Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Complicity of Ambition. The Hypocrisy of Outrage


Harvey Weinstein. Me Too.
And Hollywood's House of Cards.

I’ve been observing all the fallout from the Hollywood “sexual predator” scandals, the offshoots of “Hurricane Harvey,” and finally just had to drop in my two cents worth. And I for one think we should all thank Harvey Weinstein for breaking out like a bull-rhino and finally smashing down the circus tent hiding the worst kept secret in the world. Not that this “alleged” sexual predator and accused rapist and over-the-top industry bully-boy deserves any gratitude at all for his 60 plus allegations of everything from out and out rape to hotel room bathrobe “massages.” But the fact is that Harvey (who everyone has known about for over 30 years) has turned overnight into the enabler’s nightmare.

            No doubt, Weinstein, feeling brash and bulletproof as only Harvey could do, tested Hollywood’s tolerance levels, already stretched paper thin, and just took things too far. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

            Now everyone except Zazu Pitts has jumped onto the red-hot “Me Too” bandwagon, which started out as a timid act of courageous expression and has now become a celebrity stampede into the headlines. Now righteous indignation (overdue God knows in some instances) has poured out from so many women on such a daily basis that by now it has gone from being “OMG, not another one,” to bordering on being merely fashionable. Now there is a full movement, mark my words, that will soon become a feeding frenzy and ultimately a witch-hunt. This will all happen in rapid succession before things settle down, the iron law of economics takes over and reason returns with a realization that jobs are lost, projects are cancelled and this industry is hemorrhaging money.



            We’re not there yet. And at this point I’m glad to see more courageous women (and men) coming out with accounts of being traumatized, abused, intimidated and violated. And yet along with all these breakouts comes a caution.

            Because everyone—and I mean everyone—has known that casting couches, influence peddler sexual blackmail and sexual predator pathways to success have been imbedded in the fabric of this town since the 1920s. And a startling number of industry players, at some level, have embraced the complicity of their own ambition, shelved their conscience and pandered to it.

            It is a numbing kind of acceptance that has gone on for generations until Harvey Weinstein came along and tore open the book for all of us. He was, of course, preceded by Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ayles and the rapaciously unrepentant Bill Cosby whose “drug and dip” somnophilic antics seem almost quaint by comparison. Following Weinstein in quick succession were producer Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey (the new poster child for end-of-career gay predators in ‘the biz’) and Louis C.K who has strangely garnered some “style points” for actually fessing up to his misdeeds—and yes that is how far we’ve lowered the bar!

            At this point, I have to acknowledge my cellular consciousness for tipping me off because over the years each of these men had managed at some point to make my skin crawl. I also have to note that it’s easy to drop the dime on this particular gaggle of fondlers, flashers and (“alleged”) rapists because none of them is particularly attractive. Weinstein looks like Seth Rogen’s love child with Jabba the Hut. Roger Ayles resembles a poop emoji. And Bill O’Reilly, a 6’5” glowering tower of smugness, seems so palpably pompous that he doubtless has to carry his ego around in a wheelbarrow. Louis CK reminds me of that pained pillar of angst you just knew would eventually self-destruct. Kevin Spacey has always reminded me of an Emperor Penguin with a boner. And Bill Cosby, the loveable Huxtable, has always worn that supercilious smirk that made you suspect he’s had his hand up the Mona Lisa’s skirt all this time (and probably popped her a Quaalude to get there).

           There is a point to this beyond the fact that these men have all been egregiously serial and obtusely obscene in their depravity. Many of them are, by reputation, not very nice people. Spacey has had a knock for being difficult ever since he arrived in the business. O’Reilly is the archetypal imperious
“horrible boss.” And apparently “Hurricane” Harvey’s staff had to carry around a first aid kit just to get through a day with him.

            By contrast, why are we surprised that other reported improprieties such as those launched against the likes of Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven, Sylvester Stallone, George Tikei and Richard Dreyfus seem to be popping up and just as quickly vanishing like whack-a-mole from the daily headlines? Meanwhile certain standing and ex-presidents, ex-governors, rockstars and many athletes have had “serial” accusations that somehow just washed away like whispers on the wind.

            Am I saying there may be a “cuteness” factor that allows some of these men a pass? Absolutely! But that’s only a piece of the puzzle. It’s a Rubix of corruption and an industry convention. It comes with its own laundry list priorities, and it goes something like this: 1) Long-term industry cachet, 2) current bankability, 3) degree of depredation, and 4) the “bounce-back” factor. (How quickly can they recover from this?) It is now a mosaic that is under assault, a siege that is overdue.

            More than that, the #MeToo movement has great momentum right now. It is the reason for the hastily assembled board meetings of the Motion Picture and Television Academies where there were quickly voted expulsions of Weinstein, director James Tobak and others from their memberships. Those were followed by “Zero Tolerance” declarations issued post haste from studios, networks, production companies, and every academy up to and including West Point. Meanwhile (trust me) an entire battalion of co-conspirators and fellow felons sit at home in cold sweats trembling in their boots.

            At the moment, “Me too” is on a high speed rail—with parades and daily speeches on talk shows—and for the foreseeable future, no one wants to get in the way of that train. This was of course inevitable. And yet what still leaves me confounded is the simple truth that everyone for the last 90 years or so has helped—in every sense of the term—to lay the tracks.

            Almost since the beginning of the industry when Columbia head Harry Cohen had a private bedroom next to his office for “leading lady” auditions and MGM Chairman Louis B. Mayer was (reputedly) trying to fondle underage stars like Shirley Temple and Judy Garland, the perverse game of sexual predation had its start at the very top of the Hollywood food chain.  Actresses such as Joan Crawford made no qualms about using their sexual charms to get roles. Early on, Marilyn Monroe apparently thought it was a job requirement.  (And Rita Hayworth once lost a lead at Columbia by refusing to sleep with Cohen, even though her husband Edward Judson tried to pimp her out to do so). Apparently the most egregious and blatant casting couch offender of all was Darrell F. Zanuck who had a hidden walkway and secret door to his office at FOX just so young starlets could “privately audition” each day at 4 p.m.

            The irony in all of this lies in the fact that during that time, the cycle of sexual enablement was all a part the soup. Everyone knew who the predators were as well as their expectations. They knew which studios to court and the ones that “came at a cost.” If you went in to DZ’s lair, you were going to pay for the play. If Buddy Adler was your producer you were expected to grant whatever favors he asked for all the inroads to OZ. (Marilyn Monroe chose to do so. Joan Collins apparently did not—a rejection of Adler she claims cost her the role of Cleopatra ‘62.)

            Nor was this exclusively a gender issue. Young aspiring actors too had to make their Faustian pacts.  Confessionals and exposé biographies of everyone from Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson to James Dean and Steve McQueen revealed that all of them (reputedly) went on their knees to Hollywood’s Gay Mafia for those breakthrough roles that helped to launched their careers.

            This of course is a taboo subject that is consistently kept under the radar when its depredations too have been going on for nearly as long. (And isn’t it bizarre that Kevin Spacey’s pederastic romps have virtually ended his career, while Producer/Director Bryan Singer seems to have successfully managed to cajole, scrub clean and otherwise suppress every one of his?)

            Am I saying there is a double standard here? By every indication there is. Simply follow the money, follow the leverage, follow the rules of the game.

            The “Sexual Revolution” of the late 1960s created something of a paradigm shift in the way parts were pandered in Hollywood. By the early 1970s Hugh Hefner had moved his Playboy Mansion from Chicago to Beverly Hills. So there was a new “Candy Box” for all the industry players to gather. After a year or two it was widely rumored that private walkways had been constructed so that Hefner’s celebrity pals James Caan, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicolson and Bill Cosby could have instant backdoor access to the Playboy Mansion any time they desired.
           
            (Even as far back as the 1970s the major players inside Hefner’s playground knew about Cosby’s somnophilic “Sleeping Beauty” fixations and played into them. So no wonder, he felt put upon in 2014 when all these victims came forward. Doubtless in his twisted, perverse sense of logic, Cosby somehow believed he had been playing inside the lines.)

            Playing inside the lines—imagined or real—was of critical importance, especially when it came to someone trying to leverage their careers by commoditizing their sexuality. It was the same mindset that apparently intimidated high profile celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren to suffer their sexual humiliations in silence for years. It was the same culture of complicity that prompted cynical smirks and smiles in response to Barbara Hershey’s wry observation that, “You can’t sleep your way to the top. But you can certainly sleep your way to the middle.” It was the same culture of complicity that apparently prompted A-List actors like Russell Crowe and Matt Damon to try to cover for Weinstein by entreating victims to keep quiet about the producer’s more recent outrages.

            Now the lid is off this Pandora’s box, and now I’m even more astounded by the hypocrisy of outrage that is pluming out of it. Many of the same people in high-dudgeon over this recent spate of scandals are the same ones who formed a 40 celebrity petition list to get serial pederast Roman Polanski reinstated after his flight from prosecution. Many so terribly outraged over this recent run of allegations were also among those among the 370 celebrity “character witnesses” who endorsed singer Michael Jackson—a list that included Larry King, Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Kobe Bryant (now there’s an endorsement!) and Whoopi Goldberg, whose defense of the likes of Polanski, Jackson and Cosby seems to have turned being the perp’s apologist into a cottage industry.

            Michael Jackson is a classic case of slipping through the net of “reasonable doubt.” No one wanted to believe that little Michael would molest teen and pre-teen boys, despite two lawsuits, his triple deadbolt bedroom doors and a string of young visitors that continued at Neverland for years on end. His antics were dismissed as “eccentric” even though rumors of payoffs persisted and two trials nearly ten years apart went to completion.

            At this point one cannot overlook the inconvenient truth that Michael Jackson was a billion dollar industry, as is Woody Allen today. And that might go far to explain how Woody, despite being outed in New York Magazine by stepdaughter Dylan Farrow for having serially molested her, continues to write and direct films. And someone please explain to me how Allen receives 21 Oscar nominations and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes, while Amazon Studios Exec Roy Price gets fired over one alleged proposition in the backseat of a limo?
           
            Is there a double standard? You bet there is. Its names are Power and Leverage. Entire empires get taken down when superstar perversions are exposed. Michael Jackson was an empire. So is Woody Allen.

            Up to now, The Weinstein Company has been arguably the most powerful, successful independent production studio in Hollywood history, and it now sits dead in the water, crippled and on the verge of bankruptcy because its CEO was an (alleged) rapacious monster who couldn’t control his urges…and they knew. They even built a slush fund to cover Harvey’s (alleged) criminal sexual transgressions.  Everyone at Weinstein knew, and so did all those doing business with them. But everyone—many of this industry’s most powerful people—went along with this cretin’s depredations because an entire industry fiefdom had been built up in the midst of it…and they thought the center would hold.

            Now Harvey has blown the center open with a time bomb. So now there is a mad scramble in Hollywood to regroup and remoralize a system that has been essentially corrupt since its inception.

            But it’s not just Hollywood that is hypocritical in its approach to sexual misconduct. America as a nation suffers from a pandemic of moral relativism in how, why and where we plant our outrage and our sense of retribution. And we are—all of us—very partisan in our censure. And we often get political when we do it.

            Why else would we have two weeks of Senate hearings to unseat Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas because Anita Hill accuses him of saying “Long Dong Silver” and asks her out to dinner? Then two years later we dismiss all allegations of molestation, sexual misconduct and even rape against William Jefferson Clinton and elect him not once but twice as President of the United States. (Even now he has frequent flier miles on Ron Epstein’s “Lolita Express.”)

            How do the people of California (of all places!) manage to shrug off a dozen accusations of serial fondling by gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger and elect him by a landslide, while now a new posse wants to lynch Al Franken because he tongue kissed his leading lady?

            After all these years, I’m bewildered at how Senator Gary Hart not only loses his 1988 run for president because of an affair de coeur with Donna Rice, when Donald J. Trump openly brags about groping women, quells an (alleged) pending rape charge, and gets off Scot free from several accusations of fondling and sexual misconduct because he declares it all to be “fake news.” (Hell Donald! They have you on Tape!) I’m even more confounded by the fact that an entire nation of fundamentalist Christians (the moralistic Ted Cruz Bible thumpers) managed to park their conscience somewhere along the side of the road and vote this man into office.

            In a final condemnation of our national character, I have to observe that surviving allegations of sexual misconduct may or may not be an issue of popularity. It’s certainly one of agenda.

            Even now we engage in a willing suspension of disbelief if one of “our own” gets nailed. Plausible denial becomes a factor, especially with “one-off” offenses. Many of us side with the accused because after all, it's a “he said-she said.” And we’ve all born witness to careers that were killed in the poison of allegation.

