Everyone needs to establish standards

trump hotelThere are certain expectations we, as citizens, have for the individual occupying the White House. We expect that they have a certain level of integrity, honesty, morals, intelligence, experience, judgment and so forth even if we do not always agree with positions, political or otherwise, they may take.
Clearly there have been times in which we may have been let down by occupants of the White House, but just as certainly failure to live up to expectations should not result in lowering our expectations. We should always demand the best of our elected officials even if, at times, we are let down by their actions and judgment.


Back to the Future via Biff - or Trump

downloadQuite the uproar was created recently with the announcement by the current occupant of the Oval Office of his intention to impose an across-the-board 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. His stated target is China for “dumping” steel on the U.S. market.
“Dumping” is actually a formal term and refers to a product being “dumped” on a foreign market by selling it at less than fair market value as a means of cornering the market in that foreign country. The price of the product in the importing country is far less than the price of the same product being sold domestically, in this case, China.
Back in the 1980s, the threat to our domestic steel industry was Japan. Trump, in his wisdom, is claiming that China is currently dumping steel on the U.S. market and his across-the-board tariffs are intended to address that unfair practice. Problem is that China currently accounts for only about two percent of our imported steel, so the across-the-board action is actually hurting allies such as Canada, which accounts for almost 50 percent of our imported steel.
A few months back, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed imposing anti-dumping duties on Canada for its exports to the United States of softwood lumber. Anti-dumping duties are targeted to a specific country to counter the effect of the less than fair market value pricing. It seems baffling that if Chinese steel exports were the true culprit, then imposition of anti-dumping duties should have been the preferred course of action, if applicable.
Imposing or raising tariffs on imported products are designed to protect a specific industry. The United States Customs Service was created in 1789 to collect tariffs on foreign goods as a means of protecting the fledgling industries of the newly-created nation. In today’s global economy the rules are a bit different.


Rex Tillerson actually got this one right

MC DC NRAs Solution to EverythingAdmittedly, I was not a fan of naming the head of Exxon-Mobil as the head of the State Department, but I must give credit where credit is due. Rex Tillerson was exactly right when he described the current occupant of the Oval Office as a moron. The president proves the accuracy of that assessment on an almost daily, if not hourly, basis but no example is better than his current cure-all for eliminating gun massacres in schools: arming teachers!
Now, to be quite honest, if I were a teacher in a classroom and there was a shooter with an assault rifle in the hallway firing at will, I would definitely wish I had in my possession a firearm. That goes without saying.
However, simply adding the arming of teachers, as some eight states currently allow, into the broader discussion is not what makes Trump a moron. It is his sincere belief that he just came up with the solution that seemed to have eluded everyone else other than the NRA. The expression on his face when he shared this brainstorm with the survivors of school gun violence is priceless.
The fact that he is incapable of assessing the full range of ramifications of his, in his mind, brilliant solution is truly frightening coming from a sitting president. Not realizing the complexity of the issue and the need to implement a broad range of actions, including fewer guns, to address this epidemic of mass shootings is what truly makes him so unfit for the office he now holds.


When is the right time to talk about guns?


nikolas cruz floridaThere have been multiple school shootings in the United States in just the first 45 days of 2018. Of course, there are multiple mass shootings not at schools that have occurred too.
After every mass shooting, politicians hide behind the phrase “it is too soon” to discuss what needs to be done to address this epidemic of mass shootings. “Too soon” buys them time so they don't have to address the problem and risk their A rating from the National Rifle Association.
Oh, and by the way, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” does absolutely nothing to address the ongoing threat to every family nor does it do anything to comfort the families of the shooting victims.
In the aftermath of the most recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., at which 17 individuals lost their lives, the question is no longer whether it is “too soon” to discuss actions that must be taken; the question is whether “it is too late.”


Promises, promises, and is it tee time again already?

Trump on golf courseI know we are in the middle of winter, but I didn't want to let this issue escape my scrutiny. Besides, it is sunny in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Remember during the presidential campaign of 2016 how often candidate Trump complained about how many times his predecessor took time off to play golf? Quite a bit as I recall. I also recall quite vividly candidate Trump promising not to play golf if elected because there is so much to do there won't be enough time to play golf.
He stated over and over again how he will be working, not playing. How he would “stay in the White House and work his ass off.” He accused his predecessor of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods, than the players on the PGA tour. Quite a difference between promises made during a campaign and the reality after election. Especially when it comes to golf and the presidency and Donald J. Trump!
Now for some of that post-election reality as it relates to golf and vacation days as a whole. Reality: Donald J. Trump during his first year in office took five times more vacation days than his predecessor Barack H. Obama.


