Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Last Call For Defending The Wrong War, Again

Everything you need to know about the conservative Republican position on the Confederate flag still as part of state governments in 2015 is summed up by Bloody Bill Kristol:

Because defending the Iraq War wasn't bad enough, now they're defending the Confederacy in the Civil War.

And yet they continue to be baffled as to why black voters don't flock to the GOP.

Trading One Democrat For Another

Over at Salon (I know, I'm asking for it, but the concept is worth bringing to you to discuss) Bill Curry argues that when the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal passes with Hillary Clinton's support, Democrats will abandon both her and President Obama and turn to Bernie Sanders as the party's populist, anti-Wall Street savior.

After eight years of Obama, I’m not sure Clinton can run that race, or that anyone can. I don’t think she can enlist Wall Street oligarchs and recruit an army of dewy-eyed volunteers. Above all, I don’t think she can spout populist rhetoric without any policy specifics to back it up. Clinton insiders also ingratiate themselves to reporters by dishing about her need to seem more authentic. Someone should tell them it’s hard to seem real when you won’t tell people what you really think.

A bigger problem for Clinton may be that we know what she thinks. Her platform is like Obama’s trade deal; she won’t say what’s in it, but we can easily guess. It isn’t populism and it isn’t reform. The TPP? She never met a trade deal she didn’t like. The minimum wage? She and Obama let McDonald’s get the drop on them. The surveillance state? Her handling of her emails told us all we need to know of her views on transparency. More war in Iraq? For 12 years as a senator and secretary of state she was John McCain’s best friend. If she gets to be commander in chief, get ready to rumble.

She’s weakest on the sleeper issue of 2016: public corruption and the general debasement of politics and government. Voter disgust is so deep even consultants who make their real livings off corporate clients tell their political clients to talk about it. In her speech Clinton vowed to “wage and win four fights for you.” The first three were jobs, families and national security. The fourth was “reforming our government and revitalizing our democracy.” She vowed to overturn Citizens United and fight GOP efforts to disenfranchise the young, the poor and people of color, but then drifted off onto technology and cutting waste. Unlike nearly every Republican announcing for president, she never mentioned ethics or corruption.

Democratic elites don’t want to hear it but Hillary Clinton’s in trouble. It isn’t in all the data yet though you can find it if you look. In a straw poll taken in early June at a Wisconsin Democratic convention she edged out Bernie Sanders by just 8 points, 49% to 41%. In a poll of N.H. primary voters this week she beat Sanders by 41% to 31%. An Ohio poll had her in a dead heat with the likes of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. If Sanders can poll 40% in a Wisconsin straw poll in June he can do it an Iowa caucus in January. Imagine a Hillary Clinton who just lost Iowa and New Hampshire to Bernie Sanders. It’s still hard to picture but it gets easier every day.

You don’t win your next race running someone else’s last one. Trying to do so, Clinton repeats her big mistake of 2008: not sensing the times. There are smaller changes she can make right now: hire better speech writers, including at least one with a sense of humor; put her family foundation under independent management; tell her husband to stop giving speeches or else start talking for free. But her whole campaign model is wrong. ‘Clinton Democrats’ hate to admit there are issues you can’t finesse or that they must ever choose between the middle class and the donor class. Clinton better figure it out now. When the data’s all in it will be too late.

Clinton resists change. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in either party who seems to feel the tectonic plates of our politics shifting, perhaps because he’s expected the change for so long. His is still an improbable candidacy, but less improbable than it was a month or even a week ago. If he clears out the second tier, his battle with Hillary could become epic, forcing not just her but the Democratic Party to choose between the middle class and the donor class; between corporate and democratic rule; the battle over trade carried over into a presidential election.

There's a kernel of truth to all of that.  I've taken plenty of swings at the Clinton-era presidency pinata over pro-corporatist legislation that Big Dog signed that 15 or 20 years later served as the base of the implosion of our economy. The Clintons play an ugly game, and they play it to win.  President Obama at times plays that game too and he wins as well, but he's capable of winning as a liberal also and doing the right thing in the process.

At the same time, I can't say that Bermie Sanders doesn't have his baggage either.  I feel about Sanders the way I did about Joe Biden in 2007-2008: a nice guy, a proven liberal with a strong track record, but Delaware remains the US equivalent of a flag of convenience for corporate America and the credit card industry and Biden's record on those issues is pretty glaring.

It's the same with Bernie and Vermont.  It's the whitest state in the nation and Sanders has a real problem with perception of how he addresses black and Latino voters.  As with Biden, I think Sanders would make an outstanding VP.

No, the TPP is not going to cause a groundswell to support Bernie any more than any other issue. Clinton still leads him by 60 points and to pretend otherwise is moronic. Saying there's a hidden well of support for Sanders may or may not be true, but you can't say that and then say "well polls this early are meaningless."

Curry's emoprog tripe is cute, but it's not going to change a thing.

The Other Side: Flagging Approval

Yesterday SC GOP Gov. Nikki Haley, flanked by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, GOP Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham and Democratic House stalwart James Clyburn, called for the state's legislature to take down the Confederate flag on the grounds of the State Capitol, something that would require a two-thirds vote to do thanks to legislation passed in 2000.

Our old friend Jazz Shaw disapproves of this immensely.

Some years ago, as I’ve noted in the past, our Red State colleague Erick Erickson penned a column on a completely different subject titled You Will Be Made to Care. Erick was talking about gay marriage, but what he described was the the ever present mode of operation for the modern American Left. It’s not enough to disagree with someone when there is a difference of opinion on social issues, government policy or even the color of the sky. It’s not even sufficient to shut down the conversation, as Guy and Mary Katharine so aptly identified in End of Discussion. Those who dissent must be forced to bend a knee and participate. 
We’re seeing the same thing today in the newly reignited, perpetual debate over the Confederate Battle Flag. Many Southern families still feel a strong association with the stars and bars even though they live in an era when everyone has written off slavery as an evil in our past which was engaged in by the male, landed gentry from both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. They remember that the civil war was far more than some hotly debated policy discussion over slavery. (Though that was obviously a part of it.) They recall how the North used their enormous industrial advantage to craft policies which created hardship for the more agricultural South and drained them of their wealth. They know the family stories about how the North built up a huge population advantage and curried that into an electoral hammer they could use to write the rules in their own favor. They remember that and much more. 
Other Southern families may not even dwell on those concerns, but they know the pride they feel in the South. They know that their ancestors fought and died for what they, at the time, believed in and stood to defend their loved ones and their homes. And well into the modern era they have felt the sting of the constant derision from the North. Southerners talk slow, so they must be stupid. They are backward. They are ignorant rednecks. What a shame they can’t be as elite and as enlightened as their northern cousins. The fact is, they just don’t fit into proper modern America. Isn’t it a shame? This remains one of the few politically correct topics of “humor” in comedy shows. You can always make fun of the rednecks who speak with a Southern drawl. 
But these same people retain a modern pride in the heritage of their region. I frequently travel to various states in the warmer climes and constantly see signs and bumper stickers which proudly declare that the owner is American by birth, but is Southern by the Grace of God. 
But in keeping with liberal theory, we must eliminate some piece of cloth that reminds them of their heritage, even if it has nothing to do with racism or slavery in their minds. It does to us! That requires a trigger warning, mister, and you didn’t provide us with a safe space!

Now, I figure Jazz is blowing off a lot of steam or something, because frankly, otherwise, this is wholly offensive.  I grew up in North Carolina, I watched the Dukes of Hazzard growing up, with the General Lee and its Confederate battle flag roof paint job, and knew plenty of folks who were wonderful people who despised slavery, as he says, and proudly saw the flag as a symbol of Southern pride, along with NASCAR and ACC and SEC college sports, Bojangles' chicken, Mountain Dew and Cheerwine sodas, and cotillions and Boy Scout camping trips into the woods.

And yes, southerners are damn good people.  I am one of them, black, and American, and from the South.  But I also learned what the flag meant, and where it came from, and why South Carolina, and North Carolina, and Kentucky where I live now did to preserve slavery, resulting in a war that killed hundreds of thousands.  I also learned about June 19th, the day Lincoln freed the slaves, Juneteenth. The 150th anniversary of that date came the same week Dylann Roof allegedly killed nine people for the crime of being black.

The flag was raised in 1961 as a direct response to the civil rights era, as a giant "screw you" to black America and those who were fighting to stop Jim Crow and to win equality for people who looked like me.  That flag is a part of the history of the US, and that's why it belongs in a museum, not the grounds of the state capitol building.

Wal-Mart and Sears are going to pull Confederate flag merchandise from their stores, and even Mississippi, whose state flag actually still has the Confederate emblem in the upper left corner, is now openly discussing changing that as well.

You're on the wrong side of an ugly history, Jazz.  Time to let it go.


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