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Britain’s ugly Brexit explained


Sir Xavier Rolet's explanation to the City Club of Idaho Falls about the significance of the controversial British exit (“Brexit”) from the European Union (EU) could not have come at a more momentous time. The former London Stock Exchange Group CEO addressed the club on Thursday, May 23.

The very next day after he spoke, a tearful British Prime Minister Theresa May announced at No. 10 Downing Street in London that she would resign on June 7 after three years leading the United Kingdom – primarily due to her failure to finalize Britain's divorce from the EU.

Rolet's talk also coincided with the start of European Parliament elections that weekend which saw far right political parties surge in popularity and gain a sharp increase in delegates, causing a seismic shift among the 751 members representing more than 512 million people from 28 European member states.

“A new Europe is born!” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Lega Nord (League), declared after his far right political party won the majority of votes in Italy's shocking election. “I am proud that the League is participating in this new European renaissance.”

The Daily Mail of London reported: “The surprising result comes on a night of high drama. In France, Marine Le Pen’s right-wing group National Rally secured victory against Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche. Germany also saw leader Angela Merkle lose six seats, but continue to claim a majority. And in the U.K., the Brexit Party completed a historic win as the region’s split over leaving the EU deepened.”

(picture: Sir Xavier Rolet, right, discusses Britain's exit from the European Union with veteran Idaho Falls banker Park Price/Mark Mendiola)

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted following his victory: “Never before in British politics has a party just six weeks old won a national election. If Britain does not leave the EU on October 31st, these results will be repeated at a general election. History has been made. This is just the beginning.”

A French businessman, Rolet has been chief executive of CQS Management Ltd., a global investment company, since January. He was CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group from May 2009 to December 2017. As of April 2018, the London Stock Exchange's market capitalization stood at $4.59 trillion.

Rolet was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 and named as one of the best 100 CEOs in the world in the 2017 Harvard Business Review. His great grandfather was a founder of the French Foreign Legion.

Rolet owns property in southwestern Montana's Centennial Valley, which is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a 385,000 acre wildlife corridor that links the Yellowstone and Salmon-Selway Wilderness habitats.

Through the Centennial Valley Association, Rolet became acquainted with Jerry and Carrie Scheid, Idaho Falls residents who also own neighboring property in Montana. As a result, the Scheids – City Club of Idaho Falls members – invited him to address their organization.

Rolet told the club that if nothing of sustenance happens between now and October 31, the United Kingdom will be bound by law to leave the European Union on that date in what he called “a cold turkey separation,” deeply impacting Britain's position in relationship with the rest of the world.

In a June 2016 national referendum, the British voted by 52 percent for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Rolet described the past three years as a time of “amazing contradictions,” calling May “a Remainer prime minister leading a deeply Brexiter party.” He commented that opposites often attract.

The British people generally believe political representatives made a mess of negotiating the Brexit process and have been disappointed in the political class, Rolet said. “The public in general is fed up that everything has been put on hold.”

The European Union, he noted, arose from the ashes of World Wars I and II. It was designed to prevent future wars in Europe by binding Germany and France initially in a steel and coal community, but expanding to establish economic and political unity on the continent.

In 1963 and 1967, Britain applied to join the Common Market, but it was rejected both years by France. In 1973, Britain entered the European Economic Community. Two years later, British people voted 67 percent in a referendum for the United Kingdom to remain in the EEC – the EU's predecessor. In 2002 when 12 EU countries introduced the euro as legal tender, Britain opted out, keeping the pound sterling as its currency.

For more than 40 years, Britain has been deeply integrated with the European Union, Rolet stressed. It at one time was one of the top economies of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, “but today it is the bottom of the pile.”

During the 2016 Brexit referendum, London was a “gleaming metropolis” bustling with business, the arts and other activities, but the rest of Britain's economy was hurting. Most of London's residents voted in favor of remaining in the EU, but following the financial crisis of 2008, “the United Kingdom was particularly left behind.”

He said the way for the EU to survive is to prosper, but some 22 million people are unemployed there. The majority of British voters who favored leaving the EU “were given the opportunity, pardon my French, to 'stick it to the establishment',” Rolet remarked, noting “even in the best of times, 'blue chips' do not create jobs.”

The economic consequences of Britain exiting the European Union remain to be seen, but some have feared they could be severe, he said. Belonging to the EU has hedged Britain's interest rate and foreign exchange exposures, Rolet added, emphasizing that extricating itself from the EU will be extremely difficult and “really, really complex” for Britain.

