Friday, November 4, 2016
The Political Coin From Both Sides:
Guest Blogger Anonymous:
Why I am voting for Donald Trump
Guest Blogger Dan Benbow:
178 reasons Hillary Clinton is infinitely better than Donald Trump (even on her worst day)
Anonymous for Donald Trump:
I believe our country needs and outsider to come in and shake the system up. For too long, our country has been ruled by a political class that is out of touch with the people they serve and are bought and paid for by special interests. This must change. Secretary Clinton represents the entire elite political class that so many Americans dislike and believe has sold them out. The Clintons have used their political influence to enrich themselves beyond belief in a matter of years proving that if you have enough money, you can buy influence. Everything Democrats say they are against, Secretary Clinton represents. This is why so many Democrats voted for Bernie Sanders yet ultimately, the system was rigged against him to install in to power the person the elites of this country had pre-ordained.
I cannot in good conscious vote to elect a candidate who is currently under criminal investigation by the FBI. If she were to win, it would create a constitutional crisis unlike anything our country has ever experienced. We would have a President-Elect who is under criminal investigation by the FBI. If President-Elect Clinton was not given a pardon by President Obama, then likely she would be arrested before her first hundred days in office was finished if she did not pardon her own self. In either case, this would completely erode any confidence or trust the American people have left in our government or justice system.
I believe America needs to stay out of foreign wars that have no immediate threat to the national security of America. America should not get militarily involved in the Syrian civil war. This conflict is now being actively fought by Iran and Russia. To get involved now, would mean America would be siding with the rebels against both Russia, Iran and the Syrian government. This is not a war of escalation that we should pursue. America should also not look to transplant portions of the Syrian people to America. These people want to go back to their homes and America’s arming of rebels and insurgents, many of whom have ties to terrorism, has only prolonged this bloody civil war. This is an Arab problem and Arab countries should be forced or made to handle it, not America. These are their fellow Muslims, not Christians, they should be willing to aid them, not rely on a Christian nation to do so.
I also believe that America should work to de-escalate tensions with Russia. America should not continue to view Russia as an adversary and look for ways to work together on areas of commonality. We do not need to start another Cold War with Russia which does not benefit anyone.
America can also not afford to defend 30+ nations who have the capability to defend themselves but choose not to fund it and rely on the American tax payers to do it for them. America has strategic alliances that do need to be honored, but that also means our allies need to honor their part of the agreement by doing what is necessary to defend themselves. America spends more than $630 Billion on defense, we cannot continue to afford to do this. Secretary Clinton has a track record of military engagements spanning from Iraq, to her venture in to Libya, Egypt, Syria and Ukraine. In each situation, Secretary Clinton advocated for military action and regime change. There is no reason to believe that she will suddenly have a change of heart or view from her past actions with military force.
I firmly believe in foreign trade, but it needs to be fair trade that provides a benefit to America and our workers. For too long, our trade policies have favored offshoring and re-domiciling of organizations abroad in search of cheaper labor and tax havens. This has harmed the environment immensely as these countries do not have environmental laws or regulations. We need someone who is going to work to bring jobs for our working-class people, not the wealthy and political elites. We need to create a tax environment that encourages businesses to invest at home and not horde their money abroad. America has the highest corporate tax in the world, this needs to be fixed. These are not policies that Secretary Clinton wants to pursue; she wants more regulations and taxes on corporations which will only drive more of them overseas or shelter more of their money abroad.
America is a land of immigrants and it will remain that under Trump. What it will not allow is for anyone and everyone to skip the legal process and just walk across the border or overstay their visas. The American worker is being crushed under the mass of 10+ million illegal immigrants who work for less wages than a legal American would because they are here illegally. This undermines the job opportunities for low skilled Americans and poorer Americans because why would an employer want to hire a legal American and pay taxes and healthcare for them when they could hire an illegal immigrant and not have to pay any of that and pay them less. Trumps tough talk is nothing more than a starting point in a series of negotiations. In either case, sticking our heads in the sand or letting 10+ million people become citizens just encourages 10 million more to come across the border. Again, immigration is important, but unregulated immigration is extremely harmful to our economy and to our working poor who never stand a chance against millions of people who are willing to undercut their wages.
The Supreme Court:
This is perhaps the second most important reason I am voting for Trump. The next President will appoint at least one, and potentially up to three Supreme Court judges. We need someone who will appoint justices that believe in, and support the Constitution as it was written. Too often justices want to view the Constitution as a living document that evolves and changes over time. This is a dangerous course and reasoning to take. The Constitution gives clear guidelines for how laws and processes are to work in our country. If we start to imply our own interpretations of it, and not follow the actual letter of what it says, but look to find intent which changes from person to person, then we risk destroying the very foundation our country was built upon. We may not always like or agree with something in the Constitution, but it is the foundation for our Republic and it has held our country together for over 200 years.
These are the cumulative reasons why I am voting for Donald Trump and not for Secretary Clinton
Guest Blogger Dan Benbow:
178 reasons Hillary Clinton is infinitely better than Donald Trump (even on her worst day)
"...on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day."
Hillary Clinton is the Rodney Dangerfield of American politics—no matter how much she accomplishes, she gets no respect.
