Tag Archives: donald trump

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Chris Ladd

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Chris Ladd used to be a Republican.

Actually, not merely a Republican. He was a precinct committeeman and campaign volunteer and worked his rear off to get John McCain elected president in 2008. He ran a website, GOPLifer, that was a regular read by Republicans looking for insight, understanding, verification.

Then Chris woke up. Eh, scratch that. He didn’t wake up, so much as he was stirred to awareness and anger by a once-great political party going, in his opinion, batshit crazy. The GOP Chris loved was one of fairness, economic principle, a willingness to engage and compromise. But with McCain’s defeat (and, oddly, Sarah Palin’s simultaneous rise), Ladd experienced a shift that horrified him. Reason was discarded, replaced by religious fundamentalism. Contemplation found itself tossed into the waste bin, overtaken by gut feelings and racially-charged decisions. In short, he felt abandoned.

Hence, Chris—a longtime political journalist who blogs for Forbes—started Political Orphans, a site for those who feel left behind. He has been a vocal critic of President-elect Trump, who he calls a “walking, talking cancerous mass,” and attributes much of the recent election results to a white America resisting diversity.

You’d be making an enormous mistake not visiting Political Orphans or following Chris on Twitter.

Chris Ladd, you’re Quaz No. 283 …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Chris, ever since the election I’ve had trouble sleeping, trouble staying positive. I keep reading these essays on the destruction of America; keep hearing about the awful future of the EPA; keep thinking about Muslims, Mexicans, etc. You’ve been around—is there any good here? Can this possibly work out?

CHRIS LADD: To be clear, there is no way this is going to be “OK” in any conventional sense of the word. We will, however, adapt. We will develop a new definition of normal. I am reasonably confident that the majority of your readers will survive to the end of the Trump Administration. So, at least there’s that.

Two forces are still working in our favor. The first, perhaps surprisingly, is bureaucratic inertia. The second is the fact that Trump won with barely 47 percent of the vote.

As Obama discovered after being elected with a massive Congressional majority—it is very difficult to make the US government do anything under any circumstances. Legislating is hard. And worse than legislating, getting a change of direction implemented by our dense, almost impenetrable deep-state institutions requires remarkable skill and insight. Trump’s ambitions will be limited by his own incompetence, disinterest, inattention to detail, and the blundering high jinks of the dumb, venal bastards in his entourage.

Whatever damage can result from inaction (think: climate change) could be severe and lasting. On the other hand, any potential damage that would depend on his effective use of executive or legislative power (think: a Muslim registry or mass deportations) probably will never materialize. Chances are, the bureaucracy will continue to do all the things it was already doing. New Trump and GOP initiatives will probably be slow to launch or fall apart under the weight of their own stupidity.

His historically weak electoral mandate plays into this inertia. At every step he will be dogged by legal action, silent resistance from bureaucrats and noisy resistance from a newly energized (and furious) American middle.

I still wake up some mornings and get a minute or so into my day before I remember what happened and my heart sinks. This is a tragic situation. Whatever hopes we may have had for ourselves and for our lives in the near term that depended on an effective, responsible central government should probably be … let’s just say, modified. I doubt we will be getting competent leadership in Washington anytime in the near future.

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J.P.: There have been approximately 8,223,221 attempts to psychoanalyze the rise of Donald Trump, and I want to give you No. 8,223,222—because I’m at a loss. How do you explain Donald Trump, political phenomenon? Like, why do people listen to him? People with brains? And do you view him as some odd quirk in history, or as a scarier truth?

C.L.: In pursuit of an answer that makes sense, people seem to be sorting into two blocs. One blames the rise of Trump on pigheaded racists. The other pins the blame on the economic travails of blue collar and rural workers. I’m of the opinion that there is a little of both at work here, but it all rolls up into the meaning of race in America.

I wrote about that nexus between economics and race here. Race is the larger factor here, and not just in some kumbaya, ‘let’s all learn to love each other sense.’ America is built from the ground up on the assumed supremacy of white people—their culture, their religion(s), and their economic priorities. People will tolerate all kinds of “others”—including a black president—so long as they feel secure in the core supremacy of white culture. When that breaks down, they freak out in violent, catastrophic ways. The ‘economic insecurity’ logic for Trump is disastrously flawed unless we recognize the role of race in that insecurity.

Trump is not getting the bulk of his support from “the poor.” His hardest of hardliners are aging, lightly educated white people earning modestly above middle incomes. They are, however, pretty consistently “left behind.” These are whites who for reasons of choice or circumstances did not participate in the great boom of the past 30 years, the largest expansion of wealth in human history.

What these people have lost over the past few decades is not so much factory jobs or middle-class incomes. Much more importantly, political and economic liberalization has badly weakened the shadow social safety net that used to insulate white people, especially lower and middle income white men, from conditions everyone else had to endure.

If you actually listen to Trump supporters describe their reasons for supporting him, you get some version of this:

BENGHAZIFEMACAMPCOMMIESBLACKHELICOPTERSEMAILAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

Nothing these people say about Donald Trump makes a lick of sense, from the Clinton email narrative to the claim that Trump “tells it like it is.” Their arguments make no sense because they aren’t going to talk about their genuine motivations. In fact, they probably don’t even understand their own motivations. Pretending that race doesn’t matter is more central to the American identity than baseball. That denial runs very, very deep.

For the Bernie wing out there looking for validation for their narrative, the nonsense spouted by Trump supporters is an invitation, a blank canvas. These Trump Whisperers are determined to translate this gibberish into a neo-Marxist story of working class angst. It takes a lot of work and a soft focus to pull this off, but they are trying.

For someone raised blue collar in East Texas who has listened to Trumpers when they feel comfortable enough to tell the truth, a clearer picture emerges that has nothing to do with “economic anxiety.” You’ll hear clarity from Trump voters under one circumstance, and only one circumstance—if they feel safe enough (or drunk enough), to tell you “What I think about The Blacks.” Sometimes they’ll substitute Mexicans or in a rare case even The Jews. And increasingly, you might hear what they think about “radical feminists,” which is code for their wives (or ex-wives).

Want to see an antidote to the Trump Whisperers? Read what people from white working backgrounds say once they’ve escaped that world. Kevin Williamson at the National Review drew fire for his cold assessment of the Trump phenomenon back in March. Williamson is no alien to Trumplandia. A native of Amarillo, a place where I spent my holidays and summers in a trailer park, he sees this scenario pretty clearly. Speaking of the Trumpsters, he explains:

“Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence—and the incomprehensible malice—of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.”

There’s a clean, mathematical test available to determine whether white angst is about economics or race. Voters in the primaries had an opportunity to nominate a Democratic candidate who devoted his entire campaign to a Rooseveltian program of democratic socialist economic outreach. Alternatively, they had an opportunity to vote in the Republican primary for a race-baiting Fascist. Look closely at primary results from smaller counties across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Guess which guy white voters picked in greater numbers in the primaries?

