‘American Made’: Why Clinton Lost in 2016


Ok. It took me a while. But this movie is about Barry Seal? For real?! The same Barry Seal who was at the heart of the dirty deal Bill Clinton did with the CIA when he was Governor of Arkansas? Apparently so. But, very considerable sanitized.

Which is my allusion to Hillary. The fact that the Clintons got up to this kind of s**t. And then thought no-one would ever notice the trail of crap they left behind them. Not unlike Pig-Pen of Peanuts fame.

The film is probably worth watching. Even with all the juicy bits censored out. Unless you just hate Tom Cruise.

But. The real story (and I spent some time researching it for my book) is that Bill cut a deal with the CIA. To allow Mena in Arkansas to be used to run drugs into Central America. To fund the Contras. In return for ‘assistance’ in becoming President.

And, if you think US intelligence does not involve itself in the US Presidency, then you’ve not been paying close enough attention to the Trump-Russia story. Or to the Reagan ‘October Surprise.’ The Carter years. And the Kennedy assassination.

In any event. The movie should be a huge giggle. They’ve done it as a comedy. And it reminds me, one more time, why Democrats have such trouble winning the Presidency. We need to find better candidates …

Published in: on October 1, 2017 at 4:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Returning Mrs. Trump’s Book Donation


Ok. If my fellow liberals truly want to understand why Democrats are in trouble. Even with Mr. Trump in the White House. Then the whole saga of the school librarian who returned Mrs. Trump’s book donation with a snotty letter sums it all up.  By the numbers:

1) I have no time for any Trumps. Not even the females. Although. Hands up. If I found myself alone on a deserted island with Ivanka for a year. I’d be spending a long session with the family priest in the confessional. Upon my return to civilization. But, that said, my politics would not have changed.

2) It is an absolute nonsense for anyone to suggest that education ever has been or ever will be devoid of politics. Whoever is in the White House. Ain’t ever going to happen. I grant you that.

3) Mrs. Trump may not be the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree. But she is the First Lady. And she is trying.

4) The letter from this school librarian is the most inappropriate, pompous, unnecessary, ivory-tower, I-know-better-than-you, arch piece of trite, political propaganda I’ve ever seen. It owes nothing to concern for children. And is merely a naked attempt to embarrass someone with whom the librarian does not agree politically. I’m sorry. I’ve been the governor of a British elementary and middle school. And this letter makes my skin crawl. It brings back nightmares of all the teachers and administrators with whom I fought, and who were way more interested in school-kids being politically correct, rather than well-taught in the basics, and happy.

5) I know the federal Department of Education is under the control of the ‘enemy’ at the moment. But when it was under the control of the Obama Administration, there were some 62 million voters who believed it to be under the control of a different enemy. As much as we can, we really do need to try to keep too much politics out of the classroom. There is a time and a place. And on this occasion, under this Administration, their Department of Education signed off on Seuss, and signed off on the schools to which the books were being sent. Find a political path to make your political point. But not with the First Lady. Play fair. Be grown up.

6) There are many different ways this could have been handled. The books could have been returned to the Department of Education. The books could have been forwarded privately and honorably to a school the librarian thought would be more deserving. The fact that an alternative path was not chosen. The fact that the option chosen was designed specifically to receive a lot of publicity. By embarrassing the First Lady. Demonstrates that the tactic had nothing to do with education. And everything to do with cheap politics and misplaced political correctness.

I say again. If this is the sort of stunt we Democrats think is going to win over independent swing voters. If we truly believe that these voters are not intelligent enough to recognize a cheap political gambit when they see one. If we genuinely take the view that whole swathes of voters are suddenly going to feel safer with an overactive, Democratic, Seuss Policewoman than with Betsy DeVos (as obnoxious as she is), then there is next to no chance we will ever gain the trust of the voters we require. And we deserve to lose in 2018 and 2020.

We progressives need dramatically to grow up. And to do so fast. Besides, I was raised on Dr. Seuss. It really is time to give the whole trigger, call-out, over-hyped snowflake thing a rest.

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Published in: on October 1, 2017 at 4:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Title IX, Betsy DeVos, ‘Balance’


The Trump administration announced today that it is rescinding Obama-era school sexual assault guidance and issuing a question-and-answer document while a formal review is undertaken.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said a new direction is needed to balance the rights of the victims and the accused, and said in a statement today, “As I said earlier this month, the era of rule by letter is over.” The highly contentious shift under Title IX affects all the nation’s colleges, universities and K-12 schools.

Ok. I’ll wade out into the deep water again. I do not pretend that I understand every last nuance. But I did spend 12 years living in or near a major college town. I have heard. I have read. I have spoken. I have debated. But, that said, I will try to stick just to my principles:

1) A crime is a crime. I do not think we need new crimes in this instance. The level of proof in a crime is ‘beyond all reasonable doubt.’ I do not believe that should change, or be seen to change.

2) Is there a problem with men misbehaving in life, let alone campus? Yes. Should it be a consideration that men are generally, physically stronger than women? If women can get over that fact, then my answer is ‘yes.’ Do I accept that there is a possibility that, for this or other reasons, there is a likelihood that acts of sexual misbehavior by men are under-reported? Yes. Should we do something about this? Yes. Oh. And should this include sexual acts by men against men? Yes.

3) If there is a preponderance of evidence that a particular college or school is ignoring the concerns set out in (2), should the funding for said college or school be affected? I would say ‘yes.’ How? Don’t have a clue.

4) Am I happy with the notion that there be some sort of ‘lesser’ proof, involved in some forum other than criminal? In this regard, we have had some sort of experience of this in the college town in which I lived for 12 years, being Chapel Hill, NC (seat of the University of North Carolina).

I would say this. If two parties decide they want to settle a difference between them by mutually agreeing to some sort of forum other than criminal, then that is their business.

I do not believe that there should be any process that forces this on one or other of the two parties. And, if they do agree mutually to this alternative forum, then they have to abide by its outcome. Including any non-disclosure agreement.

In the case of UNC, if my memory serves me correct. There was some form of alternative forum. One of the parties (if not both) did not like the outcome. They then broke the non-disclosure agreement. Seriously affecting one or other or both of the parties. And one of the parties sued as a consequence. And there was an outcry.

Beyond that, I am in some difficulty over any concept which withholds funding from a college or school because it does not introduce a mandated form of process which demands ‘lesser proof’ for misbehavior involving sexual assault and which process has the power to levy a punishment upon an accused which has about it the appearance of criminal punishment.

As for sexual harassment. We have laws already. They are and should be extraordinarily subjective.

For all the reasons mentioned above, and from my own experience as an advocate, in corporate and non-profit situations, a man needs to be doubly and triply careful never, ever to behave in a way with women (or men), especially if alone with a woman (or man), that can be misinterpreted by the woman (or man) as harassment. The ‘both being drunk’ dictum does not and should not apply.

It is incumbent upon colleges and schools to make this concept absolutely clear in an affirmative action policy. Absolutely clear. Clear about what is harassment. Clear about the subjectivity. Clear about the consequences.

If a woman (or man) complains about being harassed by a man. And there is no third party witness. The accuser’s complaint has precedence over the accused. Period. The accused should be reprimanded. Without exception.

If a college or school does not have in place such an affirmative action policy, expressed in these blunt terms, then it should suffer the consequences.

Should the reverse be true? As in, can men complain about sexual harassment by women? Yes. Should the same consequences apply? Probably not. Why? Again, at the risk of incurring the wrath of feminists, um, grow up.

The fact is men are assholes. They can create far more harm with their sexual misbehavior towards women (or gay men) than the reverse. Sometimes, you just have to argue nature in order to get an appropriately judicious outcome.

If there are any feminists (or, indeed, gay advocacy groups) out there who find fault with my reasoning, then you shouldn’t be pushing for Title IX in the first place. It is necessarily subjective. In favor of women (and, I would argue, gay men). I support that. Sometimes, you just have to let a guy open a frigging door for you. Get over it.

One last point. What about women who find themselves alone with a guy? Sigh. Don’t? We’re talking college. These things happen. It’s not always possible for a woman (or a gay man) just to walk out. It is always possible for a guy (the ‘active’ guy) to do the decent thing and back off. For that reason, some sort of subjectivity has to exist. But within reason. With balance.

A sensible forum, whether criminal or not, will be able to determine that reason, that balance. We have to trust something.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Plame, Clinton, Anti-Semitism, Hysteria


Oh Matthew, give it a rest. On the subject of public discourse in the US being distorted by some folks censoring anything they don’t like with a mindless -ism. By the numbers:

1) I have no idea whether or not Plame is an anti-Semite. Or just an idiot. Who didn’t read an article carefully enough, before re-Tweeting it. I deplore people who feel the need to hate. I deplore all -ism’s. Say what you mean. Don’t use a slogan word.

2) My source in Israeli Intelligence told me that the West would never understand Israel’s relationship with the Middle East until the West appreciated that the Israeli right-wing (which has been in the political ascendant since the late Seventies) is not interested in peace. It wants victory. Um. Anyone out there currently excoriating Plame feel like endorsing Netanyahu, so as not to look like an anti-Semite?

3) The same source told me that the Israeli right-wing feels it is perfectly entitled, in pursuit of victory, to wage war anywhere in the world, including the US. By whatever means. Subterfuge. PsyOps. Propaganda. Political interference. Whatever.

4) One of my sisters was for ten years married to an American who is Jewish. I think he may himself have been born outside of the US. My former brother-in-law describes himself as a socialist. He abhors what the Israeli right-wing is doing. He is not an anti-Semite. I agree with him. And I am not an anti-Semite.

5) Folks who know no better get three things confused: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Priory of Sion, and Zionism. Go look up all three. Actually, buy my first book, which was beautifully distilled into its commercial version by my wonderful publisher, RA Kris Millegan. Buy that book (Dead Men Don’t Eat Lunch). And you can learn all you need to know about the difference between the Protocols and the Priory, and why folks continually confuse the two.

6) Meanwhile, do as much research as you like on Zionism. That is where the aggressive, right-wing Israeli stance on victory comes from. Zionism. Not Semitism. Originally, Zionism was merely the movement wanting a Jewish homeland. For many, it has now become much more than that. Especially as it is practiced by the Israeli right-wing. It has morphed into another demonstration of right-wing, authoritarian, fascist nationalism. In that context. Expressing anti-Zionist tendencies does not necessarily make one an anti-Semite.

7) For myself. I don’t care if you’re a Jew or not. I still like my former brother-in-law. I do think Jews have been terribly badly treated throughout history. I do think they deserve a homeland. I wish they could find a way to run their homeland which did not have about it the sense that they treat other folks badly. I wish they could feel sufficiently secure in their homeland that they didn’t feel the need for ‘victory.’ Or to mess around in the affairs of other countries. But, I’m not sure if that is on them or us.

8) Frankly, were I an Israeli, about now, I’d be saying, enough already of the Middle East. Can we please transfer the homeland to southern Florida?

9) Jewish-Americans have always made the very best Hollywood movies.

10) One more time. I really am getting tired of talking heads who scream down any calm presentation of a point of view with a misplaced and misunderstood -ism. It really is the debating equivalent of getting mugged with a tire iron by a thug in a political black hood.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trump: The Pennsylvania Circus Rolls On


Tom McCarthy of the London Guardian continues his series looking at how Trump supporters in Northampton County, Pennsylvania think their man is doing.

We have an interesting twist. Rep. Charlie Dent (R), one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics in the House, who led the Republican attack on Trumpcare, has announced that he will not stand for re-election to the House in 2018.

There is no suggestion that Dent was forced out by Trump. But the opportunity now exists to see how the various political factions which may determine Congressional life for Trump after 2018 (Democrat, anti-Trump Republican, pro-Trump Republican), how they will do in jockeying for position in this key Congressional district.

In this edition, Tom interviews six candidates or potential candidates, ranging from a Tea Party insurgent to a pastor and community organizer. The style of candidate the district chooses to replace Dent could well have national echoes.

Tom finds that, however toxic Trump may appear from reading the national headlines or polls, the candidates – even the Democrats – recognize that it’s still dangerous to run against Trump in places like Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The Trump Effect continues.

“I don’t think the response in this district can be, ‘Donald Trump is a terrible President, and you should hate him, and all these people who voted for him are stupid’,” one Democratic operative told Tom. “If that’s our response, we will lose. We might have a lot of excited activists. But that’s not gonna win this seat.”

A comment which echoes my theme about unrealistic polemic, policy and politics, as set out most recently in my post earlier today about Hillary’s new book.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trigger Words, Call-Outs, Normalizing – and Hillary


Hillary has been in the news the past ten days. With her new book. I read another article which nibbles around the edges of why she failed. The nibbling effect is not new. It is a phenomenon which, in my opinion, distorts much of modern political discussion: fake rationale; fake polemic.

In the case of Hillary, we feel ourselves constrained from simply saying she was a bad candidate, who came to the table with way too much baggage, who simply did not understand that way too many people were way too angry to think straight. Why? Because to attack Hillary makes us, in some quarters, sexist. Period.

By the same token, we can’t trash Medicare-for-all, because some will say it is merely a veiled attack on progressives. Or that we are not idealists. It is a moral issue. And if we dare to speak a word against it, we are Neanderthal pragmatists, who care nothing about the disadvantaged. No room is granted to us to argue that maybe the middle-class just do not want another tax hike at the moment.

If we dare to mention white policemen who are shot by blacks, when considering young, black males who suffer unacceptable violence at the hands of white police officers, we are branded supremacists. If we advance solutions to curb the excesses of law enforcement. But also wonder if it is reasonable to review the behavior of those breaking the law in the first place. We are labeled racists.

If we argue that maybe it is better to focus on winning, in order to be best placed to help those who are disadvantaged. Rather than pleasing ourselves by advancing a platform that makes us feel good. We are condemned as sell-outs, corporatists and Trump-wannabe’s.

Trigger politics and call-outs have smothered open political debate. New words, new concepts like ‘normalizing’ censor contribution, even before one’s mouth has opened.

I am an irredeemable supporter of genuine free speech. I truly believe that folks are stronger and more intelligent than sometimes we give them credit. I think the electorate, any electorate can handle hearing the greatest possible range of political views. And can then make up its own mind. Without the need for political-police overreaction. We can’t have meaningful political debate if we keep introducing unrealistic parameters.

I’m not saying there are no absolutes. But our absolutes have become too restrictive. More and more, they allow less and less by way of genuine diversity. Of permissible difference of opinion.

Our need to prevail. Becomes so paramount. That we become the very authoritarians we say we despise.

We appear before the UN and talk freedom and sovereign nation states. While calling for the obliteration of the freedom of a couple of sovereign nation states.

We demand the freedom to be who we are. While standing by silently as black-hooded thugs beat the crap out of someone peacefully demanding their right to be who they are.

We say we want certain words made triggers, to be denied and erased. Not because they cause any actual harm. But because they might prevent our words being heard on their own.

We refuse to countenance examining all the issues involved in finding a solution to a problem, because we have invented an –ism that excludes certain considerations.

This may be amusing. It may be idealistic. But it isn’t very practical.

Oh. And I do not think Hillary lost because she was a woman. Or because she was misunderstood. Or because the media is run by corporations. Or because of Russia, Comey or Julian Assange.

I think she lost because she was a dinosaur from the past, a candidate past her sell-by date, someone who simply did not grasp the political changes that came to the fore in 2016.

And saying this does not make me a sexist, a Republican or a sell-out.

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Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Single-Payer: McGovern Moment or Bernie Breakthrough?


It all depends on what it is the Democrats want to do. If they want simply to stake out an idealistic position, devoid of what might be construed as the hedging and fudging of the ‘Clinton Years.’ Without regard to electoral consequence. Then they should embrace single-payer enthusiastically, and trust that the good people of the United States will equally embrace the ideal that every man, woman and child in the United States, whoever they are, is entitled to healthcare paid for by taxes.

Then again, if you are a Democrat who places little faith in payback, in sloganeering, in wishful thinking. But rather, believes in winning elections. On the basis that you can do more in office to help the disadvantaged. Than you can waving a failed manifesto, standing outside in the cold. Then you might think that Bernie’s announcement of Medicare-for-all last week, if it becomes the settled platform of the Democratic Party going into 2018 and 2020, was a modern-day McGovern Moment.

Not least because we offered it as a hostage-to-fortune to the liars in the Republican Party, by lacking the guts to put a price tag on the announcement.

If the Democrats have just become nothing more than a party of who-cares, left-wing idealists, then what I am about to say matters not a whit. If, however, Democrats do still care about winning, then it is time to admit that there is not a realistic pundit in the US today who is saying other than that the path to victory for the Democrats in 2018 and 2020 lies through demographic realities that require picking up an awful lot of middle-of-the-road, swing voters. And many if not most of these voters supported Trump in 2016.

Look. We can scream and wail and gnash and cry all we like. Come up with cute variations of screaming howls from white nationalist guts all day long. But the fact remains that many of these swing voters remain scared and uncertain and angry. And. Right or wrong. One of the matters about which they are angriest is that they saw their health insurance premiums go up dramatically under Obamacare. After the Obama administration had told them that wouldn’t happen.

Next thing these voters know. The people they regard as the same bunch of politicians. Are saying. Hey, trust us again. This time, we’ve come up with a much better solution. The difference this time? We’re not making any promises. We’re not even putting a price tag on our new scheme.

And we think these good folk stung once are going to trust us a second time? When we have left the field open for the Republicans to spend the next year convincing them this new healthcare program of ours is going to cost the middle class even more in taxes than the increased premiums they suffered under our last reform?

But, but. I hear you say. Surely you’re not suggesting that they would opt for Republican repeal and reform instead? Yes. They most likely will.

First, because we’ve practically put up a neon sign condemning our own plan, because we didn’t cost it.

But secondly, and more importantly. Because. One more time. These swing voters are not open to reason at the moment. They are so scared and confused and desperate. They will buy any message that says, we (the Republicans) can find a way to let you down easy, and feel good about yourselves, by blaming someone else, and taking something from them, to give to you.

In this case. Taking healthcare coverage from about 20 million Democratic voters. And giving the proceeds (by way of reduced health insurance premiums) to middle-class, working, swing voters.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the Great American public turns out to be way more altruistic than it demonstrated in 2016.

But I fear that, at the moment, the folks who are going to be determining national electoral outcomes in 2018 and 2020 are going to demonstrate more concern for themselves than for the disadvantaged.

I suspect that canny progressives are going to have to settle for presenting the ‘candy’ of limited liberal goals in an artful ‘wrapper ‘ of targeted, somewhat selfish populism.

Accepting that ordinary working Americans are going to want to see some measure of reform that reduces their premiums. But that does not increase their taxes. That the best Democrats can hope for with healthcare is that there is reform which retains some element of the increased coverage for the disadvantaged envisioned by the original Obamacare package.

Does this mean simply caving into the Republicans? Nope. But it does mean, in my opinion, recognizing that extreme liberalism is not the recipe for success at the moment. That the best way to avoid more Trump toxin is to go for something like my Democratic Populism.

Facebook comments here.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ideas to Re-Center America


I receive word of a new publication, with a back-up new non-profit organization, put together by a leading light from the US right and a leading light from the US left(ish), dedicated, apparently, to finding a new center in American politics.

I’m not much taken with labels. Even ones which attempt to sound reasonable. But I’ll give the publication a shot. I will then compare it with some of the ideas from my own non-brand, non-label, totally-labelled, political thought-stream (sigh) – Democratic Populism.

Bottom line? At this stage, in the US, any considered thinking is preferable to whining (Hillary), reviving the past (Bernie), yelling louder (Trump), or throwing things (Nazi’s and AntiFa).

Provided. Yes. A caveat. No. The caveat. That we actually spend some time asking folks what they want. Rather than taking the big bucks to spend our time just prescribing from the safety of an ivory tower in Washington, DC.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Terrorists, Extremists, Radicals, Whatever: Freedom Fighters, or just Fortune-Seekers?


I’ve just finished reading an article which describes the efforts of Osama bin Laden’s son to unify terrorists around the world. The bin Laden family (pictured below, in Sweden, in 1971 – Osama is second from right) is a wealthy Saudi Arabian family. There have been suggestions that much of what bin Laden senior was promulgating had to do with simply enhancing his family’s fortune. Like father, like son?

The ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland descended eventually into the two sides, Protestant and Catholic militants, merely dividing the NI cities into gang territories, which they ruled with protection rackets.

I maintain in my book (Maggie’s Hammer) that, beginning in the Eighties, British Intelligence simply parlayed its considerable covert skills into making money through illicit arms sales, and then funneling ‘commissions’ back to its buddies in Whitehall and Westminster. A corruption of the British body politic which I allege has become so systemic that I can find no-one else to speak out about it.

I also maintain (and I am by no means the only one) that the very considerable international networks established in the Eighties by then-Vice President George Bush, Sr. With the purpose of running the covert international agenda of the Reagan administration. Which networks were known collectively as ‘the Octopus’ or ‘the Enterprise.’ And which networks were responsible for transformative events such as Iran-Contra and the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Europe. These networks were secretly financed (so as to be beyond the scope of Congressional oversight) in large part by criminal activity (drug-running, arms-dealing, human-trafficking, money-laundering, etc). These networks and their activities during and after the Eighties became self-sustaining. And formed the basis of the huge private security operation which underscored the War on Terror under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Into the Trump fiasco. Big illegal business parading as foreign policy.

We have Ivanka popping into White House meetings, ostensibly to promote child care. Then, popping back out to promote the bracelet she was wearing. Which, of course, pales in comparison to her Dad, who is making his entire Presidency a platform for enhancing his own personal brand.

We have billionaire Mark Zuckerburg thinking of running for the White House. Without, I am sure, any consideration of what it might do for his personal brand.

And all of this (and much, much more) on the back of the story posted earlier on my FB Page about how distressed Sir Richard Branson was that his personal, privately-owned, island home had just been devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Maybe it is the fact that my lights are blinking. And a power outage may be on the way. Maybe I got out of bed the wrong side this morning. I dunno. But frankly. I’m becoming a little tired of so-called ‘people of goodwill’ turning the world upside down in the name of their version of justice, when part of the ‘collateral damage’ seems to be that they line their own, very considerable pockets.

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 10:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Impulsive, Authoritarian Populism


Here’s the thing. Laugh. Yawn. Snarl. But the fact is, AntiFa, white supremacists and Trump are all employing exactly the same tactics. For much the same reason.

They all want a political climate where they can be free to do whatever they want. Without serious recrimination (as in, anything that makes any difference to them).

This requires that they completely discredit the notion that government works. Which, in turn, demands that they spike the serious work of the genuine reformers. And instead engage in tactics which promote utter chaos and confusion.

Go on. Tell me I’m wrong …

Published in: on September 2, 2017 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment