leadership

Maybe America Should Have Stayed with Britain

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Those colonists loyal to King George III, left America to form my home, Canada.

I have always  admired much about the United States. Although democracy is never perfect, America flourished in their newly created country founded on freedom and liberty. I respected and appreciated America’s commitment to defend democracy and liberty around the world. They are the richest country on the planet.

Even before Trump polarized and focused America and the world’s attention on the strength or weakness of America’s democracy and social values, Trump has attacked the institutions and values that make America great. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the cornerstones of American democracy and liberty.

Trump aside, some have begun to question America’s place as a leader and beacon for truth, fairness, justice, freedom and liberty. I look to Canada, and most of the civilized world to find universal healthcare. The world’s richest country, U.S.A, is without universal healthcare, or even meaningful healthcare while arguing about less.

Here we have political discourse which is generally civil and productive. I haven’t seen that in the United States since before Gingrich became speaker. What has followed is a continual obstructionism by both parties.

In Canada, again like most of the civilized world, we have sane and effective gun laws. Americans have to recognize that the Second Amendment was drafted in the 18th century in a different reality. Countries with more restrictive gun laws have far fewer gun deaths.

I still love America and believe the spirit of the best of the U.S.A, is the envy of the world. I, however, have realized that Americans may have been better off had they remained part of Great Britain as a colony, Dominion, member of the Commonwealth and an independent country. Chances are good that our neighbors to the south would have universal healthcare, sane gun laws, and a degree of civil, respectful and productive political discourse, with a democracy that never sunk this low.

Justin Trudeau, Not Just a Pretty Face

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Canada’s Prime Minister finds himself a focus of those who seem impressed with what they see in shirtless photo ops and on the cover of the Rolling Stone. He was dismissed by his opponents as the privileged son riding on the coattails of his famous father Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. It was said that he lacked his father’s lofty intellect and was not up to the challenge.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only is he up to the task, but he has advantages and talents beyond those of his father.

Pierre Trudeau came to power in the late 1960s. Canada was facing deep division over the cultural and political differences in Québec. Trudeau was the right man for the time. He handled political unrest avoiding civil war. He strengthend the bonds between Québec and English Canada and brought Canada into the modern age by repatriating its constitution.

I had the interesting experience of becoming acquainted with Pierre Trudeau when I was a law student in Ottawa in my early 20s. We were introduced through a close family friend Barney Danson, then Minister of Defence. Bearing the name of one of his favourite professors, Harold Laski, was the basis of striking up a friendship.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a highly intelligent, sophisticated, aloof and elegant man. He burst onto the Canadian scene with the charisma that spawned Trudeau mania where he was treated as a rock star. There was an alluring mystery to the man with whom Canada had a love-hate relationship.

Justin Trudeau comes by his political chops naturally. Yet he is a very different man from his father. He is strongly influenced by his mother Margaret. As a result he is not as aloof as his father. He may come from privilege, but he connects to and truly empathizes with and understands Canadians and their aspirations in a way few other politicians in Canada have been able to do. He understands the inequalities in society and is truly committed to speaking for all Canadians in making life better.

The issues that face society today are very different than the ones his father faced over four decades ago. The greatest issue facing the world today is the inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources.

He will guide Canada through further liberalization building on social and political values that Canadians consider to be at the core of being a Canadian.

I believe the future of this relatively young leader will find its true purpose on the international stage. His father’s name was floated as a possible Secretary-General of the United Nations after retiring from active Canadian politics. He shared the view that some form of world government to more fairly deal with disputes and a fair distribution of the world’s resources. The United Nations is the only entity that has the organization and infrastructure to provide that kind of leadership.

Justin Trudeau’s empathy, understanding, and feeling for the issues of greater equality of quality-of-life and share of resources would make him an excellent choice to take on the challenge. He is widely recognized and respected throughout the world. He is a young man with many missions ahead.

 

 

Why Trump Really Won

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had less to do with the results of the election, than the voters of both parties anger at the governing class.

Voters were tired of the less than transparent conduct by the White House and Congress treating us like the audience of a reality TV show. Create a fantasy world, conflict, tension and keep the audience entertained.

America’s voters were fed up with a directionless government which took care of themselves before they took care of the American people. They were tired of the deadlock in Washington and nothing getting done.

Patients had run out for the governing class. Those who made their lives politics. Public service was seen by the people as a ticket to all the money made available by Citizens United.

The Democratic candidate was a member of the governing class. All of those Republicans who stood on the early stages of the campaign were members of the governing class. Trump was not. He capitalized on that anger and spoke out loud all of the fear and hate of the ugly underbelly of America.

That is what elected Donald Trump.

Impeachment ?

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Impeachment has been on many lips since election night. The specter of impeachment has only been raised and proceeded on three occasions. Congress is 0 and  2 with one default removing presidents in its entire history. No president has been successfully removed. Why? It is not a legal process, it is a political process.

The House impeaches and the Senate tries and acquits or removes the President.

What makes anybody think it’ll be so easy this time. There is no specific definition of the presidency or the scope of it. It’s changed throughout history

What is an impeachable offence? Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Although many have weighed in with their opinions, there is no definition of impeachable offence better than,” it is whatever Congress says it is”.

Likewise there is no definition of presidential. Any president’s behavior is by default, presidential. What is acceptable presidential behavior is again up to Congress and certainly influenced by public opinion.

It is questionable whether the transgressions of Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, constituted treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Johnson was impeached by the House for firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and his policies towards reconstruction of the South. Nixon for obstruction of justice, of an irrelevant break in. While contrary to law, it may not have measured up to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for lying under oath about sexual conduct. Nixon resigned while Johnson and Clinton were impeached by the House and each acquited by one vote in the Senate.

It would seem to me that treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors should relate to the ability to govern and national security. Previous impeachment’s have only served to distract from the business of the American people. A waste of time over conduct which, save and except for the media’s focus, did not impair the president from carrying out his duties, but did impair Congress from doing theirs.

Trumps personal habits and behavior do not fall under my expectations of acceptable presidential behavior. Nonetheless it is so generally harmless, mostly entertaining in a perverse way, and not the main focus of concern. That’s not to say they are not of some concerns. He embarrasses America both at home and in the eyes of the world.

What really concerns me. What is more frightening and dangerous is that right before our very eyes he seems to be bent on unwinding and unraveling or at least viciously attacking, and reversing the social progress we have watched, felt, paid for, and deeply believe in. The GOP has the presidency, Congress, Supreme Court, and a majority of state governors and legislatures. The GOP Congress, for the moment, have restrained him with respect to foreign-policy decisions and costly domestic mistakes. Sometimes deliberately and sometimes by his and their own incompetence.

He has opened a Pandora’s box of the ugly underbelly, lowest common denominator of America. He has created uncertainty and fear in America and throughout the world.

He has disgraced America in the eyes of the world. The view of the international community is that American no longer leads the free world and has as its president an incompetent, embarrassing, disturbed, man-child.

Congress is going to have to face the issue at one time or another. Whether it’s the results of the Russia investigation, the damage he is doing to the reputation of America at home and abroad, or his mental state.

Congress is in their own disarray. In this they can be moved by popular opinion. Once they feel comfortable enough that they have the support of the American people who are fed up with Donald Trump then they will act.

The question is when? If they do it now, they’re afraid of the possible backlash the extent of which is hard to measure. If they don’t do it before the midterms and lose control of Congress, the Democrats will impeach both Trump and Pence, and put the new Democratic Speaker of the House in the White House.

The GOP have to grow a large pair of political balls and remove him from office before he does some damage they can’t mop up.

The Russian Takeover

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We have already lost. Since the fall of communism, America has let down their guard. Communist Russia morphed into the private purview of Vladimir Putin who divided the nation’s wealth amongst his friends.

Citizens United allowed the introduction of large sums of money with little or no accountability as to its source or purpose entering and influence on the American political process.

