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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"RESISTANCE" AND THE ATTACK ON THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS


The politically inspired social chaos that has taken over the first several weeks of the new presidential administration is a disorganized protest movement spread by the national media and its status driven and undisciplined internet journal and social media junior partners.  Self characterized as “resistance”, the movement has been legitimized by the minority political party in the Congress whose presidential and congressional candidates were rejected by voters in a free and fair election. Claims to the contrary, “Comey’s letter”; and “Russian interference”, lack any credible evidence to support any electoral dynamic other than the usual comparison of the two candidates which led to personal choices made by millions of individual voters.

But the cumulative effect of these choices, Republican Party control of the presidency and the Congress, is now being rejected by self styled “activists” and “resisters” who simply don’t agree with the outcomes and the rejection of the liberal policies of the last eight years. The Democrats as a national party and in the Congress are leaderless thus ceding the character of any message to a grab bag of grievance groups who themselves have no leadership abilities or motivations, just shouts about what they are “against”, and useless platitudes about what they are ‘for’.

The assumption of moral and intellectual superiority which was a part of the failed campaign of the liberal party in the elections, is now coupled with petulance and hate, energizing the protest movement across the nation but compromising any broad based political strategy for  the Democratic caucus in the Congress.

Taken as a whole, the avowed tactics are to reject every nomination, executive order, and public policy legislative initiative out of hand, no matter what its purpose, content or value, all in an irrational and emotional display intended to falsely empower the losers.

Few in either party would deny that President Trump is an outspoken, brash and often disagreeable new kind of president. He has a steep learning curve with respect to the complexities of the legislative process and the realities and culture of international relations.  He has a “nationalist” versus an “internationalist” orientation which is a departure from the preceding administrations and a significant departure from the Obama presidency. He questions the compatibility and national security implications of many of the components of multi-culturalism in relation to the national well being and confronts the blind acceptance of political correctness which allows no such questions.

His recent executive orders imposing immigration suspensions on seven terrorist prone nations may well be impractical and ineffective with regard to the incidence of domestic terrorism but their future will be appropriately decided as a matter of law by federal judges and not in the streets by uninformed protesters.

Thus the common thread for the disparate protests, marches, speeches and editorials seems not to be political “resistance” but the personal vilification of President Trump himself. There is no restraint, no level of exaggeration or common decency that hasn’t been crossed.

“Dictator”, “fascist”, “abomination”, “crazy”, is the new “political discourse” encouraged by the Left.  Show biz celebrity Madonna’s widely circulated confession that she wanted to “blow up the White House” was just the precursor for truly “deranged” hate.  Quasi-obscure stand-up comedienne Sarah Silverman called for a military coup against President Trump, recently echoed by a former political appointee to the Obama Defense Department, Rosa Brooks who claimed the President is “crazy” and one possibility is a military coup to remove him from office.
There is no shortage of political “experts” in show business.  Former sit down comedian John Stewart, apparently missing his platform for spewing viciousness thinly disguised as humor, made a guest appearance on ABC’s Late Night to label President Trump’s first few days in the White House as “purposeful vindictive chaos” and to mock his ties and hair.

In truth, despite bad “stage management”, what Trump has been doing so far has been fulfilling the campaign promises that got him elected. It’s all there on his campaign web sites and in his campaign speeches.  Enhancing border security and restrictions on illegal immigration and threats from Islamic extremism; reduction of the regulatory burden imposed on businesses; rebuilding the military; repairing the flawed Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and nominating a constitutional constructionist to the Supreme Court.

While widely disparaged by the Left during the campaign these promises were not the subject of hysteria as they are now since the Democratic Left didn’t take Trump or his platform seriously.  He was treated more as a side show than a serious opponent to the entitled and “inevitable” “first woman president”. But when their false reality was blown up on November 9th, the hysteria became overwhelming and the political theater of “resistance” began.

 Reality check: Despite his flaws, Trump is the President.  Would these ideologically imprisoned “resisters” put  the national government on hold for four years while they wait for a second chance to take control?  There is no logical thinking underlying this opposition. The nation is witnessing an enormous, immature temper fit.

The Democrats, aided by the aforementioned liberal establishments in the media, academia, and entertainment world, offered their political philosophy, policy preferences, and vision for the nation’s future to the voters and they were rejected under the constitutional system the Congress and the states have accepted since the beginnings of the Republic. Now they and the protesters seem to trying to redo the campaign.

Do the Democrats and their radical supporters in the press and the streets really believe that  the winners will now acquiesce in the face of protests and obstructionism and allow the losers to govern by proxy?  What the nation is witnessing is an assault on the democratic process.  Protest and obstructionism are of course constitutionally protected rights, but devoid of responsibility they are destructive and when carried to the extreme, the result is fringe anarchy from which America loses its standing in the world as a model of representative democracy.

This model is based on a fundamental concept, the “loyal opposition” which has withstood political divisions for centuries both before and after the American Civil War which was its greatest test. It is characterized by the “peaceful transfer of power” and an underlying system of core values including the “rule of law” and acceptance of political outcomes.  The next generation of voters, who are children are being used as tools in protests and the next generation of leaders currently in colleges and universities, are being indoctrinated in the anti-democratic politics of rejection.

Democrats in the Congress can’t claim that their Republican colleagues didn’t win the popular vote. Each Republican member of the House won the majority vote in his district and each Republican Senator won the majority vote in his state. Donald Trump won the popular vote in thirty of the fifty states and became President under our constitutional system, in spite of the fact that Hillary was elected “president of California”, giving her the national, and irrelevant, popular vote.

Still, Democrats in Congress have labeled Trump as “illegitimate” and attempted to obstruct all of President Trump’s cabinet nominees, an effort which has mostly failed for lack of Republican defectors. Now they have vowed to reject Trump’s nominee to fill the seat left empty on the Supreme Court by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch currently sitting on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is extraordinarily qualified with degrees from Harvard, Yale and Oxford. His colleagues and students at the University of Colorado School of Law attest to his stable demeanor and welcoming personality.  Yet the Senate Democrats, petulant over the Republican controlled Senate’s refusal to hold hearings on Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee because he was in the last year of his presidency, vow to deny Judge Gorsuch the seat.  Some want to keep the seat empty until the 2020 presidential election, hoping that a Democrat will replace Trump. Others are demanding that Trump nominate a “mainstream” judge which in this case is simply code for another Justice committed to the liberal litmus tests of unfettered abortion rights, pro-organized labor statutes, radical environmental regulations against private businesses, and open borders.

Neither of President Obama’s two appointments, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor fit the description of “mainstream” and both are reliably liberal votes. Neither was filibustered by Republican Senators during their confirmation processes and both won confirmation with Republican votes.

Adding to the hypocrisy of the Senate Democrats rejection attempt of Judge Gorsuch is the fact that he was unanimously approved (by voice vote) by Senate Democrats in 2006 for his seat on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Included in those Senators expressing their approval were then Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden and and current Minority Leader, Charles Schumer.

So now, unless Democrats in the Congress can put aside their anger at having lost the presidential election and control of both the House and Senate, and revisit the historical and stabilizing role of “ loyal opposition”, the political future for the American people looks bleak.
This concept does not require political acquiescence but it does require acceptance of legitimate political outcomes for the legislative and appointive process based on majority rule.

The political culture of the nation as a whole is also destined to be a culture of protest and anger with the prospect of escalating violence as extremist elements are emboldened and penetrate these demonstrations. The need for politically responsible leadership from high visibility Democrats who are now preaching hate and “resistance” to redefine political opposition as having a component of civility and respect for the political process is vital.  Anything less portends the transition of the American democracy to the instability and tribal-like conflict so common in the Third World. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

THE WOMANS MARCH ON WASHINGTON: GET MAD; HAVE FUN; GO HOME



The New York Times declared it a “ringing success”, a not surprising conclusion from their politically liberal viewpoint.  And after all, a street event by a couple of hundred thousand angry women who didn’t break any windows or torch any cars is a success of sorts. But if it was a political rally or protest, what was it a success at?  

Successful political protests have a political objective which brings about political change.  The civil rights protests of the 1960's targeted unconstitutional racial segregation and resulted in the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent Civil Rights Act of 1965 dealing with voting rights.  The anti-Vietnam war protests of the 1960's over time succeeded in turning public opinion against continuation of the war, led to President Lyndon Johnson’s decision to not seek reelection in 1968, and eventually led President Nixon to begin the “Vietnamization” of the conflict and the eventual withdrawal of American forces.

But what was the political goal of the Women’s March on Washington?  In actual fact, it was a fragmented event as smaller groups and individuals with specific grievances showed up to take advantage of the numbers participating and the media coverage. In fact the organizers internet site explained that the March was about “women's rights, immigration reform, and health care reform; to counter Islamophobia, rape culture, and LGBTQ abuse; and to address racial inequities (e.g., Black Lives Matter), workers' issues, and environmental issues.”

That’s a lot to “raise awareness” about without saying anything specific and just about covers all the left wing grievance groups and issues. But over inclusiveness has its problems as a kind of competition among groups to influence the identity of the protest takes place. Black Lives Matter advocate and feminist Ijeoma Oluo complained that the March was “too white” and that is the reason no protesters were arrested.  And then in an example of the alternate universe of liberal unreality, a trans-gender “woman” complained that the March was not inclusive of trans-gender "women" citing the use of the pink “pussy hats” as a symbol of feminism while “she”, and other trans-gender “women” didn’t have one; uh, not the hat that is.  

Black Lives Matter was actually there in small numbers, as were a few rainbow signs for the alphabet soup label which describes the non-heterosexual movement, and a few climate change advocates held forth. But it was clear from the majority of the signs and the pink hat uniform of the day that this was a protest by aggravated females about a general feeling of alienation, grief and anger over the outcome of the presidential election and of course Trump’s highly publicized crotch grabbing confession which inspired the comical sight of women in their 70's holding laughably obvious signs declaring “My body is not up for grabs”. 
 
The high level of emotional investment in the prospect of “the first woman president” which was cultivated and enhanced over an 18 month period creating an air of certainty with respect to that outcome, was blown up over a few late night hours on November 9th.  It was like suddenly waking up from a fanciful dream only to discover that nothing has changed and you are still in bed with a bad cold and an overdrawn bank account. 

This was a liberal feminist nightmare which overwhelmed the “five stages of grief” so that the afflicted quickly jumped over the first stage of “denial” and went directly to the fourth stage, “depression”.  There was no “bargaining” and no final “acceptance”.  Finally, a group therapy idea in the form of a March on Washington blossomed and the group reverted to the second stage of “anger” where it remains.

Of course, one of the protest organizers seeking broader legitimacy said that the “march” wasn’t an anti-Trump exercise but this apparently was before the celebrity Madonna took to the microphone and in an expletive laced rant said that she had thought about “blowing up the White House”.  And of course, if an estimated 470,000 females are angry they need a target, which the signs and speeches confirmed.  A sign that claims “Trump is a Fascist” or demands that non-Trump voters “Resist Hate and Fear” leaves little doubt about the emotional underpinning of the exercise. Essentially, the whole event had the feel of a giant pep rally.  

So what happens now?  Is this the birth of a “movement” which will take back control of the Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020, as some opinion gurus have declared?

Probably not.  Once the marchers went home the organizational aspect disappeared and the participants became the same liberal diaspora that existed during the failed election. It was fun for a day or two and protests are always fun.  The anonymity afforded by the mob; the rare opportunity to engage in hateful speech and make “demands”is emotionally empowering.  On college campuses where students have few daily responsibilities, protests are an intramural sport. Who can think up the most provocative slogans and chants? Who can conjure up another politically correct grievance and defy authority?

A mass protest serves lots of psychological needs but the intensity is gone when the participants resume their individual lives.  In this case the potential “movement” already existed in the form of the organizations that make up the liberal political spectrum and which were the sponsors of the March. This version of the movement, the pro-choice NARAL and Planned Parenthood; the far Left MoveOn.org; the feminist political candidate promoter, Emily’s List; the extreme environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club and others, obviously failed in November.  

There is nothing new; same membership, same angry voices, no outreach to penetrate the progressive bubble and attract politically moderate or independent voters that are needed for growth and political efficacy to join up.  The March participants were just a small percentage of Hillary’s voters primarily energized by the presidential “glass ceiling” myth and by the thought of being symbolically empowered by its shattering.  Will that potential energy even last for two years to effect the mid-term congressional election or for four years especially if there is no female presidential candidate?  

A few sound thinkers in the Democratic fold do not think so.  They have looked at the 2016 election and discovered that voters, including many of their previous supporters, are divided more by socio-economic class than by social issues and identity politics, which these voters perceive as being the realm of the “morally and intellectually superior” elite. The plight of trans-genders and spotted owls is far down their lists of political priorities. They are tolerant of legal immigration but want the borders secured. But primarily they want policies that address economic relief and security. Abortion rights and global warming don’t fit the bill.
    
If the Democratic Party wants a new Progressive movement it will have to be more inclusive and less intolerant and condescending of the “outsiders” and less centered around the daily vilification of their choice for President.  Given the near hysterical hate being promoted by the mainstream liberal media, this seems highly improbable.

Of course much depends on the governance of the Trump Administration and the Republican controlled Congress which is the other side of the coin of future Democratic Party success.  It is far to early to render confident judgments about the political acceptance of Republican policies. However, it will not be sufficient for Democrats rebuilding efforts to rely on President Trump’s personality traits as a basis for change. 

 Admittedly Trump has an aggressive, sometimes graceless and undignified tendency to overstate, and impetuously criticize, exaggerate both the good and the bad, and uncareingly open the door for criticism.   But so far his policies have been executive initiatives which have been consistent with his campaign promises which won him the election.

Putting a freeze on federal bureaucratic hiring conforms to the general belief that government is bloated and inefficient. Reactivating the 3.5 billion dollar Keystone XL pipeline from Canadian oil fields is a jobs producer and as David L. Goldwyn, President Obama’s head of the State Department’s Energy Bureau has recently said: “Keystone has never been a significant issue from an environmental point of view in substance, only in symbol,”. 

