Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans Now

How could anyone actually watch more than a few minutes of the Republicans’ November 28 debate in Saint Petersburg without succumbing to nausea? I know I had to stop. But TV Land abounds with viewers with strange tastes, and I suppose the debate did have a certain Ripley’s Believe It or Not appeal. After all, who would have thought it possible to assemble eight men together in one room at one time who actually make George W. Bush look good! [In fairness, only seven of them do, since Ron Paul, the libertarian, isn’t quite that awful.] Could there be a clearer illustration of the rush to the bottom that our duopolistic electoral system encourages! The eight (or seven) are so pitiful that, no matter how many times one sees them together – the corrupt, incompetent mayor, the flip-flopping family values plutocrat, the war monger, the lazy actor, the likeable dieter, and the ones too unmemorable to name -- it always surprises. If even the worst of the Democrats – that would be Hillary, of course, though Joe Biden could give her a run for the money – can’t slaughter any one of them in a free and fair election (one no more rigged than usual), then Democrats now are even more inept than I can imagine. Of course, I’m not very imaginative, as recent polling data suggests. On the other hand, the stars do seem recently to be lining up just right.

What was most alarming Wednesday night, even more than the candidates themselves, were the You Tube videos that “grass roots” Republicans sent in. I’m assuming, of course, that the questions the CNN producers selected were typical. Who knows if that assumption is fair? If CNN is good at anything, it’s at dumbing down political discourse and eliciting mindless, “newsworthy” sound bites, embedded, ideally, in pointless, contrived quarrels -- witness Wolff Blitzer’s machinations at the Democrats’ Las Vegas debate or the Anderson Cooper character last Wednesday. Representative or not, what a gaggle of racist, nativist, gun toting, God and “Islamo-fascist” fearing, War on Terror loving “useful fools”! It was enough to make even the hardiest among us despair for the Home of the Brave. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising; after all, these people, succeeded twice in electing Cheney and Bush. [Well, maybe not exactly “electing”]. But the questions still amazed.

Since before the 2004 election, I have maintained, only somewhat facetiously, that the Republican Party would not survive to 2008; that it would fall victim to a culture clash, with its Fortune 500 plutocrats and their white shoe allies on one side, and the racist, nativist, gun toting, God and “Islamo-fascist” fearing, War on Terror loving know-nothings on the other. There just aren’t enough of the “cloth coat Republicans” of Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech left to serve, as it were, as a middle class that could hold the Grand Old Party together; especially when, with George Bush at the helm and straddling both sides of the Divide, the useful fools took over. How can the plutocrats stand it? How could they watch the debate? Could it be that their greed, their passion for tax cutting and deregulation, is powerful enough to keep them on board? No doubt it is for a while. But, if nothing else, class snobbery is bound eventually to defeat the base self-interest of the rich and greedy. Or so I believe, sort of. “No new taxes” used to be a winner or, as in the case of Poppy Bush, a loser. But by now, with the military and intelligence budgets untouchable (in an age of perpetual “war”), cutting taxes isn’t what it used to be. For one thing, it no longer serves one of its old purposes – undoing the remnants of the New Deal and Great Society. It isn’t just that the Clintonites have taken up the cause. It’s mainly that there aren’t very many useful social programs left to cut.

My prediction hasn’t quite come true yet; and it’s probably wishful thinking on my part that it ever will. But, after the last debate, my confidence in it is enhanced. There is, however, a factor of unknown potency pulling in the opposite direction. It’s the likelihood that the Democrats will come to the Republicans’ aid. The Republican candidates being who they are, and the failures of the Cheney/Bush administration being so blatant, it is now only the Democrats who can unite their “rival” or at least keep it together. If they were smart, which of course they aren’t, Mitt and Rudy and the rest would be stuffing Hillary’s coffers. They’d probably get caught though – maybe even by CNN – so it’s lucky for them, I suppose, that they are as dumb as they are. In any case, the only chance the GOP now has is that the foolishness of Democratic voters, the kind that turned the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity, from bad to worse in the Clinton and Bush years, may make Hillary boosting by Republican operatives unnecessary.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Revelatory Moments

It isn’t often that both our lesser and greater evil parties reveal their deepest natures within just a few days of each other.

The Democrats went first. They got retired army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez to deliver their ‘rebuttal’ to George Bush’s Saturday (November 24) radio address. Sanchez ran the Cheney/Bush Iraq operation between 2003 and 2004. He was the one in charge when the (known) “abuses” of prisoners occurred at Abu Ghraib and other locations, and there is good reason to think that he not only knew what was going on, but even ordered it indirectly. Yet he was the one chosen to pontificate on the anti-torture provisions of the Geneva Conventions and to echo the Democrats’ line about “supporting the troops.” Getting Sanchez to speak for the Democrats exceeds the usual opportunism of National Security wannabes. It reveals the true depth of the Democrats’ Pelosiism.

[Pelosiism, as I’ve explained before, is the Clintonism of our era. Pelosiites parade their “progressivism” while doing Cheney’s and Bush’s work for them – not just out of cowardice or bad strategizing, but because, as Clintonites, they are of one mind with Cheney and Bush.]

Then, not to be outdone, the Republicans showed what they’re about when Trent Lott decided he’d quit the Senate before the New Year – presumably to evade a law that goes into effect January 1 requiring Senators to wait at least two years after leaving office before they can go to work collecting millions as lobbyists. [Lott is the Senate Minority Whip. He used to be the Minority Leader, but he had to step down in the furor over his remarks praising Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Dixiecrat campaign]. Turning political connections into gold is the stuff of modern politics. But this is qualitatively more crass. Lott has finally done one thing memorably well; he’s brought sleaziness and corruption to a new level. No Bush named George, not even Dick Cheney in his prime, could have illustrated the Republican essence better.

I confess that every time Cheney’s ticker falters, as it did again last weekend, I half expect him to seize the opportunity for a good excuse, and go the way of Trent Lott. But then I realize that this is wishful thinking on my part-- because he’s already made his zillions, and because he probably feels he still has responsibilities he can’t shirk looking out for the folks who will soon be stuffing Trent Lott’s pockets. Besides, he can’t resign because almost all the rats have already fled the sinking ship, so there’s no one else left to mind the Bush boy. Condoleezza used to be the designated nanny, but after Annapolis she’ll be too busy trying, again in vain, to mend her “legacy.” [If only Stanford had let her kill, maybe she’d have gotten it out of her system years ago, and would then have left the Palestinians (and Iraqis and Afghanis and all the others – including, especially, back in the summer of 2006 during the Israeli aggression, the Lebanese) in peace.]

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Looking Up Down Under

The good news is that John Howard, Dick Cheney’s soul mate and co-thinker, suffered a humiliating electoral defeat in the Australian elections. The less good news is that the victorious Labour Party is another lesser evil party, the down under equivalent of our Democrats. The new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is something of an Australian Clintonite too. But maybe that’s too harsh. After all, Australia is a country with a parliamentary system of government and more reasonable electoral laws. Its politicians therefore have less need than ours to chase money and pander. Think Gordon Brown, then -- not Bill or Hillary.

[A Clintonite, as I’ve explained countless times in these entries, is a pre-Reaganite Republican – a social liberal, a fiscal conservative and a sensible steward of the empire, its bloated military machine, and its overgrown intelligence apparatus. Unlike the neoconservatives who won Dick Cheney’s sick heart and worse mind, Clintonites suffer from bad consciences for having become the people they detested in their youths. Their bad consciences come to the fore especially when their exploits founder – all the more so if there’s a lot of murder and mayhem involved. Clintonism, in short, is a kinder, gentler and more competent version of the neo-liberal, imperialist ideology that produced the neoconservative movement. It is neo-conservatism without the hubris and know-nothingness. As such, it’s not quite up to the Eisenhower Republican standard – not just because Ike, unlike the Clintons, never wanted to reverse the progress made under the New Deal and Fair Deal, but also because Eisenhower had a sense of history and of the limits of American power (even at a time when it was far greater, comparatively, than it now is.) For more on the evils of Clintonism, look here.]

Much like Gordon Brown, Rudd would redeploy Australian troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. In American terms, that puts him in the Howard Dean camp, circa 2004, along with most of the 2008 Democratic contenders including Hillary Clinton, the most Clintonite of the lot.

