25 January 2016

2016


LAST UPDATED: 07/29/2016
The difference between 2008 and 2016 is...

Bernie is no Barack. And in 2016, we now have seen the depths to which the GOP obstruction machine is willing to descend to stall progress. Indeed (as this blog has covered since 2009), they have helped take us backwards, in many respects, over the last seven years. The next president can expect the same or worse obstruction, should America allow the Democrats to keep the White House this November.

Hillary's been through this storm... longer even than the president. Since 2008, Hillary has added to her (already jam-packed) resume by serving as Secretary of State honorably and quite effectively. (Of course, the video below is Secretary Clinton's "gay rights are human rights..." address in December 2011. A champion.)

Her email issue, among others, was frustrating. Her slow response even more so. But, she has acknowledged and apologized. An apology, in the face of the kind of conspiracies Rep Kevin McCarthy referred to, is strength.

She is ready for the job.

She will protect and build on the Obama Legacy.

Depending on how things unfold on the GOP side, Senator Sanders may even be her ideal running mate... because we are all on the same side here.


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UPDATE 02/02/2016 : After Iowa...

Incidentally, Democrats, we are in the middle of the "revolution" that started in 2008, with the election of Barack Obama. Calling for a revolution in 2016 is a bit of a slap across the president's face, considering all he has been able to accomplish in spite of the unprecedented obstruction brought on by the Republicans.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that the reason the GOP blocked huge chunks of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda was because they couldn't afford for it to pass, and to succeed. The obstruction started almost from the very beginning, soon after the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in January 2009.

Back then, Republican public servants (members of Congress) bragged that their "biggest priority" was to make sure Obama would remain a "one term president." Grinding the country to a halt was their approach... an attempt to make the people hate him. It is a miracle how much has changed for the better since Barack Obama entered 1600.

Yes, some things have become worse. But, let's not blame the wrong people for that.

The "change we can believe in" takes time, and takes a president who intends to play the long game.* Secretary Clinton has now shown that she understands the kind of discipline and patience that is required to govern in this climate.

*The "long game" is something the president described [today, 2/10/2016, in the speech linked above] as the "Politics of Hope," something that is...

"Sustained over the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."


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UPDATE 02/05/2016 : A note on electability...

As the GOP are slowly getting back to normal, following the long national nightmare called the Tea Party (which has expired), the general election may as a result become more competitive. It will be more difficult for Democrats to keep the White House if the extremists no longer have a grip on the GOP. While this is good news for the nation, where a functioning two-party system is essential to getting things done; it will make it virtually impossible for a self-proclaimed "socialist" to become president.

Bernie's great - and his points perfectly aligned with many of the themes in this blog - but the opposition party, masters of smoke-and-mirrors, will destroy him in the general election.

Any Democrat who's been paying attention over the last seven years will know exactly what I'm talking about.

Hillary has had crap thrown at her - in a sustained way, on a national level - for decades. Yet, she remains standing. And, when she managed finally to pull herself away from politics, she dedicated four years working with President Obama to mend our global relationships. A daunting task, considering how the previous disaster of a president left things. (Very much like the Confederates left Richmond.) Her time at State alone should qualify her for the White House.

Avoid the shiny objects. The GOP desperately want to win this one.

Be forewarned.


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UPDATE 02/06/2016 : On blaming Hillary for DADT and DOMA... or questioning her LGBT bonafides...

Horrible as they were, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the "Defense of Marriage Act" - both enacted into law by President Bill Clinton (not Hillary) - were essential to the victories that were later clinched by the gay rights movement. The level of pandering and revisionism going on about this is disappointing. 
  • DADT: The passage of DADT signaled that America had moved on from pretending it had a total ban on gays in the military. This was progressive then, believe it or not. Gradually though, we witnessed - under this policy - friends and family of gay servicemembers (including a star of MTV's "The Real World"), having to deal with these bizarre double lives: "How was your weekend?" "Oh, uh, great... My wife and I went to Fire Is.., I mean Long Island." Ultimately, this law allowed the nation to see - especially after 911 and our long wars - the heavy toll the ban on "talking about" gays was placing on unit cohesion. [Incidentally, DADT also helped pave the way for women in combat, as it exposed how both gays and women had for years been denied full military careers for the same bogus reason: that they were supposed "distractions."] 
  • DOMA: Happily, a distant memory. The passage of DOMA - which President Clinton called "unnecessary and divisive" (1996) - at least helped put a big fat spotlight on the discriminatory nature of the thousands of federal benefits and protections that had long been denied to committed same-sex couples. The GOP were just getting started using the LGBT community as their preferred "wedge issue" back then. DOMA, considering no gay marriages would occur in the US for another decade, was tame. The injustices brought on by this law would later pave the way for national marriage equality faster than most people ever anticipated.
None of this would have been known - or no minds changed - had these two laws not been passed. There's not much to blame here. As far as Secretary Clinton's LGBT credentials... see video above. That was monumental. Hillary knows well the importance of the "constellation of conversations" (a phrase she coined in this speech) - for all issues, not just gay rights - and how it can pave the way to lasting change. 

In spite of the decades-later quarterbacking, a push for full LGBT equality in the 90s - when neither the nation nor the movement was ready - would have resulted in no laws at all. Incrementalism, with a focus on that long game, is the only reasonable way to govern in such a diverse nation. It happens also to be the approach that best honors the Founding Fathers.

Remember, while Dr. King stressed the "fierce urgency of now," he had the wisdom also to understand that the "arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."


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UPDATE 02/09/2016 : After New Hampshire...

Congratulations to Senator Sanders. Onward to Nevada and South Carolina, and the rest of this very diverse nation, ahead. They are anxious to make their voices heard.

To the Clinton campaign.. Memos like the one released after today's primary do nothing to gain you new supporters. Seriously, you ought to reconsider the aggressive knee-jerk approach. The path to the nomination needs to be organic.


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UPDATE 02/20/2016 : After Nevada...

The beginning of the beginning. Congratulations to the Clinton Campaign for a resounding win in a state that much more closely looks like the rest of America.

As far as Senator Sanders' recent critique of the Obama Administration. One thing he cited as an issue he had with the president was his allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to be extended (in December 2010). Well, this is demonstrative of just how much Bernie doesn't understand the "long game" POTUS has been playing since 2009. The extension of those tax cuts was unquestionably temporary (and they indeed expired at the start of 2012). However, had those tax cuts not been extended, a large chunk of the Obama Agenda - including the end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" - would not have been enacted.

Bernie's inability to not pander is his fatal flaw... and why - as I said up top - he is no Barack.


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UPDATE 02/27/2016 : After South Carolina...

The Clinton Campaign is heading towards Super Tuesday (March 1) with a nice amount of momentum. Great. For Democrats, this unifying victory adds sharp contrast to the embarrassing mess in which the Republicans are currently finding themselves. Good luck to their side. Because, as Secretary Clinton just said in her moving SC victory speech, "we're all in this together."


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UPDATE 03/09/2016 : After Super Tuesday II and the surprise Michigan results...

Congratulations to Senator Sanders, whose victory in the gigantic and diverse state of Michigan proves he has the strength to continue and win in some key large states. This win bolsters the argument for him to become, eventually, Hillary Clinton's running mate. With the GOP seemingly stuck with Donald Trump, Sanders as VP looks like a double-winning ticket.

Now, this can happen only if Bernie and Hillary supporters continue to get along. Even Bernie has started repeating one of Hillary's phrases, "we're all in this together." We certainly are.

Now, a quick note about turnout.

We've been hearing the same blabber across most media outlets - that low turnout in the primaries spells trouble for Democrats in November. This is utter nonsense and typical of the shallow analyses we see too often in cable news. Political science experts see it differently. Lower turnout is expected in primary elections, even presidential ones and has nothing to do with turnout in the general election. People turnout in the primaries if they are angry or looking for major change. Thanks to President Obama, the majority of "everyday" Democrats, who plan to vote in the general election are neither. 

Exactly one piece, from NPR, provides an educated explanation behind turnout. Other outlets should be embarrassed.

Here's one of those experts (from the NPR piece):
"So there are two reasons why voters will turn out to vote. One reason is if the election is competitive. The other reason why voters will participate is when they see meaningful policy differences among the candidates. And so far when we look through the exit polls, Democrats are by and large satisfied with the two choices that they have. Most Democrats, about 70 percent or so, say that they would be satisfied with whichever candidate - Clinton or Sanders -  if they go on to win the nomination." Professor Michael McDonald, University of Florida
We are out there. Watching. Waiting. And, come November, we will show up in droves - for Hillary or Bernie - to protect, defend, and expand upon the "change we can believe in."


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UPDATE 03/10/2016 : Before Florida, and a note about deportations...

Throughout the Obama Administration, there has been an increase in the intensity of deportations in the United States.

It is important to note that this strategy was put in place to make a point. As I mention here, enforcing unjust laws is the best way to expose the need to change them. But, it is as important to point out this approach only works when lawmakers on both sides are earnest in their pursuit of a solution.

The president's deportation strategy was meant to restart the debate (halted in 2007), and lead to bipartisan compromise, and ultimately to the passage of immigration reform, and amnesty. While it passed in the Senate in 2013, the House - controlled by the GOP at the time - stopped it dead in its tracks.

As Secretary Clinton noted in today's CNN/Univision debate (in Miami) - in light of the "just say no" Republicans - it is time to change the deportation strategy. The point to make clear to America, which Clinton made at this debate, is that the border is secure. Border crossings have been at their lowest levels in years. Yet, the Republicans - led by Trump and "that f-cking wall" - are using smoke and mirrors to derail reform over a fabricated notion of an insecure border. We know the real reason their base is freaked out is something more sinister, and rooted in xenophobia.

One good thing has come out of the increased deportations. It is an outcome consistent with the way Mr. Obama has played the long game. The deportations have motivated a huge base of activists, who are now hyper focused on this issue, and on ultimate victory. For this, history will eventually (and rightfully) give credit to President Obama.


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UPDATE 04/09/2016 : Here's an important piece by New York Times' Paul Krugman, who says essentially the same thing about Senator Sanders. 
"And this absence of substance beyond the slogans seems to be true of his positions across the board." - Paul Krugman
The article is currently 'most emailed.'

Ready for Her.


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UPDATE 07/29/2016 : After the Democratic National Convention....

Not much to add after that breathtaking celebration of being not only an American, but a Democrat. Congrats and Godspeed to Clinton/Kaine on these next 100 or so days until the November 8 general election.

Hillary Clinton just concluded an early evening speech in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. She did an incredible job explaining what her campaign is all about. Save one issue, which I'll get to, it was pitch perfect. Her campaign builds on the victories over the last eight years, and gloriously reintroduces the idea of "green collar jobs."

The issue? Adding a reference to the last eight years of Republican obstruction, including with this latest Supreme Court hijacking, would give context to the anger people are feeling with DC. Congress did that intentionally to sabotage the recovery, to sabotage President Obama.

I hope she makes that clear over the next three months. Perhaps Trump's folks will realize they're angry with the wrong party.