Reactions To The Third Debate

Here are some quick reactions.

Fitness — Clinton and Trump are both terribly damaged goods. Trump is one nasty, unhinged SOB, but occasionally gets something right. Clinton is quasi-robotic, dances around tough questions, but is a very polished performer. Trump is fit for kindergarten. Clinton is fit for retirement. Neither is fit to lead our nation.

Debt — Both are fiscally illiterate. The country is faces a $206 trillion fiscal gap, which is the government’s true debt when you put everything on the books. That’s 10 years of GDP. So we are fiscally speaking totally broke – not it 75 years or 50 years or 25 years. We’re totally broke today. That $206 trillion (not the $20 trillion these two folks were referencing) is the nation’s credit card bill. If we don’t deal with it, it will keep growing. And the longer we wait to deal with it, the greater the damage to our children. The third debate spent less than 30 seconds on entitlements, which underlies most of this fiscal gap.

Syria — We have no clear game plan in Syria, no real understanding of our allies, and no fundamental stake in Syria’s civil war. Our mission there is purely to assist in humanitarian relief and to destroy ISIS and any of its associates. Trump is right to worry about who and what would replace Assad. Clinton’s proposal of a non-fly zone appears half baked. I would propose sending in humanitarian conveys to Aleppo and other besieged cities with U.S. and allied air cover and full warning to Syrian and Russian fighters that they will be shot down if they attack the convoys. But establishing a no-fly zone is occupying Syrian airspace and will likely prompt first Syria and then Russia to test our resolve. We have no reason to get into a shooting match with Russia over Syria — a shooting match that can quickly and very dangerously escalate. Clinton’s suggestion that Trump is too volatile to control nuclear weapons is surely true. But her judgement when it comes to dealing with Russia raises nuclear war concerns as well.

ISIS — Trump’s point about flagging the attack on Mosul made some sense. But if tens of thousands of Iraqi troops are going to take months, i.e., have trouble handling a few thousand ISIS fighters, it’s probably better to have encouraged ISIS fighters in Mosul to flee.  This will assure Mosul’s capture, an Iraqi victory, and further ISIS humiliation. The more ISIS is shown to be losing ground, the less it will captivate quasi-deranged young men in our country and Europe. I agree with Clinton that occupying any part of Iraq is not in our nation’s interest. But continuing to shrink ISIS’ control of cities and towns using our air force and special forces, albeit, at a far faster pace, certainly is.

SUPREME COURT — Both candidates suggested they’d have litmus tests for nominating Supreme Court Justices. My litmus test would be the candidate’s legal reputation and scholarship, respect for precedent, balanced judgement,  ability to think for herself or himself, and political independence. I think our best justices are those whose opinions in tough cases can’t be known even to themselves until they have heard all the facts. Trump’s indication that he would appoint Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and Clinton’s indication that she would appoint Justices to overturn Citizen’s United were both shocking. A Supreme Court Justice is not a political puppet who the President can manipulate by pulling this string or that. A Supreme Court Justice should not be hired to change the law, but rather to assess and abide by the law and to make careful balanced judgements when the law is unclear.

IMMIGRATION — Yes, we need to secure the borders, but neither candidate made clear that our problem is with legal, not illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has, over the last decade, been negative on balance as more illegal immigrants have left than have come. Trump’s wall would increase illegal immigrants in this country because it would keep them from leaving. So whatever wall needs to be built, it needs a big exit hole. The issue with legal immigration is much more pressing since some 1,000,000 legal immigrants, roughly 85 percent or which are unskilled or low skilled, are entering the country each year. This is putting downward pressure on unskilled and low-skilled American workers. I would cut legal immigration in half and shift the mix toward high-skilled immigrants. As for deporting illegal immigrants, I’m with Clinton. We can’t deport more than 10 million people, breaking up their families in the process. That conjures up WWII movies of Nazis rounding up and shipping Jews off to concentration camps. We need instead to secure our borders immediately and then find a path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants who wish to remain in the country. This should be a tougher road for them to hoe than legal immigrants who have been waiting for long periods to become citizens.








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