Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Donald Trump Is Our Nation’s Hope



[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

With the Republican Convention looming, I hope that the handful of people that cannot seem to accept the reality that Trump won the nomination fairly will embrace him. “Many say, like him or not, Trump won and efforts to dump him would be crushed and would devastate the GOP. According to The Associated Press, Trump has 1,542 delegates, including 1,447 required by party rules to back his nomination, well above the 1,237 needed for victory.” http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GOP_2016_TRUMPS_PARTY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT  He is the (presumptive) Republican nominee – if you believe the millions of voters who voted for him in the primaries. I hope that these maverick dissidents realize that a vote for Trump is a vote to save the nation; any other alternative is to return a Democrat to the White House. It is hard enough to have to tolerate the MSM which is doing everything to discredit Trump and many of the other Republican candidates. We do not have a fair and balanced approach to our reporting media any longer. Reading some blogger’s comments bolstered my confidence that the electorate is catching on. For example, Polls like this mean nothing, all slanted by the left trying to push the attention away from all the Clinton money scandals.” How about: “Well when almost all media outlets are bad mouthing and highlighting his negatives what do you expect? Can we hear all of Hillary's lies, scandals, and hypocrisy? Trump's issues are repeated 100 times while Clinton's mentioned briefly at best.”

I am incredulous that there are still those who think replacing Trump at the convention – using whatever tactic they can including changing the rules – and putting somebody else in his place is a viable solution. To say this is just plain stupid. I guess that desperate people do desperate things. The Republicans need to unite – now, not later – if they are to have any hope of winning the White House. Further, any attempt to replace him would be an unmitigated disaster. “‘It's a fantasy, it won't happen,’ said Morton Blackwell, a Republican National Committee member from Virginia who initially backed Cruz.” Another voice of reason: “‘We have a responsibility to respect our democracy, and that means we accept the outcome of the vote,’ said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who supported the presidential bid of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.” (Ibid) Further, there is no guarantee that their replacement would fare any better (still dealing with a Republican, you know); and worse yet, besides losing the election, they would definitely lose millions of voters – many of whom stood in line for hours to vote for Trump – and therefore bring about the ultimate demise of the Republican Party. I think that the Establishment members who are pushing to dump Trump have overlooked the fact that they can be replaced, too. Our career politicians have been silent or otherwise ignored their elected responsibilities as legislators to be a check and balance on the Executive Branch – and now they want us to listen to them? Ask yourself: what have these dissenters accomplished in the last 7+ years?

Politico states: “While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/donald-trump-2016-polling-turnout-early-voting-data-213897 But even if that’s true, it is exciting because it bodes well for capturing voters who stayed home the last two elections (at least now they are motivated) and says nothing about independents and perhaps even Democrats who may vote for him. Granted, there may be Republicans who are going to vote Democratic. But I have written in previous blogs that there has been a paradigm shift in the electorate; I may be hopeful, but I believe that November will fool many people – pundits included (maybe me too, but I’m an optimist!). I do not think that either political party gets this. However, I think overall that the electorate is tired of being taken for granted; they are also tired of the career politician’s deceitful promises, their lying and their manipulations. We are taxed to cover absurd social programs, have experienced an influx of illegal aliens and are paying for their healthcare – but yet we have to pay for our own? Finally, we can’t forget the generous retirement packages these same career politicians have given themselves. Maybe we should help them take advantage of their retirement packages!

So here’s what’s at stake in November. Of primary importance are the nominations to the Supreme Court. Trump will nominate judges that know the law and how to interpret the Constitution; he has already released a list of those he would consider. He is a successful manager of money, people, and projects; he knows about spending, debt, and wealth. He understands the economy both domestic and foreign, job creation and the business world; he is financially independent and beholden to no one, especially donors – possibly one of the reasons why the current Establishment is afraid of him. He has an excellent attitude regarding our military – rebuilding it and especially, taking care of our veterans. He is – and this is important – an excellent negotiator. But most importantly, he loves America! In summary, he has real-world experience; he is resourceful, creative, and results driven to get the job done. He has viable accomplishments. He is not politically correct, and this is a tremendous part of his popularity: I believe people are fed up with political correctness. Granted this may make him a little “rough around the edges,” and it sometimes gets him into trouble. But because the MSM hates him, anything that he says that can be misconstrued, will be. Also, if he becomes President, many things will have to change. For one thing the largesse of the Washington arena will change; Trump is also probably “stepping on the toes” of others, maybe threatening their power base. I believe that there will be a major impact on the media; he routinely asserts himself and insults them (justifiably) for their lack of integrity, misrepresentation, being biased and agenda driven, and for their failure to report the facts honestly and accurately. And if he becomes president, it should serve as a message to the entire Establishment that the people have spoken and chosen their leader based on results and not their political ideology and agenda.

