Brexit crowd had no plan for after victory, what about the GOP front runner?

June 30, 2016

So here’s a funny one. Seems folks over in England made a lot of noise about wanting to get out of the European Union and be free again. They had a vote and won. Maybe they were surprised they won. Apparently there was no plan for what to do if they won. And now they don’t know what to do and at least one British member of parliament who supported the so-called “Brexit” is blaming the current prime minister, who supported remaining in the EU, for not having a plan ready to go for the exit or Brexit.

Meanwhile, world markets have been put into turmoil and as I read it some Britons are realizing that although they were told too much of their money was going to the EU, as it turns out they will actually be losing money that would come back to Britain from the EU in the form of subsidies and trading privileges with the member nations.

I don’t pretend to fully understand the issue myself. It’s complex. But what I do kind of get is that people were dissatisfied with the status quo and decided they needed a change. But they never read the fine print. It was not available and probably the leaders of the Brexit movement never did either. Maybe they were not really serious and did not think they would win the vote for Brexit. Maybe they were just making noise to stir up the populace for their own political gains against what they saw as the establishment.

Over here in the good old USA we have a similar situation with a presumptive GOP presidential  nominee who makes a lot of noise and really says nothing of great substance. Some say he never expected to win the nomination (and he has not yet officially but apparently he will). He was just promoting his own brand. It’s just a big commercial for his commercial endeavors I guess.

But just like the Brexit movers, he has no real plan either.

p.s.

I have no real opinion on whether Great Britain should stay in the EU (their exit is not official at this time but it is presumed the government there will carry out the will of the majority of the voters). I would think, however, that it gets more good than bad out of its membership and if there are problems, such as concern over sovereignty and immigration, they could be worked out.

Oh, yes, I have read that a big part of the Brexit win was concern over the influx of foreigners somehow connected with EU membership. Many in the USA are concerned about the foreign menace and the slipping of white power (and I am a white guy writing this — I’m just describing things, not taking a stand on this issue here at this time).

 

 

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Some way-out so-called Christian pastors preaching hate…

June 28, 2016

In the morning I heard a talk show host commenting on Pope Francis’ position that the Catholic Church should apologize for its anti-homosexual (or gay) positions of the past. Well that was uplifting I guess. I mean if we are all God’s children and all…

But in the afternoon I read that some way-out-of-the-mainstream fundamentalist so-called Christian pastors, including one in Sacramento, were lamenting that the Orlando massacre gunman didn’t go far enough in killing 49 and wounding 53 at a gay nightclub.

(Much of the fundamentalist crowd these days, however, seems to be accepting homosexuals in its own way, something about hate the sin but love the sinner. And I personally am not taking a position on what is sin.)

It seems someone always wants to hate someone. It is a pity that so much of the hate in this world is done in the name of religion or God.

I think we have had more wars and killing done in the name of religion than anything else through history.

Of course these nut case deviants who profess to be Christians are just as dangerous as the most dangerous of the terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam.

We should treat these hate mongers like one super fundamental religious sect treats those who they think have erred:

We should shun them.

And although they have a right to free speech, it seems what some pastors are quoted as saying comes close to inciting violence, and I am not sure that should be covered in protected speech.

 

 

 

 

 


Hillary by all counts should win, but if not, it could be her elitism or poor choice of words…

June 26, 2016

Right now I think Hillary Clinton has the best chance to win in November. Donald Trump in many ways seems to be defeating himself. But then I could of course be wrong. The pro Remain (as opposed to Brexit) camp lost in Great Britain and it came as a shock, even though polls indicated a tight race.

But most people, even most thinking Republicans (and I don’t think that is an oxymoron), realize that Trump is not qualified to be leader of the free world (being a con man does not really get it). The GOP leadership is confused, though — on the one hand they want to win back the White House and are darn near willing to do it at all costs, but on the other hand, Trump scares them — as he should.

Anyone can see that Hillary Clinton is far more intelligent, far more well-rounded in world affairs, and much more open-minded, and therefore better able to deal with the multitude of differing viewpoints and demands from such a diverse populace — not to mention the world at large, which looks up to America as the beacon of freedom and hope (no matter what they sometimes say). And one does not have to like Hillary to see or admit this.

However, if Hillary were to lose, I think this quote I lifted out of an article on the Politico site might explain one of her problems. An unemployed coal miner put it like this:

“Trump says he’s for coal, and Hillary hates coal—and that’s a shame. Because, in my opinion, he’s a little nuts. She’s more qualified. But if she wants to take my job—then, no.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/coal-country-democrats-donald-trump-2016-213988#ixzz4CVfvyXqi

Hillary is part of the elite. And as well meaning and fair-minded as she might be, she may have lost the skill to walk in the shoes of the common folk, if she ever had it.

I mean her explanation that although she once was quoted as saying she wanted to put coal miners out of work, what she really meant was she wanted the nation to move away from dirty energy sources but at the same time ensure that workers could be retrained or transitioned into other jobs (or something like that) might not have overcome her original wording or might not seem sincere.

Easy for someone way up there to say. Ta, ta, we’ll just train you to do something else…

I provided the link to the article. The man quoted was in a Western Pennsylvania county that has a history of being solidly Democratic.

It seems that over the years the Democratic Party has seen some or much of its working class base switch to the GOP. That is not to say that the GOP is better for them, but remarks like Hillary’s or like President Obama saying  condescendingly that people in times of crisis cling to their guns and religion don’t win votes. He went on to win of course. That might be because the GOP candidate Mitt Romney alienated potential voters by implying a large segment of the population was simply looking for a government handout (I mean that might be true — but better not to say it. Every vote counts).

 


I say let’s trade goods but not trade our sovereignty…

June 24, 2016

Apparently a conservative form of populism is not just a U.S. phenomenon. Voters in the United Kingdom decided yesterday to leave the European Union (it won’t happen overnight; there is a transition period).

But at least one report I saw likened it to the backlash against elites in the U.S.

What effect this will have on the rest of the EU and the U.S. and the world I have no clue. But I thought it was curious when last night I was listening to radio and one commentator prior to the report of the results downplayed the significance of a possible “Brexit” (Britain exit), as it was called, here in the U.S. especially.

But once the vote was announced there were reports of slides in the various stock exchanges around the world and a dive of the value of the British pound sterling. As I understand it the financial markets don’t know quite what to make of it all.

The British Prime Minister announced he would resign because the nation needs new leadership as the result of the vote of the populace. Of course Great Britain has a parliamentary system, much different than our system in the U.S. But it is kind of refreshing to hear a politician say that the people are not buying his program and to see him step down voluntarily.

Anyway, I posted the following late yesterday afternoon before the votes were tallied:

 

By the time anyone reads this we will probably know the result of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and I would imagine the only people here in America who care are some business people along with news junkies like me. And I have to admit I am not as up on Brexit as I should be but I know the general story.

What I do know is that so-called free trade deals are tricky in that they provide advantages for some and not for others but are overall usually good for the economies of the participating countries.

I think the main bugaboo is sovereignty of individual nations.

To me it seems that no matter what a deal is if it does not protect the independence of nations then it is no good. I am not for so-called one-world government.

And I think that is the problem with the European Union. As I understand it, and my understanding on this is hazy, part of the goal of the EU is to go beyond lifting trade restrictions between the various nations and actually having one government, one federal government for the whole EU so it could be like the “United States of Europe”.

But unlike the United States of America, Europe is divided into many nation states representing distinct nationalities and customs.

And from my own selfish point of view, do we really want to lose the culture and color of those nations? I don’t think so and I would not think many of the people in those nations would want to either.

I do understand (from reading an article on the BBC site) that younger people tend to be more for the EU because they think it is the only way to provide employment these days in this global economy.

In the U.S. we face our own problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals. Sometimes businesses find themselves answerable not to the authorities or bureaucracy of the their own nation but of some international entity. There is a price to be paid for membership in this global market.

I work as a truck driver and as I am writing this I am waiting to pick up produce, probably from Mexico. So I know the value of trade (and I sometimes haul stuff going the other way too).

Free trade or less restricted trade is good. We don’t need international trade wars with barriers thrown up. That happened int he 1920s and we got the Great Depression.

On the other hand, let’s keep these international agreements on the subject of trade. We should not trade our sovereignty. It’s too valuable to lose.

p.s.

I realize the EU has been in existence for a long time now and Britons are voting today on whether to stay in. I recall as a kid hearing about what was usually called the “common market”. When I was stationed in Germany in the army in the late 60s and early 70s they still had the mark as their currency but now use the euro like most of the EU. Britain has held on to its pound sterling.

 

 


I thought I was a goner with Waldenstrom’s; I survived, but I don’t take anything or anyone for granted…

June 21, 2016

Yikes! It appears that it has been a year since I posted anything about my Waldenstrom’s (at least I don’t recall any posts on it recently; my mind has been on other things).

When I was diagnosed with it in 2007 I actually thought it was my death sentence, and through my chemotherapy and maybe a year beyond I was almost expecting every day would be my last.

But here I am nine years later and I feel as healthy as I ever have. I’m 66 (67 in August) and still work full time as a truck driver (actually I supposedly retired but currently I am working pretty much full time). And when I say healthy as I ever have, I mean pretty darn good. I have had good health all my life, well up until I was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia — let’s call it Waldenstrom’s or WM. It is a form of cancer.

My main symptom now is a higher-than-normal immunoglobulin M blood count (and that is usually referred to as IgM). I also have a continuing neuropathy in my feet (but it has not gotten any worse). An original symptom was uncontrolled bleeding from a sore on my tongue. That seemed to be cured by an infusion of blood factor 8 into my blood system.

I admit I never did do deep research into Waldenstrom’s, although I did read up on it some. At first I did not really want to know. I had a communication problem with my original oncologist. And he led me to believe I might have a much abbreviated life span. But I have to credit him maybe with saving my life. Had he not done the factor 8 thing, I am sure I would have bled to death. I went to the emergency room several times and no one could do anything. Well, one time an emergency room doctor stuck a needle in my tongue, injecting epinephrine. That seemed to stop the bleeding for a while. One time after a bout of bleeding and then a respite, my wife and I took a nice walk on a nice day down by the river. I was in a good mood. But later that day I was sitting at my computer and I sneezed. The bleeding started all over again.

Like I say, the bleeding would stop eventually, only to start up again. I had to stick out my tongue and use a thumb and finger to apply pressure to the wound for long periods of time until the bleeding would finally subside for a time. I swallowed one heck of a lot of blood in my sleep — and got blood all over my bedding and the bathroom sink, not to mention clothing.

However, much of my suffering, the bleeding notwithstanding, came from the effects of the treatment, chemotherapy. It made me weak and destroyed my immune system.

No one could seem to bring it back, that is until another oncologist on the advice of doctors at the University of San Francisco Hospital suggested she give me a high-dosage regimen of Prednisone. It worked. It jump started my immune system.

So nine to eight years ago or even less, I thought I was winding down my life.

So much has happened since then.

My wife, who I married when she was still 16 (a month shy of 17) died almost six years ago. Having never been to Europe except serving in Germany in the army, I have travelled to Spain twice in the last two years, and I have come some distance in learning Spanish — something I began years ago in college, but let slide. I have a better attitude at work because I appreciate being alive and well and being able to earn money, and just being able to live.

When I thought I was a goner, I would sometimes talk to my wife about things from my childhood, talking rapidly, as if I kept talking I would keep living. And once I had her drive my to a now abandoned cattle auction yard where I once sold a cow and calf. Long story but short version: when I was a teenager I had this idea I was going into the cattle business. I thought I would start with a white face heifer I bought from a rancher and go from there. She had a set of twins (thanks to the rancher’s bull), and then she had a second calf. But once I graduated from high school I was lost in life. I was not ready for college. I was not even ready for life. I got married. Sounds crazy, huh?

But we were together for almost 43 years. My wife died at 59.

And of course when you lose your spouse you can’t help but think, if only I had (yeah, you should tell your spouse how much you love her (or him, as the case may be) and do some things to demonstrate that.

And when you are healthy you take life for granted.

I sometimes think I am back to doing that now. But I know better. I lost my life partner and I thought I had lost or would shortly lose my own life.

If you have been just diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s all is not lost. Make the best of every day.

It ain’t over till it’s over.

And right now it almost seems as I might live out my expected life span after all. For the past several years I have been only going to my oncologist every six months, and my blood work always shows status quo. I still have the cancer but I am essentially in remission.

I’m not taking anything or anyone for granted. I’m trying to enjoy life every day.

p.s.

Symptoms for WM vary. Not everyone will have the same ones or all of the same ones. You usually find out you have it because you had a blood test for something else. Left unchecked, WM can weaken functions in your body, cause you to have a stroke or other problems — all possibly leading to your demise of course. There is no cure, except to keep on living and enjoy life while you can, as everyone should.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The U.S. needs to be cold and calculating in foreign interventions…

June 20, 2016

It occurs to me that the problem with U.S. military interventions is that we always try to couch them in terms of making the world safe for democracy or helping people escape some tyranny. But sometimes we just make things worse and we lose our own people and money in the process.

It’s about time we coldly assess things and do what is in our own best interests.

Let’s go back:

Just prior to our intervention in the already ongoing World War II there was a strong isolationist movement in this country. We had already gone “over there” in World War I to save the bacon of our allies in Europe, and what did those Europeans do? They began bickering all over again. There was a strong sentiment for staying out of other people’s quarrels. But of course Japan, who happened to be allied with Germany, pulled a surprise attack on us (did we kind of ask for it by putting an embargo on them? I’m just asking), and we were drawn into WWII.

But the general assessment is that it was a good thing we were because we needed to stop Hitler in Germany who darn near took over the world — Germany was actually close to developing a nuclear bomb, although we managed to prevent it from doing so (you know the story about the heavy water in Scandinavia and all?).

The United States and its allies won the war, vanquished the enemies, demanding unconditional surrender.

A baby boomer, I grew up watching WWII movies and playing army in the back yard and empty lots and even over at the high school across the street where they had some surplus WWII army trucks, complete with the big white American star on o.d. background.

When I was real little the Korean War was going on, but it was called a “police action” at the time, and then I used to watch a program on Saturday mornings, some kind of documentary show, where they spoke of the “Korean Conflict”. It seems it took history to give it war status.

I think Korea was the first different kind of war maybe. I mean we did not get total victory. We got a cease-fire and the North Koreans and their Chinese allies went back behind their lines. So, it was a victory of sorts, seeing as how the enemy had at one point pushed our side to the bottom of the Korean peninsula.

But while we fought in WWII to save the world from a madman (and the Japanese militarists too), we (the U.S. or the world) were not under direct attack in Korea. This was a geopolitical decision on our part. The U.S. had decided that it must fight the spread of communism. But even if the communist North Korea had taken over the whole peninsula, there would have been no direct threat to the U.S. They would not then be able to invade the West Coast or anything like that.

I’m using a shorthand here (I know there are many more details of history).

And the same held true for Vietnam. But we were so invested in the South Vietnamese government as our representative of democracy in Southeast Asia (even though it was not much of a democracy and had corrupt leadership) and we were so wedded to the domino theory that if one nation fell all the others would tumble like a row of dominoes, that we got mired in an unwinnable war there, which was a combination insurgency, civil war, and war of outside intervention by the old USSR and to some extent Communist China.

For public consumption or propaganda we went in to help the poor South Vietnamese people. But in reality it was a proxy war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union already locked in the “Cold War”. The two superpowers, armed with nuclear missiles were equally afraid of mutually assured self-destruction should they lob nuclear missiles at each other. So they decided to duke it out in Vietnam, sin nuclear weapons, although early on there was some speculation about using them in Vietnam and earlier in Korea. Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater did not discount the idea of using nuclear weapons but lost in a landslide, partly because of his position.

But in my mind there was no threat whatsoever presented to the United States from Vietnam. We lost the war. Vietnam is still communist, the independent South Vietnam having disappeared. And it is a fine commercial trading partner with us today.

All that worry about communism taking over, but the reality was that it defeated itself. The USSR evaporated and went back to being Russia. We have finally restored or are restoring relations with communist Cuba, which has struggled under the weight of its unworkable communist economy all these years.

Vietnam was especially cruel to my generation. American youth were expected to sacrifice their lives for what?

Today we let folks who have nothing else to do, or who need a job, or maybe who just are adventurous and brave and patriotic individuals, fight and get gravely wounded or die in foreign lands in conflicts that have nothing directly to do with us.

Yes, I know, fight them over there before they come over here.

Using the above rationale we will always be in war.

It makes no sense.

A recent memo among mostly mid-level State Department staffers urging the Obama administration to take tough action against Syrian president Assad over his continuing oppression and use of chemical weapons on his own people was in the news. President Obama has been criticized for threatening Assad with retaliation, drawing a line in the sand, and then backing down. But apparently Obama, after making the threat reconsidered and thought we should not risk getting involved in still another war. We should not do “stupid stuff” he said.

And while I think he should not have made the threat in the first place if he was not prepared to followup, I have to agree. Why should we get involved in another unwinnable war? What’s in it for us, except misery?

On the other hand, one could argue that the instability created by the tumult in Syria affects the whole world. Millions of refuges have flooded Europe, causing major problems, including social conflict and depletion of resources and security risks, because hidden within those hordes of refugees are Islamic terrorists.

Also, the civil war in Syria is enabling ISIS and other terrorists to create a base from which to spread their terror around the world, including the United States.

With all that in mind, the U.S. and other Western powers would have a clear case for going in and cleaning things up. But that seems problematic.

While the world has sympathy for the plight of civilians caught in the crossfire, we have to realize they live by different rules and culture than we do. They live in a religious and tribal social system that does not square with our modern Western norms.

I would say if they want to seek refuge in the West, then they must adapt to our norms.

And I would also say the U.S. should steer clear of nation building. It seems that it just makes things worse. We create resentment among people as we play the part of the conquerors or the well-meaning interlopers. And what is the justification of sending American soldiers into a foreign land to meddle in the affairs of others (other than for our own defense)?

But with all of this, we do face the existential threat of ISIS and like terror groups who thrive in these foreign lands among all the chaos. So if it is that justification we use to intercede than maybe so be it. But we then cannot take half steps (we always seem to want to not get our hands dirty, air power vs. ground power). We must have resolve.

But we dither and wring our hands and cannot make up our minds even while taking action. In the end, we do stupid stuff.

 

 


Going for the gun control compromise; no matter what, no one is ever out of danger…

June 17, 2016

Personally, I see no reason why ordinary citizens should be able to possess military style assault weapons, the only purpose of which is to spray bullets at rapid fire to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible (and I say people — not much good for deer hunting, that is if you want to eat your prey).

I mean maybe the only reason would be to be prepared for that one day that you joined the local militia to defy the government. Some people read that necessity into the Second Amendment. I think it is a little more complicated than that — has more to do with concerns of a far different time when the nation was not even sure it needed to have a standing army and if so who would it be composed of — the king’s men (or the president’s men) or just common everyday people.

But now I understand that even Democrats in congress pushing for stricter gun control in the wake of the Orlando massacre are not choosing to go the route of an all-out assault rifle ban, rather they want to push for a more politically palatable stricter control, such as making sure folks on watch lists and no-fly lists or those with known mental problems can’t get them.

It is reported that the attacker in Orlando was on the FBI watch list but inexplicably bought an assault rifle legally.

(It gets worse. A gun store salesman said he reported suspicions of the attacker to the FBI days before the shooting. Obviously nothing was done.)

The thinking of the Democrats, and even a parent of the Sandy Hook massacre of school children who is a gun control advocate, is that it is better to go for something that has a chance with the NRA and gun enthusiasts in general. This way something might actually get done, otherwise you just have a polarizing debate and get nowhere.

Even that crazy Republican presumptive nominee said he was going to speak to the NRA about exceptions. But then again, he says anything that comes to mind at the moment.

Of course gun control does not solve the problem, it just helps deal with it.

In Britain a 41-year-old woman who was a rising star in that nation’s parliament was stabbed and shot to death on the street after meeting with constituents in the last few days. It is not known what the motive of the assassin was — he was crazy for sure. The victim was a proponent of Britain staying in the European Union while the polls there show the so-called Brexit movement (getting out of the EU) with an advantage ahead of a vote of the public on the matter. Also the assassin had neo-Nazi ties.

Britain has strict gun controls.

There is always potential danger for lawmakers even in civilized and essentially peaceful democracies. Our own Gabby Giffords, from Arizona, was shot and seriously and permanently wounded a few years ago while meeting with her constituents.

Maybe the careful strategy on gun control, that is trying to win over the gun enthusiasts, is the best one.

But as far as I am concerned, I see no reason to allow the free flow of military weapons in society.

p.s.

I do understand the idea of keeping or carrying, say, a handgun, for personal protection, but that is problematic. I won’t go into all the ins and outs on that one, you can see them yourself.

Or maybe we all must have our own arsenal, including automatic hand guns and rifles, ready to engage in a firefight at a moment’s notice, whether in the home, on the street, in the library, at a back-to-school nights, or wherever. And if you do not see the absurdity in all that, then what is the use of me even writing anything? It would be like trying to talk sense to a Trump supporter.