Three Strikes and …

Posted October 20, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, MItt Romney, planned parenthood, Politics, Presidential Debate, Republican Party, Supreme Court, Uncategorized

The third and final 2016 Presidential debate mercifully concluded last evening in Las Vegas. With a sigh of relief the curtain fell on a modern political tradition with the public little more informed about what policies each candidates would follow if elected. What did come to the surface again was the gulf in temperament that separates the two candidates.

Hillary Clinton, dressed in calming white, baited Donald Trump with carefully constructed dialog. Clinton displayed the difference between the big leagues and a back yard sandlot. Clinton used a saber while Trump rambled around using his elbows. For Trump supporters, this was and is their man. For Clinton supporters, it was “see I told you so”. But what about everyone in between?

The polls will once again provide an indication but that will take days. IMO, the turkey was already in the oven with Trump steadily sinking in voters’ opinions, last nights debate did nothing to arrest this decline and arguably may have accelerated it.

On taxes and the economy, Trump promised better days were around the corner, saying with massive tax cuts, jobs would be created (as well as returned from overseas), the economy would grow in excess of 5%, and America would be great again. I would not worry about a long line of economists vouching for this whopper.

Trump relied on “non-Presidential” demeanor in attempts to belittle and denigrate Hillary Clinton while denying any counter charges regardless of whether Hillary’s claims had already been fact checked.

And strike three (for the undecided, wavering, and uncommitted) came at the very end when Trump refused to acknowledge that he would accept the election results. In essence, Trump said no to the “American Way”.

There were other important differences mentioned on immigration, women’s right to choose, and the Supreme Court. With a more mainstream Republican candidate (remember Mitt Romney), one would have expected a fuller discussion and an appeal to voters on why their position was best. Last evenings these topics were like throw away issues taking away from each candidates real interest, showing their opponent as unfit to serve.

This quadrennial political contest is not over. There is of course still time for some unknown disclosure which could rock Clinton’s candidacy, but chance are small and getting smaller. At this point, Hillary Clinton looks destine to become the 45th President.

The Dark Side Emerges?

Posted October 18, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Supreme Court, Uncategorized


Republican Congressional candidates are caught in a difficult position when facing the 2016 general election. Do they align with Donald Trump or do they jump ship and run almost as an independent? GOP “talking points” suggest candidates should express disagreement with some or all of Trump’s rhetoric but confirm 100% rejection of Hillary Clinton. The GOP adds, if Republican candidates are elected, voters will get someone who would “stand up” to a President Clinton. Hmmm.

Recently Senator John McCain was interviewed in Philadelphia about his support for fellow Republican incumbent, Pat Toomey. McCain said that if he (McCain) and Toomey were reelected they could act as a wall against any Clinton Supreme Court nominee. What?

In an unprecedented move this year, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow any Senate consideration of Merric Garland for the Supreme Court. His excuse was the nomination came in an election year and he would wait for the next President to decide who would be the nominee. Now McCain is suggesting that as long as the Senate in under Republican control, there would be no Democrat nominated additions to the Supreme Court. Hmmm.

The Constitution clearly states “the President shall nominate” (even in an election year), and the Senate will give “advise and consent”. But what Constitutional reasons might there be for withholding consent?

The founding fathers must have included this provision over worries about a totally unqualified person being nominated, say for political payback or favor. Hmmm.  And there have been precedents for the Senate rejecting a Presidential nominee (like Robert Bork) on the grounds that the nominee’s views lay far outside the American mainstream. Is it possible that all of Hillary Clinton’s nominations would presumably be so progressive as to mirror Robert Bork?

This absolutist thinking is both highly presumptuous and a poor reading of history.

The GOP has no moral or ethical grounds to carte blanche reject all Clinton appointees, and although admittedly the Constitution does not preclude this possibility, the American three coequal branches of government with an independent Judiciary is being jeopardized.

Fairness would have Hillary Clinton winning the Presidency if for no other reason than pay back for the GOP Supreme Court shenanigans. Listening to McCain, even with a Clinton victory, Republicans may still act badly.

I guess life is not always fair.

