Thoughts on Donald J Trump

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: Donald Trump was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 16, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JANUARY 16: Donald Trump was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 16, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

From one Donald J to another.  Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.  He won less by his own virtue than by the lack of virtue ascribed to the political elite by millions of voters.  For many Donald Trump represented a break from the kind of political orthodoxy exemplified by his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.  This blog’s main author finds him “loathsome”.  The political establishment and its chattering class enablers hate Trump.  Trump has been pilloried on blogs from BearingDrift to Blue Virginia.  I am cautiously optimistic regarding “The Donald’s” election.  Anybody who can send the political establishment, on both sides of the aisle, into a mental tailspin deserves some respect.  Lord knows, that establishment needed a comeuppance. Is he crude and crass?  Yes.  So was Lyndon Johnson.  Does he have some deep seated personality flaws?  Yes.  So did John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton.  Will he be a good president?  Well now, that’s the question.

How to start fast.  If I were advising President-elect Trump I’d have one big thought on how he should get started as the leader of the free world … get the money out of American politics.  Trump’s appeal is that of a renegade.  He’s the antithesis of the Clintons, the Bushes and all the other latter day American monarchies.  Over his first two years in office he’ll have the rare opportunity to drive a stake through the heart of our crony capitalist political class.  Donald Trump  should aggressively campaign for a constitutional amendment to drastically limit the amount of money any person or group can spend in the furtherance of their political agenda.  From George Soros to the Koch Brothers – this has to end.

In his own words.  Donald Trump has been surprisingly candid regarding the influence money has on American politics.

  • In reference to Jeb Bush … “He [Bush] raises $100 million, so what does $100 million mean? $100 million means he’s doing favors for so many people, it means lobbyists, it means special interests, it means donors,” Trump said in New Hampshire last month. “Who knows it better than me? I give to everybody. They do whatever I want. It’s true.”
  • In reference to the Koch Brothers (via Twitter) … “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)”

Dog catches car.  Donald Trump tried to become president in 2012.  His campaign went nowhere.  In 2016 a series of unlikely events has “The Donald” headed to the White House.  Will he view the presidency as the next installment of his reality TV career or will he capitalize on his outsider mystique to build a legacy?  President-elect Trump joins the vast majority of Americans in believing that money plays too big a factor in US politics.  The political elite (from both parties) hate the idea of seeing the money fountain dry up.  There is no practical remedy in legislation based on the Citizens United ruling.  A constitutional amendment is the only way forward.  This would be a rarefied long shot battle against powerful vested interests.  Who better than Trump?

— DJ Rippert

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21 responses to “Thoughts on Donald J Trump

  1. Don – glad to see you recognize that a constitutional amendment is needed to reverse Citizens United. On the merits I have mixed feelings since the case was about the federal government stopping a party from making a film critical of Hillary Clinton – not that the government would try to stop someone from making a film critical of Trump, Bush, Reagan, etc. I’m not sure I want to support something that permits the government to stop anyone from making a film about anyone else that they want to criticize.

    On the other hand, too many governmental decisions are made on the basis of paid influence. The construction of the Silver Line and the rezoning of Tysons are too home town examples. While these are not terrible decisions in and of themselves, they do represent a transfer of wealth from ordinary people to a few connected landowners and a big construction firm.

    I welcome the debate.

    • TMT:

      Like many issues in the US Constitution, it’s a tricky question. Where does free speech end and political influence begin. If there were to be a constitutional amendment on this I assume it would be short and sweet with the understanding that the Congress would pass laws detailing the specifics and the US Supreme Court would interpret those laws through the lens of the amendment.

      While I think Trump should press for an amendment to the US Constitution we have plenty of problems right here in Virginia. Dick Saslaw has been in the state senate since 1980! He is unbeatable in his district. In the last two elections he won with 74% and 62% of the vote. Despite Sen Saslaw having no real need for significant campaign contributions the money pours into his accounts. Saslaw uses the money to fund other candidates becoming a king-maker in the process. What are donors really getting? Influence. Attention. More?

