A Novel Concept: Make Them Work For Our Votes

by matttbastard

Must-read post from KathyG on how to make Barack Obama–and politicians in general–better:

Over this past election season, on websites and listservs and in conversations, I’ve seen an awful lot of cheap, hacktacular electioneering in favor of one candidate or another. But at the end of the day, I don’t think there was ever all that much of a difference between Hillary and Barack. Or between those two and Edwards, for that manner. Hillary and Barack had voting records and positions on the issues that were closet to identical. They’ve both taken shitloads of money from Wall Street, and it’s pretty clear to me that each of them is captive to corporate special interests. Indeed, I interpret Obama’s recent rightward shift — Furman, Messina, the remarks about NAFTA, the FISA compromise — as saying to the corporate interests, “Never fear — we’ll be playing ball as usual with you folks.”

As president, either Barack or Hillary, or Edwards, would be infinitely better than any Republican, but from a progressive point of view, each of them would also far short in some pretty profound and powerful ways.

But you know what? Ultimately, I don’t think that they as individuals are to blame for that. I don’t think Barack, or Hillary, or Edwards, are bad people. I don’t think that Barack Obama, for example, went into politics so he could sell civil liberties down the river in favor of giveaways for the telecom industry. But the incentive structure in politics these days is such that he decided he had more to gain by supporting the FISA “compromise” than by opposing it.

This is where we, as liberals, progressives, lefties, activists, whatever-you-want-to-call-us, come in. I do not believe that our interests are best served by the kind of cheap electioneering we saw over the primary campaign. What would be far more effective would be an independent movement that makes strategic alliances with various political candidates but is also distinctly separate from them.

Instead of shilling for Barack, or Hillary, or whoever, we should have been pressuring the candidates to work for our votes. We should have been pressing them to take firm, non-negotiable positions in favor of things like no immunity for the telecoms, or immediate withdrawal from Iraq with no residual troops. Instead, we were really cheap dates. And when you act like suckers, don’t be surprised when something like Obama’s support for the FISA compromise comes back and bites you in the ass.

If we want real change in this country, the place to look for it is not in our so-called leaders, but in ourselves. What we need, in short, is a movement. Without such a movement, President Obama is not going to be able to achieve a whole lot more than President Clinton or President Carter did. But with such a movement, we may actually get somewhere. FDR was able to achieve great things because he had the strong support of a powerful labor movement. Similarly, the civil rights movement was the wind at LBJ’s back. But I ask you, what will President Obama have?

Huh.  An independent movement pressuring candidates to “work for our votes”.   Kinda sounds like the pre-Netroots blogosphere, until Chairman Kos decreed that it was now the sworn duty of DFHs to make sure Democrats (even the dreaded DINOs) get elected, regardless of how progressive they may (or may not) actually be.

You sucker MC, you just ain’t right.

PS-read the whole damn thing.

h/t Hysperia

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Carnival of Feminists #59

by matttbastard

Clicky clicky the fist to check out the latest bloggeriffic compendium of feministical awesomeness, courtesy CoF founder Philobiblon.

h/t Jack Stephens

Image originally uploaded by Cross-stitch ninja, reposted under a Creative Commons licence

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McCain on Foreign Policy: Preserving the Status Quo?

by matttbastard

Big Media Matt disputes the notion that John McCain’s foreign policy record represents a departure from that of the outgoing administration.

Related: Fareed Zakaria on McCain’s “radical” foreign policy proposals:

We have spent months debating Barack Obama’s suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain’s proposal [that the United States expel Russia from the G8 and exclude China from any expansion] has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

Check out the full text of McCain’s March 26th speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, which, according to Zakaria, “[alternates] between neoconservative posturing and realist common sense…like it was written by two very different people, each one given an allotment of a few paragraphs on every topic.”

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Quote of the Day: Michelle Obama and the ‘Ultimate Outsiders’

by matttbastard

It’s interesting…how John McCain’s hotheaded ways are admired as part of his so-called maverick qualities, a willingness to follow his passions and go against the grain; it’s part of his essential Americanness. Michelle Obama’s candor, by contrast, is seen as entirely foreign and not a little threatening. Yes, he’s given more slack because he’s a man. (And yes, Teresa Heinz Kerry, another independent-minded presidential candidate’s wife, got similarly roughed up by the media in 2004.) But Michelle is given zero slack because she’s a woman and black. And let us never forget, in the bigger picture, black anger — or even just plain old dissatisfaction — always raises the specter of slavery and the unfinished business of social justice. In any context, to say nothing of a presidential election of historic proportions, such anger threatens a still widely accepted narrative of America as a good place, a fair place. Presidential elections are all about voters connecting emotionally to candidates, identifying with them, and Michelle is not making that connection happen as easily people would like. But her reasonable expectation that we see her reality, some of which is shaped by a difficult racial reality, is part of the paradigm shift that we are resisting like mad. In a discussion of what Obama’s candidacy could mean, NBC’s Chris Matthews lauded Barack but dispensed with American racial matters as “all that bad stuff in our history.” A recent New York Times profile, in distinguishing Michelle’s background from that of her husband, described her as being “a descendant of slaves” — as if that’s a unique fact rather than a collective one that applies to the vast majority of the millions of black Americans whose families have been here for hundreds of years. That slavery is even remarked on at all says much about how blacks are still viewed by their fellow Americans, even sympathetic ones, as the ultimate outsiders.

– Erin Aubry Kaplan, Who’s afraid of Michelle Obama

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Read this now (The honeymoon is over)

by matttbastard

Renee of Womanist Musings is guestblogging at Feministe for the next two weeks. Her inaugural post is a must-read:

When you think of the Niagara region immediately the mind turns to the majestic falls. Some who have spent more than an afternoon here will think of places like the Welland Canal, The Skylon Tower, Fallsview Casino, Clifton Hill, and maybe even the dearth of reasonably priced hotels, and restaurants. The aforementioned sites are the Niagara region you are supposed to think about. It is what you will find printed in all of those handy little pamphlets, that the tour guides like to give out. Yes the safe family destination, where everything is bright and sunny. What you will not hear about are the women that have been killed here since 1996.

I know y’all can’t help but go and read the rest. Is hard going due to the subject matter–trigger warnings most definitely apply–but is a vital endeavour. Go.

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Quote of the Day: Projection is Illuminating

by matttbastard

It looks as if the concerns that some people have about Mrs. Obama tell us less about her and more about them. Once again, we seem to have an abundance of paranoid white folks who see a black separatist lurking around every corner.

Even in elite corners. How did a corporate lawyer with degrees from Princeton and Harvard and a record of bringing together whites and blacks in her position as a hospital administrator get transformed, in the minds of some, into a black militant with a chip on her shoulder and a score to settle with white America?

[…]

What did the 44-year-old mother of two girls do to deserve the accusation, or at least the insinuation, that she’s anti-white? In the words of one of her friends and classmates at Harvard Law School, what she did was shatter the assumptions of many people about “what it means to be an African-American woman.” Here you have an accomplished, intelligent and outspoken black woman, and many Americans are at a loss about how to handle that combination. They’d rather try to destroy her than have to deal with her.

– Ruben Navarette, Michelle Obama’s Bad Rap

Related: Rupert Cornwall does his goddamndest to wrest the WOTD title from Justin Gimelstob with this straight-to-the-bottom-of-the-birdcage column from today’s Independent on how Michelle Obama is oh-so “prickly and resentful.” Well, I’m pretty sure she resents bogus racist/sexist ‘analysis’ from asshat pundits like Cornwall. Kate Harding and Michelle Obama Watch (h/t) have more on Cornwall’s crass idiocy.

Also see this Comment is free post from MOW founder Gina McCauley on the inevitable Stepford rebranding of Michelle Obama.

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Wanker of the day (Atrios who? Is Internet tradition.)

by matttbastard

“She’s a [bleep],” Gimelstob said of Anna, using a word that rhymes with “kitsch. “We’re gonna kick her [bleep],” he added, using a word that almost rhymes with “kastle.”

[…]

“Wait until you see on July 23, she’s gonna be serving 40 miles an hour and I’m gonna be just plugging it down her throat….We do exhibitions together and I’ll mock her, and make fun of her. I’ll just make her know that she’s stupid….I’m sure she’ll rue the day that she has to come here and actually share space with me.”

The Junkies asked whether she knows that they’ll be facing each other; “probably,” Gimelstob said. “She might not even be smart enough to read the schedule.”

They asked if he would serve at her head; “No, I’m gonna just serve it right into the body, about 128, right into the midriff,” he said.

And they asked what would happen if Kournikova made a move on Gimelstob. You know, a Biblical move.

“Definitely not,” he said. “I have no attraction to her, because she’s such a douche….I really have no interest in her. I wouldn’t mind having my younger brother, who’s kind of a stud, nail her and then reap the benefits of that.

– Justin “Bobby Riggs Jr” Gimelstob, securing his membership in the ‘yr doin it wrong’ school of trash talk.

“If she’s not crying by the time she walks off that court, then I did not do my job.” Oh, you did your job, Justin–you’ve ginned up attention for your stupid overpriced tennis exhibition by trollishly utilizing misogynistic slurs (and channeling the spirit of The Battle of the Sexes) in a disingenuous attempt to manufacture a controversy (mission accomplished!). And now we (as in humourless feminazi bloggers) are fulfilling our duty by getting pissed the fuck off and sharing our displeasure with those who pay your salary.

According to Jill @ Feministe, Gimelstob is gainfully employed in the US by The Tennis Channel. Email them at general@thetennischannel.com and let them know what you think about Gimelstob’s comments. Even better, via Kate in comments at Feministe, here’s a list of some of The Tennis Channel’s sponsors:

Something tells me it that, after all this is over, it won’t be Kournikova who’s crying.

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Obligatory FISA Compromise Post

by matttbastard

It really is the circle of life in Washington. And, yes, Obama totally deserves the WOTD moniker for rolling over right along with the rest of ’em“[A] colossal failure of leadership” is putting it mildly; with this so-called “compromise”, Obama and the Democratic Party have collectively given the legislative finger to the rule of law, securing themselves a dubious legacy:

…in 2006, when the Congress was controlled by Bill Frist and Denny Hastert, the [Bush] administration tried to get a bill passed legalizing warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty, but was unable. They had to wait until the Congress was controlled by Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to accomplish that.

Heck.  Of.  A.  Motherfucking.  Job.

Fucking hell.

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