Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Freedom From Facts: Truth As Fetishism

Sunday, June 25th, 2017


From a site called which seems to be some kind of Islamic fundamentalist site.

I am tempted to post another paper, but hell, I decided to do a little ranting for a change. The Earth is flat again! Climate change is a hoax! As Firesign Theatre one proclaimed “Everything You Know is Wrong!” I would comment on the Trump phenomenon but things are changing so rapidly that anything I say today will be old news in a day or two. so I will keep the political commentary focused on the long haul. Or the short dig, I am not thinking too good these days, Things, facts, data, all floating around my brain…. can’t think….


The Nazi’s are back, interesting that it was American advertising genius that taught the Nazi’s propaganda, Trump is just owning the concept, rebranding. From

Recently I have become interested in Critical Theory, mostly feminist, post-Marxist and the rest of what they are teaching in the Universities these days. I just finished my Geography degree, although I spent a lot of time taking history and classics. I was going to be an English Lit major, but got tracked into English Rhetoric, which is really prep for teaching or in my case technical writing. I hate technical writing, but I was getting money from the state to go through the program while I was on dialysis and then rehabilitation from my transplant. Free money from the state, what was I going to do? I took it and endured. But then I started working again. Drag, yes, but hell, it was what my machine self was created for. Hooboy, that opens a can of worms, dualism versus monism.



I like to try things out. I even am trying on this whole Trump white race is good thing. Not exactly my identity, after all I am a believer in the old Lou Reed song “I want to be black” and have spent much of my adult life becoming a self identified under class person, so much so that in fact, surprise, surprise, that is exactly what I have become. An earnest, poor person struggling to join the middling classes. How ironic, how appropriate, I lecture minority youth on the benefits of good credit, how to pass for passive when the cops are on your case, how to get grants and find public education rather than getting trapped in debt with scam for profit school education. Although I must admit, one girlfriend has gone to one of those schools and has her Dental assistant degree and she loves that shit.



Another girlfriend did the for profit school medical assistant program and is really bored being a billing clerk. She has debt, not tons, but was it worth it? I got my Geography degree and what do I do, estimating for a graphic design and commercial print and packaging company, its kind of boring, but then I have my own office, I get respect more or less, and I can look up academic papers on line between working on estimates. I am thinking about a paper on the effects of climate change on the prophetic and messianic process during the Reformation. I am beginning to think that the technological changes with the invention of the Printing Press was more of a factor, but I am having fun researching. Getting a masters, now that should be interesting, if I don’t die first.



So what to say, Dump Trump, sure, but Pence? No, Trump at least wants to be loved and will cater to some extent to a populist agenda. Pence and the rest of the crew are straight up Republican establishment types. What is really interesting and disconcerting is the rise of the Alt Right and the ability of fact free news sites to become legitimate. In my youth an equivalent would have been if all of a sudden the Tattler and the other tabloids at the supermarket check out stands became the new legitimate news sources. They are for a certain type of semi - literate person. But for the ruling classes to manipulate that to destroy the truth seeking process enshrined in the enlightenment theory, and the news media that subscribe to the enlightenment, the academia, and the general educated class perspective, tossed aside for a populist, no-nothing type of anti-intellectualism, pandering to the lowest common denominator, not out of necessity but by deliberate choice, is well, tough to take.



On the other hand from a nihilistic point of view, why not. Flush it all down the toilet and start fresh. Fresh could be nice, if it wasn’t racist, homophobic, and celebrating monster truck culture. Hell when is the President going to show up at a monster truck rally? I heard him talking about professional wrestling the other day before a crowd in Iowa. Why not, nobody really cares, as Randy Newman in his classic tune Political Science said:

No one likes us, I don’t know why
We may not be perfect but Heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them


Slim Pickens Rides the Bomb in the Kubrick classic “Dr. Strangelove”

That song was written almost 50 years ago. Some things never change. The Earth is flat again and science doesn’t matter, its how you feel about it that makes it real, right?
With that said, the bigger the lie the better, just repeat it often enough and abracadabra you have fact free reality.


Test used in early child teaching. From:

Bolivarian Revolution Unwinds, Another Victory for the Elites.

Monday, May 29th, 2017


Image from: Democracy and Class Struggle.

Venezuela, Bolivarian Revolution, and US Foreign AID
By Gary Crethers 5-12-17

The United States Foreign Policy has been consistently opposed to the political challenge to US hegemony in the western hemisphere represented by the Bolivarian Revolution. Just as the USA conspired with Saudi Arabia to cut the price of oil in the 1980’s and force the Soviet Union into effective bankruptcy, the USA has done its best to destabilize and destroy the Venezuelan government, since Chavez won the election and moved dramatically to alter the social conditions of the clear majority of Venezuelans. As it Taffet wrote “aid is rarely for the benefit of the poor …’The Alliance for Progress was not an economic program; it was a political program designed to create certain types of political outcomes’” (Taffet 2007, p. 10; Dominguez 2012). Development policy serves the aims of the global north and the large corporate and government entities particularly in this case that of the United States. Any aid that benefits the mass of the population is considered a social cost of doing business. Nelson Rockefeller said “’we must recognize the social responsibilities of corporations…If we don’t [speaking of US interests in Latin America] they will take away our ownership” (Grandin 2006, p. 30). Rockefeller’s advice was for the most part taken, and US corporate and governmental policy since the Monroe Doctrine was promulgated to promote United States hegemony over the western hemisphere, a warning to European powers to stay out, initially a policy more aspirational than real when it was announced by President Monroe in 1823, at the time reflecting more the general American fear of powerful European states interference in the affairs of the fragile democracies that emerged in the early nineteenth century in Latin America (Mariano 2011).

Historical Background

Venezuela itself the home of Simon Bolivar liberator of much of Latin America in the 1820’s from Spanish colonial rule, became the model for the modern Bolivarian movement with a mythology that has been utilized by the Chavez initiated Bolivarian movement, one that points the finger directly at the United States as the imperial power (Kingsley 2015). Located on the southern side of the Caribbean Sea, directly south of Cuba and Miami, it has presented a land of opportunity for US corporate interests especially with regards to its oil resource initially with the discovery of oil in 1918 foreign interests developed and controlled the oil wealth. In 1958 with the overthrow of a dictatorship and the establishment of a democratic government, the national oil company called Corporation Venezolana de Petröleo was established, Venezuela became a founding member of OPEC and further private development of the oil resource was prohibited (Faria 2008, p. 522).

