We are now at the beginning of the beginning for addressing the virus. I have a slightly contrarian view of our new national approach to combating the Covid-19 pandemic through the vaccination strategy. Conventional wisdom indicates that we vaccinate the people most at risk in our society to prevent needless death and suffering in the vulnerable cohorts; elderly, infirm and people with co-morbidities.

While I understand this approach and the scientific data that supports these
interventions, I would ask the question, what happens to the young who are at risk for Covid-19 infection and those infected who will suffer unknown impacts to their health status going into the future?

I am of the age and health designation that I will be one of the first to get the opportunity for vaccination. I have a vested interest. My wife, who is younger, will fall into the category of being next in line but she may have a co-morbidity that will make her eligible for earlier vaccination. I am concerned for her health. I have two daughters in their twenties that will be the last to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. I worry for their health and futures. I raise the question; is the risk for delaying vaccination to our young too great, to the overall well being of the country and world at large? What will happen if we inherit a world of sick young people who will impact our healthcare capacities for a disproportionately longer period of time if they were to be infected, survive but develop chronic illnesses secondary to the disease? What happens to our workforce? What happens to our economy?

I would hope that we will have an approach that addresses this conundrum in public health safety and future impacts on the economic viability of a world with sick young people needing health resources for a long time and not being able to work due to illness, reducing tax dollars into our national coffers, further impacting our country’s future ability to serve our population. We need more Covid-19 vaccines now and a wider distribution to a more varied base of recipients without age considerations. We must save our future by saving our young.

This is a plight of significant proportion and there is of course an impact to neighboring countries in South America and as far as Spain, where Venezuelan immigrants are seeking refuge. But we should make no pretense on what is unfolding here. Our media outlets showed the imagery of Russian jets landing on Venezuelan soil in increasing numbers. The embrace of Maduro by Russian, Turkey and to a lesser degree, North Korea.This is happening in the Western Hemisphere and is seen as a threat (real or contrived and inflated). Interesting that the plight of the Haitian people who are also in our Hemisphere is not considered a priority or ‘humanitarian crisis, but that writing is for another day.

Further, and here is the kicker….Venezuela is OIL RICH (oh… Haiti, now I understand). Let me repeat that. Venezuela is OIL RICH. The ability of many multinationals (in case you were wondering, the 1%) to manipulate OPEC, Russia’s oil dominance and an opportunity to determine Russian economic stability is too great an opportunity for America, especially this administration to squander, or so they may think.

If I were the American tourists, dignitaries and Embassy staff located in Venezuela I would be packing my bags and getting on the next flight out, because they are going to be the pawns used as a simulated pretext for American intervention. Think hostage situation. Think about Maduro’s threats and demand that they leave. Think about Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s position that Maduro cannot demand they leave. Is Pompeo kidding???? All the precursors for an invasion…er sorry….INTERVENTION (so much cleaner and sanitized a term).

I remember the Iranian hostage CRISIS. I see this devolving into a situation that may be reminiscent of that malady. 

I am no military planner, I am not Nostradamus, I have no other concern other than to say, I have seen this movie before. A high level American politician setting the stage for intervention by preparing the American public about ‘humanitarian’ or ‘geopolitical’ crisis forming “right off our shores”. A President with sagging popularity looking for an ‘October Surprise.’ Military threat from….The Russians. And….get ready…… ITS ABOUT THE OIL. ITS ABOUT THE MONEY! 

Who will get rich at the expense of some other nation’s citizens?

I will remind you of the Shah of Iran and American intervention that gave rise to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran Contra Affair. The Domino Theory. The Iraq War (take your pick which one) giving rise to ISIS.  I know, I know, these are all disparate ‘adventures’ with unrelated precursors save one. MONEY. Look and see what was at the root of these interventions by our government. Oil, land, territory and a geopolitical chessboard that makes dominance over other people’s land the prime directive. But make no mistake, if you seek out the root cause analysis of the adventurism, it was about the MONEY! Its ALWAYSabout the money!

I don’t want to see anymore American treasure lost in the pursuit of fleeting gains and assuaging fragile egos and image.

Be cautious America, Be on your guard.                          I think we have seen this movie before.

