HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 12: LATIN AMERICA: DEMOCRATS AND DEMAGOGUES. Hillary did recommend that the President end the embargo on Cuba before she left office.

December 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Hillary points out in this chapter that 40 percent of our exports go to our two closest neighbors Canada and Mexico. (What the point of that is I am not sure as Canada was in the mix.) Latin America is made up of 36 countries mostly democracies and 600 million people. The middle class is expanding and the GDP is more than $5 trillion.
Democracies predominate in Latin America. Cuba and Venezuela are the major exceptions.
 During the cold war Latin America was a battle ground between the Soviet Union and ourselves; most prominently in Cuba with its attempts to export communism and use as a Soviet base.
Other major problem countries have been Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Nicaragua under Daniel Ortiz.
Mexico despite its drug problems (ninety percent of all drugs used in the U.S originate or pass through Mexico and ninety percent of the guns used by the narco cartels come from the U.S.) has made huge economic strides during and since the Presidency of Felipe Calderon. The middle class has grown dramatically. Calderon built 140 tuition free universities for his people.



The U.S. and Mexico have cooperated in the fight against the narco syndicates. Mexico extradited nearly two hundred fugitives to the U.S, and nearly two dozen high level drug dealers were captured or killed due to improved intelligence and targeting. Further the FBI has stepped up the arrest and prosecution of cartel members operating in this country.
Hillary expects that Mexico like Columbia will defeat its drug cartels and continue to make economic improvements allowing its people better lives. (It seems that the drug business moved to Mexico after things became too hot in Columbia. Cocaine after all originates in Bolivia and Peru and Mexico is the last country before entry into the U.S. One wonders exactly where it is refined into powder. It seems unlikely that the leaves themselves are transported to Mexico so the refining process has to take place in some other country as does the process of turning poppies into heroin.)
Hillary fails to point out Mexico has benefited by the North American Free Trade Act mostly at the expense of the American factory worker when the factories they worked at moved to Mexico in search of cheaper labor. However the major loss of jobs to the American worker is due to the rise of China as an industrial state with cheap labor.
Brazil is a power house economy and economic development is growing. In fact it has one of the fastest growing economies in the World with a rapidly expanding middle class.

The combined economies of Latin America are greater than that of Russia.
Hillary devotes a long passage about how she blocked Cuba’s entry into the Organization of American states on human rights issues and the fact they were not a democracy. These issues are ones that resonate in the new millennium since communism is no longer a threat.

The President did formally resume diplomatic relations with Cuba and lifted some restrictions on travel, money transfers and other things in exchange for two American prisoners and three Cuban spies.

cuba map 4 images8IE2DMYW

Not mentioned was the fact  communism is now a discredited economic system and Castro has nothing to export to other Latin American countries. Also Russian influence has waned since they no longer support the Cuban economy. Thus there is no significant threat of communist expansion in Latin America any longer.
Future developments in this area await the test of time as there will be a change of leadership when Fidel and Raul Castro and the other aging revolutionaries pass the reins of power to a younger generation. Hillary does not discuss this eventuality.

Hillary did advise President Obama before leaving office to end the embargo but this takes legislation to change the previous Acts. Obama  took the steps he could legally do under his executive authority.



Senator Elizabeth Warren has pointed out that the Federal Government is on target to earn 66 billion dollars on student loan debt on the slice of debt from 2007 to 2012. This is after administrative costs, bad debt, etcetera.

There is 1.2 Trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt at varying rates of interest up to 12% or more if in default.

Yet the banks have been given exemption from bankruptcy on these loans. This at a time when they can borrow at less than 1% from the Federal Government. 98% of the debt is guaranteed by the parents of the student borrowers. In this video she asks banks what relief they provide in hardship cases like the one outlined in the title. She gets evasive answers back from a banking industry representative. The least the banks could do is buy debtor life insurance with their enormous profits then they wouldn’t look like heartless profiteers on the backs of students and their cosigners as they do. All this said the next huge financial bubble to burst will be the student loan debt unless interest rates are lowered(they have been in some cases) and bankruptcy protection is allowed. Otherwise students struggling to repay debt are reluctant to marry, have children, buy houses etc. because they can’t afford it. Thus the economy is directly imperiled as well as the future.



December 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Hillary May not be the only Democrat running for President. There is a draft movement for Elizabeth Warren Moveon.org . One is reminded of Howard Dean who conducted a respectable campaign with the aide of Meetup.com through mainly the internet only to be ruled out by a misspoke sound bite after losing in Iowa replayed thousands of times by the media. It will be interesting to see if they both throw their hats in the ring.
Here is a video Moveon.org is using to launch their draft movement.




Good Cop badcop act of Putin and Medvedev

Vladimir Putin left office in  May 2008 succeeded as President of Russia by Dimitry  Medvedev. At first it was  assumed that Medvedev was a place holder for  Putin and would follow his policies   of  looking back at the grandeur of the Czars who had a long  history of controlling nations on Russia’s borders , presenting a strong face to the world and exerting Russia’s influence on the world and in particular Western Europe  by energy policies. Putin also limited dissent inside Russia and surrounded himself with fawning oligarchs. Those oligarchs that were critical were stripped of their wealth and either jailed or exiled.  His economy  depended on oil and gas revenue. Russia’s expansionist policies under Putin included the invasion of Georgia and splintering off a part of Georgia.

 Good CoP Medvedev

Good Cop Medvedev


However Medvedev appeared to be more forward looking and  showed signs of engaging the West in a positive way.  President Obama first  had a meeting with Medvedev in London in 2009.

He seemed open to working with the west on Afghanistan, reduction of nuclear weapons stocks in  Russia, the United States and also around the World. This was particularly true in the case of Iran. Russia voted in the U.N. for tough sanctions against Iran for their quest for a nuclear arsenal.

Also Medvedev was cooperative in allowing the NATO Allies to transport supplies and troops over a Northern route through Russia and its former satellite states into Afghanistan.  This gave us an alternative to the route through volatile Pakistan.

Medvedev acknowledged the growing threat from an Iran with nuclear weapons although Russia had substantial trade interests with Iran and were even helping Iran build a nuclear reactor.  Yet despite theses interests he  sided with the West in asserting sanctions  against  not only  Iran but North Korea.

President Medvedev was interested in broadening the Russian economy beyond commodities and  wanted to create a Silicon Valley like technological complex in Russia. To that end he even visited Silicon Valley.

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was renegotiated and signed under Medvedev.

However Medvedev “decided” not to run for a second term and Putin was elected as President of Russian for a third term . The election was marred by reports of fraud. Demonstrations followed alleging Putin was a thief who stole the election, which Putin suppressed along with media criticism.

Putin declined to attend a G-8 metering at Los Cabos, Mexico and relations turned cool.

The government suppressed NGO’s , dissidents, LBGT people and  began domineering policies toward it’s neighbors. In 2014  it  invaded and annexed Crimea.  It also fomented a crisis in Ukraine when it wanted to sign a trade treaty with  the European Union.

Putin seems to be looking back to the days of the Soviet empire when Russian exerted power over Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He envisions a union of these states to compete with the European Union. His policies include dissuading neighboring states from joining the European Union or NATO. Though the economic and security benefits would be substantial to these states and even to Russia if it could ever be convinced to join.

However Putin has not curtailed our access to Afghanistan by the Northern Route for which the West pays Russia up to one billion a year nor has it gone back on sanctions for Iran and North Korea.

However it supports the regime in Syria and is adamant against missile sites in Europe for protection against Iran.

What Putin’s next move will be is any one’s guess?  However sanctions imposed by the West for his actions in the Crimea and Ukraine have had a deleterious effect on the Russian economy and now that oil prices have dropped to near $70 dollars a barrel , below the $82 a barrel he needs to service debt and sustain the economy, his options internally and externally are extremely limited. Political unrest in Russia because of oil  prices  may limit Putin’s power or even lead to his ouster in the 2018 election if it is a free one. However at this point he still retains his popularity. It appears as if Putin and Medvedev have a good cop bad cop routine going on. It will be interesting to see if Medvedev succeeds Putin in 2018 0r after.

Hillary has a jaundiced eye towards Putin for good reason. He is trying to resurrect a vision of some past glory and is failing to deal with present conditions. Even the United States came to realize that we need the cooperation of other countries to effectively  and favorably stabilize   economic and political conditions.