Rethinking America – 2020 and the Future
Note: we do also use our regular blog area for specific articles and commentary, just check archives.
May 8th, 2022
We have posted a number of articles over the past couple of years describing descriptive aspects of the Trump takeover of the Republican party and the factors that helped it grow. Trump had his chance to build a constructive legacy and failed to be reelected. Now he is looking to try again. But 4 years is a long time in political circles, time that has allowed other groups including what I would call “CORE Republicans” to find common purpose. Democrats for the same reason are figuring out their message. Our post today in the blog section, “MAGA REPUBLICANS” is from an article on CNN today.
March 28, 2022
Who has the edge for 2022
The strange theme that seems to be central to the 2022 election, the theme that Republicans are going to make big gains in that election, seems to me to be ignoring what is going on at ground level. Things are changing in a big way, the populous is realizing how important Democracy is, and how reckless the ultra-conservative push to Authoritarianism has been.
A diverse set of circumstances have changed how Americans see themselves and their country. Covid, the January 6th insurrection, Ukraine, and Increasing Climate Change are bringing the big picture into focus.
The result is a movement towards solid civil society that puts the focus forward for positive direction.
The disaffected middle ground will move towards the policies and programs that are based on a practical approach to getting the job done.
This middle ground will be the area where people energy is going to concentrate in coming years. It will be made up of the disaffected, the so called conservative liberals and liberal conservatives. This is a group that will grow its own leadership and make big changes to which ever party, the current Democrat or current Republican it becomes a part.
It will be a formative moment to see how liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans adjust to this new reality. The party that welcomes this group, a group which may be as big as the current core Republican and Democratic Parties, and adjusts to a new normal will be central to the direction for America in the coming decades.
I am hoping that we are talking here about the true center ground, the true Progressives who fight for strong and sustainable governance. A government devoted to action and equality rather than grieving over past inequities. In my opinion they are the greatest hope for a New America.
March 12, 2022
The Money Fight
We have a fight where two leaders are fighting from their hearts, Zelenskey fighting “to Be” and Putin “to be great again” and we are bringing to the fight what the western world cherishes, “money” , Negative money towards Putin, positive dribbles to Zelenskey. A sad statement of what the western world sees as important. We know Putin is wrong in every sense, morally and more, but where are the leaders, other than Zelensky, that will fight the moral high ground?
Where are the western leaders who will fight for liberty and democracy?
With all the inroads of social media in the past 10 years the average citizen of the world has a fairly enlightened view of things, they know right from wron.. It is a few demented leaders that the world has to fear. The good leaders will need to be those who are not cowed by the bad guys and are motivated by their hearts, and not money.
Marcdh 8, 2022
Hats off to Biden. Long term readers know that I am not a Biden fan. He is too much of an old line Democrat. But I will say that his cautious approach seems to be working on the Ukranian issue. I like a more aggressive posture, but Biden has pulled the whole western world together in a fight to support Democracy in a way that has never been accomplished in these modern times. Rather interesting when we compare the results Biden is getting versus Bush and Cheney’s attempt to bring Democracy to Iraq.
March 6, 2022
Is this the Current World Message to Dictators ?
“If you have nuclear you can do whatever you want.”
This is what is reflected in today’s world where the most powerful country in the world feels it cannot act to stop invasion and mass destruction and execution of a countries people. Maybe it’s time for some outside the box thinking on Global Security.
One approach would be to institute a global populous stance of operation within the UN. Make it truly the driving force of the worlds people. The UN could be run using a 2/3 majority rule on all decisions. A Charter that includes all nations, where each country can vote in a way that reflects the total global population will. No Security Council with veto power. All countries could join. Votes on resolutions could be based on a vote value approach that calculates a country vote value by some formula of population, land mass, and GDP.
Then there could be a UN Strike Force that would remove any leader who violates UN rules and receives a NO vote by the body, and then refuses to abide by such ruling.
Such an approach as stated above could apply rulings to even the all powerful US and China. No doubt this is so far outside the box that the world would rather continue the approach of violence with no solutions.
March 1, 2022
Is this the time where America does some deep insight work. Why do we as a country now feel that are our hands are tied when cruel dictators are taking advantage of a populations either internally or through invasion. Is it because we base our approach on learning things based on prior strategic mistakes? Mistakes like Viet Nam, where faulty premises were key, Iraq where a brutal dictator was wreaking havoc, or Afghanistan, where Bin Laden was hiding, both situations where we overstayed after the core problem was solved. Now we face another core problem, it is not Russia or the Russian people, it is Russian leadership.
February 25, 2022
A short comment here, the last day of an eventful week. Of course, the big question is what happens in Ukraine. In doing a bit of research on the subject, I have come to the realization that the biggest battle is here at home, does the US have the willingness to fight for Democracy, or does Trump’s Authoritarian influence move beyond the Republican base. The US and NATO have stated that they will not overtly help Ukraine fight the authoritarian Putin, that would appear to me as a signal that all is not well here at home.
February 24, 2022
An Emergency NATO Membership Meeting is called for…
My view is that the four reasons that Ukraine’s membership in NATO has been held back have been negated by Putin’s moves tonight. It is time for an emergency NATO meeting, sanctions will not get the job done quickly enough to save Ukraine. Please take a moment to review this excellent piece from the NYT.
NATO Won’t Let Ukraine Join Soon. Here’s Why.
Ukraine, with Russian troops on its borders, is pressing for membership. But President Biden and European leaders are not ready for that step.
Jan. 13, 2022
WASHINGTON — The tense talks this week among the United States, Russia and European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have made one thing clear: While the Biden administration insists it will not allow Moscow to quash Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO, it has no immediate plans to help bring the former Soviet republic into the alliance.
If Ukraine were a NATO member, the alliance would be obligated to defend it against Russia and other adversaries. U.S. officials say they will not appease President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia by undermining a policy enshrined in NATO’s original 1949 treaty that grants any European nation the right to ask to join.
“Together, the United States and our NATO allies made clear we will not slam the door shut on NATO’s open door policy — a policy that has always been central to the NATO alliance,” Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, said on Wednesday.
But France and Germany have in the past opposed Ukraine’s inclusion, and other European members are wary — a deal breaker for an alliance that grants membership only by unanimous consent. American and Russian leaders know this. With Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border, some current and former American and European officials say Mr. Putin might just be raising the NATO issue as a pretext for an invasion.
Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has suggested that Mr. Putin is trying to distract from more urgent matters. “Everybody’s talking about NATO expansion,” Mr. McFaul said on a podcast by the Center for a New American Security that was released on Tuesday. “Suddenly, we’re debating this issue that wasn’t even an issue. That’s a great advantage to him.”
Like European leaders, President Biden remains uninterested in Ukrainian membership in NATO. Here are four reasons.
- Biden has grown skeptical of expanding U.S. military commitments.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mr. Biden successfully urged NATO to accept Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as member states in the late 1990s. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, Mr. Biden said that turning the former Cold War adversaries into allies would mark the “beginning of another 50 years of peace” for Europe. He added that the move would right a “historical injustice” perpetrated by Stalin.
But over the course of two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, experts said, Mr. Biden’s fervor for expanding NATO cooled considerably. In 2004, seven Eastern European countries joined the alliance, and in 2008, President George W. Bush pushed NATO to issue a declaration that Ukraine and Georgia would become members in the future despite reservations from U.S. intelligence agencies. However, the alliance has never offered either country a formal action plan to join, a necessary step for them to do so.
As recently as June, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told senators that “we support Ukraine membership in NATO.” Mr. Biden, however, has been far more circumspect in his public comments and “has soft-pedaled talk of extending NATO membership to Ukraine,” two foreign policy scholars, Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim, wrote in September in Foreign Affairs.
In 2014, as vice president, Mr. Biden told officials in Ukraine during a visit there that any U.S. military support would be small, if given at all, according to a biography of Mr. Biden by Evan Osnos, a New Yorker writer who was on the trip. Russia had just invaded and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, and Ukrainian officials were unhappy with Mr. Biden’s message.
“We no longer think in Cold War terms,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Osnos, adding that “there is nothing that Putin can do militarily to fundamentally alter American interests.”
Last June, Mr. Biden told journalists at NATO headquarters in Brussels that “school is out on that question” when asked whether Ukraine could join the alliance.
2. Biden wants Ukraine to improve its political and legal systems.
To meet one of the three main criteria for entry into NATO, a European nation must demonstrate a commitment to democracy, individual liberty and support for the rule of law. While Ukrainian leaders say they have met that threshold, some American and European officials argue otherwise.
In a 2020 analysis, Transparency International, an anticorruption watchdog, ranked Ukraine 117th out of 180 countries on its corruption index, lower than any NATO nation.
Officials in European nations with stronger liberal governance — notably in Sweden and Finland — have also floated the possibility of joining NATO, despite years of determined nonalignment. That is a discussion “we are ready to do,” Victoria J. Nuland, the State Department’s under secretary for political affairs, told journalists on Tuesday. “Obviously, they are longtime, established, stable democracies.”
She signaled that might not be the case with Ukraine. “That conversation would be slightly different than it is with countries that are making the transition to democratic systems and dealing with intensive problems of corruption and economic reform and democratic stability, etc.,” Ms. Nuland said.
Her comments echoed those of Mr. Biden on his 2014 visit to Ukraine. “To be very blunt about it, and this is a delicate thing to say to a group of leaders in their house of parliament, but you have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now,” Mr. Biden told Ukrainian officials then.
Some Western officials also question whether Ukraine could meet a second set of criteria: contributing to the collective defense of NATO nations. But Ukraine sent troops to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“There are steps that Ukraine needs to take,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in September after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with Mr. Biden in the Oval Office. “They’re very familiar with these: efforts to advance rule of law reforms, modernize its defense sector and expand economic growth.”
3. NATO wants to avoid greater Russian hostility.
After annexing Crimea, Mr. Putin invaded eastern Ukraine and gave military aid to a separatist insurgency there. He did something similar in Georgia in 2008. The message has been clear: If these two nations join NATO, the United States and European countries will have to grapple directly with ongoing Russian-fueled conflicts.
Russia could also impose other costs on Europe, such as withholding gas exports. And Germany and many other NATO nations prefer to choose their battles with Russia, given its proximity and Mr. Putin’s aggressive nature. They know he and other Russian officials are obsessed with Ukraine.
Given all that, Ukraine would almost certainly be unable to meet the third main criterion to join NATO: approval from all 30 members.
“The principal objection would be: Does such a move actually contribute to the stability in Europe, or would it contribute to destabilization?” said Douglas E. Lute, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO. “I think it’s indisputable there wouldn’t be consensus among the 30 members, even though all allies agree that Ukraine has the right to aspire to become a NATO member.”
Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said that even in the 1990s, when NATO enlargement was first proposed, many prominent American strategists opposed it for this reason. “That was the concern all along — it wouldn’t be easy to do this in a way that wouldn’t threaten Russia,” he said.
4. Ukrainian leaders have waffled on NATO membership.
Ukrainian leaders have not always pushed hard to join NATO, and that has shaped the American approach.
Former President Viktor Yushchenko wanted entry into the alliance, but Ukrainians became more reluctant after Russia invaded Georgia. His successor, Viktor Yanukovych, dropped any drive for membership and promoted closer ties with Russia, even agreeing to allow Moscow to continue leasing a Black Sea naval port in Crimea.
During the Obama administration, American officials encouraged Ukraine to sign a formal association agreement with the European Union rather than try to join NATO. Mr. Putin pressured Mr. Yanukovych to reject the agreement, which led to the Euromaidan protests in 2013 that eventually ousted Mr. Yanukovych.
“A lot of the U.S. policy has been quite reactive due to circumstances,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia expert at the Brookings Institution who was a senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council under President Donald J. Trump. “It has also changed due to changes in Ukraine itself toward this.”
“By now, you’ve got much more sentiment in Ukraine for joining NATO,” she added.
Mr. Zelensky has pressed Mr. Biden repeatedly on membership, including during his visit to the White House in September. “I would like to discuss with President Biden here his vision, his government’s vision of Ukraine’s chances to join NATO and the time frame for this accession, if it is possible,” he said as he sat next to Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden blew past those comments without responding.
The writers of this NYT article:
Edward Wong is a diplomatic and international correspondent who has reported for The Times for more than 20 years, 13 from Iraq and China. He received a Livingston Award and was on a team of Pulitzer Prize finalists for Iraq War coverage. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton. @ewong
Lara Jakes is a diplomatic correspondent based in the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Over the past two decades, Ms. Jakes has reported and edited from more than 40 countries and covered war and sectarian fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the West Bank and Northern Ireland. @jakesNYT
A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 14, 2022, Section A, Page 6 of the New York edition with the headline: Why the Members of NATO Won’t Let Ukraine Join Anytime Soon.
end of post.
- February 6, 2022,
There is a path to a sure victory for the Democrats in 2022.
It involves the 15 percent of the population that identifies as Republican yet dislike Trump and what he portrays for the country. It will take the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party, yes, the Practical Progressive wing, not the elite liberal wing to get the job done, but it can be done. As a Republican for 40 years prior to 2003, I know the type of people who could provide the edge for a Democratic win. We can do it.
February 3, 2022
In the regular blog today, we have posted an article by Samuel Goldman on a topic that I believe the Progressive movement needs to address. And that is the Return to Libertarianism by some on the right.
January 20, 2022
Been waiting for a year to get back involved, made a post to our blog today, but you can read it hear today.
I have held my tongue waiting for the first year of the Biden initiative to go into the record books, a lot has happened but so much remains to be done.
My first comment…
Biden is getting old, just a year older than me. I think he needs to sit back and assume the position of a wise advisor, ie. put some younger high energy people out front on the initiatives. And that person is not Harris.
I think history will show that the biggest initiative for his Administration will no doubt be Climate Change. It will not be all the cleanup issues that carried over from the disruptive Trump reign. The COVID response has been strong and the initial money raise for the stimulus package was good. On the other hand, I believe there has been a lot of over-reach with the initial Build Back Better and Voting Rights Bill. I think the filibuster should be left alone; it will only come back to bite you if at some time in the future the Republicans get in a small majority situation. It you want to go big, then work on getting more Democrats elected in 2022 and 2024.
Build Back Better needs to be enacted. But first, it needs to be explained and most importantly it needs to be financed by rescinding the Trump Tax Cuts. This program has to be paid for by increasing government revenue, no additional debt can be added in this inflationary environment.
There was and is a need for all of these programs, but there needs to be more energy and more compromise. On voting, maybe the most important thing would be to make Election Day a National Holiday, the other stuff would be nice but are deeply scary for Republicans, because if everyone voted, Republicans would lose. So, work on getting out the vote.
A change of attitude for the Democrats should have a high priority. All this talk of losing their majorities in 2022 should stop. I will say that I have the luxury of having been a Republican for almost 40 years, 1964 to 2003. I see how Republicans get things done. They are not like Democrats who are always crying about something. And while I love Rachel Maddow’s investigative qualities, she and the other MSNBC crowd are too much, a bunch of cry-babies. It is time they devoted themselves to efforts for voter registration and positive Program agendas. Give airtime to experts on Climate Change, exciting people like Jeremy Rifkin and others, not some bureaucrat.
The Democratic Pary needs a leader, Biden, sadly, is not a visionary one, and Jamie Harrison for sure is not one. I became a Democrat based on the energy and ideas of Howard Dean. His 50-state initiative got things going, Obama came along, and a new world was built. Now someone exciting needs to move to the top and keep it going. I have some ideas.
November 3, 2021
It has been almost 300 days since the inauguration and I have kept quiet. While I was not a Biden supporter, I did want him to have a chance to succeed. Today, after the Virginia and New Jersey Governor elections, and final results not confirmed yet, in any case the Democrat candidates did not perform. Am I surprised, not really, the 2020 congressional election was too close and the electorate too partisan for all the happy talk of working together.
So this morning I am posting an article by the Intelligencer which speaks to the point and I am including my comments underlined in the body of their article.
We will become more active as we move forward into the 2022 elections setup. We will have a lot to say. Many of these comments will be added in the “2022 Progressive Factor” section.
January 8, 2021 The much talked about disconnect.
Here is a quick take on the disconnect between the state of the country and the stock market.
To me the answer is real easy. No one believes the core message that Democrats have put forth.
- No one believes that the Democrats are going to change anything other than spend more money. This after we have seen the Republicans run up huge deficits, papering over their failures by using taxpayer money to save votes. A good example; the tariff failure and the billions given to farmers to make up the difference.
- No one believes that in the first 100 days that anything is going to be done about the core Inequality issue.
- No one believes that in the first 100 days that legislation is going to be passed to raise corporate and capital gains taxes as a first step to Fiscal sanity.
- No one believes that in the first 100 days legislation is going to be presented to break up monopolies.
- No one believes that in the first 100 days the Treasury Department will curtail support for zombie company bond financing.
- No one believes that Janet Yellen will really fight for financial balance.
- No one believes that stock buybacks will be curtailed until the FED stops buying bonds and starts selling down its bond portfolio.
January 3, 2021
A few thoughts this evening as we move into the Future, the hopefully wonderful world of 2021.
The battle going forward will circle around the factors that have built and perpetuate the inequality that so many Americans feel. Basically we live in a world that governments through their central banks have built. The US is not the only country that is affected, but we were the first and are worst at this moment.
What has rolled out is that the top third of the population do not have to endure a market based economic cycle, they through their influence, have governments intervene and create a no-consequence artificial cycle.
The bottom two thirds of the population still have to live in a real consequence market based economic cycle.
And to top it all off, most politicians are part of the elite top third, and use their power to send crumbs down to the people involved in the real world whenever the top third have a hiccup.
Is it any wonder that the people are angry?
After the inauguration we will get moving on the 2022 Progressive Factor section.
December 3 2020
We are adding a new section to this site today and will be building it over the coming months.
It is titled “The 2022 Progressive Factor” and can be entered through the home page.
In this section we will insert a number of articles that look at what Democrats, or maybe not Democrats, maybe a new party, will need to analyze in order to bring rural and blue collar workers interests into a new political direction for 2022. We see that Democrats had to put together a coalition package to beat Trump Republicans, they got it done, but not by the margins they expected or will need in 2022 elections.
Thanksgiving Day 2020
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and in my years on this earth I don’t think I have ever seen such a gap between the haves and have nots and the public policy that is unwilling to address that gap. A substantial number of Americans are not going to have a festive holiday. Covid and unemployment are real.
The coming end to the Trump administration and the switch to a Biden Presidency will hopefully provide a quantum change in policy, a change that most Americans don’t perceive. Main Street will replace Wall Street. We all know that stock indexes don’t really provide a picture of the state of our country. Price / earnings multiples are in the stratosphere and the markets are still clinging to the old normal, and why would they not, that is what the bully pulpit is proclaiming. There has been no effort to redeploy workers to new areas that the New Normal will require.
Hopefully that redeployment will happen. It will be a shock to Wall Street as they will find dwindling support for their dreams, reality will set in for Main Street. This will not be an easy switch, too much is leveraged in the happy talk conversation, inventories and orders are bulging as the much hoped for return to the old normal are in place.
To be fair, Trump is not totally to blame, and Biden will not be the total cure, too many old ideas, lack of outside the boxers, old school elitist’s appear to be populating the new administration. But that probably had to happen to bridge the gap from the magnitude of the destruction of Main Street since the Supply Sider, Trickle Downers, got control in the early 1980’s. Trump was just the cherry on the top of that Wall Street ice cream sundae.
Enjoy your pumpkin pie tomorrow.
Election Day 2020
It is not about Trump. Today we have added a blog post to our Digging Deeper-Politics Section that we think has some important insights. See “It is Not About Trump”.
Update of September 26, 2020
The Supreme Court Moment
We hear much today about the replacement of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative female justice and what that will mean.
Are those selection concerns real?
So I did a google search asking the question, “have Supreme Court picks always been based around cultural values rather than judicial expertise ?”
And I was surprised to get a lengthy set of abstracts on the issue, I know reading those helped me and maybe you also to see the bigger picture.
Politically we know the coming judicial nomination by Trump will have a short term effect on things. I think taking a deep breath and looking at how this unfolded will allow some perspective for the longer term.
Trump was voted in by a backlash against elites, whether measured by education, wealth, or scientific knowledge. That has not changed with his followers in 4 years as we go into an election in November.
What has changed is the overwhelming number of people who now understand this and will I believe install Democrats in the Whitehouse, and a majority of the Senate, and House. This is the bigger long term picture.
So back to the judicial abstracts to get you up to speed. Go to Supreme Court Selection in the Menu.
update of August 12, 2020
We have been watching and researching the landscape over the past three months. Have not posted since early May. COVID-19 has brought a lot of turmoil but the big picture has not changed that much. Climate Change and Health Care and how to deal with them in a pro-growth environment is still key. A sense of making ones Community central to your life is still paramount. As Raghuram Rajan points out at one point in his book, The Third Pillar, the central theme in a dysfunctional community is the inability of the community members to act together for their common good. How better to describe many of our Communities in the United States at this moment, whether it be our national community or our local communities.
My hope is that Joe Biden can foster an administration that can get us back to working together. In order to do that he will need a partner as VP has the desire to build a National community and I believe he has that done in choosing Kamala Harris who brings a lot of energy and and perspective. I do also hope that he will choose Elizabeth Warren for a large role in the Administration. She would bring a rich portfolio of forward thinking ideas to tackle the economic, climate, and health issues that the country faces.
Back in May we said the following: The hard part in any election is convincing voters that you really have something that you can make happen – and in this election we originally thought it was —
Workable Big Ideas
But it turned out in the early primary races that the desire to take the low risk route to be sure and beat Trump took things towards one thing,
With that as the back drop we have just added a section March 5 Rethink.02. This section takes a second look at how the voters could have their low risk route and yet see the next Administration be truly one devoted to Big Ideas.
Education is the first step.
In the early stages of the caucus and primary schedule a lot of attention was being focused on elect-ability, the fear that no Democrat can beat Trump. We would like to see this change for the rest of the primary season. Explained ISSUES should be the number one challenge. Especially issues explained in detail, like do the math for people, let them visualize the story. Climate, Inequality and Healthcare are big words that need to be wrapped in reality.
In this website we have a Digging Deeper section where a number of researchers, authors, etc, do dig deeper than we have seen on the primary trail so far.
We also in the ReThinking section, try to put together some challenge/solution dialogue.
In the blog section we will post items of interest and invite you to post responses also.