Saturday, February 03, 2018

Karma: It Can Be A Bitch You Know (Especially in Politics)

You know, they say that Karma is bitch, which I have often seen proven true. There's also a saying by the great Chinese military and political strategist, Sun Tzu, which say that "if you wait by a river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by". Perhaps is this no better applied than in the world of politics. Not long ago, many pundits were predicting about the decline and fall of the Republican Party. The Reagan Revolution had come and gone. George H.W. Bush had liberated Exxon and BP...uh...I mean Kuwait.. from the evil clutches of our regional Iranian counterweight...I mean that ruthless dictator Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile our national economy was sputtering, and right on queue came an unknown governor from Hope Arkansas, William Jefferson Clinton, better known to all simply as "Bill" and his "barely concealed" Machiavellian wife, Hillary. Well, those eight years proved to be a lot of fun didn't they? The economy bounced backed; there were some pretty positive initiatives passed, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Violence Against Women Act and Megan's Law, along with a few goofs like NAFTA and expanding NATO into Eastern Europe.

We got ourselves involved in a few civil wars, such as Mogadishu and in former Yugoslavia, and his failure to kill and/or capture Osama bin Laden at Kandahar when he had the chance. Of course, we can't forget the impeachment hearings and his lying to Congress (which apparently hinged on what the definition of "is" is). However, most people simply didn't care. They felt that was between Bill, Hillary, and his "victim-of-the-month". After all, the economy was doing great and that was all that mattered. By the time Clinton left office, the Democratic Party was doing pretty well, while the GOP was busy trying to redefine itself and remain relevant after their 1994 "Contract With America" turned out to be more of a "Contract On America" and blew up in the collective faces.

So, then came George "Dubya" Bush, aka "Shrub". I think what most people liked about Shrub...err...George was his laidback easygoing attitude. It seems everyone had an uncle like George locked away somewhere. He proved that anyone with a "D+" grade point average; who was unsuccessful as a businessman, a poor military record, a recovering alcoholic, but had lots of family money and connections could still become president, thus proving the "American Dream" was still alive.

Then again, it could be that voters just couldn't stand elitist Al Gore. Here was a man who just couldn't connect with the American People. He was "insider royalty". He was so elitist that his attempts to fit in with ordinary American's was comical. Then came the presidential debates and Gore's attempts to bully or intimidate Bush (which Bush just laughed off, along with the rest of America on national television).

Now, here was a guy born in the Heart of America, Washington DC (if you're the Tin Man); the son of wealthy and powerful Senator, Albert "Al" Gore Sr, who represented the flyover state of Tennessee. The future VP attended Harvard and Vanderbilt, and volunteered to go to Vietnam as an ordinary private, where he served with the 20th Engineer Brigade as a journalist. He would go on to serve in Congress from 1977 to 1993, when he was selected to run as Clinton's choice of VP. Regardless, Gore just couldn't connect with the American People.

Much to the surprise of the Democrats, who were still riding the Clinton high, "Dubya" won the election. As first, he seen as something of a joke: the proverbial class clown who somehow managed to steal the prom queen from the school jock. Even many Republicans started to shake their heads in embarrassed wonderment. Thankfully, there was some old hands of his dad (and the Establishment) to steer his Ship of State along the dangerous narrows; individuals like VP Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, AG John Ashcroft, Reich Secur...uh...I mean...Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. There Elaine Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, who headed up the Department of Labor, as well as two excellent Secretaries of State, Former General Colin Powell and later, Condoleezza "Condi" Rice.

Nevertheless, it was one event which sealed Bush's presidential legacy more than any other, and that was September 11, 2001; better known simply as "9/11". It was the one event which has come to symbolize the early 21st Century. It was the day where America was deliberately attacked by an enemy most Americans didn't even know existed, from a country that some would have trouble finding on a map, and by a group the majority of Americans had never heard of...Al Qaeda.