Commencing the process for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, if done correctly, will address the unhappiness with the rapidly rising premium costs and the false claims of President Obama himself with regard to health provider choice.  While these initiatives will of course stimulate howls of liberal anguish, they have been well vetted by the successful Republican election campaign.

The more difficult work will come for his proposals which require legislative approval.  The Congress is divided and Democrats are seemingly committed to a  program of blind “resistance”.  Even the Republican majorities in both houses are divided in terms of parochial interests and Trump’s trade agreement modifications, funding for his border wall with Mexico and repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) will not be as easy as simply signing an executive order.  
If Trump’s domestic policies fail to approximate his campaign promises and his foreign policies have serious unintended negative consequences over the next two to four years, he will be a one term president as would any new president of either party.  But unfocused marches and protests simply expressing anger and accusations are likely to go the way of the much ballyhooed but failed Left wing Occupy Movement which was exposed both for its excesses and its pointless confrontations.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

TRUMPLOMACY: A WORK IN PROGRESS


Somehow the word “diplomacy” doesn’t seem to fit with soon to be President Trump’s persona.
The word has a generic meaning which includes the synonyms “ sensitivity”, “discretion”, “subtlety”, and “finesse”.  Oh well.   But in government, it simply describes the official interactions between representatives of various nations so in that case, maybe there’s more room for a variety of approaches.  
Still, the styles described by the generic descriptions have infused the international diplomatic process for decades if not for centuries.  Understatement in pursuit of the non-committal or “subtle”, has created a kind of long term “diplomatic speak” that looks sure to be subjected to  some “shock and awe” among the diplomatic traditionalists who now are thrust into the arena with the Twitter prone and unabashed President Trump.

Diplomats who are engaged in negotiations that don’t appear to be going anywhere describe themselves as “cautiously optimistic”.  In today’s epidemic of terrorist violence, representatives of sympathetic governments, simply “condemn” the terrorist acts, an over used and essentially meaningless phrase of disapproval.  For the most heinous of terrorist acts these same governments my take the bold step of “condemning the acts in the harshest possible terms.”  But what are the “harshest possible terms” and shouldn’t the terrorists hear them?


On a recent and “historic” trip to the battleship Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,  Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered his "sincere and everlasting condolences" for his country’s attack which brought the U.S. into World War II, destroyed the U.S. battleship fleet and took the lives of 2,403 Americans.  “Condolences”?  Of course the Japanese are “diplomatic” to a fault and there exists in Japan a nationalist element which doesn’t condone apologies, even for 75 year old acts of war.


There are occasional exceptions to this formality.  Secretary of State John Kerry departed from abstraction and sensitivity in his defense of the Obama Administration’s failure to veto the recent UN Security Council Resolution which declared Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank occupied territories as a “violation of international law”.  


Emboldened by the fact that both he and his boss would soon be searching the “help wanted” ads of the Washington Post, Kerry, an advocate of the “two state solution” took a parting shot at Israel’s government. 


In an unprecedented personal attack on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Kerry he called the current government the "most right-wing" in Israel's history and claimed its agenda is "driven by the most extreme elements."  He continued with “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.”

Kerry’s over simplification of the highly complex Israeli/Palestinian conflict and his departure from anything near traditional diplomatic support for America’s lone democratic ally in the volatile Middle East was not lost on the also diplomatically challenged President-elect.  Trump immediately entered the fray with an un-nuanced Tweet: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

 
He followed with another Tweet directed at the house of diplomacy itself: The UN is "just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!"

These short and disdainful comments, while containing elements of truth, indicate a distinctly different approach to the formality and caution, and indeed the special jargon that characterizes traditional diplomatic exchange.


There is a downside to Trump’s abrupt, “tell it like it is” approach, and his over use of Twitter gives the appearance of simplistic, knee-jerk reactions to events without the usual and prudent discussion with competent advisers.  The formerly conservative political pundit David Brooks, in this case correctly outlines the potential problem.  Speaking of the role of all Presidents in diplomacy he says:


“He’s the top piece of a big system, and his ability to create change depends on his ability to leverage and mobilize the system. His statements are carefully parsed around the world because presidential shifts in verbal emphasis are not personal shifts; they are national shifts that signal changes in a superpower’s actual behavior.”


Thus when made aware of North Korea’s recent claim to be ready to test an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, Trump tweeted:

“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!”

The long term complexity and history of U.S. unsuccessful efforts to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions make Trump’s assertion either naive, or to some, threatening. In either case it deserves not more nuance, but more details. 


If Trump has a new, more bold, or simply more efficacious approach, it needs clarification, especially for the states most concerned with the problem, South Korea, China, and Japan.  Such clarification would be better served if it was delivered by foreign policy officials and by more than a 140 character Twitterspeak. 

Still, in some circumstances, Trump’s instinct to cut through the obfuscation of normal diplomatic niceties can clarify his positions or simply stimulate a “reality check” in policies  overly cluttered by political theater. 


A recent example is the “incident” regarding a phone call he received from Tsai Ing-wen the President of Taiwan (Republic of China) it was a five minute call in which mutual congratulations were offered for the successful 2016 elections by both parties.


Although since 1979, the U.S. has had a “One China Policy” which essentially recognizes that there is only “one China”.  This a legal concession demonstrated by the lack of formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.  But the political reality is that Taiwan self identifies as The Republic of China and has since 1949 maintained and independent status with its own democratically elected government. 


U.S.-Taiwan relations are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 which incorporates references to trade and security totally separate from relations with China.  

The Chinese government (PRC) demands a ritualistic level of diplomatic sanitation when it comes to references or communications with Taiwan which the world’s professional diplomats are careful to observe.  Thus Trump’s direct communication with Taiwan’s president, a first for a U.S. president or president-elect since 1979,  caused gasps of consternation among Obama’s loyalists and Trump haters. Liberal pundits proclaimed that serious consequences would follow. One even suggested that a new level of hostilities between Trump’s administration and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) signified by the phone call could lead to “nuclear war”.


The original Chinese government,[ response was this:

“We have noticed relevant reports and lodged solemn representation with the relevant side in the United States.", said China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

This might actually mean something in Chinese, but whatever it might mean in English, it doesn’t sound too threatening. 


In point of fact Trump has made introductory phone calls to a number of foreign leaders including Philippine President Duterte, Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif, and British Prime Minister Teresa May , which the distressed Democratic gurus of diplomatic procedure found to underlay dark motives, signals of unintended shifts in policy or dangerous outcomes, in spite of the fact that nothing serious was discussed in any of the brief conversations.


Thus the “bad news” of Trump’s unconventional, Twitter and phone diplomacy is still hypothetical.  He will no doubt be a bit of a “bull in the carefully arranged and allegedly fragile diplomatic “china shop”.  But the “good news”, which is also primarily based so far on the absence of major faux pas, is also that the clarity and efficiency of getting to the heart of policy positions might actually seem to be a refreshing change to foreign leaders who have sometimes struggled to actually know what positions the current American president and diplomats are taking.  


Time will tell and because Trump’s foreign relations learning curve is steep, he will probably make mistakes which will need “clarifying” but hopefully there will be no more phony “red lines”, contradictory and inconsistent positions towards our allies, or flaccid diminution of threats to American interests or security.    

Friday, December 16, 2016

DEMOCRAT DENIAL AND OTHER FORMS OF HEAD INJURY

Well, the exit polls from the election have told us “who” voted for whom but the post-mortems on the actual “cause of death” of the presumptive winner are filling the pages of the internet journals and the liberal press which are essentially an echo chamber of the distraught Left.  Now “we know” why the would be “first woman president” grabbing for the golden ring on the election merry-go-round snatched only air and fell off her wooden horse. 

From the Democrats: Take your pick: Hillary lost because:

FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress said he was investigating additional e-mails found on the Weiner’s computer. But: FBI Director Comey’s second letter to Congress said the first letter didn’t turn up anything.

The Russians hacked into the electronic polls and changed the outcome because Putin loves Trump and hates Hillary.  But:  the Obama Administration said there was no evidence of any Russian hacking of the polls and that the Administration stood by the election outcome.

Now it turns out that the CIA and FBI knew that Russian hackers had penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems several months before the election and the FBI warned officials of that organization. This resulted in enormous e-mail dumps made public by WikiLeaks which the Democrats claim, “caused” Hillary to lose a “tainted” election.  
But: The e-mails were actual communications between Democratic officials.  The Trump campaign wasn’t involved and since the e-mails were genuine, the media treated them as news and made them public.  Sometimes “the truth hurts” and there is no evidence of this information affecting anyone’s voting decision. 

WikiLeaks “unfairly” cast doubts about the integrity of the Democratic National Committee’s relationship to Hillary’s campaign.  But: Hillary’s campaign didn’t deny the veracity of the leaks, and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz had to resign over her roll in manipulating DNC influence in favor of Hillary vs. Bernie Sanders. Then her successor, Donna Brazile was exposed as acquiring and forwarding presidential debate questions to Hillary’s campaign.  And, the texts of Hillary’s $250,000 speeches to Wall Street Bankers which she had refused to release suddenly were made public.  It seems the Democrats who were irate because Trump wouldn’t release his tax returns have a new message,  “transparency for thee but not for me.”

Then there’s this claim: The mainstream media was biased against Hillary and didn’t “get her message out”.  But: the mainstream media, and most of the web based media, campaigned tirelessly for Hillary and against Trump for months prior to either one being nominated and then were consistently supportive of Hillary until election night and after. Hillary’s message was out but it was politically flawed.  The campaign over relied on social issues aimed at their perceived demographic advantage provided by women and minority groups. 

The allegedly “trumped up” private e-mail server and classified content scandal uncovered by the FBI was of course was real.  But: Hillary lied about it in a series of claims until each revelation was proved to be authentic. And then she was given a pass by the same Director Comey who her campaign later accused of handing the election to Trump.

Then, of course comes the hate filled repetitive cacophony from the liberal media parrot cage:
Trump is  “squawk. . .racist, squawk. . .misogynist, squawk. . .homophobic and xenophobic.”
These nefarious traits  “of course” energized millions of similarly flawed “deplorable” individuals to come out of the darkness and vote for Trump. Alas, the defeat of virtue by evil.

  But: polls show that large numbers of Trump’s voters were former supporters of Obama in 2008 and 2012. Trump also won 54% of white women, effectively taking the claim of legions of “misogynist” voters off the table. Interviews of former Obama voters who switched to Trump by the liberal New York Times found that they were none of the “ists” or “phobics” claimed by the Left, but just ordinary working class citizens who were primarily concerned with their economic futures which they felt Hillary didn’t bother to address.

Trump also won 29% of the Hispanic vote, putting a dent in the broad claim of racism amongst the voters, not withstanding the simple fact that Mexicans aren’t a race at all but a multi-racial nationality, similar to the false claim regarding Islam which isn’t a race but a multinational, multi-racial, religion.  

So what is apparent is that the most visible part of Democratic support, the liberal political establishment, the mainstream media and internet journals, are so steeped in the supposed superiority of their rigid ideology and were so convinced that Hillary was going to win that they can’t comprehend that she actually lost. Thus they claim that she actually didn’t lose because she won the national popular vote.  But: this of course is irrelevant because the U.S. doesn’t conduct a national election for president.  The federal election system we use has been in place for the life of the Constitution and all presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s, build their campaign strategies accordingly.  Trump won the popular vote in 30 of the 50 states and thus accumulated the necessary 270 electoral votes necessary for victory. 
The Democrats didn’t address any supposed unfairness in the Electoral College system prior to the election and now are engaging in hopeless attempts to manipulate the system simply because their candidate lost.   Hillary acknowledged the legitimacy of the system herself by her election night concession call to Trump and her address to supporters the next day. 

The post-election rationales listed above try to explain the “injustice” of her “unfair” loss by focusing entirely on her opponent or outside entities with little discussion or analysis of Hillary herself and her failed campaign.  But the simple truth is that there were only two viable candidates on the ballot. While some individuals chose to cast a protest vote for one of the fringe party candidates, and others chose to protest the lack of acceptable candidates by leaving the top of the ballot blank or not voting at all, over 120 million citizens looked at the candidates, some briefly, others more seriously, and made a choice between them.  So Trump’s voters did not make their choice based solely on his claims or personality, but also in comparison to his competitor.  It is this evaluation, made by millions of voters, that the Left cannot endure.  Hillary was judged and came up as the “lessor of two evils” by many and  just the “lessor” by many more.   

How this will play out over the next few years or maybe over Trump’s entire term of office will be important. A virulently divided society will tend to de-legitimize the entire political process and the public policies that flow from it. There will be few broadly applied federal policies that aren’t evaluated in terms of “oppressors” and “victims” by the Left. A sense of national identity already under assault and which is part of the cultural glue that binds the nation together, will be further diminished with unfortunate consequences.  

Trump has been routinely denounced as a demagogue by his angry critics on the Left but these same critics are using their unearned access to the public themselves to incite raw hate.  There are many such individuals using the opinion pages of the national press and web based media. Perhaps the worst example is Charles Blow, of the New York Times.  Here is a brief example of months of his tirades on the pages of what was once a proud international paper.

“To president-elect Trump”:

“You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.
You are a fraud and a charlatan.”
“I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.”

  “I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.”

“I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.”

“No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.”

“The demi-fascist of Fifth Avenue”

“Time’s man of the year is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.”

These personal insults are far worse than any that Trump has been criticized for directing at individuals.  And the hypocrisy is only exceeded by the remarkably inflated level of self-importance which Blow displays. Blow is going to subject the soon to be President to his “withering gaze” and he has “the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.”  

The utter pomposity of these disgusting claims makes Blow’s screed absurd on its face but because the New York Times enables his narcissism  he and others like him will spread the seeds of hate to the befuddled ideologues of the Left and help create the political climate of dysfunction that they crave.

The political Left seems determined to use the Senate hearings on Trump’s cabinet appointees
as revenge for his winning the election.  Prolonged harsh scrutiny is promised where personal attacks will be prominently combined with the “sins” of each nominee’s conservative philosophy in an effort to discredit both them and the new President.   

