Friday, December 30, 2016

Why Donald Trump will NEVER be my president!

In this blogger's opinion, Donald Trump is a completely illegitimate pretender to the throne. His victory is forever tainted by the help his campaign received from the Russians. It is no wonder that he rejects the findings of the U.S. intelligence community - to accept their findings would clearly tarnish his triumph at the polls! Trump wants everyone to forget about all of that and move on - the important thing is that he won the election. Never mind that a foreign government (who has been perceived as our chief rival/adversary for many years) purposefully intervened in our election to ensure that their preferred candidate won!

How this man has turned everything upside down! Many of the folks who were formerly the most vociferous opponents of Russia now suddenly see no problem with what Putin/Russia has done. Their hatred for Hillary Clinton overcame lifelong scruples about resistance to all things Russian. They are willing to completely overlook all of the evidence of Russian complicity in the hacking of the Democrats - even Trump's own invitation for Russian intervention during the campaign.

Moreover, Trump has made very clear on numerous occasions that he admires Putin - his style and his policies. His statements on the Ukraine, NATO, the E.U., Syria and trade have alarmed most of our European allies. Trump has said that Putin has done a "great job" rebuilding Russia's image. He has called the former KGB agent a strong leader and characterized him as being "very smart." In more personal terms, he has characterized this amoral murderer as one "who could not have been nicer." Even senior members of his own party (McCain, Graham, McConnell, Ryan, etc.) disagree with such assessments of Putin and his policies.

If all of this was not enough, he has publicly thrust himself into the middle of a major foreign policy initiative of the current administration. Whatever happened to one president at a time? His attempt to prevent the Obama administration from censuring Israeli settlements in the West Bank was unconscionable. He has deliberately sought to undermine the President's authority relative to dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (a man who has himself sought to undermine the President's policies and authority by directly appealing to his enemies in Congress).

Add to all of this Trump's promise to erase the last eight years, and it is clear that Trump has absolutely no regard for the many Americans who have approved and supported Obama's policies. This, of course, comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following Mr. Trump's statements over the President's two terms in office. As the leader of the birther movement, Trump has made clear that he believes that the current President is illegitimate. His rhetoric makes clear that he believes the President has virtually destroyed America and intentionally undermined traditional American values.

During the campaign, Trump made very plain that he believes that immigrants (foreigners) are dangerous and have weakened the fabric of America. He wants to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out. He wants to end/limit the influx of people from Muslim countries. In short, Mr. Trump has made clear that his vision of America does not include folks who are brown-skinned or not Christian.

Finally, he has refused to divest himself of his far-flung business interests and prevent the inevitable conflicts of interests that will arise from them. Those interests include dealings with both Russia and China to name just two of the potential problems. Moreover, it should be abundantly clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that he will be making decisions on a regular basis in the White House that will affect those business interests. Thus, it is not hard to see why some folks are already discussing how Trump will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (prohibiting U.S. officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments) when he is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

And, let's not forget that Trump "won" the presidency with about 46 % of the popular vote. In fact, his chief opponent (Hillary Clinton) garnered almost three million more votes than he did. As everyone knows, his victory was based entirely in the mathematics of the electoral college. If the George W. Bush victory in 2000 over Al Gore was questionable, what does that make Trump's victory over Clinton?

As for the man's character, there is abundant evidence that Trump is:  not very religious, a flagrant misogynist and adulterer, a narcissist and a bully. He has declared bankruptcy numerous times, refused to pay workers/contractors, fudged on charitable contributions and has steadfastly refused to release the information contained in his federal income tax forms. These facts are not in dispute - even by his supporters! These are character flaws that would have been seen as disqualifying by a majority of Americans in any of his predecessors.

Hence, for all of these reasons, Donald Trump will NEVER be my president. He may become the de facto president in January, but he will always be a pretender to this American.    

Monday, November 28, 2016

Go ahead and act like you've received a mandate!

For the majority of Americans who didn't vote for Donald Trump, don't lose hope. Yes, one man can do a lot of damage in four years; but the numbers and history do not favor him being able to make his revolution permanent.

After all, Mr. Trump won less than 47% of the popular vote. Conversely, that means that more than 53% of the American people voted for someone other than him for President. Many Americans seem oblivious to the fact that the popular vote continues to be counted long past election night and the announcement of a winner. In the weeks since the election, Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote has surpassed two million votes (and is likely to grow before the process is finished). Moreover, polling data continues to suggest that Trump has very high unfavorable ratings for a President-elect (that a majority of Americans continue to have a negative impression of him)

What does all of this mean for a Trump Presidency? The combination of victory, control of both houses of Congress and a monstrous ego are indicative of that age-old nemesis of politicians:  OVERREACH. In short, if Mr. Trump keeps all of his campaign promises and attempts to erase the last eight years, he will almost certainly be a one term president. How do I know that?

