The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

WHO’S REALLY BEEN MEDDLING IN AMERICAN ELECTIONS?

In yesterday’s post, I described writing a senior high school paper on author Sinclair Lewis.  What I didn’t mention was that in addition to being a fairly prolific novel writer he penned a large number of short stories which were primarily published in magazines.  As part of the preparation for writing my paper, I spent many hours in the main branch of the N. Y. Public Library’s periodicals room reading these.  As I recall I made my way through thirty or so of them.

Although I no longer remember the title of this particular story, there was one that dealt with causality.  It described a man who worked for a company that manufactured munitions.  He forgot to set his alarm clock the night before an important meeting and as a result over slept, catching a later train than usual and so was late for the meeting.  This set off a series of five or six different events which ultimately resulted in a revolution occurring in some unnamed South American country and a military takeover of the same.  The story was unusual for Lewis, almost science fiction-like in content.  But it does speak to the current brouhaha over Russian influence in our recent presidential election.

It would be foolish for any rational person not to believe that hostile foreign nations including Russia, North Korea, China and Iran, to name a few, would not engage in activities which they see to be in their best interest to the detriment of the United States or any other country they believe to be their adversary.  After all, wasn’t that why we so staunchly supported and financed the activities of Radio Free Europe during the cold war with the Soviet Union?  What is remarkable is that there seems to be so much surprise on the part of our elected officials that this happens.

As I recall, during the 2012 Presidential Debates, candidate Romney was asked what he considered to be the greatest threat to the security of the United States.  His almost immediate response was, “Russia.”  In his rebuttal, President Obama ridiculed Romney for his answer. So one of two things is true.  Either Romney was correct and Obama had it wrong.  Or, if Russia did not pose that threat in 2012 but now does, then the failure of U. S. foreign policy under the Obama administration has allowed Russia to become that threat.

Those who are arguing that Russia’s influence affected the outcome of the election must hold to the same simple causality that Lewis describes in his short story.  One thing leads to another to another to an unexpected outcome, as surely as night follows day.  That makes for a good story or perhaps an engaging movie – but it is not how things generally work in this world.

There are several issues in this now wide-raging debate that are not in question.

The first is there was an almost cavalier attitude toward cyber-security on the part of both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta which allowed Russia, if in fact they were the ones who actually hacked their emails, to gain entry into their systems.

The second is that no one has alleged that the emails were in any way massaged or altered before their release.  This, of course, begs the question, should the American electorate not have been allowed to see this material so that they could make a more informed decision on the candidate for whom they would vote?

The third is that everyone agrees that neither Russia nor anyone else were able to alter the actual vote totals as they were recorded precinct by precinct.

The fourth is that everyone agrees that whatever influence the alleged Russian hack had on the election results is unquantifiable – just as it would be naïve to attribute the fall of the former Soviet Union solely on the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe.

It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to hypothesize why the election turned out as it did.  Perhaps there were a lot of Clinton supporters in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan who simply were either too sick or to unmotivated to show up at the polls and cast their ballots.

Or perhaps there were some undecided voters who simply concluded that after years of Clinton controversies, whether or not anything had been proven, there just seemed to be far too much smoke so there may well be a fire burning somewhere.

Or perhaps millions of Republican voters in New York or California either never bothered to register or if they were registered didn’t vote, knowing that their vote would essentially be meaningless.  Perhaps the number of GOP voters who sat it out would have been sufficient for Trump to win not only the Electoral College vote but the popular vote as well.

But let’s talk about my adopted state of Nevada for a moment – one of those “swing states” as political pundits like to call it.  What if something specific happened here which had a far more direct impact on the election than Clinton’s emails or Benghazi or the failure of Obamacare?  What if an employer in this state tacitly suggested to its employees how they should vote in the presidential election?  That employer (and perhaps others) is MGM Resorts International.

MGM is an international corporation headquartered in Las Vegas.  It owns and manages properties in Nevada, several other states and internationally, primarily in Macao, China.  The company employs approximately 50,000 people, 35,000 of those being here in the Silver State.

MGM has a very civic corporate conscience.  It has received a number of awards from several “progressive” organizations for their support for the LGBTQ community and for minority groups, primarily Hispanics, many of whom it employs.  And what would being a good citizen be other than to support the most important right which we have – the right to vote?

During early voting here in Nevada, MGM allowed it’s employees time off from work in order to execute their franchise.  In fact, it provided free buses to local temporary polling stations so their employees could vote more easily.  All that is fine.  But MGM took this one step further.

In order to simplify the voting experience, MGM provided its employees who took advantage of their free transportation a sample ballot to take with them into the voting booth.  The problem was that this “sample ballot” contained the note at the top that “MGM recommends a vote for the following candidates and propositions on the November 8th ballot.”  The names of Hillary Clinton for president and Catherine Cortez Masto for U. S. Senate were checked and highlighted in yellow on the pre-printed form.  As it turns out, Clinton carried Nevada by a margin of  27,202 votes and Masto won the Senate seat by 26,915 votes, obviously fewer votes than the number of MGM employees who received their “suggested ballot.”  I only know this because a friend who is an MGM employee and who supported Trump in the election was infuriated about this and gave me the copy she received from her employer.

It is, of course, a moot point as Clinton lost the election.  But Masto, whose background is sketchy at best, is one of our one hundred senators and a protégé of Harry Reid’s.  With a margin in the Senate as tight as it is, her election may well make a difference.  And while I’m not sure whether MGM broke the law in providing this ballot, I believe it would be fair to suggest that if you were employed by a company that handed you a completed “suggested ballot,” you might feel pressured to vote as indicated.

We can only speculate about either Russia’s or MGM’s motivation in involving themselves in our election.  Perhaps MGM’s management simply was expressing their liberal bent.  Or perhaps they are concerned about their property in Macao and the nature of our relationship with China under a Trump administration.  That the President-Elect took a call from the democratically elected President of Taiwan the day after his election must be giving them fits.

One thing that is certain is that the 2016 election will be a boon to the publishing industry.  I suspect enough will be written about it to fill a presidential library.

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THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA

It was two weeks before the end of my junior year of high school when the bomb dropped.  There I was, looking forward to my third summer working for E. F. Hutton in their backroom on Broad Street when my English teacher informed our class that he was giving us a summer project which we needed to complete by the first day of our senior year.

Each of us had a week to select an American author who would become the subject of a paper (at least fifty pages long – double spaced).  We would be required to read at least five works by that author as well as a biography of our subject.  I immediately thought of Nathaniel West who suffered an untimely death in an automobile accident and had only written four books, one of which, Miss Lonelyhearts I had already read.  But I hadn’t really enjoyed that experience and was uncertain that I wanted to subject myself to further literary abuse by that author.

After a great deal of mental mulling I settled on Harry Sinclair Lewis – a far more prolific author and an individual with whose works I was familiar only by name – specifically Main Street and Elmer Gantry.  Somewhere I had heard that he was also the subject of some controversy which only piqued my curiosity about what he had to say.  I remembered reading a review of a biography of Lewis that had been written by Mark Schorer a few years earlier – still the definitive work on his life.

My English teacher approved my choice and after school I headed down to my local bookstore to see which of  Lewis’ works were available in paperback.  As good luck would have it, on the close out table was a copy of the Schorer biography.  Three dollars for a nearly thousand page hardback.  As my Jewish classmates would say, “Such a deal.”  I grabbed a copy together with paperback editions of Main Street and Babbitt and asked the owner to hold them for me until the next day when I would return to pay for them, which she gladly agreed to do.  Conducting business with merchants was so much more civilized and pleasant back in the ’60’s.

As there were three days of school remaining, our final exams in the rear view mirror and nothing much to do other than plan on attending the commencement program, I dove into the Schorer biography to gain a few days on the project even before we were on summer vacation.  I decided that having a bit of history on the author might help me appreciate his work more.  I finished the book early the next week – and if there was one quote I took away from it, it was that Lewis had earned the sobriquet, “The most hated man in America.”  As I began reading his novels, I quickly understand why.

