Point of View Columns

The Final Debate – What Hillary Should Say

On October 19, 2016 we will be witness to the denouement of the strangest presidential campaign in the modern era. The candidacy of Donald Trump has in turn degraded, disgusted and utterly confounded most Americans. Nevertheless, Donald Trump stands more than a puncher’s chance of becoming the successor to Barack Obama and the 45th President of the United States of America. And while it is clear that Hillary Clinton left some money on the table after the first two debates, she now has one more chance to take a direct shot at a target that is as slippery as an eel in an oil spill.

So here are a few things that she should say during this third and final Showdown in Las Vegas:

1. Hillary Clinton’s E-mails
Recent Wikileaks disclosures have revealed ambivalent comments by Hillary Clinton during private speeches. Other e-mails from the Clinton Trove indicate that her political operatives are…….surprise, surprise…………political operatives. Hillary should say:

The U.S. government has determined that your Russian friends are responsible for the hacking – hacking that you encouraged several months ago – that has revealed a number of my private e-mails and that of my private operatives. As usual you have lied, misrepresented and misled with respect to the contents of these emails.

I will just say three things. First, the American people can go online and read the e-mails and see that there is nothing, wrong, illegal, immoral or dishonest in any of the e-mails – the business of politics is a complicated business, but it is a lot more honest than the real estate dealings in which you have engaged during your spotty business career – just ask your unemployed former workers in Atlantic City.

Second, as you well know, actions speak louder than words. And I will not take second place to you – ever – when it comes to my dedication and commitment to progress and prosperity of the American people.

Third, and most importantly, Donald, thanks to your Russian friends we now know about the contents of my e-mails. But Donald, it is up to you to let the American people know about the contents of your tax returns. Thirty years of my tax returns are a matter of public record.

The American people want to know what you have to hide. Are you not as rich as you say you are? Are you less generous than you claim? With whom are you doing business? Russians? Saudis? Chinese? Inquiring minds in America want to know.

2. Temperament
Donald, by now everyone in America knows that when you don’t like the truth your natural response is to attack and distract and lie. Your sordid record with Trump University demonstrates that you have a very low estimation of the intelligence of the American people and that you have very real tendency to seek out the weakest and most vulnerable of us to feed your seemingly insatiable desire for wealth and power.

You are clearly prepared to dredge up the past when you think that it is to your advantage. But the misdeeds and misbehavior of my husband, which are well known and for which he has apologized and paid a heavy price, pale in comparison to bald-faced embrace of sexual assault and degradation of women on your part.

What is worse is that you attack your accusers and deny the words that have come out of your own mouth. In your heart of hearts, if you have a heart Donald, you know that the American people will not swallow your lies and false denials and canned apologies. Perhaps your language has become so desperate because you know that for you, judgment day is not that far away….indeed, your personal judgment day will be November 8th, and on that day not many people will want to be Donald Trump.

3. The Election is Rigged
Donald, what is clear to me and to the American people is that you just don’t understand how dangerous your language can be – indeed you are as dangerous as a small child with a match and a stick of dynamite. You are now on record as saying that the American electoral system is rigged and crooked and dishonest. You continue to say this in spite of the fact that there is literally no statistical proof to back up your claims.

But here is something for you to think about Donald. The electoral system that you now seem to despise is the same one that elected Ronald Reagan – twice, and George H.W. Bush – once, and George W. Bush –twice. Are you now saying that these three Republican presidents were illegitimate?

And what is worse, is that the zealots among your supporters are taking you seriously and are claiming that they will start some kind of revolution or try to kill me if you lose. Are you willing to at least disassociate yourself from this most extreme and dangerous view of American politics?

This is what Hillary should say…and may still say during the third debate.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – December 3, 2010

The choreography of each week, from Dancing with the Stars to WikiLeaks, seems to encourage the bizarre and the banal to engage in some kind of weird, eternal tango to which we are daily witnesses:

Inquiring Minds Need To Know

This past week the United States Senate passed an historic piece of legislation that will manage food safety in this country in an unprecedented fashion. The final vote was 73-25.

The results of the vote are welcome. Poisonous vegetables and deathly canned concoctions of one sort or another are not the problems that a parent, or any consumer, could relish. Yet there were 25 United States Senators that thought that this bill was not a good idea.

I wonder where they eat. More to the point I wonder in what pristine, wonderland environment their families eat.

The rightwing of the right wing is already braying about “government control food supply being the first step towards Stalinism. While no one can be deaf to these loony tunes, one would hope that U.S. Senators could discern the difference between sense and nonsense.

Earth Calling…..Please come in…..

President Obama announced a two year pay freeze for all federal workers except those in the military. In this time of global recession and continued dysfunction in the American economy, the cost-saving logic behind the President’s decision seems pretty obvious.

Incredibly, a very vocal group of federal employees immediately went on Catastrophe Alert, condemning President Obama for his cruel and misguided decision. Some federal employees were quoted as saying that they would never vote for President Obama again after this betrayal.

I wonder on what planet these aggrieved federal workers reside. Today it was announced that 15 million Americans are out of work and the unemployment rate for this country is 9.8%. These numbers do not begin to reveal the number of men and women who have simply stopped looking for work because there is no work.

Everyone would like to have regular pay increases. But in these austere and challenging days and times I would think that the assurance of a regular job, with enviable benefits, trumps a regular pay increase…….every day of the week.

Perhaps on some other planet the logic of these aggrieved federal workers makes sense. But it certainly doesn’t make sense on this planet and certainly not now.

Danse Macabre

Several news reports about the upcoming Secession Sesquicentennial have made me wonder if and when the sons and daughters of the Confederacy are ever going to cloak their disturbing beliefs and behavior with at least a fig leaf of decency. Starting in 2011 there will be a series of “celebrations” marking the founding of the Confederate States of America and the beginning of the Civil War.

Given the fact that the Civil War was the bloodiest and most brutal conflict ever fought in the United States, one would think that think that this is not the occasion for “Secession Balls” like the one that will be held in Charleston, South Carolina in April 2011.

Given the fact that the Confederacy was fought to protect the odious, awful and noxious institution of slavery offends not only black Americans, but it should offend all Americans of good will and humanity.

These secession celebrators have glommed onto the Tea Party rhetoric and with an interesting flourish of revisionist history they are claiming that the Civil War was fought to fend off big government and to protect the rights of the individual. If I was a supporter of the Tea Party movement I would be appalled that my movement’s philosophy had been hijacked.

The fact is that if not for the issue of slavery there would have been no Civil War. The Confederate States of America were all slaveholding states. The Confederate Army refused to recognized black Union soldiers as legitimate and executed them or enslaved them when they were captured. There is nothing good or noble or honorable about a regime that fought to enslave men, women and children.

I can only hope that during these sesquicentennial celebrations that we can simply turn our backs on these fact bending hypocrites.

C’mon LeBron….cont’d

Yesterday LeBron James returned to Cleveland as a member of the Miami Heat basketball team. Predictably everyone in the house booed and jeered. Predictably the Miami Heat won.

Interestingly enough, Mr. James tried to replicate his trademark tossing of magic into the air, pouring some talcum powder into his hands and then throwing it in the air.

It must have been an impromptu bit, because he ended up using a small container of baby powder and when he threw it, the mini-handful of powder hardly went anywhere.

It all seemed very small and inconsequential……and that speaks volumes about the entire episode.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

It Must Be The Season

I am certain that there is the odd birther and the not uncommon G.O.Tea Partier who celebrated when the news reports surfaced regarding President Obama getting hit in the mouth during a pickup basketball game. But at the beginning of this week the Obama Administration absorbed a serious body blow that cannot possibly be the cause for celebration in any portion of the increasingly self-absorbed American body politic.

Over the weekend, Julian Assange, the self-appointed avatar of the truth (as he defines it) executed the largest leak of United States governmental files and secret information in the history of this country. The hundreds of thousands of files and millions of pages of correspondence and communication between the United States government and its political and diplomatic contacts abroad were disseminated by WikiLeaks and this deluge of confidential information has been the cause for celebration and dismay throughout the world. I am voting for dismay.

This massive dumping of confidential files, communications and information was done in the name of transparency, but clearly there have been no guiding principles involved. Being the coffee swilling private eye parked in a beat up Chevy in the parking lot of the motel of international diplomacy doesn’t strike me as particularly heroic or particularly helpful.

Knowing every internal conversation by every government does not help us to understand geopolitical forces and movements. Knowing that Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi is afraid of heights doesn’t tell us anything important. Now that we know that Saudi Arabian officials may have asked the United States to bomb Iran only tells us that a range of options, even outrageous ones, are always considered by even remotely intelligent individuals who are in positions of responsibility.

The WikiLeaks disclosures may have a harmful effect on the Obama Administration in its pursuit of various foreign policy and security goals and objectives, but no one really knows. It is very hard to prove a negative.

We do know, for example, that the Iranian-American doctor who escaped Iran on horseback and arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey having fled his captors in Iran, is now terrified that his family members living in Iran will be imprisoned, tortured or killed now that his story has been made public.

Who died and made Julian Assange the final judge as to who will live or die by reason of his disclosures? More importantly, one wonders what standards or criteria he employed in deciding what information was worth disclosing and what costs and consequences for others he was willing to consider as being acceptable.

The embarrassment suffered by American diplomats, but one has to wonder if communications in the future will be compromised or constrained both internally and on bilateral and multilateral bases. Frank conversations and blunt assessments have been a part of diplomacy and foreign policy from the earliest tribal days of humanity.

No one should be shocked or surprised by the candor that is found in these leaked documents. But even professional career diplomats will be fettered in their future work if there is the very real likelihood that there every thought, musing or hypothetical conjuring can be made public.

There is an old adage about two things that one never wants to see being made – one is sausage and the other is legislation. I would add foreign policy to an updated version.

If Julian Assange had uncovered corruption, fraud and deceit like the weaving of the myth of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that led to the hellish and damnable American invasion of Iraq I would be the first to applaud him. But this latest foray seems prurient and self-indulgent.

I am in favor of transparency, but there is reason that there are doors on bathrooms and curtains on bedrooms.