Drugs

fentanyl, marijuanaOver at Small Dead Animals there is a post on “The New Normal” in Vancouver. Kate didn’t post it but the chap who did seems to want to throw pot shops and fentanyl into the same “end of the world” bucket. I commented:

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I just published a book on Starting and Running a Marijuana Dispensary or Pot Shop (http://amzn.to/2g3Oqn4) I looked hard and could find next to no serious scientific evidence as to the medical efficacy of pot. Even the anecdotal material was pretty useless as it rarely dealt with dosage. Medical pot is, generally, a wedge issue to open the gates of legalization. And it worked.

The dispensary/pot shop movement is very strong in Vancouver and Victoria with the municipal governments on board and the police and Crowns uninterested in prosecuting offences concerning what is still an illegal drug. In other jurisdictions there is more of an appetite for prohibition.

Which way the federal government is going to jump will become clearer when the McClellan Task Force reports. This could be as soon as next week. My bet is that Canada will have legalized and heavily regulated recreational marijuana using a “top down” model and attempting to eliminate the grey market. Not, by the way, because this is good policy; rather because the multi-million dollar, publically listed, legal marijuana growing industry has been lobbying hard to put the competitive dispensaries out of business.

The fentanyl driven overdose epidemic is a whole other story. It is not confined to the meaner streets of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In my little Lake Cowichan community, two people have died in the last few months. Nor is it confined to injectable drugs – apparently fentanyl is turning up in cocaine with fatal and near-fatal consequences.

Fentanyl is dangerous enough, and cheap enough, that it will kill a lot of people in the next few years. Some of those people will be the down and outs of the DTES who, for some reason, people on SDA seem willing to write off as losers who made “bad choices”. It is certainly a position but it is hardly a moral position or a Christian one.

However, unfortunately, the people who are “trying to help” at Insite and the pop-up injection sites, are not willing to face the fact that nothing that they are doing is more than a strategy of postponement. They are unwilling to accept that addiction left untreated will kill eventually. Getting addicts through “a day at a time” is an expensive and almost certainly doomed approach.

There is a tendency to malign “do-gooders” but, unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. The biggest error of the “do gooders” lies in the fact they believe that they should treat addicts as autonomous, adult, agents with all of the rights of functional citizens. The police, social services, the justice system all buy into this view and, frankly, it is not working.

To actually “do good” systems and legal mechanisms and funding have to be put in place to remove these people from the toxic environment in which they live their addiction, place them in involuntary care, treat the addiction and monitor the recovery – often for years at a time. Facing that nasty reality is, apparently, harder than watching addict after addict overdose and, eventually, die.

A serious program of involuntary care is one side of the equation. The other side is to prosecute dealers and suppliers who adulterate the drugs they are selling. Basically, create a new offence of “adulteration” and put in a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence. Have as part of the offence “provision of adulterating substances” with the same sentence. And, just to make the point clear, set this as a “strict liability” offence so that the defence “but I didn’t know it was fentanyl” is unavailable.

The marijuana ship has sailed. It is a colossal waste of time to whine about legalization although how legalization occurs in Canada might be worth paying attention to.

The question of what to do about harder, more deadly, drugs needs serious re-examination. What we are doing now is not working. It is killing people and safe injection sites are a band aid at best.

That’s where my comment ended. The idea that addicts might be subject to compulsory treatment seems, at first and second glance, profoundly anti-libertarian. However, we have very little difficulty in requiring the mentally ill, after appropriate medical certification, to be confined and treated if they are deemed to pose a threat “to themselves or others.” A position we justify because we believe that at a certain level of cognitive impairment, an individual loses agency. They are no longer functionally responsible for themselves.

I think much the same argument can be made about addicts. While there are certainly addicts who are very good at managing their addiction and the rest of their lives, there are also addicts who are simply incapacitated. It is a determination which can and should be made by doctors and tested before a judge before any compulsory order is made. And such an order should be routinely reviewed.

The infrastructure to treat addiction is pretty piecemeal in Canada. There are a few public beds, a few secure facilities (mainly for alcohol issues) and a significant, for profit, sector. To treat addiction seriously would require big commitments at both the federal and provincial levels.

