Election Recap

In our Oct. 5,2016 post THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME we declared “Trump can only win with 65% of the white vote of a greater white turnout. He might get this last great white hurrah but what then?” Turns out we were wrong. All he needed to claim victory was approximately the same number of  votes as Romney in 2012 according to MIC.com. It’s early so this may change but assuming it’s close to the truth, this is stunning. How was this possible? The Democratic vote was discouraged. They simply didn’t show up. Why? First of all Hillary  Clinton was a bad candidate. Our ALL IN THE PLAN? post of April 27,2015 suggested that  Hillary’s potential legal problems would lead her to being replaced with Joe Biden. Democrats would probably be a lot happier today if they had gone in that direction. But she was such a weak flawed candidate she had big trouble putting away a 75-year-old socialist. This meant it would be hard to replace Hillary with Biden over the claims of the runner-up. Instead,we got FBI Chief James Comey declining to recommend prosecution while telling the world she was a liar and irresponsible. Not what you’d want to hear about a presidential candidate. Still, she consistently ran ahead of Trump except for right after the Republican Convention in the Real Clear Politics Poll of Polls. Now lately polling hasn’t covered the profession with glory, but nothing showed a big increase in Republican votes and indeed their vote came out pretty much the same as 2012. However, the democratic vote apparently dropped by over 5 million. This appears to have occurred in the three weeks before the election. A few things could account for the diminished democratic enthusiasm. Obama care’s large premium  increases coming at this time might have influenced voters but this would’ve increased the Republican total while diminishing Pres.Obama’s popularity. Neither of which occurred.

The answers are found elsewhere. First WikiLeaks constantly airing scads purloined emails showing Hillary and Democrats in a bad light. It seemed as if there were new ones everyday creating a constant negative narrative in the media. The scary part of this is the fact Russia was behind the hacking of the emails according to 17 federal intelligence agencies. While some media outlets mentioned this after they aired the emails, some never did. The source of the emails should have prefaced any mention such as “Russian hacked emails released today by WikiLeaks said…” Unfortunately this almost never happened. Apparent Russian interference in a Presidential election decided by a razor-thin margin, wasn’t as horrifying to others as it was to us. However,as this sinks in, it could well  undermine the legitimacy of the Trump Presidency. After all, it’s hard to overlook the fact only 112,000 votes in three key flipped states, Wisconsin, Michigan & Pennsylvania, cost Clinton the election and not think Russian-WikiLeaks releases accounted for at least this much and more.

Against this background of the incessant email releases, FBI Chief James Comey against all protocols saw fit to send his vague letter to Congressional leaders about newly discovered significant emails 11 days before the election. Of course, people assumed something  major  found was against Hillary if he did this so close to the election. While this heavy weight hovered over her, prominent Fox News Anchor Bret Baier  announced he had good sources telling him she was facing indictment. Given Baier is a respected journalist,the report went viral. You couldn’t turn on talk radio, check the web or social media without it being front and center. Liberal media might have missed how big this was because these aren’t the sources they usually follow but an awful lot of people do. It energized those leaning Trump while turning wavering Republicans and Independents away from Hillary. They began to conclude Trump may be bad but at least we wouldn’t have a President facing criminal charges. Could anyone be blamed for feeling this way? This all meant  the media was dominated by negative stories on Hillary while driving off Trunp’s negative ones. .Donald couldn’t have  wished for more..

The only thing wrong with both these bombshells,there was no substance to them. On Sunday 2 days before the election, Comey sent another letter saying they found nothing. This came after Baier was found making a relatively quiet apology for his erroneous report. Both men owned up to their errors but only days before the election. After still hearing people even today saying they couldn’t vote for someone facing “indictment”(only Baier used this term), we conclude this was hardly enough time to right these wrongs before the election. Remember as Jonathan Swift said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” You just can’t unring a bell.

At this moment Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote, so over half of the population is feeling down. As readers are well aware we didn’t favor either candidate, but we can sympathize with these voters feeling ill-treated. Getting hammered by the Russians, the FBI Chief and a major cable anchor days just before an election isn’t going to make a Trump Presidency more acceptable or legitimate to this majority. Being “Moscow’s Man” is hardly a great place start a new administration.

After the first few days of Gumbaya (maybe not even that given protests in 25 cities), the reality of an unpopular President a majority of Americans refused to vote for but whose party controls everything will sink in. What will he do? Most Presidents come in with governing philosophy and a program. With Trump we’re not sure. Will he really try to enact his divisive first 100 day program? Maybe he’ll bury the hatchet and unite behind speaker Paul Ryan’s  “A Better Way” program. Or he cold lean toward Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and start with a “Huge” jobs (infrastructure) program, the Obama Stimulus on steroids, and subsidies for child care. Or he could freelance. Trump has had so many positions it’s hard  to even guess. One thing is certain, he can’t get too far from his base that is the source of his power. If he moves to conciliation and inclusiveness he risks being seen as  just another politician or a monumental fraud enraging his followers. Without them he would be just a rubber stamp for Congressional Leaders. With them he can continue to threaten retribution against any Republican. Because of this we don’t see Trump changing what got him here. It would be political suicide.

