Saturday, January 30, 2016

Electorate: Knock! Knock! Establishment: Who’s there?


[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

I would have to say that the title of this blog is what this election cycle is all about. It seems that, “we the people” want to have a voice in who the Republican nominee is; but the Establishment does not want to hear what we have to say. As much as I hate to say it, it appears that the Establishment might win anyway. Regardless of who wins the caucus and primaries, the Establishment candidate’s name may be announced at the convention – even though Republicans may lose the election to the Democratic candidate.

 

After reviewing the statistics on Mr. Trump’s town hall meeting versus the network coverage of the latest debate, I would have to question how much support he may have in a general election. After all, I do not believe that he has been endorsed by any member of Congress yet (this may be a good thing!). Another point concerns just how large the Republican Party is relative to the entire electorate: about one third. The Democratic base is slightly larger, perhaps at 40%. Even if these numbers are not totally correct, you can get the point that a large number of independent voters who are Millennial, Hispanics and other minorities – are not exactly big fans of the Republican Party. Right now, Mr. Trump has a sizable lead over his next closest competitors, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio (Real Clear Politics). When is the light bulb going to go on?

 

The fact of the matter is that the Party and other candidates besides Mr. Trump do not seem to be very well-liked. Because of the large number of candidates now, it does not appear that the Party is directly supporting anyone – except, of course, in a destructive way, Mr. Trump. That seems to be the primary goal: destroy Trump, and then we’ll name an heir apparent. Of course there is always the hope that if Trump wins a few of these primaries, the Republican career politicians (who care more about their careers than the country) will come running to his side to endorse him. One could only hope. But even if that happens, it may be too late for the Republicans to convince a majority of the electorate – which will include conservatives and other members of the Republican base who have been insulted throughout this election cycle – to even give the Democratic candidate a real challenge. There are those who believe that Mr. Trump will destroy the image of the Republican Party; what image? It’s hard to believe that the image could get worse; but if all of the candidates and the Establishment keep talking trash and shredding each other, who could blame the voters for not selecting anybody within the Republican Party?

 

The voters want someone to change the way Republicans and Democrats do business in Washington, DC. The Republicans said that they needed the House to stop Obama. When that didn’t work, they said they needed the Senate – and they got it. Finally, now that they have both the House and Senate, they are crying to the public that they need to control the White House, also. But in the meantime, they have exhibited no leadership and have broken most of their promises. They have squandered their opportunities and created their own political morass. Part of Mr. Trump’s success stems from the fact that he has ignored the Establishment, the main street media – practically everybody – while addressing some of the main factors that are causing frustration and angst in the electorate: immigration, terrorism, corruption and cronyism, a weak foreign policy, shredding the Constitution of the U. S., and so forth.

 

It is very interesting to look at the polls in Real Clear Politics. Right now, Trump and Clinton are barely even within the margin of error. Clinton versus Cruz is pretty even, also within the margin. Overall, Rubio is possibly ahead of Clinton – also within the margin of error. So, as I have said before, I believe the White House belongs to the Republicans – as long as they don’t completely bungle the operation – which it appears they are in the process of doing. Sanders, the Democratic candidate, actually edges Cruz and Trump – but Rubio actually beats Sanders! So at first blush it looks as if Rubio would be the best Republican nominee. So the question is: how does Rubio poll best nationally while losing (potentially) some of the primaries? How do you discount the data that Trump may win the primaries, but that he may lose nationally to both Democratic frontrunners?

 

The Republican Establishment has severely disappointed their supporters; they just don’t get it. It is this Establishment that has created the distrust, anger, feelings of abandonment – and actually has created Donald Trump. The more the Establishment complains about and plots the destruction of Trump (whom the Republican electorate supports), the stronger he gets. If they would only recognize the opportunity they have to capture the White House, coalesce behind him, and support him, the greater the chances are that the entire electorate would select him as the next President. (For example, an availability heuristic could be used to flood the electorate with strong, positive communication about the Republican candidate – including Trump.) 

