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The thing I do best” – Donald Trump was talking about his infrastructure plan – “in life is build.”

That speech was a homerun. They loved it… people loved it” – Trump was describing his speech at the CIA.  

He’d make “millions of people” happy, Trump said, with his plan to replace Obamacare.

And he said millions more people watched his inauguration than Obama’s.

He’s been the legendary perpetual motion machine going in a dozen directions at once but he can’t escape one common thread: I hit a home run…What I do best…Millions more people watched me.

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Sitting in front of a green marble fireplace, interviewing Trump, Bill O’Reilly asked about Putin and Trump said, “It’s better to get along with Russia than not,” and O’Reilly said, “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

Trump paused. Pursed his lips, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers in America.

Well, take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning…”

Mistakes are different than…” O’Reilly interrupted.

A lot of mistakes, okay. But people were killed. So, a lot of killers around. Believe me.”

It’s an interesting way to see the world: When you look at it that way, you could choose the devil himself as an ally and justify it.

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Donald Trump and congressional Republicans made a big promise in 2016. They would repeal Obamacare. Immediately. Totally. End of discussion.

Now, maybe not so much.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say the operative word is no longer “repeal.” It’s “repair.”

Still, they say, they’ll do it right away.

But then Trump says, maybe not so fast. Let’s take a year or so to do it right.

He promises it will be something great. “Insurance for all.” Cheaper and better than Obamacare.

We can’t wait to see it.

Meanwhile, Republican congressmen find themselves under siege at town halls. Angry constituents want to know what this means for their insurance. So the honorables called for extra security. Or ducked the voters altogether.

Republicans are facing the same problem Democrats did for eight years. Nobody knows what Obamacare is or does. Many don’t know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are one and the same.

Democrats couldn’t explain what they did for people. Now Republicans can’t explain what they’ll do to people.

Let the Republicans stew. The Democratic message will be simple: Whatever you don’t like about your insurance or your health care, blame RepubliCare.

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Sunday morning Nancy Pelosi sat down across from Chuck Todd and, wanly going through the motions on the Meet the Press, criticized Trump’s “Unconstitutional, immoral ban on Muslims” and said “I want to know what the Russians have on Trump.”

It was the same-old same-old.

Todd then played Pelosi a video of Elizabeth Warren talking about the election and asked: ‘Do you think she’s right – that Democrats have lost touch? That Democrats need new leaders?’

Pelosi pursed her lips and looked back at Todd, eyes tired. There’s plenty of room for new leaders. I was once a new leader myself.

(And she was – when Reagan was President.)

It was like watching history repeat itself. Like watching Pelosi debating Trump rather than Hillary. People looked at Trump, then looked at Pelosi, and thought, He’s flawed but she’s worse.

And that’s the same-old same-old too.

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We all get tired of talking about politics. So let’s talk about dogs. Specifically, walking with dogs.

Thanks to the mysterious workings of Facebook, something written 18 months ago popped up on my feed. And touched a chord.

It was an August 2015 column by the N&O’s John Drescher, “Walking in all seasons with the best dog ever,” a heartfelt tribute to a departed Golden Retriever named Holly who, John wrote, “led me every night to my Island of Peace. I’ll still walk every night. But it won’t be the same.”

My walking companion is a seven-year-old rescue named Ringo. He’s a “Lab mix,” with the emphasis on “mix.”

He is, verily, a creature of habit. Every evening at 5 pm, he expects dinner in the dish. Then a greenie to clean his teeth. Then straight to me with a mission, as John wrote: “Walk. We must walk.”

I get the leash and we’re out the door. Up to Ridge Road, then left or right or straight across depending on whatever internal GPS guides dogs.

I get no exercise benefit at all. For we must stop every 10-20 feet to sniff. Ringo, like most dogs, is essentially a nose on four legs.

The benefit comes when I surrender my human nature to his animal wisdom. Ringo doesn’t walk to get anywhere or do anything special. He just walks. To see, to smell, to be outside. To meet people; he’s sure they all want to meet him. And, best of all, to meet dogs. His friends Cooper, George, Sadie, Maybelle, even the tiny and dreaded Olivia. Or to meet new friends and engage in mutual butt-sniffing.

As I blogged before (“Dog Zen”), Ringo is my mindfulness teacher. He isn’t thinking about work or money or chores or problems or plans or the past. No, he is outside. He is walking. He is happy in the moment.

As John wrote, any decent theologian or philosopher will tell you that walking outdoors is balm for the soul. But only a dog owner can tell you how inner peace awaits at the end of a leash.

Somebody should get Trump a dog. It’d be good for him, the country – and the dog.


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Last week a friend sent the column (below) from the Irish Independent in Dublin by Ian O’Doherty.

The Best of the Best–by a Poetic Irishman

Tuesday November 8, 2016 – a day that will live in infamy, or the moment when America was made great again?

The truth, as ever, will lie somewhere in the middle. After all, contrary to what both his supporters and detractors believe – and this is probably the only thing they agree on – Trump won’t be able to come into office and spend his first 100 days gleefully ripping up all the bits of the Constitution he doesn’t like.

But even if this week’s seismic shockwave doesn’t signal either the sky falling in or the start of a bright new American era, the result was, to use one of The Donald’s favourite phrases, huge. It is, in fact, a total game changer.

In decades to come, historians will still bicker about the most poisonous, toxic and stupid election in living memory.

They will also be bickering over the same vexed question – how did a man who was already unpopular with the public and who boasted precisely zero political experience beat a seasoned Washington insider who was married to one extremely popular president and who had worked closely with another?

The answer, ultimately, is in the question.

History will record this as a Trump victory, which of course it is. But it was also more than that, because this was the most stunning self-inflicted defeat in the history of Western democracy.

Hillary Clinton has damned her party to irrelevance for at least the next four years. She has also ensured that Obama’s legacy will now be a footnote rather than a chapter. Because the Affordable Care Act is now doomed under a Trump presidency and that was always meant to be his gift, of sorts, to America.

How did a candidate who had virtually all of the media, all of Hollywood, every celebrity you could think of, a couple of former presidents and apparently, the hopes of an entire gender resting on her shoulders, blow up her own campaign?

I rather suspect that neither Donald nor Hillary know how they got to this point.

Where she seemed to expect the position to become available to her by right – the phrase “she deserves it” was used early in the campaign and then quickly dropped when her team remembered that Americans don’t like inherited power – his first steps into the campaign were those of someone chancing their arm. If he wasn’t such a staunch teetotaller, many observers would have accused him of only doing it as a drunken bet.

But the more the campaign wore on, something truly astonishing began to happen – the people began to speak. And they began to speak in a voice which, for the first time in years in the American heartland, would not be ignored.

Few of the people who voted for Trump seriously believe that he is going to personally improve their fortunes. Contrary to the smug, middle-class media narrative, they aren’t all barely educated idiots.

They know what he is, of course they do. It’s what he is not that appeals to them.

Clinton, on the other hand, had come to represent the apex of smug privilege. Whether it was boasting about her desire to shut down the remaining coal industry in Virginia – that worked out well for her, in the end – or calling half the electorate a “basket of deplorables”, she seemed to operate in the perfumed air of the elite, more obsessed with coddling idiots and pandering to identity and feelings than improving the hardscrabble life that is the lot of millions of Americans.

Also, nobody who voted for Trump did so because they wanted him as a spiritual guru or life coach.

But plenty of people invested an irrational amount of emotional energy into a woman who was patently undeserving of that level of adoration.

That’s why we’ve witnessed such fury from her supporters – they had wrapped themselves so tightly in the Hillary flag that a rejection of her felt like a rejection of them. And when you consider that many American colleges gave their students Wednesday off class because they were too ‘upset’ to study, you can see that this wasn’t a battle for the White House – this became a genuine battle for America’s future direction. And, indeed, for the West.
We have been going through a cultural paroxysm for the last 10 years – the rise of identity politics has created a Balkanized society where the content of someone’s mind is less important than their skin colour, gender, sexuality or whatever other attention-seeking label they wish to bestow upon themselves.

In fact, where once it looked like racism and sexism might be becoming archaic remnants of a darker time, a whole new generation has popped up which wants to re-litigate all those arguments all over again.

In fact, while many of us are too young to recall the Vietnam war and the social upheaval of the 1960s, plenty of observers who were say they haven’t seen an America more at war with itself than it is today.

One perfect example of this new America has been the renewed calls for segregation on campuses. Even a few years ago, such a move would have been greeted with understandable horror by civil rights activists – but this time it’s the black students demanding segregation and “safe spaces” from whites. If young people calling for racial segregation from each other isn’t the sign of a very, very sick society, nothing is.

The irony of Clinton calling Trump and his followers racist while she was courting Black Lives Matter was telling.

After all, no rational white person would defend the KKK, yet here was a white women defending both BLM and the New Black Panthers – explicitly racist organizations with the NBP, in particularly, openly espousing a race war if they don’t get what they want.

Fundamentally, Trump was attractive because he represents a repudiation of the nonsense that has been slowly strangling the West.

He represents – rightly or wrongly, and the dust has still to settle – a scorn and contempt for these new rules. He won’t be a president worried about micro aggressions, or listening to the views of patently insane people just because they come from a fashionably protected group.

He also represents a glorious two fingers to everyone who has become sick of being called a racist or a bigot or a homophobe – particularly by Hillary supporters who are too dense to realize that she has always actually been more conservative on social issues than Trump.

That it might take a madman to restore some sanity to America is, I suppose, a quirk that is typical to that great nation – land of the free and home to more contradictions than anyone can imagine.

Trump’s victory also signals just how out of step the media has been with the people. Not just American media, either.

In fact, the Irish media has continued its desperate drive to make a show of itself with a seemingly endless parade of emotionally incontinent gibberish that, ironically, has increased in ferocity and hysterical spite in the last few days.

The fact that Hillary’s main cheerleaders in the Irish and UK media still haven’t realized where they went wrong is instructive and amusing in equal measure. They still don’t seem to understand that by constantly insulting his supporters, they’re just making asses of themselves.

One female contributor to this newspaper said Trump’s victory was a “sad day for women”. Well, not for the women who voted for him, it wasn’t.

But that really is the nub of the matter – the ‘wrong’ kind of women obviously voted for Trump. The ‘right’ kind went with Hillary. And lost.

The Irish media is not alone in being filled largely with dinner-party liberals who have never had an original or socially awkward thought in their lives. They simply assume that everyone lives in the same bubble and thinks the same thoughts – and if they don’t, they should.

Of the many things that have changed with Trump’s victory, the bubble has burst. Never in American history have the polls, the media and the chin-stroking moral arbiters of the liberal agenda been so spectacularly, wonderfully wrong.

It was exactly that condescending, obnoxious sneer towards the working class that brought them out in such numbers, and that is the great irony of Election 16 – the Left spent years creating identity politics to the extent that the only group left without protection or a celebrity sponsor was the white American male.

That it was the white American male who swung it for Trump is a timely reminder that while black lives matter, all votes count – even the ones of people you despise.

You don’t have to be a supporter of Trump to take great delight in the sheer, apoplectic rage that has greeted his victory.

If Clinton had won and Trump supporters had gone on a rampage through a dozen American cities the next night, there would have been outrage – and rightly so.

But in a morally and linguistically inverted society, the wrong-doers are portrayed as the victims. We saw that at numerous Trump rallies – protesters would disrupt the event, claiming their right to free speech (a heckler’s veto is not free speech) and provoking people until they got a dig before running to the media and claiming victimhood.

But, ultimately, this election was about people saying enough with the bullshit. This is a country in crisis, and most Americans don’t care about transgender bathrooms, or safe spaces, or government speech laws. This was about people taking some control back for themselves.

It was about them saying that they won’t be hectored and bullied by the toddler tantrums thrown by pissy and spoiled millennials and they certainly won’t put up with being told they’re stupid and wicked just because they have a difference of opinion.

But, really, this election is about hope for a better America; an America which isn’t obsessed with identity and perceived ‘privilege’; an American where being a victim isn’t a virtue and where you don’t have to apologize for not being up to date with the latest list of socially acceptable phrases.

Trump’s victory was a two fingers to the politically correct.

It was a brutal rejection of the nonsense narrative which says Muslims who kill Americans are somehow victims. It took the ludicrous Green agenda and threw it out. It was a return, on some level, to a time when people weren’t afraid to speak their own mind without some self-elected language cop shouting at you.. Who knows, we may even see Trump kicking the UN out of New York.

Frankly, if you’re one of those who gets their politics from Jon Stewart and Twitter, look away for the next four years, because you’re not going to like what you see. The rest of us, however, will be delighted.

This might go terribly, terribly wrong. Nobody knows – and if we have learned anything this week, it’s that nobody knows nuthin’.

But just as the people of the UK took control back with Brexit, the people of America did likewise with their choice for president.

It’s called democracy.

Deal with it.


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An email flies out saying, ‘Demonstration at the airport,’ and a thousand Democratic activists head for the airport – or to a Women’s March, Gay Pride Demonstration, Moral Monday Protest, Earth Day March or Immigration Protest.

So are these protests political steel? Or, like Keg Parties and Beer Blasts, simply an occasion for activists to come together, share a little fellowship, and have a good time?

A protester would argue: The Moral Monday protests elected Roy Cooper. But can anyone recall seeing Roy Cooper at a protest? For two years, Reverend William Barber led protests to defeat Republican legislators and, when he was done, Republicans elected overwhelming majorities to both the State House and Senate.

Demonstrations: Do the activists represent a grassroots tidal wave…that will elect Democrats?

Or are they (unwittingly) building a boomerang?

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Two weeks into Trump’s carnage, Democrats face two questions.

First, can we channel the raging torrent of marches, protests and demonstrations into election victories?

Second, can we come up with a coherent and convincing message?

First, elections. You win with basics: Candidate recruitment, fundraising, voter registration and voter turnout.

It’s great to march, protest and demonstrate. It’s great to spread the good word on social media. But it means nothing if you don’t help good candidates get elected.

You can spend a day, an hour or a few minutes marching and posting. But winning elections takes hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard, sustained, focused, organized effort.

Now let’s talk message. Specifically, about two things that don’t work and one that does.

Doesn’t work: Ranting and raving about what a terrible human being Donald Trump is.

That’s a given. People know it. They took it into account when they elected him. But they elected him anyway. Why? They saw him as an anti-politician, and they hoped he would create jobs and fight terrorists.

Also doesn’t work: Ranting and raving about what terrible human beings his voters are. In politics, going negative on an opponent often works. But going negative on the voters never works. It hardens their hearts and minds. It makes them hate you. And never vote for you.

The focus needs to be what Trump does. How it affects people. And what Democrats would do differently.

The operative word is “do.”

Not “is” or “are.” We tried that. Hillary Clinton ran an “is/are” campaign. “(We Are) Stronger Together.” “Donald Trump is unfit for office.”

She forgot to say what she would DO. She ran on the premise that she’s a better person than Trump (which she is) and that you’d be a better person if you voted for her. She didn’t say clearly how you – and you and you over there and him and her and all of them – would be better off because of what she would DO as President.

Use action verbs. Is and Are aren’t action verbs.

A lot of anti-Trump energy is surging across the land today. A lot of voters will get tired of him and the Republicans fast. They’ll want a change in 2018.

This isn’t complicated. But it isn’t easy. Stop just being mad. Start doing good and working hard.


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He’s been a TV star, a Master Dealmaker, and a mega-tycoon but success failed to make him popular. But, a year ago, after Donald Trump announced he was running for President his unpopularity didn’t matter: Because a curse settled on his opponents.

Trump was elected due to his opponents’ vices not his virtues.

Now, post-election, unabated the howls continue: I heard on NPR last week that ‘Trump’s a racist’ (for being against Muslims) and read in the New York Times that ‘Trump takes hair growth drugs.’ But none of it matters. Trump’s invulnerable. Until the day he faces an opponent who doesn’t bear the curse of unpopularity.

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It’s the lynchpin of his plan: Paul Ryan wants to tax imports a trillion dollars over ten years so he can cut corporate taxes and income taxes an equal amount.

It sounds straightforward. But there is an odd missing piece.

A trillion dollars over ten years is $100 billion a year – and, in years past, Conservative Congressmen would have been roaring, Raise taxes? Why not cut spending 3% instead?  They would have stood up for less government.

But those days are gone.

Today no one says a word.

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Carter & Gary
Carter Wrenn
Gary Pearce
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
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