Hillary Clinton and ‘wish I would have said that’ syndrome

I voted for Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t even close to being my favorite candidate of all time, but, frankly, I wanted to see a woman in the White House and I didn’t want to see Donald Trump in the White House. So my vote was clear. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton is releasing a book right now. … Continue reading “Hillary Clinton and ‘wish I would have said that’ syndrome”

I voted for Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t even close to being my favorite candidate of all time, but, frankly, I wanted to see a woman in the White House and I didn’t want to see Donald Trump in the White House. So my vote was clear.

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton is releasing a book right now. It makes something very clear. She was a victim of bullying and now she is letting us know that she wishes she would have said that. It’s something we all do when we are bullied, but we don’t all get paid for big public speaking engagements to do it.

Donald Trump is a disgusting creature – there is no doubt about that – but with this book, Hillary Clinton shows us who she really is, a mean, petty, angry old white lady – actually, sort of exactly the profile of the women who voted for Trump. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that she didn’t win the election – except that someone who is just as awful and quite possibly worse won the election.

Why couldn’t we have had a female candidate like Sarah Silverman? Why couldn’t we have had a candidate like Oprah? In 2016 we had a choice between a bunch of lame old white people. Bernie Sanders sounded great but even Fidel Castro in Cuba wouldn’t have been able to deliver what Sanders was promising…He was just another delusional old white dude…yeah, he’s a crotchety old Jew and yeah, I would have voted for him if he had made it to the general election – but Clinton was in charge of the party machinery and she ran the most inept campaign in modern history. Worse than Al Gore’s!

Now here she is, lashing out at everyone and anyone. Blaming everyone else for her loss. Trying to justify to herself that she was cheated and using the rest of us to do it. She wasn’t cheated. She was bullied and she ran a terrible campaign. Jeb Bush isn’t releasing a book and he was bullied far worse by the bully in chief. The biggest problem in Clinton’s campaign was her tone – (and that was Jeb’s problem too) – her tone sounded like she probably really is – she sounded like she thought she was better than everyone around her. Her gesstures to silence applause with that smug look on her face. Her toneless and arrogant speech patterns and then her incredibly awkward attempts to make herself into the everyman or everywoman. When you know someone is arrogant as fuck and they are working hard to bring themselves down to your level – it doesn’t work. It makes people resent you. The message you are sending is “I know I’m better than you but look, I can lower myself to communicate with you” and that message sends a big fuck you to those people. And those people want to see you fall. And so we had that versus the super rich asshole who was just who he was. And the super rich asshole won. His message was “I’m better than you but you can be as good as me” and hers was “I’m better than you but I can be as low as you”

That’s it – end of story. Well, that and that the width and breadth of racism and sexism in this country was vastly underestimated after 8 years of Obama.

So now we get to hear Hillary tell us all the things that were done to her, how she was victimized, and all the things she wishes she would have said. We get it, Clinton. Nobody likes to lose to an asshole – but all you are doing with your book is showing us that we had no choice to begin with – an asshole was going to win this election either way.

The Whirlpool – A Parable of Our Times

Our world is beautiful. There are moments in each day (many of them) when the breath of life should fill us with joy. Each morsel of food, each flower we pass, each exotic smell or sound. The colors of life are beyond wonderful. We should all be ecstatic.

But we are not.

Something has happened which is pulling us down and destroying all of our lives. We are caught in a viscious cycle that none of us created. The solution will require all of us to be onboard with it. I can’t for the life of me figure out how that could happen. The events of 2016 and forward have demonstrated just how gargantuan and improbable a solution is.

Here is our problem – told in a story.

Imagine a cafeteria filled with children sitting at tables. Each child has a stack of paper. Each child has a large box of crayons. They can create art for as long as they want – there is no shortage of materials. There is plenty for each of them.

One child starts crumpling paper and throwing it at other children. Then one starts throwing crayons. The children who want to keep drawing and coloring are hit now and then as the paper and crayon throwing continues. Gradually, the paper starts to ruen out for the paper throwers and the crayons start to run out for the crayond throwers. Certain kids start taking the materials from other kids – some of them ask and use beautiful sounding words, others use force, others use deciept and theft. An enterprising child starts to gather the materials from the floor – a suggestion is made that materials from teh floor should be put in a central box on each table. Those kids who have avoided the paper/crayon war so far are eventually forced or coerced into putting their paper and crayons in the central box. Certain people are put in charge of the materials, they dole them out, horde them, or share them. Gradually, an economy arises where acts have to be performed to be given materials. Those who do not help clear the floor, uncrumple the papers, or do other service are not allowed to have materials. At this point there is a lot of crying – there are a lot of attempts by the broader minded children to create fairness – the kids who want to throw things, the kids who want to horde things, the kids who want to cheat and steal and exploit – they don’t stop. They may start being sneaky about it – but the system they have created continues and they start putting together bigger secret piles in secret places – under the table, in the corners, etc. Their hordes grow larger and larger as they are not constrained by the rules – and meanwhile, the kids who didn’t do anything wrong, the kids who followed the rules, the kids who are not to blame for the artificial scarcity are forced to work instead of draw, they are forced to give more and more time to get the materials that were theirs in the first place, they are sometimes left unable to even get a single broken crayon or a single crumpled piece of paper. Meanwhile, in thier strongholds, the bosses of the crayon/paper cartels draw, play, laugh, and tell their minions to continue the chaos which has allowed them to take control – of everything.

