Archive for the ‘Republican Party’ category

In Comparison…

July 6, 2019

The “neo-conservative” foreign policies of the Trump Administration should remind Americans of George W Bush Administration’s hubris days, and where hubris can lead.  The Trump Administration has put forth some amazing policy initiatives and to date, none have yielded anything close to what the President advertised.

As a reminder,

  • “W” didn’t need regulations and deemphasized picking sound Department leaders.  Along comes Hurricane Katrina (not Bush’s fault) and the world got to see third world relief when FEMA couldn’t get out of its own way.  
  • 9/11 was arguably also not Bush’s fault but his administration had been dismissive of al Qaeda before the airplanes crashed. 
  • The invasion of Afghanistan was a positive Bush move but the morphing of the Afghan campaign into “nation building” was a decision made by amateurs. 
  • Not content with one miscalculation, the Bush team (read Vice President Dick Cheney), concocted a story about Iraq, its connection to 9/11 (there was none) and that Iraq was building nuclear weapons (it was not), and the Iraq invasion and Occupation proceeded. 
  • But not done with mega mess ups, Bush and company looked the other way on regulatory controls over the banking system.  Soon bank liquidity dried up and the world stood at the brink of a Depression Era contraction.  Hmmm.

The Trump white House, not to be outdone,

  • opened with a series of unforced errors as Trump seemingly attempted to undo anything and everything President Obama had overseen.  Americans got used to hearing “worst ever”, “ a complete disaster”, and “unfair”. 
  • Latin Americans, especially the “dreamers”, an educated Latin American group who were brought to the US as children were targeted for deportation.  Why? 
  • Muslims were next with visa severe restrictions. Why?
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership, a multi-lateral trade group, which would have given the US leverage in any subsequent trade or foreign policy dispute with China was rejected.  Why? 
  • The Paris Climate Agreement, the only tool the US possessed to help curb global green house increases, was scuttled.  Why?
  • Next came the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action where Iran’s nuclear development programs was halted, was not good enough for the Trump Administration.  Result: US unilateral withdrawal.  Why? 
  • And then came the tariffs.  Steel and Aluminum tariffs were introduced under national defense claims which were clearly unjustified and will in the future provided an bad example to any other country.  Why?
  • And more tariffs.  Canada and Mexico!  South Korea, Japan and India.  Europe and China followed, and then trouble arose. Both Europe and China are capable of tit for tat reciprocity which translates into higher prices for US consumers and reduced exports for American businesses. Why?

What is the common thread between Bush and Trump.  There are several:

  • Bush was never involved enough.
  • Trump is involved too much.
  • Both surrounded themselves with conservative/republican advisors who hosted extreme views about America’s “exceptionalism”.

IMO, President Trump naively assumed his real estate bully tactics would apply to foreign and domestic affairs.  Trump’s goals was primarily reelection while his family businesses prospered in the background.  The President has enlisted extreme advisors (Stephen Miller, Peter Navaro, Robert Litehaiser, John Bolton, and Larry Kudlow) who perform the detail work on unworkable ideas.  So what lies ahead?

Hmmm.

  • Trump’s Mexican (Latin American) policies are inadequate, immoral, and are not working.  The US needs workers and there is no process to ensure a steady flow.
  • Trade based upon punching the other country first, then negotiating back from this position does not work.  Trust disappears and global realities overwhelm unilateralism.
  • Both China and Russia represent global threats for which the strongest and most cost effective deterrent comes from a coalition of allies.  Trump has alienated most of our traditional allies.
  • Climate change represents the most serious global unknown and the US has abdicated any leadership role.  Consequences could lead to wars and civil rebellions.  Global trade could evaporate.

In short, President Trump, in just 2 1/2 years has set the table for potentially an even worse Presidency than George W Bush delivered.  In comparison, Bush was a decent (if dull light bulb) person, while Trump is a narcissistic, highly overrated bully.  But it is the factions within the conservative and republican ranks which have crafted the specifics of each President’s policies which are to be singled out. 

Defeating Donald Trump in 2020 is a must and returning all of Congress to a Democrat majority will be necessary to clean up the mess Trump has created. 

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Smoke Screen

May 31, 2019

For many who have lived in New York City, knowing what Donald Trump meant, was a no brainer.  His shenanigans were well know from tabloids and call in talk radio. 

If one paid attention to the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries, there was adequate information to gain understanding that a rudderless narcissist was about to bloom. 

And the 2016 Presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton should have answered any questions about how shallow, hateful, and self centered, candidate Trump was.

Seventeen months have now past in Trump’s Presidency, and no reasonable person should remain deluded that Trump will grow into the stature demanded by the “office”.   With Democrats in control of the House, the country is safe from any draconian legislation, and that is good.  Americans (or at least 65% of them) can sleep at night with the belief that 2020 will bring the end to Trump’s American nightmare.

