Posted tagged ‘Democrats’

Democrats and 2020

February 3, 2019

There has been a flurry of Democrats expressing their interest in become the 2020 Democrat standard barer.  And by all predictions, the current seven are just the beginning of a list which could top 20.  Why so much interest?

It should not require a brain surgeon to sense that President Trump is vulnerable and Republicans in general have worn out their welcome.  In addition, signs are everywhere that the economy is about to slow (as it should) and the “claimed successes” of the Trump Administration’s first two years will not stand up to a campaign spot light.  In other words, if not now, when?

As inviting as Trump’s dismal record, one might ask where should Democrats begin?  Should they run on restoring Obama directions for the Cabinet departments?  Or, as some entrants have already demanded, leap ahead to universal health care (Medicare For ALL).  “Jobs” are always a good point to emphasize and national security never fails.  But what will bring enough voters to the Democrats when one can be sure Republicans will demagogue the issues of pro-life, gay rights, and boarder security?

Who knows?

Wise voters will block out the various candidates rhetoric and realize most “promises” will be impossible to make happen given the uncertainty of Congressional control and the ocean of special interest money in which Washington is awash.  Instead, voters should assess where the country actually is as a consequence of President Trump.

  • Isolated Foreign Relations.  For reasons wholly of the Trump Administration making, American foreign relations with long term allies are in taters.  Multi-lateral agreements have been tossed aside and “we can go it along” attitude has replaced cooperation and respect.

 

  • Fiscal Mismanagement.  The Trump tax cuts have benefited a small fraction of tax payers, namely corporations and the very wealthiest Americans, and the tax cut costs have been thrust upon future generations.  Our debt is growing and the behavior of Congress is inexcusable.

 

  • Healthcare Policy Failure.  The Trump Administration aided and abetted by Republicans has tried valiantly to gut the Affordable Care Act and bring affordable healthcare to fewer Americans.  “We can’t afford Obamacare”, Republicans say.

 

  • Border Security Hoax.  The Trump Administration has framed undocumented workers and asylum seekers as a security risk.  Using political speak, President Trump has insinuated that evils like drug smuggling, terrorists and criminals are flooding across the border because there is no wall to prevent them from entering the US.  There is no evidence to support these claims.  Democrats must say the king has no clothes.

 

  • Trade disruptions.  The smash mouth tactics where the US claims some outrageous complaint, place an onerous tariff on a trading partner, and then seeks to negotiate a resolution is an extremely naive and potentially dangerous strategy.

 

  • Globalization is real and here to stay.  The Trump Administration’s attempts to see all relationships with other countries as a bi-lateral arrangement subject only to what a smash mouth discussion will yield is seriously off base.  

 

  • Climate Change. There is plenty of room for Democrats to stake out a positive position for taking responsible, corrective actions. Trump and friends’ outright rejection of science and the incorrect notion that since America cannot solve this problem by itself, no action is needed, presents a dangerous risk to Americans too.

 

The successful Democrat candidate must come across as the adult in the room, not a chicken little screaming the sky is falling.  The frame work must include a global view, the need to build a truly affordable healthcare system similar to most other developed nations, a tax code which distributes tax burdens in proportion to the riches tax payers receive, and a foreign policy which consults history and learns from the win-lose view, and instead adopts a win-win approach.  All of these points boil down to helping the average American without vilifying special interests. 

For example,

  • How can having an arrogant, untruthful, petty, and divisive President help anyone? 
  • How can channeling 30 million Americans denied healthcare insurance through emergency rooms at hugely elevated costs be cost effective never mind represent respect for others?
  • How can encouraging increasing income inequality reinforce the American Dream?

Realistically, however, this phase of the 2020 Presidential campaign is all about building a campaign staff and funding base. Any candidate is dead in the water without money and a top notch staff.  The progressive’s tendency to place a marker well to the left and then attempt to tact back towards the center is the most common approach.  

Commonsense should, however, lead most thoughtful people to reject Donald Trump.  Until those thoughtful people are lead to understand how progressive policies are actually in their best interest, alarm and worry will result from Democrats acting too progressive.  This should not concern Progressives since there are miles between the center and where the Trump Administration has lived.  There should be accordingly plenty of room for Democrats to be modestly left of center, providing a hint of change, and still not spooking the crowds.   

