Mr. Trump, We’ve Seen The bombast, Now Where’s The Meat?

As children we learn early to distinguish between fabrication and truth. Children have a unique ability to tell the difference between pretense and honesty.  As we get older we learn to distinguish between a slick used car salesman and someone who is honest and sincere.  We are told by those who are older and more experienced that these are important lessons to learn because there are all too many people out there who would like to take advantage of our trusting nature.  Yet it seems that when it comes to politics there are many of us who quickly forget those early childhood lessons and willfully allow ourselves to be swayed by the flimsiest and most baseless rhetoric.  Thirteen million Republican primary voters allowed it to happen to them and now we have Trump to thank them for.

The campaign Donald Trump ran during the primary season was filled with baseless personal attacks, half-truths and not so subtle inferences.  It was heavy on bombast and light on substance.  When challenged to explain how he would achieve the many goals he stated he just said believe me, it will be the best ever. When challenged to explain how he would reach these superlative goals he explained that he couldn’t give that information away but believe him, it will be great, the greatest.  The fact is that thirteen million Republican primary voters did believe him.  But primary season is over. Trump won the top position in the big leagues-he’s now the party nominee.  At this level the performance expectations are higher and more sophisticated.  The audience is broader and, in many cases more knowledgable and aware.  Additionally, being placed at the top of the ticket creates additional expectations and responsibilities that didn’t exist darting the primary season.  The future hopes and dreams of the entire Republican party are dependent on Trumps ability to succeed.  The big question is how this opportunistic narcissist will react to the new world that currently confronts him.

Since his less-than stellar convention Trump has favored us with two “very important” policy speeches.  We knew that they were important because they were among the rare occasions in  which he used a teleprompter.  The world awaited with great anticipation the words on the economic  and foreign relations plans for the future that would be spoken by the Republican nominee for President of the United States.  As we watched and listened we heard many platitudes and a great deal of bombast.  However, any professional economist or member of the national security community who listened is still awaiting the substance.  He presented these speeches with great seriousness and a brevity rarely seen in this candidate.  Yet, neither speech contained a realistic and fact-based prescription for an American economy or foreign relations plan for the future. These speeches proved once again that Trump is a “light weight” when it comes to truly understanding the intricate and complex issues confronting our nation and the world.  This is not information that is easily attained through  a life as a businessman. However what is quite clear is that not only doesn’t he know, but it is jarringly evident that he doesn’t have the intellectual curiosity or self-discipline to learn.

The Trump campaign has just gone through another reorganization.  They say that it is an expansion, but we have learned to distinguish the used car salesman from the honest sincere person, so we know it is a reorganization.  But the fact that there is a campaign reorganization isn’t the issue.  Most candidates go through this process during a hard-fought campaign.  What is key here is that the campaign has reorganized to move away from the traditional and has moved again toward a more bombastic and innuendo-based direction.  It has moved away from the “general election pivot” to “letting Trump be Trump”.  It is obvious that there is nothing beyond the bombast.  What we’ve seen is what we’ve got.  There is no meat to fill in the empty plates.  Yet, let’s not forget that thirteen million voters like what they see.  That is perhaps the most frightening fact of all.

 

The Bottom Is As Important As The Top

The media has been obsessing with the top of the ticket for months.  Certainly, there has been no shortage of opportunities to write about this unprecedented presidential  race.    While there can be no doubt that this race is vital to the future of our country, it is far from the only race that will impact on our lives over the next four years.  Our forefathers were very clever in defining the distinct role of our federal government as separate from that of our state and local governments.  While there have been many battles over exactly what that delineation is, there is no doubt that many of the laws and opportunities that have a direct impact on our lives are regulated and determined by our state and local governments.  It is the bottom of the ballot that is too often forgotten and relegated to being an afterthought rather than a priority.

When we consider the many issues decided locally we are reminded of the incredible power that is concentrated in our state, county and city governments. In fact, most of the decisions that impact most directly on our lives are local issues.  For example, state income tax, sales tax, property tax and user fees impact on our livelihood.  State and local boards of education dictate school curricula.  City councils determine which books are purchased by our libraries as well as zoning laws and community development priorities.  Additionally local governments are responsible for providing for the health and safety of its citizens and the regulation of utilities.  State and local governments are responsible maintaining the roads and infrastructure. It is therefore obvious that participating in the selection of those local leaders is an obligation that should not be overlooked.

While most often state, county and local governments act in the best interests of its citizenry, there are times when due to ideological imbalance the opposite is the case.  For example:

  • Some states have made it particularly difficult for women to have an abortion.  They say that the laws that they have passed are to protect women, but it is obvious that their only goal is to make abortions less available.
  • There are cities and states that have passed extremely lenient gun laws, allowing for open carry in bars, churches and on university campuses.  They say that this is to decrease the violent use of guns, that the only way to deter violence is with “good guys with guns”.  But we know that there is a false interpretation of the 2nd Amendment at play here.
  • There are states that have passed particularly onerous voters registration laws.  They say it is to protect us from voter fraud,  but we know it is to reduce voter participation  among the elderly, the young and minorities.
  • There are local governments that have refused to allow their registrars to approve marriage licenses for gay couples.  They say it is to protect the sanctity of marriage, but we know that it is to codify their homophobia.
  • There are boards of education that have required that Creationism be included in the school curricula.  They say it is to present balance, but we know it is to sneak religion into the secular curriculum.
  • There are states that refuse to participate in programs that protect the environment and slow climate change.  They call climate change a hoax, but we know that there are powerful corporations involved in this decision.

Every issue that I discussed above is impacted by local congressman, senators, state legislators, county executives, county commissions, city councils and mayors.  All are at the bottom of the ballot .  Don’t ignore them.  Vote in November and take the time to consider your community and who can best serve your beliefs if elected.

What Sour Residue Will Trump Leave Behind?

It’s beginning to look like an ultimate Clinton victory. Certainly however, in this unprecedented and unpredictable year, I make that statement with less conviction than I would like to. The polls seem to be hardening after the completion of the conventions and most importantly the tossup states that are critical to a Trump victory are moving further and further away from him. His path to electoral success has narrowed and the odds seem to be against a Trump victory.  A growing number of establishment Republicans have stated clearly that they will not support Trump in the election. Yet Trump has steadfastly held onto the millions who comprise his core support regardless of his many missteps. His coalition of militia members, white supremacists and disgruntled, uneducated whites has filled his rallies and cheered him with unreserved gusto. They provided him with more votes during the Republican Primary season than any candidate in history. Perhaps however, reality is beginning to take hold within the Trump campaign. Something new is beginning to emerge from the candidate and his surrogates. His complaints about the press and the scheduling of the debates has now turned to concern that the “election is going to be rigged”. He is preparing his followers for a loss.

This terrifying coalition of malcontents has for the first time been brought in out of the fringe. They are now represented by a national political party candidate for president. He has given voice to their fears, prejudices and warped dreams while empowering them on the national stage. This is a group that is convinced that the cards are stacked against them and Trump has been telling them that they are right. He has been telling them that their problems are caused by the “other” and that keeping them out will solve all of their problems. Trump has been telling them that the system is rigged against them and that he and only he will change things and make their lives more secure and successful. He’s been telling them that America is disrespected and being pushed around by others. He has convinced them that he will be tough and “make America great again”. He and only he has the ability, strength and vision to solve America’s problems. Most concerning, however, is that he is convincing them that the only way he will lose this election is if the election is rigged. By doing this he delegitimizes the results of the election in their eyes and places our democracy in mortal danger. l[

The big and unanswerable question is how this group will react if they are convinced that their leader has been cheated out of the presidency. This question becomes even more daunting when we realize that many members of this group are affiliated with the militia movement and white supremacy organizations. It is a group that is well-armed and in some cases well-trained. Certainly I am not predicting an armed rebellion. However, we would be foolish to ignore the potential reaction. In their view the person who becomes president (if not Trump) will have achieved this high office illegally and therefore will have no legal authority. While they have questioned government authority in the past, this time they are convinced that they are right. After all, Donald Trump, their leader, told them it was true. He has told them that the election was rigged.

