Friday, July 29, 2016

Great Expectorations

Judging from all the electronically amplified throat-clearing that marred an otherwise boring acceptance speech, Hillary Clinton seemed to be choking on her own platitudes.

I couldn't help envisioning a scene from the great new Netflix series, Stranger Things, which I've been binge-watching all week as an antidote to the real horror of the Democratic National Convention. Right before tuning in to the robotic Chelsea introducing the robotic Hillary on Thursday night, I'd nearly gagged at the sight of a young boy coughing out a slimy eel-like creature into his bathroom sink. And so, at the sound of her first throat spasm, I braced myself in anticipation that Hillary, too, would be expectorating something even nastier than her hoarse-throated ode to great American exceptionalism.

 I almost felt sorry for her early on, when she as much as admitted that she'd been an abused child. Dorothy Rodham, her wonderful late saint of a mother, had once heartlessly kicked her out the door to confront a group of neighborhood bullies all by her little pre-school self. I wonder why Hillary didn't also mention the anecdote in Carl Bernstein's biography, which had her alcoholic father throwing the toothpaste out the window if somebody left the cap off, and then making the kids go out to hunt for it in the dark. Daddy went ballistic on the frequent occasions when his wife and kids failed to live up to his impossibly great expectations.

But as with everything else in the radical centrism of Clinton World, I suppose there has to be balance in the bathos. Hillary had nothing but glowing words for her dear old bootstrapping John Bircher of a dad on Thursday night.

And there has to be balance, as the late Christopher Hitchens wrote, in manipulating populism in the service of elitism. Thus did Hillary give a condescending verbal pat on the snow-white head of Bernie Sanders, looking  bored and grumpy in his seat as his wife Jane gave him frequent therapeutic pats on the back.

Clearing her throat ironically and ostentatiously, Hillary crooned out to her erstwhile nemesis:
Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That’s the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America.
Populism, meet the Neoliberal Project. Calling humanity-crushing corporate coups like the Trans-Pacific Partnership  (ostentatiously allowed to survive in the party platform) "progressive" is a feeble but common way to fool people into thinking that job offshoring and subsequent wage suppression throughout the world is actually good for them.

And then the gunk really flowed forth. It was a multi-colored, multi-textured oratorical mess that must have been festering all her political life:
We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight terrorism.
There’s a lot of work to do.
Too many people haven’t had a pay raise since the crash.
There’s too much inequality.
Too little social mobility.
Too much paralysis in Washington.
Too many threats at home and abroad.
But just look at the strengths we bring to meet these challenges.
This is highly unskilled obfuscation. Does Hillary's ghostwriter really think that by verbally juxtaposing domestic social problems with military might, people will then all join together in one big patriotic blob? Fight terrorism with hard work while acknowledging desperation and inequality and too many threats, be afraid, and then blame it all on the "paralysis in Washington" so beloved by the extreme centrists and the same multinational lobbyists who recycled a very small portion of their own corporate welfare to fund the spectacularly orchestrated Clinton Coronation.

It was no big surprise that after many of us gagged on Hillary's expectorations, she herself reportedly went on to party late into the night at a private shindig hosted by Lady Gaga, the rock star queen of the identity politics which barely holds the morally bankrupt Democratic Party together.

Before serenading Clinton, Gaga had given another exclusive concert in neighboring Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities in America. It benefited not the poor, but one of Hillary's Superpacs.

But back to the speech. Hillary's noxious juxtaposing continues, as she counters Donald Trump with her own inclusive neoliberal army of caring professionals solidly aligned with both the victims and the perpetrators of state-sanctioned economic and physical violence:
Troops on the front lines.
Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger.
Doctors and nurses who care for us.
Teachers who change lives.
Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem.
Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe.
"Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem" is neoliberal code for Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste. (See: New Orleans/charter school takeover, Haiti/post-earthquake wage suppression, and just about any place where mostly man-made disaster strikes.)

