Do HRC email mistakes make her unfit to be Pres or is it an example of applying a double standard?

After years of manufacturing false scandals around Hillary Clinton, right-wing attack dogs and the mainstream media finally have a bone to gnaw that has some meat on it: Hillary’s handling of emails while she was secretary of state.

Let’s first review all the false scandals: The Whitewater investigation turned up nothing but evidence of an affair between consensual adults, neither of whom was Hillary. Her husband’s affairs are a private matter that have no bearing on her capabilities unless you believe that repairing the damage caused by a spouse’s affair or being married to a philanderer by definition disqualifies a person (note I did not say woman) from holding the presidency. None of the ten separate investigations into the Benghazi incident have found a single reason to blame Hillary Clinton for either her actions or her policies. The accusations that the world respects the United States less because of her actions as Secretary of State are part of the larger fiction that the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East caused the rise of ISIS; related nonsense is that we gave away the store by entering into a nuclear deal with Iran and that Obama doesn’t support Israel.

All these lies and false accusations for all these years. Finally there arises an accusation against Hillary that has some merit: she did mishandle her emails as Secretary of State.

The important question is how serious were her actions? Do they disqualify her from serving as president? Do they rise to the level of criminality?

After a bit of Internet research, including reading the recent report of the State Department’s Inspector General, I’ve identified three key questions to help determine if Hillary’s actions regarding her email when secretary of state disqualify her from higher office.

  1. How different was her handling of email from other government officials?

None whatsoever. Many government officials, including every secretary of state before John Kerry, used private email addresses. A much smaller number also used a private server. No one else has received negative attention for her-his handling of email.

2. Did or did not Clinton’s aides cooperate with the various investigations?

 The State Department’s Inspector General’s office says “no,” Clinton spokespersons say “yes.” We have to go with the State Department on this one. I leave it to the dear reader to determine whether dragging your feet responding to an investigation that reveals no criminality or fault disqualifies you from the presidency.

  1. How much did the Clinton handling of email decrease national security?

Only a fool would deny that using a private server probably represented a security risk, but let’s keep in mind that hackers are always trying to attack U.S. government databases and that every year we face more sophisticated attacks. But we also have more sophisticated tools and protocols to fight computer crimes against the government. Keep in mind, too, that a tremendous number of government documents are classified that should not be, much, much too many for the free and open society we are supposed to have. There have been no reports that Clinton’s handling of email led to any leak of information that harmed the country or an ally. To be sure, Clinton was lucky, but given the many holes in our collective firewall and the constantly escalating war between the government and hackers, we are lucky every day of the week.

Yes, Hillary made a mistake, which she has freely admitted. But others made the same mistake.  Time and standards changed, and what seemed acceptable at the time in retrospect seems to be a bad decision.

But the criticism of Hillary regarding her email seems to follow a broader pattern: We blame her and not others who committed the same sins. Detractors have blamed her for voting to enable George W. Bush to send troops to Iraq, forgetting that most Senators voted with her and that the Bush Administration had given her and her Senate peers—and the rest of the country—misleading information about weapons of mass destruction and connections to those responsible for 9/11.

Detractors also blame Hillary for the Draconian prison sentence mandates and the cuts in welfare programs under her husband’s administration, despite the fact that she did not hold a government position at the time and in fact her political influence was at a low point, because of the failure of her attempt to develop a single-payer healthcare system.  Bernie Sanders has received no criticism for his 1990’s votes on stiffer sentences and welfare reform.

The broader pattern is to blame Hillary and not others for past actions that many people took regarding issues about which the entire country has changed its mind. In a real sense, the news media has created a double standard for Hillary Clinton.

If you don’t think a double standard is in operation when it comes to Hillary, consider that one of the ten investigations of Benghazi is ongoing and that we have yet to hear the Federal Bureau of Investigations chime in about the Clinton emails. We continue to waste taxpayer money on witch hunts that come up with nothing or with the realization that Hillary only did what others were doing.  And yet the same Obama Administration that is pursuing the Clinton emails decided not to prosecute any government official for their part in creating an illegal and embarrassing American torture gulag throughout the world. Not Bush II, not Dick Cheney, not John Yoo, not David Addington—no one was prosecuted or investigated. We just swept it under the table and promised not to do it again, a promise that Donald Trump is ready to break if he is elected. Nor are there any active investigations about the obvious lies that Bush, Cheney, Colin Powell and others told to convince us to go to war against Iraq.

