At this point the problem is not with the Donald; it is with Us

I’ve always had a bifurcated relationship with Facebook, and one area where I’ve changed my mind from time to time has to do with whether to post political material on Facebook. In a lot of ways, Facebook does not seem to be the right venue for that. It’s more for personal tidbits and food porn, although plenty of people post politically themed cartoons, images and videos. A couple of weeks ago, after it looked like Donald Trump had pulled even with Hillary Clinton after the RNC convention, I thought it was time to pull out all the stops and post on whatever venues were available, which included Facebook.

But last week, I decided to stop, and I wrote this on my Facebook account:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post apologizing for my forthcoming political posts, because I thought this election was too important to stay silent about. And now I’m going to stop. Because if after last week you still think the Donald is qualified to be President of the United States, the problem is not with the Donald. The problem is with you.

Let’s just review: first the Donald hinted in a speech (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that 2nd amendment advocates might want to assassinate Hillary Clinton so that she could not appoint Supreme Court justices who would “repeal” the 2nd amendment. When pushed on this, the Donald claimed he was just referring to the political power of 2nd amendment advocates, notwithstanding that this political power would already have failed if Hillary is elected President. Then yesterday he claimed that President Obama was the “founder” of ISIS, and Hillary Clinton the “Co-Founder.” When given the opportunity to walk that back by a conservative radio host, who suggested that maybe Trump meant to say that Obama’s actions “caused” ISIS to be founded, Trump (as he so often does) doubled down and said that he literally meant that Obama was the founder of ISIS.

Maybe it’s the stress of having to run a national campaign, but it looks like the Donald is becoming unhinged. A candidacy that started as a joke, then became serious for a while, is now becoming a joke again.

And for the voters who still support this man, it may be time for them to take an inventory of their own selves to try to figure out what it is in them that would allow them to continue to support this absolute lunatic.

Since then, Trump has of course retreated on the notion that Obama is literally the founder of ISIS and proclaimed that he was just being sarcastic. Which is classic Trump. Here is how it works:

  1. Say something outrageous that gets everyone’s attention.
  2. If it turns out to resonate – like building a wall on the border with Mexico and getting the Mexicans to pay for it – go with it, no matter how ludicrous it is.
  3. If it turns out to be over the top – and this can be measured by the extent of the outrage – then claim that you were just kidding (and chide the rest of us for our lack of humor).

This way, Trump never has to be held accountable for anything. Either he was right or he was just kidding. And we let him get away with it.

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Bush-RNC Email Scandal, or Our Hypocrisy is not Like Theirs, Part 10 Continued

A few days ago I was discussing the “controversy” around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State, and how hypocritical the Republican reaction has been. I pointed out that:

  • Colin Powell also used a private email address (although not a server) while Secretary of State
  • Jeb Bush also used a private email server as Governor, and discussed National Guard troop movements through that account.
  • Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz have also used private email accounts to conduct government business.
  • General Patraeus lied to the FBI and deliberately gave his mistress state secrets, while Hillary was merely careless.

But the really big one, the one that deserves more than a casual mention, is that Bush administration’s use of an RNC server to discuss sensitive government information that they wanted to keep out of the public eye.

For those of you who don’t remember, on December 7, 2006, the Bush administration dismissed a number of U.S. Attorneys (i.e. federal prosecutors) in the middle of their terms, apparently because some had investigated political controversies involving Republicans, and conversely had not brought charges against Democratic politicians whom Republican operatives wanted to have targeted. A subsequent 2008 report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General found that the Administration’s actions were “arbitrary”, “fundamentally flawed”, and “raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecution decisions.” However, Department of Justice prosecutors ultimately concluded that the conduct did not rise to the level of being a prosecutable criminal offense (just as they subsequently decided that Hillary Clinton’s actions were also not prosecutable). The incident did lead to the resignation of then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Congress investigated the firing of these seven U.S. Attorneys, and after making requests for a number of documents, discovered that a vast numbers of internal Administration emails were not available, in violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978.[1] The administration officials had been using a private Internet domain, called gwb43.com, owned by and hosted on an email server run by the Republican National Committee.[2] It was discovered that the White House’s Deputy Director of Political Affairs, as well as numerous White House other staffers, were using emails assigned to the gwb43.com domain to discuss the firings and their political ramifications. Eventually the Bush administration had to concede that as many as 22 million emails may have been deleted from the RNC servers, and that as many as 50 White House staffers were improperly using the email accounts associated with the RNC servers to conduct business.

