All For One – And One For None Leaves America At Risk

I have tried very hard to be as analytical as I can about our current political situation. After all, I’ve always been an equal opportunity critic of politicians. My sources are Democrats, Republicans and Independents,  and I have a weekly call list that would surprise you. But what happened today at the NATO meetings may be the greatest threat to American security in decades.

There was nothing wrong in President Trump demanding more financial support from some members of the NATO alliance. But it was outrageous for him to have not mentioned our nation’s determined commitment to support all NATO countries. This “all for one and one for all” commitment is a legal part of the NATO alliance and has been embraced by every American President since Harry S. Truman. That is, until now.

This omission was a tremendous victory for Russia’s determined dictator and sometimes murderer Vladimir Putin. President Trump handed him the green light to start spreading his cyber and real-bullet threat to Eastern and Western Europe and the near and Middle East.

In vacating that pledge, Trump has sent shockwaves of fear to millions of people in Europe. And in doing so, the President has reinforced the view that America First may mean Russia First as well.

The eventual result will be an anti-American wave through our nation’s allies. And that will no doubt endanger our own security in the long run.

A firm commitment to support all NATO nations would have gone a long way to convincing angry Americans and our friendly allies to believe that maybe Donald Trump’s behavior is really just a lot of proud bluster. But, after today, trust in our nation’s commitments may never be the same,

As the President would say…. sad.

What Trump Should Have Said!

What an awful perspective Donald Trump has of his own persona. Following the appointment of the former FBI Chief Robert Mueller, the President tweeted with anger again, calling its the biggest “witch hunt” ever. What a mistake? What is the President thinking?

Faced with a barrage of problems  he should have said,   “Great choice of a distinguished investigator. We look forward to a resolution of this barrage of accusations. The country deserves a fair and thorough investigation. And here at the White House we are ready and waiting to cooperate in anyway so that all doubts may be lifted.”

Instead, the man who says he knows the art of the deal misfires again, complicating his image, looking like a man who as they say at the networks is “unhinged.”

So the question is this. Does he understand his mistakes? Is he delusional about his current situation? Even if there’s nothing to any of the investigations, can he get his act together to run the nation, and keep us safe?

Now, in the early years of President Trump, the big question overrides all others. How would he react when a military issue threatens the nation.

The timing of his first foreign trip is challenging, but maybe it will help him realize that its time to finally, and in the hopes of a worried nation, works hard to evaluate himself.

 

Changing of Guard in Philadelphia – Rhynhart Surprises, Krasner Wins With Big$$$

Although the turnout was dismal, the Philadelphia political landscape was changed dramatically in this primary.

First off: Rebecca Rhynhart’s upset win for Controller over Alan Butkovitz is the biggest upset we have seen in a long time. Rhynhart ran a savvy campaign and not as a novice. Rhynhart has had years of experience in municipal finance. She appealed to younger voters and Democrats possibly looking for a change. Alan Butkovitz has had a remarkable political run, but he was probably defeated less by rejection, but more by an electorate looking for something new, a warning to incumbents next year! Rhynhart will face Republican Mike Tomlinson in November, but Tomlinson’s chances are slim to none, with the dynamic Democratic registration edge.

The big question is how Rhynhart handles oversight of the Kenney administration. Will she be as independent as she says she will be?  There is still much waste in City Government. With a prohibitive wage tax, one of the worst in the nation, and high corporate taxes, it is a difficult situation. Finding that waste, attacking it and fighting to make city government more efficient should be a hallmark of the Rhynhart years.

Larry Krasner’s big victory was a product of great name recognition, fueled by the money of liberal billionaire George Soros. Krasner is honest and caring. Will be be tough on defendants? The District Attorney sets the tone, and like it or not, Philadelphia is still a city where crime is an issue. We all know that education is the key to reducing crime, but in the meantime, the citizens will expect Krasner to have the back of the city’s police department.

It’s nice to change the subject from Trump land.  But that won’t last for long, what with the the revelations of alleged impropriety flying out of the big house. While we wait for the  next chapter, I leave you with a question.

Can anyone convince Donald Trump that he needs to change to save his White House?  The answer to that question will forecast whether the President can keep flying by the seat of his pants to keep the show going.

We will find out if Trump can survive politically sooner rather than later. In a few months, under our system of checks and balances we will know  whether the accusations stick.  We will also find out, by the outcome and the emerging real truth, who the real patriots are in Washington.

Why Is Commonwealth Court So Important in Pa.

https://www.seventy.org/tools/elections-voting/2017-election-guide/pa-commonwealth-court   Save this URL.  In the age of voter suppression, and campaign hacking, Commonwealth Court is so very important in Pa. That’s why it may be  great idea to go to the website of the independent Philadelphia Committee of Seventy to check out the candidates. Each party selects two nominees. The two Republicans are unopposed.

In the Democratic field, Joseph Cosgrove currently serves on the court and is seeking a full term, after his appointment in 2016. He is currently the only Democratic candidate “highly recommended by the Bar Association. Four of the other five, as you will see, get a recommendation from the Bar Association.

That includes Judge Ellen Ceisler, who has one of the more unusual career paths: Former investigative journalist, chief integrity officer of the Philadelphia Police Department, prosecutor, litigator, and for nine years a Common Pleas Court Judge in Philadelphia.

Check out the other candidates on the site. It is one of the best around for information on any candidate for any office in the City of Philadelphia.

Why is this court to important? It deals with legal action for and against the state, offers decisions on all things political, including financial irregularities, and the most important function, handling election conflicts and protecting you from vote suppression, and efforts check signatures, and make sure petitions are valid for certification of candidates. In other words, the court offers you protection from people who would undermine the election process.

A Surprising Controllers’s Race– And More Strange White House News

Breaking news, as they call it much too often in Cable news.

As I sat down to write the following, I found out that Kris Kobach of Kansas has been appointed by President Trump to help lead the commission to assure voter integrity. It ‘s just another Trump move that is shockingly transparent in its meaning. Kobach is known around the country as the “king of voter suppression.” Read more about him, and you will be astounded. This caps off a surreal week of apparent madness at the White House.

And there has also been a wave of impeachment stories. Legal experts are saying that the President’s firing of James Comey was an obstruction of justice. I say, not so fast. It’s much too early to be talking impeachment. But it didn’t help that the President said he was thinking about the “fake” Russia-Trump story when he decided to fire Comey.

Anyway…

While most of the attention is paid to the White House these days, this Tuesday, May 16th is the Pennsylvania primary. Let me remind you that if you live in the suburbs, and don’t show up, you are leaving your taxes in the hands of elected school directors, township and borough commissioners. You are also nominating judges who make decisions that can impact you and your families, especially in the area of crime. Don’t complain about crime unless you are at least willing to take part in the electoral process. I’ll be looking at one of those statewide court battles Monday night into Tuesday.

Sadly, this election will have a light turnout, meaning that two vital races can be more than a bit unpredictable. The DA’s race in Philadelphia is interesting but the Controller’s race has turned into the fascinating contest. In both races, the Democrat winners will no doubt win in November because of the crushing voter registration edge.

Alan Butkovitz is seeking his fourth term as City Controller. Butkovitz is a political pro with strong name recognition.  His challenger is Rebecca Rhynhart, who worked as Chief Administrative Officer for Mayor Kenney and city treasurer and budget director for Mayor Nutter.  Her resume’ is impressive, but so is the Controller’s list of dealing, sometimes reluctantly, with entrenched members of his own party.

I talked to both of them separately this week. So, here we go.

Both candidates are pleasant and not shy. These quotes are put together from separate interviews.

Alan stresses his experience. “I’ve done this a long time, and my audits have been hard charging, and some of my fellow Democrats are not happy with me. The Mayors have been friendly, but all of them think I’m a pain in the….. if you know what I mean. Mike Nutter was not happy with me at all.”

Rebecca points to 15 years of financial experience, and says, “ Alan is not a money guy. He’s in the camp of elected Democrats, and is not independent from the establishment. I will be working for the people..”

Alan: Rebecca was Treasurer and Budget director under Nutter. My office exposed the fact that some of his staff had misused the Mayors Fund for personal expenses, over 200-thousand dollars. As City Treasurer where was she when this the Mayor’s Fund was abused. “

( In case you missed it. The Mayor’s Fund was a big issue that Butkovitz attacked in recent months. Mayor Nutter struck back at the former executive director of the fund ( a non-profit) for releasing the information over a year after his term was up, when he didn’t have access to the records.)

Rebecca: “Where was Alan when the Parking Authority was mismanaged and where people cited for poor management were leaving office with big payouts? The last time he audited the Parking Authority was 2009. Does he remember that the Nutter administration has one of the best ethics records ever. (Rynhart was endorsed by Ed Rendell, whose Mayoralty was considered one of the finest ever)

Alan: “On the Parking Authority, The Authority is a state supervised entity. I had many priorities, including the schools, city departments, and line by line audits of city departments. Pennsylvania has an auditor general to audit the Philadelphia Parking Authority, And I did the unthinkable, I took on the practices of one of the most popular sheriff’s in the city’s history, John Green “

Rebecca: “There is never any follow up in the city Controller’s office. It’s more of a scattered audit here or there, with no routine follow up. If elected, I would thoroughly audit the Parking authority, and get money back to the school system. I would also modernize the apparatus of city government, which is not fully computerized. That’s a disgrace. We need to bring our oversight process to the modern era.”

These are a few of the quotes from the two candidates.

What do I think? I don’t endorse candidates, but I think this election is going to be a lot closer than anyone expected. Rynhart has raised a lot of money, and most of her TV ads came late in the decision period. The turnout will be light and both candidates are trading places on sample ballots with some of the DA candidates.

Bottom line: This race has all the elements of a Philly contest: Ward leaders, turnout questions, deals made on sample ballots, the power and downside of being an incumbent. A new face, and a familiar one.

It could be the most interesting to watch on Tuesday night.

Win or lose, Rynhart has received valuable TV exposure that could place her in the forefront of elective politics in the future.