Archive for the ‘scott walker’ category

Unforced Errors

September 22, 2015

This morning, following a weekend of political gaffs by several GOP hopefuls, Republican pundits and apologist are lamenting the withdrawal of Governor Scott Walker. Walker withdrew after his poll numbers dropped below 1% reaching almost the same level as his funding accounts. Walker had been conducting a national campaign while he frittered away a substantial Iowa lead. There in lies an important message for other candidates. If your campaign is suppose to go through Iowa, make sure it does a respectable job even if you are not destine to win.

Instead Walker focused on building a national staff and breezed around acting as if he was above the fray of every day retail politics. He also built his campaign around the narrow plank of Union busting as opposed to something positive. Frankly the world has not lost much in his campaign suspension. Remember Scott Walker would not confirm that the thought the earth was more than 5,000 years old.

Ben Carson broke into jail on Meet The Press. He volunteered that he could not recommend a Muslim to be President but depending upon the individual Muslim, he might vote for that person for a lesser job, like for Congress. On one hand this speaks to Carson’s sincerity and on the other his naivety. The only acceptable answer is religion does not count as long as the candidate is qualified and their policies are acceptable. Religion, or the lack of any religion is expressly prohibited as a test for public office in the Constitution.

Donald Trump lost an opportunity earn a “statesmanship” badge when a questioner claimed President Obama was a muslim. Instead Trump ignored these allegations and later said it was not his job to defend the President. Hmmm. If you are a Democrat, you can’t hide your glee that Trump is still leading the GOP pack.

Carli Fiorina made a dramatic pronouncement on Planned Parenthood during the debate and got her facts all wrong. For the pro-life choir, it made no difference. She was speaking to them.

The lesser names, like Huckabee, Santorum, and Bush each picked contradictory targets. Huckabee jumped on the Kim Davis bandwagon and hitched his “religious freedom” kite to it. Religious freedom is a nebulous right that if one claims their religious view prevents them from adhering to some law, it’s ok. I wonder whether a Muslim’s beliefs count too? And this guy wants to be President?

Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush want to go a le carte with Pope. Since the Pope’s views on global warming don’t fit the GOP take on this subject, the Pope’s still a great person but they don’t listen to him on climate or monetary matters. Hmmm.

Oh, and Ted Cruz is still full speed ahead for a government shutdown.

The immensity of the hole the GOP is digging one candidate at a time is impressive. GOP leaning pundits are now waking up to their plait. There are few candidates in the current field who have currency to turn this around. Marco Rubio has been far more careful with his public statements. John Kasick is clearly the most experience executive with conservative credentials. And the seven dwarfs (Graham, Pataki, Gilmore, Paul, Christie, and Jindal, ok just six) can’t mount a credible campaign separately or together.

Following the 2016 elections GOP bigwigs gathered and concluded they needed to modulate their rhetoric so as to not alienate so many voters. No one proposed they reexamine their policies and confirm their policies were right for the times. The problem with the current GOP field is not their answers to specific questions, it is their fundamental policies on subjects like women’s rights, sexual orientation, taxation and economic wealth distribution, foreign policy, and healthcare for beginners.

The GOP seems more in love with the idea of being President than what policies are appropriate for the country as a whole.

Why John Kasich?

August 9, 2015

The GOP Presidential nomination jamboree is underway and several salient points have been written in the sky. The GOP still seems to favor only the rich, is still carrying the albatross of out of dates economics, a bankrupt social agenda, and numerous gender bags, and above all, Republicans still want their cake and eat it too.

Of course, this statement does not apply to all Republicans. It applies, however, to most of the current 16 declared candidates given their stated positions.

With so many candidates, the media becomes a necessary evil if one wants to vet this crowd. The media brings its own bias and filters the candidate’s words from their perspective.  So we must be cautious.

Most of the candidates would prefer to keep their heads low, wear some nice clothes, and appear Presidential. Policy statements most candidates believe can only hurt them in the primary if they speak to the general election audience. Reality is, however, one cannot run for President unless one wins the Republican primary.  As a result, candidates make choices and we hear some unbelievable things.

