Saturday, June 28, 2008
I've been dealing with a lot of real life issues the last two weeks, which hasn't given me much blogging time. Also, there hasn't been a lot to comment on. I know a number of pro-Hillary bloggers have been targeted for shut down by reporting them as spam sites. I don't know whether to feel relieved or insulted that the Obamacans haven't tried that on my blog, but I have already reserved my Wordpress blog, just in case.
Overall, the trend I am seeing is that, with Hillary out of contention, the Blogger Boyz have abruptly noticed The Precious is not what they have claimed him to be or, rather, they are finally having to acknowledge that we HRC supporters were right about the mendacious little bastard all along. Which simply points out that they were more interested in defeating Hillary than in supporting a progressive candidate. What a surprise! Not.
Then there are the fundraising issues dogging Democrats. The DNC is about ready to hold bakesales, Obama is seriously underperforming his targets, and support groups are not getting money by order of The Precious. Polls aren't looking too hot, either.
It's going to be a long summer.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The second example looks carefully at Obama's lie that he was going to use public financing in the general in order to use that "pledge" as a club on Hillary. The Blogger Boyz, naturally, lapped up the high-minded approach of their love object, just as they have on pretty much everything else The Precious has shoveled out of his bullshit bag into their mouths agape with wonder.
Somerby dispenses some judgment of his own. I have cut out the newspaper quotes, though I encourage you to give Bob traffic and read them:
One of my favorite essays ever is Stanley Cavell's magnificent work on King Lear, "The Avoidance of Love". In it, one of his themes was that love, and those virtues that are related to love, such as honor, responsibility, respect, loyalty and honesty, are not things that can be claimed or spoken. They must be demonstrated. They are, to grab some graduate school lingo, performatives, made actual in the doing, and they bear a difficult relationship to language because they are difficult to represent in that way. Declarations of these virtues, most of which either are also political virtues or else have a political correlate, stand in tension with the actions of the one who declares - the act of declaration is an invitation to judge.
JUDGING CORDELIA: Did Obama reverse his previous stand when it comes to public financing of the general election? In our view, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t. (On Sunday, we thought people looked fairly silly when they said he hadn’t reversed.) You have to slice the meat mighty fine to find escape hatches in Obama’s statements about this matter during 2007. We don’t think his change in stance is the end of the world. But for ourselves, we wouldn’t claim that he didn’t reverse on this matter.
In today’s column in the Post, E. J. Dionne states a similar view. (“Obama’s choice has been criticized by reformers such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and even by normally sympathetic editorialists, because his new position contradicts his old one, which was that he would accept public funds...”) But Dionne also says that Obama made “the right call” last week when he eschewed public money. As a general matter, we agree with that too. But we disagree with Dionne’s use of the word “opportunistic:”
“Opportunistic?” Why get so hot and bothered? But for the record: If something like “opportunism” was ever present during this long-running financing drama, it was present during 2007, not in this recent decision.
Presumably, Obama will gain an advantage over McCain by making this decision. But in current discussions of this matter, an earlier fact has rarely been noted; Obama gained an advantage over Clinton during the primaries by taking his previous stand. All during 2007, those “normally sympathetic editorialists” compared Obama favorably to Clinton because he was taking a high-minded stand—and because she wouldn’t follow. Let us stress: This wasn’t a giant part of the coverage, but we think it’s worth noting.
No, this wasn’t a major part of the primary coverage. But the “Goneril and Regan” aspect of this episode was lightly echoed in other areas—in the press corps’ coverage of “no preconditions,” for example, or in the remarkably unbalanced treatment of the driver’s license issue. (Especially at MSNBC, whose working-class, lunch-bucket journalist heroes were devoted to unvarnished truth. By their own admission.)
Lear loved Goneril and Regan best, because they kept telling him things that weren’t true. Cordelia refused to follow suit. How would “editorialists” at the Post have treated Cordelia’s vile stand?
Cordelia was willing to suffer curses and abuse from Lear precisely because she loved him in a way that did not allow her to prostitute that love for gain, exactly in the way that her sisters did. Her love (and thus her integrity) was present in the enactment of it, obeying her father and king's unjust banishment but coming back to try to defend him from the treachery of her sisters, for whom a declaration of love was simply a way to seize power.
The avoidance of love (and it's been a few years since I read the essay), was Lear's downfall. He would not be content with the ordinary expression of this relationship - and the inevitable disappointments of it - avoiding the mundane claims this interaction laid upon him. He purposefully sought what could be counted out in gold, something that he could alienate from himself and thus avoid investing his emotions, and when that transaction was completed, found himself on the losing end of the political power struggle.
Cordelia's love was ordinary, quiet and steady. It did not change to suit the situation, even as she could see the fate that might befall her unless she submitted to her father's imperious demands. Lear was not the only person in the room passing judgment.
I think Bob picked his example very well.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Alone among the political bloggers, he has no wish to be a member of the Village. Every other blogger above a certain visibility level wants to be part of the crowd, associated with a high-profile website, regurgitating the stories of the MSM, featured in celebrity interviews in papers and magazines, and appearing in the talking heads venues of cable, broadcast and radio.
Somerby knows that to have an independent and critical voice about the media you must be independent and unrelentlingly critical of that media. In order to do this, it also means criticizing the enablers of the media, the social and political insiders who hold the cocktail parties, pick up the phones, provide the spin, and, most of all, enforce their narrative of how the world works. The "creative class" on the left has never relinquished the fantasy that somehow the press is on "our" side, secretly harboring fantasies of being the next Woodward and Bernstein. It is all about catching someone in an act of wrong-doing, not about presenting a corrective context to the agendas presented to them. It's all about "gotchas". Their counter-parts on the right have never relinquished those fantasies, either, and they have been strikingly successful at taking over the media while asserting that the media is a hopelessly biased tool of the liberals. The chief difference between these two groups is that the right has used the media to consolidate its hold on power while the left has cheerfully assisted the right in achieving that goal. They both delight in playing "gotcha" with Democratic figures.
His five part (to date) response to Tim Russert's death is an incredible, blistering analysis of this self-serving relationship. While other people (myself included) have focused on Russert himself, either to lionize him or reject him, Bob has taken the occasion to use their own words to expose their solipsistic adulation of their own dishonest culture. The last paragraph of the first post lays it out succinctly:
The guy [Russert] who wrote those books about dads is the same guy who gave those embarrassing answers in that interview with Bill Moyers. (In fairness, we’re inclined to think that Moyers overstated one alleged problem.) Predictably enough, Tim’s colleagues told you about the books; that interview got disappeared—along with the (inevitable) human shortcomings behind it. And no, they didn’t necessarily do that out of respect; it’s what they do in every circumstance. The instinctive refusal to tell you the truth lies at the heart of their culture.
Let's repeat that: The instinctive refusal to tell the truth lies at the heart of their culture.
Read all five of Somerby's posts. They are somewhat repetitive, but they build to his ultimate criticism, which is of the netroots and those who claim to be liberal voices.
- The instinctive refusal to tell you the truth lies at the heart of their culture
- Three pundits staged a rare discussion
- Tim always knew who the phonies were, Brokaw oddly explained
- Put the novels aside!
- This was quite a week for press watchers
The way in which the allegedly oppositional netroots reporters have handed their credibility over to the MSM without a struggle is their unwillingness to tell the truth when it clashes with their desire for how the world should be. Like the MSM, they have picked sides based on a script handed to them by the movement conservatives, and now, when the dust clears, they are left backing someone very like themselves, someone with an instinctual refusal to tell the truth.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
My biggest concern about an Obama administration is that, in the end, he won’t make universal health care a priority. My second biggest concern is that “Unity” means never having to say you’re sorry: that in the name of putting past partisanship behind us, the next administration will sweep the abuses of the past 8 years under the rug, the same way Bill Clinton did in 1993; the result of that decision was that the very same people responsible for Iran-Contra showed up subverting our democracy all over again.(My emphasis) Paul Krugman distills what I have been trying to say for months, which is probably why he is a world renown and internationally respected professor at Princeton and I'm just a cranky blogger in the hinterlands.
Obama’s support for the FISA bill intensifies my second worry. He did say some of the right things, promising to work to get rid of telecom immunity and hold people accountable. But caving on this bill is nonetheless not a good sign.
The problem with Democratic compromises is that they are over things that should never be bargained away, such as privacy, a social safety net, transparent government responsive to the citizenry, and other fundamental principles of liberal democracy.
Compromises are for making choices between acceptable outcomes, but where one may be more to the liking of one party than the other choices. Our rights, such as freedom from unlawful search and seizure, are not on the table.
Friday, June 20, 2008
So the Democratic Congress could not resist sacrificing our 4th Amendment rights on the altar of FISA. Providing immunity for corporations to do the bidding of a corrupt and power mad Republican administration. Other bloggers have focused on the immediate effect of this craven legislation that gives tyrants carte blanche to intercept your communications and its chilling effect on freedom of expression and political opposition. For me, I am looking at the larger political fish being fried, which is the conservative assault upon a right to privacy as such.
