Saturday, September 5, 2015

Clinton Before Country

The saga of Hillary Clinton and the use of her personal email to conduct highly sensitive and confidential State Department business gets more troubling every day.

For example, consider this report that was in today's Washington Post regarding the arrangement that Hillary had in paying a Clinton loyalist (also a paid State Department IT staffer) to moonlight on the side to maintain the private email server that the Clintons had installed in their home in Chappaqua, NY.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her family personally paid a State Department staffer to maintain the private e-mail server she used while heading the agency, according to an official from Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The unusual arrangement helped Clinton retain personal control over the system that she used for her public and private duties and that has emerged as an issue for her campaign. But, according to the campaign official, it also ensured that taxpayer dollars were not spent on a private server that was shared by Clinton, her husband and their daughter as well as aides to the former president.
That State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano, told a congressional committee this week that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination instead of testifying about the setup.
The private employment of Pagliano provides a new example of the ways that Clinton — who occupied a unique role as a Cabinet secretary who was also a former and potentially future presidential candidate — hired staff to work simultaneously for her in public and private capacities.

However, buried deeper in the story is something that I found even more troubling with regard to the manner in which Hillary assesses issues.

By early 2013, as Clinton was preparing to conclude her time as secretary of state, she was looking to upgrade the system’s security and durability, people briefed on the server have said. The system had crashed for days during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, disrupting her e-mail abilities.

Notice that Hillary only began to consider upgrading the security of her server and email system when she was preparing to conclude her time as secretary of state.

She didn't seem to have the same amount of concern when she was conducting State Department and national security business on her personal server (for over three years previous) as she had when she was only going to be a private citizen (and preparing to run for President of the United States).

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton chose to ignore the governmental email system and establish her email on a private server completely outside of the control of the federal government.

Why did she do this?

She says it was for her personal convenience but this excuse makes her even look worse. She placed her personal convenience before her duties as Secretary of State? She placed her comfort before her country? She placed her personal interests ahead of national security interests?

The fact is that she appears to have done it solely to avoid any requirement to disclose the contents of her emails under the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act and to shield herself from any personal embarrassment or risk to her future political career. It was done to circumvent the laws of her country plain and simple. There is no other rational explanation for what she did.

It certainly was not because of any interest or concern about her country and the reporting of The Washington Post adds yet another confirmation that was the case.

In putting her personal interests above the national security interests of our country she also placed the security of every American at risk.

Hillary Clinton's actions should disqualify her from the office of President of the United States.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

There Is A Better Way To Defund Planned Parenthood

" We need to play chess, not checkers."
This is a piece of advice a very smart and astute man used to say to me when we were considering the strategic implications of an issue.

All the pieces in checkers are uniform, they are interchangeable and they move in the same way. They all move at the same pace, and on parallel paths in what is basically a pure frontal assault. In chess, each piece moves in a different way. You have to understand how each piece moves and how it fits into the longer term strategy. Depending on the piece, they move forward, backward, sideways or diagonally to achieve the final goal.

I am reminded of the chess and checkers analogy as the Republicans are talking about legislation to defund Planned Parenthood upon their return to Washington, D.C. next week.

This is the headline and a quote from a recent article from The Hill on the proposed legislation in the House.

House moving toward vote to defund Planned Parenthood

"A bill to defund Planned Parenthood is expected to come up for a vote shortly after lawmakers return from recess, aides said. It would likely take the form of legislation from (GOP Rep. Diane) Black which would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year, although leaders are still weighing their options."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already thrown in the towel in the Senate and said that any thought of defunding Planned Parenthood will have to wait until 2016 with the election of a new President and Congress. It sounds like he may not even bring it up to a vote this year.

"The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding of Planned Parenthood, so that’s another issue that awaits a new president, hopefully with a different point of view about Planned Parenthood,” McConnell said.

I have been horrified, as I believe most of those who have seen them have been, at the undercover videos that have recently been released that have shown Planned Parenthood employees and vendors speaking about the sale and use of aborted baby parts.

It would seem to me, irrespective of your view on abortion, that what we have witnessed in these videos with regard to the callous disregard and conduct of Planned Parenthood is well beyond any semblance of humanity and raises real questions about the use of taxpayer dollars to support such an enterprise.

However, playing checkers will not produce a checkmate against Planned Parenthood.

Consider a few facts.

Planned Parenthood's fiscal 2014 report puts the number of abortions it performed at 327, 653.

To put that in perspective, the total number of live births in the United States in 2014 was 3,985, 924 based on the preliminary numbers tabulated by the CDC.  Therefore, the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood alone is nearly 10% of total births in the United States.

Planned Parenthood received $528 million in government health services grants and reimbursements last year according to its most recent Annual Report. Most of that is federal money from Medicaid but some of it is state money due to the structure of Medicaid financing. Taxpayer money represents 41% of the Planned Parenthood budget in total.

Why does playing checkers not work in attempting to defund Planned Parenthood?

A couple more facts from the Planned Parenthood Annual Report.

865,721 breast exams and pap tests.

3,577,348 birth control information and services provided.

4,470,597 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections provided.

These women's health services are the shield that makes it very difficult to consider any frontal attack on Planned Parenthood. Any move to defund Planned Parenthood is too easily cast as an attack on women's health and these popular services.

Planned Parenthood is also very crafty with its use of numbers in that they add up all of the breast exams, birth control advice and STI tests and treatments (I get 9 million services just by adding the numbers above) and then say that abortions are only 3% of what they do!  However, the best estimates that I have seen is that as much as 75% of the government funds it receives are related to abortion services in some way.

Donald Trump has already been savvy enough to back away from early indications that he would support defunding Planned Parenthood.

Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to back off his demands to defund Planned Parenthood. After saying last week it’s worth having Congress shut down the federal government unless Planned Parenthood is stripped of its $528 million in government funding, the Republican presidential candidate changed his tune 

Speaking on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning, Trump said that before defunding Planned Parenthood entirely, he would look at the positive aspects of the organization.

So how would I play chess instead of checkers on the issue of funding Planned Parenthood?

I would start by loudly supporting the work of Planned Parenthood in its important role in supporting women's health and my commitment to maintain full funding for these important services in future years.

However, for each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood it would lose a proportionate amount of government funding in the following year. Simply stated, $528 million divided by 327,653 abortions puts a cost penalty of about $1,600 on Planned Parenthood for each abortion they perform.

Such a plan puts a real incentive on Planned Parenthood to focus on birth control prevention and women's health issues rather than providing abortions with their government funding.

It also removes their shield and the defense of Pro-Choice Democrats who hide behind the same women's health agenda while many of them declare they only want to make abortion safe, legal and rare. Here is their chance to make it rarer.

If Planned Parenthood got out of the abortion business altogether they would have the full $528 million in government funds they currently receive to devote solely to women's health issues. That is a lot of birth control services and STI treatments and tests!

However, if they chose to continue at their current rate of abortions they would lose all funding.

Most importantly, it would be Planned Parenthood's CHOICE.

Isn't that what Planned Parenthood is always lobbying for?

Planned Parenthood can choose to be a very well funded women's health organization or a poorly funded abortion provider. It would be their choice.

Memo to GOP. Please, no checkers. It is time to play chess.

Monday, August 31, 2015

People, Power and Prohibition

Can Donald Trump be elected President of the United States?

Can Bernie Sanders?

Can abortion be outlawed?

Can the 2nd Amendment be repealed?

All of this is possible in the United States of America where the people control the governmental process through their votes.

The people are sovereign in our system.  They possess the supreme or ultimate power to do anything they want.

This seems to be lost on too many people who complain that they have no influence or power. It may seem that way when you are just one vote. However, those votes add up quickly.

Our constitution also insures that change can be made fairly rapidly.

The entire House of Representatives has to stand for a vote every two years. The President every four years and Senators every six years. If you think about it, within four years you can change the entire House, the President and two-thirds of the Senate. With those numbers you can do almost anything you want, including passing a Constitutional Amendment in Congress. You still would need three-fourths of the states to agree but they also do not have terms extending beyond four years.

Why do I bring this up?

I am currently reading the history of the Prohibition movement that resulted in the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which took effect on January 17, 1920.

It prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors or the importation or exportation into or from the United States for beverage purposes.

It is an amazing story to consider that alcoholic beverages could have been prohibited especially when considering how much these liquid libations were ingrained into the culture and how significant the alcohol, beer and saloon business was to the economy.

A few fun facts from "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" by Daniel Okrent that shows just how ingrained intoxicating beverages in the United States.

  • In 1830 American adults were drinking, per capita, seven gallons of pure alcohol per year. That is equal to abut 90 bottles a year for every adult in the nation!

  • In 1875, fully 1/3 of all federal revenues came from taxes on whiskey and beer.

  • The number of saloons in America increased from 100,000 in 1870 to 300,000 in 1900.

  • Beer consumption increased from 36 million gallons in 1850 to 855 million gallons in 1890. Population tripled over this time but beer consumption (driven principally by Irish and German immigrants) went up 24x.

How did it happen?

It started with a handful of women in Hillsboro, Ohio in December, 1873 who started praying, reading the Bible and singing in front of local saloons. This ultimately led to the formation of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1874 by a woman named Frances Willard.

The WCTU worked tirelessly at the state legislature and local school board level to require compulsory temperance education laws in schools. By 1901, compulsory temperance education was on the books in every state in the union. It then only took less than one more generation to get to their ultimate goal. Another lesson on how important it is to capture the minds of the young!

The establishment of the Anti-Saloon League in the 1890's (in Oberlin, Ohio) was the final key element in pushing the country to Prohibition. The ASL was the first strong special interest pressure group which had a singular purpose, was backed by over 30,000 churches across the country and was not afraid to use the voting power of its members to influence (and intimidate) the political class. (Do you think the political class wanted to give up the beer and liquor tax revenue?)

The Anti-Saloon League knew that by targeting the margins in every election, that with as little as 10% of the vote, they could control the outcome of many elections.  They took no prisoners. Politicians that did not vote their way soon were quaking in their boots.

For example, in Ohio by 1903, the ASL had targeted 70 sitting legislators of both parties and defeated every one of them as well as the popular Governor of Ohio who had persuaded some legislators to weaken a piece of legislation that the ASL wanted.

You can only be sure of one thing with a politician---they love their job. And you can't do that job if you lose your seat. The people spoke and the politicians listened.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Prohibition lasted until December 5, 1933 when it was repealed with the adoption of the 21st Amendment.

There is no better example of the power of the people.

They took away alcohol and they brought it back.

I don't want anyone to ever tell me that they can't do anything or something can't be done to change our government.

The people have the power.

They just need leadership and the will to use that power.

History teaches us that when we look at Prohibition.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Anchors Around Our Necks

Anchor babies are getting a lot of attention thanks to Donald Trump.

There were an estimated 350,000-400,00 children born in the United States last year to mothers who are illegal immigrants. As a result of the prevailing interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution each of these children are considered to be United States citizens.

To put that in perspective, that is about 1 out of every 10 births in this country!

Can you imagine anyone who voted for the 14th Amendment in 1866 at the federal or state level thinking that we would be conferring citizenship to this many as a result of this provision?

Birthright citizenship is extremely rare in most countries. In fact, Canada and the United States are the only countries with advanced economies that recognize it.

It is estimated that there are now at least 4 million minor children of illegal immigrants who are U.S. citizens. At least another 1 million children were brought into the country with their parents illegally.

It is a legitimate question to ask whether this policy (law? constitutional provision?) makes any sense today.

The Compounding Costs of Birthright Citiizenship

The costs of this policy are enormous.

Consider just the cost of K-12 education for these children and the burden this is placing on school budgets across the country. With average costs nationally approaching $13,000 per pupil, the illegal immigrant students are adding over $6.5 billion to school costs nationally.

Each anchor baby is also eligible for welfare which is guaranteed to U.S. citizens. As a result, their entire families benefit from our welfare dollars with food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and welfare cash assistance.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 71% of illegal immigrant Hispanic families with children were receiving some form of welfare assistance in 2009. That number was 57% when including all immigrant households. By comparison, only 39% of households headed by native born citizens were receiving any welfare assistance.

It is without question that the birthright citizen policy has proven to be an enormous incentive magnet for illegal immigration. It is a natural human desire to want to provide a better life for your children than what you had growing up. The people who come to the United States are coming to better their own lives but they are also clearly motivated for a better future for their children.

The decision to come to the United States is made even easier when you know that the American taxpayer is going to provide you with the money to help pay for the support of your children.

The longer term effects of this policy are even more insidious.

Due to the fact that you have minor children who are U.S. citizens living in households with parents who are illegal immigrants, those who want to enforce the immigration laws against illegals are called "heartless" because they want to "break up these families".  As a result, each birth further undermines any attempts to fix the problem. We just keep digging ourselves into a deeper and deeper hole.

These U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are also eligible to sponsor the immigration of family members once they come of age. At 18, an “anchor baby” can sponsor an overseas spouse and unmarried children of his own. At full majority age at 21, he can sponsor parents and siblings.

The bottom line is that the anchor baby policy sets in motion compounding effects that create multitudes of adverse impacts that further undermine our laws and any hope for a reasonable and rational immigration policy going forward.

As I have pointed out before, it is not that the United States is not already the most welcoming nation for legal immigrants on the entire planet.

  • Although the United States has less than 5% of the world's population, 20% of all international migrants reside in the United States.

  • 45 million immigrants currently live in the United States. This is 4 times as many who live in any other country in the world.

  • Approximately 1 million immigrants are granted legal permanent residency status in the United States per year. 10.7 million were granted permanent status over the last 10 ten years.

What is most troubling to American voters is the fact that all of this should have been preventable if we had simply enforced current immigration law over the last 30 years.

What Does The 14th Amendment Say?

That brings us to the 14th Amendment. What does it actually say?

Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 1:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." (emphasis added)

That seems fairly clear except for the words I underlined above..."and subject to the jurisdiction thereof."

Is a child born in the United States to parents who are illegal immigrants "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" when those parents are unlawfully present in our country?

This is the crux of the argument that is made by those (Donald Trump included) that believe that the 14th Amendment does not automatically confer birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. At a minimum, they believe that Congress has the right to define what "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" means.  It has already been accepted that this means that children born to foreign diplomats do not gain U.S. birthright citizenship nor do members of certain Indian tribes.

I would further argue that the very actions of the federal government in not enforcing the immigration laws means that illegal immigrants that are here have effectively not been "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States" by the consistent failure of our government to enforce the country's jurisdictional borders.  How can an illegal immigrant be considered to be subject to the jurisdiction of our country if they are here illegally but our government is doing nothing about it?

Trump and Polling

I found it interesting that in the most recent polling data I could find on the issue of birthright citizenship (Rasmussen, April 20, 2015), 54% of the respondents agreed that children of illegal aliens born in the United States should not "automatically become a citizen of the United States" compared to 38% who believed they should.

You can say what you want about Donald Trump but his polling numbers are where they are because he is striking a chord with a large segment of the American electorate. Look no further than those polling numbers on birthright citizenship and this was before Trump elevated the issue in public discussion.

Trump understands that anchor babies are an anchor around our necks if we are to have any chance to fix the immigration system.

We likely cannot (and should not) do anything about the past but we surely should not continue to compound the problem going forward be it by judicial challenge, legislation or constitutional amendment to remove birthright citizenship. I would advise moving forward on all three fronts to cover all the bases.

It is time to remove this anchor from around our necks.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Conventional Wisdom or Conformism?

‘Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.’
                                                                                                        -Albert Einstein

When Dick Fosbury was a sophomore in high school he could not clear 5 feet which was the minimum qualifying jump height for many high school meets.

Fosbury high jumped like everyone else did in his sophomore year using the so-called ''straddle method" where he approached the bar and thrust one leg up and over the bar and ended up with his body straddling over the bar as he attempted to get his trailing leg over as well.

The Straddle Method

By the end of his junior year in high school Fosbury jumped 6'3" to break the school record at his high school. A year later he was runner-up in the Oregon state track and field meet.

How did he improve so rapidly?  He ignored the conventional wisdom and found a better way to clear the bar. His new high jump method became known as the "Fosbury Flop."

This is how Fosbury describes it.

I take off on my right, or outside, foot rather than my left foot. Then I turn my back to the bar, arch my back over the bar and then kick my legs out to clear the bar.” 

The Fosbury Flop

Five years after Fosbury started experimenting with his new method he won the Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

By the next Olympics, 28 of the 40 competitors were using the Fosbury Flop. Today you don't find anyone doing anything else.

You can see the effect that the Fosbury Flop had on the world high jump record.

Fosbury's idea and his independence changed the world of high jumping.


Pete Gogolak was another individual thinker who came up with a better way to placekick a football.
Gogolak was the first college football kicker to kick the football soccer style rather than the straight ahead style that had been in use for decades. Rather than use the toe to kick the ball, Gogolak kicked the ball with the instep of his foot similar to the way he had learned to kick a soccer ball in his native Hungary.

Pete Gogolak kicking at Cornell University
Credit: Cornell University Athletic Communications

The rest is history. Gogolak (as well as his younger brother Charlie) went on to the NFL and changed the way the ball was kicked forever. There are no longer any kickers who toe the ball like Lou "The Toe" Groza did.

I thought of all of this today as I watched Bryson DeChambeau win the U.S.Amateur Golf Championship.


DeChambeau is another individual who has freely labored on his own to find something that works better for him. Bryson plays with irons that are all the same length (37.5"). His wedges are the same length as his 4 iron.

Bryson DeChambeau's irons

Whether uniform length irons will transform golf is yet to be determined but it certainly seems to be working for DeChambeau. Today he became only the 5th player in history to win both the NCAA Individual Championship (Bryson played for SMU) and the U.S.Amateur in the same year.

By the way, the other players that have accomplished that feat have gone on to pretty good careers playing golf.

Jack Nicklaus. Phil Mickelson. TigerWoods. Ryan Moore.

Where would we be if everyone always just conformed to the conventional wisdom?  History shows that we would be way behind where we are today but for the few who see things differently, and most importantly, are not afraid to pursue their ideas despite the inevitable ridicule and reprimands that come with taking a different path.

I started with an Einstein quote and I will end with one as well.

'There are few enough people with sufficient independence to see the weaknesses and follies of their contemporaries and remain themselves untouched by them.'
                                                                                                        -Albert Einstein

Thankfully there are a few who are both independent enough and can remain untouched by those who tell them they have it wrong when they know they are right.

Thank you, Dick Fosbury, Pete Gogolak.......and Bryson DeChambeau...... for showing us the power of your ideas, your independence, your inner strength and the inspiration you provide to all of us that conventional is not always wisdom. At times it is nothing more than conventional conformism.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Have All The Good USA Tennis Players Gone?

Can you name the top-ranked men's tennis player in the world that is from the United States?

I could not until today when I attended the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Suffice it to say that the United States is not producing tennis players like it did when I was younger and we had players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe.

In fact, there has not been an American male ranked #1 in the world since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Consider the number of weeks that Americans were #1 in the ATP rankings over the last forty years and you can see how far the USA has fallen.

Pete Sampras- 286 weeks

Jimmy Conners- 268 weeks

John McEnroe- 170 weeks

Andre Agassi- 101 weeks

Jim Courier-  58 weeks

Where does the best USA male tennis player rank today?  #12.

He is also the only USA male ranked in the top 25.

What has happened to the tennis talent in America?  Did it all of a sudden disappear?

That is undoubtedly not the case.

There is just as much raw talent and talent as there has ever been.

Quite simply, there clearly are not as many kids playing tennis.

And those that are playing are not putting the hours of practice in that kids did in the past.

The rest of the world has also caught up. When I was growing up tennis was dominated by the Americans and the Australians. It is much more of a worldwide game now.

In fact, the top 20 male tennis players in the world come from 14 different countries.

American Serena Williams remains the top ranked female player. However, there is only one other American woman in the Top 20 (Madison Keys #19).

Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) from my courtside seat today
#12 ranked female player in the world

Here is a chart showing the percentage of adolescents who play various sports in the USA.


Football, basketball and baseball have always been the top 3 in male sports but soccer seems to have taken a big chunk out of potential tennis players compared to what we might have seen in the past.

What is the answer to get Americans back on top in tennis?

More kids playing tennis.

And a few of those kids willing to put the thousands of hours of practice in order to be the best.

Or as Todd Martin an American tennis pro and instructor who was at one time ranked #4 in the world told Forbes magazine a couple of years ago about the decline of American tennis.

It’s a skills-intensive game that rewards individuals willing to hit thousands of balls a day. Few kids out there are willing to do that for the decade or so it takes to become elite.

Or as Chris Evert told The Wall Street Journal recently in a nice feature on her upbringing looking back from her 60th year.

The reason I did so well so quickly is that I practiced for hours each day—at night under the lights after school and in the mornings and evenings on weekends. In Florida you could play outdoors year-round, which gave me an edge over those who played only five months of the year.

Talent is vastly overrated. In any endeavor.

If you see a change in the perceived talent level like we are seeing in tennis today in the United States there is an explanation. It can almost always be traced to several missing ingredients.

Passion. Practice. Perspiration. Perseverance.

Give me those four and you will find success almost anywhere you go.

Toil trumps talent. Hard work beats heredity.

Do you want to know the name of the top ranked USA male tennis player?

John Isner.

Credit: Naparazzi via Wikipedia Commons

By the way, Isner is 6'10'' tall.

He chose tennis over basketball?

Smart decision.

It would have probably been even harder to be the 12th best basketball player in the world.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hillary Is No Patriot

What is a patriot?

The definition according to is,

"a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion."

In my mind a patriot also puts the interests of their country over their own self interests.

For example, our Founding Fathers put their personal wealth, their reputations and their very lives on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin uttered one of his most famous quotes upon that signing when he told his fellow patriots,

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Or consider all of the men and women who have put on the uniform of the United States to defend and protect their country. They are surely putting the interest of their country over their own self interest.

You can say the same about people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Susan B. Anthony who were pilloried and arrested as they sought equal rights for blacks and women. They put themselves at personal risk for the bigger purpose of making our county better.

That brings us to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This is Ms. Clinton speaking to the National Defense University Foundation after she was awarded their American Patriot Award in 2013.

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America via

Can she be called a patriot by any sense of the word considering what we know now?

It would seem to be an impossibility if you look at her current problems.

Let's consider the facts.

As Secretary of State she chose to ignore the governmental email system and establish her email on  a private server completely outside of the control of the federal government.

Why did she do this?

It certainly was not because of any interest or concern about her country.

She appears to have done it solely to avoid any requirement to disclose the contents of her emails under the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act and to shield herself from any personal embarrassment or risk to her future political career. It was done to circumvent the laws of her country plain and simple. There is no other rational explanation for what she did.

What is Hillary's explanation for using the personal server?  Her personal convenience. She did not want the hassle of dealing with two email systems. She did not want to be personally inconvenienced. Does that sound like a patriot?

In doing so she appears to have allowed top secret and highly classified material to be placed on her personal email server thereby putting all of our country's citizens at potential risk. As a result, her actions placed her country and its citizens at greater risk solely to protect her own self interest. Does that sound like a patriot?

We are already hearing the parsing of words and tortured explanations that the Clintons are famous for as the email investigation begins to gain momentum. Of course, all of this could have been avoided if Hillary had merely used the governmental system or turned over all of her emails to begin with.

Consider the chronology of some of her statements about the emails.

"I did not email any classified material on my email" (my emphasis)
-March 10, 2015 -
Notice she says that she did not email any classified material but she does not state that she did not receive any.
"I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. " (my emphasis) 
-July 25, 2015  -
Notice that she then hedges on whether it was classified at the time she sent or received it.

Her campaign now is saying the following.
"She never knowingly sent or received classified information and that none of it was marked classified at the time."  (my emphasis)
- August 11,2015- 
She now says she never did anything knowingly.  I guess it all depends on what the meaning of the word "knowingly" is, right Bill?

Of course, remember that all of Hillary's current problems are being caused because she did not want to be personally inconvenienced.

Does that sound like a patriot?

I noticed one other interesting fact when reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding Hillary's emails that does not add up.

She claims to have turned over all of her work-related emails to the State Department for the period 2009-2013---30,490 in total.  However, she did not turn over 31,830 emails that were deemed "private and personal."

The "private and personal" emails were supposedly limited to matters such as "yoga routines," "family vacations," and "planning Chelsea's wedding." according to Hillary.

Does this seem as strange to you as it does to me?

My personal email volume is a fraction of what my business email volume is.

How is it that when Hillary Clinton was serving as our Secretary of State that she was receiving and sending more personal emails about vacations, yoga routines and weddings than business emails in the course of a normal day?

Who was she working for? What was her first priority?  Her country or herself?

It sounds like her Secretary of State duties was a part-time job if she had that volume of personal emails to send and answer every day.

Does that sound like a patriot?

Does that sound like someone who should be President of the United States?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Clinging To Their Guns

President Barack Obama is a gun control advocate but since he has been in office the number of new guns entering circulation in the United States annually has doubled---from about 7.5 million to almost 16 million per year.

This is one of several remarkable statistics contained in a recent article in The Economist.

All of this has been very,very good for the stock prices of the two largest publicly owned gun manufacturers in the United States.

Has all of this led to more deaths by guns?

No. Homicide deaths by firearms are almost 60% lower per capita than they were 20 years ago. There has been an uptick in deaths by firearms since Obama took office but it has primarily been related to suicides.

You might be surprised to learn that suicides each year account for almost twice as many deaths by firearms than homicides.

In exact numbers, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, there are 11,294 homicides by guns but 19,992 suicides.

Support for gun control is much weaker today than it was 50 years ago. According to The Economist, 60% of Americans wanted to ban handguns in 1959.  A recent Gallup poll found that support for a ban on handguns was only 26% today.

This view seems to be driven by those who believe that having a gun in the home makes a home safer. Only 35% of Americans held that belief in 2000. 63% hold that opinion today. and Gallup

However, despite this view, only about 30% of households actually own a gun. That is down from 50% in the mid-1970's.  All of this leads to the conclusion that all of the new guns are primarily going into the hands of those that already own them rather than an increasing number of armed citizens.

I guess in looking at these statistics you could say that President Obama was right about one thing when he said during the 2008 campaign when referring to small town voters across the Midwest that "...they cling to guns or religion..."

Obama has certainly not been able to do anything about gun control but he has been responsible for a lot more clinging to their guns than we have seen in a long, long time.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Late, Not So Great Democrats

I thought one of the best lines from last week's GOP Presidential Debates was by Marco Rubio.

Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.

We continually hear about Democrats as being progressive, diverse, young and "in-touch" with the voters.

Let's look at their Presidential candidates. I will concede they are "progressive". Bernie Sanders is so progressive that he actually calls himself a Socialist. He was not even elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. He ran as an Independent. I guess even Socialists can't get elected in Vermont when that party label is on the ballot next to their name.

However, how young is the group of announced Democrat contenders for President?

This is the age of each candidate ( including the unannounced Joe Biden) as of Election Day, 2016.

Hillary Clinton         Age 69
Bernie Sanders         Age 75
Martin O'Malley      Age 53
Lincoln Chafee        Age 63
Jim Webb                Age  70
Joe Biden                Age 73

Average Age             67.2

If you exclude O'Malley the average age is 70.

Compare that to the GOP contenders.

Jeb Bush                  Age 63
Marco Rubio           Age 45
Ted Cruz                 Age 45
Scott Walker           Age 48
Bobby Jindal           Age 45
John Kasich            Age 64
Rick Santorum        Age 58
Lindsey Graham     Age 61
Carly Fiorina          Age 62
Donald Trump        Age 70
Ben Carson             Age 64
George Pataki         Age 71
Jim Gilmore            Age 67
Mike Huckabee       Age 61
Rand Paul                Age 53
Rick Perry               Age 66
Chris Christie          Age 54

Average Age              58.6

What about diversity?

The Democrat candidates are comprised of 5 white males and 1 white female.

The Republicans have 2 candidates with Hispanic backgrounds (Cruz and Rubio), an African American (Carson), an Indian American (Jindal) as well as a white female (Fiorina).

How about the diversity of educational, professional and occupational backgrounds?

Four of the six Democrats are lawyers (Clinton, O'Malley, Webb and Biden). It is hard to discern from any biographical information what Bernie Sanders did to make a living before he entered politics. Filmmaker and free lance journalist?

Chafree was a farrier (he shoed horses) before entering politics. Of course, that seems to have merely been a diversion until he could succeed his father as U.S. Senator from Rhode Island.

There are a number of attorneys in the GOP field as well (Cruz, Rubio, Santorum, Christie, Graham, Pataki, Gilmore) but there is a much broader range of experience among the candidates.

Business majors and CEO's --(Trump (Wharton), Fiorina (Maryland)

Doctors--Carson (Neurosurgeon), Paul (Eye Surgeon).


Rhodes Scholar- Jindal

College Drop-Out-Walker

Air Force Pilot and Cotton Farmer- Perry

Son of a Mailman- Kasich

Son and Brother of a President of the United States- Bush

Old, White and Out of Touch?

It is not the GOP in 2016.

It is the late, not so great Democrats.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Impressions on the First Debate

The 17 candidates had the opportunity to make a first impression on voters last night and here are my first impressions of them.

The Winners-The Main Event

It was difficult to pick a clear winner in the main debate (as contrasted to Carly Fiorina in the early debate) but I thought Marco Rubio stood out for his presence and his articulate answers. I also thought that Jeb Bush definitely suffers when he is on the same stage with his protege. I continue to believe that Rubio is the best candidate the Republicans can put on the ballot this year.

Mike Huckabee proved again why he rose to the top eight years ago. He had several of the best lines of the evening and surely helped his cause.

Ben Carson started slowly but finished strong. I thought he had a golden opportunity when the first question asked of him was whether he had the knowledge and command of the issues to be a viable candidate. I thought he should have said "that fixing our country's problems is not brain surgery. Sure. there are things I am still learning. However. if I can learn and excel at brain surgery I can certainly do this." A missed opportunity but he covered that with his strong closing.

Ted Cruz also had a good night and, based on last night, he could have positioned himself to be the most attractive option for those in the GOP who have found Donald Trump appealing.

The Loser-The Main Event

Donald Trump was the only loser. His bluster and bite seemed completely out of place on that stage. He simply was not ready for prime time last night.

The Also Rans-The Main Event

I thought all of the candidates other than Trump did a good job last night. Rubio was correct when he stated that the GOP has a deep group to select from while the Democrats are struggling to find one. Jeb Bush did not hurt himself but he also did not stand out. John Kasich definitely helped himself. Christie got the better of Rand Paul and might have moved himself up. Rand Paul has a warmth problem. He needs to smile more.

The Winners-JV Debate

In the first debate of the evening (also known as the JV debate or Happy Hour debate) I thought Carly Fiorina was the clear winner. She exhibited strong command and was concise and in control with her answers. Carly has run the best campaign to this point and she carried through with a great debate performance. She should move up in the polls and into the Main Event for the next debate.

Carly's challenge going forward is that she does not seem to radiate the necessary warmth that is necessary in a political candidate. She needs to smile more. Successful candidates have to be able to be competent and strong but also connect with voters. She needs to work on this if she is going to have staying power.

I thought Bobby Jindal was the best of the rest. He was strong in his delivery and did it in a warmer manner than Carly. Jindal helped himself last night.

Rick Santorum rose to the top in the last Presidential race through his debate performances and he carried that into last night's debate. His experience from four years ago definitely helped him. There was nothing that stood out in the debate last night from Santorum but I thought he was solid.

 The Losers-JV Debate

There was only one big loser in the first debate last night-Lindsay Graham. He came across as interested in only one thing-the fight against ISIS. However, he calls it ISIL. From my perspective, anyone who calls these guys ISIL has lost my vote before they even begin. See my blog post, Why ISIL, Not ISIS to see why.

Also Rans- JV Debate

Nothing else of note from the other candidates other than to ask why George Pataki and Jim Gilmore are even in the race? They have both been out of the political arena for over a decade.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

10 Observations About Hillary and Bill's 1040

I spent the early part of my career as a tax attorney and CPA and prepared and reviewed hundreds of individual income tax returns each year.

There is a lot that you can discern about a person's financial life by their tax return. It really is a window into the life they led during that year. What they received in income and where it came from. What types of investments they had. Their mortgage debt. Their charitable giving.

Hillary Clinton released her tax returns (and Bill's as they filed jointly) for the years 2007-2014 last Friday afternoon. Of course, it was on a Friday because that is when you release information in Washington when you don't want to get much attention from the mainstream media.

Remember in June, 2014 when Hillary was on her book tour and made this astounding remark when asked about her own financial standing as a member of the .001% on relating to the common people ?

"We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work," 

Of course, this is after she had earlier stated that Bill and she...

"came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt,"  had "no money"  and "struggled to piece together the resources" for mortgages and her daughter Chelsea's college education.

Here are 10 observations that I thought were interesting when reviewing Hillary and Bill's 2014 return. I also glanced at a couple of other years as well but did not have the stamina to give them the same review as I did the 2014 return.

1. Bill and Hillary reported $28 million of Business Income for the year. Keep in mind that this is a net number after subtracting business expenses. Here are the gross income numbers for Hillary and the business activities in which she earned the money.

  • Author           $5.6 million
  • Speaking     $10.5 million
She deducted about $2.7 million as expenses against this income. She spent and deducted more than $1.1 million just for travel expenses!

2. Bill's Gross Business Income breaks down like this.
  • Speaking      $9.7 million
  • Consulting   $6.4 million
  • Author            *****     ( a measly $36,442 is all)
Bill incurred $1.6 million as expenses against his income and only $375,000 of his travel.  Bill, that is downright embarrassing for someone that used to use that much in fuel on Air Force One in a week.

It is interesting to note in Bill's expenses he took a $945 deduction for the business use of his home. This is a hot button issue with the IRS and you have to ask why would you even bother with this if you were Bill and Hillary Clinton? I understand the office use really relates to a portion of the barn on the Chappaqua property but taking this small deduction makes no sense to me.

3.  Pension and annuity income of $223,639 is reported on the return. This is from Bill's service as President of the United States ($201,700 is the legislated amount in 2014) and the remainder ($21,939) is from the State of Arkansas for his service as Governor.

4. Interest income of $25,171 was reported. All interest was from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A. with the exception of $464 for interest on tax refunds.

Considering the low level of interest on bank deposits the Clintons must have a substantial amount on deposit with Chase. For example, the current interest rate on savings at Chase is .01%. To earn $25,000 there would have to be $25 million on deposit at Chase. The rate on a 10 year CD at Chase for over $250,000 is currently 1.05%. It would take about $2.4 million on deposit to generate $25,000 of interest income with CD's. Their cash balance at Chase is somewhere in between I would imagine.

5. Interestingly, for a couple who has about $28 million in adjusted gross income the Clintons have not reported any dividend income at all. Do they not own any stocks? Do they own equities but none pay dividends? Where is their money outside of Chase interest bearing accounts? You might argue that they are concerned with possible conflicts of interest but owning publicly traded stocks would seem to have fewer conflicts than the organizations to who paid them the enormous speaking fees they have taken. (See #10 below).

6. One possible answer is real estate. Bill and Hillary deducted $104,303 in real estate taxes for the year.

If you haven't seen it, you might want to check out this video produced by where a number of Millennials were asked to guess which Presidential candidate had lived in various houses. To say the least, these young voters were shocked when they found that all of the houses pictured in the video were (or had been leased) by the Clintons.

7. The Clintons also did not report any current capital gains or losses for the year. They did deduct $3,000 (the maximum annual limit) from a $702,540 capital loss carryforward. during 2014. This loss carryforward seems to relate to a long-term capital loss of $726,761 that was taken in 2008 on the disposition of an investment in Yucaipa Partnerships. It appears it was a complete loss on the original investment.

Looking further into this it appears that the Clintons walked away from Yucaipa when Hillary was running for President in 2008 for fear that the relationship with founder Ronald Burkle could prove embarrassing for potential conflicts of interest with some of the investments in the partnership funds that the Clintons were involved with.

However, all in all it appears the Clintons did ok while they were in Yucaipa.

This is what Wikipedia says about Yucaipa and Bill Clinton.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a close friend of founder Ron Burkle, was an advisor to Yucaipa. From 2003 to 2006, Bill and Hillary Clintons' tax returns show total Yucaipa partnership income of $12.5 million. According to the 2007 summary provided by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, the Clintons earned $2.75 million from the Yucaipa partnership.

8. The Clinton's 2014 tax return shows $3,022,700 in charitable contributions. $3 million was to The Clinton Family Foundation. $20,000 to the First United Methodist Church (no indication where this is), $2,500 to St. Stephen's Armenian Apostolic Church ( on Google I found two churches by this name- Watertown, MA and New Britain, CT) and $200 to the Hot Springs High School Class of 1964.

These were the only contributions to any churches in the 2007-2014 period as reported in the Clinton tax returns. Did they just rediscover religion in 2014?

Interestingly, I could not find any indication in the IRS Exempt Organization data base that the Hot Springs High School Class of 1964 is a a qualified 501(c)(3) organization that would allow for tax deductibility. My guess is that this donation was for activities surrounding Bill Clinton's 50th high school reunion. These types of activities would normally not qualify for 501(c)(3) status unless the funds were going for an educational purpose such as a scholarship fund. Again, I find it strange that on a return with $28 million of AGI you are worried about a $200 deduction

9. Hillary deducted $3,816 as business expenses for "technical support". Is this related to IT support for the server for her own email system?  She also deducted the massive sum of $78 for "Security System Fees" in the return.

 Yikes! Did she think this would be sufficient to keep the Chinese from hacking her email?

10. Although the details of her $10.5 million in speaking engagement income is not in the 2014 Form 1040, Hillary released a schedule of her speaking engagements for 2013 when she reported $9.7 million in speaking fees.

Her going rate for the year appears to have been $225,000. However, she was able to get more for some engagements. For example, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was charged $400,000. Is that because they are wealthier? Beaumont Health System in Troy, MI paid her $305,000 (we all know health care  has plenty of money) and Golden Tree Asset Management in NYC paid her $275,000 ( I get that as well, they have golden trees).

Hillary had a couple of incredible weeks on the speaking circuit in 2013. If only we all could bring in this type of money over a week or so.

For example, consider June 16-24, 2013. $1,435,000 in 9 days.

Society for Human Resource Management Chicago, IL $285,000 6/16/2013
Economic Club of Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, MI $225,000 6/17/2013
Boston Consulting Group, Inc. Boston, MA $225,000 6/20/2013
Let's Talk Entertainment, Inc. Toronto, Canada $250,000 6/20/2013
American Jewish University Universal City, CA $225,000 6/24/2013
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Company, LP Palos Verdes, CA $225,000 6/24/2013

Or October 23-29, 2013. $1,525,000 in 7 days!

SAP Global Marketing, Inc. New York, NY $225,000 10/23/2013
Accenture New York, NY $225,000 10/24/2013
The Goldman Sachs Group New York, NY $225,000 10/24/2013
Beth El Synagogue Minneapolis, MN $225,000 10/27/2013
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Chicago, IL $400,000 10/28/2013
The Goldman Sachs Group Tuscon, AZ $225,000 10/29/2013

It is all quite amazing.

Less we forget, a number of former Presidents almost died penniless including Jefferson, Grant, William Henry Harrison and Garfield. Harry Truman was heading that way until Congress passed a law (in 1958) establishing the first Presidential pension.

How times have changed.

Do we really want to give the Clintons two Presidential pensions?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not Sweating Climate Science

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
                                                                     -Upton Sinclair

I am not a scientist. I am certainly not paid to understand or not understand anything with regard to climate science.

That sets me apart from almost all of the climate scientists on the planet.

I also consider myself a practical thinker who makes decision by looking at facts. I have also learned that it is always important to look beyond the "facts".  How are the facts packaged and what is the motivation of the messenger. Most of the time motivation is a direct result of the money involved.

In fiscal 2103 the U.S. government spent $22.5 billion on climate change based on this report in PowerLine.  Since 1993 the federal government has spent $193 billion!

If there is that much money in play for academics, researchers and climatologists into proving global warming, how much effort is going into looking at data that might be contradictory to that conclusion?

Even worse, how strong is the motivation for some of those individuals (who depend on that government money for their salaries) to manipulate the data to support global warming.

Over the years, I have listened to the claims about human created global warming. Without even spending a lot of time on the science, these claims never seemed to make sense to me.  The planet is known to have warmed and cooled over the years.  Even if the data shows it is warming, how do we know it is caused by man when you look at past history?  We know there was an ice age.  We also know the ice melted.  How did it ice up? How did the ice melt?

I often look at Steven Goodard's blog, Real Science, to get some interesting perspectives on climate science that you are not going to see in the mainstream media.

For example, did you realize that the frequency of hot days (those with temps exceeding 90F degrees) in the Midwest is less than half of what they were 100 years ago?

Here is a chart from Real Science showing the percent of hot days for all U.S. Historical Climatology Network (HCN) stations in the Midwest.

Source: Real Science

Does that look like warming to you?

So how does the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keep coming up with reports that the planet is warming?

For example, compare the HCN data as shown in this chart by Goddard where the NOAA comes to a completely different conclusion after it makes "adjustments" to the data.

Source: Real Science

Goddard argues that this is due to the fact that "almost half of all U.S. temperature data is now fake." Missing data from former rural reporting stations that no longer exist have been replaced with urban data. It is hardly comparing apples to apples. Consider the temperature in an urban environment filled with asphalt and skyscrapers to a meadow by a babbling brook down on the farm. Which is going to be warmer?

The extent to which the temperature data has been "adjusted" is rather astounding. Note especially the adjustments made to the data in the last 10 years.

Source: Real Science

Again, I am not a climatologist or meterologist. However, it looks to me like all of this is a long way from settled science.

When you consider history you also quickly realize that God dwarfs anything that man can do. For example, the year 1816 was considered "The Year Without a Summer" after Mount Tambora erupted and the ash seemed to veil the sky across large swaths of earth.  Crops failed around the world and famine followed.  Riots and political unrest were not far behind.  People tend to get really angry when they are hungry. How much did the average global temperature fall that year? - only about 1 degree!

That story has always made me much more concerned about global cooling than warming. A rise in temperatures is actually beneficial for food production. It can extend the growing season further north. Cooler temperatures do the exact opposite.  Given a choice there is little doubt where I come down.

That's why I am not sweating all of this climate science even if it is getting warmer.

I like to eat and there are a lot of people to feed on this earth.

Give me warm rather than cool any day.

And no one paid me a cent to come to that conclusion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sweet Sixteenth and Breaking Your Heart

Ohio Governor John Kasich became the 16th major GOP Presidential contender today.

Credit: Michael Vadon via WikiCommons

I have a lot of respect for the job Kasich did as the House Budget Committee Chairman in the 1990's when he actually put together and delivered the last balanced budget at the federal level.

When I first became involved in politics in the early 1980's he was held in awe by most of the politicos I came in contact with in the Ohio Statehouse for his hard work and ambition.

Kasich won his first political race at age 26 by campaigning door-to-door for an Ohio State Senate seat after serving as an aide in the same body for three years after graduating from Ohio State University. He became the youngest State Senator in Ohio history at the time.

He then took on an incumbent Democratic Congressman in 1982 and beat him to be elected to the U.S. House in 1982 at age 30.  He served nine terms before retiring in 2000 after briefly flirting with a run for the Presidency in 2000.

He spent the decade of the 2000's with a show on Fox News and a stint with Lehman Brothers. He returned to politics in 2010 by winning the governorship in Ohio and was reelected in 2014.

There is a lot to like about John Kasich but there is also one big negative. He is a politician through and through. He will do some nice things but he will also break your own heart when his interests conflict with yours.

I saw this with Kasich's decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio.

A recent AP story profiled the problems for a number of states, including Ohio. that expanded Medicare. Ohio is mentioned in the story as having seen its projected costs more than double under the expansion compared to forecasts.

More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, raising concerns that the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.
Some lawmakers warn the price of expanding the health care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

The right decision for Ohio was to not get taken in with Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. The Medicaid program was already draining Ohio's budget. It has destroyed state funding to education and made almost every other government program (except for state employee pensions) a footnote in the state budget.

For example, between 1970 and 2014 health care spending in Ohio (most of which is Medicaid related) increased 67 fold. That is 10 times the rate of inflation!

In 1970 spending on health care in the Ohio was 15% of the total state budget and spending on education and transportation and public safety and services was 60%.

Spending on health care today takes up 34% of the Ohio budget. Education, transportation, public safety and services do not even make up a quarter of the state budget.

You can read all of the sorry details of Ohio's descent into Medicaid hell in my blog post, The Redistribution of Ohio.

Medicaid is literally eating away at the fabric of key functions that we have traditionally valued and looked to our states to provide---good higher education, support for local schools, safe and efficient roadways, public safety, prisons and parks.

Why did Kasich unilaterally push the Medicaid expansion through against the wishes of the Republican dominated legislature?

He has a politician's heart. It is hard to change when your entire adult life beginning at age 22 has revolved around politics.

He needed to get reelected as Governor in order to make the announcement he made today. To do that he needed money and he also needed to defuse a possible challenge that he was not compassionate.

After all, the Medicaid expansion was "free" (at least until 2016 when Kasich wouldn't have to worry about it). He could demonstrate he was a reasonable man and not some heartless neanderthal conservative. He could also curry a lot of favor with the health lobby who wanted the expansion for their own self interests.

The big money interests involved with hospitals, health services, health insurance companies and nursing homes wanted those Medicaid dollars. And they are big campaign donors. Kasich certainly did not want to be on the wrong side of those groups heading into his reelection bid.

Who is getting the expanded Medicaid coverage?

Matt Vespa of Hot Air provides some answers.

  • Despite always hearing about "the children", 82% of those who have gained Medicaid coverage are childless. 
  • 45% are able-bodied but do not work.
  • 35% have a criminal record that includes jail or prison time.

Has it helped the hospitals? 

It has not according to a recent analysis by Moody's that was recently reported in The Wall Street Journal. There are fewer unpaid bills but many more patients on Medicaid using services. Since Medicaid's reimbursement rates are only about 50% of the costs of hospital care every added "paying" patient is subtracting rather than adding to the bottom of line.

Hospitals in the mostly blue states that expanded Medicaid were largely expected to benefit from fewer unpaid bills and more paying customers, but that hasn’t generally translated into better operating margins or cash flow, Moody’s found.
In expansion states, hospitals’ unpaid bills fell 13% on average last year compared with 2013, the report found. But, their 2014 operating margins didn’t increase any more than hospitals in the 22 states that have sat out the expansion, the report shows.

John Kasich is sleeping well tonight. How about you?

This is the reality of politics. I don't like it but it is what it is when we elect politicians to political office. And no matter who or what they were before, when they enter the political ring they change with it. It is the nature of the beast.

I like John Kasich. He has many great qualities and he might make a great President.

He may be the Sweet Sixteenth into the race. However, he is still a politician. His Obamacare expansion decision in Ohio showed that.

It is certain he will break your heart when it serves his interests. That is the way it is with any politician.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Will Trump Be A Trumpet Call To The GOP?

Donald Trump is the GOP candidate that is getting the most PR and voter interest right now.

Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows Trump was the favorite with GOP registered or Republican-leaning voters with 24% support.

Scott Walker was second with 13% and Jeb Bush was right behind with 12% support.  Put another way, Trump has as much support as Walker and Bush combined!

The next seven candidates ranging from 8% to 3% support are Huckabee, Rubio, Carson, Paul, Cruz, Perry and Christie. This is important as only the top 10 in the polls will be allowed to participate in the first GOP Presidential Debate on August 6.

The GOP candidates that don't make the top 10 are Jindal, Kasich, Pataki, Santorum, Fiorina and Graham. None of this group polls better than 2% right now. And if they can't get exposure in the debates it is hard to see how they can get any traction in the race. As I have written before, this is unfortunate and should not be the way the race is run.

The GOP should be making the process more inclusionary and less exclusionary, simplifying the process for voters, and adding some competitive excitement to the race. They should not be trying to limit competition because of the large field and TV rules. There is a way it can be done as I have suggested.

Donald Trump's rise in the polls shows two things. The power of name ID and the power of straight talk. Carly Fiorina, George Pataki or Bobby Jindal would have to spend tens of millions in advertising to come close to matching Trump's celebrity.  However, I believe that it is Trump's straight talk that has been most responsible for his rise in the polls.

There is a substantial part of the electorate that are fed up with Washington, politics as usual, and political correctness. They are tired of our borders being overrun with illegal immigration while nothing is done by either the Republicans or Democrats. They are tired of the United States being the world's policeman and getting spit in the face. They are tired of seeing every trade agreement resulting in job losses for Americans. They are tired of seeing Islamic extremism being called workplace violence or the acts of lost souls. They are tired of lousy laws and terrible treaties being sold as "good as we can get."

What will be most interesting to me is whether the message survives even if the messenger does not.

And there is no question in my mind that the messenger in this case will not be delivering an Inaugural Address on January 20, 2017.

If you doubt that consider this polling question that was asked of all voters in the ABC/Post Poll.

62% of all voters today state they would definitely not vote for Trump. That is a big hole to climb out of and does not bode well for his electability. And when all is said and done, electability is still the most important factor for GOP voters in selecting their nominee.

I will make one other bold prediction. If I am wrong and Trump does win the Presidency, John McCain will not be his Secretary of Defense. You can't say I don't go out on a limb with my forecasts!

Interestingly, in a Bush-Clinton race 44% would definitely not vote for Bush and 43% would definitely not vote for Clinton. That is why, despite whatever merits Jeb Bush has as a person or candidate, he is a poor pick to run against Clinton. Hillary is carrying a lot of baggage into the race. Why would I pick someone with an equivalent amount of baggage when I have 15 other candidates that can be marketed with a relatively clean slate with most voters?

However, despite Trump's negatives if his straight talk continues to gain traction with GOP voters he will impact the race. And it could be pretty significant as we get into the debates and more intense campaigning and media attention drives the candidates to differentiate themselves from the pack.

Politicians are first and foremost very good listeners. They have no future without votes. They will bend with the political winds if Trump's straight talk continues to appeal to voters. The message that they carry may not be as bold or brash as Trump but a trumpet call nevertheless will be going out to the other candidates if Trump's appeal is sustained.

Another insight into voters right now is the response to this question in the poll where 23% of voters indicate that neither party represents their own personal values! Compare that to other periods when that question has been asked. This is another reason that Trump is polling well.

Keep an eye on Trump and his trumpet. And keep an eye out for the rest of orchestra. If the trumpet continues to strike a chord with the voters, you are going to hear a lot of similar notes even if they are not played with the same verve and vigor. Those notes mean votes. And votes are everything in this concert.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How a Coney Island Sideshow Saved 6,500 Lives

My granddaughter was born seven weeks premature with a serious birth defect 20 months ago.

She was in the NICU for 73 days and without excellent neonatal care she would not have survived. Thankfully, today she is developing well and is a joy to everyone she touches.

Most premature infants over the years have not been so fortunate. They simply did not survive.

The invention of the incubator in the late 19th century gave hope for these premature babies for the first time. It provided a controlled environment that kept the baby warm as well as protecting them from infection, noise and light.

However, it took almost a half-century before doctors and hospitals accepted this "radical" technology after it was invented because it was considered against "maternal nature".

The doctor who had a hand in developing and promoting the incubator was Dr. Martin Couney. Faced with resistance from the medical establishment he took his incubators on the road and set up demonstrations at Exhibitions to show their value. He did this first at the Berlin Exhibition of 1896 in his native Germany.

Circa 1909 Incubator
Credit: University of Washington, via Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons and The Blaze)

Quite the showman in addition to the doctor, he cared for six premature infants during the Exhibition that were loaned from a local hospital because they believed they would not survive. He saved each baby as crowds filed in to see the tiny babies and marveled at them in their incubators (and paid to do it).

Buoyed by his success in Germany, Couney moved to the United States and followed the same strategy at different Exhibitions in this country before he established a permanent venue at Coney Island in New York in 1903.


He maintained what today would be considered a Neonatal Special Care Unit at Coney Island right next to sword swallowers, bearded women and other side show acts. He funded his work by charging 25 cents admission to see the babies who were enticed into the exhibit by a carnival barker.

The outside of the building was no different than the other sideshows surrounding it. The sign above the door read “Life Begins With The Baby Incubator.”
The inside was essentially a hospital. The atmosphere was quiet and clinical, incubators lined the walls, and trained nurses were employed to care for the babies. One of the nurses was Couney’s daughter, who ironically enough was born premature and spent some time in the incubator herself. 
The wet nurses employed to feed the babies were ordered on diets, and were fired if caught eating a hot dog or some other fried fare from the boardwalk. Tour guides were fired if they made jokes during the presentation. The rules and regulations for infant care were strictly enforced, and professionalism was emphasized. It was important to distinguish themselves at least a little from the pandemonium surrounding them.

In those 40 years Couney saved the lives of 6,500 babies that were given little hope at regular hospitals. His survival rate was over 80% which was unheard of in the early 20th Century for such high risk babies. And he never charged the parents or the government a dime. All of his work was fully funded by paid admissions for his "exhibit".

One was Lucille Horn who recently recounted her story on Horn was born in 1920 and is now 94 years old thanks to the start Dr. Couney gave her.

"My father said I was so tiny, he could hold me in his hand," she tells her own daughter, Barbara, on a visit with StoryCorps in Long Island, N.Y. "I think I was only about 2 pounds, and I couldn't live on my own. I was too weak to survive."
She'd been born a twin, but her twin died at birth. And the hospital didn't show much hope for her, either: The staff said they didn't have a place for her; they told her father that there wasn't a chance in hell that she'd live.
"They didn't have any help for me at all," Horn says. "It was just: You die because you didn't belong in the world."
But her father refused to accept that for a final answer. He grabbed a blanket to wrap her in, hailed a taxicab and took her to Coney Island — and to Dr. Couney's infant exhibit.
"How do you feel knowing that people paid to see you?" her daughter asks.
"It's strange, but as long as they saw me and I was alive, it was all right," Horn says. "I think it was definitely more of a freak show. Something that they ordinarily did not see."
Horn's healing was on display for paying customers for quite a while. It was only after six months that she finally left the incubators.
It was not until after World War II that hospitals and doctors finally accepted the value of incubators in saving the lives of premature babies. Dr. Couney had been operating his "sideshow" clinic for 40 years and saved thousands of babies before incubators were accepted as standard medical treatment of premature babies.

Dr. Couney with Nurse (his daughter Hildegarde)  Circa 1935-1940
Credit: Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

What lessons can we take from Dr. Couney and his incubator?

First, conventional thinking is often wrong. In fact, it is not uncommon that some of the most rigid thinking is found in medical care. Many things that we accept today will undoubtedly be proven just as ill-advised as blood letting was in the 18th Century.

Second, never doubt the power of one person's passion, persistence and perseverance to change the world.

Dr. Couney had all three. And the world today is better off for it.