The Newest Banana Republic

According to one report on Dec. 19th, Kuwait switched its annual party from the Four Seasons Hotel to president-elect Donald J. Trump’s newest hotel in Washington, DC, “after members of Trump’s Organization pressured” Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S., Salem Al-Sabah.

The next day another report claimed that there had been no pressure from the Trump Organization to switch hotels. The ambassador said, “I do not know president-elect Trump. I do not know any of his people. None of his people have contacted me. I thought would be exciting for our guests to see a new venue. It looks great. It looks cool. So let’s do it.”

Regardless of which version is true, it gives the United States the feel of a banana republic, where you try to gain favors from a country’s leader by enhancing the leader’s economic well-being. Unfortunately, “[f]oreign diplomats have openly admitted that some see staying at the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel owned by the president-elect as a chance to curry favor with Trump.

To prevent our becoming a banana republic, President Obama should issue an executive order that forbids any foreign government representative from staying in or having functions at any Trump property.

If the U.S. wants to retain it superpower status, we must not only maintain our strength, but also our moral standing. We must demonstrate that we will base our foreign policy on actual policy. Otherwise our status as a banana republic will become permanent.

Medicare-for-all—There Is No Better Solution

Republicans have been saying for many years that the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, needs to be repealed and replaced with something better. Medicare-for-all is that something better.

Unfortunately for Republicans and the rest of us, after six years of complaining, they still have no idea of how to replace Obamacare. Their latest proposal is to repeal Obamacare, then delay the repeal for two to three years in the hope that they can force Democrats to negotiate a replacement.

Republicans argue falsely that the current problems in our health care system have been exacerbated by Obamacare. In fact Obamacare has mitigated some of the worst problems by reducing the number of uninsured by about 12.5 million and allowing people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance.

However, even Obamacare has not been able to fix the systemic problems that cause the United States to have the most expensive health care system in the world with some of the worst health outcomes of any developed nation. We pay for a yacht, but get a dinghy.

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Democrats Must Focus on Messaging

There is a passionate debate as to whether Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz should be replaced. This debate focuses on three main points: did Wasserman Schultz show favoritism towards Secretary Clinton, has she been biased against Senator Sanders, and can Wasserman Schultz unify the party? However, neither of the preceding points are the most important criteria for evaluating the Chairwoman’s performance as head of the DNC.

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Deadly Discrimination

Discrimination denies freedom. Early Sunday morning Omar Mateen killed 49 people at popular gay bar in Orlando. At least one official called it a “domestic terror incident.” It is a hate crime.

The killer’s father, Mir Seddique, said his son got “very angry” when he saw two men kissing. “This had nothing to do with religion,” according to the father. The father is wrong. This has plenty to do with religion and politics, especially when prominent religious leaders and politicians condemn homosexuality and say it is acceptable to discriminate against gays. In less extreme cases we get bakers refusing to wedding cakes for gay couples. In the most extreme cases, we get beatings and death.

Maybe disgruntled bakers would never kill anyone, but where would such people choose to stop? Would gay sex become illegal? Would courses in morality be required? Would beatings be allowed?

Regardless of how the intolerance manifests itself, it all grows from the same seed. Early Sunday morning we saw a tragic illustration why discrimination must cease and freedom must be protected!