But Americans must also come to realize that Donald J Trump has served as a “smoke screen” for Team Red’s special interest.  Trump the circus master has kept the focus on himself and thereby kept the American collective mind off the recognition that Republicans, funded by special interests have supported the President and enabled his most destructive behaviors. 

Now the President has made a move to bite the second hand that feeds these backers.  First the trade war with China makes no practical sense but now threatening tariffs on Mexican trade boggles the mind.  The ramifications will recoil across the country including most “red” States and therefore GOP legislators.  Not only are tariffs the wrong tool to “fix” the influx of Latin American refugees, Trump’s actions are a clear indicator to all other nations just what being a “friend” means to Trump… and his Administration.

The threat of tariffs as high as 25% on all Mexican exports to the US is so egregious that GOP legislators have no excuse to not act to stop the President. 

  • First, the tariff will be a tax on all Americans as prices of Mexican imported goods rise. 
  • Second, should Americans substitute automobiles or watermelon or avocados from Mexico with the same products from a different country, the economic impact upon Mexico could be devastating.  Does Trump and the GOP want a failed State of 80 million citizens on the southern border?

Trump’s motivation behind the tariff threat is unclear at this time.  If Americans are talking about the border and tariffs, however, they are not talking about the Mueller Report.  Hmmm.

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.   

Running To The Left

March 3, 2019

Political pundits are aghast that Democrat 2020 Presidential hopefuls are trying out “leftist” each other.  “The Green Deal”, “Medicare For All”, and “Free College Education” are slogans which can trigger the label “socialist”.  Republicans and President Trump smile and see a pathway to victory.  Why?

I think the reasoning goes as follows, 35% who identify as the President’s “base” would not vote for someone else regardless of what Donald Trump has done or will do.  So the task becomes attracting 15% more from the population in general.  The GOP’s reasoning is to play the “communism/socialism” card and create enough fear that otherwise sensible citizens will vote Republican.  Hmmm.

It is difficult to imagine any other strategy available to Republicans.  Could they run on “more walls”, “more green house gas emissions”, or “more tariffs paid for by US tax payers”?  For sure “abortion” and “another Supreme Court Justice” are Republican crowd pleasers but those promises are already foreseen in the 35%.  So, let’s try the socialist path.

Democrats need to take a deep breath and appreciate that “The Green Deal” is about protecting the environment for future generations not providing jobs, “Medicare For All” is about truly affordable healthcare for all Americans, not free healthcare, and “Free College Educations” is about producing a population that can think critically and possess the necessary skills to provide a living for themselves and their family.  In short, Democrats should be about helping the average person thrive and have a chance to see their children do even better.

Practically speaking, without a sweep of the Senate and House along with winning the Presidency there is no chance that the “Green Deal” or “Medicare For All” or “Free College Education” could be enacted into law.  So why promise something that arguably can’t be delivered? 

Aspirational objectives with promises of manageable incremental steps is more believable and less likely to scare voters.  Add to that commonsense trade objectives, a return to our time honored respect for immigrants, and a promise to return fiscal sanity to our nation’s finances should complete the list for Democrats.

Unfortunately this perspective does not include what candidates think is necessary to win the nomination (how each candidate can make themselves distinctive).  The notion of running far left in the primaries and then tacking towards the middle is an oft practiced tactic.  With social media as it is, this “extreme to middle” approach is open to unkind surprises.

Hmmm.

Midterms Assessment

November 13, 2018

The midterm election results should send a wake up call to both Republicans and Democrats. When either party answers the call, they will hear a disturbing message.  Many voters are confused over whether they more pro or anti President Trump or are their votes tied to party platforms (and results). 

Many voters have conflated the concept of being a Republican with being Pro-Trump and many other voters have conflated being a Democrat with being anti-Trump.  

Here’s why this is worrisome.

Republicans,  after having voted to repeal Obamacare over 90 times and having offered no suitable “replace” legislation, that is legislation containing “pre-existing condition” coverage, never the less, told voters that they were for “pre-existing conditions” coverage just the same.  Too many dependable Republican voters seemed to believe these politicians. Should voters believe that Republicans really do favor healthcare for all Americans?

And, how about tax cuts.  Republicans beamed about passing the “largest” tax cut in history (???) even though the tax cut gave bundles to corporations and the wealthiest Americans and crumbs to the average middle class worker.  Republicans then told voters that Democrats would raise taxes.  

Where is common sense?  The Republican tax cuts were unfunded and the cost associated with these corporate and super rich benefits are going directly to the Federal Debt.  Fiscal responsibility?

And speaking of deficits, Republicans have spoken with great energy (all throughout former President Obama’s years) about the Democrat’s reckless monetary management.  When asked about the tax cut driven increases in deficits, Mitch McConnell, with a straight face, said Republicans would fix the deficit with cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  What has Trump got to do with that?   Hmmm.