Stories written by soft-core sociologists about the plight of white people hit me in a particularly personal place. I grew up white trash in one of those forgotten hellholes in Trumplandia. Most of these places were hellholes decades ago in their imaginary prime. They were hellholes 80 years ago when writers like James Agee came to ogle their inhabitants and muse on their simple virtues. Now they many of them remain hellholes with fewer people and less going on.

Nothing about these places has changed apart from the fact that the rest of the world got better, a lot better. And most importantly, the world has gotten better for people like African-Americans, Hispanics, and women; people whose suffering and enforced weakness used to give Trump voters some relative comfort.

These voters chose Trump because regardless of the outcome, this election wasn’t going to change much of anything about their lives. The place where they live would continue to be left behind under a president named Trump or Clinton. Trump isn’t offering them a chance to improve their town, he’s offering a chance to destroy better places; a chance to turn everything into the kind of rundown, abandoned places they are content to inhabit.

Mealy sympathy-pieces about backwater towns in thrall to Trump offer a certain comfort to everyone else. We would all be relieved to discover that this national nightmare was just a big misunderstanding, another example of “elites” failing to listen to the common people. We could just hug it out.

Sorry. I’ve been listening to these people my whole life. We are not facing some new problem born of globalization or capitalism or trade. We are facing America’s oldest problem.

When white people feel their hold on power slipping, they freak out. And it always starts with the folks lower down the economic ladder, because they have the highest relative investment in what it means to be white in this country. There’s not a damned thing we can do about it other than out-vote them and, over time, out-evolve them until this crippling and occasionally lethal national glitch is slowly worked out of our bloodstream.

Politics in a democracy hinges on an openness to understanding, the quest for empathy. As the Trump Whisperers are demonstrating, that quest can go wrong, especially when both understanding and empathy are stunted by cultural distance. Our drive to find common ground can end up legitimizing or even romanticizing toxic ideologies. All values are not equal. Some values deserve to be aggressively marginalized. Some values should inspire more anger than sympathy.

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J.P.: I would think writing on politics would be ultimately depressing as all fuck. I mean, it’s nonstop squabbling, little gets done, it’s uglier than ever. How do you not want to stick a knife in your temple?

C.L.: Tell me more about this knife …

This may sound odd, but I sort of hate writing this stuff and I’m not completely sure why I continue. It feels like a duty I cannot escape.

This country has done a lot for me. People who came before us made enormous sacrifices to build something unique in human experience. Then they handed their work to us. I feel a duty to take what they gave me and do what I can to preserve and improve it for the people who come after me.

Serving in the military was never really an option. I’m too scrawny to march around with a backpack and I’m too ornery to take orders. Running for office is unrealistic. You need to be likeable on at least some level to win elections. However, I’m reasonably bright and I write words good. So that seems like the best contribution I can make.

The effort feels futile, it is often depressing, and it promises to earn me a lifetime total of $0, but it gives me a chance to make a payment on that debt. So I keep writing and speaking.

J.P.: How did you wind up going from Republican to largely anti-Republican? Was there a moment? A light bulb? What happened?

C.L.: This year’s RNC marked a clear bright line. The party I served as a precinct committeeman and campaign volunteer endorsed a fascist. Democracy depends on compromise and openness to ideas, but I’m gonna take a hard pass on lining up with Nazis. A lot of my thoughts on this situation are in my resignation letter to our local chairman.

For decades I have belonged to a Republican faction that lost much of its influence when Bush II became President. Pragmatic, business-oriented, pro-civil rights Republicans in the Jack Kemp mold have long felt their influence eroding. I grew up in East Texas and I was living in Houston in the 1990s when a band of religious nutjobs took control of the GOP there. Their actions split the party—literally. For several years there were two separate organizations with different leadership claiming to be the Harris County GOP. I found myself aligned with the losers in that struggle, as a particularly ugly and corrupt band of religious fundamentalists won the right to set the party’s agenda.

John McCain offered hope for a resurgence. His 2000 speech excoriating the “agents of intolerance” kept me engaged in the party. Plus, moving to the Chicago area placed me in a far more sane, tolerant and pragmatic local Republican organization which helped a lot.

I was volunteering on the McCain campaign from the beginning, making hundreds of calls into New Hampshire alone. When McCain nominated Sarah Palin it became clear that we were in serious trouble. When he lost the White House and she became the standard-bearer for the GOP it was time to start speaking out more forcefully against the party’s direction. Until last year I was still writing pieces about how the party might be reorganized to shed its dependence on white bigots and develop a sane policy agenda. Obviously, that’s over. I have no idea what to do now, hence the emergence of PoliticalOrphans as a successor to the GOPLifer blog.

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J.P.: You’re the author of a book, “The Politics of Crazy: How America Lost its Mind and What we Can Do About it.” Chris, how did America lose its mind?

C.L.: In short, we won. We prevailed in the cultural, economic and military/strategic challenges of the 20th century so comprehensively and enormously that our victory changed the landscape around us. Even happy developments can produce unintended consequences. Now we face pressures to adapt to a new environment shaped by our success. So far, this generation’s response has been a humiliating failure.

To my view, The Politics of Crazy is ultimately a story about the decline of social capital, that dense network of community institutions that once played a critical, stabilizing role in filtering the craziest ideas and people from the core of our culture. A vast and relatively sudden expansion of freedom, prosperity, and technological progress ate away at the foundations of our social capital institutions in ways we never anticipated.

We are more isolated from our communities, from our core institutions, and from each other than we have ever been. That isolation has weakened mediating institutions that used to keep the culture healthy. With the mediators too weak to perform their functions, there’s nothing to stop Sarah Palin from becoming a VP candidate or some random reality TV star and grifter from becoming President.

J.P.: Chris, what can we do about it?

C.L.: Our best responses probably need to happen on two levels, policy innovation, and reinforcing a sense of social obligation.

On the policy side I think we need to revisit the ideas of libertarian thinkers like Hayek and Friedman. Forget about libertarian fantasies of laissez faire markets solving all of our problems. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m referring to approaches that leverage carefully structured markets as ways to solve problems with less reliance on government. If elected institutions are likely to suffer from a chronic vulnerability to crazy, then maybe we need to find solutions to problems that place less emphasis on central government action. Maybe our lives would be better and safer if those institutions had less direct power over our lives.

In fact, the insurance mandate that formed the basis of the Affordable Care Act started out this way, inspired by thinkers influenced by Hayek and Friedman, working at the conservative Heritage Institute in the 90s. As another example, think of the cap-and-trade approach to carbon regulation. That’s an innovation from the right inspired originally by libertarian thought on pollution control. And it could work.

