12/1/16

This is the eighth in a long series of separate postings discussing many aspects of the 2016 elections.

Few comments on many issues in no particular order of importance:

  1. John Kasich: The governor of Ohio’s political career is over. He, anyway, suffers from having an annoying personality. He simply has this demeanor of patronizing, of supposedly self-depreciating on the one hand and holier than thou on the other hand. But one has to accept that he has a very good record and that if he could ever get over himself he could be a good president. However, having given his pledge to vote for the eventual nominee of the party to then avoid an appearance in his party’s conference taking place in his state and publicly and defiantly voting for another candidate is simply not acceptable. Even if Trump turns out to be a major failure, Kasich is done with and deservedly so. I note that he was not even gracious enough to make any apologies or efforts to make amends with Trump. He restricted his comments to a “twit” congratulating him.
  2. Jeb Bush: Same as above. In addition, I would add that he bears a good part of the “blame” (if you consider it a blame) for paving Trump’s way to the candidacy. As I wrote before, if he had realized before the primary (as we all did) that he has ZERO chance, he could have helped push, say, Rubio forward while there was still a chance.
  3. Mitt Romney: I have a lot of respect for Romney. I always thought that he could have been a brilliant, Reagan-level-or-more president. But he blew it. He made the mistake of not realizing that the world has changed and that you cannot anymore win elections by being a gentleman. Not against vociferous Democrats who are supported by vicious media. It was his failure and he should take responsibility. His anti-Trump remarks during the campaign were over the top and, with all due respect to him, there is simply no reason to appoint him as the Secretary of State. He does not have particular expertise in that arena and other than the half joking fact (only half joke) that he looks the role, he has no perceived advantage over, say, Rudy Giuliani and, in my view, significant disadvantage compared to, say, David Petraeus. See my comment below on “waste fraud and abuse.”
  4. Mark Cuban and other prophets of doom: Some of Clinton’s supporters amongst the pundit class and on Wall Street predicted that the market will fall 5% if Trump was to be elected. They were right for about 30 minutes overnight in the futures market. Since then, the market saw about a 5% rise with all major indices hitting new records. Why is no one asking the pompous, loud Mark Cuban to explain that? When Cuban made his predictions he got top billings in the media. There was only one voice that simply said that Cuban has no understanding of anything: in a tweet, which was ridiculed by the media. That voice was? Trump.
  5. Bret Stephens (WSJ): I have a lot of respect for Stephens and I wrote about him and my divergence with him on Trump at length in my post, “The WSJ Trump ‘Pretzel’.” I find him one of the best and most knowledgeable op-ed columnists at the WSJ. For a staunch conservative he is unusual as highly intellectual, extremely well read and very eloquent at least in his writing. He got the elections badly wrong (see my above mentioned post) and I believe he still does not understand why and how. His post-election column does not show any effort at trying to drill down and understand where he went wrong. That is far too close to being an elitist and I hope very much that he will soon snap out of it. It is time that he, and people like him, accept that the world is not made of black and white but of different shades of gray. Trump’s shade of gray was much closer to white than Clinton’s.
  6. Kellyanne Conway: If I had written this post few days ago I would simply say she is the heroine of these elections. In paraphrasing what President Lincoln supposedly said to Harriet Beecher Stowe: the amazing woman that came in late and made this big win possible. She always showed poise, dignity and calm and yet stood her own and was the face of the changing campaign that was in the dumpster when she joined. Even in the face of major difficulties she held steady and they won. Yet her behavior over the last few days in the context of the Romney appointment leaves me flabbergasted. Some say that she went rogue. Why? She was always so disciplined and so in control. Why lose it now? Some say that she was doing Trump’s dirty work, helping create the excuse to let Romney down. I initially thought so, too, when her first comment on the subject via Twitter was reported on. But if so, she went way overboard in her Sunday talk show appearances. I honestly cannot explain what happened and no explanation is good enough. It seems, however, that the storm has passed and that Trump is giving her backing. That still counts as a weird episode. So on balance, I will repeat that she is the heroine of the story.
  7. Reince Priebus: The hero of the campaign (second only to Conway) was the Chairman of the RNC. His management and ability to navigate his way through that most contentious of primaries against all these testosterone-filled, ambitious politicians alone was enough to earn him this title. But he then went on to give Trump total support when most others (including me) wavered at some stage, never flinching in spite of adversity that was probably enough to cause despair. He was clearly one of the most instrumental people in bringing this win. In addition, one should not forget that he prepared the RNC for 4 years and created enough infrastructure there able to support and compensate for a presidential campaign that had significantly less infrastructure than any other campaign in history. He clearly is the “sung” hero of these elections and his job as Chief of Staff is absolutely deserved and based on past performance he will do an excellent job at it.
  8. Trump’s acceptance speech on the early hours of Wednesday November 9th: A lot has been written on how dignified and presidential that speech was. I will add only that Trump seemed overwhelmed when he walked on the stage, which is good. Maybe he was finally beginning to contemplate what he has taken on and feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. I will swear that there were tears in his eyes. Good again—show some emotions, other than bombast and rudeness. But most importantly was the crowd’s reaction. When he mentioned the name Clinton, the crowd could have been expected to be boisterous and making jeers and boos, etc. That is quite normally what happens in speeches even after a politician wins when they mentioned their rival, at which time the politician does his best to quite the crowd down. There was absolutely no need to do that. It was really surprising. The crowd was not only quiet they actually showed real respect for her and appreciation. I am just wondering if we are seeing the good side of America. I doubt you will ever see such behavior by progressive crowds when the name of a conservative politician is mentioned even if they were just defeated. No one commented on it.
  9. The Supreme Court: Even if Trump turns out to be a terrible president, all will be forgiven if he will only handle that one issue correctly. He should appoint good, conservative, originalist justices of a reasonably young age and maybe with luck not only cement the current conservative fragile majority on the court but possibly even strengthen it. His first task is to appoint a replacement to the late Justice Scalia. He should do it very quickly. Honestly, I am slightly concerned that he has not done that yet. My first choice would be Ted Cruz, as I wrote many times. But whoever it is, let’s make sure that he/she can fill Scalia’s shoes and get on with it with great haste. With luck, Trump will have a chance to appoint one or two more justices. Three of them are either in their late 70s or way into their 80s. I suspect that the progressive duo of Ginsburg and Breyer will do everything they can to hang on and I do not wish them harm in any way. However, should they decide that it is time to retire given their advanced age, Trump will have a great opportunity to add to the conservative majority on the court. If Kennedy, himself one of the trio of elders, decide to take this opportunity and retire, he would do the conservative cause a lot of good, too, as he is way too much of a “swing” vote on too many issues. I have a lot of hopes from the Trump presidency but none greater than on this matter.
  10. Hostility: In spite of all the prophets of gloom and doom, the stock markets in the US and in most of the world are on a tear since the elections. Many people attribute that to Trump tax cutting, growth, regulation busting agenda, etc. I attribute it to the removal, after eight years, of the hostility to business manifested by aggressively pursued by the Obama Administration. I wrote about it many times in my posts such as “Uncertainty? Or Is it the CERTAINTY of Hostility?” and also in “The BIG Downgrade, Paradox of Thrift, Psychology, the President, and the ‘Negative Watch’.”
 The hostility was obvious in so many ways; the trouncing of the bankruptcy laws in the context of the car industry bail-out; the aggressive verbal attacks on many industries- banking, health insurance, oil and on and on; a huge level of supposed litigation against businesses, but really better defined as extortion (BP, banks and more); heavy regulation of everything; and, again, extortion against drug companies on drug pricing and on and on. His anti-business attitude was most famously summarized in his “you did not build that…” speech, see “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

    As I predicted in all these posts, the effect of this open hostility was to curtail business activity. Businesses simply tend to back off and get into a sort of hibernation when faced with this type of regulatory, hostile regime. They cannot really fight it. So they downsize and certainly shelve any expansion plans. Just the psychological effect of an incoming, business friendly administration will be enough to generate significant growth in the economy. To understand exactly how this works and why we are already seeing an immediate effect on hiring (ADP report for November is much higher than expected) even though the elections were just won, see my post of 6 years ago. It is really a must read: “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! The Chicken and the Egg—What Comes First?”
