Hillary’s Woman Card

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Of course nobody should vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a woman as leader of the free world at last?

You may argue that women and men are the same, so what difference would it make?

But, at the risk of being labeled a sexist pig, I have to disagree. Women and men are not the same.

I don’t mean that women are inferior. Throughout history women have clearly demonstrated their equality to men – and in some ways their superiority.

But they are clearly different. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally, too.

And, as the French say, vive la difference!

Women are less likely to become physically violent for one thing. Our prisons are mostly populated by men – including many who committed some violent crime.

And when I used to report on industrial initiatives in developing countries, I noticed that the workers creating the new economies were almost entirely women. I was told they were more reliable, more conscientious, more patient and more meticulous than their male counterparts.

I won’t parade my vast ignorance on the subject of hormones, but I suspect they have something to do with the difference.

It’s that testosterone thing, I imagine.

I don’t know why women have been – and still are – so oppressed in so many societies. And I can’t begin to explain why women are still underpaid and under appreciated in a society as supposedly advanced as America’s.

But I do know that men definitely have an edge in today’s America. This is a nation of male privilege.

So when Donald Trump says Hillary has nothing going for her but her gender, I would ask what he has going for him except his gender?

More on Trump and the “woman card”

 

The Job Loss Crisis

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With the Indiana primaries looming just as Carrier prepares to move 1,400 jobs to Mexico, the plight of America’s manufacturing workers is again in the spotlight.

We are getting a lot of hot air from some presidential candidates. They’re promising to rewrite free-trade agreements and force runaway manufacturers to come back home. Donald Trump, for example, has suggested imposing massive tariffs on their products.

That’s the kind of demagoguery that excites the crowds in states like Indiana, where thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished in recent years.

But you and I know it’s nonsense.

Global free trade is here to stay. American shoppers would never accept the high prices that would result from such clumsy policies as the imposition of punitive import duties.

Trump and other candidates are also scapegoating past administrations for the creation of NAFTA and similar trade pacts. But that’s clearly counter-productive. The candidates should spend their time developing policies to deal with the world as it is, not as they would wish it to be.

For example, it’s all very well for Bernie Sanders to blame Hillary Clinton for supporting past trade agreements and to declare a Sanders administration would “demand” that corporations keep their production facilities in America. But I haven’t heard him spell out any realistic job creating solutions – except for his proposal to spend a trillion dollars on rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges.

I think Hillary Clinton is proposing more practical policies.

In addition to addressing America’s all-too-obvious infrastructure neglect, she offers concrete plans to develop new industries. She envisages burgeoning green energy development and other high-tech, high-skill industries that would fill the void created by fleeing factories.

And in addition to offering federal dollars to states that provide free college tuition (one of Bernie’s most popular promises), Hillary would build on President Obama’s just-announced $100 million program for free community college courses. These programs would not only connect students with existing jobs but also retrain laid-off workers for new jobs.

She would also provide tax incentives to keep industry from leaving America and end existing tax breaks for employers who leave.

Still, I think even Hillary’s proposals could go farther.

While there are existing laws (and union agreements) to protect workers who are being laid off – adequate notice, severance pay and so on – I think more action is needed along those lines. And I don’t see that kind of legislation among any candidate’s current proposals.

Employers who abandon American workers – especially longtime employees – should have to compensate them for their investment in helping to build the company.

It’s not enough to provide a fair wage and the benefits employees usually get from union agreements. There should be a profit-sharing “dividend” paid to workers who get laid off. That “dividend” should fairly reflect the worker’s investment of labor and skill over the years.

If I were running for office, I would propose legislation providing “investment” payouts to all workers – not just factory employees but white-collar workers and professionals, too – who are idled through corporate relocation or outsourcing. This would not only soften the blow to the workers but also act as a deterrent to employers thinking of abandoning them.

If any of the candidates proposes this kind of legislation, I haven’t read about it. And it’s certainly something Hillary might want to consider. She is the only candidate with the intellect and experience to pilot such legislation through Congress.

More on Carrier’s move.

More on the job loss crisis.

