Trump Archive

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Trump Roundup

Donald TrumpI don't know if I'm going to try to turn this into a regular feature or not, but with a president as potentially disastrous as Trump heading to the White House, I feel that it's the responsibility of everybody to keep the pressure up to not let him wreck the country. At the same time, I don't want to become obsessed with him, myself, and spend all my free time writing about him instead of other, more interesting topics. So, I'm going to provide a set of links to what other people have written recently, along with short excerpts from those articles. Today is mostly about science, though I couldn't help throwing in a few other articles. [Update - I did decide to make this a semi-regular feature. Future installments can be found in my Trump Archives.]

Scientific American - The Trump Taboo at COP 22
"With a climate skeptic transitioning the EPA and Donald Trump in the White House for the next four or eight year, there is an intense fear of failure to act quickly and strongly enough to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the accepted safe temperature rise before catastrophic consequences. That fear is valid."

Scientific American - Dan Rather: Now, More Than Ever, We Must Stand Up for Science
"The Trump administration is outlining policies that put our response to climate change in deep jeopardy and threaten to change the fundamental direction of science in the U.S."

Scientific American - Election Aftermath: The Value of Compassion and Reason
"The results of Tuesday's vote suggest that people no longer care about these virtues, but we must remember that they are essential American values" "As Americans have enigmatically rewarded Trump for his proven disdain of minorities and women, civil liberties and scientific fact, what can we do to avoid a complete collapse of empathy, compassion--and reason--over the next four years, one which could have serious ramifications for everyone's future?"

Scientific American - What Will Trump's Space Program Look Like?
"The most partisan aspect of NASA's budget has been funding for Earth Sciences. Attacks from the right have slowed the government's overall ability to monitor and understand our changing climate. The Trump Administration will almost certainly request much smaller budgets for Earth Sciences, and those cuts are likely to be supported by the House and Senate. Comparative planetary climate studies, green technologies, environmentally efficient aeronautics, and funding to projects in Blue States (the few that remain) are all at risk."

Scientific American - Yes, Trump Is Scary, but Don't Lose Faith in Progress
"In spite of occasional backward lurches, like Trump's election, humanity should keep getting healthier, wealthier, more peaceful and more free." "Trump embodies a paradox of democracy. We are free to elect someone who can do us great harm. But American democracy has proved resilient. We have survived terrible Presidents, like Richard Nixon, and George Bush. We will survive Trump, too, as long as we don't succumb to irrational fear, anger and despair, the very emotions that have fueled his rise. Then we will continue our long, perilous trek toward paradise."

Nature - What scientists should focus on -- and fear -- under Trump
"Nine experts reflect on where researchers should direct their efforts during the next US administration." "Trump's success is the crescendo of a long devaluation of the Enlightenment idea that facts are the rightful basis of action. Reason itself is under fire. This mistrust of expertise is a serious threat to the sciences and the humanities."

Nature - Reality must trump rhetoric after US election shock
"In an Editorial last month, this journal argued that Trump was unsuitable for office. His contrary approach to evidence, disrespect for those he disagrees with, and toxic attitudes to women and other groups have no place in a modern democracy. His election gives Trump the chance to prove the many people who shared that view mistaken. And that, we know for sure, is one thing Trump relishes. For those who opposed him, now is not the time to turn away from politics. There can be no normalizing or forgetting the malignant words and attitudes that Trump used on the campaign trail. But it is time to engage and to address the issues in a constructive manner."

IFL Science - Beijing Confirms That Climate Change Is Not A Chinese Hoax After All
"Speaking at the UN climate change meeting in Morocco this week, China's vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin confirmed that this particular conspiracy theory is as absurd as everyone else already knew it was. He then proceeded to give Trump a history lesson." "Trump's comments about climate change being a Chinese hoax are arguably some of his most infamous and ludicrous. Sadly, despite the fact that he's taken every possible position on everything ever, there are two things he seems consistent on - placing an anti-abortion judge on the Supreme Court, and actively destroying the environment."

Barrier Breaker - Don't tell us to hug the smirking deplorables
"He got into office by being a bully. That's the clear and inconvenient truth. I realize that it's uncomfortable. I realize that this is a time when, more than ever, you may want to have a Kum-Bah-Yah moment and pretend that there are warm feelings of unity here. I realize that anger and depression is uncomfortable. I realize that the fight has grown wearisome. I realize that you might be exhausted and just want to go along to get along. / But the fact is that if you do that now, you are teaching this country that when a bully bullies you and your friends, apologize to the bully. Hug the bully. And if your friends are seriously hurt and wounded in the worst ways possible by the bully, force them to hug the smirking bully, too."

