Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Iowa Caucus is Tomorrow: IS Donald Trump Campaigning to Lose

Iowa Votes Tomorrow: Does Donald Trump Really Want to Win? Finally, the pre-season is over. 1%, probably more, will turn out to vote in 6 hour Iowa caucuses. They are die-hard politicos. Donald Trump is running for President. We all know that. Yet, his recent behavior is quixotic. First he said he “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” That’s not the right way to shake the “New York Values” tag. He followed that by saying on MSNBC, the networked abhorred by conservatives: “Well, I think that I will be able to get along with Pelosi. I think I’m going to be able to. I’ve always had a good relationship with Nancy Pelosi. I’ve never had a problem.” He had similar good things to say about Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. The Congressional Republicans are the recipients of much of the anger of the Republican base. They believe that the Republican Congress lacks leadership and the will to fight for the principles it campaigned on. They don’t want more negotiations with the Democrats. Donald trump has been a leading critic of the deals reached with the Democrats and the failure to fight many issues. Yet, he broadcast that he could negotiate with them. The Republican base would lambaste any other Republican candidate who expressed a similar statement. Indeed, Governor Bush was eviscerated when he said it earlier with plunging results. The Donald seems to be skating unscathed. Or is he? Iowans take their caucus seriously. Many wait until the caucus to decide because they want to be right. They know their caucus is integral to choosing the next President of the United States. They have the farmbelt ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Thus, the polls are often notoriously inaccurate. Then Donald trump ignored the final debate, which as in Iowa. Maybe he is right that it doesn’t matter with his backers. Yet, it could backfire. He cancelled because of a self-created feud with Fox News, ostensibly because Fox’s popular Megan Kelly was unfair to him in the first debate. He intimated she was suffering from her menstrual cycle in the first debate. Megan Kelly had asked him about his pattern of nasty comments about women. He demanded Roger Ailes remove her from the Iowa debate panel, a request he had to know Roger Ailes would never agree to. He followed up by calling Megan Kelly a bimbo. Way to go with women voters! He has deliberately taken on the one major network, which is conservative and fair and balanced to conservatives. What is he thinking? He’s trashed the “dumb people” on TV who work for the Wall Street Journal. He’s has to realize the influential conservative, editorial page of the Journal will dump on him. Let us assume that Donald Trump is an egotistical narcissist. Let us also assume he’s the poster boy for “arrested development.” But don’t be fooled. He’ a very smart, successful businessman. He can read a balance sheet. He understands cash flow. He does risk-benefit analysis. He has to know that it is almost impossible for him to win the general election. He has to know that he cannot win the election on mostly white male votes. He has offended women, Hispanics, and Muslims with his histrionics. That’s a winning coalition for a Democrat in November. He flirted with entering the primaries in previous election, but pulled back. This time, 2016), he is “all-in. He announced his candidacy, and attacked all the “losers” out there with bombastic insults for everyone else. Dr. Ben Carson, Senator McCain, Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, Brett Bozell, Erick Erickson, Hugh Hewitt, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, John Sununu, Nicole Wallace, Mort Zuckerman, and a host of others. Many today collect friends on Facebook. The Donald is accumulating enemies. The consummate New Yorker knows he won’t even carry New York. Be nice to those you pass on the way up for you will see them again on the way down! His campaign caught fire. He caught lightning in a bottle. Suddenly, he’s winning the polls. Polls aren’t votes. He knows it’s time to fish or cut bait. He’s got to put real money in his campaign if he continues. Odds are that he is asset rich, but cash poor. He’s a real estate developer. It’s been fun, and he’ll love to be President, but the risk analysis is unfavorable. Why not cut his losses in Iowa? Let the unrepresentative caucuses vote for Senator Cruz, who has discovered his evangelical roots, but may drown in ethanol. Maybe Senator Rubio or Senator Paul or Governor Christy or Governor Kasich or Governor Bush will pull a surprise. Maybe Governor Huckabee or Senator Santorum will reclaim the Evangelical vote. Maybe the caucus voters will be so upset with the bombastic candidates that they will vote for Dr. Carson. And maybe the Donald will survive to New Hampshire.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tonight's Democratic Debate: Senator Sanders versus Secretary of State Clinton: Who Cares?

