Cleaning up after Republicans

It’s been noted before that Democratic Presidents don’t come into office with a clean slate.  At least the last two – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have had to clean up significant messes from their Republican predecessors.  It appears that the Democratic President who takes office in 2021 will have to do the same.

First, the economy.  We’ve been on a record run since Barack Obama steered us out of the Great Recession which came largely as a result of Republican de-regulation, tax cuts for the rich and endless war.  The good economy we enjoy now is due in large part to the groundwork Obama set in cleaning up W’s mess.  But, to be fair, Donald Trump has played a part in keeping the economy going strong.  The problem is, though, that Trump did this by priming the pump with an unnecessary tax cut that has added billions to the national deficit.  If you believe in the boom/bust of the business cycle, then a President overseeing a good economy should have an eye ahead to the time when the cycle moves closer to bust.  Any reasonable person should realize that when the economy goes down, then unemployment claims and other forms of assistance who are hurt by a downturn go up.  This will naturally add to the strain on the federal budget.  So, when the economy is going well, take the extra revenues you get from a stronger economy to get the country ready for the increased expenditures coming down the road.  But that’s not what Trump did.  He cut taxes and did it in a way to benefited himself and his rich friends.  It has helped keep the economy going strong, but at a price of adding to the deficit.  So, prediction?  When President Warren takes office, she’ll be fighting against an economy heading into a downturn AND Republicans who all of a sudden think deficits are an existential threat to the country.  It’s gonna happen.

Second, the government.  Trump has been an especially bad example of how a Republican can mess things up when they take the presidency.  He has understaffed the whole government and put absolute hacks into positions where they can do actual damage to the country with misguided ideological views on things (see Education, EPA, CFPB).  It’s going to take President Harris a considerable amount of time to fight to get all of the spots filled.  If the Senate is still controlled by Republicans, it’ll be that much harder.  Plus, a President Biden is going to have to start on day one to reverse the steps Trump took to deregulate business, the environment and more.  Endangered Species, Clean Water, Clean Air, the CFPB (a place close to my heart).  There’s a long list here.

Finally, foreign relations.  Just like Barack Obama had to repair relationships all across the world after 8 years of disastrous Bush policies, President Buttigieg is going to have to make friends again.  And treat our adversaries as adversaries.  Diplomacy has gone out the window under the Trumpies and it’s going to be a long hard slog to get it back.

So, that’s a lot.  On the bright side, there may be a sign in all of this of a Democratic win in 2020.  After 3 terms of Republicans in the White House (Reagan, Bush, Sr.), we got two terms of Clinton and a booming economy.  After 2 terms of Bush Jr. in the White House, we got two terms of Obama with an economy brought back from the brink and the start of the current record of continuous job growth (started in 2010 under Obama).  So, 3, 2, 1?  One term of Trump and let’s get a Democrat in there before he does any more damage.

Working for the Weekend

I was dropping the kiddo off at school this morning and listening to 80s on 8 – Sirius XM and this song came on.

 

I’ll listen to lots of music.  Even the stuff that the MadDoc listens to (The Highway on Sirius XM).  My default is usually 80s stuff.  I was never a huge fan of Loverboy, but they’ve got some songs that I like and will sing along with.  This is one of them.

But that’s not why I’m writing THIS post.  Because I just thought it was funny that when this song came on, this is the first thing that came to my mind.  RIP Chris Farley.

Representative Burchett on Guns

I think it’s very important that the Democrats not let the doldrums of the August recess take away the momentum that we have to get something done on guns.  Even though my Representative is a Republican – Tim Burchett, I figure he represents me, so I should feel free to contact his office and ask him (or his staff really), what’s going on with guns.

But first, I figured I should go and look at his voting record.  On the recent Bill, which passed the House – H.R. 8 – Representative Burchett voted no.  That Bill is titled Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.  The summary of the Bill says, “This bill establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties…it prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check.”  There’s also an exception for firearm transfers between spouses in good faith.

I called Representative Burchett’s Knoxville office to ask about this.  The person who answered the phone pointed me to the press release he issued on the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.  I asked the staffer about the vote and she said that he had a problem with some of the add-ons to the bill.  She also said he would evaluate any further gun reform legislation based on the contents of the Bill.

From looking at the text of the bill, it looks like it removed the old subsection (s) from Title 18 U.S. Code Section 922 and replaced it with the new language.  Since the Bill take aim at firearm transfer between private parties, this looks like it’s trying to fix the so-called “gun show loophole.”  Since there is a background check system already in place and this Bill only goes after the “gun show loophole” to that existing system, it’s hard for me to see what add-ons the staffer might be talking about.