But wait. Her acceptance speech may have started out as a few dry throat clearings, but Hillary's hacking is getting juicier by the minute: 
Remember: Our Founders fought a revolution and wrote a Constitution so America would never be a nation where one person had all the power.
Two hundred and forty years later, we still put our faith in each other.
Look at what happened in Dallas after the assassinations of five brave police officers.
Chief David Brown asked the community to support his force, maybe even join them.
And you know how the community responded?
Nearly 500 people applied in just 12 days.
Her speechwriter here skillfully combines democratic ideals with police state oppression. Of course no one person has all the power in America. It's a team effort of revolving door professionals from what's called the "establishment" or the "ruling class" or the "Washington Consensus" -- or what political theorist Perry Anderson calls the consilium of the Security Elite: 
"It extends across the bureaucracy and the academy to foundations, think tanks, and the media. In this milieu, with its emplacements in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Kennedy School of Harvard, the Woodrow Wilson Center at Princeton, the Nitze School at Johns Hopkins, the Naval War College, Georgetown, Brookings, the Carnegie Foundation, the Departments of State and Defense, the National Security Agency and the CIA, positions are interchangeable, individuals moving seamlessly back and forth between university chairs or think tanks and government offices, in general regardless of the party in control of the administration."
And the militarized police forces protect this elite team effort both at home and abroad. Only witness the snipers on the rooftops at Hillary's convention, protecting her and her whole consilium cohort against the proletarian rabble as the rich partied in and around the Wells Fargo arena this past week.

But back to the regal phlegm. Hillary now pivots to the "personal" in order to re-introduce herself to a public which has gifted her a sad approval rating of barely 30 percent.
I’ve been your first lady. Served 8 years as a Senator from the great sate of New York.
I ran for President and lost.
Then I represented all of you as secretary of State.
But my job titles only tell you what I’ve done.
They don’t tell you why.
The truth is, through all these years of public service, the “service” part has always come easier to me than the “public” part.
I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.
As CounterPunch's Jeffrey St. Clair quips in his brutally hilarious series on the convention: "HRC says the 'service part' always came more naturally to her than the “public part”. Well, that explains the private email server…"

Hillary went on to reprise her promise to "be president for the struggling, the striving and the successful," which is code for caring just as much about billionaires as she does for meritocrats sweating their Ivy League applications and elbowing their fellows in the ribs for a chance at a promotion or a corner office. She barely paid lip service to the crushingly impoverished. The P word - poverty - did in fact make the final cut in Hillary's coronation speech, with just one little mention. Overdoing it might have harshed the mellow of the USA! USA! USA! fight song echoing from the nosebleed seats, might even have burst a couple of those oversized balloons that a doddering and slack-jawed Bill Clinton just couldn't get enough of tossing around.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Hillarian hucksterism isn't quite done yet:
I believe America thrives when the middle class thrives.
I believe that our economy isn’t working the way it should because our democracy isn’t working the way it should.
That’s why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them. And we’ll pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United!
That's why, as the New York Times reports, Clinton's wealthy donors were literally coming out of their well-appointed, room-sized closets this week, descending en masse upon Philly's tonier spots. Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was quoted as gushing at the Ritz-Carlton: "This is a good place to be — for a lot of reasons.We must have set up five fund-raisers today. This is the bank.”

Hillary was certainly right as she ironically a-hemmed that "our democracy isn't working the way it should."

But never mind all that. It's always sunny in Philadelphia as long as the proles have a hopeful sunny outlook:
I refuse to believe we can’t find common ground here.
We have to heal the divides in our country.
Not just on guns. But on race. Immigration. And more.
That starts with listening to each other. Hearing each other. Trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes.
So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.
There she goes, echoing President Obama's platitude that dark-skinned people "feel like" their lives are disposable - thus putting the onus on the victims of state-sanctioned racist violence themselves. Anything rather than utter the active words of reality: on average, US law enforcement personnel actually kill one person every 24 hours. That picked-on feeling? It's too often the pain of a last dying breath.

Now here comes that centrist, balanced approach again, putting even more of the onus on the working class and reducing lethal institutionalized social problems down to "rebuilding trust" between cops and communities. Meet the truncheons halfway - extend a helping head. Lift those hands a little higher behind your back to make it easier for them to cuff you:
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous and necessary job.
We will reform our criminal justice system from end-to-end, and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
We will defend all our rights — civil rights, human rights and voting rights … women’s rights and workers’ rights … LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities!
And we will stand up against mean and divisive rhetoric wherever it comes from.
Reduce social injustice to identity politics. And stand against the meanness and divisiveness of Donald Trump, every time you see him getting a billion dollars' worth of free campaign advertising from the same media conglomerate which has colluded in the coronation of Hillary herself.
 Thank you and may God bless the United States of America!
(Thank god, it finally ended.)




balloonMan          whistles

-- e.e. cummings 


Elizabeth Adams said...

"Great Expectorations"! Very funny!

I never watch these things, relying on someone else's work (cough-Sardonicky-cough) to spare me the frustration and blood pressure elevation. But I did watch a lot of it via live feeds from several Bernie delegates last night. I caught on that the H supporters and $50/seat-fillers were advised to chant "U.S.A.!" whenever Bernie's delegates started "No more war!".

I'll bet the delegates are so relieved to be able to come home after that experience of a lifetime. I hope they are able to get some good rest before continuing their work in their communities.

annenigma said...

I feel so sorry for Bernie's delegates. They had to hustle to raise $6000 or more to get to the convention in order to support Bernie's 'fight to the finish', only to find he hadn't just capitulated but climbed aboard the Hillary bus before they even got there.

Every time some speaker mentioned how Hillary never, ever gives up, never quits, I kept thinking of Bernie. He folded like a cheap tent. I bet he regrets it now.

At his age, he should have taken that once in a lifetime opportunity to take his supporters into a third party candidacy run or at least a serious write-in effort and hope for a 4 or 5 way split (Trump-Clinton-Sanders/Stein-Johnson) and shake up the whole election by having no one able to win the electoral vote.

Jay–Ottawa said...

As we all know, HRC has a high disapproval rating. She's not likely to endear herself to more millions in the months ahead, but––never forget––she has the Party, the women (well, lots of them), the Pentagon, the big corps and Wall Street in her corner. Those forces will be working above and below board for her election. Surely, that's got to help tremendously.

In the other corner is Trump. He too has a high disapproval rating, quite possibly larger than HRC's by a wide margin. Does it ever cross anyone else's mind that Trump is where he is to throw the fight? Trump is a gift for HRC, which is strange. Since HRC won't attract many more votes to her cause, it's DT's job to alienate millions from his own cause.

Bernie was birddog one; Trump is birddog two. No matter how hated HRC is, Trump will work overtime at alienating an increasing number of the electorate from the Republican column. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is backing Trump only half-heartedly. Mainline Republicans have nothing to fear from an HRC administration; she will protect their interests better than Trump will. Once in office, she will be quick to sign off on the Grand Bargain Obama never quite concluded.

Trump knows what's expected of him. Besides, does he really want the burdens of the job he's running for? He's in this for the entertainment value. Never mind whether he's up to the demands of the job as president; is he the workaholic he's got to be as president? Whether dark interests have approached him on the matter or not, I believe he must throw the fight. He'll simply keep issuing outrageous statements to prove he is a loose cannon. He wants to be recognized as the greater of two evils with a badass style. The lazy narcissist will have his way: lots of face time and no need to love or work for years for millions of Americans starting in November. He will succeed by adopting the ways of a looser.

The powers-that-be must have the more manageable HRC in the White House. That includes the Republican power brokers and Trump himself. He'll swing a lot and have fun jabbing away at HRC during the general campaign; but in the end he'll take a dive. She will be elected by a landslide thanks to the millions who at the last minute will turn away from Crazy Donald to enter the voting booths with clothespins on their noses. Bernie diehards will have good reason for another cry.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Correction: SHEEPdog one, SHEEPdog two.

Neil said...


Yes, Bernie's delegates who paid $6000+ to get to the convention got screwed.

Fortunately there may be redress for the delegates, and for Bernie’s campaign contributors, through the federal class action lawsuit in Miami by JamPac

See Jared H. Beck, Esq. of Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers

Jared Beck discusses the Class Action Complaint filed against the Democratic Party and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Here is a link to the First Amended Class Action Complaint, and exhibits

Elizabeth Lee Beck is Jared’s husband and law partner, and describes JamPac, and how she used Citizens United to form a SuperPAC to benefit people.

See What is a SuperPAC, by Elizabeth Beck

Who We Are

"Husband-and-wife attorneys Jared and Elizabeth Beck founded JamPAC in February 2016. JamPAC is the first and only truly progressive grassroots Super PAC. It is powered by ordinary citizens to serve the people, rather than billionaires and corporations. JamPAC is fueled by donations from individuals from all over the country. JamPAC aims to hold politicians accountable to the citizenry. Its goal is to restore the voice of the people to government."

"Jared and Elizabeth also run their own law firm, Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers. Since its founding, the firm has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injured victims, consumers, investors, and small businesses. They opened their firm in 2007, after both quit their lucrative six-figure jobs at large corporate law firms."

"Elizabeth holds a law degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in mathematics from the University of California at Los Angeles. Before becoming a lawyer, Elizabeth worked in food service, retail, and was also a public school teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Jared has a law degree from Harvard, where he also received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review."

"They live in Miami on an avocado farm with their two young daughters, Vesper and Myfanwy, and dog, Ruby."

JamPac links The Cranky Lawyer @eleebeck

Plaintiff: CAROL WILDING et al.
Case Number: 16-cv-61511-WJZ
Filed: June 28, 2016
Court: Southern District of Florida
County: Broward County, Florida
Judge: William J. Zloch
Nature of Suit: Class Action
Cause of Action: Fraud and Consumer
Jury Demanded: Yes

Neil said...

@Jay -

See this piece on CounterPunch July 29, 2016 by David Rovics

The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places

"Very simply: all of the changes to the DNC platform are meaningless words until they become laws. And most of them can’t become laws because implementing them would run right up against the goals of the TPP/TTIP — "barriers to trade" in neoliberal speak — which the current president and his party leadership actively support..."

"...What I seem to be witnessing is the two parties completing a 100-year process of mutual inversion, or whatever the term may be..."

"...Trump wants to end taxation for people who earn less than $50,000 a year, close military bases around the world and use the savings in the military budget for domestic purposes. He wants to heavily tax imports in order to keep jobs in the US, and he opposes TPP and other neoliberal trade policies that he accurately says are bad for the US working class. He talks about the working people as if they exist. Every day. He positions himself as critical of the elites with which he is intimately familiar, while also blaming nonwhite people for all the world’s ills in many different forms..."

"...And the Democratic Party establishment? They talk pro-immigrant bullshit while deporting millions, they talk about peace while making war, they talk about civil rights while administering over a nation at war with its black and brown populations, they talk about working families without even mentioning the idea of rent control ever — which is banned statewide in 48 out of 50 states, many of which are usually controlled almost completely by Democrats..."

"...Trump is now the Democrat, and Clinton the Republican..."

annenigma said...

Along the lines of gagging on a maggot, when Obama was hugging Hillary, he sure looked like he was sucking on a lemon to keep from ralphing onto Hillary's white pantsuit.

Someone else who's choking and gagging on all this is Margot Kidder. She's got a projectile hurl going in 'My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools'.

DMC said...

I'm with Jay-Ottawa! I think Donald is running to lose and that was the plan all along. Run someone so obnoxious that even Republicans would balk. I can well imagine Hill and Bill and Donald sitting around Jeffery Epstein's pedo-island estate and and cooking up this scheme that got Hill the White House and Donald the most massive ego boo EVER! "All you have to do is get up there and be yourself, Donald! Everything will proceed from there."

Cirze said...

I don't watch any of the news shows (let alone sit through the mind-numbing Convention speak) anymore. I just come here for the best commentary in the country.

And Karen, your prose rocks.

I feel sorry for people who don't have the opportunity to read you every day.

Oh, and I'm with Jay on the sheep-dogging bit. I'm just sorry that all those sad Bernie Sis' and Bro's were st(r)uck in Philly after working so hard to raise the travel money they couldn't get from Bernie's donated millions. I want my $5 back.

Love you!

This is highly unskilled obfuscation. Does Hillary's ghostwriter really think that by verbally juxtaposing domestic social problems with military might, people will then all join together in one big patriotic blob? Fight terrorism with hard work while acknowledging desperation and inequality and too many threats, be afraid, and then blame it all on the "paralysis in Washington" so beloved by the extreme centrists and the same multinational lobbyists who recycled a very small portion of their own corporate welfare to fund the spectacularly orchestrated Clinton Coronation.

It was no big surprise that after many of us gagged on Hillary's expectorations, she herself reportedly went on to party late into the night at a private shindig hosted by Lady Gaga, the rock star queen of the identity politics which barely holds the morally bankrupt Democratic Party together.

Before serenading Clinton, Gaga had given another exclusive concert in neighboring Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities in America. It benefited not the poor, but one of Hillary's Superpacs.

Ste-vo said...

I watch non of it, Philadelphia, but I tuned into Cleveland for the shock value. SO thank you for this overview. USA! USA! USA!

Neil said...

re Karen: "Does Hillary's ghostwriter really think that by verbally juxtaposing domestic social problems with military might, people will then all join together in one big patriotic blob?"

I think the appeal of this speech was limited to Hillary's true believers; I can't imagine she persuaded anyone else.

A political speech like this one by HRC is intended for the moment, to give the listener a good feeling about Hillary’s competence to be president. As you noted, a transcript of the speech does not stand up under scrutiny outside the moment it was spoken. That is the difference between oral and written communication. See Mark Twain on the Spoken Word vs. the Written Word:

"Spoken speech is one thing, written speech is quite another. Print is a proper vehicle for the latter, but it isn’t for the former. The moment "talk" is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when you heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared from it. That is its soul. You have nothing but a dead carcass left on your hands..." - read more -

Virginia Postrel, in a piece on Trump, wrote, "The right words can cast a spell, even if they don’t really make sense. "We are going to do something so good and so fast and so strong, and the world is going to respect us again, believe me," Trump told supporters after his win in New Hampshire, letting them fill in the blanks with their own desires."

I don’t pay much attention to the typical political speech.

Valerie said...

Yes, JayOttawa, you are right. Hillary is so awful and people on both sides hate her so much the two headed duopoly - the oligarchy - had to put up someone so heinously terrifying, that people would be herded into voting for Hillary. It is not that I am convinced our votes actually are counted, but it must look like they are.

And yes, Neil, I agree with you the Counterpunch article, it is as if the two parties have switched positions. If I actually believed Trump would stick to his message after being elected I might not be so worried - but I don't - maybe the racism part would stick but he will fold on all the issues important to progressives.

So the truth is, we are screwed either way. Both parties will end up doing the same thing in terms of attacking the middle class, the poor and the environment. They will both sign the TPP and the TTIP. We should definitely go down fighting and vote for Jill Stein.

And another thing - I don't want Bernie on the Green ticket now. Anyone who wastes their vote writing Bernie in is a fool. Use your protest vote to actually make a difference in terms of financially supporting the opposition by helping the Greens to get matching funds and to register your dissent. If a third of the country would actually vote for the Independent parties, it would certainly get the media coverage.