This irresponsible behavior of Donald Trump is mind-boggling. His words places us all at risk. If he is unaware of what he is doing he proves his lack of qualification for the presidency. If he is doing this knowingly, he proves just how dangerous he is to our nation and our democracy.

He’s Betting On Your Ignorance

Self-confidence is a character trait we all try to instill in our children.  A healthy ego enables us to withstand life’s challenges.  A realistic worldview provides us with the perspective to understand the events that occur around us everyday.  Respect for those we come into contact with through work and play regardless of their particular uniqueness is something we are taught as children.  When any of these learned behaviors and traits are underdeveloped a person may face a variety of difficulties in life.  When all of them are out of whack you come up with Donald J. Trump.  He is a man whose ego and self-confidence are disproportionately large when compared to his lack of a realistic worldview and  respect for individuals regardless of their particular uniqueness.  This is the flawed character that is telling us that he would be a great president.

I will acknowledge that perceiving yourself as a President of the United States does require a sizable ego.  Most of us wouldn’t even whisper that possibility to ourselves.  However, if the strength of the other traits noted above is as strong and large as the ego, it provides the kind of balance necessary for leadership.  If, however, as in Trump’s case the ego is so large that it dwarfs the other characteristics, we end up with a very unbalanced person, a person who believes that only he has the answers and only he can see the truth.  This imbalance tends to cause a person to listen only to those who reinforce his own views and criticize all  those who challenge his opinion.  He belittles all who dare to question his statements and embraces those who are willing to praise his ideas and agree with his worldview.  He surrounds himself with sycophants so that he is never challenged and is never required to question his own opinion. The unfortunate reality is that these deficiences  describe and define Donald J. Trump perfectly.

While Trump has continually promised us that he will “Make America Great” his pronouncements are sorely lacking in detail.  When challenged to provide such detail he sidesteps and simply again tells us that it will be the greatest.  He enjoys utilizing superlatives while being purposely vague about the particulars. Additionally he has pronounced that he knows better than the generals about how to rid the world of ISIS and better than our professional negotiators how to create trade agreements with our trading partners.  He has told us that those who are in office today are stupid and that he admires Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.  He admires their ability to get things done and control those who would threaten them.  He simply wants us to trust him.  We don’t have to know the details, he’ll take care of us.  It should give us pause to note that those he most admires on the world stage are ruthless dictators.

He is depending on us to be really stupid.  That is why he “loves the poorly educated”.  It is a fact that many of those who support Trump say that they are not concerned about what he says, they just like the way he says it.  They have confidence in him because he reflects his own self-confidence.  They really believe he will get things done and that he will “make America great again”.

As many demagogues before him, Trump is depending on your ignorance and blind trust.  Listening to him speak and answer questions at a press conference yesterday morning simply reinforced my perceptions of him.  He is an egomaniac who lowers his level of discourse to that of a third grader by calling his opponents names.  He is a bully who will try to detect any weakness in an individual and then amplify it to degrade that person.  He is an ignoramus who isn’t smart enough to be aware of how deficient his knowledge is.  His ability to conceptualize is limited to black and white; there is no nuance and no depth. He is incredibly dangerous to our nation and to the world.  We must defeat him soundly so that others of his ilk think twice before they try to tell us how great they are and lead us into hell.

Trump: Every Conspiracy Theorist’s Dream

The GOP Convention now in its third day has been anything but boring.  From the initial attempted uprising on the floor during the passage of the platform and rules to the uproar over Melania’s speech accusing her of plagiarism, it hasn’t gone exactly as the Trump people planned.  While we can laugh off the events so far, we can’t laugh off the overpowering theme that has run through the convention hall.  The most extreme rhetoric I can remember hearing at any convention is pervasive.

The response to Chris Christie’s speech with the crowd roaring “lock her up” should not be taken lightly.  The constant description of the system as “rigged” by Trump feeds the fury.  The description of Hillary as “Crooked Hillary” also by Trump, reinforces the accusations of dishonesty.  The buzz around the convention has been that Hillary and her husband Bill are guilty of murdering Vince Foster and should stand trial.  They are also insisting that Hillary is guilty of treason related to her emails and that she should stand trial for treason.  In speech after speech the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate has been vilified and demonized.

Calling for the trial and execution of a presidential candidate of the other party isn’t exactly typical behavior even in the most partisan of political years.  This behavior, reinforced by Trump and his cohorts, has stepped well beyond any boundary that has ever existed.  Throughout the convention, thus far, the rhetoric has been negative.  All of the speakers have either railed against the Obama Administration or screamed untrue accusations about Hillary.  There has yet to be a positive policy statement by any speaker.  It is clear that Trump views the Party’s National Convention through a very different prism than any other candidate in history.  He views it as just another entity to bend to his needs and desires.  He is extremely manipulative and using the convention to achieve his goals irregardless of the consequyences to either the Party or our two-party system.  His behavioir is extremely dangerous and unprecedented. It typafies the cynacism and arrogance he has dispalyed throughout the primary process.

Trump and his sleazy band of surrogates has begun to create a narrative that is perhaps the most dangerous to ever come out of a convention.  His convention strategy has not been to sell the electorate on a positive set of proposals or policies.  Rather it has been to demonize Hillary to the point that even if she should win the election, her election will be viewed as illegitimate.  By telling us time after time that the system is rigged, he delegitimizes the election and any result that does not lead to his presidency.  He is questioning the legitimacy of our democratic system.  He is saying that the only way “Crooked Hillary” can win the election is if it is rigged.

Donald Trump is validating  every right-wing conspiracy.  He is telling all of the extremists out there that they are right.  The system is rigged and it is rigged against them  He is saying that the other candidate is guilty of rigging the system against them.  She is a criminal along with her husband and all of others connected to them.  Chris Christie stood before the Convention and said that Hillary was guilty and should be behind bars.  Did they realize that they are awakening a very dangerous sleeping giant? The militias in this country have been growing and are waiting for just the right encouragement to attack.

Donald Trump is perhaps the most dangerous presidential candidate to ever seek this high office.  His narcissistic opportunism endangers our democracy and places all of us in danger.

The GOP Convention Has Three Parts This Time

Usually watching the Republican National Convention is not high on my list of things to do every four years in July.  These events usually move along at a predictably humdrum pace with little excitement and no surprises.  Only the keynote speech and the nominating and acceptance speeches of the presidential and vice presidential nominees are worth watching.  But again, this isn’t because we have reason to expect rhetorical wizardry, most often quite the opposite.  It is only in order to be informed of the campaign issues and positions of the candidates that they are worth watching.  Yet, this year promises to be different.  For a change there is an air of unpredictability surrounding the Republican Convention.  Just as the primary campaign provided surprises, the resulting convention is sure to provide the pundits with much analyze. This year, however, what goes on outside of the convention halls may prove to be as consequential as the convention proceedings.  But there is more. There will be much to discuss about those who have pointedly chosen not to attend the convention due to their feeling and concerns about the presumptive nominee.  So unlike past Republican conventions, the complete picture will be visible only when we are fully aware of what is going on both inside and outside of the event halls as well as the behavior and utterings of those not in attendance.

There has been a move afoot for several weeks now to place the presumptive nominee’s formal nomination in jeopardy. Never in my memory has the Party been so clearly divided by convention time.  There have been attempts utilizing both the courts and the Rules Committee to enable delegates to vote their conscience and disregard the candidate that they are bound to.  This effort has gained momentum along with significant funding, has employed experienced operatives and has organized within every state delegation.  While the chances of success of this movement is a long-shot, the potential could lead to a surprising outcome.  Such divisions can certainly lead to some interesting battles on the convention floor.

Due to recent tragic events we have seen demonstrations in cities across America-we can expect more of this right outside the convention hall with no shortage of counter-protestors.   Not since the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 has the potential for major demonstrations been so imminent.  Convention planners must be concerned about the potential for violence and its impact on the event’s security.  No doubt, it will create an atmosphere that will raise the stress level inside, and who knows what that will lead to.

The list of those who have  chosen not to attend the convention is growing.  It consists of many considered to be stalwarts of the Republican establishment as well as some who have significant political and ideological differences with the presumptive nominee.  This has two effects.  First it changes the nature of those in attendance. They, for this most part, will be delegates for Trump.  By their very nature they are ideologically extreme and view the party regulars negatively as elites.  This can make for a more energized and boisterous event particularly given what we are sure will be taking place outside.  Second, it allows for the redefinition of the Republican Party  by those who have taken it further to the right than ever before.  By not attending the “no shows” are defaulting on their opportunity to define the party.  This default might leave the future party unrecognizable and inhospitable to their future involvement.

The upcoming Republican National Convention could be filled with surprises and drama.  More importantly it will provide a peek into the minds of the most dangerous group of people to ever seek to lead their party.  We must know our enemy in order to defeat them.  This year we need to watch and learn for the sake of the future.

Hillary’s Carelessness V. Trump’s Intent

This post is not meant  to serve as some kind of rationale or excuse for Hillary’s behavior regarding her use of emails during her tenure as Secretary of State.  She was incredibly careless and deserves to be called-out and reprimanded for her actions.  In his concluding statement FBI Director Comey stated clearly and emphatically that while this behavior was extremely careless it did not cross the threshold of an indictable offense.  It is not at all surprising, however, that the Republicans are “shocked” at this conclusion and will do everything possible to exacerbate the issue including calling the FBI Director and Attorney General to testify before a Congressional Committee.  No doubt it is an issue that will follow her throughout the campaign.  However, the Republicans best move with caution as they navigate the waters of accusation and questionable behavior as the murky waters are about to rise and swallow them up.

It is almost laughable that the Republicans act with such shock and offense at Hillary’s victimless carelessness while they support a candidate that has behaved with complete disregard as to how his actions will impact on the lives of others.  While Trump has broken no laws that I am aware of, his business practices are simply an extension of his opportunistic narcissistic  personality.   His only consideration in a business decision is whether it will be good for him.  He has shown callous disregard for how his decisions will impact on the lives or businesses of others.  He uses bankruptcy as a business strategy caring not at all that he is leaving his vendors out in the cold.  He spent a half million dollars in a campaign to prevent the service workers in his Vegas hotel from unionizing.  He has a long list of failed businesses, yet each time he has come out with a profit while those who provided a service or product ended up losing.  His Trump University is currently being investigated by the New York State Attorney for fraud.  Reality has little to do with Trump’s narrative.  To listen to him you would think he was the most successful businessman to ever walk this earth.  He sprinkles superlatives like salt on food.  And the descriptions are all about what HE has done or what HE will do.  He lives in a world of allies and enemies.  If you buy into his narrative and support him you are an ally.  If you question anything or challenge his narrative you are an enemy.  His most trusted advisor is himself. Even when it is clear that he lacks the knowledge or expertise to make the proper decision his extreme narcissism prevents him from seeking advice. The thought of having this kind of narsasistic personality reside in the Oval Office is beyond concerning.

The Republican Party is thrusting a nightmare upon America.  They do so knowingly and without regard for the ultimate impact on our nation.  They have assumed the same ethics and behavior in politics that Trump has displayed in business.  While a few of the Republican leadership have shown concern and in fact have clearly stated that they won’t vote for Trump, almost all others have fallen in line and will support this marginal personality as their candidate. This unconscionable behavior is beyond careless.  They are supporting a man who admires the fact that Saddam Husain was able to execute his enemies without a trial.  A man who has been ambiguous at best with regard to racism and anti-Semitism.  A man who tends to lump people into groups rather than appreciating individuality.  Trump, the man they support has shown himself to lack intellectual vigor or desire to learn.  If he does as President what he has done in business, America will be disrespected  and reviled by the community of nations.

Certainly the Republicans will use the Hillary email issue as long as they can in the hope that it will somehow hide the reality of who and what their candidate is.   We must call them on this action and make sure we vote to teach them a lesson they will not soon forget.  Presenting a candidate for the highest office in the land isn’t a game, it isn’t a strategy, it is real life and impacts on people the world over.