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GP 19 March 2008: Tipping Points III: The Kitchen Sink Chronicles

Kitchen Sink Politics.  Around March 5, Clinton Campaign insiders promised us they would be throwing everything in the kitchen sink at Senator Obama.  They’ve actually been at it much longer: when things started going south for Senator Clinton in Iowa, her minions hauled scraps out of the garbage disposal.  The ongoing theme is that he is a Black, who will do fearsome things to Americans, though he is so marginal he cannot get elected anyway.  We count nine or so of these unfounded jabs, though we may have missed a few.  This poisonous atmosphere could easily remind one of the rancorous 1990s when matters of State were shunted aside, and unseemly behaviors dominated the news.

Only the religious vitriol has gotten any traction.  First, the Clinton henchmen painted him as a Black Muslim cum Terrorist.  Lately they’ve turned him into a worrisome Christian, a member of a renegade church in Chicago.  Here are just a few of the milder cuts from some of the principals:

  1. Ex-President Clinton Equates Obama Candidacy with Jesse Jackson.
  1. Senator Clinton Happily Announces She’s in Attack Mode.
  1. Geraldine Ferraro’s “I am not a Racist” complaint, which followed her assertion that Obama has succeeded mainly because he is a lucky Black.  The Clinton deputies have said Senator Clinton’s surrogates, such as Ferraro and Billy Shaheen, are not acting for the campaign. Talk show hosts have accepted this assertion, but serious journalists are more skeptical.

In Defense of Kitchen Sinks.  We are slightly put out that the Clinton Campaign has brought kitchen sinks into such disrepute.  Surely ‘toilet bowl’ would have been more apposite for such Clintonia.  We bring you a couple of delightful kitchen sinks just to let you know that they have been unjustly maligned.  You might want to consider this beauty from Mexico (top right).  Or perhaps these central market sinks from Kuala Lumpur (bottom right). For years we have admired the very innovative plumbing fixtures—particularly for kitchens and the toilet—put forward by the Japanese.  For those wanting to break out of kitchen sinks as usual, we would recommend an investigation of their wares.

Why Is Japan Stuck?  Though the Japanese are light years ahead of us in toilet design, their economy is still dragging.  Their malaise made headlines in the 90s.  Now we are still asking “Why Japan Keeps Failing.”  The Economist, correctly in our eyes, blames governance.  The economy is in gridlock because the old politics of a senile generation has once again seized the reins.  “Japan has abandoned reform.  Blame a political establishment of underwhelming talent and vision, and an almighty constitutional mess.”  Japan’s economy is in the tank because it cannot govern itself.

After the Second World War General MacArthur installed a government and a constitution that gave the Japanese the form if not the substance of democracy.  Essentially it has had one party rule under the LDP.  It can be argued that its failure to mature into a democracy has put the nation in gridlock.

As the American economy craters and our financial system teeters, we can only wonder whether kitchen sink politics will assert itself here, as in Japan, or whether we can find our own Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese prime minister who came to power in 2001, and, for a while, gave Japan some rising sun.  The Japanese suffered for one and one-half decades, largely because of their political impasse.  Japan had a 16-year recession, and seems destined to slide back into it again.

ExpertsProfessor Peter Kindlmann has upgraded our knowledge of experts:

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. - Niels Bohr
An expert is someone who knows the worst mistakes that can be made in his field, and who also knows how to avoid them. - Werner Heisenberg

Passing Fancy.  A recent mailing from Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn appeals to us in a most genteel manner:  “Come for a visit and stay eternally.”  This cemetery truly is first rate and we recommend it to New York City families for picnics.  You will have eloquent and often distinguished company while you are there.  Boss Tweed, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Juan Trippe, Margaret Sanger, Alice Roosevelt, Edward R. Murrow, Samuel Morse, Horace Greeley, DeWitt Clinton, and so many other wondrous people we should have known are buried there.  A lot of creativity is rearing its head in Brooklyn, partially we think because this borough and city has retained its connection to the 19th century.

P.S.  The Economist, which has a simplistic view of the world, also blames India’s retarded growth on government, particularly the bloated civil service.  We suspect it would do well to look more deeply at this still caste-riven society—an unhappy state of affairs British colonial rule only reinforced. Its administrative bloat is driven by its social structure.  One of our Asian clients who does business in 15 Asian countries refers to India as a society built layer upon layer.

P.P.S.  We have several inquiries from ’round the globe about where one should seek shelter amidst the current financial storms.  As this letter suggests, look at the workings of government.  If a nation is paralyzed in its capital, it is sure to be a good place to lose your money.

P.P.P.S.  Kitchen sinks are not all bad.  Another benefit they have bestowed on us is that they uncovered Albert Goldbarth, who had escaped us up to now.  He’s author of The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems: 1972-2007.  From Wichita, he collects lots of stuff, including a fair number of awards.

P.P.P.P.S.  The Fox Network is the most eager trumpet of Senator Clinton’s stream of invective at Obama.  For those wanting the full litany of attacks, that’s the best place to look.

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