Stuck in the Snow (2017Feb27)


Monday, February 27, 2017                                             11:29 AM

I’m tired of discussing it. I’ve been in meetings with people I respected, people who knew what they were talking about—and still, at some point you reach a time when you just get tired. How much more tiring it is to have an argument (I won’t dignify them as ‘discussions’) with someone who is speaking from an emotional, partisan obstinacy.

They trot out their syllogisms, their zingers, their disdain for other points-of-view, their outrage, hurt pride, and puffed chests—the tools of those for whom reason holds no fascination—just a lurking fear that calm, sensible thought will prove them wrong, and a blindness to their emotional attachment to maintaining the wrong, if that’s the case.

It reminds me of a story. I was hitchhiking on I-684 in a snowstorm, coming back north from a visit to a friend in White Plains. Four guys in a real boat of a seventies car picked me up. Their friendliness was greater than their care for their automobile, for the windshield-wipers weren’t working and the driver was trying to reach out his window and wipe the snow from the windshield as he drove.

Traffic moves right along on 684—we must have been doing sixty when the driver’s attention to the windshield caused him to stop paying attention to the road and he went onto the shoulder. The shoulder had deeper snow, and so pulled the car further off the road—the steering wheel, at this point in the snowstorm, had become more a suggestion than an instruction.

Soon we were basically sleigh-riding the car through a field full of saplings by the side of the highway—shearing their tops off as the car’s inertia plowed us unerringly towards some older trees—trees with trunks that would put a quick stop to even the largest vehicle. The car, luckily, slowed to a stop just a few feet in front of one such tree. We all breathed a sigh of relief that we hadn’t met the tree, and piled out to try to push the car back from the tree and towards the road again.

The car wouldn’t budge. We pushed and pushed and nothing happened. I got down on the ground and looked under the car. I could see that we had sheared off a healthy sapling’s trunk and the base of the young tree was not only jammed up into the carriage, but bent towards the larger tree we had just avoided smashing into. Five men with slippery shoes in the snow would have had a tough time moving the car had it been free to roll. But this was five men trying to push a car hard enough to uproot a small tree—while pushing a car.

I tried to explain the physics to my kind travelers—but I couldn’t express myself clearly enough to make them understand that we would have to literally lift the car off the ground to extract it from the spot it was in—I couldn’t even get them to look under the car, as I had. They wanted me to continue helping them try to push the car.

At the time, I felt more stuck by my inability to get through to my new friends than by the car being physically, inextricably stuck where it was. I’m not an alpha-male—I’m not the assertive sort—when I say things, I don’t shout or insist—I just say them. It never fails to surprise me that no one ever listens—it’s not like I’m wrong all the time—and you’d think people would notice that, right? But, no—no one ever says, “Hey, we better listen to Chris—he’s usually right.” I only got noticed when I made a mistake. In that way, I’ve always identified with Hillary Clinton—the smartest person in whatever room she’s in, but the last person anyone wants to hear from—and just let her make one little slip….


Of course this was all long ago, back when I had a pretty sharp mind—I’m wrong all the time these days—I live in a fog. Yet, I still see some things that seem obvious, even in my fog, that I simply can’t believe others don’t see clearly. I still get exhausted trying to argue with people who don’t think about what they’re saying, just saying whatever seems like a ‘good argument’ or a clever rebuttal—and fuck the big picture.

And I’ve found that most people are not at all stupid—even the Trump supporters are not as stupid as one would expect a Trump-supporter would have to be to support Trump. They don’t lack intelligence. They lack respect. They don’t respect reason—because they’re afraid of it—maybe having a hard time in school taught them that logic is not their friend—I don’t know. They don’t respect themselves—and that pushes them to reject any show of respect for people that know what they’re talking about—or even for the subject under discussion. Most Trump-support boils down to self-loathing, turned outwards towards the rest of the world. They’re basically saying, “I’m gonna make an ass of myself—and you can’t stop me, because I voted for the king of the ignoramuses—and idiocy is in charge now.

The Russians support Trump. Bannon is a confessed anarchist who wants to destroy the government. Conway got so used to lying she tried to give it a name: ‘alternative facts’. At least ten of Trump’s hires since inauguration have been expelled due to unfitness. And Trump has claimed that a free press is the enemy of the people—if I was crook and a liar, I’d say the same thing. The Republicans—jeez, these scumbags—whenever one of them opens their mouths, I want to shoot’em for treason. How do these trolls get elected—are their constituents in a coma? What? I just don’t get it—and boy, am I tired of pushing this car.


