Friday, January 11, 2008

Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount

More proof that Kucinich deserves the Presidency, or at least a position in cabinet.
Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken advocate in the Presidential field and in Congress for election integrity, paper-ballot elections, and campaign finance reform, has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday's election because of "unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots."

"I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf," Kucinich stressed in a letter to Secretary of State William M. Gardner. But, "Serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few days...It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery - not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a primary election."

There is legitimate concern here, and I applaud Rep. Kucinich for having the balls to at the very least suggest that an investigation take place. These are the sorts of things Gore and Kerry could have done when they were running. No doubt he's going to be chastised as some kind of conspiracy nut or sore loser, but isn't it admirable that he would do what he thinks is right, regardless of how others will view him? Makes me wish front-runners had the same attitude.

I'm not saying that I necessarily believe that there was vote fraud with the optical voting machines, especially considering that I just made a lengthy post about how I think the old-guard feminist vote scored Hillary her win. But the numbers are suspect, and it's not like accusations against privatized voting machines are anything new, and the numbers are indeed a bit suspect, even on the Republican side.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Revenge of the Uterus: How Clinton Took New Hampshire

If you were one of the political junkies who spent all evening January 8th watching newscasts covering the New Hampshire primary, you're well aware of the unexpected upset that occurred on the Democratic side. The last twenty-four hours have been filled with all kinds of speculations and accusations as to who failed where and why, and the difficult thing is that nearly all explanations have validity. Bottom line: nobody is absolutely certain why projections of an easy Obama win turned sour in the short time before the vote.

But I personally think Jodi Kantor of the New York Times hit it directly on the nose:

Even Democratic women with no intention of voting for Mrs. Clinton found themselves drawn into the debate and shaken by what briefly seemed like a humiliating end to the most promising female candidacy in American history.

The process seems to have changed a few minds, at least for now.

“I was really pained by the thought that her campaign really was over,” said Amy Rees, a stay-at-home mother in San Francisco who will vote in the California Democratic primary on Feb. 5. “I kept thinking that the truth is, a woman — even a woman of her unquestioned intelligence and preparedness — can’t get even a single primary win. It really stung.”

Ms. Rees had favored Senator Barack Obama of Illinois; now she is thinking of voting for Mrs. Clinton.

What we have seen is a blossoming of diversity on the Democratic side. We have a woman, and African American, and a Latino sharing the stage at debates and all vying for the reigns of the nation. Beyond the usual motivations of position, experience, and presentation are issues of race and gender. And while blacks and women have been elected and serving in a myriad of elected positions in America for decades, the glory of the Presidency is a seat that has traditionally been reserved for the white Christian elite.

With this in mind, it is easy to understand where the pundits and the pollsters went astray. Used to dealing with the name Clinton, but not how a female candidate could galvanize female support, the issue of sex was treated as minimal, certainly not something that could sway an entire state primary. So when New Hampshire women perceived that Clinton's campaign was being treated unfairly - even chauvinistically - by the mainstream media and flocked to the polls to support her, they caught everyone else off-guard.

Exit polling confirmed that there was a strong turnout of women voters in the New Hampshire primary, many of whom voted for Clinton over Obama. What we see is that, while Obama remained strong in taking the youth vote, it was the older female Democrats who swooned to Hillary's side. It was the working women - those old-guard feminists who have lived through the struggles of the feminist movement in the last few decades - who saw what they believed was an unfair, misogynistic tone towards someone whom they believed was at least as qualified as any other Presidential candidate.

As Carrie Wooten of the Bilerico Project muses:
A highly qualified, highly intelligent, highly respected woman who is being met with curious opposition from her own side in favor of less qualified male candidates. How interesting. If Hillary was a man, would we be advocating as a party for a Senator from Chicago with only two years experience in Washington with such gusto?
A valid question. Katie Heimer from the National Association of Women echoes those same sentiments, observing, "Clinton's gender does make her standing as Democratic frontrunner groundbreaking. However, journalists seem fixated on this one aspect, as if her gender wholly defined Clinton as a candidate, and not in a good way."

This was an element of the race that, up until now, had been completely discounted. Never before in the history of Presidential races has old-guard feminism played such a blatant role. In may ways, this furthers the notion that 2008 will see a race far removed from those of the past, one that sets a provocative tone for the 21st century.

But as a potential Democratic voter (and I emphasize "potential"), I cannot help but raise an eyebrow when I attempt to discuss Hillary Clinton with some of her supporters. To many I have talked to in the Clinton camp, the thought of a liberal opposing a Clinton is absurd, and therefore must be the result of some kind of latent chauvinism. Tara Bonistall of the Kentucky Kernel wonders, "Could it be that the reason many people don't like Hillary Clinton is because she handles her political power like a man?" Why, oh why, would someone who is against the Iraq war, for universal health care, and for dethroning King George II be against a Clinton?! I can assure you, it has nothing to do with the presence of a uterus.

(Allow me state this right now: this is not an attempted critique of feminism, nor is it an attempt to somehow criticize feminists. This is merely a liberal expressing concern over what he sees all too often in American politics: people flocking to a candidate because of image, not issues.)

For starters, we can look to Clinton's voting record. Right away we see a number of votes that, in all honesty, look more at home on the resume of John McCain or Rudy Giuliani than someone purporting to be a liberal:

YES on the Patriot Act
YES on authorizing pre-emptive war in Afghanistan and Iraq
YES on funding for both wars, up until around the time polls showed it wasn't politically viable anymore
YES on funding for a border fence along Mexico
YES on funding for the REAL ID Act
YES on declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization
YES on conformation of Tom Ridge
YES on confirmation of Michael Chertoff
YES on confirmation of John Negroponte

If you go back and look at her rhetoric even as the Iraq War was being waged, it is difficult to differentiate between Senator Clinton and the words coming from the Bush Administration. For those of us who have dug through the old speeches and now hear her talk about ending "cowboy diplomacy", it's too easy to see that she has simply maneuvered herself into a position that is most politically favorable to her at the moment. If polling showed that the Iraq War was still popular, I guarantee she would not be singing the tune she is right now.

And not only am I frightened of Hillary as President, but also with Clinton being anywhere near the White House for another term. This is the same Clinton who increased funding for the Drug War, pushed through the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (which has lead to all of the media conglomeration that Democrats complain about), and oversaw the NAFTA treaty which has wrecked Mexico's economy and sacrificed countless American jobs. The Clinton years also saw the emergence of the PMRC and a wave of censorship in the music industry, something Hillary was completely supportive of. Forgive me for not wanting to have to go through that for another four years.

I'm not suggesting that we wait for a candidate who is pure as the virgin Mary, but I am saying that we shouldn't settle for Clinton. And that's not even settling, that's practically handing the reigns to the same people who have them now. Yet there are droves of people who consider themselves "progressive" and "liberal" who get giddy at the idea of putting a Clinton back in the oval office. And for many in New Hampshire, that seems to have more to do with her being a woman than it does with her being a good candidate.

For the same reason I criticize evangelical Christians for supporting evangelical candidates on the merits of their religion alone (a trend that may thankfully be dissipating as Mitt Romney picks up momentum), I criticize voters who would vote for a candidate solely because she is a woman, or solely because they feel like she was getting a sore deal from the press. Why not vote for Ron Paul, someone who is routinely belittled and ostracized by virtually every media outlet for holding legitimate views on how this nation should be run? Just because he's a man it's ok if he's treated that way?

But I don't want people to finish reading this and go away fuming. What we're seeing in terms of candidates from the Democratic side is reassuring in a number of ways. As I said before, we're seeing diversity, we're seeing real grassroots support for serious change in this nation, and there is a lot of momentum building to topple the decades-old Republican dynasty in this nation. But I am concerned that serious issues are being marginalized or completely ignored by some Democrats because people who are critical of their candidate are immediately being labeled as discriminatory against women. Feminism is not something to be shunned, but it is also not something that should be used to shield political candidates from legitimate criticism. Not only does is hamper discussion of serious issues (and with the Clintons there is no shortage of them), but it also breeds resentment and division among people who otherwise would work hand in hand.

I don't want to see a Republican in the White House any more than the rest of you. But I also know that Hillary Clinton, regardless of her party affiliation and regardless of her current rhetoric, will not produce the change that many believe she will. And I'm sorry if such a position makes me a sexist.

Update: This comment on Dibgy's blog echoes my point. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but here are some of what I believe to be the more interesting observations:
The simple truth is that Clinton has been very willing to kiss up to the people who are most responsible for where we now find ourselves. She's done it early and often, as she "triangulated" for votes that, for her, do not exist. If you want to slide that, you can, but it was an act of monumental political stupidity that is coming back down on her now, and it's the main reason why she gets pounded in the progressive straw polls.

She is not a progressive. Not even close. And for you to defend her is a shock to me.

[...]

Her supporters are, with every passing day, being exposed as "progressives" who don't care how much support she's given to bush and the neo-cons. Just like you, they don't want to hear about her track record.

[...]

They are so caught up in turning her into Saint Clinton, and making her untouchable in the process, that the consequences of it are just not open for discussion. And if someone DOES insist on discussing it, then we're "sexist snakes".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CDP wants Democrat in White House At All Costs

This is why I refuse to give money to the Democratic Party:

For Bob Mulholland, a campaign adviser to California Democrats who has known Feinstein since her time as San Francisco mayor, the backlash against Feinstein amounts to a betrayal rather than a defence of the party's core principles. Mulholland blasted the bloggers and activists supporting the censure resolution as "fringe" and "pre-nursing home".

"The Democratic party's purpose is to remind armchair activists that the duty is to elect a Democrat to the White House so we can end the Iraq mess", he said. "Nothing should get in the way of that."

When Republicans oppose reason and the majority of their constituents (who pay their fat salaries, no less) by standing behind their party's failed policies and inept policy-makers at all costs, it's called lunacy. When Democrats do it, it's called "duty."

Way to take the high ground, people.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Donald Kerr to Nation: Deal with it.

What Donald M. Kerr, principal deputy director of National Intelligence, said:
"Privacy no longer can mean anonymity," says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence.

[...]

"I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up, in terms of anonymity..."
What everyone else heard:
"You shouldn't expect to have privacy anymore. We're watching you now. Deal with it."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Children's healthcare drains conservative wallets*

From the Daily 49er:
Let me state this at the outset: Government-mandated anything is bad. It's bureaucratic, inefficient and, more importantly, it's socialist. It seems like only yesterday that the very thought of socialized anything made America shudder and demand more military spending. Such was that brilliant, beaming moment in our history when Reagan ruled as our king.

Did I say king? I meant president. A man can dream, though.

Naturally, we have all had some taste of the new slime the liberals have whipped up to paint a pretty face on their socialist schemes. Bethany Wilkerson has become the newest poster child for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Thanks to the SCHIP, her parents claim, she has received the medical procedures needed to treat her heart condition.

I refuse to target children negatively. Bethany has no control over her situation so there's no need to attack her. That's why God saw fit to provide every poor child with bad parents.

It all boils down to one simple concept - if you want health care, pay for it. We on the conservative side believe in earning our way. If I want a Corvette, I pay for it. If I want a second house, I pay for it. If I want to save my child from a debilitating disease, I open up the checkbook.

But conservatives are also compromisers. Many employers provide health benefits for employees, so get a job that does. And don't give me that socialist propaganda about "being poor," because all of us have had to do our fair share of toiling to get where we are.

Sure, I was born into tremendous wealth because my family has owned the same newspaper conglomerate for several generations and that guarantees me a lifetime in upper-management with a six-figure income, but someone somewhere along the line had to do some serious toiling.

Why do low-income families feel this incessant need to procreate, anyway? When you get to a point in your life where you can barely make ends meet, having 17 children probably isn't the best financial decision. But God forbid you get a third or fourth job.

It's to the point where it should be mandated by law. How about if you live below the poverty line, it becomes illegal to have children?

Why allow a child to be born into destitution? We could practically say that's child abuse. Welfare is essentially theft from the rest of us and should be against the law. Maybe we should mandate vasectomies as a form of punishment for prolific deadbeat fathers. If you can't keep a handle on your own pants, let the government handle them for you.

Simply put, if you can't afford to foot the bill, you can't afford to screw.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Republicans Derail Spy Measure

I never thought I'd see the day when an issue as monumentally absurd as this one was the subject of very serious, very frustrating deliberation. Before Bush came into office, the very notion of the government wiretapping US citizens without a court order would have made the Republicans' collective heads explode. And rightly so. It is so blatantly un-American and unconstitutional that it wouldn't even warrant (pun intended) discussion. It's. Simply. Wrong.

From the LA Times:
The Democratic eavesdropping bill would have allowed unfettered telephone and e-mail surveillance of foreign intelligence targets but would require special authorization if the foreign targets were likely to be in contact with people inside the United States, a provision designed to safeguard Americans' privacy.

Those so-called "blanket warrants" would let the government obtain a single order authorizing the surveillance of multiple targets.
Now, is this Democratic proposal complete shit? Absolutely. But it smells just a tad bit better than the sloppy stuff the Republicans are offering. Which is, in reality, nothing. Nada. No warrants, no probable cause, just reasonable suspicion. Good work by Republicans in using such arbitrary identifiers. For all intents and purposes, any Republican could consider this post "reasonable suspicion" and have me arrested as an enemy combatant.

I shouldn't even have to be writing this. The fact that these measures - including the Democratic ones - are in direct opposition to everything upon which this country was founded should be a conclusion that every American worth their weight comes to after a few seconds' quiet contemplation.

Don't strain yourself. Eavesdropping without a warrant = bad. Remember civics class.

But what really got me in this article was part of Bush's rationale for vetoing any attempts to whittle away (no matter how insignificant and easily maneuvered-around any attempted whittling may be) at his unfettered, authoritarian powers was that it didn't grant immunity to telecommunications companies who helped him with his illegal spying.
Bush's veto threat came in part because the bill lacks retroactive immunity from lawsuits for telecommunications companies. They have been accused in about 40 civil suits of violating wiretapping and intelligence laws by secretly providing the government access to Americans' e-mails and phone records without court orders.

House Democrats have pledged that no immunity will be granted until the White House tells Congress exactly what the telecommunications companies did that requires legal protection.

The administration contends that without immunity the companies could be bankrupted by legal penalties.
God. I hope so!

UPDATE: In true "Please-Sodomize-Me-Bush!" fashion, Democrats cave and grant immunity to telecom companies. My proposal: go for sloppy seconds.

And to quote the great Jello Biafra, from his song "I Am the Owl":
You know Watergate hurt
But nothing really ever changed
A teeny bit quieter
But we still play our little games