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Steven Kurlander: Donald Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president, so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions. In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already. He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer. He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York.

54 percent of voters say they won’t vote for Donald Trump

Donald Trump may be the leading in the polls, but more than 50 percent of voters said they wouldn’t vote for him in November.

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, 54 percent of registered voters surveyed said they wouldn’t vote for the New York Republican in the general election. Forty-three percent of respondents stated that they wouldn’t support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

But voters might not have any other options. The survey found that Trump leads the GOP field with 43 percent, followed by Ted Cruz at 29 percent. John Kasich is in third with 16 percent.

Trump leads the field among every cross section of respondents, except those who self-identify as very conservative. Among those Republican and Republican-leaning voters, 47 percent said they supported Cruz.

On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 50 percent to 38 percent. Sanders, the poll found, does better among people between 18 and 44 years old and those who self-identify as very liberal.

“Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may have the overall leads among primary voters, but there is not a love in the room as a big percentage of Americans say of the front runners they could take ‘em or leave ‘em,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from March 16 through March 21. The survey polled 1,451 registered voters and had an overall margin of error of 2.6 percent. The survey includes 652 Republicans with a margin of error of 3.8 percent; and 635 Democrats with a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

Steven Kurlander: Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president http://www.legacy.com/life-and-death/the-liberty-era.html  so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions.  In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already.  He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer.  He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasts Ted Cruz’ call for police patrols of Muslim neighborhoods

In the wake of the Brussels terror attacks Tuesday morning,  Ted Cruz suggested that the United States “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

In a statement sent to reporters in Washington hours after terrorists struck civilian targets in Brussels, the GOP presidential candidate said that for years, the west has tried to deny the existence of Islamic terrorism, out of combination of fear and political correctness.

“We can no longer afford either,” he said. “Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods. We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

It was that last sentence that fired up Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who called Cruz “a disgrace.”

“His comments today were worse than opportunistic and inappropriate politicking in the wake of the terrible tragedy in Brussels – they were a shameful display of hate that only serves to foment anger and make the world less secure,” she said in a statement issued out by the DNC Tuesday afternoon.

“Barely before the smoke had cleared, he declared that – here in the United States – we should institute police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods,” Wasserman Schultz added. “This is not leadership; it is fear-mongering for political gain. And this is the sad state of Republican leadership today, where the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the GOP’s presidential candidates seems to reach new lows each day. We need to elect a commander-in-chief with the temperament and judgment to respond wisely to the threat of terrorism and global unrest, not a demagogue who defaults to militaristic escalation and racial or religious profiling.”

Meanwhile, John Kasich told reporters in Minneapolis, “We are not at war with Islam; we’re at war with radical Islam.”

The New York Times reports that Kasich said that, “In our country, we don’t want to create divisions where we say, ‘O.K., well your religion, you’re a Muslim, so therefore we’re going to keep an eye on you.’”

Cruz also exploited the tragedy in Brussels to use as an opportunity to go after Donald Trump.

On Monday, Trump was critical of U.S. spending on NATO in an interview with the Washington Post’s editorial board, calling for a diminished role in the military alliance while calling on other NATO countries to begin contribution more financially.

“Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies,” Cruz told reporters. “Donald Trump is wrong that American should retreat from Europe, retreat from NATO, hand Putin a major victory and while he’s at it hand ISIS a major victory.”

Brussels is where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is headquartered.

 

 

Diane Roberts: Florida GOP voters don’t want to think, they just want to believe

So the other jackboot has dropped: Rick Scott endorsed his Soul Brother but only after that big Florida Primary win.

Scott signaled his man-crush back in January, writing breathlessly for USA TODAY that Herr Drumpf reminds him of, well, him: rich, an “outsider,” a business hombre incensed over “endless and tedious regulation and taxation.”

You know, crap like the Clean Water Act. And the Voting Rights Act.

Still, Scott couldn’t quite bring himself to come out all the way for the eccentrically coiffed braggart until he saw which way Florida Republicans would blow. After all, they’re the people he needs to propel him to the United States Senate in 2018.

