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Losing my sense of humor

Here’s what angers me most about the election of Donald Trump. It’s not the ridiculous policies. It’s not the corruption. It’s not the close association with the alt-right. It’s not the thin-skinned tweets. It’s not any of those things.

It’s that I don’t find all of that funny. And I should. Because it is.

I’m losing my sense of humor. This cannot be allowed.

Imagine that someone wrote a satire about a newly elected US President, a businessman with zero political experience. Let’s imagine that the screenplay or play or novel included a montage scene of congratulatory phone calls, from heads of state to the new President-elect. So the Scottish political leader calls, and the new President accepts his good wishes, then mentions how annoying wind farms are. Especially when they block the view at his/my/the President’s Scottish golf course. “Of course,” says the Scottish leader. “We’ll get right on it.” That scene would be funny, right? And then the Argentinian President calls, and the P-E mentions permitting problems the business is having for a skyscraper they want to build in Buenos Aires. Of course, in on those phone calls would be the P-E’s former supermodel daughter, now officially running the various Presidential businesses. Seriously; funny stuff, amiright?

The days after the election, I moped around the house, all depressed. I tried to find solace with my friends–John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah–only they seemed as discombobulated as I felt. It’s like we all forgot how to be funny, or how to laugh. I was heartsick for my country, depressed, close to despair in fact, that somehow America had voted for this orange-face, small-handed, thin-skinned buffoon. And I was angry. I was furious. At everyone and anything. Those losers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida; especially them.

If Mitt Romney had won in 2012, or John McCain in 2008, I would have been fine with it. Not my preferred candidate, but an honorable man, capable, and a patriot–we could certainly do worse. That’s how I would have felt. Not now. Not this semi-Klan walking dumpster fire. Not this incoherent demagogue.

And that’s funny. My misplaced anger and sorrow and frustration. It’s funny; if I (we) lose my (our) ability to laugh at my (our) selves, then what else do we have?

And so we see Trump’s appointments, the people he’s going to hire to help run his government. And it just gets funnier. Someone who hates public education as Secretary of Education. A more-or-less open racist as Attorney General. Someone who hates Obamacare for Health and Human Services. My favorite is his choice for White House Attorney, the guy who is supposed to be the ethical conscience of the White House. He announced Don McGahn for the role. McGahn was Tom DeLay’s attorney. You remember Trump’s ‘drain the swamp’ campaign pledge? McGahn’s the swamp. Probably the most corrupt attorney in Washington will be the Trump White House’s ethical watchdog.

Elaine Chao was named Transportation Secretary. The headline in Slate’s story pointed out, in tones of shock and surprise, that she’s actually qualified for the job.

All this stuff is funny. I mean, it’s kind of a grim kind of humor. How else do you report the fact that Donald Trump’s closest advisor, Steve Bannon, worked previously as CEO of a website beloved by white supremacists and, you know, the Klan? It’s one of those jokes without a punch line; you just report the facts and you get the laugh.

And it’s hard to laugh sometimes. I get it; it’s hard to find this stuff funny. Our country is falling from the sky, like Slim Pickens at the end of Dr. Strangelove, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. Gravity has taken over. But Dr. Strangelove is an amazingly funny movie.

It’s the end of the world as we know it. And I don’t feel fine. But we still have to laugh. We still have to make jokes. Trump may destroy our country. But he cannot destroy our humanity.

 

Rebuilding the Democratic party

I have a candidate for the new chair of the Democratic National Committee.

There are a couple of problems. Potential problems. Well, okay: problems. For one thing, my candidate has never worked in politics. For another, I don’t know if my candidate is a Democrat. (JK: he is). And I get that that could be a deal-breaker. If he’s a Republican, he might not be completely committed to, you know, do what the DNC chair is supposed to be do: elect Democrats.

Though he could hardly be worse at it than Deborah Wasserman Schultz was.

Still, I’m making a serious proposal here. I’m suggesting a genuine, thinking-outside-of-the-box pick, fresh thinking. I mean, we’d need to ask if he’s interested, and if he’s a Democrat. But if the answer to both questions is yes, this guy has a track record. 

I nominate Theo Epstein for DNC chair.

Theo Epstein. Team President of the Chicago Cubs. The guy who built the World Series champs. The Cubs had not won the World Series since 1908. They were a bad team, a team of losers. Then they hired Theo Epstein, in 2011. Took him five years to build a winner. Course, he’d done it before. His first gig was as General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, another sad sack franchise, another team that hadn’t won, a team on an 86 year losing streak. He was hired by the Sox in 2002, at the age of 29, the youngest General Manager in baseball at the time, and one of the youngest in baseball history. They won the World Series in 2004. To repeat: the two most storied losers in baseball history hired this brilliant young guy, and in two years and five years, respectively, he’d built them into winners.

He’s 42 years old. He’s never not succeeded, spectacularly. He has no more professional mountains to climb. And he may well be looking for a different kind of challenge.

Here’s the Epstein method. He identifies and acquires underutilized talent. That’s it. He loves data and he loves computer geeks. He puts together a team of really smart guys, and they comb through player personnel records and they find talented guys who aren’t being valued by their teams, guys who, in Epstein’s words ‘are just about to break.’ Look at this year’s World Champion Cubs. Their best player (and team leader) Anthony Rizzo, batted .141 in his rookie year with the San Diego Padres. Epstein traded an okay pitcher, Andrew Cashner, for him, and Rizzo’s now a star. Likewise their best pitcher, Jake Arrieta. Struggled with the Orioles; Epstein traded a back-up catcher for him. Epstein does this all the time. Identify talent; develop it; motivate it; reap the benefits.

Okay, imagine that skill set in the DNC. Because, let’s face it, the number one task of the Democratic party has to be to rebuild the party from the ground up. State legislators, city council members, school board members. In the last election, it was depressing to see all the races in which the Republican was running unopposed. Granted, I live in Utah. Still, the Democratic party needs to compete; we need to compete everywhere. In the last election, the Democratic candidate for the US Senate from Utah was a woman who worked as a clerk at a grocery store. Nice lady, but she had no credentials. Shouldn’t the DNC have discouraged that? Encouraged her to run instead for the state legislature? Build a resume, get experience, start modestly. Wouldn’t that have been better than just running someone who was going to get clobbered?

That’s what Theo Epstein is great at. Find and identify talented people, put them in a position to succeed, motivate them, coach them up, and give them the resources to succeed. Oh, and one more thing: nobody outworks Theo Epstein. There’s a reason a 29 year old was given the reins of the Boston Red Sox.

He’s also personable, an excellent interview. He’s very comfortable hanging out with rich guys–has to be, to succeed in baseball. And there’s also this; he’s every bit as great at understanding and responding to the needs of ordinary folks. Both in Boston and Chicago, he’s made ‘improving the fan experience’ a high priority. He listens, in other words. He makes sure all the seats are comfortable, all the bathrooms clean, all the refreshments tasty.  He’d be an outsider, if he ran for DNC chair. That’s a good thing. He’s the best possible guy for the job. You know, if he’s a Democrat.

(Which, by the way, he is. He strongly supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign, with a big donation). When one of his players (Arrieta, in fact), came out for Trump, Epstein responded: “Tolerance is important, especially in a democracy. The ability to have honest conversations, even if you come from a different place, is fundamentally important.” He didn’t reprimand the player, nor did he reprimand Curt Schilling, the famously conservative former Red Sox player, when he spoke out. In both instances, Epstein found an opportunity to have a conversation with the guy. And, with both guys, cordially agree to disagree.

We probably can’t afford him. Epstein makes ten million a year to run the Cubs. But he’s the perfect choice.

In the real world, the DNC chair will probably be Keith Ellison. He’s the only Muslim in Congress, a strong Bernie Sanders supporter, a great choice in most ways. And there are other fine candidates. But really, it should be Theo Epstein. Right man for a tough and important job. Let’s see if we can make it happen.

 

 

Russia

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Marx. That is to say: Groucho.

Russia has lousy weather. The one time I was there, in the summer, it rained a lot, and of course, Napolean and Hitler can tell you all about the impact Russian winters can have on military invasions. But, you know, you cope. That’s life as a Russian: coping. You carry an umbrella, wear warm shoes, keep a jacket around. Moscow has a fabulous subway system, so you can get around. And when I was there, years before Uber, amateur cab drivers would drive you anywhere, especially if you had American currency.

When I was there, Boris Yeltsin was President, and he was struggling. He was a democracy warrior, but the Russian economy was in a bad way, and Yeltsin’s health was poor, not least because the man enjoyed his vodka. But Russia was a free country. They were proud of that fact, though they didn’t seem to know what it meant. Free press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion. It was a heady time. For us American visitors too. We thought that having a MacDonald’s across the street from the Moscow Art Theater was impossibly cool.

And I was impressed by their kids. I worked with some of their theatre students, and they were all terrific; energetic, bright, optimistic. Russians are resilient, with a do-it-yourself inventiveness. I was there with an international theatre conference, and they were all excited because the KGB had been forced to open up their files. The week I arrived, there was particular excitement because they had just discovered the KGB files for Meyerhold. Vsevelod Meyerhold, one of the great director/theorists in the history of theatre, murdered by Stalin in 1940. It was incredibly exciting, seeing KGB secret stuff about him, including rehearsals that the police had secretly taped. Reprehensible, of course, but you also got to see this grainy old footage of Meyerhold conducting a rehearsal. It seemed full of portents. Russia: free!

Under Putin, that’s not so much true anymore. No more freedom of the press, not really. No satire TV shows, like The Daily Show or the Samantha Bee/John Oliver shows. They still have satire, of course; they’re Russians, their greatest national play is Gogol’s The Inspector General. But dissent, again, is all underground. There is an emerging 21st century samizdat (that wonderful Soviet term for clandestine publications), critical of Putin and harshly repressed, but circulating nonetheless, especially on social media.

As I understand it, this is Russia now (and I’m certainly no Russian expert, so if I’m wrong, let me know!). Russians today don’t enjoy the political freedoms we Americans took for granted a week ago. Russians can vote, for representatives in the Duma, but their votes don’t really mean anything. You can criticize the government, but you have to be quiet about it, and only talk to people you know you can trust.

Religious freedom does exist, and the Russian Orthodox Church has made a comeback. You can worship, if you belong to the right, officially-approved-of faiths, but not if you’re Muslim or Jewish. And this new Orthodoxy has a distinct downside. Russia has become insanely homophobic. Legally homophobic, culturally hate-filled. Just a horrible place to be gay. And yes, you can listen to the music of their most famous punk band, Pussy Riot, but you risk arrest if you try to see them live.

The economy’s tanking. The Russian stock market crashed recently. But oil prices are rising again, and the economy is bouncing back. Long-term, of course, Russia’s doomed economically. Their continued prosperity, such as it is, depends too much on their oil reserves, and the world is moving towards electric cars. And because they don’t have the political freedom to be open to new ideas. That’s one problem with crony capitalism, corruption and dictatorship. Those aren’t good recipes for growth. They have dazzling computer engineers, and they waste their time working as hackers.

Their housing is undisputably improving. When I was there, everyone crowded into these insanely depressing identical high-rise apartment buildings, made of crappy commie concrete and ugly as sin. Now St. Petersburg is seeing a housing boom, as is Moscow. So if you’re an upwardly mobile urban dweller with some money, you probably have more living space than your parents ever did.

So that’s the point. If you have a job, if you have training, if you have some savings, you can survive in Russia. If you’re straight, and orthodox in your religious beliefs, and willing to keep your mouth shut about politics, you’d be able to handle living there. Consumer goods are available. The long-term outlook isn’t very good, and you’re not really free, not in the way we Americans are used to. And I’m certainly not suggesting anyone should move there. But it’s not a terrible place.

Because I’m very much afraid that’s what we have to look forward to here, in the US. With the Presidency of Donald Trump, that’s what our next four years are likely to look like. Russia. Until the economy tanks; then it’ll get worse. So, for now: Russia. Putin got the President he wanted and worked for: and we get to lose our country, at least for a few years.

Hope we get it back soon.

