2016 Presidential Election – This Is Just Freaking Me Out

P2016Election

The race for the next President of the United States has been going on ad-nauseam for over a year now…and there really is no true candidate that shines through.

At the point I am in my life, at age 58,  I am looking at retirement.  Like many others, I am worried about the constant rising costs of just about everything and wonder if, by the time I do retire in 4 years, will what I have worked so hard for over 25 years be enough to live on and still get enjoyment out of life?

I really don’t proclaim a party affiliation but if I was pressed, I would lean more toward Democratic views than Republican.  It just seems to me, historically, the Republicans get the country into trouble and the Democrats gets the country out of trouble.

I know there have been some great Republican Presidents.  Where would this country have been if not for the vision of Abraham Lincoln?  Or Theodore Roosevelt and the Square Deal which his domestic program of conservation of natural resources, control of corporations and consumer protection?  Or Dwight D. Eisenhower who was responsible for starting NASA when the Soviets launched it’s first satellite into space?  And it was he who first warned America of the dangers of massive military spending, specifically deficit spending and giving military contracts to private military manufacturers?

But as of late, say from the Nixon administration on, there really hasn’t been a Republican President who has not buried the country into debt and cut spending from programs that are designed to help people who need it.  Granted, I would love to have all government subsidy programs be abolished provided that everyone can have a good paying job and stand on their own two feet.  Republicans have been saying that for decades but offer no solution on just how to get those good paying jobs.

Democratic Presidents have had there share of mistakes.  Franklin Pierce’s fervor for expanding the United States was responsible for the start of the Civil War, the darkest days of the United States where brother fought against brother.  Andrew Johnson survived impeachment after opposing the 14th Amendment which defined national citizenship and forbid states to restrict the basic rights of citizens or other persons.

However, I have to point out that for the most part, Democratic Presidents have led this nation out of dark times.  Franklin Roosevelt guided the nation out of the Great Depression.  Harry S. Truman pretty much ended the United States involvement in WWII and told the world that the US is indeed a world power.  John Kennedy gave this country a vision and a desire to do great things.  Bill Clinton, before he left office, gave George W. Bush an $8 billion dollar surplus which was gone by the end of Bush’s first year in office.  And Barrack Obama gave every person a chance to have affordable health care, something the citizens of this country have needed for decades.

And now, we come to the election of the 45th President of The  United States.  And I ask, regardless of which political party gets elected, just where will you take us?

A look at who I feel will be the nominees for each party and three topics to compare their respective platforms:

PTrump

Donald Trump, campaign slogan:  Make America Great Again!

Ah yes, the Donald.  This is the one person that just scares me to death if he gets elected into office.  I was shocked to see that he won the South Carolina primary, I just don’t understand what his appeal is.

Trump has flaunted the fact that he is a successful businessman and knows what the country needs.  Just ask him and he’ll tell you.

Economy

He wants to reform the US-China trade agreement that was established 2000 during the Bill Clinton administration which was supposed to allow better access to China’s markets but doesn’t allow China any new market access.

According to Donald Trump’s website, he wants to reform the trade agreement by declaring China a currency manipulator, forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws, end China’s export subsidies and bolster US Military presence in the China seas.

I’m not sure that I want to piss off China.  I agree that their actions are one-sided in their favor.  But China has always had a long view of things and are very, very patient.  They don’t go for the big chunks, they take a little bit at a time over decades.  But there is no way a quick resolution can be had without some serious repercussions.

Gun Control

He is for enforcing the Right to Bear Arms.  I don’t oppose that myself but I do believe there needs to be restrictions on the types of weapons that can be owned and a much deeper background check for those who wish to purchase them.

I get that the Founding Fathers wanted to give those the right to protect themselves and their families.  But his position on just how to do that is a bit skewed in my opinion.  He wants to focus on the criminals and not the types of weapons.  He admits to having a concealed weapons permit but going after the criminals who break the law is not solving the real issue.

What is the main reason a gun such as the AK-47 sub-machine gun was created for?  To kill a lot of people in a short amount of time.  Why not use a gun that can pump 600 rounds per minute into a body instead of a Glock 19 that can hold 15 rounds.  I mean how dead is dead?

