Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

The Bully-In-Chief and the Naked Empress

You would think that a society that has spent the past ten years wringing its communal hands over how to deal with school yard bullies and their consequences would recognize one in the man-child Donald Trump, and have a clue of how to deal with him.  Obviously not.

Most interesting is the self-inflicted dilemma of the Repugnantlan Party; those stalwart wearers of flag lapel pins,  supporters of our troops and police, champions of right to life until born, true believers that they have a monopoly on patriotism, self-appointed protectors of the constitution that they are systematically raping in the name of God, country and free enterprise….They stand trembling in the shadow of Trump.  Ironically, the shadow is less than the man, but the Repugnantlans are less still in their collective incapacity to confront this breathing amalgam of narcissism, arrogance, deceit and rank ignorance, and say to themselves and the society that they presume to lead “This man does not represent our values, and we will not lend our Party’s label to his twisted and destructive enterprise.”   Or something to that effect.  But that apparently demands more courage than they can collectively muster.

Nor were the alternatives all that attractive.  A party that has embraced a thinly disguised agenda of bigotry, religious zealotry, misogyny and elitism under the brand Conservatism, and thus done severe damage to the meaning of that term; that same party has looked desperately in its wings among the kooks and Hucksters, and mini-narcissists in waiting, for an alternative to the Enfant Terrible, to no apparent avail.  Short Form: they’re screwed.

The question before the Repugnantlans is: Do we face a firestorm at the convention in the effort to save the party?  Or do we face a firestorm at the voting booths and watch the party be bludgeoned into dust, at the possible tangible loss of Congressional majority.

Given the level of courage and integrity currently in evidence in the party leadership, it is conceivable that they would rather suffer the risk of defeat in the less frightening confrontation and anonymity of the voting booth, than to risk the physical, in-your-face, mano-a-mano confrontation that is promised by Thugs for Trump at the convention.

And as disturbing as all this is in what it says about the state of Party leadership, what is even more disturbing is that there is a constituency that is big enough to give Trump this power.  The question is: is this a constituency of mini-bullies supporting a master bully in their greatest fantasy of power, or as some observers suggest, are Trump’s followers mostly very angry people who see Trump not so much as their leader, but their hammer to render a failing system to the dustbin of history. A similar speculation has been rendered of Bernie Sanders, who is beginning to sound more like Trump in his prognostications for the coming Democratic Convention.

Then there’s the Demo-crass.  They have a different kind of fear, or should.  They face the risk that fewer people will turn out for Ms Inevitability, a.k.a ‘Hillary Don’t-Cry-For-Me-Argentina Rodham-Clinton’, than the die-hard crazies who will turn out for Trump.  On paper, she should have this thing licked.  She’s got ‘credential’s.  She’s engineered the back room of the Convention.  She’s got an enviable Rolodex ( because, as she acknowledged in the prvate computer server grillings, she’s not particularly tech savvy) and the financial backing.  What she lacks is credibility.  Not necessarily an insurmountable problem for a politician.  But she has such an incredible knack for shooting herself in the foot, that it’s totally reasonable for the average person to wonder if she can be trusted with nukes.

In one of her rare moments of candor, she acknowledged after the Florida primary that she is ‘not a natural politician’,  like her husband or Obama.  So why is she running for the position of Politician in Chief?  Is it because she’s a superb, wonky tactician like her husband?  Uh-huh!  When the press were battering her phalanx of flacks, she carefully sequestered behind her security wall.  When an attack was needed, she sent out Bill.  When credibility was needed, she grasped for Barack’s coat-tails, and when that was inconvenient as in the case of the Pacific Trade agreement, she let go.  She claims to fight for the underdog, but what has she ever won for the underdog of substance? Health care, voting rights, better treatment of women anywhere in the world?  She claims experience, but where is the wisdom?  Health care? Libya? the Russian Reset? Syria?  Is her wisdom and pragmatism possibly hidden in that gold-plated speech she gave to Goldman Sachs which remains more closely guarded than her official emails as Secretary of State.  Could it be that if that text ever saw the light of day, it would reveal her to be as shallow and vacuous as the Mitt-ster?

Hillary is nothing but an avatar of women’s and minorities aspirations, but without the substance and quite possibly the will to deliver more than pious platitudes. A candidate whose image quite likely has to be re-invented every two weeks by her army of ‘advisor’s who are still groping for a credible product, isn’t much of a vehicle for progress.  An individual who has struggled against as improbable opponent as Bernie Sanders, in spite of all the advantages she amassed for her presumed coronation, must be profoundly lacking in substance.  A person, whose chief praise in recent weeks is that she has broken many barriers, but always seems to do it the hard way, is not a strong credential for endorsement.  I can’t really picture myself pitching my wares to a prospective employer with the line:’I git it done, but always the hard way’.   Endurance is fine, but competence would be better. She is the Demo-crass equivalent of Jeb Bush.  They  could make an awesome fusion ticket of irrelevance and incompetence.

On any rigorous assessment of substance, Hillary is an empty suit.  Indeed, the Empress has no clothes.

Hillary’s only claim to viability as a candidate is that, next to Trump, she looks at least sufferable, and may almost pass for presidential.  But even that may not be enough to save her if the terminal boredom or revulsion of so many independents and many in her own party is enough to deny her the critical margin for victory.

And then there’s the wild card:  The Republican Convention is July 18 to 21.  The Democratic Convention is July 25 to 28.  What if the Repugnantlan Party finally found the testicular fortitude to deny Trump the nomination on merits (or lack thereof), and installed Romney as the plug-and-play answer?    A contest between two equally brittle avatars.  But on surface, it is conceivable that Romney, an executive in private and public enterprise, could appear to have more chops than Ms Inevitability.

The Demo-crass High Command would have to assess  very quickly which old horse has the better chance.  The Demo-crass will be in the same convention dilemma as the Repugnantlans of reconsidering the ‘presumptive’ nominee, but the Repugs will have gained first mover advantage, which Mitt, the consummate capitalist, knows is critical.  Could the Hillary Horde pivot quickly to a new opponent and a new strategy?  Not likely, if two presidential campaigns are compelling evidence. Could the Democratic Party?  Probably not a prayer.

Can Elizabeth Warren save the ticket?  She would likely carry the ticket.  But if I were her, I’d be extremely wary of signing on to the HIll ‘n Bill show.

Onward.

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Never Argue with a Madman

“Never argue with a madman.  Bystanders won’t be able to tell the difference.”    Author unknown.

I happened upon that piece of wisdom some years ago on a poster entitled “Corollaries to Murphy’s Law”, and filed it for future reference.  You may have noticed (or more probably not) that I have not posted in this blog since July.  There is a reason for that.  I have watched the ongoing tragicomedy of our times unfold. I recalled the above wisdom and struggled with the question: how does one make a rational comment about the rabid irrationality that is consuming our society (the term ‘civilization’ seems inappropriate); and to what point?

Here’s a sampling of what troubles me:

There’s the Republican Clown Circus, vying for leadership of the most exceptional country on the planet.  If I were foreign friend or foe, I’d tremble at the thought of any one of them being within reach of the ‘football’ that carries the secret codes to microwave the planet.  Any of them!

Following close behind is the Republican dominated Congress where actors of less inflated idiocy incubate, waiting for their turn in the big show. If there was an appropriate application of law, the Republic leadership and its minions would be charged under RICO  or treason for criminal conspiracy to destroy the government of the United States through concerted efforts masked as group insanity.

Lagging behind but not far, is the Democratic Party which champions Bill-ary; the political equivalent of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.  Bill-ary: a person few really trust, but too many are willing to accept in order to make h(im)er the first so called female to inhabit the White House as ‘precedent’.  Forget that much of Obama’s presidency has been in one way or another involved in cleaning up messes that had their origin during the reign of Bill.  Forget that Hillary accomplished nothing of significance as First Lady; merely polished her credentials in the Senate as knee-jerk hawk to prepare  for her ‘inevitability’; and also merely put a smiley face on the nation’s reputation while racking up her frequent flier miles as Secy of State.  Can the Dems not do better than this?  Can women not do better than this?

Probably not, because what sane person of ability would aspire to positions which merely set them up as targets for media businesses masking as journalistic enterprises, driven by profit to create and sustain the public circuses that feed the profits.  Only the truly craven for whom the mask of insanity is now a tolerated facade for a public so cynical that it too has forsaken any pretext of reason for the easy gratification of raw emotion.

