You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

Front Page, National Scene, Opinion/Editorial

     I know very well that clichés are considered poor form and should be avoided like the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua, but is it necessarily so? Clichés are said to be overused, and I agree.  They are overused because they are economical, because they flow freely, and because they retain meaning.  Contrary to the opinion of my betters, it is not meaning that is lost in clichés, but rather the impact of the cliché is lost with overuse.  The words after all have not changed meanings.  However, I am not arguing for the greater use of clichés in writing.  I, like many others, find clichés to be trite and overused.  I am just suggesting that the prudent use of clichés is all right with me.  For example, consider the meaning of the expression, “Silence is golden.”

     Do you imagine that Hillary Clinton wishes she had remained silent in July, instead of saying, “Comey has exonerated me”?  Is she now speaking from the other side of her mouth when she says, “Comey is undermining our republic”?  Can she have her cake and eat it, too?  Can she take a swim and not get wet?  Can she keep the barrel full and still be drunk?

     It appears odd to me that somehow Hillary claims James Comey is undermining our republic.  It is a bold claim, but what is the truth?  It may be easier to understand the situation with an example.  Imagine that the local police received a tip on a drug dealer.  Acting on the tip, the police begin to investigate and find evidence supporting their case.  According to Hillary, the police should call a press conference and provide the public with the evidence.  What the police actually do is provide the evidence to the county attorney, who reviews the evidence, and decides if there is enough evidence to prosecute the case.  The public has no right to see the evidence before the trial.  Hillary has merely got the cart before the horse, and her claim is absurd.

     Now Hillary has expressed a concern that the FBI investigation is interfering with politics, and her concern has found footing with the Washington Post.  On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Comey poses a threat to the, “Long-standing and well-established traditions of limiting disclosure of ongoing investigations.”  It is feared that this might influence the election.  But Comey’s back is against the wall.  He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

     If Comey failed to report that he had reopened the investigation, wouldn’t his lack of reporting favor Hillary?  To be sure, Hillary would think his silence golden, but could Comey bask in the golden rays of silence knowing his inaction was influencing politics?

     It seems to me that Comey would have been better served if he had remained silent in July, and Hillary would not have been claiming, “Comey has exonerated me.”  Hindsight is always 20/20.  However, since he opened the can of worms in July, it was incumbent on him to report the change in his investigation.

     If Hillary actually wanted the transparency she now claims that she wants, she would not have set up a private server and deleted the emails in the first place.  Hillary you can’t have it both ways.

     With regards to clichés, perhaps William Safire was correct, “Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.”

Until next time…

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Ghosts, Ghouls and Goblins

Front Page, Government and Politics, National Scene, Opinion/Editorial
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BRANCO © 2016

     As Halloween quickly approaches, my thoughts often turn to the quaint days of my youth. A hobo costume was always popular, and candy was plentiful.  My favorite was always the popcorn balls that were made by Mrs. Motes.  I would go to her house more than once, and I would trade candy for popcorn balls from other children.  Although adults did not dress in costumes much in those days, one neighbor would dress as a witch and served candy with apple cider.  Unfortunately, times have changed; popcorn balls and apple cider would now be considered suspicious, and a hobo costume – well – it just wouldn’t be very popular.

     Halloween costumes have become a big business, not only for children, but for adults as well. Sure there are the usual ghost, ghouls and goblins, but through the years, movie themed costumes have greatly impacted the market.  Star Wars costumes are particularly popular this Halloween season, as they have been in the recent past.  Horror movies still have a great influence, and the Jason character is readily available for those wanting a darker character.  Also, politicians have become popular Halloween characters.  I am not sure why.  It could be that they are often horrible, scary people, or on the other hand, they are ridiculous to the point of being funny.  Either way, you can be Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump.  Obama has fallen out of favor, and some say that it is because of his big ears.  I do not think it is because of his ears myself.  I believe after nearly eight years of his policies, he is just too scary.  (Nobel Peace Prize winner, my arse.)

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     One surprising political costume this year is the Chairman Mao suit. Mao has been out of favor for many years.  You may recall the Beatles famous refrain, “If you go carrying picture of Chairman Mao, you’re not gonna’ make it with anyone anyhow.”  Even so, he is back this Halloween.  I guess some people have forgotten the 15 to 45 million people he killed, mostly through famine with his Great Leap Forward, while leading the Chinese Communist Party.  At any rate, he is once again center stage as a fashion icon.  Hillary Clinton is sporting the new Mao costume, and I have it on good authority that she secretly admired Chairman Mao and not only for his fashionable taste.

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     I do not think the Mao look will greatly disguise Hillary or her ambition, but perhaps it is like Zig Ziglar said, “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”

Until next time…

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The Diversion Technique

Front Page, Government and Politics

 

 

     A child falls and screams as though he severed his left hand. A concerned parent runs to comfort the child.  After a great deal of consoling, the child quiets down, and the parent looks for an injury but finds none.  This cycle is repeated many time in the course of raising children.  Eventually the parent begins to discern variations in the screaming sound and soon recognizes a fake scream from a real one.  Also, the astute parent finds techniques other than consoling to quiet a screaming child.  My father always used the diversion technique to great effect.  When he wanted to divert a child’s attention, he would merely ask a question, such as: “Did you see that elephant sitting on a telephone pole?”  The question accomplished two things.  It diverted the child’s attention away from the perceived problem, and more importantly, it quieted the child without rewarding undesired behavior.  I have observed this technique being employed by other parents with great success, and on occasion, I have observed a clever child practicing the technique on unsuspecting parents.  As it turns out, the diversion technique works on unsuspecting children of all ages.

     Recently, WikiLeaks and others began reporting on Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency. WikiLeaks obtained emails from an unknown source while others did investigative reporting.  The stench of corruption in the Hillary campaign was so great that it could not be ignored.  For example, it was reported that the Hillary campaign had hired stooges to infiltrate the Donald Trump rallies and incite violence.  Hillary also attempted to have classified documents declassified in order to avoid prosecution by the FBI.  Also of interest was Hillary’s arranging sales of uranium to Russia in exchange for contributions to her foundation.   And of course, access to Hillary’s State Department was easily obtained with a contribution to her foundation, and the list goes on and on in an ever widening circles.  So, what is Hillary to do?  No one has questioned the voracity of the stories.

     It seems the answer for the Hillary campaign is to employee the diversion technique. Blame the Russians for hacking the emails in the first place.  At the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, Hillary claimed, “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.” That of course is not true.

James Clapper

     The Director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who speaks on behalf of the 17 agencies actually said, “We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities. Some states have also recently seen scanning and probing of their election-related systems, which in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company. However, we are not now in a position to attribute this activity to the Russian Government.” Notice he did not say they originated from the Kremlin, but did say in most cases they originate from servers operated by a Russian company. It is important to note that his opinion is based on scope and sensitivity and not on investigation.

     Where did the other cases originate?  He did not say.  Still others believe whistle blowers inside the organization are leaking the emails, and we may never know the truth.  But, on some level, Hillary’s diversion appears to be working because there is a lot of idle chatter in the news media about the Russians attempting to influence our election, and some are calling for an investigation.  It would seem to me that time could be better spent investigating Hillary’s corruption and criminal activities.  And why would the Russians want to hurt Hillary’s campaign?  After all, she helped the Russians buy 20% of the uranium in the United States, and the uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons.  But remember that the diversion technique works well on unsuspecting children.

     Interestingly enough, the stench of the Hillary campaign has taken a new turn in Georgia. It is reported that a Democratic National Committee bus was photographed dumping human waste into a storm drain.  However, this should not come as a surprise.  The Democrats have been crapping on Georgia for more than a hundred years.  It could well be that Henry David Thoreau was correct in saying, “There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted.”  But, I’m sure he meant to say, “Tainted politicians.”

Until next time…

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Things That I Like about Hillary

Front Page, Government and Politics, Opinion/Editorial

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I want to leave you with these words of wisdom from my mother, “If you can’t something good about a person, it is best to say nothing at all.”

 

Until next time…

 

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Harakiri, Honor, and Thieves

Front Page, Government and Politics, Opinion/Editorial

    

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     Harakiri (a ritualized suicide) became part of the honor code of Samurai warriors and was intended to preserve the warriors honor or to avoid shame. The first recorded incidence of harikari was reported in 1180, and the last reported occurrence was in 1970, a period of nearly 800 years.  As practiced, the ritual included formal dress, a last meal, a poem written by the Samurai, and finally the act of harakiri.

     Witnesses to harakiri have described the warriors as calm, resolute, and emotionless. The warrior kneels, inserts a knife into his abdomen, and slices it open horizontally.  The knife is extracted, his head bows, and his second raises a sword and severs his spinal column.  The second is usually a friend of the warriors, but at times it has been an enemy combatant who respected the Samurai’s courage in battle.

     Few would argue that honor is a bad thing, but certainly what is considered honorable varies greatly in different societies. The Muslims have a different form of “honor killing.”  In the Muslim practice, a man who feels he has been dishonored does not commit suicide; instead, he murders the wife or child, who he claims caused the offense.  Among Muslims, it passes for justice, regardless of how the event appears to outsiders.

     In western culture, knights established chivalric code around 1170, and it has been refined to mean social and moral values generally. In the middle ages, it was a moral system that included, piety, manners, honor, and nobility.  In more modern times, it has been said that chivalry is dead, but still there is a residue of honor that people admire and respect.  Honor after all, is a quality that can be possessed by anyone regardless of social status and can be seen at all levels of society.

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     In 1974, Richard Nixon was president of the United States, and he had become involved in what is referred to as “Watergate.” Apparently, some operatives broke into the Democratic Party Headquarters in an attempt to gain inside information on the Democrats.  It is not clear whether Nixon knew of the break in prior to the event, but he eventually found out and attempted to cover up the incident.  Some of Nixon’s conversations about the break-in had been recorded on secret White House tape recorders.  The FBI wanted the recordings to determine the extent of Nixon’s knowledge, and they were eventually turned over, but 18 and ½ minutes of tape was missing.  It was never recovered, and there was much speculation as to the contents.  Congress was threatening impeachment, and it was likely they could have convicted.  Three days after the release of the tapes, Nixon resigned as president.  Was this an honorable thing to do?  At the time, few thought so, but he certainly did not drag the office of the president through an impeachment proceeding and saved his party the embarrassment.  In retrospect, perhaps it was honorable when you consider the following.

     Bill Clinton was serving as president when he had a relationship with a White House intern. He lied repeatedly about the incident and eventually he was impeached.  He was not removed from office by a partisan Senate, and he continued to serve as president throughout his term.  Certainly, the honorable thing would have been for him to resign, but he was less honorable than Nixon and refused to do so despite the pleadings of his party.

     When Bill and Hillary vacated the White House, it was reported that they stole $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts.   The Clintons announced they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, but they actually returned $28,000 in White House gifts.  The Clintons provided no information about the gifts and referred all questions to the President’s transition office.  The transition office referred all questions to the Park Service, which actually new very little about the returned gifts.

     The General Accounting Office reported that damage, theft, and vandalism did occur in the White House, and that any intentional damage or theft constitutes a criminal act. The accounting office interviewed more than 100 government employees but said it could not establish any responsibility for the damage or theft.  Hillary, of course, was rewarded with her election to the Senate by New York voters.

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     As a senator, she accomplished next to nothing in the senate, but used the position to become Secretary of State. As secretary, she had few successes, but of course, kept her government emails on a private server.  Her intention in using the private server was to control what information would become public since she had communications she wanted to hide (as with Nixon, I am guessing).  However, when the FBI wanted the contents of her emails, she deleted 30,000 emails before providing the remainder.  Remember Nixon deleted 18 and ½ minutes of tape.  She lied continuously about the content of the emails claiming there was no classified information, when in fact, there was top secret, secret, and classified emails on the server.  Clearly, she violated the law, acted negligently, and lied, but instead of doing the honorable thing and withdrawing her bid for the presidency, she continues on as the Democratic candidate for president.  Certainly she does not hold herself to the high standard of the Samurai, knight, or even Nixon.  But maybe she just wants to return some of the stolen property to the White House.

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     Falstaff, a well know character of Shakespeare’s put it best when he said, “It stinks when there is no honor among thieves.”

Until next time…

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The Fix Is In

Front Page, Government and Politics, Opinion/Editorial

  

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     The fight game has a long history of corruptions, and in fact the phrase, “the fix is in” goes back to 1790 where it was used to mean tampered with, or rigged. In modern times, the claim of rigged fights is long and includes such notables as the Ali vs. Liston rematch, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, McGregor vs. Mendes, and Rousey vs. Holm.  While these fights may or may not have been rigged, with such large amounts of money at stake, the temptation is great, and the benefits are enormous.  However, rigging events has moved from boxing to include other sports and, of course, elections.  In 2014, there was a claim that the Superbowl was rigged, and now in 2016, there is the claim that the Democrat primary election is rigged.

     It has been said that, “the fix is in,” in reference to both the Republican and the Democratic primaries this election season. While the Republican primary is settled, the outcome for the Democrats is yet to be determined.  Despite Clinton becoming the presumptive nominee, Sanders has vowed to fight on.

     Bernie Sanders has claimed the election is rigged, and when you examine the system used by the Democratic Party, it is difficult to come to a different conclusion. The Democrats have 4,764 total delegates in the primary, and 712 of these are superdelegates.  The superdelegates represent the party establishment and can vote for either candidate regardless of what the primary voters have decided.  The superdelegates make up 15% of the total delegate count, but superdelegates make up 30% of the total delegates needed to win the primary.  Sanders could win 58% of the regular delegates and still lose the primary to Hillary Clinton because of the superdelegates who represent the party leaders but not necessarily the voters.  This is interesting because you would expect the Democratic Party to be a little more democratic.

