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As Donald Trump heads out on his first trip abroad, not surprisingly to bow before the silk robes of the Saudi Arabians, the world’s unquestioned premier sponsor of global terrorism, he leaves a capital city in writhing turmoil. Washington D.C. has not been in such a state of confusion and disarray since British troops with torches were marching through it. The man the American people elected to occupy the White House has made an incalculable hash of the job, even prompting the nation’s best allies to question sharing intelligence information with a president who clearly has none and would not know what to do with it if he did. Calls for his impeachment are wishful thinking for some, but divorced from reality and that’s a good thing.

But wait, you may well ask, what of the damage the Trump slow-motion train wreck is doing to the country and its institutions? Yes, that is a worthy and valid consideration, but prematurely removing Trump would simply be giving aspirin to treat the country’s headache but would not do anything to cure the real illness which has plagued the nation since 1980- the Reagan agenda.

The essential consideration is this fiasco is understanding what so many Americans had anticipated Trump would do- “drain the swamp” being at the top of the list. For many, he somehow presented himself as a quasi-Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith who would go to Washington and clean house. Nothing, of course, could have been farther from the reality as from the very outset Trump dove right into that swamp and has cavorted gleefully with its most slimy inhabitants. His administration has been a boon to the very rapacious multinational corporations that drove the economy to the very brink of meltdown just nine short years ago as regulations and protections have fallen in key markets and arenas from banking to energy extraction- and most damaging of all- in the dark sinkhole referred to as the “defense industry.” And for “the little guy?” Not just nothing, but far worse as all of the forces that have driven down incomes and buying power are now even more emboldened and empowered to continue their devastating, scorched Earth campaign to pick all the remaining meat from the bones of the American worker.

The essential point is that none of this has anything with Trump himself. He has no better understanding of economics or public policy than a child, which is really what he is. Trump has simply opened the doors for the Republican Party to reach its own logical conclusion- a return to the 19th Century when industry, and industry titans, ran society free from interference from unions or regulation and where charity was the work of churches and families, not government programs. Molded in the Gilded Age of the 1980’s, Trump is just along for that ride.

But equally important is to appreciate the other side of the Trump coin- racism, or as it’s more commonly known, “political correctness.” One of the keys to Ronald Reagan’s successful messaging was to moan about government’s role in protecting “welfare queens” and those who engaged in “deviant” behaviors and lifestyles. Since the 1960’s, a vast swath of the American people chaffed at “affirmative action” and being told not just who they had to hire but what was and was not acceptable language. Finger wagging identity politics have played an essential role in the Democratic Party’s challenges with voters and understanding this. So too has the grotesque and indefensible excesses of primarily public sector unions, soaring pension liabilities choking state budgets and the myriad woes of public education, again largely due to teachers unions which has given rise to the hodgepodge of charter and other school alternatives. Taking these core issues on directly will be essential to Democrats winning back particularly low-income voters- even in the face of the smoldering Trump disaster.

All of this is why the nation would not be served by aborting the Trump presidency. Were he to be removed, all parties could simply shrug and blame all of the nation’s problems on the hapless, narcissistic, property developer who backed his way into the White House and almost instantly crashed and burned. Republicans would dogpile to disavow him and forever consider him the Bill Buckner of their party- the guy who let the ground ball roll between his feet. Democrats and “the left” would be unable to pin the catastrophe the Republican Agenda brought upon the American people which is where it belongs. The country would quickly move on from the Trump bellyflop and it would be back to politics as usual and that’s the worst of all possible outcomes.


Pakistan’s Bitter Fruit

pakistanSadly for us all, the gruesome and terrible images coming out of Lahore are now all too familiar. These incidents, and the pictures that come out of them, have almost become white noise to most people-  except of course those who are actually involved.  Boko Haram just burned children alive- killing a shocking 86 people. Burned. Alive. No doubt you don’t, or can’t, ponder that- 86 children being burned alive- for even a moment. It’s horrific beyond most human imagining. The bombing in Lahore, however, brings a bitter irony to Pakistan because that country is literally both the original source and the continued sponsor of the disease of modern Islamic terrorism.

