Trump – Trusting his Gut

March 13, 2018

The State Department is a shell of its former self, there are no ambassadors in key countries in Asia and the Middle East,  economic, domestic and foreign policy advisers in the White House who are level D minds keeps growing, and the lobbying swamp is not being drained but rather is filling up. What this country is left with is a president who now claims that it is better if he just trusts his gut when making important decisions. This is now what the term “unconventional president” has come to mean – play to your base, use Twitter to lash out at opponents, and allow a gigantic ego to control the direction of the country.

Apologists for the President and even some mainstream pundits are beginning to claim that the “unconventional president” is keeping his campaign promises, challenging national and international rules that have gone years without serious review, and playing the tough guy (or madman) in order to Make America Great Again.

But the world works, or a least has worked, since the end of World War II on a foundation of trust, cooperation, consensus, and mutual respect. While the stock market is erratic but upward bound, the economy is strong,  and unemployment is down, there is no doubt that the United States under President Trump has lost influence in the world and is fostering a climate of unilateral protectionism. If Trump’s developed a catch phrase for his ” gut ” policy perspective it would be The World Be Damned ( except Russia).

Following the ” gut ” and damning the world may sound good to those who live in a time long gone and think that policies are best defined as implemented on a foundation of testosterone. But we live in a time when the world is inter-connected, there are multiple powers around the globe, expert analysis and the truth still hold value, and relying on the “gut” is so filled with risk and miscalculation that one wrong move could spell economic, domestic and foreign policy disaster.

Those who support President Trump may feel a rush of energy and revenge when their guy takes on the establishment, but feeling good about ridiculing fake news, that weakling Obama or the globalists at the UN or the World Trade Organization does little to repair the damage to our international influence or reputation. What the “35 percenters” fail to realize is that feeling good is temporary, but losing influence and reputation to other world powers can easily be lasting. There is no doubt that the US is one of the richest country in the world and a major military power, but the US has slipped in so many socio-economic categories and most importantly is no longer as Ronald Reagan said, “that shining city on a hill,” Trusting your ” gut ” does not lead to a “shining city on a hill.”



Good News Is All Around Us

February 27, 2018

The massacre at Parkland High in Florida was a punch to the gut that pulled our nation into sadness and anger. With the overwhelming number of media and Internet outlets we now have the ability to find all forms of depressing stories that only heighten fear and visions of social decline. No wonder Americans have a dismal view of the future and often see the nation as going in the wrong direction.

For those who are watching, the evening news is perhaps the main culprit as “bad” news  is wrapped in that tired phrase Breaking News. Every fire, every robbery, every shooting, every murder, every cruelty, every sick creature gets top billing. Occasionally, there is a human interest story to warm the hearts but it usually is placed at the end of a telecast well after all the mayhem.

Well here is some alternative Breaking News – all is not lost and our lives are actually showing signs of improvement and renewal. Besides the good economic and stock market numbers which are cause for joy there are other numbers both here and around the world that are worth mentioning, but never seem to make the news. No matter what the naysayers claim, crime and especially violent crime is way down; deaths from the common killers like cancer and heart disease have been substantially reduced; the push for gender equality is now on the move and likely to change the face of employment; the terrorist threat looks like it has run its course, and our children are smarter (IQs up by 30 points in the last 100 years) and more adept at taking on the world than at any time in history. The arrival of artificial intelligence and  all other forms of technological change that will improve our lives will be in the hands of our kids.

Sure the pictures from Syria are heart-breaking, race relations are at the very least troubling, mental illness and drugs are rampant, and too often we just don’t seem to get along. But every problem we face as a nation is fixable, even in this time of partisan gridlock and a national leadership that is satisfied to just kick the can down the road.

It is highly unlikely that what we see and believe about our nation will change anytime soon; media ratings thrive on controversy and evil deeds; fear has replaced faith as a guiding value; and too many of those in power are reluctant to take a chance on change. One can only hope that the Millennial Generation and the so-called Z Generation will usher in a new era of seeing the good in people and not being risk averse. What have we got to lose if we embrace the good news.

Thankful for Small Favors

February 14, 2018

It should come as no surprise to anyone with an appreciation of how President Trump and the Republican Congress played the ” forgotten American” card and advanced what some have called a “peasants revolt” that poll numbers show a small but important spike in support for The Donald and the GOP. It all comes down to the simple fact that Americans got their tax cut reward in their take home pay.

It really makes no difference whether the reward was the $ 1.50 a week praised by Speaker Ryan or the more common $ 50-$100 bump a month for many working Americans. Progressives and leftist economists can point out until they are blue in the face that the tax cut is skewed toward the wealthy and big corporations, but most Americans have never really been upset over what the rich get out of tax cuts compared to what they receive in their pay envelope.  They are just thankful for small favors.

Democrats continue to fail at understanding the “forgotten” or the “peasants” and believe that harping on the inequality of the cuts will somehow weaken the Trump base and bring about the end of Trumpism. The response of the tax cuts to many Americans is simple human nature-more in my pocket is a good thing, less for the government is even better. The amount in the pocket is not as important as the fact that it is found money, a small favor.

Of course Trump and the Republicans are by no means out of the woods; there is the huge bump in the fiscal year deficit, the burgeoning national debt, the new signs of inflation, the wild ride of the stock market, and of course more stupid tweets and White House dysfunction. But again most Americans don’t sit up nights worrying about deficits, debts, inflation and the impact on their grandchildren; that extra cash in their pockets is what matters. I rarely run into someone who is even remotely concerned about the economic and financial impact of Republican tax policies on the security and lifestyle of their grandkids. It is much like the real threat from global warming – somehow the future will take of itself, what is important is the here and now.

The Democrats continue to show that they are riding the wave of rejection of Trump and the GOP but don’t count the Republicans out of the game as Trump and the conservatives will continue to play to the base by touting the tax cut. It just might work, especially if the Democrats forget what Clinton’s campaign adviser James Carville said, ” It’s the economy stupid.”


The Patriots, The Eagles and the Rest

January 29, 2018

If you are a Patriots fan, Super Bowl 52 will be a cakewalk; if you are an Eagles fan, the Super Bowl will be a upset of epic proportions.  The Vegas wiseguys have the Patriots as a little under a touchdown favorite. Football fans outside the “Athens of America”, i.e. Boston and the City of Brotherly Love, i.e. Philadelphia are showing signs of boredom and disinterest as Belichick’s Boys go for their sixth ring against a team the Patriots last beat in a Super Bowl in 2002. The game could be a ratings fiasco.

The story line of this year’s Super Bowl, however, is not  so much about the two teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy, but rather the woeful competition within the ranks of the National Football League. Football fanatics may complain that the Patriots are arrogant and cheaters, yet the facts remain that the team from New England usually wins with relative ease or is so confident that they pull out a potential loss with a dramatic win in the waning minutes of the game.

Tom Brady may look like a male model who opposing players think is a bit too “pretty boy”, Bill Belichick will never win a Mr. Congeniality contest because he answers most media questions with a grunt, and owner Robert Kraft is an unabashed supporter of Donald Trump and Trumpism.  But taken together the Big Three have devised a football system that for some unknown reason the other teams in the NFL have failed to follow or implement.

At 40 Brady is a picture of youthful energy and confidence; he is a fierce competitor who his teammates respect and admire. Coach Belichick is a no nonsense tactician; he has a brilliant football mind and gets the best out of his players. Kraft is the wise money man who stays out of the fray, trusts his football staff, and takes pride in a team that is thoroughly professional.

As to the rest of the NFL, many if not most of the teams, can’t seem to find the leaders and role models that form the foundation of a winning team; too often they go for the glitz rather then quiet competence (Tom Brady was the 199th pick taken in the 6th round of the 2000 draft). The rest of the NFL teams bounce around from head coach to head coach never seeming to find the guy who knows how to run a team and prepare for every challenge. The rest of the NFL teams have owners who are simply out for the money, the good seats and the hoopla rather than seeing their job as investing in quality personnel.

As a Patriots fan, I of course will be rooting for the guys with Elvis on the side of their helmets. I agree with the Vegas bookies that the game will be close but eventually the Lombardi Trophy goes back to New England. The Eagles are without question the toughest team the Patriots will play this year and will certainly make the game a real knock out drag em out battle. But in the end the Patriots have a winning system that may be annoying to the rest of America but a system that brings victory. You’d think by now teams in the NFL would catch on to the system and follow the lead of Brady, Belichick and Kraft. The system is right in front of their eyes, why they haven’t copied the system is a football mystery that is easy to solve.







I Love Starbursts, Trump Candy

January 17, 2018

Against the better judgment of my daughter Kathy who is a nurse, I too often go down the candy aisle and throw a package of Starbursts into the shopping cart.  My favorite Starbursts are the the red ones – cherry and strawberry.  I know they are not good for me, but my will power against sugar is weak.

So when I heard that Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House Majority Leader, sought to gain the attention and support of President Trump by sending him a whole candy bowl of red Starbursts, I was immediately conflicted.  I understand the attraction of the “reds”, but I was worried that gaining the ear of a president by giving him candy is to say the least troublesome.

Now every president has their weak spots and preferences whether it is cute puppies, high end Scotch or beautiful blondes, but the candy strategy is a new one and says a lot about how to get to the President when important matters are on the line. President Trump is not known for following a healthy diet, but the Starburst caper reveals that our president may make allies based on shallow if not juvenile gift giving.

McCarthy to his credit realized that to get to the President’s ear policy presentations and issue discussions are not the road to victory; the President rarely reads, has a short attention span and gets his information from Fox and Friends. The policy and issue key may now be candy not reasoned debate. It is abundantly clear that challenging the President in public, questioning his veracity or worse yet failing to stroke his ego can only lead to a quick turnaround in promised legislation or a public Twitter attack, so why not try Starbursts as the path to effective executive-legislative relations.

The Democrats have been bemoaning the fact that President Trump doesn’t play fair and can’t be a reliable legislative partner, but what they should have done is feed his sweet tooth or his stomach. Maybe Nancy Pelosi should be sending the President Big Macs everyday or Minority Leader Schumer might drop by a case of Diet Cokes. It’s worth a try since traditional bipartisanship is going nowhere fast.

There is one certainty in all this Starburst strategy and that is those little red squares of sugar will either become highly popular or drop off as part of the candy elite. I know that I will put aside my politics and keep buying Starbursts, despite their use as a key to presidential access and ego stroking. Who would have thought that the issues of national concern were nothing but candy.



The Elderly

January 8, 2018

Our son-in-law Jim called during the massive winter storm and said he was following the directions of the weather people who said that the elderly should be checked on to make sure they are safe. My wife and I know that Jim was only kidding (we think) but it did strike up a conversation about how best to define two 70 year olds.

Are we best described as senior citizens? Are we retired folks? Are we aging? Or are we just plain old? No matter what some have said, 70 is not the new 50, but rather 70 is 70, so let’s not kid ourselves.  Thankfully my wife and I are still in good health and have most of our thought processes in tact, although the hearing is slowly slipping away. 70 may not be the new 50 but in our case it doesn’t feel like the end of the road of life, and of course there are those 10% discount days at Target and the fact that some people even hold a door open for you. One bit of advice-at 70 perfect the art of looking a bit confused and you often get the sympathy vote and the benefits that follow.

As we finished our discussion of how best to define us, my wife and I kind of settled on the senior citizen tag because it adds a bit of dignity to the title as in “senior manager”, “senior vice-president” and ” head of the senior class.” But whatever title is chosen, these days reaching 70 means you have entered the ” slow go” years when vacations, nights out on the town and sporting events have to be planned with more attention to the impact on the heart, the legs and the back. At 70 we would all like to state that ” you are only as old as you feel” but by this stage in life not everything is working to perfection.

My wife and I are enjoying our senior years and we don’t mind if Jim in jest ( we think) calls on us to see how we are weathering the storm. We believe there are many good years ahead, so we will stick with senior citizen and put off for awhile the title ” elderly” and certainly just plain ” old.”




The 25 Issues That Shape American Politics by Kryzanek and Karreth

December 26, 2017

From immigration to health care to climate change to taxes, the United States is beset with deep divisions, politically, culturally and personally. The new book, The 25 Issues That Shape American Politics: Debates, Differences and Divisions seeks to explain in clear and balanced discussions what are the driving forces in our current national landscape.  Check out the book on Amazon