More on free community college

 

Dealing with Oil’s Collapse

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At a meeting in Qatar earlier this month, global oil producers made a desperate effort to set production limits that would halt plummeting prices – and failed.

I hear you cheering. You’re yelling: Cheap gas!

But not so fast.

Cheap oil is giving consumers a temporary windfall, but will inevitably doom a global economy based on oil.

While net oil importers like the U.S., Europe, and Asia are getting a nearly $900 billion economic stimulus from plunging oil prices, many oil exporting countries are suffering. Venezuela, Russia, Canada, Norway, Nigeria and other African oil  producing areas have been hit hard (click on map above). It’s a situation that could breed widespread political and economic instability.

One reason for the price decline is overproduction. Iraq and Iran are back in the oil market – with a vengeance – and new technology has made North America’s massive shale oil and natural gas deposits accessible.

Another reason for the price decline is weakening demand. Worldwide efforts to  replace oil with green energy are bearing fruit at last. And the trend toward green energy is accelerating.

Political rivalry between oil producers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia is also contributing to overproduction.

The era of Big Oil is ending.

Of course, the world’s environment will benefit in the long run from Big Oil’s demise. Fossil fuel consumption is a terrifying hazard that has already brought severe climate change  and threatens to cause a global catastrophe.

But what will happen in the meantime?

Some analysts are predicting a global financial crash. Oil companies piled up debt when prices were high and an estimated trillion-dollar shortfall is expected if they default – as some are already doing. A sharp reduction in spending by oil producing countries is also expected.

Of course, as oil prices plunge, production will dry up – especially where extraction costs are high (such as shale oil deposits in Canada and the United States). And that will inevitably drive prices up again. But it won’t happen overnight.

The repercussions of an oil economy collapse are complex and perplexing.

We can only hope that global governments will have the political will and the know-how to create an alternative economy – as Saudi Arabia is already trying to do.

This is an important reason for Americans to be careful in November’s elections. If small government advocates win control of Congress, we can expect little – if any – action from Washington.

And if some amateur like Donald Trump becomes President, the disastrous situation would be compounded.

As I see it, America’s only hope at a time like this is to put someone with Hillary Clinton’s knowledge and experience in the White House – and  give her a Congress she can work with.

Click for more on the end of oil.

Click for Saudi Arabia’s plan.

 

Noise from an Empty Barrel

Color-trump-stunt (1)The people who tell me they’re voting for Donald Trump always say it’s because he’s a successful businessman, not a politician. But why would they want a businessman who knows nothing about politics – especially global politics – to run the country?

Trump showed how little he knows last night in his foreign policy speech.

All he did was brag about the wonders he would perform as President. He didn’t say how.

Serious foreign policy scholars on all sides of the political spectrum dismissed his speech as meaningless.

Even his allies scoffed at the speech. For example, Doug Bandow of the right-wing Cato Institute declared:

It struck me as a very odd mishmash.

Trump’s speech revealed nothing new. He repeated his promise to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth, rewrite all of those trade deals that have cost America so many jobs, build the most massive military force the world has ever seen, and so on. But he didn’t explain where he would get the resources to do all that or how he would go about doing it.

The only strategy he revealed was to surround himself with “talented experts” whom he promised to name but didn’t.

To me, Trump personifies the saying I heard so often as a child back in Jamaica:

 An empty barrel makes the most noise.

If ever there was  an empty barrel, it’s Donald. Trump.

Click for reaction to Trump’s speech.

 

Trump’s Silly Suggestion

cartoonOf course Donald Trump wants Bernie Sanders to run a third-party campaign. It would split the Democratic vote and put a Republican – Trump thinks it will be him – in the White House.

But, ironically, it could be Trump who runs as a third-party candidate in November.

Bernie got into the presidential race to raise the awareness of socialist policies in America. He achieved that goal – and more. But he has nothing to gain by sabotaging Hillary’s candidacy.

Trump lied, as usual, when he said the Democratic Party has treated Bernie horribly.

