The Eat Crow Tour

Lincoln -- One of the best things the national Democratic Party could do for itself, and for the country, is to take an Eat Crow Tour through regions where it did so poorly in the 2016 elections. The tour should make stops especially in the rust belt and the farm belt, in counties where Democrats once did well. The theme of the tour would not be how Democrats were cheated by Putin, or Comey, or McConnell; it would be a sincere apology for running a national campaign that did not offer, in the minds of too many, a credible alternative to the Republican ticket.

The 2016 election should have been easy. The top of the Republican ticket was headed by a man with such flaws even many die-hard Republicans had trouble accepting him. But Democrats were so tone-deaf to many regions it didn't matter. Instead of listening to the people in abandoned areas, and offering policies that related to their concerns, it offered a national campaign based on identity politics, demographics, and ridiculing the opposition. It was not a winning strategy, as some of us pointed out well in advance.

Before launching such a tour, Democrats should read Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman's insightful analyses about how they must not only offer credible policies to these populations, but how they must understand the regions' cultures. People will vote against their own interests, policy-wise, if they do not have a cultural fit with the party asking for their votes. Policy is important, but culture often supersedes policy.

In 2016, Democrats actually offered little by way of either public policy or cultural identification to huge swaths of the nation. Consider the Upper Midwest, where the agricultural economy is in big trouble, but Democrats' and Republicans' farm policy platforms were hardly distinguishable, if they existed at all. In terms of culture, Democrats failed to take advantage of the rich heritage of agrarian populism, allowing the mantle to be claimed by a Republican tied closely to big, eastern banks. Do national Democrats even know of the Cross of Gold speech, or Fighting Bob? It's time to learn, or face even more election debacles.

The goal of the Eat Crow Tour would be to get back in touch with voters who are not happy with the electoral choices they were offered in 2016, to admit responsibility more than cast blame, to listen carefully to concerns of voters, to remember cultural heritage, and to commit to better efforts in the future. This would go a long way toward being competitive again, especially with voters who were mortified about having to vote for Trump but felt there was no alternative.

Soil Health as Infrastructure, Redux

Lincoln -- Last December, I posted "Topsoil as Infrastructure," which suggested that soil health should be considered a key component of our nation's infrastructure, to be included in any Congressional legislation to rebuild the country.

In the Lincoln newspaper today, "Make Our Soil Great Again" expresses many of the same thoughts. The author, a professor at the University of Washington, writes, "...degraded agricultural soils is one of humanity’s most pressing and under-recognized natural infrastructure projects..."

It would be good to see this cause taken up by the University of Nebraska, and by Nebraska's congressional delegation. When I sent my post in December to my two senators and one representative, I got back one reply but nothing from the two others, which was disappointing. Clearly they are not thinking along these lines. This should be a bipartisan effort if there ever was one.

A Little Good News in Higher Education

Washington -- Finally, there's good news in higher education. The Maryland Legislature has passed legislation prohibiting egregious practices of scholarship displacement in student financial aid packaging in Maryland. In February of 2016 I wrote about the issue in a blog entitled Switcheroo Algorithms.

Hats are off to Central Scholarship of Maryland and to several Maryland legislators for shepherding the prohibition through the House and Senate. It will help low-income students pay for college more with grants as opposed to loans. It strikes a blow for honesty and transparency in financial aid packaging.

Here's hoping other states follow suit. Is it too much to ask that the U.S. Department of Education also crack down on scholarship displacement? It would make federal grant money go much further than it does.

Will the Senate Stand Up for Itself?

Washington -- There is a reason for Senate Democrats and even Republicans to vote against the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch. It is not based on:

• his judicial philosophy
• his unwillingness to answer questions at his confirmation hearing
• his being out of the mainstream (witness his opinion on services to handicapped children being overturned 8-0 by the Supreme Court during his hearing)
• payback for shabby treatment of Judge Garland the previous year
• partisanship

Rather, it is based on separation of powers and the system of checks and balances provided by the Constitution. When one branch overreaches, the others have remedies at their disposal. In this case, the overreach was the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, in which an activist court majority overturned Congressional legislation on campaign finance. Whereupon political organizations created "dark money" operations that have funded advertising campaigns to pressure Senators to confirm Judge Gorsuch. The result of this effort would require the Senate to change its own rules and diminish the body as an institution that protects minority rights and encourages compromise.

