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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Furnace of Hell

syrianrebel02The most important thing that virtually every American should know about Syria, and the wider region in general, is that they have absolutely no clue what is going on there. No clue at all- and the ones who know it best, journalists like Dexter Filkins- will be the first to admit this. Politics is a game of ambition, loyalty, agenda, wealth, improvisation, wit and cunning and very few Americans know about the politics of their own country let alone anyone else’s. So, with virtually no understanding of the region, the people, the cultures- and most of all the politics- it should come as no surprise that every time the America military has gotten involved in the region, it has made matters catastrophically worse- and improbably, worse for everyone, on all sides. But no one in American government, with the very fortunate exception of the President, has been able to digest or accept this inarguable and clearly and easily measurable factoid.

This avoidance of this reality should not really be too surprising, as it goes directly against the image that America has of itself- as the cowboy with the white hat, the lone international “good guy,” the one who vanquished the evil forces of Nazism and Imperial Japan and made the world safe- the triumph of Christianity and American democracy. And God’s favor was even further demonstrated by the advent of televisions, refrigerators and Detroit made cars and trucks and subsequent global dominance of American popular culture. For Foster and Allan Dulles, the brothers who seamlessly integrated their Evangelical Christianity with the Gospel of America into their design for America’s post-war foreign policy, anyone who didn’t fall into line with their Americanization project, and didn’t mind contributing their natural resources to the cause, was a “communist” and had to be dealt with. How to do this became the question that defines both President Dwight Eisenhower personally, and the future of American foreign policy from that day forward. 

What the world needed, President Eisenhower and virtually all of the American elite of the day believed, was “American leadership”- especially those involved in the American economy which preyed on the resources of the Second and mostly Third World, especially energy producers in the Middle East.  The problem was that the recent debacle in Korea had demonstrated how challenging, expensive, and shockingly ineffective, it was to use the military to enforce it. Much better, more effective and less expensive on all counts, would be to simply secretly influence “friendly” regimes, even the most despotic if they were with the American program, while simultaneously sabotaging “unfriendly” ones. To do this, Eisenhower, who was eager to bypass the Pentagon, Congress and feared the growing “military industrial complex,” made the fateful, and calamitous,  decision to bypass all of those institutions- and the Constitution with them. He authorized Allan Dulles’ the Director of the CIA to turn the agency from an information gathering operation into an armed shadow military to be directed out of the White House that would covertly stage coups against the recalcitrant elected leaders they didn’t like like Arbenz in Guatemala or Mossadeq in Iran in favor of dictators, which became America’s favorite and most useful and effective partnerships (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile…the list goes on and on). America’s culture war with the Third World soon dropped into cruise control. The great problem, however, is that it turned out much of the world didn’t want Coke or a Chevy, didn’t like being ruled by Western leaning despots and wanted to maintain their traditions, cultures and religions. People generally don’t like others coming in and telling them how to live- yes, even the poor ones, a reality that shocked the Washington establishment.

But the writing was on the wall for anyone who had ever studied History or Foreign Policy. It was only a matter of time before the Third World would spit out the yoke of Western colonialism and imperialism- just as America itself had a few hundred years previous. When he visited Algeria in 1957, then Senator John F. Kennedy asserted that the future was with independence for the Algerians, not with the French and other Western colonial powers whose days were numbered (The same was equally and obviously true in Vietnam, which is why it is probably unlikely that JFK would have pursued that conflict the way the reckless and stupid way those who succeeded him did. ), but by the 1960’s America had built an empire, predominantly corporate, whose interests were globally enforced by the CIA and was in no hurry to see it dismantled even as the depth of CIA crimes began to be uncovered in the 1970’s to American international embarrassment.

And then came Iraq, which will prove to be the United States’ most damaging mistake- and one that would have Ike sitting up and screaming from his coffin- even though it was a direct result of his own terrible decisions. Saddam Hussein was the inevitable case of a pet despot who got too big for his britches and made a move the CIA couldn’t respond to. He was bound to happen. George Bush Sr. revved up the American military and made a complete, half-done, hash of the situation which his dimwitted son then blew up into a full blown disaster area it is today. “Dubya” Bush wanted to prove to the world he could hammer in a nail and ended up slamming the hammer down on the American thumb. What started with the installation and servicing of the most corrupt dictators- Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the Assad Clan in Syria, the Ba’athists in Iraq, the “Shah” in Iran, etc, ended with a military sweep through Iraq that obliterated every conceivable aspect of governance and social order, leaving complete chaos and anarchy in it’s wake- the most fertile environment imaginable for the worst strains of radicalism to grow. And grow they did. Shock and awe indeed.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Fortunately for America, the one person who does understand this dismal history is President Obama, who has very wisely resisted every call to re-involve America and its military- and the militarized CIA- into the Hell Holes his predecessors created in the first place. He appears to be the only sane person in the Washington power structure who understands that sending American assets into the region is akin to sending a gardener with a hedge trimmer in to perform an open heart surgery.

