May 27, 2008

 

C'mon people now

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For those of you who share my passion for politics, I highly recommend recent features by two of my favorite writers. Both have given me much to think about regarding the national election in November, not the least of which is the possibility that, despite my contempt for the DNC, I may not vote third party as anticipated.

James Wolcott's latest in Vanity Fair offers a balanced account of the problems the Democratic Party is headed into (as a Hillary voter, no less). He nails the fact that all of the primary scrapping is, partly, just another thing in a long line of Democrats giving a major pass to the Bush administration's dirty deeds.

Over at Rolling Stone, the always astute and often causticly hilarious Matt Taibbi gives his take on the Obama-Clinton duel. Taibbi leans toward Obama but certainly doesn't give him a pass, a minority stance in the starstruck media which, along with the fact that he gets paid, likely irks the shit out of all the HuffPo suckers.

Two juicy excerpts for the busy/link averse:


WOLCOTT

Cheney’s sarcastic “So?” (when an interviewer mentioned that two-thirds of the American people thought the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting) was a spit in the eye of not only the American people but of the critics of the Iraq policy whom he could treat as irrelevant, and why not? Since 9/11, he and the president had had a free hand and played it for all it was worth. Four thousand American dead is a small down payment to make for a permanent imperial presence in Iraq, and John McCain promises to be a stalwart caretaker of the desert franchise, girding his eyebrows to fend off naysayers and quitters. What really twists the intestines into a knot is knowing that Democrats will probably be as ineffectual going after McCain as they’ve been for these last seven years of sagebrush theater. Top Democrats and media flunkies have been both idly and actively complicit in McCain’s maverick identity getting a Holy Ghost makeover. Hillary and Bill Clinton have taken turns polishing McCain’s hood while Joe Lieberman pals around with Big John as if they were touring in La Cage aux Folles, two old queens taking in the sunset. As Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler blog decried, “The RNC [Republican National Committee] (and the rest of the conservative world) would never have tolerated the sanctification of some Big Major Democrat of McCain’s type. But liberals and Dems have stared into space as McCain has been endlessly vested with sainthood.” Democrats have pulled their punches for so long that they know only how to hit themselves in the face, earning the reputation for masochism that gives Dick Cheney a good chuckle each night at bedtime as he’s being packed in ice.




TAIBBI

Obama's real weakness is that nobody really knows yet what he's all about. He is running as a symbol of a new politics, a politics somehow less disgusting and full of shit than the old politics. But if it were to get out that he's not that —that all he is is the same old deal dressed up in black skin and a natty suit —then he quickly morphs into a different kind of symbol, a symbol of how an essentially bankrupt political system can seamlessly repackage itself to a fed-up marketplace by making cosmetic changes, without altering its basic nature. There have been disturbing signs along that front, from the accusations that Obama aides called his anti-NAFTA stance "just politics," to his angry stumpery against a Maytag plant closing even as he pals around with Lester Crown, a Maytag board member who raised huge sums for his campaign. Right now, Obama has millions of voters thinking Santa Claus really does exist; but if he keeps getting caught turning the usual tricks with campaign donors, attention is going to shift away from his heroic image and toward the prosaic reality, which in politics is always grubby and depressing. And with that, his value as a symbol will evaporate, and Christmas turns into just another holiday with those same relatives you hated every other day of the year.


On a personal note, SOMEONE is going to have to pull unity out of their ass to avoid passing up an unprecedented opportunity for Democrats to capitalize on what is likely to be massive voter turnout this November. This whole "I'll vote for McCain" bullshit is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. What the hell good are Clinton supporter's "I told you sos" in the face of four more years of Republican veto power?
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Comments:
I like that excerpt from Taibbi. Good find. Doesn't matter now though.
 
I'm concerned that the Donks will yet again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. People in MI and FL are pretty upset that we still are arguing to seat our delegates. Two big swing states that they are really pissing off and may vote Republican because they are treating us like we don't count. "Rules are rules" we lose the general election so that we can enforce a stupid rule. As far as giving Bush a pass: he's not running again, so what is the point of going over this again? Yes, he is probably the anti-Christ and Cheney the Devil, but face it: they will never be touched and everybody knows it. Better to move foreard and not waste energy on the blame game.
 
it'll all be over soon enough.

oh, and your max is amazing-as-ever!
 
"Two big swing states that they are really pissing off and may vote Republican because they are treating us like we don't count."Rules are rules" we lose the general election so that we can enforce a stupid rule."

Then why have rules at all?

Frankly, I think that all primaries should be held on the same day like the G.E., but until that happens, this is the system that all agreed to across the country. The Dems in Fla. and Mi. wanted to be "more important" and so they violated the rules with a FULL WARNING about what would happen if they did. All the candidates agreed to stay off of the ballot, and all but Clinton, who was at the time assuming that she was a shoo-in as of Super Tuesday, kept their word on that.

Now, it turns out that she wasn't the shoo-in she figured she'd be, and those votes are now important. She says that these people's votes need to be counted now that they can do HER some good. Some of her followers are even going around saying that it was Obama who got those votes discounted because they didn't help HIM. What palpable nonsense. If she really feels so strongly about every vote counting, why did she join everyone else in approving the sanctions?

So why have rules at all? Specifically, the one that prevents New Mexicans from voting in primaries if they are registered as Independents? I'm feeling pretty damn "disenfranchised" right now. It's very possible that NM could have gone to Obama if the DTS voters could participate. If election rules aren't going to apply to EVERYONE, why the fuck should they apply to ME, of all people?

Furthermore, I hear a lot of people saying that not counting the votes in Mi. and Fla. is unfair to Clinton because she "won" those states. What about being fair to the other candidates? It's easy to win an election when your opponent isn't even on the ballot! How can any delegate be seated FAIRLY unless new elections, with everyone who should have been on the ballot in the first place as a candidate, is held? Why should that be done when this situation was explained in detail by the DNC beforehand?

If people in Mi. were going to vote Republican, with more war, more spending, and nothing but a "Nice job, now go fuck yourself" to the soldiers ANYWAY, then they are in the right to do so in November. However, any Democrats, or people who would have voted Democrat that change their vote only to PUNISH America because they weren't allowed to break the rules, what can I say? Those people would not be good Americans or good people, and their haughty "I told you so" will take the form of four more years worth of needlessly dead soldiers.

As far as the "blame game" goes, all I can say is this. When you pick and choose like Americans do when justice will or will not be sought, you illustrate the value of justice itself. As I've said before, justice isn't much to us, not as much as revenge is. It is interesting that in a country that considers justice to be a primary ideal, there are so many who support prosecuting tax frauds but not war crimes, so many for whom a lie about a blowjob is unforgivable but a hundred lies that cause death, destruction, and economic woe are not worth pursuing.

Both attitudes, the one about the election and the one about the war crimes show that for most of America, there is no such thing as an absolute ideal. Ideals in America are no more than tools to use for advancing the agenda at hand.
 
Well said in your last part, Joe. As far as the MI and FLA debacle, the DNC sure has a mess on its hands, caused by a screwy primary system with rules that need to be exponentially simplified.

You might find interesting the letter that the Michigan Democrats sent to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. An excerpt (emphasis mine):

"...While Michigan Democrats were disappointed that our state was not selected for one of the pre-window contests, we appreciated the new rule for adding a bit of much-needed diversity to the early nominating process, and as a first step toward breaking the Iowa-New Hampshire lock on the process. We notified the DNC that we would abide by the new calendar and its sequence provided that other states did the same. To be clear – the key issue which the new rule resolved was the sequence of the pre-window states, not just the number of pre-window states.

But at a press conference in Dover, NH last August 9, the New Hampshire Secretary of State indicated he was going to schedule his state’s primary before the date specified in the DNC rule, clearly defying the sequence and timing the Rules and Bylaws Committee had set. Michigan Democratic leaders wrote to Governor Dean asking if the DNC intended to enforce the rule against New Hampshire, but the DNC refused to act or even to answer our letters for months.

The Democratic National Committee then proceeded to selectively enforce its calendar rule. On December 3, the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to give New Hampshire a waiver to move from third to second place in the sequence. Michigan requested a waiver and was denied. When the Rules and Bylaws Committee itself decided not to follow its own newly adopted, hard-fought for rules and granted a waiver to New Hampshire, it set the stage for the present situation.
 