This is the Republican conundrum, they may get somethings such as a Supreme Court Justice, tax cuts and a Obamacare repeal but with Trump it may be impossible to widen their base for the future. It’s doubtful the same number of votes will win in 2020. He might even prove to be more of a progressive than they guessed. How long before conservatives head for or are pushed out the door. Without hatred of Hillary to unite Trump and conservatives the animosity is likely to reemerge. Right from the start, the national security wing of the party has to be aghast we have a President in no small measure owing the Russians for his victory. Only if one side or the other does a 180 on their principles can they continue to coexist.The question is,have the Republicans made a Faustian bargain? Some success today at the cost of their future.

Democrats woke up after the election forced to face the realization Obama was a disaster for their party. While personally winning two presidential elections, his two terms  disseminated the party at every  elective level. For 2016, Democrats had the unappealing choice between a failed governor (Martin O’Malley), a 75-year-old socialist (Bernie Sanders) and failed Presidential Primary candidate with more baggage than a cruise terminal.(Clinton).  How could their bench be so empty? Simply by losing at every governmental level when Obama wasn’t on the ballot. The Governor’s Mansions and the Senate are the usual farm clubs for Presidential Candidates but with the Republicans achieving their majorities at every level, the young Democrats never got started. Even now, can anyone name even three likely Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates. Only two women come to mind, Elisabeth Warren and Michele Obama. Interesting, but each would have their problems, Warren too far left and Obama too soon. For them or anyone else to have chance, the party machinery has to be totally rebuilt. Their vaunted “get out the vote plan” proved to be a paper tiger without Barrack on the ballot. They need a DNC chairman similar to Reince Priebus for nuts and bolts but with a better sense of “Institutional Image” he so sorely lacked.(see A Tale of Two CEOs: Stumpf & Priebus) On paper the Democrats should have a wealth of bright diverse young potential candidates for political office.Someone has to find and back them. Just as important, they need to become a party of ideas. Rather than just offering freebies and fighting culture wars,some real solutions to our problems could go a long way to restoring the public’s faith in Democrats.

All this again points out how much we need more and better choices. We think most people now realize the present Republican-Democrat duopoly has failed us and needs competition so we can get a 2020 Presidential candidate that doesn’t make most of us sick to our stomachs.

A Party Platform?

Imagine politicians in the coming months offering various pieces of legislation to accomplish the following:

  1. Provide healthcare for everyone costing no more than what has already been authorized
  2. Connect  everyone to a financial institution
  3. Relieve Healthcare providers of credit risk
  4. Eliminate the vast majority  of Medical Paperwork
  5. Allow medical providers to concentrate on medicine
  6. Increase mobility of our citizens
  7. Provide easy comparison of potential employers’ compensation offers
  8. Level the playing field for attracting employees between Large and small business
  9. Give workers more leverage in dealing with employers
  10. Put US employers on the same cost basis as Foreign Companies with National Healthcare
  11. Bring all people into the our Capitalist system from birth
  12. Provide everyone with foolproof ID
  13. Eliminate the employment of illegal emigrants
  14. Introduce competition in every phase of healthcare
  15. Allow for the widest latitude for innovation in all things medical
  16. Increase national savings
  17. Improve everyone’s retirement prospects

Sounds like a Paul Ryan type legislative agenda or a Party Platform. The truth is this is all done with one bill creating Personal Benefits Accounts (PBA) for everyone. We introduced this concept in Dave’s Plan to Reform the Affordable Care Act back on October 18,2014. The whole series can be accessed under Dave’s Healthcare Plan. Foreseeing the ultimate failure of Affordable Care Act (ACA) we put forth a plan reuniting healthcare and savings in a workable plan. We have come to realize PBA could provide an underpinning for all individuals to enhance their lives. Ultimately, isn’t this Government’s primary function? Continue reading

Some Election Thoughts

In our post October 18,2016 “Tale of Two CEOs: Stumpf and Priebus” we pointed out how important people can lose sight of what’s most important about their job. “First of all don’t do grievous harm to the entity you head!” Stumpf and Priebus failed to see this resulting in great injury. Now we have the head of the FBI James Comey possibly making  the same mistake on an even greater scale. By writing a letter to various congressional committees informing them of some possible new developments in the Clinton Email case, he has cast a pall on her campaign. You’ll remember he the took the lead in that case because his boss Attorney General Loretta Lynch had been compromised by a private meeting with Bill Clinton while his wife was being investigated. Her inability to realize her own job requirements left Comey in charge.  Mr Comey sent this letter in spite of Justice Dept. rules against commenting on ongoing investigations, releasing any information 60 days before an election and his superiors opposition to this action. The only acceptable reason for Comey overriding all this is a smoking gun situation to prevent a possible felon becoming President.  For instance, an Email indicating Mrs. Clinton was involved in murdering Vince Foster or similar would qualify. There’s the rub, because of this circumstance,the letter could only be perceived by the public at large as evidence of a major transgression. Why else would he send it? If it  isn’t true, it is incredibly unfair to Mrs. Clinton or anyone else in the last eleven days of a campaign. As William Weld, the Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate stated “this just isn’t right.” Given the time frame relative to the election someone needed to step in and determine if this was so big that it justified interfering with a Presidential election or it was a major mistake by a public servant. With Lynch compromised, President Obama should have stepped in immediately and told Comey he had 72 hours to come up with  proof his actions were warranted or he’d accept his letter of resignation. As Harry Truman’s desk sign said,”the Buck Stops Here.” The President has the ultimate responsibility for how our elections are perceived here and abroad. The public has a right to know either way before they cast their ballots.(already too late for those that have voted) So far the President has been absent. The lack of real leadership again threatens to do irreparable harm. As Casey Stengel said of his NY Mets “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

We can only hope we have better choices in 2020. Yet everywhere you turn, we are being told voting for a third-party candidate wastes your vote. We’d like to turn this around. For those voting mainly for the lesser of two evils while lamenting the choice, in most states you’re the ones wasting your vote. Voting for Trump in New York or Clinton in Mississippi won’t matter one iota in the outcome. Unless you’re in one of the few battleground states, you’re Presidential vote is meaningless. If you want more and hopefully better choices in 2020 you have to act now. Either Trump or Clinton will win on Nov. 8th and run for reelection so you’ll have half of this years lousy choice and no incentive to change Republican or Democratic dynamics. We’ll be presented with a similar rotten choice. Why not vote for a third-party candidate. If either Johnson or Stein receives at least 5% their party will receive automatic places on the 2020 State ballots. Also they could if they choose receive Federal matching funds. Without the grueling and expensive effort to get on every state ballot, the third-party nominations would be more attractive to top talent. Even this year Libertarians were able to field a ticket of two successful governors. With an improved ballot situation,the choice pool could be even be better in 2020. Many top candidates may have no path to nomination in the present duopoly, but nevertheless be the choice in the general election. If you’d like to see candidates such as Ben Sasse, Elizabeth Warren, Mitch Daniels, Joe Manchin , John Kasich or Michelle Obama have a way forward for 2020, vote for the third-party candidate of your choice. Doing so will send a message the choices as we have this year will no longer be tolerated. As in any market more choices will lead to greater satisfaction.

A Tale of Two CEOs: Stumpf & Priebus

Wells Fargo  CEO John Stumpf has finally been shown the door but not before he did immense harm to the company that paid him well to protect its good name. What should-be been uppermost in his mind, the public’s perception of the Company he was entrusted was put on the back burner in favor of near term goals  enhancing the bottom line and his and others bonuses. Two million unauthorized  accounts without the customer’s knowledge revealed a management culture that lost sight of the big picture. What good was an extra statistic if you lost your good name or as Mark 8:36 admonished “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Wells Fargo paid big bucks for they thought was a visionary leader and ended up with a shortsighted bookkeeper. The board that hired him made a disastrous mistake, but in their defense lack of vision is usually seen in retrospect. Until a challenge is unmet, one can’t judge performance. Mr Stumpf probably did mundane chores exceedingly well but  he failed to see how his policies could jeopardize  the company’s brand for a few pennies on the bottom line. Two million accounts and no one questioned it? Didn’t Stumpf feel the need for controls that would’ve alerted management to this mass  hanky-panky?  It appears there were no avenues for whistle blowers to get a hearing. Any decent Business School would point out setting the proper priorities is essential to being a good leader. Perhaps he missed this at  Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the Univ. of Minnesota. Stumpf’s  successor Timothy J. Sloan will have his hands full rebuilding  public trust  in Wells Fargo. What was easily lost by ignoring the most  important thing you possess, your reputation, must be painstakingly rebuilt with no assurance of ultimate success. At least Stumpf is gone and the process can begin.

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How to measure “More”

How do we measure “More”? Or some ask what is “More”?  We get these questions so let’s see if we can just simplify it.  Let’s imagine entity A taking inventory as of a certain date. The total we’ll label X. We leave the components and their value in the inventory to the entity.  Why not use GDP? We and others have problems with GDP and for that reason wouldn’t be so presumptuous to dictate method to any entity. After all, different entities may value things differently. Take leisure time. One entity may value it highly but another may not value it at all. All we ask is consistency.  At a future date we repeat the inventory and we label it Y. Then compute Y-X=”More”(or “Less”). We hope for a positive result but that isn’t always true.

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