The right won’t adopt cap and trade because if Jesus cared about polar bears he’d build them an ark. The left won’t get behind market-based solutions because such simple policy mechanisms deprive them of the opportunity to deliver special Easter eggs to their galaxy of tiny interest groups and community organizers. Take a close look at the politics that doomed Washington state’s carbon tax initiative as an example. We cannot continue to operate this way, with the Democratic Party’s patronage engines blocking progress from one side and raving right-wing psychos on the other side promising to pray away our problems.

Along the same lines, what if we replaced the social safety net with its hundreds of thousands of enabling bureaucrats with a universal basic income? Why not replace the war on drugs with a few simple regulations on access? What if we replaced thousands of pages of largely unenforceable and useless gun regulations with a universal insurance mandate for owners? The same dynamics that have doomed carbon regulations have blocked these useful reforms.

I wrote about this at (even) more length in a piece at Forbes. We have to get used to the idea that a society this complex, this large, this diverse, cannot rely on a massive pool of experts in Washington to manage our affairs in minute detail. Markets give us a tool to solve critical public policy problems with a lighter, less expensive, less intrusive hand. These are the ideas I used to hope that Republicans might embrace. They didn’t and now they won’t. But these concepts are still sitting there, waiting for someone to leverage them to build a better future. Approaches like this are our allies in the fight against crazy.

On the social side, I think we need all individually have to get more engaged.

Coming to adulthood in the 90s it really felt like all of the important problems had been solved. Nothing remained but administration. That feeling left us all a bit complacent and drove a massive decline in local civic engagement. One silver lining from the Trumpocalypse is that we have lost our complacency. It looks like we may see a big uptick in public engagement going all the way down to the local level. Social media has a role to play in this process, and we are already seeing its impact.

J.P.: I used to love social media’s possibilities, but I’ve come to think it’s far more awful than beneficial. In other words, I feel like ignorance and unsubstantiated gossip spreads at the speed of light, and truth crawls. Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

C.L.: Adaptation is an evolutionary imperative. Social media is a tool and a threat, just like every innovation. It has disrupted older methods of human interaction in ways no one could have anticipated. Look, mass electrification was a pretty unnerving innovation, but I think we can say with some confidence that it worked out.

Besides, social media is nowhere near as toxic as 24-hour cable news. CNN, Fox and MSNBC are a collective brain hammer.

As funky as social media has been up to now, it is probably the medium through which a truly powerful resistance to the Trump Administration is going to materialize. Granted, it remains the main channel through which my father and his generation consume disinformation and scams. But for digital natives, people who have grown up understanding the need to filter raw information, this medium might eventually be as politically important as the first printed books. Nothing inspires me quite as much as what I am seeing develop in communication technology.

J.P.: I know it’s asking you to guess, but 100 years from now what does history say of Barack Obama’s presidency?

C.L.: At the end of the Obama Administration I tend to think that the main critique of Obama from the 2008 campaign is still pretty persuasive. He seems to be a good, decent, admirable guy who was utterly unsuited by personality and experience to serve as president.

He had control of every lever of government power for two years. All he has to show for it are a bank bailout, no Wall Street prosecutions, the failure to deliver meaningful relief to ordinary people hit hard by the financial collapse, and a cluster-fuck of a health insurance reform that did almost nothing for middle-income voters but saddle them with a mandate. Don’t get me wrong, we’re gonna miss him, but mostly because he’s a pretty great guy on a personal level and he’s being followed in office by a walking, talking cancerous mass.

And 100 years from now? I suspect whatever remains of “history” that far out will recall little if anything from this period more significant than the development of the iPhone, the Cubs winning the World Series and Beyonce’s Lemonade. It feels like we are seeing government and politics eclipsed as a matter of importance in our lives and a vehicle for improving the human condition.

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J.P.: Is it possible that this is merely a blip in American history? That Trump sucks so badly that, four years from now, a progressive Democrat trounces him and a more united, more diverse America emerges stronger? Or is that the spewing of a crack addict?

C.L.: Well, sorta. It seems likely that we are witnessing a phenomenon larger than Donald Trump, and even larger than the low-rent fascism he has fostered. We are probably living through the dawn of the idiocracy. Once upon a time, it was unusual to have a President who didn’t have a degree from a prestigious university. Over the coming decades I doubt we’ll have a single president who doesn’t own an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy or Heisman, or at least have their own TV show.

That’s not to say that we won’t adjust or that life in American won’t get better while this carries on. I just suspect that the presidency is likely to decline in relative importance after four unstable years of Donald Trump followed by the glorious eight-year reign of President Kanye West (Hail Pablo!).

We might be witnessing the end of government and politics as the main engine of human progress in the world. For the past 20 years, politics has given us almost nothing valuable, while markets and corporations have developed usable solar energy solutions, reusable rockets, a hand-held device with access to almost all human information, and made that device cheap enough that 12-year olds are carrying it around.

The death of politics as anything more than a persistent threat to more meaningful human endeavors might turn out to be an okay development in the longer run.

J.P.: You Tweeted something interesting: “To be clear, we didn’t underestimate Donald Trump. We overestimated American voters.” Are the American voters simply ignorant? Callous? Dumb?

C.L.: A lot of this came out in the lengthy, earlier answers, but basically Americans voters care a lot more about white supremacy than almost anyone in mainstream politics wanted to believe, including yours truly. A truly stunning number of American voters are outright assholes, willing to doom the entire national project because hipsters or celebrities or people who say “Happy Holidays” triggered their delicate little feelings. It was a mistake to imagine that a majority of voters care about things like patriotism or sacrifice in any sense that actually applies to their lives. We shouldn’t make that mistake again.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH CHRIS LADD:

• Five most noteworthy Ladds the world has known?: We are not a famous bunch. One uncle describes us as a band of vagabonds and renegades, which has largely been continued into the present. There are, of course, the actors, Alan and Cheryl. The world has yet to know five noteworthy Ladds. We’ll see what the future holds. My kids are awfully promising.

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Andy Moog, The Cranberries, Pierre Trudeau, Anthrax, Super Glue, Jackie Chan, Emily Blunt, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Don Cheadle, Pac Man, Paul Ryan: Jackie Chan, Super Glue (you gotta love stuff that works), Emily Blunt, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Pac Man, Andy Moog (I Googled him), Don Cheadle, Pierre Trudeau, The Cranberries, Anthrax, Paul “Vichy Republican” Ryan

• One question you would ask Herschel Walker were he here right now?: How much money do you figure you gave up in the end by betting your career on Donald Trump and the New Jersey Generals?

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Yes, and it was a remarkably calm moment. I felt deeply sad for my wife and my kids, but I felt like I had done what I could for them and they would be OK. I leaned back and prepared to go hurtling into some suburban Appleton backyard. Then the little plane leveled off and life carried on as normal. It was a strange experience.

