Ted Steps Up

Posted September 25, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: Uncategorized, Politics, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Republican Party, Democratic Party, GOP, Ted Cruz, 2016 Presidential election, Donald Trump

Ted Cruz announced yesterday he would vote for Donald Trump. Hmmm.

One can ponder the motivation that engulfed Cruz and brought him to this endorsement. His words were that he could not support Hillary Clinton and (implied) he would hold his nose and endorse the Trump-ster. Trump said he was honored to receive this endorsement.

This comedy of the absurd is just another chapter in an extremely unconventional Presidential race. Ted Cruz is probably the most unqualified person, a step further than Trump himself, to become President. So for Cruz to say he was trying to save America from Hillary clinton is asking the listener to overlook Cruz’ fringe position.

Cruz is squarely his own best fan. Almost every move Cruz performs in public is for his own self aggrandizement. But then who cares. The evangelicals think Ted walks on water. The Tea Party-ers love his “government shut down” charades. And the “truth challenged” love Ted Cruz for who he is, “lie’n Ted”.

The Clinton camp should take note but not get exercised over this endorsement. Cruz is the darling of a very finite group. The un-obvious concern, however, is that Trump is consolidating the Republican (I won’t vote for Hillary) base, adding one more extreme faction.

Trump is the antithesis of Cruz’ evangelical supporters. Trump has a reserved place in Hell’s waiting line (should there be such a line). And with the Trump “give aways” he has promised voters so far (infrastructure spending, new child care support, and enormous tax cuts), he must have real conservatives and the Tea Party crowd apoplectic. How does Ted reconcile this “free lunch” spirit?

For the Trump campaign this endorsement must come as an expected (and welcomed) surprise. As long as Cruz keeps his mouth shut or reads from a teleprompter, Cruz support removes someone who might have lobbed a grenade in the closing days of the race.

But then, reading from a teleprompter seems good advice for the Donald too.

The Money Hunt

Posted September 23, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, campaign financing, congress, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, Economics, GOP, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

Here is a quandary. What does one do if a political party or candidate continually asks for money? For the sake of argument, one might actually support the party or candidate, but asking all the time is a bit much.

What if the opposite party or candidate represents all that is unacceptable? Is this reason enough to contribute to one party or candidate? Why is one contribution not enough?

In fact what does one do if one gives to one candidate and suddenly receives email requests from a half dozen other candidates from the same party? And, what if theses email request arrive several time a day from the same candidate?

There are two easy answers. (1) Send a small amount, and (2) ignore the request completely.

Soliciting money is an art form. Soliciting a lot of money separates the adults from the kids. For these money raisers, the issue seems to be “money”, not the candidate or what the candidate represents.  (Consider all the special causes, like hospitals, diseases, or groups like veterans who are proposed as reasons to give and subsequently we find less than half the money collected goes actually to that charity.  Hmmm.)

Political money solicitation is actually part of an extensive food chain. These bags of money fund a host of others who strategize, coordinate, plan, and execute campaign operations. This money fuels speech writing, TV advertisements, van drivers, office space, and campaign events. Campaign buttons, signage, wardrobe and make up artists, and even lunch runners, all feed off this same food chain.

In short, if you give more, the candidate or the campaign spends it. (In some cases, candidates stockpile excess money and use it later for themselves and to influence others.)

It appears clear, politics is now fought with dollar bills, not great ideas or sound policies.

When the dust is settled in November, news reports and full length magazine articles will turn up recounting the “billions” spent in 2016 for the alleged purpose of electing Congressional and Presidential candidates. The gist will be how much money was spent with so little insight into the next 4 years. Reports will probe where the money came from… like billionaire X, Y, or Z.

Reports are very unlikely to list who received the campaign spend, like TV station or network Q, R, or S. And most likely there will be no inventory of the usual suspects who acted as advisors, strategists, and field leaders, or what these individuals received in renumeration.

This modern political world is not about policy, not about ideology, and not about telling the truth. Rather, modern politics is about the next 4 year viability surrounding the generation of money.

As long as the major parties can generate huge sums of money whether they win or lose, who cares? Like Major League Baseball, a losing campaign which can still attract money can hire the best of the rest, in essence restocking their back stage team (not the candidates) in the run up to the next election. These political pros will sleep well knowing they have good paying jobs until the next election and can put their minds to doing what they do, this time for a new candidate.

So, back to the original question, what does one do about the bombardment of email requests for money?

I would recommend (1) no contributions period. Candidates will attract enough money directly form people who could directly benefit from the candidate or party’s influence (like corporations, billionaires, and special interests). And, (2) if you are a strong supporter for an issue, policy, or broad ideology, I would suggest a single donation and no more. This single donation should satisfy one’s conscience while not contributing greatly to the wasteful use of campaign donations.

A Suspension Of Critical Thinking?

Posted September 20, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, LGBT, medicaid, medicare, obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republican Party, Supreme Court, Uncategorized

There should be no question that a Hillary Clinton victory will mean a dark period for those who support continued lax gun controls, or wish to turn back Roe v Wade, or seek new Federal “Religious Freedom” legislation in order to freely discriminate against the LGBT community. Vote against Hillary these Republicans think.

Clinton’s opponents also want to turn the Supreme Court back to conservative majority control. This would means more judicial support for campaign spending with dark money (Citizen United), greater religious freedom at someone else’s expense (Hobby Lobby), and much looser voting rights legislation (photo IDs). And don’t forget, Hillary will not be enacting any tax cuts. So from a GOP perspective, a Hillary victory is certainly something to worry about.

The problem at least some Republicans are having is that Donald Trump is their standard bearer. If Republicans want to achieve their social and economic goals, some how they have to accept Trump as the commander in chief and work to get him elected. Fortunately, at least some Republicans see a much greater risk in a President Trump.

There are strong bi-partisan arguments that the banking industry still can not be trusted (witness the recent Wells Fargo abuses), that corporate tax reform must be revenue neutral, and tax cuts for the wealthy do nothing for the overall economy. Simply eliminating Dodd-Frank, just cutting the corporate tax rate (and leaving corporate tax loop holes), and interpreting tax reform as cutting tax across the board, will open consumers to corporate greed.

And did I mention scrapping Obamacare, meddling with Medicare, and reducing Medicaid without sound alternatives will reinforce a two tier America.

The first question “thinking Republicans” should have if Clinton is elected, is how to avoid draconian legislation which will hamper Banks and Corporations from competing dynamically on the global stage. The second question is “how can we be sure what Donald Trump would do as President”?

The second question inevitably leads to what would a President Trump do, beyond these questions, on even more complex issues such as negotiating Trade Agreements, developing foreign policy, or handling domestic terrorist threats and acts?

It is no surprise to see single issue groups like the Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and Pro-life organizations endorsing Donald Trump. These groups do not see much beyond their own proprietary interests.

Consider, in the current grid locked Congress, the chances of Democrats enacting any of their progressive ideas is pretty low (like zero). The chances, however, of a President Trump spontaneously acting in a manner which infringes individual freedoms, antagonizes foreign countries, and confuses financial markets seems distinctly more possible.

“Thinking Republicans” worry about these consequences.

The unanswered question may be “will too many Republicans suspend critical thinking and vote for Trump” or “will some Republicans recognize the danger and deny Trump their vote”?

Who Wants To Be President?

Posted September 17, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, congress, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

Asking the question, “who wants to be President” seems unnecessary since both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are spending gobs of money asking for American voters to pick them. But do the candidates recognize how dysfunctional Congress is and will be regardless of which party controls the Senate or the House? Hmmm.

Odds are that the House will remain in Republican control and the Senate may swing back to Democrat control. Under such an arrangement, few if any of Hillary’s proposals will clear the House and none of Trumps ideas about “fixing things” will clear the Senate. And after the GOP’s debacle with Merritt Garland and the Supreme Court, don’t count on any Trump nominees even getting an up or down vote (get even time!).

The GOP controlled House would likely continue “blue ribbon” investigations and more hearings like those concerning Benghazi and the Clinton email servers. Anything to discredit and marginalize a President Clinton would be fair game.

In a Trump Presidency, he may be in for a surprise. All of his campaign promises involving spending may meet strong (suicidal looking) resistance from the “freedom coalition”. (Imagine that those who forced Speaker John Boehner out are not much happier with Paul Ryan, and are bent upon divisive bills including paths to again shut down the government even this close to the general election). Most of Trump’s ideas and proposal are the antithesis of Tea Party and Freedom Coalition members’ preferences.

For a President Clinton, she could see (and would profit if she saw) the Presidency as an opportunity to recuperate her reputation. If she allows the House to continue its unproductive if not outrightly dysfunctional behavior, she would appear in sharp contrast as both the President and the only adult in the room. In doing so, she would pave the way for other talented women to follow.

For a President Trump, the mere idea of how he would react if he did not get his way seems unfathomable. A President Trump might, under such circumstances, turn his attention to boosting his personal assets now held is a “blind” trust by his children. This temptation would be extraordinarily strong, if only for the satisfaction of doing something he was not suppose to do.

A President Trump could boast about how vigorous he was as the oldest elected President. A President Clinton, in turn, could revel in the recognition that she was the first women elected President. Either could accept a noncontroversial figure head role, and host great White House parties. Either one could occupy their time raising money and getting ready for the next Presidential election. But knowing these two candidates, which one would want that prospect.

Considering this possibility, maybe the poll takers might change their favorite questions about “do you trust Hillary” or “is Donald qualified” and instead ask the hypothetical, “why would a sane individual want to be President when the Congress is populated with elected officials who as a group have demonstrated the inability to govern?” Hmmm.

What’s Happening In Ohio?

Posted September 15, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, congress, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

A Bloomberg poll of likely voters conducted this week in Ohio place Donald Trump 4 points ahead of Hillary Clinton. In the “battleground” State, this is great news for Trump and the Republican ticket and bad news for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. What’s going on in Ohio that does not appear to be showing in the rest of the country?

Could it be that there are a lot of workers who are either unemployed or are making less wages, and think NAFTA is the cause?

Could it be that there are a lot of coal miners who see renewable energy as the enemy and Hillary Clinton as the clean energy champion?

Could it be that there are a lot of voters who think Donald Trump is offering a thoughtful clear message and will follow through on his promises if elected? Hmmm.

For sure Ohio does have a lot of workers who have lost very good paying jobs due to globalization and NAFTA. But unless these voters believe Donald Trump can push water up hill, there is no way the auto industry can return to the wage and productivity levels of the 80s and before. The world has changed regardless of what Trump says.

In a similar manner the coal industry is also heading in a one way direction which will translate into less mining jobs each year. Global warming is real and national efforts to curb greenhouse gases will contribute to eliminate miners each year. Trump may promise otherwise but again he will not be able to deliver.

Donald Trump’s campaign promises have been anything but clear and consistent. He has promised huge tax cuts while also promising to increase significantly defense spending, fix the infrastructure, hand out new benefits for new parents, and provide tax relief for child care costs. Either Trump’s promises have entered the “free lunch” territory or he is planning to cut drastically Medicare, Medicaid, and other safety net programs (which these Ohio Trump supporters also depend dearly upon).

IMO, the Bloomberg Ohio poll has probably captured a skewed picture of how Ohio will ultimately vote. For sure there will are disgruntled manufacturing workers and coal workers who will vote for Trump. There are also in Ohio a contingent of loyal Republican voters who will see Trump as the lesser of two evils.

In the Clinton column, however, there should be the usual suspects, women, immigrants, African Americans, gays, and college educated voters in general. The election will be much closer (baring any new political events) than the 4 points Bloomberg is now citing.

Trumps campaign genius has been its ability to steer the news media away from any substantive discussion of Trump’s promises. The proposals simply do not add up and will most likely hurt most of the people Trump is intent upon getting to vote for him. Hmmm.

The 4 point lead should frighten many people, Democrats and Republicans alike. At this point Trump is a total unknown other than he has made a career of taking his cut off the top. The nature of Trump’s franchising business will expose him to conflicts of interest like never before.

