Archive | October, 2007

Issue IX: Election 2008 – The Case Against Everyone (especially Hillary)

29 Oct

A lot of people wanted me to give my opinions on the presidential election, and who I’ll be voting for in the primaries. Its pretty clear at this point that I’ll be voting the Democratic primary, and I’ll be voting for whichever candidate can beat Hillary Clinton at that point (be it Obama or Edwards). But the point of this e-mail is show what is wrong with each candidate and where they stand on my two biggest issues: healthcare and the war.

Big Three
The media (or the polls) have decided that there are to be three top tier candidates for the presidency in the Democratic primary: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. All three of them in a recent debate have refused to guarantee that if elected they would withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2013. Strike one against all of them.

Bill and Hillary
My objections to Hillary Clinton have nothing to do with the conventional wisdom on her (“too liberal”, “a woman”). I object to her on the ground that she isn’t progressive or liberal enough. Hillary Clinton, it must be said, believes in nothing more than winning elections. She is consistently behind the curve on the leading issues of the day (losing issue debates on best plans for global warming and ending the war). With her finger always in the wind, Clinton follows polls rather than being out in front when the issue is unpopular or not well-known. Let me quote the late, great Texan Molly Ivins in 2006 bemoaning the spineless Democrats and Hillary.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy’s sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush’s tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do “whatever it takes” to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

Hillary is easily the most conservative of the Democrats running. Her husband, it should be known, was instrumental in undermining the historic commitment of the Democratic Party to the common people and social equality. Think about all the greatest accomplishments Bill Clinton made. Almost all of them are Republican positions: balancing the budget, re-instating the federal death penalty, the federal gay marriage ban (Defense of Marriage Act), welfare reform, NAFTA, WTO, normalizing trade relations with China, and financial deregulation. Let’s not forget Clinton lobbying for Enron in India. The gap between the rich and poor widened even more under Clinton than it did over the previous Republican presidents. Alan Greenspan wasn’t joking when he said that Clinton was a Republican president and that he agreed with him on economic issues “80%” of the time”.

And lets not forget that while Clinton was president (and the Democratic Party just became an extension of his smiling face), Democrats lost the House, the Senate, most governorships, and most state legislatures. Did he do anything for the party?

Actually, he and some other conservative Democrats started the “Democratic Leadership Council” or DLC that brought pro-corporate centrism to the party. The DLC, famously denounced as the Republican wing of the Democratic Party by Howard Dean, rakes in corporate money to denounce any Democrat who has the temerity to stand up to corporate interests or the war.

And let us not forget the war. Bill Clinton was saying the same stupid stuff as Bush before the invasion of Iraq. Not only did he support it, when Tony Blair asked Parliament for a declaration of war, Bill Clinton was there in England lobbying skeptical Labour MPs to vote for the war. Would Republicans lobby on a Democratic proposal like that? Actually, a lot of them were violently against Clinton’s intervention in Yugoslavia and voted against it.

What will Hillary do differently? Let’s check the record on the war. Hillary Clinton voted for the war, and until recently was one of the most pro-war Democrats in Congress. At times she was out-hawking Lieberman on the issue. And with the her recent vote to designate the Iranian Army as a terrorist organization, a dangerous, nonsensical vote that could be the grounds for war with Iran. So she’s already wrong on the next war. All other Democratic candidates opposed the resolution.

And why is she being praised for her foreign policy views by the neoconservatives who cooked up the Iraq war? Do the neoconservative Republicans, seeing that the GOP will be wiped out in 2008, see Hillary as the best successor to the Bush Doctrine of foreign policy? Or do they want to pump up Hillary because she will be the easiest to defeat next November with her high negative ratings (42%, the highest)?

Corporate ties
Will Hillary break with her husband’s record of pro-corporate “centrism?” I think generally not, but I think a more active grassroots will push her harder on progressive reforms than they did Bill. She will have a better environmental record, but given how crummy his record was, I don’t think that would hard to do. Otherwise, what is her connection and affection to the special interests that cripple our democracy?

Hillary has fat corporate connections averse to a progressive agenda of fair trade, less income inequality, universal health care, and social justice. She refused to follow Obama and Edwards’s pledge to not solicit lobbyist or PAC money and said that lobbyists “represent real Americans too.” Maybe that is why FORTUNE magazine put her on the cover this year with the title “Business loves Hillary.”

Her main corporate connection (besides her massive fundraising from special interests forking over $2300 checks) is her chief strategist Mark Penn, who makes a lot of money on the side doing public relations for big business. Penn, a pollster, conveniently comes up with “swing demographics” of affluent people (soccer moms and office park dads were some of his) that should be targeted by moving the party to the right. His company is involved in anti-union campaigns while his candidate tries to get the votes of unions.

Bill Clinton is also pocketing money left and right since retiring from the presidency for both his foundation and himself. Corporations have paid Bill Clinton $41 million in speaking fees. Given the Clintons’ softness for lobbyists and big business, is it really that shocking that Rupert Murdoch and Fox News had a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton too?

My conclusion? We can do better than HRC. America needs better.

Connections and links

News Roundup

Compare and Contrast

29 Oct

There is always big news about Venezuela whenever President Chavez does anything, but I wanted to show a little comparison of Venezuela and its neighbor Colombia when it comes to “dictatorship” and human rights after seeing the recent Reporters without Borders rankings on freedom of the press worldwide.

“In Colombia, if you run for office from the left you have to be willing to die”

Interesting articles about Colombian opposition party, Polo Democrático , and president Alvaro Uribe. Colombia is the one nation in South America run by a right-wing government. The elected president is in bed with the right-wing paramilitaries (AUC) that traffic drugs and are on the State Department list of terrorist groups. Polo Democrático is a new effort for democratic left-wing politics in Colombia (as opposed to the violent communist FARC rebels) since the left-wing Patriotic Union party was destroyed by assassinations in the 1980s. Union organizers and peasants are also routinely killed.

If Polo wins the 2010 elections (assuming all their politicians aren’t murdered before that), all of South America will have leftist governments. Keep in mind here that Colombia has probably the worst human rights record in the hemisphere but got $728 million in American taxpayer assistance (“approximately 80 per cent of which was military and police assistance”), the #1 recipient of American aid in Latin America. Third in the world after Israel and Egypt.

Press Freedom in Venezuela
There has been a lot of talk and media coverage about how the president of Venezuela (a leftist) is destroying freedom of the press in Venezuela with his recent cancellation of the broadcasting license of RCTV (Radio Caracas Television). But compare that record to that of its neighbors.

Look at this map of press freedom for the Western Hemisphere by Reporters without Borders and compare it to this BBC map of leftist governments in Latin America. Except for Cuba, they are the same!

The three countries with the worst press freedom are Cuba, Mexico, and Colombia (the latter two being our closest allies in Latin America and run by conservatives) while Venezuela is in line with most of its neighbors. Peru (if you look at the rankings) is also below Venezuela. Why don’t we hear much about Colombian violence against journalists, or even that an American journalist was killed in Mexico? Anti-left double standard anyone? Can you tell me which opposition parties have been systematically murdered in Venezuela? That’s because there wouldn’t be any.

So why is Chavez the only bad guy here?


In a sensible world,

20 Oct

Rudy Giuliani’s poll numbers would be in the toilet after picking up the endorsement of our idiot dear governor, Rick Perry. I wonder if a Giuliani/Perry ticket should disgust America so much that even Texas votes against it. Giuliani’s law firm has been defending Perry’s retarded transporation monstrosity, the Trans-Texas Corridor. Giuliani gets to cash both Perry’s checks and endorsement to water down the social conservative fire. Yuck.

Links on Giuliani

The Nation – “Rudy’s Dirty Money” (and Texas connection… haven’t read it yet)

Rolling Stone – “Worse than Bush” (Rudy will lobby for anything)

WCBS Firefighters attack Giuliani and call him an “urban legend” and make a movie on him – cutting the heart straight out of his 9/11 mystique. The controversy involve Rudy not buying the radios the firefighters wanted or testing those radios and putting the emergency communications system in the World Trade Center even when it had been attacked in 1993. As such, the policemen got their order to evacuate before the Twin Towers collapsed, and none died in the collapse while many firefighters couldn’t hear the order through the defective radios and died in the collapse.

If Rudy gets the nod, these firefighters could make the Swift Boaters look tame by taking out Rudy’s one claim to fame.

The Devil wears no Tie

8 Oct

Once upon a time, there was a president. A president…. who may or may not have taken American embassy staff hostage in 1979.

A president….. who was a professor of engineering.

A president who may believe that developing nuclear weapons will hasten the return of the 12th imam and bring the end of the world.

An unpopular president…. who does not really have the final say in running his own nation’s foreign or domestic policy (that would be Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council of religious figures).

And quibbles about little things…. like whether the Holocaust happened or not (it did).

Who happened to make a speech at Columbia University.

And was introduced as a “petty and cruel dictator” by the president of Columbia in a very good, if not a bit overdone speech (a bit harsh really since Ahmadinejad was elected in a landslide and can’t dictate much).

And who already has a ready-made beard of villainy should we ever decide to invade Iran. Oops?

Because who wants a war if the bad guy doesn’t have facial hair?

I don’t know, and I don’t understand…..

1 Oct

but whatever it is, it still makes me sad.

And business goes on as usual.