Might be a good idea to earmark the revenue from recreational pot – as much as a couple of billion a year – to getting the addiction rehab initiative underway.

She Skates?

Grrrr….

There is just so much wrong with this: http://nypost.com/2016/11/22/trump-wont-pursue-charges-against-clinton/

First off, it is not Trump’s decision to make. The basic principle is that the Attorney General makes the call as to whether and when to appoint a special prosecutor. That is designed to prevent politics from getting in the way of the operation of law.

Second, sending your ex-campaign manager off to deliver the news is entirely wrong. If you are serious you need to appear serious. Either Sessions or Trump himself should have dropped this particular bomb. Coming from Kerryanne Conway it is not in the least clear what, in fact, was decided. Does this mean there will be no investigation ever? Or is it the current view of the incoming administration subject to revision in the light of new evidence. Does it just include Hilly or does the “stay” include the Clinton Foundation, Huma, Cheryl Mills and so on?

Third, what does it say about the idea of the rule of law? It is all very well to talk about “healing” but not at the expense of having a justice system which operates differently for elite players.

I completely understand the impulse to be gracious in victory and to avoid even the appearance of trying to jail your political opponent. At that level it is a political decision and one which might be defended at a political level. However, at a process level and a legal level, this is exactly the sort of seat of the pants decision making which creates contempt for the Office of the Presidency.

Not smart Trump, not smart at all.

UPDATE: 

“I’m not looking to go back through this,” he explained to reporters at the New York Timesoffices on Tuesday.

When asked if he was taking prosecution off of the table, Trump said “no,” but he appeared eager to move on.

“My inclination would be for whatever power I have on the matter is to say let’s go forward,” he said. “This has been looked at for so long, ad nauseum.“

Trump argued against prosecuting the Clintons, suggesting that it would be better for the country and his administration if they moved on.

“I think it would be very, very divisive for the country,” he said. breitbart

That leaves the door open but it is still a lousy way to deal with a question of law. Nice as it is for Trump to have an “inclination” the correct way to proceed is to leave the door wide open until Sessions is confirmed by the Senate and has conduct of the file(s).

Part of the reason for electing Trump was to restore some semblance of the rule of law and respect for process. Short cutting that process is not helping.

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racist/homophobic/islamophobic/fascist/nazi poopy pants

Trump, Hitler, Dr. DawgHoward Dean is a proven idiot but he eliminated any doubt on Evan Solomon’s show by announcing, “He appoints a reasonable person, who’s much more conservative than I am, but someone you can talk to, as his Chief of Staff — and then the senior adviser’s a Nazi,” link

Keith Olbermann has examined the evidence and arrived at the conclusion Trump’s campaign manager, Kerryanne Conway is a fascist. link

My pal Dr. Dawg is happy to announce today that “Donald Trump, [who] is busy at the moment staffing the White House with fascists.” link Dawg goes on to talk about how he “prefer(s) to focus on Trump and his Fourth Reich supporters” in the comments. (link)

I get that these poor people are beside themselves with anti-Trump hysteria. But to go direct to “Nazi” or “fascist” or misogynist or racist suggests a degree of intellectual laziness which does not bode well for the left’s capacity to rebound from the shock of the Trump victory.

It also suggests that the left is under the illusion that these epithets still have much power. Even ten years ago calling someone a racist was a really powerful slur. It signified because it was a word which actually meant something. Now, people are called racist for saying that “all lives matter” or that open borders have real costs. Apparently, you can be labelled an anti-Semite because someone you don’t know and certainly don’t countenance has said something anti-Semitic somewhere on the internet which has nothing to do with your own patch of the net. All that needs to happen is that these people have to vaguely endorse your site.

No one really knows what goes on in Howard Dean’s rather worn out brain but when Solomon followed up on his Nazi remark he said vis a vis Bannon,

“Well, he’s anti-Semitic, he’s anti-black and he’s anti-women.”

“It’s a big word,” he said. “I don’t usually use it unless somebody’s really anti-Semitic, really misogynist, really anti-black.” link

Dean seems to think that if someone (in his opinion and without evidence) is “really” some bad things then, well, “He’s a Nazi.”

This is the language of the pure smear. It is not about any sort of political discourse or argument, it is simply taking the worst word you can think of and slapping it on your political opponent. Three-year-olds understand the tactic.

“You’re a poopy pants.” they will merrily cry in the sandbox.

The infantilization of the left, replete with safe spaces, Play-Do, puppies, safety pins continues apace in the face of Trump. I expect we’ll be seeing more acting out as Trump appoints more adults to his Administration. But it is just unfortunate when people who should know better join in the sandbox melee.


Having said all that, it would be wise of Bannon and the rest of the White House team to keep a lot of blue water between themselves and the actual Nazis at the Richard Spencer backed National Policy Institute. The alt-right contains many, often contradictory, strands of thought and blocking the NPI line would be both prudent and right. Bannon says zero tolerance for anti-Semitism and racism, making sure that NPI is pointedly excluded from even a look in at the Trump White House would be a good first step.

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Press Out

By convention the major news networks and several newspapers and organizations form the White House Press Corps replete with office space in the West Wing and daily press briefings from the “Press Secretary”. This convention goes back to the end of the 19th century and has become more formalized with the passage of time.

Need it continue?

I think it is fair to say that the establishment media in the US has been universally hostile to President Elect Trump. Editorially that would be one thing, but it is pretty clear that the reporters and opinion columnists (and is there really a difference any more?) can’t stand Trump. And Trump cordially returns the favour calling out dishonest reporters and what he sees as biased coverage.

Perhaps it is time for there to be a bit of distance between the President and the Press. Physical distance. Setting up a briefing room and offices for the Press Corps in a basement at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the White House would make clear the Press Corps’ status in a Trump Presidency. And a weekly rather than daily briefing would be more than sufficent to cover the routine matters an Administration has to announce. Yes, the media would howl. But so what?

At the moment Trump can get any coverage he wants or needs when he wants or needs it from any number of non-traditional media outlets. Breitbart, Daily Caller, Drudge…Hell, the Daily Mail does a better and less biased job of covering Trump than the US mainstream media.

“Draining the swamp” means more than kicking the lobbyists out of government, it also means breaking up the media cabal which has enabled the swamp to fill up in the first place. Dumping the Press Corps into a basement half a mile from the center of power will make their actual importance very clear.

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Steve Bannon

The defeated left is going all in on Breitbart’s (and soon the White House’s) Steve Bannon.

The smears are as fact free as they are nasty and it is a direct and simple challenge to Trump. People like Harry Reid and Elizabeth Warren are slagging Bannon and threatening not to co-operate (as if) with Trump.

So now Trump gets to decide: keep Steve or underbus him in the face of a determined lefty smear. I think it is an easy decision; but it will also be a telling one. If Trump backs his pick he wins bigly, if he waivers, even slightly, he will have created a huge problem for himself and his Presidency. We should know how this turns out by the weekend.

If you want to read what this notorious “anti-Semite” and “racist” and white supremacist thinks go read his remarks to a Vatican conference on poverty.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.jgq2dB2Wq#.tw3ywEyX5

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A Week Later

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About this time a week ago most people thought Hilly had the election in the bag and were resigned to four years of, at best, uninspired American Presidential leadership. While very few people were enthusiastic about Hilly there was a sense of inevitability about her.

And then it happened. The polls were, largely, wrong. Trump managed an upset for the ages and we now have President Elect Trump.

Several million words of analysis later we discover a couple of things. First, as I suspected, black voters did not turn out for the nice white lady in the same numbers as they had for Obama. I can’t help but think this was baked in and should have been reflected in the turnout models the polling people use. But, apparently, it wasn’t. Second, deplorables showed up and voted. Again, not surprising. Third, these two factors put states into play which the HRC campaign – pathetic as it was – believed were locks for Clinton. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan(!) all jumped to Trump. Not by much but by enough.

It turned out that the scare mongering about Trump – which, realistically, was all the HRC campaign had – played great in New York City and coastal California, but it didn’t pull many votes. Turnout, overall, was down.

This left mainstream media and the pollsters it relied on looking deeply dumb. The major newspapers and networks did not even try to conceal their support for Clinton and their contempt for Trump and his voters. While Hilly can shamble off the national stage to her well-deserved obscurity (and one hopes indictment and conviction), MSM has to show up for work knowing that it managed to get the 2016 election entirely and completely wrong.

There are, of course, assorted post-election melt downs. Apparently, a small but vocal subset of university students need grief counselling and another sub-set of alleged Hilly supporters think that roaming the streets with baseball bats will make a difference. #notmypresident had its moment and sunk.

Now the left is, rather predictably, making unsupported claims about Trump being surrounded by racist/fascist/anti-Semitic/homophobic/islamophobic/misogynists. Eviltons to a man. I suspect this will go on for a while as Trump appoints people whose positions are not congruent with the pernicious political correctness which has characterized the Obama years.  The very idea that conservatives and people on the right may be part of a Trump administration seems difficult, if not impossible, for lefty commentators to accept. I suspect Trump does not care.

Trump, and the Republican Party which took both House and Senate, has received a “change” mandate. He set out policies from immigration reform to calling out the Global Warming hoax which represent a clear break from business as usual. Not only was he elected but Republicans in their droves were elected too. Now the question is will they deliver?

At this moment Trump has the wind at his back and the enormous reservoir of goodwill an incoming President always begins with. We all know that goodwill dissipates very quickly, but if Trump can work out an agenda with Congress he may be able to get a great deal done very quickly.

Of course, the Europeans are freaking out. But this is not a surprise and not really important. Putin is showing willing, the Chinese are proffering olive branches and the rest of the world seems willing to wait and see. Right now Trump can, simply by being friendly, drain a good deal of the venom which has built up over the years of incompetent Obama administration foreign policy.

The single biggest thing Trump has going for him at the moment is the ignorant contempt of the mainstream media, the left and many foreign “leaders”. By casting Trump as a Yahoo, a buffoon, they set the bar very low for Trump success. It is not that these people underestimate Trump, it is that they don’t estimate him at all preferring to cling to a caricature. This gives Trump a huge advantage.

Now we’ll see how he uses that advantage.

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Leonard Cohen is Dead

Leonard cohen

Leonard Cohen and Marriane, Hydra, Greece

All the fun of the 60’s, the Village, Greece when it was cheap, Montreal when it was brilliant with writers and poets and Trudeau pere, had a weird effect on those of us born smack middle of the Baby Boom in the late 50’s. It was impossibly romantic, a bit old-fashioned and entirely enticing. Our leading edge Boomer non-contemporaries re-invented folk, wrote poetry which was not embarrassing to read,  hung out with F.R. Scott and Irving Layton as well as Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell.

Being a bookish child, along with listening to Songs of Leonard Cohen I actually read both his novels, The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers. The first I understood in a precocious way and have been meaning to re-read, the second read like it had been written on meth…which it turns out it was. Those novels, along with the songs, were a window onto a vanished world of a generation just becoming. It was not yet a cliche to live in little more than a cave on Hydra with a beautiful Norwegian girl called Marianne and write songs about her (my favourite LC song actually) although the Durrells had done it before the war and Patty Fermore did it after.

Susan and I went to see the Cohen show when he came to Victoria in 2010. Years and years of practice ensured that it was a brilliant, perfectly arranged and managed, evening. But it was Cohen’s great gift of empathy which shone through the remembered melodies and nostalgic lyrics. He was remembering along with his audience.

Many years before, during some awards festivity in Vancouver, I heard that Cohen was staying in a hotel my then wife and I enjoyed a Friday evening drink before dinner. I am not terribly interested in celebrity. But I was quite willing to stake out a seat before the fire in the Wedgewood Hotel and take my chances. And, as it happened, Cohen came in. Alone. No entourage, no security, just the man.

There is a funny choice in situations like that. Do you play it cool and leave a busy man to his business? Normally I would have. But I didn’t. I went over to him in the lobby, held out my hand and said, “Thank you.” He took my hand, looked me in the eye and diffidently said, “No, thank you.” Then the elevator binged in the background and, with a slight nod of the head, Cohen was gone.

Now he is actually gone. I am glad to have had an instant to thank him.

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The Sum of All Fears

David Remnick, writing in the New Yorker, is not happy with the Trump victory.

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. new yorker

He goes on at length as to the odiousness of Trump.

a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. new yorker

Remnick is a pretty good proxy for the now completely discredited liberal commentariat and the MSM whose repudiation was so thoroughly trashed by the deplorables last night.

The good and decent people of America – people like us, people who went to a decent college and who accept their fair share of the burden of white people’s guilt – are in very deep despair today. Their bubble has burst. A few days ago I wrote:

Hillary supporters faced with a big loss will, I suspect, resemble the losers in Brexit who were in shock that a bunch of provincial yahoos could somehow destroy the metropolitan consensus. Supporting Hillary is regarded as something of an IQ test by her supporters. It’s pass/fail and if you fail you are obviously not the sort of person a Hillary supporter would want as a friend. november 3, 2016

Writing in The Spectator, Brendan O’Neill provides the provisional answer and analysis to the Remnick wail:

This response to Trump’s victory reveals why Trump was victorious. Because those who do politics these days — the political establishment, the media, the academy, the celeb set — are so contemptuous of ordinary people, so hateful of the herd, so convinced that the mass of society cannot be trusted to make political decisions, and now those ordinary people have given their response to such top-down sneering and prejudice.

Oh, the irony of observers denouncing Middle America as a seething hotbed of hatred even as they hatefully libel it a dumb and ugly mob. Having turned America’s ‘left behind’ into the butt of every clever East Coast joke, and the target of every handwringing newspaper article about America’s dark heart and its strange, Bible-toting inhabitants, the political and cultural establishment can’t now be surprised that so many of those people have turned around and said… well, it begins with F and ends with U. the spectator 

Trump has been handed a mandate to tear down the liberal follies of the last eight years. There are swamps to be drained and idiocies like “global warming” and Common Core to be dismantled. There is also the opportunity, if Trump is smart enough to take it, to build out from his band of Deplorables.

The people who are hurt most by disasters like unchecked immigration, Common Core or Obamacare or money sinks like “Global Warming” are not confined to the white demographics in rust belt and southern states. The fact is that there are plenty of poor, unemployed people in blue states. There are ill-educated black kids in crappy houses in awful neighbourhoods who need actual help. There are lots of able bodied men, black, white, Latino who have not had a decent job in three or four or more years. There are young people with mountains of student debt and degrees in gender studies who, while it is fun to make fun of them, actually need an economy which is rapidly growing so they can reskill and lead a life beyond the coffee bar.

Trump has the opportunity to make good on his promise to remember the forgotten people in the American nation. To do that he needs great people. He needs to build a consensus around a new vision for America.

Most of all, Trump needs to competently destroy the self-satisfied leftie claim that only the left enjoys the signal virtue of compassion. If Trump begins with his useful question to black Americans, “What the Hell do you have to lose?” and answers it with real progress on jobs and education, the Remnicks of the world will be silenced.

Satisfying as it was to see the Deplorables deliver the biggest FU in political history to the self-appointed American ruling class, it is now up to Trump to convert that anger into progress. I don’t know if he can; but I do know that it will not be “business as usual” under President Trump and that is a step in the right direction.

Update: A good analysis of how the media lost touch from Michael Wolff.

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Magnificent Deplorables

Just waiting for the call but AP calls PA. But not the networks.

We’re done.

Hillary is such a useless tool that she is not even going to show up at the Javitts Centre to concede. Podesta is truly revolting. Still counting…yeah, right.

She’s racing to the plane to which ever lair she has prepared.

Donald Trump has won the most remarkable victory in American political history.

And now it is official. A classic Trump speech. Good for Hilly conceding. Trump was gracious but he was Trump.

Let’s go.

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Did Trump Close the Deal?

The frenzy of last minute polling in the US Presidential race is suggesting that Trump is even or pulling ahead in several key states. Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Ohio are all in play.

“In play” is not, of course, “in the bag” and the fabled Democratic Party ground operation and saturation advertising may very well deny Trump some or all of these states and many more. Hilly is awful but the Democratic Party may have the organizational capacity – and enough cheating capacity – to, in Obama’s words today in Detroit “carry her”. So it is a reasonable bet that Clinton should be able to win tomorrow.

Unless…Well the polls could very well be wrong. The polling models may well under represent Trump support and over represent Hilly’s. There is no doubt at all that Trump sees more people at his rallies. But does that mean anything?

Hillary’s message throughout the campaign has been that Trump is unfit, racist and not the sort of person America would be safe with. She has cited her own experience and what she seems to think is her better temperment. She has a mountain of detailed policy as one would expect from a front of the class sort of girl.

Trump’s message has been a bit broader – yes, Hilly is a crook; but the whole damned system is rigged. He offers some simple solutions to fairly complex problems. Build the Wall, drop taxes, super vet immigrants from know terrorist areas. But none of that is actually what Trump is selling.

“Make America Great Again” is not so much a policy as a point of view. If you think America has been diminished – economically, geo-politically, culturally – in the last eight years then Trump is offering a direction change. Hillary is not.

Trump’s pitch has two parts: you have to buy into the idea that America is not doing well and you have to believe that Trump somehow represents a useful change of direction. For Trump to close the deal he has to find enough people who believe both parts and those people have to show up and vote.

America is in roughish shape after eight years of Obama. Geo-politically Obama, and his two Secretaries of State, Clinton and Kerry, are leaving America with significantly diminish stature and authority in many parts of the world. Economically, the echos of the 2008 crash are still with us. However, rough shape is not a total disaster. This is not America in 1932:

By inauguration day—March 4, 1933—most banks had shut down, industrial production had fallen to just 56 percent of its 1929 level, at least 13 million wage earners were unemployed, and farmers were in desperate straits. britannica

So are things bad enough for the first part of the #MAGA message to resonate. As with most things, it depends on where you are and who you are. If you are black and living in a city you are certainly no better off than you were eight years ago. If you are white and live in a flyover state you have not had a great eight years (said Bill Clinton at a 2015 closed fundraiser – thank you WikiLeaks). Small businesses have more regulation to deal with and large busineses are finding it more efficient to keep their international profits offshore. A lot of jobs have disappeared and they are not coming back.

Is that enough? I think it may just be. If this is a “change” election there have to be enough people who are miserable enough to actually get out and vote for change. People who remember when they and their kids had jobs and America won the wars it fought.

For Trump to close the deal he has to begin with that miserable base and  then add to it. There are plenty of people who, while they are gainfully employed and still have healthcare, are worried about the deficit, the inability of America to gain good international outcomes, the seemingly endless “nod and wink” corruption in Washington. Socially these are people who would be embarassed to say they were voting for Trump. They may not even say it out loud to themselves. But they are out there – or at least Trump has to hope they are. These are the people who can tip battleground states Trump’s way.

Tomorrow we find out. The left media are predicting a Clinton victory and some of the loonier publications are suggesting a landslide for Hilly. I don’t think there is any landslide potential for the Clinton camp. They might, if everything breaks just right, be able to claim a lopsided Electoral College victory but they don’t seem to have the raw numbers for a landslide.

Neither does Trump. Except. Well I am watching Ted Nuget warming up the crowd in Grand Rapids. Fresh out of deer camp and in camo. It’s about midnight. The room is packed. Ted is rocking it. 4500 people in the room. 51,000 online on YouTube. Lord knows how many on Facebook. Those are actual numbers. Earlier tonight Jon Bon Jovie and Bruce Srpinsteen opened for Hilly. They had 15,ooo in the room and about 10K online. Trump hit a combined You-Tube and Facebook of over 200K.

That’s the landslide. If those actual people show up Trump wins bigly.

I think they will.

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