Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Tantrums Over Restaurants.

Adding on to my last post, incoming president You-Know-Who launched a missive against Vanity Fair magazine and its editor Graydon Carter, shredding them on Twitter over poor subscription numbers.

What could have set the President-elect off, you ask?  Well, Carter’s magazine has recently published a delightfully harsh review of You-Know-Who’s restaurant, calling it the worst one in America.  As anyone knows at this point, saying anything associated with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is the worst are fighting words.

Again, this incredibly thin skinned man will be our next commander in chief.  Sad!

Banning Twitter over Emoji Mishap? Sad!

Here’s just a little window into the mind of our incoming president, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  He recently held a meeting with Technology executives, including Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk.  One person missing here?  Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.  Why was that?  He was apparently banned for not allowing an emoji version of #crookedhillary as part of a deal between Twitter and the Trump Campaign.

This is what we can expect for the next four years: temper tantrums over small stuff.  Sad!

Depressing News (For the Younger Folk).

New research has come out from sociologists and economist at Standford and Harvard, revealing something that most people already have an intuitive sense of, and is still all the while depressing:

“The decline in economic  mobility between parents and kids over the past half century is astounding. About 90 percent of Americans born in the 1940s earned more than their parents by the time they turned 30. Only about half of those born in the 1980s can say the same. All figures are adjusted for inflation, household size, and the number of people working in each household.”

The research indicates that, among those hit the hardest were men in the rust belt, something that might go to explain their strong support during the past election for now President-elect He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The kicker ultimately here:  The driving force behind this phenomenon, the force that should be tackled and dealt with to reverse this trend, is growing inequality.

The Supremes Decline to Hear Death Row Cases.

This week, the Supreme Court rejected the appeals of two cases, one from Ohio, and one from Florida, involving inmates challenging the constitutionality of their death sentences.  In particular, the case from Florida involves Henry Sireci, who was first sentenced to death in 1976 over the murder of a used car salesman.  Sireci’s lawyers have argued that Florida’s refusal to grant him a new trial based on newly discovered DNA evidence that might exonerate him was a violation of his due process rights.

Justice Steven Breyer, himself on a crusade against the death penalty, made an interesting note about this case:

“When he was first sentenced to death…the Berlin Wall stood firmly in place. Saigon had just fallen. Few Americans knew of the personal computer or the Internet. And over half of all Americans now alive had not yet been born.”

Very much a testament to the inordinately lengthy amount of time death row inmate typically spend waiting for their eventual deaths.  This represents a blow to the Justice’s mission to bring an end to the death penalty, but one can imagine that this won’t be the end.

An Illegitimate President?

We all know that President-elect You-Know-Who has only attained that title through the machinations of the Electoral College.  He has not won the popular vote, and therefore, in a sense, he is going into the presidency without very much legitimacy.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has some further thoughts about the possible illegitimacy of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, some points of which are listed below:

“1. The CIA has found credible evidence that Russia intervened in the election in order to help Trump become president.

“2. It has been suggested that Trump owes vast sums of money to Russian oligarchs, friends of Putin, who have also invested substantially in Trump’s enterprises — which may explain why Trump won’t disclose his tax returns, which would show evidence of these deals.

“3. Several of Trump’s key campaign aides – including his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort – have close ties to Russia. Between 2007 and 2012, Manafort received some $12.7 million in cash payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

“4. During the campaign, Trump said he admired Putin, questioned whether the U.S. should continue to support NATO, and argued that Putin was justified in moving into Ukraine.”

You can read more of Reich’s Facebook post here, and then sit and wonder as to how can we have a man, not even chosen by the people, somehow serve them while seemingly being beholden to the interests of foreign adversaries.

Electoral College Members Want Briefing Before Monday’s Vote.

Members of our nation’s electoral college are requesting an intelligence briefing on Russia and its possible role in the recent presidential election before they themselves conduct the real vote next Monday.  They have sent an open letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, stating that the information is essential to their duties as electors to choose someone who is constitutionally fit and able to serve as president.

This call has been supported by Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta.  All of this comes in the wake of a CIA report that has concluded that Russia has interfered in the US presidential elections on behalf of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.  Of course, President-elect You-Know-Who has rejected this claim outright, reducing the chatter on this issue to sour grapes over his victory.

Some Advice from President Obama.

Outgoing President Barack Obama stopped by the “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah on Monday night, commenting on remarks recently made by President-elect You-Know-Who in regards to intelligence briefings (saying that he doesn’t need them daily because he is “smart”):

“I think the President-elect may say one thing and do another once he’s here [in the White House]…Because the truth of the matter is, it’s a big, complicated world.”

He stated that, while one can be pretty intelligent, they would still need top-quality information to make the best decisions possible.

Unfortunately, the President’s words here are likely to fall on deaf ears.  We are, after all, talking about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, an incurious man with incredibly unearned arrogance in his abilities and no desire to learn at all, something born right out of his track record.


Exxon and Russia for Secretary of State!

It’s official now:  President-elect He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State.  Never mind here, we have yet another example of the incoming president filling up the swamp (as opposed to draining it, as he promised during his campaign), but then we have someone in Tillerson with close ties to our adversary, Russia, someone who cut deals with the country and was bestowed the “Order of Friendship” by President Vladimir Putin himself.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is sure to give our Senators on Capitol Hill plenty of fodder during confirmation time.  Unlike many of the other picks, since this has to do with Russia, this particular one might be extra problematic for President-elect You-Know-Who, given the bipartisan worry that it has stoked.

This Guy Might Be Your New CIA Director…

Our new President-Elect, You-Know-Who, has already made some serious waves over the weekend in terms of cabinet picks, choosing RNC head Reince Preibus for Chief-of-Staff and, more controversially, Steve Bannon (formerly from Breitbart) as Chief Strategist.  I say more controversially here being that, to say the least, he is seen as a prominent figure in the modern white nationalist movement.

Now, with more news coming out about further picks for cabinet positions, the hits keep on coming:

Donald Trump may select Jose Rodriguez, one of the primary architects of the George W. Bush torture program, to run the Central Intelligence Agency, according to a law firm with close ties to Trump.

“Rodriguez, the former director of the National Clandestine Service, helped developed the CIA black sites, secret prisons operated in foreign countries where interrogators used a range of torture tactics, including the use of “waterboarding,” the simulated drowning technique once used by the Khmer Rouge and Nazi agents to glean information from detainees.

At least 136 individuals were detained and tortured by the CIA. Interrogation tactics also included forced nudity, sleep deprivation while being vertically shackled, and confinement in a small box.”

President-elect He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did give the country a warning during the campaign process of the direction he was leaning in, talking about how he wanted to bring back torture, how he wanted to torture “even if it didn’t work,” and how he would do far worse than waterboarding.  Now, it seems, he’s ready to put in place a partner in the CIA who would be a-okay with that agenda.

Thanks, America!

American Democracy in Peril.

Let us establish first of all here that, at this point, it is unlikely that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will win on November 8th.  Between the current polling and all of the scandals, the Donald is on a sinking ship that’s going down in a raging ball of fire.  Nothing can seem to save him now.

Now, let’s imagine for a second if Mr. Trump were to, by some act of God, win the presidency in November.  Then say, from the moment that he takes office in January, he goes about enacting the plans that he announced throughout his campaign, such as banning Muslim immigration to the United States, engaging in torture for the sake of torture, and going after the families of terrorists, among other things.  Will the American system be able to handle such blatant authoritarian actions?  Will it be able to reel back in a madman with little to no regard for the Constitution?

Yascha Mounk of Politico doesn’t have much confidence that it can handle a danger like Mr. Trump.  In this piece, “Yes, American Democracy Could Break Down,” the author argues that there is some chance that our American democratic system can ultimately fall apart when put to the test.  There are three reasons for this, according to Mounk:  1- the unprecedented nature of a person like Mr. Trump getting so close to winning the White House, let alone taking up residence there; 2- the fact that there are relatively few resources provided by the constitution to stop an authoritarian president; and 3- stopping tyranny in the United States would ultimately be contingent on public opinion.  If public opinion were to side with the authoritarian, not much can be done to stop that person’s agenda.

Luckily, for now our nation won’t have to put this to the test.  The Donald will most likely not be president.  But this is important, theoretical food for thought, as someone with similar authoritarian tendencies in a better package can come along next time and prove to be an even bigger threat.