Necessary Changes In The Trump Transition Team

On Tuesday The Washington Examiner posted an article about changes to the Trump Transition team. Chris Christie has been replaced by Vice-President elect Mike Pence, and other changes have been announced.

The article reports:

President-elect Trump’s White House transition team has vowed to go lobbyist-free, after coming under criticism for staffing up on lobbyists despite campaign promises to fight the influence of special interests in Washington.

Vice President-elect Pence and the White House transition have signaled plans to clear out any lobbyists serving in official roles as they begin the 10-week transition process until Trump’s inaugration on Jan. 20, according to a report from Fox News.

Draining the swamp is not going to be easy–there are a lot of people who have a vested interest in maintaining the swamp–it has made them very wealthy.

Some Details The Mainstream Media Somehow Forgot

Hillary Clinton loves to criticize Donald Trump’s management of his Atlantic City casinos. However, The Wall Street Journal posted an article on Wednesday that gives a more complete picture of exactly what happened there. Evidently Democratic policies in Atlantic City and New Jersey played a major role in the events there.

The article reports:

In 1976 New Jersey voters approved a referendum that legalized gambling in Atlantic City. The constitutional amendment required casino revenues to fund programs for senior citizens and disabled residents, but politicians have instead funneled the cash to favored projects and businesses under the guise of promoting development.

…A 1984 law required casinos to pay 2.5% of gaming revenues to the state or “reinvest” 1.25% in tax-exempt bonds issued by the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for state and community “projects that would not attract capital in normal market conditions.” Investment recipients have included Best of Bass Pro shop, Margaritaville and Healthplex.

A decade later, state lawmakers imposed a $1.50 fee (which has since doubled) on casino parking spots to fund Atlantic City transportation, casino construction and a convention center. In 2004 lawmakers added a $3 surcharge for casino hotel stays to finance new hotel rooms and retail establishments, which had the effect of promoting unsustainable commercial and casino development.

As the cost of operating the casinos rose (thanks to the policies of the state–run by the Democrats), other states legalized gambling–Connecticut in 1992 and Pennsylvania in 2004. Atlantic City not only lost its monopoly–but the cost of running the casinos increased significantly.

The article further reports:

Irony alert: Mr. Trump in 1997 sued to block the state’s redistribution of casino income when a competing developer stood to benefit from its investments. However, New Jersey’s liberal Supreme Court ruled that voters should have known that the referendum was actually intended to revitalize Atlantic City tourism, not help seniors.

The article concludes:

Employment in Atlantic City has declined by about 10% over the last decade. Since 2010 the city’s property tax base has shrunk by two thirds. Local politicians raised property taxes by 50% between 2013 and 2014 to compensate for the dwindling tax base, but this has merely deterred new business investment and propelled flight.

Meantime, local politicians have continued to spend like they work for Google. Between 2010 and 2014, expenditures increased by 10% while government debt doubled. The city government spends about $6,600 a year per resident—more than any other city in the state including Newark ($2,344). Its budget exceeds that of nearly half of New Jersey’s counties. Labor costs constitute about 70% of the budget.

Earlier this year, the city emergency manager projected a $393 million cumulative deficit over the next five years absent reforms. More than 100 workers have recently been laid off. In May Democratic legislators and Governor Chris Christie passed a bailout that allows the city to squeeze an additional $120 million out of casinos in revenues annually to compensate for lower property-tax revenue.

To sum up: New Jersey Democrats plundered Atlantic City casinos, redistributed the spoils and loaded up the city with unaffordable levels of debt. The gambling mecca is a five-star example of failed liberal policies.

This sounds like Detroit. This is what we are in for if we put Hillary Clinton in the White House and allow Democratic policies to control our economy. I need to mention that in both Atlantic City and Detroit, had the free market been allowed to operate without union and government interference, the industries involved might have been flexible enough to deal with the competition. Because of government interference (and in the case of Detroit, greedy union bosses), the cities went from prosperous and flourishing to poor and decaying.

Some Thoughts On The Republican Debate

Late last night The Weekly Standard posted an article about the Republican Debate last night. The debate on CNBC was a tutorial on media bias. The questions were ridiculous, and the candidates called out the moderators on the silliness.

The article reports:

The three winners of the night were pretty obvious: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.

Rubio ended Jeb Bush’s campaign with the kind of body shot that buckles your knees. That’s on Bush, who never should have come after Rubio in that spot for a host of strategic and tactical reasons. But what should scare Hillary Clinton is how effortless Rubio is even with throwaway lines, like “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.” Most people have no idea how fearsome raw political talent can be. Clinton does know because she’s seen it up close. She sleeps next to it for a contractually-obligated 18 nights per year.

Cruz was tough and canny—no surprise there. He went the full-Gingrich in his assault on CNBC’s ridiculous moderators. He did a better job explaining Social Security reform than Chris Christie, even (which is no mean feat). And managed to look downright personable compared with John Harwood, whose incompetence was matched only by his unpleasantness. If you’re a conservative voter looking for someone who is going to fight for your values, Cruz must have looked awfully attractive.

Then there was Trump. Over the last few weeks, Trump has gotten better on the stump. Well, don’t look now, but he’s getting better at debates, too. Trump was reasonably disciplined. He kept his agro to a medium-high level. And his situational awareness is getting keener, too. Note how he backed John Kasich into such a bad corner on Lehman Brothers that he protested, “I was a banker, and I was proud of it!” When that’s your answer, you’ve lost the exchange. Even at a Republican debate.

And Trump had a hammer close: “Our country doesn’t win anymore. We used to win. We don’t anymore.” I remain convinced that this line (along with his hardliner on immigration) is the core of Trump’s appeal. But he didn’t just restate this theme in his closing argument. He used it to: (1) beat up CNBC; and (2) argue that his man-handling of these media twits is an example of what he’ll do as president. It was brilliant political theater.

I am not a Trump supporter, but I am supporter of the way he handles the press–he doesn’t back down. He’s not afraid of calling them out when they lie.

The article at The Weekly Standard regards the six candidates with an actual shot at winning the nomination as Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and possibly Fiorina and Christie. I think they are on to something. I will say that whoever wins the nomination will have some really smart potential cabinet members to choose from.

The First Republican Debates

I feel obligated to share a few thoughts on the Republican debates last night. Obviously, the star of the first debate was Carly Fiorina. She obviously has the education, business experience and acumen, and leadership experience to be President. The other person in the early debate who came across very well was Bobby Jindal. Governor Jindal also has the educational background and leadership ability to be President.

The second debate was a little more convoluted. At this point I should mention that I listened to both debates rather than watching them due to cable television issues in the community where I live. The second debate sounded more like the World Wrestling Federation than Republicans, but it was instructive. After a question was asked about the ‘war on women,’ I was glad to see Lindsey Graham comment that the ‘war on women’ is happening in the Middle East in the country that President Obama is trying to make a treaty with–not in the Republican party. The concept of a ‘war on women’ has no place in a Republican debate–it is a Democrat party talking point and Democrat party fiction. I was also left with the impression that Chris Christie is definitely from New Jersey. Having spent my teenage years there, his concept of discussion was somewhat familiar. Recently I had a friend in North Carolina who had been dealing with a New Yorker ask me how to tell if a New Yorker was angry–it seemed as if they were always talking very fast and very loud.

The Republican party can do better in the coming debates. The problem was not with the candidates–I felt that the problem was in the questions. We don’t need to see candidates attack each other–we need candidates that state their positions and contrast those positions with those of the Democrat party. The voters will choose the person who expresses their ideas clearly and is most aligned with their views. I also suspect that the participants in the next major Republican debate will be slightly different.

A Really Bad Idea–Both Politically and Practically

Yesterday, Bloomberg,com reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has released his plan to reform Social Security.

The article reports:

Christie, the 52-year-old Republican governor of New Jersey, called for phasing out retirement payments to those with more than $200,000 a year in other income and smaller reductions for those earning $80,000. Together, he said, the overhaul would save $1 trillion over a decade.

“It is about telling all Americans the truth — and without delay,” he said during a 40-minute speech at St. Anselm College in Manchester. “If you believe we should keep this promise, as I do, that all Americans should have access to the economic security these programs provide, then that costs money.”

Spelling out his plans in detail for the first time, Christie proposed:

— Raising the retirement age for Social Security to 69 from 67, for those born in 1960 or later;

— Raising the age to qualify for Medicare by one month per year until it reaches 67 from the current 65.

— Eliminating payroll taxes for seniors who remain in the workforce.

I have some major problems with this idea. Social Security is deducted from almost everyone’s paycheck from the time they begin work. Federal employees, active duty military (and Congress) are exempt. The money was supposed to be put in a lock box where it could accrue interest and grow to meet the increasing need. In 1965 (or so) that lock box disappeared and the money was used to fund the war in Vietnam and the Great Society programs. Since then it has been used to fund welfare and entitlement programs. Generally speaking, these entitlement programs do not have a work requirement and the people collecting the money do not have to do anything to earn the money they receive. In most states welfare recipients are not drug tested (most working people have to pass a drug test in order to get a job). Social Security is not the place to cut the federal budget–the people collecting it have paid money into it–it is not their fault the government chose to spend the money.

Recently my husband and I took a vacation to Iceland and Wales. In Wales I learned something about giving to people who may be in need. My husband and I volunteered in a restaurant run by a church. In America, it would be similar to a soup kitchen. However, there was something about the restaurant (which served dinner once a week) that impressed me. The meals were not free. There was a small charge for dinner and a somewhat limited menu to choose from. If someone came in who could not pay, they were given a free meal, but generally speaking, a diner paid something for his dinner. Somewhere along the line, we have taught a group of Americans that there is a free lunch. It is time for that to end. We are accomplishing nothing by denying benefits to those who have paid for them and giving benefits to those who are contributing nothing. That is the wrong message to send.

As an afterthought–does anyone really believe that once an income limit is set on receiving Social Security there will be no changes to that limit? Governor Christie’s plan has the potential of turning Social Security into a plan that everyone who works pays into but is only available to those making less than $50,000 a year in retirement. His plan will create another entitlement that everyone who is working pays into and everyone who is not working can collect from.

Human Nature vs. Common Sense

Remember when you were a teenager and you got grounded? Nobody likes being told they have to stay in one place and not move. In America, where we are used to having freedom of movement, it is even worse.

Hot Air posted an article today about the feelings of Americans regarding the quarantine of those exposed to Ebola versus the feelings of those who have been exposed to Ebola.

The article reports:

This should be perfectly intuitive for anyone who has had even fleeting exposure to human nature, but it is easy to suspect that an administration that reflexively bleats “science” in lieu of a cogent argument may lack the requisite experience to know that people will instinctively resist internment.

The media appeared certain that they had in nurse Kaci Hickox a figure they could transform into a victim of the imperious bully Chris Christie when she was involuntarily quarantined after returning to the United States from West Africa where she aided Ebola victims. In creating an object of pity out of Hickox, the press perhaps believed they could take some of the heat off of President Barack Obama who, in opposing the quarantining of those returning from West Africa, is on the wrong side of 80 percent of the public just days before a national election.

I listened to parts of an interview with Kaci Hickox on the radio today. She was talking about her decision not to be quarantined. Her argument was that she is healthy, feels good, and there is no reason to quarantine her. I am sure the doctor who is currently hospitalized in New York City with Ebola felt the same way.

The article reminds us of Doctor Spencer’s story:

“He told the authorities that he self-quarantined. Detectives then reviewed his credit-card statement and MetroCard and found that he went over here, over there, up and down and all around,” a source said.

