January 27, 2008

The Arrogance of Arrogance: Thoughts on the South Carolina Democratic Primary 2008

The Clintons fucked up. There really is no other way to describe Hillary Clinton’s showing in South Carolina’s Democratic Primary. Yes, I am sure Clinton supporters will parrot President Bill, claiming that Obama’s landslide is as relevant as a Jesse Jackson primary win and that it was to be expected because South Carolina is a “Black state.” Let us put aside the cynical and borderline racist insinuation that the Black vote doesn’t count and turn to the exit polls. Numbers show that the only groups Senator Clinton won were people over 65 and White women. Except for White men, who went for Edwards, Obama won in every other demographic group. Obama was second with White men and even among White women he had a decent showing. To write Obama’s victory off as a Black thing is not only insulting to all of those who voted for Obama, Black or White, but is where the Clintons are fucking up. The message it sends to people is “Unless you are with us, you are against us,” a stink the Clintons have been throwing off publicly since they attacked entertainment mogul David Geffen for holding an Obama fundraiser way back in 2007.

The Clinton’s arrogance is not just theirs. It permeates their supporters. The Black Democrat and Civil Rights elite were as complicit as the Clintons in pushing the “Bill Clinton as the first Black president” line and claiming that Obama was not “Black enough” for African Americans, two assertions full of equal amounts of absurdity and bullshit. The Clintons not so subtle claims that Miss Hillary was owed the Black vote were doubled by much of the Black establishment. Whether the Black political elite are too used to being treated as a power block and not as individuals or they feared that Obama would not garner any White votes, I am not sure. But I do know that they eased off the vocal and knee-jerk Clinton support once Obama won Iowa. I also suspect that the Black elite backed off when they saw that African American Democrats were not looking at the race as a Black/White thing but as one between hope & aspirations and the Same Old Shit.

Women over 50 are big Clinton supporters. Senator Clinton is “one of them” and an alum of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Because of this, the Senator’s female supporters believe it is the duty of all women to vote for Clinton, whether or not they agree with her politics, her conduct, or her record. I’ve heard female Clinton supporters say that any woman who votes for Obama is a “traitor to her gender.” Young women who support Obama are portrayed as immature and simple minded. Others have stated that not only does Hillary deserve the vote because she is a woman, but that she is owed the presidency because of her status as scorned woman and wife of a heel. This kind of “sisterhood” is identity politics at its worst, a totalitarianism that demands obedience due to tribal membership rather than weighing merit, ideas, intellect, accomplishments, character, leadership skills, empathy, and any number of other things that one would want in a president. The arrogance of the Vote Woman camp denies the importance of free thought and the real power of choice.

Then there are the Democratic Party elite, the Centrist money machine who would like nothing more than another four to eight years of Clinton politics. They seem to forget that Smiling Bill’s popularity is a post-presidential phenomenon. When he ran for his first term, many liberal Dems voted for him out of duty and, once elected, were quick to attack him over his serial bombing of Iraq, welfare reform, and other Republican lite policies. The behind the scenes tension between establishment Dems and the wave of new recruits the Obama campaign is bringing in is thick. Much pressure is being exerted on the Democratic rank & file to support Hillary. Now that it seems that the Kennedy wing of the Dem elite is swinging behind Obama, expect that tension to increase. Whether it breaks out into the open or not, who knows, but down below, the screws are being turned on elected Dems to support the anointed candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Lastly, the Clintons treat voters as idiots. Take the Clinton spin of Obama’s Reagan quote. Obama correctly called President Ronald Reagan a “transcendent figure” in American history, a president who was able to push through policies that the majority of Americans did not agree with that lead to substantial change. This is not Obama expressing an opinion or stating support for Reagan, as the Clintons would like us to believe. Obama is simply sharing the conclusion made by many a historian. Polls conducted during Reagan’s presidency show that though most Americans like Reagan the person, they did not support his policies. History shows that Democrats in Congress often voted against their interest and in support of Reagan’s initiatives. History also shows that the Democratic Party moved to the right in order to court “Reagan Democrats.” Whether the above were good or bad ideas is debatable; however, there is no argument about what happened. And that is exactly what Obama was saying. That the Clintons turn Obama’s observation (and warning that such a strategy betrays Democratic ideals) as proof that he is a closet Reaganite presumes that you and I cannot look at history and make our own conclusions. It assumes that the Clintons hold the One True Interpretation of History and that, despite contrary evidence, we have to support that view…well, kind of. The Clintons know as clearly as I do what Obama meant and I am sure that one on one in a room with no recording equipment and where my memory would be erased once I left, they would say, “Yeah, Obama is right on that point.” They would be insane not to and while they are power hungry, the Clintons are not crazy. However, they do want me to believe that Obama is Ronald Reagan, Jr., a claim that only a moron would consider as truth.

Like many of you, I am unclear about Obama’s policies. The cynic in me is unsure that, if elected, he will be able to “change Washington.” But as he so eloquently says, he offers the “hope of change.” His hope is a call for involvement, not an order to get in line. He respects the intelligence of the people he speaks to. He does not talk down to people or try to trick them. His message is not one of arrogance. His actions are not filled with arrogance. Despite poll-driven media predictions of primary & caucus wins, Obama has not acted like the anointed one. He has identified himself as the “Agent of Change” and “Bringer of Hope,” but he comes off as the Everyman (much to Edwards’ chagrin). The greater the Clintons’ arrogance, the more the Everyman Obama becomes. One of our great national narratives is that the Everyman triumphs over the Bully. Arrogance is the weapon of the Bully and, in this case, it seems to be the Clintons’ biggest fuck up.

(Note that Senator Clinton’s success in New Hampshire came after she both ditched the arrogance and became a sympathetic figure with her brief cry in a town diner. The media’s pre-vote crowning of Obama as King helped switch the roles of Anointed and Everyman. Given President Bill’s nasty involvement, it might be too late for Miss Hillary to recapture her role as underdog. But for a moment climbing off the Bully pulpit worked.)

January 19, 2008

Fearless Iranian Motorboats from Hell

Though it has been more than ten days since the Strait of Hormuz incident, the questions around it are pretty fascinating. Before I go on, a bit of background: On January 8, a handful of Iranian “PT boats” menaced two US Navy ships, a destroyer and a cruise, and threatened to blow the American vessels up…or at least that is the Pentagon’s version of things. What video released by the Pentagon shows are four or five small boats weaving in and out the two Navy warships' wake. Tacked onto the end of the footage is some interesting audio, which I’ll get to in a second.

Upon release of the video, the Pentagon’s interpretation of events came under scrutiny – not here in the States. Nah, the American press pretty much reported the Defense Department spin. The foreign press and independent observers remembered the Bushies’ lies the Iraq War lies, and had the gall to suggest that the Hormuz incident was Bush & Co.’s Gulf of Tonkin.

We can argue whether or not the Iranian "Patrol Torpedo boats" were little more than souped up water-skiing motor boats or whether such provocations are pretty much everyday stuff in the world of power politics (last fall, a group of Russian bombers were turned away from British airspace by the RAF. The Chinese regularly violate Taiwanese air and sea in a provocative manner. These incidents only turn to war when one of the two participants will a war to happen. Defining what happened in the Strait of Hormuz as Bush and the Pentagon have is a step toward war).

However, let us agree that the most peculiar and entertaining part of this tale is the audio tacked on to the end of video released by the Pentagon. Footage of the Iranian motorboats dogging the US vessels is followed by either a black screen or a still of a destroyer. A deep, accented voice says “I am coming for you.” That is followed by an American sailor stating that the US has peaceful intentions and asking the motorboaters to identify themselves. The strange voice answers, “You will explode in two minutes.”

The Pentagon immediately passed this audio off as one hundred percent real, coming from the Iranian motorboaters, and proof that they were under attack. A sceptic pointed out that there was no ambient noise behind the deep "Iranian" voice, nothing to indicate that the transmission came from a speeding motorboat. “The transmission originated from mainland Iran” the Pentagon countered, but when pressed, they had no proof. It has since been alleged that some mysterious “prankster” known as the “Filipino Monkey” must have been the source, though there is no solid evidence to back that up. The mainstream media is saying that this is a question that will never be answered…and that the Iranians are a bunch of dirty dogs and that is all we need to be concerned with. I, however, think I have an answer to this conundrum.

When I heard the voice say "I am coming for you," two words came to mind: Shaw Brothers. For those of you not up on your Kung Fu flicks, the Shaw Brothers are pretty much the Paramount Pictures of the Martial Arts world. Their team of directors made some of the greatest Kung Fu movies of the late 20th Century. Titles such as
Clan of the White Lotus, Flying Guillotine, Vengeance, and Five Deadly Venoms are considered classics of the genre and are Shaw Brothers product. There are literally hundred more Shaw films. While the fighting scenes are what make these movies exceptional, those of us who saw the English dubbed versions (usually on Saturday afternoon TV’s Kung Fu Theater) remember fondly the mad voices and crazy dialogue, dialogue that sounds strangely familiar to “I am coming for you.”

So, here you have a White House who is desperate to get into a war with Iran, but doesn’t know how. The nuclear threat suddenly disappeared. There is no hard evidence that the Iranians are running militias against Americans in Iraq. An event needs to be created out of everyday provocation. There is no Karl Rove around to engineer the thing and Condoleezza Rice isn’t gonna let her be pushed in front of the UN with a bunch of pie charts and graphs to do a Colin Powell Iraq threat presentation. Considering that the Bushies are hot to privatize military functions, why not hire out the propaganda? Enter the Shaw Brothers. How else to explain "I am coming for you"?

You think that is crazy? Have you seen and heard the Pentagon video? If not, check it out. And then listen to this, a top secret outtake from the Shaw Brothers' production studio. I am sure you will be as convinced as I am that we are living in a real life Kung Fu Theater.

January 10, 2008

Sex Change

If you’ve been paying attention to the Democratic and Republican Parties’ presidential nomination races, I am sure that you, too, are sick of the word “change.” I am so aggravated by the word that when the counterperson at the cafĂ© offers me my change, my first impulse is to slug him. Perhaps now that Hillary Clinton has won the New Hampshire primary the word “change” will be retired, or at least given a rest. Instead of the “change mantra,” the candidates will figure out some other squishy concept to mouth. Polls will be commissioned, consultants engaged, a few pundits listened to, and all will conclude that Clinton won New Hampshire because she “brought women back into her camp.” So what is a man to do in a race where the media-anointed “front runner” is the only woman? Simple: Trumpet their womanhood. Hell, if Hillary and Mitt can claim to be “agents of change,” what is stopping Obama, McCain, and Huckabee from growing vaginas? Need help to hear how that presents itself? Allow me:

Barak Obama:
Now…you might not be able to see it under these pants, but I…have… a vagina... I have a big vagina, a vagina big enough to envelop all people, …… all parties, …… all visions. They are going to tell you that I don’t have a vagina. They are going to tell you that my vagina will never work. They are going to say that my vagina is all talk and no action. But they are wrong…I have a vagina that you can believe in. I have a vagina that will unite us as a people. My vagina is not about race or class or gender. My vagina is about hope. I have the vagina of hope.

John Edwards: When people think of the word “pussy,” they often picture something soft, weak, and cowardly. Not me. When I think of my pussy, I think of a fighter, a pussy that will get down into the trenches and work it for the middle class, a pussy that knows the taste of poverty, a pussy that came from the coal fields of South Carolina. My pussy fought its way out of those coal fields and it is the only pussy that will fight for you in the White House. I have the only pussy that can’t be bought. My pussy is the pussy of America. My pussy is your pussy and I promise that it will be on top.

Just because the Republicans are not Democrats, don’t think they aren’t paying attention to what went down in New Hampshire. God knows, the Repugs don’t have any clue how to “engage the electorate.”
They look to the Dems for guidance. Before Iowa, the Repugs (sans Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee) were Bush men. Post-Iowa they became “agents of change.” They, too, will find their inner vaginas.

John McCain: Well, well, I don’t have to tell you about my vagina. You know that I’ve always had a vagina. It might not be the prettiest vagina, it might not be the tastiest vagina, but it is a vagina that was there before all these other guys got their vaginas. And it is a vagina that will always tell the truth. This is a vagina that you can trust will always be a vagina.

Mitt Romney: Vagina? I’ve always had a vagina and my record proves it. It’s a good vagina. It is a vagina of values. It is an American vagina, built by hard work. It is a hard working American vagina…and it has values. It is a valuable vagina of hardworking America. It is a family vagina. A family vagina of freedom. It is a freedom-loving vagina of the American family of values and hard work. It is a vagina, loving of freedom and hard work, that came to America from a family who came here legally. It is a legal vagina. A legal vagina of a hardworking family with the values of an American, an American vagina that works hard legally in America for a freedom-loving family of values. It’s a freedom vagina of values and hard…..

Mike Huckabee: Jesus had a vagina. He might not have shown it off, but he did have a vagina. And I wrote a little song about it. You are welcome to sing along.

Jesus had a vagina
All the live long day
And just because he had a vagina
Doesn’t mean that he was gay.
Can’t you hear people callin’
Through these fields of corn?
They want a real pussy,
Not anymore internet porn…

Sure, sure, there are other Repugs in the race, but all I could make out of Fred Thompson’s mumbling were the words “cunt” and “Ronald Reagan.” Rudy the G flat out denied he was “a pussy,” pointing to his performance after Nine-Eleven and his many ex’s. And in the spirit of Democracy, I didn’t consult Ron Paul or Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, but I am sure they would be happy to flash you theirs.