Donald Trump is indeed a political anomaly; unpredictable, demonstrably head strong, and unfortunately has a personality that too often relies on personal attacks and blatantly offensive language. He lacks the dignity and qualifications voters have come to expect in presidential candidates but many, if not most of his supporters acknowledged these traits but were willing to overlook them when contemplating the alternative.  Thus despite his obvious flaws, Trump was elected fairly according to the rules of the American system and will be the President.

 A prolonged vicious assault of the nature utilized by the Charles Blows of the world will harm the nation both domestically and internationally. This of course is of no concern to those whose smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority was served a harsh dose of reality on November 8th.

What the next few years will look like is very uncertain. The pages of the liberal media are filled with hysterical doomsday scenarios; the “end of democracy”; “war with China” or “war with Iran”; “the collapse of the U.S. economy”; a dystopia of brown air and green water caused by unparalleled drilling and pipeline construction, and now Russian domination of the U.S. because Trump doesn’t demonstrate the necessary fear and loathing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a new found animus on the part of liberal Democrats since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s own naive and failed “reset button” with the Russians.  

Essentially, Trump’s election is a gamble, but not necessarily one without merit. Four additional years of “more of the same”, from a reliance on  big government solutions; an emphasis on divisive social issues and identity politics which excluded the economic concerns of a significant portion of the citizenry; unconcern with expanding federal deficits and debt; and a celebrity style of weak, hesitant and politically correct leadership at home and abroad, represented a continuing decline in America’s economic and security interests.

 So far, in post-campaign mode Trump has not provided the raw material for the doomsday predictions, and the basic nature of the American democracy with its divided government, checks and balances and judicial review which mitigate the possibility of executive overreach, seem to be beyond the understanding of the hand wringers from the Left.

In any event, the next four years will be “interesting times” and hopefully will disprove the commonly accepted but apocryphal Chinese curse which defines the term as instability and discord.   



Monday, November 14, 2016

THE ELECTION: WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT NOW?



It will take weeks or perhaps months for detailed examination of exit polls and voting precincts to provide a complete picture of the dynamics which caused one of the biggest political upsets in modern American politics.  Still, there are a few early indicators available which can start the conversation.  However, it would be a mistake to follow the lead of the activist element in political commentary who tend to identify a single dominant cause for the behavior of over 60 million individuals spread across the entire country.  

Racism? Misogyny? Xenophobia?  Hillary’s e-mails? FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress?
These are eye catching, pulse stimulants for commentaries with an ideological or partisan orientation but are insufficient to explain a human intellectual behavior even as simple as making a ballot choice.  

Certainly with a sample in excess of 59 million, these tendencies are bound to exist as components in the political calculations of some but not as broad brush motivations for the group as a whole.  Also simply looking at Trump voters for an explanation of the outcome ignores important aspects of Clinton’s personality, character, and behavior as well as the effectiveness of her campaign strategy.

But any analysis should start with the political context of the election.  It has been a common assertion for several years that the nation was irreconcilably divided.  The divide most mentioned was simply partisan; “right wing” Republicans vs. “left wing” Democrats, with “moderates” being virtually extinct and “independents” sitting quietly on the side lines.

With this narrative in place, the electoral “strategies” simply boiled down to the “enthusiasm” factor; which party would be able to stimulate the most members to actually vote. By itself, this would represent a failed strategy for the simple reason that those not registered with either major party i.e. “Independents” represent a larger group than either Democrats or Republicans. While many Independents tend to “lean” towards one of the major parties the percentage of those who do not acknowledge definite loyalty to Democrats or Republicans stands at 33 percent as of early 2016.

None the less the Hillary campaign focused on the winning coalitions of the previous Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 as models for victory.  These included racial minorities, young voters, and college educated women. But this was a “get out the base” strategy mentioned above.  Working class white voters, in suburban and rural areas and especially men, were mostly de-emphasized as already in the Republican camp and unnecessary for victory as they were for Obama.  

But while the context of partisan hostility was acknowledged by the Clinton campaign, polls consistently showed her to be ahead of most of the Republican primary contestants and almost always ahead of Donald Trump who was charging through the primaries like a rogue elephant, leaving outraged Republican “ establishment” figures in his wake as well as the promise of a hopelessly divided Republican Party. He was thus seen as  an easy opponent in the general election for the Clinton machine.

But the signs of what was to come could have been read in these same primaries.  Trump, the political outsider, the street fighter with all the attendant behavioral flaws, was stirring the passions of the Republican base, the white working class.  

An important aspect of the wider political context was lost in the smoke of the chaotic Republican primaries.  Along with the frequent polling on the most important concerns of voters in both parties i.e. the economy, terrorism, race relations, the environment etc. was a question related to “The Direction of the Country”.  The question was simple: “Is the country moving in the “Right Direction” or “on the Wrong Track”. 

In January, 2013, at the beginning of Obama’s second term, 56.4 percent of responders felt that the country was on the “wrong track”. It got worse from then on.  The average response for the next four years of Obama’s presidency was that 61.47 percent felt that the country was on the “wrong track”.  In November, 2016, just before the election, 61.9 percent of responders still agreed that the country was on the “wrong track”.  

Since responders to this question would evaluate the nation’s prospects through the lense of their personal circumstances, both current and projected, this enormous level of personal dissatisfaction overlaid  the general feeling of political alienation among middle and  working class voters.  Some would blame the Republicans; some would blame the Democrats, but as it turned out many blamed the “establishment” which included both parties in Washington, and  there was only one candidate in the presidential election who identified closely with the establishment.  In fact Hillary had been a member of the of the Washington elites for more than two decades as a Senator, member of the Obama Administrations and two time presidential candidate. These, and her eight years as “First Lady”, were broadcast as “accomplishments” and “credentials” while the anger and despair of the white working class especially those concentrated in rural an suburban areas of historically “blue states” was ignored.

The Clinton campaign strategy of relying on the Obama demographic failed.  While minorities, “millenials”, and college educated women all supported Hillary, their numbers were down.  With respect to minorities, former White House communications director and Democratic strategist, Anita Dunn offered this significant understatement after the election: 
“The emerging demographic majority isn’t quite there yet”.

With respect to the Hispanic vote, 27 to 29 percent voted for Trump.  This was essentially the same as the vote for Romney in 2012 (27%). Although Hillary won 65% of the Hispanic vote her percentage was down significantly from Obama’s total of 71% in 2012.

Columnist Reuben Navarette who writes almost exclusively about Hispanics in the U.S. explained these voters as follows:

“They didn’t trust Hillary Clinton, and they couldn’t relate to her in any way.”
“They were just as fed up with the establishment as other Americans, and just as easily seduced by an outsider like Trump.”
“They were sick of politicians who don’t offend anyone because they don’t say or do anything consequential.”
“They agreed with many of Trump’s ideas and policy proposals, and they were willing to overlook the wacky ones.”
“When Trump portrayed Mexican immigrants as violent criminals, they weren’t bothered because they just assumed he wasn’t talking about them.”

“Many are ambivalent about undocumented immigrants anyway, and, in fact, some look fondly
 on concrete walls, tighter borders, and more deportations.”

Thus nearly a third of Hispanic citizen's who voted on November 8th views closely resembled those of the Trump core, the white working class and middle class.  

