Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Appearance of Impropriety

Michael Tomasky may have a point. In fact, he's probably right. Despite all the good the Clinton Foundation has done for millions of people, it has become an "albatross" around Hillary's neck. It isn't enough to say, as Bill has done, that if she wins the presidency the Foundation will stop taking foreign contributions. It's time to shut it down - NOW, not AFTER the election. Any delay could prove fatal to Hillary's chances in November. I'm not joking. This is getting serious.

Is there any evidence of illegal activity or quid pro quo? No. Nor is there any evidence that Hillary violated the terms of the agreement she signed with the Obama Administration that forbid the kind of activity that she and the Foundation are accused of. Unfortunately none of that matters, at least not to the majority of voters. At this point, neither Hillary nor Bill are getting the benefit of the doubt here. This "scandal" has become yet another example that the Clintons play by their own rules.

Look, let's get honest for a moment. I'm not suggesting that there isn't some right-wing conspiracy going on here. Judicial Watch has made it its goal to turn the Clintons' lives inside out for over a quarter of a century. The GOP has had a hard-on for Bill since he got elected in '92. The Far Right may detest Obama, but they absolutely loathe Hillary. The idea of her sitting in the Oval Office sends them completely over the edge. Why else would the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh be so giddy about a man they would otherwise despise? A man who they know in their heart of hearts isn't one of them.

But there comes a point when you have to stop blaming the other team for fumbling the ball so goddamn much. The painful truth is that it has been the actions of Hillary directly and Bill indirectly that have landed the both of them in the tight spot they're in. Yes, Hillary continues to lead Donald Trump in the national polls, but that lead has slipped to 4.3 points according to the RCP average. A week ago it was 5.8. She continues to hold commanding leads in several swing states, and if the election were held today, it is likely she would win a landslide victory in the electoral college.

The problem for her is that the election isn't going to be held today, or tomorrow, or the day after. The election is going to be held November 8, two and a half months from now. That is a lifetime in politics. Her unfavorables are only slightly better than Trump's, and a majority of the country is so dissatisfied with both candidates that flakes like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are seen as legitimate alternatives.

How in the name of God did these two very talented and savvy politicians allow this nightmare to happen to them? Arrogance? Perhaps. I think at their core the both of them believe they have done no wrong. And according to the letter of the law, they are right. But according to the spirit of the law they are guilty as sin.

To tell you the truth, I'm more surprised and disappointed with Bill than I am with Hillary. Bill, perhaps more than any politician in modern history, should know that perception is what drives voters. It's the reason he defeated both Bush and Dole in consecutive elections. Facts, ultimately, are inconsequential; indeed, they're open to interpretation. Ask anyone who's ever served on a jury. Many a courtroom has seen verdicts come down that defy logic, and right now the court of public opinion is rendering its judgment on one Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Do I still support her? Is the Pope Catholic? Of course I do. First, despite the unforced errors, I agree with Obama: she might well be the most qualified person ever to run for president in our lifetime, and if she wins, she could actually get something done in Washington. Second, she's running against the most unhinged, unqualified candidate the nation has seen quite possibly in its entire history. Either is a good enough reason to vote for her, but I suspect it's the latter that has propelled her to the lead she now holds.

Sooner or later, though, this insistence on playing Russian Roulette is going to cost her. Now she's maintaining that Colin Powell advised her it was ok to have a private email server. Does she really believe that throwing the only member of the Bush Administration with any semblance of credibility under the bus is a good strategy? If so, I give up. Maybe she does have a death wish.

One thing I know for certain. There's way too much at stake for this horse shit to continue any longer. Someone, anyone, has to sit her down and drive some sense into her; both of them actually since they're a team. The Clinton Foundation has to go. Not permanently, mind you, just for as long as she is running for office, or, if elected, holds that office. It won't do to simply pass the baton to Chelsea.

Fair is fair. If judges recuse themselves from cases for the mere appearance of impropriety, then Bill and Hillary need to do the right thing for something far greater than a mere court case. Will people suffer without the Foundation? Sadly, yes. But ponder this: how many more people are likely to suffer if Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office next January?

Shitting your pants yet? You should be.

Monday, August 22, 2016

This Is An Outreach?

Every successful salesperson knows that the way you grow your business is by reaching out to new customers and giving them a reason to buy from you. You paint a positive image of yourself and create a value in the customers' mind that you are someone they can rely on. What you don't do is belittle them and then say what Donald Trump said to an almost completely white audience in Michigan.
"What do you have to lose? You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose."
In all the jobs I've had in sales over the years, not once as a manager every encouraged me to do what Donald Trump did in that speech. It runs counter to everything we know about growing market share in a particular industry. In fact, any company that were to employ this tactic would almost assuredly lose market share and put themselves in a very precarious position.