Because Mr. Trump is not a polished, political candidate, he needs to learn to tone down his presentations and off-the-cuff remarks. I think people believe he is genuine, but he needs to be more diplomatic and professional; maybe then the rest of the Republican Party will back him. We have serious problems in this country, and his tone is not as important as his ability to be President. Trump is the answer to the problems this nation faces. Unfortunately, it may come down to whom the electorate feels is the "lesser of the two evils"; it’s a shame when you have to vote for a candidate you may not like because you like the other one even less! Will he win? All the pundits have guessed wrong on most things until now. There is strong evidence that a lot of public opinion surveys may hide a segment of Trump’s supporters. Many voters are reluctant to admit in a live interview (vs. online survey) that they support Trump. This creates the possibility of a large block labeled the “silent majority” – does he have one?

In closing, the Republican Establishment has no one to blame but themselves for this situation. It has been posed whether Republican voters share the values and principles of the Republican Party; I would guess that the 10.7 million votes cast for Trump during the primaries say no. I believe that if Trump’s ground game is good, he will win. Here’s a sample of why: http://www.donaldjtrump.com/media/donald-trumps-campaign-draws-dedicated-followers          I think Mr. Trump hit the nail on the head when he said to the leaders: “This is too tough to do it alone, but you know what I think I'm going to be forced to….Be quiet. Just please be quiet. Don't talk. Please be quiet. Just be quiet ....We have to have our Republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself."

____________________________________

Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.


Monday, June 20, 2016

TRILLIONS HIIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT




 

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are lying to Americans.

 

Congress is barely halfway through approving the 2017 Appropriations.  It has only thirty legislative days before the start of the next fiscal year.  This all but guarantees a battle over a continuing resolution or omnibus spending bill.

 

Recently, a Republican Congressman let slip that there are billions in “unobligated balances” that could be reallocated for fighting the Zika Virus.  It was a lightning bolt of real information that everyone ignored. This was an unintended glimpse at one of the biggest lies in Washington, DC.

 

Members from both parties appear on cable news hand wringing about how it is impossible to stop federal spending from devouring the country.  Liberals and Democrats assert the government is underfunded and understaffed for meeting pressing needs.  Raising taxes and expanding hiring are their only solutions.  What now passes for conservatives and Republicans express helplessness because of Obama’s veto pen and their concern that any confrontation may lead to another government shutdown.

 

Republicans and Democrats wail over no funds to combat the Zika Virus, terrorism, and other possible crises.  Their machinery for endlessly taxing, spending, and borrowing incessantly rolls on.

 

The result of this united capitulation is the perpetual growth in government spending and borrowing.  Federal spending has risen from $3.517 trillion in 2009 to $4.147 trillion for 2017.  During this same period, government debt has soared from $11.875 trillion to over $20.149 trillion, with annual increases of nearly a trillion in borrowing projected every year thereafter.

 

Every year funds are allocated for federal projects and programs based on estimates.  Congress adds money when those estimates fall short, even if caused by waste and fraud.  Funds sit idle when spending is less than expected.

 

Since President Obama took office, $914.8 billion in unexpended, unobligated, funds have piled up across the federal government.  It is dutifully reported under “Assets and Balance Sheets” on page ten of the budget released each year by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 

 

You read that correctly, nearly a trillion of your tax dollars is sitting unused in plain sight. 

 

Another $1.028 trillion remains unexpended among general accounts and $461 billion remains unspent in trust funds.  While these funds are technically obligated, the fact that they languish raises questions about their use and their management.

 

That is over $2.405 trillion sitting doing nothing.  It is available right now.  It only takes the push of a button to instantly shift these funds to fighting Zika, bolstering our military and homeland security, repairing our infrastructure, debt payments, or tax relief. 

 

This is how the Establishment from both parties plays Americans for fools.  The funds are hiding in plain sight.  No one talks about it, because it would reveal the lie behind the Washington elites claiming helplessness.  On rare instances, someone lets slip their knowledge of this money.  In June 2012, to his eternal credit, Senator Tom Coburn issued a blistering report, “Money for Nothing” that exposed these funds in detail.  Not even conservative media covered it.

 

The budget debate would be very different if Americans called out Washington politicians on their dirty little secret.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

THE DEATH OF OVERSIGHT



 

Congress is losing its Constitutional tug of war with the Executive Branch. 

 

Politicians and pundits can point fingers, but the death of Congressional power is a suicide not a homicide.  They are doing it to themselves.  Congress is allowing the current Administration to get away with increasingly bold power grabs.  The result is an unaccountable government. 

 

Congress can control the Executive Branch through its Constitutional power of the purse.  What is funded exists and grows, what isn’t funded shrinks or vanishes.  The current Congress is not doing this.  Worse, it is neglecting its fundamental role in government oversight. Congress has lost its willingness to tie funding to adherence to the law and Congressional intent

 

The most appalling situation is in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. For the second year in a row, Congress is way behind performing its basic responsibility of passing Appropriation bills.  Only two have made it onto the House Floor.  None have been considered by the full Senate.

 

In the past, Appropriations Committees met to build the case for spending public funds.  Administration witnesses made their case for spending.  Appropriation Committee Members made their alternative case, and either tore down or supported what the Administration witnesses proposed.  What should occur is a dialogue designed to align Congressional intent, and Executive Branch actions, to public spending.  What should emerge is legislation filled with spending numbers.  Supporting these numbers should be a narrative, in the hearing record and committee reports, building a compelling case for how and why public finds are being spent, or not spent.

 

None of this is happening in the current Congress.  The result is Congress ceding spending control to the Administration and destabilizing the Constitutional balance between coequal Branches.

 

In 2015, there were 128 House Appropriation hearings prior to marking-up legislation. In 2016 there were only 88.  The House only listened to 253 Administration witnesses. Their oversight was conducted by hearing from only seven of the 73 Inspector Generals.  No one from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was involved.   No one from oversight groups documenting government waste and abuse were heard.

 

It gets worse.  In the 1980s and 1990s, Appropriation hearings lasted three or more hours.  Hearings in 2016 averaged 77 minutes.  When you factor in the opening remarks from the Chair and Ranking Member and the opening statement of the main witness, less than 25 minutes were devoted to Q&A per witness. 

 

These 88 Hearings devoted minimal time to major national concerns.  Only two hours were spent on EPA funding, the Secret Service less than one hour, and less than one hour was spent on the crucible of Republican populism – the Bureau of Land Management. 

 

No wonder only three to five Members attended each hearing; even though all Subcommittees have at least eleven Members (Defense has sixteen).

 

House Committees broadcast their hearings online and archive them as podcasts.  None of the 47 Senate Appropriation hearings were broadcast or archived.  The public only knows that three Inspector Generals appeared, and there was no one from the GAO or government watchdog groups. The public remains uninformed as to what 121 witnesses had to say beyond the text of their prepared remarks.

 

Republicans are missing their annual opportunity to build their case, on the official record, for the spending battles to come and to sway the electorate on who is best at stewarding public funds.  Swapping sound bites on friendly media outlets is a poor substitute for proper oversight.

 

Republicans are being negligent to the point of malfeasance by ignoring government accountability. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WHY TRUMP WINS



 

A new voter coalition has emerged.  A new era has begun.

 

Outside the circles of power in Washington, DC, New York City, and Hollywood, America has been a smoldering caldera of anger.  Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, America has been without a real strategy or leader to cope with the complexities of the post-Cold War World.

 

Throughout America, those not favored by government regulations and contracts, remain in the deep depression that started in 2007 and swallowed our economy in September 2008.

 

The 2016 election cycle is all about Americans rebelling against those who lied to them, and are exploiting the system.  This is Donald Trump’s America.

 

2016 is about removing those who caused the problem and starting anew.  That is why policy details matter less than the willingness to topple the current Establishment.

 

Americans in 2016 are seeking a defining moment of rebellion.

 

On April 19, 1775, militiamen in Lexington, and Concord, stood their ground against British Regulars who were on their way to confiscate rebel arms and arrest their leaders. The American Revolution had begun.

 

No policy manifesto or legislation existed when those heroic individuals rose-up against a collective evil.  The “Minutemen” did not debate alternatives, they decisively acted to end the established order.  It was fight first, sort out later.

 

Trump is leading a “back to the future” rebellion, transcending party and ideology.  Just like 1775, it is fight first, sort out later.

 

There are three movements capable of bringing 1775 to 2016.  The Establishments of both parties have done everything they can to keep these movements apart, including demonizing each with the others.  The Establishment’s worst nightmare is that these movements will unite in a common purpose against them.

 

The moment these movements think like 1775 the Establishment is through.  Trump knows this. 

 

The Tea Party movement arose in 2007 to protest policies of Republican and later Democrat elites.  This movement railed against out of control government spending and attacked the cozy behind the scenes deals between government elites and friendly business leaders.  They decried the “crony capitalism” of Bush’s Wall Street bailout, which rewarded instead of punished those who wrecked the American economy. 

 

Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011, with demonstrations in New York City.   The OWS demonstrators also decried “crony capitalism” and the Wall Street bailout.

 

In 2014, North American workers united in an Inter-Continental Day of Action to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Many were veterans of the fight against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Approximately 564 organizations, spanning the political spectrum signed petitions and organized protests.

