Trump’s Behavior Is Destroying His Presidency

The performance of Donald Trump during the next few months will be critical to the survival of his presidency. The most important elements of performance will be the successful enactment of tax reform and the president’s overall behavior.

The Trump administration has several things to crow about including confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, relaxed regulations, a surging stock market, improved economic conditions, low unemployment and no significant foreign terrorist activity. Yet the president suffers mightily with Congress and is not endearing himself to Americans.

Congressional tribulations have been exacerbated by an inability to keep the Republican caucus intact. The current power of the GOP (its majority) has been emasculated by disloyalty and ideological differences within the party.

The situation has worsened as Trump retaliates on a daily basis against Republicans and anyone else that disagrees with him using schoolyard banter on social media. Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake were victims of this brand of hardball politics. Creating more agitation is the threat of Steve Bannon who has promised to attack Republicans disloyal to Trump.

Tax reform could be the last chance for Trump to prove that he can be an effective leader of his party. The legislation is complex and involves many different issues that are being bird-dogged by any number of powerful lobbyists.

The art of this deal will be whether large tax cuts for the middle class and businesses can be enacted without significantly increasing taxes (on the affluent) or eliminating cherished tax benefits for others. The latter includes the deductibility of state and local taxes, deductibility of interest expense, a reduction in allowable 401k deductions and so on.

At this time the psychological impact of a Republican legislative victory cannot be overstated. And so Trump’s enemies are working overtime to muddy the water and attack the president. The absurd and never ending Trump/Russian collusion accusations continue to rankle the president causing him to respond in a very unattractive and un-presidential manner.

It is this behavior that could bring down the Trump presidency regardless of legislative victories, an improved economy and foreign policy gains.

It is dubious whether Donald Trump can turn his presidency around, in part because of his demeanor and child-like responses to every attack. He is incapable of letting nickel and dime criticism roll off his back. Every president has been challenged daily. It is impossible to respond to each of the darts thrown at the president by the opposition. A great president picks opportune moments to strike back.

Trump actually believes that his tweets and seemingly irrational behavior are legitimate presidential prerogatives. They are not accepted or appreciated by the vast majority of Americans or our allies. Making matters worse is the president’s unsavory way he injects himself in situations while his opponents are self-destructing on their own.

The Clinton dossier and uranium scandals have traction and Trump should stand aside and allow Hillary to seal her own fate.

Frankly it is a frustrating experience trying to support this president’s agenda while he continues to act the way he does.

Clinton’s Dealings With Russia

If you’re confused about the current status of the Trump investigation regarding his dealings with Russia, the dossier about Trump that Hillary Clinton financed and a uranium deal with Russia that resulted in several million dollars of fees and $145 million donation to the Clinton Foundation, welcome to the club.

A New York Post op-ed by Michael Goodwin sheds light on all this intrigue. In the article Goodwin demands that Robert Mueller, Special Counsel investigator, who is investigating Trump (among a hundred other things), should resign because he is too cozy with the individuals he’s interviewing including FBI personnel.

Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee “secretly funded a discredited dossier on Donald Trump’s supposed connections to Russia . . .” Clinton has denied all this “for a year.” “It creates doubt about the entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative and shows that Clinton worked with Russian officials to meddle in the election.” It’s beginning to look like Mueller is focusing on the wrong person in his Russian investigation.

The Washington Post reported that Clinton’s campaign and the DNC hired a law firm, which in turn hired a mysterious company named Fusion GPS, which in turn recruited a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who filled a dossier with information from “Kremlin sources.” Twelve million dollars in fees were paid to the parties involved and yet nobody in the DNC knows anything.

The dossier was shared with the media last summer. It’s unknown if the document was justification for the White House (Obama’s) and the FBI to warrant “snooping on the Trump campaign.”

The FBI has agreed to tell Congress how it used the dossier and give complete information about Steele in the coming days. If the FBI, in fact, relied on the dossier to approve FISA warrants for surveillance of the Trump campaign, it could be an illegal act- but no less than a “dirty trick (by) the candidate of the party in power as an excuse to investigate the candidate from the opposition party.”

All of this could have led to the “unmasking” of Trump people that were leaked to “anti-Trump media” outlets. If this were accurate, the Obama administration would be implicated in this mess.

Are you still confused?

In 2010 Obama officials that included Hillary Clinton acting as Secretary of State, approved the purchase of a company that “control(s) 20 percent of US uranium production.” At the same time, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for a speech to a Russian bank that was a party to the acquisition of the uranium company. And up to $145 million was allegedly donated to the Clinton Foundation.

The Justice Department has lifted a gag order on an informant so he can testify to Congress about bribery charges and other “wrongdoing(s)” relating to the uranium company’s acquisition.

The informant’s attorney has indicated that the speech fee and the donation were a “quid pro quo” for Hillary’s assistance.

It is evident that the Trump-Russia collusion brouhaha is a ruse to avoid revelations about Hillary Clinton’s dealings with Russia to influence the election and to hide bribes received while in office.

Two things should happen. One, Mueller should be dismissed and the whole witch-hunt relating to Trump must end. Two, a new impartial special counsel should investigate Clinton corruption relating to the dossier and bribery accusations. Perhaps this will give Americans more clarity on this complicated situation.

 

The Real Reasons Why Corker And Flake Are Retiring

My latest blog about Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake received some serious blow back from readers. This may be a result of me not explaining myself adequately.

Both senators have decided to retire after having very serious disagreements with President Trump. In both disputes public statements and social media posts became very personal.

The senators indicated that they could no longer be a part of the Republican political scene because actions taken by the Trump administration were not consistent with their principles. However, both neglected to point out that their approval ratings were plummeting (Corker-41%, Flake, 18%). The senators were going to have a very difficult time getting reelected if they ran again.

In my blog I posed questions about objectives and loyalty of congress people. I stated that the most important thing for a member of Congress is to win the next election. Only by doing so can an individual retain his or her power and help the party. To reiterate the senators were not fairing well with their constituencies.

What about loyalty to the party? Things are accomplished in Congress when one party (the majority) overwhelms the other party (the minority) and enacts legislation consistent with its agenda. Compromise is preferable especially when controversial legislation is being considered.

The party caucus is most powerful when all the members toe the line. It is this point that some readers misinterpreted.

Unless a significant issue arises that is anathema to a lawmaker or flies in the face of his or her constituencies, the lawmaker should vote with his party colleagues. In the cases of Corker and Flake they say they are concerned about the style and personality of the president, not his agenda.

I specifically pointed out that a huge number of Americans are horrified by Trump’s method of governing. But a large number of the same group is supportive of the administration’s agenda. I am a part of this group.

I refuse to give up on the president unless he is unable to deliver on his campaign promises, for any reason. Note: Trump is dangerously close to this eventuality. The outcome of tax reform could very well seal the fate of his presidency.

Neither of these senators should be walking away at this critical moment in history because they believe Trump is an a—s.

Getting back to polls, it is abundantly clear that both senators were going to be defeated in their primaries. If there is any doubt about this outcome, Steve Bannon had already targeted them and was recruiting candidates to challenge them.

The morale of all this is that the Republican Party is prepared to weed out outliers and traitors to ensure that Trump’s agenda can be enacted.

 

 

Republican Traitors Are Being Rooted Out

The time has come for disloyal Republican lawmakers in the GOP to pay for their indiscretions. The first two casualties are in the books. Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not be running for reelection in 2018. Their openly disrespectful attitude towards President Trump is the primary reason they have to go.

The Senate’s current distribution of Republicans and Democrats has made it difficult for the president to keep his campaign promises. With a 52-48 split in the Senate the president needs his caucus to stay united to enact new controversial legislation such as the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Unity has been elusive.

What has made the demise of these two senators even more dramatic is their overt condemnation of Trump personally on and off the Senate floor. Yesterday, Flake rose up in session to announce his decision not to seek reelection. Afterwards, he proceeded to lambaste the president. It is rare that a lawmaker denounces a president from his own party in such a manner.