I don’t own a gun and I don’t live in an area that has a high crime rate.  In my 58 years, 30 of them in Detroit and 28 in Seattle and travelling to many other places, I have never been shot at.  Nor have I ever had any reason to feel that I needed to attack someone out of fear of my own life.  I have walked away or found another way than violent tactics.

Immigration

Trump’s views on immigration, which pretty much states that if we get rid of all the illegal immigrants, America will have all those jobs and be great again.  And he is very focused on immigrants coming from Mexico…so much, in fact, he wants a wall built on the Southern border of the United States and he wants Mexico to pay for it.  It galls me to hear his three cores of immigration reform: (My thoughts in italics)

 1.  A nation without borders is not a nation.  There must be a wall across the southern border.  Newsflash Donald:  The real “immigration problem” does not stem from Mexico.  In fact, immigration from Mexico is actually declining with Mexicans returning to their home country.  Since 2008, more immigrants have come from Asia than Latin America.  And they educate themselves in our system and work in our companies with qualifications that exceed our own homegrown citizens.

2.  A nation without laws is not a nation.  Laws must be passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.  We do have laws Mr. Trump.  While many view them to be lax regarding immigration, it’s not like it’s a free-flowing migration.  But, I do agree that the United States faces a difficult task because we don’t have the resources to enforce the laws.  You may want to pass new laws but just how are you going to support the enforcement of them?

3.  A nation that does  not serve its own citizens is not a nation.  Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all AmericansAll well and good.  But those jobs these immigrants have “taken” from Americans aren’t ones that we can really count on to be high-paying gigs.  How many Americans aspire to clean homes for a living?  How many Americans aspire to pick fruit for a living?  And the companies that have these immigrants perform these jobs, do you think they will last long by paying 3 to 4 times the amount in labor costs?

PClinton

Hillary Clinton, campaign slogan:  Hillary for America!

Is the United States ready for a female President?  I think so.  Is Hillary the right woman for the job?  I don’t know and I’m not sure who is.  Heck, at this point, I don’t know if there is one person right for the job right now.

But she is the current front runner for the Democratic party and I think she gets the nod for her foreign policies experience she gained as Secretary of State during Obama’s first term.  Bernie Sanders, while strong in domestic policies, doesn’t have the foreign policy chops needed.

Economy

Her economic platform is based on three growths:  Strong, Fair and Long Term.

Strong Growth has our infrastructure growing, focusing on clean energy, scientific and medical research to create jobs and strengthen the economy.  It will also provide tax relief to working families and small business.  She wants to move forward to a full employment economy that creates jobs, pushes business to compete over workers and raise incomes.

Fair Growth states that inequality is a drag on the economy.  To get incomes rising again, the country’s basic bargain needs to be renewed.  Corporations have near-record profits but the wages are stagnant with the deck stacked against working Americans.  She wants corporations to share with the workers their near-record profits.  Her plan includes a 15% tax credit for companies that have a profit sharing program with workers on top of wages and pay increases.

Long-Term Growth is a push back on the boom and bust cycles of Wall Street.  It calls to an end of quarterly capitalism where companies can plan for the long run and invest in their workers with increased wages and better training which can lead to higher productivity, better service and larger profits.  It also calls for accountability on Wall Street where she will appoint and empower independent regulators and prosecute those individuals when they commit fraud or other criminal acts.

Gun Control

The National Rifle Association has got to be very concerned if Hillary Clinton gets elected as President.  She believes the gun industry should be held accountable for their part of gun violence.  She wants the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” to be repealed.  This law prevents victims of gun violence to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable for acts perpetrated with their guns.

She also wants to revoke licenses of bad-actor dealers who flood communities with illegal guns.  She will provide funding to increase inspections and enforce current law by revoking licenses of dealers that knowingly supply illegal guns.

Hillary Clinton will also initiate more comprehensive background checks to reduce gun trafficking, the lethality of domestic violence and unlawful gun transfers to dangerous individuals.  She will push Congress to close the “Charleston Loophole” that allows a gun sale to proceed without a completed background check if that check has not been completed in three days.  This loophole allowed the Charleston Church shooter, Dylann Roof to purchase a gun despite having a criminal record.

Ms. Clinton also wants to tighten gun show and Internet gun sales so that any person attempting to sell a significant number of guns abide by the same commonsense rules that apply to gun stores, including requiring background checks on gun sales.

Immigration

Hillary Clinton states that the immigration system needs to be fixed.  But rather than just deport all of the illegal immigrants out of the country and erect walls to keep them out, she indicates that a reform that will give these people a path to full and equal citizenship will only strengthen America.

Fight for Immigration Reform With a Path to Citizenship.  She wants to give undocumented students who grew up in the US a chance to contribute to America’s growth.  In doing so, she sees it as bringing millions of people into the formal economy.

Defend the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans)  executive actions.  These actions, initiated by President Obama, provide relief from deportation for DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) participants.  She will defend partisan attacks and politically motivated lawsuits that would put these people at risk of deportation.

Conduct humane, targeted immigration enforcement.  Focus enforcement resources on detaining and deporting individuals who pose a violent threat and work to ensure those who seek asylum in the United States have a fair chance to tell their stories.

This is not a column on who I think should lead this country.  That is a right of every individual who happens to read this.  This was only a comparison between two individuals and their platforms.

What I think who is the most qualified to be President of the United States doesn’t matter.  I can only hope that people will truly vote the right way, on the issues and not on the rhetoric that fan the flames of confusion.

Seattle Mariners – What Can We Expect This Time?

Mariners

This Friday, February 19th, 2016, kicks off the Seattle Mariners 2016 baseball season.

And while I appreciate all the changes new Mariner GM Jerry Dipoto has made since he took office in September, the most burning question I have is, just what can we expect from this team in 2016?

Dipoto says all the right things, that the Mariners foundation is excellent, build a team that has flexibility, balance and is sustainable and the team needs to add depth.  What else is he supposed to say, right?

But there is one thing I found different than any of the other GM’s that have sat in that chair for the Mariners.  He is taking a holistic view of the team and rather than try to have instant success via free agency, he is going to build from a farm system that is stocked with some very good talent.

We all can trace back to the failures the Mariners have tried in bringing up players who appeared to be ready but weren’t.  The most glaring example is that of Mike Zunino.

In college, while at Florida, Zunino was a career .320 hitter and averaged 58 RBI’s per season.  Had an excellent slugging percentage of .605 and an on base percentage of .383, excellent numbers for a catcher.  And no one could dispute his defensive skills.  When the Mariners drafted him 2013, I could see Zunino behind the dish full-time in 2015.

Zunino continued to excel in the minor leagues, moving quickly from A ball to AAA ball by 2013, just a year out of college.  And with the numbers he had in the minors, it wasn’t surprising he was called up at the end of the 2013 season.  Slugging percentage of .597, batting average of .313  and showed some power hitting 27 home runs and driving in 94 during his short time in the minors.

When he was slated as the starting catcher to start the 2014 season, I thought it was too soon.  But I got the feeling the Mariners were in panic mode and wanted him up.  And he was a major flop at the plate over the next two seasons.  Sure, he hit 22 home runs and drove in 60 in 2014, but his batting average was an anemic .199 and the on base percentage dropped to .294.  Add to that and he struck out 158 times, often in critical RBI situations.

2015 was even worse, hitting only .174, striking out 132 times with a mere .300 slugging percentage.  It was clear that Zunino had some major flaws in his swing that big league pitchers graphically exposed.  Interim GM Jeff Kingston mercifully shipped Zunino down to the minors and kept him there for the remainder of the season instead of calling him up in September.

Dipoto knew that a cultural change was needed.  And while I liked Lloyd McClendon as a manager, the writing was on the wall when Dipoto was hired in.  I like the hiring of Scott Servias, whom Dipoto worked with during his stint with the Angels.  And while Servias has never managed at any level, Dipoto hired some savvy veteran baseball men in Tim Bogar and Manny Acta.

There was an immediate need to change the culture, not just at the major league level, but through out the entire organization.  I think one of the reasons why Zunino flamed out was because he had connected with the coaching staffs at the minor league levels but not with Howard Johnson, who was the batting coach for the Mariners when Zunino was first called up.  And by the time Edgar Martinez could put some time in with him, Zunino was so screwed up that the best thing they could do was let him work it out in the minors.

