Archive for the ‘Democratic Party’ category

From Virus To Protests

June 2, 2020

Events in the past few weeks are enough to make your head spin.  Without saying so, the nation has had enough social distancing and face masks.  The call to open up and return daily life to something resembling normality is everywhere.  Public health officials make pleas to a largely not listening public.  The consequences of this new cavalier approach to combatting the Coronavirus are yet unknown.  Health officials predict there will be areas with sharp rises in infections and deaths to follow.  Given what can be seen all around us, most people, left to their own will power, will select the “easy” way out.  Hmmm.

And, then came the wake up call.

Thanks to cell phone video, George Floyd’s death this week in Minneapolis, suddenly there was no talk about Covid-19 but instead police brutality.  Senseless death jumped from nursing homes and meat packing factories to “being black” and being in police custody. 

Protests in Minneapolis morphed into looting and disorderly conduct.  Curfews were ignored and out of town protesters blossomed.  “George Floyd” became an icon and a chant protesters all across America learned and repeated.

But there is more.

Major cities from LA to New York City to Atlanta to Chicago to Washington, DC became unwilling hosts to protest groups.  George Floyd was the calling card, the protesters, however, often protesting quite different matters.  Looting, despite all the video cameras in service, flourished each night.  Gratuitous destruction of both public and private property was fair game too.  For what purpose one might ask?

One school of thought apologizes for these mobs’ behavior by pointing to the totally unnecessary 9 minutes the police officer kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck.  Brutality begets brutality, they say.  Others point out that a large fraction of the protesters are not black and many of the looters appear to be seeking items that can be quickly resold.  Hmmm.

Think about

  • burden of college debt
  • income inequality
  • healthcare availability
  • good paying jobs availability
  • affordable housing
  • racism

Each of these factors seem terribly unfair and not part of the American Dream yet each is a real event in younger American’s lives.  “Catch 22” abounds with this list.  If someone does not risk college debt, then the odds of getting a good paying job are dim.  Without a job, healthcare insurance is problematic, without adequate healthcare, bankruptcy is just an illness away.  Affordable housing is a challenge for most Americans and certainly all those earning below the average wage.  And all around the rich get richer… 

In most American cities, the demonstrations which begin as a “George Floyd March” are soon consumed with protesters with other issues also on their minds.  For them the deck is already stacked against them, so what is there to lose, they think.  

So, if one were to think about a national strategy to bring these many marches under control and soon to an end, what would be a wise approach?  How about government “dominating” protesters?  How about government simply using a little more tear gas or more rubber bullets, or more arrests and jail time?  Hmmm.

One would hope our elected representatives could understand that the marches and demonstrations (including lootings and arsons) are only loosely connected to George Floyd and are more aptly viewed as a storm which has been waiting to rage. 

The current Administration is incapable of dealing with this level of complexity and can boast experience only with subjects which can be deconstructed.  Analyzing complex social and economic problems is simply not in this Administration’s wheelhouse.  

What say about

  • Paris Climate Accord
  • Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Iran Nuclear Agreement
  • Trade War with China
  • Trade War with the rest of the world
  • Unfunded Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
  • Damning the WHO During a Pandemic

Hmmm.

Is Covid-19 Republican or Democrat?

March 6, 2020

The coronavirus, now named Covid-19, is threatening to upend the global economy and take the lives of many people.  The virus which started in China is now populating most countries around the world as it spread initially from travelers returning home from China, and now from locally infected persons to others.  This health emergency is just another reminder that the world has become a tightly knit place and acting otherwise is a fool’s mission.

Think about the prospect of taking a cruise vacation and then learn while at sea, that ports are closed to  your ship because there is an infected person onboard.  In the past month, one cruise ship was denied docking in many Asian ports.  Finally Cambodia welcomed the ship with open arms.  Passengers raced off the ship and instead of site seeing, caught air transportation to other parts of the world.  And yes, many of the passengers unknowingly transported the virus with them.