Let me repeat that:

  • 22 million emails
  • 50 White House staffers

And this is the same gang that is so upset that Hillary Clinton used a private email server to conduct business while she was Secretary of State.

They hypocrisy of it all just screams out, especially when combined with the email-related mistakes that other Republicans have made (see above).

I’m sorry Republicans, you guys are just major hypocrites.
I’m sorry Republicans, you guys are just major hypocrites.
I’m sorry Republicans, you guys are just major hypocrites.


[1] The Presidential Records Act of 1978, 44 U.S.C. §§ 22012207, governs the official records of the office of the President and Vice President, and mandates the preservation of all presidential records. The PRA and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents must manage their records in accordance with specific legal requirements.

[2] This server still exists, although it requires authentication for anyone to log onto it. This was apparently a private email server that did not host any webpages.

Posted in Law, Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be Mad at Us because He Said What He Said

Yesterday at an event in Wilmington North Carolina, Donald Trump was perpetuating the bald faced lie that Hillary Clinton wants to “repeal” the 2nd amendment – something which would be extraordinarily difficult to do – and something which Hillary Clinton has never argued for. With respect to the judges that Hillary could appoint to the Supreme Court, Trump said this:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people … maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Now, there is a clear implication in these remarks that maybe somebody should assassinate Hillary Clinton. Do I think that is what Donald Trump really intended? I seriously doubt it. But Trump clearly has no filter at all. He just says whatever comes into his brain, regardless of how stupid it is, and then when he’s caught out, he doubles down.

What was also interesting in reading some of the social media response to this little firestorm is how Trump’s defenders resorted to not much more than name calling. That has been their modus operandi all along. Because making an actual argument is too difficult, his defenders just resort to name calling. It infuriates them that liberals and progressives have the better arguments.

Boy, there is going to be a lot of repair that will have to be done in our nation after this election.

Posted in Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hillary’s Email Server, or Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs, Part 10

There’s a famous saying that goes “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get me.”[1] When it comes to Hillary Clinton, this could serve as her personal motto.

Yesterday we looked at the issue of the Benghazi investigations. Today we’ll be looking at the only damaging information that the Republicans have been able to unearth through their multiple investigations: that Hillary Clinton used a personal email server while serving as Secretary of State.

The Hunting of Hillary

hillary_huntingIn 2004 authors Gene Lyons and Joe Conason wrote a book entitled “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton.” The title of the book pretty much speaks for itself. [2] More recently the same authors have written a corollary book entitled “The Hunting of Hillary.” This book is available in PDF format from the National Memo website. It is a densely-packed 148 pages. Truthfully, I tried to read the whole thing, but only got about 75% of the way through. What the booklet demonstrates, in agonizing detail, is that Hillary is mostly correct when she claimed that she and Bill have been the victims of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

What a lot of people don’t remember is that Ken Starr’s Independent Counsel investigation, which was originally supposed to look into the alleged “Whitewater” scandal, ended up being focused almost exclusively on Bill Clinton’s sexual escapes. Although uncovering Monica Lewinsky, so to speak, the investigation Starr investigation found no wrongdoing with respect to Whitewater. In addition, Monica Lewinsky only came to light because of the allegations made by Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton, and never should have come to light because Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was clearly consensual, and thus not at all relevant to what Paula Jones was alleging.

