Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The sickness of Trump voters

December 3, 2016

images-1The Economist magazine did a statistical analysis of the presidential vote, by county, to find what demographic factor best predicted the swing to Trump (from Romney’s 2012 vote). The percentage of non-college whites was an obvious factor – they went two-to-one for Trump. But The Economist found another factor that correlated even better with Trump’s gains over Romney: health.

They analyzed data for life expectancy, obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking, and exercise (or lack thereof). The worse a county did on these measures, the better Trump fared relative to Romney. Those poor health factors did also correlate with high percentages of non-college whites; but among non-college white populations some did less poorly on health; and there, Trump did less well.

images-2Why? The Economist suggests “that the ill may have been particularly susceptible to Mr. Trump’s message.” They note too a rising death rate among middle-aged less educated white males (bucking the bigger global trend toward longer lives). Drinking, opioid abuse, and suicide are cited as factors; which in turn are linked to deindustrialization and poor job prospects. The Economist deems it unsurprising that people in such circumstances pinned their hopes on Trump (foolish though it may be).

imagesBased on its analysis, the magazine calculates that if diabetes were 7% lower in Michigan, 8% more Pennsylvanians exercised regularly, and heavy drinking in Wisconsin were 5% lower, Clinton would have won.

This might suggest a winning strategy for Democrats would be to focus on public health. But meantime many of them are saying that if only Bernie had been nominated, he’d have won. They still feel he was somehow cheated out of the nomination – even though Clinton got several million more primary votes. Anyhow, the idea that the nation that elected Trump would really have preferred a cheerless 74-year-old socialist Brooklyn Jew is laughable. America is basically a center-right country, not center-left, and certainly not far left. By travelling that route, Democrats will achieve ideological self-satisfaction and electoral irrelevance.

One commenter diagnosed the Democrats’ problem thusly: Kennedy put a man on the Moon. Obama put a man in the women’s room. (At least that’s how some see it.)

I don’t expect another election will somehow snap America back to political sanity. It will most likely be a contest between the White People’s Party of Lies and Nonsense and the Democrats’ Socialist Party of Economic Nonsense.images-1 Can’t we get a third option, a Party of Truth and Reason? Actually, it may not be hopeless. David Brooks writes in a recent column of efforts toward organizing a sensible center alliance in American politics. And as I’ve noted previously, Ross Perot in 1992, running as a third party candidate, albeit very flawed, got 19% of the vote. That’s halfway to winning a three-sided race. If Trump could win the presidency with 46% of Americans voting idiotically, maybe, just maybe, someone could win with 40% voting sensibly.

Trump: Making China great again

November 27, 2016

unknownThanks to president-elect Trump’s opposition, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is dead. And considering all his China-bashing in the campaign, it’s a supreme irony that they’re high-fiving each other in Beijing – because Trump has handed China one gigantic geopolitical triumph.

This is America forfeiting – to China – Pacific region trade leadership. The TPP, painstakingly negotiated over many years, was our way to unite the other regional nations with us to resist Chinese bullying. unknown-2With America pulling back, now they’re left to fend for themselves, which will mean accommodating to China as the region’s big Kahuna.

But the words “trade deal” have become so politically toxic here. Shame on Democrats for their cowardly unwillingness to defend one of President Obama’s key initiatives. He himself was forced to give up on it. Not to mention Republicans, who until recently knew better on this issue too.

America’s share of global manufacturing has not been falling. Manufacturing jobs have been disappearing — but due more to technological advancement than trade. And trade-related job losses are overwhelmed by the benefits to U.S. consumers when prices we pay are lower. That savings translates into more consumer spending, which creates jobs, making up for any lost. Furthermore, if trade makes countries like China and Mexico richer, that’s good for us — they can buy more from us. And anyhow, the TPP would not actually have given other countries much added ability to sell us stuff – our tariffs were already quite low. unknown-1But it would have required those other nations to reduce their trade barriers, enabling U.S. businesses to sell more to them. For us, it was a no-brainer. But I guess we have no brains now.

President Trump, of the Nation Formerly Known as America

November 16, 2016

Give him a chance. He can’t be so bad. He’s our president now. Let’s hope he succeeds. You’re just a bunch of political sore losers, get over it. This is what we’re hearing.

unknownThere’s an idea that his critics have been refuted, that being elected somehow laundered him – proving all the negative stuff about him during the campaign was untrue or irrelevant. That the media misrepresented him. Sorry, not so. Things said don’t become unsaid; facts don’t become non-facts. He’s still Donald “Grab them by the pussy” Trump.

But America does love redemption stories, and it’s hoped the presidency’s awesomeness will reform him. He did seem subdued in his post-election appearances. However, so many times I’ve seen some foreign leader elected, thinking what a great opportunity he has to prove the doubters wrong. They never do. Look at South Africa’s Zuma. A creep before. A bigger creep after.

Power does corrupt. It doesn’t make bad men better, it makes them worse. As a student of history and world affairs, I know this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

Steve Bannon, Senior Counselor to the President

Steve Bannon, Senior Counselor to the President

It’s also hoped that a “successful businessman” will naturally surround himself with the best people. What a joke. He was a failure at actually building businesses, making his fortune by looting them and leaving others holding the bag; then marketing his celebrity name. And the best people? Steve Bannon? Reince Priebus? Rudy Giuliani? Newt Gingrich?

Send in the clowns.

In hindsight, Trump won the election on his campaign’s first day, with two words: “They’re rapists.” Not that it was believed literally, but it set the tone. Enough voters instantly latched onto him as their personal avatar, and nothing could budge them. “He tells it like it is.” Another sick joke – the biggest liar in our political history.

His voters feel America has been going downhill, and Trump will turn it around. They’re right about the former, in some ways, but not the latter. unknown-2Our politics has certainly been going downhill, with divisions hardening, and truth, reason and decency among the casualties. Trump is the culmination; not a national renewal, but a national degradation; the bottom falling out.

This is not being a sore loser about an election, it’s the loss of our country. Not about politics or ideology, but culture and values. I keep hearing, “This is not who we are.” And I say to myself: “Well, it is now.”

Of course this is all hyperbole. Life will go on much as before; America is still a great place to live. Unlike in many others, I can still freely write this blog. For now; Donald Trump truly does not like that, nor do a lot of his followers. That’s just one way they trash the principles that actually made America great. unknown-3When will we see the Trump neighborhood brigades to “defend the revolution,” like in Cuba and Venezuela? (And in Sinclair Lewis’s now uncanny 1935 book, It Can’t Happen Here.)

This American travesty reflects an unfortunate worldwide trend of short-sighted voters brainlessly demolishing what was so painstakingly built. Like in the Brexit vote. The democratic, genuinely liberal and humanistic lights are also going out in Turkey (a huge tragedy), the Philippines, Hungary, Poland, Thailand; France and Italy could well be next. The EU’s continuation is doubtful. While Russia and China get more repressive and emboldened; look for a Baltic invasion, putting NATO to the test. And America’s steady leadership is a bygone. A tough time for optimists.

I am politically homeless today. The name “Republican” is ashes in my mouth. I find myself in some sympathy with “progressive” Trump opponents; however, they’re wrong on so many issues, and often just as bad on the fundamental ideal of freedom of thought and expression. The alternative in the next election will likely be far left.

unknown-4But no matter how lonely, I will continue speaking out for the humanistic values I hold dear, and that have given us so much progress. I will continue — until that brigade comes for me.

Rational optimist – or pessimist?

November 12, 2016

On Wednesday morning I changed this blog’s title from “The Rational Optimist” to “The Rational Pessimist.”

unknown-1Psychology research shows that optimism-versus-pessimism, happiness-versus-unhappiness, is largely inborn, and largely impervious to life’s vicissitudes. That we have a set-point of temperament, to which one’s mood reverts, after the immediate impact of some positive or negative event dissipates. I have been blessed with a setting at the far end of the range. It was no coincidence that I literally wrote the book on optimism.

Tuesday night was the worst thing ever in my life. Worse than 9/11. Worse even than when my longtime girlfriend left me. Someone has said that “Never Trump” Republicans (like me) are now the loneliest people in the world. I have agonized about changing my enrollment; but the Democrats will likely continue their leftward march. images-1I’m the man without a party; I feel like the man without a country.

On Wednesday evening, I attended a local gathering (celebrating an election upset 50 years earlier). I wore black. However, as I ran toward the entrance, in the rain, I realized I was already actually feeling cheerful – confirming all that set-point psychology research! (A nod here to my wife and marriage, which have been my rock.)

But my book and blog referenced rational optimism – not a Pollyanna attitude with rose-colored glasses. Another strong personality trait of mine is realism. I see no benefit in deluding myself about things I wish were true. Thus I’ve also written of my “ideology of reality.”

One of the realities I accept is that the cosmos is purposeless, undirected, and our existence is an evolutionary accident. But that means it’s entirely up to us to make the best of our situation; and, unlike every other creature that ever existed, we have great tools for it. Mainly, our incredibly powerful brains. And, using those tools, we have actually done fantastically at making for ourselves lives worth living. unknown-2Especially in modern times, since the Enlightenment, humanity has achieved incredible progress. (Once again I reference Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature.) This is the heart of my rational optimism.

In that march of progress, building the means for people to live good lives, one of our greatest creations has been the United States of America.

But the realist in me knows that we are not perfect beings, and for all the reasoning power of our brains, we are subject to rampaging emotions and irrationality. What people build people can also destroy – sometimes intentionally, sometimes unwittingly. America is not immune. No God protects her from human folly.

unknownAn enterprise like America can only be sustained if the people in it actually understand what it’s all about. Tuesday showed that America – well, half at least – has lost the thread. It’s freedom and democracy, yes, but also rule of law; pluralism; human dignity; tolerance; openness; generosity; fair play; civility; responsibility; community spirit; and, not least, devotion to truth and reason. What Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” (inspiring Pinker’s title).

Those establishment “elites” whom Trump voters so resent have upheld those values quite well, indeed kept up the momentum of progress (for example with gay marriage). But meantime, lamentably, the rest of America has undergone a long process of civic decline – decline in genuine devotion to its ideals and values, because too few people are educated and acculturated nowadays in what those precepts mean. Too many have reduced Americanism to flag waving and snarling empty slogans.

There are a lot of reasons, a lot of culprits, it’s not a simple story, and a lot of it is actually fallout from some aspects of our progress (like greater racial equality) – but the bottom line is that too few Americans still understand what actually made America great. unknown-4This is why the “Make America Great Again” slogan was so painfully ironic. I wish we could make America great again – like it was before Tuesday.

We heard much talk of voters expressing their pain. I won’t belittle what anyone feels; but surely conditions of life in today’s America are not historically bad. Things in the Depression, for example, were much, much worse. However, voters in the Depression did not fall for such a blatant, un-American demagogue. Nor would have tolerated a candidate with such grotesque defects of character.* That all this was accepted in 2016 bespeaks a sad corrosion of America’s character.

This is why I am so heartbroken. Hearing the national anthem has always teared me up. Now it will be for what’s been lost.

And yet there may be hope, because perhaps strangely, it is older people who most embody the decline, while younger people – more shaped by the trends of modernity I mentioned – seem to better embrace those Enlightenment civic values their elders have forgotten. unknown-5It’s true too of the new arrivals – that’s why I so welcome immigration – people come here because they do crave America’s true meaning, and their coming is a national renewal.

Well, our new first lady is an immigrant.** That’s one thing at least to celebrate.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” images-2Seeing that great trend of history made me an optimist. But it’s never a smooth curve, and America has just bent sharply the other way. But I’m not ready to believe humanity’s whole arc has changed. Nor am I ready to give up on what America used to stand for. I have tried to promote those values on this blog. Now, I will have to work harder at it.

I have restored this blog’s title.

* Please, stuff the spluttering about Clinton. There’s no comparison. Indeed, the very fact that so many failed to see this shows how messed up the country has become.

** Though not the first; that was Louisa Adams. However, also ironically, the first family will include its first Jew.

The morning after

November 9, 2016

No serious, thinking, responsible, conscientious, civic-minded people supported Trump (even before the sexual assault stuff). He was rightly seen as a perfect storm of horribleness. No newspapers (apart from the KKK’s and one other) endorsed him, a remarkable break with business-as-usual. Electing him is, to quote Thomas Friedman, “insane.”

We kept hearing about voter anger, craving for change, resentment toward elites, and economic anxieties. All true of course; and yet Trump voters have the highest living standard of any people ever. (Their incomes are actually above average.) They are spoiled brats. No civic-mindedness, no we’re-all-in-it-together community spirit. No thought for the consequences of their action. Instead self gratification, solipsism, narcissism. No wonder they backed a man epitomizing those very characteristics.

unknown-4It’s also naked tribalism. A famous social science experiment put two similar groups of boys into two isolated wilderness camps. Each group developed an internal tribal solidarity. But when the two eventually met, it was us-against-them tribal conflict. Such tribalism blights our politics and governance.

Us against them, us against the world, was a key dynamic of Trump support. This wasn’t ideological, or about policies, but identity politics. His voters whipped themselves into an hysteria of Hillary-hatred while shrugging off Trump’s being a psychopathic monster. That didn’t matter; facts didn’t matter; much of the Hillary rap sheet was conspiratorial nonsense, like all that wacky Obama nonsense, that he’s a Muslim, etc. (His main crime was skin color.) A lot of this garbage comes from Facebook and other internet sources where anyone can say anything. Trump’s followers lap it up.

(The Economist reports that the most accurate predictor of Trump support was believing Obama is a Muslim. (Ironically, no one ever calls him an atheist – which could be true.) The Daily Show recently featured some Trump supporters and their cuckoo tropes. Some insisted Obama was absent from the Oval Office on 9/11!)

I have written before about confirmation bias: embracing whatever supports your prejudices while rejecting any conflicting information. And smarter people can actually be more likely to believe untrue things because they are more skillful at spinning rationalizations to bolster their deluded ideas.

The country has experienced vast social change: more opportunities for women, blacks, gays, other minorities; more ethnic diversity, and openness to the world. Even that black president. The inevitable backlash, till now, was contained; but Trump has brought it to the center of our politics.

unknown-5Amanda Taub in the New York Times wrote on November 2 of a “crisis” in white identity. We anchor our identities in two ways: what we achieve, and what we identify with. Economic changes make the former tougher for many people, so they cleave harder to the latter. Whites used to feel a privileged status vis-à-vis other ethnicities; but now that too has become tougher. There’s a feeling of, “this is not my country any more.” However, “[f]or decades, the language of white identity has only existed in the context of white supremacy,” which was taboo, thus leaving white identity effectively voiceless. Trumpism provided an outlet for it, a key element of his support.

Plain misogyny was a factor too. Some males just couldn’t stomach a woman as president. Trump’s caricature of macho played to that.

And of course, he is quite simply a con man, and fools bought the con. Polls wound up with voters bizarrely seeing him as the more honest and trustworthy candidate. Trump, the most colossal liar in American political history.

There used to be standards: of veracity, decency, character, civility, fairness, seriousness. Trump drove a bulldozer through them all, they’re demolished, and our politics will never be the same.