In another situation, Japan allowed a cruise ship to dock but not discharge any passengers.  Before the 14 day quasi-quarantine was over, Japan allowed the US to send transportation to evacuate American citizens.  Even though the evacuees were again quarantined an additional 14 days, infections spread outside the containment area.

One can say “America First”.  One can believe that America’s destiny is a matter of self determination and that life is a zero sum game.  One can believe that science and the scientific method are suspect and government expenditures towards science research is not a proper government responsibility.  All these beliefs are possible but their veracities are not probable.

These beliefs may have been rational in 1820, but not in 2020.   Similar to believing the earth is flat, denying today that our lives are part of global events is as ridiculous.  But does that make Covid-19 a product of Republican or Democrat thinking?

Of course the answer is neither.  Covid-19 is a mutated virus and certainly not the last pathogen that will spread around the world.  In 2020, the global economy is complicated and intertwined.  Simply arguing a return to life as in 1820s is foolish because it means asking Americans to adopt a dramatically lower standard of living while still being at risk of infection.

Covid-19 and other future pathogens happen with or without US involvement.  Going alone is like an ostrich putting its head in the sand.  For another example, the harmful aspects of global warming (for example, rising sea levels, more frequent violent storms, droughts) also do not require the US participation to occur.  

So an interesting question might be, which political party, republican or democrat might prefer to ignore global events?

OMG, Buttigieg and Steyer Out

March 2, 2020

Just when I learned how to spell Mayor Pete’s last name, the Buttigieg campaign has elected to suspend operations.  Mayor Pete joins Tom Steyer in calling it quits following the South Carolina primary.  The super Tuesday round of primaries should provide incite for the remaining candidates.  Hmmm.

Pundits have championed Joe Biden’s South Carolina victory and are calling the Democrat race now a two person contest, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.  I wonder what Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, or Amy Klobuchar are thinking?

IMO, it is far too soon to rule out Bloomberg, especially in view of the Covid-19 hysteria.  Not only does Bloomberg stand up well in comparisons with President Trump, ironically he looks even stronger as an experienced chief executive versus the other Democrat hopefuls.  Bloomberg is the only candidate with management experience.

Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are caught in the middle, like in a high/low poker game.  They have good hands but not good enough to win and too good to just quit.  What should they do?

For the past three years, President Trump has scored “victory” and “victory” by tearing something down or apart.  Each time he claims a victory and claims that all of his predecessors failed.  Think for a moment, what has President Trump built?

Democrats would do well thinking about this observation.  Of course President Trump is a coarse, foul mouthed, narcissistic cad but he is far more than that.  He is a master of bait and switch and sooner or later his business ventures fail.  Democrats need to nominate someone who can put government back together in a way that functions.  Class warfare won’t work, so that narrows the options.

Super Tuesday may clarify the list of candidates or at least the voters may shed more light on who will be around at convention time.

Hmmm.

It’s Congress, Stupid

February 29, 2020

The Democrat Primary is exposing a national broad based fault line.  Democrats are torn between choosing “reform” candidates versus a moderate “do it like we used to do it” candidate in order to solve the grave problems Democrats see.  If ever there was a search for the “silver bullet”, Democrats are showing the way. 

Progressives are speaking about the evils of wealth and corporate interests and why those segments should pay for new entitlements such as universal healthcare for all and free college education.  Moderates, meanwhile, focus upon returning America roughly to the place where it was when Donald Trump assumed the office.  Moderates promise they can unite the party, beat President Trump, and fix Washington.  Hmmm.

Almost every experienced economist appear flabbergasted with Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” which includes ending private insurance and mandatory participation in Medicare.  Healthcare represents about 1/3rd of the US economy and fixing healthcare will be a complicated process to say the least. Free college education is a second attractive proposal which is loaded with hidden traps.  In both cases, where is cost control and efficacy measures?

We live in strange and interesting times.  President Trump has made such a mess of his office that one must be amazed that there would be any confusion on whether Trump should have a second term,  (Trump supporters, of course think otherwise.)  For example, the current coronavirus threat has exposed everything why Donald Trump is unfit to be President. 

  • The coronavirus is a world issue, global cooperation is a must.  Trump shuns global cooperation. 
  • Disease control is an on going activity requiring study and preparations ahead of the actual outbreak.  Trump has cut funding for most of the government agencies involved in disease control. 
  • And the elephant in the room is that fight against the coronavirus requires science and a scientific approach.  Trump routinely dismisses science, scientist, and science methodology.  Hmmm.

So why aren’t all Democrats seeking a less controversial moderate candidate that can win in November?

  • One reason is a healthy one.  There have been close to 30 Democrats who have expressed interest in being the nominee.  Democrat voters are fortunate to have such a wide field of candidates.  Isn’t this much better than a smoke filled room where political bosses make the pick?

 

  • The second reason is a matter of concern.  Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren appear to have tapped into a voter segment who do not want government done the way it was in the past.  These voters appear to feel that while President Trump may be a buffoon and may be doing a poor job, their particular lives are unaffected, just as they were during President Obama.  For these voters healthcare costs are too high or coverage too slim.  Also, for many, college education is the way to improve ones economic position.   Yet, under current policies they are looking forward to insecure jobs prospects and a huge debt as outcomes of college years.  To this group of voters, moderate candidates simply do not care to upset the status quo and therefore will do nothing for them.

This leads to a worrisome outlook.  Suppose Sanders gets the nomination.  Will his Medicare for All and free college tuition produce enough votes to defeat Trump?  Unlikely.  Suppose Sanders does not get the nomination and the nominee is a moderate.  Can that candidate unite the party and turn out sufficient vote in November to defeat President Trump?  Maybe but maybe not.

  • The last troubling observation is the growing tendency of Americans to look to the President as someone who can fix what is “wrong”.  To be sure, the President can set a tone and certainly can be important in implementation of new laws.  But, it is Congress that has the sole Constitutional responsibility to enact laws.  Unless the Congress is aligned with progressive ideas, any President will lack support for the changes Sanders and Warren supporters seek.

Affordable healthcare and college education are reasonable aspirations.  Both are not free and must be paid for in some way.  Unless America is ready for a dictator, those elected to Congress must carry first the banners of universal healthcare and “free” college education. 

Choosing a Presidential nominee ought to reflect the belief that

  • that person can manage as well as lead,
  • that person can surround themself with the best and brightest, and
  • that person will work hand in hand with Congress to translate all American’s wants and needs into law.

It’s Congress, Stupid.

Impeachment Blues

January 20, 2020

Tomorrow the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J Trump begins.  Las Vegas odds must be in the President’s favor given what Senate Republicans have said so far.  President Trump’s supporters, however, are all over the place on why the President should not be convicted.  (Remember the Impeachment boat has already sailed, President Trump is now the third President in US history to have been impeached.  All that is left is whether 2/3rds of the Senate will vote to remove the President from office.  Hmmm.)

The impeachment and the trial never needed to happen.  Had the President expressed regret over his extortion attempts towards the Ukrainian President (like, I was only interested in stemming corruption in the Ukraine and in my excitement I mentioned the Bidens.  I should not have said that.)  With a mea culpa, Democrats would have lost the indignation which the President’s “perfect phone call” claim elicited.  But mea culpa was never the path the President would pursue.

So, there will be a trial and Republicans will defend and Democrats will prosecute.  Listening to sound bites, Republican attempts to exonerate the President seem far fetched.  What planet are they living on?

Abuse of Power” is not a crime, Republicans say.  In other words, there is no statute that defines what is an abuse of power, so the President violated no law.  Hmmm.  Further, Republicans add, “the military aide was delivered, no harm, no foul”.  

Obstruction of Congress” is also not a crime.  President Trump considered the House investigation as a political act and he directed his executive branch to ignore the House and get on with business.  Hmmm.