Political Opinion: Donald Trump’s Exit Strategy

I think everyone has it wrong, Donald Trump has an Exit Strategy. Donald Trump has never wanted to be president. He has wanted the notoriety of running for the presidency but never the responsibility of the office. He has wanted the attention and to be placed on the same stage as those who would assume the office but he never assumed that he could win the office. Donald Trump’s ego forces him to seek the stage, the limelight but he could never risk not winning. If Donald Trump loses in a ‘fair’ fight or election, it would diminish his brand. Donald Trump could never have that.
Indeed, Donald Trump has expanded his domain. He has expanded the Trump brand. His brand is bombast, entitlement, pugnacious temperament and an air of never retreating from a fight. He has acquired a constituency of older white men who will forever be in his debt for making them feel empowered and in the right, as they see ‘their America’ fading due to a relentless demographic change in the American landscape. They will forever buy the Trump brand of goods for the ‘virile,’‘powerful’ man. Trump Cologne, Trump clothing, Trump real estate, golf course membership and so on.
Donald Trump has succeeded in positioning his business interests among those who he feels will continue to support him and purchase his goods and services for the foreseeable future. The Trump business empire will expand. Watch for the announcement of his next reality television show and see how the networks and cable television executives will fawn over him and enter into armed combat with each other for the ‘privilege’ of producing his show. The network executives will assume that his ratings will be beyond belief because, that older white male demographic will be sure to tune in. The ratings will be ‘HUGE.” Brilliant!
Trump has succeeded in capturing an entire constituency of the Republican Party. Notice you don’t hear much about the Tea party these days, to the chagrin of Ted Cruz and others. We now have the Trump wing of the Republican Party. He could be a Kingmaker. He now has political power to go along with his considerable social media and traditional media acumen. Trump knows how to manipulate the media and expertly leverage the combination of media and political power. We have all been seduced and co-opted by his magnificent illusion. Watch how many of the Republican candidates come to kiss his ring as they mount a bid to become the 45th President of the United States. Trump has won! Regardless of which party wins the White House, Trump will have a voice and a seat at the table because he has his following. I repeat, Trump has won.
Now he has to escape the birdcage of campaigning. Trump has repeatedly stated that he would consider running as an Independent if the Republican Party did not “treat him fairly.” He has now artificially created a crisis of American identity by proposing the unfair and unconstitutional premise of barring Muslims from entering the country. Trump in one fell swoop has coalesced the opposition to him by every candidate and the entire Republican leadership establishment. I guess he will consider this as ‘unfair treatment’ and decide to pick up his marbles and leave the candidate stage. white-blank-space
The Exit Strategy is revealed. He will threaten an Independent run but will decide against this for the ‘good’ of the party; only to remain in the conversation as an outside element. A VERY powerful position that he will be able to continue to drive the conversation and terms of this election. If the Democrats win he will assume no blame because it will be another candidate’s loss. If the Republicans win, he will assume some of the responsibility for victory for having the ‘brass appendages’ for creating the environment for success. The Republican president will owe him favors and he will have unprecedented access. Trump wins.
We have all been witness to the genius of Donald trump. I am very impressed.

