Tag Archives: Andrew O’Hehir

For Dems 2020 probably will be 2016 redux (and 2nd chance to get it right)

Image result for bernie biden

Associated Press news photo

No, that’s not Bernie Sanders about to bitch slap Joe Biden, although I hope that happens in 2020 if both of them run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination… (Above is Sen. Sanders being sworn in by then-veep Biden in January 2013 in a re-enactment.)

Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir laments that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders thus far are the top two front-runners for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.*

O’Hehir proclaims that

A Sanders-Biden throwdown would rip the scabs off old wounds, inflame entrenched divisions and cast the party in the worst possible light, making clear on a bunch of levels that it doesn’t know who it represents or what principles it stands for. At a moment when Democrats finally seem to be moving toward the future, this would make them appear stuck in the past.

At least O’Hehir correctly identifies the top two front-runners.

Nationwide polls of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters taken over the past month indeed all show Bernie and Biden as the top two front-runners, both of them in the double digits, while some pundits (most of them identity politicians) actually claim that their favored candidates, who can’t even break into the double digits in the nationwide polls (such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and even Beto O’Rourke), actually are in the top tier. (Again, that’s not reporting the facts; that’s trying to get your own candidate into the top tier by lying about the facts.)

That said, I think that O’Hehir unfairly lumps Biden and Bernie together. While Biden doesn’t have much (if anything) more than “Vote for me — I was associated with the last popular Democratic president, Barack Obama,” Bernie has written books about who he represents and what principles he stands for. (Granted, books by most presidential politicians are pretty boring, but you cannot factually claim that Bernie hasn’t put his beliefs, values and ideas out there. He has. Repeatedly.)

Even after O’Hehir proclaims that Bernie being in the race would “[make] clear on a bunch of levels that [the Democratic Party] doesn’t know who it represents or what principles it stands for,” he acknowledges that 

[Bernie] is the standard-bearer for the resurgent progressive movement, who galvanized a rising generation and almost single-handedly pushed Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, free college and other issues of economic justice to the forefront of the party’s agenda after 30 years of managerial neoliberalism. 

So Bernie is an actual Democrat.** Horrors!

A Bernie-Biden match-up would, however, I agree, very potentially “rip the scabs off old wounds” and “inflame entrenched divisions.” (As far as “[casting] the party in the worst possible light” is concerned, does O’Hehir actually worry about what the Repugnicans think about the Democratic Party? I sure the fuck don’t. Nor do I much care about what the low-information “swing” voters think, even if we need their votes, truth be told.)

A Bernie-Biden match-up would be, to a large degree, a Round Two of the Bernie-Billary match-up: the progressive (the actual Democrat) against the sellout establishmentarian “Democrat,” the one who, when he or she must, can pay lip service to some progressive ideas but who, once in office, does little to nothing (just like Obama did and just as Billary would have had she won the presidential election).

If the conflict between the progressives and the Democrats in name only persists (and it does) it’s because it’s yet to be settled. Things move slooowly in politics. We Berners are dead-set on taking over the Democratic Party, frankly. We began the work no later than with Howard Dean’s candidacy in the 2004 cycle.***

We’re in it to win and we’re in it for the long run.

O’Hehir and others may lament all they want that Bernie and Biden are the front-runners, but thus far (according to the nationwide polls) they are the people’s choice, and in a democracy, that’s all that matters.

It will be the primary elections and the caucuses that choose the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee, not any pundit or blogger.

O’Hehir and his ilk apparently believe that what excites them personally — making a relatively nationally unknown but (at least relatively) young, non-white and, preferably, female candidate the presidential nominee — will win the 2020 presidential election.

I disagree.

All American voters, not just the identity politicians who align themselves with the Democratic Party, will vote for president in November 2020.

And given the demographics of all American voters — American voters (i.e., those who actually vote) remain older and predominantly white — it’s probably actually the most strategic to run Bernie or even Biden against “President” Pussygrabber.

The percentage of voters who are white is dropping and the percentage of non-white voters is growing over time, and as today’s youth become tomorrow’s older voters, the nation will, I believe, become more and more Democratic (and, hopefully, more and more progressive) over time. (Indeed, the Repugnicans wouldn’t need to cheat blatantly if they were in a strong position.)

But we’re not there yet.

We’ll get there if we work with what we actually have in the national electorate, not with what we wish we already had.

As president Bernie Sanders can and would, I believe, set us in the right direction toward getting to that promised land.

*Salon.com has gone way, way downhill over the years — I now prefer Slate.com — but I still will read O’Hehir, whose writing is decent enough even when I disagree with him. (He used to write film reviews but then moved into writing about politics.)

**Even though he casually lumps Bernie and Biden together, O’Hehir acknowledges:

It might sound ludicrous to say that Joe Biden is a male cognate to Hillary Clinton with fewer (or at least different) electoral negatives, but that’s approximately true. In fact, whatever populist, mid-Atlantic street cred he may possess, Biden is almost certainly less progressive than Clinton on core economic issues, and not much different in terms of hawkish foreign policy.

Biden is the only prominent figure in the prospective 2020 field to flat-out oppose Medicare for All, a.k.a. single-payer health insurance. He is lukewarm at best on other structural and economic reforms favored by progressives, and has long been a supporter of Clintonite 1990s-style financial deregulation and free-trade policies. (He’s from Delaware, a state whose economy is largely driven by quasi-predatory lenders perched in sinister office parks.)

As a matter of dogma and doctrine he is certain to stake out a range of non-confrontational, “moderate” positions aimed at luring in repentant conservatives and not alienating the donor class. I mean, that worked out great for Hillary, so why not?

***Full disclosure: I didn’t support Howard Dean in 2004, but supported John Kerry, because I saw Kerry as the best candidate to take on George W. Bush and because Dean’s record and personality suggested to me that he’s a fraud, and his subsequent actions and words over the years have proved me right; for years now he has toed the establishmentarian, not the progressive, line.

He slavishly supported Billary, for instance, and still does.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Contexte est tout

On Oct. 1, 2014, the magazine featured Muhammed again.

I’m semi-fluent in Spanish, but know only a handful of words in French. (I’m perfectly OK with that…) So I went to babelfish.com and typed in “Context is everything,” translating it into French. The result, which may or may not be accurate, is the title of this piece.

As I’ve noted, I don’t know much about France, and I’m not a huge Francophile. For every positive thing that we can say about the French, there seems to be an equally off-putting thing that we could say about them. So I have mixed feelings toward the Frenchies, frankly.

Speaking of which, already we’re seeing starkly different depictions of what life is like in France for Muslims, and to be able to comment intelligently on the Charlie Hebdo killings of the past week, we need to understand the context in which they have occurred.

Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir, who should know better, essentially white-mansplains in his latest column that Charlie Hebdo was attacked because the “terrorists” hate France for its freedoms! This is the rosy portrait that O’Hehir paints of France:

… Amid its evident difficulties, France remains a peaceful, prosperous and culturally vibrant nation with a relatively well integrated and increasingly secular Muslim minority. (As has been widely reported, one of the police officers killed on Wednesday was a Muslim.) That model of democracy — or perhaps we should say that possibility — is exactly what came under attack from the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Their aim was to pry open that model at a tender spot, expose its contradictions and undermine its stability. …

Again, this is analogous to the post-9/11 bullshit American claims of “They [those “evil” Muslims, of course] hate us because of our freedoms!”

In contrast to O’Hehir’s belle (again: babelfish.com…) portrait of France, left-wing editorial cartoonist and columnist/commentator Ted Rall, who has dual American and French citizenship because his mother is French, and who has spent a lot of time with Muslims in Afghanistan (about which he has written books), writes this of Muslims in France (I present it in whole, because I think it’s important information; emphases in bold are mine [and links are Rall’s]):

This week’s terrorist attacks at the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, leaving 12 dead at the scene and four others killed during the assassins’ attempt to flee two days later has prompted a political crisis in France centered around that country’s Muslim population, and whether it has been successfully assimilated into French society.

To most American news consumers, even those who follow developments in Europe closely, the debate over Muslim assimilation in France is difficult to dissect. This is because the situation there is significantly unlike the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West that Americans have been dealing with in the post-9/11 era.

The first thing that you need to know is that, in France even more than in the United States, assimilation is something of a national religion.

“A French government report has proposed a radical overhaul of the ‘assimilation’ model which requires immigrants to abandon their culture for that of France, including ending the ban on Muslim headscarves in schools and naming streets and squares after notables of foreign origin,” the UK Telegraph reported back in 2013.

“But it has drawn a furious reaction from the country’s conservative opposition, which said it amounted to an abandonment of French culture and secular values. ‘It will no longer be up to immigrants to adopt French culture but up to France to abandon its culture, its values, its history to adapt to the culture of others,’ Jean-François Copé, leader of the UMP main opposition party, said.”

For now, assimilationism stands.

In France as in the U.S., ethnic and religious minorities congregate in certain cities and neighborhoods. In France, however, these ethnic enclaves are viewed less as charming places to grab a meal than as a failure of the state. This is because, when foreigners are granted French citizenship, they are expected – not just culturally, but explicitly told by government officials – to become fully French in a traditional, pre-mass immigration kind of way.

Those who speak foreign languages are pressured to refrain from speaking them in public as much as possible, and to learn French not just enough to get by, but fluently in writing as well as in speech. This attitude isn’t not quite as attenuated as it was 75 years ago, when children who spoke internal non-French French languages like Basque and Breton were beaten by their teachers, but it’s still an expectation shared by both the political left and the political right.

Even today, when the government offers an immigrant French citizenship, he or she is even encouraged to “Francify” their name to a more traditionally sounding French name. So Mohammed might become Michel.

The second thing you need to understand is that France does not offer birthright citizenship, i.e. automatic full benefits as a citizen simply for being born on French territory. Americans take birthright citizenship for granted, though there has been criticism on the right over the possibility that some foreign-born parents might travel illegally to the United States in order to have so-called “anchor babies.”

Perversely, considering how important assimilation is to the French, the country’s lack of full birthright citizenship rights for everyone born in France, or full right of jus soli, has done more to breed alienation, systemic poverty and distrust than just about any other policy. Although I was able to obtain French citizenship (while keeping my U.S. citizenship) merely because my mother is French, there are millions of second- and third-generation illegal immigrants – people who were born in [France], and who may even have French foreign parents, but who have never been naturalized because their grandparents arrived in the country as undocumented workers.

Many of these people live in impoverished suburbs outside major cities which, not coincidentally, have on occasion been the site of violent uprisings. Don’t be surprised if the perpetrators of Wednesday’s horrific mass murder at Charlie Hebdo have their roots in the banlieue (suburbs).

Finally, France has accepted between 3.5 and 5.0 million Muslim immigrants in recent years, amounting to between 5 percent and 10 percent of the population. (This liberal immigration policy recognizes France’s history as colonial rulers of countries like Algeria and Morocco.)

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of these people are like everyone else, just trying to get ahead and make better lives for themselves and their children. But their presence — different clothes, different languages, different food — is jarring for “traditional” (i.e., white, Catholic) Frenchmen and Frenchwomen who yearn for the France of wine, coffee and baguettes. This is the constituency that France’s far-right political parties, like the National Front, are capitalizing upon.

Rall, himself an editorial cartoonist, of course does not support the slaughter of fellow cartoonists, and he has used the occasion of the Charlie Hebdo massacres to point out the plight of editorial cartoonists in the American media (such as here and here).

I give kudos to Rall, not only for telling the ugly truth about France’s other-culture-crushing assimilationism and nationalism — and its resultant Muslim ghettos — but also apparently for pointing out that the “Je suis Charlie” crowd don’t actually give a fuck about editorial cartoonists* as much as they are just using the deaths of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists as a vehicle with which to bash those “evil” Muslims, the perennial “bad guys” against whom the “freedom-” and “democracy-loving” Westerners can compare themselves in order to feel much better about their own hypocrisy, their own deep sins (such as the fact that in modern history the U.S. and its Western partners in war crimes and crimes against humanity, including Israel, the United Kingdom and France, have slaughtered far more Muslims than vice-versa).

Even a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist (who wasn’t present during the massacre at the publication’s offices) himself has called bullshit on the public outpouring of support for Charlie Hebdo. Reports the UK’s DailyMail.com:

One of the surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonists has scoffed at the surge in support for the satirical magazine after the attack, which killed eight of his colleagues and four other victims.

Bernard Holtrop, who was not in the office during the massacre on Wednesday, admitted the publication’s new-found fame was “laughable” and comes from people who have “never seen it.”

The Dutch-born artist reportedly said the provocative weekly had unexpected “new friends” including the pope, Queen Elizabeth and Vladimir Putin.

He told Dutch newspaper Volkskrant: “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends,” and added that most of the support has come from people who have “never seen Charlie Hebdo.”

“It really makes me laugh,” he added. “A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn’t know what it was. Now it’s the opposite.” …

Bernard Holtrop is at least one Frenchman I guess I can like, even though that might be because he was born in Holland…

P.S. If I understand the Charlie Hebdo cover above correctly (French is somewhat similar to Spanish), it is positing that were Mohammed to return today, some jihadist would behead him as an infidel. Admittedly, this is in line with my position that were Jesus to return today, those who claim to be his followers would (mostly metaphorically speaking) crucify him as a heretic.

However, again, contexte est tout, and the Charlie Hebdo cover above is much more offensive to your average Muslim than would be a similar depiction of modern-day “Christians” crucifying a returning Jesus, methinks. Also, so-called “Christians” already are in the majority in the West, and so they have a lot of political power, so such a cartoon would not feel as personally threatening to them as the Charlie Hebdo cover above would feel to France’s Muslim minority (which, again, is estimated at 5 percent to 10 percent of the nation’s population).

*Frankly, I don’t know that I’m willing to call Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists “editorial cartoonists,” because the word “editorial” elevates them to a level of discourse that I just haven’t seen in most of their cartoons thus far. Similarly, just as I can’t call Charlie Hebdo a “newspaper” (I call it simply a “publication”), I can’t call what Charlie Hebdo does to be “satire” or to be “satirical,” because to me, satire requires intelligence (in the form of wit), and to me, satire’s ultimate goal is to uplift the body politic. I don’t see that Charlie Hebdo is witty or uplifting.

Charlie Hebdo still has free-speech rights, of course, but, as I’ve noted, after having seen some of its content I’m not going to align myself with Charlie Hebdo. The Ku Klux Klan and the so-called “Tea Party” have their free-speech rights, too, and I’m not on board with them either.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is Ferguson a symptom of black American panic?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cry of the Clintonistas: ‘Surrender, Dorothy!’

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized