Friday, November 30, 2007
Here's a question: what do you most want in a Democratic Presidential candidate?
a) A progressive.
b) For the first time in our history, a black man or a woman.
c) Someone who can actually beat the Republican.
d) All of the above.
Personally, I'll go with "d." Which, according to a Zogby poll, means -- NOT HILLARY:
"General election match-ups show the New York Senator would lose against every top Republican
UTICA, New York – A new Zogby Interactive survey shows Democrat Hillary Clinton of New York would lose to every one of the top five Republican presidential contenders, representing a reversal of fortune for the national Democratic front–runner who had led against all prospective GOP opponents earlier this year. Meanwhile, fellow Democrats Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards of North Carolina would defeat or tie every one of the Republicans, this latest survey shows."
Yeah, but that survey's unreliable, right? Right. (What, you thought Hillary was above hypocrisy?)
If either Obama or Edwards is more electable than Hillary in the general election, how would an Obama-Edwards ticket do? I'll tell you: it would be choice (d), above: progressive, diverse, and electable.
Even if you prefer Hillary to either of those two, you have to remember that we don't live in a perfect world. We don't want to mirror the Republicans' mistake, when they ran Bob Dole because it was "his turn." We don't want to nominate a Michael Dukakis, someone we like but who is unelectable. We want to WIN, dammit. And besides, ideological purity and Rovian pragmatism actually coincide for a change: Obama-Edwards would be both more progressive and more electable than Clinton: Q.E.D.
Even from a purely feminist perspective, this poll -- and the direction of this poll, showing Hillary on a downward trend against all her Republican doppelgangers -- should nudge people out of Hillary's camp. Here's why: Justice Stevens (a Ford appointee who considers himself a "moderate conservative" but nevertheless is pro-choice) is 87 years old; Justice Ginsburg (one of only two Democrats on the Court) is 74 and a cancer survivor. SEVEN of the current justices were appointed by Democrats; the other seven are Republican. So what's better for women: running Hillary and having a Republican nominate the next one or two justices and putting a stake in the heart of Roe v Wade, or electing Obama and allowing young progressive judges to take their places, preserving Roe, and maybe even gaining a third seat on the Court if one of the Republican justices dies or needs to retire in the near future?
But if we want to win the Presidency in '08, we can't wait until after Iowa and New Hampshire, let alone all the big media-market states that have moved their primaries forward in order to favor the front-runners, to stop Clinton. The other Dems have to stop pretending they're electable and put their support behind a unified anti-Clinton progressive coalition NOW, or it'll be a waste of time.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
My rule of thumb on farm legislation: if it doesn't help Wendell Berry's neighbors in Port Royal, KY, it's not really a farm bill. But both articles are worth reading, even if you don't care about esoterica like farm bills, because they help explain how the Blue Dogs can block truly helpful policies from taking hold (and Vichys hold on to power).
Here's a clip from Owens' essay:
Who are these Blue Dogs? Why are they the most powerful caucus in the Congress? Be advised that two of their Democratic founders were so conservative that they voted even for the impeachment of President Clinton. They are so clever that, despite their long-term demonization of the poor and Civil Rights, they now have four members of the Congressional Black Caucus in their ranks. This is the body that sponsored Harold Ford III's challenge to Nancy Pelosi when she ran for Minority Leader. So many members have been clamoring to get in that the Blue Dogs now operate like an Ivy League fraternity. You must be sponsored by five members and you must write an essay to achieve membership.
In other words, the horror of the facts of the farm program waste can never be understood without examining the power of the agricultural industrial complex which has its center of command in the Blue Dog Coalition....
Now, I'm not against Democrats moving right to gain election in conservative districts. That's politics, and while it smacks of triangulation when a faux-progressive national candidate like Hillary Clinton does it, it's actually a good thing in the House of Representatives. It's small-d democratic and "representative" (as in, we want Congresspeople generally to represent their constituents' interests, if not always their media-influenced views).
What's more, I'm ecstatic to have anyone oppose the Democratic Leadership Council's neoliberal policy on free (but not fair) international trade. I'm glad the "Blue Dogs" were able to help the Dem party make electoral gains in the South. I'm aware that if the Blue Dogs all shifted allegiance to the Republican Party, as many of their forebears did in the 50s and 60s when the Democratic Party started embracing civil rights legislation and as the founders of that coalition did just a few years back, then we wouldn't have majorities in both houses. But, as I've asked before, what good does it do to gain the majority, and then weep and cry and wring our hands about winning in the South and holding together the "Big Tent" instead of actually taking action to end the war, rescue Afghanistan, start rebalancing the budget, help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and stave off the pending recession (depression?)? If the Blue Dogs and other Vichys helped us gain the majority but now are stopping us from accomplishing any of the things voters expect Democrats to accomplish, then what the hell's the point? It's just more lukewarm spit (scroll down to point 2.5), and it just confirms voters' impression that Democrats are gutless on everything from domestic policy to the war on terror. And gutlessness wins neither hearts, nor minds, nor elections.
