Sunday, August 7, 2016

When will it be time for Trump to quit.

If you ask me about the prospects of a Trump presidency, I will answer the way a friend of mine did recently.  Even after sitting on the bottom of the ocean for over a century, the Titanic's pools are still full.  In other words, it is difficult to see the problem when you are not looking at the whole picture.  The country isn't only run by the president, but congress and the courts as well.  I would advise everyone to look at the whole picture before casting votes this summer.

Asking Donald Trump to quit is not really a move that will put a Republican in the White House.  Even though it could work.  It also may help the GOP avoid a certain disaster  That disaster would be the loss of a majority in the houses of Congress as well as a loss in the electoral college.

Question 1: Does this mean that the GOP is conceding the presidency?  Hardly.  If you are in the early innings of a baseball game, and your starting pitcher is giving up home run after home run, you have a choice.  You can leave the poor pitcher on the mound a few more innings, or bring someone else in who can reach the plate, staunch the bleeding and give you a chance to win the game.  If Trump is truly a certain loss, and will bring members of congress down with him, better give someone who has a slightly better chance a shot.

Question 2: Who would replace Donald Trump on the ticket?  Most likely the chosen VP candidate, Mike Pence would be asked to take up the torch in Donald Trump's place.  Governor Pence would then choose a running mate.  If Mike Pence declines, then the National Committee would have to pick a new Presidential candidate and that person would select a running mate.

Question 2a:  What about Ted Cruz or the others who lost to Trump in the primary?  There would be a certain known risk to doing so.  If Ted Cruz or any of the others couldn't beat Trump in a primary election, what are their chances against Clinton?  Even if they polled better against Clinton in some polls than Trump did, the risk of losing is far greater.

Let's compare this to the Super Bowl.  In the AFC Championship game, the Patriots have defeated the Colts 45-3.  But the next day, it is found out that the Patriots have cheated and are declared ineligible for the Super Bowl.  You can put the Colts in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, but it does not man that the Colts would be more favored to win than the Patriots would have been.

Also remember that politics isn't sports.  The winner of the Super Bowl is really inconsequential to your daily life.  The winner of the elections this fall is.

Question 3: Is there a risk to all of this?  Absolutely.  I will remind you that the majority of those who cared enough to vote in the primary election chose Donald Trump.  If there was any inkling that someone other than Trump brought this on, it will backfire.  Many of those voters could turn on the GOP, vote for Hillary, or a third party candidate or not vote at all.  Having Trump may negatively affect the chances of GOP candidates in other races in November.  Having Trump step aside may make things worse.

Question 4: If Mike Pence doesn't want to pick up the baton and be the GOP presidential candidate, who would be the likely choice.  That is an interesting question.  Some might think the party would then turn to Ted Cruz or someone else who dropped out of the GOP race before Trump secured the nomination.  However, keep in mind that none of these men and women were strong enough to defeat Trump in the primaries.  That fact would be too much of a liability, and the Hillary campaign would do nothing but, for lack of a better term, trump it up.  You really would want to get someone else.  But no one else would have the name recognition to build up a strong enough campaign to defeat Hillary, except for Mitt Romney or John McCain.  You probably already know how well that will go over.  The real choice is for Mike Pence to pick up the baton for Trump if does not wish to continue.

There is probably one person who has the name recognition to do it, but I doubt she will.

Question 5: Has this ever happened before?  No.  In 1972, George McGovern had to replace his original choice for VP, Thomas Eagleton with Ambassador Sergeant Schriver, who most people today would know as Arnold Schwarzenegger's late Father-in-Law, or the late brother-in-law of John and Robert Kennedy.

Question 6: What difference does it make?  Trump may likely lose.  If Trump steps aside, the replacement is likely to lose.  The difference is that Trump will no longer be around to drag down the members of the Republican Party running for seats in Congress.  Thus, the only reason for Trump to step aside from a big picture standpoint is if he is going to take down enough members of Congress with him to cost the GOP their majority.

Remember in all of this, even if it looks like Hillary Clinton will win in a landslide, it does not mean that Trump should quit.  If Donald Trump is going to take Congress down with him, then it is time for The Donald to quit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Who should really be the nominees.

The GOP problem, Donald Trump.  The real reason why Trump is a liability to the party is not because of his mouth.  If being a smart-a@@ was a presidential dis-qualifier, then Andrew Jackson, US Grant and many others would never have sat behind the big desk in the oval office.  The real reason Trump is a liability is because he doesn't have a presidential resume.

And yes, I can see all of those Trump supporters rolling their eyes for the umpteenth time as they read this.  If you you are rolling your eyes at this suggestion then you do not understand history.  The constitution says that you only have to be 35 years of age and a natural-born citizen. However, no one has ever been elected who has not served in one of the following offices: A military officer with the rank of O-2 or higher, Vice President, Cabinet Secretary, State Governor, US Senator or US House of Representatives.  We have never elected anyone outside of one of these offices.  Many have tried, and they have all failed.  If you are a Trump supporter, you want Hillary and her baggage on the other side of the ballot.

Unfortunately, out of all of the candidates who stepped up to run on the GOP side, none had good credentials.  They were qualified, but their negatives where all too high.  Therefore, I would suggest none-of-the above for the GOP and put forward a new compromise candidate.

Here is your GOP Presidential Candidate for 2016.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.  Is she perfect?  No.  Opportunity doesn't come in a neatly-wrapped Christmas gift.  She can get the job done, just like she has in North Carolina.

For her running mate, I would choose someone from the rust belt to balance the ticket.  Someone from a state that the GOP must win in order to win the elction.  Someone who may not be a Tea Party conservative, but is not in their cross-hairs either.  I would choose Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent

The Hailey-Dent ticket for 2016.  A winning combination?

The Dems have more motivation to replace Hillary.  If they have a nominee without any baggage, they are bound to trump Trump in a way that Clinton no longer can.  But they have to nominate someone who will be perceived as a Obama ally.  I have just the nominee for them.

That is Maggie Hassan.  She is the only female two-term democratic party governor is the US.  She is from the very important state of New Hampshire.  She is a lawyer, went to Brown and has experience in the medical industry...not as a doctor, but as an attorney.

The VP pick, to balance the Democratic ticket.  


Those of us from the West will recognize Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.  Probably the most progressive governor in the West since Brigham Young.

Hassan-Hickenlooper doesn't exactly roll off your tongue.  But it could be the ticket the Democrats need in 2016.

Even with the negatives that Trump and Clinton have this election, the chances of either one of them getting replaced are nil.  But I have to put this post out there.  Nothing will happen if people don't begin to think about good alternatives.  We all know Trump has an ego big enough to fill the Grand Canyon.  Hillary has a huge entitlement issue, meaning that she thinks that she is entitled to be the first female president.  Neither one of them has the humility to step aside and neither party has the balls to stand up to presumptive candidates (and their supporters) and force them to step aside.

These women and men here do not have the negative baggage.  They have proven that they can get the job done, because they have been getting the job done for their states.  They are good candidates, even if you do not agree with their policies.  And if we have good candidates in 2016, and a positive campaign, we will have a good turnout.  A good turnout will mean quality at the lower end of the ticket as well.  We might replace some of the screw-ups we now have in Congress with people who will do their job.  And that is what we really want, isn't it?

Now think about this for a moment.  Do you really want to rein in Washington?  Do you really want a responsive government?  If you do, it starts at the top.  Donald Trump will not go anywhere unless people step up to the mat and get involved.  You may not like these people, that's fine.  But you can press the stop button on this campaign.  You can put a stop to people buying their way into the White House if you contact the party leaders from your state and demand action, and demand it now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In November, Once Hillary is Declared the Winner...

Now that I have your attention...Brain Dump after Trump wins Indiana and becomes the presumptive GOP nominee...Mostly speculation...

I don't think this election is over and I don't think that a Hillary election is a certainty.  However, Donald Trump has said things in the primary election that he can not un-say, and it will be very costly to him in the long run.  If he can overcome this, more power to him.

The first thing to understand is that a Hillary victory in November will not be the end of the world nor the end of the Republican Party.  In fact, it may be better for the GOP in the long run if Trump loses.  The party is more likely to learn lessons that they need to learn in order to win.  Most importantly, it will be best at this point to look forward and not backward. Therefore, let's look forward to what will happen after the 2016 election, and perhaps use it as a new way to drive the debate of this election.  After all, we need to discuss something other than Trump's wall and where women are bleeding from.

First of all, after 2016, the GOP will look forward to the mid-term elections of 2018.  There will be a chance for the GOP to take back the Senate, if they lose it in 2016, with key races in Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and West Virginia.  Every member of the House of Representatives will be up for a vote.  They will be running against what has happened in the prior two years.  If you remove yourself from the rhetoric, it will be easy to see what is on the horizon.  I speculate that these issues will be on the voters mind at that time.

By 2018, the economy will likely be in recession again.  The signs are currently pointing downward.  Target bathrooms will no longer be a debate point as Target will be one of many retailers struggling for life.  However, some will blame the bathroom controversy as a tipping point.  By 2018, K-Mart/Sears may be closing the last of their stores.  JCPenny may also be almost gone.  Even the mighty Wal-Mart may be closing stores.  Malls across the country may be empty.  Many other retailers that we used to shop at will be gone and hardly a memory.  And there will be no one to take their place.  And because the Democrats have been in the White House for 10 years by 2018, they will no longer be able to blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy, although many pundits still will try to and certainly President Hillary will try to as well.  By 2018, popular opinion will have turned even more against both parties and incumbents, but more so against the party in power.  They always do when things go bad.

Most in the GOP will blame the recession on the minimum wage increases approved early in the Hillary administration and on Obamacare.  Some will blame Congress and Hillary for repealing the Bush tax-cuts.  Some will blame base closings (keep reading).  However, most of this has been in the works for a long time, but the other shoe has yet to drop.

Social issues will evolve in 2 years.  Same-sex marriage will not longer be a major debate.  Many conservatives will accept the reality that it is legal even if they still do not approve of the practice.  And some LGBTQ advocates, not all, but some, will allow them that privilege.  However, there will still be some debate over wills and adoption.  And certain debates will never completely go away.  The debate will evolve more toward the gender identity issue.  And it will be far beyond Target's bathrooms.  Gender identity will be a battle fought in every school board in America and this will be extremely contentious.  Many of these battles will make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The major economic debate in the next two years will be whether or not to tax Internet sales.  Wal-Mart and Target CEOs will likely seek the opportunity to testify in Congress that not taxing internet retailers is a major advantage for the online retail industry and costs jobs.  Expect that there will be many sad stories of former retail employees who are out of work to be on the evening news regularly.  Internet retailers will be blamed.  Many communities in America, of every size, in both Red and Blue states will testify that the loss of sales tax revenue is the reason most of them are dealing with budget deficits and the reason why pot holes are no longer filled or why police aren't available when you call to report a crime.  But this battle will mostly be fought in the states, and not at the federal level.  Republican will fight against taxing on-line retailers.  While Democrats will lead the fight to allow it.  However, in most states, referendums to allow sales taxes to on-lines sales will be introduced.  And in 2018, they will be voting on such taxes.  Some will pass, while others will not.  Therefore, this debate could be at the forefront of the 2018 election.

Immigration will become less of an issue, as the economy in the US keeps many immigrants at home.  However, there will be another push for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.  This debate will never, ever go away and immigration will never be solved.

The other struggle that the US will have in the next few years will be regaining respect overseas.  There will be another round of base closings, and this will include withdrawing troops from Germany and England as the perceived threats are elsewhere in the world and there are military bases that are closer.  People will fight against this as Putin's Russia is still a perceived threat.  There will still be US troops in Europe, but far fewer.  The North Korean threat will lead to a build up of the Japanese military, and there will be much saber rattling in the far east.  I doubt any of this will come to war.  Many US troops will be moved to bases in South Korea and the Philippines.  Because the economy in the US is struggling, it will elsewhere in the world as well, and the United States and her economic policies will be blamed.

Not all industries will struggle.  The IT Security industry will boom, especially as there are more high profile hacker attacks.  However, traditional hardware-based vendors will loose ground to more affordable and salable cloud-based solutions enter the market.  Most software will be cloud- and subscription-based.  Software companies will move out of Silicon Valley and Seattle and into cheaper costs centers like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake and Denver.  While the rest of the country is suffering, these cities will thrive.

The final nail in the economic coffin will be an new BRAC, and the closure of many military bases in the US.   It could be the most massive BRAC yet, with as many as 33 domestic bases closed and many civil service jobs lost.  My hunch is that this will also include Hill AFB in Utah, with the logistics component being sent to Travis AFB in California.  Most of those closed bases will be in the interior of the country, as the military decides to be closer to where the real threats are and gravitates to the coasts.  If there is a state line between you and the coast, your base is at risk, and the more state lines you have to cross to get to the ocean, the higher the risk.  There will be exceptions, but the exceptions will need to be Offutt AFB.  Utah, however, will survive without Hill.  There will be other communities begging Congress for a reprieve as their bases are all that support their communities.  Even though many on both sides of the isle will put up a fight, military commanders will argue that keeping bases open is wasteful, and congress will reluctantly agree.

All of this happens no matter who wins in November.  The next two years will be difficult.  This will all add up to trouble for the President in 2018 and the party of the eventual winner in this election.  Therefore, I am going to say something that I think Republicans all over the country need to hear.  Cheer up.  Things are not so bad.

The economy will not be so bad that there will calls for Trump to run again, there will be some, but not many as the loss will be so one-sided that Trump will be blamed.  There will be those who want Mitt Romney to run again.  However, Mitt understands why Trump won, even if he doesn't like him.  The GOP needs to learn lessons.  Those lessons are: come up with fresh faces and new ideas.  They are out there.  That is what Trump represents, even if those new ideas are less than savory, and really old ideas made new.

If I am a debate moderator for this election, here are the ten questions that I would ask:

1.  Do you think that there should be another round of base closing and why?  If so what criteria do you think the BRAC should consider in deciding what bases to close?

2.  Are you in favor of repealing the Bush tax cuts?

3.  Many retailers in the country are closing their doors, creating job losses throughout the country.  How do you plan to help the retail industry?

4.  What are the details of the immigration plan you will submit to Congress?

5.  Do you think the Senate should move forward with confirmation hearing on Merrick Garland?  What do you think should be the criteria for nominating new Supreme Court Justices?

6.  What are your plans to improve the overall economy of the United States?

7.  Do you plan to take any steps to support start-ups and other small businesses?

8.  Do you support a minimum wage increase?  How high should it go?

9.  How do you think schools in America should handle the sensitive issue of Gender Identity?  If you propose changes over current policy, how should those changes be funded?

10.  How can we make higher education more affordable?

Finally, my advice for Republicans and all Americans in 2016.  No matter what you think of Trump, do not stay home on election day.  There are other candidates for other offices that need your support.  They are the ones who will be turning the screws over the next two years, and certainly they are the ones that can improve things.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What Could Happen if the Electoral College is Done Away With

Every action has unintended consequences, but not all of them are bad.  And not everything about the US Electoral College is bad.  But before I spout off on that, let me explain why the college of electors was created in the first place.

When our Founding Fathers were putting together the Constitution, the found that in order to finish the task compromises had to be made.  One of those compromises was the electoral college.  Some convention delegates wanted a direct election of the President.  Some wanted the states to elect the president.  Others wanted a parliamentary system.  That is a system that many Americans are not familiar with.  In the parliamentary system, the leader of the majority party in the parliament becomes the Head of State.  It would not be the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but the House Majority Leader, currently California's Kevin McCarthy.  Also, in a parliamentary system, all of the "ministers" as they are called in England, or Cabinet Secretaries, as we know them, would come from the lower house as well.  The Secretary of State would likely be Ed Royce, who is currently the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.  In a parliamentary system, there is no third branch of government, as the executive branch would be part of the legislative branch.

But the Founding Fathers decided to have an executive branch.  Some delegates wanted one vote per state, some wanted Congress to choose the President and some wanted the people to choose.  Therefore, the electoral college was invented as a compromise.

In our history, there have been three elections where the majority of the people disagreed with the Electoral College.  As it turns out, in order to become the President, you simply have to win the right states, and not necessarily the majority of them.  Eliminate the Electoral College and that changes.

In today's America, we can already see how that will change.  The Democratic Party controls, with almost no exception, the large cities in the United States.  While the Republican Party, with almost no exception, controls rural America.  Without the Electoral College, the battle for the White House every 4 years will almost certainly be fought in the Suburbs.  That is similar to the way campaigns are played out now, except for one difference.  Instead of concentrating on only the swing states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida and ignoring states that are predictable, like California except when they need to raise money.  The candidates will see that suburbia, even in New York and California are in play and will work harder for the votes there.

That is not to say that Republicans will completely ignore the big cities and Democrats will ignore fly-over country, as the race will need all the votes it can get, but they will spend less time in areas that are reliable.

That does, however, disprove the myth that if the electoral college were eliminated that the candidates would be more focused on the people because every vote would count differently.  But that is not true.  Take Los Angeles for example.  Why would the Democratic candidate need to focus on the city when the vote is already firmly in his corner?  Why would the Republican candidate waste time in neighborhoods where he or she would not be welcome?  Both candidate would focus on areas where they can swing the voters in one direction or another, like the San Fernando Valley and the Gabriel Valley, where there are more undecided voters and where voters tend to go into different directions depending on who the candidate is.  These are areas which mostly get ignored in presidential elections today because California has been solidly democratic since the 1990s.

The same story goes for many states all over the country.  Utah, for example, is solidly Republican, except for the communities on the north half of Salt Lake County, some of which have money to burn.  Utah, the state, is ignored in presidential elections today, but would be difficult to ignore without the electoral college.

However, there is not system that would get the candidates to focus on the problems of the country as a whole.  And that is why we have Congress.  Members of Congress, especially the House of Representatives, are tasked with solving the problems that they see in their individual districts.  If you really want to reform elections, there is a better solution that eliminating the Electoral College completely.  That would be to eliminate the winner take the entire state, but do what Nebraska and Maine already do.  The winner of each Congressional District gets the elector from that district.  That will bring the focus of each election where many problems exist, and possibly bring power from the White House to the House where it was meant to be in the first place.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Dangers for Republicans of Delaying a Hearing and Vote for Merrick Garland

I am in favor of proceeding with a hearing and for Merrick Garland.  And here is why.

Only constitutional reason for the delay.  Constitution does not specify how many justices the Supreme Court should have.  It does not even specify that there should be an odd number.  Otherwise, there is no other constitutional reason for the Senate not to move forward.

Negatives for the GOP.

1.  With an even number of  justices, a tied court means that the decision of the lower court will stand.  Does the GOP really want to take that risk?

2.  It makes the GOP look like a party of partisan obstructionists and putting party interests ahead of the overall needs of the country.  Of course, the Republicans have, for the last eight years, looked like a party of partisan obstructionists who put party ahead of the overall needs of the country.

3.  Obama could nominate someone even more liberal to the court as a recess appointment.  Merrick Garland, on many issues, is a moderate.

4.  It could costs the party critical votes in the upcoming election.  There are 7 senate seats that are considered "toss-up" seats in the upcoming election.  Six of them are held by Republicans.  If all six are won by Democrats, they are back in the majority in the Senate.  In the House, the Democrats are likely to gain at least 8 seats.  17 others are considered toss-up elections.  3 of those 17 are currently held by Democrats.  The GOP could lose 22 seats of their 30 seat majority.  Some Tea Party people might look at this as caving, but election years are not years to play hardball.  Of course, most people are focused on the Presidential Election, but that also means that more people will be coming out to vote.

5.  The Democrats will return the favor someday.  There will be another day when there is a Republican president and Democrats are in charge of the Senate.  The Dems are sure to do the same thing at that time.  Sure, they threatened to not proceed with the nomination of Alito back in 2007, but they eventually did go forward and confirm the nomination of Samuel Alito.  The question is, do you really want this to be the precedent going forward?  I doubt you really do, as it has not been the precedent so far.

Positives for the GOP in moving forward.

1.  The GOP senators will look like they are interested in doing their jobs.

2.  They can reject Garland and force president Obama to nominate someone more moderate in his place.  (That, by the way, is how we got Anthony Kennedy on the court.)

3.  We really don't know how Merrick Garland will be as a Supreme Court justice.  Many Supreme Court justices have been a surprise once seated and confirmed.  Garland may turn out to be just like his replacement.  Unlikely, I will admit, but it is possible.

4.  The GOP Senators will get to stop explaining themselves.

Sure, the GOP can play games if they want to.  But there is probably more to lose than to gain by stonewalling Garland.  Perhaps a letter to your Senator will change is mind?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Should There Be a Minimum Required Qualifications for the Office of President

The US Constitution only gives two qualifications for the office of President of the United States.  First, a person must be 35 years of age.  And second, the president must be a natural born citizen, meaning a citizen by birth.

I think  after this election, both major parties should consider minimum qualifications before accepting just anyone to run for office.  This election, especially for the republicans, the nomination process has become a disaster.  Here is my suggestion.

A person wishing to win the nomination for the presidency from either the Republican or Democratic Party, please consider these as the minimum qualifications.  In history, you will notice that very few men who have run for the office have done well without meeting one of these qualifications.

1.  Achieved the rank of Major General in the Armed Forces, or it's equivalent.  And has commanded troops during a major war.  Examples: George Washington, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson

2.  Served at least one term as the Vice President of the United States.  Examples: John Adams, Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Martin Van Buren, Thomas Jefferson

3.  Served at least one term as the Governor of a State.  Examples: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, William McKinley, Rutherford B. Hayes, James K. Polk

4.  Served at least one term in the United States Senate.  Examples: John F. Kennedy, Warren G. Harding, Benjamin Harrison, Franklin Pierce, (Some who have served partial terms in the Senate have been elected: Barack Obama, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson.  Except for Obama, the others had other experience, mainly military experience, to make up for lack of time in the Senate.)