Losing The Argument (2016Dec10)


Saturday, December 10, 2016                                           9:56 PM

Have you ever argued with someone who is wrong? Have you noticed that they are just as sure of being right as you are, even though they are wrong? And here’s the funniest thing of all—when we realize that we’ve been arguing for the wrong side, when we suddenly see the other side of the argument as correct—oh, what a symphony of confusion, embarrassment, and frustration we go through, how we choke on the gall of it. Some people get so upset that they just stalk off, pissed. I always make a point of swallowing that mistake and facing up to being the idiot that lost the argument.

We all are the idiot, eventually, at one time or another. There’s little use in pretending we are the one person who’s always right—that person doesn’t exist. And I firmly believe the most important part of an argument is not letting the argument itself become the point of conflict. In truth, when I lose an argument to someone, I eventually come to accept that I have learned something I didn’t know. I may never have the grace to be grateful for that, but I concede to myself that I should be.

Don’t get me wrong—I love to win an argument. But my motives are based on my belief that I’m thinking clearly about a problem, avoiding the temptation to ‘bend’ things in favor of my personal preferences—or my desire to be the ‘winner’ of the argument. I force myself to concede the other’s point, when a point is valid—sportsmanship is as important in argument as it is in sports—perhaps more so.

When arguing, it is good to cite reliable sources for one’s information. And that becomes a problem in the modern world—when something like ‘Fox News’ becomes a source for false information, the argument quickly devolves into a sub-argument about the validity of one’s sources. The reverse is also true—when an asshole like Trump tries to invalidate actual sources, such as The New York Times.

Trump is the champion of the dull and the easily-swayed—and he has spawned a whole counter-culture of people who imagine their own truth, outside of the popular, ‘observable’ variety. They believe in argument shorn of either sportsmanship or sources—argument where denying facts need only be shouted louder and longer than the opponent’s words to become ‘fact’, where talking about something else is the answer to uncomfortable, undeniable facts. Kelly Conway has made a career of this kind of argument, if you can call her rantings argument.

I’m sorry, KellyAnne, but if your mind is incapable of conceding anything said by your opponent, you’re not really arguing—you’re cheerleading. That’s all well and good at a ballgame, but it gets rather threadbare and feeble when it comes up against real life. Every time you ‘win’ an argument on TV, you’re making the whole country that much stupider—and for what? Let me tell you—I wasn’t always this way—I had a penchant for willful contrariness myself, once upon a time—but you can only juggle logic for so long before it bites you in the ass. I found that out—and you will too. Time is the great teacher.

Afterword: I nearly forgot my main point—which is this: You can have arguments all day long, but unless someone wins, it’s all a big waste of time. And if you haven’t changed a person’s mind, you haven’t won the argument. Even if you did succeed in making them feel hurt or sad or angry, you’ve still wasted your time. Miracles do happen—a person might change your mind, instead—and even that—even losing the argument (and maybe learning something) is time better spent than simply arguing with no end.

Playing Grown-Up   (2016Oct08)

Saturday, October 08, 2016                                              2:00 PM

What a roller-coaster of emotions. Initially, of course, disgust and mind-boggle-ment. Then an unattractive glee over this ethical implosion (but we were so frightened he might become our president—you really can’t blame us). Then back to disgust—but this time, over the fact that our politics have come to this. Then an overwhelming sense of relief—as in ‘he can’t win now.’ Then a chill of worry—after all, his cult following isn’t going to care—their support has no relation to judgement. Then ‘self-reassurance’, because he can’t win with just his existing base of zealots.

I’m positively dizzy with disorientation. But, as Rachel Maddow says, “You are awake. You are not dreaming. This is really happening.” I’ve long since stopped thinking about Trump at all—it became painfully clear that the problem is in the vast numbers of voters who see him as presidential material. People like Trump (and Trump himself) have always been there—but they’ve never had a shot at the presidency before. People have never been accepting of such a filthy, perverted creep before. Sure, there was Nixon—but he had the presence of mind to hide his lack of character as well as he could, not to revel in it.


But let’s not overlook Julian Assange completely—he has waited for the perfect moment to drop his ‘bomb’ on the Clinton campaign. Well, the Billy Bush video kinda messed up that timing—but even without it, we are hard-pressed to understand how he could have thought Hillary’s speeches to businesses would destroy her. I’ve read what he leaked—it’s all pretty reasonable stuff, assuming your life is not dedicated to despising Hillary Clinton.

We are mature enough to watch Trump’s damning video—surely then, we’re mature enough to grapple with the paradox of democracy. An elected official needs to present themselves so as to be elected—if the right thing to do is unpopular, you only talk about it in private. That’s the crux of what is revealed about Hillary in this latest leak—small potatoes compared to the revelations about Trump’s character (or total absence thereof).


The truth is—I don’t really know enough about international trade agreements to gainsay the people whose job it is to formulate such things. I do know that Europe has seen borderless-ness as a goal for generations—a sign that civilized people can live side by side without armed guards and walls. In examining their history, we may find ourselves embarrassed to be fixated on so bad an idea as a Big Wall. It’s a really stupid idea—and in so many ways.

I’m so desperately hoping this election comes out right—democracy has shat the bed twice, recently—first with Brexit, then again with the Columbians voting ‘No’ to peace with the FARC. It would be nice if the cradle of democracy could score one for the good guys. My nerves have had it.


Catchphrases work well as political tools, but they are worthless as policy. If NAFTA is unfair, we should modify it until it is fair. Killing it is a simple idea—but rather simple-minded, if we remember that there were reasons why NAFTA was created. TPP is neither good or bad, either—it is an agreement, which can be changed if it is unfair. And, our experience with NAFTA will tell us what problems to look out for.

In the same way, the Affordable Care Act was a vital bill—that has been revealed to be flawed. Now, we can throw it in the trash—bumping 20,000,000 people off of health insurance—or we can modify the bill to be fair and economically feasible. Legislation and Trade Agreements are complex works which can be modified when faulty—but in using them as political footballs, we reduce the question to ‘live or die?’ We don’t want to trash these things—we want to tweak them until they work. You don’t fix a computer by taking a hammer to it.


The Republicans are slippery on this—sometimes their objections are that the bill doesn’t work, sometimes their objections are that ‘socialized medicine’ is bad. In the end, they conflate both arguments, and say that we have to repeal Obamacare. Not that we have to fix it. And honestly, everyone knows that the Insurance Lobby blocked the single-payer-option because it makes the industry more competitive—and everyone knew that blocking the single-payer-option would make the bill a nonsensical mish-mash. They don’t want to fix the bill, now, for the same reason they fought the bill’s passing.

Tomorrow night’s debate should be fascinating. I hope Hillary knows that she’s already won—she should take it easy, not for his sake, but just because she’s gracious in victory. Then again—let’em have it—he’s earned it. Making us all look bad—grumble, grumble…..

Sex Matters   (2016Sep29)


Thursday, September 29, 2016                                        3:20 PM

Let’s discuss presidents and sex. I don’t want to go back too far—let’s start with FDR. That great man was confined to a wheelchair and he still managed to have multiple affairs while in office. Truman, a great man as well, was also a good man—no known affairs, though he enjoyed drinking and gambling. Then there was Eisenhower—definitely an affair while SCAEF, but I’m not historian enough to know whether he fooled around in office.

Then we had Kennedy—I think we can put him in the plus column. Then we had LBJ—no affairs that I know of. Same with Nixon—though we’d be hard-pressed to call him a ‘good’ man. Then Ford—another no; then Carter—another no, though he ‘lusted in his heart’. (And what hetero man doesn’t—or gay, come to think of it?) And Carter was followed by Reagan—two wives, but no known affairs.


Then we had Bush-41—a definite no. Bill Clinton was then the fourth modern president with publicly-known, documented affairs—but he was the first to be hounded for it while still in office. Then Bush-43 came along as the matching Puritanical bookend to his father. (If we can call a hard-partier like the young Bush-43 ‘Puritanical’, it is only in the fidelitous sense.) And last but not least, we have our present President—who, like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every particular (and certainly doesn’t have affairs).


So there you have the modern roster—affairs aren’t exactly common among presidents, but then they aren’t exactly uncommon either. And, if we are honest about it, the Presidency is one of the few jobs where such a thing would still impact one’s position. Married men having affairs is no rarity. In today’s society, no one goes to jail or loses their job over infidelity alone—with the exception of politicians and priests. Likewise, in today’s society, Divorce has very little baggage—heck, Trump’s on his third marriage and nobody says boo about it—even with him as presidential candidate for the Conservatives.


Yet as a man with five kids by three wives, he seems to be considering bringing up Hillary’s husband’s infidelity as a black mark against Hillary—he claims he denied himself that ‘weapon’ at the debate because he had scruples about embarrassing Chelsea. Bringing up Chelsea’s name in this context seems like the sensitive way to go, alright. But I still need to have explained to me what Bill’s peccadilloes have to do with his wife running for office?


Is Trump going to criticize her for not abandoning her family when she suffered the embarrassment of Ken Starr dragging this affair out over two years’ worth of prurient headlines? That’s how Trump advised his daughter—saying that if she were sexually harassed at work, she should quit her job and find a new career. Does he believe that Secretary Clinton, as a woman, is also supposed to run away when a man hurts her feelings?


Or is he going to try to blame Bill’s behavior on his wife? A lot of stand-up comics have gone that route, suggesting that, if Hillary had been more sexually inventive, Bill would have never strayed. I can see Trump going that way—it would fit with his apparent theme: ‘no lie too big, no statement too idiotic’. And his advisors clearly have trouble explaining the difference between a presidential campaign and a stand-up routine to the GOP nominee. Wait—scratch that—stand-ups rehearse their acts.


I don’t know how Trump is going to tie Bill Clinton’s notorious hound-dogging to his wife’s character. Still, he blames the last thirty years of federal governing on her alone, without any problem with the logic of saying so. But even Trump supporters are going to have trouble with tarring a wife by her husband’s affairs—at least the women, I presume. The married ones may even resent such an implication—if Trump supporters even hear the words that come out of his mouth in the first place. There is no evidence of that at present.


The world, and especially the media, await this idiot’s next words with baited breath—though for the life of me I can’t understand why. There’s no reason to fear this clown—we fear only the crowd that supports him and will, apparently, vote for him to be President of the United States—and the education system that is so broken that these crowds exist. President Clinton (the faithful one) will have to work on that.


Thirty Years   (2016Sep27)


Tuesday, September 27, 2016                                                    11:27 AM

Of all Trump’s bombastic BS, the ‘thirty years’ attack is the most exasperating. Trying to turn Hillary Clinton’s preparedness into a negative is as convoluted an argument as his claim that an unprepared ‘outsider’ is what this country needs in a leader.

Let’s take a page from Seth Myers and take ‘a closer look’ at this ‘thirty years’ nonsense. Hillary Clinton earned her law degree and was active in public service long before she became the First Lady of Arkansas, never mind First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Beyond that, of all the people who ‘serve at the pleasure of the President’, I think we can place FLOTUS at the head of that list.

In other words, while First Lady, Hillary Clinton tried to help her husband’s work, succeeding in creating (and passing) the Children’s Health Care bill and other notable good works. She met with elected officials from around the country, with foreign dignitaries, and with charitable efforts leaders, learned about the workings of the White House and the challenges of governing—but she did not govern.

After the White House, she won election to a Senate seat from New York—and was an able partner to the senior Senator from her state and worked diligently with both sides of the aisle—but she did not govern—she wasn’t even the minority whip.

Then she became Obama’s Secretary of State. Again, serving at the pleasure of the President—not governing.

So, all this experience is excellent preparation for becoming the President—but never gave her any opportunity to make her own decisions. I won’t deny that those were positions of influence—but influence is not power. Any decisions made by her husband, by Congress, or by Barack Obama, were theirs, not hers. And she couldn’t even publicly talk about any disagreements she might have had with the two presidents she worked beside—people don’t do that.

So the last thirty years of Hillary’s life have been an historically excellent preparation for the job of President—but they haven’t been thirty years of governing, as Trump would have us believe. He is simply trying to turn one of her greatest strengths into a negative.

Well, two can play at that game—Trump, you’ve had seventy years to engage in public service and you have never once bothered to care about other people—what’s makes you think you can convince us that you suddenly do care? Seventy years of self-serving, sometimes fraudulent, piracy have prepared you to do nothing other than lose to a qualified candidate. No amount of bombast can change that.


Questions, anyone?


Exam   (2016Aug30)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016                                                 12:24 PM

A list of key-words, a chart of interconnections, a graph of differences—the idea of Algebra tries to worm its way into life. I used to make myself to-do lists, back when I did things—I’d have Top Priorities (things that needed doing right away), Regular things (a sort of ‘daily chores and maintenance’ list), Non-Work things (commitments I had made to people), Long-Term Projects (often becoming a list of things I never got to), and so on. Late at night, I’d still be scribbling away like John Nash from “A Beautiful Mind”—the list became its own project, keeping me from doing the things on the list.

Analysis can become a rabbit-hole from which there is no escape. Philosophical discussions that devolve into semantics—finding, at the end, that language is more personal than universal—can only be enjoyed so many times before we realize that life is to be lived. There is just as much value to experiential data-gathering as there is to mental wool-gathering, perhaps more—and certainly more stimulation.

Yet ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’—or so philosophers would have us think (no pun intended). So we think about what we’re doing while we do it. Occasionally we’ll find that we need to sit and think, to put down what we’re doing and ponder a question—maybe even draw a diagram or blueprint. My least favorite thing is to realize, in the middle of doing something, that I’m doing it wrong—or, worse yet, that I don’t need to do it.

Life is like a deep wood—we follow the trail without too much care, but where the trail ends, or forks, we have to stop and consider our options. Sometimes we have to trail-blaze where there is no path; sometimes we have to gamble on which fork leads in the best direction. Sometimes we have to micro-manage, such as making camp before the sun goes down; sometimes we have to macro-manage, such as planning where to get provisions over the next month’s travel. All activity involves thought, planning, decision, and judgment—we humans are rarely wholly physical—our actions are the physical complement to our calculations.

Examination, though, is a special case—it has no boundaries. We can examine something forever, if we wish. We can opt not to examine something at all—taking for granted that it is a known quantity or a known object. To walk the ‘tightrope of examination’, to do it well, being aware of the world around us without losing the context of our lives—that’s the trick. Too much or too little are both dangerous ground.

I’ve been speaking, so far, of learned debate—where people try to agree on terms and their usage, where both sides are actively engaged in a search for truth or meaning. Most of our public examinations, unfortunately, are not like that.

When I see a news-show’s panel of commentators about to debate the presidential election, I know I’m in for a heaping helping of snake-oil and tap-dancing. The pretense of fairness and balance becomes a shambles of illogical carping and condemnation—insisting on their opponent’s evil while excusing the same evil in their champion. It’s a virtual ballet of slippery memes, with a dash of shouting and derision. Both sides hold up their ‘true facts’ while we, the voters, recognize neither’s claims as either true or factual—we call them ‘talking’ points, not ‘thinking’ points.

One of the candidates has latched onto the new Media-philosophy and has based his platform on the idea that what he says is more important than whether there is any earthly reason to say it. His constituents are no better—a recent poll reveals that, of those who will vote for Trump, 4% think he can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons. As Rachel Maddow pointed out last night—that means that a certain number of Trump supporters don’t trust him with nuclear weapons, but want to give them to him anyway.

A hilarious recent article in the New York Times made the point that Trump supporters are loyal to a fault. In it, a supposed Trump advocate scolds the rest of us for pointing out Trump’s faults, assuring us that nothing anyone says will change the minds of his base. Funny as hell, except for the part about it being true–nothing can destroy democracy quite so thoroughly as an evidence-proof electorate.

The hypocrites in the GOP, the ones who, for years, have been shoving reason through a black hole, so that it always comes out backwards and upside-down, are caught flat-footed. They like Trump’s hypocrisy a lot, but they’re nervous about how unabashedly he exposes it, without a whisper of the usual serpentine reasoning they usually like to use, to confuse the issues.

He just says the stupidest things—and liberals are confused. They’re used to having a debate with someone who injects a lot of false data and emotional blackmail into their policy, requiring an exhaustive review of what’s actually true, to rebut. Trump’s bald-faced “Build a Wall” or “Ban the Muslims” leaves them with their jaws hanging, unable to process such public abandonment of adult responsibility. It’s an unexpected gear-change. Trump no doubt mistakes it for awe, or something.

Trump supporters and far-right wackos of all kinds worry about an invasion of ‘foreigners’ in the USA. But people like me see past the surface of a person’s skin color or faith—we worry about an invasion from within, by the ignorant. America believes in equality—so the ignorant have as much of a say as any high-school graduate or PhD. Even the willfully ignorant, proud of their dismissal of science and logic, proud of their bigotry and chauvinism, eager to kick over the sand-castles of the liberal progressives—even these troglodytes have an equal say in the making of America. They are the cup of sugar in the gas tank of democracy.

Nothing I say will change them. Nothing I write will even propel them towards thought or questioning. So I’m not writing for them—I’m writing for you. You can grade my examination now.

Racists Have Feelings, Too (2016Aug26)


Friday, August 26, 2016                                           12:08 PM

Racists Have Feelings, Too   (2016Aug26)

Trump is a product of the reality-TV movement—in his world, Simon Cowell could insult, demean, and destroy a little girl’s or boy’s lifelong dream—and it was all a part of the show. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat—an unavoidable feature of sports—now available as social interaction! Those voted off of American Idol, or ‘You’re Fired’ by Trump, would staunch their tears as they walked off, to mouth obligatory approval of their own dismissal, and the good judgment of Cowell or Trump—because that was still part of the performance. It’s all show-biz—no harm, no foul.

This suited Trump’s persona well—he’s an unfeeling sort. Being capricious, overbearing and cruel towards others—and far from being criticized, as you or I would be, but rewarded with big ratings—suits him down to a ‘T’. His romp through the Republican primaries was just more of the same—though the GOP curated their base to include many who confuse reality TV with reality—and it seemed, for one brief, horrifying moment, that his inertia would carry him into the White House.


That his campaign is being shredded in the national one-on-one with a cogent, serious opponent is cause for pride amongst American voters, and no little shame for the GOP, to have the Tea-Party portion of their base be so shamefully exposed as insensitive mouth-breathers who see a kindred spirit in the Donald. His promise to eject millions of Mexicans from our country—and build a big wall to keep them out—had his faithful near hysteria with joy. His promise to ban Islam was just the cherry on top.

When we look more closely, we see that we’re talking about persecuting huge numbers of Americans, along with the ‘bad ones’, and that most Americans are not comfortable with a complete reversal of our traditions of equality and fairness. Good for us—wouldn’t it be tragic if our two-centuries-plus of idealism could have been squashed virtually overnight by an ignorant celebrity?


And now, while Trump engages us in a hypocritical debate over who is a bigot, we all ignore the Native Americans protesting the invasion of an oil pipeline through their land. Our original sin of genocide returns to us, over and over, resuming its place in our present—because the original target of white bigotry is still getting shafted, even today. The urban pockets with decaying schools, without access to fresh, healthy foods, with landlords who feel no compulsion to repair their tenements—these dead-traps for minorities have persisted for decades. But they are still spanking-new issues compared to our ongoing persecution of our nation’s original residents.

Trumpeting his new-found tolerance and pity for non-whites at all-white rallies is Donald’s way of staying in his comfort zone—but he may find that he prefers an audience of color once it sinks in to his most zealous advocates that, like the rest of what Trump says, he didn’t really mean it about deporting all the Mexicans, American-citizen children and all.


They supported him because, like him, they are insensitive to the suffering of others—their hate trumps their love—and they want America to show strength by being cruel. Their fear and hatred of having a woman control their lives has been slow-baked into them by the same parents, preachers, and culture that convinced them of the superiority of the light-skinned and the absolute need to carry a gun at all times. But bottom line, most of them are not financially secure themselves, and resent any comfort to the poor while they struggle to avoid their own poverty.


Such people’s hatred of Hillary Clinton is a steady-state thing, they do it nightly at a bar or watching FOX-News at home—but this bait-and-switch of Donald’s just might rouse them to active hatred. Donald once joked light-heartedly about Hillary and her liberal SCOTUS nom-pick—“maybe the second amendment people can take care of that”—well, let’s hope he doesn’t find out that such things cut both ways. Calling together the most iron-hearted misanthropes in the country under a banner of law-and-order, only to turn around and say, “I was being sarcastic” is not the safest thing I can imagine.


Substituting brash statements for policies has been a winning strategy so far for the Donald. It matches well with his total absence of experience. While he can snipe at a multitude of choices and missteps in Hillary’s long career, he offers no complementary points of attack upon himself. That might have worked, had Donald, like most villains, not had the seeds of his own destruction already within him.


But policies can be re-worked, modified, changed in detail while leaving the message intact. Trump’s bold statements may not have been policies, but his supporters certainly took them as such. Having a policy of deportation would have allowed some wiggle-room, but the simple statement, “We’ll deport 11,000,000 people” is difficult to walk back, especially if your constituency has set their hearts on that promise. The fact that the majority of Americans see that as impractical and inhumane means that he has to court them with a ‘softening’ of his stance—yet he cannot ‘soften’ on the one thing his existing base agrees on—not without betraying them.


So Trump has finally retreated to the political landscape of policies—and solved this paradox by having a policy ‘in flux’, i.e. he’s pleasing everybody by saying nothing definite. But there is an even greater danger for him in adopting a policy approach. Just as he left it until after his ignorant interviews to bone up on geopolitics; just as he left it until 75 days before the election to learn about minorities; he is switching to policy-planning virtually on the eve of debating Hillary Clinton. I would quake with fear to face Hillary Clinton in public to debate policy—and I’m a fairly informed person, unlike Trump. I almost feel sorry for him. But his would-be supporters won’t.