And Then There Was One

Posted May 5, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, evangelical, Hillary Clinton, Iraq War, john kasich, LGBT, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

John Kasich bowed out of the GOP Presidential primary yesterday leaving Donald Trump as the last man standing. Whether one views the primary as theater or marital arts, the whittling of 17 candidates down to one was both grand theater and martial arts.

Trump used bully and narcissistic tactics devastatingly well to achieve the nomination, or at least standing at the edge of it. America likes winners, will Americans like Trump?

The GOP is reacting in strange ways. Some GOP members are rushing to find a seat on the Trump express, hoping it is not to late. Others are doubling down on their “Trump – no way”, but what options do they have.

In a few of the anti-Trump GOP members’ statements, one can get a sense of what the Republican problem is. They see Trump as someone who does not embrace the GOP platform ideologically. Trump is soft on social issues and has a more populous view on the economy, like erecting trade barriers and keeping entitlements. The GOP does not appear to understand that their platform which has traditionally included anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-Mexican planks just does not reflect where a majority of Americans are now, and where they are trending. Instead of embracing Trump and taking advantage of his bold steps (using it as cover so as not to offend evangelicals and fundamentalists), many GOP members appear paralyzed.

For much of the primary campaign, John Kasich appeared to be the adult in the room. Kasich on paper was probably the most experienced candidate to be President. His withdrawal yesterday made one wonder about that thought.

Kasich suspended his campaign almost whining that he still had faith god would guide him to the path that would give purpose to his life. What?

Doesn’t Kasich remember that the last Republican President asked god about whether American should invade and occupy Iraq, and after receiving an affirmative answer, led American into a disastrous bloody conflict which has destabilized the Middle East.

Speaking of god on the campaign trail is usually a self serving statement. In Kasich case, it was probably genuine but totally out of place. (Why would a supreme being choose to guide one candidate when doing so would disadvantage another?)

The GOP primary will be studied and provide the source for many a pundit’s book. The general election will be another book and until its over it can’t be written.

Indiana, Trump, And NAFTA

Posted May 4, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, economy, GOP, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The GOP Presidential primary reached a significant mile marker with the Indiana primary results. Donald Trump won, Ted Cruz ended his campaign, and John Kasich said “I’ll take another card”. Pundits have flocked to say Trump is in fact the presumptive nominee. Hmmm.

In his victory speech, the Donald was magnanimous and praised Cruz just hours after having trashed him. Trump even praised the other 17 original GOP candidates saying there had never been a group so qualified… and pointing out he had beaten them all. So humble.

One cannot help but wonder whether Trump will apply his primary strategies and tactics on his Democrat opponent in the general election. His primary victory came without the slightest discussion of policy or how Trump would deliver on any of his vague promises.

“Making America Great Again”, what does that look like? What Presidential policies would lead to greatness? And how do Trump’s proposals line up with the GOP platform?

Soon it will be revealed how Trump will campaign but in the interim voters are left with trying to understand his claims. For example, Trump tossed a grenade at Hillary Clinton over her remarks about coal miners in West Virginia. Trump promised to get miners in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio back to work in the mines! Will Trump be a global warming denier?

In another interview, Trump claimed Hillary’s husband Bill signed into law “the worst” trade bill “ever”. NAFTA has lead to job loses for millions of Americans, Trump claims. Hmmm.

Critics have claimed that the NAFTA trade agreement lead directly to outsourcing of many manufacturing jobs (especially in the automotive segment) and the weakening of Union resistance to wage concessions. Critics also point to upheavals in the Mexican agricultural sector losing out to American industrial farms. These claims are essentially true but only touch the surface of what happened.

During Bill Clinton’s tenure, the US automotive industry was in sharp decline with cars arriving from Asia which, compared to American made automobiles, were equal or better in quality but significantly cheaper in cost. Americans were choosing to buy these models at the expense of American made, more expensive vehicles. Arguably even more American jobs would have been lost had tariffs and duties been strengthened and NAFTA defeated.

For sure unemployed coal miners and any dislodged manufacturing sector workers are due some consideration by the Government. Retraining, unemployment insurance, and temporary housing and living assistance would seem smart investments… even though the Republican Party is all for reducing the size of government and letting the economy take care of itself.

Trump’s populous themes are transparent attempts to appeal to certain voters and in the process turning his back on Republican orthodoxy. The GOP will learn you can’t have it both ways, helping those in need, building an even mightier military, and making government smaller.

I wonder whether Trump will recognize this before his Presidential debate?

Scrooge And The Generous Fool

Posted May 3, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, congress, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, health insurance companies, Healthcare, Hillary Clinton, obamacare, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

One of the hot button 2016 Presidential campaign issues will be healthcare. Republicans will band around “repeal Obamacare” and will try to be as vague as possible about what would come in its place. Democrats will point to increased number of insured Americans and claim Republicans want to take health insurance coverage from millions of Americans. This issue could easily descend into a war of words with facts and truth mere casualties. Hmmm.

The GOP position, recently outlined by House Speaker Paul Ryan, is about “an individual centered” healthcare system where every effort is made to keep Government out of it. Tax credits, block grants to States, and health insurance sales across State lines are key elements of the GOP thinking. Since no level of healthcare coverage is specified, the GOP plan will become a plan based upon “the best healthcare money can buy”.

If you have a lot of money (good employer and above average income), you will be well taken care of.  If you do not have much money, you will get skimpy coverage if you can get any at all.

The Democrat position will be likely “keep Obamacare” chugging along, life is good. This view is almost as misplaced as the GOP one. The Democrats will ignore the rising healthcare costs.

At the bottom of this lies a fundamental decision for Americans.

Capitalism is generally named as the one aspect that sets the American life style apart from the rest of the world. While some may rail against what they view as restraints on unfettered capitalism, most pundits still rank the US economy as the freest and most suitable for entrepreneurs. The question then is, “is universal healthcare consistent with capitalism”?

US healthcare already has socialistic elements. For example, no one can be refused urgent healthcare at a hospitals emergency room. Americans have said, through law, that we do not accept people simply dying on the street corner. Many States already set minimum coverage requirements for insurance companies selling healthcare to their residents.

Obamacare has introduced another level of regulations aimed at delivering basic healthcare to all Americans. Healthcare costs are intended to be covered by a combination of individual, employer, and government (all other tax payers). But Obamacare is far short of universal healthcare in a number of ways.

  • There is no legislative statement that basic healthcare is a right.
  • Hospitals, doctors and nurses, and medical supply (especially drug makers) companies remain for profit institutions and as such can set fees they charge patients at what ever level they wish.
  • Most Americans have no conception of what their healthcare actually costs and appear to know even less about what life style behaviors could reduce their actual healthcare service demand.

Recently there have been egregious examples of capitalism among drug companies. In several well publicized examples, drug companies have simply raised the selling price of their products in line with “what the market will bear”, the first tenant of capitalism.

In a capitalist based system, unregulated healthcare service providers will study the reimbursement formularies and set prices so that profit is maximized. Obamacare, as with the system which preceded it, are ripe to be taken advantage of by drug companies and other healthcare service providers. As long as there is a “payer” like an insurance company, government agency, or corporation, unregulated capitalism will find ways to charge more for the service or care provided.

The GOP approach is akin to “scrooge” and tiny Tim will be lucky to receive spotty care.  And to add insult to injury, healthcare cost will continue to rise unchecked for the rest of us.

The Democrat approach, Obamacare status quo, is a generous solution to healthcare delivery but a foolish one with respect to cost and wasted usage.  Hmmm.

I wonder whether the two candidates will debate this or just exchange half truths?

Arming Others

Posted May 1, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, foreign policy, Germany, GOP, Hillary Clinton, japan, nuclear weapons, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

In his recent “Presidential” foreign policy speech, Donald Trump offered the notion that the US ought to disengage from NATO and encourage countries like South Korea, Japan, and Germany to rearm and go nuclear. Such a statement ought to be grounds for disqualification for anyone seeking to become President. It displays a complete lack of foreign policy experience and a dangerous misunderstanding of history.

Europe, for whose protection the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed, has a long history of wars.  War was the preferred means to settle disagreements or to increase the national wealth as the aggressor. While many lay blame at royal family feuding, it remains the case that European countries lack diversity (largely because that’s what makes the France french, Italy italian, and Germany german).

Europe as a whole is diverse but the nations that make it up are not. Dissolve NATO and all that remains is the shaky European Union. How do you think Germany and France would resolve a serious conflict?

But allowing or even encouraging Japan, South Korea, and Germany to go nuclear is asking for trouble. The majority of citizens in those countries are wonderful, intelligent, and kind people. So what’s the issue?

Japan, South Korea, and Germany have all be run in the past by feudal or authoritarian governments. The fear is they could return to those dark days under the right conditions.

The rise of a populous leader who invokes nationalistic themes could once again take control. This type of leader will appeal to the masses that he/she knows what’s best and can turn away those “others” who are trying to bring ruin to Japan, South Korea, or Germany. Remember your history? Or better yet, does this sound familiar to the 2016 Presidential race?

Minority leaders who gain control by promises of grander times begin their leadership time with a heavy burden. What will they do if the economy doesn’t improve? What will they tell the populous?

Most of these leaders double down and buy time by saying their country is on the right path.  A little more time and maybe some harder measures, they say, will bring the desired results.

Suspension of lawful rule soon follows with a declared “State of Emergency” in which the despot rules by decree is the end state.

While Japan, South Korea, and Germany’s sovereignty allows each of the countries to rearm as their citizens wish, economics, technology, and a painful memory of World War II have tempered any nationalistic tendencies. For Donald Trump to suggest a return to the past is inexcusable for a commander in chief and future world leader.

McWho Is Back, Must Be Reelection Time

Posted April 30, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, foreign policy, GOP, Iraq War, John McCain, Middle East, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

John McCain is running for reelection. This every six year chore manifests itself somewhat like the locust phenomena. McCain conducts himself independently during his term, speaking passionately about Defense Spending and what he sees as wasteful spending. But when election time rolls around, McCain is all about what he thinks his constituents will buy. Hmmm.

This week McCain spoke out again on Syria. By script, the Obama Administration “has it all wrong”. In fact, McCain says President Obama “has no strategy at all”. Red meat for Arizonians?

Like most Republicans, McCain does not want to put troops on the ground. So what does he see as a better strategy?

One misses the point by asking what McCain’s strategy might be. His comments are really meant to remind his constituents how fortunate they are to have someone so in tune with national defense as one of their Senators. Hmmm.

The Middle East (Iraq and Syria right now) represent a slippery slope where a little US military involvement will almost surely lead to more (look how easy it has been to get out of Afghanistan). President Obama has said he would back US support of those Middle East countries that are prepared to help themselves but so far those have been few and far between. Instead, ethnic and sectarian splits combined with an overall intention of fundamentalist Muslim leaders to hold women in second class status have combined to shield Middle East countries from modernity.

I wonder what McCain’s plan to change that might be?

The Republican Titanic?

Posted April 29, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, foreign policy, globalization, Hillary Clinton, obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republican Party, taxes, tea party, Ted Cruz, Uncategorized

In the wake of the Acela Primaries, news reports are coalescing around the inevitability of Donald Trump’s nomination. This outcome has been reinforced by the apparent rejection of Ted Cruz’ VP selection of Carli Fiorina, and the seemingly unexplainable coalition with John Kasich. With Trump’s opponents self destructing in real time, who is there to oppose Trump?

Politicians are many things but normally brave, predictable, and principled are heard less and less these days. Republican leaders are in a tough spot. They do not like Trump (and predict bad things in the general election with the Donald at the top of the ticket) but Kasich has not caught American’s interest and Cruz is held in lower esteem than even Trump. So, GOP big whigs don’t want to get caught without a chair when the music finally does stop. QED, hold our noses and get behind Trump.

There are certainly elements of the GOP leadership, including big money, who hold hope that Trump can be defeated in a contested convention. It simply unclear who the GOP could put forward to unite the Party and have a chance to do better in November.

A thoughtful Republican must conclude, one would think, that the Grand Old Party is about to disintegrate. This is probably an exaggeration. But disintegration into two or three large pieces is not only possible but long over due.

The Freedom Coalition (Cruz and Tea Partiers) present an evangelical/fundamentalist, no compromise approach to social values and an austere fiscal policy. Since the rise of the Tea Party, this group has been trying to hijack the Republican Party by claiming to be more Republican than any other Republicans. The views they hold and policies they endorse are backward looking and are not where US demographics are heading. The GOP would be wise to let them go.

Donald Trump followers are people who feel let down by Democrats and assign their economic worries to the “handouts” Democrats call entitlements. This group is largely uninterested in social issues and believes in “live and let live”. For this group the future is all about sensible policy which puts the American dream back in play. The GOP would be wise to build upon this base.

Third largest segment might be the old fashion “establishment” characterized by Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and the Koch Brothers. This group knows best what is in Americans best interest. They also know what’s best for themselves and see any path forward as featuring a tax cut for the wealthy (no matter how a tax cut is packaged). Benign neglect and civility are the hallmarks of this segment.

How might this all play out?

If the world was perfect, the GOP would realize two things. (1) The Cruz followers have no place to go. Their world view is held by an ever decreasing number of people and their no compromise stand will prevent others from joining. (2) The GOP needs to take a drubbing again in the general election in order for it get real on its core beliefs and policies. (For example, person center healthcare (Paul Ryan’s proposal) in place of Obamacare is the same as “the best healthcare money can buy” and that will not fly.)

In this perfect world, the GOP would return bravely to the center (slightly right of center is ok). Repairing and improving the infrastructure which is necessary for jobs and commerce doesn’t know what a Democrat or Republican is. Income inequality is real but the idea that cutting taxes on the wealthy is somehow going to bring about high paying jobs is a cruel pipe dream. And, saber rattling (how the US is going to get tough with other countries) has no place in the real world of globalization, the US is either militarily strong or it isn’t, and oh by the way, that country the US just shook its saber at is a key trading partner).

If the GOP doesn’t think the middle is for them, then the GOP may need to receive a thrashing more than once.

America needs the GOP to regain its senses. There are important issues facing the country which needs a more diverse set of eyes and minds thinking about them. The budget is unbalanced and without more tax revenues, the only path to a balanced budget is by decreasing government spending… which moves quickly to reductions in entitlements as well as defense spending. Cutting entitlements and not defense spending at a time of income inequality is a prescription for social unrest.

There is a chance that the GOP can escape the Titanic’s fate but only if they move away from the destructive policies of the Freedom Coalition/Cruz faction. If the GOP doesn’t move, the majority of current GOP members will.

Acela Has Spoken

Posted April 27, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, economy, foreign policy, GOP, Hillary Clinton, john kasich, LGBT, Politics, Republican Party, Ted Cruz, Uncategorized

Tuesday’s primaries along the Acela train route have confirmed, at least for the Northeast, the two Presidential candidates which Democrats and Republicans prefer. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won by impressive margins and with the wins, piled up delegate vote leads which make their ultimate selections as presumptive. And both candidates seem genuinely pleased to run against the other.

If there remain pockets among the GOP elite who cannot accept Trump, time is getting short. Trump’s oppositions finds itself in a pickle. Ted Cruz is absolutely unelectable nationally and John Kasich seems unable to gain any traction despite not being disdained.

So to hijack Trump’s nomination in a contested convention will spell disaster for the GOP slate come November. Trump may not appeal to a majority of all voters but he does have enough stalwart support among Republicans (and some cross over Democrats) that the perception of the nomination haven been stolen will significantly reduce Republican turn out on election day.

Hillary has morphed her campaign from a coronation to a grind it out, traditional battle. She has cleverly evolved and in some cases revamped her campaign policies to narrow the differences between her and Bernie Sanders without sacrificing a more centrist position for the general election.

Sanders has his same campaign lines, once seen as original and motivational, and now appear somewhat flat.  He seems to be running out of gas. The stage is almost set.

To be sure, the Northeast, does not speak for America. Our Country is broader and more varied. Never the less certain demographics came forward in 2008 and 2012 and should be expected to hold again in 2016. Women’s rights, immigration, religious tolerance (acceptance of the LBGT community) will once again tilt the vote in favor of Democrats… simply because the GOP will choose a Platform emphasizing the opposite.

GOP positions on tax cuts, ending Obamacare, and reducing entitlements will be equivalent to shooting themselves in the foot. Further, comparing Hillary Clinton to President Obama will backfire too. There simply is no evidence that any of the “just say no” GOP rhetoric of the past 8 years has been based upon sound thinking. In fact, the GOP statements have been 100% wrong.

What should not be lost by either party is that the next 4 or 8 years may not be anything like the past, and may require new policies and resource deployment. There is no reason to believe at this point that Hillary Clinton would be better at operating under new conditions than Donald Trump.  Will the GOP make the case that the next four years will be significantly different from the past?

Voters will be left with the issues and policies which both parties present. In this sense, Donald Trump represents a genuine risk to Clinton. Trump, who has voiced some shallow thinking policies could flamboyantly walk away from anything he has already said in the primaries as if they didn’t count.  And there is little doubt Trump will relish trash talking about Hillary (and Bill). Maybe something will stick.

Voters will undoubtably see Hillary as the only adult in the room but if there wasn’t a chance for Trump, there would be no horse races.


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