The Gripe Vine Top to Bottom

Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator

He made your gripes his own.
He made your gripes his own. | Source

The Unbearable Heaviness of the Political Process

I was glad to discover a week or so ago that 3 out of 5 Americans were turned off by the current election. Watching cattle chew grass is more exciting. I want to make myself perfectly clear: I jumped on the Make America Great Again bandwagon, then fell off. I was told on Facebook I would burn in hell, presumably for eternity. This made me think. Was it supporting Donald Trump or not supporting Hillary Clinton that would damn me to Hell for Eternity? There was a time, unless I have a really bad case of Alzheimers, not just forgetfulness, when a citizen could decide on his or her own who to vote for. Now we have an Open Society, which was only a theory some years back, meant to succeed Democracy, or so I have always understood it. It could, contrariwise, be considered a more progressive phase of Democracy, but the elimination of privacy is thoroughly Communistic. Therefore, I am not sure. Or, let's put it another way. You live in New York City. Chances are you are a Democrat, or likely to vote Democratic. This is, in NYC legal terms, "The Assumption of Being a Democrat". But if you aren't, you keep it to yourself. You have to live. You vote in an enclosed booth. Nobody knows -- unless you run with an outwardly Republican, counter-culture pack. You go along, maybe a winner, maybe a loser. But nobody knows -- that's the whole point. Now, how do you do it?

Joseph Heller

Author of Catch 22.
Author of Catch 22. | Source

It's Catch 22 All Over Again

I don't know what this kind of phrase is called. I was not an English major. All I want to add is that there is an element of mystery. It comes from the top. Just listen to the main politicians at the podium sound off. Neither candidate can possibly know what the next four years will bring. Thus, farmers might call it the smell of money. But people generally do not. I have never heard such dishonesty or, at best, mish mash, from leaders of any country, let alone the United States. Neither party tells the truth. Neither has knowledge of truth. Neither is honest -- how could they be? It comes down to a question of showers of hogwash -- the one on the left or right? Make your selection and pull the lever. What is going to happen to us? But that is the gripe from the bottom, not the top. I want to focus on the bigwigs and their gripes, since in point of fact, they do not really have any. Their fall-back positions are to die for.

Here's the scoop as I see it. Trump has promised to completely solve every major problem and then some. But Hillary, or Clinton, if you like, is going to be a first, another first, and second, a more photogenic presence. She promises to look and sound better on camera than her opponent. She will smile. Trump will use his thumb instead. It is an uphill battle, but she can succeed in this department. How to make Trump presentable has already stumped the entire entertainment industry. He is visually flawed. But as to the border wall, minimizing the threat of incoming terrorists by locking out refugees, and gaining a foothold, finally, in the global economic arena, we must wait and see. Are these things feasible? Jeb Bush says they are not going to happen. As to Democrats, I have no idea.

About Catch 22, I mean damned if you do, damned if you don't. Yes, either way, my detractor is right. If I vote for Trump, I will burn in hell. I can sort of see it. The flames, I mean. My own belief system does not include God toting cans of kerosene and playing with matches. Nevertheless, I could be wrong. I caught a grand total of two speeches at the RNC. I totally lost interest. The next convention, too, was, for me, a let-down. However, the lingering threat on Facebook weighs on my mind. It was present in another shape and form during the last election. Someone called out of the blue and asked if I was going to vote Democratic. Naturally, I said yes. Wouldn't you? To an unidentifiable voice? A potential psychotic who has your cell number? Then, at the poll, I was forced, along with others, to wait for hours. During this time, I began to ponder. If I voted Republican, the information would inevitably leak back to the caller/stalker. Then what? It is naive to think that we still use a secret ballot.

Time to Leave America?

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Noam Chomsky 2004

Intellectuals.  I know very well what you think of them.
Intellectuals. I know very well what you think of them. | Source

The Issues or Who's Afraid of Noam Chomsky?

Chomsky is a smart man. Cloistered in universities, he writes intellectual books. His political works are highly critical, and thus, after a while, either reading to oneself, or availing oneself of Whispersync, a sense of fear develops. Does anyone high up know what they are doing? Anyway, he sticks closely to substance, often failed policies, one after the other. He moves seamlessly from issue to issue, or policy to policy. He is obviously not running for office. I left off not more than an hour ago on the chilling subject of nuclear weapons. More and more leaders, including some of ours, are warming up to the theoretical idea of their actual deployment. Not long ago, no leader, except a few with reputations for lunacy, ever said aloud on record that he or she would, under the right circumstances, drop a nuclear bomb on another country. Basically, there is no justification for nukes except deterrence, which is a different matter, even admitting a degree of overlap. The best achievement of the Obama administration, which is nearly gone, is to have urged citizens to define for themselves "who we are". In other words, only to abbreviate the discussion, we must not be savages, because that is not who we are, though we live in an increasingly savage world.

One of the reasons I distrust Democrats is their cheap pandering to those politically, economically, and socially lower down the ladder with whom they share nothing in common. Nonetheless, we want a working President, not a self-made celebrity hobnobbing with big shots -- another reason I am wary of Democrats. All those photo-ops at Camp David, or surprise visits to luncheonettes. . . what for? Recognizing the fact that we live in a multi-media age that fosters sensationalism, I prefer at least the opposition's effort to inculcate values, not all of which I am enamored by. These comprise the domain wherein Republicans have dwelt for a spell. Many, however, cannot find Trump on their grid. He is a unique candidate. It is unlikely, for instance, that he will steal, or condone the pork barrel, an age-old accusation leveled mostly at Democratic legislators, but also Republicans, who thrive on tax dollars, in the name of almost any philanthropic cause. But I veered off from Chomsky, who somehow, in one of his books, compiles a lengthy, literary list of oddities about how the government operates. In brief, it does not make sense.

Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois Senator

Democratic nominee for President, 1860.  After winning against Lincoln in 1858, Lincoln beat the Little Giant 2 years later.
Democratic nominee for President, 1860. After winning against Lincoln in 1858, Lincoln beat the Little Giant 2 years later. | Source

Times Have Changed

Last night I heard Bill O'Relly, on a video clip, state that the assassination of JFK was one of the two most stunning events he experienced as a reporter. What was the other? The rise of Donald Trump! Chomsky's coincidental take on the Cuban missile crisis is, to me, at least something that also stands out. His description includes obsolete American missiles pointed at Russia from Turkey, and an effective quarantine, which, nonetheless, fails to prevent Russia from setting up launchers, missiles replete with warheads, ninety miles off our southeastern coast. Chomsky does not buy into the nobility of Russia for having elected, unilaterally, to stand down. All the same, here is the gist of the matter, as I see it. Neither Russia nor Cuba showed any fear of the U.S. whatsoever. What about retaliation from the most powerful nation on earth? Drek. No one thinks much about it now, since nothing happened. Yet things are again building, however slowly, as well as different, geographically. Again, the absence of fear, theirs not ours, is poignant. At some point, regardless of who is elected, toothpaste grins and hairsprayed "do's" are not going to mean much. So what are the gripes and whose are the most valid?

We cannot time travel back into the past to solve mysteries. But today we are faced with wily anti-American forces all over the world. This is hardly the time for Democratic demagoguery. They deliberately work up "The Lower Depths", just as Republicans appeal to the staid, upper classes. Why does it seem as if Democrats, like insurrectionists, plan to rule the streets? Of course, they accumulate votes. They can hardly bleed the poor and distressed for money. But they cannot pile blessings on the working poor with such obsequious rhetoric for nothing. After all, they are politicians, not men and women dedicated to the sacred. Well, Sanders has temporarily passed into history's shadow. Now, a relative unknown, Kaine, has taken his place alongside the nominee. If Trump fails, will the odd couple be able to deliver? If Clinton and Kaine fail, will Trump, and Republicans, who can still stand his company, be able to do more than talk the talk? Whatever the outcome, we will put up with it. No, the "system" does not work -- not exactly.

Vienna 1961

Khrushchev and Kennedy.
Khrushchev and Kennedy. | Source

Foreign Powers

There is still hope even if America loses its way. I am thinking mostly of England, which might prove capable of world leadership, having a new, untested Prime Minister, or France, which, despite a language barrier, is at the forefront of the war on terror. The latest outrage in Normandy needs no additional comment. Intelligence is the decisive factor. It stands to reason that America might still be waking up to the "brave new world" we now inhabit. Obama was repeatedly criticized on 24/7 news for "leading from behind". All the same, the war on terror, having been a fact of life for decades, might be better off with a leader at the helm other than the President of the United States. Until such time that ISIS, or another violent group, begins to rack up a series of successful actions on American soil, the time has not yet arrived for American leadership. In fact, the time may never come. 9/11 was an anomaly. It would also be a wise move if the U.S. stopped using the word, superpower. It creates an unfulfillable image. Still, America has nothing to be ashamed of. 1776 to 2016 has been a good run. Moreover, it is not yet desceased. Republicans will try to improve its dignity. The Democratic Party will try to more widely disseminate the so-called American Dream. Whatever the outcome, foreign powers will not always stroke the U.S. ego.

The Conventions are Over

I wrote this hub while the nominees took center stage. If this were a nation of balloons and confetti, we'd be in great shape. Either way, we'd be winners. But as the paper maché videos fade, no godly apparition in the sky points the way. No horseman of the apocalypse. No one and nothing. These are strange times with too many changes, if you ask me. I hardly recognize the world I now live in compared to the one I was born into. I can only state a preference for regime change based on the fact that the world is sliding into hell before my very eyes. Doesn't America, however isolated, apart, or above the fray, go along with the rest of the doomed? I don't really know the answer. To be fair and balanced, expect Republicans to circulate plenty "dirt", if only among themselves. You will vote your consciences, no doubt, the same as always.

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