History is filled with incidents and decisions that seemed insignificant at the time, but turned out to be of incalculable importance. One was the decision by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to pass over six superior officers to appoint General, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq the next Chief of Army Staff- in practical terms to be Bhutto’s second in command. Bhutto had come to power himself five years earlier in the wake of the failures of successive military dictatorships on the promise of returning the country to democracy, a promise that had yet to show any signs of materializing. Bhutto, always naturally fearing the next military coup, made the calculation that given Zia’s deeply held religious convictions he would be less likely to stage one than the rest of the generals. He could not have been more wrong, and Bhutto himself became the first casualty of his disastrous miscalculation. 

It’s easy to understand Bhutto’s mistake. Military dictators, as a general rule, are very predictable. They are not ideologues or nationalists and uniformly simply seek personal power manifest in a cult of self. Once they get it, keeping it is all they generally care about. They typically surround themselves with luxury, and dispense it to those around them to maintain their regimes. But most importantly they are risk adverse focusing instead on the conservative and the pragmatic and predictable maintenance of power- which is why they have always been so attractive to Western powers. The United States in particular not only actively sought relationships with military dictators, it used the CIA to facilitate their ascent to power- from  Carlos Castillo Armas in Guatemala (“Operation Washtub”) to Augusto Pinocet in Chile (“Operation Condor”) to the Shah in Iran (“Operation Boot” in conjunction with the British) It should be noted that all three of these CIA operations focused on carrying out the murder of foreign leaders- Arbenz, Allende and Mossadeq- respectively. President Eisenhower justified these murders and operations, in painful irony, because he hoped to avert another world war with “communists” and because dictators are easy to make deals with. They are personally greedy and not generally adverse to selling out their countrymen in trade and natural resource deals, especially when you help keep them in power.

Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, however, was not like other dicators. He cared nothing for luxury and instead subscribed to the most radical, fundamentalist and puritanical Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam. In a historical coincidence, after the December 1979 Soviet attack on Afghanistan, it was to Zia that the United States, and Saudi Arabia, turned with the most powerful weapon they possessed- money. In addition to arms and cash to fight the Soviets, the Saudis chose to spread radical Wahhabi ideology into Pakistan through funding front group “charities” such as the Muslim World League, the International Muslim Relief Organization and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan, always seen by the Pakistanis as their front yard, raised the battle cry “Allah Akbar” (God is Great). Billions of Western dollars funneled through Pakistan’s ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence) funded schools to teach Wahhabi ideology to the next generation of Pakistani children who would grow up to become the Taliban, which was used to attack and dominate the otherwise moderate Afghan people.  The additional financial resources of a Saudi radical named Ossama bin Laden, a new group called al Queda was born, which in turn would spawn its own progeny, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, Boko Haram and others.

What makes this all the more incredible and tragic is that it has continued, unabated. As you read this, the United States and Saudi Arabia continue to fund these radical groups through the ISI, the Pakistani military secret intelligence apparatus. The schools and networks that support the Taliban in Afghanistan, al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere- and even ISIS- are still headquartered and anchored in Pakistan, feeding off international aid- even the bulk meant to go to Afghanistan continues to be routed through the ISI.

The reasons for this, even more tragically, are not a “conspiracy theory.” Conspiracies take imagination, planning and work- which is why they are so rare in real life. Instead the very opposite is the reality- bureaucratic inertia. The reality of international interaction is structures and networks of contacts upon which careers, small and large, are built and maintained. They do not shut down easily, especially when they facilitate the transference of billions of dollars passing through a sea of outstretched hands, each set of which develops it’s own network. These networks can’t be turned off without created even more havoc, and that which politicians hate more than anything- uncertainty. And so, they continue, like a heroin addiction.

And so now the people of Pakistan are getting a taste of the horrors their government has spent a generation exporting throughout the Middle East- and most devastatingly to its neighbor Afghanistan who has suffered almost two full generations of torture and murder at the hands of Pakistani operatives. And, most tragically of all- there is no end in sight. Like mass shootings in America, events like this- and their inexorable spread- are simply becoming accepted parts of life in the world. We turn our faces away from ISIS and Boko Haram and listen to politicians and media figures, almost none of whom understand the region, regurgitate useless and facile talking points while “arms” continue to be sold to the worst actors, “foreign aid” checks continue to be written, and literal suitcases filled with cash, continue to be delivered and the bloody cycle grinds on unabated.

Will anything ever change? Yes, eventually, change is inevitable and no one should be more worried than the Saudi Royal Family, because the entire relationship between the West and Middle East- from the CIA, MI6 and Israel’s Mossad- is built upon them and their networks. When the day comes, as it surely will, when the Saud family are the ones getting their heads lopped off by an ISIS type group who ascend to power over all that oil and wealth, the world will indeed change, and in unpredictable ways that politicians so hate.



Hillary, a Fond(ish) Look Back

vintage_ClintonEven though after her New Hampshire humiliation, Hillary Clinton still has the deck stacked in her favor to win the Democratic nomination, nothing spoke to the sad trajectory of her second bid for the White House than the tone-deaf rants from 70’s feminist icon Gloria Steinem and hedge fund manager Madeline Albright. Both came off like female versions of John McCain in his bathrobe as they wagged their fingers at the next generation of women for being ingrates who care more about chasing boys than respecting their elders. It was a sad display of generational detachment that is emblematic of why Clinton’s presumptuous campaign has foundered. The world has moved on, as it always does, leaving old people to grouse about being the recipients of the very same disrespect they themselves heaped on to the old people of their youth. America has always been a youth and vitality oriented culture, so this should be no surprise- but it is, for every ensuing generation who are shocked that no one cares about “back in the day” stories. Young girls do chase boys, and boys do chase girls- and now boys are free to chase boys, and girls to chase girls and few of them take time to appreciate those who came before them. Welcome to 21st Century America- same as it ever was.

Once America’s press and media corps stop gaping and fawning over the giant orange turd named Trump who has blotted out the Sun with his truck stop political solutions and live decapitation ratings, they may finally get around to the really astonishing story of the 2016 election race- the collapse of the two major, ossified political parties. What was supposed to be a pedestrian stroll by the two establishment figures in either party, with the powerful legacy names and even more powerful bankrolls, simply blew up as two of the least likely outsiders- neither even a member of the party- have taken over the leadership and momentum of the race for not just the White House, but the hearts and minds of the American people. Where the demise of Jeb! Bush was swift- he barely made it out of the corner of the ring before he face planted, the struggles of Hillary Clinton are, like all things Clintonian, fraught with outsize drama and an acid rainstorm of bitterness. As was recommended in this column more than two years ago, Secretary Clinton should never have run for the presidency again. When she left the Obama Administration she was one of the most admired people in the world and a pioneer for American women. She could have retired as a cherished American icon. Instead, if the Sanders contagion spreads, she could very likely emerge from a grinding and agonizing slog as a two-time frontrunner who snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. A loser. But even if she does go on to win, with great help from establishment “super delegates,” it will be ugly.

dropquote_160209Some of this will, of course, be her own fault. She should have won in 2008, and it took a remarkable series of blunders to lose to an upstart, first-term senator, however charming. Hiring a dimwitted toad and political hack like Mark Penn to run her campaign was at the top of the list, but that was her moment and she fumbled it- and fumbled it very, very badly, displaying terrible judgement at every turn. But now there is an even bigger problem for her. While she was doing all the things she thought presidential candidates needed to do- raise money and maneuver the establishment of her party, lock up “super delegates,” etc- the political ground shifted under her feet and she didn’t see it happen. Like Louis XVI, she one day looked out her her carriage and was shocked to find the people holding torches and pitchforks. While thankfully she will not meet Louis’ gruesome end, her time nevertheless has passed. While she remains a brilliant and formidable political mind, and would probably be a very effective president, she is now a relic of the past fading in our national rear view mirror.

But wait, I can hear you say, how can her problem be that she is a relic when the person who has taken over the Democratic race is even older than she is? The answer is simply that Ms. Clinton’s problem is not simply calendar age but being- no matter now disingenuously she tries to deny it- at the very front of “The Establishment” She is to the Democratic Party what Pablo Escobar was to the cocaine smuggling business and it has lost all credibility and has run itself in the ground.

“The Game,” in her husband’s day was about raising money, triangulating issues, watching polling data and raising more money. The recipe for Bill Clinton’s success was a simple one- posture to the left with ample servings of bromides, while disarming and cuddling with establishment wealth to navigate a middling and amoral path to electoral success. Barack Obama followed this outline too, but turned out to actually mean more of what he said- championing Speaker Pelosi’s health care plan and shutting down George W. Bush’s Hellscape, winless, inferno wars. His tenure will rightly be remembered as the “clean up on isle White House” presidency, but he set the table for more change, not less. This, pandering rhetoric aside, is what Hillary never really understood. She is still living in Bill and Rahm’s world of shameless, money grubbing, 90’s politics.

The politics of the past no longer work in America, however, and no one is more representative of that than the Clintons and the machine they built- with a voracious appetite for money that endlessly vacillates on directions and qualifies outcomes without the benefit of a moral compass. Out of the ashes of the cynicism of Clintonism have come two very different phoenixes- a model of integrity who has never wavered from his moral center and never taken a dime of corporate money and…well, Donald Trump, a person with a “let me just tell ya” political philosophy barked from a bar stool who hates anyone colored like a paper bag or darker and is so obtuse and stupid that it’s literally hard to know where to start without putting on rubber gloves and turning your face away.

But in the final analysis, for all her failings- her disgraceful judgement over the Iraq War at the top of the list- Hillary Clinton should never be remembered as a loser. She has faced, and battled, an unyielding and unprecedented attack on her person for twenty five years- and the vast, vast majority has been unwarranted, unfair and untrue. Brett Arends lists the absurdities beautifully. She is a brilliant legal and policy mind, if like her husband, not a foreign policy expert (the list of clueless blunders she shares with her husband on the foreign policy front, which paved the way for most of today’s global miseries, await a future column). But one can say with confidence that she didn’t shoot Vince Foster in the park and does not feast nightly on the flesh of late-term abortions. She did, however, put herself into too many morally dubious ethical and financial arrangements to ever enjoy- even should she win the presidency- the full confidence of the American people. She will always be perceived as being of suspect moral character.

The best we can all hope for is that the next generation- the ones that rightly roll their eyes at Steinem and Albright- builds upon her legacy and will learn the value of values and integrity in the political process. Money in the system turns out not the be as important as everyone assumed and actual values and conviction are actually kinda important. And that is a good and hopeful thing.





Adieu, Trump, We Hardly Knew Ye…But it was Enough…

trump_funeral02bAnd so, the shiny, grotesquely gaudy Trump mylar balloon finally comes to its deflated end. Will Trump go on to win New Hampshire in a week? He may, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t because his campaign, which is hardly even a fitting term for his buffoonery,  is over. Had he won in Iowa by more than a few points, Trump certainly would have gone on to New Hampshire and then South Carolina and would have had real momentum, and his national embarrassment would have continued for a while. He would have done well in the Southern states, though almost certainly he would not have lasted to see the balloon drop at the convention in Cleveland.

There are many reasons for Trump’s collapse, but sadly, being the flag bearer for the very worst and most unamerican traits is not first on the list. Trump could have very successfully incorporated his racist and xenophobic themes into a very long and successful campaign, and could have taken that message all the way to the Republican Convention floor and won there. It was not his message of intolerance that did him in- and that is a tragedy. What kept him from every gaining real traction with real voters was that he never developed a real message or actually built a campaign. It was all just fun and games, a thrilling romp through a narcissistic fantasy- but it was never anything more than that.

Trump never listened to anyone because, like a lot of successful business people, he never thought he had to. He was so convinced of his own righteousness- which was endlessly reinforced by crowds of thousands of adoring and chanting fans- that he became convinced he was like the Kaaba in the center of Mecca, and that all he had to do was be there and the faithful would come to worship in their millions. Though he put a lot of fear into a lot of folks- wealthy establishment Republicans probably more than anyone else- the reality is that no one is the history of American democracy has been the Kaaba. It just doesn’t work that way.

The prosaic, unshakable reality of America presidential politics is the organized ground game. What really elects people to the nation’s highest office is an army of devoted, unpaid folks who knock on doors and make phone calls. That- and nothing else- is what actually works. Yes, a candidate has to have the rest of the package- public speaking skills, media charisma and a compelling narrative and message. But without the organized door knockers, they can never win over the long haul. Someday, when people can all vote on the Internet, that will be different, but that day is not coming anytime soon. Barack Obama understood this, and that’s why he’s just wrapping up his second term as president.

What Trump, and so many ego-driven others before him, never wanted to accept is that in order to have a winning ground game, you have to hire an experienced political staff who knows how to run one- and they are not cheap and you have to leave them to it and not interfere. People like Trump- business people- generally find this impossible to do. They are used to knowing how their business works, being on top of it and relying on their own decisions and judgement. Being in the position of having to write big, fat checks to people they don’t know who are doing jobs they don’t understand is really, really hard for them. Trump’s biggest expenditure? $1.2 million- on hats. Hats he understands. Voter data and actual outreach, not so much.

For all of its many shortcomings, American democracy at the presidential level is not fertile soil for those who rely on the cult of their own personality alone. While many issues get people riled up, in order to win there also has to be a coherent and understandable message and comprehensive plan for governing. A candidate has to have answers not just to the hot button issues, but to the wide and complex landscape of problems and day to day decisions that a government must make to keep running. Most of it is deadly dull and the mastery of it takes a career, which is why so few people make their way all the way up the food chain to become serious candidates for the presidency. “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it,” will appeal to the losers on the political spectrum, but thankfully, America is not in economic free fall and losers who use their welfare money to buy “Make America Great Again” hats a big enough voting block to elect a president. At least not yet.

Will Trump hang around? Yes, certainly for a while unless his collapse is so swift that he loses in New Hampshire, then he will throw in the towel to avoid further embarrassment. It won’t be fun for him anymore, and that’s what this is all about. And losing is no fun.

The Faith and Stupidity of Ben Carson

ben and jesusIn 1983, Howard Gardener proposed the theory of “Multiple Intelligences,” which challenged the generally held notion that some folks are “smart,” most are average and some are dumb. He posited that intelligence was more narrowly constructed and conditional and tended to be specific- that people are smart and gifted in certain areas but not so in others. Some of us are good, even brilliant with languages, for example, or music, but can also be below average in other areas. While this idea is now universally accepted in the world of academia, most people generally still cling to the idea that the world is filled with smart people, average people and dumb people.

And then along came Ben Carson.

Previous to running for president, Mr. Carson’s notoriety and fame came from his reputation as a brain surgeon, at which by all accounts he is an excellent practitioner. This profession has always been held in the highest regard in the industrialized West, and has routinely been used as the ultimate point of comparison to the difficulty complexity of a job at hand – “this ain’t brain surgery.” Not surprisingly, when he entered the fray for the Republican presidential nomination, as a noted brain surgeon his intellect was unquestioned, and generally considered to be superior- not just to the others seeking the GOP nomination, who collectively set a dispiriting low bar for intellect for even semi-serious presidential aspirants, but to most everyone.