Tonight is the Democratic Debate between Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York, Arkansas, Illinois or the world, and Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland. Why watch? Why would you believe anything Secretary Clinton says? The faux populist was once a Goldwater Republican and a Director of WalMart while her husband was a populist Governor of Arkansas. Her views vary with the wind and focus groups. Why trust Secretary Clinton who defended her husband’s philandering by organizing the Campaign Against Bimbo Eruptions, in which women who came forward with claims of sexual assault against her husband were trashed. That is the real War Against Women – not her faux War Against Women. Bill Clinton’s conduct was as reprehensible as Bill Cosby’s. Why Senator Sanders? The Senator is authentic. He’s been a true progressive when it wasn’t popular. He has consistently adhered to his economic views. They may be wrong, but they are honest. Who cares if Secretary Clinton scores points tonight? She is as authentic as a three dollar bill. She has the arrogance of charging Senator sanders with changing positions. I forget, is she from Illinois, Arkansas, or New York? You should hear her fake Southern accent. Does Secretary Clinton live in Chappaqua or in her townhouse in Georgetown? Is Secretary Clinton a populist? She hasn’t driven a car in two decades. Why trust Secretary Clinton. She pulled a Brian Williams in claiming to have landed under fire. Why trust Secretary Clinton when she cried poverty having signed a multi-million dollar book contract. Why trust Secretary Clinton when she chronically lied about her government email? Why trust Secretary Clinton when she three Ambassador Stephens under the Benghazi bus? Why trust Secretary Clinton when she lied about the cause of Benghazi, blaming it on a video nobody had watched? Senator Sanders is originally from Brooklyn. He has New York values. Secretary Clinton may list Chappaqua as her legal resident, but she lacks New York values. We know she lacks New York values because she lacks values. The Secretary is attacking the Senator on gun control and ObamaCare, hoping to attract Democratic votes in the primaries. These issues will be deadly in the general election. Ask Al Gore about Tennessee and West Virginia. Senator Sanders’ views on ObamaCare are simple. It doesn’t go far enough. He believes a single payer system is the desired goal. We’ve already witnessed the disaster of a single payer system with the Veterans Administration, but he’s authentic in his views. She attacks the Senator claiming he is against ObamaCare. She even sent her daughter, Chelsea, out on the stump attacking the Senator for opposing ObamaCare. One can say many wonderful things about Chelsea, but she lacks media presence. She came across stilted as if she were reading talking points she didn’t believe in. How sad! The effect was to increase contributions to the Sanders campaign. Senator Sanders has restricted views on gun control. He represents Vermont, which has a high percent of single issue voters on gun control. Neither he would be a Senator from Vermont or Howard Dean a Governor of Vermont if they supported gun control. What about Governor O’Malley? He’s running on his record as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland. That’s not an attractive CV. Why would believe anything Secretary Clinton says, in or out of the debate?

Friday, January 15, 2016

GE Flees Connecticut for the Tax Haven of Massachusetts

General Cornwallis surrendered the British Army to General Washington at Yorktown in 1781. The British band played “The World Turned Upside Down.” That was my reaction Tuesday when the news emerged that General Electric is leaving the once upon a time tax haven of Connecticut for the infamous Taxachusetts. Massachusetts is attractive to new business. Who wudda thunk Massachusetts would be more attractive to business than Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York? The world is truly turning upside down. New York companies fled to Greenwich and Stamford to escape the high taxes, high cost of living, excessive regulation, and the other hassles of commuting into Manhattan. GE moved to Fairfield, Connecticut 42 years ago. Connecticut was welcoming with open space and no income tax. Massachusetts was developing a reputation, even before Governor Michael Dukakis, as Taxachusetts. The industrial backbone of Massachusetts, such as shoe and textile manufacturing, fled to the South or overseas. Entrepreneurs left. Massachusetts became a solid blue state. It was the only state that George McGovern carried in 1972. Republicans remain an endangered species in the Massachusetts Legislature. Connecticut voters defeated the flaky, liberal Republican Senator Lowell Weicker for reelection in 1988. Yet he made a miraculous return to politics two years later, winning election as Governor of Connecticut as an independent. He campaigned against enacting a broad based income tax. He won the election: Connecticut lost. He quickly changed his mind after the election and jammed a broad based income tax of 4% through the legislature. Connecticut began its decline in population, economic growth, and employment while the public sector, fed by the income tax, inflicted ballooning deferred pension costs on the state. Democratic Governor Donnel Malloy, in thrall to the public employee unions, pushed through (shades of Lowell Weicker) substantial income tax increases in 2011 and 2015. Connecticut’s top tax rates for individuals are 6.99% and 9% for corporations. The tax increases have not solved the state’s budget problems since the Governor and legislature will not cut the budget, similar to the problems in Illinois. The Governor basked in the sunlight Tuesday night as he sat in Michelle Obama’s box at the State of the Union Address. Governor Malloy is the Obama’s favorite governor as he emulates the Obama agenda at the state level. GE warned the state political leaders last year that the company would leave the state if they persisted in their anti-business crusade. The response was skepticism coupled with charges of greedy corporations. They said GE was bluffing. GE knew when it wasn’t wanted. Capital is mobile. So is business. Utilities, hospitals, and universities lack mobility, but companies can move, both from states and overseas. Hartford, the State Capitol, has witnessed the loss of substantial insurance industry jobs in recent decades. GE responded to roughly $145 million in subsidies and benefits from Boston and Massachusetts to move its corporate headquarters and 800 employees to Boston. 200 of the workers are corporate staff, and 600 digital industrial product managers, designers, and developers. The loss of the 200 corporate staffers is most significant because top corporate leaders become major players through personal involvement and contributions in the cultural life of a city and state as well as supporters of the state’s institutions of higher education and museums. Governor Malloy’s less than brilliant response: “We win some. We lose some. This one hurts.” It’s not “We;” it’s the people of Connecticut who lose. The sun is no longer glowing on Governor Malloy. (By was of disclosure, I own shares of GE in my IRA)

The Birther v. New York Values Debate: Is This What the 2016 Election is About?

The Birther v. New York Values Debate: Is This What the 2016 Election Has Devolved To? Today’s commentaries on yesterday’s Republican debate had Ted Cruz winning on points until he was trumped by Trump when tagging the Trump with New York values. Trump won that point by bringing up the brave New York responders on 9/11. The economy is stagnant. Half of the recent college grads, many deeply in debt, can’t get jobs. The military is shrinking. The middle class is shrinking. The Justice Department is politicized. The VA is still incompetent. The IRS continues to sandbag Congress. Our foreign policy is in shambles. ISIS and other Islamic militant groups are striking globally. Iran is sticking it to the United States and President Obama. ObamaCare is despised as Americans realize it represents high costs, high deductibles, and limited coverage. Congress is apparently out of touch with the American people. Our Southern border remains wide open as do the exit gates of GITMO. The Democratic primary is a contest between an avuncular socialist and a chronic liar. Yet, Donald Trump is recycling the same birther issue he raised against President Obama eight years ago. Senator Cruz answers by calling Donald Trump a New Yorker with New York values. These two smart graduates of Ivy League schools are debating birther and New York values. Style points are not a test of leadership. Senator Cruz presumably believes that by essentially calling Donald Trump a Damn Yankee he will reap the benefits in the South Carolina Primary and then the “SEC Primary.” Donald Trump presumably believes that he wins by creating doubt in Senator Cruz’s legitimacy. Both candidates knew these accusations were coming. Neither was a surprise. They were both prepared. My response to Senator Cruz would have been: “That’s a cheap shot by one we expect more of.” My wife is a New Yorker. Her values, her New York values, are American values. My response to the Donald would be: “Get real.” 2016 is not the year of the Gotcha Campaign. The immediate losers in this silly debate are Governor Bush and Ben Carson. Governor Bush’s persona is not to throw red meat at the audience. He looks awkward and inauthentic when he tries. Dr. Carson is too nice and concerned with the real issues to engage in such frivolity. The real losers are the American people who deserve a debate on the issues. Senator Rubio manages to rise above the fray while Carly Fiorina continues to run against Hillary Clinton. Chris Christy continues to be himself. The pundits 17 days before a vote has been cast have reduced the race for the Republican nomination to either the dueling duo or the fearsome foursome of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Christy. No votes have yet been cast by the American people. If the polls at this point in the election cycle had probative value, Howard Dean, George H. W. Bush. Edmund G. Muskie, and Thomas E. Dewey would have won their elections. Hillary Clinton would have been the President the past 8 years. Let’s see how the American people vote.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

President Obama, Clint Eastwood, the Empty Chair, and the 2016 State of the Union Speech

President Obama earlier tonight addressed the nation with his 8th and final State of the Union Address. It was rousingly boring, but made clear the alternative universe he lives in. He laid out a vision of America divorced from reality, but tied to his vision of the world stage. The soaring rhetoric was there, but the public is hoping for change. The President’s War on Coal will intensify as he leads America out of the traditional energy sources into clean energy. The United States will lead the world in manufacturing clean energy equipment - a divorce from reality in the global environment. Detroit is back. It is back manufacturing gas guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks, but he didn't mention that. The Democrats stood, as they must, in applause on several of the President’s talking points, but often without passion. They recognize that their leader is a spent force, threatening their political futures. The President expressed his support for gun control by leaving an empty chair next to First Lady Michelle Obama. His empty chair represents the 4,000 victims of gun violence. The media, of course, touted the empty chair in advance of the speech as a dramatic act for gun control. They thought it was brilliant rather than an empty gesture. There should have been ten empty chairs, reflecting the nine male sailors and one female sailor seized by the Iranians earlier in the day. He said not a word about the ten, but praised Iran for cooperating with the Iran non-treaty treaty. He needed Clint Eastwood’s empty chair to symbolize lack of leadership. The President could borrow Clint’s empty chair from GOP Chair Reince Priebus, who keeps it in his office. Clint Eastwood addressed an empty chair at the 2012 GOP National Convention representing the empty President, the President who spent his time golfing, vacationing and fund raising. the President who was AWOL during Benghazi. Clint Eastwood subsequently explained “President Obama was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” President Obama’s Administration addressed the 2008 Democratic National Convention in front of ten faux grandiose Greek columns as part of a faux Greek Temple. The columns were plywood – hardly a solid foundation for the future. He finished eight years later with an empty chair. The empty chair is a symbol. Does he not see the symbolism? Clint Eastwood was a prophet. President Obama spoke for his legacy. It was there for all to see. And now, he will take that speech out on the road, campaigning for Democrats, fund raising which he said he disliked.

Friday, January 8, 2016

President Obama Recently Shed Crocodile Tears for Gun Control, but What About ……?

President Obama pulled a Speaker Boehner the other day. He was tearing up, over gun control. The tears were flowing. He was emotional. He feels the need for gun control. Where were the tears for Ambassador Stevens when he and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi? The President was AWOL on that one. Where were the tears when Major Nidal Hasan Murdered 13 and wounded 30 at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009? That was simply a case of workplace violence. Where were the tears when James Foley was beheaded by ISIS on August 19, 2014? President Obama rushed out of a press conference to play golf on Martha’s Vineyard. Where were the tears for the victims of the botched ATF gun-walking Operation Fast and Furious? Yes, where were the tears for the murdered border patrol officer, Brian Terry? Just the sounds of silence; the Justice Department stonewalled the documents. Where were the tears earlier today on the failed assassination attempt in the name of Islam on Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett? The White House knew nothing about it. Where were the tears for the 27 deaths and hundreds left homeless last week by the Mississippi River floods? The President has a history of avoiding natural disasters unless he can use it for votes in a reelection campaign (Hurricane Sandy). Where are the tears for the innocent victims of the violence in Chicago? He never mentions the black on black violence. Where are his tears for the victims of the knife attacks in Israel? The same passivity as with the Iranian students who protested the stolen Presidential election in Iran in 2009. Where are the tears for the tens of thousands of coal miners losing their jobs and the companies going bankrupt in his ongoing War on Coal? That’s incidental collateral damage.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Political Prognostications

Four weeks before the Iowa caucus; the voters and not the polls will speak. Here are my predictions for this year's election cycle. Assume the opposite because my predictions have a high degree of unreliability. Donald Trump will not be elected President in December. Indeed, he will not even win the Republican nomination. He’s beginning to slip in the polls. Voters are starting to take a serious look at the candidates – the side show is ending. Donald trump is a highly successful businessman. He is also a highly successful real estate developer, who is often heavily leveraged. That means his free cash flow and cash reserves are low, with substantial debt. The Donald is probably land and building rich, but cash flow. He will soon have to decide how much of his own fortune he shoud invest in the campaign. He’s lived off free publicity until now. He’s promising $2 million a week for 4 weeks in ads. $8 million is chump change in a Presidential election. At what point will he decide to cut hislosses? One by one the candidates will drop out of the race, accelerated by the Iowa Caucus in a month and then the New Hampshire Primary And one by one, the survivors will receive increasing support as the majority of Republican primary voters will coalesce around the non-Trump. Will it be Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Chris Christy, Governor Jeb Bush, or Dr. Ben Carson? Senator Rich Santorum and Governor Mike Huckabee had their Iowa moments in past elections. They won’t be winning this time. Governor Kasich is effectively running as a compassionate conservative. That may appeal in a general election, but will not triumph this year with the Republican base. Chalk him up as a VEEP candidate. Senator Ted Cruz has four advantages. First, he is as outspoken as the Donald, but with more refinement. Second, he is undoubtedly the most brilliant of all the candidates, Republican or Democrat. Third, he is a debater par excellence. He will probably eviscerate Senator Clinton in the debates. Fourth, and most critical in the Iowa caucuses and then New Hampshire, he is reported to have the best ground game. However, he is a lone wolf with an inimitable ability to antagonize people. Hardly anyone who has dealt with him wants him to succeed in anything except failure. He will have trouble winning the nomination. Senator Rubio is currently the consensus choice of the party establishment and the feared candidate of the liberal establishment. The New York Times periodically takes pot shots at him. He has student loans, a mortgage, car payments, and speeding tickets, all of which make him a normal American- quite a rarity in recent Presidential elections. He is even accused of being highly ambitious. What Presidential candidate is not highly ambitious? He is an accomplished politician, having been Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He comes across as a warm, caring, competent. Governor Christie is a great personal campaigner. He will gain momentum through the primaries if he can survive Iowa and New Hampshire. His big problem with the base is not Bridgegate but the photo op with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy devastated coastal New Jersey. He was absolutely right in working with the President in seeking recovery funds and resources for his state. Unfortunately for him, the photo op was at a critical time in the 2012 Election. Republicans remember Governor Jeb Bush, if nominated, has a great chance to defeat Senator Clinton and become a great President. He hopes to win the nomination by surviving the primary gauntlet. Unfortunately he is too soft spoken in a year the voters want red meat. Both Senator Rubio and Governor Bush are forthright about the need for immigration reform. The Senator was part of the “Gang of Eight,” which handicaps him in the Republican primaries, bit would be of value in the general election. The Republican Part cannot last by running off the growing non-white population. Governor Bush has been steadfast in the need for immigration reform and continues to support the Common Core educational curriculum. He proved himself a successful conservative Governor of Florida for eight years, but he may prove too moderate in this election cycle. Dr. Ben Carson has the most compelling personal story, but he peaked too soon. His supporters have apparently been shifting to Senator Cruz. He’s too soft-spoken in the debates. It’s as though Governor Bush and Dr. Carson are competing to see who is the adult in the room. My choices therefore are Senator Rubio, Governors Bush and Christie, and Dr, Carson. The Democratic campaign is currently a snoozer as the media is concentrating on the highly competitive Republican campaign, especially on the statements and mis-statements of Donald trump. They believe Senator Clinton has the Democratic nomination in the bag, and will be anointed President in November. Don’t be so sure. Senator Bernie Sanders has the potential to defeat Senator Clinton in both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. If he pulls the double upset, then the socialist has the momentum to win the nomination. Senator Clinton has a major problem. Her success may be a mile wide, but it’s only an inch deep. Senator Sanders is doing his best not to savage Senator Clinton in the caucuses and primaries, but the voters know who she is. The Senator has a major league credibility problem and probably cannot make it through the campaign without one of her snarly remarks or out of place cackles. She does not connect with the people, unlike her husband who was a natural politician. Senator Clinton comes across as smarter than any of us. And she knows it! Hillary Clinton will be running with two albatross’ around her neck. Senator Clinton will be no more able to run against the legacy of President Obama than Republican nominee Mitt Romney could run against the legacy of Governor Mitt Romney. As Secretary of State to President Obama’s failing and flailing foreign policy, she’s stuck with Benghazi, Iran, Israel, and emails. Any blowup with terrorism, Iran, or Israel will hurt her campaign. Vice President Al Gore partially lost to Governor George W. Bush because of the dislike for President William Jefferson Clinton. Her husband at some point will probably remind the American people that his Administration was political and personal scandal after scandal. President Obama will spend much of the year, when he’s not golfing or vacationing, campaigning for the Democratic nominee and fundraising for the Democratic Party. He is campaigning for his legacy. President Obama has found relentless campaigning is easier over the past seven years than governing. He will try to turn out his coalition of minorities and woman for the woman candidate. The money will flow, but the votes won’t. The Republicans will pull a clean sweep with the Presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and local races. They may lose a few seats, but they may also gain a few.