Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Who Will Pay For Sanctuary Cities Tomorrow?

Exactly one year ago I wrote, "No One is Liberal When It's Their Life" in describing the political aftermath in the wake of the horrific ISIS attacks in Paris. Liberal Socialist French President Francoise Hollande underwent an amazing transformation from chastising those who did not want to accept Muslim refugees to stating that "we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless" over the course of two short months.
It has been said that "there are no atheists in foxholes". When the bullets and bombs start flying in war those in the middle of it are looking for a higher power to see them through harm's way.
It seems to me that there also exists a corollary aphorism.
There are no liberals when it is your life and security at risk.
If you don't believe it, look no further than the actions of French President Francois Hollande in the aftermath of the horrific ISIS attacks in Paris several weeks ago.

A year later Hollande has no political future. The two leading candidates for President in left-leaning France are a centre-right conservative and a far right wing conservative.

Isn't it curious that when it is your life on the line that your perspective can change rather rapidly?

The same goes for when it is your money.

I am looking forward to seeing how many mayors and college presidents who have declared they have no intention of abandoning their sanctuary city (or college) status maintain that promise if they are at risk of losing federal funding.

As of July, 2015

This is how the New York Post described Mayor Bill deBlasio's position on sanctuary city status in light of the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

New York will remain a “sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants, Mayor de Blasio promised on Friday — even if Donald Trump makes good on his threats to yank federal funding in retaliation.
In fact, the city will reject federal aid that comes with objectionable “strings attached,” such as requiring local cops to turn over people they learn are here illegally, an action that, as a sanctuary city, New York won’t allow, he said.

How much federal funding does New York City receive?

$10.6 billion according to CNN Money.

I wonder how willing New York City taxpayers are going to be to chip in to plug that hole in the city's budget to protect illegal immigrants?

How about in Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made similar comments?

The City of Chicago will receive $1.3 billion in federal grants this year according to their budget document.

Or in San Francisco where Mayor Ed Lee recently said this.
“Being a sanctuary city for me is the DNA of San Francisco.” “We’ll always be a sanctuary city. We’re not going to change who we are."
San Francisco risks almost $1 billion in federal funding on the sanctuary city issue. I guess we will find out exactly how much it is really in their DNA to defy federal authorities and harbor illegal immigrants at that amount of money.

The most amusing defenders of sanctuary status are the colleges and university groups who are urging college administrators to defy federal government authority on the issue.

I would hope most college presidents and their boards are smarter than that. Most colleges and universities would have to shut the doors but for the federal funds that support these institutions. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the federal government now provides more funding to higher education than the states do. In the 25 years leading up to 2012, states provided 65% more funding to colleges and universities (principally state-sponsored institutions) than states did. In recent years, the feds have dramatically increased funding while state funding has been scaled back (principally due to Medicaid and other welfare costs) reversing history.

The federal government annually provides more than $100 billion in federal student loans, $30 billion in Pell grants and $2.5 billion in straight grants to higher education each year. Beyond this, the federal government also funds numerous research grants to these institutions ($25+ billion) and over $30 billion in federal veterans' benefits annually.

How many students, parents or alums of these institutions of higher learning would be willing to fund the revenue shortfall caused by the loss of federal funds to protect illegal immigrants?

I doubt we will find one.

Sanctuary cities is but one issue involving illegal immigration which explains why the liberal left is so terrified by a Trump presidency. Their worst fears have been confirmed with the selection of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General who is the U.S. Senate's strongest advocate against illegal immigration. That is why I expect that he will be the cabinet officer that takes the most heat in the confirmation process.

Quite simply, the law is on the side of Trump involving immigration law. He does not need to pass any new immigration or enforcement laws. He merely needs to start enforcing laws that have been on the books for decades but which recent Administrations' have chosen to ignore. This has been most particularly true of Obama who not only ignored the law in many cases but circumvented it by executive orders as well.

Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains the nightmare facing the Democrats.

There are extensive, and in some cases, strict immigration laws on the books, passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress. Obama wanted Congress to change those laws. Congress declined. So Obama stopped enforcing provisions of the law that he did not like. A new administration could simply resume enforcement of the law — a move that by itself would bring a huge change to immigration practices in the United States. No congressional approval needed.
There are laws providing for the deportation of people who entered the U.S. illegally. Laws providing for the deportation of people who entered the U.S. illegally and later committed crimes. Laws for enforcing immigration compliance at the worksite. Laws for immigrants who have illegally overstayed their visas for coming to the United States. Laws requiring local governments to comply with federal immigration law. And more.

The Democrats may see the tables turned on them completely on the issue of immigration with Trump in the White House and with minorities in both the House and Senate.
A Trump administration would not need to ask Congress to pass any new laws to deal with illegal immigration. If there was a presidential order involved in Obama's non-enforcement, Trump could undo it, and if there were Justice Department directives involved, Sessions could undo them, and if there are Department of Homeland Security directives involved, the still-to-be-nominated secretary could undo them.
Trump does not even need to pass a law to begin to "build the wall". "The Secure Fence Act" to build a 700 mile double-layer fence was already passed by the House and Senate and signed into law 10 years ago. All it needs is some Presidential will and some additional funding (from Mexico?).

Sanctuary cities?

We will see if they survive if the federal money is shut off.

Who will pay for sanctuary cities tomorrow? Will it be in their DNA?

In the meantime, it does not look like Washington, DC will provide much sanctuary for Democrats on the issue of immigration in the near term if Donald Trump stays true to his views on the campaign trail.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Castro, Cuba and Che

Fidel Castro passed away on Friday. It was Black Friday in the United States but millions of Cubans can only hope it is a Brighter Friday for their prospects for freedom.

Castro's death ended almost 60 years for him being on the world stage. He ruled Cuba over the course of 11 Presidents of the United States. To put that in context, that is equal to 25% of all the Presidents the United States has had in its history.

This is what our current President, Barack Obama said about Castro on his passing.

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. 

Obama's response was muted compared to liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada who remembered Castro this way.

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

Or United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon lauding Castro by stating "he was a strong voice for social justice...".

However, compare these statements above with what President-elect Trump said about Castro.

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,”
“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve,”  

What are some facts about Cuba?

Since Castro assumed power more than 1.5 million Cubans have left the island, many of those seeking refuge in the United States through a harrowing voyage across the Florida straits in flimsy boats and rafts. More than 1.2 million Cubans found their way to the United States most of which now reside in Florida.

To put that in perspective, Cuba's population today is just over 11 million. The loss of population from those who escaped Cuba and population control on the island has constrained population growth since Castro took power.

Credit: Zero Hedge

Population growth is now negative in Cuba. More are leaving and dying than are being born in the country.

Credit: https://www.quandl.com/collections/cuba/cuba-population-data

Of course, many who have died did so at the hands of Castro in order for him to maintain power and control over that population.

CubaArchive.org maintains a database of disappearances and fatalities of a political and military nature going back to the beginnings of the Cuban revolution continuing through the Castro ruling period. It numbers in the thousands upon thousands of people.