Democrats see the impeachment quite differently.  In Democrat’s view, the President stepped far over the line by concocting a scheme where the Ukrainian Government would be extorted by holding up Congressionally approve aide and to add insult to injury, President and other Administration top players would snub the Ukrainian leaders… unless the Ukrainian Government announced publicly an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden.  Seeking a foreign government to, in essence, provide Trump aide in the 2020 election is clearly out of bounds (I think).

The Impeachment Blues will begin as Republicans attempt to deny there are grounds for impeachment, and therefore there is no onus to convict.  Think about that.  Republicans are saying that “anything goes with future Presidents seeking help from foreign countries like China, Russia, or whomever.”

Republicans have already sullied their brand with a defective tax cut, immoral border and immigration policies, and deficits topping $1 trillion which our grandchildren will inherit.  One might argue that not convicting the President is par for the course.

Voters must listen carefully to the Senate proceedings.  President Trump has a much different view of the Presidency than past Presidents had.  Looking around the world, it does not take much effort to see so many countries tilting towards authoritarian leaders since open and free societies can be “so messy” to govern. 

Trump’s impeachment will stand as a clear line in the sand that repeat behavior will earn the next President another impeachment too.  

What’s Happening With Pete?

October 21, 2019

Barack Obama had no right to expect he could land the Democrat Presidential nomination back in 2008.  Who was Obama, and what is there about a “community organizer” and first term US Senator that makes one worthy of the Presidential nomination?  Who knows, but it happened.  

President Obama certainly had a lot to learn when he not only received the nomination, but also when he beat Republican John McCain to become President.  

Historians are still measuring the Obama years before assigning Obama some ranking from our best President ever to our worst President of all times.  It is safe to say that wherever President Obama’s years land, the Obama years were more successful than George W Bush even though both Presidents were at their hearts “good persons”. 

Comparing President Obama and President Trump will unlikely test historians.  Up to this point, President Obama showed more character and executive skills than we have seen from President Trump.  President Obama did not get every one of his foreign policy decision right but  preliminary comparisons with President Trump are favorable.  And domestic policies favor President Obama even more.  Fast forward to 2019 and one might responsibly conclude that most Democrat candidates should have good chance running against President Trump. 

Democrat Presidential candidate leaders, Joe Biden (age 76), Elizabeth Warren (age 70) and Bernie Sanders (age 78) collectively score about 70% of the preferences expressed in polls.  South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has about 6% popularity.  Does this suggest that when the dust settles, the Democrat nominee will be someone 70 years or older?

Some say age should not be a factor but too often what they actually mean is former Vice President Biden, Senators Sanders or Warren are not too old to become the Democrat standard bearer.  I wonder whether at age 37, Mayor Pete is not too young but just right to snatch the nomination?

Why would anyone speculate about Buttigieg when there are seasoned pros to pick from?  Age, personal energy, and perceived electability might become factors.  Like goldilocks, however, “not too old, not too progressive, not same old, same old” might just be the most attractive in the end.  

There are still too many Democrats in the field in order to make a clear call on where the crowd will go when (and if) Biden or Sanders or Warren cannot make the sale for themselves as the nominee.  But in 2008 candidate Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses against most expectations.  Will Mayor Pete do the same?

Healthcare’s Inconvenient Truth

August 20, 2019

Democrats have been trying to make “healthcare” the 2020 Presidential election campaign theme.  “Medicare for All” and “Public Option” have been packaged as the banner the party should hoist against President Trump.  But for many, these words evoke fears of what they might be giving up if the Government is asked to provide healthcare for all residents.

To be sure there is no guarantee that an expanded “Medicare” healthcare system would provide trouble free healthcare for all.  Maybe the question should be “would Medicare for All be worse than the patchwork of private insurers currently providing healthcare”?  And, if America is such an exceptional country as so many conservative proclaim, why would it be that 20 or so other countries including Germany, France, the UK, Canada, and Japan provide excellent healthcare for all the residents at half the cost per person than the US?