5.  Served at least one term in the United States House of Representatives.  Examples: James A Garfield, Abraham Lincoln, William Henry Harrison

6.  Served at least one term as a cabinet-level Secretary in a Presidential Administration: Examples: Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft, James Buchanan, John Q. Adams, James Monroe, James Madison

7.  Served at least 4 years as an associate justice, or the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.  However, no one has ever been elected with this experience.

8.  Served as the Mayor of the hub city of a Major Metropolitan Area.  However, no one has ever been elected with this experience.

All of the Democratic Candidates have one of these qualifications except for Lawrence Lessig.

Here are the Republican Candidates who have failed to meet these qualifications

Donald Trump
Carly Fiorina
Ben Carson
Mark Everson
Andy Martin

And here are those who have served partial terms in the Senate

Ted Cruz
Rand Paul
Marco Rubio

However, assuming they would have finished to taking the oath of office, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio would have completed 6 years in the senate.

Would this have cleared up matters?  On the GOP side you would have been left with

John Kasich
Mike Huckabee
Rick Santorum
Jim Gilmore
Jeb Bush
Bobby Jindal
Lindsey Graham
George Pataki
Rick Perry
Scott Walker

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

This is Who Supports Trump

A couple of days ago, I told you why people were mad at "The Establishment" and now you need to know who.  Let's just say that there are certain group of people who have been ignored in the political process since the days of Ronald Reagan.

According to Real Clear Politics, the Trump supporters are the forgotten demographic.  They are people who have families or are middle aged.  It is what used to be called Middle America.  Except that happy little moniker has gone the way of McGuyver.  They are likely to have a high school education, but not a college education.  They are both men and women.  And it is not necessarily white.  This demographic includes people of all races.  They listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio.  It is the people who were once referred to as the silent majority, but they found their voice in Trump.  These are the people who still go to church every Sunday, even if they are not necessarily Christian by their actions the rest of the week.  They make just enough not to qualify for welfare, but not enough to be considered wealthy.  Many lost jobs and/or homes due to the housing crisis of 2008.  Many have been forced to retire early because no one will hire them.  Others feel like retirement is something that will never happen for them.  They will die with their boots on.  That is your Trump supporter.

These people feel that they have been left behind, forgotten, or taken for granted, in every single election since Reagan rode into the sunset.  They were blown over when Bush went back on his no new taxes pledge.  Many voted for H. Ross Perot in 1992.  That should have been a sign to take things more seriously.  They saw Slick Willie escape scandal after scandal, but cheered the Contract with America.  They thought things would change with Bush Jr., but were let down by new program after new program and were dismayed when the deficit grew and grew, and that the hated Clinton was the last president with a balanced budget.  TARP was the final straw.

They are angry.  They are not going to go home and study and find the best candidate.  This time, they will vote with their emotions.  And their emotions tell them that the college boys have been in power long enough.  In their mind, it's time to let Mr. Loud Mouth speak his mind.  To them, it's refreshing to hear a politician who doesn't hold any punches, who doesn't worry that what he says will rock the boat.

The problem the year is that almost no one the Republican party has is going to win this group over, not any longer.  The party has lost its trustworthiness.  In their mind, you will get the same result no matter who you vote for.  So, you may as well vote for someone who is transparent.  With this group, you can't sway them with disgusting facts about Trump, even if they are true, because they believe that everyone is covering up something just as bad.  Hence, no matter what is revealed about Trump, others are doing the same or worse when the camera's aren't running.  After all, that is what they see on TV every night.  They know it's fiction, but believe that fiction has a factual basis at one point.

The only way to stop Trump is to find some deep dark secret in his past.  Something that for him is dark and out of character.  And it would really have to be sinister and dark.  It would have to make everything that is currently public look like something a choir boy would do.  Perhaps the Democratic Party already knows the secret, and they are waiting until October to release it.  Anytime before the convention, and the GOP can simply choose someone else and they would have to run a real campaign.  But this has not been the year for the GOP.  Something will be found, but definitely after the convention and before the election.

If there is something found out before the convention, and Trump has to drop out.  I would suggest getting away from any old country-club slick, chiseled-looking chump like Mitt Romney.  Perhaps a former athlete like JC Watts.  Someone that you could have a beer with.  Someone who lives in the suburbs, not on the slopes of Park City.  Finding something on Trump may put the election into more chaos than it already is because people like that don't usually run for office.  It may also be that Trump is the Republican Slick Willie and nothing that can be found out will stick.

The danger for the Republicans is that the Democrats will want you to believe that all Republicans are like Trump.  It makes anyone that they would run look good by comparison.  That is sort of like saying that all public restrooms are like rest stop near mile 99.

It may not have come to this if Jeb Bush had listened to Mom and stayed home.  But his ego got the best of him.  To the Trump voter, seeing another Bush become the nominee was like having an extra serving of week-old buckwheet pancakes.  And the fact that Trump stole voters from just about everyone else running proves that people were looking desperately for someone whose last name was not Bush.  Jeb is indeed to blame for much of this.

It may have also helped if the Republican Party had been a little more transparent in the Bush years.  If those in Congress in the early 1990s had used a little foresight.  They knew they housing bubble would pop.  They could have at least introduced legislation to stem it.  But that never happened.

Like it or not, Trump is going to be the GOP nominee.  The real question, is what to do about it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why Donald Trump is succeeding

I am listening to a stump speech by Ted Cruz this morning, and there is one name I am hearing...Donald Trump.  Nothing about Ted Cruz, united the party.  Nothing about what President Ted Cruz would do for the country.  Now I am certain that as soon as I post this, I am going to get a flurry of responses about how good a Ted Cruz presidency will be.

However, Ted Cruz isn't the topic of my blog post today, it's Donald Trump and about why he is winning.  The answer is anger.  People were upset that Barrack Obama was elected, but they were even angrier about what happened earlier in 2008.  Really, the person responsible for all of this is not even Obama, and not really John McCain either.

The one thing that got everyone upset was TARP.  I am not going to argue here whether or not it was needed.  To most rank and file republicans, this was simply viewed as a huge occurrence of debt to bail-out privileged few, many of whom were not big republican supporters.  TARP ensured that Barrack Obama was going to win in that November.  Imagine being a die hard republican and seeing all of this transpire after losing both your job and your house.

This was the point in history where Republicans of all factions felt betrayed by their own party and felt that something had to be done to fix it.  But this was really the last straw.  All 8 years of the Bush Administration were filled with one excuse after another for spending more money and growing government.  Bill Clinton, who was hated by the GOP, had balanced the budget and reduced the size of government.  Sure, Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the Republican House.  But Clinton occupied the oval office.  George W. Bush, who waltzed his way into the 2000 GOP nomination had done just the opposite, and with Republicans in control of Congress for 6 of his 8 years in office.  From one large perspective, Bill Clinton was a more Republican president than W ever was.  And once republicans put this all together, the anger erupted and it has yet to subside.

If you are concerned about the quality of the four remaining GOP contenders, keep this in mind.  Donald Trump can read the anger in the party right now, and he has taken advantage of it.  You probably heard about the violence at the Donald Trump rallies this past weekend.  If The Donald becomes the GOP nominee, expect this to be the norm through November.  Without the anger, there is no Donald.  He needs it.  His campaign thrives on it.  The main reason why Trump should not be the nominee is because he fits the mold that the Democratic party likes to cast the Republicans in very well.  He is old, he is white, he is male, he uses women (and yes, he has earned that reputation), he is rich, he is angry and he doesn't care.  Besides, the Democrats just can't let the first Hispanic president be a Republican.  That will ruin everything.

Other potential republicans who could have jumped into the race, all stayed away.  Especially once Jeb Bush got in the race.  (Nothing could have stoked the Republican anger even more than the prospect of another Bush in the White House.)  No one who valued his or her political future wanted to be any part of this.  Look at what happened to Romney when he threw in his two cents worth...not like a Nixon-like comeback is in the works for Good Ole Mitt, anyway.  Mitt is expandable, he knows it.  He threw himself on his own sword.  But he still can direct where the cash flows, and he will for a few more election cycles because he knows how to make people part with it.  And that speech, the one in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago, is the only reason Marco Rubio and John Kasich are still in the race.

If you are wondering why names like Rick Scott (Florida), Nathan Deal (Georgia), Sam Brownback (Kansas), Rick Snyder (Michigan), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin) stayed out of the fray this time, you now know.  If this all subsides by 2020, look for some of these men and women, all of whom are quality Republican Governors, to step up to the table in 4 years.  For now, these 9 persons are too young and have too much of a future to jump in the mud today.  They are smart to stay out of it right now, anyway.  Especially Sandoval, whose name was recently floated as a nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy.  Don't look for any of these 9 people to be Donald's running mate, either.  They are all too smart for that.

But Republicans shouldn't panic.  Whether or not Trump wins the nomination, there will be a 3rd party candidate.  If Trump loses the GOP nod, it will be Trump.  He has a big enough ego to make it happen.  If Trump wins the GOP nod, someone will step up and give conservatives someone to vote for.  And don't worry, it probably will not be Mitt Romney.  Either way, Trump steals enough angry voters away from the democratic party nominee (and there are also angry democrats) to deny the eventual winner her political mandate.  And we all learn our lessons and regroup for 2020...or at least that is what I hope will happen.

What has to happen going forward is the Republican leaders not only need to recognize the anger, but come up with a plan to overcome it.  Balancing the budget is one thing, but it is too broad and has too many other issues that it is dependent upon.  The same with immigration reform.  Besides, any immigration package that treats Hispanic immigrants differently than others would be unconstitutional, the constitution requires uniform laws.  Speaking of the constitution, the constitution itself is too broad.  And maybe, just maybe we have come across the real problem.  When it comes to politics, the Democrats fight battles, where the Republicans fight wars.

Wars are won a battle at a time.  At this time, I can't identify a battle that should be the focus of the election.  Perhaps the battle is funding to fight terrorism.  Improving police-community relations to reduce crime.  Reducing the prison population because large prisons are not fiscally conservative, anyway.  Perhaps its the college football playoffs.  I'm only grasping at straws.  But something will come up.  And those running for office in the future will decide what battles to fight.  Hopefully, it is something narrow enough and a winning one for the GOP.  Much like the cold war was at one time.  Focus on the deficit, yes, but on spending.  Perhaps one battle at a time.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Five "Conservative" ideas that will not work

A few months ago, I entered a post entitled Progressive Ideas that Will Not Fix America's Problems.  Liberals and Democrats aren't the only ones that come up with feel-good ideas that do nothing but spend money.

1.  Testing Welfare Recipients for Drug Use

I can't understand why a fiscal conservative would be for this idea.  First of all, it's expensive.  Is it really that effective?  It can actually backfire.  If you are for testing of drug users to catch them, it doesn't work because a most users are smart enough not go anywhere near a government office if they know that there will be consequences.  If you are trying to shame them into treatment, then getting them away from the welfare office is the last thing you want to do.  It can increase panhandling as the only resort that some people will have to get by.  And it can also increase homelessness for the same reason.

In 2014, the state of Missouri spent over 330,000 to test 38,000 welfare applicants.  There were 48 positives.  There are similar results in every state where drug testing for welfare is in use.  Some see more positives, and some see fewer.  In Utah, we have been testing welfare recipients randomly since 2012.  And one thing that people have noticed, is that panhandling has increased.  But people haven't correlated the two.  But it is related.  Drug addicts have become more adverse to applying for welfare benefits, fearing that they will get caught and have to spend time in jail,  and have therefore turned to panhandling.

What will work instead?  Let's battle addiction, and not drug use.  First, we do that by taking away as many things as we possibly can that will lead to addiction.  That means eliminating job loss and alienation.  Helping people see joy and goodness in their life in spite of all of the challenges.  Second, if you want to drug test, that is fine, but emphasize that a positive test will not result in a loss of benefits, especially if the person has children and voluntarily enters into a drug treatment program.

2.  Auditing the Federal Reserve

I get it.  All financial institutions should be independently audited.  So we audit the Fed.  What happens then?

Absolutely nothing.  The Federal reserve is a bank that banks can go to when they need to borrow money.  What will we learn by auditing the Fed?  Nothing.  Will they operate any differently if they are audited?  Nope.  Let's audit the Fed, but let's not expect that things will change just because we do.

I offer no alternatives to this one.  However, if you are looking to win at a game of political gotcha, look somewhere else.

3.  Repeal of the 17th Amendment

The reason so many Republicans like this idea is that there are so many Republican-controlled legislatures where there are Democratic senators.  Virginia has a GOP-controlled legislature and 2 democratic senators.  But there are also states with legislatures controlled by the Democratic Party with Republican Senators.  At this time, if the legislators appointed senators that were from their own party, the GOP would control the senate 62-38.  This would give the GOP a filibusterer-proof majority and put them within 5 seats of an over-ride proof majority.

However, just because you have a Republican State legislature, doesn't mean you would have two Republicans in the Senate.  For example, in Nevada, you have a 11-10 GOP majority in their state senate.  And if I were Harry Reid, it probably wouldn't be difficult to convince two moderate GOP senators to vote for me by showing them how much US taxpayer money I funneled to their state.  Which brings me to my other point.  I believe a repeal of the 17th Amendment would cause more earmarks and otherwise cause more problems than it would fix.

What will work instead?  Give state legislatures the power to impeach members of congress.  This will make them more responsive to the needs of their state.  I will point out that there were weaknesses in the 17th Amendment that were not considered at the time it was passed.  The amendment does not address what a state should do if a senator becomes terminally ill, physically or mentally incapacitated, dies in office or resigns?  Therefore, the filling of a mid-term vacancy in the senate is not uniformly addressed.  That does need to be fixed.

4.  Term Limits

I am for limiting the time someone spends in office, but at the ballot box, not by statute.  I have argued in this blog time and time again against the passage of term limits.  It is a Pandora's Box that will probably make things worse than better.  If you want more information about this one, please scan this blog.

5.  Balanced Budget Amendment

48 of the 50 US states have a balanced budget act on the books, either constitutionally or by legislative action.  The claim is that almost all of them do have a balanced budget, with Illinois being the only exception.  The trouble is that most states SAY they have a balanced budget, but most of them use loopholes, tricks and other language to mask their deficit spending.

Let's take Utah, for example.  We say that we have a balanced budget, but did you know that the state still borrows money?  A capital project, such as a new highway project will be built on borrowed money.  As long as the state pays off the capitol project, before it is completed, it is not considered deficit spending under the terms of the balanced budget statute.  Therefore, it a new highway project will take 5 years to complete, the state can borrow all of the money it will take to complete the project and it still will be considered a non-debt as long as it is paid for in five years.

The second problem is that even though most states have a balanced budget statute, none of those states spell out a punitive action for failure not to balance the budget.  But what can you do?  Would it be fair to include in the amendment that members of congress would be ineligible for election if they fail?

Actually, that is really the crux of the problem with the federal government and their run-away spending.  There are no real consequences if we don't balance the budget.  Expect for consequences down the road, in a generation or two if we fail.  Most current members of Congress will be long dead by the time that happens.

Many states also use a big infusion of federal dollars to balance their budgets.  Do not expect many to willingly give that up.  There is probably no state in the US that can balance their books without money from the Federal Government.  The US Congress doesn't have that luxury.

What will work instead?

Again, focus on the economy.  We have no trouble increasing government spending when the economy is weak.  We must be strong enough to cut the federal spending when the economy is strong, when public sector employees can find jobs in the private sector and when senior bureaucrats, senior military officers and other experienced civil servants are more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.  When the economy was hot in the 1990's, the GOP was too focused on tax cuts and the democrats were more focused on changing the world through government sponsored social programs.

Let's try this for a new meme, there is no surplus while the government has debts to pay.  Or how about this one, a strong economy is the time for government to pay back debts, not make new ones.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Utah's Proposition 1--a tacit endorsement. Updated

What is it?

It is an increase in the sales tax in the state 1/4 of a percent to raise money for roads, buses, and trails. This is not a state-wide initiative, it is a by county ballot.  Meaning that if Salt Lake County passes it and Utah County does not then the tax will be raised in Salt Lake County, but not in Utah County.  Any county in the state can pass this tax, therefore the it can benefit every county in the state, not just the counties on the Wasatch Front.

The money raised will go into county coffers and not into state or federal coffers.  The money raised will not go to state or federal highways, but to county and city roads.  The money can also be used to improve buses, build commuter trains and build bike routes and pedestrian trails.

Economic effect.

Most of what you have read on other sites, both for and against this new tax are either lies or misrepresentations of the truth.  The economic effect will be mixed.  A sales tax does not take money out of your wallet.  It limits your buying power because your dollar at the supermarket will not go as far.  If you have 100 per week to spend on groceries, another 2.50 will go to taxes.  This means that you will have to find a way to cut back on your spending by 2.50 each week to cover the tax.  This will hurt retail outlets more directly than it will hurt consumers.

It will mostly hurt sales on big ticket items.  If your bank pre-approves you to spend 40,000 on a new car, you will have to get 1,000 less bling on it.  That will be 1,000 more for the state for a 40,000 vehicle.

Not all of the effects will be negative.  Utah has done well at maintaining state-funded and federal-funded roads, while many county and city roads go un-repaired.  Keeping these roads in good repair will attract more business, bring in more jobs, and provide more competition meaning that your employer will need to pay you more to keep you.  Then you probably can borrow another 1,000 on your car loan.  More bike and hiking trails will mean better health and less spent at healthcare facilities, which will give you more money to spend elsewhere.

Better roads and more buses and trains will also lead to better air quality.

I think that the net economic effect will be unnoticeable for most people.

Who will benefit most?

Companies that build and repair roads, highways, trains and buses will benefit the most from this bill.  College Students, many who do not own their vehicles, will benefit the most from improved public transportation.  The "working poor" will also benefit as they will have more options getting to and from work.  The street that you use on the way to church that sits right on the border between one city and other is more likely to get repaired.

Who will benefit the least?

Other than retailers, senior citizens who will still have to pay the tax on their purchases, but whose limited mobility prevents them from enjoying the new roads, buses, trains and trails are the ones with the least benefit.

Is it necessary?

Unfortunately, cars will continue to get more efficient and therefore, revenues from fuel taxes will continue go down.  This tax is meant to be a replacement for those funds.

Will it really be balanced?

Probably not.  Voters in the urban counties in the state are more likely to vote for it while voters in rural counties are more likely to vote against it.

Won't all of the money go to UTA?

The Utah Transit Authority operates in Box Elder, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, Wasatch and Weber Counties only.  Other counties, like Cache County and Summit County have their own public transportation systems.  Money collected by this new tax will go to UTA, but not all of it.  And how it is spent is up to the discretion of the county.

In Utah County, there are plans for a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line east and west on University Parkway connecting BYU with the Orem Front Runner Station.  With the new tax, this could be a much safer and more efficient Trax line.  Think about that next time you are stuck on University Parkway after a barn-burner at LaVell Edwards Stadium.  The Trax Blue line master plan calls for it to be extended all the way to Utah Valley University.  That will not happen without more funding.  That may help parking at this burgeoning campus.

In Davis County, there are plans for a Trax line from Downtown Salt Lake all the way to the south gate of Hill Air Force base.  This may help keep Hill AFB open, as it makes downtown attractions easier for airmen stationed at HAFB to reach, especially on Sundays when Front Runner isn't operating.  And perhaps with little more funding, UTA will operate the big train on Sunday, at least on a limited basis, like between Clearfield and downtown and on General Conference weekends.  There is also a plan to connect Clearfield with Riverdale another Trax line, which will help traffic in that area during the afternoon rush.  Without this new tax, all that Davis County can allocate is enough for a BRT from Downtown Salt Lake to 500 S. Bountiful.

In Weber County there are plans to connect the Downtown Front Runner station with Weber State University.  That campus has a big parking problem and has for decades.  Giving students other options will help.

Some have endorsed this tax if UTA is left out.  But you can't really improve transportation without providing good alternatives to using your car.

Do we endorse this bill?

Unfortunately, we can't say no to every tax and expect our infrastructure to maintain itself.  You have to collect something.  There is no genie that will provide these things for you.

If your are going to tax people, sales taxes are progressive.  Meaning that they are one way to ensure that the wealthy pay more, but everybody pays some.  The way to avoid sales taxes is to not spend your money.  Not all sales taxes are paid by locals.  Visitor also pay sales taxes.  I hope that this tax will eventually lead to a reduction in property taxes.  That will probably not happen right away, if at all.

Fuel tax revenues will continue to decrease as we increase fuel efficiency on cars or find alternatives to driving.

Utah's sales tax rate is in the 3rd quartile of states in the US.  (We are 28th out of 50).  Most states have a higher sales tax rate that Utah, but four states (Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) have none. The average sales tax nationwide is just above 7%.  If this passes, the Salt Lake County Sales Tax will be 7.15%, and even higher in some communities.  If this does not pass in Utah County, the tax there will be 4.70%.  Passing it will still keep sales taxes below 5% in Utah County. Among the states that we border, Wyoming and Idaho have a lower sales tax rate while Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico are higher.  In Arizona, sales taxes are 9.2%.  Tennessee has the highest sales tax at 9.45%.

I have problems with this proposal, but my concerns are not enough to make me vote against it.  I would like to see a uniform sales tax state-wide, instead of having lower taxes in some counties and higher taxes in others.  I may have to consider a trip to Mount Pleasant to buy my next car if this keeps up.  :-)  (Yes, I know it doesn't work that way, it's based upon residence.  But RC Willey should consider a store there.)

In Utah, I would like to see the state dump the sales tax on groceries, even if it means we pay a higher sales tax on other items.

I recommend voting for the proposal, but also recommend pressuring the state and county to lower property taxes and/or fuel taxes as well.  I also recommend having a sales tax holiday for the Friday in August after the 13th as kids are getting ready for school and purchasing new clothes and school supplies.


In Davis and Weber Counties, the proposition passed.  These counties will see more money for roads and other infrastructure as well as improved UTA bus service and possibly Trax.  The measure failed in Salt Lake and Utah counties.