Showing posts with label Smart? Politician-Trump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smart? Politician-Trump. Show all posts

March 18, 2017

Bracing for A Scorched Land as Trump Takes the Money Away from the Arts for More Nukes

National Public Radio could lose federal funding under proposed Trump budget © AFP Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) 20 Save MARCH 16, 2017 by: Shannon Bond in New York President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for public media and the arts has public broadcasters, local radio and television stations, and arts groups bracing to fight for their lives.

 Sample the FT’s top stories for a week You select the topic, we deliver the news. Select topic Enter email addressInvalid email Sign up By signing up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy. The prospective cuts would bring on “the collapse of the public media system itself”, warned Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funnels federal dollars to nearly 1,500 TV and radio stations across the country as well as NPR and PBS, the non-profit broadcasters. 

 Salman Rushdie, Jasper Johns and Rosanne Cash added their names to a PEN America petition to protect funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which support artists, writers, musicians, academics, museums, libraries and non-profit organisations. “Eliminating these vital agencies would lessen America’s stature as a haven for free thinkers and a global leader in humanity’s shared quest for knowledge,” the petition states. Federal support for media and culture has long been a target of conservatives, and these organizations have faced defunding threats before. 

Ronald Reagan intended to eliminate the NEA in 1981 but ultimately scrapped his plan. Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, tried to abolish both the NEA and NEH in the mid-1990s but settled for a compromise with Bill Clinton for steep cuts to their budgets. Related article Trump’s budget slashes EPA and state department spending The scale of what Mr Trump aims to do, as part of a sweeping re-evaluation of spending across the federal government, is different, said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, the writers association. “In the past it’s been caught up in the culture wars. It was a debate about what was art and what art deserved taxpayer dollars,” she said.  

“This is much more of a scorched earth strategy . . . So many functions of the state are in jeopardy now and arts and humanities are one of them,” she added. PEN and other advocates argue that the US already spends very little on arts and culture compared to other countries. In 2016, the NEA and the NEH each received $148m and the CPB received $445m from the government — adding up to less than one-tenth of one per cent of the annual federal budget. In the UK, the BBC is funded by £3.7bn in annual television licensing fees. Countries such as China, Russia and Qatar have recently expanded state-backed media outlets China Central Television, RT and Al Jazeera in a bid to extend their influence through soft power.

 As Mr Trump’s budget plans were unveiled on Thursday, US public media and arts organisations were ready with data and lobbying plans to push back. “The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids ages 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, life-long learning, public safety communications and civil discourse,” chided Paula Kerger, president of PBS, the public TV broadcaster. 

 PEN America is opening its first office in Washington to support its lobbying efforts, which will focus on working with local organisations around the country to urge their representatives to protect their federal funding. Advocates argue that public support is most critical for the community theatres, local library programmes and rural broadcasters that the NEA, NEH and CPB support. “The idea in the past that these were elite institutions in service of other elite institutions is not the case this time around,” Ms Nossel said. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017

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February 6, 2017

On Obama Care Trump Voters Will Do the Heavy Lifting


Donald Trump's most ardent supporters are likely to be hit the hardest if he makes good on his promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and embark on trade wars with China and Mexico. 
"I think you're going to get a disproportionate impact on people who supported Donald Trump but maybe don't realize that his policies may end up hurting them instead of helping them," said Michael O. Moore, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University. 
 How Immigration Went from Being Hotly Debated to Accepted in One Pennsylvania Town 1:59