But let's cut to the chase here. Donald Trump was not "reaching out" to African Americans in that speech. The fact that he gave it in one of the whitest neighborhoods in Michigan is proof that none of this is about attracting black voters, or Latinos for that matter.

So who was the target? White suburban women, that's who. Even someone as obtuse as Trump knows there is no way he's going to make any serious inroads with African Americans or Hispanics. Xenophobic and racist he may be; stupid he is not. He can read polls. He may not like them right now, but he can sure as hell read them.

And right now the polls show he is getting trounced with respect to white suburban women, the kind that live in the suburbs of Philly and Akron and Cleveland and northern Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina and South Florida and just about any place else where there is a fairly large suburban population. The way the race is shaping up, Trump is cleaning up in rural America and getting his clock cleaned in the cities. If he is to make up any ground, it has to come from those suburbs.

There is a certain percentage of white voters who are, less face it, racist. You see them at Trump rallies and Trump has done nothing to call them out or disown them. Just the opposite, in fact. He's ramped up his rhetoric so as to reassure that crowd that he is still their champion. That by itself is a political scandal and a national disgrace.

But there is another percentage of white voters - otherwise conservative - that are appalled at the racial overtones of his campaign and the obnoxious comments that come from his mouth. They do not wish to be associated with anyone perceived as being that racist. And right now those people - a majority of them women - are not voting for him. So Trump delivered a speech that to many blacks would seem insulting and demeaning, but to that target audience might be perceived as an olive branch of sorts. See, I care about blacks. I'm not a racist.

Will it work? For the most part, I doubt it. For one thing, that isn't the only reason those suburban women aren't voting for him. The way he and his surrogates are going after Hillary Clinton's "stamina" and "health" is pure sexist and quite frankly doesn't sit well with many of them. If you're going to make a pitch to suburban women that they should vote for you, you first have to prove you're not a misogynist pig before you can claim you're not a racist bigot.

And therein lies Trump's biggest challenge. He's pissed off so many potential voter demographics that even when he tries to mend fences with one of them, his campaign ends up digging the hole deeper with the others.  The sad truth is that Trump's speeches, despite how his campaign wants to frame them, are little more than dog whistles to the same mobs he's been preaching to since he got into the race last June. They will stick with him to the very, hopefully, bitter end.

The majority of the rest of the electorate, however, is unlikely to fall for his "outreach."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Return of the Swift Boats

The prevailing logic among many political pundits - indeed among many establishment Republicans - is that the shakeup in the Trump campaign won't work. That letting Donald be Donald is really the crux of the problem. Doubling down on a failed strategy would only makes things worse, not better.

And while I would tend to agree with that reasoning, what concerns me most is what's coming. Back in May my fear was that we could be looking at a repeat of the 2000 election. That was the year progressives sat on the sidelines sucking their thumbs and feeling sorry for themselves over the fact that Al Gore wasn't the second coming of FDR. The result was we got stuck with George - numb nuts - Bush for eight years.

Since wrapping up the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton has mended fences with the majority of Bernie Sanders's supporters and solidified her position with Democratic voters. She's now at 91 percent with her party compared to Trump's 73 percent among Republicans. And with Breitbart head Stephen Bannon running the show, it wouldn't surprise me if that percentage goes down a bit, at least temporarily.

I say temporarily because the real reason Bannon was brought on board has nothing to do with letting Donald be Donald. Face it, he's been his own man for 40 years. No force in the universe is going to keep him from behaving like the asshole he is. Bannon's talent lies elsewhere, in the work his sleazy publication Breitart has done over the years, and if I'm the Clinton campaign I'd take notice right now.

That's because this campaign is about go from the ridiculous to the tragic. It's clear to everyone that the difference in the polling - the reason Clinton enjoys a 6 point lead nationally, and substantial leads in many swing states - comes down to the perception by most voters that Trump is not fit to be president. On matters like trustworthiness and who's better on the economy, the race is basically a push.

So Bannon's job ostensibly is to bring Clinton down to Trump's level and make this race a tossup. How will he do that? By doing to her what the GOP and Bush did to John Kerry in '04. If you remember, Bush and Kerry were neck and neck in the polls that year. It was clear the Iraq War wasn't going as expected and Bush's popularity was sinking fast. Something had to be done or Kerry was going to win.

