Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois is not letting the outrage over the Planned Parenthood videos get in the way of his being a good GOP centrist. He has no plans to “cut access to basic health care and contraception for women, the majority of whom have on other resources.” That means he will not support any conservative efforts to defund PP on the hill. Apparently, his moderate bi-partisan stance assures, or at least provides a fighting chance, that the GOP will retain the senate seat in an arguably blue, but possibly red, state. And that’s what counts, as Republican party fundraiser Ron Gidwitz found out this week when he had to do a 180 degree turn after criticizing Kirk for some of his comments. Gidwitz was concerned that “misstatements” by senator Kirk could cause “collateral damage” to other GOP candidates on the ballot.

Whether Gidwitz was also concerned about Kirk’s lack of conservative credentials is doubtful. Back in May of 2013, Gidwitz lashed out at conservative state GOP members’ ousting of Pat Brady, then Illinois Republican Chairman. The issue was Brady’s advocacy of policies that ran directly against the GOP platform. So, Gidwitz – who has managed a fistful of failed gubernatorial campaigns – is firmly GOP establishment and his fuss over Kirk has to do with Kirk’s recent Trump-like comments. Not with the actual principles behind the pro-life versus pro-choice debate. It’s all about not being conservative – and not too too Republican either – in order to retain or gain seats in Illinois. Gidwitz is establishment – but local establishment – who angered the beltway establishment who have a Kirk or bust attitude to the senate seat that Mark Kirk now holds rather precariously. So whether Kirk is still senator in 2017 or a Democrat ends up winning the seat, you can be sure that whoever holds the seat, they will not vote for de-funding of Planned Parenthood.

An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority. A revolt is an attempt to put an end to the authority of a person or a body. Inside the House and the Senate, do we have a conservative revolt? Or is Meadows using procedural theatrics to vent against Boehner without sufficient legislative support among conservative colleagues? And is Cruz merely lashing out at McConnell, rather than negotiating as he should instead be doing? Each of them would surely insist that he was doing battle in the interests of those he was elected to represent. Trade deal authority for the White House and Export-Import Bank non-liquidation might play well in some states like Washington, but not in North Carolina or Texas. And giving way on those two issues in the interest of governing which means getting bills passed, is not at the top of Meadow’s or Cruz’s districts’ priorities. And they likely do mean what they say as far as their voters are concerned.

And in FLA, a poll shows that Jeb and Rubio are behind you-know-who. Is it a populist insurgency? At both ends of the spectrum with Bernie Sanders building momentum in what many thought would be an invisible campaign? You-know-who won’t be at the Koch’s confab and Bernie Sanders debating Hillary would be a sight to see. What to say about Bernie? He had his bar mitzvah when Ike was barely halfway through his first term. He graduated from University of Chicago a year before Dylan went electric and shocked Newport folk fans. That same year he had the good sense to pick up a summer home in Vermont for what was surely a bargain price. And the Brooklyn native has been a Vermont resident since a year before Woodstock. And he wants America to resemble Sweden. The Sweden of the 1970’s one suspects rather than the dour slimmer version currently in place in Stockholm. He has shared climate-change panel discussions with Naomi Klein but despite her American parents she is Canadian like Ted Cruz. So Bernie would not be able to give her the Treasury Secretary job unless she took out her parent’s citizenship. And unless Bernie won the Democratic nomination and unless he then got elected. But oddly enough, in 2015-2016, Sanders or You-Know-Who as President is not as absurdly impossible a scenario as may have been imagined a few years ago. People are mad, and outsiders are in. Washington – whether DC or State – are surely taking notice.

While it is politically expedient to berate the Obama administration for increases in child poverty, it would have almost certainly happened under a GOP administration as well. The challenges of education and a constantly changing economy that renders large swaths of workers obsolete with the stroke of a keyboard as businesses move jobs and production to where they can earn a profit, are major challenges. And they are at the heart of increasing child poverty. The same stats that broke down poverty according to ethnicity, also shows that almost half of all Native and African American children have no parent with full-time permanent employment. But they also show that 24% of Non-Hispanic White children face the same problem: a single parent, or both parents living from paycheck to paycheck, with no job security. Relatively little job security is a fact of life right across the social and economic spectrum.

Unfortunately, laying on the union regulations will only drive more businesses away from any jurisdiction that tries that approach. How to provide flexible solutions – like jobs-relevant education for parents and sustainable public schools that actually teach their pupils the increasingly complex skills needed to get a decent job – when Mothers from wealthy communities screech against their daughters having to learn too much at school? If they are frustrated, how is a welfare mother feeling about her kids’ D average in 8th grade? Resigned? Exhausted? Depressed? How to build faith in their ability to provide their kids a reasonable start when we can’t agree on what to teach in schools? Or how to teach it?