Trump’s conflicts will make the Clinton Foundation look like the Girl Scouts.

In the approximate 8 weeks of campaigning that is left, Clinton must focus upon how Trump’s promises will not work and do not add up financially. Trump’s traits as a xenophobe, anti-immigrant, and religious bigot need no further explanation. All the world recognizes these traits.

Trump’s policies, not to mention the GOP’s, just do not add up unless there are to be large cuts to healthcare (most Americans), Medicare (retirees), and Medicaid (poor Americans), Under Trump’s proposals, the very wealthy win again, and win big.

How exactly does that aid auto workers or coal miners?

Rome’s Queen Mary

Posted September 13, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: catholic church, LGBT, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Steady as she goes! Rome’s version of the Queen Mary is sailing by.

Vice President candidate Tim Kaine recently reiterated his support for gay issues including same sex marriage. Kaine said he remained strongly committed to his catholic faith. He reconciled his views and the Catholic Church’s because he believed the church would change its anti-gay marriage views some day. Hmmm.

Like the Queen Mary, its is tough to turn around.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this week that a 14 year old was denied enrollment to a Camden (NJ) Catholic high school even though the student had been accepted and had paid the necessary deposit. The reason for denying entry was that the 14 year old applied for admission as a female and over the summer decided to begin the transition to a man. Camden Catholic said that “Mason” did not meet our “Catholic Identity” according to the news report. Hmmm.

Pictures of Madelyn now Mason reveal a clean cut, normal 14 year old. The school’s decision and the diocese’s quick statement of support show once again that the Catholic Church is stuck in a strangulating conservative grip, apparently feeling that if it denies the reality before its eyes, in time the world will suddenly conform to catholic dogma. Hmmm.

IMO, it works the other way.

Homosexuality has existed as long as recorded history. In a room of 20 people, the odds are that at least one is gay (either publicly or privately). The American public has changed it views of homosexuality markedly over the past 20 years as more and more successful people have outed themselves. Most of the secular public now seems to be saying, live and let live. In fact same sex marriage is the “law of the land”, not by legislative mandate but by the Supreme Court reading the publics minds.

The reasons someone is gay or lesbian is not clear, they just are (they didn’t learn it). More recently the public has begun to be exposed to transgender preferences. In these situations, a person identifies with the gender opposite to their birth gender. The more people who announce their changed gender preference, the more Americans perception of what is normal is being challenged.

But not the Catholic Church. They are blessed with greater knowledge, apparently.

With a clergy that some estimate to contain a third to one half homosexuals, the irony should not be lost. For adults, a transition to the opposite gender is usually accompanied with extensive counseling. For children/young adults, there is just as much or more need for compassion and support.

What a way for the Catholic Church to lead by example.

So Is This Partisan Politics?

Posted September 11, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, economic growth, economy, George W Bush, GOP, Healthcare, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The Presidential contest pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump will be one for the record books. After many self inflicted wounds, Donald Trump is still standing and appears to be gaining strength. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, began her run with voter high unfavorable ratings and although leading in most polls, is watching her lead decrease daily.  Why?

“She is untrustworthy” poll takers were saying. Clinton responded and claimed Trump was unfit for office. Trump then countered with Hillary was crooked and should be in jail. Hmmm.

Voters are left to wonder whether this rhetoric is just an example of “partisan politics” (not to be believed) or that voters should just revert to their party of choice, hold their noses, and pull that lever in the voting booth. I wonder.

Donald Trump is no doubt a successful businessman with a specialty in real estate development. His business record is also replete with dozens of bankruptcies and law suits. In his personal businesses, Trump has made great use of globalization (out sourcing) and has hired low wage (many undocumented) workers in his US projects. There is little or no connection between his personal life and business career and his promises “to make America great again”. In truth, Trump may not be “crooked” but unethical and sleazy may be better descriptors. I wonder how that will work to make America great again?