            Still, on balance, no one is even trying to deny that Hollywood has too long gotten a pass, and now its day of reckoning has hit mid morning. Still dawning are myriad allegations of harassment in the business workplace. Silicone Valley has already been hit and Wall Street appears to be next.

            Following those will come Washington. But don’t hold your breathe for that one. Our POTUS remains in office unscathed, and Al Franken will survive his embarrassment. Both will continue to flourish because raising charges of sexual harassment in the nation’s capital would be like handing out speeding tickets on the Autobahn. And no one wants to open the lid on that one.

            Then there’s the military—the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines—with 96,000 allegations of rape or sexual misconduct (15% against men) with fewer than 5,000 cases ever brought to trial and only about 900 convictions. That’s a different universe of course where angels fear to tread. And no one wants their heroes brought down, so we—collectively as a nation—still choose to look the other way.

            And that’s the final point in all this. Our morality is selective. We too often blame the victim and grant almost unlimited leverage to these monsters of our own contrivance. We all worship the wrong kind of heroes and scramble in some orgy of cognitive dissonance when they inevitably fall from grace.

            But now we must face up to the fact that this is the world we have made. Only we can fix it, but it will come at a cost. We will have to set new standards. We will have to listen early and often to those who stand in fear. We have to resurrect our compassion.

            Mahatma Gandhi once noted that the “best measure of a civilization is how it protects those who cannot defend themselves.” The question remains: are we as a nation willing to be what we have promised to become? The rest of the world is watching. But we’ve got some retooling to do.

            And thank you Harvey for the wake up call. We’ll send you some roses in prison.
           

           

           

           

           

           

                       

           


            

Friday, August 5, 2016

Requiem for a Sold Out Nation

Requiem for a Sold Out Nation

Donald v. Hillary, Ben Rhodes
And the Myth of Media Integrity.

Spoiler Alert: This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump. Although I have to admit that if Donald had any class at all, he could have waltzed into the White House. He doesn’t.
This is also not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Although I have to admit that if Hillary had any integrity at all, she could have waltzed into the White House. She doesn’t.
            At this point, I also have to underscore the Paradox: Trump is the only Republican that Hillary would ever have a chance of beating. Clinton is the only Democrat that Donald would ever have a chance of beating. They are two sides of the same coin: The Coin of US. Start there.

            So…as a prelude to what is turning about to be the political version of Alien versus Predator, I would like to continue my tale by pointing to a dream I had a few nights ago.

            In my dream, my nightmare really, America had just become a one party country—and our future President of the United States had just allowed himself to get dragged down into a petty pissing contest with an American Muslim Gold Star father of a fallen hero—tweeting and whining and doing interviews—and constantly getting his butt kicked!

            Oh, wait a minute! I wasn’t dreaming. It actually happened because it was just another day in the life of Donald Trump. And thanks to “The Donald” we now have a one party system—the Democratic Party—because Trump just finished obliterating the GOP and turning it into a feckless, disjointed amalgam of rabble and political cannibals, thumping their bibles, waving the flag and basically living in the past. This was more than evident in Cleveland just two weeks ago, when any Republican with any class—including two ex-Presidents and the Governor of Ohio—stayed away from this wreckage of lost souls that looked more like the deck of the Titanic than any kind of convention. And they did so for several very good reasons. Because, if the Republican Party is to survive at all (and it might not!) reasonable people are going to have to salvage something from the political carnage that will be left behind on November 8, 2016.
           
            The irony of all this is that by getting into an unwinnable argument with Pakistani American Khizr Kahn, Trump and his paper-thin ego and petty genetic matrix fell right into the clever Machiavellian trap the DNC had cleverly laid for him. Anyone with any sense at all could see it coming: A Pakistani Muslim with an Army Captain son martyred in the cause of freedom bitch slaps The Donald with a copy of the Constitution and then utters that unforgettable phrase…”You have sacrificed nothing!” And of course the Nominee of the GOP just couldn’t resist the taunt.
           
            Frankly, if one dares to step inside Donald Trump’s demented perspectives of privilege, why should he? He seems able to dive down into a bottomless pit of rude, crude banalities and slough off the debris as if it had all been a misunderstanding. And he pulls it off every single time.

            An entire field of 16 Republican candidates couldn’t take him down. Even from the first debate, Trump lured some very talented people over into a name-calling, nasty series of mindless exchanges that soon became the political equivalent of mudwrestling. And he did it without saying one intelligible thing, while candidates who tried to have message and purpose and some kind of game plan went ignored and eventually fell by the wayside. Mitt Romney—with the most cogent, classy 10-minute, line-item denunciation ever delivered to a listening audience—couldn’t do it. John Oliver with a year’s worth of case building satire couldn’t do it. Bill Maher couldn’t dis him away. Neither could Ted Cruz, Colin Powell, George Will or the best efforts of the entire RNC.

            It is certainly not lost on me that people are frustrated. I get the fact that all of us have been betrayed by the political party hacks on the left and right so long that we no longer trust any of them. Our institutions are being destroyed. Our schools have eviscerated American History. Common Core has middle class whites taking "Apology Courses." Christian symbols have been removed from some schools while Muslim prayer rugs are introduced into others. Black Lives Matter gets non-profit status for turning protests into riots. And our financially gutted military are cranking out “girlie men.”

            I also understand why those on the Right have looked to outsiders like Trump to fix this broken system, because Trump somehow symbolizes our lost national backbone. I completely understand why The Donald’s millions of followers respond to his Billionaire Tourette’s Syndrome as if his semi-coherent fulminations had been etched into stone tablets on Mount Sinai. I have even gotten used to the fact that his public demeanor is a mashup of Don King, Mussolini and Biff Tannen… and that he won’t be able to follow through on a single thing he promises to do. Trump is a classic example of what we used to describe in Texas as “Big Hat. No Cattle.” And it’s not that Trump is outrageous that bothers me. It is that he’s just not very bright.

            But he is bright enough to manipulate the media and feed their greed for ratings, making them de-facto accomplices in his fractious rise to power.
           
            I’m also convinced that, deep inside his soul of souls, candidate Trump doesn’t really want to be POTUS and is trying in every Freudian context to take himself out of the race. Either that, or he has an undiagnosed case of hypomania, which might medically disqualify him out of the gate…and would certainly be enough to deny him any access to the nuclear football.  

            On his reckless run at the White House (and some bizarre courtship with political martyrdom), The Donald has already thrown South Korea under the bus while encouraging North Korea’s Kim Jung Un (the 21st century Ramsey Bolton) with offers of a summit. He offers torture as a military alternative, wiping out families of terrorists, and using nuclear warheads. He has praised Putin and Saddam Hussein and dumped on JFK. We already have his laundry list of insults to women, the physically impaired, Muslims and the entire nation of Mexico. Now, almost on a daily basis, The Donald has added “stupid” to his list of disqualifiers, noting that Russia will not go into Ukraine (even though they took the Crimea back in 2014). Meanwhile he somehow proposes the use of “nukes” without the slightest understanding of the Nuclear Triad…or even what it is.

            In fact, in the wake of the Khizr Khan fiasco last week, Trump had such a catastrophic five days in a row that the press ended up calling it “the worst week in anyone’s run for President ever.” There’s only one thing wrong with their critique. They said the same thing about The Donald at the end of March—and the end of April, the end of May…and the middle of June. In fact, get used to it: this guy is the Terminator. He just keeps coming back, and he stays within the margin of error because mainstream America is scared to death when faced with the alternative.

            The alternative is Hillary Clinton. And I finally understand that she is a serial prevaricator who has lied about virtually every issue ever put in front of her. We have her on tape. We have her on film. We have her on daily news—repeating her lies on continuous loop without one iota of shame—and it doesn’t matter! It doesn't matter in the least because the public has become inured to them, because the term “lying politician,” has become a pleonasm in the daily discourse of running our dysfunctional government. And HRC’s notorious flip-flops are now being looked upon simply as business as usual for the political scumbags inside the Beltway. So, We the People rationalize that Hillary is no different…and therefore not that much worse than anyone else. (That’s how far we have lowered the bar.)

            I also get the fact that her Kool-aid brigade are willing to dismiss Hillary’s Brian Williams Category 1 pathological “dodging sniper fire” lies with the same kind of numb vestigial shrug we often witness from Wildebeests in the Serengeti when hyenas devour their young…which goes a long way toward explaining the former Secretary of State’s bizarre Benghazi “Video” McGuffin and her disappeared 30,000 emails. Because as history has taught us: “Nothing succeeds quite as well as a big lie.”

            Aware of this, Hillary pulled it off, just as she pulled off all her deleted connections to the Clinton Foundation, because she knew that neither the FBI Director James Comey nor anyone in the press would challenge her on it. In fact they enabled her felonies right before our eyes, and we all accepted it. We accepted it because we have been numbed to the congenital dishonesty of our press and our government officials—all of them—including and especially our Security Agencies.

            Somehow, I’ve almost gotten over the fact that I shudder every time Hillary opens her mouth, not just because she reminds me of the Bride of Chucky (which she does), but also because she is more like Richard Nixon than any other politician before or since. Like Nixon, Hillary doesn’t like people very much. And like Nixon, she is the only candidate in either party who possesses the political genetics to walk into the Oval Office on day one, sit down at her desk and be ready to run the country. And like Nixon (a closet liberal BTW), HRC would be able to do it with the same ruthless efficiency and marginal ethics that will be just enough to allow the fractured engine of Democracy to continue on its troubled course, chronically ill but not yet ready to die. She is in fact the recruitment Poster Marine for the Corrupt Continuum. And that seems enough for some…

            It’s a continuation of corruption that “We the People” are embracing because—like the battered wife or the kidnap victim— we have become the enablers of all that we detest…because at our core we’re terrified of what we might lose if we opt for change.

            As it is, I witness this pandemic Stockholm Syndrome that has infused the American mindset in the last 12 months, and I am haunted by the words of French counterrevolutionary Joseph de Maistre who said: “In a Democracy people get exactly the leaders they deserve.” De Maistre knew this only too well. Flourishing from 1751 to 1821, he survived that bloody orgy of anarchy called the French Revolution, witnessed the career arc of Napoleon and lived to become part of France’s eventual return to sanity.

            The question is, will we? (Return to sanity, that is.) And let’s face it: This presidential race that has left us with the two most deplorable choices for POTUS in modern history is purely an extension of our consciousness as a nation—nothing more, nothing less. As Americans, We the People have become narcissistic, overfed, undereducated and uninformed, overloaded with technology, manipulated by media, radicalized by extremists on both sides and turned into mindless “World War Z” fodder for the demagogue. We’ve been drugged and doped and media saturated out of most of our national initiative. And we cannot get our head out of our apps long enough to recognize it. We know something is wrong, but we’re in denial about the fact that “we” are what is wrong.

            With 340 million inhabitants (4.9% of the global population) we consume 18% of the world’s food (and throw away 40% of it). We use 24% of the world’s energy, own 68% of the world’s cars and trucks, and 40% of its TVs, smart phones, and electronics. 58% of the US food chain is GMO, 69% of the country is overweight, and 120 million of us are now defined as morbidly obese. What we have become is a monster of consumption that is truly devouring the world. And yet we are convinced that somehow we need more.

            Bernie Sanders fed into that need. And for a year, he transplanted his Socialist roots deep down into the Democratic brand, using that platform to convince legions of the disenfranchised that they weren’t getting theirs while barking the standard Socialist mantra to rail against the low-hanging fruit of that “elite” 1%. (Of course, the 1% includes anyone who makes over $320 K a year, who usually work their butts off to get there and who pay 19% of all income tax and employ 24% of the workforce.) Very little of this mattered to Bernie who applied his “more free sh*t for everyone” game plan, until the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Shultz threw him under the bus …but not before his legion of angry faithful rose such a stink at the Philadelphia Convention Center that the Democrats had to build a six mile wall around the complex to prevent Bernie’s “Brownshirts” from storming the doors.

            None of this showed up on camera because the media conspired to scrub down the Democratic Convention into a Norman Rockwell mural of patriotic harmony and Big Umbrella brotherhood—with eloquent speeches from shiny people and Hillary appearing on stage like Lady-Bountiful/Grandmother of the Year, locking arms with celebrities, singing Kumbaya and simply pleading to be allowed to serve her country “one more time.”

            Meanwhile, the DNC allowed Bernie Sanders to push the Democratic party platform so far to the left that the America we know will never appear on the horizon again. Instead, it will die of a strain of economic HIV that will take us down generation by generation until nothing of the Capitalistic matrix will be left.

            That’s not what troubles me most about Hillary Clinton (although there is much there to dislike). What haunts me to this moment and will forever is her opening statement when announcing her run for the highest office in the land: “To continue the great work begun by Barack Obama.”

            And OMG!! I remember thinking at the time. I personally couldn’t imagine a scarier thing in the world! Forget the fact that in just the last ten days, this guy signed the Monsanto Protection Act and got nailed for indirectly selling helicopters to ISIS—just on foreign policy alone, the Obama legacy has become the political equivalent of a live grenade.

            When recently asked on PBS about his greatest foreign policy achievements, Barack Obama immediately answered without pause: “Our restored relations with Cuba…and the Nuclear Arms Deal with Iran.” When I heard him say this, I went into a kind of retro-shock that after 7 years in office our Nobel Laureate POTUS had those two things in the realm of foreign policy for which he was proud.

            The rapprochement with Cuba was OK, I guess. We already do business with our fair share of sleazy dictators with deplorable human rights records, so why not Cuba? Time to bury the hatchet, I suppose. But Iran?! The Iran Nuclear Arms Treaty summarizes just how sold out we are as a nation and how little any of us can do about it.

              I need merely refer to the fall out from a May 6 New York Times interview with White House Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor Ben Rhodes. In the article Rhodes arrogantly proclaimed that the Obama Administration had in fact “deliberately deceived” the American people by creating a false narrative surrounding its negotiations with Iran.

            This, coming from the White House operative referred to by many as “Obama’s alter-ego where foreign policy is concerned," pointed to the fact that not only was the deal apparently negotiated in bad faith but also undertaken by intentionally ventriloquizing the Washington media into becoming an “Echo Chamber” for the Obama Administration’s policies—something, Rhodes bragged, that The White House has repeatedly done for years.

            For those of us who weren’t paying much attention, the Iran Nuclear talks were based on the premise that the US would be dealing with “moderate” Iranian politicos, when everyone knew the radicals were front and center from the beginning. What followed during the next two weeks was what had to be the worst diplomatic pocket-picking since Neville Chamberlain’s “Peace in Our Time” negotiations with Hitler—an international collapse of resolve that not only sent $150 Billion to the fountainhead of terrorism in the Middle East, but also one so replete with toxic spillover that even Israel and Saudi Arabia aligned against it.

            As it turns out, Ben Rhodes defiantly implicated Obama, Kerry, Valerie Jarrett and company in a conspiracy of lies about the nature of the negotiations from the beginning. Rhodes further denounced the administration’s previous foreign policy scout team as a “bungling bunch of morons,” singling out former CIA Chief Leon Panetta and then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for their incompetence.

              All the while, all teams were dealing not with moderates but with Iran’s most vociferous radicals, including the Ayatollah Khamenei himself who showed up inbetween his daily “Death to America” rallies to make sure the US knuckled under and, once the negotiations were completed, immediately went out to a fully packed street crowd in Tehran to announce that, “We got everything we wanted!”           

            This is a continuum if not the nadir of the same foreign policy disaster in the Middle East instigated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who proudly helped to orchestrate the disastrous Arab Spring (of 2012)—the same Arab Spring that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi in Libya only to see—four years later—ISIS establish its largest base of operation in that country, spawning the largest diaspora North Africa has ever known.

            This is the same “Arab Spring” that left our US Embassy team twisting in the wind—despite 5 different pleas for rescue—including Ambassador Christopher Stevens… and including Navy Seal Tyrone Woods and Service Officer Sean Smith, all of whom were captured tortured and killed…and then lied about ad nauseam.   

             There is little doubt that the State Department knew the real cause of the attack on our Benghazi Embassy from the outset—that it was an Al Qaeda orchestrated raid planned in advance—because they were outed two days after the fact by (then) Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Aubshagur who went on ABC Sunday Morning to declare that the Obama Administration knew exactly who had done it and why, and then defied them to take action, threatening repercussions if they did so.

            The fact that they continued to lie about it and that Hillary somehow agreed to become the point person for this is still murky in its source but confirmed in several books, including Ben Stein’s Blood Feud. But the bottom line is that she did lie. She lied to the families and to the American people and (as part of her dark contract with Obama), agreed to take the fall for it in return for his endorsement in 2016.

            That brings us nearly full circle and underscores the hypocrisy of both political conventions and how the media dealt with them. And I focus here on the GOP convention speech by mother of slain Benghazi Staff Officer Sean Smith. In her impassioned Tuesday night speech in Cleveland, Gold Star Mother Patricia Smith cried out in anguish to Hillary Clinton for lying to her about the (bogus video) cause of her son’s death. And for her troubles over her martyred son she was savaged en masse by the Press, denounced for exploiting her son’s death and even threatened a time or two. When Charles Woods, Gold Star father of Navy Seal Sean Woods (also slain in Benghazi), came to Patricia Smith’s defense and reiterated that Hillary had lied to him as well about the attack (either that or she was suffering from dementia), he was subsequently ignored for having a faulty memory and for being pressured by the Trump camp to step up.

            This actually brings us 360 degrees to Donald Trump’s little piss-up with Khizr Khan and the ridiculous double standard being thrust upon both candidates.   Here we have Hillary Clinton who had direct impact on the deaths of Benghazi’s victims not needing to defend herself because the press was doing it for her.  And here is the Donald being raked over the coals by Khizr Khan and being too stupid to just shut up.

            Of course, Trump is a knee-jerk retaliator who counterpunches in every direction like a drunk losing a barroom brawl. And now, rather than engage in any meaningful dialogue about how to fix this nations problems, he is rattling off so many inanities daily that he’s shaken his own campaign organization to the roots. There is little doubt at this point that The Donald will self-immolate, and the press will be the instrument to take him down.  

            It is the same media, mind you, that made candidate Trump, that enabled him to suck all the air out of the Republican primary by giving him 90% of their air time for months, while some very gifted people were afforded no voice at all and were finally left to die of benign neglect. Now, however, it is time for The Donald to go home, because after all the man has fulfilled his purpose.

            In case we ever doubt our media’s bias for a moment I must add a footnote to the Ben Rhodes debacle that summarizes the spirit of our national consciousness. According to a later report by The Wall Street Journal, when Ben Rhodes went off on everyone including the Obama Administration and essentially spat in the face of the public in the process, he was absolutely vilified by the Washington Press Corps—not for his arrogance, not for being part of a conspiracy to deceive the American people, and not even for his expressed contempt for the press and his associates…but for his disloyalty to his Commander in Chief, for outing the President and his team.

             Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels once famously said: “We regard the press as an instrument upon which the government may play.” Nothing has underscored that truism more than the last seven years.

            During that time, the press has covered up so many depredations by the Obama administration it has been difficult to vet because there are now media filters that sieve out unfavorable information from public view. In truth, America has been under a virtual news blackout so insidious that one has had go to the foreign media to find out what is actually happening in the world.

            Those backing Trump are those who have summoned enough grit to fight back. They are outraged by the daily government assaults on our institutions; and they’re right to do so. But by choosing Donald Trump as their standard bearer, they have anointed a shallow political poseur who has done nothing more than master the Art of Complaint—and who has absolutely nothing constructive to offer to replace what now exists.  In doing so, they have abandoned reason, logic and all the tools of democracy that deny good men and women the ability to invoke legitimate change. Along the way, they’ve completely obliterated a political party in the bargain. 

            That seems to have been the plan all along. So what we are left with is some perverse inversion of the Manchurian Candidate—the only GOP candidate that Hillary could beat—the nominee who still chooses to attack his fellow Republicans and can’t seem to concentrate on the real issues at hand.

            Eleven months ago, I wrote a blog: “Will Trump Trash the GOP?” http://robertahola.com/blog-posts/will-trump-trash-the-gop/ I hate to say, “I told you so,” but he has done exactly that. And by doing so, The Donald has become the perfect conjuration of the Clinton political machine. And they have to be high-fiving behind closed doors, because now it’s hers to lose.
           
            The press helped Trump do it. The public bought it. And all the Democrats had to do was wait.  Of course, there will be some backsliding. And Hillary’s daily conduct is always a target rich environment. But she is the Devil we know, and now her ranks are filled with defectors from the Republican ranks.

            Barring a miracle or a midnight revelation, in November the Democrats will win the White House and both Houses of Congress. And for the next four years at least, they will have tricked the nation into the one party system for which they’ve been conniving all along. Well as the proverb prophesies: “Be careful what you wish for.” One party “democracies” have always failed in the end and taken down the countries that embrace them.

            President Ronald Reagan once prophetically noted a phrase that now haunts us all: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

 

            By allowing Trump to self-destruct in geometric progressions, the Democrats are having their way with it all the way into November. “We the People” have been the ultimate enablers, and we have let the media help us pave the way. We have finally demolished the GOP, severely crippled the two party system and shot ourselves in the foot. Let’s just be sure that the next round doesn’t go straight into the brain.