  11. Waste Fraud and Abuse: As I write these words, the president–elect and Mitt Romney are having dinner together. Good for them. My view on the matter of Secretary of State is discussed above (see point 3). The term Waste, Fraud and Abuse (WF&A) is worn out. Every politician—EVERYONE—uses it when having to explain where will they get money to fund their new spending spree. There is a huge amount of WF&A in the government. How could there not be? In a nearly $4 trillion budget, is it not reasonable that 10% or $400 billion falls into that category? The problem is that not one of these politicians ever actually does anything about it. To be clear, the government is a huge bureaucracy and there is simply no way to operate such a large entity without having lots of WF&A. So the notion that one can eliminate all, or close to all, of that is nonsense. However, savings can be made and significant ones. I recommend to the president-elect to form a cabinet level department to review the entire organization that is the US government. Every cabinet department, every federal agency, every government program, every regulation on the books. The target of this new department should be to tackle and reduce WF&A and it should run itself as a business with a cost-saving report every year. It should also have a 4-year term and be disbanded after 4 years. What they cannot achieve in four years will never get done. I truly believe that this new department can actually save tens, if not hundreds, of billions of $ every year. While it may not be as glamorous as, say, Secretary of State, it actually is more important in many respects. In today’s world, the big decisions on foreign affairs are taken between head of states, the presidents, and not between their diplomatic emissaries. Ultimately, the Secretary of State is a messenger and a technician for the president. I cannot think of anyone more suitable and able to be the new Secretary of WF&A than Mitt Romney. And if he does it right and saves hundreds of billions of dollars, his contribution to the country’s strength and national security will be much more than anything that he can do as Secretary of State.
  12. Obama and riotous protest movements: In the 30 years plus that I have been watching and involved with this country I can remember only four “protest movements” demonstrating this or that. Three of those movements involved riots. I do remember, of course, the Rodney King riots in 1992, but those were not a movement. They were a one-off incident. I do not recall any “movements” or any riots during the Reagan years, during the Bush Sr. years or Clinton years. Even during Bush Jr. years, while there was an anti-war movement, it certainly had no riots involved and it was pretty muted, especially given that wars generally are a very divisive matter. Since Obama took power we have had four such protest movements. FOUR in eight years. Three involved significant riots; one, none. As of now, it seems that we are in the dying throws of the latest movement—the anti-Trump movement. It was really quite a pitiful movement, however it did not die down without the “obligatory” riots in few places. Before that we had—we still have—the Black Lives Matter movement which, of course, had its origins in the Ferguson riots and have in its “hall of fame” the Baltimore riots, the obligatory Oakland riots and few more. We also had the Occupy Wall Street movement that, like BLM, included riots in Oakland and a few other places. It, too, died down pretty quickly.
What do all these protest movements have in common? They are left of center groups protesting this imaginary cause or another and their main fuel is the media coverage that they are getting on the one hand and the clear legitimization that they are getting from Obama, himself, and the rest of the progressive power structure on the other. Also, they are generally heavily financed by one man: George Soros. It is interesting that all these movements include riots and disorder as part of their tool-kit. You see, the left always attacks the right for “promoting violence.” Yet, time after time, in actuality it is the left that is using violence as an integral part of these movements. I mentioned 4 movements at the beginning and have focused only on three. Why? Because the 4th protest movement was actually the only one that the media maligned and accused of racism, violence and the only one that was vigorously opposed to by Obama and his cohorts. What else is true about that movement? It was, of course, a right of center movement and it had ZERO violence and NO disorder whatsoever. ALL of its demonstrations were legal and orderly. What is this movement? The Tea Party. Why is it that a president that was elected on the platform of “There are no red states or blue states, just the United States” (Twitter, @BarackObama April 2012) caused the most division and strife this nation has had probably since the Civil War? Because he was and is the most aggressive, partisan, ideologue president ever who destroyed tradition and decorum and was willing to use and promote division in order to achieve his goal of reshaping America in his vision. The elections just passed destroyed his plans and thank God for that!