Local and flexible solutions are the only way out. That means giving local communities the resources, but more importantly, the control over how to spend those resources. What works in Brooklyn may not work in Missouri. And also to keep in mind we are dealing with relative poverty. Yes, relative poverty matters greatly, but large parts of the world live at or below America’s poverty line, measured in real and absolute terms. Progress is being made, but not nearly fast enough to prevent kids from slipping into relative poverty. We need a public education system that inspires faith in its ability to provide children with a fighting chance, no matter what neighborhood they live in. And that’s a job for each community to solve, on each community’s own terms as much as reasonably possible.

While Scott Walker holding up a 1 dollar bill in sweaty mid-summer campaign is a nifty image for devolution of power back to the state and local level, the process started in the early 70’s with Richard Nixon. What had been dual federalism with state and federal authority and responsibility clearly marked off from each other, began to intermingle with cooperative federalism from around 1937 with FDR at the height of his presidency, up until 1960 when Kennedy was elected. Kennedy brought in creative federalism with Washington dictating how state governments spent their money more than had been the case. Local states had to be prodded into action by Washington on grand matters like the War on Poverty and minorities (although that had started with de-segregation under Eisenhower). LBJ proved more than willing to continue prodding and it wasn’t until Nixon’s second term that the tide began to flow back the other way. With Watergate drowning out positive achievements, it was Reagan a decade later who took more of the credit when he embraced what Nixon had started. By 1986, revenue sharing between the federal government and states was terminated.

But new federalism – as it is called – still had and still has a way to go. Although H.W. Bush and Clinton continued with new federalism – Clinton as much because House Republicans gave him no choice – George W. Bush turned back the tide of devolution with his education bill in 2002. And islamic terrorism required a coordinated federal response with the creation of DHS. As well, George W. Bush’s support for an amendment prohibiting gay and lesbian marriages was also an interference in the rights of those states that wished to legalize gay marriage. It is now precisely the opposite case, with individual states that wished to continue to define marriage in traditional ways being forced by the Supreme Court to allow gay marriage in their own state. That is more about the Separation of Federal branches, but state rights have historically been bound up with thorny social questions.

So while Scott Walker’s push for further devolution back to states and local governments is certainly a way to achieve lasting and sustainable fiscal accountability – look at him sweating away with George Washington between his fingers – it has always been as much about social policy as it has been about fiscal policy. And surely a President Walker would have to defend his worthwhile crusade on social grounds as much as by criticizing and promising to change Washington waste and fraud.

The Washington Examiner- hardly a liberal paper – has a problem with its own readers, many of them conservative GOP voters. So it came out hard to do a little house cleaning with an editorial that spent much of its time attacking GOP voters. If you don’t line up behind Rubio, Jeb, or Walker, you are a troll, in case you didn’t realize. If you are angry about illegal immigration, you are a racist. If you do not agree with the possibility of Rubio, Jeb, or Walker as the GOP presidential candidate, you really want Hillary in the White House. This isn’t lining up voter-ducks. This is duck hunting with a machine gun from an official Republican Party HQ-sponsored duck blind.

The excuse to attack conservative GOP voters was Donald Trump. And they saved plenty of ammunition for the Donald who apparently is: a Democrat-turned-GOP, a “bouffant billionaire”, ignorant about political positions, and a liberal until recently. He really must have hit a nerve among the GOP establishment, especially since he has polled – at least in some surveys – far higher than anyone expected. Is he all of the things listed above? Perhaps. But does he resonate with a certain percentage of GOP voters? Absolutely. Will he win the nomination? Of course not. Is he an indicator of voter anger on certain issues. Again, absolutely. In a historically broad and competitive field, all the GOP needed was for Trump to shake things up even more than was already the case.

The editorial has Hillary’s negatives in three swing states as its substance. But those states are Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. So no surprise that she polls low there. And of course she can be beaten, and with the right candidate will be defeated. But how that GOP candidate gets decided on is becoming a bit of a civil war inside the GOP. The dividing line seems to be whether to pin the party’s hopes on a centrist big-tent candidate or on a conservative candidate that the establishment feels will isolate the GOP as the party of older white males whose time is almost up. That nasty little metaphor comes from the same editorial. Is it now open season on conservative voters inside the GOP itself? With bunker-style duck blinds and machine guns?

Get with it. It’s not Too Big To Fail, or TBTF; it’s Systematically Important Financial Institutions, or SIFI’s, or Sifis. If you go with TBTF, then it’s Dodd-Frank. If you go with Sifis, then it’s Basel III. Was Dodd-Franks necessary in the wake of the 2008 meltdown and the following Great Recession? Was Glass-Steagall necessary in the wake of the collapse of banks in the 30’s following, but not immediately following, the Crash of ’29? We still can’t agree on what precipitated and then kept the Great Depression in place for a decade or so. And we’re arguing about the Great Recession as well, of course.

That is, we can’t agree from the relative comfort and safety of a think-tank office a couple of generations from those dark days in the Dirty Thirties when a former Treasury Secretary (Glass), and a chairman of the House Banking Committee, (Steagall), put walls between investment banking and insurance on one side, and commercial banking on the other. All in order to prevent deposits from vanishing in the wake of liquidity crisis brought about by risk-taking on the part of omnivorous over-sized banks.