That was when the swift boat ads started appearing, falsely accusing Kerry of being unpatriotic. The Kerry campaign didn't take the ads seriously, believing that the majority of voters would see through the charade. They were wrong. The ads began to gain traction and a slight Kerry lead turned into a slight Bush lead. By the time Kerry finally responded, it was too late. Enough of the electorate had already made up their minds and Bush narrowly won reelection to a second term.

On the surface it would seem Bannon has his hands full. He not only has to swift boat Clinton, he has to do it while making sure Trump's poll numbers don't plummet any further. The latter could prove impossible, but the former is well within his grasp.

Already the innuendos have started. Crooked Hillary is now Tired Hillary. Did she suffer a stroke? Is she fit to handle the duties of commander in chief? Out of nowhere a doctor - some quack Breitbart dug up - has seen fit to cast aspirations on her health. There's a photo circulating of her stumbling while walking up some stairs. Of course plenty of people have stumbled while walking up or down a flight of stairs. And the overwhelming majority of them are in perfect health.

But for some, just the mere appearance of an imperfection allows them to make the most outrageous claims without providing a scintilla of proof. An old college professor of mine used to say that if you throw enough shit at the blackboard, some of it will stick. Bannon will need to throw a ton of shit and he's just the sort of creep to do it.

And that, sadly, is politics 101. Seek out the one advantage your opponent has and neutralize it. Can it work? It already has. True, it'll be a tall order. Over the last 15 months, Trump has managed to piss off every possible demographic group with the exception of while males. Bush, at least, reached out to minorities. He actually managed to get 44 percent of the Latino vote. At present, Trump is polling in the teens among Hispanics and the single digits with African Americans.

But if I'm Hillary Clinton, I don't sit around waiting to see if history can repeat itself. She and her campaign need to be proactive on this and strike back hard. When Trump comes at her with health "concerns," she should go at him with a psychological profile that lays out the case that he's unhinged. It won't be a hard case to make. There are already dozens of professionals who've commented on his erratic behavior. Run a few ads on the Dr. Strangelove angle. It'll be funny AND true at the same time.

The big difference between 2004 and 2016 is that the Republican nominee is hardly in a position to question the fitness of his opponent. It's incumbent upon the Clinton campaign that they drive this point home until it sticks with the electorate. Assuming the voters will somehow parse out the bullshit from the truth was how John Kerry lost.

In my opinion, Trump has about five weeks to make this election a horse race. If he goes into October trailing by 5 or 6 points nationally, and if Clinton maintains her big lead in the swing states, I frankly don't know how he can come back. That's why he and his campaign will pull out all the stops between now and the debates. If you thought you'd seen it all, trust me, you haven't. We are about to go into unchartered waters.

Over the years, Hillary Clinton has had to endure a series of relentless attacks, many bogus, but to be fair some legit. She's sat through a grueling eleven hour Congressional committee investigation over Benghazi, and had to contend with a damning FBI report over her email server. And after all that, she's still standing and comfortably ahead.

But the shit storm that's headed her way will be her greatest test yet. How she handles it will ultimately end up determining whether she becomes the next president of the United States.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bye, Bye

When I heard the news of John McLaughlin's passing, I was saddened but hardly surprised. Over the last few months it was obvious McLaughlin's health was failing. It wasn't just his age; he seemed frail, his voice strained, and that vaunted McLaughlin wit seemed to betray him at times.

Ironically, it was my wife who first noticed his decline last December. Being a long-time admirer and viewer of the show, I guess I hadn't picked it up. Or maybe I didn't want to. The man had been such an integral part of political discussion, I couldn't bring myself to admit this legend was entering the twilight of a brilliant career.

I made it a point to never miss a Mclaughlin Group show, except last Sunday. I had to pull double duty at my church so I wasn't able to watch it. I thought about DVR'ing it but elected not to. As it turns out, McLaughlin was gravely ill and couldn't do the show; the first time in 34 years he was unable to perform his duties. He did a few voiceovers that without captions were completely unintelligible. The show was taped on Friday. By Tuesday he was gone.

Gone, but not forgotten. I will miss him, as will the world. Yes, he was a conservative, but what I appreciated most about him was the way in which he gave equal time to both sides of the political spectrum on his show. He pulled no punches and held back nothing. The word ambivalent was not in his vocabulary. And while the people who comprised his panel - people like Pat Buchanan, Jack Gerrmond, Eleanor Clift, Jeff Barnes, Clarence Page and Mort Zuckerman - often went at it in heated and passionate exchanges, never did the discussion descend into personal attacks. You always had the sense that everyone on the set respected one another. Put another way, McLaughlin wouldn't allow it.

I had been a fan of the show from its early days. It, along with Agronsky and Company, in many ways informed my opinion of Washington politics in the '80s. While I always considered myself a liberal - and still do - shows like The McLaughlin Group were essential in helping me understand how the other side felt. To this day, I am astounded at how narrow-minded some liberals are. In many ways they are as thick headed as their conservative counterparts.  I make no apologies for the way I went after many Bernie supporters throughout the Democratic primaries. I detest bubbles regardless of their ideological leanings. It was people like John McLaughlin who helped me appreciate that a hundred and eighty degrees from wrong was still wrong.

So who will assume the mantle that Mclaughlin has left behind? No one, that's who. I can't think of a single person worthy of sitting in that chair. He didn't just moderate a talk show, he invented the whole damn medium. To the extent that we now have political talk shows, we can thank McLaughlin. The best eulogy we can give him is to acknowledge his incredible contribution and give him a heartfelt sendoff.

So, for one last time, we say, bye, bye.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Playing With A Lead

One of the reasons I love football so much is because it's the ultimate battle between two fierce competitors. Both teams go at it mercilessly for four quarters, doing everything to win the game. And the one that comes up short has to wait seven long days to get back on the field and earn a shot at redemption.

In many respects, a political campaign is just like a football game. It's fierce and tough. Nothing gets held back and the losing team has to wait, in this case, four long years to make its case to the electorate again.

This year, team Clinton is ahead - way ahead. And that is certainly better than the alternative. But as any football coach knows all too well, getting off to a big lead is one thing; holding onto it is another. Many a team has seen a big lead vanish late in the game only to lose. As a Giants' fan I can attest to this. Last season, the Giants blew four fourth-quarter leads and lost every one of those games. It ended up costing coach Tom Coughlin his job.

So, knowing that, how does Hillary Clinton avoid her own fourth quarter collapse? Well, for starters, stay on the offense. Since the Democratic convention, Donald Trump has had one disaster after another, from picking a fight with the parents of a Gold Star veteran, to kicking a crying baby out of one of his rallies, to encouraging a second amendment remedy for Hillary, to accusing Barack Obama of being the founder of ISIS. From a football perspective, it's like playing against a team that keeps picking up personal fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct. Team Clinton started at their own twenty-yard line and now find themselves on the Trump twenty.

But no amount of penalties, regardless of their egregiousness, can push the ball over the goal line. That's where a good offense comes in. Face it, the Clinton campaign hasn't had to do much over the last two weeks. Basically, they've stood by and watched Trump pick up one red flag after another. They even managed to escape scrutiny over the latest batch of emails concerning the Clinton Foundation. While nothing in the emails appears criminal in nature, under normal circumstances, the controversy would've proven costly. Put another way, Hillary took the snap from center, fumbled the handoff, but then fell on the ball before team Trump could recover.

Lucky? You bet your ass, but then running against Trump has proven to be a goldmine for Clinton. Against a superior opponent, say John Kasich, she'd be trailing badly by now. So how do you play offense against an opponent that insists on committing suicide? By letting him, that's how.

I've seen enough football games to know that winning teams manage the clock well. They move the chains and come away with points whenever they can. But, above all, they avoid turnovers. It's an axiom that the team that has the fewest penalties and commits the fewest turnovers usually prevails.

It is crucial that Hillary do her best to avoid any further unforced errors. A good way to do that would be to give up this ridiculous insistence that James Comey said she was being completely truthful. He didn't and everyone with access to a computer and a flat-screen TV knows he didn't. Here's what she needs to say: "Look, I've said all I'm going to say on this matter. It was a mistake; I regret it; if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't and now I'm moving on." Period. No qualifying, no re-litigating, just cry uncle. Had she done that a year ago, this would be behind her now. Having said that, she can't afford to keep digging this hole. This will be one of the first questions she gets in the debates; how she handles it could still cost her the election.

Next, keep the pressure on Trump. When he isn't doing his impersonation of a kamikaze pilot, the Clinton campaign needs to stay focused on its message to the voters that Hillary has the temperament and the experience needed to be commander in chief. Be steady and be resolute. They can go on the attack but they should resist the urge to go gutter. Instead, they should borrow a page out of the president's playbook: No Drama Obama. It worked twice for him; it could seal the deal for her.

But above all else, they should avoid complacency. It's worth noting that at this point in 1988, Michael Dukakis had a huge lead over George Bush. We all know what happened that year. Don't think for a moment that lightning can't strike twice in the same spot. Remember, neither of these two candidates is well liked. They both have enough baggage to fill the cargo hold of a jet plane. It's up to Hillary to make sure her baggage doesn't end up bringing down the flight.

That's why if I'm the Clinton campaign, I'd continue to expand the electoral map as much as possible. Already there are signs that Georgia and Arizona, two reliably red states, are in play. The latest polling from Georgia shows Clinton with a slight lead. And in Arizona, it's basically tied. Even in dark red Utah, of all places, there are signs that Trump is in trouble. While I sincerely doubt Utah will flip in November, just having a presence in that state will force Trump to play defense, and that's what you want if you're Hillary.

And last, but never least, a good defense is vital. As the race begins to slip away from him, Trump will throw caution to the wind. He won't just throw the kitchen sink at Clinton; he'll throw the whole damn kitchen. If you thought that floating the possibility of an assassination attempt at her was beneath contempt, just wait until those 7 point leads turn into 10 or 12. We may well see him completely unravel.

But what if the opposite should happen. What happens if Trump, sensing he's got nothing to lose, actually manages to do an about face and start behaving like an adult. For almost a year we've been hearing that he is capable of controlling himself and acting presidential. What if, like Mitt Romney in 2012, he waits until the first debate to roll out President Trump to the nation. I still remember the expression on Obama's face as if he suddenly found himself on a stage with an imposter.

Obama was taken by surprise by Romney's pivot in that Denver debate. It is crucial that Clinton not make the same mistake. She has to prepare for the eventuality, however slim, that Donald Trump may pull a Romney when the two debate this fall. Why? Because Trump can win when he stays on message. Lost in this race is the fact that most of the country is either pissed off or worried or both. Like it or not, Trump's whole candidacy was built on tapping into that vein of discontent. It wouldn't take much to turn his train wreck of a campaign around.

Face it, the reason Hillary is ahead by such a wide margin is because of the way Trump has behaved rather than any particular position she holds. Contrary to past elections, this race is not issue-based. If it were, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz would be their respective parties nominees. I've said this before and it bears repeating: when the voters go to the polls this November, most of them will chose between a person with trust issues and a person who's certifiable. If they should come to the realization that the certifiable guy is just sane enough to be president, it could be game over for team Clinton.

So, yes, it's nice having a lead, but the only lead that counts, in politics as in football, is the one at the end of the game. T-minus 87 days and counting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Words Matter

"If she gets to pick her judges - nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people ... maybe there is."

Let's cut to the chase. What Donald Trump said about Hillary Clinton and "second amendment people" at one of his rallies was profoundly disturbing. There was nothing ambiguous about his choice of words. He knew exactly what he was saying and, even worse, those who were in attendance knew as well.

This was not some liberal media spin. In fact, there's is nothing to spin here whatsoever. The fact that so many Republicans have called him out for this statement only proves how ridiculous such a claim is. To even suggest that your political opponent could be assassinated just because she might have a different, less warped, interpretation of the Second Amendment crosses a line that no serious candidate running for president should ever be allowed to cross. What Trump said was no different than what Sharon Angle said six years ago when she was running for the Senate against Harry Reid in Nevada. It was reprehensible then and it is just as reprehensible now.

This was not a joke gone bad, as Paul Ryan alluded to. Nor was it about a political movement, as his apologists are attempting to turn it into. There was nothing in the statement referring to going to the polls to vote. Virtually the entirety of the statement was about what happens AFTER the election, not before. Trump knows this and so do, I suspect, his apologists.

I don't know, I give up. Every time I think he has hit rock bottom, he finds a new low to sink to. Not 48 hours after giving a "major" policy speech that his supporters were hoping would allow him to reset his badly hemorrhaging campaign, he goes completely off the deep end. Again.

This is becoming more than just predictable; it's becoming pathetic. Not only does he not have the impulse control necessary to keep himself from uttering the first thing that pops into his head; he lacks, as I've said, the capacity for self reflection. He still has no idea of the potential consequences his words can have; that there are people who attend his rallies who are deeply disturbed and who don't need much provocation to send them over the edge. It only takes one lunatic to carry out an atrocity. We haven't had an assassination of a president or presidential nominee in this country in over 50 years. Given the powder keg this nation is sitting on such an event would ignite a firestorm that might well take decades to extinguish.

