Friday, July 29, 2016

Super short Convention Reaction

Today's vacation schedule kicks off early, so very short reactions to the last day of the convention.
  • I don't usually indulge in I told you so's (maybe because I am often wrong?) but what a deep bench the Democrats have.  Last night, HRC got another big surrogate--retired Marine General John Allen.  His endorsement was full throated---and that may be an understatement.  I don't love having recently retired military officers engaging in politics.  But the real threat to American civil-military relations is not HRC, but Trump.  So, this one time, sure.
  • The Muslim family that lost one of their kids who fought for the US, with the father willing to lend Trump his copy of the constitution?  I have no words.  Just incredibly touched.  This is the America that was and is great. 
  • The immigrant who lost much when we saved his combat buddies and earned the Medal of Honor?  Again, touching, moving, and amazing.  The Democrats have more visibly become the party of Patriotism, but I agree with others--the Dems have always been patriots.  Just now they embrace it more visibly at the convention.
  • Speaking of which, yes, the Democratic Party is the party of national security.  But this is not as new as people think--people forget that the GOP lost its credibility on this issue when they bungled the aftermath of the Iraq invasion and also when no WMDs were found.
  • Hillary Clinton's speech was the best I had seen of her stuff.  It was long, but it didn't feel long.  It touched all the bases, trolled Trump effectively, and made a good case for why she should be President.  Before this week, I was a "well, Clinton is Democrat in the race, so I will vote for her, especially against the very worst the GOP can throw at us" candidate.  Now, she is the "super-qualified and historically effective" candidate who might do some real good along with the pathbreaking first woman to become President.  I still get annoyed by the Clintonian bent for unforced errors (email stuff, Clinton Foundation crap, speaking at Goldman Sachs), but I cannot argue that Hillary will not be an effective President and a pretty progressive one at that.
  • Oh, and one last thought--the two conventions demonstrated so very well the big gaps in the two campaigns--of organization, of competence, of tone and of substance.  
As always, don't believe the polls this week.  Wait a week or two, don't panic.  The fundamentals solidly favor HRC.  All Trump can and will do is demonstrate how awful he would be for the US and for the world.  It will be a long 100 days, but the state polls in a couple of weeks will start to tell the tale.

Reaching the Midway Point

I am turning 50 this week.  Aside from buying Ray-Ban wraparound sunglasses with my latest prescription, the mid-life crisis has not been too full of over-compensation.  Perhaps too much over-eating.  Sure, I could be insecure and blame others, but I leave that to the orange one.  Over the course of the past few years, I have realized that I am really quite lucky.

I am mostly healthy, and my family is mostly healthy,  I have lost only a few friends and only one non-grandparent relative.  That will certainly be changing, and I know that I am not really ready for it.

I have never broken a bone (mine or anyone else's), and only sprained a few ankles.  I can still play ultimate reasonably well, and now have revised how long I expect my frisbee career to last well beyond 50.  Thanks to the old guys in the Montreal leagues for showing me how it is done.  Despite one stupid skiing accident (trying to stop fast to throw snow on my daughter), I can still get down the mountain ok.  Climate change may end my skiing career before my body breaks down.

My daughter is thriving in college, working far harder than I ever did and getting far better grades.  That she is pursuing a far more challenging career, in film-making, amazes me.  My wife has been willing to move wherever my career took me (well, she put some limitations but none that mattered), and has done all of the family accounting, which my research/conference/book promotion travel greatly complicates.  She continues to indulge my silliness, whether it is comedy shows (Carrie Fisher this weekend), my Star Wars obsession (Carrie Fisher this weekend), or blogging (Carrie Fisher this weekend).  We have a lot of fun together--and the ride has been far less bumpy now that the daughter sleeps past 5 am.  My extended family is thriving, with the next generation doing great in college or about to start that cool part of their lives.  I am pretty happy to be doing something for some of them that will probably be the best thing I ever do.