The Obama factor:

Obama’s job approval rating has been up in the last few months but over most of his administration it has hovered around 47.5 percent. It’s rise at the end of his presidency might be a “nostalgia effect” since he is leaving office, or it might simply be that compared to the personal and hate filled nature of the presidential campaign, his calm demeanor set a higher standard.  In any case, Hillary chose to adopt his presidency as a model for her own if elected. She said would “go further” with his executive orders with respect to illegal aliens; she promised big spending programs and their attendant big budget deficits; an emphasis on soft immigration reform that relied on expansion of technology at the borders, and empty platitudes about “fighting for the middle class”.  But third consecutive terms for the party in power are difficult in any case and in a context of 2/3 of voters saying that the country has been on the “wrong track” over Obama’s second term, she would have been better served by proclaiming a “new day” with innovative ideas independent from the past.  

There is no question that during both the primary and general election campaigns Trump presented himself as a quasi- emotionally unstable individual at worst and a hostile boor at best. For this he was consistently and viciously excoriated in the press and social media. But Hillary’s self imposed e-mail drama, Trump’s insulting characterization of her over it, and the frantic responses made by her supporters as well as the “negative research” on Trump’s past social transgressions, real and contrived, became the Clinton supporter’s dominant narrative for the election.  Hillary’s 3-5 percent advantage in the polls was consistently close to, or within, the statistical margins of error for such polls and provided a weak measure of predictability for her success.

Meanwhile Trump ventured into “blue states” and rural and suburban areas of those states which Clinton de-emphasized as “safe” based on historical voting patterns, especially in Obama’s two previous successful campaigns.  While Hillary’s e-mail subterfuges were a political disaster as a diversion from her “message” and contributed to the widely accepted belief that she couldn’t be trusted, Trump’s basic assault on both the Republican and Democratic establishments was attracting support.  His social flaws and extremist comments made many uncomfortable but again, there were only two candidates with a chance to win and for many, his populist message overcame the discomfort in the face of Clinton’s “more of the same” promises and platitudes”.

White voters, outside of those with specific issues i.e. gays, environmental extremists and self described “progressives”, were tired of being accused of being racists, sexists and homophobes in what appeared to be a long standing  exercise in moral superiority by the political Left.  This became a specific point of emphasis when Hillary described “half of Trump’s supporters” as being “a basket of deplorables” with these specific character flaws. They were tired of political correctness; hyphenated Americans; pampered college students telling them they were “privileged”; and the political emphasis being put on the plight of refugees while their wages and economic opportunities languished.  They felt left out of the political system from which benefits come and even left out of the political debate. Trump promised to let them back in. 

There is no question that Trump was a flawed and unlikely candidate by normal presidential standards.  But while more conventional, perhaps too conventional, Hillary was also flawed and though Trump’s victory was by slim margins in most of the “blue states” and “toss up states” that he needed to win the contest, his message worked.  

Hillary was also faced with a significant enthusiasm gap.  She lost the white vote 58% to 37%.
She won 80% of the black vote but this figure was down significantly from Obama’s 93% support. Although she made much of the “breaking the glass ceiling” meme, she lost the white female vote by 53%-43%. She won the total women’s vote which included minorities by 54% to 42% but this was off set by Trump’s advantage in the total male vote of 53% to 41%.

Essentially, Clinton won by small to moderate percentages in groups that represented small to moderate numbers of voters i.e. college educated voter 52% to Trump’s 43%.  But this group consists of only 33% of the population.  Trump won the non-college degree vote by a similar margin, 52% to 44% but this group consists of 67% of the population, giving him a clear numerical advantage.  Clinton won “young voters” (18-29) by 55% to 37% but Trump won the over 65 aged voter by 53%-45%.  The final results showed that Clinton won @ 6 million fewer votes than Obama in 2012.

So what were the major elements of Clinton’s defeat?  A failed strategy that relied to heavily on a statistical analysis of Obama’s elections.  This caused her campaign strategists to ignore the fact that Obama’s race generated significant support that Hillary’s gender couldn’t match.  Also, the strategists failed to campaign vigorously in the rural and suburban areas with significant white working class voters, relying instead on the large urban areas with their higher percentages of minorities and reliable liberal voters. She never voiced a compelling reason or rationale for why she should be the President, what is commonly called a “vision for the nation”.  Instead it was a self-centered campaign built around the notion of inevitability and an alleged stature as the first woman president.

Her failure to deal with th e-mail controversy forthrightly reinforced the notion that she was untrustworthy. Her strategy consisted of a series of denials followed by admissions as the facts came out and then weak apologies and claims of innocent “mistakes” which prolonged the process and took her off message.

What will come now is uncertain.  Trump has a steep learning curve in many aspects of governance.  He doesn’t seem to know what he doesn’t know so he will have to be willing to accept the guidance of advisers who ‘do know’.  He has already come under assault by the Left, both the purveyors of hate in the media and the naive protest class in the streets.  His first political exercise, the filling of his cabinet, will be fodder for nose counter diversity gurus who will demand “fair” representation of minorities, gays, women, vegans, and yoga instructors. Then the “hard” work will begin.  His leadership skills are untested.  He will find the Republican controlled  majorities in the Congress are themselves divided.  The cooperation of any in the Democratic Congressional caucuses is unlikely.  His most extreme campaign promises will find significant opposition from ideological and practical points of view.  He cannot let himself become bogged down in extended political controversies over a multi-billion dollar border wall, a logistically impossible attempt to identify, arrest and deport eleven million illegal immigrants and a legally questionable policy of banning all Muslims from entry into the U.S.   He should concentrate on doing the “doable”, which will be difficult enough, and accept the fact that he will never gain even the modest support of the hard Left.  All of this will take time and a genuine effort among the Republicans in Congress to unify behind reasonable conservative policies.  

Trump’s history shows him not fitting the commonly accepted description of a Republican.  He is a former Democrat and currently has a Libertarian streak.  He has a lesser inclination to the use of military force in foreign policy than the so called neo-conservatives, and a tactician’s sense of avoidance of ideological rigidity.  Trump needs to grow.  He needs to transition from Trump the campaigner to Trump the President.  It will be a difficult passage. He has made a modest start however.  He has said he will not repeal ObamaCare before having a replacement in place. He has also said that the replacement will retain the inclusion of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and for young adults living with their parents. 

In the mean time the nation will be forced to endure the hysterical anger of those so ideologically committed that they are beyond reason.  The street and campus protests are driven once again by the heavily naive and the lightly educated.  For some, who are simply quasi- anarchists or self important college crusaders, protest is a sport that provides the opportunity to gather in the safe anonymity of a crowd to rage against authority and “the system”.  It also provides cover for petty criminals who arrive on the scene to loot and burn.  These protests are foolishly tolerated by some fearful city officials as “first amendment rights”.  This despite the fact that blocking traffic, breaking windows, assaulting police officers and setting fires are obvious criminal acts.  Because of the attention given them by the liberal media, and the underlying glee of many in that group who seek revenge against the voters who didn’t agree with them, and against the winning candidate for whom they have raw hate, the protests will continue until they quit from exhaustion.  But that, as in the Progressive supported and equally nonsensical Occupy protests of a couple of years ago, will happen.