 

Let me close with a fanciful scenario to this unpredictable election season. Remember, this is just something to “noodle” on while the primaries sort themselves out. What if Hillary Clinton is prosecuted – or faces legal hurdles that are so insurmountable that it cripples her run for the Presidency? In other words Bernie Sanders becomes front runner. Then, let’s assume that Trump prevails in the primaries, and the Republican Establishment resigns itself to that result. Or, the Republican Establishment decides to torpedo Mr. Trump (somehow, maybe brokered convention?), and selects Rubio as the nominee – after all, right now he has the best chance of beating either Democratic candidate. And then, just for the fun of it, let’s say that the Democratic Party convinces Joe Biden to enter the race because they perceive a loss of the White House. Trump or Rubio vs. Clinton or Sanders? And along comes Joe. Knock! Knock! Who’s there?

____________________________________
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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 Fantasy Election


[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

This is a fascinating election! The people, the electorate, have basically forced the Establishment element of both parties to actually consider their input during this nomination process. I say that tongue-in-cheek because the people are clamoring, but the Establishment is not listening – and it is beginning to become more evident in both parties that this is true. It is a tragedy that big money has more influence over the process than the entire population of the United States of America.

It is amazing to read the myriad of articles disparaging Donald Trump. People calling him a carnival barker, a performer, hateful, loud mouthed, bigoted – the list goes on and on. The truth of the matter is that the electorate is ready to throw the nonperforming, nonresponsive, professional politicians out of office – and the Establishment is scared and crying like a bunch of babies. The main street media bears a lot of responsibility in this perception. A large majority of the population is having an adverse reaction to the continuous bias of the media who are ignoring journalism and writing opinions masquerading as journalism – and creating an atmosphere of entertainment rather than presenting real-world problems and asking for intelligent solutions. The pre-election season resembles more of a contest than an attempt to cull the nominees by setting criteria and selecting the most qualified candidate.

Poll after poll are presented in an attempt to sway people’s opinions to their candidate. People want to vote for a winner – not a loser. It makes sense except that the polls are so skewed and biased, that it is difficult – if not impossible – to really determine who’s ahead. Take this poll for example: “The study posited that voters, when interviewed by pollsters via telephone, are reluctant to admit their support for a controversial candidate whose critics have painted him as racist. In self-administered online interviews, on the other hand, they will be more likely to admit their support. And that will more likely reflect their eventual decision in the privacy of a voting booth…. Overall, the study found that Trump performs about six percentage points better in online surveys compared with those conducted by phone. In a sample of nearly 3,000 Republican voters, the Morning Consult study found that Trump garnered 38% support with online respondents, 36% with respondents who were robo-called, and 32% among live-interviewed voters.” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/theory-going-around-donald-trump-001457776.html  And this was not even an attempt to intentionally misrepresent a poll!

I labeled this article the Fantasy Election for a reason. I’m going to advance a scenario – just for the fun of it! The idea occurred to me when I read this article: “Donald Trump may have eased some Republican fears Tuesday night when he declared his intention to stay inside the party. But if their angst has been temporarily eased at the prospect of what he would do if he loses, they still face a far more troubling, and increasingly plausible, question. What happens to the party if he wins?This is not the usual rhetoric of intraparty battles, the kind of thing that gets resolved in handshakes under the convention banners. These are stake-in-the-ground positions, strongly suggesting that a Trump nomination would create a fissure within the party as deep and indivisible as any in American political history, driven both by ideology and by questions of personal character. Indeed, it would be a fissure so deep that, if the operatives I talked with are right, Trump running as a Republican could well face a third-party run—from the Republicans themselves.” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/12/donald-trump-2016-third-party-bid-213449  Can you fathom the arrogance of this action after all of the hoopla surrounding making Trump give a promise that he would not run as a third-party candidate? Unbelievable.

Now, let’s look at the Democratic side of the aisle. What was first thought to be a runaway nomination for Hillary Clinton now looks as if Bernie may not only catch her, but he might beat her! For example: “Did you know that there’s a Democratic presidential primary too? Sure, Hillary Clinton maintains a big lead in national polls and has all the endorsements. Sure, she’s almost certainly going to win the nomination. But if I were running the Clinton campaign, I’d still be a little nervous. Clinton’s lead in Iowa isn’t safe; Bernie Sanders could win the caucuses. And with expectations for her as high as they are, a Clinton loss in Iowa (or even an underwhelming win) would cause her campaign a lot of heartache.” http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bernie-sanders-can-still-catch-hillary-clinton-in-iowa/

All of the aforementioned was a very small fingernail sketch so that I could present my main theme. What if, on November 8, 2016, the ballot looked like this: Republican Party: Donald Trump; Republican Party, third party candidate: Marco Rubio; Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton; Democratic Party, third-party candidate: Bernie Sanders. Assuming all of the normal constitutional processes have been met, all candidates are registered in every state, etc., what if this became the selection for the American people and what would it mean?