So the learning is – voters must separate Republican platforms (and track records) from President Trump.  There are plenty of reasons for people of good faith to be anti-Trump.  Pick one that is important to you, for example, Trump’s disregard for the environment, his war on immigrants, his foolish trade wars, or his despicable attitude towards women.  There are plenty more.  But look at what elected Republicans have done.

There may even be rational reasons why people may be pro-Trump (like “he keeps his promises”, he’s a man of action”, “he tells it like it is”, or “he cares about jobs”).  President Trump, however, does not tell the truth, is mean spirited against many who cannot defend themselves, and has clearly enriched his family businesses and those of his wealthy supporters.  Regardless, those who still like Donald Trump will do themselves a disservice if they do not also look beyond the Donald Trump personage and ask the simple question, “what has he and elected Republican Congress members done for me”?

Democrats did well in the 2018 midterms because enough people asked that question.  Across the country in districts where the President did well in 2016, Democrats won.  Why?  

The most likely reason is that Democrats spoke to issues important to voters and the Republican record on these same issues were not what voters thought best.

As the country looks towards 2020, Democrats need to further distill the key issues and put forward a clear and concise picture.  Healthcare, infrastructure (read jobs) investment, and campaign reforms (read transparency in campaign financing) are three areas to start with.  Let the Mueller investigation lead to its own conclusions and do not, I repeat, do not say the word “impeachment” before it is on most Americans’ tongues.

 

Pay Back?

September 17, 2018

Over this past weekend, a woman has come forward in an interview with the Washington Post, identifying Brett Kavanaugh as someone who groped her at a high school house party some thirty years ago.  Hmmm.

This revelation is sparking hopes among Democrats that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee might be stopped after all.  For many this is enough to call for celebration, for others this is enough to call out “fake news”.

The incident, even if true, ought not disqualify Kavanaugh.  His repeated denials might be seen as a character flaw (not telling the truth) but trying to have sex with another teenage is hardly aberrant behavior if this was an isolated event.  He was a youth himself and has had plenty of time to have seen the errors of his ways.  Who would like to throw the first stone?

So what’s the big deal?

Many point to Robert Bork’s rejection as a Supreme Court nominee in 1987 as the end of bi-partisan review of Supreme Court nominees and the beginning of purely partisan selections.  The Republican controlled Senate’s refusal to even hold hearings on Merritt Garland’s nomination in 2016 crossed the line of judicial fairness to gutter politics.  With Robert Bork one could argue with a straight face that Bork legal views lay outside the norms, but with Garland, the Senate would have faced a centrist.

Judge Kavanaugh doesn’t deserve this type of smear campaign even though his judicial views are viewed as right of Chief Justice Roberts.  Conservative groups, however, have worked diligently to gain a disproportional representation of their views.  Adding another very conservative justice to the Court could (many say, will) tilt the Supreme Court too far right and out of step with “most” Americans.  

So, will these new abuse charges hold up and represent “pay back” or will they be found lacking in merit?  Stay tuned.

The “I” And “P” Words

August 27, 2018

Some members of the news media continue to attempt making “Impeachment” and “Pelosi” subjects for the upcoming mid-term elections.  That is, these media reporters ask candidates their views on impeachment after these same reporters have asked about whether the candidate will support Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House should Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.  The cleverest candidates sense the land mines around both of these questions and find some innocuous, say nothing, comment hoping to move onto other questions.

For Pelosi, a “yes I support her” begs Republican opponents to toss innuendo after innuendo into the political debate thereby shifting attention from failed Republican policies to someone not running in the candidate’s district.  Strangely, the negative, “no I would not support her becoming speaker”  accomplishes about the same amount of distraction, in essence helping the Republican candidates escape defending Republican policies and the Trump’s Presidency.  Answering the Pelosi question leads no place prodcutive.

The Impeachment question is also unproductive but for different reasons.  First, the Mueller investigation has not issued a report and that begs the question, “on what grounds is an impeachment based”?  Second, speaking of impeachment now has the smell of political motivations rather than “high crimes and misdemeanors”.  Once again the subject turns from a totally unfit President to cheap, low level gutter politics.

Cooler minds can see that having Trump in the White House speaks for itself and the longer it speaks the more Democrats and Independents will turn out to vote in 2020.  In addition, were President Trump to be removed from office, next up would be President Pence who presents as much risk to our Democracy as the Donald.  Pence would be at home with a theocracy (or as he would say, religious freedom (providing it is his religion), and would rubber stamp any position his supporters propose (seeking to gain their financial help).   

The wise Democrat candidate needs to focus on policy issues (healthcare, education, jobs) while pointing out the pointing out the dangerous and ineffective GOP policies like the tax cut for the wealthy, exiting the Paris Environmental Accord, the whole bundle of tariffs including the shabby treatment of our largest trading partner Canada for example.

Should Democrats somehow take control of one or both houses of Congress, the risks presented by President Trump would be diminished although not eliminated.  America would be a safer place and the next two years could demonstrate the wrong headedness of GOP policies… for most voters.