Two Tales Of One City

Posted October 16, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

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On Saturday, the annual Baltimore Marathon was run. Saturday also featured “Fleet Week”, and in addition to ship tours, there would be a “Blue Angels” air show.  Excitement on the ground, on the water, and in the air.

The weather was superb and 10’s of thousand of Marylanders would visit the bustling Inner Harbor area and partake in the festivities. This Baltimore snapshot would make anyone proud to live there or nearby.

My wife and our daughter’s family were signed up to run in the accompanying 5K race. My job was to bring the youngest grandchild, a kindergartener, to her race (2/10ths of a mile) by nine o’clock. Ordinarily this would be a simple task but due to the marathon, half marathon and 5K, all direct routes were closed to through traffic. A work around would be necessary.

Coming from the north along I-83, my goal was to get to Camden Yards area. To accomplish this, I needed to leave the freeway and take to city streets cutting though west Baltimore. And this is where your senses go into overload.

Taking a major street (Pennsylvania Avenue), the scenery was reminiscent of “The Wire” with one boarded up row house after another. At each corner, there was someone approaching the car asking for money. Along the street there were single men aimlessly walking, apparently with no place to go (and most probably homeless). And if you told me the man and the boy I saw at one corner were doing drug business, I would not be surprised. This scene lasted at least well over a mile.

After turning onto MLK Boulevard, it was only a short time before I could see the modern M&T Bank Stadium (home of the NFL Ravens) and my destination. The world looked quite different from my tour of West Baltimore.

Baltimore is like many other large cities. There are sections which are devastatingly poor, some that look old and tired, and parts which are posh and exciting. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Sports Center complex is as nice and exciting as any city in America. The blight which characterized the ride through West Baltimore stems from a host of interconnected social reasons. A perplexing puzzle of opposites.

I wonder whether this is what Donald Trump was thinking when he promised to make America great again?

A Future History Lesson?

Posted October 12, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The odd candidacy and Donald Trump’s subsequent Republican Presidential nomination will undoubtably become a mainstay of modern political history. How did a democratic republic fall victim to egomaniacal entrepreneur, especially when the nomination came from the conservative party?

Fortunately today the outlook predicts a Hillary Clinton victory even with her high levels of unfavorableness.  Still the republic will have dodged the authoritarian path. In four weeks we will know the outcome.

Should Clinton win, will the republic learn anything from the extraordinary Trump campaign?  If government remains business as usual, the future could be very uncertain.  Here’s why.

Donald Trump has run a sort of mixed campaign, part “Pied Piper” and part “Attila the Hun”. There is an important message, however, in his campaign and particularly voters’ response.

The Piped Piper aspect presented voters with visceral (and grossly unfair) caricatures of minority groups which the Pied Piper knew would appeal to the common man. The Pied Piper then linked these caricatures to pressing middle class social and economic fears. And there you are, the Pied Piper had soon a strong following who saw the Piper as the solution to their American Dream disappointment. Fast forward and “fair and square”, Trump won the primaries and got the nomination.

Since the nominating conventions, the Pied Piper has learned that his music only works for part of the electorate, and that number of voters is not enough to win. Consequently, Attila the Hun has emerged preferring a scorched earth approach to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Attila believes he can so distort and tarnish Clinton’s image that enough voters will not vote and his supporters from the Pied Piper days will be sufficient to win the general election.  Attila slyly thinks that even if he does not win, Clinton will be politically severely damaged and unable to lead.   It is a rational strategy, although from the polls, appears will be unsuccessful.

So what are some of the future history lessons?

Collateral battlefield damage. A Clinton victory will be difficult for Republicans to understand or accept. One likely conclusion will be “blame their candidate”. Instead of accepting the shifting demographics, conservative GOP leaders may refuse to see how out of touch their policies might be and try to just restate them even more forcefully (with more money). This will foretell another loss in 2020 instead of rebuilding the GOP into a formidable party.

