Killing Women at Half-Time

Some may not remember exactly why the US is still militarily present in Afghanistan. Many young people never knew. There is a good chance they are confusing the war there with wars of choice such as the intervention in Iraq. Those who are 22 now were five when the war started. Those who are 30 were only thirteen. It’s been seventeen years.

We did not go into that remote primitive country for fun. What happened is that on 9/11/2001 people we barely knew assassinated 3,000 people, civilians, in the heart of our biggest city.

Those responsible explained later why they had committed this crime. Their explanations were confused, confusing . They described American actions we could hardly have avoided except one. We had a few troops in Saudi Arabia. They were left over from an Iraqi attempt to invade that country. They were present by invitation of Saudi Arabia’s legitimate government, such as it was and is.

The real reason the 9/11 terrorists wanted to murder people in our country, civilians, and disrupt it is that they hated us, no matter what we did or did not do. They had murdered Americans before in the name of their view of their religion; they continued to kill us afterwards. They kill us now when they have a chance. In their view, the world is divided in two parts; there is the “land of Islam” and then, there is the “land of war.”* Like that.

If memory serves, on 9/11, all the terrorists were Saudi. What this has to do with Afghanistan was that their leaders, those who pulled the strings of this amazingly successful terrorist action, lived in the latter country. They prospered there under the protection of the national government of the Taliban. (Would you believe that “Taliban” means “student”?)

The US government, under the second Pres. Bush, asked the Taliban government to turn over the terrorist leaders to be tried. The Taliban declined. They declined again when the same terrorist leaders bragged about the 9/11 terrorist act in a video.

The US quickly invaded, followed shortly by many of its NATO allies. We conquered the country in a couple of weeks and we routed the Taliban. To my mind, the point of this military action so far from home was to make a single point:

If you kill Americans, very bad things will happen to you.

Seventeen years later, we have not made the point. We are about to prove that if you kill Americans, nothing much is going to happen to you. According to the fairly sedate Weekly Standard , the Taliban are winning. The US is openly hoping for a peace and power sharing agreement that the Taliban are openly rejecting.

What happened is that a new consensus emerged in this country. Both left and right are tired of shedding American blood and of committing treasure in unfamiliar countries. That’s in addition to the left ‘s mindless pacifism. (It’s mindless because it never stops to consider whether the lives saved today through passivity will lead to many more lives being sacrificed tomorrow.) The just war in Afghanistan has killed much fewer Americans in seventeen years that do opiates in a single year. Somehow, the young Americans who died in Afghanistan, all brave people who had volunteered, are more dead that the drug victims. Yet, it only takes three or four years for Chicagoans to murder as many Americans as died in Afghanistan in defense of their country.

Al Quaida, the author of 9/11 is till in Afghanistan plotting more terrorism. In addition, its more vigorous younger brother ISIS is firmly installed there spreading destruction in many parts of the world. It’s the same ISIS that, a very few years ago, burned some prisoners alive and drowned others in cages. It’s the same ISIS that organized the mass rape of women and of little girls in the territories it conquered in Iraq and in Syria.

The Taliban for their part, were never against healthy entertainment. When they were in power, they allowed soccer matches. There were men only in the bleachers. (Be reasonable.) The few women present were adulterers. Their role was to be shot in the head at half-time. (Not a rumor. It was filmed and shown on TV.) Those happy days are coming back because of our fickleness, or is it our cowardice?

Every two-bit bandit with ten memorized verses of the Koran and a rusty Kalashnikov is taking note. More alarmingly, so is an expanding and militaristic China.

Way to go America!

* I don’t think all Muslims believe this. Those who don’t are too quiet.

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The Real Cost of National Health Care

Around early August 2018, a research paper from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University by C. Blahous made both the Wall Street Journal and Fox News within two days. It also attracted attention widely in other media. Later, I thought I heard sighs of satisfaction from conservative callers on talk show radio whenever the paper came up.

One figure from the study came and stayed at the surface and was quoted correctly many times (rare occurrence) in the electronic media. The cost of what Senator Sanders proposed with respect to national health care was:

30 trillion US dollars over ten years (actually, 32.6 over thirteen years).

