Archive for the ‘new york’ category

The Dark Side Of Cruz and Trump

April 8, 2016

With New York as the next big primary delegate prize, an amazing yet frightening picture is emerging. Main stream Republicans are racing to support Ted Cruz in order to block Donald Trump from gaining the nomination.

Conservatives, that is real conservatives like Ted Cruz see the US quite differently from most everyone else. These conservatives seem to lack any capacity to comprehend income inequality and the hardships it brings to so many. Getting “government” out of the way and getting “tough” on undocumented workers will reignite America’s economic growth, they say. Hmmm.

Getting government out of the way, of course, includes repealing Obamacare, eliminating government departments (like Department of Education), and doing away with the “inconvenient” regulations which provide the rules businesses must follow. Cruz promises that jobs will grow practically on every tree when he is President. He neglects, however, to say how much these jobs will pay, nor why Americans will line up for the jobs currently performed by soon to be deported undocumented workers.

Another GOP theme this year deals with law enforcement. The conservative candidates promise to have law enforcement’s back. They point a finger at those politicians who have supported careful reviews of incidents where excessive force was suspected of having been used. For Ted Cruz, it is black and white, police are your friends, suspects are the enemy.

Exactly how much of Cruz’ campaign rhetoric he actually believes, of course, is debatable. That Cruz is a calculating, mean spirited, ego centric demagogue seems pretty clear. His policy statements could be self serving and aimed to simply build a support base. But there is no reason to believe that a President Cruz would walk away from his pronouncements on Obamacare, religious freedoms, immigration, and “neoconservative” foreign policy.

Donald Trump is different.

Trump has said some outrageous things. For example, black mailing Mexico in order for Mexico to pay for building a wall along the border, or stopping entry into the US for anyone who is Muslim (whether US citizen or not), or unilaterally renegotiating trade deals involving China, all masquerade as solutions designed to improve a hurting middle class.

In reality Trump’s proposals will just create more problems… if they were actually implemented… And there in lies the difference.  Trump is highly likely to walk away from these extreme views.  He is a business man after all.

Both candidates have spewed half baked ideas which are economically foolish and values wise bankrupt, but one candidate is backed by Americans who believe in Tea Party conservatism and the other who is backed by Americans who are sick and tired of income inequality, don’t know its cause, and see Trump as the only candidate who promises to try and rebalance the playing field.

What a mess.

For those who always look for a bright spot, this current GOP front runners situation presents a potential which might not be obvious. There is no longer a majority and genuine Republican Party in America. The Cruz segment, Tea Party or Freedom Coalition members, espouse economics which are dead ended mixed in with quasi religious values which allow an individual to pick and choose who they wish to disadvantages… with a clear conscience.

Relatively speaking more moderate GOP members find themselves handicapped with unattractive policies necessary to maintain their coalitions majority and looking at the wrong side of demographic trends. In America, the voices of gays, Hispanics, and women see the Cruz type Republicans unfavorably and will express this dissatisfaction at the polls.

For those who look for what can go wrong, Democrats without a strong and viable opposition represents only a slightly better economic policy option and within a short period of time could drive the ship of State onto the rocks.

But given the current candidates, is there really any other choice?

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New York’s Not So Finest

January 5, 2015

On Saturday, America got to see a moving and honorable tribute to a fallen public servant, NYPD Officer Wenjiun Liu. America also got to see sprinkled in the sea of blue, a dangerous rogue element. Without saying it, the Police Union showed gratuitously why unions can so easily go astray.

The gist of this story is that a number of police officers turned their backs on the televised image of Mayor Bill De Blasio when he spoke in eulogy of Officer Liu. This demonstration stood in contrast to the calls by the Mayor’s office to honor the death of Officer Liu and leave any dissatisfaction to the bargaining table.

The back turning demonstration has almost nothing to do with remarks De Blasio has made over recent police shootings in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York. Instead the turned backs are all about the stuck negotiation on a new police contract. No one should be fooled by anyone claiming these back turners were protesting the lack of police support. As usual it is all about money.

This situation has brought forward some very unpleasant thoughts. Were these back turners insubordinate? Would these back turners escalate their contract dissatisfaction and withhold other normal police routines? And, most fundamental, who is in charge, the Police Commissioner (and the chain of command) or a fifth column headed by the Union President?

Wage and benefit negotiations are complicated to say the least. Just about all unions have resisted any changes in benefits like healthcare cost sharing or reduced pensions. Police like firemen are public servants we depend upon every day. On one hand they deserve to be well treated, on the other hand, few people want to pay more in taxes. Finding the right balance of pay and benefits and voter willingness to support is not easy. A strong union is essential if the police force is to get a fair shake in negotiations. The problem arise when the “strong union” leaders try new tactics and go too far, not anticipating the collateral damage.

Patrick Lynch, head of New York’s Policemen’s Benevolent Society (the union) sees things differently. Life is about the contract and everything else is fair game as a means to obtain an acceptable contract. An honorable person should be able to separate an assassinated police officer’s funeral from hard nosed contract negotiation.

One must conclude Lynch has come up short on the honorable part.

Getting Ahead Of The Curve

October 26, 2014

Recently in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two different school districts shut down their highly successful high school football programs for at least the remainder of this year. These decisions followed revelations that there had been “hazing” incidents involving new football team members conducted by veteran players. As described, the incidents were nothing to be proud about.  Ending the practiced seemed appropriate. But shutting the program down? Was that necessary?

Both school districts emphasized their zero tolerance for this type of behavior and the need to send a clear message that such behavior would not be tolerated. In business terms, the school district’s actions were an attempt to get ahead of the curve of public opinion.  The school districts worried “wha if” these hazing incidents were to have become public knowledge or to have lead to even more unacceptable behavior.

The need to punish the entire team when only a part of the team were instigators, seems excessive. School officials point out, however, that football is an extracurricular event and not the main purpose of schools. Further, officials emphasize that hazing was entirely unnecessary and this behavior to is too close to “bullying” to allow to continue. Ending the season for some students who did not participate is a small price for teaching what is right.

The New Jersey and New York Governors together have taken somewhat similar preemptive action. Governors Christie and Cuomo announced a mandatory 21 day quarantine for all persons entering the US through Newark or JFK airports who had visited Ebola infected areas. A Democrat and a Republican gave their announcement the appearance of bipartisan politics. Hmmm.

On one hand, the idea that someone could enter the country carrying Ebola, only later to develop full blown symptoms is pretty ominous. In such densely populated areas as Northern New Jersey and especially New York City, “getting ahead of the curve” has an obvious popular appeal. No one will later claim that either Governor is not a leader and willing to take action.

On the other hand, health organizations have repeatedly said that the best defense against an Ebola outbreak in the US is to eradicate it in West Africa. Americans who volunteer for this work (as well as any other visitors) will face a mandatory 21 day quarantine on their return. Where would these people stay? Who would pay for this quarantine period’s expenses?

There are two consequences one should expect. First, returning volunteers will get creative on their return routing. Newark and JFK are not likely to be their choice of entry point. And full disclosure is even less likely to occur.

Second, the prospect of an additional 21 days away from their primary occupation will likely discourage potential volunteers from volunteering in the first place. Hmmm.

Unlike the football story, messing with medical advice, is not a wise long term position for politicians. Canceling a football season is small potatoes compared with controlling an infections disease. And what will these good Governors do when an airborne pandemic influenza breaks out in Europe and arrives in the US with ship and air travelers?