It will be left to the market to sort out hundreds of trillions of invested euro-denominated securities and 150 trade agreements signed by the EU that cover the United Kingdom, Relot said.

In history, nationalism always has arisen as a sign of decadence, he said. By 2022, it has been estimated that the United States and China will account for 52 percent of the world's gross domestic product and will own 75 percent of global financial assets.

The U.S. is by far the world's mightiest military power while Europe has virtually no military capability left, Rolet said, adding neither Britain nor France could put 50,000 combatants on the ground.

Rolet accurately predicted that Theresa May would probably be replaced by early June as Britain's prime minister because of her failure to finalize Brexit. The status of 1.9 million British citizens in the European Union, meanwhile, remains unsettled.

“There will be many, many more years, possibly a decade, for these issues to be resolved,” Rolet said, predicting the United States, China and Russia will be the dominant economic and military powers in the near future as the world moves from its post World War II binary status between the U.S. and USSR to a multi-faceted outlook.

“Don't be surprised if there is a peace treaty between Russia and the United States in the Middle East,” Rolet said, adding that reforms in Saudi Arabia also could lead to peace between the Saudis and Israelis. He also predicted the U.S. and China ultimately will sign a trade agreement, ending the increasingly hostile trade war between the two super powers.

Trump and Santa


It is well known that the President is a big fan of coal. It plays a central part in his energy program. In fact, he has repeatedly called for an increase in the mining and burning of coal. He has promised to revitalize the coal industry and bring back coal-mining jobs. During campaign appearances in coal country leading up to the midterm elections, his supporters passed out placards proclaiming “TRUMP DIGS COAL.”

Energy sector analysts point out that other sources of energy are cleaner and have become cheaper than coal, but that has not diminished the Chief’s passion for coal. He has directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to implement a program to subsidize the use of coal. Perry, the candidate who famously forgot the name of the agency he now runs during the 2016 presidential debates, is working on a plan to keep coal-fired plants running with taxpayer help.

And, the President is not afraid of ruffling a few feathers in the process. During meetings in Germany and Poland in November and December, his people touted the benefits of burning coal at meetings designed to fight climate change. While participants from almost every country were pointing out the planet-killing effects of burning coal, our guys were in there pitching for that much-maligned substance. It took some moxie to stand up for a fuel whose pollution contributes to hundreds of thousands of deaths around the globe every year.

In a little-noticed report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey on Black Friday, it was disclosed that about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in our country come from coal and oil extracted from federally-controlled lands. The President wants to open up additional federal lands for extraction of fossil fuels.

Another federal report released the same day warned that damage from climate change is intensifying across the country, thanks to greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels--coal and oil. The President pooh-poohed the findings of his own governmental agencies. Apparently, it is full-steam ahead with heating up the planet.

This has created a real dilemma for Santa Claus. According to some sources, Santa has placed the President on a naughty list, partly for global warming issues but also for having a standoffish relationship with the truth and a too close relationship with a bunny and a star of prurient movies. In the President’s defense, his friends Vladimir the Russian and MBS, a Saudi prince who turned a Saudi human rights advocate into hamburger, were higher up on the naughty list.

The coal-burning/global-warming issue is personal for Santa because he lives and works at the North Pole. It is not a secret that global warming is melting the ice at Santa’s workshop and he is sore that he will eventually have to move his operation or close it down.

Santa normally puts lumps of coal in the stockings of people who are on his naughty list. But, if the purpose of doing so is to admonish the naughty person, what do you do with the delinquent who actually love coal and lots of it? It presents a real dilemma for the Jolly Old Elf. My thought is that we ought to take the coal away from our leader--leave it in the ground. That would help Santa and all of the rest of us to breathe easier.

Idaho Weekly Briefing – December 24

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 17. Would you like to know more? Send us a note at

TO OUR READERS: This edition is the last of 2018, as we take a one-week break for the Christmas holidays. We’ll return on January 7 with an edition covering the end of 2018 and first week of 2019.

More growth in business news continued through the week as unemployment levels dropped to near record lows. How long will those levels persist? Meanwhile, as much of the state saw snow or slush, Idahoans prepared for the Christmas-New Year’s holidays.

Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill and Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry L. Myers will step down from their roles as the chief judges effective January 1. U.S. District Judge David C. Nye and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Joseph M. Meier will assume the role of chief in their respective courts on January 2, 2019. Judge Winmill and Judge Myers will continue to carry full caseloads.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.6% in November, down slightly from October and continuing at or below 3% for the 15th consecutive month. The state’s labor force – the total number of people 16 years of age and older working or looking for work – was 854,243, increasing by 0.1% and essentially unchanged since July.

Governor-elect Brad Little’s transition committee continues its work. Kelley Packer will lead as Bureau Chief of the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licensure. Packer is a former Idaho State Representative from McCammon. Tom Kealey will be the new Director of the Department of Commerce. Kealey is a co-owner of the restaurant chain Chicago Connection and a former executive at Morrison-Knudsen. The chairman and executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party have announced their impending exits which will take place March 16. Chairman Bert Marley, will not seek re-election when the post is next up for election on March 16. Marley has been chair of the IDP since August 2015.

Legislation championed by senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch to bring into wide use newer, more efficient energy reactors cleared the United States Senate by a voice vote.

Idaho’s growing economy, a consistent decrease in layoffs and a solvent Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund are all contributing to a 6.6% decrease in unemployment insurance tax rates for 2019.

Boise Kind is a community-wide initiative that highlights, protects and promotes the community’s core values and helps to ensure Boise remains kind and welcoming.

IMAGE Higher elevations in Idaho saw increasing snow levels in December, and road managers scrambled to clear them. (photo/Idaho Department of Transportation)

In review


I for one take note that what may be the most important thing to happen in Idaho this year - ballot placement and voter passage of the initiative to expand Medicaid access in the state - wasn’t even mentioned in the looking-ahead column I wrote a year ago.

Why not? The initiative effort was active and rolling by the end of 2017; the ballot effort was filed and the campaign in place; the advocates were at work. But it looked then like a long shot. Getting any initiative to Idaho ballot status has been, in recent years, a daunting task completed by few. And what would be the odds of Idaho voters backing one of the key components of Obamacare, which so many of their elected officials have described for years like the work of the devil?

But here we are, with the measure passed (and under challenge in court, though - prognostication alert - the challenge probably will fail). Goes to show how many of the most important developments in the course of a year also are the most surprising.

Last year I couched much of the look-ahead column in the form of questions, such as: “Should we shut the door on Democratic prospects in Idaho? And even if major offices prove elusive, might Democrats see substantial gains in the legislature or in the courthouses?”

These remained fair questions through much of the year, though the answer on election day seemed close to what had been broadly expected: Democrats did a little better in 2018 than usual, both in filling key ballot slots and in the final vote, but not by a lot. Republicans remain solidly in control. Makes you wonder now if the Medicaid expansion measure had an effect on that.

Another question I raised then turned out to be relevant, though not in the way anticipated: “There are candidates from the establishment Republican world (Brad Little for governor and David Leroy for Congress), and from the outside-activist wing (Raul Labrador and Russell Fulcher, respectively), and candidates a little harder to easily classify. Will we see a consistent thread running between them? Will this year’s Republican primary turn into a battle between slates of candidates the way 2014 did? Will it lead to bitter conflicts the way that one did, or settle out more easily?”

The inside and outside question was on point. But unlike in 2014, when the two sides split cleanly into de facto slates, the races in 2018 did not cohere so simply. The governor’s race featured three significant candidates, enough to splinter the vote and alter the conversation - and alliances - in important ways. Republicans up and down the ballot were not lumped together in groups as they had been four years earlier, maybe reflecting the complex governor’s race. Republicans came out of this year’s election no doubt with some hard feelings (tough primaries almost always generate at least some, and did on the Democratic side too), but of nowhere near the depth or scope that the party had to deal with after 2014.

I did say that “2018 stands to be a lively political year,” and it was, with several hard-to-predict primaries (the Democratic gubernatorial primary result was a surprise to a lot of people) and a heated general election contest. But the end result in most of the major races, and in overall control of the state legislature, were never much in question. 2018 did not change the basic political equation in Idaho except for the Medicaid expansion (and a subtle but maybe significant voting shift in western Ada County).

2019 won’t feature a major election in Idaho (at least, not that we can foresee right now). But the after-effects of 2018 will be in evidence. I’ll get to that next week.

Now what?


It’s been over eight years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law with NO republican votes. Since, we have had many political campaigns propped up on “Repeal!”, then “Repeal and Replace!” and now we have the decision of a Texas Federal judge that the whole thing should just go away. He bases his opinion on the fact that the Trump tax break for corporations and the wealthy passed last year overturned the individual mandate. OK. I get it. You Republicans don’t like the Affordable Care Act. But just what did you have in mind to get us out of this mess we are in?