This enormous number elicited pleasure among conservatives because it seemed to underscore the folly of Senator Bernie Sander’s call for universal healthcare. It meant implicitly, federal, single-payer, federal government organized health care. It might be achieved simply by enrolling everyone in Medicare. I thought I could hear snickers of relief among my conservative friends because of the seeming absurdity of the gigantic figure. I believe that’s premature. Large numbers aren’t always all they appear to be.

Let’s divide equally the total estimate over ten years. That’s three trillion dollars per year. It’s also a little more than $10,000 per American, man, woman, child, and others, etc.

For the first year of the plan, Sanders’universal health care amounts to 17.5% of GDP per capita. GDP per capita is a poor but not so bad, really, measure of production. It’s also used to express average gross income. (I think that those who criticize this use of GDP per capita don’t have a substitute to propose that normal human beings understand, or wish to understand.) So it’s 17.5% of GDP/capita. The person who is exactly in the middle of the distribution of American income would have to spend 17.5% of her income on health care, income before taxes and such. That’s a lot of money.

Or, is it?

Let’s imagine economic growth (GDP growth) of 3% per years. It’s optimistic but it’s what conservatives like me think is a realistic target for sustained performance. From 1950 to 1990, GDP per capita growth reached of exceeded 3% for almost all years. It greatly exceeded 3% for several years. I am too lazy to do the arithmetic but I would be bet that the mean annual GDP growth for that forty -year period was well above 3%. So, it’s realistic and probably even modest.

A this 3% growth rate, in the tenth year, the US GDP per capita will be $76.600. At that point, federal universal health care will cost – unless it improves and thus becomes more costly – 13% of GDP per capita. This sounds downright reasonable, especially in view of the rapid aging of the American population.

Now, American conservative enemies of nationalized health care are quick to find instances of dysfunctions of such healthcare delivery systems in other countries. The UK system was the original example and such such, it accumulated mistakes. More recently, we have delighted in Canadian citizens crossing the border for an urgent heart operation their nationalized system could not produce for months: Arrive on Friday evening in a pleasant American resort. Have a good but reasonable dinner. Check in Sat morning. Get the new valve on Monday; back to Canada on Wednesday. At work on the next Monday morning!

The subtext is that many Canadians die because of a shortage of that great free health care: It nice if you can get it, we think. Of course, ragging on the Canadians is both fair and endlessly pleasant. Their unfailing smugness in such matters is like a hunting permit for mental cruelty!

In fact, though my fellow conservatives don’t seem to make much of an effort to find national health systems that actually work. Sweden has one, Denmark has one; I think Finland has one; I suspect Germany has one. Closer to home, for me, at least, France has one. Now, those who read my blog know that I am not especially pro-French or pro-France. But I can testify to a fair extent that the French National Healthcare works well. I have used it several times across the past fifty years. I have observed it closely on the occasion of my mother’s slow death.

The French national health system is friendly, almost leisurely, and prompt in giving you appointments including to specialists. It tends to be very thorough to the point of excessive generosity, perhaps. Yes, but you get what you pay for, I can hear you thinking – just like a chronically pessimistic liberal would. Well, actually, Frenchmen live at least three years longer on the average than do American men. And French women live even longer. (About the same as Canadians, incidentally.)

Now, the underlying reasoning is a bit tricky here. I am not stating that French people live longer than Americans because the French national healthcare delivery system is so superior. I am telling you that whatever may be wrong with the French system that escaped my attention is not so bad that it prevents the French from enjoying superior longevity. I don’t want to get here into esoteric considerations of the French lifestyle. And, no, I don’t believe it’s the red wine. The link between drinking red wine daily and cardiac good health is in the same category as Sasquatch: I dearly hope it exists but I am pretty sure it does not. So, I just wish to let you know that I am not crediting French health care out of turn.

The weak side of the French system is that it remunerates doctors rather poorly, from what I hear. I doubt French pediatricians earn $222,000 on the average. (Figure for American pediatricians according to the Wall Street Journal 8/17/18.) But I believe in market processes. France the country has zero trouble finding qualified candidates for its medical schools. (I sure hope none of my current doctors – whom I like without exception will read this. The wrong pill can so easily happen!)

