Thursday, July 28, 2016

The table is set for millions of voters to be led into the abyss

It was reported that despite extensive evidence that the “neutral” Democratic National Committee headed by Clinton loyalist Debbie Wasserman Schultz had worked overtime behind the scenes to derail any obstacle to Hillary Clinton’s “entitlement” to the presidential nomination, “peace” with Bernie Sanders was “holding,” and opposition was “muted” during the roll call of delegates this past Tuesday.  “History” had been made, although what kind of “history” that is, well, is subject to debate, interpretation—and history. 

I suppose Sanders didn’t want to be blamed for “contributing” to a Clinton defeat in November, like Al Gore’s loss could largely be pinned on Ralph Nader taking votes from him in Florida, where Gore lost by a razor-thin margin following the right-wing partisan majority in the U.S. Supreme Court unlawfully blocking of the Dade County recount; whatever happens in this election can be left to happen on its own “merits.”

This might take some people by surprise, but given a country where white men and white women are de facto 1a and 1b in the rankings of society, I am certainly not the only person who is blasé about the fact of the first female as a presidential nominee (and potentially president), and only see it as an opportunity for the self-involved to engage in excessive self-congratulation.  I’ve quoted from the book by Emeka Aniagolu, Co-Whites: How and Why White Women 'Betrayed' the Struggle for Racial Equality in the United States, which among other things exposed Hillary Clinton as an unprincipled opportunist willing to sacrifice one well-rehearsed line in favor of a new one. As Aniagolu noted during the 2008 primaries, Clinton readily abandoned minorities and played the race card with “working class” white voters. I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that the Rev. Wright “controversy” was inspired by Clinton and her allies in the DNC. 

The past is something I cannot and will not forget. During the first Clinton administration, I recall that the sketch comedy show Mad TV—which hardly could be accused of being sympathetic to the right—frequently featured both the Clintons in skits lampooning their various ethical and moral lapses, and their deceits to escape censure; one skit even went so far as to portray a spokesperson for a Democratic group looking for “Anyone but the Clintons” to return to the White House, setting a rather low bar for qualification given the near invisible bar the Clintons had set for themselves during their first four years—and worse was to come. What has changed? Nothing--accept the media and public's willful ignorance.

And so Hillary will give her acceptance speech, which will be delivered with the usual patronizing sarcasm, rife with false promises and well-practiced disingenuousness. It will be the triumph of megalomania which will render the poverty of principle, ethics and substance moot. Last week, Donald Trump proved to be the embodiment of FDR's 1933 indictment of irrational fear--"nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Neither Clinton nor Trump have the character or principles to breach the chasm between what is said and what is done; they have made it so wide that practically everyone who decides to cast a presidential ballot in November can be counted among those ready to fall into the abyss.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Clinton supporters might think that the WikiLeaks revelations are just a "minor" detail, but Sanders' supporters have a right to think otherwise

With the opening of the Democratic Convention, raise your hands if you are “shocked” by the revelations by the latest WikiLeaks that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee were doing exactly what Bernie Sanders and his supporters charged that they had been doing from the start: employing every underhanded ploy in their power to undercut Sanders’ candidacy to insure that its “presumptive” choice, Hillary Clinton, was the eventual nominee. Unfortunately the “revelations” came far too late to make any difference in the primary outcome, and despite Wasserman Schultz announced intention to resign as chairperson of the DNC after the convention, there is little to suggest that the bad blood between the Clinton camp and Sanders diehards will be “healed” by the time it is over. Naturally, Sanders’ supporters are already being smeared for making “personal attacks” on Clinton, mainly by the hypocritical feminist and gender-obsessed crowd; but Clinton is who she has always been: corrupt, unethical and prone to lying. These are not “personal” attacks; they are the simple truth.

