Sunday, November 27, 2016

Arsenal Bounce Back from Early Penalty Equalizer (3-1 over Bournemouth)

Arsenal took a much needed three points at the Emirates today, triumphing 3-1 over Bournemouth after the visitors put up a valiant fight. Sanchez scored a brace and Walcott sandwiched those two goals, with Bournemouth’s goal coming on a questionable penalty by Monreal. Three thoughts on the game:

1. Arsenal Keep Up with Those Above Them: Arsenal are still undefeated since opening day, a record that has extended to an incredible 19 games. It is not even halfway to the Invincibles 49-game streak, but shows a mettle long lacking from the side. However, that streak has not been enough to usurp the three sides above them in the league or to take first place in their UCL group. Too many draws, including costly ones against Tottenham, United and PSG recently, have kept them from the summit, but the victory today provided three vital points as they kept pace with Liverpool, Chelsea and City, who all one, while further distancing themselves from Tottenham and United.

The game today could have easily gotten out of hand after their early lead evaporated after an extraordinarily poor penalty call on Nacho Monreal, who seemed to go in shoulder to shoulder with Wilson, before the Bournemouth striker flopped down dramatically. Wilson stepped up to the spot and converted easily, sending Petr Cech the wrong way in the 23rd minute. Sanchez had given the Gunners the early lead in the 12th minute, after a poor back pass was picked out and slotted past the keeper. From the moment Bournemouth equalized, their belief appeared to amplify dramatically and they had two or three good chances to jump ahead. As the half entered its final eight minutes or so, Arsenal reclaimed the impetus, without finding a strong scoring opportunity.

Arsenal continued their ascendancy early in the second half and finally jumped ahead again when a fine cross from Monreal was headed home by Walcott. The one-goal lead was perilous though, as Cech had to make a save on the line and Bournemouth continued to push for an equalizer in an increasingly techy affair. Ramsey came on for the Ox in the 75th minute and Giroud replaced Walcott a minute later. Arsenal seemed to settle from there and were on the counter several times before an excellent cutback from Giroud was slammed home by Sanchez from close range (90’+1).

The win kept the Gunners a mere three points behind Chelsea, and two behind both Liverpool and City, though with the worst goal difference of the four. With a run of winnable fixtures coming up, as well as a matchup against City, Arsenal could move even further up the table if they keep their nerve and play their best football when it counts.

2. Gunners Provide Further Proof of New Spine: for years, Arsenal have been defined by a lack of belief and consistency that has cost them opportunities to win silverware. They have a penchant for bottling it whenever they moved too close to the top coupled with a tendency to underperform in the biggest games or with the most on the line. This was not the case, of course, with their back-to-back FA Cup titles, particularly the first, when they had to come back from 2-0 down early. On the other hand, that same psychological frailty seemed to beset them again last season, when they began dropping points right after a last second victory over Leicester seemed to give them a route to the crown.

This season has been different so far. While they have drawn a few games they probably should have won, they have come back in several others, including taking the lead from behind against PSG last Wednesday and equalizing late against United the weekend before. Today, after ceding the lead and being on the back foot for a good part of the first half, they calmed down and showed an energy and flair that ultimately gave them the three points. They will now need to show that they can keep this up for an entire season, particularly with three other quality teams shaping into form at the same time.  

3. Bournemouth Look Good Bet to Stay Up: though this might be a tough one to swallow for the Cherries in the short term, it was an impressive display for much of the match and their industry and creativity in and around the final third could well have earned them a point today. They seem to be rediscovering the form that brought them up to the Premier League a season ago and now sit in 12th place, four points above the drop. They have a major offensive weapon in Calum Wilson and he is surrounded by a side that has become more stout defensively and have the offensive nous to score goals. If they can win the points they should and continue to play with the style instilled by the exciting young manager Howe, they could easily finish in the middle of the table. They will have to limit mistakes on the defensive end like the one that ceded the early deficit and finish chances presented to them, like two or three they missed out on today, but this is a side that looks unlikely to drop this season, after being odds on favorites to do so in their first season in the top flight. In fact, one could see Howe considered as a viable candidate to replace Wenger when he finally hangs up his zipper-challenged long jacket for the final time. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Arsenal Likely to Finish in Second in Group Yet Again After 2-2 Draw

