Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 05:55PM
The results of the recent East coast primaries over the last two weeks, make it clear that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will square off against each other in November.
This will pit a candidate steeped in foreign policy expertise vs a novice who acts like a bull in a china shop. America has a choice - to vote for hope or vote for fear/competence or megalomania.
Will we elect our first woman POTUS or a con artist who has mastered so-called reality TV. The video below illustrates the media's complicity in the voodoo candidacy of The Donald. It would be funny if it wasn't so scary.
Donald Trump in a so-called 'major' foreign policy speech proved he could read from a teleprompter instead of just rambling on and on. He didn't scream or throw out invective at his audience. It demonstrates he can be disciplined when he wants to be.
But the speech was superficial and lacked the detail of how he would accomplish his objectives - in that regard it was the same old "trust me, I'm a smart guy" and can make America great again.
The speech lacked nuance. It's like so much of The Donald's rhetoric - high on verbal bombast, low on details. I think the man is intellectually dyslexic - he can't go from one idea to another in any logical way. But his illogic sadly has appeal to the pissed off voter. Trump as a political 'clear and present danger' raises the stakes for November.
More importantly the speech must be viewed in the larger context of his campaign which has maligned Muslims and immigrants from Latin America, promised to build what amounts to an 'Iron Curtain' between the US and Mexico while humiliating them by somehow making them pay for the wall. Trump has also made wild assertions of how he'll destroy ISIS and make China behave itself. And he feels his "art of the deal" can be applied to foreign policy like it does in his own business enterprises.
The 'art of the deal' must be placed in context as must this hastilty prepared speech by his foreign policy team. As much as one can criticize the neo-con or neo-lib foreign policy establishment types who have dominated US foreign policy since the end of WWII - at least they have expertise and experience whereas Trump's team are thin at best, amateurs at worst. These are not this generation's "best and brightest" they are a hastily put together gaggle of foreign policy light weights with short resumes.
The Donald's talking points:
How can anyone be against "America First" unless we know the origins of this phrase which came out of the neo-isolationist/fascist ideas of Charles Lindbergh?
We don't live in isolation or fortress America, we live in a global geo-political and economic village where for every action there is an equal reaction which must be carefully calibrated lest we fall over the abyss or into a military quagmire. World leadership requires humility not bluster.
How can any not feel we need to stand up against China for not playing fair in the global economy unless we realize we don't want to unleash a global trade war against one of our biggest trading partners?
China doesn't play fair but it occupies the largest land mass in Asia, is the world's second largest economy and has a huge economic posture in the US. One can't threaten them without shaking the foundations of the world economy and risking gun boat diplomacy in the nuclear age.
How can anyone not agree that American foreign policy has been a disaster, unless we realize it's a disaster Obama inherited from George W. Bush whose party The Donald has captured in a hostile takeover?
It's taken the Obama administration two terms to settle the dust created by the failures of the Bush II era's hubris. It will take a careful strategy to unravel the chaos of the Middle East that must be led by the people of that region not a return to Pax Americana. We can't bomb our enemies into submission.
How can we not feel that our NATO allies should share more of the financial burden for European security unless we realize that NATO was created to halt the spread of communism after WW II and now Putin's Russia?
Bush II looked into Putin's eyes and saw a friend he could "trust." Putin didn't reciprocate did he? Quite the contrary Putin is trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of the old Soviet Empire despite Russia's economy being in tatters. This makes NATO even more important, we can't simply walk away!
How can we disagree with The Donald when he wants to make America Great again, unless we realize this masks a xenophobia towards the "other" whomever The Donald would target - ISIS now, Iran next up?
Trump has tapped frustration over an economy that has sacrificed generations of Americans. But pointing to "the other" abroad or at home is not the answer. Turning to a thugish member of the 1% is the most unlikely of solutions imaginable as Trumps employees in Atlantic City or Dubai know well.
What Trump did is splice together the badly sutured body parts of his campaign rhetoric. He's like the TV anchor on Network who goes mad on air saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore." This was not a foreign policy speech but a toned down primal scream without any coherence or rationale.
in fact he proudly claims in a globally unstable world "America should be unpredictable." That's a prescription for creating more global chaos and as a businessman Trump ought to know better - "uncertainty" is our worst enemy whether it in foreign policy or global markets. What we need is a POTUS who is Cool not Madmax!
Trump has endorsed waterboarding which is against the law and talked about using tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East. His inflamed rhetoric is causing members of the Pentagon, CIA, NSA and State to ask themselves what they would do if a President Trump ordered them to carry out an order that violates the Geneva Convention's rules of war.
What The Donald proved today is that he totally unfit - intellectually and psychologically to be the most powerful person on earth, one trigger finger away from the nuclear football. He's Dubya and his henchmen on steroids. He makes one have sympathy for our military industrial complex. Wow.
Reactions to The Donald's speech. If I was grading it as a class paper - it would get a C- due to content incoherence, D for a lack of historical depth/understanding and a C- for poor drafting/writing... But then, he's a college drop out... so one can't expect much.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 10:57AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: I've opined that The Bern's promise of free college tuition for those attending public universities is a pipe dream. Here are two articles which back up my argument.
The first article explains how the cost burden of a college education would be shifted to lower income students and their families...
The second article explains how "merit" scholarships cause a similar shift. As a faculty member at Pacific I saw this happen. At my 50th alum reunion at Whitman much more endowed, I heard the same rationale...
At Pacific I was proud to teach mostly first generation college students compared to their more affluent counterparts at sister colleges like Lewis & Clark and Willamette. But are my successors in a new normal now?
This is another way that "income inequality" is increased when everyone is told that getting a college degree is the entrance fee to a good job and a middle class life. As usual old myths die hard...
Gail MarksJarvis, Chicago Tribune
Sun, Apr 24, 2016
How could anyone be against free college tuition?... Millennials, suffering from debilitating student loans, love it. Parents, who can’t... save for college and retirement, see it as salvation...
Sun, Mar 20, 2016
Are you getting gouged on college? If you come from a... low-income family, there’s a strong chance you are. In fact, you may be subsidizing the education of a student from a more affuent family...
Monday, April 25, 2016 at 10:49AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: I listened to an interview on PBS radio's On Being Sunday program produced by Christa Tippet the program's moderator. I think Tippett does compelling interviewing on matters of faith and consciousness taken in its broadcast context.
The interview of Professor Michelle Alexander was riveting and troubling to me. The topic is the punitive culture of mass incarceration and the school to prison pipeline... in the name of law and order an idea born in the Nixon years but continued over the last 6 decades in the name of the war on drugs and mandatory sentencing.
The civil rights lawyer and professor of law Michelle Alexander is waking us up to history we don't remember and to structures most of us can't fathom. She calls the punitive culture that has emerged the "new Jim Crow" and is making it visible in the name of a fierce hope and belief in our collective capacity to engender a transformation to which this moment is calling us.
Specifically, Professor Alexander focuses on the issue of "mass incarceration" that has taken place in the USA since the mid-60ss accelerated by a 1994 crime bill passed in the Clinton years and by 3 strikes and your out laws at the state level. This has resulted in the disproportionate jailing of African-American males. And it has also led to punitive treatment of felons after they've done their time.
As a housing advocate I've heard time and again that a convicted felon is not eligible for subsidized housing after release from jail. Neither are they able to get food stamps or Medicaid. And NPR today noted in a story that released felons in Baltimore can't get medicine they need to battle HIV, addiction or other chronic illness - meds they got in jail. So how can we expect ex-felons to reclaim their lives and enter the mainstream of society?
Alexander eloquently calls such discrimination the face of the new Jim Crow. She also cites the profiling of Black men by cops which has resulted in killings with police not being prosecuted by local DAs, one might term this the "Ferguson Effect." Such examples raise the specter of "white privilege." White persons pulled over for a traffic infraction will most likely not face gun fire but will get a warning or at worst a ticket.
While Alexander's points are compelling and disturbing, I have to push back a bit. Hillary Clinton has courageously called the marginalizing of people of color by another name - "institutional racism." Such examples fit this terminology more than "Jim Crow."
Jim Crow laws were passed in post-Reconstruction America to suppress voting by former slaves in the South who had been freed and took power in the South after the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The tools of Jim Crow to roll back Black power included the violence of the KKK, white primaries, literacy tests, poll taxes, denying Blacks the right to register to vote and economic sanctions against those who dared to do so.
An echo today are voter suppression laws in the modern era and gerrymandering used to dilute the black vote in Congressional, state legislative and local government districts
In the wake of Brown vs. Board White Citizens Councils across the South refused to abide by the law by erecting White academies to stop school desegregation. And southern pols like George Wallace committed themselves to "massive retaliation" to preserve segregation 'for now and forever'. But these these tactics of oppression were eroded over time, but at high cost, by the Civil Rights Movement and the passage 1963 and 1964 Civil Rights Acts.
The more enduring problem is that while overt racism has become a lesser evil in the USA, covert racism practiced in the North more than in the South through real estate practices like red lining or its modern form - gentrification - perpetuates patterns of housing and school segregation across the nation, especially in large urban cities such as Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago but even here in Portlandia.
But these practices are not official practices racism as were Jim Crow laws but of covert 'market based' racism which has as much to do with class as they do with race. Nevertheless, Alexander has forced us to look at the soft underbelly of American racism and white privilege most of us would prefer to ignore in light of the election of our first Black president in a presumed "post-racial" society.
Last week Terry McAuliffe (D) governor of Virginia (and close friend of Hillary Clinton) signed an executive order to allow over 200,000 convicted fellows who have served their time to reclaim their voting rights. In Oregon we've banned the "box" to help former felons get a job interview. Other states should follow suit so as to reintegrate such people into our communities - granting them the right to welfare, food stamps and housing along with the vote.
So whether one terms such discriminatory practices as Jim Crow or institutionalized racism - it's past time to help those who have served their time to join the "beloved community" especially in a time when many of the crimes committed were drug related non-violent life style choices - smoking dope et al which more and more Americans don't think of as crimes such as voters in Washington, Oregon and Colorado
Mandatory sentencing and 3 strikes and you're out laws which have criminalized thousands of Americans must end.
This is not to minimize the scourge of drugs that the mis-named War on Drugs targeted. But to put young people in jail for minor drug offenses rather than getting them into rehab and community mental health clinics was bad public policy and a waste of tax payer dollars. I'm all for putting drug lords (predators) away but let's distinguish between users, those lured into gangs versus those making profit off of the victims of racism and poverty.
Let's end the double standard where mostly White college kids illegally buy booze or drugs and cops rarely pay attention but if one is a person of color, despite one's zip code or economic status, a cop is more likely to profile you and maybe even shot you. As persons of the cloth remind us on the Sabbath - we're all sinners but Ferguson et al show some sinners are more 'unequal' than others.
Young people often make poor choices but that's no reason to punish them for life or to take their lives. But let's also admit that gangs kill more people of color than cops do. With freedom comes responsibility. This requires moms and dads despite their circumstances do their job before it's too late. Parenting is not a noun but a verb form. One is measured by the "content of one's character" not the size of one's paycheck. All parents need to step up!
While were at it - let's do what Hillary has argued on the stump - "there are no banks too big to fail and no CEOs too big not to jail." It's about time we focused on 'superpredator' White collar criminals like the Donald Trumps who destoy neighborhoods under the aegis of economic "development." After Watergate Allenwood federal prison was populated by Mafia and Nixonistas. It's time for Wall Street goons to pay their time!
Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 04:51PM
EDITOR'S NOTE: I got this memo from Hillary's campaign operatives a few hours ago. The fall campaign has begun!
Donald Trump is preparing to pivot from this Republican primary to the general election -- and in order to make himself palatable to voters outside the Republican base, he’s preparing to undergo an extreme image makeover.
“I’m very capable of changing to anything I want to change to,” he’s said. “At the right time, I will be so presidential, you will be so bored.”
Trump thinks he can bully us, fool us, or cajole us into forgetting how he has derided women, Mexican Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and people with disabilities. He thinks he can trick the country into making him our president.
But we know the truth of who Donald Trump is, and we’re not going to let anyone forget it.
We’re not going to forget that Donald Trump called Mexican Americans criminals and rapists on the day he launched his campaign.
Or that he called for a ban on Muslims coming to America -- and surveillance of Muslims and mosques on American soil.
We won’t forget that he said he’d eliminate gun-free zones in schools on his first day in office, or that he advocated for the murder of innocent family members of suspected terrorists -- that’s a war crime, by the way.
We’ll remember how he mocked a disabled journalist with crude gestures, and we’ll remember how he implied a female journalist who asked him tough questions was menstruating.
We won’t forget that he said women who get abortions deserve “some form of punishment.”
We’ll remember how he incited violence at his rallies, encouraging his supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters.
And we won’t forget that when he received the endorsement of the notorious former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump said he didn’t know enough about white supremacists to disavow their support.