Posted by on August 1, 2016

The title to this blog, which is how humorist Dorothy Parker used to respond to her doorbell, sums up my expectations for the current American political scene.  For this reason, I have done my best to avoid the conventions, but news does occasionally break into my protective cocoon.

I did watch a video of Donald Trump’s excellent 75-minute imitation of Benito Mussolini (complete with jutting jaw). Not surprisingly, in addition to being the jobs and national security candidate, Trump has exploited the recent cop shootings to proclaim himself the law and order candidate.  Someone forgot to tell him that law and order is largely the responsibility of state and local governments, but then he has already made clear that he has never read or understood the Constitution.

Outside of the convention, Trump had a typical week.  First, his campaign manager announced, to the amazement of all, that Trump will not be releasing his tax returns, making him the first candidate in four decades not to do so.  Trump continues with the sham that he cannot do this while they are being audited.  Apparently, even Richard Nixon released his returns under these circumstances.  As Reason magazine summarized it: “That’s how shady Trump is: He makes Nixon look like a model of transparency and accountability.”

Trump also caused a kerfuffle with his request for Russia to release Clinton’s lost 30,000 emails if they have them.  Frankly, this is all nonsense since Trump was obviously being sarcastic, although his own campaign’s release of retractions and modifications did little to make this clear.  It also didn’t help that Trump claimed to have never spoken to Putin, although this directly contradicts statements he had made during the debates and elsewhere, when he claimed to be “stablemates” with Putin and to whom Trump “spoke, indirectly and directly… who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”

It is tough to be senile and a pathological liar in the age of YouTube.

Speaking of pathological liars, I have not yet exposed myself to the 65 minutes of nails-on-a-blackboard known at the Hillary Clinton acceptance speech, but I promise to do this and report back.  I am especially interested to hear her justification for “free” public university education for the children of families making up to $125,000 per year, particularly when the K12 public schools are already doing such a great job that fewer than 40% of high school graduates are ready for reading and math at the college level.  And before the further quality dilution that a policy of “free” universities would inevitably cause, 40% of college graduates lack the problem solving and critical thinking skills required for professional work and 35% of college undergraduates exhibit no intellectual progress between their freshman and senior years.

I am definitely in favor of anything that promotes the type of educational and personal advancement described by George F. Will in this short and excellent, but regrettably fictional, commencement address.

I am also definitely in favor of anything that will promote additional inflation in tuition costs, which even The New York Times realizes is not an unlikely consequence of this policy, just as it has been a result of all the earlier government subsidies.   This will give rise to calls for yet more government intervention in the virtuous circle that statist so love, probably ending up with Hillary Clinton proposing a cap on tuition costs, as she has done for drug prices under similar circumstances.

I understand that Barack Obama gave another Lego Movie speech about his economic track record at the Democratic convention, coming hot on the heels of the third straight quarter of pathetic 1% annualized growth.  He also executed some take downs of Trump, including a claim that the American people “do not look to be ruled.”  This is pretty perplexing coming from the man whose administration is setting records for new regulations (see Bootleggers and Baptists here), at a cost of $108 billion per year (if we accept the government’s own highly flattering figures).

The most humorous news to come out of the conventions, however, is the effort of some GOP donors to tempt Justin Bieber into a convention appearance with a $5 million payday for a 45-minute performance.  They obviously did not realize that his appearance could have only swayed a bunch of 13-year-old girls who can’t vote anyway.  If you are looking for any proof that the Republicans are both figuratively and quite literally tone deaf, this is it.  Fortunately for them, the Biebs turned down the offer for the same reason that right-thinking Republicans avoided Cleveland: he didn’t want to sully his brand by associating with Trump.

But there was actually one moment when the conventions rose above the level of low farce.  This was the solemn and powerful speech given by Khizr Khan, the Moslem father of an American soldier killed in Iraq.  Khan offered to lend Trump his copy of the Constitution, which caused his pocket-sized edition to race up the best-seller chart on Amazon.  The buyers will probably be devastated when they realize it isn’t large print.

Of course, Khan’s speech would have been even more solemn and powerful if the speaker, along with the entire Democratic Party, had acknowledged that Hillary Clinton has been hard at work for years to put his son, and the sons and daughters of many other parents, in harm’s way.  For less than nothing.

A plague on both of their houses.

Ultimate Electoral Irony

The Democrats love to decry the deformation of the Republican Party under Trump.  Here’s an example in a Paul Krugman tweet from July 22nd: “Odd: after years of being ‘shrill,’ warning that the GOP was not a normal party, hard to know what more to say now that it’s obvious to all.”

Well, Paul, there is one more thing that you could say.  And that is that the abnormality of the Republican Party is the direct result of the influx of working-class voters.  Who used to be the key constituent of the Democratic coalition.

This is clear from reading articles such as Ronald Brownstein’s “The Class Inversion of American Politics Accelerates” in The Atlantic.  The theme of the article is “the shift since the 1960s of working-class whites from the Democratic Party to the Republican, and the parallel movement of more white-collar whites from the GOP to the Democrats since the 1980s.”  A movement that, according to Geoff Garin, the chief strategist of Clinton’s 2008 campaign, is due to “Trump’s combative views of cultural issues and diversity” which are “driving away some college-educated voters who usually lean toward the GOP on economic issues – even as they may be luring more blue-collar whites.”

In short, when Trump blew the dog whistle, a bunch of former Democrats came running.  I guess their previous owner didn’t do a good job of training them.

Debbie Wasserman Schulz

Wasserman Schulz would have been an excellent candidate for an OPE (“Obscure Public Enemies”) award, but after the recent Democratic National Committee email scandal, she is now a minor celebrity.  However, that doesn’t mean that she has not earned a quick denunciation.

After listening to Wasserman Schulz – let’s call her “WS” – on a number of occasions, and being struck by the outstanding mediocrity of her words, I looked her up on Wikipedia.  I was not disappointed.

After attending a 3rd-tier university, where she earned a BA and an MA in the misnamed field of Political “Science” (the latter degree with a “certificate in political campaigning,” whatever that may mean), WS headed immediately for the public trough.  Thereafter followed a career as a political aid, a state representative, some teaching posts at public universities (also in Political “Science”) and then the US House of Representatives.  In other words, she has not done an honest day’s work in her entire life, which has been an accomplishment-free zone.

I was particularly struck by a bill she sponsored while in the Florida House of Representatives calling for “gender equality” in dry cleaning bills.  This burning issue speaks not only to the triviality of her thought and life, but also her crippling statism.  If she truly thought that an industry was arbitrarily price-discriminating against women, then the logical response would have been to start a business that would have become highly successful on the back of the misogyny of her competitors.  But a parasite like WS would never think this way.[1]

But probably the most disgusting thing about WS is her professed “love for politics and the political process.”  Recast these words as a “love for the attainment and exercise of force against my fellow humans” and her contemptibility becomes clear.

How dare these people aspire to be our rulers?

Clinton Cash

There is a video making the rounds entitled Clinton Cash.  The documentary traces the interlocking relationships between Bill Clinton’s speaking fees (which totalled an astonishing $105 million between when he left the White House in January 2001 and when Hillary Clinton left the State Department in January 2013, according to The Washington Post), the Clinton Foundation (and its donors, including plenty of crony capitalists and foreign governments from the seedier parts of the planet), Hillary Clinton’s official actions as the Secretary of State, and Bill Clinton’s unofficial interactions with the heads of foreign governments.

The video is almost implausibly damning.  Could the Clintons really have been this transparently and stupidly greedy?

The video lasts over one hour.  If you want the Readers Digest version, then I suggest a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal entitled “The Other Clinton ‘Change.’”  This makes a strong case that the “nominal non-profit” Clinton Foundation is in fact “a shadow Super Pac, designed to keep the Clintons in the national headlines, cover their travel expenses, and keep their retinue employed between elections.”

Something Lighter

If you are looking for something lighter to watch, then this video of a commencement speech by an 8th grader is perfect.  The speech is given in successive impersonations of Trump, Cruz, Obama, Clinton and Sanders.  Not only does the speaker mimic beautifully their speech and mannerisms but he also captures the essential vacuity of their thoughts, proving either that he is exceptionally precocious or politicians normally function at the level of an 8th grader.  I won’t spoil it, but his comment about Bernie Sanders and the cinnamon rolls perfectly captures the essence of the Sanders’ movement.

Wardrobe Failure

The story of Hillary Clinton’s $12,495 Armani jacket, worn while giving a speech on income inequality, has been widely reported.  The comment that this prompted has been widely circulated in the blogosphere:

I’m not sending this to blast Hillary for giving a speech about inequality, while wearing a $12,500 Armani jacket.  I’m posting this to give props to Armani, for being an excellent example of capitalism and being able to sell a potato sack with sleeves to a corrupt socialist for $12,500, which in this case, holds about 180 pounds of bullshit.

I think that this is what makes Clinton fundamentally more hateable than Trump.  For all of Trump’s innumerable faults, he is what it says on the package.  Whereas Clinton is hypocrisy in its most refined form.

I once saw a video of a speech given by Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for the presidency, before the Conservative Political Action Conference.  It is probably one of his best.  Near the end, he gave some advice to the young people in the audience:

Back to some more advice, worth exactly what you’re paying for it.  Tell the truth.  Keep your word.  Be on time – it shows respect.  Don’t say one thing and do another – that’s hypocrisy and that’s unforgiveable.

Say what you want about Johnson’s policies, campaigning skills and electoral chances, there is one thing that is certain: he is the only possibility we have in November to vote for a decent human being.

Roger Barris

Weybridge, United Kingdom

I Wish That I Had Said That…

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims maybe the most oppressive” by C.S. Lewis

“I’ve heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn’t sound any better in Russian” by Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess champion and anti-Putin activist, commenting on Twitter about Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention

“I won’t offer judgment on whether Elon (Musk) is lying with intent or simply doing so out of a terrible mix of exuberance and incompetence, but the net result is the same. Tesla investors are being deceived” by a Seeking Alpha contributor as it is increasingly obvious that the Tesla story is unravelling

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails” by Hillary Clinton on Fox News discussing her earlier claim not to have exchanged classified emails on her private server, a statement that promptly earned her a coveted Four Pinocchios from The Washington Post

“If Leni Reifenstahl were alive, Trump would hire her to film this speech.  Then not pay her” by Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute


[1] And, in reality, she would have been foolish to do so since the price-discrimination was almost certainly fictional.

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