• The most important thing a kid needs to know when it comes to learning to engage in politics?: Elected officials are surfers, not the wave. Don’t ever expect an elected official to be a “leader.” That isn’t how this works. If you really want to change things, stay away from Washington. Work in community organizations changing conditions on the ground. Washington is where change ends, not where it starts.

• What Whitney Houston song most moves you to tears?: Perhaps the remake of The Greatest Love of All by the underappreciated geniuses, Sexual Chocolate.

• What happens to Donald Trump in four years?: He’s wandering around his penthouse, the last property he still owns, alone, in a soiled bathrobe, with Kleenex boxes on his feet and jars of his own urine stacked up on the windowsill, shouting orders to invisible generals and aides, waiting for the sweet embrace of death which each day refuses to close around him.

• Coolest NHL uniform? Ugliest NHL uniform?: Having lived in Chicago for a while now, it has come my attention that there is a thing called hockey. That’s the most I can offer there. Apparently it involves ice and sticks or something

Donald Trump and spilled balls of paper

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So most readers know I’m working on a USFL book, which will come out next year. And the stories are endless. About players. About coaches. About fans. And, of course, about Donald Trump, king of the New Jersey Generals. This one, told to me by someone who worked with him, is an absolute gem …

Donald called me when the league was winding down. He wanted to meet and talk business. I flew up to New York with my lawyer. And we went to Donald’s office and he was there, behind his desk, and his lawyer, Harvey Myerson, was also there.

We’re talking, and he says, “We should work together. We could do good things.” And I told him I’d never worked for somebody before. He said, “No, you wouldn’t be working for me. We could be partners.” Well, at that moment his knee accidentally hit the wastepaper basket beneath his desk, and it fell over and all these balls of rolled-up paper went all over the floor. I’m sitting here, across from him, watching all this stuff. All these little balls of paper everywhere. As Donald looks at me, Harvey—his lawyer—gets out of his chair, gets on his hands and knees and starts picking up this paper off the floor to put it all back in the basket. I can’t help myself, I’m laughing aloud. Here he says I won’t work for him but with him. And his lawyer is on his hands and knees, picking up paper. I think Donald, when he saw me watching, he figured out what was on my mind and he started screaming, “Harvey, get up! Get the fuck up off the floor!” I couldn’t stop laughing.

I’ll never forget that.

My Case Against Donald Trump

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I have been thinking much about the rise of Donald Trump of late, but I’m tired of obsessing, worrying, fretting. So I just want to say something, and then I’ll try and (editorially) move on for a while. It won’t be easy, but—again—I’ll try. Because this isn’t healthy.

OK, here I go …

There are a lot of angry people in America, and maybe you’re one of them. You’re angry, perhaps, because you hate your job. Or you don’t have a job. You’re angry because your pay sucks. You’re angry because government doesn’t seem to be working for you. You’re angry because you think Barack Obama hates America, or wants to take your guns, or hasn’t done enough to combat ISIS. Illegal immigration makes you angry. The demise of the coal industry makes you angry. You think climate change is bullshit. You think our PC culture is nonsense. You abhor how liberals seem to have no use for God. You look at Hillary Clinton and feel sick to your stomach. You think she’s an overly ambitious fraud who has no business running for president. You loathe her with a passion.

Hence, for one/all of the above reasons (or for another reason I missed), you plan on voting for Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

I am here to offer my reasoning why this is, to be blunt, fucking insane.

First and foremost, Donald Trump is a con man. I don’t write those words lightly, or to be flip or snarky. No, he is a con man, in the way many televangelists are cons; in the way street corner shell game operators are cons. I know … I know—”But fucking Hillary is the biggest con of all!” No, that’s not true. Is Hillary Clinton an overly ambitious political monster? Yes. Is the e-mail thing fucked up? Yes. Did she defend a husband who deserved no defending? Yes. Are you right to be upset over the way Benghazi was handled? Yes. But Hillary Clinton, at her absolute worst, is your typical paint-by-numbers bullshit politician. She desperately wants to be president, and a ton of her actions through the years have clearly directed her toward that goal.

This, without a doubt, is true. And it’s the reason so many (myself included) find her indigestible.

Were Donald Trump merely indigestible, I’d be OK with him. No, I wouldn’t agree with many of his policy positions. But through the years, nearly all of our high-ranking leaders were indigestible. John F. Kennedy cheated on his wife. Lyndon Johnson’s decision making resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousand in Vietnam. Richard Nixon was a crook. Gerald Ford pardoned a crook. Jimmy Carter couldn’t get the hostages out of Iran. Ronald Reagan got the hostages out of Iran, but ignored the AIDS epidemic and illegally sold arms to Iran. George H. Bush promised no new taxes—then raised taxes. Bill Clinton received office blow jobs from a 23-year-old intern, then lied about it. George W. Bush used false intelligence to lead us into Iraq in the aftermath of 9.11. On and on and on and on—look deeply enough, every political hero and anti-hero has his/her shit. It’s a guarantee.

Trump, though, doesn’t merely have his shit. He is pathological, in the way insane asylum inmates are pathological. And I’m not just referring to a perpetual changing of positions that would make John Kerry seem steady (Not long ago Trump was pro-choice, now he’s pro-life; Not long ago Trump was pro-gun restrictions, now he’s anti-gun restrictions; Not long ago Trump praised Hillary Clinton as a wonderful secretary of state; now she’s the worst woman to walk the planet). Nope, I’m talking about stuff that would straight-up murder the political ambitions of any other political candidate walking the United States. For example, five years ago Donald Trump bragged that he was about to prove Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He bragged of having people on the ground in Hawaii who were about to bring forth shocking incriminating material. Then (poof!) the talk vanished. He just dropped it. Why? Because it was all a lie. Or, to be perfectly clear, Trump was lying about a sitting president of the United States being unqualified to hold the job (Compare this in scope to the Dixie Chicks, a country music group, slamming George W. Bush). Or how about this one? Last July Trump mocked Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam POW, because he was captured. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.” This would be rich enough had a young Donald J. Trump not dodged the draft. As the Smoking Gun reported, Trump’s draft number was 365, and when it was drawn on Dec. 1, 1968, “18 months after Trump graduated” from the Wharton School, Trump “had already received four student deferments and a medical deferment.” Again, for clarity, Donald Trump ridiculed John McCain for being captured during a war he (Trump) opted not to fight.

This goes on and on. A few days ago, during a speech out here in California, Donald Trump said the drought—the worst in modern state history—does not exist. I live here. It exists, and it’s terrifying. He also recently said that global warming is not real—which is funny, in that he cites “global warming and its effects” in a recent permit to to build a sea wall designed to protect one of his golf courses. To repeat: Donald Trump is telling voters he does not subscribe to climate change, while simultaneously subscribing to climate change.