Over the past year, I have encountered one person after another who dissed Hillary for purely subjective reasons. There was the ex who said on a long-distance call that establishment candidate Hillary would be a servant of the wealthy, while Donald Trump would be independent because he was so rich that he couldn't be bought. The client who told me between puffs of his cigarette that he couldn’t stand Hillary because he hated her fake smile. The online acquaintance who dismissed how significant Hillary’s election would be to women worldwide because Hillary had stayed with a philanderer and gotten this far by simply “riding her husband’s coattails.” The feminist who said over coffee that she wanted a female president, but not Hillary, because I don’t trust her. The former co-worker who referred to Hillary's "trail of corruption" on a Facebook feed but couldn't cite any real, actual scandals when pressed.
And these people are all quite happy with Barack Obama, whose center-left agenda and technocratic orientation are virtually indistinguishable from Hillary’s.
Clearly, the Republican Party has done such a masterful job demonizing Hillary for the past 25 years that many otherwise intelligent people have a visceral dislike of her.
But far more relevant than surface-level perceptions is the weighty matter of how a Clinton presidency would differ from a Trump presidency. To answer this, we need to ask a few simple questions. Where have the candidates been (how much governing experience do they have)? Where are they going (what are their policy proposals)? Do they have the temperament to take on the toughest job in the world? Everything else is just noise.
The answer to the first question is a no-brainer. The presidency is not an entry level job, and when it comes to governing experience, there is no comparison between the two candidates.
Donald Trump has never held public office (1) or shown a remote interest in public service of any kind (2). Trump’s sole claim to being qualified for president is his business experience, but he is not self-made (he began with a million-dollar lone from his father), he had to be bailed out by his father in 1980 (3), he claimed losses of almost a billion dollars losses of almost a billion dollars in 1995 alone losses of almost a billion dollars (4) in order to dodge his taxes (5), and he has left a trail of wreckage behind him, including thousands of frivolous lawsuits (6), jilted clients (7) and contractors (8), and multiple bankruptcies (9). Even Trump’s foundation, one of the few reflections of concern for other human beings, was used as a piggy bank to fund a contribution to the Florida attorney general, in a flagrant and illegal attempt to make charges against Trump University go away (10).
Setting aside the fact that no businessman, ever, has been a good president, if Trump is so sure he can “run government like a business,” why is he the first presidential candidate in the modern era to refuse to release his tax returns (11), which presumably would reflect his business acumen? Could it be because Trump's business “performance has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York,” according to The Economist? We may never know. By contrast, Hillary has a more impressive public service resume than anyone who has run for president in several decades, or perhaps ever.
As a teenager, Clinton set up a babysitting service for migrant workers (12). During her undergraduate years, around the time future war hawk Donald Trump was avoiding military service in Vietnam, Hillary became class president at Wellesley (13), where she was the first student to deliver a commencement speech (14), which address she used to advocate for radical change (15).
While in law school, Hillary volunteered at Yale's Child Study Center (16), served as a state coordinator for George McGovern, arguably the most progressive general election candidate in American history (17), and went undercover to investigate discrimination in Alabama schools for the Children’s Defense Fund (18).
In 1973, the same year Trump was sued for refusing to rent to blacks in his rental apartments (which would happen more than once, 19), Hillary was one of just 27 women in the Yale Law School class of 235 (20). Rather than making a money grab—as Trump did by going into real estate out of college—Hillary chose to be the only woman on the team of lawyers tasked with impeaching Richard Nixon (21).
When Bill Clinton moved back to Arkansas to pursue a political career in 1974, Hillary had a choice. She could stay in D.C. and pursue her own sizable ambitions, or go with Bill. She chose Arkansas, and marriage, but she was no simple political wife, entirely beholden to her husband's career.
While in Arkansas, Hillary taught law (22) and served as Bill’s top consultant in his two years as attorney general and twelve as governor (23). She took on the major project of reforming Arkansas’ sub-par public education system (24), co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families organization (25), chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee (26), and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital (27), Legal Services (where she was the first female to chair the board, 28) and the Children’s Defense Fund (29). Hillary also juggled a career as a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, where she was the first full-time female partner (30); she excelled in this role, making the National Law Journal list of most influential lawyers in 1988 and 1991 (31).
In the '90s, while Donald cheated on his first model/wife, divorced her, married and divorced another model, made and lost boatloads of money, and began trolling beauty pageants, Hillary further beefed up her policy credentials by becoming the most active lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. She valiantly led the fight for universal healthcare (32), but was stopped by the GOP and their parasitic allies in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Picking up pieces afterward, she played a role in passing both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability law HIPPA) which allowed people to keep their coverage when they switched jobs (33), and later the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) law, which extended coverage to eight million disadvantaged children (34). She also had a hand in crafting a bipartisan measure that helped foster children (35) and used her clout as first lady to deliver a forceful speech on behalf of women’s right sin China (36).
And instead of bragging about herself non-stop, as Trump did in his most famous (ghostwritten) book, The Art of the Deal, Hillary wrote about the importance of society banding together to help children reach their full potential in It Takes a Village (37), the audio version of which netted her a Grammy Award.