In summary, the Clintons have a lot of reason to be wary of the people who are out to get them.[3] As the Daily Banter has forcefully argued, if you’re liberal and you think Hillary Clinton is corrupt and untrustworthy, you’re rewarding 25 years of smears by the Republican party.

Why Did Hillary Use a Private Email Server?

If there’s one thing that we can be pretty sure of, it’s that Hillary Clinton is no technophile. Hillary Clinton still uses a Blackberry, so I doubt that Hillary Clinton even knew what an email server is before somebody suggested to her that she set one up. Who made that suggestion? That has never been determined, so far as I know.

Hillary has said that part of the reason that she set up her own email server – or rather had it set up for her – is that she didn’t want to carry two cell phones around. I’ll buy that as part of the reason. I also suspect that Hillary liked the idea of having control over the release of her own emails, once somebody had explained to her what a private email server is. If so, Hillary’s paranoia has come back to bite her in a big way. Clearly having a private email server, while giving her control over her own email, did not give her control over the political fallout that derived from her having her own server. Now she knows.

Finally, it should also be pointed out that government computers tend to be terribly antiquated, including those at the State Department. A recent story from the Associated Press was entitled “Feds spend billions to run museum-ready computer systems.” It’s well known that part of the problem with the Veteran’s Administration or the Social Security Administration or even the Internal Revenue Services are their hopelessly outdated computer systems.[4] It’s these systems that also motivated Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, Hillary’s predecessors as Secretary of State to use private email accounts.

What About Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice?

As Factcheck has pointed out, the analogy between Hillary’s use of a private email server and Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice’s use of private emails is not a perfect analogy. So first, it should be acknowledged that Powell did use private email, although the same cannot be said for Rice. Colin Powell, on the other hand, did use private email – although not a private email server – to conduct government business, and like Clinton, he “did not comply with policies on preserving work-related emails” according to a report issued by the Inspector General. It is also true, however, that the rules about using State Department have email have become more specific in the years since Powell was the Secretary.

What about General Patreaus?

General David Patraeus was a highly regarded four star General and the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency who led the Iraqi “surge”in 2007. He subsequently got into a heap of trouble as the Director of the CIA when he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, to whom he provided classified information in order to help her write her rather flattering biography. This got Patraeus indicted, when it came to light, and got him a sentence of two years’ probation plus a fine of $100,000. At the time, a number of critics complained that Patraeus got off lightly, and that if he had been a lower level officer, he certainly would have seen jail time.

When James Comey, the current FBI Director, announced that the FBI was not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, he made a clear distinction between the intentionality of General Patraeus’ behavior and the carelessness of Hillary Clinton with respect to her email server. Patraeus knew that he was doing the wrong thing, and lied to the FBI about it when they came to investigate. In addition, Patraeus engaged in strategies like setting up a joint email account with Paula Broadwell and writing draft messages that the other could read.[5]

Although Clinton’s private email server could have been hacked, there is actually no evidence that it was ever hacked, unlike the servers of the Democratic Party. While the server could have been hacked, there is no evidence that it actually was.

What About Jeb Bush?

Back in March of 2015 the Washington Post reported that Jeb Bush “used his private e-mail account as Florida governor to discuss security and military issues such as troop deployments to the Middle East and the protection of nuclear plants, according to a review of publicly released records.” The e-mails include “two series of exchanges involving details of Florida National Guard troop deployments after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” At the time aides to Bush explained that “none of the e-mails contained sensitive or classified information, and that many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts, either contemporaneously or later.”[6]

I don’t think this is a comparable violation to what has been alleged against Hillary, but it does show that any number of politicians are pretty casual about their use of email and whether they are doing enough to maintain security.

What about Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz?

Representatives Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz have been at the forefront of the Benghazi and Email server investigations. It is Gowdy who chairs the House Select Committee that was looking into Benghazi. The publication Daily News Bin reported last fall that Trey Gowdy was running his own “info@treygowdy.com” email server and giving that address out as an official point of contact. Around that same time it was discovered that Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah, had been giving out a Gmail address on his official congressional business card.