And that’s where we are.

There are solutions, but they are not easy. Since there are no adults to restore the initial balance … the children must discover the solution on their own. We should all be able to live and enjoy our lives – what will it take to make that so?

Poverty on Oahu

Yesterday, I took my wife and daughter for a ride to the West side of Oahu. They hadn’t been there yet. We rode along the beautiful road which goes between the mountains and the sea in Nanikule, Wainae, Makaha, and the small communities in between. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve been there – it’s changed. The last time I was there, there were tent towns stretching along most of the coast – now the tent towns are interrupted by watered golf courses and Disney resorts. The poverty hasn’t gone away, but the gentrification is in full movement mode. My wife’s reaction was something like “It’s like a completely different nation. Low houses, no high rises, no Safeway, and no big tourist businesses.” And then as I pointed out the shanty’s and tent villages hidden behind the kiawe bushes, she started to feel the anger that our society lets so many slide by. The kdis playing in front of the scrap wood and tarp shelters, the adults peeking out of the shadows, waiting for the next sweep of the police or parks department to shove them to someplace else. It’s easy to pass the homeless and think ‘Oh, they must have drug or mental problems’ but there are families, seniors, people who simply cannot make it here. “The government should provide for them,” she said, and I agree. There are many programs which offer assistance, but none of this should be allowed – and then you see the huge gold courses, the giant touristic facilities, and the ever increasing tourist buses and rental cars…there is something seriously wrong. And then there are those who are on the edge of poverty – we passed an older couple over on the windward side of the island a few days ago – in my former hometown of Kailua – which has become so unaffordable that even the middle class cannot afford to live there – this couple was sitting by the side of the road in folding chairs holding a sign “We’re short on rent – even a little bit helps. We don’t want to be homeless” – and like nearly everyone else, I drove by reading the sign too late to stop and too busy trying to make a few dollars to give away a few dollars – but even though I drove away, that sign didn’t stay behind. There is something seriously wrong here. And on that note, I made another observation yesterday – it used to be that the homeless camps flew Hawaiian flags, the shacks, the tents, the enclosures – yesterday, on the drive up to Kaena Point on the west side – I didn’t see a single Hawaiian flag flying from the homeless camps nor from the weekend beach camps of residents – for some reason – that troubled me even more than the homelessness itself….

Fundamental Systemic Problems – #1 – Wealth

There are fundamental systemic problems that are literally killing us – both individually and as a species. Unless we can get a handle on these issues – we are almost certainly doomed. The first problem is wealth. Not wealth inequality, not wealth distribution, not how wealth is earned or spent – but simply wealth. Wealth is a fundamental systemic problem.

Wealth allows for exploitation, individual versus collective good, and a disporoprtionate allowance of power in terms of access, accumulations, and use of abilities. Wealth is very good for the individual who has it – but, as history has shown us, very bad for everyone as a whole – including the person who has it. This is a matter of long term versus short term good. The individual profits while the species, the biosphere, and the planet as a whole is degraded.

The problems of wealth are not a new revelation, though for most people, wealth appears to not be a problem at all. The main issue is that wealth has so firmly entrenched itself into our system and into our worldview that the idea of ending the concept is not only unfathomable but completely abhorrent to nearly everyone – including this writer who feels that he completely understands the problem of wealth intellectually but still has an inherent desire to strive for wealth personally because of the short term net positives wealth could bring to my individual life, the life of my offspring, and potentailly, the good which could be done if wealth of any size were accumulated and controlled.

One hopes that there is a way to end wealth once and for all – because it is the fundamental drain on our existance – however, given the above – it is unlikely that such an end would be pursued, allowed, or embraced by anyone. While there are religious and philosophical systems which have eschewed wealth, there has yet to be a political or economic system where wealth of one kind or another has not found a way to flourish.

Wealth is a fundamental systemic problem which appears to have no solution. As such, it may be best to move on to further systemic problems. Your thoughts are appreciated here as more than one brain is definitely better than just one.

