Trump vs Clinton – a Romanian perspective

So I watched the first debate between the two presidential candidates. This is an exercise I would suggest everyone who’s into having a correct information on the matter should do. Having an opinion on who’s better than the other without seeing them speaking next to each other on the same matters is surely incomplete, not to say wrong.

Now, to set my background: yes, I am a Romanian, and yes, I have no voting rights in the US. I’ve actually never been to the US. But this election matters to me, and to most of the world, not just to USA’s allies (yes, Romania is part of NATO, hence, an ally of the US). How does it matter? Well on several levels:

  1. Economically – The future president of the US can do one of two things, based on their debate. Namely, one: continue the current road the US have embarked on, generate global partnerships and enhance inter-country and inter-organization trading; or two: ask for all those in debt to the US to pay hugely and immediately with disregard to current treaties and inter-country documents signed – which will eventually result in a backlash, as the debt goes both ways: the US is in debt to the countries which own debts to them as well (it all depends on the type of debt, basically). Everyone is acquainted with the term “predictability”. No one wants someone that’ll act as if they own our asses over-night.
  2. Geo-politically – Now here’s almost no debate. Hilary (number one in the economical example) has, surely, the upper hand. Trump is saying that her experience is “bad experience”. I would beg to differ. What she managed to do with Iran – forcing them to respect all international treaties on Nuclear Proliferation is worthy of awards (not Nobel, of course). Trump’s understanding of this is: Hilary created this situation. He has no knowledge on how geo-politics works, how to get plenty of countries to act the same way with respect to a particular one in order to postpone if not entirely annihilate a potential threat. Trump feels that one meeting with Putin and Pena Nieto is enough. You are the president of the world’s most powerful country and the chief of the strongest army in the world. You cannot sell that, and Trump acts as if he’s willing to sell the US army to whomever pays… His argument: “we cannot be the police of the world”. He’s right, the US isn’t “the world police”, all democracies are.
  3. Which brings me to the third topic: NATO – yes, NATO is part of the geo-politics discussion, but for us it is more important than that. Most of Europe is in NATO, and the eastern Europe countries (mostly) constantly feel threatened by Russia and certain middle eastern organizations (not only ISIS, that’s not the only active terrorist organization). NATO is our shield. We’re offering so much to them, like just a couple of days ago, four military Romanian troops were attacked and injured in Afghanistan. So we do pay our dues, both financially, militarily and, on sad occasion, with our lives. Trump feels that we should pay more. And I do agree, we should, as long as we get the leverage that once paid or increased participation, we will get what’s bargained for. Trump has a history in not respecting this, and he even said it during the debate: we have allies, but they should pay for being our allies (not the actual quote). Newsflash, Trump: this goes both ways – we’re your ally, you’re ours. We don’t ally with Russia, and neither does the rest of Europe, to invade the US, because we’re respecting each other. If you won’t do that, well then…
  4. Socially – I’ve gotten a bit hyped on point 3. Let me get to point 4. He’s saying that stop-and-frisk is (was) working. And he’ll advocate for it. So, let’s picture this, one colored-person runs on the street. The police stop-and-frisk him… for about 30 minutes. He keeps telling them that he’s a doctor, but the police won’t believe him, ‘cause he’s colored. He had an emergency at the hospital, and because of his delay, his patient died. Stop-and-frisk is too discretionary, but that’s what he sees as a solution: the hell with your civil rights! And how does that affect me, as a Romanian? Well there are plenty of Romanian immigrants to the US. If they suddenly become blacklisted because they weren’t born in the US, what would you expect our tiny government can do to make sure that their rights are respected cross-borders? USA can always invade us, but us them… well, that’s a sci-fi story for the ages. Where does Hillary stand here? Well, she seems like a normal human being, not a raging-hater.
  5. This is personal. This is not a Romanian speaking, but rather a rational human being (which so happens to be a citizen of the said country). Both candidates are liars, that’s already proven. One is a person that lies about her e-mails, the other lies about his bankruptcy. One lies about a story where “she was being shot at”, and the other lies about his debts and revenue. One lies about her private life, the other lies about mostly everything he’s ever said. When Trump’s confronted by his own words, he gets upset and he bullies everyone, especially the accuser. During the debate he bullied Lester three times with the vicious “wait!”. He childishly interrupted Clinton over 50 times (as opposed to less than 20 the other way around). He yells into the microphone “wrooong!” while the other is speaking. Who would vote for a buffoon to be their president? No other country leader with dignity will support Trump’s policies. And however “self-financed” his campaign is, I would ask some things: who does he do business with? What’s his interest? Who does he owe money to? How many law-suits does he still have? For Hilary, it’s fairly clear: look at who’s donating. Changing the paradigm might be a good thing, but in this case, it surely isn’t.

P.S. I wanted not to be biased, but Donald’s never-finishing sentences and lack of rhetoric and logic can cloud a man’s thinking.

Privacy. Freedom of speech. Snowden and Zizek

I recently came across the following statement:

Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say” – Edward Snowden

While at first glance this statement holds water, I personally am totally against this comparison. The limits of freedom of speech – what you can and cannot say – are totally outlined even in democratic societies. You can say that there is no God, but you cannot say that Hitler was a hero, for example, in Germany (and many other countries for that matter). Freedom of speech is not the same with freedom of thought, you can think that Hitler was a hero, no one will know unless you say it.

Privacy, on the other hand, is one key element to modern society. Less than one hundred years ago there were, more or less, no laws that protected privacy (except for privacy of correspondence – which one may argue has more in common with freedom of speech and freedom of association rather than privacy). I have nothing against people entering my private life, let them. My problem is when whatever they do with my private information is not done with my explicit consent. I graciously accept Google collecting data based on my behavior but I will not, under any circumstances, let the state know uhm… where I live? I’ll post happily anything on Facebook, Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, Goodreads… Ashley Madison, but I will be outraged when somebody reads it. Of course, I’m going to an extreme with this. Bien sur I won’t be outraged when somebody reads it, that’s the whole point of posting my opinions and info on public spaces… such as MySpace.

Back to the issue at hand: freedom of speech is limited by law. Privacy is also, but think of this: you don’t know that your privacy is being stomped on until someone uses your personal info in an obvious manner. You don’t know who read your Facebook post until he likes, comments or shares it. Or physically tells you something about it. Same with privacy: if your way of life doesn’t change, you won’t know that your privacy is being violated. You like it when on your new phone all your accounts are linked together but you don’t like it when the state knows where you’ve been. Moreover, what if your way of life improves due to that privacy violation, but you won’t notice it, similar to your browsing experience?

So, saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about commercials because you have nothing to buy.

Saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say is like saying you don’t care about freedom of thought because you don’t think.

Dear Mr. Snowden, I like you, but your comparisons are way too much for society’s current state. Or perhaps I missed the joke?

Now listen to what a Marxist has to say about privacy.

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