Thoughts after the RNC and the DNC

(Disclaimer – I am a moderate, centrist Democrat; seemingly an endangered species.)

The parties are over in Cleveland and Philadelphia as both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have have packed up and gone home. The cameras are gone, the balloons and confetti have been swept away and the placards have been sent out on the campaign trail. All that’s left now is the sprint to election day. Each side has their passionate  and detractors, whose votes are unlikely to be swayed, no matter what is said or done in the next three months. As a result, both candidates must now search in the middle for enough votes to put them over the top.

Before the conventions began I already knew that I would be voting for Hillary, which was as much a vote against Trump as for Hillary, but I still wanted to hear what the candidates and their supporters had to say, and to get a feel for the mood of each party. I believe you can glean a lot about a candidate, and what type of president they will be, by the agenda they lay out in their stump speeches, assuming of course, that anything they say can be believed. Like him or not, agree with him or not, President Obama laid out the objectives for his candidacy at the convention, and that’s basically what’s he’s attempted to accomplish over the past eight years. It has been similar for past presidents. So what do we make of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton after the conventions?

I watched the speeches by all of the main players on both sides of the aisle, including, obviously, the candidates themselves. My overriding impression from the RNC was one of hate, ugliness, divisiveness and fear. Without being able to present any record of achievement in governance, or public service of any kind, Trump and his supporters chose to appeal to the lowest, most primal instincts of the disaffected members of our society. Rabid dog snarling fits from Rudy Giuliani and non-stop nastiness from pit-bull Chris Christie set the negative tone for the entire convention. Only the speeches from Trump’s wife and children leavened the proceedings at all. And while I thought that his children all did a very good job, it did not alter my perception of the man or his supporters.

Then there was Trump’s long-winded homage to himself. I think it’s pretty amazing that he plans to solve all of the world’s problems all by himself. He is so delusional, and egotistical, that he appears to truly believe that he, and he alone, has all of the answers to all of the problems that we face. If it weren’t so scary it would be laughable. And yet his supporters, some of whom are good friends of mine, eat it up. And I just can’t understand it. Are they not listening to the same words, spewing forth from that same orange face, that I am? Do they not hear the bile, the anger, the hatred, the intolerance, and the extravagant love of self in everything that he says? It’s a good thing we have a First Amendment to protect freedom of speech, at least until Trump sues someone for saying something negative about him. Even now. Trump has gone on the attack against Michael Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York that Trump formerly supported, for having the audacity to speak ill of The Donald at the convention. Never before has a candidate slung so much mud at his detractors.

After all the yelling, pontificating, name-calling and finger-pointing during the RNC, dispensed with almost a complete lack of any substantive proposals for how to fix all of the problems they decried, I was ready for a change of pace from the DNC, and they did not disappoint. I found the speeches, particularly those of Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and President Obama, to be positive, inclusive, empowering and uplifting. The messages were forward-looking and upbeat, which was in severe contrast to the dire, negative and often hateful words being shouted at us in Cleveland. In truth, after four days in Philadelphia, I found myself feeling much more positive about voting for Hillary than I did before the convention began. And even more convinced, if that is possible, that electing Donald Trump, would be an unmitigated disaster for our country.

Trump has made a career out of self-promotion, flouting the rules whenever possible, looking out only for himself and showing interest only in his net worth. He has driven numerous businesses into bankruptcy. In fact, his entire empire teetered on the verge of collapse before being saved by some sympathetic lenders. He has also attempted to cheat on his taxes here in Westchester Country by claiming that his golf courses are worth almost nothing for property tax purposes, while at the same time lauding their tremendous value when boasting about his net worth. All this does is hurt the communities in which those properties reside by withholding necessary funds that would otherwise go to social services or school programs.If he’s so proud of the billions that he claims that he’s worth, he shouldn’t be so callous as to skim needed funds from the towns and cities that he works with. And speaking of his purported billions, when is he going to make his tax return public, like all the other candidates?

There is no question that Donald has done a great job creating the “Trump” brand, building golf courses around the world and developing and branding luxury properties. And while not all of his ventures have succeeded, that shouldn’t be held against him as failure is often the result of entrepreneurial effort. Unfortunately, none of his successes in business, such as they are, qualify him to be the President of the United States. The truth is that he is short-tempered, mean-spirited, thin-skinned and ego-maniacal. None of these characteristics are what you want in a president.

