The Red Line -Syria Then and Now

the red line big2

 

What I said then:

What is it with men? Do women draw “red lines”? I have never heard a woman draw such a line, a line in the sand, a line on the playground; a line which everyone understands means “cross this line and there are consequences”, physical consequences, unpleasant consequences (well maybe women do that with their offspring and their partners). Netanyahu drew a red line about nukes and Iran. This red line has not been crossed yet but Israel lives in the hood and is used to lobbing bombs at neighboring aggressors. Obama also drew a red line that implied America would punish Assad in Syria if he used chemical weapons against his own people. Is this a testosterone thing? But in the case of Assad, a totalitarian monster who will fight in the face of millions of refugees (his own people), and who will make them flee their own country; a little thing like a “red line” won’t stop a man like this. It acts like a red cape acts on a bull. But the red line has been drawn, the gauntlet has been laid down, and Assad has challenged Obama to a duel. Dueling has been illegal for a long, long time. A red line can be redrawn. That is one option. Just redraw the damn line. It doesn’t really matter if we look weak because we aren’t weak. It shows wisdom to be able to back down from a position when someone is baiting a trap, baiting a trap with dead children. How does a decent man beat a monster? He uses his brain, not his muscle.

What I say now:

Obama has been criticized again and again for not enforcing that red line. The Republicans have told America that the fact that we did not do something, some unknown ninja move, proves that Obama is weak and because he is our President it makes America look weak. It invites other nations to challenge us to see how wimpy we will be. But, realistically, short of war, what were Obama’s choices? Our soldiers were still traumatized by too many tours of duty in a row in Iraq. Americans had no taste for sending our guys into Syria to fight Assad. Assad’s government was and is backed by the power of Putin in Russia. Going to war with Assad could have been interpreted as an act of aggression against Russia, although I doubt that Putin wants an all-out war with America right now. Obama’s deal with Putin to make sure that Assad’s chemical weapons were destroyed was probably the best deal we could get at the time. Congress was busting Obama’s chops for being too involved in places like Egypt and Libya. He could not have pleased the GOP no matter what he decided to do. News sources are suggesting that not all of Assad’s chemical weapons were destroyed and that he may, in these late summer days of 2016 be using them again. I still like my suggestion from the days immediately after the red line was crossed.

loudspeakers

What I said then:

If you can remember back far enough to remember the movie Dangerous Liaisons then I think we could find a way to register our deep, deep disapproval without lobbing bombs at a leader who is just waiting to have us lob bombs at him. (What if all hell breaks loose?) If you remember, in the movie, an aging countess (Glenn Close) had learned to use men as pawns to give to herself the independence and the power to well live without a husband. She had affairs, as many as she wanted and she manipulated the guilt and the fear of exposure the men felt in such a way that when she ended the affair, they found they could not tell. She lived above gossip and although women knew she was not quite the thing, they had no proof and she was accepted by society. Until she fell in love.

She sent that young man (John Malkovitch) on his way too, but as the film opens we meet a woman who is now showing her age. She is still handsome, but not beautiful. When that young man she fell in love with comes back and implies that he is still interested, she plays her last and most dangerous game, which she loses, rather badly. She still thinks that she has kept her secrets and has enough social cachet to go on. When she appears at the opera and everyone boos her, her reaction is visceral and I’m sure that from that time forward her social isolation is complete.

Maybe we could all; in every city and town all around the world, play, over very large loudspeakers,  at a certain time, like midnight at the Prime Meridian on Monday, a sound track of people booing with all of the loudspeakers pointed in the direction of Syria. I wonder if the sound would carry all the way to Syria. Then everyone in the world could turn his/her back on Assad and send Assad into a social isolation that would put him out of commission for the rest of his life. Now that would be retribution and it would feel really fine. I don’t imagine words or even world-wide condemnation could affect someone like that. You know what; I don’t even think bombs will do it.

