Rothman At-Large

Donald Trump and The Jill Stein Paradox: Get Out of the Race NOW, Jill

September 1, 2016

An endearing goal of Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential candidate, is to “Protect the rights of future generations.” 


No, I don’t agree with Stein and the Greens on everything, but I certainly would here: “Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines.” Bravo, Jill!


Isn’t it a bit of a paradox, however, that you hate gambling with the future sea levels and the rest, but you’re turning the 2016 Presidential race into too much of a crapshoot---and increasing the chances we’ll elect an oil-loving fascist like Donald Trump? Mind you, most pundits still favor Hillary Clinton. But here’s the word from NBC: “In a four-way general election match-up, Clinton leads with 41 percent, a 4-point margin over Trump (37 percent). Libertarian Gary Johnson maintains 11 percent of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein holds steady with 5 percent.”


So, yes, Dana Milbank at the Washington Post was on the money with his commentary headlined From Jill Stein, disturbing echoes of Ralph Nader. The election really might be close enough for you to make the wrong kind of difference. A Green vote cast in Georgetown won’t do any harm. But it might in a state like Ohio.


You attack “the politics of fear.” Well, I’ll confess to fear, a rational emotion. I live within easy roasting range of an H bomb dropped on D.C. I’ve already told how, while in elementary school, Donald Trump gave a teacher a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music.” And now Trump says his current temperament “is not that different.” Do we really want Trump to be the one dealing with Putin if the two fall out of favor on Twitter? Everything is personal to The Donald.


Granted, Hillary isn’t my favorite---I voted for Bernie Sanders myself. I think establishment Dems stacked the deck against him, and I’d also worry about Hillary relapsing back toward her old trade policies and not caring sufficiently about labor, health, and environmental protections. Not to mention the email server questions. Furthermore, I take it for granted she’ll be more of an interventionist abroad than I would like. Still, at least Clinton has not been described by a U.K. research firm as being among the top ten risks facing the world. 

If nothing else, Trump will do his best to roll back Obama’s environmental policies, which, although not everything you and I prefer, are a far cry from what The Donald would give us. 


Oh, and how would you like Trump-nominated members of the Supreme Court to stymie progressives for decades? And do you want The Donald’s attorney-general  to be able to fire the FBI director when Trump himself rose to prominence with help from the mob-tied lawyer Roy Cohn? Or how about massive deportation raids ruining the lives of productive people who’ve lived here for years?


Jill, you don’t go to a Trump casino to roll the dice. But in this volatile race, that’s actually what you’re doing in a sense by not withdrawing and endorsing Clinton. There’s always next election. With Trump, given the risk of an outright dictatorship, there just might not be another “next time” for years to come. He talks of rigging---methinks that’s self-projection. 


Needless to say, while I myself am a progressive, I would also encourage my libertarian and conservative friends to vote for Hillary Clinton. 

I take it for granted they hate her politics and personality. Still, remember the alternative, Trump’s jack-boot politics. Under him we’ll be the antithesis of the America of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts---and very possibly even Ronald Reagan. This gamble we don’t need.

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President Trump's Enemies List

July 31, 2016

Richard Nixon’s enemies list was a black-tie affair. What a party! The twenty original names included such luminaries as film star Paul Newman, Congress member Ron Dellums, and journalist Daniel Schorr. Some powerfulVIPs almost felt slighted not to make The List.


The Nixon people later added scores of other individuals, as well as groups, but they could conveniently amass only so many names, given how primitive the technology was compared to today.


Of course, there was also the earlier McCarthy era, with its less exclusive blacklists of scads of subversives. But at least Sen. Joseph McCarthy didn’t sit in the Oval Office. Nor could he track ordinary Americans to the extent that law-enforcement and intel agencies can today—if nothing else, by monitoring social media postings on Facebook and elsewhere.