Donald Trump says he is on the side of struggling Americans. He says this over and over and over again. But when asked in 2006 about the potential for a collapsing of the real estate market, Trump said, “I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy.” One year later, Trump told the Globe and Mail that he was “excited” about the housing market plummeting. “I’ve always made more money in bad markets than in good markets.” Again, Trump supporter, think about this: Donald Trump was rooting for people to lose their homes, because he would make a profit. Think about that twice. Three times. His stated excuse in recent days: He was simply a businessman eyeing an opportunity. Seriously.

I can go on and on and on. So I will …

• A few days ago Donald Trump said he would debate Bernie Sanders were someone to put up a large sum of money to go to charity. Someone put up a large sum of money to go to charity. Donald Trump changed his mind.

• Donald Trump ridiculed his Republican opponents for taking money from outside sources. Literally, on Oct. 15, 2015 he Tweeted, “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!” Then, on May 13, Trump Tweeted, “An incredible honor to receive the endorsement of a person I have such tremendous respect for. Thank you, Sheldon!” He is now taking donations from Adelson—after saying he would never do such a thing. Back in February, Trump ripped Jeb Bush for receiving money from Woody Johnson, the New York Jets owner and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. He said the relationship would prevent Bush from negotiating for lower prescription-drug prices. “I don’t get any money from any of these special interests, and I know the special interests—I know them better than anybody,” Trump said. “But I don’t want their money.” Johnson is now vice-chair of the Trump Victory Fund.

• Donald Trump is a billionaire New Yorker who often cites the 9.11 attacks in his speeches. In the aftermath of 9.11, he did not make a single charitable donation to any of the not-for-profit groups that provided aid to survivors, rescue workers, or the families of cops and firemen who died trying to save others, Internal Revenue Service records show.

• Donald Trump repeatedly cites his love of veterans. In 1991, he wrote letters trying to deny disabled veterans a chance to make a living.

• Last November, during a rally, Trump said he witnessed “thousands and thousands” of people cheering in Jersey City, N.J. as the Twin Towers fell. They were, he insisted, Arabs. There’s only one problem: According to Jersey City Police Dept., this never happened. Never happened. He made the entire thing up, and linked to an article at the Infowars website, run by Alex Jones, who has argued that the U.S. government was behind the attacks. Trump has also pledged that, when elected, “you will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center.”

Hell, let’s roll. Donald Trump said Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination—based upon a National Enquirer story. In January Donald Trump told people at an Iowa campaign event that he raised $6 million for veterans groups, including a $1 million donation from himself. It turns out the figure was $4 million—and Trump had not donated a cent. Donald Trump repeatedly says that Vincent Foster, a Clinton associate was murdered—despite myriad investigations concluding that his death was a suicide. Back during last year’s Ebola scare, Trump Tweeted, “Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting.” That was: A. Proven incorrect; B. Batshit crazy. Trump has repeatedly insisted that vaccinations result in autism. Tweet 1: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes — AUTISM.” Tweet 2: “So many people who have children with autism have thanked me — amazing response. They know far better than fudged up reports!” Incorrect and dangerous. Trump Tweeted that black criminals are responsible for 81 percent of homicides against whites. This was: A. Incorrect; B. Material supplied by a white supremacist source. When Antonin Scalia died, Trump said, “They found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.” Not true—and insane. Donald Trump says he opposed the Iraq War—he did not. Donald Trump says he never supported universal health coverage—he did. Trump used to disguise his voice and pretend to be his own publicist. He lied about doing so. Then admitted he did so. Now lies about it again. Back in 1986, Trump said under oath that the NFL offered him a franchise. This was, too, a lie. Donald Trump’s Trump University was a scam of the greatest degree. It’s truly jarring how he ruthlessly took money from people hoping for lessons of success, then offered garbage.

I can be here forever. I don’t want to be here forever. Again, I understand if you don’t like Hillary Clinton; if you loathe Hillary Clinton. But Donald Trump is not the answer. He is a fraud; a con; a person who will say anything to anyone. This is not the same as most politicians, who will say some things to some people. No, Trump will tell folks exactly what they want to hear in the name of being elected. If you disagree with him, he calls you stupid, or calls you a liar, or calls you corrupt, or mocks your looks. He has seen that blaming the media works with his followers, so he blames the media—even when they’re right. He does not answer charges—he bashes those making the charges. And folks lap it up.

He is the third-grade bully brought to adulthood, and he somehow has convinced many of you that bullying is OK. That America NEEDS a bully.

Well, we don’t. We need a president.

Not a con man.

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Johnny Premier

JP4

This is the 259th Quaz Q&A and, I must admit, the most difficult I’ve had to endure.

First, to make something clear: My friend Johnny Premier deserves great credit for being here. Roughly nine or 10 days ago I put out a Twitter APB, requesting a Donald Trump supporter who would consider being Quazed. I was greeted by the unmistakable sound of crickets—until Johnny stepped forward and said he would voraciously defend the man he wants to be our nation’s 45th president.

Now, anyone who reads this site, or follows me on Twitter, knows I would prefer an Oval Office starring Emmanuel Lewis, Dennis Rodman Bob Tewksbury, Lady Gaga or Ray (Boom Boom) Mancini to an occupancy of Trump. I don’t like him, I don’t trust him and I believe (deep in my heart) he’s a genuine say-whatever-it-takes-to-become-president fraud. But—and this is an important but—millions of Americans think otherwise. And if we only speak with folks who parrot our views, well, what’s the point? We learn nothing, we gain nothing, we understand little. So, again, I want to commend today’s guest. Because while I don’t share his beliefs, I do share his interest in grasping the philosophies of others.

Johnny is a huge supporter of Donald Trump. He lives in Las Vegas, where he works for StubHub as a ticket return center coordinator. He has spent a good chunk of time announcing pro wrestling and MMA events, and can be contacted (and booked for gigs) on Twitter. Although we disagree on presidential politics, I have nothing but respect for the man.

Johnny Premier, I hope you’re wrong about our next president. But I’m thrilled you’re here to make his case …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Johnny, I’m gonna kick off with something that’s been itching at me from the start of Donald Trump’s recent political rise. OK, so on March 20, 2003, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks ripped into George W. Bush during a London show, saying she was “ashamed” of the president. And this was a HUGE thing for the right. The Dixie Chicks were berated, shamed, damned. There were CD smashings, death threats, etc. And the general take from the right was an unambiguous, “This crossed a line.” OK, so now Barack Obama is president, and it’s 2011. And Donald Trump is a leader in the birther movement. He is, literally, saying the sitting president of the United States is not an American. Over and over and over again. I found this disturbing then, and even more disturbing now. I mean, this is YOUR candidate for the presidency. Why do you guys not find this disturbing?

JOHNNY PREMIER: I remember that Dixie Chicks controversy well. You’re totally leaving out the context of when the comments were made. We were nine days from invading Iraq, and a declaration of war. To me, that’s a time when, after the debates are done, you as an American should support the troops wholeheartedly. And it’s kinda rich how these liberal ladies who made so much money from our free-market economy were “ashamed” of President Bush.