In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, the average cost of healthcare coverage for a family of four was $22,900 per year.  Think about that.  The minimum wage of $7.50 yields and annual income before taxes of $15,600, and the proposed $15 per hour yields $31,200 (after paying healthcare insurance cost, where’s food and lodging costs?).

The Kaiser Family Foundation report also said the $22,900 cost had increased 56% from 2008! Do you know anyone who pay has increased 56% in 10 years?

There are clearly three issues with US healthcare,

  • what’s covered (like pre-existing conditions), 
  • who’s covered (universal coverage or only if one can afford insurance), and
  • cost (can someone afford the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles).  

Until the cost is addressed, what’s covered and who’s covered will drive up uninsured Emergency Room usage (which ironically drives up the overall healthcare costs further).

In a few words, healthcare is about providing healthcare services at world class cost, qualify, and availability.  That should be a banner all Democrats could run under.

Why Should Mr/Ms “X” Be President?

July 14, 2019

Hillary Clinton should have been President but she managed to allow defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory.  Instead of an annoying “triangulation” leader, America got instead a narcissistic, rudderless, bully.  Clinton may have been no George Washington, but Donald Trump has set new standards for the worst America has to offer.

With the 2020 election just ahead, Democrat Presidential candidates (all 24 of them) are vying for voter attention and ultimately the Democrat nomination.  So far bold, progressive policies have been the “go to” differentiator judging from what the candidates are saying in debates and on TV.  “Medicare For All”, “Free College Education”, or “Middle Class tax cuts” are examples.  Hmmm.

Each candidate has faced with a similar dilemma, why me and not the other candidate?

Voters must, however, be more circumspect.  None of these promises will be possible with the Senate in one party’s control and the House in the other party’s.  Even if Democrats were to win control of both houses, gaining widespread public support would be tough and without public support, even Democrats will hesitate to move on some of the more progressive proposals out of fear of losing their Congressional seat in the next election.  

And what if the economy is falling apart due to the current trade wars?  Or, the Middle East erupts into conflict based upon our current Iranian policies?  Or floods, natural catastrophes, or terrorist attacks occur?  There just might be no national energy for making large social change in the midst of other pressing problems.

So, picking the Democrat candidate ought to be focused upon

  • Who can govern

  • Who can govern in difficult and uncertain times

  • Who can balance domestic and foreign affairs

  • Who can bring an Administration of skilled and talented people together to work on America’s problems

Hmmm.

Liberals Attack Biden

June 3, 2019

There are currently a lot of candidates running for the 2020 Democrat Presidential nomination.  Over 23 and still room for more.  One candidate, however, has a huge lead.  That candidate is Joe Biden.  Hmmm.

Each of the Democrat hopefuls has been searching for ways to gain attention and increase their standing in opinion polls.  Elizabeth Warren has offered policy after policy (read regulation).  Kamala Harris has put forward her favorites.  Kristin Gillibrand has even defended her past attacks on former Senator Al Franken over #MeToo incidents. But attacking Joe Biden as not liberal enough makes one wonder what these candidates are thinking.

Of course one can understand that the size of Biden’s lead could close out many of the other candidates before the race has hardly begun.  But common sense would suggest that “being too liberal” is not the surest way to a November 2020 Democrat win.  Even more obvious, Joe Biden stands for (and has stood for) centrist thinking which when compared to Trump and the current crop of GOP legislators, appears very liberal indeed. Slinging the charge “not liberal enough” makes no sense.

Biden may not be the best Democrat candidate, and even if elected President, may not be the best President possible.  There should be no question, however, that Joe Biden will be a far better President than Donald Trump.

Consider the absolute mess President Trump is creating each day. Trump’s divisive domestic policies championing false religious freedom claims or stimulating coal, oil, and gas production while looking the other way on renewables, is short sighted and destructive.  On the international stage, the trade wars with China, Mexico, and potentially with other countries will upset global trade, slow global growth, and in the end cost American consumers a small fortune.  Thanks to Trump, international relations are in tatters and future prospects are no better.  There will be so much to fix in the next Administration that Americans need to focus upon a rounded, broadly experienced leader.

Democrat primary contenders ought focus upon showing their individual broad set of skills.  One (or, two or three) issue candidates may appear to have sizzle, but the next President will have such a mess to clean up that broad leadership experience will be necessary.  

“Liberals” certainly include Biden if the GOP opposition is Donald Trump.

Writing Posts Is Not Easy

May 13, 2019

Well into the third year of President Trump, it is not easy to publish new and original posts.  In the opening months of the Trump Administration, each day brought one more audacious event after another.  Posting something that reflected a Trump policy which was demonstrably ill advised was a “holy cow” event.  Now the crude, rude, and of course, incorrect Presidential statements do not surprise and have become predictable. 

Regaining the Center, dating from the George W Bush years, aims to expose and comment upon hypocrisies which others may have not yet called out.  Punditry along with newsworthy press coverage, however, are all over President Trump and never let one of his distasteful utterances go unnoticed.  What is left for Regaining the Center?

IMO, America made a serious mistake in electing Donald Trump.  To be sure Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate too, but Clinton’s flaws were well within the bounds of sound governance.  President Trump has had virtually no foreign or domestic policy action which can be yet traced to positive outcomes.  From his “big beautiful wall” to “I love tariffs” with stops in between supporting this dictator or that one or stiffing one long time ally or another, President Trump has thrown more muck at the proverbial wall and none have achieved his promised outcomes.

(Some may cite Trump’s tax cuts as a smashing success.  Closer inspection, however, shows no connection between promised outcomes and what has actually taken place with those who received the lion share of the tax benefit.  The cost of the tax cut is being sent to our children and theirs since the tax cut is unfunded.)

All Presidents experience domestic or foreign policy failures.  Despite the best of intentions, world events do not always go as predicted.  Most Presidents, however, surround themselves with competent mainstream advisors and pursue incremental change, largely because the world is a very complicated place.  Not Donald Trump.

  • The Mexican border wall is dealing with the wrong end of the immigration problem.  Why are central Americans seeking refugee status and how can those causes be mitigated?
  • Securing new manufacturing jobs would be wonderful if that were economically possible.  Repatriating manufacturing jobs which have gone to China (or other lower wage countries) is a non-starter because the US cost to manufacture (largely wage driven) is too high.
  • Denying climate change is both dangerous for future generations but in denying, the President is refuting science.  Denial teaches science our youth that education is not important.  This dangerous example is the hallmark of second rate countries.
  • Bi-lateral trade agreements run counter to reality.  The world is complicated and trade arrangements must be flexible enough to anticipate apparent irrationalities from trading partners.  For example, religious or ideological interferences come and go, and consequently two specific trading partners might go to war and ask for the US to side with one of them.  Trade agreements where the US gets most of what it seeks and so do the other trading partners better insulates against unforeseen global changes.

Today North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela are hot spots getting hotter.  Under Trump, other countries that could be useful in resolving tensions have been alienated and are content to stand on the sidelines.

And geopolitically, China and southeast Asia represents the largest area potential trouble and future conflict.  Where is the US?  Does day dreaming sound right?  The US has allowed a trade policy disputes to erode into a trade war with consequences on Wall Street and Americans pocketbook.

Regaining the Center offers a safe port in this Trump-made storm.  The next two years culminating in the November 2020 elections provide the opportunity to reset America’s political compass.  Voters need to recognize the folly the Trump Administration and its GOP enablers have put forth.  Choosing candidates who will promise a “center” road platform and who will endeavor to work on real problems not phony political claims should be the goal.

Since no candidate is likely to speak entirely candidly (most seek to be all things to all people), the candidate pointing towards the center is probably the safest bet.