Trump’s “Bring Back U.S. Jobs” plan has not penetrated his own businesses

Donald Trump has announced a seven-step program to bring jobs back to the USA. I would enumerate them all, but they include such promises as to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiate NAFTA, and bring trade cases against China. However, when it comes to his own businesses, Donald Trump has other values.

Most of the Trump-branded clothing including his suits are made in China. Other articles come from clothing factories in Mexico, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.  Trump’s brand of furniture is made in Turkey, and his crystal collection is manufactured in Slovenia.

Despite his railing against immigration, Donald Trump has made ample use of foreign-born workers, some in the country illegally and others here on temporary work visas. Donald Trump employes hundreds of foreign workers at his Mar-a-Lago resort Florida, whom I assume he brings in on legal temporary work visas. However, the contractor Trump used to demolish a building to make way for Trump Tower in New York City employed undocumented Polish immigrants who slept onsite and worked long hours for little pay. Although Trump publicly claimed he did not know that they were undocumented, he privately settled a lawsuit effectively admitting that he did. Donald Trump also used undocumented foreign workers to help construct the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Except for employing and exploiting undocumented workers, I would hold none of this against Donald Trump if he weren’t making the export of American jobs a campaign issue. Sometimes having work done overseas is the most intelligent way of getting a job done. What I object to is Donald Trump’s hypocrisy on the issue.

I wrote a novel about a hypocrite like Donald Trump who wins the presidency. I borrowed from Donald Trump’s character to write it. You can learn more by clicking on the cover image of Running for President in the left sidebar.

Will English Disappear as Official European Language?

If the UK leaves the European Union, and I’m not so sure that it ever will, it will mean the end of English as an official European Language. Each member country is permitted to designate one language as an official European Union Language. The UK is the only country that has so designated English. Ireland is an English-speaking country, of course, but it chose to designate Irish as its official European language.

English is the de facto working language of the EU, much to the chagrin of the French. I have no doubt that most of the working conversation between representatives to the EU and EU employees will continue to be English as will most unofficial communication between the EU and the rest of the world. English is just too ingrained in international communication to be displaced.

However, I wonder if English’s possible future lack of official status might mean that official documents will no longer be printed in English and that official communications will no longer take place in English. Will the Japanese and the Chinese have to learn French or German or Romanian or Estonian in order to officially communicate with the Eu?

In any case, the process of leaving the European Union will most likely drag on for years. Nothing official happens until the UK invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, and David Cameron is dragging his feet on invoking it. In fact, he has said that it will be up to the next prime minister to do so, which pushes off any such decision until at least October. It is even possible that the next prime minister will not invoke the Article at all, which would leave the UK in the EU.

Once Article 50 is invoked, the UK and the EU are supposed to come to terms on the UK’s exit within two years. The process can only be halted or extended by unanimous agreement, which gives any EU country a veto. It is easy to understand why the UK government is not anxious to start the process. Once it does, it will be in a very weak negotiating position. It has no motive to invoke Article 50 until it has some assurances from other EU countries what the terms of its exit might be.

On the other hand, several leading figures in the EU including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have stated that no negotiations can take place until Article 50 is invoked. We appear to have a standoff that may cause UK bureaucrats to never quite getting around to invoking the Article.

Was George W. Bush the Last Republican US President Ever?

In the past decades, both the Republican and Democratic parties have become increasingly dysfunctional, but the dysfunction is much more severe in the Republican Party and has reached the point that the Republicans are incapable of nominating a candidate who has even a slim chance of being elected president.

George W. Bush was the last Republican candidate to have broad appeal when he ran for president. Sure, he was a conservative, but he ran as a “compassionate” conservative. It turned out during his first term there was little that was compassionate about him, and he would probably not have been reelected if it hadn’t been for 9/11. US voters were reluctant to change presidents after the country’s worst modern tragedy.

In 2008, the nominee was John McCain, who had once had a good relationship with senators on both sides of the aisle, but to win the nomination, he renounced his “maverick” moniker and began calling himself a conservative. That won him the nomination, but the country was in no mood to elect a newly-minted ideologue to the presidency. In all fairness, it wasn’t McCain’s new-found conservatism alone that cost him the election, he showed an appalling lack of knowledge of economics, and he picked a complete airhead as his running mate.