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Not Smart Enough…

May 7, 2015

Philadelphia is a Democrat city… at least as party registrations are concerned. The Mayoral primary is scheduled for next Tuesday and the field of six are beating the bushes trying to secure enough votes to get on the November ballot (and almost certain victory).

Big money is in the race too. Two candidates, Anthony Hardy Williams and Jim Kenny have been supported by deep pockets, Williams by suburban based financiers and Kenny by city based unions. The other candidates have been left to pass the hat.  Not surprisingly, Kenny and Williams appear tied in polls.

The local TV and newspapers have done a reasonably good job interviewing each candidate and making available to the public the candidates’ views on a wide range of issues, from taxes, to schools to policing. All of the candidate looked like utter fools with their proposals on school funding, most likely because they were advised to wait until elected mayor before telling the public that taxes must be increased. Never the less, the public has an idea of who’s running.

One of the policies on the minds of about 45% of Philadelphians is the stop and frisk police procedure. For many African Americans this is a discriminatory practice and should be stopped. Hmmm.

Since the current Mayor (Michael Nutter) took office and appointed Charles Ramsey Police Chief, the homicide rate has decreased each year and stands now 46% of 2007. Part of Ramsey efforts has been “stop and frisk”.

Williams said this week that he would fire Chief Ramsey if elected because the Chief was the architect of “stop and frisk”. Williams said he was listening to the people and would take this action once elected. Hmmm.

Mayor Nutter who has stood mainly on the sidelines during the primary campaign and who is term limited and can’t run, issued a statement that said “if someone is not smart enough to recognize the decrease in homicides, then that person is probably not smart enough to run the rest of city government”.

Of course a poorly managed “stop and frisk” policy could run the risk of violating individual rights. And with the recent spate of “police on black” incidents, Philadelphia “stop and frisk” also needs to be carefully administered or excesses can happen.

For a city which once boasted over one homicide per day, it is refreshing to see this senseless number decreasing. And more than anything else, guess which section of Philadelphia where these homicides take place?

I hope African American voters can see that Williams is probably not smart enough for their best interests.

Waiting On The Side Lines

April 18, 2015

I noticed an article in the local newspaper today which said “Millennials Sit Out This Election”. It was a curious article since the same newspaper carried many other stories about both national and State-wide candidates raising so much money for elected positions ranging from State Supreme Court to President of the United States. Money, of course, is free speech and with so much fee speech its hard to understand one demographic group being overlooked.

The “millennials” are different we are told. They were raised on the internet and all the wiz-bang applications. Millennials are the ones who go around with their cell phones six inches in front of their nose while they miraculously navigate around other pedestrians. Millennials were raised in the “good times” and seek to work in friendly settings, play friendly sports after work, and then relax in friendly bars to review the days hardships.

Somehow and in ways unfamiliar to older generations, millennials seem to gain a perspective on the political free speech that the news media spews out 7/24 without ever listening to it. I suspect millennials have developed a sense which detects acrimonious, hollow, or empty words, and just as I might discard milk which didn’t smell right, millennials reject the inflow of “free speech” and search instead for friendlier discourse.

I worry about this cohorts civic-mindedness. How can they have a sound opinion on which candidate or which political party has the better position on government? Life can’t be just about Facebook, Twitter, or the many other self revealing internet applications.

On the other hand I wonder whether millennials are just starting from a different position. They see things as they really are, and do not dwell on how they might be. With this burden out of the way, it is relatively easy to conclude what a supreme waste of time it is to listen and get caught up in political speak.

As with most of my generation, I cannot help but see how things could be better. I listen to the many versions of free speech that bombard us 7/24. To my regret, with this input the best I can do is select the lesser of two evils knowing that neither candidate will see “how things could be better” as I would. Hmmm.

Maybe, or at least I wonder, whether I should begin to keep my cell phone six inches from my nose all day?

Danger Ahead?

February 11, 2015

It is relatively quiet on the domestic political scene. Alabama’s Supreme Court Justice, Rory Moore has fiendishly interrupted the gay marriage issue in Alabama, and in the process, struck a blow for State’s rights. In Congress, funding of the Homeland Security Department raises the prospect of a potential “shutdown” if agreement between Democrats and Republicans cannot be reached. Other than that, the Washington grid lock seems mostly in recess. Is this a time President Obama can relax?

Probably not. Look around the world and tell me what his next steps should be.