And then he opened his mouth.

What is so astonishing about Carson is not just that he is not as capable in some areas as others, but his breathtaking display of sheer stupidity, which by definition, does not mean a lack of knowledge, but the inability to acquire knowledge. As was widely reported including in this New York Times article last month, Carson is unable to understand or conceptualize even the most basic tenants of foreign policy. Getting his head around the far more arcane and complex labyrinth of economic and tax policy goes without saying. Not only is he is clearly and obviously far out of his depth, so hilariously demonstrated in his repeated claims before a live microphone  that “hummus” provides the greatest obstacle to Middle East peace, to which one can only assume he feels that no amount of pita bread or carrot sticks might offer relief.  Listening to him speak, it appears he would be profoundly challenged by a High School course in World History.

But what really makes Carson so pathetic is his not just his inability to realize that he is in way over his head and has no idea what he’s talking about, but that he doesn’t even try to conceal it. He contentedly offers aphorisms and homilies about his “learning curve” as though they were adequate substitutions for actually knowledge and understanding. He is blissfully unconcerned, and appears irritated and bewildered by the doubts his ignorance raises in others. This is because the twin pillars that hold his simple and diminutive mind aloft are ego and religious faith, both of which he has in monstrous and staggeringly outsize proportions.

As anyone who has ever worked in a hospital setting will tell you, doctors generally, and surgeons in particular, are well known for their egos. Not all, of course, but many surgeons suffer from what they called the “God complex.” The problem for Ben Carson is that he mixes the professional God complex with an actual God complex, which exacerbates both in alarming fashion. This is hilariously, literally, illustrated by a drawing on the wall of his home, depicting him and his friend, the Jesus Christ, together. No traditional blonde, blue-eyed Jesus for Dr. Carson, it should not escape one’s notice that his version of the mythical Jesus looks not surprisingly like himself. True Soul Brothers, go figure.

Ben Carson would, of course, not be the first president with a sub-par intellect who has have no idea what he was doing. In addition to being a horrific racist, Woodrow Wilson was gleefully certain of his vision of a new world order after World War I until he actually arrived in Paris and found the realities of the murky webs of colonial interests and dreams of independence to be for more complex than he’d imagined. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were equally ignorant, and worse, intellectually incurious. When asked if he had read essential briefing material before an important meeting, Reagan famously shrugged and demurred because “the Sound of Music was on last night.” The reality was that Reagan never read any briefing material and had almost no idea about the details and concepts of government. Reagan was sold on the concept of “trickle down economics” by a sketch on a cocktail napkin and a short cartoon about the far-fetched prospect of a “Star Wars” set of weapons that could be operated from space to knock nuclear warheads out of the sky with laser beams had him thoroughly convinced they already existed. Like George W Bush, Reagan relied instead upon his connection to “God,” and his faith in the diligent and constant oversight He personally provided to him.

The United States is among the most religious countries on the planet, and it has accordingly established religious faith as a qualification for the nation’s highest office, which accounts for the actions of its worst occupants. For the first two hundred years, however, there was not much damage that even the dumbest president could do to the nation but in the post-World War II era that has progressively changed. American presidents now wield incredible destructive power and the stakes are increasingly higher and will rise exponentially in the coming decades. George W. Bush’s imbecilic, if divinely guided, tenure literally blew up the Middle East and the world will literally not only never be the same for it bit it’s very likely the worst fallout is yet to come.

While we can all be thankful that the only real damage the dim witted Dr. Carson did was to the profession of brain surgery, which will never be held is such high esteem again, but we should all shudder that so dense and stupid a person was considered seriously, again, for the presidency of the United States. More chilling yet, it only take a glance at the media of an orange colored troglodyte spewing equally obtuse, self assured sewage from his endlessly gaping, anus shaped mouth to shudder anew.




Farkhunda, Afghanistan’s Emmett Till

farkhunda-tillIn September of 1955, mourners lined up to view the open casket of Emmitt Till, and each was horrified by what they saw. Emmitt was a twelve year-old African American boy from Chicago on a family visit to Money, Mississippi when he ran afoul of some of the local white men. The official story was that he had whistled at a white woman, raising the ire of the white men who felt compelled to defend her honor. It has always been a ludicrous suggestion, the far more likely scenario was that being from Chicago, Till was simply not sufficiently deferential to one or more of the white men, but regardless, the end result was brutality beyond imagining. The boy was taken to a barn where he was beaten to a pulp and his eyes were gouged out. He was then bound to a cotton gin with barbed wire and he was dumped into the Tallahatchie River. While horrendous crimes against African Americans were commonplace in the American South, the sheer brutality inflicted on a child drew tens of thousands of mourners. It was the decision of Till’s mother to open his casket and put her battered son’s body on display for all the world to see that is generally considered to be the beginning of the American Civil Rights movement. Six months later Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.

As gruesome as Till’s fate was, it was equaled, if not exceeded, in barbarity with that of a 27 year-old Afghan woman named Farkhunda on March 19th in Kabul. She was accused of “burning the Quran” and was attacked by several men who were soon joined by a screaming mob of men that beat and kicked her and pelted her body with stones. She was then dragged bloodied out into street where she was run over, back and forth, by a truck, crushing her. Then she was set alight to burn. Unlike Till, Farkhunda’s violent end was captured on numerous videos which have brought the sheer horror and gore of the event to the eyes of millions of people around the world, spawning protests and candlelight vigils.

Like the America of the 1950’s, Afghanistan is a nation in dramatic transition. Long held hostage to the machinations of the proxy whims of others, particularly the toxic influence of Pakistan via the export of what came to be known as the Taliban. Washington, or rather the Obama Administration has finally embraced the woeful lesson of the Reagan and Bush era’s careless and neglectful behavior, which ultimately contributed, if not directed resulted in, the smoldering twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Obama Administration, and Secretary John Kerry personally are attempting much more proactive and positive posture in the development of Afghan institutions but it has not been, nor will it be, easy or quick work (and will likely be abandoned altogether by whomever is Obama’s successor). The first post-Taliban elected leader, Hamid Karzai’s primary skillset was confusing virtually everyone with his ever-shifting positions and liaisons while distributing the bounty of international aid to his friends and family. His successor, Ashraf Ghani, may prove at least a modest improvement but his decision to focus on relations with Pakistan seems a dubious one at best. The prospects of negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban seem akin to stepping in front of an oncoming train to negotiate physics.

But it is with the women of Afghanistan that the real change and real hope lay, which makes Farkhunda’s horrific and tortured death before the eyes of the world all the more potentially politically incendiary. Thought it may not be apparent from the outside, Afghan women have made great strides from the Taliban era where they were whipped with car antennas for not being sufficiently covered or subservient. A new generation of Afghan women artists and singers- and politicians- have come out of the shadows and are increasingly taking their place in society. Courageous schoolgirls brave the threats of acid attacks every day in order to study and learn, just as their grandmothers did in the days before the Soviet incursion began the downward spiral of the social and physical destruction that set the country back generations. Unlike other equally troubled nations like Iraq or Yemen, the strides of Afghan women, both up an down, bear testimony to the country’s long history of not only with diversity and relative gender equality, but with financial and social prosperity, a trend line that uniformly mirrors the fortunes of any society’s women.

Fannie Lou Hamer once famously described her motivation to ascend to leadership in the African American Civil Rights movement as “being sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Perhaps the soul wrenching tragedy of Farkhunda will provide the same spark Emmitt Till’s death did, and unite and engage Afghan women, who have suffered far too long and too deeply. Farkhunda’s final words, as she tried to defend herself were “What was my sin?” Hopefully, the entire Afghan nation- men and women alike- will recognize her martyrdom- a term for once used appropriately- and know that their collective sin would be inaction in the days and years ahead.






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Split (2017) HD

Director : M. Night Shyamalan.
Writer : M. Night Shyamalan.
Producer : Mark Bienstock, Jason Blum, M. Night Shyamalan.
Release : January 19, 2017
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Blinding Edge Pictures.
Language : English.
Runtime : 117 min.
Genre : Horror, Thriller.

‘Split’ is a movie genre Horror, was released in January 19, 2017. M. Night Shyamalan was directed this movie and starring by James McAvoy. This movie tell story about Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

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Romney and The Tebow Effect

He wasn’t his first choice and he wasn’t his second choice. Those two were undoubtedly the safe choices, Pawlenty and Portman, the two mainstream, blow-dried stiffs who’d have been happy to stand innocuously behind Romney like political wives on prozac. But most importantly for the Republican nominee, either of those choices would have said that Romney was enough. A do-no-harm sidekick would have told America that Romney didn’t need any help, just a warm, competent body. But with sliding poll numbers starting to solidify unfavorably, Willard Romney bowed to the Republican party and monied voices around him and did what he is most loathe to do- he gambled and took Paul Ryan as his running mate. While this was supposed to be his moment, like John McCain before him, he now finds himself little more than an MC between a rock star and the teeming mosh pits of true believers. The pick also tells us all that the party is looking past their lackluster nominee to a future with the man Dick Cheney said he “worships the ground he walks on.” No one ever said that about Willard Romney, and from now on the Tebow Effect will be in play- the fans will be watching their hero standing on the sidelines rather than the guy who’s actually on the field.

But unlike four years ago, Romney’s problem is even worse in key respects than John McCain’s. Unlike the comical Sarah Palin, who also lit the fire and drew the crowds, Ryan will also be the one who can handle questions and speak to the press. Where Romney lives on a seven second delay before answering any question to try to avoid a gaffe, Ryan answers questions quickly and effortlessly. Where Romney gives off the odor of a slimy used car salesman who will say anything to see you drive a new car off the lot, Ryan earnestly looks the camera in with big blue eyes and is frank and honest, or at least as frank and honest as a politician can be.

What makes the Ryan pick most interesting is that it tells us the actual state of the Republican Party. It tells us that the conservative wing of our politics is betting that 2012 will either be a replay of 1964, when their champion ideologue provided the national spear tip for their movement, or 1980, when another right wing zealot considered unpalatable to the American electorate was packaged well enough to make the sale. Either way, the guys and gals with the money, the most conservative of the lot, will feel vindicated. They will have injected their draconian political virus into the American bloodstream and cutting their taxes even further and killing off Social Security and Medicare will be on the table.

Those voices in the center and left of center, like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who are chuckling and licking their chops over the Ryan choice would do well to review the 1980 race. The left made the very same noises and were staggered when their seemingly moribund incumbent with few answers proved no match for a candidate with new energy, a sense of vision and purpose and an ability to wrap himself in the iconography of Americana. While Barack Obama is not Jimmy Carter, he is far more “likable” and does not have an international hostage crisis on his plate, his presidency certainly has stalled. Whether you, quite rightly, observe that there really isn’t much an American president can do about international finance, or point to congressional gridlock, it is hard to argue that his administration appears mired in political mud. There is no “vision thing” coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Neither Romney nor Ryan is Ronald Reagan, but a lot of folks on the right, with very deep pockets, are wagering that Ryan could become his own generations version. Win or lose, they now have the franchise quarterback to build their team around, and while they’d like to win this year, their eyes are on their golden boy for the future. Those in the center and left, who have essentially done nothing but back-pedal since Lyndon Johnson was run out of town, had better start looking past the sputtering unions and the tired old veterans like Biden’s and Hillary’s for young talent to fight the next generation’s wars. And it would help greatly to have someone with the “vision thing.”