So, I went to see how much the NRA might’ve donated to Representative Burchett and it looks like he received $1,000 in the 2017-18 cycle.  I don’t think I’m being too cynical to guess that Representative Burchett’s vote on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 didn’t really have anything to do with add-ons to the bill.

But, Maddog, doesn’t his vote reflect the wishes of his constituents and the fact that they would not favor any more gun regulation than already exists?  Not necessarily.

Who’s Going to Make the Next Debate (and Who Needs to Go)

No, it’s not time to update my rankings or anything.  The candidates are slogging it out in Iowa eating ice cream and shaking hands all across the state.  Other than some minor gaffes from Biden, there hasn’t been too much news.  So the ranking stays the same for now.

No, I’m going to look ahead to September and look at who’s going to stay in and who should go.  The candidates have a tougher road to get onto the stage for the next debate.  130,000 donors nationally and at least 400 donors in 20 states.  Plus, hit at least 2% in at least 4 national or early state polls.

Nine of the candidates have met these criteria: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Booker, O’Rourke, Klobuchar and Yang.  Of the names on this list, I think all of them except Yang are locks to stay in the race at least until Iowa.  Outside chance that O’Rourke gets convinced to run for Senate in Texas, but all signs point to him staying in.

The next tier for me consists of: Castro, Gabbard, Steyer, Gillibrand and Inslee.  These candidates are pretty close to making the next debate and, even if they don’t, I suspect they’ll try and hang on to the October debate, since that one has the same threshold as the one in September.  I’m a big fan of Castro, as I’ve said before.  He’s met the donor threshold and has three qualifying polls.  I think he gets on the stage and he’ll be around until Iowa.  He’s a dark horse, at best, for the top spot, but one of three or four top contenders for VP.

I’m not a huge fan of Gabbard.  She’s next closest to getting on the stage and, with her military deployment making some news, I’ll be she gets there.  She’s a top VP candidate if Biden wins, so she’s going to stick around.  The others in my second tier – Steyer, Gillibrand and Inslee – would not surprise me any way it goes.  I like Gillibrand and Inslee, so I’d like to see them stick around.  Just not sure they can make it.  Steyer should put his considerable fortune to use backing Democratic candidates, rather than trying to be a candidate.

In my third tier, I lump everyone else.  Their presidential candidacies should soon be at an end.  I like Hickenlooper, but he’s not going to make any more debate stages.  He should go run for Senate in Colorado.  I’m on the fence with Steve Bullock, but he would probably be better served running for Senate.  Even if he drops out, though, if he doesn’t run for Senate, keep him on your list of potential VP candidates if the eventual nominee is a woman.  That leaves: Williamson, Bennet, de Blasio, Delaney, Moulton, Ryan and Sestak.  It’s time to go folks.  Thank you for your service.

Ya Basta!

My Russian is pretty good.  I was an interpreter in the Navy once upon a time.  I also took some German in high school and college.  That, with a regrettable period of time married to a German woman, gives me a passable ability in German.  Unfortunately, though, my foreign language abilities do not include any more than restaurant-level Spanish.  So, when I saw Julian Castro’s ad and he ended it with “Ya Basta!” I’ll admit I had to go google it.  But it’s true enough.  “Enough is enough.”

Even though it’s a good ad, that’s not why I write here.  Evidently, the ad is going to be available online and in a small ad buy on TV.  Where?, you might ask.  On Fox News throughout the day on Wednesday, targeted at Bedminster, New Jersey.  And specifically during Fox and Friends that morning.  What’s so interesting about Bedminster?  Well, that happens to be where Donald Trump is vacationing.  And it seems a good bet that he’ll be watching Fox that day, including what is reported to be appointment television for him, Fox and Friends.  So, again I write to congratulate Castro on a savvy political move.  I’m a big fan of this guy.

 

Tennessee Politics

After being born and raised in Northern Kentucky and then traveling the world while serving in the Navy and Air Force, I have put down some form of roots in East Tennessee.  In Knoxville, to be more precise.  My wife has a thriving practice as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist here in Knoxville and, even if we were inclined to move back to Kentucky (we’re both from there) or anywhere else, my stepdaughter’s dad is not about to let her leave East Tennessee.  Furthermore, both of our mothers live with us and we’re not looking to move them either.

