Tough

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donald trump eminent domain

Tough

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states that no “private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” (emphasis added).  This simple phrase protects property owners from government overreach.  It ensures that should the fundamental right to property ever be infringed, it would be for the public good, as in to build roads and highways.  Yet not everyone uses eminent domain in such an appreciable and benign manner.  Not everyone has the same definition of public use.

To Donald Trump, “public use” means a place to park his limousines.

In the 1990s, Donald Trump tried to use eminent domain to eject and elderly widow from her long-time Atlantic City home because Trump wanted a new parking lot for his casino.  The woman, Vera Coking, moved into the Atlantic City home in 1961 with her husband.  It housed dreams and it housed family.  But that didn’t stop Trump.  His limousines needed a place to park and he wouldn’t let a widow stand in between him and his grandiose, elite parking lot goals.

So he tried to schmooze and bribe her.  He offered her Neil Diamond tickets to soften her resolve and get her to leave her humble, 30-year abode.

That didn’t work, so he turned to his favorite tactic: bullying.

Trump Plaza soared 22-stories into the air and from its height, it rained mischief down onto Ms. Coking.  Trump’s demolition crews burned her house’s roof, smashed its windows, and destroyed much of its top floors all because Ms. Coking refused to abandon her dream house and succumb to Trump’s egomania.

The widow proved too stubborn, so Trump – in his glory, vanity, and selfishness – turned to eminent domain.  He sued Ms. Coking, trying to abuse eminent domain powers to advance the public good by building demolishing a home so limousines could sit next to the casino.  His compensatory offer stood at just 25 percent that of another offer submitted years before – not just compensation but a brutal ruthlessness and rage whose ire found its way to a woman trying to protect the home in which she raised a family.

So Trump took the widow to court.  He launched his army of lawyers on her, doing all he could to rob her of her home.

Unfortunately for Trump, justice won in the end: the court sided with Ms. Coking and allowed her to keep her home and 30 years of memories.  Trump’s casino went on to flounder, his bullying to no avail.

It takes true toughness and true courage – true character – to try to steal a widow’s home.

 ——————————————–

For all his boisterousness and posturing and insults and fake braggadocio throughout the campaign, one personality trait cuts through the rest and shines immediately clear, both now and throughout time.

Trump is a bully.

And bullies are never, ever the tough individual they pretend to be.


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Hillary Clinton and Wall Street Speeches

Hillary and Bill gave many speeches to Wall Street firms, earning them millions of dollars.  Good for them!  That’s not a problem – that’s one using skills and talents to make money in the free market.  We shouldn’t hold that against her or foolishly think it impacts her dedication to passing Wall Street reform bills.  In fact, her Wall Street plan shows her at “her wonkish best,” seeking to address problems that actually contributed to the 2008 crisis and could prevent another (unlike Bernie’s, whose plan is designed to fundraise well).  The plan itself also should dispel all fears that Hillary is too pro-Wall Street to seek change.

She is in no way dependent on Wall Street.  Assume she becomes president and then wants to make money afterwards.  Do you think there will be any shortage of individuals, firms, or universities willing to pay her for a speech?  Any shortage of people wanting to buy her memoirs?  Of course not.  She would, in no way, rely on Wall Street to earn a post-presidency income.  In other words, she can – and will – push Wall Street reform because she depends not on them.

But if that’s not enough for you and you somehow think that giving speech greatly impact her ability to reign in Wall Street excesses…

  • Hillary said in a speech that Dodd-Frank, though unpopular on Wall Street needed to be enacted
  • She argued for working with Wall Street to strengthen the economy, because maybe – just maybe – a president shouldn’t seek to pin all economic blame on a single sector
  • President Obama, who signed and pushed for the Dodd-Frank bill, received millions in campaign contributions from Wall Street (by the way, if you believe in research and political science, you would know that no corporation expects to buy a politician)
  • At a speech in front of a Wall Street audience, Hillary outlined the need to end financial fraud and expand Dodd-Frank
  • It’s natural that Hillary would have connections to Wall Street – she represented New York in the Senate and Wall Street is a major employer and economic driver in the state
  • That she’s already given speeches to many other organizations (also for money, the free market is great!) dispels the notion that Wall Street owns her
  • “Americans who are doing business in every aspect of the economy want to know more about the world. I actually think it’s a good conversation to be having” – Hillary on her speeches.  This seems more than reasonable; it’s responsible as she wants to engage all economic forces, unlike Bernie who seeks to alienate and vilify Wall Street and all those who succeed in the economic system
  • Wall Street considers Hillary a pragmatic problem solver.  Is that really so bad?  That’s exactly what I want in a president – a bright, wonkish politicians able to navigate many interests and get things done in a responsible manner.  She knows how things work.  I’ll take that 100 times out of 100.  Do we want a president that alienates all industries and will espousing extreme rhetoric that’s not based in reality?  No, we don’t.

We want a president who gets things done and knows how to get things done.  That’s Hillary, not Bernie.  Bernie wants to play victim and pin all responsibility for all economic woes on two singular forces: Wall Street and “the billionaire class.”  It’s absurd rhetoric that plays well to populists but doesn’t address root causes.  He’s tied to extremism, not to solutions.  Hillary, the Democrats’ number 1 wonk, knows how to work with all parties to enact meaningful reform.  Her Wall Street plan promises vast changes to make the economy fairer.  But she also knows how to work with all interested parties to reach feasible reforms that check Wall Street without damaging the industry’s ability to create wealth and contribute to economic growth.  Hillary knows how to work with others to advance a goal.  Hillary knows how to pass reform and will do just that.


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Before you tell me…

Before you tell me  that the perverted actions of ISIS represent the 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world…

Tell me that:

The KKK represents all of Christianity.

Tell me that…

The Westboro Baptist Church is indicative of all Christians

Tell me that…

That Dylann Roof, who killed 9 black churchgoers, has values typical of all Christians.

Tell me that…

All Christians hold the same principles as Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombings that killed 168 and injured over 680.

Tell me that…

That the deranged actions of James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured over 70 in a stunning massacre, reflects the viewpoints of all Christians.

Tell me that…

That the Planned Parenthood shooter, responsible for 3 deaths an 9 injuries, is indicative of Christian values

Tell me that…

That the man who killed 32 and injured 17 at Virginia Tech and claimed that “I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people,” is representative of all Christians across the globe.

Tell me that…

Adolf Hitler, who killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, the greatest mass murder in history, represents all Christians.

Can you do that?

No?

Then stop saying that ISIS and the sick actions of Jihadis reflect all 1.6 billion Muslims and Islamic principles.  It’s wrong.


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donald trump wealth

Pathetic

The other day, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) decided to ask Donald Trump a few questions about his policy beliefs, as any good Senator and caring citizen would do.

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Perfectly polite and complimentary.  He soon turned to policy.  It’s worth noting that Senator Sasse is a deep conservative who ardently believes in small-government principles.

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A fair question considering it’s an election in which ideas and adherence to them should be discussed.

donald trump iowa caucus

This is a Republican primary, after all, and Trump had previously stated opposition to the concept of the Second Amendment and guns.

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This question pertains to a huge (yuuge) one time tax Donald Trump proposed.  In an election of issues and policy discourse, this is a question that must be addressed.

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If Trump is going to attack Bill Clinton for his affair, it means that his many publicized ones (he brags about them in “The Art of the Deal”) are also fair game.

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A salient, basic policy question in a Republican primary.

Apparently, Donald Trump didn’t take too kindly to a Senator and citizen asking him about policy and hypocritical statements.

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No, Senator Sasse wants to understand your policy viewpoints, Mr. Trump, seeing as they change every couple of years.

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A classic move.  When one cannot respond to a question or argument, he or she will stoop to invective and ad hominem attacks.

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“Who is easy.”  This is a constant Donald Trump theme: Attack anyone who questions him.  That’s not a how a president should behave and that’s certainly not how someone should treat a concerned citizen.  You can’t insult your way to the presidency, Mr. Trump.  If you’re going to run in a democracy, you have to answer questions about your beliefs and you have to address past statements made pertaining to public policy.  Running away from those responsibilities and simple duties immediately disqualifies him from being president.

 

Like what you see?  Help us reach a larger audience by donating here!  With your help, we can defeat Donald Trump!

[Read more: How to defeat Trump through strategic voting, his deep insecurity, and his dangerous temperament.]


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make america white again

Make America White Again

Donald Trump has a grand vision: Make America White Again.

He and his supporters romanticize 1950s America, when Mexicans could still be called “wetbacks,” black lives didn’t matter – they were simply “house negroes” – and donning a white hood to enact vigilante justice normal, even encouraged when it meant keeping African Americans from voting.

Women didn’t work and manufacturing jobs were abundant.  Highways were smooth; gays and lesbians ferreted out from their social ranks and cast aside, denounced freely and widely as “faggots” and “pinks.”  Children went to all-white schools on buses devoid of diversity.  Home ownership boomed, as long as you were white, and elections pitted white coalition against white coalition – there was no need to cater to minority viewpoints.

This is Trump’s idealized America, the one to which he and his supporters cling.  America, to them, doesn’t belong to millions of immigrant dreamers, searching, hoping, praying for better lives for their posterity.  Nor does it belong to those of foreign religion, a peace-seeking group tainted by the perverted actions of a select few but who are somehow held accountable.  It’s an America without political correctness, but also without acceptance and basic human rights for many.

Trump and his supporters desperately fear an America wherein minority voters outnumber white voters; where different religion – new, scary, foreign religions – seek free exercise without surveillance or a registry.  They fear losing white power.  They crave an economic order long gone.  They, above all, fear change.

America’s existence can broadly be defined by fearing change and those who bring it.  Anti-immigrant sentiment flairs every generation when new individuals from different countries trek to America, wide-eyed with dreams of success and prosperity.  German, Catholic, Irish, Easter-European, Chinese, Japanese, and now Mexican – each new immigrant group experienced hatred upon their arrival.  It’s a continued American blight that comes from inherent fear of foreigners.

Trump’s policies only further that end.  Seeking to deport 11 million dreamers and American aspirants and wanting to forbid all entrants to the country based solely on religion defiles the American ideal and causes the Statue of Liberty to hang her head in disgust.  Fear mongering that America’s whiteness will be lost.  It’s disgusting, bigoted, hate-filled, and nativist.  It’s defining Republican politics.

A reversion – a regression – to America’s past is what Trump wants.  He wants progress to cease and the tide of history to be reversed.  His supporters want the country to look like them: white.  Enough with the hopes of millions.  Enough with America being the sweet land of liberty to which all strive.  Enough with the melting pot that’s yielded and contributed to America’s multigenerational greatness.

It’s time to make America white again.

It’s time to let hate, fear, and demagoguery rule the day.


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hillary clinton bernie sanders

Before You Vote, Consider This

Primary voting starts in just 6 days with the Iowa Caucuses.  A little more than a week later brings the New Hampshire primaries; after that, it’s off to the races with Nevada, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday.  We know you’re seeing many campaign ads, are inundated with opinion posts on Facebook and Twitter, and likely are already predisposed to a certain candidate.  Please, though, consider this before you caucus or cast your primary vote.

Democrats face an election of head versus heart

Bernie Sanders’ upstart, insurgent campaign identifies a singular problem – income inequality – and seeks to address it.  Nothing more.  His candidacy is premised on the one issue; the plans he offers cannot – and will not – pass Congress.  Lofty rhetoric of fundamental change plays well and offers ideas whose merit needs to be debated, considered, and discussed, but words with no hope of action do not a president make.

Hillary Clinton represents the head of the Democratic Party.  Of course, the House of Clinton has been a mainline force for decades.  More importantly, though, Hillary has long been considered a policy wonk, willing to work across the aisle to see legislation pass and to make change happen.  Bernie’s strong liberal positions earn him a weak congressional record with very few significant legislative achievements and no known ability to compromise on his values.  Love it or hate it, compromise and deal making gets things done in Washington.  Vote for the head of the Democratic Party and let the heart continue to fight in the Senate and to shape discourse without further polarizing and gridlocking our legislative system.

Political Revolution

I take many problems with this phrase.  It’s blatant reference and conjuring of Karl Marx’s writings make it immediately distasteful, reminiscent of failed ideas, and undemocratic.  Even ignoring that, the phrase is still wrong.

We don’t need, nor does anyone want, a full-on political revolution.  The country needs people to vote.  Turnout rates are incredibly low when compared to other Western democracies.  Voters skew older and wealthier than the average American.  Increasing the turnout rate will lead to more young and poor citizens voting, therein boosting Democratic vote share and the appetite for redistributive policies.  Progressive platforms win when turnout is high.  No political revolution is needed.

People voting is not a revolution, it’s simply a democracy at work.

Minimum Wage

Though it’s clear the minimum wage needs to rise, an increase to $15/hr is simply irresponsible.  That would double the current minimum wage.  Such actions would greatly increase unemployment through much of America.

What works in New York does not work in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Expensive cities need higher minimum wages than do cheap places.  The cost of living simply differs over much of the country.  San Francisco, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles are all much, much, much more expensive than Cheyenne, Wyoming, Sioux City, Iowa, and Gary, Indiana.  The national minimum wage cannot be premised on the cost of living in the most expensive cities; it must establish a baseline above which states and localities should increase their minimum wages.  $15/hour would increase unemployment and inflation (if the base wage starts at $15, all other rates must then be raised to maintain hierarchy) in states like Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, etc.  Costs, too, would rise.  The benefits are slim with a national wage hike to such an absurd level.

Hillary wants to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.  This still represents a large and substantial increase, but precludes many of the unemployment worries caused by Bernie’s plan.  The difference between the two plans – Bernie’s desired wage is 33 percent higher than Hillary’s – has a real impact: It raises business costs by at least that amount.  To offset the costs, firm will either layoff workers and/or raise prices.  A $12 minimum wage lifts millions out of poverty without creating the unemployment and inflation caused by a $15 wage.  It respects the cost of living differences between states and encourages municipalities, like New York and San Francisco, to update policy on their own terms.  The national minimum wage, as Hillary understands, should be set at the lowest common denominator; wages should be raised to higher levels by the government closest to the people whom the wage will impact.  They are in a better place to make that decision.  Hillary, and not Bernie, understands that.

A lot of policies can be made on the national level; this is not one of them.

Free College

College is an investment.  Students decide whether to go to college to boost potential earnings.  Like any investment, they must have skin in the game.

College should not be free for everyone.  It should be affordable and students should have the opportunity to attend debt-free, but the government should not subsidize a public college education for all its inhabitants (also irresponsible to raise taxes only to redistribute them to the children of wealthy parents).  His plan relies on Wall Street taxes, but that would not raise enough money to pay for the plan.  How would he fill the gap?  Similarly, ideas capping interest rates on student loans are nonsense.  Many are upset that one can get a mortgage with a cheaper interest rate than a student loan.  This makes economic sense.  Loans are based on risk.  Students are risky.  Even after earning a degree, earning potential might be low.  Unlike a mortgage, which is backed by a house (a real, physical asset), student loans have no backing.  A bank cannot seize a degree in the case the student does not repay debts.  The risk associated with student loans leads to higher interests rates.  That’s not a corrupt economy; that’s basic market principles.

Hillary’s proposes debt free public education.  This makes sense.  It stops cost from being an educational barrier while ensuring that students still have skin in the game (as it is an investment, after all).  She also goes about this in the right way: public universities are operated by the states; Hillary’s plan incentivizes states with block grants to urge them to provide no-loan tuition.  Moreover, in the case of loans, Hillary will cap repayments at 10 percent of income.  This ensures that students will not sacrifice subsistence to pay down debt.  It also does not interfere with the forces of the free market – it doesn’t distort supply, demand, and risk elements.  Unlike Bernie’s plan where the proposed funding does not add to the price tag, Hillary’s plan to cap deductions for top tax-earners would cover her proposals.  Hillary solves college debt and makes college affordable without introducing moral hazard or burdening the free market.

Free college is not a good idea.  Debt-free college is.

Infrastructure Spending

Bernie has the right idea here.  $1 trillion of infrastructure spending is necessary for the health of our economy.  However, the timing is wrong.  Such an endeavor should be undertaken during a recession so it can serve as an economic stimulant.  When the unemployment rate is 5 percent, as it is now, the government needs to tighten its belt and close deficits, paying down the national debt.  That theory stems from basic Keynesian principles.  When the economy inevitably sags again, stimulus spending will be needed to create jobs and spur economic growth; that’s when Bernie’s plan should be introduced.  To do so now is fiscally irresponsible.

Hillary, on the other hand, proposed a reasonable $250 billion infrastructure plan that would create jobs and provide needed service to the country’s crumbling roads and bridges without severely straining the federal budget.  In addition, Hillary calls for a $25 billion seed fund for an infrastructure bank, a crucial step to ensuring the long-run vitality of America’s modes of commerce.  The bank would help finance another $250 billion in infrastructure improvements.  Her plans will create jobs without straining the federal budget, critical during a boom period in which we should be seeking to close the deficit and pay down debt, not add another $1 trillion to it.

Rigged Economy

Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke wrote in his memoir that Bernie has a “conspiracy view of the world.”  This is absolutely correct.  Bernie envisions a world in which “the billionaire class” – in perfect sympathy with ideas of class warfare – tries to keep everyone else suppressed below them.  It’s an outlandish sentiment that bears little reality to data.

Economic mobility has not changed in 50 years, since the Johnson administration.  Only if you think that the economy was rigged during the liberal heyday of social programs, tax and spend policies, and Democratic legislative domination can you now believe that the economy is rigged.

Yes, inequality has grown, but that’s not a bad thing.  Income inequality is the natural result of a market economy.  Not everyone can earn the same income.  Higher incomes generate incentives and are rewards for society’s most talented and hard-working.  That inequality exists proves our economy is working.

The problem is stagnant middle class wages.  For the middle class, incomes have not grown in 25 years.  Yes, the top 1 percent’s income has grown manifold, especially following the Great Recession, but much of that can be attributed to stock market increases and changing payment schemes for CEOs.  That’s simply not the problem.  Taxing the rich to give to the poor would not solve inequality.

This is another instance in which Bernie’s policies break down.  He relies on soaking the rich to combat inequality.  Such ideas don’t raise middle class incomes.  A $15/hr minimum wage raises incomes only so far as it doesn’t create unemployment – and it will.  Bernie doesn’t focus on job creation and wage growth; he focuses on taking and giving – a concept that simply will not work to fix the only issue to which he is committed and pretends to be versed.

His policies and rhetoric of a rigged economy pitting the little guy against corporate fat cats is only correct if you ignore economics.

Wall Street

Once more, there’s a disconnect between Bernie’s fiery, populist rhetoric and reality.  His platform centers around breaking up the big banks.  But guess what?  Doing so would not have prevented the 2008 financial crisis, which started with pure investment firms (Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers).  Breaking up big banks does not solve problems potentially endemic to the financial sector.  In fact, “a breakup of the largest financial institutions would reduce the value that they provide for the economy, businesses, and consumers. Recent research points to significant economies of scale and scope at large financial institutions, leading to efficiencies for businesses and consumers.”

Bernie’s spectacular fundraising pitch – reinstalling Glass-Steagall – fails to live up to his goals.  Like politicians on the far right, Bernie has an incredible immunity to social science.

The best means of preventing another financial calamity seems to be taxing the behavior that made the 2008 crisis awful: reliance on short-term, often overnight, funding.  Prior to 2008, many banks needed overnight lending from other institutions in order to pay daily operating expenses and meet capital requirements.  As assets lost value, banks began to worry about solvency and ceased the web of lending.  This prevented banks from meeting daily operations and made them illiquid, prompting a fire-sell of assets that were quickly losing value.  In came a crisis of solvency and banks suddenly faced bankruptcy.  To prevent another catastrophe of the sort, banks need to be discouraged from short-term funding.  Hillary’s plan does this by levying fees on the institutions that rely heavily on volatile, short-term loans.

Her proposals are many times better than Bernie’s because she addresses the root problem instead of issuing rally cries.  There’s a reason Hillary is respected on both sides of the aisle when it comes to policy credentials and know-how.

Money and Special Interests

Here, too, lies another instance in which Bernie’s call to action stands against political science research and would actually increase political polarization.

No corporation expects to buy a politician.  All the money in the world cannot elect a candidate if the candidate’s positions are anathema to the majority of voters.  Decision making is still – and is always – left in the hands of the voters and it becomes their responsibility to turnout and have their voices heard.  It seems misplaced and normatively wrong to forbid companies from exercising speech and preferences while not placing any blame on apathetic voters.

Moreover, when corporations donate to political campaigns, they tend to do so in a bipartisan manner because they want things to get done.  It’s bad for business when Congress fails to pass laws.  Take, for instance, the 2011 debt ceiling debacle.  Corporations and their lobbyists urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling as failing to do so would have resulted in an economic catastrophe.  However, many House members and some Senators wanted to default on obligations because the grassroots voters thought that was the best position.  Businesses actually tried to bring the sides together.  That’s not corporate-induced polarization – that’s corporate induced bipartisanship.

Preventing the moderating force of many of these corporations from influencing elected officials actually worsens polarization by increasing the impact of grassroots donors.  Proposals in which small donor sums are matched by the government can empower radical candidates who attract a broad grassroots movement.  In the presidential election, that would pit Bernie, the most liberal senator, against Ted Cruz, one of the most conservative.  It’s easy to see how that might lead to more extremists in both congressional chambers, worsening polarization and ensuring that no legislation whatsoever is enacted.

That said, it’s important to point out the most corporate political money goes to lobbyists.  Again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it can bring sides together to pass budgets and raise the debt ceiling.  The main impact of Citizens United and Speechnow is the ability for individuals – whose motivations are quite different than those corporations – to donate vast sums to super PACs.  But there’s still no definitive literature on how super PACs and individuals impact elections.  In fact, if 2012 is any precedent, super PACs and outside money have a muted impact on elections.

Super PACs and unlimited contributions are inherent parts of free speech.  Since Buckley v. Valeo, money has been equated with political speech, and for good reason.  By and large, there are three ways to engage in the political process: 1) donate, 2) volunteer, and 3) vote.  Each contains elements of speech and each should be unlimited.  Let’s use a though experiment.  If you supported a candidate, how would you act to ensure the candidate’s election?  You would donate, volunteer, and vote and you would want to complete freedom to do all three.  Perhaps the easiest way of engaging with politics is to donate money to campaign committees and PACs.  They have a competitive advantage in producing political communications as they specialize in it (I could make lawn signs on my own, but a campaign will do it much more efficiently).  In this sense, I’m using money to further my speech by giving it to an organization that can best amplify it.  My donation adds to the marketplace of ideas and allows many points of view to be presented to the electorate.

Liberals tend to dislike Citizens United because conservatives make the most of the decision.  That’s no reason to curtail rights.  We cannot limit speech because we don’t like what’s being said.  We must instead counter donations or utilize the other elements of political engagement to ensure victory for our candidates and ideals.  We can’t limit freedom because we don’t like what’s being done with it.  A liberal society is bettered and strengthened when speech is wholly encouraged.

Lastly, accepting this chart from political science research, we see that more money in elections betters the chances of challengers to unseat incumbents.  Challengers need fewer dollars to sway voters and given the natural incumbency advantage – around 5 to 9 percentage points, for a variety of reasons – more money can lead to more competitive races.  And, if the challenger raises a lot of money but his or her views are deplorable, it’s easy to still vote for the incumbent.

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What’s more, there is nothing Bernie, as president, can do.  To overturn Citizens United, either a new Supreme Court case is needed or a constitutional amendment (which no president can pass or propose).  Any case needs to have standing and injury, hard to prove considering the equal availability of all to make use of the campaign finance system.  It would set a dangerous precedent to sue based on speech unfavorable to one’s interests.  Bernie doesn’t seem to understand this – he tweeted that he would appoint Supreme Court justices whose first case would be to overturn Citizens United.  That’s not how the judicial system works.  Furthermore, establishing any sort of litmus test for a judicial nominee makes a mockery out of judicial independence – a value enshrined in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.  It amounts to subversion of the Constitution.

In the end we have a choice: elect rhetoric or elect results.  Bernie’s policies fix no problems, especially not those about which he cares.  What’s more, his proposals are too far left to have any chance of passing a Republican or split Congress.  With no ability to set an agenda and no laws to his name, a Bernie presidency would amount to nothing but a cheerleader-in-chief, fervently calling for an end to the problem he doesn’t know how to solve.

Hillary has a record of working across the aisle.  Her policy ideas draw from social science and actually address root issues.  She’s a leader and has breadth of knowledge about which the single-issue Bernie can only dream.  It’s fine to have a single-issue politician in the House or the Senate, but in a president, we need someone ready to fight on all fronts, someone able to make deals, and someone truly able to lead the country forward.

We need Hillary.


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donald trump whine

Whiner-in-Chief

Presidential behavior, brought to by Donald Trump (the man who can’t handle a debate moderator, but thinks he can handle foreign leaders):

donald trump insecure

What’s the matter, did someone say something mean about you?  Poor baby.

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If they dislike me, they must be failing for I – and I only – determine success!

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I hate it when people use the constitutional right of free speech to disagree with me.  It makes me so upset that I have to whine on Twitter just like petulant child.

Oh, and without poll numbers, I am nothing.  Polls make or break me.  I constantly need reassurance that I’m popular.

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Karl dislikes me!  I hate when people say mean things about me!  But rather than confront him or debate him, I’ll bully him from Twitter.  I’ll be a great president.  Really good at diplomacy.

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Amy and Maggie are so mean, they used the freedom of the press to report about actual happenings.  I hate freedom.

I didn’t like what they said – even if they were right, it doesn’t matter – so now here I am on Twitter, complaining because even my yes-men can’t cheer me up.

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And by begging I mean politely asking given the large circulation of the upcoming issue.  But that doesn’t matter.  They also used freedom to endorse someone other than me.  Like any spoiled child accustomed to receiving everything wanted in life (like a million dollars from Daddy), I don’t know what to do when I don’t get something I want!  So I hide behind a phone and kick and scream and cry because that makes me feel powerful.

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STOP STUART FROM SAYING MEAN THINGS ABOUT ME!  It hurts my feelings when someone doesn’t like my policies.  This freedom of speech thing really sucks.

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I must respond to every little petty insult because behind my charade of toughness and masculinity there’s a little child, peeping out from behind Daddy’s leg, looking at the world with big, frightened eyes, scared that people will dislike me for my extremism and will think I am no longer relevant.

All I crave is relevance and acceptance.  If I don’t get that, well, like a real, true, tough man, I’ll yell from Twitter.

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He MUST have zero credibility because he doesn’t like me!  That explains it.  So many people dislike me, but that’s because of them, not because of me.  I am perfect and almighty and I’ll use social media to make sure everyone knows it.

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Only losers dislike me.  I learned that word in third grade and never stopped using it.  I think it makes me look brusque and tough.  Don’t you?

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There’s that damn freedom of the press again!

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Glenn’s crying, despite the tears that keep dropping onto my phone because yet another person doesn’t like me.  All I ever wanted is to be liked.  That’s why I ran for president.  Glenn is just so mean.  I’m not mean.  Look at my tweets, I am a perfectly nice fellow…right?

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Why don’t they focus on the crowd instead of me?  But if they showed anything other than me, I’d probably be upset too.  It’s so hard to manipulate and win with the freedom of a neutral press!  I guess I’ll stick to insulting them.  If you can’t join ‘em, insult them from Twitter, I always say.

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FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IS THE WORST THING EVER.  WHY DO WE HAVE A CONSTITUTION IF IT ONLY ALLOWS PEOPLE TO SAY REALLY MEAN THINGS ABOUT ME.  How dare they vet me and how dare they look into my extreme and radical policy ideas.  This is just so frustrating.  If my skin were only a little thicker…

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People have opinions.  I really hate that, especially when the opinions are mean towards me.  So I’ll call everyone who disagrees with me a loser.  President here I come.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, these tweets show just over a month of the thin-skinned, angsty, and insecure Donald Trump attacking, from the safety and distance of social media, people who disagree with him.  Trump is a man defined by ego yet riddled with insecurities.  He strives to be accepted and liked, but when that doesn’t happen, he resorts to elementary school practices: insulting and calling names until he bullies his way to the (perceived) top.

How can we expect Trump to stand up to China when he cowers in the face of media or consultant criticism?

He’s an insecure, whimpy, whiny child who knows only the hubris and excess that comes with a spoiled childhood.  He has no clue how to cope or handle those who dislike him.  Trump displays the emotional intelligence of an 8 year old.

This man wants to be Commander-in-Chief.  He wants to negotiate with foreign leaders, lead the country when at war, and establish an agenda to push through Congress.  The last time I checked, no foreign president or congressional operative takes kindly to bullying.  Neither ally nor enemy will be swayed by Trump’s childish Twitter antics.  In fact, Trump’s Twitter silliness only embarrasses his name and that of the United States.  Foreign diplomacy is not conducted by saying truly childish things on Twitter.  It takes a grown and confident man to confront world leaders.  Trump does not show those strengths.

On the other hand, Trump’s insecurity would put us in a dangerous position.  Vladimir Putin already figured out how to manipulate Trump: all one has to do is complement him.  Praise Trump and he will forever be in your pockets; hence the songs Trump now sings about Putin.  That’s true weakness – simple grandstanding by any foreign leader breaks Trump and all for which he claims to stand.

That’s not how a president acts and behaves.

Trump is not presidential material.  Don’t endanger the United States.  Don’t let insecurity and whines cripple the country.  Don’t vote for Donald J. Trump.

 

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Vote for Freedom

A vote for Trump is a vote against Freedom.

America, sweet land of liberty.  A country founded on the premise of freedom.  Ronald Reagan argued that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”  Right now, we’re reaching that generational moment in which freedom might be lost.

Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican candidate, is hell-bent on destroying American freedom.  His ideas are dangerous.  Radical.  Fascist.  Fascism and freedom are antonyms – you can’t have both.  And Trump is opting for authoritarianism.

Press represents a free society’s underpinnings.  We need them to cover politicians without threat of retribution.  The press is crucial to maintaining an informed electorate capable of vetting candidates and analyzing policy.  Trump is not much a free press fan.  He bashes reporters who say anything infinitesimally close to negative about them – never mind that it’s their job to report political behavior.  All it takes is a word from Trump and his right-winged forces mercilessly attack a reporter who dared use the freedom of speech and press to observe and write.  Just look at the threats made to McKay Coppins.

Trump often talks about suing papers who don’t profusely and constantly flatter him.  That’s intimidation and bullying – things he’s good at when feeling threatened - that inhibit the press from covering him (the threat of a frivolous law discourages smaller papers from even trying to cover Trump with any journalistic integrity).  When the press suffers, democracy suffers.  Trump is certainly trying to undermine the very freedoms that established this country: free press and free speech.

But, of course, that’s not all Trump wants to do to attack basic American freedoms.

Trump will surveil places of religious worship.  This necessarily violates a scared principle of the Constitution – religious freedom.  America’s founders escaped European religious persecution, coming to America, in part, to worship in peace and without threat of violence.  These principles found embodiment in the First Amendment – the singular greatest protector of freedom – and in early writings, such as those by Thomas Jefferson, a Republican idol.

Surveilling places of worship violates long-established American culture.  It makes a mockery out of the Constitution.  It transgresses the very principles our forefathers sought to establish on the new continent.

But Trump doesn’t stop there.  He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country.  Such a policy mimics those used to limit immigration of Germans, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Japanese, Chinese, and countless ethnic groups because of fear.  Moreover, it’s a gross generalization of an entire religion.  More than 5000 Muslims currently serve in the US military.  These individuals are patriotic.  Dedicated to their country, they will sacrifice their lives to keep us safe.  Yet Trump ignores that patriotism and the love for America many Muslims embody and instead wants to unilaterally ban all Muslims from entering the country.  That’s not freedom. Freedom, America’s founding premise, says that we should welcome those who want to enter, granting them the liberties and rights that make America great.

Lastly, Trump wants to deport 11 million individuals who so ardently seek the American Dream.  They entered the country hoping to accomplish the goals we all share – providing for family, achieving upward mobility, and establishing a better life in the greatest country in the world.  These dreamers, wide-eyed with hope, motivated by desperation, seek nothing but a better life.  They seek the Promise of America – freedom, liberty, and the ability to use God-given talents to create a better life for them and their children.  Trump wants to break that Promise; he wants to limit freedom to only a select few he deems worthy.  Beyond the immense economic catastrophe Trump’s plan would cause – rising prices and a dramatic recession, to note but two effects – Trump’s plan is un-American.

Trump wants to stomp on freedom.  Trample it, throw it to the dogs.  Any visages of freedom – the greatness of America – he will remove in hopes of regressing the country back to colonial times.


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A Thought on Trump

Donald Trump supporters are being duped.

They’re being taken for a ride by a maniacal egomaniac.

Why?  Because Trump’s candidacy is defined by and riddled with hypocrisy.  Take, for instance, his claim that he would be best in defeating ISIS, a statement that polls well among those Trump takes for suckers.  If that were the case, why is Trump and his policy viewpoints being used in a recruitment video for a renowned terrorist organization?  Why are Trump’s face and message being used to create terror?  To urge vulnerable individuals to commit heinous acts of violence?

Words have meaning.  Trump forgets this, likely because he grew up without the threat of repercussions.  Without trade-offs.  Without fear.  His ignorance to ramifications leads to divisive rhetoric that drives away our allies and and threatens our safety.

Trump doesn’t care about the country.  He has no interest in keeping America great.  He simply wants to make money – he’s greedy.  Hence 25 percent of all his campaign spending going to his own companies.  Oh, and that money has been donated.  He’s not self-funding.  It’s impossible to profit from a campaign if he pours in solely his money.  So instead he’s taking donated money from you and padding his own pockets.  Yet another of the many hypocritical statements and lies made by Donald Trump.

Nor is Trump tough.  Trump yearns to fit in with the establishment.  He’s spent years trying to stay relevant and to earn the respect – however undeserving – of special interests and elites.  But his false posturing and shocking pleas for attention (ie, all of his extreme rhetorical statements, none of which he means) naturally led to his shunning.  For how could they not?  Trump is the boy who cried wolf.  But Trump wouldn’t take exile from his position at the table with the Republican establishment.  He donated thousands of dollars to CPAC and Republican committees, hoping he could buy influence and be ingratiated into the party.

He’s an outsider not by choice, but by his inability to break rank and be accepted.  And so, like any petulant teenager deprived a seat at the cool table, Trump takes to his Twitter bully pulpit to insult.  That’s not a sign of “toughness,” it’s a sign of insecurity.  It’s pathetic.  He whines whenever someone dislikes him.  He’s a weak, feckless bully who wants – desperately – to be part of the establishment.  His campaign is a facade, a lie, a desperate attempt to remain relevant.

Trump isn’t used to being ignored.  Having everything handed to him on a golden plate probably makes him forget that his actions have consequences and ensured that he never lacked attention.  His childish antics result directly from a spoiled upbringing.  No toughness, no bombast, just a childish search for others to like and accept him.

He uses to supporters to inflate his ego, selling people what he knows to be bullshit in return for their pumping up his brand.  Trump runs to show the establishment that he is cool, that he’s a big kid who should be a part of the establishment.  His candidacy is not about ideas.  It’s not about policy or about making America great.  It’s about making Trump great – it’s all about him.

To all Donald Trump supporters: he’s playing you as a fool.  Don’t let him make you look stupid.  Go with policy, not bombast.  Realize the only shits Donald Trump gives are in his diamond crusted toilet made possible by dollars from his schmucks.


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Sandy Hook: Three Years Later

[The following is an excerpt from my thesis, which finds poignancy on this day.]

In Newtown, Connecticut, the fourteenth day of December, 2012, dawned like any other: frigid winter air latent with holiday spirit greeted those who awoke with the sun.  Students throughout the town prepared for school, willing the day’s passage so the weekend could be just a step away.  Around seven hundred young students buttoned their coats, zipped up their boots, and donned their hats, ready for another day at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The peaceful Thursday morning in the picturesque New England town did not last long.  Shortly after 9:30 am, when the doors to Sandy Hook Elementary locked, Adam Lanza used an assault rifle to shoot his way into the school.  Gunfire echoed through the hallways; teachers ushered students into bathrooms and closets.  Lanza focused his ire on two classrooms – one contained kindergartners and the other, first-graders.  He shot without discrimination and without regard to the sanctity of life.  Twenty students, aged 6 and 7, and six adults died in the massacre, which quickly become one of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history.  As follows many acts of such cowardice, Lanza took his own life when law enforcement approached him.  In a matter of minutes, a specter had been cast over the peaceful town, one that left deep scars whose pain – though numbed – lasts time indefinite.

Unsurprisingly, the tragedy had a deep impact on the American public.  A Quinnipiac University poll taken a month after the shooting found that 92 percent of Americans supported universal background checks for firearm purchases.  Ninety-one percent of gun owners also favored that policy (Quinnipiac University 2013).  Political scientists often contend that there is no such thing as “public opinion” because viewpoints are fractured or incomplete (owing to weak ideological preferences or a lack of information; Converse 1964).  A 92 percent majority, though, represents a strong public will.  Lawmakers reflective to the wants the national public ought to have passed legislation expanding the gun background check system.

That opportunity arose with the Manchin-Toomey amendment, bipartisan legislation aimed at closing background check loopholes.  With Joe Biden presiding over the Senate and a survivor of the Tucson mass shooting watching from the gallery, 46 Senators voted against invoking cloture.  The amendment failed, 54-46, despite having overwhelming public support.  In the wake of the second largest mass shooting in American history, the United States Senate acted contrary to the will of the public and opted to make no legislative fixes designed to prevent future calamities.

Post-mass shooting America is defined by inaction.  Politicians tweet their thoughts and their prayers; citizens watch, aghast with horror, as the news unfurls.  Fear skyrockets.  Gun sales and stocks surge in the coming days.  No laws ever get passed.  In fact, states tend to loosen gun laws in the years after horrendous mass shootings – a perverse act whose logic defies universal physics.  It’s a dance, steps known by all, choreographed to absolute perfection.  Move in sympathy, rhetorically twirl support and calls to action, leap around the issue, blaming everything from mental health to Islamic radicalization, but always step around the real issues: guns in America.

The politics of fear almost always trumps that of logic.  Political leaders tell us that we need more guns to keep ourselves safe; the NRA runs dark ads warning us our liberty is being threatened.  They say we need good guys with guns to stop the bad guys with guns.  Because what we all need most during a time of complete terror, fear, and panic – to name but a few emotions present during a mass shooting – is more guns and more bullets wielded by (well-meaning but) ill-trained amateurs.  Adding killer force to a darkened movie theatre, as in Aurora, does not fix the problem.  Arming every teacher in America mocks the idea of school safety.  Putting guns in the hands of all in malls, permitting – urging – them to shoot at a suspect when there are hundreds of innocent bystanders around, so easily hit with a stray bullet from an inexperienced marksman.  You don’t solve chaos by introducing more disorder to the system.  You prevent the chaos from happening in the first place.  You do that by restricting access to guns.

It’s now been three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  In those three years, mass shootings have become a daily occurrence; we’ve become almost immune to the hashtags, the President’s heartfelt messages, the editorial boards desperately calling for legislative action.  And still, we, as a country, continue to do nothing, content to let 300+ million firearms work their way around the country, satisfied with hopes and prayers that one doesn’t fall into the hands of someone committed to violence.  We don’t have a solution – we have a “hold your breath and hope the next mass shooting doesn’t happen for a while” approach.  It’s insanity – actual insanity – to believe the problem will be fixed after continuing to change no variables in the equation.  We’re letting people die because we choose fear over answers.

It’s been three years since 20 young students and 6 Sandy Hook employees saw their lives – brimming with promise, shining with prospects eternal – cut short because of America’s insistence that all have access to deadly force.  Their blood, and that of all who have died since, is on our hands because our hands are too scared to write and pass legislation that addresses the root problem: guns.


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