The released emails show that Clinton’s web of corruption ensnared most of the Democratic establishment. Wasserman Schultz and her flunkies were congenitally opposed to any “threat” to Clinton, attempting at every opportunity to steer media coverage of Sanders’ candidacy into negative territory, and persuade it to steer clear of Clinton’s long history of corruption.  Let’s not tip-toe through the tulips on this one; this was a gender engagement from first-to-last, and absolutely nothing was going to stop, this time. Barack Obama wasn’t supposed to rain on Clinton’s parade in 2008; but the DNC might have been charged with racism if it did the same thing it did against Sanders, and it just wouldn’t do to alienate the Democrats most “reliable” voters if it had been exposed that it had. This time, no one was going to prevent “history” from being made, even if the candidate happened to be the least qualified ethically, morally and even substantively. 

The email leaks proved that there were attempts to smear Sanders on various fronts, such as on his religion; A plan was floated to suggest that he was an atheist—as if the Clintons had any use for religion personally.  There were attempts to smear his “political” credibility, as if he hadn’t been battling for progressive principles for more than half a century; we need not mention what Hillary has been “battling” for. Oh, you need reminding? For her personal megalomania, and her mania for riches. Far from being an objective spectator, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC fought the Sanders campaign tooth-and-nail (or was it kick and scratch?) to deny it any leverage on Clintons’ email and fundraising scandals, in fact working with the Clinton campaign to devise “talking points” to deny, obfuscate and intimate “sexism,” which the media naturally bought hook, line and sinker. 

There was more. The emails revealed that Wasserman Schultz and the DNC—who claimed to be “neutral,” just like the Obama Justice Department—refused to grant interviews to journalists they regarded as “Bernie Bros”—meaning those critical of the Clintons’ (and the DNC’s) corrupt practices. Some reporters allowed their stories to be “pre-screened” by the DNC in order to edit out anything that might be damaging to Clinton and helpful to Sanders. The DNC apparently also had “spies” within the Sanders camp to provide “inside” information” about what Sanders was up to that might damage Clinton. There were also deliberate efforts to avoid any media interviews that included Wasserman Schultz and Sanders, in the belief that she would “lose” any confrontation between the two. So it wasn’t a “fair” fight from the start, and it is clear that Clinton benefitted from a rigged system, beginning with nearly all “super delegates” attempting to steal the nomination from any Clinton challenger (the DNC refused a challenge to the super delegate system yesterday). 

The dirty deed done, Clinton’s choice for running mate only illuminates her personal faults. She picked a “boring” running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, because she likes “boring”—or at least not “flashy,” a euphemism for not overshadowing her.  She didn’t want to share her “history” with a female running mate (she is too egotistical for that), and so she chose a male with a vanilla personality who would not be a “challenge” to her lack of real substance, charisma—or for that matter, ethics. 

The media, of course, continues to downplay the Nixon-like dirty tricks campaign played by Clinton and the DNC, even having the absolute mendacity to claim to not “understand” Sanders supporters’ legitimate outrage at the now proven effort to undercut any effort to reveal the truth about Clinton and her corrupt and unethical nature—and thus her unfitness for the highest office in the land. Her unfitness was further proven by the fact that almost immediately after Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as DNC chair for her ethically-challenged dealings whose sole purpose was to insure “history” was made in 2016, Clinton “hired” her as her “honorary chair” of her “50-state” election “program.” Besides revealing that women are just as crooked as men, and that for a woman to win the nomination unfair and foul means had to be employed, this also was a continuation of what has been made clear time and time again over the past 40 years, that the Clintons “reward” loyal behavior—that is to say, to do all their dirty work, or fall on the sword for them.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trump's legion of racist supporters need to do a little self-examination to discover the source of their "problem"

“For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance” blare a recent New York Times headline. ”In countless collisions of color and creed, Donald Trumps’s name evokes an easily understood message of racial hostility. Defying modern conventions of political civility and language, Mr. Trump has breached the boundaries that have long constrained Americans’ public discussion of race,” writes reporter Nicholas Confessore, and he goes on to provide “insight” into the psyche of people he refuses to call what they are—racists and white supremacists.  Instead he gives “credence” to their bigotry, rather than providing statistics that disprove their paranoia and self-serving self-pity. While Confessore does point out that Trump has done as little as possible to distance himself from white supremacists, the fact that his “mainstream” supporters are not offended to be put in the same basket as neo-Nazis tells much how the country has “evolved” in the age of Obama. 

We still live in a country where people are defined and categorized by their race (and sometimes gender) whether, positively and negatively, and for the most part this has less to do with “merit” than a person’s physical characteristics—the most important of course being light skinned. I’ve mentioned once or twice an incident that occurred while I was attending a Confederate university back in the 1980s that illustrates this point; during a classroom discussion that had nothing to do with racial attitudes, a very pallid, very blonde female blurted out to the bemusement of the class that “I am not a racist, but I will never marry a black man.” She reasserted that she was not a “racist.” The odd thing was not that other white people in the classroom disagreed with her, but it was something that need not be said out loud; it was commonly “understood.” But this person strangely felt self-conscious about her racial attitudes; what would have interested me is if she had actually “explained” her statement. 

White Americans in general are, we are told, afraid of losing “control” of the country. When “mainstream” racist political commentator Pat Buchanan blurted out on a discussion panel years ago that “Hispanics are out to destroy this country,” he was expressing his visceral distaste for people who were the stereotypical “little brown ones,” to use the term George Bush Sr. used, although in his case not with hate. He would probably use different terms, but that only exposes his ignorance of the “group” as a whole. Buchanan and his ilk also think that Hispanics will change the “culture” of the country. To what, one may ask; ever watch Spanish-language television?—“culturally” and visually it is almost identical to what you see on “American” television.  And to what purpose? They talk about “assimilation” or lack thereof, but that is just more hypocrisy; I much prefer the old chestnuts from the past, whether books, films, television or music which most people today have no appreciation of. Yet I recall another incident from school, when a fellow student overheard the music I listening to and sneered “That’s not your music,” as if he and anyone he knew “made” it. 

Again, it has more to do with appearance than it has to do with any other variable; otherwise they would be “tolerated.” I see this every day at the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer REI’s “headquarters” in Kent; pompous, overpaid asses sitting in front of terminals (the very definition of “superfluous”), who probably never worked an honest day’s labor in their life. But that is the “privilege” of the “entitled.” A recent weekend they sponsored a bike-a-thon, and the place looked like a Republican “convention.” And on college campuses, white students have relished the opportunity to expose their arrogant conceit by demeaning “inferior” black and Hispanic students—the hypocrisy of which is that these same students claim that under-represented minorities make no effort to seek and education, yet they deny the right to those who have the audacity to try.

Trump, however, doesn’t play so much to the privileged white “entitled” so much as to those whites who feel that minorities have received “preferential treatment” and that is blame for their perception that they have been “left behind.” The NYT story suggests that by sensing “decline,” this allegedly means that there is some “credence” to the claim. I once encountered an older white male who for some reason had this need to tell me that “You think you are ‘entitled.’” This charge angered me, not just because it was untrue both in theory and in fact, but this was coming from the kind of person who believed they are the “entitled” ones throughout history. I told this man that he was the one who thinks he’s “entitled,” and he did a double-take; I suspect he was less surprised at what I said as by the unexpected lack of “accent” to me English.

 Are white losing “control”? Not hardly. Let’s look at the facts:

“Poor Whites” existed in the South when slavery existed, and continued to exist when Jim Crow laws limited opportunities for free blacks. White laborers living on poverty wages have always existed with no “competition” from black (or Hispanic) labor for higher wage employment.  Today, both black and Hispanic unemployment far outstrips that of whites, and white median income is much higher than either. Thus there is no correlation between white lack of “opportunity” and minority “entitlement” or “privilege”—both notions are a shibboleth maintained by far-right politicians to rouse angst among their base. 

This country is not “controlled” by minorities and white liberals, but by Corporate America; just ask Hillary Clinton, who was paid $21 million in speaking fees from said same. What she promised them has yet to be revealed. Politicians are controlled by the corporations who control their pocketbooks. The only thing that politicians can “control” is the social agenda, of which taxation is part and parcel of. Right-wing politicians manipulate people’s hate, but will those people’s lives really “change” because of it? No, because Corporate America sets the agenda; Republicans are against “regulation,” but that only means allowing businesses to do as they please—like expanding the wage gap and polluting the air, soil and water. Has anyone really noticed anything “different” about the way they live during the eight years that Obama has president—or for that matter, the previous eight years under Bush? The only thing that has “changed” was level of racial anxiety among many whites. And I suspect that many whites will be surprised to learn that most blacks and Hispanics don’t believe that their lives have “improved” in the past eight years merely because a black man was president.

There are other things white racists who believe they are “losing” the country should consider. Take for instance higher education. A handful of black and Hispanic students are not their “problem”; the problem is that they have tried to set a “merit” standard so high in an attempt to deny under-represented minorities the right to a college education, yet in the process have made it also more difficult for themselves by having to compete with Asian students who are much better at rote memory—thus on standardized tests—than they are. Asian students  generally have a far higher presence in relation to their percent of the population on college campuses (what they actually do with a college education is another matter). This puts whites in the predicament that they can only attack the handful of black and Hispanic students, since if they express their angst against the real “threat,” they will be accused of “racism” for demanding special dispensation against their own “rules.”

This also goes true for higher-wage tech jobs. White American racists fear that this country will change from an “Anglo” culture to a “Mexican” culture, which shows the ignorance of racists concerning both. The reality is that White America doesn’t “fear” Hispanics taking the “best” jobs; they just fear that their hate, prejudice and discrimination will have consequences in the future, and they want to postpone that possibility as long as possible (thus the current frenzy of curtailing legal as well as illegal immigration). The truth is that White America is losing the “best” jobs because so-called “STEM” fields are increasingly being filled by the foreign-born, mainly from Asia and India. Part of this is because STEM fields are avoided by the increasing majority of students who are female, and because tech companies find foreign-born tech workers more “desirable” because they are more “available,” and they work for less. 

Who is responsible for this? Blacks, Hispanics and “liberals”? No, it is White America. White America which first decided that its own Constitution did not apply to anyone who wasn’t the same complexion as the “founding fathers,” and afterward only as they saw fit with or without civil rights legislation. It is White America which decides who is “privileged” and “entitled”—mainly themselves. Occasionally they pass out crumbs, which Trump supporters (who used to be the “Tea Party”—and before that your usual nativists and xenophobes) now want to dispose of completely. 

But those whites who believe that have been “left behind” have only themselves to blame; they made the “rules”—more likely both, and now they have to live with them, or stand accused of being either hypocrites or racists. If those “working class whites” who are the most ardent supporters of Trump (Hillary Clinton called them “hardworking Americans, white people”—to be understood as racist code against Obama in 2008)  feel “in decline” despite feeling “superior” to non-whites, they have accept the fact that they are just plain, ordinary people who just didn’t “have it.” The most likely candidates for their perceived situation are lack of motivation, undervalue of education, or just plain laziness, engaging in self-pity and racism isn’t going to change their lives. Trump rhetoric isn’t going to “fix” their “problem,” either; he is playing them for fools, and has from the start.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Clinton's shadow obscures Trump's faults

As the Republican Convention gets underway, Donald Trump, as mentioned before, strode onto a New York stage this past Saturday after an interminable delay, to officially introduce his pick for vice president, a position that seems to have more importance than is justified.  Having finally arrived, Trump launched into a rather bizarre and meandering harangue, a jumble of thoughts mostly read off sheets of paper that felt like it went on for hours. Instead of simply explaining and then introducing his pick for running mate, Trump seemed to be performing a (very) rough draft of his nomination acceptance speech. If he doesn’t round off the rough edges, he might be in some trouble. 

