A Penny For ‘Em?


American Glitter


We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the U.S. political conventions are over. In Europe, there wasn’t as much coverage as that shown by the American media, but as the Daily Show is transmitted in the U.K., (albeit a day or two late) and it covered both conventions in detail over six nights, we saw sufficient to realise that Hollywood-style glitz and stardust certainly isn’t dead. It was alive and in robust good health at both conventions.

What was sadly lacking was any hint of truth, sincerity, or honour. Both the Republican and Democratic conventions were about inciting strong emotion. The only difference between the audiences at the conventions and those of a football game was the latter are probably better behaved and less prone to chant anti-social slogans at the goading of the person on the podium.

The question now is: where do we go from here?

Most sane folks would probably settle for Clinton, given the somewhat dubious (at best) alternative. But what has Clinton got to offer the country, and the world?

More of the same?

More of the same, may not seem all that dreadful – after all, Obama wasn’t such a bad president, was he?

No, not if you conveniently forget about his 465 drone strikes on Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, that had killed 2,464 people as of January 2015. At least 314 of those have been civilians, including children. That’s nine times as many drone strikes as under his predecessor, George W Bush, and these are very conservative figures.[1]

Or, if you conveniently forget those imprisoned for years without trial at Guantanamo Bay – many of whom died there – a ‘facility’ that Obama promised to close “within a year” of becoming president, or, the 3,050 U.S. servicemen still actively serving in Iraq and the 10,000 still on active duty in Afghanistan, bogged down by the Taliban just as the Russians were in the 1980s.

It’s also necessary to forget the fervour portrayed by Obama in attempting to force through the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, both designed to transfer more powers to the corporate establishment and debilitate the rights of working people – that is, if we want to regard the Obama presidency as ‘not so bad’.

Not that any of this means Hillary Clinton will necessarily continue the ‘Obama Doctrine’. Provided we forget that her husband – with her backing – was responsible for the North American Free Trade Agreement that resulted in thousands of US jobs being shipped to Mexico, or, that he instigated the ‘Three Strikes’ law (Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994) that resulted in over two million Americans being incarcerated and 160,000 serving life sentences for petty crimes, or, his Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which crippled many poor black families, or, how he joined up with the Republicans in 1999 to repeal Glass-Steagall and set the scene for the crash of 2008, or, his drastic and unnecessary increase in sanctions against Iraq, from 1993 onwards, that crippled the Iraqi economy and directly led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children – one reason put forward by Osama bin Laden for the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Or, without doubt, his worst act of omission: failing to commit U.S. troops to support a paltry collection of U.N. peacekeepers in Rwanda. Knowing what was happening in that country, aware of the impending genocide, he did nothing. His inaction contributed to the appalling suffering and deaths of perhaps a million innocent people.[2]

Doing nothing when people are in danger seems a recurring problem for the Clintons. Was Benghazi, perhaps, a ghostly reminiscence of Rwanda?

Okay, so Hillary Clinton may not be the greatest presidential candidate ever, but she is a woman. That’s the most important criteria for many.

Why will being a woman make her a better president?

It won’t, of course. History shows us that women in power behave just like men, and we can be assured that Clinton will, too.

With regard to her Republican competitor it’s equally difficult to find anything good to recommend him. Donald Trump, by anyone’s standards, is an arsehole. He runs roughshod over any who stand in his path. He’s a narcissist par excellence, and the idea of him being in control of the nuclear codes that could destroy the world truly doesn’t bear thinking about.

Consequently, when every factor is taken into consideration, the decision that folks in the U.S. have to make come November, is between a madman (a la ‘Dr Strangelove’) and a committed neoliberalist liar hellbent on implementing the already discredited U.S. ‘New World Order’, and burying the last vestiges of democracy forever.

All Americans should ensure they have a coin in their pockets come polling day.


[1] “Almost 2,500 now killed by covert US drone strikes since Obama inauguration six years ago: The Bureau’s report for January 2015” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 2015

[2] “15 Ways Bill Clinton’s White House Failed America and the World” AlterNet, June 2015

4 Replies to “A Penny For ‘Em?”

  1. NAFTA is the North ‘American’ Free Trade Agreement.

    As our Canadian penny was removed from circulation three-and-a-half years ago, and if still extant would be worth 3/4 of an American cent, my penn’orth of opinion hasn’t much currency.

    And, since I cannot vote in the US election, I’m quite sure most Americans don’t give a plug nickel about my views anyhoo.

  2. Sabina – what was I a’thinkin’!? Thanks for the correction. I’ve made the necessary amendment. I’ll have to put that one down to too much French wine last night.

    As for the ‘penny’ thing, I can only offer condolences. How do you Canadians manage without a penny – I mean, at those times of necessity? It was most remiss of your government to dispense with it. Stephen Harper, I suppose? I’m sure that nice Justin Trudeau would give it back to you, if you asked him.

  3. Hey – a new blog format, RJ! Very nice too!

    “All Americans should ensure they have a coin in their pockets come polling day” you wrote….. I’d add a small bottle of gin, tequila, bourbon, Scotch, or whatever in their pockets too, to numb the pain. 🙁

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