Development Background in Latin America

The creation of the development community, although primarily a post-World War Two construction, goes back to the altruism of reformers in nineteenth century Europe that was a constant counterpoint to colonialism, both antagonistically and as a justification. The institutional mindset called the epistemic community by Haas described as a professional community with recognized expertise, and competence in a particular domain or policy area. But also more critically there is “a set of common practices associated with a set of problems to which their professional competence is directed” (Haas 1992, p.3). Specifically in the context of tropical medicine, Neill shows as an outgrowth of the European reform movement in the nineteenth century, an epistemic community developed with an altruistic belief in their ability to improve the health outcomes, and at the same time improve the backwardness of the community in which the colonizers found themselves (Hass 1992, Neill 2012, p. 6-7).

Washington Consensus, Neo-liberalism and Neo-structuralism

International development theory, in the post Washington Consensus environment of the twenty-first century has focused on presenting a kinder and gentler face of Neoliberalism. Smarting from the failures in Latin America and facing the election of many leftists who rejected the Neoliberalism of the Washington Consensus with its focus on restructuring the economies of Latin American countries by removing constraints on the flow of capital, privatizing institutions, allowing labor flexibility, and deregulating markets as well as reforming the remaining government institutions to make them business friendly. Rather than rethinking the nature of economic neoliberalism, and the Washington Consensus, a phrase coined by John Williamson in 1990, the post consensus development theory places emphasis on particularizing the form of intrusion, moving away from cookie cutter approaches to more individualized approaches that double down on the values, calling for more thorough and conscientious efforts at implementing reform (Bergsten 2003; Williamson 2003).


By Found on

As Bergsten put it “ it is high time the world moved on from tendentious ideological debates in which the Washington Consensus is caricatured as a neoliberal manifesto to a serious discussion of the new wave of reform the region needs to restart growth and make it more equitable than it has been in the past” (Bergsten 2003, p. vii-viii). Neoliberals betray a proclivity to determine the course of affairs in Latin America, while indicating the need for democratic reform their ideas do not imply a greater democracy, but a restriction of democracy to further implement neoliberal reforms. Regarding the developments in Venezuela, Williamson who after listing a litany of neoliberal reforms that further needed implementation in Latin American, bemoaned “political institutions that can allow a Hugo Chavez to capture control of the state and ravage an economy” (Williamson 2003, p. 13).

The “left turn” in Latin America that follows the neo-Structuralist model of post-neoliberalism proposed by the theoretical work by the United Nations initiated organization Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) based in Santiago, Chile proposed starting in 1990 that there would be an alternative to “savage capitalism” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii). With a mix of social equity, economic growth, and political democracy that would take advantage of globalism in the twenty-first century, especially, after the collapse of economies such as Argentina which had been the “poster child for the Washington Consensus,” the leftists swept into power at the turn of the twenty-first century presented an intellectual challenge to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. Neo-structuralism, the framework of this challenge to neoliberalism, as described by Leiva, viewed from the perspective of a Chilean who as a teen had lived through the Allende experiment, states “Latin American neostructuralism’s discursive potency derives from simultaneously being (1) an alternative vision to neoliberal dogmatism; (2) a comprehensive development strategy; (3) an integrated policy framework; and (4) a grand narrative about the path toward modernity that the twenty-first century offers Latin American and Caribbean societies” (Leiva 2008, p. xv, xix).


“Washington Consensus Cartoon” From

The debate between the neoliberal and neo-structural approach, perhaps a softer version of the cold war after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the acknowledged dominance of the United States, meant that the struggle for control of the hearts and minds of the world had entered into a new phase. Cuba, with its older tradition of state socialism had to reposition itself and find alliances with states that would not interfere with the vision of socialism as elucidated by the Castro dominated Communist state. As Leiva put it “triumph of ‘a more pragmatic approach, a political economy of the possible’ has become the dominant trend in the Latin American continent, a direct result from the definitive defeat both of 1960s ‘good revolutionaries; and 1980s ‘well-intentioned free-marketeers’ (Santiso 2006, 8)” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii).

Bolivarian Development Model

The emergence of an alternative model in Latin America to the US dominated development market driven approach had been up until the collapse of oil prices a viable alternative. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America was formed in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as an alternative to the development model being promulgated by the USA as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the proposed La Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas (ALCA). Originally the Cuban and Venezuelan organization was called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and the Caribbean, based in the models of structural development theory utilized by Raoul Prebisch former director of the UN Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which basically states that “underdevelopment is perpetuated by the pattern of international trade because raw materials and agricultural goods produced in the periphery – the underdeveloped countries – were worth less that the industrial goods imported from the ’centre’ – the advanced capitalist countries” (Cole 2010; Yaffe 2011, p. 130).


From Article by Joel Hirst

The dominance of the US and the major capitalist powers in the institutions primarily concerned with international development were perceived in many nations of the Global south to be more interested in developing markets for dumping western goods than for the actual development of the developing nations. The Bolivarian challenge sought to find means of coordination rather than competition, and was initiated by the Cuban and Venezuelan exchange of Cuban medical assistance for Venezuelan oil that was initiated in 2001 and finalized in 2004 with the formation of ALBA (Yaffe 2011, p. 134). Corrales take the view that Venezuela working with Cuba sees the use of the soft power of oil money to aid other countries that had become members of ALBA and others such as the CITGO discounted oil for poor USA consumers as being a third use of power as he states “social power diplomacy attracts allies because it provides governments with far more latitude in domestic spending than is the case with any form of Western aid. This domestic freedom produces close international ties” (Corrales 2009, 97-98; Vyas 2014). The use of social power perceived as a threat to US interests in the region added to the rationale for perceiving Venezuela and the Bolivarian project as an attempt not merely to offer an alternative to the capitalist neo-liberal model of development but also as a threat to US hegemony. Corrales describes it as part of a policy of “soft balancing” described as “a relatively new concept in international relations, referring to efforts by nations, short of military action, to frustrate the foreign policy objective of other presumably more powerful nations” (p. 98).

The consequences of what has been called the New Economic Model, the neo-liberal policy of economic stabilization, opening-up trade, privatization, and financial liberalization, leading to in the case of Latin America after the 1980’s debt crisis to deceleration of economic growth, increased unemployment, reductions in real wages, and reduction in social services. The negative effects of these initial phases in this neo-liberal approach must have a strong social welfare component to aid in the transition to the final phase of successful integration into the world economy according to Alejandro Foxley, minus that then the transition is likely to be fraught with political instability and the results may be derailed. The success of austerity must be predicated on the sharing of the burden fairly and the increase in social capital that gives citizens a sense of participation and not alienation from the process (Foxley 1996). This is no small order and has been an inconsistent model to say the least leading to reactions such as that of the Bolivarian proposal of Chavez and Castro.

