This is a link to an analysis of Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) that I did on Park City television in Oct 2013. Obamacare wasn't perfect, but it was far better than the plans to replace Obamacare currently being considered in Congress. The key takeaway for me at this point is that the last administration passed a law that extended health care coverage for 25 million previously uninsured Americans WHILE ALSO REDUCING THE DEFICIT. That plan paid for itself and then some by making insurance mandatory, by increasing taxes on medical device manufacturers and on the wealthiest Americans, and by improving the efficiency of our healthcare system. Republicans have systematically attacked and undermined that law for political reasons, and they have lied to the American people in the process. This administration's plan takes away insurance from 24 million Americans in order to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The people who lose health care insurance under Trump's plan will go back to doing what they did before: showing up in emergency rooms and getting inefficient treatment that is ultimately paid for by all taxpayers. Under the plan's currently being considered in Congress, the middle class and poorer Americans lose, and the wealthiest Americans win. It is bad medicine.
I have done my best to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt. Now it is clear to me that he is using his power inappropriately--to undermine the constitutional processes of our government--by firing the Director of the FBI in the face of the ongoing investigation into his administration's possible misconduct. It is time for all of us to raise our voices and demand that our senators and representatives in Congress do their jobs, provide a mechanism for investigating the various allegations about the Trump administration that are undermining the faith and confidence of the American people in their government, and stop playing partisan politics.
The legislative branch is supposed to be the check and balance when one of the other branches of government uses its authority inappropriately. Key members of Congress, like the current chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Jason Chaffetz, are shirking their duty to defend the Constitution. We must all email, call and write our Members of Congress to demand the appointment of an independent prosecutor to provide the accountability that Congress seems unable to provide.
I loved the Inside These Lines commercial during last night's Super Bowl. The message of working together in spite of our differences is an important message for all of us here in the United States in the wake of particularly divisive political campaigns of recent years. Here are some thoughts on what working together should mean for us.
Working together takes effort. That has never been more true than today, when you can flip between two news channels covering the same events and come away with two completely different, and highly editorialized, perspectives on those events. It is more important than ever that each of us resists the temptation to withdraw into the news bubble with which we feel most comfortable. Rather, we should force ourselves to listen to the coverage that makes us uncomfortable. We should strive to set aside our emotion and understand the merits of the case being presented by this coverage. And there is almost always some merit to the other side's position.
I am not saying that we should settle when we believe important principles are at stake. I am saying we should realize that the people with whom we disagree also are fighting for principles important to them. The idea is not to avoid conflict at all cost--that is moral cowardice. Rather, we should seek a deeper understanding of issues to use as leverage to get past conflict to solutions that work for all of us.
None of us has a monopoly on being right. In fact, many of us are probably operating on completely different notions of what "being right" means. I can think of three different paradigms for "right" without too much effort: (1) "right" as in compliance with some deeply held, personal moral / religious belief; (2) "right" in the sense of compliance with the system of procedural justice defined by our Constitution; and (3) "right" in the pragmatic sense of being most likely to achieve some desired end. These three paradigms potentially conflict with each other, of course. Moreover, even people who agree on a paradigm for "right" can disagree over how to apply that paradigm in a particular case.
The authors of our Constitution clearly understood the different paradigms for "being right" and the potential for disagreement within each paradigm. They enshrined the freedom of conscience of each individual within the First Amendment to the Constitution. They created the judicial branch of government as a way to adjudicate differences in interpretation of the Constitution itself. And they were so completely unable to resolve the most pressing social issue of their day--slavery--that the best "pragmatic" solution they could come up with was to basically table the issue for 20 years. The fact that we disagree is not a sign that our republic is broken. It is a sign that our republic works as well as it has ever worked.
Our republic is in danger only when we stop talking to each other, when we game the system for partisan ends, and stop using the procedural mechanisms designed to help us resolve our differences.
personally, but he is a distinguished warrior. I understand he is well thought of among his peers. You may recall him as the Marine Division Commander who relieved one of his Regimental Commanders during the push to capture Baghdad in the Iraq War. In that regard, he seems to me a Patton-like figure. I like Patton as a warfighter, but I don't think he would have been a good Secretary of Defense. Here are my initial thoughts about this announcement:
(1) I am a structuralist when it comes to our government. By that I mean the structure of our government can and should support the Constitution and effective, efficient government. General Mattis is a recently retired general officer. To me, appointing a guy like that to the position of Secretary of Defense has the potential to undermine civilian control of the military. This is especially true given that General Flynn is going to be the National Security Advisor (another very conservative, Patton-like military figure). There is a potential for group think with too many key decision makers who have the same experience and character traits. We must recognize the possibility that putting a slew of retired generals into the cabinet could undermine some of the structural checks and balances of our government.
(2) On the positive side, General Mattis is a warfighter who can potentially cut through a bunch of partisan and political red tape to reform the DoD (the largest part of the discretionary budget goes to DoD). The Department of Defense is bloated and in need of reform. Our country is at war, and has been at war for fifteen years. So this appointment could be really good if it leads us to cut waste in our defense infrastructure, divest some of the missions that have migrated under the Defense Department in recent years that don't really belong there, improve communications within the federal government, and prosecute our ongoing combat operations more effectively.
(3) Regardless of who becomes the next Secretary of Defense, we should all demand Congress provide a fresh authorization for the ongoing use of military force in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere around the world. This is not only necessary from the perspective of resourcing ongoing operations appropriately, but also to ensure our elected officials are accountable for what the government is doing. With one party in control of both the executive and legislative branches, Congress should be able to stop the passive-aggressive patter about executive overreach and start accepting responsibility for the traditional role of the legislative branch as a check on the executive branch.
(4) If General Mattis is confirmed as Secretary of Defense, both the senior active military advisor to the President and the senior civilian representative of the Defense Department will be Marine four star generals for at least several months. The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also a Marine four star general, General Dunford. The president should have military advisors with diverse experience sets. America's strategic nuclear arsenal is controlled by the Navy and the Air Force. While the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is an Air Force general, it seems to me that having both a SecDef and a Chairman from the Marine Corps could affect resourcing for strategic forces. A traditional civilian SecDef, or at least one whose military experience was from an earlier phase of life, would be better able to evaluate impartially what is best for American military capability overall without the baggage of loyalty to a branch of service. This may not be fair. To be successful as a four star general, General Mattis would have had to be a proficient joint warfighter, with a mature appreciation for the capabilities of all the services. But my experience in Washington as recently as 12 years ago taught me that bureaucracy, politics and competition for resources are alive and well in the Department of Defense. And General Mattis is not only a retired general, but a recently retired general.
(5) I believe a President's political appointments have two effects that must both be considered. The first effect, and probably the most important, is putting the people in the positions where they can accomplish the desired goals of the administration. The second effect is how the appointments will be perceived by the rest of the world. This second effect is important to the degree that it changes the behavior of other countries toward the US and in the global community. If I was China or Russia or Iran and I saw the incoming US President appoint two retired Patton-like generals to top posts, I would be concerned. Maybe these other international actors get "scared straight" or maybe they start hedging their bets toward a military confrontation. If the reaction is that our international rivals pull in their horns a bit, that could be a great thing. But at the same time, none of us want to start a series of actions and reactions that take us to a world of greater conflict, and that is at least a possibility given the pattern of nominations thus far.
(6) In conclusion, I think that the potential down sides of this appointment outweigh the positives. I am concerned that President-elect Trump has chosen Patton-like personalities for two of the top security posts in his administration. And with General Mattis as SecDef, all three of the new President's top national security advisors (General James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, and National Security Advisor Lieutenant General Mike Flynn) will be generals or recently retired generals. All are distinguished warriors, and I am certain each will do his best for our country as he is given to see what is best. But we are all constrained by our experiences in life. Building a cabinet should be a process of building a team able to quickly assess issues from a wide range of perspectives and implement the best course of action for the good of our country. While his personal qualifications are impeccable, General Mattis does not bring the diversity of experience to the national security team that I think the team will need to best serve our country.
Here we are--can you believe it is already Thanksgiving? The attached editorial from the Wall Street Journal provides the history behind our national celebration of a day of thanks. I enjoyed it, and think you will find it well worth your time: http://www.wsj.com/articles/after-the-election-a-thanksgiving-to-unite-us-1479427725 As with so many of our great traditions, there is an amazing American woman at the root of it.
Sarah Hale (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Josepha_Hale)
The attached article describes the flip-side of the tax the Supreme Court levied on the American people in its 2010 Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission. I know, the Constitution says only Congress can enact a tax. But when the Supreme Court ruled that unlimited political spending is constitutionally protected "free speech", they raised the table stakes for access to Members of Congress -- the people who make our laws. Corporations had to respond by paying the new table stakes, or accept that the law would be shaped by their competitors. All those corporate donations are expensive. Where does the money come from? How about increased prices on everything from cable television to the latest jet for the Air Force. Who pays those increased prices? You and me, when we pay our cable bill or pay the taxes that pay for that jet. Who benefits from the tax? The Members of Congress who receive the donations, and the political party machines who require donations from Members, as outlined in the attached article. Oila! A Supreme Court tax that takes money from the pockets of everyday Americans to line the pockets of career politicians in Congress. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/25/lawmaker-dues-party-extortion-team-effort/84819738/
The election I want to see in November is Senator Sanders versus Governor Kasich, Senator Sanders has three huge caucuses today, in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. I hope he wins all three. msn.com/en-us/news/politics/sanders-seeks-caucus-trifecta-win-to-close-delegate-gap/ar-BBqWFmD?ocid=spartandhp
The American people are angry. Or, at least, a significant number of them seem to be. That’s the message I and most other commentators are taking from this election cycle. The anger of the electorate with the inertia of big government and partisan gridlock goes a long way toward explaining the popularity of supposedly “anti-establishment” candidates on both sides of the aisle: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders. The good news, I think, is that these anti-establishment currents seems to be diluting the extreme partisanship that has dominated the most recent past election cycles. The bad news is that some of the candidates most adept at surfing the anti-establishment waves do so solely on appeals to emotion and without any evidence of the character we need in our next commander-in-chief.
Anger is an emotion. People operating at the emotional level are susceptible to manipulation. I’m concerned that many Americans are being deceived by emotional rhetoric, and that electing our next president on the basis of misplaced loyalty to candidates who mirror the emotional currents of the moment will take us to a bad place. In this essay, I want to present a rational argument for Governor John Kasich and against the appeal to emotion embodied by both Trump and Senator Cruz.
First, however, I must clearly define two terms I introduced on this web site and in my campaign for Congress (as an unaffiliated candidate) two years ago: career citizen and career politician. The labels “career citizen” and “career politician” have everything to do with a person’s character and absolutely nothing to do with where they are employed. The two most important character traits of a career citizen are a selfless dedication to the public good and genuine humility. The most obvious character trait of a career politician is a relentless willingness to subordinate anything and everything to attract and maintain popularity with some target group of constituents. I know career politicians who have never been elected to a single public office. I know career citizens who have spent most of their adult lives in elected public office.
The problem with my distinction between career citizens and career politicians is that it is complex. People operating at the level of emotion like simple, and don’t have the patience for complex thoughts. Such people will apply the most favorable label to the candidate they like without ever connecting that label to real behaviors that are inseparable from the character of a career citizen. Career citizens are principled to the point of enduring public criticism rather than catering to a popular whim that violates a core value. Career citizens have enough humility to know that our republic is grounded in the ability of people with different political philosophies to compromise in order to achieve a tangible, practical, positive outcome for the people of America.
George Herbert Walker Bush—the first President Bush (in office 1988-1992)—is the example I provide when people ask me what a career citizen looks like. A combat veteran of World War II, President Bush began his public service by risking his life to defend our country. Therefore, he understood deeply that his service to our republic might well require actions that would be harmful and even deadly to himself. As president, George H.W. Bush was a leader who made decisions based on what he thought was best for the country. He accepted responsibility for his decisions, even when they were not popular with his own party.
Governor John Kasich is a career citizen. Kasich was the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee the last time we had a balanced federal budget, and he worked across the aisle with a Democratic president to achieve this result. Again as Governor of Ohio, the 7th largest state, Kasich turned a budget deficit into a significant surplus. He was one of a very few Republican governors with the courage to support universal healthcare because he believed it saved money for the state. He is a leader with both integrity and humility, and he exemplifies “selfless dedication to the public good” to a greater extent than any other presidential candidate in this election. I believe this is the reason why Kasich polls better against likely Democratic adversaries than either Trump or Cruz.
Neither Trump nor Senator Cruz rise to the level of “career citizen.” In my estimation, both will sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of their own egos. There is a wide gap between Trump’s emotional rhetoric and the way he has lived his life. He has the nerve to cloak himself in the flag and claim he will make America great again, but he hid behind his father’s wallet when many in his generation were being drafted to serve in Vietnam. I see little evidence of anything that would justify his “medical exemption” from the draft, but I know a lot of Vietnam veterans with wounds and other serious medical issues from their service. He has used bankruptcy laws on multiple occasions to cut his own losses at the expense of the vendors and creditors with whom he has done business. As a candidate, he has demonstrated a willingness to trade away constitutional principles in order to advance his own popularity. I fear as our president he would use any pretense to advance his interests at the expense of our country.
Senator Cruz is a divider who has exploited the partisan environment in Washington to increase his personal reputation at the expense of our republic. The government shutdown he engineered made the public debt worse, not better. Cruz uses the mantle of constitutional conservative as if there is only one interpretation of our Constitution, when in fact any educated person should know that American history is one long saga of the ebb and flow of competing interpretations of that great document. By doing this one thing—acting as if there is only one valid interpretation of the Constitution—Cruz fails to live up to the oath he took to support and defend the Constitution.
Character is the single indispensable quality for which I look in a presidential candidate. Character is best assessed by comparing a candidate’s words with the way he or she has lived their lives. For that reason alone, I endorse John Kasich for President.