Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How Obama Trumped Fidel and Changed CUBA's Future Forever

While you weren't watching, President Obama has done something no other president has done -- he put dictators in a situation where they had to answer questions from the press for the first time in their lives!

He did it first to President Xi of China and then again in Cuba when he and Raul Castro made a statement to the press.  When the statements were over, Castro wanted to leave but Obama sandbagged him (good Texas expression) and stated that "both" of them would take a couple questions.

Needless to say Raul Castro was not pleased. It was the first time ever that he or his brother Fidel ever had to answer a question by the press.  Andrea Mitchell posed a question about political prisoners - you can bet he didn't expect that. He almost sounded like Trump saying "What political prisoners? Show me a list and they will be released tomorrow." Yeah, right.

Nevertheless, CUBA will never be the same again.  No longer can Castro blame their crappy economy on the United States instead of Castro's outdated socialist model that has kept Cuba locked into the 1950's, its unpainted buildings and rutted roads being the norm not the exception.

By opening the door to Cuba, Obama has driven a stake through the heart of Fidel's shabby empire of falling down buildings and creaky old classic cars.  There are no Cuban factories making cars or computers or much else. Yes, you can still get a good cigar but that's it.

Fidel just doesn't know it yet. I had to laugh when he said after Obama's trip: "Cubans can do anything."  Apparently they can do "anything" other than build a country whose economy works or allow people to protest without being thrown in jail. A group of protestors that hit the streets as Obama landed were quickly hauled off before the president's drive by. That's old Cuba.

New Cuba will find American tourists coming to town in droves along with new Internet cafes opening up the world to ordinary Cubans. Cubans will, for the first time, see how far behind their country is compared to the world. Only Venezuela, another failed socialist state, is in the same lousy boat as Cuba. However, Venezuela has oil to sell for hard currency, Cuba does not - except  it may find it does have some offshore and will need American technology to get it.

Mexico, Columbia and other countries in this hemisphere shook off dictators in the last two decades and have had good economic growth by allowing people to start businesses and trade with other countries. These countries are far ahead of Cuba.

It's time for the American people to realize that we have a smart, intelligent President who is forcing dictators to answer questions by their people and face a challenge to their anti-freedom ways.  Chinese people still can't get on facebook, but yet they find a way to get the information from the Internet, so they aren't as controlled as the government would like. The same will happen in Cuba now.

By allowing ordinary Cubans to meet ordinary Americans, both sides will discover common interests and new opportunities in tourism and buying and selling goods from farm products to computers.  No longer can Castro claim America and its boycott is the root of their troubles. Cubans will discover that Americans are generous, innovative people, and very likable. And Americans will discover that Cubans are just like us and desire to improve their lives and Cuba has its own assets from baseball players to a cancer vaccine.

It's a win-win. Soon, the Castro's will die and their era will be truly over. Most Cubans alive today will see an entirely new Cuba rise, just as poor Chinese under Mao saw a new China develop after its isolation ended with an historic trip by President Richard Nixon in 1972.  (I was one of the first to go to China after that opening to negotiate sales of American pollution control technology, which I describe in Better Times Ahead April Fool).

Frankly, I'd like to see Cuba myself very soon. I may wait until there are better hotels or visit it while staying nights on a cruise ship. But do it soon because "old" Cuba, just like the old China I saw in 1982, will soon disappear. Better see it while you can and before its a land of McDonald's and KFC's.

Thank you President Obama for having the vision to break us out of  50 years of a failed policy and start a new relationship, based on smart diplomacy instead of  military action.

And thanks for getting the dictators to answer questions to the press on national Cuban TV, so all Cubans can see how we do it in America. That is an example none of them will ever forget, and would not have been possible without this historic trip by the president.

Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD
Author, Better Times Ahead April Fool

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How the Europeans Missed ISIS Targeting Their Cities

This article shows in details how ISIS in Syria has been targeting Europe and how the Europeans kept missing the obvious (denial is more than a river in Egypt is the saying).

It shows why Europe needs to track its citizens going to war zones and returning. The United States already does.

ISIS is not alone. The Taliban in Pakistan raised their ugly head this week to send a suicide bomber to a Christian gathering of women and children on Easter Sunday. Ironically, the bomb killed more Muslims than Christians, since Muslim friends were among the group in Lahore, Pakistan.

