Years ago as a young boy in the small town of West Texas where I grew up, I would daydream along the railroad tracks in the shallow valley below our home. I would wait for the high, mighty trains that I imagined came roaring from Los Angeles from the west or Atlanta from the east. The trains would slow down as they sped by an old salt lake but even so would displace enough air to create a powerful force that on occasion sent my thin, reedy body reeling and crashing into the brown dirt. While other boys were sniffing glue, I was getting off on sudden blasts of air from caravans of steel that the day before might have sat idling near the Pacific or come from the other side of the country where Sherman ran roughshod over the Confederacy.
One day, one of the trains slowed to a pace slower than usual. A clump of rail yard workers not far from me waited. One of the crew stood by a thick iron stick that he pushed away from his body. As he did, the tracks moved and separated in part. I watched with fascination. A new set of tracks appeared suddenly and diverted the massive train to another set of tracks. That decades-old image came to mind as I sat with my old college roommate watching the returns of the election of 2012 that some observers have characterized as a status-quo election. It was anything but. In fact, it was a shattering election – far more important than the pedantic conclusion that Democrats retained control of the White House and the Senate and that Republicans maintained their majority in the House.
Because HispanicLatinos already are a great part of the nation’s military and will be a larger part still in the years ahead, they should monitor President Obama’s recent decisions to assert American power in the South China Sea. From Australia to the Philippines to Thailand, the United States is creating pockets of American strength to make sure China’s growth as a world power does not retrace the erroneous path that Japan took more than 70 years ago. Left unchecked, a totalitarian Japan swept across the Pacific and only a bloody effort led by the United States pushed them back.
You have to be on top of things to know how cleverly China is going about its business as it senses that the balance of power not only in that region but in the world is moving away from the United States. Building gigantic commercial ports that also can accommodate the large naval vessels it is constructing at high speed is one of the easier examples. China is active on all fronts, from Iran to Latin America to outer space. No one begrudges them their advancement as a world power and their development as a new and important nation. But let us make sure that the Chinese rise to power is not predicated on thinking that the United States is going to go silently into the night. Continue reading →
The reader comments section on the AP story of a Mexican official detained last week at an airport with $1.9 million in a briefcase and backpack were predictably sanctimonious, and of course the money run cannot be defended legally. To these readers, corruption is endemic in all of Latin America and is part of the HispanicLatino genetic makeup.
The same readers might note that at the same time that the official’s plane was in the air, millions of dollars in wire transfers whizzed through cyberspace into the coffers of the so-called super-pacs by supporters of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich – legally, of course. Two good fellas – a casino owner and his wife from Las Vegas – gave Gingrich $10 million. No corruption or outsized influence there.
When the Supreme Court of the United States unleashed the wave of money that has engulfed the American political process – already undermined by the system before the Court’s disastrous decision, mind you – it made any bungled Mexican money-packing operation look like a lollipop compared to the ten pounds of Belgian chocolate on which the Republican candidates have already gorged themselves in just the first month of the primary season. Continue reading →
It is interesting to see the national media try to make sense of the HispanicLatino vote in Florida before the Republican primary on Tuesday. The media speaks of it as one vote, and it is in a sense. The HispanicLatino vote next week could be as much as 80 percent Cuban American. But most HispanicLatinos in Florida now vote Democratic, so the media would be more accurate to describe the group voting next week in the GOP contest as the Cuban Republican vote, and they should point out that it is shrinking as each day passes due to its aging nature. Continue reading →
— This blog is reposted from Saturday night; the usual business-oriented blog on Mondays will be published tomorrow. —
Though it is easy to dismiss that bane of the average American – the so-called “experts” – they do hold vast institutional and collective wisdom – but perhaps it is about the past. All of them – from the left to the right – have been wrong this year. And so in this uproarious year, their judgment is now near useless given South Carolina. None of these experts expected that after three GOP contests three different candidates could call themselves a winner. One does not have to be an expert in these things to sense something is not plumb with things-as-usual. I have been around journalistically and politically long enough to be confounded totally by what has happened in South Carolina. For me, it now is not outside the possibility that President Obama could lose this election. Continue reading →
In this uproarious year, it now is not outside the possibility that President Obama could lose this election. One does not have to be an expert in these things to sense something is not plumb with things-as-usual. I have been around journalistically and politically long enough to be confounded totally by what has happened in South Carolina.
For conventional thinkers, this is not the year to be conventional. My thoughts have been all along that Obama was going to sweep over any of the Republican candidates. Now I am not so sure. Will Florida tell the tale? Perhaps. Watching Mitt Romney on television was looking at someone who, it turns out, is not as good as he thinks he is. This business of running for President is not like directing a takeover of another company – running for President is not insider work. Romney talked tonight as if he were talking to his staff instead of the country. His spiel was canned and repetitive. Newt Gingrich offers something new: New language, new energy, new anger – the stuff of which most elections are made and won. Continue reading →
When writing, it takes effort and discipline to not hurl labels at people. By now, though, Newt Gingrich has revealed himself for what he is: Aside from being labelled as unstable by people who worked with him, he has all the makings of a budding fascist. Gingrich’s attacks on the judiciary are nothing less than breath-taking. His suggestions that judges be hauled before legislative committees by police to explain their decisions speaks to a time and place that the History Channel deals with every day.
I remember watching George W. Bush on television at one of his first group meetings with foreign leaders. It was a NATO summit meeting of European leaders in Brussels six months after he took office. As the leaders gathered for the traditional group picture, they stood around the nervous President of the United States, who at one point looked up and behind him to laugh at something one of the leaders had said. In that split second, Bush looked like a lost schoolboy, out of his element. I will never forget the thought I had then.
This country is rich – rich enough to squander the Presidency.
Any country that would elect a neophyte and a person so lacking in intellectual depth was presumptuously wealthy enough to risk the Presidency on someone whom I was convinced would be a disaster. I had only a clue from someone who knew him how much of a debacle was at stake. Now we all know. The same thought came to me as I watch the spectacle of today’s Republican presidential candidates.
A cardinal rule in politics holds that you cannot beat somebody with nobody. Another rule becomes operational when the first rule is violated: Political animals roam the landscape in search of a political void. Another reality is that journalism is not dead – meaning no one should crown Newt Gingrich just yet.
My tea this morning is perfect. As Premier of China and head of government and the State Council, I seldom get a bad cup of tea. The intra-party struggles have been resolved. We seem to be managing that burst of inflation that reared its head in the economy. Our balance of payments continues to grow spectacularly in our favor. Things are fine. We need to open up credit a bit more, but generally we are on our way. Why do I feel so odd, then?