Arsenal fell behind 1-0 to PSG in the first half, came back to take the lead in the second and then ceded it with a costly mistake from Iwobi. Now, given the strange rules of the UCL Group Stage, Arsenal is likely to finish second behind PSG, even as they have the same number of points and a superior goal difference. Three thoughts on the game:

1. Arsenal Falter on Biggest Stage Again: Arsenal are still undefeated since the opening day loss to Liverpool, a streak that has now extended to 18 games. And yet results over the past few weeks have stamped the momentum that inspired hopes of finally ending their title drought. Draws against Tottenham at home, a faltering United at Old Trafford and now PSG at home have tempered expectations among fans too used to second half disappointment. Against the top teams this season, Arsenal have lost to Liverpool, beaten Chelsea handily, drawn with both United and the Spurs and drawn twice with PSG.

In this game, Arsenal fell behind in the 18th minute, when Blaise Matuidi blazed down the left channel, beat Jenkinson and then Mustafi and then sent a perfect weighted pass to the hot Cavani, who finished with a toe poke in front of Koscielny. PSG were rampant and, but for a few near misses by the Uruguayan, who has made the number 9 his own in impressive fashion since Ibrahimovic jumped ship for United, could have put the game out of reach. Instead, Arsenal struck back on the cusp of halftime, with a clever reverse pass from Ozil finding Sanchez, who was clipped in the box. Giroud stepped up and added another goal to his recent streak, leveling things from the spot.

A fortuitous mistake by PSG’s Verratti in the 59th minute of a more even second half spell, sent the Gunners into a lead that would have guaranteed first place in the group. Arsenal began to sit back and a few quality chances presented themselves to Cavani, but he again fell short of expectation. That was until the 77th minute, when what looked like a harmless header from the left-hand side of a corner was steered by Iwobi past his own goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Both teams poured the pressure on for the winner, with Wenger subbing in Walcott, Ox and Xhaka, but none was forthcoming and the Gunners had to settle for a draw that makes second place their likely finishing place in the group once again, even as they have gone undefeated in their first five fixtures.

Wenger must take a little of the blame for the result, again failing to give Xhaka the start he seems to deserve at this point. Instead Ramsey and Coquelin sat in front of the back four, unable to get the team out on the break with sufficient efficiency; the absence of Cazorla continuing to be felt acutely by the side. Giroud, Ozil and Sanchez played their part, though all three snubbed a couple of quality opportunities to get in on goal. And Iwobi’s development continues to be stunted slightly by his inability to keep his cool in and around either box. His defensive skills are not the reason he is on the pitch, but one must have the sense to not tip a ball when backwards is the most likely direction it will fly. On the offensive end, he still lacks the finishing touch and poise to pick out the right pass. Mustafi, a rock since his transfer, had an off game himself, partially complicit on both goals. But a point from behind should never be excoriated with too much vigor.

2. Familiar Script Repeating Itself? On the other hand, Arsenal have finished second in their group for five years now and, of course, gone out in the Round of 16 each of those years, plus one more the season before. Since their march to the Finals in 2006, the Gunners exploits in Europe have become all too familiar – a winnable group, a slip-up and then an earlier than expected exit. Even with the great squads of the late 90s and early 2000s, Wenger was never able to accomplish what the other top managers in the game generally do, winning at least one European Cup. Given the number of top teams who could find themselves in second place – including Bayern and Real Madrid – it might not be the worst year to finish second, but Barcelona could still await them in the first round of the knockout stage, or another team that will be favored. Another early exit in the Champions league could suit them this season, if they remain in the title hunt, but would be another mark against Wenger’s rather suspect record over the past decade plus.  

3. Signs of Steel Amidst the Recent Drop-off: While it is disappointing to drop points from the mouth of victory, as they have against PSG and Tottenham in recent weeks, it is important to remember that they were outplayed early and came back to take the lead after falling behind in this game. Against United last weekend, they scored late to equalize and against Ludogorets, they came back to win after being behind 2-0 in the first half. Other comeback points and victories have occurred this season, including the last second victory over Burnley, and their only loss almost saw an even more impressive turnaround back in August.

That sort of steel is what makes champions and while more of these draws need to be turned into victories, going 18 undefeated is nothing to scoff at, particularly when they were behind in several of these games. That they have gone on this run without the services of some of their top stars, from Cazorla and Bellerin recently to earlier stints on the sideline for Ramsey, Giroud and Coquelin (among others).

Now Arsenal have a run of winnable fixtures and need to take full advantage, building momentum for the second half of the season. They can afford to drop points to City, if they can take care of Bournemouth, West Ham, Stoke, a struggling Everton, West Brom and Crystal Palace to round out the year. They also have a tricky fixture against a tough Southampton in the Capital One Cup next week and a final UCL Group Stage game at FC Basel in early December. The future could still well be bright, if Arsenal can avoid the sort of midseason drop-off that has hurt them in the past.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An American Disgrace (Part 2): The Forming Corporate State

Every day it seems the circus that is the burgeoning Trump presidency has several stories that could just as easily end up on the pages of the National Enquirer as the New York Times. In my first post-election post, I looked at some of the biggest stories since the election. Going forward, at least once a week, I will be exploring the most troubling stories emerging as we move closer to the swearing in of our first billionaire Commander in Chief.

For those interested, my analysis of the election itself is available here (a three-part series).

1. Trump Attacks on the Media: while the public meeting with the New York Times has received extensive coverage (NYT), less has been written about his private meeting the day before with heads of major media outlets. According to the Daily Mail, whose stories should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt, he excoriated the media for their dishonesty and lying regarding, apparently, not simply accepting his dishonesty and lying during the campaign (DM). Given the warnings levied by Conway against Democratic Senators and the general tenor of the campaign, one wonders if this will be an even more acrimonious relationship to the media than even that experienced under the Bush presidency. The early signs are troubling, including not including the press corps during most of his visits the days after the election, using twitter posts and You Tube videos over press conferences and, other than the New York Times, largely eschewing direct interaction with the media full stop. His belief, voiced during the campaign, that we should change the libel laws only further amplifies the stakes as we head into the most unpredictable and potentially dangerous transition of power in the history of the country.

2. Fear of Corporate State Intensify: There have been countless examples of Trump seemingly using his new position to enrich he and his family already. In fact, in the aforementioned New York Times interview, Trump proclaimed that, “As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest. That’s been reported very widely. Despite that, I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest anyway. And the laws, the president can’t. And I understand why the president can’t have a conflict of interest now because everything a president does in some ways is like a conflict of interest, but I have, I’ve built a very great company and it’s a big company and it’s all over the world.”

There are in fact rules about conflicts of interest regarding the president, particularly related to receiving gifts from foreign governments, but Trump apparently believes he is above these rules, and the long tradition of putting your assets into a true “blind trust,” not one run by your children. It potentially means that our president will be making deals with foreign countries based solely on the business interests of his companies. The hope, expressed by leading Democratic Senators, is that some GOP Senators might join them in demanding that Trump follow the tradition. My sense is don’t hold your breath.

Among the examples that have emerged so far: a) During his November 9th congratulatory call with Turkish President Erdogan, Donald Trump talked up his Turkish business partner who now seems primed to be a key intermediary between the two heads of state, b) he allegedly discussed building permits during a congratulatory call from the President of Argentina (QZ), c) he admitted to discussing wind farms that he has been trying to block with Nigel Farage, a member of European Parliament (Vox). Given his stance on conflicts of interest, we can imagine this is only the beginning, with even the conservative Wall Street Journal troubled by the implications (CNN).

3. Cabinet Choices Getting Worse by the Pick: Ben Carson, who has admitted that he probably doesn’t have the experience or temperament to serve in government (even as he, of course, ran for president) appears to be the choice to lead the HUD (WSJ). Beyond his own reservations, and those of others who had hoped Trump would choose cabinet members with more experience than his lack thereof, Carson has absolutely no experience with housing or urban development. Maybe Surgeon General would have been a better choice … or maybe just sticking with his old critiques comparing Carson to a pedophile.

Some have hailed his choice of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (. However, like Trump, Pence, Bannon, Kushner and Reince Priebus, none have any foreign policy experience at all. In an increasingly dangerous world and one that Trump did his best to alienate during the campaign, one hoped he might temper his temper with some seasoned veterans who could mend fences and ensure smooth diplomacy moving forward. Guess again on that one.