The news media aided and abetted the government in sweeping the terrible deeds and rampant illegality of the Bush Administration under a rug. It would be a shame if applying a double standard on activities that were not illegal should serve as the reason not to elect one of the most qualified individuals ever to run for president.









Obama continues mainstream post-WW II foreign policy by allowing arms sales to Viet Nam

President Obama has issued a number of executive orders over the past two years that have overridden the obstructionist Congress to give Americans what they voted for: a left-looking centrist administration. Among other things, he has negotiated an historic treaty with Iran that stops nuclear proliferation, tried to end the stalemate over creating a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, issued new regulations that help address climate change, and extended overtime pay to millions of Americans.

But in foreign policy and national defense, it’s the same old same old that we’ve had since World War II. President Obama, someone who claims he’s seeking peace, is lifting sanctions on the sale of lethal arms to Vietnam. How could selling arms to yet another country help the cause of world peace?

The standard answer to that question for the past 70+ years has been that arming a nation serves as a deterrence to other nations. As applied to Vietnam, the argument goes something like so: China will be less willing to push its weight around the South China Sea and will draw Vietnam closer to the United States, both militarily and economically. The big issue in the mainstream media is not whether we should be selling arms, but if we extracted enough in return in terms of prodding Vietnam to increase press freedom and political expression.

On closer inspection, this argument makes no sense. How can arming a totalitarian government that allows no press freedom and little dissent make the region or the world more secure? And how does Vietnam fit into a strategy of military containment of the Chinese? What would such a strategy look like? Or are we building up the fire power for the next regional conflagration, between Vietnam and China or a Chinese ally serving as proxy?

The United States is the leading supplier of arms to the rest of the world and has been for many decades. We account for almost 53% of the $40.4 billion in total world trade in arms. In second place, with a mere 19.3% of world arms trade, is Russia. Our guns help keep the flames of conflict alive in many regional war zones. If Obama were interested in a real turn in American foreign policy, he would stop all sales of American arms to other countries. The objection that other countries would step into the vacuum and develop arms businesses of their own doesn’t hold water, because if their governments could afford to subsidize weapons industries the way the U.S. government does, they would have done so long ago.

Making and selling military grade weapons are a big business for a handful of American manufacturers who have had their claws into Congress and both political parties since World War I. Often the organization making military grade equipment is affiliated with a company that sells guns to U.S. consumers. By ending the arms embargo to Vietnam, President Obama is making the world safe—safe for American military businesses that is!

One could cynically interpret the Iran nuclear agreement as about opening Iranian markets to a wide range of U.S. goods and services. It could serve as the foundation for the two countries to move closer together, which always results in America supplying the former enemy turned friend with arms.

Even as the Obama Administration makes deals to benefit American arms manufacturers, it has also proposed spending a trillion dollars to create a new generation of smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons. The administration’s costly plan would rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, including the warheads, and the missiles, planes and submarines that carry them. The Congressional Budget Office estimates these plans will cost $348 billion over the next 10 years, but the National Defense Panel, appointed by Congress, found that the price tag could reach $1 trillion.

I thought Obama wanted to end the use of all nuclear weapons. What easier, or less expensive way, to do so than to let our aging nuclear arsenal grow obsolete and not replace it? The sad and simple truth is that only a madman would use a nuclear weapon, because of the damage that it inflicts not just on the site that is bombed but on the rest of the world through raised levels of radiation leading to more cancers and other diseases. Some predict that the next generation of nuclear weapons will release less radiation, but the operative word here is “less,” which is not “none” or “less than five years’ worth of dental x-rays.” Remember, too, our military will be less reluctant to use weapons they think are “safer.”

