at least. Not with Hillary in a still-undecided race with the man who Kentucky’s 5th district will likely be voting for. Not with Obama still in the White House. But it’s not completely out of the question for someone like Maloney. You see, she is the personification of intersectionality in action. Not as a haranguing professor browbeating students in a seminar at Oberlin College. But rather as a legislator who has been everywhere: from the 9/11 Commission Caucus to the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, to Credit Card Legislation, to even helping getting the long-delayed Second-Avenue Subway built. She is ranked as one of the most prolific legislators on the hill. Carolyn Maloney is the Compliance Dame. Everything is interconnected. There is therefore a legislative solution for every problem, imagined or real, objective or felt. You want to drill offshore? Go through Maloney’s Minerals Management Service Improvement Act. You want to fight to maintain subsidies for sugar growers in America? Get Maloney to[...]



Does Trump Deserve the Volume?

2016-09-28T23:39:13Z

Panic in the campaign headquarters. Pressure on the candidate. Mainstream Media sounding the alarms. Yes, Hillary’s campaign has plenty to ponder according to the pundits. Is this the media finally turning a more critical eye on the Democratic nominee? Not really. It’s more like an outsourcing of a portion of her campaign strategy and tactics […]Panic in the campaign headquarters. Pressure on the candidate. Mainstream Media sounding the alarms. Yes, Hillary’s campaign has plenty to ponder according to the pundits. Is this the media finally turning a more critical eye on the Democratic nominee? Not really. It’s more like an outsourcing of a portion of her campaign strategy and tactics to those in the media who – having decided that the debates are history with Hillary the winner in all 3, ignoring the tiny detail that there are 2 debates still to come – now are helping her shore up any targeted vulnerabilities in her voter base. Call it tough love. Florida still is key. And like in 2000, there are a couple of problems in Florida for Hillary. She has to solve them to ensure she gets those 29 juicy electoral votes. Black voters are only 85% in her camp. A shameful shortcoming which has to be tackled head on. So her representatives and supporters in the Sunshine State – like Leslie Wimes and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert – are busy revealing to Politico just how bad things are and how much work has to be done. Here’s a couple of lines from the article: … she’s polling less than 85 percent among African-American voters in Florida, while Trump polls around 5 percent. __ It’s not just Clinton’s margins with black voters that concerns Democrats. Panic because Hillary’s not at Obama’s 95% mark with black voters in Florida. And then there’s the other problem. Like in 2000 and 1992, we have a third party candidate. We, in fact, have 2 third party candidates who are drawing away millennials from Hillary while barely impacting Trump’s numbers. So to ensure that the Johnson/Weld ticket doesn’t Nader (that’s a verb) Hillary’s election, The Hill helpfully has the most evil photograph of the silliest man in politics who is nothing if not affable and quirky. And the article helpfully lists the policy reasons why millennials will be forever guilty if they vote for Johnson or Stein. Maybe sent to a special place in Hell? We are in the final weeks, approaching the final 40 days, and the echo chamber is dialed up to 11 to do it’s patriotic duty: ensure that voters are informed of the issues – the ones that make them vote for Hillary. They successfully badgered and browbeat Lester Holt to ensure there was no repeat of Matt Lauer’s performance. And now they have turned their sound system straight at the voters. Those targeted voters who will make the difference in Hillary’s quest for 270 plus electoral votes. They are spinning up a storm as they toss out energy drinks to a reluctant and suspicious crowd of young voters. Slamming the needle, pumping up the volume. There has rarely if ever been a media storm so one sided in electoral history. And yes, there are more than a few pundits – both conservative as well as liberal – who feel Trump deserves the volume[...]



Trump Needs to Let Go of His Brand

2016-09-28T00:27:09Z

As the left, from Vox to Politico and from CNN to MSNBC, delight at what they see as Trump’s poor first debate performance, here’s an idea that Donald Trump could use to boost his next performance. Show that the presidency of the United States of America matters more to you than your brand. Because that’s […]As the left, from Vox to Politico and from CNN to MSNBC, delight at what they see as Trump’s poor first debate performance, here’s an idea that Donald Trump could use to boost his next performance. Show that the presidency of the United States of America matters more to you than your brand. Because that’s a problem. Not that it is only Donald Trump that has corporate interests that could conflict with his role as the next president of America. The Clinton Foundation mixes money and politics in a shamelessly seamless way. There is nothing shamed or seamed about Bill and Hillary Clinton. But it’s all beltway stuff with the Clintons. Some of it was paid for directly by the U.S. taxpayer, when Hillary received her salary as Senator and then Secretary of State, for example. Some of it was paid by book sales. Much of it was paid for by speaking fees, especially Bill Clinton, but Hillary as well. All of it was directly related to politics. Building their wealth by leveraging their political power in all sorts of ways as they rose through the state and federal political structure of America was the Clinton’s daily bread. Trump, on the other hand, has been a developer-turned-media-marketing-mogul. He built his brand the old-fashioned way, through bankruptcy and real estate bubbles and busts. And he survived and prospered – exactly by how much he prospered remains to be seen of course. And through it all, the one constant was building and rebuilding his brand. When he decided to enter politics, Trump had a choice. He could finance and support an existing politician whose views and policies he found engaging. Or he could enter himself. He did and despite the amused predictions of a colorful collapse, he survived. And he did more than survive. He won. He is now 2 debates and a slender few (at this point) percentage points from winning the White House. Did he really think he’d get this far? It has been suggested that he did not. But the energy and gusto with which he has taken on one challenge after another – whatever antipathy his methods have provoked in both parties – suggests he was in it to win from the start. And whether he really thought he could win it all in the June of 2015 has long been a moot point. Because he really could win it all now. To do that he needs to let go of his brand. Not his past. His brand. Yes, he needs to effectively point out how he understands job creation from the inside of a business. And not from a policy brief in an office in the White House or on the Hill. But he can never let Hillary bait him so easily by disparaging his brand and questioning how he built it. He has to work past that, if he can. Is he narcissistic? Pretty clearly, yes he can be. Perhaps he needs to be just a touch more of a sociopath. Able to disconnect and reconnect with whatever emotion is handy at any given moment. And do it on a dime, like Bill Clinton noticing the video camera at Ron Brown̵[...]



Obama’s Memo and Aleppo’s Weather

2016-09-23T20:09:46Z

You’re nearly as dumb as Gary Johnson, who apparently doesn’t need cannabis to go from affable to really weird at the drop of a hat. You know why you are? Because you don’t get Aleppo. Just like Gary, despite his protestations of: oh, yeah, got it. You don’t get it however. Here’s why. Aleppo is […]You’re nearly as dumb as Gary Johnson, who apparently doesn’t need cannabis to go from affable to really weird at the drop of a hat. You know why you are? Because you don’t get Aleppo. Just like Gary, despite his protestations of: oh, yeah, got it. You don’t get it however. Here’s why. Aleppo is hot, dry and in the middle of a hot, dry country. This what those who know tell us. And that is one of the main reasons why people are killing each other and why refugees have been streaming out of Syria and through Turkey and the Balkans and into the EU. There are other minor factors like a ruthless second-generation autocrat killing as many of his fellow Syrians as necessary to cling to power, but you have to keep the weather in mind, don’t you see? Praise be to Obama then for stroking his pen underneath yet another executive order – who needs Congress? – and pulling together 20 federal agencies of all sorts to ensure that climate change will be placed firmly at the table when the Chiefs of Staff and intelligence agencies analyze the world’s hot spots. A fortunate turn of phrase if you believe the EPA needs to be part of the provisioning of the men and women who risk their lives around the world for the sake of their country. So there it is: the Presidential Memorandum on Climate Change and National Security. Signed, sealed, but not really delivered. Not yet at least. But here’s the thing. Obama is not crazy. He is not a lone wolf acting on his peculiar vision that makes him hear voices in his head. Would that it would be so simple. But no. He is putting into action what an increasing percentage of the academic and even, yes, the intelligence communities actually believe. It’s a brave, dangerous and exciting new world. You can be a lover of emissions-trading, vegan, environmental analyst. And guess what? There’s a job opening for you at the NSA. Not just the EPA. And that’s why Congress should have no place in this matter. They would actually strike committees and hold hearings and listen to evidence and debate loudly and publicly amongst themselves. With representatives of industry and science and environmental groups and other stakeholders having their say in front of the media’s prying presence. Both about the actual data on global warming, and on whether an added layer of bureaucracy with it’s own vested interests is the best way to forge national security. For America and for it’s allies. You don’t imagine China striking those sorts of committees, somehow. Or Russia. By the way, Aleppo has a cool steppe climate and sits on a plateau about twelve hundred feet above sea level. And yes, it’s relatively dry with winters having rare snowfalls. Snow. Falling. But only rarely of course. On Friday it had a high of 77 F and a low of 59. The bombs being dropped by Syrian and/or Russian jets, however, produce a great deal[...]