Americans pay almost twice as much per person for healthcare as the next developed country in the world. And ALL of the other developed countries have universal coverage, either through a single payer plan or regulated private insurers like the ACA was headed toward. So just what do you Republicans have in mind for us? I hear all these “free market” and charity care notions. Is that the direction you want to take a 21st century American economy? It’s about time we heard your plan. Obstruction politics is getting old, don’t you think?

Most Americans get their health insurance from their workplace. If they have a medical condition, they then become a slave of that expensive benefit. If they try to change employers, thanks to the Texas judge who heard from lawyers with Republican support and funding, their preexisting condition can exclude them from coverage. If they don’t have a medical problem, they just think they could start a business on their own that might be a real economic driver, now they can’t afford to buy their own or their employees’ coverage since the individual marketplace is in shambles, thanks to eight years of republican obstruction. The ACA tried to address this. It didn’t very successfully, since there was no real congressional oversight of the individual health insurance marketplace for the last 8 years, thanks to Republican posturing.

And that’s what it’s all about here is posturing. Strike the pose that gets the crowd roaring. I guess we can afford to waste this time. We are all so comfortable with our Netflix and ATV’s that we don’t see the money we are wasting on this health care industrial complex. After all, it’s only a $20 Trillion-dollar national debt we hand to our children, and if our economy just grows at 5%, then that will all disappear. I am not comforted.

Where are the Republican ideas? Is it too painful to admit that the ACA was actually a pretty conservative plan put forth by a charismatic Democratic president who had to twist a lot of left arms to get it to pass? Is it too painful to admit that the ACA resembles Romney’s plan for Massachusetts or McCain’s 2008 plan? I’m sorry it is so painful, but we need you Republicans to start giving us some answers. And please, one without a promise that the Mexicans will pay for it.

We have serious issues regarding our national health care. Why can’t we have serious discussions about the solutions? Do you republicans who hate the individual mandate think all people should have health insurance? Do you republicans who have fought the individual market place think health care coverage should be portable and affordable for people who don’t get insurance through their big employer? Come on, let us know your plan. I’d love to hear it.

Ad 1, for Individual 1


You could reasonably say that campaign season is on when the television ads begin.

If so, then the 2020 presidential is definitely under way, since President Donald Trump has released his first TV ad. And what an ad it is - drastically unusual in one very specific respect.

I've seen loads of political TV ads, and helped design a few. They can accomplish a number of things: Make you feel good about the candidate, attack the opponent, highlight an issue.

Trump ad #1 does none of these things.

Oh, it takes a pass at the personal candidate support. In this one, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale is featured, and talks about the candidate, declaring “President Trump has achieved more during his time in office than any president in history.” Because initial ads from incumbents are intended to help rev up the support base, that isn't so unusual (however highly debatable it may be).

Nor is the eventual appeal to contribute to the campaigns. Most candidates, in one fashion or another, do that too. You can do that by way of a toll-free telephone number highlighted on the screen (also not unusual).

But the pitch for money actually comes later, after you've already gotten on the phone. The reason to get on the phone, Parscale says: “I need you to call the number on your screen and deliver a ‘thank you’ to President Trump.”

And later: “We need to let President Trump know that we appreciate what he’s doing for America.”

Or, well, what? He might not run again if not enough people sufficiently feed his ego?

The ad does not hit at any specific reason supporting Trump would be good for either the country or you, the viewer, personally. (There's a quick runthrough of talking point phrases, but nothing linking any of those things specifically to anything specific Trump did.) The ad at core is about telling Donald Trump how wonderful he is. The phrase "thank you" turns up in it more than anything else. And oh yeah, have your credit card handy.

This is truly something new in political ads. Usually, we're given at least some sort of a case why we should support candidate A (or oppose candidate B). This one doesn't do that. It doesn't give any reason at all. It doesn't even seem to indicate whether Trump would appreciate it.

There's no reason at all.

The only point we hear from Trump is at the end when his voice delivers the legally-required message that he approved this ad.

Will be interesting to see how many other people do.

How do we choose?


Idahoans have chosen Butch Otter to be governor for the last twelve years, despite not thinking too highly of him. A recent poll showed he had a “net approval” of +12 while the state had a “Republican partisan lean” of +34, so he was actually 22 points behind any generic Republican. Idaho’s partisan lean was the third highest in the country.

A high-priced political consultant from back east presented some information to Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry 4 years ago about Idaho politics. He explained that Idahoans just weren’t politically engaged. His graphic evidence showed that ten times more Idahoans Googled “otter” meaning the cute river or sea mammal, than “Otter” the governor.

I always did a lot of door knocking when I ran for State Senate. I would knock and wait, then introduce myself, “Hi, I’m Dan Schmidt your state senator.” The most common response was, “You are?” and a look of surprise. I would ask about their concerns and explain why I thought they should vote for me. If the door didn’t slam, I would usually ask how they decided who to vote for. I’d hear: “Oh I decide based on the person, what I know about them.” That’s the myth people want to believe about their decisions, that they are informed and make wise choices. The truth is, most people can’t name who are their elected representatives, let alone what they stand for or any work they have done. It’s pretty hard to stay informed on all the details. And it’s boring. Netflix is better.

When an electorate is not engaged, there is usually low participation and certain default choices. Idaho voters show up in presidential year elections at a 70-80% participation of registered voters (which is less than 60% of eligible voters). Midterm years (like this year), it’s about 50-60% of registered voters.

There is no doubt partisan affiliation is the default setting when the voter decides to participate and only has limited information. The very strong Republican Party brand in Idaho right now is complicated by the question “Which Republican Party?” If the polling is accurate, Proposition 2/ Medicaid Expansion has pretty strong statewide support. Even a slim majority of Republicans seem to support it. Yet Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Janice McGeachen successfully got the state Republican party to condemn Prop 2.

The last time Idaho Republicans went through this sort of test was when Otter (not the cute one) had the gumption to have a fight over establishing the state-based health insurance exchange (Your Health Idaho). Many Republican legislators were condemned by their local county party committees for their support of this brave initiative. YHI went on to be the most popular state exchange in the country; indigent and Catastrophic Health Care costs plummeted, reaping the general fund a tidy return and decreasing Idaho’s uninsured rate significantly. But that bitter fight left some deep scars in that big tent Republican Party.

Will Republicans shy away from an intramural fight before the November election? Some aren’t afraid to make their stance known. Twenty Republican House members signed on to opposition of Prop 2 last week. Most moderate Republican candidates I’ve heard aren’t willing to commit. And if their brand is strong enough, and the voters aren’t too engaged, maybe it won’t matter for them. They might welcome being mistaken for a cute water mammal.

Pro-Trump, annotated


On the 17th, the New York Times did an excellent service, turning over its editorial page to backers of President Donald Trump. That offered a useful counterpoint to the Times' own views, which have run deeply in opposition to the president over the last year, and prior.

Those of us who have asked over the last year, "What can they be thinking?" when it comes to Trump support got some answers here, as a page-worth of letters to the editor pitched the Trump case. They offer up a clear picture of what their side of the argument looks like.

One noted, for example, "Some of the many positive results of his policies are a booming economy, low unemployment (record low for black Americans), soaring stock market, lower taxes, the repeal of mandatory health insurance coverage." You can read the whole thing at the Times site.

Those arguments can be broken down to 10 core, frequently-made points (and I'll throw in a peripheral, less-mentioned extra), noted here in no particular order. But each of them also cries out for an annotation, which is also here.

1. "The economy is up ... low unemployment (record low for black Americans), soaring stock market ..." The economy is in fact doing well - now. It is doing almost exactly the same as it did a year ago, in the last year of Barack Obama's administration, and in the years before that, which is to say that nothing much has changed. The point has been made that the stock market made better progress in the early Obama Administration (after a severe crash at the end of the Bush Administration), and the point could be made that a high stock market these days often has more to do with stock buybacks and employee layoffs than it does actual national productivity or prosperity. But the larger point is that many of the same conditions which led us to the 2008 crash are now - blindly - being brought back as policy choices. You say the economy is doing well today? Great. Stay tuned. We'll see how long it lasts.

2. "foreign tyrants are afraid ... putting real pressure on North Korea and Iran ... stronger plans to prevent North Korea and Iran from using nuclear weapons." Here we move into fantasy. Whatever else they are, the leaders of Iran and North Korea seem to be not in the slightest intimidated; they're seeing, to the contrary, a president who can be manipulated with astounding ease.

3. "has largely defeated ISIS in Iraq." The ISIS news out of Iraq is indeed excellent, but this is much like the situation with the economy: The military pattern from 2016 - which involved United States military backup, but not a primary combat role - was in general continued through 2017, with similar results; this was a matter simply of leaving a reasonable policy to run on autopilot. Almost any president likely would have done something similar. You can fairly credit Trump for not trashing it, but that's about as much credit as is reasonable to give.

4. "the repeal of mandatory health insurance coverage." Well thank God we're not required to get health insurance! Who knows what that might lead to? What this provision, slipped in at the last moment (without, God forbid, any hearings or study of impact) likely will do is destabilize the insurance marketplace for us all - which would mean higher prices and reduced coverage. The point of the mandate is to spread risk widely; spreading risk is the point of insurance, period. The ACA may be flawed, but many of its critics seem not to understand even in the most general terms what insurance is or how it works. They should educate themselves about that.

5. "our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem." There are arguments to be made, and some people have made them for decades, about why this might be a good idea; those seem to be heavily outnumbered by the arguments for why it seems more likely to exacerbate tension and conflict in the Middle East. But my point here goes to none of that. It is: How does the location of an embassy in another country benefit us Americans at all? What's the benefit for us? Why is this something for us to celebrate?

6. "tax reform is accomplished." This - the massive bill passed in December - is a fraud. It is not tax "reform"; to call it that is an abuse of the word. When passed, it was so haphazardly put together that even the legislators voting on it did not know what was in it, and there was no time for public exposure or comment. (If there had been, the bill surely would have died.) Beyond that, this comment from conservative commenter Jennifer Rubin: "A tax cut that grows the deficit and gives disproportionate benefits to the rich is a 'win' and 'conservative' because, because … why?" And those recent reports of worker bonuses and the like? Call it a diversionary tactic.

Update: The makers of Kleenex announce layoffs in late January of more than 5,000 nationally. And (in a tweet the next day): "Toys R Us closing 180 stores, Sears closing 63 stores, Kmart closing 45 stores, Macy's closing 68 stores, Sam's Club 63 stores closing, JP Morgan closing several branches." I don't blame any of that on Trump. But don't bother telling me about the job-creating wonders of this tax bill.

7. "has named a number of solid conservative judges." If you're philosophically conservative, I'll give you this one (which would have gone to any Republican elected president). But bear in mind that for a whole lot of Americans, this is a bug, not a feature. Whether this is good or bad depends solely on where you sit, and for a lot of Americans the verdict is not positive.

8. "has prioritized American citizens over illegal immigrants." In terms of rhetoric, Trump has done this, in his fashion. But his approach has had the larger effect of setting Americans against each other. Many Americans have views nothing like the hard-anti-immigrant attitude at much of the core of the Trump base. And much of what we're seeing from that core, egged on by Trump, is cruel and heartless. America has had, since before our nationhood, an ambivalent feeling about its immigrants, but never a president who has whipped up that feeling the way this one has. Actual changes in border crossings, actual practical on-the-ground effects (apart from instilling lots of fear among millions of people) have moved hardly at all in the last year. The emotional climate in the country has changed much more, and not for the better.

9. "has gotten us out of several bad international agreements ... getting out of biased United Nations organizations." Um, no, with the main exception of the Paris climate change accord (which imposed no hard requirements on the United States at all) and to some extent the Pacific trade agreement, he hasn't. We're still in the United Nations. And not much else by way of international trade has much changed. Foreign policy analyst Daniel Drezner points out, "In his first year, Trump can point to no new alliances, trade deals or favorable basing agreements. Trump obsesses (wrongly) about trade deficits, but they increased with both China and Mexico in 2017." And, "The United States is losing its global standing because the world hates Donald Trump. Anyone who tells you differently is selling you something."

10. "has removed a number of wasteful regulations." We hear a lot about "wasteful regulations" but remarkably little about which regulations, exactly, those are. Of course there are regulations that impose needless cost or imposition, and we ought to be targeting and getting rid of them. But that takes effort, time and expertise, none of which have been in evidence over the last year. What we seem to be seeing is a mindless meat-axe, the results of which will come home to roost when we start to discover why those regs were crafted in the first place. Rubin again: "It is not conservative to favor reversing everything President Barack Obama did without regard to changed circumstances or alternatives. That doesn’t make Obama’s political legacy wonderful; it makes those advocating blind destruction without reasoned alternatives anything but conservative."

A bonus argument: "and respect for the flag and the rule of law." Sigh. Respect for the rule of law? Does this really even require a response? Really?

A brief but useful comprehensive rebuttal to all this comes from TV host Joe Scarborough. It's worth a read.

Now as for the list of arguments against Trump, I'm afraid we'd need a list much longer than a top 10 . . .