Trump is an ongoing threat to our national security, so we’re going to take a couple of weeks off

Shocking: Trump has now been impeached by an impartial group of politicians who said, back before he took office, that they would impeach him.

Disturbing: Trump is “an ongoing threat to national security” (Nancy Pelosi, opening the “debate”; is the threat so bad that Pelosi will start converting some of the family’s real estate assets into gold?)

Confusing: The people who impeached Trump because of the “threat to national security” are now packing up for a well-deserved Christmas vacation. Trump, Kim Jong-un, and other nuclear-armed maniacs, should be fine for a couple of weeks without any supervision or advice.

Separately, who has read the 658-page report from the House Judiciary Committee that explains what Trump actually did? Are the crimes so complex that 658 pages of explanation are required? That’s only a little shorter than Anna Karenina. A typical indictment of a Nazi war criminal for the Nuremberg Trials seems to have been roughly 15 pages (examples).

[I forgot to plug in my phone for a quick drive home from a restaurant this evening and therefore wasn’t listening to these geology lectures. Flipping stations, I found out about this from the local NPR station. Massachusetts has nine Representatives in Congress. Which one’s speech did the station choose to broadcast? That of Ayanna Pressley, the only Massachusetts-based member of “The Squad”.]

Given that the votes seem to be entirely along party lines and the Senate does not contain enough Democrats to remove El Presidente, is there any reason to read about this?

Who else thinks it strange that politicians can use the language of crisis and then take a couple of weeks off?

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White men correctly perceive American Jews as their enemies?

The Jew-hater-in-Chief is back in the news for his purported Jew-hatred:

The existence of white men who express hostility to American Jews is cited as proof that Trump is responsible for this hostility (and all of this is additional evidence for Trump’s proven stupidity, since only the dumbest of Jew-haters would choose to live in Manhattan and Palm Beach; Wikipedia: “The population of Palm Beach County is 20% Jewish, which makes it by far the most Jewish county in the United States. ‘To find a more densely populated Jewish community, you’d have to go to Israel,’ says Richard Jacobs, vice president of community planning for the Boca-based Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.”; NYC has the largest Jewish community outside of Israel).

But what if a white guy’s perception that American Jews are his enemies is accurate?

Suppose that a low-to-medium skill white man wants to earn money via working. This article by a Harvard economist says “The total wealth redistribution [due to low-skill immigration] from the native losers to the native winners is enormous, roughly a half-trillion dollars a year.” What political party promotes the low-skill immigration that will take money away from this white man via lower wages and higher rent and give it to rich Americans (they enjoy paying lower wages for their service workers and receiving higher rents for the apartment buildings that they own)? The Democrats. Although only 71 percent of Jews voted for Hillary Clinton (Wikipedia), groups that claim to be “Jewish” constantly remind Americans that adherence to the modern version of the Jewish faith compels them to vote for Democrats, support immigration, etc. (example: “The Jewish Case for Open Borders”, which notes “Jews have been especially active in this mobilization, driven by their social liberalism, their sense of religious duty, or both. Synagogue networks sprang up to offer aid to refugees, while groups like Jews United for Justice and Jewish Voice for Peace have been a visible presence at protest rallies.” (it would be interesting to run an experiment in which physicians and lawyers from around the globe show up and are immediately eligible to practice medicine/law in NYC, Los Angeles, DC, and Miami, then see whether “religious duty” compels Jews to support open borders!)).

An Orthodox friend expressed fears several years ago that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (now “HIAS“) would lead to anti-Jewish sentiment in the U.S. The group started out by taking voluntary donations to help Jews settle in the U.S. Today they take taxpayer dollars (partly collected from low-to-medium-skill white men) to help “refugees” take up residence in corners of the U.S. that are far from the organization’s suburban Washington, D.C. and Manhattan offices. The organization also lobbies to demand that the government admit more refugees (which would translate into more revenue for HIAS). My friend pointed out that these refugees compete with natives for jobs and housing and that one day either a refugee or a child of a refugee brought in by HIAS might participate in a domestic jihad (see Omar Mateen, child of Aghan immigrants, Syed Rizwan Farook, child of Pakistani immigrants, and our local asylum winner: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev).

