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end the iran deal

It Would be a Mistake to End the Iran Deal

Donald Trump wants badly to end the Iran Deal, which he has wrongly lambasted as “one of the worst deals ever created.”  The Iran Deal has successfully stopped Iran’s nuclear development and triumphed diplomacy over armed action.

To end the Iran Deal, to renege on an agreement from the previous administration, would dissuade other (rogue) regimes from negotiating with the United States as Trump would increase the costs and decrease the benefits of civilized issue resolution while making it clear that the United State’s word is only good as long as its speaker remains in power.

A Victory for Sanctions and Diplomacy

The Iran Deal represents the victorious conclusion of economic sanctions.  We never intended to hurt Iran’s economy indefinitely; instead, we hoped to bring them to the negotiating table by offering a clear benefit — relief from crippling sanctions — in return for ending its nascent nuclear program.  That succeeded.

Iran, once mere months from building a small nuclear stockpile, has followed the terms of the deal and now stands a decade (or more) from attaining a nuclear weapon.  Its centrifuges have been cemented and uranium stockpiles reduced some 98 percent.  Relatively moderate leaders have even used sanction relief to gain power in the state, reducing tensions with Israel and the West.

Should Trump fail to uphold our end of the deal, as he seems likely to do, Congress will have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran.  If it does, the Iran Deal will fall apart and, without sure support from our allies (who, aside from Israel, want the Iran Deal affirmed), only weak sanctions could be levied.



Iran Walks Away and Doesn’t Come Back

These sanctions would not, as before, bring Iran back to the negotiating table so Trump can work his faked dealmaking magic.  Iran will be free from its nuclear obligations and could resume work on weapons of mass destruction.  That sets Trump’s successor(s) up with a dilemma similar to what he faces with North Korea: How to handle an aggressive regional power with, or close to having, nuclear weapons.  And the Middle East has a lot more fluid parts than does North Korea.

Importantly, if we end the Iran Deal and manage to apply meaningful sanctions, it’s highly unlikely that Iran could be brought back to the negotiating table to hammer out a new deal.  They did so once and ended their nuclear program, abiding by all of the deal’s terms.  But that hasn’t stopped Trump from doubting the deal and continuously threatening to tear it up.  If he does so, why should Iran trust us again in the future to uphold our side of the bargain?



Can’t Negotiate with Other Rogue States

This breach of trust hurts us with other states.  Take North Korea.  We can only hope that North Korea could be induced to diplomacy to curtail its nuclear development.  While this might not seem likely — and seems especially unlikely when President Trump continues to throw cold water on the idea — it’s not impossible and is a partial hope of sanctions.

However, should Trump end the Iran Deal, North Korea will have no reason to ever negotiate with the United States.  What possible benefit could they get from it?  A brief respite from sanctions that could be reimposed at the whim of a tempestuous president?  An agreement at risk with every new election?

Without standing by our agreements, one president’s word — one Congresses action — means nothing.  Continuity in foreign affairs is incredibly important.  Signaling that our words and deals means little takes away whatever benefits other states might gain from negotiating with us: Following the agreement hurts their interests and may not help them in the long run if the United States backtracks from our word.



Don’t End the Iran Deal

Should Donald Trump end the Iran Deal, we will see our foreign policy become much more complicated.  Rogue nations will double-down on nuclear development and will avoid making deals with the United States.  We’ll increasingly isolate these states and they will increasingly build arms and increasingly become a threat.

Mr. President, please don’t end the Iran Deal.



authoritarian state

Americans Would Likely Accept an Authoritarian State

Life in an Authoritarian State is not What Most Imagine

Americans would probably accept life in an authoritarian state so long as that authoritarian state kept the trains running and didn’t resort to violence.  Life in a “benign” authoritarian state (no such state could truly be “benign,” but I’ll use that word to character lack of violence and clear oppression) is banal.  People would feel no need to rise in arms against the state; they would likely accept that regime with little question.

Authoritarianism does not necessarily come with the violence, surveillance, and absolute infringement of rights that many might imagine when hearing the word.  That type of totalitarian police state that can border on fascism through its corporate structure and glorification of violence is an exceptionally malevolent form of authoritarianism.  It generally arises when a threatened authoritarian state uses violence to enforce order and stability, therein inviting further pushback from the populace and evermore oppressive measures from the regime.

That governing structure, which manifested itself in fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the repressed satellites of the USSR, has little in common with modern – benign – authoritarianism.


Authoritarian States Need Not be Totalitarian

These varieties of authoritarianism involve a single individual or, more likely, party maintaining unilateral government control for decades on end, either through uncompetitive elections or continued, unquestioned rule.  Free speech exists, at least to a degree, because it doesn’t threaten the regime.  The press either finds itself under government control or in the hands of regime allies.  Civil liberties exist, somewhat, dissidence is tolerated (to a degree), and life goes on.

Presence of elections dominated by a single party or leader implies a competitive authoritarian state in which the rulers could theoretically be defeated, but it doesn’t happen.  Continued victory could happen for any number of reasons: Immense popularity, fudged results, surgical voter repression, bribery, or promises of government contracts and a favorable distribution of resources given a “correct vote.”

In some benign authoritarian states, though not too many, there simply aren’t elections.  Citizens tolerate that so long as the government is of use — that is, the economy continues to chug, people have jobs or access to them, and day-to-day life is not affected by a lack of democratic representation.



A Weak Connection to Democracy

Americans would probably tolerate that.  Already, many have only a weak connection to democracy, favoring strong or unilateral rule that bypasses the separation of power to more speedily enact policy.  Political scientists have argued that in the solid post-Reconstruction South, residents happily supported a quasi authoritarian system in which elections had no consequences.  A single party dominated the region, especially at the local and state level.

In fact, many Americans might not notice a slip into authoritarianism.  Even in the most decisive election, only 60 percent of the voting age population casts a ballot for president.  That number falls and falls as elections become more local.  Those living in staunchly Democrat or Republican areas have become so accustomed to single-party rule that its extension and consolidation of power may only seem a natural progression — if anyone bothers to think about it.

Others may welcome an evolutionary authoritarian state (one that slowly consolidates power and erodes the separation of powers and checks and balances).  Congressional approval hovers around 10 percent and voters decry a slow-moving federal government.  A benign authoritarian state would pass legislation with ease and, if it had interest in survival, do so in a non-combative, non-threatening way.



Watch for Evolution, Not Revolution

Misconceptions about authoritarianism and its inception – many thing it comes in a one event, following a revolution or coup d’etat where it usually happens as a process of democratic backsliding – can make a state vulnerable to creeping authoritarianism.

Voters don’t believe or recognize the diminished effects of election and the slow consolidation of power as signs of an encroaching authoritarian state.  We remain less vigilant of small infractions because we fear totalitarianism; we fear the opening of concentration camps, or using the military to forcefully squelch dissent.  With eyes averted, authoritarianism can sneak in.

To avoid an authoritarian state, we must understand the above symptoms – consolidated power and elections that have no influence on policy – and resist those.  It’s important to recognize that authoritarianism comes not with a bang, but with a whimper — and many will simply accept the changes.



non-voters

Non-Voters: What the Hell is Wrong with You?

The 2016 election saw some 59.3% of the voting eligible population cast a ballot in one of the most divisive elections in generations (this amounts to just 54% of the voting age population).  Almost 100 million individuals eligible to vote decided to ignore the election and its potential results, content instead to disregard basic civic obligations and allow the lives and well-being of friends and loved ones to be determined by someone else.

To those people I ask: What the hell is wrong with you?

Why do you sit out elections, especially one that saw a pompous and ignoble demagogue draw on racial resentment and fear of a diversifying America to slander and somehow defeat one of the most qualified candidates to ever pursue the presidency?

Are you happy in your ignorance and political apathy?

Do you enjoy being disinterested in policies that directly affect you and those about whom you care?

There is no reason to sit out elections.  There is no reason to at least pursue an elementary understanding of the complex issues facing our society.  It’s your duty as an American citizen; when the government derives its powers from the consent of its citizens and turns to them for legitimacy, prerogative, and power, each individual must fulfill the most basic obligation to a democratic society – casting an informed ballot.



Your Vote Matters

Maybe you believe that your vote doesn’t matter.  Well, you’re wrong.  Presidential elections can be determined by the slimmest margins.  Donald Trump won because of 80,000 votes across three states (for perspective, that’s about how many people attend a Green Bay Packers home playoff game).  In those states, around 7.8 million decided not to vote.  If only a small fraction had decided to care about their country, the country might not be losing credibility among our allies, wouldn’t be having a debate about the virtues and vices of Nazism, and wouldn’t be considering spending tens of billions of dollars to trap people in a country.

That’s just the 2016 election.  In 2000, George W. Bush won Florida by hundreds of votes in an election where milliondecided their purposes were best served by keeping their asses planted to their couches.  Senator Al Franken won his first election by scores of ballots; representatives across the nation wait for days on end to see whether the slimmest of slim leads hold as officials finalize ballot counts.  Mayoral races can be decided by dozens, if not fewer, votes.

So obviously your vote matters.  It may not be decisive, but what a ludicrous thought process – and logical fallacy – to think voting is pointless simply the odds of being the decisive vote is astronomically slim.  What a foolish all-or-nothing mentality!



The Results Matter

Maybe you, dearest non-voter, in your incredibly political ignorance, somehow think that the election results don’t matter, that policy wouldn’t actually change.  How wrong you would be!  Perhaps pay attention to the news and the candidates and you will see the folly of your feelings.

Each election at all levels has incredible local and national repercussions.  Trump’s election nearly cost 22 million their health insurance.  His victory enabled Neil Gorsuch, a justice to the right even of Clarence Thomas, to ascend to the Supreme Court, where he will likely stay for 30 years; this, especially when coupled with the likelihood of Trump appointing another justice, endangers any number of political objectives, including the right to an abortion and the ability to not be discriminated against simply for being gay.

And if you think that special interests simply control politics through immense donations to political entities and thus your vote doesn’t count, then you just furthered that hole in your foot because with Neil Gorsuch on the bench, Citizens United likely isn’t going anywhere.  Hillary Clinton pledged to appoint a justice who wouldn’t support the precedent.



Blessed non-voter, did you hear that Trump ended DACA?  Did you know this imperils some 690,000 educated and hard-working adults who came here, through no fault of their own, as children and who have called America – and America only – home?  Your vote could have saved them from the now ever-present of deportation.

Or perhaps you’ve heard of the First Amendment, which protects all religions from discrimination or government favoritism?  Well, had you voted, you could have prevented a man whose Islamophobia shocks the American conscience from trying to ban the religion from entering the country simply because he’s irrationally frightened of people who look different than him.

On countless obvious issues, voting matters.  Slim margins erased by simple action can dramatically change the course of the nation.  Doesn’t that matter to you?



You Should Know What’s Going On

My valued non-voter, could it be that you don’t vote because you don’t know the issues?  Of all the reasons mentioned, that would be the best.  We don’t want your uninformed opinions deciding important outcomes.

But you do realize that can be changed, right?  That you can decide to spend, say, 30 minutes a day reading (real) news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, or Politico to learn about national happenings?  That through these outlets you can learn of an election’s stakes and become conversant in policy considerations such that you can cast a useful ballot?

So, why don’t you?  Do you not understand the importance of policies that shape how 320 million live their lives?  Or is it simply too hard to understand the complexities?

Well, tough luck there, buddy.  Politics ain’t easy and if you want to be the American citizen our Founders hoped to craft and which foreign observers long touted as the instruments to a just and equal society, unlike so many in Europe, you need to put forth some effort.  You need to embrace complexity and difficulty and do your best to understand such issues.



It’s imperative that a democratic society be filled with those willing to put in the effort needed to make informed decisions that hold lawmakers accountable and shape national political discourse in such a way that we don’t condescend to the levels of simplicity that corrupt actors can exploit and manipulate in their searches for power (only when we expect/demand high levels of sophistication because we have high levels of sophistication can we thoroughly vet candidates to weed out those preying on fear or emotion, not logic built from a deep understanding of public policy).

So, get off your ass and be an American.  Learn about the issues.  Study candidates.  Use logic.  And, most importantly, come election day, vote.



tear down confederate statues

Tear Down Confederate Statues

Don’t Glorify Traitors

Logical Fallacies

Arguments against demolishing Confederate statues perfectly exemplify the slippery slope fallacy.  A slippery slope fallacy, in short, assumes or argues that one minor action will (inevitably) lead to more dramatic actions, usually with dramatic and wholly unintended consequences.  It assumes that we have no ability to draw a line in the sand — that is, we have no ability to simply define, achieve, and stop after a single action.

Slippery slope fallacies often dominate political discussion because the conclusions they present offer great shock value whose ability to stun often undermines support for the initial argument.  Other examples include the “argument” that legalizing same-sex marriage would somehow lead to okaying pedophiliabeastiality, or any other number of horrors.  In no logical way could same-sex marriage lead to those actions, but thus is the nature of a slippery slope: Actions somehow spiral out of control and lead to hyperbolic conclusions.
Slippery slope fallacies can also be seen in the bathroom debate as some claim that allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their gender identity will somehow result in high school boys showering in girls locker rooms and in debates over the Federal Reserve’s inflation target rate, with some arguing that should the Fed raise the inflation target, it will somehow never stop controlling inflation and we’ll end up back in the 1970s.



In the case of Confederate statues, it’s an outlandish fallacy to assume that by removing those dedicated to individuals who committed treason by fighting against the federal government (the constitutional definition of treason), we will somehow end up scrubbing presidential monuments or blotting out the names of great Americans flawed for their racial views.

Establishing Precedents

Now, while slippery slope arguments may be fallacious, identifying worrisome precedents does have merit as it doesn’t assume an (outlandish) conclusion but rather posits that contemporary reasoning could be applied in the future for less desirable purposes.  Precedents, of course, dominate our legal reasoning and exemplify the need for careful and specific reasoning for any given course of action.
Broad logic and justification invites more insidious application when mischievous factions gain power.  Those arguing that the removal of Confederate statues will result in the censuring of history and the destruction of monuments to truly great Americans use fallacious reasoning; those positing that removing Confederate statues because changing social norms leaves such individuals in contempt establishes a precedent that history can be removed as society evolves have a valid point, albeit one with which I disagree.

Disingenuous Counterarguments

Many also present disingenuous arguments in their arguments against tearing down Confederate statues.  Commentators, aside from slippery slope fallacies, believe progressives hope to “audit” and “cleanse” history, thereby avoiding the challenging aspects of the subject and either glossing over disliked parts or labelling everyone in the past as a racist.  That’s not the aim.



Progressives hope to end the public adulation of those who fought to dissolve the Union in order to preserve human bondage.  There’s not attempt to censor history — there’s no effort to remove these figures from the entire of US history and simply cast them into the dustbin, never to be mentioned.  They want such monuments placed in museums where people can learn about and engage with history to understand the formation of our country.  It’s not an attempt to alter the past but rather a simple desire to not glorify traitors.

Public Adoration

Public statues inherently celebrate those presented.  Taxpayer dollars go to their creation; defenders of the statues readily admit it’s a part of their history that they want to celebrate.  But why should the public celebrate an individual such as Robert E. Lee, who raised an army against the government?  The Constitution itself defines “Treason against the United States” as “levying war against them,” which perfectly defines every Confederate icon.
Should public spaces honor those who committed the highest crime against the nation or people like Daniel Webster, the great orator, who proclaimed “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable”?  This isn’t an attempt to avoid Robert E. Lee; it’s an effort to glorify the defenders of our nation, those who fought for, not against, the Constitution.
Binyamin Appelbaum, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, laid out a wonderful two-pronged test for whether we should remove public statues: One, is the person famous primarily for being a white supremacist; two, did the person commit treason by rising in arms against the union?



This test ensures that we don’t publicly idolize individuals famous only for their racism or treason without the reactionary fear that removing Confederate statues would lead to an attack on others with a checkered past, such as Andrew Jackson (a terrible person, but one who doesn’t fall into the two categories) or Thomas Jefferson (a slaveholder, but the exemplification of American enlightenment and individual who should be widely celebrated).

Reactionary Strawman Arguments

Lastly, attacks on progressive motive assume some dark and malicious intent when none exists.  No thinking progressive believes that removing statues will inherently better race relations or meaningfully change the lives of African Americans; no progressive wants to remove statues simply flex supposed moral superiority or flex activist power for some psychological thrill; and surely no true progressive would avoid challenging the past of their former leaders.  The goal, really, is simple: End the public glorification of traitors and those famous only for white supremacy.  This doesn’t hurt history or the study thereof.  It’s surely not an effort to audit and cleanse the past.  It’s an argument about the meaning of public statues and the values we should proudly display.
Our public space should put forth our best values and our best individuals.  They shouldn’t celebrate rebels who tried to destroy the country.

2017 elections

The 2017 Elections Bode Well for Democrats

Democrats made large gains in the 2017 elections

The 2017 elections have seen a large swing to Democrats vis a vis their results just one year ago.  Special House of Representatives elections held in ruby-red, long uncompetitive districts have seen Democrats come tantalizingly close to major upsets.  While Democratic wins remain elusive, victories only tell half the story: The near-20 point swing towards Democrats in the 2017 elections indicate that 2018 may very well be a landslide year.

Chart 1 shows that the Republican margin in each district fell, on average, by 17.7 points.  Democrats dramatically improved upon their 2016 House showing, due in part to an energized base, an unpopular Republican president, and a national swing to Democrats, as evidence by congressional generic ballot polls.

2017 elections
Chart 1: Though Republicans won, the 2017 elections show a definitive trend away from Republicans.

Kansas 04

Donald Trump clobbered Hillary Clinton by 27 points (60-33) in the 84 percent white district.  Since 2002, the closest congressional race saw the Republican candidate win by 22 points.  Clearly, Democrats are traditionally not competitive in this R+15 state.



Yet Democratic candidate James Thompson lost to Ron Estes, then the Kansas State Treasurer, by only 6.8 points, a dramatic turnaround from both the 2016 presidential and congressional results.  Overcoming a 15 point structural disadvantage would be incredibly difficult — clawing back some 9 points and forcing high-profile Republicans to make campaign appearances deep in the GOP’s heartland shows that Donald Trump’s historically low approval among the American people can make competitive safe seats.

Montana At-Large

Montana has a weird dynamic: It happily elects Democrats as senators and governors, but opts for Republicans at the congressional and presidential level.  Since the state has one district, the constituencies are the same at each level.  In 2016, it elected a Democratic governor while overwhelmingly voting for Donald Trump and then Representative Ryan Zinke.

Thus, when Greg Gianforte, who lost the gubernatorial race in 2016 decided to try again in the 2017 elections, he stood as the overwhelming favorite.  His opponent, Rob Quist, had no political experience and was not a particularly gifted candidate.  But the race soon tightened, prompting Donald Trump Jr to venture to the state in hopes of propping up the millionaire Republican.

On Election Day eve, the race took an unexpected twist when Gianforte assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs.  This act of violence threatened to tilt and already close contest to the Democrat, but Gianforte survived due in large part to the early vote: Around 2/3 of Montanans had voted before the incident.  A poll taken on Election Day showed movement towards Quist, but not enough to overcome the already-cast ballots.



Still, the race showed Democratic competitiveness well away from diverse urban centers, which, along with the KS-04 results, portends a diverse House battleground in next year’s midterms.

South Carolina 05

The race to replace for House Freedom Caucus member Mick Mulvaney flew under the national radar.  Mulvaney won the district by 21 points in both 2014 and 2016; Trump underperformed Mulvaney but still won by 18 points, better than his numbers from South Carolina as a whole.

Yet Democratic challenger and political novice Archie Parnell nearly pulled a dramatic upset, falling just shy of defeating state representative Ralph Norman.  Parnell benefitted from the race remaining local, allowing the candidates to compete without millions from outside groups being spent or with visits from high-profile officials.  The non-nationalized race shows an energized Democratic base and a Republican base in need of massive investments in time and money to be driven to the polls.

Georgia 06

The most expensive House race in history drew extraordinary national attention and saw a campaign season last longer than many countries’ national elections.  Democrats pinned their hopes on former congressional aide and documentarian Jon Ossoff whereas Republicans opted for Secretary of State and former gubernatorial and senatorial candidate Karen Handel, a well-known politician.

For once, high turnout hurt Democrats.  Ossoff failed to improve on his Round 1 results because turnout in the R+8 district that in 2012 voted for Mitt Romney by 23 points.  He did, however, dramatically improve upon his 2016 Democratic predecessor, meaning he attracted some Republican support to pull 48% of the vote.



When a heavily Republican district experiences general election level turnout for a special election, Democrats suffer.  The other 2017 elections show that Democrats are energized to vote — lower turnout in GA-06 likely would have meant Republicans staying home.  Instead, Republicans spent tens of millions of dollar and sent Trump administration officials to the district to spur turnout.  And given there are more Republicans than Democrats in GA-06, it follows that more voters would mean more Republicans voting for Handel.

What do the 2017 elections mean for 2018?

The 2017 elections may leave some Democrats discouraged, but they needn’t be.  Across the board swings towards the party coupled with high base turnout and lagging Republican turnout indicates that 2018 will be a swing year.  If the 2017 elections Democratic swing is applied to all districts, Democrats will walk away from the midterms with a hefty majority.

Of course, such a pronounced swing is unlikely to happen.  But the results largely echo the aforementioned generic congressional ballot polls.  Taken together, Democrats — as of this writing — may well see a 6-10 point swing across all House districts.  That would be enough to make them the majority party.  Furthermore, the competitiveness of the 2017 elections in a diverse swarth of districts shows that Democrats will have many battlegrounds in their quest for 2018.

Conclusion

Don’t be discouraged by losses.  Recognize the political environment and the pronounced swings to the Democratic Party.  Be encouraged for the midterms.  Keep organizing, mobilizing, and persuading.  These results point to a great election ahead.

democratic socialism

Democratic Socialism: A Disastrous Ideology

Democratic Socialism must be avoided

What is Democratic Socialism?

Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly resonant campaign introduced a new phrase into our political lexicon: Democratic Socialism.  The phrase seeks to rhetorically touch up “socialism,” an ideology rightly associated with death, despair, and disaster.  Democratic socialism, however, is a catastrophe wrapped in a seemingly innocent movement.  Tt should be avoided and shunned at all costs.

Democratic socialism strives to combine the forces of democracy with social ownership of enterprise — in other words, it hopes to establish a socialist system.  Preceding “socialism” with “democratic” doesn’t modify socialism.  Socialism’s goal is itself democratic in theory: Centralized ownership benefits the masses rather than those with capital (capitalists).  The phrase “democratic socialism” solely seeks to distinguish this vision from the Soviet Union’s Marxist-Leninism, not modify socialist goals.

Similarly, “social ownership of enterprise” amounts to no less than the nationalization of industry and the centralization of production.  Only by the government owning the means of production could enterprise ever achieve social — ie, democratic; ie, lay — ownership.

So democratic socialism offer socialism, but by a better name.

And socialism, of course, does not work, for it quickly descends into despotism while destroying economies.



bernie sanders democratic socialism

Descent to Tyranny

History proves that statement: All socialist experiments led to autocratic, repressive states that deprived their citizens of natural rights. Democracy itself tends towards self-destruction through demagogues who subvert constitutions and strive for self-serving authoritarianism.  Democratic socialism would remove the republican safeguards that prevent demagogic takeover while increasing the riches of office — subvert the constitution, establish unilateral government control, and enjoy the spoils of all nationalized industries.

In other words, the leader, or leading party, has every reason to bend the economy to their desires.  Tyranny of the minority ensues, with the beneficiaries of the centralized system fighting the majority of the population, necessarily involving coercive forces and a seizure of rights (and wholly destroying the democratic socialist vision).

Destruction of the Economy

Even in the idealized world in which the government remains true to democratic virtue and does not succumb to natural human desires to enrich oneself, socialism — and so democratic socialism — falls short of all stated goals.  It destroys the economy by ignoring human nature.

All socialist societies dream of eventual classlessness (which, combined with the abolition of private property, amounts to communism) with the centralized means of production that supposedly serves the (democratic) masses.  It ignores market forces in place of government-decided prices and output (it is impossible for the government to determine optimal quality and price; in attempting to do so, it will be surely be swayed by some minority — a further imposition of minority tyranny as a select few decide the availability of goods for general purchase).



Without incentives and with central planning, the economy quickly stagnates.  Human nature requires incentives to spur productivity and innovation.  Without the ability to reap rewards for hard work — with the government guaranteeing an outcome — worker productivity and the standard the living decline precipitously.  Output then declines, which either forces prices to rise (as they would in a market) or the government subsidizes consumers and producers to maintain a certain price level, straining government coffers and causing debt to spiral, or a government-enforced price (without supplying subsidies) quickly leads to scarcity when production halts as its cost quickly outstep income.  Either way, the economy tumbles and the standard of living plummets.

democratic socialism
The revolution thrust Cuba into abject poverty.

Conclusion

Democratic socialism is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  The phrase itself does not modify its fundamental belief in a socialized economy.  Socialism always seeks to be democratic, but because of human nature — because of demagogues and the ease with which a corrupted socialist state can be used to enrich oneself — always descends to tyranny.



The economy similarly suffers.  Central planning ignores incentives, and thus human nature.  Historically and theoretically, socialism leads to dramatic declines in the standard of living.  Only pain and suffering increases.

And so democratic socialism must be avoided.  Democratic socialists must be spurned.  Those seeking to overhaul the economic system into one that has never once worked must never gain power.

Donald Trump: The Most Ignorant Man in the World

The Most Ignorant Man in the World

 Donald Trump’s entire campaign has been premised on truthiness – things that sound or feel right even though reality does not support such a belief.  He spews accusations and statements that may feel true to some people (or at least seem close to true), but which, when facts are accepted, live quite far from rationality.  His intrinsic narcissism leads Trump to believe himself over the judgment of experts.  Unfortunately, he spouts nonsense with such confidence and swagger that Trump has manufactured a cult following where people only believe him and allied sources.  This creates a dangerous situation and contributes to the buffoonery that surrounds his campaign.

For these reasons (and many others), Trump is running perhaps the most ignorant campaign ever and he’s managing to spread his disregard for facts to a large portion of the electorate.  Mass ignorance is never desired in a democracy but that seems to be the only way Trump can waltz his way to a victory.  Here are just some of the highlights of Trump’s deep-seated ignorance.[1]

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” (Source.)



Trump’s ability to constantly insult our military, be it by insulting war heroes, attacking a Gold Star family, accusing those with PTSD of being weak, claiming that the attack on ISIS-stronghold Mosul is a political stunt, and doubting the intelligence of military leaders, should be immediately disqualifying.  It’s preposterous that Trump assumes he knows more about ISIS than do generals.  Keep in mind that Trump’s plans for defeating ISIS range from “bombing the sh*t out of them” (apparently without realizing that 1) we are already doing that and 2) ISIS embeds itself with civilians, so an all-out bombing campaign that Trump seems to favor would lead to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths) to plundering Iraq’s natural resources a la 19th century colonialism.  Oh, and Trump has stated that he gets his military information from watching “the shows.”  A man watching talking heads on television thinks he knows more about a complex terrorist organization than the generals?  Really, Donald?



With regards to the DNC hacks: “I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia.”

That’s true if and only if you ignore the US government, which “has formally accused Russia of hacking the Democratic party’s computer networks” in an attempt to “’interfere’ with the US presidential election.”  Trump again is narcissistic enough to believe he alone knows more about “the cyber” than US intelligence agencies tasked with investigating the hacks.  The scary part is that people believe him rather than the experts.

“I was endorsed by ICE.” (Link.)

It seems as if Trump doesn’t know that ICE is Immigration and Customs enforcement and thus cannot endorse a candidate.



“Why didn’t you change it when you were a senator?” (From the second debate.)

Donald, I think you need to go back to 8th grade and learn how bills become laws.  For a bill to pass in the Senate, it needs 51 votes unless it’s filibustered, in which case it needs 60 to invoke cloture.  But that’s only one chamber!  The same bill also needs to garner a majority, or 217 votes, in the House of Representatives.  From there, the president either signs or vetoes the legislation.  If he vetoes the bill, then 2/3 of Congress must vote to override the veto.  That’s 67 votes in the Senate and 290 in the House.  Our hyper-polarized environment means many contentious bills, such as closing tax loopholes (to which Trump referred with his statement) pass or die along party-line votes.  The Republicans controlled the Senate from 2003-2007; during the years it did not hold the majority, it could successfully filibuster any bill.  Similarly, Republicans held the House from 2001-2007.  Bush held veto power for the entirety of Clinton’s Senate tenure.  In other words, based on a little thing called the Constitution as well as partisan composition, Democrats (let alone the junior senator from the State of New York) had no ability to close tax loopholes.  The above statement demonstrates the Trump clearly does not understand the legislative process and is so ignorant that he doesn’t know a thing about recent political history.

“Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” (More.)

Because a primitive atomic bomb instantly killed 80,000 people when dropped on Hiroshima (the ultimate death toll reached 192,000).  Today, a single bomb dropped in a major city (and there are many cities in Europe, where Trump has said he would not take dropping a nuclear bomb “off the table”) could kill hundreds of thousands of people, almost all of them innocent civilians.  Millions would be affected by radiation poisoning from the bomb itself and from its polluting resources.  The death and destruction caused by a single nuclear weapon is simply unfathomable – it would destroy entire regions for generations.  And yet Trump is not only open to using these weapons, he wants more countries to have them.  Basic game theory dictates that one country building its military encourages an arms race among neighbors and rivals.  Many heavily militarized nations increase the chances of conflict; with nuclear weapons in the mix, any conflict could destroy entire nations.  Trump’s willingness to use nuclear weapons will encourage other countries to develop retaliatory capacity, especially given that he has stated he wants to be unpredictable with nukes.  Unpredictable with forces that could cause millions of casualties.  That endangers us all.




Trump’s campaign does not rely on truth or facts.  It relies on bombastic statements detached from reality but which solicit a strong emotional response.  In other words, his campaign is demagogic and borrows persuasive practices from dictators.  He is running on ignorance and fear, not intelligence and the search for better policy understanding.  Donald Trump is, without a doubt, the most ignorant man in the world.

[1] Something to ponder: If Trump and his followers refuse to accept facts and evidence that points out the falsehoods in their beliefs, are they still ignorant or have the crossed the road to stupidity, given they easily have access to information and simply choose to ignore it?



vote

Rock the Vote!

Hello,

Please remember to vote on or by November 8!

This is the election of a lifetime. Only Hillary Clinton offers the policies needed to create new American jobs, defeat our enemies abroad, and unify a divided nation.

She has solutions; her opponent Donald Trump, has bigotry and authoritarian principles that know neither the Constitution nor American values.

This is election is about us — you, me, our children. Our future.

Please get out and rock the vote!

Arizona Early Voting

DemRepIndTotal
Registered Voters (10/24/2016) 1,019,050 1,185,023 1,164,373 3,400,611
Percent of Electorate29.97%34.85%34.24%
Current polling average among select demographic breakdowns
TrumpClinton
Dem3.00%96.00%
Rep90.00%6.00%
Ind44.00%39.00%
Current turnout and electorate composition by party.  Combined with polling averages, early vote tallies are estimated as well as a final vote tally (that assumes an impossible 100% voter turnout) if the electorate’s composition does not change.
DemRepInd Trump Clinton
2016 Turnout52.62%53.83%33.62% 762,187 705,363
2016 Percent of Electorate33.70%40.10%24.60% 1,629,743 1,508,239
Averaging the approximated vote shares by demographics yields this approximated early vote tally.
TrumpClinton
Estimated Early Votes 762,187 705,363
If current turnout remains the same through election day, we might see these final results.
TrumpClinton
If this patter holds, estimated final vote tally 1,629,743 1,508,239
Compare to 2012.
2012 Early Votes (Estimates)
Obama 476,60047.66%
Romney 508,80050.88%
What percent of the 2012 early vote does each candidate have?
TrumpClinton
Percent of 2012 Early Vote149.8%148.0%
Who’s leading the early vote?
TrumpClinton
Share of Early Vote47.93%44.35%
Likely due to relative third-party popularity, both candidate’s early vote percentage is running behind their predecessor’s.
TrumpClinton
Points Ahead/Behind 2012 Early Vote Share-2.96%-3.31%