Lost opportunities. The 2018 mid-term campaigns begin the day after the 2016 general elections. The coalition which calls itself the Republican Party will face election (and reelection) under an unknown party banner. Will they run as Trumpers, Reagan Republicans, far right Republicans, or what? One thing is for sure, Congressional work must wait (unless Democrats were to gain control of both Congressional houses).  There really could be two more years of Congressional inaction.

Foreign Risks. With global news reporting plentiful, foreign governments are aghast at Trump’s rhetoric and the suspicion that Hillary Clinton will begin her term as a wounded leader. Among friendly countries, negotiations will be more complicated… can Clinton keep her promises?

But with rogue and adversarial countries, the prospect that one adversary will overplay its hand will be heightened. (The open, free speech, no holds barred style of this election have no corresponding equivilent in their native lands. The closest image is one of a nation about to implode.)  The risk of armed conflicts will be significant.

A sorry Blue print for the future. Attila’s campaign tactics will leave a sharply divided electorate.  Congressional consensus and compromise will be extremely difficult with a strong possibility of gridlock. Attila will remind voters, “see I told you so”. This presents the prospect of 2020 repeat for the Pied Piper/Attila the Hun, either in a reformed Republican Party or just as a third party (maybe the Trump Party).  Deja vu all over again.

Real Issues

Posted October 11, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The news media has had a very lucrative 18 months or so, covering the 2016 Presidential election. Sensationalism and name calling sell, and much of the news media has been ready to print and broadcast the most salacious of campaign claims. What has the news media and more importantly, the public, missed?

How about:

  • Comprehensive immigration/guest workers reform. What does the candidate propose for his/her immigration/guest worker policy? What steps would the candidate recommend to reduce and eliminate undocumented workers? What policies would the candidate recommend for the 11 million illegal aliens currently residing in the US?
  • Economic growth. In our global economy, how does each candidate propose growing the economy? What programs and policies would each candidate use? What evidence underlies these programs and policies that would predict their efficacy? What type of economic growth is likely? Will that economic growth generate sufficient tax revenues to balance the budget?
  • Narrowing income inequality. Is income inequality an issue worthy of Government attention? If not, why not? If so, what government tools would the candidate recommend? What does the candidate define as income equality and at what income distribution does income inequality begin?
  • Healthcare and Drugs (availability), including Medicare and Medicaid. What constitutes basic healthcare? Is basic health care a right or a privilege? If basic healthcare is a right, what modifications to the Affordable Care Act are necessary to satisfy all Americans right to basic healthcare? If basic healthcare is only a privilege, what changes or modifications should be made to the Affordable Care Act?
  • Healthcare and Drugs (true affordability) including Medicare and Medicaid. Does it make sense that the US spends more than any other country in the world (per capita) and ranks mediocre in medical outcomes? What steps, if any, would the candidate recommend to control overall healthcare and drug costs?
  • Infrastructure repair and maintenance. Is there a need to repair and maintain the national infrastructure? If not, why not. If so, what would be the top targets? How much would fixing the infrastructure cost and where would the money come from? How would the candidate guard against “favoritism” in selecting infrastructure projects, including which contractors received awards?
  • Federal debt. Is the size of the Federal Debt a problem (or at least a potential one)? If not, why not? If so, what steps should be used? Should the goal be only to slow the debt growth, stop the debts growth, or slowly reduce the debt? What spending must be reduced and what new tax revenues must be found?
  • Comprehensive foreign policy. What global role is appropriate for the US (e.g. world policeman, selective engagement, isolation)? What is the balance between Defense and State Departments? What role does nuclear deterrence play? Should Defense spending (which is currently more than all other countries combined) be increased? How should any increases in Defense spending be financed?

There are many other subjects like fixing the Veterans Administration, reforming the tax code, national energy policy, environment related policies, and education which would profit from a similar discussion. Sadly, these subjects also are relegated to the candidates web pages, with little back and forth discussion, or simply not discussed at all.

Back to reality. Hillary or Donald, make your choice. Cross your fingers and hope.

The Morning After

Posted October 10, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Presidential Debate, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The second Presidential debate is over. Waking up this morning, a lot of people are experiencing a sickening feeling in their stomachs. What happened last night in St Louis?  Was this debate between two adults?

In a show of unrestrained guile and bullying of the first order, Donald Trump rambled around the stage issuing one misleading statement after another. There was no moderator question that Trump chose to answer, preferring instead to deviate to a topic he wished to discuss.

Oh, and did I mention Trump chose the lowest road possible with no greater insight into any Trump programs.

For example, Trump promised “big time” tax cuts for the middle class and alleging Clinton would bring the middle class the largest tax increase ever.  Trump omitted mentioning that his plan also includes eliminating many middle class tax deductions. Trump also forgot to mention the wealthy’s bonus, whopping tax reductions.

Clinton, on the other hand, took the high road and made clear that only incomes higher than $250,000 would see a tax increase in her plan. Pretty clear but in the theatrics last night, the point was lost, I fear, on the middle class.

There were many lost opportunities which Hillary missed. Trump as usual repeated statements which have been continually shown as misstatements, with even more emphasis. With hand gestures and menacing facial glares, Trump tried to sell his message.

For Trump’s already committed followers, his performance was brilliant. But for those who were aware of facts, or those who were suspicious of Trump’s past statements, there was just the foul smell of a deplorable person and an aching realization that Donald Trump was representing one of America’s two largest parties. What has happened to American political life?

If there had been any questions following the release of Access Hollywood lewd and disgusting “locker room” video, there should be now none. Trump is all in.

The Real Divide Behind The Division Over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Posted October 9, 2016 by zukunftsaugen
Categories: 2016 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Donald Trump, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Republican Party, Uncategorized

The American voter is facing a real quandary and probably most do not know it. Media outlets have focused, to their financial benefit, on the sensational aspects of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s suitability to be commander in chief. After an exhausting 18+ months, the polls are condensing upon Hillary Clinton as the President. So, will the sun shine and birds sing following the election?

Almost certainly the days after the election will look like the last four years. For some, a President Clinton is far better than a President Trump.  But will it matter?  Probably not as much as voters expect.  Here’s why.

The Republican Party is an amalgam of extreme and self interest groups, each championing their own narrow views and unwilling to unite for consensus, even with other Republican groups. The GOP’s bevy of religious factions wish, among other demands, to impose their views on other American bedrooms. The “big” GOP tent hold libertarian thinkers who want Government to stay out of people’s lives. These libertarians want the US to keep out of foreign entanglements while other GOP groups want a larger military and, of course, lower taxes. Tax code reform is everyone’s favorite as long as the reform does impact that group. Hmmm.

The Democrat Party has its baggage too. Reliance upon African American, Hispanic, and Union voters causes the Democrat Party to avoid serious review of entitlement programs’ efficacy in favor of “politically correct” speak. Pragmatic discussions on healthcare, education, and ending poverty are largely absent. Add to this, the uphill battle for campaign financing support drives Democrats to call for middle class pay raises while in the back ground supporting Wall Street.

Still wondering why there were so many supporters for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?

This does not imply that it makes no difference which candidate, Trump or Clinton, is actually elected. IMO, one is qualified, may not be likable enough, but is a safer bet in a storm. The other is all bluster, no substance, and seemingly sure to find ways to benefit himself financially. Clinton is the wise bet against the unknown.

Neither Clinton nor Trump, however, can be expected to reform either the Democrat or the Republican Parties. Washington dysfunction will remain a given, until Republicans take on reform seriously. A successful Republican reform will drive Democrat change in order to survive.

Following the 2012 election, the GOP conducted a post election exam. The study laid out a serious of policy changes which would place Republicans more in line with trending demographics. Change not only did not take place but a hearty field of 16 traditional GOP hopefuls plus one maverick, Donald Trump, competed for the Presidential nomination. And guess who won.

If this election does not lead to a complete reshape of the Republican Party, the GOP will continue to be obstructionists and be justifiably labeled as disillusioned. Possibly worse could be the emergence of other “Donald Trump types”, possibly from a military background, who are not narcissistic, womanizing, or a bully, who can mount a respectable campaign and win.

This person will be essentially a third party candidate rising above  the GOP’s ashes. Hmmm.