 

Those who rallied to Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot in 1992, those who are rallying to Bernie Sanders in 2016, desire to end a system that benefits elites at the expense of everyone else.  Sanders remains in the race to bring his voice and his legions to the Democratic National Convention.  The platform fights and Sanders’ speech to the convention will be their high water mark.  Afterwards, they may support Trump in fighting the system.

 

Trump understands that America’s political parties are voter mobilization mechanisms, not ideological crusades.  He knows his history.

 

The Reagan Era was driven by Reagan and “Reaganism”, not by Republicanism.  The Republican “Establishment” never fully embraced “Reaganism”, to the point of undermining his Revolution.  Elected as “Reagan’s Third Term”, Bush and the Republican Establishment launched a thorough “cleansing” of Reaganites from the Executive Branch, as well as among state Republican Parties.  Grassroots Republicans realized their enemy was the moderate, elitist, Washington Republican Establishment. 

 

In 1994, Newt Gingrich’s rival of “Reaganism” powered Republicans to retake the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years.  Pettiness and ego among Congressional Republicans derailed the revival.  Scandals and earmark abuses drove them out of office in 2006. Grassroots Republicans erupted in open revolt with the Washington Establishment.

 

The Establishment still does not comprehend what is happening, or they hope they can dampen rebellion and keep control of the status quo. 

 

Trump is the only person left standing willing to smash their status quo. 

 

Monday, May 16, 2016

HOW GOVERNMENT GREW IN AMERICA



 

The 1928 Presidential Election remains the zenith of Republican political power.  Republican Herbert Hoover crushed Democrat Al Smith, winning 58 percent of the popular vote and 83 percent of the electoral vote. [1] The landslide was fueled by years of prosperity, affection for outgoing President Calvin Coolidge, and deep seated concerns over Smith’s Catholicism. Republicans also amassed majorities in the House and Senate not seen again until 2014.

 

Ironically, the 1928 election also marked the formation of an American consensus supporting a permanent and expanding role for the federal government. Both candidates espoused the need for federal intervention in the economy. [2] Both party platforms articulated a vision of economic vitality guided by federal regulation. [3] Business leaders embraced “the advantages of an economy managed through government-business cooperation.” [4]

 

Contrast the national consensus of 1928 with 1876.  In that turbulent year both Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden were universally opposed to government intervention.  The Republican and Democratic Platforms displayed equal vehemence against the federal government.  In fact, the Democratic Party was viewed as an “orderly, dependable, even conservative partner.” [5] Tilden spoke out against:

 

“…a spirit of gambling adventure, engendered  by false systems of public finance; a grasping centralization absorbing all functions of local authorities, and assuming to control the industries of individuals by largesses to favored classes from the public treasury of money wrung from the body of the people by taxation.” [6]

 

What happened during the intervening 52 years to cause such a paradigm shift relating to the role of the federal government?

 

The years after America’s Civil War unleashed an explosion of invention, entrepreneurship, and economic growth unknown in world history. America would complete its conquest of North America, lead the world in innovation, and in1898 emerge as a major world power.  America became the foremost land of opportunity attracting record numbers of immigrants desiring farmland in the west or employment in the cities of the east.

 

This historic introduction of technology and population fundamentally challenged America’s existing civic culture.  Reconciling America’s founding values with the modern age would change our nation forever.

 

America in 1876 was organized around small communities.  This had always been a fundamental aspect of rural life, and it now manifested itself in urban neighborhoods.  Within these small spheres everyone knew each other, allowing for direct local engagement of affected individuals in every matter relating to collective well-being. Such intimacy supported informal and private sector solutions that formed the basis of America’s founding principles. [7]

 

This local mindset formed the national consensus, which universally rejected federal government activism.  The 1876 Democratic Party Platform ended with:

“Resolved, That this Convention, representing the Democratic party of the States, do cordially indorse the action of the present House of Representatives in reducing and curtailing the expenses of the Federal Government, in cutting down enormous salaries, extravagant appropriations, and in abolishing useless offices and places not required by the public necessities, and we shall trust to the firmness of the Democratic members of the House that no committee of conference and no misinterpretation of rules will be allowed to defeat these wholesome measures of economy demanded by the country.”[8]


The absence of federal regulations, combined with sustained peace and stability in the late Nineteenth Century, to unleash Americans’ genius for invention and innovation.  Every new technology, every new machine, every new business and business leader, accelerated the American economy to previously unrealized levels.  The typewriter (1867), the telephone (1876) the adding machine (1888), and cash register (1897) thoroughly reinvented business. [9]

 

These technologies linked America together in new ways on a broad scale.  A new middle class arose composed of specialists and managers to run this new business age.  Railroads allowed goods and services to move across the continent. Other forms of transportation, cable cars (1873), elevated trains (1878), and subways (1895) bridged neighborhoods and reached out to surrounding rural areas.  Electricity (1880) made urban areas safer and extended the hours used available for work and play. [10] These technologies were open to all, making cities lands of opportunity as enticing as the vast western expanses of America.

