Tag Archives: liberals

Live-blogging the 9th Dem debate

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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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Billary should debate before New York primary, and I’m with Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Colby College in Waterville on Wednesday.

Centralmaine.com photo

Actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon appears at a Bernie Sanders rally in Maine last month. Sarandon has taken heat from the Billarybots/”liberal” thought police for apparently having stated during an interview on MSNBC that “some people” believe that a Trump presidency would bring about a progressive revolution — and, worse, for having declined to state that she’ll vote for Billary Clinton in November if Billary is the Democratic Party presidential candidate. So much for freedom of speech and freedom of choice; the Billarybots will have none of that. No, they want a very narrow band of possible public political discussion, which must always be pro-Billary, and they expect a veritable pledge of allegiance to Queen Billary. Susan Sarandon doesn’t speak for all of us Berners, of course, but speaks for herself — and it’s her constitutional right to speak her mind, and for the most part I agree with her.

I’ll sound like I’m making a playground taunt, but I still must ask Billary Clinton: What’s the matter? Are you a ’fraidy cat?

See, in early February, Bernie Sanders agreed to an additional presidential debate, this one just before the New Hampshire primary. He didn’t have to agree to it; he was leading Billary handily in the New Hampshire polls, so politically, he certainly didn’t need the debate. (Indeed, he went on to win New Hampshire, garnering 60.4 percent of the vote.)

The Billary campaign had taunted Bernie about participating in the last-minute, added-on February 4 debate in New Hampshire — there already had been a debate in the state on December 19 — and Bernie agreed to the last-minute, added-on debate, as long as three more debates were scheduled in addition to it, bringing the total to 10 debates from the originally planned paltry six debates.

So we’re eight debates down and two to go — only the exact dates of debates Nos. 9 and 10 never were agreed upon; it was only agreed that there would be one debate in April and one in May. Nor were the locations of debates Nos. 9 and 10 ever set; the Democratic National Committee’s website still shows that the two debates will be held sometime in April and in May — somewhere.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has challenged Billary Clinton’s to hold the April debate somewhere in the state of New York before the state’s primary election on April 19.

Team Billary has resisted this challenge to the point that I’d wondered whether they would honor the agreement to hold an April and a May debate at all. After all, playing “tone” police, they’ve whined that Bernie has been too “negative” — and have appeared poised to use that utterly bullshit excuse to perhaps back out of the remaining two debates entirely.

On BernieSanders.com today was posted an update titled “Sanders Welcomes Clinton Agreement on New York Debate,” but the update notes only that

… After her campaign opposed a New York debate for over a month, Clinton told reporters at a campaign stop in La Crosse, Wisconsin, that she was open to the idea of debating Sanders in Brooklyn.

The Sanders campaign hailed the development as a victory for Democratic voters everywhere and for New York voters in particular.

The Clinton campaign’s earlier position was that the April debate agreed upon by both campaigns should be held after the New York primary. In recent days, one Clinton operative suggested the debate might not happen at all if Sanders did not change his “tone.” …

This sounds like it’s far from an actual “agreement” by Billary to debate Bernie in New York before April 19, and no such debate has been announced by the DNC, so as far as I’m concerned, as I type this sentence it’s not happening yet.

Again, Bernie agreed to the last-minute, added-on February 4 debate in New Hampshire when he was leading there, and Real Clear Politics right now has Billary leading in New York by more than 30 percentage points, so she has zero reason to refuse to debate there before April 19 — except that perhaps she’s chicken. (Yes, I can do the playground taunt from time to time.)

Finally, a word on Susan Sarandon’s recent “controversial” remarks on Donald Trump on MSNBC. First, if you watch the actual clip, you’ll see how much her one short remark has been taken out of context, but her actual words are: “Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the [progressive (I presume)] revolution immediately if he gets in, then things will really, you know, explode.”

Her horrified pundit-interviewer, Chris Hayes, asks her, “Don’t you think that’s dangerous?”

She responds that our status quo is dangerous. She states:

“… If you think that it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now, then you’re not in touch with the status quo. The status quo is not working, and I think that it’s dangerous to think we can continue the way we are, with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with the low minimum wage, with threats to women’s rights, and think that you can’t do something huge to turn that around, because the country is not in good shape. If you’re in the middle class, it’s disappearing. …”

(Indeed. Billary herself, however, proclaims that “America has never stopped being great.” Besides being a Reaganesque propaganda point, of course America has been great for Billary, whose entire political career has consisted of selling us commoners out for her own gain [and her cronies’ gain]. We commoners, however, have had a very different experience of the United States of America, whether it’s popular or “patriotic” to point that fact out or not. [In my book, it’s incredibly patriotic to point out one’s nation’s flaws, with the aim of strengthening the nation by so doing.])

I agree with Sarandon’s analysis of our political predicament, for the most part.

It indeed is possible — probably even probable — that a President Trump would usher in an actual progressive revolution much more quickly than such a revolution ever would occur under a President Billary — whose political role for her corporate sponsors, of course, always has been to forestall such a revolution for as long as possible, after all.

(One tactic in forestalling such a revolution, for example, is to emphasize identity politics and social wedge issues, you see, rather than to discuss income disparity and other socioeconomic issues. Politicos dutifully upholding the socioeconomic status quo must forever keep the attention of the masses diverted as much as is possible.

Donald Trump uses the scapegoat, such as the Mexican and the Muslim, whereas Billary uses other distractions, such as “feminism” and race, pandering to women, to non-whites, to non-heterosexuals, et. al. [Yes, pandering, because in the end Billary cares only about Billary.])

If it comes to it, the choice between Billary Clinton and The Donald, then, it seems to me, if I interpret Sarandon’s words correctly, would be the choice between a progressive revolution that is much more likely to happen under a fascist demagogue like Der Fuehrer Donald than it is under a stay-the-course, status-quo-lovin’ DINO like Billary Clinton, or to suffer under four or even eight more years of another DINO president, in which the nation continues to decline and we commoners continue to languish in this years-long decline facilitated by the Democratic Party as well as the Repugnican Tea Party (a.k.a. the Coke Party and the Pepsi Party).

Do we dare risk significant change coming out of the chaos of a revolution? What if the bad guys win the revolution? A progressive outcome, after all, isn’t guaranteed in an all-out revolution, is it?

So do we risk all-out revolution, with only the possibility of positive change, or do we stick with the known, which is that we keep languishing in a system of (among other things) obscene income inequality and environmental degradation? Do we trade a long and slow — but sure — death for a possible quicker death or an actual return to good health?

It has indeed come to this choice, it seems to me, and at this point, I’m leaning more toward a Trump-inspired revolution than four or eight more years of the same languishing, the same, slow, downhill slide for us commoners under a President Billary, under a Democratic Party establishment that sold us out years ago, no later than in the 1990s, when the first President Clinton was behind the wheel of the ship of state.

A revolution would be like cutting off the gangrenous limb quickly: unpleasant and very painful and very shocking, to be sure, but quite possibly if not probably life-saving.

Not cutting the gangrenous limb off, however, would mean a slow, certain death.

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Cry of the Clintonistas: ‘Surrender, Dorothy!’

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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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Notes on the Oscars that I didn’t watch

Cate Blanchett holds her Oscar for Best Actress for the film "Blue Jasmine" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Cate Blanchett is not just a pretty face, but a talented actress whose work should have been recognized with a Best Actress award more than a decade ago. Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto, on the other hand, unfortunately is just a pretty face…

Jared Leto, holds his Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in "Dallas Buyers Club" at the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California

Reuters photos

I don’t have cable television and don’t desire ever to have cable TV, and so I didn’t watch the Oscars last night (this year, for the first time ever, ABC made live streaming available — but only to those in certain markets who already have cable!), but I still have plenty of opinions about this year’s.

First off, it was about time that Cate Blanchett won a Best-Actress Oscar. She was robbed in 1998, when she was nominated for the award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in “Elizabeth” but lost to Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t hate Paltrow as so many others apparently do, but she didn’t turn in the best performance that year.

Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress again in 2007 for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” but the academy passed on her again, so last night was the third time and the charm for Blanchett, and she deserved it, as she turned in the best performance of the year, hands down.*

Indeed, Blanchett’s performance is what saves “Blue Jasmine,” which is not one of Woody Allen’s best scripts, even though it earned him yet another nomination for Best Original Screenplay (he did not win, and deservedly so, since the screenplay is a fairly trite rehash).

I’m glad that the members of the academy didn’t snub Blanchett again, this time because they didn’t want to appear to be supporters of child molestation, because to the hysterical members of the pro-Mia-Farrow camp, you see, anyone remotely associated with Woody Allen is for child molestation. (Under this “logic,” not only does Blanchett support child molestation for having worked with Allen, but if you even cast your Oscar ballot for Blanchett, then you, too, support child molestation, by extension.)

“12 Years a Slave” is a worthy Best Picture winner, but I would have been OK with either “Philomena” or “Nebraska” having won (of those two, “Philomena” probably is my favorite).

I saw all of the nominees for Best Picture except for “Her,” “Captain Phillips” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I would like to catch “Her,” and probably will, but the subject matter of neither “Captain Phillips” nor “The Wolf of Wall Street” appeals to me, and I’m a bit overdosed on Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio as it is (one word: overexposure). (Seriously, though, it wasn’t long ago enough that I saw DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby. I’m good for a while.)

“American Hustle” is an OK film — good, but not great — and “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyers Club” both have been over-hyped. None of those three nominees deserved to be named Best Picture.

“Gravity” is watchable (I saw it at IMAX), but, in my book, fatally flawed by its incredible — literally incredible, as in unbelievable — plot.

“Dallas Buyers Club” also is watchable enough, but come on, it’s like “Philadelphia” meets “Transamerica.” This gay man is as sick of movies about gay and/or transgender people being about AIDS as black folks are sick of movies being about slavery.

That said, yes, obviously the academy is filled with (mostly white) liberal guilt, and so if you make a movie about slavery, AIDS or the Holocaust, yes, your chances of winning an Oscar go up astronomically.

Again, “12 Years a Slave” is a worthy film, as I noted when it came out, but I do believe that (white) liberal guilt boosted it, just as it boosted “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Speaking further of which, I have enjoyed the return of Matthew McConaughey, whose performances in “Bernie,” “Killer Joe” and “Mud” all were good, but it seems to me that the main reason that he won Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” is that he lost so much weight to play the role, which is not quite the same as great acting, but also because he played a man with AIDS, which also sure was good for Tom Hanks (who won Best Actor for the unworthy film “Philadelphia”).

I’d have given Best Actor to Chiwetel Ejiofor** for his performance in “12 Years a Slave” — not out of white liberal guilt, but because I think that he gave the best performance of the year.

At least the enthralling Lupita Nyong’o wasn’t robbed of the Best Supporting Actress award for her great performance in “12 Years a Slave.” Again, no white liberal guilt there — she earned that award, turning in a performance that probably is the heart and soul of the film. (I love Jennifer Lawrence, who did a good job in “American Hustle,” but this award wasn’t hers.)

And Jared Leto — don’t even get me started on him.

OK, so just as McConaughey won Best Actor for having lost a lot of weight and played a guy with AIDS, Leto won Best Supporting Actor for having lost a significant amount of weight and played a transgender individual with AIDS.

This was the result of full-blown liberal guilt. I don’t see that Leto’s performance was better than was Bradley Cooper’s in “American Hustle” or Michael Fassbender’s in “12 Years a Slave.” It was the transgender person with AIDS angle that did it.

I fully support equality for transgender individuals — I am a gay man myself — but isn’t coddling a historically oppressed minority group in a saccharin, maudlin manner just the flipside of oppressing that group?

Also, just as “Gravity’s” fatal flaw, in my book, is that its protagonist’s fantastic feats are just not believable, in my book “Dallas Buyers Club’s” fatal flaw is its portrayal of the protagonist, Ron Woodroof, as a homophobic heterosexual man with AIDS when, in fact, very apparently those who knew the real-life Woodroof — including his ex-wife — have said that he actually was at least bisexual, but possibly, if not even probably, gay. (Indeed, the photos of him that I’ve seen of him make my gaydar smoke.) Oh, and those who knew Woodroof dispute that he ever displayed homophobia (which, admittedly, a closeted gay man might do, especially in a homophobic state like Texas and in that day and time, to “prove” that he’s “heterosexual”).

Why the apparent change of such an important detail (the protagonist’s sexual orientation)?

Would Woodroof’s story have been less interesting if it had been that of just another faggot who had died of AIDS?

Can you pretend to be respectful of the gay “community” when you change a central character in a “real-life” story from non-heterosexual to heterosexual?

And in Jared Leto’s acceptance speech, he gave an unfortunate (but fortunately brief) shout-out to the “dreamers” of Venezuela and Ukraine. Wow.

On the surface, the “causes” of Venezuela and Ukraine appear to be great bandwagons for a good guilty white liberal to jump upon, but when you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find that those so-called-by-Jared-Leto “dreamers” are, in Venezuela, plutocratic and pro-plutocratic wingnuts who are just bitter that the socialist president there won the last presidential election — not by much, but he still won. They’re bitter that they lost the election and so they’re trying to force a do-over election (this was done in my state of California in 2003, with the gubernatorial recall election, which was, for all intents and purposes, just a do-over of the previous close gubernatorial election).

I fully expect wingnuts to support the Venezuelan “cause” of toppling a democratically elected socialist president because he is not a right-wing, pro-plutocratic president, but Leto, who presumably fashions himself to be a good liberal, should know better.

And the “dreamers” in Ukraine are largely far-right-wing nationalists, some of them even actual neo-Nazis.

Sure, they have a “dream.” Hitler had a dream, too.

These dreams might be great for them, but others of us, these dreams are nightmares.

Jared Leto, if he wants to be remembered as having been more than just pretty, really, really, really should do his homework before he endorses a “cause” in front of a massive, worldwide audience.

*OK, to be fair and thorough, I  saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actress except for Meryl Streep’s in “August: Osage County,” since the film’s previews suggest that it’s a mediocre, sappy film, worthy of perhaps catching on DVD. Still, I can’t imagine that Streep’s performance in that surpassed Blanchett’s in “Blue Jasmine.” My second choice for best actress would have been Judi Dench for “Philomena.”

**To be fair and thorough, I saw all of the performances that were nominated for Best Actor except for Leonardo DiCaprio’s in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” (Hey, if I got paid to see [and write about] movies that I wouldn’t ordinarily see, that would be different!)

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Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’: Flawed but worthwhile Oscar bait

Film review

FILE - This undated publicity photo released by DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox shows, Daniel Day-Lewis, center rear, as Abraham Lincoln, in a scene from the film, "Lincoln."  Day-Lewis, who plays the 16th president in Steven Spielberg's epic film biography “Lincoln,” settled on a higher, softer voice, saying it's more true to descriptions of how the man actually spoke. “Lincoln” opened in limited release Nov. 9, 2012, and expands nationwide Friday, Nov. 16. (AP Photo/DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, David James, File)

Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln talks strategy in regards to passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in Steven Spielberg’s fairly wonky and occasionally sappy but worthwhile “Lincoln.”

Steven Spielberg’s grand, sweeping, gimme-some-Oscars-already epic “Lincoln” starts with a schmaltzy scene and ends with a rather yawn-inducing, anti-climactic one, but between these two disappointing bookends is a film that’s worth watching despite its flaws.

Even though history no doubt has sainted him, or at least sanitized him, Abraham Lincoln probably was our most important president, and Spielberg’s and playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner’s Lincoln steps off of the pedestal now and then to get his hands dirty in the business of politics, and even utters the word “shit.”

Mostly, though, Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln delivers biblical-sounding language that, I surmise, your typical American moviegoer (who has some degree of poverty of language) often won’t even bother to try to comprehend.

Still, the anecdotes and parables that Day-Lewis’ Lincoln frequently tells, even during times of high crisis, are spellbinding, and Day-Lewis (whose win for Best Actor virtually is assured) nails it perhaps especially in these scenes.

Sally Field does a competent enough if not wholly convincing job as Mary Todd Lincoln, whose speech, strangely, sounds like today’s modern American English while her husband’s speech sounds literary.

I didn’t find the back-and-forth, woe-is-me dynamic of a misery competition between Mary Todd and her husband to be very interesting or insightful, but to be mostly repetitive, but the scene in which Field’s Mary Todd lets some congressmen who are visiting her home (the White House, of course) know who’s boss is one the film’s best and most memorable scenes.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt — who, as I have noted, I love — is a bit dull and therefore wasted as Robert Todd Lincoln, Mary Todd’s and Abraham’s eldest son, who comes off as a one-trick pony, primarily only whining about how much he wants to join the army and fight for the North.

Tommy Lee Jones steals the show as U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, portrayed as a “radical,” fervent abolitionist. (The last, pleasantly surprising scene with Jones in the privacy of his home probably should have been the last scene of the film.)

The floor fights in the U.S. House of Representatives over the proposed passage of the Thirteen Amendment (prohibiting slavery everywhere in the nation) provide most of the film’s drama, and if they are at all historically accurate, they make one long for the days when there was a lot more passion (and a lot less money to both parties from the same donors) in the House.

The Southerners (and their sympathizers) in “Lincoln” aren’t portrayed flatteringly, which probably will mean that the film won’t appeal to the “tea-party” dipshits, since the slavery- and treason-loving Southerners depicted in “Lincoln” are their true founding fathers, but perhaps “Lincoln’s” No. 1 flaw is the creepy feeling that one gets while watching it that the overriding spirit of the film is a bunch of whites repeatedly patting themselves on the back, repeatedly reminding us, “See!?!? We ended slavery!”

Indeed, the evil of slavery itself is barely portrayed in “Lincoln” — sure, Spielberg portrayed it in his 1997 film “Amistad,” but that’s a different film — and blacks are only supporting (and mostly subservient) characters in “Lincoln,” which gives the viewer of “Lincoln” the unfortunate impression that perhaps the film is asserting that slavery was more of a burden for liberal whites than it was for the actual slaves.

Unless Spielberg and Kushner meant that to be a commentary on today’s Democratic Party and its relationship to the suffering masses of today — and I don’t think that they did — that is, in my book, enough of a flaw in “Lincoln” (coupled with its dismal opening and closing scenes) to knock it outside of the realm of an “A.”

I had hoped that Spielberg’s “Lincoln” would be “War Horse” meets Abraham Lincoln — I thought (and still think) that Spielberg’s 2011 film “War Horse” got screwed at the Oscars — but alas, it was not to be.

The Academy of  Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which is chock full o’ guilty white liberals), however, most likely handsomely will reward “Lincoln” nonetheless.

My grade: B+

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George McGovern’s death makes me yearn for real Democrats

George McGovern, War Critic Routed by Nixon in 1972

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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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