He’s betting (and the evidence is pretty compelling, see 2010 and 2014) that a large hunk of Florida voters no longer care about qualifications or competence. They just want to elect somebody who will throw epic tantrums on their behalf. Somebody who’ll show those uppity feminists and gays and Black Lives Matter kids who’s boss. Somebody who’ll make America white male again.

They don’t want problem-solvers. They want a megaphone.

Meanwhile, the denizens of Punditland are trying to get their heads around what happened to Florida’s once-golden homeboys.

Jeb was the Bush to beat, the Smart One, the guy who’d raised so much money nobody could touch him. Marco Rubio was young, Latino, telegenic and energetic: the new Face of the 21st century GOP.

Ted Cruz? Everybody hates him, especially his fellow senators. You can’t run a serious presidential campaign with no friends. John Kasich? One of those moderate Republicans. He accepted Obamacare in Ohio. He’ll be gone by Iowa.

And as for Trump: are you kidding? The guy’s an idiot. He’s going nowhere.

Yeah.

Got it wrong, didn’t we?

Perhaps not entirely: Cruz is despised by most rational people. Trump is indeed an idiot — the way Mussolini was an idiot. Mean, cunning and narcissistic.

But Rubio wasn’t such a fresh face, after all. His political “philosophy” was opportunism with a spritz of Reagan-lite: path to citizenship for undocumented aliens? Sure — until it upsets the base.

And Bush, well, even Republicans persisting in a perverse fondness for George W. didn’t warm to his “little brother” Jeb. Where George W. won people over by being just as ignorant and incurious — but friendly — as they were, Jeb spouted passionless policy, specifics and other egghead-ish stuff.

The truth is that Bush and Rubio were both lackluster candidates, products of Florida’s intellectually bankrupt GOP, a party which was, 35 years ago, strangely progressive on the environment and on social issues, but which now exists — much like the old Pork Chop Democrats — merely to perpetuate their own power.

Bush beat two weak Democrats for governor in 1998 and 2002, kept his nerve in the 2000 presidential vote recount, and tried to dismantle public education in Florida. Somehow that made him look like presidential material — at least to old-line party faithful.

Rubio got himself a couple of fat jobs out of law school, including a teaching gig at FIU funded by private donors, before he hit the Florida House and became Speaker at age 35.

He was elected to the US Senate in 2010, beating former Gov. Charlie Crist. That seemed like a mighty coup. But remember that 2010 was the year the Tea Party grabbed their pitchforks and tricorn hats: that guy in the White House was a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist revolutionary who was going to get his dusky government hands on their doctors!

And 2010 was also the year Florida elected as governor a guy whose company drew the largest fine in history for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Rick Scott still isn’t in jail.

The signs were there. Bush and Rubio should have noticed that the re-election of Scott indicated that the people of Florida were not inclined to critical thinking. And those two establishment Republicans had nothing to offer an electorate angrier than ever over things they barely understand: the Iran nuclear deal (no, the US is not “giving” Iran $150 billion); detente with Cuba; marriage equality; the Paris climate change agreement. Rubio tried the optimistic “New American Century” thing. Bush didn’t do “shining city on the hill.” He just touted his mixed record as governor of Florida — and his famous name.

They tried and failed to counter Trump’s bombast, his bread and circuses, his witless sloganeering about “winning” and “deals,” his boasting about bringing back torture and suing newspapers he doesn’t like and making everybody say, “Merry Christmas.”

But you don’t beat rage with policy. And you don’t vanquish a pig by getting down in the mud with him. You can’t win against the promise of “greatness.”

Republican voters in Florida no longer want to think. They just want to believe.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” She teaches at Florida State University.

Diane Roberts: Florida GOP voters don’t want to think, they just want to believe

So the other jackboot has dropped: Rick Scott endorsed his Soul Brother but only after that big Florida Primary win.

Scott signaled his man-crush back in January, writing breathlessly for USA Today that Herr Drumpf reminds him of, well, him: rich, an “outsider,” a business hombre incensed over “endless and tedious regulation and taxation.”

You know, crap like the Clean Water Act. And the Voting Rights Act.

Still, Scott couldn’t quite bring himself to come out all the way for the eccentrically coiffed braggart until he saw which way Florida Republicans would blow. After all, they’re the people he needs to propel him to the United States Senate in 2018.

He’s betting (and the evidence is pretty compelling, see 2010 and 2014) that a large hunk of Florida voters no longer care about qualifications or competence. They just want to elect somebody who will throw epic tantrums on their behalf. Somebody who’ll show those uppity feminists and gays and Black Lives Matter kids who’s boss. Somebody who’ll make America white male again.

They don’t want problem-solvers. They want a megaphone.

Meanwhile, the denizens of Punditland are trying to get their heads around what happened to Florida’s once-golden homeboys.

Jeb was the Bush to beat, the Smart One, the guy who’d raised so much money nobody could touch him. Marco Rubio was young, Latino, telegenic and energetic: the new Face of the 21st century GOP.

Ted Cruz? Everybody hates him, especially his fellow senators. You can’t run a serious presidential campaign with no friends. John Kasich? One of those moderate Republicans. He accepted Obamacare in Ohio. He’ll be gone by Iowa.

And as for Trump: are you kidding? The guy’s an idiot. He’s going nowhere.

Yeah.

Got it wrong, didn’t we?

Perhaps not entirely: Cruz is despised by most rational people. Trump is indeed an idiot — the way Mussolini was an idiot. Mean, cunning and narcissistic.

But Rubio wasn’t such a fresh face, after all. His political “philosophy” was opportunism with a spritz of Reagan-lite: path to citizenship for undocumented aliens? Sure — until it upsets the base.

And Bush, well, even Republicans persisting in a perverse fondness for George W. didn’t warm to his “little brother” Jeb. Where George W. won people over by being just as ignorant and incurious — but friendly — as they were, Jeb spouted passionless policy, specifics and other eggheadish stuff.

The truth is that Bush and Rubio were both lackluster candidates, products of Florida’s intellectually bankrupt GOP, a party which was, 35 years ago, strangely progressive on the environment and on social issues, but which now exists — much like the old Pork Chop Democrats — merely to perpetuate their own power.

Bush beat two weak Democrats for governor in 1998 and 2002, kept his nerve in the 2000 presidential vote recount, and tried to dismantle public education in Florida. Somehow that made him look like presidential material — at least to old-line party faithful.

Rubio got himself a couple of fat jobs out of law school, including a teaching gig at FIU funded by private donors, before he hit the Florida House and became Speaker at age 35.

He was elected to the US Senate in 2010, beating former Gov. Charlie Crist. That seemed like a mighty coup. But remember that 2010 was the year the Tea Party grabbed their pitchforks and tricorn hats: that guy in the White House was a Kenyan Muslim socialist atheist revolutionary who was going to get his dusky government hands on their doctors!

And 2010 was also the year Florida elected as governor a guy whose company drew the largest fine in history for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

Rick Scott still isn’t in jail.

The signs were there. Bush and Rubio should have noticed that the re-election of Scott indicated that the people of Florida were not inclined to critical thinking. And those two establishment Republicans had nothing to offer an electorate angrier than ever over things they barely understand: the Iran nuclear deal (no, the US is not “giving” Iran $150 billion); detente with Cuba; marriage equality; the Paris climate change agreement. Rubio tried the optimistic “New American Century” thing. Bush didn’t do “shining city on the hill.” He just touted his mixed record as governor of Florida — and his famous name.

They tried and failed to counter Trump’s bombast, his bread and circuses, his witless sloganeering about “winning” and “deals,” his boasting about bringing back torture and suing newspapers he doesn’t like and making everybody say, “Merry Christmas.”

But you don’t beat rage with policy. And you don’t vanquish a pig by getting down in the mud with him. You can’t win against the promise of “greatness.”

Republican voters in Florida no longer want to think. They just want to believe.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She teaches at Florida State University. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Jac VerSteeg: Political fratricide model fails Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio was convinced the Fratricide Model of politics was his ticket to the top. Now, after one brilliant win and one spectacular loss, the Florida senator claims to have renounced the model.

He will not, he says, run for governor in 2018. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam need not fear a Rubio challenge.

We won’t have Marco Rubio to kick around anymore?

Political fratricide worked for Rubio in 2010 when he broke in line to oppose and defeat Gov. Charlie Crist for a U.S. Senate seat. He was helped along by that year’s Tea Party revolt and the fact that newly Independent Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek split the no-to-Rubio vote.

Just as angry as the 2010 Tea Party faithful but with a new idol, Florida GOP primary voters this month delivered the final blow to Rubio’s second attempt at exploiting the Fratricide Model. They gave Donald Trump a victory in every county except Rubio’s Miami-Dade refuge.

What effect did Rubio’s fratricidal challenge to his mentor (and his better) Jeb Bush have on the contest? What if Rubio had shown respect, bided his time and supported Bush? No way to know, but Florida might have been the firewall for Bush and the anti-Trumpers that it so dismally failed to be for Rubio.

I do not think that every intra-party challenge can be characterized as an example of the Fratricide Model. It’s appropriate for rivals in the same party to let voters decide between them. But when one of the challengers has not earned the right to vie for an office and, further, damages the party or the office he seeks, that is political fratricide.

And that is what Rubio has done. He knocked off Crist – once a Republican rising star – and proceeded to disdain the Senate seat he won. As a result, the seat easily could go to a Democrat this November.

Then, of course, Rubio challenged Jeb. After helping to undermine the clear choice of the GOP establishment, Rubio proceeded to run a horrible campaign. The overall effect boosted Trump’s prospects and hurt the Republican Party.

What will Rubio do next? He claimed, upon returning to work in the Senate – if someone so often a no-show can be said to “return to work” – that, in addition to eschewing a gubernatorial bid, he would not be anybody’s veep.

You never know what to make of a politician’s claim that he won’t seek this or that office. How many times did now-House Speaker Paul Ryan claim that he would not accept the post? (By the way, Ryan also insists he won’t allow himself to be nominated at a fractured GOP convention this summer. Right.)

For Rubio, who has been assailed for overweening ambition, what better strategy than to affect a new humility and express no ambition whatsoever for political office?

Is it really believable that if, by some miracle, he emerges as a vice presidential candidate – perhaps for Ryan at a brokered convention – Rubio would turn down the chance?

It is more believable that Rubio does not plan to run for governor in 2018. Not because he doesn’t lust after political office, but because he was so badly burned this year by the Fratricide Model. Even Rubio should be able to see that he is less qualified and less deserving than the premier GOP candidate for the job, Putnam.

Putnam served in the Florida Legislature and then went on to serve in Congress for 10 years. Unlike Rubio, Putnam actually performed his job diligently and rose to be the third-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House.

Then, rather than stay in a secure seat in federal office, Putnam chose to return to state politics and has been elected and re-elected as Ag commissioner.

It is worth emphasizing that Putnam’s chosen trajectory brought him voluntarily back to Florida. Rubio’s chosen path was to attempt to move into the White House. Only a failure to reach that goal could bring him the “consolation prize” of a gubernatorial campaign. And even if he were elected governor, he would just treat it as a stepping stone back onto the national stage.

Could Rubio beat Putnam? Considering his drubbing on the Ides of March, the likely answer is no. His decision not to run for governor easily could be a case of sour grapes rather than an example of his newfound humility.

Since Rubio decided to give up his Senate seat, it is hard to see any political path that puts him back on that stage. His best option? Hope that anybody but Trump wins and that Rubio could find a spot in a Ted Cruz or John Kasich administration and bide his time.

But does anyone think that if Rubio saw a chance to return to political prominence he would hesitate to seize it even if it meant running over one of his Republican brethren? Oh, brother.

***

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — White House chief of staff Denis McDonough; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Republican presidential candidate John Kasich; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

___

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Kasich, McConnell; Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

___

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Kasich; Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C.

___

CNN’s “State of the Union” — Kasich, McConnell, Priebus.

___

“Fox News Sunday” — McDonough, Kasich, McConnell.

___

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Martin Dyckman: Donald Trump should release his tax returns, Hillary Clinton her speeches

Thanks to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the campaign for president has become in part a bizarre version of the old celebrity game show, “I’ve Got a Secret.”

This time, however, we know what secrets are being kept. We just don’t know the details, or what devils may be in them.

Clinton’s are the transcripts of those pricey Wall Street speeches.

But that’s petty stuff compared to what may be in Trump’s income tax returns.

Neither candidate has a plausible excuse for stonewalling the public.

Clinton’s evasion — that she’ll release the texts only if other high-priced speechmakers reveal theirs — evokes the image of children on a playground yelling, “Nyah, you can’t make me!”

Moreover, no one else who’s being paid so well for speeches has the potential to populate the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve with Goldman Sachs executives.

But at least we know how much she was paid and who paid it. And she has released her tax returns from 2007 to 2014. The $725,000 she got for the three Goldman Sachs speeches in 2013 — the ones Bernie Sanders has hectored her over — turn out to account for some 8 percent of her speechmaking income that year. That fee per speech, $225,000, was also the standard for nearly all the 38 other appearances she itemized. So much for her rationalizing that “It’s what they offered.”

A few were higher, notably $400,000 for a joint meeting of two Jewish charities in Chicago. If anything should raise eyebrows, it ought to be that.

If there were anything in the Goldman-Sachs speeches as offensive as Romney writing off “the 47 percent,” it would have leaked by now. Her stonewalling may be nothing more than characteristic stubbornness.

To her credit, the itemized list went beyond what the IRS requires. It will be interesting to see whether she posts one for 2014. We are waiting.

That said, Clinton has gone as far as anyone reasonably could ask in disclosing her personal finances and those of husband Bill. Ted Cruz and John Kasich haven’t revealed nearly as much.

In all but two of the years since they left the White House, the Clintons’ effective federal tax rates were at 30 percent or higher (37.5 percent last year). That’s about par for the top 1 percent of American household incomes, and more than many.

This brings us to one very likely reason why Trump is afraid to release his returns.

Considering the loopholes available to real estate speculators like him, along with the various other ways he might minimize his taxes, Trump could have been paying even less than the 14 percent that embarrassed Mitt Romney.

He may even be paying nothing at all.

Were he to disclose as much as the Clintons have — not just the first two pages of the 1040 form but all of the supporting documents and schedules — they could expose him to be something far less than the mega-billionaire he claims to be.

They could reveal business connections that might not be consistent with the discretion and integrity that Americans can reasonably expect of a president. They could show how much he profits from foreign ventures

And they could show that he gives little or nothing to charity.

His excuse for not revealing them — that he’s being audited — is as phony as calling a lecture scam a “university.”

“I am aware of no legal reason why someone could not voluntarily agree to release his tax returns,” explains John R. Crawford, a board-certified tax law expert at Jacksonville, who is a media contact for the Florida Bar.

“I can certainly understand, however, that someone may be reluctant to release a document when there is a very real possibility that it contains errors and will be changed in the near future, whether as a result of an audit or otherwise,” he added. “Also, the more complex the return, the more carefully it would have to be scrutinized before release in order to make sure that any third party confidential information that may be a part of the return (such as tax ID numbers) are redacted.”

Walt Logan, a recently retired Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge who was a CPA before becoming a lawyer, said the same.

“Whatever time is under audit, there is no prohibition against publication by a taxpayer.”

In a divorce or other family law case, he said, “were either party to take the position that they did not want to produce tax returns due to an audit, most judges — me included without doubt — would order the returns produced. The objecting party would have no basis in tax or law or regulations to fight the order.”

The same result — “produce the returns” — would apply in any litigation over debts or damages, “where income is otherwise relevant,” Logan said.

That Trump doesn’t want the public to know how he makes his money or how he spends it is relevant to his suitability for the presidency.

But he is, after all, the man who bragged that he could commit mayhem on Times Square and his followers would ignore it.

He has a point. He lies every time he opens his mouth, and they ignore it. He talks like some uneducated thug off the street, and they not only ignore it — they love it.

Even worse, he’s now threatening mob violence if the Republican convention thwarts him, and his followers really love that.

Keep in mind that he is still short of a majority of all the Republicans who have voted. This makes him the choice of maybe 10 percent of the U.S. population.

The arrogance and contempt symbolized by those secret tax documents speak volumes as to why he does not deserve even that share, much less more.

***

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Bob Sparks: Groups believe Pam Bondi’s endorsement of Donald Trump is somehow corrupt

As Donald Trump marches closer to the Republican nomination for president, more prominent elected officials are endorsing him. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the latest, giving his approval following Trump’s blowout victory in Florida on Tuesday.

The day before the primary, Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed Trump, the part-time resident of Palm Beach County. The reaction by some Republicans to that endorsement is an example of how deep and wide the gulf within the party has become.

While Trump was my fourth choice among Tuesday’s four candidates, I want no part of the “Anybody But Trump” or the “Our Principles” crowd that is now popping up. These are examples of the establishment on steroids.

For her taking such a step, these saviors of the republic believe Bondi is wrongheaded at best and corrupt at worst. The attorney general’s decision to declare her allegiance to the New York billionaire is just that: her decision. Elected officials have free speech rights, too.

It seems Trump’s foundation contributed $25,000 to Bondi’s 2014 re-election campaign after a news story appeared indicating her office was “reviewing complaints” about Trump University. The online school was under severe fire in New York for alleged fraud.

No action was taken in Florida, which must mean Bondi, according to the anti-Trumpers, was bought off by the contribution. Katie Packer, a former Mitt Romney aide, runs Our Principles.

“It’s too bad people defrauded out of money by Trump University don’t have that kind of money to buy an advocate in the Florida Attorney General’s Office,” Packer was quoted as saying by Politico.

Packer’s hyper hyperbole does not withstand scrutiny. Politico’s Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo found the Attorney General’s Office was in possession of a grand total of one complaint on Trump University when the contribution was given.

Here’s how it works. The Office of the Attorney General receives thousands of complaints each year.

Some are multiple complaints about an individual or entity that lead to official investigations. Others involve one or two complaints, which normally do not trigger more than a preliminary examination.

When Bondi’s spokesman stated the preliminary examination “didn’t rise to her level,” this fits the normal pattern of the Chief Legal Officer’s complaint triage operation. In this case, Florida’s sole complaint would be addressed within the actions already being taken by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The complainant was also advised to seek private counsel, mirroring advice routinely dispensed in similar circumstances. The attorney general is not permitted to represent an individual.

To be sure, something clearly was amiss within the hallowed cyber walls of Trump U., but the right entity was taking the lead. As one might expect, Trump referred to Schneiderman as “a political hack.”

“She should have to answer for this,” Packer told Politico. “(Trump) gave her money. There was a problem and she didn’t investigate.”

A one-word response is all that is needed. Nonsense.

Many can agree with Packer that our political system is ill. Unfortunately, she and her former boss are now part of the symptoms.

Count me among those who believe Mitt Romney would have been a good president. Many of us who voted for him remain convinced more people would be working and our nation would not be as polarized had the 2012 election gone his/our way. A majority of voters thought otherwise.

When Romney recently fired his full arsenal of rhetorical Tomahawk missiles at Trump, something happened many thought was not possible; the 2016 campaign sank even lower.

After the Romney speech, the confrontations at Trump rallies grew angrier and more intense. Make no mistake, Trump’s longshoreman-style rhetoric provides him with some culpability, but the outside agitators who instigate the violence have become more emboldened in recent days.

Some of the GOP’s conservative base is buying into Anybody But Trump. The dreaded “third party” talk, with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse among the loudest voices, is increasing.

Sasse, according to Fox News personality Sean Hannity, got into Hannity’s face at CPAC earlier this month for the commentator’s light treatment of Trump, calling it “b******t.” Though we prefer more civility, many conservatives agree that Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have not held Trump to the same conservative litmus test as those administered to Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie.

Now we have one of Romney’s former assistants trying to peddle the story that Pam Bondi is possibly corrupt after committing the sin of endorsing Trump. Want to see what quid pro quo really look like, Katie? Read Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash.

Then you can go back to preserving our principles for us. The rest of us will let the voters decide.

***

Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee. He is also the former chief spokesperson for Attorney General Charlie Crist. Column courtesy of ContextFlorida.

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