 

Cities grew.  In 1860 only 16 percent of Americans lived in areas with more than 8,000 inhabitants.  By 1890 this had more than doubled.  City population exploded. New York City was just over 800,000 in 1860.  By the 1930 Census in was 6.9 million. Chicago went from 112,000 to 3.47 million.  Detroit went from a small town to 1.5 million. [11]

 

The enthrallment for urbanization and the nationalization of America shattered the intimacy of rural communities and urban neighborhoods.  The logistics of providing water, sewer, public sanitation (i.e. removal of animal waste), garbage collection, law enforcement, and maintaining roads and light rail overwhelmed informal and private sector solutions. 

 

The breadth and pace of change had other consequences: “Yet to almost all of the people who created them, these themes meant only dislocation and bewilderment. America in the late Nineteenth Century was a society without core.  It lacked those national centers of authority and information which might have given order to such swift changes.” [12]

 

Urban political machines served as interim mechanisms to translate neighborhood culture into metropolitan-wide operations.  This came at the price of corruption and myopia. [13] The rapidly expanding demand for urban infrastructure and services eventually overwhelmed even the most pervasive city machines. [14] “As more people clustered into smaller spaces, it became harder to isolate the individual.  As more of a previously distant world intruded upon community life, it grew more difficult to untangle what an individual did and what was done to him, even to distinguish the community itself from the society around it.” [15]

 

The complexity, scope, and pace of challenges were reaching a breaking point. It was at this juncture that leaders and innovators among the new urban middle class saw their opportunity to apply skills honed from managing complex and geographically dispersed enterprises in the private sector. [16] 

 

Broadly defined as the Progressive Era, these were local efforts to bring order out of chaos, honest government out of corruption, and efficiency out of waste.  The urban middle class offered ways to save cities from themselves.  Their movement was not ideological, but at times idealistic.  Both Republicans and Democrats saw the utility in adopting new methods to solve the new problems. [17]

 

Tangible successes from this array of ad hoc experiments had leaders using newspapers and magazines to share their experiences and explore increasingly expansive ways to apply their approaches.  For them, and a new wave of political & economic thinkers, the lessons from business could be applied to public services and local governance.  It was only a short matter of time, and an even shorter philosophical leap, for many of these thinkers and doers looking for ways to apply industrial design in factories to society as a whole, to “regulate society’s movements to produce maximum returns for a minimum outlay of time and effort.” [18]

 

Business leaders also saw the benefits of adequate, predictable, urban services and infrastructure.  Concerns about a slippery slope to Socialism or Communism were not voiced as every step forward was framed in terms of management, professionalism, honesty, the rule of law, and industrial innovation. [19]

 

The ascendancy of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt provided a national forum and credibility to the myriad of local initiatives.  This included systemizing government at all levels, professionalizing administration, and the collecting and assessment of objective data to guide decisions. By 1912, the Progressive era had established government at all levels including the federal, as a co-equal partner to business, “in order to achieve the adaptable order that both public officials and private interests sought, some sense of mutual purpose, some accommodation that still allowed each side ample room to maneuver, was considered indispensable.” [20]

 

President Woodrow Wilson filled his Administration with Progressive thinkers and doers. The federal funding of innovation and statistical research, and the collaboration between government, industry, and academia completed the civic shift begun in earnest after the financial panic (depression) of 1873.

 

“Nineteen sixteen marked “the completion of the federal scientific establishment”, covering industry, agriculture, and an assortment of public services, and much the same was true of the basic regulatory mechanisms in both Federal and state governments...what had emerged by the war years was an important segment of the population, a crucial one in terms of both public and private leadership, acting from common assumptions and speaking a common language.  A bureaucratic orientation now defined a basic part of the nation’s discourse.” [21]

 

The Harding-Coolidge Administrations gave America the opportunity to assess the legacy of the Progressive Era.  Andrew Mellon, Treasury Secretary under both Harding and Coolidge, led the way in rolling back taxes and spending while dismantling or privatizing federal functions. Unfortunately, other Harding Cabinet members saw personal opportunity and fell into various ethical pits, like the Tea Pot Dome scandal. [22]

 

Harding’s death allowed Coolidge to bring the full power of the Presidency to support Mellon’s crusade against federal government over reach.  They were opposed by Cabinet Secretaries and Republicans in Congress who jealously guarded their fiefdoms and prerogatives. [23] Coolidge also used the new medium of radio to warn Americans about the folly of federal intervention and unbridled spending. [24] Coolidge ultimately prevailed, creating a budget surplus that reduced the national debt by nearly 37 percent. The results were full employment (less than 2% unemployment) and an economy booming with manufacturing growing by 33%, and iron and steel production doubling. [25]

 

Not everyone was thrilled with Coolidge’s counter revolution against the Progressive’s legacy.  Commerce Department Secretary, Herbert Hoover, a Harding holdover, opposed the Coolidge-Mellon rollbacks of taxes and spending.  Unlike Coolidge, Hoover was a product of the Progressive Era – a private sector technocrat who looked for ways to apply industrial design to the economy. [26] In his book, “American Individualism”, Hoover offered the quintessential mindset of Progressivism, “Our mass of regulation of public utilities and our legislation against restraint of trade is the monument to our intent to preserve an equality of opportunity.” [27]

 

Coolidge worried about his counter revolution in the hands of Hoover.  The Republican platform of 1928 proved his worst fears:

 

The mighty contribution to general well-being which can be made by a government controlled by men of character and courage, whose abilities are equal to their responsibilities, is self-evident, and should not blind us to the consequences which its loss would entail.

 

We believe that the Government should make every effort to aid the industry by protection, by removing any restrictions which may be hampering its development, and by increased technical and economic research investigations which are necessary for its welfare and normal development.

 

We stand for the administration of the radio facilities of the United States under wise and expert government supervision.

The Government today is made up of thousands of conscientious, earnest, self-sacrificing men and women, whose single thought is service to the nation.

We pledge ourselves to maintain and, if possible, to improve the quality of this great company of Federal employees. [28]

It only took 52 years to shift from an America driven by small government in rural settings and urban neighborhoods to one that cheered expansion of federal and executive power via the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the Great Society, and the Carter Administration.  In 1980, America once again decided to take stock of what had happened.  It comes as no surprise that one of President Reagan’s first acts was to place the portrait of Calvin Coolidge in the Cabinet Room to inspire his own revolution.

 

 

FOOTNOTES



[3] Ray A. Billington; “American History after 1865” (Littlefield, Adams & Company 1971) p. 165.

[4] Otis L. Graham, Jr.; “Toward a Planned Society” (Oxford University Press 1977) p. 11.

[5] Matthew Josephson; “The Politicos” (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1938) p. 206.

[6] Ibid., p. 220.

[7] Robert H. Wiebe; “The Search for Order 1877-1920” (Hill and Wang 1967) pp. 3-4.


[9] Keith W. Olson, Wood Gray, Richard Hofstadter, “outline of American History (U.S Information Agency 1981) p. 96.

[10] Op. Cit., Billington, p. 72.


[12] Op. Cit., Wiebe, p. 12.

[3] William L. Riordon, “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall” (E.P. Dutton & Co. Inc. 1963). First published in 1905, this is best case study on the double-edged impact of political machines.

[14] Op. Cit., Wiebe, pp.30-31.

[15] Ibid., pp. 133.

[16] Ibid., pp. 113 & 132.

[17] Ibid., p. 143.

[18] Ibid., pp. 155-156.

[19] Ibid., pp. 186-187.

[20] Ibid., p. 195.

[21] Ibid., pp. 294-295.

[22] Amity Shlaes, “Coolidge” (Harper Collins 2013) p.239.

[23] Ibid., pp. 262-272 and 278.

[24] Ibid., p. 273.

[25] Ibid., p. 419.

[26] Amity Shlaes, “The Forgotten Man” (Harper Collins 2007) p. 32.

[27] Ibid., p. 34.


 

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Find the Zebra


[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

Today I am going to write a little bit of a “fringe” blog because of the continued political machinations of the Establishment (including Cruz and Kasich). Right now the entire political arena on the Republican side of the house is being run by the Establishment as the same old same old. Consider this: “The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person's mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled. Subsequently, under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic It just seems that everybody has come to believe the Establishment that they know best and everybody should step aside and let the coronation of their candidate occur. So let’s look at some of the problems with this.

 

For one thing there is a vast majority of the electorate that feel disenfranchised; it’s almost as if they should not have even bothered to vote. Second, the entire Establishment is looking for ways to sabotage Trump – even if he wins the number of delegates necessary to be nominated in the first round. Third, if all else fails, let’s talk about changes to the rules, candidate substitution – including some people who may not have even run for the office this election cycle – whatever. Maybe the Establishment is talking about these things is to make Trump voters give up voting for him because they feel their votes won't count anyway (frustration, intimidation).

 

Another thing: there have been a number of lawsuits filed against Cruz because of his citizenship: http://excessofdemocracy.com/blog/2016/2/status-of-pending-natural-born-citizen-challenges-and-litigation-in-2016-presidential-election The question seems to turn on what it means to be a “natural born citizen.” So let’s look at what the Qualifications for the Office of President are: “Age and Citizenship requirements - US Constitution, Article II, Section 1:  No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States. http://www.presidentsusa.net/qualifications.html

 

The thing that I find curious – and I’m not a constitutional scholar – is that The Constitution never defines who is eligible to run for the office of president – only who “shall be eligible to the office of President!” If you look at of the lawsuits that have been filed, most have failed procedurally. It seems to me this will only be decided after the election – assuming Cruz wins – and whether he is eligible to assume the office – if he wins it!.

 

My conclusion: There is something very wrong with the way we select and fund our candidates. I think the 2016 primary experience should cause us to question the process: I think if nothing else Trump has exposed the political arena and all of its corruptness. Americans should be disgusted that their voting is irrelevant; the wealthy and powerful will decide who the candidate is – regardless of our voting preference. This has become especially clear since the Citizens United lawsuit opened the way for unlimited campaign contributions to Establishment candidates.

 

I have a couple of suggestions for what Mr. Trump needs to do. First, he has got to get ahead of everything and lead – he is leading from behind right now and reacting to the Establishment and Main Street stimuli. He should adapt his delivery. In direct marketing there is a rule called the 40/40/20 Rule: 40% audience, 40% offer, 20% Creative. Others have suggested modifications by splitting the percentage and adding Action. Another proposal was divided across four categories:

“We propose what we'll call the "4-Way Split Rule:" 25 percent audience, 25 percent offer, 25 percent creative, 25 percent technology.” http://www.imediaconnection.com/articles/ported-articles/red-dot-articles/2000/oct/rewriting-dm-rules-for-the-web/ He must repackage his presentation and make Cruz and Kasich irrelevant because he has got the winning message – not only for the electorate, but also for the electors at the Republican Convention. He has got to get out the vote – have a superior ground game. I believe that this election cycle will produce more votes cast than any previous election – both in number and in percentage of registered voters.

 

Finally, medical professionals are taught as students that when presented with symptoms, it’s best to pursue the most likely cause of those symptoms; that is what made the TV series “House” very popular: they would always go look for the bizarre! In medical terminology this is called a zebra: “Zebra is the American medical slang for arriving at an exotic medical diagnosis when a more commonplace explanation is more likely. It is shorthand for the aphorism coined in the late 1940s by Dr. Theodore Woodward, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who instructed his medical interns: ‘When you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras.’” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_%28medicine%29 I think that right now Trump and his team are thinking horses (Establishment) and not zebras (outside of the box solutions)!

 

For example, I would propose that Trump begin floating names for the Office of Vice President. Talk about something that might cause Establishment people to jump out of a window – well, this might do it! Maybe he could open the door to selecting Cruz or Kasich. Probably very impractical, but it would perhaps demonstrate a feeling of forgiveness and open-mindedness. Also, I would drop names (and I’m sure his team has already begun developing his A-List) of somebody who might be female (maybe a Latino like Susana Martinez (NM)). Once again, this is designed to allow him to get ahead of the game – redirect the media thinking and the Establishment – these people would not necessarily be his candidates.

 

There should be two rules which govern his end game on the way to the convention: “…when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally, keep it simple: “Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham….The most useful statement of the principle for scientists is "when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."  http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/occam.html I hope that he finds the zebra!

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Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why Trump Is the Right Man for the Job


[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

I read an interesting article the other day about “Why the #NeverTrump Will Never Work.”

The author states: “But here’s the problem for Bush and Romney and the whole #NeverTrump thing generally: You don’t win campaigns solely by running against somebody else. You have to give voters something — or someone — that they can be for….Instead of shoring up a candidate they could enthusiastically be for, they continued to define themselves by the campaigns they were against, offering support only when it was already clear which way the voters were going….Trump has gotten to where he is by savaging the Republican establishment as expedient and craven — politicians willing to sacrifice any principle to preserve their own power. It’s amazing that Republican leaders seem so hell-bent on proving him right.” https://www.yahoo.com/politics/why-nevertrump-will-never-work-1392133276262454.html

 

In addition to the above article’s conclusion, the larger outcome is giving the White House to the Democrats – because you cannot resolve the intraparty fighting. If Trump isn’t the nominee and if he enters the convention with a plurality of delegates and leaves without the nomination, then my guess is that Trump either becomes a third party candidate or spends an exorbitant amount of time and money urging his supporters to never vote Republican again. Any of the outcomes are bad for the Republican Party – to the point a permanent schism could result which would take probably a decade to resolve.

 

Nate Silver, an articulate and accurate psephologist, predicts that the race will be very close for Trump to secure the necessary 1,237 delegates in the first round of voting. His actual prediction is 1,208; but he may be able to go over the top by securing the vote of the unbound and currently uncommitted delegates. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/will-donald-trump-clinch-the-republican-nomination-before-the-convention/

 

Another great psephologist, Larry Sabato, thinks that Trump will (barely) reach the magic number of 1,237 (at 1,239): “If Trump finishes, say, less than 100 delegates short, but he is still comfortably leading national polls of Republicans and wins statewide victories in places like California and New Jersey on the final day of voting (June 7), it’s hard to see how, practically, he wouldn’t be the nominee. Trump would have far more delegates than his rivals, and he would also be heading into the pre-convention period with major statewide victories. Only if Trump finishes 100 or more delegates short does the contested convention become a more prominent possibility. As we’ve previously stressed, there are a small number of unpledged delegates as well as delegates from other candidates that Trump may or may not able to win over in the interim from June 7 through the opening of the convention on July 18.” http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/

 

“A new poll indicated 63 percent of Republicans think front-runner Donald Trump should get the party’s nomination if he wins the delegate race but falls short of the majority needed to clinch it outright….More than six in 10 voters opted for the plurality candidate over a brokered convention….” http://www.gopusa.com/?p=7690?omhide=true

 

Besides the electorate’s complete disgust with the establishment, there is a sense of restlessness in the air; it’s like the people know that there’s something different going on – but they can’t quite put their finger on it or articulate it: it’s Zeitgeist! There is a need to fill a vacuum that shouldn’t be there. So, with this discussion as a backdrop, let’s discuss why Trump is the right man for the job this election cycle.

 

To understand this I need to present some financial musings. I believe that the number one problem facing America today is the national debt. Currently at approximately $19 trillion (still rising and will be perhaps $23 trillion by 2021), the US government has unfunded liabilities in excess of $123 trillion ($210 trillion by some estimates and still rising). The national debt per person is over $59,000; the unfunded liabilities per person are over $381,000. http://usadebtclock.com/

 

“What's the word for our fiscal situation? Stunning? Shocking? Desperate? In recent testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, in effect, told the Committee that all of these terms are pathetically inadequate to describe our true fiscal situation. In compelling testimony, Kotlikoff argues that the federal fiscal situation is much worse than the CBO estimates let on. The reason is that CBO's debt estimates do not take into account the full financial obligations the government is committed to honor, especially for future payments of Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the debt. He asserts that the federal government should help the public understand the nation's true fiscal situation by using what economists call "the infinite-horizon fiscal gap," defined as the value of all projected future expenditures minus the value of all projected future receipts using a reasonable discount rate.

 

“What difference does the fiscal gap approach make in our understanding of the true federal debt? CBO tells us that the national debt was a little less than $13 trillion in 2014. But the fiscal gap in that year as calculated by Kotlikoff was $210 trillion, more than 16 times larger than the debt estimated by CBO and already judged, by CBO and many others, to be unsustainable. If a $13 billion gap is unsustainable, what term should we apply to a $210 trillion gap? Kotlikoff also calculates that the fiscal gap is equal to about 58 percent of the combined value of all future revenue. Thus, we would need to reduce spending or increase taxes by enough to fill that 58 percent gap if we wanted to put the federal budget on a path to solvency that balances the interests of those now receiving benefits and those who hope to receive benefits in the future.”


 

Consider this horrifying point: mandatory versus discriminatory spending. “Sometime between 2030 and 2040 mandatory spending will exceed government revenues.” https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States#/media/File:GAO_Slide.png. Another startling statistic is that the total debt as a percentage of GDP is 105%.


 

Baby boomers are now retiring in large numbers. That means they will be exiting the workforce; so what? Instead of paying money to the government, they will be receiving money from the government. Instead of spending money, they will probably be saving money. The official unemployment rate is about 5%; the actual number of unemployed people (including long-term, discouraged workers) is about 23%.  http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts


I believe that we are at a nexus in history. This election will probably be one of the most important for at least the next two decades. The most obvious reason is because of the number of Supreme Court appointees; they will influence the judicial process and outcome for at least the next 2 to 3 decades. Another major issue is terrorism and why Americans do not feel safe. Political correctness – need I say more about how it is destroying our society and productivity? Immigration and its impact on not only the workforce but our economic status – pathetic. These and all of the other issues can be handled by Mr. Trump by the appointment of many of his learned associates. The reason Mr. Trump is the right man for the job is because the greatest task at hand is the financial survival of the USA. He possesses the mind – and has demonstrated time and time again – that he understands world markets, productivity, financing, leveraging – all things financial. I don’t understand how a socialist or progressive is even contending in this election – except the electorate doesn’t understand that there is no such thing as Mr. Sanders’ money tree or an inexhaustible supply of billionaires standing in line to pay taxes. Please: Excuse Mr. Trump’s foibles and support somebody who has the leadership skills and ability to bring America back to greatness!

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Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.