While it’s not unusual for a member of Congress to maintain their own campaign-related email server, in Gowdy’s case questions have been raised about whether he has used that campaign email to conduct official congressional business.[7] As for Chaffetz, he should clearly know better than to use a Gmail address for congressional business.

Again, I don’t think this is a comparable violation to what has been alleged against Hillary. However, these two guys in particular should know the rules about the use of private emails and private domains.

What about the RNC Emails deleted during the Bush Administration?

Back in March 2007, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was under congressional investigation after the Bush administration unexpectedly fired eight U.S. attorneys. The then-Democratic Congress alleged that the administration had fired the prosecutors for political reasons. Over the course of the investigation, it was established that that as many as fifty White House officials had conducted business over private email accounts set up on a server through the Republican National Committee. The White House later admitted that as many as 22 million internal White House emails conducted on the RNC server might have been lost.

Let me say that again, because maybe you think you didn’t read that correctly.

  • Fifty White House officials.
  • As many as 22 million emails.

There is too much information about this issue that needs to be addressed for me to post it here. Look for tomorrow’s edition of “Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs” for more detailed information.


[1] This saying might have originated with Joseph Heller in his novel Catch 22, although that’s not completely clear.

[2] From the publisher’s own description, the book reveals “how notable right-wingers like Richard Mellon Scaife and Jerry Falwell bankrolled the muckraking that led to scandals like Whitewater and Troopergate, neither of which ever produced evidence of Clinton misconduct.” Conason and Lyons also point out the “ultraconservative credentials of Paula Jones’s supporters, including Kenneth Starr, who privately abetted the harassment suit before he was appointed as a supposedly independent counsel.” Most disturbing to the authors is that that “their colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere colluded with the right wing to bring unverified and essentially libelous claims into the center of the mainstream media.”

[3] The conservative news aggregator World Daily Net has published a list of Hillary’s “22 biggest scandals ever,” which sets forth a pretty good example of how Hillary is still demonized on the right to this day. In fact, they are still dredging up the allegations about Vince Foster, even though no scintilla of supporting evidence has ever emerged.

[4] I’ve had my own private experience with government computers systems, albeit on the state instead of the federal level. Last year I was recently hired as a consultant to the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice agency. I found that the Commonwealth’s computer system was still based on Windows XP — an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports — and that the browser used by the Commonwealth’s system was Internet Explorer 6, which is not usable on any websites that that have sophisticated script programming. The system also used “roving” profiles, which theoretically enabled me to log in from anywhere on the Commonwealth’s network. In reality, when I logged in it would take about 15 minutes for my computer to go through it’s log in routine. I would come in, turn on the computer, provide my credentials, and then go to the bathroom, get a cup of tea, say hello to a few people, and by the time I returned, the computer usually was still not complete with its setup routine. Now, unlike Hillary Clinton, I am a technophile, and the laptop I use for my consulting uses Windows 10 and a solid state hard drive. It literally takes about three seconds for the computer to boot, and maybe 10 seconds for it to complete its log in routine. Compare that to the 15 minutes it took my Commonwealth computer to complete logging in.

[5] This is actually a strategy used by terrorists, and is designed to insure that the emails are never actually “sent.”

[6] The Post noted that “security experts say private e-mail systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers, and that details such as troop movements could be exploited by enemies.”

[7] It should be noted that as of this writing, nothing definitive has yet been proven against Gowdy.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Benghazi Investigations, or Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs, Part 9

Longtime readers of the blog know that I have a series that I like to call “Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs.” Today we’re going to look at the question of Benghazi. This would be the 9th installment in that series. Tomorrow we will be looking at the question of Hillary Clinton’s email server, which will be the 10th installment.

What Happened in Benghazi?

Back on September 11 of 2012, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by a sizeable number of Islamist radicals. The Diplomatic Compound in Benghazi – not to be confused with the Embassy in Libya – was not protected by regular United States military, but largely by a group of about a dozen ex-military CIA contractors. During the attack, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were killed.[1] Subsequent thereto, a 2nd attack was launched on the Security Annex, about a mile away from the Diplomatic Compound, where two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, were also killed. The remaining Compound and Annex staff were safely evacuated from Benghazi after heroic efforts by the security team assigned to protect the compound.

Initially, the CIA and the Obama administration believed that the Benghazi attack was the consequence of a spontaneous protest triggered by an anti-Muslim video, the Innocence of Muslims. This video was a 14-minute piece that had been uploaded to YouTube, that had indeed caused spontaneous outrage in Egypt.

It turns out that the attack on Benghazi had been planned before the release of the Innocence of Muslims, although the release of the video provided extra incentive to the attackers.[2]

13 HoursDuring the attack, the members of the security team deployed at the Security Annex were delayed for about 20 minutes by the local CIA station chief, because the station chief wanted to determine whether or not the Libyan security forces were going to join in or even take the lead in defending against the attack.[3] To be clear, there is no evidence that Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, or Leon Panetta, who was then the Secretary of Defense, were participants in any way in the decision to delay 20 minutes while seeking out the involvement of the Libyan military. It’s not even clear that either were notified.[4]

The delay in protecting the Diplomatic Compound may have been decisive in the failure to rescue Ambassador Stevens and Officer Sean Smith. Or maybe not. It’s speculative, although the delay certainly didn’t help. The entire sequence of events has been cataloged in agonizing detail, including through a book written by the Annex Security Team itself, with assistance from Mitchell Zuckoff.[5]

The attack on the compound occurred on a Tuesday night and lasting until early Wednesday morning. On the subsequent Sunday, the Obama administration sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice out to the Sunday political talk show circuit. At that time, Ambassador Rice argued that the attacks were a response to the video the Innocence of Muslims.[6] This turns out to have been mostly incorrect. However, there is also no evidence that this was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Administration to mislead the Congress or the American public. Rather, it seems to reflect the fact that at the time there was some genuine confusion in the intelligence services and in the administration about what the cause of the attack actually was.

How Often was this Investigated?

The Benghazi attacks have been investigated approximately ten times, including six times alone by the House of Representatives. This includes:

  1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation;
  2. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence;
  3. The House Committee on Armed Services;
  4. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs;
  5. The House Committee on Intelligence;
  6. The House Committee on Judiciary;
  7. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform;
  8. The State Department Accountability Review Board;
  9. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs;
  10. The House Select Committee, chaired by Trey Gowdy.

The attack in Benghazi is certainly something that should have been investigated. Maybe once or twice. But ten times?[7] And six times by the Republican House? Four people died in this incident, including the Ambassador, which is something that should have been of serious concern to everyone.[8] On the other hand, four people die in Iraq just about every day, if not a lot more than four. Unfortunate as it was, this is not an event that in any way jeopardized the security of the United States. It was a small tragedy in a very violent area of the world, a place where bad things happen to good people all the time.

Why do the Republicans Think this is a big Scandal?

So why do Republicans think this is such a gigantic scandal? This, frankly, is a matter of great mystery. Initially, no one denies that security at the Compound was inadequate, something that Ambassador Stevens was well aware of. He chose to travel there anyway.[9] Nevertheless, Republicans apparently believe that Hillary Clinton should be held personally liable for the deaths that occurred there, even though there is essentially no evidence that Hillary had any responsibility for what happened there. The Republicans seem to have two lines of attack:

  • First, they seem to believe that blaming the attack on the video, the Innocence of Muslims, instead of being a planned terrorist attack connected to Al-Qaeda, was an attempt by the Obama administration to “spin” the story to their advantage during Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Why this would be to Obama’s advantage still remains a mystery to this day.[10]
  • Second, the Republicans seem to think that Hillary is somehow personally responsible for the inadequate security at the Benghazi compound, even though making decisions around embassy security is not a function of the Secretary of State. Not when that Secretary was Madeleine Albright, or Colin Powell, or Condoleeza Rice, or most recently John Kerry.