Marco Rubio who in most respects looks like a fresh new face teaming with boundless energy. He should appeal to a large demographic on that basis alone. Rubio, however, thinks (correction, believes strongly) that pregnancy, even by rape or incest, needs to be seen through to birth. In Rubio’s eyes, no women has a right to end a pregnancy for any reason. In other words, there is one set of rules for men and one for women. Hmmm.

With as many as 70% of Americans disagreeing with Rubio’s extreme views, a President Rubio is not likely to get to act upon these beliefs. Congress won’t pass such a law and the Courts wouldn’t find it Constitutional either. So maybe he thinks he is on safe ground? Who knows?  Voters will wonder about what other issues Congress may pass that a President Rubio’s religious beliefs might favor?

Jeb Bush has resisted saying quite as “belief based” statements but our memories can recall Terri Shiavo and her death bed intervention by Bush from his Governor’s residence.

Scott Walker has been equally uncommittal. In the past, Walker has had trouble answer questions like how old the earth really is (5000 years is not the correct answer).

So along comes Donald Trump and now not only do the candidates have to worry about the snooping media, they have a bull in the china shop amongst them. Trump has cleverly used explosive issues and controversial statements to separate himself from the pack. In some polls, Trump has a two digit lead over his next rival. Hmmm.

While most pundits saw Ronald Reagan as too old and unskilled to become President, the public did not. Trump’s unvarnished approach and oozing confidence are standing clearly out as attractive when Republican voters look at their options. The GOP establishment on the other hand want nothing to do with Donald Trump.  Hmmm.

So far there is little to “love” about Walker, Bush, and Rubio and much to worry about them if they were to get the keys to the Presidency. Who would be the President?

Currently polling about 3.5% in the polls, Ohio Governor John Kasich has made an early positive impression. He has signaled that he will not pursue the “crazy”, the evangelicals, or the ultra conservative voters. Unlike Bush, Kasich has no known questionable baggage. Unlike Walker, Ohio has weathered the economic storms and appears on sounder economic footings than Wisconsin. And, unlike Rubio, Kasich has governed and has real executive experience. And to date, Kasich has said nothing ridiculous or acted outrageous like Trump. Instead, Kasich has acted Presidential.

It is still a long way to the GOP nomination. Kasich, if his campaign catches hold, will have plenty of chances to move to the dark side, or he might just emerge as a competent, moderate GOP nominee.

14 Candidates, 14 Blueprints?

July 1, 2015

There are 14 announced Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential nomination. Most likely there will be 16 and that is leaving out Mitt Romney. What could each of these candidates be thinking will be their blueprint for success?

Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum ran last time and might have some idea about how they would alter their previous losing “god is my friend” campaign strategies without abandoning their former supporters.  Good luck.

For the rest, will they follow Mitt Romney’s broad drive hard to the right during the primaries and then veer back to the center for the national election… and do it with a straight face as if no one has been following the primary campaign?

Donald Trump sort of ran last time but he has already demonstrated he has no clue on how to run for President so we must assume he is running for some new TV show.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are not serious about running for 2016. While they put on a game face,the upcoming months will be a turn up for 2020 and 2024. Their current views are so unique that they cannot even hope for a 2016 VP nod.

Ben Carson, George Pataki, and Carli Fiorina will mount serious, issue based candidacies but low national name recognition coupled with low funding will essential eliminate their chances.

John Kasich and Lindsay Graham are competent candidates who are eying a deadlocked convention. A Bush, Walker, Rubio deadlock would open the convention to who else. John Kasich is less well known than Graham but comes from a State with more electoral votes. A deadlock, of course, opens the gates wide for Mitt to reappear. Hmmm.

