Powers, Identities, Ideologies

Where do you live? A capital city? A planned city? An industrial city? A ghost city? A green city? A colonial city? An authentic city? A global city? A shrinking city? A gentrifying city? A spiritual city? A divided city? An ancient city? Perhaps, a combination of these types? How about a city with powers, identities, and ideologies? Ideas build these various types of physical environments, and physical environments also influence various social, economic, and political factors.

Let’s take a deep breath, and talk about the Middle East. Let’s explore Israeli and Palestinian planning in order to understand this concept, and perhaps, offer conflict resolution solutions for the Arab-Israeli conflict vis-a-vis urban planning. After all, while this conflict is quite complex, it’s also relatively simple: it’s about land.

Imagine if you owned a home, and you’ve lived there for decades. Then, others arrive without a lot of “warmth”, and they surround your home and squeeze you out. You own your house and the newcomers own their homes too (unless we’re talking about Bedouin nomads), but nonetheless, there’s hostility, fear, anger, and hatred due to mutual miscommunication. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong. And no, I’m not talking about yucky yuppies (“yukkies”) in Brooklyn’s gentrifying neighborhoods. I’m talking about Israel and Palestine.

This conflict, of course, has been in the news lately. It’s also been personal news, as some of my family lives in Israel. I’ve traveled there briefly in the past, as well as to the West Bank and Jordan. My family there has fled their kibbutz in southern Israel for the first time ever, which is less than 2km from Gaza. They originally moved there back when Egypt occupied Gaza, long before Hamas took power and began violating human rights. They frequently went to Gaza. There were no walls back then. Israelis and Palestinians actually knew each other.

Even though walls are only one aspect of urban planning, they’re omnipresent. Jerusalem’s Old City has been walled for quite a long time. And now, there are security fences all over the city, separating Greater Jerusalem, the self-proclaimed capital of Israel and of a future Palestinian state, from the occupied West Bank. This wall prevents terrorists from entering Israel, but it also prevents almost all Palestinians from leaving the West Bank, unless they have jobs in Israel. It may be improving safety, but it’s also walling in human beings, and keeping goods and services from entering the West Bank.

Nonetheless, if the wall were to be taken down, would terrorists just start coming back into Israel? The country removed settlements in Gaza a few years ago, and Hamas took power, lobbing rockets off of hospitals, and building war infrastructure instead of schools with donated materials. And why doesn’t Israel just stop building illegal settlements in the West Bank? Aren’t we above this nonsense in the 21st century? I guess not.

Clearly, this is a complex, controversial, and emotional issue, with a lot of wrongdoing on all sides, and this article is not going to come down on any one “side of the wall”, or figure out a miracle solution. It is, however, going to provide some background information that few other articles today are providing: a physical background. Indeed, walls are not just physical — they are mental and spiritual — and they are also representative of the powers, identities, and ideologies that build them.


The Jerusalem Light Rail is a relatively new project, planned during the hopeful period of the Oslo Accords, but completed only a few years ago. It connects West Jerusalem (primarily ethnically Jewish) with East Jerusalem (primarily ethnically Arab), within Israel’s Greater Jerusalem, which extends beyond the 1967 borders. Prior to the Six Day War in 1967, in which Israel’s unfriendly Arab neighbors unsuccessfully fought to destroy the country once and for all, Jordan illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank of Palestine. Today, Jerusalem remains divided, but there’s a light rail route that goes throughout the city, because Israel took control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem all the way back in 1967.

Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians all use the tram, which makes announcements in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. However, many Palestinians consider the tram to be a physical encroachment of Israel into their part of the city. They dislike that it is bringing Jews into East Jerusalem and connecting newly-built Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem with the rest of the city. In fact, they claim it is “judaizing” their city, which is essentially a lament against gentrification and transit-oriented development, coupled with thousands of years of conflict in one of the holiest cities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The tram is a divisive tram, mobilizing and immobilizing at the same time. It unifies the city, but it also acts as a “wall” for many people. It even has been attacked by protesters recently:

It all comes back to the powers, identities, and ideologies that are behind urban planning. Any resolution of this conflict requires an understanding of urban planning, because Jerusalem is, well, Jerusalem. Plus, there’s the issue of settlements and land swaps, and the removal of right-wing colonies (which fuel the Apartheid argument and the BDS movement) and right-wing dictators in Gaza. Clearly, democratic Israel does need to deal with its right-wing policy problems, and Hamas needs to go. Israelis, Palestinians, Kurds… they all need a state

Jerusalem Light Rail in Shuafat, East Jerusalem (mosque in background…)

Who is the “king of the road” in Jerusalem? (Photo taken on Jordanian highway)


If we’re exploring urban planning in the region, we cannot ignore kibbutzim. A kibbutz is a type of settlement which sprouted in Israel as a nation-building tool. Unlike Kiryas Joel in New York State, which is for Yiddish-speaking Satmar Hasidic Jews, kibbutzim in Israel tend to be for left-leaning, non-religious ethnic Jews. Kibbutzim also were founded with self-sufficiency ideals; Jews would work the land together, and reap the benefits together. Kiryas Joel, on the other hand, is the poorest municipality in America (by poverty rate and food-stamp use), even though it’s a place of order and community, with strict dress rules, gender separation in public areas, and strong, grand rabbis…

According to the Village Voice:

When a group of carved the Village of Kiryas Joel out of the woods in the 1970s and named it after their leader, Grande Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum, they intended for it to be a peaceful and isolated place. It was tiny then — about 500 people — but it grew quickly; within three generations, the population has topped 23,000. The founders had had lots of children and their children had lots of children, and these new families needed homes of their own, so the village built more. The homes became smaller and the buildings became taller and the trees disappeared. Now four-story apartment complexes with corrugated walls and bare-wood exterior staircases line the roads. It is as though inner-city housing projects have been dropped along the winding streets and cul-de-sacs of a suburban subdivision. On weekday afternoons a dozen minivans wait at stop signs. The shopping center’s parking lot is full from morning till night. Men wearing wide-brimmed black hats and long beards and white dress shirts beneath black coats shuffle past the storefronts. Women in long-sleeve knits and skirts that reach to their shins push strollers across busy intersections.

With growth came industry and jobs. Locals turned basements into clothing shops and jewelry stores. Outsiders came in search of work. Now Hispanic men unload moving trucks and labor at the many construction sites. West Indian housekeepers commute two hours by bus from Brooklyn. White men in blue Kiryas Joel Public Safety uniforms make rounds in patrol cars. At the kosher poultry plant, 200 gentiles gut chickens.

As the village grew, it did not remain peaceful and isolated. Growth brought development and money and registered voters for politicians to please. Growth brought trouble: divisions and tensions, loyalists and dissidents. There were the years of fires and stonings and beatings and excommunications — the War Time, some locals call it. When the loyalists banished the dissidents from the village schools and from the cemetery, the dissidents built schools and a cemetery on land just outside Kiryas Joel’s boundaries.

Kiryas Joel became overcrowded. The median age is 13 — it’s the only place in America with a median age under 20. Satmar families spilled onto the surrounding, unincorporated property. In December 2013, village leaders put forth a proposal to annex more than 500 acres of wooded land. The townspeople of Monroe resisted with protests and petitions. And so the village that once sought to isolate itself began to battle its neighbors.

Power is always tied to wealth, and the grande rebbe controls that too. “Many millions of dollars,” estimates Queens College professor Heilman. The money belongs to Congregation Yetev Lev. As the congregation’s undisputed leader, the grande rebbe holds the purse strings.

“Everything is in the hands of the rebbe,” says Shmarya Rosenberg.

Real estate holdings in Brooklyn and Orange County constitute a large portion of the congregation’s assets. In 2006 the New York Times pegged the total value of Satmar real estate in the “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Many of the properties are registered under the names of private companies, some of which aren’t hard to trace.

Vaad Hakiryah of Kiryas Joel Inc., for example, has owned several hundred acres of land in Orange County, as Times Herald-Record reporter Chris McKenna has chronicled over the years. A developer named Mayer Hirsch incorporated Vaad Hakiryah in 1989. He was a village trustee at the time, and over the years he was also chairman of the Kiryas Joel Municipal Local Development Corporation and chairman of the village planning and zoning boards. In the early 1990s Vaad Hakiryah’s president was Abraham Wieder, the village’s deputy mayor at the time. Wieder also was president of Congregation Yetev Lev and of the Kiryas Joel school board. Both Hirsch and Wieder were trustees for the United Talmudic Academy, a network of Satmar schools from pre-kindergarten through college.

The village itself is a source of revenue. Families are big. Some men study scripture instead of holding paid jobs, and some women take care of their children full-time, all of which skews the per-capita income rate. More than two-thirds of residents live below the poverty line — a figure 16 percent higher than for any other municipality in America. No place in the nation uses food stamps at a higher rate. The State of New York gives Kiryas Joel about $1 million a year to fund a Head Start program that offers free pre-K for low-income families. For years the village charged families up to $120 per child for admission. The federal government has spent millions of dollars to fund subsidized housing in Kiryas Joel. The village sold landlords the rights to those buildings in exchange for $50,000 donations, and the landlords charged up to $500 per month in rent from low-income tenants. In 1990 the federal government awarded the village a $360,000 grant to build a medical center. A federal investigation later revealed that the village diverted $130,000 of that into other projects, including a swimming pool for a religious school.

All of this was illegal. None of it is secret. The Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, and 60 Minutes covered much of it in the mid 1990s, and the Times Herald-Record continued the reporting into the next decade.

More recently, the U.S. Department of Education found that the village misused federal funding meant for school programs: A 2011 audit stated that the village used $276,000 for lease payments on its building, which is owned by the United Talmudic Academy. Another $191,000 apparently vanished from the books. “Kiryas Joel could not provide adequate documentation” to explain where the money went, the auditors wrote.

The money continues to roll in. That’s because the grande rebbe’s power is rooted in people. The Satmars are the largest Hasidic sect in the world. Despite their internal conflicts, they vote as a bloc, for whichever political candidates their leaders endorse. The day before Election Day, Kiryas Joel’s mayor announces his endorsement on a robo-call to every home and on flyers passed out at schools and on street corners.

Grumet, the former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, calls the Satmars “one of the most powerful political forces in New York.” Nearly every major state politician has paid his or her respects. Pataki, Mario Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, Sheldon Silver, Andrew Cuomo — the campaign trail passes through Kiryas Joel.

The Kiryas Joel Unified School District is a monument to the Satmars’ political might. In 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the creation of the school district violated the separation of church and state. Four days later the state legislature passed a new bill, slightly different from the first, to legalize the school district. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the school district was still unconstitutional, and the legislature passed a third bill, slightly different from the second, to again legalize the district. By then the man leading the lawsuits against the district — Grumet — had moved on to a new job. No one has challenged the law since.

“They are extremely smart and sophisticated in grasping the rules of the game in American interest politics,” David Myers, the UCLA Jewish studies professor, says of the Satmar leaders’ ability to successfully blur the line separating religious freedom from political clout. “And they have succeeded in playing American interest politics as well as any group has ever done.”

That is the power of the grande rebbe, a power vested in those who inhabit his inner circle. These secular leaders hold much sway at the top, and they hold much wealth. It is their livelihoods, not the grande rebbe’s, that are dependent on the decisions of politicians and bureaucrats.

And so as Grande Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum aged and his health declined, the men below him jockeyed for a slice of power in the regime to come.

Most townspeople had no problem with Kiryas Joel until January 2014, when newly elected Town Supervisor Harley Doles, who’d won his seat thanks to the Satmar bloc, announced his support of a petition to annex 507 unincorporated acres of Monroe land into Kiryas Joel. All the petition needed, then, were signatures from landowners who represented a majority of the annexation territory’s property values. And that was no obstacle.

The townspeople were outraged. They imagined the wilderness around their properties clear-cut and supplanted by apartment complexes.

“They’re raping the mountain here to build those high-density buildings,” says Andrea Trust, who has lived in Monroe for nine years. “Kiryas Joel wants Monroe.”

Like most Americans, most Satmars don’t spend much time worrying about the internal machinations of those in power. There are plenty of day-to-day concerns that take precedence. Kiryas Joel isn’t the stage for a landmark constitutional debate; it’s a solid place to raise a family. The villagers love Kiryas Joel for the same reasons the townspeople love Monroe.

“It’s much different from the city — not the noise, the crime, the drugs, and all the other bad things,” says Sam, an executive at the poultry plant who moved to the village 35 years ago. “We lived in the city. Nobody can afford anything in Brooklyn. And there’s more space here.”

(Like most Satmars who agreed to be quoted in this story, Sam declined to give his last name. Through the synagogue, the Voice requested interviews with both Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum. The request was denied.)

The Satmars do not believe in a Jewish state, but they have created an alternative.

“From a certain perspective, this is the Satmars’ counter-Zionism,” says UCLA’s Myers.

Every year on the anniversary of Joel Teitelbaum’s death, Satmars from around the region converge on the village cemetery to celebrate their founder.

“In our Torah, we are not allowed to have our own state,” says Benzy Markowitz, a Brooklyn native who makes the annual pilgrimage. “We’re waiting in the state we’re living in, praying for the success of the state we live in.”

This has cultivated within the village a deep sense of patriotism. Only in America, many villagers believe, can Kiryas Joel exist. “In the United States everybody can be like they want to be,” says Yitz Farkas, a twentysomething resident. “That’s the U.S. That’s why it’s a great country.”

And it’s why Myers calls Kiryas Joel a “decidedly American creation.” Like the Pilgrims and the Mormons before them, the Satmars found a place where they could practice their faith freely, so they built a community. They embraced the nation’s proud principles of liberty, and its darker stratagems as well. They mastered the American system of governance and the American system of political power. They fell into the American habit of partisanship. And they felt the American thirst for expansion.

“Thirty years ago Westchester County was farms, and 60 years ago Long Island was farms. And then they exploded,” says Goldstein, the construction contractor. “Cities grow. If you want to live isolated, move west, east, north: That’s how it works. That’s how democracy works. That’s the way it has been in America.”

The kibbutzim movement is quite different from Kiryas Joel, first and foremost because it is founded by Zionists, unlike KJ. Indeed, in the latter half of the 19th century, Zionism sprouted in Europe. Jews translated Enlightenment ideals towards their own growing belief in self-determination and a Jewish homeland. Amid rising discrimination in Europe, Zionists began migrating en masse to Mandate Palestine. Competing with Palestinians for land, European Jews brought Western ideas to the region and built settlements in accordance with those identities and ideologies. These newly-arrived Jews did not know how to cultivate the land, and needed to group together not only in order to defend themselves, but in order to eventually establish their own state. Known as kibbutzim, labor Zionist Jews built left-wing idealistic and utopian settlements in order to collectively cultivate the land, defend their historical homeland, and craft a national identity. Roads, homes, and farms sprouted up alongside a body of financial institutions. And in 1948, Israel was born on the backbone of kibbutzim planning.


Google Maps

In order to dabble with kibbutzim planning, I did some background research, and discovered Architecture and Utopia: The Israeli Experiment, which explores the relationship between social, economic, and political utopian ideologies and the design of kibbutzim settlements. The book shows that architects and planners represent a perfect world through perfect shapes, such as circles and squares. For instance, throughout history – from Egyptian hieroglyphs, Tibetan mandalas, Atlantis, and the Forbidden City, to the contemporary garden city movement and Salt Lake City – ideal geometric forms have coincided with ideal utopian settlements.

Indeed, “the regime that shapes the city physically seeks to shape it in its own image: perfect, eternal, immutable, ordered, symbolizing the relation between the sovereign and the citizens, preserving the existing ruling order by defining the zones designated for various activities” (Chyutin 235). After exploring the history behind utopian planning, the book proceeds to explore how various kibbutzim patterns have emerged and changed over time.


Google Maps

The authors also explore the intrinstic paradox behind this changing reality, as “the vision of the ideal city depicts a static situation” (Chyutin 2), whereas on the ground, kibbutzim have changed alongside Israeli society. Originally forcing all residents to share all property collectively, tend to the land collectively, and even share child rearing collectively, kibbutzim have privatized with the years so as to remain viable as Israel’s economy developed. Buckling under neoliberalism, they have undergone intense privatization efforts. People can own cars, own their own homes, bring in private items (such as TVs), commute elsewhere for work, and get paid different amounts. However, they are still private, gated communities that collectively share an industry of the kibbutz (such as plastic manufacturing). Indeed, the communities now are a fuse between urban, suburban, and rural life. They are not cities, and they are agricultural yet denser than rural environments. They are also not suburban, as they are surrounded by farmland and are not as sprawled, decentralized, and individualistic.

In the end, Architecture and Utopia does a fine job of exploring how these settlements are built in relation to the social ideals that characterized them. However, they failed to integrate a vital component related to the planning and design of utopian kibbutzim: Palestine.


Google Maps (see description in bold below…)

As I mentioned, I went to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. I lived with my family for a few days in a kibbutz in Israel which looks like many others from above (see the red dot on the bottom right corner of the map above). A patch of green amid stretches of farmland with a clear civic center and industrial park, the kibbutz has a collective parking lot from which people must walk to their homes. But what the authors fail to show with their birds-eye photos is the surrounding narrative: the kibbutz is two kilometers from Gaza, and as of a few years ago, each home is now equipped with a bomb shelter to protect against Hamas’ Qassam rockets. They also have a security fence, a military outpost, and ample trees between homes and farmland to prevent sniperfire from Gaza. This is still far from a utopian settlement.

2 kilometers from Gaza, this kibbutz has bomb shelters for every family…

Kibbutz defenses in West Bank, looking out towards Dead Sea and Jordan… 

If only the authors “zoomed out” a bit, they would see that the planning and the design of kibbutzim goes hand-in-hand with the Palestinian claim of right and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. Countless birds-eye photos can be taken of the kibbutz, but metaphorically speaking, if they do not show Gaza City only two kilometers away, then a comparative assessment of kibbutzim cannot be fully understood. The authors do not even have ‘Palestine’, ‘Arab’, ‘Conflict’, or ‘Dystopia’ in their Index.  The book is as idealistic as the ideology behind kibbutzim is: both are utopian in a dystopian reality.

A view of Gaza from a kibbutz 2km away…

While Israelis have been planning new settlements for a while, Palestinian nation-building has only recently started its first planned city: Rawabi, which may one day be a major city in a future Palestinian state. Developed privately by a Palestinian real estate development company known as Massar International and owned by Bashar Masri, the city is already a beacon of identity and hope for many Palestinians, even though it is not slated for completion until later this decade.
I met Mr. Masri last year at my school, and I personally learned all about the project.
Built for the middle class so as to maintain a bottom line, Mr. Masri hopes that the privately-developed city will host IT services and other non-industrial economic niches such as health care, green technology, and media. The construction project also happens to already be the top employer of Palestinians by providing ten thousand indirect jobs and five thousand permanent jobs. Furthermore, the city is designed to be the first ‘green city’ in Palestine, incorporating numerous efficiencies ranging from rooftop rainwater collection to a state-of-the-art smart grid. While opinion on the city is divided amongst Israelis and also amongst Paletinians, the city will nonetheless play a role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. From alleviating Jewish security concerns through economic development, to Palestinian nation-building and bolstering identity, Rawabi’s planning and design has the potential to decrease various tensions in the region.
Rawabi faces immense challenges due to the situation it faces under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and Israel. After the Oslo Accords of 1993, the West Bank was divided into three areas: Area A, which is the 12 percent of the West Bank that is under full Palestinian control; Area B, which is the 28 percent of the West Bank under joint control; and Area C, which is 60 percent and under full Israeli control. Rawabi is being constructed in Area A, yet it still needs construction materials for which it depends on Israeli companies and transportation networks. Materials are routinely delayed or blocked due to security concerns, and Israel is sensitive to access roads to Rawabi, as well as to water and energy usage.

West Bank Checkpoint

Built upon a hilltop, Rawabi means ‘Hills’ in Arabic and emulates Israeli hilltop settlements in the West Bank. With street design imitating an Arab bazaar (marketplace), all of the stone being used from the hills of the site, and Islamic financing methods implemented as a major component of the city’s banking sector, Rawabi is doing its best to be marketed as a contemporary and authentic Palestinian city. Still, many Palestinians disagree with its claim for authenticity, arguing that Rawabi is far from an authentic Palestinian city. Perhaps, it’s simply another pop-up city, like the place-less new cities in China.

However, Israel is not the only problem facing Rawabi. The unorganized, corrupt, and ill-suited Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has provided almost no assistance to the largest project in the West Bank; indeed, the Qatari government arguably provides more funding. The public-private partnership between Rawabi and the PLO is a failure, and besides official approval, the PLO has not been able to built public infrastructure supporting the city. As a result, has been done privately, including Rawabi’s own waste water treatment plant and public schools.

By designing the Palestinian city, Masri is helping to craft a confident Palestinian identity. He is also increasing economic cooperation between the two future states. Hamas would argubaly not be voted into power if Gazans had hopes for a better future and were not impoverished. So, hopefully developing the economy and infrastructure of the West Bank will lessen Israel’s security concerns and lead to a relaxation of tensions and a smaller security wall. As it stands, many Israelis are supportive of Rawabi as it symbolizes an end to a victim complex, and the start of an empowering strategy. Physical infrastructure can alleviate social, economic, political, and environmental pressures, and Rawabi can positively alleviate Arab-Israeli tensions.

Israeli tanks near the Gaza border…

While many Israelis have voiced concern over the project largely due to security concerns or due to right-wing Zionism and a claim to the land, Palestinians have also voiced criticism due to deals with Israel. Still, Mr.Masri defends his cause, arguing that it is highly impractical to not make a deal with Israel in order to build a beacon for Palestine. He states that “the vast majority of Palestinians understand and know reality… every construction project in Palestine must have components from Israel”.

Palestinians also accuse Rawabi of emulating Israeli settlement design. Indeed, “some Palestinians have criticised the Rawabi project for accepting a donation of trees from an Israeli organization”, which they say mimics “the Jewish National Fund’s project of planting trees in villages whose residents were expelled during and after the Nakba [the Israeli War of Independence]”. They also argue that it looks “very much like a classic Jewish settlement, with neat rows of white houses spiralling round a hilltop”, and that the same design strategies are used for settlements with the exception of red roofs, which identify Jewish settlements for Israeli air force pilots.

Will Rawabi be an “authentic” city? (Amman, Jordan, above… with Roman ruins on a hill…)

Despite concerns, Rawabi is still a beacon for many Palestinians and a center of nation-building and identity construction for the future state. The official website promotes the city as a place to live, work, and play, and provides a live feed of construction in realtime. The site is also clearly a Palestinian site (with a .PS domain), and can easily be translated into Arabic, demonstrating that the website is for Palestinians – albeit the Palestinian elite. The Rawabi project also publishes a newsletter which features numerous propaganda images, including one of a church being constructed in the city. Being in ‘Area A’, Jews are technically not allowed in Rawabi, yet the developers makes a point of welcoming Christians into the city, which could be seen as a political move.

While many Israelis feel threatened by this project – especially the right-wing Zionists living in the occupied territories – many Jews also openly encourage the project. They state that Palestinians are finally doing something productive instead of blaming Israel for all of their problems; indeed, as Mr. Pomerantz in the Jerusalem Post writes, “we cannot complain that Palestinians live in squalor and then protest when they try to do something constructive”. The Palestinian Authority consistently fails to provide services to its citizens just as Hamas continues to attack basic human rights in the Gaza Strip; Rawabi is succeeding without the support of the Palestinian Authority. Israelis on this side of the spectrum contend that Israel “cannot continue to complain that the Palestinians are guilty of letting their people live uneducated and in squalor and then complain, yet again, when they try to do something constructive about the situation”, and they “applaud the plan to build this new city because for the first time in the 62 plus years of the history of the State of Israel, our neighbors who, for the moment, live under our control, are actually doing something constructive about creating a framework that bespeaks economic and social progress”.

Nevertheless, conservative Israelis still are hesitant to support the project. Rawabi is built next to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal under international law, and these settlers understand the land of Judea and Samaria (the historical name for the West Bank) to be Jewish. While Mr. Masri has been accused of selling out to Israel, many Israeli companies have also been accused by the far-right of selling out to Mr. Masri. Mr. Masri made all companies working on his city sign a contract that they could not use Israeli products originating from the occupied territories. As a result, right-wing settlers have argued that “‘anyone building Rawabi should know that they won’t build Tel Aviv’”, and that these companies are collaborating with “‘Palestinian economic terrorism’”, selling ‘“their Zionist souls for a deal with the enemy’”. This is an extreme perspective that needs to be opposed.

While political peace has become increasingly difficult to achieve, economic peace – as coined by Israelis – has been the cornerstone of current policy in the West Bank. The current Israeli leadership argues that “economic peace leads to momentum for political peace”. After all, the economy in the West Bank is growing while the Gaza Strip continues to shrink into poverty, unemployment, and radical Islam. While this is largely due to a “tight Israeli economic blockade”, that is due to security concerns, which continue to escalate as the economy shrinks. Gaza, after all, has been planning tunnels instead of schools. Hamas will not stop until Israel is entirely gone.

In the end, many Israelis that are not under the direct interpretation of the Torah understand that Rawabi has productive potential. First, it is a source of socioeconomic development for Arabs; second, it is a catalyst for increased economic cooperation between the two peoples; and third, it could be a physical foundation of political legitimacy for the Palestinian government. Right-wing radical Jews are stalling progress as much as radical Palestinians that deny Israel’s right to exist. Both peoples need to take a balanced approach, make concessions, and build together.

An Arab town in Israel…
Phew, well, that was complicated! Let’s explore one more place before finishing off this post, even though there are so many things to explore…
Aqaba is Jordan’s southernmost city, directly next to Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city. Saudi Arabia is directly to the southwest, and Egypt is directly to the southeast. Aqaba and Eilat are literally right next to each other, but they are completely separated by a border — similar to, perhaps, Nicosia in Cyprus, or El Paso and Juarez, or San Diego and Tijuana, or Berlin prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Even though these cities are so close to each other, they’re so different. Eilat is the Las Vegas of Israel, while Aqaba is also building new hotels and fast-food restaurants. Neither can compete with Dubai, but they’re definitely competing with each other for tourism.


Bing Maps

Jordanian King on a billboard in Aqaba…

Divided down the center between Israel (top) and Jordan (bottom)…

(A few miles to the south: Saudi Arabia and Egypt)

New housing in Aqaba…

New hotel in Aqaba…

IMAX in Eilat (FYI, the real pyramids aren’t too far away either…)

The drive from Amman (Jordan’s capital) to Aqaba is absolutely stunning.


Emotions are definitely running high lately, and people are resorting to a binary debate between Israelis and Palestinians. This is a terrible and complicated situation, and it’s hard to remain level-headed when many people despise Israel and despise Palestinians. It’s hard to remain level-headed when your friends and family are being bombed in Gaza and Israel.
Amid all of the controversy and hatred, it seems difficult to hope for a better two-state future, especially while ISIS marches towards Baghdad and the region remains unstable. After all, Hamas will rebuild tunnels within the next few years, and will not want a U.N. approved two-state solution, while Israelis will probably continue building settlements in the West Bank. It seems difficult to hope, let alone build, for a better future. But that’s all that we can do, if we’re going to stop the pattern of bloodshed. We can build ourselves to peace, or we can bomb ourselves to piece(s). Hamas must go.
One day, perhaps there will be trains connecting transit-oriented Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, Rawabi, Aqaba, and Amman…
Haifa, Israel
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv, Israel
However, it’s important to realize that this theoretical train would be built by — you guessed it — powers, identities, and ideologies. Is this going to be like the Transcontinental Railroad, unifying the United States by pushing aside Native Americans? Is it going to be bulldozing through established neighborhoods like the Cross-Bronx Expressway? How many checkpoints will it need to cross? Or is it going to be like the NYC subway, knitting together diverse groups of people in a “tri-state area” united by self-determination?
Rayn Riel is a student at Tufts University studying international urban development, his self-crafted major. Interested in transportation, he is the founder of Tufts’ only undergraduate urban development student organization and was an intern at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) in Brooklyn in order to work on transportation accessibility and mobility in East New York. Now an intern in the DCP Transportation Division, Rayn is interested in how smart transportation planning (and in particular, in how transportation hubs) can transform cities and communities socially, economically, politically, environmentally, and of course, physically. He’s also interested in how it all depends on a city’s comparative context, and on whether or not we’re “transporting transportation“, or translating (in)formal best practices.
(All photographs taken by Rayn except for Google Maps & Bing Maps images)
More photos…

Somali Neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel

Somali Neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel

Somali Neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Israel

Haifa, Israel

Suburban Shopping at Ashkelon, Israel

Joint Development Opportunities in Tel Aviv, Israel

East Jerusalem

River, Road, and Rail R.O.W. in Tel Aviv, Israel (Accessibility Concerns?)

Bomb Shelter Bus Station in Southern Israel

Syrian Town

Amman, Jordan

Public Transportation in Amman, Jordan

Traffic in Amman, Jordan

Petrol in Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan


War, religion, refugees, oil, climate change, post-colonialism…



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53 Comments on “Powers, Identities, Ideologies”

  1. Syed S. Ahmed August 6, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Great piece, a bit all over the place but heartfelt. I loved it. Thanks.


  2. Eugene M. Riel III August 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Excellent! I currently don’t live in a city but I plan to live in Astral City when I die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAKXdNNLZXk
    I learned lots of good information, like “pop-up city” and where Rawabi is, and what the West Bank is from the maps in your links. I am amazed how small the actual territory of Israel is, and that Hamas wants to kill all the Jews there even though the entire rest of the Middle East is Arab. According to Khaled Mash’al’s frightening video in your link, the situation looks hopeless. I send good will to anyone who hopes to create any kind of compromise.


  3. Rayn Riel September 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Thank you for letting us know. We are using Go Daddy. Best of luck!


  4. Rayn Riel December 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Planned cities & powers, identities, ideologies…


  5. Rayn Riel January 31, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    Some photos I took at Kiryas Joel, NY, a while ago…


  6. John May 17, 2016 at 4:29 pm #


    China’s Massive, Garish Theme Park for the Muslim World
    Beijing is spending gargantuan sums to promote its vision of Islam. The result so far: a sparsely populated eyesore.


  7. john June 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    crosses circles squares… lots of symbolism


  8. Fred June 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm #


    Notes on a Gazan’s Visit to Israel
    By MAJD AL WAHEIDI JUNE 28, 2016

    As a reporter, I have come to know the Gazan borders very intimately. I once
    made several reporting trips to a village near the fence for a story about illegal

    But though I live so close to Israel, it is a world away for me.

    Last month, I crossed the border and left Gaza for only the third time in my life.

