The two most similar candidates running for president currently are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Despite their aesthetic differences and opposing vanity attributes, they are both uniquely different than the candidates they face in their respective races. Yes, they both capitalize on anger and yes they are both insurgents who break the mold, but the real similarity lies in their conflicts with their respective party tickets and their approaches to the issues about which they are most vocal.
Both Sanders and Trump are relatively unconcerned when it comes to foreign policy. Yes, they will answer questions when forced to, but unlike the late Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, they do not build their soapboxes atop grand models of global interventionism. The Donald complained loudly a few debates back about the amount of expenditure lavished upon regime change pet projects overseas which garner intangible and incomprehensible benefits for the American people while our roads and bridges crumble back home: “We have spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, … if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges and all of the other problems, our airports and all of the other problems we have, we would have been a lot better off — I can tell you that right now.” Back in February of last year Bernie Sanders argued for his proposed infrastructure bill by arguing that it would be far cheaper than the Iraq war and actually provide a tangible benefit for the American people. They make essentially the same argument on this point, much to the chagrin of the DC war party which is supported by both Democrats and republicans.
Brussels was just attacked yesterday and dozens were killed. It’s like rain now or some astronomical phenomenon we see every few weeks. I was not shocked one bit when I saw the news. In fact, I was actually surprised there was no major attack in Europe for so long after Paris. Unlike many who reacted to November’s attacks I have no problem with sending prayers and good vibes. After the grief though, there needs to be a coherent response. I’m pretty laissez-faire when it comes to security and intervention. You could call me Newtonian. Crack down too much and you get push-back. The worst time to field opinions on next steps is when everyone is reeling from a disaster. That being said, I’m not reeling.
If ISIS is to be believed in their claim of sponsorship and that the reasoning behind the attack was Belgian involvement in the Middle East coalition striking at the caliphate, then there seems to be a bit of a catch-22. The West, in attempting to keep ISIS from gaining power, is intervening in Iraq and Syria. The reactive force results in attacks in their backyards. So in response the West tries to wage war as delicately as possible to avoid civilian casualties and bad optics. This draws out the conflict and gives groups like ISIS more time to develop counter-actions. In trying to minimize damage, the West merely moves it around. Continue reading
A Photograph of H. A. Goodman latched comfortably to Bernie Sanders
Sometimes one comes across people who are in the wrong business. Occasionally it is so obvious that one is not entirely sure how they do not see this themselves. Luckily for many of these sorts of people, delusion is often at hand to stroke their egos and strike them blind when confronted with their proverbial ‘swing-and-a-miss’ predictions and proclamations. One of these people whom I have taken notice of lately is H.A. Goodman. Goodman is a Bernie-bot who is so slovenly devoted that he has transformed into one of those feeder fish who suctions onto the underbelly of a shark for shelter and sustenance. The problem with being one of these underbelly feeders is that your success depends almost entirely on the success of the host. Thus, the parasitic fish in question, while writing on the bastions of journalistic excellence known asThe Huffington Post and Salon, paints a picture in which his shark is the baddest and most unstoppable creature in the sea. It would almost be sad if it wasn’t so damn entertaining. Continue reading
Yes he is. Before I go any further I want to explain exactly what I mean. Trump is a rock star in his persona and his approach to the political machine. He relies heavily on cult of personality: people may not like his positions but they still choose to support him. He is bold and boisterous and he knows how to give the people what they want. Like many rock stars, Trump wears his vices on his sleeve. He makes no apologies for his wealth or past transgressions. He shows no respect for hallowed institutions: see American media, the pope, the sitting president, the former president, general decorum, and pretty much anything else. This is why people love him. This is why people love rock stars.
A few days ago David Brooks put out a hilarious, ironical piece called: “I Miss Barack Obama.” Well, I assumed it was tongue-in-cheek for the first few paragraphs. It’s sad really, and perhaps a testament to how much politics has worn Brooks down over the years. Yes, this primary is exhausting, but Brooks looks to be coming out the other side like a statue buffeted by harsh winds and sand for a thousand years: so worn down that he offers only approximations of realism and a hint of a coherent figure. After reading it I got the impression that the poor guy really needs a vacation. As the old saying goes: if you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Brooks is still in the kitchen, but he had a fainting couch placed conveniently beside the stove. He has approached a psychotic break brought on by stress. As an amateur student of the human psyche, that is my diagnosis. I have three observations which led to this conclusion, and each one logically follows the prior.
“Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
“How are the polls?”
“Holding for now.”
“Should I be worried?”
“You always ask that as though there is a definite time one ought to worry.”
“When I go down in the polls, far enough down that you would be worrying in my shoes.”
“Well that depends. Are you self-destructive?”
A bit of fiction from an election in which the truth is often stranger . . .
I had blinked and rubbed my eyes a number of times as though the repeated acts would offer some new shot of clarity. They did not, and I muddled on in confusion and in the sweat and noise of the bodies all clustered around me humming with excitement audible and otherwise, an electrical charge which seemed poised to arc between to conductive points. The man crouched over the podium raised his hands again and charged into a new tirade. I squinted as the light caught the morphing of his facial muscles. The jury was still out as they say, but my suspicions had gone into overdrive as had the crowd. Why had I been drawn out of California and halfway across the nation to, of all things, a political rally? Had it all started as a simple act of kindness and morphed into something else? Was it obsession?
About a year back, my friend Trey had asked me to look in on his uncle, an older man who lived by himself with the daily invasion of a well-meaning but beleaguered healthcare worker. Business took Trey all around the country, and his uncle was the only family he had. He had explained that he felt guilty and could pay me a little for the service, since I was between jobs. The old man didn’t live too far from my apartment, so I assented and gave Trey that superior satisfaction garnered from killing two birds with one stone. I guess he figured that he was doing his uncle and I both favors, and he was not wrong. Continue reading