Syria4What I think now:

Obviously we are way past the days when social shunning will put even a dent in the entitled arrogant man with the heart of granite who leads Syria. Here is a man who lives in bubble of comfort and privilege and who will not abdicate power even though his “kingdom” has been reduced to rubble around him and his “subjects” have had to flee or die. Here is a man whose every little hair on his smarmy head is glued in place and whose wardrobe costs more than it would take to feed the starving children in the nation that is unlucky enough to be ruled by this egomaniac. But what will finally oust this guy from his palace? Will we declare war on Assad and let the repercussions in Russia fall where they may? What if this becomes World War III and this time Russia is not on our side? I don’t know anyone who really thinks that we shouldn’t tread carefully, harden our hearts against letting grief and empathy dictate policy.

What I said then:

I don’t really know what Obama should do on behalf of America anymore than it sounds like anyone else does, but this situation seems to call out for a creative and global strategy. People who do monstrous things often have very hard shells.

What I think now:

If some of you think you have the perfect answer publish it so we can all see it and consider it. If, as I believe is true, no one is sure about how to handle Syria beyond what we are already doing, then our only choices are to continue to give Syrian refugees room to catch their breath and raise their children and to continue the air assault on Syria, the one that is further complicated by the presence of ISIS.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This article appeared in my blog at http://thebrissioniblog.blogspot.com/ on 8/30/2013. You can also find in the the archives on this site. It was called What is it with men?

 

The Bully vs. the Wonk: The Presidential Debates

 

Hillary and Donald3big

On September 26th Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will appear in the first debate that puts these two in the same venue on a stage together. There will be some rules and there will be moderators but I still think that this is a terrible idea. I am usually all in favor of debates. But I dread this one. I picture it as the bully vs. the wonk. It’s not that Hillary can’t handle herself in just about any situation. If you want to be the President of America you cannot back down from confrontation. And right now the toughest tickets are not people in foreign governments or countries. Foreign leaders try to be polite in their dealings even when they are saying no. These days some of the meanest suits are on people right here in our own country. Hillary is not afraid of these people. She thinks she can even win some of them over to consider compromises that will move our nation forward, and we wish she could do that, although most of us think she is in for the same realities that Obama has faced.

Hillary has taken stands on the issues that are important to Americans in 2016 and she would welcome a chance to stand up and make her points in a public way in front of all of America. But she is unlikely to get to do any such thing. She is much more likely to be the focus of Donald Trump’s degrading attentions and to be beaten over the head by his propaganda cudgels such as name-calling, lying smears, and patently untrue nonsense that nevertheless all have a way of leaving marks on his opponents. How many times will he call her “lyin’ Hillary” and bring up the totally bogus “racist” label he has decided to graffiti on her this time? How many times will he bring up the Clinton Foundation and the pay to play that never happened? Donald Trump has no filter. Apparently truth has fled the political arena for good.

Except that when Hillary discusses the issues she wants to pursue I feel that she is being honest about what she would like to do; that she has spent time and energy designing approaches to these issues. She wants to target the poor and the middle class and stop skewing our economy towards those who are already wealthy. Donald has given us little of substance on the issues except to assure us that whatever little or big thing it is that bothers us, he will fix it (bigly). It is difficult to know what Hillary intends to do to tackle issues in foreign affairs because she has not said what she will do in Afghanistan or in Iraq. She has mentioned a few plans such as a no fly zone to deal with the black hole of sadness, grief and outrage that defines Assad’s refusal to release Syria from his clutches. Donald, however, has offered to cut loose our allies in NATO and either nuke our enemies or give them nukes so they can erase each other from the face of the earth (along with untold numbers of us).

If they could both be held to discussions of policy only, no slurs allowed then this debate might be a real eye-opener for America. Then instead of the bully vs. the wonk; it might be wonk v wonk.  However I am fairly certain that the debate will just devolve into watching the first female candidate with a chance to win a Presidential election bashed continuously, without much of a chance to respond, by a man who has already proven himself to be unfit for the office of the Presidency, in front of a cheering crowd looking for the death blow, thus proving that those Mad Max movies were right. We are the exact same primitive humans who relished watching mayhem at the Roman Coliseum several centuries ago. I will be more than happy to skip this debate which the media is so looking forward to it. I think I will avoid the bloodletting. Perhaps I will wait and catch the clips and commentaries that are sure to follow.

“In the Day” and Now/Black Power

black power

When I was just beginning my career as a teacher I was hired to work in a program that was designed to provide equal opportunity to the poor and minorities. The program in New York State was called SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge). Later the name of the program outside New York City was changed to EOC or Educational Opportunity Center.  It was intended to serve as a sort of prep school in New York State’s city centers, similar to the Educational Opportunity Programs on SUNY campuses, a program to boost the academic levels of poor and minority adults who had left school before graduating or who had been undereducated in inner city schools that tended to educate students to an eighth grade level (or less) and then lose them. The SEEK program began in 1965 and was a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement in American and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of what were actually relatively few violent demonstrations in some densely populated African American communities where citizens were emboldened by recent events such as the Black Power movement to demand a share of the American dream.

So I began teaching as a very young person with my little BA degree in Secondary English in the SEEK program and I was hired by a tall, white bearded hippie to be part of this sort of harem of young (white) women who he hired to assist him in what was basically, at that time, a speed-reading program. Every student had a little speed reading machine and a paperback novel. We, the sort of TA’s, would test each student to determine their initial reading speed and we would stand in a line in the classroom and peel off as needed to assist students who were ready to adjust their speed upward. It was absurd, but I really needed a job. It went against everything I had learned about good teaching and was miles away from being a good college prep reading course, but it did give me time and perspective to think about what I would do differently when I became the department chair, which I eventually did.

For the first time in my life, at the very beginning of my career, I found myself in an environment where I as a white person was definitely in the minority. The SEEK program administrator was a graduate of the University of Michigan, a powerfully energetic and ambitious black man (at that time it was the choice of African Americans to be called “black”) who had pulled along with him into our small provincial city the cream of the crop of his young black buddies also from the University of Michigan. These men were educated, handsome, and very, very comfortable with each other. They were in their element. This is what they trained for and it was obvious that they wouldn’t be here long. These were guys (we called them “brothers”) who could be very funny. They could switch back and forth from professional language to street within a single sentence. They were very smart and they were on their way to much bigger careers. By 1973 most of these young “turks” had moved on.

It was intoxicating, as a young white women, to share time in this energetic and testosterone-enhanced world with these young men who were the first and most entitled generation of African American men to benefit from the whole sad and heroic Civil Rights Movement in which many of them had taken part. I could have fallen in love with any one of them with their giant afros and wonderful smiles, but that was not what we were all about and they had plans to marry educated sisters and live well. What we were was colleagues and we were establishing an alternative program which could funnel the poor and minorities up from the projects and into the middle class. I have carried the surprisingly vivid memories of those halcyon days with me during all of my life. And happily, although these young ambitious men did eventually leave our program and move up in the world, we were able to put together excellent preparatory courses and to send hundreds of people to college who would probably not have continued their education at all. We were able to give them the skills they needed to do well in their college studies and this, in turn, built their confidence in their ability to succeed.

It is no longer the sixties, but recent events have made it clear that we are still working out our national shortcomings in the Civil Rights arena. When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager taking an evening walk with his cell phone to a convenient store, the wounds that remain on the American psyche reopened and we were taken back to the sixties again. In fact there was a direct connection; it was the 50th anniversary of a day when Representative John Lewis from Georgia had been the Chairman of SNCC and one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights movement. He helped plan the March on Washington in August of 1963 which was the occasion of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech”. Fifty years later here he is on national television reacting to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and sadly confronting the fact that the work of winning equality for African Americans is not done.

In fact television that week after that hotly contested verdict was chock full of more African American men and women, with their intelligent, cogent, and very professional discussions of the emotions being experienced by African Americans and the historical context for these feelings. They were able to contain what was probably some significant anger and discuss the ramifications of the trial decision and to explain to the rest of America their problem with “Stand Your Ground” laws and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. When John Lewis spoke out we were reminded of the cosmic irony that this trial occurred on the anniversary of the Martin Luther King speech that almost every American knows by heart. The IRS hearings brought that wonderful Rep.Elijah Cummings of Maryland to my attention with his commonsense ability to bring the soaring fiction of DarryI Issa back to earth. And I also have to mention The Grio in this mix because I was watching MSNBC much of the time and they have hired Joy-Ann Reid as an adjunct to their staff. She has great connections in the African American community and she expresses herself clearly and powerfully. She is a real asset, as is her colleague Melissa Harris-Perry who has her own show on MSNBC. What can beat two intelligent women who also happen to be African American who can offer their sophisticated perceptions on politics in these wacky political times we are living through since 2008.

So for a moment I was back in those faculty/staff meetings at the old SEEK program with all those glowing African American men, just ready to step off into their very distinguished futures. If was good to see all those intelligent, highly educated black people who may even have benefitted from the programs that were developed in the 60’s to diversify the American middle class. It felt a bit like old home week. Too bad it took one alleged scandal and one very sad event to hear from all these erudite black voices. Hopefully they will be consulted over other issues as we have seen on a few of the Sunday shows.

This is still the view from the cheap seats.

This article first appeared on my blog at  http://thebrissioniblog.blogspot.com/ on 8/7/2013

The Republican Scandal Extravaganza

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So here we are, right in the direct path of the Republican scandal extravaganza, which we have known was coming. They were just waiting until fall, but they couldn’t quite wait because when the FBI released that last batch of approximately 15,000 emails it was a sign. This is it! They signaled the Trump campaign, which just in a nick of time is headed by the formidable Kellyanne Conway. Let’s make this an all-out effort to fatally damage Hillary Clinton, they telegraphed. And the Republicans have plenty of help with all of the members of the press piling on too. There are plenty of ratings to be made folks. There has to be something really damning in those emails. There just has to be. That charity cannot just exist for humanitarian reasons. The Clintons are too greedy for that. Let’s impeach those humanitarian emailers before they even get into the White House this time.

The press is in a frenzy. The AP got in on the act. They checked Hillary’s State Department calendar and she had meetings with lots of people who gave to the Clinton Foundation. Never mind that there are only so many nations on the planet and that almost all of them meet from time to time with the State Department. We smell nefarious favors being doled out by the millions. The Clinton Foundation takes money from nations with terrible records on human rights. OMG! Who needs to salve their conscience more than an authoritarian nation, and who doesn’t like to have help with their nation’s poorest citizens. If a nation will not contribute doesn’t that brand them as villainous?

How does a skeevy guy like Donald Trump get to pass judgment, with the whole power of a major political party behind him, on anyone? Here is someone who we know scammed others for profits which lined his own pockets. Now he gets to go on TV and act holier-than-thou? That’s just wrong. And if the Republican Party and Donald Trump (under the watchful eye of Ms. Conway) manage to tarnish Hillary beyond electability only Donald Trump will be left, assuming we are still not ready to elect someone from the Libertarian Party or the Green Party. The Republicans are great strategists and have planned this well and timed it right to do maximum damage very close to the November election. Doesn’t it bother anyone that it reeks of mudslinging politics? I do not buy that the Clinton Foundation did anything illegal. I trust, and I am using that word deliberately, that they were busy setting up programs that helped people around the world lift themselves up and feel pride at their accomplishments.

American Economy/Bring Back Our Jobs

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Don’t Ask For What You Want, Because You Might Get It

For the past eight years and longer Republicans have pined for “smaller” government and have promised that if we use a “trickle-down” approach to the American economy, cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and endure a few years of austerity the economy will come roaring back. Republicans have held the economy in place for both Obama terms and I don’t think anyone is experiencing a roaring economic upturn. Job growth has been slow and steady, economic growth has been somewhat stagnant. Along comes Donald Trump who promises that he will bring back our jobs that America lost by bringing back the corporations that offered us those jobs.

But what I see whenever I hear this nonsense for the umpteenth time is Republican double-speak covering over the America we will actually have to become in order to bring back those jobs that everyone seems to mourn the loss of. What I see is the possibility of much lower salaries, non-existent or powerless labor unions, a lower standard of living, and employees who work whatever hours the corporations require with few, if any benefits. The corporations will demand much more control over their “own affairs” which will entail drastic deregulation, which Republicans also favor.

The GOP believes (or pretends to believe) that unfettering capitalism will bring an astounding renewal of our economy like the first great flowering of industry at the turn of the 20th century. The Tea Party folks who demand, out of some kind of misplaced nostalgia, that those jobs must be returned to America are not really facing the facts that the old reality can never be reproduced and the new reality may not match their expectations.

What we might get is some kind of “bizarro” America that I (and others) call the Corporate States of America and it answers the demands of an alliance of some pretty strange bedfellows. The Tea Party (which includes truckers, displaced workers, farmers, and rural-garage talk-show lovers), and Big Business have a lot in common these days (sort of in the same way that buffalo and wolves have a lot in common). The Republican Party is the body pillow between the corporations (Big Business) on one side of this big bed and the conspiracy theory lovers (The Tea Party) on the other side. Donald Trump is snuggled up in there somewhere (you decide where). These three groups have one main thing that puts them together in that very small sector at the center of a Venn diagram of that bed. They all want a federal government that is smaller in three ways:

  1. Lower taxes or no taxes
  2. Fewer services or no services
  3. Fewer rules or no rules

This unholy marriage has been arranged by right wing media and the Tea Party and it could be sanctified through a sweep by the Republican Party in the 2014 midterms (done) and the 2016 Presidential election (on its way). Then we could find ourselves living in the Corporate States of America. Perhaps we will pledge allegiance to and sing that new anthem of unfettered Capitalism “from sea to fracking sea”. I’m guessing that most of us will hold a permanent role in the poorly paid worker class that will finally allow America to once again be the number one manufacturer in the world. The only problem is that we will no longer be America. That’s one of my most nightmarish visions for a “bizarro” America that we could belong to in the near future.

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Don’t Wish for What You Don’t Want, Because You Might Get It

Actually, keeping that creepy bed in mind you really need to think about whether or not we want our corporations to come back at all. They cannot realistically make the move unless we drastically reduce the standard of living in America. And while you may think bucks are a bit thin on the ground right now, our economy would have to go much lower before these companies will come “home”. Here are some of the wages employees make in China, Southeast Asia, and Mexico:

China

Since 2001, the United States has lost 2.8 million manufacturing jobs to China — that despite U.S. factory workers being far more productive.

Partly, it can be explained by China’s cheaper workers: The average hourly wage for Chinese manufacturing workers is less than a tenth that of their average U.S. counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It being about twice as cheap to live in China, those lower Chinese wages go further. But Chinese factory workers also tend to work longer hours, making them more appealing to some employers

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/average-cost-factory-worker_n_1327413.html

Southeast Asia

Comparative Wages in Selected Countries
July 29, 2016

 

Country/City Daily Minimum Wages Monthly Wage Exchange Rate
Per US$1*
In Country Currency In US$ In Country Currency In US$
Bangladesh (Taka) 176.67 b/ 2.21 5,300.00 1/ 66.42 79.7982
Myanmar (Kyat) 3,600.00 a/ 2.99 108,000.00 2/ 89.63 1,204.9700
Mongolia (Tugrik) 6,400.00 a/ 3.11 192,000.00 3/ 93.20 2,060.0000
Lao PDR (Kip) 30,000.00 a/ 3.65 900,000.00
4/
109.38 8,228.3900
Pakistan
(Rupee)
333.33-400.00
a/
3.16-3.79 10,000.00-12,000.00
5/
94.86-113.83 105.4230
Cambodia
(Cambodian Riel)
18,666.67
a/
4.67 560,000.00
6/
140.00 4,000.0000
Vietnam
(Dong)
80,000.00 – 116,666.67
a/
3.55- 5.18 2,400,000.00 -3,500,000.00
7/
106.54-155.37 22,527.5000
Indonesia
(Rupiah)
36,666.67 – 103,333.33
a/
2.80- 7.88 1,100,000.00 -3,100,000.00
8/
83.93-236.53 13,106.2000
Philippines/XI-A(Peso)  317..00
9/
6.72 9,510.00
b/
201.56 47.1823
Philippines/VII
(Peso)
295.00- 353.00
10/
6.25-7.48 8,850.00 -10,590.00
b/
187.57- 224.45 47.1823
Philippines/III
(Peso)
313.00- 357.00
11/
6.63-7.71 9,390.00 -10,920.00
b/
200.42- 233.07 47.1823
Malaysia
(Ringgit)
26.67 -30.00
12/
6.57- 7.39 800.00 -900.00 199.02-231.44 4.0614
Philippines/IV-A(Peso)  267.00-362.50
13/
6.04-8.02 8,010.00 -10,875.00
b/
181.21-240.66 47.1823
Thailand/Bangkok
(Baht)
300.00
14/
8.59 9,000.00
b/
257.61 34.9369
China
(Yuan Renminbi)
27.67 – 60.27
a/
4.15 -9.11 830.00 -1,820.00
15/
124.61-273.24 6.6607
Philippines/NCR (Peso) 444.00-481.00
16/
9.62-10.41 13,320.00-14,430.00
b/
288.67-312.19 47.1823
Taiwan
(Taiwan Dollar)
920.00
17/
28.77 27,600.00
b/
863.19 31.9745
Hongkong
($HK)
260.00
a/
33.52 7,800.00
18/
1,005.61 7.7565
South Korea
(Won)
44,640.00
19/
39.57 1,339,200.00
b/
1,187.20 1,128.0300
Japan
(Japan Yen)
5,424.00 – 7,280.00
20/
51.69-69.37 162,720.00 – 218,400.00
b/
1,550.56-2,081.13 104.9430
New Zealand
(New Zealand Dollar)
94.40 – 118.00
21/
66.91-83.64 2,832.00 – 3,540.00
b/
2,007.37-2,509.21 1.4108
Australia
(Australian Dollar)
138.32
a/
103.96 4,149.60
22/
3,118.83 1.3305

 

http://www.nwpc.dole.gov.ph/pages/statistics/stat_comparative.html

Mexico

Manufacturing average income – in pesos $551 per month, $353 in dollars

http://www.worldsalaries.org/mexico.shtml

http://www.businessinsider.com/mexicans-get-paid-less-for-their-work-than-any-other-developed-country-2015-7

Overall list

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country

Clearly if the cost of living in America stayed where it is now these wages would never support individuals or families. If the cost of things fell dramatically in order to match up with the wages what would America look like then? Would it look like the 1950’s when my father was able to barely support 10 people with $10,000/year? The wages we are talking about don’t even get us the 50’s back. Would we look like a more medieval culture with the very poor essentially in serfdom to the very rich? Are you sure you want your jobs back?

We haven’t even talked about the pollution our beloved factories left behind, both the stuff they told us about and the hidden wastes they never remembered to mention. We could have the smog that hung over our cities although I doubt that is something any of us have missed. There are valid things that we really do miss without our factories and the corporations they made things for, but I am starting to picture a viable future economy, however slowly it is emerging, without them. When Donald Trump promises to bring back our jobs, obviously that does not sound quite as positive to me as it does to some of you.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

(This article appears on my website http://thearmchairobserver.com/ in a more rudimentary form. Look in the archives dated 4/17/2014.)

Gary Johnson /Libertarian – From the Cheap Seats

 

libertarians3bigGaryJohnson

Gary Johnson, a Libertarian is running for President in 2016. Although he would never be my choice, as an option to Donald Trump he seems like a stellar choice for Conservatives and I am surprised that more Republicans have not jumped on board. Except for the fact that he thinks we should legalize drugs, especially marijuana, to end the War on Drugs and that we should treat drugs use as an illness, not a criminal act, his platform seems as if it is right out of the Republican playbook

Gary Johnson spent two terms as the Governor of New Mexico and he managed to leave New Mexico with a million dollar surplus although he had to slash and burn to do it. He is a small government guy. He wants to close the Department of Education and HUD immediately if he wins the election. He is in favor of letting the states deal with most social programs on their own and he favors vouchers for schooling and privatizing prisons.

He believes in low taxes which is good because by the time he has finished cutting budget items he doesn’t need all that revenue. He used the veto 200 times in his first six months in office (Wiki) and has been called “Veto Johnson” and “Governor Veto” (Wiki). He was considered a good governor in New Mexico although some of his more controversial ideas did not fly. “Johnson’s accomplishments in office were described as follows: “no tax increases in six years, a major road building program, shifting Medicaid to managed care, constructing two new private prisons, canning 1,200 state employees, and vetoing a record number of bills. He really became popular for his handling of the disastrous Cerro Grande Fire.

LIbertariansbig

You can find a list of his statements on important Presidential issues at

http://www.ontheissues.org/Gary_Johnson.htm

To summarize, here are just a few of the stands he has taken, stated in his own words:

On abortion his most recent stand was “don’t require insurers to provide birth control, May 2012”;

On economics he states “National debt approaching $20 trillion is bankrupting us, Jan. 2016” and “No bank bailout; no farm subsidies; no stimulus, May, 2012”, “Cut federal budget by 43% to bring it into balance, Feb. 2012, “End the Fed; they’ve devalued the dollar by printing money, May, 2011”

Where have I heard these cold-hearted judgments based on an economic point of view that is not shared by all economists? Republicans say these things incessantly – they say them as if they become truer with repetition. Yes, Mr. Johnson left New Mexico with a 1 million dollar surplus, but why? How does having money sitting in a government account help the people? How did almost shutting down the New Mexico state government to attempt to extort acceptance of school vouchers help the people?

Johnson is against the Affordable Care Plan, says that “government managed healthcare is insanity”, says “ObamaCare is unconstitutional; so is Bush’s Medicare Rx plan” and these are obviously statements that warm the cockles of many a heart on the right. He does however, want to “let the Patriot Act expire” and he says, “the Founding Fathers would be disgusted about spying on Citizens”, which might not go over quite as well with Conservatives.

Some quotes on War and Peace:

  • We are no safer after years of failed nation-building abroad. (Jan 2016)
  • Afghan nation-building will fail; withdraw immediately. (Aug 2012)
  • Cut all support and aid to Israel. (May 2012)
  • No military threat from Iraq, Afghanistan, nor Libya. (Aug 2011)
  • Iran is not currently a military threat. (Aug 2011)
  • Let Israel deal with Iranian nukes; not US role to tell them. (Aug 2011)
  • Absolutely would not have gone into Libya; get out now. (Jul 2011)
  • We wiped out al Qaeda 10 years ago; leave Afghanistan. (Jun 2011)
  • No threat from Libya; so no authority to topple dictator. (Jun 2011)
  • Afghan War initially warranted, but not for 10 years. (May 2011)
  • Military surveillance should discover WMD before invasion. (May 2011)
  • I opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. (May 2011)
  • No Afghan timetable; start tomorrow & finish in a few months. (May 2011)
  • Eliminate ineffective interventions in Iraq & Afghanistan. (May 2011)

These stands are more purely Libertarian and might be tough to swallow for some Republicans.

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All in all Gary Johnson has much more in common with Republicans and the right than he does with any Democrats and his economic policies would be real deal breakers for voters seeking an alternative to Hillary Clinton, but not so much to voters looking to ditch Donald Trump. Although I don’t even like to think about having a Libertarian in the White House, given the nonsense that Grover Norquist, another Libertarian, has caused with his well-enforced pledge against raising taxes, I favor having more than two parties involved in America elections and I favor it even more in times like these when there is such an enormous partisan divide.

Kill Hillary?..the Fight for Women’s Rights

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The battles women have fought for their rights have been many and fierce. There is a museum exhibit that has a table set with 39 plates for women who got a seat at the table through stubborn will and tenacious intelligence. There are 999 names on the white tile floor below the table of women who contributed much but did not quite win a coveted seat.