Can you imagine him trying to negotiate a bill with Congress, or a treaty with Mexico or China? What rapport do you think a man born into significant wealth, who hasn’t done anything for anyone other than himself his entire life, has with the middle-class or Middle America? What has he done to support workers, people of color, or those without enough education to apply for a job at a Trump construction site, or enough to eat to afford a phony Trump education? What kind of man says the misogynistic, racist, ugly and bullying things he says, then threatens to sue anyone who confronts him? Again, is that really who we want to lead our nation for the next four years?

Contrast all of this with Hillary Clinton, who is by no means a perfect candidate. And for some reason, many people (myself included, to some extent), just dislike her. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that’s the case, but it seems to be true. Could it be the qualities in her that we don’t like would otherwise be acceptable if she was a man? Or perhaps it’s that she has simply been in the public eye for so long and it’s easier to find fault with her than appreciate her good qualities. Either way, her seeming lack of “likability” certainly doesn’t disqualify her from the job as there have been many highly unlikable people that have held elected office and done a very good job. And she has certainly made her fair share of mistakes over the past few years, most notably with Benghazi and her emails. But let’s put that aside for a moment as the issues have been beaten to death. And remember, show me any public figure who has not made decisions, or taken actions, that they would later regret. That’s simply the nature of the beast. I believe candidates should be viewed not for a single event, but for the totality of their service.

So let’s put aside the negatives and instead consider a woman who has dedicated her entire adult life, more than 40 years, to selfless public service. Ponder that for a moment, and contrast it with a lifetime of self-promotion for Donald Trump. She has battled to give a voice to the voiceless and to help the helpless. She has fought for education, healthcare, women, children, minorities and virtually every other citizen of our country. She has worked with our military as well as the leaders of almost every country in the world. Is she perfect – no. But I would take her 40+ years of service against his 40+ years of self-aggrandizement any day.

So who do you want negotiating trade deals on our behalf? Who do you want working with Congress (notice I said “working with Congress”, rather than trying to do it all by himself) to create more jobs? Who do you want with their finger on the trigger of our nuclear arsenal? Who do you want to speak for your daughters, sisters, wives and mothers? Who do you want to protect your right to love whoever you want? Who do you want to fight for some reasonable, enforceable gun legislation, so that we can begin to minimize the almost daily occurrences of horrific mass shootings?

The Democrats do not have all the answers, and I don’t agree with all of the planks of their platform. I would prefer a different approach to taxes and business, but I can live with it as Congress will prevent anything too extreme from being passed. I also don’t agree with a free education; there should be some cost involved so each student feels accountable for their efforts and actions. But there’s no question that higher education should be more affordable and shouldn’t leave student deep in debt upon graduation. But looking at the big picture – climate, Supreme Court, women’s rights, human rights and more – I believe Hillary and the Democrats are on the correct side of the key issues that transcend the individual; that affect all of humanity.

Finally, I strongly believe that we must vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election. There is simply no justification for a Trump presidency. He is not a symbol for change. He is a vote for division, isolation, bullying, chaos and nastiness. And that is not an environment in which I want to live, or raise my family. I hope that, over the course of the next three months, the majority of Americans will really listen to what Trump has to say, and how he says it, so that they will wake up and see him for who he truly is. If they do, then his candidacy is doomed and Hillary Clinton will be our next president.

Advertisements

The Gutless Weasels Win The Day Again

The gutless weasels in Washington once again displayed their partisan colors yesterday by failing to pass legislation requiring slightly more stringent background checks before purchasing guns. This would have in no way limited the right of anyone to buy a gun, nor would it in any way have infringed on our vaunted 2nd Amendment rights, no matter what the irrelevant Sarah Palin had to say. It would simply have added one minor step along the way to legally purchasing a firearm, thereby adding one small layer of protection that might have prevented another tragedy like Columbine or Newton. It is beyond understanding how out of touch our elected officials are with the wishes of the majority of Americans, and how in the pocket they all are with the special interests like the NRA who threaten their precious re-election. They should all be ashamed and voted out of office at the next opportunity.