The 4th Amendment doesn't quite cover the concept of personal privacy:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
It is closer to property rights, placing physical security in the same bucket as security of personal possessions. Thus, in this way of thinking, the problem is not the government (or another entity) knowing what you have said, but taking possession of the mode of communication - letters, emails, stone tablets, etc. The content of these instruments is not protected. While you are free to say or think whatever you like, a right to free speech, you have no constitutional right to private communication of such thoughts.
The conservative assault on Roe v. Wade has virtually nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with privacy. People of means will always find ways to be rid of an unwanted pregnancy. I believe it was Bob Barr (
someone please correct me corrected) who, during the farcical attempt to impeach the Big Dog, was uncovered as not only having had an affair but also of paying for his mistress wife to have an abortion. The part about Roe that frightens the conservatives is the idea people may do as they wish without having to report to and get the consent of a (paternal) authority, making the intimate fabric of their lives a legitimate object of scrutiny and control.
Before Roe there was Griswold, declaring that birth control was not something subject to state control. The emphasis on reproduction and control of one's body is not an accident in the court battles over privacy. If privacy is the right to be free of intervention in how you conduct your life, and if you already have at least partial property rights in your body, then the wedge to use to undermine privacy - and ultimately related rights such as freedom of speech, worship and property rights - is to target those interactions where bodily integrity is argued to be compromised, most obviously in pregnancy but also in sexual acts, disease control (key in harassment of gays) and general medical procedures. In other words, they try to establish some kind of property right or material interest in your body that is defensible in court.
The invasion of modes of communication can be seen in this light, with the government claiming to have a material interest in communications as such, just as they claim a material interest in the pregnant or homosexual body as such, to legitimize intervention in the content of those communications. The approach is turning it into a property issue in which an external entity has some defined material interest. A Telco owns the transmission medium, an ISP owns the servers, etc.
Objection to universal health care must be examined from this perspective. If everyone, everywhere must be insured, then there is no longer such a need for the insurance and medical companies to know intimate details about you. It means they no longer have a property right in your personal data and thus lose claim on that part of your intimate life. They then lose the right to exchange and sell your data, making money by selling you out.
The same dynamic underlies the infuriating condition of identity information. People should not have to opt out of having their identity (name, sex, age, address, purchasing habits, travel itineraries, etc.) sold to the highest bidder. When identity and health information get combined, the individuals are the losers. You don't even need to posit a fascist government (though that is what movement conservatism aims for) to see how the lack of an explicit right to privacy is used to undermine the efficacy of other civil rights.
Hillary Clinton is a proponent of privacy rights, no doubt in part because of how profoundly her own have been violated over the last several decades, but I would wager even more so because of her life-long work in defense of the most vulnerable people in society. I cannot find the link now, but I know I have read about her support for constitutional amendment to enshrine a citizen's right to privacy. Reproductive rights, which are more than just abortion rights, would finally have a presumption of privacy instead of trying to make certain situations and procedures protected. Marriage would also fall under the protection of privacy. Your health records and your economic transactions would be yours, not the property of corporations. And so forth.
What I want to ask the Obamacans is why should we expect The Precious to defend any of our fundamental personal rights, let alone push for the unequivocal foundation of another, if he is the candidate of the same Democrats who are now flushing our civil rights down the toilet? Obama is the Establishment candidate. He is a member of the club that is failing to defend us now.
Where is his commitment to our right to privacy?
NOTE: A final sentence has been added to the paragraph beginning "Before Roe there was Griswold" to make the argument more clear. Several people have commented and emailed that they were uncertain what I mean in that paragraph.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Fourth Amendment, along with the other amendments to the Constitution that form our Bill of Rights, came into effect on December 15, 1791.
The Framers of our Constitution — and the voters in the states that passed the Bill of Rights — understood how tyranny worked, and they took a dim view of King George breaking into their homes, rummaging through their desks, opening their mail, and reading whatever the Fuck he wanted, whenever the fuck he wanted to, without going to a judge for a warrant, and without having to explain what he expected to find when the warrant was executed. The Framers had already had a bellyful of kings.
The Framers understood tyranny, even though they didn’t have computers in 1791. And if the Framers had computers, it’s plain as day they wouldn’t have wanted King George breaking into their hard disks, rummaging through their desktops, or reading their data—whether the data was email, documents on your hard disk, your telephone calls, your Google searches, or the sites that you surf.
Tyranny is tyranny, no matter the technology.
So it’s simple and crystal clear: The Fourth Amendment means that the government doesn’t get to read your data—to the Framers, “paper” without a warrant.
It’s simple. And anybody who tries to make it complicated is trying to fuck you.
Read the whole thing.
If that is so, then why is the Congressional Black Caucus trying to make Obama put her on the ticket as VP? Why are African American voters more likely to say they want her on the ticket than any other Democratic group? Could it be they know that the accusations of racism were untrue from the start, seeing as millions of Hillary voters saw, that this was a campaign tactic, and are actually perfectly happy to support Hillary?
Gee, do you think this could all have been a bunch of lies that the Clinton hating media was more than happy to babble over and over?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Some counties, such as Kern County, in California refused to allow any weddings to be held rather than allow any gay or lesbian couples to be married.
For years, Peter Storniolo told himself it was just a piece of paper. It didn't mean anything.
That changed Tuesday morning after he traded marriage vows and shared a long embrace with his partner of 19 years, high school teacher Paul Esch, in front of about 30 friends and family members.
“We never thought we needed it, but these last few days thinking about it, it's kind of weird how important it's become,” said Storniolo, 43, a woodworker who lives in Golden Hill. “Nobody can take it away. Nobody can tell us it's not there.”
Scenes of gay couples exchanging vows, rings and kisses across the state marked a watershed moment in the battle for gay equality that many compared to a 1948 state ruling that lifted the ban on interracial marriage.
County's gay marriages go off without a hitch
Earlier in the year, one of my co-workers tried to get me to sign a sheet to get the anti-gay amendment to the state constitution on the June ballot to qualify it for the November ballot. She absolutely believes that gays being able to marry is an infringement of her civil rights. Sadly, the initiative did go through and will be up for a vote in the fall. This is a widespread attitude in California and will bring out the haters in November. It could turn the state red because of an otherwise apathetic electorate.
To keep California blue, the Democratic voices need to be unified and adamant that this right will not be overturned. We need "No" votes to defeat the haters. Who is going to be a strong voice in defense of this right?
Who will defend the civil rights of these couples?
Update: And more fun pictures, courtesy of the LA Times. Plus one of my dear friends is getting married next month!
Monday, June 16, 2008
Rendell, who plans to campaign on Obama's behalf and raise money for him, said tonight's event in Philadelphia is a joint fundraiser for Obama and the cash-strapped Democratic National Committee.
But in a sign of the urgency to raise campaign cash, Rendell said Obama didn't want to reschedule tonight's fundraiser, even though the governor warned him that many Philadelphia donors were headed to the New Jersey shore for the weekend. Rendell said Obama told him: "We don't need the people. We just need the checks."
And there, in a nutshell, is the Obama campaign. The Cash Cow has replaced the Unity Pony. Who needs people when you can just collect checks?
I'm reminded of the height of the housing bubble in California when real estate agents would have basket at an open house where would be buyers would deposit checks in the faint hopes of getting the house. The sight of the competition encouraged bidding wars to see who could hand over more money for a crappy and worthless abode.
How much of the money given to Obama is actually going to end up with the DNC? Not that much, I'll wager. Some people are going to get very wealthy this campaign season.
I saw this phrase in Alan Furst’s new book The Spies of Warsaw; it means “The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived.” A good slogan for the Bush years - but not only in reference to Bush.
I just read Naomi Klein:Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, “Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.”
followed by a rant against Jason Furman.
Look, Obama didn’t pose as a Nation-type progressive, then turn on his allies after the race was won. Throughout the campaign he was slightly less progressive than Hillary Clinton on domestic issues — and more than slightly on health care. If people like Ms. Klein are shocked, shocked that he isn’t the candidate of their fantasies, they have nobody but themselves to blame.
Oh, no, The Precious is just another lying politician, what ever shall we do?
Paul Krugman and the rest of us sane Democrats have been trying to tell you kool-aide swilling fools that Obama was further right than the rest of the Democratic field. Millions of voters tried to show you the error of your addled ways by voting their economic self-interest and choosing the lady with the concrete socio-economic policies. Hundreds of bloggers typed their fingers to the bone explaioning that you were projecting your fantasies onto this cypher, pointing out his economic team is not very progressive, that his major donors are all Wall Street financial people, and that he never met an economic measure favorable to the middle class that he didn't want to compromise on. You got snookered by your own irrational fantasies.
Hope you like kool-aide. Me, I drink Maker's Mark, just like Hillary.
I'm glad Russert is gone, never to return. All I know about this man is what I could observe on TV, and it was revolting. He was one of the people who enabled the hunting of President Clinton, eagerly helped take down Al Gore, and urged our nation into a criminal and unjustifiable war against Iraq.
Based on what we saw first-hand, we would guess that Brother Russert really was the nicest guy in the world.
Sometimes, though, “nicest guys in the world” are the last to challenge conventional wisdom—even when it desperately needs to be challenged, examined, hollered about. In Tim’s case, we think he showed poor judgment in various instances over the years, as we’re all inclined to do. Chris Matthews touched on one possible error in judgment in his comments from Paris on Friday’s Countdown (text below). For once, we think Chris’ lack of impulse control served the public understanding—although he’s getting beaten up for his comment at various spots on the web.
Over the weekend, other members of the mainstream press corps did the thing that comes natural inside their group; they went on the air and told Group Tales, tales which reflected quite wondrously on Tim’s journalistic work—and, of course, by extension, most importantly, on them. Telling the truth is pretty much the last thing that enters these people’s heads. And so, they handed out novelized tales about Tim’s always brilliant work—failing to make the slightest attempt to be balanced, objective or truthful.
For the record, we’re talking about the way they described Tim’s work—not the way they described his decency as a person, a person they loved.
This isn’t really the week for such topics, though Tim’s death—more precisely, the torrent of industry propaganda it unleashed—demands that such topics be discussed. We’ll plan to look at some of those issues next week. In the meantime, we’ll suggest that you ponder a real possibility: The possibility that a guy who showed a fair amount of bad judgment—as we all do—may also have been the nicest guy in the world, just as you’ve seen him described.
Whether he was "a nice guy" doesn't matter to me. What matters is the harm he inflicted upon this nation. Being nice in a private context does not counterbalance the violence he did to the world we have in common.
There is a link in the right hand sidebar (you have to scroll) that leads to a "Contact Anglachel" form. Please use that if you would like a private reply. I don't promise to answer, but I will read your email and I will not publish or distribute your email.
Reminder: I have all comments on moderation. No exceptions. On weekdays, I try to review at lunch time, but may not get to them until after I'm home from work, such as today. Also, I do not publish all comments, so yours may not get shown.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I've been involved in the merger of two good sized US corporations. It's not something that can be done at the drop of a hat. Costs have to be scoped, budgets established, plans made, landlords current and prospective contacted, vendors hired, bills paid, accounts closed in DC and opened in Chicago, equipment purchased, staff relocated, reassigned and/or terminated, letterhead and business cards printed, signage created, phone service changed, and that's just the stuff off the top of my head.
I'm not buying the claim that it was a recent decision, quickly executed. Who knew about the merger and when did they know it what remains to be unearthed. Not a word of this was out in the blogs or in the news before this week thatI am aware of. How did such a major logistical operation remain under wraps?
This casts the repeated insistence that Florida and Michigan not be allowed to change the outcome in a new light. If the DNC had agreed to relocate, but Obama lost the nomination, that would have made for a lot of explaining as to the DNC itself taking sides. It also makes the silence of top party leaders over the brutal treatment of Hillary by the press more explicable - they needed her to lose in order to give their own machinations some cover.
Over the last few months I have tried to express my concerns for what the Obama campaign is doing to the Democratic Party. While I am a dyed in the wool Hillary supporter, my objections to what Dean, Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy, Obama, et. al., are doing to the party are swiftly growing larger than whether or not Hillary was treated fairly in the campaign or even whether she was cheated out of the nomination. We are talking about a hostile takeover of the party.
Update: I've been getting some comments and emails that indicate people are confused about the DNC move. So am I. That's why I'm taking my time thinking about it. My first alert to it came from Riverdaughter's post on the Confluence, Hmmm, this is not a good way to achieve Unity, which references a Politico post on the matter. I've seen a few oblique references in new reports, and oddly enough a few political cartoons talking about the move. I read blog posts, most of which reference RD's post or the Politico post. What I'm trying to do is consider the behavior of DNC actors over the course of the campaign in light of the news that a merger has occurred.
Not everything has been or will be shut down in Washington - that was part of the Politico post. There is still staff in DC and the national phone number still works. There are probably legal reasons as well as organizational ones to maintain a formal headquarters. Referencing the merger I was part of, the original company was sold to an international firm which was in turn sold to an American industry competitor. There are still offices in the original location and at the international location, all the brand names are intact, most consumers have no clue that a merger took place, but the business is now run from the headquarters of the final purchaser.
My point here is that the political operations have been merged with a specific candidate's campaign (See post Representation) and that this merger cannot have been considered, agreed to and implemented in a single week's time. This is something that requires logistics, not to mention money and legal sign-offs. This points to two key issues: first, the party leaders have been intending to do this for some time (how far back is yet to be established), which casts their behavior towards *all* candidates in an uncertain light; second, it means that they have subsumed the party to the political objectives of a particular person who has been shown through his campaigning to be divisive and antagonistic to a significant portion of the party rank-and-file.
Through my writings going back before this campaign, I have repeatedly discussed the role of independent institutions in both creating power and defending people from the abuses of power. The behavior of the DNC in this electoral cycle indicates to me that it is not maintaining the party as an independent operator, which reduces its power. The antagonism shown to life-long Democratic voters, right up to the latest sneer that women should just get back to their knitting if they don't like what is being done, indicates to be that the DNC is not terribly interested in defending its constituents against abuses of power.
This is what concerns me and frankly it is more important than whether Hillary got the nomination, even as it is inextricable from her attempt to win it. Along with writing about institutions, I have been writing on the long time divide in the party. I think we are watching the Stevensonians trying to purge the Jacksonians. This is categorically different than simply trying to finagle votes while not really delivering the goods, which has been the behavior up until now. It's why I talk about Whole Foods Nation, the fantasy of a purified "Left" that has hobbled the party since Stevenson.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I've written before about the Obamacan demand that Democratic money be brought under the Chicago Combine's control, but subsuming the entire DNC to a single candidate's campaign is both horrifying and fascinating, kind of like watching decomposition. As there are more confirmed details, I'll be writing more, but one little gem stood out for me, which is the way the state operations, the ones that promote the downticket candidates, are being rolled up into the Obama operation.
In Mississippi, a candidate won a special congressional election this spring, but had to run at least one ad and do some talking to distance himself from Obama because of the Wright and bitter/cling comments. If Obama controls the purse strings and the operations people, he can probably enforce a demand that down ticket candidates shut their mouths and risk defeat rather than allow them to distance themselves from his questionable background and political behavior. Might he yank money and support from Democrats who backed Hillary, preferring to punish enemies than expand a majority? Will he write off down ticket campaigns, particularly for state and municipal offices, preferring to concentrate the money and the people hours on his own success?
One of the reasons to have an independent party operation, one that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of a particular candidate or faction, is its ability to deliver money and support to lower level, less sexy contests where the shift of a few seats might mean capturing a statehouse or taking over a city council of a large city. The interests of the party have to be wider than any particular candidate, and a diversity of voices prevents tunnel vision or a distorted view of the electoral landscape.
Does a downticket candidate represent the interests of her constituents, or does submission to the political ambitions of The Precious override obligations to the voters?
I am watching events, however. There are a lot of rumors flying about, a great deal of posturing and bloviating going on, but mostly a worried silence.
Fear and resentment dominate this campaign in a way I simply cannot remember happening before. The happy-happy face is a mask over something else entirely. The Stevensonians have received what they believed they wished for.
My political stance remains unchanged; I will not vote for either McCain or Obama in the general, and for much the same reason - they call upon ugly and destructive things in our nation to consolidate their power.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The Precious really has a thing for extremist religious types who don't care much for liberal democratic government is all I can say.
The votes are in and the comments are closed.
55 opinions. 2 think this is just a run-of-the-mill whacko with no actual political affiliation, but in dire need of medication. 2 think it could be a McCain supporter, but are not certain. The 51 remaining voters think this is an Obama troll and cite the general graciousness of McCain supporters towards Hillary voters, the use of texting slang, the repeated use of the word "bitches" (Republicans prefer "cunt" after all), and the references to the campaign, which Obamacans are still obsessed with as they know they haven't actually won it.
"I sure hope you bitches doesn't vote for my Candidate McCain...U represent nothing..u are a bunch of loosers who can't handle the truth. I wonder how many of you have failed marriages uh...failed jobs uh...Us republicans don't want you bitches to corrupt our party. We have values and believes which you all don't have. Hillary was the bitch..she ran a terrible campaign...but as usual bitches stick together..can't handle the truth, then blame someone else...get over yourself. Our country was build on values, but apparently u all don't have any. Stay away from our party you bunch of loosers. " Sent by McCain08
Okay, is this an Obama troll or a delusional McCain supporter? Place your bets in the comments!
The problem is telling the truth.
Which brings us to the current problem—the problem of telling/not telling the truth. Do Broder and Toner believe that Clinton made that statement? Because two major journalists, in the past week, seemed to say that their colleagues have been lying when they make this claim.
First to expound was Richard Cohen, in the June 3 Washington Post. Cohen said this, explaining why he’d hated the Democratic campaign: “I hate that Clinton's observation that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June ran on and on when everyone save some indigenous people in the Brazilian rain forest knew what she meant.” If Cohen is right, then Broder and Toner were simply lying in yesterday’s Times. (Neither scribe lives in Brazil.)
Second up was Michael Kinsley, who didn’t seem to hate the lying at all. On Sunday, he bravely said this in the New York Times, knowing that Kevin and Josh and Duncan and all good pseudo-liberal house-brokens have accepted this evil conduct for years: “[A]t the end, when her own clumsy comment about Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June was willfully misinterpreted to suggest that she was wishing that fate on her opponent, it served her right.” If Kinsley’s implication is right, then Broder and Toner were “willfully misinterpreting” what Clinton had said.
Do you see the problem that develops when people like Kinsley and Cohen start telling the truth about not telling the truth? Cohen said the dissembling was wrong; Kinsley seemed to approve of the lying. But both men are veteran journalists; they have lived for decades at the top of the mainstream press pack. And both men seemed to think it was obvious that people like Broder and Toner are lying—simply lying in your faces—when they write bullsh*t like that.
Were John Broder and Robin Toner lying on Monday? That’s what Cohen and Kinsley seem to believe. Needless to say, housebroken boys on the liberal web will know they mustn’t discuss such matters. But do you see the problem that quickly arises when major journalists start telling the truth about not telling the truth?
Next question: Did journalists really think something was wrong with Bill Clinton’s statement in South Carolina? Or was that just a “willful misrepresentation” too? Do you see the problem that quickly arises when we’re told, by two major scribes, that their colleagues tell you things they don’t believe? When John Judis tells you what he did about his colleagues’ view of Obama?
Housebroken pool boys will know not to speak. Despite their long-standing willful silence, can you see the problem involved here?
A lot of people mistakenly thought my post yesterday was about Obama, but they have misunderstood the point. It is about the so-called left that has forgotten how to tell the truth about politics.
The atrocities, as Bob Somerby keeps pointing out with far greater patience than I could have thought possible, are the lies and the acceptance of them, the excuses made for them and the way in which public figures profit from them.
Blogswarming the few places left that are critical of the campaign and trying to scream and bully the authors into silence does not change the facts. Tying to counter a lie with a lie does not cancel out the first one, it simply reinforces the original need for the facts.
A significant the difficulty the left has when combatting the right is trying to combat the casual lies spread with the voice of certainty by the MSM who get it handed to them on a silver platter by the noise machine. This time around, the left eagerly lapped it up, those claiming to be the most progressive, the most radical, the most hard-core, unwilling to tolerate the bullshit lefties, the first and most eager to get the goods from Drudge.
Does anyone see the political problem when you ally yourself with a media unwilling to tell the truth? And if this media then turns on you with the same methods and brutality it used on your opponent? What happens when the lies that advanced your original cause are exposed as lies and are used to paint you as deceitful and dishonest?
Monday, June 09, 2008
The most radical part of the netroots has been its claim to oppose the media, both the right wing noise machine and the increasingly co-opted mainstream media. The Left was finally gaining the same critical distance from the major media as the Right had adopted years before, and with the advent of the Internet was also able to self-publish their alternative perspectives in a cost effective manner. This had always been a disadvantage vis-à-vis the Right because, until the Web, dissemination of information had been the difficulty. Now, anyone with access to a terminal at a public library and a willingness to experiment with these things called “blogs” could let their opinions be heard. I remember the thrill of discovering new blogs with great voices. Daily Howler and Media Whores Online were the cornerstones. On an old LJ page, I can still see other finds – Altercation, TPM, Opinions You Should Have, Common Dreams, Truthout. There still is no replacement for Bilmon and Whiskey Bar.
Looking back, there is a trajectory of the A list blogs starting in and around the advent of the Iraq War, rising to critical mass with the 2004 elections, hitting a golden period between 2004 and 2006, then starting to tilt away from “documenting the atrocities” to becoming participants in it. I really think the high point of the blogger influence has to be the battle against Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security, led by Josh Marshall. Since the 2006 Yearly Kos, however, anyone paying attention has been able to see where the big-name blogs were headed, and wasn’t to stay in opposition to the MSM.
One question that no one in the MSM or the “serious” blogosphere has tried to answer is why have so many hard-core Democrats, people in the party for decades, rallied so strongly to Hillary’s side, their support becoming stronger and more obdurate the more she was declared a failed candidate? In most political races, the perception of being a winner or a loser will usually sway the voters, emphasizing the upside – like Obama’s big bump after Iowa – or reinforcing the downside – like Edwards never recovering after losing in Iowa. Hillary’s support increased the more it was accepted by the media that she had already lost. Take this phenomenon seriously because it did happen. When else have we seen this pattern in the rank and file? When Bill was under impeachment. The regular Democrats evidently know when someone is being railroaded by the media and they push back.
The press did to her what it did to Al Gore in 2000, inventing faux scandals and alleging words and behaviors that never happened. The epistemological status of the “stories” spread in the news is exactly zero – they have no real, rational basis. It is interpretation based on flimsy (if any) evidence. It simply did not exist. The difference between the rightwing hunting of the president in the 90s and the wilding of Gore in 2000 is this time the allegedly opposition blogosphere and “left” media fell all over itself to lap up the sewage flowing out of the same sources that have been brutalizing the Democratic Party, the left, liberalism and, frankly, democracy, since Reagan’s ascendency in 1980. They have picked up the crap, eager gobbled it down, and have fully incorporated it into their perspectives, rhetorical methods, and standards of evidence.
The liberal opposition has disappeared, all too eager to do the Right’s work for it.
Why else is there no conception or acknowledgement that there is a crisis of legitimacy at the core of the Democratic Party right now? As long as the loser is a Clinton, who the hell cares? appears to be the rejoinder. Even today, in blogs, online magazines, print newspapers and TV shows that ostensibly have a liberal bent, the news of the day is how can be finally be rid of that bitch. That she exists at all is an affront to their sense of how the world should be - and that comes right out of Scaife's Arkansas Project.
So many of us who remember the 90s sit here, aghast, and watch the wholesale incorporation of the 90s rightwing narrative by the alleged left. Every last line of bullshit, right down to drug dealing in Arkansas and who killed Vince Foster. If this were a movie, it would be a comedy by Terry Gilliam, or maybe the Cohen brothers, one with a knife edge doing the tickling, and too many innocents destroyed. Why are these fiery liberal spirits so swift to join in the rightwing assault on their own side?
Part of the reason in the blogosphere is simply careerism. Josh Marshall, Matt Yglesias, Young Ezra, etc., are simply trying to jump in and get their careers going. I’ve written that up before. Bob Somerby does an even better job of this, documenting the eagerness of these Boyz to be agreeable and acceptable to the people who can pay their bills and give them celebrity. And thus you have WKJM shilling for a candidate whose chief economic advisor is comfortable with privatizing Social Security. I think that pretty much explains where Josh’s commitment to the left starts and ends. When WKJM is willingly taking his stories directly from Matt Drudge, where exactly is the line between the rightwing noise machine and the opposition?
But what of the people who aren’t careerists, at least in that way? Intra-party fighting can only explain so much, because there are some attack modes that they won’t jump into. There is something to it being class based, as I’ve discussed before and will continue to evaluate – a smug sense that somehow prejudice against lower class whites is justified, and thus you shouldn’t defend those kinds of people. It’s also not a mistake that the bulk of the people gulping this sewage are white and male. It would appear that the upper class white males of the Democratic Party have more in common with the upper class white male Republicans than they care to admit. It is not a mistake, I think, that the people on the left who responded best to the anti-Clinton spew of this round are socio-economically similar to those on the Right who share their taste in Drudge and sludge.
There was a time in the 90s and the early Uh-ohs that the left understood that the MSM had gone off the rails. The era of Murrow, Cronkite, Brinkley and Huntley (describing contrapuntally), John Chancellor, and other luminaries of post-war reportage was over, we knew it, and we knew that FOX was the enemy. It is a sad day when a lefty turns to FOX for news because at least you know the score with them. I remember the 1996 Republican convention (yes, I was there, it was in San Diego and I worked a booth there) when we were all giggling in anticipation of Pat Buchanan going off like a freak on national TV during prime time. It is weird now to think Pat Buchanan is the most sensible, rational person on the stage. Now, the more the media behaves in a way specifically designed to delegitimize our candidates, the more the left accepts and repeats what it hears. Bob Somerby and Paul Krugman are nearly alone in their insistence on telling the truth.
A few days ago I wrote up my disgust about the willingness of some people to go along with what seems a very clear ratfucking operation by the Republicans involving a tasty mix of misogyny, racism and anti-Muslim sentiments. What I also want to make clear is that should this particular attack continue – and it will – and should others of this kind surface and gain traction against Obama, then that part of the left that eagerly embraced a reprise of the MSM assault on the Clinton White House and the Gore presidential run have no ground to stand on. You whored your brains, your logic and your leftist credentials out to the bottom feeders of the right to try to gain a little advantage for your candidate and in the doing you have undermined him and every Democrat running for national office. You cried ”Yes, yes!” to painting millions of Americans as racists, you turned a blind eye to grotesque misogyny, you prostituted the corpse of a dead man to spread a lie, you eagerly defended nullifying votes of people in Michigan and denying full representation to Florida to rig the vote for your candidate, you continue to threaten to riot if anyone denies you what you want.
Here’s a little secret. If Obama has run an aboveboard campaign, if the Democratic Party leadership hauled off and slapped Chris Matthews et. al. silly for their Clinton Derangement Syndrome, had the Blogger Boyz been able to argue for their candidate without getting scoops from Matt Drudge, the chances are very good that he might have won in a squeaker. And then he would be poised to put together a Unity ticket, because the other candidate would not have been declared a monster and her supporters would, after the usual grumbling, have willingly thrown full support behind the ticket. At worst, he would have been second by a nose, and everyone would have been very happy to give him the VP slot.
Whatever one can say of Hillary, she was not and never has been the beneficiary of the rightwing noise machine. Obama has benefitted from the cooptation of the MSM and now the willing capitulation of the opposition netroots to that operation, behaving like extensions of Drudge, Scaife and Murdoch. If you support Obama, you are all right with that.
Well, are you?
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Given my views of the behavior of the party (antithetical to everything the party is supposed to stand for), why do I remain a Democrat? There are a number of reasons.
First and foremost is power. The point of a political party is to amass and maintain power. That is a feature, not a bug, and is something we should be thankful for when the power is in our hands and wary of when it belongs to our opponents. The structure of the national government is partisan. All states also govern themselves this way as do most cities and municipalities. Those that are officially "non-partisan" are simply not owning up to their partisan allegiances, such as my own city, San Diego. At the national level, the system of seniority and the allocation of committee positions is based on the relative strength of a party, and only two parties have enough national organization to effectively participate in that environment. In a system of large power blocks, to be Independent or in a minority party is to be isolated and vulnerable.
Before people start caterwauling about the evils of power and the hegemonic control of the two major parties, just shut up. The point of politics is power - to gain access to and receive the benefit from public goods. Parties allow agendas to be established, policies to be drafted, programs to be created and laws to be defended. They are institutions that permit power to persist over time and during periods of turmoil or electoral defeat. This is why people don't actually want to have movements as ends in themselves; a movement is a way to capture the apparatus of an established party and leverage its organizational structure for votes, money and labor. The two party system is not, in my opinion and after reading way too many studies of party systems in my grad school days, inherently better or worse than parliamentary systems. In most cases, even in parliamentary systems, you will usually find two very dominant parties, usually center-left and center-right, and the extremes break away but form coalitions with one of the two major parties. Without parties in modern mass democracy, there is no way to reliably develop long-term platforms and objectives.
This gets to may second point which is, as lame as the Democrats have been since about Reagan, the party has vastly more power than any other 3rd party and certainly more than any movement. It is cost-prohibitive to try to recreate this structure. It is foolish to abandon it, unless to another comparably situated institution, which in this case would mean the Republicans. As a matter of historical fact, most Democratic attrition of the last 50 years has been to the Republicans as Southern white Democrats lost power in the party due to the tectonic realignment to defend civil rights. To retain their power, they shifted to a party that is not so fussy about treating entire classes of people like shit and brought their support networks with them. That shift was finalized in the 90s as the last hold outs jumped onto the Gingrich bandwagon.
Thus, the problem is not with Democratic rank and file or even with the party as such, but with the current leadership, which is not acting in the interests of increasing party power vis-a-vis the Republicans and with the Obamacan coup, which is trying to capture the party apparatus for its own purposes. Given the sewer of patronage and corruption that is Chicago politics, I think I see exactly what this faction wants in terms of power. My goal is to stop both of these problems, and I think the best location to do this is within the party itself. Impossible? Perhaps, but failure is certain only if I don't try.
Another reason not to abandon the party is because movement conservatism has captured the Republican Party. It may no longer be growing the way it did since Reagan, but they need to be beaten down and only the Democratic Party has a comparably sized and distributed organization to do this. Thus, the problem is how to oust the current regime before they cede too much power to the Republicans.
Finally, it's my cantankerous refusal to go sit on the sidelines and shut up, pushed out of my life-long party by Johnnie-come-lately hacks like Markos and Arianna.
What did Hillary's speech focus on? Getting power and retaining power in order to do right by her constituents. It really can be boiled down to that. One of the deep problems with the Stevensonian wing of the party is its deep, almost pathological aversion to explicitly wielding power. It's dirty. It's corrupting. It's pandering. It's buying people off when you should act for the sake of principle. It's favoritism and particularity. (Who knew that the election would come down to a practical example of the dialectical problem posed by Marx in On the Jewish Question? Oy!) There is an illusion among the technocrats, even those who make the right noises about being "fighting Dems" that you can somehow govern without ruling, that you can escape the demands of power and have only agreement, rules, abstract principles and guides, predictable outcomes and, above all else, unity in the statehouse. This is the bloodless vision presented by all of our losing presidential candidates since LBJ. To be partisan is to pick sides and fight for advantage in pursuit of a goal. Voluntary relinquishing of that power, which is what we have watched Pelosi and Reid do time and again, is simply stupid. Pretense that you are above all this infighting and grabbing for power, that you can bring people together through the force and wisdom of your ideas is as false today as it was when Stevenson ran - false that power can be retained that way, false that the person speaking isn't madly grabbing for power.
So I chose to remain in my party and be a gadfly, returning fundraising letters with diatribes, nagging my Congress critters, making my dissatisfaction known, and being involved in thwarting the current corrupt regime. Also, when the present gang of idiots falls, there has to be a substantial group ready and waiting to step in.
At the same time, I see nothing wrong with moving to Independent status to record dissatisfaction with the party. That also removes from the party what it most needs from rank-and-file - the money, the votes and the volunteers. It is simply not what I'm going to do.
The Democratic Party leadership is acting in ways that damage the ability of the party to expand its power. In the end, all personalities aside, that is what matters. They appear to enjoy engaging in Republican tactics against their own members while getting screwed over by the Republicans on matters that affect ordinary people's lives.
It's time for Democratic partisans to come to the defense of their party.
Update: Umm, spellcheck has been run. Sorry for the earlier typos...
I am getting a lot of comments - thank you for taking the time. About 1/4 of them are marked not for publication and I will honor those requests. If you need me to reply to you, use the "Contact Anglachel" link near the bottom of the right hand menu. I don't get your email from comments.
If you send multiple comments in on a single thread, I will probably publish only one of them unless there is something noteworthy. Please remember that the comments reflect the views of the commenter. I will publish things I disagree with if I think the argument is well made or presents a view that should be considered.
When I'm working at my computer, I try to read comments as they come in, but I'm often away so presume there may be a delay of several hours. I am sorry that the regulars can't have more immediate back and forth, but given the troll reports from around the blogosphere, pest control is my biggest concern.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Actually, it is for the Obamacans to accept some political realities about the bitter, sweetie voters who stand behind Hillary, and the very real legitimacy problem your candidate has with us.
The fact that you continue to squall and fuss about Teh Rulz indicates that you know very well that the circumstances of his nomination are artificial. You need to accept that there is a big, fat asterisk next to Obama's name in the history books, and it will be to note the way in which the DNC manipulated delegate counts to prevent full votes by 50 states. Sorry, they did and yelling about rules will not erase that mark. Further, the rule manipulation will be used by the Republicans to make claims both about Obama and about the party. We bittersweet voters wanted a full count of all states, so don't blame us. You wanted to win the nomination in the worst possible way, and your wishes came true. Not our problem, though it is yours.
Which leads us to a very sticky point about how delegates were obtained. Your candidate's delegate total was racked up in unrepresentative caucuses, and that there are numerous reports of questionable behavior by participants on your side, such as threatening other caucus goers, packing caucuses with invalid attendees, trying to suppress votes with deliberate disninformation campaigns and outright falsification of caucus results. While this has engendered justifiable anger on the Hillary side about cheating, my concern is more practical: there's going to be another round of voting, the General, and lack of actual support in those caucus states may very well bite you in the ass. Manipulating a first round vote to favor the weaker candidate will not help in the second round. If the Democratic voters didn't actually like you the first time, a significant number of them won't like you the second time, either, especially when all of the factors below are taken into consideration.
