Thursday, April 16, 2015

2016 and all that

I've decided to ramble a bit about politics before I shut down my computer for some much-needed repairs.

So far, I haven't said anything about Hillary's big announcement. Most of the coverage has been insipid. The mainstream media's inane hyper-scrutiny of her meal at Chipotle made me want to swear off burritos, until I realized that it would make more sense to swear off the mainstream media.

Frankly, I'm starting to warm to the idea of a Hillary presidency. Every attack story makes me like her more. If she doesn't pose a threat to the Powers That Be, why do the PTB hate her so much?

In recent days, there has been a concerted effort in the media to brand Hillary Clinton as an out-of-touch aristocrat. At the same time, Jeb Bush has been repackaged as a working class Hispanic. If he doesn't win the presidency, you can find him pacing outside of Home Depot.

Brent Budowsky, who has been a friend to this blog in the past, offers the following:
Clinton is making political reform one of the cornerstone issues in her campaign for the White House. She has begun a frontal assault against the widely unpopular Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which would allow the wealthiest Americans to buy elections and dominate policymaking in Washington by spending unlimited money, often in secret, on political campaigns.

By taking this bold position and calling for a national movement supporting a constitutional amendment to achieve this goal if necessary...
Yeah, but what are the chances? If something as simple and rational as the ERA couldn't get through, then an amendment focused on election reform will surely be demagogued to death.

That said, it is true that more than three-quarters of poll respondents think that the Supreme Court made a huge mistake when it issued the Citizens United ruling. So there is a chance that the demagogues will lose this time around. Bravo to Hillary for taking the right stance on this issue.

Budowski argues that Hillary's campaign is skewing populist, at least on the domestic front. I've read that she was advised to chart such a course by no less a figure than Elizabeth Warren.

Warren isn't going to run, you know. You do know that, don't you?

Nevertheless, we need someone to run against Hillary from the left, for the very purpose of pushing her to the left.

Some observers have mentioned Maryland governor Martin O'Malley. No. Trust me, folks: You don't want the national conversation in 2016 to be about Baltimore.

Jim Webb is a populist, as is Warren, although Warren is further to the left. I like Webb and wouldn't mind seeing him take either spot on a Democratic ticket.

Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island just announced that he is officially in the race. He's hitting Hillary hard on her Iraq vote. Isn't that a dead issue? In 2008, Democrats went for the guy who made all of one speech against the looming Iraq war and then positioned himself as the anti-war candidate, even though, as a Senator, he would not vote to defund the war. Barack Obama taught us not to let the authorization of military force vote be the sole criterion for choosing a president.

If Chaffee wants to be really bold, he should hit Hillary on Syria. That's an issue on which she needs hitting.

She can't escape the fact that she was the Secretary of State in an administration that has pursued a foreign policy best described as Neocon Lite. Maybe not so Lite. At some point, the American government made a bizarre decision to favor jihad-crazed Sunni rebels against the great (and peaceful) Shiite powers of Syria and Iran. This mad policy has had horrific consequences.

We need much more information about how that policy was formulated. We do not yet know all that we should know about who-said-what behind the scenes. In particular, we do not know Hillary's true role.

When did Hillary Clinton climb aboard the high-speed train to Crazy Town? Why did she get on that train? Did she step on board of her accord, or was she pushed?

Here's a clue: In 2013, Hillary pointedly did not add her voice to the mob calling for war with Assad. Did she ever say one word pushing the Big Lie about the sarin attack? If memory serves, she did not -- and her silence said much.

Later, Hillary offered the bizarre claim that Obama's Syria policy went awry because he failed to support the Free Syria Army, the so-called "good" rebels (as opposed to ISIS or Nusra). She made this claim in order to distance herself from Obama's foreign policy without transgressing the boundaries of what the neocons and the hawks consider the range of permissible opinion.

As this UK anti-war site notes:
The most aggressive of her claims, that Obama's unwillingness to give support to the Syrian rebels has led to the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) -- is not true. The US and allies have supported the rebels, though the exact numbers and means are unknown as the operations have been mostly covert. The policy was mistaken from the start: it has contributed to more than 160,000 dead in Syria, and in fact helped to open the way for ISIS to threaten both Syria and Iraq. This failure is both Clinton's and Obama's, and to this day is obscured in a cloud of lies and deceit.
Two anti-government insurrections broke out, one in Libya and the other in Syria. In both cases, Obama and Clinton, together with the UK and France, decided to use these local uprisings as opportunities for "regime change."
The Syrian situation is even more absurd and tragic. On March 27, 2011, on Face the Nation, our then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, praised Bashar al-Assad: "There's a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer."
Republicans have repeatedly misquoted this line, representing Hillary as the one who called Assad a reformer. even though she was actually talking about the opinions held by others. Paul Ryan, you will recall, recited this same fib during his debate with Biden.

(A number of people have indeed argued that Assad was a reformer before the civil war took hold. Even if he has no reformist inclinations, his government is certainly preferable to the hell that ISIS and Nusra will inflict on Syria.)

The right, displaying its usual penchant for False Quotation Syndrome, is making full use of this one. They are so desperate to portray Hillary as squishy on Assad that they feel compelled to stand history on its head. It is well-known that the administration decided on regime change in Syria in August of 2011. Result: ISIS.

Of course, the Republicans won't tell you that part. Neither will the Democrats. The Syrian debacle presents us with one of those odd, rare instances in which both parties conspire to present a narrative at a 180 degree remove from the truth.

In sum: Hillary may be good on domestic issues, but she has been a true horror on Syria. Time for some questions:

1. Who was the architect of the Syrian policy?

2. Can Hillary claim that she was just executing a policy set by the President -- or was she recommending policy to the President?

3. Does she now see that this administration's policy was mistaken?

4. If she does now see that the policy on Syria was mistaken, will electoral politics (and the media) allow her to make that admission in public?

My answers (as of this writing): 1. I wish I knew. 2. I wish I knew. 3. She'd have to be an idiot not to see it. 4. Forget it: She can't say a word. Similarly, JFK could not have discussed his Vietnam withdrawal plans, had he lived to run in 1964.

This administration's despicable policy of regime change in Syria has left me feeling (shall we say) somewhat less than enthusiastic about Hillary. In fact, I'm angry at her.

And yet...

There's the Blumenthal factor, about which I seem to be the only one writing. You've no doubt seen the articles about Hillary's new "posse" -- her aides and advisers. Those articles do not mention Sidney Blumenthal, even though he was the one who seems to have headed up her private intelligence network. I suspect -- hope -- that Blumenthal will have an important role to play in a Hillary Clinton administration.

Regular readers know that I am a great admirer of Sidney Blumenthal's son Max.

Not only does Hillary maintain close ties to the Blumenthal family, she is almost a mother figure to Huma Abedin, whom the Islamophobes hate with a passion more purple than Pilate's toga.

Perhaps there are two Hillary Clintons. Perhaps she cannily refuses to let us glimpse her real self until after the election.


Anonymous said...

The PTB don't hate her, Joe, they just need to maintain the illusion that they do so that they can effectively divide the population and drive would-be progressive and/or liberal voters towards the Clinton, Inc. ticket.

Stephen Morgan said...

Surely someone running to the left of Clinton would be pulling her to the left, rather than pushing her.

Clinton v Bush, round 2. This time it's...

Any election reform measure has to take into account more than funding. Racial disenfranchisement. Electronic voting machines. Another story today about machines used in elections in more than one state turning out to be trivially hacked into, with weak wifi encryption and easily guessed, hard coded passwords like "admin" and "shoup" (AVS were formerly Shouptronic).

Propertius said...

Frankly, I think the anger at Citizens United would be better directed at Buckley, which first established the dubious equivalence of money and speech and has crippled every effort at finance reform ever since.

Dojo Rat said...

You might want to take a look at this; Strobe Talbott is Clinton's choice for Sec. of State.
He appears to be the origin of bad Russia policy and was Victoria Nuland's mentor:

Revisiting the Prophetic Memoir of Clinton's Top Russia Adviser
A fresh look at Strobe Talbott’s The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you mentioned Jim Webb. I think he would be ideal, but for some reason his exploratory bid doesn't seem to be getting much traction. Why not write a blog post or something on his potential?

I've heard it said he's not VP material -- too strong headed. That's why I really wish he had a shot at the top slot.

I view Jim as a fuck-you to the Democratic establishment--to their obsession with putting culturally divisive issues ahead of economically uniting ones. He's the rare Dem who has the potential to appeal to the Republican working-class base.