In addition, there have been political prisoners in the tens of thousands over the years, among them the father of Ted Cruz. In fact, Castro himself admitted in 1964 to holding 15,000 political prisoners.

Finally, despite the socialist ideal that was promised by Fidel Castro and his compatriot, Che Guevara, it has never never realized in Cuba after more than a half a century. In fact, Cuba was the 7th most prosperous Latin American/South American country in 1950 (before Castro) as measured by GDP per capita. Today, only two other countries are poorer---Haiti and Nicaragua.

It is indeed ironic that this t-shirt that retails for $21.99 at the Che Guevara store costs more than the $20 per month the average government worker earns in Cuba.

Credit: Amazon.com

For good measure, how about adding on the Che beret at $29.99 for another six weeks of pay?

Credit: https://www.amazon.com/Che-Guevara-Store-Original-Silver

Does anyone else also find it strange that liberals continue to state how they are afraid that their rights and freedoms will somehow be abridged by Donald Trump while pointing to Castro as paragon of human rights and social justice?

How does that make sense when you consider that Donald Trump will be the first President in United States history to not have ever taken one cent on any public sector payroll. However, he enters the White House as a multi-billionaire made entirely in the private sector.

When Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba he was a self-described "peasant." In fact, to the people of Cuba he claimed he made $43 per month and lived in a hut on the beach. However, he closed his life with a net worth that Forbes has estimated to be almost $1 billion. While most people in his country starved, he lived a life of luxury that included 20 luxurious residences throughout the island according to The New York Post.

Who is more aligned with the truth about Castro? Trump, Obama, Trudeau or Ban-Ki Moon?

Liberals somehow think it is cool to extol the counter-culture revolutionary ideals of Castro and Che Guevara. It is baffling and befuddling to me. Look no further than the facts about Cuba. Is this anything anyone would really want their country to aspire to when considering what has happened to Cuba over the last 60 years?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Much To Be Thankful For

There is much for me to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving. Our granddaughter who spent nearly three months in the NICU when she was born three years ago is now fully in good health. A new, healthy grandson born last week. A new President-elect with new promise for America.

I think this is a good time to republish what is one of my most popular blog posts since I began writing BeeLine almost six years ago. It is an especially timely reminder right now as we see people who protest in the streets without seeming to know anything about our nation's foundational principles or history.

They might want to read the story of the Pilgrims that is not highlighted in the history books and the lessons it teaches us this Thanksgiving some 400 years later. Perhaps these Americans might be more thankful for what they have rather than being so truculent for what they don't.

Pilgrims, Prosperity And Poverty
(originally posted November 28, 2013)

I am thankful for many things.  My family. My friends. My job. I could go on and on. The list is very long.

I am most thankful I was born in the United States of America.  A country founded on the concept of individual rights and freedom.  A country that has embraced the idea of economic freedom, property rights, and capitalism.

Of course, I was born at a different time than where we seem to be today in our attitudes about some of these ideals. Will our young people be as thankful as I am about their country of birth? I certainly hope so.  However, it amazes me how we fail to accept the reality of the failings and foibles of the human condition throughout history. As a result, the same mistakes and missteps plague us no matter how many times the history lesson is taught.

Look no further than Venezuela. What was once the one of the most prosperous South American countries now languishes under a socialist regime despite rich natural resources.  Communist North Korea can't feed its own people while South Korea is giving a tablet computer to every school child. Taiwan flourished in freedom while Red China floundered for decades before its leaders embraced capitalist-based economic reforms. The same was true for East and West Germany.  In all of these cases there was no difference in the people. They were literally blood brothers and sisters. It was the governmental system and philosophy that made the difference between prosperity and poverty for the people of these nations.

Speaking of history, let's revisit the story of the Pilgrims and the origins of Thanksgiving Day. The story as I learned it in school was about a group of rugged individuals who set sail on The Mayflower in 1620 seeking religious freedom in America. They encountered many hardships that first year but thanks to help from Indians and the Grace of God (I am sure this is no longer mentioned in the textbooks) they reaped a bountiful harvest in the following year and gave thanksgiving with a giant feast.

The First Thanksgiving At Plymouth, Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

The real story is much more enlightening.  It also shows that there is absolutely no question about which system works best to provide the most prosperity for the most people and limits poverty. There should be no debate. It has been shown to be true over and over again. in human history. However, over and over there are those who persist in thinking there is a better, more humane way to best provide for people in a society.

The real story of the Pilgrims was written by William Bradford who was the leader of the Plymouth Colony from 1621-1657.  He wrote "Of Plymouth Plantation" to chronicle the story of the Pilgrims and it is recognized today as the most complete authoritative source on the subject.

One of the best summaries I have seen about the Pilgrim story was written by Dr. Judd W. Patton, "The Pilgrim Story: Vital Insights And Lessons For Today".

Let's start at the beginning. When the Pilgrims decided to go to America they had a problem not uncommon to many of us. They did not have enough money. They lacked the funds to sail to America, equip and establish their colony. As a result, they got financial help from some investors who financed New World adventures in return for a share of what the colonists made through farming, fishing, trade and other working endeavors.

The contract between the Adventurers (Investors) and the Pilgrims consisted of ten points. The most critical of which stated, “That all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock and goods of the said colony.”
Today we would call this a socialist commune. In other words, the Pilgrims accepted the socialist principle, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Each person was to place his production into the common warehouse and receive back, through the Governor, only what he needed for himself or his family. The surplus after seven years was to be divided equally, along with the houses, lands, and chattels, “betwixt the Adventurers and Planters.”

The first year after they set sail for America was particularly difficult. The voyage itself took sixty-six days. They landed first on Cape Cod even though they had intended to reach the mouth of the Hudson River. They spent another month sailing the coast of Cape Cod until they finally decided to settle in Plymouth at the site of an old Indian village on December 21, 1620.

Within two months, half of their numbers died. Of the 24 families who had set sail, only four were untouched by death that first year.  Four other families were wiped out completely.  Those that made it to that first Thanksgiving were thankful.  However, it wasn't necessarily because of a bountiful harvest. They were just happy to have survived.

Contrary to legend, the harvests were extremely poor in 1621 and 1622. It was normal to be hungry. Governor Bradford referred to 1621 as the “the small harvest” year. Yet he notes that in “the summer there was no want.” Thankful for what God had given them, Governor Bradford declared a three-day feast for the purpose of prayer and celebration. We all know it as the first New England Thanksgiving – apparently observed in late summer.

Things were marginally better in 1622. The harvest was a little better but many Pilgrims held back and did not work as hard as others. There was stealing and hoarding. Bradford and the other Pilgrim leaders recognized that this would continue unless they changed the system.  What could they do to prevent another poor harvest?

This is how Governor Bradford tells it in "Of Plymouth Plantation".

“So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land…This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise…The women now went willingly into the field, and took the little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”

The socialist system was discarded and replaced with a system that was built on individual property rights and that put the trust in individual initiative to take care of the common good of the colony.

How did that work out?
In 1621, the Pilgrims planted only 26 acres. Sixty acres were planted in 1622. But in 1623, spurred on by individual enterprise, 184 acres were planted! Somehow those who alleged weakness and inability became healthy and strong. It’s amazing what incentive will do to improve bad attitudes!
However, the Pilgrims still had their challenges. The summer of 1623 was hot and dry. For almost two months there was no rain. Their crops were in jeopardy. Governor Bradford did not lose faith.

Governor Bradford then set a “solemn day of humiliation (fasting) to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress.” Their prayers were answered. By evening it began to rain. It revived the corn and other fruits. Even the Indians were astonished. The soft showers continued along with beautiful fair weather. The result was a “fruitful and liberal harvest …for which mercy they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”

By the fall of 1624, the colonists were able to export a full boat load of corn! And the Pilgrims settled with the Adventurers. They purchased the Adventurers stock in the colony and completed the transition to private property and free markets.

The rest is history. The experience of the Pilgrims went a long way to forming the values and principles upon which our Founding Fathers created a new nation unlike anything the world had ever seen before. It came to be the most prosperous and powerful country ever known to mankind. For that I am forever thankful to the Pilgrims and the others who endured trials and tribulations to give me the life I have today.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving it is useful to remember the Pilgrims and what their experience can teach us.  I think Dr. Patton summarizes the lessons pretty well.

The Pilgrim experience dating from 1623 was and is yet a prototype for the United States of America. They learned the hard way that: (1) Socialism does not work; it diminishes individual initiative and enterprise; (2) Socialism is not a Godly economic system; and (3) Famine and drought can be used by God to humble a people and set them on a proper course. The Pilgrims responded. The real question today is: Can Americans learn these vital insights from the Pilgrims or must we too face famine and drought in the coming years?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Control of the Mainstream Middle

Elections are won by votes. Single votes are cast by voters but elections are won by the candidates by stacking vote upon vote upon vote on one another.

Donald Trump won the Presidency because he stacked those votes where they counted the most. He ended up winning 31 out of the 50 states. Looking deeper, he won the popular vote in 3,084 out of 3,143 counties or county equivalents.

This is exactly the reason our Founders created the Electoral College system of selecting our President. To do otherwise, would put too much influence and power in a few cities, counties and states.

After all, there is a reason the name of our country is The United States of America.

Let's look a little closer at how the votes stacked up between Trump and Clinton in various key demographic groups. If you look at the stacked column charts below you will get a better understanding of where the votes came from for the two candidates.

You should also understand that Donald Trump won because he rolled up most of his votes within the mainstream majority in almost every category where most of the votes were. He got more votes than either Romney or McCain did while Hillary's tally is currently about 4 million less than Obama got in 2012 and 7 million less than Obama got in 2008. Despite the fact that he lost the overall popular vote, he gathered the votes where he needed to get them and Clinton did not.

You can also see from these charts how the potential is there for President Donald Trump and the Republicans to consolidate a voting block that could render the Democrats irrelevant for a generation.

The Democrats right now are living on the fringes of the electorate. They have lost the mainstream majority--on race, on age and on income.

At the same time, the potential is there for the Democrats to turn the tables and re-establish themselves if the Republicans squander their opportunity like Obama and the Democrats did over the last eight years. All data from the 2016 General Election exit polls and vote totals through 11/20/16.

The first chart shows that almost half of Clinton's support came from minority votes. On the other hand, 86% of Trump's votes came from white voters who made up 70% of the electorate in 2016. In total, Trump captured 58% of the white vote. Clinton and the Democrats relied very heavily on the minority vote. She captured large margins with these identity voters but they only make up 30% of the electorate.

The second chart shows votes by age. 51% of Trump's vote totals were from those age 50 and older vote which make up 45% of the electorate. 71% of his votes came from those age 40 and older that make up 64% of voters. Again, Clinton and the Democrats were very reliant on rolling up huge margins with the smaller base of younger voters.

Finally, Trump also carried middle income voters who make up the majority of voters. 58% of his support came from those making between $50,000 and $200,000. This made the difference for him as Hillary carried large margins of lower income voters and they both split the relatively small number of higher income voters (10% of total voters).

In each case, Trump won the mainstream middle majority voters. Hillary won big majorities with the minorities, the young and the poor but there are not enough votes in these groups even if you carry them by large numbers. Trump won because he had an attractive message for the mainstream middle America groups that have the most clout at the ballot box.

Strauss and Howe in their book "The Fourth Turning" argue that the crisis period we are living in will ultimately bring about less divided government. One party will become dominant. That party will become attractive to a significant majority of voters as we are forced to pull together to confront our nation's problems.

The era where people valued pluralism and free markets is coming to an end. Over the past 40 years, the Democrats have hitched their election prospects to the idea of a pluralistic society in which ethnicity, race and culture created an individual identity that government protected at the expense of all else---especially the American identity. At the same time, the Republicans have been the party of free markets and government staying out of the way, favoring hands-off rather than hands-on on most issues. At this point, neither the Democrats or Republicans have the prescription for what American voters are looking for.

However, Donald Trump has moved Republicans closer to bridging the gap for a future that will not be as hospitable to "we-first lobbies" and "me-first free agents". These are the terms that Strauss and Howe use to describe the principal attitudes that have controlled the conversation and the votes in Washington over the last four decades They predict it will be replaced with a government that will be focused more on the American identity than individual identity and one that asserts more public authority in doing so.

Whether the Republicans can close the sale with the American voters remains to be seen. However, they are in a position they have not been in for close to 100 years. How they perform over the next several years will tell the tale.

In the meantime, if I was a Democrat right now, I would be very, very concerned. It is much easier to gain on the edges than it is to retake the middle. If Trump and the GOP can retain the middle mainstream ground they hold currently, while also making in-roads on the edges with the identity groups that is now the Democrat party, they could achieve status similar to what Republicans did after the Civil War and Democrats after the Great Depression.

I am sure it is unthinkable for Democrats to consider the possibility that someone like Donald Trump could put them on the fringe of relevancy. It is probably almost as unthinkable to them that he could win the Presidency. However, they only have to look at the charts above to see how close they are to irrelevancy by failing to put a message together for all those voters who occupy the vast middle in America.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Charts for Context

I often say that context is everything when assessing anything.

Here are a few charts to add some context to the election results of last week.

The first shows a comparison of how much Donald Trump spent to win compared to how much Hillary Clinton spent to lose. It seems to prove the point that when more of your money is on the line you treat it a little bit more carefully. May the same money mindset prevail in The White House when it is our money that is being spent.

Credit: CNBC

We are also hearing a lot of protestors arguing that Trump's victory is illegitimate because Clinton is leading in the popular vote count. Of course, that is irrelevant under the Constitution, but what does that mean to these people anyway? By the way, neither candidate captured 50% of the vote. More than a majority voted for someone else. Does that make both illegitimate? Here is one other way to look at the popular vote count. (using current vote totals as of 11/18/16)

Hillary Clinton currently leads Donald Trump by about 800,000 votes nationwide. However, she carried one county by itself---Los Angeles---by a margin of almost 1.2 million votes. That means Donald Trump actually won the popular vote for the remainder of the country by almost 800,000 votes.

Clinton's overall margin in California was almost 3.6 million votes. Her margin in New York was another 1.5 million votes. It gives you some perspective on how powerful "flyover" country was in this election. Trump had to overcome all those votes and he still essentially tied her in the popular vote.

Here is another interesting example of "flyover" country in Pennsylvania. It compares the vote margins in Philadelphia and Allegheny (Pittsburgh) counties relative to the rest of the state.

To put Pennsylvania's numbers in further perspective, Romney beat Obama by 273,000 votes in "the rest of Pennsylvania". Trump improved on Romney's margin by over 350,000 votes in "flyover" Pennsylvania to win the state by 66,000 votes.

You might also remember that when Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination it was popular for the "Never Trump" crowd to argue that he would be a disaster for the GOP, in particular as it related to down ticket races. Control of the U.S. Senate was the most obvious example used to explain their concern. We know now that proved to be totally wrong. However, I found the chart below by the Center of Politics to be particularly interesting with respect to the Senate races.

This chart show the percentage of states where voters in a state voted for both the President and the Senate seat of the same party. In other words, a straight ticket was voted for both offices rather than splitting the vote between a President and Senate candidate of different parties.

In 2016, there was not one state of the 33 in which a Senate seat was up for grabs that the voters did not vote the same party in both races. This is the first time this has occurred since the direct election of Senators was established in 1913 by the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Pretty amazing.

Credit: CenterforPolitics.org

Finally, President Obama has been speaking recently that the election results in no way were a rejection or repudiation of his policies or his Presidency.

That is an interesting perspective to have in light of the devastating losses that Democrats have sustained from the courthouse to the state house to the White House since Obama became President.

The actual number of Democrat losses per the Center for Politics since Obama became President.

The Republicans have not held this much power via elected offices since 1920.

And what are many Democrats suggesting the answer is to reversing their fortunes with voters?

To nominate as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee a far left, liberal who was the first Muslim elected to Congress and who has longstanding ties to the Nation Islam and has been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood of America.

Looking at the charts above, what part of what you see would indicate to you that Keith Ellison would do a better job for the Democrats than Barack Obama could do?

Have at it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Myth of the Establishment Elite

If there is anything that has been learned by the election results this year it is that the establishment elite does not know any more than anybody else.

Their position, their platform and their pomposity may make them believe that they have some special powers to divine truth, justice, or even what the American way should be. However, the truth is that they put their pants and pantsuits on just like you or me.

We heard from politicians from both parties, political pundits, so-called journalists, pollsters and celebrities for almost two years that it wasn't possible for Donald Trump to be elected President. You even heard it from me at the beginning of his quest. I praised the message but questioned the messenger and his methods. I saw the error of my ways as the Primary season ended. The results were hard to argue with.

This is an entertaining video retrospective of some of those who laughed at the prospects of a Trump presidency. Who is laughing now? It is worth the three minutes...for a laugh...or two...or three.

Click here if you cannot open the video in your browser.

If you did not know it before, you should know it now. The Establishment Elite is a myth.

Two other examples of why it is a myth are found in two gentlemen who I follow on Twitter. Neither would be considered to be part of any definition of the Establishment Elite. However, both have proven just how big the myth of the establishment elite is These guys have proven wiser and more resourceful than anyone that I can think of. And both of them did it without even leaving their home.

@phillyrich1 (Rich Weinstein)

Most people in the United States had never heard of Professor Jonathan Gruber, the self-professed architect of Obamacare, until Rich Weinstein became upset when he lost the health plan he liked and found that the replacement plan cost twice as much. Weinstein was a "nobody" investment advisor living in Philadelphia who decided to do his own research on the "architects" of the law.

He found a treasure trove of material on statements that Gruber made in conferences about how some aspects of the law were purposely manipulated and cited "the stupidity of the American voter" as a key element in getting the law passed.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.”

Was this story broken by anybody from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or the major networks---the so-called media elite? No. It was Rich Weinstein who described himself this way to Bloomberg Politics back in 2014.

“I’m an investment adviser,” Weinstein tells me from his home near Philadelphia. “I’m a nobody. I’m the guy who lives in his mom’s basement wearing a tinfoil hat.” (He's joking about the mom and the tinfoil.)

Make no mistake, The Affordable Care Act is a terrible piece of legislation. It has failed and fallen due to its own inadequacies. However, were it not for Rich Weinstein we would not have the full measure of the back room contortions, concealments and conniving that led to its passage.

Thank you, Rich.

The myth of the establishment elite.

@mitchellvii (Bill Mitchell)

The arc of Bill Mitchell's story is not much different.  Mitchell has his own executive recruiting firm that he runs out of his home in Charlotte, NC.

Mitchell decided very early that he was on the Trump Train and he never looked back. I became aware of Bill early in the primary season as I came across his optimistic and unrelenting tweets about the power of the Trump candidacy. I was skeptical at first but I came to see that Mitchell was not often wrong. This was despite taking increasing incoming barrages from political pollsters and pundits that trolled him continually that he did not know what he was talking about.

All the while, Mitchell never wavered and never waffled. Witness this tweet from September.

Charley Warzel of BuzzFeed.com did a profile of Mitchell three weeks before election day that catalogues what many of the naysayers were saying about him. Frank Luntz was one of those that seemed to take particular pleasure in telling Bill he did not know anything about statistics or polling.

Of course, that is that same Frank Luntz who also tweeted this out early on Election Night.

To his credit, Luntz ate a little humble pie the day after the election. However, I don't believe that Michael Moore had exactly figured this out the same way that Bill Mitchell did.

Donald Trump may have won without Bill Mitchell's tweetstorm of support. However, he was an indispensable  and consistent beacon of hope to those Trump supporters who were deluged with biased reporting and unbalanced polls throughout the campaign.

Thank you, Bill.

The myth of the establishment elite.

God bless people like Rich Weinstein and Bill Mitchell.

They make me proud to be an American.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Seismic Shifts

This is an interesting chart in USA Today that I came across that shows the net change in vote margin for President across the United States between 2012 and 2016. The darker the red, the bigger the shift to Trump from Obama. The darker the blue, the more votes moved from Romney to Clinton.

This piqued my curiosity to compare the actual changes in vote margins in various states to better understand what is happening on the ground in a number or states. What type of seismic shifts were going that the headlines might have missed?

In this election we heard a lot about the big battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Iowa that paved the way for the Trump victory. However, bigger shifts were in play in other states that we did not hear much about. What happened there may have ramifications in the future even though it may not have meant much in the electoral college vote in 2016.

First, let's look at the key states that swung to Trump in 2016 from Obama in 2012 and how the vote margin shifted. All vote data is from www.uselectionsatlas.org.

You can see from the chart that even though Florida and North Carolina rightfully received a lot of attention on election night for shifting to Trump, the bigger voter swings were in the Midwest.

However, removed from the headlines of that night were other states that saw meaningful voter margin shifts to Trump. These shifts did not matter in the electoral college math this year but they may become meaningful in the future.

Every one of these states, except South Dakota and New York, has a Democrat senator (or an independent that caucuses with the Democrats) up for re-election in 2018. Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, Claire McCaskill from Missouri and Joe Donnelly from Indiana would appear to be particularly vulnerable as all these states were won by Trump by no less than 19 points. In fact, it would not surprise me if Joe Manchin switches to the Republican Party in the near future because there does not appear to be any future for a Democrat in West Virginia right now.

There also were states where voter swings away from the GOP occurred. These largely appear to be driven by changes in Hispanic demographics. The outlier here was Utah who never liked Trump like they loved Romney, but still delivered the state to the GOP by a 19 point margin.

Texas, California and Arizona show the Hispanic effect. Georgia, Virginia and Washington also saw shifts to Clinton compared to Obama but all of these shifts to the Democrats were much more modest swings than went the other way.

On the subject of the Hispanic vote, I also found this chart in USA Today interesting showing fewer Hispanics supported Hillary than Obama. The converse of that is that Trump got more support from Hispanics than either McCain or Romney. Notice that USA Today did not title this chart, "More Hispanics supported Trump". Media bias can be very subtle in furthering an agenda.

Thus, despite all of the noise that Trump's position on immigration was going to mean disaster for the GOP, the fact was that his support was not much different than it has been for Republican candidates for the last 25 years.

It seems that there are a lot of legal Hispanic immigrants who value the rule of law and the security of their adopted nation just as much as anyone else. Why should that be a surprise to anyone?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Did Trump Win?

How did Trump win?

That is the question that seems to be on the mind of almost every pundit, politician and pollster right now. They almost all got it wrong.

Readers of BeeLine know that I regularly predicted that Trump had a good chance of winning the Presidency.

I wrote in May that I believed that Trump had a 50/50 chance of defeating Hillary. This was when almost everyone (including most elected Republicans) were saying he would have no chance. In fact, they were saying he would destroy the party and all its down ticket races.

I also warned that I thought that this race was particularly dangerous for pollsters to predict for any number of reasons.

How many voters will decide to just sit it out rather than make a choice?

Will the election be decided more by votes for or votes against a candidate?

Will the 18-29 age group turnout to vote and who will they support?

In June, I framed the electorate as wanting to revolt against a rigged system (little did I know how right I was on that) with the major question being whether voters would view the agent of change (Trump) as too risky to do it.

The voters seem willing to revolt. The primaries point to it. However, voters are only willing to risk so much. If he wants to win, Donald Trump needs to be seen as reasonable and rational while also being seen as revolutionary. It will not be an easy task.
If he can do it, he will win.

In August, Trump's poll numbers were sinking as he veered off message and seemed to have a tempest swirling around him everyday. Every pundit and many politicians in his own party were distancing themselves from him but I doubled down on Donald Trump's chances.

The current environment is providing Donald Trump something akin to a customer walking up to one of the poker tables in his casinos and drawing an inside straight.
The world is a mess. A vast majority of people in our country say we are heading in the wrong direction. People are tired of the status quo and the Democrats are running the Queen of the Status Quo.
It doesn't get much better than that for Donald Trump.
In fact, I dare say that the only one that can beat Donald Trump...is Donald Trump.

How did Trump win?

A big reason is obvious. He started listening to me! Actually, more likely, he took the advice of his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and his children and stayed on message and tamed the tempest around him in the last several weeks of the campaign. In doing so, he became a reasonable choice for the many voters who were looking for change.

Another big reason is that the voters who turned out at the polls favored Trump. I had made a big point of this as being critical for Trump if he was going to win. That is why I wrote this two weeks before election day.

I don't know who is going to win this election. I am not sure the pollsters do at this point either.
What I do know is that it will be determined by how many vote (turnout), who those voters are (young, old, black, white) and events that still may play out and play on the minds of voters (volatility) between now and election day.

Let's look at the exit poll data and examine some of the more interesting insights on the makeup of the voters who made Trump the President-elect of the United States.

62% of voters believed that things in the country are seriously off on the wrong track. By comparison, only 52% believed that in 2012. Trump beat Clinton 69%-25% with that group of people. A big reason he won was that he convinced voters he was a reasonable agent of change.

You also see that in the exit poll data as 39% of voters cited "can bring needed change" as the most important candidate quality they were looking for. Trump won that group 83%-14%!

Trump showed he was a change agent from the beginning of the primaries. His challenge in the general election was to show voters that he was not a risky bet in the process. 60% of voters had made up their minds before September on who they would vote for and Hillary won those voters 52%-45%.

For Trump to win he had to convince the remaining 40% that he was a reasonable choice to effect change and that is exactly what he did in the end.

In fact, of those voters who made up their minds after Labor Day, Trump won every cohort.

Notice that Trump was particularly strong in October (the month of the debates) and in the last week (after Comey reopened the FBI investigation) in closing the sale with voters but Trump still won those who made their decision in the last few days after Comey reversed himself again. In 2012, Obama also won all of the groups who decided in October or later. In addition, 26% did not finally decide on their candidate until October or later this year. Only 20% made up their minds that late in 2012. 

It is also interesting that in an election where both candidates had high unfavorables, that Trump dominated with those voters that had an unfavorable opinion of both candidates.

18% of voters stated that they did not have a favorable opinion of either candidate. Trump carried those voters 49%-29%.

In the end, what really did in Hillary Clinton was her lack of honesty and trustworthiness. This was an issue that has dogged her for years and that is a big reason her private email was such a problem in this campaign. That comes through clearly in the exit polling.

Asked whether her use of private email bothered them while she was Secretary of State, almost 2/3 of voters said it bothered them a lot or some and she lost this group 70%-24%. 

Looking at this data, it is clear that the Democrat establishment made a huge error in rallying around Hillary and "rigging" the primary process for her. It ultimately cost their party the White House and also did damage to Democrats in down ticket races.

Finally, let's look at the key turnout data. I stated consistently during the campaign that Hillary would need to get big turnouts of African-American and young voters to win. She would also need to garner numbers similar to what Obama did from these groups in 2012.

The overall mix of voters was 70% white, 12% black, 11% latino, 4% Asian and 3% other. This compares to 72% white, 13% black, 10% latino, 3% Asian and 2% other in 2012. The net result was that both white and black percentages were down while Hispanics and other ethic groups were bigger groups within the total electorate.

All in, the African-American vote was down by over 1 million voters from 2012. As I predicted, Clinton was not able to energize these voters as Barack Obama did. At the same time, Trump got 8% of the black vote---a third more than what Romney got.

The age demographic of the voters did not hurt Hillary as much. Young voters showed up. 19% of voters were ages 18-29 in both 2016 and 2012. However, they did not support Clinton like they supported Obama. Obama took 67% of this group in 2008 and 60% in 2012. Hillary only got 55% of their vote this year. That represented another 1 million votes of more that Hillary lost compared to Obama in 2012.

At the same time, voters 50 and older actually increased from 44% to 45% of the electorate and Trump won similar winning margins with this group as Romney did (6-7 points).

Another interesting comparison in the data is the fact that Trump beat Clinton by 21 points with white voters overall. Romney beat Obama by 20 points. Is it racist that white voters actually preferred Obama to Clinton?

Perhaps it was sexism at work instead? However, white women overall supported Trump 53%-43% despite his alleged issues with women.

The only demographic that Trump failed to carry among white voters were female college graduates He lost those women by 6 points. However, white women without college degrees supported Trump by an incredible 62%-34%. He did even better with white men with similar education attainment----72%-23%!

These working-class men and women, who historically were considered the backbone of the Democratic party, were a major reason that Donald Trump won. Many had abandoned the Democrats beginning in the 1980's. Trump took it to another level. Trump won high school graduates and those with some college by around 10 points. Obama won the same group in 2012 by 2 points. Bear in mind, those without a college degree represents half of the voters in the country.

One example is right here in my home state of Ohio. Montgomery County in which Dayton is the major city and a home to hundreds of thousands of working class voters. Trump beat Clinton 48%-47%. Obama beat Romney 51%-47% and McCain 52%-46%. Repeat that in hundreds of counties across the country and you get the final result for Trump with working class voters.

I also found this exit poll question interesting in that it undoubtedly shows that Donald Trump picked up a fair number of Bernie Sanders and other disaffected liberals who did not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. They are represented by the 17% of the electorate that believes that the next President should be more liberal than Barack Obama. However, 23% of these liberals voted for Donald Trump! Let's put that in context. That is around 5 million votes!

Why were the pollsters wrong? Clearly there was more than one factor but the biggest reason seems to be their assumption about the makeup of those voting. Most pollsters kept overweighting their samples assuming that self-identified Democrats would make up voters by margins of from +6 to +8. In these pages I consistently argued that this did seem realistic considering this election did not feel like the D+6 or D+7 makeups of the 2012 and 2008 races with Obama on the ticket.

The final result---D+4.

Which polls were the closest to getting it right? The LA Times and IBD polls that I kept referencing in my blog posts.

Not everyone got it wrong.

I will cite my favorite Mark Twain quote once again for good measure.

“What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.”

It is worthwhile advice for every pundit, politician and pollster to remember. And protestor.

Protestors in my era who were against the Vietnam War chanted "Give Peace A Chance."

Perhaps they should "Give Trump A Chance."

Could it be that what they think they know for sure just ain't so?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shock and Awe

Donald Trump has shocked the political and media establishment and has left liberal Democrats in utter shock and disbelief.

I know where they are coming from. I was in a similar place four years ago.

This tweet from Michele sums up a lot of what some of those on the left are feeling today.  I must say it is not dissimilar to how I felt exactly four years ago.

I felt similarly about getting out of bed every morning, going to work, paying my taxes, obeying the laws, respecting my country and being a man of Christian faith when half the country did not seem to care or respect my rights, our laws, our constitution or my contributions to my country and the public welfare.

Did the left care about me? Not in the slightest. They did not give me a second thought. I will not be that way. I understand and empathize with what they are going through. I hope that this experience will give them a little more perspective and respect for my views.

I am not a racist because I do not like Barack Obama's policies.

I am not sexist because I think Hillary Clinton was corrupt.

I am not xenophobic because I believe that a nation must have borders and its leaders should obey and enforce the rule of law.

I am not homophobic because I believe in the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman or that men and women should use the proper rest room.

I am not Islamaphobic because I believe that we should have a very careful and stringent vetting test on any immigration from known terrorist countries which might undermine our national security.

I am not an obstructionist because I believe that the Constitution means something. If you don't like something, pass a law or amend the Constitution, don't use executive orders and the judicial system to subvert the rule of law.

If we learned anything last night it is that the people of the United States have the ultimate sovereign power on what kind of country they want to have. Every member of the House of Representatives must stand for re-election every two years. The President stands for election every four years and can serve no more than two terms. Terms for each Senator are only six years. The people have the power to literally turn the country on its head if they want.

We have seen the effects of that over the last eight years. The people have turned it on its head.

When Barack Obama passed Obamacare in his first term he had a 60-40 majority in the Senate and 258-177 majority in the House. Donald Trump will take office with what looks to be a 52-48 GOP majority in the Senate and somewhere close to a 240-195 majority in the House.

This is the legacy of Barack Obama. He has taken overwhelming majorities in the Senate and House and provided the Republicans meaningful majorities in both houses of Congress and the Presidency for the first time since 1928!  This did not happen because voters were happy with the policies of Barack Obama.

It also did not happen because Republicans or others who voted these people into office are racists as some of the liberals on the left want you to believe.

For example, in South Carolina last night, Donald Trump won South Carolina with a 14.1% voting margin. Tim Scott, the African-American Senator from South Carolina won his race with a 23.5% victory margin. Where is the racism when you look at the numbers? The black candidate outpolled the white guy in a deep Southern state.

So much for the shock.

What about the awe?

Awe is the only word I can use to describe what Donald Trump has accomplished.

He took on the Republican establishment when he first got into the primaries. He then took on the Democrats. Finally, he withstood the media elite who conspired against him and he ultimately completely confounded them.

He had very few of any consequence on his side. In the end, the only thing he had on his side were the people, And in America, that is all that you need.

It is the most amazing accomplishment that I have seen in six decades of closely watching politics.

And it was not luck that propelled Trump to victory.

As Paul Ryan said today, "Donald Trump heard a voice out in this country that no one else heard. He connected with—he connected in ways with people no one else did. He turned politics on its head.”

Trump also did it through old-fashioned hard work. I don't believe I have ever seen a national candidate work harder on the campaign trail. His schedule down the stretch was herculean. If nothing else he showed he has the energy and enthusiasm to work for the American people.

In the process he has reshaped the Republican party. Make no mistake, it is his party now. It also positions the Republicans to become the party that has the potential "to end the long partisan tug-of-war, ending the era of split government that had lasted through four decades" and be the majority party for a generation according to the predictions of Howe and Strauss in "The Fourth Turning."

I don't know if the Republicans can do it. However, I do know that Obama and the Democrats were positioned to do it with their majorities eight years ago and squandered the opportunity.

If Trump ends up doing that, I will truly be in awe.

The Fourth Turning Has Brought Us Trump

The Presidential election has produced one of the most historic and memorable results in my lifetime.

First and foremost, it is a reminder that in America the people have ultimate sovereign power. Donald Trump ran against the Democrats, the Republican establishment and the entire media elite and still prevailed. Americans often forget how much power they wield in our system. These results prove it.

The hour is late so further analysis will have to wait for another day. However, it appears Trump was able to win because Hillary Clinton was not able to generate the turnout she needed among minority, young and working class Democrat voters and Trump was able to pull the GOP base together while attracting disaffected working class voters.

Trump also effectively made the choice for voters as between CHANGE (Trump) or CORRUPTION (Clinton). Change is inherently risky. And it is even riskier when the candidate is Donald Trump. However, voting for Clinton was also risky by staying with the status quo (a 3rd Obama term) together with the cloud of corruption hanging over her head.

Finally, I will remind you that I wrote "Has The Fourth Turning Brought Us Trump?" last May in which I stated that Donald  Trump had appeared to put the prescription together that could possibly bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats.

This might be a good time to re-read that post and consider where this all might be leading us.

Has The Fourth Turning Brought Us Trump?
(originally published May 10, 2016)

I have referenced the book "The Fourth Turning" by Neil Howe and William Strauss several times over the years in BeeLine

The Fourth Turning refers to the cycles of history. There is a pattern to history. There are four turns much as there are four seasons.  A new era -or turn- occurs about every two decades or so.

At the start of each turning, people change how they feel about themselves, the culture, the nation, and the future. Turnings come in cycles of four.  Each full cycle spans the length of a long human life, roughly 80 years.

There is a Spring which is a High where institutions are strengthening and individualism is weakening and a new civic order is implanting. This was the period beginning right after WW II to the late 1960's

There is a Summer which is the Awakening.  This is an era of spiritual upheaval when the new civic order comes under attack from a new values regime. This period began in the late 1960's with the flower children and Vietnam War protests and lasted until the late 1980's.

There is a Fall which is the Unraveling.  This is a period of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions.  The old civic order decays and the new values regime firmly implants.  This began in the late 1980's and the authors predicted that it would run for about 20 years.

The Fourth Turning is the Crisis which is the Winter.  It is a decisive era of secular upheaval according to Strauss and Howe. In 1997 (when they wrote the book), they predicted that "sometime around the year 2005, perhaps a few years before or after, America will enter the Fourth Turning."

The last Fourth Turning began in 1929 with the stock market crash. It ran until 1946 encompassing both the Great Depression and WWII. Previous Fourth Turnings culminated in the American Revolution and the Civil War. We are talking about events that literally put the entire society at risk.

The authors of The Fourth Turning originally projected 2005 as the target date for the turn stating that it could be several years before or after that date. 9/11 and Katrina could be the turning point but most likely the 2008 financial meltdown marked the catalyst that thrust us into The Fourth Turning. We will not know for sure until we see it all play out. The point of maximum crisis is usually about 3/4 of the way through the FourthTurning. If they are right, we will likely experience it within the next 10 years.

One of the important points that Howe and Strauss make in The Fourth Turning is that history does not necessarily repeat, but it rhymes. Why is that? Because with each succeeding generation the learnings of the past are forgotten or never learned. As a result, there is a tendency to ignore the past lessons of history as previous generations were not there and did not "live it". The same mistakes are made again and again over time.

When I read this book in 1998 it seemed an audacious prediction that we would be entering a period of Crisis. America was riding high. The stock market was booming.  The federal budget was in surplus. The defense budget was being trimmed every year as there seemed to be no real threats to peace. All seemed right in America. It was hard to see what they were talking about. Yet the book gave me an uneasy feeling and increased my sensitivity to observing the changes that were going on around me.

There seems to be little doubt that we are now living in the middle of The Fourth Turning. In fact, the emergence and success of Donald Trump in the political realm confirms it.  The same can be said for the the success of Bernie Sanders in the Democrat primary as well.

One of the key elements in a Fourth Turning is that a point is reached where the public realizes that their institutions are dysfunctional and they come to the conclusion that they are increasingly vulnerable with the current status quo. Such was the case as the colonists grew distrustful and frustrated with British rule, the deep divisions created within the country with slavery that led to the Civil War and the substantial financial hardships that everyone felt in the Great Depression.

A point is reached when the pubic coalesces or large blocs of voters support a strong leader to tear down the existing social, economic and social construct and replace it with something else. The result may be better, or far worse, but the public will nevertheless demand something different.

Barack Obama was perfectly positioned to be that leader as he entered office shortly after The Fourth Turning began. However, he squandered his opportunity. The people voted for hope and change and they got Obamacare and not much else.  He told the people what they wanted to hear. However, instead of being the uniter that people were looking for he just further divided what was already a divided nation.

You begin to see how important this is in political terms when you consider what Strauss and Howe said about where we are headed politically in The Fourth Turning.

"Soon after the catalyst, a national election will produce a sweeping political alignment, as one faction or coalition capitalizes on a new public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug-of-war, ending the era of split government that had lasted through four decades.  The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent, less incrementalist agenda which their adversaries had darkly warned.  This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis.  Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation's attention."

The big point here is that a point is reached where the public mood shifts from one that is less concerned with individual rights and more concerned with the collective good. People ultimately will seek this as a means for society to survive the Crisis. It has no other choice.

What will the winning trends from a political standpoint be according to Strauss and Howe as we move through the remainder of The Fourth Turning?

  • Calls to close the gap between rich and poor
  • Reverse the decline of the middle class
  • Expand children's programs relative to senior programs
  • Restore an ethic of personal responsibility
  • De-fund time-encrusted bureaucracies
  • Promote traditional values
  • America will become more isolationist than today in it unwillingness to coordinate with other countries 
  • America will be less globally dependent than it is today with smaller cross-border trade and capital flows
  • The economic role of government will shift toward far more spending on defense and public works than on elder care and debt service

I don't know about you, but a lot of this sounds a lot like Donald Trump. Or Bernie Sanders for that matter. It does not sound like Hillary Clinton.

Look at some of the words above and see if you don't agree that in some ways it seems as if Trump has a keen understanding of where we are and what people are looking for. It is as if he is looking ahead and the Republican establishment can only see what is behind them.

"Decisive action".  There is very little gray in Trump's outlook.

"Assert public authority."  Think about Trump's views on eminent domain.

"Aggravate rather than alleviate societal pressures." Trump's views and statements on immigration.

"Reverse the decline of the middle class."  His major voting target is forgotten working class voters.

"De-fund time-encrusted bureaucracies."  His call to consider the de-funding of NATO.

"Promote traditional values."  "Make America Great Again."

"More isolationist."  Very consistent with his views of Middle East.

"Less globally dependent".  His attacks on NAFTA, China, Japan on trade.

"Defense and Infrastructure."  Two of Trump's favorite topics in every speech.

If The Fourth Turning has brought us Trump, can he lead us out of the Crisis? We can only hope. There are no promises. History is not made by events but by the reaction of human beings to events. We are hurtling down the road for a rendezvous with history of our own making. The choices that have been made and those that remain to be made will have deep consequences. We can only trust that the American people will make the right choice.

"In recent years, many Americans have despaired that their nation no longer produces leaders who can galvanize and inspire. Yet it is the turning, not the nation, that elevates great people to the apex of power. Lincoln and FDR are both cases in point. Both had to wait for the Crisis to hit. An Unraveling (the Third Turning) is an era when most people of intelligence, vision and integrity do not seek (much less get elected to) high public offices.

After the Fourth Turning arrives, however, a Lincoln-like leader will be more likely to seek office, and a Lincoln-like leader could be exactly what America needs, wants and gets."

I know it is hard to imagine associating Donald Trump and Abraham Lincoln but that might be the bet we are making in 2016. We may need no less than a Lincoln with what lies ahead.

We are not only in The Fourth Turning we are also in the bottom of the ninth inning if you believe the predictions of where Strauss and Howe have us heading. We already have two outs and two strikes on us for putting Obama in the game. This is no time to swing and miss again. Trump's chatter has dumbfounded the chattering class. His chatter has put him one step away from The White House.  He better be able to hit one over the wall...and build a wall while he is doing it!

May God Bless America once again.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Predictions, Words and Actions

On the eve of the 2012 national election I predicted that Mitt Romney would win when I wrote, "If I Am Wrong, I Am Wrong About America".

I was wrong about America in 2012. And it hurt...a lot.

I did not understand it then and I still do not understand it today.

I did not support Barack Obama in 2008 but I fully understood why he won. I genuinely hoped that he could turn his uplifting words into action. It did not take long to see that "Hope and Change" was just a slick political slogan. By 2012 we could see that it nothing but words.

In fact, I wrote a blog in September, 2012 about how President Obama should really be called "President Opposite" as almost every everything he said he was going to do turned out to be exactly the opposite. It is worth the read even four years later. Nothing has changed. It is just much worse.

President Opposite
Photo Credit: FreakingNews.com

Those were the facts and yet the American people re-elected him against one of the most decent and honorable men who has even run for President.

As a result, I don't make election predictions anymore. I especially don't make predictions when you consider that the pollsters who do this for a living do not seem to have a clue.

For example, consider these two national tracking polls that came out this morning. They could not be further apart.

LA Times-Trump + 5.6%

ABC- Clinton + 5.0%

Of course, what really matters is the electoral college tally. However, state polls in the key battleground states also do not "predict" anything. All of these states are tied or well within the margin of error.

North Carolina
New Hampshire

As I have written before, this election will be decided on turnout. Will the traditional Democratic constituencies--African-Americans, Millennials, Single Women---turnout like they did for Barack Obama? If they do, Hillary Clinton will win. If they don't, Donald Trump can close the history books on the Clintons and The White House. However, it remains to be seen whether the FBI investigation of the Clintons will open a completely new chapter to close the book once and for all.

While this election is difficult to predict it has also been a difficult one for voters to decide who to support. Both candidates are viewed skeptically by most voters. Voters do not believe Hillary is honest and trustworthy and they question Trump's temperament. I understand the angst when you believe you are choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Let me provide some perspective on that decision as I have assessed it myself.

Look deeper at the two candidate and assess their words and actions. It is the same thing I did when assessing President Obama's performance after his first term. His words sounded great, his actions did not come anywhere near his words. In fact, in most cases, his actions were the exact opposite of his words.

I have watched and assessed Hillary Clinton for over 30 years. Her actions belie her words. This woman is deeply corrupt. In Donald Trump words, she is "corrupt".

 A few examples for younger readers who may not know her complete history.

  • Hillary was a young attorney on the Congressional Committee investigating Watergate. The Chief Counsel of that committee said of Clinton, “She was a liar. She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”…"I would not — could not recommend her for any further positions.”
  • Hillary turned a $1,000 investment into a $98,000 profit in one year (1978) trading commodity futures. She claims she did her own research. The evidence appears to show she had insider information from a major agricultural producer in Arkansas, Tyson Foods. The profit on these trades was more than the combined income of both Clintons that year from their regular jobs. Despite her enormous success, she never traded again. Why, if you were so successful, would you quit?
  • On January 21, 2001, The Washington Post reported that the Clintons "left the White House yesterday with an unprecedented $190,027 worth of gifts received over the last eight years." Most of the items were furniture, furnishings, artwork and china that they moved to their newly purchased homes in Georgetown and Chappaqua, NY.  Because of the story, the Clintons were ultimately forced to return $28,000 worth of furniture and they also agreed to pay for $86,000 in other "gifts" that had been given to them by individuals when they were in The White House.
  • We all know about Hillary's private email server which Fox News has reported that the FBI is 99% certain was hacked by foreign intelligence services. Word now comes from New York Post reporting that Hillary routinely emailed classified materials to the maid at her Georgetown house while she was Secretary of State for her maid to print out. Her maid, Maria Santos, is a Filipino immigrant who I am not even sure is a naturalized American citizen.

On the other hand, Donald Trump has at times been crude, crass and anything but politically correct in his words. What about his actions? He has a lifetime record of results and success. His actions belie his words. He did not get where he is with bad temperament or by running rough shod over people. He did not succeed unilaterally. He had to agree to deals with people and get results. I think he understands people very well. How to incentivize them. How to motivate them. How to persuade them. And most importantly, how to negotiate with them.

If nothing else, Donald Trump is a master negotiator. The biggest thing that his words do for him is to establish expectations. In behavioral economics, they would be called "anchors". What is the value of anchoring?  In negotiations, the first figure or demand named in a negotiation subtly shifts the other side's expectations of what it will have to pay or accept in a deal.

Business people and others don't think they are affected by anchors. They don't think they could be manipulated in that way. Margaret Neale, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, who is an expert in negotiating strategy, and who conduct executive seminars on negotiations for business leaders, disagrees.  Here is what she says about "anchors" in William Poundstone's excellent book, "Priceless."

"We spend a lot of time talking to real folks making real decisions about the power of these anchors. They say it's not possible that I'm influenced by that; I've done a lot of things and I know. And I say you don't know."

Neale goes on to talk about the research that has been done that actually compares results with and without anchors.

"I can put Maggie in this situation without an anchor, and then I can put Maggie in that exact same situation with an anchor. And I can then compare the differences in her behavior, There are differences, and they are systematic, and they are powerful effects."

Will Donald Trump actually build the wall and make Mexico pay? I don't know but I know he will get the very best deal he can for the United States by establishing that anchor.

Will Donald Trump challenge the results of the election because of fraud? I don't know but he has set an anchor (expectation) that people better watch out for fraud because he may do something about it.

You can say the same thing about the Iran deal, NATO, NAFTA or his claims that he will sue this person or that person after the campaign.

Trump uses his words to set the stage for the actions he wants in the end.

Politicians like Clinton and Obama say the words to get elected but have no real idea how to implement them for action.

Think about that if you are still unsure of how to vote on Tuesday.