Corker and Trump have been playing tit for tat for a few weeks. The president is “disappointed” with Corker’s performance as chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. Trump said Corker worked with President Obama to implement the Iran Nuclear pact, which the president has denigrated repeatedly. Corker has retorted that he regrets supporting Trump for president and will not back him in 2020. Also Corker indicated that Trump does not have the demeanor or the ability to be a good president.

The most important objective of a senator is to be reelected. After all if you lose your seat, you lose your influence and power. For Corker and Flake the odds were high that they would be opposed in their primaries. For some reason both men thought they could challenge Trump without dire consequences.

Having come to the realization that they must give up their seats, why wouldn’t both men just walk away? Ego and revenge are probably two of the factors that caused these men to continue to feud with Trump. Would they be happier to see an extreme left-wing Democrat in the White House in 2020?

Further complicating the status of these senators are their objectives beyond retaining their seats. What group is more important to a lawmaker, his or her constituencies or the national party? Were they driven by principle when they opposed their president and denigrated him publicly?

There is a lesson to be learned from the Democrats. After being obliterated in 2016 they have managed to have an impact on the political landscape because they have remained united against Trump. Unfortunately for them it is their only claim to fame- to be obstructionists. The party has not offered creative solutions to any of the problems facing the US.

Republicans are in a position to govern without support from the opposition because they control both houses of Congress and the presidency. But men like Corker and Flake divided Republicans. They have given Democrats the power to deter Trump’s initiatives.

Trump is right to demand loyalty. He always calls out fellow party members when they stray or are incompetent. This is critical because his power base is so tenuous.

Trump has the power, with help from Steve Bannon, to unseat other disloyal lawmakers in the primary process. Bannon is orchestrating several situations to rid the Republican Party of those who have not supported the president. There will be more casualties.

You may say Republicans are in disarray, but fear not. Democrats have no effective leadership or an agenda that would cause the majority of voters to support them.

It should be noted that Corker and Flake have said they would remain through the 2018 elections. This means that Trump and his loyal followers may need them to support controversial legislation like tax reform. Will these senators take the high road, or will they oppose good legislation to spite Trump?

 

Has America Become An Evil Empire?

Has the United States become a new evil empire in the 21st Century?

The discontent within our country and anti-American sentiment around the world could lead one to believe that the US is heading down a destructive path.

Before recounting all the reasons why Americans and other nations believe the US has become a maleficent place, it is useful to consider its positive attributes.

The most important, and most underrated, fact is that Americans are free. We can do and say anything we please if we do not break any laws.

Are our laws over-restrictive? Not really. In fact they are less confining than any other place in the world. Americans are not allowed to murder each other. We must operate our vehicles responsibly. We are not allowed to cheat on or abuse our neighbors. Violence is generally frowned upon except in self-defense. Minorities, religious groups and sexual preferences are all protected by our Constitution. We are permitted to own certain types of weapons to protect ourselves. And so on.

Globally just about every country envies America. Immigrants flock to America from many places. We gladly accept these people if they are not troublemakers, agree to our laws and want to assimilate into our society. This precludes those who enter the country illegally and those who want to do us harm.

Our capitalistic system enables citizens and immigrants to obtain good jobs so that they can provide for their families. It is possible to rise above others with hard work and creative thinking. Generally Americans are proud of those who are accomplished.

You may live anywhere in the country without restrictions, in urban centers, rural areas, in the mountains or beside the sea.

Most citizens are happy and have no desire to move abroad. Our workers do strive for more compensation and better working conditions. This is totally acceptable assuming that workers do not overestimate their relative value.

America is a melting pot. Because of this every kind of human is represented in the country. At times these groups conflict with each other. In earlier times certain people were unjustly enslaved and discriminated against. Today our laws require that all Americans be treated equally. This has been a long and arduous process. But progress has been made. If you have any doubts about this, you should read the laws that prohibit wanton discrimination.

Certain groups believe that more needs to be done to level the playing field in America. For instance some complain that the police and the court system do not dole out justice evenly. This issue is front and center today. It will eventually be settled in an amicable way if the protesters are reasonable and patient.

Some groups think that education is tilted towards the affluent, so that prestigious schools only admit those of high socioeconomic standing. Skeptics would respond that the beneficiaries of better education have learned to appreciate the value of higher education more so than others. This results in very diverse performances by minority groups. It is a long-term and very complex issue.

