Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

trump-gop

After about a month of President Trump, it seems to me that Trump actually cares about very few things and certainly doesn’t have much of any actual policies in mind, so he mostly delegates all that and as long as he gets to pretend to be the big man in charge by making a ridiculous show out of signing things and showing them off, he really doesn’t care much about what he’s actually signing off on. That means in such as policy is actually being driven, it’s mostly being driven by the people around Trump. Here’s how I see the breakdown:

WHAT TRUMP CARES ABOUT:

  • Trump (and the “brand”) – Trump has little ability to see beyond himself. (Plenty of evidence for that, but here’s an example. Trump has already filed his candidacy for the 2020 Presidential election. Why? So he can legally begin fundraising for his campaign. Why hasn’t this been done before? Because by fundraising for himself, he takes away from fundraising for other GOP candidates for the mid-term elections. But of course he really doesn’t care about that.) He desperately wants to be taken seriously (which I believe was his whole point of running for President, not for any particular agenda and vision he had or the nation). So most of Trump’s care is simply to be seen as the most awesomely awesome President (and thus most awesomely awesome man) the world has ever seen.
  • Trump Organization – In as such as he’s interested in using Presidential powers, it’s simply to enrich himself and his organization. So if being President helps him win a long sought after trademark in China, great. If it can help him drum up business for his hotels and resorts and for his daughter’s business, all the better. And that’s my concern with Russia. Trump is not necessarily wrong that good relations between the U.S. and Russia is not a bad thing. BUT, my concern is that we are really talking about good relations between TRUMP and Russia, and Trump is simply looking out for the good of his business in Russia and may be willing to sacrifice what’s best for the nation for that purpose.
  • The Wall – And I mean the wall itself. I’m not sure how much Trump really cares about immigration. But he wants that damn wall…not a virtual wall, a tangible wall you can see and touch. I think this has something to do with the idea that Trump likes buildings and slapping TRUMP on them…it’s almost as though it doesn’t count if it’s not a physical tangible thing. Heck, if that wall does get built, I wouldn’t be surprised if he slaps TRUMP on top of it. Probably thinks it can be a tourist attraction he can sell tickets to see.

WHAT TRUMP AND GOP CARE ABOUT:

  • Hatred of the media – Actually for Trump, not hatred of the media in general. He loves being on tv and craves the attention. Trump hates critical media (defined as anything short of gushing praise for Trump). No doubt Trump can’t even handle the minimum of criticism (not a new development, he never has), and since getting criticism is just part of the job of being President, it is truly driving him crazy (and that’s his one and only concern, how they report on Trump, he could care less about reports on policy and the GOP). But many on the conservative side of the fence have also long tried to discredit the “mainstream” (as they like to say derisively) media in favor of outlets such as Fox News, Breitbart, & Drudge that more actively push their agenda. So I think Trump’s war on the media is very welcomed by many on the right.

WHAT THE GOP CARE ABOUT:

  • Repeal of Obamacare – There will be no policy in regards to healthcare coming from the White House. I mean, I don’t think they have the ability to produce one if they tried, but they also don’t care enough to try. Trump repeated this over and over because that’s simply a box you have to check if you are running as a Republican politician. But anything that actually happens will be the result of the GOP itself. While there’s no doubt that Obama was the driving force behind the Affordable Care Act (so “Obamacare” was apt), the GOP will be the driving force behind anything that happens going forward so the result should be called “Republicare” or “GOPCare”.
  • Immigration Policy – Steve Bannon is who comes up with this stuff. Trump just signs off on it. It’s Steve Bannon’s world view that drove the refugee/immigrant executive order debacle. It’s Steve Bannon’s belief that the United States is being overran by immigrants (both illegal AND legal) that leads to his belief that extreme actions are necessary.
  • Pulling Support From Transgender School Children Bathroom Rights – This has Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions written all over it. In fact, reportedly even Besty Devos was reluctant to go along with it, but Jeff Sessions pretty much made it a ‘either me or her’ situation and Devos relented when it became clear it was either go along or lose your job. While I don’t think Trump has strong views on this, it is important to note when push came to shove which side of the fence he landed. He’s mostly surrounded by far right advisors and he will go along with what they say.
  • Supreme Court nominees – Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during his campaign which basically mimics lists from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks. Trump doesn’t care enough to put any thought into this, so copying a list from a conservative group is the ‘easy button’.