Syria is a political (and humanitarian) mess. Attempting to remove Basher Assad predictably has lead to an Iraq repeat, Arab killing Arab (and anyone else who gets in the way). Iraq is still highly suspect and shows no signs of uniting Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis into one functioning State. Egypt appears to be tilting further towards absolute authoritarian rule, albeit a secular dictatorship. Jordan, while currently flexing its muscles in its revenge battle with ISIS forces, is only inches away from chaos should the Monarchy be usurped.

And then there is Iran and Israel.

Iran’s government seems quite stable, but its foreign policies extend (and meddle) well into the Middle East.  Experts claim Iran is pursuing centuries old Persian and Shiite aspirations. Iran’s fingers are in Hezbollah, Hamas, Yemen, and Iraqi’s Shiites goals. Iran is also engaged in negotiating a nuclear development agreement with the West. This agreement may come to pass or may continue to be drawn out while Iran continues its nuclear programs in secret.

Israel suffers from a different type of instability. Israel is a full blown democracy where religious interests continue to hamper a secular view of the world. As a result, Israel sees advantages is Egypt’s authoritarian government, is ambivalent over the turmoil in Syria and Iraq because it sees these situations as enablers for its ambition in the West Bank. But Israel’s largest concern is Iran and in particular Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations with Iran is out of the question because Israel fundamentally does not trust Iran to keep any promise, as well as Israel is not keen on making any concessions itself.

Hmmm. Is that all on the foreign stage?

Don’t overlook China and its aspirations to regain the leadership role China played in South East Asia thousand of years ago. (India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea may take exception to this goal.) And who can forget about Russia and their aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. On one level, Russia can be said to be reliving its Eastern Europe role dating to back long before the Czars.

While the pundits may look for an over arching foreign policy, it is hard to see one. Prioritizing these situations might be more helpful and in the long term present a better chance for lasting solutions.

First, the Middle East is not the most important hotspot in the world regardless of the chaos taking place.

Second, Russia is significantly more important than the Middle East. Russia has a second rate economy but a first rate military with both nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Confronting Russian military aggression, which may become necessary, must be a last resort.

Third, China represents the most important place where American diplomacy needs to be placed. With 1+ billion people and the first or second strongest economy, China is going to become more powerful whether we like it or not. If you want fo think about doomsday, consider India has also 1+ billion people and nukes, Japan has a highly advanced technical and manufacturing infrastructure and is said could convert to a nuclear power over a weekend, and places like Vietnam, the Philippines, and South Korea are proud people who want to access minerals lying off their shores, these countries might be ready to fight for what they see as their rights.

But China represents something more. China has a lot to lose. China is now a very rich country after centuries of poverty. Under the motivation of not regressing, China could choose to exercise positive leadership including economic development and defense against rogue states in its region.

Similarly, Russia has both much to lose and much to gain by behaving responsibly on the world stage. Russia could also provide economic leadership through export of oil and gas, and security with targeted action against rogue regimes from India to Turkey.

I hope that President Obama sees the path forward as going through China (first), Russia (second), and then and only then through the Middle East. Of course both Russia and China may choose to pursue their own future vision.  And then what?

The alternative that peace is achieved in the Middle East (in some presently unknown manner) but relations with Russia and China sour. Are we better off?

Hmmm.  Better focus on those policies with the greatest potential payoff.

Year End In Sight

December 29, 2014

As the 31st draws closer, it is always useful to look at the past 12 months. What type of a year has it been?  What has gone well and what would we wish have gone better?  Should we hope for 2015 to be as good or much better than 2014?

If I were President Obama and I were reviewing 2014, this is what I would think.

I would think 2014 was a grind.  I would also think the outcomes were much better than the media was giving me credit for.

If I were a really honest Barack Obama I would be thinking of all the missed opportunities where I could have convinced Americans that the Administration and its policies were making life better for all Americans.

And if I did not cross my fingers and was straight honest, I would admit that I had blinked or hesitated too long at certain points and as a result provided political opponents ample opportunity to frame the public’s perception.

The nice thing about time is that given a sufficient amount, results become clearer and even the cleverest politicians run out of excuses. For 6 years the GOP has said “no” and denounced President Obama’s actions and policies. Their predictions of doom and gloom simply have never come true and instead, the American economy is steadily improved and now is the envy of the world.