The Hidden Dangers of the POTUS

The POTUS is easy to make light of. It’s easy to not take just how dangerous he is as he gives a buffoonish speech to 40,000 boy scouts in which he touts an ultra-nationalist agenda, demonstrates to young people that it is okay to be an a-hole, and uses the event to push his sociopathic agenda. All of this stuff as he publicly shames the attorney general he hired, puls back from promise after promise, and seemingly accomplishes none of what he set out to do – all of that is dangerous in itself – but the real danger is that behind the scenes, behind the cover of the great buffoon, beneath the radar of massive undertakings that are nearly impossible to fulfill, there is serious policy work being done and serious culturla shift taking place in the the fibre of the USA. I’m glad to no longer be on the mainland, surrounded by bafflingly vehement Trumpers who appeared to have brains but appear to have stopped using them. Oregon, a state that is ruled by liberal politics but inhabited by a massive number of poor white people who actually still believe that Trump is their saviour – that he has their best interests in mind – that he is there to HELP them. Not just poor, uneducated, white industrial workers – but all those closet racist baby boomers (and let’s be clear here, baby boomers are white Americans born between the 40s and the early 60s) who secretly don’t think a woman can do as good a job as a man, who secretly think that white people are naturally better than non-white people, and who are convinced that they deserve a good life more than anyone else. That is Trump’s base – and it’s not shrinking as we watch him turn our highest office into a mockery – no, his base is growing. As unbelievable as it seems to an educated liberal like me, there is no denying it – his base is growing – and I promise you – he just won a whole new generation of voters. Trump is causing a massive shift in the ideology of the United States. He is taking plays from the dictator playbook daily. He is making us immune to the dangers of totalitarianism with his seemingly foolish actions – but there is nothing funny about threatening to fire people as they stand next to you on a stage, there is nothing funny about demanding political opponents be investigated and jailed, there is nothing funny about loud, yelling, nationalist chants in front of brown shirted adolescent boys. I’m grateful to have left the mainland. I’m grateful to have my family in Hawaii and away from so many of the Trumpers, but they are still here – I see them on construction sites, military bases, and in business suits. We, the people of the United States, are in a very deep lake of shit – and it’s time to stop laughing about how funny it is or how unlikely it is that we are here or how it’s impossible that things can get worse. We’ve been walked right out here laughing our heads off and denying it could happen. It’s happened. It’s happening. It’s not good and not getting any better.

Where Does Capitalism Lead?

I’ve established (many times) that I am not psychic. So I won’t spend a few paragraphs guessing where the world economy (or the American economy) is heading. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. We are in uncharted waters.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what capitalism is and what it isn’t. One thing I’ve heard frequently is that the Chinese economy has moved towards capitalism – that is not true. First of all, let’s get a definition of capitalism out of the way. Websters offers the following:

an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

There are three key concepts here – private or corporate ownership and control rather than state (although I think corporate ownership is something altogether different), the use of investments for control, and competition in a free marketplace.

Ownership and Control of the Means of Production
In reality there are four types of economies. Primitive, Command, Market, and Mixed. In a primitive economy the means of production belong to the producer. A command economy gives control of the means of production to the state. A market economy gives control to the market itself and a mixed economy combines aspects of command and market economies – for example – the government controls education and the post office in the USA.

So, capitalism itself in a pure form would be a pure market economy with no government intervention or control. Essentially, capitalism leads to big fish swallowing small fish and small fish trying to get big enough to swallow smaller fish and eventually to swallow big fish. Capitalism may start with a level playing field (in an idealized world) but eventually it leads to Disney owning Marvel, Pixar, ABC, and every other entertainment company while Google swallows every new technology company, Facebook eats all the social fish, and JP Morgan eats all the other banks. In the meantime, the capital itself is consolidated into not just top corporate hands, but also into top tier individual hands – the 1% of the 1%. Capitalism is not about making a profit from your work – all economies are built around that. Capitalism is about mergers and acquisitions of the means of production, distribution, and disposal. It’s fish eat fish until there is only one fish that has nothing to eat and then we have a ‘Too Big to Fail’ situation where government steps in and saves the big fish – at which point, we are no longer talking about capitalism and free markets – we are talking about a command economy with the illusion of capitalism.

This is where capitalism leads. As I said at the outset, I’m not psychic. I can say for certain that capitalism leads here because it is where we are. As the World Bank and IMF sail into the bizarre waters of Quantitative Easing on the winds of salable debt and free spinning currency production – we have left the market economy behind though we still cling to the idea that a free market is running. In truth, the US economy has been a mixed economy for a long long time. We are closer to a command economy now than we have ever been. And part of the reason this has been allowed to happen is because people have this crazy idea that capitalism means making a profit. China is not capitalist. And yet, they make huge profits and have more entrepreneurs than any country in the world. China is a command economy. The US is a command economy with bizarre monetary leftovers of a market economy.

And that leaves everyone who is not in the top 1% vulnerable. The means of production and the power to overcome regulations to production, distribution and disposal exists only at the top of the pyramid. Capitalism leads to vast inequality first and then to an increasingly command economy ruled by corporate or private interests that are dependent on expansion and growth of market share. At a certain point, that expansion and growth can only be achieved by opening new markets through politics and war. And the gross inequality leads to either an altruistic super-state or to genocide of those unable or unwilling to produce for the corporate controlled government.

So where should we be heading? I’m not sure it matters. My personal preference would be a sort of socialist syndicalism market economy. That is, the government controlling certain essential industries (agriculture, medicine, housing, education, security) and worker/user owned syndicates or co-ops competing in a free market for everything else. But the question is moot. We can go nowhere until we see where our current monstrosity takes us.