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Posts published in “Day: August 4, 2016”

There is no choice


Heard from one of my long-time column readers last week - Wayne Hoffman, the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. While Hoffman seldom agrees with me he would be the first to tell you he appreciates the perspective I bring and the thinking I provoke.

For my part I admire some of the research his group does and the issues they explore. They merit attention because he and his team do a good job of factual reporting. His recent effort to expose the way some legislators can exploit their PERSI retirement by taking a high-paying state job that allows them to average their retirement benefit based primarily on the last three years of their much higher income is one of those “let’s hide from the public this perk” that should be abolished.

Hoffman’s first note to me on last week’s column picked up on the fact that while mentioning that governors make better presidents than senators, as a general rule, and my thesis was parties could only pick for president from their pool of current or former governors, there were in fact two governors that would be on the fall ballot that I’d fail to mention - the Libertarian presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Garry Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.

Hoffman wanted to know what I thought about them and whether I might consider actually voting for the Libertarian ticket. I jokingly wrote back that I might give it some thought, but the truth is a vote for the Libertarian ticket is a vote for Donald Trump and there is no way I’m going to waste my vote on a third party candidate.

For all her shortcomings, Hillary Clinton is a far superior candidate and will be a far better president than Mr. Trump. There is simply no choice to be made, it has to be Hillary all the way. I’ll readily concede to Hoffman that the two governors on that Libertarian ticket are competent and qualified. Unlike Donald Trump, either one of them could do the job of president.

Independents and moderate Republicans, however, cannot and hopefully will not waste their vote. Too much is a stake.

I remain puzzled by those who say Mrs. Clinton is a “liar” and that she cannot be trusted. It remains a mantra chanted daily by her critics. The fiasco of American diplomats losing their lives at Benghazi is most often cited by her critics.

Yet, if one bothered to watch CNN’s coverage of the House hearing where she appeared one had to be impressed with how well she handled herself and the tough grilling for 8½ hours.

So she allegedly lies? If so why have no perjury charges ever been brought against her? And what’s the origin of this bunk about her not being trustworthy? What public trust has she violated? And don’t give me the line about selling state department changes in foreign policy in excchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

That is a serious charge of treason and I’m not aware of any responsible journalistic organization coming up with evidence to substantiate the charge nor has anyone brought a successful suit against her.

Until or unless someone comes up with a story that has real legs I suggest folks stop talking in clichés and engaging in psittacism.

It is this writer’s opinion that the trust question is really a mutation of the respect issue which had its origins in her decision to stand by Bill during the entire sad incident of Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. Many women in particular may have lost some respect for Hillary, and ascribed her decision to crass political calculation rather than accept the possibility that she acted out of true love and loyalty.

It behooves us all to remember one is innocent until proven guilty and Hillary Clinton has never been convicted of one crime, nor do she and Bill have 3500 lawsuits against them.

There really is no choice In November, Wayne, and you know it. There might have been a choice if the GOP convention had selected Governor Kasich, but they did not.

The GOP’s decision to go with Trump has started a Republican decline into the ash heap of history - to the dust from which they sprung where they will be unwept, unhonored and unsung!

Go Hillary!

Trump 96: Bad business


When Donald Trump entered the presidential stakes, one positive thought I had about him was this: "Well, he is a good businessman." He had,that at least. Or so I figured.

Turns out, when you look closer, even that assumption is a con.

The problem is that not a lot of people have a comprehensive view of Trump's business history. Most of us have heard - and Trump often has recounted - this building or project or business venture or that. But how do they fit into place? How were they accomplished? Did they succeed? What was Trump's role in these efforts; what did he do, exactly?

Short of reading the whole of an unauthorized biography, you can now get the clear answers to those questions in a half-hour or less thanks to a fine and clear piece of work just released about Newsweek, by Kurt Eichenwald. It is called, as if warning about what's ahead, "Donald Trump's many business failures, explained."

"Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion," he writes.

From time to time Trump has mentioned a $1 million stake his father Fred Trump, who had a generally consistently successful business track record over in Brooklyn, gave him early in his building development activities (the value of which might be about ten times as large now). But it turns out that was only one small example of the payments he got from dad - one of the smaller payments. Donald Trump was bailed out by his father repeatedly through the years, sometimes via direct payments and sometimes through political and financial contacts his father had developed over the decades (and which Donald, generally, proceeded to trash).

"To sum it all up," Newsweek said, "Trump is rich because he was born rich—and without his father repeatedly bailing him out, he would have likely filed for personal bankruptcy before he was 35."

But what about his basic business instincts, the kind of thing for which he was so celebrated on Celebrity Apprentice?

Best example here is his adventures in Atlantic City casinos. In the 80s he had the thought that money could be made through creating and running casinos. Not a bad thought; there are people who have made lots of money that way. Banks were skeptical of Trump, since he hadn't run a casino before. Talking big, he persuaded Harrah's to join with him in creating a new casino at Atlantic City. Once the money was committed, he pressured Harrah's to promote it not under its own well-known name but under his.

Next? "Harrah’s quickly learned the price—now, with Trump able to argue he knew casinos, financing opportunities that did not exist before opened up, and he was able to use Harrah’s promotion of him as a lever against the entertainment company. Soon after that first casino opened, Trump took advantage of his new credibility with financial backers interested in the gaming business to purchase the nearly completed Hilton Atlantic City Hotel for just $320 million; he renamed it Trump Castle. The business plan was ludicrous: Trump had not only doubled down his bet on Atlantic City casinos but was now operating two businesses in direct competition with each other." (Harrah's soon let its interest be bought out by Trump.)

Then, in spite of being deeply in debt and already having two casinos competing with each other, he opened a third, more expensive still, called the Taj Mahal. You don't have to be an MBA to see a business catastrophe in the making, and it arrived in short order. The only thing that saved Trump was this: The banks lending him money had too much on the line to settle for pennies on the dollar. Trump had become, like the investment banks of 2008, too big to fail. So, amid the eventual closure of the casinos, the winding down of the whole deal made for a long and unpleasant story in New York business circles.

This summary doesn't do justice to the story of Trump and his businesses, and it's only s few pieces in a long, ugly, tawdry story. His level and scope of business failure is astounding; the most amazing thing about Trump, in the end, is that he's managed to retain as much of of his reputation as he has.

But the more people find out, the less of that reputation will remain.