I have been very lucky in my career.  Yes, there have been bumps in the road, and my success in job talks is below the Mendoza line (under .200).  I do have one professional enemy as far as I can tell, but only one.  I have amassed a large group of super supportive co-authors for my various projects, helping me to pursue my curiosity as far as it takes me.  In the past, that meant places like Hungary and Romania.  More recently, that has meant Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  In the next year, it means Japan, South Korea, and a hunk of Latin America.  I have experienced plenty of rejection--jobs, articles, grants--as it is inherent in the enterprise, but I have been able to get enough funding to do what I want to do.

I have now ended up at a place that is pretty perfect for me--in a national capital, which means great access to policy makers, with students deeply engaged in the policy world, and a great set of colleagues.  I do miss the students from McGill and the friends I made along this very long and strange academic journey, but I am really loving this phase of my career.  And it will probably be the longest one.
I have not bought a sports car in my mid-life partly because I am too cheap, but because I have mostly confronted my major insecurities: fear of missing out, imposter syndrome, and so on.  I used to feel left out of the reindeer games and uncertain about why people put up with me. Facebook, twitter and other social media are very handy for reminding me of the connections I have made over the year and renewing them.  The birthday wishes that pile up thanks to Facebook are quite meaningful--making me feel like Sally Fields or Stuart Smalley.

Lot of words to reflect on where I stand today when I could have just posted the oft-posted:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tyson Zone? Nope, Not Strange Enough

I thought I wrote a few months ago that Trump had entered the Tyson Zone (can't seem to find the post), and today, Michael Cohen said the same thing.  The idea is that a person can be so consistently off the wall that nothing they do can be really that surprising.  Sorry, but Trump has officially blown my mind.  He keeps doing stuff that is more appalling, more beyond the pale, more beyond the imagination.  Yes, he continues to shock me.

Yes, asking for Russia to release HRC emails is shocking.
Yes, saying that he might recognize Russia's conquest of Crimea is shocking.

So, I'd like to say he can't shock me, but he can.  Amazing what one can do when one has absolutely no shame, no principles and values nothing but attention.  Makes an ordinary narcissist like me feel bad.

Focusing on the last bit of news--the Crimea stuff, I joked on facebook and twitter that Trump was trolling me directly.  Why?  Because who cares strongly about Crimea?  Scholars of irredentism!  Ordinarily, one would look at the electorate and find some interest group, some diaspora, somebody that would favor an issue and say, aha!  Candidate x is pandering to this group.  But there really is not much of a pro-annexation of Crimea constituency in the US.  Russian-Americans as a voting bloc?  Crimean Russians as a voting bloc?  Nope, not that we can observe.  So, who is the audience for this stance?

Ok, not Satan, but could it be ... Putin?  It would seem to be the case that Trump is putting Putin's interests ahead of the American national interest committee.  Which led me to ponder whatever happened to the House Un-American Activities Committee?  Trump is promising via weakening NATO, defaulting on the debt, throwing out NAFTA, tossing aside our Asian allies, and accepting Russia's boundary changing to hurt the US in big ways, to betray American values and interests, and to make the US worse off.

One cannot really overreact to Trump--he may not be Satan, but only because the devil has far more discipline, intelligence, and organization.  I am still pretty confident that Trump will not be elected.  He is not pivoting to the center unless Russia somehow became the center of the American political system.  He is going to lose responsible Republicans. I just wish more Republicans were responsible this past year.   Trump is not going to gain more independents or wavering Democrats with these stances that tie him to Putin.  So, thanks for being a self-fulfilling prophecy, Trump, as a repeated loser. I just wish he didn't do so much damage domestically and internationally along the way.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Vacation Convention Blogging

I am on the road, so only a few quick reactions to last night's DNC first night:
  • Thanks to all of the speakers for proving my repeated point that Hillary Clinton has a far, far deeper bench than the GOP.  In one night, we got a whole series of speeches that were far better written and spoken than most, if not all, of what we heard last week.
  • I get that folks want to blame trade for their troubles, so hence the anti-TPP stuff.  But NAFTA was mostly a net good for the US (and Canada and Mexico--why is illegal immigration down from Mexico? Hmmm).  And what has really harmed manufacturing in the US?  Automation.  How is killing TPP going to stop the robots?
  • Franken might not have been as sharp as usual, but he hit heaps of good points.  Reminding everyone of the scam artist that Trump is and always has been was great.  Also, more humor in one speech than in all of last week.
  • Sarah Silverman went off script, maybe re-energizing the Bernie fans a bit much, but she was a Bernie fan for quite some time and she made it clear that it is ridiculous to not support HRC now. 
  • Cory Booker went on too long, but had enough good stuff in the speech. We can see why he was seriously considered to be VP and perhaps why he didn't get it.  
  • Elizabeth Warren had a very tough job, following Michelle Obama, so she presented a very different style that works for the left part of the party.  
  • Bernie went on too long, but he did his job--moving from his campaign to the Democrats' campaign, calling for stuff he never supported much before--HRC Presidency, Dems winning House and Senate.
  • Much better celebrities.  Eva Longoria was terrific, reminding us why people keep on giving her TV shows and why Scott Biao is C or D list at best. 
  • The disabled girl was terrific as was the victim of Trump U scam.
  • I can understand why the DNC did not save the best for last, but I can: Michelle Obama was just terrific, as everyone has said.  When the incumbent President's wife is this popular and this powerful, the team is mighty deep indeed.  
    • the key paragraph was moving from house that slaves built to her beautiful black girls playing with the dogs on the White House lawn (Bo and the other dog get mentioned!) to Malia and Sasha being able to expect women to become President thanks to Hillary Clinton.  
    • I love that she ripped Trump apart without mentioning his name, just like, um, Ted Cruz.
    • I love that she used parenting as the key line of attack, given how pretty and well spoken the Trumpkids were, where it is clear that their father had little role in it.  Indeed, we are reminded of Trump's repeated skeevy comments about how he'd like to date/fuck his daughters.
    • "When they go low, we go high."
I probably will not see as much of the convention going forward, at least not live.  But what a great start.  Oh, and the boos that the press wants to make much of?  Whatever.  No delegations walked out, no governors/senators/party luminaries did their best to dodge, duck, dive, dip or dodge their way from appearing at the convention.  This is what unity looks like for the Democrats.  And the polls show that Bernie voters will vote for HRC.   But the press, even PBS's crew, must try to play up this stuff to make things closer than they are.

Oh, and let confirmation bias be your guide on the polls since they are all over the place.  Wait until mid-August before taking them super-seriously.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Jill Stein?

Folks are tweeting at me that they are going to choose Jill Stein, of the Greens, because they don't like Hillary Clinton.  Might I suggest that they don't like America?  Ok, that is brutal, but let's consider a few things:

1) The separation between Stein and Clinton on the issues is actually quite narrow as Stein herself admitted:

So, if you care about the policies that affect Americans, then perhaps one should vote for the person who is likely to win rather than waste a vote.  There is a time for purity, and there is a time for doing what is best for the county.

2)  The other 91%?  Not great, Bob.  Banning of GMO's? Replace NAFTA?  Free tuition?  Cut defense spending by 50%?  "Restore the National Guard as the centerpiece of our defense"  hee, hee.

3)  Voting for Stein and not for HRC helps Trump.  Trump has promised to be almost everything that Stein stands against--a homophobic VP, destructive to the economy, nasty policies for immigrants and on and on.  There is a reason why African-Americans and Latinos are voting en masse for HRC and very few for Trump. 

I could say that voting for Stein is a great example of white privilege, but that would be unkind.  Trump, to put it as bluntly as I can, is essentially an existential threat to democracy, peace and prosperity.  So, voting for Stein might feel good, but is pretty much one of the worst things a progressive or left wing person can do this fall.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Surprising Sabbatical Mission: Reassuring Folks About Trump

I don't know how I have found myself with a new sabbatical assignment, but it seems to be the case.  What is it?  Reassuring folks--friends, acquaintances, people I meet in Europe and Canada, etc--that Trump will not win. 

Last night, I spoke at a synagogue as one of my colleagues had recommended me to his Rabbi.  The theme of the talk was: the Rise and Inevitable Fall of Donald Trump.  The keys to the argument were that the primaries and the general elections are two different processes, and what it takes to win the former may not be all that helpful to win the latter.  I also made arguments about the weakness of the opposition in the primary, which facilitated the ethnic outbidding that worked for Trump, and the strengths of the Clinton campaign.  Much of this should be familiar to Spew readers. 

After my talk, folks came up mostly to argue about my answer* to the Netanhayu and HRC question (will the relations be better? Yes, but not much since US and Israel have some real differences and the Dems have a multiethnic constituency that includes Jews and Muslims and pro-Palestinian folks), but several wanted to get more reassurance about Trump.  The problem is that Trump has created two sorts of fear--that whites are under assault in the US and that Trump might win.  Obviously, two different audiences are feeling these kinds of fears. 

I do think the second set of fears might be productive--getting folks to vote (including some American ex-pats in Canada who have not voted recently in the US).  Folks worry about complacency--that people are taking for granted that Hillary will win and will not vote or they can vote for a third or fourth party candidate. Um, have you talked to anyone lately?  Lots of panic.  I think concern is productive, but not sure panic is.  The good news is that Brexit happened (sorry, UK), which will do much to encourage people (yo, young folks!) to vote and not to waste votes for protest candidates.  The stakes are, indeed, mighty high.

Indeed, I started my talk by suggesting what the stakes are this time: that Trump's promises include defaulting on the debt (hellooooooo depression), breaking NATO, ripping up NAFTA, sucking up to Russia (goodbye to generations of European stability), and on and on.   I also read a key quote that references the Holocaust as Trump is, indeed, the closest thing to Hitler the US has had.  Sorry, Godwin.

But as I keep saying: HRC has a smart, disciplined, organized, funded, learning campaign, with the electoral college and demographics on her side.  What does Trump have on his side?  White supremacists, Putin, and ?

Why do I feel it is my role to reassure folks about Trump's inevitable defeat?  I am not exactly sure.  I guess I just don't want people to be so stressed out for the next four months.  Anyhow, don't take my word for it.  Just keep an eye on the fundamentals--not just the absence of major war and the presence of low inflation/low unemployment, but also that the Democrats are united and have their stars out fighting for Clinton while the Republicans are divided and sending the D team out.

*  I learned at my second job talk a long, long time ago that I should never speak in public about Israel as I do not research/study it while everyone who cares thinks they are an expert.  Does not lead to productive conversations.

Things We Knew We Now Know Better

So, Russian hackers hit the Democratic National Committee servers a month ago, Wikileaks just dumps the emails (exposing people's social security numbers), as Clinton is about to nominate her VP candidate, a day after Trump's big speech.  Hmm, what can we learn from this?

  1. Putin wants Trump to win.  Well, we knew that because Trump has been promising to gut the current international order that benefits the US and constrains Russia.  Sure, people have pointed out all the ties between Putin and the Trump campaign, calling him the Manchurian candidate.  Now, we have the most concrete evidence (although attributing hacking to the right source can be tricky) that folks in Russia want to help Trump.  Had this happened two months ago, it could have been that this an effort to help Bernie, but now there is only one possible beneficiary.
  2. Wikileaks doesn't mind carrying Putin's water.  Well, we knew that, too, but it is now more abundantly clear.  Where is the release of Trump's emails?  The RNC's?  Nope, just the Democrats.  The friends of Assange are trying to make it seem like the Democratic National Committee was biased in the primaries.  Well, duh.  Of course, it was, as Bernie had been a card carrying democrat for a few weeks/months.  Why now?  To mess with Hillary's VP choice and to mess with the Democrats' convention.  So, I have always had a low opinion of wikileaks, and this just deepens it.  Being Putin's dupes?  Not a good look.
  3. If the best dirt is that one guy wanted to raise Sanders' faith and the campaign said no, this is weak sauce.  There is probably more in the leaks, but I am not impressed.  

The only potentially striking thing about this data dump is that Putin is not being subtle.  And really, since when has Putin been subtle about anything? The old KGB guy's game is off, as the lines to draw here are abundantly clear--from Putin to Wikileaks to Trump.  That might encourage a few Bernie Bros on one side of the spectrum, but many already queasy Republicans may see this as a final straw, along with Trump's NATO statements.

Update: for more on this historical pattern/relationship, see this.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Figuring Out Trump and NATO

Why is Trump spending any time on NATO?  Why did he jam it into his speech?  Most Americans are supportive of NATO and of the United States in the alliance, so playing up the hard bargaining/protection racket stuff is not going to win votes from the majority of Americans.

Well, it fits a broader pattern which then needs explaining: the RNC convention was narrow-casting, playing to those who are already Trump fans and not trying to broaden his appeal.  There was no effort in any of the four days to appeal to independents, moderates, and disaffected Democrats except for token appeals to Bernie fans (which Bernie swatted away via twitter). 

I have two guesses about this: (a) Trump thinks that what worked for the primaries works in the general election; and/or (b) Trump thinks he does not need to get more votes beyond his base, but just simply get more of his base to turn out.

Regarding (a), Trump is such an amateur and his organization is small, thin, and mostly full of people who would never make a regular campaign's A team that they may think that the primaries and the general election are the same thing.  They aren't.  Getting pluralities in a 3-15 candidate race against people who don't want to offend one's base is one thing; getting pluralities in 50 states simultaneously (or whatever number of states gets one to 270 electoral votes) against one committed, organized candidate who can ignore/disparage/attack your base is something else entirely.

Regarding (b), I am flummoxed why Trump might think that he could get so many more disaffected whites (mostly male) to do much better than Romney in order to overcome alienating so many more "sub-groups" as Steve King put it.  Is Trump thinking that #voterfraudfraud will be so successful that getting historically low %'s of African-American and Latino-American votes will not matter?  Given recent court decisions, that would be a bad bet.  The numbers I have seen (thanks to my tweeps) indicate that Trump cannot win by just mobilizing a few more million white folks if HRC does as well as among minorities as Obama did.  Given Trump's awful stances on all these groups, she should do fine with them.

Oh, and the magical thinking of more turnout runs into a real problem: turnout requires organization and teamwork.  Having his campaign manager attack the Governor of Ohio means losing the networks and organization of the establishment in one of the most critical swing states.  Who is going to beat the bushes to get rural voters (who are, by definition, dispersed) for the Trump Campaign?   Oh, and alienating the Colorado delegation on the first day of the convention also cuts against the strategy of mobilizing more folks, as I doubt that the Colorado folks will be helping turn out Republicans for the candidate that crapped on them.

So, either way, Trump's decision to focus just on his base is going to bite him in a big way.  Which is good for me as I see my role in talking down my Democratic friends and non-Americans over the next four months.  Yes, we should not be complacent about the darkness that Trump would bring and there is some risk of him winning, but we should not panic either.  Trump is the man of fear and desperation, ceding optimism (a basic American approach) and hope to HRC and the Democrats.

Trump is Un-American

Sure, folks can look back at American history and find bits of Trump-ness in the past, but we tend to view those times as big mistakes, such as internment of the Japanese.  FDR gave into fear despite his admonition about fearing fear itself.  Yes, the US used to have a mercantilist trade policy, but that is not how we got from being a minor inconvenience to a superpower.  The international order the US created in the aftermath of World War II was surely not altruistic, but it was largely aimed at producing a better world than the one that preceded it.

