Thursday, November 29, 2007

You think embezzling to fund an affair is bad? Wait until you get a load of this.

Maybe it was the rantfest against a Zogby online poll showing Billary Clinton's campaign slipping against Obama and Edwards going into Iowa, or perhaps, in the gloating over Rudy Giuliani's apparent embezzlement of New York City funds while mayor to help cover up his extra-marital affair. Whatever the reason, something that appears to have been overlooked in the scandals rocking the Giuliani campaign is his likely ties to people who actively assisted a mastermind of the 9/11 attacks -- after 9/11. According to the Village Voice, "Giuliani's business contracts tie him to the man who let 9/11's mastermind escape the FBI".

It is a revelation that, combined with the sex-embezzlement scandal, this adds up to potentially blow the Giuliani presidential campaign right out of the water.

Three weeks after 9/11, when the roar of fighter jets still haunted the city's skyline, the emir of gas-rich Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani, toured Ground Zero. Although a member of the emir's own royal family had harbored the man who would later be identified as the mastermind of the attack—a man named Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, often referred to in intelligence circles by his initials, KSM—al-Thani rushed to New York in its aftermath, offering to make a $3 million donation, principally to the families of its victims. Rudy Giuliani, apparently unaware of what the FBI and CIA had long known about Qatari links to Al Qaeda, appeared on CNN with al-Thani that night and vouched for the emir when Larry King asked the mayor: "You are a friend of his, are you not?"

Giuliani denied there was anything more to it than this, but the Village Voice article goes on to reveal even more.

But there was another reason to think twice about accepting al-Thani's generosity that Giuliani had to have been aware of, even as he heaped praise on the emir. Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network based in Qatar (pronounced "Cutter"), had been all but created by al-Thani, who was its largest shareholder. The Bush administration was so upset with the coverage of Osama bin Laden's pronouncements and the U.S. threats to bomb Afghanistan that Secretary of State Colin Powell met the emir just hours before Giuliani's on-air endorsement and asked him to tone down the state-subsidized channel's Islamist footage and rhetoric. The six-foot-eight, 350-pound al-Thani, who was pumping about $30 million a year into Al Jazeera at the time, refused Powell's request, citing the need for "a free and credible media." The administration's burgeoning distaste for what it would later brand "Terror TV" was already so palpable that King—hardly a newsman—asked the emir if he would help "spread the word" that the U.S. was "not targeting the average Afghan citizen." Al-Thani ignored the question—right before Giuliani rushed in to praise him again.

In retrospect, Giuliani's embrace of the emir appears peculiar. But it was only a sign of bigger things to come: the launching of a cozy business relationship with terrorist-tolerant Qatar that is inconsistent with the core message of Giuliani's current presidential campaign, namely that his experience and toughness uniquely equip him to protect America from what he tauntingly calls "Islamic terrorists"—an enemy that he always portrays himself as ready to confront, and the Democrats as ready to accommodate.

The contradictory and stunning reality is that Giuliani Partners, the consulting company that has made Giuliani rich, feasts at the Qatar trough, doing business with the ministry run by the very member of the royal family identified in news and government reports as having concealed KSM—the terrorist mastermind who wired funds from Qatar to his nephew Ramzi Yousef prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and who also sold the idea of a plane attack on the towers to Osama bin Laden—on his Qatar farm in the mid-1990s.

In other words, Giuliani talks tough on fighting terrorists, but in actuality he's in business with them. And this is the vile filth who aspires to occupy the office of the presidency.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Three Looks At the Nation

Jesse Jackson is complaining that most of the Democratic presidential nominees are ignoring Black voters, according to the Nation Blog.

In an op-ed in today's Chicago Sun-Times, Jackson points out that " ..the Democratic candidates, with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans's Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign--have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention, No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African-Americans marched in Jena, La. not one candidate showed up."

This is interesting, if only because of who Jackson thinks is actually paying attention to Black voters. One would think Barak Obama -- his preferred candidate -- would be the one paying the most attention, but the civil rights leader and occasional presidential candidate says it's Edwards.

In a Nation column this week, Antony Loewenstein writes of newly-elected Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd:

Although Rudd has pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and remove Australia's combat troops from Iraq--clear policy differences with his predecessor--Rudd has maintained a "hard line" on antiterrorism measures, despite systematic failures over the past few years in bringing terror suspects to trial: a senior counterterrorism officer with the Australian Federal Police admitted in a recent botched trial that his team in 2004 was "directed, we were informed, to lay as many charges under the new terrorist legislation against as many suspects as possible because we wanted to use the new legislation." It is unlikely that a Rudd government will fundamentally alter the extremes of the current laws. One can hope that he will repair the breakdown in trust between the Muslim community and the federal government after years of Howard's rhetorical demonization of a minority vital to isolating terrorists.