Daylight Atheism - The America I Thought I Knew
"Given the evidence, I'm forced to accept that the America I thought I knew - that land of decency, of moral enlightenment and stubbornly slow progress - doesn't exist, and perhaps never did. There's a wide and deep streak of sadism in our society, and in this election, it found a way to express itself. America has chosen to become a much crueler nation, and hundreds of millions of people will be living with the consequences for years if not decades."

The Gaytheist Manifesto - LGBTQ Progress Trump Can Undo on Day One
"While we know that Trump may not have rolling back LGBTQ rights and protections as a top priority, we do have a Republican majority. We do know that the current Republican platform is extremely hostile to LGBTQ people, and that several members of his top staff are vehemently anti-LGBTQ. It remains to be seen whether or not Trump will sign whatever awful things Congress is sure to send his way, but there is most definitely damage he could do on day one, should he choose to do so. / According to The Center for American Progress, there are 8 executive orders President Obama has signed that Donald Trump could undo if he wanted to."

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For completeness, here are a few of the entries I've written about Trump recently.

Image Source: Google+

Thursday, November 10, 2016

'Coping' with Trump's Election

Test Anxiety, from http://cms.colum.edu/psychobabble/features/Back when I was in college, before a particularly stressful test or final, I used to help relieve some of the stress by asking myself, 'What's the worst that can happen?' Even if I bombed the test, it probably wouldn't have dropped my overall grade for the class below a C, and even if I bombed so hard that I failed the class as a whole, I'd still be able to retake the class. Hell, even if I bombed every test from then on out in college, I still had my health, and still lived in the USA in the modern day where I could be pretty sure I wouldn't starve to death like if I'd lived in some other time period or in a developing country. The exercise was always comforting because the consequences were never that bad.

Since Trump has won the election, I've briefly let myself go down that same kind of train of thought, and let me tell you, it's not reassuring. I've already written extensively about Trump's lack of qualifications and major faults. The worst that can happen due to his Presidency, with a Republican controlled House and Senate to rubber stamp his proposals, is very, very bad - trade wars, another great recession, pulling out of the Paris agreement and reversing positive action on climate change, a right-wing Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, nuclear proliferation, escalated military action leading to war, even nuclear war.

I know, things don't usually turn out as bad as our worst fears. But it's complacency to pretend that they never do. I don't even have to Godwin myself. Just think back about a decade to the Iraq War - a poorly justified war with a commander in chief who had no good overall strategy, which led to a civil war that caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq, and left a power vaccuum that gave rise to ISIS.

So, I've tried to quit wondering 'What's the worst that could happen under Trump', because it is terrifying. He's been elected, and there's nothing that can be done about it now, and nothing I can do personally to change his actions. So, I'm taking a more fatalistic approach. Trump may cause a disaster, but me staying awake at night worrying about it isn't going to change anything. Que será, será. At least, I'll keep trying to tell myself that until that knot in the pit of my stomach goes away and I can finally get a good night's sleep*.




*No, that's not poetic license. Just ask my wife who has to deal with the tossing and turning and the light from my iPhone at 3 am.

For anyone interested, you can read my more immediate reaction here, 2016's Depressing Election Results. I'll also repeat the link to my thorough analysis of Trump, Donald Trump Unfit to Be President - Vote for Hillary Clinton.

And as long as I'm still talking about the election, here are a few more good links that, if not perfect reflections of my thoughts on the matter, are still pretty close. I also included an excerpt from each one.

  • Bad Astronomy - A Dark Day "These are dark times, and for the first time in my life I seriously fear for the future of my country. Even when George W. Bush was elected I didn't feel this as deeply as I do now. Trump is a monster."
     
  • Pharyngula - What happened? "It's tempting to say we'll get through this and have a better day in 2020. The lesson I've learned is that we won't: that I lived through them doesn't mean that others didn't suffer and die. Reagan presided over the deaths by negligence of so many gay people; he laid a foundation of racism and contempt for government that we still have to deal with. Bush wrecked our foreign policy and killed thousands of our own and hundreds of thousands of others -- don't dismiss that by announcing that you survived his reign. Who knows what chaos Trump will sow, but people will be hurt. They will be hurt right now. Black people are being murdered by the police, immigrants are being oppressed right now, and we do not have the luxury of waiting the new regime out. It is not consolation to say that the pain will be selective and that the survivors will survive."
     
  • Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Welcome to Nov. 9th. We're Screwed. "But then again, we're all screwed. In addition to the feelings I listed above, I am also ashamed, deeply ashamed, that this country just elected a megalomaniacal, racist, misogynist, narcissistic, sociopathic sexual predator as its president. I never thought that would happen. I was certain that it wouldn't. I didn't think more than 40% of the country would vote for such a grotesque excuse for a human being. I was wrong. For once, I wasn't cynical enough about this country."
     
  • Love, Joy, Feminism - Tomorrow We Fight "Last night, my daughter lost her innocence. She had thought we lived in a world of possibilities, a world where a woman could be president and her young immigrant friends could share in the American Dream. Today that world has changed. Today she lives in a country that elected Donald Trump."
     
  • Daylight Atheism - The Morning After "The next few years are going to be an utter disaster. The Affordable Care Act and every other achievement of Obama's presidency will be wiped away. The Supreme Court will swing hard to the right for decades. The religious right will get everything they ever wanted. Climate change is never going to be stopped in time now. And all of that pales at the thought of a vindictive egomaniac with the nuclear launch codes."


Yesterday I said I'd give myself a day or two to mourn this tragedy. Today is day two, so tomorrow is back to the grind. I expect to write more, a LOT more, about Trump's presidency (holy f*ck does that sound horrible), but I'll try to keep future posts constructive, and not just lamenting the tragedy that I expect his presidency to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016's Depressing Election Results

Sad Uncle SamToday is a sad, sad day in American history. As a people, we have elected by far the worst presidential candidate in the modern era, and quite probably in all of U.S. history. As I've written several times now, Donald Trump is a proto-fascist demagogue with no relevant skills for the position, a frightening lack of foreign policy knowledge, a poor track record in business, an abysmal history of scandal and alleged criminal conduct, a complete lack of regard for truth and honesty, and a demeanor wholly unbefitting of the oval office, on top of his bigotry against many minority groups. But he was elected fairly. John Wayne may have said, "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job," and while I do sincerely hope that, I fully expect Trump to be very, very bad for this country. My principal hope is that he's not as disastrous as I fear he will be, or maybe that he actually will be convicted of one of his many alleged crimes and be impeached, though that would still leave us with Mike Pence, who is only a decent candidate in comparison to Trump.

And the Republicans maintained control of the House and Senate on top of winning the presidency. We will now have the deck stacked fully in favor of Republicans, at a time when the party has become increasingly extremist. This is not the responsible Republican party of Eisenhower or Reagan (even if they had some bad policies). This is the Tea Party Republican party of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Not only will they have near free reign in passing their legislation, Trump will be free to nominate extremely partisan right-wing Supreme Court justices. Let's hope that Scalia and Thomas are the only two justices he gets to replace, or we may see extremely important decisions like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges get turned back.

Statewide in Texas, things didn't turn out much better. Granted, as I wrote previously, I voted for Republicans in several races because they were the most qualified. But even in races where there were better qualified Democrats running in opposition, the Republicans won nearly every statewide race. Our State Board of Education, which has a history of Republican extremism, didn't pick up any moderates.

If there's a silver lining in any of this, it's that it looks like Clinton is going to win the popular vote. It may not make any difference in the election, but at least we can say that more Americans supported her than Trump.

Watching CNN last night, I saw Van Jones make some very moving comments on the nature of these results. Everybody should watch this video (or read about it on The Daily Beast). "People have talked about a miracle. I'm hearing about a nightmare." "How do I explain this to my children?"

Here's one more story that reflects the way I feel right now:
The New Yorker - An American Tragedy

I know some people are saying that America has survived worse before, but that's faint consolation for the people who will be affected by Trump's dangerous policies. We survived a Civil War, but hundreds of thousands of people died in the process, with countless more injured. We survived the Great Depression, but with over a decade worth of suffering. We survived George Bush, but with another economic recession, thousands of U.S. soldiers killed, and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Sure, the U.S. as a nation will survive Donald Trump, but how many people will suffer or die because of him?

I am disappointed, disheartened, appalled, and anxious for our nation's future. But what's done is done, and there's no changing the election results, now. I may give myself a day or two to mourn this tragedy, but I will then move on, and continue to fight the good fight and do what I think is best for the people of this nation. I will not let the bigotry and fear-mongering of Trump define who we are. We may not have demonstrated it yesterday, but we are better than that.

Uncle Sam Image Source: FairEconomy.org

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BTW, here are two links to entries I wrote before the election, the first my warning about electing Trump, and the second a summary of & my endorsements for the Texas SBOE races:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Donald Trump Unfit to Be President - Vote for Hillary Clinton

Trump vs. Clinton

The election is a week away, and Donald Trump is gaining in the polls. Please, fellow Americans, come to your senses and don't cast a single vote for this man. Cast your vote for the only candidate with a realistic chance of defeating him, Hillary Clinton. While she may not be perfect, she's experienced, competent, level-headed, and far, far more truthful than Trump.

Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president. He is a proto-fascist demagogue with no relevant skills for the position, a frightening lack of foreign policy knowledge, a poor track record in business, an abysmal history of scandal and alleged criminal conduct, a complete lack of regard for truth and honesty, and a demeanor wholly unbefitting of the oval office. He would be a disaster for the country.