Other than the expected “Make American Great” clichés, which was more of the same shtick of white racist xenophobia, Islamophobia, free trade-phobia, and other paranoia, Trump hatched some new slogans and theories. His new name for Hillary Clinton is “Crooked Hillary,” although there has to be something catchier than that. Trump caught listeners off-guard when he stated quite candidly that Clinton has “Gotten away with murder.” What followed was either a “pregnant pause” or an uncomfortable silence. Was Trump trying to get people to remember Vince Foster? Of course Clinton didn’t physically “murder” him; but the irony is that Foster was one of the few males that the misandrist Hillary respected, because he reminded her of the upright lawyer Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, as portrayed by Gregory Peck in the film. 

The problem was that Hillary was a corrupt, unethical hypocrite, and it is clear that Foster felt betrayed by the Clintons when they demanded of him the task of covering-up their perfidy as a White House counsel. He could have confessed all; but his relationship with Hillary Clinton was such that he chose death instead—unlike other Clinton disciples, who’d rather merely “kill” their principles and ethics than expose the Clintons for the brutally corrupt people they are.

But I’m supposed to be talking about Trump here; some of us already know the evil that lives behind the media-enhanced façade of Hillary.  After a brief silence in which even Trump seemed uncomfortable with, he “clarified” the insinuation by addressing Clinton’s email scandal, in which the FBI allowed Clinton to “get away” without punishment. As a “side note,” it is preposterous that the FBI refused to press criminal charges against Clinton, merely allowing the public to soak-in statements made by the FBI director  about how Clinton and her associates were negligent and  “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” and  that “the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified email systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government” and “Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.” 

Isn’t it amazing that however much we want to talk about Trump’s numerous deficiencies, Clinton’s just seem more brazen and more pertinent to the conversation?

Anyways, Trump made other comments that seem more opportunistic than rooted in any principle, since he is clearly unprincipled. His call for repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment of 1954 (of which again Trump displayed his habit of not getting his history—let alone his facts—right, as he did once more in wrongly asserting that the Scots voted for “Brexit”) was aimed at the evangelicals, who supposedly have their tax-exempt status challenged if they voiced an opinion about their political preferences. This is not true; all organizations—not just religious— that claim to be “nonprofit” are supposed to be under the tax code “nonpartisan,” and they are banned from actively campaigning and contributing money to political campaigns as organizations. But individuals within those organizations are allowed to do as they wish. 

But to get back to basics, the overall tone of Trump’s speech reveals a man who isn’t particularly interested in details or facts. He certainly isn’t any more “informed” as say, the average couch potato who watches Fox News or listens to Rush Limbaugh all day. He has “opinions” about certain subjects, but they are influenced by his personal prejudices. The fact that he repeatedly had to refer to his notes suggests that his off-the-cuff style will make him look like a dolt in front of a press asking hard questions and demanding hard answers. It isn’t a reach to believe that Trump would react with angry frustration, making for a very bad relationship with the press, and no doubt this would spill over into his relationship with Congress. 

In a debate, I suspect that Clinton’s well-polished, well-practiced lies will impress voters. Trump obviously has to convince independents that he actually knows more than he’s letting on now, and that may have to include doing a little studying-up on his part. Right now, if Trump and his campaign are smart (and I’m not entirely certain they are as much as they think they are) they’ll save their “secret” weapon against Clinton for the last few weeks before the election.  They should run a series of ads, about a half-dozen or so, that chronicles Clinton’s career of corruption dating from 1974 when she was fired for unethical behavior as a legislative aid, juxtaposing her statements with subsequent investigations determining she perjured herself, time and time again.