Opinion: Democrats beware. There is a Republican Making Sense and he is a Threat

Governor_John_Kasich. .Wikipedia public domain
.Wikipedia public domain
Democrats beware. There is a Republican making sense and he is a threat His name is…John Kasich. This Ohio Governor made his mark during the recent Republican debate and his poll numbers are showing it. OK, self-disclosure time. I would describe myself as a center right democrat. I believe in a women’s right to choose and I abhor abortion. I am a supporter of the ACA, fondly known as Obamacare but I feel there should be reforms in the law for bringing malpractice suits against healthcare professionals. The government should be able to exert some controls concerning the purchase and costs of drugs. There must be cost containment in healthcare. I believe in the right to bare arms but come on; does anyone need to have 20 AK-47s in their closet??? Now that 50 percent of you hate me and the other 50% can barely stand me, let me tell you why Governor Kasich is such a threat to the Democrats. It is because he appeals to me. He has staked a position that speaks of his approach to governance. COMPROMISE. He is neither a flame-thrower nor a marshmallow. He has a temper that he has actively learned to control in public but he shows some spirit and passion when he explains his positions. He has not run away from the fact that his state accepted and utilized Obamacare to provide the uninsured population in his state with the opportunity for healthcare. He has addressed the incarcerated, drug dependent felon by not further punishing them for their drug related crimes but by providing resources to address their drug dependence. He has actively worked to rehabilitate them. The recidivism rate in his state is among the lowest in the country. Something is working. John Kasich is Pro-Life but he states he respects that others have the right to their position for a women’s right to choose.
I think Kasich has gotten a free pass from the media’s scrutiny because he was not considered a top tiered candidate (watch out Governor, some fastballs are coming your way, high and tight, a little chin music). His Republican rivals have not targeted him because he was not seen as a threat. He deftly co-opted Trump’s positions and did not antagonize him. He did not create an early enemy (Trump will be after him soon enough). The Democrats have not put him on their radar because of the confusion caused by the Trump phenomenon, Bush’s political malfeasance and Carly Fiorina’s slow start. I think that Trump will last for a long time because he has his own money, is not afraid of saying what everyone is thinking and has enough time to hire the right consultants to sharpen his message until he develops some political chops of his own. What do they say? Fake it until you can make it! Trump’s brash tone and take no prisoners attitude has capture the imagination of a portion of the Republican base that will support him until they think he is not electable (I think that Trump’s endgame is to be a King or Queen maker to gain access, leverage and influence from whoever wins the White House). Politically, someone will have to challenge Trump, not back down and take him out. I think that George… uh, Jeb Bush will go on the attack because he has to do something to show those who want to support him that he has the fire in the belly to go the distance. The Democratic standard barer will show Republicans no quarter and Jeb must get prepared to show some toughness by going through Trump. Kasich will be waiting in the wings. I don’t think that Rubio is ready yet. He is polished, very smart and a good politician. I just don’t think he is a great politician, just yet. Some more seasoning is required here. His message is still muddled (although that may change as the primary season gets into gear and he naturally sharpens his attack). Rubio does not yet represent the wider Hispanic voter, so his natural advantage is not yet fully formed but his appeal could broaden to capture a vice-presidential pick. Rubio has money to spend and backers willing to front him some more.
Carly Fiorina is a compelling figure. She is incredibly smart and knows how to position an argument. She must break through during the next few debates to show her ability to appear as a commander-in-chief. I have not heard her discuss topics concerning military engagement and geopolitical concerns. How will she illustrate that she can lead the military as well as she lead in the boardroom. Mr. Trump as well as Jeb Bush will test her bona fides. How will she react and respond to the pressure. She too, is an option for vice-presidential consideration.
Ben Carson,  (Wikipedia public domain)
Ben Carson,
(Wikipedia public domain)
I do not know what to think of Dr. Ben Carson. His lack of political background would expose him to some ridicule if this weren’t the Republican brand of politics (inquisition?). He is a very quick study and his appeal to the Republican base and the Tea-party insurgents will provide him with the cover he will need to last until the first of the primaries are over. I predict that he will fade and be gone from this political stage in a relatively short time. The rest of the gang of 17 will not make the top six candidates sweat for very long but I promise you it will be very entertaining.
That brings me back to Kasich. I think he is the greatest threat to any Democrat opponent who will be standing at the end of silly season. He is the real deal. Bush has a ton of money, so he will be around to test Kasich, as will Trump. Both of them will fall to the wayside. In a general election, I think that Kasich will be the most nimble of the Republicans, ready to pivot to the center and challenge for the White House. He is already in the center and he will be formidable. He strikes me as reasonable (I am really concerned now). This represents his worst quality and greatest liability as far as the far right is concerned. His very tangible qualities allowing for electability may prevent him from getting out of the Republican primaries; his ability to reason and be reasonable with Democrats. But if the GOP truly wants to recapture the presidency, they must have as a candidate, someone who is acceptable to the Independent voter and someone who does not totally scare Democrats and their base. Blacks, Hispanics, the LGBT community, people who don’t want to lose their ACA healthcare could potentially support and vote for this man. Kasich fits the bill unless he reveals a hidden, ultra-conservative, crazy rightwing agenda. He can beat Hillary, Biden or Sanders. Imagine a Kasich-Rubio ticket. The sound you hear is the RNC leadership salivating. Hillary better get on the phone (no email please) to call Julian Castro, she’s going to need the help.
Democrats beware. There is a Republican making sense and he is a Threat!

