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The Purple Muse

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Welcome to the web site of The Purple Muse.  We offer commentary and opinion on the major issues being debated in our world today.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Media and the Presidential Election

I use Twitter and Facebook primarily as mediums to collect media disseminated information from a variety of sources from many parts of political landscape for my review.  I also read the Washington Post print edition almost every day when I am home.  I also spend a lot of time watching cable TV business and news channels during the business week.  I believe I have a pretty good feel for the media dynamics that are present in the Presidential election. 

I don't claim to have visited every obscure liberal progressive or conservative web site.  I don't watch all the business and news channels equally every day.  I don't do a statistical analysis of everything I see or hear or make sure that I am making a statistically valid analysis that would be accepted by PHD mathematicians.  However,  I think I can say with certainty that it is a miracle that Donald Trump is roughly even with Hillary Clinton at this point in the campaign.  It is stunning to see the attacks on Trump flow out of the media from every corner.  Newspapers from all over the nation are backing Clinton.  The major market newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post hammer Trump in multiple articles every day.  The amount of anti-Trump material appears to have accelerated since the debate on Monday night. 

In this blog I am not going to debate any of the anti-Trump articles that I have read or deliver a counterattack against Clinton.  That is a different set of subjects for another day.  Just prior to the debates the polls were just about even for both the national popular vote and the electoral college.  Effectively the two candidates were tied within the margin of error of the scientific polls.  The non-scientific polls conducted right after the debate don't mean much as far as I am concerned.  In the next few days we should be getting the first of the post debate scientific00:14:18 polls to see if there are any changes to the pre-debate polls.  With the intense media slam against Trump since the debate plus the media declared Clinton win in the debate.  I would expect Clinton to gain a lot of ground against Trump and cruise to a big victory in the election.  This assumes that Clinton manages to avoid any more legal scandals or health crises during the next few weeks.  This is certainly what her supporters in the media want to see happen. 

But what if the story turns out very different.  What if the debate and all the anti-Trump media efforts fail to work and Trump ends up winning the Electoral College.  Trump will become President.  He will owe nothing to the mainstream media for his success.  Once he becomes President he can completely ignore them and use a few media outlets that support him and social media to speak to the people.  Clinton's current supporters in the media will be completely without power and influence with the President of the United States.  Trump can decide which outlets get access to the big inside stories and scoops and the ratings and followers that go with them.  Electing Trump could even cause a restructuring of the overall media business.  The biggest Clinton supporters will lose the most.  I find this possibility very amusing. 

The media has put a significant majority of its chips on the table for Clinton.  We will see who goes home a winner at the end of the game. 

TPM

12:14 am          Comments

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Clinton vs Trump and Our Money

I was very fortunate to be invited by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to attend their event this afternoon at George Washington University in Washington, DC.  The event, How Would Clinton and Trump Manage Our Money? A Conversation with the Candidates' Economic Advisors,  featured Mr. Stephen Moore (representing Donald Trump) and Mr. Gene Sperling (representing Hillary Clinton).  The event was moderated by Ms. Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.  Ms. MacGuineas did a great job moderating the discussion.  The contrast between her unbiased, professional, logical and easy to understand approach to significant economic and financial issues is a startling contrast to the political and economic talking heads we see on TV and the Internet everyday. 

Mr. Sperling was the first speaker.  He was given about 10 minutes to outline Clinton's economic plan.  He didn't say much in support of the Clinton economic plan.  He did emphasize that there should be a front loaded infrastructure plan with no quantification of scope or total investment.  He made the standard statements of how the government needed to help the middle class.  There was no mention of any significant changes from the current situation.  He spent over half of his time criticizing Trump and his plans on areas like immigration and taxes.  I was stunned by the how little Sperling, a very well known economic adviser to the Clinton campaign, said about her economic plan to this particular audience. 

Mr. Moore was given 10 minutes to outline Trump's economic plan.  He explained that this election was a contest between the Elites represented by Clinton and the Working Class represented by Trump.  His view is that the regular people that live outside the areas of power are resentful over what has happened over the past few years because for them there has been no economic recovery.  The people want real change.  Moore outlined the Trump economic plan including lower corporate income taxes, lower personal income taxes and US energy independence policy.  The Trump team is committed to achieving a four percent GDP growth rate. 

