The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: Hillary Clinton

The Barbarism of Donald Trump

I go where the logic and numbers take me, which is why I said that Donald Trump’s economic plan will work if he actually follows it.

But Trump is beyond the pale, and I’m not talking about his support for deportations and various racists statements and policies, I’m talking about this:

The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract. It seems that there is a point that is hardwired in us. When we draw water into our respiratory tract to this point we are no longer in control. All hell breaks loose. Instinct tells us we are dying. I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You know you are dead and it’s too late. Involuntary and total panic. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It would be like telling you not to blink while I stuck a hot needle in your eye. At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved. I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.

I didn’t allow anybody else to try it on me. Inconceivable. I know I only got the barest taste of what it’s about since I was in control, and not restrained and controlling the flow of water.

But there’s no chance. No chance at all.

So, is it torture?

I’ll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I’d take the fingers, no question.

It’s horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I’d prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I’d give up anything, say anything, do anything.

The Spanish Inquisition knew this. It was one of their favorite methods.

It’s torture. No question. Terrible terrible torture. To experience it and understand it and then do it to another human being is to leave the realm of sanity and humanity forever. No question in my mind.

This is the torture that Trump thinks is mild.  He’d do worse things.

This is my bright red line. I don’t know where yours is, but when a regime starts torturing or raping as a matter of policy, I’m out.  This is why I have no tolerance for any bullshit about Pinochet with his rape rooms and trained dogs to rape women. This is why I have no time for George Bush.

One can make lesser-evil arguments, and I have with respect to various despots–Saddam tortured, Qaddafi tortured, Assad tortures, the Egyptian regime tortures.

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These people all cross the line. They are all evil. One can then say, “What will happen if we invade is worse,” and be right, but that does not signify approval of the regimes.

It would be easy enough to rid ourselves of such regimes if we were willing to run a rich world, where things were getting better for everyone. Look at pictures of Kabul from the 70s, or Pakistan. A world order which believes in a genuinely good ideology, which provides better futures, which doesn’t torture and rape itself can deal with such regimes. The great flaw of the post-war world was that it was offering prosperity but refused to offer it evenly to everyone (though it was better than the neo-liberal era), and certainly didn’t believe in Democracy.

Your ideology, your stories, only work properly for you if you actually fulfill their requirements.

But back to America. I don’t know if Clinton will torture. I know Bernie Sanders won’t. I know there are options available in the American election that don’t sell the tattered remains of America’s soul.

Yes, Trump’s economic plan will work, but the cost is your soul. Bernie Sanders’ economic plan will work too, and it doesn’t cost you your soul.

Let’s be explicit: For a time, fascism works. It worked in Italy, it worked in Germany.

It is time-limited, which is why Germany had to start grabbing, but it works.

You get yourself Trump, he’ll make the economy work. But his plan has leaks, like his insane tax cuts, which will show up in time. If he only wants eight years, no problem. If he wants more, he’ll have to find victims to prop up his economy. War is the ultimate stimulus, so is looting.

But he’ll be very popular. America will follow him off the cliff. They followed George W. Bush after all, and he wasn’t half as popular as Trump will be.

In the macro sense there is no free lunch. You cannot run a good industrial economy for long without determined recycling of money and without controlling the oligarchy. That means high tax rates. The only other solution is looting.

And in the meantime, Trump will be torturing people.

Americans have a real, progressive option on the domestic front. I have my problems with Sanders, but if you want a chance at a good economy without giving up all human decency, I suggest you go for him.

As for Clinton, I cannot in good conscience endorse her. I believe there is little that Clinton wouldn’t do. A woman who embraces Henry Kissinger has claimed her circle in Hell as well.

Clinton and Trump Win

Donald TrumpMargin is about 4 percent for Hillary. Trump’s victory is crushing.

Sanders won the majority of Hispanics, but African Americans broke hard for Clinton.

It seems unlikely that Sanders will win South Carolina, given the make-up of its primary voters.