Now flash ahead to the possible presidency of one Donald Trump and consider the need within the bounds of ethics to pull out all stops to prevent him from sullying the White House. We already understand how vindictive and litigation-minded The Donald can be—just look at his  dreams of using the presidency to make antitrust trouble for Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, to name one of many examples. But did you know that Trump has his own indirect McCarthy ties, by way of the late Roy Cohn


Having served as one of McCarthy’s most vicious aides, Cohn went on to eventually become a thuggish lawyer for Trump, as documented in The Truth about Trump, a well-researched biography by Michael D’Antonio, a veteran journalist who helped Newsday win a Pulitzer.


Cohn tutored Trump in press manipulation and during the Nixon administration did his best to bully a young Justice Department attorney working on an anti-discrimination suit against The Donald.


Might Trump and his allies give us a turbocharged reinvention of McCarthyism, using databases to track his enemies with far more than Stasi- and KGB-level efficiency? And could an outspoken ebook, pbook or blog turn into a genuine threat to your health—maybe even a fatal one, if Trump emulates his hero Putin, under whom so many Russian journalist have died under suspicious circumstances? Keep in mind Trump’s own love of violence, as demonstrated by his incitement of it at his rallies.


The conventional wisdom among establishment Republicans is that the usual suspects would tame Trump rather than the other way around, one excuse that major GOP politicians have used to justify their party’s bizarre nominee for President. I’m not so certain of that. If you read the D’Antonio book, you’ll find a recurring pattern in The Donald’s life—a grotesque swollen ego and a hair-trigger temper mixed with an eagerness to inflict pain on others. “At Kew-Forest,” D’Antonio writes of his subject’s elementary school days, “Donald Trump was a bit of a terror. He once said that he gave a teacher a black eye ‘because I didn’t think he knew anything about music.’ According to Trump, he was then already the person he would always be. ‘I don’t think people change very much,’ Trump would tell me. ‘When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.'”


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The Orlando Massacre: How Books & Tech-Era Empathy Building Might Have Saved 49 Lives

June 13, 2016

The Donald was predictable in the wake of the Orlando horrors, when 49 people died and 53 were wounded in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. He tweeted:


Donald J. Trump


Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

12:43 PM - 12 Jun 2016


Do we really need Trump-style “toughness,” however, against Muslims, complete with a ban on their coming here?


Instead we need stricter laws against powerful weapons, more money for mental health counseling, faster identification of potential beneficiaries of therapy, and smarter homeland security in general. (The killer was even able to work for a private security firm.) Yes, those should be the main precautions.


But how about something else—a concerted effort to use libraries and schools to promote empathy in American society, including empathy toward people with different religious, political or sexual preferences? That, in turn, should mean more encouragement of reading, especially of certain books. Check out The K-12 and economic cases for a national digital library endowment on the LibraryCity site, and you’ll find detailed references to the powers of the right kind of books as empathy builders. Also of interest might be Cell phone book clubs: A new way for libraries to promote literacy, technology and community.


I’m not saying that this particular killer,  Omar Mateen, 29, a gay-hater born to Muslim immigrants, would have joined such a club on his own and turned into a law-abiding, community-minded soul. But given his love of technology, think about a different scenario. What if Mateen had undergone mental health counseling soon enough, including bibliotherapy (here and here), perhaps along with others in a cell phone book club targeted at individuals with similar problems?


Mateen did not just venerate radical Islam. He also loved his cell phone and social media, probably far more important to him than the Koran. What if society had reached out to him in a tech-savvy way, with bibliotherapy as part of this? It isn’t enough just to wage propaganda wars against ISIS online. Rather we also need to consider why maladjusted people like Mateen are susceptible in the first place to radical Islam (quite different from the peaceful mainstream version) and act accordingly.


Bibliotherapy, cell phone book clubs and the rest would hardly be definite preventatives. But perhaps this hate-filled bigot would have been less likely to go on to kill 49 gay people. He may not have stopped being a hater; but if nothing else, he might not have been so eager to listen to ISIS or the blood-thirsty demons inside him.

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