What the President doesn’t seem to understand is that you end nuclear weapons by getting rid of them, not by developing new ones. And you end war not by supplying arms to other countries, but by stopping arms sales and encouraging negotiations.

The scary thing is that Obama and Hillary Clinton are relative doves when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. Led by presumptive nominee Donald Trump, all the Republicans are talking about increasing military budgets. All say they would be faster to send soldiers into foreign lands and slower to remove them once in. Obama merely wants to sell arms and develop new nuclear weapons to subsidize our military industries. The Republicans, under the leadership of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, were willing to start a war to help a broad range of military contractors, including suppliers of mercenary forces. Now Trump even said he would keep the option of a first-strike use of nuclear weapons on the table.

I understand the focus that progressives have placed on economic issues this election cycle, especially in support of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. But even as we continue to move Hillary Clinton and mainstream Democrats further left on economic and social issues, we can’t forget that under both Democrats and Republicans, we have long had an anti-democratic, immoral and ineffective foreign policy that helps no one but large international corporations and military contractors.

Trump reveals American contradiction: Democracy needs informed citizens; consumerism demands self-centered dolts

That a failed developer turned reality TV star and brand marketer could win enough votes in Republican primaries to become the presumptive GOP nominee confirms the essential contradiction of a consumerist capitalist society organized as a representative democracy.  Democracy requires well-informed, well-read, well-adjusted and well-educated citizens, whereas consumer capitalism demands consumers who are dumb and uninquisitive, with a short attention span, a high degree of gullibility and a constant undefined dissatisfaction, assuaged only by purchasing some thing or service.

The pinnacle of consumer capitalism is celebrity culture. Consumer capitalism glorifies the celebrity, because the celebrity has been detached from accomplishment or merit and merely represents what one does with the riches, which in America is to spend large sums of money on garish luxury items and experiences. Celebrity culture created Donald Trump, the language he uses and the cultural ideals he embodies.

We remember Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays for playing ball, and not for spending the money they made—although Mantle did get some bad publicity for witnessing a few night club fights. But Kim Kardashian is famous only for being famous. When we think of her, we think of what she does as a consumer, not as a productive member of society. What we see her do always involves spending large sums of money. The celebrity sets the standard for consumption in a consumeristic society.  It doesn’t matter whether the society has done nothing like Kardashian or has failed, like the failed real estate developer Donald Trump.

Instead of judging Trump by his many failed businesses and multiple bankruptcies, the average American—trained by the mass media to accept anecdote overs statistics—evaluates what they see on a show that they only vaguely understand is scripted. Trump’s qualifications twist an old joke, “I’m not a successful businessman, but I play one on TV.”  For many Americans, especially those without the benefit of a college education, Trump really is a successful businessman, as qualified to run for president as Wendell Willkie was.

Celebrity culture not only produced Donald Trump, it also warped mass media coverage of elections to the point that the rhetoric of a reality star resonated with major parts of the electorate. It wasn’t his odious comments that many followers have found most appealing, but the means with which he delivered his poisonous messages: Direct, without caveats or conditions. Conversational. In blunt language. Vulgar insults of others. Trump centers every issue and statement on himself, which TV viewers learn from reality TV is the central trait of all great people.  He uses the rhetoric of celebrity culture, something that prior performers such as Ronald Reagan, Sonny Bono and Al Franken never did. Quite the contrary, former performers and celebrities turned politicians assiduously used the rhetoric of politics to convince us they belonged. But that was before the mass media infused election coverage completely with celebrity concerns such as who made a verbal error, who insulted whom, who is ahead in the polls, who is raising more money, who is more likeable and other issues of celebrity, not government.

Then there is the issue of aspirations. Trump is not a true conservative, but he appeals to groups tutored by conservatives for the past thirty years to distrust liberals and blame their problems on the “other”—minorities and immigrants—and big government. The angry, disenfranchised-feeling white males relate not just to Trump’s vile, racist opinions, but also identify with his Laddie Boy Rat Pack lifestyle, which reality TV and three generations of beer and car commercials have held up as the traditional right of the white male, a right being lost along with good paying jobs to the multi-cultural and feminist agendas.