In general, the control of the three branches of government by the conservative party should mean that the liberal agenda to turn the United States into a giant multi-cultural Sweden will at least be slowed.  A reconstituted Supreme Court will play an important role as will a unified Republican Congress if it can avoid counter productive, divisive, social issues like abortion and gay marriage which are settled law, in favor of the important public policy issues of federal spending, debt, border control, health care and common sense environmental solutions.  
Based on long term Republican advocacy in the Congress, initiatives on tax reform including simplification and lower rates, a reduction of anti-business regulation, further modernization of the military, and reduction in federal spending, should be expected.  Trump has already put revocation of most of Obama’s executive orders, rejection of new free trade agreements, more border security and health care reform on the schedule.  The next session of Congress should be very busy. 

 Much is being made about the fact that Hillary won a narrow victory in the popular vote and people are decrying the existence of the Electoral College system.  But this is a common occurrence “after” each presidential election.  These same critics were aware of and accepted, the system “before” the election and if Clinton’s and Trump’s positions were reversed there would be no outcry from the Left.  There are arguments for and against the Electoral College.  But in all but two cases in the modern era, the Electoral College outcome has followed the popular vote outcome.  Also, it would take a constitutional amendment to do away with the current system. That would require a 2/3 vote in a closely divided Congress and a 3/4 vote by the state’s legislatures.  If successful the immediate result would be that small population states would be consigned to irrelevance in presidential elections which could theoretically be decided by only the ten largest population states which currently hold 52% of the U.S. population. Politically, however this is almost an impossible scenario to accomplish since the small population states out number the larger population states in both the Congress and in state legislatures.  Democrats are of course eager to give their population advantages in California and New York and the crowded eastern seaboard the opportunity to elect presidents without bothering with “fly over country” but it’s not going to happen.  

Unfortunately, the Hollywood and pop star millionaire protectors of the downtrodden, who promised to punish the electorate if they dared to elect Trump by flying off to Canada have changed their minds.  There have been no reports of private jets being loaded with insulated boots and fur (fake of course) parkas. This in spite of the fact that laughing Trump voters have asked them to live up to their threats. Life will go on as before for most people, but it will be a very interesting four years.

Monday, September 5, 2016

OBAMA'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS


The end of the Obama experiment is nearby.   It was an experiment because the American presidential electorate opted for a candidate with none of the usual required entries on his resume’ and focused on the “hope and change” slogan which seemed to resonate with those “hoping” that the first black president could simply by his election victory, dispel much of the racial hostility narrative from the Left and cure racial attitudes in the nation.  But the President of the United States has much greater responsibilities, both global and national, than changing social attitudes at home and by these standards, no matter how well meaning Obama may have been, he was simply not up to the job and the experiment has failed.

 The future is fraught with danger as Obama’s presumptive successor, Hillary Clinton, seems to offer the same lack of any president’s most important quality, leadership skills. 

Obama will leave Hillary a list of important tasks which he did not have the leadership qualities and/or the knowledge and experience or the motivation to accomplish during his eight years in office.
Nonetheless, his core of apologists and knee jerk supporters offer a list of his “accomplishments” which is a good place for Hillary to start a remedial job description.

At the top of this list is usually found the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now commonly called “ObamaCare”.

ObamaCare, signed into law in March, 2010, was an ambitious and comprehensive overhaul of American health care and the American health insurance industry.  The goal was to significantly reduce the number of uninsured Americans, lower insurance costs, and expand the coverage of individual health insurance.  The law is highly complex but after six and a half years the general parameters of its failure are apparent.

 Insurance companies, large & small are getting out of the exchanges because they are losing money. Their losses are the result of several built in defects in the law.  One is that participating insurance companies must offer the broadest possible coverage in all policies.  These include such things as comprehensive pre-natal care, birth control medications, mental health care including drug and alcohol treatments, breastfeeding support/supplies, domestic violence screening and counseling for tobacco use and healthy eating.

This “any problem you’ve got, government will fix” philosophy has resulted in losses for the participating health insurance companies in spite of higher premiums for policy holders as well as a lack of participation by individuals, especially  the young and single who don’t want to pay for coverage which they don’t need; single men don’t need “breast feeding support and supplies” and “domestic violence screening and counseling.  These individuals are opting to pay the penalty (2.5% of adjusted gross income) for non-compliance instead of the exorbitant premiums. This leaves the insurance companies client base weighted towards the older, less healthy segment of the population.

With the larger companies withdrawing from the ACA markets, there will be significantly fewer choices for those in the system and for future policy holders.  This in turn will create fewer choices for health care providers as the remaining insurers restrict their coverage to the least expensive doctors and hospitals in spite of Obama’s famously false statement that, “If you like your doctor or hospital, you can keep them.”

Individual customers who don’t have employer based coverage and who don’t qualify for the low income government subsidies, will be hit the hardest as insurance premiums dramatically rise.  This is a large group as the subsidy cut-off point is $47, 500.00 for a single person and $64,080.00 for a couple. The premium problem will be exacerbated in 2017 when the government’s annual subsidy to the insurance companies ceases.

Overall, the success of the program hasn’t met expectations as the participating pool of participants is much smaller than predicted with as many as 27 million people remaining uninsured. 
Hillary has said that she wants to improve, not replace or repeal, the ACA but she has few choices that don’t inflict severe economic pain on either  the insurance companies, the policy holders, the non-participants, or the tax payers who foot the bill for the premium subsidies. 

The ACA is an out of control Frankenstein monster  probably fundamentally and permanently flawed, but repealing it before designing a far less ambitious pseudo copy of a Canadian style single payer plan which was the goal of the Democratic congress in 2009, would cause health care chaos and be a political disaster which Hillary will not accept. But intransigent Democrats in the new congress will probably oppose any meaningful changes and the Republicans will oppose any increases in subsidies and or penalties, for non-participation.

Foreign relations:

One has to search hard and grasp at proverbial straws to find a “legacy” quality Obama foreign policy that doesn’t present a major problem for the next President.  Of course, her four years as Secretary of State creates a shared responsibility for the mess she inherits.

The Middle East still cries out for a strategy.  The Syrian civil war which overlaps the Islamic State terrorist’s war on the West is going nowhere as the Russians and Iranians have an independent agenda, and the European states, the victims of horrendous terrorist attacks and lacking American leadership are reluctant to play too aggressive a role.  Russian President Putin, emboldened by his annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimea, has filled a strategy void in Syria, unfortunately on the wrong side. Obama has been content to hand off this problem to his successor and simply engage in “targeted” air strikes and pleas to Russian president Putin to cooperate with him to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria which would benefit civilians but would represent nothing but a pause, not a strategy, to bring the conflict to an end.

Obama has abandoned the Palestinian/Israeli conundrum and brought American/Israeli relations to a historic low with the undisguised and mutual hostility between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.  While maintaining the politically sensitive economic and military aid program with Israel, his public comments on the conditions for a successful settlement came without consultation with Netanyahu to whom they seemed arbitrary and lacking in understanding of the fundamental problems. 

The Iran nuclear deal, which Obama sought as a legacy accomplishment and a new relationship with the Islamic Republic has been exposed as seriously flawed and since its initiation the Iranian regime has been outwardly hostile to the U.S., even engaging in provocative military actions against U.S warships in the Persian Gulf and continuing its participation in the Syrian civil war against the U.S. backed rebel forces opposing the government of Hafez Assad.

In pursuit of a “legacy” breakthrough with the Iran, the nuclear deal disregarded Israel’s security interests.  The Israeli government considers a nuclear armed Iran as an existential threat and was ignored in the negotiations .

Obama’s response to the deepening instability and violence in the Middle East was to announce an “end to the wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq as far back as November, 2011 as a prelude to a “tilt” in foreign policy priorities towards Asia.  This hasn’t worked out well as the wars continue to this day and the Chinese government, which is the major power in Asia, is undeterred in a strategy to extend its influence and indeed domination in the South China sea thus stimulating a serious conflict with Japan over control of remote islands in the area and security concerns in numerous other Pacific nations. 

Obama’s Asian “tilt” has had no effect on the hostility of the seemingly irrational policies of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un who has persisted in conducting nuclear weapons tests and who recently fired a submarine launched missile near Japan.  He has claimed that his country now has the capability to attack the west coast of the U.S. with nuclear armed missiles. While this is probably a gross exaggeration, it is destined to become a reality.

The TransPacificPartnership (TPP) which is another Obama “legacy” project, offered a difficult but less adversarial component of “the tilt”.  This is an international “free trade treaty” which has been in negotiations  for seven years and the proposed membership is comprised of twelve Pacific nations including the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Australia.  The U.S. Congress has given Obama “fast track” authority for ratification which means an up or down vote with no amendments but the vote has been put off until after the presidential election. The presidential “heir apparent”,  Hillary, as Secretary of State, supported TPP and called it “the gold standard” of trade agreements.  However strong opposition by Bernie Sanders and his followers during the primary elections led Hillary’s support to “evolve”, and she now opposes the successfully negotiated agreement which probably means that barring another, post-election  “evolutionary experience”, Obama’s legacy will take another hit, and without U.S. participation, the TPP will lose significance and may well fail.  The best hope for Obama’s legacy is for the project to be delayed while Hillary’s minions try and renegotiate certain elements to give her cover to declare that the treaty is “fixed” and allow a vote in a new Democratic controlled Senate.

The U.S. Economy

Much has been made about the weakness of the U.S. economy in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Unfortunately, the discussion conducted by the two final candidates has been characterized by promises without feasible solutions related to “middle class incomes” and “inequality” in wealth.

President Hillary will be faced with serious structural economic issues, the most critical being the federal debt and the annual federal deficits that contribute to its rapid growth.  Current U.S. government debt is 19.5 trillion dollars or 105% of the U.S. economy (GDP). Federal spending is @ 3.853 trillion dollars while federal tax revenue is @ 3.274 trillion which means an annual addition to the federal debt of 579 billion, not counting the annual interest on the debt, which in 2015 was 223 billion dollars at historically low interest rates.  These rates are projected to rise beginning late this year.

In spite of the prospects of continued out of control federal debt, Clinton’s campaign has largely ignored the issue, instead outlining a number of new spending programs as she tried to match Bernie Sanders’ self -described  “democratic socialist” economic agenda. This effort has produced the Clinton version of Bernie’s free college education program.  Those eligible would be students who attend in-state public institutions whose families make less than $125,000 annually. 

Her health care plan would offer local subsidized clinics offering primary care to those who can’t afford basic health care, although she has said she want’s to reform ObamaCare and retain it. Her reformed system would no doubt retain the federal subsidies for low income individuals buying health insurance from the government exchanges.  She would also allow individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 to “buy into” the Medicare program but has offered few details for this new version of a system that is already projected for insolvency.

But those are just two of Clinton’s spending proposals.  It is reported that Moody’s the investment analysis and financial company, estimates that  “Clinton would spend about $300 billion more on infrastructure over the next 10 years, $700 billion more on education, $300 billion on new worker leave policies, and $200 billion more on new economic development programs.  Combined with eliminating the sequester cuts, Clinton’s plan would increase spending by about $2.2 trillion.”

This, in spite of her “plan” to pay for it all by . . .”taxing the rich”.  One such program would start with a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for the “rich” making at least $200 thousand a year.  The truly rich, those making more than $1 million annually would face a 30% tax increase and those rock stars, athletes, and charitable foundation owners (?) making more than $5 million annually would get a another 4% surcharge.  Then everyone would face a “reform” (increase), of the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax. 
Race Relations:
According to a New York Times poll, sixty-nine percent of Americans say race relations in the U.S. are “generally bad”; the highest number since the 1992 Los Angeles race riots.  The Black Lives Matter protest group which has highlighted the deaths of several blacks during confrontations with local police agencies, is the focal point of the tension. Seventy-seven percent of American blacks agreed with the group’s claims as compared to only 37 percent of whites.
The “first black President” hasn’t helped the situation and has arguably made it worse with his public interference and bias in local police matters involving blacks. He claimed that the Cambridge, MA police were “stupid” because the asked Obama’s “friend”, Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates for identification when his neighbor reported two men breaking into Gate’s home. Gates, who had lost his house key refused to furnish ID to investigating officers and became irate when pressed for it, leading to his arrest.  
Obama tried to influence the jury in the Travon Martin/George Zimmeman case by sympathizing with Martin who was shot while attacking Zimmerman. Obama famously opined that if he had had a son he would have looked like Travon Martin.  Zimmerman was found not guilty under Florida law in what former Harvard law professor and civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz described as a political trial. 
Obama’s lack of objectivity, and leadership in the Martin case and his claim that black shootings at the hands of arresting police officers was “a national issue” laid the foundation for Hillary to use the issue as a campaign tactic, claiming before a black audience in South Carolina that the nation was mired in “systemic racism”.  It thus does not appear that a change in the occupant of the White House and owner of “the bully pulpit” will exercise the leadership necessary to lower the temperature of the racial conflict in the country. 
Immigration:
This emotional, cultural, national security and economic issue has become a verbal war between the presidential candidates, the media and the voters. Hillary, pandering to the Hispanic voters has said will go even further than Obama’s illegal executive order to ignore immigration laws and grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens currently in the country. Without her commitment to enforce the border with Mexico she will have great difficulty in getting immigration reform passed in the Congress unless the Democrats gain majorities in both houses which are currently under control of the Republican Party. 
In sum, eight years of the Obama experiment have left the nation with most of the problems that confronted it in 2008. The economy, as measured by inflation, unemployment, GDP growth and the stock market has improved as is the case in the self-correcting nature of free markets, aided in this case by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulative monetary policies, but the federal debt and continuing deficits in federal spending are enormous issues mostly below the political and electioneering radar.

It is possible, however unlikely, that the second President Clinton will take off her campaign hat on January, 20, 2017 and put on a presidential hat with the broader responsibilities that come with it.  However, if she simply wants to be the president of the Democratic Party and ignore the problems of, and solutions for, the nation as a whole, then Obama’s “unfinished business” will remain unfinished and Hillary will leave office with her own legacy of important unresolved issues.