I supported the Chicks’ right to speak their mind, but their timing was poor. I also supported their sponsors’ decision to disavow that relationship. Here’s the deal, though, with supporting Donald Trump—every once in a while, he says or does something where you say to yourself, “Aw, c’mon, man, let’s not go there.” And for me, the “birther movement” is one of those times. There’s so much about the Obama administration and his specific policies worth criticizing.

But that’s what’s so refreshing about Trump—he doesn’t test out his opinions in front of focus groups or pollsters before rolling them out. There’s an authenticity there!

JEFF PEARLMAN.: You find it refreshing that your preferred presidential candidate repeatedly accused the sitting president of the United States of lying about his place of birth? You’re telling me if Obama or Hillary did something similar you would just chalk it up to, “Hey ho, no biggie”? Really?

JOHNNY PREMIER: Well, there’s never been a Republican president with a Muslim name, so I don’t see how that question is relevant.

Also, whether they agree with him or not politically, I think the American people find Trump refreshing. It’s amazing to think about, but Jeb Bush was at one point the favorite to be the GOP nominee. I don’t think enough is made of that fact. The guy who finished fifth or sixth in the early primaries was once the favorite. Talk about your establishment candidate, with the family name, the big money donors, and the support of the party.

It made no difference. His campaign stalled because there was no refreshing honesty or transparency there. And that is a critical reason why Trump is the nominee, and “low energy” Jeb has no career, no future.

JEFF PEARLMAN: What’s your political background? First presidential election where you voted? Favorite politicians? Etc?

JOHNNY PREMIER: My parents are independent, and raised me to think that way. In doing so, I’ve found that I have always had a deep mistrust of big government. Part of that has been growing up in Connecticut, and our history of crooks (Weicker, Rowland, Dodd—I could go on). The other part is just seeing how ineffective the government is at solving most problems, compounded by how much politicians— mostly Democrats—love spending taxpayer money. The money gives them the power, and the ability to brag at cocktail parties about how they solved problems. It’s all a farce.

The first election I voted was in 1992, for the first President Bush. Ross Perot’s impact siphoned votes from the Republicans and handed that election to the Clintons. It was hard to take, because I knew how dangerous a Clinton presidency would be.

JEFF PEARLMAN.: You mentioned on Twitter that I don’t get Trump’s appeal. And, in a way, you’re right. So explain it …

JOHNNY PREMIER: Look, man, the last two Republican nominees were John McCain and Mitt Romney. Career politicians, mediocre public speakers, establishment guys. Trump has branded himself to be an absolute rock star, through the power of television. You see it at a Trump rally, the excitement that they’re seeing a celebrity. People respond to him because they know he’s going to tell you exactly what he thinks. How many Republicans through the years elicited this response?

That’s why the news channels, and the public, can’t stop talking about Donald Trump. I like him because he happens to be right on a number of issues that are important to me.

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JEFF PEARLMAN: Donald Trump seems to enjoy calling everyone who disagrees with him a liar, or a crook, or whatever insult pops into his head. Yet in 1986, while testifying in a trial about the NFL-USFL, he lied under oath about Pete Rozelle offering him an NFL franchise. In Scotland, as was reported repeatedly on HBO Real Sports, he is loathed for a crooked golf course transaction. Recently there was a tape of him pretending to be his own PR guy back in the day—he lied and said it wasn’t him, after admitting it was him. He also said, on 9.11, he saw Muslims celebrating the World Trade Center attack—an observational that proved to be 100-percent fictional. One. Hundred. Percent. Fuck, the list of total bullshit is v-e-r-y long, v-e-r-y detailed. But I know many folks who simply feel like his supporters don’t give a shit. They always blame the media, or the haters. And, to me, it feels like a cult-like response. What am I missing?

JOHNNY PREMIER: OK, Jeff, so I see what’s going on here. You’re writing a book on the USFL—I’m guessing you were a fan of the league, and in doing that research you’re finding out things about Trump that bother you. Here’s the thing—revisionist history says that the quality of play was good. I remember it to be a poor, second-rate league whose only hope was to merge with the NFL. Trump knew that, and it’s why he tried to merge the Generals. Easy to play armchair quarterback with the benefit of hindsight.

I understand if you’re not going to put this quote on your book jacket, but look, Trump moved on. So should you.

I saw the Scotland golf course hit-piece by noted liberal Bryant Gumbel [JEFF’S NOTE: The reporter was actually Bernard Golberg, who is arch-conservative. Just saying]. It is a beautiful piece of land. They tried to make the old guy who didn’t want to sell into this martyr. I mean, come on.

JEFF PEARLMAN: Donald Trump recently announced his tax plan, which—according to the Tax Policy Center (a nonpartisan outfit)—gives the wealthiest .1% of Americans an average tax cut of $1.3 million and raises the national debt by $34.1 trillion by 2036. Have you looked into Trump’s fiscal policies, besides, “I’m gonna make this country great!”? And what do you think of them?

JOHNNY PREMIER: This question is just loaded with sarcasm. You, clearly, think Trump’s supporters are just these silly people who can’t think for themselves. Of course I’ve looked into it. I love the fact that Americans who are single and make under $25,000 or married and combine to make less than $50,000, will not pay federal taxes. They shouldn’t. I love the simplification of the tax code with four brackets—0 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent. I love the reduction in taxes for business—small and large—which I believe will incentivize companies that have moved overseas to come back. And the elimination of the “death tax” is huge as well.

The beauty is, we’re going to pay for this with a specific plan that will reduce the size and scope of government.

JEFF PEARLMAN: How do you explain the super strong dislike for Hillary Clinton from the right? For the record, I’m not a big fan. But the apparent hate perplexes me a bit.

JOHNNY PREMIER: She’s just a dangerous person, Jeff. When she was secretary of state, four Americans died as a result of the Benghazi, Libya attacks—including the US ambassador. There were real security breaches that leaked from her office. She conducted State Department business from her personal email account in direct violation of State Department protocols and procedures, and federal law. Do we really want someone so irresponsible with classified information to be our next president?

There’s a history here that shows she is a long-time advocate for big government. Based on Hillary’s stated positions from the 1990s to today, and incorporating her senate voting record, the non-partisan Political Compass has her on a scale from -10 Libertarian to +10 Authoritarian as a +7 liberal. The Americans for Democratic Action love her. What else do you need to know?

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JEFF PEARLMAN: People like myself hear the Obama bashing from the right and we scratch our heads. I mean, if you look at the economic figures, the auto industry, the job numbers, Osama’s death, etc—were these the results of a Republican presidency, the right would be crowing … and I’m guessing you know it. So why so much hatred for a guy who, by most measures, has been transcendent?