It’s a sad day when our elected officials fear the power wielded by narrow special interest groups like the NRA  and the GOA (Gun Owners of America), more than they do the majority voice of a nation of voters. It’s time that we the majority raise our voice and demonstrate our power. In the next election, we should vote out the flunkies gun lobby and vote in men and women who will vote their conscience and do the right thing.

I am in no way saying that we should take away guns, or limit the legal right of our citizens to protect their home or family with a firearm should they so choose. Rational gun control is not gun eradication. This is not about the 2nd Amendment. And by the way, the Founding Fathers never, in their worst nightmares, envisioned the types of fully automatic weapons with massive cartridges that are available today. There should be sensible restrictions on how, and from whom, guns can be purchased, and the type of gun that should be available to normal citizens. If not, we can be sure there will be more mass killings in the months and years to come. And when that happens, you can be sure the gun lobby will be out in force saying, once again, that guns don’t kill people.

The following is a comprehensive list of everyone who voted against the bill, except Harry Reid (D-NV) who voted against it purely for procedural reasons. Let’s put an end to their gloating at the voting booth in November.

1. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
2. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
3. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
4. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
5. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)
6. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
7. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)
8. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
9. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
10. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN)
11. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
12. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
13. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
14. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
15. Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID)
16. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
17. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
18. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)
19. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
20. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
21. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
22. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
23. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
24. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
25. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
26. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
27. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
28. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE)
29. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
30. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
31. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
32. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
33. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
34. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
35. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
36. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
37. Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
38. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
39. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
40. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
41. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
42. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
43. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
44. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
45. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Thanks and Happy New Year

For my final entry of the year I thought I’d simply share with you what I wrote today to all of my clients. I think the message is applicable to everyone.

It is just before 2:00pm on the final day of 2012. Fortunately the Mayans were wrong and we’re all still here to be thankful that 2012 is about to pass into history. I, for one, am looking forward to welcoming the new year and saying a (not quite so fond) goodbye to this one. This year has been a very difficult one on so many levels: politically, economically and climatologically. We marveled at the Arab Spring where much of the Middle East saw political upheavals. We watched the European Union rush to the brink of collapse, yet somehow manage to remain solvent for another year. In this country we survived an interminable political process that culminated in the reelection of President Obama. We struggled all year with a stagnant economy and a withering march towards the Fiscal Cliff. We endured a number of catastrophic weather events around the world, including right here in the New York area as Sandy ravaged our coastal communities. Most recently we also watched in horror at the news of another deadly rampage leaving many innocent lives lost to senseless violence. 

Yet through it all, we survived to raise a glass tonight to toast our friends and loved ones and to appreciate all the blessings that we have as citizens of the United States. Notwithstanding all of the troubles I’ve listed above, and the hundreds of daily problems and inconveniences that we all struggle with, we are all blessed to live here, in the country that affords us the greatest freedoms and opportunities on this planet. We must always remember to not only appreciate how fortunate we are, but to never take it for granted. 

Personally, I have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is the continued faith and support of each of my wonderful clients. I’ve been in business for over 15 years now and I could not have done it without each and every one of [them]. I never take for granted the trust that [they] place with me and I appreciate it very much. And while I approach every year with a certain amount of caution, and next year is no different, I am growing more and more optimistic about the future. While we may have another few years of choppy times ahead of us, and we will certainly deal with at least one recession before things really turn around, I think we’re headed again toward a period of unprecedented change and prosperity. I’m not sure exactly when that time will begin, but I am sure that it will occur. Within a few more years we will start to benefit from advances in medicine and technology that we can barely conceive of today. Cures will be found for disease, people will live longer and better, there will be tremendous advances in communications, advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology will create businesses and riches that cannot yet be imagined. Trust me, it will be an exciting time to be alive and we will benefit from the journey.

For now though, we will continue to be vigilant and prudent. We will continue to work together to ensure that your financial goals and aspirations can be met. So thank you again for working with me for another year. I very much look forward to serving you again for years to come. 

So, for those of you who are not my clients (and why aren’t you??), I extend the same message and wishes to you. Cherish your friends and loved ones, and remember to never take your many blessings for granted. Happy New Year and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013.