Mitt Romney was the nominee in 2012. From all reports, he had been a good governor of Massachusetts, but the Republican primary voters were not looking for competence. They were looking for an ideologically pure conservative. So, Mitt Romney sold himself as one, although his primary opponents branded him the “Massachusetts moderate,” as if being a sensible moderate were liability, which in the Republican Party it was. Romney might have had a chance to be elected in 2012 if he had shaken the conservative label and moved to the middle in the general election, but he didn’t. American voters don’t want an ideologue as president. They want a competent administrator and someone who can work with both sides of the aisle in Congress.

However, no one can work with the Republicans in Congress anymore, not even other Republicans. The situation is worse in the House of Representatives than in the Senate. There are sub-factions within sub-factions among the Republican House members. That is why John Boehner left the job of House speaker with tears flowing down his cheeks, and that is why present speaker Paul Ryan can get nothing done. The House Speaker is a leader in name only. The Republican Party is chaotic and cannot be organized. It’s difficult to remember that not that many years ago President Bill Clinton was signing bills passed by a House that had impeached him. That was probably the last time that bitter political enemies were willing to work together for the good of the country.

The best indication of how far the Republican Party has sunk is the present presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Everyone knows that he not only can’t be elected president, he is doing great damage to the Republican Party. Paradoxically, many Republican voters support Trump precisely because he may blow up the Republican Party just as Brexit threatens to blow up the European Union. Far too many Republicans delight in the fact that the Republican Party is in the process of disintegration, and they’re glad to do their part to help the process of disintegration along, not only by nominating an unelectable presidential candidate but also by electing members of Congress whose main reason for running is to destroy government.

The purpose of the Republican primaries is no longer to nominate a candidate who could become president of the United States. The purpose is to nominate a candidate who will figuratively raise a middle finger at the Republican establishment. If Donald Trump is much worse than the former unelectable Republican presidential candidates, imagine how bad the next one will be. Could we see David Duke as the Republican presidential candidate in 2020?

To give credit where credit is due, this post was inspired by an article in The Atlantic entitled “How American Politics Went Insane. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/…insane/485570/

Donald Trump Shoots Self in Foot

Donald Trump apparently thinks that Elizabeth Warren will be his opponent in the presidential race instead of Hillary Clinton. At any rate, he spent part of the weekend tossing out the same tired old insults against Elizabeth Warren that he has been making for months. Why is he campaigning against Senator Warren instead of Secretary Clinton?

In a phone interview, The Donald said in reference to Senator Warren, “She made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she’s a racist, actually because what she did was very racist.” (Those of you who are language wonks will notice that the last sentence is a perfect example of the original meaning of the phrase “begging the question.”) He also again referred to Senator Warren as Pocahontas.

Donald Trump’s advisers have counseled him to stop insulting Elizabeth Warren, reminding him that his opponent is almost certain to be Hillary Clinton and not the senior United States senator from Massachusetts, but when he steps in front of a microphone, Donald Trump forgets all logic and lets his emotions run wild stating, “I do what I do. I’ve listened to this for a long time – at the beginning of the primaries, ‘He should do this, he should do that.’ I won in a landslide.”

Donald Trump thinks that the tactics that won him the primary election will  work in the general election, where independent and Democratic voters will decide who wins. He thinks he’s still addressing an audience of mostly  older white males with a high school education or less, apparently in blissful ignorance of his declining poll numbers. So far, his opinion is being proved wrong.

Perhaps in the long run Donald Trump will be shown to be right and the “experts” are wrong. After all, he correctly points out the Republican primaries by following his own instincts and blurting out whatever came into his head. However, as stated, polling numbers show Donald Trump’s support diminishing, even among better-educated Republicans. Some polls show Hillary Clinton with a single-digit lead; others show her beating Trump by double digits. However, they all show Hillary Clinton in the lead. A large portion of potential Republican voters admit that Donald Trump is not even qualified to be president.

Changing the subject, if you haven’t done so yet, you may want to investigate one of my books. Click on the book cover image in the left sidebar to go to the book’s Website. You can read a free except from A Senior Citizen Walks the Camino de Santiago and my novel Running for President about a Trump-like figure who is elected president of the United States by using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. Kindle Unlimited members can read both books for free.

The bottom book is a free ebook download and consists of several chapters from Running for President. My hope is that after people read the free chapters, some of them will be motivated to buy the complete work.

The sale of these books support this blog.

Brexit, What Will Happen Now?

