Showing their colors

On several occasions, since my brief dalliance with a company and website called American Certified - which, alas, is no longer in business – I have cited a group I first ran across around that timeframe called the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM.) I have also pointed out that their perspective comes from their backing, as it is a conglomeration mainly composed of unionized steel manufacturers – so I always assumed they were more in line with the Democratic Party than the Republicans, which traditionally have been more in favor of free trade rather than protectionism.

So I had an e-mail in my back pocket that I was going to mention in a piece like this. Originally it laid out AAM’s plans for both conventions, but I received an updated version of their plans for the Democratic convention confirming that’s where the effort would be.

Here was their slate for the GOP in Cleveland:

AAM is hosting the Keep it Made in America tent, a space located just outside the Quicken Loans arena where we are chatting with convention-goers about ways to grow American manufacturing jobs. We also are speaking at a number of state delegation breakfasts, sharing with local, state and national lawmakers the issues that we think must be on their policy agendas.

AAM president Scott Paul added in a blog post last week:

(T)rade and the atrophy of middle-income factory jobs are dominating the national political discussion. Trump talks about it constantly. But he’s not alone, and this is the first time in the post-World War II era that we’ve seen both party candidates take the issue so seriously.

It’s better late than never. Before you write off Trump’s bellicose “45 percent tariff” rhetoric as low-brow protectionism - or find the change of heart on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Hillary Clinton experienced on the trail a little too politically convenient - keep in in mind that a lot of our fellow Americans agree with this sentiment. They certainly do here in Ohio.

The logic behind free trade, though, is that nations benefit when value is maximized and it may be possible to add more value to a product in another location than it is in America. Yet the AAM argues – correctly to an extent – that nations like China take advantage of the rules by not dealing fairly through a policy of subsidizing industries and currency manipulation.

On the other hand, though, AAM will certainly be pulling out all the stops for the Democrats in Philadelphia, including what they describe as a “scene-setting Town Hall meeting”:

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is hosting a conversation about why these issues matter for our economy, our children’s future and our politics today.

Recent focus group and polling data show these topics are driving voters’ decisions on which candidate to select. Both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump have been aggressive in defining their plans for trade and manufacturing.

Confirmed Speakers Include:

  • Gene Sperling, key economic adviser to Hillary Clinton
  • Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers
  • Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA 3rd District)
  • Mark Mellman, award-winning pollster for Democratic leaders
  • Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing
  • Mike Langford, president of the Utility Workers Union of America
  • Tom Conway, international vice president of the United Steelworkers

This to me represents less of an exchange of information as it would be an echo chamber.

Protectionism and punishing corporations that choose to offshore manufacturing is one possible answer, of course. But the thing I always think about when this conversation comes up is the East German Trabant automobile that was hopelessly stuck decades behind the times when Germany finally reunited in 1990. Because it had a protected market, what incentive did Trabant have for improvement?

Unfortunately, a short-sighted government-centered approach that saw manufacturers as cash cows for big government and favored the big guys over leaner, hungrier start-ups through regulation too burdensome for smaller competitors to withstand has done as much (or more) to curtail American manufacturing as our trade policies have. While I certainly don’t believe many of our larger trade agreements were tailored to suit our interests enough, for the most part it’s the complexity of the deals and how they worked out exceptions for certain industries and players that is the issue. If we simply said “we won’t tariff your stuff if you don’t tariff ours” and both sides stuck to it, eventually the market would find its own level. America should be able to use the advantages of a predictable legal system, well-educated workforce, abundant sources of energy, and outstanding transportation network, but they are negated by the policies in place that I describe above.

The generation of my grandparents won World War II by being able to produce within our borders much of the material and equipment needed to keep a two-front fighting force going. Can anyone honestly say we could do that today? I don’t wish us to be on a war footing, but I’m convinced America can be a place that makes things again. It’s a simple matter of policy over protectionism, and adopting a hands-off approach at the federal level (yes, there’s that limited government idea of mine again) would be the best course of action. I just don’t think AAM would be willing to listen to that argument.

Weekend of local rock volume 70

July 24, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Local Music, Personal stuff · Comment 

As I did from last month, I’m building on 3rd Friday to provide another edition of WLR. But in this installment I’ll profile a local group doing good through music.

The “official” 3rd Friday group playing on the Plaza stage was a Salisbury University-based group called The Benchwarmers, who I would say had more of a jazz feel than straight up rock. But they won the right to play through a battle of the bands, so here they were.

I still haven’t figured out the idea of the painting being created behind the group, but to each his or her own, I guess.

Now if you stood in just the right spot, you could hear the Plaza stage in one ear while Alex & Shiloh played in the other one, outside at Roadie Joe’s.

The management at Roadie Joe’s has definitely picked up on the concept of having outside live music during 3rd Friday and bringing in business, as the outside tables are generally filled. (Kim and I ate there last month, as I noted in WLR 69.) It’s nice because if the main stage doesn’t strike your fancy you can browse on over to that end of the Plaza.

I didn’t stay for the Roadie Joe’s nightcap act this time because I knew I would be back downtown the next night for a benefit called “Fire Up the Bands,” sponsored by the Maryland-8 chapter of Hogs and Heroes, a motorcycling group dedicated to supporting military and first responders.

While there were originally three bands on the bill, a late change cut things down to two. Meanwhile, there was a silent auction going on and the leadership of Hogs and Heroes was giving away door prizes between bands.

But the evening began with a group I had just seen at the Concert for a Random Soldier a couple months back, Scrapple.

After noting the sudden passing of Lewes firefighter Tim McClanahan in a training accident, Scrapple played a hard-rocking set that featured songs like the Black Crowes’ Remedy, Love Removal Machine from The Cult, Godsmack’s Keep Away, and Pearl Jam’s Even Flow, just to name a few. They also found time for an original song of theirs, which I thought was cool.

Once Scrapple finished, I went outside to stretch my legs, see some bikes, and watch the sun set over a cloudy downtown. There was a rain shower that passed harmlessly by during the show.

The second band on the bill was Lime Green, which I know has a number of originals to its credit based on their online presence. But they chose to play just one, their most recent called Pemberton Park.

Yet Lime Green still had a lot of unique musical ideas, like buttressing the old Pink Panther Theme into Pink Floyd, playing forgotten classics like The Ballad of Curtis Loew by Lynard Skynard or Snortin’ Whiskey by the Pat Travers Band, and absolutely blowing me away with their closer originally done by Rush. I never thought I would hear the first part of 2112 done as a cover, but they did Overture/The Temples of Syrinx. Damn, that was cool. I’m still smiling thinking about it.

Because the original intention was to have three bands, Scrapple came out and played a second set that started with Rush as well. But as they did when I saw them previously, they took Working Man and transitioned it into War Pigs by Black Sabbath. Their second set was heavier and more modern, with songs from Buckcherry, Marilyn Manson, Staind, and Tool among the selections.

But they got a little help when they went retro blues and did One Way Out, a song made popular by the Allman Brothers.

There was also a fun drum solo toward the end.