So, I think this is going to be the place I call home for a while.  Maybe a long while and maybe for the rest of my life.  But that’s ok.  We’re close enough to be able to drive back home if we need to visit or want a taste of some Cincinnati chili.  Side note, while I prefer Gold Star, I almost always have Skyline.  Why, you ask?  Because the MadDoc is allergic to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Gold Star puts it in their chili, but Skyline does not.

And Knoxville is a nice town.  Yeah, it’s full of Vol fans, but I find that they’re not as obnoxious as some Kentucky fans claim.  Plus, my son – let’s call him MadZee for our purposes – is going to be attending the University of Tennessee starting this fall.  We’ve got a nice house here, good neighbors and the weather is relatively mild.  I could do a lot worse.

So, with all that said, since I’m doing this blog thing and I consider politics a hobby of sorts, I figure I ought to write some about the politics of this place I call home.

For today, let’s just stay at the federal level.  We’ve got 9 congressional districts in Tennessee.  2 Dems and the rest are red.  The Democratic representatives are in Memphis and Nashville.  Here in Knoxville, the Tennessee 2nd District, we’re represented by Tim Burchett.  He’s serving in his first term.  The second district is drawn in an odd shape and extends up to the Kentucky border.  It includes some of the towns nearby that I hear about all the time, Maryville, Alcoa, Lenoir City.  Representative Burchett is 54 years old  (a year and a month older than me) and previously served as the Mayor of Knox County (not the same as Mayor of Knoxville).  He served in the Tennessee State House and the Tennessee State Senate, starting in state politics, evidently, when he was first elected to the state house in 1994.  I guess that means he has been in politics for 25 years, if that matter to you.

Looks to me like Representative Burchett is pretty safe for reelection in 2020, absent something extraordinary happening, since he won his seat in 2018 with 66% of the vote.  I guess I won’t keep my hopes up.  At least now I know a little about my representative and you do too.  And, dear reader (because there’s only about one of you, after all), don’t be surprised if you hear about Mr. Burchett again on this blog.  He votes with Trump about 95% of the time, so it seems like he’s an ardent supporter.  That’s sure to put him in a precarious position at some point, right?

 

Top 10 Candidates for the Democratic Nomination – Guns Edition

I think we might be in a different world since the horrific shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend.  A couple of candidates have shown up in the aftermath, so I thought it was time to update my rankings.  Remember, this list is based on my preference and not a ranking of the candidates based on their polling.  This is who I want to be the candidate, that’s all.

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Staying steady.  Senator Warren hasn’t done anything special since the last ranking, but I’m still a big fan, so she stays #1.
  2. Joe Biden – up 3 – The former VP does a good job with set pieces.  He went after Trump hard in a speech this week.  I want to see some more assertiveness from my candidate and he is, after all, the front runner with lots of support throughout the party.  I’m still worried about the age and his ability to be quick on his feet in the debates.  The September debates are going to tell a lot.
  3. Beto O’Rourke – previously out of the rankings – Didn’t waste his chance to make points after the shootings, but he did it with sincerity, rather than being calculated about it.  I still see him as a VP candidate rather than in the top spot, but, for now, he’s earned my support.
  4. Julian Castro – Down 2 spots. I like him and he brings something to the overall debate.  The tweet with Trump donors was, as the kids say, a baller move.  Still think he’s a VP candidate, but I like what he’s been doing.  I’ll probably donate in the next month or so to help him get on the next debate stage.
  5. Pete Buttigieg – up 1 spot.  Has been solid in the aftermath of the shootings.  Another VP candidate, but a bank shot away from being a serious contender for the top spot.
  6. Kamala Harris – down 3 spots.  She’s just getting outpaced by some other candidates now.  She’ll need a comeback at the next debate.  Has a high ceiling, but I’d like to see her fine tune her message, instead of trying to walk the line between progressive and moderate.
  7. Cory Booker – down 3 spots.  He’s in a good position to get some attention on the guns issue when it plays into his criminal justice and race issue focus.
  8. Bernie Sanders – down 1 spot.  Bernie needs the gun issue to go away, because he has some baggage in this area.  As long as Biden is viable and Warren is solid, Bernie has no shot.
  9. Amy Klobuchar – up 1 spot.  She’ll be in the next debate and I’ve got her as the leader for Biden’s VP.  Too many flaws for the top spot, though.
  10. Kirsten Gillibrand – down 2 spots.  She’s probably not making the next stage.  Not sure I see how she gets to Iowa.  Also a contender for Biden’s VP.

Dropped out: – Andrew Yang