    I was traveling to Israel to obtain a visa for a summer fellowship in Washington, D.C.
    Security on the Gazan side of the border consists of two separate checkpoints:
    the first (which Gazans call “4/4”) is controlled by Hamas, and the second (“5/5”) is
    controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

    “4/4” and “5/5” are within half a mile of each other, but the two checkpoints
    represent a lingering division among Palestinians — one that I reported on in 2015.
    The passageway between Israel and Gaza is a long tunnel, enclosed by wires and metal.

    After passing through “4/4” and “5/5,” I was ferried through the tunnel in a
    tuk­tuk, a small motorized cart with room for two or four people. (My luggage was
    carried in a separate van.)

    When crossing here, at Erez, Gazans often post photos of the tunnel on social
    media to confirm that they’ve made it this far. I took a picture but chose not to share
    it; it felt unfair to the Gazans who are unable to leave.

    Next came the Israeli terminal, which resembles a large glass box.

    After the last war, Israel eased some of their restrictions, and hundreds of
    Gazans crossed every day. Most of the people who obtained permits were either
    businessmen or local staff members of international organizations.

    Fewer than 10 people were sitting on the chairs waiting for the soldier in the
    glass enclosure to call each name. Many of them were mothers with their children.
    Most, I assumed, were patients in need of medical treatment.

    They called me a few minutes after I arrived. An Israeli soldier, sitting on a tall
    chair behind the glass, gave me my permit and my I.D.

    It is rare that I see an Israeli in person; Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and
    I was too young then to remember their presence. However, I witnessed three wars
    in less than six years. The last one was devastating. I remember the warplanes and
    F­16s and artillery shells.

    At Erez, I saw members of the Israeli defense forces, but not the same ones who
    fought in wars that left people dead and homes destroyed. I saw Israeli soldiers
    working administrative jobs, soldiers who help people wanting to leave. I used
    English with them because I felt they wouldn’t understand me otherwise — though
    they speak Arabic very well.

    Everyone who has passed through the tunnel has told me the same thing: The
    moment we leave Gaza, the air changes. It becomes clean. I noticed it, too.

    After a two­hour cab ride, I arrived at the American consulate in Jerusalem,
    completed my interview and received my visa. I then had several days to sightsee.

    I toured Jerusalem’s Old City and prayed in the Al­Aqsa Mosque — a site of
    frequent conflict. I visited the Western Wall and watched as people prayed.

    Jerusalem was bubbling with life: music, spices, perfumes. The people were of
    many colors and faiths, and there were many pilgrims. In the Old City, all three
    faiths — Christianity, Judaism, Islam — commingled, with sacred sites sometimes
    just a few feet away from one another.

    The next day I visited Haifa. It appeared less tense than Jerusalem, and in some
    places the mixing of different people was beautifully manifest. There you could use
    shalom and as­salamu alaykum interchangeably.

    I also visited the Baha’i gardens, at the heart of which stands the golden­domed
    Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the prophet­herald of the Baha’i faith. The
    gardens were immensely beautiful, but I was reminded that Gaza has only one public
    garden: the Unknown Soldier’s Square, where jobless and poor people sit and watch
    each other.

    Then came my most poignant experience: A friend drove me to Tiberias, a small
    city on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Starving after many hours without food, I ate
    dinner at a nearby kibbutz’s restaurant for tourists. When I asked why the streets
    were empty, I was reminded that it was the Jewish Sabbath.

    I entered the restaurant and found people eating and laughing together. I was
    nervous; earlier in the day there had been tensions at the border, between Hamas
    and Israel.

    But my curiosity kept me from leaving. I ate salmon and drank Pepsi. I worried
    about what everyone would do if they discovered I was a Palestinian. But nobody
    seemed suspicious.

    I also thought about what Palestinians would say if they knew I entered and ate
    in such a place like a normal tourist. Some Palestinians, I thought, might see this as
    a crime of treason, a normalization with the “enemy.”

    I exchanged smiles with several people. Maybe they thought I was Korean, as
    sometimes happens in Gaza.

    What I noticed during my meal was a sense of harmony, love and unity. It was
    overwhelming. I saw maybe one or two tables of big families: children doing their
    homework, women chatting with each other.

    Around this time, my friends and colleagues called to say that three babies had
    burned to death in their home at a refugee camp in Gaza. The fire was started by a
    candle that was being used during a power outage. I cried the next morning; it felt
    too normal.

    I visited Israel’s border with Jordan and Syria. I saw ruins — of houses and of a
    mosque — that reminded me of Gaza. The buildings were left destroyed after the war
    between Israel and Syria. There was graffiti on the walls in Hebrew, Arabic and
    English: a big pink heart with “BFF” written inside, dedications and love letters, a
    sentence in Arabic declaring that ISIS had arrived here, Allahu akbar, and the word

    I interviewed one family who was visiting the place. It was empty and calm. The
    walls were black, as if they’d been set on fire. I wondered what had happened to the
    people who used to live and pray here.

    Two days after I returned to Gaza, I visited the mobile home of a displaced
    family whose previous home had been destroyed during the last war.
    It was close to the border fence.

    The moment I entered, I thought of the Israeli kibbutz. There was a similar
    sense of harmony.

    But here, in the “Caravan Quarter” of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, there
    were no restaurants, no schools, no nature.


  9. Huaxi July 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm #


  10. Al July 17, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Our physical environment is interconnected with our social, economic, and political infrastructure.

    Take, for instance, suburbia. Courtesy of Alex Balashov:


    Far from posing a mere logistical or aesthetic problem, it shapes–or perhaps more accurately, it circumscribes–our experience of life and our social relationships in insidious ways. The destruction of the pedestrian public realm is not merely an economic or ecological absurdity; it has real deleterious effects. For just one small example of many: life in a subdivision cul-de-sac keeps children from exploring and becoming conversant with the wider world around them, because it tethers their social lives and activities to their busy parents’ willingness to drive them somewhere. There’s literally nowhere for them to go. The spontaneity of childhood in the courtyard, on the street, or in the square gives way to the managed, curated, prearranged “play-date.” Small wonder that kids retreat within the four walls of their house and lead increasingly electronic lives. (The virtues of a private backyard are easily exaggerated; it’s vacuous and isolated, and kids quickly outgrow it.)
    However, it’s been difficult to elucidate in specific physical terms what it is about suburbia that makes it so hostile to humanity. To someone with no training in architecture, it’s often experienced as a great, non-articulated existential malaise, like depression. You know it sucks, but it’s hard to say exactly why. The same holds true in reverse; North Americans who have not travelled abroad extensively and don’t have a clear basis for comparison can be tongue-tied when asked to explain what exactly makes a non-sprawl city street “charming” or “cozy.” It’s telling that we have no widespread cultural vernacular for why classical urban settlements, which draw on millennia of intellectual background and corpuses of architectural knowledge, are pleasant. It’s because Americans took that inheritance and unceremoniously discarded it, consonantly with the rise of the mass-produced automobile. It irks me that many of us know, on some level, that we live in a dystopian nightmare but can’t say what makes it a dystopian nightmare.

    That’s how I came to spend a fair amount of time recently thinking about and researching what exactly makes suburbia suburbia. I don’t mean the abstract reasons why it sucks; I’ve pontificated on that plenty. I mean the physicality. For example, I live in Atlanta, a suburban mega-agglomeration that sucks in the same general way as cities like Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, and Phoenix. When someone asks me where I’m from, and I roll my eyes and diffidently groan, “Atlanta…” Why? It’s worth asking what specifically makes Atlanta “[groan] Atlanta.”

    If one hopes to avoid broad vagueries like “Designed for cars, not humans,” and instead to get specific, then there’s no single linchpin attribute that makes suburbia what it is. It’s an interdependent constellation of misanthropic zoning rules, building codes, and planning guidelines. My aim is to list as many of these as I’ve discovered and been able to formulate.

    1. Single-use zoning

    American zoning law (in all but its oldest cities) forecloses on the possibility of mixed-use development. This means traditional design patterns like shops and offices on the first floor with apartments above are impossible. Residences are constructed in special areas zoned for residential construction, while shopping and work take place in altogether different areas zoned for commercial development.

    The idea, of course, is that the peaceful slumber of the suburbanite should not be interrupted by the noise generated by the transaction of commerce or any other public-sphere human activities. The result is that running any errand or attending to any need, no matter how small, requires getting in one’s car and driving somewhere else, in many cases several miles or more.

    Since separation of commercial and residential zones by vast tracts built at automobile scale (rather than human scale) removes the possibility of accessing useful destinations on foot, it removes any practical motive for walking. Without consequential destinations that are part of normal human activity, by and large, the only people who walk on suburban streets do so for exercise. And the only reason they would do that is because their automobile-powered daily existence does not otherwise compel much movement.

    2. Hierarchical traffic distribution

    The chief complaint of most residents of suburban sprawl is traffic. The most obvious cause is, of course, that everything requires driving, but there are more subtle reasons, too. The endless cul-de-sacs, winding loops, and seas of parking lot in suburbia empty into larger “collector roads,” often constraining traffic in a given neighborhood to a single preordained path. Traditional neighborhoods and cities are designed in a dense grid and/or interconnected web of streets, so there are many alternative paths between two points.

    3. Set-backs from the street and parking ratios

    Local building ordinances—ones that contribute to suburban sprawl—don’t allow buildings to directly abut the curb. That means one cannot simply enter a building from the street. Instead, the building is set back from the curb, requiring one to traverse a parking lot to reach it.

    In the case of larger shopping centers, this means the building is set back several hundred feet, separated from the street by a large sea of parking. This is because suburban building ordinances require a generous proportion of parking spaces in relation to the surface area of the building. So, the larger the building, the more parking it must have, and, seemingly, it must be in front, not behind the building (more on that later).

    4. Proximity does not mean pedestrian accessibility

    On the other hand, it is not so uncommon in suburbia to live very close to a nearby shopping center. I’ve had lots of suburban friends tell me, “Actually, the grocery store is 1,000 ft from me. Very convenient.” Indeed, when we lived in an apartment complex in the Perimeter Mall area in Dunwoody, the nearby Walmart shopping strip was within spitting distance. I could almost see the store entrance from my bedroom window.

    But, perversely, that doesn’t mean I could walk to the store, as a normal person from virtually anywhere else on the planet might conclude from that statement. In its fanatical quest to eviscerate the pedestrian realm and make cars exclusive first-class objects, suburbia manages to make far even that which is conceptually close. Building ordinances generally require some sort of “divider” between these adjacent land parcels, like a ditch, a chain-link fence, or a concrete wall or noise barrier. In our case, that means I had to walk out of the apartment complex, go around the divider, and then cross several hundred feet of parking lot to go to the store.

    It goes without saying that most normal people would choose to drive the distance. And that’s the idea.

    5. Economic segregation by building type

    It does not bear repeating here that one of the things that makes interesting places interesting is variety. However, one more subtle effect of the enforced homogeneity of suburban residential neighborhoods is economic segregation.

    In older and more traditional neighborhoods, multiple types of buildings of varying sizes coexist closely. Yes, it is a universal premise of building regulation and planning that they must be united by some sort of overarching organizing aesthetic principle and geometrically agree in some way or another, but that doesn’t mean they all have to be approximately one type or size. As a result, it’s quite possible for poor, middle class, and rich people to live side-by-side in one neighborhood, with the difference being that the rich people’s houses or apartments are merely bigger.

    Local building ordinances in suburbia aggressively disallow this, and integrating more affordable housing is the fastest way to tank property values within the logic of the suburban system. That’s why every new subdivision contains only a handful of approximately similar house types, and the residents are all in a similar income bracket.
    Suburban building codes also commonly disallow affordable housing hacks available in older neighborhoods, such as above-garage apartments (sometimes known as granny flats). It is no mean feat to get approval for a small secondary edifice in one’s backyard–something the size of a toolshed, but habitable. Contrary to the individualist-libertarian ideology underpinning widespread suburban attitudes, even use of the space behind one’s walls, within the private sphere, is highly constrained and regulated.

    6. No street enclosure and definition

    The geometry of streets and sidewalks is a critical topic. Generally speaking, the reason settled streets in older neighborhoods and European cities feel “cozy” and “charming” is because they provide a feeling of enclosure, which humans want because it gives them with a coherent sense of place, like rooms in a house.

    I’m not a sociobiologist and cannot say exactly why this is, but would speculate that it caters to people’s primal need for shelter and clear directional orientation. Whatever the case, it’s an established fact that people gravitate toward places that have clear borders and relatively comprehensive enclosures; it’s a kind of axiom for the discipline of architecture. People feel vulnerable and uncomfortable in open areas with ill-defined margins.

    Creating that enclosure and definition cannot happen if buildings are sparse and set back from the street. It also requires a certain broadly rectangular building geometry, with more right angles and less campyavant garde twists (more on that later). Suburban streets are notable for the degree to which they don’t provide a sense of place. Their curved, winding trajectory also robs one of a sense of cardinal direction–that’s why it’s so easy to get lost in suburbia. I am much more likely to need GPS aid in navigating through a subdivision than through a downtown.

    Pleasant, walkable streets have other important features, such as protection of the pedestrian sphere from automobile traffic. This delineation is provided by architectural buffers such as trees, high curbs, and street-parked automobiles themselves. All of these things can arrest a car about to plough into a crowd.

    Another thing that takes away from the feeling of place and enclosure is large curb radii. You’ll notice that in dense cities and older neighborhoods, sidewalks adhere to the street at right angles, providing a minimal crossing distance for the pedestrian. However, suburban curbs are optimized for cars, allowing them to maintain some speed while turning right—and easily mow down anyone who is misled by the formal presence of a crosswalk into believing that they’re actually meant to walk there.

    7. Useless, ugly, and wasted space

    When quizzed about the advantages of suburban life, the most common answer is “space.” But even if you like lots of space, you’d have to agree that the quality depends on what kind of space it is.

    Suburban development ordinances are replete with requirements for useless frontages, pointless greenspace between compatible land uses, as well as chain-link fences, concrete barriers, and drainage pits. Space is still inhabited by humans, and has to be articulated to match their specific uses for it. A lot of open space in suburbia lacks that articulation; it’s neither pristine forest nor a particularly usable surface. It’s just kind of there.

    The absurdly large width requirements for inner residential streets are a special case of their own. Small, low-density streets don’t need to be so wide that one almost can’t see his opposite neighbor’s house because of the intervening curvature of the Earth, especially given that street parking is generally not done in these places because, evidently, everyone needs their very own [expensively and unnecessarily] paved driveway. The formal reason for large width requirements is generally something comical, like to accommodate a full-size fire engine or other large emergency vehicle in case tragedy should strike. Well, sure, conceivably you might need to land an A380 there, too.

    8. Parking-first aesthetics, garage façades, no alleys, no interior yards

    It took me some time to consciously realize it, but one of the biggest differences that makes traditional neighborhoods more appealing is that parking typically happens behind the house, reached through analley. One is not likely to see an alley approved in suburban construction; that’s where robbery happens, right?

    Instead, suburban houses are set back to make room for a driveway. Much of the façade of many houses is accounted for by a garage. This telegraphs the impression that the primary function of a house is really, above all else, to provide parking for one’s car.
    Considering that suburbia is reputedly sterile and safe, there ought to be many other uses for alleys and common interior courtyards located at the rear of buildings, away from the street. In addition to being the proper place for cars, those are good places to put trash and recycling bins. Instead, the suburban street is surreally dotted with plastic trash cans at least weekly. So much for the pretense of civilization.

