Tag Archives: liberalism

Live-blogging the 9th Dem debate

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Getty photo

Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed tonight in a debate in Brooklyn, New York, that wasn’t as acrimonious as it could have been, but in which the audience members loudly booed Billary at least a few times and repeatedly chanted, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” (There were no chants for Billary and no boos for Bernie [no loud ones, anyway].) Something that Billary didn’t respond to at all during the debate was Bernie’s quite-correct assertion that he pulls in a lot more independent voters than she does, and that independent voters are critical for winning the White House (as Democratic die-hards can’t win it alone), and that he long has polled significantly better against the Repugnican Tea Party presidential frontrunners than has Billary.

5:40 p.m. (all times Pacific Time): The ninth Democratic Party presidential debate is scheduled to begin in 20 minutes. I’m streaming it via CNN’s website. I expect the sparks to fly between Bernie Sanders and Billary Clinton tonight, and I expect Billary to lie as even she has never lied before.

5:55 p.m.: The debate is to begin in five minutes. My intent is to give my impressions as the debate unfolds, not to be a stenographer, so for complete, thorough coverage of the debate, you’d have to watch it and/or read its transcript after it’s posted online.

I tentatively plan to write only about new lines of discussion, but there may not be very many of those, so this might be repetitive of my past live-bloggings of the previous eight debates.

I’m still very much rooting for Bernie Sanders, but these debates have become a bit tiresome; they’ve been going on for six full months now.

6:00 p.m.: National anthem now. Yawn. Bernie came out first, followed by Billary. They had a cursory, not-very-sincere-looking handshake, and once again I’m wondering who the hell dressed Billary. Is that a raincoat? (In any event, anyone as chummy with gay men as she has claimed to be would be dressed a lot better, it seems to me…)

6:02 p.m.: Bernie reminds us that he started off 70 percentage points behind Billary in the nationwide polls but that a few recent nationwide polls have had him slightly ahead of her, and he reminds us that he won eight of the last nine primary-season contests.

Bernie rehashed his stump speech, but it seemed fresher tonight than it has in a long time. (Admittedly, it could just be that there was more than a month between the last debate and this one…)

6:04 p.m.: Billary reminds us that she represented New York in the U.S. Senate for eight years. She mentions 9/11 but not the Vietraq War that she voted for in October 2002.

She mentions “diversity” — a play to identity politics, because that’s all that she has left — but she doesn’t mention income inequality. (Perhaps because she’s a multi-millionaire…)

6:06 p.m.: Bernie, asked if Billary is qualified to be president, says yes, but says, “I question her judgment.” He mentions her vote for the Vietraq War and the million$ that she has taken from Wall Street.

6:08 p.m.: Oh, snap! Billary says she was elected as senator for New York twice and was selected by President Hopey-Changey to be his secretary of state. Therefore, her judgment must be swell!

She now claims that Bernie can’t explain how he’d achieve his central goal of breaking up the banks. Actually, I wouldn’t say that breaking up the banks is the central pillar of Bernie’s campaign. It’s only a part of it, one of many parts of it.

6:10 p.m.: Bernie is pretty red in the face while Billary has this self-satisfied, shit-eating grin on her face. She now says that an attack on her is an attack on Obama. She just got booed by the audience for that, appropriately.

Billary has tried to use Obama as a human political shield her entire campaign. It is demonstrative of her character.

6:12 p.m.: Repetitive stuff about breaking up the banks. (Again, this is the ninth debate that I’ve live-blogged…)

6:15 p.m.: Billary’s tactic clearly is to have this shit-eating grin, like she’s just so above it all. I don’t think that this tactic is going to work for her. (It worked for Joe Biden when he debated Paul Ryan, but this isn’t the Biden-Ryan debate.)

The audience tonight is dynamic, reflecting, I think, how the Bernie-Billary fight is coming to a climax.

6:17 p.m.: More repetitive shit, with Billary still trying to argue that although Goldman Sachs — which just paid billions in penalties — gave her shitloads of money for speeches, it has not affected her decision-making at all.

6:19 p.m.: To thunderous applause, Billary is asked why she won’t release those speech transcripts. She isn’t answering the question, but instead is trying to deflect.

6:21 p.m.: The moderator won’t let the question go, and the audience goes wild. Billary deflects again, saying that she has released 30 years of tax returns, but that Bernie hasn’t.

The moderator for a third time asks about those transcripts. Billary again says she’ll release her transcripts when everyone else (on the Repugnican Tea Party side) does and again says that she has released more tax returns than has Bernie. Apples to oranges, but that’s her game.

6:23 p.m.: Bernie promises to release more tax returns soon. He says they promise to be “boring,” as he is “one of the poorer members of the United States Senate.” (This is true. Google it.)

6:24 p.m.: Wolf Blitzer, who should work for Faux “News,” asks how Bernie, with his confrontational style toward corporations, as U.S. president effectively could promote U.S. business. (This is, you see, a U.S. president’s No. 1 job — to make the filthy rich even richer!)

Bernie is talking about how unethical, harmful corporate practices and corporate abuses must be curbed. Bernie indicates that corporations must treat their workers and the environment with respect. And that not all corporations are bad actors.

6:27 p.m.: Bernie speaks of the need to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.

6:28 p.m.: Billary has laughed at Bernie at least two or three times. Again, while it worked for Joe Biden against Paul Ryan, it just makes her look arrogant and condescending — especially when most of her answers to these debate questions range from vague to evasive.

6:29 p.m.: Oh, shit. Wolfie reminds us that Billary publicly stood with Andrew Cuomo for New York’s new $15/hour minimum wage but that throughout her campaign, until only very recently, she has supported only a $12/hour federal minimum wage.

Billary now supports the $15/hour minimum wage. Seriously. She is acting like she’s always supported $15/hour. This is a fucking lie.

Wow. Bernie just said that “once again, history has outpaced Senator Clinton.” Absolutely. The audience is going wild.

The members of this audience have done their research and have been paying attention, so Billary’s sudden, magical time-space leap to always having supported a $15/hour federal minimum wage doesn’t fly with them.

6:34 p.m.: Bernie laughs at Billary, as she has been laughing at him, and she says, with her false concern that she displays so often and so readily, “This is not a laughing matter.” (The topic is guns.)

I don’t believe for a nanosecond that multi-millionaire Billary truly cares about any of us commoners, and of course she is well-protected from gun violence herself, but it’s an easy issue on which to jump on board, because who is for gun violence?

6:37 p.m.: Bernie says that the National Rifle Association gives him a “D-” rating on guns. Indeed. This is a non-issue, a red herring that a desperate, pro-plutocratic Billary & Co. created from thin air.

6:40 p.m.: Again the “issue” of whether gun manufacturers should be liable for the misuse of their products. This is another non-issue. If guns are that bad, then they should be made illegal altogether. You can’t blame the manufacturer of a legal product for its misuse. This is mushy-headed liberal insanity.

(I define “liberal” and “progressive” very differently, by the way, but that’s another blog post. In a nutshell, though, Billary is a liberal — she’s a multi-millionaire who pushes social issues and identity politics that, just coinky-dinkily convenient for her and her millionaire and billionaire buddies, for the most part don’t alter or significantly threaten or jeopardize the socioeconomic status quo — and Bernie is a progressive — he wants to change the socioeconomic status quo quite radically.)

Again, the whole gun “issue” is a distraction from Billary’s flaws and shortcomings, and a rather fucktarded one.

6:43 p.m.: Billary is asked if her hubby’s 1994 crime bill was a mistake. She states that portions of the bill improved things but that other portions created new problems. She reminds us that Bernie voted for the crime bill and also has said that portions of it proved to be good and others bad.

Billary says she wants “white people” to recognize systemic racism. I agree with that, but all people are capable of racism, not just white people — let’s please not single out and demonize only white people for the wrong of racism — and again, I am incredibly leery of the Clinton brand of identity politics, which has us commoners doing nothing about our common socioeconomic plight while we fight each other, stirred up by craven politicians who maximize identity politics for their own personal gain.

6:49 p.m.: Bernie is asked how as president he would reduce the number of prisoners within the U.S. when most of the prisoners are state prisoners, not federal prisoners.

Um, federal law trumps state law. Federal laws, including civil rights laws, can tackle the problem of over-incarceration. The red states can whine, but they have to fall in line. We can bring them to heel — again.

6:51 p.m.: On break now. Billary has been booed by this lively audience several times. This audience seems to be more pro-Bernie than pro-Billary. Especially when she tries her typical evasive and deflective bullshit and her lying, the audience boos.

6:55 p.m.: The topic now is energy.

Billary claims that both she and Bernie have taken money from the fossil fuels industry. Bernie says more than 40 lobbyists for the industry maxed out their contributions to Billary.

Both Billary and Bernie apparently agree that climate change is a problem.

Billary says she worked on bringing nations together on battling climate change as secretary of state. She says Bernie wasn’t appreciative enough of the Paris agreement.

Bernie says that we have to go beyond paper agreements and actually work to combat climate change, including banning fracking. Billary supports fracking.

Billary is at length equating Bernie’s criticism of the Paris agreement as not being enough to an attack on Obama — something that she wouldn’t need to do (piggypack on Obama’s popularity) if she weren’t so widely despised herself.

7:02 p.m.: Billary now seems to be backtracking on her historical support for fracking, which she now indicates she always only has envisioned as being temporary. (Riiight!) This is still yet another issue on which history has outpaced her.

7:03 p.m.: Bernie corrects the record, stating how Billary has supported fracking around the world, and he criticizes her incrementalism. Climate change is too serious for incrementalism, he proclaims, adding that we needed to address climate change “yesterday.”

7:05 p.m.: We are on “a suicide course” with climate change, Bernie says. Yup.

Bernie says we have to phase in new sources of sustainable energy and phase out old, unsustainable sources of energy while Billary still has that condescending, smug, shit-eating grin on her face that makes her more unlikeable, not more likeable. Really, she has no one but herself to blame for her upside-down favorability numbers.

7:08 p.m.: Wolfie reminds Billary that Obama says his biggest mistake as president was bungling Libya.*

Billary blathered about Libya. I didn’t listen much, to be honest. Bernie now talks about how “regime change often has unintended consequences,” and he has mentioned Iraq and made a bit of a comparison between U.S. meddling in both nations.

Billary says Bernie in the Senate voted for the Libya intervention. This is all rehashed from the previous debates.

Bernie says that just repeating something doesn’t make it true. Bernie says that he never voted in support of “regime change” in Libya. He says he voted only for “democracy in Libya.”

7:14 p.m.: Bernie points out how much Billary has been relying on Obama as her human shield (I paraphrase) and says that Billary as secretary of state wanted a no-fly zone in Syria that Obama didn’t and still doesn’t want.

7:16 p.m.: The stupid moderator points out to Bernie that both Donald Trump and he state that the United States has to pull too much of the weight within NATO. This is supposed to be a gotcha! question, but so the fuck what?

Although I’d never vote for Der Fuehrer Trump, in the mishmash of his political “offerings” he does present some libertarian leanings, and I do agree with some of the libertarian views, such as an anti-war and anti-war-profiteering sentiment and a fierce respect for and defense of privacy rights. (I disagree with them on pretty much everything else.)

And even a broken clock is right twice a day, so there can be one or two or maybe even three whole things that Trump is actually accidentally right about.

7:21 p.m.: Israel now. Oh, God. Bernie says he is “100 percent pro-Israel,” but “we have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.” Bernie (who is Jewish) says his views on the Palestinians don’t make him “anti-Israel.”

Billary takes her predictable pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian stance. After all, it’s AIPAC that gives her the big campaign contributions, not the impoverished Palestinians. Her “right-to-defend-yourself” rhetoric makes her sound like a puppet of wingnutty war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu. (Because she is. His hand is entirely up her ass, moving her mouth and her arms.)

Cool. Bernie says that Billary’s fairly recent speech to AIPAC made no substantive mention of the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people. Of course not! She gave AIPAC the speech that AIPAC paid for!

“You gave a major speech to AIPAC … and you barely mentioned the Palestinians,” Bernie reiterates after Billary tells us how badly poor Bibi Netanyahu has had it, with those “terrorists” in Israel’s midst.

(Israelis have slaughtered far more Palestinians than vice-versa, but since Israel uses shiny, high-tech, U.S. weapons, that’s not terrorism. Only poor people who don’t have access to such high-tech killing methods can be terrorists, you see. We Americans and Israelis are civilized killers — not terrorists!)

Wow. Bibi Netanyahu, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright — Billary Clinton sure loves a war criminal!

7:34 p.m.: Bernie tiresomely is asked how the nation would pay for his initiatives to improve the socioeconomic status quo, such as health care and higher education.

Bernie says he is “determined” to transfer the money that has gone to the 1 percent back to the working class and middle class.

Billary says we’re at “90 percent” coverage for health care, but we still have for-profit health care, replete with shitty health care plans that bankrupt people with the out-of-pocket-costs anyway.

Bernie reminds us that other major nations guarantee health care for their people at a much lower cost than in the U.S., and that they don’t make their college students slaves to student-loan debt. “Please don’t tell me that we can’t do what many other nations around the world are doing,” he says. Yup.

This is mostly rehashed, but it’s important. There indeed is no good reason, outside of incredible greed and politicians who treasonously sell us commoners out to moneyed interests, that the U.S. doesn’t provide health care and education for all of its people.

7:43 p.m.: Talk of Social Security now. (It’s a complicated topic. Read the transcript of the debate when it’s up.) Billary says that she and Bernie are “in vigorous agreement,” but Bernie indicates that Billary has changed her position on Social Security, as she has on so many other issues. The audience is chanting, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”

Billary, under fire, now claims that Bernie isn’t a real Democrat. Wow. But this is how she operates when she is backed into a corner.

7:46 p.m: Bernie and Billary are “in vigorous agreement” on the issue of the U.S. Supreme Court, except that Bernie says he’d pick a nominee who would overturn Citizens United, and apparently that wouldn’t be President Hopey-Changey’s current moderate nominee.

Billary says her Supreme Court nominee would have to overturn Citizens United and uphold Roe vs. Wade, and she goes off onto the topic of abortion and reproductive rights.

Abortion/reproductive rights are important — I always have been and always will be pro-choice, and I believe that birth control, including entirely voluntary sterilization, should be provided to all people free of charge — but abortion and reproductive rights so easily can be used as a hot-button distraction from other issues.

Bernie says his pro-choice voting record is 100 percent, and he adds that he supports the LGBT community, and adds that Vermont led the way on same-sex marriage.

7:50 p.m.: We’re done pandering to identity groups now, thank Goddess. (I’m gay, but I sense when I’m being pandered to, and I hate it.)

Bernie is asked whether or not he’s a real Democrat. He says that he is, and reminds us that he does better among the independents than Billary does, and that the White House only can be won with independents, and can’t be won with Democratic die-hards alone — this is absolutely true, as I’ve written lately — and Bernie reminds us that in match-up polls against the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates he does better than Billary does.

Bernie says the “future of the Democratic Party that I want to see” doesn’t rely on big corporate cash.

Billary reminds us that thus far she has received more votes than has Bernie or Donald Trump. She claims she leads a broad coalition. Hmmm. Not really. Not when she doesn’t have the youth vote or the independent vote.

Bernie, who says he’s going to win the nomination, says “Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South.” But, he says, “we’re out of the Deep South now.”

He said he will “obliterate” Trump or whoever the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate is.

Billary resists the charge that she’s a darling of the Deep South, but that is indeed her power base. I mean, here is the map of where the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race stands right now:

File:Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Wikipedia graphic

Yes, Billary (whose victories are in golden-yellow [Bernie’s are in green]) has won a few states outside of the South (as I’ve noted, I consider Arizona to be part of the South more than part of the West), but without her wins in the South, she wouldn’t be the putative frontrunner right now. (Duh.)

Billary says she will win and “unify” the party. She has indicated that her delegate lead is insurmountable.

7:59 p.m.: On break now.

Billary can brag about her delegate lead — she leads by 214 in pledged/democratically earned delegates (1,309 to Bernie’s 1,095), and the “super-delegates” can’t vote until the party convention in late July — until she’s blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that while John Kerry sewed up the nomination in March 2004, Billary is so widely disliked that the race is stretching out, just as it did in 2008, when she finally conceded to Obama in June.

She might win this thing, but she will remain a weak candidate. Nothing substantial has changed since the party’s voters soundly rejected her in 2008.

8:04 p.m.: Closing statements.

Bernie first. He reminds us that his father was a Polish immigrant to Brooklyn.

Millions of Americans can create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent, he proclaims.

Chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” as Billary tries to begin her closing statement.

Billary reminds us that New Yorkers elected her to the U.S. Senate twice and that they experienced 9/11 together. (Geez, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors used 9/11 endlessly for political gain.)

She does not mention her support of the Vietraq War, the most important vote that she had in the U.S. Senate — and that she fucked up royally.

Billary again plays up the “barriers” to different groups, another shout-out for identity politics. She explicitly says that it’s not just income inequality that we have to tackle.

That’s true, but her corporate sugar daddies really, really want her to focus on identity politics rather than on income inequality; they want us commoners too busy fighting each other over race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. rather than coming after them for our fair sliver of the pie.

That is the central issue (well, only climate change is a larger issue), which Bernie Sanders identified a long, long time ago.

In closing, tonight’s debate probably helped Bernie more than Billary. There clearly was more love for Bernie than for Billary among the audience members. I don’t recall that Bernie was booed once, whereas Billary was booed at least a few times, or that Billary’s name was chanted once, whereas Bernie’s was at least a few times.

I mean, the overall audiovisual was of one candidate clearly more popular than the other, at least among that audience. How can that be good for Billary?

And Billary’s smiling/smirking and laughing — that was off-putting and probably worked against her rather than for her, as it only could have contributed to her net unlikeability and net unfavorability. Who the fuck advised her to do that?

Probably the same idiot who dressed her…

*A retrospective President Hopey-Changey recently cited his administration’s bungling of a post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya as his No. 1 failure as president, but I quite disagree.

His No. 1 failure as president, hands down, was his failure to use the shitloads of political capital that he had in 2009 and in 201o to push through a progressive agenda, when his party controlled both houses of Congress.

It was a colossal dereliction of duty as well as an unpardonable violation of his campaign promises (thus, I could not in good conscience and therefore did not vote for him again in 2012).

It also led to the rise of the “tea party” in 2009 and 2010 and lost the Democrats control of the House of Representatives for the last six of Obama’s eight years in office — guaranteeing gridlock for the last three-fourths of his presidency.

It was incredible political malpractice, something that a right-winger never would have done. (I mean, George W. Bush exploited political capital that he didn’t even have, whereas Obama refused to spend a fucking penny of the immense amount of political capital that he did have.)

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The Obama years 7/8 the way through: He’s been our caretaker in chief

Note: I’ll probably be tinkering with this post over the next several days (mostly, adding new thoughts and new points and details). After all, it’s difficult to include everything significant that transpired (or didn’t transpire) in seven years of a presidency.

Obama's executive actions could open a door for successors

Associated Press photo

President Barack Obama is shown above in Washington, D.C., on December 10. Salon.com writer Walker Bragman has deemed Obama “the first liberal (not progressive) Democrat to be president in years,” and that’s probably an apt short summary of the Obama years, if by that Bragman means that Obama has espoused liberal ideals but has done little to nothing to move the nation forward to ensure greater socioeconomic equity and greater opportunity for all (which is progressivism).

In November 2008, when I went to my polling place, it was going to be Barack Obama or independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader* whose oval I would blacken with my ballpoint pen on my paper ballot to be scanned.

In the end, I voted for Barack Obama. He would win my state of California and all of its electoral votes anyway, and I was happy to be one of the millions of American voters who had the opportunity, for the first time in the nation’s history, to vote for a presidential candidate who is not a (full) white man. That was long past due.

I strongly had supported Obama over Billary Clinton in the primary. I’d donated hundreds of dollars to his campaign to help him knock Billary out of the primary, which he did.

But I didn’t support Obama over Billary because he’s half-white and half-black. I supported him over her because I’d believed his ubiquitous presidential campaign promises of “hope” and “change.” I viewed him as the most progressive yet still viable presidential candidate (as I view Bernie Sanders now). That is why I supported him in the 2008 Democratic primary and why I voted for him in November 2008.

I believe in actually holding an elected official to his or her campaign promises, and so when Obama spectacularly squandered his huge amount of political capital in 2009 and 2010 by trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress who never were going to cooperate with him in the first place because he’s a Democrat and because he’s half-black, I was incredibly disappointed.

In 2009 and 2010, when both houses of Congress were in the Democrats’ control, Obama could have accomplished a lot more than he actually did. He pushed “bipartisanship,” which always had been a non-starter, instead of pushing a progressive agenda.

And in 2009 and 2010 getting “Obamacare” pushed through Congress took all of the oxygen in the room, and, in the end, “Obamacare,” supposedly Obama’s “signature” “achievement,” apparently contained nothing that the lobbyists for the wealth-care industry didn’t want it to contain. (Indeed, “Obamacare’s” individual mandate requires everyone to have health insurance; what mostly-for-profit industry wouldn’t love such a requirement?**)

Then, in November 2010, the Dems lost control of the House of Representatives, and then, in November 2014, they lost control of the Senate (and lost even more seats in the House).

There are at least a few reasons for those losses, including the incredibly shitty “leadership” of Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but I still believe that had Obama pushed the progressive agenda that he at least indirectly had promised with his “hope” and “change” slogans, the Democrats would have kept the House and the Senate.

Indeed, it primarily was Obama’s dithering in 2009 and 2010 that lost the Dems the House in 2010, I believe, thus crippling any progressive agenda for the remainder of Obama’s two terms, since the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Congress have held on to the House since January 2011.

Since January 2011, with the House controlled by the Repugnican Tea Party traitors and the White House controlled by Obama, we’ve had nothing but even more gridlock, and since both houses of Congress fell to Repugnican Tea Party control after the election of November 2014, Obama was guaranteed a final two years of more whimper than bang.

I give Obama faint praise for being the first U.S. president to jump on board with same-sex marriage in 2012, although that was overdue and was coming sooner or later anyway. And as with Billary Clinton, it did take Obama a long time to “evolve” on the issue, even though the U.S. Supreme Court this past June finally ruled that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Something is a constitutional right or it is not; the recognition of a constitutional right might be denied and delayed for even generations, but nonetheless it remains a constitutional right, and further, constitutional rights are not up for a vote or even for a public-opinion poll. Again, same-sex marriage inherently was a constitutional right long before the foot-dragging U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that it is, so yes, Obama fairly led from behind on that issue; history led Obama more than Obama led history.

(That said, I can’t imagine that Obama’s having been the first president to voice his support for same-sex marriage wasn’t a significant factor in the U.S. Supreme Court finally following suit three years later. Wikipedia notes that Obama’s second inaugural address in January 2013 marked “the first time that a president mentioned gay rights or the word ‘gay’ in an inaugural address.”)

I applaud Obama for his work in opening up Cuba after decades. It’s beyond ridiculous that a Latin American nation 90 miles away from the United States should remain locked in a perpetual cold war with the U.S., which is what the right-wing traitors have wanted.

However, as I wrote a year ago, Cubans have much more to lose in closer ties with the United States than vice-versa. (As I wrote, “would it benefit most Cubans for American corporations to muscle back into the nation and turn most Cubans into wage slaves, like most Americans are? … Are Cubans really just itching for such wonderful imported American ‘freedoms’ as crushing student-loan debt, wage slavery and bankruptcy from insane health-care costs?”)

Obama’s other notable accomplishments include seating our first Latina or Latino U.S. Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, in 2009, and, with the seating of Elena Kagan in 2010, Obama gave us the first Supreme Court with three female justices (we need at least one or two more of them).

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 also was an accomplishment, even if it again seems that history led and that our politicians finally caught up. Ditto for the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. (And it’s hard to say that the abolishment of something hateful and unconstitutional that never should have been instituted in the first place is an “accomplishment,” but we’ll call it one, I suppose.)

Obama hasn’t been able to accomplish enough on climate change, in no small part because his dithering in 2009 and 2010 lost the Democrats control of Congress. And with “Democrats” like the former Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, Big Oil, with its Big Money to politicians who sell us out to them, combatting climate change remains a political mountain to overcome.

But/and on that note, Obama was stunningly ineffectual in confronting British Petroleum when its underwater oil well belched an estimated 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over almost three months in 2010. It was his first huge test of his campaign promises of environmental protection, and he failed miserably.

Perhaps at least in part because of his failure to deal with the BP oil disaster effectively, Obama did veto the Keystone XL oil pipeline earlier this year, in what Wikipedia calls “his first major veto.” That would be in the “plus” column of Obama’s environmental record, but overall, has Obama done enough in combatting climate change and otherwise protecting the environment? Of course not.

Profound income inequality persists under Obama. It’s yet another critical national problem that became fairly insoluble after the Dems lost control of Congress in the election of 2010, and it’s ironic that the nation’s first (half-)black president has done so little to improve the lot of black Americans (who, for the most part, support him steadfastly nonetheless, apparently more out of identity politics than for his actual accomplishments for them).

Obama hasn’t done a lot more for black Americans for many reasons, that I can tell. One, he’s never wanted to come off as an “angry” black man, knowing that he couldn’t have won the presidency had he done so. (I can’t say that that has been his fault, but that that has been the cards that he has been dealt in this still-racist nation.) Two, Obama was raised by his white mother and her side of the family, so his experience growing up was different than has been the experience of most black Americans. (That’s not some sort of a slam; it’s just the truth as far as I can discern it.) And three, again, after the Dems lost the House in the election of 2010, Obama’s ability to do much for black Americans and other Americans in need was seriously weakened anyway.

On foreign policy, which could be its own blog post — and I think that a heavy focus on foreign policy too often is just a distraction from our disastrous domestic policies — I need only point out, I think (aside from my earlier remarks on Cuba), that while 9/11 happened on the unelected “President” George W. Bush’s watch, the United States has not sustained a large terrorist attack from abroad under Obama’s watch.

So desperate have been the uber-hypocritical Repugnican Tea Party traitors to try to claim that Obama hasn’t kept us safe from the Big Bad Terrorists that they have focused on the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012, while they wholly ignore the fact that almost 3,000 Americans died on 9/11 and that more than 4,000 of our troops died pointlessly in the unelected, treasonous Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust, unprovoked and wholly bogus Vietraq War.

Those 7,000 or so deaths on George W. Bush’s watch are nothing, you see, but those four deaths in Benghazi on Obama’s watch are everything. (Indeed, racism is behind this; a white, right-wing president is responsible for thousands of preventable deaths of Americans — almost 2,000 Americans, disproportionately black Americans, died in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so we can add them also to the body count under George W. Bush — and he is excused, yet four deaths under a black president is an inexcusable travesty!)

Obama also received less public praise than George W. Bush would have received had 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden been exterminated by Bush when he still occupied the White House instead of by Obama in 2011. Don’t get me wrong; the whole bin Laden extermination affair remains fishy (pun intended), as bin Laden would have been more valuable alive than dead, and the supposed disposal of his body in the ocean was unnecessary and, dare I say, weird and therefore suspect.

The Middle East remains a mess, of course, and while I always have opposed Obama’s use of killer drones, and the use of killer drones in general (and the United States’ over-militarization in general), the bloodshed in the Middle East on Obama’s watch has been much, much less than it was on George W. Bush’s.

(If you say that Well, 9/11!, then I say that On August 6, 2001, while he was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush had been given a presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” Um, yeah. [Similarly, there had been plenty of warning that Hurricane Katrina might hit land and kill scores of people. Bush in effect had been issued a presidential daily briefing titled “Katrina Determined to Strike in US,” but he ignored that warning, too. After all, on the day that Katrina made landfall, he was too busy celebrating John McCainosaurus’ 69th birthday in Arizona.)

I acknowledge, of course, that the president of the United States of America can do only so much, that much is beyond his (or her) control, such as congressional gridlock and the separation of powers (which would include a center-right U.S. Supreme Court that has done such things as pick George W. Bush as president even though Al Gore had won the presidential election of 2000 and proclaim that corporations have the First Amendment right to make unlimited monetary contributions to political campaigns [corporations are not people and therefore don’t have First Amendment rights that even actual people don’t even have].)

But given Obama’s limitations of the presidency, I still don’t see that he much tried to deliver very substantially upon his promises of “hope” and “change,” and that would be his fault. He has had some restrictions, we must acknowledge, but has he maximized what he has been able to do around those restrictions? Methinks not.

And yes, of course Obama has been head and shoulders (and torso and legs) above the unelected George W. Bush, but I refuse to allow Bush II to have set the bar for the presidency that low; besides, he never legitimately was elected anyway, so, although death and destruction (including the collapse of the nation’s economy) were the result of his having stolen the 2000 presidential election, I don’t really even count Bush. He never should have happened in the first fucking place.

An aggregate of historians’ (and political scientists’ and political pundits’) rankings of the U.S. presidents puts President Obama at No. 17 out of 43. (Obama is called No. 44, but Grover Cleveland had two non-consecutive terms as president, and thus is called our 22nd and our 24th president, so we’ve actually had only 43 presidents.) Obama ranks in the top half, but for “hope” and “change” I expected much better. (George W. Bush, if you were wondering, ranks at No. 34, in the bottom 10, where he belongs, although I’d put him lower. Ronald Reagan ranks two notches above Obama, with which I disagree, and Bill Clinton ranks three notches below Obama.)

Obama’s race has never mattered to me. While history probably will most remark that he was our first non-all-white president, to me his presidency mostly has represented squandered opportunity; to me he mostly has been, at best, a caretaker in chief. I came to that conclusion no later than the close of 2010, when the Democrats lost the House.

And that is why I could not bring myself to vote for Obama again in November 2012. (I voted instead for the Green Party presidential candidate, which is something that I’d done before and something that I would do again; I owe the Democratic Party nothing.) I’d felt quite punk’d by those ubiquitous promises of “hope” and “change,” and to continue to vote for politicians who don’t follow through on their campaign promises is only to contribute to even more such broken campaign promises. If there is no penalty, how will it stop?

That and I knew that in November 2012 Obama was going to win California and all of its electoral votes anyway. (Yes, many Americans, ignorant of how their own nation and government function, don’t understand the Electoral College, under which if you live in a solidly blue or red state, as I do, your vote for president pretty much doesn’t count; we need a popular vote for the presidency, just as we have for the governorships, for the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and for every other elected office in the nation.)

I still believe that Obama, although overall he has been a rather disappointing, rather lackluster president, more of a caretaking president than a groundbreaking president, has made a better president than Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton would have, and because my principles haven’t changed — among which, I don’t support Democrats in name only, as that doesn’t solve the persistent problem of Democrats in name only — I cannot and will not support DINO Billary Clinton in any way.

(Again, if she wins the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, she’ll win all of California’s electoral votes in November 2016 anyway, regardless of whether I vote for her or not, so save your misinformed, dead-wrong assertion that if I don’t vote for DINO Billary I have helped whomever the Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate will be.)

So Barack Obama goes out in his final year not with a bang, but with a whimper. Already we’re looking ahead of him, with incessant media coverage of Donald Trump and to a lesser degree Billary Clinton.

I began with words from Salon.com’s Walker Bragman and I’ll end with more of his wise words:

… If Hillary gets the nomination, and is elected, she will inadequately address the problems this country faces, [problems] that are angering people, by negotiating from the center/right and then moving right as a compromise, to give us mere half-measures or quarter measures. I fear, given her New Democrat background, that she will likely use social programs and financial reform as bargaining chips.

I strongly believe that Hillary will kill the momentum that has been generated over the last eight years by Barack Obama, the first liberal (not progressive) Democrat to be president in years – and that will do more damage to the Democratic brand than four years of a Republican president would do to the country.

I am not saying that four years of a Republican would not be worse for the country than four years of Hillary in the immediate; I am saying that four years of Hillary will do more long-term damage by prolonging the Democratic realignment. [Absolutely agreed.]

Americans want real change – and they’re looking to the Democrats to provide it. But if we only put a Band-Aid on issues like the wealth gap and financial reform, which is essentially Hillary’s plan, Americans will not be satisfied. As much as politically minded people remind us that change is slow, what Hillary offers is too slow. Her kind of change is weakness.

If the New Deal taught us anything, it’s that unprecedented sweeping government action can happen quickly. FDR achieved significant reforms within the first hundred days of his presidency. Hillary’s supporters have not learned from Obama’s biggest blunder: negotiating from the middle with opponents on the far right. These people insist that we have to just keep making slow progress because all we can hope for are small gains.

They point to the weakness of the Democratic Party since the 1970s as evidence of their position. However, this is a common misunderstanding of history and the lesson of the Democrats’ decline from the 1970s to the 2000s. …

Yup.

FDR is listed as the second-best president on that aggregate of presidential rankings that I mentioned (he’s just behind Abraham Lincoln). Again, Bill Clinton is ranked at No. 20. We don’t need another President Clinton.

We need another FDR, and the closest that we have to that is Bernie Sanders.

*I had voted for Nader when he ran as the Green Party presidential candidate in November 2000, something that I’ve never regretted, and it’s not my fault that Americans just allowed BushCheneyCorp to steal the 2000 presidential election. They should have been rioting in the streets over that treasonously, blatantly stolen election, but they did not. And, of course, Team Gore should have fought much, much harder than it did instead of wanting to appear to be above the fray.

**My general stance on health care is that it is a human right and that no one should have to pay for it (or, minimally, that it should be free of cost to those whose annual income falls below a certain amount) and that health care never should be allowed to be delivered on a for-profit basis. “Obamacare” did nothing, to my knowledge, to solve the overarching problem of health care having fallen victim to profiteering, to greed — and thus having become wealth care.

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Liz’s new gig: Being the only real Democrat in the room

U.S. Senator Warren stands behind Senate Majority Leader Reid after leadership elections for the Congress in Washington

Reuters photo

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts listens to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada as he announces the Democratic Senate leadership lineup for the two-year congressional session that begins in January.

We may never know exactly how or why it came to be that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been given a Democratic Senate leadership position created just for her. ABC News has described the position as “liaison to liberal groups to ensure they have a voice in leadership meetings and discussions, according to a source familiar with the role.

The Huffington Post reported this reaction to the news:

“A liaison to liberals? I’ve never heard of such a thing,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), throwing his hands in the air. “I asked her about it and she said she was some kind of adviser. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what that all means.”

I’ll help Tommy Boy out:

With “Democrats” like, say, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who apparently believes that the predictably environmentally disastrous and good-only-for-the-plutocrats Keystone XL oil pipeline should be shoved down our throats in order to help her win re-election that she very apparently cannot win anyway, um, yeah, it’s time for the Democratic Party to finally fucking return to its progressive roots, from which it strayed no later than during Bill Clinton’s presidency, in which he repeatedly sold out the American people for his own political convenience (“welfare reform,” NAFTA, DOMA, etc.).

Undoubtedly, a President Billary would sell us out just as her hubby did, and we’ll see how much the Clintonian Barack Obama will sell us out during his remaining two years in office.

It is long past time for what remains of the Democratic Party to come together and proclaim:

If you are a politician in a backasswards (redundant) red state (such as Landrieu is), then become a Repugnican already. Just do it. Don’t fucking call yourself a “Democrat.” Because if you are espousing right-wing causes (such as the construction of an oil pipeline that is only meant to make a few filthy rich people even richer, the environment be damned), then you are a treasonous wingnut, and your place is within the Repugnican Tea Party. Stop further tarnishing the Democratic Party brand name with your right-wing bullshit and join the enemy already.

I only hope that Elizabeth Warren, despite her assertion that “Nobody’s clipping my wings,” didn’t strike a deal with the devil – namely, such as with the Billary Clinton camp (perhaps even with The Horned One Herself); and specifically, a deal to not run against Billary in 2016 in exchange for the newly created Senate leadership position.

In any event, Warren apparently rejects her job description as a liaison to the liberals. Huff Po again:

“[Soon-to-be Democratic Senate Minority Leader] Harry [Reid] asked me to be a strategic policy adviser, because that’s what I talk about, I talk about policy — college affordability and minimum wage and Social Security,” [Warren] said. “And that’s what I’m supposed to do and that’s what I will do. That’s my portfolio.”

You say potato, I say potato.

The gargantuan problem of income inequality mostly has been ignored by the Democratic Party during Obama’s tenure (as it was during Bill Clinton’s), and while I think of the striving toward socioeconomic equality and socioeconomic justice as progressivism rather than as “liberalism” (really, “liberals” – DINOs – like the Clintons have given the word “liberal” a bad name), yes, indeed, the Democratic Party has come off the rails to the extent that it sorely needs to be put back on track.

So while I personally eschew the word “liberal” because many if not most of those who call themselves “liberal” aren’t at all progressive (they want to be selfish, evil assholes, but they also don’t want the stigma of calling themselves Republicans, since Republicans are so widely reviled, so they call themselves “liberals”), Warren’s new job description – in her own words – does indeed sound like she’ll be a liaison to progressives (at least in part).

Every Democrat in D.C. should be a liaison to progressives, but, I suppose, it’s better to have one than none.

(Well, we have some progressives in D.C., such as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, but, interestingly, Wikipedia’s entry on the Congressional Progressive Caucus states that while 68 House members are part of the caucus, the entry lists only Sanders as the sole U.S. senator on the caucus. That’s way beyond fucked up. [Sanders, recall, calls himself a democratic socialist – and he’s the only such one in the U.S. Senate. He caucuses with the Democrats but does not call himself one, although he has considered running for the 2016 presidency on the Democratic Party ticket.])

We Americans still sorely need a new New Deal, which Obama at least quasi-promised but never delivered.

And without real Democrats/progressives like Elizabeth Warren – and Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (whose “Inequality for All” you should watch if you haven’t already) – pushing for a new New Deal, with our help,  it won’t materialize, because the establishmentarian “Democrats” are too fat, lazy and comfortable feeding from the corporate trough to lift a fucking finger for the American people (except, perhaps, to extend their middle fingers to the American people) – which is why, I believe, they lose elections.

Maybe, just maybe, the elevation of Elizabeth Warren to a leadership post is at least the dim recognition of the Democratic Party hacks that without the party’s base on board, the party is weaker and is going to continue to flounder, at least in midterm elections.

What we progressives cannot allow Warren’s promotion to be is a substitute for the actual progressivism that the Democratic Party abandoned some time ago.

We allow DINO Billary Clinton into the White House at our own peril.

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George McGovern’s death makes me yearn for real Democrats

George McGovern, War Critic Routed by Nixon in 1972

Getty Images

The death today of George McGovern, a progressive who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent President Richard M. Nixon in 1972 (and who is shown above right campaigning in 1972 with his first running mate, Thomas Eagleton), only reminds me, shortly before another presidential election, how far the Democratic Party has fallen.

It’s a perverse fact of politics that the possession of intelligence and compassion (concomitantly known as wisdom) often, if not usually, dooms an individual who is running for high public office.

I write that with the death of real Democrat George McGovern* in mind.

I was only four years old when in 1972 Democrat McGovern lost to incumbent Repugnican President Richard M. Nixon in a landslide. A landslide — and look how wonderful Nixon’s second term turned out to be: It was the Democratic Party’s operations that Nixon’s operatives were snooping into in June 1972 in the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to Tricky Dick Nixon’s resignation in disgrace in 1974. (Nixon’s remains the only presidential resignation in U.S. history.)

The masses often get it wrong.

I don’t remember McGovern’s presidential campaign, of course. The first sitting president I remember seeing on television was Gerald Ford, who followed the disgraced-by-Watergate Nixon, and I seem to remember seeing a perpetually stumbling and falling Ford parodied by Chevy Chase on “Saturday Night Live” more than seeing the actual Ford himself on TV.

I remember seeing also Jimmy Carter on TV, and of course I remember Ronald Reagan and all of those who have followed him. But during Carter’s first and only term, I was an elementary school student who was interested in “Star Wars,” not in politics, and it wasn’t until Reagan’s eight-year reign during most of the 1980s that my political identity started to form.

My father always has been apolitical, not giving a rat’s ass about anything outside of his immediate personal universe, and my mother is one of those “swing voters” who seem to make their presidential picks based upon the logic of a Magic 8 Ball. (My parents reside in Arizona, where they belong, and I in California, where I belong.)

My point in bringing up my parents — which makes me feel like Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka when the topic of his parents is brought up — is to illustrate that neither of them even attempted to influence my own political views, with one of them being apolitical and the other being politically muddled at best, so the fact that I grew into a left-winger in the red state of Arizona, which is not conducive to the development of little “socialists,” suggests to me that a progressive political viewpoint is the natural path of human development, unless that path is obstructed (such as by committed right-wing parents who probably should be committed, a “Christo”fascist social environment, etc.) and the journeyer cannot overcome those obstructions, as I was able to do.

The first presidential race that I remember caring about was the 1984 race. I was in high school at the time, and I supported Democrat Walter Mondale over the re-election of Reagan, and I don’t know if I even could have articulated very well why I preferred Mondale over Reagan, since it certainly wasn’t my parents who influenced my preference for Mondale. If memory serves it was a visceral thing, my visceral, intuitive identification of Mondale as the truly wise (again, the compassionate and intelligent) candidate and Reagan as the poser, the phony.

Of course, in 1984 the very first presidential candidate whom I supported (not with money, because as a minor I didn’t have any [and are minors allowed to contributed to presidential campaigns anyway?], and not with my vote, because I wasn’t yet 18), very much like McGovern had done in 1972, lost to the Repugnican incumbent in a landslide.

Four years later, in 1988, Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, whom I supported and voted for as a college student (I remember having to sell my plasma as a starving college student, so I’m pretty certain that I wasn’t able to give Dukakis any money), performed barely better against George H. W. Bush than Mondale had performed against Reagan four years earlier.

Um, yeah, so I wasn’t off to a great start in life in my presidential picks, and for 12 long years as I was politically budding, I suffered through first Ronald Reagan and then George Bush I. (I never will forget graduating from college with a worthless degree but with plenty of student-loan debt during The First George Bush Recession of the late 1980s-early 1990s. These early socioeconomic experiences tend to color your political outlook for life, as the Great Depression very apparently colored my Scrooge-like maternal grandmother’s outlook for the rest of her life.)

Then in the 1990s came pseudo-Democrat Bill Clinton, who, although he benefitted from a rebounding economy (how much of the 1990s’ economic rebound was from his policies and how much of it was from the natural course of economic events I’m not certain), gave us such gems as NAFTA, welfare “reform” and DOMA — oh, yeah, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, because having an intern blow you in the Oval Office never can blow up in your face.

So the first Democratic presidential candidate whom I supported — I rooted for and voted for Clinton in 1992 and in 1996 — and who actually won the presidential election was the so-called Democrat who destroyed the Democratic Party by dragging it so far to the right that the Democratic Party today looks like Repugnican Lite. Yay!

Bill Clinton benefitted from a three-way race in 1992, and won with a plurality, not a majority, of the popular vote, which today’s Democratic hacks forget or ignore. (Dems deny that third-party candidate Ross Perot, who garnered a-very-impressive-for-a-third-party-candidate 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, harmed George H. W. Bush’s re-election bid, but it seems to me that the majority of Perot’s supporters were right of center and that most of them would have voted for Bush over Clinton. [If memory serves, my Magic-8-Ball-wielding mother voted for Perot, and my guess is that had Perot not been a choice, she would have voted for Bush or would not have voted at all.])

I get it that after a string of Democratic presidential defeats — George McGovern, Jimmy Carter (denied a second term), Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis — and after long time in the political wilderness during the Nixon/Ford, Reagan and Bush I years — the Democratic Party apparently wanted to pull away, far away, from the egghead image.

Democrat Adlai Stevenson, who lost to Repugnican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and again in 1956 yet sought (but did not get) the Democratic Party’s nomination yet again in 1960, seems to have been the eggheaded Democrats’ founding father, at least of our modern era, and indeed, Stevenson was the last presidential candidate from either of the two major parties who, despite having lost a presidential election, was nominated by his party to run in the very next presidential election. (These days, losing a presidential election very apparently means that you’ll never get another shot at your party’s presidential nomination again.)

The last Democratic egghead who lost — but who, surreally, actually won — a presidential election was, of course, Al Gore, who in 2000 won 48.4 percent of the popular vote to George W. Bush’s 47.9 percent, for a difference of more than 500,000 votes.** Only in the United States of America could the candidate who won fewer votes be made — crowned — president by the U.S. Supreme Court and his cronies (such as his brother, who was governor of the pivotal state that he “won,” and the chief elections official of that state who made damn sure that he “won” it), and this is yet another of those wonderful, deeply anti-democratic events during my lifetime that has shaped my current outlook.

So Al Gore’s win/loss in 2000 might have been the death knell for the eggheaded Democratic presidential candidate, but isn’t there some middle ground between a Bill Clinton and an Adlai Stevenson?

You might argue that President Barack Obama more or less fills that middle ground, since he’s known as both intelligent and non-nerdy (and, importantly, highly unlikely to be blown by an intern), but today we have Obama in a race for re-election that shouldn’t be nearly as close as it is, and probably wouldn’t be as close as it is had Obama spent his first two years in office actually delivering upon his ubiquitous 2008 promises of hope and change while both houses of Congress were controlled by his own party, a rare alignment of the stars that never should be squandered, and that even George W. Bush, dipshit that he is, did not squander. (Nor did Bush II, dipshit that he is, shit and piss all over his own fucking base, which seems to be the Obama administration’s and the Obamabots’ favorite fucking pastime.)

In Barack Obama, other than in empty rhetoric and false promises, we see precious little of the spirit of George McGovern that used to infuse the Democratic Party. In Obama we see instead the cynical, opportunistic, center-right spirit of Bill Clinton, an approach that the modern Democratic Party argues is the only approach that works, yet in actuality has no track record of effectiveness.

Again, in my book, Bill Clinton won in 1992 in no small part because of “spoiler” Ross Perot, and again, in 1992 Clinton garnered a plurality (43 percent of the popular vote), not a majority. (The only other president during my lifetime who garnered not even a full 44 percent of the popular vote was Richard Nixon in 1968, the year of my birth.)

Clinton again failed to get a full majority even in 1996 (he got 49 percent of the popular vote), and in his 1996 (and pre-Lewinsky) re-election bid he benefitted from having an incredibly wooden Repugnican opponent in Bob Dull — er, Dole — and he benefitted from a strong economy, which, again, I am not certain how much resulted from his economic policies and how much resulted from the natual ebb and flow of the nation’s economy.

Let’s reflect upon the fact that Barack Obama garnered 53 percent of the popular vote in 2008, which was better that Bill Clinton or George W. Bush ever did in the elections from 1992 through 2004. Obama’s 53 percent in 2008 bested Jimmy Carter’s and John F. Kennedy’s take of the popular vote, too.

How did Obama do it?

Again, he ran on a progressive (if too-vague) platform of hope and change. That was the bait.

Obviously, if Obama hadn’t perceived that that was what the majority of Americans wanted, that wouldn’t have been what he promised.

That progressivism is what the majority of Americans wanted, and that progressivism is what Obama Version 2008 promised (even if gauzily), even though his hacks (the Obamabots) love to engage in historical revision and deny that fact, but what Obama has delivered as president is just more Clintonesque, center-right, “bipartisan,” Repugnican-ass-licking bullshit, replete with Billary Clinton as his secretary of state and Bill Clinton as his current campaign surrogate.

So the news of George McGovern’s death early this morning at a hospice in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at age 90 only underscores for me, with another presidential election only a little more than two weeks away, the fact that the Democratic Party of today is only a shadow of what it used to be.

I lament that the only presidents named George whom I got during my lifetime are surnamed Bush, and I have to wonder how George McGovern felt about the likes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who turned the Democratic Party into the center-right, corporate-ass-licking, lesser-of-two-evils monstrosity of a fundraising machine that it is today.

And I can’t see how I can honor the memory of George McGovern by blackening the oval next to the name of Barack Obama on the mail-in ballot that sits just yards from me right now as I type this sentence, yet unmarked.

*Wikipedia’s entry on George McGovern reports, in part:

George Stanley McGovern (July 19, 1922-October 21, 2012) was a historian, author and U.S. representative, U.S. senator and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election.

McGovern grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota…. [After he fought in World War II] he gained degrees from Dakota Wesleyan University and Northwestern University, culminating in a Ph.D., and was a history professor. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958. After a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 1960, he was elected there in 1962.

As a senator, McGovern was an exemplar of modern American liberalism. He became most known for his outspoken opposition to the growing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He staged a brief nomination run in the 1968 presidential election as a stand-in for the assassinated Robert F. Kennedy.

The subsequent McGovern-Fraser Commission fundamentally altered the Democratic presidential nominating process, by greatly increasing the number of caucuses and primaries and reducing the influence of party insiders.

The McGovern-Hatfield Amendment sought to end the Vietnam War by legislative means but was defeated in 1970 and 1971.

McGovern’s long-shot, grassroots-based 1972 presidential campaign found triumph in gaining the Democratic nomination but left the party badly split ideologically, and the failed vice-presidential pick of Thomas Eagleton undermined McGovern’s credibility. In the general election McGovern lost to incumbent Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American history. Re-elected senator in 1968 and 1974, McGovern was defeated in a bid for a fourth term in 1980.

Throughout his career, McGovern was involved in issues related to agriculture, food, nutrition, and hunger….

Wikipedia also notes that anyone running against the incumbent Nixon would have had an uphill battle anyway, but after high-profile Democrats such as Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey and other Democrats declined to be McGovern’s running mate, McGovern picked U.S. Sen. Thomas Eagleton, whom McGovern later replaced with Kennedy clan in-law Sargent Shriver after Eagleton’s history of treatment for mental illness came to light, casting doubt on his fitness to handle the presidency if it came to that, and raising doubts about McGovern’s judgment.

Wikipedia notes that Team McGovern didn’t vet Eagleton thoroughly and that Eagleton and his wife intentionally kept Eagleton’s hospitalizations for mental illness from McGovern. Bloomberg notes that less than a week after McGovern had proclaimed that he supported Eagleton “1,000 percent,” he replaced Eagleton with Shriver.

Bloomberg notes that McGovern later wrote in his autobiography, “I did what I had to, but the Eagleton matter ended whatever chance there was to defeat Richard Nixon in 1972. In the minds of many Americans the Eagleton episode convicted me of incompetence, vacillation, dishonesty and cold calculation, all at the same time.”

Bloomberg notes that “The Eagleton misstep ushered in today’s rigorous vetting of potential vice presidential candidates,” which doesn’t really explain what happened with Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin, but whatever…

**You might argue that the last Democratic egghead who ran for president actually was John Kerry in 2004, and while he does hail from Massachusetts, a la egghead Michael Dukakis (indeed, Kerry was Dukakis’ lieutenant governor), Vietnam vet Kerry ran such a war-hero campaign (the “swiftboaters'” defamation of him notwithstanding) that, in my estimation, anyway, he fairly escaped being branded as an egghead.

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Howard Dean in 2012

Barack Obama

Associated Press photo

“[President] Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake,” notes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Um, “almost”?

The buzz within the left-leaning blogosphere and elsewhere on the ’Net  is that the left is done with Barack Obama. Obama’s latest broken campaign promise — that he would not allow the unelected Bush regime’s tax cuts for the wealthy to continue — seems to be the final nail in Obama’s political coffin.

Fuck the left, I hear the chorus of Clintonistas sing, but without the left, what support does Obama have?

The Repugnican Tea Party dipshits always hated Obama and always will hate him because he’s not a wingnutty white man. (Was Obama’s talk of “bipartisanship,” which is imfuckingpossible with the fucking incorrigibly untrustworthy Repugnicans, naivete or political bullshit?)

Now that Obama has lost the left, whom does Obama have? The notoriously fickle “swing voters”? They’re not nearly enough for a presidential candidate to win an election.

Obama is sitting in the Oval Office right now because of the “swing voters” and because he bamboozled enough of us on the left. Without the left, he’s nothing.

I know, I know, I’ve heard the mantra before: Obama never promised the left a rose garden.

Except that he did.

He promised “hope.” He promised “change.”

Clintonesque centrism is not “hope” or “change.” It is more of the same.

Barack Obama has fucked over, repeatedly, those of us on the left. And we’re done with him.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is no rabid revolutionary, but even he this past week wrote:

Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.

So what are Democrats to do? The answer, increasingly, seems to be that they’ll have to strike out on their own. In particular, Democrats in Congress still have the ability to put their opponents on the spot…

It would be much easier, of course, for Democrats to draw a line if Mr. Obama would do his part. But all indications are that the party will have to look elsewhere for the leadership it needs.

Yikes. And yup!

Perhaps Obama’s biggest sin is that he punked millions of young voters who now, because of his betrayals, on one issue after another, might be turned off from progressive political activism for a long time — or even for a lifetime.

Or maybe, just maybe, Obama’s failure to be a Democratic president will spur a progressive backlash.

Maybe, as Krugman seems to indicate must happen, the left will flow around Obama the Obstacle in Chief. Maybe Team Obama will discover that the left is bigger than Barack, that when Team Obama says, “No, we can’t,” the left will reply with a resounding, “Yes, we fucking can! And we will! With or without you!”

In any event, I hope that Obama, who has demonstrated amply that he doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing, will make one wise presidential decision: not to run for re-election.

If obstructionist Obama does not step aside, I hope that he is challenged in the 2012 Democratic presidential primary, as Jimmy Carter was challenged in the 1980 presidential primary.

While I didn’t think (and still don’t think) that 2004 was the year for Howard Dean, I think that 2012 has Dean’s name written all over it. He would have my support in 2012.

In 2008 Barack Obama simply rode the wave that Howard Dean created in the 2004 presidential election campaign — and he has squandered it.

2012 is the year for Howard Dean to reap the benefits of what he began in 2004, and we can relegate the one-term Barack Obama to the sorry footnotes of U.S. history.

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No. 44 is down to 44 percent

US President Obama speaks during an event for ...

Reuters photo

How many of those who don’t approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance disapprove of it because of the way he has sold out the left, such as by having sold Shirley Sherrod down the river to the wingnuts and by not having chastised his spokesweasel for bashing the “professional left” (a.k.a. Obama’s base)?

President Barack Obama (pictured yesterday above) now has the lowest approval rating that he has had since he took office in January 2009, Politico reports. The Gallup poll that Politico cites puts Obama’s approval rating at only 44 percent.

Politico opines:

The drop can likely be attributed to the loss of independents. Obama’s approval rating among independents now stands at 39 percent, down 4 points from June. Obama began his presidency with the support 74 percent of independents.

Eighty percent of Democrats still approve of the president’s job performance, down only 2 percent from June.

OK, so where do we of the professional left fit in?

I’m a registered Green Party member. I don’t call myself a Democrat because way too many Democrats disgust me with their cowardice and corporate ass-licking.

I don’t consider myself to be an “independent,” either. I consider myself to be a progressive, a leftist — yes, a professional leftist.

I don’t approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, and had I been contacted in Gallup’s poll, I would have indicated as such.

But, it seems to me, those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance are presumed to be Repugnicans, members of the far right (mostly the “tea party” dipshits) or “independents”/“swing voters,” whose views consistently lean to the right.

How many of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance disapprove of it because they believe, like I do, that he’s not nearly to the left enough?

We professional leftists, it seems to me, are unaccounted for in the polling.

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Why can’t Obama get any love?

Obama asks Senate to pass small business jobs ...

Reuters photo

A beleaguered President Barack Obama called a last-minute press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday afternoon after a self-induced politically disastrous week. Meanwhile, Obama administration betrayee Shirley Sherrod says that she’s still deliberating whether she will return to the Obama administration or whether she could be a more powerful and more effective agent of hope and change from outside of the administration. (I hope that she chooses the latter course of action, that she writes a book and goes on a lecture tour, perhaps.) 

Rachel Maddow (whose stuff I should watch more often) has a piece on how President Barack Obama just can’t get his legislative and other accomplishments acknowledged. She notes that the Beltway has dubbed this phenomenon “the Obama paradox.”

Eh. It’s not rocket science. Let’s look at the pieces of it:

Obama never was going to get and never will get the support of the Repugnicans, something that he knew or should have known even before he was inaugurated. Not only is he a Democrat (at least titularly), but he isn’t a white man. Two strikes and he’s out.

I’m not sure whether Obama’s (rather lame) attempts at bipartisanship were naive or whether they were political kabuki — that is, he knew that he’d never get any significant bipartisan support, but he figured that he’d better put on a good show of trying for it.

Also, because they’ve coined “the Obama paradox,” I’ll coin “the Bush effect.”

“The Bush effect” is the phenomenon in which the president who preceded you was so fucking awful that the presidential bar has been lowered all the fucking way to China. Therefore, in order to be perceived as anything near a Lincolnesque or Washingtonian president, you pretty much have to raise the dead — or at least heal the blind.

Then, there is this phenomenon in which, because American standards have dropped so low, too many Americans want praise and special recognition for just doing their jobs.

This, of course, ties in with the Bush effect, but the fact is that Obama has just been doing his job. (Minimally, that is; the legislation that he’s been able to pass has given too many concessions to the corporatocrats and has not been progressive enough.)

Obama is supposed to lead the nation in a way that benefits the most number of Americans. That’s the job of the president of the United States. (If the POTUS is a Repugnican, then the job description changes: the Repugnican POTUS leads the nation in a way that benefits the richest.)

For Obama to brag about just doing his job is pathetic and sad.

And then there are the Obama administration’s fuckups. The Shirley Sherrod debacle, most recently and perhaps most notably.

As Maddow recounts, Obama yesterday added an unscheduled afternoon appearance before the press corps to recap his legislative accomplishments of the week.

However, even that was a tactical mistake — it only served to underscore the fact that his administration had fucked up royally by knee-jerkedly throwing Shirley Sherrod under the bus at the very first whiff of the approach of the right-wing, white-supremacist lynch mob.

To betray your own supporter, to sell someone who helped to put you where you are down the river — can you go lower than that?

Maybe we should start calling him Judas Obama. (If he kisses you, be afraid — be very afraid.)

Obama’s refusal to dance with those of us who brought him to the dance — we liberals/progressives (I gave him hundreds of dollars [primarily to knock DINO Billary Clinton out of the primary, admittedly]) — has made us disgusted with and deeply disappointed in him.

So Judas Obama gets no love (and never was going to get any love) from the Repugnicans and their “tea-partying,” cross-burning ilk, and because he has betrayed us after snookering us with his promises of “hope” and “change,” he gets no love even from us progressives.

That leaves him only with the “swing voters,” whom I prefer to call the dumbfuck voters.

And they wouldn’t know a competent president from their bungholes. They still believe that George W. Bush legitimately was elected as president in 2000 and that Saddam Hussein orchestrated 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction, for fuck’s sake.

So Obama’s only potential allies, that I can see, were those of us on the left.

And he has burned us.

Repeatedly.

Obama finally seems to maybe have something-like-sincerely acknowledged the errors of his ways, but this far into the game, my sense is that it’s probably too little, too late, and that his latest appeal to liberals (which he made just today) rings among the vast majority of us as hollow.

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