The Ultimate Debate Fantasy — Read “The Last Debate” by Jim Lehrer, Yes That Jim Lehrer

I know we are supposed not to build up expectations for Trump’s failure in the debate, but this is irresistible.

For some reason utterly beyond me, the world has forgotten that Jim Lehrer, deeply respected former co-presenter of the PBS News Hour, and multiple Presidential debate moderator, wrote in 1996 a hysterically funny and absolutely to the point for 2016, novel about presidential debates, called The Last Debate.  It is on Amazon, including Kindle, here.

The Democratic candidate is a George McGovern type, decent, but no match for modern political warfare.  The Republican is leading heavily in the polls.  He is a Cruz-Trump amalgam, heavy on the religiosity, a thug and a bully, without principle, and certain to win.  The campaign has gone so far as to get dirt on the debate questioners.

So, the moderator secretly decides, with the agreement of the other panelists, to stage an intervention.  They gather affidavits, and then, at the start of the debate get the candidates to agree to a flexible back and forth, rather than the agreed rules. (Can’t you imagine the ego in Trump thinking that would be an advantage?)

But then the moderators start confronting the Republican with his abuse of his female staff, his domestic violence, illegal tactics, etc., etc.

After the candidate’s slowly burning fury builds:  (I have replaced names, because, well .  .     )

And then came the awful ending.

Trump tore the microphone out of the podium in front of him.

He threw it with force towards the moderator, barely missing his head.

He picked up the wooden podium with his two hands and raised it over his head.

“No more of this!” he shouted. “No more!”

He threw the podium at the panelists’ table.  It crashed to be floor before it got that fr and splintered into several pieces.

He screamed: “God will fucking punish all of you for this! You will fucking die!  You will fucking perish!”

Trump then turned to his left and exited the stage at a dead run.

And, that is that.

The only way I can communicate the brilliant humor of the book is to tell you that the first time I read it, I was flying across the Atlantic to see my father who was in his last days after emergency heat surgery.  There I was in the darkened cabin, everyone around me asleep, unable to suppress my out loud laughter.  It does not hurt for today that the Republic campaign manager was named Turpin.

So, read it and hope for the best.

 

The Day After #2: Before Joining the Trump Administration, Republicans, Clearly Map Out Your Red Lines.

Continuing our depressing but realistic exploration of how to live under a Trump Presidency, today we give some heartfelt advice to Republicans who might be approached to join the Administration.

There will be plenty with varied mixes of ego, ambition and sense of duty who will think very seriously of the option.  Their chances will be greater because many of their fellows will be utterly uninterested.

Here, from one who wants our country and the world to survive, and recognizes that in most situations insiders really can do good, are some thoughts:

The first is is before you go in, indeed, before you even start the negotiations, be very clear about your red lines.  Not just in your mind, but in writing, and shared with loved ones whose judgement you respect, and whose respect you would fear losing if you later violated them.  It is very important to remember that once you join the Administration, you will be part of a group that has a very strong internal culture, as well as legal and other mechanisms for enforcing the demands of that culture and its leader,  You will also become privy to temptingly exclusive “information” that reinforces those demands.

Let me suggest three such sets of red lines that everyone should think through:

The Resignation Line.  What would you resign rather than do, and what are the things that would cause you to resign if the administration did?

The Whistle Blowing Line.  What are the things that you would blow the whistle on?  What level of personal risk would you be willing to bear?

The Dan Ellsberg Line.  What things would make you feel you had to engage in aguable violations of the law?  (This is not to urge such violations, just to remind you that the more unpredictable an administration, the more likely conscience is to compel such a choice for one who goes in with their eyes open and refuses to close them.)

Finally, ask yourself and others about your personality, and think about whether you retain Independence of judgement and conscience when part of a strong-minded and continually reinforced and reinforcing group.

If you need to a place to start thinking in concrete terms, you can always go to a list of the promises Trump has made (it’s an out of date list, but a start).  Sorry to be so blunt, but I can beleive that anyone of conscience and humanity would not find a resignation bright line in that list of promises.  If you feel certain Trump would never actually do any of them, just make sure you remember that is what you are relying on in going in.

I never thought we would be at a 40% chance of being at a place like this.

 

Using the Analogy Of Which Sibling You Would Choose as the Executor of Your Will to Persuade the Undecided in this Election

Maybe this will be helpful to those seeking to persuade those seriously thinking about voting for Trump.

Imagine you are a person with teenage kids, and you have to decide whom to name in will as your executor.  For various reasons you know that the person is likely to actually have to play the role.  Your lawyer says to name only one.  There are now only two possibilities.  Your brother and your sister

They are are very very different.

You find your older sister more than a little irritating.  She tends to know what is best for you, and when you catch her being wrong, she tends to wriggle a bit.  In fact it is joke in the family.  She has been very successful, and you resent it a bit.  She is a bit obsessive about secrecy.

You also have a brother.  He can be charming and makes a lot of promises, most of which he does not keep.  Indeed he makes totally inconsistent promises (he will be there for Christmas with two different branches of the family in California and Alabama.)

When caught in a lie he simply denies making it, to the point that no one really takes him seriously, but it is sort of refreshing in a family in which everyone else is super careful before saying anything.

Then there is the matter of the loan that he never paid back properly, although he insists that at the time everyone agreed with the final payments.

There is also the fact that he jokes about a disabled niece,

He wants to move quickly to evict from a house the family owns, a woman with kids whose husband was abusive and is now in jail.  The woman is behind on the rent, but trying.

One of the your kids likes his bluntness (it appeals to his need to rebel.)  Your daughter on the other hand, finds him insulting.

He tends to hang out with people you remember as bullies from high school.

You get the picture — its not a hard choice now, is it?

Could this be made into a funny TV ad?  Or an SNL skit?

Please add any additional appropriate family characteristics in the comments.  Particularly those that would fit the sister, to show how minor any issues with her are by comparison.

 

 

 

The Day After?

With the fivethityeight “nowcast” prediction getting frighteningly close to a 50% chance for Trump, it may not yet be time to panic, but it is certainly time for some realistic planning.  Maybe such planning will help us realize the scope of what is at stake, and keep us calm enough to stop disaster.

First, lets recognize that if Trump wins the electoral college, we wake up in a fundamentally different America.  We all have to think differently about our lives.

Above all, we will have to focus on what really matters.  There are really only three things, and they are chosen because of their irreversibility of failure.

1.  Maintaining our democratic constitutional system of government.  We have to maintain a relatively accessible electoral process, a free press that can and does comment without fear of government retaliation, and a legal and court system that protects the Constitution.

2.  Avoiding nuclear war.

3.  Continuing to move forward on climate change.

With a focus on those goals, a few rough initial generalizations about who might do what.

  1.  Federal employees — Shelter in place.  Hard though it may be to stay in as a representative of, and part of a government that is going to do terrible things, it is very important that as many people as possible are in place who remember than their obligation is to follow the Constitution, not the Leader.  Without such people in place, everything will happen much faster and more irreversibly.
  2. Leaders of organizations — Assert and Defend your group’s values.  It is not partisan to assert the values of your organization even if the leader of the country is directly and overtly dong things that are inconsistent with them.  To view passivity as the only form of neutrality is to collaborate and enable the destruction and defeat of those values.  This generalization applies with equal force to organizations within the federal government, but will be far easier for outside groups like the ABA.
  3. Those with some money — Use it.  It will obviously be critical that organizations that protect rights through information advocacy and litigation have the resources to do so.  Do not just make political donations, but ones guided by the broader need.  Similarly support those media groups that retain their independence — not all will.

That’s enough for now.

Do others have non-rant ideas to contribute?