Republicans Will Definitely Keep Control Of The Senate After 2018 Elections

The New York Times published a story on Friday that refuted a prediction I made in a blog post earlier in the week. I projected that the Senate, in spite of the recent loss in Alabama, would continue to be controlled by Republicans after the 2018 elections. The Times indicated that the chances Democrats would overtake Republicans in the Senate were looking more favorable every day.

By my count Democrats have 12 vulnerable seats going into the 2018 elections and 9 of them are in states that Trump carried in 2016. Of these 5 were states where the president won by 5 or more percentage points. These include McCaskill (MD), Tester (MT), Heitkamp (ND), Brown (OH) and Manchin (WV).

On the other side of the coin Clinton won Nevada by 2.4 percentage points. The Republican senator (Heller) would seem to be at risk.

Let’s assume Republicans win 3 of the 5 seats where Trump led by 5 or more percentage points and Democrats win Nevada. The current split in the Senate including the Republican loss in Alabama, is 51-49. After the 2018 elections, under a conservative scenario for Republicans, the split would be 53-47 for the GOP.

If Republicans win all 5 of the states where Trump defeated Clinton by 5 or more percentage points, the split would be 55-45.

The Times’ dream of a Democratic majority in the Senate is quite remote. Of course significant political turmoil could change the calculus dramatically. But short of an impeachment proceeding, which is unlikely because Republicans control the House, not much will change in the Senate in 2018.

Let’s End Sexual Abuse Hysteria

It’s time to consider ways to end the debilitating hunt for relatively minor sexual abusers. The suggestion about to be made will be anathema to those among us who won’t rest until every single abuser is outed and punished. What Americans should consider is that the exhaustive hunt under way is going tear our country apart and divert us from other important issues.

Many bad things have happened to women over the years. Unfortunately we cannot turn back the clock or take a mulligan. What’s done is done. Yet the scope of the search for sexual offenders is getting wider every day. It’s possible that a huge swath of the male population of the country is guilty of major and minor offenses.

The statutes of limitations were in part enacted to prevent the litigation of crimes that are very old. As time passes minor offenses may seem more serious to victims. However the ability to adjudicate crimes of the past is hampered by fuzzy memory and a dearth of corroboration.

Today a comment by a woman about an incident one, two or three decades old could end a man’s career and destroy his family. The rule of law is being set aside as the court of public opinion embraces minor accusations. In this environment a woman may say, “he groped me in 1995,” and the accuser is fired from his job and ostracized.

Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that violent acts or serial abusers be protected or spared in any regard. The obvious example is Harvey Weinstein who has conducted a reign of terror over helpless women for decades. He’s getting what he deserves from the judicial system and from society.

But for less offensive acts including one-time minor abuses, why shouldn’t society forgive an forget? A principal objective should be to protect women prospectively. This is where our efforts should be concentrated. Crimes of any sort that happen from this moment on, minor or major, should be punished aggressively.

One expected counter point of this suggestion is that abused women would not find closure. I understand and respect this perspective. But it really does matter whether offenses are serious. If a man rubbed a woman’s shoulders, stole a kiss or told an inappropriate joke, should he feel the wrath of the legal system and be dismissed by his employer? There are some that will say yes.

I’m proposing that we continue to root out serious offenders and let minor offenses fade away over time. Let’s focus on the future safety of women. Men who are serial abusers and those who violently assaulted women should not be given a pass. This strategy will enable us to apply more energy towards protecting women in the future.

Pedophilia Charges Take Down Roy Moore

For the first time in 25 years Alabamans voted in a Democratic senator.  Democrats claim that the vote is part of  a growing backlash against Donald Trump. But really the outcome is a result of a perfect storm that included allegations of pedophilia directed at Roy Moore. The Republican establishment is actually relieved that Roy Moore lost.

Most talking heads have indicated that the winner, Doug Jones, is a lame duck even before he takes his seat in January. Deep down every informed politician knows that Jones will be obliterated in two years after he finishes Jeff Session’s term. Republicans will retain a slim majority in the Senate in spite of the defeat.