Russian oligarchs and underworld (perhaps one and the same) have bought their way into the upper echelons of American finance. They have bought assets and loaned money to the greedy in the United States and around the world.

Citizens United also created the best GOP politicians money can buy. I’m sure Russian money whether knowingly or otherwise found its way into the hands of American politicians.

Russia realized that power and influence could be had without firing a shot.

The 2016 election provided a unique opportunity for Vladimir Putin where he allowed himself to be a bit reckless. His interference was palatable. It was the worst kept secret in the history of the world’s intelligence community.

Putin interfered to help Donald Trump because he felt he had some influence based upon evidence of Trump’s financial dealings with Russia and personal behavior. Whether Trump directly and aggressively colluded with Russia or was a willing dupe, his deference to Putin and Russia, clearly speaks to the connection.

The real problem is that Russian influence in the economies and politics of America and the rest of the world, goes far beyond its interference in the American election.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing is more important than removing Donald Trump from the presidency. But that will only be the beginning of dealing with the new Russian reality.

Government is Not a Business

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Donald Trump came to power promising to apply his business experience to running the government. Forget for a moment the realities of his business experience which lack ethics. Consider his modus operandi of using debt and bankruptcy to profit at the expense of the hard-working small businessmen who worked for him. Government is not a business.

The principles of running a business do not apply and do not work in running a government.

In business Trump was the boss. He could do whatever he wanted to do. His only considerations were making money and building his brand. There was little or no room for dissenting opinions. If he didn’t like the job you were doing, you were fired. His only constituency was himself, his family and his businesses.

Government doesn’t have a bottom-line. Healthcare and Education are investments whose success are not measured in dollars and cents. It is measured in the lives that are saved and enhanced. Government is always an exercise in pay it forward. It is measured in the social and scientific advancements which save lives and make lives in the world better.

Government in the free world democracies is a process of balance and compromise. This is not a characteristic often found in running businesses. Government is the process of debating the social and political issues to try and come to a consensus that improves the life of the nation and its citizens.

Government is there to give voice to the disenfranchised. One of the best examples is Lyndon Johnson. His success with Medicaid, his war on poverty, civil rights and voting rights, are proof that government can make a significant difference in people’s lives. if not for Lyndon Johnson it is doubtful that Barack Obama would have become president. Without Lyndon Johnson he may not be able to vote.

Government exists for entirely different reasons than a business. It has different goals, responsibilities, and methods. It success is measured in markedly different ways and with significantly different criteria than a business.

Trump and his administration are clear proof that businessmen are not suited to govern using business principles and methods. It has been a disaster for Trump, America, and the world.

The drama and infighting between Trump and the members of his administration are further proof that you cannot operate as president in the same way you run your own business. The public nature of government is a far cry from the behind closed doors autocratic style which works in business.

Trump clearly does not understand this. American democracy is paying the price. Never in the history of the United States of America has the nation been held in such low esteem by the rest of the world. Not since the Revolutionary war has America faced such a threat to their democracy, as they do today.

Americans have to restore the kind of government that puts the people first. The GOP needs to grow a pair of patriotic balls and take back American democracy.

 

 

 

The Birth of Tyranny

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I was born in the early 50s. World War II seemed like distant history. In studying the 1930s and 40s I wondered how a Hitler or Mussolini could take over a civilized democracy. Now I know.

Putin certainly helped. Donald Trump found fertile ground in the ugly underbelly of America’s lowest common denominator. Those who stayed home in 2016 allowed Trump and Putin to hijack American democracy.

Trump is behaving like a dictator following the Tyrant’s Handbook for Dummies to the letter. He along with the GOP Congress and Scotus seem bent on reversing and destroying the social and political gains of the last 200 years.

In six months, Trump and the GOP have managed to bring America to its lowest point in  history in the eyes of the world ever. America has given up its leadership of the free world. No longer a beacon for democracy and freedom, America has become a bad and scary joke to the rest of the free world.

The GOP must grow a set of patriotic balls and take back America before it is too late.