If I have one thing to say about Headquarters Live as a venue, though, I have to say that taking pictures in there is a royal pain with a cell phone camera. Unless you catch the lights just right, they come out awful. The best pics I had were with the doors open when it was still light out, which is why you get one photo of Lime Green.

But my night wasn’t done. A friend of mine has been bugging me to see his band, so I went back over to Roadie Joe’s to catch Copious Poor.

While they admitted they needed to get a sound person, the selection of songs was pretty good. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of a song I have occasionally used the video from on this site, Bound for the Floor by Local H. (You may see it again November 9.)

So once again it was a good weekend of local rock for firefighters that can always use a helping hand. It reminded me that local bands are among the quickest to respond when there’s a need to lend their talents for a good cause – or just to make an evening a little better.

The cooling-off period

At one time I planned on writing a rebuttal to all the Trump items I put up this week yesterday, but after all the events of the convention I decided it was better to hold off for a week or so and let emotions simmer down a little bit. It also gives me a chance to attend two of my meetings and gauge the mood of the electorate, so to speak – so perhaps after all that I will pick up that baton and share my thoughts on both Marita Noon’s commentary regarding Trump’s energy policy and the entire Art of the Deal series. Right now, emotions are too high and points will be missed.

It’s no secret I didn’t support Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, nor will I be backing the Clinton/Kaine ticket. (Hell, the guy doesn’t even know our part of Maryland exists because he thought Virginia shared a border with Delaware.) Yet I still have an interest in the downticket races, and this year I will be following the advice of Ted Cruz and voting my conscience. (Or, if you prefer, Ivanka Trump, who said, “I vote based on what I believe is right for my family and for my country.” So will I.) But the combination of the Democratic convention taking over the news cycle and my general fatigue with the Presidential race means I may look at some other stuff for a little bit.

One thing I was asked to look at by my friends at the Patriot Post for this week was the prospects for Republicans in the downticket federal races. (If you get their “Weekend Snapshot,” the article is prominently featured there as well.) But I find a little bit of fault with my editor because my original concluding sentence was, “The next four years could be the most interesting and unpredictable times our nation has ever known.” My thought in that sentence was to invoke the old adage “may you live in interesting times” as we seem to be cursed into a choice leading us toward them. To me, this may be the election where more people vote against someone that affirmatively vote for a candidate.

(To that end, can we install the “none of these candidates” option like Nevada has? I could see factions in all four parties on the ballot in Maryland who would love a do-over: Republicans who are anti-Trump, Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders, Libertarians who would like a more doctrinaire candidate than former Republican Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein of the Green Party who would happily move aside for Sanders, too.)

Just think about Congress for a moment. In poll after poll it’s shown to be one of the least popular institutions in the country, but voters send all but a small handful back term after term until they decide to retire. Maryland is a good example of this, with the longest-tenured Congressman being Steny Hoyer (17 terms), followed by Elijah Cummings with 10, Chris Van Hollen and Dutch Ruppersberger with seven apiece, John Sarbanes with five, Donna Edwards with four (plus a few months), Andy Harris with three, and John Delaney with two. Since Edwards and Van Hollen both sought the Senate seat, those districts will open up – but thanks to blatant gerrymandering, they are likely to be gravy trains and “lifetime appointments” for Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin, respectively.

Aside from the one term of Frank Kratovil here in the First District as a “blue dog” Democrat carried on the Obama wave in an otherwise GOP-dominated area, you have to go back almost forty years to find a handful of one-term wonders that Maryland sent to Congress. Both our current Senators came to the job after serving multiple terms in the House, as would Chris Van Hollen if he wins the Senate seat. Kathy Szeliga, on the other hand, has served just a term and a half in the Maryland House of Delegates – although compared to other GOP Senate candidates in recent years that almost qualifies as “career politician,” too.

Yet while our GOP candidate supports Trump and has an uphill battle to win, she was criticized for skipping the convention as well:

Some (GOP convention) delegates who wished to remain anonymous to avoid antagonizing another party member privately expressed discontent and disappointment with Szeliga’s and Hogan’s absences in Cleveland at a time when unity is a key goal of their party after a fractious primary season.

Of course, Andy Harris was there in Cleveland, but he’s in an R+13 or so district with far less to worry about. It was better for Szeliga to be in Crisfield meeting voters with her opponent there.

So while I will talk about the convention in at least one piece I’m considering – and my invited guests may decide on their own to look at the Presidential race – I’m going to step back from it for a little bit. It’s the pause that will refresh me.

Shorebird of the Week – July 21, 2016

July 21, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

He’s been on a tear lately, reminding people why he was a valued prospect. But Natanael Delgado has nearly slipped through the cracks of this Shorebird season until now.

You may not have been aware of him because he didn’t come up through the Orioles’ system like most of our players do. Delgado was acquired in a late spring training trade with the Los Angeles Angels, who also parted with infielder Erick Salcedo to acquire pitcher Chris Jones from the Orioles. (Salcedo is playing at Frederick and Jones is pitching in AAA, where he was last year with Norfolk.) But it was a bit of a surprise to see a Midwest League All-Star from last season repeat at the same level for the Orioles, let alone struggle early on.

The 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has had a July that’s as scorching as the weather, though, hitting .400 for the month in 13 games with a sick 1.136 OPS. It’s bumped his overall numbers up to .261/7/32/.725 OPS, and remember he was hitting just .170 at the end of April.

Coming up through the Angels’ system, he played for the AZL Angels in 2013, Orem in the Pioneer League in 2014, and with Burlington of the Midwest League last year. It would be like playing in the Gulf Coast League with the Orioles’ team, then moving up to their former Bluefield Orioles farm team, then playing for Delmarva last year. Over that span, Natanael hit .261 between the three, although he slipped to a .241/6/46/.631 OPS line last season. Essentially he is repeating the level and has improved in several key areas, most particularly being a bit more selective and walking more. Last season in 438 plate appearances, Delgado struck out 104 times while walking just 19; so far this season in 240 plate appearances he’s still struck out 67 times but has taken 20 walks.

Delgado has split his time between being a designated hitter and playing right field in what has been a talented (if crowded) outfield thus far for Delmarva. It’s a position that seems to be deep at this level, so the competition may come next spring as Delgado tries to move up the system. Continuing the strong July out to the end of the season may be key for his advancement.

Art of the Deal: how Donald Trump negotiated his nomination (part 4 of 4)

July 21, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Marita Noon, Politics · 1 Comment 

Commentary by John Manfreda, edited by Marita Noon

Last of four parts.

When it comes to what to expect from him, some things are obvious, while others no one knows – not even Trump himself. Consider what he said on page 1: “I play it very loose. I don’t carry a briefcase. I try not to schedule too many meetings. I leave my door open. You can’t be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you have too much structure. I prefer to come to work each day and just see what develops.”

He might not have everything planned until the last minute, but there are some things that we do know.

We can know he is going to restructure trade deals – or do away with them altogether. With Trump in the Oval Office, NAFTA, Japan, Korea, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreements will be, at least, revised. International trade has been a main topic of his conversation since the 1980s.

Likewise, we can expect relationships with OPEC countries to be restructured.

On page 321, Trump asserts: “Objective qualifying standards ought to be adopted for any bidder on a city job. Provable past performance, for example, should be required across the board. In addition, any contractor who does good work for the city – coming in on time and on budget – ought to be given priority on future city jobs.” For the rest of that chapter, Trump attacks the ills of government contracting. Therefore, expect a revamped government contracting process from a President Trump.

Referencing his dealings with a project on the West Side, page 346, Trump says: “Providing jobs, in my view, is a far more constructive solution to unemployment then creating welfare programs.”  From this quote, and other recent comments about the country’s terrible infrastructure, it is safe to assume that he will try to re-build the nation’s infrastructure. It will be a means of creating jobs and attracting future businesses to invest in the U.S.

In the Art of the Deal, he also talks about providing incentives to invest, such as tax-free zones. Such proposals, and other types of tax cut plans – maybe even a new tax code, should be expected when Trump becomes president.

Conclusion  

What many people originally failed to see is that Trump has either always wanted to be, or thought at one point in his lifetime that he would have to try and become, president. What this history makes clear, is that he has been negotiating this presidential run since the 1980s.

Just days before the convention, the latest Rasmussen poll gives Trump his biggest lead yet over Hillary Clinton: 44-37. Yet, the general consensus among the political, multinational, and intellectual elite is that she is going to be our next president. As a resident of Washington DC, I am confident this poll hasn’t changed their minds. They’ll claim that Trump is a racist, he doesn’t have a plan, or he isn’t specific about his plans, and that he won’t release his tax returns because he must be hiding something. Even some Republicans don’t like him and fear he is a loose cannon. The list goes on and on.

Instead of focusing on what he is or isn’t during his presidential run, the elites need to examine who he is. The media elite understand that Trump isn’t a politician, that he isn’t politically correct. But he is a businessman, an entrepreneur, who built a global organization that does business all over the world. Trump isn’t just his name; it is his brand. Beginning in 1974, when he became president of the Trump Organization, he has built his brand through years of work, dedication, and excellence. Since then he has achieved unimaginable success. In 1976, he partnered with the Hyatt Corporation to build the Grand Hyatt hotel. In 1986, he took over a failed public project and rebuilt New York City’s Wollman Rink. He built Trump Tower, created the celebrity Apprentice show, and Trump International Chicago. These, and other successes, are the definition of the Trump brand – not a rally speech or a cable TV debate. It is something Trump has that differs from all other politicians.

Trump cemented his brand in the mind of the American people long before this election. Through his business practices, they understand what they will receive when they buy a Trump product: integrity, excellence, and satisfaction. When voters support Trump, it is not about his speeches, or his rhetoric; not his politically incorrect mantra, or his outsider status. What they are truly voting for is the Trump brand, and for that brand to equally reflect American prosperity, foreign affairs, and the future of this country. The American voter is hoping that, in 2017, the Trump brand becomes America’s brand.

In football, all coaches have a playbook that dictates strategy, game plan, and execution. Bill Walsh’s signature playbook was called the West Coast Offense, the 1985 Chicago Bears signature playbook was called the 46 Defense, in the late 90s-early 2000s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers called theirs Tampa 2. Trump’s run for the presidency isn’t any different. For Trump, his playbook is called the Art of the Deal. This book outlines how he is strategizing, planning, and executing his run for the presidency.

Understanding Trump’s playbook explains why he doesn’t need to release his tax returns, he doesn’t need all Republicans to like him, and why his voters don’t care that he is a loose cannon. It’s why he doesn’t need to be detailed and why attacks from the press claiming that he is racist haven’t derailed or hurt him like they would other candidates.

Donald Trump’s run to the White House could be described as, first they ignore Trump, then they laugh at Trump, then they fear Trump, then they get Trumped.

John Manfreda majored in Pre-Law at Frostburg State University and received his MBA at Trinity University. He has co-authored The Petro Profit report and dividend stock report, and is a former Bullion Broker. He has been featured in Forbes, the Edmund Burke Institute, The Money Show, the Examiner, and the Smart Money investor. This piece was originally written during the early primary season and predicted Trump’s win. It has been updated and revised to reflect the current political environment.

40th annual Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in pictures and text

It was awful tempting to jump on into that water, but several thousand people managed to sweat their way through another hot Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. While Republicans tend to have a little more presence in the area, some of the Tawes regulars were absent because the event coincided this year with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

That convention minted the GOP Presidential nominee, who seemed to be pretty popular.

That group of signs dwindled little by little, as Trump adorned a number of tents. On the other hand, there were far fewer Hillary signs – but the Democrats also had their crowded space.

Sarah Meyers (in the blue shirt) is a friend of mine, and she was tearing her hair out as the coordinator there because they overbooked the space. (You may see her at the Democratic Convention next week, as she will be there as a page.) By the same token, the Somerset Republicans only went with one tent as well and it was packed, too. So both parties had close quarters.

Yet the businesses seemed to have ample space. I didn’t peek into every tent, but many of them (as well as businesses lining State Route 413 into Crisfield) had a simple message: welcome Governor Hogan.

Even lobbyist Bruce Bereano, who always has the largest space, got into that act.

Yet among those businesses I did pick out I found an odd juxtaposition there, particularly under the auspices of the local economic development commission.

In order, these businesses are Cleanbay Renewables, which is a chicken waste recycling firm, Pinnacle Engineering, which services NASA, the Somers Cove Marina Commission, and Great Bay Solar I. The last is interesting because this project was originally supposed to be wind turbines, but objections to the siting of the turbine towers from the Navy forced the company to go solar, making lemonade out of lemons. With the exception of Pinnacle, the state has sort of forced the market for the other two businesses.

Yet on the other side was a law firm that objects to the approach the state is using to clean Chesapeake Bay through its Clean Chesapeake Coalition. They believe much of the problem comes from the sediment that leaches out from behind Conowingo Dam in severe storms.

I happen to think the CCC has a pretty good case.

Speaking of business, the food business did pretty well there. Almost too well.

According to my cell phone camera, which took all my photos today, I took that picture at 12:01 as I walked over to get in line for food. Here is the end result, 46 minutes and four lines later.

I actually asked for the onion rings as I inched closer to the front of the French fry line. And I certainly don’t fault the crew because they worked hard, even toward the end when I snapped this.

I think the issue is the increasing use of “runners” who get multiple orders of food and slow down the lines. It seemed like every third person in line was one, which meant those who just wanted to fend for themselves had to wait.

The guy who didn’t have to wait in line was Governor Larry Hogan, because I don’t think he ate a bite.

This is a second segment of time lapse. I took this photo above in the area where the food lines were at 1:57 p.m. Now, let me ask you: where’s Hogan?

He’s barely visible in the center of the photo, obscured by Delegate Charles Otto in the pinkish shirt. In 35 minutes he had advanced maybe 80 yards thanks to the crush of well-wishers who wanted to shake his hand, have a photo with him (although he suggested it in a number of cases) and perhaps say their piece. I was in the latter group as I wanted to thank him for his stance on the Presidential election. Larry commented that he had noticed the reception I’ve received on social media a couple times as it echoed a lot of what he had seen on his.

Stay strong, Governor.

The two major-party candidates for U.S. Senator were also there. Now I missed Democrat Chris Van Hollen – perhaps because I didn’t recognize him walking around – but I did get a glimpse of Kathy Szeliga from the GOP.

Of the people I saw and photographed, she was one of the few I didn’t speak to at least a little bit. I don’t blame her – our paths just didn’t cross but once.

Of course, a few locals managed to be in front of my camera, such as Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, who brought her family and a batch of others from Worcester County.

She was speaking to Duane Keenan from Red Maryland.

The other half of Worcester County must have come with Senator Jim Mathias, who had a number of folks with a matching shirt to his. He was a little peaked by the time I took the moment to thank him for his assistance with the school board election bill.

Yet while we had hot and cold running politicians there, we also had a lot of media asking questions. I noted Duane Keenan above, but here’s Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post (right) speaking to Jackie Wellfonder. Jackie made the cut in Ovetta’s story.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mike Bradley, who hosts WGMD’s morning show out of Lewes, Delaware. Since his station covers a fair amount of the lower Shore in its signal, he was interviewing some of the local players. It’s a very good show that I catch once I cross into Delaware on my way to work.

And it could be that the Tawes event is becoming one for the greater Delmarva area. A delegation of elected officials from the First State included Representative Tim Dukes, who covers the Laurel and Delmar areas in his 40th District.

The reason I’m in the photo on the right: it was taken by Dukes’ fellow representative (and Minority Leader in the Delaware House) Danny Short of Seaford. Since we’re neighbors with Delaware it was nice to see some of their elected officials, too.

In that respect, this coverage was a little lacking because I did a lot of walking and talking to a number of nice folks from around the state. I want to say I overheard Jackie Wellfonder say this, but Tawes really is “like a big ‘ol family reunion.” We don’t often see a lot of politicians travel across the bridge but for attending Tawes, so you have to say hello and speak your piece when you can.

Art of the Deal: how Donald Trump negotiated his nomination (part 3 of 4)

July 20, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Marita Noon, Politics · 1 Comment 

Commentary by John Manfreda, edited by Marita Noon

Third of four parts.

When it comes to presidential conspiracies, no one’s presidential campaign has generated more conspiratorial talk then Trump’s. One of the more popular ones was that he is a Democratic plant.

People forgot that before Donald Trump was ever a Democrat, he was a symbol of 1980’s wheeling-and-dealing Reaganomics wealth boom. He wrote a best-selling novel and had his own board game. He was a Republican for a long time, before he ever tried out the Democrats.

People pointed to his campaign contributions as proof that he really was a Democrat. From 1989 to 2011, Trump did donate $581,350 to the Democrat Party and only $497,690 to the Republican Party - with a good amount donated to Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi.

In his defense, when operating in the real estate industry, where permitting, approvals, licensing, and government bureaucracy were part of his everyday life, he had to maintain good relations with public officials of all parties, not just Republicans.

Trump is also in the gaming business. Naturally he is going to befriend a powerful Senator from Nevada who is very influential on public policy in the gaming industry. Remember, he had to protect his business.

Regarding the Clinton donations, she was a senator in his home state. She carried a lot of weight in the Senate. He also lives in a Blue state – which requires him to have good relations with his public officials that are Democrats (especially the very influential ones.)

When it comes to Nancy Pelosi, she was the Speaker of the House. Trump had, in 2006, a newly opened Los Angeles golf course. While not directly in her district, Pelosi is still in the state of California. As Speaker, she has enormous sway over federal law. It made sense, to protect his golf course, for him to befriend the most powerful lawmaker in the state. In addition to California, he also holds major properties in New Jersey and New York – all states that generally elect lawmakers who are Democrats. As a businessman, Trump did what was best for his business and protected his assets.

Looking at his donations from 1989 to the present, Trump’s donations to Republican candidates outnumbered his donations to Democrats. So overall, his campaign contributions to Republicans are still greater than those made to Democrats – Republicans:  $961,140; Democrats $584,850. Trump has donated significantly more to Republicans than Democrats.

If he had been a plant for the Democrats, they were probably unaware of, or overlooked, the disparity.

In 2004, his show, The Apprentice, finally aired on NBC – which is a left-leaning news organization. Before claiming the Democrat plant conspiracy, at least consider the possibility that he joined the Democrat Party to get NBC to air his show. I have no proof that this is true, but the idea is worthy of consideration – especially in light of the “plant” conspiracy that floated around.

Proof Trump was Serious

When Trump announced his candidacy, many claimed he wasn’t serious; that he was just putting on a show. As previously stated, however, political office is something he has been considering for years – during which time his ideas were percolating. Go back to his 1988 interview on the Oprah Winfrey show. In it, he talked about making our allies pay their fair share. He criticized Japan for not allowing U.S. companies to sell products into their markets, while we allow them to sell into our market. He ranted about our trade deficits. He claimed the Kuwaitis were living like kings. Most importantly, he said if things continued the downward trajectory, he wouldn’t rule out a run.

The Trump heard on Oprah’s nearly 20-year-old interview, sounds a lot like the one we heard in the primary election: bad trade policy, our debt, and the horrible shape of our country. You can easily replace his Japan rhetoric of the 1980s, with that of Mexico, or China today. In fact on page 189, Trump says this about Japan: “What’s unfortunate is that for decades now they have become wealthier in large measure by screwing the United States with a self-serving trade policy that our political leaders have never been able to fully understand or counteract.”

When you look at his past political actions and campaign strategies, they reflect his Art of the Deal views.

But if you want more proof that he was serious from the beginning, and will do what he says once in the Oval Office, look at page 60 in chapter 2. This chapter is called Trump Cards: The Elements of the Deal. In it, one of the listed elements is: “Deliver the Goods.” Part of the Trump Brand isn’t just promotion, marketing, and bravado, it’s being able to back up its publicity with results.

If being able to talk a big game were all that was required to build a real estate empire, there would be tons of Donald Trumps out there. But he is unique. Building the Trump brand requires more than talk; it requires action and results. This is why he isn’t all talk when he is on the campaign trail, and what seems to be more important to him than money is his brand. That is a brand that communicates quality, excellence, and results.

If Trump were to go back on his word, break his promise to the people, and not deliver the “goods,” he wouldn’t be considered just another politician, like so many candidates. Other politicians don’t have a brand, Trump does. If he were to act like many politicians – all talk and no action – he would destroy his brand. Any successful entrepreneur/business owner will tell you, your brand means everything. The old saying is: “my word is my bond,” but to Trump, his brand is his bond.

This is what makes Trump unique, this is why he isn’t a politician, and this is why if elected, he would deliver the results, because that is the Trump Brand.

If you want more proof that Trump is serious, Mexico and China have both responded to Trump’s accusations that the countries are ripping America off. If they thought Trump was just putting on a show, the respective leaders wouldn’t have tried to make their case directly to the American people. Remember, they have their own country and people to please.

In part 4 tomorrow: what kind of President will Trump be?

John Manfreda majored in Pre-Law at Frostburg State University and received his MBA at Trinity University. He has co-authored The Petro Profit report and dividend stock report, and is a former Bullion Broker. He has been featured in Forbes, the Edmund Burke Institute, The Money Show, the Examiner, and the Smart Money investor. This piece was originally written during the early primary season and predicted Trump’s win. It has been updated and revised to reflect the current political environment.

Art of the Deal: how Donald Trump negotiated his nomination (part 2 of 4)

July 19, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Marita Noon, Politics · 2 Comments 

Commentary by John Manfreda, edited by Marita Noon

Second of four parts.

The 2015-16 GOP primary offered a political environment where there was no clear-cut favorite. None of the candidates had a clear and established base of supporters. The frontrunner, Jeb Bush, had a toxic last name – something Trump could attack and brand in his unique style. Governor Scott Walker’s state of Wisconsin was ranked 40th in private sector job creation, and the state budget faced fiscal woes as well. Other high profile candidates included Rick Perry, who didn’t remember which departments he wanted to shut down; Mike Huckabee who has failed to generate any momentum in past elections, Chris Christie who is unpopular with the conservative base;  and Carly Fiorina who lost to Barbara Boxer in her Senate bid. This field of Republican candidates was the perfect batch for a Trump move.

When it comes to the presidential opponents in the general election, his potential opponents were even weaker than his Republican primary opponents. Hillary Clinton, who even then, was the front runner for the Democrat Party, had the Benghazi scandal hanging over her head – not to mention a litany of past scandals such as Whitewater. With her track record, Trump could make the name Hillary Clinton synonymous with the words greed, corruption, and criminal – which become the moniker: “Crooked Hillary.” Additionally, she lacks charisma and grace. Most Americans view Bernie Sanders’ affiliations with the socialist party and his touted 90% income tax rate as extreme. By now, many may have forgotten Martin O’Malley – whose image was tarnished by the Baltimore riots. Then there was Jim Webb – who didn’t seem likely to fire up the Democrat base with his views on Climate Change and willingness to defend the Confederate flag.

Here, Trump finally had the opportunity to go from longshot to favorite. This is the environment he’d been waiting for. But it wasn’t just the candidates that gave Trump the edge in this election. It was probably the change in public sentiment and the toxic political environment for establishment candidates that may have enticed him into the political arena.

Most voters have been dissatisfied with the GOP, the Democrat Party, and career politicians. In fact, many Americans have expressed that a third party is needed.

This environment was perfect for a promoter like Trump – who was anything but a politician. He is brash, confrontational, savvy, straightforward, and rebellious. Unlike past elections, this is what the voters crave: someone who isn’t a politician. Trump can deliver just that. Due to their unhappiness with President Obama, he even has a chance to sway African-Americans into voting Republican.

This is the political environment Trump has been waiting for.

How Trump Took the Spotlight from the Other Candidates

Realize Trump has spent years burnishing his brand. He is always marketing himself as a rich and successful businessman. Therefore, he could pay for his own campaign. He didn’t need lobbyists’ money.

Remember this: Trump didn’t become rich by throwing money away or blowing it on a good time. On page 358, he tells about the Wollman Rink that he completed after the New York government failed. In the end, it was $750,000 under budget – which is reflected in his campaign strategy of cost effectiveness.

On page 56 he reveals: “One thing I have learned about the press is that they are always hungry for a good story and the more sensational the better.”

Looking back, it is easy to see this principle at work. It exposes his belief that he didn’t need to spend as much money as traditional candidates. Yes, his primary campaign had its costs, but, due to his ability to feed the hungry press, it was more cost effective than the other Republican candidates. Trump knows how to generate a story – which garnered him air time, promotional time, and/or marketing time with the media. This led to more TV press and allowed him to receive more interview offers than other presidential candidates. He made his case to people on a more consistent basis than the other candidates.

The media loved that Trump wasn’t afraid to broadcast what other people wouldn’t even whisper – such as Americans won’t elect another black president due to Obama’s performance, or more controversial remarks saying McCain wasn’t a war hero. Sound bites such as these were made for Twitter and give Trump more coverage, future interviews, and a new medium to communicate his unique message. He followed up the above quotes, stating that there won’t be another black president because Obama has not helped out the black community. After his McCain remarks, he added that McCain hasn’t helped veterans get the care they need while acting as a sitting senator and that our country needs to do more to help our veterans.

Additionally, Trump has a huge Facebook and Twitter following. In the age of digital and social media, this made it easier for Trump to generate a sensational story. Whether it’s a Twitter fight, or Facebook quote, Trump generates news anywhere, at any time. Remember, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all those social media accounts are free. Talk about cost effective communication – you don’t get more cost effective than free.

Access to social media, combined with Trump’s relationship with the press, allowed him to make his case directly to the people on a more regular basis than candidates in past elections were able to do.

The next quote from Art of the Deal that I’ll cite is from page 58: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole” – which surely reflects the tone of his campaign.

He has said: “I will be the greatest jobs president God has ever created.” He’ll beat China. He will build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. All of which definitely sounds like the guy who wrote Art of the Deal. This “bravado” had the public wanting to communicate with him, instead of a candidate trying to communicate with the public and allowed him to make his case to the people more frequently than his opponents.

It is clear, having spent years building up his following, Trump knows how to use social media. At his fingertips, he has a big audience. He frequently, and effectively, communicates with them.

His political opponents didn’t have the time to create a large following or the practice communicating their messages. Instead, their time was spent trying to raise money. This gave Trump a PR edge that his opponents couldn’t overcome.  He spent less money campaigning and more time communicating. As a result, he owned the spotlight.

In part 3 tomorrow: debunking the Trump conspiracies.

John Manfreda majored in Pre-Law at Frostburg State University and received his MBA at Trinity University. He has co-authored The Petro Profit report and dividend stock report, and is a former Bullion Broker. He has been featured in Forbes, the Edmund Burke Institute, The Money Show, the Examiner, and the Smart Money investor. This piece was originally written during the early primary season and predicted Trump’s win. It has been updated and revised to reflect the current political environment.

Art of the Deal: how Donald Trump negotiated his nomination (part 1 of 4)

July 18, 2016 · Posted in Campaign 2016 - President, Marita Noon, Politics · Comment 

Commentary by John Manfreda, edited by Marita Noon

First of four parts.

After previously flirting with the idea, on June 16, 2015, Donald Trump finally announced his entrance into politics with a run for the White House. At the time, people wondered if he was serious. Many doubted that he could secure the nomination, as many now doubt that he can win the presidency.

Understanding how serious he actually was, requires knowledge of two things:

  • his political history, and
  • his most referenced book: The Art of the Deal.

Trump’s Political History

The idea of running for president wasn’t new – it began in 1988, when political activist Mike Dunbar came up with the idea. Trump was dissatisfied with both the Republican candidates: George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. Trump claimed they were “duds.” Despite creating full page ads in the New York Times, which explained his own foreign policy, Trump ultimately decided not to make a presidential bid.

Though this was the first time a Trump bid for the White House was discussed publically, it certainly wasn’t the last.

For the rest of the 1980s, and for much of the 1990s, he remained with the Republican Party. But in 1999 that changed. Trump left the Republicans and joined the Reform Party. He said the reason for his departure was because it became too conservative, while Democrats were too liberal. Trump claims that through the Reform Party, he was hoping to help form a more centrist organization.

In the year 2000, Trump teased with the idea of running for president as a Reform Party candidate. He even wrote a book called The America We Deserved. In it, Trump claims he dropped out of the race due to the party’s internal conflicts.

In 2001, Trump joined the Democrat Party. During his time with the Democrats, there were rumors that he would run for president in 2004. However, in 2004, his TV show The Apprentice was launched. He also toyed with the idea of running for president in 2008. While with the Democrats, Trump also considered running for governor of New York – but ultimately decided not to.

Disillusioned with the Democrats, in 2009, Trump switched back to his original party: the Republican Party.  But his big splash didn’t come until 2012 when he questioned Obama’s legitimacy as president, and, once again, claimed that America was missing quality leadership. He, then, seriously looked at a 2012 presidential run.

Trump ultimately concluded he wasn’t ready to leave the private sector for politics. He also thought Mitt Romney could defeat Barack Obama.

In 2014, there was again speculation that he would run for governor.

Trump’s Politics Now

After years of contemplation, Trump decided to finally run for president in the 2016 Republican primary. But Trump’s announcement still had people wondering: “Is he serious and can he win?” Then and now, some still have their doubts.

To answer the questions, one must understand the philosophy outlined in his book Art of the Deal. This book is one of the best ways to understand Trump’s political past and current actions. In political interviews, discussions, and speeches, he cleverly brings in Art of the Deal. In fact, one of his famous presidential candidate announcement quotes is: “We need a leader who wrote The Art of the Deal.” Not having met Donald Trump personally, I found this book to be a great source for understanding his political actions and motivations.

Why Trump Walked Away From Past Political Races

After reading Art of the Deal, Trump’s political actions became clearer. I concluded that he was always serious about running for office, but would only do so if the environment was favorable. Understanding Trump’s negotiating methods are central to my conclusion.

The Art of the Deal, Chapter 2, page 53 states: “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” He also repeatedly says: “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

On page 54-55 he addresses the key to negotiating successful real estate deals. When it comes to real estate, most people say you need a great location. However, Trump claims that you don’t need the best location in order to negotiate a successful real estate deal. Instead, you need the best deal. Location can be enhanced through promotion and psychology. Trump also states: “What you should never do is pay too much, even if it means walking away from a very good site.” (page 56)

This helps explain his resistance to commit to past political races. In 1988, Trump would have had to face Vice President George H.W. Bush. Bush benefitted from Ronald Reagan’s popularity as most Americans were well off financially and Reagan’s success was seen as Bush’s - which won Bush the nomination on the first ballot. Trying to dethrone the Reagan Revolution likely wasn’t the deal Trump wanted to walk into. He did what he does when presented with a bad deal: he walked away from it.

Had he run in 2000, he would have had to run as a third party candidate in a party rife with internal conflict, while running against the man who was vice president under a popular president: Al Gore; as well as Bush legacy heir: George W. Bush. Once again, not a good deal for Trump – he walked away from it.

In 2004, he would have had to unseat G.W. Bush in the middle of a war – a wartime president has never lost a re-election in the history of U.S. presidential elections.

In 2008, there was Hillary, the rise of Obama, and anti-Republican feelings with which to contend. Even though Trump was a registered Democrat at the time, he had Republican ties throughout the 1980s and 90s, so this obviously wasn’t a good environment for him, either. He did what he always does when confronted with bad deals, he walked away.

In 2012, he would have had to face Mitt Romney – a favorite of the baby boom generation – in the primary. Then in the Presidential election he would have to face Obama, who was basically backed by the press. So Trump decided to do what he is accustomed to doing when presented with a bad deal: again, he walked away.

Remember, these unfavorable environments for a Trump campaign would have required him to step away from his business and let someone else make the decisions – a role he apparently wasn’t willing to relinquish just yet.

But it isn’t just Trump’s theory of walking away from a bad deal that would explain all of his actions. On page 51, he talks about knowing your own market. He states: “I do my own surveys and draw my own conclusions.” Then on page 52 he adds: “The other people I don’t take too seriously are the critics – except when they stand in the way of my projects.”

Based on these statements, it becomes clear that during those elections, he did his own due diligence, and decided those elections weren’t the best environment for him.

In 2015, all of that changed.

In part 2 tomorrow: why 2016 was different.

John Manfreda majored in Pre-Law at Frostburg State University and received his MBA at Trinity University. He has co-authored The Petro Profit report and dividend stock report, and is a former Bullion Broker. He has been featured in Forbes, the Edmund Burke Institute, The Money Show, the Examiner, and the Smart Money investor. This piece was originally written during the early primary season and predicted Trump’s win. It has been updated and revised to reflect the current political environment.

Trump: making America’s energy policy cheaper, faster, and better

Commentary by Marita Noon

Editor’s note: by Marita’s request – and so as not to come in the midst of other upcoming content from her – I’m posting this a day earlier than Marita’s normal Tuesday morning slot.

The name Donald Trump will occupy the news cycle during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Other than comments from oil entrepreneur Harold Hamm, energy won’t be a huge topic on the stage – though it does hold a spot on the newly approved Republican Platform and has a starring role in Trump’s plan to “make America great again.”

Trump calls it “An America First Energy Plan.” In it, he calls for “American energy dominance,” which he sees as a strategic, economic, and foreign policy goal. Like every recent president before him, he seeks “American energy independence” – which he defines as being “independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.” According to his energy adviser, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), this acknowledges that we will still use oil from our friends like Canada and Mexico and that, for example, due to refinery configurations, there will likely continue to be oil imports and exports. The thing to note is that we will not need to, not have to, do business with those who are hostile toward America.

He understands that our amazing American energy resources offer the United States tremendous wealth and economic advantage. In his May 26 speech in North Dakota, addressing untapped oil and gas reserves on federal lands, Trump exclaimed: “We have no idea how rich we are. We want to cherish that wealth.” In comparison, he pointed out that Hillary Clinton wants to lock up “trillions in American wealth” while her “poverty-expansion agenda” enriches her friends and makes everyone else poor. (Be sure to read more about Hillary enriching her friends in my column next week.) In the speech, Trump pointed out to the audience, largely made up of people from the oil and agriculture industries: “If Crooked Hillary can shut down the mines, she can shut down your business, too.”

His America First Energy Plan calls for a redirection of our energy agenda. Overall, Trump will move away from government-central planning efforts and return authority back to the states – an idea that has made it into the Republican Platform. His plan has three main components. Under a Trump administration there will be big changes in climate policy, regulations, and the management of federal lands.

Climate policy

While Trump is known to have called climate change “a hoax,” and has declared that he will not allow “political activists with extreme agendas” to write the rules, he is a true environmentalist. Coming from New York City where the only “nature” is Central Park, he has a heart for the environment. Cramer told me Trump holds a typical “Manhattan view of the West:” clean air, green space, and nature are precious. In his energy speech, Trump announced his environmental policy: “my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water.” A Trump administration “will work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature.”

In his “100-day action plan,” Trump says he’ll rescind the Climate Action Plan – which “gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use.”

[Note: this foreign control over energy use was a key component in the Brexit vote - as I wrote a few weeks ago. Since then, Theresa May, the UK’s new Prime Minister, who last week announced: "I want to see an energy policy that emphasises the reliability of supply and lower costs for users," has scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change and replaced it with a new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. With a President Trump, we can expect similar action.]

Trump has pledged to “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payment of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” He says such policies are evidence of America bending to benefit other nations at a cost to the U.S. Once the “draconian climate rules” are eliminated there is no rationale for imposing a “job-killing cap-and-trade” scheme or to keep extending the subsidies for wind and solar. He is not opposed to wind and solar energy, and in fact, wants to “get bureaucracy out of the way of innovation so we can pursue all forms of energy,” but he doesn’t support the idea of “the government picking winners and losers.” Like other energy sources, once the subsidies expire, the wind and solar industry would benefit from typical business tax deductions and deferments.

Regulations

Trump’s agenda calls for “Regulation reform that eliminates stupid rules that send our jobs overseas.” He knows that “costly regulation makes it harder and harder to turn a profit.”

In his speech, he accused the Environmental Protection Agency of “totalitarian tactics” and pointed out the current enforcement disparity: “The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against seven North Dakota oil companies for the deaths of 28 birds while the Administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than 1 million birds a year.”

Cramer told me we can expect Trump to roll back a lot of Obama’s regulatory overreach and take a different approach toward rules, like the Waters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan, that are currently under a court-ordered stay.

Coal miners have come out en masse for Trump because of his promise to “save the coal industry.” I asked Cramer how Trump planned to do that. He told me that while coal-fueled power plants that have already been shut down or converted to natural gas will not likely be reopened, a Trump administration can save what’s left and stop the bleeding by not artificially punishing the industry through regulation.

On July 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2017 Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. It provides an example of actions we can expect from a President Trump. Cramer says if this bill were to make it to Trump’s desk, he would sign it. Some of the bill’s provisions include:

  • Prohibiting the EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants,
  • Prohibiting harmful changes to the “stream buffer rule” or making changes to the definition of “fill material” negatively impacting coal-mining operations, and
  • Requiring a report on the backlog of mining permits awaiting approval.

Additionally, the bill cuts funding for regulatory agencies – “a decrease of $64 million from last year’s budget and $1 billion below the President’s request.”

While the Obama Administration has issued near fatal regulations on the coal industry (which Hillary would take even further), other countries are using more coal. On July 11, the Financial Times announced that prices for coal surged on increasing demand in China.

In short, Trump explained: “Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.”

Federal Lands

In his speech, Trump reminded people that President Obama has halted leasing for new coal mines on federal lands and aggressively blocked the production of oil and natural gas by closing down leases and putting reserves off limits. He pointed out that these resources are an American treasure and that the American people are entitled to share in the riches.

One of the ways Americans will benefit from the riches of our natural resources is through a designated fund that, much like many natural resource states already do, will put a portion of the revenues directly into rebuilding roads, schools, and public infrastructure.

As a part of his 100-day action plan, Trump has promised to “lift moratoriums on energy production on federal areas.” Instead of slow-walking permits or being passive-aggressive with the permitting process, he’ll order agencies to expedite exploration, drilling, and mining permits.

Trump has said he intends to “trust local officials and local residents.” This idea will be played out in his approach to the management of federal lands – which Cramer explained will be more of a state and federal partnership where states will have a much greater say regarding their land use. This includes the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. In a blow to the Obama administration’s overreach, a federal court recently affirmed that the regulation of the technology is the jurisdiction of the states – not the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

We’ll see this same philosophy played out in the designation of national monuments – something the Obama administration has abused by turning the ability to designate national monuments into a land grab. His monument designations often prevent productive use of the federal lands – such as agriculture or mineral extraction. The GOP platform committee adopted language that empowers states to retain control over lands within their borders. New monuments will “require the approval of the state where the national monument is designated or the national park is proposed.” As a result, Cramer told me: “We will not see a lot of new federal lands.”

There are two additional important energy items to note. First, Trump would “ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone pipeline” – which would be built by American workers. Second, Trump has long been a supporter of nuclear power.

Trump’s energy plan is a turn toward realism. It is based on the fact that our American energy abundance can allow for shared prosperity, better schools, more funding for infrastructure, higher wages, and lower unemployment. Isn’t that what making America great again is all about?

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy - which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

The case against Trump (part 2)

Since I finished part 1 last week, we’ve had a lot of developments in the race: Trump picked outgoing Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate (or did he actually make the selection?) and came up with an awful logo (that lasted one day) to celebrate. Meanwhile, the RNC apparently succeeded in binding their delegates to this dog of a ticket. (My question: how did our Maryland Rules Committee members vote? I believe Nicolee Ambrose, who has fought in that committee before, voted the proper way and against the RNC/Trump minions. Yes, they are shamefully now one and the same.)

Update: Indeed, both Maryland members voted properly, and Nicolee Ambrose is urging members to reject the Majority Rules Report.

So the question may be moot, but I’m going to press on for the record so I can point back at this and say “I told you so.” Not that it will do a whole lot of good, of course, but maybe people will listen to reason in the future. It’s worth a try.

Just as a refresher, the five issues I have left over are taxation, immigration, foreign policy, entitlements, and role of government.

Trump came up with a decent taxation plan during the campaign – maybe not all that I would want, but an improvement. But he later admitted that all of it was up for negotiation, so let me clarify: the rates will not go down for many taxpayers, but the increases that made the package “revenue neutral” in his words will remain. Those on the low end of the scale may get the “I win!” form but the rest of us in the middle will lose, again.

I’m tempted to save immigration for last because that was the first important issue for Trump and the one that propelled him from celebrity sideshow to true contender. Americans, indeed, want something done about the influx of foreigners and a large part of that is building a wall at the border. But it’s not my most important issue and I still run this blog, so it goes in order.

The first crack in the Trump immigration façade for me was the idea of building a “big, beautiful door” in the wall to promote legal immigration. Then I found out Donald was an advocate of what’s called “touchback” immigration, which is a fancy way of saying he’ll give amnesty. And I can see it already: in a “grand deal” to get the wall built, Trump will eliminate the “touchback” part – because it’s oh so hard for these immigrants to be uprooted and return to their homeland – for the promise that a wall will get built. News flash: we were promised this in 2006, but the Democrats (along with a few squishy Republicans) reneged on the deal. We see how Congress acts, and regardless of what Trump may say this is not a promise he would keep. Bank on it.

I know Trump did a sort of catch-all address on foreign policy some months back, but his criticism of the Iraq war (and accusations about soldiers therein) gives me pause. That’s not to say we are always right, but there is a little bit of hindsight he’s taking advantage of here. If Iraq were a thriving nation and American bulwark in the Middle East such as Israel is, I seriously doubt Trump would say word one about it being a bad idea. That’s the sort of person I take him to be.

It’s very possible to lump both entitlements and the role of government into one statement, reportedly made by Trump in New Hampshire back in 2015 and relayed by Andrew Kirell at Mediaite:

The Affordable Care Act, “which is a disaster,” he said, “has to be repealed and replaced.” That line drew applause.

“Whether it is we are going to cut Social Security, because that’s what they are saying,” he continued. “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.”

So will it be fair when the train goes off the tracks and millions of younger Americans are left with nothing? Trump is 70 years old, so (as if he really needed it) if Social Security runs out in 2030 he’ll likely be dead anyway. But I will be 66 years old and hoping to retire at some point, although thanks to the Ponzi scheme of Social Security all that money my employers and I grudgingly gave to the government over forty-plus years will long since be pissed away. And the more I deal with the “Affordable” Care Act, the less affordable I find it. The repeal is fine, but the replace should be with the old system we liked, not some new government intrusion.

In sum, it became apparent to me early on that despite his appeal as an outsider, Donald Trump is far from an advocate of limiting government. If he should win in November, conservative Republicans will likely be in the same precarious position they were often placed in by George W. Bush: it’s difficult to go against a president in your own party even if he goes against party principles.

The Republican Party I signed onto back in 1982 when I first registered to vote in Fulton Township, Ohio was ably represented by Ronald Reagan at the time: strong defense, lower taxes for all Americans, and a moral clarity of purpose that included the concept of American exceptionalism. Yet Reagan also intended to limit government; unfortunately he wasn’t as successful in that aspect because he always worked with a Democrat-controlled House (and usually Senate.) I often wish that Reagan could have worked with the early Gingrich-led House and a conservative Senate – we may have beat back a half-century of New Deal and Great Society policies to provide a great deal for all Americans who wished to pursue the opportunities provided to them.

I don’t know how we got Donald Trump as our nominee, although I suspect the early open primaries (and $2 billion in free media) may have helped. Democrats may have put together their own successful “Operation Chaos” to give Republicans the weakest possible contender. (And if you think that’s a recent concept, I have a confession to make: in my first Presidential primary in 1984 I requested a Democrat ballot so I could vote for Jesse Jackson, who I perceived as the Democrat least likely to beat Ronald Reagan in the general election. Not that I needed to worry.) It’s worth noting that the defeat of “Free the Delegates” also resulted in the defeat of some measures designed to reduce the impact of open primaries.

Alas, the GOP may be stuck with Trump as the nominee. So my message for the national Republican Party from here on out is simple: you broke it, you bought it. The mess is on you and I’m washing my hands of it.

Programming note: Over the next four days – in addition to her regular Tuesday column – I will run a special four-part series sent to me by Marita Noon, but originally written by John Manfreda, who normally writes on the energy sector like Marita does. She ”spent most of the day (last Thursday) updating it, reworking it, and cleaning it up,” so I decided to run it as the four parts intended during the Republican convention.

I intend it as a cautionary tale, so conservatives aren’t fooled by a smooth-talking charlatan ever again. Don’t worry, I have a couple things I’m working on too so I may pop in this week from time to time if I feel so inclined. But I trust Marita and this seems quite relevant and enjoyable, so look for it over the next four afternoons…probably set them to run at noontime (how appropriate, right?)

Shorebird of the Week – July 14, 2016

July 14, 2016 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comment 

After throwing six innings of one-hit ball at Hagerstown on July 2, you would have thought the Suns could adjust to Ofelky Peralta when they faced him again just six days later on the Shorebirds’ home field. Instead, they became a note in history as Peralta threw a five-inning no-hitter against them in a rain-shortened 5-0 win. It was the third no-no in the Shorebirds’ 21-season run but the second in less than a calendar year – my 2015 SotY John Means threw a seven-inning gem last July 31.

In just looking at his stat line, though, you would think Peralta an odd choice to advance to Delmarva so quickly. Signed as a 16-year old from the Dominican Republic, in his two pro seasons (one in the Dominican Summer League, the other in the Gulf Coast League) Peralta was a combined 0-6 with a 4.04 ERA in 69 pro innings (21 appearances/20 starts.) While he had struck out 64 in that span, he had walked an alarming 56 batters, giving him a 1.51 WHIP overall. (As a comparison, league average is about 1.3 and elite pitchers squeeze the number under 1 on a consistent basis.) And with the Shorebirds, that issue has improved but not completely gone away: 42 free passes in 75 2/3 innings is still rather high but the improvement has brought his WHIP down to 1.36 this season.

But Ofelky has also been able to elude bats over his career, with his last two starts a prime example. In his 144 2/3 career innings, Peralta has allowed only 109 hits so batters are having a tough time squaring him up. That may be the reason he made the jump over Aberdeen, advanced to a full-season league where there have been only 12 plate appearances by batters younger than he (compared to 306 for older players), and was considered Baltimore’s #14 prospect. If you read between the lines of milb.com’s account of the no-hitter, it’s apparent that Peralta just has to work on the maturity to harness the talent – or as manager Ryan Minor put it, slowing down the game for him. Despite the last two great performances, he is still just 5-4 with a 3.45 ERA for the season here.

Because Peralta has been working with the Shorebirds’ staff so closely this year, he may not be advanced to Frederick as quickly as other prospects would be. Oftentimes there is an innings limit placed on younger prospects working their first full season, so the development may be better for Ofelky to stay here rather than get at most 10 starts at the next level. He’s a better candidate to make a mid-season jump between Frederick and Bowie next year than be advanced this season.

So the test of his maturity will be over the next couple starts: he faces the Columbia Fireflies on the road tonight (a team he hasn’t pitched against, as we only see them once this season) then his turn would next fall at home against Hickory. The Crawdads beat Peralta up on June 19, a game he allowed six runs and ten hits in 4 2/3 innings. Ofelky didn’t have to adjust much in beating the Hagerstown Suns, but these two starts will help define his season as it moves on.

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  • The Road to 2016

    President:

    Donald Trump (R)

    Gary Johnson (L)

    Hillary Clinton (D)

    U.S. Senate - Maryland

    Kathy Szeliga (R)
    Arvin Vohra (L)
    Chris Van Hollen (D)
    Margaret Flowers (Green)

    U.S. Congress - Maryland District 1

    Andy Harris (R - incumbent)
    Matt Beers (L)
    Joe Werner (D)

    ---------

    Delaware State Primary Election will be September 13.

    Governor

    Republican

    Colin Bonini
    Lacey Lafferty

    Libertarian

    Sean Goward

    Democrat

    John Carney

    Lieutenant Governor

    Republican

    La Mar Gunn

    Democrat

    Sherry Dorsey Walker
    Brad Eaby
    Greg Fuller
    Bethany Hall-Long
    Kathy McGuiness
    Ciro Poppiti

    U.S. Congress - Delaware

    Republican

    Hans Reigle

    Libertarian

    Scott Gesty

    Democrat

    Sean Barney
    Mike Miller
    Lisa Blunt Rochester
    Bryan Townsend
    Scott Walker
    Elias Weir

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