The third big announcement yesterday was that billionaire Betsy DeVos would become the Education Secretary under Trump (Forbes). DeVos is a strong advocate for vouchers and charter schools (Slate), like the Koch brothers a huge contributor to the GOP cause (TPM), at least tangentially connected to the Christian Reform movement (WP) and has little relevant experience to bring to the job (Detroit Free Press). While she seems substantially less radical than some of Trump’s other picks, the real fear here is that she will march us further along the path toward privatizing public schooling in America. Both her voucher and charter school work have worked to undermine public schools and put them in the hands of corporations and private institutions she believes will more efficiently educate our children. But as Diane Ravitch among many have effectively shown (see her book The Death & Life of the Great American School System), the accountability and choice movement is run by people with no background in education who treat American children like products on an assembly line, as if they all learn the same and a certain array of inputs will always lead to the best outputs. More than this, like the general tendency on the right over the past 35 years, is the belief that market forces are innately superior to public institutions, even when extensive positive externalities exist that do not relate to the bottom line of corporate profits.

4. Hamilton Attacks Last Weekend Red Herrings? Trump’s short lived attack on the cast of Hamilton, for their incantation to future VP Pence to actually consider the interests of ALL the people in the U.S., seemed to be a diversionary tactic to soften the coverage of two scandals that emerged at the same time. The first, regarding the now defunct for profit Trump University, was his decision to settle that lawsuit to the tune of $25 million (NYT) – breaking yet another of his campaign promises to fight that lawsuit all the way. The second, which emerged a few days later, was that the Trump Foundation admitted to violating ban on “self dealing,” thus making the often fallacious charges levied against Hillary Clinton more true for himself than the Clinton Foundation (WP). Both of these admissions of foul play from the past, are more than a red herring for what kind of administration we might expect in the future, as exemplified by his dualistic dealings so far.

5. Popular Vote, Schmopopular Vote: as Clinton’s lead over Trump in the popular vote vaulted above two million votes (a greater than 1.5 percent advantage), we entered territory not seen since 1876. That was the year Rutherford B. Hayes was allowed to steal the election from Tilden even as he appeared to lose both the popular and electoral vote. The reason? The Democrats in the South agreed to give the presidency to the Republican candidate if he would end Reconstruction, which he quickly did upon entering office. The margin today surpasses that of Gore over Bush and further exemplifies the gulf in this country between the urban centers and rural surroundings, between the educated and uneducated and between the two coasts and the rest of the country. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arsenal Secure Late Draw at Old Trafford (1-1)

In what could very well be the second to last matchup between bitter rivals Mourinho and Wenger, the two had to share the spoils after a late header from Giroud equalized the game in the 89th minutes, following a 68th minute opener from Juan Mata. Leading up to the final minute of regulation, United had dominated large stretches of the game and probably should have had it out of sight before Giroud even stepped on the pitch. They outshot the Gunners 12 to 5, with 5 shots on target compared to a solitary one (the goal) for Arsenal and garnered 10 corners to Arsenal’s 4.

The visitors did win somehow win the possession battle – 55 to 45 percent – but much of that possession was closer to midfield than the final third and lacked the creativity necessary to make that possession pay off. Three thoughts on the game:

1. Arsenal Lackluster Display Still Yields a Point: this was probably the worst display of the season for the Gunners, who lacked cohesiveness in their passing, a cutting edge in and around the final third, a solitary shot on goal until the equalizer and had a difficult time stringing together more than a few passes for long stretches of the match. Some of the blame for the performance has to reside with Wenger, who placed Coquelin and Elneny in front of the back line, cutting off the vision and range that Cazorla (out injured), Xhaka or maybe even Ramsey could have provided. Ramsey was instead slotted to the left wing, where he was largely ineffective for most of the match. In fact, for not the first time in his career, his ponderous time on the ball seemed to undermine the attack far too often.

It was also another forgettable performance for Ozil in a big game, a penchant that is starting to get a little troubling. And yet, with some excellent subs in Xhaka, Ox and Giroud, Wenger got it right in the end and earned a valuable point. However, it might be time for concern, as the Gunners have now drawn three of their past four in the league and fallen to fourth place, three points behind league leaders Chelsea and only a solitary point ahead of the Spurs, who pulled off a late comeback to earn all three points against West Ham, after trailing 2-1.

On the other hand, Arsenal now have a nice run of fixtures that, besides City on the 18th, includes Bournemouth, a struggling West Ham, Stoke, Everton, West Brom, Crystal Palace and then Bournemouth again on the 3rd of January. With some discipline, they should be at or near the top as the year turns.  

2. Hoodoo Still Remains: Wenger has one solitary win in 14 appearances against Mourinho, a Community Shield that is largely considered a slightly elevated friendly. In the other 13 appearances, which includes one Community Shield victory for Mourinho, the latter has won 7 and drawn 6. Over those games, and 20 hours of action, Arsenal scored a mere five times, while conceding 21. Wenger, in fact, hadn’t had a team of his score against a Mourinho-led side in a league game since 2007. And so, one wondered if Wenger might finally get one over on his hated rival, with Arsenal largely flying high this term and Mourinho having more growing pains than expected at his new gig with United. However, as is so often the case, Mourinho’s 11 seemed to raise their game several levels above recent performances while Arsenal played their worst game of the entire campaign. In trying to explain the first 88 minutes of the match, even Wenger admitted that maybe the side has a block when playing at Old Trafford, or against a Mourinho side. That late equalizer could play a significant role in the final position for both teams, though, if it emboldens Arsenal to get back to their winning run, while undermining United’s fragile confidence yet again.

3. United Drop Points Again: United put on one of their best performances of the season, but it was only good for a point at home, as they fell further behind the league leaders – now 9 points and an even larger gap in goal difference. Mourinho must be wondering what combination of players can finally get United scoring with regularity again, as their dominant display was only worthy of a solitary goal. One should give some credit to Arsenal, whose solid defending continued in the game except for the one lapse that led to the opener. Coquelin made some fine last second interventions, Koscielny and Mustafi were solid in the middle and Jenkinson acquitted himself better than expected, though Bellerin was sorely missed on the offensive side of the pitch. Monreal, on the other hand, had a tough game, beaten down the left side over and over again by excellent runs from Antonio Valencia and arguably guilty of a pretty strong penalty appeal.

Nonetheless, it was more dropped points from United, who had been on a poor run since the beginning of October, including a stale 0-0 draw with Liverpool, an even worse 0-0 stalemate at Old Trafford against Burnley, another draw at Old Trafford against Stoke (1-1), a crushing 4-0 loss at Chelsea and a 2-1 loss to Fenerbahce in the Europa league. Mourinho still seems unsure of his best 11, of where and how to play Paul Pogba, of what to do (if anything) with Rooney and how to set up the team for success. Some answers might have emerged in the game Saturday, as United looked dangerous with almost every foray forward and were compact and difficult to unravel on the other side of the pitch. United also have a nice run of fixtures coming up, though they do face an undefeated Tottenham on December 11 and important Europa Cup ties to ensure advancement to the knockout stage.

In the end, Mourinho might have kept up his undefeated record against Wenger in competitive matches, but Wenger left the iconic stadium Saturday afternoon feeling a lot better about his point than Mourinho did. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

An American Disgrace: Trump Presidency Coming into Focus

A conservative “populist” candidate who ran a campaign based largely on hollow promises of economic recovery, racism, sexism, xenophobia, isolationism, tax cuts for the rich and the stoking of fear has won the presidency, potentially rewriting the future of the country. It was, at minimum, a repudiation of Hillary Clinton and her uninspiring, defensive campaign. Yet one can go further to argue that reactionary politics has reached its peak in the country, with the possibility it will only get worse from here.

Given the fact that conservatives now run the White House, the entire Congress, will soon control the Supreme Court, most governorships, most statehouses and even a majority of local officials, it appears to be a rather profound rejection of the Democratic establishment and a victory for cult-of-personality populism, not far removed from fascist uprisings of the past. In fact, it is the most profoundly successful Republican election since at least the 1920s, even as many of those Republicans actively and vocally opposed him.

My analysis of the election is available here (a three-part series), but I wanted to make a few points as the future presidency of Donald J. Trump starts to take shape:

1. The Media, outside MSNBC, involved itself in a fascinating attempt to normalize a Trump presidency, even before we had what seemed a necessary conversation on why he won to begin with. This was particularly true of the usually critical 60 Minutes, which served up softball after softball last Sunday before showing Trump with first his wife and then his elder children in a tableau of normalcy far removed from the reality of his life, on and behind the camera: Vox, Media Matters, Salon. The critique has increased since, but the complicity of the media in this election is hard to ignore and one sees a war emerging between the Trump administration and mainstream media in the future.

2. Trump is already acting like an authoritarian and one imagines it will only get worse (New Republic). He and his surrogates claimed the protests going on across the country for over a week have been orchestrated by the media and has excoriated the same media, including the New York Times, for actually covering American democracy at work. His VP and campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, have warned those critiquing the election and his running mate with thinly veiled threats about undermining the First Amendment. In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday” last week, Conway characterized Reid's critical comments about Trump as "beyond the pale," and suggested that the Nevada senator be careful "in a legal sense.” (Business Insider).  

Trump has also claimed he “easily” won one of the tighter races in American history, that the electoral college isn’t that bad after all (after saying it should be repealed), that he would have won the popular vote if it mattered by spending more time in California, New York and Florida and that he now has a mandate to push through his radical agenda.

3. The selection of his team, and the circus that has defined that process so far (NYT), both provide a stark reminder of our greatest fears. Even before considering the selections so far, we should remember that one of the most virulently anti-choice (see H. B. 1337), anti-gay (see Indiana Senate Bill 101), anti-media (he planned to start a state-run, taxpayer-funded news service that would run pro-administration news and mete it out to local papers) and anti-science (intelligent design proponent and global warming doubter) politicians in the country, was chosen as his running mate and is now the man running the transition team.

His early picks for the cabinet move quickly from disappointing to downright terrifying (TNR). Myron Ebell, in charge of his EPA transition team, is an industry-supported climate denier who works for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Stephen Bannon, his chief advisor, is a right-wing provocateur who runs Breitbart, has a history of anti-Semitism, domestic assault and conspiracy theory mongering (WP). And he appears to be lining up positions for family members, even as this would break nepotism laws, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner (NYT), who has no experience in government (like Trump himself)

Trump also announced that he plans to nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general (a man deemed too racist by Republicans in the 80s to become a federal judge, who calls the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and said he thought the KKK was “okay) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director (a man who ran the Benghazi Committee, authored a report excoriating Clinton, and has close connections to the Koch brothers). And he chose the fiery retired lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn as his White House national security adviser, who has close ties to Russia, led “lock her up” cheers about Clinton during the campaign and has consistently made derogatory comments about Muslims. The three are all hardline conservatives (WP), who look poised to enact some of the most troubling of campaign promises around immigration, voting rights, policing, domestic surveillance of Muslims and other elements of the war on terror.

4. The selection of his agenda for the first 100 days as President, should be a further concern for many. He plans a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and corporations (NPR), while providing little so far in how he is going to turn around the lives of the vast majority of his voters, or the country at large (Romper). Net neutrality looks like it is in big trouble (Recode), as is the environment (Fortune). Anyone who has not an American citizen, and some who are, will live in fear until they hear about their fate. And even Medicare might be on the chopping block (TPM).

5.  Last week, Trump took credit via twitter for saving an auto plant by Ford that they never planned to be closed (TNR), continuing his troubled relationship with the truth. This follows recent stories by most major news sources worried about fake news and its potential influence on this election (NYT, Buzzfeed). With one of the leaders of the alt-right in the White House, one can assume reality will become much more akin to the variety described so vividly by The Matrix (using the ideas of Debord and Baudrillard on the Spectacle Society). One assumes the fact checkers will be earning plenty of overtime over the next four years, assuming Trump doesn’t simply buy the entire mainstream media industry with the help of his good buddy Putin.

Now Trump is taking on the cast of Hamilton, after the cast read an open letter to the Vice President-elect, after he showed up for a performance (WP).The cast said, ““We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who played Aaron Burr, reading a statement the cast members had drafted together, “But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.” Trump’s response was to call the cast “rude” and then call for a boycott of the incredibly popular play. And so that idea that Trump will not seek revenge now that he is becoming President … yeah …

These trends would be perfect fodder for a great science fiction novel, heralding the death of American democracy and the coming of a brave new world of elite prosperity. Unfortunately, they are instead a clarion call to anyone who cares about the future of the country to stand up and act to block as much of this radical shift as possible. It is not just the immigrants, Muslims, minorities and, really, women who should worry, but anyone who cares about the environment, healthcare, the elderly, our national security and economy or the possibility of our collective destruction. To the 47 percent of American voters who chose Trump … maybe be careful what you ask for in the future.