Posts Tagged ‘China’

Trump Couldn’t Lose for WInning

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Who knew?

     Who knew?

Sitting and watching the March blizzard do its thing outside the window — working, working, working to shut everything down — a memory from the 2016 presidential campaign snuck into my consciousness. The post kept popping up on my Facebook feed, but I honestly can’t remember the original source of the news. I’m also not in the mood to go researching for it because I didn’t think it was fake news then and today I am convinced it is the god’s honest truth.

In brief, one of DT’s former aides (of which there are many) wrote an article in which she claimed he never expected to win the Republican nomination and the election. Indeed, she said he did not want to win the election. Rather, she said, he just wanted to get his name out there for whatever profit he could gain from the publicity and maybe help launch a TV network he was planning. Branding.

Less than two months since his inauguration, it’s obvious: Donald Trump likes being president, but he is less than fond of doing president. The title and the glory are great — right up his alley. Put a big, gold “T” on the White House.

But the work? Daily intelligence briefings? Reading reports on the battle against ISIS? Getting up to speed on how complicated health care is? Learning the difference between the debt and the deficit, Medicaid and Medicare, China and Taiwan, Iran and Iraq, legal and unconstitutional? Isn’t that what we have Mike Pence for?

The man has no patience for details, for facts, for differing opinions, for the legal process, for diplomacy, for Cabinet meetings, for, at the very least, hiring people to fill the hundreds of federal government jobs unfilled since he took office. Who knew being president was such a big job?

Well, for one, his predecessor. And, with varying degrees of success, a long line of predecessors before Barack Obama.

Getting back to that aide’s story … Was there ever a campaign for president run with such obvious disregard for facts? WIth such disdain and outright rudeness aimed at other candidates? With such arrogant disregard for the bigotry and violence it encouraged in its followers? With such crudeness towards women, minorities, the physically handicapped? With such an ill-informed, self-obsessed liar as the candidate?

Rhetorical questions.

It was a campaign expressly designed for maximum press coverage, which it got. What went wrong for Trump is that he was up against the worst field of Republican candidates imaginable, few of whom had the guts to match him insult for insult (some of whom now kiss up to him since he’s the titular head of their party) and then ran into the most disliked Democrat in America as his opponent in the general campaign. Even encouraging the Russians to wiretap Hillary Clinton wasn’t enough to doom the Trump campaign.

Hard as he tried, most Republican leaders and elected officials couldn’t bring themselves to publicly call him a bully and a liar and a fraud and so their voters — the ones who weren’t outright racists or conspiracy theorists or rightwing extremists, all of whom loved him from the get-go — went for the celebrity candidate who promised them … well, whatever they wanted him to promise them.

I won’t be playing golf every week, he promised. Mexico will pay for the wall, he promised. Social Security and Medicare are safe, he promised, Everyone will have health care, he promised. How could he know that House Speaker Paul Ryan hated Social Security and Medicare and had no clue about how health insurance worked? That would have required understanding all that stuff himself and talking to Ryan about it. Work.

Trump’s bad luck followed him into November. Clinton beat him by three million votes and still lost, thanks to the Electoral College, which is a concept the new president surely still does not understand. Although he swears he had the widest winning margin there in decades. He couldn’t lose for winning, no matter how hard he tried. And now he has to try to convince a bunch of much smarter people who report to him every day that he knows what he’s doing.

Not that they believe him.

Which is our problem, America.

The golf? Jeez, I know I promised I’d be a working president, but this is ridiculous. Anything to get out of that depressing White House every weekend. ISIS this; ISIS that. Merkel this; Merkel that. Warren this; Warren that. What’s wrong with Flynn talking to Russians? Some of my best friends and creditors are Russians. How come nobody told me federal judges were appointed for life? Do I attack North Korea if they launch a missile at us? I can’t believe Ryan is going to try to find money for that stupid wall. Now they’re trying to pin my name on that ridiculous health care plan he came up with. Maybe I can feed that Maddow dame the only legit tax return I have this century to take the heat off the Russia thing. And what the heck is going on with Lindsay Graham and that loser McCain? Is Turkey an ally? Did La La Land win the Oscar or not? Bad dudes in Hollywood. I wonder if Rudy wants his old job back at Justice, or is he ticked I didn’t name him ambassador to Russia? Damn, why does the FBI want to talk to me? Melania!? Melania!? Help! They want me to organize the Easter egg roll! Stop hiding in New York!

Damn, where’d I leave my phone? Maybe I can get Snoop Dog to come down to Mar a Lago for golf this weekend. Hey, Bannon, it’s still Black History Month, isn’t it?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Speak Up Now to Save Mother Earth

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Patrick Gallagher

Downtown Beijing, not on a good day.

Downtown Beijing, not on a good day.

Today on the radio, some coal industry hack stated that the proposed new regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions “would make electricity much more expensive …  if we can even get it.”

I’d be embarrassed if I ever said something that absurd. If we can even get it? Nature and modern electronics allow us to get all the electricity we want, clean, just for the cost of building the collector.

Investing in a smart grid would revolutionize efficiency and create demand for large pools of skilled workers. Fewer people are employed in mining and fracking every year. Those that do keep jobs are treated as badly as our veterans and once they’re used up they get tossed aside as liabilities.

Even Thomas Edison, who was no paragon of green capitalism, and who was deeply invested in mining and other extractive polluting industries, knew that the wisest and cheapest way to get inexpensive energy was going to be from the sun. Okay, so ignore the science that even Edison knew was out there over a hundred years ago. He understood natural capitalism. He was a hero of science and industry to many because he innovated until he succeeded. But the fossil fuel industry is as stagnant as the air over Beijing.

Let’s forget that there is a foolish discussion over whether climate change is real. Even if we are not changing the climate, we are fouling the nest. Can’t deny that! And yet we can get all the clean energy we want. Do we want it or not? is the only real question. For most people, it’s not difficult to answer.

Whoever you are making these statements on the radio, have a little respect for yourself and withdraw that comment from the public record. Stop publicly humiliating your family and future descendants. Do you breathe air and drink water? Do you have a TV? You must if you’re considered worthy of radio air time. Can you see pictures of China’s smog-choked cities? We sell them a lot of that coal. Can you see any of the photos of thermal inversions made from noxious clouds of toxic emissions whose contents and effects are often unpronounceable and unconscionable?

You can’t even see the cities through the smog. That’s not any holy smoke there! That’s not good for jobs or health care costs or kids or anything but Peabody coal and their lobbyists in our government. It’s real good for those revolving-door guys who write our laws that allow this to keep going on. Everybody knows it’s good for them.

Well, that air comes here. Just like the radiation from the Fukashima nuclear plant in Japan and the smokestack emissions from the states in the Midwest that make acid rain in the East. It’s not just the foreign polluters, because we make much more than our share; so let’s not lay it off on some foreign source. That stuff all goes around and around and it ends right up in your kids, but it’s not like musical chairs.

The coal/tar sands/oil/gas/pipeline industry never seems to stop singing to our political system and everybody working for them is always getting a seat. You may have to sit down because you have emphysema or too much mercury in your kidneys. You may not be able to stand up because you live too close to a Frack pad and your ground water’s polluted or you have a nosebleed or a migraine, but you can have a seat as long as you don’t complain and get in the way of corporate profits.

Don’t get sidetracked; it’s not just coal. It’s filthy fuels we have been trained to depend on battling for dominance in a fight to our death. I’m still using my lungs every day; so is my family. And I want to breathe with my lungs and with my family and with my neighbors and with the people I love.

One thing I’ve noticed is that these sorts of unconscious, uninformed statements like the one by the guy on the radio are rarely made by women. Across the country, mothers seem to be coming to the forefront of the environmental movement because the kids are clearly impacted more and more as population grows and increases in worldwide emissions continue. Why do we let a guy like that speak for anyone? Listen, but use your lungs while you can and say something civil and sensible back to these folks. He and his friends just can’t go unanswered anymore.All cultures have always understood that it’s called Mother Earth. What would she say?

Patrick Gallagher lives in Warwick.

 

 

Mr. Obama: No Proof, No Attack on Syria

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

By Bob Gaydos

Here we go again.

A brutal Arab regime, under fire from rebel forces, is accused of using chemical weapons against its own people, women and children included. This violates every rule of warfare and demands military intervention by the United States, to whom the role of defender of democracy and human decency has been assigned by other nations over the years. But like everything else in the Middle East, nothing about the war in Syria is that clear-cut.

The United Nations, established in part to unify and coordinate worldwide reaction to such atrocities, as usual, is paralyzed. Any effort by the U.S. and allies to get Security Council approval for missile or air strikes against the offending party will be blocked by Russia and China, who have veto power. They do not simply follow marching orders from the White House and are big enough to make that matter. That will probably require the U.S. to put together a coalition of enough nations to give the imprimatur of legitimacy, if not legality, for such a military action.

This will likely happen despite conflicting accounts as to who actually used the chemical weapons — the ruling Assad government or the rebels — and with the assurance that U.S. involvement will include only targeted air or missile strikes (remember smart bombs?) and no involvement of ground forces in Syria’s civil war. Apparently, it will also occur without a debate on the issue by the U.S. Congress, which is unfortunate since it is the only branch of government authorized to declare war. In addition, a clear majority of Americans, weary of fighting more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, are opposed to U.S. involvement in another war in the region.

Add to these complications the fact that there has still been no convincing proof given publicly that the Syrian military, not the rebels, employed the nerve gas. Rather, Americans have been reassured by a well-respected secretary of state that the White House is certain the weapons were used by Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s troops and that this is reason enough for U.S. involvement.

Sound familiar? Did anybody in the White House hear former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who made the case for attacking Iraq before the U.N. — recently call out former Vice President Dick Cheney for steamrolling President George W. Bush into attacking Iraq with similar justification and no solid evidence? Since that justifiable “moral” intervention lasted 10 years and cost tens of thousands of lives and destroyed a country, it would seem to behoove President Obama to present undeniable proof of guilt publicly before ordering any attack.

Obama, who has until now wisely resisted calls for U.S. military intervention in Syria, drew a red line in the sand to signal when the U.S. might actually get involved. That’s a risky diplomatic tool. His red line was the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Having made such a declaration and now believing that Syria has, in fact, crossed that line, the president faces a difficult choice. If he follows the will of the American people, recent history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and the lack of publicly offered conclusive evidence on who used the chemical weapons, he would surely not order U.S. warplanes or ships to attack Syria.

However, if he ignores his own red line, other nations that have been given similar warnings about development of nuclear weapons — Iran and North Korea — might feel emboldened to move ahead, figuring Obama was not a man of his word. That the American president was all talk, as it were. Then there is the matter of this being a deplorable act that cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

The key questions to be answered are:

— Who used the nerve gas, the government or the rebels?

— What is an appropriate response?

Given the American public’s growing distrust of the Obama administration because of its widespread spying on American citizens and its vigorous efforts to prosecute whistleblowers — who might be able to answer the question of who used the chemical weapons — the president should insist on a full public debate on Syria by Congress. This would be wise especially if he’s certain he’s got the goods on Assad. This would also be wise given the extended U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little obvious gain except to the corporations that provide the machinery of war. Obama should welcome a full and open discussion by Congress of the situation and the options.

There is no good choice here. Some party is using chemical weapons against the people of Syria to further its own interests. This is barbaric. Just look at the photos of the bodies of dead children lined up. A surgical air strike or ship-launched missiles, aimed at the guilty parties only and the machinery that allows them to use the weapons, would be a viable military option. But “surgical” air strikes have been notoriously imprecise in the past. Innocent people have been killed in the name of protecting innocent people.

The obvious preference would be for a diplomatic solution that spares lives. That would probably require Obama to somehow convince Russia and China, friendly with the Syrian government, to work with him on a peaceful solution. Assad leaving Syria would be one. If that is not possible and if the president can provide conclusive and independently verifiable (say, by United Nations inspectors) proof of guilt by the Syrian government, and if Congress is given the evidence and conducts a public debate, and if more nations than Syria’s immediate neighbors (Turkey and Jordan) as well as U.S. ally Great Britain, support the action, Obama would be justified in launching a limited military intervention in Syria.

That’s a lot of ifs, to be sure and war is seldom the answer. Still, there are no ifs, ands or buts that whoever inflicted chemical weapons on the children of Syria must be made to pay.

bob@zestoforange.com

American-Made Christmas

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Shawn Dell Joyce
Americans, already cash-strapped from a sagging economy, are shelling out more than $22.9 million this holiday season to buy toys for lucky little girls and boys. This $22.9 million would make a sweet bail-out for U.S. toy manufacturers if we actually had any. Unfortunately, most of that money is already on its way to China where almost all toys are made that are commercially available in big box stores.

Chinese produced toys are far cheaper than American made, but are they worth it? More than 60 percent of the recalls issued this year and 79 percent of toys recalled last year by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission were from China. But those products were just a tiny drop in the flood of 17 million shipments of everything from Chinese organic produce to medicines and housewares.

The flood of consumer goods from China has nearly tripled since 1997, and the number of recalls has grown proportionately. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is deluged by this flood. The FDA has only 1,317 field investigators for 320 ports of entry. The agency inspects just 0.7 percent of all imports, half of what it did a decade ago. David Acheson, an assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA, points out that it would be impossible to test all Chinese imports. “It’s got to be based on risk,” says Acheson.

And risky it is. Just think of the 100 Panamanians who lost their lives using cough syrup made in China with diethylene glycol (mislabeled as glycerin). Or the people who were injured from ingesting tainted seafood, slipping on faulty swimming pool ladders, or in auto accidents caused by shoddy Chinese-made tires. Even worse are the homes lost to fires caused by faulty electrical wiring in Chinese-made lighting, extension cords and heaters. China has even reintroduced lead poisoning to American children through paint and metal on cheap toys.

“After discovering that a toy I purchased for my grandson was recalled in May,” says Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., “I asked myself the same question parents across the country are asking today: Who is in charge?” Durbin was disturbed to learn that one employee at the CPSC is responsible for testing toys and ensuring toy safety throughout the country. Durbin is sponsoring legislation to expand the CPSC.

FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because “they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.”

Last summer, China quietly surpassed the United States as the world’s top polluter. China has no real environmental safeguards in place to protect drinking water from contaminants, no labor laws to keep children out of sweatshops, no legal ethics to keep entrepreneurs from producing dangerous products. In addition, our communities suffer financially when we buy imports over locally made goods. When we opt for a cheaper import, our dollars flow out of our community and fund a system that degrades people and the planet. Our small businesses suffer, manufacturing jobs leave, and we find ourselves with boarded-up storefronts in our downtowns. This economic exodus further devalues our currency and increases the demand for “cheap.”

A recent economic study conducted in Austin, Texas found that if each household in Travis County redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores (carrying cheap imports) to locally owned merchants, the economic impact would reach approximately $10 million. Imagine what $10 million could do for your community.