Now that the British have voted to leave the European Union, no one can predict what will happen. The exit process does not officially begin until Britain evokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. David Cameron, the present British Prime Minister, has resigned, but his resignation is not scheduled to take place until October, and he has stated that it should not be him who evokes Article 50 but rather his successor. This contradicts his statements before the referendum that he would evoke Article 50 immediately if the British voted to leave the European Union.

Some European Union leaders are impatient to kick the UK out of the Union. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said David Cameron should formally announce Britain’s intention no later than this coming Tuesday. His opinion will probably have no more effect than Donald Trump’s promises to build a wall on the US/Mexican border.

Another hardliner is the president of the European Union Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who said that negotiations for Britain’s exit should begin “immediately.” He added, “It’s not an amicable divorce, but it was not exactly tight affair anyway.”

One of the few voices of reason coming from the European continent is that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said there is no need to be nasty, probably referring to Schulz and Juncker without mentioning their names.

Since the referendum, an online petition has been started on the British Parliament website to hold a second referendum. The theory is that many people who voted to leave the EU did not consider the consequences and would now vote to stay. Jenna Ives-Moody, a journalism student at the University of Huddersfield in England wrote “serious fact-based journalism within the U.K. is not valued by the majority of the English population.” (Of course, she could have written that about the present population in the United States, as well.)

I am a dual national, a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom, so I have a right to sign the online petition to the British Parliament, and I did so, although I am not confident that a second petition would produce a different result. However, those in favor of a new referendum point out that if Britain leaves the EU, Scotland has threatened to leave Britain and attempt to retain its EU membership. Most of the population in Northern Ireland also voted against leaving the EU. Leaving would be a big setback to the cooperation that has (finally) developed between Northern Ireland and the Ireland Republic, which will stay in the EU.

Those who favor a second referendum believe that now that the British have seen that leaving the European Union could mean a breakup of the United Kingdom, they may have buyers’ remorse and vote differently if give a second opportunity.

Although I qualified to sign the online petition for a new referendum, I will not be able to vote if it is held. Overseas Brits, who have not voted in-country in the past few years, are not permitted to cast an overseas ballot. I was born in the United States, and this is my home. I have no plans to move to Britain to have the right to vote there.

Whatever the outcome, Britain leaves the European Union or not, I hope that Brits will continue to have the right to free travel and residence throughout the European Union. If I enter the European Union on my American passport, the amount of time I am allowed to remain in Europe is limited. Ten years ago I spent a year studying in Grenoble, France, and I had to jump through a lot of paperwork hoops to obtain temporary French residence. If I had had my British passport at the time, I would have had the same right to live in France as and French person.

Incidentally, this blog is supported by the sale of my books. For information on some of the books I have written, click the book cover image in the left sidebar.

Brexit Blues

As a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the Unites States, I have been following the movement to leave the European Union for months in the hope that the Brits would eventually decide to stay. Unfortunately, from my point of view, the vote yesterday was to leave.

My British passport gives me the rights of a citizen throughout Western Europe, not only in the European Union, but also in countries that have entered into an agreement with the European Union such as Switzerland, Norway, and even Iceland. The agreement facilitates the free movement of people throughout most of Western and Central Europe. If I go to Spain or Poland, I have the same rights as any Spanish or Polish citizen does.

What will happen to my rights in Europe outside the UK now that the voters have decided in favor of Brexit? That is impossible to say. There will be a long period of negotiation during which the UK’s relationship with Europe will negotiated. For now, my British passport is also a European passport, but no one knows if that will be the case two years from now.

There is even some talk that there might be a second referendum, but that would seem to make sense only if the European Union makes substantial concessions in an attempt to persuade the UK to stay in the Union. The European Union is made up 28 countries including Britain. Decisions are made by consensus. That means the UK will have to negotiate not only with the European Union headquarters in Brussels but also with 27 national governments.

This morning the British pound sterling and the British stock market have taken a big hit. Yesterday the UK had the fifth-largest economy in the world. Today it is sixth behind France. Other markets have also fallen, especially in Europe. That last time I checked, the German market was down eight percent. The US market at present is down 2.5 percent.

The euro has also declined in value, although not nearly as drastically as the pound. A cheaper euro is an advantage for me in the short run. I will leave in a just over a week for a short vacation in France and Spain. If you are planning a trip to the UK, now is the time to go. Due to the weak pound, everything is on sale for those who can pay in dollars.