Free trade?  Trade has never been completely free, but by reducing the barriers to trade, the US through bilateral deals and multilateral institutions helped the world rebound from the war and the Great Depression.  This created markets for American goods and later for American services.  It meant, ultimately, that the countries elsewhere would develop some comparative advantages, which led to declines in key sectors of the American economy.  Yes, it hurt, but we are far better off with economies that can buy the rest of our stuff, with products made elsewhere that are much less expensive than they would be protected market (clothes, ipads, cars, etc).  The decline in poverty around the world is in part due to the American fostering of trade.  Don't care about poverty elsewhere?  Well, the best way to prevent immigration, if one is intolerant, is to support economic growth elsewhere.

One of the ironies of Trump's ascension in the Republican Party is that he wants to impose tariffs on imports.  Tariff is a fancy word for TAX!  That Americans would have to pay more for the stuff that they like because there would be taxes on imports.  Where is the Republican objection to taxes now?

Security?  Yes, the US has fought wars since World War II, but entirely at our choosing and with declining costs.  Europe has been stable since 1945, first because the US deterred the Soviet Union and since because the US supported institutions such as NATO to continue to keep the peace and foster democratization.  Yes, it costs real money to keep Europe and Japan and South Korea secure, but our allies do pay AND we are not doing it out of altruism.  The American economy depends on freedom of the seas and stability in Europe and Asia (sorry, Africa).

Instead, Trump wants to undermine the security architecture and solve problems by having heaps of meetings with Putin and other autocrats he admires.  Selling out the allies to a Russian authoritarian leader is, yes, un-American.  Running alliances like protection rackets, "hey, it would be really sad if something happened to you, Estonia, if you didn't pay up ....," is not the American way.  Burden-sharing is an issue, certainly, but this is not the way to get the allies to pay the bills.  While we can be skeptical about credibility and resolve as the keys to American foreign policy, alliances do matter, and the credibility of the US commitment to its NATO partners is important.  They literally sacrificed lives for us, as they were mostly out of the fight on 9/11, but joined the US in Afghanistan anyway.

How Trump proposes to lead the US in the world is exactly what the US does not stand for.  Exploitation of allies?  Coercion of democracies (the US tries to coerce authoritarian regimes)? Striking up mercantilist deals (so much for NAFTA)?  These are not the American way.

While I remain confident that Trump will lose and probably in a landslide, the damage he is wreaking within the US via inciting violence and empowering white supremacists and outside via undermining America's standing in the world will endure past November.  And that does, indeed, make me sad.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

HRC Stances As Signs of Progress

Ok, the advent of Trump has been thoroughly depressing.  What good news can we glean from our political world?  How about Hillary Clinton focusing on the LGBT stances of the GOP and of Mike Pence?  What makes this good news?

Sure, HRC could be taking this stance because she genuinely believes that the government should not discriminate against LGBT people.  Or, one could be thinking that she is pandering to a small portion of her base. 

I cannot help but think that Clinton will only focus on issues and themes that are focus-grouped/poll-tested winners.  That is, that Clinton has many ways to attack Trump and Pence, and she has chosen to focus much of the attention on LGBT.  This kind of surprises me since it was not that long ago that the Democrats were afraid of issues relating to LGBT, that referendas in states on LGBT issues would be seen as hurting the Democrats' chances in those states due to the effect on turnout.

What has changed?  Mostly American public opinion.  The Republicans, with their heinous platform and with Pence as the poster boy of intolerance, are fighting old wars.  HRC, I am guessing, has done the homework to figure out that the polls we know about are pretty valid--that the tide has turned.  Sure, there are states and parts of states where intolerance towards LGBT play, but as Hillary Clinton looks to the patterns across the country, the need to pick up a number of battleground states, she is seeing this issue as a winner.

Yes, because I am cynical about the Clintons--that Bill always went by the polls and that Hillary is not going to base her campaign just on what is right but on what will work, I have some hope about where the country is on this.  Of course, we still have way too much support for xenophobia, for anti-Muslim stances, for racist politicians (that go by the name of Trump), but I see glimmers of progress in HRC's stances.  Given the awfulness of the GOP convention, complete with homophobia, racism, xenophobia, ignorance, hate, white supremacy, misogyny and all the rest, I will take what I can get.

Dumb, Lazy or Doesn't Care: Trump on NATO

One of the hard parts about understanding Trump is whether he is just not very bright, incredibly lazy or just doesn't care.  Of course, these are not mutually exclusive categories.  But I got to thinking about this after it came out during his VP nominee's speech that Trump had an interview with the NYT on foreign affairs, and he said stupid/ignorant stuff on NATO.  Is Trump's incompetence deliberate and strategic, or just a product of a man who does not care, is lazy, and perhaps not that smart?

Some folks are thinking that Trump doesn't want to win so most of his strange/dysfunctional/self-destructive actions/stances are purposeful because he does not care about the consequences.  I don't really buy this since the man's ego is, um, fragile, and drives much of what he does, and losing would be a blow to that ego, even if he can then blame everyone else (Trump never takes responsibility).  Still, not caring is definitely on the table. 

How about lazy? A Presidential candidate usually studies a bit before doing an interview, and this deep in the campaign should know some basic stuff about NATO and its members.  If Trump is only willing to have the US defend those that meet NATO obligations, then Estonia would be ok if the focus is on spending (at the 2% of GDP but Latvia/Lithuania are short), and all three would be deserving of defense if one factors in their Afghanistan performance.  Each country deployed a significant number of troops.  Latvia had the second highest percentage of troops deployed to available troop, and the ratios of the other two were greater than France's.*  In terms of what they did, these countries sent contingents that were, in general, far more flexible than much of Europe, leading to significant prices being paid--Estonia lost the second highest number of troops per capital, Latvia was seventh, and Lithuania was in the middle of the pack.**  One does not have to read my stuff to figure this out, but just do the basic homework.  Ah, but Trump doesn't do homework as that would require ... work.

How about dumb? Trump should know that the majority of the American public, even if it does not care that much about foreign policy during elections, supports NATO and the American commitment to its allies.  That Hillary Clinton's campaign is centered on the idea that he is unqualified to be President, so why give her more fodder?  That his party is already riven with cleavages, so why give folks leaning #neverTrump to take the next step?  At this point, Trump needs to move beyond his base, and this kind of stance does not do it at all.

Back to not caring, perhaps Trump doesn't care because he has other interests in mind.  Yes, it is pretty far out there to name Trump a fellow traveler of Putin, a dupe of our adversary.  But the evidence keeps rolling in--the economic ties, the background of his campaign manager, and the consistent stances Trump takes (a man who rarely takes consistent stances) about cutting breaks for Putin.  The funny thing about this is that eight years ago, the GOP made a big stink that Obama had some kind of links to a long irrelevant domestic terrorist (Bill Ayres). 

These days, much of the GOP seems not to care that its candidate actually supports the views of one of the most significant adversaries to American interests.  Where is the House Un-American Activities Committee when you need it?  Trump's supporters throw around the words "traitor" and "treason" quite carelessly, but giving aid and comfort to the enemy may best describe what Trump's positions are when it comes to NATO and Putin.  Yes, I went there.  Not that I am calling for Trump to be shot, unlike Trump's Veterans advisor, just that he should not get any votes from anyone who cares about America's place in the world, not to mention the security and stability of Europe (and Asia and Latin America and Africa...).

*  From Adapting in the Dust, p. 22.
*  From NATO in Afghanistan, p. 4.