Contents


What Others Have Said

As the Atlantic put it in their endorsement of Clinton (only their third presidential endorsement in their 159 year history):

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America's nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.

To quote the Foreign Policy Journal's endorsement of Clinton (their first presidential endorsement in their entire 50 year history):

Beyond this, however, in the areas in which we at FP specialize, he has repeatedly demonstrated his ignorance of the most basic facts of international affairs, let alone the nuances so crucial to the responsibilities of diplomacy inherent in the U.S. president's daily responsibilities. Trump has not only promoted the leadership of a tyrant and menace like Vladimir Putin, but he has welcomed Russian meddling in the current U.S. election. He has alternatively forgiven then defended Russia's invasion of Crimea and employed advisors with close ties to the Russian president and his cronies. Trump has spoken so cavalierly about the use of nuclear weapons, including a repeated willingness to use them against terrorists, that it has become clear he understands little if anything about America's nuclear policies -- not to mention the moral, legal, and human consequences of such actions. He has embraced the use of torture and the violation of international law against it. He has suggested he would ignore America's treaty obligations and would only conditionally support allies in need. He has repeatedly insulted Mexico and proposed policies that would inflame and damage one of America's most vital trading relationships with that country.

They go on for several more paragraphs listing the disqualifying qualities and actions of Trump, then add their endorsement for Clinton:

Fortunately, not only is Trump opposed by a worthy candidate, but his opponent is, on foreign-policy and national security issues -- all of the areas we cover here at FP -- one of the best qualified candidates this country has produced since World War II. As first lady, New York senator, and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton regularly distinguished herself by her intelligence, dogged work ethic, ability to work across the political aisle, and leadership on difficult issues. She has devoted her entire life to public service and has been a powerful and effective advocate for women, children, and those in need at home and abroad. Whether you agree with all the policy stances of her campaign or not, impartial eyes will conclude that her proposals on climate change, combating terrorism, and human rights are thoughtful and comprehensive -- and ultimately worthy of consideration.

Trump is the worst presidential candidate in modern history, possibly in all of U.S. history. Even publications that don't normally endorse any candidate, or who normally endorse conservative candidates, have come out in support of Clinton, or at the very least in opposition to Trump. An unprecedented number of high ranking Republicans have broken ranks to either endorse Clinton, or dis-endorse Trump. Even if you normally vote Republican, please don't let party loyalty blind you to the danger Trump presents to the nation and the world.


Climate Change

Climate change is perhaps the biggest issue facing the world right now (at the very least hugely important). Trump has said that he thinks climate change is a hoax, and that he would undo the Paris agreement. That's a truly awful position, with negative effects in our own lifetimes, but absolutely disastrous effects for our children. We need to take responsibility and take action now, not bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem. (more info: N.Y. Times - For Clinton and Trump, There's Little Debating a Climate Change Divide and Trump's Stance on the Paris Climate Agreement is Criticized by 375 Scientists).

I'm not going to use this entry itself to go into the evidence for climate change, other than to provide a few links:


Honesty and Integrity

Trump is unprecedented in the amount he lies during campaigning. Here's a recent article, One Chart Addresses a Misconception About Hillary Clinton, which reprinted a graphic where someone had compiled various candidates' statements from Politifact and graphed them, as shown below.

Who Lies More: A Comparison: Politifact, an independent fact-checking website, has graded more than 50 statements since 2007 from each of these candidates.  Here is how they rank.
More than 3/4 of Trump's claims have been rated Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. Less than 10% of his statements have been either True or Mostly True. And some of his lies, no matter how many times he gets called out on them, he continues to just repeat over and over (e.g. opposing the Iraq War, seeing Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks, etc.). Compare that to Clinton, who was rated Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire less than 30% of the time, and True or Mostly True more than half the time - actually the second most honest out of the politicians they compared. Here's another article discussing Trump's brazen lying, Washington Post - All of Donald Trump's Four-Pinocchio ratings, in one place, which opened with the line, "There's never been a presidential candidate like Donald Trump -- someone so cavalier about the facts and so unwilling to ever admit error, even in the face of overwhelming evidence."

And those articles were written before Trump starting going full-bore into conspiracy theories of rigged elections and global cabals working with international banks to undermine U.S. sovereignty (though he was already well into conspiracy theory territory with his earlier birther nonsense). Trump appears to be a man who will say or do anything to try to gain power. (more info: Vox - It's time to acknowledge reality: Donald Trump talks like an anti-Semite)


Sexual Assault & Alleged Child Sex Trafficking

Too many people have tried to dismiss Trump's deplorable comments in the Access Hollywood tape as mere 'locker room talk'. Using crude language may be 'locker room talk'. Bragging about hookups may be 'locker room talk'. Bragging about sexual assault is NOT 'locker room talk'. It's bragging about a crime.