Prediction: Kasich/Rubio vs. Clinton/Castro

Wikipedia public domain
Wikipedia public domain

Opinion: America, Post Obama…You Are Going To Miss Him When He Is Gone!
America, Post Obama. Let’s see… 2008, America in financial ruin and entering into the great recession, maybe the next great depression and faced with a Congress that wants Obama to be a one-term president (thank you Senator McConnell…how did that work out?). The result…a nation now on the brink of a historic financial rebound. Problems still exist, underemployment, women making less salary than men while doing the same job, salary stagnation, race-relations’ cognition, minimum wages that cannot allow people to rise out of poverty or into the middle class. What are the results of Obama’s interventions? A stock market that has rebounded and improved, showing signs of stability, with trading platforms providing the best they can for their clients, this includes eToro Erfahrungen from websites such as Unemployment down to historic levels not seen since the 1970s. An economy that is robust, an improving housing market, and consumer spending that shows confidence in America’s economic future. The Republicans want to demean the successes but you can bet your bottom dollar, if Romney had been elected, republicans would have been touting this recovery as some kind of miracle formula; a magic act that Romney had performed, upon the ouster of Obama. Why isn’t Obama afforded the same platitudes? Damn, I hate politics sometimes…
To show his vision, the first bill Obama passed upon earning and winning the presidency was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This law amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (another historic law that was opposed). A law that requires equal pay for women providing the same services as men. A law protecting women who had been discriminated against earning an equal wage. As a father of two daughters, this resonated with me and so the President had me on his side from the time he said Hello.
ASC_2170Obama promised to end two wars that had taken the treasure and lives of thousands of America’s finest and left countless thousands of soldiers, broken from physical and psychological damages, far too many. Were some of Obama’s decisions on how to extricate America from these wars coordinated and orchestrated in less than perfect ways. Yes. But you tell me how you remove over 100,000 men and women from two theaters of war without it becoming a very messy affair. I hold Obama accountable for the missteps and I am sure he holds himself accountable too but the reduction of forces in these two theaters of war has saved countless lives and prevented additional injury. Make no mistake; America will be caring for our veterans who have suffered injury, both physical and mental for over a generation. The financial impact on the healthcare system will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars and every American will be impacted, none more so, than the veterans and their families. All the more reason to have ended these wars. But we all know that the Middle East will continue to be an evolving problem.
This was part of the reason for the overture that Obama made to the Muslim world. Again, his speech was ridiculed for being naive and ineffective. During the Arab spring when there were changes and upheaval in the Muslim world, too many stated that Obama was caught unawares. Well… no excuses but could anyone have guessed what would evolve and what is still evolving. Obama was blamed for the rise of ISIS (ISIL) because he removed too many troops from Iraq and left that country unprotected. Should he have left the troops there? Wouldn’t both his constituent base and political enemies attack Obama for not keeping his word? This was one of the reasons why he was elected, to get the troops out! The hypothesis is, that Obama created a power vacuum in Iraq that gave rise to ISIS. I would submit that the vacuum was created when Saddam Hussein was overthrown in our original miscalculation. This act created a cascading effect, which changed the landscape of the region. I will not blame the Bush administration for their actions; history will be the judge of that. Obama, as the current President, as all presidents must do, would have to act on the events of the day, not what he would have wanted them to be. I will say this, regarding the current events in the Middle East in relationship to ISIS; in absence of stronger Arab governments, war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims was going to happen eventually. Without Obama forcing the neighboring Arab, Persian, Kurds, Turks, Sunni and Shiite participants into having some ‘skin in the game’ by not having American soldiers fighting their battles for them, the Muslim governments have now had to provide their own troops (when had this happened in the last 10 years or EVER?) fighting their own battles against ISIS. This is a good thing and it does not occur unless Obama changed the paradigm, the way in which we conducted our foreign policy among these Muslim leaders.
Obama’s foreign policy has been skewered for its inconsistency and purported lack of a muscular response to adversarial leaders, most notably, Vladimir Putin. Supposedly, Obama was playing checkers while Putin was playing chess. It is interesting to note, that Obama was able to cobble together a meaningful and strong response to Russian incursions and military adventures utilizing a coalition of allies to impose sanctions that have impacted the Russian economy. Russia is now seeking a way out. Russia will not relinquish the Crimean port in Ukraine, because the impending deal with Iran will put more oil into the world’s petroleum market, further reducing Russia’s global strength and could collapse her economy. Russia needs this port to cheaply export her oil, all the while getting a diminished return on this most costly investment. Is Obama playing a global game of checkers or chess? Can anyone one say Checkmate?
I would submit that there are better ways to project strength than implementing a military response. Once power is used it loses its force, it is the strength of the threat of power, unused and inferred that keeps regimes like Russia in check. That is the power that sanctions impose. Sanctions can always be increased, providing a fear that the worst is still yet to come. This is why Russia is now seeking compromise and cooperation with the Obama administration. This is why Iran came to the bargaining table. America has led by putting together an effective sanctions regime in which both China and Russia are playing an important part, impacting Iran.
The Iran nuclear deal is a game changer. The prospect of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is daunting and unacceptable. The fundamental change in the Middle East upon acceptance of the Iran nuclear deal will be profound (whatever that means). With the possible entry of Iran into the Middle East’s economy, everyone in the neighborhood will have to up their economic game. Competition will hopefully breed cooperation as well as integration of societies. It is apparent to me that people often get along if they are accepting of their neighbors, they trade, their children get to know each other, they break bread together; it is governments that disagree. At this time, it appears that Saudi Arabia is warming to the deal. I am empathetic with the concerns of Israel and her people and their leadership. To live with a pointed gun to your head is an untenable position. To those in Israel who disagree with Obama’s position, if you do not understand their historical perspectives as well as the real world issues of having a nuclear powered Iran on your doorstep, this could be considered an unforgivable transgression on the part an ally. What could be viewed as a betrayal! We should not forget that the Obama administration has provided the Israeli government with more military aid than any American administration in the history of our historic partnership. Many in Israel agree with the Obama administration about the proposed Iran nuclear agreement and have broken with the Netanyahu government’s position. From a foreign policy perspective, President Obama is the president of the United States and his decisions must be based on what he considers is in the best interests of America. Obama does not want to go to war with Iran. Now many people feel that this is a false narrative and that war is not the only alternative to a nuclear deal with Iran but it is a viable risk. IF…the nuclear deal is done AND it works the way it is meant to, the logic being presented is that Iran would be integrated into the world economy. With a population consisting of 2/3’s of its people under the age of 30 wanting to work and thrive, the popular sentiment would be disinclined to want to lose the benefits of global integration. Why go to war when peace is so beneficial? The current theocracy in power in Iran will not want an Arab Spring on its hands but it is hopeful that the leadership and politics in Iran will change during the duration of the agreement. I believe that this is the Obama calculation. I further believe that the deal will get done. I do not believe that Congress will be able to override the President’s expected Veto, not withstanding the Senate and Senator Chuck Schumer’s decision to not support the agreement (a matter of conscience because he is the only one with a leadership position to lose to Dick Durbin). I personally think that the Veto will be sustained by Nancy Pelosi’s control of the lower house. In terms of whether the Iran nuclear deal is good for the country and the world, only time and history will tell.
For a president that many had written off as a LAME DUCK and being a non-factor after the Senate and House of Representatives was captured by the Republicans, I think that more people were concerned with what they perceive as Obama’s obsession with his place in history than in his ability to set the agenda for Congress and the country, becoming arguably a more effective leader than at any time in his presidency; that his concerns are that an Iran deal will provide him with a foreign policy legacy, that the Affordability Care Act will provide him with a domestic legacy. I think that President Obama is more concerned with leaving America strong, safe and protected. I think that America represents motherhood to the president (Ok, I am not a psychoanalyst, I only act like I think I am). President Obama sees that America, like a mother, feeds and nourishes us all. I think that like a protective son, Barack Obama, who watched his mother die and was helpless to prevent it, vowed to protect all the women in his life, especially, the mothers. I think that President Obama will not let America wither and die in a similar manner that his mother died (sons relive the death of a mother and it shapes the way we respond to the world). The Affordable Care Act will protect all the mothers, women and children in our society from being unprotected from an unseen, undetected healthcare disaster waiting to happen. This was his vow. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 will protect the mothers and daughters in our society from being marginalized and treated like second-class citizens. This was his vow. He will try to keep the waters from rising by protecting the environment. Romney disparagingly joked that he wouldn’t do that, that he would just bring jobs to America. The current unemployment rate is 5.3, the best in a very, very long time. I guess this president has shown that he can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. Has President Obama been a perfect president, not even close. He still has infrastructure reform to do; he still has wage reform to do; he still has African trade to do… But in an attempt to form a more perfect union…this LAME DUCK hasn’t been half baked or half bad!
You are going to miss him when he is gone.

photo courtesy: Kurt H. Leggard