Almost assuredly it would go to the U. S. House of Representatives: “The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation….Most states have a ‘winner-take-all’ system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate….After the presidential election, your governor prepares a ‘Certificate of Ascertainment’ listing all of the candidates who ran for President in your state along with the names of their respective electors. The Certificate of Ascertainment also declares the winning presidential candidate in your state and shows which electors will represent your state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year.” http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html
Now the big question: “What happens if no presidential candidate gets 270 Electoral votes? If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. The Senate would elect the Vice President from the 2 Vice Presidential candidates with the most Electoral votes. Each Senator would cast one vote for Vice President. If the House of Representatives fails to elect a President by Inauguration Day, the Vice-President Elect serves as acting President until the deadlock is resolved in the House.” http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/faq.html#no270

I have called this a Fantasy Election because Bernie Sanders will probably not run as a third-party candidate. What a shame – this could have been a very interesting race! (p.s., I won’t even discuss the possibility of a split-ticket for the vice president!)

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, December 21, 2015

Please, Republicans: Stop It!



[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]


From NRSC Senior Staff operative, Ward Baker, “Observations on Donald Trump and 2016:
 “The place is Cleveland, Ohio. The date is July 21, 2016 and Donald Trump has just accepted the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States.” Wow! https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/politics/memo-on-donald-trump-from-ward-baker-to-nrsc-senior-staff/1898/
In my mind, in his memorandum of September 22, 2015, Mr. Baker is the first person as a senior Republican Party operative to actually present an intelligent analysis on how to win the presidential election. Even though this memorandum presents recommendations for potential Senate candidates, it should have been addressed to the Republican Party in general. Mr. Baker has captured the essence of what this election is all about: “…this time it is harder to predict an outcome because of the volatility of the electorate. Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, firm,--- and believe he can’t be bought.” I have written a couple of other CitizenOversight postings about this topic before; I still believe that there has been a paradigm shift in the electorate in this election cycle.
Mr. Baker makes several recommendations for other Republican office seekers if Mr. Trump is the nominee. I found this to be especially important because it is how all of the presidential candidates should be conducting themselves. If the other presidential candidates keep making insulting, derogatory comments about each other, no Republican nominee will win; the electorate will be poisoned by their own negativity. After all, who wants to vote for a nominee whose own party won’t support him? Here are some of the more salient points of Mr. Baker’s memo: “People talk about problems, not issues. So, focus on problems and not issues and offer your solutions. Avoid Washington-speak (legislation, bills, insider talk) in favor of Main Street common sense …. Understand the Changing Environment and Recalibrate Now. The Trump phenomenon exists because Washington politicians promise change, but don’t deliver. Your job is to deliver.
Another excellent observation made by Mr. Baker: “Trump Can Hit the Right Chord. We may not like it, but Trump has connected with voters on issues like trade with China and America’s broken borders.” How about this one for a very common sense observation: “Trump Rises Because People Understand Him…. Don’t insult key voter cohorts by ignoring that America has significant problems and that Trump is offering some basic solutions. Understand the populist points that Trump makes and ride that wave.” I call this one, “Don't throw the baby (the winning strategy) out with the bathwater (Mr. Trump)”! The Establishment has become so fixated on denying Mr. Trump the nomination that they’ve lost sight of the primary mission: win the White House!
Continuing, it just keeps getting better! How about this for a winning strategy: “We Can’t Afford to Depress the GOP Vote. Spending full-time criticizing our own nominee will ensure that the GOP vote is depressed. That will only serve to topple GOP candidates at every level.” And one final nugget of wisdom: “Covering the Trump Bet. Conventional wisdom has counted Trump out on several occasions. But, Trump continues to rise and the criticisms seem to make him stronger. Trump has been gaining Democratic adherents and he’s solidifying GOP cohorts who feel they have been totally ignored by the Washington Ruling Class. If the environment aligns properly, Trump could win. It’s not a bet most would place now, but it could happen.”
We are now at the end of a two term Democratic administration. I’m not going to say anything about that, but I will say that Mr. Trump has changed the campaigning landscape in several ways. For one thing he refuses to be intimidated by the media, Democratic Party – even his fellow candidates and the entire dissenting Republican Party. Secondly, he has exposed many of his running mates to be the RINO cowards they are. Say what you will, but Mr. Trump is a leader – and that’s what the country needs now. Third, the party has historically chosen the candidate; but this cycle it appears that voters will have more of a say in who the candidate is.
The GOP establishment is desperate and doing everything they can to derail him. Once again they are proving that they are the masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. There are so many divisions within the electorate; there are so many signals that change is coming; there are so many turf wars; and most important – there is no leadership within the party to unite and back one candidate. Say what you will, but Mr. Trump sees the big picture – and reacts to it – like a leader should – even though it is politically incorrect and perhaps unpopular.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Mr. Trump decides to run as a third-party candidate. I believe that he has held up his end of the bargain; and I believe that the Republican Party – and his fellow candidates – have continued to disparage, belittle, and criticize him – thereby opening the way for him to run without violating his agreement. In a way – although it would hand the presidency to the Democrats – it might cause the existent Republican Party to become a rump organization – thereby allowing a true, moderately conservative political party to become the Phoenix that will be successful in the next presidential election. I hope that the Republican establishment realizes this could be a possibility and quits the campaign to stop his candidacy; they need to listen to the people, get behind him, quit carping, and move on with a strategy to capture the White House.
Another candidate may overtake Mr. Trump or he may lose on his own. However, he now leads in all of the primaries (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/) The GOP establishment is going to be at a crossroads in the very near future: what do we do if Mr. Trump wins all of the primaries? It could happen – and if it does, they should be focusing on getting voters into the booths to pull the lever for Mr. Trump as the Republican nominee. I hope that somebody like Mr. Baker gets a larger voice in the final decision!


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.

Friday, November 6, 2015

MAKING ETHICS YOUR LIFE’S MISSION

Keynote Address for the Convocation of the American College of Dentists
Washington, DC; November 5, 2015


The advantage of discussing ethics is that there is always fresh material. People and organizations constantly find new ways to disappoint.


Just this week, the federal government imposed the largest civil penalty in its history – $200 million on Takata for defective air bags. Earlier, company officials tried to comfort consumers stating that their air bags only exploded in humid weather.


Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated, “Takata built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to its customers or the public. The result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history.”


Last month, General Motors paid $900 million in fines and settlements for fatal accidents caused by faulty ignition systems.


GM’s CEO admitted, “People were hurt and people died in our cars.”


Also last month, Volkswagen was caught using something called a “defeat device” to pass federal and state emissions tests while emitting up to 40 times the legal limit.


Volkswagen had to pay fines of $7.9 billion in Europe and is paying an additional $3.6 billion in claims in America. This illegal practice was used for six years before being discovered.


In September, the CEO of Turning Pharmaceuticals increased the price of a critically important medication by 5,000 percent stating they had to make a normal profit. The public outcry forced a retreat on this price.


As recently as October 23, the CEO was portraying himself as a martyr saying he was doing people a favor by putting his drug out of reach, “Nobody wants a seven year old drug. They don’t want six month old phones”. I guess he hasn’t heard of Aspirin.        


A few weeks ago, the National Football League proudly announced that September was the first calendar month since 2009 that no active NFL player was arrested.


This brings us to being here in Washington, DC, the epicenter of unethical behavior.


Recent polls show trust in government to be the lowest ever. According to the Gallup Poll, over 60 percent of Americans think our Federal Government is fundamentally corrupt.


This perception is definitely based on reality. It would take the rest of this evening to catalogue what sordid and corrupt things happen in any given month in this town.


Let’s focus on the ethical challenges within Dentistry. This last May, Dalhousie University’s Dental Program had to confront immoral behavior and sex scandals among its graduating class.


Also in May, a Florida dentist was forced to close his practice after a class action suit accused him of torture and abuse of child patients. He was also under investigation by the State of Florida for Medicaid fraud


This June, Medicaid fraud investigators uncovered $191 million in unallowable orthodontic services in Texas. Dentists were putting braces on the teeth of thousands of poor children who didn't need them. Ninety percent of those procedures were against state rules.


One of the few times a dentist led national news was in July when a Minnesota Dentist paid poachers to lure a famous lion away from a wildlife preserve in order to shoot it.


This last case shows your challenge is to bring honor to all aspects of your life. As a leader of your profession, you must be a role model beyond the office.


Ethical lapses seem to be getting worse with broader impact.


What is going on?


WE LIVE IN AN AMORAL AGE.


Not immoral – AMORAL


We live in an age where morals and ethics are not factored into actions – period.


Many only ask “can we do it”, instead of “should we do it”.


At the heart of AMORALITY is only focusing on compliance with laws and regulations.


A person or company pursing AMORAL Compliance without ethical or moral standards loses not only their rudder, they lose their keel.


AMORAL compliance means - when costs need to be cut, or processes expedited, compliance gives way to parsing the law or creative interpretations of the law.


A functionary in Tammany Hall, the 19th Century political machine that ran New York, famously mused, “What is the Constitution among friends?”
This is the essence of AMORALITY.


There is no fast lane to power or riches – unless AMORALITY guides the way. The reason Washington is synonymous with deceit and corruption is that so many people in this city have lost their way. The enticements overwhelm the mission to the point of becoming the mission. Nothing gets done, but everyone on the inside lines their pockets, build their influence, and find ways to cover their tracks.


AMORALITY is not just the domain of politicians.


Too many people; too many companies; embrace AMORALITY.


Their fig leaf is compliance.


They think rudimentary compliance is all that is needed to get through life. As long as the paper trail says we did the right thing – the right thing happened.


The fundamental flaw is that too many start to think compliance is a game they can beat.


Unfortunately for us, most get away with gaming the system, and doing real harm, before they are discovered and brought to justice.


Think of the list of recent examples we just heard. In every case, someone in charge weighed the odds and the costs of real compliance versus going through the motions compliance. There was just enough wiggle room between the law and their reality to cut a corner. The rest is darkness.


Ethics is not something you can charge off on a balance sheet.


Once you approach your work, your patients, your friends, your life, as a series of actions only governed by a set of regulations you have lost your way.


Those who succeed; those who earn and maintain trust; those who build and keep a solid reputation; do not think of compliance – they think of Aspiration.


Compliance should not just be the ceiling you bump up against. Compliance should be the floor from which you strive for excellence.


Here is one more example.


On September 19, a Georgia jury convicted the CEO of American Peanut Company of knowingly allowing tainted food to enter our stores and kill eight people.


It was the first federal felony conviction for a company executive relating to food safety.


Compare this with Hershey Foods - Their sole focus, on a daily basis, is creating products people can trust.


Hershey Foods has provided the world with candy since 1903. I was lucky enough to lead a four-year consulting engagement among their seventeen plants. The aroma therapy alone was worth it.


The difference between Hershey Foods and the Peanut Company of America is Hershey’s obsession with ethics. Every Hershey plant is like an echo chamber of reminders that Hershey products are consumed by children and that every Hershey employee should make candy as if they were taking it home to their own families.


Hershey figured out how to put ethics into their daily routine and hard wire it into their culture.


Here is one way you can be like Hershey - Every one of us manages a personal reputation bank.


We make deposits when we consistently meet the needs of our customers, clients, or patients.


We earn interest when we collaborate with members of our practice and partner with our patients to achieve life-long health.


We expand our capabilities when we recognize and value the input of everyone on our team, including administrative staff.


Our reputation bank can remain healthy and profitable for our entire lives, but only if we understand the lessons of Hershey.


At the heart of every successful organization or person, is an ethical culture. Ethics is not just something you should embrace because it is a “good thing”. For successful companies, and practices,


Ethics is a business imperative. Ethics is a competitive advantage. Ethics builds customer loyalty.


Ethics helps you survive in troubled times. Alternately, Ethical lapses break the connection with your customers and colleagues. Not honoring commitments, arbitrary actions, shoddy workmanship, all destroy the bonds of trust. Trust, once violated, is almost impossible to rebuild.


Erosion of trust then drains deposits and profits from your reputation bank. When ethical lapses become a dominant pattern, grow harmful, or allow lying, cheating, and stealing - there will be a run on your reputation bank. The world is littered with empty reputation banks – just look at carcasses of Enron, Lehman Brothers, Worldcom, Qwest, Tyco, and FREDDIE MAC. In each case - executives thought they could game the system and outsmart reality, but reality eventually won. Violations of ethics are like tweeting, texting, or posting on Facebook – you can delete, but you can’t erase.


You may remove the immediate evidence, but the reality of your actions never goes away.


You are now members of the American College of Dentists. You were chosen because your peers saw you embodying the best of your profession. You are now leaders in promoting the highest ethical standards in dentistry


Think about what it takes to be a leader of ethics. Excellence is not about compliance. It is about aspiring to be the very best and to serve as a role model – not only to your peers, but to colleagues in all professions and to businesses in your community.


Think about the examples of failure you have heard. How many ways did leaders and their teams lose their way? How many ways did a compliance mentality lead to gaming the system?


Now think of Hershey. Think of companies and organizations in your own community that you admire. Find the common thread. At its heart will be people aspiring to be the very best. These are the people who understand and have mastered management of their relationship bank.


Think of how you can be a dentist with a practice that is a role model for others.


From this day forward that is your life’s mission.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Donald Trump and Ben Carson: The Winning Ticket?



[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]


I have to confess that I do not understand the mentality of the Republican leadership.  It appears that they are more interested in losing the election than supporting Donald Trump.  It also appears that the majority of people who are professionally involved in politics that their real loyalty is to themselves or to people that will benefit them. Professional politics has become a way of life; and all of them are more interested in staying in power, whether as an elected politician, as a political pundit or political commentator. Anything that might disrupt the status quo must be fought.  This, unfortunately, leads to an outcome in which the Republican Party becomes noncompetitive in national elections.
Donald Trump is a businessman – a very good businessman.  He has made a lot of money over the years because he understands the economy, human relationships, commercial and industrial processes as an owner and investor.  He knew he would have to stay on the good side of the politicians on both sides of the aisle; that is why he has such a diverse pattern of contributions to both Democrats and the Republicans.  Now, it seems that they have turned on him. They no longer want to have contact with him because he is gaining traction with the electorate and threatening to do away with “business as usual.”


Voters are tired of candidate bashing. Candidate bashing has always turned out to be deceptive and a way for one individual to get their 15 minutes of fame. I would guess that if each candidate’s focus had been on the common enemy – the Democratic candidates – Trump would never have had the platform that he now has. But instead, they attack each other and lose sight of the brass ring – the White House. The ineptitude of the Congress is also fueling the anger that is now surfacing; if the Republican controlled Congress would only keep their promises, Trump would probably not resonate so clearly with the voters. The media is not creditable in the eyes of most (informed) voters; and the promises of career politicians who only want more power, money, and backroom games and influence are dampening any chance of a Republican victory. The result is that the Republican establishment is going insane trying to derail The Donald!


The RINOs are doing everything they can to take the focus off of Trump. I truly believe that most of the GOP base is looking for reasons to revolt. It is the “same old – same old” because the majority of the candidates are calcified bureaucrats or career politicians being managed by RINOs and consultants who espouse non-winning strategies. Establishment favorites of the politically connected seem to be terrified that they will lose their influence in the decision-making process – and rightly so.  However, many of the conservatives are disgruntled with the Party's officeholders; and they are angry about immigration, trade and a whole lot of other agenda items that the incumbents have pooh-poohed.
And it’s not just Republicans; it is a lot of ordinary Americans who are concerned because regular politicians aren’t addressing the issues they are concerned about. I wrote in a previous blog (2/11/2013): “The more studious historians will, of course, have many explanations of why elections are won and lost: employment or unemployment; interest rates; tax policies; disposable income and voting one's “wallet”; monetary policies; balance of trade; deficit reduction; quantitative easing; wars; the list goes on and on.  And I agree with them: there have got to be logical, motivating factors that drive people to the polls to vote for one candidate or the other. But I also thought about the cyclical swings: today a Republican, tomorrow a Democrat. This mood of the country – the zeitgeist – manifests itself in the actual electoral outcome….”


It appears, statistically, that the electoral outcome is primed for a Republican victory.  All the Republican Party needs to do is stop fighting with each other and herd the cats into the voting booths to pull the lever for whoever the Republican nominee is.  Why the leaders do not recognize the sentiment of the public is unknown – but sad.  Currently, both Trump and Carson are polling in double digits; all of the other candidates – 14 of them - are in single digits and trailing by a wide margin! 


The image of the Republican Party needs to be vastly improved, also; it will never happen in today’s mileau. I am hopeful that the power structure of the Republican Party will recognize that there has been an electoral paradigm shift, and they take that knowledge with them when they do their planning on how to win a national election. Regardless of who the final nominee is, I hope that the voters – conservatives and moderates – coalesce and recognize that the only way to recapture the White House is to put aside their petty differences and vote Republican – any Republican! Period.


Conclusion: “The lessons to be learned: 1) Barring voter registration fraud, stuffing the ballot box, and the Republicans managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, political hysteresis smiles favorably upon a Republican Party win in 2016. 2) It appears that voters generally prefer a Republican as President; they just need a Democrat once in a while to remind them why….”


____________________________________


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.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

BUDGET BACCHANAL 2015

Also published at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/budget-bacchanal-2015/article/2571132 and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/budget-bacchanal-scot-faulkner?trk=prof-post


The biggest fiasco of the year is about to occur. No, it is not a Presidential debate. It is the travesty of the budget battle for Fiscal 2016.


The budget battle will begin in earnest after Labor Day. Republicans will take things to the brink without a strategy or preparing their case for frugality. This is a recipe for disaster.


Republicans have been in charge of the entire Legislative Branch since their landslide victory on November 4, 2014. When Members of Congress adjourned for their five-week August Recess not one Appropriation Bill had passed. The House had passed only six of the required twelve Appropriation bills. The Senate had not taken one vote. After eight years of telling voters Republicans could govern better than Democrats the budgetary results are actually worse.


When Congress reconvenes on September 8, 2015 it will have only ten legislative days to avoid a government shut down or continuing resolution. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also formally requested another raise in the Debt Ceiling. What have they been doing for nine months?


So far there has only been posturing about defunding federal support of Planned Parenthood and somehow punishing the Environmental Protection Agency for its obtuse overreach. The collective fiscal impact of these actions is microscopic. No Republican, not even any of the Presidential candidates, is offering real solutions to reining-in rampant government spending and debt.


At the same time, federal agencies are proceeding with their annual rite of spending over a third of their budgets in the last three months of the fiscal year. Each year, potential savings evaporate in an orgy of expedited procurements and questionable spending during the mad dash to spend every penny before midnight on September 30. No efforts at frugality here; agencies would rather guard their budgetary turf than save money for taxpayers.


Even Tony Scott, Obama’s Chief Information Officer for the Executive Branch, has called out his colleagues declaring the year end spending binge, “a mad dash to load up the shopping carts”. No Republican has raised their voice against year-end spending. Holding agencies to spending only 25 percent of their funds in the 4th quarter would save $105 billion a year.


It gets worse – the brinksmanship over spending and raising the debt ceiling ignores a set of mind boggling facts.
  • Nearly a trillion dollars in unobligated funds are hiding in plain sight. Page 11, Table 1, of the Office of Management and Budget’s spreadsheets for assets and balances lists $909,122,000,000 as unspent and unobligated. President Obama is the first President since Lyndon Johnson to not require a “budget sweep” to return these orphaned funds to general use. There is no reason for a debt ceiling increase when they could resolve the matter by a push of a button.
  • There is $650 billion dollars in annual documented waste that could guide budget cuts. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), and 73 Agency and Department Inspector Generals, publish an average of 9,000 reports every year that document this waste to specific accounts and programs. These public reports also provide specific recommendations for how to stop the ongoing hemorrhaging of tax dollars. In 2015, the House Appropriators held 128 hearings relating to agency funding requests. Only four of those hearings included Inspector Generals. None included the GAO. None of these hearings included outside oversight groups who document and publicize government waste.
  • None of the House passed Appropriation bills call for hiring freezes or any slowdown in expanding the number of bureaucrats. Each year the Federal Executive Branch loses over 60,000 employees to retirements or voluntary departures. There was not one single hearing by Republicans to discuss ways to stop the treadmill of filling every vacancy no matter how obsolete or redundant. Federal agencies have 9 to 23 layers of management between front line workers and top officials. Are every one of these layers and every functionary needed? Republicans have never asked this question. An across the board hiring freeze would save $350 billion a year.
Let the games begin!


[Scot Faulkner served as Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and on President Reagan’s White House Staff.]

Saturday, August 15, 2015

TIME TO REUNIFY KOREA

Co-authored with Dr. Jai Ryu


This also appeared at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/time-to-reunify-korea/article/2570035 and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/time-reunify-korea-scot-faulkner?trk=prof-post


August 15, 2015 is the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of modern Korea. It is time for some new thinking about reuniting the two Koreas.


Long before last century's partition, Korea had been a unified people since 676 A.D., and flourished in peace for over twelve hundred years. It was only the Allies' actions at the end World War II that tore this longstanding civilization apart.


On March 24, 2014, President Park Geunhye became the first South Korean leader to make reunification a priority. In her "Dresden Speech", she drew parallels to how the German people benefited from reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall, "As I ponder on where a united Germany stands today and where the Korean Peninsula seems headed next year — namely 70 years of division — I find myself overwhelmed by the sheer weight of history … the images of one Germany encourage those of us in Korea to cement our hope and our conviction that unification must also come on the Korean Peninsula."


But how can the dream of reunification become reality?


The world needs to embrace a new dialogue about the inevitability and desirability of reuniting the Korean Peninsula. Leaders across the DMZ and the political spectrum need to think more about people instead of power.


Time is critical. Every year, over 3,800 South Korean citizens pass away without knowing the fate of their loved ones in the North. President Park wants family reunification to be the first substantive and humane step towards re-engagement. Even the years of estrangement between the U.S. and Cuba allowed divided families to interact. Reuniting Korean families should be a priority among international organizations, and the nations participating in the Six Party Talks.


Creating co-prosperity is another action transcending ideology for the greater good. China understood this when it established Special Economic Zones in August 1980. North Korea is already reaching out for foreign investment and knowledge. They have established their own version of SEZs. The challenge is whether North Korean SEZs will stimulate real economic reform and openness, as in China, or be a cynical attempt to exploit Western naiveté and steal resources, as with Lenin's New Economic Policy in the USSR during the 1920s.


President Park is willing to take that chance and lead South Korea into an economic partnership with North Korea. South Korean companies could become major employers of North Koreans. These companies could also begin the long process of improving North Korea's infrastructure. Viable roads, rails and bridges are needed to support the supply chains to support successful SEZ factories.


South Korea is realistic about co-prosperity. The Kaeson Industrial Region failed in 2013 because the North Korean government expected South Korean companies to act like parastatals and become another cog in communism. The new North Korean SEZs will be based upon lessons learned from Kaeson.


Another learning curve is occurring with the Choson Exchanges. In this case, North Korea is sending some of their "best and brightest", especially women, to China, Indonesia and other Asian countries to learn about private sector management. They need western companies in the SEZs so they can apply their new knowledge.


The Soviets failed when they tried to append capitalist principles to dysfunctional state-run industries and unrealistic five-year plans. North Korea needs to understand the truism that state-run companies will fail no matter how many outside ideas are introduced. Underlying statist principles absorb and destroy free market ideas like white cells attacking infection. Only through credible and viable SEZs will North Koreans realize the benefits of these early forays into the world beyond their borders.


Beyond SEZs, North Korea should be open to South Korean partnerships to fully realize the potential of its vast natural wealth. North Korea has reserves of more than 200 mineral types distributed over 80% of its territory. Developing these natural resources could dramatically increase the wealth of North Korea. South Korea and China would benefit from access to these minerals. Revenue from mineral exports could fund improvements in the North's agriculture that would bring real nutrition to its people.


The bottom line is that China and South Korea have a vested interest in bringing North Korea into the family of nations. Real economic development will improve the health and well-being of the North Korean people. Reuniting families and opening economic exchange would be the first steps toward reuniting an ancient culture, benefitting the region and the world. Openness and interaction offer North Koreans a better future than living in an isolated pariah state.


Dr. Jai Ryu is the founder of One Dream One Korea and professor emeritus at Loyola University Maryland; Scot Faulkner served as Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and as a Member of the Reagan White House staff. He is Senior Advisor to One Dream One Korea.