      Throughout his political career Saslaw has raised almost $6m as a practically undefeatable state senator. Sen Saslaw might be the most honest man in America. However, Dominion’s donations of almost $300,000 to Saslaw over the years just doesn’t look right to many Virginians. Why is a company whose fortunes are highly dependent on state-wide regulation allowed to donate to any politicians?

      Like Trump said, “I give to everybody. They do whatever I want. It’s true.”

      America needs honesty in politics – in both appearance and in fact. The best way to get that is to limit the money flowing in.

      • I agree with your conclusions that this area is tricky and that there is a murky line, at best, between free speech and political influence. A key factor in line-drawing is, in my mind, whether there is any coordination between a candidate/office holder and the person or entity spending the money and engaging in speech. And I think the government does a crappy job of policing coordination.

        If I want to spend my money to promote Gary Johnson, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or to work against them, what business is it of the federal government? It’s trampling my free speech. But if I have had any type of discussion with their campaigns or those of their opponents, I think I’ve crossed the line. Ditto if I give their campaign money directly, it’s subject to regulation But any discussion/coordination is like price fixing. Any discussion of any type between competitors about prices is an antitrust violation.

        The other big area that concerns me is line drawing for the media. Let me be clear, I fully support the right of freedom of the press. Short of actual malice coupled with a lie, they can say or write whatever they want. But with the Internet, I see less and less reason to treat the WaPo, WSJ, Slate, Huffington Post, Drudge Report or even BR differently. Jeff Bezos can run opinion after opinion attacking Trump. But, IMO, so should Sheldon Adelson be able to run opinion after opinion attacking Clinton. I don’t see a valid distinction in treatment of the speech because Bezos owns some printing presses and Adelson does not.

        I also see a need to address foundations, charities, etc. If the 2016 campaign has brought visibility to anything, it is the Clinton Foundation (and others like it). The idea that its OK to give money to a family foundation when one of its members is a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State or presidential candidate is simply wrong. To clean up elections, we need a lot more visibility into tax exempt, private foundations.

  2. I don’t think it is money – per se – it’s the fact a lot of money is largely hidden and yet we ignore that fact and focus on characterizing “money” as “free speech” without ever acknowledging what a mortal threat DARK money is to our Democracy.

    more and more money in politics is untraceable as to where it came from. It’s become the de-facto standard for most money in politics.

    and yet the argument is about “free speech”.

    that kind of “free speech” is going to be the end of our Country as a functioning Democracy.

  3. I predict that anyone who thinks TRUMP is going to do all of what he has promised – has been living in LA LA Land and is not going to be a happy camper as time goes by. All politicians LIE to get elected..

    Anyone who believes someone who says – “I’m going to give you the best health care every for far less cost than now” … deserves what they’re actually going to get….and we’re already seeing the first “well maybe not exactly as we promised “…. versions..

    The new “wall” in all likelihood is going to be more a PR photo opp… than anything real… although – perhaps this is what Trump meant when he said “infrastructure” eh? He’ll get all those illegal immigrants to build the wall for free -then deport them. 😉

    The deportation of the rest of 11 million people is likewise going to be “well, maybe we will just get a “few” of the ones that are bad guys” and figure out something for the rest – that sounds a LOT LIKE what the current POTUS plan was….

    not all will be disappointing … we’ll likely see the EPA CPP gutted especially if they appoint a Climate Denier to lead that agency. I doubt that most zealots – in their more cogent moments, would see the closure of EPA itself as a sane thing to do… but who knows – there ARE folks who would shutter the EPA and delegate it’s role back to the states…

    The Dept of Education will likewise be savaged by appointing someone who will favor “choice” without accountability measures
    while still holding public schools “accountable” and witch hunts for “bad” teachers (who will likely get re-hired by the “choice” schools”. How they force local govt to tax people’s property and spend it on private schools will be interesting and I admit that there is support to do just that.. but then all those who pay taxes are going to expect true “choice” for their kids also… and I’d like to see how that plays out in a place like Fairfax… or even Henrico.

    Hillary will not be “locked up” in an orange jumpsuit contrary to the ignorati mindless chants…. at some point – we may actually be shocked to learn that virtually everyone at the State Dept using an unclassified computer was authoring emails with taboo words and phrases – and so “locking up” would end up being putting most of the State Dept in jail… not just one.

    We will not be sending troops to occupy every country with ISIL …only in the dreams of NeoCons like J. Bolton…

    We might well cut taxes on the premise that doing so will bring in even more revenues.. maybe even put Brownback of Kansas in charge of that since he has so much experience with it already and knows the pitfalls.. 😉

    In short – while the Dems have a boatload of up-front disappointments, even horror and the Trumpsters are living the dream – for now… at some point – reality is going to rudely intrude and have to actually be dealt with..with things beyond simplistic sound-bites and that’s going to be a real bummer for those who fervently believe the world is simple and all it takes is a guy that knows how to build casinos and hotels and evade taxes to fix it.

    • Let’s hope Donald Trump doesn’t do everything he said he’d do! I don’t think anybody knows what Donald Trump is going to do, not even Donald Trump. I’ve been the CEO of small companies and I know the CEOs of some very big companies. They are pragmatists. They change their minds in reaction to new information of changes in the environment. Find me a company with a CEO that stubbornly adheres to bad ideas and I’ll find you a good company to short. I am willing to be hopeful about Trump. What’s the alternative? Predict chaos and wait for the misery to start?

      • Pretty funny Don… you’re reduced to “hoping” he does not do what he promised he would do?

        HOLY MOLY!

        that’s your optimism for the future?

        now THAT … really WOULD BE … “hope and change” the REAL THING !!!

  4. Thank you, DJR, for putting this out there front-and-center. That said, I’m still too disgusted to discuss it. LG is right, of course, that Trump cannot possibly accomplish most of what he says he’ll do. But who can believe what he has said? Who wants a chief executive who’s chief of staff is a vile creature like Bannon? Who wants to undertake the constant policing that will be necessary to restrain this loose cannon, through the “leadership” of Congress? Citizens United is the least of my worries.

  5. re: ” Who wants a chief executive who’s chief of staff is a vile creature like Bannon?”

    well.. who wants someone whose judgement is to appoint someone like Bannon and needs to be told that it’s not a good thing?

    scary stuff going on……… and Trumpsters are in hog heaven … lord.

  6. Don the Ripper. Good piece

  7. Thinking back on “trigger warning,” it does seem apparent that TMT and DonR are fundamentally right: avoiding discussion (and even confrontation) with people you disagree with does nothing for (1) understanding, (2) education, or (3) political persuasion. Trump was duly elected! If any of us are dismayed, it’s up to us to persuade his supporters, a majority of our country, not to re-elect him. That’s not going to happen by hiding out in “safe places” and avoiding talking, really talking, to those damnable Republicans. We obviously did not succeed before Election Day. And maybe they might even teach us something.

    • Many years ago, I was the campaign treasurer for a Democratic state senator in Minnesota for two elections. Those were the days when you got results by sending a campaign worker to the each voting precinct (goodness I really am old). One night I met the GOP campaign worker who was there to get results just like me. We talked for about half an hour about the election and the issues. We didn’t persuade each other to change positions or candidates, but we confirmed in our minds that we were just two ordinary people doing what we thought was right.

      While we can all get a bit fired up from time to time, I see BR to be quite similar to my discussion with my then GOP opponent – a place to debate and discuss issues with other Virginians. We may not be changing the world, but we are exchanging ideas. And each of us has done this for years without needing a safe place.

  8. re: ” avoiding discussion (and even confrontation) with people you disagree with does nothing for (1) understanding, (2) education, or (3) political persuasion. ”

    so you’re in favor of “confronting” them as “snowflakes” looking for “safe places” to do their “crybaby” whining?

    that’s how you would engage them to develop more: ” (1) understanding, (2) education, or (3) political persuasion” ?

    and of course then you would also support the opposite if those who opposed Trump would go engage the “deplorables” and KKK with similar pejorative words and also expect fruitful engagement?

    really? 😉

    maybe like this: ???

    Trump supporters, protesters confront each other in Baltimore

    • Larry, one needs to be dealing with adults to have a discussion/disagreement. Many of our youth have an emotional IQ in the kindergarten range.

      Many of my friends in college were incredibly upset when Nixon won reelection in 1972. We pissed and moaned some, but went to class and lived our lives. I saw no incessant crying and whining. No one attacked Nixon supporters and called them bigots and racists. Even the long and loud arguments I had with my Dad in 1972 never resulted in me calling him a bigot. And we had to avoid talking with each other for a couple days things got so heated.

      I’d say a good third of my Facebook friends who are Democrats are consistently blaming the defeat of their goddess on bigotry, sexism and racism. And they are bona fide adults. Moses never came down from the mountain with a commandment to vote for Hillary Clinton.

      Even Michael Moore has noted that many of the voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who flipped the states to Trump voted for Obama in one or more of his victories. How can an Obama voter be a bigot and racist? And remember I regularly called for support for Johnson.

      Some, but certainly not all, of our high school and college age neighbors function emotionally at the kindergarten level. They are properly called snowflakes. And if they don’t grow up, they will have miserable lives.

      • then clearly, by your own admission, you are not interested in engagement with a majority of those you disagree with…?

        are you focusing on a minority and using them as an excuse to reject engagement at all – or do you think a majority of those on the other side are kindergarten snowflakes?

        unless you’re willing to identify the groups you do NOT think are snowflakes – and ARE worthy to engage – then what does that mean?

        are there any groups on the other side that you deem worthy of engaging?

      • hey – how many of the 60 million people who voted for Clinton are “snowflakes”?

        got a number or a percentage?


  9. Trump supporters, protesters confront each other in Baltimore

    • The elite have reduced American politics to a spectator sport. Taking sides and getting emotional keeps the masses occupied. This is the electronic version of the old Roman Coliseum. The left screeches about corporatism while the Clintons tap those corporations for vast amounts of money. The right howls for freedom and liberty while opposing same sex marriages between consenting adults. Pick you team, buy a ticket to the games, no need for a program … just start yelling at the fans in the other jerseys.

      • It would be an interesting exercise to attempt to find areas where laws could be changed to put a little pain on the elites and see whether there could be any agreement between the left and the right on those measures. Tax changes come to mind.

        For example, the IRC could be amended to nix a business expense deduction for the costs for using of a private plane, limiting the deduction to the amount of a first class ticket. After all, don’t those planes cause considerable carbon emissions? Take the limits to the deductibility of executive compensation and extend it to any payment to a single individual. So there’s a deduction cap of a million (which should be indexed) for the payment to an actor from a single movie, a year’s TV series, a singer’s compensation for an album or a concert tour. A football or basketball player’s annual compensation. Etc., etc.

        As businesses cannot lobbying costs, amend the IRC to prohibit any entity from having tax exempt status if it pays for lobbying, either in-house or by a third-party contractor. Limit tax exempt compensation to twice the salary of the President – $800K. Above that, and the tax exempt status disappears.

        Limit the tax exemption for bequests to private foundations to the amount allowed for bequests for heirs or beneficiaries.

        And the federal government could revive its antitrust enforcement. Just as the DoJ went after the Bell System and Microsoft, take a look at Google, Amazon, Facebook. Do we really want these companies getting bigger? Getting into automobiles? Google is already putting pressure on schools using Google products not to use competing products?

        I suspect a lot of people on the left and right would think some of these ideas would be fair.

  10. just a slight comment – I don’t think “engagement” is really about
    (1) understanding, (2) education, or (3) political persuasion if you start it off with “snowflake” or “deplorable”..

    just saying……..

    I hear that Trump does not want to live in the White House but instead his New York Penthouse and wants to continue to have rallies…across the country…

    sounds interesting…

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