Take another look at this image above. This is a seven year-old boy. Seven. This is how his generation in Iraq, in Palestine, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, is going to grow up- those who will grow up and not end up exploded and rained down on a street or in canvas bags in ditches. After generations of being ruled by dictators who suckled at the teat of Western largess who are now being challenged one by one, the paths to power for the next iteration of leadership left, rightly, to their own devices in the Middle East will be convoluted and necessarily ugly. And we in the West have no way of knowing how it will turn out- and that should not be surprising. But it is their journey, however gruesome it may turn out to be. Thanks to the jaw-dropping ineptitude of the Bush/Cheney Administration, America has now, finally, lost all control and influence in the region and there is simply no part for it to play, no scale to put the American thumb on anymore. The truly astonishing track record of the Bush Crew and their handling of Iraq should tell every American all they need to know- it’s no place for America.

 

 

 

 

The Arab Summer and the Wisdom of “Doing Nothing”

obama_clownsIn September of 1918, British Field Marshall Edmund Allenby’s army finally vanquished the Turkish forces and arrived in Damascus. T. E. Lawrence, known in the press as Lawrence of Arabia, was already there with what he hoped would be the first congress of Arab tribes who would join together to create the first pan-Arab state. This, Allenby’s colleagues worried, could not be allowed to happen. When one asserted that “Surely you can’t just do nothing,” Allenby replied “Why not? It’s usually best.”

What Allenby understood was that the drama of the Arab League had to play itself out and that there was no place for his army in it. There no side to take, and he knew that his troops would literally not able to tell the difference between them even if there was. Unfortunately, however, the British did also have a larger plan- to hand all of Syria over to the French which was literally the birthing moment for the mess we are witnessing there now. Instead of Lawrence and Faisal, however, the wound that has festered for a hundred years how harbors a much more virulent disease know popularly as al Queda and ISIS, and there will be many more mutations to come.

President Obama is now facing almost the exact same moment that Allenby did today. All around him- literally almost everyone around him in Washington DC- is wailing that “something must be done,” when in fact Obama is doing exactly the right thing- nothing. And doing “nothing” is not the same thing as an absence of action or decision, it is both, and that’s what the American people do not seem to understand, little thanks to a unitary corporate-owned media machine that pedals self-righteous jingoism and fear in equal measure.

For seventy years, divine, God sanctioned, “American Exceptionalism” has been our excuse to stomp around the globe to impose our evangelical vision of how the world should work and behave, a vision which not coincidentally has aligned seamlessly with the needs and aspirations of corporations eager to encourage, and profit from, the appetites of the American people for more and more of everything. But, as is apparent to every American living in the reality-based world, those days are over. It is impossible for 2% of the world’s population to maintain a diet of over 20% of the planet’s resources. We have pigged out as much as is possible and our century of gluttony has taken its toll not just on the rest of the world, but on our very planet itself.

The most important realization that the American people need to face as a nation is this- that “American power” and “American leadership” have always been thinly veiled euphemisms for nakedly having our way with the planet and its resources- and putting down those who question our right to do so.  Our power, however, has never been anything more than duct tape, temporary fixes that suit our current needs without ever producing an actual long term solution. Consider that everywhere- literally everywhere- the American military has been deployed since 1950 not only failed to improve any international problem, it has always- literally in every case- made it much worse. In every case, we have been like the plumber who comes to fix and leak and leaves with water spewing everywhere. The partition of Korea, needless to say, has been a disaster. The Vietnam War did nothing but prevent what was clearly inevitable for a handful of years at the cost of 58,220 wasted American lives and billions of dollars. Our covert actions in Chile, Paraguay, Iran and elsewhere all blew up in our faces. And then, there’s Iraq.

As bad and as damaging as all of those blunders were, they are all dwarfed by the decision to invade Iraq, the full fruit of which is only now started to bud. It’s the difference between smashing a few coffee mugs in a cafe and driving an SUV through its front window. While we as a nation are loathe to face it, that is exactly what we did in Iraq- we trashed it, and with it the fundamental design that Allenby and his cohorts created for the Middle East. The old imperialist jig of installing friendly dictators to keep local populations under control is fully up. Now, the “Arab Spring” is turning into a sweltering and gruesome “Arab Summer.” And it’s only just warming up. The sectarian wars for supremacy will get much, much worse in the coming years.

The most shameful part of all of this for American foreign policy makers, beyond the bloodshed and destruction, is the predictability of the horrific and bloody mess that is now spilling out across the region. Forget for a moment about the “weapons of mass destruction” lies that were used as a pretense, more glaringly, it is almost impossible to comprehend how anyone with any education or understanding of the region might think that Western soldiers invading an Islamic land would be “greeted as liberators.” More unfathomable still is the notion that a government ready to bow down before “American interests” would organically spring up in the rose pedal laden wake of the soldiers, like some sort of Chia Pet that just needed American watering. Getting all of this so very, very wrong is akin to a brain surgeon considering cutting off a patient’s head before operating. But we all stood by and let it happen.

But now it’s done. We can’t find Saddam Hussein and get him to go back and clean the country up, as much as we’d all like to do just that. And even if we could, even he, with his gruesome brand of political barbarism, would not last forever. He too would have eventually found his way to either a courtroom as Hosni Mubarak did, or the far worse fate of Muammar Gaddafi, having his penis and scrotum cut off and stuffed into his mouth. And it’s too late to find another Hussein or Sadat or Mubarak or a Shah and prop him the way we used to. Those days are over- that that’s the part the American people have to understand and deal with. The rest of the world has grown up and we are no longer the striding colossus we were after World War II. We no longer have the means, militarily or financially, to have our way with the countries of the Middle East or to enforce the borders drawn up for the convenience of our need for cheap energy (and remember, it was a dispute over those very imposed borders between Iraq and “Kuwait,” a city state deliberately carved out simply to deny Iraq a major port on the Persian Gulf, that set all of this into motion).

And so, a hundred years after Allenby, President Obama is facing the very same scenario, an Arab world essentially tribal and sectarian in composition that must now finally fight it out among themselves to design their own lands- their very old Union vs Confederate shindig. “Iraq” is essentially gone now and likely so is “Syria” and Jordan could well be next. There are no good, or even better, sides in the coming years of battle for America to side with, even if we had the capacity to do so. Simply doing nothing is the only choice we have because every other option simply means making things worse. The scary part is that the president seems to be the only one that understands that.

 Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

 Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

 Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

 Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

This Year’s Model

loudIt was only a matter of time before one of the hundreds of talking heads that have flooded cable television previewing Sunday’ Super Bowl, said of Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman, “Does he have to be so loud?” The speaker was one of a seemingly endless line up of ex-NFL players vying for a second career in broadcasting. He was, unsurprisingly, white and oblivious to the weight and significance of his question. And, of course, he was not alone. Variations of this question have filled the airwaves ever since Sherman’s exuberant post-game sideline interview where he declared himself to be the best at what he does. And he did so loudly to be sure. Also not surprisingly, he was roundly referred to as “a thug,” among other epithets which all mean the same thing, what white people used to call “uppity.” And there was usually another word that followed. The Richard Sherman episode is just the latest evidence, if evidence was needed, that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of United States did not exactly lead us into the “post-racial era” that the goofiest of pundits predicted.

But wait, you might say. It’s not about Sherman being black, it’s about him being so loud and such a braggart. Why does he have to do that? Or as former quarterback and current pundit Boomer Esiasan put it, “You don’t hear Peyton Manning doing that.” But if you are going to ask this question, what you are really asking is “why do all of those people have to be so loud?” To even consider asking that question of Sherman, let alone African Americans, would betray an astonishing ignorance of the country in which you live.

When he was eight years old, and for all intents and purposes a feral orphan, James Brown used to dance for white people at the foot of a bridge for whatever change they threw his way. It’s how he ate. When he was old enough, he began to shine shoes on the steps of a radio station, a radio station he would later own. He sang and danced throughout his teen years until he got a break when Little Richard couldn’t make a few dates which went to Brown instead. His success, and the revolution that he brought to popular music, were the product of one thing and one thing only- James Brown’s belief in, and love of, himself. He loved himself so much, he told others, because “ain’t nobody else goin’ to do it.” He succeeded because he drew attention to himself at every possible opportunity and then made the most of each one that came his way. He wore outrageous clothes in bright colors and worked harder than anybody else in the business, a business whose every door he had to kick open with his own “uppity” demands. And a business that tried to steal and cheat from him at every opportunity.

Though he at least did have a family, Jimi Hendrix faced the same business. He was not a Southern blues player who was going to be content playing the chitlins circuits. Though we take his iconic status for granted today, in the mid-60s rock guitar was a white man’s game. Like Brown, Hendrix dressed in wild and fleshy clothes to help draw attention to himself, but still never got any traction in America. It was the British who discovered Hendrix who then sold him back to us. The life and impact of Muhammed Ali hardly needs retelling, but the salient point being that he too was “loud.” Like Sherman, Ali too called himself “the greatest.”

The biggest mistake we can make in discussing Richard Sherman, however, would be considering him as evidence of progress for African Americans. Sherman, like the men referred to above, and many successful African-American women, is an extraordinary person. Sherman is obviously not in the same cultural league as James Brown, Jimi Hendrix or Muhammed Ali, but he is, like them, superior at his craft. While it is gratifying to know that at the least African-American men who excel in high-profile and coveted professions can be successful, they represent a microscopic proportion of the population. The reality is that the prospects for young men who look like Richard Sherman in America, the guys white people lock their car doors when they see coming, but who do not possess his athletic skills- who can’t “Be Like Mike”- are getting considerably worse rather than better. State provided education in this country has all but collapsed, as has the job market for those without education. Unemployment for young black men who have not been educated is over 50% and far too many end up, literally, clogging up the prison system.

So if you watch the game on Sunday, and you see Richard Sherman strutting his stuff remember where he, the America all of us, came from. Remember our shared history and on whose shoulders he stands- Sheriff Bull Connor’s as well as Muhammed Ali. And then look for a moment at the leader of the other team, who is indeed a nice, polite white boy that the media fawns over. But he is also a notorious cheater who designs and executes “pick plays” he knows full well are against the rules. And he is shameless whore who will prostrate himself to sell anything, from cars to predatory credit cards to garbage pizza made by a business that tries to deny healthcare to its workers.

Though it will do nothing to help with our dire national problems, my biggest hope is that Richard Sherman returns an interception for a touchdown to win the game for his team. What’s really wrong with America is not Richard Sherman. The loud black guy who was a 4.0 student at Stanford and has made the most out of every opportunity he has had, is a genuine role model America can be proud of, not a suckling cheater who happily uses his voice to shill for harmful products that are bad for people.

JUST SAY “NO,” HILLARY

hillary-no02In October of 1980, Muhammad Ali came out of retirement to face the reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World, Larry Holmes. Ali was 38 years old and the relationship between his body and his brain was already seriously deteriorating. Holmes was just 30 and not only in his prime, but was already clearly one of the best heavyweight fighters of all time. He had a left jab that kept opponents at bay, battering their faces until his right hand finished them off. But for Ali, a victory would have been history making, an unprecedented forth win of the heavyweight title. He had already beaten a heavily favored, big punching opponent in George Forman by simply laying on the ropes and letting the bigger and stronger man punch himself out- on Ali’s own head and body. He thought he could do it again and took the terrible risk not only to his image as a winner and titan of the ring, but of further damage to his already troubled brain. Most of those around him, and in the press, knew how it would turn out, including his long time doctor Freddy Pacheco who walked away in protest. But as is usually the case with celebrities and ego ventures, sycophants fed the bonfire of vanity and we all watched one of the most pitiful and sad episodes in sports history. Holmes not only physically battered the legend, to the point where he was not only overtly avoiding knocking him out, but was literally begging Ali to throw in the towel to spare them both further embarrassment. From that day forward, Ali became a figure not just of triumph, but more of terrible sadness and even pity.

Today, Hillary Rodham Clinton finds herself today in what could be the very same place- considering lacing up the boxing shoes one more time to chase history. And if she does it, like Ali, she will very likely lose not only the contest, but could seriously damage her stature as a respected icon and public figure. Here are the four reasons why.

1. The Hate

Like Ali in 1980, Hillary is an extremely controversial figure. But unlike Ali, she is hated in more than equal measure than she is loved. While she would have more than enough money and a famous name, the hate within her opponents burns much deeper than her support does. The very utterance of that name still sends blood pressures soaring in great swaths of this country, and does so on both important levels- politically and personally. Sure, you might say, she has “Hillary’s Army” of women and misty eyed old school liberals and her candidacy would begin very strongly with thousands of eager supporters knocking on doors and registering voters. But she had most of those same people in 2008 when she crashed in burned in breathtaking fashion.

