Reminded (Again) About the Clintons

August 30, 2016

Just when it started to feel a little less depressing, the Presidential race has now become veritable Greek Tragedy. The latest and continuing releases of Hillary’s e-mails, combined with a “softer” Trump, feels like it could narrow the Clinton lead and to a greater possibility that Trump could win. Once again with the Clintons … nothing illegal – just shady financial dealings, dubious ethics and lawyerly worded explanations. With the Russians snooping around, Wiki-leaks in possession of unknown secrets from the DNC, and even more e-mails to be released … who knows what is next?

The Clinton people rightly point out that none of the recent e-mails show a quid-pro-quo of bribes to the Secretary of State. The tone deaf cohort of Democrats don’t seem to realize that while the Supreme Court has ruled that paying money for access to government is legal, it still is wrong in any democracy. This comes after Hillary clearly lied about the classified e-mails. I think that Hillary has been soooo bad at explaining her actions, and soooo duplicitous that they have settled on a campaign strategy of keeping her hidden away as much as possible. After all, Trump seems to invariably say or do something so incredibly stupid or repulsive that it captures our attention. Trump campaigning is like being unable to look away from an impending train crash.

This is what drives me crazy angry at the Democratic Party Establishment. They pre-ordained Hillary as the candidate. She was predictably the worst candidate running since Michael Dukakis, and he

even he had a much larger lead over Bush at the same point in his campaign – and HW Bush was no Trump. Imagine what the race would look like today if Sanders or Biden were the candidate! We would no longer have to live in dread of a Trump Presidency. There are as many Democrats and liberals like me who have valid, serious reservations about voting for Hillary.

I think it is  true that most of the Trump supporters will still be Trump supporters no matter what he does (e.g. shoot someone). He could call for complete amnesty for all illegal immigrants and an adjacent office for Putin in the White House and they would still be there. So what happens now as he starts selling himself as Mr. Nice Guy and enough people buy it? It changes the dynamics. All he has to do is pull even with her unpopularity numbers and it could be over.

I suppose we could rely on the fact that Trump really does have a personality disorder and cannot control himself and that he will inevitably blow through the illusions of a “nice” Trump, but this is a fragile, and anxiety provoking hope. What a dilemma for many people. Vote for someone you would never vote for or vote for someone you should never vote for…


The Orange Barrel Summertime Blues

August 29, 2016

For many of you who follow the blog and live outside of Southeast Michigan, around here warm weather is known more popularly as the “Orange Barrel Season.” It seems like as soon as the temperature has three continuous days above freezing, work begins on repairing the roads and highways of Michigan. These roads (and bridges) rival those of a Third World country in terms of disrepair. Actually, our roads may be worse. One important reason why Michigan’s roads and infrastructure are so bad is the Michigan government.

Unlike other states that have insisted on enforcing minimum materials and construction standards, along with a guarantee of viability, Michigan governments since the Engler Administration have allowed contractors to use inferior materials and construction methods to create a virtual perpetual employment machine, moving constantly from one short-term, emergency fix to another. It has also been a government that has resisted any effective public transportation system, or enforced regulation of heavy traffic vehicles.

Since all of the highway work had been unguaranteed, it guaranteed huge tax expenditures to create emergency, and short-term fixes. It’s quite remarkable to see if you are not from Michigan. Slow-moving trucks roll along at 5 mph on a 70 mph highway for miles, causing huge traffic jams while men shovel out a gravel and tar mixture to fill in monster pot holes. Then they rely on subsequent traffic to roll over the mound to compact it down, while the rest of the tar and gravel are sent bouncing off of cars in other lanes.

Well, there’s good news and bad news in this regard with the announcement of a major road reconstruction project at one of the busiest conduits in SE Michigan, at I-75 in Oakland County. The good news is that the huge congestion of traffic creating a 10-mile-long, bumper-to-bumper commute into Wayne County and the City of Detroit will be somewhat relieved. The bad news is that the project will take 12-14 years to complete! For Oakland County residents working in Detroit, it means more than a decade of finding alternate routes or commutes extended hours longer. Imagine spending 2-3 hours or longer to drive 10 miles to work.