Stay tuned....the shooting in the US Capitol turned out to be a mentally ill man, but are they ready if a group armed with assault weapons attacked?  Why do we blow off this when if it was a Muslim man everyone would be having a heart attack now?  

How Fox News Created Frankensteins Trump & Cruz -- and Destroyed the Republican Party

It had to happen. This is how Fox News created Frankensteins Trump & Cruz -- and destroyed the Republican Party.

It all started with the simple idea that Rupert Murdoch had - to create a conservative news outlet with a singular point of view. Murdoch is a billionaire Australian-turned-American who owns news outlets worldwide.  He created the national Fox News channel (not to be confused with local Fox channels that stick to traditional local news and don't run opinion pieces) and hired Roger Ailes, former Nixon aide, to carry it out. They wanted to give conservative viewers a "one stop shop." And they did.

It worked so well that it did something they didn't expect.  It sheltered a large chunk of America from different views based on facts and reality. By doing so it created a Frankenstein monster that is now threatening the very existence of the party it was intended to help.

Eventually, with a singular point of view even Attila the Hun looks too moderate. That became evident when Donald Trump could go on TV and make rude and crude remarks about Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor, and it only boosted his appeal to viewers who share that view. What other candidate can gain by degrading women?

As a result the two leading presidential candidates are the most extreme ever seen in a campaign -- candidates who actually encourage violence at campaign rallies against protestors, candidates vowing to bar an entire religion from entering the U.S., pledging to kill even the families of terrorists, break international laws and turn sand into nuclear "glass." When have we had a presidential candidate "win" by calling Hispanics "rapists" and "murderers" and then comparing sexual body parts and wives?  It's worse than a Rotten Tomatoes movie, but its all too real, and scary for our future as a rational democracy. 

What went wrong? 

"Fair and balanced" fell by the wayside. Fox viewers were trapped in an alternate universe where the only way to "shine" was to be more extreme than the other guy. Party primaries pushed candidates to the extremes of rationality to the point of absurdity, bringing out candidates in 2012 who had to go on TV to claim she wasn't a "witch" and men who said there was "legitimate rape." We didn't think it could get worse than that. But it did in 2016.

We had one candidate, Marco Rubio, accusing the president of deliberate sabotage of America's economy, ignoring the fact that the GOP Congress vetoed every jobs bill and infrastructure project President Obama proposed that would have produced millions of jobs for the very same semi-skilled people anxious about their jobs today who support Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz.  Ironically, they are voting for the same people who created the situation they are unhappy about. To this day no GOP candidate even wants to raise minimum wages that would benefit blue collar workers more than anyone.

But on Fox News, the problem is not the failure of Congress to act, despite members cared less about the economy than they did in scoring political victories by deliberately slowing down job growth. GOP leader Mitch McConnell said on day one of the Obama presidency they wanted a one term president by God!  The people wanted JOBS.  Those two goals are opposite, so the GOP left our infrastructure in tatters, lead pipes in Flint, 58,00 bridges rusting into collapse, no job retaining or education investment to fill the 3 million available high tech jobs that many blue collar Americans don't have the skills to fill.

Yet Fox & Friends blamed the president.

Fox News even ignored the fact that the GOP made shipping jobs overseas a tax deduction! They even made it possible for a company to send ten employees out of 20,000 based on places like Houston to another country, then declare they weren't a U.S. company in order to stop paying a fair share of taxes, making our deficit worse!

Did Fox News explain this to its viewers? No....

The Great Recession of 2008 began this spiral down in the GOP when the economy collapsed in late 2008 in the final days of the George W. Bush administration. Years of unpaid for tax cuts and unpaid for wars, trillions in borrowing and an out-of-control speculation on Wall Street and "anything goes" mortgage financing finally collapsed the economy.

Millions of the same blue collar workers who today are "mad as hell and won't take it anymore" are supporting the same republican party that offshored their jobs in the Bush administration and even provided tax deductions for doing so!  They are the same ones who fight against raising a feeble minimum wage that would help those struggling on the bottom of our economy who feel left out in today's economy.

So, Fox News, it was YOU that created this monster that tore open Pandora's Box to unloose the beasts like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who want to turn the world into nuclear glass as they debate their wives and body parts on the world stage.  It's scaring the hell out of Americans and the world alike.