And now that so many women are coming forward accusing Trump of sexual assault, it's even harder to dismiss those comments. I've seen far too many people try to defend Trump by accusing these women of lying. But it's not as if it's only one or two women. It's multiple women, and these alleged actions fit with statements Trump has made in the past. And with so many people now accusing the victims of lying, is it any wonder why these women were so reluctant to come forward earlier (related: Rolling Stone - It's No Mystery Why Trump's Accusers Waited to Come Forward and Vox - 6 people went on the record to back up a reporter who says Trump assaulted her)?

Even more shocking and disgusting is an article that came out last week in the Daily Beast, Inside Donald Trump's One-Stop Parties: Attendees Recall Cocaine and Very Young Models. Personally, the cocaine portion of that doesn't bother me much (and an interviewee claims Trump didn't do any coke, himself). It's the underage girls that's disgusting.

But did he have sex with his female party guests? "So, he's a man with a woman," Lucchesi says vaguely. How old were they? "A lot of girls, 14, look 24. That's as juicy as I can get. I never asked how old they were; I just partook. I did partake in activities that would be controversial, too."


Other Scandals and Alleged Criminal Activity

Trump's list of scandals and alleged criminal activity is almost too long to list. For a primer, here's an article from The Atlantic, The Atlantic - The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet. Here's another from the Washington Post, discussing both the amount of scandal in Trump's past, and the uneven coverage the media gives to Clinton's scandals vs. Trump's, Trump's history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?.

Here's a brief summary of just some of these accusations (the articles list a lot more), along with a few sources in addition to the two articles above:

  • History of destroying records pertinent to court cases (Newsweek - Donald Trump's Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders)
  • Racial housing discrimination
  • Mafia ties (including inviting mob associates onto his yacht and giving mob associates special favors at his casino)
  • Fraud with Trump University
  • Bribing politicians to escape prosecution over the Trump University fraud (The Atlantic - Was Trump Fibbing About Buying Politicians Then or Now?)
  • Hiring illegal Polish immigrants for a construction site, then paying them a pittance and threatening them with deportation when they asked for more money
  • Long record of workers and contractors that he's stiffed over the years
  • Trafficking illegal immigrants to work as models (he might actually get criminally investigated over that one)
  • Illegal loan from his father and other violations of gambling regulations
  • The Trump Foundation improperly spending funds (and not really being financed by Trump)
  • Illegal business dealings in Cuba violating the trade embargo

The list goes on. For another perspective, consider Jon Oliver's take. You can read highlights on Vox, John Oliver: Clinton's scandals may upset you, but "you should then be f*cking outraged by Trump's", or watch the clip below.

As Oliver stated in reference to Clinton, "We've spent several frustrating weeks trolling through all the innuendo and exaggeration surrounding her email and foundation scandals. And the worst thing you can say is they both look bad, but the harder you actually look, the less you actually find." Whereas in reference to Trump, he said, "He is ethically compromised to an almost unprecedented degree." To put them in comparison, he said, "This campaign has been dominated by scandals, but it is dangerous to think that there is an equal number on both sides. And you can be irritated by some of Hillary's ― that is understandable ― but you should then be f*cking outraged by Trump's."


Racism, Xenophobia, and War Crimes

Those scandals above don't even count some of the outlandish and disgusting things Trump has said while campaigning.

And that's just a sampling of things he's said.


Income Taxes

Regarding Trump's taxes, the main issue isn't how much or little he's paid, but the fact that he's refusing to release his tax returns, breaking with precedent going back to Nixon, and then lying about the reason. The IRS has said that Trump is free to release his returns even while he is under audit. We usually demand transparency in our politicians, but here's a candidate opting for opacity before he's even been elected. What is he hiding? (more info: Fortune - 5 Things You Need to Know About Donald Trump's Tax Returns)


Threat to Global Economy

The Economist, hardly a liberal rag, keeps a monthly list of the top 10 threats to the global economy. For the past several months, they've included the possibility of a Trump presidency in that list. Currently, they rank him as dangerous to the world economy as 'The rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilises the global economy'. Their latest analysis, updated October 19th, warns of a potential "trade war", that "His militaristic tendencies towards the Middle East (and proposed ban on all Muslim travel to the US) would be a potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups", "his vocal scepticism towards NATO would weaken efforts to contain Russia's expansionist tendencies", and that "even more alarmingly, his stated indifference towards nuclear proliferation in Asia raises the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the world's most heavily populated continent". (more info - The Economist - 'President Trump' as big a threat as jihadi terror to global economy - EIU and The Economist Global Forecasting Service - Global risk)


Business Experience

One of Trump's main claimed qualifications for the presidency is that he's a successful businessman. There are two sides to this - does success in business translate to politics? And how successful is Trump, anyway?