I’m guessing that the good conservative types in one of America’s riches counties will be wishing they had approved extending the Woodward light rail pretty soon. For the thousands of people who use I-75 as their route to Northern Michigan … just think of it as an opportunity to tour the back roads instead of a costly extension of hours in travel time. There even might be some economic benefit from the fact that hotels and restaurants will have increased business once driving to Mackinac will take an over-night trip rather than the usual 5 hours.

Or maybe we can contemplate how much of a difference government can make with regard to infra-structure – for good or bad.

 


Milwaukee as the Canary

August 24, 2016

 

Milwaukee exploded without warning recently as yet another black man was shot and killed by a police officer. The official story is that the man was fleeing the officer and had a loaded assault rifle in his hand. I don’t know what happened. There are probably only two people who do – and one is dead. I’ve been involved with far too many police misconduct cases to uncritically accept the official police version of any incident and will wait for the body camera footage to form any impression.

What I do know is that Wisconsin is an open carry state, so the man may have had a legal right to carry the gun. When was the last time you heard of an officer shooting a white man openly carrying a gun? Whether in Wisconsin or Minnesota a black man carrying a gun legally can be shot on sight by the police. In Milwaukee the man was running from an officer, which seemed to that officer to be adequate reason to shoot him in the back. In Minnesota the man was simply riding in a car and reaching for his I.D. as instructed. Not that being an unarmed black man will lessen the chance of being killed by the police, but there does seem to be two sets of gun laws in the U.S.: one for African-Americans and one for the rest of us.

Some people were surprised by the suddenness and violence of the Milwaukee uprising. They shouldn’t be surprised. Whether the shooting was justified or not, it was more than enough to trigger a reaction that was ready to explode. No doubt, a lot of people will focus on the lawlessness of the rioters and the apparent lack of justification for their rage. What we should focus on is the fact that this rage is barely beneath the surface in many communities across the country. There is a valid grievance in these communities – a grievance rooted in economic injustice, the lack of opportunity to escape poverty, and the militarization of law enforcement to restrict and control whole populations. Focusing on individual incidents like Milwaukee miscommunicates the nature of the problem. Milwaukee is like the Canary in the mine – it is a warning that something is happening much more dangerous than isolated incidents across the country.


Extreme Vetting of Immigrants

August 23, 2016

In one of the sillier attempts to disguise the bigotry of his ban on Muslims, Trump unveiled the 5th or 6th version of the Muslim ban. “Extreme, extreme vetting of immigrants” is the current proposal. What this means is up to anyone to guess. Like most of Trump’s policy proposals there are no details, not even an outline. It could be similar to extreme snowboarding for all we know. Maybe extreme vetting will look something like this:

Government agent: Are you a terrorist?

Immigrant: No

Government agent: Are you sure?

Immigrant: I am sure. I am not a terrorist. I want to live in a free society. One without a hostile government.

Government agent: Are you really, really sure you are not a terrorist?

Immigrant: I am really, really sure.

Government agent: Because if you really are a terrorist then you could get in serious trouble here. President Trump does not like terrorists. That’s why we are doing this extreme vetting.

Immigrant: I am not a terrorist.

Government agent: Do you believe in the Constitution or Sharia law?

Immigrant: I want to live under the Constitution. I am trying to escape Sharia Law.

Government agent: Well that was our trick question and you passed.

Anyone who buys the “extreme vetting” line is simply … stupid (I’ve never been politically correct). But Trump is not stupid. He is ignorant, unfocused and uninterested in facts, but not stupid. He is simply blowing into the “dog whistles” to get the GOP base up (and “base” is the right label). Just like when he claims that all of the media are “the lowest form of life on Earth” — another dog whistle. Meanwhile “crooked” Hillary is just laying low in the weeds, perhaps the luckiest candidate ever.

 


I Am No Trump

August 16, 2016

The Detroit News published an interview of me discussing some aspects of the Trump campaign compared to my own experience running for Governor. On the surface there are similarities. We both entered the campaign late and ran as outsiders. We both were dismissed as celebrity candidates and still won against the establishment candidates. Both of us are outspoken. I think the similarities end there.

Unlike Trump I earned my fortune and I earned it defending the rights of my clients rather than inheriting wealth and cheating people.

Unlike Trump, I received no financial support from the Democratic Party, while Trump is getting a lot of financial and logistical support from the RNC.

Trump is an empty suit – he has no real policies on most of the important issues, and the ones he has announced would benefit only the richest Americans, or change almost daily. On the other hand, I proposed specific plans to rebuild Michigan infrastructure, and lower taxes on working families. I had a plan to increase medical insurance coverage while reducing premium costs long before Obamacare was conceived.

Unlike Trump, who is proposing a massive expansion of government and government control, I proposed decreasing the size of Michigan government and expanding the rights of citizens to be free from government mandates. Unlike Trump, who changes his position depending on his audience, my policies and speeches were published and consistent.

So let me share a little wisdom I learned during my brief foray into politics. While I sympathize with his outsider status, and appreciate the “showmanship,” I also know there is a difference between not being politically correct and hate speech, and the fact that words mean something. One can be angry at injustice without creating injustice. Having a moral compass creates consistency and predictability. And finally, it’s how you treat other people that defines your character, not the size of your bank account.


Danger! Danger Will Robinson!

August 15, 2016

A few of us baby-boomers (and maybe a few enlightened Millennials) might remember the old television series “Lost in Space.” An iconic bit on the show was the robot palling around with the child wunderkind Will. Whenever danger was present the robot would go wild, flashing lights, waving arms and warning “Danger! Danger Will Robinson!” The joke was that the robot never noticed the danger until it was obvious and long after the viewers. For some reason I was reminded of the bit after watching for myself the full comments of Donald Trump on the Second Amendment “solution” to Hillary. Maybe it was the man in the red shirt sitting behind Orange Jesus who couldn’t restrain his own shock at Trump’s comment. Like the robot in Lost in Space, the man could clearly be seen reacting with alarm and mouthing the word “WOW.”

The intent of Trump was clear. He should at least be interviewed by the Secret Service, if not investigated for a criminal act. He is a danger, escalating his threats from beating up opponents who attend his rallies to suggesting killing Hillary if she is elected President. However, the real danger is revealed in the reactions of Trump supporters. A comment so far out of bounds should never be tolerated in our society, and would have never been tolerated before a certain black man was elected President. Yet, Republican office holders such as Paul Ryan make the same excuses for Trump and continue their “support.” To be sure, Republicans with a moral compass are denouncing Trump, but for the most part there is a shocking lack of reaction. Even the man who mouthed “wow” at the rally did an interview the next day and announced that he was still going to vote for Trump! He didn’t appear to be mentally ill or intellectually challenged. He seemed like the prototypical “man next door,” if that man were out of touch with reality.

Considering the possibility that there is a significant part of our society that supports such a man for the Presidency then it is long past the time to announce “Danger! Danger fellow Americans!”


The Sacrifices Trump Has Made

August 9, 2016

Alright all of you Khans of the world, here is a list of the sacrifices Donald trump has made for his Country.

  1. From 1959 to 1964: He served honorably in the New York Military Academy High School. Says Trump, he “got more training than many men get while serving in the military.”
  2. From 1964 to 1968: Multiple deferments from the draft. Not the conscientious type, but it was still very difficult for him to stay in college instead of serving during a war.
  3. From 1980 to 1997: Avoided contracting any sexually transmitted disease. “It was my personal Viet Nam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” (By the way, didn’t we lose that war?)
  4. He created thousands of jobs.

 

And if you have any doubts about whether or not Trump has read and understands the Constitution, consider the fact that on July 7th, Trump clearly and unequivocally announced his support for “Article XII” of the Constitution. Maybe he should get one of those pocket Constitutions. Then again, it wouldn’t make a difference. This is a man with a pathological narcissism that runs through everything he does. Creating jobs for people to perform the labor that makes him money is, to him, a sacrifice. In the mind of a narcissist, the money he paid to people who ultimately made him money were taking something from him. They should work for him for free…

The attempts to smear the Khan family were the inevitable result of a complete lack of response about his lack of sacrifices and understanding of the meaning of the Constitution. They simply can’t defend Trump, so they attack these two fine people. I hope that this is the real turning point of the election.