What could Bernie expect from the party? He isn’t even a Democrat; he is a self-proclaimed Socialist who has run as an Independent throughout his career. Hillary has been a Democrat for nearly all of her adult life. A Democrat active in party politics with a lifetime of chips to cash in.

While he caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, Bernie has run against Democratic candidates and criticized President Obama in the past. He could not have expected his johnny-come-lately Democratic candidacy to win much support among the party brass.

No, Bernie will not run as an Independent. He will stay in the Democratic race, quixotically battling for a party platform that includes his pet proposals – a $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, Medicare for all, and so on. How much he will get remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, despite his shocking sweep of last night’s primaries, Trump has not secured the Republican nomination and powerful forces are lining up against him. If he fails to win on the first ballot, his hopes will be toast.

And while Bernie is too decent to run a spite campaign, Trump isn’t.

If he doesn’t get the Republican nomination, Trump’s huge ego could prompt him to run as a third-party candidate. And that would ensure the history making election of America’s first female president.

Click for the news story.

 

Made for Each Other

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The media are reporting that Ted Cruz is eyeing Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the Republican nomination. And I am horrified by the possibility of witnessing such a union.

To me, Cruz and Fiorina define the word “ugly.” Not just politically but spiritually and emotionally.

I don’t know them personally, of course. But from what I’ve read about them, they appear to be among the most mean spirited, spiteful megalomaniacs ever to tarnish the American political scene.

They seem to have no regard for the truth – either of them. They have been quoted as telling the most outrageous lies to smear their opponents. Fiorina even invented a sequence she claimed she saw in a tape that depicted Planned Parenthood as vultures who profit from the sale of fetus’s organs. A tape that has since been debunked as a fabrication.

Cruz is portrayed not just as a habitual prevaricator who stoops to the lowest of political “dirty tricks” to win votes but also as the worst kind of hypocrite. He claims to be a champion or morality and yet he is accused by the media of patronizing the DC Madam and flitting from one mistress to another.

Looking at their faces (above), I find it all to easy to accept the unflattering portraits painted in the media.

I can’t imagine any normal human being actually voting for such a pair. But for a pariah society, where normal standards are reversed, they would seem to be the perfect flag bearers.

I can only hope the American electorate has not yet sunk to that abysmal level.

Click for the story.

 

End of Two-Party Politics?

hillary_3232486btrumpAs the stop-Trump movement grows on the right and the stop-Hillary movement grows on the left, I have to wonder what on earth is going on?

I suspect sabotage.

It’s clearly in the interests of the Democrats to see the Republicans fighting among themselves – and vice versa.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Democratic saboteurs are involved in the Republican civil war and Republicans in the Democratic Party’s’ “progressives” revolt.

No sensible Republican would think it’s a good idea to wash the party’s dirty linen in public, and no sensible Democrat would want to see Hillary’s good name dragged through the mud before one of the most crucial presidential elections in my lifetime.

So there must be skulduggery involved in the crazy primary politics we have today.

If I’m wrong – and I’ve been wrong before – then the two-party system is obsolete.

The violent dissent that’s tearing both major parties apart could be authentic. America could be morphing into a multi-party system of politics.

It’s what they have in European countries like Italy and France.

And what you tend to get there is a variety of political alliances rather than the rule of a single party.

I don’t think it’s a very efficient way to run a government, but it gives more people an opportunity to vent their frustrations.

The bottom line is that when individuals become increasingly selfish and spoiled, the country becomes increasingly fragmented. We all seem to expect to get our own way in everything. Without compromise.

And the common good is forgotten in the process.

More on the stop-Trump mocment

More on stopping Hilollary

 

My Choice Was Eleanor but…

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I would have voted for Eleanor Roosevelt to replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of the American twenty-dollar bill. But Harriet Tubman is a pretty good choice.

Eleanor is one of my heroes. Not only because she cajoled the UN into adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also because of her lifelong concern for society’s underdogs.

Officials said there was an on-line poll to select Andrew Jackson’s replacement and Eleanor came in second. Harriet Tubman won.

I must admit I didn’t know much about Harriet Tubman. I grew up in Jamaica, after all, and – at that time, anyway – Jamaican schoolchildren don’t learn much American history.

I knew she was an escaped slave who helped rescue scores of other slaves through the Underground Railroad. But I wasn’t aware of her continuing fight for women’s rights after slavery was abolished. Or of her service as a military nurse – and spy – during the American Civil War.

Of course bigots are railing against her choice. They are outraged by the selection of an African American as the first woman to be featured on American currency. Donald Trump sneered that it was political correctness run amok, and some objectors took to Twitter to express their displeasure.

One tweeted:

Removing a white from $20 bill to replace with a mudskin is an act of #WarOnWhites. Wake up, white man.

Even some black Americans joined the anti-Tubman chorus. Ben Carson, for instance, suggested it would be more appropriate to put her portrait on a $2 bill.

But there was far more positive reaction as America welcomed another milestone in the evolution of an increasingly diverse and enlightened society.

More on Eleanor Roosevelt

More on Harriet Tubman

More on reaction

More on Andrew Jackson

More on currency changes

 

US Needs China as an Ally

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While American Xi-Jinping-china_2539711bpoliticians rail against China, accusing the Chinese of “stealing” American jobs, they should be aware that America depends on China to help ensure global stability.

They must know that it isn’t China that “stole” America’s manufacturing industry, it was the American corporations that chose to relocate their factories in countries with much lower wages, oppressive working conditions and lax safety regulations.

Motivated by sheer greed, the disloyal corporate bosses moved their manufacturing operations not only to China but also to a number of other low-wage countries.

The craven politicians who failed to penalize corporations that abandon American workers must share the blame.

The current campaign season has spawned extreme anti-China rhetoric, and an uninformed electorate seems to be falling for it.

This is counterproductive. It makes more sense to have China as an ally.

Especially at a time when Russia’s Putin is baring his fangs and global security is being threatened by North Korea.

I just read that China is moving troops along its border with North Korea in response to Kim Jong-Un’s defiant development of a nuclear weapon intended for use against the US.

You might say America needs no help fighting puny North Korea, but retaliation against Kim Jong-Un  (upper photo) would be politically risky. China might have to intervene on behalf of its “ally” or lose face.

It’s much better for China to deal with the North Korean threat. I hope that’s what President Xi Jinping (lower photo) is doing.

Click for China vs. North Korea.

 

Hillary’s Bad Press

Hillary-and-the-pressIf it proves nothing else, this campaign season is demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that the power of the media has been wildly overestimated.

While the press relentlessly smears Hillary, for example, most Democrats remain staunchly loyal to her. More than a million of them voted for her in the New York primary yesterday.

She easily swept to victory over Bernie with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

An article in Salon.com this morning examines the biased reporting that Hillary has had to overcome. The article cites a recent study showing that in 10 major media outlets more negative stories have been published about her than any other candidate.

And according to the study, Hillary has received the fewest positive stories, too. Indeed, she gets 10 times more bad press than good press.

I didn’t need the study to make me realize how badly the media are treating Hillary. I couldn’t help noticing the overwhelming barrage of criticism aimed at her candidacy. And it’s coming from the left as well as the right.

I don’t think any other candidate has ever been the target of such venomous media coverage. And I haven’t once seen any credible evidence to support the accusations.

I recently overheard a visitor at my sister Elizabeth’s home confidently predicting Hillary would be arrested before the November election. He rattled off a long list of charges – including murder.

But he was undoubtedly a Republican, so I didn’t waste my time trying to set him straight.

Fortunately for America, most Democrats remain unmoved by the propaganda. And the Democrats who know Hillary best are the most loyal to her. The vast majority of the party’s officials and elected representatives – at all levels – have endorsed her. And she has won the support of nearly 1,800 delegates so far.

I don’t doubt for a minute that she will win the nomination, but I wonder how much damage this irresponsible press assault will do in the meantime.

I am sure that many voters know by now they can’t trust the press and will vote for her regardless.

And I know nothing would persuade a right winger to vote for a Clinton.

But there are those who might be swayed by the mud slinging media, and if enough of them go to the polls, the White House could be lost in November.

Click for the Salon article.

Click for primary results.