Good Governance trumped by Election Anger

img_0154“How can working class Americans vote against their own interests?!?”

Sound familiar?  This was just one twist on the voting results from the 2016 Presidential election posited by Democrats whose candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost despite polls that gave the appearance of an impressive lead.  The query was a vague attempt to rationalize the loss by suggesting a short-sighted view by those working-class/middle class voters who supported Donald T. Trump.

Given the Republican leadership’s inability to control their own herd of cats, it’s too early to determine whether that rationalization is an accurate reflection of the 2016 vote.  Parsing all the Winners from the Losers, when it comes to the 45th President’s administration, may take years.

Separating Winners from Losers does not take nearly that long when one looks at most Local Elections.  By now, some of the unabashed Moderate‘s regular readers may be tiring of my favorite political bumper sticker slogan, courtesy of long-time Democrat politician, Tip O’Neill

All politics is local!”

Now certainly, I cannot speak for the quality of all local political administrations; and for sure some of those that changed hands last week ago did so for legitimate cause.  But I can state unequivocally that one local Pennsylvania upset was nothing more than the expression of Political Anger and Frustration on the part of Democrats.  A state of fury clinging like a bad taste in the mouth for a Party misguided by their own leaders, who felt compelled to give Hillary Clinton just one more shot …


We can all understand their anger and frustration.  We just wish they would come to terms with their anger in more productive ways than punishing local leaders doing good work and building strong, productive communities.  In the case of township elections in Horsham, PA – my own little slice of suburbia – the ranting Group Think did nothing more than punish local officials for decades of efficiency, foresight, and quality governance!

Witness the facts as they relate to last week’s results in Horsham, PA:

  • Local Democrats – a committee in varying forms of disarray largely due to past election failures  – ran the exact same slate of candidates – save one – that figured prominently in their most recent unsuccessful election history.
  • Said Democrats likely spent the same – if not less – than prior elections in money and political groundwork.
  • Republican leadership has successfully piloted the Township through a daunting Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, fraught with implications for future Township growth and economic health, all the while …
  • Maintaining a favorable property and municipal tax position, relative to surrounding townships, which – among other things – allowed the School Board to replace an aging elementary school without tax increases to cover the costs.
  • School Board successfully replaced an outdated elementary school with a state-of-the-art facility without raising school-funding Property Taxes!
  • All of this accomplished without controversy, scandal, or subterfuge.

Certainly Life in Horsham is not always a bed of roses.  Opponents will point to an exasperatingly long BRAC process and the discovery of PFA pollution (perfluorinated compounds) in groundwater resulting from contaminants from the BRAC’ed  military base.  But none of those problems were caused or controlled by local Leadership.

BB6ED508-9B63-4AD2-A8D9-2E3CB166824ALastly, Horsham has been routinely listed in Money Magazine as a “Best Place to Live” community.  And recently was cited by a local NBC affiliate for the dynamic business and employment opportunities and municipal-provided amenities that make the Township a quality environment in which to live and work!

Despite that very favorable reputation and their own personal choice to remain in a township that undoubtedly meets their own definitions for Quality-of-Life, last Tuesday many Democrats chose to bounce two-thirds of a candidate slate whose legacy made much of the above a budget-friendly reality!

We get it!  Democrats are angry, depressed, disillusioned, and looking for Republicans to blame.  And apparently that anger and desperate need to “send a message” was done at the expense of elected officials guilty of nothing more than doing a good job!

“How could you vote against your own interests?!?”

Indeed …







How Pennsylvania flipped to Trump

Berwood A.Yost provides a well-written analysis (See link provided below.) of how Pennsylvania ended up in the Trump column after voting Democrat in 6 consecutive Presidential elections dating back to 1988. In some regards it’s a “Duh … no kidding!” analysis, but it hits squarely on my favorite Tip O’Neill quote, “All politics is local.”
the unabashed Moderate can relate because I tend to concentrate my political efforts towards local politicians and elections, where the effects on everyday – and every voter’s – life is more directly felt. Locally, our Republican leadership has maintained its hold because the Residents appreciate the efficiency of township government; the favorable reputation of our schools; and the efforts to maintain a balance in taxes.
These conditions demonstrate Yost’s conclusion that people tend to vote based on how their communities prosper – or don’t – and whom they credit or blame.
It’s not difficult to extrapolate the same theories to National Politics, as any voter who pays attention can tell when their life is positively – or negatively – affected by what Leadership DOES … and not by what Leadership says or promises. And the theory works not only for explaining why people will vote a certain way, but also why they WON’T support some (e.g. Hillary) even when they represent the legacy of a “favored” outgoing administration.
This may be an all-too-obvious treatment of what happened in November; but it reinforces the concept that people will vote the way they see THEIR lives at that given moment in time … not flowery speeches; personal attacks; or hazy promises of social change.
This is the reason the Democrats have had such a difficult time trying to break into our township government. With all-around successful management, the opposition has no options for offering meaningful change. And our voters appreciate the living environment our long-running municipal leadership has provided!

Hate is Hate … period!

The Unabashed Moderate has a very difficult time making any sense whatsoever from the events in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.  There is no question that the message pushed by white supremacy groups must be countered; shouted down; challenged intellectually at every opportunity.  America has no room for – and certainly should show no tolerance for – the morally corrupt message such groups cling to for whatever misguided and hateful reasoning.

Of that there is no question!

But what does one make of the hate demonstrated by the so-called anti-fascists?

I am an old-fashioned white guy.  I readily admit that.  I will readily admit that our race relations are not where they should be.  I will own up to the fact that racism still exists in this country, although I firmly believe that the actions, speech, and behaviors are much improved over where they stood in the 1960’s and ’70s when I was a much younger white guy.

We aren’t there yet, as was so aptly demonstrated last weekend when the concept of “white  pride” was trotted out under the guise of preserving American History.

Yet the hate we all saw in Charlottesville was hardly one-sided.  Under similar circumstances I do not have a problem with hating the “white pride” message, and the people pushing that message.  To be honest, it’s perfectly understandable that anyone in this day and age could hate white supremacists.

The problem in my mind is that Antifa demonstrated that they are not all that different from the white supremacists when it comes tactics.  Antifa has demonstrated this on numerous occasions.  What happened Saturday was just the latest occasion that their own brand of hate was on display.  They have provided us examples all over the country under the guise of various political, economic, and social causes.

How is WHAT Antifa does any different from that which white supremacists do?  Intimidation, invoking fear and violence, equipping for warfare in the name of protest …

The tragic, unnecessary murder of Heather Heyer was the obvious answer in Charlottesville.  But killing is not generally a tactic of white supremacists in this day and age.  (Please, do not take that as a defense of that heinous act.  It’s simply recognition that in the context of this discussion, what happened on that street in Charlottesville was an aberration of sorts.)

Or put another way … Will anyone be surprised when – not if – Antifa actions, given their current trajectory, result in a death?  I know I will not be surprised.

I must be old-fashioned, because I can remember a day when white supremacists and neo-Nazis were met face-to-face on the public square with nary a punch being thrown.  Arrests and perhaps a scuffle or two, but not wild, pitched battles with pepper spray, human waste as weapons, flame-throwing aerosol cans …

Hate is hate.  Violence is violence.

I do not believe the legitimacy of your stand or the difference in your objective makes the hate any more palatable or acceptable.

It’s easy to spot a white supremacist.  You know what their objectives are; who they hate; and how they will go about expressing that hate.  They want to impose a social order, long rejected by American values even if we still struggle to completely right that boat.

On the other hand, Antifa looks to push several social and political objectives, using not only very similar tactics, but certainly a similar brand of hate as those they purport to reject and work hardily to oppose.  The BIG PROBLEM is they do not hate only white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Antifa – through their very actions – have shown that they also hate Conservatives, Republicans, and people who simply exercised their personal political freedom by daring to vote for and support President Donald Trump.  We have seen this at political rallies, speaker events, world organization meetings, even at local festivals!