The act was repealed in 1999 and 8 years later the housing bubble started popping, and 9 years later the world’s financial system came uncomfortably close to absolute zero: a gridlocked freeze-up of interbank liquidity in the face of counterparty risk paralysis. If you’re a true libertarian you would have let Wall Street crash, banks go under and common savers lose most or all of what they had deposited in their bank, whether local or money center. Then after the Great Brush Fire had burned away most of what was left standing, you would see the green shoots of a true recovery. Many, however, view this purist libertarian vision of how-to-handle-a-financial-crisis-by-doing-sweet-eff-all with a certain degree of horror.

The problem is how to do just enough regulatory meddling without putting yet another Frank-enstein in motion. It may be that Basel III and it’s capital requirements would have been enough and that Dodd-Frank is a beast that feeds on the fees lawyers, regulators, and ex-legislators-turned-wealthy-lobbyists charge to help guide TBTF banks through it’s zombie-like structure. Thousands and thousands of pages worth of rules and regulations. All which create added costs of entry and hurt smaller more prudent banks. Between excessive moral hazard and no moral hazard, both dangerous extremes, there has to be a reasonable regulatory outcome. Washington, unfortunately, seems congenitally incapable of seeking such a regulatory outcome.

Jade Helm 15 sounds like the umpteenth sequel of a Chuck Norris series of action films. Or a girl band from Singapore. Apparently it is neither of these things, but rather a Realistic Military Training, or RMT, exercise in the Southwest that will last 2 months from mid-July to mid-September. While the DOD has been fairly proactive about informing the public over how their communities may be affected, it has not said too much about what purpose in the real world this exercise will be preparing elite military members for. No, this is not to join the conspiracy theories abounding, especially in Texas. Rather, one wonders if this is to prepare ground troops, for example, for re-entry into the Middle East.

A key part of the controversy is the map released by the DOD that shows an exercise targeting friendly, hostile and neutral states – with the neutral states leaning either hostile, or friendly. That Texas and Utah are hostile – along with a pocket of Southern California – has been manna to the conspiracy theorists. The more interesting question, aside from the fact that private property owners have invited the military in, is where abroad are the conditions in summer in that swath of the country replicated? Not just terrain, but politically: as in several states of varying degrees of hostility clustered in a relatively contiguous manner, with terrain that is mountainous, rugged, and arid? All of them drenched in blistering heat – at least during the day?

It does seem to be an RMT exercise that would allow troops to experience Middle Eastern-like conditions before being shipped out to join the chaotic ever-changing battleground centered in Syria and Iraq. And Jade Helm 15 – way more than they expected – makes communication with or against locals an important objective. As U.S. Army Operations Command’s released report on the exercise states:

“To hone advanced skills the military and Interagency require large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities with access to towns … to challenge joint and IA personnel during planning and execution of their tasks. These challenges include:
– Operating outside the normal support mechanisms
– Adapting to unfamiliar terrain, social and economic conditions
– Operating in and around communities where anything out of the ordinary will be spotted and reported (Locals are the first to notice something out of place)
– The opportunity to work with civilians to gain their trust and an understanding of the issues”

In other words, part of the exercise is how invisible military units can be with regard to locals noticing anything different. Clearly this is a very focused exercise whose complete purpose will not be divulged by the DOD precisely because it may impact on any planned operation. That planned operation would clearly seem to be abroad and not in the heart of the Southwest. Still, there’s something a touch unsettling about the whole operation, even if it is clearly a necessary exercise.

How’s your mother-in-law unit doing? No, this refers to a detached, semi-detached, or attached separate living unit on a property with a main unit. Also called a secondary suite, a granny flat, a garage apartment, or a basement suite. In Seattle, density and infrastructure are pressing issues apparently. Traffic backed up to a crawl, commuters dozens deep at a single bus stop waiting for one that they actually squeeze into. New developments demanding those sewer and water lines and all the other services needed to make a sub-division livable. And municipal planners wondering whether to delay development until adequate infrastructure is in place, like Redmond did during the first big boom in the late 80’s and 90’s.

The concept is called concurrency: infrastructure build out has to be concurrent with development. No added roads, services, schools … no development. On the other hand, density might offer a way to lessen the pace of suburban sprawl, but still means that existing infrastructure has to be expanded to make sure all those public transit riders don’t have to wait in a chilly PacWest drizzle to board their bus to work. In other words, Seattle has a wonderful problem that places like Las Vegas and Cleveland and even Miami would love to have: a prosperous local economy that has a strong niche in the global economy (several in fact), and needs to spend some more on public infrastructure because people have good jobs and need to get themselves to and from those jobs and their kids to and from school.

