Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

They Said It:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,

“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

 “A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,

“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

 “But not on us!” the Oysters cried,

Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf–
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

 “It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,

“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872.

 

POST-ELECTION STRESS DISORDER.

If you are like most Americans, you can’t wait for this election to be over.  Next Tuesday can’t get here soon enough.  You’ve had it.  It’s been almost two years, two of the most stressful, angry, uncomfortable years you can remember.

Guess what?  You’re not alone.  If you Google “election stress,” you get 67,000,000 returns in less than a second, with articles from every disparate corner of the media and its internet imitators.  Everyone is ready for this election to over.  The stress is killing us – literally!  Last month, the Washington Post put it this way:

By now it has been well documented that this presidential election cycle has had a particularly negative effect on Americans’ mental health.  As far back as March, before Donald Trump had even locked up the Republican nomination, The Washington Post ran a front-page article about “Trump Anxiety,” quoting psychologists, and even a masseuse, who discussed how frequently their clients brought him up.

In that story, Amanda Long, a massage therapist in Arlington, Va., was quoted as saying, “It stresses me out to listen to it.  I can’t give you a good massage if I’m grabbing your shoulders like Donald Trump’s orange face.”

It has gotten so bad that Steven Stosny, a therapist in suburban Washington, has even characterized what he’s seeing in patients as “Election Stress Disorder.”

The unease seems to be permeating every facet of our lives, from relationships to jobs.  An American Psychological Association survey released Sept. 14 found that about 1 in 4 American workers reported feeling less productive and more stressed at their jobs because of political discussions there.  And these feelings of discontent were consistent regardless of political party affiliation or ideology.

In August, a Washington Post-ABC News poll asked registered voters whether a President Clinton or a President Trump made them anxious.  Just over 50 percent said Clinton made them anxious and 70 percent said Trump did.  Those results are identical to ones from a January poll, when the same question was asked, which shows how long people have been grappling with this anxiety.

And that was a month ago.  Since then, we have written a series of articles explaining why the broad dynamics of our political culture have been changed forever; why Trump may go away, but Trumpism will not; why the battle between the ruling class and the country class will rage on, growing even more violent and bloody.

In the meantime, “election anxiety” has been identified as the source of the volatility in the markets.  We are told that investors are spooked by the unpredictability of the election, by the possibility that more metaphorical shoes will drop, and by myriad unanswered and unanswerable questions.  Will there be more emails released this week by Wikileaks, showing that the Clintons are corrupt?  Will there another tape this Friday demonstrating that Trump is a sexual deviant?  Will Anthony “Say Hello to My Little” Weiner turn state’s evidence and bury his estranged wife and her even estranger boss?  And how will any or all of this affect the election?  Will it tilt the thing to Trump?  Will it hand it the presidency to Hillary?  Will it cause an Electoral College deadlock, with Evan McMullin winning Utah and thus winning the presidency on a historical and unprecedented vote by the House?

The good news is that by midnight next Tuesday it will all be over.  The next few days are going to be very, very stressful and possibly quite extraordinary, for individuals and for the markets.  But after November 8, we will finally be able to relax.  Our cortisol levels can return to normal.  Our Facebook feeds can settle down.  Everything will be back the way it was before, right?  Right?

Well, not really.

You see, those questions and others like then will continue to flow, unanswered and unanswerable.  AND they will remain relevant.  And that means that the stress on individuals and the markets is not going to end next week.  It’s not going to end next month.  Heck, it might not even end next year.   Election Stress Disorder is going to morph, very smoothly, almost unnoticeably, into post-Election Stress Disorder.

In order to explain what we mean here, we will have to approach this in sections, one presuming a Clinton victory, the other a win by Trump.  The sources of the stress will be different in each case, although the ultimate outcome may not be.  And in either case, the next several weeks or months will probably be quite volatile.

As of right now, the polls and the betting markets are still indicating that Hillary Clinton will win the White House next week.  The S&P is predicting the opposite, but we’ll save that story for another day.  In the meantime, let’s presume that Hillary Clinton wins.

The first thing that will happen is that Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters will get angry.  They will insist that the election was rigged, that the media titled it for Hillary, that the establishment pulled out all the stops to make sure that The Donald didn’t get to move in just down Pennsylvania Avenue from his new hotel.  And you know what?  They’ll be right.  Or at least they’ll be right about a great deal of it.  The Trumpers will deny the legitimacy of the new president from day one.

Worse still, they won’t be alone.  Most of the country will welcome President Hillary Clinton – the first woman president and, obviously, the first presidential spouse elected to the office herself – with a giant groan.  She will enter office with the nation divided, with her popularity low by new-president standards, and with most of the country – including a large number of her supporters – wishing that someone else were taking the oath of office.  That’s a pretty unpleasant way to start a presidency, no matter who you are or how hard-fought the victory.

Of course, when we tell you that, we aren’t telling you anything you didn’t already know.  Indeed, the presumption that the new president – whoever it is – will be wildly unpopular from the start is pretty much the conventional wisdom these days.  There will be no celebrations.  There will be no “hope and change.”  There will be no catharsis and excitement for the next stage in our political experience.  And everyone already knows this.

What everyone doesn’t know, or hasn’t yet acknowledged, is the fact that her unpopularity will be the least of President Hillary Clinton’s problems.  From the very moment she settles into Bill’s old chair in the Oval Office, her presidency will be either engaged in or on the verge of a constitutional crisis.  She’ll never have a chance.  Nor should she.

For months now, the fear among conservatives has been that if Hillary gets in, she will sweep everything under the rug, or more accurately, her Attorney General will do it for her.  And at one point, they might have been right.  But it won’t happen now.  The horse is out, too late to close the barn door.  No Attorney General or FBI director could stop this thing now.

There has also been belief among Hillary supporters, the mainstream media, and the permanent bureaucracy, that Wikileaks will stop attacking her if she wins because there will be no point in it anymore.  Putin wanted Trump.  He didn’t get it.  So he will have to deal with Hillary.  Might be worthwhile blackmailing her, but no need to keep picking on her in public.

This is nuts.  Anyone who believes that Wikileaks is going to exhaust its supply of Hillary-related email before the election, or that they will cut her some slack if she wins, is suffering from something more serious than election stress syndrome.  Wiki has released literally tens of thousands of emails to and from Clinton confidants, but nothing from Hillary.  Does anyone we really believe that they don’t have any Hillary emails?  Does anyone think that after all the hype and all the bluster that John Podesta and his crazy pasta recipes are the best/worst that that Wiki can do?  We, to name two, don’t believe it, and we don’t think you should either.  And in any case, it’s unlikely the leaks will stop after the election.  Why should they?  Who’s going to stop them?

Let’s go back to Putin for just a moment.  Everyone knows that the Russians are planning to “test” the new president next January, be it Trump or Clinton.  The Russians are making noise in the Baltics.  They’re strengthening their grip on Ukraine.  They’ve won in Syria and are now intending to humiliate the losers, including the United States.  They recently unveiled a new, treaty-violating ground-launched cruise missile.  The Russians are preparing to reassert themselves, in short, likely on January 21, 2017.

Now, put yourself in Putin’s shoes.  You want to reaffirm you global relevance and you want to humiliate the new American president.  Moreover, you have the emails sent by said president when she was Secretary of State and which she claims are totally innocent, totally personal, totally not classified, and totally gone forever.  What do you do?  Do you make an ass of her, place her in legal jeopardy, and undermine her standing among an already dubious electorate first?  Do you weaken her even further before you make your move?  Or do you just go ahead with your plans, forgetting about the emails since the election is over?

Obviously, to ask the question is to answer it.

In addition to the Wikileaks business, of course, there is now the matter of the 650,000 emails on the laptop shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, the erstwhile Carlos Danger.  Think about that number for a moment – 650,000.  That’s a whooooole bunch of emails.  Indeed, if Anthony’s Weiner was emailed out to adoring fans every minute, it would take more than 41 days to send 650,000 pics.  That large a treasure trove of data doesn’t end up on a computer by accident.  And more to the point, it doesn’t get examined overnight.  Examining all of these emails will take some time, especially since, as Dilbert creator Scott Adams has noted, all of the examinations will be conducted with a ten-foot pole.

When will we find out about these emails?  Heaven only knows.  But we expect that they will be made public – either by design or by leaks – in drips and drabs over the next several weeks and months.  President Clinton could be nearing the end of her magical First 100 Days, when the nation learns that she sent classified information to her best friend’s pervy husband because she couldn’t remember any other email addresses.  And if you think we’re exaggerating, you should read some of the Wikileaks emails, many of which show a would-be president who is hopelessly confused by technology, often bewildered by her daily schedule, and physically and mentally exhausted by simple tasks.

The general consensus among Washington insiders is that the 650,000 emails will contain no “smoking gun,” nothing that will prove any more damaging to Clinton than what we already know about her.  And this may well prove to be the case.  After all, what more could we learn about her that we haven’t in the last 30 years?  She is who she is.

At the same time, it’s possible that the conventional wisdom is wrong here yet again.  In Washington, it often is.

How did ALL of those emails get to that computer?  What were they doing there?  Did someone send them there to be stored?  And if so, who?  Were they sent there to be printed at a later date?  And again, if so, by whom?

Now, we know that we’ll be accused of being conspiratorial and unfair for mentioning this, but especially with respect to the latter scenario, it worth asking “Who is Huma Abedin?”  Fortunately for us, Andy McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor who put away the first World Trade Center bombers, both asked and answered that question the last time that Ms. Abedin’s husband made news.  Writing at National Review Online on July 24, 2013, McCarthy put it this way:

To recap, Ms. Abedin worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic-supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al-Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef ran the Rabita Trust, a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under American law.  Ms. Abedin and Naseef overlapped at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) for at least seven years.  Throughout that time (1996–2003), Ms. Abdein worked for Hillary Clinton in various capacities.  Ms. Abedin’s late father, Dr. Zyed Abedin, was recruited by Naseef to run the JMMA in Saudi Arabia.  The journal was operated under the management of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a virulently anti-Semitic and sharia-supremacist organization.  When Dr. Abedin died, editorial control of the journal passed to his wife, Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin — Huma’s mother.

Saleha Abedin is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and to supporters of violent jihad.  Among other things, she directs an organization – the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child.  The IICWC, through its parent entity (the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief), is a component of the Union for Good (also known as the Union of Good), another formally designated terrorist organization.  The Union for Good is led by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of American military and support personnel in Iraq as well as suicide bombings in Israel. . .

Like Sheikh Qaradawi, who helped write the charter for the IICWC, Saleha Abedin is an influential sharia activist who has, for example, published a book called Women in Islam that claims man-made laws enslave women. . .

Back to daughter Huma.  In the late mid to late Nineties, while she was an intern at the Clinton White House and an assistant editor at JMMA, Ms. Abedin was a member of the executive board of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at George Washington University, heading its “Social Committee.”  The MSA, which has a vast network of chapters at universities across North America, is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure in the United States.

Does this mean that Huma Abedin is a mole for the Muslim Brotherhood?  We don’t know.  Does it mean that she leaked the emails to unsavory types who have vowed to kill Americans wherever they are?  We don’t know.  Does it mean that Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband might have saved all his wife’s emails on the off chance he might ever need them; if, for example, she left him and took their kid because of his cyber-cheating, even as her boss stuck with her husband through actual cheating?  We don’t know.   Does he intend to use the content of these emails, their origin, and their purpose to keep from being sent to prison as a pedophilic perv, one of the most hated categories of prisoners?   Again, we don’t know.  But then, no one to date has posited a rational explanation for why those emails are on the computer.  More to the point, if we are going to be prepared for all possible eventualities, then we have at least to consider all possible eventualities.  And until we learn more, these scenarios all fall into the realm of possible, if unlikely, eventualities.

Finally, we know that there is some conflict in the Justice Department and in the FBI about the Clinton Foundation, Bill and Hillary’s allegedly “charitable” organization.  As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the Justice Department has been reluctant to allow FBI investigators to pursue an inquiry into the Clinton Foundation, even though the Foundation and its chicanery are tangentially related to the email investigation concluded in July but restarted last week.  “New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigation of the Clinton Foundation,” the Journal noted, and “according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case.”

The problem here is that the FBI will likely have its hand forced in the matter by Wikileaks, which has released its own cache of emails from and about the Foundation.  Unsurprisingly, the Wikileaks emails are pretty damning, painting a clear-cut picture of pay-for-play, quid-pro-quo activities involving Bill, Hillary, the Foundation, and the State Department.  Once again, the inimitable former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy provides the details:

Mrs. Clinton appears to have converted the office of secretary of state into a racketeering enterprise.  This would be a violation of the RICO law — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1971 (codified in the U.S. penal code at sections 1961 et seq.).

Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, operated the Clinton Foundation.  Ostensibly a charity, the foundation was a de facto fraud scheme to monetize Hillary’s power as secretary of state (among other aspects of the Clintons’ political influence).  The scheme involved (a) the exchange of political favors, access, and influence for millions of dollars in donations; (b) the circumvention of campaign-finance laws that prohibit political donations by foreign sources; (c) a vehicle for Mrs. Clinton to shield her State Department e-mail communications from public and congressional scrutiny while she and her husband exploited the fundraising potential of her position; and (d) a means for Clinton insiders to receive private-sector compensation and explore lucrative employment opportunities while drawing taxpayer-funded government salaries.

While the foundation did perform some charitable work, this camouflaged the fact that contributions were substantially diverted to pay lavish salaries and underwrite luxury travel for Clinton insiders.  Contributions skyrocketed to $126 million in 2009, the year Mrs. Clinton arrived at Foggy Bottom.  Breathtaking sums were “donated” by high-rollers and foreign governments that had crucial business before the State Department.  Along with those staggering donations came a spike in speaking opportunities and fees for Bill Clinton. . . .

The WikiLeaks disclosures of e-mails hacked from Clinton presidential-campaign chairman John Podesta provide mounting confirmation that the Clinton Foundation was orchestrated for the purpose of enriching the Clintons personally and leveraging then-Secretary Clinton’s power to do it.  Hillary and her underlings pulled this off by making access to her contingent on Clinton Foundation ties; by having top staff service Clinton Foundation donors and work on Clinton Foundation business; by systematically conducting her e-mail communications outside the government server system; by making false statements to the public, the White House, Congress, the courts, and the FBI; and by destroying thousands of e-mails — despite congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act demands — in order to cover up (among other things) the shocking interplay between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

It should go without saying, we suppose, that NONE of this is going to go away if Hillary wins next week.  Some people – including the Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins – think that President Obama just might be foolish and reckless enough to pardon his successor preemptively, before he leaves office.  Obama could do that, no question.  But even if he did, even if he took that risk to his legacy, his actions would only solve the Clintons’ criminal legal woes.  They wouldn’t stop – and would, in reality, likely encourage – Congressional investigations and actions, perhaps leading to impeachment of President Clinton.  Again.

Whatever the case, Hillary Clinton will enter the White House under a cloud and under investigation – by several entities.  These investigations WILL prove to be distractions and WILL lead to what can only be called a constitutional crisis.  The election next week will not save us from the Clintons being the Clintons.

At the same time, we should also note that the election – should it swing the other way – will also not save us from Donald Trump being Donald Trump.  Above, we suggested that the risks posed by a Trump presidency are not the same as those posed by a Clinton presidency.  Whereas the Clintons promise a constitutional crisis, Trump likely promises something less spectacular, but nonetheless unsettling and unsettled, namely a crisis (or crisEs) of policy.

That’s not to say that Trump will never, ever precipitate a constitutional crisis.  He could.  Indeed, like Clinton, he could, in theory, do so from Day One.  According to USA Today, Donald Trump or the Trump businesses are still the defendant in at least 75 lawsuits throughout the country, any one of which might provide information that could doom a Trump presidency from the start.  Moreover, if the Democrats win the Senate, they will have at least two years to investigate any and all charges against Trump, creating at least some constitutional uncertainty.

For our money, though, the biggest risk from comes from his unpredictability.  No one knows if Trump really understands the huge secondary and tertiary effects that flow naturally from all presidential decisions.  As a candidate, he’s been able to say what he wants and get away with it, in large part because the establishment thinks he’ll never have the power to do anything.  As president, however, he’ll have to be more careful.  He’ll have to get some sense of his own power and learn that he can and will do very real and serious damage if he isn’t careful.  Right now, we worry that he’ll take office and be a little like Lennie from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.  Trump will look up at us sadly.  “‘They was so little,’he said apologetically. ‘I’d pet ‘em, and pretty soon they bit my fingers and I pinched their heads a little and then they was dead—because they was so little. I wish’t we’d get the rabbits pretty soon, George. They ain’t so little.’”

Now, if Lennie listens to George, if he listens to economic advisers like our old friend Steve Moore, then happy days will be here again and Curley’s wife will make it out alive.  If, on the other hand he gets annoyed at the biting and pinches some heads, then we’ll all be in serious trouble.  They don’t call the President of the United States the “most powerful man on earth” for nothing.  He has real powers and can do real damage.

Indeed, if Trump wants to do something to show his supporters that he’s serious, he could withdraw the country from NAFTA unilaterally, as long as he gives six months written notice.  Likewise, he could slap tariffs on various foreign products, including, as he’s threatened, steel.  And as anyone who knows anything about steel production will tell you, such tariffs would do nothing to bring jobs back to Allentown, and they would only serve to rile the proverbial waters and make both friends and adversaries nervous and resentful.

One last thought on Trump before closing:  if you read any commentary about what the post-election period will be like, you will likely only read about how horrible and nasty the Republicans will be.  They will “delegitimize” a Clinton presidency from the start, with investigations, innuendo, and obstruction.  Heck, even we mention that briefly above.

What no one talks about, however, is what the Democrats will do – or have already done – to delegitimize a Trump presidency.  More to the point, no one talks about the effects that the Democrats’ efforts will have on the country.

As you well know, we have taken a keen interest this election cycle in the thoughts of Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert and who has provided some of the most interesting and off-the-wall commentary on the election and the electorate this cycle.  Back in June, Adams “endorsed” Hillary Clinton in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.  But he did so to make a serious point about Trump and about Left’s rhetoric.  To wit:

Once you define Trump as Hitler, you also give citizens moral permission to kill him. . .

If Clinton successfully pairs Trump with Hitler in your mind – as she is doing – and loses anyway, about a quarter of the country will think it is morally justified to assassinate their own leader.  I too would feel that way if an actual Hitler came to power in this country.  I would join the resistance and try to take out the Hitler-like leader.  You should do the same.  No one wants an actual President Hitler.

For his trouble, Adams was swiftly dismissed by those who “know better,” which is to say the mainstream press and the establishment political commentariat.  He’s out-of-bounds, they say.  He’s not just exaggerating, he’s delusional.  Well . . . maybe.  Nevertheless, many in that same mainstream press have helped make the comparison between Trump and Hitler – over and over and over.  If Trump wins next week, Adams’ theory will be put to the test, not necessarily in an assassination attempt, but in a vicious hatred that could have a lasting impact on the nation’s social peace over the next four years at least.

Now, we know the above thought is anything but comforting.  We know, moreover, that most of our thoughts these days are anything but comforting.  But that’s the world we leave in now, gentle readers.  It is especially, perhaps even uniquely, unsettled.  And it will continue to be so long after next week’s election.

Keep this mind before you pop the champagne to celebrate a Hillary win, a Trump win, or even just the end of the whole damn thing.  Any celebration will likely be premature.

Copyright 2016. The Political Forum. 3350 Longview Ct., Lincoln NE  68506, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.