Bush, Walker, and Rubio must figure out how to separate themselves from each other? How will these candidates try to gain the nomination without also putting a large hole in their national race hopes? Bush seems to be betting on his “Presidential” look and feel, strong, steady, unflappable. Rubio sees his best chance on looks and generational difference. Rubio, however, must win Florida and some other big State to make GOP leaders think Bush cannot win in November. Walker has remained relatively quiet up to this point. He looks like he will be the Bible thumping, tough on unions candidate, something Bush and Rubio will have a hard time matching.

Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie entered the race this week. Both have lack luster records in their home States (Louisiana and New Jersey) and both were considered hot commodities several years ago but have seen their national images fade recently. Both must be hoping for an improbable win in an early primary and then somehow lasting until there is a deadlocked convention. Hmmm.

Jindal is speaking out for religious rights and against the GLBT community. Good luck with that approach.

Christie has called himself the “say it as it is”, “tough talk” candidate. He has no foreign policy experience but is sure President Obama is wrong in his policies. Christie is also a “no new taxes” and even better, “a tax reform based upon tax cuts” candidate. While Christie is formidable talker, there is no way he can hide these positions from tax cuts for the rich and attacks on entitlements. It is a blueprint but not one that is likely to build a winning house.

Waking Up Unions

June 16, 2015

Most people reading this post’s title will immediately think, “oh its about time Unions got their backs up and protected their rights and their jobs”. Well that is sort of what this post is about but it has an entirely different twist.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has provided a case book method for bringing public sector unions to heel. (1) While running for office, do not mention unions as a problem waiting to be fixed. (2) Once in office, move quickly and target only non-police and fire public sector unions (divide and conquer). (3) After the heat dies down, target all other unions by changing State law to a “right to work” State. Quick and efficient.

Wisconsin public service unions never figured out what was happening or why. To protest, unions resorted to the time honored practice of marches and demonstrations. Apparently union leadership did not recognize that much of Wisconsin voters did not understand why State employees should have pay and working conditions so much better than the average worker. Hmmm.

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade proposal is providing another example of unions out of touch with current times. Listening to union representatives crow about having defeated fast track authorization for President Obama, one can only ask, “tell me why again?”

Unions respond, “we want a better deal, one that preserves American jobs”.

At first this seems eminently reasonable. Why should the US make any trade agreements that syphon American jobs away? The problem is no deal does not prevent the economic migration of US jobs to lower wage countries. When that happens, Americans lose their jobs full stop.

European countries have instituted various types of labor protections should a business want to reduce local labor or even in the event of full plant closure. These countries impose a cost upon the business for each job lost. Part of the money goes to the worker and part goes to fund “retraining” programs. These costs make businesses think carefully about outsourcing or taking large risks which might endanger the businesses’ long term health.

(In truth it also encourages businesses to not expand employment until they absolutely must. Opportunistic employment, like we see in the US oil industry where many are hired when the sun shines and let go when oil prices fall, is not seen in Europe.)

The obvious first step for US labor is to begin dialog with businesses and acknowledge the high cost legacy pay and benefits represents to US business’ globally. Negotiating two tier wages and benefits has been tried in many situation and is worthwhile expanding. Businesses, however, would prefer to de-certify existing unions or block the certification of new ones. In that manner, businesses could hire and fire with impunity.  This behavior begs the need of Federal statues.

A longer shot but potentially more powerful would be for unions to shape public opinion especially around businesses who employ greedy hiring practices or give workers a poor deal. Think about the many consumer goods which carry special labels such as “sustainable”, “organic”, or “does not contain x, y, or z.

Consumers, therefore, should be capable of understanding that company X has reduced American labor, put the profit in their pockets, and given nothing to either the laid off worker or the consumer.  What should the consumer do?  Hmmm.

Disney recently began a practice of importing lower wage workers to replace home grown workers at their Amusement parks. While there can be no argument that replacing Americans with “better” foreign workers at the same pay and benefit levels, outsourcing work by importing lower wage workers seems over the top. And, what would Mickey Mouse say?

Of course not all workers are victims.  Anyone who observes government employees at city, county, State or Federal levels cannot help but notice that over the years these workers gain weight, slow down, and often get sick at very high rates. These are people to be sure but low productivity in the private sector results in business going out of business.

On one hand, blatant disregard for workers as Disney has shown should receive a public’s disapproval vote through lower attendance. On the other hand, unions truly interested in providing productive and competitive workers needs to work with companies on adopting new productivity tools and well as continuous worker training. If necessary, unions should insist upon adequate separation pay for displaced workers as well as funds for retraining.

Blocking the TPP and then blasting about it is a great disservice to union members and to the country as a whole.

The Blame Game

May 27, 2015

It is very early in the GOP Presidential nominating process but the blame game has already begun. This should be no surprise since the current 7 announced candidates are expected to double if not triple before a nominee is selected. Hmmm.

Bobby Jindal has said that Rand Paul is “unsuited to be commander-in-chief”. (Does it take someone also unfit to recognize another?)

Rand Paul says, gratuitously, that GOP hawks are responsible for ISIS. (If Paul is referring to Bush supporters. he is spot on.)

Carlie Fiorina has selected Hillary Clinton as her target and in the process has separated herself from the pack. (This will last until the rest decide she is doing too well and blame will come Carlie’s way.

Rick Santorum announced today he was in the race. The 2016 Rick Santorum version is for the middle class so it is unclear at this point who Rick will blame.

Rick Perry is rumored to be announcing this weekend. Who cares who Rick blames, it will be a hoot to hear him try and put two sentences together.

Lindsay Graham will announce this week also his supporters say. Lindsay is a long time “blame gamer” who may not realize that Rand Paul includes Lindsay in the GOP hawk cohort.

George Pataki (who?) will really need to become creative in the blame game since his days as New York Governor are well behind him and so what else has he got to say?

Ted Cruz has been relatively silent of late. This is probably a wise strategy until he can better assess his GOP rivals.

Jeb Bush would very much like to remain silent and somehow get anointed (as Hillary would too). Both Jeb and Hillary will not shy away from blame at some point but don’t want to go negative so soon. Both would prefer to let others throw the mud and for them to remain the Presidential looking candidate.

Marco Rubio wants the image of a clean cut, fresh voice but when the Florida primary rolls around the much anticipate show down with Jeb Bush the race will require some “blame” assignment.

Scott Walker likes his chances in Iowa and maybe New Hampshire but has hinted he may avoid the Florida primary. This could change but his reasoning is that both Rubio and Bush are much better known in Florida. Hmmm.

The irony of the GOP plight is that with so many candidates how can voters differentiate? (Hint, blame the opponent for something).  Even worse, the traditional “speaking to the base” approach the GOP used in 2012 reminded the entire voting population of some “out of touch” GOP platform positions. Immigration, women’s rights, and senior’s security (code words for Social Security and Medicare) can come home to bite the GOP candidate in the general election.

So, what’s left to campaign on?

Blame the other GOP candidate for something. Hmmm. Should be interesting.

Mapping The Political Beast

March 28, 2015

In today’s US political world, we find most animals with descriptive labels such as “right wing” or “conservative”, and “liberal” or “progressive”. The first group are found on the “Republican” side while the other on the “Democrat” side. This description envisions a line where at one end is the ultra conservative and the other end hosts the ultra liberal.

Why then is it so difficult for Democrats to understand Republicans?

Some say differing views on religion get in the way.  Others cite a fear any organized government and therefore seek explicit limits on the government’s reach. Still others question the role of fact and science and prefer to rely on some “expert” who sees life as they do.

There are also those who do not trust the common person with governmental responsibilities. Rather, this group feels that only those insulated from the everyday need to scratch out a living or possess sufficient education can make the unbiased decisions involved in government. And of course there is the opposite group that fears government by the few and firmly believe the long term is in the safest hands if those hands are the common man’s.

It is with this in mind that I recall writings which transpose the typical political map, conservatism running through a supposed neutral position called “moderate” to the opposite directions labeled 
liberal or progressive into an x/y system. On the x axis would be conservatism and liberalism at the extremes. On the y-axis would be authoritarianism and libertarianism. Hmmm.

Authoritarian politicians can be either conservative or liberal. What would be similar would be their belief that Government could and should impose authority.  For example, authoritarians tend to be dogmatic and would tend to be favorable to policies expressed by religions.

The libertarian pole is quite interesting. Libertarians have a strongly developed view that certain matters are outside the purvey of government. These issues stem from a personal view of personal freedom and reject someone else imposing their views on others.   Libertarians typically believe that an individual can do anything unless expressly ruled out by law (while authoritarians believe just the opposite).

Conservatives see the world as inherently difficult to govern. As a consequence, governance should remain fixed and not bounce around due to changes in the external environment. For example, economic boom or bust, scientific brake throughs or failures, and bountiful harvests or famines should not cause changes in basic governance. Any changes to basic governance must be made in small steps and under strict control. Why? Because the people can’t be trusted to perform change properly and will use the opportunity to shift the governance processes to favor them. Hmmm.

Liberals see things quite the opposite.  Liberals feel government must change (evolve) with the times. Libertarian liberals see Constitutions as living documents which can be interpreted differently given the needs of the times. Libertarian liberals believe in the good intentions of the common person. Authoritarian liberals believe in their own good intentions but believe the common person needs the authoritarian liberal to set the direction and strategy because the common person is not capable.  Conservative libertarians feel more comfortable staying close to the Constitution as originally intended.   Hmmm.

When thinking about the political map, we must expect to find politicians at all points of the x/y map and at varying distances from the x and y axes. Our political discourse, however, tends to plot everyone along the x-axis. Senator so and so is a staunch conservative (far out on the x-axis, while Senator blah blah is an arch liberal  (far to the left of the mid-point).

Why is the concept of x/y plot useful?

Think about 4 leading GOP Presidential hopefuls, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker.  How would you classify (plot) each of them and despite what they say, what policies would expect them to support?  This should be a useful exercise since their speeches will be crafted by skilled speech writers determined to mask any non-productive tendencies.

Waiting For Godot

March 22, 2015

POTUS must be a great job. So many seem willing to shed any semblance of a private life for what appears to be a thankless (unless you value highly meeting the NCAA football champions) 4 or 8 year job. The upcoming 2016 race seems to be following recent precedents (about how many Republicans seek this $400,000 job) and the GOP field is getting more crowded (unofficially).

Reports today indicate the Texas Senator Ted Cruz will announce tomorrow that he will seek the Republican top prize. Interestingly if he does announce he will the first GOP member to announce. Does that look like a crowded field?

In the modern day Presidential race gamesmanship, candidates choose run without announcing they are running. Former Governor Jeb Bush has had to rent an additional warehouse in order to store all the money he has secured even though Bush says he is still assessing. Waiting to announce saves “face” should the money not flow in.  Hmmm.

Governors Scott Walker, Rick Scott and Chris Christie are scurrying to assemble the teams, strategists, speech writers, pollsters, point people, and the all valuable fund raisers who collectively make or break the prospective candidates chances. One report said the pool of experienced campaign staff members was running near empty.  Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul also finds themselves in the same predicament.

So much to say, so few people to write what you should be saying.

Ohio Governor John Kasick has been speaking out saying “don’t forget me” while perennial showman Donald Trump assures the world that he is seriously thinking about running. Mike Huckabee, bible in hand, is searching for those early primary voters who know more about the Bible than how to run a government. Kasick , however, is the real thing and could be a strong, sensible GOP candidate while Trump and Huckabee are just previewing their next television productions.

I wonder where Jon Huntsman is when we need him?

The problem all these GOP wannabes are experiencing is what do they really stand for and what will be their campaign themes.

Fiction, of course, works well here. The difficulty is that not just any fiction. GOP candidates need also to win enough primary votes to keep the campaign donations flowing and that often means turning to the dark side of very conservative issues. All these problems could dissipate if there was an announced Democrat candidate.  With a Democrat opponent, there could be something to say they were not.

Hmmm.

Each GOP hopes to save the Country from “Godot”.