Musings from the Bunker 10/21/20
Friends, With only 13 days remaining until the election, I continue to be perplexed my friends who may still support President Trump. I want you to know that I respect you and some of the reasons you’ve articulated for supporting Mr. Trump. I have listened carefully to your arguments regarding your support. You continue to support him seemingly regardless of his latest outrage. If loyalty were the only measure, your loyalty is laudable. But, really, why? There are those who maintain their support of Donald Trump is grounded on the notion that as bad a person as he is, he possesses the right ideas. Look past what he says and look, instead, to what he does. They maintain that his misogyny, racism, unwillingness to call out white supremacy, his use of his office to further his business interests and the interests of his children, his insults and name calling of those who are physically disabled or with whom he disagrees, his stiffing of business associates, employees, and contractors, his shameless abuse of his family foundation in violation of law and taste—all of this and more, are justifiable because his “ideas” and his “leadership” somehow justify putting up with his antics. I have found that “Trumpism” falls into several broad categories:
The Boston Patriots fans. These are tried and true lifelong Republicans—It’s my team versus your team. There is no ideology; only the spirit of competition and lifelong loyalty. Tom Brady can’t possibly cheat…neither can our political team.
He is Tough. This, and its variants—“He says things no one else would say.” Well, yes. Some of it is even coherent. But just saying tough things to the Chinese, while not backing it up with the Trans-Pacific Pact, maintaining troop levels in Korea and otherwise utilizing the tools of international law and trade is merely yelling.
He’s Not as Bad as the Alternative. This is the “alternative history” theory. Its variants include, “if Hillary were president it would be worse” or “just wait until Biden and the lefties get in there and destroy the economy” or “Biden is merely a tool of the far left.” His behaviors and policies under this construct never become the issue. That he spent 47 years in public service as a relative centrist doesn’t dissuade the claims that he’s going to take a sharp left turn and/or that he secretly is going to resign and let that “crazy lefty” Kamala Harris become president (you know, the one who for years was a prosecutor and then a U.S. Senator). The issue is “the other.”
He’s Good for the Economy. Well, if you measure the economy by the stock market, perhaps; although that seems dicey these days. The stock market does not measure the economy—not by a long shot. Stocks go up with layoffs; stocks go up when competitors are driven out of business; stocks go up when businesses save taxes by relocating manufacturing off-shore, stocks go up when the ecology is despoiled and resources are depleted.
He’ll Keep our Taxes Low. This is the argument that all hell will break loose if the Democrats emerge victorious this November. But let’s remember that taxes were sufficiently low before the Trump tax-cuts. And the cuts themselves were bizarre—lower corporate taxes than the OECD average, no mention of the carried interest break and other federal subsidies. The Trump tax policy also defies logic—state taxes aren’t deductible, some items aren’t taxed at all, and capital gains continues at historic low rates. We live in a society that provides services to its citizens. Those services must be paid for. Going back to 39% federal tax rate for the top bracket won’t be fun but it is necessary.
He’s Going to Get Rid of Obamacare. This has been a mantra since before the last election. Yet, here we are, and he continues to maintain they have a great new plan. Only we haven’t seen it yet and they’ve had four years to work on it. And, by the way, I think the ACA has worked well in certain areas and is in need of refinement—not wholesale trashing.
He’s Good for Israel. This one makes me sad. He is definitely playing for the headlines in the short term, but in the long term he has endangered our role as an honest broker and has aligned us with the corrupt and unyielding Netanyahu government. I understand recognizing the embassy in Jerusalem and even recognizing the Golan Heights annexation, as a means to bring the Palestinian leadership to the table. But why BOTH? And then why support the settlements? The demographic and democratic trends in Israel need to be addressed in a coherent, sensitive, and comprehensive manner—not with episodic headlines. And while the UAE, Bahrain and others were bound to recognize Israel formally (they’ve been doing business for years) I give him credit for pushing them to get it done.
This is About Maintaining Conservative Principles. This one I love, as I’m not sure which principles they’re concerned about. You can agree or disagree with these, but here are a few principles that, until the Trump-era were generally accepted tenants of modern conservatism:
Conservatives believe in rules and traditions of political engagement. So much for that, as Ms. Comey Barrett’s nomination is “full speed ahead” (notwithstanding Republicans’ prior insistence that late-term appointments should wait until after the election.
Conservatives believe in the fair application of rules. And yet tax expenditures and breaks for corporations are at all time highs.
Conservatives believe in fiscal responsibility. And yet, in the midst of deficit spending, Mr. Trump “doubled down” with tax breaks to the wealthy and to corporations that were unsophisticated, poorly thought out and didn’t give rise to the economic growth that was promised.
Conservatives believe in supporting allies. And yet we abandoned the TPP, we have materially weakened NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance that has kept the peace since the end of the War.
Conservatives believe in a forward deployed military and maintaining the peace. America has maintained peace and the balance of power through the deployment of troops in Germany and Korea, yet Mr. Trump wants to reduce both.
Conservatives believe in individual freedom from the powers of the state. And yet, even in the midst of a spate of police brutality and near-consensus acknowledgement of the need to rethink our criminal justice system, Mr. Trump rails about “law and order” and “locking them up” and using force. There was a time incarceration for a long time on the flimsiest of charges would be seen as an over-reaching state controlling the individual.
Conservatives believe in freedom of speech. And yet Mr. Trump has openly and repeatedly advocated for stricter rules on libel and the restriction of free speech—particularly when directed against him.
Conservatives believe in reasonable regulation. Ronald Reagan supported gun control laws that today would be unthinkable by the all-powerful gun lobby. He would be vilified for his reasonableness. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is running on “protecting our second amendment rights” without hindrance or restriction whatsoever. How does the plethora of guns fit in with Mr. Trump’s calls for “law and order”?
If all this weren’t enough, just take a look at all the folks who have worked with him—both in his administration and previously in his business life—who advocate against voting for him and describe him as dangerous, incurious, unthoughtful, chaotic, unprincipled and self-dealing in the extreme. And these folks were appointed to posts by him.
Here's from the former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under Mr. Trump: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2020/10/13/trump-threatens-american-safety-former-dhs-secretary-column/5960384002/
SCHOOL MASCOTS REDUX
In our enlightened age of purging names of schools named after Indian tribes, there are a number of other mascots that further either racial stereotypes in their names and logos or otherwise celebrate warfare, marauding or violence. A few new ones have been offered up in the past week, including:
From my cousin, Chris Cook, his alma mater, the Alhambra Moors. And while the school boasts of its heritage and its “Moorish” architecture and gardens, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the proud Moorish culture had in mind:
From Jeremy Rosen, the Saracens, whom he says struck him as in bad taste in the 80s and can’t even imagine it today. Harvard High School was the Saracens, as is a school in London…
Then there’s the Coachella Valley Arabs
And in the same league as Alhambra are the mighty San Gabriel Matadors, furthering animal abuse simultaneously:
Have a great day,