     Actually the Democratic Party created the superdelegate system in the 1970s after the nomination of George McGovern and to some extent Jimmy Carter, so that the party elite could control the outcome of future elections. That is why Hillary Clinton a true insider candidate has been bragging since August of 2015 that she had a lead over her opponent.  If it was not for the superdelegate lead, Clinton might have been a little less arrogant.  After all, 40% of the Democrats would not use the word honest to describe her, and the majority of Americans do not trust her.

     One big advantage to controlling the superdelegates is that it has been a difficult fight for Sanders from the beginning of the primary. He has largely had an uphill battle, and it has taken him a long time to gain momentum.  It is, of course, merely speculative, but one has to wonder how the election would have turned out if there was an even playing field, if the system wasn’t rigged, or if the fix was not in.

     Ironically, perhaps the best advice Sanders can have comes from Donald Trump. “When somebody challenges you, fight back.  Be brutal, be tough.”

Until next time…

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The Revenge of the Unrepresented

Front Page, Government and Politics, National Scene, Opinion/Editorial

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      If you are reading this new and erudite newspaper, you make a point to be informed.  So you may have noticed that these are odd times in politics.  What, Trump the Republican front runner for President while Jeb! languishes in the single digits?

      But I can make matters simpler to understand, if still odd.  We are experiencing the Revenge of the Unrepresented.  Our English friends some 240 years ago found out the hard way that taxing people without representing them may not evoke a happy response.  Today’s Washington establishment politicians are finding out the same thing, yes, the hard way.

      Rewind to 2010.  Obama was determined to cram Obamacare down our throats in spite of half or more of Americans clearly not wanting it.  In January, Massachusetts elected a Republican for the U. S. Senate largely because of opposition to Obamacare.  Yes, Massachusetts.  That’s not an auto typo.

      Yet Obama and Congressional Democrats ignored that warning shot and marched forward in passing Obamacare.  The result was a historic political bloodbath in the November 2010 elections, handing the U. S. House and any number of state houses to the Republicans with a clear and simple mandate – Stop Obama.

      But that teary-eyed orange-skinned drunk Republican Speaker Boehner and other RINOs did little to stop Obama and instead enabled him.  And that included funding, of all things, Obamacare.  Thus the Republican establishment joined Democrats in virtually ignoring the 2010 elections.

      Fast forward to 2014.  Again Americans gave Obama’s Democrats a good pasting at the polls, handing now the U. S. Senate over to the Republicans.  Again, Republicans had a clear mandate to Stop Obama, particularly on the presenting issue of defending our borders and restraining illegal immigration.

      But, again, Republican leaders did little to stop Obama and again enabled him, including on immigration.  In fact, Congress, with the support of the establishment Republican leaders, just voted to fund Obama’s illegal immigration programs.  (And when I say illegal, I mean both the programs and the immigration are illegal.  I would say “illegal illegal”, but that would make me appear to be ranting, not to mention ungrammatical, God forbid.)

      So, yet again, about half the country finds themselves utterly unrepresented by either party.  This is not only bad policy; it is stupid politics particularly on the part of Republicans.  It is asking, nay, begging for trouble.

      And then here comes trouble with funny hair.  And in his very announcement speech for President, he came down hard on illegal immigration to the point of being crude and unrealistic to put it nicely…

      And millions loved it.  Immediately, Trump had high poll numbers, and they have gotten higher.  Finally, millions found that someone powerful seemed to represent them on illegal immigration and other issues.  (Note I wrote, “seemed.” I will leave aside the question of whether Trump should be trusted.)

      Now, are there more sensible ways to fight the establishment of both parties who are so intent on not representing Americans?  I certainly think so.  That’s why I support Ted Cruz, by the way.  But is there a more clear way than Trump to give the establishment of both parties an affectionate one finger wave? 

      And, yes, Americans are that angry at the political establishment.   Not just Trump’s numbers reveal that.  Here is what I see looking at the Real Clear Politics poll averages as I write this in early January.  Anti-establishment candidates (Trump, Cruz, Carson, Paul, Huckabee, and Santorum) have a combined 68% support among Republicans.  Jeb!? Just over 4%. 

     In desperation, the establishment wing of the GOP is turning to Rubio, but he polls only 11.5% compared to Trump at 35% and Cruz at 19.5%.Can it be any clearer that a lot of people out there are angry at being unrepresented by the establishments of both parties?

     So I’ve got a 2016 prediction you can add to the zillions you’ve heard already ‘cept mine is better.  2016 will be the Revenge of the Unrepresented.   One result will be the nomination of Donald Trump this summer or the defeat of Hillary Clinton this November. 

     And do not be too shocked if it will be both.

 

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