Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another reason why Democrats lose elections (despite being on the right side of issues)

Question: Why did it take horrific pictures of ex-wives with black-eyes to alert everyone to the security clearance problem in the White House? More so, how is it Democrats in DC didn't first get word of this serious problem and inform the media?

I have to believe if Obama or Hillary were POTUS, Republicans would've been all over this scandal, early, finding out about it through leaks and word of mouth (which flow like water in Washington). Next thing the Fox News channel is covering it 24/7, demanding resignations and even impeachment.

As it was, Obama had to run a super-tight ship ethically because he knew that even a hint of scandal, no matter how baseless, would get out and spread like wildfire. Republicans are forever trying to find wrong-doing to hopefully hang Democrats -- to the point where they usually just fabricate "scandal" (see Benghazi).

Yet with Trump, we have a scandal-o-rama, seemingly nonstop incidents of real wrong-doing, often involving very serious violations. But how often are Democrats credited with uncovering any of these? Again, in this case of Porter's security clearance problem, which gravitated to Kushner and others, we the public can thank the media after explicit photos were released. Initially, it was a MeToo scandal with Porter needing to leave for prior domestic abuse, but then with further scrutiny it morphed into a national security scandal. And only then did we see a bunch of Dem politicians scurry to MSNBC and CNN to pile on condemnation.

This is one reason why Democrats lose more elections than they should, especially since they tend to be on the right side (the side most Americans favor) with most issues. They're simply too polite and respectful when it comes to playing hardball politics. They need to be more cagy and savvy when it comes to uncovering "dirt" on the other side. (And of course I mean real, actual scandal -- unlike Republicans and their many fake BOMBSHELL scandals (yawn)).

With this administration, uncovering scandal is as easy as falling out of a boat and hitting water. However, Trump doesn't have to worry with Schumer, Pelosi et al on the beat.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Conservatism In Exile -- Really?

This morning on Morning Joe, Joe and the gang were waxing nostalgic for the good old days of true blue conservatism. You know, like it was back when Reagan was in office.

I'm no spring chicken and I fully recall those days. I call "fake news!" What are Joe et al thinking about?

Look, I get that Trump and today's GOP would have anyone wanting to disassociate from anything even remotely resembling this rotten cast of characters. But let's keep it real.

As I've said repeatedly, Trump didn't just appear on the scene out of nowhere. He's not some invader from outer space who seduced one party into having him as their nominee.

Rather it's been a gradual evolution (actually devolution) of the Republican Party that has resulted in Trump as POTUS. Admit it! Don't rub your eyes in disbelief, trying to figure out how we got here. The lineage has been fairly straightforward. Reagan to Gingrich to GW/Cheney to Tea Party to Trump. Go ahead, wince, but that's more or less been the regression.

I have argued that today's GOP and Trump simply represent "conservatism" on steroids, to its extreme. And it's just very difficult for many to accept this ugly reality -- understandably.

Joe Scarborough never actually explains what he means by the conservatism he longs for, other than to just mention the name of Reagan and his supposed legacy (much of which has become folklore).

Let's revisit much of what occurred in the 1980s or during the heyday of "real" conservatism.

  • Reagan cut taxes and blew up the deficit. So has Trump and today's GOP. 
  • Reagan's tax cuts were skewed towards favoring the rich and wealthy. So are Trump's tax cuts. 
  • Republicans then were against government spending -- unless a Republican was POTUS, then it was OK. The same holds true with Trump and today's GOP.
  • Re spending, Reagan emphasized the military. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was big on rolling back regulations. Trump and today's GOP the same.
  • Reagan was not hugely pro-environment (see James Watt). Trump and today's GOP same, to say the least!
  • Conservatives then were very much pro-gun, pro-NRA, don't infringe on their rights to bear arms. Not true today?
  • And of course the anti-abortion holds true then and now....

What am I missing? What is Joe Scarborough recalling that I seemed to have either forgotten or misinterpreted? Seriously. Enough with this mushrooming group of "recovering" Republicans (Scarborough, Frum, Kristol, Will, etc.) who seemingly pretend that their party was once something wholly different than what we're observing today. Me thinks they doth protest too much. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Obviously Undemocratic

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently ruled that the state's congressional district map needed to be redrawn. Of course, Trump weighed in against the Court, tweeting, "Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new 'pushed' Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct!"

The original map was correct? Really? I suspect that like everything the POTUS says, the truth is likely the opposite.

Before Trump won PA by the slimmest of margins (with the help of Russian meddling and Comey's preelection letter), the state had sided with the Democratic presidential candidate for the last six elections, going back to Bill Clinton in 1992. That's right, 6-0 for the "D" candidate.

As for registered voters in the state, here's the breakdown:

Democratic: 48%
Republican: 38%
Other: 14%

Clearly, Democratic voters outnumber Republican in PA.

And yet Pennsylvania has 13 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and just 5 Democrats. That's right, 72% of their 18 U.S. House seats are Republican despite PA obviously being a "D" state.

At the state level, Pennsylvania has 155 Republican state representatives and just 98 Democratic reps, or 61% of the state House seats are Republican.

I think the verdict for the Supreme Court was a no-brainer, one a 5th grader could've deduced.

The unfortunate reality is this type of egregious gerrymandering remains in place in several other states. It's fair to surmise that with a more level playing field, Republicans would not be able to win House majorities at either the federal or state levels, so they must rely on these undemocratic district maps to jerry-rig the vote count in their favor. (Not to mention the enactment of widespread voter suppression measures).

With the 2010 Republican gerrymandering combined with Trump as POTUS, the United States has likely never been more undemocratic.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Trump and the plunging stock market

Over the last few days, the stock market has been plunging, effectively wiping out two months worth of gains.

But where are the Trump tweets now concerning the market? He's been stone silent on this topic, a topic he has loved to comment on repeatedly since taking office. Whenever the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit a new high, we heard about it. The rising stock market became synonymous with Trump, largely due to him taking full credit for its rise.

I cannot ever recall another president in history so frequently commenting on the market. Past presidents likely realized that:
1) The stock market is an incredibly complex apparatus that moves for many reasons, most of which even the "experts" cannot fathom at the time (markets discount the future, making it difficult to ascertain why prices are rising or falling in the here and now). That said the POTUS is only one of several factors impacting the market at any given time.
2) If you bought it, you own it. Prior presidents fully understood that if you want to take credit for a rising stock market, you better be ready to likewise accept blame for when stocks inevitably head south.
But as we know, Trump is "different" and likely too ignorant to realize both #1 and #2.

The fact remains that Trump's constant tweets and reminders about the market hitting new highs was and is incredibly irresponsible. We all know he's a shameless huckster, a two-bit salesman who will hype the hell out of anything that benefits him. But there are laws and regulations about "selling" when it comes to stocks, bonds, etc. Financial advisors and the like have to be very careful about what they say when it comes to hyping or promising investment performance. They're expected to err on the side of caution, to be prudent and transparent when discussing not just reward but more importantly, risk.

All of these laws and regulations are to protect the investor. It's very easy for someone to get caught up in the hysteria of a rising market, which increasingly makes them susceptible to acting on emotion as opposed to reason. An unscrupulous, dishonest advisor could take full advantage of this situation -- if not for the laws and regulations.

Yet laws and regulations to Trump are just bureaucratic red tape that stand in the way of prosperity. They're a hindrance and not to be taking seriously.

Just imagine how many people were overly influenced by Trump's tweets and incessant mentions of stock market highs, allowing it to color their judgment and perhaps they increased their allocation to stocks above and beyond what was prudent for them. Which was great while the market climbed higher each day, but now with stocks seemingly in free-fall, it's not so fun anymore.

So how many millions or billions of dollars of stock market gains were due to Trump's deliberate, non-stop hyping? And isn't he then on the hook for the losses too? If this stock market downturn continues, can we expect to see investors increasingly blame Trump for their losses? I mean, according to him, it appeared stocks could only go in one direction.

I'm just curious to see how he'll blame things on Obama and/or the Democrats.