Half of Republicans Have Obamacare 

According to Gallup data, the number of Americans without health insurance was just under 11 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from roughly 17 percent three years earlier. 
Odds are, a large number of those newly insured were Trump voters: An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6.3 million of the 11.5 million Americans who used the ACA marketplace to buy their insurance last year live in Republican Congressional districts. 
Policy analysts say that a rollback of the ACA would hurt older and rural Americans — two populations that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. 
One ACA rule that would likely disappear under a Congressional repeal put limits on how much more insurers could charge older customers, said Josh Bivens, director of research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Rolling back those caps would mean that older Americans trying to buy health insurance would pay more, especially in areas where there was little competition in the insurance market, as is the case in many rural states. 
"For older voters who aren't in great health and don't live in states that are densely populated, I think they're going to be really hammered," Bivens said. 
The Americans who have the most to lose from a repeal are low-income families living in the 32 states that expanded Medicaid to cover more than just the very poor, Bivens said, but even the comfortably middle class — an income bracket that broke for Trump by a narrow margin in the election — could see their costs rise. 
According to CNN's post-election exit poll, Trump edged out Clinton by three percentage points among Americans who earn between $50,000 and $99,999. The Affordable Care Act's premium subsidies are available to households with incomes of up to $97,200 for a family of four (to rise to $98,400 next year). 
Likewise, Trump's early trade agenda could hit a surprising number of American pocketbooks. 

Smaller Cities Hit Harder by Trade War 

By abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the new administration slammed the door on potentially lucrative Asian markets like Vietnam, said Daniel Ikenson, director of trade policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. 
"They've been somewhat difficult for U.S. exporters to penetrate, so those barriers to trade would have gone away or would've been reduced considerably," he said. 
A recent Brookings Institution study shows that, by the numbers, a handful of big cities like New York and Los Angeles do the heavy lifting when it comes to U.S. exports. But when you look at how important exports are to a city's economy, a different picture emerges, one that shows smaller cities — many in red-state territory — with the most to lose from the isolationist policies Trump has embraced. 
"As a share of a local economy, the most export-intensive places in the country are smaller — they tend to be in the Midwest in places like Indiana and Michigan, or the South," said Joseph Parilla, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. 
Parilla pointed to vice president Mike Pence's hometown of Columbus, Indiana, as one such example. "Half of its economy is devoted to exports… compared to about 10 percent of the nation's economy," he said. 
David Brown, deputy director for the economic program at the Third Way, said rural areas that depend on agriculture are especially likely to struggle. 
"Agriculture — it's not the biggest part of the American economy, but in some parts of America, it's virtually the whole economy," he said. "U.S. farmers had a lot to gain from the TPP… and they've gained a lot from NAFTA," he said. 

Lower-Income Families Will Pay the Higher Prices 

In addition to keeping American companies from growing exports, trade policy experts say the import tariffs Trump has threatened to impose on Mexico and other trading partners would wind up costing all consumers. 
"When you look at what Trump wants to do by restricting imports, your mind first goes to consumers. If you put a 20 percent tariff on goods coming from Mexico, it's a complete fallacy that this will be felt only in Mexico," Brown said. "These are products from cars to tomatoes — everyone's going to feel that effect," he said.  
Brown and other trade experts point out that the brunt of this will be borne by lower-income families, since poorer people spend a greater percentage of their income on goods than their wealthier peers. And rural Americans, living in places with less population density and less retail competition as a result, are more likely to notice those increasing prices. 
"I don't think many of the supposed jobs that are going to be created are going to be in those rural areas, so they're not going to get the benefits, but they're going to get the cost," Moore said. 
"One of the tricky things about tariffs is the benefits to seem to be concentrated and the costs are spread across the country," he said. People will be reminded of that." 


November 16, 2016

Intelligence Committee Expert and Trump Supporter Feels Kicked Out

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers left President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, days after Trump’s surprise victory and a shakeup at the top of the team’s organizational chart.
Rogers’ abrupt departure came at the request of team officials, said two people familiar with the matter. The Michigan Republican, who’d also worked for the FBI, had been tapped to help guide the new administration on national security issues.
Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers
Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
“These past six months, it has been an honor to serve as National Security Senior Advisor to the Trump transition team,” Rogers said in a statement after his departure was reported.

‘Friend’ Pence

“Our work will provide a strong foundation for the new transition team leadership as they move into the post-election phase, which naturally is incorporating the campaign team in New York who drove President-elect Trump to an incredible victory last Tuesday,” Rogers said.
“My team and I are pleased to hand off our work to my friend and former colleague, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Executive Director Rick Dearborn, the Trump family, and the stellar new leadership team,” he said, adding he looks forward to advising the administration as needed.
Trump made Pence chairman of the transition team on Friday, demoting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to be one of six vice chairmen. Rogers joined the team before Trump’s election, when Christie was still leading it.
Pence and Rogers entered the U.S. House the same year, and they are said to be close.

Steep Task

After his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump now faces the steep task of filling thousands of administration jobs when he’s inaugurated in January.
Kellyanne Conway, who managed his campaign, said additional appointments could be announced this week, including Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary.
Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin, who was the campaign’s national finance chairman, has been recommended by Trump’s team to lead the Treasury Department, according to two people familiar with the process.

November 14, 2016

Billy Bush and Donald T. Might Be Grabbing Puzz Together Again

In an interesting turn of events—though after this past week what isn't an interesting turn of events—Billy Bush may have a new gig after being fired from NBC last month. Bush was terminated from his job at the TODAY show for his involvement in Donald Trump's "grab them by the pussy" scandal. But a report in the New York Post suggests Bush is being courted by Breitbart, the conservative website that went to great lengths to support Trump throughout his campaign.

In case you forgot (you lucky devil) Bush was part of the infamous hot mic tape, which captured a conversation between Bush and Trump on a bus prior to an Access Hollywood interview. The recording picked up a lewd, sexually aggressive conversation in which Trump boasted about kissing and grabbing women without their consent. Bush did not himself make such boasts, but was criticized for laughing along and not condemning Trump's comments. Melania Trump said in a lter interviewed that her husband was being "egged on" during it.

What Trump wrote off as just "locker room talk" eventually precipitated Bush being fired by NBC, after initially suspending him. And by equal measure, it tanked Trump's campaign. Just kidding, guys! The comments on the tape, nor the slew of sexual assault allegations that came afterwards — which Trump adamantly denied — appeared to deter his supporters and he's our president-elect now.

But now there may also be new life for Bush. Breitbart News Network is reportedly pursuing Bush to help expand it's entertainment and Hollywood coverage, according to the New York Post Page Six report. “They are trying to recruit Billy Bush,” a media insider of Breitbart told the New York Post. “They want to expand covering Hollywood in a big way — and think Billy would be perfect for the job.” The report noted that a representative for Bush has not responded to request for comment.

It would certainly change Bush's brand if he went to Breitbart, a website that, at the very least, appears to pander to, the "alt-right," a group whose viewpoints are steeped in racism and xenophobia. It's former executive chairmen, Steve Bannon, was named chief strategist and senior counselor to the Trump administration this week. Some of the Breitbart headlines published under Bannon have included "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy" and "There's No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews."

It is rather obvious to point out that Breitbart would likely offer a very different (to put it kindly) tone from Bush's previous gigs at the TODAY show and Access Hollywood. If this Breitbart offer is, in fact, legit, Bush will have to decide if this is a direction he is willing to go in.

November 9, 2016

Two Women Showed UpTopless at Polling Place to Protest Trump

Two women were arrested at a midtown New York City polling location Tuesday morning after taking their shirts off and chanting anti-Trump slogans. (I can't exactly make out what they're saying—something about polls? Or balls?) One of the women had something about Trump written on her bare chest, the other had “Femen USA,” a feminist activism group, written on her back. 

Although they were at Donald Trump's designated polling station, it doesn't seem like Trump was present at the time. But this is not the first time nude women have showed up to protest Trump.
Update 11/8, 11:15 a.m.: The New York Daily News reports that the two women are in custody at NYC's 17th precinct pending charges. Getty photos show more clearly what was written on the women’s bodies:

November 6, 2016

What Type of Gays Would Endorse Trump? Think Male, Vanilla

 Male, White

On Sunday night in Greeley, Colorado, Donald Trump spotted something he wanted in the crowd. He gestured to a supporter, who handed a wad of rainbow fabric up to the stage. Trump unfurled it for the fans and cameras — a pride flag scrawled with the words “LGBTs for Trump.”

He strutted stage left, grinning and nodding to the audience with a literal sign of his diverse support. A Facebook group called LGBT for Trump posted a photo of Trump with the flag on Monday morning, captioning it: “Most pro-gay nominee of any party ever.”

Both Trump and his supporters have nurtured this LGBT-cozy image, diverging from past Republican presidential candidates. That coziness was on display during the Republican National Convention in July, when a group calling itself Twinks for Trump held a soiree festooned with poster-size photos of lithe, shirtless young men in Trump caps. Inside the convention two days later, Trump pledged to protect “LGBTQ” citizens, taking care to enunciate the “Q” — a gesture to queer people.

Despite all this, Trump’s campaign has not confirmed any direct outreach to LGBT voters. Over the last three months, his staff has not answered questions from BuzzFeed News about whether Trump has an LGBT policy platform, contacted or plans to contact LGBT communities, or if anyone on the campaign staff is LGBT themselves. He also did not fill out at least two LGBT groups’ surveys about his positions.

Further, Trump’s most prominent LGBT supporters and surrogates are not a spectrum of LGBT diversity, but rather, are overwhelmingly white gay men. Which is to say, “LGBTs for Trump” reflects much of same homogenous bloc of dudes who make up the rest of his base.

“Essentially it is a Facebook page,” Barron explained in a phone call. There is no board of directors and its members are the 1,509 people who have liked the page. A smattering of other Twitter and Facebook accounts, which are run independent of Barron and separate from the Trump campaign, promote variations of the same theme.

Barron has become the most public face of LGBT for Trump supporters, pressing his message in cable TV interviews. He built bridges in the past between Republicans and gays with the group GOProud. And this year, he said, he has been in touch with the Trump campaign to consult on media and other LGBT issues.

He brushed aside any concern that Trump lacks an LGBT platform or that he supports certain anti-LGBT positions, because, he said, Trump tolerates LGBT people around him. “If there had been a pride flag on stage at a Mitt Romney event,” he speculated, “Romney would have been running off the stage.”

Barron was not aware of any LGBT Trump staffers nor a lesbian Trump group, but argued the movement is diffuse. “There are a bunch of grassroots activists — they are all over the place,” he said. “I certainly know lesbians for Trump. I know more than one, but I don’t know the exact number.” He added that “there was a picture of a transgender person for Trump” at a pride event in Savannah, Georgia, though he didn’t specify where that photo was published.
Trump’s most prominent gay supporters are Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who spoke at the RNC, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a columnist of the white nationalist alt-right.

“Just because the most visible LGBT folks for Trump happen to be gay white men, not every LGBT person for Trump is a gay white male,” said Barron. “We are an incredibly diverse community.”
There is no doubt that Trump has backing from some lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people — though polls show the numbers are quite slim and they don’t compare to Hillary Clinton’s hearty LGBT support.

Yet in July, they appeared in short support supply at the Twinks for Trump event.
“I do not remember seeing any trans people,” Carlos Maza, who attended the event and works for the left-leaning Media Matters, told BuzzFeed News. “There were women, though the few I interacted with seemed to be straight.”

Lucian Wintrich leads Twinks for Trump. “It’s not really organization,” he said on the phone this week, calling it a small collective of “primarily gay men.”
“I am a gay man, so by virtue of that, gay men will reach out to me,” said Wintrich.

Inside the Twinks for Trump party

Finding a lesbian Trump supporter became a goal for Jennifer Bendery, a Huffington Post reporter, who wrote an article about her search last month accompanied by an illustration of a unicorn in a haystack.

“It took me a week to find just one lesbian,” Bendery told BuzzFeed News. “A couple others started trickling in after that. Add to that a smattering of gay white men, and you’ve got an LGBTQ coalition as diverse as a bag of iceberg lettuce from Safeway.”

Statistics bear out Trump’s paltry LGBT support — and he struggles particularly among women. A Gallup poll this month found LGBT voters view Clinton almost five times more favorably than Trump, but LGBT women were especially wary. Only 9% of LBT women reported favorable feelings for Trump; GBT men were at 16%.

“You’ve got an LGBTQ coalition as diverse as a bag of iceberg lettuce from Safeway.”
Trump lost many voters by picking running mate Mike Pence, who, as Indiana governor and former Congressman, opposed LGBT-rights bills. Trump also created furor in September with a pledge to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill in Congress that would protect those with religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The country’s top LGBT Republican group, the Log Cabin Republicans, declined to endorse Trump this year due to his anti-LGBT advisors and support for anti-LGBT legislation.

This flaccid buttressing from LGBT people hasn’t stopped Trump from inflating the appearance of their support. His online campaign store features an LGBT for Trump t-shirt. And though none of the positions on his website address pro-LGBT policies, the site links to external news articles to help burnish his image, including one ABC News piece titled “Donald Trump says LGBT voters like him ‘very, very much.’”

“It seems every time he opens his mouth, Donald Trump boasts about fictitious support from one corner or another,” said Jay Brown, a spokesman for the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign, which was unable to get Trump to fill out its candidate survey.

“He’d undo all the progress we made in the last eight years — and his campaign is especially threatening to those of us who are transgender, who are women, who are Latinx, who are Muslim,” Brown said. “I don’t think that’s lost on the majority of LGBTQ people despite his claims.”
The transgender advocacy PAC Trans United Fund also told BuzzFeed News this summer that Trump never responded to their survey. Clinton did not fill out that group’s survey, either.

Yet Clinton’s campaign has wooed an LGBT bloc aggressively, using a bench of LGBT surrogates, targeting outreach to LGBT voters, and pairing with with LGBT originations. Clinton also enjoys lavish donations from LGBT funders. But, as BuzzFeed News has also noted, one of her LGBT rallies this spring also skewed white and male.

There is some notable diversity in Trump’s LGBT support, including transgender activists on the Trump train. In June, as Breitbart reported, Facebook deleted the account for Transgender for Trump after the group’s administrator posted a video of an Imam advocating death to homosexuals.

Caitlyn Jenner, a leading voice for transgender Americans, praised Trump in April for standing “behind the LGBT community,” and she spoke at the RNC to advocate for LGBT inclusion in the party generally. But Jenner has since said she is not outwardly supporting any candidate this election.

A person who runs one of a handful of “LGBT for Trump” Twitter accounts told me by direct message they are transgender. But when I asked for a Facebook or Twitter account to verify their identity, they blocked me. That account, which has more than 5,000 followers, published a lewd anti-Muslim tweet recently about Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, who is gay. “Robby Mook needs to be thrown in a mosque during prayer time wrapped in bacon with stapled pictures of muhamad getting banged by a pig.

A Facebook page with about 5,000 followers, called “LGBTrump - Gays for Trump,” is run by a gay man named Joe Murray who contributes op-eds to local papers. “Of the two major political party candidates,” his website explains, “Trump is the only one not afraid to say radical Islam and Trump is the only one who has the back of our brave law enforcement.”

Another Twitter account called “LGBT support Trump” pinned a tweet that says “we represent the millions of #LGBT that support @realdonaldtrump.” It has 81 followers.
But Barron, from the most established LGBT for Trump group, said no single entity “is going to be emblematic of all of a candidate’s supporters.”

“People can take Trump to task for plenty of things, but not the LGBT issue,” said Barron, emphasizing that Trump departs from years of anti-LGBT hostility from Republicans. “I feel like I’m driving a Rolls-Royce after years of driving a Yugo.”

November 5, 2016

Ivanna Trump Worked Illegally in the US Earning Thousands

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has put illegal immigration issues at the forefront of his campaign. But a new report claims that his wife, Melania Trump, worked in the United States before she had obtained a work visa and allegedly illegally earned over $20,000.
According to the Associated Press, Melania was paid $20,056 over seven weeks for 10 modeling jobs in the United States in 1996 while she was on a B1/B2 visitor visa. The news outlet cites detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago in their reporting.
The B1/B2 visitor visa allowed Melania to stay in the U.S. to look for work, but not to perform paid work in the country. Melania, through immigration attorney Michael J. Wildes, released a statement on Oct. 5 confirming she came to the United States from Slovenia on August 27, 1996 and pursued a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. However, Wildes also said that Trump didn’t obtain her work visa until nearly two months later. 


“Shortly, therefore, on October 18, 1996, the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia issued Mr. Trump her first H1-B visa, a category which authorizes employment as a model in the United States. Mrs. Trump was thereafter consistently issued H1-B visas, five in total, between October 1996 and 2001, at which point she became a lawful permanent resident, or ‘green card’ holder,” Wildes wrote.
Documents provided to the AP, however, indicate that Melania was paid for work between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15 — therefore making the income earned outside of the bounds of her visa.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Wildes did issue a statement to the AP after reviewing their source material — which they said included ledgers, accounting documents and a management agreement signed by Melania from Metropolitan International Management.
He told the AP that “these documents, which have not been verified, do not reflect our records including corresponding passport stamps.” The AP said he did not elaborate or answer additional questions asking for clarification.  
In August, she responded to reportsquestioning the legality of her immigration.
“Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue. In July 2006, I proudly became a U.S. citizen. Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to live, work and raise a family in this great nation and I share my husband’s love for our country.”The potential first lady has refused to make her immigration papers public, despite a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump.

Report stating that Melania Trump’s former records suggest that she was on a tourist visa when she was modeling and therefore not allowed to work.

 On Thursday, she talked about her decision to come to the United States while giving a speech for her husband.
“As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to follow my dream to a place where freedom and opportunity were in abundance. So of course, I came here,” Melania said. “Living and working in America was a true blessing — but I wanted something more. I wanted to be an American.”

People Magazine
*In 1971, she married real estate agent Alfred Winklemeier, but they were divorced in 1973. In 1975 she left Czechoslovakia for Canada to be with a childhood friend, George Syrovatka, who owned a ski boutique there. For the following two years she lived in Montreal and worked as a model for some of Canada's top fur companies. She then left Syrovatka and moved to New York to promote the Montreal Olympics.

It was in New York that she met Donald Trump, son of prominent real estate developer Fred Trump. On April 7, 1977, she married Donald John Trump, in a lavish society wedding. Donald and Ivana Trump became leading figures in New York's high society and business during the 1980s. 