Social Benefits under Bolivarian Rule

Gains made in the decade prior to the collapse of the Oil economy in Venezuela by the urban and rural poor, in terms of the increased standard of living has been threatened. But it is important to acknowledge that there were many benefits to the people of Venezuela because of the Bolivarian movement of Hugo Chavez and his successor Madero, as indicated by Dominguez, with poverty reduced from 44 percent in 1998 to 26.7 percent by the end of 2011, the highest minimum wage in Latin America, the eradication of illiteracy by 2005, primary education increased from 43 percent in 1998 to 71 percent in 2011, with the second highest higher education participation in Latin America and the fifth highest in the world (Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012, p. 106-107). Also the labor legislation had by 2007 become supportive of workers control of industries, although state run institutions resisted the idea (Azzellini 2017). Availability of computers with 1.6 million handed out by the state to primary education students (Dominguez 2012, p. 107), Public health care centers had increased from 5360 in 1998 to 7721 by 2011, with some 20 million Venezuelans having free health care, the government having increased funding to health care by 4000 percent and some 11 million receiving subsidized food at the government markets by 2011 (p. 107-108).


“Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s six-year plan for the Bolivarian Revolution.” From LINKS

With all of these subsidies the question arose, were the people of Venezuela independent actors or the irrational followers of a charismatic leader? Lupien, doing field work in Venezuela reached the conclusion that the people of all classes were for the most part rational actors, with the bottom line of benefits from the government taking precedence over an irrational alliance with a charismatic leader (Lupien 2015).

Subversion of Reforms

The subversion of the reforms by the US particularly via organizations such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has been addressed by Dominguez who writes that the main aim of these organizations has been to “distribute funds to pro-US groups (NGO’s, think-tanks, political parties, interest groups, private enterprise, private media outlets and the like)” (Dominguez 2012, p. 109). The Office for Transitional Initiatives (OTI), established in 1994, was established in the USAID to effect transitions for problematic governments (p. 109). The 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela, and the 2003 oil lockout organized by the opposition lasting over two months almost brought the economy to its knees (p. 110). Some $19 million was allocated by the US government to support the efforts of the opposition to remove the Bolivarian government in the 2012 elections (p. 112).

The Saudi’s allowed prices in oil to drop precipitously, were aimed at bringing discipline to the OPEC members that would especially affect the countries with few reserves to handle the blow of low oil prices, Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela in particular according to Goldwyn at the Atlantic Council although there are other theories, including at attempt to punish Russia, and Venezuela by the Saudis and the US. Another theory states that the Saudis were attempting to nip the US oil shale industry before the US became too energy independent, but in reality the recession and especially as the Chinese reduced demand as it slowed its own stimulus production (Goldwyn 2015).

Media Domination

Consider the domestic media in Venezuela where the media “Unable to discredit the results of the elections, the private media have sought to attack the legitimacy of these governments from below by framing their supporters as mindless followers or as dangerous, irrational mobs (Lupien 2013, p. 226). The US Media has not been particularly enthusiastic either. Shiller argues “rather than embrace dominant liberal norms, which hold that a “free press” requires autonomy from the state, community media producers in Caracas approach the state as a potentially liberatory process of collective engagement” (Shiller 2103, p. 540). Community control of media may have given the Bolivarian revolution an impetus in bypassing the conservative media controlled by financial elites who still dominate the mainstream market. But that can be a double edged sword if the community is unhappy with the powers that be.

Current Crisis

The Bolivarian Revolution was and remains, although it is facing severe strain both economically and politically as I write. The optimistic writing of the neostructural parties would seem to have faded as one left wing government after another has fallen, most significantly those of Argentina and Brazil. Honduras suffered and US backed coup and even Cuba is now negotiating with the US after the historic reopening of the US embassy under the Obama administration. The current situation in Venezuela in the spring of 2017 has become one of high drama, with the US media reporting on violent protests against the Maduro Government. “On March 29, Venezuela’s highest court ruled that it would take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly, the country’s opposition-controlled Congress. The move by the Supreme Court, which was stacked with Maduro-allies during the last session of the National Assembly before it fell in opposition hands, sparked fierce condemnation from activists, international powers and even supporters of President Maduro” (Gordts 2017, n.p.; Cahill and Saravia 2017).


Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in front of riot police in Caracas on January 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Federico Parra) From:

The Constitutional crisis with the take-over of the parliament by the judiciary would seem to be more suspect as the opposition mobilized its forces, but due to the lack of credibility of the Morales government, there has been little support in the US on the left for the Regime. Recent events in Venezuela, with protests on the streets due to food shortages, the suspension of the National Assembly, and the packing of the Supreme Court by President Maduro, where even critical left supporters such as Noam Chomsky, bemoan the lost opportunities in Venezuela, make such statements such as that of Shiller seem utopian (Lange-Churion 2016). As Chomsky said in a Democracy Now interview:

Venezuela is really a disaster situation. The economy relies on oil as to a great—probably a greater extent than ever in the past, certainly very high. And the corruption, the robbery and so on, has been extreme, under the—especially after Chávez’s death… there are hopes and possibilities for reconstruction and development. But the promise of the earlier years has been significantly lost (Chomsky 2017).

The reality on the ground as even the left admits is dire. How did the dreams of Chavismo succumb to such a crisis? The American and Saudis sponsored dip in oil prices, aimed primarily at Iran and Russia affected Venezuela to a much greater extent, even while the USA has continued to receive some 17 percent of its oil from Venezuela, a business partner despite the attempted coup of 2002, and the declaration by the Obama administration in 2015 that Venezuela was a national security threat. Lange-Churion calls the ruling elite corrupt, and inept, and unlike Chomsky who had felt that Venezuela under Chavez was making progressive strides, Lange-Churion sees the corruption going back to Chavez and his cronies (Lange-Churion 2017). The lack of foodstuffs, and medicines in Venezuela that resulted from the collapse of oil income at about the same time as Madero took office in 2013, combined with the impact of rampant 800 percent inflation, has led to members of the poorer classes joining in some of the protests against the government as they see their interests being unmet by the government (Cahill and Saravia 2017).