Business experience doesn't necessarily translate to governing. Here's an article from U.S. News & World Report, Businessman in Chief? It notes that past presidents with business experience include both Bushes, Herbert Hoover, Warren G. Harding, Jimmy Carter, Andrew Johnson and Calvin Coolidge, and then quotes history professor, Peter Kastor, stating, that "they all struggled in one way or another." It quoted another professor, Bruce Mirnoff, "Historically, those people who have been in business have not done very well. The people who have been our best presidents have mainly been the much despised career politicians like FDR." The article then went on to explain why the skills needed to be successful in business don't necessarily translate to being successful in politics or government. To be thorough, it did note that if you blur the lines between businessman and politician, for example Washington's and Jefferson's experiences as planters, that those politicians have been able to successfully use their managerial skills in the White House. But the larger point is that based on the actual history of men who have been presidents, "Being a successful businessman is not necessarily indicative of being a successful president."

In truth, Trump's busienss record is actually rather spotty, and in his early career he relied heavily on the wealth and reputation of his father. To quote Michael d'Antonio who wrote a biography of Trump, "I think he's very good at real estate, I don't think he's very good at other things. He tried to run an airline and failed at that. He tried to run casinos and failed four times. That's not evidence of brilliance when it comes to operating a complex business." (more info: Washington Post - The myth and the reality of Donald Trump's business empire)

Here's an article that goes into much more depth, Quora - William Murphy's Answer to Why do people forget that Donald Trump is a successful businessman?.

Basically, Trump got lucky. With $20 million worth of capital thanks to his father, he invested in N.Y. real estate at a time when prices happened to be low. He was losing money on all his properties, but when the market boomed in the '80s, he was able to borrow against the value of those properties. When the bubble burst in the late '80s, his huge debts and negative cash flow forced him into bankruptcy, but he had managed to separate his business from his personal wealth, so he didn't lose his own money. He went on to declare bankruptcy 5 more times over the next 20 years - always leaving his investors holding the bag while protecting himself. And it's not as if he's even made brilliant or savvy investments for himself - the S&P 500 grew 4 ½ times more than Trump's wealth since 1987. He'd be worth more if he'd simply invested in index funds.

If Trump manages to become President and tries to run the country the same way he's run his businesses, he'll be damn sure to protect his own personal wealth, while we the taxpayers will be left footing the bill for the mess he leaves. We're just now recovering from the recession left behind by the Bush administration. I don't particularly want to go through all that again.


Constitutional Rights

Trump doesn't seem to be a fan of Constitutional rights. In the third debate, he came out in opposition to the Fourth Amendment, supporting Stop and Frisk, even after it's been ruled unconstitutional (not to mention that policy's disregard for the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause). And even that's after Stop and Frisk was shown to be ineffective, when crime rates continued to drop in NYC even after Stop and Frisk was discontinued. So he's supporting a discriminatory, unconstitutional policy, that doesn't even accomplish what it's supposed to. (more info: Vox - Trump wants to recreate New York's unconstitutional, ineffective stop-and-frisk program)

Trump's threats and rhetoric against the press have led to increased security of the press at his rallies to protect them from increasingly agitated crowds who have confronted and shouted threats at the press. To quote a New York Times article, Partisan Crowds at Trump Rallies Menace and Frighten News Media, it's gotten so bad that "the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group often focused on defending press freedoms in war-torn and totalitarian countries, made a rare statement regarding American elections. 'Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values,' Sandra Mims Rowe, the chairwoman for the group, said in a statement Thursday night, announcing that the group had 'passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to C.P.J.'s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.' "


Building a Wall

Trump's position on securing the border is ludicrous. The centerpiece of his border security plan is to build a wall, and have Mexico pay for it. Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal, hardly known for liberal bias, pointing out the many problems with this plan, Some Big Holes in Trump's Wall. Here are a couple more articles describing the follies of this proposal, BBC - How realistic is Donald Trump's Mexico wall? and Brookings Institute - Donald Trump's plan to build a wall is really dangerous. Even the Center for Immigration Studies, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "the anti-immigrant movement's leading think tank", and in other articles as having "never found any aspect of immigration that it liked", has an article, Border Fencing: One Tool among Many, describing why a fence along the whole U.S. - Mexico border isn't a practical approach to border security.

It's not a serious proposal at all, and just further emphasizes Trump's ignorance on foreign policy issues. (See also the Foreign Policy Journal link already mentioned above for a much more thorough assessment of his foreign policy inadequacies.)


Tax Plan

Trump's tax plan is massive tax cuts for the wealthy, in the hopes that this will increase GDP growth so 'bigley' that the government won't have problems raising tax revenues without having to raise tax rates. But this plan, like so many other of Trump's proposals, would be disastrous. I'm actually going to go into a little more detail on this than some of the other sections of this entry, so skip ahead if you're not particularly interested.

Here's an article in the Atlantic, Tax Cuts Don't Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds. Here's one figure from the article:

Economic Growth Plotted with Tax Hikes and Cuts

As the article is quick to point out, even though the correlations in this figure are tax hikes prior to periods of economic growth and tax cuts prior to periods of economic decline, they don't prove that the correlation is causation. But they do demonstrate that the opposite is not true either - tax cuts don't automatically improve the economy, and tax hikes don't automatically harm it.

Here's another article, this one from NPR, FACT CHECK: Do Tax Cuts Grow The Economy? They also make the point that it's complicated. They state that well defined tax plans can boost the economy, but that the devil's in the details. For example, "According to a 2012 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (referenced by the New York Times' David Leonhardt in a 2012 column), top marginal tax rates and economic growth have not appeared correlated over the past 60 years." They also made the point that tax cuts to lower income individuals can create more of a boost than tax cuts to wealthy individuals, because lower income people are more likely to go out and spend their extra money. It's a myth that the wealthy will pour their tax savings back into the economy through investment. If there's anything that trickle-down economics has achieved, it's the growing wealth and income inequality in the nation as the wealthy have consolidated their wealth. Here's a graph from the Pacific Standard article, The IMF Confirms That 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is, Indeed, a Joke showing how trickle-down economics has disproportionately benefited the wealthy (there are plenty of other sources, as well, such as Slate - The Shocking Rise of Wealth Inequality: Is it Worse Than We Thought?). That article also cites an IMF study confirming that tax cuts to lower income individuals improve GDP growth more than tax cuts to the wealthy, and that tax cuts to the wealthy can even hurt GDP growth.

U.S. Distribution of Average Income Growth During Expansion
The NPR article also points out that tax cuts come at a cost to revenue - one that's not made up for by any potential growth they might cause. "In that Chicago survey of economists, 71 percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed that tax cuts would lead to higher revenue in the next five years. Meanwhile, zero percent agreed that cutting taxes would raise revenue in the next five years." In reference to Trump's plan in particular, they cited an estimate by the Tax Foundation, a "a right-leaning tax policy think tank in Washington, D.C." The Tax Foundation found that "Trump's plan, by this math, cuts revenue by $10 trillion over 10 years."

If you're really concerned with trying to balance the budget and reduce the deficit and debt (which we all should be), Trump's tax plan would be a disaster. The cuts to revenue would cripple our nation's ability to pay its bills, causing the deficit and debt to skyrocket. I know nobody particularly likes to pay taxes, but as former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once wrote, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society". We have to be adults about it and recognize that the necessary services and infrastructure that government provide come at a cost that all responsible citizens should help pay for.

And if you want to get into the history of tax rates on the wealthy and on businesses, right now we're at historic lows. Here are two graphs from Wikipedia. The top marginal tax rate right now is 40% - not the absolute lowest it's been in the past century, but not too far off. Compare that to what it was just subsequent to WWII - over 90%, which didn't seem to put a damper on Post-World War II economic expansion. Even throughout the '60s and '70s, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. And take a look at the effective corporate tax rates. We're at historic lows there, as well.

Historical Marginal Tax Rate for Highest and Lowest Wage Earners
U.S. Effective Corporate Tax Rate 1947-2011
Here's another graph to put spending and revenue in perspective. It shows total federal income as a percentage of GDP, along with total federal spending (data from USGovernmentRevenue.com and USGovernmentSpending.com). Yes, in 2009, spending peaked while revenues hit their lowest. But that's just what you expect from a recession - the tax base is lower, so revenue goes down, while welfare and stimulus spending increase. And in this past recession, the spending was compounded by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But now that the economy is recovering, look at those trends. Total spending is decreasing, while revenues are coming back up to historical levels. Spending is still a little high compared to what it's been in the past, so we do need to take a hard look at cutting unnecessary spending, but there's no need to do anything drastic. If we're going to be responsible about it, balancing the budget needs to be a combination of spending cuts and maintaining revenue at required levels, not some pie in the sky fantasy about unrealistic economic growth.
Federal Revenue and Spending, 1940-2015


Clinton's E-mail Scandal

I know that some people plan to vote for Trump not because they particularly like him, but because they don't like Clinton, and the email scandal seems to be one of the big reasons. The email scandal has plagued Clinton this entire campaign, and now it appears that it may be the issue costing her the most support as election day draws near. It is a legitimate scandal, but it also highlights how harshly Clinton gets treated compared to other politicians. Not that it excuses her behavior, but compare how the press has responded to Clinton's use of a private email server and subsequent deletion of emails to the Bush administration's use of a private email server and subsequent deletion of emails - millions of emails, in fact: Media Matters - FLASHBACK: When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug.