Slate: Why A Friend Should Not Vote for Trump

Four years ago, I wrote you an open letter, arguing that, while I could appreciate your long loyalty to the Republican Party, voting for Mitt Romney meant voting against the interests of your gay son, my best friend since college. This year, the stakes for our nation and the world are even higher than they were then, and Donald Trump’s record on LGBTQ equality can seem insignificant considering his record—and character—when it comes to so many other critical issues.
To me, though, and to your son, it’s anything but insignificant. That’s not only because Trump’s positions on LGBTQ rights are far worse than they may seem. It’s also because one of the things I’ve grasped in newly visceral ways in the wake of our movement’s national marriage equality win is just how intertwined all our interests are, just how true it is that a nation and its leaders must be judged by how they treat the most vulnerable. That means the needs, fortunes, aspirations, and safety of Latinos, Muslims, African Americans, women, disabled people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and everybody else—including you—rise and fall together. It would be both selfish and foolish for me to think that a president with some level of professed sympathy for LGBTQ people but unabashed contempt for all these other Americans would somehow be good for me or our country.
It’s small comfort to me, and I’d hope to you, that Trump has waved the rainbow flag and voiced amorphous support for the LGTBQ community—while slighting and reportedly abusing members of so many of these other groups. Indeed, it is personally insulting to me as a financially comfortable white gay man, who has recently enjoyed unfathomable advances in rights and privileges, to hear this classic divide-and-conquer demagogue utter mollifying niceties about my people while making it crystal clear that he will put so many marginalized people at risk—and seek my vote while doing so.
So I am writing you now to ask you once again to reconsider your possible vote for Trump on Nov. 8.
Let me start this appeal by making sure you’re aware of what Trump’s actual positions are on the major issues of importance to folks like me and my husband—and to your son and his partner. While the GOP candidate has claimed he is supportive of LGBTQ rights, he in fact opposes our right to marry, something the Supreme Court, the Democratic Party, and a solid majority of the American public now consider a fundamental right that can fairly be regarded as a litmus test for LGBTQ support. Discussing the court’s 2015 Obergefell decision that made marriage equality legal nationwide, Trump told Fox News, “I disagree with the court,” and he has vowed to appoint new justices “very much in the mold of Justice Scalia.”
As I’ve written elsewhere, Scalia spent a lifetime building an anti-LGBTQ legacy that will make his name forever synonymous with virulent homophobia and with outright contempt for LGBTQ people. Yet Trump went out of his way to call Scalia a “beloved great Catholic thinker and jurist” in reiterating his intention to appoint justices like him to the court. And it’s not just a constitutional reading on marriage equality that Trump was criticizing. He has repeatedly made clearthat he personally opposes same-sex marriage as policy, telling Bill O’Reilly in 2011, “I’m against it,” and saying last year that he supported “traditional marriage.”
Perhaps you heard Trump initially support the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. Could he be a moderate on such issues? The answer is no. Recognizing the need to appease the Republican base, Trump quickly hedged on discrimination law and then reversed himself entirely, coming out solidly against protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination: By July, Trump had cast his lot with HB2, the venomous North Carolina law that requires people to use the bathroom that aligns with their birth certificate and killed local laws that would have protected LGBTQ people from discrimination. “I’m with the state on things like this,” he said.
Trump then dug in on discrimination, explicitly supporting a federal bill that would allow anyone with religious or even moral objections to homosexuality to discriminate against LGBTQ people, irrespective of federal laws or policies meant to ensure equal treatment. Can you imagine letting people who object to building safety codes because of some extreme belief in, for example, free market principles simply opt out of obeying the law? This is no different.
Trump’s fealty to religious extremism is part of a larger effort to attract social conservatives by showing he’ll gladly sell out LGBTQ people to achieve power. To that end, in September he announced the creation of a “Catholic Advisory Group.” Topping the list of 34 names is Rick Santorum who, like Scalia, has made his name interchangeable with rank anti-LGBTQ moralizing.
Santorum is hardly the only rabid homophobe Trump is courting during this election. He has also made overtures to some religious conservative groups, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, whose unconscionable efforts to whip up homophobia in global spots that are already dangerous for LGBTQ people, such as Russia, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia and Africa, can only be called disgusting. After all, it’s one thing to claim adherence to traditional Christian values, but quite another to make a career out of fanning the flames of revulsion against vulnerable minorities in countries where such sentiment can and does result in violence and even torture.
Yet such outfits are a key part of Trump’s coalition, those he gleefully represents. Is it any wonder that his rallies are packed with supporters hurling epithetssuch as “queer” and “faggot” at journalists—to say nothing of the rampant anti-Semitism also infecting his crowds? 
In one of the biggest decisions Trump has had to make as the GOP nominee, the candidate chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Pence is handsome and soft-spoken and may seem like a sage choice given the contrast he provides to Trump’s own norm-crushing candidacy and impulsive, defensive character. Don’t be fooled. My Slate colleague Mark Stern has called the Indiana governor “one of American politics’ most militant culture warriors” for a reason. 
Pence came to national attention last year for championing one of the most far-reaching anti-LGBTQ laws in the country. It allowed not just religious groups but businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBTQ people simply by claiming that they are exercising their religious freedom. The national backlashagainst the law was swift and searing and prompted a modest revision of the statute, but Pence remained a nationally known figure—beloved by social conservatives and condemned by progressives—in large part because of his role in passing the anti-LGBTQ law.
This in itself makes the vice-presidential pick a giant slap in the face to the LGBTQ community, one that personally stings those of us demoralized by watching a concerted attack on the dignity of our relationships at the very moment we were facing a national victory with the freedom to marry. But it turns out that Pence has a heinous record on LGBTQ equality, one that shows him to be far more radical than his modest demeanor may suggest.
Pence is so opposed to marriage equality that in 2013 he signed a law making it a felony in Indiana for a same-sex couple even to apply for a marriage license. As a congressman, he called the 2009 hate crimes law, which increased penalties for bias attacks, part of a “radical social agenda” and stridently opposed letting gay and lesbian troops serve their country, saying it would “mainstream homosexuality” and harm military readiness (contrary to all the evidence) in “an effort to advance some liberal domestic social agenda.” When he first ran for Congress in 2000, he proposed diverting federal funds from HIV treatment to instead “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” an apparent reference to the discredited and abusive practice of conversion therapy.
So there you have the Trump-Pence ticket when it comes to LGBTQ rights. I recognize, of course, that all kinds of considerations factor into our voting decisions. I myself am not a single-issue voter, and my choice would be Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump irrespective of the GOP nominee’s record on LGBTQ rights. I believe Trump to be an utterly amoral, narcissistic conman with such an obvious lack of concern for the common good and with such a transparent ignorance of public policy that it truly bewilders me that smart people whom I respect would not see through his chicanery and anti-democratic tendencies. I also believe that his values and character are an affront to basic decency, something made clear by his positions and rhetoric on women and minorities of all stripes.
I get that many people want someone to shake up Washington and ensure that our economy and security are as strong as possible. But as much as I hear people cite these reasons for backing Trump, absolutely nothing he has said or done, and nothing his supporters can explain to me, indicates that Trump has a viable plan to achieve these goals. You are smart, you are decent, and you have a fine grasp of history. Do you really believe that Trump is what America needs? Can you explain, even to yourself, how you think he’ll solve our problems? Can you really imagine someone who has been accused not only of multiple sexual assaults but of stiffing literally hundreds of his workers and contractors and even members of his own presidential campaign and who reportedly has “no attention span,” will be the person who can get powerful, capable people in a room and mold them into an effective team of problem-solvers? Electing a strongman in hopes of achieving some generalized notion of change is not a plan to “make America great again.” It’s a plan to run it into the ground.
I also get that Hillary is a flawed candidate, whom many don’t like or trust. I don’t have space to enumerate here why I support her so strongly, but I will say this: Despite evidence of having the same will to power as any successful male politician (which, in our world, apparently makes her someone who cares only about herself), Hillary’s entire life of public service, its scandals notwithstanding, have shown me that she shares my values of empathy, equality, opportunity, and respect—and can be trusted to fight for them. That, in a nutshell, is enough for me.
Solidarity is not a new idea. Some have noted that there’s even an element of selfishness in the notion that people might support a position because they identify it with their own interest or that of their loved ones, rather than simply because it’s right. But now is no time to get philosophical. I’m happy to do whatever I can to ensure our country’s stability and prosperity and that of the people I care most about. And I’m counting on empathy—mine, yours, and that of millions of others—to enlarge the sphere of enlightened self-interest in ways that do the greatest good for the greatest number.
I’m guessing you feel similarly about all this. And I know for a fact just how much your son’s well-being matters to you. This is no mere abstraction. Remember when you called me up years ago and said that nothing was more important to you than your son’s happiness, and you wanted me to assure you that, as his best friend, I’d watch out for that? That really moved me. And that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s one reason why, even if you’re open to a Trump presidency for other reasons, I trust that you’ll take a good, hard look at his real positions on issues that directly affect your son, me, and our partners, as well as all your other gay friends, of whom you’ve always been nothing but supportive.
That support, that genuine concern for our well-being, is simply impossible to reconcile with a Trump vote. If Trump were to win and even remotely pursue the positions he has staked out, your son’s partner of more than 12 years—a gay Muslim immigrant—would be suddenly, drastically imperiled. That’s not a recipe for your son’s happiness—or for anyone’s, besides a faction of reactionary voters who won’t get the America they claim to want even if their candidate wins.

 As I’ve said before, you’ve become a second set of parents to me in the quarter-century I have known you. Our reservoir of mutual respect runs deep. I appreciate you considering this appeal, and I know you’ll do what you think is right for you, your family, and our country. The feminists were right: The personal is political. Now more than ever.

By Nathaniel Frank
 Nathaniel Frank, director of the What We Know Project at Columbia Law School, is writing a book on the history of marriage equality.

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