Hillary Clinton is no doubt a highly intelligent person with top level legislative and administrative experience. Unfortunately, through out her career (as wife of a Governor, wife of a President, Senator, and Secretary of State), she has been linked to questionable associations and potential conflicts of interest. Personal profit always seemed to be near by. For conservatives, the most frustrating aspect of these rumors has been that no one has been able to make charges of illegality stick.

But, IMO, Trumps despicable business career and Clinton’s proximity to conflicts of interest do not represent partisan politics. Rather partisan politics is much more about fear.

For example, the Republican Party fears Government control (and all that goes with it) falling into Democrat hands. And the opposite is just as true for Democrats. That’s partisan politics.

In 1800, when Thomas Jefferson was elected President, partisan politics had become as entrenched then as it seems today. Jefferson’s party was called the “Republicans” and they largely stood for a weak executive, small Federal Government, and a large dose of States rights. John Adams, Jefferson’s opponent and sitting President, was a Federalist. Federalists believed a a strong executive with clear taxing authorities, fiscal soundness, and a standing Army and Navy.

Beside these size of government positions, Republicans claimed vociferously that Federalists wanted to bring the United States back under Great Britain’s influence with a “king-like leader subject to a Great Britain like Constitution. (Fear)

Federalists, not surprisingly, saw Republicans as Francophiles and heading down a path towards atheism and anarchy. (Fear)

Even in times of relative peace, there was not much these two parties agreed upon despite the abundant evidence that Federalist policies had enable Americas rapid growth and wealth creation.

Today’s Republican Party also champions States Rights and claims they wish to see the size of Government reduced. Republicans are certain Democrat policies (such as medicare, medicaid, social security, and healthcare) are on course to bankrupt America. (Fear). Republicans still promise lower taxes despite all evidence that businesses prefer to pass any new earnings (due to lower taxes) onto owners and investors, not employees of customers.

Today’s Federalists (Democrats) push policies which appeal to unions, disadvantaged (women, poor, and gays) Americans, and the elderly and see no problem in increasing the size of Government or the amount of taxes as a means to achieve their goals. Republicans, Democrats say will use religious freedom to discriminate, use legislative powers to further increase income inequality, and will pack the Supreme Court with Justices who will turn back the social clock 50 years.  (Fear).

This is partisan politics.

Consider that the Constitution empowers Americans to practice religion freely but not in the public square. Free expression of religious beliefs is protected providing this expression does not infringe on other Americans pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Capitalism and the “free market” have clearly fueled America’s economic growth but lessons from the gilded era and the great depression (not to mention the 2007 near global depression) have taught us that some rules and regulations are essential to reign in man’s natural greed.

And, even though America is the richest country in the world, there still exists a need for retirement assistance (social security), medical insurance for the elderly (Medicare), and medical coverage for those who can’t afford insurance (Medicaid). Funding these programs require some adequate amount of taxes.

Under partisan politics, religious freedom is a tool to openly pander for votes, the “free market” is pitted against socialism, and quality of life issues (social security, Medicare, and Medicaid) are framed as the expressway to bankruptcy and a lazy society to boot.

Regrettably, partisan politics skirts any direct confrontation with these large social issues. Lost too are critical infrastructure, education, and national defense funding questions. The use of data (including what other like countries might be doing) is an early casualty. Rather, the debate becomes one of style and not substance. one liners, and photo-ops.

That’s partisan politics.

IMO, Donald Trump is an unpredictable and dangerous choice. He appears to have no public policies beliefs and would be prone to cherry pick the Republican list of “must do’s” like taxes, limited immigration reform, and healthcare based upon what he thought was best for him and the Trump brand.

Hillary Clinton will be more concerned with her legacy and while progressive, will remain close to center in her policies. Both candidates, of course, would be somewhat limited by Congressional gridlock in any case.

Neither candidate, regretfully, is leveling with Americans that the “big issue”, income inequality, requires a longer term strategy and quick fixes are simply not in the cards. Instead each candidate is speaking about what they will do in the first 100 days.

Regardless, income inequality (upward mobility) remains the single biggest issue. (Otherwise how does a Trump beat Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders almost win the Democrat nomination?)

If either Trump or Clinton ignores this issue during their Presidency, that person is likely be doomed to one term.