In 2018 25 Democrat senators are up for election, compared to 10 for Republicans. It is highly likely that the GOP will make significant gains in the midterm elections .

This takes us back to the Trump impact. Soon tax reform will be enacted, the first significant legislative victory for the administration. Next on the agenda will be border legislation, which will be bolstered by recent terrorist attacks,  After that the crumbling infrastructure in the US will be addressed, which both parties support. Trump believes he will be successful with both of these issues.

The performance of the economy should be a significant boost to Trump’s efforts to implement his agenda. A higher stock market and more growth will positively impact voters.

Of course the sexual abuse revolution could hurt the president especially if new revelations surface about him. The current storm about Trump is just a rehash of old allegations, which voters arose before the presidential election.

Another dark cloud is the Mueller investigation. Additional indictments of Trump minions could  impact the political landscape. It appears that Americans are growing tired of the witch hunt by the special prosecutor.

Democrats are celebrating the Jones victory. They are hoping it is a sign of a new move to the left by voters, but if one examines relevant details about the congressional races, this is not likely to happen. The Democratic Party has one issue- Donald Trump. They have done nothing to inspire voters to support their candidates.

What If Trump Performs?

What if Trump implements tax reform, resulting in huge tickle down benefits to the middle class and greater economic growth?

What if Trump keeps relentless pressure on North Korea and it leads to regime change followed by a dismantlement of the country’s nuclear program?

What if Trump’s sanctions against Iran ultimately result in a much more docile regime without weapons of mass destruction?

What if Trump bankrupts Russia and Putin falls out of power?

What if Trump’s wall on the border of Mexico dramatically decreases the number of illegal aliens entering the US?

What It Trump abrogates Obamacare and the reformed medical system is less expensive for the federal government and insured Americans?

What if Trump is able to make reasonable changes to other entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security that are straining our financial system?

What if Trump encourages Congress to spend more money more wisely on defense so that the US can re-assume its leadership role throughout the world?

What if Trump  assists the UK economically and helps it end the Brexit crisis?

What if Trump finds a path to peace in the Israeli/Palestinian crisis?

What if Trump negotiates the forgiveness of a large amount of student debt?

What if Trump implements a plan to revitalize our country’s infrastructure?

What if Trump makes peace between African Americans and the police?

What if Trump offers jobs to all able-bodied welfare recipients?

What if Trump is able to end the animosity between Republicans and Democrats?

What if Trump spearheads and implements new laws that protect women against sexual abuse?

Would you be able to look past Trump’s terrible personality traits if he was able to accomplish a number of these things for America?

Is performance the most important assessment of our president? Or will America be shortsighted and not give its presidents a chance to prove themselves because of extraneous issues and politics?

Dealing With Sexual Abuse

The wave of sexual harassment accusations is growing every day. Very successful, powerful and gifted men are being fired by employers and abandoned by their sponsors.

The resignation of Sen. Al Franken was a landmark event. Led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, female senators demanded Franken give up his seat because of a series of abuse allegations. Soon after many other senators jumped on the bandwagon. Franken relented but said that not every accusation against him was true. He also took parting shots at Roy Moore, the Alabama senatorial candidate accused of pedophilia, and Donald Trump. Franken thinks he has been judged unfairly compared to these men.

Many Americans are having substantive conversations about the relationship between men and women, which have led to countless episodes of brutality directed at females since the beginning of time. It is refreshing that women and men are prepared to change the ways of the past.

The problem is how should America deal with previous and future acts of sexual harassment in the country that have and will come to light?

The first thing that must be done is to clearly identify and categorize the various types of aberrant behavior affiliated with sexual harassment. Just like murder, which has different levels of severity (manslaughter versus premeditated murder), our lawmakers must differentiate between acts of violence against women. For instance, “no touch” crimes might be classified as less of an offense than “touch” crimes. If a man curses or tells a dirty joke, it should be a much lesser infraction than groping or assault.

In effect lawmakers must take the time to define the crimes and attach penalties commensurate with their severity. For sure this will take a great deal of effort, but it is the fair thing to do.

