The Last Great Conspiracy Theory?

 

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Have we reached the last great conspiracy theory? We have been watching a conspiracy theory tennis tournament play out between the Democrats and the Republicans at least since 2012. The Benghazi tennis ball has been smashed back and forth for ages because the damning revelations were supposed to be timed to interfere with the 2016 election. Finally the anticlimactic report of the last Benghazi investigation (we hope it is the last because it’s costing the American people big bucks) concludes that all evidence suggests that Hillary Clinton was not guilty of any wrongdoing in this devastating attack in Libya. There was no assistance that could have arrived in time to save our people in Benghazi and Hillary Clinton was not, as many stated, asleep at the most crucial moments.

The fact that Hillary Clinton used a private server while at the State Department was the one juicy piece of info that came out of the Benghazi investigations. The Republicans put the Benghazi investigation to rest because they gleefully imagined that Hillary would be indicted by the FBI for something, treason, I guess. This seems a rather hyperbolic outcome to wish for given that it would suggest that Hillary is a seer who knew that the attacks in Benghazi would happen when she became Secretary of State and planned in advance to cover her tracks. But it sort of fits the Lucifer label that Republicans tried to attach to her at the RNC last week. (Republicans have a thing about Lucifer – they are so paranoid about the UN that they speak of something called the Luciferian Church of the UN, which does not exist.) I suspect they are saying that if Hillary is Lucifer on earth she could have known about the Benghazi attacks in advance. If you have to use this kind of bizarre reasoning to get where you want to go wouldn’t it seem that it is time to backtrack and start over, or just be quiet?

So now the GOP is left with just one more tennis ball to bat around and they must try to make the volley last until Hillary is tarred and feathered just before people go to the polls because Republicans cannot win this election without sliming their opponent, considering the caliber of their own candidate. This final round of our conspiracy tournament involves the Clinton Foundation and the arms deals made by the State Department while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. It is possible that these are two separate spheres that simply look like they overlap (a simple conflict of interest), or it is also possible that there was collusion between Bill and Hillary and that her arms deals while in the State Department were actually tied to the donations made to the Clinton Foundation. I have spoken before about the difficulty with seeing simple cause-effect relationships in complex matters. You must carefully connect the dots to prove that the money given to the Clinton Foundation was indeed used to influence arms deals in the State Department. The optics are bad, but is there actually any connection?

I don’t recall a time when we have had a husband and wife team where each partner had aspirations for the Presidency of the United States of America. Had the times been different for women would Eleanor Roosevelt have made a great Presidential candidate? Possibly. But that moment did not happen. But we are fifty plus years past those days. We now have a past President, Bill Clinton, doing his post Presidential best to help save the people on the planet from poverty and exploitation. And we have Hillary Clinton who believes she can do a good job as our first female President. I assume Bill Clinton’s goals are altruistic. Others assume he is using the Clinton Foundation to increase his personal wealth and bankroll his wife’s election campaign. People who hypothesize about this know that such activities are illegal and yet they believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton are so powerfully connected and privileged that they will not only steal from a charitable foundation with the family name right on it but also that their guilt will be covered up by powerful people. That all sounds pretty diabolical. But is it true?

Furthermore the argument goes on to say that Hillary drummed up contributions for the family charity while she made her rounds as Secretary of State and that she traded State Department arms deals for those contributions. There are the charts hanging out on the internet that look pretty damning.   http://www.ibtimes.com/clinton-foundation-donors-got-weapons-deals-hillary-clintons-state-department-1934187

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Yikes! I can see why people get all exercised over this. But just because events are contiguous does not prove a cause-effect relationship. If there is a true cause and effect connection between these two sets of data then perhaps Bill and Hillary Clinton should be in jail. But, even though Hillary’s judgment was called into question on the email server decision, it would take some pretty stunningly unrealistic rationalizations for the Clintons to sell arms through the State Department in exchange for campaign contributions from foreign governments and make those funds look like charitable donations. Why would anyone expect to get away with something so blatantly illegal when contemplating a run for the highest office in our nation? I still do not accept that the Clintons are corrupt enough to plan and execute a scheme like this. I believe that the Clinton Foundation is Bill’s project and does have charitable goals. I also believe that Hillary did not go around the globe trading ostensibly charitable contributions from foreign governments for arms offered to foreign nations by the State Department. Connect the dots if you can. If you can’t retire the ball and get off the court and end this third round of the great conspiracy tennis tournament.

 

 

Donald Trump is Deranged: The Details

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Once again I argue that Donald Trump is deranged. His derangement takes several forms. He is, first of all, a certifiable megalomaniac (see narcissistic personality disorder). People with this disorder are sometimes leaders because their ego drives them to destroy all obstacles in their path, but they are usually too selfish to share power with anyone. While Julius Caesar began his governance of Rome by heading a republican form of government, he soon became disillusioned with the Roman senators and he felt that he towered over them in every way. He became “dictator in perpetuity” and the Fall of Rome began. (By the way, he was also assassinated,) Donald Trump is just such a man. He does not have equals, only underlings.

He is not the right person to head a Democracy. He does not even believe in free speech unless it praises him. This should be frightening to all who love America and what we stand for. If he gets elected I will be scared to speak against him. Is he just a verbal bully or is he a true thug who will use power like a weapon? We don’t know, do we? I was only ever nervous about speaking out against two other Presidents – Nixon and G W Bush (because of his henchmen) – both Republicans.

The Republican Party seems to think that in order to keep order in America we must flirt with fascism. (Donald Trump acts like a fascist.) They don’t like people who speak softly even if they do carry a big stick. They want to be sure the world knows that any leader they back will talk tough and use that big stick, with malice, at the slightest offense. The problem with this is that our biggest stick is actually a nuke, which Donald Trump refuses to say he will only use under the most dire circumstances.

Donald Trump is a deal maker, which in his case, means that he will do almost any sleazy old thing as long as it is marginally legal. So he tells Americans, who think our government is taking care of so many undeserving people that it can no longer take care of them, that he will build a wall – that he will kick out all the freeloaders. And he will bring back all the jobs. But if he can’t do these deals, he will not mind disappointing his followers and he will do different deals which they may or may not like. That is the true “Art of the Deal.”

Trump seems to have the emotional maturity of a child. Name-calling, cheap taunts, foolish nicknames, these things may look like they send opponents scurrying but his targets only disengage because if they fight back they have to lose any gravitas they might ever have in the future. Donald is a junk yard dog who will keep throwing dirtier dirt until his temper tantrum gets him what he wants. He may seem to win but he really just sets his “phaser” to stun and those he vanquishes decide to walk away and live to fight another day.

I understand that the things he promises look appealing to some. He seems like he can bring back simpler times when Americans were predominantly Christians of European origin who spoke English. His followers seem to yearn for this and believe that he will basically give them back the America of their childhoods. The world has moved on however, and it will most likely prove impossible for Donald Trump to produce an American future that corresponds to his fantastical promises. The 21st century is what it is and that is what we must learn to participate in and we must prove that we know how to thrive even as our world changes. As for Donald, if he is President I hope he gets good meds. If he is not elected he can be as eccentric as he pleases. He is wealthy enough to get away with it.

Donald Trump is Deranged

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Donald Trump is deranged. It is covered over right now with engineered speeches, teleprompter puppeteering, suave political management, and a boring running mate, but the crazy is still in there. We already got to listen to it for an entire primary season. The Republican National Committee now has Donald Trump tied down like Gulliver in Lilliput (Jonathan Swift). Donald Trump will either break free at some point and invite us to his rave once again or his children will be running our government with the able (that’s sarcasm) help of another intolerant throwback to the 50’s, Mike Pence, his VP.

Media

How did he, Donald Trump get this far? I blame all of the media, currently very busy denying they had any part in this. And even more, I blame their bosses who, I am sure, insisted they televise every move Trump made in the primaries because the ratings were through the roof (today’s version of the events the Roman Coliseum was designed for). We know this happened because the print media and the broadcast media have both kept us informed about the money Donald didn’t have to spend. Commentators on every network got to relax and let Donald script their shows for them in his shockingly unscripted way.

What does it matter now who is to blame? We are apparently stuck with this nightmare scenario. However, it does still matter. The media, even the liberal-leaning media, likes to paint Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as being somehow equally awful. Sometimes Hillary even has a slight edge over Donald. I don’t know what your favorite channel choice is, but mine is MSNBC. At least once in almost every hour of every day someone on Morning Joe, and Meet the Press Daily, and Andrea Mitchell’s show, or even the new Bloomberg offering goes on and on about Hillary’s unfavorable and untrustworthy ratings and sums up, ad infinitum, the (unproven) sins she committed that have earned her the low ratings. I have never seen anyone so maligned for so little. Even Donald Trump is not so consistently assigned to the suddenly proverbial burning dumpster and he has done and said some truly reprehensible things.

So, although it seems clear to rational folks that Donald Trump should never be the President of the United States of America here we are watching a week long pretense in the form of the Republican Convention that seems to say that what we are witnessing is a normal and traditional election, when we could actually be witnessing the end of America as we know it. The entire charade is shameful and without the endless media circus might never have happened. Do you job, media people, and make sure that you find a way to repair the damage you have done before it is really too late, if it isn’t already.

The State Department and Hillary Clinton

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I want to make another argument on behalf of Hillary Clinton – surprise, surprise – because I just don’t feel that we are using the correct perspective to examine this issue of the “emails”. I also know that what I am suggesting is not an understanding that is written anywhere, or one that perhaps has ever been mentioned before. However, given the unusual nature of the position of Secretary of State, and given that due weight has not been given to how the State Department operates in the digital age, I feel that there are some extenuating circumstances that affect whoever holds this position and that there needs to be some discussion about the role of the Secretary of State.

I am suggesting that the position of Secretary of State is unique because the Secretary of State is rarely in the State Department in Washington, D C but is traveling constantly to near and distant locations. I am arguing that, for this reason, wherever the Secretary of State is, the State Department goes with her or him. So if the Secretary is on a plane, the bubble of the State Department goes along. If the Secretary of State is in a hotel room, the State Department is there. If the Secretary of State is with a foreign leader or a group of foreign nationals, the State Department is there. When the Secretary of State is in his/her home office, the State Department is there. I would argue that Hillary did not ever remove documents from the State Department because wherever she went the State Department was there. As long as Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, the State Department and Hillary Clinton were inseparable.

If her arrangements threatened national security the threat does not seem to be greater than that to any other system, including government systems. We do not have a way to make our digital networks completely secure at this time. However, given that the Secretary of State takes the State Department with her/him at all times, government security should reach to all digital equipment in the Secretary’s home and equipment carried abroad.

It seems to me that we need to update government agencies to operate in this digital age much more than we need to prosecute employees who take it into their own hands to set up systems that work without undue complexity. I also do not believe that Hillary lied to Congress about receiving or sending classified emails, especially now that we are aware of the inconsistencies in the classification system. I believe it was shown that she only sent emails to people who were classified, although some nasty soul pointed out that her assistants handled emails and they did not have clearance and her lawyers read her email and they did not have clearance. (I’m sure that has never happened before.) Hillary will have to explain why she said that the State Department knew about her private server, but if she is always the head of the State Department then it seems that her home office is simply an extension of the State Department and the same attention to national security is observed at her home office either in Chappaqua or in Washington, DC as would be observed at the State Department in Washington, D C.

I still believe that this issue is being blown out of all proportion because of the 2016 election and the Republicans who are having a hissy-fit because it looks like all their careful plan to capture the Presidency and possess the power in all three branches of Congress seems to be thwarted at every turn, reminiscent of the Road Runner and Wiley E Coyote.

The FBI is being used by the GOP, but the FBI has limitations. However much we may trust them to be nonpartisan, they can only conduct investigations that are narrow in scope and defined by the limits of the task they are given. The FBI cannot look at the big picture and analyze all aspects of this particular situation. The GOP can keep giving them new directives forever and if there is even a whiff of wrongdoing then the FBI will have to investigate. But the optics are that the GOP has the FBI playing fetch. (Good dog.)

 

Shooting Black Folks Must Stop

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How will we solve this problem that our nation is having with our police shooting black folks who are either guilty of nothing or of committing a petty criminal act? The list grows and grows. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling and many, many more. It looks like the police are on a secret campaign to rid themselves of black people. It looks intentional. There is a certain consistent order of events. Someone defies authority in some small way and this defiance is used as an excuse to escalate, to get the man or woman who dares to fight back verbally or act defensively to look guilty of something. Then someone off camera shouts “he’s got a gun” (not usual when women are being apprehended). Then the shots ring out and there is no need for a trial or imprisonment or any official routine because the person is dead. Surprisingly the body cameras which these officers wear are often off or aimed in the wrong direction when events reach their terrible denouement.

I understand that law enforcement becomes more and more complicated as the inequalities in our culture are exposed to the light of day. I know that there are those in our communities who have committed criminal acts to get ahead when traditional pathways were closed to them. I get it that there are some mean folks out there who would as soon kill a policeman as any other human being who they felt was threatening them. I suppose that mistakes will be made. However, when the “mistakes” seem to occur frequently and when they seem to follow a certain pattern it would appear that some action plan is called for to make it stop.

If black people are not being targeted we must at least face the bad, bad optics of these now-all-too-familiar shootings with their attendant grief and loss. There are echoes that go back to slavery with people hunting down their runaway slaves. We must stop doing this. We must find some new ways to help our policemen and women fight crime in our communities without executing people who seem to hardly qualify as the most dangerous people on our streets. I believe that if we can’t find a way out of this brutal and unjust law enforcement behavior that peaceful demonstrations will eventually turn into angry outcries. We know that the police involved will be investigated and we know how the investigation will end. If we find our police guilty in these cases we undermine their authority.

This relatively new pattern of picking off people one-by-one is exacerbated by our guns everywhere policies enforced by the gun industry and the NRA and a Conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment. The complications and divisions present in our culture at this moment will make it difficult to resolve this issue. Anger is the emotion that seems to be driving current events. It doesn’t matter because these shootings and the fact that they seem to fall all too often on Americans of color is a stain on our nation that could eventually destroy the freedom that is the pillar of our Democracy.

The work must be done in our communities and what we must provide young Americans of African Descent and poor Americans are pathways to a better future so that they will not be forced into antisocial behaviors by circumstances that make their lives difficult and seemingly without value. We don’t need to talk any longer about doing this. We do need to talk to plan what we will do. Then we need to put our money where our mouths are and carry out our plans. Our plans will not be perfect. It is the very nature of humans that we are cannot be perfect. We can’t allow ourselves to be so nervous about possible negative effects that will appear down the line. We must earnestly try to solve the inequalities in our America or America will fail.