Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

Trumped

November 29, 2016

donald-trump-choking

I’ve been trying to find some sort of silver lining in this election, but I can’t. This election has been a disaster on every level. We will be living with the consequences of this election for decades to come.

Last summer I expressed incredulity at the idea that the Clinton campaign would win the election by appealing to “moderate” Republicans – you know, the same moderate Republicans who failed to stop Trump from getting the nomination. Well, it appears that was actually their strategy. Sen. Chuck Schumer explained the idea: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” Clinton lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin. What is odd about Schumer’s argument is that he seems to assume that suburban Republicans are socially liberal. That sure as hell wasn’t true of the suburban Republicans that I grew up with. Such people vote Republican precisely because they are not socially liberal. The notion that they would choose Clinton over Trump was simply delusional.

I’m told that during the final weeks of the election, Bill Clinton vainly urged the campaign to reach out to working class voters – you know, the party’s actual voter base.

One can only shake one’s head.

Advertisements

Some Thoughts about the Election

July 31, 2016

the-new-yorker-who-is-donald-trump

Donald Trump now claims that his comment about getting Russia to look for Hillary’s missing e-mails was meant to be sarcastic. I don’t know about that. It didn’t sound like sarcasm at the time. Besides, Trump doesn’t do sarcasm. He does dismissive put-downs and childish insults, but not sarcasm. He deliberately pitches his rhetoric to people who can’t understand sarcasm (let alone irony).

I love these conservatives who are now recoiling in horror at Donald Trump. These people helped create the political base that enabled Trump’s rise to power. We should let them stew in their misery. The Democrats should not reach out to them. It was a mistake having Leon Panetta and Michael Bloomberg speak at the convention.

Contrary to Jeffrey St Clair’s claims in Counterpunch, Sanders did not betray his supporters. He said all along that he would support the party nominee. It’s not his fault if some of his supporters weren’t listening.

The Democrats set a neat little trap for Trump when they had that Muslim couple whose son was killed in Iraq speak at the convention. They expected Trump to say something stupid about this, and the Orange One obliged. Can you say “Pavlov’s dog”?

What Moderate Republicans?

May 7, 2016

Trump-rally-030516-800x430

According to Yahoo News, the Clinton campaign is considering ways to woo moderate Republican voters. My question is: what moderate Republican voters? Trump steamrolled the other Republican candidates. The “moderate” Kasich went nowhere. The only candidate who managed to put up any kind of fight against Trump was Ted Cruz, who is on the far right. So, where were all these moderate Republicans? Were they too busy watching Duck Dynasty to go vote? So, Clinton expects these moderate Republicans who didn’t stop Trump to help her stop Trump. Could it be that, outside of a few policy thinktanks, there aren’t many moderate Republicans left? I am old enough to remember a time when there were such things as liberal Republicans. They have gone the way of the dodo bird. Ever since Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, the Republican Party has been moving ever rightwards. (And this has been true of the Democratic Party since the 1980’s.) There probably aren’t many moderate Republicans left. Most of them have likely become either Indpendents or Libertarians or conservative Democrats.

Earlier this week, the Clinton campaign released a “brutal” ad attacking Trump. It’s all clips of Republicans, most of them the ones that Trump defeated in the primaries, criticizing. Who, exactly, is this ad supposed to appeal to? The Republicans who didn’t vote for these candidates? Democrats and Independents who despise these same politicians?

It doesn’t appear to me that the people in the Clinton camp know what they are doing.

A Thought on Black Lives Matter

August 10, 2015

Bernie-Sanders-Black-Lives-Matter-2869

As we all know by now, two members of Black Lives Matter recently prevented Bernie Sanders from speaking at a rally in Seattle in support of Social Security and Medicare. A number of Facebook friends of mine have tried to defend what they with the following argument: they forced Sanders to take more substantive positions on race issues. I can’t agree with this argument for two reasons. First, this tactic has clearly alienated many people who would otherwise be sympathetic towards Black Lives Matter. Was it really worth doing that just to get Sanders to take slightly better positions? Second, if you say that Sanders takes good positions just because two people forced him off the stage, that makes him look weak, doesn’t it? What good does that do?

The Hillary Clinton Juggernaut

March 31, 2015

Image: File of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivering remarks at the State Department  in Washington

Recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on social media. Whenever somebody makes a legitimate criticism of Hillary Clinton, there is always someone who responds by effectively saying, “So, you want the Republicans to win?” The assumption here seems to either be that Clinton has already won the Democratic nomination or that she is the only Democrat who can beat a Republican. The first is obviously false, the second is probably wrong.

Let’s discuss the first assumption. We’re a year away from the Democratic primaries, and yet many people seem to assume that Clinton has it all wrapped up. Many people made that same assumption back in 2008, when she lost to a brash young upstart named Barack Obama. The election is still a year away. A lot can happen between now and then.

As for Clinton being the only Democrat who can beat a Republican, that’s a weird assumption to make considering how much baggage Clinton is carrying. Has anyone carrying so much baggage ever been elected to the presidency before? Richard Nixon comes to mind, but he had been out of the public spotlight for a few years, so people had begun to forget what a turd the guy was. (He packaged himself as the “New Nixon”.) Clinton has been in the public eye almost continuously since 2008. During that time, she presided over the fiasco of the intervention in Libya. You can be sure the Republicans are going to talk about that.

As for the e-mail controversy, it’s not as trivial as some people claim. Clinton deleted over 30,000 e-mails. She says that they were strictly private in nature. Maybe, but we only have her word for it. Common sense dictates the government business should be conducted through government e-mail accounts. At the very least, Clinton showed poor judgment. And Clinton has a history of showing poor judgment, from Whitewater to the invasion of Iraq.

Back in 2003, it was clear to me that invading Iraq was a bad idea, but Clinton thought the plan was just swell. I’m supposed to trust the foreign policy judgment of someone like this? You’ve got to be kidding.

Harry Truman’s Shirts

August 14, 2014

Truman

Lately, I have been reading David McCullough’s biography of Harry Truman. I’m interested in the Truman administration, because it was a pivotal period in our nation’s history. One thing I like about McCullough’s book is that it does a lot to dispel the myth of “Give ‘Em Hell Harry”. McCullough shows that Truman was often indecisive, and that he was reluctant to make decisions that he knew would be unpopular. Among other things, McCullough makes it clear that Truman should have fired MacArthur months before he did. (Truman did have a temper though. He once threatened to throw Joseph Kennedy out of a hotel window. You can’t really blame him for wanting to do that.) Although McCullough is highly sympathetic to Truman, he is nevertheless critical of him at times. He argues, for example, that Truman’s Loyalty Program helped set the stage for McCarthyism.

McCullough is a skillful writer who is good at historical narrative, but his amassing of details began to annoy me after a while. He writes about such things as what clothes Truman wore and what he had for lunch on certain days. This is more than I really wanted to know about Truman. What makes this baffling is that he devotes one paragraph to the creation of NATO. And he says hardly anything about Truman’s policies towards post-war Germany. (Which was one of the issues I was interested in when I picked up this book.) Call me a philistine, but I think these topics would have been more interesting than Truman’s shirts.

Obamcare’s Tiny Dent

April 10, 2014

mad-scientist-movie1-300x238

President Obama and his supporters are crowing about how 7 million people have signed up for health insurance since Obamacare inched rolled out. This number sounds impressive, until one thinks about what it actually means. Writing in Firedoglake, Jon Walker tells us:

    Not all 7 million who have selected a plan on the exchange will actually get coverage because they won’t follow through with paying their premiums. Sebelius said about 80-90% of people who have signed up so far have actually paid their first premium. If we assume roughly 15% of people won’t fully complete the process the roughly 7 million signups should translates to about 6 million people actually being covered by exchange policies this year.

The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, tells us that 8 million people have “gained coverage” since last September. For the sake of argument, let’s take the Time‘s more optimistic figure of 8 million. (It’s not clear whether all of these people were uninsured before. For the sake of argument, let’s assume they were.) According to all the sources I’ve consulted, the number of Americans without health insurance before Obamacare seeped rolled out was around 44 million. That would mean that there are still about 36 million uninsured Americans. So, even when we make the most optimistic assumptions, it is still clear that Obamacare has been a failure.

Ah, but we live in the Age of Public Relations, in which every failure can be presented as a success. So we are told, for example, that the Iraq War was a success, even though, by every objective standard, it was a failure.

Single payer is the only way to solve the health care crisis in this country.

Obamacare Rolls Out

November 21, 2013

Clive, Colin (Frankenstein)_02

After hearing all the horror stories about HealthCare.gov, I decided to use California’s exchange site, CoveredCa.com. I must say, it worked well, although it had an annoying habit of asking certain questions over and over again. (I’ve had this problem with websites before. Somebody needs to explain to web designers that it’s only necessary to ask a question once.) Within a matter of minutes I had applied for coverage. Not bad.

So how is it that the State of California, which has its own proud history of corruption and incompetence, was able to do a better job of the roll-out than the federal government was? The Obama Administration had over two years to prepare for this, and they did a lousy job. Perhaps this is a sign that Obama has never really cared about the health care crisis in this country. When he ran for president, he was pressured to come up with a health care proposal, so he opted for an idea that the Republicans came up with to try to derail calls for single payer. No doubt he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to call for Medicare for All, and besides, that wasn’t what the insurance industry wanted.

The Democratic Party and the U.S. Left

September 9, 2013

Democraticjackass

Salon has an interesting article by David Sirota about the current state of the anti-war movement in the U.S. In it, he writes:

    So what happened to that movement? The shorter answer is: It was a victim of partisanship.

    That’s the conclusion that emerges from a recent study by professors at the University of Michigan and Indiana University. Evaluating surveys of more than 5,300 anti-war protestors from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that the many protestors who self-identified as Democrats “withdrew from anti-war protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success” in the 2008 presidential election.

This confirms something I have long suspected. I remember talking to people at anti-war demonstrations during the 2000’s. Many of them seemed to me to be motivated by a visceral hatred for Bush and Cheney rather than by an actual opposition to war and imperialism. During the run-up to the 2004 election, they would tell of their intention to vote for one of the two anti-war Democrats, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich. When Dean and Kucinich lost in the primaries, these people simply transferred their allegiance to John Kerry, a staunch supporter of the war. It was no surprise to me, then, that these people dropped out of the movement when a Democrat was finally elected to the White House.

Many Americans seem to have an emotional commitment to the two-party system that defies logic and common sense. For them, being a Republican or a Democrat is more than merely a matter of which party one votes for, it is an existential question, something that determines their very sense of identity.

I was at the Oregon Country Fair a couple of years ago, and I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that had pictures of George W. Bush and Hitler on it. It said: DIFFERENT NAMES, SAME SHIT. I was tempted to say to him, “Since Obama has continued many of Bush’s policies, does that mean he is also just like Hitler?” I didn’t ask this, but I suspect that if I had, the question would have made no sense to him. For a certain type of person, the mere fact that Obama is a Democrat means that he cannot be anything at all like Bush.

Our two main political parties originated in the nineteenth century, and both have radically evolved away from their original platforms. Many people simply can’t conceive of a world without them. Karl Marx once said, “The dead weight of the past weighs like a nightmare upon the brains of the living.” The older I get, the more convinced I become of the profound truth of that observation.

Hotel California

July 8, 2013

California Prisons

California’s prison system is a disgrace. Today, prisoners at the Pelican Bay prison are going on a hunger strike to protest the fact that they have been in solitary confinement for years, and in some cases, for decades. At almost the same time, there have been revelations that between 2006 and 2010, the prison system sterilized almost 150 women:

    Crystal Nguyen, a former Valley State Prison inmate who worked in the prison’s infirmary during 2007, said she often overheard medical staff asking inmates who had served multiple prison terms to agree to be sterilized.

    “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right,’ ” Nguyen, 28, said. “Do they think they’re animals, and they don’t want them to breed anymore?”

Eugenics is alive and well in the Golden State. Ah, but that is not the only problem. Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated that he will not comply with a court order that he reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons, which are currently at 200% of their capacity. The courts have ordered the governor to reduce the prison population so that the prisons are at 137.5% capacity. That is, they are merely asking the state to make the prisons a little less overcrowded. Yet even that is too much for Gov. Brown, who wants to appeal the case to the Supreme Court a second time, even though the high court has already ruled that the state must comply with the lower court’s ruling.

Oh, and California is considered a “liberal” state.