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Why Trump Will Lose Decisively

By Shlomo  Maital   

Lichtman’s 9 Correct Calls

Allan Lichtman is a professor of history at the American University, in Washington DC.  He has predicted correctly the US Presidential Election,  every time,  since Ronald Reagan’s win in 1984.  He does this with a system of 13 ‘keys’, or crucial factors.

     To win, Lichtman says you need a majority of the crucial factors – at least 7 of the 13.  For this election, tomorrow, Lichtman is predicting a Biden win.  Why?  Because Trump is lacking 7 of the 13, and fulfills only 6 of the 13. 

     What is Trump missing?  Here is the list:

Key 1, Mandate Key, because of Republican losses in the midterm elections of 2018. 

Key 5, Short-Term Economic Key, because of an election-year recession.

Key 6, Long-Term Economic Key, because of the sharply negative growth this year.

Key 8, Social Unrest, because of what is raging across the land.

Key 9, Scandal, Trump is only the third American president to be impeached by the full US House of Representatives.

Key 11, Foreign/Military Success, because of the lack of an acclaimed success abroad.

Key 12, Incumbent Charisma, because Trump appeals only to a narrow base.    

     Trump claims he would have won easily had it not been for the pandemic.  Probably true, because of Key 5 and Key 6.  That would have given him 8 keys favorably, out of Lichtman’s 13, and a predicted win. 

      Could Trump have won despite the pandemic?  He could have made it close, by systematically moving beyond his ‘base’ and appealing to a broader audience.  That would only have given 7 of the 13 positives, and a very close election.  But he simply could not give up his self-worshipping narcissistic love of crowds cheering him and wearing red Trump hats.

      Footnote: a Stanford study showed that hundreds probably died, after contracting COVID-19 during crowded Trump rallies in many states, where few wore masks and stood shoulder to shoulder.  For them – Trump has been fatal.

Mental Health Impact of COVID-19: A Survey of 59 Countries

By Shlomo Maital   

  We are approaching almost a year of the coronavirus pandemic – and in virtually every country (except perhaps New Zealand, where fans are filling stadiums to watch the All-Blacks), it is beginning to wear people down.  Here are the results of  large-scale study of the mental health impact, based on a sample of 6,882 individuals in 59 countries. *

  • Elisabet Alzueta et al., “How the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed our lives: A study of psychological correlates across 59 countries”.  J. of Clinical Psychology 2020: 1-15.

Of the nearly 7,000 participants, 25.4 % reported moderate-to-severe depression,  while 19.5% reported anxiety symptoms. 

  What caused the depression?  A variety of factors:  Among them,

*  the country’s income level (higher income correlated with higher depression),  * exposure to COVID-19 (e.g. unconfirmed symptoms), * government lockdowns, * life changes (e.g. working from home); and * conflicts with other adults at home.  However, all these factors ‘explained’ (in a statistical sense) only about one-fifth of the variance in depression.

A major battle is underway between the “the cure (of the pandemic) is worse than the disease, let’s open at once” camp,  and the “you cannot heal the economy until you stamp out the damned virus” camp.  I think the latter are more right – better to severely lock down, like taking a very bitter medicine to cure an illness, to shorten the prolonged impact on mental health by failing to do so.

  It is surreal that American voters are basically being asked to choose between these two camps, Trump vs. Biden —  when the issue is really rooted in complex epidemiology and shrouded in massive uncertainty.   It is clear, however, that the science and the scientists overwhelmingly favor the “end the virus first, clamp down hard” policy. 

China – Newest Global Growth Engine?

By Shlomo Maital

    source: Bloomberg

Once, when the world economy was in trouble, there was a locomotive to pull it out of stagnation – the US economy.  After World War II, when the rest of the world was destroyed, the US supplied purchasing power through its imports.  With frequent global recessions, again the US appetite for consumer goods supplied badly-needed demand for the world.

      Today?  With an incompetent xenophobic addled President (at least for the next 13 days, or 92 days until the Inauguration), and the pandemic worsening in the US in up to two-thirds of all states —  the United States is not the locomotive but in fact the quicksand.

       Enter China,  vilified by Trump, but arguably emerging fastest and strongest from the pandemic.  China’s quarterly GDP growth rate annualized, is nearly 5%….   and that means demand for imports, especially from the Asian ecosystem at which China is at the center.   China can be at least a regional locomotive, and the effects will spread more widely.

       Why has China’s economy done a “V-shaped” recovery, when the US recovery, and that of the EU,  are far more likely to be flat-bottomed U-shaped?  

       China’s local authorities have poured easy credit and infrastructure projects into the economy; lockdown has virtually ended, and when the virus rears its head, China rapidly tests millions of people, to gain control.  

        It is possible to admire China’s economic resilience, while fiercely criticizing its flawed civil rights.  Why cannot every nation learn from other nations, embracing the good, rejecting the bad?   

        Bloomberg News shows regularly how the US economy is lagging – and the conclusion is,  you cannot jumpstart an economy without gaining nearly-full control of the virus.  The failed US administration – not just the President, but the incompetent Cabinet and advisors he has appointed, including Dr. Atlas, who espouses ‘herd immunity’ and denigrates masks —  will go down in history as one that outdid Calvin Coolidge (1928-32) in failing to see what was clearly written on the wall.

Why Rwanda Is Far Smarter Than the US –

Dealing with COVID-19

By Shlomo Maital

   Consider Rwanda. This small African country in south-central Africa, landlocked, has about 12 million people, with GDP per capita of about $2,600. This is only 4% of America’s per capita GDP. So Americans are 25 times wealthier than Rwandans…. But – is the US leader as smart as Rwanda’s, Paul Kagame?   4% as smart?

   Rwanda has struggled to move beyond the terrible massacre/genocide that occurred between April and July 1994, which killed between half a million and a million Tutsi – 70% of the total Tutsi population in Rwanda.

   Here is how Jason Beaubien, National Public Radio, described Rwanda’s success in controlling COVID-19. First the numbers:







Now Beaubien:

   “A robot introduces itself to patients in Kigali, Rwanda. The robots, used in Rwanda’s treatment centers, can screen people for COVID-19 and deliver food and medication, among other tasks. The robots were donated by the United Nations Development Program and the Rwanda Ministry of ICT and Innovation.

     “In some places in the world right now, getting tested for COVID-19 remains difficult or nearly impossible. In Rwanda, you might just get tested randomly as you’re going down the street.

     “So whenever someone is driving a vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle or even walking, everyone is asked if you wish to get tested,” says Sabin Nsanzimana, director general of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, which is the arm of the ministry of health that’s in charge of tackling COVID-19. Health officials in personal protective equipment administer the test. Nsanzimana says the testing is voluntary, although some others say refusal is frowned upon.

“The sample collection — from a swab up the nose — and filling out the contact information paperwork takes about five minutes.

“All these samples are sent that day to the lab,” Nsanzimana says. “We have a big lab here in Kigali. We have also six other labs in the other provinces.”

   “Despite being classified by the World Bank as a low-income country, and despite its limited resources, Rwanda has vowed to identify every coronavirus case. Anyone who tests positive is immediately quarantined at a dedicated COVID-19 clinic. Any contacts of that case who are deemed at high risk are also quarantined, either at a clinic or at home, until they can be tested.

     Kagame is controversial; he is accused of being dictatorial and anti-democratic. That may be.   But he and his country have done much much better than the wealthy United States, in protecting its citizens.

     Remember what President Trump called some African countries?   In 2018?   S???hole countries? Hmmm.  

Economic Recovery: We All Should Prepare for a Long Convalescence

By Shlomo Maital

How quickly will economies in the US, Canada, Japan and Europe bounce back? Will it be fast, like China, or very slow, like the US?

   Bloomberg has been tracking this key issue, using a wide variety of indicators; the visual track for 10 countries is shown in the diagram.

   It has been 5 months since these economies bottomed out, with 60% – 80% decline in the economy, owing to lockdown, in a very short period of a month or six weeks.

   So far, no matter what the national strategy (or lack of one, as in the US) —   herd immunity (Sweden), local lockdown (Italy), school-opening and back-to-normal prematurely (US) —   economies are plateau-ing, at 60% to 80% of their previous pre-pandemic level. And in most of the 10, COVID-19 is making a comeback, in a second or third wave — with the age of those infected declining sharply, as young people emerge, head to bars, and parties, and colleges – and become ill.

   And, if that isn’t bad enough, a new forecast from the leading pandemic prediction institution, at Univ. of Washington, reports this: A new long-term forecast predicts a significant acceleration in Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. as colder weather takes hold. Under the latest projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, deaths could rise to 410,000 by the end of 2020. In a worst-case scenario, there could be 620,000 fatalities, more than three times the number of Americans who have died over the past eight months. The difference between the projected and worst-case scenarios comes down to how diligent authorities are in mandating masks and social distancing, according to the report.

   Readers, fasten your seat belts. Many of us yearn for the good old days, like, those we have 6 months ago. It does not seem likely any time soon. Prepare yourself and your family for a rocky road to recovery. It will be a marathon, not a sprint. Even optimistists believe an effective vaccine won’t be available for many months – and then, how many vaccine-deniers will turn it down, lacking trust in leaders who follow politics rather than science?


Mean Culture, Mean Politics: A New Pandemic

By Shlomo Maital

  A long time ago, I stopped watching Reality shows, because they were actually Unreality shows. To raise ratings and gain viewers, shows like Survival, and Trump’s The Apprentice purposely encouraged betrayal, lying, cheating, conflict and utter cruelty, believing this is what viewers wanted to watch. This is the culture of meanness. It is not what I practice in life, nor those around me. And at the place where I work, if you behaved like the Reality shows, you would be out on your ear in minutes.

   Trump built a career in media by shouting “you’re fired!” – in the cruelest possible manner, to humiliate the candidates, on The Apprentice. Then, as President of the United States, he did the same – to his endless parade of hapless cabinet ministers. And in his recent 70-minute speech to the Republican Convention, he honed the politics of meanness, spewing hatred to the Democrats and to protesters and anyone who in any way opposed him.

   The culture of meanness, born on TV, is now succeeded by the politics of meanness and hatred. Your politics is defined by whom you hate, not whom you support and love. You seek election and re-election by fanning the flames of hatred. The ‘law and order’ mantra is a thinly-disguised slogan for hating people of color, who dare to protest and demand their rights.

   In his recent Op-Ed, New York Times columnist David Brooks paints a terrifying picture of where the politics and culture of being mean will lead us. And I have a dire prediction. Dnald J. Trump’s son Donald Jr. excelled in his Convention speech, in applying the politics of hatred, outdoing even his father (and that is very very hard to do)…and he will be the Crown Prince and successor to his vitriolic dad. So we will have a Trump fanning the flames of hatred for many many years to come (Don Jr. will be 43 in December).

     Here is an excerpt from David Brooks’ column. It is very disturbing… the way back to sanity from meanness is long, winding and difficult. Maybe even not feasible….:

“I’ve been thinking about the two families we’ve encountered over the past two weeks. The Biden family is emotionally open, rendered vulnerable by tragedy and driven by a powerful desire to connect. The Trump family is emotionally closed, isolated by enmity and driven by a powerful desire to dominate.   Occasionally this week one of the female members of the Trump family would struggle to stick her head above the muck of her family’s values and display some humanity. But Donald, Don Jr. and Eric showed no such impulse. Trump family values are mean world values. Mean world syndrome was a concept conceived in the 1970s by the communications professor George Gerbner. His idea was that people who see relentless violence on television begin to perceive the world as being more dangerous than it really is.   By the 1990s it was no longer violent programing that drove mean world culture, but reality television. That’s an entire industry designed to give the impression that human beings are inherently manipulative, selfish and petty. If you grow up watching those programs, or starring in them, naturally you believe that other people are fundamentally untrustworthy.  These days mean world culture is everywhere. It’s a siege mentality. Menace is everywhere. We’re on the brink of the cataclysm. This week’s Republican convention was a four-day cavalcade of the mean world alarmism.   Mean world thrives on fear and perpetuates itself by exaggerating fear. Its rhetorical ploy is catastrophizing and its tone is apocalyptic. The Democrats are not just wrong, many speakers asserted this week, they are “subverting our republic,” abolishing the suburbs, destroying Western civilization and establishing a Castro-style communist dictatorship. The Democrats, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said, want to “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door.” ”


How One Conference Spread the Virus to Thousands

By Shlomo Maital

   We have consistently underestimated the degree to which the novel coronavirus is contagious and able to spread rapidly. And we keep waking up to bars, schools, universities, etc. creating new hotspots.

   Now, Angus Chen, a WBUR Boston radio reporter, reports on a new study by experts at Harvard-MIT’s Broad Institute, about how an innocent conference sponsored by biotech giant Biogen, in Cambridge MA., led to thousands of infections.

   “Early in the pandemic, state health officials counted 99 coronavirus cases stemming from a fateful Biogen meeting that turned into a superspreading event. Now, new genetic evidence suggests the infections unleashed at the Cambridge biotech company’s gathering in February washed through the Boston area and rippled across the world. Overall, the data suggests the event led to 40% of all COVID-19 infections in the Boston area as of July 1, says Bronwyn MacInnis, a viral genomicist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the senior author of a new, pre-publication study that attempts to trace the viral descendants of that outbreak. That translates to tens of thousands of cases.  “It’s fair to say it’s striking. [The conference] certainly has had an impact on the trajectory of the pandemic domestically and abroad,” MacInnis says. “It’s a great example of how connected we all are, and how viruses are agnostic to how they move and who they may infect. The activities that happen in one corner of a society can have far-reaching effects on others.” “

   Is there a positive message in this super-spread episode? There is.

   President Trump’s mantra, America First, revives selfish narcissistic world views, that has alienated allies abroad. And there are significant groups outside of America who embrace this me-only view.

   Along comes the virus, and recites John Donne’s 1633 poem, and teaches us anew its message:

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thine own

Or of thine friend’s were.

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind

If the virus is not contained in California, Massachusetts will be at risk. If the virus is not contained in the US, then Germany is at risk. If the virus is not contained anywhere, then everywhere else is at risk.

Each person’s infection diminishes everyone else. For we are all involved and connected, in humankind.   Nature has conspired to teach us this lesson, in a most painful and costly manner.


Why Do Americans and the World Hate Trump –   But Israelis Love Him?

By Shlomo Maital

   Let’s run the numbers. “Do you approve of President Trump?” — Some 56% of Americans disapprove; 41% approve. So a majority of Americans DO dislike Trump.

   He is divisive, deeply so, in an unprecedented manner, and on purpose. Some 91% of Republicans approve.   Only 4% of Democrats. And 34% of Independents.

   A study by the Pew Research Center asked 36,000 people in 33 countries whether they “trust Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs”. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said, No! Only 29% said yes.

   Trump is mistrusted even more than Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.   Imagine that.

   The country that distrusts Trump the most? Mexico (89%!). Not surprising – “Build the wall!” was Trump’s mantra, still is…   Next to Mexico: Germany (85% distrust him). After that, Turkey (84%), Sweden (81%), and France and Spain (78%). Then: Canada (74%). The two nations that border on the US mistrust its leader heavily.

     This is to my knowledge unprecedented, that the American President, leader of the free world, is mistrusted and despised worldwide.

     Except – my country Israel. In Israel, 71% of the respondents said they trust Trump.

     Why? Why is Israel so out of step with the world?

     It’s very very simple. Trump has moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, and proposed a “peace plan” that royally screws the Palestinians. Israelis love this.

     What don’t they get? Israel vitally, desperately needs American support, as Russia, China and Iran wreak havoc in the Mideast. Israel needs a strong united United States, with a strong economy and cohesive democracy that is effective and competent. When the US has an Administration that is composed of kleptocratic, incompetent inexperienced Secretaries, and a President who lies only when he opens his mouth, who seeks to destroy the November election by sabotaging mail-in ballots (and he is open about this)….   Israel is in deep trouble. Trump weakens the US. A lot. And hence weakens Israel. Perhaps even existentially.

     Israel is Startup Nation, right? Are we also “Don’t get it” Nation?   I’m afraid so.   Will somebody please explain the reality to us Israelis? And soon!?

Happiness, Giving, and Creativity: 3 Insights from Hidden Brain

By Shlomo Maital

I am a big fan of a podcast, called Hidden Brain, and its founder Shankar Vedante, a Harvard psychologist. This week’s podcast is especially fascinating. It is about happiness, creativity and diversity. Here are three insights that I believe we can all learn from and apply in our lives.

  1. “materialize”.

   “Emily Balcetis, a psychology professor at New York University, knows that there’s a deep truth to these sayings. As she shows in her book Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See The World, our visual system and our behavior are linked. We can use our sight, she says, to help us make better decisions and reach our goals.”

     To think concretely about the longer term, try to materialize it – make it visual, clear, detailed, pictorial. Balcetis tells this story about Michael Phelps, and the 2008 Olympics. Phelps was competing in a 200 m. event, that would break records for gold medals. At the start his goggles filled with water. He could not see. And you do need to see, to know when to do the somersault-turn. But Phelps had ‘visualized’ and ‘materialized’. He went over this eventuality in his mind much earlier, and figured out what to do, and pictured himself doing it – count strokes. He knew exactly how many strokes would get him to the end of the pool, where he had to turn around. He counted…and turned…and won.   Balcetis shows Gen Y people photos of themselves, artificially aged, to help them think materially about saving and retirement.

   Emily Balcetis, a psychology professor at New York University, knows that there’s a deep truth to these sayings. As she shows in her book Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See The World, our visual system and our behavior are linked. We can use our sight, she says, to help us make better decisions and reach our goals.


  1. Help others. “Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn studies happiness. She says at the heart of her research is a sad idea. “Whatever we have, we tend to get used to it. So no matter how awesome our lives might be, or what wonderful things come into our lives, we tend to get used to them over time, and the pleasure that they provide gradually diminishes.”

   Dunn shows one route to happiness: Give to others, rather than to yourself. But, as Balcetis explained, “materialize”. Giving to a website won’t do it. But later in the podcaste, Vedante explains how. He cites a wonderful Canadian idea — five people can come together and sponsor a Syrian immigrant.

   “A Group of Five (G5) is five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have arranged to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada. G5s may only sponsor applicants who are recognized as refugees by either the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) or a foreign state”

The G5 are responsible for the immigrant family for a full year. Not just financially – but, meeting them at the airport, bringing them to their new home, and making many arrangements for them. Hidden Brain interviews someone in Vancouver who did this —   and it brought enormous happiness.

   Contrast Canada’s G5 idea with the Trump Administration’s xenophobic policies toward hapless immigrants, including children.

Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, 2013.


  1. Diversity and creativity. Vedfante’s Harvard colleague, economist Richard Freeman, studied whether teams of scientists that are culturally diverse were more creative than those that were culturally homogenous, uniform. He measured this through citations. The answer is: Absolutely yes. It’s not surprising.   We’ve always known that teams that have divergent thinking (many many ideas, from many perspectives) are more creative than convergent ideas from same-culture people.

Freeman, R. B., & Huang, W. (2014). Collaboration: Strength in diversity. Nature News513(7518), 305.

   I believe that creativity brings happiness. So materialize, visualize, give to others materially and in a very personal manner, and welcome diversity, seek out those very different from yourself… Hidden Brain’s recipe for happiness.  


No, Larry Kudlow, The Recovery Is NOT V-Shaped

By Shlomo Maital

Economic Activity in the World’s Major Economies

     ImPOTUS (Trump) has surrounded himself with a battery of sycophants, including his chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, who continues to insist the economic recovery will be V-shaped – sharp drop, and sharp recovery. The reason this is so destructive, is that much more stimulus is needed for the US economy – but the wrong-headed view that full recovery is imminent will prevent it. It is so painful to see crackpot economists running economic policy, when the US has stadiums full of truly brilliant economists, many of them Nobel Prize winners. The price for this folly will be heavy.

   According to Bloomberg, the economic recovery – after a disastrous 40-80% decline in economic activity — has stalled, and is plateau-ing at around 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

“The recovery has stalled in major advanced economies, with some countries hitting a ceiling on activity that is below their pre-crisis levels, according to Bloomberg Economics gauges that integrate high-frequency data such as credit-card use, travel and location information. Euro-area economies such as Germany, France and Italy, along with Norway and Japan, are closest to their pre-pandemic readings, with Spain falling behind slightly. The U.K., U.S. and Canada are still far below their levels of activity at the start of the year”.

   That is actually terrible — because it means we are in a deep recession and are remaining there. Historically, when the world economy fell into recession, the US economy was the locomotive that pulled it out of the mud, with large demand on the part of American consumers.   Today, the US is run by those who reject any idea that the US has a responsibility for other nations’ wellbeing – and even if they believed they did, they are impotent.

     What is the reason? There are two. First, governments, especially in the US, do not understand that in the absence of consumer demand, only government can fill the gap, and massive amounts of spending are required to rescue the economy.   Debt-phobia (fear of public debt) is still alive and well — but if we remain stuck at 80%, even the existing debt will be tough to service, and if we can get back to 100%, the higher debt will be repaid from new revenues generated. Second, people are scared, uncertain (justifiably so), and are not spending. 

     People are not stupid. They see the weak government policies, and the US political deadlock – and hang on to their money. Even when restaurants do open, people are simply not going to eat in them. They understand that 80% far better than many economists and leaders.  They fell it on their flesh.

     The message here is – if you are fortunate enough to have current income, and not everyone does, set aside a portion of it, because you will need it in future.   I have been telling people this for years, in good times, and now, in bad times, it is still valid, because the bad times can persist or get even worse.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital