Posted by: JDM..... | June 10, 2016

On failing brilliantly…

……and the would-be emperor’s new clothes


Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich popped off a public letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders the other day.

In response to Reich’s A-Cappella (no violins) letter to his “friend” Sen. Bernie Sanders to prop him up with a few “atta-boys”, I would like to offer, not cynicism, as anticipated by Reich, but a bit of realism. Couldn’t hurt.

While I appreciate that each of us has an opinion, and that which ones are valid depends upon whom one asks, I don’t ask that anyone accept mine unless, after having read it and thought about it, they happen to agree with parts of it. And so, my opinion follows.

***

I thought Robert Reich was full of crap when he had a certain amount of secondary relevance from working with a few Presidential administrations, although neither the Ford nor the Carter visitation was exactly stellar, and Clinton’s was marked by scandal, so it doesn’t surprise me that he enjoys being Bernie Sanders’ shoe-shine boy.

Reich’s letter was certainly in character, as I recall his earlier oratory, and he still seems to be marching to the beat, in the economic sense, of self-described albeit other-funded artists reaping lucrative grants to sculpt religious icons out of fecal matter, etcetera. I’m not saying such a message isn’t clever, …heck… it may even bear an element of truth, but efforts like that should be do-it-yourself projects from start to finish.

Anyway, Reich started off by acknowledging Bernie’s numbers didn’t carry the day, but then clarified any potential or heretofore unnoticed nuance by putting lipstick on the loss, redefining it as having been brilliantly executed, and having accomplished just so golly gee whiz much. (Vintage Reich). He continued, delivering a dripping “atta-boy” to Bernie for having thusly written on the bathroom wall of the disaffected “without SuperPACs or big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires. ” The subtlety of demonizing, or at least discounting the humanity of anyone boasting more than a Walmart lay-away account, was not lost on me. Also not lost on me was Sander’s “in your face” intention to tax the hell out of those same Untouchables in order to fund his Pie in Somebody Else’s Sky visions for the future of America.

I must be cautious when teetering on the precipice of criticizing another man’s past, my own having more than a few “redacted” pages and “Oh, God” moments itself, but then, I don’t claim otherwise, and I’m not running for President. I’m no financial wizard or success story either, but then, I’m not claiming to know the magic words for turning the United States into something out of Peter Pan. I only took one college level Economics course, and I seriously disliked it. In spite of that, I learned enough to understand that building a healthy, sustainable economy does not mean taking other people’s money away from them and doing some “really neat stuff” with it according to one’s own estimation.


Reich segued from his opening schmooze to note that Bernie had won his faux-gold medal in spite of being “a 74-year-old, political Independent, Jewish, self-described democratic socialist…

Alright, this thing’s got flies on it already and the sun isn’t even up yet. Again, vintage Reich.

Okay, Point One:

I – “Age 74.”

First of all, how is being 74 a default handicap, unless one expects to do a mid-term move to the sunless side of the lawn. We have two living former Presidents old enough to be Bernie’s father. (Barely, but it’s there.) Besides, like I tell my 34 year old step-son, “in your thirties, you may have knowledge, but it’s in your seventies that you know how to use it.”

Yeah, I know….He doesn’t buy that one, either.

II – “ Political Independent”

In these times, Independence would normally be considered an asset, philosophically and politically, other than for a certain innate impotence that tends to come with swimming against the tide. Sanders took care of that handicap by strapping on the requisite accoutrements for getting his Democratic Party Pledge Pin. The bottom line is though, Bob, he can’t legitimately use that one on his resume.

III – “Jewish”

Of course. How can one get anywhere these days without a “card” of some sort? Proving membership in a population, ethnicity, or culture, that currently is, or whose ancestors were at some period in the past, certifiably “marginalized”, is a socio-political asset in some circles. Heck, I used to get tripped in the halls and find weird shit in my locker in junior High school because I was skinny and didn’t shave until after I had to register for the draft. Why didn’t I get free college and a boat? Or at least a card? It’s called the “WASP” Syndrome ….(White Anglo Saxon Protestant). I couldn’t get elected to cross the street and pick up my mail on those credentials. The fact is, NO such “credentials” should have more than yawn value. Ever. When it is discovered that something being done is causing harm to someone, the proper response is to stop doing it. Being a victim is a terrible thing, but perhaps the greatest harm that can be done to a person is to damage his or her spirit by turning the misfortune into an identity and a career track. Acknowledge the harmful cause and effect; eliminate the causative factor; move on.

IV – “self-described democratic socialist”

Alright, I understand why this one is held out as a handicap. Running for President as a socialist is nothing new, of course, but it is sort of right there in the “nice try, pal,” department with a coke dealer applying for a job as Director of the DEA. I mean, last time I checked, we were still having kids cut out construction paper turkeys and stuff like that so they can learn all about the tough individualism, independence, and ingenuity that built this place. While the people have always pulled together, especially during difficult times, I don’t think we’ve ever collectively been willing to lay down our lives so we could exist as a “hive” or emulate the BORG of Star Trek notoriety.

V – “Then you won 22 states.”

This is a sad kudo, actually. I mean, a lot of people my age are in nursing homes, poor things, and I feel badly for their circumstances. Being able to outrun them in a local Marathon (assuming I could) wouldn’t be much to brag about, though, and I can’t imagine anybody holding a ticker-tape parade for me should I actually lose…well, maybe one person… In any event, this is just another one right out of the “every kid gets a trophy” play book.

The eyebrow raiser for me, however, is not that Sen. Sanders stirred up as much attention as he did, but that we are living in a social-economic-political environment where he could. Also, while Reich may read it all as proof-positive just how wonderful The Bern is, and amps up the old Kazoo accordingly, I see it more as an indicator of just how leaderless our country has been for much too long, how incredibly angry people are, and how hungry they are for CHANGE… anything….as long as it is different.

So, I have to say, Mr. Reich, that you get the Great Raspberry for your unctuous Ode to the Socialist Bern, but then, both the raspberry and the ode format are old hat for you, aren’t they?

The selling points of the Senator’s campaign, and the schemes you wax all goosey over…

      single-payer healthcare

      free tuition at public universities

      $15 minimum wage

      busting up the biggest Wall Street banks

      taxing the financial speculation

 …are all completely dependent on the use of force. None of them is the result of free exchange. None is the reward for creating or producing anything unique or original oneself.

I must say, with a net worth estimated at more than $4 million, a salary 36% greater than that of the average CEO, and a going rate of $40K for a one hour speech, you are an odd one to be hate-talking the rich and blowing in Sanders’ ear.

Sanders is not so much of an enigma in this regard, from what I have read. He putzed around for most of his “productive” years until he could wriggle into a Senate seat and pull down some serious bucks, and where his name plate proudly reads “I don’t have as much money as you”. His resentment of the driven, the successful, and the wealthy is an honest expression of his having spent his life having to look up at people who were too busy to look down at him. And this guy thinks he can lead a nation?

Mr. Reich, in spite of your specious lauding, Senator Sanders lost, and therefore was the loser. Those who borrowed a quarter of a million dollars to spend eight years getting a four year degree in Origami might appear to love him; and those who want to do the same on somebody else’s dime sing his praises too. Similarly, those who stand to make dandy living, with benefits, for doling out his Free Lunch, or serving as salaried Knee Breakers to “secure” the requisite finances for same claim to be fond of him as well. But, these aren’t winners, Mr. Reich. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Even yours.

 

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