Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Name Is Hillary. It's How We Refer To Our Celebrities.

Steve M. notes that an aide to Texas Senator Ted Cruz admits his boss (who wouldn't mind being president) is sponsoring numerous bills about Israel primarily to embarrass Senator Rand Paul, a rival who is anxious to become President.  With Cruz describing his foreign policy perspective as "the sweet spot" between that of Senator McCain and of Senator Paul, Steve-O concludes "suckers vote for Cruz."
Democrats have their own politicians blowing smoke up voters' posterior. The U.S. Representative who with his identical twin brother Julian is often described as a "rising star in Texas Democratic politics" 
is endorsing Hillary Clinton through an email sent out by the low-dollar super PAC looking to galvanize support for a candidacy in 2016.
Castro made the endorsement in an email that Ready for Hillary sent out Monday, which was obtained by POLITICO.
“There’s no doubt about it: Hillary is the best person to be our 45th president,” Castro writes in the email.
“Hillary has always been a tireless advocate for working families — she’s never ceased to make sure everybody has a fair shot at achieving the American Dream,” he writes.
“Hillary’s the leader I want to see moving into the White House in two years,” he says.
“She hasn’t announced yet that she’s running in 2016, but Hillary needs to know that if she does, millions of grassroots supporters like you will be standing proudly by her side.
You and I both know Hillary would do amazing things as U.S. President — but it’s up to us to make these early moments count.”
There is no doubt about something, but it isn't that "Hillary" is the best person to be our 45th president. Actually, there is a lot of doubt about it.
But there is no doubt that "Hillary" does not need further affirmation of her standing as the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.   It could be the Ready for Hillary SuperPac (items for sale from its Facebook page, below) which, CNN reports, "has held over 500 events across the country -- the majority of which were in early presidential primary and caucus states. All of those names, emails and phone numbers, along with some other details, go into the Ready for Hillary voter file."  

Or it could be the 60 Democratic members of Congress (19 Senators and 41 Representatives) who already have endorsed "Hillary." While twenty-three have done so publicly, 37 have told The Hill they're backing the former Senator and Secretary of State.
Were it that Mrs. Clinton "needs to know if she does run, millions of grassroots supporters.. will be standing proudly by her side," it would have been a year or so ago.
But wait!  It was nearly 16 months ago that RedState contributor Myra Adams- a conservative not inclined favorably toward the Clintons- detailed sixteen reasons she believed Hillary Clinton would be elected President in 2016.  And Adams did so without even mentioning that in our celebrity culture, "Hillary" has become the greatest living political celebrity other than her husband. 
In the National Football League, despite its numerous faults, teams matter more than players. It is not Payton, Tom, Marshawn, Richard," or even J.J.  It's Payton Manning, Tom Brady, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, and even J.J. Watt, probably the best player in the game (who could so cutely be called "J.J."). However, in the celebrity- and personality- driven National Basketball Association, it was "Michael" (Jordan), then "Kobe" (Bryant), now "Lebron" (James).    And now it is "Hillary."
Astonishingly- no, unfortunately, it's not astonishing- that, as The Hill explains, "of Clinton’s supporters in Congress, 11 endorsed Obama over Clinton in the 2008 primary. They include Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.)."  Representative Davis even admitted "I would jump off the Willis Tower, which is the tallest building in Chicago, to support Hillary Clinton," which suggests either blind allegiance or disturbingly little regard for human life.
Grijalva added "I was happy to support Barack Obama, and I'm happy to support Hillary Clinton." Perhaps someone should ask him about record-breaking prosecution of whistleblowers. Or spying on the American people. Or card check (remember that?). Or not prosecuting any top executive for his/her role in the most severe financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Or the federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. Or the "grand bargain," which would have cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  Or endless war in the Middle East.  The examples themselves are nearly endless.
But that's not what it's all about, as Democrats are reluctant to acknowledge and Republicans fearful of charging. Over fifteen months before the Iowa caucus, before "Hillary"- or any Democrat- has announced for the presidency, over a third of the Senate Democratic caucus has seen starbursts, felt a tingle up his/her leg, or decided for reasons of ambition to endorse the party's probable presidential nominee. The outpouring has been simultaneously extraordinary.... and pathetic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Or Perhaps The Guillotine

A week and a half ago, Irin Carmon tweeted "credit to @kevin NR for openly taking abortion=homicide view to its logical conclusion (death penalty for women)."

In a twitter conversation of September 28, Williamson recommends "treating abortion like as homicide" and argues we should "address the entire criminal architecture," suggesting capital punishment for all hospital staff involved in the procedure. And hanging is his preferred means of execution.

This, of course, prompted a strong reaction.  Salon's Jim Newell wrote

As ugly as it sounds, Williamson’s position, as Irin Carmon tweeted, is the logically consistent pro-life position. If you believe abortion is murder, then the law should charge those who get abortions with murder and subject them to life-in-prison or capital punishment, depending on a jurisdiction’s homicide sentencing guidelines. Or perhaps, since it’s doctors performing the abortions, “merely” charges of conspiracy to murder or whatever. Those who think that abortion is murder but don’t feel that the woman who has an abortion should face homicide charges should ask themselves, Why?

Let’s take another “hard” pro-life position that is at once extreme and logically consistent: the idea that women shouldn’t even be allowed to have abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. So many politicians label themselves pro-life but allow for these exceptions, and these are the exceptions for which the Hyde Amendment allows federal Medicaid funds to cover abortions.

It's understandable, as Newell concedes, that some pro-life advocates accept abortion when the prospective mother's life is in danger, given that the continuance of a life other than that of the fetus' is involved.  A fair trade-off may be made. But pro-life folks might accept abortion also in case of rape or incest because the woman emerges as the victim.

In fact, some anti-abortion rights activists have claimed women should not be prosecuted because they are victims of... victims of whatever; it makes no sense but conservatives have an odd perception of victimization.  In either case, a woman who has been raped or the object of incest is a victim of a horrendous crime.

Nonetheless, Newell- and Carmon- are right to maintain that Williamson's support for prosecuting the prospective mother is the only logical position for the pro-choice crowd.  If abortion were illegal, she will have participated in a murder and should be charged, as Newell understands, with "conspiracy to murder" or "accessory to murder charges.  Or perhaps she ought to be charged with murder itself, as is virtually anyone else who has paid to have someone killed.

Still, Williamson's sincerity can be questioned.  Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs recognizes the "agenda (of many conservatives) is to roll back all progress on women's rights. But he belies a misunderstanding when in reply to Williamson's response, he tweets "it's telling that you advocate hanging instead of a more humane method of execution. Reveals serious animus."

It reveals animus, but a lack of seriousness.  If abortion is banned (chart below from New York magazine) and women prosecuted, the latter can at most be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which is not likely to include the death penalty and surely not hanging.

But that's how it is when people are outraged and react emotionally.  For men, at least, it's rip out their gonads, beat the crap out of them, or hang 'em high. It's not prosecuting someone fully with the aim of life without parole or execution in accordance with the law.

Admittedly, most conservatives can't afford to be serious about this. They can call for charging with murder the doctor; or the doctor and the hospital employees tangentially involved, as does Williamson. However, they cannot call for charging the woman with murder.  For if they did, there no longer would be a rough balance between pro-life and pro-choice activists and sympathizers in the nation.  Instead, the anti-abortion rights movement would be blown up or, alternatively, endure a slow, agonizing death.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

We May Have That Itch Again

In a recent NBC News/The Wall Street Journal poll, 1283 registered voters were surveyed on a variety of issues.  The most interesting and evidently important question was

If it were determined by the military commanders that the best way to defeat the ISIS army was to use American military troops on the ground, would you be in favor of this decision or would be in opposition to this decision, or do you really not have an opinion one way or the other?

The results were, at first glance, stunning:

In favor of American military troops on the ground …………….. 45
Opposed to American military forces on the ground…………… 37
No opinion either way…………………………..………………….. 16
Not sure……………………………………………………………. 2

This would seem to be an extraordinary result, a finding that most Americans with an opinion, if it became U.S. policy, would support American soldiers yet again being sent into combat- and that without the inevitable groundwork which policymakers and others would lay.

But upon further reflection, one ought not to be surprised. The pollsters skewed the results in the direction of a favorable response in two ways.  Although not the obvious takeaway, using ISIS as an adjective- "ISIS army"- rather than as a noun ("ISIS") adds an element previously unknown.  Is ISIS an "army" in any conventional sense? No one (else) has suggested it is, and we Americans are accustomed to defeating an army rather than getting bogged down fighting terrorists, an elusive bunch.

More obviously, there is no more effective way to prompt an affirmative response than to precede the question with the predicate "if it were determined by the military commanders that the best way to defeat..."

Americans have a difficult time questioning the uniform (suggesting that if Colin Powell had ever run for President and somehow been nominated by the GOP, he would have been extremely difficult to beat, even though he is evidently a con man or a sucker).  It is as if pollsters last year had asked "Do you support a cut in food stamp benefits, even though it would leave millions of children hungry?" That would be an interesting poll- with predictable results.

But on another level, the question does have basis in reality.  Already, there have been military men suggesting that ISIS cannot be defeated without soldiers on the ground.  And if the President were to announce that Americans were being sent to the Middle East to fight, surely he would claim the support of the brass, which would present a united front to the public. Nervous Nellies (nervous nellies?) would not be tolerated, lest they would go the way of General McChrystal. (The military is still subservient to the civilian branch of government, at least in theory.)

Nonetheless, there still is a disquieting impulse among the populace to do it all over again.  Reacting generally to the war footing, rather than specifically to this survey, Digby comments

And frankly, I'm almost as disgusted that the American people continue to be thrilled at the prospect of kicking ass over some trumped up threat --- and yes, I do believe that a whole lot of us are anxious to get back to the business of ass-kicking. It's much more exciting than thinking about the wealthy elites stealing more and more of your meager earnings. But it's a dangerous and nasty way to entertain ourselves out of a nasty malaise.

And in memory of simpler, less complicated,  times, here is Tom Paxton in 1980 singing about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a resulting Olympic boycott:

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