    What this says is: we have such a dilapidated and depressing public realm, so few memorable places and things worth seeing, that we truly don’t care. The same dialectic is often a driver of the infamous suburban NIMBYism. When the public realm is so depressing and demoralizing, describable mainly in terms of the car traffic it generates, it’s understandable that nobody would want to see more of the same built nearby. It ultimately comes down to the fact that we don’t value our public realm in America, and, no surprise, we’ve not built a public realm worth valuing but instead retreated into escapism in the private one. All escapists, ranging from readers of fantasy literature to video game players to drug addicts, are generally irritated by any effort to somehow disrupt or meddle with the ongoing process of their withdrawal from reality.

    9. No street life or visible human activity

    Periodically, people will ask me: “Well, if you’re so committed to walking, why not just … do it?” They mean right here, on the highway, next to six lanes of traffic, in 90 °F heat.
    Well, in actually-existing psychological reality, people aren’t going to walk where it’s neither comfortable nor interesting to walk. Contrary to popular Republican-type mockery of the notion, “interesting” doesn’t require a hipster paradise of airy-fairy, frou-frou creature comforts like street cafes (though they do uncannily arise in interesting places). “Interesting” just means there’s some intimation of human presence and activity expressed in the architecture and scenery.

    There’s nothing about a treeless six-lane highway that conveys this. I’m going to drive, not walk, because to walk would be boring, tedious, uncomfortable, dangerous, and, in a sprawling geography designed at automobile scale, impractically slow.

    10. No public transport

    Aside from its superior efficiency and ecological footprint, the primary value of public transport is not in being able to commune with the armpits of your fellow man, but in being able to spend your time in some way other than chained to one’s steering wheel cursing the traffic. You can read a book, catch up on e-mail, or just close your eyes for a while.

    In suburban sprawl, you’re doomed to spend vast amounts of time at the wheel—time you cannot do much else with, and which you won’t get back. The nature of low-density automobile sprawl cities is that everything is insanely far away from everything else, so no matter what you do, you’re doomed to driving vast distances to see most friends, to commute to work, and so on.

    Clearly, it bears mention at this point that self-driving cars could address the chained-to-the-steering-wheel factor. But it remains to be seen to what extent they can shift the larger paradigm. I can envisage self-driving cars doing very little to change the overall blight (and environmental costs) of suburbia, or I could see them evolving more rationally into a kind of semi-personalized public transit. It’s a phenomenon that has the theoretical potential to either greatly further our atomization into the pathetically sybaritic techno-pods of a WALL-E type world, or to turn into a moderately pleasant band-aid.

    Whatever the case, they don’t solve the more fundamental problem of our vicious contempt for the idea of a public realm.

    11. Improper interface between city and highway

    In most places in the world, one will find that high-speed highways run between cities, not through them. You’ll also find that intercity highways don’t have a lot of commercial development along them, allowing unadulterated views of the countryside. In places like Atlanta, interstate highways are something like main thoroughfares. Three of them converge downtown, along with numerous other high-speed roadways. The effect is to induce lots of derivative traffic within the city. Freeways breed on-ramps and car-centric development along the corridor. At the same time, the city, especially its most important historic parts, is partitioned by an ugly exoskeleton.

    12. Lack of regional planning vision

    Turning back to Atlanta: Decades of unbridled free-for-all building in Atlanta have led to a widely dissonant, fragmented patchwork that cannot deliver a coherent thesis for future development in the city.

    Some individual neighborhoods in Atlanta, like Midtown (where I live), have made great strides over time to become walkable and present viable in-city living options. The problem is, as soon as you need to leave such a neighborhood, you still have to get in your car.

    The same problem can even play out on the block level. I’ve been to some downtowns of suburban sprawl cities and found them to have a number of blocks or sectors that are actually quite pedestrian-friendly, well-designed, and interesting. The problem is, these blocks are like a chessboard; they’re not contiguous! Want to go more than 500 ft? Better start the car.

    The point is, Metro Atlanta covers nine counties and untold municipalities, incorporated and not. With all the resources and initiative in the world, there’s nothing the City of Atlanta can fundamentally do to alter the reality of life in 95% of Metro Atlanta. I haven’t seen anything inhabitable constructed in America through a laissez-faire approach to building across such a patchwork. Charge has to be taken at the regional level.

    As far as I can tell, the same holds true almost everywhere, since everything in the US that is—gallingly—called a “city” consists of fragments scattered across unconscionable stretches of freeway. I have a special place in my heart for Dallas-Ft. Worth, much of which should be reclassified as a rural area outright if one is to judge by density. But the need for a regional approach to development priorities and transportation probably applies almost everywhere, including places like St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Omaha.


  11. Bobby July 17, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

    africa has few navigable rivers or domestic animals/plants. thus it was harder to form agricultural societies, and they kept foraging. agricultural societies allow for increasing specialization, towns, eventually cities… it all comes down to geography.
    land labor capital
    competition and geography: https://www.quora.com/Why-did-Europe-develop-before-the-rest-of-the-world





  12. Bobby July 22, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    This is not about land it is about Islamic holy war


    • Bobby July 22, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

      and about religion. Jerusalem. Water. Refugees. Oil. …

      For real though I think once climate changes begins to hit central Africa hard, thereby ushering in a new era of climate refugees from Chad, etc. to Western Europe and the Americas, shit will start to hit the fan



      • Bobby July 23, 2016 at 12:10 am #

        nationalism… Jews are a group of ppl because they do not go around converting like muslims or christians… Israel was founded, Palestine has never been as organized. it is corrupt, PLO v Hamas, not unified…


      • Al July 26, 2016 at 6:57 pm #


        Dear Congressman Hank Johnson,

        It has been brought to my attention that you believe I am a termite.

        Not just me, but my family, neighbors, and many of my friends – in fact, all of the Jews currently living in the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria (unless, that is, like many of the anti-Israel activists you were speaking to at the time, you believe that Jews anywhere at all in Israel qualify as “settlers.”)

        Congratulations: you have just added to the litany of dehumanizing characterizations of Jews promulgated by anti-Semites throughout history.

        Your worthless excuse of an “apology” notwithstanding (I daresay you would not have accepted a similar “apology” from a white racist who characterized black people in such a derogatory way), my initial reaction was some degree of outrage at an elected American official making such a breathtakingly bigoted statement about my people.

        Bigoted though your latest statements were, it is entirely possible that you yourself are simply pig-ignorant, and have a propensity for making public statements without even a cursory glance at the facts. In fact, based on the above video I am fairly confident of that explanation.

        Though I am not a geographer – and so perhaps not entirely qualified to explain to you precisely why islands cannot actually capsize due to overpopulation – I am a Jewish “termite”, so please allow me to explain where it is you went wrong.

        My people, you see, were here in these ancient hills long before those whose “rights” you have taken to championing first tore through the Middle East, conquering people after people by the sword and forcibly converting and Arabizing the native populations of the Levant – much as they did to large swathes of Africa too, as it happens.

        My dear Rep. Hank Johnson, I fear you have been duped by their Orwellian calls to end the “occupation” of a land they themselves only acquired via displacing, killing and forcibly converting the indigenous Jewish and Samaritan populations.

        Long before the Arab armies arrived in the land of Israel, while their ancestors were still sacrificing their children to sun gods in the deserts of Arabia, my own people built two glorious Jewish commonwealths on this land, and forged a spiritual and cultural heritage which sustains the entire monotheistic world today.

        Far from “eating up” this land, since reclaiming our national homeland in 1948 and 1967 we have brought it back to life – to the benefit of both its Jewish and Arab populations, both of whom have thrived and multiplied many times over as a result. The hills of Bet El and Shiloh; of Shechem and Hebron and Bethlehem; the beautiful Jordan valley – today all of these sites and beyond are brimming with life and burgeoning Jewish communities. It appears, you see, that it is impossible to “freeze” the inevitable march of history, no matter how hard you and your friends try.

        In some instances – such as in neighborhoods of Jerusalem and Hebron where the indigenous Jewish populations were violently ethnically-cleansed by Arab mobs and armies – we have retaken properties which were seized from us without just cause. We will continue to do so, be sure, as we will continue to rebuild the hills of our ancestors which surround them.

        We will continue to do so even if you and your ilk continue to intimidate our often timid leadership, because our people’s faith in God, our national resolve and our confidence in the justice of our cause is stronger than they or you.

        But don’t be “alarmed”: Were you to bother visiting us the floor would not cave in on you, as you so vividly described it might. Some of the finest wines, cheeses, olive oil and agriculture in the world is produced here – as our ancient prophets foretold – so why would we bother eating the floorboards?

        Instead, you will find that our foundations could not be any sturdier, having been forged, with the help of God, by the sweat of our brow and the blood of too many of our people.

        If you visited with an open mind, you would not only (hopefully) understand how wrong your position of hostility towards us is – you would also realize the ultimate futility of joining the ranks of all the other losers of history who attempted to prevent us from achieving our national aspirations.

        And you would surely realize that, much as the tiny island of Guam will continue to resist the tide of the mighty Pacific Ocean, the Jewish people will remain implanted in our land forever, in spite of the waves of fanaticism and violence which engulf our region.

        Yours sincerely, from the Hills of Shiloh,

        Ari Soffer


    • 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 7:19 pm #



      • 7linearmyny July 27, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

        from my friend:
        I would say ‘au revoir’ to la France…but I don’t think there will be any ‘revoir’ (‘see again’). France is done.

        They’re under attack in a one-sided war waged against their civilians, their culture, their heritage, their religion…by an enemy that lives within their walls and whom they are committed to support, educate, and bestow with every ‘human right’–including the right to vote and determine the future makeup of their government.

        Has any country ever, in the course of human history, done this for sworn enemies who freely murder and torture their people in their streets?

        The civilized world, across the board, is perpetrating this suicidal insanity upon itself for Islam. It was a stroke of 7th century genius to call the Islamic system for constant war and bloodshed in violent pursuit of world domination, a ‘religion’.

        Because of this one term of utterly false advertising, all western nations render themselves defenseless against it. Even worse than defenseless: many on the left, in particular, become its greatest facilitators and advocates.

        It’s too late for France to do anything to save itself. It’s allowed the flooding of its small country with so many Muslims, it will never find the courage to deport them. And if it doesn’t deport them, the Muslims will be at perpetual war against the French, everywhere, at all times, so that the French people will never know when or where an attack will hit them next; they will never be safe, never feel secure. And soon enough, the burgeoning Muslim population will overwhelm them in numbers, and the entire country will fall under Shari’ah, making it so dangerous and unpleasant for ‘infidels’ that the French will be forced to surrender and convert to Islam en masse.

        We’ve seen this happen to so many other nations and civilizations before over the past 1400 years. We should have seen this coming.

        But we in the west were blinded by our fear of doing to someone else what Europe did to an honest-to-goodness religious group–the Jews–who were not hurting anyone. And instead of taking the lesson from this that one needs to face what’s true, the lesson instead became not daring to think anything bad–even if it’s true–about anybody else’s “religion”. Even when this totalitarian political death-cult is destroying us, raping our girls, and murdering our children. What self-abnegating fools we’ve become.

        So goodbye France. A Dieu–or should I say, ‘a Allah’. The rest of Europe, and the rest of the once-free world, are next. Unless we wake up FAST.


  13. Al July 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    From BiBi:

    Dear Arab citizens of Israel, Muwatinuna al arab al aezaa,

    Before my election, I said Arabs voters were going to the polls in droves.
    I was referring to a specific political party but many people were understandably offended. I apologized for how my comment was misunderstood.

    But today I want to go further.
    Today I am asking Arab citizens in Israel to take part in our society—in droves. Work in droves, study in droves, thrive in droves.

    Israel is strong because of our diversity and pluralism—not in spite of it.

    Over 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs. And you have achieved incredible heights: Supreme Court justices, members of parliament, renowned authors, entrepreneurs, high tech business-owners, doctors, pharmacists.

    I am proud of the role Arabs play in Israel’s success.
    I want you to play an even greater role in it.

    Now, respecting minorities isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s critical to our progress.

    But talking about equality of opportunity – that’s not enough.
    Action is what matters.

    My government recently passed a resolution to invest massive resources in Arab communities.

    Arab communities are receiving unprecedented support for public infrastructure, for transportation, for employment, for welfare, for so many other things.

    And the reason for this is simple. Because your future is our future.

    Yet significant gaps remain.

    I will never forget the conversation I had in a Knesset committee with a young Muslim woman. Her husband and sons were gunned down in an Arab town. She was shaking. She begged me, she said, “Prime Minister, please increase law and order in the community where I live.”

    And this is exactly what we’re doing.

    Yesterday, the government approved legislation that would significantly strengthen public safety for Arab towns and villages. They’re yearning to be free from a life of crime and violence.

    My vision is that young Arab boys and girls grow up knowing they can achieve anything in Israel as valued and equal citizens in our democracy.

    Today I ask you all to join me in this effort.

    Now, each of us has a role to play.

    Jews and Arabs should reach out to each other, get to know each other’s families.

    Listen to each other.

    Jews and Arabs should treat one another with the same dignity and respect you’d want for your own family.

    Our land is too small, it’s too precious to fill it with discord and hate.

    Let us work together, Arabs and Jews alike, to reach ever higher in the noble pursuit of equality and dignity for all.

    This is my vision and I’m sure it’s yours too.


  14. Alex August 6, 2016 at 12:37 pm #


    they try to disrupt ban block events that ppl host… who is privileged now?

    they call israel an apartheid state when it is the only state in mideast w democracy for all, gay rights, christians muslims jews and many other small sects live together far better than in other countries in the area… like saudi, where being a jew is illegal and you are beheaded for leaving islam or being gay, where women cannot drive (and cant see thru their burqas)…

    these SJP warriors would be banned from saudi for wearing clothing showing their arm skin.

    they say jews are not indigenous to the land. really? even though islam was based off of judaism, and judaism was started in israel long before arabs came violently spreading islam to the area?

    they say jews appropriate palestinian culture? palestinians appropriate plenty too. don’t be anti-semetic and blame jews with a double standard. just because their state is more successful and less corrupt than the PA does not mean they are the bad guys.

    Hamas is a terrorist organization that builds tunnels into israel instead of schools, and launches rockets from schools and hospitals. they do not want ANY jews in the middle east and neither does iran, or saudi, or ISIS, al qaeda… because the quran is a violent text and it tells people to kill infidels. The bible and torah are also violent, but mohammed was a violent man, raping and conquering to spread islam; jesus was non-violent and peaceful.

    truth is, most muslims are not violent, but those who are, are still millions, and they are at israel’s doorstep. the only country for jews needs to defend itself because no other country will — germany, russia, usa — all have not treated jews very “well”… and israel is only a few miles wide, yet such a successful economy. the beacon of hope in a backwards land. thanks to european immigrants who brought ideas with them.

    liberal warriors are supposed to like diversity, and multiculturalism. but not when it comes to israel. there, immigration is bad, cultural sharing is bad, and jews are evil. these liberals are actually quite conservative and brainwashed with toxic ideas.

    truth is, palestine is to blame for their problems. they always act a victim, and their government is inept and corrupt. while israel was building its institutions, palestine was governed by jordan and egypt, and later the plo and hamas.

    when israel left gaza, hamas started lobbing rockets. do you think they will leave the west bank? or jerusalem? no! meanwhile, europe is being taken over by PC police and is overwhelmed by terrorists because they did not build a wall… muslims do not want to assimilate. they want sharia. no gays, no science, no reading except the quran, no other religions, no rights for women. and liberals defend them??

    yes there is discrimination in israel and there are crazy religious jews but this is nothing compared to the evil states of saudi, iran, etc… which have exported their brand of jihadi islam to the rest of the world.



    • Alex August 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm #


      Alumni from a range of generations say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Among their laments: Students are too wrapped up in racial and identity politics. They are allowed to take too many frivolous courses. They have repudiated the heroes and traditions of the past by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Fraternities are being unfairly maligned, and men are being demonized by sexual assault investigations. And university administrations have been too meek in addressing protesters whose messages have seemed to fly in the face of free speech.

      Scott C. Johnston, who graduated from Yale in 1982, said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.” He recalled the Yale student who was videotaped screaming at a professor, Nicholas Christakis, that he had failed “to create a place of comfort and home” for students in his capacity as the head of a residential college.


      • Alex August 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

        Dear Members and Alumni,
        In every presidential election since 1888, the members and Executive Board of the Harvard Republican Club have gathered to discuss, debate, and eventually endorse the standard-bearer of our party. But for the first time in 128 years, we, the oldest College Republicans chapter in the nation, will not be endorsing the Republican nominee.
        Donald Trump holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses –from racist slander to misogynistic taunts– is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel.
        If enacted, Donald Trump’s platform would endanger our security both at home and abroad. Domestically, his protectionist trade policies and draconian immigration restrictions would enlarge our federal deficit, raise prices for consumers, and throw our economy back into recession. Trump’s global outlook, steeped in isolationism, is considerably out-of-step with the traditional Republican stance as well. The flippancy with which he is willing to abdicate the United States’ responsibility to lead is alarming. Calling for the US’ withdrawal from NATO and actively endorsing nuclear proliferation, Donald Trump’s foreign policy would wreak havoc on the established world order which has held aggressive foreign powers in check since World War II.
        Perhaps most importantly, however, Donald Trump simply does not possess the temperament and character necessary to lead the United States through an increasingly perilous world. The last week should have made obvious to all what has been obvious to most for more than a year. In response to any slight –perceived or real– Donald Trump lashes out viciously and irresponsibly. In Trump’s eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, failing, idiot –and that’s just his “fellow” Republicans.
        He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.
        Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.
        Millions of people across the country are feeling despondent. Their hours have been cut, wages slashed, jobs even shipped overseas. But Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to fix that. He has a plan to exploit that.
        Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children.
        President Reagan called on us to maintain this, our shining city on a hill. He called on us to maintain freedom abroad by keeping a strong presence in the world. He called on us to maintain liberty at home by upholding the democratic process and respecting our opponents. He called on us to maintain decency in our hearts by loving our neighbor.
        He would be ashamed of Donald Trump. We are too.
        This fall, we will instead focus our efforts on reclaiming the Republican Party from those who have done it considerable harm, campaigning for candidates who will uphold the conservative principles that have defined the Republican Party for generations. We will work to ensure both chambers of Congress remain in Republican hands, continuing to protect against executive overreach regardless of who wins the election this November.
        We call on our party’s elected leaders to renounce their support of Donald Trump, and urge our fellow College Republicans to join us in condemning and withholding their endorsement from this dangerous man. The conservative movement in America should not and will not go quietly into the night.
        A longtime student of American democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
        De Tocqueville believed in the United States. Americans are a decent people. We work hard, protect our own, and look out for one another in times of need, regardless of the color of our skin, the God we worship, or our party registration. Donald Trump may not believe in that America, but we do. And that America will never cease to be great.
        The Harvard Republican Club


      • Alex August 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

        During a 33-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, I served presidents of both parties — three Republicans and three Democrats. I was at President George W. Bush’s side when we were attacked on Sept. 11; as deputy director of the agency, I was with President Obama when we killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
        I am neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I have pulled the lever for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I have always been silent about my preference for president.
        No longer. On Nov. 8, I will vote for Hillary Clinton. Between now and then, I will do everything I can to ensure that she is elected as our 45th president.
        Two strongly held beliefs have brought me to this decision. First, Mrs. Clinton is highly qualified to be commander in chief. I trust she will deliver on the most important duty of a president — keeping our nation safe. Second, Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security.
        I spent four years working with Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state, most often in the White House Situation Room. In these critically important meetings, I found her to be prepared, detail-oriented, thoughtful, inquisitive and willing to change her mind if presented with a compelling argument.
        I also saw the secretary’s commitment to our nation’s security; her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and, most important, her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all — whether to put young American women and men in harm’s way.
        Mrs. Clinton was an early advocate of the raid that brought Bin Laden to justice, in opposition to some of her most important colleagues on the National Security Council. During the early debates about how we should respond to the Syrian civil war, she was a strong proponent of a more aggressive approach, one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Syria.
        I never saw her bring politics into the Situation Room. In fact, I saw the opposite. When some wanted to delay the Bin Laden raid by one day because the White House Correspondents Dinner might be disrupted, she said, “Screw the White House Correspondents Dinner.”
        In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.
        These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.
        The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.
        President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.
        Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
        In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

        Mr. Trump has also undermined security with his call for barring Muslims from entering the country. This position, which so clearly contradicts the foundational values of our nation, plays into the hands of the jihadist narrative that our fight against terrorism is a war between religions.
        In fact, many Muslim Americans play critical roles in protecting our country, including the man, whom I cannot identify, who ran the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center for nearly a decade and who I believe is most responsible for keeping America safe since the Sept. 11 attacks.
        My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the C.I.A. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president.



      • Hal August 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm #


        I had the honor of serving as Ronald Reagan’s White House political director from 1987 to 1989, so I can claim some insight on U.S. politics. My central conclusion on the 2016 race: It might not be entirely clear that Hillary Clinton deserves to win the presidency, but it is thunderingly clear that Donald Trump deserves to lose.

        From this premise, I will do something that I have not done in 40 years of voting: I will vote for the Democratic nominee for president. The depressing truth of the Republican nominee is that Donald Trump talks a great game but he is the emperor who wears no clothes.

        Trump falls short in terms of the character and behavior needed to perform as president. This defect is crippling and ensures he would fail in office. Trump is a bigot, a bully, and devoid of grace or magnanimity. His thin-skinned belligerence toward every challenge, rebuke, or criticism would promise the nation a series of a high-voltage quarrels. His casual dishonesty, his policy laziness, and his lack of self-awareness would mean four years of a careening pin-ball journey that would ricochet from missteps to crisis to misunderstandings to clarifications to retractions.

        This decision is not an easy one. I proudly served in every Republican administration over the past 40 years: Ambassador and Undersecretary for George W. Bush, Commerce Department official for George H. W. Bush, and several White House and State Department assignments for Ronald Reagan beyond the political director role.

        I have seen presidents work with difficult people and difficult issues. It requires a blend of strategic vision and tactical flexibility, combined with optimism and good humor. A president needs the thick skin to ignore criticism and the management discipline to stay fixed on goals. Trump, on the other hand, manages to pick fights that are unrelated to his goals.

        The most pronounced example in this regard was his tasteless criticism of the family of deceased Army Capt. Humayun Khan. We owe that young man our gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice. And we owe his parents our respect for the dignity with which they reproached Mr. Trump for his grotesqueries.

        Less poignant is a part of the Trump story that ought to have particular resonance with Republicans: his four business bankruptcies, more than a trivial matter for a party that prides itself on thrift, sound money, and prudential management.

        The bankruptcies reflect a man who either lacks reasonable business judgment or reasonable business ethics. By themselves, four bankruptcies are pretty bad. But four bankruptcies and a private jet is deplorable. How can everyone lose money in the collapse of a project yet Trump flies away again and again?
        In the early days of my startup, there was a moment when I could have shut the firm, declared bankruptcy, and walked away from my obligations, but I have employees, investors, clients, and customers — all of whom rely on my commitment. I have a moral obligation to stand by people who are standing by me. No wonder so many Americans are skeptical of market economics if the system can be so easily manipulated by Trump.

        To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one bankruptcy may be regarded as a misfortune, but four begins to look like carelessness. We can suppose that Trump has every legal right to declare bankruptcies and to walk away with millions. And voters have every legal right to vote against him for those actions.

        There are many issues on which Hillary Clinton and I are not in agreement. However on the core foreign policy issues our country faces — alliance relationships, security commitments, and international engagement — she comes closer to Republican views than does Trump. And Donald Trump makes me cringe. I am voting for Hillary. And I vote in Ohio.


      • justicity August 17, 2016 at 10:35 am #

        the more he says the more some like him because “he speaks his mind” even if he lies more than hillary lied – he used to support iraq war, believe in climate change and abortion, now he wants to decrease our freedoms and yet they think obama is an evil dictator? trump is anti women muslim disabled so greedy failed businesses… does not kno politics or foreign issues, loves putin…

        though to be fair, it is the cities and states that do most of the work on climate change, transportation, etc.

        From NYT:

        STANFORD, Calif. — After five years of record-setting drought, much of California is being pummeled by an extremely wet winter. The disaster unfolding at Oroville, where precipitation is more than double the average, is the latest reminder that the United States needs a climate-smart upgrade of our water management systems.

        In the West, much of our water infrastructure is old. Oroville Dam, north of Sacramento, was completed in 1968, nearly a half a century ago. Other major components of our water system are generations older, and maintenance has not been a priority. The damage to Oroville Dam, where the primary spillway developed a giant gash and the emergency spillway threatened to erode, illustrates the hazard of relying on aging infrastructure to protect us from extreme weather.

        But age and upkeep are not the only problems. Our water system was designed and built in an old climate, one in which extremely warm years were less common and snowpack was more reliable. Here in the West, we use the same dams and reservoirs for both water storage and flood control, so during the wet season, reservoir managers continuously balance the dual pressures of storing as much water as possible for the dry summer and releasing sufficient water to create room for the next storm.

        This system relies on the natural reservoir of mountain snowpack, which melts gradually over the spring and summer. While it is well known that much of the West relies on snowpack for water storage, the vital role of snowpack in flood control is considerably less appreciated. When precipitation falls as snow, it stays in the mountains rather than flowing into reservoirs. This leaves more room in reservoirs to prevent flooding downstream during heavy rainfall.

        The recent drought has highlighted the pressure that a changing climate puts on a snowpack-dependent water system. With the shift toward more rain rather than snow, and the earlier melting of the snowpack, water managers need to release water more frequently for flood control. This dynamic is playing out in Oroville now, with the state’s water managers racing to empty water from the dam’s reservoir in advance of storms forecast to arrive Wednesday. Because these storms are relatively warm, they are likely to bring rain to the surrounding mountains, speeding the flow of water behind the dam.

        The juxtaposition of five years of hot, dry conditions followed by more rain than reservoirs can store may seem incongruous. However, this is exactly what climate scientists have predicted for California since at least the 1980s: protracted periods of warm, dry conditions punctuated by intense wet spells, with more rain and less snow, causing both drought and floods. Recent work from my lab shows that in fact this pattern is already emerging, with the conditions that create extremely warm dry years and extremely wet years both becoming more frequent.

        The other bitter reality is that this extremely wet winter will not wash away the drought. Depending where one looks, California lost out on one to three full years of precipitation from 2012 to 2016. That is a lot of water to make up in one year, and as of last week almost half of California was still in a state of drought. The moisture deficits that have accumulated during the drought have not been seen in our lifetimes. They have caused thousands of California residents to go without running water, resulted in groundwater contamination and permanent loss of aquifer storage capacity, and have severely stressed tens of millions of trees. As a result, even after this wet year, rural communities, groundwater aquifers and forest ecosystems will still feel the effects of the drought.

        As the last five years illustrate, California’s water system is not equipped for climate change’s “new normal.” That water system must simultaneously provide for the country’s largest population and agricultural sector, and one of its most diverse natural environments. Although California has greatly improved water-use efficiency in the last half-century, climate change is pushing our water system to the limit. Investments in “climate smart” infrastructure can ensure the safety and security of Americans in the face of climate stresses now and in the future. These investments in infrastructure upgrades and expansion would create jobs, protect communities from disasters and help prepare us for changes in the climate. This effort would have several key elements:

        First, given the new climate normal in which protracted hot, dry periods are far more common, we need to deploy technologies that can increase water supply. While expensive, energy-intensive desalination options have received considerable attention, wastewater recycling technologies have improved to the point that clean, safe water can now be delivered at reduced energy cost and can even be an energy source by using the organic matter in wastewater to produce energy. Investments in infrastructure to capture, store and clean urban storm water will also create new sources of water supply.

        Second, we need to acknowledge that a water system that relies on snowpack for both water storage and flood control is increasingly risky. To make up for loss of snowpack, we need to build infrastructure that enables us to use excess runoff to recharge groundwater aquifers. This will have the dual benefit of replenishing groundwater that is drawn down during hot dry spells and capturing storm water that is lost when water is released for flood control.

        Third, we need to prioritize infrastructure that helps us reliably supply safe water to both urban and rural communities while also ensuring that our vibrant agricultural sector and treasured ecosystems have the water that they need. Creating new supply and storage will help, but ensuring equity will require that infrastructure investments simultaneously provide for all of these constituencies.

        Fourth, although California has made tremendous progress in improving efficiency, this drought shows that there is still more room to improve. New technologies such as “smart” sensors, coupled with expanded water markets, offer opportunities to further increase water efficiency.

        Each of these infrastructure investments would increase the safety and security of Americans right now. That each would also help us to prepare for further climate change shouldn’t be a reason not to make those investments.


        Thank God for the resignation in shame by Mike Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser. And not just because he misled the vice president and engaged in deeply malignant behavior with Russia, but, more important, because maybe it will finally get the United States government, Congress and the news media to demand a proper answer to what is still the biggest national security question staring us in the face today: What is going on between Donald Trump and the Russians?

        Sorry, Kellyanne Conway, I am not ready to just “move on.”

        Every action, tweet and declaration by Trump throughout this campaign, his transition and his early presidency screams that he is compromised when it comes to the Russians.

        I don’t know what it is whether Russian oligarchs own him financially or whether Russian spies own him personally because of alleged indiscreet behavior during his trips to Moscow. But Trump’s willingness to attack allies like Australia, bluster at rivals like China, threaten enemies like Iran and North Korea and bully neighbors like Mexico — while consistently blowing kisses to Russian President Vladimir Putin — cannot be explained away by his mere desire to improve relations with Moscow to defeat the Islamic State. And the Flynn ouster gives our government another, desperately needed opportunity to demand the answers to these questions, starting with seeing the president’s tax returns.

        We need to know whom Trump owes and who might own him, and we need to know it now. Save for a few patriotic Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire Republican Party is complicit in a shameful act of looking away at Trump’s inexplicable behavior toward Russia.

        If Republicans want to know how they should be behaving on this issue, they should ask themselves what they would be saying and doing right now if a President Hillary Clinton had behaved toward Russia the way Trump has, and had her national security adviser been found hinting to the Russian ambassador to hold tight because a softer United States policy toward Russia was on its way.

        House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, what are you thinking by looking away from this travesty? You both know that if the C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. had concluded that the Russians had intervened to help Hillary Clinton get elected you would have closed the government and demanded a new election. Now it’s all O.K.? So you can get some tax cuts? Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly, our new secretaries of defense and homeland security, you are great patriots who both put your lives on the line in uniform to defend American values from precisely the kind of attack Putin perpetrated. Are you O.K. with what’s going on?

        We need to rerun the tape. Ladies and gentlemen, we were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and we were attacked on Nov. 8, 2017. That most recent attack didn’t involve a horrible loss of lives, but it was devastating in its own way. Our entire intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked our election by deliberately breaking into Democratic National Committee computers and then drip-by-drip funneling embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks to undermine Clinton’s campaign. And what have we done about it? Other than a wrist slap against Moscow, we’ve moved on.

        That is not O.K.

        I am not arguing that Trump is not the legitimate president; he won for many reasons. But I am arguing that he is not behaving like one. Trump presents himself as “Mr. Patriotism,” wrapped in the American flag. And yet he has used his Twitter account to attack BMW for building an auto plant in Mexico, Boeing for over charging for a government airplane, the cast of “Hamilton” for appealing to the vice president to reaffirm American pluralism, American newspapers for undercounting the size of his inauguration crowd and the actress Meryl Streep for calling him out for bullying a handicapped reporter. And yet “Mr. Patriotism” has barely uttered a word of criticism on Twitter or off about a Russian president who has intervened in our democrat process.

        That’s not O.K.

        “The Russians did not just hack into some emails or break into some banks in America. . They attacked the very things that make America what it is — that makes it so special: its rule of law and its democratic form of choosing and changing leaders,” said Nader Mousavizadeh, who was a senior adviser to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

        I am not looking to go to war with Russia over this. Back in the 1990s, this column was among the loudest voices warning against NATO expansion — that it would one day come back to haunt us, which it has, by making Russia feel threatened. I don’t care about Putin. His regime will fail because he is forever looking for dignity in all the wrong places, by drilling for oil and gas instead of unleashing the creativity of his people. But I am not willing to settle for evicting a few Russian agents and then moving on. We need to get to the truth, look it squarely in the eye and then act proportionately.

        Trump and his senior aides have spent their first weeks in power doing nothing more than telling us how afraid we should be of Muslim immigrants who have not been properly vetted by our intelligence and immigration authorities. Well, Putin was vetted by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., and they concluded that he attacked our country’s most important institution — and Trump has acted as if he could not care less.

        If the rest of us do the same, we’ll get the country we deserve, and it will not be great.


      • Solaris November 4, 2016 at 10:48 am #

        This is about sexism. Hillary has a double standard.


        But my fellow Americans, whatever mix of motives led us to create an Electoral College majority for Donald Trump to become president — and overlook his lack of preparation, his record of indecent personal behavior, his madcap midnight tweeting, his casual lying about issues like “millions” of people casting illegal votes in this election, the purveying of fake news by his national security adviser, his readiness to appoint climate change deniers without even getting a single briefing from the world’s greatest climate scientists in the government he’ll soon lead and his cavalier dismissal of the C.I.A.’s conclusions about Russian hacking of our election — have no doubt about one thing: We as a country have just done something incredibly reckless.
        But growth that is heedless of environmental impacts, collaboration with Russia that is heedless of Vladimir Putin’s malevolence, and greater aggressiveness toward China that is heedless of the carefully crafted security balance among the U.S., China and Taiwan — which has produced prosperity and stability in Asia for over four decades — is reckless.
        For an administration that lost the popular vote by such a large margin to suddenly take the country to such extreme positions on energy, environment and foreign policy — unbalanced inside by any moderate voices — is asking for trouble, and it will produce a backlash.
        Finally, Trump has demonstrated a breathtaking naïveté toward Putin. Putin wanted Trump to win because he thinks that he’ll be a chaos president who will weaken America’s influence in the world by weakening its commitment to liberal values and will weaken America’s ability to lead a Western coalition to confront Putin’s aggression in Europe. Putin is out to erode democracy wherever he can. Trump needs to send Putin a blunt message today: “I am not your chump.”
        We have recently learned that President-elect Trump has ethical and business conflicts that seem to violate the Constitution; is skipping his national security briefings while dangerously departing from longstanding bipartisan foreign policy; has criticized union workers and protesters on his Twitter feed; and plans to staff much of his cabinet and high-level leadership with billionaires dedicated to eradicating the very programs they are tasked with overseeing. In the meantime, the most recent reports from the C.I.A. are that Russia interfered with the election.
        There’s no shortage of legal theories that could challenge Mr. Trump’s anointment, but they come from outsiders rather than the Democratic Party. Impassioned citizens have been pleading with electors to vote against Mr. Trump; law professors have argued that winner-take-all laws for electoral votes are unconstitutional; a small group, the Hamilton Electors, is attempting to free electors to vote their consciences; and a new theory has arisen that there is legal precedent for courts to give the election to Mrs. Clinton based on Russian interference. All of these efforts, along with the grass-roots protests, boycotts and petitions, have been happening without the Democratic Party. The most we’ve seen is a response to the C.I.A. revelations, but only with Republicans onboard to give Democrats bipartisan cover.


      • Gobbler November 11, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

        Clinton won the popular vote by millions.
        Trump won with WI, MI, and PA, by a combined total of only 100,000 votes.

        He said millions voted illegally without any evidence — so now he should support a recount!
        What a crazy guy, wants waterboarding, ending health care, climate change legislation…

        As state election results were announced throughout the night, I noticed I started to become queasy. I’m finding it difficult to process the implications of this evening and what it means for me and for many of my friends.
        Sure, we can talk economics. I can talk about economics for hours: The construction of the Wall, the repealing of the ACA, the abolishing of trade deals that have propelled our nation forward, the attempting to sever globalization that has resulted in unprecedented wealth, and all of that good stuff. I understand that the majority of the population is frustrated by rising inequality. I agree that the rich seem to be allowed to operate according to different rules. I acknowledge that mainstream politicians oftentimes seem to care more about the interests of their lobbyists and their re-election campaigns than about their constituents. And I know that, contrary to the reported unemployment numbers each month, finding an appropriate job is difficult or impossible. These grievances are real and have to be addressed and combated.
        But economics is, of course, not the entire story. I argue that the true wealth of our nation should be measured in “human prosperity”, which I define to be the level of safety, liberty, comfort, and opportunity that we can provide to EVERY human being within our reach.
        Donald Trump has demonstrated that he does not care about human prosperity. His proposal to ban Muslims challenges basic ideas of liberty. His promise to overturn the ACA, without a detailed alternative policy in mind, threatens the safety of millions. His declaration to pursue Supreme Court Justices that will overturn the Roe v Wade decision and the gay marriage decision – as well as his support for Mike Pence, who adamantly supports gay conversion therapy – prevent basic comforts and equality. And his proposals to isolate the nation from the rest of the world certainly oppose opportunity.
        Trump does not seek to raise overall human prosperity, His campaign targeted less-educated white men with objections to technological change, social progress, and diversity of thought. To those who disagree with this statement, I would simply tell them to look at the voter demographics.
        With this election decision, our total measure of human prosperity as a nation will decrease. As a gay man, I fear that my personal human prosperity will decrease as a result of this election. In my mind, Trump has made an explicit threat against me; he has threatened to enact – and appoint justices to enforce – policies that target me, without any justification from an economic standpoint. It has shaken me to my core to know that the majority of this “great nation” has chosen a political candidate who has made clear that his policy objectives will make life more difficult for women, LGBT people, people of color, Muslims, and so many others (Also,his tax proposals, compared to Hillary’s proposals, are projected to increase the wealth gap, and thus hurt the poorest Americans).
        I’ve never been afraid to be a citizen in this country. I guess that this makes me really fortunate; I always knew that I was fortunate, but I never quite processed it. To those who have felt this way for a long time, I’m sorry. I’m sorry both because I haven’t done much to reverse it and because I haven’t always been completely empathetic towards it. I hope that we all come together and continue to pursue a world with infinite human prosperity.
        On another note, here are my conclusions from the election result:
        1. Our country is more divided now than during most time periods in our history. Our country can’t continue to exist with such harsh divisions among geographic lines.
        2. The idea of a more ‘tolerant’ and heterogeneous US was a facade
        3. Anti-globalization is a worldwide phenomenon; France and Germany are up next. This is really dangerous for the prospects of growth in the 21st century.
        4. On that note, this election result will likely solidify China’s increasing dominance on the world stage, as emerging markets look away from the US for support and strength.
        5. A nation can’t measure economic progress without considering the hardships of the bottom percentile.
        6. The polling industry is worthless, and every employee in the polling industry should be fired.

        If you went to sleep early last night and just woke up, Donald Trump is now the President-Elect of the United States of America. He pulled off a stunning upset of Hillary Clinton, who disappeared from public view when it became clear she was going to lose and refused to give a consolation speech.
        There is a lot to discuss about why this happened, what this means, and what will happen going forward. We’ll provide deeper analysis throughout the day, but here are the bullet points:
        • Trump upset Clinton by winning the states he had to (Florida, North Carolina, Ohio etc), and pulling away several Democratic swing states (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania).
        • This is a populist victory unlike any going back perhaps as far as Andrew Jackson. People voted for a man who promised policies that are very popular with the working class.
        • Hillary Clinton ran almost entirely without any major platform other than “I’m not Donald Trump. There was almost no enthusiasm for a Clinton presidency. She spoke down to the American people and lied profusely to them. Their response to her: Go away.
        • The elites essentially shut themselves off from the people, and didn’t listen to their concerns, instead trying to rely on collaboration with the media and the power of government institutions such as the IRS and the Justice Department to compel a continuation of the status quo.
        • Blacks began to question their allegiance to a party that has now failed them for generations. Rather than the unqualified support Democrats used to be able to count on from the African-American community, they stayed home, and many even voted Trump.
        • White America reestablished its primacy at the polls, after being pushed into the background by pundits who proclaimed the rise of the minority voter.
        • Unions fled away from Democrats. The Rust Belt trended toward Republicans after Clinton’s support for NAFTA, waffling on the Pacific Trade agreement, and opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.
        • The collapse of the media is now complete. Their coverage of this election has bordered on malpractice. The American public has now sent them a loud message: “You didn’t listen to us, so we stopped listening to you.”
        • A whole new method of estimating public support must now be formulated. Pollsters got it wrong bigly this election. Their formulas could not accurately account for Trump’s unorthodox coalition and the apparent unwillingness of people being polled to admit they were going to vote for him.
        • Globalism has been rejected, it seems. Trump and Sanders both received a lot of enthusiasm for their repudiation of trade deals.
        • Wikileaks and the FBI investigation played a major role in the outcome, with revelations coinciding with Trump’s surge in the last few months. The backroom politics and sleezy dealmaking have been exposed and repudiated.
        • The stock market’s Dow Jones Index, which had at one point indicated it would open down almost 900 points, recovered to open nearly flat and is now actually in positive territory.
        • Hillary Clinton will speak this morning, though her speech has been postponed several times.
        • Obama was one of the most active presidents when it came to bypassing congress with executive orders and regulations imposed by the FCC and EPA etc. Net “Neutrality”, Carbon emission restrictions, etc. are now all subject to repeal by executive order of Trump.
        • The Supreme Court may in fact shift RIGHT or toward more originalists, if Trump keeps his promise to appoint Constitutional Conservatives.
        • There may actually be a wall, or at least much tighter security on our southern border.
        • Obamacare is now in danger of repeal.
        • Dodd/Frank may be modified or repealed.
        • If the establishment wants to survive this apparent revolution, they’ll have to stop talking to each other and start talking to the American people. Populism may be set to explode upon American politics.
        • We now have a first lady unlike any in our history.

        Now all the whites on welfare have their leader… But, don’t generalize a group of people as racist or sexist. They voted that way for many reasons. Learn to see both side. Lol protesters, saying it is “rigged” because of electoral college, but they complained trump said it was rigged. People so quick to assume. You can be against abortion and care about the living, care about refugees. You can be against illegal immigration and Islamic extremism and still support legal immigration.

        Ah, electoral college.

        America, its OK. You can elect Bush, twice. Then Obama. Twice. Then Trump. You have no fear that any one of them will stay more than 8 years. No constitution will be “adjusted” by any to cling to power, police will not kill protestors, your elections will not be rigged (except if Trump had lost). And yeah, no one will openly steal billions of your public money. For that kind of a system, I would take an election loss, once every so often. Give my “crazy”, “bigoted”, “angry” fellow citizens a chance to put in their choice of leader. It’s OK. If you think not, please ask around the world, if someone would like to switch passports with you. Even the Brits might just take the deal.

        In this country, blacks who want freedom are judged criminals … whites are “patriots”…


    • Ramma October 2, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

      Yes, and it also made the desert bloom.



  15. Ralpe August 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    The US forced Japan and Germany to be democracies. Maybe Iraq just needs a bit more time.


  16. Joku August 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    ISIS is a substate adversary with no rules. Thus the CIA needs to be involved, with its own fighters. If we stop they will not stop. It is a vicious cycle. US/UK helped to create taliban to kick out russians, lied to go to Iraq, destabilized region with arbitrary boundaries, but even if we did not, muslims would still have some extremists, they would still hate israel, etc. and osama attacked the US because we support israel.


    Department of Defense is the military which includes Dept of the Army, Dept of the Navy and Dept of the Air Force. The CIA is an independent agency and the FBI is part of the Justice Dept (as is the Secret Service)


    The CIA and the DoD have worked together since 1947 to help protect and defend the United States of America and our Constitution. This complex relationship has actively evolved over the decades in response to world events.



  17. justicity August 17, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Apartheid against Jews


    • Franz August 17, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

      geography culture genetics…

      (of course genetics and esp race is marginal compared to culture… most differences are not based on biological race, but are invisible and within racial groups, though eastern europeans are more prone to bone problems, etc)


  18. Sam August 24, 2016 at 12:05 am #

    buddhism, christianity, kabbalah, hinduism, paganism, quantum theory…

    There are peaceful sects of Islam.

    Buddhism, Christianity, have all adapted to the modern world.

    and then, islam. Mohammed spread his ideas through rape and murder, unlike Jesus.

    At the time, Mohammed was the first of the 3 monotheistic religions to grant rights to women equal to man’s, right to property and divorce.

    It was revolutionary then. Today, they have gone backwards, just as Christianity went backwards when it left Jewish hands and landed under the Pagans, who got Christians to worship on Sun-day.

    Back and forth and back and forth, Islam in Iberia, Balkans, Christians in India…

    Unforunately for most Americans, they don’t even know Islam is an abrahamic religion or that Jesus was a Jew. lOL


  19. Hobart September 16, 2016 at 10:50 pm #

    people fought and died for people to have freedom… now, trump and clinton want to take it away… media has made us turn this into a celebrity cycle, not the real details, just spin and lies… trump wants to get supreme court for him, no abortion epa gay rights climate change… lies, hates truth and loves dictators… it is real trouble folks… a guy who lies and seeks self fame over anything else… i dunno


  20. Gettz September 26, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    taxes, regulations, drive businesses out, and government is so wasteful. so much debt. rising costs.

    we need creative ways to finance infrastructure, to invest in our economy!

    and, no regulations at all, and that’s a mess too.

    the ussr had too much central power over too many social areas, with an unsustainable foreign policy, and gov’t too involved in social and economic life. people pretended to work and gov’t pretended to pay them. no incentives for productivity. whereas china opened up to the world and has always been more unified and less culturally diverse. ussr was stagnant, republics were not independent, it was too centralized.

    clinton is the better choice, trump is loud obnoxious man. he made his own business, employs people, but also does not pay taxes to contribute. rude, mean, liar… we cannot do manufacturing in the US anymore, just not competitive. trump has lied, changed positions on iraq, abortion, climate change, etc.


    SEPTEMBER 26, 2016
    Hillary Clinton will be there. Donald J. Trump, too. Pleasantries will probably be exchanged. And after that, the road map for the first presidential debate is anyone’s guess. What are some of the most consequential “what-ifs” ahead of Monday night’s showdown — the possibilities that make the campaigns sweat? Or should:

    What if Trump invokes Bill Clinton’s infidelities?