The increasing dominance of the mass media by celebrity news and programming glorifying celebrity culture created most of the conditions for the emergence of a failed businessman with fascist leanings and a possibly pathological narcissism as a major party candidate. But it was an important decision of the Reagan Administration 30 years ago that created a key element of the Trump phenomenon: the train of Big Lies, one after another, often generated on the spot and kept alive long after being disproven.  In Reagan’s second term his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ended the Fairness Doctrine, which required the holders of television or radio broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner the FCC deemed honest, equitable, and balanced. By ending the Fairness Doctrine, Reagan enabled radio and television stations to broadcast partisan ideologues such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity without having to air opposing views. Right-wing billionaires bought up stations, created networks and created the many voices who made and still make the same false statements about unions being bad, taxes being too high, crime being up and the nation being overrun by immoral and unreligious outsiders (recently to include the President himself!).  The Republicans supported, and benefitted from, the many lies of the right-wing news media. They deserve what they have in Donald Trump.

Those who look at American popular culture and its emphasis on turning all human interactions into opportunities for commercial transaction and conspicuous consumption may conclude that America, too, deserves Donald Trump.


New overtime reg is another small step the Obama Administration is taking towards greater wealth equity

It was to be expected that conservative politicians and business organizations would complain about the U.S. Labor Department’s new overtime regulation, which mandates that anyone making under $47,476 a year automatically qualifies for time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked over 40 per week.  For example, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan criticized the new rule that enables 4.2 million more Americans to receive overtime pay, saying the regulation “hurts the very people it alleges to help.” Business organizations such as the American Bankers Association, the National Retail Federation, the Society of Human Resource Management and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all bemoaned the new regulation, focusing exclusively on the problems it will cause for small business and the employees receiving the overtime wage boost. The mainstream news media, of course, has quoted many small business owners complaining about the new reg.

One main argument against paying people extra money when they work more than the normal week sounds just like what business interests say about raising the minimum wage: that it will lead to employers hiring fewer people. This old saw is complete BS, as I have demonstrated before. Virtually all businesses only hire the minimum number of people needed to do the job, as they always seek to maximize profit. The result of increasing the number of people to whom companies must pay time-and-a-half will certainly be to raise the cost of labor, unless employers try to avoid the additional expense by hiring additional people at the regular rate to work the hours that they will no longer give to existing employees. The choice then is that current employees make more money or the company hires more employees. That sounds like a win-win for labor.

Here is some more nonsense the news media has published about the impact of making employers pay time-and-half to lower-paid employees who work more than 40 hours a week:

  • Employees won’t want to keep track of exact hours: Many, if not an overwhelming majority, of employees already keep precise track of their hours with time cards and time sheets.
  • People work harder for a salary: Whether or not this gratuitous insult of the working stiff is true matters not in discussing the validity of applying this blanket statement to the issue of overtime pay. Any good employer develops quantifiable measurements of job performance. If someone starts to fall below the performance standards of the job, a supervisor will talk to the employee, no matter what the reason. It’s easy and legal to fire an employee who continues to perform below standard when the only reason is because he or she is trying to work the system to get time-and-a-half.
  • It will make it harder to give employees flexibility in hours: A ridiculous claim! As long as employees keep accurate track of hours, who cares if they came in at 5:00 am so they could leave for their daughter’s chess tournament at 3:00 pm or if they worked the hours at home or at the office or took off Thursday and worked Saturday of the same week.
  • Employers will turn full-time employees into part-timers. Employers who want to save money by only hiring part-timers don’t need the incentive of time-and-a-half to do so. As discussed above, while employers may hire more people to work straight time, cutting hours back below 40 (as opposed to exactly 40) won’t reduce the cost of the new regulation.

The rationales for paying people extra money for overtime are simple:

  1. The extra time puts a burden on meeting other, i.e., family, responsibilities and enjoying an outside life.
  2. It’s harder on the mind and body to work long hours, and employees should therefore get additional compensation.

I have asked employees to work very few overtime hours over the 27 years I have owned an advertising and public relations agency, because I believe that work performance degrades after eight hours a day and 40 hours a week and I also believe that people are better employees when they have a full and active personal life than when they dedicate themselves solely to the job. There have been times when the temporary demands of the job have forced people to work extra hours. We have often given comp time to those working overtime, something that the new regulation does not allow for employees making less than $47,476. Thus, my costs will go up a little bit, which means my profit margin will decline slightly. I’m not too worried about it, and I’m happy to pay time-and-a-half instead of straight time (which you pay whether directly or through comp time) for the occasional overtime hour of lower-paid employees. I know I’m still making additional profit from the overtime, since the same office, administrative and healthcare costs are being spread over more hours. Those (immoral) companies that have built extra profitability into the system by making employees regularly work overtime for nothing or straight time may have a greater challenge.

I’m disturbed by the number of legal scams that the Wall Street Journal and other media are reporting that employers have already devised to avoid paying time-and-a-half or any overtime pay. Some companies say they will reduce the base rate of employees who routinely work overtime, meaning that for the employees to maintain their current income they will always have to work the extra hours. Other employers or industry representatives say they will raise the salaries of employees to over the threshold above which they don’t have to pay overtime and reduce bonuses to compensate. Let’s hope the Department of Labor adjusts their regulations accordingly and goes after these scofflaws.

Let’s face it. One of the two major reasons that the wealthy—meaning business owners, executives and highly-paid specialists—have taken virtually all of the additional wealth and income over the past 36 years is that salaries for all but the very top wage-earners have stagnated until quite recently. The other reason, BTW, is that the government has taxed the wealthy less and provided fewer services to the poor and middle class. Like increasing the minimum wage, mandating overtime pay for more employees and setting it at one-and-a-half times base hourly wages goes a little way to restoring wealth equity.

Clinton’s foreign policy will be to form and deepen alliances to seek resolution of world problems

The mainstream and left-wing media has slapped the label “hawk” on Hillary Clinton, but if we are to believe the words of her senior policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, a more accurate description would be call her a “coalition-builder.” It’s clear from the comments Sullivan made in front of an audience of about 250 people at the Asia Society on Park Avenue in New York this week that, whether engaged in peaceful or war-like activities in other parts of the world, Clinton will only act after deliberations with other nations and within the context of an organized coalition.

A Google News search yielded seven media stories about Sullivan’s remarks at the Asia Society, including the Society’s own blog, all of which focused exclusively on Sullivan’s short comments on Donald Trump’s lack of qualifications and dangerous statements. This comment took about one minute of the more than an hour Sullivan devoted to presenting how Clinton will approach foreign affairs.

The more important message—and story—is the Clinton approach to dealing with a wide range of problems, from Syria to global warming, which is to build a coalition of all parties, look for common ground and act collectively. Implied but not stated by Sullivan, who is Vice President Biden’s national security advisor and a senior advisor to the Iran nuclear negotiations, is that collective action assumes collective responsibility and financing.

Her approach to the knot of problems in the Middle East demonstrates how Clinton hopes to implement this vision of cooperation. Sullivan says that Clinton sees three main challenges in the Middle East:

  1. The destabilization of regimes, often brought about by terrorists and violent extremists.
  2. The rise of militant right-wing Islamists.
  3. The long-term hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.

Clinton will be willing to ensure that Iran will not destabilize Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, but in return the United States will expect the Saudis and other Gulf rulers to:

  • Contribute to the fight against ISIS
  • Stop funding terrorism
  • Begin internal political and social reforms in their countries.

Sullivan calls Clinton “clear-eyed” about Iran, by which he means that she still considers the regime hostile to U.S. interests, but she sees the benefit of working with the Iranians, especially in Syria. Clinton does not believe the Syrian problem can be solved without a new government and that any solution to the Syrian problem must have the agreement of both Russia and the United States to succeed.  My understanding of a “hawk” is someone who knee-jerks to calling in the military like John McCain. Clinton’s first step to solving the Syrian crisis is decidedly unhawkish: to negotiate “safe areas” within the country for refugees.

Sullivan kept stressing that the United States cannot be a unilateral player, but must always act in concert with other countries, whatever the region or issue. She will put a particular reemphasis on working more closely with China, seeing no reason why China and the United States can’t be friendly competitors. Clinton sees five important areas where the interests of China and the United States coincide:

  1. Climate change
  2. Terrorism
  3. The stability of Afghanistan, which borders China (and five other countries!)
  4. What Sullivan labeled “G-20” issues of trade and international economics.
  5. North Korea

Clinton wants the United States and China to cooperate to force North Korea to renounce development of its nuclear capability. Sullivan pointed out at the Asia Society that every major economy was engaged in sanctions against Iran, which produced the nuclear deal. He cautioned that the relationship between China and the United States has not reached the point at which the two nations would act in concert on North Korea.

On issue after issue, Sullivan described Clinton as taking a studied, cautious approach that focused on alliance-building and not saber-rattling. The sense I got from Sullivan is that Clinton is not afraid to use force, but will depend first on peaceful resolution of international issues that protects the United States’ interests but recognizes the interests of other countries.

Whether left-wingers like the Clinton foreign policy depends on whether we look at the glass as half empty of half full. Thus, I would prefer it if the first thing Sullivan said was that Clinton would unilaterally shut down the United States’ nuclear capability and stop selling and facilitating the sale of military-grade weapons to all foreign countries. She did not and will not. That’s the empty part of the glass.

But in the context of 70 years of America imperialistically pushing its weight around, undermining democratic regimes such as in Chile and Iran and pursuing useless wars like Viet Nam and Iraq, Clinton’s approach, which echoes that of President Obama and her husband, looks promising and dovish. I don’t believe the nonsense that Obama’s mishandling of foreign affairs led to the rise of ISIS and the splintering of Syria. George W. Bush’s ill-conceived Iraq War definitely caused ISIS; it also contributed to the destabilization of Syria and to the growth or terrorism by giving proof to the Islamic extremists who consider the United States the real rogue, devil state. Nothing Bernie Sanders has said has convinced me that he will be any more left-wing in his foreign policy than Clinton.

All the Republicans—including Donald Trump—proclaim that they will be quick to use force to address international disputes.  Trump talks about being a better negotiator than the representatives of other countries, a kind of naïve American exceptionalism masquerading as global bullying. It remains to be seen whether Trump keeps spouting isolationist rhetoric when it comes to trade and immigration, or retreats to Republican orthodoxy. On the most significant long-term global issue—climate change—Clinton is light-years ahead of the GOP, which still has its official policy the denial of global warming.  Compared to the unstable Trump and the war-mongering Republic foreign policy establishment, Clinton’s foreign policy is definitely superior, with more positives than negatives.  She remains within the mainstream of the last 70 years, but will move that mainstream further left, as Barack Obama has done. Yes, the idealist in me is disappointed, but the realist understands that electing Clinton (or Sanders) is critical to making the United States safer while implementing a more moral and less bellicose foreign policy.

The moderator at the Asia Society presentation was the very witty and knowledgeable Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia and current president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.  He pointed out that Asia Society had offered a forum to discuss foreign issues to every announced candidate for president and only Hillary Clinton had agreed.  Let’s hope that Donald Trump presents before the Asia Society membership (and Sanders, too, if he does it before the convention). More significantly, let’s hope that more of the news media cover the presentation and that coverage focuses on the strategies the candidates propose and not the name-calling to which the news media seems to want to reduce all campaign stories.

Trump’s business techniques would cause a stock & bond market crash and depression

One of the many things that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that sometimes merely saying something can be hurtful.  The classic case is Trump’s outrageous lie months ago that he knew a child who had gotten autism because of a vaccination. It was a bold-faced lie, the telling of which in and of itself hurt other people, to wit, those children whose parents later used it as part of their case for denying them vaccinations.

Trump just said something else that should disqualify him as president. He said that he would finance his program on debt, and if the country couldn’t pay, he would negotiate new terms with lenders. If Trump were to make such a statement as president, the dollar would sink in value and interest rates would skyrocket. Lenders would be reluctant to loan money to the United States. Other countries would look for another currency to serve as the base of the global economy. The likely result would be a decline in the stock and bond markets, followed by a deep recession. Such a scenario would cause pain and suffering to millions of people.

All because countries and business all over the world have lost faith in the U.S. dollar. All because the president of the United States in a fit of rage, pique or frustration lost control of his emotions and threatened not to pay off our debts in full on a timely basis.

I know that a large number of business operators, and in particular developers, send companies into bankruptcy as a way of life. They always walk away with some money, but the investors are left with losses. That’s the way Donald Trump has always operated, sending three real estate organizations into bankruptcy. We often see the litany of his failed businesses—Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, Trump Mortgage, Trump Vodka, Trump Magazine, to many of which he merely provided his name. He walked away with licensing fees and the business failed, leaving employees and investors holding the bag. The New York Times analysis of how Trump destroyed the U.S. Football League by insisting that it compete head-on with the National Football League instead of fielding teams in the NFL off-season is an eye-opener. In failing, Trump University has attracted a number of lawsuits, and the evidence vetted in the news media suggests that Trump himself broke the law in overpromising what students would experience in classes. Other news reports have alluded to the low respect with which long-timers in the casino industry view Trump; they consider him a buffoon. It is true that Trump has found success on reality TV and as a brand licenser, but the foundation of both these accomplishments is the false premise that he is a good business person. Months ago, Forbes did an analysis that demonstrated that if Trump had passively invested the fortune he inherited from his father, his net worth would be twice what it is.

But even if it were good business advice to spend a lot of money, knowing that if things don’t work out you can always go into bankruptcy, it just doesn’t work for a country, and certainly not for a country whose economic well-being depends in large part to being the currency of choice around the globe.

When a company goes into bankruptcy, it will hurt creditors, and often hurts vendors, employees and customers as well. But it doesn’t have to hurt the chief executive officer and other executives. We know many instances of a CEO raiding and raping it, and then sending a company into bankruptcy. But what does a president get when a country defaults on its debt, at least in a democratic country with strong laws against political corruption?  We know what happens in kleptocracies such as Russia and the Ukraine. If we assume Trump is a rational human being, building an authoritarian kleptocracy makes perfect sense as an explanation for Trump’s comment about renegotiating with creditors if the United States couldn’t pay its debt. Of course some would say that there is little difference between what happens in Russia and the kind of crony capitalism Bush II practiced in the Middle East and tried to practice after Hurricane Katrina.

That Trump might enter into negotiations to revise bond terms is scary. The fact that he is willing to say it may be even scarier, because it suggests, once again, that the Donald will say anything and break any deal.

Trump has revised his stand on a number of issues, acts that many who voted for him may consider betrayals. He now is okay with transgendered people using the restroom of the sex with which they identify. He talked hard about tax cuts and put out a plan that gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, but now he says taxes may rise for the wealthy and businesses. He was adamantly against raising the minimum wage in several debates. Now he says he wants to raise the minimum wage. I agree with his current stands on all these issues, but it must be pissing off all the Republicans who think otherwise and voted for him or now are boxed into supporting his candidacy. But these right-wingers should fear not. Donald Trump is like the weather in spring: He will probably change his mind again on any and all of these issues.

Trump is trumpeting his own duplicity and lack of a moral center as a major selling point. Everything is open for negotiation and everything is on the table, even a first-strike use of nuclear weapons. The horror at his pride at not having political ethics is exceeded only by the horror evoked by thinking about what dropping a nuclear weapon would do to its immediate victims and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Part of Trump’s inconsistency results from the off-the-cuff nature of his campaign and his speeches. He makes it up as he goes along, and then either spends copious words justifying what was a misstatement or changes his mind, sometimes in the next sentence. The fact that he doesn’t mind lying about the facts makes it easy for him to substantiate any statement he makes and therefore say anything that he wants to—at any given moment, for as long or as short a time as makes him feel good.