Yes, O'Tim, I see the point (and also notice that while Michigan's side is presented, the DNC's is not), and as I said I believe that all primaries should be on the same day, perhaps in mid-May. However, this leads me back to the old time-worn analogy (and I know it's worn because I'M the one that keeps wearing it!) of the children playing. If your kid is playing soccer and you see someone else's kid cheating and getting away with it, do you then instruct your child to cheat? Some will, some won't. Those that do will ALWAYS bring the game to a halt when it's their child who is caught rather than the first child, with much indignation and finger-pointing. The fact is that Michigan helped "set the stage for the present situation" by making such a damn big deal out of it. They wanted their primary to be more important than it usually is. They COULD have used the next four years to publicize and complain about this and possibly have a new system in place by 2012. But they had to have their headlines NOW, didn't they, and the damage is now far beyond having a primary that's "too late in the year to really matter." The irony is that in THIS particular year, they could have had their primary at the usual time and gotten all the attention and publicity they wanted, since it wasn't over on Super Tuesday the way the Clinton camp expected it to be. This is the year of all years when this struggle is not only wholly unnecessary, but also potentially more damaging than it would be if we'd had one clear winner from the start like the Repubs had. And while this is said just about every election year, this year the stakes really are high.

It doesn't let Clinton off the hook, either, since the agreement she and the other candidates signed had no caveats as far as I know. She said one thing when she was presuming that she would be the nominee, and changed course when Super Tuesday gave her a surprise. She is actually willing to use the results of a primary that she knows is skewed since she was the only one on the ballot, a ballot she wasn't supposed to be on either. She doesn't want them "disenfranchised" yet seems to have no concern for the disenfranchisement of those that wanted to vote for the other candidates, or those who didn't bother to vote because they'd already been told it wouldn't count. That attitude of entitlement, that sense that the only reality is what comes from her mouth (much like the fancy math that gives her a lead in the popular vote, in her mind at least) is one of the things I hate most about the current administration. I have to wonder how her various perspectives on our issues might change as soon as that inauguration is over. Furthermore, some folks on her side have made a lot of noise about how the problems with Mi. and Fl. were all arranged personally by Obama. They repeat it in an attempt to foster feeling of hatred against Obama in those states, which is counterproductive to the big picture and is directly from The Rules According to Rove.

It's when they start using McCain as a sword of Damocles to threaten the entire world with that they lose all- and I mean ALL- of my sympathy. I have family ties to Michigan, but balanced against the welfare of the entire world their feelings just don't mean that much to me. If they need to be angry, they should be angry at the party leaders in their state, not at Obama and not at America. How can the feelings of voters in two states, who had forewarning of these events, be anything but paltry when compared to four more years of dead soldiers, or the unavailability of health care for millions? By making a bad, avoidable decision out to be a major problem, they give all of us the opportunity to learn what major problems we could REALLY have.
 
Joe, it seems your wisdom is needed in the DNC, for after yesterday's shining compromise/affirmative action of giving delegates to someone who didn't earn them (at a rate worse than the status of slaves in the Constitution), I predict the Dems have just thrown the election. Say what you want about Clinton in blame for everything under the Democrat sun (guess that unity is on backorder), but she can't be blamed for Obama's flaws as a candidate.
 
Which are, in your view? Come on, Tim, I gave you specifics as to what I didn't like about Clinton and you treat me like I'm just shooting blame from the hips with nothing to back it up. You seem to start with a compliment but then switch to speaking down to me, as if a real debate with me would be useless because I couldn't or wouldn't be willing to discuss this objectively. Was my argument above really that emotional? Re-reading it, it seems I endeavored to be quite rational. Surely you have more to defend Hillary with than a simple off-handed dismissal of my remarks?

Now, are you actually telling me that giving all the delegates to Clinton when she was the only one on the ballot and had actually agreed to NOT be on the ballot like everyone else would be fair and democratic? Please detail to me how you could consider that election to be anywhere near proper.

Please also answer to the fact that even with both states, Clinton would not have caught up to Obama. Do you feel that Obama's lead is the result of DNC and media chicanery, as I've heard so many people say? Or could it be her stances and words that have left her with less support on paper than she expected, as I have maintained is the case with me?
 
"Re-reading it, it seems I endeavored to be quite rational."

Instead of being so impressed by your own debating skills, Joe, perhaps you should re-read my post, particularly the Taibbi excerpt. I chose it because it aptly reflects my view of Obama, a case that I have made elsewhere in the blogosphere, accompanied almost an equal number of times with the pronouncement that I am no fan of Clinton.

This post reflects that, regardless of my distaste for the DNC and both of its front-runners, I was considering it might be important for me to at least vote once again against the Republicans as I did with Kerry in 2004. For me to continue defending or detailing any support for Clinton (more than I have with you or anyone else, and beyond my feeling that she is the better candidate) would indeed be a waste of time. I regret getting my ire up in response to your apparent goal of coming here to argue with me and Tim, but at least you can take credit for helping push me back toward considering that neither Democrat deserves my vote.

Maybe when all is said and done our country will be on the road that I've long hoped it would travel - dismantling the two-party system.
 
"considering that neither Democrat deserves my vote."

You're waiting for a candidate - from any party- that DESERVES your vote?

How long do you plan to live?

"I regret getting my ire up in response to your apparent goal of coming here to argue with me and Tim"

Oh, so sorry to come here and express an opinion contrary to yours, and to support it even. How rude of me.I should have known better than to do that on a political post.

"perhaps you should re-read my post, particularly the Taibbi excerpt"

You see, I thought you might have thoughts of your own, problems with Obama that are not predicated upon two "if"s. I never said, as you seem to think I did, that Obama is the perfect candidate, but frankly, the fact that I DO know what McCain and Clinton are about is what frightens me. But this last part isn't in agreement, so I'll slither back under my bridge and pester you with my uneducated drivel no more.
 
Shit, I forgot that you feel there is little reason for you to watch, read or generally consider the political opinions of others, especially those who get paid to express them. After all, you might be influenced by them! By all means enjoy formulating more opinions in your dank, dark vacuum.
 
And you accuse me of condescension after writing THAT? I respected you enough to ask for YOUR thoughts in addition to the pundit's. After all, you have not always been a pundit booster. Ann Coulter is paid to publish her opinions also. I guess if YOU pick a pundit to quote, it is just arrogant of me to question what he says in any way. I disagree with O'Tim, so it's pretty fucking obvious that I'm ill- or mis-informed. If I weren't in a dank, dark, vacuum, I guess I'd have to see that you're absolutely right!

And you have the nerve to tell me to check MY ego?
 
Obama voted against invading Iraq, and he turned out to be 100% right. Nobody could vote that way back then without risking his political neck. The linked articles ignore that sword-in-the-stone test, despite the fact that Clinton and McCain both failed it. In voting against the war, Obama showed qualities of strength and judgment notably absent from public life for years, and the way he ran his campaign gave no reason for anybody to change his mind. No doubt he'll fuck up--they all do, sooner or later-- but I'll take an Obama fuckup over two McCain wars and four Clinton schemes.
 
Obama never voted against the war. Before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Illinois state Senator Obama was a merely a candidate running for U.S. Senate. He did vociferously scold the Bush administration for its actions toward Iraq, and seven months into the war candidate Obama said he would have unequivocally voted against an $87 billion appropriation because "at a certain point, we have to say 'no' to George Bush." He pleased a lot of anti-war liberals with rhetoric like, "If [Democrats] keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance."

But Obama's typical slide into politics as usual (and politics often a long diameter from my own) have me somewhat doubting his sincerity and seriously doubting his ability to be the agent of change that he has still so effectively convinced millions of liberals he is. Contrary to a being a neck-sticker-outer, the ambitious and savvy politician muted his Iraq stance before he even got to D.C. Realizing that both members of his party's 2004 presidential ticket had voted to authorize military action in Iraq, he toned down his eloquent criticism of the war and aligned with the safe, Joe Lieberman-influenced position of Congress not using its power over the purse strings to force the war to end.

Indeed, since gaining the office of junior Senator from Illinois, Obama has alienated the liberal base that helped elect him by voting in favor of every multi-billion dollar appropriation for the war in Iraq. He became more concerned about his political future and (ironically) with avoiding Republican accusations of "harming the troops" than with ending the war. Any display of strength and good judgment not ruled by self-interest quickly fell by the wayside on the new Senator's bottle rocket ride toward Campaign '08, a condition of which all the Democratic presidential candidates besides Dennis Kucinich have similarly suffered. The war is not the only thing he has flipped or been vague on - add issues involving energy, labor and lobbying, to name a few.

But it is his stance on Iraq that strikes me as the most equivocal, the dregs being that he has said on a number of occasions since 2003 that he did not have access to the classified intelligence that members of Congress saw then, and he might have voted differently if he had. Again irony reigns supreme considering where the 2003 "intelligence" led.

I suppose I could say that I get excited by Obama changing his mind as opposed to his much more common habit of silence and his Senate "present" or "not voting" actions. But at this point all I can muster up enough excitement to say is I hope McCain doesn't win in November. Pretty fucked up, eh?
 
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