Take your O'Reilly's and Hannity's and Fox & Friends and look into the mirror Fox. You have created an ugly image of our beautiful country that is so much better than the twisted narrow world view your candidates represent.  Such extremism will destroy your party that is almost unrecognizable from fascism and Europe's right wing nationalism.  

When you get back to promoting decency and more moderate presidents and candidates such as George HW Bush, then you will deserve to use the slogan "fair and balanced."  We don't need a Pravda for the GOP; we aren't Russian oligarchy.

Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD, Author
Better Times Ahead April Fool
"Agenda for American Greatness" - America's solution (free, at the link)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mentality of ISIS and European/American Right Wing Nationalists - SAME. Violence & Fear

As I was watching the TV scenes of right wing Belgium nationalists -- who disrupted the Brussels memorial today -- it struck me. How similar it looked to a Donald Trump rally!

I am increasingly see similarities between the narrow ISIS mentality and right wing fascism. Each always has the same answer to disagreements:  resort to hate and violence. 

Consider this.  BOTH groups exclude everyone beyond their small group and mentality as "acceptable." I miss the old GOP that used to hate people from different country clubs. The hate has spread under the GOP of Cruz and Trump to nearly EVERYBODY--women, Hispanics, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, poor people, not to mention a black president who turned around the worst economy in over 70 years that he inherited. 

Another similarity.   Women are really disrespected by both ISIS and Trump.

Trump has called women "fat pigs" (WTF?); Mexicans are all "rapists" and only "some" (he assumes) are "good" people. (WTF is wrong with this guy?). He even mocked a disabled reporter, mimicking how he waves his hands (really a SICK thing to do Trump). 

It gets worse. The only other choice for the GOP nomination is a guy so hated by his cohorts in the U.S. Senate that Lindsay Graham once said "If someone shot Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate and the jury was the U.S. Senate you would NOT get a conviction." 

Whoa!   That tells you how his fellow Republicans feel about Ted in the Senate. (Gov. Kasich is out of the game mathematically, needing over 100% of the reminder of the delegates to get a majority.)   

Cruz pretends to be religious while stabbing his "friend" Ben Carson in the back by claiming he was leaving the race right before a big state vote. Et Tu Brute?  This doesn't even take into account he cost us $24 billion shutting down the government over the "horrors" of people getting healthcare under Obamacare. (I met a lady on a flight who worked for the government at that time and they still had to go to work despite not being paid. That was bad enough but even lab research had to be destroyed because funding wasn't in play. It was nuts. Yet Congress reps like Cruz still got their checks during that shutdown.)

Ted Cruz "let's put police following all the Muslims" yet fails to see the irony that Hitler did that to Jews--guilty solely because of  religion.

 These men running for president debase what type of person should be considered "presidential."

The European right wing works just like Trump and Cruz. They didn't care that their acts disrespected fellow Belgians who had brought candles and flowers to the square  to quietly remember those killed. It was rude, loud and hateful.  They cared not about anyone beyond their small circle. That's the same problem with ISIS. They hate even other Muslims who are not like them.

I am done rewarding twits with poor manners and bad behavior. I am done with the indiscriminate killing by BOTH sides, be it Islamic radicals or right wing radicals. Don't forget American Tim McVeigh killed more Americans (168) in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah federal building than anyone other than the 911 attacks.

I am so done with crude behavior by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, the dirty tricks and promotion of violence and hate. That is not the just, law abiding America our founding fathers envisioned. That is not genuine reasoned, adult solutions for America. These men will make things worse, not better.

Neither Trump nor Cruz deserve a single vote of a true American. They have none of the values of our founding fathers, who would be horrified that candidates for president debate about their penis sizes and gossip about each others wife, while hating on vast majorities of good Americans; while offering no rational solutions that would make America No. 1.

We can do much better. For America's sake, we better.

Michael Fjetland
Author, Agenda for American Greatness

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Brussels Attack: Presidential Candidates - It's an ISIS Trap! DON'T Fall for it. Too late!

The attack on Brussels today by ISIS is meant as a trap that some of our presidential candidates are falling into, exactly what ISIS wants! Care to guess who? Here is why its important to our own future security -- they could make matters much worse just by their tone and comments.

I was a 9/11 terrorism analyst. I have walked the streets of Brussels more than once, including on a mission involving international criminal elements working a scam between Holland and Belgium--a short train ride from one another.  Paris and Brussels are also a short hop from each other--190 miles, like going from Houston to Dallas. Yet unlike Houston and Dallas, there is a border in between them, with different legal systems, intelligence systems, languages and cultures that complicate dealing with global gangsters and terrorists.

The attack by ISIS on Brussels is part of a plot.  If they can get western leaders and people condemning ALL of Islam for the attacks, they know it will make their recruiting easier.  Already, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have fallen into the Briar patch prepared by ISIS -- Cruz made a speech that basically condemned an entire religion of 1.6 billion for the sins of less than 30,000 ISIS members operating out of Syria/Iraq. Then he wanted to have police surround their neighborhoods,  like the Warsaw Ghetto tactics of Hitler against Jews. You would never know from listening to these men  that the problem involves less than 0.1% of the entire world Muslim population!  Lying to Americans is not presidential.

Here is the root problem.  This bombing was in the heart of the city near both the NATO and the European Union headquarters, both of which are based in Brussels, Belgium.  Think of Belgium like it was when before the civil war it was the north and south combined in one country at war with itself.  Part of Belgium speaks Flemish; another French  (if you speak French you don't understand Flemish and vice versa). On top of that toss tons of Arab refugees who speak neither Flemish nor French and you can see a problem developing.

Belgium (and France, etc.) has been packing refugee Muslims who speak mainly Arabic into small enclaves were they isolate and don't become a part of greater Belgium--unlike here in the USA where we live next door to each other and have BBQ together at the rodeo, school events, etc.

Brussels police is organized like Ferguson Missouri was --the city has 9 different police departments covering different areas who don't coordinate very well. European countries are still not sharing intelligence like they should.  Despite the Belgium police just grabbing the missing Paris attacker, they missed the 2 guys who were on video at the airport wearing one glove and pushing a cart of baggage with a bomb inside to blow up people in the airport and subway in Brussels.

this brings us back to the USA and Apple and encryption that is plaguing the San Bernardino shooting investigation.  In Europe they probably missed these guys in part because of encryption. And in part because they have been flooded with returning jihadi's trained in Syria and no one knows who they are--too many to count and follow around all day with the resource they have (hint: STOP letting them come back into the country!)

Should Americans be worried?  Not so much. The United States is a hard country to get to and has not sent very many young men to Syria to fight - estimated to be less than 100-200. That compares to 30,000 in Syria, thousands of which are from Europe. However, we will need to change our visa waiver program for Belgium passports, since it would be a possible way for a jihadi to come to the U.S. via a Belgium passport for which a U.S. visa is not required versus, say, a person coming from Saudi Arabia or Egypt).

The biggest damage though is not the destruction by the terrorists; the biggest damage is caused by our own reaction to it. Terrorists can bomb a train station but they cannot bring down a nation of 350 million people with the largest economy. Only we ourselves can do that by hiding under our beds or overreacting against an entire religion. Only we can do that by stoking the hate as intended by ISIS.

Mr. Trump and Cruz have disqualified themselves to be president. How? By deliberating taking the ISIS bait and (1) flaming the flames of hate towards other groups  (particularly Mr. Trump who has expressed hostility towards a series of groups from women to blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, his opponents, the press -- and if the girl scouts aren't nice to him, he'll call them names too), and (2) by casting the entire Muslim faith as terrorists, requiring banishment of ALL Muslims from entering our country. Since Tim McVeigh, a white guy who blew up the Murrah federal building and killed 168 require that we condemn ALL white guys who hate the government and ban them from being here?

In World War II, it was the members of the Jewish faith who were being cast as the root of all Germany's ills.  Changing the name of the religion does not make this stereotyping an entire class any less odious and un-American. 

We have to work with Europeans on intelligence. And they need to build a super-European counter-terrorism task force that has all intelligence from all countries available at a central location so that terrorists moving from one country to another do not escape law enforcement simply by "getting out of dodge."  The United States under Obama has been ready, willing and able to do so but it will take more action by the 28 European nations presently going in 28 direction to get moving into the same direction and coordinate.  Trump, on the other hand, would pull out of NATO and leave them floundering. That only invites greater blow back for the USA.

Terrorism will always be easy in a world awash with weapons and leadership fanning the flames of sectarian hate. Preventing it will take global cooperation and the assistance of Muslims who know what is happening in their community.  It will take getting the 50% unemployed youth in these areas JOBS so they have HOPE for the future. Alienating them will only make matters worse without end.

Things can change. Recently it was announced that a decades long civil war in Colombia is drawing to a close. The IRA bombings of the past were resolved with diplomacy and return to waging war at the ballot box instead of with bombs on the streets.  The civil war in Rwanda that killed 500,000 is now a thing of the past.

Change can happen but it takes work, like everything else in this life. The last thing we need are our leaders fanning the flames of hate of an entire group because that is exactly what this bombing by ISIS what meant to create.

Michael Fjetland, Terrorism Analyst/Author
Better Times Ahead April Fool

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Trump's Nomination Will Split GOP Into 2 Minority Parties - Neo-Fascist and Establishment. Dems WIN

If Trump gets the GOP nomination some analysts think it will cause the Republican party to split and we we will end up with 3 parties: 

(1) the Democratic Party 
(2) the Trump party, a neo-fascist personality cult, and 
(3) what's left of the GOP establishment (and the last Republicans moderate)....

This is what happens when a politician replaces the usual talking point "dog whistles" -- coded racist comments said in such a way only certain people hear it -- with direct appeals to racism, violence and anger -- and directs it at minority groups. Trump himself as said on the stage: "I'd like to punch that person" and has encouraged his follows to get physical against others, inciting the violence that he denies responsibility for after creating the bizarre atmosphere of a Smackdown Wrestling match.
Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's downfall; stoking German insecurities and fear into autocratic power for one strongman. Trump blames minorities and Muslims - same thing.

It wasn't true then and not true now that Jews, Muslims or minorities are responsible for a poor white guy with no skills and no education who can't get a job or find enough unskilled work to do.
You can't convince me Trump is anything other than another egomaniac autocrat who is willing to cross presidential red-lines by describing his private parts and announcing that people like Romney would "drop to their knees" to get the Donald's blessing if he demanded it.  Creepy.  

Trump's supporters anger is misdirected -- it should be aimed at this GOP Congress which has made sure from the day Obama took office that they were going to sabotage the normal operation of government ("to make Obama a one term president") and as part of that plan they weren't going to fund the normal bipartisan infrastructure jobs replacing pipes and replacing bridges that would give those guys a job. 

One example: The giant wind turbines being installed across America are being manufactured in EUROPE and CHINA. 

Why? Because CONGRESS refused to extend tax credits more than 1 year at a time during the past 7 years of Obama's term, until it finally passed a 5 year bill recently. Too little too late. Therefore, companies that could have been making turbines here could NOT because you can't build a factory and have it pay for itself in 1 year. Companies need the stability of a 5 year bill to make the substantial investment in a plant here to create jobs here. 

As a result and because of the GOP Congress American companies HAD to have the turbines made in foreign plants overseas, KILLING JOBS here. So, it has been the GOP as the JOB KILLER, NOT the President. 
In the meantime, Republicans Boehner and McConnell and Cornyn and Cruz were busy giving the high tech jobs and tax breaks to workers overseas who have those high tech skills, so they ship overseas with full tax benefits. (How companies and the 1% play fast and loose with special tax breaks globally, so they can hide TRILLIONS offshore, is detailed in "Agenda for American Greatness").

Trump's nomination, if it happens, will be the death of the GOP as a single party. 
The leftover GOP will then be one of two minority parties consisting of Trump and Tea party folks following him as a personality cult in one (the new version of the 1800's "Know Nothing Party") and the "establishment" types in the other. 

This is serious for yet another reason: Trump's trade war actions would cause a global economic disaster, just as Smoot Hawley tariff bill made the Great Depression go global in the 30's!  So those unskilled whites who think he would "help" them will find out he makes it worse, and that's before he has the media and all protestors arrested if not thrown on the ground for asking a question.
That will leave the Democratic Party as the one remaining dominant party and Hillary as the winner in 2016,  assuming it does not lose its mind and nominate Bernie Sanders who is as "pie in the sky" on the left as Trump is on the right.
This of course assumes that Bernie does not run a third party race after losing. If that happens then we enter into uncharted territory where, like the notations on the ancient sea maps, "Here be Dragons."  It will cause political chaos like never seen in the United States.

Stay away from the Dragons. (P.S. Russia and China are licking their chops at the prospect).

Michael Fjetland, Author
Better Times Ahead April Fool
Looking Back on the Future of America....
"Agenda for American Greatness"