Days of Change

America’s Billionaire

September 11, 2018
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More than a year before September 11, 2001, Donald Trump ran and then gave up on a campaign to be the Reform Party nominee for president. George W. Bush was running for president on a campaign of tax cuts and compassionate conservatism. Al Gore was running on a Social Security lock box and global warming. Given the news lately, the Democrats have not changed their tune.

Because elections are still close 17 years later, it seems like not much has changed. The difference is in who votes and why. The Trump voter is more blue collar than White, more male than female. They have flocked to the pragmatism of border security, trade protectionism and a military stance where the worst offenders are nuked and left to deal with the results. It actually mirrors some of the ideas of mid-century Republicans who were making America great the first time.

Democrats are getting support from women along with college educated men and from Black and Hispanic voters. Their issues are longer-term, like global warming and universal health care. The major problem is that the party platform still tries to overcompensate for “Islamophobia” with a kind of Islamophilia that supports Palestinians over Israelis and ignores the tacit support for terrorism in majority Muslim countries.

Any initial rage over 9/11 has become sympathy. The New York City cesspool of the 1970’s has been replaced by an admiration for the character of the community and the embrace of the left-leaning culture of the very liberal people there. This has also helped Donald Trump. The apprentice premiered in 2004, at a time when the city was coming back economically and Trump was the most flamboyant real estate figure. It didn’t have to defend making money, it celebrated the American Dream. It also represents the current American Dream, getting on a reality show.

In 17 years, we have fancier cell phones and have become comfortable with communicating with human beings online more than offline. That has changed society, but so has 9/11. I can honestly say I don’t know what happens next.

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Large and In Charge

September 8, 2018
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The Founding Fathers had no real opinion about a guy like Donald Trump becoming president, but they did have opinions about one man being in charge. In many countries, the party with the legislative majority votes one of their own into office as a Prime Minister. In the US, the president is chosen by the states (not the people, which is another long diatribe about federalism) and can be a different party than the legislative majority. In fact, Republicans and Democrats have had the presidency for an almost equal number of years in the last 100 years. By 2020, it will be exactly equal. However, Republicans have only been the majority in both houses for 27 years, most of which was in the last 20 years.

What the Founders didn’t like was the consolidation of power. Majorities are in the Constitution rather than parties and the president had much less power. At the outset, the president was there when quick, unilateral decisions were required. However, the president was later granted the ability to wage wars and approve treaties that were enacted under “emergency” conditions. Eventually, Congress would rubber stamp White House actions so they didn’t have to take the heat, sometimes regardless of party.

In the modern era we have concepts like executive privilege and executive orders which grant the president broad power and protection unless the Congress takes action against him. However, this power has been transferred to the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch over time and the Democrats held Congress for almost 60 years straight in the House until 1995. In fact, Donald Trump is the Republican to enter the Presidency with an existing Republican Congressional majority that held for 2 years since Herbert Hoover.

The “imperial” presidency actually grew over a period of time. While Obama used it to go around a Senate that did not have enough votes to override a veto, he was also acting as a member of the Democratic Party. In the case of Trump, he is generally acting in the interests of the Republican Party, but is not really interested in supporting the GOP in legislation that doesn’t match his goals.

Aside from Congress, the presidency is important because every adult in the country has the opportunity to vote yes or no on the presidency. In general, voters prefer confidence and swagger over position papers and policy wonks. This is not a bad thing. If the job requires decisive action, the president needs to be confident.

The emerging issue with Trump and his cocksure attitude is that the people who oppose or resit him are not actually willing to use the tools at their disposal, If 19 Republican Senators truly opposed Trump on an Executive Order, for example, they could simply join the Democrats and override it. A senior adviser could resign and spill the tea about the administration. If you’re Omarosa, you can apparently play the tape as well. One “adviser” chose to (anonymously) call Donald Trump names in a New York Times Op-Ed. Again, he could have resigned or possibly talked to 19 Republican Senators about the dangerous state of the country.

Donald Trump’s nature is to make proclamations and dare people to oppose him. Then he either bullies them until they give up or pays them off quietly. It takes action to stop that. In 2016, the GOP was paralyzed and just kept hoping that someone other than Trump would win the nomination. The left stood by (after spending a year promoting him) hoping that calling Trump a sexist would help Hillary win the election. Now, the people not in charge are hoping to paint Trump as abnormally crazy instead of limiting the power of the presidency, because they want to retain it for when they have the president’s ear again.

Donald Trump rejects your status quo and substitutes his own.


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Retcon

August 26, 2018
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Retroactive continuity describes an installment of a story that contradicts elements of earlier installments. Bobby Ewing dies on Dallas, but they want to bring him back, so what really happened is that Pam dreamed an entire season of the show.

With Trump and McCain, the story starts sometime around the primaries. The then candidate made a remark that being a “war hero” and being captured are incompatible with each other. The best part for me, is that there were actually two statements made.

He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.

followed the same day by:

If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero.

It’s clear as mud. Trump went on to win the nomination with 44% of the vote and the election with 46%. Since the Senate was similarly close, Republicans had limited options to fix health care. The solution was to do a “skinny repeal” that mostly eliminated some of the mandates to carry health insurance. In reality, Trump has been doing his best to knock off the marketplace anyway and the skinny repeal would do nothing for Medicaid expansion, the true legacy of Big Government Obamacare.

McCain’s decisive “no” vote made him an enemy of Trump and also to most Trump supporters. I can understand some animosity over McCain taking a PR victory from Trump or refusing to eliminate a part of Obamacare while the rest would be in place. However, this repeal was much like the trickery used by Democrats to pass an Obamacare bill after they lost their 60th Senate seat. McCain didn’t like it then (and was mocked by Obama for it) and he didn’t do it for the Trump (who also mocked him, another similarity to Obama).

What I don’t understand is the retcon of McCain’s entire life that followed. He was called a RINO, a member of “the swamp,” and a Deep State Operative. Then there are the ridiculous stories about McCain being brainwashed or working with the Vietnamese during the war. Those are the true morons, and the ones who let those nutty theories go unchallenged probably have a few missing IQ points as well.

John McCain was a complex guy, but he was no more a traitor than the millionaire who got a deferment for shin splints.


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Two Minute Hate

July 30, 2018
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During the second debate of the 2012 Presidential Election, CNN’s Candy Crowley did something that both damaged the Romney campaign’s momentum and destroyed the credibility of her profession. When Romney challenged Obama on the description of the tragedy of Benghazi, Crowley chose to pull up a transcript, which not only gives outside material to a debater, but also used it to argue in Obama’s favor against Romney.

What did Obama know and when did he know it is important. With only days before the election, a terrorist attack in Benghazi was only a possibility. In fact, the administration knew it was a reality before 9/11/12 was even over in the US. It was in one of Hillary’s e-mails.

For me, this is where I’m done with the e-mail excavation. By the time it was proven that Obama knew that it was a terror attack and decided to keep that from the voters, I consider that a conspiracy. Except that Obama was a lame duck and so the hunt continued for Clinton e-mails, then the obsession over “missing” e-mails. I could care less about locking her up. What aren’t we locking Obama up?

What I don’t particularly like about the new Trump Party is the random serving from one squirrel to another. The current fixation seems to be on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, She’s one of the outliers that happens every election season who inexplicably beats an incumbent who was presumed to be in no danger. She will win her house seat because she is a Democrat in one of the most liberal districts in Manhattan. A Republican was never going to win. Yet somehow, we all need to live in fear of her because Cortez is what Democrats really stand for. If they really stood for the kind of socialism Cortez does, then there should be more Democrats like her. Republicans would win all the time.

Then there’s the Mueller investigation, or the Justice Department Investigation. Radio show hosts are losing their minds over this, even though there is supposedly no evidence and Trump did nothing wrong. If there’s nothing there, there won’t be any evidence. If evidence is being manufactured, I’m pretty sure Fox News will figure that out. Tonight, radio institution Mark Levin suggested we feel sorry for Donald Trump and all he’s been though. Boo-hoo. He’s a (kind of) billionaire who left many business partners in debt and alienated all the Republicans in Congress who might have been inclined to help him. If there was a book on how to act guilty, Tony Schwartz would be writing it right now about President Trump.

If Trump’s record speaks for itself, let it speak. Stop making it embarrassing to be a Republican, because I won’t trade in my beliefs for this incompetent boob. The two-minute hate of going after minor annoyances is ridiculous.


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Putting the Ass in Aspiration

July 5, 2018
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When Rush Limbaugh hit the airwaves in the 1990’s, he filled a huge void in the media landscape. After him, dozens of others entered the field and the market largely supported them. Fox News came along in 1996 and also filled a void that predated social media. The peak was between 2009 and 2016, when the atrocities of the Obama administration were debated and fought against. Now Donald Trump is president, the Republican control Congress and tastes have changed.

A good example is Glenn Beck. He was in radio for years and had a show on HLN until 2009. He promoted the Tea Party movement before other Fox hosts and had Sarah Palin on his first episode. The relationship with Palin soured, Beck started his own streaming network. Worst of all, he backed the wrong horse in 2016.

It appears that there is an easy way for conservatives to save floundering media empires. Express unwavering support for President Trump and you have a way forward. If you question Trump’s motives or actions or his ability to do the job, get ready for a boycott of your “Never Trump” company or hurry up and sign a contract with CNN or MSNBC.

Today, I was listening to a couple of talk radio shows. Sean Hannity, the man who has nine figures of income invested in Michael Cohen advised real estate, went on a tirade about Never Trumpers and how they are the sole roadblock in the Trump agenda. Further, not voting for Donald Trump was “half a vote for Hillary.” Hannity then created the narrative that he had to convince people from the start that he knew Trump would push a conservative agenda. In reality, Sean had said multiple times that he would support any of the dozen Republican candidates who were conservative enough to come on his show (including Jeb!) because they were all better than Hillary.

On the other hand, there’s Michael Medved. Medved is a film critic who went to the same university as Bill and Hillary, but became a conservative. After guest hosting on Rush’s show many times, he eventually got a radio show of his own. However, Medved isn’t Trump enough and is in danger of being dropped by the radio network. His show today lamented the list of big names in conservatism who decided to leave the Republican Party in the age of Trump. This is the other side of the “half a vote for Hillary” argument. Leaving your seat at the table leaves you without a table. I know this. Only about 3% of voters ended up choosing Gary Johnson and he had 3 times the vote of the next lowest vote-getter.

Donald Trump is a cult of personality and not much different than Barack Obama in that regard, except for the profession of the cheerleaders for their president. George W. Bush and even Bill Clinton had support that was more ideological than personal. Not only is it impossible to discuss ideas and core philosophies with Trumpers, too many of them are just plain assholes. They worship the purity of the Day One Trump lover and are suspicious of the grudging supporter of Trump’s achievements. In fact, any disagreement could lead to the scarlet N. Most days, I can take or leave Trump, but it’s rare when I can take one of his sycophants.


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Everyone Wants to Blow Stuff Up

June 23, 2018
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Bill and Hillary Clinton knew about the importance of transnational government. When Bill left office, a lot of people owed the Clinton’s and Hillary’s political career was the payback.

Since the D’Amato machine wound down in New York, the state never saw another Republican in the Senate. Literally, all Hillary had to do was push the other women out of her way for the Senate seat that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was willing to give her. However, 2008 saw a group of upstarts who saw a weak Democratic field and chose to take on establishment candidate, much like Bill Clinton did in 1992.

After Obama, The Clintons made sure to make the Obama administration indebted to them as well. While Bernie Sanders put up a fight, Hillary was the anointed one this time. The only problem is that there are only so many Democrats out there.

While there is a left wing and a moderate (more left) wing out there, there isn’t exactly a civil war going on. The Republicans, however, are at war. The GOP had about 12 years between 1994 and 2006 where they had control over significant parts of the government process. In that time, however, much of their leadership (Gingrich) was run out of town and the Red wave of 1994 was made up of people like Joe Scarborough and Lindsey Graham.

After Republicans were deemed obsolete in 2008, a group of people started to rally and organize. They were known as the Tea Party. What’s interesting is that looking at the numbers, there must have been a lot of people who were sick enough of Bush and “McSame” to vote for Barack Obama. Within a year, there was a level of buyer’s remorse. This was an emotional reaction from being played.

The current Obama to Trump voter (with a possible stop for Romney in between) prefers to believe that Donald Trump exists outside the system and that the ones being played are the ones they hate. Trump encourages this because he’d rather be worshiped by a few than moderately liked by many.

So, the Republicans who pre-dated the 1994 takeover are either middle-aged and older voters or politicians approaching the median age of death. One of those is George Will. Will “left” the Republican party when Trump got the Republican nomination in 2016 and was terminated by Fox on Trump’s inauguration day. The news this week is that he advocated that no one vote Republican as long as Trump is the leader of the party.

The reality is that Will is stuck in the 1980’s. He has criticized every Republican since Reagan and is practically the embodiment of the perfect being the enemy of the good. He is a symptom of a Trump administration where allies have to sacrifice for Trump and intellectual honesty is met with the Twitter equivalent of “yo mama” jabs.

In my case, the member of Congress will either be a Democrat or a rabid Trump supporter. However, many Republicans get to choose a moderate Republican. A majority of Democrats in Congress will only amplify the fear that would get Trump reelected. How do I know? Because Trump is doing the same things Barack Obama did.

Trump is blowing up D.C. His enemies are blowing up stuff in response. It’s fun to blow stuff up rather than govern. Rather than being the adult in the room, Trump is setting the tone by being Arthur Bach. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true.


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President Trump’s Policies Will Eliminate More Jobs Than McDonalds’ Kiosks

June 6, 2018
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What makes Economics a field of study is the way unexpected (or unintended) consequences can come from seemingly positive actions. Two stories this week are good examples. One is the news that the unemployment rate is at historic lows and that job openings exceed the number of job seekers. The other is that McDonalds is going to roll out self-serve kiosks in all of its stores.

First, the kiosks. Conservative bloggers jumped to their keyboards touting the idea that because a couple of liberal cities are raising wages to $15 per hour, McDonalds flipped the switch on replacing counter jockeys with autonomous kiosks. This leaves out a couple of important facts.

  • 70% of McDonalds business is in the drive thru lanes
  • If you watch the front of a McDonalds, none of the registers are manned at all times.
  • McDonalds are putting in more kiosk screens than the current number of counter registers.
  • McDonalds makes money off franchise owners paying them fees. The corporation could care less about the minimum wage at a store.

If you go to a fast food restaurant like McDonalds, it is difficult to just look at the menu. First of all, not every item (or customization) is listed. If you stand around the front, one of those people who isn’t at the register will come up and ask if you’re ready to order. You can put them off to look, but eventually you feel a little guilty from messing up the flow.

However, if you can stand at your own menu board, you can choose what you want, make changes, not worry about entry errors on the cashier’s side and maybe order something you never saw on a menu before. McDonalds found that people order more from a kiosk, partly because they don’t take cash, partly because you can look up what you want and partly because you don’t have to worry about holding up the line. Plus, you can sit down and someone will bring your order to you. Maybe it’s the person who was supposed to be fired.

On the other hand, more openings than applicants in the job market is one of those “good problem to have” situations. It’s good for the applicants because they can demand better wages and don’t have to have quite as many qualification. In my experience, however, job postings are not the same as future jobs.

Here’s a case in point. A company down the road from me has postings to increase their employee population by 8%. These listings have been in place for months. Some jobs have been re-posted from the beginning of the year. If they desperately needed these positions filled, logic would dictate that they would either have to take less “perfect” candidates or raise the pay scale to get their perfect match.

When there are more candidates than jobs, employers are more likely to assume they have highly qualified and motivated applicants and hire the best of the bunch. When pickings are slim, they fear hiring people who seem high risk. Instead, they make due with more overtime (wanted or not) and automation. It’s more likely you buy a robot to keep from hiring someone than to specifically fire someone.

Am I right? It doesn’t matter because economics is about the perception of decision makers and their reaction to a situation. It’s not easy to predict.


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It’s Sarah Palin’s Fault?

May 29, 2018
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John McCain, who incidentally lived longer than the 8 year presidential term liberals thought he couldn’t live through, has been using his last months to settle scores and define his legacy. Among his revelations is that his campaign staff convinced him to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Unsurprisingly, those same campaign people also trashed her since the day after the election of 2008.

I understand that McCain may have wanted to pal around with Joe Lieberman on the 2008 Grumpy Old Men Campaign Tour, but there is no way in hell that would have beaten the Obama train. What’s been happening in the last few weeks is more about the rest of the media drawing a line from Palin to Donald Trump.

My personal opinion is that Palin’s early endorsement of Trump after sitting out the 2012 primary season, helped to gain Trump a significant wing of the Republican Party. I also think that Palin never got the respect she deserved from most of the Republican Party. She probably decided that the people who supported her were mores supportive of Trump than Ted Cruz.

However, this idea that Palin is as inarticulate and toxic as Trump is ridiculous. She re-energized the McCain campaign while also being an effective governor. Her missteps are few and far between. She doesn’t tacitly support racists or school shooters or whatever else the dumbass media accuse her of. Palin has decided not to try winning over the people who hate her, which is always a good idea.

I am part of a very small fraction of conservatives who thinks that Governor Palin was a rising star in the party who was largely abandoned when she proved she was better than the GOP at connecting with disaffected voters. At the same time, I also think that Donald Trump is doing damage to the Republican Party and the result will either be a complete redefinition or the death of the Republicans. I know Trump doesn’t care. I kind of wonder if Palin does.


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A Three Legged Stool

May 20, 2018
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It’s entirely possible to argue about the long-term implications of a Trump presidency. Donald Trump could fail in a way that prematurely kills interest in the Republican Party and we could end up with decades of Democrats like we did after the crash of 1929. Or, Trump could drain the swamp and usher in a baby boomer era of prosperity and government accountability. We probably won’t have any idea which it will be for six more months.

Whatever is happening in the Trump administration depends on the balance of the House, Senate and White House. Trump is (probably) in until 2020. The Senate can be held, but there is a lot of variability in the House.

The “strong and wrong” model of the Trump presidency really highlights the lack of direction of the Republican party. Trump’s original base wanted a big ass wall and tortured Islamists. None of those things are happening. We have a tax cut package that had to be revenue neutral for scoring purposes, which means mostly tax preparers are making money.

Republicans have little to campaign on, and even less on the local level. At this point, Democrats can campaign on the blue collar economic issues that Trump talked about. There are good job numbers, but people aren’t getting better jobs. Wage growth is stagnant. Housing prices are rising as well as gas prices. These were the conditions before the Great Recession.

The response to this kind of reality usually involves Trump not being Hillary Clinton. The problem is that Hillary made Democrats stay home or vote for Jill Stein. Hillary still got more votes. Now Democrats face the prospect of voting for the candidate who will help defeat Trump. On the other hand, Republicans will vote for a candidate from a Congress that Trump has frequently insulted and blamed for his failures.

Ironically, losing Congress would help Trump 2020 because life under a Democrat congress would be pretty bad and it would be the argument Trump could use to get reelected. While I am amused by Trump’s failures, there is no Democrat that would be better. Therefore, I remain indifferent.


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Restate Chose to Shania Itself

April 28, 2018
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Just before Kanye West boarded the Trump Train, there was social media firestorm over Shania Twain. The Canadian pop success gave an interview where she said that she understood why people in the US voted for Trump. That alone led to two things. First, Trumpers jumped on the bandwagon and proclaimed she was red-pilled (which is just the right-wing version of “woke”). Then, she was attacked on social media by most of the entertainment community. When Twain apologized, the right disowned her. Ironically, they never actually owned her and went from excessively loving her to excessively hating her in a span of a few hours.

That is Trumpism.

Diversity of opinion is an illusion at this point. If the last couple of two term GOP presidents are any indication, Republican support for President Trump will wane by about 2022, but will be strongest until the next election in 6 months. To that end, the site Redstate thinned its herd of writers who were being paid by the click. While not all writers who criticized Trump were fired, the ones who got the most money from Salem Media seemed to get the ax.

Sadly, the pro-Trumpers there will get more clicks from fellow Trumeprs who see this as a victory. The Trump critics will see their click rates fall from a general abandonment of Redstate by people who accepted that diversity. Frankly, I’m over Redstate. Susan Wright is at The Resurgent anyway. Of course, Redstate will lose even more readers because the pro-Trump stuff isn’t “Conservative Treehouse” rabid enough. Then it will be absorbed.

At least Salem Media will now have easier access to that sweet Russian troll ad money.

 


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