The Bolivarian regime is under assault as this paper is being written. The evidence presented shows that although the government has struggled to provide services for the vast majority of the public, the dependence on oil and the subsequent collapse in the prices of oil left the regime overextended and without adequate financial resources to weather the reduced prices. The administration may not have been responsible for the collapse in oil prices, but it did not plan ahead adequately. But this financial situation could be mitigated if the country had adequate aid from the largest customer of Venezuela, the USA. The US policies, in particular its aid policies show that the US punishes regimes it finds politically threatening to the US leadership in the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean basin in particular, especially in the case of Venezuela with the support of the attempted coup in 2002 to overthrow the Chavez led government, with that the gloves were off and since that time it has been clearly US policy to remove the Bolivarian government with direct aid via agencies that are intended to support the growth of democracy, focused on overthrowing the elected government (Grandin 2006; Taffet 2007; Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012).
Lupien wrote media supportive of the US position present a “portrayal of supporters of “bad left” governments as ignorant, illegitimate, and potentially dangerous. Supporters of leaders such as Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) are supposedly easily bribed into mindless loyalty, are tricked into trading democracy for handouts, are poorly informed and emotional rather than rational actors, and are likely to engage in violence” (Lupien 2013, 227). The use of foreign aid as a weapon of policy, in conjunction with the use of media, and economic sabotage, as well as covert warfare, it can be seen that those who would challenge US hegemony do so at their own risk. The Monroe Doctrine conception of the Western Hemisphere as the special sphere of United States influence remains alive and well despite more recent attention by the US in other parts of the world (Taffet 2007; Grandin 2006, Dominquez 2012).



Works Cited

2003. After the Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.
` - Bergsten, C. Fred. 2003. Preface. After the Washington Consensus. P. vii-viii.
- Williamson, John. 2003. Overview. After the Washington Consensus. P. 1-19.
Cahill, Petra and Laura Saravia. Venezuela Protests and Economic Crisis: What Is Going On? NBC News. May 6, 2017. crisis/amp/venezuela-protests-economic-crisis-what-going-n755306
Chomsky, Noam. Interview by Goodman, Amy & Juan Gonzalez. Full Interview: Noam Chomsky on Trump’s First 75 Days & Much More. Democracy Now!, The War and Peace Report. April 4, 2017. Accessed transcript April 11, 2017, _on democracy
Cole, Ken. 2010. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America Part I: Knowledge is What Counts. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 2, no. 3: 249-264.
Corrales, Javier.2009. Using social power to balance soft power: Venezuela’s foreign policy. The Washington Quarterly 32, no. 4: 97-114.
Dominguez, Francisco. 2012. Venezuela: another good example under threat. Soundings 51, no. 51: 101-114.
Faria, Hugo. 2008. Hugo Chávez Against the Backdrop of Venezuelan Economic and Political History. The Independent Review. 12, no. 4: 519-535.
Foxley, Alejandro (1996) Preface. The New Economic Model in Latin America And Its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty. Ed. Victor Bulmer-Thomas. London: Palgrave Macmillan in association with Institute of Latin American Studies University of London. p. 1-6.
Goldwyn, David L. Here’s Why Saudi Arabia Has Let Oil Prices Fall—and Why They Could Revive by Year’s End. The Atlantic Council. January 20, 2015. prices-fall-and-why-they-could-revive-by-years-end
Gordts, Eline, 10 Days of Unrest in Venezuela Come to A Head in Massive Protest. Huffington Post (04/09/2017). Accessed April 10, 2017
Grandin, Greg. 2006. Empire’s Workshop Latin America, The United States, and the rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Haas, Peter M. 1992. Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination. International Organization. 46, no. 1: 1-35.
Kingsbury, Donald V. 2015. Bolívar as Precursor: Contested Mythology, Social Movements, and Twenty-first-century Socialism in Bolivarian Venezuela. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 1-14.
Lange-Churion, Pedro. (May 20, 2016), Venezuela and the Silence of the Left. Counterpunch. Accessed April 10, 2017. silence-of-the-left/
Leiva, Fernando Ignacio.2008. Latin American Neostructuralism: The Contradictions of Post- neoliberal Development. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lupien, Pascal. 2013. The Media in Venezuela and Bolivia: Attacking the “Bad Left” from Below. Latin American Perspectives. 40, no. 3: 226-246.
Lupien, Pascal. 2015. Ignorant Mobs or Rational Actors? Understanding Support for Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution”. Political Science Quarterly. 130, no. 2: 319-340.
Mariano, Marco. 2011. Isolationism, Internationalism and the Monroe Doctrine. Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 9, no. 1: 35-45.
Neill, Deborah, J. 2012. Networks in Tropical Medicine Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty 1890-1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Taffet, Jeffery. F. (2007). Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, New York: Routledge.
Schiller, Naomi. 2013. Reckoning with Press Freedom: Community Media, Liberalism, and the Processual State in Caracas, Venezuela. American Ethnologist. 40, no. 3: 540-554.
Vyas, Kejal. “Venezuela Cancels Plan to Sell US Oil Refiner Citgo; Earlier this Year Officials Indicated they were Looking to Sell Citgo for Up to $10 Billion.” Wall Street Journal (Online), Oct 26, 2014. Accessed 3/13/17.
Yaffe, Helen. 2011. The Bolivarian Alliance for The Americas: An Alternative Development Strategy. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 3.2 & 3.3 p.128-144.

Syrian Cockpit Nears Climatic End Game

Sunday, March 19th, 2017


Syrian children who fled their home with their family lie on the ground while they and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey in this 2012 file photo. The number of Syrians who have fled their country during the civil war topped 4 million in 2015. (Muhammed Muheisen / AP)

The Trump administration wants to write off Syrian refugees, in fact all refugees as ineligible to come to the United States. Fortunately the courts have so far called every attempt on the part of the administration to block refugees and immigrants as unconstitutional, at least until a superior court decides otherwise. The Trump administration has an agenda that has played upon irrational fears of the other. Propaganda in the alt right media which has very successfully been able to dominate much of the dialog on the internet where seemingly many people get their news now has resulted in a population badly misinformed.

Refugees of the Syrian Civil War or Syrian refugees are citizens and permanent residents of Syrian Arab Republic, who have fled from their country since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and have sought asylum in other countries.

In 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria.[37] In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.[1] Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.[3][38][39] Assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria, and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, is planning largely through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

From Wikipedia

A proposed assault upon Raqqah will result in more refugees


A U.S. fighter stands near a military vehicle, north of Raqqa city, Syria, on November 6, 2016. Aaron Stein writes that American forces working by, with and through local ground forces are poised to begin the assault on Raqqa, ISIS’s most important urban area in Syria. Rodi Said/reuters

Various forces are now in control of intersecting front lines, including: Syrian Kurdish, Kurdish allied Arab forces, American Special Forces, Syrian regime elements, Russian special forces, Iranian units, Turkish military units and Turkish allied forces. These groups—many of them hostile with one another and engaged in battle elsewhere in Syria—are now within mortar range.

From: Now More U.S. Forces Are in Syria, What’s the Plan?
There are early signs of what the borders of a peace settlement might look like.
By Aaron Stein On 3/10/17 at 6:40 PM

Unfortunately with the Trump administration in the driver’s seat, the end game is likely to be as chaotic as Iraq.


Women’s March Success, Now Build a Movement.

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017


PHOTO: Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington Jan. 21, 2017 From: ABC News

Women and their friends joined in a massive world wide protest against Trump and the conservative agenda This has been called the largest protest in the world since the Protests just before the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. The question is why are these protests so ineffectual? The the anti war protests didn’t do a thing to help stop the invasion of Iraq and this protest, which should have been before the meeting of the electoral college will be equally ineffectual unless there is organizing done on a grass roots level to gain control of Congress in the next election. We need strong feminist/socialist candidates. The days of simply switching from Republican to Democrat is over. We need real solutions from people committed to changing from the parties of the plutocrats and their friends with a progressive agenda. Ceding the field to the right wing populists with their racist neo-fascist rhetoric will not help the left gain any legitimacy. The failure of the traditional socialists in France and elsewhere means we need real grass roots movements led by the intelligent members of the progressive labor, environmental, feminist and civil society concerned with immigrant rights, social justice, and the expression of the truth in the media. This has to be more than the usual suspects. it has to be truly based in the same groundswell that motivated millions to come out and protest on Saturday January 21st.


A woman holds a sign during the women’s march rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP).

Trump is the least popular president to be elected in recent history. Yet his party controls all the major divisions of the Federal Government. This is because the outrage of the average person, those who benefit most from social programs and government that works for the people and not the corporations and special interests, are not active politically. They complain and then go back to their lives. This is because the United States was deliberately formed so that popular rule would be limited to the greatest degree possible. The Constitution was designed by Rich White men to protect their rights. If there is to be progress it takes concerted effort on the part of the people who want to assert their rights as citizens of this Republic. It is not a Democracy, it is a Republic in which representatives have the power. Time for the people to decide or we will end up with demagogues, and then you have to hope you can influence the party of the rich, who may deign to throw a few crumbs.


“Plutocracy Triumphant” by Michael Dal Cerro. From:

January 2017 World Turned Upside Down.

Sunday, January 15th, 2017


The world has been turned upside down, the English ballad written in the 1640’s as a protest broadside, was traditionally supposed to have been played when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington and Lafayette at Yorktown in 1781.

There a world of hurt coming to the American public when the Trump machine and the Republican apparatchiks sing their tune of trickle down economics, trotting out that old line, an excuse for further aggrandizement of the worlds wealth into the greedy paws of the super rich. I don’t like to use such heated polemical phrases but I have seen this game played before and as in the old Who song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” it seems that the line should be - we love to be fooled over and over again.

Identity and Progressive Agenda 2016 Notes

Monday, December 26th, 2016


Testing the limits of tolerance in the post Coup Turkey.
Hundreds of Turks made a rare protest for LGBT rights in Istanbul Sunday after the murder of Turkish transgender icon Hande Kader, whose body was found burned in a forest earlier this month. Photo by Hande Kader/Facebook
From UPI article August 22, 2016

I have been fortunate this year. I managed to have surrounded myself with a family that is relatively loyal if somewhat dysfunctional, and my constant search for novelty in an ongoing campaign to give meaning to an otherwise seemingly meaningless existence, has got me in and out of a couple of problematic situations this year. One was my attempt at a truly transsexual alliance which turned out to be something of a pipe dream. Ultimately in my view relationships cannot be based on transitory sexual appetites. Commercial careers, perhaps, but not strongly based family ties. Poly fidelity, has its moments but I am probably more of a poor mans patriarch in the polygamous biblical sense of the word, than a trail blazer on the frontiers of human relationships, although I certainly do try to do my part in the romantic belief in the eventual progress of humanity into a truly trans-sexual-racial heterogeneity. The fact that in the US the discourse over the nature of human sexuality has been diverted to a conversation on toiletry is a bit discouraging though. Struggle in the world continues as post modernist struggles over liberation in identity politics continue in the face of repression such as is evident in Turkey. Whether identity issues have distracted from bread and butter issues of class struggle, is something that is being hashed out in the light of the on going right wing reaction around the world. Trumpism can be seen in the light of Nazi attempts to overcome decadence identified with sexual transgression of rigid sexual norms as was brilliantly portrayed in the 1972 film Cabaret.


From:, distraction or battle for control of personal space?

The continued demise of my own personal sexual prowess has been paralleled by the increased ability to encounter and intercept the lives of younger souls aspiring to some kind of continuity in an unstable and chaotic post modern world in which institutions have become both increasingly omnipresent and yet unable to fulfill the somewhat futile goal of social stability. Capitalism doesn’t allow for social and interpersonal stability. It’s pressure to excel and exploit resources, of any and all kinds pinned to a monetary value, has eroded social solidarity to the extent that humans of the modern period have become a hodgepodge of flotsam in a sea of potential resources to be adapted and rejected as required by the mindlessly grinding efforts of the mega machine.


From: Political Cartoon from Summer 2016 when US presidential elections were still in progress. The Russian factor was already in play as was the betrayal of the independent left push represented by the Sanders campaign.

The need for resistance and the creation of an alternative agenda to corporate capitalism as crystallized in the Bernie Sanders campaign showed that like in the McGovern campaign of an earlier generation, that there is in the USA an ongoing desire on the part of the young and the progressive thinking people for change at a fundamental level. It also shows how much better the system has gotten at eliminating such a challenge with old fashioned dirty politics and fear mongering. The left, liberal, minority alliance was unable to beat the right largely due to the decampment of labor and the white working class generally as those hurt by the modern economy abandon their intellectual allies who have shown them little gain. for the demagoguery on the right.


Life’s little Ironies. From:

There needs to be a clear headed assessment of what we desire and how we wish to get where we want to go. Post Modernism although it has liberated many from the fetters of normative identity has muddied the waters in the struggle to unite humanity in a broad based movement to progressive evolution of the human condition. This has been enhanced by the severe disruption caused by modernism and its industrial megamachine over the last couple of centuries. People’s desire for community in the face of the disruptive and depersonalizing power of technological progress gives evidence of the lag between social evolution and our ability to manipulate the physical world around us. We are now just realizing that humanity has to come to terms with the balance between technology and the social mechanisms that allow this tail to wag the collective dog of humanity. Faced with the potential disruption of all life on the planet, humans need to create truly world wide networks of community that put technology firmly at heel and leash capitalism to the service of humanity or train the dog with some new socially progressive tricks.


From: BLM queer and trans people of color contingent, Sept. 26. Durham, NC, 2015.
The issue of identity will continue to be important but it must be in the context of ongoing progress or the right wing backlash will cause delays in progress for humanity and the planet as a whole.

The Age of Trump Protesting Begins

Saturday, November 12th, 2016


I have not joined the protests in the streets yet. I am thinking of joining. I don’t have much faith in the system at this point. This is the second election in this century with the winner of the popular vote losing the presidency. On both occasions the progressive candidate was beaten and the conservative won. In this case the choice was not a good one especially since the Wikileaks emails show that the DNC had worked with the Clinton campaign to suppress the vote for Bernie Sanders. It certainly didn’t help me enthusiastically support Clinton, even though I did vote for her.

There are some things about Trump I do like domestically. His infrastructure spending program for example. It should provide the kinds of jobs that Obama wanted to produce with the stimulus program that was underfunded by Congress. Personally I would like to see the Affordable Care Act made more affordable. I am afraid Trump will throw out the baby with the bathwater rather than make needed reforms. Certainly the elimination of prior conditions was a benefit for many of us, including myself. I would hate to be stuck with Kaiser simply because I could not be insured again, although Kaiser is not a bad plan.

On the environment if Trump leaves the world commitments to work to reduce Global Climate change then the deal brokered by Obama with the Chinese will be in the trash bin and the number one and number two pollution sources in the world will return to their profligate ways. Market forces, especially led by the insurance industry will be left to work with more progressive nations to impose the environmental reforms needed, but the green light to the fossil fuel industry is not going to help put the USA in a leadership role in slowing climate change.

On foreign relations his proposal to build better relations with Russia is commendable although it is not clear what that means. Since Trump has put Pence in charge of building his administration apparatus we can expect to see hawks and neo-conservatives since Pence made it clear he did not want a rapprochement with the Russians. The contradictory nature of the Trump agenda makes it very hard to predict what he is actually planning. One example he wants to support the Russians in Syria but he is opposed to the Iranians, both are supporting Assad. What is Trump going to do? Upset all of the other American allies to work out a deal with the Russians? This kind of ideological incoherence is not going to make it easy for policy makers to present allies the new American approach.

So I will not be out in the streets, at least not just yet. We need to see how much of his mean spirited rhetoric was just that, and how much is a reflection of a racist and reactionary revolution. His comments on deporting immigrants is particularly reprehensible. His anti-Muslim statements and provocations has already encouraged racists to act out at least according to reports on Democracy Now.

Debate #2 Trump and Clinton get down and dirty.

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

My blow by blow version of the debate. You can watch it yourself.
First question are you going to elevate the tone?

The tapes of Trump speaking “locker room talk” has become dirty. Trump is now bringing up the Clinton sex scandals. Trump fans clapped when Trump said Bill Clinton was a sexual aggressor. Hilary responds with going high and got more cheers. She is bringing up the Khans, the Indiana judge, and this is getting dirty. Hilary brings up the birther issue. Trump brought up Sidney Blumenthal and the Obama birth. Trump claims Michelle Obama made negative comments. Trump brings up the Bernie Sanders defeat, and then he goes on about the emails. Trump is going to instruct the Attorney General to investigate Hillary Clinton. This is a direct threat. Hilary responds got to the web site and fact check. Trump fans cheer when Trump calls for Hillary being put in jail. Trump is saying Clinton is lying. Trump is trying to rattle Clinton. She is not going to buy it. Trump is now attacking the moderators as he wants to continue going over the emails.
Second question is about Obama care. She wants to rein in costs. She is going over the benefits of Affordable Care Act. She wants to increase aid to small businesses. Trump is states Obamacare is only getting worse. He notes it is much too expensive. Trump says allow interstate competition. that is what the Republicans have always claimed. He says the single payer system like Canada is horrible. Anderson Cooper asked Hillary about Bill Clinton’s comments. She clarified his comments about the expense. She is saying that giving it back to the insurance companies will turn it back to the insurance companies and people with preexisting conditions will not have insurance. Trump brings up Bernie Sanders twice, trying to get Sanders supporters on his side. He wants to do the block grant approach.

The next question is about Islamophobia.

Trump says Muslims have to report what they see. He speaks of San Bernardino as an example, Orlando and Paris, Radical Islamic Terrorists are something he wants to attack. Hillary wants to reassure Muslims. She says Muhammad Ali is an example of an American Muslim. She also says Muslims have to be part of the eyes and ears of America. She says defeating ISIS must be done in coalition with Islamic nations and she says his rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS. Trump is now claiming that he would not have allowed invasion of Iraq. He wants extreme vetting from certain areas of the world. He has changed the language. He claims Obama is allowing people in without vetting from Syria. Now he says hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria. That is an exaggeration. Clinton speaks of women and children needing help from Syria. She blames it on the Russians. She says you cannot ban people based on religion when the country is founded on religious freedom. She thinks his statements are used to recruit fighters for ISIS. Third time Trump brings up Sanders claim that Hillary has bad judgement. He is talking about the border and his being supported by border security.

Is it OK for a politician to have a two faced position, public and private? Lincoln had to convince people with different arguments to get the 13th Amendment passed according to Hillary, giving context for her statements. She then goes into the Russian connection with Trump and she calls for the release of Trump’s taxes. Trump claims that she is trying to blame on Lincoln her lies, He called him Honest Abe. Trump says he knows nothing about the inner workings of Russia and doesn’t know Putin. He says he has no loans with Russia. He now says he pays hundreds of millions in taxes. He says again when audits are in he will release taxes.

Question about fair taxes for wealthy.
Trump answers that Clinton didn’t change tax code because her friends take advantage of it. He says he will lower taxes from 35% to 15%. He wants to reduce regulations. He claims there is no growth in the US, one percent. He wants to lower corporate taxes. Clinton says Trump’s plan will be a massive gift to the rich. His plan will cost the middle class. She is now saying taxes should go for those making over $250,000 a year, and she wants to use the Buffet rule that will tax those over a million and a surcharge on those making over five million. Anderson Cooper is asking about the rite offs and Trump says he did, just like the other wealthy. The carried interest provision is being left in place, in Hillary’s plan. Trump is saying Clinton is all talk. He is going on about Libya and Iraq. He is blaming ISIS on Clinton. She is quoting Reagan, she is responding to his attack saying she has done nothing in thirty years. She talks about getting health insurance for children as wife of president. She worked to get money for victims of 9-11, name on 400 bills as senator.

Question about Syria, Aleppo disaster, UN asked to do war crimes investigation of Assad Regime. Clinton calls Syria a catastrophe. She blames Russia, Iran and Assad. She says Russia is not interested in getting rid of ISIS. She advocates a no fly zone. She wants to work more closely with allies on the ground in Syria. She says she has taken on Putin and others. She says when she can she will work with Russia, but she does want to see war crimes investigations. Trump is now saying the US is behind in nuclear weapons and Russia is advanced. This is patently stupid. He tried to pin the line in the sand issue on Hillary which was not the case and she responded. Trump is saying Assad, Iran and Russia is killing ISIS. Pence says the US should use military force against Syrian regime. Trump disagrees with Pence, he wants to go after ISIS and forget about Aleppo. Aleppo has fallen. He says it is stupid to let ISIS know they are attacking Mosul. He wants the attack to be secret. The moderator is defending the US, Trump says the US should be secretive. He says ISIS is leaving Mosul. Two hundred admirals and generals are supporting Trump. Clinton says American troops should not be holding territory in Syria. Special Forces, trainers, are good. She is asked what she will do different from President Obama. Some of what they have to do is to signal to the allies what the plans are. She says go after Bagdadi. and arming the Kurds is her idea. She says they will take ISIS in Raqa after taking Mosul.

Do you believe you can be president for all the people? Trump says yes. He claims NAFTA is the biggest disaster for the country. Trump is claiming Clinton lies, he says he will make inner cities better, blames Democrats for failure in the inner cities. She will not do anything as president about inner cities according to Trump. Clinton says 67% voted for her in her senatorial re-election. She is proud of her record working for kids with disabilities, registering Latino voters, she wants to make sure that people have a place in America, claiming Trump might send children back to Ethiopia. Trump effect is an increase in bullying according to her. Cooper states that the half of Trump supporters that are deplorable was a mistake, she has an argument with Trump. She says she is proud of the campaign between her and Sanders. Trump says we have a divided nation, look at Charlotte, Chicago, increase in murder, he says Clinton has tremendous hatred in her heart. He then goes on to say she is another Obama. Trump goes on about the 3 am call in the morning about the Libyan situation in which Clinton did not respond to the ambassador. Doe Trump have the discipline to be President, Hillary says not. She mentions that under her husband improved the economy and jobs. She notes that Obama has improved the country after the worst recession, since the depression.

Another question is about the Supreme Court Justice.
Clinton says she will support justices with real life experience. She wants justices who will reverse citizen united and will support voting rights. she want a supreme court that will support marriage equality and Roe Vs Wade. She wants a Supreme Court that will not always support corporate interests. She says Republicans should have supported Obama’s nominee. Trump calls Justice Scalia was a great model. He has twenty justices who will protect constitution and the second amendment. He says he is putting in 100 million contributions. Why isn’t Hillary Clinton doing the same? She responds wanting to have comprehensive background checks.
Energy policy question.
Trump says EPA is killing domestic energy business. He says he is in favor of alternative energy. He claims Clinton wants to put coal miners out of business and believes in clean coal. He says China is dumping steel and killing steel jobs. He says we have to protect our energy companies. Clinton says Trump is buying Chinese steel. She wants to make sure the USA is not dumping steel on the USA. She says the USA is energy independent. She says the USA is producing a lot of Natural Gas and that is a bridge to alternative energy. She wants to move to clean energy and create millions of new jobs and wants to revitalize coal country. She wants to do something for them. Coal prices are down world wide.
Last question would either of you mention one positive thing about the other?
Clinton says she respects Donald Trumps children and she thinks that is a good thing. She says the election is so conflict oriented because there is so much at stake. She doesn’t agree with anything he says. Get off of personal and get on to what we can do. I have done my best to help kids and families.
Trump says he is glad she compliments his children. He says she is a fighter and she doesn’t quit and that is a good trait.

That was it muted applause at the end. Then the shook hands at the end. This was very offensive debate. Trump was on the defensive at the beginning. Trump turned it around later on in the debate. His base will be happy, but it may have been more of a wash. He was more effective than Clinton. She was not as strong as others had thought she would be.
No apology from Trump, attacks Bill Clinton, and then goes on the offensive. Hillary was not prepared for Donald to come out swinging. Instead of being contrite, he attacked. He praised the Assad and Putin efforts in Syria and publicly disagreed with Pence. This was very odd. It is as I predicted, Trump would unite with Russia and take care of ISIS and anybody that gets caught in the middle like the Syrian opposition. Clinton was not able to dominate as much as she had in the first debate and it was strange that she had not been able to go on the offensive with the Trump tapes comments. She did counter attack on some of his 30 years comments but that was not enough. Trump pivoted away. He attacked the moderators and seemed to dominate in a way he was unable in the first debate. He did nothing to assuage the concerns of minorities, Muslims, and did nothing to display what he would do for people. Clinton was more substantive. But his emotional appeal to the five year old mentality was rather successful. Too bad.

Pence VS Kaine Debate VS Rumble in the Jungle

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The vice presidential candidates were more like traditional debaters. Pence was rather overwhelmed by Kaine, if this were a fight Kaine was Muhammad Ali and Pence was George Foreman. This was not quite the Rumble in the Jungle, but then I couldn’t resist, man who could sting like a bee was Kaine, running circles around Pence who literally could not defend Trump’s statements. Pence was stronger when he struck out on his own and made up a foreign policy that was much closer to the national establishment consensus
calling Putin a small man. and pushing for a get tough on Russia agenda. Both Pence and Kaine were in favor of a no fly zone in Syria. Whether Trump would actually support such a policy. The new Republican line to justify Trump’s remarks was to say that “Trump is not a professional politician” thus attempting to turn the continuous series of gaffs on the part of Trump. Democratic spin masters did a better job after the fact. Kaine was criticized for being too on top of things and being rude when he was simply a better debater.

I am not going to spend much time on policy tonight. If you have stumbled upon this in some distant future and wonder what is going on, just remember Muhammad Ali was a small man and Foreman was a giant. The David Ali beat the Goliath Foreman. Pence and Kaine both believe in Biblical analogies. David and Goliath is about as close as I can get. Which one is which, I leave that up to you dear viewer.

Clinton Vs. Trump 1st Debate

Monday, September 26th, 2016

I admit, I dosed off about two thirds of the way though the debate tonight, Monday September 26th, 2016. But it is over ninety degrees here in Long Beach and I don’t have air conditioning. I watched the debates again later on CSPAN when things had cooled off.

The weakness of Clinton on trade and her lackluster defense of her jobs plan indicated that Trump was coming on strong. Clinton attacked the trickle down economics of Trump and even got in a dig about how Trump got started out by borrowing money from his father. Hillary described her dad as a salt of the earth small business owner. As the debate wore on, Clinton came on stronger and especially hit Trump on the issue of his taxes and the birther controversy where Trump really had no answers. Trump wants to impose import taxes, tariffs, using the example of Mexico which applies a VAT tax on goods imported from the USA. He had no answer to the questions about how he would bring jobs back to the USA. Evidently it would be by offering large tax breaks. But historically when the rich get tax breaks they don’t invest in the economy, they by luxury goods and essentially play on the sock market, they don’t invest in creating jobs. She did much better attacking his tax plan. Claiming Trumps tax breaks would lose the country 3.5 million jobs, and her plan would add 10 million jobs.

Creating jobs though massively expanding the solar energy program in the US is part of the same stimulus that Obama used to help stimulate the economy in the depths of the recession. China and Germany already are leaders in the solar economy and unless there is protection of the domestic industry, it will not be able to catch up. Trump merely pointed out that some of the solar companies invested in by the Government failed.

NAFTA and the TPP were weak areas for Clinton. She ended up backing up her husbands enactment of NAFTA. He attacked her flipflopping on the TPP. She slogged through that.

Trumps wants to deregulate and lower taxes, traditional Republican claims. Clinton struck back with her announcement of a real time fact check on her web site. Clinton took on some of the populist mantle by wanting to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Trump made an absurd statement about Clinton fighting ISIS all her live. Clinton responded by asking people to check the facts.

Clinton seemed stronger on the TV screen and seemed comfortable, where Trump seemed tired, was sniffling, and as the debate wore on Trump seemed to loose focus. He interrupted, got louder and louder. He made sound bite statements. He accused the Fed and Janet Yellin of being politicized. He backed down on his statements about claiming the elections were rigged. Trumped bragged about making $624 Million last year and did not refute Clinton’s claim that he did not pay taxes last year. Trump’s voice after listening to the debates a couple times really got on my nerves.

Trump claimed he would not release his taxes until Clinton released her missing emails. This did not stick and Clinton managed to damage Trump by speculating about why he didn’t want to release tax returns like every president for some forty years or more. Clinton placed emphasis on conflicts of interests Trump might have. Clinton was able to slide on the emails by claiming that it was a mistake. Trumps was distracted by talking about his investments and bragged about the owed $650 million dollars being small change. He bragged about his property being worth $3.5 billion, in the process dropping the entire effort to make the emails stick. He went on about debt and poor infrastructure.

On race and sex, Trump clearly was at a disadvantage. Even though Trump seemed strong when it came to representing the interests of business, she seemed to be focused on the social issues. This is real switch. Democrats defensive on bread and butter issues and strong on social issues. CNN focus group responses on the debate had Clinton winning 18 to 2 out of 20, in a Florida group. Sanders supporters in the focus group leaned in the direction of Clinton. This was a very small group.

Switching to Fox, I was surprised to see that their commenters believed that Clinton won.

The CNN poll immediately afterwards showed 62% Clinton won, 27% Trump won CNN/ORC poll results from 522 viewers, with 41% Democratic, 27% Republican voters.

Clinton did do a good job accusing Trump of stiffing contractors. This was something that Trump shrugged off as being the result of shoddy work. Trump was sluggish on the Email issue and he claimed that he was being polite and not taking the low road, one would assume he meant the sex scandals of Bill Clinton. But then as the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and Trump’s marital record is not exactly spotless.

Hannity, the Fox talking head, was very favorable, cozy even, talking to Trump just after the debate. Where they joked about the Iraq war. Trump commented to Hannity alluding to sexual irregularities of Bill Clinton. That was the low blow he didn’t want to say on stage.

CNN commentators noted that Trump’s unprecedented entry into the spin room after the debate indicated that he failed to press home the points in the debate that he wanted to make.

From my perspective as a left libertarian. The comments on cyber war seemed to be all about cracking down nothing about civil liberties. There was limited discussion about the environment, except in reference to jobs and a short comment by Clinton that Trump believed Global Warming was a Chinese conspiracy. Clinton supports investing in solar and other alternative energy sources. Healthcare was not addressed. On trade Clinton sideways defended NAFTA when Trump attacked her husbands enactment of the Free Trade Agreement.

There was a discussion of race issues. Trump repeated his support of stop and frisk despite it being declared unconstitutional. Trump talked about his recent visits to inner cities of Detroit and Philadelphia, claiming that Democrats only care about poor black votes at election time. While there is truth in this, the policies that Trump advocates essentially will only benefit the rich. His lip service to wanting to help blacks, has been roundly rejected as insincere by black people in America. Clinton said she would invest in education of police about racial bias and her determination to limit access to weapons. She clearly stated that racial bias is alive and well in America.

One disturbing thing that Clinton and Trump agreed on was the removal of Second Amendment Rights to persons on the no fly and watch list. As someone who once was on the watch list for working on the protests against the invasion of Iraq, I find this a dangerous encroachment on civil liberties.

On foreign affairs, Clinton defended the Iran deal as one that “puts the lid” on the Iranian nuclear program. Trump doubled down on his determination to make NATO pay its fair share. He wants Saudi Arabia to pay. Clinton reminded the allies and the public that she would honor commitments and alliances. He claimed that Hillary doesn’t have the stamina to be president. Clinton went on the attack by reminding the public of the sexist statements Trump has said about women. He stumbled over this with slurs on Rosie O’Donnell, and his non comment comment on things that were too nasty to say about the Clinton family.

Newt Gingrich interviewed by Hannity, again drove the point about the sex scandals. Fox doing the leg work for Trump. It seems that they have decided the embrace the ugly duckling.

More later. I need to get some air.

Clinton Vs. Trump 1st Debate
Image from NY Times.

My girlfriend is solidly in the Clinton camp now. Another friend is solidly in the Green camp. I am reluctantly probably going to shift from Green to a defensive position and support Clinton, although as I pointed out to a friend. Trump and Putin together would run roughshod over the diplomatic niceties, in places like Syria, teaming up and blasting away the opposition and any squeamish attitudes about offending the Saudis, if they can get the Turks on board. Probably sacrificing the Kurds in the process. But ISIS would be squashed like a cockroach. Funny thing about cockroaches, when you squash them, the scent attracts more.

Domestically perhaps stop and frisk will be escalated to out right extralegal executions of drug dealers and illegals like the new President of the Philippines, are regular wild west approach. Vigilante justice raised to the level of law. Scary but if you believe in law and order, perhaps like Mussolini, a President Trump would make the trains run on time, and like Hitler build a new autobahn. So what if a few undesirable Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists, and Immigrant rights advocates disappear into the gulags. They already send thousands of immigrants into camps under Obama. Trump would act to accelerate the process and if white men don’t feel brow beaten anymore, well then it would all be worth it right?

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