JOHNNY PREMIER: I take issue with the entire premise of this question. Transcendent?!? There’s not enough time to focus on each issue, but with increasing boldness, Obama has argued for more government action and spending, and unilateral actions on his part to circumvent the GOP majority in congress.

I noticed you left out Obamacare, which has been an unmitigated disaster. Millions of Americans who were promised they could keep their existing insurance plans found their insurance canceled, and millions more who managed to enroll learned they couldn’t keep their doctor, as Obama had promised. Obamacare was a huge grab of government power, and a dismal failure.

JEFF PEARLMAN: Non-partisan estimates place the number of once-uninsured Americans who are now insured between 14 million and 16.5 million. Clearly Obamacare has had its flaws—no doubt. But I don’t see how it’s a disaster.

JOHNNY PREMIER: The Obamacare website cost $2.1 billion to build, and was supposed to encourage competition. It has not. Of the 11 million who signed up you reference, more than 3 million have dropped out by the end of the year.

Obama promised that it would not disrupt existing doctor-patient and health-care insurance arrangements. Completely false. The American medical scene is extremely complex, admittedly, but to resolve them in once comprehensive government program is the wrong solution. And the prohibition against crossing state lines to buy insurance was wrongheaded and must be repealed.

The congressional budget office estimates it will add $1.7 trillion to our nation’s debt over the next decade [JEFF’S NOTE: With all due respect to our guest, this is a very misleading figure]. And for what? Hillary has proposed new, sweeping additions to Obamacare that would paid for by … you guessed it, a new tax! This is part of what makes her and the tax-and-spend liberals so scary. Once a federal program gets started, the size and scope will expand as far as you let them.

JEFF PEARLMAN: There’s no way Donald Trump builds the wall, and has Mexico pay for it. There’s also no way Donald Trump rounds up 11 million illegals. So, if those two things—both lead elements of his campaign—don’t happen, does that mar his presidency? Do you think the right will hold him to it?

JOHNNY PREMIER: Really, there’s “no way” the wall gets built, and there’s “no way” Mexico pays for it? Again, your question is based on a fallacy!

Estimates I’ve seen are that the wall would cost $5-10 billion. The Mexican economy is so dependent on the United States, specifically here the $24 billion annually it receives in remittance from Mexican nationals working in the U.S. We can prevent those wire transfers to poor families in Mexico. Patriot Act Section 326 is a great “stick” to make this wall happen.

The important point here is that immigration to the U.S. is a privilege, not a right. Having a free flow of undocumented people is not in America’s best interest. And I applaud Trump for taking on a politically tricky issue!

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JEFF PEARLMAN: Donald Trump suggested Megyn Kelly was bleeding from her vagina. He insulted Carly Fiorina by saying, “Look at her face! Look at her face!” He said John McCain—a POW in Vietnam for four years—is not a hero because he was captured. He said Ted Cruz’s father was involved in JFK’s assassination. He mocked a handicapped reporter, Serge Kovaleski, by mimicking his disability. He has called Mexican immigrants rapists. He said Seventh Day Adventists were weird. Back in the 1980s in New York he said a bunch of African-American kids deserved the death penalty for raping a woman—and then it turned out they were innocent. It’s a nonstop insult cycle, and, again, I don’t understand why anyone would support a guy like this. Hate Hillary? Fine? Third candidate? OK. But this is REALLY the man you want representing America?

JOHNNY PREMIER: It’s interesting—you started this list with Megyn Kelly. Fox News wanted to be relevant for the 2016 election, so of course they extended an olive branch to Trump for the Kelly interview that was so promoted so hard by the network.

The one soundbite that the liberal media harped on was Kelly pointing out that Trump called her a “bimbo”—OK, fine—but the balance of the interview was great and I believe strengthened Trump in the minds of “establishment” Republican viewers.

As for the rest … eh. It doesn’t bother me, on balance, when you consider the great things a Trump presidency can do for our nation.

JEFF PEARLMAN: One of the HUGE criticisms from the right (HUGE) is Obama negotiating with Iran. I mean, it’s a Top 5 slam. Recently Donald Trump said he’d negotiate with Kim Jong Un. Again, had Obama or Hillary said this—the right would be SLAUGHTERING them. Are you OK with it? And why is this any different than talking with Iran?

JOHNNY PREMIER: Again Jeff, love ya but jeez, you love asking me questions out of context! I saw this interview—his main point here was that we should pressure China (who we have plenty of economic leverage on, but are not using thanks to Obama) into making North Korea change his ways. And that is a main difference between Trump and Hillary.

JEFF PEARLMAN: Trump has said—then said he didn’t say, even though it was on tape—that he would “take out” the families of suspected terrorists and that the military would follow his orders even if they are illegal. This probably doesn’t trouble you. Why?

JOHNNY PREMIER: I know the comments you were referring to, in December on Fox News. I do not support the killing of innocent women and children. However, I think you’re taking them out of context. Trump’s point was that the war against terrorists and ISIS in particular was too politically correct. There’s too much concern with the “rights” of these people. ISIS must be stopped, and if it takes torture of a member who we capture to get valuable intel, I’m all for it.

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JEFF PEARLMAN: Trump has said the minimum wage is too high, but also that he would maybe raise the minimum wage. Do you think he has an actual position on the minimum wage?

JOHNNY PREMIER: In fact, he stated his position on this issue very clearly. He believes the states should decide this issue, and it will foster healthy competition between states, and with other countries. Slightly more than 50 percent of the states have a higher floor than the current $7.25 an hour. And that makes sense. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York are obviously a hell of a lot more expensive to live in than rural areas.

And let me make this point very clear, Jeff. It is critical to the success of Trump’s candidacy that he support deferring to the states on many issues, not just minimum wage, and he has begun to do that. The majority of Americans believe there is too much power concentrated in Washington, D.C. This is one issue we can hammer Hillary on!

JEFF PEARLMAN: In your gut, Hillary-Trump—who wins this election, and what’s the margin?

JOHNNY PREMIER: I remember a year ago, the odds that a leading offshore sportsbook gave Trump to win was 20-1. It is now 2-1. At the risk of this Quaz ending up on @OldTakesExposed I’d suggest you bet on Trump. The Democrats were not inspired by Hillary in 2008 when she resoundingly lost to Obama in the primaries, and they’re certainly not inspired now after the Benghazi and e-mail mess, the big PAC money, and everything else. Bernie Sanders is still mathematically alive on May 23, 2016!

Meanwhile, Trump is a superstar. The Republican Party is getting in line, and that will happen more and more as the election draws near. Plus, you’ve gotta remember, Jeff … politics is in large part a “work.” I think WWE Hall of Famer Donald Trump learned a lot through his association with the company, dating back to hosting two WrestleMania’s at Trump Plaza in the 1980s. Underestimate him at your peril.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH JOHNNY PREMIER:

• Five all-time favorite political figures: I’m going to resist being a wise-ass and writing “Ronald Reagan” five times. An absolute legend. The way he handled the 1981 air traffic controller strike inspired me at a young age. Put it this way—if Jimmy Carter had still been in office, that union would have owned him. 1. Ronald Reagan. 2. Jesse Ventura. Absolutely shocked the world—it’s awesome that a guy with muluti-colored hair who spent 20 years as a pro wrestler and commentator could become Governor of Minnesota. Brilliant guy who sometimes gets in his own way with the conspiracy theory stuff. Definitely appeals to the more Libertarian side of my brain; 3. Trump; 4. Rush Limbaugh. Might have lost a step, but people forget how much impact he had in the early 90s in stopping the left-wing agenda of Bill Clinton and his cronies. I went to liberal Clark University for undergrad, and he helped get me through those years; 5. Gonna leave this open for a politician who will come to lead the Republican Party into the future. Someone like Trump without the baggage?

• How did you become a Jets fan?: Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko, the New York Sack Exchange! They were awesome, man—so much so that I’ll forgive Gastineau for giving America his reality show family. And of course the image of Joe Namath walking off the field after Super Bowl III. Iconic. I was hooked.

In the years since there’s been the Dan Marino fake spike, Browning Nagle, loud boos at the NFL draft, Belichick “I resign as Head Coach of the New York Jets” … you and I both know the pain. The Jets have taken a lot of money from me and given back precious few satisfying moments. Life as a fan, I suppose. On a personal level, I’m finding it hard to root against the Rex Ryan Bills. I really like Rex—he worked hard to change the culture.

• If Hillary Clinton wins, how do you think Trump supporters will respond/react?: Well, I can tell you what won’t happen. You won’t be reading whiny things from us like, “if Trump loses we move to Canada” like you hear from the liberal elite. The Barbra Streisand/George Clooney types. Trump supporters are proud Americans, and we respect the democratic process. Huge difference!

• Who should be the next appointee to the Supreme Court?: Joan Larsen from Michigan, used to clerk for Justice Scalia. Solid!

• Five reasons one should make Las Vegas his/her home?: Man, it is awesome here! I used to be a loyal Bill Simmons reader—before he became a professional podcaster—and found his transition from Boston Sports Guy to LA to be interesting. He’d always remark how you get “sucked in” by the weather here and how hard it is to go back. And I didn’t buy it … until I got sucked in. Jeff, it rains here, like, once a month! Every day is sunny! Spending the first 39 years of my life in the northeast, you do not take that for granted. And the cost of living is ridiculously cheap. I spend half the money for a place that’s twice as nice as my New York City apartment.

People always talk about the casinos, Vegas has every type of entertainment possible, the best restaurants, high culture, low culture … everything except a pro sports team, which will be rectified soon by an NHL team or the Raiders (and, possibly, both)!

• What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?: Was paid $20 to eat a bug when I was a kid. Blew it at the arcade.

• In exactly 17 words, make a case for Rich Kotite: Is this a serious question? Worst. Jets. Coach. Ever. Clueless Rich Kotite does not deserve seventeen words.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Can’t say that I’ve had a moment like that great scene in “Almost Famous.” As Slammin’ Sammy Sosa would say, airplanes been berry berry good to me. So far …

• What’s your take of Bernie Sanders?: It’s wonderful to see how Bernie continues to win states—he trounced Hillary in Oregon. He continues to destroy her on the issue of accepting huge PAC donations from the biggest corporations. And the $250,000 speeches … look, I support free enterprise, people should make as much as their talent merits. But those on the socialist side of the Democrats hate it. Also, there’s something overtly corrupt about Hillary, and Bernie’s supporters sense it. I don’t think there will be a unified party coming out of the Democratic Convention.

• When was the “again” Donald Trump is referring to, as far as America’s greatness?: Let’s not over-analyze an awesome slogan! Look, people use nostalgia to market themselves, as a way to harken to better days … whether they actually were really better or not (I do not want to go back to life before cell phones and Internet).

Trump is awesome at marketing and branding, and it fits beautifully. Think about it … how many national campaign slogans can you remember through the years? Come on Jeff, you know you want the hat.

One man’s letter to Donald Trump

Bassett (left) had little patience for Trump

Bassett (left) had little patience for Trump

As many here know, I am in the early stages of researching a book about the USFL, the long-ago professional football league that lasted from 1983 until 1985.

It’s an amazing subject for a biographical sketch, filled with wild characters, awesome helmets, thrilling games, oddball narratives. The league was overloaded with superstars, ranging from Reggie White and Jim Kelly to Steve Young and Herschel Walker. Truly, this has been a joy.

These days, when one Googles “USFL” or “United States Football League,” he almost always finds 1,000,000 references to Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner who owned the New Jersey Generals. In his two years (1984 and 1985) atop the franchise, Trump established himself both as a man unafraid to spend money (he signed, among others, Doug Flutie out of Boston College and swiped a bunch of free agents from the NFL) and, to be blunt, a complete and total asshole.

Trump wasn’t merely disliked by his fellow owners; he was loathed and abhorred and detested. The general take: Here was a selfish bully who desperately craved an NFL franchise, and viewed the USFL as a temporary (and disposable) vehicle toward that end. Trump memorably led the USFL’s suicide march away from a spring season and toward the fall, and (much like now) his big words and loud voice and thuggish tendencies caused many lemming peers to follow.

But not everyone.

John Bassett was the owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, the USFL’s model franchise when it came to professionalism, class, fan inclusiveness. You cannot find anyone who has a bad word to say of Bassett, and he spent nearly eight years of his life courageously fending off cancer in one form or another. When a series of brain tumors were detected in 1984, right in the midst of Trump’s USFL power grab,  his friends, partners, family members, fellow owners were heartbroken.

Bassett, though, wasn’t one for pity or resignation. Even as he underwent radiation, he fought for the USFL, a league he believed in. He watched Trump rant and berate and stomp and scream, and was disgusted by it all. He viewed Trump as classless and narcissistic; all about self. Hence, on Aug. 16, 1984, Bassett fired off the following letter—which has never been published before and includes a threat to punch Trump “in the mouth.” It speaks volumes.

John Bassett died on May 14, 1986.

I can’t imagine, were he alive today, what he’d think of it all.

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“Um, Jenny, what the …”

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These are my new two favorite people in the world.

I don’t know their names, or where they’re from. I presume they like Donald Trump, because they’re attending his rally down in Florida. I wasn’t at the event, but I can only imagine the dialogue …

Bob: “I’m pretty psyched for this thing to begin.”

Jen: “Me too.”

Bob: “Donald Trump can help America be great again.”

Jen: “I agree.”

Bob: “Oh, look. I think it’s about to start.”

Jen: “Yes, there’s activity on the stage.”

Bob: “Wait.”

Jen: “What the …”