Political Theater Insults My Intelligence

In the race to the 2016 election for President of the United States, two major stories have been brewing as of late:

1- Conservatives disowned Donald Trump because of his most recent misogynist commentary.

2- Joe Biden is contemplating a presidential run, in no small part because his late son reportedly encouraged him to do so.  (How convenient that his son’s wishes became public!)

I would like to say categorically that both news stories are a load of BS.  Let’s review, shall we?

Mr. Trump is no newcomer to the world of misogyny.  The GOP knew about him before he was allowed on stage at last Thursday’s debate.    I could be kind of cynical and claim that they’re turning their backs on him now because it makes them look good in the face of Democratic assertions that they’re pursuing a “war on women.”

Stupid is as stupid does.  (Photo credit: Michael Vadon)

Stupid is as stupid does. (Photo credit: Michael Vadon)

Fortunately for you, I’m more cynical than that.  Right now, Hillary Clinton is widely assumed to be the eventual Democratic nominee.  And then there’s Mr. Trump who claimed at the first debate that his financial contributions to Mrs. Clinton have allowed him to call her when he likes and get whatever he wants from her.  If I’m the GOP, I want Trump around as long as possible but not as part of my organization.  It used to be the case that a third-party run by Trump would have cannibalized the campaign of any Republican candidate in 2016.  Now, however, keeping Trump relevant means the GOP nominee would have a very simple way of painting Mrs. Clinton as being under total sway of the wealthiest Americans.  Just play that debate video over and over as a political commercial and the Republican nominee most likely wins.

(Un)fortunately, Mr. Trump isn’t smart enough to realize that he undid his “leverage” over the GOP with that comment.  On the other hand, he might get his leverage back by eventually making comments about Hillary Clinton’s vagina.  Since Bill Clinton always seemed to be interested in every vagina other than his wife’s, comments by Trump might finally succeed in making her likeable.

Scary thought, huh?

Of course, Mrs. Clinton is not a sure thing to win the nomination.  DJ Gaffemaster Biden may defeat her.  Or maybe he won’t have to.

Let me ask you all a question: does anyone other than the Clintons seriously believe that the NSA has been keeping surveillance on all Americans EXCEPT Hillary Clinton?

Here’s a second question:  does anyone seriously believe that the Commander-in-Chief hasn’t contacted the NSA (part of the Department of Defense) to find out about all of the security issues that are presently being debated?

If Hillary Clinton did something that would make her unelectable, Obama and Biden are two of the only people who would know about it already.    The House investigation of Clinton is probably just political theater that’s trying to get information publicly that they already have.  And Biden’s preparations are probably a political necessity whether he likes it or not.   A credible candidate on the Democratic side (and Biden is credible in spite of everything) keeps the looniest of the loonies from winning a presidential election by default.  Sorry, Mr. Cruz.

Moral of the story: you don’t get the real story.  You only get the narrative that covers up whatever information cannot be released to the public at the present time.  Even if my speculations about Trump and Clinton are wrong, it’s still the case that all sorts of backstage shenanigans are more consequential than anything you “learn about” on the news.

Stop being a gullible sap.

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Cultural Ignorance Insults My Intelligence

Quick… can you tell me what country this windmill comes from?

It's as though the blades were twisting in the wind.

It’s as though the blades are twisting in the wind.

If you’re smart, you’re probably thinking it can’t be from the Netherlands… unless you believe I’m pulling some reverse psychology on you.  Or perhaps those Dutch windmills are more diverse than you imagined.

This reminds me of when Barack Obama was “helping” with Chicago’s unsuccessful bid to win the 2016 Olympic Games.  He claimed that the United States’ uniqueness lies in its diversity (unlike those homogenous countries like India, the Netherlands, and the eventual winner, Brazil).  In turn, he touted Chicago as a city where people from across the globe could go and meet people who look just like them…

because the purpose of the Olympics and of travel in general is to avoid encounters with people who aren’t like you.  Right?

And so maybe you can see yourself in someone or something of another ethnicity or race or nationality.  For instance, a Dutch windmill might enjoy meeting this foreign Swedish windmill at the Skansen museum in Stockholm.

Pacifists Insult My Intelligence. Ariel Sharon Did Not.

It takes a warrior to make peace.  (Sorry Cindy Sheehan.  That’s a warrior, not a warrior’s mom.)

As you may have heard, the former Israeli military leader and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died today after a lengthy coma.  These days, he may be best remembered in the U.S. for his promising efforts at a true peace with the Palestinians that were derailed by his stroke.  For those of you who don’t know, he had also founded Israel’s hardline conservative party and abandoned it late in life to create a more centrist alternative.

[Photo Credit: Jim Wallace, Smithsonian Institution]

Sharon is the second major world figure to die recently, the other being Nelson Mandela.  If we put these two next to Barack Obama and John McCain, we can learn much.

I can already hear the cries of outrage that I would put those four men’s names together.  To placate the protesters, I’ll offer a small hint about the rest of this post and you can sing along if you like:

One of these men is not like the others.

One of these men just doesn’t belong.

Can you tell which man is not like the others

By the time I finish my song?

Let’s review, shall we?  Sharon forged a broad consensus among Israelis for peacemaking solutions they would never have accepted if the proponent weren’t so credible on national defense.  Much of the Right wouldn’t cross their war hero and Sharon’s agenda pleased much of the Left.  You can see the same thing with McCain’s opposition to torture and Mandela’s peaceful activities after he was released from prison.  (Let’s not forget that Mandela had endorsed violence before entering prison and the government offered him an earlier release if he would publicly denounce the use of violence.  He shrewdly refused the offer.)  All three men are known for their willingness to use violent tactics, which made their recommendations against such acts more meaningful.

(None of this is meant to disparage nonviolence for social change, such as MLK Jr. used.  I am not a dunce.)

On the other hand, guys like Dennis Kucinich lack credibility among everyone but his fellow pacifists because we all know that he’d have to be smoking some (different?) mushrooms to suggest anything but a non-violent solution.  For guys like Kucinich, the solution precedes the problem and therefore the solution will always be the same.

Sadly, the reverse is true as well: it takes a pacifist to make war.  Look at Barack Obama, the agent of “hope and change” who Amnesty International recently designated a war criminal.  When Bush was making war, Democrats and much the media never ceased the criticism.  Now that a liberal is performing the same (or worse) misdeeds as George W. Bush, Obama’s allies in the media and the Left have become largely quiet while the non-libertarian-leaning Right has no reason to complain.  Obama the “pacifist” can get away with more war than Bush ever could, at least in the eyes of U.S. voters.

So… Obama was the man who’s not like the others.

Nevertheless, I wish Sharon would have adopted two of Obama’s typical actions to make his peacekeeping activities more effective: eating healthy and exercising.

The world needed Ariel Sharon a little bit longer.

“Return of the Obamacare Jedi” Insults My Intelligence

Darth Vader ready for Candy

Darthbama feels he deserves a piece of everyone’s candy. (Photo credit: Wandering Eyre)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy not so far away, Darthbama, son of fellow war criminal Darth Cheney (who had become too old and feeble for that heavy mask), had successfully beaten back the Tea Jedi Rebels, who in turn were headed by his son Cruz Skywalker.  (I apologize, but someone had to be the protagonist.  Joeda was out of the picture because Princess Leia Skywalker Clinton viewed his continued visibility as threatening to her future political prospects.)  In their previous encounter, Darthbama had promised the Tea Jedi that they could keep their spaceships after his minions had blown them to smithereens.  You see, Darthbama was the most arrogant warrior in the universe and he used his Hopenchange ™ laser stick to brainwash his opponents.  Or so he thought because, as need not be repeated, Darthbama was arrogant and his tactics did not always function as planned.

Besides the revelations of his obvious lies, Cruz Skywalker had neutralized Darthbama’s strong point.  Darthbama had become commander by becoming a postracial villain.  People supported his ascent as a way of shielding themselves from the label of “racist,” although they forgot that all commanders become black in that ridiculous outfit.  Suddenly, Darthbama had lost his advantage to a newcomer who similarly made his supporters feel racially sensitive.  Neither man demonstrated much wisdom, nor were they good at negotiating or compromise.  However, they both possessed spectacular skill at getting under the skin of Oboehner Wan Kenobi.

And so the two opponents decided to meet.  Before I describe the meeting, I should mention that neither man attempted to bring a substantive resolution to the Intergalactic Subcommittee beforehand.  The vote would have been along party lines: R2, D2 (with C3PO abstaning), meaning that nothing would have moved forward… as usual.  The powers usually granted by Air Force One were not with them and they stuck their tongues out at each other like little children.

Ah yes, they were two little children at the center of intergalactic power.  Their meeting place was old, but well lit, and evidenced the presence of former commanders on every wall.  The two “men” raised no weapons for fear of damaging the antique furniture but Darthbama, in his infinite wisdom, uttered one lone sentence to his adversary:

“Cruz, I am your father.”

With that, the heavens opened, incandescent lights beamed down, and the truth became known to all.  This slogan, conveniently merged with a classic movie scene, came to epitomize interforce relations on that planet.  While people chanted the line not knowing its true meaning, a select few recognized in that line how idiotic the public discourse had become.  Ironically, Cruz Skywalker was Darthbama’s figurative son because both men lacked competence for positions of power and could do little more than exchange snide comments.