Here's the point that Democratic "centrists" can't seem to get: one can be a fiscally responsible, socially moderate, troop-supporting, pro-agriculture, slow-progress (as distinguished from no-progress), relatively protectionist Southern or Midwestern Democrat without opposing the election of anti-war Democrats, opposing mortgage foreclosure relief legislation, making it harder for working folks to declare bankruptcy when job loss or medical bills create catastrophic debt, or supporting the more racist forms of immigration reform -- let alone voting to impeach Bill Clinton or even flipping to the Republican Party (all of which Blue Dogs are currently doing or have done recently).
And what the hell are the Blue Dogs -- whose one legitimate policy stance is "to promote what they see as fiscally responsible budget reforms and accountability for taxpayer dollars" (Wikipedia) -- doing supporting a fiscally disastrous war, or lining the pockets of big agribusiness at the expense of real farmers? Maybe the Blue Dogs need saving from their own devolution into crony conservatism as much as the overall Democratic Party does...
(Image credit: copyright George Rodrigue. Mr. Rodrigue is not associated in any way with the Blue Dog Democrat Coalition. The founders of that coalition happened to meet in offices decorated with Mr. Rodrigue's wonderful "Blue Dog" paintings, and misappropriated the "Blue Dog" name without his permission.)
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Hillary's "Feminism": (or jump to "Hillary's Friends")
Over at Atrios' place a while back, I took a lot of flack from another poster who accused me of misogyny because I expressed doubts about Hillary's values and effectiveness, as if anyone who opposes the potential first female President must be doing so because they're an antifeminist. I countered that a true feminist would expect a female candidate to be evaluated without regard to gender. After all, most of us didn't like Reagan's BFF Margaret Thatcher, right? Was that misogyny? And was it anti-feminist to celebrate when liberal Labor's Tony Blair took over 10 Downing Street (back before he became Bush's lap puppet in Iraq, of course)?
So it's nice to read this in Maureen Dowd's column (note: she's a feminist!) in today's NY Times:
[In a speech in Iowa, Hillary said] that “there is one job we can’t afford on-the-job training for — that’s the job of our next president.” Her aides confirmed that she was referring to Obama.
Pressed to respond, Obama offered a zinger feathered with amused disdain: “My understanding was that she wasn’t Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, so I don’t know exactly what experiences she’s claiming.”
Everybody laughed, including Obama.
It took him nine months, but he finally found the perfect pitch to make a trenchant point.
Her Democratic rivals had meekly gone along, accepting her self-portrait as a former co-president who gets to take credit for everything important Bill Clinton did in the ’90s. But she was not elected or appointed.... And the part of the Clinton administration that worked best — the economy, stupid — was run by Robert Rubin. Hillary did not show good judgment in her areas of influence — the legal fiefdom, health care and running oppo-campaigns against Bill’s galpals.
She went on some first lady jaunts and made a good speech at a U.N. women’s conference in Beijing. But she was certainly not, as her top Iowa supporter, former governor Tom Vilsack claimed yesterday on MSNBC, “the face of the administration in foreign affairs.”
She was a top adviser who had a Nixonian bent for secrecy and a knack for hard-core politicking....
“She hasn’t accomplished anything on her own since getting admitted to Yale Law,” wrote Joan Di Cola, a Boston lawyer, in a letter to The Wall Street Journal this week, adding: “She isn’t Dianne Feinstein, who spent years as mayor of San Francisco before becoming a senator, or Nancy Pelosi, who became Madam Speaker on the strength of her political abilities. All Hillary is, is Mrs. Clinton. She became a partner at the Rose Law Firm because of that, senator of New York because of that, and (heaven help us) she could become president because of that.”
UPDATE, FEB. 9, 2008: Pauline Park at The Visible Vote has similar thoughts on this topic, in a good essay entitled Gloria Steinem & the Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton. Her whole post is worth reading, but here's a teaser (emphasis mine):[T]he single act that has arguably had the most impact on the lives of women — and African American women in particular — over the last decade is the so-called Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which Bill Clinton championed and signed into law. It is no coincidence that the welfare ‘reform’ act had the full support of Newt Gingrich and the right-wing Republicans to whom Bill and Hillary Clinton handed control of Congress in 1994, because the welfare ‘deform’ law (as many progressive activists call it) was straight out of the Republican playbook. The Clintons played into the discourse of poor women of color as ‘welfare queens’ and the Clinton administration’s policies not only did nothing to help them, Clinton policies deepened poverty among poor women of color and their children. The PRWORA had and still has the full support of Hillary Clinton, which tells one all one needs to know about Hillary’s politics. And yet, this is the kind of politics that Gloria Steinem apparently considers feminist and progressive — which demonstrates clearly that neither Gloria Steinem nor Hillary Clinton are either feminist or progressive.
Hillary Clinton also served on the board of Wal-Mart while the corporation engaged in massive and systematic discrimination against women and people of color — something else that, in my view, fails to qualify Hillary as a feminist or a progressive. *** [Note from Thersites: article about HRC's boosterism of WalMart here.]
The false feminism that Clinton and Steinem articulate is one in which the mere election of a women to elective office is held to be an intrinsically transformative moment. But having lived for two years under Margaret Thatcher’s iron-handed rule, I can assure you that Thatcher was no feminist and her election represented no victory for women, let alone for feminism. It is no coincidence that Ronald Reagan called her “the best man in England.” ... Maggie ... wielded power just like a man, and if anything, was tougher and more ruthless than any of her male predecessors — which is, of course, precisely how she rose to the premiership and how Hillary will seize the Democratic nomination this year if she does succeed in capturing it.
A good way to judge a person's character is by the enemies they make and the friends they embrace. Cicero said, "A friend is, as it were, a second self." So who are Hillary's "second selves," those whose support she has not rejected and who therefore give us insight into who her true "self" is?
- Fox News owner and arch-conservative Rupert Murdoch, who threw a fundraiser for her Senate re-election (which really was a fundraiser for her Presidential run, since she already had plenty of money and her re-election was secure). Every other Democratic candidate would have told Murdoch to go to hell.
- Henry Cuellar, "D"-TX, who's so conservative that he sat on the R side of the aisle during the State of the Union and enthusiastically hugged Bush afterward with the stupidest look of glee on his face.
- Jane Harman, "D"-CA, who knew about the administration's warrantless wiretapping program for years, supports it, and berated the NY Times for daring to tell the American people that their government is spying on hundreds of thousands of them in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
And we can now add both George and Laura to the chorus of bad people supporting Hillary, which sure suggests they know either (a) she's the most beatable in the general election, or (b) she's as pro-corporate as they are, and won't seriously rock the boat in ways that matter most to the brokers whom most of Washington serves (I favor this second interpretation). Dowd again:
President Bush is not so enamored of Obama’s foreign policy judgment. He gave a plug to Hillary on ABC News last night, calling her a “formidable candidate,” even under pressure, who “understands the klieg lights.” ... Laura Bush also gave Hillary a sisterly — and dynastic — plug when she told the anchor that living in the White House and meeting people everywhere would be “very helpful” to a first lady trading up.
I've had my doubts about Obama, but if George Bush thinks Obama's foreign policy is bad, it must be great. And if George and Laura, Henry Cuellar, Jane Harman, and even Rupert Murdoch support Hillary -- and she accepts their support! -- then there's something really wrong with her, and it's probably wise to run away. Fast.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
OK, so for some reason I woke up thinking about New Orleans, sad that such a beautiful and iconic city has been devastated and trying to imagine how difficult every Thanksgiving must be for all those people who've lost everything. Then I got to thinking about the fact that the Bush administration has so comprehensively screwed up every possible opportunity to make things better that I might even think it was intentional, if I were one of those unprofessional, dishonest, untrained-in-journalism "bloggers" I keep hearing about in the MSM (thank God I'm not one of those! They sound icky). And then I saw today's headlines, and vaguely remembered someone saying something about this some time ago...
Today's news: whites take a majority of the New Orleans City Council for the first time in decades; whites have returned to the city in much larger numbers than minorities; whites voted in much higher numbers than minorities; minorities seem to have given up on the city; this is seen as the biggest shift in New Orleans' political demographics since Reconstruction; and it's a predictor of how New Orleans, and Louisiana, are likely to vote in future Congressional and Presidential elections (ie, Republican).
And that vague memory of "someone" (ahem) predicting this? From VichyDems, February 23, 2006: "I really don't have a position on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's "Chocolate City" comment, other than t note that (a) it was politically unskilful, (b) New Orleans should be rebuilt and repopulated to be as close as possible to what it was before, which incidentally means majority people of color, (c) the efforts to rebuild the city so far have been criminally inept, and (d) I'm shocked, shocked to realize that those failures may result in the transformation of a Democratic stronghold in the South into just another Red commercial center."
April 24, 2006: Operation Sherman's March is Going Swimmingly: Here's the problem: a 'chocolate city'... Democratic stronghold in the land ... that God, in the Year of our Lord 1964, promised to the Republicans, otherwise known as Dixie... Hey, here's an idea! Don't upgrade the dikes and levees that protect the city .... When a world-class hurricane is announced, allow the middle-class and wealthy white people to leave early on clear roads, but do nothing to evacuate the poor who don't own cars (and who are afraid to leave their homes in high-crime neighborhoods). After the storm, respond clumsily, inconsistently, and late. Concentrate the survivors into camps ... and ... stadiums with little food, no health care, and no security. Then, when they're sick to their souls of the whole damned clusterfuck, give each of them just enough money to move away -- but not to move back...."
And Mary Landrieu , former D (now V for Vichy; or is it S for Stupid?)-LA, actually voted against filibustering Alito in exchange for the White House's promise to speed up aid to Katrina-stricken New Orleans. Stupid suckers who can't see the big picture don't deserve to represent us in high office, so Landrieu is high on the list for replacement in the next Democratic primaries. At least most of New Orleans' white population won't be voting in those...
Anyway, here's Parliament's "Chocolate City" for your listening pleasure. It's all New Orleans' African-American community has left: a dream, in an old song that only Ray Nagin remembers.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
This article's from last September -- and, Lord, I hate sending you to Fox News' site, but I can't find the article on AP -- but it's still timely. Not only does Fox News' Rupert Murdoch support Hillary, but so do some of the worst anti-Progressive "Democrats" the party has, including the hated Henry Cuellar (who sat on the R side of the aisle during the last State of the Union and hugged Bush ecstatically) and Jane Harman (who knew years earlier about the NSA wiretapping program and yet disclosed nothing -- then criticized the NYTimes for running the story when it found out about it -- and who Robert Dreyfuss lumps with Hillary (buncha links in that one post), Joe Lieberman (don't need links; see VichyDems' mission statement, above), and Rahm Emanuel as "weighing down" the Dem Party so much that it's "utterly incapable of anything like bold new thinking on national security").
These are not good people. Edwards would have told any of these people where to stick their endorsements, and even Obama -- with whom I've got my problems -- wouldn't truck with Murdoch, for God's sake. (Imagine what the Republican base would do to a R candidate who attended a fundraiser thrown by George Soros or even Barbra Streisand, and you'll see how ridiculous it is for Dems to tolerate Hillary taking money from Murdoch.)
So I say again: it can't be Hillary. It's not just this tiny White House Papers brouhaha -- hell, that's a red herring compared to her true antiprogressive credentials. And while I have my concerns with Barack, he's the ONLY one with the potential to beat her now, given that the big states have moved their primaries forward (which means that, no matter how much lip service we pay to democratic principles, only the two richest primary candidates have any shot at landing the nomination, because only they can afford huge TV ad buys this early in the campaign).
And the only way for Barack to beat Hillary is for him to form an Obama-Edwards ticket NOW, and for all the other Dems to drop out and put their support behind that ticket. Then we could have Obama for two terms, with Edwards in a good position to take the two terms behind that. Isn't that a much better option than Bush I - Clinton I - Bush II - Clinton II?
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Sunday, November 4, 2007
Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer vote to support Bush's new AG nominee, even though he won't admit waterboarding is torture.
And Hillary Clinton -- who is backed by Rupert Murdoch and Fox News (seriously!), who voted both for the Iraq war and now for the Iran terrorism resolution, who supports the (now-disproven) DLC position on free trade (ie, free trade without insisting on fair trade, killing the American worker), etc. -- is the front runner in the Presidential race even though most Democrats would prefer someone else and many Americans have strong feelings against her, putting our otherwise-guaranteed win in the '08 Presidential race at risk.
Good article/poll results on where Hillary really stands here.
I predicted this a year ago, dammit. And I'm tired of seeing our party wimp out and consistently either (a) sell out to corporate interests vs. real Americans, and/or (b) pander to an imaginary conservative/moderate center. So I haven't been posting to VichyDems; why bother? We had a great opportunity to really lead the nation, and we're blowing it yet again.
Here's what I'd love to see -- what would energize me: for all the Democratic Presidential candidates besides Hillary to huddle together and make a bold, outside-the-box move: decide that the best ticket would be Obama-Edwards, based just on current standings. Have Obama commit that every other candidate including Hillary will be offered a meaningful post in his administration. Then have every other candidate bow out of the primary race and urge their supporters to fully back Obama, consolidating the anti-Hillary position behind one candidate instead of allowing it to splinter (as, predictably, it will if they don't do something bold like this).
Doing so wouldn't reduce voter choice; it would increase it, by allowing voters a meaningful opportunity to choose a real progressive instead of a pro-corporate candidate who triangulates so much that she makes Richard Nixon look like a political naif.
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