This, That, and Other Things

Just a few thoughts/questions that recently came to mind …

Does anyone else think the U.S. should offer fire-fighting assistance to Australia in the wake of the terrible wildfires that are literally destroying parts of that country?

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I’m not at all versed in the financial end of politics; however, Keith and Scottie recently had a brief conversation related to government economics. I found the following comment by Keith a learning moment.

Obama did not reduce the debt and Clinton only impacted it in a small way for a short time. BUT, they did reduce the annual deficit, the annual accounting of revenue and expenses. In fact, Clinton handed a small surplus budget to Bush which was a huge statement of accomplishment. Bush then gave it a way with an ill-advised tax cut which his Secretary of the Treasury argued against doing and was fired. Obama’s reduction in the deficit was largely due to the sequestration due to the impasse on the debt ceiling. They put something in place in case no deal could be reached. No deal was reached and cuts were made.

While all of this was going on, the debt continued to climb. So, yes Clinton made huge strides to reduce the deficit. Obama made some strides, but could have done more. What should be noted about Clinton’s changes is more jobs were created under his watch than any other president by far. Yet, it is clear, both Bush and Trump have done very little to impact the deficit and debt. 

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Does anyone else agree that there will be some notable repercussions (possibly within our borders) from the recent killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds military force and one of the most powerful figures in the Islamic Republic?

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Why is it OK for Christians to try and pass laws to prevent abortion (which is a woman’s liberty) but they get very angry when they feel their “religious liberties” are being threatened?

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P.S. Comments are also open to discuss issues that you may be wondering about. 🙂

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A View of the U.S. From Across the Pond

One of my blogging friends (Filasofa) recently asked her followers who live outside of the U.S. to offer their insights on the myriad events occurring in our nation today. So far, she’s had three individuals respond to her request. In my opinion, the following one from Gary Metcalfe deserves a wider audience so I’m sharing it here as well.

Many of you may be followers of Jill’s blog and have already read Gary’s submittal. If not, I urge you to spend a few moments and read what he has to say. He shares what his country is dealing with and then goes on to compare it with what America is up against.

IMO, he paints a very accurate picture of our nation and its current “problems.”


IS YORKSHIRE CLOSER TO WASHINGTON OR PARIS

Geography doesn’t really come easily to a simple Yorkshire chap like myself. I’m lucky to find my way round the house never mind circumnavigate the globe.  But distance wise I am pretty sure we are closer to France than America. It has always puzzled me if I should call America – America or is it the USA? Let’s go for America. So, although we are physically closer to France, in terms of relationships are we closer to Washington or Paris?

This is such a difficult question given the fact that my own country has clearly gone barking mad. So badly divided over Brexit. Increasingly violent and seeing the worrying rise of extremism. Less tolerant. Without any effective leadership. Obsessed with the cult of personality over substance. A country with ever widening inequalities. Happy to criticise others yet reluctant to cooperate or make any meaningful international contribution.  Occasionally sending a few war planes into the Middle East does not really count as a constructive policy.

To be fair if Washington and Paris had any sense they would distance themselves from the UK. I suspect the leaders in Europe secretly can’t wait to get rid of us. When I worked for the NHS I went to a conference and the Secretary of State for Health started slagging off our European partners. He held up a European Competition Framework and complained that it was 300 pages long and was a clear sign of European bureaucracy gone mad. Unfortunately, he failed to mention that the vast majority of the bureaucracy in that document had been inserted at the request of the U.K. to protect our own interests. That document will be much slimmer when we have left.

Although we talk as if we are European we have historically seen our closest ally as America. America is often portrayed as vibrant, modern, yes a bit brash but also so very inclusive. Yes, we have seen things which make us shake our heads. The obsession with guns … what is all that about. Wouldn’t an obsession with something like Tea or Old Car Restoration be an awful lot safer for your kids. But still we could trust America. Then Obama came along and suddenly our closest ally became a real beacon of hope.

In 2011 the American President said a few simple words that resonated (he had a brilliant talent for that):

“We should do everything we can to ensure this country lives up to our children’s expectations”

 The words came at such a tragic time for the American People, but Obama was the leader we all wished we had. Intelligent, caring, passionate and someone who understood he had obligations to the upcoming generations. That’s a great look for country and certainly a friend we can work with.  Then the hope appeared to fade, stagnated by a divided country. Principles had to be compromised.  But still America was a trusted partner. Someone we could turn to when we fell out with Europe.

 Then we all got trumped.

 When Trump received his nomination it never really sunk in. We knew of him. A billionaire, a golfer, luxury hotel owner, someone who appeared in Home Alone 2 and the winner of the WWE Battle of the Billionaires with Vince McMahon – didn’t get his head shaved. That was it.

We didn’t focus on him too much as obviously Hillary would win, as obviously the UK would vote to stay in Europe. Then even after he won he wasn’t taken that seriously. He won’t last long, people started placing bets on how long he would be President. Most people seemed to think anywhere between 6 months to 1 week. But he stayed.

For the first period of his presidency it appeared from the U.K. that if you just ignored his frequent twitter rants then things would be ok. He hadn’t blown anything up. Apart from the noise nothing seemed to be happening. Yes, the revolving door approach to presidential appointments seemed vaguely amusing. Moving the White House engine room to a golf course (as clearly a golf course is where a President can do his best work) was not really a surprise. In fact, all we really heard was how much time he spent playing golf.  But slowly the news of the what trumping really meant started to filter across the pond.

  • Apparently dangerous links with Russia and certain Middle East tyrannies existed. But we couldn’t lecture on this as we have equally close links with Saudi Arabia.
  • The Paul Manafort saga (too confusing to really follow as we only heard about snippets of the story) but it clearly implied incompetence or something more sinister. Whatever the underlying cause it’s not a great example to the world of American Ethics.
  • The handling of the Puerto Rico natural disaster was just really insensitive, self-centered and despicable.
  • The apparent haste to fall out with your historic partners like Canada, France and Germany. But you have found a new buddy in North Korea.
  • He bizarrely started to openly condemn his own Intelligence Agencies and the FBI. Yet he didn’t seem as willing to condemn the Extreme Right operating in his own country.
  • The Complete disregard for international climate change commitments. It really felt like he was saying ‘stuff you’ to the world and future generations. Maybe he thinks it’s not my problem as I will be gone by the time the world burns. Contrast that with Obama’s approach. Monumentally stupid or colossally selfish.
  • Favouring the interest of the NRA over child safety. Seriously arming teachers….
  • Attacks on the Free Press and attempts to stifle debate. These are particularly worrying as some of our politicians are clearly starting to copy Trumps strategy. What happened to the Leader of the Free World role.
  • That Wall. That Magic Wall which will solve all of America’s problems. The Wall which is so precious that it’s worth freezing Government for. That must be some Wall. But the sight of a modern Leader seemingly taking personal delight at the shutdown. Probably thinks it makes him look like a big man. We are talking about people’s lives here being sacrificed for a few bricks.  Kids are dying on the border. Oh, I forgot they are just migrants. Are the golf courses still open?

To the vast majority in our country your President appears to be at best a misguided clown at worst a dangerously unbalanced self-obsessed bully. Either are not a good look for a leader and certainly not as a leader who we are trying to forge a partnership with. Many in our country feel that Trump has gone too far. That we should be distancing ourselves from him. But our PM is desperate, she sees an American trade deal (regardless of how bad it is) as a way of saving her job. So, unless we get a new government it’s going to happen.

Where does that leave us across the pond. Rapidly burning our bridges with Europe. Yet looking on at America with increasing consternation and alarm. At a time when we should be embracing closer links with Washington we see a dangerous superpower. Potentially a threat. Yes, a threat. And yet. And yet. As our country careens out of control into a world with few friends, our government views Trump as someone we might be able to quickly do business with. He clearly hates Europe as much as our Brexiteers. But at what cost. Is an unbalanced trade deal really worth further opening up our beloved National Health Service to Trump’s golfing buddies. Are we really that tainted as a country that we are prepared to sacrifice our moral principles for the price of a document which Trump could declare void at any stage.

So back to the big question. Are we closer to Washington or Paris? The answer is sadly neither.


What are your thoughts? Has he presented an accurate portrayal of our nation from “across the pond?”

Anyone But Obama! How About the Cookie Monster?

GREAT post about the incomparable Sarah Palin.

http://www.johnstaugustine.com/blog.html

NOTE: Unfortunately, this posting has been removed from the above blog. Not being a fan of Sarah Palin, for me it was a great post that highlighted her inability to reason out the issues with any kind of sanity. I’m sorry others no longer have the opportunity to read this example of John’s wit and sarcasm.

So You Think You Want Smaller Government

Fareed Zakaria, author and foreign affairs analyst who hosts “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN, made an interesting comment in a recent article (link below):

” … the reality here is that the American people want a certain level of government. It’s something of a fantasy to believe that they really want a radically smaller government than the one we have.”

Along these lines, I came across a letter to the editor of the local newspaper that contained some excellent points — most of which few of us consider in our day-to-day living. I’m quoting the letter here.

There was a guy who got up early one morning and made coffee with safe drinking water he drew from the tap from the city of [name]. He ate a bowl of cereal and pasteurized milk, not worrying about getting sick from it because it was inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shortly after he finished his cereal, the school bus picked up his kids to transport them to their free public education.

He drove to work on paved roads maintained by city workers in a car in which he did not have to worry about his safety because it was inspected by government regulators. He performed his job in safe conditions because his workplace was regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He was paid a living wage because U.S. Department of Labor employees regulated his workplace.

He got paid breaks in the morning and the afternoon because laws enforced by employees of the [State] Bureau of Labor and Industries guaranteed him this right. His employer needed him to work two hours overtime, for which he was paid time and a half because of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

After work, he went to a tea party meeting at a local restaurant where he could dine without fear of food poisoning because government inspectors ensured that restaurants comply with laws and regulations to protect public health. In that meeting, he stood up and complained, “I pay way too much in taxes, and government never does anything for me!”

If you would like to read more about what Fareed had to say, read the full article, “Can Obama, GOP Really Cut the Deficit?” His observations on the possibility of compromise between the Democrats and Republicans are thought-provoking.