Back to the Future via Biff - or Trump

downloadQuite the uproar was created recently with the announcement by the current occupant of the Oval Office of his intention to impose an across-the-board 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. His stated target is China for “dumping” steel on the U.S. market.
“Dumping” is actually a formal term and refers to a product being “dumped” on a foreign market by selling it at less than fair market value as a means of cornering the market in that foreign country. The price of the product in the importing country is far less than the price of the same product being sold domestically, in this case, China.
Back in the 1980s, the threat to our domestic steel industry was Japan. Trump, in his wisdom, is claiming that China is currently dumping steel on the U.S. market and his across-the-board tariffs are intended to address that unfair practice. Problem is that China currently accounts for only about two percent of our imported steel, so the across-the-board action is actually hurting allies such as Canada, which accounts for almost 50 percent of our imported steel.
A few months back, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed imposing anti-dumping duties on Canada for its exports to the United States of softwood lumber. Anti-dumping duties are targeted to a specific country to counter the effect of the less than fair market value pricing. It seems baffling that if Chinese steel exports were the true culprit, then imposition of anti-dumping duties should have been the preferred course of action, if applicable.
Imposing or raising tariffs on imported products are designed to protect a specific industry. The United States Customs Service was created in 1789 to collect tariffs on foreign goods as a means of protecting the fledgling industries of the newly-created nation. In today’s global economy the rules are a bit different.


Promises, promises, and is it tee time again already?

Trump on golf courseI know we are in the middle of winter, but I didn't want to let this issue escape my scrutiny. Besides, it is sunny in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Remember during the presidential campaign of 2016 how often candidate Trump complained about how many times his predecessor took time off to play golf? Quite a bit as I recall. I also recall quite vividly candidate Trump promising not to play golf if elected because there is so much to do there won't be enough time to play golf.
He stated over and over again how he will be working, not playing. How he would “stay in the White House and work his ass off.” He accused his predecessor of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods, than the players on the PGA tour. Quite a difference between promises made during a campaign and the reality after election. Especially when it comes to golf and the presidency and Donald J. Trump!
Now for some of that post-election reality as it relates to golf and vacation days as a whole. Reality: Donald J. Trump during his first year in office took five times more vacation days than his predecessor Barack H. Obama.


Is there a doctor in the house?

NFL ProtestsAdmittedly I am not a doctor. I never attended medical school. I never even played a doctor on television. I did stay too many times to count at a Holiday Inn Express, but somehow I still don't consider myself a doctor.
However, I do receive numerous emails every single day. Several hundred for that matter and I am not even Secretary of State. How Hillary Clinton kept up with all of her emails is beyond me. I recently received an email regarding ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Maybe the sender got confused with the concept of the deficit in light of the recently passed Republican tax plan.
Anyway, I decided to take a look at the information out of curiosity and discovered something quite alarming. The president of the United States may very well be struggling with ADHD. As a matter of fact, this president may be afflicted with a great many more afflictions than just ADHD.


Setting the record straight for 2017

20170712 152519After an entire year of Trump in the Oval Office, it might just be the right time to set some of the record straight as we enter his second year in office. Let's begin with the oft-heard phrase “see something, say something” as an essential element of the war on terrorism. In his very own words during the presidential campaign: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
In essence, Trump is identifying an entire religious group as a threat to the security of the United States. The reality, of course, is that most, if not almost all, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are conducted by homegrown terrorists who either entered the country legally or were actually born in the U.S. but became “radicalized” years after entering the United States. This reality necessitates the need to have those familiar with the activities of terrorists prior to the attack say something when they see something.
Problem: Is ostracizing an entire religious community conducive to encouraging the members of that religious community to “say something when they see something?” Certainly not conducive; more likely counterproductive, but that is the Trump way!


A view of a National Shield Law for the press

20171114 104122Some weeks back I decided to sit in on the House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions. Having attended previous Congressional hearings with the Attorney General as the key witness, I didn't expect much in terms of new or enlightening testimony regarding the Russian meddling in our election probe and I was certainly not disappointed or, rather, pleasantly surprised by his testimony or lack thereof.
His responses to questions dealing with Russia and the inconsistencies in his previous testimony before Congress consisted of either “I do not recall,” or “I am not at liberty to discuss.” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York put it best when he asked AG Sessions if he realized that in previous testimony he used the “I don't recall” response more than 30 times and today he used it more than 20 times to which AG Sessions responded that he “didn't recall.”
What compounded the frustration was that the hearing felt like two separate hearings conducted at the same time with only one witness; half of the inquisitors dealt with Russia while the other half conducted a hearing on Hillary Clinton. I'll let you figure out which side of the aisle focused on Russia and which side focused on Hillary.
As a somewhat regular attendee at the White House daily press briefings I am quite familiar with Sarah Huckabee Sanders' keen ability to never actually answer a question and, rather, always respond with a set of talking points regardless of the nature of the question being asked. It is an uncanny ability when you add to it the fact that it is always done with a straight face. Truly impressive if also truly frustrating. I have at times yelled out “answer the question” but without any success.
However, this Judiciary Committee hearing turned out not to be a complete waste of my time and not just because it turned out to be rather entertaining. It is because, as we found our way through the so many committee members and their questions which, the longer the proceeding went the more repetitive the questions became, we finally arrived at questions from our own Congressman Jamie Raskin.


Reasons for activism

GovernorBillSigning 1bLife is very much like a box; you can keep taking from it but there comes a time when you have to start putting things back into it or else be faced with an empty box or, to extend the analogy, a possibly less-fulfilled life.
That is where activism and advocacy come into play. Advocacy is a means of putting something back into that box of life by doing something that benefits the many and not just the individual, contrary to the Ayn Rand teachings.
My road to becoming an activist came rather late in life. During my rather lengthy federal career I focused on the many challenging issues I was involved in. These included such issues as addressing the security threat created by moving cargo under bond across the nation, especially in the post 9/11 environment, during my time at U.S. Customs.
It included implementing programs designed to more fully unify the more than 22 disparate entities comprising the newly-created umbrella known as the Department of Homeland Security while serving in that department. It included, while at FEMA post Katrina, estimating the needs and identifying the capabilities and resources at the local, state and federal levels prior to the advent of the next great disaster to, thereby, ensure a more effective response and recovery to avoid what is currently happening in Puerto Rico.
It wasn't until I left federal service that I became much more interested in public policy and community service leading to my becoming much more active in raising my voice to influence that public policy. This, to me, is the very definition of the word activism.


A look back at history through clear glasses

17972 miscellaneous nuclear explosion explosionI am a child of the 1950's and 1960's and have also witnessed the challenges of the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and where we are now in the 21st century. I experienced the Cold War first-hand and remember quite vividly practicing shelter drills in P.S. 213 by taking cover under my desk in case we were attacked with an atomic bomb. Even at that age I questioned the effectiveness of that particular strategy.
As a student in J.H.S. 166, I remember the anxiety of the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the leadership provided by our young president in addressing the threat to our nation. I remember quite vividly, while in Brooklyn College, the feeling of panic when the student deferment was pulled during the height of the Vietnam War as well as the relief I felt when my lottery number was 272.


A closer look at the first two amendments to the Constitution

Bill of RightsSome recent events have made it an opportune time to take another look at the first two amendments to the Constitution.
Let's begin with the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution covers a great deal in very few words. Specifically it states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
If there is one word that is the most significant among the 44 words that comprise the amendment it is the word "Congress." The amendment is intended to prevent "Congress," and by Congress meaning the government, from enacting laws that would violate an individual's right to practice his or her religion or exercise his or her right to free speech, a free press, assembling peaceably, or petitioning the government.


Turning rhetoric into action with results

FB IMG 1506084285680There are several reasons to point to as to why Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald J. Trump.
The challenges we face as a nation, however, transcend the election of the most unfit and unqualified candidate ever to run for the office. Certainly it wasn't because of Donald Trump that Democrats lost the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010 or the majority in the Senate in 2014.
The dwindling of influence by the Democratic Party has evolved over years if not decades as is further evidenced by the fact that approximately two-thirds of the state houses and governorships are held by Republicans.
Certainly the gerrymandering of districts has contributed to this imbalance. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling commonly referred to as “Citizens United” which opened the door to big money influence in elections severely contributed to this imbalance of influence among the two major political parties.
So, you ask, what is the remedy? The aftermath of the election of 2016 unleashed pundit after pundit, advising that the Democratic Party must work from the “bottom up.”


Sentinel Hosts Live Stream Debate Among Democrat Candidates for County Executive on Oct. 16

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE -  The Montgomery County Sentinel will be hosting a live stream debate among the Democrat candidates for County Executive on Monday, Oct. 16, in the Council Hearing Room (third floor) in the County Council Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. 

Brian J. Karem, the executive editor for The Sentinel Newspapers, will moderate the event which is scheduled from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

Subscribe to this RSS feed