Friday, February 19, 2016

Why Democrats Must Rally Around Hillary Clinton: The Truth

The honesty issue in this Democratic race is fascinating to me. One has to ask, which candidate is actually being more honest in responding to questions about telling the truth? The candidate who suggests he will never tell a lie? Or the candidate who says plainly she always tries to tell the truth?

The truth is, of course, the President of the United States cannot and should not be entirely forthcoming with the American people on every issue in real time. What would that look like?

Something like this:

  • "Well, those lost manufacturing jobs are gone forever, and it will take a few generations struggling to get by before our economy can shift away from a manufacturing base and build something new that includes middle class workers. It really sucks that your generation, rather randomly, is one of them. We'll do what we can, but it's going to be hard. These processes take time."
  • "Terrorism isn't our biggest threat to safety. Gun ownership is. But that doesn't mean terrorists won't pull a few attacks off. In fact, it's not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN. And we won't always be able to stop it, to keep you safe. We'll do everything we can, but in a free and open society like this one, it's luck of the draw for us all."
  • "America is enjoying a great run as a global superpower, from about World War I to sometime in the next 75-100 years. Truth Is, we've probably begun the process of a long, slow, gradual decline in influence. No superpower in history, across regions and cultures, has maintained that level of influence forever. There is no example that contradicts that inevitable decline. And the failure of political and economic institutions--and the suffering and cynicism that results--have always been signs that a power is rotting from within."
  • "The transformational demographic changes already underway--with so-called minority groups, as a collective soon to outnumber white Americans--will ultimately make the nation a more just, equitable place. But the dramatic shifts in power, wealth, status and privilege will mean violence (literal and figurative), rooted in fear, anger and anxiety and perpetrated by those about to lose their unearned and unacknowledged privilege. It's ugly out there, and it's only going to get worse for some time. But it's not a NEW ugliness. It's just a group not used to having to deal with ugliness freaking out, throwing a tantrum."
  • "For most of the problems you have in your life, as President of the United States, there's not anything I can do. It's your local and state governments that can address some of the issues, but only about a third of you care to vote, you elect too many incompetents and cowards, and you allow them to build more prisons and enrich their cronies and themselves when you should be demanding they build more schools and hospitals. You despise and worship millionaires at the same time. And there is little evidence that your disengagement and apathy and ignorance are going to change anytime soon. All very sad."

Secretary Clinton is speaking more truth than Senator Sanders on the campaign trail. Why, then, is she performing, thus far, below expectations, while Sanders exceeds them?

Truth doesn't sell. It's not always pretty, and it's not simplistic. You can't boil it down to a stump speech. And as President, speaking truth, in full, in real time, would shake the nation at its core. We can't handle the truth. So we get this campaign, instead.

But we could elect a leader who is smart, dignified, thoughtful, pragmatic and more leader than candidate. Who if not speaking full truth, refuses to lie, to pretend that the truth is simple, clean, easy. Hillary Clinton can help us remain generous, open minded, moving forward through rather tumultuous, challenging times with a calm, steady, experienced hand. And with clear priorities for seizing the opportunities present amid all of the daunting challenges we face...and some of which there will be no way to overcome, at least not to the extent we aspire. Secretary Clinton offers an authentic, genuine, difficult, complex and honest starting point from which we can build on the Obama legacy...while Senator Sanders sells well-timed and effective mantras, oversimplification, populist folksiness, and, in the end, inauthenticity disguised as hope. He might even believe his own rhetoric at this point, about the change he can affect...but that doesn't make it any more plausible.

That's why Hillary must win. And why Democrats must rally around her now. It's about the truth.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Iraq: When Will the Nightmare End?

Iraq is a brutal, brutal mess. According to Wapo's David Ignatius, a pretty reliable, thoughtful guy, our choices are to a) try to create a new "security architecture" that brings moderate Sunnis & Shiites together from across the Mid East to help stabilize Iraq and Syria, or b) keep sending guns and cash to try to stem the extremist tide militarily without committing US troops. The first option may take a few thousand years, and the second seems likely to fail while also turning more against the west...and costing whole a lot more money. The murderous, extremist hordes are now fighting their way to Baghdad using American-made vehicles and weaponry we gave to the Iraqi army during the occupation, while innocent civilians who have already been to hell and back are fleeing their homes for their lives. I cannot imagine how bad life under a lunatic, homicidal dictator like Saddam Hussein was...but something tells me we're not going to be getting a thank you card from the Iraqis anytime soon.

The question on my mind is this: how many decades will the US, Iraq and the world have to pay for the Bush-Cheney Presidency? When will this nightmare end? Sure, Mr. Obama has made mistakes--and Maliki is one of them--but he inherited a house on the brink of total collapse (militarily, economically, politically, structurally) and one honest, hard working guy with a hammer and a few nails can only do so much to keep the walls up. The Iraqi people, the American people, and the thousands of American soldiers who served with honor and valor deserve better. But, sadly, there is no path forward to make that happen.

And, it turns out, there never was.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Promise of EU Must Be Preserved

400,000,000 Europeans will go to the polls in upcoming EU elections, but those politicians, left or right, English MPs, Greek candidates for PM, populist Spanish opposition leaders, or fascist-leaning Italian mayors...those who are pinning the 2008 economic crisis and its aftermath on the EU, those who are urging their countries to pull out of the EU, have lost their minds or are knowingly selling snake-oil for votes. And blaming Angela Merkel, warning of a "German State of Europe," is pathetic, entirely ignorant of what the 20th Century looked like for Europe, with war, genocide, fear, hunger, homelessness, displacement, the destruction of millions of lives, of entire families, of cities, of freedom, justice, and for many, of faith.

A unified Europe isn't perfect, and there is much to work on in collaboration with national and regional governments to maintain quality of life, manage debt, and create economic opportunity for ALL. But the promise of a century of mostly peace, stability, liberty, opportunity, and respect for diverse local customs and traditions--and their preservation within each nation and across national boundaries--is a promise that must be kept alive, for the sake of Europe, and for the world. In the words of our President, Forward, NOT BACK.

Admittedly, it appears someone forgot to tell Mr. Putin about all this. But he's isolated, he stands out as a 20th Century leader in the 21st Century, an unstable, unpredictable, egomaniac. Why? Because of the EU and the peace and stability that's been established, the unity that's been achieved, despite the terrible economic suffering that continues, especially in Southern Europe. 75 years ago, Mr. Putin would've had much company.

And that's not an EU failure; it's an accomplishment.


Interested in European travel? Visit Molto Gentile, Italia, Gio's travel blog, featuring itineraries, tips and essays. For reviews of affordable and available wines, checkout Gio's Wine Notes. For Gio's orginal shows on European destinations and art--and poetry exploring travel as a form of creation--checkout Gio's YouTube channel at For more original poetry and photography, visit The Gio-Sphere.