    He is off to a head start: Mr. Trump already threatened to invite Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to have had a 12-year affair with Bill Clinton, as his debate guest. (Mr. Trump’s campaign later said that Ms. Flowers would not be there.)

    Still, a decision to confront Mrs. Clinton from the stage about her husband’s misdeeds would raise the stakes considerably. Mr. Trump plainly sees a benefit in reminding voters of past Clinton scandals they may have forgotten. But the risks are substantial: The move could make Mrs. Clinton appear more sympathetic and repel female voters already uneasy with Mr. Trump.

    Then there is Mr. Trump’s marital history to consider.

    What if Clinton drops a pop quiz?

    No one likes a know-it-all. But voters, presumably, want their president to know at least a few things. Among some Republicans who hoped to stop Mr. Trump in the primaries — and who remain convinced that he could not survive a middle-school civics class — a great regret persists: No one ever tried to insult his intelligence by stumping him with an easy question.

    What is the Common Core, which he claims to despise? Who is the prime minister of Canada? How does a bill become a law?

    Does Mr. Trump know the answers? It may not matter to some of his supporters, but an “oops” moment (looking at you, Rick Perry) could be the stuff of millions of cable news and YouTube replays.

    What if Trump hits dead air?

    It can seem as though Mr. Trump loves no sound more than the swaggering Queens timbre of his own voice. But for a candidate not known for his policy depth, a one-on-one format poses a unique challenge.

    In the Republican primary debates, he often disappeared for extended stretches, letting his many rivals skirmish over assorted campaign proposals, before lumbering in with a memorably evocative quip about, say, the size of his genitals.

    This time, it is 90 commercial-free minutes with Mrs. Clinton. That is a lot of airtime.

    What if the moderator keeps quiet?

    Perhaps the greatest fear in the Clinton camp centers on the choices of Lester Holt, the debate moderator. Specifically, will Mr. Holt see fit to interject when the candidates shade the truth?

    Though Mrs. Clinton’s reputation for candor is checkered, her team hopes the debate might lay bare Mr. Trump’s prolific assemblage of falsehoods. Some signature untruths, like Mr. Trump’s insistence that he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, have often been allowed to go unchallenged, including at a recent NBC candidate forum.

    Mrs. Clinton’s team has urged Mr. Holt to set a different tone.

    What if Clinton goes ‘Art of the Deal’?

    Mr. Trump fashions himself a master negotiator. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton will make him an offer he would have trouble refusing on live television. As the Clinton camp continues to press Mr. Trump to release his tax returns, she might be tempted to make a deal, or at least float one.

    She could offer to do his taxes for him next year. Or she could volunteer a charitable contribution, as Mr. Trump did while promoting the false “birther” movement questioning President Obama’s birthplace. Speaking of which…

    What if birtherism haunts Trump?

    After five years as principal spokesman for the idea that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States, Mr. Trump acknowledged this month that the president was born here. Also, Mr. Trump said, he would rather not talk about it anymore.

    But Mrs. Clinton would. So far, Mr. Trump has strained to identify a coherent reason for his change of heart. One of the most significant debate moments may arrive when Mr. Trump is compelled to provide one, before the watchful eyes of the many Obama supporters still wary of Mrs. Clinton.

    What if Clinton is funny?

    The sightings are rare, like an endangered animal wandering through Manhattan. But those close to Mrs. Clinton have long contended that she can be quite funny.

    In an election often defined by showmanship and confrontation, a well-placed zinger might prove powerful, particularly from such an unexpected source.

    What if Trump pulls a Lazio?

    Even after dozens of debates in two presidential campaigns, the most memorable moment for Mrs. Clinton still may be when Representative Rick A. Lazio walked, with a finger pointed, into her personal space during the 2000 Senate race to demand she sign a pledge forsaking outside money.

    Female voters recoiled at his behavior, and Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are quietly hopeful that Mr. Trump may seek to prove his alpha status with a similar intimidation tactic. Can Mr. Trump — a man who recently insisted on divulging his testosterone levels, despite releasing scant medical records — resist the urge?

    What if Trump says something vaguely threatening?

    Mr. Trump, well practiced at innuendo and ominous warnings, has often compelled reporters to ask questions they never thought would be necessary. Questions like: Did he just encourage violence against his opponent? (And, if not, what did he imply about the “Second Amendment people” who might take matters into their own hands if Mrs. Clinton is elected?)

    It is not clear if Mr. Trump views this tic as a shortcoming or as a strength of his oratory. But if Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Holt can challenge him in real time over such a flourish, Mr. Trump might be placed on the defensive, without a spokesman on hand to walk back his comments immediately after the fact.

    What if Clinton starts coughing?

    It might not prove anything. It might not be fair. But after decades of health-based conspiracy theories and Mrs. Clinton’s recent bout with pneumonia, supporters worry that a simple coughing fit — hardly implausible during a lengthy, uninterrupted gabfest — could feed perceptions about her fitness to serve. It would be especially damaging given how many voters have seen the video of her wilting this month while leaving a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony.

    Well before that, Mrs. Clinton had occasionally gone hoarse on the campaign trail, or slogged through a flurry of hacks at the microphone. Monday would be a poor time for a relapse.

    What if Trump defends Putin again?

    Mr. Trump has admired his leadership. He has cited his poll numbers in Russia. Mr. Trump has even played down the killing of dissident journalists, on the grounds that “our country does plenty of killing, too.”

    The Republican nominee has had many nice things to say about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. And there is little that Mrs. Clinton would like more than to make Mr. Trump repeat them.


    • Ramma October 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

      Oy. Religion makes no sense today. Neither do outdated communist, fascist ideas. We need a balance of market-led growth and regulation. Not these extreme libertarians and green parties. “People before profit”. They don’t realize that profit is GOOD for people, that people BENEFIT because of profit and the only way to have more wealth is through more productivity, not redistribution. If we redistributed our collective wealth before we became capitalists, we’d all be dirt poor. People who think the government can solve our problems are silly… they cannot even make a website for healthcare and you trust them with your money? At the same time, companies are also greedy, and if left unchecked, will wreak havoc on our environment, etc. So we must be careful!

      Are politicians out of touch with reality? Can they be trusted? Some, perhaps. Do we need more tax and gov’t waste? It’s not black or white like that. Some programs are more efficient than others. Like, investing in infrastructure with P3s, tends to be less wasteful than just throwing money at something. For politicians, it’s all in how you frame it, how your body moves with the camera, knowing what to say and what not to say, with key words…

      The rich already pay enough taxes, no? A lower percentage, but a lot more money, and they make jobs and spend. Is gov’t taxes the best way to create wealth? Through redistribution? No. It’s about being more productive. But at the same time, less money for public schools, for dealing with drugs, and it all comes down to the ER room or the local police to solve everybody’s problems. It’s all connected and it is hard to come to answers and not just quick solutions and demonizations. Economics, education, disabilities, justice, infrastructure, labor rights, social security, small businesses, public health, housing, mental health, technology, veterans, voting rights, military and defense, terrorism, climate change, immigration, environment, women’s rights, foreign policy…

      Fracking is good, it keeps us independent from mideast oil, and can be regulated to be safe.


    • Solaris November 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm #


      This is what we now know. Donald Trump is the first candidate for president who seems to have little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy and presents himself as a future strongman. This begins with his character — if that word could possibly be ascribed to his disturbed, unstable, and uncontrollable psyche. He has revealed himself incapable of treating other people as anything but instruments to his will. He seems to have no close friends, because he can tolerate no equals. He never appears to laugh, because that would cede a recognition to another’s fleeting power over him. He treats his wives and his children as mere extensions of his power, and those who have resisted the patriarch have been exiled, humiliated, or bought off.

      His relationship to men — from his school days to the primary campaign — is rooted entirely in dominance and mastery, through bullying, intimidation, and, if necessary, humiliation. His relationship to women is entirely a function of his relationship to men: Women are solely a means to demonstrate his superiority in the alpha-male struggle. Women are to be pursued, captured, used, assaulted, or merely displayed to other men as an indication of his superiority. His response to any difficult relationship is to end it, usually by firing or humiliating or ruining someone. His core, motivating idea is the punishment or mockery of the weak and reverence for the strong. He cannot apologize or accept responsibility for failure. He has long treated the truth as entirely instrumental to his momentary personal interests. Setbacks of any kind can only be assuaged by vindictive, manic revenge.

      He has no concept of a non-zero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace. (This is one reason why he cannot understand the entire idea of free trade or, indeed, NATO, or the separation of powers.) In any conflict, he cannot ever back down; he must continue to up the ante until the danger to everyone around him is so great as to demand their surrender. From his feckless business deals and billion-dollar debts to his utter indifference to the damage he has done to those institutions unfortunate enough to engage him, he has shown no concern for the interests of other human beings. Just ask the countless people he has casually fired, or the political party he has effectively destroyed. He has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible — because such norms were designed precisely to guard against the kind of tyrannical impulses and pathological narcissism he personifies.

      Anyone paying attention knew this before he conquered the Republican Party. Look at what has happened since then. He sees the judicial system as entirely subordinate to his political and personal interests, and impugned a federal judge for his ethnicity. He has accused the Justice Department and FBI of a criminal conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton. He has refused to accept in advance the results of any election in which he loses. He has openly argued for government persecution of newspapers that oppose him — pledging to open up antitrust prosecution against the Washington Post, for example. He is the first candidate in American history to subject the press pool to mob hatred — “disgusting, disgusting people” — and anti-Semitic poison from his foulest supporters. He is the first candidate in American history to pledge to imprison his election opponent if he wins power. He has mused about using nuclear weapons in regional wars. He has celebrated police powers that openly deploy racial profiling. His favorite foreign leader is a man who murders journalists, commits war crimes, uses xenophobia and warfare to cement his political standing, and believes in the dismemberment of both NATO and the European Union. Nor has he rejected any of his most odious promises during the primary — from torturing prisoners “even if it doesn’t work” to murdering the innocent family members of terror suspects to rounding up several million noncitizens to declaring war on an entire religion, proposing to create a database to monitor its adherents and bar most from entering the country.

      We are told we cannot use the term fascist to describe this. I’m at a loss to find a more accurate alternative.

      The Establishments of both right and left have had many opportunities to stop him and have failed by spectacular displays of cowardice, narrow self-interest, and bewilderment. The right has been spectacularly craven. Trump has no loyalty to the party apparatus that has elevated him to a possible victory next Tuesday — declaring war on the Speaker of the House, attacking the RNC whenever it fails to toady to him, denigrating every single rival Republican candidate, even treating his own vice-presidential nominee as someone he can openly and contemptuously contradict with impunity. And yet that party, like the conservative parties in Weimar Germany, has never seen fit to anathematize him, only seeking to exploit his followers in the vain and foolish delusion that they can control him in the future in ways they have not been able to in the past.

      The Republican media complex have enabled and promoted his lies and conspiracy theories and, above all, his hysteria. From the poisonous propaganda of most of Fox News to the internet madness of the alt-right, they have all made a fortune this past decade by describing the world as a hellhole of chaos and disorder and crime for which the only possible solution is a third-world strongman. The Republicans in Washington complemented this picture of crisis by a policy of calculated obstruction to every single measure a Democratic president has attempted, rendering the Congress so gridlocked that it has been incapable of even passing a budget without constitutional crisis, filling a vacant Supreme Court seat, or reforming a health-care policy in pragmatic fashion. They have risked the nation’s very credit rating to vent their rage. They have helped reduce the public support of the central democratic institution in American government, the Congress, to a consistently basement level never seen before — another disturbing analogy to the discredited democratic parliaments of the 1930s. The Republicans have thereby become a force bent less on governing than on destroying the very institutions that make democracy and the rule of law possible. They have not been conservative in any sane meaning of that term for many, many years. They are nihilist revolutionaries of the far right in search of a galvanizing revolutionary leader. And they have now found their man.

      For their part, the feckless Democrats decided to nominate one of the most mediocre, compromised, and Establishment figures one can imagine in a deeply restless moment of anxiety and discontent. They knew full well that Hillary Clinton is incapable of inspiring, of providing reassurance, or of persuading anyone who isn’t already in her corner, and that her self-regard and privilege and money-grubbing have led her into the petty scandals that have been exploited by the tyrant’s massive lies. The staggering decision by FBI director James Comey to violate established protocol and throw the election into chaos to preserve his credibility with the far right has ripped open her greatest vulnerability — her caginess and deviousness — while also epitomizing the endgame of the chaos that the GOP has sought to exploit. Comey made the final days of the election about her. And if this election is a referendum on Clinton, she loses.

      Yes, she has shrewdly deployed fear against fear — but she is running against the master of fear. The Democrats, with the exception of Obama, have long been unable to marshal emotion as a political weapon, advancing a bloodless rationalism that has never been a match for the tribal national passions of the right. Clinton’s rallies have been pale copies of the bloodthirsty mobs Trump has marshaled and whipped into ever-higher states of frenzy. In every debate, she won on points, but I fear she failed to offer a compelling, simple, and positive reason for her candidacy. Only a party utterly divorced from half the country it seeks to represent could have made such a drastic error of hubris and complacency.

      Some — including many who will be voting for Trump — will argue that even if the unstable, sleepless, vindictive tyrant wins on Tuesday, he will be restrained by the system when he seizes power. Let’s game this out for a moment. Over the last year, which forces in the GOP have been able to stand up to him? Even his closest aides have been unable to get him to concentrate before a debate. He set up a policy advisory apparatus and then completely ignored it until it was disbanded. His foreign-policy advisers can scarcely be found. He says he knows more than any general, any diplomat, and anyone with actual experience in government. He has declared his chief adviser to be himself. Even the criminal Richard Nixon was eventually restrained and dispatched by a Republican Establishment that still knew how to run the country and had a loyalty to broader American institutions. Such an Establishment no longer exists.

      More to the point, if Trump wins, he will almost certainly bring with him the House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. A President Clinton will be checked and balanced. A President Trump will be pushing through wide-open doors. Who can temper or stop him then? A Speaker who reveals the slightest inclination to resist him will be swiftly dispatched — or subjected to a very credible threat of being primaried. If the military top brass resist his belief in unpredictable or unethical or unlawful warfare, they will surely be fired. As for the administration of justice, he has openly declared his intent to use the power of the government to put his political opponent in jail. As for a free society, he has threatened to do what he can to put his media opponents into receivership.

      What is so striking is that this requires no interpretation, no reading of the tea leaves. Trump has told Americans all of this — again and again — in plain English. His own temperamental instability has been displayed daily and in gory detail. From time to time, you can see his poll ratings plummet as revelations that would permanently sink any other candidate have dented his appeal. And then he resiliently and unstoppably moves back up. His bond with his supporters is absolute, total, and personal. It was months ago that he boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still be with him. And he was right. This is not a mark of a democratic leader; it is a mark of an authoritarian cult.

      It is also, critically, a function of his platform. Fascism has never been on the ballot in America before. No candidate this close to power has signaled more clearly than Trump that he is a white-nationalist candidate determined to fight back against the browning of America. As mass immigration has changed the demographic identity of the soon-to-be majority-minority country with remarkable speed, and as those made uncomfortable by such drastic change have been dismissed as mere bigots and racists, Trump offers an electrifying hope of revenge and revanchism. The fire he has lit will not be easily doused. If his policies lead to an economic downswing, he will find others to blame and conspiracies to flush out. If there is Republican resistance to his pledges to roll back free trade, he will call on his base to pressure the leadership to surrender. And if one of his first moves is to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, we will be hurtling rather quickly to a military confrontation, as Iran rushes to build a nuke before Trump can launch military attacks to thwart them. That rush to war would empower him still further.

      Yes, he is an incompetent, a dilettante, a man who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Many of his moves will probably lead to a nose-dive in support. But Trump cannot admit error and will need to deny it or scapegoat others or divert public attention. Those diversions could well be deeply destabilizing — and galvanized by events. There will doubtless be another incident between police and an unarmed black man under a Trump presidency. Rather than calm the nation, Trump will inflame it. There will be an Islamist terror attack of some kind — and possibly a wave of such attacks in response to his very election. Trump will exploit it with the subtlety of a Giuliani and the brutality of a Putin.

      I have long had faith that some version of fascism cannot come to power in America. The events of the past year suggest deep reflection on that conviction. A political hurricane has arrived, as globalization has eroded the economic power of the white working classes, as the cultural left has overplayed its hand on social and racial issues, and as a catastrophic war and a financial crisis has robbed the elites of their credibility. As always in history, you still needed the spark, the unique actor who could deploy demagogic talent to drag an advanced country into violence and barbarism. In Trump, America found one for the ages.

      Maybe the worst won’t happen on Tuesday. Maybe this catastrophist possible reading of our times is massively overblown. Maybe this short essay will be ridiculed in the future, as either Clinton wins and prevails in power, or if Trump turns out to be a far different president than he has been as a candidate. I sure hope so. But the fact that we may barely avoid a very deep crisis does not mitigate my anxiety. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we live in a republic, if we can keep it. And yet, more than two centuries later, we are openly contemplating throwing it up in the air and seeing where it might land.

      Do what you can.


    • Solaris November 5, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

      Only in the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving and elect a President who will kick out refugees, and then we go shopping the next day because we aren’t thankful for what we already have.


      On Nov. 8, Americans may elect our first female president. While many of us are exhilarated at the idea of this feminist victory, the toll we’ve paid for coming so close to that historic barrier has been the most graphically sexist election in living memory.

      What this campaign has shown us is that while feminism has transformed American culture, our politics and the lives of women, men haven’t evolved nearly as rapidly. Women changed. Too many men didn’t. What happens next?

      For all of American history, white men have been both the dominant group and the default one: It was mostly white men in charge, and it was white male experiences and norms against which all others found themselves contrasted and defined. When Hillary Clinton started at Yale Law School in 1969, there was only one woman in the United States Senate. It was legal for a man to rape his wife, but abortion was mostly outlawed. Mrs. Clinton graduated as one of just 27 women in a class of 235, after being explicitly told that if accepted into law school, she would take the rightful place of a man.

      Decades-long movements for women’s rights have challenged that system, breaking down the legal and social barriers that blocked women from the work force, questioning the cultural rules that so often kept women silent, and giving women more control over their bodies and, by extension, their futures. The same year Mrs. Clinton graduated from Yale, the Supreme Court held that American women had a legal right to abortion; that, coupled with expanded access to contraception, meant that women flooded into colleges and workplaces.

      For women, feminism is both remarkably successful and a work in progress: We are in the work force in record numbers, but rarely ascend to the highest ranks. Sexual violence is taken more seriously than ever, but women still experience it, usually from men they know, at astounding rates. Women are more visible in public life and create more of the media and art Americans consume, but we still make up just 19 percent of Congress and 33 percent of speaking roles in the 100 top-grossing films.

      Still, young women are soaring, in large part because we are coming of age in a kind of feminist sweet spot: still exhibiting many traditional feminine behaviors — being polite, cultivating meaningful connections, listening and communicating effectively — and finding that those same qualities work to our benefit in the classroom and workplace, opening up more opportunities for us to excel. And while we do find ourselves walking the tightrope between being perceived as a nice bimbo or a competent bitch, there are more ways to be a woman than ever before. It’s no longer unusual to meet a female lawyer or engineer. No one bats an eye if we cut our hair short, wear pants, pay with a credit card in our own name, win on the soccer field, or buy our own home.

      Men haven’t gained nearly as much flexibility. The world has changed around them, but many have stayed stuck in the past. While women have steadily made their way into traditionally male domains, men have not crossed the other way. Men do more at home than they used to, but women still do much more — on an average day, 67 percent of men do some housework compared with 85 percent of women. Male identity remains tied up in dominance and earning potential, and when those things flag, it seems men either give up or get angry.

      This, perhaps more than anything else, explains the rise of Donald J. Trump: He promised struggling white men that they could have their identities back.

      There is also the simple fact that Mr. Trump is running against a woman, after eight years of our first black president. For many of the men used to seeing their own faces reflected in the halls of power, this trend away from white male authority has simply become intolerable. Today, racial animus is particularly pronounced among Trump supporters.

      Mr. Trump offers dislocated white men convenient scapegoats — Mexicans, Muslims, trade policies, political correctness — and promises to return those men to their rightful place in society. With his string of model or actress wives, his beautiful pageant girls on competitive parade and his vulgar displays of wealth, Mr. Trump embodies a fantasy of masculine power reclaimed. Mrs. Clinton, an unapologetically ambitious woman running to take the place of a trailblazing, successful black man, symbolizes all the ways in which America has moved on — and in her promises to help alienated men catch up is the implicit expectation that they, too, must change.

      It’s tempting to write off people who refuse to evolve, especially if their candidate loses the election. But the ugliness of the Trump campaign is evidence of how white men existing in their own shrinking universe can be a real threat. For women, greater educational achievements, a lifetime in the work force and delayed marriage and childbearing mean our lives are more expansive and outward-looking than ever before. Working-class white men, though, have seen many of their connections to society severed — unions decimated, jobs lost, families split apart or never formed at all — decreasing their social status and leaving them increasingly isolated. That many white men are struggling surely contributes to Mr. Trump’s popularity, but the driving force of this election is not money — the median household income of Trump primary voters was about $72,000 a year, $16,000 more than the national median household income. It’s power, and fury at watching it wane.

      White men have always seen the world differently than women and minorities, but the norms and views of white male America are now being cast as marginal and, sometimes, delusional. This is a stunning shift.

      The differences in how men and women interpret the same information is evident in responses to Mr. Trump. As of early October, more than half of men believed that Mr. Trump respected women either “some” or “a lot.” That poll was conducted after the Republican nominee was on record calling women pigs and dogs, commenting about his own daughter’s sex appeal, and labeling a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, “Miss Eating Machine.” At the same time, nearly two-thirds of women said that Mr. Trump didn’t respect them. While more men now agree that Mr. Trump doesn’t respect women after the vulgar “Access Hollywood” tape came to light, more than four in 10 continue to say that Mr. Trump respects us. Which really makes you wonder what these men think respecting women looks like.

      The men feminism left behind pose a threat to the country as a whole. They are armed with their own facts and heaps of resentment, and one electoral loss, even a big one, will not mean widespread defeat. Other Republican candidates are no doubt observing Mr. Trump’s rabid fan base and seeing a winning strategy for smaller races in certain conservative, homogeneous locales.

      In the last weeks of this ugly campaign, Mr. Trump has continued to talk about a rigged election and hint that he may not accept the results if he loses on Tuesday. While he is emboldening his followers to rage in the face of an electoral loss, Mrs. Clinton and her fellow Democrats are working to expand the ranks of women in elected office, giving the face of American power an even more extreme (and feminine) makeover. Democrats have been far better than Republicans at running diverse candidates, and if those candidates do well, the Senate could be almost a quarter female — a record high. Half of the candidates in the most competitive races to flip congressional seats from red to blue are women. Mrs. Clinton herself has reasserted her feminist identity, sometimes covertly: At both the Democratic National Convention and the final debate, she wore a crisp white suit, a sartorial homage to the white-clad suffragists whose victories are recent enough that a small number of women who were born before women could legally cast a ballot will be voting for Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday.

      It’s impossible to say whether a female president would help normalize female power and heal some of the rifts made visible by this election, or if she would so enrage many men that these gaps will only cleave wider. What is clear now is that this is the great unfinished business of the feminist project, a long-fermenting suspicion brought into bright light by this election: Expanding roles and opportunities for women cannot usher in full gender equality unless men change.

      Men don’t need more masculine posturing or promises to restore them to forever-gone greatness. What they need is to make their own move toward gender equality, to break down the stereotypes and fetters of masculinity. Feminists, understandably, have focused on women; we have enough to do without being tasked with improving the lot of often-misogynistic men, too. If the white men who feel ignored, disrespected and lost want to see their lives improve, they should take a cue from the great feminist strides women have made and start to embrace that progress. Life really is better with more fluid gender roles that allow individuals to do what they’re good at instead of what’s socially prescribed. Every feminist I know will tell you that men bring much more to the table than physical strength or a paycheck, and that we would love a world in which men were free to be resilient and tender, ambitious and nurturing, expressive and emotional.

      Donald Trump may not agree. But women make up half the country, and since we aren’t going back in time, the same men who have long been hostile to feminism should consider coming along with us. I suspect for a lot of men, a more equal America — one with fewer cultural rules about how a man should be, and more avenues to identity and respect — would be a pretty great America to live in.


      • Rapido December 8, 2016 at 11:16 am #

        Harry Reid: Farewell, Fair Senate
        By HARRY REID
        DEC. 8, 2016

        Washington — In my time in the Senate, I’ve served with 281 senators. I’ve rarely given advice unless asked. But since I am leaving the Senate floor for the final time, I have a few things to say.

        To Republicans, I say recognize the difference between campaigning and governing, and beware of knee-jerk opposition to the accomplishments of the Obama era.

        Despite the fact that your nominee lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, your leaders have announced their intention to repeal the Affordable Care Act early in the next Congress, with no replacement. This is a dramatic misreading of your mandate. It will lead you into a quagmire that will cause pain for millions of Americans and bedevil you for the next four years.

        Repealing Obamacare will take health insurance away from millions of Americans — as many as 30 million, by one recent estimate. It will raise premiums and throw health insurance markets into disarray. Public support for repeal is low, and support for repeal without a replacement is in the basement.

        If you continue down this path, you will be letting your reflexive opposition to President Obama’s legacy cloud your judgment. I was in the Senate when President George W. Bush misread his mandate and sought to privatize Social Security. His administration never recovered.

        To Democrats, I say it has never been more important to stand up for the things we believe in. We are entering a new Gilded Age. Next year, a billionaire president who just settled a fraud suit for $25 million over his business exploits will be pushing tax cuts for the top 1 percent, supposedly in the name of populism.

        Much of the responsibility for separating what is real and what is fake will fall on Democrats. We should ask ourselves: Do the choices we make about how we spend our time keep us in touch with what we believe in, and what is real in our own lives?

        For me, one of those choices has been to spend as much time as possible with the people who know me and know where I came from: a town called Searchlight. In the more than three decades I’ve been in Washington, there have by my count been 136 various press correspondents’ dinners. I’ve been to one. And I might hold the record for spending as little time at fund-raisers as possible; I am usually in and out of the door in 10 minutes or less.

        One thing we fought for that’s worth defending is a fairer, more open and more productive Senate. We changed the Senate rules to guarantee a president’s nominees a fair, simple-majority vote, and declared that a president’s nominees should not be stymied with procedural hurdles and a requirement for supermajority votes. (Supreme Court nominations still have this requirement.)

        We declared that the changes should apply regardless of which party was in the White House, because fair votes are what democracy is all about. I doubt any of us envisioned Donald J. Trump’s becoming the first president to take office under the new rules. But what was fair for President Obama is fair for President Trump.

        Moreover, the rule change has been a victory for those who want to see a functioning, open and transparent Senate. It allowed Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees to receive the fair consideration they deserved. Without the rule change, Republicans would have been able to hold open three seats on our nation’s second highest court, the District of Columbia Circuit Court, until the next Republican administration. The judges we confirmed to those seats will loom large in the years to come. In 2014 alone, the Senate confirmed 89 Circuit and District Court judges, more than for any year in two decades.

        The rule change was consistent with the history of the Senate, which has continually evolved when faced with new challenges. Historically, the only way to reject nominees to cabinet posts, which are not lifetime appointments, has been by a simple-majority vote. Moreover, the supermajority threshold for bills and nominations is not in the Constitution, nor was it in the original Senate rules.

        From George Washington to George W. Bush, only 68 of presidential nominees had been filibustered. Senate Republicans took obstruction to a new level, filibustering 79 of Mr. Obama’s nominees in just four years. By removing such procedural ploys, the rule change puts the debate over nominees out in the open. Senators have to answer a simple question: Should a nominee be confirmed, or not? Nominees are now guaranteed a floor vote.

        With Republicans holding a slim majority, Democrats have a fighting chance at winning every debate. To be sure, persuading a majority of the Senate to your side is harder than blocking a confirmation on a procedural vote. But it is also fairer.

        When Democrats pick their fights next year, they can do so knowing that, win or lose, they will be debating in a Senate that we made fairer, more open and more transparent. If Democrats stand for what they believe in, they will find that trusting the courage of their convictions while out of power will empower them to accomplish great things when the pendulum swings back, as it always does.

        Basically… the rich, in their private jets, can keep getting more money, taking from the poor, making it harder to get up the ladder! No education, infrastructure…. cuts to health care… woohoo!!


      • Rapido December 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

        Also, Apartheid was legal. The Holocaust was legal. Slavery was legal. Colonialism was legal.

        We thought Hillary was corrupt because of her e-mails and foundation… Trump is still keeping a stake in his business. He wants you to think he cares about the working class? Not at all, he is a billionaire working for himself! Gutting labor laws, health care, unions, environmental rules… Trump is a sick man-child, no respect for law, democracy, other people…

        Here are some good articles…







        We need to be building trust, filling the void – yes!

        We need real solutions, not just blame. Republicans blame Mexicans and Muslims. Democrats blame the wealthy and Wall Street.

        We are in this together, we should not tear down success, but build up opportunity. Allow that passion, pioneering spirit to grow, with integrity, inclusivity, teamwork, responsibility, fairness… Trump, won with Russian hacking, lost popular vote… disgusting. Being compromised by Russians, all anti-PC but hates media and people being mean to him… Whacko.

        This is the Same guy who demanded to see Barrack Obama’s birth certificate! He would of released his tax record and his medical records if he didn’t have anything to hide! The double standards are mind boggling!!!SMDH!
        “It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type – the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist – that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States… I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”
        -Philip Roth

        He shuts down free speech, no refugees, no environment rights, no abortion health care, spending only on military and oil helping his billionaire buddies. He is a child, full of fear, an evil man, a dictator, no respect…


        On Twitter, Mr. Trump deplored the killings of Christians in the Middle East without noting the killings of Muslims.


  21. Jupiter October 25, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    China is the best at building planned villages now for resettling people…


    But can they actually create an economy? Or is it too far removed from reality?

    Meanwhile, we’ve got self-driving trucks now… More and more jobs will be disappearing, computers will decide for us…



  22. Gringo October 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm #


    Urban planning impacts all kinds of factors. Energy, poverty, housing, suburbanization, slums, mixed-income areas, equity, transit, health, community, environment, agriculture, climate change, employment, education, social capital, inequality, segregation, growth, immigration, ethnic tensions, nation building, foreign policy, global cities, real estate, democracy, conflict, war… Design is at the center of it.

    Space, space, space. Density, density, density.

    Microapartments, the answer?

    More unions?



  23. Joell October 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    Orthodox Jews don’t work as much, it’s true. Torah study. Thus Boro Park in Brooklyn has fewer commuters, especially fewer to Manhattan. The D train is less crowded as a result.



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