However, there were some who had heard of its leader....Osama bin Laden; the same bin Laden whom Bill Clinton's Administration failed to kill years earlier (and the same individual whom the CIA picked out as potential leader decades before), after Russia invaded Afghanistan during the final months of the Carter Administrations and the beginning of Reagan's (under "Operation Cyclone", the CIA provided military aid, intelligence reports, training, and logistics to Afghani rebels known as the "Mujahideen", of which bin Laden was one).

This cowardly attack has often compared to the Japanese sneak attack on December 7, 1941 on Pearl Harbor, of course led to US and some allied troops to put boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and indirectly, led to the US and some Coalition troops to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein; apparently his usefulness had run out, and then again, maybe he knew too many secrets. The excuse this time was "weapons of mass destruction" or "WMDs", which we were repeatedly assured not only existed, but that Saddam was about to unleash on the world! Of course, as we were to learn later, they didn't exist. However, for Saddam and his cronies, he didn't matter. Only the perception that he did mattered. The outcome was a foregone conclusion...he and most of his ministers were executed.

Since then, efforts to rebuild both Afghanistan and Iraq have proved to be much more difficult than originally predicted and has led to a quagmire which we're still dealing with today. Meanwhile, "Dubya" exited the stage with the public's opinion of his administration pretty low (he has the unique distinction of having both the highest and lowest approval ratings, 51% and 25% respectively). At this juncture, the Democrats were feeling a bit more confident about the prospects for the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections. What nobody expected was a political "nobody" coming to the forefront...Barack Hussein Obama.

Barack Obama was unique in several ways. First, he was bi-racial---black on his father's side and white on his mother's. Second, there wasn't much know about his formative years for sure. There were (and remain) many questions over his place of birth; his education in Indonesia and apparently Muslim upbringing; his education in Hawaii, as well as family and personal friends with far Left or Communist sympathies, including former 60's radical and member of the Weathermen, Bill Ayers. Barack Obama was pretty much an unknown at college, despite his claims to contrary. While he claimed to be a law professor, he was in fact actually an adjunct instructor who taught just a handful of courses. In terms of having any real political experience, he was a neighborhood organizer for ACORN. He ultimately managed to fill an empty seat in the Illinois Senate and amassed no memorable record (voting mostly "here" or "present"). He was later, in 2005, that he was elected to fill an empty US Senate seat. It was as "Junior" Senator, with no national or even regional name recognition, that he decided to run for president (a highly unusual and risky political move).

What made the move that much more risky was that he would face the odds on favorite, Senator Hillary Clinton (she had changed her residency to New York to run for Bobby Kennedy's old seat, thus creating a link between the Clinton's and the Kennedy's (Bill Clinton met JFK as young man and has remained a lifelong admirer). Ultimately, Clinton lost in a highly contested campaign to the Junior Senator. Obama would go on to face Senior Senator John McCain, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, former POW, and a highly distinguished Naval pilot who came from a long line of Naval officers.

John McCain, who first rose to national prominence while he was a prisoner of war, held in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton". He later became a US Senator in 1987, after having served as member of the House of Representatives. McCain quickly earned a reputation for being outspoken and frequently disagreed with GOP party bosses. He was seen by many as a moderate or a more "traditional" conservative. Given McCain's reputation and name recognition, it was presumed that he would easily beat the Illinois upstart. However, that wasn't to be the case.

Barack Obama used his youth, bi-racial status, and charismatic speaking ability to attract the emerging Millennials, who are the largest voting demographic, while McCain's appealed mainly to the aging Babyboomers. There was also a notable difference between the two campaigns. McCain's campaign conformed primarily to the more tradition format (with the novelty of selecting an unknown for VP, non-conformist Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, to attract the more conservative elements of the GOP. Ironically, Palin would prove to be more popular among Tea Parties and some other conservatives than McCain). Obama's campaign was based more on the use of social media, including his use of the internet to raise money. In the end, McCain was outspent 4 to 1, and Obama won with 53% of the vote compared to McCain's 46%. Obama's first term, however, did light a spark under the Democrats, though the numbers were pretty much average with his accomplishments (except golf outings. There Obama wins hands down with 113). Immediately after becoming president, Obama was also roundly booed by public opinion for being "awarded" the "Nobel Peace Prize", an honor he didn't earn, and as a result, tarnished the award for all future recipients. However, it would be his second term which would become most noteworthy. First though, he had to defeat the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts.

Rome had its Crassus. The Democratic Party has its Al Gore. The Republicans have Mitt Romney. Romney, like Al Gore, comes from a prominent political family. Both of his parents, George and Lenore were very active in politics (his mother even ran for office), while his father went to work for the Nixon Administration as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and then, later, as Governor of Michigan. In addition to coming from a established political family, they were also Mormon. Mitt also made a fortune while working for Bain Capital (and ultimately as CEO) through leveraged buyouts. His net worth is estimated to be $250 million (his wife, the daughter of heavy construction equipment co-founder Jared Industries, Edward and Lois Davies, is worth some $50 million).

Like McCain, Mitt Romney just didn't connect with ordinary Americans. He had no real understanding of their issues, and certainly didn't share their working class values. He came across as arrogant and pandering. When the dust settled, Obama had won his second term with just over 51% compared to Romney's 47.21%. What hurt Obama in this election was the lower return of Millennials, who, while strongly disapproving of Romney, were disappointed in Obama's first term performance.

Obama's second term proved to be controversial, from de facto amnesty for illegal immigrants (and a questionable lawsuit against Arizona for enforcing federal immigration laws), to the illegal sale of guns to Mexican drug cartels, the "Obamacare" healthcare law (which was unconstitutionally altered by the Supreme Court. In addition, prior promises by Obama, such as keeping healthcare providers, existing insurance, all turned out to be false). Perhaps worse of all, was the lies surrounding the Benghazi attack and the murders of Ambassador Stevens and three former special forces/CIA operatives amid illegal arms shipments to Syria and the same terrorists were fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (except in Syria, where we suddenly called them "freedom fighters", since they opposed Russia's longtime regional ally). But, what difference did that matter?

The situation in the Middle East failed to improve as did his attempts at expanding gun control to ban "assault" weapons. IRS official Lois Lerner testified that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been targeted by the IRS. Obama also pressed for a land invasion of Syria which was met with absolute rejection by the American People. Obama's Secretary of the Veteran Affairs, Eric Shenski, was forced to resign over charges of mistreatment, misreporting, and prolonged delays resulting in appointment backlogs and preventable veteran deaths. On the plus, Navy SEALs did find and kill Osama Bin Laden, despite delay's by the Obama Administration.

Obama, like Clinton's NAFTA, signed TransPacific Partnership, again selling out unions. We also had "Citizens United" upheld, which gave corporations the same rights as humans, except when it came to political contributions, where they were permitted near unlimited "free speech" (as donations were euphemistically called), while it remained limited for ordinary flesh and blood types. Without question, Obama's second term didn't live up to expectations, by Obama, his administration, or the American People. His approval rating for his second term only averaged 47.9% while the public's confidence in government slumped to a mere 30%.

So, there you have it. All the "static" about Trump's success or failures so soon into his first term is just that...static. Each political party has its ups and down. The big difference in Trump's case, is the open season by the corporate managed media. Trump was the "unexpected" candidate; he was the anti-establishment candidate that didn't come with strings attached. The media and political establishment----both corporate owned parties, the "K" Street lobbyists, the "princesses and snowflakes", and all those with dirty hands---already had Hillary crowned and enthroned. They were wrong. The public knew her record and they rejected it. Perhaps...just perhaps...Americans have finally had enough. We can only hope.

Obama's first term: By the number

Republicans for Obama

Obama's second term: A timeline

Americans Losing Confidence in All Branches of Government

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