Remember to “Turn out the vote”

FB IMG 1508619290410You might remember my column from a few months back on Oct. 5, entitled “Turning rhetoric into action with results.” It focused on efforts of Democrats at both the county and state levels to more effectively garner grassroots support for Democratic candidates. Consider this column to be a sequel or follow-up to that earlier column.
On the topic of turnout and grassroots fundraising, I attended a precinct organization meeting several weeks ago attended by more than 100 precinct leaders, district liaisons, and area coordinators. The function was hosted by the Montgomery County Democratic Party. During this meeting, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) presented the Montgomery County Democratic Party with a check for $60,000, representing grassroots fundraising at its finest.
As our other Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) often points out, grassroots fundraising primarily accomplishes two things. First, it makes the small donor feel more a part of the campaign process. Second, it causes the candidates to pay closer attention to the issues important to these small grassroots donors.
This is how it should be and this is at the core of how Democrats intend to reverse the current tide in elections at every level as we approach the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential elections. The importance of turning the tide cannot be underscored enough as the effort involves growing the grassroots in individual state legislative districts across the entire country to start taking back state houses as we approach the 2020 census and the accompanying redrawing of Congressional district lines in 2021.


Racists are simply and merely lazy

Charottlesville 2Racists are lazy.
There is no way around that realization. It takes some effort to view people as individuals and then weigh the good points against the bad points to make a determination about the quality of each individual. It is far easier to paint groups of people with a broad brush and take the individual assessment out of the equation. It is much easier to accept or condemn them as a group basing the decision on factors such as race or religion, or, for that matter, any of a host of other considerations such as income, country of birth or ancestry, level of education or any of a myriad of other subjective factors.
When it comes to race, that is a real easy one; it's as easy as distinguishing black, maybe brown, from white, no research necessary.


Redistributing the wealth the old-fashioned Donald Trump way…

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D).  PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZRep. Jamie Raskin (D).     PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZWhenever a Democratic administration attempts to raise the tax rate on the ultra-wealthy among us in an attempt to get them to pay their fair share of the tax burden you will inevitably hear the cries of “redistribution of wealth,” followed by the ultimate buzz word, “socialism.”
Well, the recently-enacted Republican federal tax plan does exactly that, it redistributes wealth. HOWEVER, it does so in a new and innovative way by shifting financial resources from the highly-taxed, so-called “blue” states such as Maryland, New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey to the so-called “red” states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama to name just a few.
An individual in Mississippi who ordinarily takes the standard deduction on his federal return will see that deduction rise from the first $12,000 to the first $24,000. Big windfall.
In Maryland, an individual who ordinarily itemizes (because in such a highly-taxed state, state and local taxes are a major item to deduct), those middle class deductions, according to the federal tax plan, are either no longer allowed or significantly capped. Disaster!


Is there a doctor in the house?

NFL ProtestsAdmittedly I am not a doctor. I never attended medical school. I never even played a doctor on television. I did stay too many times to count at a Holiday Inn Express, but somehow I still don't consider myself a doctor.
However, I do receive numerous emails every single day. Several hundred for that matter and I am not even Secretary of State. How Hillary Clinton kept up with all of her emails is beyond me. I recently received an email regarding ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe the sender got confused with the concept of the deficit in light of the recently passed Republican tax plan.
Anyway, I decided to take a look at the information out of curiosity and discovered something quite alarming. The president of the United States may very well be struggling with ADHD. As a matter of fact, this president may be afflicted with a great many more afflictions than just ADHD.


Setting the record straight for 2017

20170712 152519After an entire year of Trump in the Oval Office, it might just be the right time to set some of the record straight as we enter his second year in office. Let's begin with the oft-heard phrase “see something, say something” as an essential element of the war on terrorism. In his very own words during the presidential campaign: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
In essence, Trump is identifying an entire religious group as a threat to the security of the United States. The reality, of course, is that most, if not almost all, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are conducted by homegrown terrorists who either entered the country legally or were actually born in the U.S. but became “radicalized” years after entering the United States. This reality necessitates the need to have those familiar with the activities of terrorists prior to the attack say something when they see something.
Problem: Is ostracizing an entire religious community conducive to encouraging the members of that religious community to “say something when they see something?” Certainly not conducive; more likely counterproductive, but that is the Trump way!

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