Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

I am hoping this is a desperate and vicious lie.   If it is, its damning proof that the puma crowd, riverdaughter in particular, will go to any length to sabotage a Democratic victory.  Clinton’s response to McCain’s recent ad slamming Obama for picking Biden over Hillary could just as easily apply to them:

Kathleen Strand, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, responded to the ad with the following statement:

“Hillary Clinton’s support of Barack Obama is clear. She has said repeatedly that Barack Obama and she share a commitment to changing the direction of the country, getting us out of Iraq, and expanding access to health care. John McCain doesn’t. It’s interesting how those remarks didn’t make it into his ad.”

The purpose of the roll call vote is to make clear who is voting for whom.  A roll call vote is an accountability tool.  (One might question who the delegates are being made accountable to).  If votes are decided a day or so before hand, with no last minute campaigning at the convention itself, its not the end of the world.  It would be, however, a remarkably poor move on the part of the DNC.  If true and not a PUMA sourced lie, it would essentially as though the DNC were asked to add one more straw onto the back of party unity, and happily complied with a free sack of bricks to boot.

John McCain couldn’t ask for a bigger political present.  His own party is fracturing between the religious right, the nativists, and the corporatists.  He’s running for office under the banner of the most unpopular president in American history.  If Democrats succumb so easily to defeatist media narratives, Republicrats, and in-fighting, we’ll find November a much tougher contest than we imagine.

Media Can’t Let Go of Hillary as VP

I guess flat out lying is ok in the opinion section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  That’s how Marianne Means sets up her ridiculous on its face argument that Barack Obama is a selfish little brat who needs to offer Clinton the VP to be appropriately “gracious”.

Despite their publicized gestures of making nice, too many folks on both sides of the Democratic divide aren’t buying that baloney. The principals themselves are trying to stay above all that, but they aren’t sending sufficiently strong signals about really wanting to work together in the interests of the party — and their own futures.

Translation:  They are not spending every waking minute bashing the mainstream media over the head with the fact that they are working together.

At a Manhattan fund-raiser for both politicians last week, Obama acknowledged that “with just half a wing this bird can’t fly.” Indeed, that is the risk he takes by insisting on going it alone without her as his running mate.

Picking her would solve so many problems. It raises serious doubts about his judgment that he refuses to do so, the chief question being a dangerously outsized ego.

The ego at play here does not belong to Barack.  Melanie has nothing to go on here.  As former President Carter noted, an Obama/Clinton ticket would have the weaknesses of both.  It would be a poor choice indeed, and not simply because we’d lose yet another voice in the Senate.

In fact, it is so far beyond the bounds of good politics for Obama to pick his former rival for the vp slot, that it seems more likely the manufactured vp dilemma is just an opportunity to hammer Obama about perceived character flaws.  Flaws that cannot be backed up.

In a field of politicians who have made the wrong call on the issues of Iraq, Iran, our civil rights, health care, and the economy, Barack Obama’s greatest strength is his good judgment.  His ability to make good calls stands in such stark contrast to his Republican rival that even when he does screw up he still looks amazingly impressive by comparison.

As it is, Melanie’s column is left stretching for fact-like substitutes:

He called her “Mrs. Clinton,” as though they had barely met. Women sense this disdain, and naturally don’t like it. He has had a hard time attracting the support of older, working-class white women in most states that Clinton won.

Perhaps (when they ran head to head), it wasn’t Obama’s lack of appeal so much as Clinton’s appeal to a generation of women who fought foundational battles.

But this is a toughie — no party has had a roll call with two candidates since the 1976 Republican convention, when President Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan by a mere 57 votes to secure the nomination. But the Obama folks are greedy. Why won’t she release her delegates now, they grouse.

Why should she? She’s earned them. Clinton delegates could strike a sour note. Obama better get used to sour notes, though, if he’s really got the stuff to be president. Last time we checked, this was still a democracy — messy, loud, and imperfect, but a democracy.

Here we get to the hell hound eaten, rotted out intestinal core of her argument.  Obama supporters are greedy little fascists, and Clinton supporters are ardent supports of Democracy and apple pie.

Bullshit.

The Hillary supporters who are still pushing for her nomination have bought into and identified with the sense of entitlement Clinton gave off like a thousand watt aura during the campaign.  Obama’s supporters (old and recent), have a mix of motivations.  First among them, for myself, is to end the infighting and move forward with the centrist establishment candidate we ended up settling on, and focus on beating the shit out of McCain in the general election.

And with that as the goal, Barack Obama would be gravely mistaken to pick Hillary Clinton ad Vice President to be.  He should be thinking about a non federal Senator/Representative who brings something valuable to the table without taking it away from the Democratic party’s power as a whole.

Roll Call: Telecoms Allowed to Spy Illegally

I don’t see any reason to pretend this is anything other than an incredibly shitty decision to allow illegal and unconstitutional behavior.  Here’s roll call highlights:

Voting For this travesty: Obama, Lieberman, Hagel, Snowe, Specter, Webb, Warner, Hatch, Graham

Missing the bloody vote: McCain, Kennedy, Sessions

Voting Against: Clinton, Kerry, Feingold, Boxer, Schumer, Leahy

To the constituents of the Senators who missed this important vote, ouch.  To the constituents of Obama and Webb, we need to be clear this was a betrayel of trust on their part.  What a stinging dissapointment.

I want to salute those who voted against it, but at the same time I remember many of those Senators voted against the confirmation of Alito while refusing to fillibuster.  Sometimes logging an ineffectual “Nay” vote just doesn’t cut it.  The entire Senate failed us.  But they did a great job for the telecoms, so at least we can spend a little less as individuals next election season, they’ve apparently got that covered.

To be clear, I agree with Glenn completely.  McCain isn’t fooling anyone with his no show, and Obama is fucking up his own campaign:

Stanford Professor Larry Lessig has been a hard-core Obama supporter since before the primaries even began. He knows the candidate himself and has all sorts of contacts at high levels of the campaign. Yesterday, Lessig wrote a scathing criticism of what the Obama campaign has been doing over the past several weeks: “All signs point to an Obama victory this fall. If the signs are wrong, it will be because of events last month.” This is what Lessig said about the Obama campaign’s attitude towards the FISA bill:

Yet policy wonks inside the campaign sputter policy that Obama listens to and follows, again, apparently oblivious to how following that advice, when inconsistent with the positions taken in the past, just reinforces the other side’s campaign claim that Obama is just another calculating, unprincipled politician.The best evidence that they don’t get this is Telco Immunity. Obama said he would filibuster a FISA bill with Telco Immunity in it. He has now signaled he won’t. When you talk to people close to the campaign about this, they say stuff like: “Come on, who really cares about that issue? Does anyone think the left is going to vote for McCain rather than Obama? This was a hard question. We tried to get it right. And anyway, the FISA compromise in the bill was a good one.”

So the highest levels of the Obama campaign believe this bill is “a good one.” Lessig adds that the perception of Obama’s craven, nakedly calculating behavior as illustrated by his support for the FISA bill is by far the largest threat to his candidacy as it “completely undermine Obama’s signal virtue — that he’s different”:

The Obama campaign seems just blind to the fact that these flips eat away at the most important asset Obama has. It seems oblivious to the consequence of another election in which (many) Democrats aren’t deeply motivated to vote (consequence: the GOP wins).

[Emphasis Here is Mine – Dan] I can’t count the number of emails I’ve received demanding that I stop criticizing Obama for his support of this bill on the ground that such criticisms harm his chances for winning — as though it’s the fault of those who point out what Obama is doing, rather than Obama himself for completely reversing his position, abandoning his clear, prior commitments, and helping to institutionalize the destruction of the Fourth Amendment and the concealment of Bush crimes.

I still support Obama, but he needs to understand he’s making it a hell of a lot harder to do so effectively.

Hillary’s Supporters and Party Unity

This is brilliant (thebruceblog):

Hillary is a Democrat. She embraces and champions Democratic causes. She continues in the Senate wanting to advance the Democratic agenda. She said from the very beginning of the primaries, she wants a unified party in the fall and that the differences between her and Obama “pale in comparison” to McCain.

So all her “supporters” who don’t vote the ticket this fall are actually spitting in Hillary’s face. If McCain wins, that means Hillary’s work in the Senate is that much harder. Her “supporters” have just given her a mountain to climb as she’ll have to push back against yet another Republican-controlled White House and agenda.

I’m not a blind supporter of Obama myself (as Obama’s supporters are often painted).  I came over to his camp once Edwards was finished, and am proud to criticize the Senator when he makes mistakes, just as surely as I am proud to support him for the ideals and substance he represents.  I understand that this is an important battle, and further for many us and those we care deeply for, a life or death battle.  Whether our troops die needlessly in war, whether citizens of the world’s richest country are denied health care, whether or not medical research is held hostage to religious conservatives.  All of these issues and more are at stake.  And on all of them Hillary Clinton stands with Barack Obama.

The PUMA contigent who claim the mantle of liberalism in Hillary’s name are only showing how mockingly they wear it.  Party unity is not a joke or a sticking point.  Barack Obama didn’t win in a back door deal, as PUMA members often insinuate.  Clinton gave up a mathematically impossible crusade after being sweet-talked down by party members with consolation prizes for coming in second place.

Another claim is Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  She did not.  Obama did (though just barely).

Hillary Clinton lost.  But her politics and her principles don’t need to.  Supporting McCain is, as thebruceblog accurately points out, spitting in the face of what Hillary Clinton continues to stand for as a Democratic member of congress.

We need to come together, and we need to win.

Establishment Candidates And Delusions

This election a lot is at stake.  Barack Obama is a much better candidate than John Kerry.  But if I could go back in time and ensure Kerry won over Bush, I would in a hearbeat.  This election cycle the stakes are just as high, and McCain just as damaging an alternative.  That didn’t stop the humbly named myiq2xu at The Confluence from writing:

Despite what the media claims, Obama is and has been the “establishment” candidate.

Let’s get a few things clear right off the bat.  Barack Obama is an establisment candidate, and so was Hillary Clinton.  Pointing this out, from the Clinton side, is glaringly selective blindness on their hypocritical part.

This is why the Democratic leadership selected Barack Obama to be the nominee, in opposition to the will of the majority of the Democratic Party.  This is why the corporatist-owned media has pushed Obama’s candidacy and shrilly opposed Hillary.  Obama is one of them, while Hillary is not.

OK this one just hurts.  Hillary isn’t part of the club?  Really?  Hillary Clinton is a ragged outsider representing liberals?  Next to John Edwards she looked like Holy Joe Liberman standing next to Ted Kennedy.

But they miscalculated.  They underestimated Hillary, and they underestimated us.  They didn’t expect her to fight so well or so long.  They didn’t expect her to win our loyalty, respect and love.  They didn’t expect her to inspire us to rise in opposition to them.

They didn’t expect PUMA

Why would the establishment expect people to put attacking one establishment candidate in favor of another establishment candidate over winning against the Republican?  Its insane!  That’s hardly a call to glory.

Also, Hillary Clinton is not fighting anymore.  She’s thrown in the towel after a long and venomous fight that drew blood on both sides.

Frankly as an Edwards supporter turned Obama supporter, I’m not entirely satisfied with the way Hillary Clinton lost.  I think the popular vote argument is a legitimate and worrying one.  But to actively work to sabotage the Democratic Presidential campaign speaks loudly and lowly of one’s principles.

When John McCain (another establishment candidate, noticing a pattern here?) is in office, we’ll joing together once again to lament the regression of our country and wonder how the Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again.  We’ll sympathize with the soldiers who will be sent to die, the women denied their right to choose, and the millions of Americans without health insurance.  And we’ll do so with the same self righteous inefficacy that left us defeated in 2004.

Or we can swallow our differences for now and fight to make sure John McCain loses and Barack Obama is the next President of the United States.  Then we pour our effort in concert with sympathetic Independents and Republicans into the following electoral reforms:

  1. No more delegates.  Period.  The popular vote all the way.
  2. Do away with state primaries.  Let’s have one national primary for all parties.
  3. Shorter election periods, let’s take a lesson from the UK, a month for the primary season, and a month for the general.
  4. Voter-verifiable paper trails.  If our elections are easy to tamper with, how can we have any trust in our right to vote?
  5. Instant run-off voting + mandatory minimums.  For example, the vote will have to run again if no candidate garners more than 50% of the vote.

It would be a start.  But if we are busy fighting back against a conservative President with the upper ground, we’ll be hard pressed to avoid regression on major social, political and economic issues.  Making progress would be a whole lot easier if we didn’t have to fight an uphill battle while watching our backs.

Obama: Are We Entering Lesser of Two Evils Land?

I’m an Obama supporter.  I’m no PUMA:

I just can’t figure out why if it is soooo important for the Democrats to win that the fingerpointers don’t pick the Democrat most likely to actually win.  I mean, they still have a choice.  If they are so concerned , they can petition the party to have a fair and transparent convention and let’s see who persuades the largest number of superdelegates.    So what if the signs for the fall have already been made?  It’s just stationary.  Surely it is more important to pick the right Democrat, right?

I still think a Democrat who starts out with 50% of the general electorate against her, who refused to listen to reason on the Iraq war until it was far too late and who has exhibited essential weakness on Iran warmongering, would have been a poor choice.

So what’s my deal?

Obama recently decided to avoid public financingFine by me, although I admit, the idea of him going back on a campaign promise clearly tells me he made the promise for points, not for real.

He also seems to have increasingly bad taste in who he’s surrounding himself with:

Here are some statements by Ms. Rice in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq:

“I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)

“We need to be ready for the possibility that the attack against the U.S. could come in some form against the homeland, not necessarily on the battlefield against our forces. And I think there, too, is an area where the American people need to be better prepared by our leadership. … It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)

“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics…We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions. (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)

Of course, this sounds like Condoleezza Rice. But in fact all those quotes are from Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration and now part of Obama’s newly formed “Senior Working Group on National Security.” The quotes are from an examination of the Working Group done by the Institute for Public Accuracy, here.

Obama also

Which leads me to the natural question.  If what he says can’t be trusted, he’s a mushy centrist at heart, and he’s hiring people with very questionable judgment, then who will we have in office in 2010?

The stakes are depressingly high this time around.  Ours is a country that arrests people wrongfully and tortures (there always seems to be a new angle on how we torture).  A country that goes to war without cause.  Our electoral system is a badly broken mockery of the principles of representation and liberty that ought to form the backbone of our daily experience as Americans.

Think about that last one for a moment.  As an American we ought to feel empowered.  Instead, be honest, we feel helpless and watched.

The leaders of the Democratic party and the candidates, all of them (even the ones who lost long ago), are smart people.  They ought to be working together even if informally to figure out how to draw a sharp line away from the failed and costly policies of the current administration.  Instead our party has been consumed by the supporters of two problematic candidates.

If we fail in November we are fucked.

If anyone over in Obama land is listening, he needs to make with the backbone.  He needs to make a cleaner break with the old politics we are so desperate to be rid of.

The decision to skip public financing is one I support: I want to win in November.  But poor decisions never occur in isolation of each other, and enough similar mistakes will create a credibility gap and fill it with the worst sorts of insinuations about motivation.

And please, go through the ranks, and dump the staff that don’t rise up to the expectations of rationality and compassion we expect from you.  There is no shortage of intelligent and caring people to draw from in the Democratic party.  You can do better.  And as a leader, if you do, we all will.

Hillary Clinton Must Go

She shouldn’t be given a leadership position as a “consolation prize”.  She shouldn’t be bailed out by Obama or the party.  It has gotten to the point where Hillary and her supporters have showed their true colors, and the resulting picture is a nasty one.

Hillary Clinton’s threatening civil war within the party if she isn’t offered something.  In return for what?  There’s certainly value in ensuring Hillary’s supporters are listened to, especially in such a close race.  But the candidate herself is doing everything to make this a painful and damaging process for everyone.  That should not be rewarded, it should be condemned.

Arguments to make the vote “count” in Florida and Michigan are beyond cynical.  As Greg Saunders points out, her position utterly disregards the will of the voters, the integrity of the process, and the impact of her divisive actions (emphasis mine):

It’s stunning to me that Hillary Clinton supporters would have the audacity to claim that the popular vote is a metric that we should be using to determine who should get the Democratic nomination while at the same time insisting that Obama shouldn’t receive a single vote for Michigan. I’m ambivalent about whether or how the MI and FL delegates should be seated, but if you’re going to hold yourself up as a champion of voting rights and insist that the popular vote is a more legitimate way to gauge voter intent, then it’s pretty craven to chase a strategy whose only purpose is to cut into Obama’s lead with the implicit conclusion that not a single person in Michigan supports Barack OBama.

But, you might argue, Obama chose to take his name off the ballot and therefore his lack of support is just the result of his own choices. Well, if we’re going to follow the rules to the letter and punish candidates for their choices, then it bears repeating that the rules state that Michigan and Florida don’t count and that the Clinton campaign made the choice to agree to the DNC sanctions against these states. If you’re only going to recognize the rules that help Hillary Clinton win, just drop the self-righteous bullshit about your sterling commitment to democracy and be honest enough to admit that you’re only interested in Florida and Michigan because you think Clinton is a better candidate.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and all of the other Democratic candidates competed under the same rules and Clinton lost. Now she’s trying to work the refs and is trying to change any rules that might keep her from winning. That’s understandable, but when you wrap your attempts to move the goalposts in a veneer of moral superiority and question the values of your opponents (specifically, questioning whether or not Obama supporters believe in voting rights), don’t be surprised if you piss a lot of people off.

I’m willing to give Mrs. Clinton the benefit of the doubt on her RFK gaffe.  But she’s literally tearing the party apart when we desperately need to pull together to undo years of structural damage to the foundations of our government and way of life.  And all to satisfy this intense sense of entitlement that smells more like Lieberman’s independent run than the underlying commitment to our nation’s deepest issues she showed during the NH primary.  Its a huge waste of talent.  This primary should not have been a “last shot” to the NY Senator.  But with the way she’s bungled things and the misplaced priorities she’s shown, it looks like it is.  The more she gnashes her teeth and lashes out at Democrats, the more I am ok with that.