The Debate in Atlanta

It was a good one. The candidates showed voters that the nation has people of substance to choose from and I found it inspiring that they all spoke of the importance of unifying the nation. They were reaching out to all Americans.

No one in particular ran away with it but I think Warren and Biden are beginning to edge out the rest of the group.

Medicare for All will be the crucial issue throughout the race. It will probably sink Sanders since he’s taken the most extreme position, that of pushing the program from day one in office. The issue could end up damaging Warren also, but she’s starting to sound a more gradualist approach so she’ll fare better than the Vermont Senator.

Biden surprised me in that he appears to be growing stronger as the campaign moves on. He stumbled once but held up pretty well overall.

Booker was spirited, as were Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, Buttigieg, Steyer, Harris and Gabbard.

One of them will end up being the Vice-presidential candidate.

If Warren wins the nomination, she’ll likely not choose Biden as VP but if Biden is the winner, he will pick a woman from the group of Warren, Klobuchar and Harris.

Who will Warren choose as running mate? I think she’ll go with Booker, with Yang and Buttigieg having a chance at it.

The new entries in the race, Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick, have little chance to catch up. They were too late to get going.

The next debate is in Los Angeles in early December.

Warren the Intemperate

She may well win the democratic party’s nomination but it is looking unlikely that she’ll beat Trump.

In the reaction to Trump’s excesses in office, Warren is waving too frantically the banner of government remedies. Gradualism, which allows for the American entrepreneurial spirit to blossom, is being pushed aside.

In the reaction to Trump’s excesses, the democratic party ends up playing Trump’s game. A game that seeks to antagonize and divide.

Trump knows that there is a constituency in the middle that is unlikely to buy into the Medicare for All plan.

He knows that there is a constituency in the middle that is not ready to say that college education should be free.

Trump knows that the same constituency will not tolerate high taxes on the rich.

And he seems confident in the belief that, though that constituency disapproves of his conduct in many ways, when pushed, they would rather go to the polls holding their noses and vote for him, than to risk the radical changes Warren is now offering.

Will the nation be better off if health care delivery is improved and made more inclusive?  Yes.

Will we be better off with greater access to college and quality schools? Yes.

Will we be better off with tax reform where the richest pay more than they do now? Absolutely.

But it needs to happen gradually.

Warren needs to have two main plans. One plan to get in, the other to gradually begin to make the changes. But she needs to get in first.

She needs to get in and by showing herself a capable president, then begin to persuade us that some of those fundamental changes must be made.

We need to see her being open to compromise, to dialogue. We need to see her open to accept that while the system needs a lot of fixing, there’s also a lot of good stuff that should not be trimmed. And it takes time, sweat and tears, to do all that maneuvering.

We need to see a politician do the politician’s work of horse trading. Simply because that’s the nature of the business. Lots and lots of horse trading. Until she proves herself capable of reaching for the best in all of us.

Telling us that she has a plan for everything smells too much of government overreach. If she stays on that track, she’ll be playing Trump’s game and will not get in.

Trump has no plan and he’s okay with that. Or, his only plan to get reelected is to defend the status quo, stirring up hatred against the incoming democratic socialists.  

Warren the politician needs to step up. Warren the professor and preacher needs to sit down.

It shouldn’t be hard.

Will Impeachment Eclipse the Drive to November 2020?

The impeachment inquiry is taking up a whole lot of time and energy, whereas the outcome is very uncertain.

Trump cannot keep from making mistake after mistake, but for democrats to use up so many resources, to the point of diminishing the drive to persuade enough voters to beat him at the ballot box, is a monumental mistake.

At present, the center stage is Trump’s and he loves it, and that is not lost on the electorate who is not inclined to read the fine print in the multitude of documents to be reviewed. Soon they will be bored with the proceedings.

‘It will turn out to be a positive for me,’ Trump said defiantly in response to the announcement of the inquiry. I suspect he will be right.

Subpoenas will be issued and the many actors will take their seat in front of the panel of interrogators, but the questions and answers will be difficult to follow. I assure you there will be much frustration as the respondents give vague answers like, ‘I don’t recall’ and ‘To the best of my recollection this is all I know…’ etc.

Let us not forget that in Trump’s universe, there are two kinds of lawyers and only two: those who take notes and those who don’t. He picks those who don’t. Enter Rudy Giuliani.

Will the distinguished former New York mayor have a clear memory of what happened in his many meetings in the Ukraine? Of course not. And the interrogators will be pulling out their hair. Will Ukraine be cooperative? It depends. Do they think Trump will win reelection? Judging by the enthusiasm of Mr Zelensky, their president, Trump is faring well in that land.

There is an abundance of facts to make the case that Trump should not be reelected. But the hard work needed to persuade people to vote for a democratic candidate remains to be done.

There is a thirst in the American electorate for a person to lead us whose task is simply that, to lead. Lead us to connect with each other, to decrease inequality and increase opportunity.

There is a great desire in the American electorate for someone without personal problems, someone who can focus on the task of leadership and is not hungry for personal attention.

But it will take time to clarify the winning message that will make voters eager to cast their ballot come November 2020. There are no short cuts to get there.

Trump can and should be beat at the ballot box.

Impeachment should not eclipse the light that can take us there.

The Problem of Political Correctness

It does not allow for the evolution of a person.

There’s a whole lot that can happen in a 15-20 year span.

A whole lot that can be learned,

A whole lot of transformation that can take place.

So to pillory people, of whatever political ideology

For events going back more than 15 or 20 years

Is to ask for a standard of purity that reeks of absurdity.

Life and events affect us profoundly,

Sometimes taking us in very different directions.

To not allow for this, risks filtering out people

With great ability and healing capacity.

Judging a person by their actions (unless criminal) in the last 15-20 years,

The span of a generation,

Should be enough to know where they stand.

Beware models of purity,

They come in boxes where rich imaginations cannot live.

An Unnecessary War

Trump is on the verge of ordering an attack on Iran.

If he had not pulled out of the agreement with that nation, calling for it to halt their development of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, an agreement arduously negotiated by Obama and including European nations and Japan, we would not have this crisis.

The deal was to last 10 years, during which there would have been time for changes to occur in Iran, but Trump was seduced by Netanyahu into breaking the pact and here we are on the brink of war.

If we go to war this will be Trump’s war, timed perfectly with Netanyahu’s bid for another term as prime minister of Israel in tomorrow’s election.

Here’s a leader, Israeli voters can confidently say as they head to the polls, who can whisper things in Trump’s ear and make things happen,

Woe to us for tolerating this.

American Factory. The Documentary. A Review.

In 2010, a plant that had been vacated two years earlier by General Motors in Dayton, Ohio, was taken over by Fuyao, a Chinese manufacturer of glass for automobiles. ‘American Factory’ is the story of what transpired as two cultures came together to make the enterprise successful.

It wasn’t easy. Each side had to work hard to try and understand the other.

A group of experienced Chinese workers is brought in to teach the work to the Americans. The Chinese do the complicated technical job effortlessly as the Americans look on. It will take time for them to come up to speed.

Some Chinese are skeptical or scornful.

‘Their fingers are fat,’ says one Chinese supervisor. ‘They are lazy’ says another. ‘In China the workers do six (12 hour) shifts a week, with two days off per month. The Americans do only 8 hours a day and don’t like to work the weekends.’

One Chinese executive, after explaining the best approach to working with the Americans, ends by reminding his Chinese audience that they are better than their hosts.

And yet, there is kindness on both sides.

An American worker speaks warmly of his Chinese supervisor and all that the man has taught him. In turn, he invites the supervisor and fellow Chinese to his farm.

We hear a Chinese worker showing admiration for the American lifestyle. He’s had to make sacrifices in coming to the US, like not seeing his family for long periods at a time.

A group of American supervisors invited to China to see the company’s factories witness the enthusiasm of their people, but also are struck by the strict regimentation of the workers. Is that what it has taken for their country to rise so quickly?

Like with their Chinese counterparts, the pressure of factory production on the Americans is demanding and unforgiving, requiring an enormous amount of attention to detail. A mistake and you’re injured. A little slow and you’re out.

American managers have their problems too. At the beginning we’re shown one such manager enthusiastically advocating for Fuyao. At the end he’s been sacked. He’s bitter.

Transplanting to the US the Chinese company’s style leads to mounting grievances and eventually the Americans try to unionize, but the majority vote against it. They want their jobs. ‘All the union will do,’ says one worker – a woman, ‘is keep the bad workers…’

The film is many things, and one that is plain is the contrast between the managerial and worker classes.

We’re told that Fuyao did not become profitable until 2018, all the while paying its employees $14 and hour. When General Motors was the employer, some workers were making $29 an hour. But Fuyao was now the only option available.

Think of the car you drive and the clear and sturdy windshield that helps you cruise smoothly at 80 miles per hour or more, your hair unruffled by the wind. The film shows us the complexity and skill involved in making possible that experience, the many steps necessary to deliver a light panel of glass that will not blow up in your face. And think then of how little the workers are paid.

Thought provoking and humane, we come away from the viewing of the film with a sense of how much needs to be done to build bridges across nations, and across social classes.

The Speech that Biden and Sanders are About to Give.

(It was written by the two and is to be delivered by them at two separate locations at the same time)

Dear fellow Americans,

At no time in our history, have so many talented women chosen to run for the office of president. At no time has there been such great need for our best publicly minded citizens to step forward.

The values that our nation holds dear, freedom, openness, fairness, strength of character, compassion, are under assault by the bigoted and the small minded.

Democracy itself being under siege, it is urgent that we join forces to fight back against those who seek to divide us and plunge us into darkness.

The two of us have a long history in politics. You may disagree with us on some matters, but we both are confident that, in our different capacities and to the best of our abilities, we have always endeavored to do the best we could for the nation.

And so it is that with both sadness and joy, the two of us would like to announce that we are no longer seeking the office of the presidency.

We are saddened because we are putting aside our highest personal ambition, which is not easy.

We are joyful because we think our decision will pave the way for a woman to become president to all Americans.

We democrats are facing in Mr Trump a candidate who will be showered with money by the financiers and business people who want to continue to get the tax cuts and deregulations that favor them.  

We democrats are facing in Mr Trump a candidate for whom money will not be an obstacle in this election, because the affluent class of this country sees him as their best hope to maintain inequality and keep them in power .

But the unfairness we are seeing in taxes, in health care, in education, is breaking our backs and degrading the American spirit.

This is the time to stand up against those forces that keep spreading the word that if the very rich cannot keep getting richer, why then there would be no more creativity in the land.

This is the time to rise against those forces that keep telling us that if the very rich are not given unlimited privileges, why then the rest of us would not have it in ourselves to find our way to prosperity and harmony.

They are wrong. Very wrong.

We democrats, strongly believe, that when education and health care are made available to all of us, then that will release the drive and ingenuity that is needed to create a world where there is dignity alongside plenty.

And we believe, that this very special moment in our history, is just the right time for an American woman to step front and rise to the office of the presidency, leading us to unity, greater prosperity and reestablishing our place among the nations of the world.  

In 1789, two hundred and thirty years ago, we elected George Washington as our first president.

During those two hundred and thirty years since we elected George Washington, we have never elected a woman president.

Two hundred and thirty years.

My fellow Americans, don’t tell us that in nearly a quarter of a millennium there has not been a highly qualified woman capable of carrying out the duties of president of this nation.

There has not been a woman president in our land because consciously or unconsciously, overtly or covertly, we consistently have thought of ourselves as better than them.

Let us be brave and admit it, for that is the first step toward healing the soul.

Look into your heart and tell us that you have not come across a woman who was just as talented as you are or more.

Look into your heart and tell us that you have not come across a woman who did not have ample leadership qualities.

If you haven’t then you haven’t looked. If you haven’t then you have been blind. Talented women are everywhere, they are standing next to us this moment. They are present in every field of endeavor, and they have been vastly underutilized.

It has been our loss. We cannot afford such waste.

Our current president is a symbol of the undervaluing of women. Put aside his many degrading remarks and just look at the composition of his cabinet. Out of 15 positions, only 2 are presently occupied by women. Only 2, the secretaries of education and transportation. Is this not a representative democracy?

Both of us who have crafted this speech have had good political careers. We’re not done yet. But we think that we both have had a good run and that it is time to step aside and let a woman move forward.

We are taking this position, more than a year before the election, because we believe that the electorate needs to get to know the women candidates for president. We are also taking this position partly because of our age, and there’s no turning back the hands of time.

We may have our own preferences as to a woman candidate, but we are not endorsing anyone just now.

We strongly believe, however, that during this next year before the general election, we will need to concentrate our efforts and that the less diluted the field is, the more clear our choice will become, and the less likely it will be that we squander much needed resources.

Fellow Americans, the nation needs to heal.

Our current president is tearing us apart.

We need someone with the capacity to reach out to those whose animosity is consuming them, remind them that in unity lies our strength, and so begin to build the bridges to a fairer, kinder and stronger America.

Let us make 2020, the Year of the American Woman*. By then, it will have been 231 years since we elected our 1st president.

Thank you

And God bless America.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

*The idea that 2020 be designated the Year of the American Woman, was first proposed on 7/18/2019 by an obscure California writer and blogger who shall remain unnamed.

Hong Kong and the Tariff war.

There they are, week after week, the residents of Hong Kong protesting the mainland’s suppression of their liberties, in violation of the agreement China signed in 1997 with England which would guarantee the territory keeping their rights for another 50 years. Week after week the protesters continue to fight, and week after week the police and armed thugs push them back.

Is the rest of the world taking a firm stand against the mainland’s repression of the protesters?

No.

The US could be summoning international support to tell China not to mistreat the protesters but it is not. And it is not because Mr Trump has not valued our alliances.

Our president may think he has achieved a great victory in getting China – through his imposition of tariffs – to drop from being our number one trading partner to becoming our third largest, behind Canada and Mexico, but that is no victory at all. Instead, what the tariffs have done is increase animosities and hurt the global economy.

As Trump has carried on with applying tariffs on China and threatening them on our allies, our stature in the world has diminished.

As Trump has carried on against immigrants, our moral standing has suffered too.

Meanwhile, with each protest, the people in Hong Kong keep sending out a call to the nations of the world to take a stand with them in the fight for freedom. We used to be able to hear those calls but gone is our moral leadership.

Can we ask China not to repress the protesters in Hong Kong when we are bashing them with tariffs? They would laugh at us.

Can we ask the rest of the world to take a stand with us? The likely answer, ‘aren’t you all about making America great again? That doesn’t include us, does it?’

The courageous people of Hong Kong will fight on because that is their precious land. They are fighting for their freedom. They are also fighting for the freedom of all Chinese, even those in the mainland whose voices are harshly suppressed.

One day China will be free, and they will do so fueled by the memories of the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters in Hong Kong.

What Mr Trump doesn’t get, is that China’s drive for becoming a great nation cannot be stopped.

Yes, they have traded unfairly and stolen technology, but they have it in them to learn from it and create their own. Didn’t they already travel to the other side of the moon without our help?

A different approach to the trade problem was available, and still is, one that includes cooperation with our allies who are also affected. But our myopic president dismissed such option. The complexities of the world dwarf him.

Had he not started a tariff war, we, and the rest of the world, could well have been in a better position to stand together in defense of Hong Kong.

And yet, still we hope, that Hong Kong doesn’t turn into another Tiananmen.

The Financier Jeffrey Epstein. A Brief Note.

He made a lot of money and used it to abuse underage women. He could hire the best attorneys to minimize culpability, he had mansions and private islands and knew lots of famous people,

and yet

ended up dying in a prison cell, by his own hand.

All that money can buy did not help.

All that money can buy did not get him the serenity to face his sexual urges and say, ‘I must control this. I am harming other human beings and myself. I am taking advantage of underage women.’

All that money can buy did not get him the inner strength to say, ‘I am a capable man but my sexual urges overwhelm me, I cannot control them.’

All that money can buy, all those ‘high powered’ people he surrounded himself with, none of it, was enough to get him a moment of quiet were he could say, ‘I need help. I am desperately in need of it. I cannot manage my impulses on my own. I do not have the power. Money does not give me that power. How can I find it? Where?’

Maybe he even had moments when he looked up the number of a psychiatrist or psychologist and almost dialed it, maybe even passed by the office, thought of going in, even knocked on the door only to change his mind at the last minute.

Maybe.

Did anyone around the wealthy financier, did anyone close to Jeffrey ever say to him, ‘dear man… you are ill… very ill… and you need help. With help you can heal. There is help. Help to turn your life around. Please get help, for your sake and that of others.”

All that money can buy.   

Tariffs and The Entertainer in Chief

It is the beginning of the end.

By now it should be clear to our president, like it is to most of us, that the tariff war with China cannot be won. Trade with China needs fixes, of course, but the way our president has gone about it has been self-defeating. His style is aimed more at playing to the world and propping up his fragile ego than to secure a favorable deal.

In the excitement of his impulsive tweets and the frenzy of his contradictions, he has revealed his style to China and they have taken notice.

Sure, he can say one thing now and stocks go up, another thing later the same day and stocks go down, but the market is not the economy.

Gradually, through his erratic ways, he has proven himself unsteady, eroding business confidence and doing real damage to the economy.

The economy can still recover – after a period to make the adjustment – but it would take for Mr Trump to see it as a priority and to focus on stability.

There is nothing to suggest that precious quality lives in him.

Curiously, he knows that a sound economy is essential to keeping alive his hopes of being reelected, but his need to see himself as Entertainer in Chief overpowers his better judgment.

And that’s who we’re stuck with.

A man who one moment wants to buy Greenland (which could be a sound idea if approached sensibly instead of in a capricious tweet), another moment wants Netanyahu in Israel to bar two US congresswomen from visiting the West Bank, then wants to invite Putin to the next G7 meeting – never mind his power grab of Crimea in the Ukraine, and the shooting down of a commercial airliner killing everyone on board, including distinguished scientists – and why not have the meeting at Mar-a-Lago and play a round of golf? Putin, who interfered in the 2016 election and will surely interfere again. Or as Robert Mueller said recently before congress, it is already happening.

Meanwhile, China watches.

China knows to wait out our president. They have taken the measure of the man.

They are willing to endure whatever hardship the trade war will bring for they will not bow to Trump and his swashbuckling style.

Trump doesn’t get that. And we and the world will pay the price.

Maybe that is what it will take for us not to make the same mistake again.