Healthcare has improved access for many Americans.  There are signs that the out of control healthcare cost increases have been slowed. The national shame of Americans being denied basic coverage because they earn too little or are sick too much is still with us but the reasons and occasions  are fewer. The GOP claims of job losses and an upcoming “train wreck” were overstated and essential misleading.

Internationally President Obama can be satisfied that he has read the world situations mostly correctly.  He has followed policies (for the most part) that have kept Americans (most but not all) out of war. The President, however, can still improve his international stage speaking skills. He can do a much better job speaking to international nations. Like why lecture other countries about human rights when you can pick up any US newspaper and read about similar transgressions here. Have you consider the human rights aspects of dome strikes, or holding uncharged detainees for over 12 years, or the US domestic incarceration rate and its racial make-up?

But even more important on the international stage is the public versus private dialog. Making foreign country demands for delivery on the US 6 o’clock news is far less effective than sending messages through normal diplomatic channels. And generally speaking, making demands which have not considered correctly how the other country will respond is foolish. Bluffing with domestic politics is problematic but if things go wrong, the consequences are confined to the US. Bluffing internationally is quite a different story.

The President’s inner circle will continue to advise him and as in the past, President Obama will need to decide which set of advice to follow.  With reflection on these successes, he should be able to make good future decisions.

Next year, Cuba, Immigration and the Affordable Healthcare Act will attract much GOP attention. The President needs to resist the urge to slap down the GOP for their regressive ideas and instead defend his decisions with measurable predictions.

Time will again allow a period to assess the President’s policies at this next year or maybe the year after.

Smaller Government

March 22, 2013

Pennsylvania’s Republican controlled State Legislature and Governor are sounding (and acting) like they are serious about ending the State Liquor Control Board’s retail operations, and all the surly stores that go with it.  This is such wonderful news that  I am about to take back all the bad things I have ever said about the GOP as a tribute to this sensible act.  Hurray, hurray.

Pennsylvania is the largest US purchaser of wines, and yet still manages to offer mediocre wines at high prices.  Oh, if you want beer, you have two choices.  You may frequent a “beer distributor” and buy your beer in case amounts (no less, sorry), or you can go to a neighborhood bar (taproom in Pennsylvania) and purchase a six pack at naturally higher prices. 

Surrounding States like New Jersey and Delaware, which both have privately owned alcoholic beverage stores, offer wider selections, all available in one store, at equal or lower prices, plus the distinct advantage of a courteous and attentive staff.  Hmmm.

This decision should have been made long ago as it relates to business and customer service.  Why has it taken so long?  The State liquor system employes a lot of people and accounts for a lot of patronage positions.   Hmmm.

In an age where the State is trying to privatize the State Lottery and the State Turnpike, reduce aid to higher education, and whose roads and bridges are decaying, State Liquor outlets doesn’t make the grade.    

 

Former Representative Pleads Guilty

February 21, 2013

What is so newsworthy about the headline “Former Representative Pleads Guilty”?  It is a bit like “dog bites man” – nothing so surprising.

The headline, of course, I am referring to was written this time in reference to Jesse Jackson, Jr.  The allegations refer to Jackson’s use of campaign funds for personal purchases.  Hmmm.  (Still not man bites dog.)

Hubris is a strange bird.  Politicians often catch this bird once they are elected to office.  After 17 years in office, It is hard to avoid.  There are so many people seeking ones opinion or help.  And naturally this attention is accompanied with a willingness to pay.  The pay is called campaign donations and/or “considerations” for family and close friends.

Federal prosecutors allege that Jackson misappropriated about $750,000 from his campaign treasury.  That is a pretty good headline.  But there’s more.  Jackson bought expensive watches, Michael Jackson memorabilia, furs for unnamed recipients, and much more.  Spending that much money on things is not easy.  That is another good headline.

Over the past several years, Jackson managed to have an affair, get involved in a Federal probe of trying to bribe former Governor Rob Blagojevich, and hid out in various medical facilities claiming “mood disorders”.  Any of those would be a good headline too.

Yesterday, however, Fox News shared with the world their take.  The fair and balanced news station mused that they were astonished that other networks and news media were reporting “former Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr pleads guilty”.  Why, asked Fox News, did those stations not report that “former Representative (D,IL) Jesse Jackson, member of President Obama’s party, pleads guilty…”

I now have a better appreciation for “fair and balanced”.  I had always thought that greed was a human condition and greed was neither red or blue, but both.