The Trump Chronicles, Volume 143: I Give Him Medium Props

Last month I wrote about President Trump’s promise to send out stimulus to all Americans. Today I found out that at least one of my relatives saw a deposit in his account.

The bottom line is this: he actually made a promise he kept. That’s astounding.

But I will say that at the time he promised the checks would go out in two weeks. He made the promise on March 17th and two weeks out was March 31st. That was more than two weeks ago. Also the first wave of checks were made through direct deposit, meaning the federal government had your bank information (mostly because in past years you gave that information to the IRS for your tax refund). Paper checks have not been mailed out but are expected soon.

But today we learned that President Trump insisted that his name be placed on the check and this will delay the payments.

At the end of the day I give him credit to keeping a promise he made.

The Election Chronicles, Volume 12: Now It’s a Two Person Race

This morning we learned that Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign. Presidential campaigns are famously marathons and not sprints. Last June I began the Election 2020 Chronicles with two Republican candidates and twenty Democratic candidates.

President Trump was always the presumptive Republican nominee but the Democratic field was wide open. Back then the fear among us Democrats was that the field was so crowded they would strangle each other, or to use a popular image, form a circular firing squad. On February 12th I suggested that Bernie may defeat former Vice President Joe Biden and give President Trump the opponent he wanted.

Bernie famously describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist” and that has always troubled me. A Socialist government owns the means of production and all citizens are government employees. Workers are allowed to own property and choose their jobs but there is no private industry. Critics (like me) of socialism believe that, for instance, if the government owned the auto industry we’d all still be driving Model T’s. Without the competition that Capitalism provides there’s no advantage to improve.

This is not what Bernie suggests. He does want Medicare for all, but even Medicare isn’t socialized medicine simply because doctors are not government employees. But the Republican playbook salivated at the idea of running against a Socialist. They would blow fear into the electorate by claiming Bernie would take all of their freedom away from them. It might have worked.

Now comes the next challenge: convincing Bernie’s supporters to support Joe. When Bernie ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016 many of Bernie’s supporters felt they couldn’t support Hillary because the Democratic National Committee conspired against Bernie. Frankly, they had a point.

My hope going forward lies with the warm relationship between Bernie and Joe. I hope that, unlike 2016, Bernie’s supporters will feel better about voting for Joe. If they don’t we may well have another 4 years of Trump.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 142: Mr. President, the Buck Stops With You

On the day that the United States recorded its 1,000th death from COVID-19 we find ourselves in the middle of a crisis.

The President’s response? Today he announced guidelines that will relax “social distancing” (ie, keeping a space of six feet between you and another person) in areas that are not (currently) suffering high numbers of COVID-19.

Harry Truman, who was President from 1945 to 1953, famously had a sign on his desk that said: The Buck Stops Here. In other words, when people pass the buck (deny blame) and it ends up on his desk, he cannot pass the buck to anyone.

Contrast that with our current President who famously takes no responsibility for his actions on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to relaxing social distancing he also announced that America should return to normal by Easter Sunday.

Two things are clear: he’s delusional about the the spread of the Pandemic. He can’t stop COVID-19. Nobody can. We can go back to normal only when the infection rate dramatically slows.

Second, he puts his re-election ahead of public safety. If we stop self isolating while the infection rate continues to rise, it will lead to a dramatic spike in new illnesses. But he recognizes that he won’t be re-elected if the economy is bad, if the stock market continues to tank, and unemployment continues to rise.

In other words he is willing to put American lives at risk so he can manipulate his numbers and give him another four years.

Let us pray the American people are smarter than that.

The Election Chronicles 2020; Volume 11: It’s Getting Clearer

Clearly the Election Chronicles 2020 will skew toward the Democrats because only William Weld has the courage to run against President Trump and the Republican nomination is a given.

Less than a year ago I listed 20 candidates for the Democratic nominee and many of us feared that their campaigns would beat up each other and Democrats wouldn’t coalesce, giving President Trump a path to his reelection.

I’m feeling better now.

Early in the race the candidates divided into two camps: moderates and “socialists.” I put socialists in quotations because none of them were true socialists. In a socialist society the government owns the means of production and everyone who works is a government employee. If you’re a doctor you work for the government. If you build cars you work for the government (and there is no Ford or Honda or GM. There is only government built cars). In short there are no private employees.

In any case, in the last month or so several candidates have dropped out leaving the race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And frankly, Bernie really doesn’t have a realistic path toward the nomination and will probably suspend his campaign in the next few days.

The Biden campaign needs to figure out its next step. Four years ago the supporters of Bernie Sanders felt that their candidate was pushed out unfairly by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment (and in fairness they were right) and many of them stayed home on election day. I hope that Joe Biden can reach out to them and say this:

“OK, I get that your support for Bernie Sanders didn’t end up with his nomination. I get that I’m not your first choice. But I also hope that you aren’t looking for another four years of President Trump. If you vote for me I promise that I will work hard to ensure that you have health care. If we are still suffering from this pandemic I will work hard to ensure that our health care workers are safe and able to care for the sick. And assuming we are still suffering from a recession I’ll work to regain confidence in our economy. I’ve been this way before. The last time a Republican President left office we were in the middle of the Great Recession. The only reason it didn’t become the Second Great Depression was because President Obama and I pushed legislation through Congress that turned things around and started the bull market that the current President claims credit for.”

Overwhelmingly the Democratic candidates who suspended their campaigns have endorsed Joe. Democrats like myself need to joint Team Biden. At the beginning of the campaign I supported New Jersey Senator Corey Booker. I’m not sure why but his campaign never took off. When he dropped out I moved my chips to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The weekend before the California primary Mary Pete suspended his campaign and I voted for Joe Biden.

If you’re reading this I ask that you vote for the person who can defeat Donald Trump.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 141: Let’s Keep Track of This Promise

Yesterday, March 17, at a White House Press Conference Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke about ways to improve the economy. Today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 19,898.92; when President Trump took office on January 20, 2017 the DJIA was 19,847.25 and it’s understandable that the White House is nervous.

But if there is one thing we’ve learned with this administration it’s this: they are long on making promises and short on keeping them. And Secretary Mnuchin said that he is “looking at sending checks to Americans immediately” and said that he is looking at doing this in two weeks. He didn’t say how much they would be, though many are looking at $1,000 or who would be eligible except that he doesn’t support paying millionaires.

So here’s the deal: two weeks from yesterday is March 31st. I’ll be checking my mailbox that day and I encourage all of you to do the same. And if we don’t see a check, we’ll know that this is yet one more time the White House promised something they didn’t deliver.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 140: The President is Getting More Irrational

President Trump’s troubles appear to be continuing. In a previous post I spoke about how he’s bragged for three years about the healthy economy but has no plan for a downturn. This past week we’ve seen the economy go from a market correction to a bear market.

But on this post I want to concentrate on his mishandling of the Coronavirus. There’s an excellent article timeline on the spread of the disease.

As we learned more about this virus President Trump continued to attempt to wish it away. You can read the background here. On March 9th he tweeted this: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, “The risk is low to the average American.”

This past Wednesday he appeared in the oval office hoping to assure us that he knew what he was doing and had a path forward. He failed on all fronts. Without notifying any of our European allies he instituted a travel ban for much of Europe. Well those countries where he doesn’t have a golf course or hotel.

He also made serious errors that the White House had to walk back. He proclaimed a travel ban to everyone except Americans. The actually edict blocked foreigners who had been to European Union countries. He also claimed that health insurers would waive all copayments for people suffering from the Coronavirus. The White House later clarified that they would only waive copayments for testing for the virus. Finally he claimed the embargo would cover cargo coming from Europe. That wasn’t true.

Finally, he continues to blame everyone else. He recently blamed President Obama for his handling of the H1N1 virus in 2009.

The speech he was supposed to give? For a contrast (and yes, I know it was a movie) was a speech given by President Beck in the movie Deep Impact.

Mr. President, you need to step up or start packing.

The Election Chronicles 2020; Volume 10: After South Carolina and Super Tuesday

I had hoped to post after the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 29th and before Super Tuesday yesterday. Alas, it didn’t happen.

The days since Super Tuesday are all about former Vice President Joe Biden. Before South Carolina many of us assumed his campaign was in trouble because he did poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Nearly from the beginning of the 2020 campaign Democrats have had to choose between two lanes: mainstream and far left. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren advocated dramatic changes in health care and higher education. They weren’t satisfied with the Affordable Care act and student loans: they wanted Medicare for all and student loan forgiveness. Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg argued to continue the President Obama’s agenda. All candidates wished to defeat President Trump and reverse his xenophobia and his disrespect for his office. All candidates pledged to free immigrant children from cages and reverse the policy that demanded that political refugees return to dangerous and filthy conditions in Mexico.

I’m a Democrat in the mainstream lane. I’ve never felt comfortable with Bernie or Elizabeth but I wold have happily voted for anyone who ran against President Trump. That said, I’m thrilled with how well Joe has done since Saturday.

After Iowa and New Hampshire Joe needed not only a win in South Carolina, he needed a big win. He got it. He beat Bernie 48% to 20%. After his win opponents, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar exited the race. This was good news for Joe Biden as both of them endorsed him.

This gave him the momentum going into Super Tuesday and his victory moved him into the frontrunner. In the last few days Pete, Amy, Michael Bloomburg, and Elizabeth Warren have left the campaign. I appreciate their patriotism and their willingness to suspend their campaigns in favor of coalescing around one candidate who can beat President Trump.

The race for the Democratic nominee comes down to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Next week: Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington.

Stay tuned.

The Trump Chronicles, Volume 139: The Money Chronicles, Volume 19: This is Exactly What I Feared

I’ve been warning since the 2016 election that the presidency of Donald Trump would be bad for our nation, and even our world. My primary concern centered on the probability that President Trump would be faced with a disaster he just couldn’t solve, due to a combination of ignorance and a complete inability to lead.

Frankly I thought it would be a geopolitical problem and so far he appears to have dodged that.

But this week, I believe, was his reckoning.

Almost from his first day in office he bragged about success in the Dow Jones average. Necessary spoilers: the Dow Jones average isn’t the economy and there is reason to believe that the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index is a better gauge. But everyone looks at the DJIA so here we are.

And for the past 3 years I’ve heard from Trump supporters that they are willing to overlook his lack of a moral compass, his history of sexual assaults, and, well you get the message. The one thing they tell me is that he has been good for the economy. They tell me that Trump will make them rich and nothing else matters.

Until last week. You can read about this here: in five days the index lost 3,583 points or 12.4%

It’s the consensus that this downturn is a direct result of the recent Corona virus also know as COVID-19. These things happen when you’re president. The virus began in China but has now spread globally. The need to limit travel of people and goods badly impacts the world’s economies and global stock markets’ downturn results directly from this.

So what do you do if you’re President Trump? Well, that’s the problem. In 2018 he fired the Pandemic Team from the Center for Disease and Prevention. They were the scientists who would have been the front line of battling the Corona virus. But they’re gone.

Instead he went to his playbook: claim credit for everything that goes well and blame others for everything that goes wrong.

And that’s what he’s done. He’s blamed the Democrats and the media for the downturn. He’s also tried to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic.

Speaking as both a Democrat and blogger let me say this: despite what you’ve heard, we don’t want this to happen. An economic downturn not only hurts our retirement savings it also hurts the most vulnerable among us. Our taxes depend on three things: income (income tax), purchases (sales tax), and property values (property tax). A recession hurts all of these: rising unemployment lowers income tax. People who are out of work (or fear becoming out of work) don’t buy things. People who fear an economic downturn put off moving and this lowers property values and therefore taxes.

Simply put, our history tells us that when government has to cut or eliminate programs it doesn’t hurt the wealthy, it hurts the poor and vulnerable.

It looks like it’s going to be a tough ride.

Thoughts on Lent 2020

I write this on the evening of Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the 40 day preparation for Easter. Ash Wednesday commemorates the time that Jesus fasted in the wilderness before his passion, death, and resurrection. Catholics and other Christians commemorate this in different ways. As children many of us were told we should give up something we like (candy, soda, etc.). Adults were told to give up things that were bad for them (tobacco, alcohol, etc.).

A few decades ago some followers suggested that instead of giving up something we like we could chose to do something positive. I remember someone deciding to pick up a piece of trash everyday. He had no illusion that this would end the problem of worldwide trash but it would make him more aware of our need to care for the world. I also know someone who decided to spend Lent making certain that he would compliment someone every day. He would say “good job” or “I like working with you” or whatever.

Three years ago Pope Francis enumerated a list of things we can do for Lent and I keep coming back to it. And I wish to share it with you:

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Thank you Francis.

The Election Chronicles 2020; Volume 9: The Democratic Field Winnows

Last night I reported on the results of the New Hampshire primary. Unlike Iowa, these results came to us clearly and soon. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar did well.

To the surprise of many, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren did poorly.

Primaries tell voters who to vote for but they also tell voters who they shouldn’t work for. Since last night we’ve learned that Andrew Yang, Deval Patrick, and Michael Bennett suspended their campaigns. I give props to Andrew, Deval, and Michael while recognizing that none of them saw a road to the White House.

A year ago I looked at Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren as the favorites to defeat President Trump. Now, in February of 2020 it appears neither of them will win the Democratic nomination. Most Democrats will vote for anyone who can defeat President Trump and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have expressed that they will vote for someone President Trump can defeat.

In the next few weeks voters in Nevada and South Carolina will vote. Both states have voters who aren’t as white as Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll see how our candidates will do with black and brown voters.

On March 3rd I (as a Californian) will have a vote on Super Tuesday.