Orbiting Dicta

Category Archives: Politics


EMAILS GALORE

Dear Hillary,

I sympathize. The whole email controversy is a sham for one thing.  For another, Bernie was right.  The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your (expletive deleted) emails.  Well, many are.  I’m particularly tired of it.  But if it weren’t this, it would be something else.  Someone is surely trying to find the word “Benghazi” in those thousands and thousands of undeleted and supposedly deleted and deleted emails.  Comey of the FBI seems particularly interested, which is not surprising, since he has been trying to hang something damaging around your neck from the time he was a special counsel back in 1996 to the original Senate committee investigating (wait for it… drum roll, please) the Whitewater Affair. I think he was a Republican then.  He now says he’s independent. Like Bernie. But not very much so.

They didn’t find any wrong-doing then, and so far, they haven’t found any in the other areas under investigation. Not that they will stop looking.  Ever.  But for many in our country where one is presumed innocent until proved guilty, if there’s smoke, even fake smoke, there has to be some fire, even if in fact there are only mirrors.

My sympathy is not groundless.  When I just checked my three regular accounts, the total of undeleted emails is now 45,175, even though I just deleted 60 more and try to delete a hundred every day.  (I rest a bit on Sundays.)  At this rate, it will take me 14 months to delete them all, but I receive about 100 more every day, so I am not making much headway.  Most of those come from political action committees, virtually all of whom are seeking money from me. Small bits — $3 or so.  But these emails have multiplied like rabbits on Viagra.  I unsubscribe, but they come back, like bill collectors or people pushing bible tracts.  So that’s also why I am not making much headway.  And if someone asked me about whether there was a (C) in some of them, I’d have to do a global search, because I don’t recall.  I really don’t. I think you’ll understand.

P.S. I am told that the word “galore” comes from the Irish go lear which means “to the brim.” That is, “enough!”  In fact, more than enough.  Time to move on.  Don’t go all defensive.  You’re a piker compared to me.

THE VIEW BACK HERE: PRESS FREEDOM

Back in the US after several months in Lebanon and Ireland, I haven’t found it hard to figure out why people abroad worry about the political process here, specifically how anyone could seriously support the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. In the English-speaking area (Greater Britain and Ireland), he is perceived as a raffish buffoon, a blowhard with a grotesquely inflated ego who has somehow managed to lure millions of angry, mainly white voters into his camp despite a series of monumental gaffes, lies, and outrageous misinterpretations of the world situation.  In a couple of cases, I had to argue that he was not simply a stooge somehow planted by the Democrats to assure Hillary Clinton’s election.

French and German commentators alternate between disbelief and astonishment.  No one seems to take Trump seriously, but they do find the prospect of a Trump presidency to be an appalling proposition.  Here in the US, Trump’s latest frenzy is directed at the “media,” especially it would seem the New York Times.  He is again threatening to revoke the reporters’ press credentials.  If he were president, say somewhat like Recep Erdogan, he might even shut a few presses down if he found them critical. Even short of that, Mr. Trump seems to have forgotten in his enthusiasm for the Second Amendment that there is a First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press.  Or perhaps he missed a few civics classes in high school.

DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY

If Senator Bernie Sanders can’t calm down his avid and angry fans, he could do down in history as the man who elected Donald Trump president.  Hillary Clinton may not be the ideal candidate, but as presidential timber, she’s many board feet ahead of the competition.  Plagued by her political (and personal) opponents for almost a quarter century, she was routinely exonerated by independent counsel Ken Starr, and was exculpated for misconduct in the Benghazi attack and the deleted emails controversy.  Her most recent nemesis, FBI director James Comey, a “former Republican,” was a special counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee that tried to lynch Clinton in 1996.  What a coincidence. He failed again this year to find anything actionable, but didn’t stop short of smearing Clinton anyway. When did “Republican values” become an oxymoron?  But then, it is an election year.

The View from Here: Brexit

Britain’s decision to exit the European Union has dominated the news for three days now, threatening to eclipse even the final Euro games in France – but Ireland’s scrappy team faces the French on Sunday, and all eyes will turn toward Lyon for a time.  But Brexit will return. And return and return.

The Exit Referendum is the most important decision regarding the European Union of the last twenty years and from all accounts likely to be the worst. It has already cost David Cameron his role as Prime Minister, but he would have lost that anyway.  However, the likelihood of an economic recession in England, financial turmoil in Ireland and the rest of Europe, and the destabilization of the political situation in the third most densely populated region on the planet might have been avoided.

Cameron’s decision to hold the referendum to please UKip and Tory backbenchers on the heels of a fledgling economic recovery following the debacles of the previous decade was a ploy to hold onto the reins of power, but will no doubt enter the history books as a monumental miscalculation.

Not only Cameron himself, but with a few exceptions, leaders of the other major political parties were against the decision to leave, as were the business community and the populations of the largest cities on the island as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Only five of London’s thirty-three boroughs voted to depart. In favor? A broad scattering of small-town dwellers, the rural population, Wales, and a lot of elderly voters influenced, it seems, mainly by a fear of immigrants coming from central Europe and the Middle East.  Ironically, England’s withdrawal from the EU will have little immediate impact on refugees from the Middle East who are covered by a different set of treaty obligations.  Immigration from Europe has, on the other hand, strengthened England economically and socially.

What the departure will most likely achieve is, first of all, impeding travel between Britain and the continent and Ireland, which has the only land border between the UK and the rest of Europe. As England is Ireland’s major trading partner, all this could seriously damage Ireland’s economic recovery.  It will also affect the financial situation by restoring customs procedures, tariffs, and other taxes not to mention delays in the transport of goods to and from Europe, including Ireland.  But it may also provide incentive for other dissident groups in the EU to consider withdrawal, further unraveling the greatest economic union on earth.  Will it hasten the remediation of the sometimes oppressive regulations and procedures that have bogged down EU participation?  That remains to be seen, but the possibility exists that it might have the opposite effect or simply none at all.

There is mention occasionally of calling a second referendum, as was done when French, Dutch and Irish voters rejected earlier EU treaties and prompted reconsideration, ending with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007.  Over a million signatures have been appended to such an appeal in England as of the latest count.  Still, the chances of success at best seem dim.

Bottom line: as the Irish are wont to say, it could always be worse. It’s just hard to see how at the moment.

Nation of Immigrants

The irrepressible Mr. Trump has again demonstrated that he is capable of turning a bad thing into a good thing, at least for himself, converting the nation’s largest mass shooting into an opportunity to spread anti-Muslim hate speech. But there is a little problem about consistency in his attitude toward immigrants. In Trump (or should I say Drumpf?) World there are, it seems, both good immigrants and bad immigrants.  Bad immigrants are those Mr. Trump/Drumpf doesn’t like – especially Muslims and Mexicans.  Good immigrants are from nice places like Scotland and Germany, where his mom and grandparents were born.  Yes, the Donald is the son and grandson of immigrants.  His mother, Mary Anne McLeod, came to the United States in 1930 and became a U.S. citizen in 1942.  His grandparents settled in the U.S. back in 1905 after leaving Kallstadt, Germany, although Donald lied about that for years, claiming they were Swedish.  It’s all on Wikipedia, folks. The ancestral name Drumpf was changed to Trump either during the Thirty Years War or in 1885. But what’s in a name? But just think, if the U.S. had stricter immigration laws, we wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of a  xenophobic, hate-mongering, self-serving president named Trump.  Or Drumpf.

The View from Here

Irish eyes are fixed this weekend on France, where on Monday the home team will face off against Sweden in the UEFA football (read: soccer) championship games which opened in Paris Friday night.  A lot of attention has also been devoted this week to the funeral of Muhammad Ali, who was greatly admired here, where boxing is a national passion. Ali’s humanitarian and civil rights work was not overlooked and in fact probably overshadowed his athletic achievements in the eyes of many.

Almost absent at the moment are thoughts of the impending visit of Donald Trump, coincident in just over a week’s time with that of Vice-President Joe Biden.  The people of west Clare will be happy to see him.  Trump’s investment in his “magnificent” resort-hotel complex a few years ago brought needed employment and income to the area.  Money talks.  But elsewhere, Trump’s views have been denounced as sexist, racist, bigoted and generally outrageous.  The Taoiseach (read: prime minister), Enda Kenny, has made no pretense of loathing Trump’s positions on a host of issues.  The Green Party is considering protest marches, while calmer heads consider that a general snub might be sufficient.

Ireland is Clinton country, having benefited enormously from the efforts made by Bill Clinton to steer business to the beleaguered north in particular during his presidency.  But his popularity in the Republic is also undimmed.  His visits are greeted with a hero’s welcome. The Irish are not naïve about human foibles, but they are also acutely sensitive to political thuggery. And there lies the difference.

Road War

Backtracking on his promise not to take “the low road” unless Hillary did so first, Donald Trump launched a pre-Mother’s Day attack on both Clintons that was on a road that can’t descend much lower (Ted Cruz may still hold the title of low road-runner, however, after his astonishing personal attack following the trumping he received in Indiana).  But perhaps the billionaire property developer was just reacting to the news that a Muslim had been elected Lord Mayor of London by a sizable majority the day before.  Or that “El Chapo” had been moved to a prison just across the border from El Paso… it’s difficult to tell.  But we will no doubt hear about it soon enough.  The corporate media outlets seem happy to offer the presumptive candidate yet more free air time.

No, despite his repeated pledges, the leopard has not yet changed his spots.  The question is, can he?

The Lesser of Two Evils?

Although the first of the wildly expensive party conventions is still a month away, voter fatigue seems to be settling in.  I wonder if many will still care enough to vote in November… In the meantime, as the Democrats seem resigned to having Mrs. Clinton seal her bid for the nomination, Republicans are torn (sometimes literally) between competing candidates.  Discounting John Kesich (which seems to be the order of the day), the race is getting down to what one observer called accepting the lesser of two evils.  But which one is that?

 

Trumped Again

Wysiwyg…or, in terms more understandable to a contemporary electorate, What You See Is What You Get.  Or maybe not.

We are now informed by the Republican National Committee that what millions and millions of people thought they saw in Donald Trump was just a ruse or, in more partisan terms, a sham, a lie.  His profanity, incendiary rhetoric, posing, strutting, grimacing, shouting, and did I say profanity? – all a joke.  He will now seem more presidential, we are told. Seem, madam? Nay it isn’t, at least according to Trump, who is not about to molt his on-camera persona. He’s having too much fun.  But at whose expense?

Ted Cruz seems to be enjoying the masquerade, or the real Trumpishness, and has lowered his own rhetoric into gutter humor about cross-dressing and, well, lying. Ah yes, wysiwyg.  June will soon be bustin’ out all over, however.  Perhaps an end is in sight.  Or will it be a new beginning? Will the leopard change his spots? Or more to the point, can he?

 

The Triumph of Capitalism, No. 87

Biometrics indicate that (western) bodies have grown generally larger over the last 50 years. Airlines passenger seats noticeably haven’t. More oversized customers have in some instances even been required to pay extra fare for double accommodation. Lawsuits have entered the picture, some by irate patrons who found it an infringement of their rights to have their neighbor’s body parts flow over the armrest into their purchased personal space. It is annoying, especially on very long flights.

America’s airlines (and some European carriers let it be known) have responded not by enlarging seats proportionately, but by making them smaller in order to squeeze more passengers into increased numbers of rows and, needless to say, reaping the financial rewards for such aerial sadism. Welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism…

P.S. It was not reassuring to watch Bernie Sanders morph into Donald Trump this week – “Well, she started it!” And your muthuh weahs army shoes… nyah, nyah, nyah. Thank heaven for PBS’ sane and sober Charlie Rose, who may have put a stop to the descent into the playground politics so fascinating to segments of the GOP. But how strange to have TV newsfolk becoming the adults in the room.