Something else you will have to accept if you want your candidate to have a prayer of winning in the fall is that we Clinton Democrats are legitimate and loyal members of this party. You sneer at us and make insulting claims about our voting preferences, like we are racists, or are simply voting for another woman, or are just voting name recognition, or that we're "low information" (hey, drop the euphemisms and just call us dumb hicks, OK? We've heard it before...) with the condescending implication that, poor dears, we just don't know what we're doing. Actually, most of us are pretty well informed and at least formally we share the interests and claims of the Obamacan block - smarter foreign policy, more rigorous and sustainable economic/financial policies, green energy, humane immigration policies, shift the tax burden form the have nots to the have way more than they will every use. We read newspapers and magazines, we ask questions, we write letters, and so forth. We've even been known to read them blog thingies, at least the ones that don't cuss us out and call us names. Declaring that we are not worthy members of the Democratic coalition is going to hurt you very badly in November.
The biggest thing you have to accept, and I don't hold out much hope, is that Hillary Clinton is an irreplaceable asset to Left in this country, and is one of the reasons there even is a Democratic Party after the Gingrich revolution of the 90s. She is a brilliant, involved, hard-working, compassionate, scary smart, well informed, responsible, reliable, tough as nails politician who has done and will continue to do great things for the citizens of this country. She has earned the trust and loyalty of her supporters through legislative deeds and class-act behavior. She is not racist nor has she stooped to such tactics. She is not Republican-lite, having battled the Right to a standstill time and time again. Simply put, she is nothing like the caricature you invented out of whole cloth and attack with increasing levels of hysteria. As long as you behave like a rabid dog when her name is mentioned, you will not bring us to your side. Calling Hillary vile names is second only to calling us vile names and, for a few of us, it is worse.
These two points of fact - that Clinton Democrats are reasonable people who hold views comparable to your own and that our preferred candidate is one incredibly awesome person - go to the heart of the next thing need to accept, namely that Hillary has more dedicated supporters within the party than any other Democratic public figure. More Democrats voted for Hillary than any other candidate. Exit polls and polls conducted by major polling firms show that Hillary's support among Democrats grew over time, that her supporters became more loyal to her the more she was attacked, and that her voters are the least likely to transfer their loyalty to another candidate. Why? Perhaps because we looked at her with open minds, saw the person, not the media caricature, and have become protective of this person who we respect so much and who is being attacked so unfairly. Our dedication to our candidate is powerful and there are an awful lot of us. You need to accept that our criteria for judging your candidate will include what kind of respect is offered to our own. You may not think that is fair, that we must only judge Obama by his positions, but that's not how politics works.
The other point you have to accept about the bittersweet voters is that while not all who voted for Hillary are true-blue Hillary die-hards, there are more people in the party willing to vote for her than for Obama, and that this trend became more pronounced as the campaign went on. Late deciders consistently went with Hillary. Satisfaction levels among voters favored Hillary. Larger percentages of Obama supporters were happy to support Hillary than Hillary supporters were willing to support Obama. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what was claimed would happen last summer and fall, when the pundits and Blogger Boyz informed us in Very Serious Tones that Hillary simply could not attract voters. You need to accept that Hillary is a popular vote getter, especally in big state primaries.
This leads me to your ultimate acceptance - that your perception of and attitude towards Hillary Clinton is irrational, bordering on psychopathic. As long as you cling to it as a tenet of your faith, you will drive away people who might otherwise support your candidate. As long as so many of us think that Samantha Powers' "gaffe" about Hillary being a monster reflects the actual attitude towards her in the Obama campaign, your candidate will lose votes. As long as people think Obama has lied about Hillary, has shown her disrespect, has deliberately piggybacked on the CDS spewed by the MSM, you will lose votes.
In short, as long as you will not accept that you cannot have the full support of the Democratic Party voters because you violently reject and defame one of the most loved Democrats of the last twenty years and treat her supporters as worthless, powerless pawns in your march to glory, then you are heading for defeat in November. I repeat what I said a few days ago: "The deep problem of Obama's campaign is that he and his supporters do not want to face the political reality of their own conflicting desires. They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting contituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo. The failure of the Unity Pony stems directly from that fantasy of majority status without majority support and the political work and compromises that go with cultivating that support. " This is the warning in Hillary's speech this morning - to dismiss her, Bill, their long history of service to the party and the millions of people who chose her, not Obama, to be their president is also to dismiss the coalition that can win in November.
Hillary supporters have accepted that Obama currently claims to have more delegates, and we accept that our candidate has suspended her campaign. We're now waiting for our counterparts to accept that, as the putative victors, it is your obligation to address the problems identified above. The burden for uniting the party rests with you, not us, because you are the source of division.
Well, this isn’t exactly the party I’d planned, but I sure like the company.
I want to start today by saying how grateful I am to all of you – to everyone who poured your hearts and your hopes into this campaign, who drove for miles and lined the streets waving homemade signs, who scrimped and saved to raise money, who knocked on doors and made calls, who talked and sometimes argued with your friends and neighbors, who emailed and contributed online, who invested so much in our common enterprise, to the moms and dads who came to our events, who lifted their little girls and little boys on their shoulders and whispered in their ears, “See, you can be anything you want to be.”
To the young people like 13 year-old Ann Riddle from Mayfield, Ohio who had been saving for two years to go to Disney World, and decided to use her savings instead to travel to Pennsylvania with her Mom and volunteer there as well. To the veterans and the childhood friends, to New Yorkers and Arkansans who traveled across the country and telling anyone who would listen why you supported me.
To all those women in their 80s and their 90s born before women could vote who cast their votes for our campaign. I’ve told you before about Florence Steen of South Dakota, who was 88 years old, and insisted that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. Her daughter and a friend put an American flag behind her bed and helped her fill out the ballot. She passed away soon after, and under state law, her ballot didn’t count. But her daughter later told a reporter, “My dad’s an ornery old cowboy, and he didn’t like it when he heard mom’s vote wouldn’t be counted. I don’t think he had voted in 20 years. But he voted in place of my mom.”
To all those who voted for me, and to whom I pledged my utmost, my commitment to you and to the progress we seek is unyielding. You have inspired and touched me with the stories of the joys and sorrows that make up the fabric of our lives and you have humbled me with your commitment to our country.
18 million of you from all walks of life – women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor and middle class, gay and straight – you have stood strong with me. And I will continue to stand strong with you, every time, every place, and every way that I can. The dreams we share are worth fighting for.
Remember - we fought for the single mom with a young daughter, juggling work and school, who told me, “I’m doing it all to better myself for her.” We fought for the woman who grabbed my hand, and asked me, “What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?” and began to cry because even though she works three jobs, she can’t afford insurance. We fought for the young man in the Marine Corps t-shirt who waited months for medical care and said, “Take care of my buddies over there and then, will you please help take care of me?” We fought for all those who’ve lost jobs and health care, who can’t afford gas or groceries or college, who have felt invisible to their president these last seven years.
I entered this race because I have an old-fashioned conviction: that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their dreams. I’ve had every opportunity and blessing in my own life – and I want the same for all Americans. Until that day comes, you will always find me on the front lines of democracy – fighting for the future.
This is how Hillary opened her speech. I provide the extended excerpt to put the anlysis that follows into context.
Some in the pro-Hillary blogosphere are disappointed that she didn't tell the bastards where to stick their Unity Pony, but our girl is both more decent and more politically savvy than us pontificators. She understands the ebb and flow of politics far better than we do. She and Bill have lost before and have come back stronger than ever. Others are even more disappointed that she promoted Obama so strongly. I see this, too, as an example of both her incredible ethical core and of her sharp political acumen. At this point in time, there is no advantage to her and (far more important to Hillary) no advantage to her constituents in being a "poor loser". In practical terms, she has suspended her campaign, has not released her delegates, and is ready for whatever the summer will bring. I anticipate that she and her partners in the party are gearing up for the un-sexy part of the campaign, the battle over platform planks, committee representation, and work on the byzantine rules that govern the operation of the party. That is a front line of democracy.
So, what is going on with this speech?
When I watched this speech, I realized that she was not so much stating her power as showing it. It was spoken by someone who has possession of power, not by someone acknowledging defeat. Read it. At no point does she say that she lost, was beaten, was defeated, not even the hoary old "the voters have spoken". She doesn't even bother with that. 18 million supporters. She talks about who supports her and who she is dedicated to. She makes clear that she has been the recipient of so much support for all the right reasons.
Hillary is the leader of half the Democratic Party. She knows it. The DNC knows it. She commands more loyalty of more people within the party than anyone else, including I strongly believe, the Big Dog himself. (Note to Bill - do not challenge Hillary for public office. You will not win.) This speech makes clear that neither she nor her backers are up for grabs. She calls them out by name, presents their stories, talks about their needs and aspirations, and then she says:
We all want an economy that sustains the American Dream, the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford that gas and those groceries and still have a little left over at the end of the month. An economy that lifts all of our people and ensures that our prosperity is broadly distributed and shared.
We all want a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance. This isn’t just an issue for me – it is a passion and a cause – and it is a fight I will continue until every single American is insured – no exceptions, no excuses.
We all want an America defined by deep and meaningful equality – from civil rights to labor rights, from women’s rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families.
We all want to restore America’s standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq and once again lead by the power of our values, and to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.
This is what "we", Democrats, want, what we stand for. Those who will not stand up for this are found wanting. She just laid out the standards by which we should judge those who ask for our support. The health care statement for me was the clearest point - no exceptions, no excuses.
The speech also becomes a teaching moment. She shows exactly how the appeal to unify the party must be made. In her endorsement of Obama, at every step, she attaches conditions. Real relief to the struggling middle class. True independence from oil and real actions to combat global warming. Bringing our service men and women home with respect for their service and support for their needs. The biggest moment was her extended meditation on gender and what it means to be equal. She starts with a simple statement: I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us. She then describes concretely what it means for her that others have stood firm in the past, have refused to retreat in the face of defeat or to settle for half-measures, and makes clear the advances that have happened because of determination that it shall be so: "When you stumble, keep faith. When you’re knocked down, get right back up. And never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on. "
(Hmm, I wonder who she was talking about with those final words? I think I could more easily count who she was not speaking of. But I digress...)
After identifying who she represents and explaining what is needed to win over the trust and support of those constituencies, Hillary focuses on power:
You know, I’ve been involved in politics and public life in one way or another for four decades. During those forty years, our country has voted ten times for President. Democrats won only three of those times. And the man who won two of those elections is with us today.
We made tremendous progress during the 90s under a Democratic President, with a flourishing economy, and our leadership for peace and security respected around the world. Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years – on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court. Imagine how far we could’ve come, how much we could’ve achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.
This is as close as she came to smacking the power brokers in the DNC (and elsewhere) who decided that they just could not countenance her winning. Then again, she doesn't have to. She just needs to point out the ineluctable fact that Bill Clinton, the person they revile, held power for the party and made possible the opportunities to push forward the policies and measures to aide Democratic constituencies. This is what a successful Democratic presidency looks like. I wrote about this issue back in February - that the power of the office must be used proactively in the interests of Democratic agendas, no matter how the MSM and right wing noise machine howl.
And now we get to the heart of the matter. This speech was a concession speech only in a formal sense. Hillary has surrendered nothing. She is being gracious and is directly advocating all Democrats act in the interest of retaking the White House and creating the conditions under which we can seize those opportunities and benefit Democratic constituencies. Hillary has served notice that she will do everything within her power to make this happen.
If it fails, it is all on Obama's head. If he fails to heed her advice and pledge himself to fighting for the concrete material needs of Democratic constituencies, he will lose. If he tries to appease the Right rather than support the Left, he will lose. If he continues to disdain the messy, contradictory, not sufficiently PC particularity of the Democratic base, he will lose. And, should he fail, she will, without rancor and without revenge, pick up the pieces, go on with the fight and never surrender to the foes of democracy. She will always be on the front lines.
All of which is a very long way of getting to the point of this post. In the arguments about "unity", the question, united to what end?, does not get addressed. Or, rather, it is answered in one way only - that Hillary and her supporters need to stop their opposition and get behind Da Winnah.
What this speech does in its performance is provide the other part of the answer. The candidates view unity differently. Obama's calls for unity are for his sake, as supported by his admonition that his supporters should not think of themselves as Democrats or Republicans, but as Obamacans. Hillary's calls for unity are for our sakes, to achieve specific things that make our lives demonstrably better, from equal rights for all to economic sanity to sustainable energy. She does not threaten us with a defeat of Roe v. Wade, but asks us to consider how laws as such can be improved. (I also happen to know that she advocates a constitutional right to privacy, which is really what the Right is fighting against in Roe v. Wade, protection of citizen's privacy from state intrusion.)
With Hillary, unity of the party is for the sake of the constituents, the power to act on behalf of and in the interests others in very concrete ways. Her laundry list of objectives and initiatives so ridiculed by the press corps got people's attention because it addressed their needs and fears. It demonstrated to them that this was someone who gave a damn about their particular issues and really would try her hardest to fix what was broken and create what was missing.
With Obama, he falls into the usual trap of the Stevensonians, praising unity as such, considering it a good in and of itself, and not worrying too much about the messy, grubby, delivering the goods kind of politics that so upsets the technocrats. If we only reform the system and make it all rationalized and fair and formally equal, then what results will be satisfying to the public. Um, no. It is not, as some would have it, that Obama is some kind of false front, a crypto Libertarian/Republican/Communist/Black Nationalist/Islamacist/[Fill in your favorite crazy ass conspiracy boogey monster here] as much as that he does not make delivering the goods to the voters the center of his political cause. It is abstract, formal, reasssuring to those who are already on-board and doing OK, but simply cannot speak to the woman working three jobs and frantic for health insurance.
Hillary has put her claim upon power into a context no politician of any party since Bill has been able to do. I do this for you for these reasons and for this end. She has defined the purpose of the party to be this pledge, defending the front lines of democracy. She also pointed out that we have had this success before, in the 90s, and that the desire of one faction of the party to "move on" and deny the past fails to honor the promises made and the foundations laid during that time.
Finally, her admonition to her supporters not to dwell upon the "if only" or the "what if" can be taken equally well as a warning to her opponents who fantacize about a Left without the Clintons and their formidable powers. Don't go there. That will be the topic of my next post.
Friday, June 06, 2008
IN RE UNITAS—AND CLINTON: In response to popular demand, here’s the anecdote about Johnny Unitas which we mentioned yesterday. Why have candidates sometimes fought to the death? We suggested a basic fact: They’re often very competitive people. Bill Bradley, for example, was a world-class athlete. Often, these people don’t like to lose.
Which brings us back to Johnny U, in the last years of his career.
By now, Unitas was no longer a great NFL quarterback. He wasn’t even especially good—and he’d become a pain in the keister because he refused to accept or admit it. Fans were starting to get annoyed. Finally, a Balitmore sportscaster said:
Stop complaining about this! He gave you all those thrills through the years because he had supreme self-confidence. Have a little appreciation for the traits that got us all here. He won all those games because he's like this. The trait you’re complaining about today is the trait you adored in the past.
While recommending this post by Digby, we’ll offer a similar thought about Hillary Clinton. And about Bill Clinton. And about Robert Kennedy, Gene McCarthy—Hubert Humphrey.
Some people wanted a concession on Tuesday. That’s fine, but historically, people don’t do that. By the way: It would be weird to spend all day Tuesday asking people to vote for you—then to show up at 8:30 PM and say, “I’m out of here—please vote for the other guy.” Whatever you think of Clinton’s speech, it would be somewhat odd to endorse on the night you ran in two primaries, trying to win. Historically, people don’t do that.
(There’s one other point to consider here: For ourselves, we weren’t heart-broken by this campaign’s outcome—but a great many Dem voters were. Historically, pols don’t kick voters to the curb on the night their dream has died. They give them some time to adjust to what happened. But then, this is basic human relations, a subject the life-forms comprising our pundit corps tend to know little about.)
But let’s get back to Johnny Unitas. And to Bill Bradley; and Jerry Brown; and Ted Kennedy and John McCain. And let’s understand the kinds of competitors both the Clintons are.
Hillary Clinton has gotten this far because she doesn’t quit real quickly. By the way: When’s the last time you saw a Big Dem who didn’t quit at the very first chance? The roll-over for the October 02 war resolution vote was the most gruesome example. (“Let get the resolution out of the way so we can talk about health care for a few weeks.”) For our money, Clinton’s refusal to quit in the past few months makes her a remarkable role model. We hope other Dems will recall her approach and learn to roll over less quickly.
But as pundits bellow and wail, saying she hung on too long this week, we’ll suggest you remember the tons of pure horse-sh*t this person has fought through over the years. Typically, she did this while receiving no help at all from the famous front-runners who whined and complained this week.
Hillary Clinton tends not to quit. That’s how she persisted through so much sh*t with so little help from “career liberals.” Just consider three events from 1999 alone:
In June, the cowards and clowns of your “mainstream press corps” invented that ludicrous Cubs-Yankees scandal. They called her every name in the book. But go ahead! Search the work of your favorite “career liberal.” You’ll find him hiding under his desk, too frightened to complain about this—or about the pseudo-lies being invented about Candidate Gore.
In August, they dragged out Gennifer Flowers to inform us about Hillary Clinton’s murders. (And about the fact that she’s the world’s biggest lesbo.) Yes, that’s right—about her murders! Flowers clowned about this for a half-hour on Hardball—then was rewarded with the full hour on Hannity. (Fox re-broadcast the program that weekend.) Go ahead! Search the work of your favorite “career liberal.” Give us the name of even one person who complained about this assault on everything decent people should hold dear.
But anyway, Hillary Clinton, like Gore, was the world’s biggest liar—and she’d committed a long string of murders! And not only that! She had been funny-looking in the 70s! In August, Bill Clinton made a major mistake; he described how he fell in love with his wife when they were students in law school. In response, Brit Hume posted a photo of a young Mrs. Clinton—a photo he plainly found unattractive. For the next several minutes, Hume’s pundit panel on Special Report staged the kind of discussion that was increasingly a stain on the cartel described as a “press corps:”
HUME (8/23/99): The picture he paints of Mrs. Clinton is of a sort of a femme fatale. Now [posting the picture] that’s about what she looked like then.
And one—one can’t help but wonder about this.
Apparently, the photo didn’t evoke Pamela Anderson, so Hume’s all-male panel treated itself to a good solid laugh. After speculating about the Clintons’ marriage, they returned to that decades-old photo:
JUAN WILLIAMS: The problem...is that nobody can believe, one, that she was this beautiful woman in college—anyone who’s seen the pictures. And two, who can believe that she didn’t know that this guy was a skirt-chaser all along?
JEFF BIRNBAUM: Well, I should point out, about the love-in-college part, that love is blind.
But that also—
HUME: Well, he never said she was beautiful. He said she was “compelling looking.” And that she may well have been!
Go ahead! List this week’s nit-picking “career liberal” pundits. And then, spend your weekend searching for anyone who said one word about this.
What happened as the press corps’ war against both Clintons, then Gore, rolled on? Gene Lyons spoke up. Joe Conason spoke. Eric Boehlert arrived on the scene; Robert Parry got mad. But you’ll have to search under many desks to find other major-name pundits. Some played an active role in the warfare (Robinson); some simply kept their lovely traps shut (Dionne). Of course, they’re all full of front-running brilliance this week. This week, they’re founts of Group Wisdom.
Simple story: Both Clintons have fought through astounding misconduct, with almost no help from the “career liberal” firmament. For ourselves, we don’t know why Bill Clinton lost the ability to keep his thoughts about the press to himself. But does anyone really not understand why he loathes the press corps so much? Do we really not understand the press corps’ role in this campaign? Bill Clinton made a giant personal blunder during his time in the White House. But this lunacy had been directed at both Clintons for years by the time that incident broke—by the time the press corps amazed itself by getting a scandal-claim right.
Why didn’t Clinton endorse Tuesday night? We’re not sure, but we’ll take a guess: In part, because—unlike the bulk of “career liberal” players—she doesn’t roll over and die real good. The career kids are whining, nit-picking, eye-rolling. And of course, they all ran off and hid in tall grass during the history-changing wars against both Clintons and Gore.
Final note: Robert Kennedy is being remembered this week. We recommend this piece by his daughter Kerry; she recalls a warm, loving father—and two tree houses, in the same tree. But back in 1968, many High Liberals were criticizing Kennedy as the opportunist in that race. (Then, they proceeded to wring their hands about vile Hubert Humphrey.) In this piece, Harold Meyerson recalls the enmities inside the McCarthy camp against the man we now remember so warmly: “[M]ost of us, despite our unspoken misgivings about McCarthy's staying in the race, were so entrenched in our loyalties and enmities that going over to Kennedy seemed beyond the pale.”
But guess what? McCarthy, Kennedy and Humphrey were all decent people—and none was the sun god returned to earth. That has also been true of the Major Dem hopefuls in this campaign. This week, Meyerson offered his recollection as a way of urging Clinton’s supporters to join with Obama. So typical! It’s just like this cohort to withhold their wisdom until it will service their preference.
But then, these folk have always been like this. Go ahead! Look back and see how hard Meyerson fought during the wars against the Clintons and Gore. Hillary Clinton persisted through that—but Meyerson? The one good thing about making that search is it won’t take you real long.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
First, this is Krugman from today:
UglinessA long and brutal game of "gotcha" at every turn, making every interview into a field strewn with landmines, pretending it is more important to catch a candidate in a verbal slip than to ask about their plans for governing. Most of all, the way in which an arrogant and right-leaning media decided that it would frame the way in which our candidates were presented. This interview was not just trying to trick Hillary into saying something that could be construed as her doubt about Obama's faith, it was also at the same time making his faith (which by definition cannot be known by anyone but the person) into a topic of discussion in the campaign. Go and read some of the comments to this blog post by Krugman. Think about the article by Stanley Fish on Hillary Hatred. Consider the ways in which misogyny is so casually mixed in with political hatred, and the level of fury that spills out across the page. Take seriously the effectiveness of the right to exploit deep fears and prejudices and their shameless zeal to call out the worst in everyone they touch.
Read the first paragraph of this, then read this, and you’ll have the essence of what happened in the Democratic primary campaign
I've waited patiently for several days to see if anything of substance would come out of the much ballyhooed announcement by Larry Johnson about a video that alleges Michelle Obama said something objectionable, possibly using a derogatory racial term. I posted a few cautions, and said I needed to see the evidence before making up my mind. This alleged scandal has been pushed for several weeks now, and there have been several days of explanations, each of them at odds in some way with the others. I've made up my mind on this matter.
It is a ratfucking operation by the Republicans and it has done exactly what it was intended to do - set Democrats at each others' throats, stir up racist and anti-Muslim sentiment, and encourage people to enagage in misogynist attacks on Michelle Obama.
At best, Larry Johnson is being played for a fool by these people. His desire to defeat Obama is coming out of a desire to get back at the radical left of the 60s. Obama is his access point to people like Ayers, Wright and Farrakhan, and he's grabbing for every rock that comes to hand, not paying much attention to the dynamite that is taking its place. That there is little to defend in that group does not excuse the irresponsible conduct by any number of people over at No Quarter. I admit to a certain grim satisfaction that two elements I don't much care for in American political life - the violent nihilists of the Left and their mirror-image Cold Warrior, red-baiting fellow nihilists of the right - are duking it out. Couldn't happen to a better pair. But what is spilling over from this decades old grudge match into the rest of the blogs is pure toxic waste - misogyny, racism and anti-Muslim calumny.
Let's get something clear. I do not give a flying fuck if Michelle Obama did say "whitey" in some video tape from whenever and wherever and with whomever she supposedly said it. Period. I sincerely doubt that anything we finally see will rise to the level of what we have been led to believe happened. Furthermore, I do not care if Michelle Obama is unpleasant, nice as apple pie, indifferent to the world, filled with petty resentment, serene and loving, or anything else about the state of her psyche. I'm willing to wager she is all of those things depending on where she is and who she's talking to, just as every major public female figure I have read about has had her inner soul meticulously dissected before the public eye and has been found wanting. The assault on Michelle Obama is exactly like the assault on Hillary Clinton when Bill was running for the White House. It is mean, vile, sexist, crude, derogatory and beneath contempt.
It has also become the ignition spark for a growing fire of racism in the comments, couched as opposition to Black Liberation Theology and to Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. The agitation for this hatred began on the right explicitly with their attacks on Wright's church, which has been part of the underground rightwing email war against Obama from the start. These are things the spousal unit and I were reading this time last year when it became clear Obama was going to try for a run at the Presidency. Ironically, it probably would have stayed in that sewer through the Democratic primary had not Obama decided that running on racism was a good idea. Once he opened Pandora's box, the Wright stuff began to be lobbed back at him. The connections with Farrakhan and with Tony Rezko have been used to tie him maliciously to Islam (and to rabble rouse about that religion in exactly the same way as I see people using "Israel" to indulge in some not very subtle anti-Semitism), pretending in wide-eyed innocence that it's all about his
Just in the way that misogyny made it easy to engage in the purely personal classist warfare and white-on-white bigotry against Hillary, misogyny is making it easy to batter Michelle Obama and slide in the other racial and religious attacks as well, all aimed at stirring up the most crude and hateful impulses in the readers.
Over the last week, I have watched this toxic brew spread out from No Quarter and into other blogs. The anger over the RBC decision and over the hostile and dismissive way Hillary has been treated in the last week of campaigning no doubt made it easier to rationalize dipping into the uglier phrases, the barely concealed slurs, the code words that Americans always use to describe the reviled Other when they are angry and want to rip something down.
We are seeing within the primary itself the misogynistic, racist, religion-bashing attacks that everyone expected to see in the general. The difference is that these accusations are coming out of Democratic mouths and are aimed at our Democratic candidates.
This is doing the Right's work for them.
I'm not giving "our" side a pass on this. No matter how unfair or vile the attacks on Hillary, she has never responded with anything but class. She has never stooped to "But they did it, too!" When people on her campaign tried to use the smears, she canned them.
I have not changed my mind on Obama as a candidate. He ran a dirty campaign, he had every external advantage and the DNC still had to rig the system to shove him across the line ahead of her by a nose. I have also not changed my mind about the wrong way to conduct any kind of political campaign, which is to employ the tactics of the Right. I will have a longer post this weekend on that point.
My screen name, Anglachel, refers to a sword in the Tolkien fantasy world. It was forged from meteoric iron by someone with a deep hatred of those around him, and it took on the deadly, twisted nature of Eol. It slew anyone who tried to weild it, turning on those who thought to use this fearsome weapon and destroying them. Its final possessor, Turin, committed suicide with it and it shattered beneath him.
Let that be a warning to anyone who believes they can use a weapon crafted from hatred to achieve anything lasting or good.