Yes, you would be right in pointing out that much of the Hillary hate is about old white men who remain uncomfortable with a woman in charge, and but it’s more than just that. Fairly or not, Hillary remains the last representative of the old Fleetwood Mac School of liberalism that held “if it feels good, do it.” It is the notion that so many Americans now feel is responsible for the lack of decency and accountability that plagues our society and culture. She remains the embodiment of 1970’s feminism who denigrated housewives across the land when she alerted the country that she didn’t “sit around baking cookies.” She remained with a husband who, like him or not, clearly and openly had affairs with other women throughout her marriage. On most wives, and especially political wives, sticking with philandering husbands looks like strength, and endurance and commitment. On Hillary it just looked like a calculation and worse, even suggesting that her marital vows were more about political partnership than about love or family. Her cool demeanor throughout the Monica episode, as with the Gennifer Flowers or Paula Jones before that, did nothing to dispel this image. If she hurt, as she surely did, America didn’t see or feel it. As a result, for many Americans, she and her pussy hound husband represent- are literally the faces of- the dissolution of “family values,” and the disruption of the social order upon which so many Americans perceive the nation was built- abortion on demand, and the premeditated trade-off of handouts to illegals and welfare kings and queens who don’t want to work for votes. Naturally, these “family values,” are mythic and the Clintons are hardly to blame for the 1960s and 1970s but the point is that they are the face of those times and those values- a point that would be hammered home endlessly by opposition advertising. Far from being the victory lap some foresee, the great reservoir of bitter vitriol awaits a Hillary presidential run lay just below the surface and it will be very, very easy to tap. It would be a nuclear and divisive culture war that a fresh face from the Democrats would not ignite in anything approaching the same scale.

2. Whitewater, Vince Foster…and Benghazi.

Those who love to blame the opposition that President Obama constantly faces on the color of his skin need to take a serious look at the archives from the Clinton years. While his skin is obviously at the root of much of the hatred he faces, the truth is that Mr. Obama has never faced anywhere near the unprecedented onslaught of lies and negative media garbage that the Clintons were subjected to. No sooner had Bill Clinton become the Democratic nominee than the right wing pet “Arkansas Project” was formed by conservative stalwart and resident sleazebag Ted Olsen and his cohorts. Their job was simply to dig for and throw as much dirt at the Clintons as they possibly could possibly could. And they took the novel step of gleefully bypassing anything even remotely resembling verifiable truth opting instead for the Richard Gere and the Gerbil Principle, that a lie told often enough becomes public truth, thus establishing the playbook. The two great examples were Vince Foster’s suicide and the mess that came to be known as “Whitewater.”

Ludicrous political absurdities are commonplace today, just ask our African born, illegal immigrant communist president, but they all have their origin with Vince Foster. The films and stories surrounding Foster’s death created on nascent technology were breathtakingly bizarre-and what was so amazing was that so much of it actually got traction in the public mind. Millions of Americans were fully able to accept the idea that Hillary and Foster had a long term affair for which Foster had to die. Or that Foster was a lynch pin in a vast conspiracy at the Rose Law Firm, and had to die. Or that Foster was part of the greatest drug smuggling and distribution cabal in the history of the world, one headed by Bill and Hillary Clinton along side their child prostitution ring, and before he could talk, he had to die. It was all there, all unfathomable, but to this day various strains of this virus persist- but more importantly, the puss infused boil burst over all of us, spawning the vast cesspit of wingnut websites that prey on the stupid and sell teeth whitening scams and opportunities to view arrest records and mug shot photos of celebrities.

Less bizarre was the Whitewater fiasco, where the Clintons had hooked up with some fairly unsavory, yet pedestrian by Arkansan standards, characters to develop real estate. Prior to finding any improprieties, the Arkansas Project declared it “a scandal” assured it would only be a matter of time until it actually became one. It never was, at least until Bill sat down for a deposition and was ambushed by Lewinsky’s soiled dress.  But that is a very different story. Nothing else ever came all the years and investigations into the Whitewater investments and dealings- far worse a witch hunt than anything Mr. Obama has ever endured.

The point here being simply that should Hillary lace up the boxing shoes for one more bout, ALL of this stuff will reappear like a backed up toilet and it will flood our airwaves and Internet space all over again. And, needless to say, add a meteor turd shower from the Benghazi Universe to the sewage flood. The same amoral, bloodthirsty woman who lured Vince Foster to Fort Marcy Park dressed as a homeless to surprise him with a gunshot into his brain also sat gleefully planning the death of Ambassador Stevens and as many other Americans as she could possibly kill in Libya. Instead of a respected former Secretary of State, the very second she declares her presidential candidacy, a biblical flood portraying her as the most vile, reptilian figure in American political history. It will dwarf anything we’ve ever seen before.

3. A Bad Candidate

Unlike her exceptional husband, who got away with the previously unthinkable with hardly a dent in his popularity, Hillary proved beyond a reasonable doubt in 2008 that she does not possess his skills or charm. From her ill-advised online announcement video forward, she amazingly fumbled the ball every time she touched it. “Let’s have a conversation?” Cue eye-rolling…pah-leeeze.  Her second gargantuan mistake was the hiring of the toady hack Mark Penn, whose ideas and strategy was as obviously wrong as could be. She, and he, showed terrible judgement when facing a charismatic upstart, in deciding not to even contest Iowa. At every stage afterwards, they inexplicably neglected to count delegates or contest caucuses and had effectively lost the race before it really got started. Obama’s win in the Hawkeye state lit the fuse that would leave her vaunted “can’t lose” campaign in rubble.

Strategy blunders aside, Hillary is also simply not a good candidate in public. She is not good at giving a prepared speech- she sounds wooden, coached and inauthentic. But more importantly she is just not good with people. She can’t walk into a room and shake hands comfortably, you can almost feel her gritting her teeth until she can get a squirt of Purell. She cannot appear relaxed and genuine in any setting. Take, for example, her ridiculous attempt to hang with folk at an Indiana bar and take a shot of whiskey as though she were one of the them. It was a terrible media moment which only reinforced her image as pandering and inauthentic. At every turn in campaign mode, at the podium or in the crowd, Hillary comes across with forced smiles that for too many voters feel borne of calculation. Where she a more lovable figure, able to pull of one-liners and be authentic and charming, she might be able to counter the sewage explosion her candidacy would face. One of candidate Barack Obama’s lowest moments came during a debate when he so ungentlemanly noted that she was “likable enough.” It stung because it was not true. Sadly, she just isn’t.

4. The Opposition

One of the things that makes the pro-Hillary forces giddy is the prospect of an easy campaign against an opponent from the mouth foaming, wingnut faction of the Republican party. Conventional wisdom currently holds that, having lost twice in a row with pseudo-moderate candidates McCain and Romney, this time the Republicans will offer up a “true conservative,” along the likes of Rand Paul or Rick Santorum. Such a candidate, the Hillary camp believes, would be easily vanquished and even dealt a Goldwateresque massacre at the polls that would assure her leverage in her first hundred days in office. But the problem is that this is not who she is really likely to face. There is a reason McCain and Romney dispensed with their dimwitted, wingnut party opposition to gain the nomination, and that reason is money- and not just cash, but the power behind those who give it. After the Obama presidency, and the spectre of Elizabeth Warren and the scrutiny of Dodd Frank financial reforms, the power and money in Wall Street, from hedgefunds and anywhere else a CEO makes more than a few million a year, will get behind the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. But wait, you might well say, Christie can’t win the Republican nomination. Do the math. Yes, Christie will probably not win in Iowa, but he won’t avoid it and he won’t be facing anyone with charisma, let alone the first viable black candidate. He will be facing the same turd assortment that Romney did. He will rebound with at least a strong showing in New Hampshire, and will pile up several folksy media moments and quips along the way. And then the money will flood the airwaves and when Super Tuesday rolls around the tin-foil-hat brigade will be scattered like cockroaches when the light comes on. Rand Paul will hang in there to the end to make his family point, that stupid is modeled, but it will be a slimmed down Christie who will be accepting the Republican nomination. And his Vice Presidential pick? How about New Mexico governor Susana Martinez? Two Republican governors of blue states, both with clean hands from outside the Washington establishment?

Chris Christie is Hillary’s Larry Holmes. He will be in his prime and as a very successful Republican governor of a blue state, will embody the future. He’s pragmatic and he’s bold. As a candidate, he’s the very opposite of Hillary, he could take a shot and slam the glass upside down on any bar in this nation with no problem. He can wear a suit and talk policy or he can wear a flannel coat and hunt deer. But most of all, he can walk through a room with relaxed genuineness and connect with folk. He can talk to a single person, or a television camera with equivalent ease. And most importantly of all, he can quip and deliver one-liners the way Reagan could. The contrast between the two could not be more stark. Being the very embodiment of the tired veteran of the Washington that the country now rightly finds so detestable, lumbered with decades of putrid personal and political baggage, she would have little chance against Christie. Seriously, imagine the dismal likes of Al Sharpton, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson, the stooge gallery of union leaders and other hacks from the grimy Washington establishment waving from the Hillary parade float. Christie could ride up along side with fresh vigor as a genuine outsider, alone in a pickup truck, and point at them all with one clear message- “it’s time to get rid of these assholes.” Hard to argue that point, isn’t it?

And so this is very likely the choice before Hillary. Will she listen to those around her tell her “she’s the champ?” Will she slide her tired legs into the boxing shoes one last time to face a potential pummeling that will be the public’s lasting memory of her- not just as a loser who should have stayed home, but as the Butcher of Behghazi? Or will she be content to be who she is now, a much respected, if not necessarily loved, figure in American culture. Rather than get into the ring herself, she could add weight to a representative of the next generation of Democrats and remain a champion and venerated elder statesman of all times, and as a woman who blazed the trail for American women for evermore. But will she resist the temptation? No, of course she won’t. No one, it seems, ever does.

 

 

 

Why Gays and Guns Win

gaysnotguns02For the past month the media, unlike the actual public, has been obsessed with the issues of gay marriage and gun control. The issues have been portrayed as twin harbingers of a new more liberal age, a 1960’s redux, that has brought out all of the old battle lines. But this, in fact, is not true. These debates, and the inexorable success of gay marrige, and the equally certain failure of gun control legislation, are very much issues and outcomes of our current time. Though their discussion is happening at the same time, the two issues couldn’t be more different except for the one constant at the center of them both- the power and control of government.

It is not overstating the case to say that America is as polarized today as it has been since the Civil War, which was the blueprint for Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that still represents the Republican Party today. These lines have become hard baked over the last two decades by the lucrative squirting of media lighter fluid onto the bonfire of social and economic discontent. But the most common mistake that talking heads and the general public make is the constant complaint that “government is not working,” or that our representatives are not “doing their job.” On the contrary, they are working, and doing their jobs- which are not to pass legislation, but to represent their constituents- very well indeed. Extreme members represent extreme districts and states, and do so very well by polling and focus grouping the landscape on an hourly basis. And this is exactly why gays and guns are winning the day.

There are several reasons why opposition to gay marriage has eroded steadily over the last twenty years. First and most powerful, sadly, is the AIDS crisis. Before the AIDS epidemic, gays and lesbians were not that far from Stonewall. Towns had gay bars and major cities like New York and San Francisco had thriving gay communities, but at best there was a prevailing “live and let live” ethos. AIDS changed that. AIDS was a clarion call to “come out,” and over the decade of the 1990’s America realized that gays and lesbians were not “them,” but “us.” The result was that the generation of Sally Rides, who hid their lives and loves in order to be functioning participants in society and culture (functioning, that is, without the legal and tax benefits of marriage), gave way to a generation of gay and lesbian people in all walks of life holding hands and openly declaring their love for one another.  Another powerful factor has been the increasingly powerful portrayal of gays and lesbians in the media that has helped inure a younger generation. Over the course of the last twenty years, America has come to know that gay and lesbian people are not just the clowns like the dimwit in picture above in the pink net dress, who clearly was not helping the debate, and “dykes on bikes” but everyone else in all walks of American life. Being gay became no big deal and even those like the man in the dress now fail to get all the attention they crave.

The acceptance of guns in our lives and culture have taken a very similar trajectory. Guns, like gays, have slowly overcome their negative, supercharged, media stereotypes. Though they are obviously not similar or analogous in any other way, the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School doesn’t represent gun owners in American any more than a morbidly obese man crawling on his hands and knees wearing nothing but a leather thong and a dog collar represents gay people. Your gay dentist and your neighbor with a handgun responsibly locked in a drawer are not news but they are really who we are.

But it’s really in their relationship to government and its power where these two issues intersect. Two decades ago, Will Portman would probably have not come out, to his family let alone the public, out of respect for his Republican father’s political career. But doing so made the government’s role in obstructing him from the legal benefits that all other Americans enjoy all the more obvious and onerous, to the senator and to everyone else who isn’t benighted by retarding religious dogma. Government restrictions on the American people’s rights to make their own choices is antithetical to the fabric of our nation. And so it also is with the right to own a gun.

None of the proposed gun restriction laws would really have much impact on gun violence in America. Background checks would remain easy to get around and would be impossible to enforce. Large ammunition clips are all over the nation and would remain easy to get. There will most certainly be another terrible episode where a mentally deranged person will kill others with an assault rifle. That just is, and will remain, part of American life. But as tragic as that will be, like assault weapon violence in general, it will represent an infinitesimal percentage of gun deaths, the vast majority of which come from handguns- which themselves don’t even approach the numbers of violent deaths caused by baseball bats, knives, crowbars and the like.

In a month or so, the memory of Sandy Hook Elementary School will pass from all those Americans who didn’t lose a loved one. The next Sandy Hook will create a momentary clamor to once again do something about gun violence, which will once again die down after a few months having initiated no new legislation. But while the Supreme Court will be loathe to decide on gay marriage, and will look for any opportunity to punt, nevertheless, state by state, statute by statute, restrictions to gay rights will fall away because at the end of the day, we Americans just don’t like the government- and worse, odious, self-important Napoleon complexers like New York mayor Michel Bloomberg- telling us what to do. We prefer it when corporate America does that.

 

 

The Worst of Us: Nixon at 100

From the beginning there was something wrong, something reptilian about Richard Nixon. His black eyes never revealed even a flicker of warmth, humor or anything resembling humanity. His blank, baleful stare was what you’d expect in a mugshot from someone who had calmly performed an unspeakably heinous act, which is in fact exactly what he did. It is to America’s everlasting shame, and the cause of everlasting damage, that so lowly and disgraceful a person as Nixon was ever admitted to our nation’s highest office. The most important lesson Richard Nixon left us, was not about him, it was about us. It is how so base and crass a person manipulated us all and how we allowed that to happen.

Richard M. Nixon was not the first person to get into politics to try to fill a hole in a soul bereft of any sense of self worth. Politics is, after all, a performing art, and many who are drawn to public performance are seeking affirmation and usually even love they have not received from more normal and healthy avenues. Many have honed their performance skills out of sad and desperate need for attention often, as in Nixon’s case, to compensate for indifferent or even hostile parents. The best develop talent and skill in singing, dancing or acting to share and even enlighten the rest of us. The worst, like Richard Nixon, succeed by deciding there is no deceit or shame too great to bear to get the attention they want and need- even when they know they have lied and cheated to get it.

Nixon knew from his earliest days that he was not only without charm, but was not a particularly likable person (he often ruefully compared himself on this score with John Kennedy). This was no doubt reinforced by his mother who never recovered from the loss of her eldest son, Harold, from tuberculosis in 1925 and who from all accounts was never impressed by any of her younger son’s accomplishments. Nixon endured equally all manner of discouragement from the woman who would eventually become his long suffering wife. He even pushed himself literally into the drivers seat of her life, lowering himself to be her chauffeur on dates with other men until after a relentless two year assault, she finally relented to his dogged advances to her everlasting regret (she absolutely hated being a political wife).

His first run for congress against popular Democrat Jeremiah “Jerry” Voorhis was an afterthought. His name was entered simply because no credible Republican challenger to Voorhis had emerged. But Nixon set upon the course that would shape the rest of his life- to win by smearing Voorhis with outright lies about fabricated and untrue links to the Communist Party. Like so many of Nixon’s future opponents, Voorhis was totally unprepared for so low and unethical an assault- and even more shocked that it could be successful. Nixon held dear W.C. Field’s maxim that “anything worth having is worth cheating for.” And cheat and lie Nixon did without shame or conscience at every turn for the rest of his life.

The real tragedy of Richard Nixon is not how he lived his own vile and debased existence, but how he contaminated all of ours. Corruption and politics have been intertwined throughout human existence, but Nixon not only abandoned basic decency and any previously shared nominal ethical baseline, he ultimately, and without shame, nakedly shook off the shackles that the law itself imposed on his ambitions. When his web of lies and crimes finally began to unravel in public, like Jerry Voorhis, the nation was simply unable to grasp the depth of his defilement of the highest office in the land. There had certainly been presidential scandals before Nixon, but the very thought that a president would plan office break-ins to be financed from secret safes filled with cash made dirty from the grimy fingerprints of criminals from his desk in the Oval Office was simply more than we could all get our heads around. It took years for it all to sink in.

But Nixon’s personal disgrace has proven to be the least damaging part of his dire legacy. Nixon’s true endowment to American culture and politics is the rooting of a immovable tree of bitter cynicism, the stinking fruit of which Ronald Reagan was able to wave under the noses of the American people a few short years later as he declared “government is the problem.” Despite the stupidity of that infamous remark- government is nothing more than the enforcement arm of the people’s elected officials- the institution has never recovered. Not long into his own presidency, Ronald Reagan sat a the very same Oval Office desk while plans were drawn up to illegally circumvent the Constitution and great strides were taken to learn from, and avoid, Nixon’s missteps. Twenty years later, another Nixon protegee, Dick Cheney, would go so far as to take his former boss one better and create a criminal shadow government from the Vice President’s office that would deceitfully and covertly lead an inexperienced and thoroughly witless chief executive into a disastrous war, the full accounting of which is a decade away from full tally.

All of this is the price we have paid, and will continue to pay, for allowing the worst among us to achieve positions of awesome power. Were we all to poll a hundred people in our families and work circles and ask “do you think government is just a bunch of crooks?” we all pretty much know what the results would look like. This is the grim disease that Richard Milhous Nixon bequeathed to us, which has only spread and become darker and more pervasive as time has gone on, and sadly one which we have shown no signs yet of being able to cure.

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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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