House Democrats Deserve Our Thanks

House Democrats deserve our applause for taking a stand for sensible gun regulation in face of opposition from the House leadership, which has been bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association (NRA). As you undoubtedly know House Democrats are staging a sit-in and say they will not leave until House Speaker Paul Ryan allows a vote on gun measures. Paul Ryan, who is one of many Republican House members who do the NRA’s bidding, has officially adjourned the House until July 5 in an attempt to prevent any gun legislation from coming to a vote.

I do not expect the House Democrats to maintain their sit-in until July 5, but even if they do not, they have drawn public attention to the fact that many Republicans put the desires of the NRA ahead of the will and welfare of their constituents. Polls consistently show that most Americans, including most Republicans and most gun owners, favor some form of gun control.

Of course, even if House Democrats prevail and manage to pass a bill that would prevent people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms, there will still be a big hurdle to spring over in the Senate. Senate rules effectively require a super majority of 60 votes to pass any meaningful legislation.

How can this impasse be ended? In the short term, it probably cannot. However, elections will be held in November, and I hope that more voters will throw those politicians out of office who put the NRA’s interest ahead of those of the American people.

On another topic, I would like to mention that this blog is financed by the sale of my books. Two of the books I have written are available for purchase from Amazon and other booksellers. The third book is available for free download from Smashwords, iTunes, Barns & Noble, and others. Please click on a book’s cover image in the left sidebar for more information.

Is Trump’s Run for Presidency a Publicity Stunt?

Does Donald Trump want to be elected president of the United States? He is not running like a candidate who does. Not only has he continued his insults, he is doing nothing to raise cash, and a considerable amount of the money he is spending goes to pay for events at Trump properties. Yes, he is spending a lot of his own money, but he is getting part of it back by spending it at businesses he owns and is gaining invaluable publicity in the process.

Donald Trump made a lot of stumbles in the past week: Lambasting an Indiana-born judge hearing a fraud case against Trump University for his Mexican heritage, firing his campaign manager, and attempting gain political advantage from the tragic massacre in Orlando, Florida. Viewed from a political standpoint, all of these actions seem to be gross blunders, but viewed from a business standpoint, perhaps they are not.

Why is Donald Trump doing things that no intelligent presidential candidate would do. Trump supporters claim that it is just “Trump being Trump.” Are they claiming that being Trump means doing stupid things? Or, could it be that Trump is not that stupid and does not really care about winning the election? Could it be that Donald Trump’s whole campaign is designed to generate invaluable free publicity for the Trump brand? Trump may be a lousy politician, but he is a marketing genus, and he seems to have duped the press into giving his businesses and products loads of free publicity.

A good portion of the money that Donald Trump spends on his campaign ends up back in his own bank account. Federal records indicate that he has channeled almost one-fifth of his campaign expenditures to companies he owns. The Huffington Post claims that Donald Trump’s campaign paid his own enterprises more than a million dollars in May of this year alone. So, his out-of-pocket expenses for financing his own campaign are not as large as they appear at first blush. I suspect that Donald Trump views the  outlays that do not end up in his own pocket as business advertising expenses.

Here are just a few examples of Donald Trump paying himself. Donald Trump’s campaign has paid $420 thousand to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and $4.6 million to his the airline he owns, TAG Air. He has also used campaign speeches to promote such products as Trump vodka (no longer available) and even Trump steaks. He promotes Trump-branded neckties, shirts, and even suits, which are all manufactured in low-wage countries such as China, Mexico, and Bangladesh. That would not be quite as large a sin if he were not constantly preaching against American companies that have their manufacturing done abroad.

Donald Trump fills his campaign “speeches” with promos for Trump-labeled products. He even plans to invite the press covering his campaign to a tour of one of his golf courses in Scotland. He has used his appearances on talk shows to apply pressure on the courts hearing the fraud case against his defunct Trump University.

Win or lose, Donald Trump will emerge from his presidential campaign financially better off than he was when he started thanks to all of the free publicity he has managed to generate for Trump properties and products by leading the press around by the nose.

The NRA’s Puppets Kill four Gun Proposals in Senate

The US Senate blocked four gun proposals this week that had been introduced in the aftermath of the mass killing in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The proposals had the support of some Republican members of the Senate, but not enough to pass any of the proposed legislation. As the reader probably knows, getting almost anything through the Senate requires the approval of a super majority of 60 votes. Why did the measures fail? Because too many Republican members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are either bought off by or intimidated by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which opposes any gun legislation whatsoever.

