Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Final Daze

Most of us will be happy/sad when the national presidential campaign is finally tucked into bed. It has been a wearying 20 months. Ted Cruz began the show by throwing his name into the presidential ring way back in March 2015. Hillary Clinton, the Lucretia Borgia of the Democratic Party, announced a month later in April. Donald Trump, the Genghis Khan of Republican contenders, announced two months after Mrs. Clinton in June. Mr. Trump’s announcement was followed by shrieks of laughter; but, as the philosopher says, he laughs best who laughs last. Not only has the American campaign season lacked substance and manners, it lasted far too long, a boon for the media that seek to keep us aroused while it is hauling in cash by the truck load.

By the way, speaking of cash by the truck load, the reader, I hope, will permit a brief parenthetical remark.

It always was a whisper in the whirlwind, but some readers may recall the planeloads of cash President Barack Obama sent to Iran to procure the release of American prisoners held by Revolutionary Guards who, 37 years earlier during the Carter administration, had kicked off the Iranian Revolution by abducting and holding as prisoners for 444 days 52 American diplomats and citizens attached to the U.S. Embassy. Capturing Americans and holding them for ransom appears to be a major weapon in the Iranian diplomatic arsenal. And it works every time.

The Iranians squeezed $1.8 billion out of Mr. Obama, who said, winking heavily, that the payments in cash and gold of $400 million delivered by plane secretly at night – instantly convertible into Hamas terrorist salaries -- were not ransom payments. They were payments the United States owed to Iran the assets of which were frozen by the United States after Iran had violated the American embassy and its personnel. Mr. Obama was simply cleaning the ledger of old debts. As always, when oleaginous politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths, the real story of the ransom payment is much more interesting – but it involves a mathematical calculation, and American eyes tend towards half-mast when money is mentioned in news stories.

A Jewish publication, Mosaic,has the full story, which reads like a chapter pulled from a spy novel written by a tax accountant:

“The president was returning $400 million in Iran’s “Foreign Military Sales” (FMS) account with the Pentagon, plus $1.3 billion in interest, but he failed to mention that in 1981, when Iran filed its claim before the Claims Tribunal at The Hague, the U.S. had responded with a counterclaim for $817 million for Iran’s violations of its obligations under the FMS program. In 2016, with both the claim and the counterclaim still pending, it was possible that Iran owed billions of dollars to the U.S., not the reverse.”

That’s right, dear reader: After the credits and debits in our national ledger had been balanced, IRAN OWED THE UNITED STATES A DEBT. The United Stated owed Iran NOTHING, nada, zip. In mob lingo, “we was had” – by Mr. Obama, who needed a nuclear deal with Iran to close an upcoming election, not the first time in the Obama administration that the campaign tail wagged the foreign policy dog.

Should this datum appear prominently in the current presidential campaign? Why, of course it should. And yet it whispers to us from the whirlwind.

Instead, we are warned by Congressman-for-life John Larson of the 1st gerrymandered District that the KKK may steal the election in Connecticut.

Mr. Larson is seeking his 10th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he worries, we are told by Neil Vigdor of the Connecticut Post:

“White supremacists are mobilizing across the country — including right here in Connecticut — to keep African-Americans and other communities from voting on Election Day,” Larson wrote. “This is a disgusting attempt at voter suppression, and it will not stand.”

Which is the more likely: that elections in Connecticut will be overturned by guys in white hoods, or that Democratic voters in the 1st District, realizing that a Democratic President has disgraced himself by paying a bride in convertible cash to the enemies of “the Great Satan” – that’s us – will shake off their usual political habits and cast their votes in less than a week for Matthew Corey, Mr. Larson’s Republican opponent?

Actually, both are equally improbable. And that is what is wrong with our politics. It is a sclerotic system – Mr. Trump, the hyperbolist, calls it a “fixed” system – that allows for little change precisely at those moments in our history when the American public is screaming for change. Term limits would address this problem and lead to a reinvigoration of small “d” democratic government, but neither the media, comfortable with the politicians it reflexively endorses both in its editorial and news pages, nor the politicians so favored want democracy, which is unafraid to disturb the political universe.

And so, instead of democracy,  we get the KKK marching on the Capitol building in Hartford, their burning crosses alight in the dark night, and Congressman Larson standing before them, risking all and protecting ballot boxes with his fearless body.       
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