The remedy is for the Senate to vote no on the dark money nominee, as provided in the Constitution.

Recall a similar challenge to Congress posed by Richard Nixon when he aggressively impounded funds appropriated by Congress for programs he did not support. Had Nixon's actions not been met with resistance, Congress's power of the purse, granted by the Constitution, would have been severely undermined. Congress responded with the Budget Impoundment and Control Act of 1974, putting the executive branch back in its constitutional place, not just for the programs at issue but for the principle of separation of powers.

The Senate should do likewise on this occasion, to act on constitutional principle rather than on the merits or lack thereof of the particular nominee at issue. This is a test of the Senate as an institution and fundamentally an issue of our system of checks and balances.

Real Man March for Washington

Lincoln -- What Washington needs is a Real Man March. Thousands of Real Men could gather in view of the White House so as to provide role models for the current occupant who, try as he might, comes up short.

If you have any of the ten following attributes--even one--you qualify as a badly needed Real Man role model:

1. Veteran
2. Good Samaritan to the unfortunate
3. Not a braggart
4. Selfless in charity
5. Never stiffed contractors
6. Truth teller
7. Never filed for bankruptcy
8. Friend and protector of nature
9. Never divorced
10. Respectful and decent to all

Of course many women would also qualify as Real Men. So much the better. When do we march?

Nebraska Notables

Lincoln -- For the occasion of Nebraska's 150th statehood anniversary, the Lincoln Journal-Star put together a list of 150 "notable" Nebraskans. It was offered as a conversation starter.

Without challenging anyone who made the list, I'd observe with regret that not more scientists at the University of Nebraska are considered notable. To be sure, several of the list's notables studied at the University and made their marks in science elsewhere, but other than Charles Bessey, who was NU chancellor, scientists from the NU faculty are conspicuously absent.

Rachel Lloyd, Frederic and Edith Clements, E.F. Barbour, Ruth Leverton, and John Weaver all left their marks on the world but Nebraskans seem not to know who they were or what they did. It's too bad they and others like them have largely been forgotten. It's especially unfortunate because three on my short list are women; all six would be good role models for students who wish to become scientists.




What Would Roscoe Pound Do?

Washington and Lincoln -- The president's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries has been overturned in one fashion or another by federal courts, but likely the order will be re-issued in somewhat different form and will again come before the judiciary. There is much speculation about how courts will eventually rule, as the issue pits fundamental civil rights against the national security powers of the president.

How might Roscoe Pound have approached the question? Pound is venerated in Nebraska, a member of the state's Hall of Fame. A century ago, Pound changed American law forever with his writings on "sociological jurisprudence." He argued that the law cannot be blind to social reality. Perhaps the most famous decision employing sociological jurisprudence is Brown v. Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down school segregation by concluding that although the law on its face provided separate but equal education, it was a sociological fact that segregated schools were not equal.

Is there a social reality that likewise must be addressed in the matter of the travel ban? Yes, according to research that suggests the ban is counterproductive to national security. The argument is that the alienation created by the ban is more of a national security concern than any danger posed by vetted travelers from the selected countries. It is not the same argument that the ban is unconstitutional because it is based on a religious test. While the religious question has been raised in attempts to overturn the travel ban, the social reality question has not.

Hence the reflection on what Roscoe Pound would do. I think he would argue for consideration of the social realities involved in the travel ban, even though on the face of it the executive order creating it purports to enhance national security.

Those of the "originalist" persuasion (what we used to call strict constructionism) likely would argue against recognition of social realities in the travel ban cases. But one of the problems with the originalist position is that it has welcomed into its philosophy of jurisprudence the so-called Law and Economics Movement, which advocates for more recognition of economic realities, such as costs of legal and regulatory compliance. It is inconsistent to embrace one reality but not another.

As the travel ban is further considered by the courts, Nebraskans especially should remember the work of the state's greatest legal scholar, Roscoe Pound.

Our Nation of Refugees

Lincoln -- We are a nation of immigrants, but also of refugees if we care to look closely. Some of my ancestors were refugees twice over.

Henry and Catherine Harper Wimer left the Rhineland-Palatinate in 1771 for America. Their own forebears had previously fled the Bas-Rhin region of France because of war and religious persecution. Finding Germany no more hospitable, Henry, Catherine, and their three sons set out from Rotterdam for Philadelphia.

Henry and Catherine did not make it; they died on the voyage. Their household goods were sold in Philadelphia to pay the ship's captain. Their sons were sold into indentured servitude.

Philip Wimer, age 14, was sold to Ulrich Conrad of Dry Run, Virginia, now West Virginia. After seven years of servitude, he joined the Virginia Militia cavalry, led by Captain Peter Hull* of Augusta County. His militia participated in the Siege of Yorktown, which resulted in the capitulation of Cornwallis in 1781 and American independence.

What a great contribution my fifth great-grandfather, a refugee, made to America. Thank you, Philip Wimer. His descendants remained in West Virginia until they relocated in the 1870s and 1880s, becoming pioneers in Cass, Saunders, and Lancaster counties in Nebraska.

These days, Syrian refugees are dying at sea. A few make it to America, where they are sponsored by charities, to which I contribute in quiet memory of Henry and Catherine Wimer, who never made it to America's shores.

What is the moral of this vignette? Is it that the British should never have allowed Philip Wimer (revolutionary that he turned out to be) to come to America? No. The moral is that when people are oppressed, they seek freedom. We Americans, of all people, should know that and live by it.

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*Captain Hull was the son of Peter Thomas Hull, himself an immigrant from the Palatinate and whose daughter Catherine, Captain Hull's sister, also makes up the lineage of the Wimer-Zickafoose family (including my grandmother Ressie Mae Zickafoose) who came a century later to settle Nebraska.

Remembering Another U.S. Attack on Australia

Washington -- The incident a few days ago, in which an American president without provocation disrespected an Austrialian prime minister in their first conversation, recalls another event forty-nine years ago when U.S. airplanes actually attacked an Australian ship, HMAS Hobart, in the South China Sea.

I served in the U.S. Navy on ships operating in the South China Sea and remember HMAS Hobart well. My first ship, USS Rainier, replenished Hobart at sea in 1967. Hobart assisted in fighting the disastrous fire aboard USS Forrestal that same year, providing fire-fighting equipment and transferring her surgeon to Forrestal to try to save the injured. We on Rainier had been scheduled to replenish Forrestal but instead passed her quietly the night after the fire, as she steamed toward port at Subic Bay.

In June of 1968, aboard USS Arlington, I remember being in the same area as HMAS Hobart and USS Edson, near Tiger Island off the Vietnam DMZ. We were providing communications to so-called Market Time operations along the coast when the nearby ships came under attack around midnight. Arlington was not hit; Hobart was struck by missiles in repeated attacks. When daylight came, missile fragments showed that the source of the attack was friendly fire from the U.S. 7th Air Force. The toll: two dead and many injured aboard HMAS Hobart.

Coincidence: LCDR John McCain narrowly escaped death on Forrestal in 1967; Senator John McCain called the Australian ambassador in 2017 to try to repair the damage caused by insulting language to Australia from an American president.

Australia has been a faithful ally, a fast friend of America through good times and bad, and deserves only expressions of regret from Americans for both entirely avoidable incidents.

Governor Ricketts' Budget (Part III)

Lincoln -- Nebraska's economic outlook is looking gloomier by the day, which cannot but cast a long shadow on the state budget for the next biennium. The earlier posts of just a few days ago, Part I and Part II, already seem dated. An emergency may be at hand. The state's "rainy day" approach to budgeting may be swept away in a tsunami of catastrophic decisions at the national level.

Suggestion: The Nebraska legislature's Revenue and Appropriations committees should hold a joint hearing on the state's economic outlook, inviting Nebraska's congressional delegation to participate and to testify on actions they intend to take to stop the hemorrhaging of revenues.

Exhibit A would be the Nebraska Farm Bureau's report on what the collapse of trade agreements is costing the Nebraska economy. This needs to be supplemented by expert testimony on the importance of trade generally to the state, to include testimony from those who provide input to the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board. A new world order in which America does not lead in free trade may be imminent.

A necessary part of the hearing must be to take testimony on why, for what purpose, and in whose name Nebraska's economy is being sacrificed. Surely Nebraska voters did not wish for the outcomes that are now being forced upon us. Or is that the conclusion of our congressional delegation?