In Philadelphia, antifa elements vandalized property simply because they do not like the concept of gentrification.  This despite conventional wisdom that major urban centers depend on the improved tax base to fund important programs like inner city education and municipal services to the benefit of all city dwellers.

Antifa hates people for the way they vote.  They hate people for the way they think.  They hate people for simply assembling in the manner in which they identify themselves as the Portland example demonstrates.

Antifa hate is not limited to those with ancient notions of the relation between the races.  They hate even those with conventional, mainstream political thought.  They hate people simply because they disagree with them.

Their hate is corrosive, violent, and frankly quite deliberate, a political methodology.  And in that regard is no different than racist hate at its basest, most disgusting level.  Antifa may hold higher ground than the racists, but it’s not much higher.

It has always been easy to spot hate grown from the beliefs of white supremacy.  Now we have to be mindful of those whose hate is so easily expressed with violence simply because they disagree.

Tribute to those killed in service at Charlottesville

Why it’s easy to distrust Politicians …

In a stunning development Philadelphia’s District Attorney, Seth Williams, changed his plea to Guilty in a federal corruption trial shortly before the case was to go to the jury.  What was “stunning” was not that Williams pled guilty.  In view of the evidence, guilt was almost a given …

What was stunning was Williams’ position – knowing what he must have known – in allowing his case to go to trial.  What was disheartening was William’s complete indifference to the norms of behavior expected of a high-level law enforcement figure, especially in retrospect to his actions fighting a particular type of State-level misbehavior.

It’s as though Seth Williams believed an entirely different set of rules applied to him.  Unfortunately in Pennsylvaniaone of the most corrupt States in the Union (Fortune’s Top 5 pick!) – this is becoming a trend, particularly in its lead legal counsels.

It’s already irritating enough that I have totally given up on our “leaders” at the National level.  Little appears to ever get done in Washington, D.C. without monumental meltdowns in bipartisan cooperation that begets obstructionism and flat-out guerrilla-style sabotage.

Even when one Party or another controls all facets of legislative governance, they would rather bicker with each other than seek quick, effective actions on the topics with which they seemed to agree.  It’s almost enough to make you give up on Politics in general. 

I often preach the underappreciated importance of Local Elections, where the Voter’s life will be more directly and more quickly affected by Policy and Administration decisions.  But when you look at the corruption found in local Pennsylvania politicians, you have to wonder which collection of nitwits is more troublesome!

former Philadelphia DA Seth Williams

The Williams saga becomes unimaginably depressing when you consider its bizarre intersection with the equally difficult-to-comprehend case of Kathleen Kane, the disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General!
For me it’s even a bit personal … politically speaking.

When Kane was running for Pennsylvania AG, she seemed to fit nicely into my pragmatic brand of political logic that suggests having an opposition party represented in positions of Legal and Budgetary oversight.  When Kane ran, State government was in the control of Republicans.  So I bucked my Party and voted for what appeared to be a qualified opposition candidate.

I may never learn … though I hold no illusions that Republicans are above disillusioning me.

Kathleen Kane quickly fell into dishonor, resulting from her political motivations for blocking the prosecutions of a flock of Philadelphia Democrats caught palming the Abscam-type offerings of a corrupt lobbyist turned State Informant.  Once she revealed the Court-sealed grand jury investigation of a noted Civil Rights figure in an attempt to punish critics formerly employed by the same State AG office, my decision to vote for Kane became a very, very bad one.

former Pennsylvania AG Kathleen Kane

Enter Seth Williams, who heroically stood up for the targets of Kane’s retribution (former prosecutor and investigator) that now worked for him.  In a pointed rebuke to Kane’s political and legal malfeasance, Williams picked up a challenge Kane carelessly tossed at his feet, when in a snit over Williams’ defense of ex-AG staffers, she dared Williams to take up the Philadelphia prosecutions.

Williams did more than just grab the fallen flag.  He successfully prosecuted or obtained pleas of guilt from all of the offenders!

I considered such acts “heroic” for simply having the intestinal fortitude to stand up to a popular – at the time – fellow Democrat.  And I thought, here’s a Democrat with a promising future.

Wrong again …

It appears now that Mr. Williams was much more sinister – deep down – than even Miss Kane, relying on the patronage of rich businessmen to finance a lifestyle he could not afford.  Williams was even accused of raiding his own mother’s fixed-income financial accounts for such things as gym memberships, vacation trips, and expensive club accommodations.

After a lengthy and contentious Dance of Innocence, Mr. Williams finally fessed up to the overwhelming evidence against him and fell on his own sword.  That it might have been the same sword with which he helped slay the career of Kathleen Kane is not particularly comforting or encouraging.

What it does accomplish however, is piercing the notion that ANY politician can be totally trusted no matter how sparkling the exterior!


False Outrage: Presidential Leisure

Truman’s Little White House, Key West, FL

The unabashed Moderate is truly sick and tired of the fake outrage expressed by any Opposition Party at certain presidential activities and benefits our duly elected Presidents are inclined to use to their personal advantage, specifically Presidential vacations.

Those who take note of such things might recall much being made of presidential respites dating as far back as Ronald Reagan (POTUS40), as I certainly do.  Used to be Presidents could enjoy regular escapes from the Machiavellian energy of Washington, D.C.

Harry S Truman (POTUS33) enjoyed “The Little White House” in Key West.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt (POTUS32) enjoyed Hot Springs, AR.

JFK at Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard was a favorite spot for several Presidents, mostly Democrats for some reason (John F. Kennedy, POTUS35; Bill Clinton, POTUS42; Barack Obama, POTUS44).  Richard M. Nixon (POTUS37) loved Key Biscayne, FL.  Both Lyndon Baines Johnson (POTUS36) and George W. Bush (POTUS43) preferred their personal ranches in Texas.  George H.W Bush (POTUS41) frequented the family vacation compound in Kennebunkport Maine.

The venues are as varied as are the personalities who have served as Chief Executives.

Unfortunately, where and how often a President takes a vacation has recently become an outlet for opposition frustration and anger, veiled behind so-called concerns about Costs, compromised National Security, even Global Warming.  In reality, they have become nothing more than another opportunity to toss darts at a President simply because you did not vote for them.

As the unabashed Moderate, my take on Presidential Vacations takes the Politics out of the equation.  And once you do so, you quickly realize the only ones with sufficient cause to complain about such things are those concerned about deficit spending and ballooning National Debt levels.  Assuming – of course – that such complaints are consistent across both Republican and Democrat Administrations.

Bush43 biking his Crawford, Texas ranch

Fat chance, right?

Witness the outraged defense of President Bush43’s habit of enjoying his Crawford, Texas spread on a regular basis morphing into merciless howls of criticism over President Obama’s preference for Hawaiian vacations.  One might have a point arguing the footprint of a presidential junket to speak on Climate Change using a fleet of military planes and helicopters, armored limousines, etc.  Not so much though when it comes to presidential vacations; and here’s why:

  1. Presidents do not get paid a lot of money.  Now before you toss your computer monitor through that nice picture window, consider the economic impact of the US Government vs. that of the largest corporations.  As the ultimate CEO The President is paid but a fraction – a very small fraction in some cases – of the compensation poured upon Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers.  This despite the fact that the fiscal responsibilities and economic impact of the Executive Branch far outpaces the financial influences of most (all?) large corporations.
  2. Another example …  As a lowly mid-level Subject Matter Expert in the Federal Government, I earn a low six-figure salary.  (That’s LOW as in LOW for a six-figure salary, not that a six-figure salary is “low”.)  My responsibilities cover roughly $13 million in direct expenditures I oversee, among other duties. I also participate in the approval cycle for $2 billion in expenditures controlled and executed by others.  By contrast, POTUS will manage a FY18 budget estimated at $3.6 trillion dollars!  The annual salary for POTUS is $200,000., or roughly just double mine. In matters entirely fiscal that comparison is whacked, even if you also make allowance for the non-monetary benefits to which all POTUSes (POTI??) have access.
  3. The Stress of being POTUS (Commander-in-Chief, Chief Executive Officer, de facto Political Party Godfather, etc.) has to be exhausting, draining, deafening, and generally debilitative to any POTUS’ ability to focus, be circumspect, commanding, decisive, etc.  That’s not an ideal recipe for successful performance and decision-making, particularly in times of crisis.
  4. The White House is a fishbowl, hardly the place where any POTUS gets to totally discharge the cumulative aggravation and recharge without the prospect of 3 AM sessions in crisis management and disaster mitigation.
  5. Family life and the Joys of Parenting can suffer significantly in The Fishbowl.  Suggesting a POTUS’ family does not deserve its own escape from White House Suffocation is simply a cruel expectation.

So let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

The Reagan Ranch at Santa Barbara, CA

The REAL reason most critics hammer away at a President’s proclivity for solitude and isolation from the pressure of Washington is – nowadays – always political.  Even those who criticize behind veils of fiscal responsibility or climate change do so because the meme is a quick, easy shot.  But the complainant’s  goal is still the same … throwing a cheap, no frills political Molotov cocktail.

You see it now – too much – whether the President is a Bush, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump.  It’s a silly, entirely lazy reason to disagree with any President.

Claims of limiting greenhouse gases and strains on the U.S. Budget ring hollow when one accepts that Presidents have no control over the costs or the methods for getting them to their preferred vacation spots.  Security – a lot of security – preps and accompanies any presidential trip.  Add atop that the weight of critical National Security equipment, redundancies in methods and tactics, and the support personnel and equipment necessary to make everything hum properly and you get quite the load – both literally and figuratively.  And none of that truly lies within the realistic control of any President.

Security – the overarching requirement – is not negotiable … not even for great deal makers.  Security actually becomes a fairly good argument for any President to have a regular, established (i.e. one favorable to pre-staging equipment, materials, etc.) leisure address whether it be in Texas or Hawaii.

Certainly, a few Presidents have made regular use of such amenities as Camp David.  But as President Trump recently remarked, “Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it. You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes …“.  If you are the active, cosmopolitan, and/or adventurous type, you might need a little more to shed the weight of being The Leader of The Free World.

Let’s just give that false outrage a break … and The Presidents – all of them – one too!






A Moderate and a Cafeteria Catholic walk into a Bar …

A Moderate and a Cafeteria Catholic walk into a Bar … The bartender walks towards them, asking “What will it be …?”

They look around apprehensively as if searching for unfriendly faces; point to each other; and say in unison, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

A cafeteria Catholic is typically defined as one who picks and chooses what Catholic teaching he wants to believe. Catholics are not free to choose which teachings (on faith and morals) to obey.  Even when the Church has not spoken on a matter of faith or morals definitively (infallibly), the faithful must give “a religious submission of the intellect and will” to its teachings (CIC 752).  – Taken from

diners-at-a-buffetThe term “cafeteria Catholics” is one feared by those who love the Roman Catholic Church yet hold more liberal – or progressive – views of social issues vs. the expectations of their religious devotions.  Such Catholics are viewed by Church conservatives as weak in their faith for not being able to toe-the-line on every dogma-driven social proclamation made by Church leadership.  The term “cafeteria Catholic” is almost as harsh as “heretic”.

There are some parallels between the disdain of Catholic Traditionalists for the Cafeteria Catholic and that displayed by the Right and Left express towards Political Moderates.

If you think this is just “a Republican issue”, consider the reactions of many Bernie Sanders supporters when the DNC Establishment prevailed in the guise of dear Hillary!  Of course that reaction had a few layers to it, partly involving the DNC’s politics and Hillary’s less-than-transparent and outright dishonest representations.


This may well worsen for the Democrat Party with the radicalism Liberals are exhibiting in their efforts to resist the new political order in the U.S.  We may yet see a purging of Moderates from the ranks of Democrats in the interests of anti-Trump demagoguery.  To compromise on any approach to the Trump Administration may be fraught with political peril!

political litmus testing

As a Republican, I saw the purge of the Moderates in the GOP crystallizing with the introduction of the dreaded political litmus test a decade or so ago during early stages of the GOP’s primary season.  Many a well-qualified candidate were eliminated from the field after failing conservative litmus tests on social issues like abortion, gay rights, etc.

In my previous blog existence, I decried the lack of or underground nature of Moderates in the GOP.  Republicans have a unique method for outing and attempting to run off those with less-than-total-Conservative blood lines.  It’s the derogatory RINO label!

One’s Republican bona fides may well be properly aligned in areas of government size, national security, and economic policy; yet to support – or an open mind – on women’s choice, gays in the military, a softer approach to immigration, or any other touchstone issues could determine the difference between Insider and Outsider.  The same goes for Democrats when it comes to immigration, gender and women’s rights, and the classic example of climate change!

There is a significant difference however in the character of criticisms leveled at political Moderate vs. that used to criticize those cafeteria Catholics.  One the religious side Roman Catholic dogma, dictated at the highest levels of the Church define what makes a Catholic in good standing.

That’s just not the case when one speaks to political beliefs.

Neither political party in the U.S. defines a set of beliefs or positions required for membership or good standing.  Many constituents may believe there is such a standard, which is how their party ends up with a high proportion of extremists (Far Left or Far Right).

unknown-3This is not good politics.  Used to be you could have Conservatives in the Democratic Party and Liberals in the Republican Party.  Not so much anymore … Not so much for a long time now.

In my humble opinion, both parties suffer from the intransigence that takes root when you have little in the way of membership to balance out the extremes on balance board.  It also makes nearly impossible any attempts to “broaden the tent”; expand the voter base; and deny the other party diversity in positions and appeal.  This is how we arrived in time where obstructionism is considered a viable political tactic.

The result is NOTHING gets done.

Dogma, whether it be explicit and well-defined or implied through behavior, is not a suitable tool for maximizing an organization’s outreach.  It’s also a killer of compromise and progress (i.e. not progress as in “Progressive”, progress as in movement towards the collective benefit).  The anchor points of dogma – both Liberal and Conservative – contribute mightily to political polarization.


We see this obstructionism played out directly with the behavior of the U.S. Congress.  The inevitable change in political leadership now leads immediately to the mindset that EVERYTHING opposing leadership wants to pursue must be bad – in the political sense – as opposed to simply disagreeable with standards of governance.  Both American political parties have displayed this behavior by allowing the extremes to push a political goal instead of working within a loose cooperation to mitigate the disagreeable and gain political weight through prudent compromise.

The solution is both simple and daunting.

Simple in that the promotion of moderate political positions is as easy as giving greater voice publicly, particularly at the ballot box.  Daunting in that the extremes are more highly motivated; enjoy the attention of the Media that gravitates toward loud and controversial; and can be politically ruthless towards those lukewarm to their passions.

This may well be the most positive development from the Trump victory in November.  Trump is no Conservative.  He’s barely even a Republican.  But his election proves that more moderate political stances do have an attraction for voters, even if one can argue that it was Trump’s political-outsider status that was a much bigger influence.

Trump’s victory aside simplest – and most politically sensible – solution is for the major parties to embrace rather than shunning moderate views.  Yes, more extreme politics drives excitement (Remember the ends of the political spectrum are more motivated.) and fund-raising.  But when it comes to vote totals, the Middle is a much more fertile patch to cultivate.

The more difficult solution is getting the Moderate Middle to become more vocal.  More than voicing its preferences at the ballot box … They need to push for moderate political candidates.  Get involved in their local and state-wide political parties .  Make their views more pointedly and publicly at town halls, candidate forums, pushing a message that Cooperation, Pragmatism, and Compromise are more productive and not signs of weakness.

Yes … This prescription is anathema to the nature and political philosophy of the Moderate.  We tend to be complacent, too busy, or put off by the demands of politics and its dirty underbelly.  But without moderating influences, we will continue to suffer the dogma of political extremes.