Ms. MacGuineas asked each of the speakers to outline their candidate's key economic strategies.  Moore answered Corporate Tax Policy, US Energy Independence, and Regulatory Relief.  Sperling's answer was very fuzzy.  He spoke in a wandering manner talking about helping workers and the middle class with no definitive strategy other than an infrastructure investment.  The two speakers agreed that worker equity ownership participation is a good idea (many companies already have this) and there should be more support for families through child care credits and other means. 

Ms. MacGuiness then stated the forecast for the national debt.  All models agree that the debt will grow faster than the GDP for the foreseeable future.  This increases the current debt to GDP ratio from very high levels, highest since post WWII era, to higher levels for every year into the future.  She asked the speakers how the candidates will address this issue.  The bottom line is that neither Sperling or Moore answered the question.

Sperling basically supported the status quo with some income redistribution from the one percent to others.  He didn't indicate that a Clinton administration cared about the national debt and how it impacted the economy now or the future.  It appears that Clinton thinks that the existing $600B year and growing deficit is baked in and she is only attempting to balance out additions to the existing forecasted debt growth. 

Moore emphasized that the GDP growth rate during the Obama era has been less than two percent and is currently running at one percent.  Trump is committed to achieving a five year four percent growth rate that would increase the overall GDP by 20 percent after five years.  This will be achieved by impact of the corporate tax cut, individual tax cuts, the energy independence program and slowing or stopping regulatory impact on business.  Moore didn't address the additional debt that would be incurred during the implementation of this plan or its long term impact on federal debt growth. 

Ms. MacGuiness then asked the speakers some questions that had been submitted by attendees. Some of the highlights of that portion of the event included a non-answer from Sperling regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare funding levels.  His only meaningful comment was that Social Security payments should be increased for some recipients.  Moore repeated Trump's position that there should be no Social Security cuts and implied that economic growth would solve the funding problem with no specifics.  Later Moore attacked the federal debt build-up and wasted spending under Obama and Sperling countered with Obama forced to deal with the financial crisis that developed during the Bush administration and the increase in debt was not his fault.  Moore attacked Obamacare and its negative impact on many citizens due to its high cost relative to medical insurance cost before Obamacare.  Sperling countered with some of the positive aspects of Obamacare, total number of people covered, coverage to age 26 and coverage of pre-existing conditions.

There was very little discussion of trade issues during the discussion.  During his initial comments Moore noted that he doesn't agree on Trump's views on free trade and Trump knows it and it doesn't impact their relationship. 

After the event I had the opportunity to shake hands with Mr. Moore and ask him to think about the $100T to $200T of unfunded liabilities of the US government.  He responded that a number of existing programs needed to sunset - very true - and he would think about the issue. 

After Mr. Moore left I discussed the event and the issues with two gentlemen that I met at the event.  They each made a comment that I found very interesting.  First, the US economy and government don't work with a two percent GDP growth rate.  This is independent of the amount of Federal debt we have today.  The point is well made.  We must grow much faster or face fundamental restructuring of our economy on every level.  Second, this election is a choice about economic policies of the 80's - Trump and the 90's - Clinton.  Neither approach is going to solve the economic issues that we must deal with in 2020. 

I heard very little good news during the event today.  Neither side is prepared to deal with our future economic issues.  I do agree with the Trump focus on US energy independence and reduced regulation.  As the Trump team proposes we must fix our US corporate tax rate and make it competitive with the rest of the world.  We need to stop taxing profits made by US companies in foreign countries so they can bring their cash back to US.  I heard very little about the Clinton plan that was positive to the overall economic health of the country.  Clinton continues the US on a low growth economy with no impact on our future debt growth.  Clinton's primary focus is redistribution of existing wealth. 

The US needs an economic plan for today and tomorrow not 20 or 30 years ago.  I have some thoughts and I will discuss them sometime in the near future.

TPM

5:45 pm          Comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The First Debate

The first US Presidential debate is finally over.  The spin doctors are spinning.  The pollsters are polling, scientifically or not.  The news media spent a fortune covering and analyzing the debate.  All the political analysts are streaming out their collective wisdom.  I have a few thoughts on the debate.  I watched the entire event and some of the post-debate spinning. 

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton kept her composure far better than Donald Trump over the totality of the debate.  This is not a matter of dispute.  There is also no doubt that Trump was willing to discuss the big hard issues facing the country.  Clinton wants to talk about her plans for the future and is unwilling to acknowledge the past and current failures of our political leaders.  She was a part of many of those failures and runs from them as fast as she can.  There are a number of major issues that neither candidate will address in a rational manner. 

The media will attempt to determine a winner of the debate.  There is no way to determine a winner in any rational way.  The election is the ultimate determination of the winner.  This debate, the next two Presidential debate and the Vice Presidential debate will all contribute to the body of information the electorate will use to make its decision on election day in November. 

The polls before factoring in the debate tonight appear to indicate that Clinton is losing strength and Trump is gaining strength in the national popular vote and it is now about even or within the margin of error.  The Electoral College vote is getting very interesting.  The polls appear to indicate that Clinton has lost her big lead and Trump is gaining ground and it is now about even within the margin of error in many states.  Before tonight the election was a toss-up.  We will see if the polls change significantly in the days ahead. 

In November the American people will make a decision and we will move forward, maybe.  

TPM

12:24 am          Comments

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Another Gabriel Allon Book Series Update

I just finished reading books 13 to 15 in Daniel Silva's great series featuring Gabriel Allon, art restorer, spy and assassin, as the lead character.  I have now read the entire series of books except for the most recent, The Black Widow, which was published in July.  If you enjoy visiting interesting locations, mostly in Europe and Israel, and engaging with interesting characters involved in amazing plots interspersed with current events via modern spy novels, I recommend that you read this entire series.  The three books I just read are:

The English Girl

The Heist

The English Spy 

I don't have much more to add to what I have stated in my two previous blogs on this subject.  You can find detailed reviews and plot summaries of all the books in the series all over the Internet.  I am looking forward to reading The Black Widow at some point in the next few months. 

Thanks again to Daniel Silva for creating these great books for all of us to enjoy..

TPM

10:13 am          Comments

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Gabriel Allon Book Series Update
 
I first commented on the series of books by Daniel Silva featuring Israeli art restorer/spy/assassin Gabriel Allon in a blog on August 11.  Since my first report I have finished reading six more books of the series (from 7 through 12).  The titles are: 
 
The Secret Servant
 
Moscow Rules
 
The Defector
 
The Rembrandt Affair
 
Portrait of a Spy
 
The Fallen Angel 
 
All of these books are very interesting and entertaining.  Allon and his friends and allies in Israeli Intelligence, the US CIA and British Intelligence work mostly together to uncover and foil the plots of bad guys (i.e. crooked industrialists, Russian arms dealers, Palestinian terrorists, Iranian bombers).  Sometimes a few of the bad guys turn out not to be not so bad.  Sometimes the good guys in various nations need help because their own culture is so politically correct they can't deal with real problems. 
 
In each book there comes a point where one or more people die.  Bad guys are shot and killed before they can harm innocents.  Bad guys are sometimes tortured so they will reveal information that is needed so that Allon and his team can save the day for innocents.  Allon and his team sometimes make mistakes and have to regroup before solving the problem at hand.  Sometimes they are shot or tortured themselves. 
 
This group of books was published between 2007 and 2012.  One of Silva's great skills as an author is his ability to weave his fictional story into current events.  He accurately describes the political attributes of some of our current political leaders but he doesn't use their actual names.  The reader knows the story is fiction.  Yet, there is a reality to it because of the context of the story.  Maybe these events could actual happen in real life. 
 
I just finished reading The Fallen Angel, which was published in 2012.  The climax of the story takes place in and around the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.  My wife and I were extremely fortunate to be able to physically visit the Temple Mount in the Spring of 2014.   It was one of the greatest moments of my life.  It was something I had wanted to do for many years and I accomplished that objective during our most recent visit to Israel.  I got to stand and walk on one of the most important spots on planet Earth.  As I read The Fallen Angel I was taken back to our visit of 2014.  I had the opportunity to think again about the historical importance of the Temple Mount and its critical impact on today's world. 
 
As Silva develops each plot he sometimes creates some doubt in the reader's mind as to who are the good guys and who are bad guys.  Are the Palestinians always the bad guys?  Are the Israelis always the good guys?  The historical context of Palestine, Jerusalem and other parts of the Middle East are woven into the novels.  Sometimes the reader forgets the book is a novel.  It reads like a history book instead. 
 
This is a great series of books.  I highly recommend them to anyone that is interested.  It is time for me to start reading The English Girl by Daniel Silva.
 
TPM
2:01 pm          Comments

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