Blogger’s note: I apologize for the lack of plot in this fictional work.  Little ever happens in this intergalactic setting and I didn’t want to bore you.  If you wait a few decades, there may be some progress to report.

Obamacare Will Insult My Intelligence Again

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

Unfortunately, this pen may kill more people than a sword. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve already expressed irritation at how the unemployed in many states are still shut out of health insurance under Obamacare and I’d like to thank everyone who shared that post.  Since it went over so well, I’d like to behave like the movie studios and create an inferior sequel.  Maybe I can cash in once again.

So…

By now you’ve surely heard of the millions whose old insurance was cancelled because of Obamacare and who could not afford the new alternative.  An article in today’s Los Angeles Times opens with a fair assessment of Obama’s response to this problem:

With millions of consumers getting cancellation notices for their current health plans, President Obama announced Thursday that he will encourage insurance companies to continue offering their customers the same health plans next year.

You read that correctly.  Mr. President is “encouraging” insurance companies to do something.  As we all know from the 2008 financial meltdown and auto industry bailout, businesses always respond to “encouragement” from politicians, especially when the recommended actions seem to conflict with their financial self-interest.  Thank you Mr. President for taking decisive action.

But let’s look at this more closely, shall we? Obama has just allowed people the opportunity to keep their insurance for one more year before they face the same inevitable result of losing it… conveniently after the 2014 elections.  Congratulations Mr. President on your shrewd political move.  You now get to look like you have a heart, just like the Democratic senators who are supporting a bill that would permit that same one-year extension.

These good feelings may not last long.

The Republicans, erstwhile defenders of the insurance companies, are already demanding the permanent repeal of the minimum requirements that caused people to lose their old insurance.  They will correctly point out that Obamacare will remain unaffordable in a year for those millions of people.  And then, if they’re not completely incompetent, they will produce the most audacious defense of the insurance industry we’ve ever seen:

We want these minimum mandates repealed permanently because we support universal health insurance.

Thank you Mr. President for giving us a country in which the insurance industry’s wishes are the least horrible option before us.   And thank you for giving us major legislation that you now have to “encourage” businesses to circumvent.

Motivation Insults My Intelligence

English: President Barack Obama with the Nobel...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize only four years ago.  When pressed on the issue of why the committee had selected someone who had just taken office, people praised Obama’s departure from Bush-era policies and hoped the award would influence him to carry through on his promises.

(My regular readers are probably already wondering how I’m going to pull this topic off in my typical nonpartisan way.  I don’t blame them.)

So let’s review: A Democratic president won the Nobel for expressing disavowal of his unpopular Republican predecessor’s policies.  So: politics as usual and telling the people what they want to hear is Nobel-worthy.

I don’t bring this up to attack Obama.  Now that we’ve had the NSA controversy and drones and the continuation of Guantanamo Bay and similar things, I believe we can learn a lot from reviewing the Nobel Committee’s discredited motivations.

Most significant is the presumed ability to influence others who may have loyalties and beliefs one hasn’t considered.  This isn’t limited to the Nobel committee; I’ve seen it in my personal life as well.  “If we embrace you, you will consider yourself one of us; if we exclude you, you will realize the evil of your ways.”  Problem is, how many of us process self-reflections based on what a single individual (or group) believes?

Yeah, yeah, I know… peer pressure and all.  But it’s one thing to urge a person to do something and a completely different action when people assume that their opinion will be decisive.  After all, everyone has many voices clamoring for their attention.

Megalomania, anyone?  Classical and operant conditioning only work when you give me a treat or a punishment.  Your opinion of me counts as neither.

Of course, the Nobel Committee has something that the people in our daily lives do not.  The Committee can reasonably expect to be admired to at least a small extent.  But when people turn their backs on those who express views they disagree with, operating under the assumption that their disapproval (or approval) is meaningful to the person being ignored, someone needs to call the asylum. The people who do this only reveal their incapacity for dialogue and, in so doing, they become less credible people to take cues from.  As we can see from Obama, a person’s words, actions, and beliefs can change independently of the praise or criticism that emerge from so-called influential people.  In healthy individuals, motivation comes from the inside.

Ironically, Obama is no longer telling the American people what they want to hear… and the actions he’s promoting aren’t Nobel-worthy.  So perhaps the Nobel Prize is just a huge popularity contest after all.

“Popularity contest” isn’t the worst thing I could call the Nobel, so I’d like to close with a bit of dark humor.  Here’s the official announcement of Obama’s win from the Nobel website.  The committee’s clairvoyance will startle you:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Oslo, October 9, 2009

So who’s ready for an international party in Syria?  Maybe the U.N. will spring for drinks.