Conflicts of interest

In 1921, President Warren Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, leased petroleum reserves in Teapot Dome Wyoming to several private companies. Sweetheart deal for those companies; they got no-bid contracts at extremely favorable rates. Fall’s standard of living also suddenly and suspiciously improved. The Senate got involved, investigated, and it turned out that Fall had accepted bribes. He ended up in prison.

The Teapot Dome scandal remains about the one thing anyone remembers about the Harding administration. You think ‘corruption in government,’ and Harding comes immediately to mind, despite the fact that he wasn’t the guy taking bribes. Anyway, that’s what corruption in government is. It’s Albert Fall. It’s what we call it when a politician uses the power of government to get rich.

Which is why the Presidency of Donald Trump, which hasn’t started yet, is shaping up to be the most corrupt in history. That’s even assuming he makes a good faith effort to govern honestly. But the web of Trump-owned businesses is so entangled with government interests, even if Trump doesn’t personally profit (or only profits to the degree that his businesses are successful), it looks terrible. And could break the law.

When the older President Bush became vice-President, he turned his stock portfolio over to a blind trust, so he could avoid the very appearance of conflicts of interest. Jimmy Carter did the same with his peanut farm when he became President. And yes, President-elect Trump has said he’ll turn over the management of his company to his kids, an arrangement he calls ‘a blind trust.’ But it isn’t. That’s not what a blind trust is. And he’s already vetting Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka for White House jobs.

The New York Times did a big story a couple of days ago about some of the more obvious Trump conflicts of interest. For example, Trump International turned the Old Post Office in Washington into a luxury hotel. The government still owns the property, and the General Services Administration manages it. Trump International runs the hotel, and profits from it. And President Trump appoints the head of the GSA. The President also appoints members of the National Labor Relations Board, which would also decide union disputes against his hotels. As it did last week, for a Trump hotel in Las Vegas.

In both of these instances, the federal government, the executive branch of which President Trump runs, will be potentially involved in resolving disputes with Trump-owned businesses, from which President Trump personally profits. Are there are other, similar conflicts. Hard to say–Trump hasn’t released his financial information.

There’s also Article One, Section Nine of the Constitution. Here’s the text:

No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Mr. Trump has business interests all over the world, and with many foreign governments. Remember during the campaign when Trump took a few days off from campaigning so he could show off his new golf course in Scotland? If he profits from any business deal with a foreign government, he could well be charged with violating the Emolument clause of the Constitution.

Remember the reason Trump gave for why he couldn’t release his tax returns? He’s being audited, he said. Audited, that is, by the Internal Revenue Service, whose director President Trump appoints. He’ll also nominate the Treasury Secretary, at the same time he owes millions of dollars to banks.

There’s also Michael Flynn. He was Trump’s first choice to be Secretary of Defense, a position he may be legally prohibited from accepting. He could be National Security Advisor, though. Right now, he works for a lobbying business. And one of his clients is Turkey. Again, at least a potential conflict of interest.

I just wonder if Trump even gets it. It’s not just that he’s a yugely successful businessman. It’s that a lot of his business success comes from his name, from marketing ‘Trump’ as a trademark. He’s 70 years old. He’s been a salesman his entire life. I’m not sure if the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ even registers for him. I’m sure he’s thinking ‘if I’m President, I won’t have time to run my company. I’ll just let the kids do it.’ And that’s it; that’s all; problem solved. But it’s not, not even remotely. It’s going to be a long two years. (That’s how long I give him before his impeachment).

 

 

Arrival: Movie Review

Arrival is one of the best movies of the year, one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, and just generally one of those movies that is as much fun to think about days later as it was to watch. It’s beautiful, with a lovely musical score; my wife compared it to Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, which is also very strange, and is only one of our favorite movies ever. It’s also deeply, darkly cynical about human nature. Although this isn’t in any way a plot point, it does, kind of, ask the question ‘does mankind deserve, morally, to exist?’ The answer is, at best, an equivocal maybe. And also, of course we do. Of course.

Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguistics professor. As the movie begins, she goes to her class, starts her lecture, and it takes her a second to notice that there are almost no students there, and the ones who are there are intently focused on social media. Because alien space ships have landed, twelve of them, scattered randomly across the world, and everyone’s freaking out.

Among those freaking out is a Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), who wants her to join an effort to try to communicate with the aliens. Louise agrees, and is partnered with a physicist (Jeremy Renner), Ian Donnelly. They head out to Montana, where a camp full of various soldiers and technicians monitor this huge, majestic, absurdly vertical alien space ship. Louise and Ian immediately form a congenial, collegial partnership, despite their different disciplines–he figures out immediately that this is her thing, and she’s really good at it, and he’s better off in a subordinate role. The army guys, though, especially a mysterious Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg), don’t get this at all. Louise has to carefully, patiently, explain the most basic concepts in linguistics to them, and they always seem suspicious. And of course, every visit to the alien craft, Ian and Louise are accompanied by a team of utterly superfluous security personnel, who range from useless to really really dangerous.

Meanwhile, three things keep happening. First, Louise is troubled by what appear to be flashback dreams of her young daughter, who she adored, and who died in her early teens of some unspecified terrible disease. (Or are they memories? Or something else?). Second, we keep seeing how the rest of the world is dealing with what newscasters call ‘the alien crisis.’ There are, after all, twelve of them, and the other nations in which they appear each have similar teams trying to communicate with the creatures, which have seven legs and which everyone has taken to calling ‘heptopods.’ And third, as Louise breaks through conceptually, and actually learns some of the heptopods’ language, she is increasingly convinced that their intentions are benign. This, despite the fact that one of their ‘words’ is, apparently, ‘weapon.’ (Which, she quickly tells the skeptical members of the team, could as easily be translated ‘tool’).

And, as she gets closer and closer to understanding the heptopods, the rest of the world grows increasingly hostile. A Chinese General, Shang (Tzi Ma), leads an international effort to attack and, if possible, destroy the heptopod ships, and the news gets increasingly frenzied. The soldiers in the Montana camp are not immune to it; they grow ever more frightened, and therefore, ever more dangerous. And this is one of the movie’s most essential insights–that we human beings become irrational when we get scared, and that we tend to respond to fear with paranoia, tribalism and violence. And, of course, that’s absolutely true. It’s a genuine insight into human nature.

Some critics have compared Arrival to Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which makes sense; both movies are, after all, about an essentially benign alien encounter, and an attempt at alien communication. In fact, the film’s score, by Icelandic composer Johann Johannson, was a strong enough presence in the first scene in which Louise sees the alien ships that I was reminded of John Williams’ musical conversation with the aliens in Close Encounters. I love the Spielberg film, but Arrival provides a deeper, richer, truer pleasure. In Close Encounters, the humans greet the aliens rapturously, as Richard Dreyfuss heads fearlessly off to his own, personal, Close Encounter. In Arrival, mankind doesn’t play tuba music to the heptopods. Instead, some of our soldiers try to blow them up. And internationally, General Shang puts together a massively armed coalition. When Vikings first encountered the North American people they called the skræling, their first thought was to kill them and cut them open, to see if they were human.

(Worth pointing out that I saw Arrival a few days after the United States of American elected Donald Trump as President. Fear causes us to do irrational things sometimes).

But here’s what else the film does. It posits the truthfulness of linguistic relativity, of a radical and controversial notion in linguistics called the Sapir/Whorf theory. That theory posits that the structure of a language affects human cognition. That how we communicate can literally rewire our brains. It’s a theory linguists go back and forth on, and as Louise first explains it to the army guys, it’s clear that she’s something of a skeptic. But the film takes it very seriously indeed. In fact, it’s the solution; it’s the way the problem gets solved, not just the problem of learning how to write heptopod, but the problem of human fear and resultant violence.

I’m not going to give away the film’s ending. But it’s such a pleasure seeing a big budget Hollywood sci-fi film that takes ideas seriously, a film that respects our intelligence, a film in which linguistic erudition is the key to understanding the plot. And in which the plot can, in fact, be understood, because the film explains clearly the important ideas at its core.

And it’s a movie about pain, and loss, and the kind of human connection that becomes possible when we suffer together, when we acknowledge the core of aching loss we hold in common with other humans. It’s a movie with an ending that digs deeper, both intellectually and emotionally, when it comes time to resolve the questions it raises. It’s shattering.

Denis Villenueve directed, from a screen adaptation by Eric Heisserer, based on Ted Chiang’s superb short story “Story of your Life.” Heisserer spent ten years getting producers interested in his spec screenplay, which he wrote because he loved the story and couldn’t not write it. I get that. And they cast Amy Adams for the best of reasons; her wonderfully communicative eyes, eyes that tell the story from the inside of this one, hurting woman. I fell in love with the film that resulted. So will you.

Trump’s first 100 days, the legislative agenda

Following up on yesterday’s post, in which I outlined Donald Trump’s agenda for his first 100 days in office. Here, then, is his legislative agenda.

  1. Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. The title’s misleading; this is a tax cut for billionaires. Trump says it’s designed to grow the economy at 4% a year, and create 25 million new jobs. Those figures are fantasies; his plan will do nothing of the kind. Essentially, he wants to reduce the current 7 tax brackets to 3, with corporate taxes reduced from 35% to 15%. The highest tax bracket, currently 43.6%, would drop to 33%. He claims it would provide a 35% tax cut for middle class families with 2 children. But that depends on what you mean by ‘middle-class’. Poor families will derive no benefit from it at all. The big point is that the Trump tax cut is so huge, it will add trillions to the deficit. Of course, Trump supporters insist that those concerns are overstated; that the Trump tax cuts will free up trillions of dollars for domestic investment, that the corporate tax cut will incentivize companies that have moved off shore to come back. There’s no reason to think any of that will happen. Essentially, Trump’s economic plan is an argument that our two highest national priorities must be to let rich people get richer, and corporate profits to be higher. ‘Cause if we do, fairies and unicorns will flourish.
  2. End the Offshoring Act. Would use tariffs to discourage companies from moving jobs overseas. Sounds good; won’t work.
  3. American Energy and Infrastructure Act. Leverages private/public partnerships and private investments through tax breaks to spur 1 billion dollars in infrastructure investment. Okay, what does that mean? Some liberals are actually applauding this plan, saying that maybe infrastructure is an area where we can work with Trump. And, in fact, building bridges and highways and electric grids is a public good. And needs to be done, efficiently and effectively. Which Trump’s plan won’t accomplish. See, he wants to privatize it. First, by offering a trillion dollars in bonds, which people can invest in. Then letting private contractors do the building, with profits built into their bids. So why is this bad? First of all, it incentivizes construction companies to maximize profits by skimping on road quality. It also incentivizes the private sector to profit from public projects. That’s the private/public partnership part; you give private businesses control over a city’s water supply, or parking meters, or toll roads. Prices rise, quality falls. This is, in other words, ideological. Private good/public bad. That’s nonsense. You end up with roads built where they’re not needed, and badly needed projects in poorer communities neglected.
  4. School Choice and Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to allow parents the right to send their kids to any school they want to–religious, charter, private, magnet, or home school. Trump’s plan is a mishmash, frankly. Most federal funding goes to Title 1 schools; schools that are struggling, in poor areas of the country. It’s reasonable to assume that ‘redirecting federal education dollars’ to ‘promote choice’ means more money going to more affluent districts, to increase choice. As for the rest of it, who knows? He wants to end Common Core; but that’s not really a federal program. Right now, about all we can say is that, under Trump, public education takes it on the chin. This might also end school testing, which is the only good thing about it.
  5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare. That was always inevitable; you can’t really campaign harder against something than Trump campaigned against the ACA, and Republicans in Congress hate it too. The ‘replace’ part is the tricky one. Health Savings Accounts are the hot conservative idea right now. But they’ll only really help upper middle class people, and will prove inadequate for people with major medical events. ‘Selling insurance across state lines’ sounds good. Health insurance is generally cheaper in Utah than in New Jersey, for example. That’s because Utah insurance companies have negotiated prices with Utah providers. A New Jersey resident can buy Utah-based insurance, but he’ll have to visit Utah doctors, pharmacies, clinics. Also, what will happen to people with pre-existing conditions? What about children under 26, who, under the ACA, can keep their parents insurance? Repealing Obamacare will accomplish one thing; it will deprive millions of Americans of health coverage. People are going to die.
  6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. A tax deduction for childcare and eldercare. It will provide no benefit whatever for families who don’t pay federal income tax. In other words, this is a great deal for Ivanka Trump. She gets to deduct her nanny’s salary from her taxes. But you single Moms out there, desperately trying to make ends meet? Won’t help you one iota.
  7. End Illegal Immigration Fully. In other words, Trump’s building a wall. And Mexico’s going to pay for it. Also, if you’re deported once, and try to come back, you can get five years in federal prison. It’s just not possible adequately to express how loathsome everything about this proposed legislation is. I do rather hope that reasonable Republicans will temper this bill somewhat. I also don’t believe the wall’s ever getting built. I think we’re going to end up with a huge pile of concrete and rebar somewhere in Texas or Arizona. The question is, how long will it take Trump’s economic plan to bankrupt the government? I think we’ll run out of money to finish the wall. Hope so; what a stupid racist idea.
  8. Restoring Community Safety Act. It will create a National Task Force on Violent Crime, and give money to local police departments for extra training on how to do deal with gangs. Obama’s already done most of this, and in fact, violent crime is lower now than any time in the last fifty years. But I suppose some more money for cops isn’t a terrible idea. Lester Freamon gets to keep his Wire going a little longer.
  9. Restoring National Security Act. It increases Defense spending, because of course it does. It provides some money for efforts to reduce cyber attacks, like the Russian hacks that got Trump elected. Here’s the nasty part: “establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values.” We’re going to ensure the loyalty (already unquestioned) of Muslim Americans by making their lives suck a little more.
  10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. He wants to Drain the Swamp, he says. As he goes into the White House still owning businesses providing him with the most blatant conflicts of interest in the history of the Presidency.

So. That’s the legislative agenda. He’ll get most of it through. None of its likely to do any good at all. It’s going to be a long four years.

Trumps first 100 days, annotated

Donald Trump is President. What does that mean? What will his agenda be?

Fortunately, back in October, he gave a speech in, of all places, Gettysburg PA, outlining his plans for his first 100 days in office. These are just his priorities as President; it does not include his legislative agenda. Here’s the text. I thought I would go through it with you, with commentary.

  1. Propose a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Congress. Constitutional amendments are really really hard to pass. This won’t make it through the Senate.
  2. A hiring freeze on all federal agencies, to reduce the size of government through attrition (exempting the military, public safety and public health). He’ll be able to do this. It’s one of those ideas that looks okay on paper, but ends up being practically unworkable.
  3. A requirement that for every regulation passed, two other regulations have to be eliminated. A nightmare to implement, with the probable result being all sorts of comical negotiation between agencies. The underlying assumption, of course, is that all regulations are bad, period. That’s nuts.
  4. A five year ban on federal employees and Congresspeople becoming lobbyists after leaving public office. I think he can’t just do this one; it’ll require Congressional action. So good luck; Congresspeople like lucrative lobbying jobs.
  5. A lifetime ban on White House employees becoming lobbyists for foreign governments. Is this seriously a problem? He actually might get this dumb idea through Congress.
  6. A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections. As opposed to hacking DNC computers? Does anyone doubt that the Russian-hacked Wikileaks revelations contributed to Trump’s victory?
  7. Renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from it per article 2205. Yes, as it happens, the US can unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA. What would happen? Well, the last time the US withdrew from a previously negotiated trade agreement was 1866; there’s no precedent here. Pulling out of NAFTA absolutely will wreak havoc on American business. It almost certainly will start a trade war. It won’t bring back any jobs, and it will lead to a price hike for a whole range of consumer products. Positives? There really aren’t any. But, yeah, article 2205 says he can do it.
  8. Announce the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership. That one was inevitable. Again, Article 30-6 says we can just unilaterally withdraw. If we really want trade wars with most of the countries along the Pacific Rim. Consumer prices should rise, and the negotiated intellectual property rights provisions will be null and void. Watch how long it takes Vietnam to reverse-engineer I-phones.
  9. China declared a currency manipulator. Okay, this is complicated. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article that explains it pretty succinctly. Essentially, China’s monetary policy involves a small amount of currency manipulation, just as America’s monetary policy involves a similar amount of interest rate manipulation. It’s not a big deal either way; a normal exercise in sovereignty. As the WSJ concludes: “Movements in the nominal yuan exchange rate have almost no long-term impact on global flows of exports and imports or on broader considerations such as average wages.” In other words, worrying about Chinese currency manipulation is typical Trumpian nonsense. Yeah, they do it, so do we, and it’s not a big deal either way. But making this kind of official declaration, by Treasury, would be bitterly resented by the Chinese, and could result in a trade war. And China, as a market for imported goods, is just about ready to explode.
  10. The Department of Commerce will identify “all foreign trading abuses.” This one won’t mean much, honestly.
  11. Lift restrictions on the production of American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. Screw environmental safeguards, in other words. Trump thinks this will free up 50 trillion dollars worth of energy reserves. “Fifty trillion dollars” is a nice, big number Trump just invented. Here’s what this means: fracking. You know those rural communities that voted for him? They’re going to be able to light their drinking water on fire.
  12. Allow ‘vital energy infrastructure projects’ to go forward. In other words, the Keystone Pipeline’s getting built. Big deal. Both opposition to and support for Keystone was always more symbolic than anything–it’s a minor issue on its merits.
  13. Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. The US commitment to lead the international effort to combat climate change just went pffft. And no, that money’s not getting spent on infrastructure. Bet that’s what pays for The Wall.
  14. Cancel every executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama. In other words, petty spitefulness and partisan rancor are officially the policy of the Trump administration. I do know that the Right dislikes some Obama executive actions, so this was inevitable. What bothers me is how indiscriminate this order is. No pause to consider if any particular order is a good idea or not. Just full-out de-Obamafication.
  15. Replace Justice Scalia with a conservative. Nothing we can do about that one. That’s a consequence of losing an election. Just pray for the health of Justice Ginsburg.
  16. Cancel all federal funding for Sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are cities that generally try to shelter undocumented workers, and will sometimes block federal efforts to deport people. Salt Lake City is usually considered one, for example. San Francisco, Phoenix, LA, San Diego, Austin, Miami. We’re all being targeted. This is where it starts, with losses of funding for cities who harbor innocent people.
  17. Begin removing 2 million ‘illegal immigrants’ from the United States. Cancel visas to countries who won’t take them back. He’s talking about deporting neighbors of mine, people I know. My wife and I have room in our basement for four families. That’s how we respond to Trumpism–we open our homes to Anne Frank.
  18. Suspend immigration from ‘terror-prone’ regions where vetting is impossible. All vetting will be extreme vetting. Again, this is inevitable. Elections do have consequences. But it’s inhumane, unAmerican, and cruel beyond understanding. Syrian refugees, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our day, are getting the back of Trump’s hand. No succor, no help, no aid, and no refuge. And the extreme vetting addendum suggests a religious test for anyone getting aid. Paranoid xenophobia has become the order of the day.

In that same Gettysburg speech, Trump also announced his legislative agenda. That will be the subject of my next post.

Final thought: we know he’s foolish, delusional and cruel. It helps to actually look at his agenda, though, and see just how radical and how dangerous he is. It’s going to be a long four years.

Trump won. What now?

Driving up to see a play last night, ordinarily a 50 minute drive, traffic on I-15 was stop-and-start the whole way, because of accidents. I saw the aftermaths of seven crashes. The one that sticks with me was a minivan, crushed, with a Mom and four little kids huddled together in the middle lane, just behind their destroyed car, while a cop tried to get them somewhere safer. The kids were all crying. The Dad was lying on the ground. That’s all I saw. I got to the play, and told a friend about all the accidents. “Checking their cell phones for election results,” was his immediate response. Could be, though it was early for that. Still, that one crash stays with me. Those crying children.

That’s where we are now, we Americans, huddled together crying behind the wreckage of our country. We had two possible candidates for President, one superbly qualified, but with many dedicated enemies, the other completely unqualified, but with a message that, for some people, for some reason, resonated. “We’re losing our country,” he said. “We white Americans, real Americans, we’re falling behind. It’s the fault of the Others, the brown-skinned, the Spanish speakers, and also the worshippers of a different God than Jesus. Washington’s corrupt, so corrupt that reform isn’t possible. What we need are hand grenades. Explosions and chaos: that’s how we make America great again.” An appealing, if appalling pitch from a lifelong con man.

And look what I just did. Cast this in partisan terms; accused my political opponents of racism. I should apologize, I suppose. I should work to heal, express love and unity and solidarity, invoke our shared patriot ideals. How do we do that, though, when we see the core base of Trump’s support? Check out Breitbart.com (the website whose CEO was also CEO of the Trump campaign, the website that provides a home to the alt-right, the website of the most savage misogynists (Milo Yiannopoulos, take a bow!), and of the various post-modern iterations of the KKK. It doesn’t feel like we elected a President. It feels more like we chose a new Grand Dragon. Or Imperial Wizard, or whatever nomenclature is au courant with the Klan.

So, no, I don’t feel much like seeking common ground. Normally that would be my instinct and preference; not this time. Nor do I feel much like mourning. We lost. We took it on the chin. It’s time to get off the canvas. It’s time to fight.

We don’t have a lot of viable political resources, and Trumpism provides a target-rich environment. We’re going to have to pick our fights. Here’s what I suggest:

Much has been made of the enmity of Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. Don’t believe it. They’re going to work together, because so much of what they want overlaps. Paul Ryan’s agenda is clear enough; he wants tax cuts for rich guys, he wants to cut the social safety net into ribbons, he wants smaller government and less spending, except for defense. He’s going to get it; his program will pass. We should let him; urge the Senate not to filibuster the Ryan budget. Let corporate taxes fall, person income taxes for rich guys lowered, cuts in discretionary spending. In the meantime, Trump will go ahead and start trade wars with China, South Korea, Japan, Mexico. Consumer prices will rise precipitously. And funding will be passed to built a Great Wall.

The results will be catastrophic. As Paul Krugman mordantly predicted this morning, if we’re lucky, the result will be a world-wide recession. By 2020, the myth that businessmen can run a country or that Republicans can manage an economy will be exploded once and for all. Donald Trump will be a one-term President. Our country has survived recessions before; we’ll survive the next one. And then President Warren will step in and set things right.

What we have to hope for is that we can contain the disaster–incur moderate, but not permanent damage. What we have to pray for is that Trump’s legacy doesn’t include hyper-inflation and complete world-wide economic collapse. He’s going to be the worst President in US history; that’s a given. We have to hope that’s all.

So we can’t fight him on economic grounds; or at least we shouldn’t. What we want is an economic debacle sufficient to discredit conservative economic orthodoxy forever, but only that. We want a fiasco we can recover from. And yes, there will be suffering, yes, there will be homelessness, yes, forty million Americans will lose their health coverage, yes, people will die. That’s all unavoidable. It will be our task to point out, as often as necessary, who caused all that destruction. And blame, not just on Trump. Ryan, too, conservatism generally.

As a patriot, I suppose I should now say “or, I could be wrong.” And that’s certainly true; I might be wrong. What if Trump is a good President; what if the economy thrives under his stewardship. Well, all right then. That would be swell. That would be groovy. And since it ain’t gonna happen, let’s not worry about it.

No, let’s not fight Trump on the economy. Let’s stand back and let the inevitable calamity take its course. Give more to the foodbank; volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. No, where we need to fight is in matters of race and prejudice.

We need, more than ever, to comfort and support and embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters. We need to oppose Trump’s immigration ban. We need to oppose his mass deportation scheme. We need to insist on keeping the progress we have made in race relations and civil rights. We need to fight for our Latino brothers and sisters. Above all, we need to protect and support the LGBTQ community. We need to work with moderate, virtuous Republicans (who exist, and in profusion), to ameliorate the worst of Trump’s racism and misogyny. We need decency and kindness and toleration and love. Show it, demonstrate it, fight for it. If the Senate is going to use the filibuster (and they should), use it to fight racism. Use it to block deportation.

Donald Trump is a liar and a buffoon. He’ll expose himself often enough. We need to fight the next two years to keep him from destroying America, and we need to fight like crazy in 2018 to deprive him of Congressional majorities. And then, in 2020, as our country gasps for air, we need to win.

We need new, aggressive leadership in the Democratic party. That new generation of leaders could include you. Get on it. Right now, though, let’s not feel sorry for ourselves. Organize. Fight. Convert people. And win.

Predictions, either way

Election day tomorrow. It’s likely to be a long night, watching the returns. The race is tightening, and both candidates have a shot. On the one hand, there are an unusual number of undecided voters this year, and if enough of them break Republican, Trump could win. On the other hand, the Democrats have a state-of-the-art get-out-the-vote ground game, and already we’re seeing long lines of Hispanic voters waiting to vote early, people who are generally not included in polls. So there’s reason to think that Hillary Clinton may do better than polling has suggested. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States. And right now, we don’t know who it will be.

If Trump wins:

Right now, Republicans control the House; that’s unlikely to change. If Trump wins, it bodes ill for down ballot races; probably, a Trump victory means the GOP keeps control of the Senate. I think that means there will be some deeply relieved Republicans in Washington inclined to give Trump most of what he wants. Democrats in the Senate can always filibuster, but they’ll have to pick their fights.

Trump will get his tax cut–Republicans love tax cuts anyway. He’ll also get the additional defense spending he’s calling for. He’ll get a ban on Muslim immigration–there’s certainly historical precedent for that kind of targeted savagery in American immigration policy. He’ll get initial funding for his wall. And the Affordable Care Act will be rescinded. The Republicans will replace it with a mix of unworkable conservative proposals–selling insurance across state lines, Health Savings Accounts, other inadequate half-measures.

The results will be catastrophic. The tax cuts and defense spending will blow the budget up; the deficit and debt will both explode. Any kind of social spending will be reduced. We’re going to start seeing news stories about families losing food stamps, about hungry kids in schools, and people losing their homes. Homelessness will increase. Also millions of people will lose their health insurance. Emergency rooms will be flooded, and health care costs will explode. Hundreds of people will die. Remember ‘pre-existing conditions?’ We’ll see those kinds of nightmare stories again.

Trump will start trade wars with China, Mexico, South Korea, possibly Japan, possibly Europe, and likely several other major trade partners. The new I-phone will triple in cost. US manufacturing will decline precipitously; no markets to sell to.

One major worry with massive deficit spending is that the government will issue huge amounts of money to cover it, leading to inflation, possibly even hyper-inflation. Donald Trump knows essentially nothing about economic policy, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see inflation rise. That’s if we’re lucky–hyper-inflation, destroying the economy, is also possible, and wouldn’t surprise me. But if inflation does rise, the Federal Reserve will have no choice but to increase interest rates. Trump doesn’t know anything about government either, and could illegally pressure the Fed to keep inflation low, for political reasons, leading to a constitutional crisis.

Either way, that wall’s never getting built. We’ll run out of money to pay for it, and Mexico sure won’t. I predict this huge pile of concrete and rebar and steel out in the middle of the Texas desert. That’s what will remain of the Trump wall. It’ll be kind of a grim tourist attraction; this huge rat infested pile of building materials. That will be Donald Trump’s Presidential legacy. Anyway, that will be the Trump Presidency. A ruined economy, shattered families, xenophobic restrictions on immigration, and, if we’re very very lucky, merely the worst recession in US history.

Okay, so what if Hillary Clinton wins? Well, she’ll face a hostile Congress, especially the House, which will continue to be dominated by zealots. I know she’ll fight for immigration reform, but I doubt she’ll achieve it. If Paul Ryan works with her on that volatile issue, he’ll lose his Speakership; possibly to that appalling little weasel Jason Chaffetz. (He’s my congressman. I don’t like him).

But I think Democrats should win the Senate, and that means she’ll have a chance to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will judge sensibly. I think she’ll be able to pass at least some of her agenda. Obamacare is another hot button issue, for some reason, but she’ll certainly fight to reform it, and she may well succeed.

I think US foreign policy will continue to be reactionary, and at least mildly interventionist. That’s disappointing, but there will be political pressure on her to continue the ‘war on terror,’ though doing so is surely a foolish priority. Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology.

Hillary Clinton’s three main domestic policy priorities will be a) reforming Obamacare, b) comprehensive immigration reform, and c) tax increases, to pay for other parts of her agenda. Those are three very tough policies to get past rock-ribbed Tea Party Republicans. She may have more success passing bills that aren’t as high priorities for her, but would still do a lot of good. She might get a national minimum wage increase passed, for example. She may find common ground with some Republicans on paid family leave policies. Quite a few Republicans are interested in criminal justice reform–I think that maybe an area where she will get some traction.

Right now, Hillary Clinton is disliked and mistrusted by many many Americans. That’s been true before for her. She was disliked when she ran for the Senate, but well-liked when she was actually in office getting the job done. She may surprise people. She’s got the executive skills to be a very good President. She’s a good listener, and she’s respectful of those with differing views. She’ll try to work with Congress, and she may turn out to be pretty good at it.

Also, I predict that we will never hear the word ’email’ again in connection with her.

There will be another scandal again, and she may face impeachment. What will the nature of that scandal be? Who knows? Something silly, and unimportant. But her enemies will never, ever, let up on her. She’s that hated. She won’t actually be impeached, but there will be a call for it from the conservative fringes. It’s not like Breitbart.com will go away.

Historians will judge Hillary Clinton a reasonably effective President. Trump will go down in history as the worst President in history. Now, we’ll see how good my Nostradamus act is.

 

 

One last try

In case you haven’t heard, there’s an election next week. It’s kind of an important one. I meant to spend this last week writing about it, and would have, but for a nasty bout of bronchitis. Still, here are a few final thoughts.

The Daily Show did an entire post-apocalyptic bit, imagining a guerrilla broadcast of the show four years from now. It was grim and bleak and surprisingly unfunny, considering that the Daily Show is supposed to be, you know, comedy. The First Amendment suspended, Muslims and Mexicans deported, the economy collapsed–a Trevor Noah desperately calling for someone, anyone, to vote for underground heroine Elizabeth Warren. Still, it captured how many of us think right now about the prospect of a Trump Presidency.

Of course, our brothers and sisters on the Trump bandwagon feel just the same about the possibility of a Hillary Clinton Presidency. She’s corrupt, she’s a criminal, she’s dangerous. If she wins, she’ll take away your guns and she’ll take away your rights and she’ll pack the Supreme Court with liberal demagogues. The precipitous collapse of American power and prosperity begun by President Obama will continue under President Hillary, only she’s likely to be much much worse. Remember that a sizeable percentage of the electorate believes that Hillary Clinton has murdered or arranged for the murders of dozens of people. The Right is terrified, and furious. The Left is similarly anxious. One thing both groups can agree on; this is one scary election.

And neither Trumpists or Clintonians can even agree on something as basic as reality. We’re not operating from the same set of facts. My father, a kind and generous man if ever there was one (and no fan of Donald Trump), nonetheless believes that the Obama Presidency has been a disaster for our country, economically and internationally. I don’t think the evidence supports such conclusions. And so we find ourselves arguing–affectionately, but still.

So that’s where I want to start. I want to start by describing reality. I want to start by describing the world as I see it, with some attempt at non-partisanship. And then I want to make a fact-based case for Hillary Clinton.

In 2007, the United States (and the rest of the world) faced a major financial crisis, caused by a collapse of housing markets, leading to a major recession from which we have not yet fully recovered. Since then, the combined efforts of the Obama administration, Congress, and the Federal Reserve have led to a long period of sustained-but-tepid economic growth. Unemployment is way down, but lots of people have also stopped looking for work. Some manufacturing sectors have been hurt, while others have prospered. We face a large trade deficit; how big a problem is that? The US economy remains a colossus; we’re still the richest country in the history of the world. But income inequality is a problem–rich people are doing fine, poor people are struggling. There have been gains, there have been losses.

Put another way; we’re a rich country, and we have problems as well. We’re prosperous, but prosperity is unevenly shared. Rural Americans are really struggling; so are many in inner cities. We’re not anywhere close to where we’d like to be. But I’d still rather live here than almost anywhere else on earth.

I don’t know if global warming is a problem or not. I’m not a climate scientist. If climate change is a major problem, it hasn’t affected me yet. But I also don’t think we should risk doing nothing. Climate scientists mostly agree; there are many things we can and should start doing. Surely, wantonly burning fossil fuels is unsustainable. And alternative energy is a rapidly growing sector in our economy. And I look around the world, and I see that countries that rely on oil and gas economically tend to be the most politically and economically unstable. If in fact climate change is the threat many scientists think it is, it’s massively irresponsible for us to ignore that possibility. And I think we can address climate change without wrecking our economy. Can’t this be an issue liberals and conservatives can work together on?

Immigration seems to be a big issue this year, but I can’t see why. Immigration is a good thing. I’m the child of an immigrant. Immigrants bless our country culturally and economically. We need more immigrants, not fewer. Agree on that basic principle, and we can work out the details.

I also think that babies are wonderful. I think it’s a great blessing to any family when children arrive. And that it’s okay for government to make policies making that easier for people. So why not mandate a paid leave policy, so Moms and Dads can spend time with infants without incurring crippling financial costs? That seems fair to me, and reasonable, and I think businesses would adjust to it if they had to.

I also think that access to basic health care is a fundamental human right nowadays. The Framers of our Constitution didn’t think so, because medical practice was so atrocious in their day. But nowadays, we know so much more than they did, about disease and how to prevent it and treat it and cure it. That shouldn’t be something only rich people can afford; anyone can get sick, and everyone should have a chance to get better. And there’s got to be a reasonable, cost-effective way to make that happen. I think abortions are a tragedy, but that they should nonetheless be safe and legal but hopefully also way way less frequent, and I think we know how to make that happen, with better education for teens about human sexuality and with better access to birth control.

How do we pay for all this? Well, Americans are undertaxed in comparison to the rest of the world. We don’t like to think that that’s true, but it is. But we also spend unconscionable amounts of money on our military. We spend more than any other nation. We spend more than the next sixteen high spending countries combined. And yet, the biggest threats we seem to face as a nation all have to do with terrorism. We’re not likely to face big armies in the future, but smaller insurgencies. Surely we can cut defense spending by a substantial amount, and still have a leaner but still effective fighting force. Also, explain to me why the United States still has an Army, and a Navy, and an Air Force, and a Marine Corps? Surely it would be more efficient and more cost effective to just have one entity, the Armed Forces, with ships and planes and soldiers, working together.

In other words, we can revive our economy, and we can fix social problems in our society; we can do it all. We’re a rich and prosperous nation.

So now, in this election, we have two choices; Hillary Clinton, the Democrat, and Donald Trump, the Republican. Let’s talk about them.

Hillary Clinton has an outstanding resume; she has great credentials. She’s accused of being dishonest and corrupt, but the more you dig down into the details of those accusations, the less there seems to be. The email scandal is really nonsensical. She was a little careless with her emails; big deal. It’s worth a scolding, perhaps, and FBI director James Comey provided one. But there’s no evidence of criminal wrong-doing, and according to most sources, it wasn’t a difficult call. She certainly hasn’t gone around murdering people–that’s just silly. Hillary Clinton is likely to be an effective President, if Congress will work with her. That’s who I intend to vote for.

Donald Trump is a bomb thrower. He wants to renegotiate trade deals, even if it leads to trade wars. He wants to completely appeal the Affordable Care Act (which is a flawed piece of legislation, and does need careful revision). He wants a massive tax cut, which he insists, would stimulate the economy.

Here’s the thing about Trump; we don’t know. We know more or less what the results would be from Hillary’s policies, because they’re not all that different from President Obama’s policies, and because most of them have been tried out in other countries. We don’t know anything about Trump’s policies. What will a big trade war with China do? We don’t know. What will the effects of a wall between the US and Mexico be? We don’t know. What will happen if Trump gets his tax cut? No one knows; no one’s tried anything like that before.

Trump’s personality seems volatile. His temperment seems . . . eccentric. He doesn’t seem to be able to handle criticism. He pursues vendettas, either via Twitter or via threatened lawsuits. Do we know how that would play itself out on the Presidential stage? No, we don’t.

That’s why I think that voting for Trump is taking a risk we can’t afford. That’s why I urge you to vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s the safer choice. And safe is good. And predictable is good. So, vote. And vote wisely.