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Archive for June 5th, 2008

Obama’s First Test is Handling Clinton

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:47 am by HL

Obama’s First Test is Handling Clinton
Until Sen. Barack Obama “deals with the Clinton question,” it could be hard for him “to move on to what he would like to achieve next,” the New York Times observes.

But Clinton’s “actions on Tuesday could not have raised her stock with Mr. Obama. Whether she intended to or not, her remarks pulled the spotlight away from him, reminding him that in many ways, she is a character that is hard to push off the stage.”

Roger Simon: “For someone giving indications she would like to be Obama’s running mate, Clinton was surprisingly ungracious. In fact, if you had just awakened from a (blissful) 17-month sleep, you would have thought she had won.”

“But her fighting words only increased the need for Obama to show that he can be strong, tough and in charge. Clinton’s unwillingness to recognize Obama as the victor only increased the need for Obama to act like a president and not like a doormat. And denying her a vice presidential slot may be a way of doing that.”

CBS Poll: Obama Leads McCain Nationally
Sen. Barack Obama holds a six point lead over Sen. John McCain, 48% to 42% with 6% undecided, according to a new CBS News poll.

Key finding: “Twelve percent of Democrats say they will support McCain in the general election. That’s higher than the 8 percent of Democrats who defected to President Bush in 2004. Nearly a quarter of Clinton supporters say they will back McCain instead of Obama in the general election.”


How Right-Wing Crap Polluted The Waters For Democrats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:46 am by HL

How Right-Wing Crap Polluted The Waters For Democrats
Both the Hillary Clinton and the Barack Obama camps emerged from this bruising primary flinging potent, and somewhat mirrored accusations at each other: that the Clinton camp had indulged in racism and racist appeals, and conversely that the Obama camp was rife with sexism. I wonder if, when they step back from the outcome and think about what’s happened, they’ll be able to recognize where these lines of thought originated …

played-by-the-right.JPGBoth the Hillary Clinton and the Barack Obama camps emerged from this bruising primary flinging potent, and somewhat mirrored accusations at each other: that the Clinton camp had indulged in racism and racist appeals, and conversely that the Obama camp was rife with sexism. I wonder if, when they step back from the outcome and think about what’s happened, they’ll be able to recognize where these lines of thought originated — and why it’s a bad idea to continue indulging them.

Both charges, as it happens, actually arise out of what I think were core beliefs held by people in the competing camps. In the Clinton camp it was widely believed that a black man, especially one with as little experience as Obama, could not win the general election. Among Obama’s supporters, it was widely held that Hillary similarly couldn’t win — not because she was a woman, but because she was that kind of woman: an unpleasant, grasping, overly ambitious bitch who turned people off. These beliefs in turned spawned the very real behavior within those camps that produced the competing charges against the other.

Both of these beliefs, as it happens, were originally right-wing talking points spouted by the Limbaughs and Goldbergs of the right, regurgitated by supposedly mainstream pundits like Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd, and gradually spread throughout our political discourse.

They were convenient talking points for partisans to absorb, ways to differentiate people’s choices between two politicians who in reality are so close politically as to be nearly twins policy-wise. And they have damned near poisoned the waters for Democrats within their own party.

This struck me awhile back. Just as an example: I was talking to one of my oldest friends, a smart and politically involved woman who makes her living as a jewelrymaker in Missoula, Montana, back in early February, shortly after the Washington State caucuses, when I had largely been won over to the Obama camp. She was already ardently pro-Obama, but when the subject of Hillary came up, I was a bit taken aback by how viscerally she disliked the woman: she was cold, calculating, unsympathetic, too ambitious … a bitch.

I’m sure she was as taken aback by the forcefulness of my reply: She sounded, I told her, like the women I used to meet when I went to militia meetings, the ones who sold books like Big Sister Is Watching You (all about the secret coven of witches operating out of the White House then); or for that matter, like the average Rush Limbaugh listener. The women who absorbed and internalized all that right-misogyny rampant in those worlds. And they all used the same kind of visceral I-can’t-explain-it-I-just-hate-her rationale.

Well, she replied, I don’t listen to Limbaugh or right-wing talk radio or watch Fox, but I still feel that way about her.

Of course not, I replied. But you live in Montana. And my friend was far from the only person I knew from various parts of the rural West who had voiced their feelings about Hillary similarly (nor was she the last). It’s like something in the water; the right-wing gasbags had enjoyed so many years of spewing undiluted crap into the public discourse about Hillary — a lot of it with origins on the far far right — that it had just become pervasive. It is almost “common sense” to scowl at the sound of Hillary’s name. Besides, she might not listen to Limbaugh, but I bet her brothers or their friends did, or her husband’s right-wing family, or some of the people she did business with. When it’s something spewed that long enough and without any effort to stanch it or stand up to it, it becomes almost ambient.

That’s how right-wing crap works. It’s not meant to advance or even partake of discourse; it’s meant to end it. One can argue the worth of Hillary’s policies or her voting record or her position on the war till the cows come home; but when she’s reduced to being a bitch, that pretty much ends the discussion. And when it’s as pervasive as it’s become in the past decade, its effects are paralyzingly toxic.

And it’s important to remember that the same holds true regarding right-wing attitudes about a black man like Obama winning the White House. The most polite versions of right-wing cant hold that Obama’s not experienced enough to be president, but the underlying drumbeat of this meme has been all about his foreign-sounding name or his supposed Muslim ties or his “weakness” on national security … about his being a black man.

The impolite version — expressed only in certain quarters — is that his being a black man disqualifies him from the presidency; the filtered Pat Buchanan version of this is that “white working class voters” will never vote for a black man. I hear that Limbaugh is updating a prior race-baiting schtick by calling him the “Donovan McNabb of politics.”

So when you hear Hillary’s supporters argue that American voters will not elect a black man president in 2008 — and use that as a major reason to support their candidate instead — they’re just regurgitating old right-wing crap. Toxic right-wing crap.

Progressives need to wake up and realize they’re being played and refuse to buy into toxic crap that they should not, must not, be about. At some point we need to stand back and take stock and realize that damage has been done and it needs repairing, both for the short and the long term.

Jack Turner the other day had a terrific, must-read post reflecting on this:

Last week, after talking with several Hillary Clinton supporters, I had an epiphany: that which I most dislike about the darker sides of her and her campaign is just what some people see in me. It’s the worst feeling, to end up displaying traits you deplore, and I’d like to explore it a bit as we move to the general election.

Let’s all acknowledge some realities here that fly in the face of right-wing bullshit. Hillary is a superb politician and a fighter, a master of policy whose competence and qualifications are unquestionable — and she is far from the cold, ugly human being the right and now her left-wing critics wish to paint her as. Obama, likewise, is a supremely gifted politician and a natural leader capable of convention-shattering feats, whose qualities in those regards progressives should never underestimate — though of course, it’s our hope that the right will.

The sooner both sides — not just the leaders at the top, but the rank and file troops — acknowledge these realities, and reject the right’s pervasive and toxic crap, the better off we will all be.


Squeezing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:44 am by HL

Squeezing
Productivity goes up when output/labor hour goes up, which can happen if the numerator grows or the denominator falls. You can’t squeeze more out of fewer workers forever, but you can short term.

WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity rose sharply in the first quarter despite a weak economy, according to revised government data, suggesting companies have responded quickly to soft demand by shedding workers and cutting back on hours.


Maybe We Should Outsource Our Sex Education to Mexico

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:43 am by HL

Maybe We Should Outsource Our Sex Education to Mexico
Bush’s abstinence-based sex education programs are failing. No kidding.

Quick, We’ve Got to Become Players in the Global Media Game Before Corporations Control the Whole Thing
Progressives need to step up and invest in global digital media. Here’s how they can do it.


In Louisiana, McCain Claims He Voted For Every Katrina Investigation — Except He Didn’t

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:42 am by HL

In Louisiana, McCain Claims He Voted For Every Katrina Investigation — Except He Didn’t
During his press conference today in Baton Rouge, John McCain declared in strong terms that he’s voted for every investigation of Hurricane Katrina. The only problem, as the DNC has been pointing out to reporters, is he voted twice against…


The Daily Muck

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:41 am by HL

The Daily Muck
The United States has used as many as 17 ships, or “floating prisons,” to interrogate prisoners, a British rights group alleges. The Pentagon denies the claims, yet an official said it was possible U.S. Navy ships had temporarily held combatants…


Now, The Fun Begins

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:40 am by HL

Now, The Fun Begins

This was an unpleasant primary process. The Democratic Party which began proud of its historically diverse field of candidates ended up suffering from race and gender divisions.

Yet, neither racism or sexism won the day.

While questions about a female commander-in-chief were pondered early on, Sen. Clinton’s capacity to be commander-in-chief was ultimately not judged by her gender. In turn, she blazed a path for future women candidates to follow.

Obama was more directly challenged by racial issues later in the campaign, with some voters publicly expressing bigoted sentiments. Yet he still won plenty of predominantly white states on his way to the nomination, including final victories in Oregon and Montana.

Most importantly, after facing a litany of guilt-by-association attacks and other smears, he still remains ahead of McCain in nearly every poll.

Now, we can turn our attention to the battle against Sen. John McCain and the flagging conservative movement.

We have an golden opportunity to bury the failed conservative policies of the last eight years.

We can eagerly engage a clear contrast between guaranteeing health care for all and trashing employer health benefits for many.

Between Social Security and privatization.

Between investing in our foundation or letting America continue to crumble.

Between a clean energy future, or more double talk not backed up with votes.

Most importantly, we have a principled, seasoned and skilled candidate willing and able to challenge conservatism on most every front.

When the predictable “soft” and “weak” attacks arise, there will be no crouching into a timid ball, merely confirming the charge.

There will only be cool defiance, leading the way for all of us to fundamentally reframe the debate.

Will there be more nastiness to come? Probably.

But do not let that get you down. There is way too much to be excited about, and too much fun to be had.

Let’s get to it.


Judge lets Blackwater open San Diego site

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Judge lets Blackwater open San Diego site
Military contractor sued to force city to issue permits; S.D.: We were misled.


McClellan-based ?docudrama? in the works.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

McClellan-based ?docudrama? in the works.
Politico reports today that “buzz is already beginning to build” about a possible film based on former press secretary Scott McClellan’s tell-all book. “We’ve been talking to TV people, and interest is starting to come, but it’s too early to say anything,” McClellan’s literary agent told Politico. The film could compliment other Bush-based movies, including […]

Politico reports today that “buzz is already beginning to build” about a possible film based on former press secretary Scott McClellan’s tell-all book. “We’ve been talking to TV people, and interest is starting to come, but it’s too early to say anything,” McClellan’s literary agent told Politico. The film could compliment other Bush-based movies, including Oliver Stone’s “W”, starring Josh Brolin as the 43rd president.


For Obama, No Time to Stop and Savor Victory

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

For Obama, No Time to Stop and Savor Victory
To the victor go the headaches. There were no champagne toasts for Barack Obama after he clinched the Democratic nomination Tuesday night. His wife, Michelle, and a group of friends returned to Chicago on a separate plane. The senator from Illinois spent much of his post-rally time in Minnesota…

Bush Talks With Israeli Author Before Meeting With Olmert
Before conferring with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel yesterday, President Bush held an unannounced meeting this week with onetime Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, another prominent Israeli with whom the president has forged a friendly and intriguing relationship.