How likely do you think it is that the people who have ridiculed and rejected the policies which he espoused during the campaign are going to change their minds about them once they are enacted into law? Do you honestly think that people who have enjoyed more freedom, rights and protections in recent years are going to quietly move to the back of the bus again? Do you really believe that building a wall is going to change the direction that the nation's demographics have been moving for generations is suddenly going to grind to a halt or be reversed? Do you honestly believe that one man (no matter how talented or self-assured) can reverse/halt the march toward globalization and automation in manufacturing? Once again, do you see the rest of the world sitting on their hands and watching that happen?

If we give an honest answer to all of these questions, I believe we must conclude that the numbers and history are not on this man's side. Hence, if he hopes to have any chance at success or to serve more than four years, I humbly suggest that the President-elect not act like he has a mandate. There will be plenty of folks who will be whispering in his ears: "to the victor go the spoils!" BUT I'm also sure there are a great many folks out there who are quietly thinking about an old Clint Eastwood line:  "Go ahead, make my day!"

The Representative of American Nativism

Many of the folks who eventually voted for Donald Trump shouted "BUILD THE WALL!" at his rallies. It is ironic to me that American nativists have chosen this man as their champion.

After years of decrying the negative impact of illegal immigration on the United States and questioning Obama's American credentials, these folks have chosen a man to represent them with very shallow roots in this country!

Consider the following FACTS (not the crazy birther shit and false Muslim labels which they hurled at Obama) about The Donald:

1. His mother was born in Scotland
2. His paternal grandparents were both born in Germany and married there in 1902
3. His first wife, Ivana, was born in Communist Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic)
4. His third (and current) wife (and soon to be First Lady) was born and raised in Communist Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)
5. Thus, his most distant familial/ancestral connection to the United States of America is the immigration of his paternal grandfather to this country in the year 1885 (no roots in Colonial America, the Revolutionary War or the Civil War)
6. His religious background is not based in American traditionalism either. It is certainly not founded in the American Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian movements. Instead, it is grounded in Norman Vincent Peale's teachings about The Power of Positive Thinking
7. His business interests are GLOBAL in nature
8. Despite the fact that he was very athletic in school, he received a medical deferment in 1968 after he graduated from college - making him ineligible for the draft and military service during the Vietnam War

Nevertheless, this is the man (Donald J. Trump) that American nativists have elected to represent their interests - go figure!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Donald Trump: Fearmonger or Populist?

Many folks are wondering:  Why did so many Americans support Donald Trump for President? As there has been a great deal of speculation regarding the answers to that question within the United States, I won't be bashful about offering a few of my own thoughts about answering that question.

I believe that a great many Americans are genuinely frightened and bewildered by the changes which they see taking place in their country. They see these changes as a threat to their family, religion, culture, government and livelihood.

For them, America's changing demographics is one of the biggest drivers of these unwanted changes. They see illegal, Spanish-speaking immigrants as:  1) a threat to their English-speaking culture, 2) competitors for scarce jobs and government resources, 3) a voting block that will eventually overwhelm what little political clout they have left, 4) increasing Catholic influence in a traditionally Protestant nation, and 5) a group which threatens to fundamentally change the racial/ethnic makeup of the nation they grew up in. Then, along comes a man who promises to build a wall to keep all of those foreigners out.

Likewise, globalization and trade are seen as real threats to the America which they knew as young men and women. Good paying factory jobs appear to be a thing of the past. Energy prices seem beyond their ability to influence and control. Much of what they consume is stamped "Made in China." And, along comes a man who promises to renegotiate those bad deals and bring back American jobs.

In similar fashion, segments of their society which were formerly looked down upon, openly ridiculed and whose rights were formerly curtailed/restricted now enjoy tolerance, protection and open acceptance from many quarters of society. For them, things like women's rights, homosexual rights and abortion rights are evidence that their society's moral/spiritual state has severely deteriorated over the last fifty years. Once again, along comes a man who promises to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will uphold traditional values.

In addition to all of this, their beloved country has been ruled over by a very liberal Black man for the last eight years - a man whose father was born and raised in Kenya! Moreover, his embrace of the world - of working in concert with other nations - flies in the face of traditional isolationist tendencies and seems to undermine notions of American exceptionalism. Finally, along comes a man who promises to restore America's military might. reconsider NATO, discard the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on climate change, and erase most of the domestic "achievements" of the last eight years.

Some folks call these tendencies nativism or populism to make them seem more respectable/acceptable, but I see these things as evidence of us giving into our darker impulses and suggestive of other less-appealing "isms." Perfect love casts out fear. One of our greatest Presidents once told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Surely, we can all still see that things like compassion, empathy, tolerance, kindness and mercy represent the better angels of our nature. We can put the lipstick of nativism or populism on the pig, but it still looks like fearmongering to me!