I think the bottom line is this, if the issue involves Trump personally, then Trump is driving the boat. If the issue is anything that involves actual policy, then it’s somebody on Trump’s team, like Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner, Jeff Sessions, etc. and Trump is just going along. In fact, that seems to be the deal. The far-right tolerates Trump’s selfish tendencies and in return Trump goes along with their far-right agenda.

So you have a lot of bad here. A selfish President who doesn’t give a damn about conflicts-of-interest. An administration who has far-right viewpoints who don’t get any push back as long as they show their loyalty to Trump. Add to the fact that Trump and his team (which were picked based on loyalty, not knowledge) seem completely incompetent (though at times that probably accidentally works in this nation’s favor, as they are less effective as they could be at implementing their far-right agenda), and we are in for a very messy chaotic few years.

Only on CNN would they debate "alternative facts".

Only on CNN would they debate “alternative facts”.

The things you see on the interwebs….

#AlternativeFacts:

  1. Donald Trump won over 3,000 of the 3,144 countries in the United States.

    I’m not sure why there’s a need to exaggerate this, except for some desperation for Trump and his supporters to find some angle to declare his victory the greatest mankind has ever seen. But just a cursory amount of research reveals that this “fact” is not true, even in Alabama alone Hillary won 12 counties….and goodness knows Alabama is not a politically diverse state! The fact is Hillary actually won nearly 500 counties. Which still means if for some odd reason you want to compare county “wins”, Trump won bigly. That said, it mostly just looks good when you color in a map. But the thing is, a good many of those counties are sparsely populated…meaning you are basically taking credit for winning landmass or something.So Trump won a bunch a counties. Hillary won 2.5 million more actual breathing people votes. Neither matter though, Trump won the Electoral College and that’s what counts.
  2. More people watched Trump’s Presidential inauguration than any other in history.

    Not going to show the pictures again, but of course this is obviously not true. The television ratings are something that are tangible, and they clearly show Trump’s wasn’t the most watched. Which should be ok, if not for Trump’s odd obsession that it has to be the most watched.
  3. The Bowling Green Massacre.

    Who could forget the Bowling Green Massacre…except the darn lamestream media didn’t cover it!!!? Had it happened, I’m sure that’s what it would have been called and it would have been covered, but it didn’t. Just something Kellyanne Conway threw out there to justify the immigration/refugee ban Trump signed in an interview with Chris Matthews. She’s gaslighting. Did she think she would totally get away with it? No, I don’t think so. But she was banking on Chris Matthews not challenging it on the spot, either because he wasn’t confident enough to do or (more likely in my opinion) he wasn’t actually listening. That to go along with a non apologetic half-assed correction that people may or may not even see, and you have successfully muddied the waters of reality.
  4. President Obama totally did the same thing as Trump when it came to Iraqi refugees.

    Except no he didn’t. Nobody was ever stuck in limbo at the airport. In fact, the refugee flow from Iraq never even came to a complete stop. This is related to the item above. Two Iraqi refugees were arrested in Kentucky accused of plotting a terrorist attack. In response, President Obama did ask for more screening for Iraqi refugees as a result. This did slow the processing. But the differences are clear…one it wasn’t a ban and two it was in response to an actual specific situation and thus narrowly defined.
  5. Michigan allows Muslims to sign up to four wives to welfare.

    Apparently people really think this is true. Of course it’s ridiculous. My question for those who believe, even if you believe Democrats would do such a thing (and of course you do, those Muslim loving American hating hippies would so totally do that!) do you really think the GOP governor and GOP controlled legislature in Michigan would allow such a thing to stand?
  6. The United States does not take in Christian refugees from Syria.

    This claim was made by Donald Trump on the Christian Broadcasting Network. But there is no evidence for such a claim. There is a disparity between the numbers (though keep in mind that Syria is 87% Muslim in the first place), but the most basic explanation is that Christians simply aren’t seeking refugee status in the same proportions as Muslims are. The United States have and continues to accept Christian refugees from Syria and there’s no evidence of any extra hoops they have to jump through (however there’s no evidence there are any LESS hoops they have to jump through either, and perhaps that is what is really viewed as the problem for some).
  7. Americans simply do not care to see Trump’s IRS tax returns.

    This is pretty much the standard line from Trump and everyone else speaking on his behalf. The theory goes that since we won without releasing them, no one must care. That seems to fail to account for the 54% of the voters who didn’t vote for Donald Trump. It also fails to account for voters who voted for Trump in despite of Trump not releasing his taxes, not because they didn’t care. Polling data shows that Americans do want him to release his tax returns.
  8. Donald Trump has YUGGE hands!

    No he doesn’t. They are small. They are tiny. They are like baby hands. That’s just facts. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway had a bit of what I believe was a Freudian slip when she explained that Trump’s press secretary had presented “alternative facts” in a “press briefing” (which as it turns out was more of a press scolding) in regards to number of people who watched Trump’s inauguration. Of course facts are facts, there are no alternatives. But as I see some wonder how Trump supporters can ‘twist themselves in knots’ of logic in order to support him, it occurs to me that the idea of “alternative facts” is actually instructive. I would propose that the typical Trump supporter is not having to twist themselves in knots at all and actually based on the “facts” being presented to them are thinking quite rationally.

So I bit the bullet and watched a bit of Fox & Friends on the Fox News Network. It really didn’t take a big bite though, only about 60 seconds on three different occasions was enough to get the flavor. Now keep in mind that Fox News Network’s hook is that they are “fair and balanced”. But even most that acknowledge that Fox News are biased toward right-wing politics consider Fox News a legitimate news organization. So if you are a viewer, you don’t really have much reason to question the veracity of what you are watching…maybe biased….maybe even fair. Here’s what I learned on those 3 occasions:

  • Day 1: What a four days for Trump! He has had 14 major accomplishments already. 14!!! Also, Trump is going to open an investigation regarding voter fraud. Voter fraud is something that has been reported many times on this network, so it’s about time.
  • Day 2: Is Donald Trump “draining the swamp”? Guest Herman Cain says that all he can say is “wow!”. You betcha Donald Trump is draining the swamp. If he has to assign a grade, it’s A+!
  • Day 3: We totally need “extreme vetting” to protect us from the greatest threat this nation faces today! All Trump is doing is putting a pause on things until we can separate the terrorists from the innocent and not just let people in here all willy-nilly. And besides, the “mainstream” media is making a WAY bigger deal of this than it really is. And besides, this affects so FEW people so we shouldn’t care. And besides, no one really cares, this is just Democrats like Elizabeth Warren stirring up trouble. (The hosts did allow that perhaps the executive order’s implementation could have been done better.) And besides, just look at Germany and what happened there!

Now just imagine if these are the “facts” that you presented with. It’s not hard to imagine that you would wonder why anyone would be down on Trump. After all, 14 major accomplishments is just 4 days? Here’s a man who gets things done, just like he said he would! And why would anyone oppose an investigation into voter fraud? Everyone knows that voter fraud is rampant, I’ve seen it reported many times. And finally somebody is ridding Washington of those insider elitists! Way to go Trump! And finally, the President is putting “America First” and keeping us safe from the terrorists….why shouldn’t we figure things out before letting ANYONE in???!!!

When you consider the above information, the above “facts”, then the resulting opinions are really not irrational at all.

Of course, here’s the flip-side of how I and many others see these facts and resulting thoughts:

  • Trump has signed a bunch of executive orders and made many decrees. These have ranged from the pointless (signing an executive order to “build the wall” doesn’t get a wall built) to the wasteful (ordering the National Park Service to find evidence that the crowd at his inauguration was the largest ever) to the potentially damaging (the executive order implementing was is basically meant to be the “Muslim ban”). But we would be hard-pressed to find a “major” accomplishment (which is kind of silly to think would have happened in only one week anyway).As far as voter fraud goes, there is no evidence that it occurs in Presidential elections and that enough non-citizens voted to cost Trump the popular vote is statistically absurd (to hit the numbers Trump is citing, 15% to 25% of all the about 20 million non-citizens would have had to have somehow voted and then almost all for Hillary). The reason that Trump got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton is that more people legally casted a vote for her than for him (Occam’s razor). Trump’s need to investigate this is more about his insecurities and bruised ego than any actual problem that needs to be investigated and solved.
  • Trump’s cabinet picks are made up of a combination of Wall Street insiders, multi-billionaires, and political establishment cronies, many of whom seem unqualified for the position they are up for. Sure “swamp” has never been explicitly defined. But I think Wall Street insiders, multi-billionaires, and political establishment cronies are what a lot of people think of when they think D.C. “swamp”.
  • We aren’t letting people into this country all willy-nilly and never were. The vetting process for refugees takes two years or more and is all ready designed to separate the terrorists from the innocent. And also placing a religious litmus test on those proceedings appears unconstitutional. And besides, the number of refugee terrorist attacks in the U.S. stands at zero. And besides, even if this was a good idea and even if protecting us from terrorists is the goal, why does the list of nations included not include nations where the 9/11 terrorists and others were from while no one from the listed nations have ever committed a terrorist act on U.S. soil? And besides, why does the order include legal residents of this nation who only want to return home? And besides, those who were on the plane had already received permission from this nation to enter, are we really going to renege on our own word? And besides, no matter what the purpose, isn’t drafting and releasing such an executive order without input from the Department of Justice, State Department, or Homeland Security a terrible idea? And besides, these are people like you and I, moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and children who just want to be safe. Isn’t America about being the shining beacon that guides freedom loving people everywhere?

Under this backdrop, what is going on doesn’t appear rationale at all and who could support such things?

Not sure how we can reconcile these differing views of the country. It just appears to be a recipe for divisiveness. That may well be the point. Somebody made a comment that with these “alternative facts” to muddy the waters, roughly a third of the people will believe them, a third will say they are lies and the last third will just throw their hands in the air and just decide the truth is not knowable and check out completely. Under such circumstances, you don’t need a consensus of the majority to do anything, just more of a consensus than anyone else that’s actually engaged.

Not sure where this goes. The days where we all get our news from one of three major networks and/or a mainstream newspaper are long gone. Still, I don’t know how we can have honest debates and discussions and dialogues and compromise and consensus building if we can’t even agree on the facts.

  • “Fake News” is now a weapon of the right. So what “fake news” in my mind is actual purposely fake news. It’s not biased journalism. It’s not poor journalism. It’s not even mistaken journalism. It’s the purposeful act of completely fabricating stories by non-journalists in order to generate clicks on Facebook and such while attempting to appear as if it’s from an actual news organization. It’s stories from the “Denver Guardian” or the “Baltimore Gazette” (neither the “Denver Guardian” nor the “Baltimore Gazette” exist, but “news stories” from them spread like wildfire on Facebook).

    But what “fake news” has come to mean is any story you don’t like. The right have been trying to discredit mainstream media for years, and they finally have found traction by declaring everything “fake news”. So for Trump, CNN is now “fake news”. So is the BBC. So will anyone else that prints anything he doesn’t like. Unfair to Trump is anything critical to him. He sent a message by not taking CNN’s questions. Cover me favorably or lose access. It will be interesting to see how the media responds.

  • Trump actually brought a personal cheerleading section to a Presidential press conference. Seriously. There to cheer him and jeer the media. Were they paid? Of course they were (though I guess actually getting paid for work from Trump may be newsworthy in itself!). But he doesn’t have security issues, oh no.
  • Trump likes his props. Look at that big stack of “agreements”. Can we see what is in them? Hahahaha! Of course not! A big stack of folders should be all the evidence you need that this administration is going to be so totally beyond reproach when it comes to “conflict of interest”! Oh, tax returns? Bwhahahaha! I didn’t give those to you when I was a mere candidate, I sure as heck not giving those to you know that I’m freakin’ President! But trust me, it’s all good. I’m giving control of my company to my sons. TOTAL SEPARATION. Everyone knows that the only kid I like is Ivanka. So it’s totally good, what you all call a “problem” is solved! Sure, ethics experts totally disagree, but what do they know? They’re fake news.
  • Not that they think they have to do ANYTHING about “conflict of interest”. During the middle of the conference, Trump’s lawyer took to the podium and she sure spent a whole lot more time explaining why Trump didn’t actually have to do anything (but he is just doing so because that’s how swell of a guy he is). Conflict of interest laws don’t apply…make sure you remember that. Also, getting hotel money from foreign leaders is totally not emoluments y’all. Oh he’s not going to take the money, but be sure to know he could if he wanted to. (There had to be a point to all that. My guess is that it has to do with Trump’s many foreign holdings. Speaking of which, for all the talk of potential conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, the Trump business sure seems to have many actual tangible conflicts of interest.)
  • Donald Trump likes to refer to himself in the third person.
  • Trump says he could totally be both President and continue to run his company and do a good job with both. So I guess he thinks being President is just a part-time job? Or maybe it’s just a part-time job for him, being so super-duper amazing.

 

 

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You know he will put this up if he can!

In one way, I’m not THAT surprised. I had been following Nate Silver’s 538 website’s poll-based statistical modeling of the election which was giving Trump about a 30 percent chance of winning. And while other sites were saying things closer to what I wanted to hear (the guy a lot of Clinton supporters pointed to was Sam Wang, who declared based on his models in October that if Trump got over 240 electoral votes, he would eat a bug…..not sure if that bug has been eaten yet), Nate’s explanations of his model’s assumptions and considerations (including how Hillary’s electoral college position relative to her popular vote position was relatively weak) made a lot of sense to me.

But still, I can’t say that as I watched the results roll in on Tuesday night that I wasn’t in a state of shock. I had taken some comfort that in the last day or so before the election polling had seem to be swing back to Clinton. Besides, errors work both ways and I kept reading about how early voting and Clinton’s superior “ground game” was going to make a huge difference, so maybe Clinton would actually win much bigger than predicted! After all, a guy like Trump….this reality show celebrity unqualified self-centered boor could never actually get enough votes to win the highest office of the land, right?

Yet here we are. Donald Trump won the election, he will be the next President. How did we get here? First things first. This was a very, very close election. In fact, Hillary won the popular vote. Trump won several states (MI, PA, WI) by razor-thin margins. A very small voting shift back to Hillary would have led to a comfortable Clinton electoral college win. Many, many, many things could lead to a mere 1%-2% shift in results, so it’s likely when one person says it was one thing and another person says it was another thing, quite likely both can be right, at least as contributing factors. And anything that contributed at all could be combined with other factors to get to 1% to 2%. Plus factors are not necessarily independent of each other.

Still, in an effort to make sense of it all, I’m going to blog some thoughts….even if it is a bit scrambled, maybe incoherent, and may have jack squat to do with anything. After all, Trump won the votes of 60 million people……..the number of reasons behind those votes rationally have to be just about infinite. So who really knows? Still, I’m confused….so as self-therapy I’m going to write:

  • Candidates don’t matter that much – One thing that a lot of us thought was that Trump was such a historically bad candidate, so apparently unqualified, so offensive, that he would lose traditional Republican voters….not so much that they would vote Democrat instead, though that is something that at least used to be possible. But that they would vote third-party or maybe leave the choice blank. But the polling never indicated any sort of collapse of support, at least never for any length of time. But Trump will end up with just about the same number of votes as Mitt Romney received. In hindsight, I’m not sure that most votes aren’t just set in stone, and we all are now part of team D or team R and most will just support the team. Therefore the baselines for major party candidates may be pretty set and differences in voting may only be at the margins now.
  • Tolerance for ‘isms’ (racism, sexism,heterosexism, etc.) –  These factors had to at least be discounted by Trump voters. Though I have a steady job and am doing well, so maybe it’s easy for me to say that these should be pretty darn big considerations. Perhaps for those who aren’t in a good situation, and feel that the powers that be aren’t doing enough for them, maybe it’s easier to discount the negatives if you think somebody will come in and blow it all up to help you…at some point you just start looking out for number one and are less concerned about the plight of others.Of course, just because Romney and Trump both are going to have about 60 million votes doesn’t mean it’s the same 60 million. Trump had to lose SOME votes for these reasons, and perhaps just made those numbers back up with those who have more racist, sexist, etc. tendencies. Anecdotally, I can say that I did run across a Facebook conversation in which at least two people posted that they didn’t think a woman should be “commander-in-chief” period. As it turns out those two people were women. Attitudes like this really do still exist, and it’s not just men.But Trump didn’t pick up any EXTRA votes. It’s Hillary that’s going to have 6 million or so less votes than Obama, and that’s why the margins are closer. (11/20 edit- They are still counting votes and Hillary is now within 2.5 million votes of Obama. Her popular vote lead is over 1.5 million votes. It’s not difficult to imagine that she may be within 2.0 million votes of Obama before all is said and done. And her popular vote win could well be over +1.5%. Not that any of this matters, but since I mentioned Hillary was going to be 6 million short of Obama, I thought I should make this correction.)
  • Rural versus Urban Divide – Republicans have been winning rural areas for quite some time. But in previous elections, there were some sections were Democrats could pull wins in some rural counties, namely in the Midwest. Obama won Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. But even in 2012, the advantage in these states began to slip. And now in 2016, they pretty much all flipped to Trump. These are all states Clinton lost and it’s because she literally won only the big cities in these states. Whether this is a systematic shift…these are just GOP voting areas now, or whether this is just unique to Trump, that he appealed to the “white working class” voter with his generic anti-trade ‘I’ll bring the jobs back’ rhetoric which at least meant that he paid attention to them (Clinton didn’t even set foot in Wisconsin and only reached Michigan at the last moments) remains to be seen. But it appears there really were voters who voted Obama who voted Trump this time.
  • Voters Vote On Gut Feel – It’s not like voters study for the test. Who has time for that? So there’s probably not a lot of research done. I think nowadays too, we are much more into identity politics. It makes it easier if we just know what side we are on. Then we can just go vote for our side. Plus to the extent we do go for research, we do so based on the same identity politics that feeds into preconceived narratives. Going to Drudge Report, Breitbart, and Fox News is going to give you a much different look at the race than going to Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and MSNBC. It probably really impacts your view of how big of a deal Clinton’s e-mails and Clinton Foundation were versus Trump’s University, Foundation, sexual misconduct, lack of payment of workers, etc. and even if you were aware at all of some of these things. We aren’t all operating on the same information, and that information is incomplete.
  • Elections Are Simply Exercises In Marketing – Clinton had many wonderful position papers on her website, very detailed plans regarding what she would try to get accomplished as President. But that doesn’t win elections. I think Trump almost has no talent. But there is one thing he does about as well as anyone, market the brand “Trump”. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams had been arguing all year that Trump was the more persuasive candidate. While he may well have been more lucky than good in his prediction that Trump would win (after all, he predicted a “landslide”, losing the popular vote can hardly be called a landslide win), he probably had a good point that simple superior messaging can hide flaws and make facts matter a whole lot less. Conning people is not admirable, but it is a skill. Clinton could raise the heck out of some money, but if you can’t translate that money into messaging, it doesn’t matter.
  • Other stuff – James Comey raising that they found more e-mails except they didn’t and it was never a new issue anyway but it was reported like it was. The many free hours of coverage that Trump generated meant Trump didn’t have to worry that much about fundraising. That our system is conditioned to make elections close (all incentives, whether it’s media coverage or political advisors all push for close elections). The electoral college allows the possibility to win the popular vote and still lose the election. Minorities may not have shown up quite in the numbers as they had in the past couple of Presidential elections. Hillary didn’t quite win the percentage of minority votes that Obama did. On and on and on…….
  • Black Swan? – I was reminded by a Facebook post (simply put by posting a picture of a black swan) of one more theory. Black Swan events are an idea developed by Nassim Taleb to describe surprise major events that seems rational in hindsight (and what is everything written above if not a rationalization) but never prospectively. Now I think the Trump win was somewhat predictable by the time November rolled around. But I don’t think anyone was calling this two years ago, or really even when Trump first announced his candidacy. (People would do will to REMEMBER this next time they hope a “weak” candidate wins the nomination for the opposition party! You NEVER know! The country is much better served by having STRONG choices from all sides!) – 11/20

Or maybe it’s none of these things. Regardless, what will Trump’s Presidency look like. If you are like me and think Trump is a con man, there’s already evidence pointing in that direction. For all of his anti-establishment rhetoric, the people he is bringing onto his team is in fact the establishment. Also, if you are like me and think Trump was a lot more interest in winning the election than he is in actually running the country, then we need to start thinking about what a Mike Pence presidency might look like as he may be the defacto President (he’s already in charge of the transition team). That would likely mean a very, very sharp turn toward right-wing conservatism.

However I do hope that maybe, just maybe that Trump will actually do a good job. That would be what is best for the country. He keeps surprising me, maybe for once it can be a surprise for the better.

Why Trump Is Terrible

Posted: October 23, 2016 in Current Events, Politics

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So I started to write this article a long while back, but I realized that there was just SO much out there, so many reasons that I think Trump is…well frankly a terrible person…much less a terrible candidate for President, that I just couldn’t do it all at once. Plus, more and more comes out every day. Even now, there are women coming out who are accusing Trump of sexual assault and misconduct after audio of Trump seemingly bragging about such activities was released.

But even before all that, there are just so many reasons I think Trump is such a poor choice, historically so, that despite my misgivings about Hillary, I feel that she must be our next President. Below is just some of the many reasons (because it’s impossible to compile a fully comprehensive list) why Trump is terrible:

Trump “University”:

Ok, we’re all adults here, right? We all know this wasn’t a real university. Let’s not sugarcoat it, this was a scam pure and simple. Trump gets paid to put his name on it and make a promotional video that lends this stupid thing credibility (because of his supposed success in business). Then comes promises of access to high rollers and “apprenticeship” support. But instead you just get a way overpriced half-assed business 101 seminar. Another thing of note, they expected to receive payment in full before providing services, which is actually not the Trump way (see below).

Trump “Deals”:

When Trump talks about the “Art of the Deal”, he’s really just talking about ways to scam his way into money at the expense of others. One of his favorite techniques is to agree to pay an amount for a job and then not pay it after the job is done (usually with some excuse that the job was sub-par or otherwise not performed properly). He has the money to take it to court for a prolonged case, and he’s betting that whomever he is scamming doesn’t. Then he can settle it for pennies on the dollar and thus save. He would consider his actions smart and savvy. A lot of the rest of us would consider it sleazy. Other times, he just doesn’t bother to pay up at all.

  • Trump and his organization has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits involving non-payment. And these are just disputes among the 1%. This deals with waiters and dishwashers and plumbers and painters…..the working class.
  • Remember those kids that performed at his rally and went viral, the USA Freedom Kids? Trump is accused of stiffing them too.
  • He is not paying his campaign staff. Some are no doubt just being very generous with their time. But certainly some expected to be paid. (At this point, here’s a “pro-tip”, if you are going to work with Trump, and I wouldn’t, get your agreements in writing! Better yet, get paid in advance.)

Trump “Real Estate”:

Trump represents himself as a very successful real estate mogul. But what Trump has done most successfully, especially in more recent years, is simply license his name to other real estate projects that he otherwise has nothing to do with. Investors then unwittingly go in, thinking if the real estate deal has the backing of successful real estate mogul Donald Trump, it must be a smart investment. They only discover later, usually after the project has gone belly up, that Donald Trump actually hadn’t invested a dime. Of course, you could say there’s a sucker born every second. But you see how one may be fooled, when the brochures literally say Trump is the developer even though he’s not.

Trump Lies:

Trump lies. Not in a politician spin that has a some truth but is misleading kind of way. Just outright lies, without a shred of truth.

Trump Either Doesn’t Understand Nuance Or Doesn’t Care/Communication Matters:

  • Trump just says directly that Obama and Hillary are the “founders of ISIS”. Not that certain policies may have enhanced ISIS’s ability or that they haven’t done enough to eliminate the threat. No, they founded ISIS. Even when one of his sympathizers tries to give him a chance to clarify, he doesn’t.
  • Trump was lamenting that if Hillary gets elected, she would appoint Supreme Court justices with liberal leanings and there would be nothing anyone could do about it.  Then he says “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.” What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? Well, a lot of people inferred that he meant that somebody might just take her out….permanently. Now I want to think the best of people, even slime balls like Trump. So I want to believe that’s not what he really meant. But let me say that a huge part of being President is being able to effectively communicate. That usually requires speaking in clear complete sentences, instead of the sentence segment fragment mumbo jumbo Trump seems to prefers. Otherwise you leave to everyone else to make inferences to try to figure out what you are trying to say. Words matter. It’s part of the job. If you can’t effectively communicate, you can’t effectively be President.
  • As if to make sure everyone knows that those what was mentioned above was no accident, Trump suggested that the Secret Service should disarm and see what happens to Hillary Clinton. Seriously.
  • Trump’s latest theme is that the election is rigged. You know, the one that hasn’t even happened yet. Now this is obviously not a ‘get out the vote’ strategy (why vote in an election if it’s rigged?). He has already decided he’s going to lose, so this is so he can say he didn’t lose, the election was stolen (you know, the one that hasn’t even happened yet). His brand is largely built on the idea that he is a winner…one that never loses. The thing is though one of the cool things about our democracy and why it works is we do our battles at the ballot box instead of with guns. The key to that is losers accept that the results are legitimate. Going around claiming that the election results are illegitimate (you know, the results from the election that hasn’t even happened yet) undermines that. Now certainly if there was evidence (which would be hard to have right now, you know, because the election hasn’t even happened yet) that something is amiss, he could and should bring that to light. Trump losing (and so far, he’s just losing in the polls, since the election hasn’t even happened yet) is not evidence of election fraud (shocking I know, but Hillary might, just might, legitimately get more votes than Trump).

Trump Foundation:

That’s enough. Full disclosure, I thought Trump was a terrible person WAY before he ever announced his Presidential run, I haven’t newly arrived at this conclusion. When suggested that he could win the nomination, I even laughed. That’s how ridiculous I found the notion of Trump being considered for President. The lesson here I guess is to never just assume that 150 million potential voters are necessarily all on the same page as you are. So right now polling seems to indicate that things are looking good for Hillary. But until the votes are in, nothing is set in stone. Finally, after decades of campaigning (it’s only been a couple of years…really?), it’s just about time to vote.

Don't look at me that way. I'm with you. Sort of.

Don’t look at me that way. I’m with you. Sort of.

I am one who will be voting for Hillary, but without a lot of enthusiasm. Now I am not sure how much I am being affected by years and years of media attacks, some of which certainly is ridiculous (Benghazi comes to mind). I’m also not sure how much I’m impacted as a male by subconscious bias against women in positions of power. I actually think that plays a role. All that said, even trying to adjust for those factors, I do think some of my discomfort is justified. The things that bother me include:

  • The Clintons have taken advantage of their political clout to enrich themselves. For those of us that think there’s too much money in politics, the Clintons are not people who shy away from that money. Bill takes the millions from a for-profit university. Hillary takes the millions in speaking fees from Wall Street, corporations, and other lobby organizations. They don’t really go out of their way to make sure that the operations (in both actuality and appearance) of their Clinton Foundation (which I do believe the preponderance of the evidence shows by and large does good charitable work) are totally separated from their government work. For those of us that think money buys undue influence regardless of whether there’s any specific quid pro quo, Hillary doesn’t seem like she really can credibly be the champion of changing that.
  • The e-mail thing. The reporting on this is frankly confusing, probably because of being in the middle of a Presidential campaign, competing interests either want you to think it’s a big nothing that should go away immediately or the greatest crime ever perpetrated against humanity. But from the things I read, I’m not that concerned over the supposed “classified” e-mails, as my understanding is that the true top-secret e-mails are on its own system. Maybe some minor information from the “classified” system may have leaked into discussions on the “non-classified” side of things. But my guess is that’s probably quite common.

    My concern is that there was ever a private server for work e-mails at all. I’m expected to do all my work communication via my work’s e-mail and it shouldn’t be different for government officials. I think if I set up a private server to handle my work e-mail and my employer found out, they would find that very suspicious. This was then compounded by the decision to also use that same e-mail for private use. Once again, if I choose to use my work e-mail for private matters, it’s with the understanding that my employer still owns those e-mails.

    So once it came time to turn the e-mails over, the Hillary team wanted to just hand over work e-mails. The problem is that they themselves made the determination of which e-mails where work-related and which were private. Personally I think once the decision was made to use the e-mail for both work and private purposes, she should have turned over all the e-mails. At the very least, a third-party should have been brought in to sift through them (what admittedly was probably an almost impossible task given the thousands and thousands of e-mails).

  • I am definitely of the opinion that Hillary is going to be more aggressive with foreign concerns than Obama has been. The people she has brought onto her national security team seems to support the view that it’s likely we will have more military involvement overseas, not less.
  • Issues of trust/spin. The lawyerly spin they often present to the public sometimes reaches the point of absurdity (it depends on the what the definition of “is” is anyone?). A good example was Hillary’s clumsy attempts to try to argue that FBI director James Comey had really confirmed her version of the e-mail issue. I think she was going for a A equals B and B equals C so A must equal C logic. A = What I told the FBI B = Separately, what I told you, the public. C = Comey said A was true. Therefore what I told the public was also true. Of course, this clearly falls apart because one, Comey just said he had no reason to think Hillary was lying, which is a different statement than saying she is telling the truth. And two, it’s quite clear Comey was not supporting Hillary’s version of events, and was making no statement in regards to what she was telling the public. So it just comes off as obvious spin.

    Hillary clearly also doesn’t trust the press, so she is sometimes so reluctant to release information. This is sometimes to her own detriment. The whole pneumonia thing is a good example. Instead of just disclosing she had pneumonia and taking the time off to recover, she instead worried about how that would play given how some of tried to make her health an issue and tried to push through it. Then she was caught collapsing into her car, which provided far more fuel for the health issue than had she just stayed home and rested (and also was evidence that she wasn’t doing her own health any favors). Even when busted, the team tried to first say it was mere overheating (which probably wasn’t exactly untrue, just not the root cause) before finally coming clean.

    I don’t think she was wrong in thinking that people would have raised questions had she come out saying she had pneumonia. And she probably really did think she could just stubbornly push through it. But while it sounds corny, I think most often, honesty really is the best policy. Yes, there would have been questions. But rest, recover, and come back strong and the questions will fade because you will prove that you are fine, because you are fine. Instead, those who have a question of trust received more ammunition.

All of that said, she doesn’t have to be the best candidate in the world. She only needs to be a better candidate than Donald Trump. Hillary is the establishment for sure. But she is also smart, capable, and experienced. In short, she is qualified to be President. And if she were able to enact the positions she has taken, for the most part I would say they would represent steps forward for this country. Is she my favorite candidate? No. But is she better than Donald Trump? Yes, and it’s not close in my mind.

As far as Trump and his issues go, that’s a post for another time. But I guess if I were to summarize, I would say Hillary is a bit of a capable but unsavory politician. Trump is an unsavory human being.