Spencer finally ’fessed up when a cop “got on the phone and had to relay questions to him through the Health Department,” a source said.

The refusal of Ms. Hickox to be quarantined for twenty-one days is an example of someone who is so wrapped up in what they want that they are unconcerned about the safety of those around them. Hopefully, Ms. Hickox will not come down with Ebola, but if she has been exposed to the disease, she needs to do everyone a favor and stay in quarantine for twenty-one days.

Somehow This Didn’t Get A Lot Of Coverage

Have you noticed that every time a Republican seems to be a frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential race a scandal, lawsuit, or criminal charge arises? This is not because Republicans are corrupt or because Republicans do unethical things–it is because Democrats understand how to use the courts and the media. A recent example of this is the scandal involving Chris Christie and the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Remember how much you heard about this when it first became news? Well, now that there is no evidence that Governor Christie had anything to do with the lane closings, how much have you heard?

Fox News recently reported the following:

The U.S. Justice Department probe into the Bridgegate scandal hanging over Chris Christie’s political career has found no evidence so far that he knew of the traffic lane closures in advance, reports said Thursday.

Federal officials opened an investigation nine months ago to determine what the Republican governor might have known about the September 2013 lane shutdowns on the George Washington Bridge, and when.

The probe to date has turned up no evidence Christie had any prior information or directed that lanes be closed for four days, federal sources told WNBC.

Somehow the story just isn’t as important when Governor Christie cannot be blamed.

Anatomy Of A Smear

Before “bridgegate,” Chris Christie was beating Hillary Clinton in preliminary presidential polling. Considering the political history of the Clintons in dealing with their opponents, there was no way that was going to be allowed to stand. Just for the record, I would like to repeat that I do not support Chris Christie for President. My three choices are Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, or Rick Perry, none of which at this time has a realistic chance for the nomination because the Republican establishment would never support them.

The first attack on Governor Christie was about the closing of the traffic lanes in Fort Lee. I will get to that later. After that attack, the Democrat Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken claimed that Christie’s administration threatened to withhold Sandy relief funding if she didn’t approve a building development project favored by the governor. The media went wild. Now they had him–he was bullying this poor innocent mayor–and bullying right now is the worst crime anyone can commit. Well, things are not always what they appear to be.

Guy Benson at Townhall.com did some research. He discovered that the Journal entry she claims to have made was undated and unverifiable. To add to the story, an attorney who represented a client in an unrelated case has stepped forward to point out that Mayor Zimmer testified that she does not keep a record or journal of conversations on city business. She said so in a sworn deposition taken last July, then again at trial.

The article further reports:

David Mello is the only shred of independent corroboration in this case — in support of Zimmer, that is. He is described by MSNBC as a Zimmer loyalist, and openly admits that he was adamantly opposed to Christie’s re-election. Why he waited for several days after this story broke to remember his conversation with Zimmer is unclear, but a core question remains: Why didn’t he, a hardcore Christie opponent, report the alleged corruption scheme to authorities or the voting public when he first learned of the issue?

…The initial MSNBC article that went viral several weekends ago left a strong impression that the city of Hoboken, which was 80 percent flooded after Sandy, had been denied virtually bereft of all relief aid, save for an insignificant pittance. In truth, the city has been approved for roughly $70 million in direct relief and reconstruction aid from the federal and New Jersey governments. Christie’s office says Hoboken is set to receive even more, pending federal approval. Zimmer’s chief complaint was about “hazard mitigation” funds. She says she requested more than $100 million in that specific type of aid, but only received approximately $350,000. Her original ask was unrealistic in the extreme. The pot of money Christie’s administration had to distribute for this purpose was about $300 million — total, for the entire state.

…Mayor Zimmer fingered two separate Christie officials, who she says delivered corrupt, quid pro quo threats on behalf of the administration. One was the Lieutenant Governor, who strongly denies it, and the other is a man named Richard Constable. Zimmer says Constable confronted her on the set of a television show, on which they both served as panelists. The network has no record of their supposed conversation, and another panelist who sat directly next to Zimmer has explicitly refused to back up her version of events. Matt Doherty is the Democratic mayor of Belmar, New Jersey. He says he remembers no such conversation ever taking place, and went out of his way to praise Christie’s professionalism and responsiveness after the storm hit.

There is also the fact that the story changed after it was first reported. Originally Mayor Zimmer had claimed that he governor’s anti-Hoboken retaliation was rooted in her decision not to endorse his re-election bid. This, of course, was considered to be another example of the kind of bullying that closed the traffic lanes. Later Mayor Zimmer claimed she was threatened because she did not support a building project. Even later, Mayor Zimmer explicitly told CNN that Hoboken had not endured any form of retaliation from Christie’s office. All three stories happened in the same week.

Later, Mayor Zimmer was praising Governor Christie for the great job he has done. It just doesn’t add up.

So what about the lane closings? Yesterday a lawyer for the former official, David Wildstein, stated that Mr. Wildstein has evidence that Chris Christie knew about the lane closings beforehand. David Wildstein is a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge. The lawyer has not revealed what the evidence is, and an article at Townhall.com includes a tweet from Josh Barro that asks the question, “If Wildstein has evidence the governor knew about the lane closures, why didn’t he turn it over in response to the NJ Leg subpoena?” Good question.

Hot Air posted an article about the ‘new evidence’ that included the following:

Wildstein’s got two possible reasons to lie. One, obviously, is revenge on Christie. Wildstein resigned in early December, no doubt under pressure from the governor’s office. Maybe he has an axe to grind now, if only because he assumed Christie would go to bat for an old friend like him. The other reason is immunity: He’s spent the last two weeks whispering to people that he’s willing to talk if he’s spared the threat of prosecution. The U.S. Attorney hasn’t taken the bait yet. This is an obvious pot-sweetener.

Stay tuned. All is not what it appears to be.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Season Of Stupid Politicians

As a conservative, I have been known to blame the press for the politics of personal destruction aimed at Republican candidates. However, the politics of destruction would be much more difficult if many candidates did not do really stupid things.

Bob McDonnell was a rising star in the Republican party. He did a good job as governor of Virginia. Why did he think he was getting those gifts?

CBN News quotes Governor McDonnell on the corruption charges against him:

“I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility,” McDonnell said in response to the indictment.

“However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised — and Mr. Williams and his company never received — any government benefit of any kind from me or my administration.”

I realize that Democrats do such things are raise campaign money in churches and pass (or not pass) laws the help their friends (see rightwinggranny.com), but Republicans can’t do that. The attacks on Chris Christie continue whether he did anything or not. Meanwhile, when was the last time you heard Hillary Clinton mentioned in the same breath as Benghazi? It’s just the way it is. Republicans have to be totally above board or they will be destroyed. Democrats–not so much.

The other recent stupid political mistake was made by Wendy Davis in Texas. If you can’t get your own life story straight, chances are remembering other fabrications is going to be a problem.

Both political parties need better candidates.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Attack Continues

It is becoming very obvious that the Democrats do not want Hillary Clinton to run against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Now Christie is being investigated for his use of hurricane Sandy funds.

CNN is breathlessly reporting today that:

CNN has learned that federal officials are investigating whether Christie improperly used those relief funds to produce tourism ads that starred him and his family.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the scandal-plagued Republican, who is facing two probes into whether his staff tied up traffic near the country’s busiest bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse his successful re-election bid.

N.J. Democratic legislator: “I do believe laws have been broken.”

If the Sandy inquiry finds any wrongdoing, it could prove even more damaging to Christie’s national ambitions. His performance during and after the superstorm has been widely praised and is a fundamental part of his straight-shooting political brand.

Make no mistake–this is about 2014 and 2016 elections. How much coverage has CNN given to either the IRS or Benghazi scandals?

If the American people allow the press to continually destroy Republican candidates for office, they may find that they do not like the choices they have on election day. As I have said, I am not a big Christie supporter, but I recognize coordinated attacks on politicians when I see them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Agenda?

The Washington Examiner posted an article today pointing out that the big three networks gave the Chris Christie bridge scandal 17 times more news coverage in one day than they gave the IRS scandal in six months. Hmmm.

The article reports:

Since Wednesday night, NBC News included six reports over 14 minutes and 14 seconds. CBS devoted five reports over 12 minutes and 27 seconds. ABC managed 4 stories over seven minutes and 47 seconds, said MRC.

As a comparison over the last six months, NBC featured five seconds on updating the IRS story. CBS responded with a minute and 41 seconds. ABC produced a meager 22 seconds.

Make no mistake, this is about taking out the person the Democrat party considers the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. It also needs to be noted that as the polling numbers now stand, Chris Christie defeats Hillary Clinton in a Presidential campaign.

At this point I would like to state that I don’t want the Republicans to run Chris Christie for President. I think we can do better. There are other governors out there who have good track records, conservative credentials, and a lot more class than Chris Christie.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Destruction Of Potential Republican 2016 Presidential Candidates Begins

A few years ago, I gave a presentation to a group of people entitled, “How to Survive the Silly Season.” The presentation was designed to help the average non-news junkie wade through the junk the media placed in front of them and figure out what the truth was. Usually the silly season for a presidential election begins the day after the mid-term elections. Unfortunately, the silly season for the 2016 election has already begun.

The silly season is one of the main reasons for all the noise we are hearing related to Chris Christie and the traffic jams at Fort Lee. A woman died during the time of those traffic jams and the media is tying her death to the traffic jams. Obviously, there is no way of knowing whether she would have lived if traffic had been flowing smoothly, but somehow the media is omitting that in their reporting.

Chris Christie is frequently mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for President in 2016. That fact is not unrelated to the dust-up about his aides closing traffic lanes at Fort Lee.

What Governor Christie’s aides did was obviously wrong. However, it pales in contrast to using the IRS for political purposes, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, etc. How much coverage have these scandals gotten? Have these scandals been resolved at this point?

This scandal will remain on the front page for at least a week. It will then be put away unless Chris Christie runs for President, at which time it will miraculously appear again.

It is unfortunate that a woman died in the man-made traffic jam, but anyone who has ever driven in or out of New York City during rush hour knows that even extreme traffic jams are not all that unusual.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Should Snooki Get A Tax Break ?

Jersey Shore (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

The Blaze is reporting today that New Jersey must reimburse the producers of that classic television show “Jersey Shore” $420,000 thanks to a now-suspended tax credit program. Governor Christie suspended the Economic Development Authority in 2010, but all deals made before that have to be honored.

I attempted to watch “Jersey Shore” once. I lasted about five minutes. Admittedly, I am long past my teenage and young-adult angst, but the show just struck me as being about some very shallow, self-centered people who were not very entertaining. Among the cast, there seemed to be barely enough intelligence and common sense to fill a teacup. I spent my teenage years in New Jersey, and I can honestly say that the show does not depict the Jersey Shore I remember.

The article reports:

Less than a decade ago, only five states offered financial incentives to movie makers, but by 2010, almost every state in the union had a film commission and a package to offer producers. These generous tax breaks for movies and TV seemed to have gone under the radar until recently. A combination of budget problems and abuses discovered within some of the systems slowed the amount of money being offered by states to filmmakers. However, the Screen Actors Guild website lists all of the state film commission offices which contains offers of rebates/tax credits from 10% to 40%. (Puerto Rico has the most generous package.)

Tax breaks for movies probably do generate short-term revenue, but it’s a shame that the states cannot demand a higher quality product!

Enhanced by Zemanta