Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Are You Not Entertained?

 (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Jill Stein won. Deal with it, fear addicts.
     Last night's debate/debacle felt a bit like watching Al Capone duking it out with Dutch Schultz. On Twitter and elsewhere, both candidates were caught in real time in the snares of fact checkers, the most chief of them being Jill Stein. And, as is the case with all debates, the one who tells his or her lies the most smoothly and with the most plausible deniability usually has their hand raised by someone in the equally disingenuous MSM. Also, as per the presidential debates' antecedents, the only truth we heard from either candidate was when one was attacking the other. Thanks to the professional trolls of opposition research, only then do they get their facts straight.
     It started out civilly enough, that moment when each gladiator crossed their gladius across their chest and bowed their head to one another. But in last night's contest, there was no Russell Crowe as General Maximus Decimus Meridius to save the Republic at its end. Instead, all we saw were two wouldbe Commoduses.
     Then Donald Trump's famously thin tangerine skin began to visibly rupture when Hillary Clinton tried to make some point or another. Eventually, Beelezebub's face began peeking out of Trump's human suit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining and saying, "Heeeeeeeeere's Donnie!"
     Indeed, in the "pre-game" bloviating, as it was called by a blonde airhead, one of the topics of conversation basically came down to, "Can Donald Trump hide his douchebaggery for 90 minutes?" That alone should have set off klaxxon alarms to those even teasing the idea of voting for the tax-dodging oligarch. And, about 10 minutes into the debate, we got our answer and it was the final line of the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog- Donald Trump, sniffing back the same booger for an hour and a half (To show how much we've lowered the bar, it has to be said at least he didn't eat it like Ted Cruz, so I guess he gets points for that), showed he just had to act out his nature.
     Secretary Clinton clearly won in poise, etiquette and being able to stand on her own two feet for an hour and a half without toppling over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in an earthquake. But in the truth department, she was as woefully deficient as Trump.

The (True) Tale of the Tape
     Tape can be taken out of context, especially when context is lacking (Jimmy O'Keefe can give a college course about that), but in itself it never lies, although Donald Trump last night told us otherwise. Setting up one of the biggest whoppers of the night was the sight of Warhawk Hillary Clinton, who voted to go to war with Iraq, insisting Donald Trump was all in for it, too. Clinton dissembled with the usual bullshit, insisting that as far as she knew, the pre-war intelligence was correct and that Donald Trump stated he supported the illegal invasion and occupation.
     This we know to be true, unless you've forgotten all about the exhumed Howard Stern interview in 2002. But it was difficult to discern whether Hillary was trying to pin down Trump on one of his countless lies or for being for a war that Clinton still defends and now views as "a business opportunity." If the latter, it was the ultimate irony of the night.
     After the debate and the usual victory lap, Trump vowed to hit Clinton even harder. While that may involve some schadenfreude for those of us who aren't Clinton fans, it also shows that Trump isn't very interested in talking about the issues themselves or policy, where, to play Devil's Advocate for a moment, the former Secretary of State excels.

     And while they looked as if they were throwing haymakers at each other, as the press insists happens, the give and take was nothing more than vigorous shadow-boxing. Don't forget, not too long ago the Clintons went to Trump's latest wedding and if you don't think there's collusion and pre-agreements going on before these debates, then perhaps you think the WWE storylines are real, too.
     For instance, Clinton could've hit Trump with the little-reported fact that he's been charged in a lawsuit for sexually molesting a 13 year-old girl in a New York court but she didn't. Would it have been a personal attack on Trump that Clinton shied from making? Perhaps. But who wants a pedophile as President of the United States? And after the Bernie Sanders political hit job, I think it can be said forbearance in the political arena is not among Clinton's most endearing character traits.
      On the other side, despite his boorish interruptions of Clinton and hapless, helpless moderator Lester Holt, Trump could've hit below the belt by harping more than he did about Clinton's vote to go to war with Iraq based on cherry-picked and fabricated intelligence. He could've hit her on the Clinton Foundation's long-established history of pay-to-play with foreign dictators anxious to secure weapons deals (although Trump has got Foundation woes of his own, which Clinton, to show what a class act she is, didn't even mention).
     Most forgivably, he could've but didn't hit Clinton with the fact that, as in the 90's, several people, including at least four from this summer, critical of Clinton and the Democratic National Committee are now sleepin' wit' da fishies.
     He could have hit her hard on her own corporate and legal past (and present), such as when she was a 27 year-old lawyer trying her first case, a rape case, and emerged victorious... by smearing the 12 year-old victim who was so severely injured by the attack she could never bear children (would it have been too much to expect Trump to rhetorically ask her if she'd defend him in his own impending child rape case? Yyyyeeeeaaaah, probably). Clinton reportedly laughed about it, afterwards, just as she had laughed over the murder and anal-raping-by-knife of Col. Gaddafi.
     Alas, we heard little to none of this, as much as we would've loved even more to hear a substantive policy debate, at which Secretary Clinton is a past master.

The Sound of Carefully Agreed-Upon Silence
     Here's what else we didn't hear:
     Substantive talk about women's rights, save for a brief sound bite in which Clinton called for equal pay for women.
     Climate change. Global warming. Substantive debate about how to curb police brutality especially among the African American community.
     Instead, what we heard from Trump was a bunch of nothing about all those things, save for him downplaying his 70's DOJ lawsuit in which he and his building managers enforced a no blacks policy. Clinton, revealing herself to be yet another old, rich, out of touch white person, said racial bias from law enforcement is inherently felt by all races. Such a fallacious claim is so patently absurd (especially after the completely unwarranted shooting deaths on back to back days of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott) I'd honestly be amazed if a single black person voted for Clinton this November 8th.
     Of course, the three topics discussed by the candidates was already agreed upon behind the scenes. Perhaps these issues will be brought up at the final two debates but one doubts it.
     And, save for Trump rightly calling Clinton on her flip-flopping on the TPP, nothing substantive was discussed about that ruinous "trade" deal that's been described as "NAFTA on steroids." Not a word was mentioned of the ongoing struggle of the Lakota Sioux against the Dakota pipeline.
     And all this time, with Trump's constant interruptions and Lester Holt's near-complete refusal to challenge these candidates on their constant lies (By 10 o'clock, Holt had Trump's footprints on his back.), only one person was keeping them honest: Dr. Jill Stein from her lonely rafter on Twitter.
     For whatever good it did her from her hidey hole on Twitter and the sound stage on Democracy Now, Dr. Stein addressed many of the things the two buffoons on the stage couldn't or wouldn't touch: Student loan debt, the so-called War on Drugs, nuclear disarmament, etc.
     Point, set and match. Check and checkmate.
     Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon squared off in their debate exactly 56 years ago yesterday to the day. There was an article that came out the night before the debate by Emmet John Hughes in which he wrote,
If [television] drives politics toward theatrics, so that the number of politicians who imagine themselves entertainers swells to match the number of entertainers who imagine themselves politicians; if it ruthlessly practises a kind of intellectual payola that rewards the man who can reduce the most complex issue to the silliest simplification...
     The rest of that sentence was completed in the persons of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Dr. Jill Stein was right when she simply said, "We deserve better."

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