Now, a new proposal with bipartisan support is before the Senate, although observers believe that the NRA will be able to pull the strings of enough senators to quash it. The new proposal would deny gun sales to terror suspects who are on the no-fly list or who are subject to enhanced security screening at airports in the United States. It would give those on the list the right to challenge their inclusion on the list.

The bill is sponsored by four Republicans, four Democrats and one independent. NRA puppet and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken skeptically about the bill but is expected to allow it to be voted on. The NRA has already issued orders to the senators it controls to quash the bill. It tweeted “More Gun Control Votes Coming! NO NEW GUN CONTROL!

Until now, members of Congress have not paid a penalty for dancing to the NRA’s tune and contrary to the wish of most Americans including the majority of both Republicans and gun owners, who feel that better gun control is needed. On the contrary, the NRA has managed to defeat Republicans who refuse to follow its mandates by turning out massive numbers of the organization’s followers to vote against the disobedient incumbent in Republican primary elections.

It is time for voters to take back control of their government from the NRA and other organizations that manage to subvert the democratic process by exerting tremendous influence on members of Congress. A coalition of LGBT people, family members of people killed in mass shootings, the Brady Campaign, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence along with other organizations is trying to draw attention to those members of Congress who oppose meaningful gun legislation in the hope of defeating them in the polls in November.

How successful they will be is open to question. Many Republican members of Congress are already vulnerable due to the lack of campaign funding attributable to the dysfunction in Donald Trump’s fund-raising organization. However, some voters probably check off the name of the candidate of their political party of choice in the election without knowing or caring if the candidate is an NRA puppet. Perhaps the coalition’s voter education efforts can change that this November.

Should Marijuana be Legalized Nationally in the USA?

First, let me point out that I am not a fan of intoxicating substances, even if I do like an occasional cold beer. My behavior would not change depending upon whether marijuana were legal of illegal. I do not inhale smoke into my lungs, be it smoke from the burning of tobacco, marijuana, or burning incense, and I have no desire to use any substance solely for its chemically stimulating effect. (OK, coffee is an exception.)

I believe that laws that attempt to prohibit behavior that a large segment of the population is going to engage in regardless of its legality are harmful. We should have learned that lesson from the attempt to prohibit alcohol in the USA in the 1920s. Some evidence indicates that during prohibition alcohol consumption actually increased during prohibition. Prohibiting alcohol was just as much of an abject failure as prohibiting marijuana use is today.

Anyone who wants to smoke marijuana can easily obtain it at a reasonable price on the illegal market, and a substantial portion of the population does. Prohibition appears to be having zero impact on marijuana consumption among adults and may actually stimulate it among minors.

Opponents of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana claim that legalization would result in a sharp increase in the use of the drug among teens. Figures from Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal for several years, indicate that is not the case. Marijuana use in Colorado appears to be substantially unchanged since its recreational use was legalized in 2012.

A 2015 survey of Colorado youth found that 21 percent of Colorado youth had used marijuana in the past 30 days, down slightly from 25 percent in 2009 when marijuana was still illegal. Most Colorado high school students did not use marijuana at all before legalization, and they still do not. About 1/4 of Colorado teens used marijuana before legalization, and about 1/5 do so today. That is not a significant decrease, but neither is it an increase.

If legalizing marijuana does not significantly reduce its use, why bother to legalize it? Because the underground marijuana market is a big contributor to more serious crime. Organized crime syndicates make hundreds of millions of dollars from the illegal marijuana market, and various government agencies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year in a fruitless attempt to fight marijuana trafficking.

When marijuana is legalized, it can be controlled and taxed, just as tobacco and alcohol are. The legal market takes the profit out of illegal trafficking and greatly reduces or even completely eliminates the illegal market. Taxes on the sale of marijuana can be used in part of drug education and prevention plans, just as taxes on tobacco have increased awareness of the harm that the product does and have reduced it use. Thanks to educational programs, tobacco use has declined drastically in the United Sates.

Another argument is that marijuana is a gateway drug to the use of even more addictive substances. That may or may not be true, but as legalization does not increase marijuana’s use, that is an irrelevant argument.

I am one of those who has been opposed to legalizing marijuana most of my life. I have voted against legalizing medical marijuana in the past. I now see that I was wrong. If an initiative appears on the Arizona ballot to legalize its recreational use, I will vote for it. I think my vote would be a vote against crime.

Incidentally, I’ve written numerous books, two of which are currently on sale on Amazon as well as other places. Click on the book cover images in the left sidebar for more information.