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A Libertarian Considers…Biden or Trump?

By: David Unsworth - Dec 28, 2016, 2:32 pm
VP Joe Biden may actually be the Democrats frontrunner for 2020 (Wikimedia).
VP Joe Biden may actually be the Democrats frontrunner for 2020 (Wikimedia).

The 2016 election cycle was utterly devastating for the Democratic Party. Fundamentally, the party has only itself to blame; first and foremost for the unprecedented degree to which a candidate with more ethical and personal baggage than almost any other in American electoral history was allowed to waltz to the nomination. Consider that heading into the primary season, 41 of the 44 Democrats in the Senate had endorsed Hillary Clinton.

So much for a nomination and not a coronation.

Despite ludicrous claims across social media that 2018 is going to see an explosion in progressive candidates, and a massive backlash against Trump, the evidence, as well as a simple perusal of the Senate map, reveals that the opposite is likely to be true. Republicans have fared far better in non-presidential year elections for the better part of a generation and the Senate map in 2018 is a godsend for the Republican Party, featuring numerous Democratic senators up for reelection in red states who will be forced to go along with Trump’s agenda, or defend their votes.

Who will take on Trump in 2020? That is hard to say. Short of signing up for a suicide pact, it seems highly unlikely that the Democrats would actually be delusional enough to nominate Hillary Clinton again. “The third time’s the charm” probably won’t cut it for her, and Clinton fatigue is likely to set in.

Despite the earnest efforts of the “Bernie Bros” it’s also highly unlikely that Bernie Sanders will gain much traction in 2020. Sanders’ spectacular performance in the 2016 primary was largely a reflection of the fact that he was the only legitimate politician (other than the pathetic and hapless Martin O’Malley) who actually had the testicular fortitude to throw his hat in the ring. As far to the left as many Democratic activists may be, the Democratic Party’s wealthy money men and women are still not delusional or imprudent enough to let a sterling opportunity to make Trump only a one-term president be derailed by nominating a 79 year old Communist from Vermont.

Despite the pundits who claimed that Sanders would have appealed to the same downtrodden, white, working class Rust Belt demographic where Trump shined, the truth of the matter is that Sanders was never even close to capturing the Democratic nomination. His endorsement of dismantling American capitalism and replacing it with Scandinavian-style socialism would have provided ample fodder for any half-sane Republican candidate to throw Sanders to the wolves with moderate and independent voters. He has a lifetime of extreme positions and ideology to defend; what plays well in Brooklyn and San Francisco does not play well in the heartland, and the prospect of Bernie Sanders running a 50 state campaign (as Howard Dean implored the Democrats to do), seems beyond laughable.

Which brings us to Joe Biden. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Biden appeared as lucid and reasonable as a prominent Democrat has appeared in quite some time.

One of the Democrats’ most popular strategies for trying to derail the Trump train was their effort to paint Trump, his campaign, his supporters, and anyone who even questioned that Trump was anything less than a neo-Nazi, as a racist, bigot, homophobe, sexist, and Islamophobe.

Biden, in a wide-ranging interview with the LA Times, finally admitted something that should have been readily apparent from the get-go. The rise of Trump was not indicative of a sudden skyrocketing of rampant racism in the United States. As Biden noted after watching a Trump rally in his old northeastern Pennsylvania stomping ground, “They’re all the people I grew up with…And they’re not racist. They’re not sexist. But we didn’t talk to them.”

“My dad used to have an expression. He said, ‘I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect them to understand it,” Biden said.

“I like Bernie,” Biden said, adding he agrees with the Vermont senator on many issues. “But I don’t think 500 billionaires caused all our problems.”

Biden, despite his assertion that he shares much in common with Sanders, has just publicly disputed the very essence of the Sanders message.

Sanders’ message can be boiled down in a nutshell to the following: Government can solve all of our problems. Income inequality is the greatest injustice in the United States. The 1% is to blame. The reason that the working and middle classes are where they are right now is because the rich don’t pay enough in taxes.

A very casual perusal of the actual evidence demonstrates exactly the opposite: in fact, the rich pay almost all of the taxes in America, while nearly half of Americans pay no federal income tax of any kind. Consider that in 2014, the top 1% paid 45.7% of taxes, while the bottom 60% paid less than 2% in taxes.

It sure doesn’t seem that all of America’s problems are because the rich aren’t paying their fair share.

This information may be difficult to process in Bernie Sanders’ LSD-addled brain. But history has repeatedly shown that stealing resources from those who produce, create, and earn, to redistribute it to those who do not produce, create, or earn, is an ineffective strategy for bringing about meaningful social or political change.

The Democratic Party has a choice. It can continue down the path advocated by the “Bernie Bros”…Sanders rabble-rousing, idealistic, starry-eyed, hipster, urbanites who are gleefully oblivious to the historical horrors of socialism, and eager to blame the rich for all of the world’s ills.

Or they can look for an alternative.

A few names have been thrown around: Elizabeth Warren (likely to run with Bernie’s blessing if he does not throw his own hat into the ring). New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. VP nominee Tim Kaine. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

If none of these names elicit your recognition and/or enthusiasm…you are not alone. The Democratic Party has been truly devastated, and it seems to be something of a rudderless ship, without clear leadership.

Which leads us to the stunning conclusion: It seems likely at this point, that the most likely and credible candidate, someone who would begin mid 2019 as the instant frontrunner, is…surprise, surprise…former Vice President Joe Biden.