Thomas Friedman was right when he said, "People are playing with fire here, and there is no bigger flamethrower than Donald Trump. Forget politics; he is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him. I only pray that he is not simply defeated, but that he loses all 50 states so that the message goes out across the land — unambiguously, loud and clear: The likes of you should never come this way again."

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Crazy Like A Fox

I'll be honest, I've used words like wing nut and batshit crazy unapologetically to describe far-right conservatives for years. It wasn't so much a medical diagnosis - I'm not a psychiatrist after all - as it was a political observation that I felt and still feel is justified. Seriously, how does any reasonably objective person listen to the likes of a Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann and not come to the conclusion that they're a couple sandwiches short of a picnic?

But Donald J. Trump takes the cake. Shit, he takes the whole fucking bakery. Palin and Bachmann are rank amateurs next to him. For the last thirteen months the country has had a ring-side seat to the most unabashed, bizarre, unhinged behavior ever exhibited by a politician running for anything north of dog catcher.

David Brooks calls him a "man-child." I think that's being unfair to all the children trapped in the bodies of men and women, and, which I'm sorry to report, I occasionally behave like. Hey, I never said I was a gentleman or a diplomat. Catch me with my hair down and you'll get an earful of stupid but good.

But there is one difference between Donald Trump and me; in fact there's one difference between Trump and 99 percent of the human race. All of us have checks and balances in our lives called people who reel us in and remind us that we're assholes.

I've made no secret that I once did my fair share of drinking. I don't anymore, mainly because when I did bad things would tend to happen. I go to a support group of people just like myself to make sure I don't forget who I am. These groups are instrumental in allowing me to "grow up" and become a more responsible person in society.

By no means is this process perfect. We are hardly saints, but we try our best. Someone once coined a phrase that perfectly describes us: we are ego maniacs with inferiority complexes. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it's really not. When you think about, it's the textbook definition of an addict. A person who needs to control his or her environment to overcompensate for feelings of inferiority. That is why people drink, drug, overeat, compulsively gamble, you name it.

That is precisely who Donald Trump is. He is an ego maniac with an inferiority complex.

Now not all addictions are physical. In other words, they all don't require the ingestion of a substance or actively doing something like gambling. For some addicts, it's all about power. When you think about it, power is the ultimate drug. Who doesn't want to be the master of his or her own universe? The world of politics and business afford people the opportunity to live out the ultimate dream: domination.

Trump is hardly alone when it comes to men looking to dominate their field. One of the greatest myths about capitalism is that it's about free enterprise. In actually, it's about market domination. Companies may publicly say that all they're looking to do is simply grow their market share, but privately their end game is to take over and control the market. Trust me, I have worked in several industries from banking to computers to home theater to security door hardware and in each one of those industries there has been a dramatic consolidation of that market as smaller companies were bought out, i.e., acquired, to form larger, more powerful ones.

The moral of the story is that, in America, size matters. You're taught about the American dream in school and that all you have to do to realize it is to work hard. But then you find out that the reality is far different. It isn't about getting your fair share; it's about screwing the other guy before he screws you. Absolute power corrupting absolutely, sadly, is the engine that drives the U.S. economy.

Donald Trump grew up in that environment. He learned how to game the system in a way few could only contemplate. He made his fortune - such as it is - on the backs of people who never saw him coming. He became a success by rewriting the rules to suit his own agenda. And he did it without hesitation, free from any burden of responsibility for the pain he might be inflicting on others. And when his plans didn't work out, he left his investors holding the bag while he hid under the bankruptcy protection laws of this country. FOUR TIMES! His excuse? He was simply taking advantage of the rules. It's not his fault.

It never is with Trump. Think about it. There was no one to reign him in during his formative years, no one to hold his feet to the fire and say, "You're wrong." The thought of Trump making an amends to someone is laughable. People have lamented about his lack of empathy and his inability to apologize. How can a person empathize or say I'm sorry when they seriously believe they have never been wrong or made a mistake? I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to think I'm perfect, but for Trump, it's axiomatic. The man is his own god.

When you combine his maniacal quest for power, his unwillingness to allow anyone in that could challenge his preconceived notions or beliefs, his incapacity for self reflection and his thin-skinned hypersensitvity, you have a disaster in the making. This man is looking to become leader of the feee world and he exhibits all the personality traits of a Charles Manson with a fountain pen. He boasts about what he would do on his first day as president. I and millions of people shudder at the mere thought.

He doesn't belong in the Oval Office; he belongs in a psychiatric facility. Or perhaps a good 12-Step program. Either is preferable to the White House.