In October 2018, a 46-year-old white guy killed 11 mostly elderly Jews in Pittsburgh after their synagogue promoted its support for HIAS. The organization’s web site shows numerous recent articles doubling down on the idea that bringing more migrants to the U.S. is a specifically Jewish mission, e.g., “Jewish Groups Rally to #CloseTheCamps” (“Jewish groups across the country marked Tisha b’Av, the traditional Jewish day of mourning, on August 10-11 with vigils and protests to demand an end to the mistreatment of immigrants and refugees.”), “More Than 1500 Jewish Clergy Sign Petition to Protect Asylum” (“‘This country is a nation of immigrants, our story is one of immigration and travel from one place to another,’ said Rabbi Elyse Wechterman” (#SoBrave, but how many Hondurans are qualified to take her job?)), and “The Pittsburgh Attack: One Year Later” (“We cannot disentangle white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-immigration sentiment because they are all bound together by hate” — but what if it was HIAS itself that bound together anti-Semitism and anti-immigration sentiment?).

Suppose that a white man is in between jobs. What political party advocates the continued legality of discrimination in employment such that he will be hired only if no acceptable applicants identifying as “women” or non-white are available? Again, the Democrats and again, publicly supported by people who call themselves “Jews.” (See also, the Anti-Defamation League supporting race-based college admissions; the 2018 “Reform Jewish Movement Condemns Decision to Roll Back Federal Affirmative Action Guidance”; a 2017 article noting that “Most mainstream Jewish organizations still support affirmative action.”)

American Jews are more likely than non-Jews to benefit from a larger government. Jews are over-represented in medicine by 7X (source, a bit misleading since I don’t think this is adjusted for the fact that median age among Jews is older than the U.S. median and an older person is more likely to have completed medical school). For anyone working in health care, the river of government cash that started flowing in the 1960s (Medicare and Medicaid) has been wonderful. Jews have more years of education than the average American (Pew) and therefore are more likely to get jobs at universities, which have been supported by federal student loan subsidies (and soon, loan forgiveness in Queen Elizabeth Warren’s jubilee year!), tuition grants, and research grants. Jews living in larger cities (that may be 97 percent of us) have benefited from the fact that a big government builds most of its lavish facilities in big cities. I don’t want to take the risk of being lumped in with the Jew-haters by implying that there are Jews who work in finance, but if there are indeed any Jews in this sector of the economy they’ve been advantaged by government policies favoring Wall Street. Jews tend to hold the credentials that qualify them for unionized government work, e.g., school teacher, social worker, etc. So they benefit when government payrolls are fattened and expanded.

Jewish Democrats will tell you that they’re voting for a bigger government not in order to line their own pockets, but because of their commitment to social justice, which they say may be inspired by their Jewish faith and identity. But what stops a white man who can’t access these rivers of government cash from resenting these Jews and disbelieving their claims of altruism? (When queried, my coastal-dwelling Jewish friends simply dismiss the possibility that there is anyone who could have voted against the Democrats for reasons of rational self-interest; in their view, Trump voters, for example, are stupid and short-sighted, and fail to realize that they are stupidly voting against their own self-interest, e.g., because Planet Earth will be destroyed by climate change without the Democrats in charge of the federal government.)

Hypothetical: Suppose that the coastal elites forgot to take away the right of the non-elite non-welfare-collecting Americans to vote. And then a candidate who promised to advocate for the interests of those who weren’t poor enough to collect welfare and weren’t credentialed enough to get on the government payroll actually became President of the United States? Then a bunch of Jews simultaneously showed up to Congress to try to get rid of this person? Would a non-elite white guy then be irrational to perceive Jews as his enemies?

Reality: “Three of the impeachment witness lawyers were Jewish, and it matters”:

And while the officials who appeared before Schiff’s committee were fact witnesses who described the events surrounding the Ukraine scandal, Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., brought three witnesses — all constitutional scholars — that he hoped would outline a theory of impeachment.

All three witnesses are Jewish: Noah Feldman of Harvard, Pamela Karlan of Stanford and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina. So are Schiff and Nadler, and so was the Democrats’ counsel who directed the first 45 minutes of questioning, Norm Eisen.

I.e., if you were a Trump voter watching the above on TV and someone called from the kitchen to ask what was going on, you would be literally correct in saying that “a bunch of Jews are trying to undo my vote”. Of course, it wouldn’t be correct to say that “all Jews are trying to undo my vote,” but that’s a logical correction, not an emotional one.

Maybe the majority of American Jews do wish to continue their efforts to harm the interests and undo the votes of roughly 25 percent of Americans (i.e., the white men who voted for Trump). But is it then reasonable to cry “anti-Semitism” if the non-elite white men object to being harmed and disenfranchised?

Readers: What do you think? Given the increased power of government, the dramatic effect of government policies, and the tendency of American Jews to support a particular party/platform, is it possible that the irrational anti-Jewish sentiment of the 19th century has been replaced by rational anti-Jewish sentiment, motivated by anger at the reported actions of Americans who identify as Jews (and are willing to go to any length, short of practicing Judaism, to maintain that identity!).

Separately, could the relationship between Jews and those who currently experience anti-Jewish feelings be repaired? I think so. After 56 years and 50 states (see Travels with Samantha for some of these conversations), I can’t remember meeting anyone in the U.S. who hated Jews as individuals, even those who expressed negative views about the actions of Jews in politics, Jews in media, and/or Jews in finance. Suppose, for example, that in response to any question on low-skill immigration, upper-income degree-holding Jews said “We don’t have any special insight into migration-into-a-cradle-to-grave-welfare-state issues as a consequence of our Jewish heritage and therefore we should let the low-wage native workers who will bear the cost decide policy.” Suppose that Jews quietly voted their self-interest by voting for bigger government, but didn’t use Jewish-owned media (NYT!) to broadcast “anyone who disagrees that the government needs to be bigger is a moron and/or immoral.” Suppose that Jews who are passionate about social justice used their own money to fund private efforts to accomplish social justice goals, e.g., building homes for the homeless, rather than using the political process to try to force people who don’t agree that these goals are appropriate targets of government efforts to pay higher taxes. Given that lobbying the government is the most lucrative investment an American can make (Heritage Foundation), it is a big ask to request that Jews with political connections do something other than politics, but maybe they could try to avoid all showing up at the same time to the same hearing as they did recently?


  • this Showtime clip (“Look at that fine-looking Jew” (towards end))
  • “Donald Trump Is Bad for the Jews” (Paul Krugman): “this particular anti-Semitic cliché — that Jews are greedy, and that their political behavior is especially driven by their financial interests — is empirically dead wrong.” The brilliant economist notes that some high-income Jews vote for Democrats, which he credits as altruistic due to the potential for higher tax rates, but never considers that these Jews may derive their income from government spending programs and/or regulatory regimes that Democrats promise to maintain and expand. A physician earning $300,000/year from Medicare and Obamacare may have different interests than the owner of an aircraft repair business who earns the same $300,000/year (see also “Paul Krugman: The Economic Fallout” from 2016: “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”).
  • “The epidemic of bomb threats against
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China proves that one-party rule makes people happier?

I met a lot of people in China who were unhappy with some of the Chinese government’s policies, notably the Great Firewall and control of the media (the stuff that is used to whip up Westerners’ outrage was not foremost in their minds; nobody mentioned the Uyghurs and when I asked the response was that the potential for domestic jihad required some tough policies, the Hong Kong situation was regrettable, but not obviously the government’s fault).

The level of personal bitterness regarding politics was much lower than in the U.S. To the extent that anyone was blamed, it was a handful of leaders at the top of the Communist Party, not fellow citizens. (The Party has roughly 90 million members, or 6 percent of the population, but this includes people with ordinary jobs as farmers, for example.)

Contrast to the U.S. Even in a one-party state, such as California, there is bitterness and hatred. Bay Area Californians, for example, blame the Republican remnant down in Orange County for preventing them from implementing their Socialist dream (somehow a Republican in Orange County is stopping San Francisco from taxing residents to pay for housing for the homeless, universal health care for San Francisco residents, and the rest of the dream? why can’t folks in the Bay Area give up their Teslas and foreign vacations and move the tent people into apartments?).

On a nationwide scale, given the roughly even split among voters, we are virtually guaranteed to have 50 percent of Americans blaming the other 50 percent for voting for whichever party is currently in power (see for example). This does not happen in China. One business executive said “I explain our politics to friends from Texas by saying ‘imagine that the mafia took over control of Dallas.'” Certainly he seems to have little affection for the Party (referring to them as a “mafia”), but he recognizes that there is nothing he can do to change it and that none of his neighbors are to blame for the Party’s control of China. So he concentrates on his business, his family, and his friends, enjoying what he says is a superior lifestyle to what he had in New York City (elite U.S. MBA and job at a top Wall Street bank). He says that there is more practical freedom of speech in China compared to the U.S.: “In China, the Party is clear about what they don’t want you to disagree with publicly,” he noted. “but in the U.S. the boundaries of acceptable speech change from week to week.”

How about freedom of the press? That’s an unqualified good, right? We love the First Amendment, I hope (though we don’t want “hate speech” or anything that makes us and our allies feel unsafe). Consider the New York Times. They run article after article intended to make the majority of Americans resentful of our richest neighbors. These include statistics on inequality that are cooked by valuing the services that a poor American receives at $0. So a person who is guaranteed the lifetime (and often multi-generational) right to live in a $1 million market-value unit in the center of a gleaming city, guaranteed a $30,000/year market-rate family health insurance policy, guaranteed a lifetime of free food and free smarthphone service, etc. is considered to be poorer than the poorest resident of Malawi.

Even if the data were not cooked to the point of absurdity, an article about inequality in the broad economy has no value to more than 95 percent of Americans. Unless they live in a swing state, their vote does not count and they have no influence on national politics. The English-language media in China contains a lot of puff pieces on the good works done by the Chinese government, e.g., flatland Chinese troops who are stationed in Tibet rescuing injured tourists, but the propaganda angle is clear and the reader can ignore it all if desired. Consider how much time Americans spend obsessively tracking the Mueller report (see my recent bookstore photos from Denver), the quest for Trump’s tax returns, the impeachment process soon to be entering its fourth year, etc. Except for those who are in Congress, wouldn’t they have been better off using that time for dinner with friends, reading a book, or learning new skill? Here’s a selection of English news offered at my hotels:

(Note that government control of traditional media has, according to locals, no effect on their practical access to information. “We can learn anything we want about Hong Kong on social media,” said a 24-year-old.)

Maybe the system of government as conceived by our Founding Fathers was a good one (especially since it came with the ability to steal the rest of North America from the Native Americans, which the British had prohibited), but stretched from 3 million to 330 million and combined with a reader-hungry media it results in unhappiness? Or maybe democracy itself is inherently a system in which neighbor will end up hating neighbor (or spouse)? Every government policy results in winners and losers (even building a bridge will harm the livelihood of people who previously operated ferries) and therefore every government policy has voters on both sides. Folks who are harmed by a government policy will therefore inevitably come to hate a majority of their fellow citizens on that issue (since presumably it wouldn’t be a policy if a majority of voters did not support it)? The mutual hatred level gets amped up considerably when people take the position that their vote on an issue is due to their passion for “justice” (a universal) rather than simply self interest (potentially personal).

Not being a Mandarin speaker, it is a bit tough to say whether people are actually happier in China than in the U.S. overall. Out and about, the Chinese actually did seem more content, consistent with the Gallup Global Emotions survey. 87% of Chinese experienced “enjoyment” versus 82% of Americans, an achievement given that the GDP per capita is lower in China; “worry” was at 29% in China and 45% in the U.S. (imagine how worrying it is for a Californian or New Yorker to think about what crimes Trump might commit next!), “anger” and “sadness” were substantially lower in China as well. Despite consuming more opioids than the rest of the world combined, Americans experienced more “pain” than people in China! Maybe we all need higher doses of fentanyl?

Family life in China seems happier. Maybe it is the one-child convention (no longer a law), but it was common to see married couples out with their cherished offspring as a unit of 3. In the U.S., by contrast, Parent A might be with Child 1 at Activity X while Parent B is with Child 2 at Activity Y. (Or the child might have only one parent, incentivized with welfare and/or child support cash, unlike in China where being a “single parent” from the start is simply illegal.)

A 1996 photo series, Standard Family, by Wang Jinsong. From the (awesome) Power Station of Art.

Readers: What aspect of American political and press freedom actually contributes to the happiness of Americans?


  • trust in fellow citizens in China versus the U.S. (63 percent versus 38 percent who say “most people can be trusted”; China is at about the same level as Sweden (certainly Shanghai taxi drivers are a lot more trustworthy than their old-school New York counterparts!))
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Biden admits that Donald Trump has been tremendously successful in business

Thanks to my comments scolding Facebook posters on their failure to fully embrace socialism, LBTQIA+ rainbow flagism, etc., I am on Joe Biden’s email list. From November 16, 2019:

Subject: I never got a million dollar loan from my dad

My father taught me that a job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok.

Unlike Donald Trump, my father never loaned me millions. Everything I’ve gotten in my life I’ve worked for — and that’s the reality for most Americans.

For Donald Trump, his life was handed to him on a silver platter and he has never had the slightest inclination to pay it forward.

I’m going to lay out the case on Wednesday night at the debate why I’m the best candidate to take on and defeat Donald Trump next November. But I still need to raise another $500,000 from grassroots supporters before I take the stage in order to stay on track with our fundraising. Can you chip in $5 today to help me out today?

Since Donald Trump is now a multi-billionaire with a personal Boeing 757 in executive configuration, saying that he started with only $1 million (subject) or “millions” (body) is tantamount to admitting that the hated dictator (and almost lifelong Democrat!) has been tremendously successful in business, as measured by ROI. Does Biden not realize this or does he assume that readers of his email are not smart enough to recognize that turning $1 million into multiple billions is an unusual outcome?

[Also note the outdated description of a job from this outdated politician: “It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say everything is going to be ok.” The welfare parent with the lifetime right to occupy public housing can do that. The employee-at-will holder of a non-government job can’t promise a child anything about the family’s future.]

What did I miss while I was in China? Are the geriatrics still leading among the Democrats? Or is Mayor Pete emerging as I predicted?

(Another politician with whom my Facebook postings apparently align is Tom Steyer. As with other Californians, I can’t figure out why he bothers with national politics. If there are services, such as housing for people currently living in tents, that he thinks government should provide, why doesn’t he organize it at the state or local level where Republicans can’t obstruct progress? Has anyone just straight up asked him why he doesn’t bring his religion to 40 million fellow Californians before trying to proselytize the entire nation?)

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Trump impeachment status?

Although the New York Times and CNN bravely spoke truth to power in China by covering the Trump impeachment intensively (not leaving any space in their respective China editions for coverage of unrest in Hong Kong, for example), the stories that they ran assumed that the reader already knew the crimes of which the hated dictator was guilty.

Now that I’m back from China…. what is the status of the Trump impeachment? (now in its fourth year as measured by the time that my Facebook friends first began discussing the process as it applied to Donald Trump)

For voters whose interests Trump represents (i.e., the people who actually did vote for him), has anything been uncovered in this process that would give them a reason to prefer a Democrat as President?

[Separately, some business people in China told me that they thought Trump was pursuing the correct (for Americans) trade policy on China: “The tariffs were long overdue and China had it coming,” one said. They shared the perspective of the European multinational business executives we met on our Northwest Passage cruise, i.e., that China had been maintaining unfair trade barriers and policies for decades.]

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Coastal elite hatred of Trump voters explained…

… by a member of the coastal elite.

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., we had lunch with a highly educated highly paid person who expressed hatred of Donald Trump and the kind of people who would vote for him. She has a law degree and works for a government agency managing a team of attorneys who process “civil rights complaints” against the agency. What constitutes a civil rights complaint? “It is almost always an employee suing the agency for race, sex, or some other kind of discrimination,” she explained. “I don’t do any of the litigation myself, but only manage the attorneys who do. It isn’t fulfilling or meaningful, but it lets me attend all of my kids’ school events.”

One thing that she hated about Trump was his withdrawal from the Paris agreement (the same Wikipedia article notes that none of the big countries that have agreed to the agreement have actually delivered on their pledges). She described her own practice of trying to reuse plastic wrap and belief that if everyone did that it would result in a significant reduction in fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions. (She lives in the suburbs and drives everywhere in a private gasoline-powered vehicle, consistent with “study finds climate change skeptics are more likely to behave in eco-friendly ways than those who are highly concerned about the issue”.)

She was yet more passionate on the subject of immigration. Trump was obstructing her ability to hire immigrants, e.g., to maintain her suburban yard. “They’re doing jobs that Americans won’t do,” she pointed out.

Her lobbyist husband had dangerous libertarian tendencies that she had tolerated thus far. However, she believed that he would vote for Donald Trump if Elizabeth Warren were to be nominated by the Democrats. “I would have to divorce him,” she noted seriously and without mentioning that the well-being of her two young children was being factored into her decision.

(As the lower earning spouse, she would likely come out as the winner of the winner-take-all contest set up by Maryland family law, so divorce for her would mean little change in spending power and she’d have significant blocks of time completely free for Tindering among the righteous while the Warren-resisting father cared for the children.)

I tried to gently point out that a lot of the people who voted for Democrats happened to be those who benefited from a larger government. Thus, they might be said to be voting their pocketbook just as they accused Trump voters of doing. She replied that, when voting, she thought only of her children and the future of the planet rather than herself.

After the lunch party broke up, a fellow attendee (also a senior government worker and a voter for Democrats) and I discussed this woman’s perspective. We agreed that she simply did not like having to share the U.S. with the kind of fellow citizen who would vote for Donald Trump. Her beef was not actually with Trump, whom she agreed is merely doing what he promised to do, but rather with her fellow citizens who were and are Trump supporters.

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Donald Trump is making a huge financial sacrifice by serving as president?

In my review of the Trump Hotel, D.C.:

Given that the intensity of Trump hatred among Democrats is much stronger than the intensity of Trump love among Republicans, I wonder if the narrative that Trump hotels are getting a boost in business from his presidency is false. Maybe there are some folks who think it is fun to be a Trump customer and perhaps there are some foreigners who think that Trump will do their bidding if they are regular guests. But these have to be outweighed by those who want to demonstrate their virtue by never setting foot in a Trump-named enterprise again.

The same journalists who previously attacked Trump for getting rich off the Presidency are now gleefully reporting that his hotels are suffering losses are a result of his political prominence, e.g., “Trump Tower Chicago Hotel is Losing Money Hand Over Fist” (Vanity Fair):

In addition to the Chicago property, business at Trump Doral in Miami is also reportedly in “steep decline,” which a tax consultant hired by the Trump Organization attributed to the “negative connotation…associated with the brand.” The company has also lost contracts with hotels in Manhattan and Toronto. And in a sign that even people inside the family business know the name is dragging down profits, virtually every mention of “Trump” has been stripped from two Central Park ice rinks. Earlier this year, the Trump Organization, which declined to comment on its financial woes, attempted to blame the money situation in the Windy City on “the perceived threat of gun violence,” despite the fact that no other competitors have suffered a similar decline. “Among the hotel community in Chicago, everyone is aware of the relative underperformance of the Trump hotel over the last two to three years,” analyst Michael Bellisario told the Post at the time.

Will it turn out that the Trump family was actually the most altruistic ever to go into American politics?

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Californians paralyzed by Trump hatred

“Can You Still #Resist When Your State’s on Fire?” (nytimes) is an interesting window into the thinking of the West Coast Righteous:

There’s something about the situation here this season that seems like a stage set for the current political moment: fires raging, a giant company, PG&E, responsible for so much of the death and destruction; the incredible salaries and compensation of that company’s executives, the huge shareholder dividends; the company’s decision to create giant blackouts for millions of people, presumably while it fixes the negligence that caused the problem in the first place. And all this, with 59,000 people living homeless in Los Angeles. This is the apocalyptic backdrop against which, it seems to many of us here, President Trump is trying to destroy the planet in so many ways. Of course, the builders of this set predate the Trump administration, but the script playing out on the set — the underlying themes and angles and shots — fits well with his direction.

One way to make sure the homeless don’t end up starting fires might be to house them, which Los Angeles has not figured out how to do.

Meanwhile, all my neighbors are in the “resistance” against Mr. Trump and his policies.

Or putting together events in their backyards to fund-raise for various Democratic candidates and for important causes like reproductive rights, climate change initiatives, homeless housing and criminal justice reforms.

All of the problems mentioned by the author are ones that can be addressed without interacting with the federal government and the hated Trumpenfuhrer. California can build apartments for those currently homeless, run new power lines, pay people $10,000 for each abortion that they want to have (“reproductive rights”; note that selling an abortion privately in California can be substantially more lucrative), and open its prisons (“criminal justice reforms”).

[Note that California state prisons hold roughly half as many prisons as the federal government holds nationwide. These 115,000 victims of an unreformed criminal justice system are guarded by folks who earn more than Harvard graduates at a cost that exceeds tuition, room, and board at Harvard.]

Yet instead of getting together to create state programs to solve all of the problems that they say they’re concerned about (voting to tax themselves as necessary to pay for the new programs), Californians invest their time and energy complaining about a guy who is 3,000 miles away.

Tom Steyer, the billionaire running for the Democratic presidential nomination currently, is a good example of this way of thinking. He’s pledged to give half of his money to charity (i.e., he’s pledged not to pay state or federal tax on half of the money he has earned). Why wouldn’t he instead build some apartment buildings in California and give away half the units to those currently homeless?


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Protests against Trump are really protests against non-elite voters?

“1, 2, 3, 4, Trump Can’t Rule Us Anymore: With impeachment looming, it’s time to take to the streets again.” (NYT, October 21, 2019):

All over the world right now, outraged citizens are taking to the streets. Mass protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months, at one point drawing about a quarter of the territory’s population.

So as Donald Trump’s sneering lawlessness and stupefying corruption continue to escalate, it’s confounding, at least to me, that Americans aren’t taking to the streets en masse.

“Want Trump to Go? Take to the Streets: Another moment for public protest has arrived.” (NYT, a day earlier), by David Leonhardt, “a former Washington bureau chief for the Times”:

Fortunately, some progressives understood that politics isn’t only an inside game. The outside game — of public protest and grass-roots lobbying — matters, too. … On the day after Trump’s inauguration, some four million Americans took to the streets for Women’s Marches …

Do you remember the images showing throngs of people taking to the streets for the Women’s March? The size of the crowds, especially compared with Trump’s inauguration, reinforced the fact that most Americans rejected Trumpism.

The comments to these articles are packed with complaints that 48 percent of Americans elected the object of the proposed protests and sometimes express contempt for these 48 percent, e.g., as believing Christians, racists, etc.

Since the people who voted for Trump still support him, isn’t the proposed protest best understood as by coastal elites against the non-elites whose right to vote they forgot to take away? (and the protest is against the non-elites being able to vote in what they perceive to be their own interests)

Why use Trump as a scapegoat? If people who live in New York City feel oppressed by those who live and vote in Georgia, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc., shouldn’t they be able to name their true oppressors and protest against them? Maybe demand that voting be restricted to those with a liberal arts degree! Why should people without college-level training in the humanities be choosing a government?


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U.S. southern border versus Syrian northern border

Facebook is alive with outrage regarding Donald Trump’s scaling back of our military involvement what will soon be the 9th year of the Syrian Civil War.

The same people who demanded the abolition of ICE and the pulling back of armed U.S. forces patrolling the U.S. southern border are demanding that armed U.S. forces patrol the Syrian northern border. The people who advocate for a wave of migration from Central America into the U.S. are opposed to a wave of re-migration of Syrians currently in Turkey back across the northern border into their original home (map from the BBC, which says “Turkey launched the offensive in northern Syria a week ago to push back from its border members of a Syrian Kurdish militia called the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and create a ‘safe zone’ along the Syrian side of the border, where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled.”

Readers: Is Trump wrong? Should we spend the next 10-20 years patrolling the Syrian border and trying to keep our NATO ally Turkey (population 80 million) from doing what it deems prudent in its immediate neighborhood?

[If Elizabeth Warren prevails in 2020, will she solve both of these problems by relocating U.S. Border Patrol forces over to northern Syria?]

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