Requests for more security personnel on the part of the American diplomatic team in Libya were not addressed directly to Hillary Clinton. Instead, they were cables sent to the State Department and handled by those administrators who are normally in charge of making these kind of administrative decisions. In fact, Ronan Farrow, the activist son of actress Mia Farrow, has pointed out that it was Congress that had not fully funded the Obama administration’s request for security at embassies around the world.[11]

The One Thing that Did Come Out of the Investigations

There is one thing that did come out of the investigations: the discovery that Hillary Clinton used a private email server while she was Secretary of State. This will be the subject of tomorrow’s edition of Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs.


[1] Both apparently died of smoke inhalation while hiding in a portion of the compound after it was set on fire.

[2] It turns out that one of the people involved in planning the attack, captured suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala claimed that the assault was indeed in retaliation for the video Innocence of Muslims.

[3] The Libyan security forces were known as the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, and were financed by the Libyan Defense Ministry. They were essentially the surrogate of the Libyan armed forces in that part of Libya at the time.

[4] The attack began roughly around 9:00 p.m., which would have been about 3:00 a.m. in Washington D.C.

[5] The name of the book is 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, and the book is very sympathetic to the Annex Security Team and very admiring of their courage in defense of the Annex and Compound. I read the whole book back in 2014, shortly after it was published.

[6] Rice appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week. Although Rice said that the attack “began spontaneously”, but qualified her remarks about the attack, saying, “We’ll want to see the results of an FBI investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.” She made similar statements on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Meet the Press, State of the Union with Candy Crowley, and Fox News Sunday. Subsequently, on November 19, 2012, ninety-seven House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama to say Rice’s statements were “misleading” and that she should accordingly not be considered as a candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton in 2013 as Secretary of State. Rice subsequently explained that her statements about Benghazi were based on information approved by United States intelligence services.

[7] The entire timeline of the investigations into Benghazi is set forth here.

[8] Ambassador Stevens was, as is generally acknowledged, a friend of Hillary Clintons. Not a “I’m inviting you over to the house for dinner” friend, but a friend nonetheless. The mother of Ambassador Stevens has pointedly asked the Republican party to stop using her son’s name to score political points.

[9] The American Embassy as in Tripoli, not in Benghazi, and Ambassador Stevens travelled to Benghazi and the understaffed compound for a mission at his own discretion.

[10] It was in this context that Hillary Clinton asked “what difference does it make“ for why the militants attacked, which is indeed a very good question. Naturally, the Republicans tried to spin her question into making it appear that Hillary was indifferent to the deaths that took place there, which is completely untrue. All evidence points to the contrary. It appears that Hillary actually took it pretty hard.

[11] It should be noted that Politifact has disputed a number of Farrow’s accusations. In particular, Politifact maintains that while it’s true that Congress has chronically underfunded the President’s requests in these areas, this is not that unusual and did not begin with the Obama administration. In addition, they argue that embassy funding was substantially increased after 9/11 and that the compound in Benghazi was intended to be a temporary facility, and that is part of the reason it did not have proper security.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes Bigger is not Better (I’m Looking at You, Summer Olympics)

Bigger isn’t always better, and there’s probably no better example of that then the 2016 Summer Olympics. My family have been die-hard fans of the Olympics since back in 1972, when my Grandfather participated in organizing the Summer Games in Munich. The same summer games now remembered best for the Black September attack on Israeli athletes in the Olympic village.

BrazilOlympics

The 1972 Summer Olympics were large, featuring 7,134 athletes in 195 events. The 2016 Summer Olympics are gargantuan, featuring 11,304 athletes in 306 events. It’s way too much. Brazil, when it was chosen to host back in 2009, seemed to be a country on the rise. Along with Russia, India and China, Brazil was considered to be one of the hot economies. They even had an acronym for these four countries on the rise: the BRIC countries. Now, with the possible exception of China, these economies are no longer roaring along. In addition, Brazil has been beset by its own special problems, many of them of its own making. Dilma Rousseff, the country’s president, is currently under impeachment proceedings.

But the point is, the whole event is much too large. Cities that have considered hosting the Olympics have pulled out. My two home towns – Hamburg, where I grew up as a child, and Boston, my home once we arrived in the United States – each pulled out of contention for the 2024 Olympics after the citizenry became cognizant of the financial commitment that would be involved.

At this rate, the only cities that are going to be willing to host the Olympics are cities that have hosted them before. London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, Los Angeles. These are cities that already have Olympic facilities. Beijing, in fact, is slated to become the first city to host both the Summer Olympics (2008) and Winter Olympics (2022). Does Beijing have enough snow to host the Winter Olympics? Doubtful. But they do have the facilities.

The Olympic Games should be reserved for sports and athletes that rarely get attention except for at the Olympics. They should not include, for example, soccer, basketball, tennis and golf.

  • Soccer may be the best example of a sport that does not need to be at the Olympics. The men bring their “Under 23” teams, and the women bring the same teams that have already competed at the World Cup just a year before. The Men’s World Cup is probably the most watched sporting event in the world after the Olympics.
  • Or why does tennis need to be at the Olympics? They already have four grand championships a year, with tons of TV coverage.
  • Or why does golf need to be at the Olympics? They already have four grand championships a year, with tons of TV coverage.
  • Basketball one could make a case for, primarily to showcase the poor teams not from the United States whom nobody ever sees. But FIBA has its own World Cup, and most of the European players are professionals and paid as such. They don’t really need to be here either, especially to play 2nd fiddle to the United States.

The Olympics are supposed to be for amateurs, or at least they were supposed to be for amateurs. I realize that the distinction is not very clear anymore. Is Usain Bolt an amateur? Hardly. He may make most of his money from endorsements, but like most of the competitors at the Olympics, he trains full time. (Not necessarily so for some of the more obscure sports, like archery.)

Posted in Culture, History | Tagged | Leave a comment

With Hillary Clinton, at least you will Still Have a House

There have been some watershed political moments in my life. One was when Ronald Reagan got elected in November of 1980, and most of the rest of the country thought he was this amazing inspirational guy. Even my beloved home state, my “don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts” state, voted for this B-grade Actor. I didn’t think he was a good – never mind great – President then, and thirty-six years later, I haven’t changed my mind about that.[1] I thought he was an under-rated actor and a hugely over-rated President. That election certainly brought home to me that I am not in the mainstream of American politics.

Burning-HouseAnd now we have Carrot Top, who something like 50 million Americans actually think is qualified to be President. I’m dumbfounded. As in completely dumbfounded. I know a lot of people don’t like Hillary and don’t like the Clintons for being America’s royal family, but this choice should not be a close call for any thinking human being. Trump is a flame thrower and he’s going to burn down your house. The only problem with that is, you will no longer have a fucking house!

Oh, he’ll tell you that he can rebuild your house, and that it is going to be “really great,” except that he has no actual plans. And you can’t actually afford a new house. And he hasn’t actually told you what it will cost.

On the other hand, Hillary may just remodel the cabinets in your kitchen and do some gardening. Maybe your house won’t everything you want it to be, but at least you’ll still have a fucking house! As a bonus, you’ll have some nice cabinets, and a pleasant garden to sit in. How is this even a question?


[1] Count me among those who think that his early onset Alzheimer’s began while he was still President. But Reagan seems quaint, almost reasonable now, when compared to Trump or the Tea Party.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment