Trump Will Not Run For A Second Term

IWe all agree that Donald Trump is a different kind of guy. He’s driven by adulation, ego and the urge to win. The president continuously boasts about his accomplishments using “est” words. “The Trump administration is the greatest in history.” “The tax cut was the biggest ever.” “The wall will make the US the safest country in the world.”

Since his inauguration the president has been talking to himself. Only the most naïve and least informed Americans think the man is the best in any regard.

Another dominant character trait so many Americans find disturbing is that every controversial situation is a fight to the death. There are never problems that he and others can agree upon without resulting in bad feelings.

Even more disconcerting, Trump is a very bad winner. When he gets things done he gloats and celebrates victory by denigrating those who opposed him. Smart politicians mend fences after a tough fight, to position themselves for the next confrontation.

Trump is not a statesman, even though he should appreciate that America wants this quality in its leaders. Every time he goes on a crusade, he begins by threatening his counterpart.

Sometimes Trump uses a strategy that is so obvious that other leaders snicker behind his back. Putin, Xi, Macon, May and others start out being the president’s bffs, and when they push back, they become enemies of America. This radical, inconsistent behavior befuddles other leaders. They can’t trust Trump when he commits to something in negotiations. And Trump’s perspectives about what took place in private talks are always exaggerated.

The president is definitely a phenom. He was a successful businessperson, disliked by most, who managed to become president. He did so by relentlessly attacking the status quo and convincing many voters that politicians were all crooked, lying and incompetent swamp creatures. This ploy worked swimmingly through the election. However, Trump never pivoted and tried to patch up old wounds.

No president can be successful without support of Congress. If the opposition controls the legislature, the president must find common ground, or he won’t be able to accomplish anything.

Obama is a perfect example of this. He alienated congressional Republicans and was stymied for the balance of his tenure. Trump is facing the same dilemma in the wake of Democrats gaining control of the House in 2018. If Trump had built bridges with Democrats, our government would be able to operate in spite of philosophical differences. Trump’s next two years are going to be a living hell for him and all Americans.

This brings me to the point of this essay. If you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword. Republicans are embarrassed that such a brute is the leader of the party.

His behavior and quirky decisions make Republicans cringe every day. They pretend to support the president, but they don’t. Like many average Americans, Republicans thought Trump would change his spots once he moved into the White House. He didn’t, and now Republican leadership is in jeopardy.

Trump cannot employ experts to help him develop new policies good for the country. Backstabbing, leaks among the members of the administration and Trump’s style of management are making it impossible to govern effectively. As soon as a new person assumes an important position, he or she is planning to leave. It must be very difficult to work with such a mercurial person.

And finally, the Democrats. With control of the House they will waste time and money denigrating, investigating and antagonizing the president. The House majority will make it impossible to develop and pass new legislation. It makes no difference if initiatives are good for America. Obstruction, the Democrats believe, is the path to a Democratic presidency.

Most importantly the opposition will continue to dig into every misstep by Trump and his sycophants. They will look into his business dealings and reopen scabs of the president’s sordid past. It will be very ugly and unproductive.

So why, one would ask, would a self-proclaimed billionaire put up with all this sh–? I believe, even Trump won’t be able to deal with such treatment for the next two years. I predict he will abandon efforts to run for a second term.

 

Obamacare Is Back In The News

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m exhausted trying to keep up with the machinations of both political parties. The latest issue is the revival of our old nemesis- Obamacare. The question is: should it be restructured or flushed down the toilet?

A conservative judge kicked off the latest brouhaha by ruling that Obamacare was unconstitutional because a new law passed by Congress eliminated the “mandate”. The mandate relates to the requirement that every American must have health care insurance or pay a fine.

These fines were supposed to encourage healthier Americans to buy Obamacare health insurance, which would offset the costs of paying for the unhealthiest Americans among us. To say it another way, healthy people would be taxed for the benefit of unhealthy individuals.

The judge indicated that the mandate was necessary to make Obamacare work, so the mandate’s demise made the whole Obamacare law unconstitutional.