Lewis’ writing was succinct, compelling and fatally cynical.  He described life in small American towns and the people who inhabited them.  To him, they were little more than plastic figures engaged in mundane activities in the pursuit of mediocrity.  Having himself come from just such an environment in Sauk Centre, MN it was hard not to feel that Lewis was implying that he had risen from that bourgeois existence and had achieved a higher plane of understanding, a greater appreciation of aesthetics and, of course, a moral superiority.

When he died suddenly of heart failure in Rome in 1951 the literary world took note of his passing.  After all, he had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 1925 novel, Arrowsmith, an honor that he refused to accept.  One literary critic headlined his column on Lewis’ demise with the acerbic introduction, “Sinclair Lewis Dead – At Last.”

For sixty-five years there have been few who have challenged Lewis’ title of “The most hated man in America.”  But one might argue that there is finally a new contender for the title, that being one Donald J. Trump, the soon to be 45th President of the United States.

Remarkably, President-Elect Trump’s campaign motto, “Make America Great Again” is in direct contrast to Lewis’ view that America, or at least it’s people, have never been great at all, a view heartily endorsed by the many cacophonous, caterwauling Trump critics. These same naysayers also assume a Lewis-like sense of moral superiority perhaps stemming from their profound adherence to atheism, a religion to which Lewis subscribed.  It is they and they alone who have an understanding of true righteousness, appropriate behavior and the correct manner of thinking, speaking and acting.

I wish I were here sixty-five years from now to see whether Trump’s optimistic view of what America can achieve will prevail.  Or whether those who view themselves as victimized members of the mindless mob will have their way.  But perhaps it will not take that long to see which side has the upper hand.

Irrespective of the facts, the word is that Trump’s opponents are already assembling to hold a regalia in which they will transfer the title from Lewis to our next president.  As I don’t have anything sufficiently festive to wear, should I receive an invitation to attend, I guess I will be forced to decline that honor.

OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE (BUT WHICH PEOPLE?)

As we come down to the wire and the general election is less than two weeks away, I look at it’s being over with a mixture of gratitude and trepidation.  Gratitude that the endless political ads will have ended – and trepidation as to the outcome.

That we have two flawed candidates (my apologies to Gov. Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein who are essentially irrelevant), from whom we must choose is rather distasteful.  But at least one of those, Donald J. Trump won his nomination fairly and squarely in a field as crowded as the Kentucky Derby and despite an entrenched Republican establishment that actively opposed him.  They lost that battle and are working hard to lose the war because they refuse to recognize a truism uttered by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “The people has spoke.”

From  a quick read of some of the revelations being supplied by Wikileaks, it’s becoming clear that Hillary Rodham Clinton had some underhanded (and perhaps illegal assistance) in getting where she has gotten.  Nevertheless, she is on the ballot and we Americans have a choice to make.  The decision is effectively a binary one – and I have thrown my support and my vote to Trump for one simple reason which the late humorist, Will Rogers so eloquently expressed:

“I am less concerned about what government can do for me than I am concerned about what government can do to me.”

There are two things we can say about Trump and Clinton with some degree of certainty.  The first is that they are both human (although extreme partisans in either camp might dispute the validity of that statement as it pertains to the opposing candidate).  The second is that they have, during their lifetimes, both switched party affiliations.

Trump claims that in order to do business in his home base of New York City, it was essential that he both register as a Democrat and contribute to various Democratic candidates in order to “grease the wheels” of commerce.  While I don’t know if that was true in NYC, I do know that was a certainty in Chicago where I spent most of my adult life.  Attempting to do business with the City of Chicago as a self-identifying Republican was about as fruitful as a man who had lost both his arms in an accident attempting to engage in a little self-abuse.

Clinton arrived at Wellesley College armed with a copy of  Sen. Barry Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative” and four years later had shed this tome in favor of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.  With her newly enlightened mindset, naturally Clinton turned her political allegiance away from her Republican foundation and joined the ranks of the militant Democrats – the purported champions of the “little people”.  But is that characterization in fact consistent with the real history of  Democrats?

Dinesh D’Souza took on this subject in his excellent documentary, “Hillary’s America:  The Secret History of the Democratic Party”. The movie is available on-line and I heartily recommend watching it by anyone who has an interest in American politics.  But below you will find my marginally edited recap – together with some additional material that I believe is relevant and important.

In 1838, Democrat president Andrew Jackson implemented his plan to remove the indigenous pre-Columbian Cherokee people from the ancestral lands they occupied east of the Mississippi River, relocating them to what is now the state of Oklahoma.  The Cherokees called this “The Trail of Tears”.  Of the estimated 15,000 men, women and children who began that march, it is estimated that 4,000 perished en route.  Jackson was no friend of “diversity”.

The year was 1861.  In South Carolina, Democrats fired the first shots on the Union garrison at Ft. Sumter beginning the Civil War.  The reason for the salvo and the primary motivation for the Confederate onslaught that took more American lives than any other war in which this nation has been engaged since it’s inception was the preservation of the institution of slavery.

It was the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln who wrote and spoke the words of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves from their bondage.  It was Democrat John Wilkes Booth, the active agent of a covert conspiracy who fired the fatal shot, killing the president.

In the Reconstruction Era, Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the newly freed slaves and discourage them from exercising their newly forged freedom.  The tactics that were employed included whippings and lynchings.  Although this original hate group soon died out, it saw two later reincarnations -revived in both cases by people who identified as Democrats.

In 1878, U. S. Senator Aaron A. Sargent introduced a bill that was destined, forty-two years later, to become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution – granting the right to vote to women.  Not one single Democrat in the Senate voted for this legislation and it had to be re-introduced two more times before it met the requirements to be voted out of the Congress and given to the states for ratification.

The year was 1942 and Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the War Department’s Executive Order 9066 which authorized and resulted in the internment of more than 110, 000 Japanese-Americans who were legal residents in the United States.  Of these, more than 20,000 were U. S. citizens.  This complete violation of the Constitutional rights of these individuals was upheld by a majority Democrat dominated Supreme Court.

A significant number of the ads which are being aired in Nevada and, I presume, in most other states, portray Trump as a person who is “unstable” and should “never be trusted with the codes that could launch our nuclear weapons”. Personally, as a child of the cold war, I remember my many nightmares in which, despite our air raid drills at school and the yellow and black signs on our public buildings indicating that they were “bomb shelters,” none of these made me feel secure.  That humanity has both developed and continues to stockpile a sufficient quantity of these weapons effectively to destroy all life on our planet still causes me to shudder.  But what is the actual history of the deployment of nuclear weapons?

The year was 1945 and Germany and Italy had been defeated by the Allies.  The war against the Japanese Empire continued.  Despite the advice of his military advisors, including Dwight D. Eisenhower who would succeed him in the Oval Office and who advocated for a naval blockade of the Japanese islands, Democrat President Harry S. Truman gave the order to drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and two days later on Nagasaki.  Although there are no exact statistics of the number of people who were liquidated immediately when the bombs fell or who subsequently perished from radiation poisoning, the estimates are that at least 600,000 people died, making these the most devastating two days in human history.

In its historic decision in 1957, the Supreme Court struck down school segergation, a policy that was typical of the discriminatory anti-black laws which Democrats had championed in the South.  In Arkansas, a state in which Hillary Clinton should later become First Lady, the scene was set for confrontation as Democrat Governor Orval Faubus intended to resist the Supreme Court’s ruling.

At Little Rock Central High School, formerly an all white school, nine black students had enrolled for the new school year.  When they arrived at school they were greeted by angry crowds.  President Eisenhower summoned Faubus to the White House to demand that he call in the National Guard to ensure the safety of these students.  Faubus declined to do so, ultimately causing President Eisenhower to call in the 101st Airborne to ensure the students’ safety and to control those who protested the integration of our public schools.

Republican President George W. Bush has been widely excoriated for engaging in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which more than 7,000 American service people have died.  Part of that criticism comes from the fact that among the dead enemy were additional people, euphemistically called “collateral damage” who were civilians including women and children.  That is tragic – but we should be used to this sort of tragedy as it happens every time violent conflict occurs.

But in contrast, our fourth bloodiest conflict, exceeded in death count only by the Civil War, WWII and WWI, the war in Vietnam, vigorously pursued by Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson, makes these recent sorties look like a nice day at a church picnic.

We lost 58,209 servicemen in Vietnam with an additional 1,643 MIA and presumed dead.  Perhaps the turning point in the mindset of Americans who originally supported this war, came about not only as the numbers of soldier deaths mounted but as the media began reporting on the way in which the war was being pursued, specifically that we were using napalm as a tool to “flush out” the Viet Cong.

Napalm is a gelatinous compound that burns through almost anything in which it comes in contact – including human flesh. This iconic Time Magazine photo of a naked nine year old girl and her friends who had napalm dumped on their village in 1972 might have been the most gripping of any picture taken in Vietnam or perhaps any war.

 

File:TrangBang.jpg

 

And there you have it … a somewhat concise history of nearly two hundred years of how Democrats have addressed the questions of race and women and bringing about peace through diplomacy.  It hardly squares with the propaganda about “inclusion” which is one of the central themes of their talking points.  Is there an explanation?

At the beginning of D’Souza’s movie, he speaks with a fellow prisoner in his jail.  (D’Souza was convicted and sentenced for improperly making a ten thousand dollar political contribution to a friend’s campaign).  In light of the information coming out from Wikileaks about monies being moved around to support a failed Democratic candidate for the Virginia Senate – amounting to close to three quarters of a million dollars – whose husband is the number two person in the FBI and had oversight responsibility into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email illegalities, D’Souza’s offense seems rather like small potatoes.

His fellow inmate was a con artist.  And as though it had been lifted directly from Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” if the truth about his con were uncovered and the facts revealed that his con was a sham, D’Souza asked, “How do you deal with that revelation?”  His answer was, “Lie, lie, and keep on lying.  Never admit to or give up the con.”

Hillary Clinton has lied and lied and lied and has never given up her con.  And that’s precisely why I cast my vote for Donald J. Trump.

LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN WITHHOLD THE FIRST VOTE

John 8:1-7 (KJV)

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

(Apocryphal addendum)

At this point a rock flew past Jesus’ head and hit the woman squarely in the stomach.

Jesus looked up to see who had cast the rock and said, “Oh, really Mother.”

The question of Mary’s status had been debated by the Doctors of the Church until Pope Pius IX in 1854 issued an encyclical promulgating the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, thus requiring all those in communion with the Roman Catholic Church to accept Mary’s status as a person who was conceived without sin.  Please forgive the somewhat irreverent  conclusion to the well-known story of the woman taken in adultery – but if one accepts Pius’  ex cathedra encyclical, it is theologically sound.

Fortunately for those of us who are not theologians, there has been no debate over the fact that all the rest of us have flaws, are sinful and are redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (or so we Christians believe).  That would, of course, include candidates for public office – even for president of the United States.

The two presumptive presidential nominees prove daily in the tabloids and other news media, neither of them is a candidate who any reflective person would support with unbridled, unquestioning enthusiasm.  Perhaps the greatest difference between this and previous election cycles is that the turpitude of the candidates seems to have reached a new apex – or, if you will a new nadir.  Notwithstanding, there are mathematically only those two choices and one will emerge as the leader of what is left of the Free World for at least a four year term.  How did this happen?  Because we as a collective people and nation have chosen to ignore the obvious warning signs of a nation in decline and, rather than attempt to rectify the sins of the past, have chosen a path of apathy until the proverbial wolf comes to our own door.  That time has probably now come.

Seldom in my experience have I ever worked for and voted for a presidential candidate with unbridled enthusiasm – though it has happened.  Like most people, the media find it more titillating to expose the flaws of a prospective office holder and that is the information to which we are primarily exposed.  Negative news stories work to increase circulation and viewer ship.  Positive stories, if they appear at all, are buried deep in the recesses of the paper and have no interest to those who believe social media is a reliable source of information – which they aren’t.

So the alternative in most elections is determining who is the lesser of the two evils, holding one’s nose and ruefully casting a vote for the candidate who is qualified by his or her opponents’ even greater concupissance.  This year promises to exemplify that way of determining my vote – except that this is a year on steroids.

“It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic, and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville

Whether we like it or not, politics is at the core of each of our lives.  If we vote for someone who brings about rules and regulations that adversely impact our day-to-day existence, vote for a more enlightened opponent who is defeated or, worst of all, choose to pretend that how we are constrained by government is simply not important and choose to try to validate that opinion by not participating in the political process by not voting, there will be consequences.

In the last two presidential elections, most of us conservatives were presented candidates by the Republican party who in only a limited way appeared to champion our core principles.  Yet, most of us sucked it up and voted for them anyway because the alternative, Barack Obama was so odious.  It truly disturbs me that Gov. Mitt Romney, one of the least conservative people within the GOP is now on what I can only take as a personal vendetta to bring down the presumptive nominee in the general election, Donald Trump not only by withholding his support but by trying to find a candidate who would be the sacrificial lamb spear heading the efforts of a third party run, thus assuring Hillary Clinton’s election.

It is at the least ironic that Mr. Romney who withheld his tax returns until Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) got up on the Senate floor, lied and said that “he had information that Romney hadn’t paid a cent in taxes for years” only then put out his own returns and is now squawking so loudly about Trump’s returns .  (Frankly, I think this is a red herring issue – but, of course, the media loves it).  What a hypocrite.  Romney would better serve the Republican party and, more importantly the county, by insisting that the Clinton Foundation explain publicly the changes they made to their returns which, after scrutiny from outside organizations, forced them to amend and refile multiple years.

I’m not sure that Mr. Romney ever heard the old adage about people living in glass houses – but if he missed it, he might consider my version, the title of this piece:

LET HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN WITHHOLD THE FIRST VOTE

HEALTHY SKEPTICISM

It was 1972 and the Democrats had settled on Sen. George McGovern as their nominee for president to face off against former Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  McGovern felt certain that Ted Kennedy or some other well known, prominent Democrat would readily agree to fill out the ticket in the VP spot.  He was surprised that all of those whom he asked declined his invitation.

After culling through other possible Democrats, McGovern was advised by the Massachusetts head of the Democratic Party that he would support the candidacy of Sen. Thomas Eagleton (MO).  The McGovern camp approached Eagleton who agreed to meet with the candidate for an interview.  The two got on well and McGovern settled on his choice for the second slot on the ticket.

Shortly after he became the vice presidential nominee, news leaked that Eagleton had been hospitalized on three separate occasions for depression.  During the course of his hospitalizations he had been given shock treatment to treat his condition.  The prospect that, should he happen to become president, these conditions might impair his judgment as the nation’s chief executive, caused McGovern to remove Eagleton from the ticket, replacing him with Kennedy in-law, Sargent Shriver.

In the Electoral College, the only votes the McGovern/Shriver ticket garnered were cast by the Massachusetts and DC delegations. Remarkably, the senator did not even carry his home state of South Dakota.

There have always been frivolous if not outright deceptive comments made about a presidential candidate which emanate from the other side.  Harry Reid made totally fabricated statements about Mitt Romney’s “non-payment of any taxes for ten years” and when he was confronted with the fact that Romney had delivered copies of his returns showing that he had paid income tax replied, “Well, he didn’t win did he?”  That’s just politics at its slimiest – and who better to engage in that then the senior senator from Nevada.

There are serious matters of character which rightfully should be examined by the voting public.  Naturally, people on one side will try to get maximum mileage out of any gaffe, slip or past indiscretion which they can attribute to the candidate of the other party.  And the hyperbole of electioneering unfortunately allows people to make allegations which simply are untruthful.  That’s why we now have “fact checkers” to correct mis-statements.  But the fact is that while many of us might have seen the untruthful ad containing these assertions, few of us read the story that the information and accusations contained in them were lies.  That’s why most political ads, at least the most effective ones, are negative in nature.

Back in 1972 there was not the immediacy with which information could be communicated.  It was far easier for a candidate to fail to reveal a negative event or trait which was part of his background and hope to escape detection.  That was the route that Eagleton took – failing to disclose his hospitalizations and the reason for them.  But the information came out and that ended Eagleton’s short-lived berth as the number two person on the Democratic ticket.

McGovern acted decisively in having Eagleton step down.  I never agreed with McGovern’s policies, but I do believe that he was a man of integrity.  No doubt, taking Eagleton off the ticket was self-serving, a move which McGovern must have felt would improve his unlikely chance of winning the election.  But I also suspect that he was concerned about the future of the country should something happen to him, Eagleton became the president and then have another of his depressive episodes.

Hillary Clinton is under scrutiny on issues that seem, at their root, to question her honesty and integrity.  That is the case whether the question is about whether she failed to take appropriate steps that might have resulted in a different outcome in Benghazi; why she maintained a private unsecured server and then deleted half of her emails; and whether foreign donors and governments might have bought influence while she was Secretary of State.  Those investigations should be conducted and the facts should be made public without the interjection of partisanship.  The presidency of the United States is too important to hand over to anyone because they make nice speeches or belong to a particular gender.  The past seven years have made that only too clear.

But, as with Eagleton, there is an even more fundamental issue that has been significantly neglected by the press – the question of whether Ms. Clinton is healthy enough to be president.

You may remember that she was to testify before the Benghazi Committee in 2014 but suffered a fall, injuring herself, and was granted a change in date because of this episode.  In his newest book, “Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary,”  prolific political author, Ed Klein asserts that Ms. Clinton has experienced a number of small strokes and, as is not unusual with women her age, might be expected to experience more in the future.  He describes her feeling fatigue as she hits the campaign trail and having bouts with insomnia.

In fairness to Ms. Clinton, Ed Klein could hardly be described as a fan of hers and I’m sure that the book is slanted to open questions into the state of her health.  I would not accept his statements as absolute facts which are beyond dispute.  But on the other hand, I’ve seen enough footage of Ms. Clinton stopping to make speeches and meet voters at small assemblies to have noticed that she does look rather haggard.  That might be understandable were she in a hotly contested primary race – but that simply is not the case.

I would hope that the media would look into the state of Ms. Clinton’s health more thoroughly so that we don’t have another Thomas Eagleton moment on our hands.  The people of this nation deserve a president who is, at the very least, healthy enough to discharge the duties of the office.

Whether Ms. Clinton fits that description – well, at the moment I’m maintaining a healthy skepticism.

SMOKE, FIRE, HILLARY

Many years ago a friend who was studying to be a rabbi put forth an interesting situation and asked my opinion.  This was the scenario he presented.

You’re driving home on your way from work.  As you pause at a stop light, you see smoke rise in the sky.  It appears to be coming from an area where your home is located.  Almost in an involuntary way you exclaim, “Oh my God.  I hope that isn’t my house that’s on fire.”

The question my friend posed was, is that a moral thing either to think or say?

Naturally, the basis for this conundrum is that you certainly don’t want your family, your home or your possessions to be in danger.  But the implication is that you are perfectly content to be spared that loss and let it fall at the feet of one of your neighbors.

My answer was that even though I might have made the statement it didn’t imply that I wanted someone else to suffer a loss.  I simply hoped that there was nothing more than a garbage can on fire and that neither my nor my neighbors’ houses were threatened.

Over the years there’s been more smoke surrounding Hillary Clinton than can be seen at all the restaurants in the country which specialize in barbecue.  And as the adage goes, “Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire”.  Unless you listen to Ms. Clinton and her camp.  I’m startled that wherever she goes the locals don’t declare that it’s Christmas for all the driven snow she brings with her.

Being a lawyer, Ms. Clinton naturally is drawn to a defense which is based on the law – and the fact that none of the allegations leveled against her have been “proven” – yet.  Part of the reason may be that among other allegations that have most recently surfaced about her method of doing business as Secretary of State she may have destroyed or attempted to destroy the evidence which might convict her if this matter actually goes to a court of law.

The latest flak is coming from the fact that in a small sample of emails which two IG’s randomly chose, ten percent were found to contain material that they determined contained “Classified” or “Top Secret” information.  And now the legalisms begin.  The Clinton camp is claiming that while those emails are “now” thus categorized, they weren’t at the time they were sent to then Secretary of State Clinton.  Of course, all of this would be moot if Ms. Clinton had followed protocol and conducted her correspondence on a government server.  But even that is beside the point.

Let’s think about the position she held for four years.  She was the second most important person in government who had responsibility for foreign affairs and ultimately safety at home as it might be imperiled by groups like ISIS.  One has to ask the question, was she so cavalier in maintaining an unsecured server because the only correspondence she anticipated receiving was the “Daily Sudoku Puzzle” or because she was exchanging cookie recipes?  If that is the case, it’s no wonder that our foreign policy during her watch has turned into such a shambles.

On the other hand, one would expect that a functioning Secretary of State would be privy to information, some of which would have been sensitive if not downright dangerous should it fall into the wrong hands.  Wouldn’t a rational person, entrusted with such a responsible position do everything in her power to make sure that information was secure?

So whether or not Ms. Clinton broke the law and might be prosecuted for dereliction of duty there is a far more fundamental question which anyone who is thoughtful should ask.  Is a person who exhibits such poor judgment as Secretary of State the kind of person we want in the Oval Office?

That’s not a matter of partisanship.  It’s a matter of common sense.

SCHUMER SHENANIGANS

Last Thursday, the seventeen announced candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination responded to a hard and probing set of questions posed by FOX News anchors.  By my account, most of those participating acquitted themselves well in the exchange.  Frankly, while there are several of these candidates whom I would prefer, I have not come to any decision yet as to whom I will support in the Nevada caucus that will take place early next year.

One of the most extraordinary statements to my way of thinking, came not from the debate itself but as a response to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D – NY) statement that he will not support the Obama/Kerry Iran “deal”.  The comment came from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who himself opposes this deal and praised Schumer’s abandoning the president’s camp calling the New York senator, “statesmanlike”.

Personally, I like Governor Huckabee.  He projects an image of honesty but I am a little put off by the enshrouding wrapper of religiosity.  Perhaps that’s a matter more of style than substance – but it’s one characteristic which places him in my lower tier of candidates based on the rampant “humanistic” world view held by a large number of American voters thus making me question his electability.’

Perhaps it’s because Governor Huckabee himself is an honest person that he made his statement of praise for Sen. Schumer, believing that the man who is likely to be the next leader for his caucus after Reid’s ‘retirement” was sincere in his heartfelt opposition to the Iran deal.  But that is, in my view, an expression of naiveté on the Governor’s part.  As partisan as present Minority Leader Reid is, Schumer is amply qualified to fill his shoes.  He is not a statesman but the consummate politician.

There is no doubt that Schumer was pressured into his position because of the amount of opposition from his Jewish constituency who clearly see Iran as a threat to the state of Israel.  And his decision has reliably evoked the outcry from the far left who would support Obama if he declared himself Emperor and who believe Schumer’s decision makes him unqualified to be the Democrat Senate Leader of the next Congress, a position to which he is likely to ascend.

Before Schumer made his statement, I have no doubt that was preceded by extensive conversations with members of his caucus to be certain that there were enough sheep-like Democrat senators who would hold together and refuse to override a veto from Obama if the Congress turns down the deal, which seems likely.  So Schumer momentarily accepts the abuse of the far left as part of the drama which is the Washington Waltz.  He appears “statesmanlike” while knowing that his vote is irrelevant.

If Schumer is truly a “leader” he will exert all his influence to convince members of his caucus that his, not the president’s position, on the Iran deal is correct.  That the deal is a danger not only to Israel but to the United States and the civilized world.  That’s a very big if – one that I sincerely doubt will happen.

And as to Governor Huckabee – I have to question a person’s ability to lead what’s left of the Free World if he is so easily scammed by one of Washington’s most adept, adroit and duplicitous politicians.

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