The supposedly 'liberal media' spent a day or two and little ink covering the Bush administration email scandal (a Fox co-host even went so far as to say, "I mean, deleted e-mails, who cares?"), then goes crazy over pretty much the same thing when it's Hillary Clinton. Like I said, it doesn't excuse her actions, and I honestly would have liked to have seen far more coverage on the Bush administration, but it is indicative of lopsided coverage.

Even when the FBI thoroughly investigated the matter of her emails previously, and Comey recommended that the case be closed without charges, some people didn't drop the e-mail issue, and continued insisting that Clinton must have committed a crime. Now, a new possible source of emails have been found, but the FBI doesn't even know what's on them. They're investigating to be thorough, not because they have any smoking gun. In fact, when Comey sent the letter to Congress on Friday (possibly in violation of the Hatch Act), the FBI didn't even yet have a warrant, and had absolutely no idea what was contained in these new Anthony Weiner emails. They certainly do not have any known significant evidence of her wrong doing. (more info: FBI has obtained warrant to search newly discovered emails potentially relevant to Clinton probe.)

I think it's pretty safe to say, though, that even if this new batch of emails doesn't change anything with the investigation (which is what I fully expect to be the case), there will still be people claiming that Clinton should be charged with something, even after the FBI makes their recommendations. But that shouldn't be the case. The previous FBI investigation cleared her, and as of right now, there's no reason to think that there will be incriminating evidence in this new investigation.

[Update 2016-11-08: The FBI has finished looking through these latest e-mails, and found nothing to change their previous conclusions, as reported by CNN in FBI clears Clinton -- again. But, just as I suspected, this hasn't put the matter to rest like it should have. Trump himself claimed, "You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days. You can't do it, folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty," and many of his supporters seem to be echoing similar sentiments. Of course, as explained in the Wired article, Yes, Donald Trump, the FBI Can Vet 650,000 Emails in Eight Days, the FBI certainly does have the resources and technology to do this. But it seems like no matter how many investigations clear Clinton, there's a certain group of people who will refuse to accept the findings, and go on to new accusations or conspiracy theories about why she must be guilty. It's a mindset discussed in another article, Clinton's critics know she's guilty, they're just trying to decide what she's guilty of: The Prime Directive driving bad Clinton coverage. Don't be one of those people. Clinton has been thoroughly investigated over the email issue, and the FBI has found nothing to charge her over.]


Benghazi

Outside of the e-mail scandal, Benghazi seems to be what I see brought up the most in opposition to Clinton. But it really seems like a mostly manufactured controversy. There have already been 10 congressional committees, 33 public hearings, 4 public hearings, and 13 reports investigating what happened in Benghazi (source), none of which found any major wrongdoing on Clinton's part. Shouldn't that be enough already?

To borrow from something I wrote previously, here's one of the better discussions of Benghazi I've read, Christopher Knox's Quora Answer to Why is Hillary Clinton blamed for Benghazi attacks? Is she responsible for the security failure and the deaths?. It really covers the whole thing quite well, putting the attack into perspective without trivializing it. Here's one of the more interesting graphs he used.

Attacks on U.S. Diplomatic Targets

Again, this isn't to trivialize what happened, nor say that Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration didn't make any mistakes in Benghazi. I'm just saying to keep it in perspective. Attacks on U.S. diplomatic targets are, unfortunately, a reality. There were 13 similar attacks under the Bush administration without anywhere near the uproar this attack has caused (not to mention the vastly more deadly 9/11 attacks on American soil). This incident has already been investigated extensively, without finding any egregious mistakes. And while the nation should try to learn from each of these attacks to improve safety in the future, it seems wildly out of proportion to spend so much time and expend so much effort on this one attack, in particular. It seems much more like a witch hunt than a sincere effort to learn any lessons. It's time to quit politicizing this attack, take what legitimate lessons could be learned from it, and try to minimize the risk of similar attacks in the future.

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I'll admit that Clinton wasn't my top pick at the start of the primary season. But at this point, it's not even a close contest as to who is the better option. Donald Trump is unhinged, uninformed, incompetent, racist, and a compulsive liar. He would make a horrible, horrible president, and would be a disaster for both the U.S. and the rest of the world. This man absolutely must not become the next President of the United States. To quote from The Atlantic one final time:

If Hillary Clinton were facing Mitt Romney, or John McCain, or George W. Bush, or, for that matter, any of the leading candidates Trump vanquished in the Republican primaries, we would not have contemplated making this endorsement. We believe in American democracy, in which individuals from various parties of different ideological stripes can advance their ideas and compete for the affection of voters. But Trump is not a man of ideas. He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters--the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box--should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent.

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