An Untimely Obsession
By Rod Van Mechelen
While the American media obsesses over Loose Lips Lewinsky and the president's sexual peccadilloes, an imminent global crisis demands our immediate attention.
More important things
1998 Bellevue, Wash. - Long time readers of The Backlash! know I have directed more than a little criticism toward both President Clinton and the pop feminists who, despite clear evidence he personifies many of the traits they viciously vilify in men less useful to their cause, have pragmatically defended their man. So, many of you might expect me to be delighted by the news of these past few months. But I'm not.
Though the court gave Paula short shrift, Ken Starr latched onto Linda's recordings of Monica and leveraged them into the Grand Jury appearances that finally forced an admission of sorts out of President Clinton.
Throughout this drama, the new rage women waffled, ducked and dodged their way beyond any semblance of credibility they may have once enjoyed. From the National Organization for Women and the grand dames of the movement, to the young "power feminists," their demonstration of a double standard has made them a national laughing stock.
N.O.W. less than ever
In March, after Kathleen Willey accused Clinton of fondling her breast and placing her hand on his genitals, Anita Hill, who gained notoriety when she accused Clarence Thomas of telling raunchy jokes, threw credibility to the wind when she put pragmatic politics ahead of principle to defend the president:
I think it is a reality that we have to deal with. We live in a political world, and the reality is that there are larger issues other than individual behavior. - The Seattle Times, March 23, 1998
Then, in April, Gloria Steinem invited a flurry of criticism with her vacuous dismissal of Clinton's critics: "The truth of the matter is that (Clinton's) behavior toward women is considerably better than any president I know of - at least as far as we know." - The Seattle Times, April 17, 1998
Stunned, perhaps, by these and other staggering blows to their credibility, the bigoted biddies at Ms Magazine stew in electronic silence. At this writing (August 20, 1998), the most recent update to their website provides outdated information from April 23, 1998, on how to participate in their sexist celebration, "Take Our Daughters to Work Day."
Deafening though it might be, their silence may prove a sanctuary as the more strident among them have, with increasing regularity, demonstrated how morally and intellectually bankrupt they really are. In July, for example, former TIME magazine White House correspondent Nina Burleigh made the inane assertion she "would be happy to give (President Clinton) a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal." - Media Research, July 16, 1998
While the nation snickered, Ken Starr's investigation moved forward. Shielded by a grant of immunity, Loose Lips Lewinsky emerged from her crowded seclusion. Beneath the banner of a semen stained skirt, she confirmed what most of us already knew, the allegations of her former friend were true: she had run her flag up the presidential pole.
With few options, President Clinton decided to deface the nation with a "ah have sinned now get over it" confession that would have mortified a TV evangelist caught in the act of humping a half price hooker.
Predictably, this has precipitated a feeding frenzy (one is tempted to call it an orgy) among the worldly wags of Washington, DC. On CNN, famous faces scowl at the damage this has done to the presidential office and solemnly discuss what Ken Starr, not to mention President Clinton, ought to do next. (Though no one mentioned firing cruise missiles at targets in Afghanistan or Sudan, only a few doubting Thomases felt he gave the order as a diversionary tactic - even House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the president "did the right thing.")
Meanwhile, NOW president Patricia Ireland has issued a statement in which she persists in their policy of waffling over behavior that, had it involved any other man, would have invited instant immolation, but for their boy, invoked little more than an uncomfortable shrug:
Consensual sex with a White House intern is an abuse of power by the president; but consensual sex is not illegal harassment and it is not an impeachable offense. Nor is it in the best interest of our country for the president to resign. ... Women voters elected Clinton, and the majority of women still approve of his performance in office, apparently judging him as a president whose strengths outweigh his flaws. - Statement of NOW President Patricia Ireland in response to reports of Clinton Testimony, August 17, 1998
Lame, to say the least.
Cause for celebration?
All this exposure, combined with the now unavoidable national awareness of how devoid of merit the pop feminist platform is, has led many in both the US and Canada to speculate that feminism is dead. Even TIME magazine has questioned it. (TIME, June 29, 1998).
Is it true? Can we at long last break out the champagne and celebrate the demise of one of America's most pernicious and prejudicial social movements? A quick inventory indicates otherwise:
Even such a cursory glance shows little cause for celebration. We cannot find publishers for our books because the feminists in the publishing industry perceive no market for them. VAWA and VAWA II, while written in essentially gender neutral language still assume virtually all inter gender violence is directed by men against women, the growing body of evidence to the contrary not withstanding. And if the fact most of the prison population is comprised of black men is evidence of racism, then surely it should follow that as most are men it is also evidence of sexism.
- Eighty-five percent of the decision makers in the book publishing industry are women, most of who consider themselves feminists. (Bitch, Vol. 3, No. 1)
- VAWA II
- While the male population in prison is swelling, women continue to receive lighter or no sentences for comparable or worse crimes.
Still, progress is progress. The leaders of our self-selected opposition have suffered tremendous self-inflicted setbacks, and this is good news. So why am I not thrilled? Because when you read past the headlines on the front page, most of the news is bad.
While the president's libido and the media have conspired to diminish the credibility, power and effectiveness of the office, economic storms from abroad are about to slam past America's shores with gale force winds only months before a quake of empire crumbling magnitude erupts from deep within the American bedrock.
Setting aside any discussion of the merits of a strong versus weak central government, the last thing we need right now is to create a presidency respected by none and followed by few. Instead, we must get our priorities straight. Too much of our nation's future is at stake.
Before the bug bites
Until a few years ago, the computer software problem, known as the "millennium bug" or, more precisely, the Y2K compliance problem, was of concern to only a very few. Now, thanks largely to the efforts of Peter de Jager, businesses of all sizes, and government agencies are scrambling to update computer programs so they will not crash at the turn of the century.
Will they be ready in time? No, because the problem will begin showing up in less than five months (see Whose Problem Is 2000?), causing the first tremors of the computer generated quake to come January 1, 2000.
Imminent though this crisis is, more mundane matters already threaten from abroad:
GLOBAL MELTDOWN: The yen tumbled to an eight-year low in Tokyo Aug. 11, setting an example for currencies across Asia and for stock markets around the globe. - Weekly News Roundup, The Japan Times , August 8-14, 1998
Although the Japanese markets have stabilized somewhat since then, the yen remains vulnerable to instability in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Russia, Mexico and elsewhere. It won't take much to touch off a global panic:
While the global effects of the crisis appear to have been contained to date, the recession in Japan and the weakness of the yen have introduced some new uncertainties. - The IMF's Response to the Asian Crisis, July 27, 1998
Several economies throughout Europe and Asia are in recession. Some are on the brink of depression, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has already committed billions in financial support, is preparing to commit billions more. Billions guaranteed and subsidized primarily by the US; that is, American taxpayers.
During the past several months, the IMF provided direct financing of US$36.3 billion to Indonesia, Korea and Thailand, arranged for US$82 billion of additional financing, finalized "restructuring agreements concerning US$22 billion of short-term debt of Korean banks" in March 1998, and more in Indonesia. (The IMF's Response to the Asian Crisis , July 27, 1998)
If these efforts prove inadequate, which seems almost certain, we will be called upon to commit even more money: "Throughout Asia, the crisis has focused enormous attention on the role of the United States as the only country (emphasis added) with the resources and clout to calm markets and help nations crawl out of their hole." (Washington Post Foreign Service, August 16, 1998)
Atlas or America?
Once again, world leaders look to America to play Atlas and carry the economic recovery of other nations on our shoulders. Intending only the highest respect for their hardworking citizens, can we afford this? At a time when multinational corporations are leaving the taxpaying American middle-class stranded on islands of earnings eroded by imports manufactured by cheap labor in the very nations we are expected to help, we cannot.
Before January of next year we will be grappling with problems far greater than the president's unpresidential affairs. One of them is Russia. Just last month, on July 20, 1998, the IMF approved $11.2 billion in support to strengthen Russia's economic program. It did no good:
Last week, (prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko) asked the International Monetary Fund to chip in emergency funds on top of the more than $20 billion it pledged last month. The IMF refused. So he seized an alternative: de facto default. - New York Times , August 20, 1998
How serious can this be given that Russia's economy is less than 1/17th the size of our own? The impact of Russia's problems on the world economy are magnified by other countries whose economies are also floundering:
Other emerging markets, such as Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, are vulnerable. With confidence already fragile, further collapse in Russia would have more wide-reaching consequences than its puny economic weight suggests. - The Globe and Mail, August 20, 1998
Some fear an economic meltdown in Russia may precipitate a resurgence of militarism in the region. While possible, Russian militarism would pale along side China, whose "publicly acknowledged defense budget of $10.79 billion cannot possibly pay to house, feed and clothe" their 2.5 million soldiers. (Washington Post Foreign Service, August 19, 1998)
China's economic woes reach far beyond a hungry and underemployed People's Liberation Army, however: losses due to flooding in the Yangtze River basin in central China "are expected to reach $24 billion." (The Associated Press, August 20, 1998)
What about Hong Kong? Can't China rely on revenue from this recently returned economic powerhouse to sustain them through this crisis? Maybe, but Hong Kong is facing a crisis of its own:
Hong Kong, battered by Asia's economic woes, faces further plunges in property prices, higher unemployment and more high-profile bankruptcies in the next few months, an international risk consultancy said on Wednesday. ... "In short, there is not much good news coming out of Hong Kong these days, and the economic difficulties are starting to erode the public's confidence in the government as well," the consulting group's report said. - LateLine Headline News, China, 8/19/98
Among the Americas
Nor is the picture closer to home all that bright, America's low inflation and unemployment rates notwithstanding. To the north, the Canadian dollar continues to slump, driven down both by Quebec's sovereignty issue and the global crisis:
Most analysts attribute the dollar's decline from about 71 cents in early March to a variety of factors -- the Asian crisis, which has driven commodity prices lower, Canadian short-term interest rates that are lower than those in the United States, and a slowdown in the Canadian economy. - The Globe and Mail, August 20, 1998
To the south, more bad news as Mexico confronts a "$62 billion bank bailout" to cover its "botched 1994 peso devaluation" at a time when the country is "reeling from tight credit, deep budget cuts and plummeting oil revenues." (Washington Post Foreign Service, August 7, 1998)
Outside the US, economic instability is the rule:
In Europe, the major stock markets have seen double-digit falls since mid-July record highs. German banks, heavily exposed in Asia and Russia, have been hardest hit. A series of defaults across Asia -- Indonesia is on the brink -- could trigger a banking crisis in Japan and Europe that could cause upheaval in the European Union. - Meltdown of the Global Economy, Patrick J. Buchanan, August 14, 1998
By itself, the global economic crisis poses a serious threat to the American economy. By itself, the millennium bug will wreak significant havoc both in terms of the billions spent to correct it, and the time and money lost due to the system failures it will precipitate. Together, they could prove catastrophic.
We cannot ignore them, they are not going to simply go away. We must act quickly, but with care and deliberation, to confront these threats before the storms from abroad and the quakes from within bring America to its knees.
Only pragmatic ideologues such as Patricia Ireland and Gloria Steinem might hope to ignore the damage President Clinton has done to the office, but we can ill afford to obsess about either his illicit liaisons or the androphobes' blunders. Celebrate later. Now is simply not the time.
The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy, by Patrick J. Buchanan
Managing '00: Surviving the Year 2000 Computing Crisis, by Peter De Jager & Richard Bergeon - Paperback
One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, by William Greider
One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism, by William Greider - Paperback
Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, by William Greider - Paperback
Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy, by William Greider - Paperback
The Coming Economic Earthquake: Revised and Expanded for the Clinton Agenda, by Larry Burkett - Paperback
The Case Against Free Trade: Gatt, Nafta and the Globalization of Corporate Power (An Earth Island Press Book), by Ralph Nader (Editor), William Greider, Margaret Atwood, David Philips, Pat Choate
Y2K; It's Already Too Late, by Jason Kelly - Paperback
Electric Utilities and Y2k, by Rick Cowles, Pam Hystad (Editor) - Paperback
How to Move Your AS/400 Beyond Y2K: The Complete Story, by Julie A. Ransom (Editor) - Paperback
Year 2001; Reaching Y2k Compliance After the Deadline, by Stewart Miller - Paperback
2016 Olympia, Wash. - When I wrote this article, the web was so spartan that The Backlash! was one of the top sites in the world, and less than a week after I posted this, hundreds of mainstream media outlets around the world were repeating my warnings, especially about the Y2K bug. Even the stock markets dipped.
While I made a strong case, none of that had been my intention, and I was horrified by the result.
My primary purpose was to focus attention on more important things than Bill's dalliances and Monica's stained blue dress. It worked too well, but only for a few weeks. Today we have the Kardashians and Caitlyn Jenner.
Most people don't care about big issues. To be fair, they shouldn't have to. Global warming, global starvation, asteroids crashing into earth and the plight of microscopic fish in isolated scum ponds are the province of teen angst. Adults have more pressing problems.
And whether it's video games or football (both kinds) or who's banging whom in the Kardashian clan, these are the distractions that many people choose to occupy their time, and it's their business.
The Y2K bug was done and dealt with before Y2K. Alan Greenspan dealt with the economic troubles of the time by creating a series of bubbles, the most recent of which is about to begin. All we can really hope to do about them is to inform others, prepare ourselves, and make of ourselves shockwave riders.
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.