There is a Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY to commemorate the first Women’s Rights Convention held there in July, 1848 and to honor the women who courted cultural disdain and ostracism to fight the surprisingly long battle to get men to accept women as equals.

There is no part of our original Constitution or our Bill of Rights that acknowledged females as people and there is no language that denies that women are people. It was not unprecedented in Europe to have Queens, but it was usually treated as sort of an aberration and Queens were almost forced to marry, except in the famous case of Elizabeth II in England. Men in early America did not even consider giving women the right to vote and women did not think to petition for it. Culturally men ruled the roost when the Constitution was written.

Women Suffragettes won the vote in a sort of a mash up with the Prohibition ladies in 1919 and the Constitution was amended to include the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in 1920. Now it is the 21st century and we have still never elected a woman to our highest office and women are sadly underrepresented in Congress. Wouldn’t it be fine to have a woman President when this amendment celebrated its one hundredth anniversary?

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As I watch the media pile hypothetical sin after hypothetical sin onto Hillary Clinton who is running to be our President in 2016 I can’t help but think that this is the last gasp of men grasping to hang on to power, which men are not even losing, only sharing.

MSNBC has some of the worst Hillary bashers, although these men could not actually want Trump to be President. Joe Scarborough, Mark Halperin who has even joined Scarborough on Morning Joe lately, Chuck Todd, and their many male guests go on and on about Hillary’s “unfavorable” like members of a gossipy 50’s coffee klatch full of mean girls.

Even when Donald Trump (who knows very well that Hillary has no plans to change the 2nd Amendment in any way) dog whistles (loudly) to the NRA and the 2nd Amendment people – people whose first thought in a fight is perhaps to vote with a gun – and uses a deliberately veiled reference that could be construed as an invitation to assassination, the equivocation begins almost immediately. Never mind that these could be the same militia people who were prepared to start a war on behalf of a rancher who was cheating by grazing his cows on government land without paying the rather reasonable fees. Donald Trump knows that there are mentally ill people out there who would delight in killing Hillary, or, in fact, anyone Trump fingered; so do the news people who have now turned on Hillary Clinton (to escape the wrath of the Donald?).

Hillary has been smeared with so much mud by all these men that we may never know if any of it is real. These men spent the entire day after Donald Trump threw out his off the cuff threat arguing that he did not know what he was saying and that he was trying to be funny. Well I have a hypothetical for all Trump’s defenders. He did not phrase his remarks the way he did by accident; they were in fact carefully crafted to walk the legal line and be deniable in future conversations. They were designed to make his followers swoon once again at Donald’s audacity and to elicit the twisted admiration that he loves to bask in.

Yesterday the top story shifted so quickly to the unproven scandal of the supposed pay for play activities of the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State that I got whiplash. Today we are deep into Hillary bashing and repeating Donald’s excuses which somehow always allows him to repeat the jabs he has recently been most proud of pulling off. No matter what Hillary has or hasn’t done it can’t be as poisonous as what these folks are doing. Mayor Giuliani, shame on you.

So men are obviously not ready for a female President and women are back in this place where we have another fight on our hands and we have been fighting this particular battle for the past eight years in one way or another. The war on women in which Republicans tried to fight against women’s freedom to control their own bodies and their own reproductive rights was often a fight about the beliefs of some men that the world was a better place when women were submissive and when they stayed at home. Women’s pursuit of satisfying careers ruined the nuclear family, or so these men believe, and all manner of cultural evils have ensued, so if we put women back in the kitchen these disruptive cultural trends will go away and there will be peace in the land forever and ever. There are men who fervently believe this stuff and they do not want Hillary Clinton, or indeed, any woman to be the President of the United States.

While women would like to win something without a pitched battle and tons of mental and social angst that is not what is going to happen in the 2016 election. It is as fraught a moment as any instance of cultural change and rather than dancing and toasting with champagne we will obviously be slogging through mud right to the bitter end.