Much of this depends upon whether Bernie’s momentum in the polls continues. African Americans are an important constituency, but if he can extend his numbers with Hispanics and women, he’ll be in good shape.

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As for Trump, I don’t see a scenario that doesn’t involve his health, where he isn’t the Republican presidential candidate.

If he runs against Clinton, a lot of Sanders working class voters are going to vote for him, not Clinton, but his bashing of minorities may cost him the election. Unlike mainstream pundits, I am not 100 percent certain of that: After all, mainstream pundits also said there was no way Trump could win a primary.

(Update: I wasn’t going to comment on Jeb dropping out since he’s been such a non-factor, but I think it’s worth noting that he did speak out against Trump’s demonization of Hispanics and his anti-Muslim ban. That said, the fact that Trump said George Bush Jr. lied the US into Iraq and still won this primary is revealing.)

First National Poll Shows Bernie Up Over Clinton

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004

Fourty-seven to fourty-four. Within the margin of error, but given the very well established trend, I’m inclined to believe it.

Clinton went down fighting against Obama (which I admired), and I’m sure she’ll go down fighting against Bernie, but at this point, absent some shocking news, I think she’s done.

I really don’t understand Clinton’s campaign. She seemed to feel so entitled to people’s votes that she didn’t even bother to pander and lie. No you can’t have a $15 minimum wage, universal health care, free tuition, Glass-Steagall, or most other things.

I’m glad she told the truth, mind you, but it’s still strange to see someone so blind to political realities.

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Clinton has run almost entirely on her biography, on being “capable,” without seeming to understand that her biography includes a lot of actions that primary voters might find objectionable.

She has assumed that women would vote for her, in effect, because she is a woman, and that minorities would stay massively in her column.

Right now only African Americans are holding steady for her; the numbers on virtually every other group are breaking for Bernie.

This is going to get super-ugly, because Clinton can’t win based on who she is, or on her platform, so she’s going to have to fling every piece of mud she can find and hope that something sticks.

She can’t even run on being more electable, because polls are increasingly showing Bernie does better against Cruz or Trump. He even does better than her in a three-way competition with Bloomberg.

This is going to be the most interesting election season of my life. I suppose it already is. Get out the popcorn, and roast your weenies. We may be roasting on fires in the antechamber of Hell, depending on who wins, but at least it’s fascinating.

On Hate

My recent article on Hillary Clinton and the reasonableness of hating her caused some confusion, especially when I said I don’t hate Clinton, though surely there are good reasons to do so.

The issue is this: While it is reasonable to hate people who have done great wrong to ourselves or to other people, hating does the hater little good and much harm.

Hate, and its brother, anger, can supply energy and motivation, but they are like shots of adrenaline. Over time they damage  the body and poison the mind. If used at all, they should be used in moderation, lest you hurt yourself more than the person you hate or at whom you angry.

Worse, this world is full of people it is entirely rational to hate. From those who run the corporations poisoning the world, to those engaging in wars which should not be fought, to those profiting from those wars, to—well, the list is, if not endless, long enough that no one can reach an end, though Dante tried in the Inferno.

Hate is thus never-ending, a poison cup which runneth over. No matter that you drink it to the dregs, it is ever full.

And, for me at least, hatred and anger are unpleasant. I do not enjoy the experience. Oh, like adrenaline or coffee, there’s that shot of energy, but it’s an ill feeling overall. It’s very hard to feel free and easy and happy and be topped up with hate.

Nor is hate necessary. There is no need to hate Clinton, or Bush, or Obama, or ISIS or anyone else in order to oppose them. Not hating doesn’t mean you have to be “nice” or “agreeable,” it simply means you are choosing not to allow a particular emotion to be your experience of the world.

Feel free to oppose evil with glee or happiness or delight. The evil doesn’t care about your hate, only the effectiveness of your opposition.

You can oppose evil without allowing it to control your mind or your emotions at all. If you find you can’t stop the anger or hate (or any other emotion), well then, you no longer control yourself, do you? Your enemies, in effect, are choosing your consciousness for you.

That seems like a very great power to give to one’s enemies, or to anyone else, for that matter.

So, no. I don’t hate Clinton, or even Bush, Jr. Not any more. Nor am I angry at anyone for longer than an hour or two, and rarely even that long any more. The last time I was angry for long was during the Greek crisis and I didn’t like it. So the question I asked myself was: “Is my being angry helping the Greeks in any way?”

No, it wasn’t.

So I stopped being angry, and was happy.

Letting anything in the world, let alone your enemies, control your consciousness, is foolishness. Again, if you think you’ve made a choice to hate, try to choose the opposite. Say: “Today, I will not hate or be angry, I will choose to be happy instead.”

If you can’t, you may have a problem.

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The Problem with Hillary Clinton

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

A lot of people don’t like Hillary. Some on the left even hate her.

For a few, it may be because she is a woman. For most it has much more to do with policy.

Pretending that people are unreasonable when they hate a politician who voted for a war which was a war crime is good spin, but it’s not honest.

Hillary Clinton voted for war with Iraq. She defended that vote for years, though she now says it was a mistake.

Hillary Clinton defended the “Welfare Reform” put in place by her husband.

Hillary Clinton was for the Patriot Act.

Hillary Clinton voted for TARP.

There are real reasons to dislike, and even hate, Clinton.

Let us be clear, I do not hate Clinton. In 2008, I supported John Edwards, but when he dropped out, I supported Hillary. I did so, because after reading her platform and Obama’s, I decided she was slightly to his left. I also believed she would be far more likely to remove Bush apparatchniks from government posts, something Obama eventually did not do. I believed that Clinton was slightly to Obama’s right on foreign affairs, but not enough to matter.

The fact that Obama made Clinton his Secretary of State indicates I was correct on that last point.

Indeed, when Clinton said she was staying in the primary race because you never know what might happen, and the left-o-sphere exploded with accusations that she was calling for him to be assassinated, I defended her, and I believe I was the only person who did so on Huffington Post’s front page.

None of this is to say that Clinton was, then, a good candidate, simply that I considered her better than Obama.

So, I don’t hate Clinton. I don’t even dislike her. I am only one step from her, I know a LOT of people who know her, some of whom are her friends. By all accounts, she is a very likable person.

But, based on her policy decisions, she is either monstrous, or has terrible judgment. She is, at best, a “Lesser Evil” candidate. It is not deranged for people to dislike her or even hate her–she has supported policies which have impoverished  and killed millions. If that isn’t reason enough to hate someone, I don’t know what is.

Of course there are those who do hate her for being an uppity woman, or for various conspiracy reasons (Vince Foster!), but it’s perfectly possible to hate her based simply on her public policy positions over the years.

I don’t like Sanders that much. He’s far better than Clinton on domestic issues, and he’s been on the right side of some important foreign policy issues, but he’s quite problematic on foreign affairs overall. Still, he’s clearly been better than Clinton on enough big items that matter, which is to say that, yes, if you’re a Democratic Primary voter, I think you should vote for Sanders.

Hillary also appears to have become worse on Foreign Affairs over the years. Her hatred of Putin and Russia, in particular, worries me. It feels to me that Clinton still views Russia as the USSR, and that she personally dislikes Putin (not surprising, given he has personally denigrated her for being a woman).

I don’t see Russia as that significant of a threat, and I think treating it as if it is one is more likely to make it one. I also don’t like saber-rattling against a nation which has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world multiple times over.

Hillary is a conservative politician with bad judgment. Bernie is a left-center candidate whose policy suggestions would be mainstream in most European countries (for instance, real universal health care).

Hillary is good on women’s rights and she is a woman herself. There is an argument that having a woman president is important. It is, from a left-wing perspective, the only strong argument I can think of for choosing Hillary over Sanders.

But, to me, at least, it doesn’t trump voting for the Iraq war. That’s a lot of dead people to write off.

Your mileage may vary.

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