Finally, the title of Senator Bernie Sanders' column tells us that Global Warming is reversible. The ideas he presents for combating it are worth heeding, and supporting. Among them, his call for transportation reform:

Transportation must also be addressed in a serious manner. It is insane that we are driving cars today that get the same twenty-five miles per gallon that US cars did twenty years ago. If Europe and Japan can engineer their vehicles to average more than forty-four miles per gallon, we can do at least as well. Simply raising fuel-efficiency standards to forty miles per gallon would save roughly the same amount of oil as we import from Saudi Arabia and would dramatically lower carbon emissions. We should also rebuild and expand our decaying rail and subway systems and provide energy-efficient buses in rural America so that travelers have an alternative to the automobile.

Sanders has introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309) with California's Barbara Boxer, and it has gained a large number of co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate. For the sake of our country, our species and our planet, we need to put the pressure on Congress to pass this -- and do it with a veto-proof majority.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pay heed to Reed, he knows what he's writing about.

I found this excellent column at The Progressive online, and if Adolph L. Reed, Jr.'s feelings are an accurate reflection of what most voters have in their hearts and minds (and I believe they are), then we had better think about who we're prepared to throw away our votes for come January.

The Democratic candidates who are anointed "serious" are like a car with a faulty front-end alignment: Their default setting pulls to the right. They are unshakably locked into a strategy that impels them to give priority to placating those who aren't inclined to vote for them and then palliate those who are with bromides and doublespeak. When we complain, they smugly say, "Well, you have no choice but to vote for me because the other guy's worse." The party has essentially been nominating the same ticket with the same approach since Dukakis.

Read on, dear reader, read on...

A friend of mine characterizes this as the "we'll come back for you" politics, the claim that they can't champion anything you want because they have to conciliate your enemies right now to get elected, but that, once they win, they'll be able to attend to the progressive agenda they have to reject now in order to win. This worked out so well with the Clinton Presidency, didn't it? Remember his argument that he had to sign the hideous 1996 welfare reform bill to be able to come back and "fix" it later? Or NAFTA? Or two repressive and racist crime bills that flooded the prisons? Or the privatizing of Sallie Mae, which set the stage for the student debt crisis? Or ending the federal government's commitment to direct provision of housing for the poor?

This time, the nominal frontrunners have Rube Goldberg health care proposals that protect the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the chief sources of the health care crisis. They discuss the murderous adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan mainly in bloodless, managerial terms—as a "broken policy" or some other such technician's euphemism. Not only do their references to the tragic loss of American lives seem pro forma and constructed by focus-group engineers; they also reinscribe the presumption that only American lives count. This is part of what undergirds the broader framework of a foreign policy hinged on cavalier use of military assault and invasion in the first place—what used to be clearly recognized as imperialism. Edwards, who seems somewhat better than the others on Iraq, apparently needs to make up for it—lest what seem like expressions of decency be grounds for accusations of weakness—by being even more bellicose than they regarding Iran. However, all of them have indicated a lusty willingness to attack Iran, Syria, or any other country that can be demonized either for not dancing to our government's tune or even just because it's convenient to do so as a prop for some other purpose.

Yes, Reed brings out the criticisms against Bill Clinton. It's a legitimate question we all need to ask ourselves, as we seem prepared to hand the Democratic nomination to the conservative wife of a conservative former president whose only claim to the political party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman appears to be based on little more than a voter registration card. But that's not Reed's main point. Far from it.

At the end of the primary campaign, one of the "serious candidates" is going to get the nomination and form a ticket with another version of his or her triangulating self. (I still wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be Clinton-Obama, in an all-Oprah ticket, an exercise in massive short-term self-delusion and empty identity politics that will guarantee the White House to whichever combo the GOP puts up.) Maybe by Election Day I'll be moved or guilted or frightened into voting for that ticket, whatever it is. But I'm just as likely to sit this one out.

And here it is in a nutshell: hand the nomination to Billary W. Clinton, and the Democratic Party (and the rest of the country) is probably going to have to endure eight more years of Republican domination. There's a reason the GOP candidates vying for their party's nomination feel comfortable taking on Hillary Clinton, to the point where they join in the propaganda of "inevitability" with which the Clinton campaign seems to have brought itself to the brink of pseudo-victory. It's that the Republican ticket will waste absolutely no moment, and no opportunity, to wage the most heinous and vicious attack job unlike anything America has seen before in a presidential race. If you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself.

Consider the reason the Repugs are hot to see Clinton take the nomination, and the obvious answer to the question of what they'd do if another Democrat -- say, John Edwards or even Dennis Kucinich -- wins the nomination of his party. Have you guessed it, yet? If you said, "I don't know," then welcome to the RNC's worst nightmare. Because if an actual, populist Democrat disinclined to take shit from the Republicans' ticket and inclined talk to the American electorate about the issues that truly matter were to be elected, the GOP can kiss it hopes of retaining its hold on the White House goodbye. And the Republican National Committee knows this as much as, if not better than, anyone else. But Reed isn't finished making his argument, not by a long shot.

I know that some outraged readers are going to write in, fulminating about how nihilistically ultraleftist I am to criticize the Democrats in this way and how irresponsible The Progressive is to publish the criticism—especially now, when the stakes are so great and it's so crucially important for the future of the country, the world, the galaxy, the cosmos, that some Democrat—anyone, no matter how worthless—wins the Presidency. (That they make the same cataclysmic claim about every election never seems to dull their self-righteous fervor.) They'll explain that we have to understand that we can't get everything we want all at once, that the Democrats can't go any further than they go, and that a half-hearted promise of part of a stale loaf of bread in some unspecified future is better than no bread at all—especially for those who don't really need the bread at the moment.

Well, in part, they're right. The Democrats are what they are. We should all know that by now, after two decades of their failing to stand up to the rightwing juggernaut, of presenting themselves as more responsible and steady managers of the country's slide to the right. By the time the national elections come around, there really are no options other than to vote for their predictably worthless nominee, make an existential statement (or engage in wish-fulfillment, if you think it's more than that) by voting for a third party candidate, or just not bother. This bleak reality reflects the left's failure to build any durable extra-electoral force between elections that can bring pressure to bear on the Democratic contenders and debate.

Elected officials are only as good or as bad as the forces they feel they must respond to. It's a mistake to expect any more of them than to be vectors of the political pressures they feel working on them. This is a lesson that progressives have forgotten or failed to learn.

As an illustration, consider the recent contretemps between John Conyers and the pro-impeachment, anti-war activists who attacked him as a sellout for failing to push impeachment over Nancy Pelosi's and the House Democratic leadership's opposition. His critics accused him of betraying the spirit of Martin Luther King. But that charge only exposes their unrealistic expectations. Conyers isn't a movement leader. He's a Democratic official who wants to get reelected. He's enmeshed in the same web of personal ties, partisan loyalties and obligations, and diverse interest-group commitments as other pols. It was the impeachment activists' naive error, and I suspect one resting on a partly racial, wrongheaded shorthand, to have expected him to lead an insurgency. If the pro-impeachment forces had been able to organize a popular movement with militant local to national expressions on a wide scale, Conyers would have had the leverage necessary to press the movement's case to Pelosi and Democratic leadership, or at least he and the others would have felt real pressure to act more boldly on this issue. Instead, an understandable sense of urgency led them to take a politically self-indulgent, doomed shortcut. The result is much wasted effort, unnecessary enmity, and another demoralizing defeat.

Unfortunately, like the Democrats, our side fails to learn from experience. Despite a mountain range of evidence to the contrary, we—the labor, anti-war, women's, environmental, and racial justice movements—all continue to craft political strategy based on the assumption that the problem is that the Democrats simply don't understand what we want and how important those things are to us. They know; they just have different priorities.

That's why the endless cycle of unofficial hearings and tribunals and rallies and demonstrations and Internet petitions never has any effect on anything. They're all directed to bearing witness before an officialdom that doesn't care and feels no compulsion to take our demands into account. To that extent, this form of activism has become little more than a combination of theater—a pageantry of protest—and therapy for the activists.

Then at the apex of every election cycle, after having marched around in the same pointless circle, chanting the same slogans in the interim, we look feverishly to one of the Democrats or some Quixote to do our organizing work for us, magically, all at once.

We need to think about politics in a different way, one that doesn't assume that the task is to lobby the Democrats or give them good ideas, and correct their misconceptions.

It's a mistake to focus so much on the election cycle; we didn't vote ourselves into this mess, and we're not going to vote ourselves out of it. Electoral politics is an arena for consolidating majorities that have been created on the plane of social movement organizing. It's not an alternative or a shortcut to building those movements, and building them takes time and concerted effort. Not only can that process not be compressed to fit the election cycle; it also doesn't happen through mass actions. It happens through cultivating one-on-one relationships with people who have standing and influence in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, families, and organizations. It happens through struggling with people over time for things they're concerned about and linking those concerns to a broader political vision and program. This is how the populist movement grew in the late nineteenth century, the CIO in the 1930s and 1940s, and the civil rights movement after World War II. It is how we've won all our victories. And it is also how the right came to power.

The anti-war movement isn't coherent or popularly grounded enough to exert the pressure necessary to improve the electoral options; only the labor movement has the capacity to do so, but it doesn't have the will. None of the other progressive tendencies has the capacity to do anything more than lobby or exhort. Effective lobbying requires being able to deliver or withhold crucial resources, and none but labor has that capacity. Exhortation works only with people who share your larger goals and objectives; other than that it's useless except as catharsis.

We also need to think more carefully about what our demonstrations and protest marches can and can't do. Here we could take a lesson from Martin Luther King. His 1962 Albany, Georgia, campaign failed because the local authorities figured out that the success of King's mass marches depended on meeting brutal resistance from local officials. When they didn't forcibly stop the marches, the movement fizzled.

Our approach to mass mobilization is like the Albany campaign. Our actions don't raise public consciousness because they're treated dismissively, if at all, in the mainstream media. They don't even connect with the residents of the cities where we hold them because we agree to strict march routes and rally sites that make certain we don't engage with anyone other than ourselves. And we agree not to disrupt routine daily life more than a homecoming parade would in exchange for having a designated place to gather and talk to ourselves. Even the civil disobedience is carefully choreographed and designed to be minimally disruptive.

Whether or not we admit it, these are features of a politics that is focused mainly inward, on shoring up the spirits of the participants in the actions themselves. They don't send a message that those in power can't simply ignore, and they don't inform, excite, or win over anyone who's not already on board with the movement's agenda. It's telling in this sense that our movement culture has evolved elaborately clever techniques for keeping participants entertained through the stale, all-too-predictable cavalcade of speeches and chants and puppets on stilts.

To be clear, I'm not arguing that people don't need to engage in rallies and protests. It is self-defeating, however, to collapse the difference between the activities that make us feel good and the work that is necessary to build the movement. There are no shortcuts or magic bullets. And, if we don't confront that fact and act accordingly, we'll be back in this same position, but most likely with options a little worse than these, in 2012, and again and again.

Okay, yeah, I know. That's one hell of a long read. Be glad I didn't just copy and paste the entire column. But pay attention to what I'm telling you, and ask yourselves this question: are we, as Americans, better served by electing the same center-right or far right politicians to power in an endless cycle of self-deluding sham elections designed to keep things as they are? Or are we better served by nominating and electing a Democrat whose commitment to true change and Progressive reform is as solid as his commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law? Are we better served by electing another conservative Democrat, who will continue the country's backward slide into an age of empire and ruin? Or can we put aside our partisan differences and agree that what this country needs is a new FDR, a new New Deal?

If you think we need a new direction, nay, if you damned well know we need a new direction -- an end to war; single-payer, not for profit health care; well funded education; strengthened labor, environmental and food safety regulations and laws; a re-invigorated foreign policy in which the United States of America lead by example instead of imperial edict; if you know in your heart, mind and gut that these and other Progressive changes are long overdue, then think seriously about which Democrat can and will bring all this.

He's the candidate who, as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, fought the banks and private energy company to save the city's municipal power company. Yes, he took a big hit to his political career and for a long time he was out of politics. But he didn't hesitate to put the good of the people who elected him above the selfish interests of the city's financial bosses. He's the only presidential candidate who has tried to introduce true health care reform, HR 676, to the table in a serious attempt to provide universal health care. He is the only Democratic candidate for president who voted against the war in Iraq, against the Orwellian USA PATRIOT Act, and against continued funding for the Iraq war. And he is the ONLY presidential candidate who has mounted any effort to hold George W. Bush and Dick Cheney accountable for their multitude of crimes.

That candidate, dear readers, is Dennis Kucinich. Yeah, yeah, spare me the lame attacks and insults. And especially, spare me the tired old, "he can't win" nonsense. I know he's got a snowball's chance in hell of winning the nomination. But that's not why we all need to vote for him. We need to vote for him so that the Democratic nominee knows that without the Progressive bloc, without the support of people who truly want reform, there is no hope under Heaven (or above Hell) of winning the presidency. We must not hand the nomination to Billary W. Clinton, or Barack "I can't make up my mind whether to channel Hillary or Dubya this week" Obama. John Edwards has a real chance to take the nomination, and at this point I think he's the best chance we've got right now to turn things around, if only enough Democrats quit holding their noses to vote for candidates who run opposed to everything we stand for both as Democrats and -- more importantly -- as Americans.

But we need to decide, right NOW, if we're really serious about winning the White House and keeping Congress. If we are, it means voting for Kucinich instead of Clinton or Obama, so that Edwards will be able to win the nomination. Reed's column offers a dire warning, one we all must heed, if we do not do this: allow Clinton or some other center-right candidate to win the nomination, and a lot of voters are likely to stay home and not vote at all. Considering how much GOP vote fraud relies on low voter turnouts, it's a warning we cannot afford to dismiss or ignore.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Interesting Evaluation of Dennis Kucinich

John Nichols wrote about Kucinich's Challenge over at The Progressive's web site. What has puzzled me for some time is why Dennis's populist talk and straight-shooting hasn't translated into actual support. I mean, yeah, the corporate media marginalizes any candidate who dares speak truth to power. And yes, the money system goes out of its way to exclude those without large sums of it. But is there something more to this? Let's take a look at what Nichols writes about the Democratic debate in Chicago this Summer.

"I want to see America take a new direction in trade . . . and that means it’s time to get out of NAFTA and the WTO," shouted the Congressman above the thunderous applause that greeted his promise of "trade that’s based on workers’ rights: the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike."

So powerful was Kucinich’s presentation that even the moderator, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, shifted his line of questioning from the usual soft media inquiries about "reforming trade policies" toward a blunt demand that the candidates say whether they would "scrap NAFTA or fix it?" After Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the others struggled to answer the question without offending either the labor crowd or their corporate donors, Kucinich won the moment by declaring, "No one else on this stage could give a direct answer because they don’t intend to scrap NAFTA. We’re going to be stuck with it. And I’m your candidate if you want to get out of NAFTA. Let’s hear it. Do you want out of NAFTA? Do you want out of the WTO?"

The steel, auto, machine, and construction workers were on their feet, cheering wildly. Again and again, on industrial policy, on health care, on each issue that arose, Kucinich owned the argument. And when the Congressman turned to the signature issue of his insurgent Presidential bid, ending the war in Iraq, he distinguished himself from the cautious contenders to his right by speaking the truth that has been on the mind of everyone who has watched the sorry degeneration of this nation’s system of checks and balances. Instead of promising to end the war as President, Kucinich declared, "We shouldn’t have to wait for a Democratic President to do it. The Democratic Congress needs to act now."

It was a virtuoso performance. Mark Lash, a steelworker from Crown Point, Indiana, summed it all up when he said that of the seven candidates who were trying so hard to woo the workers, it was Kucinich who gave "the answers everyone wants to hear." In one of those old Jimmy Stewart movies or maybe in a new John Cusack movie, something big would happen. Unions would have started going against expectations to endorse the underdog. The media would have started taking him seriously. A long-overdue political awakening would have begun—for the Democratic Party and for the nation.

I watched that debate, and I can tell you right now that with a truly fair moderator who gave all the candidates as close to equal time as possible, Dennis was able to make a significant impact. Before and since that debate, it has been business as usual, ignoring and marginalizing Dennis. Nichols agrees.

Within weeks of that August AFL-CIO forum, unions began to make their endorsements.

The Machinists went for Clinton, arguably the steadiest proponent in the field of the job-killing "free trade" schemes that have decimated the union’s membership.

The Carpenters and the Steelworkers broke for Edwards, a newly minted populist who sounds good but still struggles to get the specifics right.

The Firefighters backed Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, an old-school liberal with a weaker record than Kucinich and no better prospects.

And what was the Congressman from Cleveland left with when the applause died down?


No endorsements from labor.

No backing from prominent Democrats.

No poll numbers of consequence nationally or in the essential early primary and caucus states.

There is something that is surely heartbreaking about the hand that is regularly dealt to Kucinich and his idealistic second bid for the Presidency. But the Congressman has chosen to play at the table of contemporary American politics, where not only the rules but the very premises of the process are stacked against him.

And, he goes on to write...

It is not merely the dominance of the monied elites and the party bosses, nor even the emphasis on image and style, that undermines a candidate who is actually referred to by supposedly serious reporters as "too short to be President." It is the desperation of Democratic voters denied, voters who, after so many stolen elections and failed campaigns, have convinced themselves that the only thing that matters in 2008 is winning—and that the only way to win is by nominating not the candidate who is right on the issues but the candidate who seems, a la John Kerry in 2004, to have the right strategy or at least the right stature.

That, too, is what's happening. Just as in 2004, voters appear so desperate to get a Democrat in office that they don't seem to realize or care that the Democrat they throw their support behind may not actually be the winner they're looking for. But Nichols then takes on a more sour note, writing:

The 2004 race yielded Kucinich no primary or caucus wins and just 1 percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Yet, the Congressman is running once more, mounting essentially the same campaign that he did four years ago. Kucinich is again bouncing around the country, creating the facade of a national campaign but never sticking around long enough to convert the enthusiasm of the crowds he draws into votes. And, as in the later stages of the 2004 race, when he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he could not win a fight that everyone knew was finished, he refuses to entertain the notion that he might not be swearing an oath of office on January 20, 2009.

There is much to be said for the power of positive thinking, but in Presidential politics the practice can be futile—especially when more prominent and monied candidates are stealing your themes: economic populist (Edwards), anti-war (New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson), and time-for-a-transformation (Obama). In Kucinich’s case, his optimism borders on off-putting and out of touch. Indeed, if he continues on his current course, he runs the risk of falling short of the 643,067 (3.9 percent of the total) votes he scraped together by the end of his never-say-die 2004 run.

This would probably be a legitimate evaluation, if Kucinich were actually running to win. But he isn't. Dennis is running to make sure that the eventual nominee -- and let's pray to God it isn't Billary Dubya Clinton -- does run for president in the general election next year on the very platforms the other candidates are now "stealing".

Kucinich may be more necessary to the process of choosing a 2008 Democratic President than even he may understand. The front-loaded race for the nomination will be a blur for most Democrats, who will likely be told who the party’s candidate is going to be long before they actually have a chance to weigh in. At that point, the trailing candidates will be told by the money men who define American politics that it is time to start suspending campaigns.

Hell, the money men are already doing that; look at how they've eliminated Mike Gravel from the race. But lest you think Nichols has turned on Dennis, and chosen to attack him, he does offer some advice that might actually work for the Cleveland, Ohio Democrat should he heed it:

More than two dozen states will select delegates after February 5. Many of them—Wisconsin, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon—have Democratic voter bases that are ardently anti-war. If Kucinich were to commit now to mount a campaign that made no pretense of personal electability but rather promised to force the party to debate its direction—not just on the war but on the whole question of what a post-Bush America might look like—he could yet turn himself into the most effective protest candidate this country has seen in years.

What might the Congressman propose to the voters of later primary and caucus states, where the choice could well come down to Kucinich versus Clinton? By telling voters "this is your chance to vote for a peace plank," Kucinich could—and should—promise to use whatever bloc of delegates he is given to fight for a clearly anti-war platform, to provoke floor fights over foreign policy and the domestic agenda, and to have his name placed in nomination in order to take his message to prime time.

In a one-on-one race, where the Kucinich campaign is about an idea rather than a man, he could turn the tables on the elites. By ditching talk about actually being nominated—which only strains his own credibility—and instead making himself the tribune of the peace and justice movement that is alive and powerful at the grassroots of the Democratic party, Dennis Kucinich could win hundreds of delegates to the 2008 convention. He could renew and redefine the debate in the later primaries and at the convention. He could force the eventual Democratic nominee to listen to the party’s neglected base—which polling suggests is now very close in its thinking to the self-identified independent voters who decide close contests in November—rather than to the Wall Street donors and Washington think tanks that invariably muddle the message once the pundits declare the nomination fight to have been settled. And, maybe, just maybe, Dennis Kucinich could make the Democratic nominee more appealing than a broken political process is supposed to allow.

I think that's very good advice, and worth taking if there is to be any hope of mounting a real challenge to the conservative wing of the Democratic Party that has already all but chosen the nominee of the party in general for us.


Looks like this story isn't going away, according to The Nation. John Edwards came right out and stated what a lot of people are thinking, saying Billary is channeling the shrub with her planted questions. The Des Moine Register reports. Not to be outdone, according to, the Clinton campaign then turned around and accused Edwards of acting like the dictator by way of attacking Democrats and being divisive.

So let's recap: Hillary Clinton gets caught fielding planted softball questions, a practice used quite often by George W. Bush. When this is pointed out, she accuses her critics of acting like George W. Bush. The defense is obvious; she's trying to deflect criticism by accusing her opponents of doing what she did -- acting like the shrub.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The bastard political offspring of Bubba and the Shrub.

Hillary Clinton got some criticism, wholly justified, over the weekend after getting caught using a planted questioner in Iowa. Let's see now, she triangulates like her husband, Bill. She pushed hawkish rhetoric over Iraq and Iran, and refuses to say definitively that she'll end the war in Iraq, just like the shrub. She talks a lot without actually saying anything, just like Bubba. And now she's been caught using planted questioners, whom she uses to toss out softball questions, just like the shrub.

Good God, we're seeing the bastard political offspring of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton! What unholy union has sprung up between these two, that their elbow-rubbing should produce such devil-spawn?

I know a lot of sheep are going to start in on me for this, but to hell with them. What I'd like to know is, can it get any more apparent that Hillary Clinton is fundamentally no different from the current occupant of the White House? We keep seeing these warning signs. Hawkish rhetoric on Iraq and Iran, a health care "reform" plan that appears to be a giveaway to the HMOs and pharmaceutical companies, and now planting people in the audience to manipulate the Q&A session. These little things are adding up into something big, and frankly worrisome.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where were our self-appointed "leaders" on Mukasey?

Late Thursday night, on a 53-40 vote, Michael Mukasey was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to replace departed attorney general Alberto "torture boy" Gonzales. Mukasey is himself an undeclared advocate of torture, having refused to acknowledge that it is torture, and his testimony indicates that he considers the executive branch of government under the shrub and his gargoyle to be the only real branch of government.

Yet there was never any move to filibuster Mukasey's confirmation. Nor were the four Democratic senators running for president around to cast their votes. This is especially disappointing when it comes to Christopher Dodd, who is supposedly running on a platform to restore the Constitution.

Why was there no move to filibuster? Sixty votes would have ended one, but the GOP didn't have that many. This should prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Clinton, Obama, Biden and Dodd are not fit to be president of the United States of America. If they won't stand up for the Constitution as U.S. senators, why should we expect any of them to do so as president?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Republicans On Impeachment

Which pretty much sums up just how unbelievably shameless the GOP really is, considering it had once impeached a sitting president for lying about an extramarital affair. But hey, let it not be said that Congressional Republicans ever learned the meaning of words like shame, hypocrisy, or decency.

Tomorrow: I call Democrats out for trashing the Constitution.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hillary hides behind her gender, proves herself no different from Dubya.

Somewhere, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt and Molly Ivins (God bless their souls) are shaking their heads and wondering what all those years of blood, sweat and tears trying to win equality for women were for. By now most of us are familiar with last week's Democratic debate, during which Hillary Clinton stumbled on several key issues. To sum up those stumbles:

The criticisms of her positions (or lack thereof) offered up by Clinton's rivals at the debate were legitimate, and would have been leveled regardless of who she is or what her gender. But that didn't stop Mrs. Clinton's campaign web site from whining about having gotten "piled on" following her dismal performance last week. When push came to shove, when she found herself in a pickle of her own making, the best Hillary Clinton can do is hide behind her gender and play the victim.

This is a slap in the face to women everywhere. It is puerile, childish, an insult to everything the feminist movement is supposed to stand for. Oh to have a real woman running for president, like Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a woman of true principle! For what do we have in Hillary Clinton, who hides behind her gender when the going gets tough? Consider how like the craven, pathetic little boy in the White House Mrs. Clinton really is -- he who continually hides behind the flag; the soldiers he selfishly sent into harm's way; the "ass-kissing little chickenshit" he uses to lie for him before Congress, because he knows no one would believe him if he ever testified himself; the nearly three thousand dead who perished on 9/11/2001 as a result of his deliberate negligence.

This is the pathetic little boy Hillary Clinton chooses to emulate, during those times when she isn't emulating her husband -- himself a master of triangulation and parsing. If this is how she plans to win her political party's nomination to run for president, by whining her way out of criticism for her words and actions, then how can Clinton expect to take on the GOP nominee, who shall most assuredly be far worse in his attacks on her than any of her Democratic rivals.

There is a reason the Republican candidates feel comfortable running against her and not the other candidates, and it is this: no matter how skilled Hillary Clinton thinks she is at the politics of whining and faux outrage, the GOP is far more adept. For whining and expressing false outrage in order to distract from the issues at hand are tools that have served the GOP extremely well, and no Democrat can hope to match a Republican candidate in such a battle. Romney and Giuliani know that if Clinton is the nominee, they can successfully swiftboat her campaign into oblivion and the election (from their points of view) would be sure to go in their favor. If she thinks she can win by playing the helpless victim, she's in for a rude awakening.

The greatest danger in allowing candidates -- with help from their enablers in the corporate media -- to nominate themselves is that we are guaranteed to end up with ones who are fundamentally no different from those they seek to replace. On policy after policy, on issue after issue, Clinton has proven herself a pale imitation of the shrub. It is deeply disturbing that the next election will be between two candidates vying to prove who can be the better carbon copy of George W. Bush.

Consider her excuse for a health care plan, as outlined by The Nation, and how if such were enacted it would parallel the giveaway to the health care industry rammed through Congress that screwed up Medicare. Consider that, until last year, Clinton was the second-largest recipient of contributions from HMOs and pharmaceutical companies behind then-senator Rick Santorum. With the boy who had a certain bodily discharge named after him having been voted out of office, this makes Hillary the biggest recipient.

With the Bush-Cheney regime beating the drums of war against Iran, you'd think Hillary would have learned not to believe a word either of them has to say. Yet she instead parrots the hawkish rhetoric coming out of an almost thoroughly discredited White House. And, as demonstrated in the video, she says we will remain in Iraq for years to come in spite of American public support for withdrawal. And what are the chances that she'll cave in to pressure to keep the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy in place?

To those of you who think Hillary Clinton is fundamentally different from the shrub, I say this: you are, tragically, kidding yourselves. The fact is, Clinton is the candidate least likely to bring about the change America so desperately needs.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hillary the Liar

Some of you, dear readers, support Hillary Clinton. If you do, you may not like what you're about to see, but it's necessary. It's important that voters see and hear the truth so we can make the right decision now, before the primaries, because let's face it: there's a reason the GOP assholes running for president feel comfortable taking her on in the general election next year. Here it is.

We in the Democratic Party can surely do better than this. Dodd. Edwards. Richardson. Kucinich. Gravel. But Hillary? When she's not trying to out-shrub the shrub, she's busy trying to out-Bubba Bubba. That is not who we need in the White House.

Advice for Congress, Hillary

Let it not be said that the Rude Pundit, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his tendency toward unrestrained profanity and vulgarity, can't offer some kick-ass advice to Congress in general and Congressional Democrats in particular.
Note to Democrats: when some little boy double dog dares you to step across this line, sometimes you gotta just take a giant goddamn leap right into his puny face.
Not that you'll take that advice of course. Like many abused spouses, even when you have power over your abusers you still capitulate to them. I guess you've been beaten so many times you're afraid of your own shadows, and can no longer fathom the notion of using the power you've been given over your tormentors. Time is running out, both for America and for the relevancy of the Democratic Party. Wake up, grow some backbone, and end this war and the regime that started it.

And now for some advice to Hillary Clinton, who never passes up an opportunity to pass up the opportunity to give a straight yes or no answer to a straight yes or no question. When Tim Russert asks you if you think giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants is a good idea, you answer yes or no depending on your honest assessment of the idea. You do not triangulate, appearing to take one position and then backtracking when it looks as if you made a mistake and want to avoid taking the heat. Believe it or not, people do respect honestly held opinions even if they're erroneous. Sure, if they disagree you might lose their votes in the primaries. But you'll guarantee yourself losing their votes if you appear as if you can't make up your mind under pressure.

In my opinion it is a grave mistake for New York state to give drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants. I simply see no way such a cockamamie scheme would do anything other than send the wrongest of wrong messages while doing absolutely nothing to solve the problem it purports to address -- namely, tracking illegal immigrants. Hillary Clinton obviously disagreed, thinking it makes sense. But, once given the opportunity, she should have explained her position clearly if some had trouble understanding it. And given the opportunity to answer whether or not she actively supports the New York plan, she should have said yes or no depending on her support or lack thereof.

But she didn't. Instead, caught off guard, she triangulated just like her husband and came off looking like her much-maligned (some of which is admittedly deserved) husband, Bill. In an era where straight answers are a rare virtue, Hillary had a chance to show where she stood on a particular issue. She blew it. And then, having blown it, her handlers brought out the little girl card, acting as though Hillary is some defenseless little girl who was unfairly "piled on" by those nasty, mean, cruel bigger boys. What is she, five? No, Hillary is pushing sixty. Yet she acts as if she is a helpless damsel when called out for saying something stupid. I can't see her bumbling and whining afterward growing support from true feminists.

So here's another bit of advice for you, Hillary (may I call you Hillary?): act like an adult. You're pushing sixty, you're running for president of the United States, and after so many years of attacks from the frothing-at-the-mouth far right you ought by now to have developed a thicker skin. Take ownership of your opinions, answer direct questions with direct answers, and respond to criticism with wisdom and grace. You'll never get any respect until or unless you grow up. We're already stuck with overgrown children ruling this country; we aren't seeking another overgrown child to replace them.