His pious words about uniting the nation are empty. His candidacy was resentment and division incarnate. If anything, the truculence can only be expected to ramp up with its victory, with the smell of blood in its nostrils. (This was on exhibit with the snarling of his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on CNN this morning – no magnanimity there.) And considering the vicious political divisiveness through the last several presidencies – well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Bill Maher the other day said maybe the left had erred in so demonizing George W. Bush and even Romney – honorable men, actually – thus “crying wolf.” And now there is a real demon to demonize.

Some may hope the presidency will mellow Trump. He has shown himself to be a narcissistic egomaniac – what do you think will happen when someone like that gets hold of the power and glory of the presidency?

unknownI have always been, though a realist, an idealist worshipping at the altar of democracy. I had no time for cynics on that score. Like the Russian and Chinese autocrats who sneer at our democracy as weak and dysfunctional. Jefferson idealized a democracy supported by an informed, civic-minded citizenry – but that’s the Achilles heel. Voters can indeed be fools. We saw it in the stupid Brexit vote, in Colombia’s stupid rejection of the peace deal, and now in the idiotic Trump vote. One bad choice at the polls, falling for a demagogue, can wreck a country; look at Venezuela.

I would like to make citizens of all the undocumented aliens and Syrian refugees and, in exchange, deport Trump voters. We’d have a better country.

unknown-7God has not decreed it forever safe from fools. Trump has debauched the nation. Electing him is a repudiation of the high ideals and values it has stood for. This is not my country any more. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with America, but today is like finding her in bed with a gigolo.



Hillary’s victory speech (draft)

November 8, 2016

unknownTo: HRC

From: FSR

Re: Draft victory speech

Well, Hill, you didn’t use any of my drafts before. Though I bet you wish you had given that e-mail speech. Anyway, here’s what I think you should say tonight:


Gosh! From the bottom of my heart (I do have one), thank you, America. It’s customary on occasions like this to say one is “humbled.” But people who say it really mean the opposite. Humility is the last thing on their minds. I don’t feel humbled, I feel proud, to finally realize my great ambition.

Saying this reflects a new policy of mine: openness and honesty.

unknown-1I won’t be the first president who starts off distrusted by a majority of the country. Lincoln actually did too. Not that I’m another Lincoln. But I do realize that I won only because my opponent was The Bogeyman.

So you see I am trying to be honest. That was not always true in the past, sometimes it was a matter of what I thought I could get away with – which, in fact, I was often wrong about. I’ve learned from all that. And furthermore, being president entails a special burden of responsibility I didn’t have before. You may take that with a grain of salt – but for the good of the country, please give me a chance to prove that if I didn’t earn your trust before, I can earn it going forward.

Another characteristic I’ve unfortunately been known for is scorched-earth political partisanship. In fact, extreme partisan divisiveness lies at the heart of America’s problems, because it prevents action on all the others. And because of my history I know I’m not exactly the ideal person to remediate this. Yet precisely because of that, I feel a special obligation to try – to rise above that past. If I have personified the culture of political tribalism and recrimination, maybe I can be the one to break it.

imagesI may not succeed. But if not, I don’t want it to be because I didn’t do enough, or (unlike my predecessor) I talked the talk without walking the walk.

Now, a lot of my supporters believe those on the other side are not just wrong but wicked, actuated by bad motives. I’m guilty of saying things like that myself. And a lot of Republicans similarly believe Democrats are evil.

This must stop.

President Obama first gained fame with a speech saying there’s no white America or black America, just one America. But whatever our racial divisions may be, our partisan divisions are much worse. I want to say there’s not a progressive America and not a conservative America – but an awful lot of you will disagree. Yet we are indeed all Americans, and, with few exceptions, Americans are good people – even those you disagree with.

Donald Trump lost because he never understood that America is great because it is good.

unknown-2This is why we love America. And I love the American people – all of you – even Trump voters. Yes, I love you, Trump voters. I want to hug you. Though maybe we’ll send you to re-education camps. (Just kidding.)

But most Republicans are just as sincere as Democrats in wanting what’s best for America. You may oppose their policies, because you have different ideas of what is best. But Lyndon Johnson liked to say, “Come, let us reason together.” That will be my policy toward our Republican friends. I will meet with them regularly, respectfully, openly, sharing ideas, and doing my darndest to work with them to come up with solutions to America’s problems.

So while I am a Democrat, it will not be as a Democrat that I will govern; this may sound sappy, but I mean it seriously – it will be as everyone’s president that I intend to govern. The result will not be Democratic party programs; not Democratic “victories,” but American programs, American triumphs.

10f0a216cFinally: there was a famous Washington Post cartoonist, “Herblock,” who had always portrayed Richard Nixon with a sinister-looking five o’clock shadow. But when Nixon was elected president, Herblock’s cartoon said, “This shop gives every new president a free shave.”

I humbly – yes, humbly – ask my fellow Americans for a clean shave.

A Final Word – Snow White versus Voldemort

November 6, 2016

The Economist magazine is ideologically far from Clinton and the Democrats, yet endorsed her. Their editorial is well worth reading, because it puts things in proper perspective. It recognizes Clinton’s faults, but also her strengths. Trump has none.

unknownA lifelong Republican and libertarian, I too am ideologically as far from Clinton as one could get. I have harshly criticized her character. images-1And I’m still voting for Johnson. But this hasn’t deranged my objectivity – Clinton compared against Trump is like Snow White versus Voldemort.

Such objectivity seems nonexistent in Trumpland. Likewise truth and facts. The attacks on Clinton over the e-mails and other such issues are ludicrously overblown. The latest FBI letter was a disgraceful interference by that agency in the election – there is no “there” there, no actual new information, nothing added to what was already known. And none of it remotely compares with Trump’s well-documented turpitude hurting so many real people, like the victims of his Trump University fraud, his bankruptcies, refusal to pay bills, sexual assaults, and on and on.

unknown-1Wall Street has also given its verdict: falling for an almost unprecedented nine straight days over fear of Trump winning. Market investors understand what a disaster that would be for the economy. People voting for him out of economic anxiety are sadly deluded – his idiotic program if actually implemented (as The Economist explains) would hurt them most of all.

Since 1964, many elections have gone against my choice. Alternation of power is a strength of our democracy, making me love America all the more. But this time is different. I’ve never been so worried about an election and the nation’s future.

images-2My final plea to Trump voters, quoting Oliver Cromwell (1650):

“I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

What this election is about: America’s soul

November 2, 2016

This election is not about issues or policies. It’s about character – America’s character.

unknownTrump’s America would be a different country from the one I’ve known and loved. It will have lost its way; lost the great thread of high ideals that made it a shining city on a hill. No longer a country of openness, optimism, and goodwill, but a mean, closed, fearful one. Not the land of the brave, of can-do spirit, but blaming others for its problems.

images-1A country not of love but hate, spreading a virus that used to slink in the shadows: of white supremacy, xenophobia, conspiracy theories, and contempt for democratic values.

Not a country that stands up against a murderous foreign despot (Putin), but fawns on him and throws its allies to his mercies.

And one that doesn’t punish lying and cheating, but rewards them. Clinton is no angel — but her personal defects* beside Trump’s are as molehills to mountains. Only partisan tribalism blinds his supporters to this.

unknownHis lies are gigantic, pathological, constant. Lying about New Jerseyites celebrating 9/11. Lying about his discussion with Mexico’s president. Lying about his past lies, like asinine “birtherism.” Lying about the sexual assaults he’s bragged about. And lying about why he wouldn’t reveal his tax returns. Only a fool would trust this psychopath about anything.

His fortune was built on rip-offs and pillage, shirking debts, leaving a scorched earth of financial ruin, embodied in thousands of lawsuits. His bankruptcies have victims – everyone whose bills were not paid, or investments wiped out. He never pays anyone what he owes. He’s on trial for fraud and racketeering regarding the Trump University scam. He’s even skimmed money contributed to his campaign!

He has incited violence, encouraging followers to punch people, promising to pay their legal bills. He has threatened to jail his opponent, emulating the worst dictators. He undermines democracy with baseless claims that the election is rigged, and refusing to accept the results.

unknown-2America has been a noble nation. Everything about this man is ignoble. Everything.

I am a lifelong Republican. But how can anyone with self-respect, civic responsibility, and a grain of moral common sense, vote for Donald “Grab them by the pussy” Trump? Where is Republican talk about “family values” now? As leading author Thomas Friedman wrote, he “is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him.” And that was before the sexual assault revelations. What would it say about America’s soul if this vile creep wins?

unknown-1Could you still sing “God bless America” with a straight face? His invoking God’s name is blasphemous. God will not bless a nation that votes for such a monster.

* The latest e-mail stuff adds nothing to what we already knew. But I have endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Voting for the candidate best representing one’s views is not a “wasted” vote. This is not a game where the objective is to guess the winner.

Local election endorsements

October 30, 2016

I have always normally voted against incumbent office-holders, as a matter of principle, because power corrupts, and rotation in office is democratically healthy. This has generally meant voting against liberal Democrats (for me, an added reason).

I made an exception for Daniel Patrick Moynihan – one of the last exemplars of true statesmanship.



Now, another rare exception: Assembly member Patricia Fahy. Not a product of the old Albany machine (I wrote the 1973 book about it), nor ideological, but an independent person who actually seems to be in it to do good. I did check out her Republican opponent’s website, which mentions his participation in an anti-Monsanto demonstration. A sufficient disqualification, for me.



In other races, the Trump factor mangles my usual calculus. Democratic U.S. Senator Schumer is highly partisan and ideological, and a shameless publicity hound; but his GOP opponent is a crass Trump enthusiast. Thankfully, there’s a Libertarian alternative I can vote for, Alex Merced.



Congressman Paul Tonko is also very partisan and ideological. His face often appears in that Friday newspaper page with photos of high-tone local social shindigs. His GOP opponent, in their debate, nattered on with Trumpist garbage about jailing Hillary. Feh. No endorsement. Maybe I’ll write in Mickey Mouse.



There is one Republican challenger I gladly support: Christopher Davis, running against longtime State Senator Neil Breslin, a textbook example of the kind of old pol I always vote against on principle. Davis has an impressive background as a healthcare industry professional. And his website notes he participated in Gary Johnson’s 2012 Libertarian presidential campaign!

There’s also a ballot question on county charter revisions. Once again this is a self-serving deal by county legislators to avoid needed reforms — including refusing to allow voters to reduce their ridiculous overstaffing. Vote no.

City Court Judge William Carter is running for County Judge, unopposed. Nevertheless, I recommend against him. After the “99%” protests, he tried to force the District Attorney to prosecute protesters. Even I knew a judge cannot do that. It was completely inappropriate and just plain stupid. Carter was slapped down by higher courts. I cannot fathom this guy being promoted.



In the neighboring 19th Congressional District, John Faso is the Republican candidate. Watching him for decades, I was impressed with his upstanding manner of politics. He has squirmed about Trump, with obvious distaste, without being willing to explicitly disendorse him. I will give Faso a pass on that, based on his long prior record, and the fact that now, more than ever, we’ll really need some sane and responsible Republicans in Congress. Yet I must say this campaign, by both sides, is deplorable, dominated by attack ads having only a tenuous relationship with truth. Increasingly common, this pollutes our civic environment and turns people off about politics. Indeed, it’s part of why so many Americans have become so disaffected. But the ultimate blame for such campaign tactics lies with voters, who fall for them.

Melania Trump targets bullying

October 28, 2016

Melania Trump says that as First Lady, she’d focus on combating bullying.

I know where she could start.