Latin American violence and corruption threatens U.S. but we bear some of the blame…

March 31, 2019

The real crisis at the U.S. – Mexican border as I understand it is not people going around the checkpoints as much as people simply showing up at checkpoints to turn themselves in to seek asylum. We are talking whole families in many cases, trying to escape not just the poverty in Latin America but the violence inflicted upon them by gangs and by their own governments.

I know I have in the past in this space referred to reports that have shown illegal border crossings have been on a downward trend, but it is a matter of statistics and terminology used and the difference between people looking for work and those who are truly in a refugee status.

As I understand it, illegal border crossings have been on a downward trend for a decade but recently there has been a major spike in those turning themselves in to request asylum in the United States. We are talking thousands of people all at once, and it is overwhelming border authorities and our own life-sustaining resources.

And I will insert here that I doubt President Trump’s border wall project is the answer — I mean that won’t stop people from asking for asylum.

But forget that issue for the time, it may be eventually resolved by the courts and politics.

Most of these refugees are coming out of Central America. The governments there are corrupt for the most part. There is a lot of lawlessness. To fill the vacuum in the neighborhoods, gangs control things — in essence the local citizens are required to pay for protection. They even call it the tax. The gangs are the government or in some cases work with the government. The penalty for not playing along with the gang is at the least to be run out of town and more likely to be killed.

These refugees may hate to leave the place of their birth and even want to go back. I saw one story on PBS where a woman went back and started a business. But she had to give it up after she was faced with paying “the tax” to not one but three different gangs.

You don’t go to the police or the government in these countries for help, because they are mostly corrupt. They are the problem.

Latin America, from Mexico on down, has a long history of corruption — not that it has a lock on all that. I mean of course we have corruption big time in our own government or governments at all levels in the United States. But I think it is safe to say it is far worse in Latin America.

And of course I am no authority on all of that, but my understanding from reading and just life is that corruption is simply endemic in the culture in Latin America. For one thing, the history of the culture there is of a paternalistic pattern. And you have mostly the rich and the poor with precious little middle class — although some nations, maybe Argentina and Chile, have a history of more of a middle class. But still the system is of strong men (or perhaps in some cases women backed up by men) in power, be it at the seat of the national or local governments or on a farming plantation or estancia or rancho, handing out favors and support to those under them and drawing or demanding their undying allegiance for it all.

And because local officials and police are paid so little, they tend to live off the bribe (called “la mordida”, the bite).

I’m not trying to run down anyone’s culture, but what is, is what is. Example. In my job as a truck driver I once was delivering pears (or was it apples?) to the Mexican border at San Luis, Arizona (to go into Mexico). There was a long delay in unloading. I asked what the problem was. At first the Mexican receiver just gave me a blank stare but after a while he allowed as the temperature of the product was too hot (I think we were supposed to run them at 34 degrees Fahrenheit). So I asked him were they going to accept them or not. I did  not get an answer, just a shrug of the shoulders. But after some time, miraculously, without explanation, they began to unload them and I got my bills and was out of there. But later I talked to another driver, who unlike me was an owner operator — I mean I simply had my company to fall back on for direction and responsibility. He told me he ran into the same thing but slipped them some money and got the freight off.  I take it once they saw I was not good for any money they gave up. I might add I am relatively sure that there was nothing wrong with my product (I’ll never know, though). And to be fair, this could happen most anywhere I suppose, but it is expected at the border or at least not at all surprising. I had another incident where unloaders at the border tried to extort money from me. It was in the middle fo the night and right on the border but in my naiveté and innocence I just stood my ground. Looking back, and with what I know today, don’t know if I could do that now. On the other hand, have you ever been into a produce market right in the middle of our country? same thing. Everyone has their hand out from the gate people on down.

But in the past decade the gang violence in Central America in particular (well in Mexico too) has grown to extreme proportions, threatening any semblance of civilization.

So, anytime one writes about an issue today, one is nearly obliged to reference the actions of President Trump. His solution to the influx at the Mexican border: close the border (totally), don’t let anyone or anything across (that is what he is indicating) and to stop all aid to the Central American nations of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Since he just says things and is often not precise or changes his tune, no use to discuss the details here. But closing the border it would seem might do more harm to the United States than anyone else. Cross-border trade is vital to our economy. The aid is another thing. Since no doubt a lot of aid simply goes into the hands of corrupt people in the governments and out down there it may well be a prudent move. One report I saw claimed a lot of aid is not direct dollars but goes for various programs whose aim is to counter the crisis that creates the problem of violence and refugees. Even so, I see two things wrong with that: one, it apparently is not working well, and two, somehow we are still talking about money and resources (really the same thing) that drain our own economy and for what?

Unfortunately we (the U.S.) carry part of the blame for the situation in Latin America. Over the decades, dating back over a century, we plundered resources there, helped all but enslave poor people to American corporations, such as in the banana and coffee business, and worked hand-in-hand with right-wing dictatorial governments who oppressed their people. In the Cold War our excuse was that we were fighting communist insurgents, who we argued, you guessed it, would oppress their own people. We helped sow chaos and despair and now are reaping the results of it.

But I do think that a growth of the middle class in Latin America, of which there has been over the past decade or so, will make things better. We just need to do things that will help their economy and not disrupt it (and our own at the same time). We have to work with forces friendly to us in those nations. We should develop trade agreements that have strict human rights clauses in them. We should send people down there who are steeped in the Latin culture to represent us.

Bluster and threats is not the way to go.

Shooting ourselves in the foot is not either.

But apparently the refugee crisis at the border is real and it is or will heavily tax our resources. But we are America, and we have an image and responsibility to uphold to the oppressed of the world.

We have to be careful of who we let in and who we work with in the other nations and not spend good money after bad.

It’s easy to make loud and threatening and racist statements but not nearly as easy to live up to our responsibility and not endanger our own economy and way of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Failure to prosecute is not vindication; don’t let the FBI become the secret police…

March 28, 2019

If Donald Trump was a Democrat the Republicans would be howling that just because the Russia investigation did not in the eyes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller turn up sufficient evidence to indict the president does not mean he is not guilty. Yeah, they would.

Prosecutors often think someone is guilty but at the same time realize that they don’t have a strong enough case.

(Yeah, like the case of that crazy actor in the news lately who claimed he was attacked in a racial and anti-gay incident only to have the cops and prosecutors turn around and claim it was a publicity hoax but then to turn around and drop the charges — inexplicably — saying they still believe it was hoax set up by the actor. We have to assume something made them think that they could not make the case — well some say celebrities get special justice — there’s that too.)

I have already stated in the previous post that I think a big problem in the Russia collusion case was that the main-stream press (I prefer that term over “media”, but the latter may be more accurate or descriptive) mixed opinion and fact too much, hurting their credibility and ending up with them having egg on their face when everything fell flat. I mean in the run-up to the submittal of Mueller’s report it was broadly hinted, well sometimes even stated I think, that the investigators had the goods on the president and that he was going down and shaking in his boots (shoes?).

I think it’s almost like in the run-up to the Iraq War when George W. Bush’s administration claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, broadly interpreted as meaning nuclear weapons or their components. When others supposedly in the know would point out that no such evidence existed I would hear people say “the president knows things we don’t”. Wonders of wonders, W. didn’t. Know things that we did not know (at least not on WMDs).

But in the Russia investigation we did find out a lot of things, and we have to wonder why Trump et al are so cozy with Russia and visa versa. Apparently Vladimir Putin really does not like Hillary Clinton (he could stand in line for that I guess — sorry Hillary, you’re likable enough or whatever Obama said — I just could not resist). Also it is established that Trump and his cohorts have a history of business deals or arrangements with the Russians. The Russians saw a chance to get some U.S. sanctions against them lifted and for Trump to hopefully look the other way in their aggressive moves on Ukraine and elsewhere.

But on the question of whether the Trump people and/or Trump himself actively did a quid pro quo or whether they worked hand in hand in election dirty tricks against Hillary Clinton, it seems there was no smoking gun or conclusive evidence.

And one has to realize that Hillary Clinton’s campaign may have gotten the ball rolling by trying to find dirt on Trump via the Russians. The infamous Pee Tape that no one has ever seen but is much discussed as if it were fact.

Politics is a dirty slimy business.

Well we knew Trump was a snake. We still know it. So now what?

We depend upon a free press to enlighten us and know which bums to throw out or where public outrage or support should be placed. But we must have confidence in it. I think some of the major outlets which we depend upon have let us down a little by making themselves vulnerable to attack by Trump over claims of bias. I don’t say that most of the reports on this whole affair were full of bias — but even if verifiable facts are presented, tone can mean a lot too.

CNN for one has become the FOX News of the left. I know it was burned early on in the Trump administration for trying to simply report the news without the FOX or Trump spin. Trump threatened CNN and others who would not print or broadcast their stories in accordance with his approval. That is not a free press. The New York Times was disparaged and threatened too. I think both CNN and the Times and others, while bringing us important information and, the Times in particular, doing invaluable investigative reporting, still erred in, possibly, presentation sometimes.

But then again, how much of what was reported was not true? I think most was accurate.

So now we know and we, as the electorate, can make our judgments accordingly.

I for one will stick with the mainstream press.

And gee I must add, although the Russia investigation has been brought to a conclusion, so far all we have is the spin given by the Trump administration. The accused get to write the narrative. The Mueller report has not yet been made public.

The congress may delve further, but it is beginning to look as if it would be wasted effort on the part of the Democrats. Maybe the diversion of the Russian investigation has worked in some ways to the favor of the Republicans and Trump. It has allowed them to skate by other public concerns.

Here’s something of major concern to me in all of this:

Is the FBI kind of like the American version of the KGB or secret police? I would prefer that the FBI stray away from politics. Investigating political campaigns, be they Trump or Clinton, is chilling to democracy. Where there is a serious crime, of course, there is a duty to investigate. But we don’t want law enforcement to become another separate branch of government, and we don’t want a president siccing the FBI on people (Nixon like).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mueller report result so far shows news and commentary should be separate, like when mixing cleaning solvents they can blow up in your face…

March 25, 2019

Who knew?

President Donald Trump dogged for two years and more of his presidency by the Russia investigation by Special Council Robert Mueller, constant news of which seemed to indicate that our president conspired with the Russians to get into the White House in a propaganda campaign, primarily on social media, and assisted by the hacking the opposition’s emails, is now going to turn the whole affair around and use it as a weapon against his detractors.

That is what he and his supporters promise.

And I should mention evidence gathered along the way points to an attempt to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow and an agreement by Trump associates (and perhaps Trump himself) to go easy on sanctions against Russia, supposedly our enemy for its aggressive moves, primarily against Ukraine. Trump cuts them slack and they repay the favor.

But in the end, an over-eager CNN and New York Times and others heavily blended their straight and quite legitimate, and important, straight news reporting with partisan or ideological commentary. Both of these things, news reporting and commentary, are important, a fundamental of true democracy I would say, but mixing them is dangerous. It’s kind of like mixing two different kinds of cleaning solvents together with the result of an unwanted chemical reaction. Separately they work well, together they blow up in your face.

Lots of folks can be fooled and others just want to be, so they stick to one-sided news sources that preach to the choir.

Heretofore respected news sources lose credibility by slanted coverage or too much emphasis in headlines and in the body of the story on one side of an issue. That does not mean that the press should be meek and mild, that would be a tragedy. But balance is important. How do you balance bald-faced lies? Good question. I guess you just gently insert some background.

There is a hybrid of sorts between straight news reporting and opinion. It’s called “analysis”. And we need more of it. But it is a short step from analysis to bias or stacking the deck. No one should think good journalism is easy.

I worked in that field once and the old saw was if both sides of an issue complain that you are biased you are probably presenting a balanced account — you’re doing your job.

Back to the still mysterious Mueller report: while not really public yet (and might not be ever or for a long time), even so, the much-anticipated report has fallen flat, that is from what has been hinted at in a summary, not even done by Mueller himself but Trump’s attorney general (might he be reading it to favor Trump?).

The Mueller report we are told calls for no new indictments and no action against Trump. Trump claims it exonerates him. The Democrats say no and they want to see the whole report and want the public to as well. I say, yeah let’s see it all for sure. But so far it seems in essence, right or wrong, one might as well conclude Trump is off the hook.

I suspect a lot of nefarious things took place, including treason, but there seems to be no smoking gun. Even if there is one wonders if denial and the fact that Trump is a pathological liar and everyone (even his supporters I am sure) knows this, will end up working in Trump’s favor. For some reason liars get away with lying better than those who are basically honest but try to lie at some point.

(By the way, my mom once said that I was a better liar than my siblings. Thanks mom.)

And what is bizarre is that the actual Mueller report has not been made public or even been released to the congress. Attorney General William Barr, a person who basically uses Nixon’s line that if the president does it is legal, has so far just hurriedly written a summary over this past weekend after the Mueller report was issued on Friday.

What is maybe the most galling in all of this is that while at least two of Trump’s henchmen are going to jail over crimes that arose out of the Russia investigation, Trump is insulated. He was not even questioned in person. He submitted some written answers.

Like the big boys always tell you: “if anything happens I know nothing about it”.

Congress will have the last say. It can and may well hold hearings and could go for impeachment, but conviction in the Republican-controlled senate seems all but impossible.

No, the way to beat Trump is at the ballot box. It always was.

Participation is the key. Even the Electoral College can’t beat fired-up voters.

 

 


Now that it’s done, the Mueller Report, will there be a smoking gun? If not, it may accrue to Trump’s favor…

March 22, 2019

Psst, pass it on. The Mueller report has been submitted.

But even though this thing has all but consumed our federal government and politics for two years now — the length of Donald Trump’s presidency — we, the public, whose interest the whole thing is supposed to be in, will not see it until the powers that be let us. And then we may only get to see part of it. I don’t know.

My initial thought here is that as bad as Trump has been and continues to be for our nation, for our freedoms, for our security, for our self-respect in the world, unless there is a smoking gun the ironic thing is that this report might actually help Trump. Heck he could cruise through the 2020 election to a landslide unless the Democrats manage to dangle a bright and shiny enough object before the voters that catches their fickle fancy — like maybe a big white-toothed Beto, or this gay but down to earth phenom I’ve just been reading about, Pete Buttigieg (booty edge edge), or perhaps the flashy, effervescent Kamala Harris, as the first female and woman of color president.

Even though Special Council Robert Muller kept mum during this time and was lauded for his secrecy — not indicting anyone, especially not the president, before the facts were in — it has seemed that there has been a titillating revelation out of the investigation each week, except that when said in done just led us in circles.

What do lawyers say? Like chasing a rabbit?

And yes, back there where I said there have been no indictments I guess I meant of the president. I know others have been but really on indirect matters not the central question of did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians in the 2016 presidential campaign. Oh, there were some Russians indicted who are not likely to show up here for court proceedings.

My background on all this is getting a bit confused. But it seems to me that as much as we have all heard or read about this thing, unless it can be shown that the president took an active part in all this — evidence beyond a reasonable doubt or better (like a Nixon tape), it probably works more to Trump’s advantage. He can use all of the hoopla over the past two years and call it proof that the Democrats were just out to get him, spewing malicious gossip and lies — fake news as it were.

But over the next day or week — not too long I hope — we will see what happens.

P.s.

So after posting the above, I read a New York Times story and ran across the following, adding to my suspicion that anything less than a smoking gun will not likely hurt Trump (keep in mind this is just part of the story not a conclusion):

  1. …that anything short of a taped telephone conversation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may be interpreted as exoneration.


Solve illegal immigration by making much of it legal

March 19, 2019

A lot of the illegal immigration problem, to the extent it is a problem, could be solved my making it legal.

I know, kind of sounds like solving the drug problem by making drugs legal.

But stay with me. I mean I don’t think, as an example, making pot legal has been or will be the cure-all — turns out a black market is still a black market. Non-taxed pot is cheaper.

So let’s not use that analogy.

But could we stop this insane two-faced approach to illegal immigration that has been going on all of my 69 years and much longer?

On the one hand this nation (USA) quite knowingly offers employment to undocumented workers with one face and then rounds them up for deportation with the other, or at the very least disparages them.

The dirty little secret that is no secret is that undocumented workers tend to work cheaper than domestic ones and are hard-pressed to complain about pay or working conditions because of their precarious state.

And that is not to say that all undocumented workers are paid poorly or have poor working conditions but at the least it sure takes care of a lot of the bothersome and costly paper work for employers, who all knowingly hire undocumented workers with a wink, wink, and a nod, nod, and who likely justify their actions by claiming they are the only available workforce.

As a society we need to be honest. Undocumented workers often do fill a void in the labor pool but human decency demands that they be paid on a fair scale and be given the same workplace protections as anyone else.

Employers love to use the threat that doing away with the supply of undocumented labor would make your groceries and other products cost more. I say let it happen. No I don’t want to pay more for things if I don’t have to, but who am I to say that some undocumented worker has to work for less to subsidize my standard of living?

Due to minimum wage and various public assistance programs along with probably a change of culture among the working class, much of the lower-scale work or maybe I should say hard work has gone to undocumented workers.

In some respects the employment offered to undocumented workers is at least an opportunity for people (undocumented as they may be) to improve their standard of living. But at the same time it tends to depress wages for others.

In some areas undocumented workers are involved in trades. For example, an employer might say: why hire union-scale journeymen carpenters, why not hire undocumented workers? The work can be broken down a little where those without full journeyman skill can do portions of the work without having to possess the skill to do the complete job.  Perhaps hire more people but at a much lower wage. And all of this might be done with legal workers too, another way to depress wages, with perhaps a reduction in quality and safety.

There is always something that gets me to return to this subject (of which I have written many times previous). This time it was a story about dairy farmers and others in New York State facing a shortage of labor because of the Trump administration’s crack down on illegal immigrants. A farm worker gets a traffic ticket and suddenly ICE is upon him, and now he faces deportation, even though he might have been peacefully working for years — a productive and law-abiding member of society, and even with children born here and thus legal in the USA.

Ironically, many of those farmers supported Trump in the election and still do on many things (at least according to the story).

But some of the farmers have turned to a solution the government offers, a special work visa program. But it can be complicated and carries various restrictions with it.

You know, I would say this to any employer, be he or she a small farmer, a big farmer, or a producer of anything: quit being hypocritical and so selfishly opportunistic. Workers deserve a decent wage and working conditions. And they should not have to work on a different set of rules than others.

I’m all for the free market, but I don’t think it is a good thing for society to force one segment of people to subsidize the rest of us.

Some will say to have to comply with labor and health and safety laws would put them out of business. I say: maybe you are not cut out for business or you should change your business model.

Not long after I read the one story I read another about a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court where undocumented workers were charged and imprisoned for using false social security numbers (identity theft). While there is a federal law that prohibits immigration action if the information comes off of a certain federal form (and why I don’t know), state authorities got wind of it and charged them. Now while I would side with the state — I mean if you are stealing identity that is a crime and you should be prosecuted — on the other hand if undocumented workers could work legally there would be no problem.

What I am trying to say is there ought to be an easier and more convenient method for people from other nations to work here in the USA if they can show a job offered to them and if the employer can demonstrate the lack of available labor. But available does not necessarily mean “cheap labor”.

But don’t misunderstand me. I would not propose that the government should set labor rates. I’m not even sure I see the advisability or utility of a minimum wage. Possibly better for the free market, an interchange between employers and workers, to determine wages. But depending upon a cheap and docile force of illegal immigrants is not a free market.

However, even with what I have stated I can see simply opening up the borders on the basis of work offered is a problem. Due to conditions in other parts of the hemisphere and the world we could be flooded with masses of people in search of anything and everything. We would not be able to handle the overflow. And we do want to maintain our unique American identity, the blend that it is but still a unique culture with its history of the promise of freedom and opportunity and free expression. I just wonder, though, if many of us really understand and can defend our immigration system and whether it is fair and equitable to all people.

p.s.

The flow of dangerous characters among illegal immigrants is a serious concern and I don’t believe law enforcement should be impeded in apprehending such people but that is all I can say on that.

 

 


They come out of nowhere to become president of the United States…

March 16, 2019

They come out of the blue and wind up president of the United States.

Whoever heard of John  F. Kennedy (JFK) when he decided to run for president? He had done little to nothing to distinguish himself in the public eye at the time he decided to run for the highest office in the land. Yeah, he was a young freshman U.S. Senator and had been a congressman. But he had his youth (well he was in his early 40s), a new fresh face in a nation led by old men.

And we darn sure knew nothing about Jimmy Carter (unless you lived in Georgia). But the whole nation was sick of the legacy of Tricky Dick Nixon and his Watergate scandal. Jimmy promised never to lie to us. By the time his one term was over many wished he would lie and tell us it all really was not so.

Bill Clinton of course also came out of obscurity, well Arkansas, same difference (just a joke there, sorry), and smiled and bit his lip and drawled his way into the White House — two times. A third-party candidacy by the goofy Ross Perot helped split the vote, thus helping Clinton.

We knew nothing of George W. Bush, except for his daddy’s name and reputation.

And a real come out of nowhere with no national experience was Barack Obama. I am not an Obama basher. In fact, I think he probably did a fairly good job as president — not perfect by any means. Who is or was? But what qualified him to be president anyway?

And now we really have a come from out of nowhere phenom. Beto. What the heck is a Beto? I ask, kind of rhetorically. As I understand it, in this case, it is an Hispanic nickname that was given to a non-Hispanic man who is apparently fluent in Spanish nonetheless. His name is Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke. He is from El Paso, Tx. He served three terms in congress. His claim to fame is he lost a U.S. Senate race to Ted Cruz, but it was a close race. He was born in 1972. A mere baby, well not really. I feel so old.

He’s also done some local politics in El Paso. In congress he is reported to have gone along with his own party, Democratic, most of the time but not all the time. In fact his political history seems to be not tied to hard and fast party or ideological affiliation or positions. That could be either good because he is open-minded and not so rigid that he would turn down something that works or bad in that he just goes which ever way the wind blows to get elected and retain office and get those campaign dollars.

But Beto is a certified phenom. I heard him say on PBS, while campaigning in Iowa, “I want to show up everywhere for everyone”. No identity politics there (whatever that is). So he promises to please everyone. Good luck with that.

Reportedly, O’Rourke and his wife have a net worth of $8.9 million. They were in software among other things.

He is supposedly a star fund raiser with relatively small donations. He’s into the internet and social media I guess.

But what really gives me pause to these come out of nowhere guys is: what the heck do they know about foreign policy? Sure domestic policy is important, but we have state governors and legislatures and congress for a lot of that. We are a world power and the end of the Cold War did not bring us an era of peace as we had hoped. If anything it is even more dangerous now.

We have Russia and China and Iran and even North Korea (weak as it may be, but nuclear armed) to deal with, not to mention terrorists world wide who through the wonders of modern technology can threaten our very being.

But currently we are suffering or suffering from a president who seems intent on making enemies of our allies as if we needed more enemies and no friends.

So a guy like Beto, for instance, may be young and full of energy, handsome, and even well meaning, but what the heck does he know? What experience on the world stage does he have? And could he cut it going head-to-head or toe-to-toe with high-level adversaries on the world stage?

I was maybe a little too young to understand at the time, but JFK was outmatched and overwhelmed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at the one summit meeting the two had. Eventually, though, JFK stood up to him during the Cuban Missile Crisis but that may have never happened if Mr. K had not thought Mr. JFK was weak.

Worse than that, JFK had barely begun his presidency when he entered into one of the biggest foreign policy blunders of all time (before George W. Bush’s move into Iraq), the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Some historians say he was set up by the former Eisenhower administration who had made the plans. But JFK was president. He could have nixed it. He had our government back anti-Castro forces but supposedly in secret, but the only people we were fooling was ourselves. It was a fiasco and JFK decided not to give the anti-Castro forces air cover because I guess it would have been no use. The whole mission was ill-conceived.

Obama infamously drew the line in the sand for Bashar al-Assad in Syria to not deploy chemical weapons against his own people again but he did, many times more, and Obama did nothing (curiously he could not get the Republicans to approve of him doing anything but they still blamed him for doing nothing — go figure). I have written that so many times, about Obama backing down, and I probably am guilty of not including all the facts to put it all into context or proper perspective — but still he goofed. Better not to draw lines in the sand and paint yourself into a corner. But that is what inexperience does.

And although Donald Trump was well-known in the world of tabloid gossip and that strange and wacky universe of the so-called “reality television” (of which I have never watched — well only to get a hint of what it is — and hope never to watch at any length), he knew nothing of serious issues of the day, especially not foreign policy. I mean if you are into idiotic bluster and making enemies, then you might be pleased. I am not.

But okay so how does one get experience in foreign policy before he or she runs for president? Good question. You could be Supreme Allied Commander in World War II (Eisenhower), a vice president who concentrated on making calls to other nations (Nixon), a grade B movie star with a knack for knowing your lines (Reagan), a World War II veteran with international business connections and a stint as director of the CIA (George HW Bush) — well anyway, you get experience where it is available and benefit from pure timing I suppose.

No seriously, I would just like to see some bon fides among presidential candidates when it comes to foreign policy acumen. If they are well read and up on the issues that might be enough. But if they can’t even find some of these countries on the map, such as some of our candidates and even presidents have not been able to do, I have to be concerned.

And Beto will have to show that he is more than a phenom to impress me. I can only hope others feel that way too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Don’t wish to go it alone in the world, you might get your wish and not like it…

March 15, 2019

In the past I have toyed with the idea that the United States should concentrate on producing more of its own stuff and relying less on imports, thus making use of our abundant resources and land surface while providing increased employment opportunities to our own people.

While I still think that I also have to acknowledge that in reality world trade is as old as the Bible and of course is mentioned in one way or the other in various parts of the Christian holy book.

And world trade is what kept our original 13 colonies going and what gives us our goodies and wealth today.

I mention this because I continue to wonder what Great Britain or the United Kingdom (UK) as it is known is going to end up doing or suffering from in its seemingly misguided move to pull out of the European Union.

If I am describing it right, some populists came along and convinced enough of the electorate there that they were losing their rights and identity to the EU government in Brussels.

So in a referendum just over half of the voters there called for the UK to drop out of the EU.

But then the law of unintended consequences came into view. It could have disastrous effects on businesses in the UK who trade in the EU and world-wide. And in Scotland, where there is already a movement to become independent from the UK, Britain exiting the EU, “Brexit” as the move is called, might be the last straw, for the EU is more popular in Scotland.

And just when it seemed “the troubles” (the long and bloody conflict) were a thing of the distant pass between Ireland and Northern Ireland aligned with the UK, Brexit threatens to throw the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland into chaos because the independent nation of Ireland would still be part of the European Union but Northern Ireland, part of the UK, would not.

And this ties in with the idea of U.S. President Donald Trump wanting to pull out of world trade agreements and renegotiate in a my way or the highway fashion.

He has put forth the idea that the U.S. gets cheated. So his solution is to throw  a monkey wrench into the machinery.

Seems to me if we get cheated we should concentrate on making sure that does not happen any longer but not throw out the baby with the bath water.

We know that China steals our intellectual property and goes after military secrets and technology in their trading activity. Yeah, we need to deal with that. But we also want to sell soybeans and pork to them and buy all their electronic goods.

And there is a lot more than all that. I’m just saying we are all interconnected and benefit from each other. We just have to stand up for our rights.

Also there is the problem of where do trade agreements stop and one-world government start or when do trade agreements start robbing us of our sovereignty?

I think that is the key, that is what led to the Brexit fiasco in the UK. They are still in limbo over there with their parliament unable to agree on how to leave the union without committing economic suicide.

Meanwhile in the U.S. Trump may or may have not made some headway in his self-instigated trade war with the world but it seems to me it has all been unnecessary and has done as much or more damage than good. Time will tell on that.

Again, we just need to stand up for our rights. We don’t need to cut off our nose to spite our face. We certainly don’t need to sully our world reputation by basically telling everyone else to go to hell, accusing them of cheating us.

We might have to push our weight around a little but by using gentle persuasion. And if that does not work — well we just politely say no.

Loss of sovereignty and national identity to me are not a good thing. I have read that very phenomenon shows signs of weakening somewhat the European Union. But the EU was developed as an outgrowth of two devastating world wars fought in the 20th Century, much of the fighting and loss of life and property on European soil. Wars invariably have the competition for resources at their heart.

We need good relations between nations for peace and prosperity. We also need to preserve our own identities and look out for our own people. That is human nature.

No man is an island, though, and no nation is either. If it tries to be or is forced to be by its leader’s malfeasance, it becomes like North Korea or Venezuela. Both nations have abundant resources and yet their people starve.