In the '00s, during which time Trump made and lost more money, married a trophy wife, continued to troll beauty pageants, and hosted a reality TV show, Hillary ran against Republican (and future Trump supporter) Rudy Giuliani for an open Senate seat in New York. When his poll numbers tanked in the wake of a divorce scandal, trash-talking Giuliani dropped out of the race rather than face the ignominy of losing to Hillary. Hillary beat the fallback Republican, Rick Lazio, by double digits, becoming the first woman to be elected senator of New York (38).
In 2001, the Clinton Foundation was founded. It would go on to provide AIDS medications to nine million third world people in need (39), raise life expectancy for poor women in developing nations (40), and received a cherished A rating from Charity Watch (41).
In that same year, Hillary began her Senate career. As a senator from New York, among many other things, Hillary would secure $21 billion to rebuild Manhattan after 9/11 (42) and help get benefits for reservists and National Guard members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan (43).
Halfway through her Senate career, in 2005, Hillary was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame (44).
In 2006, Hillary received the overwhelming confidence of her New York constituents, winning re-election to the Senate by more than a 2-to-1 margin (45)
Not content to be a popular and accomplished senator, Hillary ran for president in 2007. Despite getting more vot4es than Barack Obama (46), she lost the primary. Rather than mope around or cast blame, she campaigned for Obama in the fall of 2008 and accepted his offer to become secretary of state (47) the following year, after first co-sponsoring the Lily Ledbetter Fair Play Act (48), which amended arbitrary timelines placed on lawsuits related to gender discrimination in employment.
Lily Ledbetter and President Barack Obama
As a secretary of state, Hillary helped push the Pediatric Research Equity Act, which forced pharmaceutical companies to be more careful about the drugs they market to children (49).
She was also involved in the Women in Public Service Project (50) a State Department partnership with all-female colleges geared to bringing more women into the public sector.
In 2012, just before stepping down as secretary of state, Hillary created the “Saving Mothers, Giving Life “initiative” to fight infant mortality in sub-Saharan Africa (51). That same year, right after it was announced that Barack Obama had won the second term, Trump claimed that Obama’s five-million vote landslide was “rigged.” (52).
Now that we know where the candidates have been, let's examine where they plan to go. It's no secret that presidents wield immense power, making thousands of decisions that impact not only 320,000,000 living Americans, but future generations, not to mention billions of people abroad. Hillary Clinton’s governing agenda forms one decision tree and set of human consequences, Trump’s forms another; more than any other criteria, rational, informed adults will base their vote on the contrasting results of these two decision trees.
To justify not voting for the Democratic candidate this fall, some on the left have peddled the notion that there is a major policy chasm between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In this framing, Hillary is "Republican light," closer to Trump than she is to Bernie Sanders.
As Bernie himself has said many times, this contention is wildly false. While they were both in the Senate, Hilary and Bernie voted together 93% of the time (53). Far from being “Republican light,” Hillary was the 11th most liberal senator (54), placing her to the left of three-fourths of the Democratic caucus and all of the Republicans.
Clinton now leads a Democratic Party that put up its most liberal platform ever last summer (55). With some exceptions, Clinton promises an extension of the center-left direction of Barrack Obama, and she might fight harder for some progressive priorities.
On the other side of the aisle, Trump heads a GOP that appears to be hurtling backward, a party further to the right on many issues than previous Republican leaders who were considered extreme at the time, such as Ronald Reagan and George W Bush (56).
Over the course of the campaign, Clinton has released a long list of progressive proposals that offer a stark contrast to her Republican rival, including policies dealing with the reform of drug laws (57), assistance to caregivers for the elderly and disabled (580, prescription drug imports from Canada (59), autism (60), drug and alcohol addiction (61), Alzheimer’s disease (62), and healthcare for veterans (63).
Clinton plans to protect and build on Obama’s major achievement , the Affordable Care Act (64), which has brought healthcare to 20 million Americans who would otherwise not have it. Trump wants to repeat the act, and with it coverage for millions of Americans (65). He promises to replace the law, but has provided few specifics about what he would replace it with.
While Clinton has rolled out workable education reform proposals for both K-12 and college students (66), Trump has offered the state Republican orthodoxy of tax write-offs and “school choice” (privatization) which would in many instances violate the separation of church and state by using public funds for religious organizations (67).
The candidates' positions on taxation are radically different. Clinton would pay for her targeted social investments with tax increases on the wealthy, including a steep tax on real estate interests (68). Trump has proposed a tax plan that could add ten trillion dollars to the debt in its first decade (69) and further increase America’s sky-high income inequality by slashing taxes on corporations and multi-millionaires (70), including Trump himself, who would gain a a massive windfall if his proposal became a reality (71).
Clinton, who presciently advocated stronger oversight of Wall Street before the crash of 2008 (72), has vowed to enforce Dodd-Frank, Barack Obama’s bill to reign in Big Finance (73), and proposed further regulations of financial interests, a plan endorsed by Elizabeth Warren. Trump, who routine foams at the mouth about the evils of regulation—even food safety regulations- would follow the long-time GOP playbook of letting Wall Street police itself that gave us The Great Depression and the Great Recession of 2008. (74)
The candidates diverge sharply on environmental issues. Clinton, who has received the endorsements of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters (75), would continue Obama’s impressive green legacy by supporting investments in clean energy (76), strong environmental regulations (77), both national and international efforts to combat climate change (78), and the creation of national monuments (79). Trump, whose energy policies were created by extraction industry lobbyists (80), has claimed climate change was a “Chinese hoax” (81), attacked the Obama Administration repeatedly for steering the U.S. away from dirty, dirty coal (82), and said he would get rid of Obama’s plan to force utilities to use cleaner fuels (83), a policy Clinton supports (84). And, like Republican predecessors Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, Trump would most likely appease GOP allies and campaign contributors by underfunding the Environmental Protection Agency, appointing staff with hostility to the environment to key posts, and gutting environmental regulations (85).
More than anything, Trump owes his candidacy to his promises to get tough on illegal immigrants, inflammatory and dishonest words which have particular resonance with uninformed white people who are geographically remote from he Mexican border (86). If we are to take him at his word, Trump would deport immigrants at will (87) and initiate the construction of an enormously expensive wall (88) that would alienate us from our neighbors. Hillary Clinton supports a much more balanced, comprehensive immigration reform plan (88) which would enhance border security, help bring people out of the shadows and into society (and the tax base), allow families to stay intact, and require far less in the way of government resources (taxpayer money).
Mexican-Americans aren't the only people of color who would be harmed by a Trump presidency. While Hillary has met with the mothers of black victims of police violence (89), Trump has exploited white privilege (and ignorance, 90) with the constant dog whistle statements about “law and order,” just as Richard Nixon did in 1968 when leveraging white Southern anger over the Civil Rights Act. Among Trump’s policy ideas to restore order is to support for stop-and-risk laws (91) which were ruled unconstitutional, as they inordinately impact black and Latino Americans.
Though claiming to support law and order, and frequently referring to inner cities as hellish, Trump has offered nothing of substance to deal with America’s epidemic of gun violence. Where Clinton has suggested limited, common sense gun control proposals (92), Trump has bragged about his NRA endorsement and demagogued the issue (93), at various points saying he would sign a law allowing guns in school zones on his first day in office (94), ludicrously claiming that Clinton wants to “end the Second Amendment” (95), and implying assassination by saying that “Second Amendment people could act against Hillary Clinton (96).”
And where Clinton would use her Justice Department to challenge Republican voter ID laws (97) passed with the sole intention of disenfranchising people of color (laws Clinton’s lawyers have already sued to overturn in court, 98), Trump supports these bills (99), and the lies that underpin them. Trump repeatedly claims that we should be on the watch for voter fraud on November 8 (100), when in fact the infinitely greater (and only real) problem will be voter suppression, which may disenfranchise 1.3 million voters in the swing states alone. Changing the composition of the federal courts could kill these pernicious measure outright, particularly if Clinton was allowed to choose one or two Supreme Court judges.
Trump would also try to codify bigotry by treating gay and lesbian Americans as second-class citizens. While Clinton has received the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign for supporting marriage equality and other priorities of the LGBT community (101), Trump has vowed to rescind Obama’s pro-LGBT orders (102) and sign legislation allowing discrimination against the LGBT community (103) very similar to the “religious freedom” bill his running mate Mike Pence signed as governor of Indiana (104). (Governor Pence also backed conversion therapy intended to convince LGBT individuals that they should be straight (105) and opposed needle exchange, which exacerbated an HIV outbreak that later occurred in Indiana (106).]
Trump has embraced an eleventh-hour pro-life stance (107), and even spoken of the need to punish women who exercise their reproductive rights (108). Clinton, on the other hand, would protect a woman’s right to choose through Justice Department enforcement of clinic access laws (109), lawsuits against states that try to limit choice (110), and the appointment of judges—to both the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts—who would protect Roe v. Wade (111).
Trump has expressed a wish to kill funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that Hillary has always backed 100% (112), for which she received their endorsement during the Democratic primary (113). Remarkably, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence may be even worse than Trump on women’s issues. While still in Congress, Pence introduced the first measures to de-fund Planned Parenthood (114), which he brought up on several occasions (115); as governor, his wish came true (116). Governor Pence also signed a bill that required funerals to be held for aborted fetuses. (117).
In addition to appointing reactionary right-wing judges who would take us back 50 or 60 years (or more), a President Trump would appoint a host of noxious Republicans to government positions, just as George W Bush did. Trump suggested he would name New Jersey governor Chris Christie (best known for causing a major traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge out of political spite) chief of staff (118) and Trey Gowdy, the hyperpartisan lightweight who helmed the kangaroo-court Benghazi hearings, to be the attorney general of the United States (119).
As an added bonus, Trump would like to name Rudy Giuliani, the quasi-Fascist former mayor of New York City who implemented stop and frisk (see numbers 38 and 91), the head of the Homeland Security Department (120). By contrast, Hillary could be counted on to fill most appointments with seasoned professionals who would take the historic missions of their agencies seriously (121).
Amazingly, Trump may pose more danger to U.S. foreign policy than he does to American domestic policy, where he would at least be checked by Democrats in Congress.
His opponent, Hillary Clinton, spent eight years traveling abroad as first lady (122) and logged more miles than any secretary of state in U.S. history (123). As secretary of state, her diplomatic skills contributed to many successful policies, including but not limited to the international sanctions that coaxed Iran to the negotiating table (124), the deal itself (125), in which Iran gave up their nuclear aspirations, the normalization of relations with Cuba (126), the START Treaty with Russia (127), and the climate change agreement in Copenhagen (128). Trump, called “the worst major-party candidate this republic has ever produced” by the non-partisan magazine Foreign Policy (129), is so ill-suited to being commander-in-chief that 50 Republican national security officials said Trump "would be the most reckless president in American history” and endorsed Hillary Clinton (130).
Clinton being sworn in as Secretary of State
Based on his steady stream of bellicose rhetoric, Trump threatens to return us to the policies of George W Bush that eroded our alliances and lowered America’s standing in the world (131). Trump has frequently attacked the Iran peace deal in hyperbolic terms, and while Clinton has promised not to send troops to Iraq or Syria, Trump the Draft Dodger (see number 13) has delivered one saber-rattling line after another, continually referring to Barack Obama’s caution about sending other peoples' sons and daughters into harm's way as “weakness” (132). In addition to talking tough about ISIS non-stop, Trump said he won’t protect NATAO allies who don’t “pay us.” (133)
While Barack Obama, like other presidents before him -including conservative Republican Ronald Reagan—has worked to reduce nuclear stockpiles around the world, Trump suggested that Japan and South Korea should join the nuclear club (134).
Where Hillary Clinton has promised to follow the Geneva Accords with regard to captured enemy combatants, Trump said that we should go back to waterboarding (135) and even killing the families of suspected terrorists (136) and suggested that the United States should expand the prison at Guantanamo Bay which has been an international disgrace to the U.S. (137).
Trump, like many seemingly straight Republican males, has demonstrated a bizarre man crush on Russian president Vladimir Putin, supporting the Russian government's hacking of
Democratic officials (138), praising Putin's leadership (139), and
claiming Russia wasn’t in the Ukraine, even though they had annexed Crimea (140).
Aggressive military actions, thumbing our nose at allies and international human rights norms, and palling around with Putin are unlikely to maintain the international good will Barack Obama has spent eight years patiently restoring in the wake of George W. Bush's cowboy unilateralism. The best we can hope for if Trump gets elected is that we find out he was kidding this whole time in order to appeal to his paleoconservative base.
"I don't like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see"
Years ago, Theodore Roosevelt was described as having “a second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament.” The implication was that though there had been smarter men in the
Oval Office, Roosevelt’s cool head more than made up for it. Exhibiting grace under pressure (i.e. having a strong character) is a prerequisite for a successful presidency.
To distract the American public from the issues that matter, the Republican Party has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars (and hundreds of hours of taxpayer-funded congressional investigations) trying to attack Hillary Clinton's character with half-baked claims that she is corrupt, dishonest, untrustworthy.
The allegations of corruption are brazenly hypocritical, as Clinton is a Girl Scout next to Richard Nixon (Watergate), Ronald Reagan (Iran-Contra) and George W Bush (WMD lies), and Trump has a sizeable record of corruption himself.
The rap on Hillary's honesty is equally dubious. Clinton, a record 20-time winner of Gallup’s most admired woman award (141), has high marks among fact checkers, getting the same ratings for honesty as Bernie Sanders (142), while Trump is shown to lie more often than he tells the truth (143). Trump is so dishonest that his bankruptcy lawyers claimed they met with him in pairs so that he wouldn’t be able to twist their words afterwards (144).
As to character, Hillary Clinton has consistently maintained her composure in high profile, high pressure roles as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and as a presidential candidate, where she took a scalpel to Trump in three successive debates (145). Despite decades of very personal and often unfair attacks from the left and right, Hillary has not broken (146). By contrast, Donald Trump has repeatedly blown up at the smallest personal slights (147) and revealed the personality of an adolescent who views women as little more than sex objects.
Long before Trump re-posted classy Tweets such as “mplefty67: If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?,” (148), or questioned Hillary Clinton’s “stamina” (149), or had his surrogate Rudy Giuliani (see numbers 38, 91, and 120) level ageist insinuations about Hillary Clinton’s physical health (150), he made multiple appearances on Howard Stern’s show, where he received the sobriquet “Donald the Douchebag.” In his role as Donald the Douchebag, Trump showed no objection when Howard Stern referred to his daughter as “a piece of ass” (151) and when asked if his daughter had gotten breast implants, Trump said, “She’s actually always been voluptuous.” (152) In another interview with Stern, Trump said it was “check out time” for women once they turn 35 (153).
Long before the video revelation that a 59-year-old Trump had bragged about being able to grab women’s pussies because he was a star (154), Trump called Miss Universe “an eating machine,” (155) said it was hard for a flat-chested women to be a 10 (156), claimed he could have “gotten” Princess Di not long after her untimely death (157), and told an attractive contestant on his reality TV show, “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.”
Long before 12, 13, 14, 15-and-counting women came forward with accusations against Trump of improper physical advances (158), his hostility toward women spilled over into public feuds (159) with Rosie O’Donnell (whom he called “a fat pig”) and Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Trump’s prejudices have not been limited to women. He first dipped his toes in murky political waters when he played to the racist Republican right by questioning the location of Barack Obama’s birth (160), a conspiracy theory that had been thoroughly debunked years earlier, than later “took credit” for getting Obama to release his long-form birth certificate (161).
Trump went from a novelty candidate to the Republican frontrunner by referring to Mexicans as “rapists” (see number 86). He later extended his nativist-baiting to Muslims, opposing the immigration of refugees from Syria’s civil war to the United States (162), even supporting an outright ban on Muslims (163). At other times he proposed an ideological litmus test for new immigrants (164) and racial profiling based on religion (165).
Lest anyone wonder if these were just short-term campaign stunts geared to stirring up the primitive emotions that dominate Republican primaries, Trump doubled down on prejudice with two of the most suicidal moves of the general election campaign: questioning the integrity of a Mexican-American judge (166) who was presiding over a case related to Trump University (see number 10) and engaging in a series of Twitter attacks on the Gold Star family of a Muslim war hero (167)
Judge Gonzalo Curiel
Sadly, Trump's bigotry is not limited to Mexicans, Muslims, or women.
In February, Trump refused to condemn the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke (168), an enthusiastic supporter. In July of this year, Trump tweeted an image of a six-pointed star next to a pile of money for Hillary Clinton (169), afterward denying the clear anti-semitic intent of the Tweet (170).
In September of this year, the former spouse of Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon—an accused wife-beater (171) - said that Bannon had kept his daughters out of school because there were too many “whiny” Jewish brats there (172). Nor surprisingly, Trump who has re-tweeted posts from white power groups (173), has the backing of White supremacists (174).
In addition to insulting Mexicans, Muslims, women, and Jewish-Americans, Trump famously mocked a disabled reporter (175) who had the gall to point out that Trump had lied about New Jersey Muslims celebrating the events of 9/11 (176), then later claimed he hadn't been aware that the reporter was disabled, though they had known each other for years (177).
Women, Mexicans, Muslims, Jewish-Americans, and the disabled are far from alone, as Trump has issued hundreds of petty insults on Twitter (178).
In sum, if you want the lowest common denominator in the White House, an emotionally-stunted narcissist and braggart with serious anger management problems and racist, sexist, and Islamophobic tendencies, an entitled, right-wing demagogue with backward, mean-spirited, and dangerous ideas and no government experience, whose policy knowledge could fit on the head of a pin, Donald Trump is your man.
If you prefer inclusion, decades of hands-on experience, a steady temperament, a first-class mind, and forward-thinking policies, pull the lever for Hillary Clinton.
For Americans who care about the future, the choice could not be clearer.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Married couple, poet Marlon Fick & Spanish painter Francisca Esteve are translating Catalan poetry for Tupelo Press . . .
Guest Blogger Marlon L Fick:
Translating Catalan Poetry
In the Fall of 2015, the editor of Tupelo Press, Jeffrey Levine, suggested that I and my wife, Francisca, collaborate in translating Catalan poetry. The two of us were viewed as capable of such a project: Francisca Esteve is a native speaker of Catalan, one who came of age in Franco’s time and who, along with nine million other speakers of Catalan, suffered from laws forbidding her language. On the other hand, my activities as a translator have principally been with Spanish and French, with forays into German and Chinese. In the 1960s and 70s, Francisca met regularly (at the same café frequented by George Orwell, by the Plaza del Pi in Barcelona) with her friends in the anti-fascist underground to talk strategy and plan ways to subvert the Franco government. If you were lucky, overheard speaking Catalan, a Tricornio (the police with three pointed hats), would shake a finger and shout, “Speak Christian!” (meaning, Castilian Spanish); if unlucky, prison. Her job was to smuggle and disseminate books and pamphlets in the Catalan language. During this time, Franco murdered an additional one million people in his prisons, adding to the civil war’s death toll of two million.
Now Franco is gone. Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, flourishes with numerous publishing houses dedicated to Catalan. In addition, Catalan continues to be spoken in Cataluña (and its four provinces), València, Balearic Islands (Mallorca and Minorca) and Andorra. Catalan developed about the same time as the other romance languages—French, Italian—in the thirteenth century, and by coincidence, the Anglo Saxon and French/Latin hybrid of English during the time of Chaucer. The thirteenth century mystical and erotic poet, Ramon Llull, the author of The Book of Love and the Beloved (Llibre D’Amic I Amat), was the first great master. A poet of his magnitude is a necessary condition for a language to fully bloom. English had Shakespeare; Russian, Tolstoy; Spanish, Cervantes, etc….
The task of translating in the magnificent shadow of Catalan’s rich past is daunting and humbling. However, since my wife is a natural speaker, and since my Spanish and French are strong and my training is in the history of poetics, we agreed to take up Tupelo Press on the challenge.
In May of 2016, we traveled to Cataluña and València to meet with dozens of poets, among them Joan Margarit, Màrius Sampere, David Castillo, Jordi Valls, Josep Piera, Maria Josep Escrivà, Francesc Parcerisas, Manuel Forcano, Antoni Marí, and Feliu Formosa.
Others we contacted by mail: Teresa Pascual, Ponç Pons, Cèlia Sànchez-Mústich, Laia Noguera, Anna Gual, Jordi Virallonga, Narcís Comadira, Mireia Vidal-Conte, Àngels Gregori i Parra, Rosa Font, and Antonia Vicens.
Long, intense, and delightful conversations ensued. Josep Piera met us at in the train station of Gandìa, València, around 11:00 A.M., we began talking (about history, poetry, poetic movements, the history of València, politics, paella…) and before any of us realized, it was suddenly three o’clock in the morning!
Similarly, Jordi Valls met us on several occasions at Bracafé by the Plaza Cataluña, thereupon taking us on long walking tours of the city, teaching us, peripatetically, the interrelations of art, architecture, history, and poetry.
Others, like Antoni Marí, graciously filled us in on Petrarch’s contributions to Catalan Literature.
Joan Margarit and I exchanged our views on poets and translations; we received from Margarit and Sampere and Parcerisas extremely good advise on what sort of direction our anthology should take. Margarit, for example, explained why Pere Gimferrar, although a brilliant poet in Spanish, did not represent Catalan literature. But it was Carme Sampere, Marius’ wife, who helped us contact the important women writing in Catalan. Sampere’s generation (he was born in 1928) tended to dismiss talented women owing to a culture of machismo, although he himself shows no signs of such bias.
By August, we had received as gifts hundreds of books to survey, in addition to the hundreds we purchased ourselves. The most common question a poet or potential reader asks is “What is your criteria for selection?” All of the aforementioned have already established their fame at home, many of them are already known internationally. Yet I am less interested in accolades than I am in the poem I see on a page. There is a brilliant poet in Barcelona, but the references in his poems are so local, that translating his poetry would entail a long list of explanatory footnotes, and his poems would have become lost in translation.
As we translated (which we are still doing currently) we grew a vision: we would only translate poems that both of us liked, whether the enjoyment grew from the richness of the language or from a particular theme. I want to be moved. In addition, my wife’s background is in painting, not poetry. To be sure, she is smart, but this anthology represents her first introduction to the world of poetry (in any language). So I rely on her freshness. If an intelligent reader, not academically trained in poetry, is moved by a poem, I sit up and take notice. My own half-century of involvement in poetry may be valuable, but I cannot claim to see poetry “for the first time.” This is an element of magic that I decided we could make essential to our process. One day, she emerged from her office in a state of childlike joy and amazement, clutching a volume by Sampere, exclaiming, “Sampere wrote a poem about stoplights that you have to read!”
Regarding our method, Francisca first reads and glosses the poetry, often tracking down dialect differences between Catalan in Catalonia and Catalan differences in Valencia or Mallorca. She is usually aware of the differences without a dictionary since she was born in Castellón de Rugat, València. Her parents took her to Barcelona with she was three months old. Her mother, Valenciana, continued to speak Catalan from that region. Her teachers, who were nuns, were all from Minorca. So Francisca has a grasp of all three dominant dialects of Catalan. When we encounter dialect differences, in the poetry of Pons (Minorcan) and Piera (Valenciano), Francisca hears her mother’s voice again, or the voices of the Sisters. We both study the poem in Catalan. We discuss the poem in Spanish and in English. She tells me her version of the poem and I write my version in English. After we’ve done this, I read back my version to her, verbally translating my English into Spanish as she carefully follows the original text in Catalan. This is a process known as “back translation,” a method dreamed up by Saint Cyrus, the man responsible for translating the Vulgate Latin Bible in the fifth century. In this way, we are confident that we have insured fidelity. However, we do not end there. Once we are confident, we send our version back to the poet, some of whom do know English (Parcerisas is quite famous for his translations of English renaissance poets, including Shakespeare and Donne). The other poets who do not know English share our translations with a trusted friend and then formally approve of the translation, or, in some cases, suggest changes.
We have tried to avoid mistakes made by a well known and extremely prolific translator of Catalan Literature, D. Sam Adams. Mr. Adam’s translations are often so literal and so word for word that he loses the drift of the whole poem. His translations are published by The Institute of North American Studies. It is an unfortunate venue due to its obscurity. By working with Tupelo Press, we may be assured that Catalan literature will reach a far broader audience. Also, I have been told that I am not, like Adams, an “academic translator.” As a poet, with some success, my translations stand a better chance at appearing seamless, although as for that, the act of poetry is more often a cousin to failure than to success. But it is a failure that redeems us. Translators routinely experience frustration and pain when encountering impossible, beautifully lyric lines that repeat a word with multiple uses. Josep Piera writes “I vol la veu que veu al vol,” which, sadly, becomes “and the voice wants to see flight,” a line without its original chiasmus since there are no English words which double their signification the same way. Similarly, he writes, “Cau la nit com un cau,” again translated without its original lyric breadth: “Night falls like a lair.” For this reason, translation editions should always be bilingual.
In reading and conversations, we soon learned that Catalan Literature is dominantly a poetry of lyric tradition. Most does not attempt to tell a story; indeed the existence of some narrative poetry in Catalan is a borrowing from the English and American tradition. Also, the chief external influence on Catalan tradition comes from the French, in particular, the French Symbolist movement. Catalan poets are profoundly familiar with Verlaine, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Laforgue, etc. When asked to define the movement, I find myself at a loss. A symbol, by its very essence, is a centrifugal force of meaning, spinning just beyond our grasp. Just so, the symbolist may write lines that extend beyond the edges of clarity to a hazy area between the world of reference and the beyond. The influence of the symbolists affected Catalan as much as it did the British and Americans—notably Yeats and Eliot.