Dipoto gathered all of the coaches from every level and wanted to get everyone on the same page, stressing what the big league club needed to succeed.  And to do that, the players coming up from the minors needed to have good on base percentage and low strike-out ratios.  The idea is to make opposing pitchers work, to stretch them out early and get to the opposing teams middle relievers as soon as they can.

The hitting coaches in particular needed to stress the same things at every level.  Dipoto and Edgar Martinez came up with a game plan that will start in A ball and have the same game plan all the way to AAA ball.  So when a player is called up, he will need to meet the same expectations as he did in the minors and the surprises will be minimal.

I suspect that was the issue with Zunino.  His expectations in the minors were vastly different than what was expected in the majors.  His whole hitting philosophy was changed by Howard Johnson when he got there and he had to think to much while at the plate, which caused indecisiveness, which caused hesitation, which caused him to strike out.

When a player, regardless of the sport, has to think too much, he’s toast.  As the great Crash Davis always said “Get out of your head” is always a great mantra to follow.

I agree with most of the predictions out there, that the Mariners will hit about 75 – 83 wins this year.  And while that might be a disappointment again, we need to give this management team a chance to impellent their plan because I believe this is a solid foundational plan that will make Seattle a baseball town again.  Not for just a couple of years, but for a couple of decades.

Looking forward to the season!

Denver Wins Super Bowl – Newton Reveals True Self

CryBaby Cam

The Denver Broncos defense played an outstanding game and took poor Cam Newton to the woodshed.  The 24-10 win the Broncos accomplished was perhaps one of the most accurately planned I’ve seen in a while.

Denver knew they could win this game by accomplishing one thing…put a beat down on Cam Newton and never let up.

Cam always said that if you don’t like what I do when I score a touchdown, don’t let me score.  The Broncos must really hate what he does since he barely had a sniff of the end zone.

There has been plenty of Cam bashing prior, during and after the game.  I don’t like to pile on but his actions remind me of a three year old who doesn’t get his way.  I almost heard, when he walked out of his post game press conference, Cam whining to his mother “Mom, they didn’t let me win the game!”

Reading about Cam defending himself for walking out that he admits to being a sore loser, I agree with him saying “Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I’m here to win football games.”

I’m pretty sure that every football player feels the same way.  It’s not a popularity contest, it’s about winning the biggest game played.  One team wins and another loses.  And while I agree with his sentiment, there is one thing that Cam lacks in all of this and that’s respect.

Respect for the other team finding a way to beat him.  Respect for not recognizing the brilliant coaching job to come up with that game plan.  Respect for his teammates who looked to him to lead and all he could do was blame them for not doing what was needed.

There is an expected classiness between opposing players.  Peyton Manning, despite how I personally feel about him, always, always showed class and respect to the opposing team and QB in particular.

Newton, at the end of the game, did walk up to Manning but failed to take his helmet off and congratulate Manning for the win in what is sure to be his last game.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera attempted to defend Newton when Newton spoke to the media today about his actions: “Obviously somebody had a great conversation with him and explained it to him and he was able to compose himself and speak to you folks,” he said. “That’s huge. What he did today was a part of his growth. He is still growing and maturing as a man in this world.”

Hold the phone here…this guy is 26 years old, been in the NFL for five years and someone needed to talk to him so that he could compose himself?  He still is maturing as a man in this world?

I understand that 26 is still young but I know maturity from 21 years of age to 26 is monumental.  By 26 years of age, most people get how they should act and show some measure of respect to others.

These actions that he does, the dabbing, the temper tantrums, the immaturity of walking out of a press conference, does nothing but hurt what good things that he does do.

Cam does have a passion for helping kids.  He has been known to give $200 dollars to each kid at a sporting goods store during Christmas so those kids could by presents for themselves and families.

Anytime that he scores a touchdown (after the dabbing crap), he seeks out a child to give the football too.

These are fine acts of someone who cares.

But none of this matters because of the lack of respect he shows his team when they lose nor the respect not shown to the opposing team for beating him.  I totally get this is a competitive game and no one like to lose.  but Cam is going to have other opportunities, the least he could have said was “We’ll get you next time.”

Instead, he chose to be selfish.  And that impression will last more than any good that he may do.