Pushing the density envelope, (more dwellers squeezed into the same urban or even suburban space), are urban environmentalists that want us all to live in modest-sized apartment buildings at least 4 or 5 stories tall. Next step for them is to bulldoze the suburbs and turn, Redmond for example, into farmland. Then existing distant farmland would be allowed to slowly return to wilderness. And coyotes and buffalo would roam the continent again, as God intended. Ok, coyotes already do, and they don’t mind the suburbs apparently. Rebelling against the concept of density, are those suburbs that are so wrapped up in municipal building codes that even putting a sidewalk down would require several all-night city council sessions to change the law, assuming the council votes for more flexible building codes. Clearly this is a local problem with a plethora of local solutions. And if folks in say, Dallas, want to clamp down on secondary suites because they tend to attract illegal migrants as renters, that is their decision. Density is up to each municipality to deal with as they see fit. From Seattle to Miami.

Marriage, and divorce, are all about the law. They are more than the law, especially marriage, but the law extends into every intimate corner of a marriage, and even more so in the case of divorce. Just ask the 3 kids of successful professionals and divorced parents in Detroit who will be spending summers in a juvenile detention center as a result of their parent’s ugly divorce. Yes Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca seems to have lost her sense of perspective by punishing the kids for refusing to obey the judge’s order “to have a healthy relationship with your father.” And the specific cause was a refusal to have lunch with their dad. But with the state through it’s judiciary intimately involved in the day to day details of a family suffering the consequences of an acrimonious divorce, this was inevitable.

When the judiciary controls marriage and divorce to such an extent, a decision by Judge Gorcyca may be harsh, but it is a logical result of such control. It will be interesting to see who appeals this decision or somehow adjusts her remedy. Should Judge Gorcyca have placed the responsibility – the legal responsibility – for a healthy relationship on the children? Rather than the parents? Because the implication of the Judges other comments are that the mother is guilty of the worst sort of brainwashing of her children, turning them against their father. If that is the case, how in the world can you send brainwashed kids to juvenile detention until they are 18? Summer detention for now, with a threat that it could become full-year detention. Judge Lisa berated the elder son for his “horrific behavior” towards his dad, and said she has wanted to send them to detention for some time now but backed off due to their father’s pleas.

It seems that Judge Lisa has let this case get under her skin. And has lost her perspective. Maybe the kids, aided by a manipulative and vengeful mother, have indeed behaved horribly toward their father. Sending them to detention will likely make matters worse in this regard. As a way to ensure that her authority in court is upheld, this sentencing can be seen as absurdly tough, but comprehensible. As a remedy to bring a family closer together, it seems an absurd invasion of the state into a family’s life. But the battling parents called in the lawyers and resorted to hard ball tactics. This is what can happen. The parents will have to live with the consequences of that. And their unfortunate kids, even more so.

Will New Hampshire rescue Kasich, Christie, and Graham? Or is the McCain miracle of 2008 a unique, one-off case that should not be extrapolated beyond that one-time context 7 years ago? New Hampshire is intimate and every vote counts, but do New Hampshire GOP voters allow any old outsider into their minds and hearts? Clearly not. In other words, how big a base outside of the Granite State do they need in order to do well in New Hampshire? And even if they do, will it be sustainable?

But there’s another way of looking at the New Hampshire primary: what if other primaries in 2016 become more like New Hampshire’s? It seems impossible given the cost structure of media exposure in other markets and the primary calendar itself. But 2016 may just be different enough and GOP voters may just be willing enough to vote for a far wider range of candidates to make it possible. Imagine a GOP field still fairly crowded by the time March rolls around. After South Carolina in other words. Imagine it stays crowded through March. Impossible? Perhaps by Super Tuesday, March 1, it will have been decided as usual.

Imagine if not? While concentrating primaries into staggered schedules helps candidates focus time and money, it also means the contest is over by March. And it’s the party structure that decides and allocates delegates. Delegates may be local but it’s all about how they get chosen. And that gets decided at party headquarters. Maybe it’s cruel to outsiders – and one can argue how much of an outsider in terms of the party structure McCain really was – but its supporters would say it ensures a winning GOP candidate. And that, they say, is the only goal that matters. That attitude does not sit will with conservatives, be they Tea Party supporters or not. And it has not always produced winning candidates either. So will New Hampshire matter? Undoubtedly it will. Even if does not rescue Christie, Kasich, or Graham.

If Carly Fiorina was male, would conservative media pay so much attention? Clearly not, even though her campaign seems to impress those who have had direct contact with the ex-tech leader. Her campaign manager, Frank Sadler, promoted her in the Washington Examiner as:

an articulate, fearless conservative woman who terrifies the Clinton camp and won’t let the liberal media put her in a box
__
That might be a touch overdone, in terms of the Clinton camp: Fiorina is running 11th in the GOP field and the likelihood of her taking on Hillary as the GOP candidate is about the same as the probability that HP will start giving away ink for free. So should everyone just ignore her until she battles her way into say the top 6 or even top 8 contenders? Maybe not. Battle she will have to, but could it be that some GOP candidates are already thinking of her as a potential Vice President? She is pro-life and a successful, if controversial, business leader. She really really seems to want to get her toe, and why not the rest of herself, into a political office that has the weight to match her ambition. She is not a re-run and she seems to be full of the energy and focus needed to get anywhere in such a crowded field.

The question is can she sustain her campaign and climb high enough in the polls to get into the debates coming up in a month or two? And how do you do that with Trump sucking up airtime with his hard-wired ability to offend, provoke, and hit sensitive topics dead on? Carly Fiorina needs to say something noticeable. She needs an issue that she can leverage to get into the debates. Terrifying Hillary may be that issue, but likely is not. If anyone terrifies Hillary it is Liz Warren, and not Carly Fiorina. Carly is one of the boys in this crowded field and needs to throw a few elbows and raise a little ruckus just like she did at HP. She has the temper to do so, and should not hesitate. She just needs the moment, and the topic. Let’s see how good a scrapper she really is.

Will Greece implode? Will a Grexit cause the Euro to stutter and stumble? Europe has had several years to prepare for such an eventuality. German banks and the German government especially, have had to do a fair bit of stick waving as well as the occasional carrot dangling, seeing they’re up to their necks in Greek debt. The end game may finally be upon us and one hopes the Eurozone will avoid a serious meltdown, having had a few years to prepare for this slow-motion car crash. Whether one agrees with the austere spending cuts demanded by mostly northern members of the Union, the fact is that Greece paints an uncomfortable picture for America.

Yes, the USA owns its own printing press, but people or governments still have to hold the debt that results from years of deficit spending. How high is US government debt? One can argue net vs gross debt, given inter-governmental liabilities like the Social Security Administration’s trust fund, which is soon set to go into the red. The trust fund is not included in net debt definitions. But gross debt is still debt and has to be paid back eventually by taxing citizens and corporations. With gross debt as the statistical measure, the US has about 104% of it’s GDP mortgaged off as future obligations. Greece is now above 150%, but some projections warn that America is on the same statistical path when it comes to debt as Greece was about a decade or two ago.

And the ace up the sleeve of the Treasury Department is the US dollar’s standing as the reserve currency of the world. One has to remember, however, that this status did not magically appear one day as the result of some decree signed by central bankers around the world. Bretton Woods was important but the dollar became the reserve currency because savers around the world, whether individuals or companies or governments, recognized the inherent value of America’s currency. And this was so because America historically had it’s finances well under control, or was able to pay them back promptly when public debt grew rapidly as a result of wartime spending, for example. This is no longer the case. The best that can be hoped for is that entitlement spending – and that includes corporate giveaways and bank rescues – grow at a steady and predictable pace. To actually expect entitlement spending to fall on an absolute level is too radical and too financially prudent to be in the subset of possible policy options.

And the warnings about a Greek style debt debacle right in America may seem statistically distant. People don’t care about the issue do they? Guess what, voters do. And voters understand that a change in say, China’s sovereign wealth fund’s investment policy, would exert dramatic pressure on America’s finances. And the worst part of that is, it’s outside America’s control. Precisely because the US dollar is the world’s reserve currency, it depends on the faith of the world in America’s fiscal probity. And more than that, it requires that no other exogenous factors – like military conflict – undercut that good faith. The main argument against this happening is that all SWF’s are in the same boat and do not want to sink along with the dollar. That, as any investment fund manager will tell you, is a very dangerous foundation to rest your financial fate on. While not all, or even a majority, of voters would say the USA is bankrupt, they do worry about government dealing with it’s debts. Just like they worry, and deal, with their own personal debts. Policy wonks, please keep that in mind.

When then-Senator Trent Lott first used the term “nuclear option” in 2003 – to refer to using the speaker of the Senate to change or bend the rules to effectively shut down the filibuster option – it was 40 years since Dr. Strangelove had been released. The nuclear threat – still present of course – was less of an immediate danger and more of a metaphor. So it was handy for a senator looking to make a point. Unlike 1963 when the Cuban Missile Crisis was fresh in everyone’s mind.

And now, a little over 50 years since that film, it appears that Ted Cruz wants to make it clear that he’s no Slim Pickens riding the bomb onto the senate floor. That is, Ted Cruz believes that the nuclear option is not necessary when it comes to battling to repealing Obamacare. He would rather go for the funding, or more accurately, he has fought for de-funding in the past in an attempt to stop the healthcare plan put in place by Obama’s administration. He has accused his GOP Senate colleagues back in late 2013 of bombing their own troops to use another wartime metaphor. Ted also fought back against House Republicans when they accused him of giving up the fight against the Affordable Care Act. And throwing the responsibility for defunding Obamacare back to them. He insisted that senate procedural rules meant that then-majority leader Reid only needed 60 votes to end the debate and strip the amendment defunding Obamacare from the bill.

Could the freshman senator have rounded up enough GOP votes in the fall of 2013 on the senate floor? Who knows? Will Senate Majority leader McConnell eventually pay for what went down in the fall of 2013? Right now it seems to be Cruz who has to explain and point back at what he fought for, and convince people why his tactics were right. The battle over how to try and block Harry Reid from stripping the de-funding provisions from the bill that the House brought to the Senate shows how important procedure really is in the upper chamber. And how far legislators have come from the original founding father’s vision of the Senate’s role as a place of “advice and consent.” But for legislators in both chambers, procedure is and has been for some time, a matter of political life and death. Is Obamacare in danger of becoming the third rail of GOP politics? Let us hope not. Because every GOP candidate will have to touch the issue, and will have to do so convincingly. And should be allowed to do so as they see fit.

The sad state of our country took another leap to la-la-land with the backlash following Donald Trump’s remarks about illegal immigration from the Mexican border…notice I said “illegal immigration from the Mexican border,” not “Mexicans.” Our entire country in lost in translation here. His delivery can be received as insensitive, however the context of his opinion and remarks come from facts. And facts and truth are our social society’s biggest nightmare. This just goes to show, once again, you can’t have an opinion without having some sort of hateful label stamped on your forehead. So now Donald Trump is a bigot.

I believe Trump began this topic in reference to the 165,000 illegal immigrants have committed crimes and were released in the United States rather than deported. According to the number from the Department of Homeland Security, deportation has decreased 58% from 2009 to 2014. According to the CBP, in 2014 there were just under 21,000 border patrol agents in the US. Just over 18,156 of them were on the Southwest Border Sector.

Donald Trump did not ever say “Mexicans are rapists.” He said the illegal immigration coming over the Mexican border is bringing too much crime into the country such as drugs, and rapists. The numbers in that Border Patrol staff document from the CBP are more than proof of the truth of the criminal activity Trump is referring to. The truth hurts, and we can’t handle the truth. We’re telling a sad story here these days.

Trump is an international business man. His corporation employs 20,000 people. You think all of his employees are white? Get a grip, America.

It’s hard to know where to start in California. Or more precisely, where to stop. Consider fines for minor traffic tickets. A 25$ ticket can end up in the hundreds of dollars when assessments and surcharges are added. And God help you if you miss a court date due to hospitalization. It is estimated that 4 million state residents have a suspended license due to failure to pay fines. And traffic cops are pressured into pushing the envelope when handing out fines. Never mind that your meter is still valid or you ran into the drugstore to get change, you will be ticketed. Why? It’s all about the state’s dismal fiscal position. Governor Jerry Brown stated that the state budget “is finally balanced — more precariously than I would like — but balanced” back in January. Unfortunately, those who are precariously balanced are low income drivers who need a car to get to work. No license, no car, no job. Welcome to the sidewalk.

How to balance the budget without leaning so heavily on drivers? Forget about spending cuts. There’s a high-speed rail line and carbon footprint reduction waiting to gobble up hundreds of millions, make that billions of state dollars. Utilities will have to produce 50% of their power from renewable sources if Jerry Brown has his way. And then there’s immediate problems like crumbling infrastructure, a battle over university funding with USC president Napolitano (that Napolitano yes) threatening massive tuition increases unless Brown pours hundreds of millions or more her way. And fellow Democrats in Sacramento want more spending on social subsidies, or safety nets as they like to say. And of course, there’s the costs of Obama’s immigration reforms.

So if drivers think that the judicial system – which depends on traffic tickets for a large part of its financing – is going to go easy on them, sorry. In fact, think about it. A judge’s salary and courtroom budget is paid, in large part, out ot the traffic tickets that you are appealing in her or his court. An absurd and unjust conflict of interest if there ever was one. While that great-feared-future earthquake might be California’s worst nightmare at some theoretical point in the future, there is a nightmare going on in the Golden State right now. It’s more a drought-plagued tar pit of fiscal excess, with the economy slowly sinking into the viscous, toxic sludge as state legislators add further burdens to the taxpayer who sinks deeper and deeper into the morass. And no high speed rail system or bundle of carbon-footprint regulatory burdens will ever rescue them. Or help the low income worker who will end up on the street because of a traffic ticket.

The Idaho State Police, or ISP for short, have a problem on their hands. The problem is what kind of problem they have on their hands: is the problem process versus justice; or process as justice; or process before justice? On October 18, 2011 county deputy Scott Sloan was responding to a 911 call – that would be an emergency although it is not clear what the emergency was – and heading down U.S. 30 near New Plymouth, Idaho. That means he was driving fast, up to 115 mph on a 55 mph road, with lights flashing and siren blaring. Up ahead Barry Johnson was puddling along in his 83 Jeep at 24 mph and as the county deputy approached from behind, Barry Johnson turned left, into traffic in other words, and despite slamming on the brakes, deputy Sloan slammed into Johnson’s Jeep still doing 85 mph. Johnson died and an ISP reconstruction – done by state troopers trained and dedicated to the task of accident reconstruction – found that Barry Johnson had been drinking. His blood level was somewhere between 0.053 and 0.1271. The legal limit is 0.08, so by law Johnson was likely drunk and likely got scared and confused by the approaching squad car and turned right into Sloan’s oncoming vehicle.

What followed was an in-house quarrel between primary crash reconstructionist Trooper Quinn Carmack and primary investigator Trooper Justin Klitch, as well as higher ups in the ISP like Col. Ralph Powell and Capt. Sheldon Kelley. Sgt. Rice of the ISP was also tainted by the process. It centers around Carmack’s refusal to include information on Johnson’s alcohol blood level as Carmack felt he could not determine that Barry Johnson’s alcohol level caused or even contributed to the accident. Safe to say that many within the ISP disagreed strongly with Carmack. And it got heated fairly fast, seeing that Deputy Sloan could face serious consequences due to being accused of making an “unsafe pass” and “operating an emergency vehicle in an unsafe manner.” One can read Cynthia Sewell’s detailed account in the Idaho Statesman of how the process itself spun out of control with prosecutors and defense attorney’s playing every questionable move by ISP officers for all it was worth. The charges against Sloan by prosecuting attorney Richard Linville for felony vehicular manslaughter were dropped, however, as the result of two conflicting crash reports: one with the blood alcohol information in it as a result of senior ISP officers pressuring the investigators, and the other original one without it. Prosecuting attorney Linville said the conflicting reports undermined his ability to prosecute the case and so he dropped the charges.

By any reasoned view, how Carmack could decide that alcohol was not a factor in the crash is astounding. But reading Sewell’s article gives one a sense of how far any inquiry – whether judicial or quasi-judicial or otherwise – is nowadays mired in detailed quibbling over process. Detailed quibbling with vested interests at stake. Barry Johnson died, and that is tragic. But ask yourself this: when you need police help in a hurry, do you want your state trooper to drive 55 in case a drunk is gliding down the county road at less than 30 mph? If some prosecutors and some ISP Troopers had their way, the answer would be yes.

How did he do it? GOP aides to every other candidate are asking that question right now. Donald Trump just came 2nd in a recent Fox news poll. In a couple of weeks he surged from around 4% to 11% which places him behind Jeb Bush at 15%. One can imagine that economics has a lot do with it. But it’s also his condition as an outsider, and a well-known one at that. Try these statements Trump made during his announcement:

  • I’ll be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created”
  • They (China) “kill us. I beat China all the time.”
  • “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists, I’m not using donors, I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

Will Trump suck in airtime and force other GOP contenders off of the Fox news Top 10 candidates debating ticket? He already is. In the same Fox news poll, disapproval of Obama’s administration on issues like IS and foreign policy were higher than on economic issues. But at the same time, in terms of specific issues that were a concern to voters, the results listed the price of health care and the nation’s economy around 5 points ahead of Iran and islamic terrorist attacks on home soil. Where foreign policy issues and where domestic economic and health care issues sit in voters’ minds seems hard to nail down. Does Trump’s tough-negotiator persona translate on some level into credibility on foreign issues in voters’ opinions? That seems a stretch, but Trump is compelling, and that means other candidates will have to devise ways to try and make him less so, or lose out on a debating spot later this summer.

Will a majority of GOP voters – never mind voters in general – ever vote for Trump as president? The polls say exactly the opposite, at least a poll back in March where almost 75% of GOP voters said they’ll never vote for Trump. Could it be that they suspect it’s all about ratings for The Apprentice? It certainly could be all about Trump’s cash flow from the series, but his senior political advisor, Corey Lewandowski – who ran voter registration at Americans for Prosperity – says voters want someone from the business world who actually knows how to create jobs. A tough-minded outsider who will deal with China and the Middle East in a no-nonsense manner. Let’s see if this latest Trump creation – Donald Trump as a presidential candidate – is a long-term plot or just a wonderfully obnoxious supporting actor in search of ratings. The rest of the GOP field will be praying for the latter.

Full compensation for seized property was the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision to rule the USDA’s raisin management program in California unconstitutional. The supply management enacted in 1949, and based on a 1937 USDA program had farmer’s giving a raisin tithe to the government to ensure a stable price for the crop. Marvin and Laura Horne said enough in 2003, and have been waging a battle against the program and the government’s ability to demand a portion of their raisin crop ever since. They won the minds of the Supreme Court, with some skirmishes between Justice Thomas and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Kagan. With one exception, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who dissented, saying that the supply management program did not deprive them of all their property rights, and only limited their income.

As a Bronx-raised Nuyorican, it is perhaps unlikely that Sotomayor saw herself as a direct companion in arms of Cesar Chavez and farm worker activism. But as a student activist who fought and denounced her way up the student ladder in Princeton and Yale in the 70’s, she surely saw herself and sees herself, alongside Cesar Chavez, as a pioneer for Hispanic student rights and Hispanic rights in general. It is safe to say that Sotomayor is far from being a libertarian, and despite receiving reviews of her judicial rulings that characterize her rulings as neutral and non-ideological, it is clear that she has no problem with state intervention. Be that affirmative action – of which she was practically a case study in terms of latino students in her years at university – or the conditioning of property rights by a an all-present state.

Aside from wondering how stable raisin prices are of any importance today in a connected global world where agricultural products move from continent to continent, Sotomayor’s stance on property rights is unsettling. Her view seems to be: the Hornes should be grateful the government didn’t take more of their crop. What counts is civil rights, and it’s corollary of activism, rather than property rights. So the ghost of Cesar Chavez is indeed near and dear to Justice Sotomayor’s heart and mind. And that’s hardly surprising.

Look at what Robert Pirsig did. That gun-toting, beer-guzzling, motorcycle-riding, unrepentant smoker who wrote the Zen and the Art of … book that launched a thousand new age fantasies brought Zen philosophy into the prosperous Western mainstream as much as any swami or guru. It was inevitable that, some forty one years after the book’s release, we now have the possibility of a Zen Secretary of the Treasury swearing office in early 2017. The Dali Lama of derivatives, billionaire hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel, is now on Rand Paul’s team. Spitznagel is an Austrian adherent, that is a devotee of the Austrian School of Economics. To orthodox economists a mere fringe cult. To it’s members they are the key to economic freedom. But Spitznagel takes it to another level: he is a Zen Austrian – perhaps it should be abbreviated as a Zentrian – not to be confused with a centrist which he is not. His book, the Dao (or Tao but Dao is the more acceptable pronunciation of the Chinese apparently) of Capital promises to revolutionize our economic processes like Marx’s weighty and nefarious tome attempted to do some 150 years ago.

Clear your mind of the immediate and change dimensions. You must learn to “perceive a long span of forward moments” and visualize far ahead in time. Stop shouting and pointing on the trading floors of Chicago; you are trapped in a paradox that Swami Spitznagel will solve for you. But you must learn to carefully tread the path. You see, time is a series of coordinated “now” moments like “beads on a string.” Got it? Worried about deflation? Inflation? Unemployment? You are trapped in your paradox. Celebrate the paradox and follow Swami Spitznagel. Late on that project at work? Tell your higher-ups that time is not exogenous, but in fact the endogenous primary factor of things, and that patience is a precious treasure.

Ok, he is a billionaire who started in the pits of Chicago at 22 years old, and he did predict the crash of 2008, but so did others. What would Mark Spitznagel do for the American economy? While he is a very successful trader who understands profoundly the psychology of markets, does that make him a good advisor? Or a good potential Secretary of the Treasury? We will all have time to find out, and to puzzle over his tome, the Dao of Capital, which is entertaining and confusing for those of us who are not born traders. Rand Paul has certainly made a splash with this announcement. Or is that a Zen dive into an intertemporal mind shift?

As Trey Gowdy shows why he was a very successful prosecutor before becoming a legislator, it should be remembered why Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, a flashpoint date for any crazed islamic terrorist. Apparently there was a surplus of budgeted funds that had to be spent before the end of that month when the fiscal year ended. So Stevens found himself in a city besieged by al Qaeda linked terrorists in a hostile nation like Libya that was entering a new unstable phase in it’s violent and corrupt history. Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith knew they might die that very night as Smith’s posting on the internet revealed. Benghazi was meant to be a symbol of the new democratic Libya and those Libyans who opposed Gadafi. And Stevens was there to supervise the spending that would help achieve that symbolic and real status for the city. Benghazi was also a strategic point, where arms were smuggled to opponents of Gadafi and into Syria as well. It turned out tragically to be a symbol of bureaucratic bungling and failed security, more than anything else.

But Benghazi is also another example of blowback. Once again, this time far more quickly than in Afghanistan for example, islamic terrorists used the instability to turn on America. This does not mean that because of blowback the US should do a Rand Paul retreat from the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere. That would be a disaster, now and for a long time to come. What it does mean is that politicians with little experience and training in security – in the fullest sense of the word – need to listen to those who do know about how to conduct covert and overt operations in the Middle East and North Africa and other volatile and extremely dangerous regions of the world. That desperate requests for added security were ignored while Clinton tried her hand at playing spy chief is unsettling and must have had, and undoubtedly has, a very demoralizing effect on those in intelligence and the diplomatic service who risk their lives in the service of America’s foreign policy.

But it also must be remembered that CIA personnel arrived late. Bureaucratic delays waiting for the thumbs up from someone higher up in the command chain – yes it was in terms of mere minutes but those minutes likely cost lives – on the part of the intelligence community in place in Benghazi sabotaged the rescue attempt. The amount of assets nearby or reasonably close were overwhelming. They arrived late. All of them. Let us hope that from the tragedy of Benghazi lessons are being learned by all. By Hillary Clinton who seems unwilling to admit the disaster that occurred under her supervision. Or by others actors, who it must be said, often seem to have to operate under the burden of government officials worried more about media coverage than lives at stake.

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