A growing number of Americans resent the 1% among us who earn the most money and have the highest standard of living. Given the 99%-1% dynamics of this issue, it is not a surprise that the majority feels deprived by the minority. But the 1% is powerful and many Americans strive to become part of this group. More and more are starting to realize that income mobility can become a reality with ambition and great effort, things that the 1% characterizes.

Liberals relentlessly assail income inequality. If they had their way they would take from the prosperous and transfer wealth to lower socioeconomic groups. This type of public policy runs counter to the ethos of our society. A better plan would be to enable all boats to rise together. Robin Hood tactics do not solve the problem of income inequality.

Globally many countries resent the success, life styles and happiness in America. They assume we are accumulating wealth illegally because we have so much. The leaders of these attacks on America are able to divert domestic problems by demeaning our standard of living. When these same leaders visit America they frequent all of the most expensive restaurants and stores and live opulently in hotel rooms while their people starve.

I love America. I’m proud of the generosity directed to needy people in our country and many around the world. I’m thankful that we have a strong military that protects our freedom and intercedes when others overseas have serious problems. I think we have an obligation to stop genocide and fight disease.

I don’t believe we need to decrease our standard of living for anyone. I think we should spend our hard earned money in any way we wish. I would encourage affluent Americans to willingly pay their taxes and to support eleemosynary projects that assist others.

America is certainly not an evil empire.

 

 

 

 

The Light At The End Of The Trump Tunnel

Donald Trump has made many Americans uncomfortable during the past nine months. His demeanor is offensive. His style is anything but presidential. He is not a man that anyone trusts. His dealings with colleagues in Washington have done nothing other than increase the overall level of partisanship. His relationships with other world leaders are favorable only until they refuse to comply with his wishes. And yet there may be light at the end of this very dark and long tunnel.

Greg Gutfeld, a host on Fox’s “The Five,” offered an enlightening perspective about the performance of the Trump administration. It should be noted that Gutfeld is a Trump advocate and a self-proclaimed libertarian. So his opinions must be viewed with a bit of skepticism.

Gutfeld believes there are many reasons for Americans to be encouraged. Trump has weathered a blistering campaign against every aspect of his agenda, life and persona. The unprecedented partisanship that he has to deal with, regarding every word and deed, has made it impossible to do anything legislatively up to this point. Yet Gutfeld offered a list of significant accomplishments by the administration in the face of all this adversity. They are delineated below. I’ve added a few of my own perspectives to it as well.

 

  • Trump has “undone” many unproductive and unconstitutional Obama mandates. In the eyes of many observers these mandates were overly burdensome for businesses and common citizens and circumnavigated congressional approval. They include environmental and miscellaneous regulatory demands that were too costly and stifling to various parties.
  • For the first time, because of unrelenting pressure from the US, China is taking a more active role in controlling Kim Jong-u, North Korea’s maniacal leader.
  • Trump has criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation of his actions before the 2016 elections. The administration’s blowback is focused on the absurd claims that Trump minions collaborated with Russian officials. However, to his credit, the president is not trying to stop efforts to determine whether Russia has and is trying to influence our electoral process.
  • Obamacare has been exposed as a misguided and totally ineffective entitlement. Trump repeatedly tells Americans that the law is too costly to both the government and American policyholders. He has indicated that the continued bailout of insurance companies is bad public policy and is a drain on US taxpayers.
  • Tax reform has a chance to be enacted by Congress. The code is too complex and unfair to all Americans. Trump now recognizes that benefits of reform should mostly accrue to middle class Americans.
  • The Iran nuclear deal is truly one of the worst, one-sided treaties in American history. Trump has revealed the evil intentions of Iran. It wants a nuclear bomb with which it will further destabilize the Middle East. If unchecked Iran will eventually be the next rogue nation to use is nukes to blackmail its neighbors and the US. In the meantime Iran is quarterbacking almost every Shiite affiliated terrorist group in the region. Why would the US do any business with a lying, subversive country like Iran?
  • Thank goodness the US has not experienced any new major attacks during Trump’s tenure.
  • Trump has navigated through a despicable Republican revolution in Congress. The disloyalty of certain lawmakers threatens the party’s very existence. The president has named the traitors and hopefully they will lose their seats in the next two elections.
  • Rapidly Trump has been tempering financial regulations that hurt our banking system and the members’ ability to make profits. He recognizes that banks not only need to be safe financially. They need to be profitable to properly service businesses and individuals.
  • The stock market, along with average American 401ks, is soaring, indicative of growing confidence in the economy and Trump’s efforts to create jobs and prosperity for Americans.
  • Unemployment is down to the lowest levels in years. For all intents and purposes every American can find a job if he or she wants to work.
  • Trump’s unorthodox leadership has befuddled many of our adversaries including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. On the surface one would think this method cannot be successful in our world today. But the confusion the president creates at times works to America’s advantage. It makes me believe that for too long other nations have taken advantage of American generosity. America is Trump’s number one priority, and this has upset his counterparts in other countries.

 

It is abundantly clear that many Americans will never get comfortable with Donald Trump as their president. I am a member of this group. Yet he has made progress in spite of relentless and unfair attacks by liberals and the left-leaning press. The latter has twisted the truth and made “fake news” an all to common reality. In spite of all this the Trump administration has moved forward.

The president and his subordinates are obviously under continued duress. Organizationally the administration gets low marks. Stylistically it is the most despised group ever to occupy the White House.

Trump must achieve some legislative victories very soon if he expects to be more than a lame duck president just one year in office. Tax reform and repeal of Obamacare are critical to Trump’s longevity and future productivity as president.

Where Are American’s Great Leaders?

By: Lee Rosenthal

Most Americans believe the president of the United States should be a leader who they admire, a person of integrity, a man or woman who exemplifies the traditions and great history of this country.

We want to look up to, be inspired by and be proud of our most important leader. The president should be someone who is deeply concerned with the well being of every American, regardless of his or her political affiliations, race, gender or religious preference.

America’s president should be a highly intelligent, thoughtful, insightful and selfless person. Our leader should not be vindictive, insecure, shallow, petty or self- serving.

Perhaps America’s idea of what a president should and should not be is a pipe dream, a myth that we retain from our childhood.

There have been presidents in our lifetime that made us proud. We believed they were trying to do what was right for the country under adverse conditions including war and assaults on our homeland. These men were master politicians and statesmen. They were bold thinkers and strategists with a clear vision of a better America.

Where are the great leaders today, and why have we elected the lowest common denominator of what we expect from our government officials? Why has social media become the driving force in our search for great leaders? Are we incapable of thinking for ourselves, and not being part of a herd of consciousness? How did we get to the point where fellow Americans and political adversaries cannot discuss serious issues calmly and civilly?

I am a baby boomer, so I have witnessed enough history to know that America has fallen, as a society, a nation and a unified people. And yet, I still have faith, a deep belief in our country and its citizens that we can get back on course.

I hope and pray that things will improve from the current craziness during my lifetime, so I can rest assured that my children and their children can be happy, secure and productive.

Every president should work diligently to improve our country for future generations and to protect us from those who want to do us harm. Unfortunately the current slate of leaders in America is not giving me any confidence. I sincerely hope we can do better in the future.

Tax Reform Is Critical To The Well Being Of Our Economy And Our Government

Based upon all the chatter among talking heads and media gurus, enactment of tax legislation is absolutely critical to the country’s financial and political stability.

If Trump’s tax initiatives do not garner enough votes in Congress the Republican Party will likely implode, the stock market will drop precipitously, all possibility of greater economic growth will be dashed and Trump will be a lame duck for the next three years.

On Tuesday morning Senator Rand Paul indicated that a large tax decrease is very important to the US. Currently the 35% corporate tax rare is up to two times or more than any other nation in the world. This makes it more profitable and advantageous for corporations to operate overseas, increase transfer payments to subsidiaries in foreign countries and increase cash balances in banks outside the US to avoid paying taxes. The negative impact of this trend on workers and federal tax receipts is a real threat to our economy.

Skeptics continue to say that tax decreases proposed by Trump only benefit the wealthy and will increase the national deficit. Since a great share of taxes are paid by the affluent, it is not a surprise that cuts will be a boon to the wealthy. However tax cuts to businesses will result in more profits, much of which will accrue to lower and middle class working Americans.

As far as the national debt level is concerned, many economists accept the fact that greater economic benefits for corporations and average citizens will increase federal tax receipts, so fears of escalating deficits may be exagerrated.

The reduction of tax loopholes, if imposed, will also reduce the deficit. This aspect of tax reform is the most problematic because every tax deduction (depreciation along with deductions for state and local taxes, mortgage interest, charitable contributions, etc.) has a powerful lobby behind it. Renegotiation of these arrangements will be bloody.

The political ramifications of failed tax reform will be monumental. Ironically most of it is self-imposed by Republicans who control both houses and the presidency. Just like repeal of Obamacare, an inability to find votes has more to do with Republican infighting than effective opposition from do-nothing, uncreative Democrats.

Softball Politics Essay Contest

After publishing hundreds of posts on Softball Politics I wonder whether some of my readers would enjoy writing an essay for the blog. People often tell me they would like to be writers. This is a perfect opportunity to test your skills.

Many of you have disagreed with perspectives espoused on this site so it is an opportunity to express a different take on any subject. Liberal submissions are encouraged.

I will edit every submission and publish them if they are well written and interesting. After which I will select the three best essays and take the authors to lunch at an expensive restaurant in the city (The Grand Prize). I’ll even go downtown to celebrate this occasion. Softball Politics is a labor of love, so there will be no monetary awards.

It will be great fun, as many of you are acquainted with others on my distribution list. I will alert the readership that your essay will be on the site so friends and family members will be able to peruse your essay.

This is your chance to see your name in print. You too can be a part of the “fake news” crowd.

Tell me if you intend to compete for the grand prize and then send your submissions to sjbommarito@gmail.com. I will acknowledge receipt of your work and let you know how your essay fairs versus others. Good luck.

Sal Bommarito

Football Protests Are Protected- It’s Their Timing That’s Controversial

The football player protest has lingered far too long. In fact it is beginning to spread to other sports and venues. The only problem is that this brand of dissent, during the National Anthem played before sporting contests, clouds the objectives of the protesters. In this regard many Americans have mixed emotions about the purpose of the protestors actions. A more organized effort at another moment before an athletic contest would draw significantly more support for social justice.

It all started with a one-man protest by an African American quarterback on the San Francisco 49er team. Many fans were outraged that Colin Kaepernick “disrespected” their flag, their anthem and their country. Kaepernick has repeatedly indicated that this was not his intention. Rather he wanted to make a statement about police brutality directed at African Americans.

Americans appreciate that everyone has a right to protest against anything they want in our country. The Constitution guarantees it. But Kaepernick was employed by the 49ers, and the team’s management expected all the players and personnel to be respectful. The team did not say Kaepernick’s protest was wrong. Rather Kaepernick’s decision to protest at a specific moment dedicated to our country was what really ticked off team managements and anti protesters. By the way Kaepernick is now unemployed. It is debatable whether his protest or his performance on the field is the reason for his inability to find a new job.

Kaepernick has a right to protest, but the fans and observers have a right to challenge him. A large number of people would have been supportive of Kaepernick and all the other players if they protested at any time other than when the anthem was being played. In fact I am sure the NFL would have been happy to give the players a chance to make such a statement.

The ballplayers are highly paid employees of their respective teams. They are living a dream life. If their principles force them to wrap their protest around a sacred rite that is important to millions of Americans, they should expect blow back that may include their dismissal and boos.

Before the NFL game last Thursday night the league did not televise the pregame ceremony that includes the playing of the National Anthem. Why? If there was a protest the NFL did not want to evoke a negative response from the fans on live TV. Football fans are generally nationalistic.

This tiresome ordeal could be put to rest if the NFL, and other sporting teams, organized a pregame program at each event. Perhaps a moment of silence could take place for those who have suffered injustices and in recognition that the relationship between the races still needs more work. After, everybody would stand while the anthem is played.