When we mix Trump’s political and ethical flexibility and his propensity to lie with his fomenting of violence, advocacy of hate politics and love of authoritarian solutions, we get fascism run by an erratic narcissist. It looks like and sounds like the democratic nation of Germany when Adolf Hitler took it over. It’s a good thing that unlike Hitler, Trump does not have the support of his own party.

America now has clear choice: the competent, experienced Hillary Clinton or a failed developer turned reality show celebrity

The American people now have a clear choice for their next president. Do we select someone who is knowledgeable and informed about every issue or someone who knows nothing about many important domestic and foreign issues?

Do we want someone whose campaign is built around facts and the issues or someone whose campaign is built around insults and boasts?

Someone whom PolitiFact considered the most truthful of all the candidates or someone who lies in every speech and even vilely stooped to telling the odious lie that he knew a child who got autism from a vaccination?

Someone who has remained calm and restrained in the face of 25 years’ worth of false accusations or someone prone to fly off the handle and make outrageous statements?

Someone who has always stressed inclusiveness and spent decades working on behalf of minorities or someone who has fomented hate against immigrants and minorities?

Someone who has admitted when subsequent events or facts proved her wrong or someone who digs in and refuses to admit he’s been wrong or even made an inaccurate statement?

Someone who has spent decades working for the rights of women, or someone who constantly denigrates women and evaluates them solely on their sexual charms?

Someone who showed her commitment to traditional marriage by working things out with a philandering husband or someone who twice had public affairs while still married?

Do we want someone from the upper middle class who represents the American ideal of meritocracy by working hard and succeeding in every position she has had or someone who was born into wealth and by some accounts did worse in his business dealings than he would have passively investing the hundreds of millions he inherited? Someone who has always been a success or someone who sent three companies into bankruptcy, making money while investors lost millions?

Do we want someone whom virtually every foreign leader knows and respects or someone foreign governments fear as an irrational hothead and despise because of his insulting statements about Muslims and Hispanics?

As these comparisons of the character and experience of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump demonstrated, even people who believe that Hillary Clinton is too left wing or too right wing have plenty of reasons to vote for her.

Donald Trump is at best a narcissistic blowhard and at worst a deranged, self-centered lunatic. In either case, he is masterful at public relations and self-promotion, prone to lying, and inconsistent about his position on the issues—except for his odious stands on immigrants and his insistence with every other Republican candidate that we need to lower taxes even more on the wealthy. That many leaders in the Republican Party are beginning to embrace him instead of talking about running a third-party candidate only further solidifies the notion that they believe that the president doesn’t matter much, as long as he (or she, giving the GOP the benefit of the doubt) supports tax breaks for the wealthy and hates unions. After all, they have rallied behind an actor and liar before, although Ronald Reagan had at least been an ultra rightest for years and also had experience serving as head of a union and governor of a large state. Republicans who are lining up behind Trump believe that doing so they have the best chance of keeping control of the House and Senate and maintaining their dominance of state government. That belief may prove to be as wacky as Trump’s notion that one could round up 11 million people and ship them out of the country.

The Republicans share blame with the right wing media for getting the public used to believing lies and fantastical notions. The mass media also deserves criticism for creating the grounds for Donald Trump, as they have steadily turned elections into celebrity contests and reality shows by their focus on personalities, the race itself and miscues, and their inability or unwillingness to expose candidates and elected officials who lie about such matters as tax policy, the effectiveness of government programs, global warming, abortion, gun safety, unions and foreign policy. The Republicans also fomented the anger of those hurt worst by their policies and deflected that anger to minorities and our African-American president. It is those voters who are flocking to Donald Trump—along with the hardcore nativists and racists who have always made up about 10-15% of the population. Now the GOP is stuck with a demagogic, self-centered con man with barely controllable urges and a strong authoritarian streak.

But making certain that Donald Trump does not seize power is only the second best reason to vote for Hillary Clinton.

The best reason is that she is a competent and caring liberal who knows how to get things done. Given a majority in the Senate and the House—a very possible outcome if we get a large voter turnout in November—I believe that she will build on Barack Obama’s start in bringing the country back from the excesses of Reaganism. More about that in a few days.