There are two benefits that everyone, including both political parties, wants to retain from Obamacare, the right to be able to buy insurance even if you have a preexisting condition, and expanded Medicaid assistance for the most needy Americans. Because of universal agreement on these issues, they would be logical starting point for a new political effort to clean up health care. It’s not likely that this will work currently because Congress and the president are in a dysfunctional mode.

The major obstacle for a new law is the insistence of many liberals that health care be a one-payer system (that being the federal government). This would be an enormous undertaking and certainly the most expensive route to take.

Allowing the federal government to control such a gigantic part of our economy is a recipe for disaster. The feds have not been successful operating businesses for the benefit of their constituencies in recent history. The probability of abuses, higher taxpayer costs and inefficiencies is high. Notwithstanding this, most of the two or three-dozen Democratic candidates for president are adamantly for a one-payer system.

Republicans would rather have a private health care system that would be competitive and strive to bring down health costs for the federal government and all Americans. Today’s version of Obamacare is fraught with fewer choices, high premiums, greater deductibles, bloated and unnecessary coverage and inefficiencies. In fact most Americans need to retain advisors to help choose the right plan.

Fewer and fewer plans are available as insurance companies are walking away from this unpredictable business. The current Obamacare system is about to implode, even after trillions of dollars have been wasted trying to make it work.

In the meantime both political parties are politicizing the Obamacare conundrum. It’s too bad the namesake of the disastrous program is now in retirement and not bearing any responsibility for the terrible law he jammed down our throats.

Democrats believe they can make political points by repeating over and over that the opponents of Obamacare are going to eliminate the precondition guarantee and the Medicaid assistance for the needy. This ploy will not succeed.

The fact is that health care is a monstrous issue that threatens the financial viability of the country. The government should oversee the system, but not operate it. All those who abuse the system including pharmacy companies, cheating doctors and patients who file false claims should be prosecuted. A private system that closely monitors health care is the best path to follow. Socialized medicine will never be successful in this country.

 

China Is Not Yet Overtaking The US Economically

A short time ago I suggested on this blog that the US had a distinct advantage in the escalating trade war with China. This was based upon the extreme imbalance of trade that I believed favored America.

For the past several years it seemed like everyone was convinced that China was on the verge of overtaking the US economically. I don’t believe this is necessarily true.

Xi Jinping celebrated all this by making himself the leader of the country for the rest of his life. Maybe his elation has been a bit premature.

On the dark domestic side, China was making a mockery of free trade by supporting its homegrown industries with oversized tariffs, and stealing trade secrets from any foreign company that did business on main land China.

Further, bank lending mandated by the government to bolster the domestic economy has now come home to roost. Banks are leveraged to the hilt and many financial experts are concerned about their solvency and the number of defaults popping up every day.

Yet Sinophiles still think China is going to overwhelm the US. Even thought the Chinese government falsifies its economic performance, it has become obvious that its economic growth is declining. The auto industry for example has reported that sales were down over 16% in 2018 after many years of positive results.

The Chinese government is sanctioning work leaves and sending millions of workers home without pay. This could have huge ramifications should it continue. Workers are complaining publicly that they are not able to work enough hours to support their families.

A few months ago nobody was reading the tealeaves in their haste to criticize Trump’s trade onslaught. In 2018, through October, China sold $447 billion of merchandise to the US, and the US sold $102 billion to China. This imbalance gives Trump the upper hand in an economic showdown.

If Trump continues to increase tariffs on Chinese goods, it will devastate the Chinese economy. In fact this is exactly what is happen to an extent, and the president has a lot more tariff opportunities if China refuse to negotiate in good faith.

The US is China’s largest trading partner. By decreasing orders because China’s products are noncompetitive with tariffs, Trump can effectively create unemployment in China, even if the latter calls it temporary work furloughs. How will the Chinese feel about their leader when the country has workers on unemployment lines? This could become an existential threat to the Xi regime.

It should be noted that the Chinese, who are always concerned about saving face, are suddenly becoming more amenable to negotiating a settlement with the US. In a nutshell Trump’s tough stance with China is beginning to bare fruit.

Economic strength is proving to the newest weapon of mass destruction being wielded by the US.

Will French Unrest Spread?

The riots in France are directed at the administration of President Emmanuel Macron. They are emanating from the political left, right and middle class.

The French people have lost confidence in Macron. Two thirds of them believe the government will not be able to unite France.

To date there have been four deaths and 4,000 arrests among the “yellow vest” demonstrators. The original riots were inspired by an increase in fuel taxes, which significantly impacted the middle class and poor of the country. Macron rescinded the tax hike after violence and protest broke out throughout the country.

The beleaguered president also agreed to cut taxes on pensions and promised to “increase wages” for struggling middle class and poor workers in an effort to end civil protest.

The actions of the government have not make a dent in the negative polling of Macron. Fifty seven percent of the people are “not wooed by the young leader.” Sixty percent said the president is not listening to the people. Seventy three percent back the yellow vest movement. Fifty four percent want protests to continue.

The French unrest is reminiscent of the Occupy Wall Street disorder a few years ago. The movement is leaderless and disorganized. It is destructive to property and commerce in the big cities, which is impacting many of the people that, ironically, are supporting the demonstrations.

The poor, the right and the middle class all have gripes with Macron, which account for his horrible polling numbers.

The poor reacted violently to the gas tax hike and have not backed off in spite of the Macron’s actions to rescind the tax and call for higher wages.

The right wing demonstrators are angry about Macron’s progressive perspective towards illegal aliens. This group is encouraging a more nationalistic approach by the government to protect jobs that are being taken by interlopers.

The middle class is in an uproar that the demonstrations have not been controlled. This is resulting in huge losses for merchants and the destruction of stores and vehicles during the holiday sales period.

How does all this violence impact other neighboring countries? In Europe dissatisfaction is growing every day. The poor are protesting difficult economic conditions, while right wing groups are resenting illegals more each day.

Nationalistic fervor will continue to spread to other places. Already we have seen the announced resignation of Angela Merkel in Germany, chaos in the Italian and Spanish governments and an unsuccessful but significant no-confidence vote in Britain. The later situation has all the same issues as France but is exacerbated by problems relating to Brexit.

Is Trump culpable for the growing unrest in countries around the world? The left in the US would say yes. I would disagree and suggest that what is happening was inevitable.

Trump’s nationalistic sentiments are far different than in other places. For one thing the American people are not losing jobs to illegals. Illegals are straining the resources of federal and local governments, but that is of little consequence to lower and middle class Americans.

The US economy is cruising along seemingly immune to the issues in other parts of the world. Unemployment is low, inflation is virtually nonexistent and wages are increasing. Even fuel costs are temperate aided by a seemingly orderly oil market.

Americans have little to complain about. Yet many continue to be focused on income, gender and racial inequality.

The morale of this story is that the US is in relatively good shape, notwithstanding the absurd actions and commentary of our president. Average citizens and politicians disagree about immigration security, disparities among different groups and continued gains made by the affluent.

The US should continue to prosper in 2019, although political strife will not subside. But most importantly we probably won’t experience the kind of nationwide discontent that is overwhelming many other countries.

Can The World End Air Pollution?

The NY Times reported that a Trump plan to open nine million acres to drilling and mining threatened the sage grouse. Apparently the birds are nesting on “some of the richest deposits [of resources] in the American West.” Wikipedia says: the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest grouse (a bird species) in North America. Its range is sagebrush country in the western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Its population is declining and in danger of extinction.

The world is at a crossroads. Are we going to wean ourselves away from fossil fuel, which is polluting our planet, or not? Using the sage grouse to combat environmental abuse is absurd.

If America needs more access to oil deposits to remain oil independent, a few rare birds should not deter it. If America is determined to contribute to the efforts to decrease the effects of fossil fuel, it must be brave and take unprecedented action.

The fact is that too many other developed(ing) nations are not able or willing to stay the course and decrease fossil fuel usage. Most are signatories to the Paris Climate Change Accords. The hypocrisy of these countries is staggering. They sign agreements, which call for prescribed reductions in pollution, and don’t enforce them.

President Trump rightly walked away from the sham Accords. He never said he would relax important and necessary standards. Rather he wanted to point out that few countries are doing their part in the process to clean the air.

China and India are experiencing their own industrial revolutions. Manufacturing facilities are popping up throughout these countries. Currently the most efficient fuel to operate these facilities is coal. The future impact will be significant. Will either of these countries forego economic progress for less pollution? It’s unlikely.

In some cases the issues are more systemic. In China millions of people use coal to heat their homes. Without it many would freeze in winter. This application of coal is highly toxic. There are no alternative sources of energy for a great number of people.

The real answer is technology. Unfortunately too many companies have too much invested in current energy sources that are responsible for pollution.

For years domestic car companies delayed the development of electric engines. Retooling to produce clean air electric vehicles and eschewing high profit, gas-guzzling autos would have depressed the earnings of these companies. Recently there has been some movement towards electric motors, but it has not been fast enough.

New and clean technologies have all sorts of issues. Nuclear is clean, but facilities are expensive, take a long time to erect and operating problems can be catastrophic, especially when citizens are threatened by radioactive leaks.

Solar and wind power have been fraught with many types of delays and mismanagement. They are, unfortunately, not large enough to make a dent in fossil fuel usage.

The real target should be the automobile. More gas users are overrunning the globe. In New York City and most other large cities, thousands of Uber, Lyft and Juno call cars have over populated our streets. How many of them run on electric energy? Local governments with foresight would have required these call car companies use electric cars.

The stakes are high. If the world is going to move at a snail’s pace regarding fossil fuel, then new sources of it will be needed to keep transportation moving. We should not allow the sage grouse to stymie efforts to find new energy sources in any case. Living without these birds will be easier than living with a shortage of fuel to operate our cars, like in the 1970s.

 

 

Must A President Be Likeable To Be Successful?

It was inevitable that the death of George H.W. Bush would lead to endearing comments by politicians and world leaders about his wonderful personality and statesmanlike demeanor. As expected, Bush’s passing has fueled comparisons of him to our current president.

The two men could not be any different. George Bush was the 41st president of the United States, Vice President to Ronald Reagan, Director of the CIA, Special Envoy to China, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, US Ambassador to the United Nations and a Member of the House of Representatives. He was also a decorated Navy pilot in World War II. No man or woman has ever been more prepared to assume the role of Commander-In-Chief than George Bush.

Trump told voters that his detachment from Washington and lack of government experience were his greatest assets (really?). He has been a real estate maven for decades and purportedly earned billions of dollars in the process. His corporate experiences did not prepare him for what happened after his election, as we all know. The administration frequently has trouble coordinating efforts, and Trump’s advisors cannot control his emotional responses to everyday life in the White House.

From a personal perspective Bush was known as a kind man who bonded with all those around him, allies and opponents alike. He’s always been known as a good friend to many of the most respected people in Washington regardless of their political affiliations. Trump is a loner whose relationships with others are based upon whether they can be helpful to him.

George Bush was a winner and a loser politically, as he was denied a second term by Bill Clinton. After being defeated he left a note in White House to his adversary (that has gone viral) wishing him great success as the new president. Trump would never be so magnanimous.

The question Americans must ask themselves is whether a president’s likeability really matters. Can we ever be happy with a self-aggrandizing, narcissistic introvert as president if he or she can get the job done?

In spite of the bad feelings regarding Trump that cover a wide spectrum including misogyny, racism, xenophobia, elitism, ethnocentrism, nationalism and much more, he has been doing a good job in many regards. Making friends is not one of his strong points. He does not think it’s critical.

Despite all of his shortcomings the president is determined to keep the promises he made two years ago as a candidate. He is ruthless with anyone who makes attaining his goals difficult. And, arguably, Trump is the most transparent president in history. He has benefited by having Twitter at his disposal to express his opinions at any time of the day in the solace of the White House. Trump is a master of making the news cycle work for him regardless of what other issues are affecting the country and the world.

The president never gives up on any mission. He continues to press forward in the wake of vicious personal and disrespectable attacks by liberals and the press. The man’s determination is second to none. It will be interesting to see how history treats Trump especially if he continues to move America forward.

What does Trump really want to accomplish? For one thing he wants America to be the strongest and most formidable force in the world. How can anyone argue with this objective in the light of what’s happening in so many places? Hasn’t America learned that might makes right? Do dangerous regimes, dictators, terrorists and criminals respond to anything other than brutal force? All Americans understand this, so why aren’t Trump’s efforts to make us stronger every day and to build a fearsome military applauded.

Domestically you cannot find a greater cheerleader than Donald Trump. He calls out American companies who are sending jobs overseas. He pleads with corporate executives to spend and hire more workers. He made it more profitable for American businesses by lowering tax rates. He encouraged Americans to buy by lowering taxes on the middle class. And he aggressively attacks trade agreements that benefit other countries at the expense of America.

For years our leaders have ignored unfair trade arrangements. Why would our leaders agree to tariffs that are less than those imposed by America? It makes no sense. Why would our leaders allow technology to be stolen by Chinese manufacturers? How can there be free trade in the world when other countries protect their domestic companies while US allows subsidized products from abroad to enter the country with no tariffs? Trump has exposed the problems and is working to make US goods more competitive.

Trump is the greatest advocate of a strong border. Our country will not be secure without proper vetting of applications for visas and citizenship. This doesn’t mean America will no longer be a melting pot of diverse nationalities. What other country has been more generous to immigrants than the US?

The problem is that for several decades our leaders have turned a blind eye to immigrants illegally crossing our border. They have ignored the incredible burden that 20 million people have put on state and local governments as they take jobs and in effect overwhelm our troubled medical and educational systems. Notwithstanding all of this, most people, even conservatives, have agreed to allow those illegals already in the country to stay with just a few conditions.

One is that they must be law abiding and pay taxes. Another is that everyone should agree that not one more illegal alien can come into the country. If this means a wall, let’s get it done. All the talk about disbanding the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency needs to end immediately. And the sanctuary city and state efforts should be abandoned. They are insulting to all Americans.

Trump has forcefully dealt with aggressive leaders of other countries while trying to maintain good relationships, a monumental task. At times this strategy seems choppy, lauding a leader while imposing sanctions on his country. But it’s a complicated world.

Trump can be that president who forsakes comity and good relations for results, if Americans give him a chance. Yet it’s doubtful that history will ever reward this unique leadership style.

 

 

Should Charitable Contributions Be Tax Deductible?

The New York Times published an op-ed piece titled “When Rich Give, We Pay.” It’s a pathetic and ill-conceived attempt to make a case against the deductibility of charitable donations.

In 2017 Americans gave $410.02 billion to schools and colleges, hospitals, cultural organizations and museums, medical research and many other institutions that greatly improve the quality of our lives. The benefit of this charity is incalculable. Many students receive scholarships, health care is improved, art is preserved and curated and diseases are diagnosed and cured thanks to donations by generous Americans.

The kindness of so many is a treasure not duplicated anywhere else in the world. And, in many cases, the money donated decreases stress on our society and government, which are intent on supporting education, medicine, science and the arts.

I was taken aback by the strange proposal by the authors of the aforementioned article that affluent donors should lose the deductibility of their gifts that help so many. Then again progressives never give up in their quest to extract more money from the most successful in our country even it the proposals are inherently unproductive.

And, it’s stunning that the amount of money donated last year, a new record, is not even recognized for what it is, subsidization of the federal government. If these gifts were not made, Americans would look to the government to fund the numerous eleemosynary activities alluded to earlier.

When an American donates money to a qualified donee and itemizes deductions, he or she receives a tax benefit equal to the amount granted times the donor’s tax rate. [Note: For expediency I will only speak to the impact of giving on federal income taxes.] So if a person donates $1 million to a hospital or a college or to medial science, he or she receives a tax benefit of $300 thousand, assuming the individual has an effective tax rate of 30%. The highest individual tax rates can be up to 37%.

This means that the qualified donee gets $1 million, with no tax liability and the donor effectively pays $700 thousand out of pocket, including the tax benefit. It is true that the federal government will lose $300 thousand, but the resultant benefits to the donee’s beneficiaries could be far more important than this.

If the money is used to finance medical research, lives will be saved. If the money is used for scholarships, more students will become productive, independent members of our society.

Robin Hood, a charitable organization, raises millions annually from its very enthusiastic supporters. The mission of Robin Hood is to aid the needy in the New York metropolitan area. Is the good that this organization does in feeding, clothing, sheltering and educating the downtrodden worth more than the loss of tax revenues from deductible gifts? I think so. Does anyone really believe that million dollar donations are a merely a ploy to reduce taxes?

I’m puzzled why the Times would publish such a misguided piece. The naivety of the authors is best represented by their call on donors to voluntarily give up tax deductions arising from their gifts. The authors then compounded their misunderstanding by suggesting that donors are less qualified than the government to apply their donations. Why would donors give up the right to use their donations in a way that meets their specific focus? And to the federal government, no less? How well is our government doing managing its finances? Consider the out of control deficit.

It would be folly to take a chance that the generosity of so many would not be affected by the elimination of charitable deductions. Over $400 billion are at stake.

Why Is Socialism Bad For America?

The results of the midterm elections should create a great deal of consternation for Americans. The proliferation of socialistic politicians and their ideology is a threat to our way of life.

Socialism means more government intrusion into our lives. It’s the only way to inhibit the creative and productive spirit of the people. The rules of a socialistic culture prevent the cream from rising to the top.

In a socialistic state, it’s not appropriate for any individuals to have more than others. It’s a society where everyone works the same number of hours, lives in cookie-cutter housing projects and takes public transportation to work. There are no heroes or role models.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work. You will receive the same compensation as others. Only a special few, who are close to leadership, receive special treatment.

Socialistic states have proven time and again that they do not work for extended periods of time. It may be an appropriate starting point for a new country, but the human spirit eventually overwhelms autocrats that manage socialistic states.

An examination of countries around the world should convince Americans that seguing from capitalism to socialism is a bad idea for our vibrant society.

China is the best example of a socialistic state in flux. Under Mao Tse Tung in the middle of the middle of the 20th Century, everyone shared equally. Today, just 50 years later, the Chinese people clamor for both capitalistic benefits and democracy.

Xi Jinping’s regime will not persevere if he can’t deliver more economic opportunity to his people. Xi is demanding more productivity and creativity from everyone. The best of the society now live more comfortably than the lower classes.

In China, students are ranked by potential. The best ones go to the most prestigious schools and ultimately fill the most important positions in the country. This is the essence of capitalism in which upper middle class lives are more rewarding than commoners.

Why would America choose to move in the opposite direction as China? Why would we abandon exceptionalism for a predetermined lifestyle?

You may ask what are the signs of increasing socialism in our country? Here are two.

A single source health care system is a prime example of socialism at its worst. For one thing, it’s axiomatic that universal care will never be a reality in the US unless all Americans are subjected to extreme taxation to pay for the extraordinary costs affiliated with it.

Supporters of this strategy ask why should some people have better health services than others? The reason is simple- they are prepared to pay more for it. Wealthy people overpay and this subsidizes the costs of other Americans.

Having well run hospitals manned by highly trained doctors is essentially funded by the affluent in this country. Without this subsidization, medical facilities and the personnel that operate them would deteriorate over time. Socialized medicine paid by the state results in inferior quality of service in too many cases. In the meantime, all citizens are subjected to very high tax rates.

Education is another area where the affluent subsidize so many others. For instance, wealthy alumni fund top colleges. College tuitions are not enough to pay for annual operating costs together with scholarships for high performing needy students. Most colleges have blind admissions, relating to financial need. If you score good grades, you can go to a top tier school at little or no cost.

The socialist would have us dumb down (a terrible, but descriptive term) the student bodies so that less qualified students can survive intellectually. Why would America agree to decrease educational standards for political correctness? Why would we hamper the brightest among us to be good socialists?

The remote ideal of income equality continues to depress our society. The so-called have-nots are troubled that others have bigger homes, fancier cars and take glamorous vacations. Not everyone can become a business tycoon, a professional athlete or an entertainer. But dedication and ambition will pay huge dividends over time.

The most important fact is that education can raise the lives of all Americans. The vast majority of baby boomers who are affluent made their fortunes by attending college and working hard. Their parents didn’t give them trust funds. They pushed them as children to get good grades and go to great schools.

Ultimately, a higher standard of living is something that is available to anyone in America who works diligently, has ambition and is trained. Socialism depresses people with a false sense of entitlement that will decrease their ability to live satisfying lives.

 

“Tina”: The New Musical Is Sensational

Last week, I continued my walk down memory lane at a theater in London where I saw the new hit musical, “Tina.” You may remember, I recently wrote a piece about the new movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a story about the great rock group, Queen.

A 30-year old phenom, Adrienne Warren, played the Tina Turner role and brought the house down. The once nominated actress has a respectable list of credits to her name. I’m confident she will be critically acclaimed for this performance.

Ms. Warren is gorgeous and can sing and dance like nobody. She was perfectly casted to play Tina. Ms. Warren was beaming throughout the entire show and really connected with the audience.

Everything about the performance was entertaining. Ms. Warren must have spent long hours trying to emulate Tina’s dance moves. The costumes and staging were captivating. The show ended with a mini concert during which Ms. Warren had every person in the theater dancing and singing along with her. All of Tina’s most famous songs were performed during the evening including “Proud Mary,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Private Dancer.”

But the show was about the life and times of Tina Turner, one of the most charismatic performers of the late 20th Century. Her life was affected by every challenge one would expect for a poor black entertainer in her day.

She was brought up in abject poverty in Nutbush, Tennessee. Both of her parents abandoned her when she was a young girl, and her grandmother raised her. She found meteoric success along with every kind of abuse.

A lot of time was dedicated to Tina’s relationship with Ike Turner, a despicable two-bit hustler, who took advantage of a naïve and helpless young girl. She was Ike’s prisoner for years. He beat her and stole her money. Along the way, they had two boys. Kobna Holdbrook- Smith played the role of Ike. His performance was so authentic that I fully expected the audience to boo him at the conclusion of the show. Thankfully they did not.

As I look back on Tina’s life, I can’t help think about all the black women with extraordinary talent that experienced the same issues as Tina. In many situations, they were sentenced to lives as back-up singers for little money, supporting big musical acts. So often their booming voices were pigeonholed and masked so as not to upstage featured singers. Darlene Love was one such singer. In the movie “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” she tells her story. It’s worth seeing.

Tina was yet another casualty of misogyny, bigotry and sexual abuse. She had all the talent in the world and incredible stage presence, but Ike needed to manipulate her. At long last Tina broke free of Ike Turner, and she went back on stage as a solo act.

The show was inspirational, yet I suspect more so for women than men in the current environment. But you can bet Adrienne Warren is going to be a super star.

I hope the show comes to Broadway in the near future and Tina Turner receives the accolades she deserves for being a great entertainer for so many years.

 

Avenging House Democrats Will Attempt To Take Down Trump

Liberals achieved much of what they hoped for in the 2018 midterm elections. Typically, these elections are unkind to sitting presidents, and so, on cue, Republicans lost the House of Representatives.

Republicans still retain the presidency, and with it the power to veto progressive legislation conjured up by the House. Even if Democrats can find a ray of partisan support from the opposition, the president can make it virtually impossible to enact new legislation.

The president has the power to “legislate” to a degree using presidential mandates and new regulation just the way Obama did when he lost power. But most believe this is an unhealthy way to govern our nation, and could be deemed unconstitutional.

Trump will be able to follow his instincts in foreign policy. However, if he needs a treaty to confirm deals he makes with foreign leaders, he will have a tough row to hoe. Treaties must be approved by 2/3 of the Senate, an insurmountable hurdle in the current environment. Pending are: a new Iran nuclear arrangement, a North Korean treaty and numerous trade deals around the world.

Of note, the president, with his majority in the Senate, can appoint many more conservative judges to lower courts and to the Supreme Court. Of note, Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg is becoming frailer every day and could step down during the next two years. Confirmation of judges by the Senate was recently changed to a simple majority. These appointments could have a huge effect on our society prospectively.

Democrats have much greater influence with their new majority in the House. It’s worth considering how the acknowledged group of Trump haters will behave as we approach the presidential elections in 2020.

As a general rule, liberal House Democrats will obstruct all legislative initiatives by the Trump administration, even if they would be good for our nation. Of note is a proposed new tax cut for middle class Americans, immigration reform including the construction of a wall on our boarder with Mexico and the retooling of our military.

The budgetary process is going to come to a screeching halt as the political parties fight for their constituents. Obamacare will limp along unresolved, which could materially increase health care costs prospectively. All new legislative initiatives will have a zero chance of becoming law.

The change in control is reminiscent of the situation Democrats found themselves in when Obama lost his filibuster-proof majority, after enactment of Obamacare and the death of Teddy Kennedy (he was replaced by Republican Scott Brown). At the time, Democrats continued to control the presidency and both houses of Congress. But the Senate filibuster proved to be a potent weapon of obstruction for Republicans. During the next six years, Obama was unable to pass any substantive legislation. The president tried to govern with mandates. Many of these efforts turned out to be short term, as Trump abrogated most of Obama’s orders.

Equally important is how Democrats will be busy for the next two years. It’s obvious that their most important objective is to bring down the Trump administration with impeachment (unlikely because Republicans control the Senate), obstruction and tedious investigation of scandal or missteps by Trump. This will encompass his family, his businesses and his confidantes. All will be investigated while the wheels of government simultaneously come to halt.

Current efforts to affiliate Trump with Russia’s attempt to influence our elections will be rehashed. The House will demand to see Trump’s tax returns, even though he is not required to comply. House committees will become more intrusive and demand information about every meeting with foreign leaders. In effect, Democrats will confirm that they don’t trust Trump to conduct affairs of state.

Democrats are going to criticize and intimidate the Executive Branch in hearings and with jawboning in an effort to discredit Trump. They say they want the truth. Don’t believe it for one second. Liberals and the media hate the president and will join hands to destroy his administration, even if it damages America.

The liberal crusaders for justice, truth and democracy may create yet another national crisis. The ability to compromise is an all-time low (excluding the years surrounding the Civil War). Finding compromise is virtually impossible. The suggestion that infrastructure reform could be something both parties could work on together is a joke. The two sides will find reasons to disagree on this desperately needed legislation.

In the future, comity and cooperation that enabled previous governments to do business will be gone for the foreseeable future. Each successive new administration will spend an inordinate amount of time fighting off the opposition, rather than enacting new and needed legislation to improve conditions in America.

At some point, enacting laws will need to change. Already, the power of the filibuster has been diluted, at least for the appointment of judges. It’s likely that filibusters will no longer be a tool of the minority in future deliberations, which will greatly increase the power of the majority. It’s folly to think that a super majority can be mustered at this time on any issue. Congress cannot even enact laws with a simple majority.

The Democrats are in a position to put a dagger into America’s governmental bureaucracy. It’s stunning that the legislative branch of government will be busy trying to take down the executive branch of government.

The only thing that is clear for the next two years is that nothing will be done in Congress. Hopefully, this will not be a permanent condition.