On Iraq, Rudd is, of course, vastly better than Howard. But he is still to the right of most Democratic voters. He is probably also to the right of a majority of Americans, and of a far bigger majority of Australians. I still fear that it may only be wishful thinking, but it is looking more and more like being so far to the right of the base could be a problem for the most Clintonite of them all. The press is full of reports that the former “first lady” has hit a few “bumps in the road,” and that she has a problem in Iowa, where both Barack Obama and John Edwards could defeat her. According to the pundits, she’s playing too much to the “center” – in order to be well positioned for the general election. It now seems that this strategy, which she can’t abruptly change, may have been unwise. [It is said that she and Bill arrived at it together; no doubt, at an intimate moment.] Such, at least, is the new conventional wisdom. I hope it’s right. The conventional wisdom seldom is, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

It is true, of course, that the other (electable) candidates aren’t much better on “the issues.” They may soon have an occasion to show this yet again, when the ill-planned and ill-advised Condoleezza Rice conference on the Israel-Palestine conflict in Annapolis founders – because the U.S. and Israel won’t be able to get even Abu Abbas and the gaggle of corrupt Arab leaders they rustle up to consent to “giving” the Palestinians a Bantustan state. [In fact, the comparison is unfair because Bantustans at least had integral borders.] There are many in Israel and elsewhere who think that Rice’s “failure” could result in a third intifada. If it does, watch all the Democratic contenders – except, of course, the unelectable ones, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel -- race to see who is the most eager to give Israel carte blanche. Would that someone would ask Hillary and the others what level of atrocity it would take before they’d condemn the Israeli occupation. Or, more subtly, someone might ask the candidates about their positions on ethnic cleansing and Apartheid.]

Still, no matter how bad the others are (in comparison with what decency requires), any move to the left of the Clintons is a move in the right direction, even if it is accomplished by someone still in the broader Clintonite fold. The media have lately gotten behind Barack Obama. I think that John Edwards would be a better candidate and President, at least on domestic issues. But if Obama can get the Clinton family – and their leftover retainers -- out of our politics and out of our lives, all power to him. Having endured Cheney and Bush and their (Clintonite) aiders and abettors for so long, we deserve up here at least as good as what they’ll be getting down under.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Class War

During the November 15 Las Vegas debate, John Edwards, the so-called “populist,” was charged with invoking the specter of “class war.” If only it were so! The “criticism” is risible enough not to warrant further comment except to note how familiar this refrain has become in our political culture. The assumption is that it is normal for state policies to operate first and foremost with the interests of capital in mind; so normal that it goes unnoticed. What is abnormal – and downright unseemly – is to care about the victims of the system those policies reinforce. There is, of course, “compassion.” But within the Clintonized Democratic Party, where the “pain” of the victims is felt, compassion is almost as otiose as it has been for our compassionate conservative in-chief. Of course, both parties will address the problems of the millions at the bottom of our increasingly unequal society if they must; when placation is in order. Fortunately, for them, that is seldom the case, especially in recent years. This is not because the condition of people not at the top has gotten better. It has gotten worse. It’s because our political culture has dumbed down. For that, our economic elites can thank the liberal media – for example, the sponsor of the last debate, CNN. Evidently, outside the Republican base, mind numbing CNN banter works better for fostering acquiescence than Fox style propaganda. Not long ago, things were different. The need to placate was everywhere. It was that need that made the New Deal and later the Great Society necessary and possible. Our rulers have every reason, this holiday season, to give thanks that this is no longer so. After all, placation can have contradictory – even anti-systemic – consequences. Thus the New Deal and Great Society did more than just save capitalism from itself. These brief moments, when an affirmative government actually did worthwhile things, helped move society forward – to an extent that not even dedicated Republicrats (Reaganites, Bush familiars, and Clintonites alike,) can entirely reverse – no matter how much media help they get.

That a class war directed against capitalism’s victims is too normal even to notice, while any hint of resistance from the other side elicits dismissive ridicule or self-righteous consternation is especially evident in the spate of media reports in the past few days in both the financial press and the ‘liberal media” attacking that dastardly Hugo Chavez for using so much of Venezuela’s oil revenues to finance worthwhile social programs for Venezuelans – instead of investing in new refinery capacities to feed America’s oil consumption. Why it is even more outrageous than those lingering old European concerns with income security, leisure time, and social services! How dare anyone think that resources should be used to serve the people, not just to benefit “the investor classes!”

Compared to Chavez, Edwards is a corporate sycophant. But on the off chance that he were to become the Democrats’ candidate, expect the fury now unleashed against Chavez to focus on him. [This would happen ten-fold over were Dennis Kucinich to become the candidate; but of course, in our barely democratic political system, where money is the great legitimator, that’s almost infinitely improbable.] Given how pitiful the Republican field is, an Edwards candidacy would pose a real dilemma for the beneficiaries of the system in place. Will they go with another incompetent fool (who might even someday make the Bush boy look good) or will they be the ones who acquiesce for once by backing someone who might, ever so slightly, buck the Republicrat consensus. Their plight would be wonderful to behold. But I doubt we’ll have the chance because, if the polls are right, Democratic voters are not yet ready to dispatch Clintonism. In other words, too few of them are currently disposed to stop waging class war on the wrong side.

If it comes to this, we “populists” can still, in small and “privatized” ways, express resistance. Here’s one suggestion: if you are going to drive and if it is possible where you live, fill your tank with Citgo gas. That will increase Venezuela’s dividend – infinitesimally, to be sure. But it will feel great. Think of it as a way to flip the bird to both Cheney and Bush, on the one hand, and to the lesser evil party, on the other; and also to defy The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and all the other movers and shapers of our morbidly acquiescent political culture.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Las Vegas

Within seconds of last night’s “debate,” moderated by the cartoon character Wolff Blitzer, the deep thinkers CNN has for pundits, led by former Wall Street Journal editorial page columnist, former PBS bore (on the soporific Jim Lehrer show), former (Bill) Clinton advisor, and current Harvard (Kennedy School) “professor,” David Gergen, pronounced a victory of sorts for Hillary Clinton. It seems she got past the drivers’ license issue OK. Then, this morning, the paper of record praised her “assertive tone,” and noted especially her remark (full of pith) that Democrats (read John Edwards and Barack Obama) “should stop ‘throwing mud’ and adopting tactics ‘right out of the Republican playbook’.” Even Christopher Dodd seemed to agree.

Well, here’s a better instant comment: Democrats – not just the ones in Congress who play games with the Bush boy by throwing money at “the troops," but also the candidates should stop adopting strategies right out of the Republican agenda. John Edwards was a partial exception -- but only because he wants the interests of the poor and other victims of Republicrat feed-the-rich politics to receive mention. Dennis Kucinich was, as usual, a more thoroughgoing exception – because, on every “issue,” his position is far superior to his rivals. [To the viewers’ and listeners’ detriment, Mike Gravel was, again, excluded.] But, of course, in our “marketplace of ideas,” what matters is not what candidates say but how what they say is reported – and our opinion shapers, for now, seem to be falling into line behind the likes of David Gergen.

Time is running out. Were there anything to pray to, now would be the time to pray that something, anything, happens to remind Democratic voters of the evils of Clintonism, evils amply chronicled here in preceding entries. With only a tad of consciousness about that, the regime’s risible media flunkies would be swamped, and the prospect of a Clintonite restoration reversed. But, alas, prayer is of no avail: by not existing, the Living God, still doing “a heck of a job,” has left it up to us -- and it is looking increasingly like we’re not up to the task.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What Kind of Moron Do They Think We Are?

Evidently, the answer is “first class.” Yet again, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are going through their “support the troops” charade – giving Cheney and Bush even more money than they’ve asked for for their wars, but with a “timeline” attached. It’s the Democrats’ version of the surge theory – since the maneuver hasn’t worked yet, try more of it. Wearily, I must repeat the obvious: the only way to “support the troops” is to bring them home (unconditionally); the only way to end Cheney’s and Bush’s wars is to defund them; and, while we’re at it, the best outcome that can emerge from the Iraq debacle would be an abject defeat, followed by an Iraq Syndrome – much like the Vietnam Syndrome Reagan and the first Bush inveighed against, only deeper and more enduring. [Of course, abject defeat is already a fact on the ground; the issue now is to face the fact squarely; not obscure it the way leading Democrats, and Republicans, are desperately trying to do.] It’s also obvious that, to keep Cheney and Bush from making the situation much worse in the the next fourteen months – by extending their perpetual “war on terror” into Iran -- they must be removed from office ASAP. I might add, again wearily (as I’ve said it many times before), that the best way to repair some of the harm Cheney and Bush have done would be to bring them to justice. But, for reasons I have also amply discussed,the Pelosiite leadership of the Democratic Party wants no truck with the obvious. They’d rather remain Cheney/Bush aiders and abettors, thinking that they can somehow mollify their “base” by continuing a charade that fools nobody, probably not even themselves.

Meanwhile, with another Democratic presidential candidates debate looming, the November 26 issue of The Nation, contains “endorsements” for each of the Democratic contenders. Was this a debating exercise? One would hope so, at least in some cases, because rejecting some of those candidates is a true no-brainer. But I fear that the authors took their endorsements seriously. If they did,, this would be yet another example of The Nation’s ecumenicism lapsing into political incoherence, if not downright silliness. The endorsements are worth reading nevertheless. Gore Vidal’s piece on Dennis Kucinich is a gem, and several of the others are good too – Bruce Shapiro on Christopher Dodd, Richard Kim on Mike Gravel, and, above all, Katherine Newman on John Edwards. Michael Eric Dyson makes a fairly lame case for Barack Obama and Rocky Anderson, the “radical” mayor of Salt Lake City, makes an even lamer case for Bill Richardson. Of course, Anderson didn’t have much to work with. The latest flurry of media interest in Obama notwithstanding, it’s looking increasingly like Dyson didn’t either. But what was John Nichols thinking in endorsing Joe Biden? Unless this really was a debating exercise, he should have his head examined because Biden is, if anything, even worse than Hillary Clinton – even more Clintonite. Which brings me back to the “what kind of morons…” question. If you really want to know, take a look (if you have the stomach for it) at what Ellen Chesler finds to say in support of the Hillary. Or maybe the real message of her piece is that the Democratic leadership is on to something: that many, indeed most, Democratic voters (according to the polls), genuinely are “first class.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Profiles in Pelosiism

Pelosiism is the form Clintonism takes when the vast majority of the people (the demos in democracy) are far to the left of their rulers, for whom the exigencies of governing an empire and, not unrelatedly, serving their corporate paymasters are the highest priority. Pelosiites talk to their left, while aiding and abetting their Republican “rivals” with whom they disagree only enough to remain the lesser evil -- a point to which I will return.

Here are three especially flagrant examples of Pelosiism, all of them in the news in just the past few days:

(1) As Democrats prattle on about their abhorrence of torture and their respect for the rule of law, two of their number on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein, voted with the Republicans – sending Michael Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General to the full Senate for a vote where he will in all likelihood be confirmed (again with Democratic support). For all the many reasons that the eight Democrats who voted the right way could (and should) have opposed Michael Mukasey, they settled on only one: his professed uncertainty about whether water-boarding – drowning persons almost to the point of death – is torture and therefore illegal. Since the man is not an idiot and not more than usually ill informed, this can only mean that he supports the torture regime Cheney and Bush inaugurated. So too therefore do Schumer and Feinstein, even as they proclaim otherwise, and so, on balance, does the party that will let Bush have the Ashcroft-Gonzales successor he craves.

(2) As Democrats prattle on about their opposition to Cheney and Bush, the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives succeeded in quashing Dennis Kucinich’s motion before the full House to impeach Dick Cheney, by referring it to the House Judiciary Committee, where liberal icon John Conyers, along with his fellow Democrats, will let it die a quiet death. Although the outcome was never in doubt, the leadership stumbled badly at first in the way they handled the affair, after some clever Republicans tried to force a vote that would expose the hypocrisy of the Pelosiite majority within the Democratic Party. However it seems that the incompetence of Republicans in the White House has infected the Republican leadership in Congress, allowing the Pelosiites to out- maneuver them. Thus Democratic duplicity remains more hidden than it might otherwise have been. Needless to say, were the Democrats only slightly less of a (lesser) evil than they now are, there would be no question of impeaching Cheney – and Bush and the others. Were they even remotely dedicated to the rule of law (not just in words, but in fact), they’d now be confronting the question of how and when, not whether, to bring the torturers to justice – for war crimes, crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity. But, as everyone knows, Pelosiites are dead set against impeachment.

(3) As the Democrats in Congress prattle on about social justice and about reversing the more egregious excesses of our current Gilded Age, they have decided not even to consider a plan to collect billions in tax revenues by fairly taxing the mega-millionaire managers of hedge funds. This time, the main villain is the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. That he has lately been wined and dined – and who knows what else – by hedge fund lobbyists has been widely reported. But this latest “embarrassment” for ostensibly liberal Democrats isn’t just the doing of one powerful miscreant. Michael Franc, writing in The Financial Times (November 5), speculates that part of the explanation is that the Democratic Party has become the party of the rich; and that its leaders – Nancy Pelosi, for example, and Steny Hoyer – represent districts chock full of mega-millionaires. As Franc points out, the leaders of the Congressional Republican Party, in the meantime, represent comparatively poor districts. Evidently, decades of Republican pandering to “values voters” is working its toll; the Republican Party is now run by the folks the corporate board room and country-club set used to consider their harmless but useful idiots. Meanwhile, rich white liberals have taken over the Democratic Party, with predictable results.

Why is Pelosiism so rampant? The problem is not that the Democrats are stupid; that’s unique to the (new) majority wing of the greater evil party. So it must be some combination of the following factors:

1) The POP, the Party of Pusillanimity, is comprised of cowards or, what comes to the same thing, “liberals” – the people Robert Frost said won’t take their own side in an argument.

2) The POP is comprised of bad electoral strategists who think that the way to win elections is to position themselves in such a way that, without losing their “base” (who have nowhere else to go), they can pick up all the votes just to the left of their rivals. If the national polls that put Hillary Clinton in the lead are even remotely correct, they may be right. But they’re not right because their reasoning is sound. They’re right because many Democratic voters “strategize” similarly. In other words, sound strategic thinking has nothing to do with it. The POP is in the thrall of a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a collective illusion.

There is no doubt some truth in (1) and (2) but, as I have written before, the main explanation is something else altogether:

(3) The POP and the GOP, however much they differ at the margins, agree in their fundamental political orientation. Like the GOP, the POP is led by people intent on keeping U.S. corporations in control of the world economy and of the strategic resources, oil especially, on which it depends -- by insuring a pax Americana established through overwhelming military dominance. This is why they cannot willingly accept the appearance of defeat in Iraq, reality notwithstanding; and why they do not categorically oppose the neo-conservative plan to remake the Middle East – by waging endless wars to make the region safe for American corporations and, of course, for America’s favorite “ally,” Israel. The POP is more competent than the GOP under Cheney and Bush; and it is certainly kinder and gentler. It isn’t embarrassing to the rich white liberals the House leadership represents. Also, it isn’t quite as lawless (Bill Clinton’s Yugoslavia wars notwithstanding) or quite as murderous (his Iraq sanctions apart), and it is less inclined always to do Wall Street’s bidding (notwithstanding Bill Clinton’s entire Presidency). Nevertheless, the Pelosiite leadership of the Democratic Party is working for the same interests Cheney and Bush are. Cheney and Bush have made such a mess that the system our wretched party duopoly sustains faces trouble ahead. Indeed, thanks to forces accelerated by Cheney’s and Bush’s military adventures abroad, the empire is on the point of becoming undone -- and the landing may not be at all soft. Now is the time, therefore, for all good neo-liberal imperialists to come to the aid of the regime. This is the main reason for the Pelosiite machinations we’ve witnessed in recent days and for the many others that preceded them and for the ones that will surely follow – for instance when, in the near future, Pelosiite Democrats will give Cheney and Bush the extra $50 billion they want for the Iraq war and occupation.

Kucinich’s impeachment resolution would have garnered more than a few Democratic votes because there genuinely are progressive Democrats out there (notwithstanding the shabby performance of the party’s so-called Progressive Caucus). There is even a chance, a slight one, that in the coming Presidential primaries they can take over the party and, at least partly, change its direction. But for that to happen, it will be necessary first to dispatch the prospect of a Clintonite restoration, especially one led by Bill Clinton’s (marginally) better half. For good or ill, it is looking increasingly like John Edwards is the only candidate not too tainted by Clintonism with even a remote chance of defeating the Clintons. If he fails, it will again become time to rethink the lesser evil question; not the principle perhaps (our not very democratic institutions put that out of the question for now), but whether the lesser evil party really is less evil enough.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Schmucky Chucky

I have it on good authority that New York Senator Charles Schumer was known as “Schmucky Chucky” by the girls who wouldn’t go out with him in high school. Little did they know, back then, how apt their description was. Not only did he smooth the way for Hillary Clinton to carpetbag her way into New York state, turning herself into the menace now confronting the country and the world, and not only did he find and promote the most right-wing Democrats he could find to run for the Senate in 2006 – mimicking Rom Emanuel, his Clintonite counterpart in the House of Representatives -- but now, it seems, he’s come out in favor of the Bush boy’s nominee for Torturer General, Michael Mukassey. To cover his sorry ass, he also enlisted the support of his California co-thinker, the equally schmucky Dianne Feinstein. Score another victory for Cheney and Bush, notwithstanding the 2006 elections; and another demonstration of the utter fecklessness of the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity -- the (hardly) Democratic Party.