Category Archives: Politics

Aghast At Trump

My sister and I today speculated over the degree of contempt our mother would have expressed had she been alive to witness the news today of despicable behavior apparently conducted by one candidate for the presidency of the United States, Donald Trump. Our mother would have espoused that character matters in a world leader. This person would need to represent the values of the people of whom he or she would hope to lead. This person would need to possess maturity, grace, and thoughtfulness toward all ethnicities while appreciating each other’s individual differences. This person would be positive and attuned to the basic aspirations of goodness driving humanity. This person would be articulate, reciprocal, and strong with ideals compatible with shaping the common good while not interfering with one’s quest for liberty. Our mother would have expected a political campaign to be infused with conceptually intriguing debate tempting her to stretch her own boundaries of belief on public policy matters. She would have imbibed intangible “between the lines” candidate remarks and telling body language. Her attentiveness would have been keen with a perception that her children’s lives north of the border could be affected by policy produced by the U.S.A. She would have been onto him at word one.

Although hardly immune from humanity’s dark side having taught school while raising six kids, I’m frankly grateful that her life was not tainted by exposure to displays of indecency by one, Donald Trump, candidate for U.S. President.

To Gavel Or Not To Gavel

Oh, you neither knew this was a verb.  It’s interesting how particular words take on verb form when a subject is overly introverted and obsessed by an operating environment.  Here we have outright bias exercised by the ex-chair of the Democratic National Committee and then residual bumbling discussion still ensues whether she should gavel or not gavel and speak or not speak at this week’s convention.  In business and in life there are consequences to our behavior.  Particular forums leave no room for second chances when the public’s trust is at stake.  If you malign your behavior when bestowed a position of authority, it becomes apparent that your character is unfit for the office and hence you must seek work elsewhere.  Somebody may give you a second chance and in fact the lesson could very well be learned and demonstrated in ones new role.  A character can be rehabilitated.  It really is this simple but when a process of rationalization muddies the scene and contextual actors acquiesce to excuses, pandering or self righteous demands of entitlement, then the ethics of a whole organization come under question.

Latest Scoop from DNC

The Democratic convention ratings are bound to tick up in lieu of today’s Wiki Leaks divulgence. Although Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be stepping down as DNC chair due to alleged favoritism exercised during the nomination process, apparently as reported by CNN today Hillary Clinton will award her as an “honorary chairwoman with a 50 state program to build the party in every part of the country”.  I know you’ve never been cynical about politics? One would think that Mrs. Clinton would at least wait a day before announcing such a reward for Wasserman Shultz’s behavior in the context of her portrayal by the FBI:

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Suddenly, Trump’s projection for picking up Bernie Sanders supporters is not looking so far-fetched.

Nigel Wright Culpable?

Is Nigel Wright culpable? In one word and in my opinion, yes.  Our courts are now investigating this tawdry affair of cover up perpetrated from the office of our Prime Minister.  Nigel Wright knew what he was doing and he is apparently a man of intellect having earned large sums of money in the private sector as a business man.  He attempted to make a bad situation go away by paying back money to our government on behalf of a government colleague.  Had Mr. Wright not been aware why this debt of a colleague had arisen, and a personal loan was made to colleague, Mike Duffy, then there would be no culpability for breach of trust.  Had there been full disclosure to the auditor general with respect to the repayment of funds via predetermined protocol given the circumstance along with a statement from Mr. Duffy that he had a misunderstanding of travel expense allowances, us taxpayers through the courts may not have been dragged into this legal affair.  Instead it was ego and naivety on full display.  Ego with respect to fellow politicians wanting to castigate Duffy for their own sense of inflated righteousness and Mr. Wright’s naivety for an earnest desire to help but from a place of paternalism thinking that us Canadians need not to have known that something unbecoming of our institution was unfolding.  Somebody should have been approving these expense accounts before payment.  It will be interesting to see if there were breached internal controls at work and why?  Sanctions for Wright?  My impression of him is that he had good intentions and my sense is that he became disoriented from good judgment due to variables that may have been operating inside the Prime Ministers office.

McCain Unnerves Trump

Neither Trump nor McCain have apparently read chapter two of “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.  Hurling insults is always cause for grief.  Having followed American politics for some time, I can espouse with confidence that John McCain loves hearing himself speak almost as much as Trump.  In McCain’s zeal to cast condemnation on Trump over Trump’s bizarre presentation of the illegal immigration issue, he himself has emblazoned a target on his chest as do all soldiers when they step up to the front line of battle.  Had McCain less frequently made reference to his military service while addressing the senate on matters of national security, and less frequently made appearances on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, perhaps Trump’s sarcasm would have been muted.  I underscore, “perhaps” because the handlers are obviously of the opinion that allowing him to free wheel at the mic have been serving polls well to date.

Rick Perry has tweeted that, Trump in this latest suggestion that a captured McCain is not a war hero amount to Trump being unfit as a candidate for the presidency.  You can guarantee that the Trump campaign will be firing back that Perry is unfit given his big brain freeze during debating for the candidacy during the last presidential run at which time Perry excused himself given a prescription medicine regime.

I have never been so entertained while watching folks debase themselves of intelligence while running for the highest office in the land.  Apparently much of Trump’s appeal has arisen due to use of cut off sentences, interjection, and hyperbole as particularly illustrated by his favourite word “disaster”.

Does Trump have the gall for allocating resources for researching McCain’s military service as means of resurrecting apparent breaches in his own credibility?  Will the term “swiftboating” return as a term bandied by pundits during this latest trek for top spot – this time among Republicans?

Alberta Election Reflections

Everyone is shocked.  I haven’t spoken to one person yet who saw this NDP majority landslide coming.  In retrospect, the passion at the ballot box was a healthy endorsement of democracy in lieu of climate rife with wasted taxpayer money and untrustworthy politicians.  Many would purport the ruling Progressive Conservatives as elitist and out of touch.  Even the sudden exit of Jim Prentice after having won his seat had a scent of arrogance while he shunned his constituents and superimposed a semblance of family responsibility to cover for his great escape in a debacle partly of his making.  The old boys club is no more.  The halls of power in parliament have shifted and for the sake of our economy dominated by the oil and gas sector, we hope that calm words from Rachel Notley translate into rational policy.

NDP administrations in other Canadian Provinces have had difficulty hosting an economic climate of vigor through words and deeds which business leaders had come to believe as threatening to progress.  Business equals risk and risk deploys capital.  Capital seeks homes where returns are reasonable and regulatory hurdles are in line with good common sense.  All stakeholders are provided due care.

Trouble arises when irrational sentiment blurs the common good. Cause and purpose can be superseded  by competing interests lost in the internal dynamics of an operating environment. Fearful that followers will lose faith if concessions are undertaken for the betterment of sound policy, leaders become distracted by whispering chatter of intransigent discontents.

Alberta is embarking upon an experiment of inexperienced politicians whom first must become versed in parliamentary procedure.  They’ll come to learn the nuances of drafting legislation that will impact the lives of a constituency.  Time will tell if they possess the capacity to be balanced, open, and sensible.

Alberta Budget Attempt At Salvation

Do you remember Premier Stelmach’s old O&G royalty framework that had the well intentioned effect of harnessing more oil royalty revenue for the province’s treasury?  Well, the Calgary old boys club took fast Eddie aside and had him dismantle it.  Combine this with some sweetheart deals for public servants and brutal management of the public purse and you get our current budgetary quagmire.  Rocket science it’s not.  Particular interest groups were well served while average non-resource and non-governmental sector citizens stepped up and paid and paid and paid primarily for a health care system that represents approximately forty-five per cent of the pie.  We are not simpletons Mr Prentice.  We Albertans understand that the top marginal rate in Alberta for combined federal and provincial income tax is 39 per cent and of the federal component we pay, there are transfers back to the province in the amount of $ 5,477,000 (2015-2016) to assist with the operation of our health and social systems.

Had they increased income taxes for those earning less than $100,000, there would have been major political fall-out.  On this count, they get it right today. Frankly, I’m surprised that the percentage increase wasn’t higher.   In regards to sin taxes, certainly the hospitality industry may feel an affect (bigger cover charge coming at the Boudoir Rouge?) somewhat but in the context of the magnitude of the problem, a thumbs up to this measure and one more nudge toward those in search of healthier living.  To the speeders and violators of traffic rules, we look forward to more of your money but I ask, what about the “distracted drivers”.  Certainly we could have hit them with a four-fold increased fine.

I have no problem with an increase in user fees in the context of our problem.  If you are going to take your monster truck into crown lands and expunge our province’s natural beauty, then we can get you to pay for reclamation.  A nerve struck somewhere for certain?   No reclamation bond yet but camper’s fees on the rise at provincial parks.

As for the gas tax, Albertans deserve an increase.  I don’t know how many driver-only occupied luxury loaded four by fours I see bearing down on my bumper nowhere near rush hour in Calgary.  Once they find and opening and scream by, I see their bull balls dangling from the chassis and wonder why they’re taking their toy downtown.   Make ‘em pay.

Although not a simpleton, the ego and brazen ruggedness of the cowboy prevented him from entertaining a sales tax for fear of being chastised by the brother from B.C.

Sales Tax On The Table For Aberta

The problem with a consumption tax is that it discourages spending and it’s distasteful to an electorate which prides itself by being sales tax free .  Implementing a sales tax now would be done amidst a climate of mismanagement operated by the PC government over the past ten years.  Pay raises to the provincial public sector have significantly outpaced private sector pay.  An entitlement culture has permeated the halls of Edmonton’s legislature and the old boys’ club downtown Calgary is starting to feel the pinch with the oil price falling off a cliff.

At one point our old Premier Stelmach attempted to make a course adjustment with his new “royalty framework” which ultimately had the goal of capturing more of the resource revenue for the benefit of the province’s purse.   We know what happened to him and we know what he’s thinking now in the context of the red ink starting to flow from the pens of government accountants and big talk of a new sales tax.

New revenue generating ideas concocted by the Prentice government will all be perpetrated from a position of weakness generated by years of “living for today” and cowering to the demands of public sector unions and oil executives.  Is he now asking for a “mandate” or will he step up and lead the province with some acknowledgment that it’s not the average tax paying Albertan who has created the revenue mess – it’s the policies and mismanagement drummed up by his party.

Washington Gridlock

I’m not really sensing that the Republicans are heeding the election results given the continuing saga of Washington gridlock.  The U.S. is due to raise taxes on 98% of the populous come January 1, 2013 yet the perpetual feet dragging remains.  The scuttle butt on Capitol Hill has everything to do the words of one diplomat on a Sunday talk show instead of a solution to this impending fiscal cliff.  I suggest that these overpaid bickering politicians get off their rusty dusty and start solving the nations financial affairs because as of this day every man, woman and child owes less than friendly nations something in the neighborhood of $55,000 and counting every single day.  Liberals will argue that this is sustainable.  Right wing radicals will complain that the slightest tax increase to those earning over $250,000 per year will be a curse to the trickle down economic theory as espoused by them to be the magic bullet which will ultimately relieve the nation of its fiscal woes.

The political establishment and its cronies which spend too much time giving an ear to corporate lobby groups and too little time drafting simple common sense legislation that works are now in a quandary because the legislative houses are still split down the middle again with too little power granted the President as a tie breaking convener of the people.  It’s ironic that every single U.S. politician I’ve ever witnessed who has commented on the founder’s intention and the mastery of the constitution has basked in the brilliance of the document but here sits a nation in financial peril with much blame assignable  to Washington’s dysfunction at the legislative level.

Could the United States of America go broke?  Is it already broke?  What are the consequences of default?  Is the monetary system as we know it going to collapse? There have been many bright alternative economic prognosticators who have been asking theses questions since the first noticeable uptick in the gold prices.  Now it appears that the mainstream economic think tanks are finally starting to give credit to those who have been beating the drum of fiscal responsibility for years even prior to the Iraq war.

I’m currently reading James Rickard’s Currency Wars.  This fellow had been retained by the CIA to conduct war games given the hypothesis of a destabilizing world monetary system.