Monday, December 14, 2015

There are Things I Fear More Than a President Trump

Yes, I said it. Actually, this is something I've argued before but Greg by raising this bloody shirt again with a comment he left yesterday opened up that can of worms again. LOL.

He made a comment yesterday that I knew would get some pushback from Tom Brown. Here is Greg:

I agree that Trump does not seem to be pandering to the religious right with all the abortion stuff and as far as the SS stuff, I bet these followers are just like every other GOP hypocrite, they want THEIRS protected or enhanced while everyone else gets cut or eliminated..... because we are running out of money!!

I am hopeful that Trump does go third party. Frankly, form what I know of Trump, I could live with him as president. I think there are things he can do for progressives that Hillary might A) never try or B) try and never be able to accomplish"

I was a little surprised that Greg went that far myself. Actually what I've said is I'd rather have a President Trump than a President Rubio or President Christie. But Greg even seems to suggest there are things that Trump could get done that Hillary wouldn't. I'd be curious to hear what those are actually. So he actually goes further than even I would.

Don't get me wrong. My view is that I am 100% behind Hillary. But given a choice between Trump and a generic Republican I'd choose Trump.I think his Presidency would be less of a disaster than if a real GOPer ran things again. I knew that this would get a response by Tom. I'm glad that it was Greg who made this argument-to see I'm not the only one thiking on these lines.

Here is Tom's response:

"The whole "I'm a strong man... I can get it done... don't worry your little child-like heads, let Daddy take care of it" shtick that seems to impress his followers so much, thoroughly disgusts me. I guess it goes with the cult of personality, but I personally can't think of a less attractive way to market a campaign. Even if I agreed with 100% of his policy ideas, I wouldn't vote for that kind of person: the idea that we should all just turn off our brains and put our trust in a strong man is revolting to me. 

"Cult" really is a good description!"

See what I don't know is whether or not policy really matters to Tom or he just doesn't like certain attitudes or mannerisms. It sounds like he cares more about process than policy. But you know it's interesting. George W. Bush used to say that it wouldn't be so bad to have a dictatorship if he could be the dictator.

But Obama apparently, when he's on foreign soil says something similar. He doesn't use the word dictator but he does joke that it sure would be nice not to have a Congress.

I often do think that the problem is that the President is too constitutionally weak to get the things done that need to be done. No, I don't want a dictatorship. But our separation of powers form is very biased towards not getting anything done.

Ideally, I wouldn't agree that we should have no Congress but I would like to see the President's office strengthened vis a vis Congress. As it is you have a GOP Congress who for the last 7 years has refused to do anything even if they agree with it as it would give Obama some credit. What we have had is basically minority rule. Most people want gun control but a sizable minority doesn't want it, so we don't get it. Ditto on raising government spending, the environment and many other issues. 

So our problem right now is hardly 'strong men.' The idea of a strong men even has a certain resonance-someone who could bully his way thorugh all the gridlock and nonsense.

Tom talks about Trump transgressing norms.

"If we were to have a president that went well beyond any in recent memory regarding ignoring the constitution, I'd guess it would be Trump. He's completely shameless and seems to not care a bit about setting any kind of good example. He enjoys breaking civilizing taboos. If he felt like running for a 3rd term, or shattering constitutional precedent, or flat out cheating (say by insisting only "patriots" (i.e. Trump supporters) be allowed to count votes from now on) and his cult of personality were still strong enough with the military and the public to pull it off, he'd just do it. Fuck the law. Fuck history and precedent. I don't think he cares one iota about any of that crap: it's all about him. That's my impression. He's a "Rubicon crosser" if ever there was one."

But a lot of our current norms don't deserve any respect. I don't think he could simply break the constitution at will-as Greg replied later, if nothing else the army would put him in his place.

But when it comes to the press a lot of the time I kind of laugh at what he does to them-they are not worthy or respect for how they've comported themselves for the last 24 years. Now if they truly performed their social function correctly that would be different. But when they whine about him not kissing their ring I could care less.

This is the same press corps that has taken all kinds of lies perfectly seriously-like Whitewater or more recently Emailgate. They don't get to suddenly say what is going too far.

As for term limits, I don't support them anyway. Term limits are a GOP device. They have done all kinds of mischief at the state level. Term limits are actually an infringment on the right to vote.

The only reason we have them is because the GOP in the late 40s worried they would never get back in the White House again. If only that had been the case.

Don't get me wrong-a lot of this is playing Devil's Advcoate-not a bad role when discussing Trump! But I have to say a big part of our current problems is the office of the President is weak and we can get nothing done. Ideally, the parliamentary system has a lot to say for it. I'd rather we voted for party rather than specific candidates.

That is in a sense much fairer. You know exactly what policies you are voting for then. And even if you vote for the minority party you aren't wholly disenfranchised-it depends crucially whether your party lost by a point or 10 points. In the US after 2000 the GOP had all three Houses of government by a hair and it was as if half the country who voted Dem was totally disenfranchised.
But in the UK if your party loses by inches then it still has a lot more clout and limits the majority a lot more.

But if you win an election you should get the chance to implement your own policies. If Trump were a strong man who could get something done that might be a good thing.

FDR is widely consider red one of our best Presidents ever and no one straddled the line more in terms of constitutional limits than he did.

Now I know there's the Hitler argument-maybe Trump will prove to be another Hitler. Two things about that:

1. I don't' know that this is his intention. I doubt it.

2. Even if it were, he wouldn't be able to become the nation's Furher. Hitler had the political coalition to implement Nazism. He had the party and he had basically his own army. Trump has none of this. The same limits that would stop Bernie would stop Trump.

But within our US context, for me there is nothing worse than a Republican Administration. Trump is not a Republican-anymore than Bernie is a Democrat-so by definition he would not be as bad.

I wrote about John Fund in my last post.

He has been an implacable foe of Trump. Does this make him a nice guy? Hardly. Indeed, he wrote a book that was about how 'voter fraud' is stealing elections.

Tom mentions democratic norms but there meanwhile has been a concerted broad effort to disenfranchise voters of color across this country. It's systemic not tied to any cult of personality or anything like that.

You better believe I'd rather Trump in the WH than a friend of John Fund. 

Everything hangs in the balance in 2017 and it starts with the Supreme Court. Just by dint of Trump's criticism of Scalia, he shows that his SJC picks would be better than anyone the real GOPers would give us. 

For 30 years the Right has controlled the SJC. The next President may well be appointing two to three new Justices. It's already 5-4 Right, A GOP President could make this 6-3 or even 7-2. But with Trump I think it's much more open. 

I doubt he'd have much of a litmus test on abortion or care about strict construction or Originalism or other Right wing judicial hogwash. 

Meanwhile we have a Roberts Court who has gutted the Voting Rights Act and given us Citizen's United. 

So yes, I'll take Trump any day of the week and twice on Sundays over a Republican. 

Again, this has been as a Devil's Advocate. I don't believe if Trump is nominated which is still a major if he wins the general by any stretch of the imagination. 

P.S. Tom also said this. 

" If he's currently saying what he means: intending to turn the US into fortress America, and turning the immigration service into a kind of inform-on-your neighbor gestapo. Not a country I'd want to live in. Plus I think it helps radical Islam, thus weakening the fight against ISIS, etc, and having the effect of potentially increasing terrorism, especially against Americans. "Fortress America" types don't give a crap about ever leaving the US (I'd suppose), but I'd like to have that option open."

I agree with this but still some historical perspective is in order. What Trump is calling for-a temporary ban on Muslims-was once the law of the land for almost 40 years-1925 to 1964. That wasn't just a ban on Muslims but all immigration. Indeed, some legal experts think that Trump's ban would be constitutional.

Jimmy Carter is said to have banned immigration from Iran during the Hostage Crisis.

You hate to say it but a lot of Americans do agree with an immigration ban. It's a very popular idea-something like 40% of Americans. Even some on the Left believe on some level that low income immigrants either steal Americans' jobs or at least bring down their wages.

But while Tom says he takes people at their word, I'm sort of with Greg here-I think a lot of what he's saying is just politics. He knows it's crazy.


  1. I'm a believer in the ends not justifying the means. Plus I'm not comfortable with too much political excitement... Never a good thing in my book. I'd like to see politics become completely drained of any emotion... With debates and campaign rallies having all the excitement of a critical design review of a new signal processing algorithm. So fucking dry your lips will chap just seeing it on TV. That's why I like HRC. Lol...

    1. Trump offers way too much excitement for my taste... Which I believe is categorically bad, and not only that, but the excitement he induces is more like anxiety. The whole GOP is guilty... So I'm willing to put up with him if he ends up crushing the GOP field. I'd be happy to see the modern GOP eliminated as a source of any excitement for a good long time.

    2. Like I've said before even Hitler had some good policies. There's a whole chapter on it in the rise and fall of the third Reich. The cost was rule by a strongman, which leads to way too much excitement.

    3. As I explained above Trump is not in the position of Hilter-no party, no quasi military police force.

      I'm less sure that you never look at ends only means

      But again, this is all just Devil's Advocate stuff. I don't believe Trump has a meaningful shot at beating HRC.

      I only indulged in this when I saw that Greg agrees with me-indeed, even goes further than me. LOL

    4. I mean I'm less convinced that ends should not be considered.

    5. That's where you and I differ Mike... My idea of politics done right is it really doesn't matter too much who wins. I don't like bringing up Hitler and facism. I feel like a tin foil hat wearing loon when I do. Now maybe they never actually existed... But I miss the good old days of being almost completely unconcerned about politics. Maybe it's just that I became aware... But whatever it is I don't like it. I'd prefer feeling a strong kinship to the bulk of my countrymen, but that feeling is fading fast.

      Obama has brought out the worst in the worst. Maybe that ugliness was already there, but I'm tired of being sickened by it. Oh well, there's probably no going back!
      Looks like I'll be a political junkie for the foreseeable future.

    6. Welcome to the club. I have to admit I love it. LOL

    7. I literally have the strong impression that the GOP is trying to punish America for electing Obama... Like a bratty kid who does all he can to destroy his single mothers relationship with a guy he doesn't like the looks of. Mean and spiteful and irrational. I'm with you on being cautiously optimistic about Ryan. Differences of opinion on policy I can handle. Juvenile spite I can't.

    8. Regarding electing an intelligent and capable leader with a mixed race background and an anxiety producing name like Obama... I think the GOP is trying to tell America. "You'd better not ever do that again!"

    9. Right there used to be such a thing as 'loyal opposition' where even if the President was from the other party you would oppose him only substantively and consructively

      But what the GOP did under Obama was oppose everything-even stuff they agree with so as not to let him get any political victories.

      Ryan seems to want to put that behind him-we'll see. No matter what though we've already gotten more out of the House than we had a right to hope for

    10. I think the GOP would find a way to dial up the crazy no matter who the Dems put forward, but my personal theory is that it would be about only two thirds as bad if Obama had been named Mike Smith. I think his name made them pee their pants, and they seem to have never gotten over it. Plus the fact that he doesn't sound like a Fundy preacher must make them think he's too secular.

    11. It's funny, le pen is a vehement secularist I understand. Lol... I'll be slightly less unhappy when our rabid right are committed secularists.

    12. Well Trump is secular. He pretends to be religious. He goes in front of a religious right crowd and he says 'You should read the Art of the Deal. It's a great book. You know what's an even great book-not even close? The Bible. I like the Bible a lot'

      Somehow they find this insincere!

    13. I'm sad to say that these GOP tantrums have ground me down. I don't have any kids, but I imagine a weary toddler parent must feel the same way... Perhaps they just lack the energy to try to introduce a new vegetable to little Tina... The terrible two year old autism scale hellion. After that shudder inducing incident last Thursday. They just decide play it safe and go with chicken tenders again.

  2. I do mean, however, what I said about our system being too weak. There is a strong case for a parliamentary system.

    We have a system where the Senate literally disenfranchises millions of people-by awarding the same 2 Senators in every state.

  3. Hey guys

    Let me be clear on my comment about Trump vs Hillary. I think there are things regarding how Wall St gets treated by govt types like Hillary that could be totally different with Trump. For example Trump knows the difference between deals which involve real work and creation of real value and which ones are just accounting tricks that look like economic growth, he's done a little of both himself. I think politicians and economists are prone to being taken for ride by these guys.

    Also I think as a business person he sees how stupid it is to have businesses footing the bill for health insurance. One of the best things that can be done for business bottom lines is to take health care off their hands. He could argue it from a perspective that Hillary cant offer. Hillary is toxic to business types, lets face it. She is hated by too many. I don't think my hatred of any GOP candidate (and I do hate quite a few) can match the hatred of the right for Hillary. Plus Im not willing to do any thing near what probably 60% of the haters would do to Hillary.
    Which brings me to this from Tom above

    "That's where you and I differ Mike... My idea of politics done right is it really doesn't matter too much who wins. I don't like bringing up Hitler and facism. I feel like a tin foil hat wearing loon when I do. Now maybe they never actually existed... But I miss the good old days of being almost completely unconcerned about politics. Maybe it's just that I became aware... But whatever it is I don't like it."

    I agree whole heartedly Tom. Ive said before myself that I was completely a-political when I moved to the south. It wasn't til I turned 33 and Clinton was elected that I saw a side of my brethren that was quite........ startling and disconcerting Clintons 2nd term seemed to quiet down some but then the Bush Gore debacle and ditto heads everywhere..... I had no choice but to keep up politically, though I am far from a junkie.
    I must say though that having a black democrat win has brought an even higher level of hate. I literally can not talk with some folks if it looks like the subject is going to get political at all.

    I think you and I grew up in a world where mostly the GOP was winning, Reagan/Bush I was the first 12 years after I could vote. I didn't know how politics could be until the conservatives had to suffer a defeat.

    "I'd prefer feeling a strong kinship to the bulk of my countrymen, but that feeling is fading fast.

    Obama has brought out the worst in the worst. Maybe that ugliness was already there, but I'm tired of being sickened by it. Oh well, there's probably no going back!
    Looks like I'll be a political junkie for the foreseeable future."

    Yep! Sounds like my story. BTW, I think that ugliness has always been there.

  4. See my story is rare. I'm a political jumkie for the pure love of it. I was invested in politics even when I was young.

    In 1980 I was just 9 years old but I took Carter's loss hard.

    1. Your family must have been invested in politics I imagine Mike, I don't think kids pick that up on their own. Didn't you say you came from a biracial family? If so that probably has something to do with it.

      However I do remember in 1968 really wanting Hubert Humphrey to win. I had an opinion of Humphrey vs Nixon (which I probably got from my parents) but there was no passion or real sense of loss with the outcome.
      It was like picking a favorite in the World Series to me.

      I have a couple times in my life where my parents politics came out and I was sort of surprised when I got older when I understood more.

      My dad who was a military officer, did a Viet Nam tour and was injured (and he was not often overtly political) had a time when we lived in California (post VietNam) when he declared he was going to write in Angela Davis for president. This was in 72. After he died this past spring I found a lot of things my dad had written and many were published in newspapers (like letters to the editor and stuff) and he was quite the......
      non-conformist. He wrote things criticizing military policies, rising theocratic ideas etc.... stuff I never heard him talk about at home. It was very interesting to learn.

  5. I hope my previous comment was not taken in the wrong way regarding bi racial
    I was only suggesting that politics and awareness of class go hand in hand. My sense is that minorities and biracial couples are much more aware of their place on a daily basis and whethe they vote or not they have strong views on who would be worse for them.

  6. No no offense taking there. My father did talk a pretty decent amount about politics when I was young-though not as much as I do these days.

    It wasn't really the biracial thing-my parents didn't really raise me to think about race-that only came up at all in High School and it was more black kids thatmade an issue of it than anything.

    Indeed some might criticize my parents for really de-emphasizing race for my brother and I, but while I certainly have criticism of a number of things they did, that really isn't one of them.

    I sometimes wonder if there isn't' a little too much racial consciousness today.

    I probably was exposed to politics a little more than typical but it touched a six sense of mine for politics-it really is in my blood.