By, the way, I almost forgot to tell you. Total French health care expenditure per person is only about half as high as the American. Rule of thumb: Everything is cheaper in the US than in other developed countries, except health care.

And then, closer to home, there is a government health program that covers (incompletely) about 55 million Americans. It’s not really “universal” even for the age group it targets because one must have contributed to benefit. (Same in France, by the way, at least in principle.) It’s universal in the sense that everyone over 65 who has contributed qualifies. It’s nogt a charity endeavor. Medicare often slips the minds of critical American conservatives, I suspect, I am guessing, because there are few complaints about it.

That’s unlike the case for another federal health program for example, the Veterans’, which is scandal ridden and badly run. It’s also unlike, Medicaid which has the reputation of being rife with financial abuse. It’s unlike the federally run Indian Health Service that is on the verge of being closed for systemic incompetence.

I suspect Medicare works well because of a large number of watchful beneficiaries who belong to the age group in which people vote a great deal. My wife and I are both on Medicare. We wish it would cover us 100% , although we are both conservatives, of course! Other than that, we have no complaints at all.

Sorry for the seeming betrayal, fellow conservatives! Is this a call for universal federal health care in America? It’s not, for two reasons. First, every country with a good national health system also has an excellent national civil service, France, in particular. I have no confidence, less than ever in 2018, that the US can achieve the level of civil service quality required. (Less in 2018 because of impressive evidence of corruption in the FBI and in the Justice Department, after the Internal Revenue Service).

Secondly, when small government conservatives (a redundancy, I know) attempt to promote their ideas for good government primarily on the basis of practical considerations, they almost always fail. Ours is a political and a moral posture. We must first present our preferences accordingly rather than appeal to practicality. We should not adopt a system of health delivery that will, in ten years, attribute the management of 13 % of our national income to the federal government because it’s not infinitely trustworthy. We cannot encourage the creation of a huge category of new federal serfs (especially of well paid serfs) who are likely forever to constitute a pro-government party. We cannot, however indirectly, give the government most removed from us, a right of life and death without due process.

That simple. Arguing this position looks like heavy lifting, I know but look at the alternative.

PS I like George Mason University a high ranking institution of higher learning that gives a rare home to conservative American scholars and I like its Mercatus Center that keeps producing high-level research that is also practical.

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Les supremacistes blancs a Washington

 

Mes chers amis francophones: A la grande manifestation des “nationalistes blancs ” du 11 Aout, a Washington DC, il y avait trente manifestants, peut-etre meme quarante, et beaucoup plus de policiers, et dix fois plus, ou vingt fois plus de contre-manifestants. Ceux_ci etaient decus, bien sur. Mettez_vous a leur place. Ils avaient apporte leurs casques, leurs masques, leurs matraques, tout le barda, plus leurs ecriteaux anti_fascistes. (Oui, c’est bien des contre_manifestants que je parle, sans exageration.)

Je me donne la peine de vous informer parceque la tele francophone internationale, TV5, a nettement donne l’impression qu’il y a avait de milliers de manifestants “supremacistes blancs”. (Une appellation inventee; cette engeance n’existe pas.)

En general, ceux qui couvrent l’Amerique en Francais ne vous disent presque rien que des conneries. Ils connaissent rarement bien l’Anglais; ils ne lisent que le New York Times, un quotidien en grand declin, les deux pieds bien plantes a gauche; ils sortent rarement ou jamais soit de Manhattan, soit de Washington; ils font presque tous de l’anti-Americanisme a l’ancienne mode, bete et mechant. Je me dis en les ecoutant que ce n’est pas possible, que ces gens_la ont ete choisis parce qu’ils etaient le cousin, ou la nièce de quelqu’un d’important.

Enfin, on ne se refait pas!

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Back Soon!

I have been extra busy working on a big essay on legal immigration into the US. It’s finished so I will be back soon. Furthermore, it’s beach season and the Pacific is fairly warm (thanks to global warming, thanks again). I owe it to the heterosexual women of Santa Cruz to spend time there. I never stopped posting pithy, witty comments on my Facebook page. Go there, please.

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How to Lose an Election with a Strong Governing Record.

Nothing they threw at Pres. Trump seemed to stick and then, they found pictures of crying toddlers. It did not take long before liberal liars affixed the pictures of children to pictures of Auschwitz. The reactions in the liberal media and through the liberal media have been vile and violent. The underlying idea seems to be that as long as you are defending children, you are allowed any ignominy. That would include wishing for the rape of a twelve-year old, as did the old actor Peter Fonda.

 

In any other country, I would say that the language I have been hearing is of the kind that fuels civil war. It’s amazing that the liberals did not think of it earlier, come to think of it! That one stuck: Separating children from their parents. This from people, many of whom (many, not all) agree that crushing a baby’s skull is OK as long as it’s done inside a woman’s body. This from people who have never given any thought to the fact that children get torn from their mothers every day when the mother is taken to jail. The inconsistencies, the filthy emotionalism don’t matter. I think those pictures are going to lose Republicans the November elections in spite of the tremendous successes of the Trump administration thus far.

 

It does not help us that the relevant regulatory situation is inherently complicated. Even the Wall Street Journal’s longish explanatory narrative made a big mistake yesterday (6/20/18). It stated that migrants with no proper papers who cross the border all get prosecuted. This is not true. Let me give a try to a simple but not simplistic summary.

 

Any alien who crosses the border outside of normal crossing points is committing a misdemeanor if it’s the first time he gets caught. The president has decided that all such misdemeanors would be prosecuted. That’s new. That’s a new policy in vigor since April. Before that, only aliens caught a second time (thus committing a felony) were deemed worthy of prosecution. The Trump administration appeared to have begun implementing the new policy without proper planning as to physical facilities and as to personnel such as immigration judges.

 

Prosecutions take time. But, current law forbids keeping children detained for more than so many days. If prosecution takes more time that the period allowed, the children are placed in centers run by the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS), not by ICE, not by the Border Patrol. This means that they are not technically incarcerated as their parents are. The fact is that they are separated from the latter. It appears (from sources I trust) that there is also a practice of children travelling with adults who not their parents. In case of doubt, it makes sense to separate them so as to avoid child abuse and child trafficking.

 

Aliens who cross the border at a normal reception point to request asylum do not (NOT) thereby violate American law. They are not charged with anything but their asylum request may take time to process in which case they may also end up separated from children. Of course, aliens requesting asylum are free at any time to change their mind and to turn back, with their children. Many who request asylum are denied. The old practice used to be to allow them in the country against a promise to come back for a hearing. (Few actually showed up, of course.) I don’t know what the current practice is.

 

As I write, about 2,200 children have been separated from their parents and from their alleged parents and are housed in HHS facilities. Many more are housed in such facilities who arrive in the US unaccompanied. Those are children who were sent alone by their parents. Keep in mind that some or many of those “children” are teenagers.

 

What’s really new (April/ May2018) is the tough-sounding “zero tolerance policy.” It consists only in prosecuting thousands accused of a mere misdemeanor. Few of those found guilty would be subjected to a severe penalty by any American court anyway. Somebody in the Trump administration should have thought through the practical consequences of such a policy and of the federal government’s lack of preparedness with respect to those consequences. Somebody in Trump’s entourage should have had the brains to foresee the tremendous public relations victory the new policy was going to offer the liberal side. Someone or some ones need to be fired and, the sooner, the better.

 

Today (4/21/18), Pres. Trump signed an executive order forbidding the separation of children from their parents. Even if the legalities can be fixed – which is not obvious – this is not going to solve the underlying problem of insufficient facilities and insufficient personnel. I think he will easily obtain an injunction from a judge. But then, getting Congress to agree that children can be incarcerated (with their parents ) is not going to go smoothly. Some will sense, rightly in my opinion that this will give the left another public relations victory: “Trump administration puts thousands of children in jail!”

 

President Trump really has only three options: He can continue the present policy, assuming that the political damage is done of small children ( possibly staged, why not?) behind bars; he can give up and end the zero tolerance policy, which means stopping prosecuting the misdemeanor of crossing the border illegally and getting caught one time; or, thirdly, he can close the border altogether. The last is far fetched but, worth trying, I think. Allow only those with an American passport or a diplomatic passport to come through, plus those with a green card (permanent legal residents of the US). This will create economic havoc and soften the opposition and get the Mexican government interested in helping.