There is irony in the idea of the Nebraska state legislature attempting to get its U.S. senators to act for the benefit of the state and the needs of its economy. Before the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, U.S. senators were chosen by, and responsive to, state legislatures. Nebraska's William Jennings Bryan led the effort to elect senators by popular vote, but Bryan – a champion for the Nebraska economy if there ever was one, and a committed worker for international peace – would surely be appalled at the current turn of events.

As I write, spot prices for corn at Nebraska's grain elevators are falling close to two dollar territory; China's leader has just returned home from Davos, where he has been recognized as the new world leader in free trade. America First, or America Last?








Governor Ricketts' Budget (Part II)

Lincoln -- Nebraska has formidable budget challenges in the coming biennium. Many of them are a result of three dollar corn and wheat, and a weak agricultural economy that has no end in sight.

Part I of this post suggested paying for overdue corrections and human services bills, run up by misfeasance in previous administrations, with a new revenue stream from increases in so-called sin taxes. This would take pressure off other areas of the budget. It should include a tax on soft drinks, the reduced consumption of which would help keep Nebraskans healthier (and help hold down future government spending on health care).

Part I of this post also noted structural issues in state higher education spending. Yet cutting such spending without careful thought could be counterproductive to state economic growth. As college and university budgets are trimmed, it would be appropriate to re-invest some of these savings into areas that are closely linked to the well-being of the state's economy. One way to do this – targeting more funds to higher performing institutions – is outlined in the post "New Tool for State Higher Education Budgeting." University research and innovation doubtless need robust support as well.

But more needs to be done immediately to try to turn Nebraska's agricultural economy around. Nebraska political leaders are missing an opportunity by not pressing for soil health and conservation projects to be included in the upcoming national infrastructure rebuilding legislation. See the post "Topsoil as Infrastructure." Other states are putting together lists of projects – high speed rail and the like. Nebraska political leaders should have a long list of NRD, NRCS, Environmental Trust, and other such soil and water conservation efforts ready for inclusion in the infrastruction bill, and be ready to justify them. Such projects would provide more jobs and more lasting benefits than, say, the Keystone XL oil pipeline, yet are getting virtually no attention from Nebraska political leaders.

As for increasing grain prices, the outlook is not good. Export markets are suddenly being jeopardized by political bluster from a new White House occupant who is, at best, inexperienced in such matters and has shown no interest in farm economics. Nebraska leaders have been unwilling to push back.

There are several things Nebraska leaders could do to help grain prices. One would be to recognize that overproduction, encouraged by the current farm bill, must be curtailed. "Got to feed the world" is a slogan of those who profit from overproduction more than from any moral imperative; the damage it does is the opposite of any such imperative. Marginal lands should be taken out of production, with appropriate incentives funded in the farm bill. Grain sorghum should be encouraged as an alternative to corn; it requires fewer costly inputs to raise, requires less water, and has a potential export market to countries that do not want GE corn because of their own environmental and consumer concerns. Nebraska leaders should be working to expand these markets. Unfortunately, it's not happening.

The cold, hard facts point to a difficult biennium for the Nebraska state budget. Past mistakes have put the state in a hole in corrections and human services; the outlook for the agricultural economy is not good given unhelpful farm bills and trade upheavals; there is little sign of insightful and courageous political leadership on the horizon.





New Tool for State Higher Education Budgeting

Lincoln -- A superb new database is now available to show taxpayers how colleges and universities are performing their mission to provide access to higher education, especially to students who have trouble paying for it. Easy to use, the database offers many ways of measuring access and many ways of comparing institutions.

This should be a helpful tool for setting state appropriations for higher education. Institutions doing a good job could be rewarded, incentivizing others where there is room for improvement.

To demonstrate, look at this link for the University of Nebraska. Scroll down to "College by College" and select the column to compare it with other Nebraska institutions. Then look at the indicators and the rankings. NU looks very good on "chance a poor student has to become a rich adult," coming in second only to Creighton University. Conversely, NU does not make it into the top ten in the broader measure "overall mobility index," which looks at the likelihood a student moved up two or more income quartiles as a result of his or her education.

On the overall mobility index, here are the top ten Nebraska institutions:

1. Northeast Community College
2. Midland University
3. Mid-Plains Community College
4. Doane College
5. Western Nebraska Community College
6. Bellevue University
7. Wayne State College
8. Hastings College
9. Central Community College
10. Nebraska Wesleyan University

Note that the top college is a community college, as are four of the top ten, and that five of the top ten are private, non-profit colleges. Note only one is located in Lincoln or Omaha.

If the state is interested not only in providing higher education access, but in wealth-building by taking students from lower income brackets and moving them to higher ones, then this would be a good guide as to where to look in the state appropriations process for good investments.

Note also how these top ten are spread across the state, making for good investments in rural areas and smaller cities.

Unfortunately, the database does not include Chadron or Peru State Colleges, and it does not break down the state university so we can see how UN Kearney or UN Omaha would look if split off from UN Lincoln.

Nor is there any consideration given to in- and out-migration. Some Nebraska colleges do better than others in retaining students in the state. Such ranking are available from the U.S. Census and should be worked into any effort to use this database in making state appropriations.

How would the governor and state legislature go about modifying their current appropriations process to look at these performance and investment measures? A modest percentage of the higher education appropriations would be channeled through students rather than institutions, to favor students from lower income families who are most likely to stay in the state and to build wealth in Nebraska by moving up in the income brackets as a result of their education. Such programs already exist through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Higher Education, to include students at non-profit institutions. The appropriations through students must be sufficiently large so as to make all institutions consider them in their own admissions and student financial aid decisions.

The new database, called "Chetty" after its creator, should be used by states across the country as an accountability tool, to make certain taxpayers are getting their money's worth from higher education spending. By the same token, institutions that are doing a good job now have a powerful tool to defend against thoughtless and counterproductive budget cuts.

Governor Ricketts' Budget (Part I)

Lincoln -- Governor Ricketts has offered his state budget recommendations for the coming biennium. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of detractors. Higher education leaders say it will force up tuition; the Nebraska Farm Bureau says it does not offer enough property tax relief; the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court warns that the budget is seriously inadequate for the judiciary and corrections. Those who work in foster care are concerned that the progress of the recent past will be lost and children will suffer badly for it.

Is there anything good about the budget recommendations? Yes, compared to what a Governor Heineman or a Governor Brownback might have offered.

• There are funds at least to start dealing with the corrections mess left over from the Heineman/Bruning years of neglect and misfeasance. Chief Justice Heavican is appropriately engaged.

• The income tax cuts in the budget are subject to a trigger; that is, they don't happen unless revenues meet their targets. Kansas Governor Brownback cut taxes recklessly, based on the theory (with scant empirical evidence to support it) that more, not less revenue would result from state tax cuts. It may take Kansas decades to recover.

• The budget uses the non-political Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board's revenue assumptions. Nebraska has been wise to create such a body and to set aside "rainy day" funds to establish boundaries for responsible budgeting. The Ricketts budget may dip too far into these funds, but at least what he is doing is transparent.

The discussions around the Governor's budget recommendations also provide an opportunity for serious reflection about Nebraska's cyclical and structural budget issues. Nebraska's economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, so much so that it rises or falls based on what Congress enacts in farm bills and approves in trade treaties. Which means that a Nebraska governor must be active on these issues at the national level to make certain that Nebraska's interests are represented. For example, do farm bills promote consolidation of farms and consequently depopulate Nebraska's rural areas? (Unfortunately, they often have.) This is too complex a subject for this discussion, but it seems like a bad move for U.S. Senator Sasse to give up a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Did Governor Ricketts confer with him about this?

A structural problem in the Nebraska state budget is support for higher education. Per capita, Nebraska ranks among the highest in the nation in higher education spending. To oversimplify using a football analogy: Nebraska wants to play in the Big Ten on a Big Sky population. But it's not so simple to cut higher education spending once started. For my part, I think it is essential for taxpayers to keep up their support, especially for innovation and research in order to be able to guide the direction of these efforts toward ends that pay off for Nebraska and its economy. It is not a given that outside research dollars that might replace state tax dollars will be beneficial. Reseach integrity is even less of a given with outside funding.

So what might the legislature do in response to the Governor's budget recommendations? That could be a subject for subequent blog posts, but here is one suggestion. Deal with the corrections and human services part of the budget with a separate, additional revenue stream for a number of years until the state has recovered from the damage done in these areas by previous administrations (and legislatures). I'd raise so-called "sin taxes" on products that are not good for Nebraskans' health in any case (and where there may be behavioral, causal connections between the products and the issues the state is facing). Obviously this means higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol, on which taxes are currently comparatively low (41st and 35th in the country, respectively). Not so obvious: soft drinks, which research is showing are comparably harmful. Many of us remember the state cigarette tax hike to pay for Game and Parks projects, the Devaney Center, and the Beatrice State Home. It worked.

Such taxes would also be everyday reminders that the salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen, and when citizens are not watchful about how their state is being run, as was the case in corrections and human services, there is a price to be paid.



Call It HeritageCare

Washington -- Congress and the country are tied up in knots over what to do with Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It either needs fixes to help people pay premiums (Democrats' position), or it needs to be repealed and replaced (Republicans' position).

There is great confusion about the underlying issues. An Uber driver in Washington expressed his frustration well when he said he was all in favor of doing away with Obamacare, which he didn't like, but the politicians should be warned to keep their hands off his ACA policy, with which he was very happy.

Not to laugh–he was on to something. Names and appearances are all-important. Obamacare is actually a version of Romneycare in Massachusetts, which in turn was modeled after the health insurance proposal of the Heritage Foundation in 1990. The Heritage Foundation is a right-of-center think tank, perhaps most famous for its policy input into the first Reagan Administration.

The Heritage proposal is well worth reading, and not just to establish paternity. Note the lengthy discussion about the exclusion from taxation of employer contributions for medical insurance and care, and how it distorts health care markets and drives up costs. In 2016, this is by far the largest tax expenditure in the federal government, at $216 billion in 2016. It is a concern across the ideological spectrum.

How about this for a solution: trim back the huge, counterproductive tax expenditure, use the revenues to fix the Obamacare problems, and call it HeritageCare. Coverage is continuous, no one dies in the streets, tax-policy is reformed, and both sides can claim victory.

The vehicle would be Budget Reconciliation, with appropriate instructions to the revenue committees. Of course there would be howls of protest from corporation and unions alike, but now is the time to act. Never let a crisis go to waste.



Unanswered National Security Questions

Washington -- Try as I might to find intelligent commentary on current (and perhaps even urgent) national security issues, there seems to be little public discussion about looming problems as of January, 2017. Who in the U.S. government is working on the following questions?

• Inasmuch as Russia is actively attempting to destabilize Western Europe, what is the U.S. doing to assist our allies such as France and Germany? Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic are already under the influence or control of autocrats friendly to Russia. Will U.S. intelligence about Russian covert activities be shared with potentially vulnerable allies, or will the new, incoming U.S. president, an admirer of the Russian leader, instruct the CIA and NSA to stand down from such cooperation? Has the current president anticipated such a possibility and made advance provisions for other Western intelligence agencies such as Britain's GCHQ to be ready to come to the aid of remaining democracies in Europe?•

• Because the incoming U.S. commander-in-chief has unconventional ways of communicating his thoughts and wishes, what is being done to update communication protocols from him so as to prevent the nation's military from committing acts of war (conventional or nuclear) or the breaking of treaties that might be accidental, ill-considered, illegal, or catastrophic? Should procedures be updated to require that a national security briefing of the commander-in-chief must precede any order that would break a treaty or take the nation to war? For decades, it was a given that any U.S. commander-in-chief would be fully briefed before taking national security actions, but this can no longer be taken for granted given the incoming president's stated disdain for such briefings.

• No person in the military can be required to follow an illegal order, but how are those who have taken an oath to protect and defend the country to know the difference between orders that are legal, illegal, or something in between, to carry out a foreign policy of being unpredictable? Whatever the advantages of unpredictability and doing the unexpected to advance U.S. national security, such tactics may confound our own people as much as our adversaries.

Ordinarily, the press would have an opportunity to ask a president-elect such questions in an open press conference, uncomfortable as the questions may be. But these are not ordinary times and there may never be such an opportunity. If I know the war-gamers at DOD and State, they are grappling with these and perhaps even more troubling questions, and likely losing sleep. These are dangerous times.

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• Update: Apparently this was done.