Corporations must implement systems to deal with complaints. Simply, anything involving touching would fall into the serious acts category and result in immediate dismissal. Other activities that make fellow employees uncomfortable would receive a warning and then dismissal for a second offense.

A major consideration is how to deal with crimes of the past versus crimes of the future. Some past accusations date back years and even decades. They may be difficult to prove and not be punishable by law enforcement because of statutes of limitation. Every case needs to be considered individually if an employer wants to take action without support of law enforcement.

Should a man lose his job for acts that are decades old (like Roy Moore)? Yes, if it can be proven with reasonable certainty that they occurred. It is highly likely that Moore won’t be indicted for these alleged crimes, but the Senate could ostracize him if he wins the election, and his accusers could sue him for damages.

For Harvey Weinstein the system has responded with great ire. He was ousted from the company he owns, blackballed by former Hollywood colleagues, ostracized by companies he did business with and branded a pariah by the entire entertainment industry. Moreover the police are investigating his recent actions, and he may be indicted at some point.

Current events regarding sexual abuse are historic. There are few crimes older than this offense. The bravery of the women who have gone public should be lauded just as Time Magazine has done. But are there potential backlashes that might occur?

Will men respond by covertly employing fewer women? Will men begin to resent the tidal wave of accusations? Will relatively insignificant misdeeds be blown out of proportion and result in unfair treatment of the accused? Will the rule of law be ignored by society? For sure this story has only just begun.

And finally how many more successful men will be branded sexual abusers? Will their life’s work be minimized because of their over active libidos? Will an artist’s great accomplishments be overwhelmed by sexual misbehavior?

Regardless I believe creative and successful people who commit crimes of any kind should feel the full fury of our society.

Political Preferences Are Dividing America

Politics in America has always been dirty business. More recently a serious division has grown between those vying for public office. This gap, which is best characterized by the perspectives of liberals and conservatives, has made it almost impossible for our federal government to operate efficiently.

The bad blood has spread to average Americans. It is impossible to have a substantive conversation about race, the economy, immigration, foreign policy, abortion, gun control, government transparency, religion, military strength and so many other topics without an ensuing screaming match.

The past few presidential elections have exacerbated this problem. Some were very close and the losers were infuriated by the outcomes. The presidents struggled to govern when the split between the majority and minority was just a few seats in Congress.

The opposition, too often, has been unable to accept the results of elections and support the new president. This attitude was stoked by campaigns that went far beyond policy differences. The contenders attacked each other personally. Now digging up dirt on one’s opponent is an important element of every election. The issues uncovered continue to plague the victor after the election.

The press and TV media are complicit in this unseemly process that breeds negativity and resentment. For the most part, these groups are hungry to find dirty laundry and tell the world without regard to political affiliation. This is what sells newspapers and makes viewers tune in each night. However journalists have begun to take sides in recent times, and they are mostly supporters of liberal candidates and causes. Newspapers have become biased as editors allow reporters’ personal opinions to infiltrate reporting.

Vicious attacks by the opposition are not new, although Donald Trump has been lambasted more than any other president in history. Real hatred in politics became a major issue during the Clinton administration. Conservatives were taken aback by Bill’s salacious life style before, during and after his presidency. Opponents of Clinton could not get over the fact that a blatant philanderer, a man, who lied under oath, was in the White House.

This animosity was transferred to his wife whose attitude and sense of entitlement made conservatives go bonkers. If you are not a Hillary fan, you despise her. There is no middle ground.

George W. Bush was subjected to the wrath of liberals who claimed that he stole the election from Al Gore. The latter won the popular vote, but Bush won the more important electoral vote. Bush was derided from day one even as he capably dealt with 9/11. Unfortunately his opponents disapproved of the way he responded to terrorism culminating with invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nevertheless Bush was treated unfairly and in a cruel personal way. His competency and down home style was mocked. Dan Rather of CBs, in his zeal to destroy the Bush presidency, reported erroneously about Bush’s military service and was sanctioned by his employer.

Barack Obama is an uber populist. He attacked the most successful among us in his quest to become president. Class warfare was his main weapon, and it backfired on him.

From the start Obama wanted to make a huge splash legislatively. He ramrodded Obamacare through Congress creating enormous resentment among the opposition and many Americans. This trillion dollar plus entitlement was not supported by one Republican in Congress.

Ted Kennedy’s death caused the Democrats to lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Republican Scott Brown campaigned against Obamacare and won the seat. Obama over estimated his influence. Thereafter the president was a lame duck only able to govern with presidential mandates.

The venom directed at Obama was a function of his own desire to bring down affluent Americans and his total disregard for the opposition. He got what he deserved, a backlash that made his presidency moot. Yet, the bad feelings among conservatives were disappointing in retrospect.

This set the stage for the unmitigated opposition to Donald Trump even before he took office. Liberals were attributing problems in the country to the new president-elect before he stepped into the White House. Every scowl and misstep by Trump was met with snide comments. After one year he is to blame for all problems in the country. The hatred, some of which is deserved, is tearing the country apart. Politics has become a gottcha contest where both parties are trying to prove that the other party sucks.

Americans should be concerned about the future of their government. The situation did not begin with Trump, but hopefully it will end with him.

Do You Despise Donald Trump?

Can you imagine the responses I’m going to get from this query?

The US is on a roller coaster ride with Donald Trump at the helm. Not a day goes by without drama emanating from the White House. The man has become a tweeting maniac.

Trump’s apologists led by Fox News continue to make excuses for their guy’s aberrant behavior. They say that his agenda is good for America, and the president’s self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, offensive and immature actions and perspectives are things we should let slide.

How did we ever elect a man so un-statesman like. What convinced voters to ignore Trump’s outlandish performance during the campaign and elect him to the most powerful office in the world? What the hell has Trump ever done to deserve four years in the White House? When you think of the scores of qualified politicians who were spurned by voters over the years, you have to wonder whether the neophyte Trump cast a spell on the electorate. Or maybe Hillary just sucked as a candidate, and America needed to make a change after the torturous Obama years.

On SNL, for the umpteenth time Alec Baldwin mocked Trump mercilessly. The venom and disdain Baldwin projects towards the president is remarkable. Perhaps this tired and trite gig is all the work Baldwin can find these days.

The press and the media led by journalists like Charles Blow (NY Times) and Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe) are outrageously disrespectful of the man and the office he occupies. Almost daily they call the president a bold-faced liar, a misogynist, an idiot and a fool. They say he’s going start World War III, and he’s going to take food out of the mouths of children to enrich the rich. They hate him so much that they twist the truth. They are famously part of “fake news” brigade.

Trump is even responsible for the rash of sexual abuses accusations, and the ousting of many powerful men who were incapable of treating women respectfully. Some Trump haters believe that the president encourages sexual abuse.

Every negative issue in the country is traced back to Trump. African Americans say he’s a racist and racism is flourishing because he wants tougher police enforcement. Mexicans think he’s a xenophobe because he wants to build a wall to stop the flow of illegal aliens. Poor people say he is stealing from them and giving their money to the wealthy. Educators are telling their students to protest against him and prevent all conservatives from speaking in open forums. Terrorism is on the rise because Trump wants to protect the country from radical religious elements.

How could one man, who has been in office for a year and has not succeeded in enacting one new substantive law, —— up so many things? Did you ever consider that maybe it’s not all Trump’s fault?

What about all the politicians in Washington and around the country who have made a mockery of our government, cannot pass budgets, increased welfare without conditions, granted trillion dollar entitlements that are bankrupting the country, allowed 12 million plus illegal aliens into the country (and now protect them in sanctuary cities) and destroyed US relations with virtually every country in the world with inane foreign policies.

Yes, we should stop being aggravated by Trump’s obnoxious personality and focus on what he’s attempting to accomplish.

Tax reform is supposed to benefit the middle class and businesses. It is also intended to increase economic growth.

Immigration reform and “the wall” will hopefully rein in illegal immigration into the country from Mexico.

Dismantling Obamacare is supposed to decrease health care costs for the federal government and lower insurance premiums paid by Americans.

Abrogating the Iran nuclear deal is an attempt to stop our worst enemy from building a nuclear weapon. Increasing sanctions against North Korea is part of an effort to force the rogue nation to give up its nuclear ambitions.

Decreasing cumbersome financial regulations has been a boon to the prospects of the banking industry. This has enabled these institutions to better serve the needs of borrowers.

The president has badgered corporations to keep jobs in the country. This has benefited American workers, as unemployment is the lowest level in years.

Trump’s agenda is sound. The items on his list are good for America. It would be wise for all of us to support the president in spite of all his warts.

Economic Growth Is Key To Solving The Nation’s Debt Problem

This is a critical week for the Trump administration. The debate to pass tax reform is in motion, and the Senate will vote on it momentarily.

There are a few Republican outliers who are threatening to vote against the bill. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, and the vice president will settle a tie. Therefore Republicans can only lose two votes for the bill to pass.

The potential no votes are motivated by a few different issues. Most importantly they include the impact of tax reform on the budget and the national debt. Other concerns are an increase in uninsured Americas that will occur if the Obamacare mandate is eliminated, the temporary nature of the middle class tax cuts and a desire to increase tax benefits to small businesses. This essay will examine the budget issue.

Two senators are particularly focused on the cost of tax reform and the implications of this on our nation’s debt. Proponents of the bill say the $1.7 trillion price tag will be mitigated by, among other things, growth in the economy. Supposedly lowering tax rates for middle class Americans along with lowering tax rates for corporations will strengthen our economy. If all this comes to pass, it will increase the amount of taxes collected by the federal government as individual salaries and business profits grow.

Evidence shows that the nation’s economic growth has increased since Trump took office. And Americans are more confident economically. Holiday season retail sales have been very strong.

But will the economy continue to grow rapidly with tax reform and how will this impact interest rates and inflation? No one really knows the answers to these questions, but economic growth will be critical to our nation’s health moving forward assuming any scenario.

Regardless of whether tax reform passes, the only way that the nation’s debt will improve is if tax revenues increase from economic prosperity, tax revenues increase from higher tax rates and/or entitlement reductions.

No politician has the courage to tell the American public that if all things remain the same, Medicare, Medicaid and Welfare will bankrupt the country, so I will say it. It would be political suicide for a candidate to suggest a delay in Medicare payments, conditions for Medicaid or work in exchange for welfare. So, the issue of overspending in these areas will continue to increase at a breathtaking pace.

At some point it is likely that our president and lawmakers will need to cut back entitlements. This will evoke cries of unfairness and even bigotry from the left. The mantra of the left has always centered on the well-being of the lower classes. For decades overspending and growing welfare has not abated. At some point the nation will be unable to meet its obligations without significantly increasing borrowings to dangerous levels.

It is an understatement to say that economic growth is an important element of tax reform. It is critical to our nation in any case. Without more growth in tax revenues our leaders will be forced to resort to Machiavellian actions relating to spending in spite of liberal objections.

The tax reform proposals are not perfect but they will do one thing that is critical to our national financial strength. They will increase economic growth, which will ultimately increase taxes collected by the federal government.

 

Thanksgiving Can Be More Than A Meal

For many years my family has taken Thanksgiving trips to warm places in the Caribbean. It’s a massive undertaking involving about 30 people who come together from their homes and colleges around the country.

This year our plans were dashed because of hurricane damage. As an alternative the group traveled to a country resort in Vermont.

Many of the attendees were skeptical about the change in venue. In a tropical setting most of our time is spent on the beach or around the pool basking in the warm sunshine. This year we found ourselves in a much chillier environment.

The patriarch and matriarch of the family, after conferring with several other members of the family, decided to include two community service activities on our agenda. The reception by the attendees was tepid at first.

At one event we served a meal to a community of churchgoers. A free turkey dinner with all the fixings was available to anyone in the local area. The crowd included many elderly couples and a few families had young children. It was an opportunity for them to dodge the cost and hassle of preparing a dinner in their own homes. A side benefit was the time spent with their neighbors.

The event was anything but fancy as food was served on paper plates and drinks in plastic cups. Nevertheless the diners and the priest who led this flock were really grateful.

The other community service project was a bit more traditional and beneficial to people in need. We went to a Habitat for Humanity site and spent the day building a house and associated infrastructure that would service it.

Each member of our crew was given a job that frankly no one had any experience doing heretofore. We nailed aluminum siding on a house, put up sheet rock and prepared the sidewalks for a delivery of cement. It was tedious and backbreaking work. For one thing it gave us a sense of the daily grind of construction workers as they build and maintain America.

The most important thing was that three generations in our family worked together in a way that helped those less fortunate. These experiences were beneficial to all, young and old. And they were in the spirit of the holiday season, during which commercialism and gifting often masks the true meaning of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa.

Eating turkey, watching football and being with family are important. Giving something back to the community was priceless.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the resort was located near an area that had many outlet stores. The bargains were amazing and most of us took home more clothes than we arrived with.

Social Media Abuse

Social media usage has reached epic levels in our society. Every second of every day millions of people worldwide are publishing information about their lives. The most striking thing is that millions of other people are reading and commenting on these posts.

President Trump is an active social media buff. He attacks and counter attacks others with tweets much to the dismay of his staff and many Americans. In fact many say that the president is abusing this means of communication right along with his fellow Americans.

What are the symptoms of abuse? Is social media usage becoming an obsession rivaling alcohol and sexual abuse? Will entrepreneurial psychologists and psychiatrists open clinics someday to help people addicted to social media? I think it’s likely.

This is how I would define social media abuse? If you need to be connected 24 hours a day to ensure you never miss an “important” text, your are hooked. It means that when you are driving a car, you must stay online to respond to developments in your community of friends even if the odds of getting into an accident increases exponentially. If you are unable to complete your work on the job because of constant social media devise usage, you are hooked.  If you endanger others because you are online (while caring for children, for instance), you are hooked. If you cannot sit through a meal with family or friends without resorting to your social media devise, you are hooked.

How might your family, friends and business associates respond to your abusive use of social media? At home, your mother, father, siblings, partner or children may begin to feel you don’t care about them. They might indicate that you are detached and spending far too much time texting.

At work, your supervisors might object to the amount of time that you spend online rather than working and earning your salary.

In social situations, the friends you are sitting with might object to the attention you are giving to other friends who are not present.

The benefits of social media have been documented countless times. The cellphone is an important means of communication these days. If you have a problem, a flat tire, injure yourself, witness a crime or your children need help, the cell can be a lifesaver. It’s the social aspect of it that’s beginning rub some the wrong way.

My question is how much of social media is a waste of time? I’m referring to both ends of a post. You have a texter at a restaurant eating a great meal. Is anyone really interested in seeing a picture of the steak he is about to dig into? I suppose so, if the food is extraordinary for some reason, a picture text might be nice.

If you wake up in the morning and you are happy or sad, are your contacts really interested in an essay about your state of mind? Not I.

And heaven forbid that your friends don’t click “like” on a post. It would be an insult and reason for you to not click “like” the next time the offender posts an item, which will likely be less than ten minutes later.

Another inane activity is collecting contacts. Just because someone agrees to be a text pal does not mean they are  your friend and interested in your stupid and idiotic posts . The number of people in a contact list is not indicative of one’s popularity.

Parents have enabled their children at young ages to become abusive users of social media taking away time for school work, reading, family time and face to face social interaction. Many young people have become idiot savants, experts at communicating via social media and incapable of living their lives.

What’s the solution to this growing problem? There is no way to stem the tide of social media. It’s already baked into our society. We must be diligent with our children and each other. In social settings, like the theater, in classrooms and at religious ceremonies phones should be turned off.

And then there are the risks affiliated with privacy  that are beginning to get the attention of our government. It’s unwise to pour your heart out on social media. There are more than a few creeps trolling the airwaves looking for ways to cheat and torment innocent people that say too much about their private lives.

I suppose it’s going to be difficult to manage this process given that the president of the United States is hooked on social media.