Indeed, former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz termed Biden the “conscience of the Democratic Party.”

Biden would appear to be the only candidate who could credibly unite the various ideological, institutional, and geographical factions of the Democratic Party. He would most likely begin a primary with a massive lead over a Sanders/Warren type candidate, and enjoy support from the DNC and the moneyed interests in the party.

Biden is not without his flaws. He is famous for his off-the-cuff oratory. This is the individual who once asked a wheelchair-bound politician to “stand up so everyone can see you”, and told a largely African American audience that the Republican Party would “put y’all back in chains.” His 1988 presidential candidacy was derailed following allegations of plagiarism from British Labor leader Neil Kinnock.

But Biden has an air of authenticity. An air of likability. He seems like a decent human being.

Could these three things be said about Hillary Clinton? The American voters will be the judge of that if she does indeed take the disastrous decision to run in 2020.

Neither Trump nor Biden is a libertarian. Far from it. But where will Trump take the future of this country? If Trump proceeds to dismantle free trade agreements and revert to a protectionist era in the US, he will likely do devastating damage to his reelection prospects.

Many moderates, independents, and libertarians were faced with a difficult decision in 2016. Trump undoubtedly won the day because he successfully convinced a clear majority of these voters, (the substantial bloc of American voters who are not indelibly allied with either major party) that maybe he was bad…but he wasn’t as bad as Hillary Clinton.

Libertarians have high hopes for Trump, but his first four years are likely to leave a mixed legacy.

To the vast and often voiceless bloc in the United States who truly abhors both parties, the “Silent Majority” if you will, Trump truly spoke to them, stunning pollsters, and the entire world.

As crazy as it sounds, Biden may represent the best hope for the Democratic Party to win back this bloc in four years.

Source: LA Times

David Unsworth David Unsworth

David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City. Currently he resides in Bogota, Colombia, where he is involved in the tourism industry. In his free time he enjoys singing in rock bands, travelling throughout Latin America, and studying Portuguese.

Venezuelan Military Traffic in Food at the Expense of the Hungry

By: Karina Martín - Dec 28, 2016, 1:57 pm
ejercito-militares-venezolanos-trafico-alimentos-hambre

EspañolThe Venezuelan military is reportedly taking advantage of the power given to them by Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro: Instead of fighting hunger, they profit from it, according to a recent report. An investigation conducted by the Associated Press found corruption in Venezuela's management of food distribution. The military that should be in charge of managing the scarce food in the country, but instead administer it at illegal markets, where goods are bought and sold for up to 100 times the price set by the government. "Food now goes for more than drugs," said Cliver Alcalá, a retired general who helped oversee border security. Since 2004  — the year President Hugo Chávez created the Ministry of Popular Power for Food — the military has been involved in food distribution and production control; however, as the scarcity and economic crisis in the country increased because of neglected farms and factories, so too did protests, looting and hunger. The government is now in charge of importing most food. Bribes to generals are a normal occurrence for high-priced items, according to Werner Gutiérrez, Professor of Agronomy at the University of Zulia. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); });   "If Venezuela paid market prices, we could import double and easily meet the needs of our population," said Gutiérrez. The investigation of the news agency pointed to the case of a South American businessman, who last July had a boat full of corn waiting in the port, and for which he had already paid millions in bribes to Venezuelan officials. The boat "had been docked 20 days ago," the businessman told the news agency. The South American businessman who chose to remain anonymous explained that he understood that he should pay more bribes despite the fact that money was not mentioned; however, the then-Minister of Economy took the ship because the expenses were rising because of the delay. Likewise, the entrepreneur said he paid $8 million to people who worked for Minister Marco Torres and explained that he could do it because officials inflate prices on the invoice that they give to the state. A $52 million corn contract reportedly included a multi-million dollar surplus, based on market prices at the time. The National Assembly tried to censor Minister Torres for corruption, based on the annual reports of the Ministry of Food that show significant payments. It was reportedly rejected under the reasoning that National Assembly members were trying to hurt the ministry. Read More: Venezuelan Opposition Cuts off Dialogue with Maduro After Broken Promises Read More: Venezuelan Opposition Leader Says Maduro’s Days in Office are Numbered Military control over food makes revolt by hungry soldiers less likely, but it has also reduced food supplies. The US government, which has already made known its position on corruption in Venezuela, has initiated investigations against businessmen and senior officials, including army personnel, for laundering money that passes through the US financial system. Three top US food vendors have also stopped selling directly to the Venezuelan government to avoid conflict. Corrupt activity reportedly begins as soon as food arrives in the country, leaving ships waiting at sea until they are paid for. After the merchandise is unloaded, customs agents take their share while officials take care of the distribution process. "It's a continuous chain of corruption from the time food arrives by boat until it is transported by truck," Luis Peña, COO of the Caracas-based Premier Foods importer, said. According to AP, if the importers try to skip the process without paying bribes, the food stays and rots. After customs, trucks must pass through military controls to stop food traffickers. The drivers interviewed by AP claimed that half of the officers at the checkpoints charge them. At the end of the food chain, some soldiers sell goods directly to businesses. "The army is getting fat while my grandchildren grow skinny," said a 74-year-old man who was walking stiffly in the middle of the traffic on a recent afternoon. "Little comes our way." Souce: El Nuevo Herald.

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