While the influence of the French Symbolists has not dissipated even now, a second influence crept into Catalan letters, latently, after the death of Franco. The American beat generation. Younger Catalan poets, like David Castillo, are wild about our miscreants, valorizing their anarchy. In the summer of 2016, both the Pompidou, in Paris, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona held special exhibitions dedicated to the Beat Generations. Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Kerouac are idolized among some of the younger poets, only recently discovering them. My own personal misgivings about such an influence have more to due with the lives these poets led than with their actual work: some of them used drugs excessively and preached anarchy, but the baseness of their lives reaches even into sex trafficking, a crime for which they were run out of Morocco. Not to mention, they were uniformly misogynistic. It was my great misfortune to have known some of them personally and rather well. They are not my role models, but it would be an oversight not to mention their influence here.
*Translations from Catalan by Francisca Esteve and Marlon L. Fick
A Christmas Letter to My Father
I was never a hunter. I liked to visit Biniguarda
with you to see the dogs run or the partridges sing.
When we came back to Lô, we walked and listened to church bells.
The world was joyful and safe because you held my hand along the way.
At home with my mother, watching her cook, we found my brothers
and there was great joy and so many of us, and we all had dinner
and listened to the radio.
Saturday evening, I took a bath in a wash tub, and later you held me
in the rocking chair.
With the humble faith of the poor, you told me, “Poncet, one day we will
be rich. We have land in Havana!” but to me that wasn’t important
because I had you. At home you filled me with kindness with your blue eyes.
I was the baby of the family, the one who listened the most to your stories
about witches and dragons, or your fear filled chatter about the civil war.
Many evenings you returned exhausted from the factory and spent
extra time on your feet cutting pieces of leather, up in your bedroom
till late. I read, voraciously, all of the old books about that famous uncle
from your side of the family, the one who was the confessor for two popes
and other ecclesiastics in Rome.
I see you always satisfied.
You were wearing an apron and you had a pencil in your ear.
I often went to see you at Ca’s Toribios
and you kissed me, happy, and your mustache was scratchy.
When your salary was so meager it dissolved in the can,
you hugged mother and with a lively gesture you smiled at her,
“Maria, everything will be clarified!” and she clarified everything,
and we grew up happy.
You made us Menorcans, and with facts for examples, you told us
that we had to be good people.
Don’t get lost in the woods.
When you hear the bells as it gets dark
and you come back alone
on the paths of the dead, I will give you my hand
and I will come to your side
to hear your stories and hear you talk to me without fear
of the civil war.
I hope you are fine and there are newspapers in heaven
and you can hunt any time.
You didn’t care so much about politics.
If you see God, tell him that He didn’t clarify anything,
that between war and hunger, He left a frightening world.
Christmas is a sad time for me, and it’s as if the nativity scenes were missing
their old joy. Their little stars are dim and the figurines of shepherds are not smiling.
Always there is a worm that gnaws at me, and it hurts.
Since you’ve been gone, I’ve felt the weight of a terrible emptiness
and I don’t want you to die, father, anymore.
In the Middle of the Night
In the middle of the night
the air is freezing,
so cold the nightingale won’t sing.
With my forehead pressed against the window,
I ask my two dead daughters
because I rarely think about them anymore.
Time has left dry clay over the scars. And besides,
when one loves someone, forgetfulness follows.
Light has the same hardness
as days that fall from frozen cypress trees.
I place a log, stir the ashes,
and the flames flare up from the coals.
As I’m starting the coffee, your mother,
from the bedroom, smiling, and with your voice, says
“What a wonderful smell. You have risen so early this morning.”
I am completely alone with God. Both
of us occupy and complete a room.
That’s why I can’t explain
the little noise from someone else
who is eating
in the room, and who is so full, so satiated
with God and me.
First, I examine the place inch by inch,
then the surface of the table.
And there it is…
a primitive nest just in the wedge
maintaining the balance of the four legs.
There is where I find the termite,
Photograph description, copyright information, and web link information
Tupelo Press web logo photo
Jeffrey Levine web photo from tupelo press.
Francisca Esteve and Marlon Fick in Paris, France. July 2016
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George Orwell’s Press Card ID in 1943.
Plaza del Pi in Barcelona
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Franco on October 23, 1975
Poster of the murdered victims and missing of Franco’s massacres.
Map of Cataluña and its four provinces.
Jacket cover of The Book of Love and the Beloved
Tupelo Press Facebook photo
Joan Margarit and Marlon Fick
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Marius Sampere and Marlon Fick
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Marlon Fick, David Castillo, and a friend
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Maria Josep Escriva
Francesc Parcerisas and Marlon Fick
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Manuel Forcano and Marlon Fick
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Francisca Esteve and Feliu Formosa
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Mireia Vidal-Conte, web logo photo
Angels Gregori I Parra
Josep Piera and Marlon Fick
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Jordi Valls and Marlon Fick
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Antoni Marí and Marlon Fick
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Joan Margarit web logo photo
Francisca Esteve, Màrius Sampere, Marlon Fick, and Carme Sampere
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Marlon Fick and Francisca Esteve
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Francisca Esteve and her painting
The Vulgate Latin Bible
William S. Burroughs