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Left And Right - Quit Miscasting President Obama At Your Peril

by John Jazwiec

(I know it has been over a month since I last posted. Frankly, besides a tremendous workload in my day-job, I can't keep up with Trump's daily reality show, the lack of gun reform leadership, the stock market being overvalued and the danger of deficits to fund people that can't positively effect an economy who's GNP is 70% based on middle to lower class consumption. Tariffs? Not a zero-sum game. Even a Economics 101 student understands the multiplication of money and trade. Tariffs along with the resulting inflation, will both drive deficits higher and drive interest rates higher to attract investors to buy our debt ).

What bothers me is the miscasting of President Obama not just from the right, but also the left. So I am going to try and provide some some facts along a broader spectrum.

Obama the politician. Guess who was the last northern Democrat to win more than one term before Obama? Answer - FDR. Clinton won twice as a southern Democrat and Carter won once as the same. Ditto for LBJ and Truman. Except - to LBJ's credit on civil rights - his Democratic successors have had to give up the deeper South. Which makes Obama's electoral mandate even more striking

Obama the Reagan naive optimist. Despite the tribalism of the two parties, Reagan and Obama saw an innate goodness of America. Despite the obstructionist elements they faced every day, they nonetheless saw America as an exceptional country.

Both were pragmatists with Obama calmly taking on the immanent collapse of the US economy. Obama staffed his first term with Tim Geithner (NY Fed Chairman as Secretary of the Treasury) and Robert Gates - a Republican - as Secretary of the Defense. Obama, instead of demand side stimulus - enacted a $700 trillion mix of spending and tax cuts. Under great pressure from the left - understanding how banking really works - he didn't tear down the banks and their pay/talent pool.Obama promised the people to disengage from two wars and enact health insurance reform. Finally, his landmark HCRA, was lifted from the 1994 GOP plan, instead of swinging for the fences on a socialist universal health care insurance. 

Obama didn't understand the GOP threat to his presidency. He couldn't have predicted, that days after his inaugural, the entire GOP plan was to vote no on everything to minimize his presidency. Having said that, he was reelected with a healthy electoral majority. 

The US Republic requires the US president to be both head of state and chief of the executive branch. As the head of state, like the differences of England's PM and Queen, Obama was respected by our allies for his continuity to American values. 

The earliest 45 best presidents since Obama left office. No president in history - with such little time for historians to evaluate his performance - has entered the rankings as the 12th best president like Obama. Trump? 45th best.

Perhaps to a fault, the Obama presidency was no-drama with Obama driving the car less than the speed limit with two hands of the wheel. Now all we have is drama with a president recklessly driving the car.

Finally, there were no scandals in the Obama presidency. 

My right-wing friends have no reason to not demonize Obama. That's what they do.

But I am a centrist. So when I see the left bending towards socialism - as a response to Trump's Kleptocracy - they are making a huge mistake. They have may not have learned that a left-center presidential candidate is the only way to defeat Trump. 

There is a reason that Obama was elected twice - that seemingly has been "lost" by the last election. His coalition is only getting younger. It hasn't disappeared. He popularity amongst the voters is 20 points higher than Trump. The only reason he lost the coalition wasn't Trump. He lost it by a mistaken calculation that the American people - who want change - nominated a listless candidate who lacked any thing concrete along with the vestiges of a Clinton White House with a past for disdainful ghosts in her family dynamic. 

In short, 40 years of a widening income gap and the eroding of the middle class, has left the US with two dangers: The empty promises of a far-right president or the promises and irresponsible promises of the far-left. 

Tomorrow we will find out whether a center-right Democrat can make an impact in a Pennsylvania House district that voted for Trump by a healthy 20 points. Conner Lamb - the Democrat center-right candidate - is the best way for the Democrats to regain their momentum by running to the center.

The critical question, is will the Democrats pay attention to the Conner Lambs of Pennsylvania and the Doug Jones of Alabama? Will they take their cues and model themselves as a Obama centrist? Or we they attempt a reactionary jump to the far-left policies of Bernie Sander?

As to my right wing friends, assuming the Democrats continue to attract young - men and women - with centrist positions - given changing attitudes amongst new voters - just how long can they make and enable far-right thinking and expect to win elections in the longterm?

All of this gets us back to whether the left and right will continue to wrongfully miscast President Obama's presidency. 

Stock Market - Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

by John Jazwiec

January 12, 2018


Finally, the stock market is entering a dangerous zone.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 9.43.20 AM

The Shiller P-E ratio - that takes into consideration inflation and a 10-year moving average - has a mean of 16. Today that ratio is double the mean. This is the second time the Shiller P-E ratio has topped the 1929 Black Tuesday ratio. The stock market is in dangerous territory. 

The Real Russian Story

by John Jazwiec

I will leave it to others smarter than me to ascertain the reasons for releasing a memo to discredit the FBI's methods to convince a FISA judge to monitor Carter Page that began in 2013.

But this is what I know and is not being widely-reported within each day's news cycle: The Senate by a vote of 98-2 approved new sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. The president - knowing his veto would be overruled by the Senate - signed off on the new sanctions.

The president decided not to implement the sanctions. Claiming the legislation, in itself, was a deterrent.

This despite the widely held claim - Susan Collins included (“We know the Russians have not given up on their disinformation campaign and their attempt to sow discord in this country, and also to undermine faith in democratic institutions") - that they will do so again in 2018.

Was Trump's Silence Last Weekend Deafening

by John Jazwiec

Watching Congress, over the weekend, shutting down the government was both dysfunctional and entertaining. Also, as predicted, the Democratic Party brought a megaphone to a gunfight. I can't even use a "knife" or "fist" metaphor - that gives them way to much credit.

A lot of people thought that Harry Reid was just a nice old man when he was the Democratic Senate leader. He wasn't. I could spout all the books I have read that showed how tough he really was behind the scenes. But note this: Reid was an amateur boxer. Chuck Schumer? What's has he been noted for? He likes the camera. Now we know he is an ineffective strategist and a week negotiator. 

But the weirdest part this weekend's national reality show, was Trump's silence and an absence of gloating about the deal. His silence was explained as a tacit agreement with GOP leaders to get out of the way. That seems to defy credibility. Trump doesn't take well to anyone who tries to box him in. Regardless, why no braggadocious victory lap?

Could it have something to do with the fact that Jeff Sessions was interviewed by Mueller's team last Wednesday? Could it have something to do with - as reported by the Washington Post - that Mueller wants to interview Trump soon?

I admit I am on the "grassy knoll" and I am likely wrong.

But that doesn't explain Trump's un-Trump-like behavior over the weekend.

Democrats Are Making A Big Mistake

by John Jazwiec

A Democratic vote, it seems now, isn't an idealogical vote. Rather it is a protest vote against Trump and his anti-minority positions - January 17, 2018

Although DACA is a fight worth fighting for - despite Democratic and talking-heads saying a government shutdown will be blamed on the Republicans - this all presumes that Democrats can successfully mount a publicity attack on Republicans.

But Democrats don't fight as well as Republicans. They may be on the right side of history and the people's wishes (DACA has a staggering 87% support amongst the voters according to CBS polling), but they are more than likely to be blamed for a government shutdown.

Despite some GOP senators saying they will not vote for another CR (Continuing Resolution), expect that to change. There will be 50 GOP senators able to vote on the CR. They will all vote to support. Leaving it up to 40 of 49 (John McCain isn't voting and because there is likely to be no tie, Mike Pence will not be voting) Democrats to vote the CR down within the 60 vote filibuster rule. 

As I said before, the Democratic party is nothing more than a Trump protest vote. So the Democrats would be wise to not put themselves in a possible/probable position of carrying the blame of a government shutdown so close to the 2018 mid-terms. 

If a Lindsey Graham decides to vote against the CR ... than go ahead and vote against it. But assuming Graham goes with party over country ... the Democrats have to find more than 9 votes to make the CR pass.

The anti-Trump multi-party crowd doesn't want to hear the likes of a Bernie Sanders lecturing to them. Ditto Schumer and Pelosi. 

So bite the bullet. Vote for the CR. Negotiate on DACA during the February debt ceiling/full fiscal year vote. And just keep the party out of the news until this November.

Losing the battle, with a weak but viable alternative to Trump, will help them and the 60% of us to win the war. 

From Reince Priebus To Now

by John Jazwiec

After the 2012 election, RNC chair Reince Priebus did an autopsy of the Republican party, and determined that the party had to reach out to minority voters. It was both a tactical and strategic calculation. 

Obviously through Trump, but mostly HRC, on a tactical level, his autopsy was disregarded and maligned. 

But his minority outreach strategy on a strategic level was sound. The nation's demographics - even if we shut down minority immigration - requires GOP minority voters to sustain the party of Lincoln. And it's not just minorities, in themselves, that threaten a non-minority-focused GOP. It's the real danger of changing  demographics in which millennials are more likely to empathize with minorities. Or said another way, they will not accept a country that is not like themselves: comfortable with minority friends. 

Right now the GOP seems to be stuck at the tactical level and going backwards on the strategic level. By their silence on Trump's racist remarks they seem to have decided to give up on the minority voter.

If you thought Roy Moore and Alabama was an anomaly, note Democrat Patty Schachtner scored a 9-point victory in a special election in Wisconsin's State Senate District 10 last night, flipping a district that had been held by the GOP since 2000 and that President Trump won by 17 points in 2016. The district is a rural district. 

Make no mistake about it, the Democratic party isn't as strong as the GOP. Which makes the troubling signs for the GOP in 2018 - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called last night's race a wake up call - even more ominous.

A Democratic vote, it seems now, isn't an idealogical vote. Rather it is a protest vote against Trump and his anti-minority positions. 

There is almost certainly going to be a day of reckoning coming. The GOP has to enlarge its tent. When is a question. If is not.

A Decision To Write Again

by John Jazwiec

It has been almost two months since my last post. I felt, in the daily reality show that has become Trump, I couldn't keep up. Nonetheless and perhaps due to being reenergized from a hiatus, I have decided to write again. The following are some points, that bridge the past two months to today.

Trump's economic populism - the empty promises to downtrodden Americans, have given way to a more standard Republican driven economic policy of helping the wealthy and paying lip service to the average worker. Our nation's economic populist president is planning on attending Davos? Having read the new book "Fire and Fury" - with all its flaws, did illuminate what drives Trump: himself, daily instant gratification and a life-long frustration of not being an accepted member of the economic elite. The issue for me is less the mental state of Trump, although I am concerned. It is more the state of his hypocrisy and preying on people to vote for him, because they were, are and will be economically fragile. 

I could have picked any day to reenforce that Trump seems to be a racist playing to his "base". But his comment that "brown countries" are "sh*t holes, maybe the the most harmful verbal threat to American values, amongst his other American value dilutions, during his first year in office. And racism isn't the only harmful attack on America. So is his disdain for the constitution and American institutions. He is degrading the US Justice department. He consistently has attacked the nation's fourth estate. He continues to attack the American court system, which by the nature of his oath of office, he is supposed to defend. He lies habitually, including saying he didn't say "sh*t holes a day later. Finally, his crude comments and tweets, has taken a toll on parents trying to raise their children from the darker forces of expression. 

Trump is tearing up people's hearts. Here is a short video of an anchor reporting Trump's vulgar comments of racism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5CpPA3ywxg. I think what made it even more emotional, was the fact that the inspiring tweet came from Bill Kristol, a neocon conservative, who may be far right of center, but nonetheless shares what we all think are nonpartisan universal values. Here is the importance. I have seen the same kind of emotion from many people who are scared and offended by Trump. He is tearing people up and tearing up their hearts.

Collusion/obstruction of justice vs. following the money. The latter gets all the ink. The former is mostly on the news back burner. Note that Mueller's first hires were experts in money laundering. Some Trump condos have seen a 70% increase in LLC buying since being elected. Some LLCs might be just American's hiding the fact that they have bought Trump real estate. But some maybe foreign nationals. And they use cash. Mueller knows collusion and obstruction of justice - which have to clear the high bar on intent - is not worth his investigation if that's all he has. But by following the money, he maybe able to prove where Trump gets his money. And if it is from money laundering, that's not only more significant, but also could show why there appears to be collusion and obstruction of justice. 

Finally, the stock market is entering a dangerous zone.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 9.43.20 AM

The Shiller P-E ratio - that takes into consideration inflation and a 10-year moving average - has a mean of 16. Today that ratio is double the mean. This is the second time the Shiller P-E ratio has topped the 1929 Black Tuesday ratio. The stock market is in dangerous territory. 

Thoughts On The GOP's Tax "Reform"

by John Jazwiec

Polls show that about 70% of Americans don't support the House and Senate's plans for tax "reform". 

Economic impacts of the GOP's plans besides the obvious benefits to the wealthy - 

The housing market is going to get crushed. Just as the housing market is returning to 2008 levels, capping mortgage interest deductions by definition will deflate home prices. When contemplating a home purchase, or qualifying a for a home loan, the tax deduction is a net add to cash flow to offset the net cost of the mortgage. The cap will mostly effect suburban housing. Which is a key GOP battleground. 

Putting aside eliminating deductions for state taxes, caps on property taxes are going to negatively effect public education. Home ownership and home prices, are how public education is funded. Reducing the tax deduction of mortgage interest and property taxes means either less money to public schools and/or higher property taxes. The latter is an equation for economic contraction. Furthermore, consider people like myself, who have sent their children to private schools (Catholic). These tax changes means that private school consumers - who already are effectively subsidizing public schools - will not be able to afford to do so. That compounds the economic problem for public schools. New public schools will have to be built to support more students. That is a big local capital bad surprise. In turn, that will almost assuredly mean a big jump in property taxes. Another huge negative effect to the key battleground of the suburbs for the GOP. 

So why is the GOP doing this?

It's not about proving to voters they can get something done.

It is a calculated kamikaze dive for the benefit of their donors/emperors. 

Here are the political facts. GOP lawmakers face two problems. One is anti-Trump anger and the movement of Democrats to vote against Republicans in 2018 in greater forces than normal. The other is Bannon, who wants to replace GOP lawmakers with ... whatever crazy people want .. like Roy Moore. 

So, many already feel dead politically. By passing a draconian tax "reform" - which will be deeply unpopular - it nonetheless will stick for at least three more years. Even a Democratic majority can't reverse it, because Trump will still be president and will veto it. Even on the rare chance Trump is impeached, all succession planning means a GOP veto. 

So, unless the reader is a selfish zillionare, the risks of this tax plan (a) being enacted, (b) you being negatively effected, and (c) the economics of your community and the greater economy being upended, have unfortunately increased, due to political undercurrents brought on by Trump and Bannon.

The Upward Bend Of History, Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump

by John Jazwiec

On a tactical basis, this country often takes a step backwards, but strategically always takes two steps forward. In perfecting a more perfect union - while we will never be perfect - we do continue to make progress.

There has been a raging debate on why Trump won in 2016. More ink has been spent on why Trump won at the expense of why Hillary Clinton lost. 

Yesterday in Virginia - from the governor's race to the state assembly - Democrats won because Trump was on the ballot. A transgender won in Robert E. Lee's country. In Maine, voters voted for Medicare expansion. In Pennsylvania, the Delaware County Democrats out-polled Republicans in a County Council election for the first time in history.

Trump didn't win in 2016. Clinton lost. Yesterday Trump lost. He lost because of the anger of the "forgotten" 60%. He lost because he has infected the GOP by a 40% trap. 

Now the GOP is at a crossroads. Trying to end Obamacare is a political loser. Now pressured to "do something", tax "reform" - in which the wealthy get the benefit and the not-wealthy don't - would be the nail in the coffin. 

Look for more GOP retirements. Look for more tax reform foot dragging or dissension on aspects of the bill. Look for the Bannon/Trump movement colliding with the GOP establishment. Look for the Democratic party to recruit candidates than can win by appealing to the 60%. Look for women, minorities, LGBTs and the economically disenfranchised to turn the vote out.

Because while 2016 was a big misread of the appeal of Trump-ism, 2017 and 2018 is and will be a big repudiation of the guy that beat Clinton and the beginning of taking two steps forward.

A Country Divided By The Middle Of Mazlow

by John Jazwiec

Image result for maslow's hierarchy of needs

I am by nature not transactional. My profession requires me to look at the larger picture to explain human behavior.

I have been giving a lot of thought to the current divides within this country.

"Maslow's hierarchy of needs" is a theory in psychology proposed and published by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”.

By and large, the West and the US, has evolved and takes for granted that our physiological needs are met. So too, are we safe and that allows us to find love and a sense of belonging to family and tribe. 

The same couldn't have been said during World War II through the Cold War. According to Maslow we were stuck on safety. Such large scale safety threats ironically bound us all together.

But by the end of the Cold War - some quarter of a decade ago - to the present day, we have become balkanized by the Maslow fault line of self-esteem. 

Too many of us lack self esteem, while too few of us focus on our cognitive needs, aesthetic needs and self-actualization. 

This is why both sides have difficulty understanding each other. 

The group that lacks self esteem - from economic and social disenfranchisement in a rapidly changing world, who increasingly turn to alcohol and opiates - cling to the what they do have: a sense of belonging. Affiliation and political tribalism isn't just a means to itself, but a strong bond that is required for survival.

Self actualized people simply have a hard time understanding this group. They wonder why they are not more mentally curious. They wonder why they only get their news from social media from their tribe. They wonder why others are not focused on the nuance of higher literature and art. They wonder why this other group doesn't seem to care about anyone but themselves. 

It seems to me that Maslow's theory rather nicely explains the divides within this country. It explains in some part why people are drawn to messianic figures like religion and Trump. It explains why we all don't share the same views from current events. And most importantly, it explains why we just don't understand each other. 

Finally, it explains what the right answer is to the problem. Our divides can't be eliminated until we address the self esteem fault line - not by generalities - but by real programs that allow all of us to gain self-esteem. And that means real programs to lift people economically, through eliminating their taxes which gives rise to wages and socially, through addressing their substance abuse. 

The US government is trying to come up with the right kind of budget and taxation system. I can say, with a great deal of certainty, that any new taxation system that doesn't address stagnant wages and doesn't address substance abuse - as if it were fighting a new "war" - simply will just make the problem larger.

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From athletic scholar and satirist to computer programmer to CEO success, John Jazwiec brings a unique and often eccentric perspective to business and supply chain challenges. Exploring how they can be solved through the leadership and communication insights found in untraditional sources. This CEO blog demonstrates how business insights from books on history to the music of Linkin Park can help challenge and redefine “successful leadership.” Read Jazwiec’s Profile >>

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