Nor is the political world the only circus in town.  We are watching multiple spectacles in the business world.  Unicorns, those precious mythical tech companies with inflated expectations and equally inflated valuations of $1 billion or more, are multiplying like rabbits.  I’m particularly fascinated by the melodrama of Theranos, waiting for that to unfold or implode, and wondering how all the big names on its board of directors will acquit themselves in the end. (Hint:  plausible deniability usually works, but has its limits.)

Then there’s the juggernaut of Elon Musk.  His accomplishments are more substantive, but when the media recently reported his concern that a Third World War might foreclose any hope of humans venturing to Mars, I had to wonder about his judgment.  Elon, you are far brighter than I, but I would venture that if the Planet has a Third World War, getting to Mars will be the least of our concerns, and could probably be the best thing to happen for Mars.  In fact, if we do it right, we could conceivably sanitize this planet for the next visit of interplanetary microbes in the cosmic evolutionary process.   Clean slate; fresh start.  Humanity’s final gift to the universe.

There’s the media-cracy; that contorted and perverted lens through which we gaze to try to comprehend what’s happening around us, because we’re part of the global village for better or worse, and first-hand knowledge of what’s happening in our neighborhood is largely irrelevant when all the strings are now pulled by distant puppet masters. Journalists complain about being the public’s and politicians’ shared pinata.  Most of what passes for journalism today would not have survived the editing of my high school journalism teacher.  Not for grammar or word-smithing, but for objectivity, quality content and service to the reader.

And what rant regarding communal in(s)anity would be complete without a nod to our current penchant for mass killings.  It seems that every time one occurs, which is almost weekly lately, the press reports a surge in gun sales.  Like 300 million guns on the streets and in the homes of America aren’t enough to do the job of protecting us from ourselves?  And where are all those ‘good guys with guns’ that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre promised would protect us from civil mayhem?  My guess is that deep down, even a lot of his card carrying members don’t want to live in a society where every day is High Noon at the local mall, and the family has to pack for protection.

As for mental health care being the cure for gun violence, there’s a simple solution:  Start with the folks who rush to the gun shops after every scare headline in the tabloids. Then round up the publishers and producers of media whose sociopathic inclinations motivate them to create chaos for profit. ( I won’t mention names.)

But if society is to screen likely suspects for mental illness to preempt further violence, it would seem appropriate to put the executive leadership of the NRA at the head of the list, because the idea that we need more firepower in the general populace to prevent violence of the people, by the people, against the people…. is certifiable lunacy.

Onward

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Accounting for the Dead, and Near-Dead

There’s another cease-fire in Gaza, after another blood-letting.

It is amusingly disturbing to read Hillary’s fan club in the media trumpet how this will hopefully be the foundation for an enduring settlement….like, maybe  six months? A year? Six days?

I don’t claim an encyclopedic knowledge of history, but it seems to me that many, no less gifted in diplomacy than she, have gone before her, and come home empty.  Including Bill, if I recall; the ultimate charmer.  And yet we continue to delude ourselves that something is at hand, besides more war. Or maybe it’s just another round of the media doing what it does best: creating drama where there is despair, hyping a mere mortal into a hero, only to be torn down by the inevitable crush of reality. Whatever. The beat will go on, and eventually, so will the shelling.

I concluded long ago that war was obsolete, not because it was immoral, but because it has a profoundly negative cost/benefit for society as a whole. If only the average citizen could comprehend that simple truth, many wars would come to an end far sooner than by the best moral arguments of religious leaders, other than the little ayatollahs of all the major religions who are as eager as the arms merchants to continue to feed the flames of conflict.  I came to this conclusion after Ronald Reagan, our Mythologist in Chief, embarked on a strategy of outspending the Reds on guns and Star Wars and beating them into submission with propaganda.  Many people bought into this nonsense.  But the truth, which can neither be proven or disproved, is probably much simpler.

The old Soviet Union was already disintegrating from within, much as we are now. It suffered from old, brittle leadership and bureaucracy that suffocated its capacity to react to a changing world.  Reagan could have accomplished the demise of Soviet influence and control at a fraction of the price with a robust economic development and engagement plan with third world countries, many of whom were not happy customers of their Soviet patrons.  Similarly, many of China’s foreign beneficiaries are becoming disillusioned.

But, the accountants at the Pentagon and CIA are obviously at work on new modalities of war.  Drones require a smaller footprint and no boots on the ground. And collateral damage is probably reduced, unless one happens to be the collateral damage, in which case that distinction is moot.

And now there’s cyber warfare. A cleaner form of technological warfare, we’re led to believe. It allows ‘surgical strikes’ and is non-lethal, unless of course it stumbles on some unanticipated system logic with unintended results, and breaks out of its theater of intended action.

The nice thing about cyber warfare is that it can be so much cleaner and precisely targeted than chemical, biological and radiological warfare,…until it’s not.  and we haven’t quite figured out yet how that might happen. The other nice thing from a strictly financial perspective appears to be the relatively low threshold of entry from a resource perspective. That suggests that the whole neighborhood can play; not just the big guys. The key resource is smarts.

Reading the press, the US is concerned about the policy issues and rules of warfare regarding cyber warfare.  It is wringing its hands over the risk, while quasi covertly waging it with Iran, and complaining about being targeted by China, Russia and Iran. It’s safe to assume that the genie is well out of the bottle. Perhaps the proliferation of cyber warfare capability, not only among nation-states but among all manner of non-state actors will dwarf messy nuclear proliferation in ubiquity and the threat of sending us all back to the ages when we respectively render each others’ smart infrastructure dumb.  Of course, there will always be those religious fanatics who won’t be satisfied with anything less than plague, pestilence, hell-fire-and-brimstone of a nuclear variety.  But that’s so twentieth century.

The popular rap about Vietnam was that the growing public protests changed the public will. Liberals like to proclaim that they ‘protested’ the war into submission. I’m not so sure. I was in college in the late sixties.  On my campus, perhaps 10 per cent of the student body was actively anti-war.  They created noise and changed the atmosphere, but not many minds.  The one event that crystallized the student mentality about Vietnam was Kent State.  It was the bodies of kids they could somehow identify with that made the insanity that was Vietnam tangible and relevant.  But the revolutionary fervor of that night and week eventually subsided before the realities of finals, and graduation, and a job and concerns of more personal immediacy.

Off campus, the war went on. On and off campus, the protests went on.  But I believe what really brought the war to an end was the body count.  Not the enemy’s, but our own.  Our dead, and our living dead, ravaged by drugs and nightmares and wounds physical and psychic that brought the war home to neighborhoods and families who could no longer ignore it. It worked again in Iraq, and it is working again in Afghanistan, though the counts are much lower. I suppose that’s a strange measure of progress.

I also think of Northern Ireland. What ended that war? Was it the negotiations? Or the body count?. Did the bloodshed eventually reach a tipping point beyond which sanity eventually overwhelmed hatred in a critical mass of grief?  Who knows? Have they done a poll on that?

Which brings us back to Gaza.  Devilishly more complicated than Northern Ireland on a good day.  Hillary has talked to Morsi, and both have talked to their clients in Gaza and Israel, but there are no reports of who has talked to the Iranians, who no doubt are very happy with the diversion of attention from their nuclear enterprise.  And when things settle down and the Israelis return their attention to plotting flight paths to Iranian nuclear sites, it won’t be difficult to supply the Hamas hotheads with a few more fire crackers and some inspiration to set the neighborhood on fire by proxy of Israel.

Hamas continues to act like it believes it can extinguish the State of Israel. I’m not quite convinced that the Iranians share that same level of insanity. And Israel, or at least Netanyahu, seems confident that in the worst case they can carpet bomb Gaza into oblivion in the name of self-defense and not a holocaust. I doubt that either of those outcomes will prevail, but when and how will it end? What diplomacy will bridge the gap of insanity?

None. Once again, it’s the body count.  When enough death has drained the hatred and cowardice to the point that all which is left in the hearts of all sides is the wisdom born of pain and suffering; only then will peace prevail.  But quite likely there are still too many bodies yet to count.

It’s the body count, Stupid. It’s the body count.

Onward.

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