Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blunt Force Meets Immoveable Object

In my opinion, I doubt many undecided voters were persuaded to jump on board with either of the two leading candidates last night.  I am doubly sure their current supporters are more convinced than ever they are supporting the right candidate.
Reading the news this morning it appears that one side is all up in arms over the moderator “fact checking” Mr. Trump and not Ms. Clinton.  The other side seems to be greatly relieved that Ms. Clinton remained standing upright, looking serene, and not getting asked the hard questions about her previous roles or positions.  I assume Mr. Holt was in a hard position, attempting to keep the sumo fight debate on track and moderating some of the more extreme statements Mr. Trump makes from time to time.
This is offered as food for thought to those who may be undecided, and does not constitute an endorsement of either candidate.
Past Performance – past performance should matter.  While not 100% accurate, it is a benchmark to help judge how well an individual is prepared for the higher level of responsibility.  Both candidates have a history to judge, but those histories are in significantly different environments.  On the one hand Ms. Clinton has been in politics almost all her adult life, and since 1992 has lived in the sheltered world of the beltway with its lobbyists and benefactors.  After leaving the White House in 2000, Ms. Clinton claimed to be dead broke – yet she, her husband, and their foundation has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars through those political contacts.  Since Ms. Clinton has been in political life a lot longer than Mr. Trump she has a longer public record to assess.  Things I think about include, what has she done to keep jobs in NY when she was a Senator?  Is the middle east a safer place since she advocated for the over throw of the Egyptian and Libyan governments by radical Islamic clerics?  Is our relationship with Russia better today than before she used the infamous reset button?  How did she handle the now famous 3 am phone call on Benghazi?  Does the compromise of our highest level of secret information, or the fact she is handled differently than those less well politically connected, matter? Decide for yourself how well her background prepares her for leading rather than just following?
Mr. Trump has been a real estate developer, starting in NYC and expanding beyond.  He has taken advantage of all the tax benefits and shelters afforded him, and as far as I know has not yet been convicted of fraud and misconduct.  He has grown a business that has been valued in the billions of dollars, undoubtedly in the course of that growth he has cut some corners and rubbed some people the wrong way.  You can decide whether his in ability or unwillingness to deal with specific aspects of his record should be judged.  Does he have an ability to separate his reality TV personality from the international leadership personality he will need as President.  While I have formed my own opinion, each of us should know what we think and why.
Income Tax Returns – Releasing tax returns is a relatively modern idea (early 1970’s).  For the average person they will learn only what the media wants to tell you about as the “alleged” experts pick them apart.  Since we know the media is not neutral, form your own opinion on this issue the Clinton campaign (and the left) is making a big deal about, and Mr. Trump (and the right) is ducking the issue on.
It’s the economy, stupid!  To take a line from the 1992 campaign of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush we should consider how the two candidates would address this.  Again, for Ms. Clinton we see the standard progressive talking points.  Make college free, forgive everyone’s existing college debt (i.e. the government pay the banks and make the debt a government cost), increase minimum wage, and increase welfare, while opening up the borders to more low skilled immigrants to compete for the diminishing labor market.  Meanwhile promise new high tech jobs in renewable energy for all those new graduates that will be pouring out of college.  These are essentially the same talking points the traditional government candidates have used since the 1990’s.  How well has this all worked out so far?  The point I find most interesting is how well Ms. Clinton spends other people’s money.  In this campaign she is outspending Mr. Trump by over $600,000 a day and what kind of return on investment is she seeing?  If money were the only variable, or the answer, she should be killing him in the polls.  Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has yet to lay out how he will deal with the disparity of wealth (if that is really the problem), or how he would guide the government to fix the hopelessness of the rust belt inner cities. The one historical comparison Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump agree on is he wants to reduce taxes on the rich (who play over 50% of all the taxes today), and return to President Reagan’s economic policies.  The ones hated by the Democrats and loved by the Republicans.  The major problem I see is neither candidate is willing to shrink the government; so all the small businesses and competition will suffer, allowing the drug companies, like the makers of the Epipen, to continue to charge uncontested exorbitant prices because of the government regulations.
Universal Healthcare – How is that working for you?  Private Insurance companies are bailing out, rates are going up significantly, and things like the Epipen cost $600 dollars…I am not sure I see the “affordable” in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Maybe you do.  If you want to see it continued in its present form, Ms. Clinton is your best choice.  If not, maybe she isn’t?
Finally, we come to National Security.  Everything up to this point is interesting, important and relevant, but the national security of the United States is an inescapable role of the executive branch and the President. In fact it is the first role identified for the President in Article 2, Section 2 of the US Constitution.
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States[emphasis added]; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
We have seen since the beginning of our nation the various Presidents fail or succeed in this role, and for the most part the nation survived despite their worst (or best) efforts.  Few of the Presidents have brought great military experience to the job, and that is probably a good thing, for history has shown that if they view themselves as military experts then we are likely to get involved beyond their ability to appreciate the complexity of warfare.  Within our recent history we have examples of both the good and bad of being Commander in Chief, but this is an area where “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  For me President Reagan and his Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger set the gold standard.  President Reagan set the policies and funding that that would reshape a broken military and lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the SECDEF set the conditions for employing the force that would ultimately lead to the defeat of Iraq in the first gulf war.  Since then the Presidents have torn down the military to fund their desires for social engineering or economic priorities in the social programs.  The willingness of the Clinton years to allow growth of the radical Islamic factions targeting US interests lead directly to the attacks on 9/11.  The splitting of US focus by the Bush administration has allowed both Iraq and Afghanistan to remain crisis points.  The use of drones as a tool to engage specific terrorist leadership has done little to resolve the on-going conflicts and tensions.  Mr. Trump has publicly stated he knows more about the problems, than all the Generals, while Ms. Clinton has shown she takes inputs from only her closest and most trusted advisors, so you decide who is most likely to be an effective protector of the nation.
Well that's about it for me, good luck with your choices.

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