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Israelis Kill Unarmed Palestinians in Gaza

The Israeli Defense Force is killing unarmed demonstrators in Gaza. The Defense Force is on one side of the fence, the demonstrators on the other. What happened is that the ruling political party in Gaza, Hamas, sent the demonstrators to try and breach the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The declared purpose was to have Gaza Palestinians exercise their “right of return.” Hamas means the “right” of Palestinians to return where their forebears used to live, or maybe not, or nearby, etc, right inside present-day Israel. Of course, if Israel allowed this, Israelis might just as well start packing. It would be the end of the Jewish state that already has about 1.85 million Muslim and Christian Arab citizens. Both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs reproduce faster than Israeli Jews, by the way. (It’s the Jews’ fault, of course; they should get busy.) Hamas generously would allow Jews of Middle Eastern origin to remain as second-class, tribute -paying dhimmis. All the others, the majority, would have to leave quickly. Ethnic cleansing it the best scenario if Hamas wins, according to Hamas. The worst? Hamas does not say.

The mid-May 2018 demonstration was presented as a way to commemorate what Palestinians call “the disaster “– meaning the creation of Israel and the wholesale defeat the Arabs suffered in the war they had started against the new state. Initially, it had nothing to do with the inauguration of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem. It was mostly the Amerileft media that created a link with such devices as showing the inauguration in Jerusalem on a split screen with the rioting in Gaza. Many Americans, some of whom can’t place the US on a world map, would have believed that Palestinians were dying while the Americans and Israelis were gaily drinking champagne right next door.

The Israelis had warned early on that they would shoot demonstrators who tried to breach the fence separating Israel from Gaza. They did, killing about 70 Palestinians. That’s harsh but no one can call it unfair: They said it clearly: If you touch our fence, we will kill you. Don’t touch the fence, I would say. Little detour: the magazine Commentary pointed out that the Gaza authorities claim that 1600 Gazans were wounded by real bullets. What’s wrong here is the ratio of wounded to killed, 1600/70. It should be something like 1600/500 . It does not add up or else, the Israelis snipers are real bad at their job. Go figure!

Hamas thinks it’s winning because of the large number of unarmed demonstrators, its youths, wounded and killed. It’s been acting like this forever. Just a week ago, Gazans (who may have been Hamas agents or not) deliberately destroyed the valve to the main pipeline supplying Gaza with diesel fuel. The more misery ordinary residents of Gaza suffer, the happier the Hamas government is because Israeli atrocities gives it standing among the ill-informed and mindless everywhere. I am tempted to feel sorry for Gazans myself because of the terrible government they live under. I can’t quite do this; below is why.

Hamas was elected in proper well observed elections. Although the Hamas government is well overdue for a new election, I would argue that the initial election makes Hamas one of the most legitimate governments in the Middle East. Hamas is explicitly an Islamist party. It does not think well of freedom of religion. It wants to impose sharia but does not feel strong enough yet. Hamas is in favor of polygamy. Young Gaza Palestinians are dying because of actions encouraged by their government, the Hamas government. Their parents properly elected that government. There has been no rebellion against it. The mass of the population seems loyal.

Hamas is insuring an aggravation of a situation in Gaza that is pretty much intolerable already. Israel left Gaza unilaterally 15 years ago but it maintains a partial blockade of the territory. It provides fuel and electricity and most of the water available, on its terms. It allows certain merchandise in but not others. Cement is limited, for example, I read in a source I can’t quote now but that I found credible at the time that Israeli Customs allow in milk and sugar but not instant coffee – which makes life more enjoyable. There is almost no work in Gaza, except working for the Hamas government. Nevertheless, no one there is starving because the territory is largely on welfare. Gaza has one of the highest educational achievement scores in the world although there is malnutrition there.

Gaza is a welfare non-state. It has no industry and very little else by way of earning its living. (That’s in part because of Israeli control over its borders, of course.) It’s an economic ward of the UN and secondarily of the European Union and of the USA. American Jews are thus among those supporting through their taxes riots where the main demand is “Death to the Jews!” The Leftmedia does not seem to be willing to mention, or it actually does not know, that the Israeli blockade of Gaza would be ineffective, almost useless, if Egypt did not join in. Yes, Egypt is also impeding the movement of goods, funds, and especially of people between itself and Gaza. And the PLO, which rules the West Bank, the other part of Palestine, has its own punitive measures against Gaza. Hamas is everyone’s favorite!

Update: The Egyptian government declared today (5/19/19) that it was opening a crossing between Gaza and Egypt for a month in honor of the sacred month of Ramadan. Or maybe, it’s emphasizing its benevolence in contrast with Israeli harshness, I don’t know. I don’t.

If you too feel revolted by the Israeli killings of Gaza demonstrators, and if you don’t think that righteous indignation is its own reward, I invite you to take two minutes to answer the following simple and sensible question:

Suppose you have a chance to advise the Israeli Prime Minister; suppose further that you have reason to believe that he will pay attention to you; what’s your advice to him regarding the present situation in Gaza (mid-May 2018)?

You can be sure that I have answered the question myself.

PS I am not Jewish, never have been, never will be. I am not a fundamentalist Christian either.

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A Confession: I Voted for Trump

A younger friend of mine, an immigrant like me, keeps having trouble understanding why I voted for Pres. Trump, toward whom she drips with hatred. She produces so much hatred of the president you might think she knows him personally. He might even be an ex-husband of hers. This is a little hard for me to understand. Here is my honest reconstruction of how I came to vote for Donald Trump in 2016. May it be useful to her and, if not, to others.

During the 2016 campaign, I was mostly sad and resigned. It looked like the Dems had the wind in their sails. The Rep contest between 16 viable candidates had ended in the victory of the least viable of them, Donald Trump. For the record, my candidate was Marco Rubio, who dropped off early.

Donald Trump was loud and ignorant, and loudly ignorant. His statements about international trade were those of a lazy undergraduate who has barely skimmed the relevant chapter, and got it all wrong. His project for a southern wall struck me as the wrong solution to the wrong problem at the wrong time. Illegal immigration through the Mexican border has been dropping for years. A good wall might even end up trapping more illegal Mexicans wanting to go home than keep illegals out. Besides, no wall would stop visitors from entering legally and then overstaying their visa. Finally, I don’t even think illegal immigration is a pressing problem although it must be stopped for reasons of sovereignty. Mr Trump wanted less immigration of all kinds; I think this country needs more immigration but better regulated.

There is no doubt, (there was none then) that Mr Trump has impossibly bad manners (although that makes part of me smile). I think he has a personality disorder (as I have) which causes him to speak out of turn, to think only after he opens his mouth, and to open his mouth even when his brain tells him he shouldn’t. He gives the cultural elite heartburn. I am not sure how I feel about this though because I know the cultural elite well since I spent thirty years in academia. They are mostly a bunch of half-literate pretenders who  richly deserve the occasional heartburn.

At any rate, it wasn’t obvious I would vote for Mr Trump; I kept looking over the fence. I did this in spite of the fact that the Dems keep enlarging government against civil society, the reverse of what I want to see. I did it in spite of the Democratic Party’s promotion of identity politics which are bad for America, I believe, and bad even for the Democratic Party. (As I write, even African Americans are deserting the party.)

There, on the Dem side, for a while, it looked like Sen. Sanders had a fighting chance. I don’t like socialism – whatever that means – but here was an honest man with a clear record. Sanders is my age. I feel as if we had gone to college together. He has not changed since 1968. Everything about him feels familiar, even his college president wife with the short hair. I thought that if elected, he would only attempt modest reforms that would easily be frozen out by a Republican Congress. The result would be a kind of federal immobility, not the worst scenario, in my book. If Mr Sanders had become the Dem candidate, I would at least have had a serious talk with myself about voting for him. That’s at least.

Mr Sanders was eliminated from the Dem race in a way that revived all my aversion for the Democratic Party as an organization. The thoroughly dishonest manner of his removal would have been enough to ensure that I would not vote for the actual Dem candidate, pretty much whoever that candidate was. The fact that Sanders protested but feebly the gross cheating against him makes cold sweat run down my back because of what it implies about the Dem culture.

The actual candidate was not just anyone (“whoever”). Mrs Clinton was a caricature of the bad candidate. She was a feminist previously elected on her husband’s coattails, and a career politician with no political achievements of her own. Her main contribution as Secretary of State was to get the US militarily involved in the events in Libya. (I was in favor of such involvement myself at the beginning, I must confess.) She ran for president with no economic program – which normally implies the continuation of the predecessor’s program. But Mr Obama’s economics were very bad; what was not bad could be credited to the independent Fed. I did not want more of this. Then, there was the personal issue. It’s a little difficult to explain but I developed the idea in my mind that even her supporters did not like her. So, how could I?

Mrs Clinton’s campaign was naturally an embodiment of the Dem Party’s silly identity politics which I think are bad for American democracy in ways I wont develop here: Vote for me – she said- because I am a woman. So, what? So are 52% of the adult American population; many of those are brilliant. Mrs Clinton is not brilliant, not even close. By contrast, take Prof. Condoleeza Rice, the former Secretary of State, for example. (Plus, she is black; you get a two for one; plus, she is probably a closeted lesbian too, that‘s a three for one!)

Donald Trump throughout his campaign was attacked for being a racist. I saw and heard many imprudent statements, some rude statements, and many goofy declarations but I did not notice racist statements. That’s if “racist” means attributing to a whole class of people negative moral qualities or objectionable behaviors based solely on their race (whatever race is, another story). My common sense also says you can’t live as a prominent New Yorker in various guises for a whole adult lifetime and not be called out for racism if you act like a racist. It’s jut a little late to do it when the man is seventy. It’s ridiculous, in fact. Or, perhaps, I have just stop paying attention to charges of racism coming from the left. Leftists intemperate verbal habits may have trivialized racism the way they trivialized so many serious social problems, including sexual violence.

There was no doubt in my mind though that Donald Trump would be dangerous as president because he is unpredictable, does not readily listen to advice, and does not understand well how our institutions work. So, I was never enthusiastic about voting for him. I even took a detour through the Libertarian campaign. It was based on the assumption that any Dem, including Clinton, would carry California, where I vote, and that I could therefore afford the luxury of a symbolic ballot. However, after a short time, I became convinced that the Libertarian candidate was not even libertarian. So, end of story here.

During the period preceding the campaign, when Clinton was Secretary of State, and during the campaign itself, I paid increasing attention to the goings-on around the Clinton Foundation, including the pattern of donations. I came out convinced that Mrs Clinton’s eagerness to sell the Republic and her disregard for the law (30,000-plus lost emails) made her a political gangster of the same ilk and magnitude as Vladimir Putin.

So, you might say that I voted for Donald Trump because I thought he was unpredictable. Clinton, by contrast, was horribly predictable. It’s fair to add that I did not think my vote would carry the day. Like just about everyone else, I thought my side had lost until about 7 pm, Pacific Time on election day.

One year and a half later, I feel no buyer’s remorse; instead, I am pleasantly surprised. Pres. Trump has not really done any of the things I feared – such as dismantle the modern world system of fairly free world trade; he has not built a wall. When he does, I think it will be a small elegant one with viewing balconies over Mexico. Mexican tourists will gladly pay for the privilege of going up its exterior elevator. There will be a lounge and bar with overpriced drinks on the last floor.

Pres. Trump has done a couple of the things I wanted him to do, beginning with the appointment of a conservative Supreme Court Justice. He also instigated and carried out a major tax reform which will fuel good economic growth for years to come. (I am dissatisfied with the current rate. I think anything under 3.5% is not good enough. But, it’s a start.) The tax cut may even make up  for the disastrous spending bill which he signed reluctantly but did sign.

Pres. Trump has also done the deliciously unexpected. I am not holding my breath (writing on 5/8/18 ) but I am amazed and delighted he has gone so far on the road to the denuclearization of North Korea. The fact that the thaw is largely a product of his bullying the North Korean bully makes this even sweeter.

After more than a year of unlimited investigation with limitless resources, the only Russian collusion in sight is that of the Clinton campaign buying from a shady international operative grotesque stories about Trump in Russia. The only shadow on this bright picture is that I am not completely sure that Mr Trump did not have sex with a porn queen several years before running for office. The horror!

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